Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Frolicking in the Flurries

Thank you, northeast Ohio, for another stimulating, invigorating week of winter weather.   I guess I shouldn't complain.  For the first time in more than two weeks, the high broke above freezing.  Actually, both Thursday and Friday managed to crack that mark.  Not warm enough to melt any significant amount of the snow, just enough to make it slushy and wet, so I could run with soggy feet.   And of course, the balmy break lasted only two days.  Imaging how happy I was when the temperatures dropped back down into the teens on Saturday, then below zero on Sunday.   

The training week started inauspiciously, with only 6 slow miles on Monday.  Work schedule, achy legs, painful knee,...pick from these excuses for why I didn't run more.   My work schedule was against me again on Tuesday, but I planned better and did 7 miles very early at 7:30/min. 
pace, and another 7 miles after work at 6:53/min pace, for 14 total treadmill miles.   Wednesday, I could not run in the morning due to work again, and had to work through lunch, so that left only a small window of opportunity at the end of the day.  I did eleven miles, again on the treadmill, but slower than Tuesday.   More treadmill on Thursday, with an 8 miler in the morning at 6:53/min. and 5 miles in the evening at 7:30/pace.   Friday was a nice day and I had an opportunity to go for a ten miler.  I thought I was moving at a good pace, but when I checked, it was only an average of 7:48/min.  For the second consecutive Saturday, the conditions on the trails were such that we decided to run from Peninsula on the roads.  It started to snow, and the road conditions got very slippery, so we might have been better off on the trails.  We ran 12.39 miles at about an 8:00/min. pace.  The photo above was taken at the end of that run.  On Sunday morning, I woke up around five, knowing I needed to get in some solid early miles to come close to Pfitzinger's 22 mile target for the day.  The thermometer said 0 degrees.   Undiscouraged (hahahahahaha), I had a light breakfast, put on my gear, and headed out.  I got about 8 miles in before I caught up with the SERC group in Solon.  I ran 12 miles with the group, mostly with Eileen, then tacked on another 1.1 to get to 21.1...close enough to 22 on a very cold morning.   Total for the week: 87.5 miles, about 5 miles short of Pfitzinger's plan.  

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Training Week Review - 2009 Race Schedule

Weekly Review
After ignoring the pain in my right knee for more than a month, I finally decided to give it a rest. The pain is in the lower inside, in the area of the medial collateral ligaments. Mark G. suggested that it might be due to all the running in snow and ice. The slipping and bad footing put more laterial stress on the knee, and I may have strained these ligaments.
I did not run on Monday and Tuesday. This seemed to help, or at least I felt less pain when going up and down stairs. On Wednesday, I did a very easy six miles, and although the pain was still there, it was less intense. Thursday, I felt the need to test my knee, and I was anxious about not getting enough miles in, so I did 14 miles on the treadmill, 6 miles in the morning and 8 miles in the evening.
The pain was tolerable and certainly didn't feel any worse than it had before. This was encouraging since I did 8 of the miles at a 6:50/min pace. On Friday, I did another 8 miles.
Saturday at Lock 29 was...ummm...chilly. Despite the temperature (-10F), about 10 runners showed up. I had slathered my face with Vaseline, put on two pairs of gloves, and we were off. After the first few miles, it actually wasn't all that uncomfortable. We did about 11 miles, all on the roads. My knee was not giving me too much grief when I got up on Sunday, so I did 18.3 miles, 12 miles with the group, with an average of 8:00/min pace. The weather was warm, in the 20's, but it started to snow and the footing was slippery, especially on the Hawthorne Parkway hill. Wyatt and I ran this together, commiserating about being unable to get any traction. I really wished I had been wearing my screw shoes. I had started out wearing them, but when I saw that the roads were OK, I circled back home and swapped them for my road shoes. Half-way through the run, I realized that I should have stayed with the screw shoes.

Despite taking a mini-break on Monday and Tuesday, my total for the week was 57 miles. This isn't close to what it should have been, but I think the benefit to my knee will allow me to resume my high-mileage training.


Major Races for 2009
Listed below are the major races I plan to run in 2009. Of course, I will also run lots of smaller races as well, like the Mill Creek Half-Marathon, St. Malachi, Blossom Time in Chagrin Falls, etc.

I will try to take about 10 minutes off my my 3:16:57 last year.

No goal for this one yet. With Boston a month before and Seattle a month later, I'll wait until the last minute to decide how I want to run Cleveland.

I'm really excited to run the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon. Sue and I will make a vacation of it, spending a week visiting our son and his girlfriend, and enjoying Seattle.

I was fighting cramps for the last 10 miles of this one in 2008, and I had a terrible time. My goal is sub-5 hours.

My goal is cross the finish line. After that, if I am in good enough condition to think about a time, 25 hours would be great.

