Thursday, October 10, 2013

RANDOM POST-RACE THOUGHTS

Now that I’ve had a few days to ponder my marathon, I’ve come up with a bunch of random thoughts.

Given that I ran fairly even splits and moved up nearly 200 places during the second half of the race, you’d think I’d be over-joyed. While I am pretty happy – especially given my last 2 year of running – I can’t help but think there’s more in the tank. If you think about it, I ran a half in June in 1:26:38. If you double that you get 2:53. For discussions sake I’ll say I ran 3:08 (my time without 2 pee stops). That means I needed 15 minutes – or more than 30 seconds per mile – to run the second half. That’s a lot.

The McMillan calculator says I should slow down 9 minutes, or finish in 3:02. Sure everyone is different, but I’ve never had a lot of speed and I tend to get better the longer the distance. Maybe my times actually behave as a bell shaped curve, where they’re below average at both ends of the spectrum – short races and long races – and above average in that 15K to 25K range. That just popped into my head, so I haven’t given it a lot of thought.

While I always try to run even splits, I wonder if it’d be worthwhile to go out harder and hang on. I mean when I look at other people’s splits, it seems like the majority of people are running the second half 5 minutes slower than the first half. Maybe if I went out in 1:31, I’d still come back in 1:36 and run 3:07. But honestly, that doesn’t sound appealing to me. I guess that’s why I try to be conservative during the first half.

I must say that my quads have never felt so good after a marathon. I have no idea if it’s due to the adidas boost that I was wearing or not. But maybe there’s something to their “energy-returning boost” midsole. In any case, I’m a believer right now. Even though my legs feel great, I still plan on taking at least a full week off from running. I think the recovery is the hardest part of a fall marathon. The weather is absolutely stunning and I’m forcing myself not to run.

While I still love everything about Grandma’s Marathon, I have to mention that TCM is pretty awesome in it’s our right. The course is terrific. I love starting down town, heading by the Walker then along the lakes, the parkway, and the river roads before hitting Summit and coming up on the Cathedral and the Capitol. And I had nearly forgotten how awesome the crowds are along the course – it’s all pretty hard to beat.

I’m sure I’ll have a lot more thoughts on this in the near future, but that’s it for now.

Monday, October 07, 2013

TCM 2013 - RACE REPORT

Looking back, here’s what I wrote the night before the marathon;

Tomorrow I'd like to go through the half between 1:33 - 1:34. That way if I'm feeling good I can negative split and run 3:05. If things are just okay, I can still hang on for a 3:10.

That’s basically what happened – I went through the half in 1:34:32 and after that, things were “just okay” and I hung on for a 3:09:38 finish. While the half as a little slower than I wanted, it’s because I had to stop to pee at mile 11 and that cost me 50 seconds. Without that stop, I’d have gone through the half in 1:33:42. So my pacing was exactly what I wanted – during the first half my fastest mile was 7:03 and my slowest was 7:15. Another stop to pee at mile 15 cost me 50 more seconds. Without those stops I’d have been just under 3:08. Unfortunately, the clock doesn’t stop when you pull off the course.
Looking back at what I wrote, I think it was a pipedream to think I could run 1:33 / 1:32 or 1:34 / 1:31. The second half of this course is a grid and in order to negative split, the first half would have to feel like a jog. While the first half did feel relatively easy, it wasn’t a jog. And, history has shown, increasing the effort on the second half usually still leads to a 1-minute positive split – at least for me. With that said, my fastest mile during the second half was 7-flat (twice) and my slowest was 7:26. My last 5 mile splits were 7:24, 7:26, 7:12, 7:18, 7:22. Although I slowed on the hills, I ended up moving from 603rd place at the half to 412th at the finish.

I also like to combine my splits into 2 or 3-mile buckets because it eliminates some of the terrain. Looking at 3-mile buckets, here are my splits (they don’t include my two 50-second pit stops);

21:20 – 3 miles
21:27 – 6 miles
21:32 – 9 miles
21:32 – 12 miles
21:17 - 15 miles
21:20 – 18 miles
21:19 – 21 miles
22:02 – 24 miles
14:40 – 26 miles

I kind of forgot about this, but my last 4 of my last 5 marathons have been very consistent;

3:09:43 – Grandma’s 2009
3:10:36 – Whistlestop 2009
3:09:42 – Grandma’s 2010
3:24:41 – Grandma’s 2011
3:09:38 – TCM 2013

I guess the good news is that even though that’s a 4 ½ year stretch, I’m still running just as fast. And now that I think about it, the last 4 have been as a Masters runner, so yesterday’s race is my Master’s PR.

I should mention the weather. It was 45 degrees at the start, the flags were hanging, and the sun was coming out. I don’t think we could’ve asked for better weather – at least for anyone that broke 3:15. After that it started to rain, but I timed it well.

One thing that stands out to me in this race was running with this guy I didn't know, from mile 15 all the way to the finish. We were constantly passing each other back and forth and we never said a word to one another. Heck, I didn’t even know if he knew I was keying off of him. Once we finished and were in the chute we started talking about how much we helped each other. It was really cool – one of those things you can’t plan - they just happen.


High-fives at mile 24.  Thanks to Terrance Lee for the photo.

I’ll end by saying that this whole training cycle has been a blast; changing my diet, shedding weight, mixing in cross training, cutting my mileage, feeling great for workouts, getting in some solid long runs, and just getting back on the marathon “horse” has been great. After the last 3 years of training, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run a decent marathon again. So, it’s nice to be back.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

GO TIME

Here I sit the night before the race. I don't have much to report from the taper. It's been pretty normal, meaning I felt great for about 2 week, but the last week I've only felt so-so. In my last post I wrote about a great run 2 weeks ago that include 2 x 3 miles at MP. Well last Wednesday I ran 7 miles, including 2 at MP. Those 2 at MP were at 7:13 pace, which is slower than two weeks ago - and they felt harder. So like I said, my taper has been normal.

The forecast looks pretty good; 45 degrees for the low, 56 for the high. The biggest concern all week has been the rain. After not having much rain for like 2 months, it's been raining off and on for 4 days straight. Right now they're saying "spotty showers possible". Another concern has been the wind. It seems like it's been really windy all week long, but now they're saying a 5 mpw N/NW wind.

Mainly I wanted to get a final post in before the race to mention my goals and race plan. Some people like to keep this stuff to themselves, but I don't mind sharing. Heck, it's as much for me if I ever want to come back and see what I was thinkng leading up to a certain race. Anyway, everytime I've been asked this week what I'm hoping to run I've said sub-3:10, but I think I have a shot at sub-3:05 on a good day. Right now my race plan is to go out around 7:10 pace, which equates to just under 3:08. If I'm a little slow, like 7:20s for the first 2-3 miles, that's okay. I'd rather be a little slow, than too fast - like I was at the COL 25K where I was trying to run MP and went through the first mile in 6:50. Tomorrow I'd like to go through the half between 1:33 - 1:34. That way if I'm feeling good I can negative split and run 3:05. If things are just okay, I can still hang on for a 3:10. Besides, I can't see a crash and burn if I run in that range for the first half. I'll have to look it up again, but I think anything faster than 3:05:41 and it'll be my fastest marathon in like 5 years.

