Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Shoe Review and a Book Review

Yesterday I broke in two new pairs of shoes. First, I took out the new Saucony Rides. This is my 4th pair of Rides, so nothing shocking here. They were just fine as I did a 4 mile loop. Then I changed into the new Kinvaras and took them on a little 2 mile loop for my first run in minimal shoes.

Well! It was quite a different feel right from the get-go! The first thing that popped in my head after a few strides was "comfy slippers". The lightness I was expecting (and yes they are very light). But I was surprised by the "cushiness". I thought with the thinner soles it would be less "cushy", but they were definitely MORE soft and comfortable than the new Rides. I felt like I was cheating or something. My feet are not supposed to feel this light.

So I enjoyed the run. I played with my stride a little, and it did feel different on the landing, but not in a bad way. Today I have no soreness in my calves or achilles, although my hamstrings just above my knees feel a little tight. So I am encouraged, and will break them out again Friday for some track work. My plan is to be ready to race a 5K in them in 2 weeks.

And they look like this:

On to the Book Review. Last night I finished Haruki Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running". It is kind of like reading blogs. He kind of rambles about a variety of things, mostly related to running or triathlon and writing. Each chapter is like a blog post. Like "Here's what I was thinking about today". And I must say, if he were on the Loop, he would not be one of the better bloggers. I can think of at least 10 Loopsters that are much more entertaining and insightful. He does have some good insights, but most are pretty basic for any of us who are already runners. He talks about races, but there is no excitement or drama. He is kind of a boring guy. There doesn't seem to be a point here, other than "This is what I do. This is who I am. It's not very exciting, but there you are." He doesn't make you want to go out and run.

So it was kind of nice to read about running, and I could relate to him, but I don't think I can recommend this book. Get Born to Run or Once a Runner instead.

Monday, July 25, 2011

God, I love running!

Just when you think this running stuff is getting too hard, it gives you a weekend like this last one to remind you why you do this stuff.

Lately, I have had nagging arch pain on one foot. Worst in the morning, but lately hurting much of the day. Doesn't really bother me while running though. Classic Plantar Fasciitis. It's kind of bumming me out. But I figure it is probably because my shoes are due to be replaced, with 470 miles on them. I haven't been able to find time lately however, so Friday I decide I'm better off in one of my old pairs. So I pull out an old pair that probably has similar miles on them, just for a change of pace.

Friday's plan was to get in some speedwork, so I planned 4x1 mile with 1/2 mile rest in between. Planned to do 7:30, 7:20, 7:10 and sub 7. Total of 8 miles. The new/old shoes worked out fine, although I had some hot spots afterward. Felt pretty good warming up, and mile 1 came in at 7:14. Controlled speed. I love these workouts. Next one, 7:07. Still feeling in control. Mile 3, 6:56! Feeling the fatigue now, but no problem. Last one, 6:59. Woo-hoo! Tough workout, but plenty left in the tank!

Saturday was a "rest" day, but we spent the day at Universal Studios, which meant a lot of time standing in line, and a lot of sun. By bedtime I was tired, my back hurt, my foot hurt, my legs were tired. I felt old, out of shape and pathetic. The last thing I felt like was cranking out another awesome workout in the morning. Yet my plan was to do a brick: 20+ mile bike and a 6+ mile run. When I got up Sunday I still felt about the same.

And this is why I love running! By the end of Sunday's workout, I was on top of the world and filled with confidence! You can't always listen to your body - it can do so much more than we think it can.

So I got out the bike for the first time in two weeks, and headed out along the beach for my favorite 21 mile course. Once I get past mile 2, it gets less crowded and I am basically going as hard as I can for the next 16 miles. Biking is so different from running. You can basically push really hard the whole way, and not die. Or if you do get tired, you can just ease off a little and still be moving along at a good pace while you recover.
So I felt pretty good, and was pushing hard. I averaged 16.4 mph for the middle 16 miles, with one 3 mile stretch at almost 18 mph. Which is record speed for me. I wasn't thinking about the upcoming run - it was just push, push, push.

Did I mention it was low 60's and overcast?

So I make it home and stop just long enough to change shoes and swig some water. My "T1" was 1:39, and then I was running. My legs felt very heavy, so I was expecting slow times, but somehow I was looking at 8:25 in the first quarter mile. Normally I start out close to 9 and it takes me two miles to be comfortable under 8:30. I guess the bike ride acted like a warmup and my body was ready to go! I guess I kind of felt like I was in race mode, even though I didn't feel like I was pushing that hard. My legs felt heavy the whole run, and yet...

