Friday, November 28, 2008

In a funk

I had a good lifting session on Wednesday night. I started with deadlifts, doing the wave loading sets. In my second set (single rep), I lifted 245 to tie my lifetime best. (Did I ever mention that I still kind of suck at lifting compared to real lifters?) In my fourth set, another single rep, I tried 275. I had tried this weight once before, back in the spring, right after the first time I lifted 245. I couldn't get the weight off the floor one tiny bit back in the spring. This time, I nailed it. So, even though I hadn't tried any maximal deadlifts in a long time, I have still been improving.

Yesterday morning, I was planning an easy run, but between the cold I have and the workout on Wednesday, I was beat. My wife wanted to go skiing and I was too beat for that as well. Plus, I had a lot of cooking to do.

We had a nice dinner with my wife's family and I sat up and watched a movie with my daughter after people left. I went to bed at 11:00, tired from a day of cooking and stuffed from too much food. A couple hours later, one of our dogs started freaking out. She gets frequent ear infections and has some allergies that we've been unable to pinpoint. While I was cleaning up after dinner, I let the dogs eat some of the food that people hadn't finished. Clearly, I triggered one of Nikki's allergies, and it took a long time to get her settled down. Benadryl finally did the trick.

So, I overslept by a bit this morning, but it was snowing hard when I woke up. Time to go skiing. But, both of my kids refused to get out of bed. I get very few days where I can simply go to the mountain and ski rather than working, but today was to be one of them. But, the kids simply made it more trouble than it was worth. The thing is, they allegedly love to ski, but getting them moving is a major pain in the ass. So, I decided to do some work from home instead of skiing.

Then, I got an e-mail about our training at the mountain this weekend. I'm disappointed with how some things are being done, and some of the decisions being made by management make no sense to me. Well, in reality, it seems like a slap in the face to me, based on the efforts I've made with regards to some things recently. It's one of those things that I need to ignore and just go with it, but it's somewhat disappointing. It also affects my income.

Combine that with my kids and their attitude this morning, and I'm just not in a good mood. Plus, I'm working on a really difficult engineering problem whose solution has been elusive so far.

So, I left home. I headed for a local WiFi spot, and I'm working by myself. I told the kids that if they needed anything, they should call their mom on the phone.

In a couple hours, I'll be in a better mood and I'll head home and cook dinner for everyone. Tomorrow, I'll go to the mountain for training and I'll just go with the flow. But for right now, I'm in a pretty pissy mood.

I'm reading a book right now called "Feeling Good" that talks about cognitive therapy and the thought patterns that depressed people go through to get themselves into a bad place. The book is scary in how well it describes how I think at times - all or nothing kind of thinking, perfectionism, ascribing motives to actions that simply aren't there, taking things personally, over-generalizing, "mind-reading", etc.

I'm trying to let go of those kinds of thoughts, but it takes a lot of work at times. Compared to many people who suffer from depression, I know that I'm not really all that depressed. With some medications and my exercise, I tend to do OK. But, unlearning certain patterns of thought is really difficult. And sometimes, I let them get the better of me, for a while at least.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Back to the treadmill

We got about 6" of dense, wet snow yesterday. Then, it started raining. Running outside just wasn't a reasonable thought at all after work yesterday. Instead, I ran on the treadmill - a warm-up mile, a 9:00 mile, an 8:00 mile, another 9:00 and then a cooldown mile. That was plenty of work considering that I'm fighting a cold.

So far, the cold doesn't seem to be too bad, so I'm going to try to lift this afternoon after work. Today includes wave loading sets of deadlifts, then a superset of Romanian deadlifts with static lunges, and then a superset of good mornings and incline reverse crunches. I've never done good mornings before, so I'll have to play around to get the weight right.

After that, perhaps I'll add some stair climber intervals.

Tomorrow, I think I'm going to run an easy 8 outside, probably wearing Yaktrax for safety, before I finish cooking dinner for my wife's family. After that, three days of skiing!