Just over 12 hours till the start. GO TIME!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

COMING TOGETHER

Two weeks till TCM and I'm just gonna say it; I feel great. It seems like it's been forever since I had a decent training cycle for a marathon. I've really enjoyed this training cycle and I'm liking how things are coming together down the stretch.

Thursday called for 4 x 1200m, but there's this prairie loop at Hyland that is probably between 900 and 1000 meters. It's a great place to get back to my cross country roots, get in a fun workout that includes hills and leg speed.

I decided to head back to the trails for my last 20 miler. After the run I posted on Facebook that I don't know how fast I am, but I sure feel strong - especially considering that this training cycle has included an 18 miler and two 20 milers on the hilly trails of Lebanon Hills, plus a 22 miler on the TCM course.

WEEK #14
Monday: Day Off
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 7 miles on the trails
Thursday: 10 miles with 5 x ~1K run on the Hyland trails
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: BIKED 12.5 miles
Sunday: 20 miles on Lebanon Hills trails

Total:47 miles plus 12.5 miles of biking

Nothing to fancy this last week. Wednesday I hit a dirt track at one of the local middle schools for some 600m repeats. I tried to focus on 5K race pace, rather than going all-out on every repeat. Then today's long run just called for 17 miles, but I added a little twist. During the run I stopped at a high school track and ran 2 x 3 miles at MP. The first set was at 7:15 pace and felt really comfortable. Then I dropped down to 7:01 pace for the last set. I could tell I was working harder than the first set, but it still felt comfortable. So now I'm pretty confident with my plan of going out in the 7:10 - 7:15 range.

WEEK #15
Monday: Day Off
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles with 6 x 600m on track
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Day Off
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 17 miles with 2 x 3 miles at MP on track

Total: 40 miles

Sunday, September 08, 2013

4 WEEKS AND COUNTING

Would it be a marathon training cycle if some doubt didn’t creep in? Things have been sailing along pretty well for 3 month, but then I got a cold and scaled back my training for a couple of week. On Labor Day I ran a 10K that was so-so. While I felt fine, I just couldn’t go any faster. At mile 5, I seriously thought I wasn’t going to break 40 minutes. I figured I had to be at 32-flat at 5 miles and when I saw 32:15 instead, I thought it was over. I was able to pick it up and run my fastest mile of the day to finish in 39:50.

This morning I ran the Jeff Winter City of Lakes 25K. My plan was to treat this like marathon race day and go out at the exact pace I want for TCM, which is in the 7:10 range. I thought I was holding things back, but I still passed 1 mile in 6:54. I settled down a little after that and ran everything between 6:58 and 7:11. If you look at my 3 miles splits, they’re 21:01, 21:19, 21:12, 21:08, 21:07. Overall, my pace was 7:03. What’s the problem, you ask. Well, it didn’t feel like marathon pace. I don’t think I could run another 10.7 miles at that pace.

Of course, there are some factors (read excuses) to keep in mind; I ran 10 miles yesterday, this race came at the end of my biggest week yet, conditions weren’t awful, but not ideal either, blah, blah, blah.

Maybe backing off to 7:10 pace, carbo loading and tapering will be enough come October 6th.

Given that TCM is on a Sunday, and so was today’s race, I’m transitioning from Sun – Sat weeks to Mon – Sun weeks. Not a big deal, but it means I’ll run my last few long runs on Sundays, instead of Saturdays.

WEEK #13
Monday: 10K race, 39:50, 10 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 11 miles with Scott and Lance
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Day Off
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: 25K race, 1:49:30, 18 miles

Total 58 miles

A couple of weird things. How can I love half marathons, but hate 25Ks? And how can a couple of guys that I beat by minutes in the 15K, beat me by over a minute in 10K. I don’t get it.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

VITAL SIGNS

I’m happy to report that I’m over my cold – and that I survived last week’s heat wave where the heat index was over around 105 degrees a couple of days. Given my cold and the weather I decided to keep things easy this week, then I can make a push for 2 more weeks before tapering.

WEEK #12
Sunday: Day off
Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: 5miles
Wednesday: 8 miles with Scott at Hyland
Thursday: Day off
Friday: 7 miles at Lebanon Hills
Saturday: 13 miles

Total 38 miles

Finished August with 171 miles, plus 88 on the bike.

It’s been a while since I mentioned anything about my diet. I still haven’t eaten meat since April. I join a CSA (community supported agriculture) and I get a bunch of fresh veggies every Tuesday night. Each week I feel overwhelmed by the amount of veggies I get, but somehow I’ve seemed to get through most of it. The biggest challenge is figuring out how to use veggies I’ve never eaten before, like fennel and eggplant, as well as how to get through a head of cabbage 3 weeks in a row.

When it comes to my weight, I always try to weigh myself every Saturday morning after my long run. Typically, I’ve been in the 145-150 pound range. Then, from Halloween till New Year’s I probably gain 10 pounds. At the time I switched my diet I weighed 148 pounds. Within a month I was below 140 pounds and I haven’t seen 140 all summer. After yesterday’s run I weighed in at 135 pounds, which is the lowest I’ve been since high school.

Given my new diet – and the fact that I haven’t had a physical exam in 6 years – I thought it’d be a good idea to go see my doctor. I met with him last Friday and here are my vital signs.

August 2013

Total Cholesterol 123
Triglycerides 80
HDL 41
Chol/HDL Ratio 3.0
Non-HDL Chol 82
LDL 66
Blood Pressure 100 over 70
Height 5’ 9.5”
Weight 139 lbs 6 oz
BMI 20.3
Pulse 56
Glucose 96


September 2007

Total Cholesterol 132
Triglycerides 85
Chol/HDL Ratio 3.4
LDL 76
Blood Pressure 90 over 60
Height 5’ 10”
Weight 146 lbs 10 oz
BMI 21.0
Pulse 68

A few things that stand out to me;

Six years ago my HDL (good cholesterol) levels were low, but so my total cholesterol, so my ratio between the two was okay. Now my HDL levels are up and my total cholesterol is down, so my ratio is even better.

I’m six years older by 7 pounds lighter and my Body Mass Index is down a point.

My pulse dropped from 68 to 56.

Oh, it just occurred to me, the spring of 2007 was when I set all my post-college PRs, so this is only 4 months after I was super-fit.

My doctors one suggestion is to take a B12 supplement due to my vegetarian diet. If nothing else, things aren’t getting any worse, so I guess I continue down this road.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

WEEKS 10 & 11

As TCM draws closer, I’ve been trying to come up with a goal time. I’ve been thinking somewhere in the 3:06 – 3:10 range would be nice. That got me thinking about the last few marathons I’ve done. I looked back at my results and found that my best time since 2008 is 3:05:41. It sure would be nice to run my best time in 5 years.

Week 10 of this training cycle had me feeling confident about reaching that goal. After my solid 15K on Sunday I used a 7-mile trail race as a tempo workout. Then I closed out the week with a 22 mile run along the TCM course. Every time I run TCM I try to do this long run where I start at the St. Paul Cathedral and run the course in reverse to Minnehaha Falls and then turn around and come back. This allows me to run miles 15 to 26 of the course, including the hills, when I’m tried. This run went great. I ran the first half just a hair under 8-minute pace, before dropping to 7:40s until I got to the hills, where I dropped down to 7:30s.

