Tuesday, May 26, 2009

training May 24th-30th

5/24- Hoped to do 7 easy but had to quit after 5. Pace slowed considerably in the 2nd half. Finished in 41:30 (8:15 pace) but was fading to 8:40 by the time I finished. I overdid it on the chromium. This was my last run at Metro Fitness gym in Montgomery. I do have some fond memories of that gym.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=5.0
5/25- Good interval workout at Mountain Brook High. 400-90, 800-3:00, 1200-4:35, 1200-4:38, 800-3:01, 400-72. I was shooting for an overall 6 minute pace and my fast finish brought me in at 5:59. When I do this workout again, I hope to stay under 4:30 for the 1200s and finish in 70 or under. If I can do that, I think I am capable of a low-19 5K and a low 5:20s mile.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=4.0
5/26- 7 miles easy at Lakeshore. Time was 56:20 (8:03 pace). I'll take it in humid conditions. Pretty even splits of 28:03/28:17 and made no real attempt to pick up the pace.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=7.0
5/27-Trak Shak 8 miler @ 8:10 pace. Solid effort considering the hilly course. It was great to run with a group again. It almost feels like I'm back on a team. My body is sore but this is "good soreness" from hard training and feels very different from chemical imbalances. I know that difference well. Pace picked up toward the end and I was feeling the effort. Ran mostly with Preston from RWOL. Maybe another quality day tomorrow then I'll rest Friday.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=8.0
5/28- Veteran's Park 4 mile tempo run, 6 laps around the lake in 27:53 (6:58 pace). Took off at 6:40 pace on the first lap but could not sustain it without putting forth race effort. Slipped to a 7:06 pace in the second half but still had enough left at the end to finish under 7 overall. Generally flat course but it does have one gentle incline and one short but steep hill that throws off your rhythm. Solid effort overall and didn't feel too beat up afterward. I took manganese and no chromium today and think I will alternate the 2 and see how that works for me.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=5.0 (long warm down).
5/29-planned rest day. I feel strong enough to run today but I've run 7 straight days and should take a day off. A good long run will put me over 40 this week so I'll still live up to my name.
5/30- Good long run as planned. 11.5 miles @ 8:13 with hills. Ran with Scott and John from Christian Runners. Pace actually felt too easy towards the end but I was fresh after my day off yesterday. Felt strong and fresh all the way through and hit sub-5 pace in a late sprint at the end. 1/2 mile cool down at Hoover HS to make it an even 12.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=12.0
Weekly summary: Every week over a 3.0 is a good one. Overall, not quite as good as last week but I'm still pleased.
Distance= 41.0. GPA: 31.3/10 credits= 3.130

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jubilee City Fest 8K race report

