Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Whoa There, Cowboy!

First of all, I hope you're enjoying the holidays, and eating plenty of "running fuel," as I like to call it. Interpret that as you will.

In reference to the title of the post, I recently had both a breakthrough and a setback all in the same run. This was a week ago Tuesday (Dec. 20th), when I set out on my weekly "long" run. Up to that point, 5 miles was as far as I had ventured. On this day, as I finished 5 and still felt fresh and without any sign of injury-related pains, I continued for another mile, to record my longest run since August of 2010 (when I ran 12 miles, then went on a very long-term disabled list).

I posted with excitement on Daily Mile how great it felt to run 6 miles. Sure, it's only a mile longer than the 5 I had been doing, but in my mind it was a mini breakthrough; being nearly a 10k.

Well, it didn't take long for the repercussions to appear. My lower right Achilles tendon was very sore for several days. I went for a "dog jog" the next day, then a 5k run last Thursday (the first 2 miles very slowly w/my daughter, with a still slow 3rd mile), during which I felt pretty lifeless. My breathing issues were still a problem (I really think I have allergies related to our dog. Guess I need to get tested). The ache persisted, so I skipped my Saturday morning club run.

I walked the neglected pup on Christmas night, after which my right knee really acted up. What the heck?! Any running "mojo" I felt I had gained from my 6-miler was completely gone.

Yesterday I struggled through what should have been an easy 45 minute spin on the trainer. Ugh. Today, I decided to see if I could sneak some fast half miles into a 4-miler. After a warmup mile, I ran three hard half miles (3:33, 3:30, 3:27) followed by 3 easy half miles after each one. It was tough, but I felt pretty good, in terms of breathing and body aches.

Lesson? Stay the course for now, by which I mean don't try adding more distance just yet. And when I start feeling run down, ease up. This whole process of "coming back" as a runner looks like it will be a very long-term process. That's okay, though. I've got plenty of time, Lord willing ;-)

Monday, December 19, 2011


I'm sheepishly admitting to a 9-day running streak (as of now), even though my mileage during this streak is quite low. Several of those runs have been what I call "Dog Jogs" (running with my nearly 5-month old lab pup), which I keep short — no farther than 1.5 miles currently. So my mileage over these 9 days is a paltry 21.5. My intent isn't to put together a streak just for the sake of a streak. I've never been a "streaker" as a runner. My record is 19 days in a row for 117.5 miles. Not a lot of consecutive running days, from the perspective of people who sometimes run months (or years) without missing a day. My intent is three-fold. I want to see if my body can handle more frequent, albeit short, running. I want to see if this short, frequent running will have a positive effect on my fitness. And, probably more importantly, I want to give my puppy some good exercise (and start training him to be a running partner).

I doubt the "streak" will last long, as we'll be doing some traveling during the holidays. But I'll probably continue with this general approach as long as I can, since I've been feeling good while doing it.

If I don't post again in the next week, here's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Candy Cane Dash 5k

Well. If there was ever a race I shouldn't have run, it was this one. I last ran this race in 2003, when there were 405 finishers. Today, there were 30 or 40. When I showed at 8:00am for day-of-race sign up, they told us that the start time had been changed from 9:00am to 10:00am because one of the volunteers was going to be late (huh?). It's sad to see a formerly vibrant race die a sad death.

I decided to wear my new Brooks Launch (the old red and orange model. They're new, but sitting in a box in my garage for over a year), instead of my new Pure Flow; partially because of a tweak behind my left knee (thanks to a lot of jumping in my latest video) and thanks to multiple suggestions from my friend (and running conscience) Mark U. I'll do a few more short runs in them before I run a race in them. It was chilly, so I layered up with a couple of long-sleeve tech shirts under my Brooks racing singlet, and went with tights and compression socks down below.

One thing that made me a bit uncomfortable is the stereotype I seem to portray; especially at these small races. I'm decked out in Brooks pro race gear, so I look fast. I've also got the bodytype of a fast runner. The thing is...right now, anyway...I'm NOT FAST. But while waiting for the race to start, I could feel lots of eyes on me that seemed to be saying, "oh, this guy must be going for the win," or "what's HE doing here at our little race?" Boy, were THEY in for a letdown!

