Wednesday, May 30, 2012

School Fun Run

I've posted quite a bit about my oldest daughter Natalie. For a change, I have a running-related story about my youngest daughter.

I actually ran a "double" yesterday. For my 2nd run, I ran with Lindsey at her school's Fun Run. They run on a quarter mile dirt track and carry a card that gets marked every time they complete a lap. We completed 8 laps in the time allowed (double what she ran without Dad last year). She did great & enjoyed it. I was glad to be able to run it with her.

It was entertaining to see how 4th graders — especially boys — shot off the line like they were running a sprint. Then, methodically (as planned), my daughter and I stalked them and picked them off one by one. She soundly beat most of the boys in her class. That's my girl!

No, no competitive nature in THIS family ;-)

Friday, May 25, 2012


I wouldn't be a good dad if I didn't share some photos of Natalie at her District Track Meet! We didn't take any of her 1600m race, so these are all from the 800m.

Start of the girls 7th grade 800m. You can feel the tension...

Around the 1st turn...

End of 1st lap in the 800m

One lap to go in the 2012 track season...
Finishing the 800, with a new PR!

All smiles after a successful District meet!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

District Track Meet

Natalie wrapped up her 7th grade track season this evening with a successful District meet. As she's done all season, she ran the 1600m and the 800m. In the 1600, she ran a 6:31 (tying her PR), finishing 4th among 7th grade girls, and in the 800, she ran a 3:01 (a 5-second PR), finishing 5th. In both races, she out-kicked other girls to finish where she did. In the 1600, she was in 7th place going into the final 100 meters. She engaged her now patented kick and pulled ahead of 3 other girls before crossing the line. Her finish in the 800 was similar. There were two girls well ahead of her with about 200m to go. One of them took off, but Natalie managed to reel in the other one and barely beat her at the line.

She was pleased with how her season went (as were her Mom and I!) She learned how to pace herself, running her own race and not getting sucked out too fast early on. She ran negative splits in the mile the last 3 meets and in the 800 the last two.

After a little break, she'll run a 5k with me (Run of the Mill, July 7th). She also expressed interest in running in some of the summer All-Comer's track meets (Shoreline Stadium, north of Seattle). She's already looking forward to 8th grade cross-country season, which will be here before we know it.

It's nice to at least have one successful runner in the family!


I'm currently in my second week of heart rate based aerobic training, and I've got to say...I'm digging it so far. It's actually difficult to run much slower than I'm accustomed to, but I think I'm adapting to it. I'm able to stay within my Zone 2 heart rate (115-125 bpm), and I don't feel beat up after a run. I will concede that my heel has been protesting just a bit. That's nothing new, unfortunately.

I'm making the commitment to follow through with this approach and see if I can gradually build back my aerobic base. Aside from a few 5k races, I'm going to eschew any speed or tempo work for the next few months. I've been reading several articles by Phil Maffetone, and a lot of what he says about aerobic heart rate training makes sense to me — especially as I'm trying to get beyond a stubborn injury.

Despite my "heart-on-my-sleeve" blog posts in the past, confessing my complete frustration with my body, and not-so-subtle hints that my days as a runner may be behind me, I'm going to forge ahead. I can't say that I'll be running marathons again, but running means too much to me to hang it up and call it a day, even after two-plus years of struggle.

So...slow, steady and gradual will be my keywords for the foreseeable future.

Along these lines, I'm in the process of writing another article for NW Runner Magazine. It'll focus on dealing with injuries, both physically and mentally. I'll be illustrating the article as well. Humor will be involved ;-) It will run in a fall issue.

Oh — tangent! My daughter Natalie will be running in her District meet this afternoon, wrapping up her 7th grade track season. As she has been all season, she'll be competing in the 1600m and the 800m. No matter how she does today, I'm extremely proud of how she's done this year. She made some big improvements. Now, if I can just get her to train over the summer...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Arlington Walk & Roll/Run 5k

Beautiful morning for a race! Sunny, low 50's.

I never thought I'd be happy with a 23:26 time in a 5k, but given that I'm running a total of 6-7 miles per week, I'm 17 lbs. over my race weight, and I'm still battling a perpetual heel injury, I'll gladly take it.

Wanted to run progressive splits and succeeded - 7:53, 7:37, 7:17, (6:58). Barely took 2nd in my age group (I think I passed 3rd place within the last mile), but would have won the group if they split it into 5-year segments. The last mile was tough for me. I was totally spent crossing the line.

I was 13 seconds slower than my January 5k time (when I was running just a little more), but I enjoyed this one a lot more.