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Do I work hard in training?

In the Precision Nutrition program that started yesterday, today's "lesson" was about exercise, with a focus on not only volume, but intensity. I tend to train alone, even in the weight room. I know how hard I believe I work, but maybe that's an illusion. Here was part of our assignment today:

"Find someone locally who you know works hard and to ask them to evaluate you.
It might be a trainer. It might be a coach. It might be a really fit friend. Etc. But find someone.

Ask them to be honest. Ask them to tell you if you're really working at your limits or not. If so - kudos to you. If not - we need you to step it up and start working hard, really hard, in the gym."

I know that of the few people that come here, most aren't lifters, but all are athletes. Most are runners, since I'm primarily a runner as well. So, if you've been reading my blog at all in the last year, and you see this post, what do you think? Do I work hard in training? Or, am I fooling myself to some extent?

Back to the gym

Regretfully, I seem to be coming down with my typical post-marathon cold. Almost every big race I run, I end up getting sick within a couple weeks of the race. My wife has been fighting a cold and now it seems to be my turn. I'll see how the day goes before I decide if I'm up to running tonight. After 6" of snow last night, I might be able to snowshoe run after work, but the forecast is calling for extremely high winds later in the day.

Last night was a lifting workout. I'm still using workouts from the New Rules of Lifting book. I'm in a series now called Strength 1. There are three different workouts in Strength 1, and each starts with wave loading sets of one of the three powerlifts - squats, bench presses, or deadlifts. Last week, I nearly killed myself with squats. Last night was the bench press night.

In most of the workouts in this book, bench presses aren't used, so it's a lift that I rarely do. There are lots of incline presses, with either dumbbells or barbells, but not many flat bench presses. Prior to last night, my best BP ever was 135#. The sets last night were 6-1-6-1-12. After warming up, I did 115# for the six reps. Then, I tied my PR with a single rep at 135. Then, six reps at 125. Then, I asked a friend to spot me and I tried a single rep at 155. I made it pretty easily. I did the final set at 115.

After that, I moved on to the rest of the workout and then did some short running intervals on the treadmill to wrap up the workout.

In the past, we've had some Presidents and Vice-Presidents who've run marathons. None of them have ever run a faster marathon than my best marathon. None have really been close.

But, our current President-elect can allegedly bench press 200 pounds. He's less than a year older than I am, so I've decided that I need to work up to that weight as well. I'm not ready to have a President who's more fit than I am, even though I'm sure he could take me 1-on-1 in basketball.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's ski season!

I went skiing yesterday. I only did 6 runs or so and the terrain was limited, but it was skiing. It was crowded and icy at spots, and it was cold. And windy. The temperature at the summit never left the single digits (F) yesterday. There was a wind hold on the chair to the summit for most of the day. It was skiing!

About 2:30, the wind hold was lifted. My wife and I took the kids to the top and we took the easy way down. The kids were tired and cold, so they headed inside for a break. My wife and I headed back to the summit. This time, we took the expert route down, skiing through snow-making guns the whole way down. With the cold temps, the guns were spitting out nice soft fluffy stuff. It was an amazing run.

We're going to get some snow and freezing rain tonight along with some high winds, and the rest of the week looks a bit warmer than we've seen for the past week. But, the mountain should survive and I'll be skiing again on Thursday or Friday, plus Saturday and Sunday. I often forget in the summertime just how much I love the feeling of sliding down a hill with two sticks attached to my legs.

The Precision Nutrition Lean Eating program that I mentioned last week started today. Today's assignment was simple - define 3 goals for the next 6 months - no matter how simple or how outrageous. My goals, not surprisingly, were all about getting myself ready for Western States.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I'm still in pain from Tuesday. It's a bit better today than yesterday, but I still hurt.

The ski mountain has decided that employees can ski this weekend, after 11:00 tomorrow morning. With limited terrain, the priority is paying guests rather than employees, but they've made a lot of snow this week, so there's space for everyone. The first few hours have been reserved for paying guests, and then the mountain will open for everyone by midday.