WEEK #10
Sunday: 15K race – 1:01:31 (6:36 pace), 12 miles total
Monday: Day Off
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 7 mile trail race at tempo effort (7:09 pace), 10.5 miles total
Thursday: 5.5 miles
Friday: 37 miles of bike commuting.
Saturday: 22 miles

Total: 55 miles, plus 37 miles on the bike

As I looked at the last 2 weeks of training or so, I knew I was cranking things up and that I needed to be careful. I still haven’t been running a ton of miles, but the intensity has kicked up a notch; 4 x 1K on the 7th, 15K race on the 11th, tempo run on the 14th and 22 miler on the 17th. In addition, after that 22 miler I ended up volunteering to help set up a local triathlon from 1-5, so I was on my feet for 4 more hours. And I was up the next morning at 4 AM in order to help with parking and a water stop.

It turns out, all that combined to be too much. By Tuesday afternoon I had caught a cold. Normally, when I get a cold, I feel the best when I can get out for a run. However, this week I was just exhausted. So I took a bunch of days off and didn’t worry about my mileage.

WEEK #11
Sunday: Day Off
Monday: 14 miles of biking at lunch, plus 2 miles with x-c kids
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: Day Off - COLD
Thursday: Day Off - COLD
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: 11 miles

Total: 25 miles, plus 14 miles on the bike

The good news is I’m feeling a lot better. The bad news is that is supposed to be brutally hot and humid this week. I’ll get some runs in, but I don’t see anything being fast or long.

6 weeks from today!

Monday, August 12, 2013

WEEKS 7-9

Dang, where does the time go? It seems like I can’t even keep this thing updated every two weeks. Anyway, things are still going well since my last update. Nothing overly exciting, but I did get in my first 20 miler and I’ve added in some speed, as well as another race to report.

WEEK #7
Sunday: Day Off
Monday: 5.5 miles
Tuesday: 7 miles with strides
Wednesday: 12 miles with Scott – back to the Hyland trails
Thursday: Day Off
Friday: 10 miles
Saturday: Day Off

Total: 34.5 miles

WEEK #8
Sunday: 20 miles at Lebanon Hills, including 4 loops near the mt. bike loop
Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: 6 miles
Wednesday: 7 miles with strides
Thursday: 12 miles with Scott at Hyland Park
Friday: 37 miles commuting on the bike
Saturday: Day Off Total: 51 miles, plus 37 on the bike

WEEK #9
Sunday: 6.5 miles
Monday: 6.5 miles, including 5 @ MP (7:07 pace)
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 9 miles, including 4 x 1K at Como Relays with Evan
Thursday: Day Off
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 6 miles

Total: 39 miles

Yesterday I ran the MDRA 15K, which was my first race since the Garry Bjorklund half. Since I averaged 6:37 pace at that race, I figured I should be able to run a little faster. I did, but just barely, having run 1:01:34 (6:36 pace). Interestingly, I looked up results for other people that ran both races and the majority of them were slower. Of the 13 people I found, 8 were slower – like 10 seconds per mile slower. And four of the five that were faster were only 1-2 seconds per mile faster. The best was 5 seconds per mile faster. I’m guessing the sticky weather and twisty course were the main reasons for the slowdown.

I guess the main take away is that I’m still feeling good about my training and I’m looking forward to the last 8 weeks. I haven’t been able to say that for a while.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

WEEKS #5 & #6

It's been 2 weeks since my last training update and I'm happy to report that things are still going in the right direction.  I've had a couple of tempo runs, a marathon paced run and a fairly quick 18 miler.

WEEK #5
Sunday: Day Off
Mon day: 8 miles with 5 @ 6:40 pace on treadmill.
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 7 miles with Scott and Darrin
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: 45 miles of bike commuting
Saturday: 18-mile run with Scott and the MDRA group, including some sub-7:20 miles

Total: 43 miles, plus 45 miles on the bike

WEEK #6
Sunday: Day Off
Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: 11 miles
Wednesday: Day Off
Thursday: 9 miles with 6 @ 6:35 pace on treadmill.
Friday: 44 miles of bike commuting
Saturday: 12.5-mile run with Scott and Steve, including 9 @ 7:00 pace

Total: 37.5 miles, plus 44 miles on the bike

If your familiar with Daniels' program, you'll probably notice that I'm not following it as it's exactly laid out.  I've moved things around a little in order do some more up-tempo running with guys like Scott and Steve who are both training for Souix Falls, which is 4 weeks before TCM.  That means I've been running more medium-long runs at a quicker pace than I would if I were by myself.  

Another thing of note, given that I ran 13.1 miles at 6:37 pace, my tempo pace should be faster than my last two treadmill workouts. But I'm trying to take what my body is giving me.  The tempo run during week #5 was a struggle, but during week #6 it went much better.  

I'm a little concerned with the next two weeks because we'll have company next weekend and then we'll be out of town the following weekend.  So unless I can get in a long run next Sunday, it may be mid-August before I can get in a 20 miler.  

REVIEWS

I wanted to share a couple more food-related books and a website that I've been using lately.
 
First, my college buddy, Ben, recommended Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman.  Bittman's message is similar to those in books I've mentioned previously, namely The China Study and The Kind Life. As the back of the dust jacket says;
If I told you that the same lifestyle choice could help you lose weight, reduce your risk of many long-term or chronic diseases, save you real money, and help stop global warming, I imagine you'd be intrigued.  If I also told you that this change, while not effortless, would be easier and more pleasant than any diet you've ever tried, would take less time and effort than your exercise routine, and would require no sacrifice, I would think you'd want to read more.  If you do, you'll find an explanation of the links among diet, health, the environment in general, and climate change in particular, and you'll see how you can make a difference.
Bittman explains that when he started to make changes to his diet, he basically followed the whole foods, plant based diet from sun up till sun down, then for dinner, he'd eat whatever he wanted to.  Just by focusing on eating better for two-thirds of his meals, he saw dramatic changes.
I think his subtitle says it all; A Guide to Conscious Eating.  Just being aware of what we're putting in our mouths can make a huge difference.
The next book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esslestyn, was recommend by Gloria.  If you've been following along and checking out some of the food documentaries, you'll recognize Dr. Esslestyn's name from Forks Over Knives and The China Study, while his son wrote Engine 2 Diet and My Beef with Beef.  No, there's no heart disease in my family, but Gloria mentioned the book because it includes more than 150 recipes. As you can imagine, a shift in eating habits requires finding new recipes.

I've spent some time recently at multiple libraries and book stores, trying to find vegetarian cookbooks.  So many of them are a little too gourmet for my taste.  I like things recipes that have easy-to-find ingredients and are tasty.  The handful of recipes I've tried from this book so far fall into that category.

