Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day 20k--a race to forget

Today was not my best day. I was terribly slow, especially at the end. I turned in some miles that were close to and slower than my marathon pace. Oh well, we can't always PR (although this was my first 20k so technically it was a PR); my pace was 26 seconds slower per mile than the North Trail Half Marathon two weeks ago. A lot of other bloggers have done a good job analyzing their good and bad races, so I'll make an attempt to understand what went wrong today:

1. Too much racing--I raced three times in May, every other weekend since May 1st. This was probably too much racing, plus it affected my ability to do quality training. I was always in either taper or recovery mode. Even before today's race I had decided to race less and focus on good workouts, long distances and quality races.
2. Too tired--I didn't sleep well this week and especially last night (I probably got about three hours of sleep last night). This, combined with too much racing, made me generally rundown and sluggish.
3. Not a good taper--I didn't taper very well this week, and then to top it off I did yardwork on Saturday. My legs were very sore yesterday and still sore this morning.
4. Harder race--this race had a fair number of hills and it was hotter and sunnier than my last race.

I'm not really discouraged; I've had a lot of great races so it was inevitable that I would have a bad one. I think I know what to do to minimize the possibility of future bad races, so all I can do is learn from my mistakes.

Here are my splits for anyone that's interested:


Saturday, May 29, 2004

Excellent Article in Time on Racewalk 50k World Record Holder

Robert Korzeniowski, 50k Racewalk Record HolderRead this excellent article on Robert Korzeniowski, the Polish world record holder for the racewalking 50k. His record for a 50k is 3:36:03! Incredible! Most runners would love to run a marathon this fast, but this guy walks five miles farther! I can't wait for the Olympics--I've never seen elite racewalkers in action!

Two more days until the Memorial Day 20k.

Friday, May 28, 2004

The Way We Eat Now

Read this disturbing article on the rapidly growing problem of obesity in the United States. Here is a really depressing quote:

"[Steven Gortmaker, professor of society, human development, and health at the School of Public Health,] notes that on any given day, 30 percent of American children aged four to 19 eat fast food, and older and wealthier ones eat even more. Overall, 7 percent of the U.S. population visits McDonald's each day, and 20 to 25 percent eat in some kind of fast-food restaurant."

We are killing ourselves and our children! The problem appears to be related primarily to development and national wealth, so as other countries grow and increase their GDP they are experiencing similar problems with health and nutrition.

Check out these obesity maps that show the increase in obesity in the United States over the last 20 years.

I honestly we are facing an epidemic and a national health crisis. This is one of the many reasons our medical insurance and health system is so insufficient--it is being stretched too thin by preventable health problems.

Let's all run, walk, bike, swim, whatever, and teach our family and friends how to live a long and healthy life!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Last walk before Memorial Day 20k

I did an easy walk today and everything felt good. There was no pain or discomfort in my knee. The weather for Memorial Day is still partly cloudy, but warmer (low 70/high 90). Yuck. I'll post results on Monday. Have a nice holiday weekend, everyone!

Distance: 6.15 miles
Time: 1:10:15
Pace: 11:25

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Tapering off (and a Special Day!)

Today I tapered in preparation for the race on Memorial Day. I did my usual route (a little over six miles) but I took it easy and didn't push hard. I had a little discomfort in my left knee for a while but it went away. I don't think it's anything but I'll keep an eye on it.

Angela and Lela in St. Lucia
Also, today is my Anniversary! Thanks for 13 great years, Angela! Here's a picture of my wife and daughter from our summer vacation last year in St. Lucia.

Distance: 6.11 miles
Time: 1:08:44
Pace: 11:14

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Just another day at the track

I did a basic walk today, nothing special. I had some good times (my last mile was 10:32) and felt good the whole time. I'm not pushing too hard this week because I'm racing in the Memorial Day 20k next Monday. I'd like to improve my pace from the 10:24 at the North Trail Half Marathon on May 16th, but that will depend on the weather on Memorial Day. Right now the forecast says it will be mostly cloudy, low of 63/high of 84; however, it's supposed to rain the three days before the race and the day after so I wouldn't be surprised if that forecast changes.

Distance: 6.12 miles
Time: 1:06:33
Pace: 10:52

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Sunday Roundup

Here's a summary of my training to date:

Miles this week: 34.9
Avg. Pace: 11:19

Miles this year: 709.2
Avg. Pace: 11:17
Cumulative Time: 5 days, 10 hours, 31 minutes, 53 seconds

For more details, visit my training log here.