I think I'm going to wait until Sunday to ski though, just so I don't hurt so much. I still have to get my skis tuned up anyway, which I'll get done tomorrow. Next weekend, I'll be working at the mountain, training other instructors. I need to get on the snow and work on my own skiing before I'm in charge of getting other people ready to teach. I will probably ski on Thursday and Friday as well.

On Monday, I'm starting something that I'm hoping will be key to my success at Western States next year. In the past, I've mentioned that I use a dietary program called Precision Nutrition as the outline for how I try to eat. Regretfully, I'm not very consistent in my usage of the program, and when I'm not following the 10 basic rules of the program, it doesn't do me much good. In the past couple months, my compliance hasn't been so great and my motivation hasn't been what it should be. Consequently, I've been slowly gaining some weight since the beginning of July.

Earlier this year, PN offered a 16-week coaching plan, where they mentored people on a daily basis and helped them to get better focused on using the plan. Basically, it was a group coaching plan for PN customers, and it cost some extra money. The people who went through the program have been raving about it on the PN forums, so I took the plunge for the next version. This time, they've expanded it to 24 weeks, which means it goes through mid-May.

Coincidentally (hah!), they are starting it the Monday before Thanksgiving - just as holiday eating starts to get out of control for some people.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Running again

Last night, as planned, I ran after work. I ran easy for just under 5 miles at just under a 10 mpm pace. I wore a reflective vest, bright colored clothing, a flashing red light on my back, and I had a headlamp and a handheld flashlight. I wanted to be as visible as possible after dark.

The only incident I had was some stupid teenagers who decided to yell at me as they went past in their pick-up truck. I need to get back to working out in the mornings, when there is more light. I've been enjoying the extra sleep since my marathon, but I need to get back to my routine of getting to bed early and waking up early.

I was planning to run after work again today, but I'm so sore I can barely walk. The only time I get really sore from lifting is when I do a tough squat day. I hadn't done squats for 3 weeks before my workout on Tuesday, and then I did a really tough workout. I was sore yesterday, but today it's way worse. It hurts to sit. It hurts to stand. There really isn't anything that doesn't hurt. Hopefully I'll be better by tomorrow. I was planning to run today and lift (upper body) tomorrow. Maybe I'll run tomorrow and lift on Saturday instead.

I love squats.

I hate squats.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gym night

I made it to the gym last night and had a great workout. It felt good to work hard, but I am already feeling sore from the work.

Now that my old gym has closed and I'm using a college gym, I really need to get to the gym in the mornings. After work, the gym is pretty crowded with the college students plus the post-work crowd. Last night's workout started with six sets of squats and the one squat rack was in use when I got there.

I wasn't in a hurry though, so I just watched the three kids doing squats. It turned out to be quite entertaining. One of the terms lifters use to describe a quality squat is "ass to grass". That is, you need to get low. I can't squat like the guy in the link, but I get my femur parallel to the floor. If I can't go that low, I know I'm trying to work with too much weight.

The three kids working in the squat rack last night were hilarious. They would just barely bend their knees and call it a rep. This was at low weights. And, they just kept adding weight. Eventually, I thought the one kid was going to kill himself. He loaded the bar to 275, started to descend, and it looked like he was going to collapse. But, he managed to hold it together and stand back up. But, there is no way he got his knees bent more than 30 degrees, if that. And, the last 10 degrees he got were by accident because the weight was forcing him down.

My workout used a technique called wave loading, where you try to trick your central nervous system into thinking that you're lifting less weight than you really are. You do this by varying weights throughout the set. After some warm-up reps (starting with just the bar and going to 135 pounds), I went to 165 pounds. Yes, I know I suck at squats, but I'm getting better. I did 6 reps at 165 and then had a 3 minute break. The next "set" is a single rep at a higher weight. I went to 205. That rep was pretty easy. Then, another 3 minute break. Next, I went to 185 and did 6 reps. I had never done that weight for reps before and it felt relatively easy. Then, after another 3 minute break, I did one rep at 225, which tied my highest squat ever. After that, another long break, a set of 10 at lower weights, another break, a set of 15 even lower, and I was done with squats. My quads were screaming by the end of these six sets.

