Friday, December 31, 2010

Out of the darkness...

Deep in his heart his inner runner lay dormant; a boundless spirit, free to wisp across the open fields like a brisk March wind.  He daydreamed of what it could have been like living in a simpler more primitive time.  A time when he could have run wildly through the forests, beastlike and savage.  Adorned in nothing but his fox pelt loincloth and leather moccasins* he would bolt through the forest leaping over logs and sailing over steams, sweat glistening from his furrowed brow as he forged on in hot pursuit of some unsuspecting wildebeest.  

His feet tread softly on the forest floor making scarcely a noise as he glided** effortlessly over leaf and limb.  As he approached, the prey sensed the presence of the hasty hunter.  It turned its head and in that moment their eyes met.  For a microsecond time froze as the startled beast recognized its dire situation…  And then the chase was on.

In a panic, the wildebeest broke free from the forest, galloping into the open plain.   The hunter followed close on its heels***.  The beast’s terror swelled as it ran for its very life, but the hunter knew that the beast’s efforts were futile.  The hunter could smell the beast’s fear as he sprinted after his prey, the scent pulling him ever nearer to his victim as he used his closing speed to tighten the gap.   30 meters… 20 meters… 10… 5… and then he was upon the creature.  He leapt through the air, legs spread eagle, and straddled the beast’s neck.  Twisting his body in mid air he whipped the beast to the ground and choked the life out of it with a viselike scissor hold of death…

He snaps out of his daydream and back into his modern reality.  The forests and plains have been replaced by cities and concrete.  The wildebeests no longer roam the land.  The primitive utopia is gone, eroded by the sands of time.  But the passion of that primeval runner lives on, burning deep inside his heart and loins****.  In his dreams he has conjured the spirits of his ancient ancestors and he has glimpsed the greatness that lies within us all.  He knows that he must pursue his dreams. He has reawakened the spirit… the spirit of A CHAMPION (echos loudly with plenty of reverb)*****

* and Garmin Forerunner
** or is it glid?
*** actually hoofs would be more appropriate here but that’s not nearly as much of a cliché
****especially his loins.
*****100 blogger posts and counting?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Marathon Monday (4 week lefts... oh crap)


26 days left til the Chicago marathon... can that be right?  Does that really even matter to me?  Will I even be running it?  Can you train and complete a marathon in 26 days?...  I guess we're going to find out!

I went for a "long run" yesterday... my first "long run" in about 7 weeks...  I covered 8 miles...  Is it a bad thing when you experience DOMS from the first couple miles during the last couple miles?  :)

The great new is...  even though I'm sore today, I'm not injured sore... just extremely out of shape sore... although, I guess I can't be in that bad of shape if I can run 8 miles, Can I?... now whether or not I should be even considering running a marathon in less than 4 weeks?  Probably   Definitely not...  But for some reason I just can't quite come to the decision to call it quits...  So when am I gonna decide that it's not a good idea to run this marathon?  Alright, that one's easy... I already know it's not a good idea to run this marathon... But when am I gonna give up the idea that I'm gonna complete this marathon?  1 week before the race?  1 day before the race?  12 miles into the race? 

...and now for something completely different...

Hitting rock bottom...

So I'm feeling better than I have in quite a while and I think it's because I finally hit rock bottom of my fitness decline on Saturday night.  That's right... I went to Cold Stone Creamery for the first time...

So I step inside and the place is packed!  The girls behind the counter are running around bumping into each other trying to keep up with the orders and ice cream is flying everywhere...  I'm not gonna lie... I really enjoy ice cream... but Cold Stone Creamery takes it to a whole other level.  CSC* is a place for ice cream addicts!!!!

So I finally get up to the counter to order and I realize that instead of normal sizes, CSC lists it's sizes as 'like it', 'love it' & 'gotta have it'...  Now in the past I've been opposed to these places and their naming conventions** but I decided to not be such a crumudegeon and order a 'love it' size of the Coffee lover's only ice cream***.  My wife who was with me ordered a small (spoil sport) candy apple.

We get up to the register and everything is so crazy there that they forget to ring us up (the girls making the ice cream are also working the register)... So we wait... and pretty soon the next customer reaches the register and they ring him up...  so we wait, trying to catch the girls attention (without much sucess). And the customer behind us says "I bet you could walk out of here without paying" 

So I turn to him and explain that even though I know I could walk out right now without paying, I pretty much want to pay anyway... an not really because of my conscious... cuz honestly (an it pains me to say it****)... I'm not really a pinnacle of morality and I'm pretty sure I could steal an ice cream cone and not lose a wink of sleep about it... but because I pretty much feel that I'm at a point in my life where pulling a dine and dash on 8 bucks of ice cream just because the poor workers were busting their asses so much would be a blow to my self-respect...

Oh to see the look on that guys face... He was truly confound!  I'm pretty sure he's still sitting at home wondering why on earth I didn't walk out with free ice cream...  Like I said CSC is a place for ice cream addicts!

So we finally pay for the ice cream and my wife takes about two bites and announces:  I'm done... it's too rich for me...

and that's where I have an out of body experience... and I look on in horror as I take my spoon and scoop her enormous 'like it' (i.e. small) sized ice cream into my even more enormous 'love it' (i.e. medium) sized chocolate dipped waffle cone.

By the time I finish her scoop I'm already full... but if you read the first part of my post you'll know that I'm no quitter... and soon I had devoured the whole thing and was finishing up stuffing the last bit of waffle cone into my sticky ice cream covered face... belly full  of cream and sugar... heart full of shame...

One nightmare full, restless night later I knew I had hit rock bottom... and that's when I decided to put an end to the pity party... I spent Sunday eating healthy and exercising and now I feel much better... and hopefully this is truly the start of my next fitness revolution!

*I'm calling CSC it not because it's my trendy new hip nickname for the joint but because otherwise your google ad sense will think that you're a CSC fanatic and all your ads will be about ice cream for the next month which might cause my readers to fall into a fitness downward spiral much like the one I've previously experienced

**Damn it Starbucks... It's 7 in the morning and all I want is a small regular coffee... why do you have to make ordering this coffee more difficult than it already is?

***and just in case you were wondering I told them that I want the 'love it' size in the most effeminate voice I could muster because a) I just spent the morning watching old clips of Men on Film from In Living Color on YouTube... and b) how could I not?

