Monday, May 30, 2011

Another 10 miler, another PR

"In running, it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners
are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability with
brain and heart to master himself and his emotions."
                                               - Glenn Cunningham

Yesterday the Wingman and I made our way out to Long Beach for the 10 Mile Trophy Run. I was up at 4:30a getting ready to race. We had a long day ahead of us and I was already plotting when I could catch a nap. We left the house at 5:30a and got into Long Beach around 7a. The check in was smooth and we went back to the car to get ready. I was looking forward to this course knowing it was flat as a pancake. I felt rested and ready to go. 

We headed down to the starting line and I kept my focus on running my race. I wasn't concerning myself with the others in the race. I had a time goal in mind and was figuring out my pacing in my head. We had great weather for the start of the race. It was a little warm, but the skies were overcast keeping the sun at bay. It would be a race against the weather. The more running I can do under the overcast sky the better I would do at meeting my goal. 

Something caught my eye near the starting line. A guy was walking nearby eating Hostess cupcakes. He was wearing a race number. I thought it was an odd pre-race food choice, especially 10 minutes before the start. All I was focused on now was if he was to finish ahead of me, I was going to give up running. If I can't beat a guy eating cupcakes, what's the point of running. Or I would start eating cupcakes before each race.

The gun went off and I made my way down the road. I had studied the race map the day before and knew the early part of the race would be mentally tough. It was 3 miles of straightaway (miles 2-5). The pace I started out at felt easy and when I got to the 1st mile marker, I looked at my pace. I was 45 seconds too fast. Crap. OK, stay focused and slow it down. If I can control it early enough, it won't haunt me in the later miles.

When I ran along mile 2 I thought I smelled a familiar smell. I breathed in again and recognized it. Bacon!! Oh no. I immediately thought of the Wingman. If I could smell the bacon I knew he would smell it. I worried that he would seek out the source of the smell and not finish the race (or at least finish it with bacon grease on his shirt). When I got to mile 2, I saw my pace was still 45 seconds too fast. Now I knew I was in trouble. The fast miles would probably bite me in the ass later, especially when the sun was coming out.

After the mile 2 marker, we made our way up the ramp to the boardwalk. The next 3 miles are on the boardwalk along the ocean. After about 3/4 of a mile I was eager to get off the boardwalk. I don't care who you are, but 3 miles in direction is boring and requires a dose of Adderall to get through it. I would look over at the ocean a little, but then down the boardwalk. I couldn't even make out where it ended. This was the never ending boardwalk. I was starting to plot the early end of my race when I saw something ahead that caught my eye. It was the Cupcake Man!! He took off at the start and I lost sight of him early, but now there he was ahead of me. I didn't pick up my pace, I just focused on not losing time.

After a while we were finally off the boardwalk (or as I now call it boredwalk). At this point quitting was becoming an serious thought. The sun was coming out, I was slowing down and overheating. The community does a nice job supporting the race. People setup tables in front of their homes and handing out water. I grabbed cups and poured them over my head and down my back. It worked a little but the humidity made the air thick and hard to breathe. Around mile 6 I was thinking if I saw the block my car was parked on I would bail on the race and wait at the car. Until I had an emotional pick-me-up. Some little kid ~1.5-2 years old was running in the opposite direction and next thing I knew I heard him wailing. He face planted on the concrete. Oddly enough I started to smile and it lifted my spirits a little. Soon enough, I passed the Cupcake Man. Now I had to put some distance between us.

But it didn't last long. I was sinking again. The straightaways were killing me. I wanted some short blocks with turns to break it up. I also noticed that my left achilles tendon felt like it was on fire. Every step was agony. Being the neurotic fool I am I kept thinking "this is it, I am about to have a full blown tear of my achilles tendon." But no, I looked back and saw red all over the back of my running shoe. I wear a low profile sock and this one dropped even lower on my heel. Now the back of my shoe was rubbing me raw and I was bleeding into my shoe. I could stop and fix the sock and lose precious time to my PR quest or keep running. So I kept running.

When I rolled through mile 8, I knew there wasn't much time left in the race. I decided at mile 9 to pickup the pace. Good thing as the Cupcake Man was coming up on me. I dropped the pace to create some distance. Soon I could see the finish line ahead. I was running, but it felt like I wasn't moving. My legs were heavy and tired. There was no kick today. 

I finally crossed the finish line 4 minutes faster than my previous 10 mile PR. If the weather was cooler, I could have gone faster, but I did what I could with the hand I was dealt. I was completely soaked. This was a hard race physically and mentally. I thought about quitting a few times during the run, but I knew I would regret it if I didn't finish. 

