Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - Closing the Books

Wall to wall year in review on TV this morning - thought I'd do my own:

This was the year of the marathons for first and last race of the year was a marathon and both were my fastest equivalent race of any distance (best VDOT)...what an great year to reflect on.

Rave Runs of 2008......

- Houston Marathon - 16 minute PR in 2 months to a 2:40.....Master's Win
- Boston Marathon - good but not great.
- Sub 5 minute mile at a track meet.
- 20 mile treadmill run where I PR'd every distance from a 5k up to 30k in the one run (finally figured out how to turn on the turbo-charge at will).
- Anchorage Marathon - by myself for ~20 miles of it - everything just worked out for this quick layover - and met a moose at mile 22.
- Yakutat, Alaska Training runs - never been so scared running trails - thought there might be a bear around every corner - perhaps not rave but memorable.
- San Antonio Marathon - sub2:40 and an awesome finishing photo....another Master's Win (kinda).

The Awards:

2008 Finishing Medals and Awards:

Most Cherished (and useful):

vs 2007

The Improvements:

- Best Equivalent Race (VDOT) - 2008 - San Antonio Marathon 61.7, 2007 Turkey Trot 10k 58 - 3.7 Improvement over 2007.
- Marathon - 2:39:26 - 17:11 Improvement over 2007
- 1/2 Marathon - 1:18:11 - 4:34 Improvement
- 10M - 1:00:17 - 4:37 Improvement
- 10k - 35:10 - 1:01 Improvement
- 8k - 28:57 - 2:12 Improvement
- 5k - 16:54 - 0:34 Improvement
- 1 mile - 4:53 - 0:11 Improvement.

The Totals

- Marathon 5 -2 PRs
- 1/2 2 - 1 PR
- 10M 1 PR
- 10k 1PR
- 8k 1PR
- 5k 4 - 2PRs
- 1M 1 PR
- Plus 3 Relay Races

Total 15 races, 3 relays, 9 PRs including a PR in every distance raced for the year.


- Total - 2905 at an average 7:17 pace per mile, average heartrate 149 - 354 hours of running.
- Max Month 324 miles (September)
- Max Week 83 miles
- Max Day - a 5 way tie at 26.2


For this year it was about both the destination and the journey. Many special moments in training runs and races along the way as well as some incredible highs at some pretty high will be tough year to top.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow in Houston

1st time we've been able to make a snowman in our 8 years here..... :-) (Tyler - the dog - blinked).

Friday, December 5, 2008

Very Nice Momentos

A couple very nice honors as a result of my run at the San Antonio Marathon:

The 2+Age Marathon Moose Mug Challenge by Ray (rbbmoose) on the Running Times Forum THANKS RAY !!

ps - It took me several beers to finally get this picture to my satisfaction but rest assured - no beer was wasted in the making of this photo :).

Houston Striders Award (apparently also a Master's Club Record) - THANKS Striders!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

San Antonio Marathon Race Report - Marathon #10

I love this finishing photo - you much click on the picture to see - has the family in the background - Susan - white hat and Ryan wearing my brown HighHopes hat, Kaylee is hidden by Mom. Combined with the time, the burst of excitement at finishing and knocking out sub2:40 and flying across the finishline. Love it! What a race - where to start - let's see - I was born..........a poor black child.............OK maybe that's not it (and who remembers "The Jerk" anyway).

For those who want to just skip it all and go to the results - Here You go. Results.

Brief version is I was 2nd for my age group but won the Master's race anyway on a technicality.

Guess I'll start with Saturday - we head out for the 3.5 hour drive around 10:30 am, my darling wife Susan, Kids Ryan and Kaylee and our dog Tyler (couldn't find a pet-sitter). After typical road stops we arrive at the Alamodome with a couple hours to spare to do my packet/bib-number pick-up. I leave the family in the SUV hoping for a quick pick-up - but with only a couple hours to spare - who am I kidding. I manage to navigate the crowds and get back to the family - they were definitely eager to get to the hotel. A volunteer made me feel pretty special as I traded a tear-off from my bib number for a T-Shirt with "Oh - my first Black bib - I think I'll save it" - now I understand there were only about a dozen of these bib's as they represented the Texas Showdown competition within the race. We get a ridiculously expensive hotel downtown for the extra perk of the family being able to walk to the finishline. Nice accommodations and almost worth the money - easy walk to the riverwalk and easy to find a restaurant for dinner - all was OK except for about 30 minutes of the alarms sounding and sounding and sounding in the middle of the night - man that thing was loud. Before and after the alarm it was a pretty good nights sleep.

Up 3 hrs early at 4:30 am to start my last carb-loading. Sometimes I like to do a little 5 minute jog at this time but the mid-30s persuaded me to skip this little ritual. Get my shower, Carbs and coffee, take the dog out for a little walk - then off to the shuttle for the ride to the Start. I get to the start line and all is OK - I'm ready to race - a few Pet Peeves about the race - but I'll keep those separate to not taint the race itself as the race itself was great.

The race - Perfect Weather - starts as a combined half and full marathon with dozens or so corrals holding nearly 25,000 runners that are released a couple corrals at a time. I'm in 1st corral so I'm released at the gun along with the elites.

Race strategy - 6:00-6:15 first mile then HR=164 thru mile 4, drop 1 bpm off the target per each 4 miles to the end - should give me even effort based on study of my previous races.

mile Split HR (per Garmin which typically runs 3-4 seconds fast per mile - can also be looked at on Motionbased if you prefer just the numbers without the rambles)

1 6:04 xxx I had targeted between 6:00 and 6:15 mile - I run with Chris Bittinger first mile as he's targeting 1:20 half which matches up with my 2:40 full target.

2 5:42 xxx Sam Rodreguiz runs by - I'd planned to run by HR at this point but because it was so cold - my heartrate monitor was still giving me bad data (I wasn't sweating enough to get a good connection) so I decided to stick with Sam - he tells me he's aiming for a 1:18 1/2 marathon so I figured 6 mpm pace could be a possibility today - I'd stick near him and give it a chance.

3 5:40 163 HRM is finally working - target at this point was 164 so it appears I'm at about the right pace - maybe a little slow - I end up passing Sam to stick to my target.

4 5:56 164 Right on target but I notice from mile splits I've got a fair amount of time banked already on a 6 mpm pace - the turbo-charge heat treatment run most definitely is working as I was ~20 seconds or so slower earlier in the week for this heartrate.

5 6:18 162 Target drops to 163 - An uphill on this mile - a very friendly and encouraging black bib eases by me as I slow on the uphill - seems to know me and it's bugging me that I can't place him.

6 5:48 159 Downhill I pass this black bib again - again he gives me encouraging words - I just say thanks and try to get back my speed back up to my HR target.

7 5:58 161 I notice I'm still banking time even though I'm not hitting my HR target so I kinda settle for 6 mpm splits as good enough and don't push the pace to get back on target - a hazard of seeing the time at each milemarker - without that info I think I would have pushed the pace harder to keep on target.

8 5:53 158 Target drops to 162 - but I'm not getting close to it - but still banking time or at least not using the time banked - so I don't push it.

9 5:55 160 Still not hitting target - but rolling with it - thinking about Anchorage Marathon where I backed off the 2nd 10k and was able to push harder on the final 10k so figuring I'm set up for a good final push with this energy reserve not pushing to the target (yes - I'm rationalizing running slower).

10 5:59 158 Exorcising demons was much more in this race than any other I've run - I just didn't seem to have the mojo/the hunger to really push it all out and kept having to battle thoughts of taking a walk break or turning off with the 1/2 marathoners. Although I wasn't getting on target - I count victory in not letting these thoughts slow me down.

11 6:05 157 Half marathoners have split off - I can now see who ahead of me is actually in MY race - much more spread out between runners.

12 5:59 158 Target drops to 161. Still not hitting my target - maintaining position in the race - occasionally getting passed and occasionally passing - but not really changing in position.

13 5:55 157 I don't realize at the time but I am able to maintain pace on these miles for less effort (lower heartrate) thru 20 because there is a slight decline and I think a slight tailwind.

14 6:02 157

15 5:55 158

16 6:02 157 Target drops to 160 Mental demon's seem to reverse - all of a sudden I feel all powerful - feel like sprinting but control that urge - perhaps that caffeine GU I took at Mile 15. I remember thinking this was where I eased off the gas at Houston Marathon - no feeling like doing that today.