Background: I am 2 weeks removed from a marathon but recovered far faster than expected. I was back 100% within about a week. 5 days earlier, I used the emotions of my first day on a new job in my favor to an unofficial 5 mile PR in 33:36. I knew that I would be hard pressed to beat it on this course and simply hoped for a sub-34. I left Hoover Friday after work and treated myself to a steak dinner before heading down to Montgomery. I still have a lease on my apartment there until the end of the month but plan on moving the rest of my stuff out this weekend. The advantage was that I would not have to get up super early to get there on time.
Race day: Felt good when I woke up and headed to town with plenty of time to spare. I felt strong warming up but was wary of some nasty weather approaching from the south. Fortunately, the worst of it held off until after it was over. Much of the race was run in a light rain with temps around 70 degrees. No big deal. I've run in much worse conditions before. I opted for a tank top and cap, which proved to be a smart decision.
Course: I would rate this one as a 6 in terms of difficulty on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being most difficult. In other words, not a PR course but not impossible to run a fast time if you have your best stuff. It had 3 nasty hills. The first lasted from about 0.5 to the first mile marker then one at 1.5 and another just after the 2 miler mark. The finish would be downhill and provided the opportunity to make up some time. A negative split is to be expected.
Race: I lined up in the front row and chatted a bit with another runner and explained the course that I had run the previous year. He thanked me afterward. We took off and I wanted a fast start because I knew that the uphills would slow me down. I was out in just under 6:00 pace in the first quarter mile, which was slightly downhill and dialed it back just a hair but not much. I would hit the half mile in 3:08 then came the hill up to the State Capitol building. I held my position but could not help that my pace was slowing. I kept the effort even but came through the first mile in 6:51. That's about where I wanted to be at this stage. If I could keep the next 2 miles under 7, I might have a shot at a PR. After the mile marker, we hit a brief downhill and I used it to recover then we hit a brief flat section. My pace was good but was beginning to feel the lactic acid buildup already. That was not a good sign. Heading up the longest hill of the race, I passed one and got passed by one while keeping the effort even. We hit a short downhill just before the 2nd mile marker but it was not long enough to recover and there would be no rest for the weary up ahead. My 2nd mile was just over 7 but still not bad and still on target. The 3rd mile would be my slowest of the race. We had finished most of the uphills but there were no significant declines in which to recover. The highest elevation point came roughly at the halfway point, which I passed in about 17:30. It seemed unlikely that I could run a full minute faster in the 2nd half but I knew that I would beat last year's time of 34:41. I saw an older man whom I had beaten with my finishing kick last year. I figured that he remembered me and really wanted to beat me this time. We would exchange places several times over the next 2 miles before I claimed the lead for good with 3/4 of mile to go. My split at the 3 mile mark was over 21. I did not feel good about it and my breathing had been labored since the 2nd mile. Fortunately, the course had leveled off and mile 4 may have been slightly downhill. I managed to pick up the pace and came through mile 4 just over 28 with lots of downhill to go. Last year, I ran the last mile close to 6 flat but I didn't feel that I had as much left this time. Initially, the last mile was gently downhill and I could tell that my pace had increased but according to my Garmin, I was only doing about 6:20-6:30. With just over a half mile to go, we hit a small uphill and I pushed it as hard as I could. I was gaining on another competitor but I was probably too far back to catch him. At the top, it would be a long straightaway to the finish and the banner was in my view, such a pleasant sight. This downhill stretch was fairly steep and I was moving well. With about 100 yards to go, I had a chance to pass somebody so I shifted into overdrive and caught him with about 30 yards to go. When I first saw the clock, it read 33:56 so I made a desperate drive to the line and yelled "Dang it!" when I didn't quite make it under 34. I had begun my all out kick just a hair too late. Funny thing, my watch read 34:00.91 and the results were not posted but I placed in my age group. The announcer called out my time as 33:48. In any event, it was a very good performance overall and probably just as good as my time trial. I could have made up that 5 seconds per mile on a flat course. Runners know that you can never gain as much on a downhill as you lose on an uphill. In the time trial, my energy was almost limitless and felt that I could have gone all day. However, today I showed a lot more heart in battling through the pain in the last 3.5 miles. I'll call it a 34-flat, which is my 2nd best time ever. I would not rate this as "excellent" but still "very good." If I were grading myself today, it would be an A minus.
5:57/34:00 (downhill)
Aftermath: My calf was screaming at me at the finish line but the rest of my body didn't feel too beat up. It did loosen up a bit after a 2 mile cool down jog. I did see a couple of old friends and got to meet LA Runner from Runner's World Online. I enjoy this race and will likely be back in the future but am glad that I live in Birmingham now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

training May 17th-23rd (race week)

