Wednesday, April 28, 2010

L10 Day 11 - New Trail After Lunch

Golly.  I don't know where to start, but I think I'll take it in order.  Today, for the first time, I did a work-based run.  I joined the gym in my office building, which is a free perk.  I runner'd up in the locker room and drove over to the trail I had partially explored last Sunday.  It was 61° with a 23 mph wind, but once I got down around the creek, I was fairly sheltered.  I started off fast, because I just felt like it.  My heart rate shot up into the 170s.  I'm particulalry proud of lap 8, where my max speed was 263 mph - and I did it with a heart rate of 152.  I was in a tunnel at that point, the long Friday the 13th kind of tunnel that goes under I-395.  At that point, I-395 has 9 lanes, 5 shoulders (as there are HOV lanes in the middle). Below is the picture of the first tunnel, before the long one under I-395:

I was going to wimp out at 1.55 miles, but these tunnels were right there begging to be explored.  So, I went through them and kept going.  I ended up running 3.25 miles before I turned around.  And I turned around because I had finished the trail, as far as I could figure.  So, in all, I jogged 6.5 miles (10.46 km).  I really sliced Alexandria, VA a new one!

Here is the stats and the HR.  I like the last three miles best.  The times were 12:00, 11:24, and 11:12.  When I thought about what I was doing, I told myself to keep that cadence chiper.  That really does help.

And now the second part.  I went to Massage Envy today. Throwing caution to the wind, a therapist was selected at random.  This one was strong.  Every now and then she forced a whimper out of me, and then she'd let me relax a couple of seconds.  At one point I asked "Um, what was that??"  Her reply: "It's a trigger point."  Well that certainly fits.  After it was over, I was going to ask her on a scale from one to ten how much did I endure.  But, then I figured I'd be like a middle school boy passing a note in class that reads "Do you like me, check yes or no."  So, I just tipped well and staggered out.  Today's trail was pretty much all asphalt.  So, I think it was a bit tougher on me that usual.  My plan is to heal up for a day or two and then, jog my brains out again.

Oh, and I did today's run pretty quickly after eating Pad Thai for lunch.  And my tummy was happy the entire run.  I forgot the anti-chafe, but didn't care.  I forget once or twice a week, and I might be crazy, but maybe I'm developing nips of steel.  (Or less in the moobs department?)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

L10 Day 10 - Team Aubrianna / Humidity Run

Today I walked for a good cause and got to explore a new trail.  I did the March of Dimes' March for Babies in honor of a co-worker's child, Aubrianna, who was born eleven weeks premature.  She is doing very well now, but there are many babies that are less fortunate.  Nicole, Aubrianna's mom, raised over $3,000, which is pretty good, huh?  Here is Aubrianna's pictures from the NICU to recently:

I've got to say, I felt a bit odd being outside without my Garmin Forerunner on.  And, I was skeptical that we had walked three miles.  Especially in 45 minutes - I have to try to walk 4 miles an hour.

Assuming I clicked in the route we walked, it worked out to 2.4 miles on Google Earth, which implies a 3.2 mph pace.  Much more realisitic.  Of course, this event wasn't about time or distance, it was about a worthy cause.  When we were done, we got Subway sandwiches for free.  And they were yummy.  I was a good guy, and only ate one.

I will definitely explore these trails some more in the near future.  But, this evening it's building my son's presents and going to Massage Envy for my third massage!

~ Evening Update ~

Well, darn darn double-darn.  The massage joint called and whats-her-name was out sick, so I will have to reschedule.  Naturally, I decided to jog instead.  Here were the conditions:

Now, about an hour later, the humidy is 74% ... and I could sure feel it.  My legs were still a bit tired from the seven mile jog on Friday, but I got a 2.5 mile jog out of them this afternoon.  I basically did the composite 5K course, but I didn't do a mile on the track - I just did a quarter mile.

Wow.  I sure hope Kentucky in June isn't humid.

Friday, April 23, 2010

L10 Day 9 - New Distance Record

Well, folks ... bit off about as much as I could chew today.  I decided to park a mile and change away from Burke Lake and give it a go from there.  This one took a little grit, because the 1.2 miles to Burke Lake was mostly uphill.

I don't think I want to break this distance record (of seven miles!) for awhile.  At 73°, it was mild, but my face was a salt-encrusted mess at the end.  Someone could just rotate a frosted bar glass on my cheeks and, voila, you're ready to pour the Margarita.  Like my last 5.5 mile run, I maintained a 4.7 mph average.

