Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 31

I'm sure all the visitors to the valley for the Super Bowl and PGA Tour may not have found 55 with a light rain may to be all that appealing but for someone who was heading out for a 20 miler it was perfect. Since I only had run 3 miles all week I knew my legs were going to be fresh and the course I was taking was flat for the most part, I was looking forward to a good run.

This wasn't a very exciting run but it was consistent with the first 13 miles pretty much falling in the 9:50-10:10 range. I also think I've found the sweet spot for HR at 133-136 and was able to stay in that range for these early miles. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end as my HR started to rise forcing me to slow my pace.

If getting in the miles and maintaining a decent pace weren't so important with a marathon in 2 weeks I would have certainly slowed it up or even cut the run short. Today, this wasn't an option and I urged myself on with BQ reminders. Right now the focus is to get a 26.2 under my belt but I want it to be with confidence so I allowed my HR to go higher than it should be since my legs felt better if I kept the pace up. I'm not sure if it's just me but doing the marathon shuffle just makes my legs sore.

As the last miles wound down and the run was coming toward the end I actually considered extending it but the rain started to come down a little harder and that idea was put to rest.

All in all I'm very happy with the way the run went. I finished up at 20.13 miles, a personal best, and even though I passed up on 20+ miles to rest my TFL, I still closed out January at 185.9 miles, another personal best.

Next week will be business as usual, although I may opt out of Monday's run, beginning with 9 tomorrow. The plan also calls for only 16 miles on the Lost Dutchman course next Saturday but those hills will make for a great final tune-up before an easy pre-race week.

Week ending January 31st - 32.2 miles
January total - 185.9 miles

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January 29

Nothing beats the feeling of getting back out on the road after a few days off.

As I mentioned after Sunday's run my TFL was cranky and by Sunday night it stiffened up quite a bit. It also made for an uncomfortable night of sleeping, waking me up a few times during the night. When I woke up on Monday and it was still sore, I knew it was time to be proactive and take a few days off so, for the past 3 nights I took it easy, stretched, stood a lot at my desk and got to bed around 9ish every night.

For the first time all week, there was no stiffness or twinges in my hip so I knew I was ok to run; even if it was an abbreviated session. 7 miles were on the schedule originally but that was not happening. The plan was to do 3 and if, a big if, I felt perfect would I attempt 5. No reason to press my luck with my first full in less than 3 weeks.

To make things more interesting, a light rain was falling so that just added to the list of potential hazards. I wouldn't say I was nervous but it's always interesting to see how things are going to feel after you've given them a few days to heal.

Right as I hit the road I noticed there was still a bit of a niggle in the hip so 3 it was. The only question that remained was if it was going to loosen up completely as the run progressed. Another decision I made was to keep the HR down as much as I could and not press the 137 bpm mark.

For not having been out for a few days, I didn't have that awkward  feeling I usually get after a layoff so that was a good sign. My pace felt even and smooth as I was able, for the most part in keeping the HR down as I dodged raindrops. All in all the run was quite the success which gives me a good feeling with 20 set for Saturday.

With another run behind me it's now time to stretch and get to bed early. The LSD on Saturday will be done on my usual roads so there'll be no hills to put any stress on the hip. I'm also not planning on pushing the pace either so it should be a fairly easy run. Well, as easy as a 20 mile run can be for someone who's never run 20 miles anyway. Come back then and you can see how it went.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 25

Another day, another run.

As I mentioned yesterday, I am upping my MHR to 137 bpm and couldn't be happier with the decision. Lately I have been struggling to find that comfortable balance between a smooth pace and keeping my HR under the max. While I realize that I don't fall into the 180-age+5 category (if you have exercised consistently for more than two years with no problems, add 5) for Maffetone or even really the 180- age with no modifications for that matter, I honestly feel that my aerobic base is to the point where I can tolerate the increase without any additional stress on my body. Trying to stay under 132 bpm was actually causing more stress.

It was another beautiful but chilly morning in the desert so I was glad I overslept and got a good 10+ hours sleep after yesterday's 18. By the time I hit the road it was still in the mid-50's but after the 1st mile I was feeling that my Cold Gear was a little much.

Although my Garmin was again reading low throughout the first mile (shocker), I kept in check at a comfortable 9:20ish pace until I started getting some good feedback. Consistency was the name of the game today and as the run progressed  my splits got progressively slower as should be expected. The important thing was that I was able to stay below MHR and could actually feel when I was getting too high before I got the buzz from my watch. Could I really be getting in tune with my body?

While the run went well and I was able to cruise right along I did have a bit of discomfort in my left hip which seems to be either my TFL, ITB, glute or some combination of the 3. It really doesn't seem to affect my gait but it has been taken longer to loosen up and doesn't go away completely. I think part of the problem is that I've been ramping up mileage which is going to cause little niggles to occur. I also haven't been standing enough at work when I'm at my desk and have to change that immediately.

With the Lost Dutchman Marathon 3 weeks from today, I'm at the most important time in the training cycle and need to be laser focused on the equation for success; Training = Diet + Workout + Recovery.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 24

I like to say that what doesn't kill me just pisses me off but frankly, I'm too cooked to be pissed off.

Today's 18 miler was a windy, hilly affair with the last 9.5 miles or so being the last portion of the Lost Dutchman Marathon. This is also the toughest part of the course and is the 2nd time I've covered it in as many weeks and I plan on doing it once more before the February 15th race. This time out I wasn't sweating it as much as last time even though I added a hill at the beginning along with the real killer that comes on mile 17.

Good or bad it was a windy morning with a steady gust around 17 mph coming out of the Northeast. This meant that the last half of the run was going to be predominantly uphill and into the wind. In a way I don't view this as a bad thing because come race day I need to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at me. At least it cracked 60 so it wasn't all bad.