17 6:07 156 I catch an Elite runner around here somewhere - I'm thinking he looks like a Kenyan - ok he was walk/jogging and holding his leg in apparent pain - recalling the Saturday night live joke I think to myself - "See John McCain - it is possible to beat a Kenyan in a race" :-).

18 5:55 158

19 6:05 158

20 6:08 158 Target drops to 159. 23rd place - Hit near the bottom of the gentle grade fall and come back for the final 10k back to the finish. Now I get the reverse of the benefit from 13 - now a gentle uphill, a couple rolling steeper hills, and a slight headwind - also temps into 50s instead of 30s,40s up to here might have caused slightly slower. I notice my 20 mile split is 2:00:41 - only 41 seconds to make up to get a 6 mpm pace - knowing I had banked some energy running a lower heartrates - it seems within reach. From here to the end I'm knocking out runners one by one.

21 6:10 157 I'm not getting the mile splits I want - now 51 seconds to make up - not going to happen in only 5 miles - start working out what is required to assure sub 2:40 - must hang on to that milestone at all costs.

22 6:12 158 Slipped a little more time - even giving up banked time on a 2:40 pace.

23 6:13 160 This mile I'm just struggling for a thought to embrace to get me to the next mile marker - for this one I chose Susan (My darling wife) to take me there - focuses in on the excitement she has at finishlines for me - works - gets me there staying on target - even a bit ahead of target on heartrate. Although I'm slipping on pace - not sure why.

24 6:17 161 19th place - Now I switch my inner voice cheerleader to my son Ryan - the cool acting but still very proud Ryan - come on Ryan - get me to 24 - he does - far ahead of my heartrate target - but I'm still loosing seconds.

25 6:13 162 Target drops to 158 - Now I switch my inner voice cheerleader to my daughter Kaylee - the rational, sometimes bratty (in a fun way) and never easily impressed - she gets me there - even stronger effort - but I'm still loosing more seconds.

26 6:12 163 Last mile - This one is mine - this is my race - no pulling back.

26.45 2:39 166 (5:53 pace) - 2 final turns to get to the finish - I come across a much slowed struggling elite woman - I kinda feel bad passing her but there was still a good amount of race left and I wanted to finish strong. Before the last turn there is a brutal uphill that is killing my legs but I'm pushing thru it with all I've got. Round the last corner and head for the finishline - scan the crowd for my cheering squad and finally see them just before the finishline - swoop in for high fives at full speed then cross the finishline - let out a big cheer for knocking out the 2:40 milestone -

Man that just felt so awesome!!

All the pre-race plans worked like a charm - fueling, hydrating, training, turbo-charge - all worked great. Race execution itself was a just little lacking as I let myself fall off target for much of the race - probably gave up a couple minutes but I didn't have the "fight for it" spirit to grab that last bit of potential I believe is available to me - that's OK - I knew pre-race I had started other races with more mojo and I was a bit untrusting of myself - but I didn't give-in - and finished the race strong - feeling very good about the effort I got out of myself. Still wondering who is that nice black bib. Need to figure out how to get that greater desire I had in earlier marathons with the better training I have now to really deliver it all.

That's about all I've got for now - thanks for reading - here's the Results. Thanks for reading - John. A little video with a few seconds of me at the end crossing the finish....

San Antonio Marathon Pet Peeves List

Before I get to my race report - I had to dump my rants about the race - so here they are:

Inaugural event of 33,000 signed up (~24,500 finishers) - expect a few things to not be quite perfect - overall I think they did a GOOD job pulling it off but there are definitely opportunities for improvement for next time - a few that come to mind for me:


  • Website didn't have all the information - had to look at both website and emails to piece it all together - should have updated website to incorporate the later information sent out on email. For example - there was nothing on the website about live tracking however I do now see it was in an email - I told a couple people there was only Start and Finish time recorded as that was all that was indicated on the website that I could find. Another example - no mention on the website about prize breakdown that I can find although it also was in an email - that particular email had proofreading issues - for example it listed Masters 1st - $500 - with a comment next to it "Do we need this" - creating questions in my mind now if there even is a Master's prize.

  • Expo - I went 2 hours before close - a little late so I was expecting it to be crowded - but it was a bit overly so in the packet pick-up area - had to keep us in a holding area before getting into the pick-up area for a while before we could get into individual corral lines.

  • "Calling Texas Bests" for the Texas Showdown - this was listed on the website as "We invite athletes who have run under 2:47 (male) and 3:15 (female) for the marathon & 1:15:30 (male) 1:26:30 (female) for the half to submit their resume for consideration of elite athlete status." So I thought I was in with "elite athlete status" - from other races I've had an invitation this included VIP benefits (Twin City Marathon-2008 which I didn't end up running, Houston 2009 coming up in January) - for this race it was only a black bib number - ok I also got free entry because I also qualified for complementary entry with a sub 2:43 prior marathon. The VIP thing really was not that important to me - but it would have been nice and I think they should have done it for the ~10-15 runners that entered the program.
  • Shuttle to the start - worked perfect for me leaving at 5:30 - no waiting at all - I heard some pretty bad experiences from those who thought showing up for a 6:30 shuttle was plenty of time to make a 7:30 race start.
  • BagCheck - when I got there there were many UPS buses not there yet and the ones that were there didn't know which letter bag they were collecting. I recognized a couple glitches in the system I heard very quickly and decided I was going to be first to check in my bag to avoid the glitches. 1st glitch was the buses were being loaded by last name alphabet - I was hoping by corral number since the 1st corral would likely have a shorter check in line. 2nd - the UPS trucks were arranged similar to the New York Marathon fiasco last year with the a line of trucks on both sides of a narrow road forcing all the runners down the center to line up in a congested center that could become a huge mess. After recognizing check-in was not going to be a smooth quick operation I decided to go ahead and get out of my warm gear and load up my bag and check it in a first opportunity. Once the rest of the UPS trucks arrived and they started marking them with the last names that would load - I projected which truck would be mine and ended up 3rd in line about 1 hour before start with only a trash bag to keep me warm - but better to shiver than be caught in what I was expecting to be a fiasco given another 30 minutes or so.
  • Start - excellent - went off without a hitch (ok it was 15 minutes late for some reason - but that's ok).
  • Race - good aid stations, enthusiastic volunteers, clocks on every milemarker (I would have rather not had that but that's just me - I prefer to fly blind), clearly marked course, good separation of 1/2 marathon from marathon last 2 miles.
  • Finish - don't know - they pulled me into VIP thinking I was 3rd Texan (1st ran so fast they missed him whizzing by) so I didn't get to go thru the normal post race stuff - missed my finishing photo but that was more than made up for by a free beer :).
  • Family Meeting - very clear.
  • Baggage Pick-up - a brutal long line - a regret of mixing 1/2 marathon and marathon together is near all the 1/2 marathoners finish ahead of me and I must wait with them to get my bag - I kinda wish the marathoners could be more separated but there's probably no better way to do this - just a hazard of running half/full marathon races.

Again - overall these issues were minor for me - but I do think there are opportunities for improvements. Considering their self proclaimation this was the largest inaugural race ever anywhere - I think they did a GOOD (but not excellent) job.

San Antonio Marathon Results

I'll come back and make a race report but for now - just the results:

Time 2:39:23 (PR by 1:23) (VDOT 61.7 - also a PR of any distance)
Pace 6:05 minutes per mile
Place 17th/7526
Gender Place 14/4015
Age Grade 81% (Nationally Rated)
Division Place 2nd

Prizes -
1st Place Master $500 (based on gun time - would have been 2nd $250 if based on chip time)*
Texas Showdown Place 4th (prizes stop at 3rd by the guy in 16th place 1 minute ahead of me who collected the $500)
6th USA (prizes stop at 5th also by that 16th place guy who collects $200)

Awards -
2nd Place Age Group (based on chip time)

* A bit of a hollow victory here - I won this on a technicality as it goes by gun time. Wilmer Bustillos actually beat me by 3 minutes Chip Time through a ton of traffic apparently starting the race 15 minutes after me and weaving thru crowds of people - very impressive as a Master on what appears to be his debut marathon - at least the first marathon I can find on record - he's been beating me quite handily in shorter races and I kinda hoped he wouldn't move up to the marathon.

I happened to notice Wilmer is signed up for Houston although the website doesn't say which race - if the marathon - there is high probability of him making roadkill out of me.

