Thursday, February 26, 2009

Against the Wind

I’ve been runnin – against the wind – I’ve been runnin against the wind.

Last night I set out for seven miles with four at tempo pace and was “delighted” aka devastated to find myself running into a very strong headwind during my warm up mile. I stopped to stretch and turn on DJ Tiesto before picking up the pace and starting the first tempo mile. Of course as I picked up the pace the wind picked up in intensity so I pushed hard thinking that the wind would be slowing me down into the mid 7’s. Since the plan was to run the five miles of tempo without a break I was a bit worried that the wind combined with the extra effort required to maintain a tempo pace would wipe me out. Well, turns out I pushed a bit harder than I thought in the first mile and it came in faster than expected.

Mile 1: 6:28

Once I saw the time I let off the gas a bit since my goal tempo pace is in the 6:45 to 7:00 range. Even though I let up a bit I was still running into a headwind and I was breathing hard from the first mile. I knew I wanted to slow a bit but didn’t want to slow too much this early on in the miles:

Mile 2: 6:57

Ok, that wasn’t so bad and at this point I knew that I only had three left. I told myself that if the fourth mile was total hell I would call it a day there and jog out the last two miles as a cool down. The wind was only a factor on the first half mile since I turned around halfway through the third tempo mile. Once I turned around I noticed an immediate difference and settled into a nice comfortable groove for the rest of mile three and mile four.

Mile 3 & 4: 6:48

Once I had four miles done I knew I could make it through one more but it was pretty tough; the slight incline for the last quarter mile didn’t make any easier either. I hit the mile mark and slowed down to run out the last mile for a cool down.

Mile 5: 6:56

Cool down mile: 7:57

Overall it was a great run and I was pleased with my pace but I learned a good lesson about pushing hard just to spite a headwind. Next time I have to run into the wind I’ll try to remember to scale it back a bit and not burn up too much energy too early in the run. Of course that is much easier said than done.

Monday after work I did 6 easy miles – my average pace came in at 8:07. It was a nice run and I chatted with Jen while she rode her bike along with me. It’s great having someone along with you no matter if they are running or riding and the run went by fairly quickly.

The push ups challenge is going fairly well – I’ve moved onto week four now and the first day was challenging with the following set (21, 25, 21, 21, and a max of 29 of the suggested 32). Last night I moved onto day two of week four which was quite a bit harder. I was able to get the main set done (25, 29, 25, 25) but was only able to do 19 of the suggested 36 for the max. I’ll be doing this week again for sure then it’s time for another test to see how many I can do in a row. My initial test was 25, two weeks later I did 35, so I’m hoping that this time I can do 45. I guess we’ll see what we see.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Time Keeps on Slippin Slippin

Another week has come and gone and I'm now one week closer to my running goal race, the Eugene Half Marathon. I feel like the miles I have been putting in and the faster paces I have been running are starting to pay off; my easy pace is faster than it used to be and I feel like I can hold a faster pace for longer distances which I suppose is the whole point of training.

Last week I had some good runs and got my two trainer rides in during the week but only made it to the pool on Tuesday. Thursday I was planning on heading out after work but Jen was sick so I decided that good husbandry was more important than hitting up the pool. I stayed home and made dinner, did the dishes, and took care of the cutie so she could get better and get back out on the road with me.

Saturday I was out on the East Bank Esplanade for a 12 miler in the sun. The weather has been really nice here lately and it was great to be out enjoying the day with all the other runners, riders, and yes, even the walkers. When you head out for your run at 11:30 on a Saturday on a popular trail you've just got to expect that there will be a ton of other folks out enjoying the day and you've got to take it all in stride. I had to slow down a couple times to pass a couple groups but it wasn't that big of a deal and it wasn't like I was shooting for some type of training PR.

The push ups challenge is going pretty well - last week I decided to do week three over again and I think it was a good decision. Tonight (Monday) I started week four and felt better about the sets I had to do. At the end of this week I take a test to see how many I can do in a row - if it's over 40 I stay in the same level I'm in now, if not then I move down a level and keep on keepin on.

Weekly totals: Swim 1,950 yards -- Bike: 90 min on trainer -- Run: 28 miles -- Push Ups: 322

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fun Week, Short Post, and oh yeah, I'm a Barge in the Pool

This week was the beginning of week three of the 100 push ups challenge and tomorrow I will be starting week three again. I think getting to 100 in six weeks is a bit ambitious so I'm planning on doing each week twice going forward. Overall I can tell that it is getting easier to increase the sets every other day but on the last couple of days I haven't been able to hit the max on the last set.

Swimming is going well but I when I'm in the pool I feel like this:

Instead of this:

But I really can't expect to get right back to how I felt five months ago when I was swimming three times a week every week. I'm sure with time and yardage I'll get back to a lean mean middle of the pack swimming machine.

I'm still on the trainer for my rides but hope to be outside riding on the weekdays soon. I was able to get in 45 minutes on Tuesday but after going out on Wednesday night I only got up for a quick spin of 15 minutes on Thursday morning (yeah, weak, I know).

