Sunday, April 23, 2017

Training Log - Catching up

I have a lot of catching up to do, though fortunately the catch-up work is all in the recording, not in the running. I'm pretty sure I couldn't make up for not working out at all in three or four weeks or whatever it's been, but I can fake my way through a recap.

I'm pretty sure that the first week that I neglected to report was right after spring break, and I only managed one workout of any kind that week. Part of the problem was that traveling back at the start of the week was a total disaster (a flat tire on our borrowed pop-up camper necessitated an unexpected hotel stay), and then we had a lot of clean-up to do from spring break, and then I was back at work and--shockingly--it's always busy right after a break.

Who am I kidding, it's always busy.

But anyway, I'm pretty sure it was that Wednesday that I did a run on the famous suspended-in-air wooden track because it was raining, and I ran for 80 minutes, which was the longest time I've ever spent running in my life. To that point--I can say from my current perspective that I've repeatedly broken that record, such as it is.

But I didn't do any more working out that week, and then it was the Big Birthday Weekend. I turned 40 on Saturday, our middle child turned 5 on Tuesday, and so we had family in town that weekend to celebrate. We went out for breakfast on Saturday, which was an appalling-yet-appealing all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. So I ate too many pancakes, even if they did have crappy margarine spread instead of butter and high-fructose nonsense instead of real maple syrup. I have standards, but I can ignore them when necessary.

And I'm not the only one who ignores standards, apparently.
For that matter, those standards were pretty thoroughly cast aside at lunch, at my daughter's birthday party that afternoon, at my own birthday dinner, and at the late-night cake-fest that followed.

And Sunday wasn't much better.

These things happen.

I came into the next week feeling like I had a lot to make up for, between just one workout last week (albeit one run that I was proud of) and a whole host of dietary sins over the weekend. Additionally, it was a gorgeous day on Monday, so I went to run outside along the lake by our school.

And it absolutely killed me. Ugh. I had zero desire to do that run, and the fact that I seemed to be running into the wind almost regardless of what direction I was running didn't help matters any. I stopped after a mere 17:38, during which time I ran (according to Google maps) 1.728 miles--which turned out to be a better than expected 10:13 pace. Not expecting that, because I felt slow slow slow, and that's just slow.

To compensate in some measure for the shortness of my run, I went to the weight room and pumped some iron: a very quick workout, my 2-minute all-out effort on three exercises: leg press, bench press, lat pull-down.

Wednesday, I planned to go over to the track and run 400-meter repeats. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans (though, to be perfectly honest, this wasn't a particularly well-laid plan). Pretty much everything that could go wrong did. First, as I jogged over to the track by way of warm-up, I was futzing around on my phone, tripped, and went down. I got right back up and kept running, but my leg looked like this:

Now, I don't have a lot of experience with running 400-meter sprints. Like, pretty much none. To the extent that I have worked sprints into my workouts, they've tended to be more like 100 meters. The first supposedly-400-meter sprint, I approached it basically like a 100-meter sprint that would just be painfully long. And it kind of was, except that it was painful enough that I quit after 300. I walked back to the starting line, recovered a bit, and thought "Well, how about 300-meter repeats?" So I basically just went out there and did the same thing, except that I pooped out after 200 this time.

Well, shit. This was not at all what I was planning.

As a side note to this, one thought that crossed my mind as I was taking that recovery walk was that I really didn't want to write on my blog about what a colossal failure this workout had been. Finally, as I was walking the longer distance back to the starting line, I decided that maybe--just maybe--a 400-meter run was not just a long 100-meter run. So, like, maybe I couldn't set the same kind of pace for both?

As I toed the line for the third time and mentally sounded the starter's gun, I found a pace somewhere between my regular long-distance pace and my full-out sprint, and then ran my 400 meters. It still wasn't exactly fun, but it was doable. I ran a 1:39 400, which is incredibly slow by most standards, but whatever. It's where I'm at right now. My second one, after a minute and a half's rest, was 1:44, so I didn't totally tank it.

