Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Trail Walker (Ode to Chris Brogan)

If you've been reading Chris Brogan's blog lately (and if you haven't, you should), that guy's crazy about trails. Trail happy. Trail daffy. Gaga for trails. He's recently been running a lot of trails and really loves it.

Well when reading Chris' posts I was both jealous and resentful. I felt that, as a walker, I'd never really be able to do trails. Sure, occasionally I could walk on an easy trail, if I had to, but I didn't see it in my future. This made me a little sad because there are so many great ultras that I've read about or heard about, but 99.9% of them are on trails, so I felt cut off from all these great races.

Well, all that has changed. Last night I met a colleague at McAllister Park in San Antonio, which is the place to run and ride bicycles on trails in San Antonio. He was late so I was warming up, stretching, wandering around, etc. Then I saw some trail: single track, mostly dirt, slightly rolling. While I was waiting, I decided to give it a try. It was awesome. Awesome! I didn't trip or stumble or have any trouble with form. The only reason I had to stop was that my friend was so late that it got dark and we couldn't see the trails so we moved onto the paved jogging path. But I was really excited to think that maybe I could walk on trails.

Today I finished work early. It was the first day of training and in spite of all of my anxiety and trepidation it went well, very well. I promised myself that my reward for making it through the day would be another visit to McAllister Park. So I headed back around 4:45 this afternoon. It was 97 degrees (ugh) but what else are you going to do in Texas in July. So I hit the trails. Man, it was awesome again. I wandered all over that park. These trails aren't particularly technical or difficult, but I still loved it. I scared off some deer; I passed a family of wild turkeys; I even saw an armadillo. It was so great to get lost in the park and on the trails.

The best part was that, for me, I was fast. I actually did a 10 minute mile for part of the trail, and my average was 11:23. For a lot of you runners that may not be fast, but for me it was a very acceptable pace for a training run. Considering that it was my first time on trails, that it was 97 degrees and that I walked 8.26 miles, I'm very happy with the results.

There's only one problem: I need some trail shoes. Chris, can you loan me $80? I mean after all, this is all your fault!

Distance: 8.26 miles
Time: 1:34:02
Pace: 11:23

Monday, July 26, 2004

I love Texas in the Fall

At least it felt like Fall today. When I went walking this morning at 5:30 AM it was in the 60s. Right now it is in the 80s! Normally at this time of year it would be a low of 80s, not a high. There was also a nice breeze to make the morning very pleasant. I did a 7.1 mile recovery walk at the track this morning. I stretched well before I left the house and I didn't push the pace. I was pleased that I wasn't too tired and that my left calf felt great! No pain or even discomfort at all. Hopefully all of that is behind me.

I'm off tomorrow early for San
Antonio, so posting and blog reading might be sporadic. I'll be completing the final preparations for the system training I'll be conducting on Wednesday/Thursday. I have to conduct 4 two-day training classes over the next three weeks, but I know that the first one will be the hardest. Then this horrible project that I hate will be over and I'll be on to the next one. My next project is in Dallas and about 5 minutes from the office so things should be much more pleasant with much less traveling.

Good training, everyone!

Distance: 7.10 miles
Time: 1:22:50
Pace: 11:40

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Great day today!

I had a great workout today. This was my first long walk since I took time off to heal my left calf, and everything was good. I did feel my calf more than I normally do; I was aware of a recent injury. But I made it the entire distance without any real discomfort, and I stretched well before, during and after. Now I'm feeling pretty good and am generally sore but don't feel anything unusual in my calf.

The weather was great. It was supposed to rain last night and this morning but the rain never came. Instead it was overcast and breezy and relatively cool for this time of year (80s).