5/17- easy 5 at Vestavia Hills track. Time was a good 37:56 with fairly even splits of 18:52-19:04. This would be an "A" if it was based solely on time but on easy days, my basis is primarily how I felt. I had a minor calf cramp at the end and some stiffness but still felt good overall. Low on chromium but can't be too aggressive with it because of the thyroid issue.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=5.0
5/18- first day on the new job, really have a good feeling about it and used those emotions in my favor today. 5 mile time trial on Lakeshore Drive in 33:36 (6:43 pace) PR by 42 seconds. Went out hard at the beginning (3:12 first half mile) and never really slowed down. Could have been even faster if not for some GI issues in the last half mile. Almost limitless energy today. Man, why didn't I feel this well on marathon race day? I could have broken 3:30. 1st half in 16:35 then held on for a 17:01 finish (2nd half was slightly uphill). 8K race on Saturday on a tough course. Goal is a sub-34, which may be good for a top 10 finish.
Grade:A+/3 credits/distance=5.5
5/19- 10 miles in 77:55 (7:48 pace). After starting too fast, miles 2-10 were all between 7:45-7:50. Maybe a little fast on an easy day but I never felt uncomfortable. Splits were 38:50/39:05 and skewed by a fast start so that's pretty even. I wasn't done after that. Cruised a 200 in 41 then sprinted another one in a strong time of 32.4 seconds. The speed is still there. This week is heavily front loaded because of my race on Saturday. Thurs will be easy, Friday will be a rest day. I feel great overall. "You're in the groove. Keep pushing."
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=10.5
5/20- Trak Shak 5 miler @ 7:20 pace. 3 straight quality workouts and my body feels a bit beat up but not too horrible. 1 mile cool down afterwards. I've earned an easy day followed by a rest day. Saw some old friends too. With these workouts, I am living up to my name.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=6.0
5/21-3 miles of junk running at Veteran's Park in Inverness. Time was 24:21 (8:07 pace). I stopped several times prior to changing directions. Didn't push it but didn't feel very well. I didn't expect to do well and was not disappointed. This was just a recovery run and I should be somewhat refreshed tomorrow and fully fresh on race day.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=3.0
5/22- earned a rest day.
5/23- Jubilee City Fest 8K in 34:00 plus long cool down.
Grade:A-/4 credits/distance=7.5
Weekly summary: Very good week overall, running wise and otherwise. I hope to stay in the groove and run some fast 5Ks this summer. Training will shift to more emphasis on speed.
Distance=37.5/Weekly GPA= 47/13 credits= 3.615

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rant: entry level job hunting