And then I called it a day.

Friday came around with glorious weather, and though Friday was a busy day, I decided to get a little run in. I had in mind more where I wanted to go--running along the lake--than how far I wanted to go, except that I knew I couldn't go too long, because I had places to be and things to do. So. I ended up running... uh, I have no idea actually. I wrote the first part of that sentence a week or more ago and I don't remember that run at all. Moving on.

Since Friday's run wasn't all that long and I hadn't done a "long" run in over a week, I decided to try to get a longer run in on Saturday. It wasn't an ideal run by any means, but I guess it was okay.

I set out to run a big loop around the town where I live, though with no very clear idea how far I would be running. My vague intention was to run anywhere from an hour to two hours, and I ended up running an hour. I felt pretty good through most of the run, but during the second half my shoes were rubbing in a couple places on my feet and my nipples were chafing (good idea, wearing a t-shirt instead of one of my dozen or so shirts that's designed to wick away sweat). A little tired too, but I think it I hadn't spent 30 minutes trying to ignore irritation on my feet and nipples, I would have been all right to go further.

According to Google Maps, I ran an evil 6.66 miles. I apparently didn't start my stopwatch, but it was around an hour and six minutes that I ran, which worked out to a 9:55 pace. Not sure if I believe that or not, considering all of my runs so far have been just slower than 10:00 pace, but I will say that the first half hour of the run felt really good, so it's not totally inconceivable, I guess.

Let's review then: in one week, I had my longest run of my life (but nothing else) and then the next week I had a lot of smaller workouts, none of which was particularly impressive on its own. So which was the better week?


No workout Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, but finally on Wednesday I was able to set aside some time for a longer run. As a side note, I'm beginning to think the stopwatch on my phone is faulty, because I swear I hit start but--just like my last run--there was absolutely nothing on it when I finished my run. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I ran for 100 minutes, and I felt pretty good throughout. I was glad to be done, but feeling really good about it.

Then I sat down with Google to see how far I ran. I was hoping for 10 miles or close to it, but Google had some unpleasant news for me: 8.77 miles.

Well, crap. That was disappointing. 11:24 pace, way slower than I was hoping for. If that's my pace on race day, I'll be closer to two and a half hours than to two. But still, it was my longest (ever) run, so that's something. And it wasn't all the grueling, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised that it was slower.

I didn't work out between then and Sunday, when I did another long run. My goal was to do a 2-hour run, however far that would take me. I ran a loop around town that took just about a half hour, so--employing my ingenious math skills--I should make four loops.

Unfortunately, things happen. For instance: I planned to wear my new Vibrams for this run. I've discovered that they rub funny on my instep, so I get around that by putting two big fabric band-aids on my feet. Problem solved.

Except that all but one of my bandages are at school (30+ minute round trip) and I have two feet. So instead I wore my old pair of Vibrams, which are full of holes that let my toes peek out... but I cleverly used duct tape to patch the holes.

And that was all going splendidly until my third circuit of the course, when I lost the duct tape on my right second toe--actually, I probably lost it long before then, that's just when the constant scraping against pavement started to irritate me. So I stopped after three circuits instead of four.

But once I got home, I put a bandage on my right instep and wore one new shoe and one old shoe and went out to add another [approximately] half hour to my run. So I'd say there was probably 20 minutes or so between my first run and my second.

According to Google Maps and my watch, my first run was 93 minutes that covered 9.12 miles (a perfectly acceptable 10:12 pace). And my second run--despite feeling like god-awful hard work, was just 2.74 miles in only 27 minutes, which is apparently a 9:51 pace. Well what do you know! Maybe that's why it was so hard.

And so, for the day, I ran 11.86 miles in 120 minutes, an overall pace of 10:07. So it was my longest run even without the extra few miles, and by far my longest run if you include them both, and it ended up being a pace that I was fairly satisfied with. But my legs are also more tired than they have been after any other run and I expect I'll still be feeling it in the morning.