I'll be traveling the next three weeks but I think I'll be able to do all of my training if I'm a little flexible. Then this horrible, terrible project will be finished and I'll be off to something new and hopefully more fulfilling. I've been so busy with this project that I actually had to work in the car while my wife drove me and my daughter from San Antonio to Dallas! We got home around midnight Thursday night and I had to work for four more hours, then get about four hours sleep, then work all day until about 7:00 pm and about five hours yesterday. I successfully completed a 108 page training document from scratch in that time, just in time since training starts on Wednesday!

I haven't caught up on everyone's blogs yet but will do so over the next few days. I hope everyone is having successful training and racing!!

Distance: 20.64 miles
Time: 4:00:02
Pace: 11:39

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Roosevelt quote available for download

I liked the quote that I posted the other day so much that I made a version that can be printed and hung somewhere for inspiration.

It's suitable for framing! ;)

Click here to open or download the file (PDF). There are two versions (two pages in the document); one has a portrait of Roosevelt, one is running-related. NOTE: There's something flaky going on with Yahoo! Sometimes when you click the link above it won't work. Usually if you hit refresh it will work. I'm not sure what's going on. If you can't download it, feel free to e-mail me using the link on the left.


Friday, July 23, 2004

Fortune Cookies

I got this fortune in a fortune cookie tonight:
Risk may cause failure, but success cannot come without it.

I think a lot of us can relate to that!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Tried out the leg today

I'm still in San Antonio today and have to get to work so I only have time for a quick post. I did six miles on the treadmill today and everything felt pretty good. I felt pretty tired (I haven't eaten enough this week and have been working very long hours) but I went faster than I realized and there didn't seem to be any pain or problems in the calf. Six miles isn't very far so we'll have to see how it feels on Sunday. But so far so good.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting. I'm a little behind on reading everyone's posts but have tried to read a few and comment when I can. I'll catch up this weekend.

Happy training!

Distance: 6.00 miles
Time: 1:08:25
Pace: 11:24

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

To all of those struggling or frustrated

I've read some heartfelt posts by those among us who have been injured, or too busy, or too frustrated, or are just working through something. I've received lots of encouragement and positive thoughts from all of you in the blogosphere, so I wanted to repay the favor with one of the most motivitational and inspirational quotes I've ever read. I hope it will have the same affect you you that it has has on me. Remember, at least we are in the arena:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiams, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt
Paris Sorbonne, 1910

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Tough Decision

After today's walk I'm making a tough decision. I've got to take several days off. That pain in my left calf from last week's long walk is still bothering me. Today's plan was 20 miles at the lake; then I was going to do 20 miles again tomorrow (the family is out of town so I thought I would take advantage of their absence). Unfortunately at about 7 miles I started to feel some discomfort; it gradually worsened until I decided to stop at 8.4 miles. I could have gone on; it wasn't excruciating. But I knew that with each step I was probably exacerbating the problem. I walked (regular walked) the rest of the way back to the car and called it a day.

I really don't want to take a break, but I know that if I don't this problem will linger and will affect the quality of my training. I'm encouraged by the fact that I made it so long before the pain appeared, so maybe a good long break will set everything right.

The plan is to stop walking until Thursday. Thursday I will do easy mileage on a treadmill (I'm traveling almost all week so I'll use the hotel treadmill) and see how things feel. If all feels good I'll walk again on Friday, take Saturday off, and then do long miles on Sunday. If there are still residual issues I'll take Friday and Saturday off and do medium distance on Sunday. That means I'll have four whole days with no walking. I haven't done that since last summer's vacation.

I know this will be hard for three reasons:

1. My legs will feel fine. I don't notice any problem when I'm not training, so I'll be lulled into the thought that everything is OK.

2. I love to walk! It's become so important to me, especially in times of stress. The next four weeks will probably be the most challenging weeks of my career (and the most unpleasant) so it will be hard not to walk.

3. My weight loss has been great lately (I'm down to 163) and I don't want to lose momentum.

But I know this is the right thing. If I can't get over this problem, or if I let it linger, I will never be ready for Heartland or Ultracentric. Now's the time to deal with this issue and put it to rest.

