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Finally got some fresh air!

As convenient as running on the treadmill can be, nothing beats getting outside and beating the streets.  Last night wasn’t as bitter cold and windy as it has been, so I took off on a quick two mile run around town followed by some strength work at the gym.  I don’t know what I will do when the day comes to move out of my current house.  The gym is so close and the proximity to safe streets, roads, and trails makes it hard to beat for running. Today is a scheduled off day for me, but I plan to get a good 6 to 8 miles in tomorrow as the weather looks really good for January in mid-Maryland (54 degree and sunny).

I have been using Hal Higdon’s (www.halhigdon.com) training outlines since day one.  I am currently working through his intermediate 10 miler/15K program.  I like the increased focus on strength training and speed work.  I may have to build in an extra rest day here and there, but otherwise, I’ve found his programs effective in the short time I have been using them.  The main thing I like is that his website is laid out simply and the “printer friendly” versions of his programs really are printer (and browser) friendly.  Format and accessibility are so critical to whatever you’re selling or sharing on the web.  There is nothing worse than clicking dead links or needing to upgrade software programs just to get whatever it is a link leads to. 

My plan is to run in the Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run http://www.timkennard.org/ down in beautiful Salisbury, MD on March 4th. The ten mile start is at the same time and place as the 5K start which my wonderful wife to be will be running.  This is her first race so I plan to start with her, pace with her for awhile, and then hopefully take off for a strong finish in the ten miler.  The timing and location of this race couldn’t be better for where I am with my training right now.  Any sooner and I’m not sure I’d be ready for a 10 miler, any later and it would get to close to the Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon in May.  

If you haven’t been to Salisbury, it is a nice old college town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  While I love my mountains out here in Central, MD, you can’t get that brack water out of my veins that easily.  Returning to the shore will be nice…..plus it is REALLY FLAT over there which should make for a good first race experience for my significant other while giving me a good test at a new distance.

This first week of increased training has been solid.  I bumped my intervals up to 4×800 (from 400) and I am anxious for a pretty day for a long run on the roads tomorrow.  Hopefully you’ll get out there too!  Trust me, you’ll feel better if you do!

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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Welcome to sunny Jacksonville! I mean Northern, VA

First and foremost, in my entire life of living in the Mid-Atlantic region I don’t recall a New Years eve being so warm.  At 10AM, I ran a 5K in a t-shirt, and by the end of it I was wishing I hadn’t worn long pants.  This weather is crazy!

SO, I woke up at 4AM yesterday which isn’t far off of my normal wake up time. A few hours later, my wife to be and I headed down to Ashburn, VA for the Ringing in Hope 5K and 10K.  I had no doubt earlier this month that I could improve my time, but my training got all out of whack in December due to my own jackassery.  My time ended up being about 18 seconds slower than than my last 5K, but I’ll take that as a “held steady” given the fact that I was a total holiday party whack job in December.  This race was what I expected as far as the course was concerned.  It was a total tour of your typical Northern, VA townhome, 1/4 acre estate, planned community, sponsored by the folks that built it.

As for my performance, I totally should not have run at all on Thursday.  I did a fast two miles on Thursday and I was sore on race day despite taking off on Friday.  The 3.1 miles of identical homes on top of sore legs totally made this run feel like FOREVER.   That said, given my half ass December of road and gym work, I held my own and I look forward to shaving off minutes come spring.

The Brambleton Ringing in Hope promoters did a good job with the 5K and the 10K.  My only suggestions to race planners who may be reading this would  be that they 1) put more signage leading INTO the giant planned communities off of main roads so people can find them (come on, these developments all look THE SAME) 2) GET A REAL PA SYSTEM!!!!! 3) convince the local shops and restaurants to open early.  The race ended at 10:28 for me and it would have been cool to have been able to grab a meal in the Blue Ridge Grill or Johnny Rockets with the Family without having to wait an hour.  The race promoters did however have awesome snacks and drinks laid out in a way that didn’t crowd the finish line, so great job there.  I crossed the finish line and within thirty yards I was hit up by girls with snack trays….which would be awesome if it happened every time I ran.