If you'd rather check out websites, my new favorite is Thug Kitchen. I have to warn you that it contains a lot of vulgar language.  Some people may be offended, but I find it so over-the-top that it's funny.  I've probably tried half a dozen recipes from this site and they've all been great.  My favorite so far is Roasted Chickpea and Broccoli Burritos.  One of the things I love about his recipes is that I typically have all of the ingredients in my house already.

If anyone has any other recommendations, let me know and I'd be happy to check them out.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

NEW STORES

What a great time to be a runner in the Twin Cities!  In case you haven't heard, my favorite store, TC Running Company, is opening a second store tomorrow.  It'll be located at 12862 Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove.  How great is that for all the runners in the northwest suburbs? 

But that's not the only area of town getting a new store.  You can now find Mill City Running in Northeast Minneapolis at 411 East Hennepin Ave.  I was able to check out the store Saturday morning.  Although they're still waiting for some inventory to arrive, I liked what I saw.  And if you work downtown Minneapolis, their location is ideal and easy to get to.  Stop by and meet owners Jeff and Bekah Metzdorff.

While at the store I was able to meet Nathan, who operates the relatively new site, minneapolisrunning.com, where he, obviously, covers things going on with the Minneapolis running scene.

As I alluded to in my last post, it finally feels like I'm recovered from my half marathon.  Here's a look at week #5;

Sunday: 36 mile bike ride around the hills of St. Paul
Monday: 16 mile bike ride during lunch
Tuesday: 15 mile bike ride during lunch
Wednesday: 10.5 mile run at 7:20 pace with Scott
Thursday: 5 miles easy
Friday: 5 miles easy
Saturday: 16 miles

Total: 36.5 miles of running and 67 miles of biking.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

WEEK #4

I had forgotten how much a 13 mile race takes out of me. Even with a super light week last week, I feel like I’m just now recovered from the half. Now that I think about it, that’s right in-line with “my formula” for recovery from races, which is to calculate the race distance in kilometers and then divide that by 2. So for a 10K, you’d need 5 days to recover and since a half is 21K, you’d need 10-11 days to recover. Today is day 10.

Week #4 recap

Sunday: Day off
Monday: 4 miles – very easy
Tuesday: 6 miles – very easy
Wednesday: 6 miles – moderate
Thursday: Day off
Friday: 2 x 18-mile bike commute.
Saturday: 10.5 miles with Scott

During Wednesday’s run I tweaked my groin muscle. On Tuesday I did some core work that included leg lifts/raises. Looking back, I’m wondering if that was too soon after the race. My groin still didn’t feel great on Saturday. I was supposed to go 15 miles, but cut that run short. I spent the next 3 days on the bike, but I’m happy to report a great run this morning.

The week only included 26+ miles of running and 36 miles of biking, but I’m okay with that. Recovering from that race was very important. Now, without any races on the horizon, I can focus on TCM training.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

OUT OF CONTROL

Before my marathon predicting gets too out of control here, I need to take a step back and calm myself down. At the end of my last post I mentioned that my goal marathon pace is creeping closer and closer to 3 hours. Well, that statement got me thinking about my past marathons, the races leading up to them and how well the McMillan calculator did of predicting.


If, for example, I run a 1:26:38 half marathon and McMillan predicts that I’ll run a 3:02 marathon, AND I actually go out and run a 3:02 marathon, that’s awesome! However, what does history tell me?

Looking at my last 6 marathons or so, every single one of them was 5-7 minutes slower than what the calculator predicted. As an example, one year I ran a 15K in August that predicted a 3:01, but in October I ran 3:06. So, if my latest half marathon currently predicts a 3:02, based on history it really means I’m in 3:08 shape.

Now I’m wondering if there’s something missing from the Pfitz plan that I typically follow. Is there something I could add into my routine that will get me more in-line with the McMillan calculator? Or is this just normal for some runners? Anyone else out there experience similar results?

Long-time readers may know I’ve run a lot faster than I did on Saturday, so maybe you’re wondering why I’m perhaps overly excited. I mentioned that this is my fastest half in three years. But what really stands out is comparing my MPW between now and then. Here’s my weekly mileage for the 6 weeks leading up to my 1:26:08 in 2010; 64, 72, 77, 51, 80, 80. The 6 weeks before this year’s 1:26:38 were; 42, 40, 44, 35, 41, 35.

I know there’s more to training than just a comparison of weekly mileage, but frankly I was shocked to see the differences; three years older, 44% less miles and only 30 seconds slower. I think where this could really payoff is in the middle of August when I usually start getting the running blahs. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

GARRY BJORKLUND HALF MARATHON RACE REPORT

Man, where to start with this race report? I guess I’ll start with my goal. The only thing I really had to go off of was my recent 19:14 5K. According to McMillan’s calculator, that projects to a 1:29-flat half or 6:48 pace, so I wanted to at least run sub-1:29.

I love the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, but since it’s held in conjunction with Grandma’s Marathon, I’ve only run the half three times; 1996, 2002 and 2013. Given that it’s been 11 years since the last time I ran this race, I had forgotten how much different it is than most half marathons that I run. With an expo, pre-race pasta dinner, bus ride to the start, drop bags, long lines to the biff and not much opportunity to warm up, it felt more like a marathon than a half. I had to keep reminding myself that I was only running 13.1 miles.

Before I jump into the race itself, I should mention that conditions were perfect. The temp was 50 degrees and foggy with a slight tailwind. For those that don’t know this course, it’s basically a straight line for 12 miles and then the last mile has a bunch of turns. So a tailwind at the start means a tailwind for the majority of the race.

Because my goal pace was 6:48s, I wanted to my first mile to be closer to 6:50 than 6:30. After the gun, I thought I settled in pretty quickly and was running very comfortably. The first mile passed in 6:40 and I settled in with Kim, one of my Saturday morning training partners. We stuck together for two more miles and I felt really comfortable. I remember another training partner, Scott, running a 1:28 half marathon last month and mentioning that at mile 3 he wasn’t sure he could hold his pace. He did hold it, but his thoughts on his perceived effort stuck with me. My race effort wasn’t feeling like that at all, so I was really pleased because I was still running low 6:40s.

Unfortunately, the memory on my watch is full, so it didn’t store my splits, so I’ll have to post based on memory and the results website. After my first mile, I didn’t look at my watch until mile 5. Leading up to that split, I told myself I wanted to see anything from 33:20 – 34:00 on my watch because that’s between 6:40 (my first mile) and 6:48 (my goal) pace. When I saw 33:28 I was really please. I was at the lower end of the range and I was feeling really good. Post-race results show that I ran the first 5K and second 5K BOTH in 20:46.

This was turning into one of those races where each mile marker seems to pass very quickly - and where no matter how much you pick up the pace, you never seem to get tired.

The only thing I remember during the third 5K is really trying to take advantage of the down hills on the course. That, and I started to focus on catching people.

Lemon Drop Hill is right around the 9-mile mark and that came and went quickly. As I approached mile 10, I tried to predict the time I wanted to see based on doubling my 5-mile split. Again, I had been hit my lap split at every mile, but not looking at my splits. Based on my 5-mile split of 33:28, I wanted to at least be at mile 10 in 1:07. I was pretty confident that I picked up the pace and was eager to see how much under that time I’d be. I ended up crossing that mile marker in 1:06:27, meaning I ran than 5-mile stretch in about 33-flat or 6:36 pace.