So I get a free race - very cool - as the $500 about equals the hotel and other travel expenses.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Health Check

Cholesterol check at work today - indicates one of the many nice byproducts of being physically active:

.....................Mar 06 May 08 Nov 08...Norm..Optimal
Good Cholesterol(HDL)...52......64......72....>40......>60
Bad Cholesterol(LDL)...151.....105......71....<129.....<100
Total Cholesterol......229.....180.....157....<200


Diet has still not much improved as I live off still about 1/2 my meal eating out - with much of that fast food.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Weather Obsessing - San Antonio Marathon

11/16 Actual Weather from Weather Underground History for race:

Race time 7:45-10:25

Time----temp---Dew pt-hum-wind---------sky
6:53 AM 35.1 °F 19.9 °F 54% NW 3.5 mph Clear
7:53 AM 37.9 °F 23.0 °F 55% WNW 5.8 mph Clear
8:53 AM 48.9 °F 21.0 °F 33%Calm Calm -----Clear
9:53 AM 52.0 °F 21.0 °F 30%SSW 6.9 mph Clear
10:53 AM 55.9 °F 21.0 °F 26%SW 5.8 mph Clear

In a word PERFECT

11/14 Saturday Night Low 36°F E@6mph Sunday High 73°F S@8mph
Dew Point ~30
7am 41 wsw 6
8am 51 sw 6
9am 62 ssw 7
10am 67 ssw 8

11/13 Saturday Night Low 42°F E@9mph Sunday High 70°F S@10mph
11/12 Saturday Night Low 42°F E@9mph Sunday High 70°F S@10mph
11/11 Saturday Night Low 42°F N@9mph Sunday High 70°F N@10mph <--less wind please 11/10 Saturday Night Low 36°F N@11mph Sunday High 62°F N@12mph <--I'd like to lock in 11/9 Saturday Night Low 44°F N@ mph Sunday High 70°F N@ mph
11/8 Saturday Night Low 51°F N@ mph Sunday High 70°F N@ mph
11/7 Saturday Night Low 51°F N@ mph Sunday High 72°F N@ mph
11/6 Saturday Night Low 40°F N@ 8mph Sunday High 68°F N@ 14mph
11/5 Saturday Night Low 46°F N@ 5mph Sunday High 78°F N@ 5mph
11/4 Saturday Night Low 41°F N@ 6mph Sunday High 74°F N@ 4mph(So much nicer forecast than yesterday)
11/3 Saturday Night Low 57°F

above Per Accuweather 11/15 Saturday Night Low, 11/16 Sunday High

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


What the heck is a Turbo-Charge?

This is my little tapering trick that I have come to find gives me about an extra ~20 seconds per mile of extra speed on race day.

Someone asked me what's the best way to do this turbo-charge routine. I spent a little time on the response back giving the background and than my current strategy - here it is - I'm interested in any other data points so if you happen to try and find success or no success - please share the experience:


I can't say for certain duration/intensity that returns the best results so I'm planning the easiest workout that I've seen deliver the results for my pre-marathon.

To chose from I've got 7 times creating this effect including Houston and Seabrook Marathons, the "Wow what a work-out" link in the race report, 3 treadmill runs pre Anchorage (One, Two of these 3 runs) and this 1/2 marathon on Sunday. Details of each of these is burried within each of these posts if you wish to look - the one that probably summarizes the best is the "Wow what a work-out" if you want to see what got me onto this thinking - but to summarize:

Houston I have no idea how it happen and was a total surprize - I had too many variables I was tweaking in that particular tapering and I paid not attention to pre-race weather conditions that seemed to just happen to give me something extra. Looking at the weather motionbased for the runs prior it seemed the warm stuff was the prior weekend but then I did so much goofy stuff that week including the end of 10 days of depleting carbs and short MP runs every day that its too many variables to isolate just the heat treatment impact. I was convinced at the time the turbo-drive came from the 10 day depletion although I don't think so any more.

That "Wow" workout - which got me onto this line of thought - was after a very hard Tempo workout (5T+5min+4T+4min+3T+3min+2T) in hot conditions.

Seabrook - I ran in sweats T, W, Th workouts for a Saturday race – each about 10 miles with T/Th easy runs and W an attempted Tempo workout. The data showing the improvement is a bit cloudy by the fact the marathon was on trails vs street so my pace improvement was actually slight but the trail vs road impact was eliminated - typically ~10-15 sec/mile impact I've seen from other runs on same surface.

Boston I attempted but didn't achieve and later learned a critical variable to make it work is extra focus on hydration after the run and until the race. I messed up both hydration and fueling for this race in my looking back on it.

The two treadmill runs pre Anchorage were both after hard outside hot race days 1 or 2 days prior to a longrun on the treadmill.

The last treadmill test run pre Anchorage - after seeing I could achieve in one day from the prior two treadmills experiences was a planned experiment where I ran outside for 12 miles in the hot/humid (no sweats required) measured 6 lbs sweat loss (about 50% more than what I see on the treadmill with the house cooled to 70°F) at a medium effort that felt like a long run effort although the heartrate ran a little higher.

I attempted the same procedure 2 days pre-Anchorage without sweats thinking it was hot/humid enough but it wasn't - only lost 4 lbs and even trying to make up next day with a 5 miler slow in full sweats - didn't get the boost at the race. I've come to know that I must be seeing at least 1 mpm slowdown in my pace vs Heartrate to know the workout is effective. I was only just barely getting this on this last Friday's workout and almost came inside to finish on the treadmill in the warmer house a couple times but the pace was slowed just enough that I stuck with it outside.

Haven't been able to do any experiments over the summer as once I got heat acclimated to Houston I figured the benefit wasn't there anymore.

Last couple weeks I've avoided the heat since a 10 miler race to try to de-acclimate - mostly that meant running early as the weather cooporated but a couple times I had to jump on the treadmill - then I did the 12 miler in sweats on Friday loosing 5.6 lbs - Saturday's easy 8 miler now that I look back on it - showed the 10 second or so improvement on HR - and of course so did Race day Sunday - so did today's morning run too btw so I'm thinking of shifting this workout back one more day for fresher legs. The surge still being there today somewhat surprized a little - on the prior times after one long workout/race - the surge was gone next day - but I guess since a 1/2 marathon is not really that long it didn't deplete the plasma volume enough to make the surge go away.

The Plan

So there it plan for San Antonio is to do a 12 miler targetting 6 lbs sweat loss by whatever means (extra layers, inside) and do it 3 days prior to the race.....assuming the forecast gives me hope for a cool race.

The Execution of the Plan

Todays cloths for this 60*F 95% humid day was:Shoes, Socks, Shorts, Two pairs of sweats pants with cotton inner layer, 2007 black cotton longsleeve boston marathon shirt, 2008 boston marathon jacket, Winter cotton hat, Running gloves.

One of the hardest 12 miles I've run all year - averaged 8:35 mpm and lost almost 6.5 lbs sweating

I was just trying to keep moving at an easy pace (in mile 10 I had to walk a few minutes) - looks like heartrate worked its way up to just below what it is during the marathon for much of the run. Usually I bring a 16 oz bottle with me but I forgot - around 10 miles in I happenned across a sprinkler that was broken off and spouting up a couple feet - I had to stop and take a swallow.

The Results

My slow runs on 11/14 and 11/15 didn't yield any performance improvement - in fact the mileage splits would plot above the pink line below which concerned me a little (~7:30/140). Could just be the humidity on those runs but I thought maybe it could be too low electrolytes so I munched on pretzels all day Saturday along with the hydration focus. Don't know if that mattered or not.

Results of the Turbo-Charge at San Antonio - worked like a charm:

For much of the middle miles I kind comprimized mentally - I was seeing 6 mpm splits at the lower HR so I didn't push it although I think I could have (always easy to say what I could have done).

In training - Tempo was typically 5:50-6:00 and MP was typically 6:10-6:20 pace - on the rare occasions it was cool - most of the time it was slower than that with some heat and/or humidity. In the race the pace was more like my Tempo although the heartrate was a little lower than my MP levels.......I like running with the turbo-charge....I just feel lightning fast!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Koala Houston Half Marathon

Race Summary – Good pace for first half – I planned a negative split so was dogging the first half a little at a 168 heartrate target vs 170 which I believe to be what I can average for a race (minus first mile). After a pitstop mid race loosing over a minute I lost my racing momentum and adjusted to run the back half not so hard since I no longer had a shot at winning my Age Group or even getting an award - really I just wanted an excuse to slow down I think - actually as it turns out with a full effort back half I think I could have scored 2nd if I really fought for it - so anyway - for whatever reason - I ran the back half at a marathon pace heartrate. I must say I just enjoy the marathon pace MUCH more than the faster pace – seems like I can hold that pace forever’ish.

