Monday, August 30, 2010

20 Fantasy Miles

Made it through 20 hard miles Sunday morning, although technically I should have only been running 6 miles. Why would I choose to add on 14 fun-filled miles? I’d like to say it was due to some noble, altruistic pursuit. Or perhaps a multiple-hour runner’s high. Sadly, the real answer is Fantasy Football.

Not Pictured .... Fantasy Football
I’ll explain in a bit, but first, a look back at week 6, and the painfully obvious reason that the 20 miles was a bit of a death march.

As covered in an earlier post, the week was supposed to start with an 18-mile run last Sunday. Thanks to an unfortunate bit of rain-drenched timing, this turned into 10 late-night miles on Sunday, and 8 early-morning miles on Monday. If I include the 5 miles last Saturday, then by the end of the day on Saturday I had run on 7 out of 8 days, covering 48.6 miles. Compound this with the first week of school for the kids, a heavy workload at my job, and entirely too little sleep, and I was less than optimally rested and fueled for yesterday’s run. No better time to take a nice 6 mile step-back run and turn it into 20 miles of self-flagellation. Here’s where the Fantasy Football enters the picture.

About a month back I got an email from an old high-school friend letting me know that one of the guys in their fantasy football league was dropping out, and seeing if I wanted to join. Most of the guys in the league are old high school friends, including the best man from my wedding whom I have done a terrible job of keeping in touch with. Maintaining friendships with old friends is definitely not my strong suit. I thought this would be a good chance to get back in touch with these guys, so I said yes. Never mind the fact that I haven’t followed football in years, and am completely clueless about fantasy football.

Contrary to what the name implies, this does not involve teams of gladiators waging football-battle in the heavens riding fire-breathing unicorns.  Nor does it resemble any of the ‘sweet’ airbrushed scenes one might find on the side of most any 70’s era conversion van.

Apparently this requires some fairly detailed knowledge of the teams and individual players in the NFL, and, if one wants to have some success, a great deal of time. 0 for 2 for this guy.

Draft Day is the most important day of the season. For these guys, this means coming from miles around to meet up at one house for hours upon hours of drafting, eating, drinking, and trash-talking, not necessarily in that order. Draft day is this Saturday. Per my training plan, I am scheduled to run 20 miles on Sunday. The marathoner-wannabe in me would stick to my training plan and spend Saturday drinking sports drinks while picking my team. The realist in me knows that I’ll wake up Sunday morning feeling like I had carpet installed on my tongue, and wondering why my team consists entirely of kickers with last names starting with ‘J’, most of whom retired sometime in the 80s. Not wanting to risk my 20-mile long run, I decided to swap this week’s 6 with next week’s 20. Looked like a good idea on paper.

The 20 miles actually wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t have a lot of spring in my step at the start, and I knew it wasn’t going to get better. The first 10 miles went pretty well, but the week that was caught up with me in the back 10, and I was definitely wishing it was over. At mile 17 I took a walk break to down my last gel and the last of my water, and extended the walk break to 10-minute stretch of walking as fast as I could. I picked the running back up from that point, and was pleased to see that my pace over the last 2.5 miles was around 9:30. Net result was running 8 of 9 days, covering 68.6 miles. I was pretty useless for most of the rest of Sunday, which may have been hard to distinguish from most other days. Shades of gray I suppose. My PF and ITBS seem to have weathered the 20-miles, and the excessive mileage for the week, which is very encouraging going forward. The real test will be getting out of bed tomorrow morning and going for a run. Probably need to start training my liver for Draft Day as well. This could get ugly.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Throwback Training Tunes vol. 7 – 1994 edition