Sunday long walk

I did the usual long walk today at the lake. I didn't go too far or push too hard because I'm racing in a 20k one week from tomorrow. After this race I'm going to race less frequently because frequent races equate to frequent tapering (which I dislike) and limits my ability to do really long distances (I want to get back up into the 20 mile range on Sundays).

Distance: 10.33 miles
Time: 1:57:23
Pace: 11:22


This isn't a political blog so I won't linger too long on this topic, but I've been very disturbed by many Bush administration policies related to the environment and health. Recently the Administration decided to include farm-raised salmon in salmon population counts, raising them out of the endangered species category and exposing them to greater commercial fishing.

Now they have re-defined the terms "Organic Food" and have made the organic guidelines so loose as to render to term "Organic" almost meaningless. If any US readers eat organic foods you should contact your senators and representatives and protest these recent guideline changes. Otherwise we may never know what we're eating and have little control over our diet and our health.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Good walk today

I did my normal walk at the track today and had a good walk. Nothing fancy, just a little over 6 miles at a good pace.

Distance: 6.15 miles
Time: 1:07:01
Pace: 10:53

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Acceleration Tempo Training

Today I did my favorite workout, an acceleration tempo walk, or A. Tempo. An A. Tempo consists of a short warm up, then a series of miles run at increasingly faster speeds, then a short cool down. The main reasons I like this type of workout are that it simulates race conditions (slower start, gradual increase in speed), it always results in a negative split, and the later, faster miles never feel very hard. Today was a great workout--after the half mile walk from my house to the track I did five miles on the track and then a half mile cool down back home. My mile splits were 11:18, 10:49, 10:26, 10:14, 10:14 (should have pushed harder on the last mile). I actually thought the first 10:14 mile would be slower than the previous mile because these fast miles don't feel hard. If you want to add some variety to your workout, give this a try.

Distance: 6.07 miles
Time: 1:06:27
Pace: 10:56

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Sloooooooow recovery walk

Today was my first walk since the North Trail Half Marathon. My legs were tight and tired so I just took it easy--really easy! I was slow, but I didn't care; it just felt good to get out and move.

Distance: 6.32 miles
Time: 1:15:50
Pace: 11:59

Monday, May 17, 2004

Age Graded Performance Comparison

I mentioned in a previous post that I have an age-graded performance spreadsheet that compares performances across different races, ages and genders (and includes both walking and running events), giving you a relative performance result. I thought I would share with you my half marathon results since I have done more half marathon races than any other distance. Here are my age graded performances to date:

2/14/04--58.39% (snow, ice and slush)

As you can see, a nice steady increase from race to race (with the exception of the "slush" half on 2/14/04), and a ten percent increase since my first half less than one year ago. I hope I can keep the upward trend going. My next half is tentatively scheduled for June 19 in San Antonio, but it will almost certainly be a hot and difficult race, so it may not be the most suitable race for a PR. We'll see!!

Sunday, May 16, 2004

North Trail Half Marathon - PR!

North Trail Half MarathonWell, I was aiming for 2:15 but didn't hit that. I slowed down quite a bit in the second half and realized after mile 8 that 2:15 wasn't possible. However, I still got a PR, shaving 1:39 off my previous PR and 7 seconds off my pace at that race. I ended up with 2:16:10 (10:24 pace) and I'm very happy with that.

The race was nice, a smaller field without a lot of hoopla. We ran on a running/biking trail that stretches to the Northwest from White Rock Lake, stopping just short of LBJ/IH 635 and returning on the same route. We had to deal with bicyclists (not the nicest bunch) but no automobiles, and the route was pretty and often shaded. It felt pretty hot after the first hour but never got terribly uncomfortable. There were lots of Team in Training folks out today and I saw a couple of my old teammates and some coaches I know.

The only problem with the race was the port-a-potties. They were late, then they were delivered to the wrong part of the park and were probably about a ten minute walk away. Before they delivered them I decided I needed to take some action so I hopped back in my car and headed down the street to McDonald's.