The Learning – don’t have late (finished at 9ish) night dinner before early (7am) race – not the first time I’ve learned this – after my last mistake like this I made a rule - 14 hours pre-gun no solid food – just liquid carbs – but I broke my rule last night under the illusion "It's only a HALF marathon".

The race – Start 54 F Finish 63 F average 57 F @ 90% humidity with ZERO wind. 2076 Finishers

Per Garmin:
1 5:47 152 (Max 166)
2 5:39 169
3 5:50 168 Some underpass hills – I tend to speed up down hills and slow uphill – Gerardo and Brett ribbed me a little after as looked to them like I was doing fartleks mid-race.
4 5:54 168
5 5:46 168
6 5:46 168 Mile 2-6 average 5:47/168 – Projecting 170 pace 5:41 (My theoretical best pace I could have maintained for the day).
7 6:13 165 Pit Stop – stopped watch for 66 seconds
8 5:56 165
9 6:09 163
10 6:04 163
11 6:10 162
12 6:03 161
13 6:04 163 Mile 8-13 average 6:04/163 – Marathon Pace
13.26 1:31 169 Ran it in to just get under 1:20.

Total 1:19:58
Place 19th
AG 4th. (really 6th with Sean taking Win, Wilmer taking Masters and Gerardo, Francisco and Adam taking top 3).

Although the race itself wasn’t all that good – I do like the fitness indication I got from it. From it I’m thinking a 2:40 marathon is likely, a Sub 6mpm pace is a stretch at San Antonio (Assuming good conditions) although if I could get another 10F cooler than today maybe I could nail the Sub6mpm.

I tried my “turbo-drive” taper for this race which involves running a medium run with as much cloths as I can stand to sweat as much as possible - did this on Friday morning – 12 miles 7:44 pace with heartrate 150-158 (would typically be ~6:30-6:45 at this heartrate). It seems to have helped as on a pace test prior on Thursday in similar conditions (57F) at 170 bpm for 3 miles, the last two miles averaged 5:51 vs the 5:41 from miles 2-6 today – so appears the “turbo-drive” workout gave me ~10 sec/mile - past times I've got as much as 20 sec/mile so didn't quite capture all the potential. I think that turbodrive workout would have been more effective if it wasn’t so cold outside when I was running in sweats (45-50F) – the chill in the air made its way thru my sweats to cool a little and I didn’t sweat quite as much as I have in the past on these “turbo-drive” runs (yes I weigh myself before/after these workouts to see how effective they were). Definitely planning to keep this workout in the plan pre San Antonio and maybe I'll add an extra layer if it's cold out. Here is the results graphically

3 weeks to go then time to ROCK that Rock n Roll Marathon in San Antonio…

Thanks for reading - JOHN.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Space City 10 Miler

On a whim I jumped into a 10 mile race today. I was planning to run 10 for Texas next week but then noticed Friday on the website this race was postponed until mid-November. Unfortunately I noticed this AFTER my hard 18 mile with Tempo run on Friday and I was committed to a club run on Saturday for another 13 miles so I was on anything but "fresh" legs. Also the weather report made me also want to skip it with mid-60s and muggy - same weather as when I raced it the prior year and scored my personal worst race of the year (1:04:51 with walking) - but I felt the need to push myself a little so I went ahead and raced it.

Race Plan - Mile 1 - 5:45-5:55 pace, Mile 2-3 - 172 HR, Mile 4-5 - 170 HR (I wanted to go for negative split so back off a little these miles), Mile 6-10 - 172 HR - overall I was expecting 57-58 minutes out of this strategy.

Race Morning - Arrived about 6:15 for a 7 am start time - felt a little flat - not my normal jazzed up race ready self. Get my bib and get all my gear set and find my race plan screwed up by a dead battery on my Garmin - must have been left on all night and drained.....grrrrrr.....I am no good running by feel whatsoever - every race I've tried that has been a disappointment. No choice today - I go ahead and line up and just try to "feel" my way thru the race.

Race Conditions - 71°F, 68°F-Dew Point (91% humidity) (I thought it felt a bit better than last year but now that I look at the weather history - it looks a bit warmer).

705 Finishers.

Gun fires - although the pace "felt" relaxed - apparently I was knocking out 5:30 miles for the first two miles according to Gerardo (apparently I dragged him out a little too fast too) - I didn't know this and still felt a little relaxed. After 3 I ratchetted back the effort a little according to my "plan" and got to the 5 mile marker at 29:10'ish (this was the only time check on the course). Race plan was to pick it up but I just didn't want to - I maintained pace feeling like I should and could go faster but just not pulling it up - a couple guys ease by me without much resistance on my part. Around 8.5 I hear more steps coming up from behind and decide not to get passed anymore so kick in another gear. By the end I pass one guy then around the corner for the last 0.4 mile dash to the finish I hit high speed to go fast by another guy (to give him no chance to fight back) - he makes a move as I pass like he might fight then seemed to figure it was futile and lets me go - I push it in the last 1/4 mile worried he'd reconsider - apparently he didn't and I had a pretty good gap on him by the finish . Iwatch the clock count up thru the 1:00:0X's until I could cross.

First 5 - 29:18 (19th place)
Second 5 30:58 (23rd place)
Total - 1:00:17 (19th place) (PR by 4:34) (VDOT 58 - a 6 month Personal Worse).

Overall I get 5th for my age group - I stuck around for awards thinking I'd scored 3rd AG award since the 1st place for my AG (Sean Wade) got 2nd Overall and 2nd place would then take the Masters leaving me 3rd - but - unlike other races apparently this race allows runners to double-up so Sean took both 2nd Overall and the Masters prizes leaving me the spot one guy refers to as leader of the loosers - 4th place AG :-). Gerardo faded less than me and at least scored 2nd AG (congrats Gerardo - watch-out for me in the 1/2 marathon). A pretty poor race overall proving to myself once again - I just don't race well running by "feel" - although truthfully I may not have known the exact pace, it "felt" closer to marathon pace than 10M pace for those middle miles - I knew I wasn't pushing it hard enough. Without the HR/Pace data to do a proper post-mordom I really can't say what it says about my current fitness. Recent training runs in cold weather - especially in California this last week make me think I'm as fast as I've ever been - I just need some nice cool weather to see if I can deliever on race day.

Next Up - Koala 1/2 Marathon - 10/26 for a last tune-up race then on to San Antonio 11/16 for the 30,000 runner big race.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

2008 HARRA Cross Country Relay

The race - 4x2 miles run thru a hilly park in downtown Houston (yes apparently there are actually hills in Houston). 89 teams finished. We made it a family event made easy with its 5pm start time Saturday afternoon. My wife and kids were pretty impressed with people coming up telling them I was a pretty good runner - I'll pay you guys later - I promise.

I got the lead off leg which I was pleased to get. Just before the race my teammates jog me out to show me the harder hills on the course - one guy described one hill as "A rope to help climb would sure be helpful" - I could see what he means - brutal. Race starts with an uphill then runs relatively flat out to the mile marker then turns around and does a series of ups and down back to the finish - some quite steep.

I stuck to my typical ammo on hills - relax the uphills and attack the downhills. There is a quote from a movie I love called "On the Edge" about the Dipsea Trail race - somewhere in that movie the coach described how to run in this trail race downhill - "you run by faith - you put your foot out and believe when it lands you'll figure out how to not loose control". He had a good line for uphill running too but I don't remember it.

5:26 Mile 1 - Out of the blocks I take it a little relaxed on the initial uphill and get to the top with about a dozen people in front of me. As it flattens out I steadily take guys down and move my way up to 7th by the turnaround. I checked my watch a couple times and was hoping for a split around 5:20-5:30 and made a couple pace adjustments to get it - crossed the milemarker at 5:26.

