Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Next Up, 25K Race

Made my first long run post Chicago Marathon last Sunday. 16 miles in just under 10 min. pace. I think I'm almost recovered. There were still some lingering fatigue issues towards the end but the pacing was steady and nothing hurt.

I'm still marveling at my current state of fitness. I rolled out of bed commenting to my wife that I was off for a short 16 miler. Ha!

Tonight's near 4 miler in relaxed form felt really good. I'm very happy about the lack of pain anywhere. Looks like the weather will be a little on the warmer side. Hopefully, it will be good enough to maintain a decent pace.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Writer's Block

I started writing about my Chicago experience. But I can only think in 160 word packets. I'll try again tomorrow night.

2009 Chicago Marathon

Several things I learnt at this year's Chicago Marathon. Gels turn stiff at fridge temperatures. I was carrying mocha flavored Cliff Shots and Espresso flavored Hammer gels and they both were semi-solids when I tried to squeeze them out. Granted, my hands were pretty useless due to the cold but the contents were pretty stiff. Gatorade and water felt like it was taken out of a fridge. I enjoyed drinking cold Gatorade. In fact, my stomach tolerated it very well.

I find it interesting how this marathon claims to sell 45,000 entrants yet for the last 3 years the actual finishers end up being in the low 30,000 range. This year, it was 33,000 and change. So, where the heck is the rest of the folks? This race is not cheap.

Anyway, be careful what you wish for. Apparently, 33,000 runners wished for a cooler marathon weather after 2 years of October heat. We got it. The temperature at the start of the race was just below freezing at 31 degrees. I saw several bank signs showing 28 degrees. For this cold start, I decided to wear a sleeveless tech T under a long sleeve tech shirt. For the bottom, I was sticking with running shorts as I do not own any long garments. I packed some tech gloves and a tech baseball cap to round out my outfit. To stay warm in the corral, I also brought an XL T shirt to go over my outfit (Yuri's Night 5K). As I was taking my track suit off to check my gear, I held up the Yuri's T shirt and hesitated as the thought of tossing it started to sound like a bad idea. Sentimental? Maybe. More like brain freeze. Anyway, I put the T shirt back in my bag and checked my bag. So, the cold morning became colder.

I parked myself at the 10 min. pace sign. It was 6:45 AM. Marathon started at 7:30. It's pretty cool to look forwards and backwards and see a crowd as far as the eye can see.

Mile 1: 9:48
Mile 2: 9:34
Mile 3: 9:12
Mile 4: 9:13
Mile 5: 9:06

As you all know, when the race starts, you don't. By the time I crossed the starting line, Wanjiru had already passed mile 2. But no matter, I was running with the crowd. It appears everyone around me lined up for 10 min. pace but was running much faster. Blame it on adrenalin and one of the most electrically charged spectator/atmosphere at the start of this race. I was also just wearing my Timex so as every mile markers came up, I was surprised at how fast we were all moving. For these first several miles, the pacers were also trying to sort themselves out. The 4:00, 4:15 and 4:30 groups were all mixed in together.

Incidentally, why does the marathon line you up by minutes per mile but the pacers carry overall finish time.

Mile 6: 9:25
Mile 7: 9:04
Mile 8: 9:13
Mile 9: 9:19
Mile 10: 9:19

When the route turned south again, the spacing amongst runners became looser. So, despite the overcharged crowd support, I decided I needed to find my "running forever" pace. That certainly wasn't 9 minute pace so I tried to slow down. I also realized by the 6th mile that I was between the 4 and 4:15 pace groups. My goal was to slot myself between the 4:15 and 4:30 group. Water and Gatorade support was excellent this year. The stops also appeared a block long, if not longer on both sides of the street. So even on the very first water stop, it was possible to grab a drink without much issue.

Mile 11: 9:23
Mile 12: 9:30
Mile 13: 9:45
Mile 14: 9:42
Mile 15: 9:37

We came back into downtown and veered west at about Big Willie (aka Sears Tower which is now renamed Willis Tower). As I passed the halfway point at around 2:02, I took inventory of my condition and pressed on. The fast pace of the early miles concerned me a bit as did the coldness that permeated my body. I was not getting warmed up and noticed myself being cold throughout the race.

Mile 16: 9:36
Mile 17: 9:47
Mile 18: 9:59
Mile 19: 10:18
Mile 20: 10:33

Perhaps it was the fast start, perhaps I'm just not good at race management, perhaps it was too cold, or perhaps the distance is too darn long for me, but I started to slow down. Interestingly, the perceived effort I was putting in seemed to be the same but my splits were getting slower. But, there was only 6 more miles to go. I was telling myself to shuffle in if you must but we are so close to the end that we should not unravel. Well, China town was a nice distraction and when we finally was back on Michigan avenue, I knew the end was close. It was during these last few miles that the 4:15 group passed me. I tried to keep pace with them for about 2 blocks but there was no way I could at the pace I was going at this time.

