Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Quick report from the beach

Today was going to be my first day in a week of long runs, but it was sadly for naught. I got up late (apparently driving 8 hours in the car is not the same as actual rest) and by the time I got down to the street, the sky had opened up and the rain came down. Not a big deal for a guy like me, right? Exactly. So I hit the road, and I think okay "the rain isn't so bad, I can deal with it." Of course, you know what happens next, right? You got it, lightening and thunder. Okay, now this is the conversation I'm having in my head:

Sane me: Uhhh, hey asshat, that was thunder and lightening.
Runner me: Yeahhh...but the lightening looked far away. I'll just run away from the storm.
Sane me: You do realize that when your wife reads this, she'll tell you that you're an idiot, right?
Runner me: Yeahhh...but that'll be after I got my miles in. Who cares as I long as I can run a gazillion miles?
Sane me: Sonofabitch!!! Hey asshat! That lightening bolt looked pretty f'ing close to me!
Runner me: Let's count it out and see: 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi, 3 mississippi, 4 mississippi, 5 mississippi, 6 mississippi, 7 mississippi, 8 mississippi, 9 mississippi, 10 mississippi. See the lightening is 10 miles away. No problem.
Sane me: Holy Shnike!!!! Did you see that!?! Did you see that!?! That was definitely closer! Go back to the condo!
Runner me: No, no. Count it out. 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi, 3 mississippi, 4 mississippi. Huh. That was closer. Maybe I should go back in.
Sane me: Ya think!?! You sure are a genius. Now get my wet ass back inside!
Runner me: But I've only gone a mile. I bet it will blow over soon. This is the beach after all. The ocean winds will move it out, right? Whoa!
Sane me: See! See! Count that one out!
Runner me: Sigh. Okay. 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi, 3 mississippi. Okay, okay...I'll go back. But if I do get hit and get super-powers, you'll feel silly.
Sane me: STFU and get inside.

Okay, so the conversation in my head goes on like this for another mile till I get back to the condo. I try to belt out a few miles on the dreadmill in the workout room, but I quickly realize that my running form is completely different on the treadmill, which is causing me some pain. So after 3 minutes, I bag it and head back upstairs to go back to bed. I did take this picture from the balcony. Pretty huh?
Hopefully I'll be able to get some real mileage in soon before I lose my mind. But judging from this post, it may be too late for that. Later kids.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Speed kills

Okay, I did a speed run today. Maybe not the best idea in the world considering that I ran 14 miles the day before, but hey that's me. It's been awhile since I did a speed run as I have been focusing on building distance and endurance. But what the heck, I needed to do something different today. Besides it was only a quick 3 miles, and I felt pretty good afterwards. So it's all good.

But wait, you're thinking, "What about the title, asshat? If it was so good, why 'speed kills?'" Okay you got me there. Although I felt pretty good after the run, which I ran in a time of 22:32 mins (7:31 mins/mile), during the run it felt like someone had set fire to my feet and my calves felt like 2 vicious chiuauas were constantly nipping at them. My knees felt like sadistic midgets were kicking them the whole way. My lungs were on fire and the sweat was rolling off my face, stinging my eyes and drenching my shirt. I know for certain that 2 fat kids were hanging from my arms, because I could barely swing them back and forth. My mind had drifted that strange place in my head where the little drill sargent version of me kept screaming at me to get my tired, lazy ass in gear before a gaggle of geriatric nuns decided to pass me backwards. Good times, good times.

This may all sound torturious, and it is in the moment, but it's also oddly cathartic and estatic. The feeling I get after 2 hours of a 14 mile run, I can get in under 25 minutes on a 3 mile jaunt. It's pushing myself past my last best that keeps me coming back. It's the knowledge that after a run that if I train a little better, a little harder, then next time I can do better, go faster, run farther than I did before. So yeah, speed kills. It kills every sane and rational thought to slow down and stop the misery, but it does push me to do better and be better. Am I going to do speed runs every other day? Uh, noooo. But sometimes....just sometimes, it's fun to cut loose and give it all ya got. All right, now I have to finish packing for vacation. Later kids.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vacation Time

Well almost. I'm heading to Gulf Shores with the family and my brother's family. It'll be nice to run someplace relatively flat so that I can work on keeping a constant pace. This week I worked on building mileage, and after getting in a little over 40 miles this week, I would say that I was successful. For now, my training schedule is 40-50 miles every 2 weeks and then a short week of 20-30 miles. The long weeks will be geared towards doing long mileage and building endurance, and the short weeks will be devoted to speed and recovery.