Sadly, in the battle of iPod vs Thunderstorm, the thunderstorm appears to have gotten the upper hand. The iPod still plays music fine, but the backlight no longer works on the screen, so it’s a bit hard to see what it is playing, or make any selections. We’ve made it onto the LCD-transplant list, but it’s a long process and we never know when we might get the call. In the meantime, however, we’re not going to let a small thing like a dark screen get in the way of the throwback tunes search. That which does not kill our iPod, only makes our iPod stronger…
  • Building a playlist with running songs from each of the last 20 years of the 20th century (1980-1999)
  • None of the songs in this list can be in any of the existing playlists on my iPod. As much as I love all the blogging runners and running bloggers out there, this list is for me too
  • Mainstream to alternative, well-known to abundantly obscure, anything is a potential candidate
  • I’m test-driving anything I post with a listen during at least two training runs 
Prior Throwbacks:

‘Ceremony’ - New Order (1981)
'Don’t Change’ – INXS (1982)
‘Turn to the Sky’ - The March Violets (1986)
‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ - LL Cool J (1990)
‘Three Strange Days’ – School of Fish (1991)
‘Enter Sandman’ – Metallica (1991)
‘Rearviewmirror’ – Pearl Jam (1993)
‘A Murder of One’ - Counting Crows (1993)
‘Looking Through Patient Eyes’ - PM Dawn (1993)

Today’s Throwbacks:

She – Green Day (1994) – A song that got greatly overshadowed by the other hugely-successful and ultimately overplayed songs from the Dookie album. Starts out with a nice quiet buildup to the typical Green Day energy you would expect. Kind of a short song, but still good for passing the time while training.

Machinehead – Bush (1994) – One of several very popular songs from Bush’s most popular album, Sixteen Stone. The intro to this song is one of those sports-arena staples that you’ll hear during timeouts or breaks in the action. The driving beat in this one is great for a pick-me-up during a run. Not really sure exactly what the lyrics are supposed to mean … but sometimes it's less about the lyrics and more about the energy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To Catch Ourselves With Quiet Grace

Perspective is a powerful thing. Sometimes it is thrust upon us, often in jarring, devastatingly painful ways. Other times we seek it out to keep ourselves calibrated in an off-center world. Whatever the source and circumstance, the inherent value of perspective can be immense.

Yesterday was one of those occasions when I sought out perspective. I knew it was coming, and knew what the effect would be, but the impact was not lessened by virtue of foresight.

Few things can stir greater sorrow in me than a sick child. Nobody likes a bully. Illness targeting a child is the cruelest of bullies. I have had the unfortunate experience of having a child spend an extended period of time in the hospital. It is a physically and emotionally numbing experience. A bitter potion of helplessness, anger, and sadness. An experience that permanently changed the way I look at the world. An experience I hope to never relive.

Yesterday, a group of co-workers and I spent the afternoon and evening at the Durham Ronald McDonald House doing maintenance and cleaning work, preparing and serving dinner for all the residents and employees, and spending some time with the families and children staying at the house. We had done this in the Spring, and everyone involved was so deeply touched by the experience that we eagerly took advantage of the opportunity to return. Any organization like this, dedicated to assisting families in times of tremendous turmoil, is truly miraculous.

In the midst of my own experience, having had the consistency of our home to maintain some sense of normalcy was immeasurably beneficial. To have to go through that while traveling and dealing with the inherent stress that brings must be excruciating. The Ronald McDonald House tackles that head-on, and is dedicated to reducing the environmental stresses, allowing families to focus on loving and healing. A truly noble cause. I start today humbled and privileged to have been able to help in that cause, if only for one night. As I watch my kids head off for the first day of school, I am grateful for their health. I am grateful that they can participate in the anxiety and excitement this day brings. I am grateful for perspective.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

After the disjointed start to training week 6, I felt it only right to dwell in the past and take a look back at last week’s efforts. Week 5 was my best training week so far in terms of sticking to the plan, not discovering any new and exotic ways to inflict pain upon myself, and generally feeling like the training is starting to click.

Highlights from the fifth training week:

*  Strong 16-mile run to start the week. My long runs so far haven’t been pretty, but this one went fully as planned, and I felt like there was still gas in the tank when I turned off the engine. HUGE difference getting underway before the heat got going.