Distance: 8.37 miles
Time: 1:33:25
Pace: 11:09

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Good Quote

This quote is from the Editor's Note of the September 2004 Running Times. The article is discussing elite runners and "regular" runners, but could also be applied to racewalkers and runners:

"Speed is relative. Effort is universal."
--Jonathan Beverly

Back at the track

I haven't been walking at the track since my Garmin was out of commission. I know, it sounds dumb, it's a track so I should know the distance but I never bothered to pay attention; I just let Garmin do all the work. So I was walking at a local jogging trail marked in 1/4 miles.

Since Garmin has returned and is working well I went back to the track, which I really prefer. Nothing too special today, 7+ miles. I considered doing 10 miles but I really needed to get back and start working, and I also didn't want to tax my recently sore legs. The seven miles felt good, although I did have some tightness/soreness in my left calf again at the very end. It's mostly gone now so I think I must have pulled something and it is slowly healing. If it's not better by the weekend I'll probably have to skip my long walk and do something more reasonable.

Distance: 7.10 miles
Time: 1:18:24
Pace: 11:03

Les jeux sont faits

For you non-French speakers out there, this is a term from gambling which basically means, "No more bets, the game is in play." Well, for me and Ultracentric, "les jeux sont faits." I got official confirmation yesterday that I am in. I'm now focusing all my training and effort toward this event.

To that end, I've been looking for a good 50 mile race to use as a training race. I had several possibilities but I've finally settled on the Heartland 100/50 Mile Run. I think this will be a good race for several reasons:

1. It is October 9th, so I have a full month and a half to recover and continue training for Ultracentric.
2. I can drive (6+ hours) so I can afford it.
3. Even though it's a trail event it's not a difficult or very technical course. In fact, there is an ironic quote on the race website:

"This course is really not technically difficult at all, however, there is virtually no shade and no element protection and the rolling hills at times seem to go on for an eternity. In many ways this course has the potential to wear on her competitors like a 24/48 hour track ultra does...relentless and repetitive, yet different than a track event...exceptionally beautiful."

4. The race is held in Cassoday, Kansas, the "Prairie Chicken Capital of the World." How can you resist that???

The only bad thing is that my family can't come. We've been spoiled because our daughter has not been in school so we've had lots of flexibility. She starts kindergarten in the middle of August so now we will have to plan activities around her school schedule. So I'll be doing this race solo since it starts at 6:30 AM on a Saturday morning.

So now all I have to do is walk and strategize, walk and prepare, walk and plan, walk and walk and walk.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Welcome home, my lovely!

I don't know if I mentioned it earlier, but I had to send my Garmin Forerunner 201 back to Garmin about 1 1/2 weeks ago. After a long training walk in the rain the buttons stopped working. The reset button would turn the unit on, but nothing would turn it off and none of the other buttons did anything. I was a little disappointed at first with their technical support; they were pretty slow to respond. Once I did get a response and we determined there was nothing I could do, they asked me for my address so I could get an RMA. Then it took another day for the RMA. Anyway, tonight I received a brand new Garmin! I guess the other one was totaled so they transferred my data to a brand new unit. The nice thing is they sent me the whole package so I have a spare charger and data cable. I can't wait to try it out again. I've hated having to resort back to trails where I knew the distance and estimating distances.

Speaking of training, I've decided to take tomorrow off. My legs are still pretty sore and I've been extremely busy at work. I've gotten home two nights in a row after 9:30, and that's not normal for me. I have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks--the Project from Hell, the worst project I've ever worked on, will end in early August and now is crunch time, so I'm going to relax tonight, sleep in a little tomorrow and then work my butt off all day to try and get caught up.

Thanks to everyone for the comments about my training and my pains. I appreciate the concern.