The first 8+ miles were easy enough since I was heading downhill with a tailwind for the most part after the first mile. This also aided in keeping my pace up and my HR down below 137 bpm. On the downside I was still running well above a sub-4 hour marathon pace, even in the favorable conditions, so I think that mark will not be attempted in the race. I'd rather run comfortably and strong in my first 26.2 and have a good feeling about it, than crash and burn because I shot for a goal I had no chance of reaching.

Before I ventured into the teeth of the course, a near 200 foot ascent over the next 2 miles, I made sure to fuel up on some ENERGYbits and make a quick pit stop even though I didn't feel a pressing need. This was going to be grueling but I wasn't intimidated after having conquered it the last time out.

I was able to cruise right along as the wind had seemed to diminish somewhat but my HR started to rise with the increase in elevation. As I hit the most challenging part of the run just before the 11 mile mark I remained mentally strong and pushed myself up the hill. I was never so relieved to get to the top of the steep climb knowing that the next 3 miles were going to be relatively easy before another long steady hill.

When I hit the final challenge, 1.5 miles with a 100 foot incline, the wind picked up again and since I was heading North I was going to have to contend with it in my face. At least it comes right at the 14 mile mark which is where I'm set to down some more bits. This is probably the greatest advantage to running the course prior to the race, the ability to work out fuel strategy.

As I attacked the final gut-check point the wind got stiffer and stiffer but so did my resolve. I was only clocking 11 minute miles but my HR was into the low 150s, yest I still felt strong. Pushing myself up the hill I told myself to suck it up. After all I was only 14 miles in, just think what it will be like after 22 miles in the the actual race.

Yeah, I really wasn't comforting myself there but given the conditions I felt stronger than on my last run when I hit it after only 12 miles. Cresting the top I knew I still had rollers to contend with but the hardest part was done and I would be aide by somewhat of a tailwind for the last 2.5. The run was soon over and after a brief cooldown I got in my car and made the trek home.

So there you have it, one more LSD run behind me on the Road to BQ.

Week ending January 24th - 54.7 miles

Friday, January 23, 2015

January 23


That's right, even though today was a scheduled rest day, I broke Commandment # 4 anyway and got in 3 miles. They weren't particularly bad miles but for whatever reason, I can't seem to keep my HR under control whenever I try to get in an afternoon run. I did get a good warm up in and it wasn't that warm, only 59, so I can't blame it on those. Maybe I'm just too wound up and really need some time to decompress before I hit the road.

I did see the first real sign of spring today as I ran by Sloan Park (formerly Cubs Park) as some of the early reporters to Spring Training were out on one of the practice fields. It's hard to believe that its less than a month before pitchers and catchers report. Hooray baseball.

One change I've decided to make while out today was to increase my MHR to 137 bpm (180-age+5). When I started the Maffetone Method, I began at 127 bpm for the first 2 weeks to get some semblance of an aerobic base and then moved to 132 bpm which I've been at for the last 13 weeks.

Seeing as how I made my biggest strides in the first 3 weeks of the initial 5 bpm increase and should be fully fat adapted by now. I'm going to see how it goes. Even when I have been at this range in the past, my body doesn't feel stressed and I think this will be a great next step in training with a 26.2 just 3 weeks out and an 18 miler tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be another test of my progress as I'm heading out to do the Lost Dutchman Course again. To make it more of a challenge I've added an extra hill at the beginning and a longer uphill at around the 10.5 mile mark. What doesn't kill me just pisses me off, right? And considering the last 9.5 miles tomorrow are the last 9.5 miles of the marathon, I better be ready for it.

This is going to be a blast!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 22

Got a late start on the night and was tempted to bag it but the show must go on. Since the last few nights I've been getting back close to 8 and by the time I eat, review the run, get up a post and chill for a bit, I'm getting to bed later than I want to. Decided I'd only do 3 and for a change I actually spent about 5 minutes warming up before I hit the road.

Tonight was a reasonable mid 50s might but the stiff wind made it feel colder. Glad I has my Cold Gear on tonight and definitely glad I brought my gloves. Since I had gotten in a good warm up my HR was steady and didn't have to deal with the spikes like I've had the past few runs. I also kept my breathing at 2:3 and while I wasn't as fast as last night, I was still faster than I have been.

It was a bit disappointing that I was only doing 3 feeling as good as I did it is what it is. Sometimes it's better to leave wanting more and tonight was no different. With tomorrow being a rest day I may sneak in a runch tomorrow to make up the miles. We'll see how it goes.

It feels good to be done early with everything tonight so I think I'll score some extra sleep.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 21

Today was an up and down day. My youngest brother turned 40 today; Happy Birthday Doug but I had a case of the sads due to it being 3 months since we lost out dear Chuck Taylor. It was also the first doubles day that I've done in 4 weeks so yay me!

This morning's run didn't exactly start out on the right foot as I felt awkward and slow and my left hip was a little cranky but that calmed down soon enough. After about a mile I settled in nicely, finally finding my groove at about the 1.75 mile mark. I'm glad it was only a short one but I really need to warm up better.

After a day in the cubefarm it was time for the evening run. My head was completely into it but my body wasn't as game. That's ok though, when the mind is willing the body has no choice to follow. Plus Christine was goading me on telling me that BQ won't happen on it's own to the tune of It Don't Come Easy, so off I went.

It was still surprisingly warm when I got out, 66, so the Under Armour  Cold Gear was a bit much but I'd have to deal with it. Again I didn't warm up enough and spike my HR within the first 1/4 mile and had to walk it down. After a minute I was back on track a moving right along.

The run was scheduled for an hour and since my pace was slow it was looking like a 6 mile night. When I hit the turnaround at 3 I never even gave it any though and cruised right past it. I felt like doing 7 and why not? It was a nice night and I felt smooth even though I was on the slow side. I was also not fully in the moment either and frequently caught myself wandering off.

It wasn't until a pathetic 10:51 mile 6 that I finally snapped out of it and got into the now. I also decided to pick up my breathing from 3:4 to 2:4 and almost immediately my HR dropped and my pace quickened after about a 1/4 mile. Now when I say quickened, I mean flying as in 7 minute territory. Either my Garmin was jacked or my though to keep my breathing slower was completely misplaced. We shall see tomorrow and if it goes well I may have figured out the cause of my lack of progress.