Here are my splits. You can see where I started to burn out, around mile 8. To make 2:15 I needed to do mostly 10:18 splits with some 10:12s mixed in for the slower early miles:

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Easy walk and birthday update

Today I did an easy 6+ miles as part of my taper before this weekend's race (North Trail Half Marathon). It was an interesting walk because I felt like I was taking it easy, even slowing down, but in reality I held steady or sped up for most of the splits. That's a good sign--a faster speed isn't as hard as it used to be.

Also, yesterday was my birthday. I enjoyed a quiet evening with Angela and Lela. After some presents (and a rice krispie treat with a candle!) we went to Gloria's, Salvadoran food--chips, salsa, black bean dip, pupusas, tamals, fried plantain (my favorite!), rice, beans. Delicious!

The best part of all (other than being with my family) was that my wife gave me some shorts, 34 inch waist, and they were too BIG! That's right, too big. About a year ago I was having trouble getting into size 38 pants, and now it looks like I can wear 32. I haven't worn 32 since high school. She also gave me two large shirts and one medium shirt. The medium fits fine, as does one of the larges, but the other one is too big! I love it when clothes are too big rather than too small.

To top everything off I got the results from last week's physical and everything was great--my cholesterol was very low and every other reading was normal. The doctor said to stick with my exercise regimen and dietary changes. It's nice to see a pay off after all of the work!

I'm off to San Antonio for a quick business trip. I'll probably do an easy 30 minutes on the treadmill tomorrow and then no more walking until Sunday. I'll post my race goal later this week, but I'm definitely hoping for a PR.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Social walk today

Today while doing my long walk at the lake I ran into some members of DFW Racewalkers, the local racewalking club that I've been meaning to join. I slowed down my pace to chat with them (dropping from sub 11:00 miles to about 12:55 miles). Then I stopped my watch at a water stop and forgot to start it again. So I know I went about 10 miles today but I'm not really sure of the pace. It was a great day for a walk--it was overcast but didn't rain, the tempertature was in the 60s, lots of wildflowers and wildlife around the lake. Overall just a pleasure to be up and out and moving. I wish I could have walked longer but I don't want to push too hard the week before the North Trail Half Marathon next Sunday. Now it's time for some Mother's Day festivities. Happy Mother's Day to any mothers who happen to read this blog!

Saturday, May 08, 2004

They're back!

Lela in London

Just a quick post to say that my family made it back in one piece, exhausted and happy to be home. Here's a picture of HRH Lela surveying her kingdom.

I took Friday off because I was at the airport late the night before picking up Angela and Lela. Today is my normal day off, and I'll be doing an abbreviated long walk tomorrow (10-11 miles) as I taper for the North Trail Half Marathon next Sunday. I hope everyone is getting some nice training this weekend.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Welcome new blogger!

Charlotte Dutch, who has a nice website, has started a blog! Welcome to blogging, Charlotte. Look forward to hearing what you are up to.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Today's workout

Today's workout was great. My intention was to do 6+ easy miles with no specific goal in mind. What was so great about this workout is that I went fast but it still felt easy. All my laps on the track were sub 11:00 (except one where I slowed down to talk to one of the track regulars that I saw at my last race); most were around 10:35. This is slower than most of my PR paces, of course, but for an easy daily workout it's a great pace for me. I'd love to do all of my easy walks in the sub-11:00 range. Hopefully my upcoming races will reinforce my training and boost my speed.

Distance: 6.16 miles
Time: 1:07:52
Pace: 11:01

Racewalking World Cup

The Racewalking World Cup, an Olympic qualifier, was held last weekend in Naumburg, Germany. It wasn't a great series for the US; the highest US finisher was Kevin Eastler, who finished 26th in the Men's 20k (time of 1:22:51, a 6:40 pace!). Here is a photo of the Men's 20k field:

Men's 20k Racewalk World Cup

The eventual winner was Jefferson Perez of Ecuador, bib 140 (yellow singlet and white hat on the right). His time was 1:18:42, a 6:20 pace!!!

Here is a photo of the Women's 20k field:

Women's 20k Racewalk World Cup

The winner was Yelena Nikolayeva of Russia, bib 412, with a time of 1:27:24, an amazing pace of 7:02!

The Russians are very strong racewalkers, taking 5 of the fifteen medals awarded during the cup. Racewalking has a much bigger following oversees than in the US, and unfortunately for the US the results can be seen at world events like this.