****Not really

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I ran today...

I'm back... wait... 

training resumes now!!!

...nope, still not quite right... 

I ran today...

...Yep, that's just about right...

It's been a tough patch.  I've taken the fall from top fitness.  I've been detrained and totally unmotivated... but I ran today and when you're in recovery you take it one day at a time...

Every new story has a beginning...  maybe today is mine... then again, maybe it isn't... but no matter... I ran today!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

My new passion!!!

About 15 months ago I took up running... I did it to whip myself into shape, to re-energize myself, to challenge myself, and to cross marathon off my bucket list... I hit the pavement with a passion and quickly fell head over heels in love with running; I was infatuated!!!

For months and months I gave my life to running... I didn't eat - I fueled... I didn't drink - I rehydrate...  polyester became my go to fabric of choice (and not just for pickin' up the ladies)...  I read blogs, magazines, websites, forums, and even books about running...

But like many good relationships the initial passion that running and I shared started to fizzle.  I started to begrudge the fact that I'd have to go out and spend my precious free time with running...  Running must have sensed my resentment and as backlash induced pain and suffering into my runs... the time we spent together became less and less fun, until eventually I began to hate running... finally, the pain became too much to bare and I stopped running all together!

And that's when I found my new passion...  sitting around on my ass!!!

A great thing about my new passion is that I have a whole new attitude about life...Everyone expects runners to be energized, active, and full of life. This is not the case for sit-around-on-your-assers... now I can sit around and be in the most depressest, foulest, grumpiest mood imaginable and nobody bats and eye... it's fuckin' great!!!!

Another thing about my new passion is that it's really improved my relationship with my wife... my wife used to quickly grow tired of me constantly talking about running... she'd hate when I wake up early on the weekends to squeeze in a long run on when we could be snuggled under the blankets, sleeping in... Now things are much better... here's a little look into our new home life:

     Wifey:  "Honey, the lawn needs mowed, the dishes are dirty, and the trash needs taken out..."

     Me:  "Not now, I'm busy sitting around on my ass..."

     Wifey: "Oh sorry.  Never mind, I'll take care of it"

Yep, we're communicating like never before... plus, sitting around on our asses is something we can do together... not only that, but nobody expects people who sit around on their asses to complete things that they finish... in fact, it's a victory to even start something... just like this blog post!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Injury update...

In case anyone was wondering I believe I might have just self-diagnosed my random leg injury...

It's my sartorius!!!

Look at how that bastard wraps from hip across the quad and groin and down to the inner knee...  I hope I'm right because it would totally explain why my hip, groin, quad, and inner knee are all randomly tight or sore all the time...  now let's hope I can find some info on rehabbing it!

Also, I've ran 3 times so far this week; a 5 miles, and two 3 milers... not exactly the kind of mileage that will allow me to competatively complete a marathon in less than 2 months, but at this point I'm happy to be doing anything...

Finally (and completely off topic), the Cardinals are playing the Cubs tonight so in honor of that I'll leave with this Cubs fan hat fail... yep, that's a typical Cubs fan for ya...

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm back?

It's been 3 weeks since I went down injured!!!... talk about a long and frustrating healing process!

I was starting to wonder if I'll ever be able to train again... in fact, it's been so long I'm starting to doubt if I was ever a runner in the first place... Did I really run 1500+ miles over the last 15 months or was it all a dream?

The good news is that my undiagnosed right groin/quad/hip/knee/blank* injury is slowly but steadily healing and I even got out for a relatively pain free (if you exclude the excruciatingly slow pace) 5 mile jaunt today.  It wasn't my only run during the last 3 weeks, but it was most certainly my most successful... Not only was I pain free enough during the run that I could actually enjoy it a little bit, but I am also pain free enough now (several hours after the run) that I'm not regretting the decision. 

Anyway, after today's run, I'm optimistic that I might actually be able to run more than once this week (especially since it's Monday)... heck, maybe I'll even get double digit miles in... so based on my current condition, I'm going to tentatively declare myself "back".

Next on my agenda... preparation for a little local race coming up in just over 2 months (I think it's called the Chicago Marathon)... Oh well,  I'm not going to worry about 26.2 right now... I'd be content if I could get in 2.6 miles tomorrow!!!

*name any random leg part

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life on the DL...

If you happened to notice my recent lack of blogger activity, here's why:  I'm Injured!!! 

It's been a rough couple of weeks... Lack of running has left me feeling completely unfocused, unmotivated, depressed, and otherwise blah! 

The good news is that I'm starting to feel better.  After 8 days off (minus a 2.75 mile run/walk/disaster somewhere in the middle) I successfully was able to run 5 miles on Tuesday at recovery pace and then another 5 miles today at general aerobic pace. Just getting those few miles in has drastically improved my disposition.

So what exactly is my injury?  Good question... Truth be told, I'm not exactly sure... I have a couple of theories, but all I really can say is that I have a gimp right leg... It might be a quad strain?  I definitely feel some weakness in the quad, but I've found soreness in my groin, inner knee, and hip... also tightness in my hip flexor and ITB...

Not sure if the Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot caused me to modify my stride which led to my gimp leg conditions or if the gimp leg caused the PF or if they're even related at all...

All I really know is that when I ran, it hurt!  Not sharp pain that I could pinpoint but just general tightness and discomfort in all things right leg. 

For a while I ran through the discomfort... I found that if I could make it through 4-5 miles it would eventually loosen up and feel ok... I trained through the pain for 2 weeks, hoping it would improve... it only seemed to get worse... at a certain point I realized that my stride was changing since I was basically limping!!! So, I finally made the tough choice to stop training and let the damn thing heal...

I'm still not 100% but I'm definitely improving...  not sure how this will effect the big picture of my marathon training... I'm hoping I can easy back into it over the next two weeks but I'm probably going to have to cut down a bit on the mileage and intensity... I'm just going to get back to the basics:  Listening to my body, training within my limits, and let the cards fall where they may...Overall, I'm optimistic.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Marathon training update (12 weeks left til Chicago!!!)

I guess it’s too late to call this a Marathon Monday post… how bout Training Tuesday?!?