My running times are coming down, but there is still a lot of work to be done. My times are still slow but hopefully when the weather cools again this fall, I will see more PR's coming my way.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bike fitpalooza

So I had the good fortune of observing some bike fittings today. The other day I had asked Sinead if I could tag along and watch her do some Retul bike fits. A few weeks ago she tweaked my bike fit using this system and I wanted to get a closer look at it.

Turns out she had 3 fittings scheduled today. When I arrived in Sag Harbor she was about to start the first one. I could identify many changes that would need to be made, but the great thing about the Retul system is it gives you great dynamic measurements to give you quick feedback about the changes you made. Some fitters use DartFish software, but you need to capture video, draw lines, measure angles, etc. Retul uses sensors on the body to take all those measurements for you. In the span of 6 hours, she went through 3 bike fits.

I'm grateful that Sinead let me swing by and 'help out'. When I left, I felt pretty good about my ability to see various movements on the bike and identify, most of the time, what corrections needed to be made.

This morning I went out early to get my ride in so I could get to Sag Harbor this afternoon. I was supposed to do a brick workout, but my Achilles tendon has been a little cranky this week. I felt some pain Wednesday when I started my run but it went away after ~1/2 mile. Of course afterwards it came back so I treated it at work and took it easy. I decided to skip my Thursday run to give it another day of rest. I could have tried to run through it, but I would rather take a day or two off and let it heal rather than have it flare up more. I knew if it got worse I would lose more than 2 days of running. It would be more like 2 weeks. And the reality is I wouldn't lose any fitness by taking a few days off from running. I took some ibuprofen last night and woke up feeling good this morning. I decided to just complete my ride and skip the run portion of the workout. I have a long run scheduled tomorrow so I wanted just one more day of rest. When I get up tomorrow, we'll see how I feel, but as of right now I should be able to get out to run. Hopefully it won't be too humid out there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's up with the headlines?

So rumor has it the end of the world is coming this weekend. I guess that's good news for me. I won't have to worry about a little rain or humidity getting in the way of my run. Just the 'rapture' that is coming. And anyone that knows me knows that I'm not on the 'A' list for getting past the red velvet ropes for access to Jesus so I will still be around, I think. Hmm, so maybe I do have to run in the heat after all. Drats!

The last few days we've had some crazy news stories:

  • Apparently Osama likes porn.
  • 'The Governator' fathered a child 10 years ago with his family staff worker and we are 'anxiously' awaiting to see if Maria Shriver will talk to Oprah about it. Because somehow someone somewhere made Oprah the queen and we have to buy whatever she says we should buy. She has zeroed in on the fact that people are sheep and will do whatever she says.
  • Wynn informed me yesterday that Justin Bieber got a tattoo. Seriously, who is this Justin Bieber fool and how is he newsworthy?
  • Kids are starting drugs at much younger ages. I never had such cool toys to play with.
  • If you have a body to dump, Long Island is the place to do it. 
The rain is showing no signs up letting up. This really puts a crimp in my training this week. I would love to get out and ride/run but it looks like I'm stuck indoors. I should swim tonight but I really don't feel like leaving the house. But I really should go, otherwise I've shaved my legs for nothing.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Damn you, humidity.....

That's pretty much what I looked like post-run today. In my earlier post I thought I would be stuck inside on the treadmill, but the weather cleared up enough that I could get out. As soon as I stepped out the door I knew I was in trouble. The air was so thick from the humidity that it was hard to breathe. I had my 10 mile route planned out and set out on my course. It consists of a 4 mile loop and then 3 miles out and 3 miles back back. By the time I hit the 4 mile mark I was soaked and my legs were heavy. Breakfast, which was eaten 3 hours prior to the run, was threatening to come up. 

My legs were moving, but I had no control over them. I begged them to go faster, but they would not listen. Someone must have snuck in last night and filled them with lead. The snap I had yesterday was gone. Vanished. Someone call 911, my speed was stolen!!!

There was nothing I could do. My workout goals went out the window and I figured just get the miles in as that was better than nothing. 

I made my way home and stood at the bottom of the driveway looking up. It's not much of a hill, but it took some encouragement to walk up it. I was done for the day. I stood with my hands on my hips staring at the house. I was worried my neighbors would come out and "put me down" if they saw what I looked like.

I'm feeling better now and I've been hydrating all afternoon. It's going to take a little time to catch up on fluids but I know I will sleep like a baby tonight. I'd better, tomorrow is a looooong day.

Rain, Rain go away

Yesterday I had some great weather for my ride. I woke up early, hit the bathroom and sat on the couch and almost immediately fell asleep again. It's a tough 15' walk down the hall to the living room and sometimes I need a recovery nap.....