5:44 Mile 2 - The hilly mile. A guy was pretty far ahead and I really was not making any moves on him but he seemed to slowly come back to me. I charged the downhills and with each one got a little closer - uphills I just got up them without pushing too hard and burning myself out. After the rope-climbing hill (it had reasonable footing actually - almost like stairs) he did a backglance at me so I figured he was worried I'd take him but I held off a little longer and he seemed energized at one point to break away but that didn't last long. I got a little closer to the guy ahead then finally took him on a downhill where he was braking and I was flying - I love getting roadkill on downhills - I don't know why people think they should brake on a downhill - just makes wiping out more probable imo. By this time we were within a ~200 yards of the hand-off and the next guy turned out to only be 20 or so yards away - the perfect motivation to sprint it in which I did and passed him with seemingly no fight and did the handoff - finished about 5th for my leg.

Total Split time 11:10
Team Time 50:12 Good enough to score 3rd Master's Team and keep my 2008 Texas Awards Streak Alive (12 for 12 races in 2008 including 3 relays). 2nd was about 1.5 minutes ahead and 1st had us beat handily with a 47:31.83 (11:53 average per runner).

Myself and 3 clones would have scored 3rd place overall.

Fun race - I got to see a bunch from the running community that I haven't seen since Spring Racing and share a couple beers after.

I just love a race where I'm moving forward from beginning to end without anyone passing me - finish with no regrets of "the one that got away".

Next race 10 for Texas - 10/18 (I think).

Hurricane Ike

On the 13th day it was said - let there be light - and it was so - WOO HOO!!!! We have power back. Here is some of what happen while the lights were out:

From National Hurricane Center:
At this last update we got before the lights went out the forecast track of the center was about 20 miles to our west with projected maximum winds to our area around mid-80s at a Cat 1 storm.


So the track ended up 5-10 miles to our East instead of 20 miles West as we thought when the lights went out and with that shift the eye was able to stay over water longer thru the Bay to get within about 20-30 miles of Kingwood before really going on land so the 60-70 miles of weakenning over land didn't happen before it got to us - That's pretty much as bad a track as is possible for Kingwood. It appears we got about 100 mph sustained winds + gusts - Category 2 Hurricane Strength at the house. For our area the prior record for wind had been in the mid-80 mph range from the prior Galveston Hurricane in 1900 that largely destroyed that island the last time. So IKE set new records in recorded history for our area.

From the dimensions and speed of this storm - rough calculations would say:
1 pm - Tropical Force Winds
3:30 pm (I go for one last run - getting a little windy)
9:30pm - Hurricane Force Winds
12:15 AM Saturday September 13th - The lights go out (according to our stove clock locked in that position for days).

4:40am - Enter the 40 mile diameter eye of the storm
6:00am - A pretty restless sleep really to the howls of the wind. Several in the neighborhood (including us) take this opportunity to let the dogs out briefly - I consider a quick morning run but Susan forces a bit of wisdom into me. We look out the window to see this:

Feeling quite fortunate that none of the towering Pine Trees came down on the house and only this back yard tree that I didn't much like anyway.
7:20am - Exit the eye of the storm

10:20am - Kaylee and I walk to the lake to survey the neighborhood a little - still raining and a little windy but clearly dying down - we get quite wet - but we are not alone as several other neighbors are out surveying.

Lots of tree damage around the neighborhood - most come down missing houses

but a few trees are leaning on houses.

Debris is everywhere - I figure the greenbelts (jogging trails) will be covered for months from the small glimpses I got of them:

2:20pm - Exit Hurricane Force Winds

Communications for a while is real spotty - although I found I could get occasional - sometimes in the early morning hours -blackberry service enough to get a quick email message out to let concerned family know we were all fine:

9/13 8:41 am Good morning. The eye has passed, still storming but the worst is done. One tree down but missed house (about 1/2 way in the pool) so I get to use my new chainsaw. Power out at 12:30 last night. Just wanted to let y'all know we are fine. Love you all. No phone and bad cell coverage but we are fine.

9/14 3:55 am Coverage is pretty spotty. We are in camp out mode in the house without power but everyone is fine. Cleaned up today sawing up the tree and picking up the yard. We are hopeful for power back sooner than later. Mall has power so if too hot we may go hang out there some today.

We have one of the bigger piles on the street with the downed tree in the back.

But every house has a pile of debris from the wind.

9/14 3:40 pm We are in the dark for much news. If you see any interesting articles on the damage reports in Houston please email. Pictures too if you see interesting ones. No links - can't link to Internet. The tree was just outside kitchen window. I kinda like without it as it made the back patio feel claustrophobic - now its very open - when we get computer I will send you a picture. Another storm last night will probably slow power recovery but we are still hopeful not too long.
9/16 2:20 am No flooding. No expected insurance claim. In my area I expect maybe 1 in 50 houses will have a claim for tree damage to house so the area was not hit that hard really. Just a mess of trees and limbs with a pile in front of every house as most have finished cleanup by now. Streets are all cleared well enough to get around. Long lines to get ice - a precious commodity - fun family time in a way without power as you say. Looks like Thursday night at dads if we get power back - I probably won't fly off Wednesday if no power yet.Love ya all. Storm itself was kinda neat in a way. The eye went over the house and I really wanted to go run a bunch of miles in it but Susie wouldn't let me - probably smart :).

9/17 6:12 pm My morning run Kaylee Ryan (on bikes) and I traced the overhead power lined from our house to the main road a mile or so to get a clue to power recovery time. Found many trees on power lines yet to be dealt with and closest workers are 3 miles farther out. So we decided to see how lucky we could be in the search for a generator. Lucked out at a Sears that happened to just get 150 of them - at number 48 in line we now have a generator - also picked up a window AC as the hot/humid is supposed to be rolling in again over the weekend - so now we have power (yeah!) - sorta - and a chore every couple days to wait in fuel lines to keep it fueled. School pushed back to at least Monday and Shell has told us to stay home too until Monday to conserve fuel around town so we are all home having lots of family time and getting to know neighbors - not so rough a life really.

9/18 6:15 am [response to a question about other utilities besides electricity] Water, sewer, and gas are underground and has been on throughout (never flooded here) [although there were some smelly overflowing manholes around - not near our house thankfully - from sewers without power for pumps] - so we still enjoy hot showers. Grocery stores have power although frozen sections are closed - loaded up on groceries last night now that we have a frig again - most all we had before has been consumed or tossed - we barbecued the better stuff and have been living on as much steaks, salmon and shrimp as we could consume before we had to toss the rest out. Even had trash pickup yesterday so the streets don't smell of bad food from all the houses.

9/18 12:36 pm Extension cords everywhere. Some have hooked up to the main but I don't have parts for that and at only 4000 Watts we are limited - can't even run the dryer (and it's even a gas dryer) but can run frig, microwave and a few lights which is good enough for the basic comforts.

9/21 6:47 PM Life has improved some - although still no power we do now have a home phone and I figured out how to hook the generator to the house so as long as we are selective to stay within the generator wattage we can use all our normal comforts. Digital TV is pretty good (knew there was a good reason I kept those rabbit ears), phone connection gives us (slow) Internet thru my laptop and phone calling thru a couple analog phones we happened to have, also we bought a little window AC unit for the bedroom so nights aren't too hot. Life is moving forward. I go back to work tomorrow and the kids start school on Thursday per the latest estimate. Papers report our area is scheduled to be "substantially powered" by Monday night but I have my doubts as I drive by multiple spots of trees on the lines to the house and no workers - we can always hope - one benefit we have is it appears the power to the elementary school will give us power so since schools are to start Thursday they will have to energize the school which should give it to us too - I think.

9/24 6 pm - I finally see workers out working on the tangle of electrical lines and trees by the school next to our house. When they move to an area the move in force - there must have been 6 trucks and a dozen people swarming the repairs.

9/25 1:30pm - Start getting reports neighbors have power. 5:30pm - I get home from work and check with the volt meter - POWER!!!! - actually brings tears to Susan's eyes - cut off the generator and switch over to main power and fire everything up. What a nice thing to have. I do a jog after dark around the neighborhoods near us and ALL places I found had power where they were all dark the day before. Those power workers made a tone of progress in a day - they are real Hero's working non-stop since the storm to restore millions of people's power.

9/27 Street cleaners (another workforce of Heros) come by to clear out all the tree debris from in front of everyone's house.