I’ve actually been a little bit swamped with work (which is kinda nice for a change) and with life (also not bad) so I’m going to keep this post brief… Here’s my numbers:

Week 6 stats (2010)                                                                       Week 6 stats (2009)
50.96 miles                                                                                     20.29 mile
8:04 average pace                                                                           8:50 average pace
long run – 18.6 miles                                                                       long run – 9 miles

Looking at the numbers you’d think that I had a pretty good training week last week… and for the most part you’d be right… I had an awesome tempo run: 10 miles at an average of 7:22 including 5 miles at 6:50 pace… I also had an awesome long run: 18.6 miles at 8:13 pace…

My only problem is that my right foot is starting to experience some plantar fasciitis. It started off mild and it’s still not horrible, but running on it isn’t exactly helping it get better either… The good part right now is that it doesn’t really bother me too much during my runs (except for a little at the beginning)… I’m just wondering how long that’s going to last.

For now, I’m planning to just keep running on it while at the same time applying an aggressive treatment strategy of icing, stretching, and denial…

Friday, July 16, 2010

I'm Rick James, Bitch!!!

My blog recently received a generous shout out from da "redhead" on her blog where she wrote:
"if you don't follow Ethan, you should, cuz he's absolutely friggin' hilarious!"
Over night, my blog followers swelled to a record 71*...  Which is to be expected since "Caution: Redhead Running" is the 17th most popular running related blog on the Internet**

I'm honored by the complement... but at the same time I'm terrified...On one hand, I'm one of the funniest, smartest, and humblest people I know... but on the other, can I really continue to produce the brilliantly witty prose that you people yearn for, day in and day out?!? 

Suddenly, I have expectations to live up to!  In hindsight I wish that I had the foresight to declare my site boring from the get go; then if I happened to write a clever post on occasion it would be a pleasant surprise... but alas, I didn't, and now the pressure of these expectations is becoming a lot for this Champion to shoulder...

...Hopefully I can take it... If not, I guess I'll be forced to quit the blog and run off to South Africa, Dave Chappelle style...

*Technically 70 since one of the followers is me...

** I totally made this up... but I figured that since I built up my legitimacy as a premier blogger researcher with my "Origins of Three Things Thursday" post that I can now make up random facts about blogger and people will believe them...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cardiac Creep

Yesterday I headed out for a recovery 4 miler.  I had my heart rate monitor in tow because I'm a big proponent of using heart rate training zones, especially during recovery runs (otherwise, I inevitably wind up running too hard).

When heart rate training I normally use the Karvonen formula (%intensity/100*(Max HR - Resting HR) + Resting HR) so I can base my training levels off of my heart rate reserve .  

Since this was a recovery run I was targeting an intensity of <70%... plugging my personal heart rate numbers into the formula I get  .7*(193-43)+43 = 148... so the goal for this run was to keep my heart rate under 148.  

So I'm going along for about 5 minutes at a perceived pace that seemed excruciatingly slow but when I look down at my heart rate monitor it says that my heart rate is already over 150... so I slow down a tad and focus on really taking it easy but then I look down at my heart rate monitor again and my heart rate is approaching 160!

At this point, I'm going about as slow as I'm willing/able to go.  Not only that but I feel great!  So I keep a level effort and finish out my run... but by the end my heart rate is approaching 170!!!

Here's the caveat to this story: it was 92 *F out with heat index of 101 *F, and subsequently I was experiencing an acute case of cardiac creep...

Cardiac creep is a phenomenon that happens during hot weather conditions when your heart works extra hard to increase blood flow to your skin so that you can sweat and cool off.  Essentially, it's a biological radiator.  Additionally, as your body expels water in the form of sweat, your blood volume reduces and your heart needs to work even harder to get the required amount of oxygen to your exercising muscles... or to put in in layman's terms:  a little man aka "the Cardiac Creep" with a cartoon sized sledge hammer was bludgeoning away at my heart!!!

So what does this all mean???  Basically it means that heart rate training zones are meaningless in extreme weather conditions and that you're better off sticking to perceived effort... It also means that I wasn't over exerting myself during my recovery run (which my final pace seemed to corroborate)... on the other hand I'm skeptical that doing anything outside during this heat wave can really be considered recovery?!? 

Final lesson learned:  I'm running today's tempo run inside on the treadmill!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Marathon Monday (3 months left addition)

Lucky number 13 weeks left... I hope I can take it!

Running the razors edge…

One of the most difficult aspects while marathon training is finding just the right recipe of hard work and recovery… Train too hard and you’ll find yourself hobbling across the starting line, injured and over-trained. Don’t train enough and you’ll find yourself hobbling across the finish line, injured and under-trained. Somewhere between these two extremes lies the delicate balance that will deliver you to race day with a strong and sound body capable of reaching your current potential.
I try to “listen to my body”… it’s just that often I find myself telling my body to “Shut the F*ck up!!!”… which brings me to my predicament now: I’m 13 weeks out from my marathon, I still have the majority of my training ahead of me, and my body is already starting to feel like certain key muscles, ligaments, and tendons are being held together by duct tape… I have some very mild plantar fasciitis in my right foot, a dull pain in my right quadriceps, and a knotty left calf…
The good news is that all of my various aches and pains… hopefully nothing a couple of days off will fix… which is why I don’t feel guilty (okay, maybe a little bit guilty) when I tell you that after finishing up my 17 mile long run on Saturday, I decided to take Sunday and Monday completely off… hopefully my body will thank me tomorrow as I head out for a 10 miler.
Training update

Lots of slow, suffering, shuffling, 90+ degree miles…started off Tuesday with a 10 miler, then recovered with 4 on Wednesday before tackling a 7 miler on Thurday which included 6Xhills in the middle.  Took Friday off, and then ran my long run of 17 miles on Saturday before another day off Sunday. 

So that's four runs and three days off... more than I usually take but with the heat and my beat up body I'm still happy to get almost 40 miles in.
Chicago 2009 training comparison flashback

Week 5 stats (2010)                                                      Week 5 stats (2009)
38.11 miles                                                                    26.52 mile
8:27 average pace                                                          7:50 average pace
long run - 17 miles                                                          long run - 13.1 miles (Joker's Wild - half marathon)

Just over a year ago I ran my first half-marathon!

