Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Stat corner

If my running stats were put on the back of a baseball card it might look a little something like this... Not overly impressive, but a good start to the year.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wrapping up my "vacation"

Next week I get serious... I go "on the grid". I start training 4 real!

This means I start following my plan as best as I can. No more unscheduled days off. No more cutting runs short. No more whining! (yeah right... I'm a whiny baby, especially when I start upping the mileage... just ask my wife!!!)

This means I got to take it off the treadmill and onto the streets. Time to re-introduce myself to the pavement(I'm guessing it's still there, somewhere under the piles of ice and snow). Its time to remember what a hill is and how much I love running up them (I do love running up hills right? I remember I either really like it or really hate it... one of the two anyway)...

But for now I'm still on winter "vacation" so this week I made sure I took full advantage. So far this week I've ran every other day starting with Monday off and I got to tell you I feel pretty good. My legs are rested and I'm feeling spry! So I say bring on the next 7+ months of hardcore marathon training. This champion is ready to rise!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One goal down...

Big news today... It's my b-day! The big 31... I've been running about a year now and I gotta say, I feel a lot better (physically and mentally) turning 31 than I did when I turned 30.

So as a present to myself I decided to finally dole out the 15 bucks and complete the first (and easiest) of my 7 goals for 2010 ... namely: Join a local running group... I am now officially a member of the Illinois Valley Striders.

Now to be completely honest, joining the IVS by paying 15 bucks on-line over at does not really capture my intentions for joining a local running group. Sure, I'm pleased that I am able to contribute some money to support local running, but my true goal is to become socially involved in the local running scene... maybe make some even make some training buddies?!?

Nevertheless, paying the 15 bucks to become a member was the first big step... the following step will be to become involved with the local group... hopefully, I'll pursue this step in the near future... if not there's always next years goals!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Adding Insult to Injury

I got my finally got my Chicago Marathon official results program in the mail. Kinda a cool bonus because I wasn’t expecting it . Of course when you drop 125 dollars on a race (and BTW it’s 135 dollars this year) I suppose you should get something besides a nice medal and the pain and agony of running 26.2 miles.

Anyway, I was excited to have it… that was until I opened it and started reading the highlighted runners sections. I guess the people putting together the program decided to get some background information on some of the more interesting or unique participants who ran the marathon last year, which is why they chose this guy:

I guess this guy was training 100 miles a week in preparation for Chicago but then got hurt in the last month so decided to run for fun instead wearing a grim reaper costume… ha ha very funny….

Only problem was his finishing time was 3:35:00… meanwhile my finishing time was 3:39:34… now let me also mention at this point that my goal time was 3:30 and I was right on pace up to the 20 mile mark when I hit the wall… so combine all these facts and what do you get???

Me, shuffling along (basically on death's doorstep) somewhere around the 24 mile marker as an asshole in a full grim reaper costume runs effortlessly past me.

Guess he figured that if he couldn’t run his best race because of his injury he might as well make other people feel miserable about their race as well.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Disclaimer: I google image searched "Benchmark" and this was the first picture on the list. Sorry, I just couldn't resist!

For the last few months I’ve been strictly focused on base building (read: squeezing in whatever miles my body/motivation would allow). Starting in March I begin my aggressive half-marathon\pre-marathon training schedule. As for now I’m in the process of transitioning from my haphazard free-for-all winter training to my militarily structured, no-nonsense spring/summer training.

I’ve started this transition process by beginning to loosely structure my week into various types of training days. For the last few weeks Monday’s have been long runs, Wednesdays have been speedier runs, and Friday’s are an off day. Everything else is still open for interpretation.

On one hand this reintroduction to structure in my running plan has been nice; the quality of my runs is definitely improving and as quality improves so does my mileage and motivation. On the other hand the sudden resurgence of structure is causing me some confusion as I realize that I have no clear picture of where my fitness level currently stands.

During last years training cycle I was spoiled by months of Garmin supplied data mapping out my course, distance, elevations, heartrate, pace, external temperature etc, which I could use to analyze and plot my progress as a runner. When winter hit I packed away the Garmin and hit the indoor track and treadmill. Suddenly all the self-recording data and numbers I had so heavily relied on were no longer being supplied. Now I’m feeling a little bit lost. I’m benchmarkless.

How fast should my speedwork be? What’s my current marathon pace? How slow should I do my recovery runs? What’s general aerobic pace?