8:25, 8:23, 8:10, 7:35, 7:40, 7:38 !!!

Total 6.4 miles, avg 7:58 per. I never go that fast on a normal run, let alone after a tough bike ride. Weird. Maybe I should bike ride before every run! So I was on an endorphin high for some time. My feeling of mortality from the previous evening was long gone.God, I love running!

Later I devoured a Fatburger, and then bought some new shoes. I tried on some Saucony Rides, which I've had 3 pairs of before, and some Kinvaras to see what all the fuss was about. I've been wanting to try some minimalist shoes, but I couldn't see switching 100%. Too risky. So.......I got both. I plan to break in the Kinvaras slowly and do short races in them.

So, life is good again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Training My Inner Billy Goat

Sunday I challenged myself with both the longest training run since March, and also the biggest hill around these parts. I did a 12.7 mile loop around and over the Palos Verdes peninsula. First time for me to go up this particular hill. I am trying to prepare for my 25K Bulldog trail run in late August, which has a 2200' climb over 4 miles. This run was like a mini-version of that, with about 950' of climb in 3 miles. But compared to my beach runs with elevation changes of up to 20 feet, it was a big change!

I carried my own fuel belt with water in one bottle and gatorade in the other for the first time. The gatorade tasted GREAT during a run! First 4 miles were uphill - over what I normally would call a big hill. But this time it was merely preparation for the biggie from 4.5 to 8. In this picture, mile 4.5 is on the curvy road at bottom, and then I basically go straight up to the top of the hill.

I was doing about 8:30 pace on the flat, and the hill dropped me to 10:15 pace real fast. My plan was to just plug along as slow as I needed, but not walk, as long as I could keep the oxygen flowing. After about a mile at 10:15, it got really steep, about 10% grade for 3/4 mile. Here my pace got close to 12 min/mile! But I was plugging along and eventually it got better. The last mile of uphill was "only" about 2-3% grade and it felt like a downhill! I dropped back close to 9 minute pace and felt really good, despite still climbing and having just conquered a beast.

Then I hit an actual downhill and was flying! Pace dropped close to 7, but it was so steep, my legs took a pounding. The last 3 miles were gradual down, which should have been fun, but my legs and body were pretty beat up by this time, so I was just getting through it. It was sunny and warm too (for here...75*...don't judge me).

Anyway, I felt pretty BA. 12.7 miles in 1:55 with giant hill conquered. A good day's work. I definitely gained confidence that I can tackle any hill, as long as I do it smart.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I spent most of this week on a trip to Arkansas for work. Tuesday morning I managed a good 8 mile run in the AM, with just enough time to cool down, shower, pack and get to the airport. I planned to run once during my 3 days there. I left the lovely cool 70 degree beach, and arrived at the Memphis airport and it was 100. I don't know how you guys do it. Two hours later I was in NE Arkansas and by the time I went to bed it was still over 90.

Anyway, Wednesday night I ran after work. It was probably upper 80's or 90. Planned to do 5, but the heat wasn't a problem so I stretched it to 6. No water during the run - I thought about carrying a bottle, but decided to do it old school and just run 'til I dropped. I was at my usual pace, and other than ridiculously excessive sweating, the heat didn't bother me too much. I guess it's not as horrible as I imagined to run through these summers.

Friday I took a vacation day and went up to Norfork Lake in AR with two friends from work. Last year at this time I did the same thing, and ended up tearing up my groin muscle trying to water ski, and then losing 8 weeks of training. No water skiing this year!! (Or ever again, thank you very much)

This year we just cruised around the lake in a speedboat, and did a lot of swimming or just floating in the water. Water temp was 80-87! And compared to the ocean, the water was flat as a pancake. So I decided to get a little swim workout in. After about 1/4 mile though, I called it a day and just relaxed. I am sure jealous of you lake triathletes - SO much easier!

We found a little cliff to jump off of, so I decided to do it and prove my machismo was still in tact. I may be 49, but I can still take stupid risks like the young'uns!

Woo Hoo! It was a little scary before the jump. But, no problem!

Now I am back home in the 72 degree and sunny weather. Time for a short bike ride to ogle girls at the beach. Then tomorrow I am doing a 12-13 mile run over the top of our local big hill to work on my hill endurance.

