This is not how you taper for a half-marathon

ORN: 6 miles, 1.2 degrees, 47:xx. (Whole run, except for last .5 miles, was at a steady 7.5 mph pace.)

Not sure exactly how long the run was. I finished up and was walking through the cool-down when the gentleman next to me make a comment about the speed I was going when I did my customary, final sprint. I know that it is not "recommended", but I always try to give a final sprint at the end of a run - fun run, treadmill, race, you name it. I try to, if not empty the tank completely in that final sprint, at least ensure that I was holding something back for a reason.

Anyway, we chatted for several minutes - apparently, his son (who is just younger than I) was a wrestler in college, who went on to do triathalons and marathons, and has run Boston. The gentleman had also been to Chicago to watch his son run, and he talked about the course and the crowds.

At any rate, I forgot to actually check the timer on the treadmill when the cool-down was done, so, while I know that it was somewhere between 47:00 and 48:00 minutes, I'm not sure exactly how long it took. My best guess is about 47:30.

The run was longer than I had originally planned, but I wanted to do at least half (or thereabouts) of the half-marathon at that pace, just to see if I could. I was feeling it, a little, but I am reasonably confident that, if I were in a group that was all going to be coming in at about that time, I could hold on until the end - and still have a sprint toward the finish.

Now that the running stuff is out of the way, I have a little rant about UPS. Several months ago, a company announced that they were making a 25th anniversary edition of one of their books. It would be pricey, but also limited in quantity, and wiht some extra bells and whistles to thank everyone for their support over the years.

I looked at it, said "That's kind of neat," and paid the $10 to reserve a copy. Several months ago (early to mid-July), the company said that the books were on their way to the printers, and could everyone pony up the remainer, please. So, I paid the rest of the cash, and began waiting for my copy. (Yes, I knew it would be a while - the instant nature of the Internet has not completely ruined me.)

Things went a little screwy, and the company didn't get the copies until early August, right before a major convention. But, they took them with them, so that the important people could sign them, and then, once the convention ended, they would start shipping them to us.

Now is where the rant begins. My copy, according to UPS, is stuck at the "Billing Information Recieved" stage. This means that UPS has been told that they have a package, but it has not yet been dropped off nor picked up. It has not yet entered the system. Not a big deal, except that my package has been sitting at that stage since 8/23/06.

UPS, when I asked them about it, says talk to the company that is sending the package. The company that is sending the package says talk to UPS. And me, I'm starting to wonder why I bothered buying it in the first place. The company has offered to reroute the order back to them, and replace it with other product, but I do still want this. OTOH, people can now order the remainder of the print run from the company store, until all copies are gone, so if I were willing to pony up the cash for this again, I could still get one. Just not with the signatures and the particular number (since all of the limited print run was numbered, and pre-orders could reserve numbers) that I wanted.


Still updating, still running.

Got things to do tonight, so this is going to be short.

Saturday long run - 10.6 miles (supposedly, might have been only 10, but felt closer to 11, so 10.6 is probably correct), 1:34:05. Would have been faster, should have been faster, but I was running with someone else, and he faded a bit in the second half. I could have left him behind, but there was no one in the group ahead of me, and the closest people were several minutes behind us, so I helped encourage him along. Besides, I wasn't trying to kill myself - or even push very hard.

Monday - 4 miles, 1.2 degrees, 28:34. That's right, an average pace of better than 8 mph. My speedwork might actually be starting to pay off.

Today - 3.5 miles in 26:22, 1.2 degrees, a bit of walking, and then an additional .5 miles at a 10 mph pace. I just wanted to see how long I could hold it. Probably longer than .5 miles, but I am doing a little "mini-taper" before Monday's race.


Update (part II)

OKay, I have managed to get some running in this last week. Nothing really good, and far too sporadic to do anything more than (perhaps) maintain my level of fitness, but I'll be satisfied with that at the moment.

Last Friday: 6 miles, 1.2 degrees, 47:21. It's a bit faster than my "happy-fun-goal" race pace, mainly due to a hard push at the end. Gee, only 20.2 more miles to go at that pace.