With this in mind, my time in Gulf Shores will fall in a long mileage week. Without the hills to navigate, I should be able to work on keeping a pretty steady pace. I think a pace of 9:30-9:45/mile for the marathon should be do-able as my overall pace is about 9:45/mile right now. However like Nashville is hilly, so too does my pace fluctuate. I wouldn't mind so much if my pace started out slowly and got progressively faster (otherwise known as negative splits in runner-speak). Unfortunately, my pace now starts slow and then rises and falls each mile with no discernable pattern. Knowing the routes that I run, I can attribute many of the dips in speed to where I am on a hill.

Today's run was a fair example of this. I did a 7 mile route, out and back, along HWY 100 from my house to just past my brother's house, pictured here. This route is loaded with hills and I had to speed up a lot on the backend to make it under 10:00/mile. This was brutal, and I could really feel the burn as I hit mile 12 and 13. Still, I did alright, but man, am I tired now!

Hopefully a flatter route will give me a better idea of conditioning and how much I can push myself before the marathon. All right, the kids are bugging each other, so I guess it's time for me to intervene to keep them from killing each other. Later kids.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A few changes

I decided to make a few changes to the ol' blog. First, I changed the name again. Monkey Boy seemed to fit more than Fat Boy anymore. Since slimming down, it seems a little disingenuous to still be calling myself fat. Believe me, I understand the work that it takes to lose weight and keep it off, so I don't want to make it seem like I'm belittling people who are still working very hard at it. I've fairly fortunate to have reached 155 lbs (which seems to be a good weight for me), and calling myself fat at that weight seems like I'm making fun of weight loss. That being said, my wife will gladly attest that I still make decisions with the logic of brain-damaged monkey. Her new favorite line is that I need to "decide in a manner opposite my natural tendencies." That's when I give her my look of mock indignation and shock, but then have to admit to her that I had been leaning towards a decision that clearly lacked reason and forethought. She gets a good laugh, and then in all seriousness, tells me not to follow-through with whatever hair-brained scheme that I've concocted. Ah, sweet love and the games married people play.

The second thing that I've added to the blog is a training log that I found on LogYourRun.com (from another running blog). I had been hesitant at first from putting up a log, because I'm a pretty lazy guy usually. I've been using an online training log from Runnersworld.com, and I really didn't want to spend all night updating my blog with numbers that I had put in elsewhere. Along comes LogYourRun.com and their nifty training log tool that can be imported into my blog. It has most of the functionality of the Runners World tool, but it updates my blog automatically after I enter the info on their site. I was even able to download my stats from Runners World into a .txt file and import it into LogYourRun's training log. Yay for me!

The last addition to the blog is one of the best movie quotes ever! From the now classic Conan the Barbarian:

Mongol General: Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

Heh. That Conan sure knew how to turn a phrase. All right that's it. I haven't run much this week, since I'm still recovering. Hopefully next week, I'll be back after getting in more mileage along with more pithy insights. Later kids!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Downtime is for suckers

I hate not training. I hate it, hate it, hate it. I am terrible at convalescing. Every day the sun peeps out and taunts me to join it in it's splendor. "Come on out, Joel. The weather's great. I bet you can do a PR, if you get out." Ugh. Case in point: I had a minor surgical procedure done on Friday that rhymes with ball-ectomy. The doc told me to take it easy on the weekend and rest. Then Monday I could go back to whatever.

It was all I could do not to tape up my boys and hit the road, but I did as I was told and rested all weekend. Ultimately, I credit my wife and the Sunday thunderstorm with my new found patience and restfulness, because left to my own devices, I most assuredly would have been at the YMCA lifting weights, walking on the treadmill, or something else equally stupid and
determinental to my recovery.

In my defense, my poor lack of judgment can't take all the blame. This weekend I bought a new GPS watch, and like any other kid, or man, with a new toy, I could barely restrain myself from trying it out. For those of you who are interested, I bought the Garmin Forerunner 101 from Target. It was $103 and came with a
water bottle. It is Garmin's entry level GPS, and while it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the 405, I absolutely love it. It keeps up with my time, pace, and distance accurately and provides other little tools to help me in my training like interval timers. Although it requires 2 AAA batteries and is not as streamlined as their other models, it is easy to read and is not as cumbersome as you would expect.