I didn't nap for long though. I got up and changed for my workout of the day. I grabbed my bike and bottles and rode off on my two hour loop. A few weeks ago Wingman and I did this loop in 2:10 and I think it was mainly because of the winds. Saturday was a calm weather day and I took advantage of it. I was flying out of the gates. The pedaling seemed effortless and I was worried that I wasn't riding hard enough. I looked down at my power numbers and the watts were a little higher than previous rides and so was the speed. Even riding the small rollers on the road seemed easier too. Of course being the pessimist I am, I kept thinking that I would hit the wall soon.

Things were going smoothly until I got near Middle Island. Some old broad with her white hair pulled her mini-wagon over in front of me on the shoulder. She didn't cut me off, but she pulled in front of me as I was approaching I could not get around her. She was just sitting in the car. I was afraid to go around on her left because I feared she would pull out and hit me. So I stopped behind her and knocked on her rear window and yelled "LET'S GO ALREADY!! YOU'RE BLOCKING THE SHOULDER!!!"  She pulled out and started driving again. Drivers out there have no concept of anyone else on the road.

Once she left I started riding again. I was nearing the turn to head north. Even CR21 seemed like a breeze today. Before I knew it I was up at 25A and ready to head home. The ride home is great because of the nice wide shoulders on the road. I can relax a little bit but still put the hammer down. At this point I was heading south (same direction the 'wind' was coming from) and it was easy. I think there was just a slight breeze, but it didn't slow me down.

The rest of the ride was uneventful until I pulled up to a stop sign ~3 miles from home. I looked across the road at another cyclist stopping at the sign. I thought "hmm, he looks familiar" and then realized it was Wynn. The odds of us rolling to a stop at the same time was freaky. I knew I should have played the lottery last night.....

We stopped for a few minutes to compare workouts and to checkout his new ride. This season he is riding a new tri bike he had built up over the winter. The frame is made by Blue and it looks sharp. He had his nice wheels on. I still have my welfare rear wheel on the Beast. I think in another week I will put my good wheel (clincher, not tubular) back on. Since it looks like rain most of the week I will probably be on the trainer again so no use in swapping wheels yet.

Wynn and I bid farewell and I finished the ride home. I had a brick workout on the schedule so I quickly changed my shoes, grabbed a last swig of my drink and headed out the door for a 30 minute run. My legs were so heavy that the first 5 minutes felt like 15. But it wasn't long after that when my running legs came around. The running felt easier and before I knew it, my GPS signaled that I was one mile in. My pace was pretty fast for having just rode 2:05. The second mile was just about as fast as the first one. I was already heading home and I heard the watch beep. Somehow I lost my GPS signal. So now the clock had been ticking and no mileage was calculated so that means my third mile was recorded as pretty slow. Once I got the signal back I made up for lost time. I was flying the last half mile. By the time I got home I calculated that I ran for ~1 minute with no GPS signal. Overall I was happy with the run.

I got inside, had a quick snack and took a shower. I made lunch and sat on the couch to eat it. As soon as I finished eating I was out like a light. I woke up about 45 minutes later with my plate still in my lap.

I woke up and took a drive to my folks house and we went out to dinner. From there I went to Whole Foods to pick up a few things.

This morning I have a 10 mile run scheduled but the weather is just not cooperating. It is raining on and off and I am trying to figure out when to run. If it was maybe 10 degrees warmer I wouldn't hesitate to get out and run in the rain, but then again the idea of blisters on my feet from wet shoes is not very inviting. So it looks like I will cap my workout with just an hour run on the treadmill and then ride the trainer later to flush it out. The rest of the week looks like a washout too.

On the bright side, the Wingman and I are officially signed up for the Army 10 Miler in October. This will be our 4th year running it. It's a great race and the Army does a great job hosting it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Holy Hills, Batman......

Yesterday was my 2nd time running The Bench 5K. Last year I ran this race not knowing what the course was like. I knew it had a hill in it, but that was it. Turns out it has several hills. Two in particular stand out. The first one comes up less than 1/2 mile into the race and the 2nd hill comes around the 2 mile mark. Last year it also rained near the end of the run. I had a tough time on the course last year due to the hills, but this year I am a different runner and I was curious to see how I would do.

Fast forward one year to yesterday. I pulled out my lightweight running shoes for this one. The Wingman and I drove out to the race and went to check in. There were so many people that signed up by the time we checked in they only had XL and XXL shirts left. I bumped into a few of my professors along the way. It was also a first time 5K for my friend Tracy. She brought a friend down to run with her. Tom and his two friends came down as well. I briefed everyone on what I remembered about the course, but it turns out my memory of the course was not entirely accurate.