Tuesday - 4 miles, 1.2 degrees, 29:43. Nice to know that, when the "Indoor Triathalon" rolls around again, I can manage 2 miles in a 15 minute period. With any luck, I might get it closer to 2.5 in that time, and I would love to do close to 3.

Today - 5 miles, 1.3 degrees, 37:23. All of these runs have been at a 7.8 mph pace, which is actually faster than the pace that I plan on running for the marathon. I might be overtraining a little, but I am trying to work on form and speed, so I'll accept it for now. The half-marathon that I have coming up on Labor Day will be the real test as to whether or not this is paying off.

Update (part I)

Well, the surgery went well, and my mom might be out of the hospital as early as tonight. Everything is looking better - not great (since she was just in the hospital, after all, and still has to recover from the operation, etc), but much better than a week ago.

I've actually been forbidden from making the drive down there this weekend - it is a ways to go (about 4 hours with no traffic, 6 if the construction backs things up, which it almost always does), and I think she just wants some peace and quiet for a few days.

Anyway, things are slowly getting back to normal - I even managed to get a run in today, though I apparently have lost some fitness over the last week. That's okay - I have lots of time before Chicago to make it up, and I'm still thinking that I might make my time goal. And if I don't, I still have a pretty good chance to PR.


No running for now

I haven't been running in several days, and I am not sure right now when I am going to go running again. It's not due to injury or lack of desire - my mom is in the hospital, and I spent the weekend driving down to see her and coming back. She has surgery scheduled tomorrow, and I am not going to go running until I know that she is out of surgery and all is well.

And right now, that's the only thing that's really on my mind.


Tired of this analogy

ORN: 4 miles, 1.2 degrees, 29:31. Trying to push the speed a little bit, but still recovering from yesterday's speed workout. Tomorrow should be an easy day as well, since Saturday's long run is prboably going to exceed 17 miles.

I'm getting really tired of this kind of analogy:

Writing is a lot like exercising. If you wanted to run the Boston marathon (and a novel is definitely the marathon run of fiction writing), you wouldn't simply enter yourself, show up on race day, and expect your natural talent to take you to the finish.

What's wrong with it? Well, for starter's, you can't simply "enter yourself" in the Boston Marathon - there are entry requirements, which is one of the reasons why Boston is so tough. I understand and appreciate that many people use Boston as some sort of default (when discussing marathons), but a better analogy would be Chicago or New York. The novel equivalent to running Boston is more like getting your novel published - almost anyone can actually write a novel (which is the rationale behind NaNoWriMo), but getting published is something special.


Stupid Blogger

Grr. . . . Blogspot has been having some issues lately, so it makes my erratic postings even more so.
ORN: 1/2 mile repeats, 1.2 degrees, 37:31 total time, 5 miles. (Not including the 1/2 mile of warm-up, at an 8:30 pace or so).

It had been some time since I did anything remotely resembling speedwork, and since there are several people in my Saturday running group that are discussing it, I finally managed to aquire enough guilt that I broke down and did a dedicated speedwork session.

I did an easy half mile, just to be sure that my knee was okay - I forced an easy day of "cross-training" (aka mowing the lawn) on myself yesterday, instead of running, and, since it wasn't bothering me at all after a half-mile, I gave myself the green light for some speedwork.

Now, the theory is that, by doing 800 meteres (880 yards), you can predict your marathon performance. This does assume, however, that you are not slacking off anywhere else in your training, so I take it with a grain of salt. Anyway, the concept is that, if you can manage to do 10 half-mile intervals at a speed of 4:00 each (with a fairly brief recovery time in between them), you are in good shape to do a marathon in 4 hours. With that theory in mind, I set the dreadmill for a jog rate of something easy (6.5 mph? 6.6? Something about there), and a running speed of 8.7 mph - which is a 6:53 mile. If I can get through 10 of those, then I ought to just barely break 3:30.

Not sure if it will happen, but I did manage 7 of them today. I probably could have done at least another one, but the son was such a pill in getting out of the house today that I was running short on time. Next week, I'll try for the whole 10 - if need be, I'll run them later in the day.