Last year, I had a great time in Punxsy. The people there do a great job organizing this race, and the course is really challenging. I want to run this again, if the residual effects of the Burning River don't stop me.

Not yet open for registration, but I hope to get in. I want to have the experience of running this.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter: It's On

For most of my adult life, I have seen the treadmill as an invention of Satan.  That was until this week. Training for Boston through the Cleveland winter had something to do with it.    I recognized that I was nearly killing myself running outdoors everyday, regardless of the conditions. Further, it was effecting the quality of my runs. Don't misunderstand. I still believe that slogging through the snow and ice makes for an excellent workout, but the quality of the running suffers, and your form can get very sloppy. I still believe that Satan invented the treadmill, but now I realize that he's probably a hell of a runner. 

So...I ran 10 miles on the treadmill on Monday, 6 miles in the morning, and 4 miles in the evening. The weather was perfect...70 degrees, no precipitation, no wind. On Tuesday, I did an early morning 10 miler on the streets of Independence. The occasional patches of ice keep my attention focused on the surface in front of me. It was dark, and I wore my headlamp, but it did not throw enough light to make the ice easy to spot.   I managed to stay upright for the whole run, but there were a few close calls.  On Wednesday, the plan called for 14 miles, and my schedule at work was not going to give me much of an opportunity. I hit the treadmill in the evening and got my 14 miles done. I tried to break-up the boredom by listening to my music and watching television. Both of those helped stave off the inevitable tedium for a while. The last hour was tough. When the display flipped to '14.0 Miles', I hit the 'Stop' button so hard, I thought I broke it. After that, I made sure that my Thursday and Friday runs were outside.
The weather turned ugly on Friday afternoon, and the snow fell through the night. On Saturday morning, I arrived at about 7:55 but the roads were awful. By 8:20, there were still only a few runners, we had to delay the start for about 20 minutes while we waited for more runners to arrive. Finally, at about 8:30 we started. I assumed that, since we got such a late start, and since the conditions were so bad, we would probably only cover about 10 miles rather than our usual 12. I also assumed that with all of the snow and bad footing, we would back off on the pace. So...we did 14.4 miles at the fastest pace I have ever recorded on one of our Saturday runs. Sure. Why not?
Runners mulling around the LOCK 29 parking lot, waiting for the late-comers.

Heading off for a run in the great white wilderness.

On Sunday morning, my legs were really feeling the effects of the last month and a half. My knees, specifically my right knee, did not want me to go down the stairs, let alone head out for an 18 mile run. I made some coffee, tried to loosen up, got changed, and headed out at around 7:00 AM. I ran very uncomfortably and slowly for the first few miles. At 8:00 AM, I joined the SERC group. Unlike last week, this week I avoided the temptation to run with the 7:00/min-mile group. My intention was a long slow run at around 8:00/min-mile pace and I was able to stick to it. Fortunately, Paul R. joined me about three miles after the SERC group started, and we ran the next 10 miles together.  I completed 17.3 miles.  The total for the week was 78 miles, not quite Pfitzinger's recommended 84.  

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Last Week and Month of 2009 Summary

Weekly Summary
About every fifth week, the plan calls for a 'lighter mileage' week. So the week of Monday 12/29 through Sunday 1/4, dropped back down to 70 miles. My legs did notice the difference.
Monday: 10 miles in the early morning on the roads of Independence. Mostly hilly, at 8:02 min/mile pace.
Tuesday: Only 6 miles, also around Independence, at a more reasonable 7:33 pace.
Wedensday: The annual SERC New Years Eve run. I forgot to turn on my Garmin, so I am calling this 13 hilly miles through some real crap weather (snow and wind). I don't know the pace I kept, but I promise you I kicked it into another gear after making the turn at the half. I tried to keep Steve G. in sight, but with visibility almost nil at times, I could not always do that. I did wear my screw shoes, which helped with what was otherwise slippery footing. It was a tough morning, but thankfully Rich prepared a feast of a breakfast and I ate enough to get me through 2009.
Thursday: A nice, slow 7.12 miles recovery run.
Friday: A slow 6 miles (hardly worth the effort to get changed) in Independence.
Saturday: A fun 12 miles with the Lock 29 group, on a reasonably nice morning in January. I ran the last mile and a half at sub 6:30 pace with Marc A's sister Marissa (?).
Sunday: I ran a few warm-up miles alone, then 12 miles with the group at a pace that was a bit faster than I had intended. Here are the splits by mile: 7.34, 7.27, 7.13, 7.12, 7.06, 7.07, 7.24, 6.55, 7.20, 7.30, 7.31, 7.03, 7.11.