The very last tenth of a mile was a brutal uphill.  It had been part of my warm-up walk on the way out.  But, I was determined to hit that seven mile mark.  As usual, I will include the stats and the heart rate for completeness.

As best as I can figure, there is only 0.39 miles left unexplored.  Maybe someday, I'll run the whole system.  For now I'm going to sit carefully and contemplate further anti-chafe applications.  Until next time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

L10 Day 8 - Antietam Out-n-Back

It was practically 7 pm when I started my jog this afternoon.  I only jogged for a bit over 33 minutes, but it was enjoyable.  I stayed on a major neighborhood street (Antietam), jogging to one end of it all the way to the other end of it, and back home.  Glad I could get this in while the sun was up, the traffic home from work was miserable.

Check out how low my heart rate was in the pics below.  You know, I just never get tired of seeing my heart rate get lower for a given amount of work!  I averaged 143 bpm, and for 2.5 miles it never got higher than 149.  That's real good, considering that 12 minute miles has been a good pace for me.

In other news, Elaine made some recycled art for school:

In still other news, I'm somewhere around 195 to 196 pounds.  Looks like I'm going to be a Level Ten Athletic Character for a long time.  Good thing I'm not in a real hurry, huh?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

L10 Day 7 - Gone with the Wind

"Sure is windy out there, Dave."
"Frankly, Tami, I don't give a damn."

Well ... jumping, bow-legged, peter: I forgot the anti-chafe again.  But, other than that, I had an okay time out there except for the wind - 15 mph with gusts to 25 mph.  Lap 19 was right into it, no trees to help, and it was my slowest quarter-mile.  In all, I went 5.5 miles in 1:10:39.54; which is a 4.7 mph average and my heart rate averaged 149 bpm.  This was my third long run out at the lake and it's interesting to compare it to the others:

After doing the lake (4.5 miles) and a little more, I went the other direction and headed away from the lake for a bit.  When I stopped, I still had a little over a mile remaining to where I've stopped on the Lake Mercer jogs.

Here is the stats and heart rate graph to complete the documentation.  Good run today, and I've stretched and applied ice.  Hopefully, my leg will respond with an okay signal for Tuesday or Wednesday.

200 / 100 / 200

Sit-Ups: 17, 22, 14, 14, 22; Total 89
Push-Ups: 8, 10, 7, 7, 10; Total 42
Squats: 22, 29, 20, 21, 33; Total 125

Before the push-ups were done, my abs were crying again.  You know, that 100/50/100 program is starting to look very attractive.  Jogging is much more fun than these exercises!

Friday, April 16, 2010

L10 Day 6 - Yeah, Baby, Yeah!!

Hadn't run since Monday, and there were a couple of times today that I felt a normal calf tightness in the right leg.  But, everything felt reasonably good when I got home.  Tomorrow is supposed to have sustained winds at 23 mph with gusts to 36 mph, so ... yeah, might as well give it a go today.

I did what I will call a composite 5K.  The first ~1.25 miles is on the road and includes a significant hill.  The next mile is on the middle school track, and the rest is on the way home.

I rocked its world!!!

Here is the actual route.  I can't show you accurate elevation for the whole route because the track is "off-road", but below the route is the elevation sans the track portion.

Look at that hill ... 90 feet over 1/2-mile.  The track is at about 300 feet elevation.  Then I'm headed back home.  Below, the heart rate is in red and the pace is in blue:

Finally, here are the lap times:

My second lap was fast because it benefitted from the 60 ft downhill.  The rest of the first mile was slowed by the 90ft uphill.  I'm kind of surprised my mile on the track wasn't faster than a 2:51 1/4-mile, but whatever.  Then, on the run home ... I kept getting faster and faster.  It was all I could do to contain myself.  It's weird to think "Go for it!!" with three-quarters of a mile to go!

My final time for the 3.11 miles (5K), was 34:41.70.  This is a personal best by about 100 seconds.  On the way back, I chilled with the wives.  Ooops, should have stretched.  I'm hobbled a bit, and in the old familiar ways, but I'm hoping to do a nice long, slow jog on Sunday.  And, tonight, after my spaghetti digests, I plan to accomplish W1D2 of  the 200 / 100 / 200 program.

200 / 100 / 200

Well, gave the abs a couple of days to heal up and I think that goal was partially met.  I didn't have to grit my teeth to hold myself in good push-up form.   But on the last two sets, I could feel that lower part of the abs thinking of mutiny.  Also, I read some fine print in the squats plan, and that encouraged me to skip to the middle column of Week 3 Day 2. So, that's what I did for squats.