I also happened to glance at my mile split and saw that I ran up Lemon Drop (and down the other side) in 6:30. By now I’m doing some quick math in my head and I figured if I can run three 6:40s I’d be right around 1:27.

Miles 11 and 12 are both sub-6:30 by a second or two and now I know I’ll run sub-1:27. Not sure if that caused me to let up a little bit or if turning into the wind slowed me down, but my last mile was back around 6:40 pace. I ended up crossing the line in 1:26:38. That was good enough for 130th place out of 6,626 runners and 11th out of 323 in the 40-44 age-group.

Afterwards someone asked me if this was a PR. I said it wasn’t, but it was probably my fastest time in like 5 years. Of course, that got me thinking about my recent half marathon performances and how this ranks. It actually turned out to be my fast half in 3 years. Back in 2010 I ran 30 seconds faster than this race. Prior to that, in 2007, when I was racing really well leading up to my marathon PR, I ran 1:21:49. I also ran a 1:20, right after college, and a bunch of 1:23-1:25’s prior to turning 40. So this isn’t my best time ever, but based on age-grading it ranks up near the top.

It also means that my goal pace for TCM is creeping closer and closer to 3 hours.

WEEKS 2 & 3

Here’s a quick recap of Weeks #2 and #3:


June 9th – 15th

Sunday: Day Off
Monday: 8 miles on Hyland trails
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 10 miles on Hyland trails with Scott
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: 2 x 20 miles of bike commuting
Saturday: 13 miles with 8 @ MP – averaged 7:15 pace

Saturday’s workout is the only one worth mentioning. I wanted to hold 7:10 pace. Typically, I find these workouts difficult, especially if I’m running solo. During the warmup I was telling myself that it’d be okay to start a slow as 7:30 pace and then work into a faster pace throughout the workout. However, my first mile ended up being 7:02 and then I backed off to 7:08s. I went through the first 5 miles at 7:07 pace – then the big hills hit and my last 3 miles slowed, including a 7:45 up the biggest hill. Overall, I was really pleased with how my first MP workout went.

June 16th – 22nd

Sunday: Day Off
Monday: Day Off – drove 4 hours to see my parents
Tuesday: 10 miles on Whistlestop Marathon course
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Day Off
Saturday: 14 miles, including half marathon in 1:26:38 (race report to follow).

I felt a little guilty taking Monday off, but with a half marathon on Saturday, I wanted to make sure I was rested – especially after my MP workout.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

CHEW ON THIS

As a marketer, we constantly talk about testing 1 variable at a time in order to figure out that variable's impact on the results.  Anything more than that and it's hard to tell what change led to the results you're seeing. The same thing goes for running.  What if you increase your mileage and add speedwork at the same time?  Then it's hard to know why you're running so great (or why your injured).

That's kind of the boat I'm in with my dietary changes.  I pretty much cut meat and reduced processed foods at the same time.  So I'm wondering which is more important.  I think I was originally leaning towards cutting meat, but, then again, I didn't eat a lot of meat to begin with - especially red meat.  Now I'm definitely thinking that cutting processed foods is much more important. 

I'm by no means, perfect.  I still find myself grabbing a handful of potato chips, throwing pretzels in my lunch, and grabbing a granola bar in a pinch.  But I've definitely reduced the amount of processed foods I'm consuming.  When you reduce those high caloric, nutritionally poor foods with low caloric, nutritionally rich substitues you are going to see, and feel, a big change.

The more I learn about this stuff, the more scared I get.  Did you know that kids born after 2000 are the first generation ever - EVER - predicted to have a life expectancy LESS than their parents?  That's my kids' generation.  I wish I could say I disagree, but then I look at what they are eating.  My youngest daughter is the worst.  If it weren't for apples, I swear she wouldn't have anything nutrional in her diet.  She lives on chicken nuggets, frozen waffles, cinnamon rolls, potato chips, string cheese and yogurt.  Of course, her yogurt has to be the kind with M&Ms or Oreos on the top.   

The other day I happened to look at the "individual" sized ice cream snacks in our freezer.  They're only 10 ounces - that's indivdual, right?  WRONG!!!  According to the nutritional label, that's 2.5 servings - at 150 calories per serving.  So my kids get home from school and immediately grab nearly 400 empty calories.  Maybe worst of all, my wife had no idea.  No, worst of all is that we're no different than the majority of parents.  We gravitate to what's quick, easy, cheap, and taste good.  Unfortunately, that's processed foods put out by major food manufacturers.

I can't say that this blog will get anyone to change their diet, but hopefully it'll get people thinking, talking, reading nutritional labels, etc.

If you're interested, here's one of the first videos I came across on this topic.  It's chef Jamie Oliver's TED talk.  If you subscribe to Netflix you can also watch it there, plus there are 13 other episode of their "Chew on This" series.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

WEEK #1

Week #1 is in the books:

Sunday: 8K of roller skiing
Monday: 8 miles w/ 4 @ LT on Hyland trails + 12 mile bike ride
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 10 miles on Hyland trails with Scott
Thursday: Day Off
Friday: 2 x 21 miles of bike commuting
Saturday: 12 miles on Lebanon Hills trails

For Monday’s lactate threshold workout I thought about running on the treadmill in order to maintain a steady pace. However, it was so nice outside that I decided to run Hyland instead. I ran hard for 27 minutes in the middle of the run and called it LT.  At lunch it was so nice out that I went for a 12 mile ride.

Wednesday’s run with Scott was comfortably hard. I ran this loop solo the previous week in 82 minutes. With Scott it took 77 minutes, so 30 seconds faster per mile.

Thursday called for an easy 5 miles, but I woke up and felt like drinking coffee and planning some projects I need to get done. So I did.

The past 2 Fridays I’ve been commuting to work by bike. Typically, I drive to Lake Nokomis or Fort Snelling and then ride the Parkway to the lakes and then hop on the Greenway to get to Eden Prairie.

Here's my new road bike I bought last fall.  Love it! (Sorry for the crappy picture.)
Saturday was a great solo trail run on the hiking trails near the Lebanon Hills mountain bike trails. This is one of my favorite trails runs as it’s not nearly as busy as the main trails at Leb. Plus, it has some great hills!

There you have it, only 35 miles of running, but if you add up the skiing and biking, that’s nearly 9 hours of cardio for the week.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

THERE'S A CHANCE

I think the older we get, the faster we used to be. I’m not talking about PRs. Like most runners, I know all my PRs by heart. I’m talking about all those other races throughout the season, and career, that aren’t run when you’re super fit.

I have all my race history written down somewhere. The problem is that it’s not in one convenient place. Anyway, after my recent 5K I started to wonder how that time compared to others I’ve run over the years. I remember one summer when I was racing a lot and I ran 17:40 and 18:15 within a couple of weeks of one another. However, I don’t think those courses were certified. After doing a little digging, I found out that that was way back in 2004. And in 2007 I remember running 17:52 at the Brian Kraft 5K. I was really fit the first 6 month of that year, leading up to my marathon PR. I ran a 37:47 10K and a 1:21:49 half before running 2:57:29 at Grandma’s.