Monthly Summary
December was a good month of training. I tracked reasonably close to Pfitzinger's plan, although as I have said, it is not my intention to follow it religiously. I got a couple of twenty-milers in, and my weekly total were all in the 70's and 80's. The total for the month was 320 miles, which is the highest I have ever recorded. My legs are feeling tired and tight, and I have some knee pain (right knee, inside and low), and getting loose in the morning takes longer than it used to, but otherwise I surprisingly good.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 Did Not Suck

From the first part of 2008, I was struggling to train for Boston while dealing with injuries.   The weather was terrible, and every mile was an effort.   Anyone reading my blog then was treated to a stream of complaints about the pain in my knee and the crap weather.   The pain got so bad that I started to doubt that I would be able to run Boston at all.   You may remember this helpful illustration.    

Just in time for Boston, the SERC singlets arrived.  Very cool.  I wore this in Boston and got a few 'Go Cleveland' shouts.  I managed a PR time of 3:16:55.  

I thought I was hurting before Boston, but I was really hurting after.  The next day, I went for a slow five mile run.  I could not loosen-up my tight legs, and I said that I probably looked like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons trying to run. 

Under the circumstances, I could not train for Cleveland, which was less than a month later.  My longest run in that time was 15 miles, so I went into the race with low expectations.  I surprised myself with a PR of 3:15:01, but the last six miles of that race were as bad a time as I've ever had running.  Thanks to Marc A. for running with me from about mile 21 to the end.  

The weekend after the Cleveland Marathon, I won my age group in the Blossom Time 5.25 mile race in Chagrin Falls.  That felt very good because I've run this race for the last three years, and each time I just missed winning an award.  Also in May, I bought myself a bike, a Specialized Sequia.  I made it a habit to ride to work a couple of times a week.  I've been holding to that, although it is now in storage for the winter. 

In June, while running along the Ohio canal tow path with my friend Andy R. in May, a couple of senior citizens got very flirty with us. Thanks ladies.  Andy and I really picked up the pace after that. 

Also in June, while trying to prepare for the Buckeye Trail 50k, we had some very wet weather.  The trails were muddy, which was the point of this map.

On a very warm day in July, I ran my first ultra-marathon, the Buckeye Trail 50k.  I learned that serious muscle cramps with more than 10 miles to go will really ruin your day.   That race did not go as well as I had hoped, and I resolved to try another 50k as soon as possible.

I resumed training and for the month of August, I tried to put in as many miles on the trails as possible.   Fortunately, the weather was cooperative, and in fact, I really loved my time in the woods.  This is a photo of a brick road that was being reclaimed by the forest. 

In September, I erased the disappointment of the BT50k by running well at the Punxsutawney 50k, finishing in 4:59.   We (SERC) took the team prize as well, and we each were awarded a free pair of Montrail shoes.   This is a photo of me at the top of a hill called 'Yellow Bus'. 

After Punxsy, I was surprised by the reaction of some non-runners who could not understand why I was so happy with a 4 hour and 59 minute time in a 31 mile race.  After all, they said, I ran a marathon (26.2 miles) in 3 hours and 15 minutes.  So, I created the following graphical comparison of the Boston Marathon and the Punxsutawney 50k to help them understand.

I did dare take my foot off the pedal after Punxsy, with the Chicago Marathon coming righ up.  I finished my training, and when that last week before the race finally arrived, I had a well-deserved taper.  You'll remember my taper mascot, Tippy Tapir.

I went into Chicago feeling better than I had in Boston or Cleveland.  I was thinking seriously about a 3:10 marathon.  I started to have my doubts when the terperatures rose steadily to over 80 degrees.  Thankfully, I felt great and ran a strong 3:07:58 race.  
After Chicago, the marathon season was over for me, but I continued to keep my training miles up.   I did make a last minute decision to run the Cleveland Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.  It was a great day.  My friend John and my sis-in-law Lisa both decided to make it their first races ever, and they did very well.  I had my best 5 mile time ever, 30:37, which is a 6:07 pace, and won my age group.  

Early in December, I decided to try to follow Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning plan, December became the highest mileage month I have ever recorded.  The weather was typically bad at times, but that's the fun of training through the winter in Cleveland.   The morning of the annual SERC New Years Eve run, a nasty storm blew in.  We're hardcore runners and the run went off as scheduled.  Here's a photo from right after I finished.  That's not the normal amount of white in my beard, it's encased in ice.  

I have many people to thanks for all the help I received in 2008.  It was a breakthrough running year for me.  I PR'd in three consecutive marathons, and ran my first two ultras as well.  With all of the distance work, I still managed to win my age group in some shorter races, and have my best ever 5 mile time.  Sue, thanks for your understanding and support, although I know that you think I am insane.  Huge thanks to all of my equally insane SERC friends.  It is a simple statement of fact to say that I would not have accomplished any of this without their help, support, advice, and encouragement.  And a special thanks to each of you who read and comment on my blog.  You give me the motivation I need to keep writing and working to make this fun to read.  Thanks, everyone.