Saturday, August 30, 2008

Where did that come from?

This morning was my 5K - the first 5K I've run in a few years - 4 years, I think. Based on my last short race, a 5-miler a few weeks ago, and my recent speedwork, I thought I'd run 21:45 or so, if I was making decent progress towards my marathon fitness goals.

I didn't run anywhere close to 21:45, at least not within the realm of a race this short. Years ago, when I raced exclusively on the roads, I hated 5Ks for two reasons. First, they hurt a lot, from the first step to the last. And secondly, they're predictable. I would usually know within 5-10 seconds before the race started how fast I would run. But, to get to that number, I'd have to hurt a lot.

Anyway, my plan today was to run 7:00 pace the whole way. There was a high school XC team there running today, and both the boys and the girls had apparently taken a vow to wear as little clothing as possible in the race. Then, they were doing drills before the race, trying to draw as much attention as possible to themselves. I was annoyed with them long before the race started. A friend of mine called them "Team Jogbra" as she rolled her eyes. When it was time to line up, they took the entire right side of the starting line, right up front. I had a least 5 rows of high schoolers in front of me, along with some rows of real runners, and I ended up beating at least half of the high school kids.

While this is a big race for Vermont, it's not really that big - a few hundred runners total. It is probably the biggest 5K in the state. The first mile started with a steep uphill and I deliberately held back, keeping my effort under control. As the grade lessened, I started to push a bit, and I started to pass people. After less than half a mile, we got a downhill for a bit, and I looked at my Forerunner. I was feeling good and I was moving at about 6:35 pace. Then, we had a sharp right hand turn, a slight up, and then a slight down. My Forerunner beeped to mark the first mile just before I hit the mile marker. The timer called out 6:40.

The second mile starts with a steep downhill, although it's very short - essentially the opposite of the opening uphill. From there, the course winds around a bit - through a parking lot, over a railroad track, over a creek on a foot bridge, and then a sharp left hand turn. From there, it's flat for a while. I was passing people through this stretch and my Forerunner showed I was still running close to 6:40 pace. My Forerunner beeped at 13:18 for the second mile and I hit the race marker at 13:20. At this point, I suddenly realized that I might run sub-21. But, I was still afraid that I was going to explode as well. I just didn't think I could run this fast.

Just past the 2-mile mark, we made a sharp U-turn on the dirt road where we were running. Now, I had less than a mile to go and shortly, I had a slight downgrade. I was really passing people through here, mostly the fading high school runners. With about 0.6 miles to go, we got back onto pavement, and I continued to pick off runners on this fast, flat stretch. Then, about 0.2 miles from the finish, we made a sharp right turn and we could see the finish line. I was gaining on another of the high school girls and I could hear someone catching me from behind.

I was pretty much at my limit and I decided not to kill myself as the person from behind pulled even and then passed me. In the last 20 yards or so, I caught up to the girl in front of me, but there wasn't any room to pass her without elbowing her, so I just followed her into the chute - 20:50.

My Forerunner registered 3.13 miles and said I ran a 6:40 pace, but an online calculator said it was 6:42 pace for 5K. Either way, I'm thrilled with the result. This is my fastest 5K since 2000, making it a post-40 PR, at age 46.

I said a few weeks ago that my fitness goal for my marathon, based on Daniels' VDOT levels was 47, starting from 44. My time today was at level 47.5. So, I've already hit the speed levels I wanted to hit. The time today was equivalent to a 3:19 marathon on the Daniels' charts. Of course, I still have to make sure I do the distance and marathon pace work, so I can actually run sub-3:30 in November.

Oh yeah, before any smart-aleck commenter can make a comment about the course being short, the course's USATF certification number is VT89001BT.

Friday, August 29, 2008

5K Tomorrow

Last night, I ran an easy 6.4 miles, going out (net downhill) at about a 9:20 pace and then coming back more slowly. I was a bit sore and tired from weights on Wednesday, but not too bad.

This morning, I did an upper body lifting workout. It is definitely time to change things up with my lifting workouts. I have adapted to the current program pretty well - especially the upper body day. I will do one more upper body day next week, and then start a new routine the following week. That will mean 2 weeks between lower body gym days - a nice break that should help my running.

Tomorrow is the Northfield Savings Bank 5K here in central VT. I've run this one a few times before, but not for a few years right now. My goal is 21:45 or better, and I hope to run right at a 7:00 pace for the entire race. The race is essentially a loop - with perhaps 30 yards between the start and finish. The start is uphill - a really steep, but short climb, followed by a gradual up, and then a gradual down for the balance of the first mile. The second mile starts with a short steep downhill. After that, the course is relatively flat and fast, although there is a mile or so of dirt road rather than pavement.

I haven't had a complete rest day in almost two weeks right now, but next weekend, I'll be in PA to go to the Penn State-Oregon State football game. So, I might push right through this weekend and into next week, knowing that I've got two rest days coming up at the end of next week. Or, I may take off Sunday or Monday if I'm beat from the race tomorrow.

My two key workouts for next week will be 8x800m on Tuesday and an easy 22-miler on Friday.

Two weeks from today and tomorrow, I'll be running 3 or 4 legs in the 200-mile Reach the Beach relay in New Hampshire.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Easy Runs

Last night, I did an easy 5 after work. Tonight, I'll do an easy 6 after work. Tomorrow, I'll do upper body lifting in the morning and then perhaps an easy 3 miler after work.

The easy days are my "taper" for a 5K on Saturday. I'm not too concerned about doing upper body lifting tomorrow morning with a race the next day. I did the same workout last Friday and I felt fine on the track the next day.

Yesterday, I was tired but not sore for my run. I wasn't sure how sore I'd get after setting two PRs in one day for a single-rep squat. Today, I'm a little bit sore, but not as bad as I was when I first returned to lifting after a break for our trip to CA earlier this summer.

I won't do lower body lifting again for two weeks. On Monday, I wrap up one lifting program, and I'll take a one-week break to let things heal up a bit before I start the next lifting routine. My next 8-week lifting routine has no squats, so I'll have to be content with my recent PR until I return to a program with squats after my marathon in November. That program has upper body work on Monday and Friday, and Wednesdays have snatch-grip deadlifts, step-ups, and dynamic lunges for legwork. I'll also have lots of dips and chin-ups on arm days - two lifts that give me fits at times.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Two great workouts

Last night was 8 miles, 5 at anticipated marathon pace. The weather was perfect - early autumn weather here in VT.

Each month from July through October, I'm dropping my MP by 5 seconds. In July, my MP runs were targeted to 8:00 pace, and this month is 7:55. But, I've been running "September" pace recently and I did again last night. I averaged 7:49 for 5 MP miles. This time, my pace was inconsistent, but I wasn't concerned. It was windy and the course was rolling, so I wasn't going to be consistent from mile to mile. But, overall, I felt strong and happy with the workout.