Now we are essentially back to the way it was pre-storm. Even most of the jogging trails are clear. The week off work with cool weather gave me lots of opportunity to log mileage and I actually logged my highest mileage week since high school at 82.7 miles. Thru all that running thru neighborhoods post Ike I was impressed by the damage but also impressed by how well houses protect - I didn't see a single tree that actually penetrated a house past the roof - I saw several that completely destroyed the roof but none that broke the walls supporting the roof. The worst damage was from the pine trees that snapped in the middle and free-fell into a roof - the trees that gave way at the roots generally just leaned up against the house. I was also impressed at the total lack of window damage anywhere. Several boarded up or taped up windows in preparation but that work appeared without any benefit for any house I saw. We boarded up the master bedroom and all slept in there creating a "safe room" to ride out the storm - I actually left the boards on until after we had power as it also kept the room a little cooler.
Pretty amazing what has been done in clean-up in a couple weeks. It got pretty old to be without power but overall we got off pretty lucky. I've now experienced my first Hurricane - after Ike I don't even count Hurricane Rita 3 years ago which didn't even get Cat 1 force winds into our area. Quite an experience that I'd be quite alright with only having once in my life - although in the end it was mostly a major inconvenience to be without power for a couple weeks - we were quite fortunate compared to many many others.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Race Records

Race:- -1.0 ---5k 8k/5M --10k ----10M --13.1M ----30k --26.2M PR VD Award/Weight
Jun-12 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 2:55:37 -- 55 1st AG
Jun-12 5:00 1M, 5:02 1600m 2:21 800m- ------- ------- ------- -- -- 3Wins, 2ndOA Team
May-12 ---- ----- 29:30 8k Relay leg  ------- ------- ------- -- -- 1st Mstr Team
Apr-12 ---10:33 2M Relay----- ------- ------- ------- ------- -- -- 1st Mstr Team
Apr-12 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 3:05:00 -- 52 160#
Mar-12 203MRelay-30:39(4.94)/27:10(4.56)/37:43(6:42)20:09(3.3)-- -- 1st OA Team
Mar-12 ---- ----- 28:46 ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 58 1st AG
Feb-12 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 7:29:57 PR -- 50M 5th OA
Jan-12 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 2:40:39 -- 61 155# 1st ABB Team Mar
Nov-11 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- 1:55:44 ------- PR 59 2nd AG
Nov-11 ---- ----- ----- 35:27 ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 60 Master Win
Nov-11 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- --1:44:21(26.2k)------- PR 56 3rd Master
Oct-11 ---- 16:40 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 62 Master Win
Oct-11 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:20:50 ------- ------- -- 58 3rd AG
Oct-11 ---- ----- ----- ----- 1:03:19 ------- ------- ------- -- 55 1st AG
Sep-11 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 9:46:36 PR -- 50M 3rd AG
Aug-11 ---- ----- ----- 42:15 ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 49
Jul-11 ---- 18:26 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 55 2nd AG
May-11 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 11:51:42PR -- Ironman
Apr-11 ---- *1:12 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR -- Sprint Tri
Mar-11 ---14:47(4k)---- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 54 2nd AG
Dec-10 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 2:38:55 PR 62 2nd AG 155#
Nov-10 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- --1:33:55(25k)- ------- PR 60 2nd AG
Nov-10 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:20:59 ------- ------- -- 58 2nd AG
Oct-10 ---- ----- ----- ----- -59:09- ------- ------- ------- PR 59 1st Master
Sep-10 ---- ----- ----- 37:18 ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 56 Win
Aug-10 ---- 18:19 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 55 3rd OA
Jun-10 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:25:01 ------- ------- -- 55 1st AG
Jun-10 5:13 10:12(3k)-- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 58
May-10 ---- 18:24 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 55
Apr-10 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 3:16:34 -- 48 165#
Nov-08 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 2:39:26 PR 62 Mstr Win,AG 2nd 155#
Oct-08 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:19:58 ------- ------- -- 58
Oct-08 ---- ----- ----- ----- 1:00:17 ------- ------- ------- PR 58
Aug-08 ---- 17:20 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 59
Jun-08 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 2:43:54 -- 60 AG Win/4th 155#
Jun-08 4:53 ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 61 Win
May-08 ---- 17:08 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 60 AG Win
Apr-08 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 2:42:27 -- 60 150#
Apr-08 ---- 16:54 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 61 AG 2nd
Mar-08 ---- ----- 28:57 ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 58 AG 2nd
Mar-08 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 2:47:04 -- 59 2nd 150#
Mar-08 ---- ----- ----- 35:10 ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 60 AG 3rd
Feb-08 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:18:11 ------- ------- PR 60 3rd
Feb-08 ---- 17:29 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 58 AG 2nd
Jan-08 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 2:40:46 PR 61 Mstr Win 150#
Dec-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- 1:58:48 ------- PR 57
Dec-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- 2:05:00 ------- PR 54 Win
Nov-07 ---- ----- ----- 36:11 ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 58 AG 3rd
Nov-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 2:56:37 PR 55 155#
Oct-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- 1:04:51 ------- ------- ------- PR 53
Sep-07 ---- 17:29 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- -- 58
Sep-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:22:45 ------- ------- PR 56
Jul-07 ---- 17:28 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 58
Jul-07 ---- ----- ----- 37:00 ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 57
Jul-07 5:04 ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 59
Jun-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 3:08:42 -- 51 160#
Apr-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:32:13 ------- ------- -- 50 AG 4th & 5th
Apr-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 3:01:01 PR 53 160#
Mar-07 ---- ----- 31:09 ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 53
Mar-07 ---- ----- ----- 39:50 ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 52
Feb-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:28:20 ------- ------- PR 52
Jan-07 ---- 18:37 ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- ------- PR 54 AG 3rd
Jan-07 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 3:10:31 PR 50 165#
Dec-06 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- 2:10:35 ------- PR 51
Nov-06 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:41:05 ------- ------- -- 45
Oct-06 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- 1:39:30 ------- ------- PR 45
Jan-06 ---- ----- ----- ----- ------- ------- ------- 4:27:30 PR 33 185#

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hill Training - Inside Texas Running


A very well done article in the Inside Texas Running Magazine - thanks for writing and submitting it - you write so much better than me. I was running Sunday and I had a few people on the trails tell me I was famous - I had kinda figured the idea of a story was dropped so it was a pleasant surprize to see you went ahead with it. I went by a running store last night and picked up the magazine to read it (my normal delivery must have got lost in the mail). I've read it a couple times and it's like reliving the last few exciting years over again which was fun. I never seem to like pictures of myself but both my wife and daughter liked the picture you chose - I may have to go order that one :-). Catchy title too.

Thanks again!



A couple minor fact corrections that make no different whatsoever but I feel the need to correct. They were both my fault as they originated from my answers to you in the interview.
- My second marathon time was 5 minutes, not 10 minutes better than required to quality for Boston unless I had been 3 days older it would have been 10 minutes as my 40th birthday was a few days later - I looked that up later and realized my mistake.
- My non-running life gap from high school to my adult on-set athlete was 38-18=20 years - not sure how I came up with 15 years before.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hill Training Interview - Inside Texas Running Magazine

I put this together in answer to some interview questions for a magazine a few weeks ago - I don't know if the article will ever be written but I thought I'd go ahead and put up this summary as I took the time to write it - I may edit it as I re-read it and think of other things.


1. How long have you been a runner? What got you interested? Any background you want to provide here.

High School – first couple years I found in PE I had a bit of a knack for running by scoring ~6 minutes in the mile in the time-trials done on occasion in class which was pretty quick in PE. The High School Coach recruited me in my junior year into his training/racing program for cross country/track and I ran for him for 2 years. It was in a big high school that generally fared competitive due to what I believe was a pretty demanding coach and training program – coach taught me how to train pretty hard running somewhere between 80-100 mpw for much of that two years and I ended up climbing the ranks to about 3rd runner on the team with times like 4:28 for the Mile and 2:06 for the ½ mile – those were respectable good times – but not great and although I’d frequently place in events – especially track – I rarely (only once as I recall) won any races.

After High School I’d say life pretty much got in the way of running. I had a few short sporadic ventures into running. Typically I would just want to prove to myself I could run a 6 minute mile still so I’d run for a few weeks – do a time trial and get that – maybe hit a 5k or something then fade back into no running. Degreed (UCSD – Mechanical Engineer), Careered (Engineer for Shell Oil Company), Married (Lovely wife of almost 17 years now), Familied (Two great kids both teenagers now) and ~15+ years go by from high school and I decided to set my sights onto running again.

Perhaps some sort of mid-life thing or perhaps getting a bit bothered by the scale drifting up year by year or perhaps just a fluke thing I happen to carry on my life goals list year after year since High School but never got around to – at the beginning of October, ‘05 – 38 yrs old ~185 lbs - I went ahead and signed up for Houston Marathon ‘06 coming up in January without the slightest clue what it would take to get ready for that run – just 3 ½ months away and I recall struggling after that to finish my first 3 mile run.