After that, I did a superset of Bulgarian split squats and step-ups. I struggled on the former lift after the squat work, but I got through everything OK. Then, some Swiss ball crunches, some back extensions, and I was done.

It felt good to break a sweat again, but I am going to be sore for a couple days. If I get to ski this weekend (employee access is limited early in the season due to limited terrain and high demand), it's going to be tough on my quads.

Tonight, I'm planning to run for 45 minutes or so after work and before a meeting. I've packed all of my nighttime running safety gear, which is mandatory for road running after work this time of year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Laziest person on the planet, part 2

For the last 18 months, my wife has worked really hard in the gym and with her diet to get into good shape. At our recent awards dinner for the hospital where we work, my wife wore a black backless dress that showed off her tatoo and the muscles she's developed in those 18 months. But right now, she's kind of stuck. She was motivated last winter by the chance to do some big rock climbs in Yosemite this summer. After that, she was working towards a goal number in Weight Watchers. She's now hit that goal. She feels lost at the moment - no goal at all and no desire to work out or eat well. I've been trying to get her to come up with another goal, but she just doesn't seem to have anything in mind. She's worked hard and probably needs a break, yet I've been trying to suggest to her that she not give up her hard-earned fitness.

So, what am I doing? Giving up hard earned fitness, that's what. I remain unmotivated to work out. I skipped lifting last night. I skipped running this morning. I have my workout clothes with me today, and I might go to the gym. But, to be honest, the motivation just isn't there.

That's what this time of the year is for - rest and recovery. But, if I go too far in my rest and recovery, my fitness will take a major hit.

I need to find some sort of sweet spot, where I'm staying fit or at least minimizing the amount of fitness I lose, while I mentally recover and get ready for the next training cycle. It's out there somewhere, and my brain is telling me to go home tonight and drink a margarita and relax. The part of my brain that remembers I'm entered in Western States next summer is trying to be heard, but that part seems to be getting drowned out at the moment.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Laziest person on the planet

After 7 days of no exercise at all, I should be excited to get back to working out. Instead, I've been thinking that perhaps another week or two, or maybe a month or two, of rest, would be good. I've frequently claimed that I'm the laziest person on the planet, and I'm only a few bad decisions away from a situation that finds me sitting on the couch, weighing 300 pounds, and eating a bucket of chicken. The only clothes that would fit me anymore would be sweat pants and I'd have to quit my job because I couldn't find any work-suitable clothes in size XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXL.

OK, that's enough of that. I plan on lifting tonight and running tomorrow morning before work.

I am a bit concerned about my right heel. Saturday morning, I woke up to the sound of dog footsteps upstairs in our house. The dogs are not allowed upstairs and we have a gate to prevent them from going there. When they do sneak upstairs, they immediately eat the cats' food. Then, if still hungry, they go for the jimmy-covered treats in the litter box. That leads to them getting sick and one time, to an expensive vet trip.

So, when I heard dog sounds upstairs, I ran out of bed and up the stairs. I herded the guilty dog back downstairs and gave the cats some more food. But, on my way down the stairs, I slipped and landed hard on my right heel. I try to never walk barefoot, just to protect my feet, but when I was in a hurry, I went barefoot. Hopefully the bruise to my right heel won't be a long-term issue.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just relaxing

I've been sleeping a lot this week and just taking it easy. I've had no desire at all to run or lift. I still have one spot in my left calf that's a bit tight, but otherwise, the soreness has faded.

I have to say that I'm still doing just fine with my result from Sunday. On that day, I did the best I could and I didn't quit when doing so was very, very tempting. It's time to look ahead rather than back. I don't have time for "should have" or "could have" thoughts right now. I have lots of work to do for Western States next summer.