This morning was lower body lifting - 5x5s. I started with squats. I warmed up with reps at 45, 95, and 135 pounds. For my first set, I used 155 pounds. It felt way too easy. For the next two sets, I used 165. This still felt too easy. For my last two sets, I used 175 pounds, which is the highest weight I'd ever squatted. I did one set at 175 two weeks ago, but I had never attempted a higher weight. After I was done with the 5 sets, I decided to try one rep at 205. It was easier than I thought it would be. So, I went to two "big wheels" on each side of the bar - 225 pounds. This one was hard, but I nailed one more rep.

Clearly, I've been lifting too light on squats. This was also my first time ever squatting more than my bodyweight. I still suck as a lifter, but this is good progress.

After that, I did deadlifts at 205 pounds, Bulgarian Split Squats with 2x35# DBs and step-ups with the same DBs. I was about to start some core work when I remembered I had an 8:00 meeting, and I had to leave the gym. I'll do the core work later.

Tonight, I'll run an easy 5-6 miles. Hopefully, this morning's weight workout won't trash me for my 5K on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Everything that happens

Yesterday, I worked. Then I mowed the lawn. Then, I cooked dinner. I went to bed early. I slept in today (6:30). I took my car for an oil change this morning. I'm working again today. No workouts since yesterday morning.

Tonight, I'll run 8 miles, 5 at marathon pace. Then, I'll go to my son's soccer scrimmage. Cook dinner. Go to bed.

Such is life.

David Byrne and Brian Eno released an amazing album in 1981, titled My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. They recorded it during a period of time when Eno was producing some work for Talking Heads.

Last week, they released a new album (sorry, I'm old enough that I still use vinyl, buy vinyl and call music releases albums) called Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Right now, it's available only as a download. So far, I'm very impressed with the release and I'm hoping to see David Byrne in concert in Albany on November 5th.

The title song from the album has the following lines:

Everything that happens will happen today
& nothing has changed, but nothing’s the same
and ev’ry tomorrow could be yesterday
&and ev’rything that happens will happen today

That pretty much sums up my yesterday and today. No complaints. Life is good and keeps moving forward. Sometimes, I think we forget to appreciate the seemingly mundane and uneventful days that we're alive.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Before I address the "Yikes"-inducing moment, a couple comments.

Yesterday morning, I ran 4.6 miles with my wife, instead of the 8 total I was planning. My knees were kind of achy and creaky after Saturday's track workout. Saturday was the first time I'd run in racing flats in years, and I think that was part of the problem. Then, I didn't re-hydrate very well on Saturday, which didn't help matters. We went to my in-laws' camp (not as primitive as it might sound - it's a mini-home on a remote lake) in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, and spent the rest of the weekend there. My "re-hydration" on Saturday included some Bass Ale and Talisker Scotch - not the best way to re-hydrate.

This morning, I did upper body lifting - 5x5s again. I am really starting to feel that I'm adding some muscle mass by concentrating on heavier lifting recently. This is part of what leads to the Yikes moment.

After my workout, I stepped on the scale. I knew my weight had gone up since Western States, but I was well above 190 pounds this morning - a significant increase in a few short months. Part of that increase is muscle mass, but more than I want is fat.

In the past couple months, I've been drinking more alcohol than I had in the months leading up to Western States, and I'm sure that has helped to add a few pounds. Alcohol consumption can suppress testosterone levels and it can also cause the body to move away from fat-burning as a fuel source.

If I'm going to be successful in my marathon in November, I really need to get my weight back down, which means it's time to pay much better attention to what I'm eating and drinking.

The kids are back in school today; their summer vacation is over. I guess it's time for my summer dietary vacation to come to an end as well.

No running today, but I've got 5 MP miles planned for tomorrow. On Wednesday, I'll do lower body lifting and an easy run. Thursday will be an easy run. On Friday, I'll either do an easy run or I'll rest. On Saturday, I'll be racing a 5K. Next Sunday, I'm planning a moderately long hike on Vermont's Long Trail.

If I'm making appropriate progress towards my marathon goal, I should be able to run 21:45 or better this Saturday. That would be my fastest 5K since the fall of 2003, I believe. That fall, I won a small local 5K with a time just under 21 minutes. I did that a week or two after running Wasatch. In 2004, I won that race again, with a pathetic 21:51. Other than those races, I think I ran 20:37 in 2000 at the same race I'll run this weekend. I haven't gone sub-20 for a 5K since 1995 - the year that I ran my only sub-18 ever.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I think I found my consistency today. Apparently, a few things are needed:

1) Don't run the day before
2) Don't do lower body lifting the day before
3) Wear racing flats
4) Run at the track

I had a really good workout today - 8x800m. My plan was to be steady and nothing more. I did not want to fade at the end of the workout. According to Daniels' Running Formula, my time for 800s should be 3:28 based on my race 2+ weeks ago.

Here were my splits from today:


The first 3 felt really easy, the next couple were a more moderate effort, and then I worked the last 3 to avoid slowing down. In reality, I sped up. On the last repeat, my lap splits were 1:42/1:40.

Good day today. I'm hanging out at my in-laws' camp in the Northeast Kingdom of VT right now, doing absolutely nothing. I might go fishing. I might not. My wife and daughter were just watching a loon outside.

Tomorrow, I'll sleep in (no alarm clock) and then probably do an easy 8 miler - some of it with my wife.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Marathon Pace

Claire posted a question recently about how I was able to run consistent mile splits in a race a long time ago. I never answered her comment, because she and I started a different conversation, but last night's workout has me wondering the same thing.

In reality, I think that being able to run consistently paced miles on the road comes from one thing - doing lots and lots of miles on the road. I wish there was a better answer, but if there is, I don't know it.

The race I was talking about was in the fall of 1990. That was one of the 4 years in the past 23 where I've run 2400 or more miles in a year. Interestingly enough, those 4 years were done in pairs - 1990/1991 and 2003/2004. Anyway, the year that I ran those super-consistent miles in a 30K was the first year that I qualified for Boston. And, in the three months up to and including that 30K, my monthly mileages were 248, 272, and 267. This year, I've gone over 250 miles exactly once. Last year, I didn't do it at all. In looking back at my logs, I ran 252 miles this May, and the last time I ran over 250 miles in a month was June of 2004 - just before I ran Hardrock.

Consistency is something I seem to be lacking these days, at least in my pace and my miles. So, where am I going with this?

Well, last night was another MP workout. The plan was a 2-mile warm-up, 4 miles at 7:55 pace, and then a 2-mile cooldown. My mile splits were 7:56, 7:46, 7:53, and 7:35. In the last mile, I deliberately pushed a bit, so I'm not concerned about that split. But, my ability to pace myself evenly is just not there right now. Those splits might not look really inconsistent, but for a marathon, that's too much variation. If I wasn't wearing a Forerunner, I might be even less consistent.

In looking at my training miles since I started my Western States taper, my mileage base isn't really strong either. I've only run one 40+ mile week since the start of July, although I've had a few weeks just under 40 miles. I'm wondering if my current training plan is going to be enough to run a 3:30 marathon. I just don't know if I'm running enough miles to get to where I need to be. And, the only way for me to increase my miles right now and maintain my quality work would be to ditch my lifting. I don't want to do that, but I also don't want to fail at my marathon.