*  Did some proactive research on hydration to try and figure out how to stay better fueled for the remainder of training. Still working on the right combination of beverage containers, but the Fuel Belt alone is not enough. Never bring a knife to a gunfight.

*  Joined the Hard CORE club and got through my first two workouts. Bicycle kicks are definitely the hardest thing for me right now. Would much rather just go in the garage and kick my bicycle.

*  First run with my new Nathan handheld. Not as obtrusive as I thought it would be. After a couple more runs with it I’ll put together a review.

*  Established my new unofficial PR for a mile during Thursday’s tempo run – 6:35. I’ll probably try an all-out mile every couple weeks to keep myself entertained and see if I can lower this. Pretty confident I can get this under 6 minutes if I continue to include speed work. I don’t want to get too fast as the sonic booms tend to make the neighbors mad. I’m thoughtful like that.

*  Quietly turned 39. One more year of the thirties before I become a masters runner. I don’t feel a day over 60. Now you kids get off my lawn.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Midnight Monsoon

Training week 6 is off to a wet, ugly start. For those who may have grown up in a military family like myself, the term SNAFU comes to mind. It all started when my wife pulled out of the driveway Friday morning for a girls’ weekend, leaving me at the mercy of my kids and the puppy. The challenge was figuring out how to do my 18-mile run on Sunday. The solution didn’t work out so well.

I knew my wife wasn’t getting back until around 5PM Sunday. 6PM Sunday was the start of a daddy/daughter dance for my little girl’s Y-Princess tribe. I figured with the dance, followed by getting the kids to bed and some stretching, best-case I’d be getting my run underway around 10PM. Not ideal, but I was pretty intent on keeping the Sunday run on Sunday. So, after a day of lawn mowing, house projects, kid wrangling, puppy chasing, and daddy/daughter dancing, I got underway just before 10PM. I was dragging right from the start. The first couple miles weren’t feeling good. Then, in the distance, the first of the lightning appeared.

By mile 5 I was dragging enough that I slowed to a walk long enough to down a Gu and a fair amount of water. At this point the wind had picked up, the lightning was getting a bit more insistent, and the first of the raindrops were wetting the pavement. By mile 6 I was feeling better, but the weather was going downhill. Just as I crossed mile 7 the dam burst, and the rain started coming down in sheets. Hard enough that the water was running in rivers down the gutters and the sidewalks. Hard enough that I could no longer see. Hard enough that the squirrels and rabbits were forming into pairs and crossing the path in search of an ark.
It looked just like this ..... at least the rain did

My run consisted of 2 times around an ~9-mile route, and although I was tempted to keep going and gut out the full 18, I ended up turning around at about 9.5 miles when my iPod was no longer lighting up, and the sound was barely audible. I also had my Garmin on, and the rain was coming down hard enough that I was worried about it as well. By the time I got home I had managed to get 9.94 miles done. After stretching, drying off, hanging up the gear to dry, and doing some Google research on wet iPods (always a gamble including the term ‘wet’ in a Google search – never quite sure where the internet is going to take you), it was almost 1AM. Set the alarm for 5:30AM to knock out the remainder of the run, which I did this morning (8.03 miles), and now I could really use some sleep.

Not sure where I’ll end up with the iPod. It still seems to play music ok, but the screen is REALLY dark. It’s currently in a container filled with uncooked rice to hopefully draw out any lingering moisture. It would appear the backlight isn’t lighting any longer. Kinda like ET, only completely different. I’ll leave it in its hyperbaric rice chamber for 24 hours, and see how it’s feeling for tomorrow’s run. That may turn out to be an expensive 10 miles.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Throwback Training Tunes vol. 6 - 1982 edition

Back to the early 80s with today’s addition to the playlist. Great song by one of my favorite bands.