Mile 21: 11:07
Mile 22: 10:39
Mile 23: 11:25
Mile 24: 11:11
Mile 25: 11:38
Mile 26: 11:57
0.2 Mile: 2:24

Total: 4:21:55 (10:00 minutes/mile pace)

A new P.R. by about 30 minutes. The finish time temperature was 42. Thankfully, they gave out mylar blankets before the medal. Good thing too. I never realized how warm those things can be when it is so cold.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tapering

Tapering. Best feeling in the world. Hard training is all done. A mini vacation before the main event. I was scheduled for a 5 mile run on Wednesday night but Tuesday night was too good to pass up. I had also gotten a new pair for Asics GT-2140's for the marathon and needed to be broken in. Not sure how to describe the sensation of running in brand new shoes for the first time but it feels like you're running on air (or gel in my case). The cushioning is just so right. My very first pair of running shoes were GT-2100. There was a pair of Adrenaline GTS-7 and a gifted Pearl Izumi (best looking shoes so far) but it has always been the GT's or Kayano's protecting my feet.

I now have no run scheduled until Saturday's 8 miler. The lazy ass in me is very content with that. The other me thinks I can add a 4 miler tomorrow without messing with my legs. Right now, I think the latter me is going to win out.

Long range forecast for Chicago is looking very promising. But with the summer we had here, I'm more worried about a cold wet sleeting type of weather. I couldn't really care less if it is going to be in the 90's.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Trail Running

I had a nice easy 3 miler on tap for today. I figured it was short enough to give the old Jones Forest trails a go. A nice solitary run with not a sole but for small wild animals scampering ahead of me and a squirrel who was surprised to see a biped running towards him. He started to run at me then changed course after realizing I wasn't changing course. I of course was wondering if I ran across some demented squirrels that attacked bipeds.

The trails were nice on my joints but also reminded me very quickly why the cardio gets a better work out. I felt the effort and remembered to stay sharp to not trip over. By the way, the heat and humidity was turned on again today. I sweated profusely during my short run.

Only 2 more weeks to Chicago Marathon. This tapering business is the best. Looking forward to a short 5 miler on Wednesday. This one shall be on the roads.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Week In Review

Not much to review. Let's see, there was a Monday afternoon appointment with an oral surgeon to check out a small cyst I had on my tongue for about 6 month that my family doctor told me to get a second opinion on. The oral surgeon said that it looked like a benign lesion from possibly biting my tongue or scalding it. Thought it wasn't cancerous and recommended against biopsy unless I felt otherwise. I told the doc that I trusted his judgement and asked him to remove it. Which he promptly did under local anaesthesia. Couple of snip snips and the nurse was putting some compression on the tongue to stop the bleeding. By the way, tongue bleeds a lot.

I should have probably just quit for the day after that little adventure but decided against better judgement and went out for a 7 mile run because the schedule called for it. I'm not saying that I caught a bug at the doctor's office but hind site being 20/20, I did a 20 miler on Saturday, stressed the body out again Monday and then went for a run. I'm sure my immune system was already depressed and here I was, making it worse. So, long story short, I am going through the full phase of a minor cold, from slight fever to runny nose to a sore throat. Here I am Sunday afternoon and I still don't feel right.

I'm hoping to start next week right back on schedule. After all, October 11th doesn't sound that far away anymore.

In regards to my last post, my niece Terri from Madison, Wisconsin has informed me that she will train for the Mad City Marathon next may and asked if I'll run it with her. Of course, I accepted her invitation. I'm not saying my running has rubbed off towards Madison but it's cool that more of my family are getting into it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Running as a Role Model

How do you know your running is rubbing off someone else?

While speaking to my Mom in Chicago yesterday (as it was my birthday and all) she casually mentioned that my older brother went and ran a 5K race on Sunday as part of Chicago's annual Korean Fest. So the Jon Walk in me went and checked out how he did. 28:52. Not too shabby for a first timer. He's 3 years older than me and he never commented once on my running despite my trips to Chicago to run the half marathon and my heat stroked Chicago Marathon a few years ago. I might have to put it on the calendar to go run this 5K with him next year.

How do you know whether your actions make significant impressions on your kids?

My daughter has joined the College Park Cross Country team. Since late June, she's been getting up at 5:30 AM to go to College Park to train. Allison is a night owl so I know how hard getting up that early is. She has some talent and speed so hopefully, she can make first team. We'll see. My son suffers from Asthma and allergies and has been in treatment for a few years. He asked to help him survive Cross Country at Knox this coming Fall and has been running with me since early summer. He can run - walk 4 miles quite easily now. He's probably going to be one of the slowest guys but I admire his dedication. When I was his age, I don't think I'd have dared to do anything like that.

I've never asked them to run. Such is life.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Week #4 in the Bag

This was one of the easier weeks of my 16 week training program. I guess it was to let me recover from last week's 14 miler. Next week's schedule is back on track towards marathon distance. I have on schedule, an easy 2 miler, 6 mile tempo run with warm up, cool down and 8:36 pace for 4 miles in the middle, and a 16 mile long run. Then for the next 2 weeks, the long slow run climbs to 18 miles and 20 miles respectively.