So with another day in the books and 10 miles under my belt, I'll leave you with this, "You've got to pay your dues if you want run BQ cause you know it won't come easy."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 20

Her Fit (left) and my Phase (right)
Today was almost like Christmas with a package at the door. In it contained a new pair of Skora Phase for me and a pair of Fit for Christine. It worked out perfectly since my other pair of Phase are at 500 miles give or take and Skora was running a 30% off special last week. If you are interest in a light, minimalist, zero-drop shoe, click the add on the right sidebar. I really can't say enough great things about the shoes or the company. I'm a Skora runner for life.

After a great rest day and 4 nights of 8 hour sleep I was ready to get back out and run. the initial plan was to only do 3 miles to shake out the DOMS and break in the new kicks. That plan began to evolve almost immediately as it was yet another gorgeous night to run and I was feeling great. As I got to the turnaround I thought, why not 4, I'm feeling good. The same thing happened as I hit the 4 mile turnaround and figured it wouldn't hurt to do 5; so onward I continued. Now normally, Tuesdays are a 1 hour night (6-7 miles) so by the time I got to where I needed to turn it was pretty much "screw it, we're this far, it's a nice night and I feel good, we're doing 6".

So it was 6 miles in the books which meant a late dinner and now I'm up later than I should be if I want to get in 3 or 4 in the morning before work.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

2015 PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon

There are those days when the stars align and the running gods smile upon us. Today was one of those days.

It all started last night when I fell right to sleep and pretty much slept through the night. When the alarm went off at 5 am I was rested and ready to roll; that was until I got out of bed, put weight on my right foot and realized that PF had flared. No biggie, I brought a ball so I was able to roll out the discomfort. Crisis averted.

After a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs with copious amounts of coffee it was time to get lubed, dressed and over to the starting line.

In the past I would just stretch before a race but since I've begun HR training I like to get in an easy mile or 2 to get warmed up. Today was no different as I got in a nice, easy 1.2 miles and arrived to the starting line with 20 minutes to spare. Knowing that the porta-potty lines would be crazy, I found a secluded bush and took care of business.

What? Like you've never done that before.

As I sidled midway into corral 1 I got my spot picked out took some ENERGYbits and kept moving to stay warm. Even though it was only 50 degrees it was a sunny, cloudless day I knew that it would warm up quickly. I was wearing my warm weather gear, shorts and a sleeveless shirt, but also had a throwaway T which I took off a few minutes before the scheduled 7:50 start. This proved to be a bit premature as the start was delayed for a few minutes to let a train pass a little down the road.

When the horn finally sounded to start us off I was sort of regretting the decision to not bring my gloves but I knew my hands would warm up soon enough. Time to focus on the task at hand and not worry about my fingers.

My biggest concern in any race is that I don't go out to fast and today I was determined not to make any mistakes early on so I held back, maybe a bit too much as I clocked a 7:24 in mile one. Now this was not terrible, only 0:09 off my goal pace and a lot better than going out 9 seconds too fast. I just needed to run a little faster.

With this being the flattest part of the course I picked up the pace a bit and clicked off the next 3 miles right at goal time at 7:16, 7:14 and 7:14. Happy with the way things were going, I decided to try and push the pace even further knowing that I had about 3.5 miles of flat course before we got to the hill.

Feeling strong, I completed mile 5 at a quick 7:05 then fueled up with a serving of 15 ENERGYbits. The next few miles went as little slower, although still at goal pace, as I approached Papago Park to tackle the toughest part of the course; a 50 foot incline over a half mile.

Here is where it got interesting. Feeling as good as I did, I chose to attack the hill instead of playing it safe. I could tell I was flying as I passed people on the way up and my Garmin was reading at around 7:00, This was confirmed when I hit the 9 mile marker and my split was 7:06; the second fastest up to this point. As I crested the hill and began the decent just past the turnaround I knew it was all downhill from here and it was time to put the pedal to the metal.

Last year I made the mistake of holding back on this portion of the course and it cost me; this year was going to be different. After a 7:03 mile on number 10 I had a pack of 3 faster runners come up from behind and I tried to tag along. This didn't last for very long but it did push me to a 6:56 mile 11 before another challenge presented itself.

I had been aware that another runner was on my tail for about a half mile and at around the 11.5 point he made his move to pass me. My guess is that he reeled me in after I had let up when I lost the fast pack and had run a sub-7. This motivated me to pick back up my pace as we went back and forth for the next mile. By the time we hit the Mill Ave Bridge he had another gear that I did not but I was still happy to see another sub-7 mile at 6:58 as I passed mile marker 13.

The end was now in sight and this is what makes the Rock 'n' Roll series races so great, the spectators.

All throughout the race there are plenty of sections where the crowds are big and other than the volunteers runners who push folks who can't run along, they provide the biggest boost along the course. I hope these people who come out on a chilly Sunday morning know how much this runner appreciates their support. I try to let them know by giving them the thumbs-up or if they are close enough I'll offer out a hand. I know that every other runner feels the same way as well.

One of those spectators deserves a special shout-out and that would be my wife Christine. After getting up before dawn on Saturday to work a half day, she came with me to the expo and was up with me this morning to see me off when she could have stayed in bed. Thank you for being there today and every day for the past 30+ years.

Now, as I make the turn onto Rio Salado for the last tenth, the crowd is at least 15 deep on each side and the are LOUD. Here I am feeding off them and I look at my watch to see it is reading 1:33:19 and I'm stunned. My goal for the race was a 1:35 and knew it was going to beat it but it wasn't until now that I realized that I had a chance to better it by a minute. Time to let it all hang out.