Building a playlist with running songs from each of the last 20 years of the 20th century (1980-1999): 
  • None of the songs in this list can be in any of the existing playlists on my iPod. As much as I love all the blogging runners and running bloggers out there, this list is for me too.
  • Mainstream to alternative, well-known to abundantly obscure, anything is a potential candidate
  • I’m test-driving anything I post with a listen during at least two training runs
  • Trying to link to a video or audio-clip of the song

Prior Throwbacks:

‘Ceremony’ - New Order (1981)
‘Look to the Sky’ - The March Violets (1986)
‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ - LL Cool J (1990)
'Three Strange Days' – School of Fish (1991)
'Enter Sandman' – Metallica (1991)
'Rearviewmirror' – Pearl Jam (1993)
'A Murder of One' - Counting Crows (1993)
'Looking Through Patient Eyes' - PM Dawn (1993)

Today’s Throwback:


'Don’t Change' – INXS (1982) – I’m a big INXS fan, and have had lots of their songs in and out of playlist rotation while running over the years. Since I’m such a fan, I had to work very hard to separate putting them on my iPod because I like them versus having them there because I consider them good ‘running songs’. In a nice bit of serendipity, it turns out that probably my favorite INXS song of them all also turns out to be a great running song on its own merit. I’ve listened to this song on every run since I started this exercise, and still like it as much as the first time. Definitely gets the blood pumping.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bannister, You Feelin' Me?

Yesterday morning was a battle between the mind and the body. When the alarm went off it was dark, grey, wet, drizzling, etc. outside …. basically all the ingredients pointing to staying in bed. However, a 6 mile tempo run was on tap. I don’t usually have much trouble with convincing myself to get out the door, so when I do I try to step up my game to make my body punish my mind. My plan had been for 1 easy mile, 3 fairly fast miles (7:30 – 8:00 pace), and 2 miles at a moderate pace between 8:30 and 9:00. Made a quick revision of the plan, and decided to speed everything up, and try to really step up the pace on the 3rd tempo mile. Basically tell my brain to shove it up its cortex, and remember this the next time it starts pondering the snooze button.

An important thing to understand about my running/racing history is that until my marathon in March, I had never competed in any type of timed running race. Thus I have no official benchmarks against which to measure my time and effort. I was never on a track team, never tried a 5K, 10K, or any K. I have no idea what my fastest mile time is. Upside is I’ve got a pretty wide-open opportunity for PRs in all kinds of events.

Got myself out in the gloomy weather and got the run underway. Knees and feet felt pretty good throughout. Worked out some kinks and soreness in my calves in the first mile, ready to step it up the tempo in the second mile:

Mile 1 – 8:51

Sped things up quickly in mile 2, and still felt pretty good. In the past, when I wanted to speed up my pace I did so by elongating my stride. In this training cycle I’m working hard on changing that philosophy, focusing more on faster turnover and maintaining form. I’m still teaching my legs to behave this way, but getting better.

Mile 2 – 7:17

Got into a nice groove in mile 3. Still focusing on rapid turnover for faster pacing, and trying to step up the pace from the last mile. Legs still generally healthy.

Mile 3 – 7:03

Game on for mile 4. Here’s where I really wanted to see what I could do for a mile without badly breaking form. The first half mile felt pretty good. The second half I was running out of steam, and spent a lot of time eyeballing my Garmin. Very pleased when the 1-mile lap timer gave me permission to step off the gas a bit.

Mile 4 – 6:35
Miles 5 and 6 felt really slow after mile 4, but they were 8:21 and 8:30 respectively. I’m pretty happy with the 6:35 mile, and now have something that I can call my ‘best mile time’ moving forward. I’m a numbers junkie, so this feeds my statistics habit nicely.

Overall a strong run, and a strong tempo run, although not really following the proper definition of a tempo run. My brain has been properly reprimanded for its resistance, and hopefully will continue to behave itself going forward.