So those are the outliers. What about all the other years? I know I didn’t run sub-18 any other years, but I must have been low-18s, right? Wrong! Just looking at times from the same race here’s what I found;

2002 – age 32 – 18:44
2004 – age 34 – 18:39
2007 – age 37 – 17:52
2008 – age 38 – 18:44
2009 – age 39 – 18:58
2013 – age 43 – 19:14

None of my other races were sub-18:30 - I was a little surprised by that. Of course, my 19:14 isn’t sub-18:30 either, but what if we look at my age-graded percentages over the years? It turns out that my recent race was my second best – only behind that great year I had in 2007.

2002 – age 32 – 69.25%
2004 – age 34 – 69.56%
2007 – age 37 – 73.89%
2008 – age 38 – 70.96%
2009 – age 39 – 70.57%
2013 – age 43 – 71.62%

I keep harping on it, but what I find most amazing is that I’m not running a lot of miles. I only had 151 miles in May, along with 25K of roller skiing and 125 miles of biking. Maybe placing more emphasis on cross-training is leaving me fresher, but I think my new diet has even more to do with it. I mean, when you’re lighter than you’ve been in 25 years, it’s going to have an affect on your race times.

As you can imagine, all of this has combined to fire me up. So I said what the hell and signed up for TCM. That happens to be 18 weeks from today. Long-time readers know I like Pfitz’s marathon training plans, one of which happens to be 18 weeks long. Normally, I’d shoot for the 70 MPW plan, but this time around I’m going with the 55 MPW plan because it includes 1-2 cross-training days per week, so I’ll be able to get on my bike or roller ski. Hopefully, that’ll help keep me fresh and motivated throughout the entire summer.

I don’t have a goal yet, but if you believe all the calculators out there, 3:05-3:10 appears to be the range I’m in right now. One of the downsides of WAVA is that you start to play with it and see what the possibilities are – or aren’t. For example, a sub-3 marathon for a 44-year old man equates to 73.45%. That’s means I have to get back into the shape I was in 2007 to even have a shot at that kind of time. Of course, that reminds me of the scene from Dumb and Dumber.

Lloyd: What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me... ending up together?

Mary: Well, Lloyd, that's difficult to say. I mean, we don't really...

Lloyd: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?

Mary: Not good.

Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?

Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million.

[pause]

Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance... *YEAH!*

Monday, May 27, 2013

BRIAN KRAFT 5K

As I mentioned last time, the little ‘5K’ at work got me excited to see what I could do on a certified course. In the Twin Cities, Memorial Day means the Brian Kraft Memorial 5K. I’ve written about this race numerous times. It’s just over one lap around Lake Nokomis and the lagoon, making it flat and fast. It’s also small (this year’s race only had 474 finishers), but nearly every fast runner in the state is there. I had a solid race this year, but I was still 158th place overall, 136th man out of 292, and in the 40-49 age group I was right in the middle, placing 32nd out of 65 runners.

More importantly, I was about 15 seconds faster than my work 5K. My splits still need a little work, as I ran 6:03, 6:12, 6:20, and :39 for a final time of 19:14. But while I slowed a little during each of the miles, I was moving up in the field throughout the entire race. Again, this is about 15 seconds per mile faster than I was racing 18 months ago, so things are looking up.

Now I have to decide what to do. The marathon is constantly tugging at me, but I honestly don’t know if I want to go down that route again. On the other hand, if I just run short stuff, there aren’t a whole lot of races that I’d run that wouldn’t fit in with marathon training. So I guess that means I’m leaning towards TCM.

Here are the complete results for the men and women.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

WHAT RUNNERS WANT TO KNOW

You can probably tell that I like books, especially when I’m trying to learn something new. I have a ton of books on running and I love following the Minnesota running scene. So it’s safe to assume I’ve read Minnesota-native, Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run. But actually I hadn’t read his book until just recently. I guess I figured, I don’t run ultras and I’m not a vegan, so his book isn’t for me.


With my recent dietary changes, I finally got around to reading it – and I’m glad I did. I guess I was expecting more of a diet book or an ultra training manual, but really, it was neither. Scott simply tells a bunch of great stories about his running career, while weaving in his experiences with food and how he gradually transitioned towards a plant-based diet.

While reading the book, it helped a little that I “know of” his buddy Dusty that he mentions throughout the book. Back in 2003 I crewed for Dave Dehart at the Ed Fitz 100K. Dave had a great race, if I remember correctly he was 4th in about 6:45. One of the guys ahead of him was Dusty. I seem to remember him dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, baggy shorts and a bandanna. Plus, he always seemed to have a smile on his face, which I thought was odd for a 62-mile race. Anyway, he left a lasting impression on his way to 2nd place.

As I was reading the book, I came across Jess Koski’s name too. He lives in the Duluth area, has written some great Minnesota-related running articles in the past, and Jurek mentioned that Jess is also a vegan/vegetarian. Jess and I happen to be Facebook friends – we’ve probably communicated more through Facebook messaging than face-to-face conversations. So I sent him a note telling him I was reading the book and asked for some advice. He gave me a couple of good tips, but what stands out most was his last sentence, “Even as a runner you’ll lose five pounds in the first month or so.”

I touched on this at the end of my last post, but Jess was so right. Last year I was typically around 150 pounds. During my brief marathon training stint, before getting hurt, I was around 145 pounds. Keep in mind I was running 50+ MPW. Now I’m around 141-142 pounds and I’m only running 30-40 MPW. I can only reason that it has to do with cutting out meat and cow’s milk, and reducing processed foods.

“That’s great,” you say, “but what about race results? Will this help my running?” That's really what runners want to know, right? Well, yesterday we held a 5K at work. It wasn’t certified so I wore my GPS. It ended up being 3.14 miles and I ran 19:38 with splits of 5:52, 6:22, and 6:24. Not very good pacing, but I haven’t raced in a long time.

Anyway, these numbers mean nothing without a baseline for comparison. Well two winters ago I did a few indoor track races, including a mile and two 5Ks. I ran 5:53, 19:50-something and 20-flat. If you’re familiar with age-graded calculations, recently my age-performance percentages have been slipping under 70%. Yesterday’s time calculates to just under 72%. That may not sound like a lot, but the difference between 70% and 72% equates to 10 seconds per mile. That’ll save you over 30 seconds for a 5K or 5 minutes for a marathon.

As with anything else, when you start to see improvement, things start to feed upon themselves.  Needless to say I'm excited to see these numbers and to keep them going.  Now I just need to figure out where I want to take them.  I've been kicking around the idea of running TCM in the fall, but I'm not really sure if I want to run a marathon or not.  I have to think about that some more.  In the meantime, I think I'll jump in the (certified) Brian Kraft 5K and throw in a couple more tempo runs leading up to the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.

Here’s a trailer for Jurek’s book;

Sunday, May 12, 2013

TC1 MILE

TC1 Mile - USATF wave.
TC1 Mile - Elite women's wave.

Two of my favorites, Jamie Cheever and Carrie Tollefson.
Garrett Heath after placing 2nd.
Will Leer, bundled up (for good reason) before the start.  He went on to place 4th.