Once the race began, I realized that, for the most part, the course was unmarked and unmanned. There were 3 or 4 volunteers out on the course, but due to the winding nature (going up and down side streets, through wooded trails, etc.), there was no way to know where to go unless you knew the course, or could stay close enough to someone in front of you who did. I succeeded in keeping up with a high school cross-country runner (girl) so I wouldn't get off course. I've had trouble all week with my breathing — partially due to a chest cold, and partially due to the lousy air quality here (which I'm pretty sensitive to, it turns out). Thankfully, the above-mentioned soreness behind my knee wasn't an issue during the race (although it's tender as I write this). What was an issue are the measly 12 miles per week I've been running...with no speed work...and this being my first race (aside from pacing my daughter) in 15 months. With that said, my game plan was to go out at 7:30, run mile 2 at 7:20, then bring it home with whatever was left. I ended up going out at 7:25 and ran mile 2 also in 7:25, splitting the difference (unusual consistency for me). As I neared the finish, I could tell the course was significantly short. I ran what turned out to be the last .92 in 7:06 pace (7:19 pace for the whole race). I did push myself but, with the breathing issues, I didn't want to go too deep into the pain cave.

It's a shame it was a short course, as I can't compare the finishing time to other races. Using some math, it was equal to a 22:42 5k, which is just about what I ran in my 5k time trial a couple of weeks ago. At least I have a bit of a benchmark to go by when I run my next race in January.

But skipping this particular race wouldn't have been a bad idea, in hindsight.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Minimalist Running Debate: The Ultimate Revelation

Thank You Brooks!

I'm still hoping I didn't receive the confirmation by mistake, but I'm thrilled to be a part of the Brooks Inspire Daily program for a third straight year. Yes, even middle-age, slow, semi-injured runners are eligible, apparently.

I started wearing Brooks shoes & gear in the mid-90's (if you don't count my first pair of running shoes in middle school, circa 1978), and would still be wearing them exclusively today even without the sponsorship. I believe in their products that much.

If you haven't yet given them a spin, please do. I'm fortunate to live just up the road from their headquarters (and their outlet store), and enjoy volunteering at their bi-annual clearance sales. I learn more about their products each time.

Even though 2012 will be primarily a 5k-focused year for me, as I try to rebuild from injury, I'll be out there happily and proudly decked out in Brooks shoes & apparel for yet another year.

Run Happy, folks!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a pretty sentimental and nostalgic person. Maybe the time of year has me feeling more this way. With that said, it probably comes as no surprise that I feel a touch of sadness when I retire a pair of running shoes. Go ahead, challenge my Man Card status. But remember — I have a wife and two daughters, so I'm outnumbered hormonally and influenced estrogenally (I think I just created a new word).

Yes, my very first pair of Brooks Launch are now officially retired. They carried me for 306 miles of memorable running, including several half marathons (one of them being a PR), many long runs and tempo runs, and one 22 mile pacing adventure during a 50-mile ultra. Throw in some track sessions and a 5-mile race PR (the day before that 22-miler) and you can see why I'm nostalgic and a bit verklempt about pulling these babies from my current rotation. Or maybe you can't. And I'm okay with that.

 The end of their "run" was Saturday's 5k with my daughter (and frequent running partner this year) Natalie. At least it was a fitting and memorable end. A "Launch Retirement Party" is forthcoming.

But fear not! I have in stock one more pair of my favorite running shoes of all time (unless my new Brooks Pure Flow dethrone them), ready to pick up where the first trusty pair left off. And yes, they're the original red and orange color scheme (which I still prefer over the new bland colors).

Imelda Marcos, eat your heart out.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Race Photo

Natalie & Dad Finishing Toys for Tots 5k (12/3/11)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Toys for Tots 5k

I'm lazy, so I'm copying this from my Dailymile entry:

Well, on a chilly overcast morning, her streak of age group victories & PR's was broken...as they all are, eventually. A combination of too little training, breathing issues and recurring heel pain kept Natalie from running quite as fast as she wanted to. Right before the race, I asked her if she felt like pushing the pace. She said yes, so I put on my pacer hat once again. In hindsight, I should have backed off the pace when she started struggling a bit instead of encouraging her to push. Still, she ran a decent time and I'm proud of her. The field was quite large (for this race, anyway), so she "only" managed 4th in her age group (nothing to be ashamed of!) I'm not sure of the total number of runners yet (EDIT - see below). I'm considering running another local 5k next Saturday on my own. While I enjoy running with my daughter, I'm itching to air it out a little.

For those who are curious, the 5k I'm planning on running next Saturday (Dec. 10th) is the Candy Cane Dash, in Shoreline, WA. I ran this event in 2002 and 2003. It's a fun little race. While I have no delusions of running a fast time, I'd at least like to see where my fitness is at. Unlike today, I'll be wearing my Brooks Pure Flow, in what will be their racing debut. I'll likely post a shoe review shortly after.

Here are Natalie's numbers from the race:
Time - 27:53
Overall - 35 of 159
Age Group - 4 of 22
Women - 12 of 101