Joined the ‘Hard CORE Club’ yesterday, and got my first core workout completed last night. Ab work has always been the last thing that I do when I go to the gym, and unfortunately it often gets bumped in the interest of time. I’m hoping that doing core work as its own monster will get me doing it more regularly, and signing up publicly for this challenge will keep me accountable.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hydration Fixation Updation

That’s right … lack of proper hydration leads to Dylanesque rhyming and usage of nonsense words. Let that be a lesson for you kids.

Decided to get a bit more scientific in figuring out not just how I like to get my drink on while running, but also just how much I need to be drinking while training. Time for some sweat-level calculation. I decided to utilize my 8-mile run this morning to figure out how much liquid I lose while running as part of my overall quest for better hydration during the Summer sizzle. I had to make a couple adjustments to the instructions I got off the internet, but I think the results are still fairly accurate. The scales at my house are crazy inaccurate, and I think they have become self-aware and enjoy messing with people depending on their mood. Since my gym is less than a mile from my house, and the scales there go down to the 10th of a pound, I decided to walk there for the start, and end there for the ‘after’ weigh-in. This necessitated the first deviation from the online instructions.

One is supposed to weigh oneself nude before and after the run, since most people’s clothes get fairly soaked and hold on to a lot of the sweat, thus defeating the weight-based determination of water loss. As tempted as I may have been to strip down in the middle of the weight room and hop on the scale, I could sense that most of the patrons did not share my enthusiasm. Apparently they still remember the last time. So I hopped on the scale in full running regalia, for a measurement of 193.6 pounds of fun. The temperature during the run was 78.9 degrees (amazingly cool by recent standards) with 86% humidity (very sticky out there this AM). I felt pretty good during the run, so I decided to push the pace to get the sweat flowing often and early. This actually ended up being the fastest 8-miler I think I’ve ever done:
At the conclusion of the run I dragged my sweet-smelling carcass back to the scales for the ‘after’ measurement – 190.4 pounds. For the purposes of this exercise I’ll go with 3.2 lbs of water loss, although the number is really a bit higher due to the sweat-soaked clothing I still had on. Now I assembled the top-notch team of hydrationologists to work their magic and give me my sweat-rate. Here’s the thrilling conclusion:

There are lots of factors that impact a person’s ability to absorb water, but following my well-tested approach of ignoring things that I don’t fully understand, I’m choosing to say I need roughly 43 ounces of liquid per hour to stay as hydrated as when I start a run. Most all the articles recommend breaking this into 15-minute intervals, so as a rule I need around 11 ounces every 15 minutes. My Fuel Belt holds 32 ounces total, and my new handheld will hold another 22 ounces, so I’ll be able to set out with 54 available ounces on my 18-miler this weekend, and we’ll see how things go. I’ll try to get around 11 ounces every 15 minutes, and see if I drown. Unfortunately there aren’t any fountains where I’m running, so I may also need to carry a divining-rod for refills. Others have mentioned running with a camel on your back, so they can impart wisdom and encouragement about how they manage to go so long without drinking, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from training so far it’s that a camel can give you one hell of a chafing. And don’t get me started on what it’s like trying to spread Body Glide on them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hydration Nation

It seems my comment in a recent post about my hydration demands outrunning my Fuel Belt supply on my longer runs rang true with many of the running bloggers out there. This has been a brutal summer for race training. High temps, high humidity, a preponderance of angsty vampires, lingering worldwide sorrow over Pluto being stripped of its planetary title …. the perfect storm of fitness obstacles. I bought my Fuel Belt back in December, and while running in the ice and snow (uphill … both ways) I never had any issues with not having enough to drink. In fact, I had to remind myself every 6 miles to down one of the 8-ounce bottles. Summertime training has been a much different story.