I have some thinking to do, I guess. I still have about 8-9 weeks of quality training time before my marathon. I may need to focus more on increasing my running miles rather than lifting 2x-3x per week.

Speaking of lifting, I did an upper body workout this morning and felt OK. I did the same workout as Monday but didn't increase any weights from Monday.

Because last night's workout felt OK from a leg perspective, I think I'm going to do Yasso 800s tomorrow - 8 of them. Then, I'll do a MP workout on Tuesday and then take it easy for a couple days into a 5K next weekend. I want to use that 5K as a test to see if I'm making progress on the Daniels' VDOT chart.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Easy run

Last night, I was tired from lifting hard in the morning. I ran just over 5.5 miles at just under a 10 pace. Pretty boring.

Then, it was time to go see the motivational speaker. I think the guy used every sports cliche in the English language except the old "There is no 'I' in team".

It was difficult to listen to a guy talking so much about conditioning and effort during practice when he was so clearly overweight and out of shape. He also spent a lot of time talking about education, but he clearly never learned anything about English grammar. My son and I agree that it was a big waste of time. For a "required" event, it was very disappointing.

I'm a little bit sore today in my glutes - pretty common after a leg day in the gym. I'm planning some marathon pace miles tonight, and hopefully my legs will feel OK. If I'm still beat from last weekend and yesterday's lifting, I'll simply back off.

Tomorrow, I'm planning to lift (upper body) in the morning and then maybe do an easy run with the dogs at night. I still haven't decided what to do on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hopefully I'm over that

I won't delete yesterday's post, because that was truly how I felt when I wrote it. Today, I'm feeling a lot better and I started the day with a great workout - leg day at the gym. I did squats, deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats and step-ups - 5x5 of each with 90 seconds rest, the last two lifts in a superset. Then, 3x15 of reverse crunches. Ninety seconds seems like too much rest at first, but as each lift progresses, the 90 seconds seemed to get shorter and shorter, as I tried to catch my breath from the previous set.

Tonight, my son's soccer team is required to attend a speech by some sort of motivational speaker. One parent is "required" to attend with the child. I have no idea what would happen if I refused, since I'm not in school anymore myself. They can't suspend me, but I don't want to get my son in trouble either. I'll get in an easy 5 miler after work and then head over to get motivated.

I have to decide what to do for a workout this Saturday. My original thought when I put my marathon schedule together is that last Saturday would be more like a long run than a race in how I approached it and how I'd recover. But, I ran a bit longer than I expected and I ran each leg hard. Because of that, I skipped my repeat 800s on Tuesday and I don't think I'm going to make them up this week. I ran easy yesterday and I'll run easy today. Tomorrow, I'll probably do 8 with 4 MP miles.

Currently, my schedule for Saturday shows 12 with 4 MP miles. But, my mid-week training will be easier than originally scheduled, so I'll probably make Saturday harder. The first option is to simply run long - 22 or so. I have a 5K the next weekend, so I could use a long run. The second option is to still do a marathon pace workout, but maybe do 16 total miles with 8 MP miles. I could do the 8 x 800 workout that I skipped yesterday. Or, I could say that last Saturday was 19.5 miles of racing and I need recovery time, so I should stick with the original workout. I'll probably decide after I run tomorrow night or Friday morning.

I have another tough decision to make this week. College football season is about to start and I bought one of those HD televisions since last season. I haven't had TV stations at my house since 7+ years ago, but I really like watching college football. Watching it in Hi-def could be even better. So, do I want to respond to one of those millions of special offers I get for a satellite dish? I could always do like my friend Jim does and turn it off when football season is over.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Sometimes, I feel like just giving up on this running stuff. I work my a** off for mediocre results. Forty-thousand miles run in 23 years and I still weigh 20 pounds more than I'd like to weigh. I'm getting older, slower, and more and more resigned to the fact that I'll never be close to lean, never really be fast, I may never run sub-24 for 100 miles, and despite my lifting of the last 18 months, I'll never be strong.

Yes, I'm in way better shape than the average American. Yeah, I can do lots of things that most people never would or could do.

But, if I want to perform well, I have to live a very spartan and boring life. I have to stop drinking alcohol, I need to live on a very boring diet, and I need to sleep a lot. Sometimes, I think the challenges are a good thing. I sometimes think that I appreciate my occasional accomplishments more because I have to work so hard for them.

And other times, like today, I'm just sick of fighting the fight. I feel like I'm a mediocre runner, a mediocre skier, and my best days are behind me. And that feels depressing.

This morning, I was planning a ten miler. It was pouring when the alarm went off and I slept a bit longer. I finally got out the door and ran 5.7 soggy miles. I'm still beat from Saturday.

Last night, I did upper body lifts. I increased the weights on two of my six lifts, and it was a good workout.

After my run this morning, I stepped on a scale. Maybe that's what put me in this sour mood. All this work, and I still gain weight.

Maybe I'll delete this post later if I'm in a better mood.

Monday, August 18, 2008

100 (not) on 100 Relay - Race Report

First, let's introduce the characters:

The Slackers
Jeff - the alleged team captain. Faked a cardiac health event when the stress of being team captain became too much.
Nate - Our team ringer. Had a sudden death in the family that prevented him from running with us.
Kristin - Paid an airline extra money to delay her flight home the night before the race. This allowed her to sleep while the rest of us were running.

The Runners
Tania - Last year's team captain, this year's replacement team captain, and the designated team whiner.
Greg - Our other returning runner - a strong, steady ultrarunner. Also, a Nervous Nellie in the front passenger seat of any vehicle.
Jack - Kristin's boyfriend. Agreed to be an alternate just because of Kristin. Pressed into duty at the last minute and then had to run with strangers while his sweetie was somewhere else. Had never run more than 10.5 miles in a day before.
Tamar - A last minute addition to the team. Tamar had paced 30 miles at the VT100. She's a steady runner who responded well to the pressure of the day. She wasn't our fastest runner, but she gave every leg all she had.
Damon - It's my blog and I can say whatever I want to about myself. Maybe I should disable comments so the rest of the team doesn't call me out.

Tania called me at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning to tell me about late team changes that had occurred on Friday night. We were down to 5 runners for a 6-person relay, we had lost our one truly fast runner and two solid runners, and they'd been replaced by two willing and able runners, who also happened to be slower than the people they'd replaced. But, we were glad for their willingness to help out near-strangers for an all-day event.

As I drove to our team meeting point, I went over the legs in my head. I decided that the three returning team members should each take 4 legs and the two new runners should stay at 3 legs each. I determined that leg 3 would be toughest and leg 1 would be second toughest. Leg 2 was longer than leg 1 overall, but with less difficulty. Even though I wasn't the captain, I decided our team order should be Tania, Greg, Damon, Jack, Tamar. Everybody seemed to agree as we drove to the race site.

Then, we had to meet with race management. At first, they thought we were joking as we ran through the litany of excuses that had created our new rag-tag team. When they realized we were serious, the RD sat down with me to do some math. It looked like we would be on the course for about 90 minutes after the time they wanted the last runners off the course. But, he was cool, and simply said we should skip a leg somewhere, be safe, have fun, and that we just wouldn't be eligible for prizes. That sounded great to me - we wouldn't get yanked off the course, we were welcome to compete, and the pressure was gone.