Today's run was an easy 6 again which was the these for all the runs this week. I promised to run 3 with Alex this morning at 6:30 so I left at 6 to put in the first 3 miles by myself. Feeling good and having cooler weather to play with this morning, I elected to add a little speed work by warming up then running as fast as I could for 1 mile and then cooling down. I managed to clock 7:45 pace during the middle mile with peak speed of 6:43 pace according to my Garmin. These times are about 30 seconds off my peak from last year but that's understandable since I haven't paid much attention to 5K distances or speed work during that time.

Today I'm retiring my Asics Gel-Kayano 14's. One very big positive about this particular model for me has been the fact that I've never had a blister in these shoes. In fact, these are the first pair of shoes ever to never give me blisters on my long runs. Unfortunately, I came to this realization too late as this model has been superseded late last year and all the remaining stock in my size has been sold out now. I'm not sure why these did not give me blisters but it felt as if the toe box on the 14's were roomier than 11, 12 and 13's I've worn. Somehow these were just right. I've bought a pair of 2130's which are also last year's model. I'm hoping Asics had the same design philosophy on the 2130's as they did on the 14's. We shall see. I'm breaking the new ones next week. I'll find out on the 16 miler whether these are keepers or not.

Happy Trails!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Penguin Sport Wash Results

Time for Penguin Sport Wash update. I just went over to my dryer to sniff at tech clothes. Yes, it is a strange site to be sniffing clothes but I've been trying out a couple of different brands here. My first impression was the smallness of the cap. WIN detergent came with a larger cap that looked like a Tide liquid detergent cap. You pour a full cup for a full load and half cup for half load. Simple. Penguin is a little vague here. The cap is smaller but there is no instruction other than, use one capful. For what size load? There is no answer. I resist the urge to pour two capfuls. After the wash, I sniffed all over getting strange looks from my dog. There is no fragrance and I'm confused because the clothes don't stink but it doesn't smell good either. There is a vague hint of vinegarish smell. I'm now wondering if I didn't use enough detergent. But after a delicate drying cycle, the clothes come out smelling neutral. It doesn't smell at all. There is no locker room smell nor is there any fragrance. It's just neutral. I guess I'm just not used to that.

I'll see if their claims of restoring wicking power to older tech clothes is true next time I go running.

Penguin Sport Wash

I have really soggy running clothes that need some serious washing. I have a separate laundry basket for my family's tech gear and this week, I deliberately just dumped my really really soggy clothes in there for the Sport Wash test. Stay tuned as I'll be running a wash through later today. This test might not be fair though as I'v now washed my clothes through the WIN wash twice. After the second washing, the clothes came out smelling really good.

Be a Runner

Week 3 of 16 for Chicago Marathon in the bag. This week was tough. The heat and humidity combination has been hovering in the danger zone all week. Not much fun with maintaining pace at the distances I was supposed to be at this week. I remember how this used to bother me during my first year of running back in 2004. Now I just shrug the shoulder and look for any positives. This week's positives are the fact that I was out there running in the heat. 4 miles at 6 PM on Tuesday afternoon, temps in the upper 90's. Who does that? That was just a recovery run so there was no pressure except to finish. Thursday's run was supposed to be a tempo run and stupid me, tried to run the 8:30 pace. Ran that for a mile and a half before succumbing to heat. But the 5 miles were complete. Temps were 98 when I started. Who does that? This morning started out at 75 at 6:30 but once the sun peaked out, it quickly went over into the mid 80's. Weather channel said the humidity at 6:30 was 99%. 99%? Who runs in that crap?

Apparently I do. Conditions that might kill an average American is what us runners here in Southern Texas just run through. Adapting to the conditions by slowing down, hydrating extensively and looking out for signs of heat stroke. I saw a lot of us out there today. We're just a lean mean running machine.

If you want to be a runner, there are multitudes of running organizations out there in the Houston area. Go join one. You'll find out that they are all just regular folks like yourself that made a lifestyle choice.

I'm recovering at my favorite spot. Starbucks. Enjoying my frst cup of coffee and pondering what to eat. I burnt 1800 calories. I can eat a huge meal and not tip my body weight balance. That would be one of the side benefits of running.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Week #2 Recap

14 weeks to go to the starting line of the Chicago Marathon. Week #2 ended with a hot, humid 12 mile long run. I was so sweaty that the Kayano's were sloshing by the 5th mile. That must be a new record for me. Interestingly, I must be acclimating to this weather, I wasn't feeling totally defeated by the end of the run although I found it impossible to maintain a 10:10 pace.

Next weekend's long run is 14 miles. I few point drop in humidity will be great.