It's still going to be a while (a long while, possibly) before I qualify for Boston, but someday. . .


Long time, no update on the running

OKay, let's get some of these out of the way, shall we?

Thursday - no running. I turned it into a rest day instead.

Friday - same 5 mile course, 43:0x. Might have broken 43 again, but I had to slow down and dodge an enthusiastic and friendly dog as I was accelerating toward the finish point.

Saturday - long run. According to G-map pedometer, it was about 15.15 miles, and I finished it in 2:11:59. Not bad, considering that the first half was 65 minutes, so I almost managed even splits. I would have managed negative splits, but I failed the mental toughness test, and slowed down to walking speed at some of my water stops. I think I went out a little too fast, and it hurt me in the end. I didn't kill myself on this though - I stepped into the house, and fifteen minutes later was headed out the door to help go pick up a new computer for one of the sisters-in-law. (The upside is that I scored a free brick - I mean, laptop, which will be useful when NaNoWriMo comes around again in November. It's much easier, and less isolating, to pick up a laptop and move from room to room, than it is to sit here at the desk and grind out 2000 words per day. And this year, I am aiming for almost 3k words/day, on average.)

Sunday - no run, but I did enjoy a nice long drive from the northern suburbs back home.

Today - 3.5 miles, 27 minutes, 1.5 degrees. Back on the treadmill again, and my left knee is bugging me a bit. I'll take it easy this week - last week, I added an extra workout, went back up to 4-5 days of running, and upped both my long run and my weekly mileage. This week, I need to ease off a little, and let my body heal up from the added stress.


Ouch - I hate concrete

OKay, let's catch up on some running reports, shall we?

Monday - 4.5-5 miles, 45:30 or so. I ran this one with my sister-in-law, who has not been running much lately. I let her set the pace for most of it, though I tried to push her into picking it up a bit at the end. This was the first time in quite a while that I have run without water, and, the first time in an even longer period that I have done any significant running on concrete.

Tuesday morning - same route as previous night (so 4.5-5), only this time I took a water bottle, and it was much earlier in the day, so considerably cooler. This time, I managed it in 41:30 or so.

Tuesday night - same route again (it's an out, loop twice around a lake, and back, so it's marginally repetitive, but, compared to an hour on the treadmill, increadibly interesting and varied), this time in 45:08. I think I can cross bison burger, coffee and fries of the list as a good pre-race meal.

This morning: planned on doing a longer run, only got through 4.5-5 before bagging it and calling it good. (I can run the lake loop multiple times, and each one adds another 1.5 miles to the run.) I was out of water (carried some this morning), one knee was twinging a bit in an unpleasant way, and I was just getting blinded by sweat. So, I cut it short, and made up for it by buying a wicking cap to keep the sweat out of my eyes.

I'll do a longer run tomorrow morning, and then a short 3 or 4.5ish one tomorrow night. No doubles today or Friday though - I have plans for tonight, and I am not going to do a double the day before I go for my long slow run. It is nice to know that I can do them, though I had forgotten how hard concrete can be on the knees - and, due to traffic, most of my runs here have to be on sidewalks.


Riddle me this

ORN: None, rest day.

Okay, so today was a planned rest day, following yesterday's long run. Now, for some reason, it seems like I always do more exertion on my "rest" days than most of my running days, and today was no exception. Today, I mowed the yard and did some other random outside tasks, trying to finish up some of the various landscaping projects before the heat drops down to something tolerable. I mean, where's the challenge in doing these things when the temps are comfortable, right?

Anyway, my yardword today took about the same amount of time as yesterdays run, only I drank a lot less water, I wasn't wearing tech clothes, the temp was warmer, I had no Gu, and I was pushing the mower (with the bagger attachment, since the grass was pretty high). I probably did work harder today than yesterday - pity mowing a lot of lawns wouldn't get me through a marathon. Otherwise, I would just start up my own mowing service or something.