Running was great this week. Monday I went for a nice easy recovery run with Jen down along the river. We ran five miles and our average pace came in around 9:30. Wednesday was a GA/Tempo run for me; not quite GA pace, not quite tempo - my average for the six miles was a 7:17. Friday I took off because it was only going to be four easy miles and my left heel was a little sore. Since we were planning on running 11 on Saturday in Forest Park I thought it would be a good choice to take the day off and just rest. On Saturday we headed up to FP for what was to be a goal pace run for Jen (Race for the Roses Half Marathon) and she kicked ass. We ended up with an average pace of 7:51 and the last mile came in at 6:28 which is one of her fastest miles ever. She really worked hard on this run and I think it was a big confidence boost for her.

Saturday evening we had Valentines dinner at home and I baked a cake for us to enjoy for desert. Here are a couple pics of the cake (Chocolate Brownie Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting - all made from scratch):

It turned out great but man was it rich! We each had a small slice then took half the cake over to our friends that live in the building.

Overall it was a great week capped off with a wonderful Valentines Day with a beautiful girl - doesn't get much better than that!

Have a great week - I've got to work tomorrow (Monday) but for those of you that don't I hope you enjoy your day and make the most of it!

Weekly totals - Swim: 4,450 yards -- Bike: 1hr on trainer -- Run: 22 miles -- Push Ups: 291

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ooooh That Smell

Another week has come and gone and as much as I wanted to put off a couple of workouts throughout the week I got in everything I had planned along with a couple spur of the moment activities.

Last Sunday evening Jen and I did our push ups challenge workout and a core workout which gave me the opportunity to sleep in a bit on Monday morning. I've got just a handful of Monday mornings left in which I can sleep in and I think I am going to take full advantage of them. After work I ran my four mile route along the river and took it nice and easy. It was pretty warm out so for the first time in a while I wore just shorts and a long sleeve shirt.

Monday - Four miles: 33:30 - 8:22ish

Tuesday morning I was up in time to get in a full hour on the trainer. I watched an episode of Knight Rider then for the last 15 minutes (KR is typically 42 minutes long without commercials) I started Scooby Doo and the Mystery of Zombie Island. As easy as it is to get up and hop on the trainer in the mornings I am really looking forward to being able to get out in the mornings for an actual ride. Tuesday evening I walked home from work, had a snack, got my swim stuff together, and headed out to the pool for masters. The new group I am swimming with only has an hour session in the evening so at this point it looks like I will typically get something in the low 2,000's each time vs. something in the low 3,000's like I was in CA. Hopefully as I get back into swimming shape I'll be able to get in more yardage in the hour we swim.

Tuesday - 60 minutes on trainer - 2,200 yards @ masters

After swimming Tuesday evening I did my push ups so Wednesday morning all I had was core and abs work which doesn't take me too long. This gave me a chance to relax a bit in the morning and watch some TV while I ate my breakfast. Wednesday after work I headed out for some speed work; I had six miles total with three consecutive miles at tempo pace. I ended up running them slightly faster than tempo with the three miles coming in at 6:52, 6:53, and 6:42. I had to take a quick break after the third mile because it ended right at the beginning of what I call "manure mile". See, the parks department recently put new topsoil and fertilizer out along some sections of the river and one of them happens to be right at the spot where my tempo miles were ending. Needless to say the overpowering smell of fresh pungent fertilizer can be very vomit inducing when you are sucking in large gulps of air at an elevated rate. Thankfully everything stayed where it was supposed to and after 30 seconds of recovery I was off and running again.

Wednesday - Six miles, three @ tempo pace, 44:35 - 7:25AP

Thursday morning I was up and on the trainer again for a 45 minute spin before work. Jen and I had dentist appointments that afternoon so I got off work early to go meet her and walk to the dentist's office. It was our first appointment there so I wasn't sure what to expect; let me just say that it was awesome. The first thing they had us do was take x-rays and boy was I surprised when right after taking the 360 image
the hygienist told me that I could turn around and see the x-ray on the screen behind me. That's right, they take digital x-rays so there is no film, just an image on the screen. Later on in the exam she took what appeared to be a pen but what was actually a small digital camera and stuck it in my mouth and took close up pictures of my teeth! It was the first time I had ever seen a pictures of my teeth and it was pretty freakin cool. The rest of the exam was great and we have definitely found our new dentist. After then dentist we headed out to the pool to get in some yards - I ended up doing 1,500 before we wrapped it up and headed to get some dinner.

Thursday - 45 minutes on trainer - 1,500 yards non-masters

Friday morning I was up early to do my push ups and core work. Tuesday evening I had done my push ups after swimming and I felt tired so the last set was pretty hard. Today they seemed a bit easier since I had given my arms time to rest over night. After work I had an easy four on the schedule then we ate a quick dinner and had some friends over for drinks. Towards the end of the evening the push ups challenge was brought up and next thing I knew it was a push ups showdown. I was able to do 35 which was an increase over the ten I did in my initial assessment. The next test I have is in two more weeks and I'm eager to see how those results turn out. Today I start week three of the challenge and I have seen that a lot of folks fall off the plan after this week. I'm hopeful that I will be able to stick with it but 100 in a row still seems like a shit-ton of push ups to me.