Distance: 12 miles
Time: 2:11:25
Pace: 10:57
Calories: 1570 burnt
Shoes: Asics Kayano 14 (314.4 miles)

I just bought my next pair of running shoes. Asics GT-2130. Last year's model on sale for $65. I also bought Penguin Sport Wash to see if it'll get the stink out. This will be my second product in tech detergents. Last week I bought and used WIN detergent. The classic smell was gone from most of the tech clothes I had in the wash but one still had a very slight hint of it. So I was pleasantly surprised. The only downside was the strong fragrance.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Week #1 Recap

Week #1 just officially got done half an hour ago. With travel schedule and general tiredness coupled with record breaking heat, I'd missed Thursday run. But I mostly made it up on Saturday by running 3 with Alex and then running RTW 5K. Although, I had to take a walking break during mile 3. I can't remember the last time I had to do that at a 5K race. Make that never. I was running a nice tempo pace with Karen. We chatted during the run. It was more of a laboured conversation as the speed was not conducive for easy conversation (at least for me). But passed the 2 mile mark, I felt myself overheating quite nicely and before the final turn into Crownridge, I had to slow down and eventually take a walk break. Karen seemed to be fit as ever. She maintained her pace and finished strong. I hadn't spoken to Karen in a very long time so notch this as good fun run.

Sunday's long run was planned as a 10 miler but by a mile into the run, I shortened it to an 8 miler. It was hot, humid and hot. The heat index even at 6 AM was unbearable. I had sweat running down my shoes by the 4th mile. That is a record in itself. I slogged it out though and made it home in one piece. Thus the mileage shortage. Today, was a rest day but I got out of bed for a short 2.24 miles around my neighborhood.

Up next is a 5 miler recovery run tomorrow. With the unusually warm weather around here, all paces seem to regress towards recovery/survival pace. Better than lounging around inside air conditioned home I suppose.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Running with Alex

February seem like a long time ago. I've been running with Alex since early February. He is still struggling with his asthmatic breathing and his occasional need to go to the bathroom (usually when we're farthest from the house) but he has stuck with it, getting up early on Saturdays and Sundays. He is now up to 2.95 miles as of today. His pace is all over the map, today's being 12:30's but I've let him slack on that, concentrating in getting the distance down. By next weekend, Alex should be at 3.1 miles more or less which is a tremendous accomplishment for him. Before the chores of running get the best of him, I'll have to take him to a cool 5K event. Maybe we can do the Astros Run for the pennant at the end of May. That should excite him. I hope.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

RTW 5K (3/28/09 Edition)

I woke up with 40 minutes to the start of this 5K.  Thank goodness I only live a couple of miles away from it.  This morning was cold!  39 degrees when I stepped out of the car.  Even with gloves, the hands were chilly.  Thank goodness for long sleeves and gloves.  Today's goal was to go under 24 minutes and possibly break an 11 month old P.R. of 23:53.

M1:  7:33
M2:  7:54
M3:  7:56
0.1:  0:36

Overall:  23:58 (P.R. time:  23:53)
Pace:  7:47
Shoes:  Asics Kayano 14 (109.4 miles)

As it usually happens to me in 5K races, I went out too fast, at one point, registering 6:33/mile pace on the Garmin.  Totally unsustainable.  This lack of strategy might have cost me the precious 6 seconds I needed to set a new P.R.  I felt pretty strong all the way until the last half mile which needed all of my concentration to fight the urge to throw up.  This was interesting as I only had a few gulps of Gatorade 20 minutes before the start of the race.

I'm quite sure I have a P.R. in me somewhere and I hope to get it before the weather turns hot.  2 more chances in April.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Running Shoes

Runners fuss over their shoes more so than any other equipment they use.  Perhaps because the shoes are at the core of the essence of running.  Other than bare footers, its not so possible to go out on a nice leisurely 6 miler without them.

I never bought running shoes until I started running.  I used to always buy tennis shoes for casual gym like shoes.  This bias was probably born during my studying years as I used to "live" on tennis courts.  I bought my first running shoes when I started running, which makes sense.  But first pair was bought on looks and value.  I couldn't figure out why there were running shoes costing over $100.  Little did I know.  Not only do I use Kayano's, I tend to buy a few pairs a year, making it the largest portion of my running budget.

Fast forward to today.  I bought Cumulus 10 for my son.  Yes, he is only training to run a 5K.  Yes it was the most expensive shoes Alex has ever owned.  Yes, the wife unit will freak out tonight when she sees these $80 shoes.  But he is going to look cool when he steps outside Saturday morning to run 2 miles.  The farthest he has ever run.  I hope the running bug bites him.  Running is such a joy in many levels.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

2009 Texas Independence Relay - Cliff Notes Version

I ran my second relay of my life.  Both have been the TIR version.  Our twelfth runner dropped out at the last moment due to work issues and we had to re-jigger our legs to accommodate.  Everything was good except that continuous van switching got a little tiring half way through.  But Team Cassie prevailed and worked it all out.  I was mentally preparing for the legs that were assigned to me but since the legs changed at the last moment, I had to just go with the flow and decide on running tactics for my legs as they came about.  This wasn't so bad, as our team's desire to push the pace was pretty infectious.