Oh, I'd like to clear up one slight misconception that people may have gotten from yesterday's post: I haven't really worried about getting through a half-marathon since I did my first 8 mile run in this training cycle. It is nice to know, however, that yesterday's run is more than a half - I didn't have to press myself, and, aside from the normal, post-long run stiffness this morning, there were no significant after-effects. So, while I was not worried about it [i]per se[/i], yesterday was a nice confirmation that, barring some unforseen circumstance, that race won't be a problem. Along the same lines, I don't have any real doubts about my ability to get through Chicago, though I am a little concerned about my time. But I will rest easier, when I get a couple of those 18-20 miles runs taken care of again.


Well, I'm ready for a half-marathon

ORN: 14 miles (I think), 2:05:09.

This morning was the long, slow run for the week, which I run with some other local runners. All of us in the group are middle or back of the pack runners; there are no elites (or even wannabes) among us. That does not mean, however, that we all run at the same speed. Under normal circumstances, we wind up in three or four little groups.

Not today though - due to normal summer circumstances (vacation, illness, visiting family, abduction by aliens, etc), there were only four of us meeting in the parking lot this morning. The wife of one of the runners had volunteered to meet us at various points along the route, which was a boon for the others (since none of them have water belts) and it meant that I could conserve my water supply for the second half of my run.

That's right - second half. Since I am doing a different program than the rest of the group (Intermediate I, as opposed to the Novice), and I am training for Chicago, instead of Detroit, I usually have a couple extra miles to tack on after the rest of the group finishes. Today, however, called for them to run 7 miles, and me to run 14. Ouch. And, as an added bonus, I had missed last weeks long run, and several others, due to illness.

Anyway, I decided that the wisest course was to run the first 7 with the others, both for the camraderie, and to avoid going out too quickly and having to really struggle through the run. The weather was nice, really nice, and it was fun, running with the others. C. was acting as our pacesetter, since she is the slowest of the group, and only one of us broke into his own group - and he wasn't going too much faster than the rest of us. We got through the 7 mile run in 1:10.43, which includes the time spent at the water stops, so just a little faster than 6 mph. Once we got back to the starting point, I took a Gu and some water, and said my good-byes (and congratulated C. on her run, which was a good pace for her) and sped up a bit.

The second lap was harder. I chose to walk when I took my water breaks, but since I plan on walking through at least a couple of the water stations in Chicago, it's not a big deal. The second lap I managed to run in 54:25, giving me a total run of 2:05:09. It wasn't race pace, and I know that I'll run faster when I do my half-marathon on Labor Day, but it's nice to know that I can still do a 14 mile run.


Someday my fitness will improve

ORN: 2.5 degrees, 5 miles, 39:03. Spiked both speed and inclination for the last quarter mile, mainly in the last tenth.

Somedays I feel like I am just treading water. Today was actually easier than yesterday, but I'm still working at regaining the fitness I lost over the past couple weeks - one week of slacking and one week of sickness just shot down some dreams of massive improvements in my times.

I'm still holding out some hope, though. I'll probably increase the speed and/or incline on the dreadmill in the next week or so, and see if I can make it through 5 or 6 miles at a shot then. If I keep doing that, then, so I hope, when race day comes, I can maintain a 7.3 or 7.5 mph pace for most of the race, since it would be "easy", at least by comparison.

I'm still planning on doing some doubles next week - maybe a fairly easy morning run of 4-5 miles at the current settings, and an easy evening run of 3-4 miles outside. I'll be sore, the workouts will be tougher in tandem than they would if I were only doing one per day, but hopefully I will see some improvement by doing them.

Or I'll just injure myself. We'll have to wait and see.


Maybe I shouldn't have checked. . .

ORN: 5 miles, 2.5 degrees, 39:39/39:40 (7.5 mph pace on the 'mill)

I had planned on doing a longer run at that pace, possibly even a full hour, but for various and sundry reasons, it got cut short. First, I got off to a late start - this is not due to a tantrum from the son, or problems getting ready, or any of the normal minutiae which can delay my getting to the Y by 15 minutes. No, I was getting everything packed up when the spigot in the sky opened up, and dropped a lakeful of water on us. In other words, it was raining - not just cats and dogs, but entire zoos.