For you bibliophiles, I just finished Freedom by Jonathan Franzen for book club. Nothing to do with running, but it was very well written and definitely makes one think about life and relationships. Recommended. Next I am going to read "What I talk about when I talk about running" Review to follow.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I forgot to tell you this little story from Sunday's run.

I was cruising along my woodchip trail. A runner came by and passed me (a rare enough occurrence). We exchanged Good Mornings and he pulled ahead a little. Shortly we came to a busy road crossing. There is no traffic light at the trail but on either side of the trail is roads so there were lights on both sides. Cars were streaming by. I waited for the light.

Well, Mr. Speedy apparently didn't want to interrupt his run, so he sees traffic open one way and starts to go across. I give a WTF, hands in the air, shocked look, to no one in particular. Traffic was still coming pretty hard the other way, but he picks a gap of no more than a few car lengths and just goes for it. It was like Eddie Murphy in Bowfinger (and if you haven' seen that, watch this! Skip ahead to 2 minutes if you are in a hurry)

OK, maybe not quite like that, but it was very uncool. And within ten seconds, the light changes. I jog across and see the police car at the corner. Ha! The cop makes his turn and within seconds I hear a little siren, and they pull the guy over. Hahahahahahaha!!!!! That will teach him to pass me! I run right past them, and the guy makes eye contact with me. i don't know what he expected. I was sure not going to help him.

I continue my run to the end of the trail, and turn back. They must have detained him about ten minutes, because then I see him coming down the trail. I was dying to ask him if they ticketed him or let him off with a warning, but I  resisted. This time he averted his eyes. Oh the shame!

Today's moral - Don't jaywalk!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lots of Catching up to do

It has been a while and I feel I should be updating you...since you seem to care. At my last update I was still slogging along, in a bit of a slump after my last, big race. Well, I found my mojo in the next run, and it has been hanging around ever since! Yay! So a little rest went a long way, and now I have been upping the miles, working on endurance for my two summer challenges. First is the Bulldog 25K in late August, which is long, ridiculously hilly, and hot. More about that as we get closer. Then in September I have my Olympic Triathlon, so I have been doing ocean swims and biking to get ready.

So during graduation week, my parents were here and I only had 1 workout in 6 days. But since then I have worked out every day for the last 11! And since I usually have 1 or 2 rest days per week, that's a pretty good string! Here it is:

Th: 8 miles - hills 8:21 pace (solid effort)
Fri: Gym workout
Sat: 6 miles easy with BIL
Sun: Ocean swim of .85 miles with 1 mile sand run
Mon: 8 miles easy with BILs
Tues: 7 miles at 8:20
Wed: 1200 meters in the pool
Thur: Gym workout
Fri: 7 miles at 8:30
Sat: 33 mile bike ride - longest ever!
Sun: 11 miles at 8:39

Last weekend my wife's family was in town so I ran twice with by Bro in law. He is older and a little slower, so I ran at 9:15-9:30 pace. I can't get myself to run that slow by myself, but having a slow partner made it easier, so it felt good to run easy and finish feeling refreshed instead of exhausted. I need to work on doing the slow runs more often.

The inlaws rented a beautiful house in La Jolla (San Diego) that is on a beach cliff overlooking Pacific Beach. Had a pool and deck with a great view. Awesome. We ran all along the beach for 8 miles on the Fourth, which was lots of fun. Even though it is similar to my usual runs at home, it was a different beach, so I enjoyed it.
So here's some pics. Graduation.

View from the beach house - house next door (similar)

Beach view from patio

Life is good.
My bike ride yesterday was awesome. I planned to do 24, but felt good, and kept extending it to a new record length of 33 miles. Then followed it up today with an 11 mile run that also went well.
So I'm feeling strong, my weight is down to 151, all systems are go!

Oh, I got some sluttie split shorts, and boy did they feel good to run in! Very cool and light, like not wearing anything at all! 

Tuesday I fly to Arkansas for 3 days for work. Planning 1 run in the humid heat on Thursday, if anyone is in Paragould, Arkansas...... anyone... anyone....I hear crickets.

More big news. We are doing a short vacation to Omaha in August to visit friends. I found a 5K that weekend called the Boxer 5K. Runners are encouraged to run in their boxers to raise awareness for Colorectal cancer. So you can look forward to those pics later! Maybe I can meet up with a Loop Superstar there? It is a small race, so an AG placing is a decent bet.

You all have a great week and enjoy your runs!