Look into my crystal ball

First 50+ week planned for this week... hopefully the extra days off last week will help me meet my target this week!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The many faces of daily mile

Rant of the week... What's up with those faces on Daily Mile?  If you're a Daily Mile user than you probably know what I'm talking about... if not here's the 411...  Whenever you enter a new workout in Daily Mile the program asks you "How did you feel?"...  And then you answer by choosing from a variety of emoticons...

The gripe I have is that the intention of the descriptions and faces just don't seem to align with the way I actually would feel during training... here, let me give you the break down so I can explain myself better...

Here's the face you get if you felt "great" during a run... but how often do you feel "great" during a run? I might feel great about a run or after a run, but the only time you'd ever see me running along with a big shit eating grin plastered on my face is maybe during my last week of marathon taper when I'm totally rested and intentionally running at recovery pace anyway...  I guess I'll call this one my taper face (sounds like some kind of depraved sex act you'd find on

This next face is what you put down if you felt "good" during a run... no real gripe with this one, except this is probably more of the face I'd have if I felt "great"... It's not that I don't like smiling, in fact I smile quite a bit... just not when I'm running, and certainly not ear to ear!

This face is what you choose if you felt "Alright", and here's where my problems really start to escalate... Does that dude look alright to you?  To me, he looks like he just dropped his ice cream cone or his puppy ran away... and my problem with this one doesn't just end with the face... I just don't like their use of the word "alright"... ask me on any given day how my run went and I'd probably answer either "not bad" or "alright"... to me, an "alright" run is a successful run... after all, I'm not skipping through a flowery field with a  bluebird on my shoulder... I'm marathon training goddamn it!!!

This is the face you choose if you were feeling "Blah"... I guess the description is okay... I mean everyone has those days where they just feel blah... on the other hand I actually have "blah" days scheduled into my plan... they're called recovery days and they're put there specifically because I know I'm going to feel blah... for instance I just ran a particularly hard interval session on Tuesday so I'm going to run a 3 miler at recovery pace on Wednesday since I'll be feeling blah... so since it's part of my plan I don't like the way Daily Mile is insinuating that "Blah" is a bad thing.... also what's up with the face?  The "Alright" guy... he looks blah to me... the "Blah" guy?  I've seen that face before... He looks like he's about to crap his pants!!! (shout out to Adam over at "the boring runner" on this one)
And then there's tired guy...  first off, is that guy sweating or is he crying???  somebody get him a Kleenex... and for god sakes man, suck it up, the run couldn't have been that bad...  Also... what do you mean tired?  If I just finished a tempo run, or interval run, or medium long run, or long run, or race then you're damn right I'm tired!!!  Once again, I feel like Daily Mile is insinuating that being tired is a bad thing, when really it's kind of the point of what I'm doing... I mean honestly, if I get done with a quality work out and I don't feel even the least bit tired then I probably didn't push myself hard enough!!!

Finally there's injured face... Looks like this guy took either a stick to the eye or sustained some kind of head wound... either way he probably shouldn't be running... now, I guess it could be an injury that didn't affect his running in which case I don't see the relevancy of including it in a running log... on the other hand if this is refereeing to an actually running related injury, then once again, HE PROBABLY SHOULDN'T BE RUNNING... unless of course it's just a minor ache and pain type injury... the type that inevitably comes with the territory of being a runner... in which case I could probably use this face every freakin' day, effectively rendering it meaningless... basically, no matter how you look at it, this one is completely moot!!!

Anyway, to wrap this post up I'm going to leave you with some suggestions for some emoticons that might actually fit my mood after a run a little better... take em' or leave em' Daily Mile

exhibit A: exhibit B: exhibit C:

exhibit A:  I just finished a killer speed work session emoticon

exhibit B: maybe I had a bad run... maybe I had a great run... maybe a dog attacked me... or maybe someone stopped me and asked me for directions while I was running... doesn't really matter why, but sometimes I just finish up a run full of irrational anger which takes 2 or 3 minutes of recovery to dissipate. 

& exhibit C:  Not sure if this one pertains to running, but I think it pertains to me... cuz "that boy ain't right" and neither am I!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Marathon Monday (Tuesday edition)

After a fun but exhausting 4th of July weekend/beer, brat, and chicken wing binge it's time to get my (aching) head back into the game... less than 14 weeks to marathon time!!!


About a month ago the company that I work for announced an inter-office virtual race.  Anyone from the company who wanted to participate could run a 5k and then the top 3 times from each age group would score points for the office "team".    The winning office receives "bragging" rights and gets to hold onto the trophy for a year...

Since then, I've had it in the back of my mind that I was going to run a 5k.  I initially planned on running it 2 weekends ago at a race where several of the other participating members of my office were going to be running.  However, the time didn't work particularly well with my training schedule, plus the race was 45 minutes from my house so I said "screw em'"...

Instead, I settled on a local Peoria race called the Firecracker 5000 because it was only 4 miles from my house, the course was advertised as "Flat and Fast", there was 100 dollars of prize money offered to the winner (I didn't expect to win but I figured it would provide a stronger field for competition), and it fit much better into my training schedule.

I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday morning and ran four miles from my house to downtown Peoria where the race was being held.  Since the race was scheduled for 7:30 am I was hoping for some decent temperatures but as the start time approached the temperature was already creeping into the 80s...

I lined up near the front, the air horn sounded, and we were off... the local elites blazed ahead and I soon found myself in the midst of off-season undertrained high school kids and ex-high school cross-country running college kids.  I did my best to ignore the surging and faltering around me and focused on dictating my own pace.  I hit the first mile marker at 6:00 flat.

The course was essentially an out and back loop with one block separating the out from the back.  The first 1.5 miles we ran from West to East, right towards the hot and blinding sun, so I was relieved when I finally hit the turn around point.  I turned right, headed down a block, and then made another right onto a  walking path that follows along the Illinois river as I finished up my 2nd mile for a 6:10 split.

As I hit the 2 mile point the wheels started to come off.  I think that I can attribute my downfall to multiple factors:  lack of taper, my recent increases in mileage and intensity, the heat, my lack of actual speed work... Regardless of the cause, I was suddenly suffering and my pace slowed down considerably.  "keep going... almost there" I kept thinking to myself, but my legs wouldn't respond... and that's when I totally got chicked!!!  I'm at about the 2.25 mile point and the female winner blows past me...  I briefly consider trying to stick with her, but ultimately just wind up eating dust... leaving me to struggle on to a 6:30 3rd mile followed by the final .1 mile kick to the finish line at a 5:40 pace (where was that extra energy at when I was getting chicked?!?).