Since we were going to skip at least one leg, I suggested that Tania and I swap positions. Our first runner was guaranteed to run 4 legs and I knew Tania had been fighting some shin splints, so dropping her to a max of 3 made sense.

This left me with about 5 minutes to get ready for an 8:00 start. I just made it, mostly ignoring the last-minute instructions for our team and our leg. We'd done it before and I was trying to get ready to run.

Leg 1
This was a steep downhill on a trail, followed by a sharp turn, a steep uphill on trail, and then a finish on a dirt road. Because of lots of recent rain, they'd changed this leg from 2.5 miles to only 1.8 miles. I was shocked when I finished so soon, and I screwed up the bracelet handoff to Greg. The 18 legs were rated like ski runs - green circles, blue squares, single black diamonds and double black diamonds. This leg was the only green circle. Thirteen of the 18 legs were squares or single blacks.

Leg 2
Greg started out with a long downhill and fell in with another runner. With the staggered starts and the limited number of teams (80), there weren't many options to run with people. Greg ran his typical solid ultra-paced leg to the second transition. He's not fast, he's not slow, he's just steady. Greg and his John Deere hat just motor down the road relentlessly.

Leg 3
This was the first of 3 legs of 7 miles or more. It was mostly downhill and Tania ran sub-8s through Waterbury Center and Waterbury, to the elementary school for the next exchange. Ex-captain "Slacker Jeff" showed up here to wish us well, but resisted all of our attempts to make him run or drive for us. Tamar used a marker to write "Doing it 4 Jeff" on the back of our van. Jeff decided to embellish the comment with a picture of his heart. He needs to go to art school, because it looked like a pair of testicles. We drove the rest of the race with a rendering of Jeff's heart/testicles on the van. Tamar and Tania insisted there really isn't a difference for men anyway.

Leg 4
Jack took up running because Kristin runs. He's been running less than a year. His first leg was 4.85 miles, but all but the last mile was rolling and mostly uphill. By the time he finished, he hated us all and wanted to go home to find Kristin. But, there was no cell phone coverage, so he couldn't contact her. He was stuck with us: no way out.

Leg 5
I ran this one last year - about 5 miles, with some downhill to start and then level to slightly uphill. Tamar had advertised herself as a 12 minute miler and that's what she did - all day long and with a smile on her face. She handed off to me at the Waitsfield Elementary School.

Leg 6
A double-black diamond - almost all uphill for 5.8 miles. Slacker Jeff ran this one last year and we'd joked that morning that this leg may have been the genesis of his recent cardiac problems. I did think my heart might explode, but I felt strong. I passed three runners on the climb and ran 49:00. My fastest mile was 7:42 and my slowest was 9:23. I averaged 8:28 pace on a climb of 800 or so feet. I was happy but spent.

Leg 7
This one was a repeat leg for Greg. He'd run it last year and done well. It's downhill for quite a while and then gradually up the last couple miles. The John Deere hat must be some magical source of constant energy. We're thinking that they may be mandatory parts of a team uniform next year. Greg was smiling even as he pushed to his uphill finish. As he was finishing, there was thunder in the air.

Leg 8
I really want to run this leg sometime. Nate ran it last year and Tania ran it this year. But, because of the thunder, I was glad it wasn't me this time. This is the most beautiful leg of the run - 7 miles with a 2-mile climb and a 5-mile gradual descent. The storms held off. Tania averaged sub-8 pace over the 7 miles. Her shins were very sore by the time she finished this second downhill leg. She would smile sometimes and the next thing you know, she'd be whining about her legs. At this point, someone mentioned that whenever someone starts a joke, "Someone always takes it a step too far." Clearly, we were gelling as a team.

Leg 9
This was a short and fast leg, and Jack took off quickly, running well. We met him about halfway. But, halfway through the leg, it appeared that an animal jumped on his back and his paced suddenly slowed. He seemed to be hating life when he finished. The cell phone still wouldn't work. He couldn't contact Kristin to yell at her for getting him into this mess. He was shot and his next leg was a steep 4.5 ascent on the access road to Killington Ski area. Jack was not happy. We were informed that we were only 30 minutes behind our anticipated pace for the day, so we were fine for the moment. That was a lie. We'd used more than half of our allotted time of 14.5 hours to go half of the race. We still had 3 of the double-black diamond legs to go.

Leg 10
Tamar - Miss Cheerful - took off running this leg in some serious midday heat. The next few legs were more exposed to the sun, but Tamar never complained. Twelve minutes miles - forever. We stopped for some gas and food in Rochester, VT while Tamar was running. I mused that I could simply run home in a dozen miles from this point rather than enduring the remaining race torture.

Leg 11
This is the longest leg of the relay at 7.3 miles. I'd run it last year and it's exposed to the sun a lot. It's got a few rolling hills, but it's mostly flat. Just long. I made it my goal to "just" run 8s. After two miles, I was at 7:30 pace, but I had to back off. The team was nice enough to stop to offer me water 3 times. I finished in 7:53 pace, but it had been work. I had just missed catching up to a runner. We were now locked in a 3-way battle for last place on the course.

Leg 12
This was Greg's easiest leg of the day - about 5 miles, mostly flat, and he caught one runner. We weren't last. We did get into cell phone range, which suddenly had everyone on the team using their cell phone. I wanted to throw every phone into the local river, but instead, I went into the general store in Pittsfield for some beer to drink after my next stage. Jack and I had agreed that I'd run the 14th stage for him - the ascent up Killington resort and he'd take a later easier stage. He was already about to his lifetime daily mileage record. We were now in a rough stretch. Leg 11 had been rated a double-black diamond, and legs 13 and 14 were also double blacks.

Leg 13
When Tania took off on this tough uphill 10K, she knew it would be her last leg. We weren't going to be able to do all 18 legs, so she wouldn't have to run again. But, this leg would take her to 20 miles for the day and she was tired. She took off in next-to-last place in the race. The team in front of her had a very good runner who put a lot of time on her. Tania pushed as hard as she could, but the guy behind her managed to get past. We were in last place. We sucked. Near the end of Tania's leg, I asked the teammates of the runner who'd just started up Killington how far ahead he was. He had well over 2 minutes on me. And he was skinny. Dangit!

Leg 14
My 3rd double-black of the day. I was beat. But, I wanted us out of last place. For the first 2.5 miles, I could see the other guy, but the gap seemed to stay constant. I turned down water from my team, focusing just on the run. Around the 2.5 mile mark, a truck almost hit me. The driver looked at me like I'd done something wrong. It made me furious; I had the right of way. I screamed one bad word at the top of my lungs at him. I wanted him to come back so I could kick his @ss. Clearly, I was hypoxic. Suddenly, I noticed that the guy in front was getting closer. I've been at this running game for 23 years and the only real strength I have is a killer instinct. If someone shows a weakness, I'll take advantage. I started pushing harder. When I got about 30-40 yards back, I slowed for a bit. I wanted to get my breathing under control, so that when I passed him, he wouldn't know I was working. It worked beautifully. I caught him at the 4-mile mark, hardly breathing hard. He told me his tank was empty. I said "Good job" and then I ditched him. We had a slight descent before a final climb and my Forerunner says I hit a sub-6 pace for a bit. I handed off to Tamar and managed to avoid throwing up. My pace had been 8:40 and I'd climbed over 800 feet.