This post was written before the worst of the economic downturn and I have since become thankful to have a job that allows me to pay my bills. After a nearly 6 months of back and forth in which my status changed from no to yes to probably to maybe, I now have a new job. I will be a Revenue Examiner in Birmingham, Alabama. Praise God. This was first written after I was initially told of a rejection and felt that the selection process was grossly unfair. I stand by much of what I have written. Please don't condemn me for a bad attitude. I hate job interviews but I should not have to go through it again for a very long time.
Many readers of my website and blog have reported being inspired by my positive attitude in spite of difficult circumstances. I try to be as positive as I can with my posts but after another crushing rejection, today will be the exception. Looking for a job is one of the most dehumanizing things that a person ever has to do. Those of you that know me well can tell simply by looking whether I am feeling good, bad or somewhere in between. Heck, I even overheard my best friend’s father once say “Justin looks really bad.” In a job interview, you are under a microscope and every detail is closely scrutinized. In the few interviews that I got in the months after the energy crash, I had no chance at all because the employers certainly knew that there was something wrong. Actually, I was in no condition to do any of those jobs and probably would have ended up fired if I got an offer. The biggest obstacle to getting a decent job is inexperience. Simply working a full-time job for 2+ years and having a Clemson MBA are not enough. You must have experience with many of the same job duties and/or work in a similar industry. If more than 3 months pass before getting a job, the attitude is often “What is wrong with this guy? x months and he doesn’t have a job in his field. Something must be wrong.” If the candidate can get an interview, the most likely result is the same as before. The candidate is rejected because of inexperience. These idiots don’t seem to understand that a candidate must be hired at some point to gain experience. My least favorite interview question was as follows: “You graduated in May of ’05, what have you been doing since?” Simply looking for a job doesn’t cut it. What if I told the truth? “I had a breakdown shortly after graduation and ended up on anti-depressants and still have had little relief from my symptoms.” That’s suicide. If I did not stretch the truth and if I made any mention of my illness, I may never have landed any job. How about this one? What was your greatest work related accomplishment? Avoiding keying errors is not very impressive but that is the only accomplishment possible in my job.
If every employer had a 2 year experience requirement, no college graduate could ever get a job. One person told me off the record that he doesn’t like to hire new graduates not only because of their inexperience but because they are “so darn immature.” That may be true. However, imagine what would happen if a hiring manager publicly made generalizations about those over the age of 50. They would certainly face an age discrimination lawsuit. As long as any form of prejudice exists in our society, there will be discrimination but unless the manager is stupid enough to say that his/her prejudice was the reason that a candidate was rejected, nothing will happen. There is one explanation for rejection that I dislike more than the experience requirement. “Your personality type is not the right fit for our organization.” Is this a workplace or a fraternity house? True, if a person comes off as arrogant and offensive in an interview, then a legitimate case can be made but I can say with certainty that very few would draw that conclusion about me. Upwards of 80% of job vacancies are never advertised but filled through a friend or acquaintance. So, if “Mr. Popularity” cruises through college with average grades, he is likely to have an easier time finding work than somebody who tries their best, makes good grades but may not have as many friends in high places because his/her personality happens to be a bit on the introverted side. I work in State government, which is notorious for hiring based on personal connections rather than qualifications. If a “C student” knows the right people, he or she will have the inside track over an “A and B” student. Some companies will only hire local candidates. If you dislike your current city, you may be stuck there for a very long time. I got the initial job offer to do glorified data entry with an “Accountant” job title in Montgomery. I was beginning to develop a network of friends in Birmingham so I wasn’t thrilled about moving because I didn’t know anyone in the area and most people my age are married with children. Still, I gladly accepted the offer. In retrospect, it was probably the only job that I could do that paid a livable salary. At the time, I had only been diagnosed and under the proper treatment for adrenal fatigue for 2 months. I thought “Fine. I’ll work here for 12 months until my health improves then I’ll have my year of experience and will be able to live where I want.” This time around, I got a grand total of 1 interview in 2008 and 2 in 2007. As much as I try to put a positive spin on my job duties, companies realize that my duties are mundane and nothing like what I would do in the private sector. I have met some nice people here but I struggle with loneliness and sadness especially on the weekends. In any smaller city, if you are still single at 25, it might as well be stamped on your forehead and Montgomery is no exception. Co-workers who are my age talk constantly about their significant other and their children so what do I have in common with them? I am routinely left out of conversations. For those of you unfamiliar with Alabama, moving from Montgomery to Birmingham is not just a single “step up.” Birmingham is a MUCH nicer city with a well educated, friendly population that for the most part shares my Christian values. Oh yes, it also ranks #3 in runners per capita and I have met several who are near my ability level. Some people tell me that I should be thankful that I have a job. 93% of the workforce has a job and many have growth potential. With a advanced degree, I better not be in the 7%. If I was confident that I could find a job within 2 months, I would quit and move right now but I am neither willing nor financially able to risk what could potentially be another year of unemployment. In the words of Mike Gundy: “That’s all that I’ve got to say. It makes want to puke.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

training May 10th-16th (reverse taper)

5/10- flew back to Atlanta and drove to Monty. Stopped at a HS track and jogged a mile as a shake out run. Of course, I didn't push at all and felt great afterwards. Time was 7:52. Absolutely amazing that I was capable of running at all the day after a marathon. I could have gone at least 3 at that pace but again I am crazy, not stupid.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=1.0
5/11- 4 miles easy. Didn't feel much better than yesterday and should take a day off soon. Pace was a steady 7:55 early then I allowed myself a mild pick up at the end to finish in 31:30.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=4.0
5/12- found an apartment within 10 minutes of my new job in Birmingham (YES!), 6.5 miles easy and untimed. Breezed through it.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=6.5
5/13-planned day off. Celebrated my new job.
5/14- 4 mile tempo in 28:40 (7:10 pace). Solid performance. Pleasantly tired at the end but not beat up, just like I should feel. Body felt a little weak but still not bad after a night of beer drinking, which I do not do very often. Splits were 14:24/14:16.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=4.5
5/15-Horrible performance. Felt decent warming up but managed just 2.5 miles in 22:22. Started out around 8:30 pace and finished at 9:30 pace. Feels like I am low on GABA. Simple fix and I should feel better tomorrow.
Grade:F+/1 credit/distance=3.0
5/16- Nice improvement over yesterday but still didn't have top form. 9.5 in Birmingham with a new running buddy then jogged 1.5 at the Hoover Rec center to check it out. Hectic day and crashed out when I got back to Monty. Abnormally sore. May need to quit taking Serene.
Grade: B-/2 credits/distance=11.0
Weekly summary: Hectic week, not because of running. Very pleased with how I recovered from the marathon, not so pleased with how I'm feeling now. Hair test will be done very soon.
Distance= 30.0/Weekly GPA= 23.0/8 credits= 2.875