Lucky for me I have plenty of months of good training ahead of me to find out… however, for now the anticipation is killing me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen...

For the last few months I've been adrift... floating around in a sea of training with no clear goals and no clear plan. I've pretty much been running when I feel like it, taking the day off if I don't, and picking my daily workouts and plans on a whim. The freedom has been a nice reprieve from the rigors of marathon training and I feel like I did a decent job of building my base, maintaining fitness, and healing up...

...However, with race season quickly approaching its time to focus! Its time for a plan!

So yesterday afternoon I spend some time surfing the net and blogosphere for training ideas and after hours of research and deep thinking decided to put together my very own “Grid” (big-ups to the Running Laminator for the spreadsheet format).

So without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen let me introduce you to... "My Grid" (and "My Grid Jr.")

My Grid is comprised of a 22 week training plan that will take me from May 10th all the way to the Chicago Marathon... The Grid Jr. is a 10 week preconditioning plan to help me build up my mileage and prepare me for the Illini Half-Marathon.

Also, way to early to know for sure but my tenative time goal for Chicago is currently 3:20:00. That'll require slightly faster than 7:40ish pace... not sure if that's too lofty but that's what I'm doing for now. Pre-training begins in less than two weeks!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Managerie Monday...

Just wanted to expunge some random thoughts that I've accumulated over the weekend, and what better forum to do it on than my very own personal blog.


First off the weather... a couple days ago you might of read my post about how is slowly teasing me into a frenzy with their empty promises of future days above freezing... Well, just in case you thought I was exaggerating.

(click on the picture if it's too small to see... or I can save you the trouble and explain its contents for you)

Here's the run down... Friday afternoon I went to to check the weather 10 days out and it tells me that in 10 days (Feb 21st) the weather is finally going to get above freezing (32 degrees, technically still freezing but I'll take what I can get...).

Then Monday morning I check again... Now that Feb 21st is only 7 days away it's not predicted to be 32 anymore, instead they're saying its going to be 29 degrees... However, 10 days out (Feb 24th) is now conveniently predicted to be 34 degrees (the warmest day of the 10, and the only day above freezing, may I point out...)

Basically this tells me one of two things... either has no better handle of what the weather is going to be in 10 days except that they know that its inevitably going to warm up eventually OR is run by a bunch of DICKS!!!

Football Fields

Moving on…

Being an engineer and a runner I feel like I have a pretty decent grasp on measurement systems especially distances… now I admit, I’m still an American, and I like most Americans grew up using the “standard” system (which is probably could be more accurately referred to as the “American customary system”, since metric is the scientific standard and is used pretty much everywhere else in the world) but I feel that I at least have a basic understanding what a kilometer is.

Well, watching the winter Olympics this weekend I discovered that America sports journalist use neither the metric or standard system of measurements. They use a third system called “football fields”…

For example explaining how they shortened the luge course by “two football fields”… or during the Nordic Combined event the lead skier was ahead by “a football field”…I’m assuming using the “football fields” unit of measure gives the general American viewing public a better point of reference of what the distances really mean.

So from now on when you’re talking to your non-running friends don’t tell them you ran a 5k last weekend, tell them you ran 54.68 football fields (actually 54 football fields before being stopped short at the 32 yard line in the midst of your 55th football field). And a marathon… 461.5 football fields!!! Yep, that should make your accomplishment so much clearer to the “average Joe” who probably asked about your weekend just to be nice, and not because they really gave two shits…

Fickle Sports

Finally in the world of Fickle sports… the winter Olympics. [disclaimer: no offense meant to any winter Olympians who happen to be following this blog]

So how do you win a medal in the winter Olympics anyway…

1. You need to grow up somewhere where there’s snow and mountains…
2. You need to be from a wealthy enough upbringing that you can afford the expensive specialized equipment required to succeed in a winter Olympic sport
3. you have to work really hard at becoming one of the top competitors in whatever sport you choose
4. …you flip a coin and pray

Seems like there’s a lot of random occurrence that determines who ultimately medals in the winter Olympics for example:

-Biathlon: Pray that you have good weather during your heat, but it snows during the other guy’s heat subsequently slowing down his skiing while making his shooting more difficult.

-Ski jump: Pray for just the right gust of wind as you plummet down the slope.