Proof that all Kiwis know one another.  Olympic silver medalist, and TC1 Mile champ, Nick Willis, along with Evan Roberts.

This year I was recruited by Twin Cities in Motion to help tweet about the elites during the TC1 Mile.  I was able to hang out at the start and watch them warmup.  Little known fact, defending champ, Heather Kampf barely made it to the start line.  She had trouble getting her tights off and ended up taking her shoes off, but then she had problems getting her shoes back on.  Since the start times are pre-set, the starter has to begin the race at the set time.  Heather literally made it to the line with about 8 seconds to spare.

After the women started, I hopped in a van than led the men down the course.  During their race I was on the phone, giving play by play, with a guy that the finish.  This sounds easy, but when you consider that the race is less than 4 minutes, it's over before you know what was going on.

Anyway, it was still a pretty fun experience.  Other highlights from the night; 1) a brief chat with Jamie Cheever, congratulating her on her 22-second PR in the steeplechase recently.  Pretty crazy for a sub-10 minute race.  I didn't realize that she also has a blog.  2) Meeting longtime blogger, Eric Sondag of North Dakota. 3) Talking with Charlie Peterson (aka Mr. Carrie Tollefson) about their soon to be second child.  4) Hanging out at the finish line only to look up and see my friend, Evan Roberts, chatting with Nick Willis.  It turns out their parents are friends back in the motherland.

Quick update on my own running.  I'm only running 5-6 days per week, typically between 25-40 miles.  Plus, I'll throw in some cross training that usually gets me to 7-8 hours of exercise per week.  Solid, but not over-the-top.  I'm not following any type of training plan.  I was trying to mix in tempo and speed work on the treadmill, but now that it's nice out I haven't really been doing that.  I have done a couple of hill workouts instead, along with some strides.  My long run is up to 15 miles. 

Last weekend I had a great 3 hour bike ride.  I made the mistake of riding the first 25 miles with a tailwind.  Then I turn around, bonked, ate a Picky Bar, and barely made it home.  Today I had an awesome 2 hour trail run with just 20 ounces of water.  After both of those long workouts, I weighed in at 141 pounds.  I don't remember what I weighed in college, but I doubt it was less than that.  I think I was around 135 as a senior in high school.  More importantly, I've been feeling good lately and I'm enjoying "training". 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

THE KIND LIFE

My last post was mostly about The China Study.  I great book with a bad title.  I think the publisher would have been better off with a different name - at least in terms of getting people to randomly pick the book from the shelf at the store or library.  Anyway, it's written by a scientist and he talks a lot about his studies and presents a lot of charts and graphs.  If you're looking for something in an easy-to-read format that just says what's good and bad and why, then check out Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet.


Some of the reviews say she's a little too preachy and that her recipes contain too many hard-to-find ingredients.  I can understand that she can come off as too preachy, but I think she does a good job of explaining why certain foods are good and why some are bad.  They're short, quick explanations, rather than having to read through some scientific study.  Honestly, I haven't read through her recipes yet, so I can't comment on that.

I mentioned this book to my co-workers and they immediately told me about Alicia making news recently for basically regurgitating the food for her toddler.  Okay, that's a little over the top, but it doesn't keep me from recommending her book.

I'm finding out that people definitely need to make their own decision when it comes to eating habits.  These same co-workers and I have been talking about diet a lot more recently.  No only because of my changes, but because they've been doing Weight Watchers and they've also watched Fat Sick & Nearly Dead.  One gal even bought a juicer after watching that.  Even though I've mentioned the books I've read, shows I've watched, and improvements I've experienced, I don't think they're buying it.  

Saturday, May 04, 2013

BE THE CHANGE

In a recent post, I mentioned the food documentary Forks Over Knives. Much of that movie talks about Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his book, The China Study. I was able to pick this up at my local library and just finished the other day. Dr. Campbell points out a lot of interesting things that really got me thinking. He talks about his study on animal proteins, including cows’ milk and the cancer rates he saw in mice. He talks about how strong the meat and dairy industries are and how they are able to control everything from the USDA’s food pyramid to what gets served in our schools’ lunches. He talks about how the pharmaceutical companies basically control the hospitals and doctors. Then, of course, there’s the influence each of these industries has over our government.

I admit I found this book fascinating, but I also wanted to keep an open mind. After reading, I starting searching the internet for what others were saying about this book. Of course, there was a lot of praise out there. And, of course, there was a lot criticism as well.

I just pulled one example of each in order to present both sides of the “argument”. I don’t want to come here and say “Eat this, not that. Or Else.” I mean, what credibility do I have? It hasn’t even been 3 weeks since I gave up meat. Instead, I want to encourage you to at least think about what you put in your mouth and how it relates to your health. And to do some research on your own.

Granted, this request probably sounds weird coming from someone without any health issues, who exercises a lot, and, at 5’10” and 145 pounds, is well within the normal range of BMI. Unfortunately, while I may be “normal”, we all know that the vast majority of Americans are overweight or even obese. We hear about this all the time! You can’t turn on the news without hearing about America’s poor health – even though we’re spending more on health care than any other country in the world!


How can that be? How can we spend more and more on health care, but get sicker and sicker?  As Dr. Campbell says, it should be called a disease care system instead.

I find it interesting that people all (now) seem to agree that smoking leads to higher rates of cancer. Yet, people don’t seem to think that the foods they eat and drink have any bearing on their health. Sure, we agree that eating like crap can lead to obesity. But, isn’t it at least feasible to think that the foods we eat and drink (namely the animal-based proteins that Dr. Campbell writes about) can also lead to diabetes, cancers, autoimmune diseases, etc.?

Again, I encourage you to at least think about it. Watch some food documentaries, pick up some books at the local library, visit some websites and read the comments. Learn about the meat, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries and the health care system and how (I believe) they’re all connected in some way to many of the major problems facing the U.S. and the world.

Quote of the day;
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

ALL BUT FORGOTTEN

Just a short post because I said I'd try to post at least once a week.  It's been just over 2 weeks without meat and things are going well.  The real challenge came last weekend during back-to-back guys' nights out.  Burgers and beers have always sounded good, but I opted for the Portabella Mushroom burger one night and the Veggie burger the other night.  And last night we grilled out at home and I replaced the Johnsonville brats that I normally eat with spicy black bean burgers that were yummy. 

Tonight I have another happy hour.  Luckily the place we go has a nice salad bar, so I'll choose that over the sliders, pulled pork and nachoes. 

April turned out to be my biggest running month since last June.  I ran 164 miles and biked an additional 136 miles.  I also did 6 core workout and lifted 4 times.  The number of core and lifting workouts has been slowly dropping since I was all gung-ho in January.  The good news is that I'm still doing something a couple of times a week - because typically these types of workouts would be all but forgotten by this time of the new year.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

PHOTO EVIDENCE

I thought it'd be fun to look back at some before and after photos.  Back in the summer of 2011 I attempted P90X.  Actually, I call it P60X because I only lasted 60 days, instead of the 90 days the program is supposed to go for.  Anyway, I thought I took photos at the beginning and after one and two months, but I couldn't find any 60 day photos.