While I wanted to shave some serious time this go round, December has been a busy month.  I’m ready to focus back in on my goals, my diet, and my training.  Today, Jenn, my wife to be, picked up my copy of The Washington Running Report and totally decided she wants to do her first 5K in March.  She really enjoyed the atmosphere yesterday.  If she can get the time off, we’ll be at the race on March 4th in Salisbury, MD….she will do the 5K and I will do the 10 miler. This makes me very happy as I know Jenn will enjoy this as much as I do and it will be one more thing we can share in and encourage one another in.

Happy New Year and Happy Running.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Quick Run in the Rain and Testing new Orthotics

This evening had me really torn.  To go to the gym and suffer through treadmill boredom or get a quick 3 or 4 in on the road, in the dark, on a warm but rainy night?  As I stepped on to the porch, I made up my mind.  TO THE ROAD!

I ran a 5K and I wish I had brought my watch.  Despite doing some leg resistance training last night, my legs felt strong and fast.  I focused on getting a quick foot turnover and while I don’t know what my pace was, I know I was operating at a notch higher than my normal pace.  I wasn’t out of breath at the end, but I was pushing myself.

Yesterday, I slipped in some Dr. Scholl’s CF 340 Orthotics into my running shoes.  A year or so ago after a bout with plantar fasciitis, a podiatrist gave me a cortisone shot and fitted me for custom orthotics.  My foot felt GREAT after the shot (I’d be a pin cushion if cortisone was sold OTC).  A few weeks later, my orthotics came in.  After about two weeks of wearing my $350 CUSTOM (as in plaster casted to MY foot and no one elses) orhotics though, not one, but BOTH of my feet hurt again.  I yanked them out, threw them in a drawer and bought a pair of the cheapo Dr. Scholl’s orthotics for $7.99 at Wal-Mart.  Within a week, my feet were fine aside from the first few steps in the morning ($500 worth of podiatry later).

When my knee started acting up, I figured I’d try some of the $50-75 Dr. Scholl’s “Custom” fit (custom as in generic but in more varieties and based off of the foot kiosk they now have at Wal-Mart’s recommendation) orthotics to see if they helped balance things out.  Everything I’ve ever read on knees says, “feet, hips, and muscles around the knees” are critical, so why not start at the bottom.  I ran last night with the new orthotics on the treadmill and my feet got a little sore before the pain subsided.  The same thing happened tonight, I got about a quarter of the way through and the burning in my arches went away.  I’m hoping this is just my feet adjusting to the new addition to my shoes along with the orthotic getting broken in.  Putting an extra 1/4 inch of material in a good pair of shoes always seems silly to me, but I need to experiment and see what works.  These “custom fit” Dr. Scholl’s are a lot firmer and longer than their cheaper versions, so we shall see.

The good news is, my legs felt GREAT tonight, knees and all, and I finished up a quick 5K in the light rain in strong fashion.  Dodging the raindrops was nice too.  Nothing against a little weather when I work out, but I’m not trying to catch pneumonia.  Winter is supposed to come back tomorrow evening, so I’m glad I got a nice outside run in before the changeover.   Running on the treadmill is a good alternative, as is the weight work that can be done at the gym, but beating the street really opens up my senses.

Now get off the couch and go do something!  You’ll FEEL BETTER!

UPDATE:  I’m up to about 10 or 12 miles on the Dr. Scholl’s CF 340 orthotics and they offiically feel great!

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Speed Work

When I set out after my first 5K race in Baltimore to shave 3 minutes and 47 seconds or more off of my time in just over a month, I knew speed work would have to be brought in to the picture.  I began doing intervals on the treadmill, 4×400 one week, 5×400 the next (400 is 400 meters, which is like a 1/4 mile), so on and so forth.  This helps build up the fast twitch muscle fiber I think.  I enjoy these workouts as they really push me over a relatively short period of time while breaking up the monotony.