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fargo marathon race report

In short, the marathon is not my best distance and may never be but I am improving slowly but surely.
Training: up and down 15 week cycle that began just after New Years. I did not follow any schedule but hoped to average 50 miles per week. The early phase was great and I smashed my half mary PR with a 1:36:16 in mid February then ran a 19:48 5K time trial. I was thinking sub-3:30 for sure if not better Then in March, I was derailed by a nasty respiratory infection and missed 3 consecutive scheduled long runs but did manage a decent 10K in 43:42. I did bounce back in April but adjusted my goal to a 3:40. I debuted in May of last year with a 3:56:03 in Eugene, Oregon and knew that I was in much better shape now. Overall, I averaged 42 miles per week, which is not nearly enough for optimal results in a marathon but it was higher than I averaged last cycle. Moreover, that average was skewed by the low totals during the infection. I had several weeks over 50 and hit a high of 63. I did 2 20 milers and even 1 26.2 mile time trial in which I set an unofficial PR of 3:49:26.
Trip: I had some flood related adventures when I raced in Mobile and Chicago earlier so perhaps next time, I should warn the mayor of the city of my target race that I plan on coming to town so they can prepare for the flood in advance (LOL). In this case, Fargo, ND suffered the worst flood in its history just a few weeks back. The course had to be changed to a double loop but the race was a go. I chose Fargo because I saw good reviews on Marathon Guide, had been training for a late Spring race and did not want to risk hot weather. I have no aspirations of running a marathon in all 50 states but I do want to at least visit all 50 and felt that a marathon was the best way to check off North Dakota and Minnesota. 42 down now and only 8 to go. This time, the trip went smoothly. I flew out of Atlanta to Minneapolis then drove the 4 hours into Fargo on Thursday. The scenery was nice in Minnesota with gentle rolling hills and plenty of lakes. North Dakota looked flat and barren but that's just fine for a marathon.
Race day: I awoke at 5:45 for an 8 AM start and followed my normal light food with fluids beforehand. I was warned of possible traffic congestion but arrived early enough to avoid it. The course was flat and fast with just a few short and not very steep hills. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being most difficult, this one is barely a 2. It was largely residential with a small section through downtown and overall not very scenic but I was there for a PR. The best part of this race was the fans. It seemed like at every turn, people were out in force shouting encouragement. Temps was in the upper 30s at the start and not much warmer at the finish, which is a little chilly for my taste but at least the winds were light.
The gun went off and I found myself fighting through congestion. Again, people who were running 10 minute miles lined up with the 8:20 pace group. I tried not to weave in and out too much lest I run extra distance but I was unwilling to accept running 9 minute pace at the start. At the end, between the many turns and traffic, I would run an extra tenth of a mile but that's not as far as others would run. My first 3 miles were:
It was a little slower than I wanted but it's better to be a little on the slow side than fast at this distance. By mile 4, the pack had thinned out a bit and I was getting into the groove.
8:03/49:13 (passed 10K in 50:51)
This stretch had been a little faster than I wanted but I felt fine. The pace would slow just a tad in the next few miles. I could have maintained 8:00 pace but wanted to keep the effort even. It's not good form to push at all this early. It was the right decision.
8:17/1:46:54 (passed 13.1 in 1:47:27, would have been a PR 12 months ago).
I still felt good at the midpoint and the next section would be the stretch in which I would pass the most runners but I began to feel the effort just before mile 16 and it was becoming clear that I did not have my "A" stuff today but I was right where I wanted to be at the 13.1 split. A 5 minute slowdown in the 2nd half is about standard and if I could do that, I would come in under 3:40 and I still had a shot.
8:29/2:12:05 (starting to hurt)
8:21/2:20:26 (still battling hard)
I expected my pace to fall off at or near the 20 mile marker so my split for the 20th mile was not a shock. I did lose a little time because I stopped twice to drink both Powerade and water. Still, I wanted to keep my pace under 9 for every mile in this final 10K and I knew that I needed to be slightly under 9 the rest of the way to finish under 3:40. It was not to be. In the past, my pace did fall off around mile 20 but it didn't get really ugly until mile 23 and this time was no different. The 3:40 pace group blew by me just after mile 22. The young women were chasing a BQ and looked well on their way to getting it. I can't say that I was terribly uncomfortable and I never got any cramps or abnormal tightness or spasms but as hard as I tried, my legs just would not produce until final sprint, which I ran very well (go figure). Here is the ugliness:
8:43/2:54:58 (still hanging on)
9:09/3:04:07 (dang it)
9:03/3:13:10 (not bad, just hold on)
9:29/3:22:39 (ugly)
9:40/3:32:19 (very ugly)
9:23/3:41:42 (finish line in view, took caffeinated jelly beans)
1:40/3:43:22 (6 minute PR), 7:30 pace for final .2
Final thoughts: I can't be disappointed with a PR even though I feel that it wasn't my best day. This was almost 13 minutes better than last year. Why did I blow up so badly in the final 3 miles? A lot of factors. I don't feel that I went out too fast as I was right where I wanted to be at 13.1. First, my relatively low mileage caught up with me. Second, although I have reversed my adrenal exhaustion, I am still low in zinc and chromium, both of which are related to insulin transport. That hurts me especially in longer distances. Third, on a cold day, I never felt much need to drink and stopped infrequently. I should have refueled more often and definitely should have taken the beans sooner. It was mental as well. When I saw that my pace was slowing to the 9:20s in mile 24, I knew that I could run a high 3:42 if I really pushed it or I could simply coast in and finish in 3:44. To be honest, I really didn't care until I was within about a half mile of the line. I just wanted to finish this thing and still be standing on my feet.
Aftermath: I tend to get chilly very easily and was glad that the finish was in the dome. I was still shivering a bit when I finished but not as badly as in Oregon last year. I got plenty to drink and replenished my electrolytes and limped to my car and headed back to Minneapolis. My recovery was much quicker than ever before. I actually ran an easy mile the next day. My racing plans for the remainder of the year include local 5Ks and 10Ks this summer and a fall half marathon, not a full until at least next year. I am a LONG way from a BQ.
Chip time: 3:43:22/ Pace: 8:32/ Age group place: 27/80- 66th percentile