Sore legs today

I did another long walk today and by the end of the walk I was really feeling it. I started out at sub 11:30 miles, but finished with sub 12:00 miles. I also had some pain in my calves, especially the left one (that cramped on Sunday). I think it is just residual pain due to Sunday's long walk, but I'll keep an eye on it. I'm planning shorter walks for the rest of the week, then rest on Saturday, then about 20 miles on Sunday. If I still have some pain or discomfort I'll take some additional time off.

Distance: 13.50 miles
Time: 2:36:48
Pace: 11:36

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Interesting Fact

I lost four pounds during today's walk, in spite of the fact that I drank almost 80 ounces of Gatorade, about 40 ounces of water (plus more when I got home), a Clif Bar, Hammer Gel and Succeed electrolyte caplets. This month's Runner's World has a good article on hydration and an experiment to help you determine your fluid requirements during exercise. So STAY HYDRATED! It's hot out there, people.


I reached a couple of milestones today. First I walked longer and farther than I've ever walked. I made three loops around the lake (a first time for that, too) that equaled about 27.54 miles. I purposely started out slow and stayed slow because I knew I'd never make it if I went out too fast. I read a quote by an ultramarathoner recently that I really liked and that I kept in my mind during my walk today: "Speed is sex...distance is love." Today I was looking for love. I wanted a commitment. I knew it wouldn't be easy; I knew we'd quarrel at times, that we would disagree, that my legs would turn on my mind, but I hoped that in the end I'd find long, lasting love.

What I loved most about today's walk was that I didn't crash. Believe me I was dying at the end; I started having a pretty bad cramp in my left calf for the last 1.75 miles, but I was afraid that if I stopped I wouldn't start again so I just walked it off and finished before rubbing it out in the car. It still hurts a lot now and I have a pretty funny gait, but I'm sure it will get better quickly. I'm eating a banana now to make sure my potassium levels are good.

Anyway, back to pace. I targeted a 12:30 pace and I ended up with 12:20. I frequently had to slow myself down, even in the later miles. In fact my fastest mile was 19, and I also had good pace at miles 22 and 23. So I feel good about my progress. I still have a long way before I'm ready for 100, and I know I'll have to slow down even further to be able to complete Ultracentric, but I can see myself slowly making progress.

Two other milestones this week:
1. I walked more miles this week than ever before: 67.3
2. I crossed the 1000 mile threshold. So far this year I've walked 1010.8 miles

Thanks to everyone for visiting this experiment in vanity! It's so strange to sit here and write all about ME ME ME. I want everyone to know how I enjoy reading all the other running blogs. There are so many inspirational and funny stories out there. Thanks to everyone for sharing.

Distance: 27.54 miles
Time: 5:39:37
Pace: 12:20

Saturday, July 10, 2004

100 Year Old sets 100 Meter Record!

I'd like to be like this guy and still be this active at 100! South African Philip Rabinowitz beat the 100 meter record for 100 year olds by 6 seconds. He also holds the record for the world's oldest competitive walker and walks 3.7 miles a day. What a guy!!

Friday, July 09, 2004

It's good to be home

We drove back from San Antonio last night. We took a great new route, a rural highway that had beautiful scenery, no traffic and small towns dotting the road. I think it took a little bit longer but we all agreed it seemed much shorter and was definitely more pleasant. My wife and daughter are going to take the same route next week when they go to Corpus Christi to visit her aunt.

I'm working from home today so I was able to sleep a little later than usual and still get in my normal walk. There was nothing unusual to post except that I feel like I'm getting stronger and faster. Not dramatically faster, but yesterday I did 13 miles at 11:01 pace and this morning I did 7 miles at 10:56. These are blazingly fast, but they are pretty good for training, especially considering my increase in mileage. I guess the long mileage training and the mid-week long walks are starting to pay off.

Tomorrow is a rest day and then I plan to do 20+ miles at the lake on Sunday. I'd like to do 24 but I haven't had much luck lately getting over 22 so we'll see what happens.

Happy walking/running!