Their speed and endurance is just amazing. I wish I could move like that!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Surprise from my wife and daughter

Family Coat of ArmsI got a mysterious e-mail from the Victoria and Albert Museum today:

Thank you for visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum on 05/05/2004. Attached is the coat of arms that you designed during your visit to the British Galleries.

I assume that Angela and Lela were there today and sent me the lovely coat of arms you see to the left. It's so nice to know they are thinking of me slaving away here while they have fun in London!

Speedwork Today

Today I did intervals at the track, although I probably should have just done some easy miles. I'm still feeling tired from my over exertion last weekend (race on Saturday, 18.5 miles on Sunday). In any case my times weren't too bad; one was below 9:00 min. per mile, which I think is a record for me.

6 x .50 mile intervals/.25 recovery
5:06 (this was slower than race pace in last Saturday's 5 mile race!!)

I used my Garmin Forerunner for my intervals for the first time today. The Forerunner has several different options for interval training--Speed Time/Rest Time, Speed Distance/Rest Distance, Speed Distance/Rest Time. I used Speed Distance (.50 miles) and Rest Distance (.25 miles). It worked really well, alerting me when to stop the speed interval and then counting down the distance of the recovery interval. It made my interval training much easier and more consistent. This little Forerunner is a wonder! I can't recommend it enough.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Watch what you eat

Over the last two to three weeks I have been concerned about Trans Fat. Trans Fats, also known as Partially Hydrogenated Oil (this is how it is listed in ingredient lists) have been linked to increased heart disease and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The risk is even greater for women. Trans Fats not only clog the arteries, but they raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, again contributing to increased heart disease.

In 1999 the National Academy of Sciences did an analysis of Trans Fats and issued a report. They were attempting to determine an appropriate and safe level of Trans Fat in a normal diet (as has been done for other types of fats and sodium). Here is the statement they issued about the safe level of Trans Fat:
"The National Academy of Sciences’ report is the first attempt by a panel of experts to set a safe intake level for trans fat. The panel found that, like saturated fat, trans fat promotes heart disease. Furthermore, the panel concluded that the only safe intake of trans fat is 'zero.'"

What has amazed me about Trans Fats is how pervasive they are. I went through our pantry and threw away so much food it was unbelievable. Examples include:

>>Pancake Mix
>>Canned Soups
>>Microwave Popcorn
>>Hot Cocoa Mix
>>Peanut Butter
>>Rice and Noodle dish mixes
>>Instant Oatmeal
>>Instant Grits
>>Cream of Wheat

Even the new Snicker's Marathon energy bars have Trans Fat! It's supposed to be formulated for athletes but they put in an ingredient like Trans Fat.

The list goes on and on. Even my favorite hard candies, Caramel Nips and Coffee nips, contain Trans Fat.

As I've become an athlete I've developed a greater awareness of my health and the food I eat. I also think about the food my daughter eats. If she develops bad food habits now, at the age of four, what chance does she have to lead a long and healthy life. So my wife and I have been reading labels and paying more attention to where we shop and where we eat. I do a lot of shopping at Whole Foods Market now, trying to avoid (where possible) pesticides, artificial ingredients, weird additives, etc. It's more expensive, which I don't like, but I think it's worth it.

While we're on the topic of nutrition, I'm also a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian for about 8 years, then off the wagon for about 4, but now I'm vegetarian again. My wife and daughter still eat meat, although they don't eat much (we don't cook any meat at home, so they only eat meat when we go out).

Anyway, I just thought I would share my thoughts with the blogging community. Maybe I'm being a little reactionary, but better safe than sorry. Below are two good links on Trans Fat:

Trans Fat 101

Ban Trans Fat

Happy Anniversary to Me

Today is my one year Racewalking anniversary! Since I started racewalking I've logged 1,542 miles. I hope to log many, many more.

In honor of the occasion I have posted an About Me page. If you're interested feel free to take a look.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Felow Racewalker walks 101 miles in 24 hours!

Ollie Nanyes, a fellow racewalker and founder of the Ultrawalking Yahoo! Group, competed in the Cornbelt 24 hour track race on May 1 and 2. He finished in 7th place out of 49 (he was the ONLY racewalker)! Interestingly he was in 18th place at the 50 mile split and 14th place at the 100 km split, and from 100 km to 100 miles he had the third fastest time. In this case I guess it's true that "slow and steady wins the race," or at least finishes ahead of many competitors.