After the race I stuck around for the awards and lucky for me I'm only 31 years old so I wound up getting a medal 1st place in my age division! I say lucky for me because I would've came in 3rd if I was between 40-44, and I wouldn't have placed at all if I was between 45-49... I guess I'll need to get fast enough to place overall if I want to get away from the arbitrariness of the age divisions... of course, the top two runners both went sub-16:00 so I guess I have a ways to go.

Final Stats:
Distance: 5k
Time: 19:18 (11 second PR!)
Div. Place: 1/46
Tot. Place: 20/667

Ultimately I've got to call the race a bittersweet success.  On the one hand I PR'd by 11 seconds and took home some first place hardware... but on the other, I hit mile 2 averaging a 6:05 pace and then totally crashed... as the saying goes: in a 5k you run the first mile with your legs, the second with your mind, an the 3rd with your heart.  This time, the heart just wasn't there.  Next time, hopefully it will be, and I'll go sub-19.

Training update

For the third week in a row I got into the gym on Monday for some weight work... My running week began Tuesday with a 7 mile run which included 3 tempo miles @ 6:43 pace.  Wednesday I ran an easy 4 mile recovery run so that I'd be ready for Thursday's moderately hilly, 10 mile, medium long run which I ran at medium hard pace (7:34).  Friday was my usual two mile recovery run with the dogs (find that I actually feel better Satuday if I run 2 easy miles on Friday as opposed to taking the day off).  The four generally base pace miles on Satuday before wrapping up the week with a 12 mile Sunday which included running to the race, racing a 5k, cooling down, and finally running back home.

Chicago 2009 training comparison flashback

Week 4 stats (2010)                                     Week 4 stats (2009)
38.49 miles                                                29.17 miles
7:54 average pace                                      8:13 average pace
long run - 12 miles (plus a mid-week 10)      long run - 11 miles

uh oh... the weeks are starting to look comparable... then again, this week was a step-back week for me this year, and last year it was a step-up week... 

Look into my crystal ball

48 miles planned for this week with a mid-week hill workout and long run of 18.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Race Packet 1up

This quick post is dedicated to Anabela Neves from "It's Life, Max It Out" who recently wrote a race report on the Tim Horton's Peachbud 10k in which she ranted about the contents of the race kit she received...  more specifically she said that she was:
"disappointed in the actually race kit......It was a reusable bag, a magazine and yes there was also a yard waste paper bag... And the magazine is actually a magazine about triathlon......why would I want that! This was a 1K, a 5K and a 10K race."
I suppose she has a point about the magazine thing... then again, I suppose that at least some of the runners also probably participate in triathlons so the magazine was at least close to reaching the right demographic...

I reference this because I picked up a race packet today for the "Firecracker 5K" that I'll be running tomorrow in downtown Peoria, and I also was a little bit surprised by the magazine contents of my race packet...  Check it out:

Like Anabela, I'm a little confused why I would want the self proclaimed "world's largest gun sales publication!"...
But then I remembered that it was a 4th of July race... so I figured what better way to honor our countries independence then to celebrate our 2nd amendment rights by carelessly firing semi-automatic rifles into the air?!?

Oh Well, HAVE A HAPPY 4th of JULY!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Origins of Three Things Thursday

You seen it before: “3 Things Thursday”… the generic template post that has been taking the running blog world by storm. Last Friday morning I wrote my own post, titled “Four Things Friday”, that questioned who the creator of “3 Things Thursday” was… Little did I know that the 20 minutes I spent writing that post would ultimately lead me into hours and hours of internet research as I attempted to unravel the origins of “3 Things Thursday”…


Celebrity rumors, urban myths… they spread like wildfire but where do they start? Who was the first person that claimed that you get straight A’s for the semester if your college roommates kill themselves  or that Richard Gear stuck a gerbil up his butt (Richard Gears ex-publicist???)? Someone must have said it first but tracing the origins of such things would be damn near impossible… So, when I question “Who invented 3 Thing Thursdays?” I didn’t really expect to get an answer… so when Adam over at “I am boring” commented that Morgan over at “CAUTION: Redhead Running” had first started the “3 Things Thursday” trend my interest was peaked… Could this be true? Did Morgan really start this blogger craze that is exponentially spiraling out of control?

I decided I'd be best off going right to the source so I e-mailed Morgan and asked her if she created "Three Things Thursday"... here's here reply:
"I am in fact the creator of 3 Things Thursday and I came up with it as a way to convey a few things when I didn't have anything noteworthy to write a whole post about. It's come in handy, for instance when I was moving and had nothing running related to talk about but wanted to check in."
So to sum it up, "3 Things Thursday" is like blogger crack... no need to spend hours carefully constructing a post... all you have to do is wait till Thursday, spurt out three unrelated things, and Viola... you have yourself a post... not only that, but judging from the response across the blogosphere people can't get enough of it!!!

I decided to dig deeper… multiple hours and several dozen internet searches later here’s what I came up with… a by no means comprehensive list of blogs that have incorporated “3 Things Thursday” into their rotation:

Blog Title:                                     First 3 Things Thursday Post:

       Special note on these first 5 blogs because they actually attributed the idea to "The Redhead"

Running Laur                                12/03/09
Dietician on the run                       04/29/10
Runner Nic                                   05/20/10
morning runner                             10/29/09
Mission to a(nother) marathon       09/10/10

        and the list continues...