Tomorrow morning, I have my 3rd ski school meeting of the year. I wish we could just get to the skiing part, rather than talking about skiing. I'm on the training staff for the ski school, and we have a new ski school director this year, so training will be different than last year. I spent 6 years going through pre-season training as a "student" in the training sessions, and this will be my second year as a trainer. In my 8 years, we've had about 6 different ski school directors and as many different training directors, so things are different every year. This year, the people in those two roles are people who I've worked with in the past and they are strong skiers, instructors and managers. The mountain is scheduled to open a week from tomorrow, although it may be the following weekend before I get to ski.

My wife and son are going to PA this weekend to see a Penn State football game. So, I'm going to hang out with my daughter and some adult friends. We're going to my daughter's favorite restaurant tomorrow night, which should be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Where next?

Yes, I'm entering my offseason, but I've also got 7+ months to think about and prepare for Western States next year. Right now, I definitely need to take a break, both mentally and physically. I have to decide what will make the biggest difference in how I perform next year at Western States.

Should I take my current speed and train for another fast marathon attempt and then piggyback my ultra training on top of that speed?

Should I train like I have prior years, with lots of treadmill miles in the winter and increasingly longer runs on the treadmill, and then finally transition to outdoor running about the beginning of April? Should I focus on lots and lots of miles to the exclusion of almost everything else? That technique worked well for Hardrock, but is it the right approach for WS?

Should I move a lot of my winter training to the outdoors, covering fewer miles on my snowshoes, but hitting real hills and strengthening my feet for odd terrain along the way? I tend to be a slave to mileage at times and I probably need to get away from that. I would end up doing lots of snowshoeing in the dark, which can be kind of creepy in the middle of nowhere at times.

How much lifting should I do this winter? Should I change the focus of my lifting?

What about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is a standard part of my training these days?

How much of my focus needs to be on my diet vs. my training? In reality, I think my diet may be where I can make the biggest gains. When I ran my marathon PR, my body weight was just under 170 pounds and my BF% was about 12%-14%.

When I got to WS this year, I was in the same 12%-14% BF range, but at a higher weight than when I ran my marathon PR. I'd love to show up for WS next year a bit lighter and perhaps at 10% BF rather than 12%-14% or worse. I've definitely gained some weight back since WS and I need to spend the winter dropping those pounds before I hit peak training mileage in the spring.

But for now, I'm relaxing and resting. I'm still pretty sore today. Some margaritas last night temporarily relieved the pain, but it was back this morning. Maybe by the weekend, I'll do some easy hiking with the dogs and I'll get back in the gym next week.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Marathon Mile Splits

These are from my Forerunner rather than at the official race markers. I ended up recording the course as 26.36 miles, but I was dead on after about the first 6 miles. My extra 0.15 miles came early, probably when I was in traffic and traveling farther than I needed to get around people. Here are the splits. Note the attempt to run my race pace, the effect of the wind, and then the gradual slowdown.

8:13 (crowded)
8:22 (first mile into the headwind)
8:53 (last tough wind mile)
9:37 (over a bridge where I walked part of the uphill)
8:44 (still under 9 pace for one last mile)
10:18 (hilly, I walked some)
10:08 (ditto)
10:25 (really fading despite working hard)
10:25 (walked a steep hill)
3:37 for 0.36 miles

3:56:15 = 9:01 pace

Chip time was about ten seconds faster.

So, what happened?

I'm home from PA, I'm still happy with my day yesterday, but I'm curious. Why did I have a day so different than what I expected?

My last long run, 3 weeks out, indicated a totally different result. I think. I did an easy 18 that day and then a final 6 at 7:50 pace. I was working in those last 6, but I wasn't all out. Yesterday, the first 6 miles were slower and tougher than those last 6 a few weeks ago.

My speed has improved steadily all fall. My 800 meter times were right where I wanted them to be. I didn't get sick during my taper, I thought I tapered reasonably well, and I felt strong all last week while doing my last few short runs. I thought my long runs were sufficient, with a 20, 3x22, and a 24. I don't think that I overrated my fitness level.