On our drive out to Gonzales, I asked David Smart regarding running the 1st leg as that was his leg last year.  He pretty much said that at the end of the prologue, team turned left and he sped up and kept going towards the first exchange.  That didn't sound so bad except rather than it being a 4.25 miler leg, it was really a 5.41 miler because of the 1.15 miles of prologue run.  Out of the blue, David noted that the rules allow for the runner of 1st leg to run ahead of his team running the prologue.  Indeed, the rules does allow for it.  As we started the prologue, one of my teammates said, "Well, aren't you taking off?"  So I did and became the Lone Ranger.

Leg 1:  4.26 miles
Pace:  8:41/mile

This leg was harder than I thought.  The course was hilly and there was a strong gusty wind that kept me off balance.  There were also 3 cattle grates to cross, which I did, carefully walking over them so as not to twist or break an ankle.  Imagine if we had to DNF on the 1st leg.  Half way through I had a small terrier size dog chasing me.  I thought about whipping out my pepper spray but with all that gusty wind, I was worried about the spray coming back towards me.  So I just pointed and yelled.  It did not get close enough for me to stop and kick it as John Maloney suggested.  Up and down this leg kept going and I was glad to see the exchange point after all that wind.

Leg 10:  6.09 miles
Pace:  8:51/mile

Tommy Stunz was running this leg and he was tasked with catching up to Jon's blogger team.  Prior to this leg, we were about 7 minutes behind Jon's team.  As I waited for the exchange, indeed, Tommy appeared first.  He was running about 7 minutes ahead of Jon.  So our van mates being such lovely teammates that they are told me to keep the lead and to expand it.  That if I lost it somehow, I would have to hear about it for the rest of the trip......  So I took off with a determination to run it as fast as I could.  This leg was a straight one with gentle rolling hills.  The only problem was heat.  It was mostly sunny and humid.  I tried to keep my effort just below the "throw-up" level.  I managed it, albeit just barely.  It turns out that I actually beat my 10K P.R. time.  LOL.  So that's how fast I ran it.  Plus it was about 11 minutes faster than Jon's team.  Our lead was building at this point.

Leg 22:  5.01 miles
Pace:  8:58/mile

I ran this around midnight.  There are no street lights outside of small towns and this route was no exception.  The only light I had were the two headlamps on my head, a red blinker on the front and back of me.  This run also happened to be the loneliest one as I saw absolutely no one until the last mile.  Since there is no scenery to look at, it was very hard to gauge my speed.  So I concentrated on my breathing and my form.  I'd glance at my Garmin when it beeped to check my pace.  I thought a lot during this leg.  My dad was suffering from cancer this time last year and after hearing about Edwin's dad, it was very melancholic.  I prayed for Edwin's dad and family and then struck up a long conversation with my dad.  Soon, up ahead, you could see a bright light that was used for the night exchanges.  It the pitch darkness, this light looks deceptively closer that it really is.  My Garmin told me there was still about a mile to run.

Leg 33:  4.47 miles
Pace:  9:09/mile

Running on empty, literally.  Other than a 6" sub at Subway and several bags of Cheez-its, I had not eaten much.  This was to guard against full stomach and because it was hard to find decent food on the course until you entered Houston.  This one was hot.  Sun was bearing down and I was mostly running on uneven pavement.  It was hard to get any kind of rhythm.  First mile was painless because of Red Bull, but as that wore off, I had really nothing left in the tank.  I even forgot to carry water so I was just trying to survive.  But I knew the end was really close and after this, I could enjoy the rest of the way because I was DONE!

It's amazing how close you become to fellow van mates you just met a day ago.  By Sunday late morning, we all felt like we've been friends forever.  Funny how misery/hardship brings people together.  At downtown exchange, our van became the resting van so we went to Becky Spaulding's house for a little R & R and shower and then over to Coney Island for some well deserved hot dogs.

Shout out to our Captain Cassie.  She brought a box of Colaches from Kolache Factory.  As our van had not eaten anything, this was very well appreciated.  Thanks Cassie!

We all met up at the monument and cheered when Tommy Stunz ran in to the finish.  Our time:  30:34:05.  We bested last year's time by about 1 hour 30 minutes.  WE ROCKED.  This year's relay was not as tiring as last years.  I think the difference was due to the full size vans we had this year rather than minivans we used last year.  Full size vans are the way to go.  Especially the 15 passenger version.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Final Tune Ups for TIR

Last Wednesday night run was conducted with a new LED light that clips on to the bill of a cap.  It worked very well.  The illumination wasn't the best but you could make out all the major hazards ahead of you.  Best of all, it is the least obtrusive light I've tried so far.  You can' really feel it on you.  That plus blinkies and reflective belt, I am ready for night running.