Melissa Nibbles                           12/03/09
run, courtney, run                         04/08/10
racing with babes                         02/18/10
running in pigtails                          01/28/10
MCM Momma                            12/10/09
Eating Good Stuff                         09/17/10
My own party of 5                       10/15/09
dare to tri                                     01/07/10
running off at the mouth                02/11/10
I have run                                     02/04/10
50 sticky fingers                            03/11/10
running rambles                            06/24/10
carpool queen                              05/27/10
I run because… I can                   01/28/10
Tall Mom Running                        04/15/10

        I'm going to look at these next few in a bit more detail because I was entertained by the way that they initially broke into the world of "Three Things Thursday"

adventures of badger girl              01/21/10
Badgergirl writes: "So many other bloggers do this, so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon."  ...It's the beginning of 2010 "Three Things Thursday" is already becoming a craze!
lizard runs                                   03/25/10
Lizard writes: "Can just anybody do these blog themes? I hope so, because I’m about to"
...Lizard is obviously tenative about his first hit off the "3 Things Thursday" pipe but ultimately he can't resist its sweet nectar!
a code geeks tail                         03/11/10

Wes writes: "In the past, I've avoided these "templates" for blog posts, primarily because with my ever running mouth and thought process, I had no shortage of material. Now, with time being in such demand, I'm rather liking the framework of this one, and no doubt others will follow."  - Wes has published ThreeThings Thursday 7 times since he wrote this back in March!!!
  and finally...

redhead running                          07/01/09

But here's the twist... 07/01/09 was actually a Wednesday!!! Never the less, this was the first occurance of "Three Things Thursday"...  or was it?!?

  As I dug deeper into my Google search I came across this:

hear me in harmony                    02/05/09
Melanie says "Some of you “long-time readers” may remember a feature around here called Tuesday’s Things to Be Happy About.  I stopped doing it about a year ago, but I decided I wanted to bring it back, both because I miss it and because I feel like I need something that forces me to post when I otherwise might let posting slide.  I was going to call it Ten Things Tuesday, but I like the alliteration of this a little better, plus it’s not so ambitious, which will help me not feel not so much pressure."
Turns out Melanie wrote a "Three Things Thursday" post almost 5 months before Morgan's first post.  My conclusion here is that Melanie and Morgan both came up with Three Things Thursday on their own.... and wouldn't be suprised if I dug deeper and found even more spontanious occurances of "Three Things Thursdays" in the blogger world.  It's just such an obvious blogger device that somebody (or multiple somebodies) were bound to come up with it...I will say that "Three Things Thursday" has definitely made it's mark on the running blog community and that Morgan can definitely be given the credit for creating and popularizing it in this context!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Marathon Monday (15 week out edition)

Another week in the books... 15 weeks left!!!

Running Naked :(
I'll spare you the lame jokes and sexual innuendos and jump straight to the point...
 Last fall I wrote a post about how sweat got into my first iPod and fried it.  The picture on the left shows how I was planning to MacGyver my new iPod in order to make it more sweat resistant... That's when Morgan over at CAUTION: Redhead Running swooped in and spared me the embarrassment and hassle of running around with a ziplock bag duct-taped to my arm by recommending the sleek little neoprene carrying case you see on the right brought to you from the folks at grantwood... The case worked amazingly for the last 8 months, but even minimalist waterproof neoprene is no match for my sweaty monster self...Yesterday at 9:45 am I officially killed my second iPod as sweat moisture wicked through the velcro armband into the neoprene case and eventually into my shoddily made iPod :(

So it looks like I'll be running naked (sans iPod) for the next few weeks as I save up some funds and I try to figure out which portable MP3 player to purchase next... my choices are buy another iPod and do a little MacGyvering to my neoprene arm band to further prevent sweat from reaching the electronic components, but I kind of feel stupid shelling out hundreds of dollars to Apple for a device that can't handle a bit of moisture even though it's marketed as a music player to use while working out... either that or I try to find something more reasonable priced and durable... then again the iPod's are so shiny and sleek and cool looking... oh, decisions, decisions...

It's not all bad though... you know what they say... when life gives you lemons, make lemoncellos... so now that I won't have the music of my iPod distracting me I plan on using the next few weeks concentrating on my form (though maybe I shouldn't be messing with perfection).

Weekly Recap
I had an awesome week of training... after hitting the weightroom on Monday I started off my running week on Tuesday with a general aerobic 9 miler on the treadmill at sub 8 minute pace... Wednesday I headed for the hills for a brutal 6Xhill workout (as previously documented on this blog)... After a recovery 4 miler and 2 miler ran respectively on Thursday and Friday, I decided to skip out on a 5k I was contemplating running on Saturday and instead opted for a 6.2 mile marathon pace/steady state run (aka 10k aka 109.36 football fields) at 7:06 pace (still 10 seconds faster than my intended pace but actually not a bad pacing effort relative to what I normally do)... Sunday I finished out the week with an 18 mile long run.

Chicago 2009 training comparison flashback

Week 3 stats  (2010)                                   Week 3 stats (2009)
45.01 miles                                                16.6 miles
8:02 average pace                                      8:31 average pace
long run - 18.14 miles                                 long run - 6 miles

Gotta be happy about that comparison... last year I was seriously feeling the effects of the increased mileage.  Luckily it was a step-back week so I took an extra day off and still struggled through the 6 mile "long run"...  This year, now that I'm actually going into marathon training with an adequate base I can handle 40+ mile weeks and still knock out several quality sessions... last year my marathon training peaked at a 50 mile week with a 22 mile long run... right now I'm almost to 50 miles and have already hit an 18 miler... I pretty much feel like if my marathon was just 2 weeks away instead of 15 weeks away I could taper right now and already beat my PR of 3:39... definitely a good place to be at this point in my training cycle.

Look into my crystal ball

The plan for Week 4 is to hold steady in the mid 40 mileage range but to step back the intensity just a hair... I still have a tempo run planned for Tuesday, but I'm limiting the tempo section of the run to about 3 miles... I also 5k planned for Sunday to access my current fitness... I'm cutting my long run back down to 14 miles (which I'll be incorporating my warm-up, 5k, and cool down into).  However I also have a medium long run of 10 miles scheduled for mid week.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Four Things Friday

As 5 hour energy begat 6 hour power, and as 8 minute abs begat 7 minute abs... now, one time only, the makers of Three Things Thursday bring you FOUR THINGS FRIDAY!!!

1. When I first started reading blogs I'd come across a weekly phenomenon on one or two of the blogs I'd follow called: Three Things Thursday...  as I got deeper into the game I began to see more and more blogs that followed the blogger ritual of Three Things Thursday...