2. Over the last couple years you've shown a lot of improvement. What do you attribute that to? Has your training changed a lot during that time?

First Marathon Training – to just finish:
My training has of course changed tremendously since that October ‘05 since I was starting from complete scratch. When I mentioned my goal to some others someone guided me to a Galloway method (Run/Walk 20min/5min) that I incorporated into my training to help be build up the mileage. Pretty much I ran 2 days a week with a few miles mid week and an ever-increasing long run on the weekend until a couple weeks before Houston – then I ran Houston. I was happy to have one or both of my kids with me on their bikes on nearly every weekend run I did – made for some great hang-out time with them. When I got to the race I way overestimated my abilities and did the typical first timer thing starting at a brisk pace steadily slowing mile by mile then adding shorter then later longer walk breaks after ½ way as I fatigued rapidly and finishing with the typical deathmarch to the end for the last several miles – but I finished and although I had visions of sub4 hrs that I missed by almost 30 minutes I was (in great pain but) ecstatic with the accomplishment of finishing my first marathon! I finished almost exactly at the midpoint of the field – half the runners in front of me and half behind me which I was quite proud of for my first time out.

I did another brief training cycle to the San Diego Marathon in June ‘06 training much like the first but ended up not finishing that race as I’d caught some bug pre-race and couldn’t push thru it but about ½ the race. Left a sour taste in me about the marathon.

Second Marathon Training – Major Step Change in Fitness:
Following September - I took the plunge and signed up for the Houston Marathon again this time with 4.5 months to train. Finishing had already been done and now it was time to see what I could really do. I had read everything I could put my hands on about training and found a couple approaches interesting – 1) Use a heartrate monitor to regulate the pace and 2) Run slow for a while (low heartrate) until an aerobic base is established.

I spent September running pretty much daily just a few miles most days with a longer run on the weekend but not letting my heartrate get too high which initially meant I had to keep slowing way down from beginning of the run to the end – I also focused on dropping some extra weight. Finally by the end of the month of September I was able to run a good distance to a steady pace without my heartrate increasing so it was time to move on to some other types of training I’d read.

From here I changed to a weekly Tempo, VO2max(Intervals), Longrun with easy days between continuing to use the heartrate monitor to guide me to run each workout at the right pace – maybe up to ~40 miles per week. It was an exciting time for me in running as week after week my paces would get faster and faster – sometimes dropping as much as 15-20 second per mile in a single week.

Somewhere in this period I happened across a book in the bookstore by Pete Pfitzinger called Advanced Marathoning and I stepped up my training a bit to align with the easiest training program in the book (12 weeks, 55 miles per week peak mileage) – still my favorite marathoning book that I refer to often.

Anyway – after my first tune-up race (Houston 1/2 marathon) I began to dream of Boston – I needed only to run the same speed as that first ½ marathon for a whole marathon and fib 3 days about my age (my 40th birthday brought an easier qualifying time but was 3 days too late) – and I qualified for the Boston Marathon – not a chance it could ever happen but I could always dream. Started getting plagued with knee pain so I backed off a little but decided to attempt to push thru the knee pain and run another ½ marathon in Austin in November. I put a compression sleeve on my knee and found I could run well enough and got about the same time on that ½ marathon. One more tune-up race – Sugarland 30k – an especially perfect running day down in the 40s and I pull out a mega-speed record for me maintained a 7 mpm average pace for that race. I ran to the same heartrate as the ½ marathons but all of a sudden - I was fast as lightning – I just love what cold weather does for me.

Boston went from an impossible dream to an easy goal without even the 3 day fib on my age. Finished up the training cycle – ran Houston Marathon (about 20 lbs lighter than I was in September) and scored a 3:10 – 5 minutes faster that what was needed (even without the little white lie) - and I was in for Boston – although I could barely walk after the race from the knee pain - I had been using that compression sleeve for most all runs since November).

I had a doctor checkout my knee. Per x-rays he said all thicknesses were where they were supposed to be and he suggested I stop using that sleeve – so all reservations removed - I signed up for Boston.

Boston Marathon – the perfect race.
I flipped a few pages in the Pfitzinger book to a workout plan that fit for multiple marathons close together and started training to get ready for Boston – without the sleeve. Knee pain went away pretty quickly (I think that sleeve was the real problem) and I was able to put in a respectable training program pretty much sticking to the plan from the book guided by the heartrate for the pace of each run. Mostly I stuck to the plan.

Somewhere in here in my constant search to learn more about running I fell into an on-line community of runners with a lot of passion and experience in marathoning on the Running Times Forum’s. Learned a ton from them and got caught up in the excitement of going to the Boston Marathon – I didn’t know any other marathoners so it was kinda nice to have virtual kin of sorts.

Boston was the race of dreams – major Noreaster Storm forecast to have high headwinds and freezing rain electrified the excitement of it for me – to run not just Boston but a historic Boston in the BIG STORM – what a thrill. Turned out to be an almost perfect weather day except for a little rain at the beginning and the headwind in parts which kept me back from achieving a sub3 hr but it was the most bestest feeling in the world to start out with a 5000 bib from the 5th corral and finish ~1000th place passing people from beginning to end especially the last part of that race from Heartbreak Hill to the Finish – I poured everything I had into that finish and it felt so wonderful to finish – a tear’d up moment like no words can describe.

I think that was a moment of change for me - running/racing went from a kinda phase I was going thru - a one-off knock out a goal - to more just an enriching way of life.

The Quest for Sub3 Hours
But – I didn’t get my sub3 hr – I made another quick shot at it at San Diego a couple months later but it was a little warm and I still didn’t get it which only helped to strengthen my resolve.

I made it into NYC marathon by lottery so that was the race to knock out the sub3 hour marathon. I became interested in Daniel’s Running Formula training programs but also liked the day by day set-up in Pfitzinger’s book so going to NYC I kinda tried to blend the training programs together substituting Pfitzinger Quality workouts for Daniels harder Quality workouts. Somehow in this blending process I ended up putting way too much focus on interval training. Daniels has it earlier in the training cycle and Pfitzinger has it later and I ended up doing both the earlier and the later not recognizing the differences. Although I think I should have been capable for about a 2:50 marathon at NYC I ended up getting a 2:56ish having peaked about a month too soon I think. Fun race and I knocked out my sub3 hr marathon so on balance I was happy. And I’d never been to New York before so that was quite an experience alone.

PR Marathon Race
After reflection of what went wrong for NYC – why was my peak a month too early – I recognized my mistake with all the interval workouts and resolved to cut them out all together going to Houston and just focus on Marathon Pace and Tempo type workouts along with long runs for my quality. I pretty much stopped really using a packaged workout program but stuck with maintaining the quality and quantity of mileage each week – maintaining somewhere around 70 miles per week as I had been mostly since San Diego.

Yet another race of dreams come with Houston – I thought the Boston experience could never be topped but the Houston Marathon came close if not topping it – I go back and forth on which was better. I go to Houston hoping to run a sub-Lance (Lance beat me at NYC with a 2:46 so I wanted to beat his time) – I think at the startline I might be just about capable to do that if everything felt right. And everything felt PERFECT lining up for that race – I felt physically and mentally at the highest peak possible – I was ready to race and I planned to take no prisoners and run an aggressive race from beginning to end. I ran it by heartrate not looking at my pace but running at a heartrate I believed I could sustain for a whole marathon. To my amazement as I passed each milemarker I heard the average pace yelled out to me faster than I could ever have dreamed I could run. In the end I ran a 2:40 marathon which I didn’t know until the very end of the race as I approached the finishline – I heard the pace at the mile splits but I refused to let my mind do the math to convert that to a finishing time – I knew it was going to be good but I was floored to see 2:40:xx ticking away – 3 steps after the finishline I had to let out a big “YESSSS”. Nothing I had in training – no tune-up race no training run had suggested even the possibility of anything better than 2:46ish. Then looking for my place in the race I was again floored to discover I had WON the Masters Prize in the race. Up to that point I never looked toward winning anything thinking I was just one of many fast runners in the area – not to mention out of the area – that ran Houston – to WIN Masters – that was a whole new level several floors above my wildest expectations.