However, I've developed a nagging pain on my left leg, just above my ankles on the outer side.  Possible delayed pain resulting from soccer games.  I'm taking this weekend off from any kind of serious running to rest my legs.  I'll go for a 6 miler this Wednesday.  Hopefully, the pain will be gone by then.

I'm also going to leave my Pearl Izumi's home and take my old pair of Kayano 13's as my back up shoes.  No sense in taking something unproven to a long journey when your 10 team mates are counting on you.

TIR is only a week away!  How cool is that?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Three Infulential Runners

There was perfection in this morning's run.  The weather could not have been any better than what I had, running as the night faded into a glorious sunrise.  As I set out, I started drifting back to the starting point.  Distance running start point happened around spring of '05.  About 4 years ago.  There were 3 influential runners that kept my newly started habit going.  The first fella was a co-worker of mine at that time.  He was a triathlete who seemed to be perpetually ready to partake in the full triathlon at any givenmoment.  Mike Waldau.  Mike brought structure and goal setting into my running.  After I got up to about 3 miles, he steered me to Run The Woodlands series.  It turned out that RTW had been taking place 2-1/2 miles from my house twice a month.  After my first 5K, Mike asked what my time was.  It told him 31 minutes and something seconds.  His response was, "that's very good for a first timer.  I bet if you worked on it, you can smash the 30 minute barrier."

That got me hooked on running.  Since then, it has always been, what would it take to break the next time barrier and what would it take to run the next distance.  Mike also told me to start keeping notes on my running.  So blogging because my next natural thing to start up.

Then an exponential event took place.  I discovered that running was an active and social event.  There were clubs all over town and running events that until then was invisible to my life, were literally taking place every weekend.  This is when I met Jon Walk and Steeeeve Shepard.    Jon literally introduced me to the great big world of internet runners.  His timely data points and stories kept me interested in the sport of running.  His uncanny ability to remember other runner's data and running events were ever fascinating to read about.  I believe Jon came up to me at one of the RTW races and introduced himself to me.  Since then, I've participated in events that he organized and led.  So you could say Jon helped me with the social aspects of running.

I met Steeeve through Houston Striders.  I was a member of the Striders for 2 years in my early years of running.  It is a fun feeling to belong to a group of like minded individuals.  As the saying goes, misery loves company.  During difficult long runs, I always found comfort in other member's triumphs and pains.  Running isn't easy and it is good to know that others have to also pay their dues to triumph.  Steeeve was the President of the club at that time and despite not knowing him personally, he was always there at the races and on my blog, cheering and encouraging every milestone and miles I was running.

Heading north on Kuykendall, a fire engine red Impala SS slows to my speed and calls out.  It's Dave Smart!  He's already done with his 7 miler for the day and looked like he was headed home from somewhere.  Always good to see familiar faces.  Dave is once again my team mate for 09 TIR.  Hey Dave, "Nice Car!!"

M1:  9:28
M2:  9:29
M3:  9:31
M4:  10:15
M5:  9:09
M6:  9:44
M7:  9:30
M8:  9:35
M9:  9:27
0.8:  7:22

Total:  9.8 Miles
Pace:  9:33

After I returned home, Alex was ready and waiting for his 1.3 miler.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Transitioning

Last TIR taught me to run in the dark.  Before that event, I rarely ran at night.  Darkness was not a comfortable place to be.  But night running has it's own benefits.  There are less distractions so you tend to concentrate on your form and breathing.  There is also comfort in the darkness.   OK, now I'm contradicting myself.  So anyway, Before TIR = no night running, After TIR = night running.  I'd like to thank Jay Hilscher for that discovery.

There are many things I am grateful for in my life.  At this very moment, I am grateful that I am not running the last leg.  It was a great honor and privilege to run the last leg last year.  The feeling of finally finishing the event after 30 odd hours is pretty cool.  You see the monument get closer and closer (although it seemed to taunted me during the entire last leg).  However, the pressure not to fail or slow down is pretty intense.  At this point on the journey, your stamina is shot, you are sleep deprived, haven't eaten properly, haven't slept much, is stinky, is crabby and overdosed on Red Bull.  You feel the surge of euphoria and energy at the on set of the last leg only to crash and burn about mile or two into the run.  I remember calling out for a gel as my van cheered me on for the last time.  What fun memories.

What has any of this got to do with tonight's run?  Not much except that I enjoyed tonight's night run.

M1:  9:08
M2:  9:01
M3:  9:04
M4:  9:08
0.12:  0:59

Distance:  4.12
Pace:  9:05
Shoes:  Asics Gel-Kayano 14 (34.6 miles)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

6 Miler Recovery From Soccer

I'd never thought I needed a recovery run from soccer.  But I did.  Last night was our final game of the winter season and it could not have come sooner for me.  All that sprinting and abrupt vector changes were wreaking a havoc on the joints.  During the last two games, I became increasingly sluggish.  So to shake off my stiff joints, I went for a nice easy 6 miler from the Y.  A course that took me south on Gosling, east on Lake Woodlands, over the bridge (part of 10 for Texas course) all the way to the stop light, turn around and return.  Half way through, I ran out of day light and was pretty much running in the dark.  Best part was running over the bridge, with street lights, lights reflecting off the lake and heaven studded with stars, it was a pretty amazing sight.  Some part of this run was in near complete darkness and I was hoping that no errant debris was laying in wait for me to roll my ankle in.  Turned out to be another great training run for the TIR.