2. A quick Google search for "Three Things Thursday" yielded 302,000 results... and judging from the first 10 search results it definitely seems to be primarily a runner blogger phenomenon (I know, not super scientific of me, but it's not like I'm submitting this research to a peer reviewed journal or anything)... I noticed that Google has a new search option where you can narrow down the time window of the search so I figured I'd search older and older times until I found the original post... after several search interations I finally narrowed it down to one search result back in June 2006 from Jess over at 21 days...  I was excited!!!  So I head over to 21 days to check out my searched out result...FAIL.  Turns out the phrase "Three Things Thursday" that Google was detecting was actually in her "other blogs I follow" sidebar and that the "Three Things Thursday" word string was actually detected from a blog entry written yesterday...  I guess this means that Jess has one of the oldest running blogs on Blogger... it also means that if you write a post today, it could update a webpage written 5 years ago (basically time travel!!!)... it didn't however bring me any closer to the origins of "Three Things Thursday"

3. So why "Three Things Thursday" anyway... why not "Four Things Friday" (8,750 google entries or about 3% of the amount as "Three Things Thursday") or "Two Things Tuesday" (66,700 google entries or about 22% of the amount as "Three Things Thursday")???... seems like people are just fascinated with 3... after all so many things come in 3's -  Time (past, present, future), Life Cycle (you're born, you live, you die), Religion (the father, son, holy ghost for you Christians out there, or the three "fates" for those of you who still follow Greek Mythology), the Primary Colors (red, blue, yellow) Freud's division of the psyche (Id, Ego, & Super-Ego)... 3 points define a plane, 3 strikes you're out... 3 times a charm... 3 is a magic number... the list goes on and on and on...

4. Anyway, that's enough rambling for one day... don't feel like I came any closer to figuring out the mysteries of the origins of "Three Things Thursday"... also aren't sure why I'm so fascinated... I guess I'm a bit of a blogger sociologist (unfortunately for me since my mother-in-law is a sociologist)... How bout you?  Do you know the origins of "Three Things Thursday"... if so, please share!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quest for the Maximum Heartrate

Quick note before I start my actual post... How bout team USA soccer, huh? Some people say that watching soccer is boring because of the low scoring, but you can't really beat the excitement of a buzzer beating goal in the 91st minute to win the game and the group and send your team to the next round!!! Plus, I've been known to sit down and watch entire marathons on Universal Sports and my favorite professional sport is baseball so soccer is right up my alley! Anyway, on to my post...
It’s been over a year since I’ve come anywhere close to maximum heart rate, a 190 bpm effort during my finishing kick at last years Steamboat Classic 15k. These days I’m lucky if I hit 180… even during my most recent 5k PR I only was able to achieve 181…
Not that this is a problem by any means... in fact I take is as a positive because I assume the fact that my heart rate peaks so much lower than it did a year ago can be attributed to my drastically increased level of fitness.  Also, peak heartrate during a given run is more or less meaningless...

So why am I talking about this?  Because last Sunday I called my father (who’s also a runner) for father’s day and he wound up going into a story about how he had recently went to the cardiologist to get his heart checked out… They put him on a treadmill for a stress-test and eventually he gets his heartrate up to 183, which he holds for over a minute (meaning that his actual max is probably even higher). 183?!? Did I mention that the dude is 63 years old? So much for 220 minus your age (which would put him at a max of 157)…

That got me thinking… what if my max heart rate is actually higher than the 193 that I’ve been estimating it at???  That could really change-up what my heart rate zones are!  Only one way to check… time to head for the hills… And wouldn’t you know it, I had 6Xhill repeats on my schedule for the week!

So today, I jog a 2 mile warm-up over to Reservoir Hill (pictured above) for some top quality hill work...  The hill is about a 7% grade and 300 meters in length and so I decided to approach my workout like this:  For the first three repeats I'd run the entire 300 meters at a moderate pace, turn around, and jog back down the hill.  Then for the next 2 repeats I would increase the pace but only run 200 meters of the way up the hill, thus maintaining a similar overall intensity but shortening the recovery period.   Then for the last repeat I would keep the same intensity as my previous 200 meter repeats but when I hit the 200 meter mark, instead of turning around and jogging back down, I would sprint all out for the last 100 meters up the hill.

On the right you can see a Garmin chart of how I did... I covered nearly 2 miles (about 1 mile up and 1 mile down) and ultimately achieved a peak heartrate of 191.  One thing I found interesting about the graph was that both my peak heart rate and minumum recovery heartrate on each hill seemed to increase  basically linearly.

So ultimately today was a success!  I achieved a 191 recorded heartrate, one bpm higher than my previous record... on the other hand it doesn't seem to indicate that my actual max is any higher than the 192-193 bpm's I originally thought it was, so I guess I didn't inherit by dad's beast heart...  then again, I wonder what might have happened if I had tried just one more hill repeat after I had hit the 191???  Seems like a sequel to this saga might be in the works... not anytime soon though... my heart, body, and mind have had enough for now, especially with weather conditions like these!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Marathon Monday (16 week out edition)

Just in case you haven't noticed (new banner, training schedule link above blog, constant references) I've been gearing up for the Chicago Marathon for quite some time... now with 16 weeks left I'm ready to get super-duper-uber-serious by starting a weekly segment called marathon Monday where I can post training updates and put down general thoughts on my upcoming marathon.

Unveiling my marathon goal!!!

I should probably plead the fifth here but... I'm just going to be straight up honest instead.

In my heart of hearts I really want to qualify for Boston!!!... now sure, lots of people want to qualify for Boston and that doesn't mean it's going to happen but... in my heart of hearts I feel that I might actually have an outside shot of doing it and here's why:

My Mcmillan 5k PR (currently 19:29) predicts me at a 3:09:56... My Mcmillan'd 8k PR (currently 32:19) predicts me at a 3:11:09 (ok, not quite a BQ but close enough for my heart of hearts)... I still have 750+ miles of training planned before the race and I've only been running for a little over a year so I'm still improving very quickly...

However, my brain of brains has a different opinion... here's what it thinks:

Sure you're 5k time predicts a BQ but basing your marathon pace off 5k time just about absolute nonsense!  Now a half-marathon, that would be a decent predictor... and your half-marathon time of 1:34:37 predicts that you're going to run a 3:19:33 which is nowhere near a BQ and even with an additional 5 months of training that's a lot of time to trim... not only that but your marathon PR is 3:39:34 so you're talking about trimming 30 minutes off your time and more than a minute off your pace... not nessessarily realistic goal setting if you put it that way...