Distance: 7.00 miles
Time: 1:16:35
Pace: 10:56

4x10 pushups
4x10 situps

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Just a quick update

A quick update from San Antonio. It's been a busy trip--it seems it's been harder than usual to balance family and work, I guess since I'm going out every evening with the family instead of staying home the way we normally would. But we've had fun--they went to the Alamo and the IMAX movies, we all saw the new Harry Potter movie on the IMAX screen, we ate dinner at the Riverwalk, the usual San Antonio stuff. Next time we come I'd like to do the Mission tour--my wife and I did it years ago and really enjoyed it; I think my daughter would really like it now that she's older and getting a better understanding of history.

As for walking, I overslept yesterday. Our daughter had a bad night sleeping and I didn't get much sleep. I still set the alarm on my running watch for 4:30 AM so I could get in a long walk; instead I woke up at about 7:15 AM holding the watch!

Today I successfully got up at about 4:30 and headed to a walking/running trail someone told me about. It is by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Babcock and Wurzbach. It's a simple asphalt 1/2 mile path with two lanes, one for walkers and one for runners. It wasn't crowded when I was there and it was nice to be able to go any distance by looping. I wanted to do a long mileage day so I did 13 miles (26 loops, phew!). I felt good the whole time and kept an incredibly steady pace, ending up with an average pace of 11:01 per mile.

Now I'll get a little more work done and then start driving home this afternoon. It will be good to get home!

Thanks to everyone for recent comments on my blog. I've been a little behind on my commenting (as Mark pointed out recently--Thanks, Mark!) but I've made an effort to get out and read everyone's recent posts and make some comments as possible. Thanks to everyone for the traffic on my blog! I get a lot out of reading everyone's thoughts and accomplishments. Thanks to everyone for sharing.

Distance: 13.0 miles
Time: 2:23:25
Pace: 11:01

Monday, July 05, 2004

Long and REALLY Slow

I wanted to stick with my distance training so I went out to the lake today. I had hoped to do more than 20 (22-24) miles, but I was just so tired and uncomfortable that I stopped at about 19.75. I started extra early to avoid the heat but I still got some sunburn on my face and I must have sweat a couple of gallons! I've started switching out my headband and wristband after each loop of the lake (about 9.33 miles) and you wouldn't believe how soaked these things are! My clothes are totally drenched and dripping; even my shoes are wet. Does anyone else sweat like this or am I a freak?

On another note, I'm going out of town for work again today. Luckily I'm taking the family with me so they'll have a three-day mini-vacation while I work. We're headed to San Antonio and we'll be driving (love road trips!). I'm taking tomorrow off, then I'd like to find a place to do long miles (maybe 15?) on Wednesday, then a normal 7+ on Thursday before driving back Thursday afternoon/evening.

I may or may not post while I'm gone, just depends on my schedule. I'll look forward to catching up on everyone's posts when I get back.

Happy running/walking!

Distance: 19.75 miles
Time: 3:57:06
Pace: 12:00

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Flagpole 8k Race Report

It was a warm and muggy morning for the 20th running of the Flagpole 8k at Flagpole Hill in Dallas, Texas. The race started at 7:30 and when I arrived at 6:45 it was already 77 degrees. But in Texas we have to expect that, so there was still a good crowd of racers. The race course is on city streets and has a few small hills. After about a mile on major roads it turns onto nice quiet neighborhood streets until turning back on the major road for the final mile.

I went out hard and fast, probably a little too fast, and I slowed at mile three, my slowest split. But I was able to gut it out at the end and achieved my goal of finishing at a pace below 10 minutes per mile. My time was 48:50, for a pace of 9:49 per mile. My splits were:

As I've mentioned in previous posts this race was my first race ever last year, so I've been racing for exactly one year today. How much have I improved?