As I got closer to the finish I could see the official clock counting up and eventually read 1:34:00 but I kept pushing on until I crossed having started about 5 seconds back. As I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin it read 1:34:02:98. Maybe I shouldn't have gone out of my way to leap and high-five the stilt-walker somewhere along mile 12 but, it was fun and I'd do it again. Officially I ran a 1:34:01.

Now how do you know you gave it your all? In my case today I had no less than 5 volunteers ask me if I was ok or if I needed assistance. I appreciated it but was basking in the afterglow of a 3:40 PR as I tried to catch my breath.

Speaking of my breath, this result is a complete affirmation that the Maffetone Method works for me. Having started it at the end of September and setting a 13.1 PR in early November at 1:37:45, crushing it by over 3:40 should be proof enough. The only point I was breathing hard, other than pushing a 6:15 pace for the last 0.1 mile, was during the hill portion where I really went hard. even then I still felt strong and was never laboring.

Tomorrow will be a well rest day which I plan on sleeping in since I wisely took the day off from work. Then it's back at it on Tuesday in preparation for the Lost Dutchman Marathon in less than a month for the next checkpoint on the Road to BQ.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

January 17

For me, the night before the night before a race is the most important especially when it comes to sleep. Whether it be pre-race nerves, getting to bed late, having to get up early, sleeping in a strange bed or some combination of these on race night at least I know I will be well rested come race day.

Last night was no different. Not only did I get to bed just after 9 pm but I wound up oversleeping, rolling out of bed just before 9 am. Since there was only 3 miles on the schedule this wasn't a big deal and the extra sleep was welcome.

It was another typical winter morning in the desert, which means it was perfect for a run; sunny and in the low 50s with no wind. After taking the last 2 days off, the plan was to take it slow and keep my HR below 127. No need to overdo it on the day before a race.

Once I hit the road, everything felt good and I just plodded along and the run was over before I knew it. No niggles to report, HR stayed in check and pacing felt even. Can't really ask for much more.

After the run it was time to get packing to head into the city for the expo. After almost missing the start of the race in 2013 because of traffic, Christine and I stay at the Best Western a couple miles from the start. This also allows me to get an hour or so of extra sleep, not to mention the decreased stress from the fear of oversleeping.

I really don't like that Rock 'n' Roll races force you to attend the expo to get your bib but I guess it allows them to charge outrageous rates to the vendors. We probably could just shoot in and out but after paying $10 to park, we feel like we have to cruise through.

It really is a cluster and the same idiots that stop short in front of you or block the already congested aisles to chat are the probably doing something similar during the race. And if it is bad mojo to were the race shirt during the race, what is it called when you spot people wearing the race shirt at the expo?

There was nothing new and exciting so after we took a lap it was off to the hotel but not before a detour to In-N-Out Burger for a tasty protein style burger. Later it will be a nice dinner of steak, eggs and bacon at Denny's before an early bedtime.

Week ending January 17th - 24.7 miles

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 14

It was another beautiful winter night in the desert, just perfect for a run. Got home, got out and felt really good; even finished with the exact same time as last night at 1:01:46 on the same course. I guess this would be a good thing except last night I made a couple stops.

I really shouldn't complain though since it's about building a strong aerobic base and not about winning the training runs. I have to trust in my program and stay the course. With the race this weekend I should have a better idea of where my fitness level is and with cool am temps predicted for Sunday, there's no excuse not to break 1:35.

That's all for now, going to make it an early night. Lack of sleep may be part of the problem.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January 13

Yesterday's planned runch didn't work out.

It wasn't that I forgot to bring my gear to work but rather I didn't bring my brain. For whatever reason I felt off all day, not really lightheaded but more fuzzy. The only thing I could think was that I was doing my Monday fast but I did have my power coffee and didn't feel right from the get go. With it being an optional day anyway I'm not going to get worked up about it.

It's been a bit cooler the past few day and actually rained for a while today. By the time I got home the rain had long stopped and the temp was a perfect for running 57 with no wind at all.

Off I went and felt really good and spiked my HR right off the bat. I think part of my problem is that I haven't been warming up enough lately. Definitely need to work on that since I had to walk for a few seconds to get it down and put my first mile at a slow 10:57.

As mile 2 came along I decided that I was going to do 6 instead of the planned 5. I intended to cut back a bit this week with a half this weekend but when you're feeling good on a beautiful night, that extra mile isn't going to kill me..

For once there was a bit of excitement on a run. For the past few weeks I had been noticing holes growing on either side of the sidewalk near my 2.5 mile mark with what sounded to be rushing watter developing.

I kept meaning to notify the county DPW but kept forgetting until this past Saturday when I emailed them. Much to my surprise, I received an email response later that night and on Sunday it looked like they had closed off the area.

Tonight as I made the turn onto there road where I had noticed the problem, there was quite the commotion. I saw construction signs, flashers, barricades and heavy equipment digging up the sidewalk at 7 at night. Curious I stopped to ask what had happened and apparently a sewer main to the treatment plant a little down the road had ruptured and was eroding the ground underneath the sidewalk.

I felt a bit bad that I hadn't brought it to there attention sooner but it's not like they would have had any less work to do. It did make me feel good that they got on it quickly though.

After a brief chat I was back to the run and actually liked that they had a lane blocked on the bridge I cross. It's the one part of the route that makes me nervous because there isn't much room off the travel lanes so it was nice to not have to worry for a change.

The rest of the run was far less exciting, save for needing to stop to tie my shoe and I clicked along at a descent pace. Checking the stats afterward, I pushed too hard and wound up being at a 133 bpm average on 4 of the miles when I need to be under 132.

With the min-cutback because of the Rock 'n' Roll AZ Half this weekend, there will be no morning run tomorrow, just 5-7 mile when I get home.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that I picked up a new pair of Skora Phase for myself and a pair of Fit for Christine. My current Phase are nearing the 500 mile mark and while they still have life, they are looking a little beat. I also have illusions of getting Christine to run. She's worried she has bad knees and isn't a runner but I tell her she doesn't have to go fast and I'd love for her to share in the joy I get from it.