I still haven’t taken the time to study this workout and variations of it to see what is recommended from a speed standpoint.  So far I’ve just kind of let my legs and lungs do the talking.  Tonight while doing this, the tv mount on the treadmill came loose and all of a sudden the TV was swinging from a single screw.  I finished my interval, went to my truck, got my tools, and fixed it for the gym.  For the record, this part of the treadmill was broken before I got on it.  Oh well, at least I looked cool walking in with a tool box after I looked like the dork who knocked the tv off its mounts trying to run super fast.

If you’re reading this, you should get up and go workout!  You’ll be glad you did.  I FEEL GRRRREAT!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Ringing in Hope- Brambleton (Ashburn, VA) 12/31

I decided to sign up for the Ringing in Hope 5K in Brambleton on New Year’s Eve, http://bit.ly/rHH3en.  I’ve got to do some schedule fenagling with work, but I felt like adding a race close to home before 2012.  I need things on the immediate timeline or I get sidetracked, especially during the holidays.  Tossing another short term goal/progress marker before I get super serious about training for my first half-marathon in Frederick, MD on May 6th, 2012 seemed like both the logical and fun thing to do.  http://www.frederickrunfest.com/

A half-marathon shouldn’t be hard…thats only like 6.55 miles right?  Oh, wait….13?  13.1?!!!  I still suck at fractions.  The thought of a 13.1 mile race seemed like a distant if not laughable goal five months ago, but my base is building and on days I run long, I feel like I can keep going.  I just don’t want to up the mileage to fast in order to avoid injury and burnout. 

My biggest concern during the holidays is losing the fitness level I’ve built since I began (restarted) this journey back in July.  When I was in college, in the weight room, there were the typical motivational quotes on the wall.  One said, “The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.”  Truer words have never been posted on a musty gym wall.

The holidays offer a different set of challenges.  Travel, being on an inconsistent schedule, and the obvious celebratory foods and beverages will all play a roll in tearing a person down if steps aren’t taken to combat the urge to be gluttonous and lazy at the same time.  With that in mind, along with my goal to run a mile a day through the holidays, I figured adding one more race right down the road from home would be a nice year end capper and half-marathon training kickoff.

It should be noted that I loathe Northern, Virginia (most of it anyway…South and East of Leesburg) and my guess is this race is going to be in a giant, boring, subdivision of townhomes where no one knows their neighbors seeing as how packet pickup is at a homeowners association.  Let me tell you something:  If my neighbors ever think they’ll get me to join an HOA, they better be prepared for a purple house with neon green pintstripes, accented with hubcaps, and a rock concert on the front porch every Wednesday night.  BOOOO TO BORING NEIGHBORHOODS!

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The War Correspondents Memorial Loop

Left the shop around 2 today and got home with plenty of daylight to spare.  60 degrees at the end of November?  Yeah, I’ll take it.  It won’t be long and the shorts and t-shirts will have to get put away.

Took a short ride up to the Courier/Messenger Monument up in Gapland State Park and started from there.  I have never started a run with a steep down hill, but it felt good to work some different muscles.  Soreness in my quads should set in within the next 36 hours or so.  I then hopped on 67 before turning up Townsend Road heading back towards the monument.  Reversing this route would be BRUTAL given the steep hill, but Townsend Road is no joke with gradual inclines back up to the top of the mountain.  Long and gradual can be just as hard as REALLY FREAKIN’ STEEP.   I try to shorten my strides and move my foot strike forward, and use my arms more on hills.  It seems to help.

I had to stop at about 3.0 miles, but after a short walk, I was able to finish up nicely at the top for a total of 3.2.  I need to find some flatter courses to get some distance work in.  Not that I am looking for ease, but to add the distance and learn my pacing, the hills around here burn me out to fast.  Despite burning them up on the backstretch hills, my legs feel really good and my lungs are gaining capacity and endurance.  My hope is to find a flat route tomorrow and put in 6 or 7 miles before an easy day on Monday.