Sit-Ups: 15, 18, 15, 15, 20; Total 83
Push-Ups: 6, 8, 6, 6, 7; Total 33
Squats: 19, 25, 19, 19, 30; Total 112

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

L10 Day 5 - Mount Treadmill

Today would normally be a running day.  But, I've had a nagging lower right leg thing that's bugged me off and on for a month.  So, I'm going to give it some time.  But, I don't want to just sit there and get rusty - oh no, no, no.  The compromise was a good walking session on the sweet Landice L7 treadmill.

I played with speed and incline, but settled at 3.3 mph at a 5% grade.  I checked my heart rate after twenty minutes.  115.  "Holy cow, that's low", thought I.  So, I moved the incline to a 9% grade and checked it five minutes later.  138.  Better.  So I went another twenty minutes at 9% and 3.3 mph and my heart rate was 145.  In total, I went 2.5 miles in 45 minutes and burned 460 calories.

Let's put this in perspective.  During C25K, I would do my warm-up walk at 3.3 mph with a 1% grade and after 5 minutes my heart rate would be 118.  Today, after twenty minutes of 3.3 mph with a 5% grade, it's 115.  That's a heart getting stronger.

Now, if my leg would get with the program, I'd like to ask my heart to give me a few 11-minute miles.  But, one day at a time, right?  I can say one thing: my legs feel better right now than they have in awhile.  I think this "tough walking" is very therapeutic.  I've gone up the stairs two at a time without holding the rails, which is light-years from where I was for the last few weeks of the C25K program.

Monday, April 12, 2010

L10 Day 4 - Another Piece of a Trail System

Today I jogged on a new stretch of trail, just to the East of Lake Mercer, where I've been several times.  It was a very nice trail, a little short at around 1.3 miles, but I would happily run there again.  There isn't anything very steep here, but there is very little that is pancake flat.  Here is a picture from Google Earth:

I decided to do a tempo run today.  I'm not suggesting that I know what a tempo run is, but I wanted some tempo to it.  I didn't want to wind down like a cheap watch.  I wanted to stay consistent like a medium-grade watch.  And, I think I pretty much acheived that:

Mile One: 11:48.93
Mile Two: 12:03.71
Mile Three: 11:59.63
5K Time: 37:00.78

Now, check out the heart rate, and see if you draw the same conclusions:

My average HR for this run was 149.  I know the first 1/4-mile brings down the average, but this is true for most all my runs ... and 149 is low, like arctic low!  And my maximum was only 161.  That means I have the capacity to do more.  Which is good, and a tempo run is just supposed to get you out of your catatonic, comfy pace.  (Which for me is around 4.5 mph).  It's weird in that I felt that I was breathing a little hard, but my heart rate wasn't also headed to Zone 5.  I'm going to have to research that one.

So, in this run I averaged 5.0 mph.  Here's the data:

Now, check out how all the trails I've been running are related:

This is about ten miles of trail - four miles packed earth, six miles asphalt.  I hope I can work this snarl out of my right leg so I can attack this whole trail system before the end of the summer.

200 / 100 / 200

Sit-Ups: It hurt to lay down on the floor, because I really gave my abs hell on the initial test.  In the last set, I was supposed to do at least 14.  I could only do 8.  My abs are just dead! Hurt and dead! [15,18,10,10,8]

Push-Ups: The push-ups killed me - not because my spaghetti arms, but because my abs hurt just keeping my body straight.  I gritted my teeth and made it through.  Last rep called for 5+, I did 7. [6,6,4,4,7]

Squats: Man, these babies burn after a while.  And I could feel the top, inboard chunk of muscle that's over the knees.  The last rep calls for 13+ and I managed 21.  So, there was something to feel good about. [13,16,9,9,21]

In total, W1D1 of the 200 / 100 / 200  netted  61 / 27 / 68

Whew, I don't know what you think ... but I think I've earned an off day!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

L10 Day 3 - Revenge of the Geek

You know what?  It's high time I got some schoolin'!  So I went to a clinic sponsored by my favorite specialty running store: Springfield Virginia's Metro Run & Walk.  It's called Good Form Running.  And don't worry, I'll share the secrets from this pamphlet:

First: Cadence - it should be 180 SPM (Steps Per Minute).  Oh wait, you're 6"4"?  Yes: 180 SPM.  Oh, you're only 5'2" and 87 years old?  Yes: 180 SPM!  If you are jogging or running, your cadence should bloody well be 180 steps per minute.