I swear by my Skoras and if you are interested in trying out a great minimalist shoe, now is the time. They're running 30% off though Thursday so click the banner add on the right and get yourself a pair.

For now goodnight, I'm up way past my bedtime.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 11

What a beautiful day!

Granted I overslept so by the time I hit the road at 10:30 it was already in the mid 60s and I was raring to go. I'm guessing that the extra 2 hours of sleep played a big part in it but I felt amazingly good after a hard 16 miles yesterday.

For the first 3+ miles I was cruising right along at a pretty good clip even though I developed a bit of a niggle in my left hip a little before I completed the first mile. Fortunately went away as quickly as it came and I didn't give it a second thought. I was feeling so good, in fact, and my HR was staying low that I began to push the pace, probably a bit too much and spiked my heart rate into the 140s. Time to slow down.

For the next 4 miles I kept things a littler slower mainly because my Garmin kept freaking out on me, jumping from the mid 120s to the high 130s even though my pace remained steadyish and I wasn't overexerting myself. I really need to get it checked out under warranty but that will need to wait until after LDM.

HRM issues aside, it was a wonderful day to be running and as I hit mile 8 I decided I wasn't quite ready to wrap it up. What's great about where I live and the routes I take is that I have options to add or subtract distance if I feel like it. Today was no different and there was actually a road that I wanted to check out anyway, so off I went.

Since time is more the focus than distance, I didn't want to go much past 90 minutes and the new road added an extra .75 miles which allowed me to finish up in 1:34:20. Best of all, the last 1.75 were more like the first 4; fast and steady. I love ending on a positive note.

And to top off a great run, Christine had a fresh pot of coffee made and was getting a nice post run breakfast of bacon and eggs ready. Who could ask for anything more or a better partner?

So with the weekend about to come to a close and another optional day on the horizon, I'm giving a serious thought to taking a runch tomorrow and getting 4 in. It's the best of both worlds since I'll still get a run in and be able to chill when I get home from work.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

January 10

Today's long run scared me.

On the suggestion of a fellow local runner Kris (@RaceEveryStep) I planned a 16 miler as an out and back from the finish of the Lost Dutchman Marathon to get a feel for the course. Having run the half in 2013 I had an idea about what I was going to face since my run today was basically the half and then some.

The most vivid memory I had from that race was the seemingly never ending hill that started at mile 9. Since this race was my first half with the initial 6.5 being mostly downhill I had no race management plan and thought this hill was going to be the end of me.

Well, 2 year later I'm a smarterer runner and have a somewhat better understanding of pacing (I said somewhat) .Also with HR training I had no intent to run hard anyway; just slow and steady under 132 bpm. As you will see later, that didn't work out so well.

As I started out on my trek it was a breezy, overcast morning in the high 50s and the sun was just starting to appear from the base of Superstition Mountain. I knew I was in for a challenge but having the spectacular view of the mountains would certainly be a plus.

Once I was out on the road I remembered how much the road rolls. This isn't one of the flat courses that I have become accustomed to as I run through the area where I live; instead it is a constant down and up.

After an initial incline through mile 2, the next 6 were going to be mostly downhill with a tailwind on the sections where I would be heading south. There was a lot of heading south.

Other than a stop to take some pictures and a rest stop at the turnaround, these first 8 were fairly easy and uneventful, only a few cyclists and another runner. As I began my way back, I dreaded what was about to come. After all what goes down on the "out" goes up on the "back".

One thing I did notice as I headed north was that the wind had died down. This was certainly a welcome relief and would make the return trip somewhat easier. Still, even on my normal runs I tend to feel fatigue at around 12 miles but this time it wouldn't be flat ground but rather my old friend.

Today was shaping up to be a different run though. As I made my way back, I felt strong and would have been more than capable of pushing the pace but my HRM was already going nuts. Try as I may, I couldn't keep my HR under 132 bpm as I made my way up the hills.

I'm fully aware that this is where I should have stuck to the training method and walked to stay under my prescribed rate but I had a pretty good reason to shuffle along at the higher rate. My reasoning is that I will be running this course again in 6 weeks and will have enough going on psychologically that I don't want my muscles to remember that they had to walk on tone of the toughest portions of the race.

By the time I had gotten to the point I was dreading the most, the wind had picked back up and the sun had broken through the clouds. I was beginning to get hot too. Wisely, I had worn a muscle shirt under my long sleeve tech shirt and off came the long sleeve.

As I plodded along another runner was coming from the other direction and we couldn't have been dressed any differently. Where I was in shorts and a muscle T, he had on tights, a jacket, gloves and a stocking hat. As we waved and exchanged greetings I imagine his thoughts about my attire were about the same as I thought about his.

Before I knew it I was about to crest the hill that I had feared so much and I still felt great. The worst was over and I only had 2.5 miles of rolling downhill to go. This was indeed a victory and content with the way things were going I smiled and admired the mountains as I pressed on to the finish.

And now it is done. With the Rock 'n' Roll AZ half next Sunday, there will be no LSD next weekend. I'll keep up with my regular schedule during the week but I'll only do an easy 3 on on Saturday. With the way training has been going in building my aerobic base and how well today went, I feel confident that come Sunday I'll own a new 13.1 PR.

Today's training run has also given me more confidence in my ability to run 26.2 and subsequently BQ later this year. I've got this course scheduled 1 more time a couple weeks before Lost Dutchman and instead of fearing it I know I'm going to own it.

Week ending January 10th - 47.5 miles 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Recommended Reading

Since today is a rest day it's as good a time as any to share some of my reading list from the past year.

The 2 books that meant the most to me and that I feel helped me to become a better runner were, without a doubt The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive by Jim Afremow, PhD and 1:59: The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon Is Within Reach—Here’s How It Will Go Down, and What It Can Teach All Runners about Training and Racing by Dr Phil Maffetone

In The Champion's Mind I learned what I needed to do to master the mental mental side of running. While I still have a way to go, Jim Afremow showed me how to go about defeating my most powerful enemy and turn it into my greatest ally; that is of course my own mind.