I break out in a sweat and start feeling thirsty just from the act of strapping on the Fuel Belt. I have a 4-bottle version, and generally go with 1 8 oz. bottle filled with water (for washing down gels), and 3 bottles filled with Accelerade. Lately, by the time I hit 10 miles I’m usually into my last bottle. This has been workable so far, but this weekend I step up to 18 miles, and still have a 20, 21, 23, and several 14-16 mile long runs lurking over the horizon. Time to step up my hydration game.
Tomorrow morning I'm planning to actually measure my sweat-rate by stepping on the scale before and after my 8-mile run and seeing how much water I'm losing.  Based on the fact that I think I've left a wake behind me on a couple of recent runs, I suspect I'm well beyond the rule-of-thumb rates I've found on the internet.  I've considered pulling neighborhood kids behind me on wakeboards as a new cross-training option.

I’ve ordered the Nathan Quick Draw Elite handheld, which should be showing up in the next couple days. I’m not crazy about running with something in my hands, which I haven’t done since I finally got an MP3 player that I could strap to my arm, and was able to retire the old Sports Walkman in all its retina-burning-yellow glory. I considered going with a hydration pack, but want to give the handheld a go before investing the time into researching and choosing a hydration pack, and investing the $ in yet another running gizmo. However, there is a certain hardcore factor in setting off on a run with a bucket of water strapped to your back that I do find appealing.

In the interest of advance research, is there anybody that has a particularly good or particularly bad experience to share with using a hydration pack while training? Any particular models folks would recommend choosing or avoiding. I’d love to hear some real-world experience with these things.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dancing With the Devil

Completed training week 4 of 17 over the weekend, and overall I’d call it another successful week. Since we were still traveling on vacation I had to cut a couple runs short, but I managed to not miss any runs, and got 33 of the 38 planned miles in the books.

Having come into this training cycle still working against ITBS and Plantar Fasciitis, continuing to increase my mileage has me walking a fine line. It’s a delicate dance between pushing and improving, and pushing and breaking. Yesterday’s 16-mile long run was a pretty big test of just where my knees and feet really are in the healing process. I got a very early start this time, and the weather was cooperative, so I managed to make it through 16.12 miles without any major issues. Ran it at an overall 9:06 pace, which is considerably faster than I intended to run, but I’m finding that as I add speed work mid-week, it’s becoming harder to slow down on my endurance runs.

In terms of injuries, my knees felt good throughout the run, and my right knee is a bit sore today, but it doesn’t feel like it hurts in an injured way. My right heel was making sure I remembered it was there throughout the run, but overall held up pretty well. Some soreness today, but well below the level of pain I felt when the PF was in full effect. My right hamstring was sore before I started the run, thanks to far too much squatting while gardening and pressure-washing on Saturday, and it’s very tender this morning, but I don’t sense this is an ‘injury’ either.

Hydration-wise, I think my 4-bottle Fuel Belt isn’t enough to cover me once my runs get over 12 miles. I’m going to start looking into adding a handheld to the mix on my longer runs. Time to do some research.

16 miles was my longest run so far in the Gel Nimbus 12, and they felt pretty good. Big difference at that distance between my old squishy insoles and my green Superfeet, but I think my soles are getting stronger with the decrease in cushion.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Throwback Training Tunes vol. 5 – triple-shot 1993 edition

The quest continues…
  • Building a playlist with running songs from each of the last 20 years of the 20th century (1980-1999)
  • None of the songs in this list can be in any of the existing playlists on my iPod. As much as I love all the blogging runners and running bloggers out there, this list is for me too.
  • Mainstream to alternative, well-known to abundantly obscure, anything is a potential candidate
  • I’m test-driving anything I post with a listen during at least two training runs
  • Trying to link to a video or audio-clip of the song so we can all remember how awesome we looked in our killer 80s and 90s fashions.