It's possible that I simply need a longer training period focused on the marathon if I'm going to run well there. I really only trained specifically for this race for about 15 weeks. When I ran my PR 13 years ago, I focused on one race for 6 months. I do the same for key ultras. So, just barely half that time may be woefully insufficient to build enough speed and endurance for a fast marathon.

Maybe my total training miles were too low; I ran fewer total miles than in most previous marathon training cycles.

However, neither of those options explains why the FIRST 6 miles were so tough yesterday. I honestly have no idea why the race was hard right from the start. I'll probably never know.

Today, I'm still glad I stuck it out and finished the race. Next June, at Western States, the experience of sticking it out on a tough day will be something I can draw upon when the day gets tough.

Starting today, I'm taking my first complete rest week in a long, long time. Next week, I'll gradually return to working out, but I won't train hard again until the first of the year. Well, I may lift hard, but I won't run hard or long. If the weather cooperates, by the 22nd of this month, I'll be spending my weekends skiing rather than running.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Marathon Result


I should probably be disappointed, but honestly, I'm pretty happy.

Right from the start, the pace felt harder than it should have felt. The first mile was crowded and I ran about 8:30 and then I did 4 miles right around 8:00 pace, but it felt like work. Plus, my legs just didn't feel loose. My left hip and achilles felt tight and something at the front/top of my right leg felt wrong.

In the sixth mile, I decided I needed to get a mile under 8. Of course, I overdid it and ran 7:30. My split at mile 6 was 48:07, but I knew I was in trouble for 3:30.

At mile 7.5 or so, we turned into a stiff wind and I was fighting to run 8:30s. By the 9th mile or so, I'd decided I was going to call it a day at mile 16, when my wife and kids were going to meet me with a flask of Hammergel.

Just past mile 13, for a brief second, I thought maybe I'd continue. Then I decided that was ridiculous. Things were only going to get worse and I'd just done a 1:50 half marathon.

But, about mile 15, I decided that there wasn't a really good reason to quit. I wasn't hurt, I was still moving OK, even though pushing early had taken quite a bit out of me. So, I decided to stick it out.

I told my wife at mile 16 that I'd probably run 3:55. The rest of the way, I just tried to stick to a steady pace and keep moving.

So, no Boston qualifier. But, in the second half of this year, I've run my fastest times at 5K, 5 miles, 1/2 marathon and the marathon since I turned 40. How can I be disappointed with that?

Time to shower and head home.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hanging out in Harrisburg

Our trip was pretty uneventful yesterday. I had purchased a couple books to read whenever my wife was driving. Instead of reading, I fell asleep for a couple hours yesterday afternoon while she drove the majority of highway miles in NY.

Right now, my son is still sleeping, my daughter is watching Sponge Bob, and I'm wasting time on the web. My daughter is also looking at an atlas and struggling with how to pronounce Susquehanna and Chesapeake.

It's soon time for a shower and then I can go register for the race. After that, we've got about a 90 minute drive to my brother's house, where we'll hang out and watch some football. After that, it's back here and try to get some sleep. Unlike a 100 miler, I'm not as freaked out about how much sleep I got last night or how much I'll get tonight. With an 8:30 start tomorrow, I can get up at my normal time and have time for coffee, breakfast and reading the paper before I run. I also don't have to worry about the phase of the moon, drop bags, nighttime temps, changing weather, etc.

The weather still sounds pretty good, although we'll have some breezes of 10-20 mph from the west. The course is primarily run in north/south directions, so the wind won't be in our faces very often.

Thanks for all the good wishes for the race. I have a late checkout tomorrow (I belong to some hotel travel "club" I didn't even know about and that gives me an automatic 2:00 checkout time), so I should be able to post my time before I head home.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Two and Two and then off to the races

Last night, I ran 2 miles - 1/2 a mile warm-up, a 7:30 mile, and a cool-down. I ran after dark and I was very careful with my footing.