When I first picked up the book, I was at a point were the biggest struggle I had with my running was the mental battle that I seemed to be constantly loosing. As any runner knows, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, running "is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical" and I was in serious need of some mental training.

After reading the book and employing the proper tactics to "feed the good wolf" I was not only able to push through the tough moments we all face on the road but I also began to enjoy running even more. By starving the bad wolf my mind was now free to focus on the important things and not the suck.

Where The Champion's Mind upped my mental game, 1:59 did the same for the running part of running. Dr Maffetone is well known for his heart rate training "plan" (Maffetone Method) and since I had been regressing in my training I was open to trying something different.

There is a lot more to HR training than simply running at a prescribed heart rate and being done with it. Dr Maffetone preaches Training = Workout + Recovery but I'll even do 1 further and say it's Training = Diet + Workout + Recovery because he shows that it's only through proper fueling that you realize the full benefits of the method.

If I was only allowed 2 "desert island" books, these would be them hands down. I have learned so much about myself as a result of reading both of them and have become a better runner because of them.

The last 2 books that I truely enjoyed were more for entertainment but also provided a good glimpse into what it takes to be a runner. It doesn't hurt that I picked up a thing or 3 from them as well.

Marathon Man: My 26.2-Mile Journey from Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World by Bill Rodgers is a wonderful real about how a running icon, who was at the forefront of the 70's running boom, became the elite runner that he was. It was interesting to learn that "Boston Billy" owed a lot of his success to not only his hard work and dedication but to being in the right places at the right time. Imagine where running might be today if Rodgers didn't have such a focused college roommate as Amby Burfoot or didn't leave a weekend of partying on Cape Cod to watch the Boston Marathon.

The last book on my list is Overthinking the Marathon by Ray Charbonneau. Even though it sounds like a training guide, it isn't and while the author isn't an elite runner, he is still a quite acomplished marathoner and provides an entertaining look into the life more of us can relate to as runners. The book really does offer great insight into how an older, experienced runner prepares for a race while showing that after all the miles logged that you never know what you don't know.

So there you have it. If you decide to read these, let me know what you think. Also, if you have any books you think I'd like, feel free to share.

Now it's time to get some sleep. Tommorow's run is a 16 miler that's a bit out of my comfort zone but we all need those sometimes.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January 8

Home a little later than I would have liked so I decided to only do 5 miles instead of the scheduled 7. I remind myself that it's quality over quantity and I really didn't want to be eating dinner at 8 pm. Besides it's not fair to Christine to have her eat that late even though I've told her a million times she doesn't need to wait for me. She's too polite that way.

Anyhoo, it wasn't quite as warm today so by the time I got out it was only 57 degrees. It's one of the joys of desert living and it's all relative though because I'm sure most of you would kill for a high of 57 in early January.

The run was a run was a run. Other than either my Garmin/HRM not reading right for the first mile, stayed below 95 bpm for the first mile, I felt pretty good. 5 miles isn't much to get excited about  and being out alone in the dark doesn't give the mind much of a chance to wander.

I have notice that I've actually been slower this week than in the past but I'm not too worried about it.

Tomorrow is a rest day and for my long run on Saturday I'm going to run an out and back on the last 8 miles of the Lost Dutchman Marathon course. It will be a nice test since the 8 coming back will be mostly uphill and their elevation map doesn't do justice to the mile and a half long, 100 foot rise that I'll hit around the 12 mile mark (mile 22 in the race).

I've pretty much decided that LD will be more of a training run than a race and Saturday should let me know for sure. While I entertain thoughts of a sub-4, that doesn't appear to be very realistic and the ultimate goal is to finish. The only way I'm going to convince myself that I can do it is to do it; BBW has me doubting I have it in me and there is only one way to shut him up.

I have something special for tomorrow's post. I plan on getting some reading recommendations up so see you then.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 7

I'm going to bet you all know how easy it is to convince yourself that the extra hour sleep is more important than the 4 mile run that's on the schedule. That's exactly what went down this morning. The thing is thought that the hour sleep probably was more important and is also why I'm going to be in bed shortly as well.

Today was a fantastic January day. It was so nice that when I had to run an errand at lunch I did it with the top down on my car. In fact, it stayed down for the ride home too since it was still in the high 70s for the evening commute. Even traffic was moving well so I was actually home and out running before the last bit of daylight vanished from the sky.

Right from the get go I didn't feel particularly strong but the watch was telling me otherwise. It also didn't hurt that I had a pretty good tailwind for the first 2 miles, which also happens to be on a decline. Unfortunately I knew that friendly wind would be a not so friendly headwind on the last 2 with an incline. But I didn't care, that was still a few miles away.

The thing about running in the dark is there isn't much stimuli so the time just clicked away and I actually began to start feeling a little stronger as the run progressed. I probably should have made the turn back at 3 and called it another 6 mile night and had fully intended to but while the right side of my body got ready to make the u-turn, my left side continued to go straight. 7 miles it was going to be.

By mile 5 I was cruising right along but that is where the slight rise in elevation along with the headwind conspired to slow me down just as I knew they would. No worries though as I took it in stride before finishing with a good final mile.

Now I'm fed and off to sleep soon. Tomorrow is supposed to be another warm day and another 6-7 are on the schedule for tomorrow night..

Another nice bit of news is that I I received my corral assignment for the Rock 'n' Roll AZ half in a little over 2 weeks and have drawn a 1 again this year. It's nice being near the front and not having to deal with traffic. Although I don't think my goal of 1:30 is in the cards but I am definitely looking to get down to 1:35.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 6

We've got a streak going here with posts 4 days in a row. This will be a short one though.

Once again it was another warm January day in the desert and by the time I got home it was still in the low 60s. The get up early and run this morning plan was aborted so I was excited to get out and run. The schedule called for an hour tonight so depending on how it's going is either 6 or 7 miles.