Friday - Four miles - 31:00 - 7:45AP

Saturday was our long run and we ended up getting a late start since I decided to start working on our taxes after breakfast. Filing a two-state return was a little strange but I got it figured out thanks to the folks at Turbo Tax and by 1:00 we were heading out to do 12 miles. I was planning on running the first few miles with Jen then running ahead on my own for the second part of the run. This worked out well for us last week and this week went much the same. We ran the first 3.75 miles together at which point I made a pit-stop and Jen continued on. I hooked up my iPod and for the first time in many months I listened to a DJ Tiesto Club Life mix - I forgot how much I like listening to him while I run. The weather was really great on Saturday and for the first half of the run we were running towards Mt. Hood which gave us some great views.

Saturday - 12 miles - 1:39:41 - 8:18AP

Sunday we walked up to North West to have some breakfast and do some grocery shopping in the morning. After relaxing around the house for a while we decided to go walk around in the neighborhood in North West and check out the houses that are up in the West Hills. Once we were up in the hills I started noticing quite a few sets of stairs; at one point we stopped at the top of this long mother and decided to see how fast we could run up them.

We walked down to the bottom of the stairs (three flights with 51, 51, and 52 stairs respectively) and peeled off some layers before making the run to the top. I was wearing jeans but figured that they wouldn't hamper me too much since I wouldn't be trying to take long strides. As we were getting ready this guy walked by us and started up the stairs - I decided to time him and see how long it took someone walking at a steady rate - 78 seconds later he was at the top. I thought I would take
the stairs one at a time to start then pick up the pace on the second flight and push hard to the top. I took a couple deep breaths, hit the start button on my watch and started up. Three steps into it I realized that taking one step at a time would slow me down and I took off in a full two-at-a-time sprint to the top. At the end of the first flight I felt good, at the end of the second I knew I was going to have to
dig deep, by the time I was halfway up the third flight my quads were burning and my heart was pounding. I reached the top and stopped my watch, 30.97 seconds! I turned around to watch Jen come up the last flight and encouraged her to push it to the end. Once she was at the top we caught our breath and continued on our walk. About a block away was another set of stairs; we didn't run up this set but after seeing them I knew I would be back to this spot to run both sets and see how I hold up. Next time I'm going to bring my HR monitor and see just how hard my blood pumper is working.

Weekly totals: Run 26 miles, Bike 1hr 45 minutes, Swim 3,700 yards, Push Ups 270

FYI - Sunset is at 5:29 today in Portland - four weeks from today it's at 7:08!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ready for Warmer Weather

Another week in the books, building up my miles and picking up the pace. I was able to get in all of my runs this week even though it was really cold on Monday and the last thing I wanted to do was head outside for a run. I decided to get my speed work for the week out of the way so I took off for three tempo miles. I work my tights, shorts, a long sleeve, and gloves and I was still cold for the first part of the run. The nice thing about my shorter runs is not having to wear my Garmin since I know where the 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3 mile marks are on the route I usually run.

Monday - 3 miles in 20:51

Tuesday morning I was on the trainer in the morning for a 45 minute ride before work. As I have for the last couple of rides I watched an episode of Knight Rider and before I knew it the ride was over.

Wednesday morning I got up to do some strength training before work. This was the first day of the 100 push up challenge for me but I was planning on doing a sort of modified schedule. I was able to do 25 in the initial test so I could have started on week three but I figured I would give myself a couple days of week one then start on week two this Monday. After work I took off for a six mile run; it was a bit warmer (maybe 46) and lighter than it had been on Monday so it was a nice run. I felt heavy for the first three miles but on the return three I was able to get in a groove and felt much better.

Wednesday - 6 miles in 47:13 - 7:53 AP

Thursday morning was pretty much a repeat of Tuesday morning; trainer and Knight Rider. I thought about going swimming but decided that I have many weeks of swimming ahead of me and it would be nice to have one more evening of relaxing.

Friday was day two of the push ups challenge and a short run after work before happy hour. I took off right after work to get in four miles then ran up to our apartment and took a quick shower before heading out to meet Jen and some friends for some drinks.

Friday - Four miles in 31:27

Saturday morning we slept in and took our time around the house before heading out for our long run. This was Jen's first long run since last week's half marathon and it is a hilly run so we decided to do nine miles. Jen wanted to run a quick pace which was fine with me. When we got out to the trailhead it was in the mid-40's but felt pretty freakin cold in the shade (and most of the run is in the shade). We ran the first half together and then on the second half I ran ahead on a couple of the hills and also in the last two miles where I ran ahead to get some pictures.

Saturday - Nine miles in 1:09:40 - 7:45 AP

Here are some pics from the run and also one of the desserts I made this last week. Lemon Bars and Brownies, from scratch. They turned out really well - I could have eaten the whole pan but decided instead to share them with my co-workers.