Leg 15
This one is cruel. It's allegedly a huge downhill leg, but the first half has more ups than downs. Then, the downs are quad-bustingly steep. It was now dark. We stopped halfway through the leg to offer some water to Tamar. I drank a beer and it tasted really good. Tamar's cell phone was in range of something and it kept vibrating and then beeping. At first, it only bothered me. Then, it started to get on other peoples' nerves. I threatened to find it and throw it into the forest. Tania found it first and turned it off. Thankfully. A car went past us, up the hill. Then, it backed up. The driver asked "Did we need any help". I explained that we were in a race and just waiting for our runner. From behind me, Jack's voice deadpanned "We aren't winning." I'm sure it meant nothing to the driver but we were all in hysterics. We were clearly a team now.

Legs 16 and 17
To be off the course by 10:30, Greg and Jack had determined we would have to skip two legs. We had planned to skip the 10K leg 16, but Greg opted out of running leg 17 as well, so we would get to the finish before they ran out of food and beer. So, we drove both of these legs. The only excitement was Tania swerving a bit. Greg was in the passenger seat. Accusations started flying about Tania driving in the dirt, trying to kill us, yes you did, no I didn't, somebody always takes things a bit too far, etc. We joked that these two legs were our Nate-by-proxy legs, since we were finally moving fast for the first time all day.

Leg 18
We sort of snuck into the final handoff zone. I explained to the race marshalls what we were doing and they recorded our skipped legs,so we would not get an official finish. Jack took off. Suddenly, there were fireworks. We simply assumed they were for our team, in honor of us starting the last leg. Tamar was getting cell phone calls every minute from her son, reporting on the women's Olympic marathon. The reports were somewhat sketchy, but they kept coming. Jack repeatedly turned down offers of water as he powered to the finish. The long rest had done him good.

Just under 14 hours after we'd started, Jack crossed the finish line, with the rest of us trying to keep up. We'd done about 87 miles or so in under 14 hours. It was an official DNF, but a lot of fun. We had some food, a beer, and then we needed to head home. It was late and everyone was tired.

The Drive
Greg was riding shotgun. He didn't approve of Tania's driving. Tania was tired. She turned the wheel over to Tamar. Tamar has apparently raced mini-vans in the past. Greg appealed for Tania to return to the driver's seat. It was too late; Tania was asleep. Jack was asleep. The trip was a blur - fog, taillights, wormhole effects as our speed increased, etc.

When I finally got home after 1:00 a.m., I couldn't fall asleep. I ended up napping a lot of the day on Sunday. I took a rest day on Sunday and slept in this morning, but I'm going to lift (legs) tonight. I pushed hard for 19.5 total miles and I'm happy with my pace and effort. I will return to running tomorrow.

We'll see which of our team members are willing to return next year. I threatened to send out a training manual. Others threatened to use it as toilet paper. We've decided to ban business trips the week before the race. All illnesses and deaths in the family are similarly banned. With new rules in place, Captain Tania may have a hard time filling out a roster next year. But, I'm stupid enough to sign up again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Marathon Pace Miles

Yesterday's workout was 3 MP pace miles as part of a six-miler. In the coming weeks, my Thursday MP workouts will get longer and longer as the number of MP miles increases. But, with a tough race planned for Saturday, this week had to be relatively short. My target pace was 7:55. I ran 7:54, 7:54, and 7:46. I wish I could say that I ran consistently, but I just couldn't seem to lock into a steady pace. Sometimes, I was running 7:15 pace and other times, 8:20 or so. It averaged out to the right pace, but it wasn't the way I wanted to run it.

By the middle of October, I hope to be doing these runs at 7:45 pace and really be consistent.

Many years ago, when I was younger and skinnier and faster, I took my first serious attempt at a sub-3 marathon. In the marathon itself, I faded late to a 3:02:xx, but a key training run for me was a 30K race in Clarksburg, CA. That race was part of our local USATF Grand Prix series, and I raced for a club based in Silicon Valley. Clarksburg is a fairly flat race, yet it can be deceivingly tough. It's held in CA's Central Valley, south of Sacramento, and the course is very exposed to sun and wind.

Many people use it as part of their training for the California International Marathon (CIM), held in December each year. Many members of our running club have found over the years that whatever pace you can average at Clarksburg is about what you can expect at CIM.

So, a friend of mine and I decided to run together and try to run 6:52 miles, the pace needed for a 3-hour marathon. This was well before Garmin Forerunners, so all we had were our Timex Ironman watches and mile markers along the course. Within 2 miles, Jim and I got into a good rhythm. We were with another member of our running club, and we started ticking off 6:48 miles. Not 6:49s. Not 6:47s. We did four consecutive 6:48s. After the fourth time I hit my split button and said "6:48" to Jim, our friend Don called us "a couple of robots" and he took off ahead of us.

Our miles did start to drift a bit, but we stayed very close to our target pace for the entire run. We even caught and passed Don in the last 10K.

That kind of consistency is what it takes to run a strong marathon. That kind of consistency is something I need to find in the next couple months.

Tomorrow is the 100 on 100 relay here in Vermont. I'm scheduled to run the 6th leg for our team. My first leg is by far the toughest - 5.8 miles with a very long climb followed by one brief descent and then another long climb. The second leg is a flat and fast 5.3 miler that goes through Pittsfield, the home of a handful of ultras and snowshoe races. My third leg is mostly flat and fast, although there is an ascent into the parking area of Okemo ski resort at the end. My last leg will definitely be run in the dark.

Last year, I ran leg 5, which is considered the second toughest of the 6 legs. This year, I've got a much easier assignment. We kept our strongest runner (a 2:46 marathoner who won the race I ran last Thursday) on the second leg, and then shuffled everyone else to a new leg this year. Due to a last-minute health issue with our team captain, we had to change one member of the team. We'll really miss having Jeff there, but everyone is glad that his health scare was less serious than it could have been.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Upper body vs. lower body lifting and soreness

I'm somewhat baffled by one phenomenon of lifting. I've been running for 23+ years. Because of that, my lower body is way stronger than my upper body. My pathetic bench press numbers yesterday, which I won't even admit to (I did make 3 digits in weight, but not by a lot), are proof to me that my upper body just isn't that strong.

If I do an upper body lifting day, I will be tired the next day. But, I'm rarely sore. But, when I do a lower body day, my glutes and hamstrings always hurt like h*ll the next day. Perhaps my lower body is unbalanced from years of running, and I am strong enough to complete some lifts that really stress some muscles I don't use much for running. If that happened, perhaps those non-running muscles end up really beat up from lower body days.

But, why don't upper body days make me sore? On every lift yesterday, I was at the max of what I could handle. I tried more weight on every lift than I eventually did, and I was close to failure on almost every set. My goal is to end each set so that I couldn't do one more rep. I was pretty much there yesterday. Yet, I'm tired rather than sore. Oh well. It's probably only interesting to me.