We started in the first 3rd of the pack. I didn't want to get caught in people traffic. My strategy for a 5k is to just go out and hang on. There is no such thing as trying to hit a target pace for each mile. When the horn went off, I was heading down the road. I think it's a very slight downhill because it felt easy to run off the line. I could see Tom ahead of me and the distance between us wasn't changing. I didn't look down to see my pace, but I knew it was fast if I was running Tom's pace. I knew he would lose me by the first turn and that first turn came a little sooner than I remembered. As soon as I turned BAM!!, the first hill was in my face. It was a little steeper than I remembered. I knew I would take it easy and just make my way up it - no walking allowed. My arms grew heavy as I climbed up. As soon as I reached the top I breathed a sigh of relief that it was done. Only to look ahead and realize we had more climbing ahead. I took advantage of the downhills to get some time back. I just wanted to get through the hills because there were flats coming ahead.

Once I got into the flat section I opened it up a little more. The sun was out and it was warming quickly. They had an aid station halfway through so I grabbed a cup to pour down my back and take a swig to clear my mouth. Right after the aid station, we made a turn and I could see the next big hill. This hill was more brutal than the 1st series of hills. This one just kept going, and going, and going. It had to be almost 3/4 of a mile long. My only focus was to make it to the downhill prior to the finish line. I kept plugging away at the hill. My arms and legs grew heavy. I was turning myself inside-out, outside-in, and then inside-out again to keep going. My heart was beating in my throat. The crest of the hill finally came. I used the momentum of the downhill to pick up my pace. I made the final turn and had tunnel vision on the finish line. I was pleased with my finishing time on a course that hard.

I looked over my paces and the first two miles were fast and the wheels came off for the last mile. I have something to work on for next year. Without a doubt, I will be back for that race. The improvements they made from last year for the pre/post race festivities were great. The finish line was moved out into the road and the back lot of the bar was used for the food. Whatever organization donated the food did a great job. They had hero sandwiches, bagels, fruit, hot dogs, beer, water, sport drinks, and if you hunted it down, they had ice cream too!! There was a live band playing too. But most importantly, the proceeds were going towards a pediatric oncology charity.

Today Wingman and I will head out for a long bike ride and the weather looks great. I think the wind will cooperate for this ride. Got my fingers crossed.........

Monday, May 2, 2011

Where does the time go?

The weeks keep flying by and I feel like I am in autopilot mode. I have a routine I follow and that seems to get me through the day. My clinical takes up a good chunk of my time. It's not just time spent in the office, but time at home prepping/reading/researching etc. On top of that, I have been swimming/biking/running too. I had to write up my last midterm evaluation. My CI and I sat down last week and reviewed them together. We were pretty much on the same page with feedback about my performance. There are some things that just take time and experience to improve, but otherwise I am ahead of where I need to be right now.

I think I can say the same about my cycling. I remember this time last year I was not riding as well as I am right now. Not that I'm riding like a superstar right no, I feel better in the saddle earlier in the season. This week proved to be a challenging week. I was out Tuesday and Friday afternoon for a workout and man did I work out. The winds were not kind to me. I try to check the weather before I head out so I can plan what direction I am riding in. I usually head out into the wind and return home with the wind. Tuesday I had a crosswind to contend with. I couldn't get down into the aerobars as the wind was blowing me all around. Friday was a little bit better, bit it was still hell going out. My workouts were calling for intervals, but it felt more like a steady effort. There really wasn't a chance to 'ease up' on the ride. I just kept thinking how it will make me a better/stronger rider.

Saturday, Wingman and I went out for our long ride. I looked at the forecast and planned a nice route. It wasn't too long. We covered ~38 miles. I focused on keeping my legs moving throughout the ride and making sure I nail my nutrition. I know if I go too long without calories, I can get pretty ugly:

After a long ride last year.........

I'm working out a new nutrition strategy this year. The stuff I used last year was failing me over the winter so I have been changing things up. I can feel my energy levels staying steady over the course of the ride. When I am done with the ride I am pooped, but it's the normal end of ride fatigue, not a feeling of exhaustion.

Sunday morning I went out for my long run. My legs were a little heavy after the long ride on Saturday. I was spoiled all winter running on legs that weren't so beat up. But I know this season I am further along with my running fitness than I was last year at this time. I plodded along and finished the run ~10 seconds slower per mile than I ran the previous weeks. Hopefully it was just an anomaly and not a sign of things to come. I shudder to think that as it gets warmer I will get slower until the fall comes around again. I excel in 30-40 degree temperatures so once we get over 50, all bets are off.

I hit the pool this week. I went down to the masters swim group and was working hard. The workout for the night was a heavy kicking workout. I hate kicking. Especially when he wants us to use kickboards. All it does is create havoc for my SI joint so I skip the kickboard and the coach on the deck gives me other things to do. Usually I have different drills I do. In a few more weeks they will be swimming outdoors. My first outdoor swim is in early June and hopefully the water will be a decent temperature.

Today is a rest day for me and tomorrow I have some hill work to do. Hopefully my legs won't fall off.....