As is the case with most thunderstorms, it was destined to be brief, but I really didn't feel like taking an entire extra set of clothes for both of us to the Y, since, even with an umbrella, we would have been soaked in the brief dash from the car to the entrance.

Second, I made the mistake last night of checking this out. See, even if you set your treadmill for 6.0 mph, you're not really running as hard as you would outside at the same pace. In addition to the lack of hills, snarky cyclists, annoying motorists, and vicious dogs, running on a dreadmill means no wind resistence. So, you have to add a slight incline in order to run with the same effort.

Well, it turns out that, while I was thinking that I was running 8:00 miles (7.5 mph), the reality is that I am running closer to 7:30 miles outside. Or, about 7.8-7.9 mph. I think the shock of that realization really through off today's run.

And, the last thing that did not do me any good - I went running last night, and even though I kept it fairly short, I could still feel it in my legs tonight. I might try and get in some doubles next week - I'll have some extra babysitting help around, and might try to add a couple short evening runs.

ANyway, in our post-Y adventures, we stopped by a local big-box mega store, in order to pick up milk and some other sundries. Let's see - it's the middle of the week, it's the middle of the day, so right now is a perfect time to reset all of the frozen section. Dangit - I really wanted some frozen veggies and the son wanted more "fruit waffles" (waffles with blueberry bits in them). Oh well - we can swing by there tomorrow, after I finish running.


Short speedwork session

ORN: 20 minutes, 2.5 degrees, 2.67 miles (or so, time mattered more than distance tonight)

Tonight was a quick and fairly easy speedwork session. I alternated between two minutes at an easy jogging pace (6.5 mph), and 2 minutes at a fairly hard running pace (9.5 mph). I did 20 minutes of that, and probably could have added at least another 8, but I wanted to get home to help my wife put the son to bed.

I wanted to go do a longer run this morning, but someone (who shall remain nameless) threw several large, noisy, long tantrums. This had the good effect of helping clean out some of the last vestiges of his congested nasal cavities, but really put me in a mood where I did not want to take him anywhere, lest I have to leave after 5 minutes when the next tantrum began.

I admit that I was also rather sore this morning - I think yesterday's run was too hard and too fast after missing almost a week. I'll make up what I lost, but it will take me some time. I'm not worried about finishing Chicago - I could probably run it as early as Saturday, if I had to - but I want to have a strong race and a good finish, even if I do not PR.

Only about a month to go before my next half-marathon race though, and that should serve as a good benchmark for my Chicago performance. It will almost be too late to make any major changes, but at least it could prepare me for disappointment, if I really blow the race on Labor Day.


First run in a while

ORN: 5 miles, something like 38:45, 2.5 degrees.

Pretty much any time you see "something like" in my ORN, it means only one thing: I hit the stupid STOP button again. Man, I hate that thing. Fortunately, I was just over a mile and a half into the run (1.59, to be precise), and so could recover and manage a moderately decent workout, but it still hurt my overall time and perception. I know I haven't run in several days (whole family has been sick - we're now all over it again, except for some snorkiness on the part of the little one), but I didn't think I had lost that much fitness.

I probably didn't - I was doing okay until I was forced to stop, and it did get better in the last mile or so, which is pretty much normal for that kind of problem.

Today was also play group day, and, with a heat index breaking 100 (easily), it was decided to meet in some nice air-conditioned locale: the mall. The little one got to run around and play for a couple hours, I got to talk to adults. Win-win all around. We even made a detour to the "Big Book Store" (which is the current nomenclature for the chain bookstore in our mall, just as the chain hardware store is "the ceiling fan store"), where I searched in vain for the release of the Animaniacs DVD. Out of stock - they can order it for me, but I can buy it for less on-line (even with shipping), and, since the employee told me that it was out of stock at the warehouse, I'd probably get it faster too.

I didn't need it today anyway - I have a stack of movies, still in shrinkwrap, that I keep meaning to watch, but haven't managed to do so yet. Maybe I should go watch one of them tonight.