Tonight, I ran in my trusty Asics Kayanos.  Just so it won't get too jealous of my Pearl Izumis...

Distance:  6 Miles
Time:  57:16
Pace:  9:33
Calories:  785 kcal
Shoes:  Asics Gel-Kayano 14 (30.5 miles)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Training for Texas Independence Relay

I told my team captain that I'll maintain 9 minute pace.  So I've been concentrating on tempo runs just under that pace for the past 2 weeks.  From last year's experience, maintaining pace during the first day is not hard.  It is during the night and the following day when fatigue sets in that you have problems.  These are also the self doubting times.  "Why am I running at 3 AM in the middle of southeast Texas with a mace, blinkers and Red Bull?  "This was fun for about 12 hours.  Now?  What are we doing now.  We still have about 90 miles to go and Houston lights are no where to be seen."  But then you see the exchange point and your teammates and your energy level soars.  Content that you finished your leg, glad you did not let your team down.

Normally, I wouldn't run 3 days in a row but I took today off to be with the kids.  So not wanting to let a free day go to waste and not wanting to waste a 40 something temperature, I laced on my new Pearl Izumi's and headed for a nice 4 miler.

M1:  9:12
M2:  8:57
M3:  9:01
M4:  8:49
0.12:  1:00

Pace:  8:59
Distance:  4.12 Miles
Shoes:  Pearl Izumi SyncroInfinity (9.4 miles)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alex, Allison, Hunter & Me

Day 4 of Alex's 5K training.  He ran easier today than yesterday.  I'm trying to slow him down to concentrate on distance rather than speed.  Plus trying not to burn him out.  Allison couldn't loiter at our speed and so she took off.  The dog tried to run after Allison but alas, the leash would not let him.  Yesterday, he pooped during the run, at one point, I was running with leash in one hand and poop bag on the other.  That must have been pretty interesting.

Winning points from my teenager:  Allison commented today that my Pearl Izumi's looked pretty cool.  Not sure what that means but I'll take any compliments from a teenager as being good.  Unless she was making me feel a little better after having finagled a pair of Under Armour running shoes from me last Friday.

Run Summary:

1.2 miles:  11:26
Pace:  9:33

First Run With Pearl Izumi SyncroInfinity

Alex and I were supposed to do our 1.2 mile run at 7 AM.  I peeked into his room but he was still deep in his dream world.  So I decided to do a slow recovery run from yesterday's 5K race.  Before I could go out though, I fiddled around with the Syncro's laces to get them just right.  The shoe didn't give me a "snug" feel but not wanting to waste too much time, I opened the garage door and ... hesitated.  It was drizzling in the cold grey drizzle kind of way.
5 seconds later, I'm standing outside, waiting for Garmin to synchronize with satellites.  After all, I was all dressed up for a run and didn't want to waste it.  Shoes looked cool.  It doesn't look like anything I've worn before.  Once I got going, the shoes felt fine.  After about half a mile, they felt like they fitted me much more snuggly than the Kayano's.  The cushioning and support felt good also.  Of course, this isn't very hard to do when the shoes is new and you're only running a 4 mile route but never the less, a good start.
The drizzle never let up and on certain directions, I had a full frontal breeze that cut into your bones.  Thank goodness the temps were not that low and I was building up enough body heat.

Run Summary:
Mile 1:  9:29
Mile 2:  9:27
Mile 3:  9:07
Mile 4:  9:00
0.12:  1:01 (8:33 Pace)

Pace:  9:15
Shoes:  Pearl Izumi SyncroInfinity (4.12 miles)

Nice short negative splitting easy run.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pearl Izumi SyncroInfinity


I received a pair of these puppies in the mail the other day.  A gift from folks at Pearl Izumi.  The only thing they want in return is for me to try them out and review it.  So, for tomorrow, I'm going to lace these beauties and go for a run.  If they feel good, I'll take them with me on the Texas Independence Relay.

From appearance perspective, they look radically different from my regular Asics Kayano's.  I'm looking forward to seeing if the cool looks also translate into cool running.
(Wow, 3 posts in one day.... What's up with that?)