Really nothing spectacular tonight and with the route I was taking there would be no moon to admire or light my way but that didn't matter because per usual I was running by the light of my Run-Bright LED lights (you should be too).

The first 2 miles we pretty good so I figured it was going to be a 7 miler. Maybe I got a bit too excited but I spike my HR up to the 140s which forced me to slow down for a few minutes and pretty much settled it that tonight I would only be doing 6.

Before I started HR training this may have bothered me but since its more about time than distance, I didn't push any longer than I needed to. Now while it didn't bother me per se I still wanted to know why I'm 20-30 seconds slower on my mid-week runs than I was previously but I'm still progressing on my longer weekend runs. Then it hit me, I haven't been getting to bed early enough.

One of the core tenets of the Maffetone Method is Training = Workout + Recovery so with a 4 am alarm set for a scheduled 4 early miles it's time to get ready for bed.

Monday, January 5, 2015

January 5

Monday is an optional day to run and it surprises me that for the most part I get out more often then not. Usually it's a game-time decision but today I knew even before I left work that there was no opting out of this one.

It's been on the cold side for the last week so there was no way I was going to pass on running when I saw that temps hit the 70s late in the afternoon. By the time I got home, it was still in the low 60s and I couldn't get out of the car and into my gear fast enough.

First thing I realized when I got out was that I was wearing the wrong shoes. Even though I wore my Skora Phase yesterday I was going to wear them again tonight since it was going to be a short run. For whatever reason I put on my Fit instead so that was that or was it?

In my enthusiasm to get running and my quandary over tonight's choice of footwear, my Garmin started buzzing to let me know that my HR was exceeding 132 BPM. Not a good thing when you haven't even gone 100 yards; time to slow down and get in the now.

It didn't take long to get things under control but I could tell that the run was not going to be anything special. Oh well, even a bad run is better than no run at all and it was a beautiful night.

As I got out by the cotton field I could see the full moon rising low in the sky. It was large and for a moment I thought about stopping to get a quick picture but decided to pass on that. After a few more steps I figured what the hell. What's the point of being out on such a wonderful night if you can't take a second to stop to snap a quick picture. It's a shame they it didn't come out but I still got to marvel at the moon for a few moments.

Sometimes it's the little things but it was time to get back to the run.

By the time I hit my turnaround it was more than clear that this was going to be my slowest short run in a long time, not counting the humid laps I was logging whale on the cruise at Christmas. It wasn't that anything was wrong; no injury or anything, simply my heart didn't want to run fast which was fine by me.

Since it was a short night, only 4 miles, it was over before I knew it and tomorrow is is another day. 7 are scheduled for after work but on the very unlikely, remote chance that I do wake up an hour early, I'll get in a quick run in the morning.

It doesn't hurt to think positive.

Now if Garmin Connect would work, I could upload the run to geek over the stats. It's not that they would tell me anything that I don't already know but just the same, I'd like to get it on there. In my little OC world, a run doesn't feel like it's been completed until the data has been uploaded.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

January 4

Scheduled for 9 miles today and was slightly concerned when I went to bed last night that there was some stiffness in my right Achilles. A few minutes with the foam roller seemed to loosen it up. Even though it felt ok when I rolled out of bed, just a bit of stiffness, as a precaution I figured it would be best to wear a brace.

Now normal morning temps here in the desert are in the high 40s/low 50s but this morning was downright cold at 30F. Fortunately I've invested in some Under Armour Cold Gear and with a form fitting sleeveless shirt I stay plenty warm. Since I never have issues with my legs being cold, I stick to shorts and compression shorts. Also, for blister prevention I double up socks so keeping my tootsies warm isn't a problem even in my Skora Phase which are pretty thin. All else that is needed is a good pair of gloves and a stocking hat which generally doesn't stay on too long.

As usual warm up consists of some running in place and some foot jacks to get the HR up and the blood flowing. I'm going slow anyway and there is really no need to stretch as some research shows that it actually puts you at a greater risk of injury and has no real benefit.

So off into the cold I went, actually a little faster than I should have, but the HRM was acting wonky and didn't start reading right until a little past mile 1. By then the hat and gloves were off as I was fully warmed up. Occasionally the gloves went back on but only for a few minutes at a time.

Not a super exciting run; they never are. Living and running in the boonies I am pretty much limited to the same road so I just vary the routes and directions. Aside from properties with dogs, horses, cattle and poultry I'm pretty much out on my own with spectacular views of the mountains. And since I'm taking it easy, trying to focus on HR, breathing and form, there's really not a lot going on.

But isn't this why we run? I'm a fairly solitary person so having the opportunity to get out alone, away from any hustle and bustle is quite relaxing and is what makes training enjoyable; at least for me. We all have enough stress in our lives and getting out, especially on a beautiful, sunny morning without a care is a great outlet.

All in all I'm happy with today's 9. No issues with the Achilles, not even a hint of pain and save for a 9:07 mile 3, everything was between 9:20 and 9:45. Need a little more consistancy but I'm letting HR dictate pace so it is what it is.

Tomorrow is an optional day with a 4 if I feel like it so we'll see how motivated I am when I get home from work. At least we're in for a bit of a warm-up so it won't be nearly as cold as it has been in the last week.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Road To BQ

Maintaining metal focus on a long run is one of the toughest things for me. As much as I try to stay in the now, concentrating on breathing, heart rate and form, my mind tends to wander off. This can turn a good run to bad in a heartbeat if I let BBW have his way. It's easy to start thinking about how the run can go off the rails, how much further I have to go, do I have to go (you know what I mean) or worst of all am I even capable of running 26.2.

The best way I have found to combat this is to think about running. Whether it's looking forward to an upcoming race, planning strategy for achieving a goal or just simply wondering what I'll tweet about the run gets me back in the now. As long as its something positive about running, I easily slide back in the now.

During today's LR one of these little mental breaks turned to thoughts of qualifying for Boston in 2016.