This morning, I went to see my chiropractor, and then ran two more miles after the adjustment. I was going to run solo, but my one dog really wanted to come along. I guess the dogs haven't been doing enough running this year, because he couldn't handle a 7:30 pace in the middle of the run. So, my run was a bit slower than last night.

Overall, I feel good and it's time to make the trip and toe the line and see what I've got. This is going to be fun, in a painful sort of way.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is this November?

It's been amazingly warm here in Vermont for the past few days. It seems more like springtime or maybe early October rather than early November.

I ran outside in shorts Tuesday after work and I'll do the same tonight. Today is 2 miles - hardly worth the effort, it seems. I'll do one mile at marathon pace.

The weather for the race on Sunday still looks nearly perfect - low of 40F, high in the low 50s, partly cloudy.

I'm taking the day off work tomorrow, just so I have a non-hectic day. I'm going to see my chiropractor in the morning and then I'll come home and run 2 miles with the dogs and spend some time stretching. After that, I'll drop the dogs off at the kennel, pack the car, and pick up the kids at school. Around lunchtime or so, we will start our 8-hour drive to our hotel.

Saturday, I'm going to hang out with my brother and watch the Penn State-Iowa football game. Then, an early bedtime and it will be raceday. Our hotel is less than 1.5 miles from the start and the race starts at the very reasonable hour of 8:30 a.m.

Ultrarunning legend Park Barner is entered in the marathon, wearing bib #1. He was known for his amazing recuperative powers when he was in his prime. He was able to race hard week after week without seeming to break down. Hopefully, I'll get to meet him on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Four more miles

I ran four miles after work last night - one easy, two harder, and one easy. My middle miles were done in 7:33 and 7:50.

After that, I went to vote and then went home to cook dinner and wait for election returns.

As usual, I stayed up way too late on a Presidential election night. But, unlike 2000 and 2004, I went to bed happy last night.

I wonder what Obama will think when he wakes up today. If I were him, I'd probably be wondering what in the world I'd gotten myself into. He's got an incredibly tough job in front of him and a world of expectation on his shoulders.

Today is a rest day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Treadmill - ugh!

I overslept yesterday morning and didn't get out of work in time to run outside. My run was only going to last a bit more than half an hour, but sunset was 4:37 and I was done working at 4:30. So, I opted for the treadmill instead.

I started at a 9:00 pace, dropped it to 8:30 after half a mile, then did a 7:47 mile, followed by a 7:25 mile, and a slow 1-mile cooldown.

Today, I got to work early, and I'll leave at 4:00 and run outside for 4 miles, with one of them at marathon pace. Then, I'll go stand in line to vote. I thought about voting before work this morning, but at 7:00, there were already long lines at our polling location. After work and running, I'll have no time constraints, so I can stand in line for as long as it takes.

Tonight, hopefully, we won't have a night like in 2000 or 2004, and I'll go to bed at a reasonable hour, knowing who our next President will be.

My son will probably be fighting for control of the TV, wanting to watch the John Stewart/Colbert Report version of the election returns. I'll certainly record them, even if I don't watch them live.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Race Weather

Yeah, the forecast is still six days out, but it currently looks like lows of 40F overnight before the race and a high of 53F on race day. Precip on Saturday but partly cloudy with a small chance of rain for race day. That's nearly perfect weather for racing a marathon.

Of course, it's six days away, so the forecast could change drastically. By early next week, we are supposed to see rapid dropping temperatures in VT after an above-average week this week.

At least New England ski areas are currently open, but I'm curious if they'll make it to the weekend given the weather. I'm still hoping to ski on 11/22 for the first time this season.


I only ran twice last week. But, I got in two good lifting workouts, and I'm tapering, so I think the easy week was OK. Overall, I've run fewer miles in this training cycle than I think I've ever done before for an attempt at a decent marathon. I've slogged through marathons on fewer miles, including two late-season marathons in 1998 on practically no training at all. I guess I'll find out on Sunday whether or not I ran enough miles.