Back to the topic on hand, I admit that I needed the downtime. I was able to catch up on some much needed sleep and read some new books. While it was good to relax a bit, I still felt like I was cheating on my training. Seeing the consecutive empty dates on my training calendar makes me cringe with the shame of the cheater. Although I still consider myself a casual runner, I understand the demands and allure of my goddess, the Run. She cajoles me out of daily funk and offers me the sweet release of exhaustion from muscles pushed to the edge of endurance. She promises me serenity and focus away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. And if I keep my faith to her, she rewards me with a body built to endure even more torturious miles or even better seconds or minutes off a time that only matters to me. Except this weekend, I had to be disloyal to the Run or risk setting myself back even further. It doesn't make the waiting any easier or the guilt of laying off any less, but it was something that I needed. My body needed the time to heal from the miles of abuse to which I have subjecting it, and my brain needed to focus on something other than hill strategies and training revisions.

And now that Monday has come and gone, I am back on the road again. I'm totally digging my new watch, but the Run is punishing me with a minor setback to my training. I feel sluggish and even 4 miles is an effort. But it's an effort that I look forward to making again, and who knows maybe I can coax out a long run tomorrow. Hmmmm.....8 miles would be satisfactory, but 10 would be really great. See ya suckers, I need to rest for my long run!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

2009 Peachtree Road Race

If you want to try a fun 10k with 55,000 of your closest friends, then you should be at the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, GA. I managed to get a bib number off the internet, and thanks to some good friends, the family and I had a place to stay. Due to the number of runners, the race officials decided to have staggered starting times for each group of runners and each group did not have to be at the start until an hour before their official start time (well at least that's when we got there). It was definitely more convenient not having everyone milling about the start line waiting for each corral to start.

The course had several rolling hills, but no cross-overs. Unfortunately, the course was so packed, it was hard to make any headway. My splits were 9:44, 7:56, 7:45, 8;19, 8:34, 8:01 and 1:35 with a final time of 51:54. I didn't feel like I was getting slower in the middle, but like I said, the race was so crowded, I probably couldn't tell.

The weather was warm but not stifling. The crowds were great and very supportive. The mile markers were well displayed and easy to spot. The course had plenty of water stations, and the volunteers were very helpful. I was surprised by the number of people walking the race, but everyone wants to join in the fun, I guess. Will I do the Peachtree again? I'm leaning heavily towards a repeat. My wife and I are talking about next year, and I may even join the Atlanta Track Club to get a better shot at race number!

Friday, July 3, 2009

How I drive my wife crazy

So I told my wife that I was going to take my training easy this week, and I really intended to follow that plan. After all, my office weight loss contest was over (my team came in second and I think that I placed in the top 10), and my right leg was still hurting a little. Monday came and I hit the YMCA to do some weight training and then followed it up with my Tai Chi class. Tuesday and Wednesday I actually took off and rested, but it was killing me to do something. Especially since I ate like a total pig all week. Then when my Dad asked me to pick up his car, I devised my devious plan.

Wednesday afternoon, I picked up my dad's car and drove it to my house. I left my car at my office with an extra change of clothes. So Thursday came, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, got on my running gear, wolfed down my breakfast, and hit the road for my office. I took it slow and easy. The weather was perfect, nice and cool. It was a 14.11 mile run and I did it in 2:40:15 (about 11:22 mins/mile). The nice thing about an LSD (long, slow distance) is that I didn't feel terrible afterwards. My legs were still relatively fresh, and though it was a good run, I felt really rejevuenated. So not only was I able to get in my base miles, I still felt good for the Peachtree 10k that I'm running on Saturday in Atlanta.

And this might have all been great if I had told my wife my brilliant plan. I did not tell her, and she didn't find my tiny note that I left on the stove. So when she woke up and didn't find me anywhere in the house, she called me when I was about a mile and half from the office. Needless to say, she wasn't very happy when I told her I was nearly at the end of my 14 mile run. I was sorry that I made her upset, but man, it was a great run!

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