Prior Throwbacks:

‘Ceremony’ by New Order (1981)
‘Look to the Sky’ by the March Violets (1986)
‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ by LL Cool J (1990)
Three Strange Days – School of Fish (1991)
Enter Sandman – Metallica (1991)

Today’s Throwbacks:

Rearviewmirror – Pearl Jam (1993) – I was a big fan of Pearl Jam back when they were hugely popular, but by their 4th album I found that most of their stuff had gone in a different direction than the sound I really liked. They have quite a few songs that make for good running music, but this song has a combination of sound and lyrics that really bring a wave of energy. “I gather speed, from you f-ing with me” …. Gotta love that lyric. Note of caution – running in full grunge apparel, although stylish and rebellious, is not recommended.
A Murder of One - Counting Crows (1993) – The Crows’ first album was a thing of beauty from beginning to end, and this song is a GREAT running song from the second the drums and guitars kick in after a brief intro. Amazing that such a strong debut album could be followed up by so many craptacular efforts. Tried to see these guys in concert in Florida right after this album came out, but Adam Duritz was so stoned that they couldn’t even manage to go on stage. I suppose that’s considered cool if you’re a rock star, but not so cool for those who were foolish enough to buy tickets.

Looking Through Patient Eyes - PM Dawn (1993) – I’m guessing you didn’t see this one coming. Stumbled across this disc while digging through the old collection, and threw this song on the iPod with no real expectations, other than remembering I liked it when it originally came out. Surprisingly, I find it works for me as a running song. Mellows out the middle miles of a run nicely with a smooth sound. Not really sure what ever became of these guys, but this disc was pretty big back in the day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Heat 2, Chris 0

Finally made it back to NC yesterday after 11 days of family vacation.  Overall the trip was a big success, but the two days of driving home were very, very tedious.

Since I needed to do an 8-mile run yesterday, I tried to take advantage of the final few hours of vacation and do an afternoon run.  Pay no attention to the 93-degree reading on the thermometer .... merely details.

Bad idea.

I actually felt really good for the first couple miles, but once I really got to sweating my legs turned to lead.  Managed a little over 3 miles of good running, then quickly devolved into walking/running/flailing while every ounce of liquid was rapidly ringed from my body.  Finally threw in the towel at 6.73 miles.  Live to fight another day, as they say.

Here's the Garmin's-eye view of my wilting:

Somehow I suspect the Chick-Fil-A, mixed nuts, and Diet Coke I consumed while finishing the drive didn't provide the optimal pre-run fuel.  6 miles tonight, 4 on Saturday, and 16 on Sunday.  Time to rally.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Of Fenway and Fartleks

We’ve survived the Boston portion of the vacation, or perhaps more accurately Boston has survived the Southerner invasion. The highlights of the Boston stop were the Duck-boat Tour, where we had a genuinely funny and engaging guide rather than the usual cornball guides who bombard you with painfully overdone puns for an hour+, and the Fenway tour. I’m not even really much of a baseball fan, but you can almost touch the history when you walk through Fenway. Both of my kids are self-proclaimed Red Sox fans because their grandfather has been a lifelong Sox fan, and said grandfather was on the tour with us, which he had never done before. It was a beautiful day and a really interesting way to see the ballpark. A sampling of the sights:

We’re currently in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, enjoying the comparatively frigid conditions versus back home in NC. Overnight lows in the 50s, daytime high today of around 70. Zero humidity. Much love.

I’ve managed to stick to my training plan pretty closely despite the travel. Week 3 was a successful step-back week.

Can’t say my travel diet has been equally successful. Enjoyable …. But not very successful.

Got in 3 runs along the Charles River while in Boston, and really enjoyed the change of scenery. Lots of early-morning crew team practices going on while I was running, which was really fun to watch while knocking out the miles. I don’t think my wife has been terribly amused with my alarm going off at 5AM most mornings, but I’m trying to keep up the running without interfering with the planned activities. By the end of the day I closely resemble a zombie, but that’s not necessarily much different than my non-vacation days.