My first run last week was an 8-miler on Tuesday with 4 marathon-pace miles. After lifting on Monday and pushing a bit on Tuesday, my left hamstring was sore. I skipped running for two days because of the hamstring. On Friday afternoon, I headed out for an easy run, planning to do 6 miles at whatever pace was comfortable. I ended up feeling pretty strong, my hamstring felt fine, and I ran faster than I'd expected.

My first mile felt easy and I was surprised to see a time of 8:27 on my Forerunner for that mile. Because it had felt so easy, I slowly pushed the pace a bit, to see how my hamstring would react. I ran a 7:40. Then, I hit an uphill mile and ran 8:28. I walked half of the one significant hill in this mile. After that hill, I pushed the pace some more and ran 7:33 and 7:26. I hit the 5-mile mark in just over 39:30, and then backed off for a cooldown of a little more than a mile. My hamstring didn't complain at all, although my legs felt a bit tight on Saturday. I need to focus on stretching and some foam rolling this week, even while I'm not running much.

I rested completely this weekend. On Saturday, I spent the day at at the ski mountain, doing pre-season training and paperwork. Saturday night, I cooked dinner for family. Yesterday, I slept in, read the newspaper, did some consulting work, and watched some television - a wonderfully lazy day.

My workouts for this week are pretty simple. No lifting. Runs of 4-4-0-2-2-0, with 2 MP miles today, 1 tomorrow, and 1 more on Thursday. Friday morning, I go to see my chiropractor and I'll run an easy 2 miles after that visit. Then, we'll hop into the car for the 8-hour drive to Harrisburg.

Mostly, I write about training and racing in this space, even though my profile mentions my love of good food and wine. The rest of this post is about that subject, so avert your eyes if you want to avoid wine geekiness.

Saturday night, I opened some older wines as we celebrated my father-in-law's 80th birthday. I made prime rib for dinner (local grass-fed beef - very good) and opened a magnum of 1989 Vieux Telegraphe. The wine still has a future ahead of it, but it's amazingly good right now. I still don't think the Vieux Telegraphe is as good as the Beaucastel from the same vintage, but they are both great wines, with very different styles. The Vieux Telegraphe is a much subtler wine, without the intensity that the Beaucastel has. I think that's primarily a product of the grapes they use rather than anything else. I don't think that Vieux Telegraphe uses any Mourvedre, while Beaucastel uses more Mourvedre than any other producer in Chateauneuf du Pape. Both are great wines and I'm glad I have more of each of them, in regular bottle sizes and some larger format bottles. I have one 3-liter bottle of each of these wines, which will be saved for some sort of special occasion down the road.

For dessert, I opened a 1977 Taylor-Fladgate Port. This was my only bottle of this wine. I bought it about 12 years ago for $65 and it sells for 2-4 times that much these days, depending on the condition of the bottle. While 1977 was a great vintage for Port, I was concerned that the wine would still be too young. Many of the wines from that vintage will last a very long time and the Taylor will probably still be drinking well long after I'm not around any more. I was quite happy to be able to share it with my father-in-law for his birthday. Plus, my brother-in-law loves good Port, so he was quite excited to taste it.

It was the best Port I've tasted in a long, long time. I don't think it was as good as the 1963 Taylor, which I've had a few times, but not since 1996 right now. It's hard to remember the details of the '63 from so many years ago, especially considering the other wines we had that night. A good fried prepared a "going away" dinner for some friends and my wife and me, just before we moved from California to Alaska. Dessert that night included full bottles of both the 1963 Taylor and the 1963 Fonseca - two of the greatest Ports I've ever tasted. There was a third component to that night's dessert that has probably clouded my memory of the wines somewhat.

You know, if I didn't love good food and good wine so much, I might actually be a decent athlete. But, life's too short to live as an ascetic, so I'm constantly trying to balance two antagonistic passions.