I ran an easy 6 last night. Tonight I'll do six more, with 1.5 easy, 3.0 at anticipated marathon pace (7:55 for tonight), and the a 1.5 mile cooldown. My son has a soccer scrimmage close to where I'm working today (I'm at my "other" job today, an hour from home), so I'll run from there and then watch part of the scrimmage.

My son is a bit disappointed right now. After working hard all spring and summer, he's been revisited by some chondromalacia patella problems he had last soccer season and occasionally during track season. Tonight, we're going to get him some new higher-quality soccer cleats and probably some supportive insoles for them. If that doesn't help, we might send him to the podiatrist who made my orthotics for an evaluation of his foot mechanics. He had to skip half of soccer practice yesterday and simply ice his aching knees. After Monday, he was feeling pretty upbeat, after seeing that he was in better shape than most of the guys on the team. Now, he's hurting and disappointed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

5x5 Upper Body Weights

This morning, I did one of my favorite workouts in my current routine. Monday, I had a crappy lifting day when it was legs day, but today felt redemptive.

Today was upper body, with low reps, long rests, and higher than normal weights. On all six lifts, I moved up at least one weight from where I've been. For inclince DB presses, I added 5# per DB. On cable rows, I added 20 total pounds. For shoulder DB presses, I added 5# per DB. For wide-grip lat pulldowns, I slid the pin down one bar. For bench presses, I added 20#. For high pulls, I added 10#.

Regretfully, this is the last 5x5 upper body day in this series. I have five more workouts in the next 2 weeks, and then I'm done with this series and I move on to the next. In my next series, I do all kinds of set variations - some days are 6x3 and other days are 2x25, with all kinds of variations in between. Two of the three days in that series are upper body and only day is lower body - with no squats at all. It will be pretty weird to go 8 weeks without squats.

Tonight, I'll do an easy 6 miler if the weather stays nice. Then, I should mow the giant hay field that used to be my lawn.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

1/2 mile repeats

Yesterday, I thought a bit about my poor lifting workout in the morning. I posted a question on a lifting and nutrition forum where I have a mini training log. I was thinking the workout went so poorly that maybe I should repeat it rather than move on to my next weight workout tomorrow morning.

The advice that I got in return basically said to move on, don't worry about it, and realize my body was probably tired from a tough previous week. That made a lot of sense, so I took that advice one step further and skipped my easy run last night.

This morning, I had 7 by 1/2 mile repeats on the schedule and this was a way more important workout than last night's easy run. I used to always do these workouts on the track, but lately, I've been doing them on the roads more. I have lots of good reasons for switching to the roads:

I have to drive 20+ miles each way to get to a track, which is expensive right now.

I also have a Forerunner, which allows me to hit distances on the road pretty accurately.

I find that my legs are less likely to be sore if I run on the roads, rather than doing lots of miles, turning in the same direction the entire time, on the track.

Add in lots of recent evening thunderstorms and my son having soccer practice in the evenings, and doing the workout on the road in the morning is really the only option I had left.

To be honest, I've never liked doing speedwork in the mornings. I think I perform better in the evenings for faster runs, but I ended up happy with this morning's workout. According to Daniels' Running Formula (DRF from now on), I should be doing Interval (I) work at 1:44/400 meters, or about 3:29 per half mile. On the track a couple weeks ago, I tried to average in the low 3:20s and it was hard and beat me up. Today, I backed off to the 3:30 range per half mile, and had a really solid workout. My median time was 3:28 per half mile, although my average was a bit higher. I ran on a rolling course and one repeat managed to hit 2 of the 4 significant grades on the loop, so one repeat (#3) was pretty slow.

According to the Yasso 800 "rules", I'd like to be down to 3:20 per 800 meters by the end of October. That corresponds pretty well with the DRF VDOT level of 47, which is my target as well. If I have races and speed work that hit my goals, I'll go into my marathon comfortable with my chances of running sub-3:30 pretty easily.

Tomorrow, I'll do upper body lifting - 5x5 with high (for me) weights. I'll do an easy hour run tomorrow night. On Thursday, I'll do a 6-mile run with 3MP miles. I'll rest on Friday, with the 100 on 100 relay scheduled for Saturday.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weights this morning, running tonight, if the weather cooperates

The thunderstorms just keep on coming. Yesterday afternoon, we had a storm that just seemed to sit over the house for a while. It was hailing for a while and we had a number of close lightning strikes.

Tonight, my son starts his high school soccer practice - at 5:30 p.m. My plan is to drop him off at practice and run while he's practicing. I'll run loops near the school so I can get to the car and to my son quickly if practice gets stormed out.

I lifted this morning - leg day, 3x15s with short rest. My legs were still tired from Saturday and the quality of my workout was disappointing. I have six more workouts left in my current phase, and then I move on to a different series. That one is a MWF schedule, with mostly upper body stuff on Monday and Friday, and deadlifts on Wednesday along with some other leg work. That program will last 8 weeks and it contains no squats at all. It seems completely wrong to skip squats for 8 weeks, but I'll follow the program.

Tomorrow night, we are likely to get hit by storms again and I have an appointment after work, so I have to run my Yasso 800s in the morning. I'll do them with my Forerunner rather than going to the local track. I tend to run them more slowly this way, but it's still a solid workout. According to Daniels' Running Formula, I'm running my 800s a bit faster than I should be anyway. I've been running them in the low 3:20s and my numbers from the book indicate I should be running 3:28s.

I'm planning the 800s tomorrow (7 of them) and then 3 marathon pace miles as part of a 6-7 miler on Thursday. I'll then take a rest day on Friday so I'll be ready to race my relay legs on Saturday.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

20 miler

I was pretty sure that 20 miles yesterday would be tough, especially after racing on Thursday night, and I was right. It didn't rain at all yesterday, which was pretty amazing, but when the sun was out, it felt hot and steamy. I drank 4 bottles of water during my run and still felt really dehydrated by the time I was done. In the first few hours after my run, I drank at least a gallon of water, trying to rehydrate.

I didn't push the pace at all, just wanting to cover the distance. According to the Daniels' Running Formula book, I should be doing my long runs close to a 9:00 pace right now, but I was way slower than that yesterday. I hovered around a 10:00 pace for the first 15 miles and then slowed down for the last 5. I looked at my running log and I hadn't really run 20 miles since Memorial Day weekend. I've done 20 miles a couple times since then, but always on trails and always mixing in walking a lot. So, just getting in the distance on the roads was a good thing. My marathon is 14 weeks from today.

Last night, my wife and I had friends over for dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary, which was actually last Saturday. We had originally planned the dinner for last weekend, but when the VT100 race director died unexpectedly, we spent last Saturday at his memorial service - a sad way to "celebrate" our anniversary.

We drank some nice wines last night, including two great California Cabs from 1987 - Mondavi Reserve and Montelena Reserve. We finished dinner with a sparkling ice wine from Canada - a tasty but expensive wine that I wish I could afford to drink more often.