-Short-track ski skating: Stay close in contention and hope that the guys in front of you crash just before the finish line…

Not to mention that most of the events are based on judges scores which in turn are based on a bunch of purely subjective criteria…

Honestly though… who’s to say that I don’t contain the innate natural abilities to be the best luger in the world and just never got the chance…

Also, I wonder how some of those East African endurance athletes would do if you slapped a pair of Cross-country skis on their feet?

Anyway, not to take away from any of the winter Olympic athletes. I realize that they’ve worked hard their whole lives, committing themselves to pretty much thankless sports, in order to get where they are now… still…


So I guess I better wrap it up... if you're still reading by now than congratulations, you've managed to waste almost as much time reading this blog as I did writing this blog. I guess we need a hobby, and as luck would have it I heard the 2014 curling team is in need of a player... See ya on the shuffleboard court!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Taming the Monkey...

This may come as news to some people (those of you who are in denial) but here it is: We're all (myself included) addicted to running...

This is were I could go into a "you might be an addicted runner if:" Jeff Foxworthy parody and then go on to talk about pre-race rituals, milage logs, training plans, Garmins, etc... but I'll spare us both the embassement.

Now some of you readers might be thinking this statement doesn't apply to you. If so here's a simple one question quiz which will determine if you are or are not an addicted runner... ready for it??? Here it is:

Do you ever read and/or write blogs about running?

If the answer is no, or if you still refuse to admit your addiction please feel free to navigate away from this page now...

...Alright, well if you're still reading then we've all made an important breakthrough... as you know the first step to taming an addiction is accepting that you have a problem.

So from here the line of thought goes something like this... Alright, so I have a running problem. So What! There's a lot worse things to be addicted to (like biking for instance).

Let me try to shine some light on the dangers of that lie of thinking: Have you ever headed out the door for you scheduled run even though you were nursing an injury and your better judgement knew damn well that you'd be better off taking an extra days rest? Or have you ever missed a scheduled run for reasons beyond your control and spent the rest of your day disgruntled, moody, and just plain unpleasant to be around because you didn't get your daily fix? Or have you ever felt so good on a long run that you decided to put in a few extra unscheduled miles and wound up *gasp* OVERTRAINING!!!

The urge to overtrain is the demon that I'm battling right now. For the last several months I've been suffering through minor aches and pains as I slowly but steadily recovered from the marathon I was ill prepared to run, but too hard headed not to. This past week I've finally turned the corner. My runs have been feeling great, my legs are feeling fresh, and my motivation is soaring. All the while the evil monkey on my back is egging me on... more miles, more miles, harder, faster, longer (that's what she said)...

I've put in 20 miles so far in the first four days this week (not a lot by some standards, but enough considering that I'm already at my weekly record for the year)... my legs are a bit fatigued (especially after my personal record 34:50 five miler I put in on Wednesday) but my muscles are still twitching with anticipation at the urge to get out and run again.

Now's the time I have to make a stand and take control! I can either curb my inner yernings and force myself to take a day off (or at the very least compromise and x-train) or I can succumb to the monkey and keep hurdling down the road towards overtraining and certain injury... Ultimately the choice is mine, but will I have the strength the make the right one?... I guess history will be the judge!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh what a night!

Man I had a great workout last night! It was awesome!!! I was super-motivated and now I'm even more super-pumped to tell you about it, but first... I know I must sound like a broken record right now, record right now, but I’m beginning to think this winter just isn’t going to let up! It was 2 friggin’ degrees today when I left the house to go to work (and for my huge European fan base let me just note that I’m not talking Celsius either). I checked the 10 day forcast on like I do everyday, and it’s not supposed to get above freezing until 10 days from now (10 days from now they’re predicting it’s going to be 33!)… Of course that brings me to another gripe:

As I said I check the 10 day forcast everyday, and everyday for the last week they’ve been telling me it’s going to be 33 degrees (read 1 degree above freezing) 10 days from now… it’s like some kind of carrot on a ten day stick! Only thing is 33 degrees isn’t even that great of a carrot… it’s more like a turd painted orange (similar to whatever that thing is standing in the doorway in the picture above, except painted orange).

In the end I ultimately have no choice but to keep hitting the treadmill day in and day out until Punxsutawney Phil finally decides to give us all a break. Problem is my first race of the season (the Shamrock Shuffle) is less than 6 weeks away and I’d really like to get in some real training!