Second: Posture - straight and relaxed, and don't swing the arms across the sternum.

Third: Midfoot - you want to land not on the heel, not on the ball, but in that sweet spot in the middle.  Somehow this isn't flat-footed.  Experiment and find it - it exists.

Fourth: Lean - keep your body straight, lean ever-so-slightly from the ankles, and let gravity dictate the forward velocity.  Lead with your sternum.

This class did not pretend to have a "secret".  It did not take three days and $10,000 to provide it to you.  It takes the best elements from POSE, CHI, and all those other programs, and for a paltry fee, they stress 4 core principles and film you running three times.  I landed midfoot on my left foot, and I landed forefoot on my right foot.  I saw this in slow motion - it was undeniable.  And curiously, it is my right calf that has been bothering me.  It's like shin splints, except it is on the inside of the shin bone.  I'm icing after runs now (yeah, I put the ice directly on the leg after I warn it with ice through a towel):

So that was my morning, taking this class at the running store.  In the photo above, you can see some of the bling I got: ultra awesome running socks!!  The seam is nowhere near the toes!!!  God, that's a relief.

In the afternoon after Maxwell's soccer practice, I discovered that I was wearing my Garmin and heartrate monitor belt.  Might as well get dropped off at the track, eh?  Right on! After a class specifically on running, what am I gonna do: make it a Blockbuster night?  Hell no!

What you are about to read is the most disciplined thing I've ever done.  First ... dig this ... I walked a whole lap.  Even before I hit 'start' on the watch, I walked a lap.  Normally, I just walk to the starting line and bust-a-move.  Not this time.  (And what did that walking lap get me?  A pulse of 104.)

And the discipline doesn't stop there.  No, I decided I was going to do my first lap real slow.  And I started too fast, but I slowed down, and went silly slow for awhile.  In all, the first lap was 3:16.  Only good things can happen after a slow start - either distance or speed.  My choice this evening was speed.

After 1 lap walked, and 1 lap slow jogged, I decided to do a mile at a "comfortably hard" pace.  I didn't try to put a number on it, I just did the first lap (1/4-mile):


Now, my goal became to stay on that pace.  For some reason, what Brian (ky_adjuster) said floats into my mind: "Stay gold, pony boy ... stay gold".  I don't even know what that means, but it was nevertheless helpful. I didn't really monitor myself around the track with the watch, but I finished the second lap of my mile run:


I attribute this speed increase to gas experienced along the second turn - because I was phase-locked into this rhythm and it would have otherwise been 2:36.23 exactly.  Then the third lap happened:


This was attributed to a gust of wind (externally produced).  And then I repeated Brian's mantra: "Stay gold, ponyboy, stay gold!"  I sped up a bit in the last 200 meters, because I sure didn't want to screw it up.  And I didn't:


That is a mile in 10:18.1 - my fastest yet since the 1980s.  Then, for some dumb reason, I walked for a long time (1/4-mile) and then ran the leftover mile home.  My second run mile came to 11:11, which (for me) is a gorgeous number.  In all, I did 2.5 miles in 29:30.  That includes a slow lap and 4:44 of walking.  I'm starting to think that perhaps 11:00 min/mile is within my reach.  Oh, I sure hope they are!

Now, we a gonna learn somethin', kitties.  Look at this interesting heart rate vs. pace graph:

You can see that a 10:18 pace isn't a good sustainable pace for me.  My heartrate went into Zone 5, and there is no way I can do another 2.1 miles in that zone.  You can also see that I walked too long, I'm fond of those 1/4-mile increments, and didn't want a mixture of walking and jogging in one.  But, getting your heart rate down under 110 is pretty much overkill.  Then, my 11:11 mile back home looked pretty sustainable (not going into Zone 5).

So, I learned things in class today - and better, could see myself run in slow motion in their video captures.  And secondly, I bounded my running pace versus cardiovascular conditioning.

Also, this is the first time I've ever really iced a leg.  Stings like hell for a few minutes, but then it's actually quite pleasant.  Kind of like getting married, I suppose - right, honey?

Finally, for completeness, here are the stats:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

200 / 100 / 200

Well, I'm doing two wiley veteran tricks with this post.  First, my run today was something of a snoozer, so I am cleverly relegating it to a second page story.  The second veteran blogging trick is to post something in advance of doing it.  Just like I did for C25K.  This way, I either do it, or procrastinate at the risk of virtual tomatoes being thrown at me.