This past week was my best training week in quite a while. I ran 5 days, with a tempo day, a race, and a long run. I lifted 3 times and I had one cross-training session. I need more weeks like this one if I'm going to be successful at my marathon in November.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Berlin Pond 5-Miler - Race Report

I looked at the historical results from this race and found out that I ran it in 2005. I had run 93 miles at Western States that year in late June, and I then paced 30 or so miles at the Vermont 100 in late July. I ran 39:09 in this race in 2005.

This year, I am in much better shape than 3 years ago and I also didn't trash my legs with a summertime (almost) 100 miler. But, like many ultra runners, I have no speed. I had estimated that on a good day, on a flat, fast course, I could run 36 minutes for 5 miles. But, this is a hilly course on dirt roads, I had lifted hard (legs) the day before, blah, blah, blah. My 5-mile PR is 30:02, run in CA in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

The truth is, I'm in better shape than I thought or I'm a sandbagger. I'm not sure which.

On the way to the race, I was in a minor panic because I got caught in a traffic jam. We never have traffic jams in VT, but I got to the race site only 20 minutes before the start. I registered quickly, changed clothes, and then ran the seven-tenths of a mile to the start as my warm-up. I was surprised to see a number of local ultra runners at the race, although four of them, including the RD, were volunteering rather than running.

The race starts with about 1/3 of a mile that is flat, and from there, it's hilly and mostly uphill to the 2-mile mark. I started quickly and after a few hundred yards, looked at my Forerunner and saw I was running 6:45 pace. I immediately backed off a bit. My first mile time was 7:15 for a net uphill mile. I didn't feel like I'd overextended myself, so I was happy with that mile.

The second mile is tougher than the first and I worked, but I remained somewhat cautious. I was playing leapfrog with some other runners who were running a fairly steady pace. I was trying to focus on a steady effort rather than pace. My second mile was 7:37.

Right after the 2-mile mark, the course heads steeply downhill and I started to make up some time here. I wasn't passing any runners, because everyone else took advantage of the descent as well. After the 2.5 mile mark, we started a very gradual but sustained uphill grade for a bit. It really isn't steep, but it does go up a bit. My third mile time was 7:05.

Just past the 3-mile mark, a runner caught up to me. I didn't want to let her pass me, and then I saw who it was. Donna Smyers is a local legend - one of the best Ironman-distance triathletes in Vermont. She has finished in the top 10 at Kona and still does well in her age group year after year. She was just too strong and gradually pulled away from me. My fourth mile was 7:19.

Not far into the 5th mile, the runner in front of me glanced back. I love when other runners do that; it tells me that they're scared. So, I started to focus on reeling in the blue shirt in front of me. At the same time, I could hear two runners closing on me from behind. At about the 4.5 mile mark, a woman pulled even with me and I could tell the other runner behind me was close. It was decision time. I knew by now that I was going to run sub-37, which was my goal for the race. But, I could coast to a sub-37, or I could see if I had any kick left, and try to pass the blue shirt and hold off the other two runners.

About a quarter mile from the finish, there is a sharp left-hand turn. I decided that if I could catch blue shirt and pass him on the left, I'd gain a couple steps on the left-hand turn. So, I went. I caught him just before the turn and had just enough room to squeeze by him on the left. At the turn, I pushed hard to pull away from him and opened a gap. For a bit, I couldn't hear any footfalls behind me. But, about 150 yards from the finish, I could tell someone was gaining on me. Another decision point - get out-kicked and be happy with my time, or refuse to give in. I chose the latter and hammered as much as I could to the finish line. My last mile was 7:13 for a total time of 36:29.

As soon as I got out of the finishing chute, I was bent over, hands on my knees, dry heaving. An old running friend from California, Ken Noel, would have been proud of me. He always says that if you don't throw up, you didn't run hard enough.

I waited at the finish for a while, drinking some water. Just before the 50 minute mark, I decided to run backwards on the course for a cool down, and to find my wife and son, who were also running. I'd expected my son to run about 47-48 minutes and I thought my wife would run about 55. But, just before I started to run again, I saw my wife approaching the finish, and my son wasn't with her. She ran 49:35 - a great time considering that she does way more lifting than running these days. She runs at most 2x per week and those runs rarely exceed 3 miles.

She told me that she'd dropped my son at the half mile mark when he complained of a side stitch. So, I headed out to look for my son. I found him at the 4.5 mile mark, and he'd really struggled with the stitch. He had thought about turning around at the 1-mile mark, but he stuck it out. He's worked hard this summer and that should serve him well when high school soccer practice starts next week.

When I got home, I pulled out my copy of Daniels' Running Formula. As I get ready for my November marathon, I'll pay attention to my race times and use Daniels' VDOT numbers to track my progress. My race last night was done at a VDOT level between 44 and 45 - closer to 44. That projects to a marathon time in the low 3:30s.

I need a 3:30 to qualify for Boston, but I want to be in 3:20 shape or better when I start my marathon. To do that, I need to improve my VDOT score to slightly better than 47 in the next three months. That's a non-trivial amount of improvement in such a short period of time, so I've got some work to do.

This morning, I went to the gym and did an upper body lifting workout. I did 6 different lifts - three pulling and three pushing, doing 4x10 of each. Tomorrow, I'm planning an easy 20 miler and the weather looks promising for a change.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Alternate workout

Last night, when I left work, the rain had stopped. But, by the time I picked up my daughter from summer camp, took care of some business related to the VT100, and got changed for my run, I could hear thunder in the distance. So, instead of running, I went to the gym with my wife.

I started with 30 minutes of stair climber intervals - boring, but I was soaked with sweat, so I know I worked hard. After that, I spent some time stretching and then some time doing some core work. Finally, a few upper body lifts just to kill time until my wife was finished with her workout.

Tonight's 5-mile race should be interesting, given the weather. The course is a dirt road that is likely quite muddy. We may have more afternoon thunderstorms, and the course is at a relatively high point, where the lightning risk could be significant. If things look dangerous, I'll skip the race.

I'm a bit tired from yesterday's lifting, but not sore like I was at this point last week. I'm probably in about 36 minute shape for 5 miles right now, on a fast, flat, paved course. This course - rolling and on dirt roads - adds at least a minute to that. And, being tired will add some time as well. Add in a few minutes for being fat and a few more for being old...

Actually, I'd love to run under 38, and sub-37 would make me really happy. But, it wouldn't surprise me if I have to work to run sub-40. Last Thursday, I ran 4 paved miles at just under an 8:00 pace, so there's no reason I should run over 40 minutes, unless it's pouring during the race. We'll see.

I'm trying to remember the last time I ran a race this short. It's been a long time. On August 18th last year, I ran 3 legs of a 100-mile relay, each about 5-7 miles long, but I went less than 100% for each leg. Other than that, the last time I ran a race of 5 miles or less might be 5 years ago, when I last ran the race I'll run tonight.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rain, Rain, Rain

This is shaping up to be the wettest summer I've ever seen in Vermont. Well, the spring and early summer seemed relatively average, but it's been raining non-stop for weeks, it seems. This morning, as I headed to the gym, it was pouring.