Now if I was truely being realistic I'd say that 3:15 would probably be a tough but attainable goal time for me... however, if I show up on marathon day, run with the 3:15 pace group, feel great, and finish strong with a 3:13:xxish time I would really regret not going for the 3:10...

I guess ultimately I'm going to cop out on this whole goal setting thing and say that I'm going to wait to see how my training goes before picking a goal.

and... my first marathon training update

Week 1
Now technically my self-authored training grid started 2 weeks ago but since the Madison to Chicago 200 Relay fell during my first week of training it kind of mucked things up... my mileage suffered that week... on the bright side all the miles I did wind up running were of quality.  During that week I ran a sub 6 minute mile anniversary time trial, some hills, 2-a-day tempo runs, and ended it with a sub 8 minute 12+ miler on tired legs!!!

Week 2
This relay induced intensity launched me into training week 2 sore and tired.  I took Sunday and Monday off to help aid my recovery and followed up with a recovery paced 4 miler on the treadmill on Tuesday.  By Wednesday my legs (especially my quads) still felt pretty trashed but I decided I had to get some mileage in regardless so I went ahead and set out for a easy 7 miler... the first couple miles started out rough, but then suddenly my legs loosened up and I miraculously felt 1000% better.  About 5 miles into this run I had to tackle one of the tougher hills in the area (one that I normally fear) and climbed up it smoothly with no problems!!! Thursday I had a 5 mile fartlek scheduled... my legs still didn't feel completely recovered but I figured I'd at least squeeze in four or five pick-ups during the run... I took off from my house and even though my legs felt stiff and sorish I felt like my turnover was faster than normal and spontaneously I inadvertently found myself smack in the middle of a tempo run!  I hit the first mile at 7:20 pace and after loosening up I finished out the last four miles of the run at a 6:55 pace and wound up running 7:00 pace flat... this left me tired for Friday and Saturday and I wound up running 2 miles and 5+ miles respectively on those days at recovery pace... I finished up my week Sunday with some good ol' fashioned LSD (long slow distance)... 15 miles at 8:40 pace with the first mile ran at 8:42 and the last mile ran at 8:38 (significant because I was able to exhibit the control and consistency that is normally lacking from my long runs)...

Chicago 2009 training comparison flashback

Week 1 stats  (2010)                                   Week 1 stats (2009)
28.45 miles                                                24.17 miles
7:34 average pace                                      8:24 average pace
long run - 12.23 miles                                 long run - 8 miles

Week 2 stats (2010)                                     Week 2 stats (2009)
38.73 miles                                                25.47 miles
8:18 average pace                                      8:43 average pace
long run - 15.02 miles                                 long run - 9.4 miles

Look into my crystal ball

Going into week 3 I feel like the relay is pretty much behind me and I can really focus on following my plan... except for the fact that I have a work-related 5k thrust onto my calendar for Saturday (there's always something, isn't there?!?).  Other than that a pretty cut and dry training week, just over 40 miles with a hill session and a 16 mile long run...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Uh Oh... Who put that guy in charge? (plus bitch, bitch, bitch)

This Saturday the Steamboat Classic 4 mile and 15k race will be taking place right here in Peoria, Il!!!  Now normally I'd be running it, but after last weekends relay I decided I wasn't quite ready to race again just yet, so I decided to do the next best thing:  Volunteer!

This is my first time volunteering at a race so of course they put me into one of the most crucial jobs... traffic looker outer guy.  The roads the race is run on are initially closed but at a certain point the cross streets open up and that's where I come in.  I'll be standing at one of the corners watching for runners, watching for traffic, and making sure the two don't mix!   That's right... I'll be preemptively saving lives!

All kidding aside, I am excited that I'll still get to participate in the race because it's actually a pretty decent sized event (by Peoria, Illinois standards anyway).  The four miler is billed as one of the "fastest four mile road races in the world", in fact from 1986-2005 the world record for the four mile road race was held on the course (current course record is 17:24)... because of this the race has a decent sized purse and an elite athlete budget.  At the same time the race is still fairly small (2800+ finishers last year) which allows better than normal access to the elite runners (like you can stand right next to them at the starting line)... Last year I was even able to get Constantina Dita (the 2008 olympic gold medalist  in the women's marathon) to sign my race number!

All in all it should be a fun event and I plan on running down to the race from my house so I'll still get plenty of my own running in... but wait, there's more... for volunteering I get my very own volunteer t-shirt... and that's what it's really all about, right?


Adding this to my post... seems like a lot of people have already read today's entry so maybe I'll be able to achieve blogger nirvana by bitching my ass off and venting my frustration while not subjecting any my readers to my pettiness... anyway... please feel free not to read this next part!

so today I'm out for a little 2 mile recovery run with my dogs... I'm going along minding my own business and up ahead I see this youngish avon sales-representative looking woman (this is not supposed to be a diss necessarily she was just dressed like a make-up saleswoman i.e. white blouse/name tag/wearing way too much makeup and hair care products) outside of her house with her two little dogs (not on leashes of course)... so as I approach her one little shit dog decides to come up and fuck with my 2 little shit dogs... ok, so not really a big deal, my dogs occasionally get free and go bark at the neighbors dog or someone walking by or something and I have to run out and grab them and apologize... but here's the part the bothers me... the woman basically does nothing to try to control her dog;  she says nothing to the dog, she doesn't come over and try to intervene... she just stands there.  I keep jogging along, hoping that the dog will go home after I pass, but the dog keeps following and meanwhile I'm doing all I can to stop my dog from attacking it's little bitch ass... and then the lady says to me in a snotty voice "if you keep jogging it's going to keep following you" (no "sorry about my dog" or anything like that)... so I stop and squat down and yell right in the dogs face "bad dog... go home".  That pretty much took care of it and I continued running, leaving the lady (pouting because I yelled at her "snookems") and her stupid shit dog behind...  the nerve of that lady "if you keep jogging (in her snotty nails on a chalkboard tone of voice)"... next time I'm going to actually stop, because my little 10 pound terrier gets very protective when she's on the leash and another dog comes up to her owner and she would not hesitate to go all Michael Vick on that little fur-ball... not that I condone violence against animals... just that you should control your fucking dog!!! and if you can't control your dog then don't let them out into the front yard without a leash!!!!  PHEWWW.... I feel much better now!  sorry bout that!