Sunday, May 3, 2009

training May 3rd-9th (race week)

5/3- Easy 7 miler and this one really was easy. Time was 57:45 (8:15 pace). Felt like I was crawling early but felt some effort later on. I may make a slight tweak on my formula with regards to the chromium and the Serine but nothing major is necessary. Weight is 146, thought it was higher. Maybe I'll cut the chromium just a tad.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=7.5
5/4-Planned rest day. Only 5 days to go and probably only 2 very easy runs before race day.
5/5- 3 miles easy in 22:54 (7:38 pace). Very pleased with how I felt. This is a 3:20 marathon pace and felt nearly effortless. How long before I can hold this pace for 26.2? I will not try this time.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=3.5
5/6- traveled to Atlanta to catch a morning flight. No running
5/7- flew from Atlanta to Minneapolis then drove to Fargo from there. Easy 2.5 miler around North Dakota State Univ. campus. Pleased with how I felt but it was untimed.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=2.5
5/8- planned rest day. drove around the Fargo area a bit but there was not much to see.
5/9- Fargo marathon in 3:43:22, did not make my goal but still PR'd by 6 minutes.
Grade:B+/4 credits/distance=26.5
Weekly summary: Short of my goal but still a satisfying PR.
Distance=40/ Weekly GPA: 22.9/7= 3.271