Rookie Mistake

January 30, 2010

Four miles into my planned twelve-mile run today, I returned home and had to explain to Sweetie what had gone wrong. “I made an error.” I had absent-mindedly left the cotton boxer shorts I had slept in on under my running pants. It’s been almost three years since I’ve run with any cotton touching me. Cotton is awful for running. It holds water and it chafes. Boxer shorts are probably pretty terrible for running too. Anyway, about two miles into the run, I noticed something was up and figured out what the problem was. I made it back to the house without any damage being done. The synthetic stretchy briefs I changed into felt great after that.

I was experimenting with carrying my Android phone with me during the run and using some software — Instamapper — to allow Sweetie to track my position in real time. It worked pretty well for most of the run, though I seemed to lose data connectivity for the last mile or so. The phone is also a little clunky to carry in a pocket when you’re running. But it’s a fun thing to try. Maybe if I resolve the carrying issue, I’ll open it up and let everyone get real-time updates when I run Eugene in May.

The GPS tracking put the pressure on me to pick an interesting route, since I knew someone was watching. I ran on a bunch of roads I’ve never run on before, most notably the section of SWTrail 3 between Oleson and 45th. Since I was making up the route as I went along, I didn’t hit the twelve miles I was looking for on the nose; I ended up running 12.76 miles according to the Garmin. (That’s right. I’ve got a Garmin GPS unit on one wrist, and a Smartphone running GPS tracking stuff in a pocket. In another pocket, I’ve got a radio, since naturally they couldn’t put an FM radio in a Smartphone, no. It’s ridiculous.)

Adding it up, that’s 41.6 miles this week, unless if I tack on a few more tomorrow, which I probably shouldn’t. Milestone: this is the first time I have ever run 40+ miles in each of three consecutive weeks. Next week: conservative (and fewer/shorter) weekday runs to prepare for a 24-mile trail run on Saturday.

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Lucky sevens

January 27, 2010

My “plan”, as it were, doesn’t call for a long run this weekend, but does call for another 40-mile week. I haven’t really done many 40-mile weeks during my running career, and almost all of them involved really long weekend runs or 31-mile races. In other words, I’m inexperienced at putting in a lot of weekday miles.

I ran seven Monday night, seven and a half Tuesday night (got rained on too), and seven at lunch today (cold and sunny). I’m going to try to run seven at lunch tomorrow, too. Tuesday’s run seemed difficult and slow but today’s was kind of nice — that was probably just the influence of the sun and daylight though.


21 on Leif

January 24, 2010

Somehow I feel like a real runner again once my long runs are 20 miles or longer. Saturday morning I headed out to do 21 on Leif Erickson. Leif is the (car-free) gravel road in Forest Park. It’s a lot less hilly and muddy than the trails, but more hilly and rocky than typical road-running routes. The first couple miles of it are also a lot busier than other trails in the park, with a lot of people choosing to do short runs and walks up there. Bikes are also allowed, but there weren’t that many bikers out on Saturday for some reason. Once you get past the first few miles (the road goes for 11) it gets a lot quieter, and past mile seven or so, it starts to decay into something more resembling a muddy path than a gravel road.

It felt like I had been running quite a long time before I got to the three-mile point. The first bit of Leif is the steepest uphill, and my hydration pack was still heavy with water. The weather was nice, with no rain and even a few sunbreaks in the lower altitudes, though up in the higher parts of the trail it was mostly fog and mist.

For food, I had a few fun-sized Milky Way bars (cheaper and better tasting than Gu or other gels, and it’s all just sugar either way) and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which I ate at the turn-around point. It’s good to practice eating real food when you’re training for ultras. For hydration, I had my hydration pack filled with about 50 ounces of plain water, and a few salt capsules. I often prefer to mix an electrolyte beverage power into my water, but I didn’t have any on hand this time.

I started feeling the run around mile 15 or so. My legs were still good, but some overall fatigue was setting in. By mile 18, my legs were sore too. But nothing specific was hurting, which was good — I didn’t pull, tear, tweak, or otherwise hurt anything that I shouldn’t. Oh, wait, I guess one specific thing did hurt — my back felt achy and tight, probably from wearing the hydration pack. Not too bad, though.

And then at long last I was done. I hadn’t looked at my Garmin at all during the run, and I was pretty surprised later to find out that I had done the 21 miles in 3:07, giving me an 8:55/mile average pace. If you had asked me to guess, I would have said 9:30 or so.


I want to waste away to nothing

January 21, 2010

I’ve seen a rule of thumb that says every extra pound you weigh adds about a minute to your marathon time. Although the exact speed gains are up for debate, I suppose it’s clear from basic principles that carrying less weight lets you go faster — assuming you lose the weight without impacting your leg muscles or cardiovascular system. I’m guessing that continuing to train while you lose the weight generally takes care of that caveat.

I’d really like to qualify for Boston in May and a few “free” minutes sounds pretty good to me now. Taking off ten pounds could make my task a lot easier. There are two downsides:

  1. I love to eat. I’m a foodie and a snacker.
  2. I already look skinny.

Number one doesn’t worry me too much. I embrace the challenge. Since I started running my weight had gone from the low 170s to about 160, and I have some experience with the sorts of behaviors that allow me to more that in a downward direction. First and foremost is weighing myself every morning and tracking the progress. Second is having a concrete goal: I’m doing it to run a 3:20 or better at the Eugene marathon. When I feel like snacking (which is all the time), I’ll tell myself that my hunger is the feeling of getting faster.

Number two. I’m about 156 to 160 pounds now, depending on when you weigh me and how accurate the scale is. At 5’9″, and depending on who you ask, the low end of the healthy weight range for me might be 135 pounds, or 150. My ideal running weight might be 133.  Or 125. There’s no shortage of conflicting ideas here. But I only want to lose 10 pounds and get down to 150. I’m comfortable that would still be a healthy weight for me. Which still leaves the problem of appearance. I carry all my fat jiggly bits in my torso, where they are typically hidden by clothing. My limbs and face already look pretty thin (or really thin, depending on who you ask). I know! I’ll just wear long sleeves and puff out my cheeks all the time. Problem solved.


Who turned up the heat?

January 19, 2010

It was around 56 degrees and dry for last night’s run, which felt pretty odd for the middle of January. Nice, but odd. I regretted wearing gloves within the first 200 yards, and ended up carrying them, rolled up in one hand, for the whole seven miles.


Sometimes I make funny dinners.

January 17, 2010

Roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and ceci beans with egg, toast and Parmesan crispy.


OK, now the mud is getting serious

January 16, 2010

Here are my feet and legs at the end of today’s run:

And, no, I didn’t fall down. That’s all from splashing. If you’re looking for mud, the conditions are prime for it in Forest Park right now.

I ran 18 miles on Wildwood, starting at Germantown road and running nine miles south then back. It was a misty drizzly day, but not cold. My legs felt all right and I didn’t run into any problems, though I was glad when it was over, of course. Even wearing an Injinji liner sock inside a Drymax trail sock, I still got a lot of dirt against my skin, which isn’t a great feeling. Zero blistering, though.

Here are some more pictures from the day:

Two pictures from my turnaround spot, milepost 15.5.

And one from my favorite section of Wildwood, at milepost 19.25.