Now, get out and do something while this beautiful weather lasts!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Frederick Waystation Turkey Trot (more like a gallop)(updated with official time)

Got up bright and early and headed 15 miles up the road to the lovely Baker Park section of Frederick for the Waystation 5K Turkey Trot.   I don’t know what it was, the fact that I didn’t sleep well last night, the terrible weather we’ve had up until this morning, my lack of a good diet plan, but I felt off this morning.  It could be the fact that I typically run at night, but regardless, I got to the race site and loosened up.  My round goal coming into this race was to break 28 minutes, a little over a month after my 31:47 in Baltimore.  The Frederick course is fairly easy by Frederick County standards.  The only inclines are very mild and not very long, so I knew I wouldn’t have to deal with the burn of steep hills like we have here in Brunswick.

After the 1K started, a bunch of folks started meandering over to the start/finish line to get lined up.  First, I must say, the “turkey hat” is so 1998.  I must however give major props to the young Asian fellow and his girlfriend who came dressed to run in Indian brave outfits complete with war paint and tomahawks.  As I’ve said before, the running crowd is very “white”, very cheesy, and very diverse….but seriously, no turkey hats next year.  We get it, it is Thanksgiving.

I picked a spot a little closer to the front than I did in my last race and waited…..and waited….and waited.   Finally a giant turkey gave the go signal and off we went.  While my legs were very fresh from taking it easy this week, I started out of the gate WAY to fast.  When we hit the first mile marker, my breaths to strides were way out of whack.  I pared my speed back a little bit but never hit that sweet spot where I know I can just keep going  without any trouble.  I seriously had to push myself.  My goal went from “sub 28” to “just finish this damn thing without stopping.”  I need to focus on pacing early and I need to learn to tune out the runners around me as they entice me to go faster than I should too soon.

As we came past Park School, I could see the park’s band shell and the balloon gated finish line.  At that point, I knew I would finish, but how hard could I push?  As I rounded the last turn, an elite runner who had come to the corner to cheer said, “27!” to someone.  Suddenly I realized my goal might still be in reach.  I pushed.  When I crossed, the clock showed “28” and some change and my stop watch had me 28:34 after about 20 seconds of fumbling for it in my pocket while trying to catch my breath.  I will post my chip time when it is made official.  Needless to say, I had mixed feelings.  Yes, I was very close to my goal, but not quite where I wanted to be, BUT, I learned a few things about starts, pacing, and running on cold mornings that I will have to take into consideration for the future.  I have made good strides since I started running again and I am happy with my progress.  I am NOT anxious to see the law of diminishing returns start kicking in, but I know it will, but hey, when you hit that peak, find another gear!

Race Review:  The course was very nice.  Not much for elite runners to get excited about, but plenty fun and safe for runners at all levels.  Baker Park makes for a nice backdrop and the folks in the neighborhoods are very gracious in giving up some parking, not being able to use their street for a few hours, and coming out to spectate for this event.

Two criticisms:  One, get a REAL public address system.  I don’t understand why everyone that promotes events doesn’t own one.  My band had a NICE PA that cost Tony like $1200 back in 2005.  Yes, that is a lot of money, but we played rooms no bigger than my kitchen all the way up to roller rinks and STILL had volume to spare.  We also played plenty of outdoor gigs with it and everyone could hear us just fine.  Megaphones and piddly little PA’s don’t cut it for outdoor events with thousands of people.  If you’re a promoter, a charity, or an event organizer, make this investment, you will not be disappointed.

Second, all of Baker Park was available yet they crammed everything on the landing up between the band shell and the old armory building.  It just made for a crowded mess at the finish in regards to finding water and space to cool down.

Other than that, great event for a good cause.  http://www.waystationinc.org/turkeytrotinfo.htm

Chip times came in just a few minutes ago:  28:08 for old Hankdawg!  About 12 to 15 seconds better than what I had estimated.  Very pleased, but anxious to see a 27 or better in the minute column.  This put me 44th out of 90 men in my division, and 454 out of 986 men.  I like that I am hanging with or near the 50 percentile in both my age bracket and overall given the fact that I’ve only been training for a little over four months.  

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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