I did my 5x5 leg day as planned today. For squats (I suck at squats, maybe because I don't push hard enough on a regular basis), I started at 135, and then did sets at 145, 155, 165, and 175. Julie Berg uses 210 for squats for 120 total reps. Someday maybe I'll be competent at squats. My brother tells me that he thinks it's my running mileage that's holding me back on the squats. He started lifting a few months after me, and his squats are way higher than mine. But, he only lifts and does some easy cardio cross-training.

Anyway, after squats, it was deadlift shrugs. If I'd been doing straight deadlifts, I would have been lifting 205 (which also sucks), but with the shrugs, I had to keep the weight at 155.

Next was Bulgarian Split Squats supersetted with Step-ups. I used 2x30# dumbbells for each of those lifts. Then, 3x15 reverse crunches and I was done.

We'll see if the squats kill me for my race tomorrow night. I am wondering what kind of shoes to wear for that race. It's on a dirt road around a pond, so it's likely to be very muddy. Of course, maybe the pond will flood and we'll swim instead of running.

It's amazing how dry the year has been in the west while we've been pummelled by rain recently. I found out that a lightning strike seems to have killed my answering machine recently as well. I don't think I'll fix it until mid-November, so no politicians can leave messages for the next few months.

Tonight, I'll do an easy run for an hour, most likely in pouring rain.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Two runs

Last night, I did a very easy 6+ miler at about 9:30 pace.

This morning, I did another 6 miler, with 3 easy miles at 9:30 pace, two miles at 7:30 pace, and then a 10 minute cooldown mile. The 7:30s were harder than they should have been.

It looks like today is the end of our 2-day streak of rainless days. We're going to have lots of rain and thunderstorms for the rest of the week, and that might include during my planned race on Thursday evening and during my long run on Saturday.

Luckily, yesterday, I got a new part for my lawn tractor that I'd ordered online recently. The engine pulley for the tractor broke, and I couldn't mow for more than a week. I got the new pulley yesterday, installed it, and got some mowing done. If it hadn't gotten done yesterday or today, I might have needed to have a local farmer cut it for hay when this next batch of rain finally stops.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Weight work to start the week

I took yesterday off as planned, even though I didn't follow through on Saturday's workout. This morning, I got to the gym early for a fast weight workout. I had forgotten how fast this workout can be 3x15 of 7 different lifts, with only 30 seconds between sets.

Last Monday, I did the same lifts, but in 5x5s, and with 90 seconds between sets. So, last week, I had over 45 minutes of rest between lifts and today, it was closer to 10 minutes of rest. I was in and out of the gym in record time this morning.

In some ways, I don't like the 3x15 days with such short rest. I think it's probably just an ego thing, but I can only lift about 60% of the weight for this workout that I do for 5x5s. I really enjoy moving the higher weights at times, and this one, while still difficult, is a very different type of difficult.

Tonight, I'll get in an easy hour of running. It's been raining like crazy in Vermont for weeks, it seems, but today and tomorrow should be dry before the rain returns on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, I have 5x5 lower body weights, which will beat me up a bit. It wouldn't be a big deal, except I'm planning a five mile road race on Thursday night.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What is Success?

Jim Hutchinson's son Richard read the following at the memorial service for Jim yesterday:

What is Success?

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jim was clearly a success in his life. If we all gave just 10% of the effort that Jim gave to improving the world, the world would be in much better shape. Those of us that knew Jim well are very lucky people.

This week, I intend to apply to fill one of the many roles that Jim has held recently. A number of people at the memorial service yesterday encouraged me to apply for Jim's now-vacant seat on our town Select Board. The chair of that board is the individual who beat me badly in the election in March, and I've disagreed with him on some issues at meetings since the election. So, I might not have a good chance of being accepted as a replacement for Jim, but I'm going to offer.

The Vermont 100 will manage to find a new race director. The local Democratic party will find a new candidate for the Vermont Legislature. Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports will find a new president of its Board of Directors. They probably won't be able to replace the many days of adaptive teaching that Jim performed. In these roles, people will be found to replace Jim, although every new person will have big shoes to fill.

The place where Jim can't be replaced, in any way, is within his circle of family and friends. The memorial service yesterday showed how many people Jim touched in his life and it was quite amazing.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

So much for mandatory workouts

It's been a tough week. Losing a good friend is obviously never easy. Plus, I've been working with my doctor on changing some medicines I use to keep my brain happy. So far, the change has not been going well.

This morning, everything just seemed to converge and I was having a terrible morning. My schedule said 20 miles. My brain said zero. I managed to get myself going, figuring that after 15 minutes or so, I'd be fine. After 15 minutes, I was miserable. After 20 minutes, I turned around. I walked most of the way back to my starting point and called it a day.

On the way back, I was pretty much hating life, hating running, and hating the never-ending battle I fight to lose weight and run decently. About the time I got home, my wife called. She had taken my son and a friend to NY last night to see Elvis Costello and the Police. She could tell from my voice that I was having a rough day.

She's home now and hopefully the day will get better. Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary and I can't believe how fast that time has gone. I can't believe the lifestyle of ultras and training that my wife has put up with for all this time.

I'm a lucky man.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Marathon Pace Run

My workout schedule right now has 8 workouts per week. Five of them are mandatory - weights on Monday and Wednesday. Intervals on Tuesday. Marathon pace run on Thursday. Long run on Saturday. My other three workouts - easy 60 minute runs on Monday and Wednesday, and a bodyweight lifting day on Friday - are optional. As I get into the second half of my marathon training, in September and October, I hope to be more adapted to this schedule and be nailing every workout.

But this morning, I skipped the bodyweight lifting workout. I'm sore. It's kind of funny what's going on in our household these days. My son is working to get ready for soccer season, and I have him vary his workouts a lot. My wife recently started a new lifting routine and has added some new high intensity interval training (HIIT) on lifting and non-lifting days. Wednesday night, all three of use were complaining about how sore we were.

I think the soreness is a good thing. I can sometimes go for months in training, when I'm only doing running workouts, where I won't get sore. Yeah, I'll be tired at times, but not sore. The soreness these days reminds me that I've got so many areas of my body that can get stronger and that I'm making those changes.

Anyway, last night my workout was 7 miles, with 4 AMP miles. For AMP, I'm using a moving target. AMP in July was 8:00, in August it's 7:55, September will be 7:50 and October will be 7:45. So, the goal last night was 4 miles in 32 minutes - no faster, no slower. I was tired and sore when I started the workout, but I'll be tired late in the marathon, so that's no excuse. My miles were 8:04, 7:50, 8:00, and 8:00. That's about as close as I'll probably get to my planned pace in a workout.

Tomorrow morning, I'll do an early 20 miler. I was planning a surprise dinner for my wife tomorrow night for our 22nd wedding anniversary. But, instead, we'll be at the memorial service for Jim Hutchinson, the Vermont 100 Race Director. I'm sure it's going to be a huge party, with many friends there to celebrate his life. Regretfully, on Sunday, the world will keep on spinning, and Jim will still be gone. I haven't been hit this hard by someone's death in quite a long time.