Tonight, after I take Maxwell to "How to Train your Dragon" (in IMAX & 3D), I will finally do the initial tests for the 200 sit-ups, 100 push-ups, and 200 squats programs.  Now, you may have seen other people doing a 100/200/200 program ... like this turkey ... but my program will be completely different and symmetrical - it is 200 then 100 and then 200 again.  And, I will post these initial results as an update to this same post.

Okay, prepare the tomatoes. Myself, I'm going to attack a modest portion of brisket before heading to the theater.

Tonight I did...
23 Sit-Ups (Crunches)
8 Push-Ups (Normal Guy-Style)
38 Squats ('Machine Gun' Style)

Push-ups are particularly difficult for me.  My right rotator cuff is shot, and I've broken the left elbow twice - that arm doesn't even straighten out all the way.  But, I can do good form push-ups and as long as I don't try to lock the elbows at the top, I expect I can continue.  The main reason I could only do eight push-ups is that I have spaghetti arms.  But, on the bright side, they match my quads and abdominals!

L10 Day 2 - Sleep Jogging

Well, I got good and comfy in this jog, perhaps too comfy.  I went around Burke Lake again and then some, for a total of five miles.  I only averaged a 4.3 mph pace, so it took 1:09:45 to do it.  These are distance and time records, but it was so easy, I don't think there is any point in being melodramatically ecstatic about it.

There were a ton of people on the trail this morning, and there was one section in particular where I must have passed a knot of fifty people.  I'm still fighting my cold.  Actually, I've stopped fighting it ... I'm just living with it as it started dropping down into the chest yesterday.  One time I did such a good farmer blow, I could actually breathe in and out through my nose exclusively.  Anyhow, I pretty much couldn't even hear my own breath today.  Hmmm ... wonder what my heart rate is?

My average heart rate was only 147.  I went a bit faster at the end, and it felt good.  My body was thinking - "okay, after warming up for an hour and seven minutes we can start really jogging now?"

But overall, I pretty much sleep jogged.  As easy as it was, my understanding is that this actually helps me improve my cardiovascular fitness.  I like to think I'm slowly building my potential.  Someday, I'll need to learn how to cash out this investment.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

L10 Day 1 - Chasing the Sun

Had to get haircut on way home from work and it took me fifteen minutes to find my blasted running cap.  By that time, I didn't have a whole lot of daylight left.  No problem, I planned on this being a short run - like I did on Level 9 Day 1. Only this time, I decided to just run on the street.  Took a temperature reading of the internets after I got home:

I ended up doing the two miles in 23:44, so that's barely above 5 mph but I'll take it.  And there are several reasons I think it compares favorably with L9D1, despite being 43 seconds slower:

L10 Day 1 / L9 Day 1
85° clear / 50° cloudy
some hills / middle school track
didn't get exhausted / did get exhausted
fighting a cold / feeling great at the start

Here is the hill that is on this route, it amounts to 90 feet over something like half a mile.  I know that doesn't compare to what hard-core runners do ... but for me that's like jogging up two 4-story buildings while also jogging half a mile.

I was trying to go a little faster today, because I was tired of turning in 4.5 - 4.6 mph runs (even though Saturday's was 4.5 miles).  So, here are the lap times which I will moan about presently:

Lap 1:  11:16 pace: Good, about where I'd like to get sooner rather than later.
Lap 2:  10:29 pace: Good, much was downhill - I'd better go a bit faster there!
Lap 3:  12:33 pace: Okay, much of it was uphill.
Lap 4:  11:59 pace: Good, I didn't let the hill turn me into mashed potatoes.
Lap 5:  11:50 pace: Okay, but I'd prefer a 11:30 pace here.
Lap 6:  12:28 pace: No, 3:07 is not a good lap time when I'm only going 2 miles.
Lap 7:  13:10 pace: Hell no, 3:17 is miserable on this terrain.
Lap 8:  11:09 pace: YES!!  This wasn't a crazy sprint, but was a sustained effort to do better.

In lap 8 I did 2:47 - which was faster than the first lap, and on pretty flat terrain.

One reason that Lap 7 was slow is that I wasn't focused.  What was I doing, trying to draw Mr. Bill on my children's elementary school's parking lot??

Despite the opportunity thrown away, I really did a good sustained effort for the final lap and turned in a 5.4 mph average there.  And my heartrate responded with the highest it's been in a while: 173.  It felt good to finally kick it up a notch - especially in this heat.  I might as well get used to it, pretty soon it will be 90° with a 90% humidity.  Oh joy!