Last year my time was 1:00:24, a 12:09 pace. So I cut almost 12 minutes from last year's time, and 2:20 minutes per mile off my pace! This pace is also faster than my 5k PR (10:08) and my recent 5 mile race on May 1st (also 10:08/mile). Also, I compared this race from an Age Graded Performance perspective with last year's race. This year's graded performance was 62.93% (my best ever!); last year's performance was 50.57%. So I feel like this race is a real success for me. I remember when 11:30 per mile seemed fast, and now I can see that one day I might actually get below 9:00 per mile for shorter races! I'm still no Olympian, but I'll be very happy with times like that.

Happy 4th of July, everyone, and good luck to any other racers out there!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Tour de France Blog

There's a good Tour de France blog that posts on the race and posts links to good news sources. For all you cyclists and Tour enthusiasts you'll want to check it out.

Blog Survey

I copied this from Pam, who I think copied it from someone else, but oh well, it's kind of fun. Here we go:

There are TWO rules when answering these questions:
1) Only ONE answer to each. Of course its tough - thats the point!
2) Each blog/blogger may only be used ONCE. [I had to abandon this rule; I couldn't answer honestly without using some blogs more than once.]

What blogger inspired you to FINALLY start a blog?

What blog do you visit the most often everday?
Boing Boing

What blogger do you think you have the most in common with?
Chris Brogan. I swear we're long lost brothers.

Which blog can you be sure will make you pee a little you laugh so hard?
Running related: Rebecca!
General topic: Fark

Which blogger leaves you the best/funniest comments?

What blogger do you wish would update more often?
Race Walking Record

Which blog do you wish more people would read?
Running related: Annalisa. I love her insights into running and herself, and I love to read about her effort to run despite obstacles. Always interesting and entertaining.
General topic:

Which blog do you learn the most from?

What blog is your newest addition?

Who has been on your blogroll the longest?
Sean (I know, I'm supposed to use each blog only once, but I can only answer this honestly by using Sean twice. I started reading him first and he inspired me to start blogging.)

Whose blogroll would you LOVE find yourself on?

Whose blogroll were you the happiest to find yourself on?

If you could write like any blogger, who would it be?
Running Related: pjmorse (running plus little extras)
General topic: Juan Cole

What blogger are you the happiest you've "met?"
Chris Brogan (OK, I cheated again, but not repeating blogs is TOO hard)

Which blog do you recommend the most?

Who is the next person you'll add to your blogroll?
Not sure.

Who is the blogger you hope to meet in "real" life?
Most of them!

Which blogger do you admire the most?

Who would you trust with your blog while you were away?
Chris Brogan

Which blog has your favorite design?

How many blogs are on your blogroll(s)?
Running related: 66
All blogs: 161 (see them here)

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I'm back

I had to go to San Antonio for one day for work so I didn't get to blog yesterday. I stayed at a different hotel on this trip and they didn't have a fitness center! However, they gave me a half-price ticket for a fitness center around the corner, so I paid $7.50 (which I will expense) to walk on their treadmills. It was a pretty nice place, nothing fancy, with lots of equipment. I was glad because I wanted to do a long walk and didn't want to hog the treadmills. I didn't push hard but kept the pace steady.

Distance: 7.90 miles
Time: 1:30:00
Pace: 11:23

4x8 pushups

Today I had a great walk on the jogging trail near my house. I was able to maintain a pretty good pace, especially considering the additional mileage I've been logging lately.

Distance: 7.00 miles
Time: 1:14:18
Pace: 10:36

4x8 pushups
4x10 situps

Tomorrow I'm taking a vacation day from work, and I'm also tapering for my July 4th race, so I can sleep in tomorrow and Saturday and try to catch up on sleep and relax. On the 4th I'd really like to break a 10 minute per mile pace but I'm not sure if that will be possible. I know I can beat my current PR (12:09 mpm) since this was my first race ever last year and my pace is more than a minute slower than typical training paces these days. The only question is how fast I can go. I would at least like to beat my May 1st 5 mile race PR (10:08 mpm).

I'll post on Sunday and let you know how I did. Good training and racing, everyone!