At the advice of Chris K I googled Fartleks as an addition/alternative to my newfound love of tempo runs, and tried a version of a Fartlek run on our last day in Boston. After about a half-mile warmup I tried to really push the pace for as much as a half-mile at a time, then drop back to my normal pace until my breathing was back to normal, then stepped up the pace, then recovery …. Wash, rinse, and repeat. New approach in a new setting – all good. Here’s what the pace data looked like.

Will definitely be doing some variations of this again once I get back to the homeland.

Internet access is hard to come by here in the mountains, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, it has meant that I’ve hardly had a chance to read any blog entries, so I’m feeling a bit isolated from the bloggy goodness that has become such a part of my morning routine. Looking forward to catching up next weekend.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Throwback Training Tunes vol. 4 - 1991 edition

Despite the family vacation, the quest for some old-school running tunes continues. My self-imposed guidelines:
  • Trying to come up with an honest-to-goodness running song from each of the last 20 years of the 20th century (1980-1999)
  • None of the songs in this list can be in any of the existing playlists on my iPod. As much as I love all the blogging runners and running bloggers out there, this list is for me too.
  • Mainstream to alternative, well-known to abundantly obscure, anything is a potential candidate
  • I’m test-driving anything I post with a test-drive listen during at least two training runs
  • Trying to link to a video or audio-clip of the song so we can all remember how awesome we looked in our killer 80s and 90s fashions.

Prior Throwbacks:
‘Look to the Sky’ by the March Violets (1986)
‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ by LL Cool J (1990)

Today’s Throwbacks:

Three Strange Days – School of Fish (1991) – This song was a happy rediscovery for me. Brings back some good college roadtrip memories. The driving guitar and drums that kick in soon after the intro definitely kick up the energy while banging out the miles. A bit of ear-GU, if you will. Great song from an OK album, but really the only album they put out that held any interest for me. Every once in a while this song gets some random airplay, so you may have heard it before.

Enter Sandman – Metallica (1991) – The popularity of this song marked a sad era for many a headbanger. This song, and the black album, took Metallica into the mainstream, and suddenly everyone knew who they were. My college roommate was a big Metallica fan, so I had heard songs from Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning, etc. more than I would have ever wanted long before the Black album arrived. Most of their stuff was way too headbanger for me, unless I was having one of those days that needed a soundtrack of anger. The black album was metal for the masses, and it definitely found an audience. Enter Sandman has a great combo of guitar and drums that works great for a training run. So far it’s a welcome addition to the playlist, but I’ve heard this song so many times I think I may get tired of it pretty quickly. Time will tell.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tarheels in Beantown

456 miles, and approximately $74,000 in tolls later, we have finally arrived in Boston. Long trip, but not unbearable. The weather is in the mid-70s, which is welcome relief from the hellfire temps we left behind. Hopefully the weather cooperates for the crazy collection of activities over the next few days.

By the time we got settled in our place, did a little exploring and grabbed some dinner it was already dark, so I moved my Sunday run to a Monday early-morning run. Got up far too early, busted out the running gear and headed in the general direction of the Charles River. Went with the assumption that there would be some path/trail options once I got there, and wasn’t disappointed. Week 3 is a step-back week in my plan, so only had a 6-mile long-run on the plan. Took a nice easy pace, enjoyed the scenery, and gave my legs some welcome stretching after too long in the car yesterday.

Week 2 was another good week in terms of miles and overall leg health. Started off with a brutal 12-mile long run on the sun that I covered in an earlier post, but I redeemed myself with the runs for the remainder of the week.

Got in another tempo workout, which is helping speed up my normal pace a bit. Still have some work to do on maintaining a consistent pace across miles. Nothing fancy planned for week 3 in terms of training. Main focus is just getting in the miles while we’re traveling, and not letting running interfere with any of the planned activities and the rare opportunity to spend extended quality time with my family. Really hoping this trip lives up to my wife’s expectations, and provides some lasting memories for my kids. Road trips with my family are some of the more vivid memories I have from my childhood, so if all goes well we’re leaving an imprint on the kids – Griswold style.