Beat Lance:
In the afterglow of Houston - fearing this was a fluke that could never be repeated I raced a lot and a very different pattern in my racing emerged this year – I starting winning some little trinket for Age Group or Placing in every race of every distance I ran. I think I got 2 trinkets last year but now I’ve got a pile of them in the corner of my bathroom from every race this year (except Boston).

Unsure of the next great mountain to climb my radar locked onto the Boston Marathon again when I read an article that said Lance was going to be there – I wanted some payback for getting my a$$ kicked at NYC to him by over a mile. By the time I got to Boston I was hoping and expecting to beat Houston’s time but I messed up my fueling and ended up a couple minutes slower – but I beat Lance by over a mile so I got my payback (like he cares).

In Summary
It has been a trill to get back into running again and get in shape. I added my 9th marathon in June with a trip up to Anchorage – I think it was my best run race yet – not on the clock but it was a hard course. I have had the great pleasure to finish most of my marathons to the excited glee of my wife near each finish line with a big proud cheering smile (and an occasional fly-by kiss) and for a few races my kids also have been out there too beside her cheering – I love that kinda finish. She and the kids have been very supportive of this running lifestyle I’ve got and are my biggest fans.

I’ve tried a few different training methods that continue to evolve as I still have a lot to learn - I still consider myself a beginner or maybe I've graduated to intermediate runner. I have enjoyed learning the strategic aspects of marathoning (how to train, how to race, how to fuel/hydrate, etc) as much as the actual running itself. I think I have benefited considerably from being lucky enough not to get injured and being able to string together a relatively uninterrupted period of training to adapt my body to run the marathon (22 month now since Sept ‘06) to get the cumulative benefits.

3. What does your training consist of? Miles per week? Track work? Hills?

I run between 60 and 80 miles per week – all singles typically. Once cool weather comes I may try to push up the training mileage a bit more for a faster Houston if I can find the time. I run most every day at random times – early morning or lunch breaks or late at night some times – wherever I can fit it into the day. Family and work have to take priority and sometimes I just need sleep too but I love to run and can typically figure out a way to get a run in even on busy days.

A few random thoughts:
- I like fast finishes on long runs with the last several miles around marathon effort,
- recovery days I run slow and just enjoy the scenery,
- depending what particular aspect of running I’m working on I’ll make my quality days focus Tempo/MP like or more Interval like with progressive runs mixed in.
- I’m kinda making up my workouts plan as I go for now - right now I’m working on my speed so I’m focusing on 5k speed workouts for a few more weeks than I plan to focus on endurance and threshold so will increase my long runs and run more tempo paced running.
- I steal a lot of workouts from Daniels book the Elite plan although once in a while I can’t quite make it through some of those harder workouts.
- Also I try to incorporate a run a week with my local Running Club (Kingwood Fit) which I usually make an easy run day – it’s nice to run with others once in a while – they recruited me to be an Assistant Coach his year which should be fun.
- I don’t do much in the way of hills at all – they are nowhere to be found in Houston except maybe parking garages but that just seems weird – on occasion if I’m traveling I’ll go find a hilly run.
- I don’t stretch much unless I feel some tightness somewhere but I do use a foam roller, which I think helps reduce probability of injuries.
- I don’t do any cross training or strength training. The time I have to train pretty much I just run.

4. What are some of your goals in the near future and in the next couple years?

The most immediate goal is to knock out a 6 mpm pace in the marathon – the number just seems important to me (2:37:18). Could only run that fast for one mile pre-2005, then I could run a 5k that speed by Feb, ‘07, 10k by Nov ‘07, ½ marathon by Feb ‘08, now I want the marathon that speed hopefully by Nov ’08 or at least Jan ‘09. Beyond that I figure age is going to catch up to me within a couple years so I’m pushing hard to be all I can be as soon as possible. Once the PRs stop coming or take too much effort then I’ll probably switch my focus to something else – but I figure that’s still probably at least a couple years away – I hope.

I’d like to get down into the 2:30s on the marathon and if the stars all align absolutely perfect maybe even faster than that.

5. What races are on your immediate schedule?

San Antonio’s R&R marathon is on my radar – I’m sure I’ll have a couple tune-up races before that – then of course Houston again in January.

6. What are your PRs? Any distance you want to give here is fine.

PRs (not including High School)

Marathon ....2:40:46....1/08
1/2 Mar...... 1:18:11... 2/08
10k........... 35:11...... 3/08
5k............. 16:55 ......4/08
1 Mile .........4:53....... 6/08

7. What does running do for you?

That’s a really good question – right up there with the “Why do you run?”.

Usually I go with the quick answer when asked this like it keeps me healthy or it feeds my competitive drive or something like that because if I sound too existential than it just sounds weird. Health has been a very nice byproduct but has never been the real goal/drive for me. It really amounts to the same type of reasons people climb mountains or go after other dreams - hard to put that into words – you either just understand the drive or you don’t – there is something very fulfilling about reaching for then achieving things that seemed impossible – as it becomes possible I find myself looking for a bigger challenge – a bigger mountain to climb so to speak - searching for a way to repeat or even top that feeling of accomplishment.


Friday, August 8, 2008

USATF Masters Championship 5000m

Good time in Spokane, WA at the USATF Masters Championship. Enjoyed jogging the city night before after my plane arrived. The hotel clerk said that trail behind hotel went farther than I could run unless I was Forest Gump - after under 2 miles it ends (?) - so I just take to the streets - some really cool bridges over a gorge with views of waterfalls and a little dam - much nicer than I expected - somehow I envisioned nothing but desert flatlands.

Warm-up few miles downstream a few miles on the river from my hotel where the race was held - I happen across that trail the clerk spoke of called the Centennial Trail and see from posted maps where I made a wrong turn (btw - I think I could have run to the end of the trail - it was under 15 miles from the hotel and a part of me wanted to bag the race and take on that challenge - but I resisted that temptation). Very nice trail overlooking the Spokane River in the gorge below.

The race 5000m or 12.5 times around a 400m track. ~20 runners 30-44 - only one "contender" under 40 as it turns out so except for the winner of the race all those around and in front of me were in my 40-44 AG.

lap splits (5000m is 12.5 laps).

1 75.5 4th place overall, 3rd age group
2 80.6 I get passed but he pulls me by one guy so I end up still 3rd AG.
3 80.7
4 80.2 (5:17 1600m)
5 81.9
6 84.2 I think it was this lap I drop to 4th AG.
7 83.3
8 85.8 (5:35)
9 87.6
10 86.6
11 89.0 I drop to 5th
12.5 124.4 (600m) (5:45 1600 pace for 1800) I drop to 6th near the beginning of this and I watch him take 4th too - I just couldn't muster a strong finish kick - I regret not putting more into catching those two that finished within 10 second in front of me - maybe I couldn't have got them but I felt I might have found something more inside to try.

17:20 (5:35 mpm pace).

Winner I recall got 15:45 but somehow didn't lap me (not exactly sure how that's possible - maybe I got his time wrong).

So as you can see this race was a fader. I went in thinking sub1000 seconds (16:40) expecting perfect conditions on a track with spikes in Washington (surely better than any race conditions in Houston - maybe not) so my focus was on even 80 second laps - which started to slip away after 4 to end.

Race condition adjustments - calculated for fun basis the RunWorks calculator and hourly info from the Weather Underground start time 10:30am - yes this is what engineers do for fun - calculate :).

16:50 ; 30 seconds off for 80•f vs 60•f (it was a dry heat compared to Houston but it still slows).
16:43 ; 7 seconds for 1900' elevation vs sea level
16:31 ; 12 seconds for average 12 mph wind lined up pretty close to the straights on the track - figuring 35 second per mile slowed 25% of the race by headwinds is 27 second and 20 seconds per mile sped by tailwinds for 25% is a 15 second tailwind help - actually there were trees blocking most of the tailwind benefit :( but ignoring that reduced benefit.

So all adjusted it looks like around 16:31 or 991 seconds total - but I can't count that for my PR - still want the sub1000 seconds without adjustment :) - calculated seconds faster are not near as rewarding as those actually run.

But I still love the adjusted-VDOT calculation off that (62.2 with a 2:38 marathon equivalent).

Lesson learned for next time to better adjust my expectations to race conditions (how many times do I have to learn that one) - could have prevented the fader and maybe with even pacing finished stronger. Regrets of this mistake are relatively minor on a 5k but a very different story for a marathon.

Very cool people out there running - lots of fast masters in their adult athletic phase (like me).

Thanks for reading.