So the first two photos below are from the start of the program and the second two photos are after one month.  At the time, I blogged that the results were indistinguishable.  While I was stronger, it was hard to see visual evidence.  Looking back, I think part of the issue was that I wasn't doing any cardio work at the time, due to injury, so P90X basically just replaced running.  Also, I didn't adjust my diet at all.

Fast forward to the last two photos which I took yesterday and I think you can see more of a difference than anything I did during P90X.  While I'd love to say this is just from changing my breakfasts from cereal to Nutriblasts or from switching to a plant-based diet.  However, I just added the Nutriblasts at the beginning of April and I've only been without meat for one week.  I think this really all goes back to the start of the year when I started trying to mix in some salads and avoid all the sweets at work.  In addition, I also started adding in a second workout each day.  Basically, I'd try to do my cardio in the mornings, as usual, but then at lunch time I'd go into our fitness center and alternate days of core work with days of lifting weights.  Of course, x-c skiing all winter doesn't hurt either when it comes to things like triceps, abs and shoulders.

After gorging from Halloween through Christmas, I was up to 158 pounds.  Yesterday I weighed in at 145 pounds.  Best of all, I feel great.  Yesterday I had my longest run in probably 7 or 8 months.  I made it 15 miles at 7:45 pace and felt great at the end.  That gave me 50 miles for the week on 6 runs, plus an hour long spin class - and of course, 2 sessions of core and 2 sessions of weights.

July 2011 - before start of P90X

July 2011
August 2011 - after 28 days of P90X

August 2011
April 2013 - 145 lbs

April 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

MAKE A RESOLUTION

The new experiment that I alluded to in my last post has to deal with eating more of a plant-based diet and minimizing the amount of processed food. I don’t want to put a title like vegetarian or vegan on it at this point, but that’s the direction I’m heading.


It all started innocently enough. At work, I was asked to be on a wellness committee aimed and making our employees more aware of some of the benefits we offer, as well as, expanding those benefits. One of the things we do is hang up poster throughout the building on different topics, such as, drinking or texting while driving, eating better, exercising more, etc. One such sign, located by a microwave, simply said “Food Matters”. As I was heating my lunch up one day, a co-worker came by and said, “That was a good movie” as she pointed at the sign. The sign was so simple that I did realize it was a movie.

That night I went home and watch it. It definitely got me thinking, but I wouldn’t say it was a come-to-Jesus moment. It did lead me to seek out other food documentaries like, Get Vegucated, Fat Sick & Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives, Fire Engine #2 Diet, Mad Cowboy. These documentaries typically focus on either the health benefits of a plant-based diet or the cruelty to animals (and environment) side of the argument. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Forks Over Knives. However, if you’re obese and looking for a “solution” then Fat Sick & Nearly Dead is worth 90 minutes of your time.

Probably not surprising, I’m more concerned with the health benefits. We constantly hear about the Western Diet and the correlation between our health care woes. We hear it so much that it’s hard for me to think anyone in this country isn’t aware that “food matters.” We just don’t want to do anything about it. We like the taste of our meat, dairy, sweets, chips, etc. And we like the convenience of our highly processed, pre-packaged food. But as any of the documentaries will tell you, these foods are high in calories and low in nutrients.

I like to think I was eating healthy. Breakfast typically consisted of a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, or similar cereal, with a banana and milk. Then I’d have yogurt for a morning snack. Lunch was usually leftovers from the previous dinner or canned soup if I was in a pinch. Almost every lunch also included carrots, pretzels and an apple. Dinners didn’t include a lot of red meat, but we like chicken and probably eat brats once or twice a week in the summer. There’s frozen pizza most Friday nights. Once in awhile we’ll throw in canned veggies like peas or corn.

It’s hard to go from all that to plant-based over night, but like I said, I’m heading that direction. One thing eliminated is the cereal and milk for breakfast. I’ve replaced that with a NutriBlast. Basically, it involves filing a “blender” half with leafy greens and half with fruit, plus you can throw in some nuts, seeds, powder, etc., and add some water. It’s a simple as that.

Other than that I’ve just been keeping an eye on processed foods. Instead of eating a granola bar or graham crackers after lunch, I’ll reach for some extra fruit. I think this is a process like running. It’s hard to know where to begin at first, but once you jump in and start seeing some results, you can’t wait to proceed even further.

Today I was thinking about all the New Year’s Resolutions about getting healthy that have probably already been forgotten. I think people would have an easier time keeping these resolutions if they educated themselves about healthy eating, at the time they were making their resolution, rather than just saying, “I’m going to eat healthy”.

Of course, you don’t need a new year to make a resolution.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

NEW EXPERIMENT

Given that it's been over 6 months since my last post, I highly doubt anyone will see post, unless they're using some kind of website to track me.  Anyway, as I commented on my last post "maybe after 7 years of blogging I've run out of things to say."  That may be true with running, but I have a new experiment in mind and I'd like to use this blog to document the process.  More on that in a minute, but here's recap of what's been going on.

As I stated in my last post, I'm really focusing more on exercising, rather than "just" running.  Sure there are days where I think to myself that I should crank things back up and see what's still left in the tank.  However, things are going pretty well with 4-5 runs per week, plus x-c skiing in the winter and, typically, 1 spin class per week.

Probably the best news is that my knee is fine.  If I had to place a percent on it, I'd say it's like 98% healed.  I feel it from time to time, mainly while x-c skiing.  I think what finally helped it the most was actually backing off my PT.  Right away I was gung-ho and doing my exercises every day.  Like any other muscle group, I needed to rest and let the training load "soak in".  Once I got into a routine of 2-3 strengthening sessions per week, things progressed quickly. 

While I'm not running a ton, I have been mixing in tempo runs and intervals, like 400m and 1 mile repeats.  All of these types of workouts have been done on the treadmill.  My long run is at 13 miles, which is fine because the only race I have on the horizon is the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging much, other than not having anything to say, is that, since January, I've been trying to incorporate strength training over my lunch hour.  It was during my lunch hour that I did most of my blogging.  Now I'm spending that time in our fitness center, alternating days of core work with days of lifting.  My core work involves following one of McMillan's Core Strength Training for Runners DVDs, which I watch on a mini DVD player.  I've also added in some other core exercises that I found through Pinterest.  As weird as it sounds, most of these are from women's magazines, like Self.  I've done the McMillan DVDs in the past, but usually I peter out after a month or two.  But this time, my New Year's Resolution seems to be sticking and I'm happy with the results.

Another part of my New Year's Resolution was eating healthier.  That's been going okay, but it could be better.  That's where this "new experiment" that I mentioned at the beginning of this post comes in.  Lots of little things have occurred recently that have me thinking about my diet more than ever.  I want to make some changes to my diet and I thought firing this blog up again would be a great way to document the experiment.

I'll share what little things occurred that got me thinking about this, but it'll have to wait till my next post because this is already getting longer than I expected.  I doubt I'll be blogging everyday, like I did about running.  However, I'll try to post at least once per week to share my findings, my struggles, my successes, etc.

Let the experiment begin...