I have a LOOONG way to go, but I'm hopefully that I can slowly rebuild my base and increase my fitness and, just maybe, race the way I'd like to again. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

PR's Dropping Like Flies

Natalie just wrapped up her last track meet before next Thursday's District meet. It was a HUGE success for her. She not only set two new PR's; she crushed them. She ran her best mile by 12 seconds, and her best 800m by 7 seconds. Here's how her season has looked so far:
  • Date         1600m     800m
  • Apr 25       6:45        3:15
  • May 2        6:57        3:14
  • May 9        6:43        3:13
  • May 16      6:31        3:06
Needless to say, she was excited. In the 1600, she was motivated to beat a fellow teammate who out-kicked her by a second last week. Today, Natalie got her revenge by about two feet at the line. Last week, she let her teammate get too big a lead in the 4th lap. Today, when her friend took off (with about 300m to go), Natalie stayed right with her, then threw down an impressive kick. She ran very nice negative splits in the process: 3:18/3:13. She was still spent by the time the 800 rolled around, yet managed to set a new PR in that race, too.

Consequently, that deconditioned 6:42 mile I ran at the track a couple of weeks ago has been soundly crushed by my 7th grade daughter. I hope I can give her something else to shoot for when I'm able. If she keeps going through high school, my old 5:01 mile may be in jeopardy. I sincerely hope it is!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Aerobically Speaking

What little running I've been doing lately has been a bit on the unstructured side. By that, I mean that I've been trying to force my body into running fast (i.e. intervals) without having any kind of mileage base.

I don't want to come across as being "Joe Expert" when it comes to running. Like all of us, I'm learning all the time — especially when it comes to my own body's response to running. But I will say this: having been a runner (off and on) since the late 1970's, I know that a skyscraper can't be built without a foundation. Fast running can't safely and effectively be developed without first building a base.

It's been obvious, if you've read any of my ramblings from earlier this year, that my heart hasn't been that much into running lately. The last two years have been incredibly frustrating for me. I've tried to build some kind of running program that will allow for improvement (or at least some semblance of a "return to form"), while not aggravating my perpetually injured heel. I somewhat cavalierly thought that I may be able to PR in the 5k this year, even while running limited mileage. Well, it appears that my version of "limited" is a bit TOO limited. At 45 years of age, my body doesn't want to bust out sub-7 minute miles while only recording 10 miles (or less) of running per week. Go figure.

Which brings me to the topic in the title of this post. I need to scrap the notion of speed (for the most part), and try to reconstruct my aerobic base. Today, I ran an easy 3.4 mile run (with my crazy dog) at a very slow pace. I wanted to see what it would take to keep my average heart rate within my Zone 2 (roughly 125-135 bpm). What an eye-opener! I had to run 10:17 per mile pace to do it. But I actually had fun doing it. I wasn't struggling (as I have been during recent runs), yet I felt like I accomplished something. I'd like to see if I can continue on this path and keep my heart rate low while gradually increasing my average pace. Kind of an informal Mark Allen/Phil Maffetone approach. I'll still run some 5k races (I have one coming up this weekend), but without the intent of gunning for a PR.

Even to a novice runner, this seems like common sense. And even though I've been a runner for 30+ years, I often need to take a step back and return to basics. Given my current physical limitations, this is one of those times.

And, for a change, I'm okay with it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bragging, cont'd.

Natalie's third track meet of the season yesterday was a success! Two more PR's for her. She shaved two seconds off her 1600m time, running a smart (i.e. negative splits) 6:43. She continued a steady pattern of running exactly one second faster per week in the 800 (3:13 yesterday, 3:14 last week, 3:15 the first meet). This was on a dirt track, as opposed to her first meet (and previous mile PR) on a rubberized asphalt track. Middle school track season up here is short (only 5 meets), so there's one more regular season meet next week, followed by the District meet. It looks like she'll make it to Districts.

I think I managed to light a bit of a fire under her. I went to the track myself last week to run a mile time-trial. Being unconditioned myself (not a slight to Natalie's times...I just used to be quite a bit faster), I knew I'd run somewhere in the neighborhood of what she's currently running. I managed a 6:42. Yesterday, she came within one second of that time. She hasn't admitted it, but I KNOW she wants to beat her old man. If she does, I'll have to see if I can give her more incentive. Maybe I'll run an 800 to give her something else to shoot for (assuming my old injuries don't take me down first). Unless I can make a full comeback to running, I'll be seeing nothing but the bottoms of her shoes before too long.