Amazingly, this was a "warm up" race for Ollie. His real goal is a 24 hour race in Rotterdam on May 29th. In racewalking there is a designation of "Centurion" for any walker who completes 100 miles in 24 hours. Since this wasn't an official Centurion event Ollie is not yet an official Centurion, but the Rotterdam race is official. Good luck, Ollie!

Running Right Past His 90th Birthday

I hope I can have this kind of stamina and longevity! Max Springer is still running (and doing the long jump and triple jump!) at 90 years old. He didn't start running until after retirement and he's been running for 30 years.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Sunday Roundup

Here's a summary of my training to date:

Miles this week: 35.7
Avg. Pace: 11:12

Miles this year: 633.2
Avg. Pace: 11:19
Cumulative Time: 4 days, 23 hours, 23 minutes, 04 seconds

Total miles walked since I started racewalking (5/4/2003): 1542.1

For more details, visit my training log here.

Beautiful day for a long walk

Today is such a contrast to yesterday's terrible weather. Today it is sunny, breezy and 60's to 70's. A great day for a long walk.

Since my family is out of town I slept in and didn't get to White Rock Lake until 9:30. I'm not used to spending so much time in the sun! Normally I start walking at 6:00 and watch the sun come up, so today was a new experience.

Since I raced yesterday I didn't push hard, just went at a decent pace, two loops around the lake. A basic loop is about 9.25 miles so my total mileage for today was 18.5. I can feel it! I'm pretty sore, especially my legs. After a long walk I can't always straighten my knees for a few hours so I looked pretty silly at the grocery store. But that's the price we pay. The payoff is worth the pain.

Distance: 18.50 miles
Time: 3:31:44
Pace: 11:26

Saturday, May 01, 2004

White Rock 'N' Roll--Mission Accomplished

Today was a very wet, windy and cold White Rock 'N' Roll. I couldn't believe it was May 1st in Dallas, Texas, and the temperature was high 40s/low 50s. It rained all night, let up a little before the race, then rained all through the race. Luckily I LOVE, I mean LOVE, training and racing in cold weather, and I've never minded the rain, so I felt great. Sometimes the grosser the weather the more motivated I am. It's like an additional challenge.

I waited in my car until right before the start, then went to the starting area and did some quick stretches. I met up with another racewalker that I know and we talked for a while. There were probably a little over 1,000 people at the race so it was a nice size (I always prefer smaller races). Then finally we were off and I started to warm up within seconds.

The course was fine, nothing too exciting or difficult. We skirted White Rock Lake for a while, then headed off into some of the neighborhoods around the lake, then back to the lake for the finish. There was only one "hill," and this being Dallas our hills are more like bumps for some of you.

I added a little kick for the finish and ended up finishing in 50:42, 18 seconds below my goal time of 51:00! My goal pace was 10:12 and I finished with a 10:08 pace, tying my PR pace for the 5k.

Garmin Virtual PartnerOne reason I finished ahead of my target is my handy little Garmin Forerunner. This wonderful Training Watch/GPS is loaded with features, one of them being a Virtual Partner (see the screen shot to the left). With Virtual Partner you can enter your goal distance/time, distance/pace or time/pace, and the watch will tell you if you are ahead or behind your goal. You get a little running icon of yourself and your "virtual partner," so if you are ahead of goal you can envision yourself kicking the virtual partner's butt!

Unfortunately I am a knucklehead and I misread the Garmin screen. For most of the race I was ahead of pace but I thought I was behind (in the first half mile I was behind pace, naturally, and the feeling that I had to catch up was with me the whole race even though it is VERY easy to tell if you are ahead or behind). I kept trying harder and harder and kept seeing myself slipping behind, when actually I was pulling farther and farther ahead! I tend to speed up during races so I kept hoping I would speed up enough to catch that wily Virtual Partner. It was only until the last .75 miles that I realized I was ahead of pace! Then I felt AWESOME and kicked in to try and get a little faster.

According to the Garmin GPS I actually walked 5.17 miles, not 5, making my pace 9:48! I doubt the race was off by that much; it's probably a combination of the race course being a little long and how I ran the course. Dodging people, diverting to the side for water at aid stations, and how you take corners can all affect your distance. In any case, both paces were below my goal pace so I'm pleased. I hope everyone else racing today had similar good luck and a good time.