But here were at T-minus 13 days to the half.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Training Log - Week 4

Week four was spent on the road, so I transitioned from mostly lifting and occasionally--almost as if by accident--running... to ONLY running.

Sunday we were at my in-laws in suburban Cleveland, so I got in my long run on loops of a housing development where every pair of houses looks like those pictures where you have to identify the five differences between them. I actually like running there. If nothing else, it's flat, which I think I made clear in my last post is much preferred.

So I ran a big loop through the neighborhood and circumnavigated it six times in 57:27. Turns out I ran 5.64 miles, which turned out to be a 10:11 pace. I was pretty happy with that. It wasn't nearly as miserable as last week's run, though I also did not achieve Zen-like equanimity. So it goes.

From there, we went to southwestern Kentucky for five days of camping. I'd like to say that I only ran every third day because I was tied up with the necessities of bare survival or family fun time, so that's what I'll say. Totally not lazy.

Wednesday, I explored the campground at a jog with my running buddy.

I haven't really run with a jogging stroller before, but of course it does take a bit more work to push the stroller, to guide it, and not dump her out of the stroller. Yeah, yeah, she's buckled in, but it's not exactly a five-point harness. It's not even a three-point harness. It's just a strap. You can't see it in the photo, but there's also a strap for my left hand which allows me to periodically let go and just run while it coasts along without the risk of, you know, letting her outrun me on downhills. We ran for about 20 minutes, and around that time I thought I'd try out one of the trails.


Even though it was paved, it had all kinds of things to jiggle my baby around: cracks and bulges, sticks and debris, and it also was very up-and-down with relatively sharp curves. In short, it was not buddy-friendly. So we walked for ten minutes until we found our way back around to the campground and ran around for another twenty (so back to my 40-minute running, albeit with a break). All in all, a fine run.

Then on Saturday, I got to take a solo run. I ran on the nice pavement, but I was once again drawn in by the idea of trail running. I saw a sign for parking for The Heritage Trail. That sounded promising. What led away from the parking lot was a gravelly path to an area that served as a dump site in one direction, and this in the other:

If it looks like that goes more or less straight up, that's because it more or less does. And it's rocky. Apparently the trail celebrates a heritage of pain and struggle. Or maybe not. A bit further on--and a bit further up--I came to this:

And the path, at this point, grew more... let's say subtle. Like "is this actually a trail? Have they just not gotten around to clearing away this fallen tree? Or marking any of it as a trail?"

I finally decided I was mistaken about this whole trail thing and went back the way I'd come. Which was, remarkably, worse going down than up. Wearing minimalist shoes, stones are not a lot of fun, particularly with the added force that comes from going downhill.

Anyway, I got back out to the road and followed it up to this sign:

I'm not sure why, but the bike has octagonal wheels... and the hiker has an octagonal head.

The path was just a dirt trail, but it was clear and well-marked. Lots of ups and downs, it kept me working pretty hard throughout my run. It's a very different experience than running on a  road, where I can kind of zone out, kind of get into a meditative state. Running on a trail like this, I had to remain alert throughout to avoid stepping on stones or tripping on roots, to track the trail's twists and turns.

It was also a rather pretty run, though that could be a bit of a liability too. Our campsite was very close to a beach, and the beach area was on a sort of bay. I found that this trail went out to the edge of the bay and then on along the lake, and I wanted to take a picture... but my phone was full. Even after I deleted voicemail messages and photos, even after I restarted the phone, it still insisted that it didn't have any memory left for photos. So I lost some time there trying to get the camera to cooperate.

It didn't.

I ran about 27 minutes, then kind of walked around futzing with the camera for five minutes or so, then continued my run long enough that I'm pretty sure I ran at least an hour all told. A good run to cap off a decent week before we left the next day for home.

Sunday: 5.64 miles in 57:27 (paved and flat)
Wednesday: ran 20 minutes, walked 10, ran 20 (paved, a bit hilly, with a jogging stroller)
Saturday: Ran approximately 60 minutes with one break of about 5 minutes about halfway through (mixed trail and pavement)