Now the thought of running a marathon was something I didn't think was in the cards. Sure, it was something I dreamed about when I was much younger but downplayed the idea as I got back into running. Training for a half was hard enough, where was I going to find time to train for a full.

It wasn't until a conversation with my younger brother where we both came to the conclusion that IF 26.2 was going to happen for either of us then it would only be worth it if qualifying for Boston was the prize. We both laughed it of since we both knew that a BQ on the first shot would be nearly impossible.

After a day or so after trying to convince myself that attempting a marathon was a silly idea, I signed up for one anyway. While external forces prevented me from running that race last February, I'm 6 weeks away from take 2.

Every time my mind wandered today, I couldn't help but think of a hashtag I saw from Jonathan Levitt (@JWLevitt) on NYE; #RoadtoBQ. I just couldn't get this out of my head.

Here I am literally training on the road to a BQ and at one point somewhere around mile 13, this hashtag became part of my breathing. 1-2-3-Road-To-B-Q, 1-2-3-Road-To-B-Q, 1-2-3-Road-To-B-Q as I count off my breaths with my steps; 3 in, 4 out. Just like that I was back in the now.

It hit me that this was meant to be my my motivation and you can imagine my surprise when I found that both and were there for the taking. I quickly snatched these up and here we are.

Now I bet you're wondering about today's run; well it was a chilly 15.9 miles.

Temps were in the high 30s/low 40s and since I had too much water before I went out, I had to take a quick break before mile 2. This pit stop further took me off track since I thought it would be a good idea to run down on the creek bed instead of the trail. Not having checked this out beforehand, I realized it was a mistake when I hit a big patch of mud. Live and learn.

For the most part it was a pretty uneventful LR. Aside from a bit of a niggle in my right Achilles and intermittent thoughts of going longer than the planned 16, I moved right along. It wasn't exactly a great run but since I had to take 2 bathroom breaks and a couple stops to get the large clumps of mud off my shoes I'm happy with the 2:49:37 and considering that when I last ran this loop on 11/9 it took me 3:13:1; an improvement of 1:15/mile in roughly 2 months.

So 3 days in to 2015 I've already logged more miles, 26.7, than I did in the first 2 weeks of 2014, 18, and with 9 scheduled for tomorrow I'm off to a good start.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the Road 2 BQ as much as I do.

Week ending January 3rd - 43.8 miles

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Day

I like to believe that you don't know where you are going if you don't know where you've been. By looking back at your immediate past you get a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't.

2014 was a pretty good year for me running-wise with one of my primary goals, a sub-20 minute 5K checked off. While I didn't get my 13.1 time down to 1:30 like I aimed for, I'm still happy that I cracked 1:40 twice with a new PR of 1:37:45. I also didn't get to run my first 26.2 due to the death of my Father-in-law but I probably wasn't ready for it anyway.

My biggest disappointment of the year was my 4th place AG finish in the DBacks Race Against Cancer 5K. I was shooting for a sub-20 and top 3 since the prize of getting honored at a DBacks game was pretty cool but the real disappointment came from finishing 3 seconds behind because I gave up with a half mile to go. I also failed in my bid for a sub-20 as well.

2014 was a year of staying injury free, training smart and eating clean(ish). Speedwork was a big component of training throughout the spring and summer and while it initially helped, I eventually began to regress as the hot summer months wore me down. Fortunately, I discovered Phil Maffetone's latest book, 1:59 - The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon Is Within Reach Here's How It Will Go Down, and What It Can Teach All Runners About Training and Racing and learned that you don't need to run yourself into the ground to get faster.

Armed with this new information, as well as a Garmin 310XT with HRM, I began training with the Maffetone Method. Let me tell you, running slow is not easy for someone like me and running real slow is torture. Going from regularly doing shorter runs (3-7 miles) in the mid 7's-low 8's to suddenly running 12-13 minute miles can be hard on the psyche. I knew this was going to take time and patience and since what I had been doing wasn't working, I committed to sticking with it. Sure enough, after about a month my pace was in the low 11's-high 10's. I also noticed that there was little or no residual effect after a run; even long runs.


What was even more reassuring was that after only a month plus when I let it rip for an half I was running, not only did I PR by a minute and a half but I didn't feel like I went all out to do it.

As it is, with 2014  behind me, I'm down to running in the low 9's after only 3 months with the Maffetone Method. For perspective, I can now run 7 miles in the same time and at the same HR as I could only do 5 miles in the beginning.

So here are the numbers for 2014

1200.5 miles
8 races
1 top 3 finish overall - 3rd place Splash Mob 5K
3 top 3 in age group
5 PRs set

Now what's in store for 2015?

Well, I consider my running year to begin in March since my 2 big races happen in January and February. First up is the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona 13.1 on 1/18 and then on 2/15 I hope to complete my first 26.2 in the Lost Dutchman Marathon. I've set my sights on a sub-4 hour time but all that really matters is that I finish. After all, any time will be a PR.

My immediate goals for 2015 are to continue along the path that began in 2014; continue HR training, remain injury free, train smart and eat clean(ish). I also want to continue my streak of 100+ mile months (which now stands at 6) and hope to run 1500 miles for the year.

Race-wise I've set some lofty, yet very achievable goals. First I am going to continue to work toward a sub-1:30 half. This is a carry-over from 2014 so it needs to be crossed off yet.

The big, shoot for the stars goal is to BQ and not just BQ but do it by 5 minutes. At my age I will need to run 3:25 based on current standards so I'm setting my sights on a 3:20 and I'll take a swing at this at the Ventura Marathon in September. Having grown up in Boston, its always been a race that I aspired to run in and I feel Ventura, with it's fast, flat course gives me my best chance. It doesn't hurt that I'll have 8 months to get ready for it.

So there you have it; out with the old, in with the new. I'm really looking forward to 2015 and believe I've laid the groundwork to achieve great things in my running and in life in general.

How do you plan on owning 2015?