At this point I guess it’s at least worth mentioning that last years Shamrock Shuffle was held in 30 degrees temperatures mixed with a healthy dose of sleet. When I finished the race I was freezing and my shoes were soaking wet, which ultimately resulted in some sort of foot tendon strain that laid me up for about a month… With that in mind, maybe running outside in the 2 degree temps and a foot of snow is exactly the training conditions I need to prepare for this race. Nevertheless, running can be uncomfortable enough and I refuse to subject myself to any additional suffering from such horridly untorrid conditions.

Anyway, this entire rant was meant to be a prelude into a post about how I overcame the weather conditions and still managed to crank-out an awesome (albeit treadmilled) 5 mile speed session last night. However, I think I pretty much used up my daily word quota (as well as most of my lunch break) bitching about the weather again, so I guess I’ll have to save the positive self-empowering workout report for another day (possible 10 days from now)…

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Word Verification

Totally running unrelated, but is anyone else as amused as I am about the "word verification" you are sometimes required to enter when you comment on someone elses blog... For some reason I really get a kick out of the random "words" that blogger comes up with, so I started appending the word to the bottom of my comments.

Also have you ever tried clicking the "handicap" icon which is next to the "word verification" box which is put there for the visually impared? I have and let me tell you, it's kind of creepy. Sounds like a message conveyed by a "spirit energy" communicating from the "other side"... you know, the kind of thing you would hear on one of those paranormal shows on A&E or in a Nicholas Cage movie.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Back in the zone

Just dropped an Ocho on the treadmill last night and it felt amazing! Following a tip I’m pretty sure I read in this months Runner’s World I started the treadmill at 7.0 mph (8:34 pace) and bumped it up by .1 mile per hour every half mile until I got up to 8.2 mph (7:19 pace). Then I slowly scaled it back down from 8.2 – 6.5 over the last 1.5 miles.

Overall I wound up running 8 miles in 1:03:45 (7:58 pace), while efficiently including a good warm up, some quality intensity, and a decent cool down.

The best part was how great I felt. I’ve been battling shin splints since about September. I took some time off in December hoping that would allow them to heal up but when I started running again they came back immediately. Lately they seemed like they were getting progressively worse despite my daily icing and stretching. I thought maybe old shoes were the culprit so I purchased some new ones. After running a couple days in the new shoes my shins were hurting worse than they had before. I was limiting my runs to 3 milers and hurting the entire time… Friday night I finished up my run and the pain continued for 45 minutes even after I stopped. I was forced to lay on the couch with ice-packs on my shins till they finally tamed down.

This weekend I bought some Dr. Scholl’s arch supports for the new shoes and I think I might of finally found a solution. Saturday I tried my first 3 miler with the new supports and while I still felt some pain it considerably muted. I took Sunday off and then popped a couple Ibuprofen before last night's run.

The first half mile or so I felt a little bit of pain but it quickly subsided. Next thing I knew I was running pain free! I realized that this was the first pain free run that I’ve experienced in the last 4-5 months… I was straight up loving it! The endorphins were flowing, I had my headphones on, and I was singing along to my Ipod… I’m sure the other people around me probably thought I was either completely crazy or totally annoying but I couldn’t care less…. I was in the zone!

It was just what I need. The kind of run that reminded me why I’m training in the first place. The first “great” run of the year… the first of many!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

oops I did it again...

lately I've been feeling like my running has really been lacking. my mileage and my motivation has been down. my aches and pains have been up (my hamstring and achilles tendon in my right foot have been hollerin' at me when I use them to control the gas pedel as I drive to work of all things)... I've been trying to figure out where it all went wrong, so I took a look of my running journal for a month to month analysis:

April 2009: 45 miles
May 2009: 60 miles
June 2009: 102 miles
July 2009: 140 miles
August 2009: 179 miles
September 2009: 180 mile
October 2009: 75 miles
November 2009: 75 miles
December 2009: 45 miles
January 2010: 58 miles

So there you have it... I've guess the usual rule of thumb for mileage increases is the 10% rule (add 10% of your previous weeks mileage to this weeks mileage). This whole time I've been blaming my marathon for gimping me up but now I'm thinking the marathon was just the breaking point following a long series of haphazardous overtraining...

So now that I'm starting to see the big picture what did I decide to do???

Sign up for the 2010 Chicago marathon of course! I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment.

At least this time I won't be starting from scratch so the mileage jumps won't be so sudden and shocking to my system... of course I could always up my mileage even more...