RTW 5K - Valentine's Day Edition

After completing the Alex run, I rushed over to RTW 5K for some speed training.  I made it with 5 minutes to spare.  While standing around at the starting area,  said Hi to a runner standing next to me.  He happened to be Mike Lukas, the owner of Luke's Locker.  He introduced me to his whole family.  His wife and his two kids were also running the race.  That was pretty cool.  Running Store owner who's whole family runs.  He was very gracious and approachable.  Dude standing to the other side of me was Evan Guy.  Our blogging and FB regular guy dude.  Evan was there with 2 dogs.  Although, at the end of the race, he only had one dog with him.  I wonder what happened.  I think today was also the first RTW race where I came in before Evan.  But I suspect, that was due to an issue with one of his dogs.  Before the start of the race, I saw our trail pro and regular dirt runner, Mr. Cook.  He looked as healthy as one can be despite running 100 miles the previous weekend in Huntsville.

How was my race?  The excitement at the start caused me to literally "sprint" around the parking lot.  I noticed my pace on the Garmin register 6:04.  I don't think I ever ran that fast...ever.  What the heck was I trying to do?  Crazy.  Anyway, I let off the gas and cruised comfortably in 8 something pace for the rest of the way.
Weather:  Perfection - 50 something with low humidity
Time:  24:44
Pace:  7:59
Mile 1:  7:39
Mile 2:  8:17
Mile 3:  8:16
0.1:  0:32
There was a big group today.  Suzie Schrieber brought her Luke's group with her.  There was also a walking group.  I'm glad this 5K keeps perpetuating itself.  It is so close to home and cheap that I can't believe how lucky I am to be so close to it.
After the run, I saw Jim Braden.  I congratulated him for his recent age group wins.  I told him that I shall call him Master O B Wan for now and if he keeps winning when he turns 80, that I shall change his title to Master Yoda.  Jim started running when he was 39 so I still have hope and aspiration to be like him when I'm 70 something.
Last but not least, The Woodland's other running fixture, Debbie Tripp was there running the course.

Alex & Me (& wife & daughter & dog)

Saturday morning, 6:45 AM, house was quiet as it can be, not even the dog was up.  Well by 7, everyone was up and wanted to go out for a run including the dog.  Today was Alex's 3rd training day and we were going to put 10% increase in his distance.  That came out to 1.2 miles.
Inspired by Alex, the whole family came out to run.
1.2 Miles:  11:55 (9:57 Pace)
Alex's breathing was much better than last week.  His pacing was also more constant.  I think he is warming up to the goals and pacing of running.
Allison said the pacing was too slow so she took off on her own and posted a 6 something pace for 2 miles on her new Under Armour Spectre she convinced me to buy her last night.
Mom did fine.  So did the dog, except it decided to poop half mile into the run and I had to stop, scoop and then sprint to catch up with Alex.

Next Alex Run:  Sunday morning at 7.  Another 1.2 miles.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

31 hours with 11 other sweaty folks

Yup.  Texas Independence Relay is almost upon us.  Which I'm sure would count as some kind of social behavioral experiment since 6 folks share cramped quarters of a van while being sleep deprived, sweaty stinky and eating funky food.  All the while looking for relay exchange points. Why do we pay to do this?  Because we're Americans!  That's what we do.

More TIR training.  Tonight's run almost wasn't but the beauty of blogs and Facebook is that once you say you're going to do something, it is hard to back out less Karen calls you a lazy wimp.

Mile 1:  8:45
Mile 2:  8:39
Mile 3:  9:16
Mile 4:  8:57
Mile 5:  8:58
Mile 6:  8:54
0.1:  0:53

Overall:  8:55 Pace
Calories Burnt:  786
Shoes:  20.2 miles on Asics Kayano 14

Tomorrow night:  Soccer match!

Wow, blogging 2 nights in a row...  Duuuuude!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Training for TIR

Short distance runs are cool because I don't bonk in those.  This year, all I need to do is better than 9 minute pace to satisfy my captain.  With that in mind, last night's run was perfect.

Mile 1:  8:35
Milw 2:  8:58
Mile 3:  9:18
Mile 4:  9:02
0.1 mile:  1:00

8:59 pace - I slacked in the 3rd mile - too deep in some thought.

2 blog posts in one day?  What's up with that?

Running With Alex

Alex, my 11 year old son decided that he didn't much like of any sport offered at Jr. High he will be attending this fall.  So for P.E., he elected Cross Country Running as his choice.  I guess he was thinking, "how hard could it be?  Dad runs and runs..."  He's currently going through allergy shots as he is allergic to various pollen and stuff but he has asked me to get him fit enough to run a 5K distance without walking by the start of next school year.  (Jr. High X-Country is 2 miles?) So this weekend, we officially started his running.

We ran 1.1 mile on Saturday at 9:45 pace and 1.1 on Sunday at 9:58 pace.  Since his mom wouldn't let him run during weekdays (dad comes home too late for day light) we will be running weekend mornings only for a while.  We have set Muddy Trails 5K as his goal and debut race (April something).  But based on 10% increases in his distance weekly, I think we might also make the second RTW 5K in March.  This will be cool.  Once he puts on a bib, I think he'll get hooked.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Perfection in Running Shoes

I am not perfect.  My shoes on the other hand always gets me to the finish line, no matter the weather, no matter the distance, it has always finished what it started.  This is perfection.