3 x 1600 Meter Track Workout

Got up early this morning to get in my weekly track workout before heading into work on my “late” (9am is hardly “late”). Regardless, the weather was overcast, very humid from the storms that we have been getting in the evenings, and little breezy.  Temps in the low 70s.  This weeks workout called for a 10 minute warm-up, 3×1600 meters (at 6:63-7:01 pace) with 400 meter rest interval, and a 10 minute cool-down.

My right leg was still feeling tight from the treadmill run on Tuesday night, so I spent most of the warm-up walking and doing lots of active stretching to try to shake it off.  I only jogged about 400 meters during the warm-up (usually I jog 800-1600 meters during the warm-up). The jury is out on whether this was a good idea or not.

My leg remained tight throughout and I just didn’t “feel it” this morning.  My times for the 1600s were 6:59, 7:08, and 7:53.  I shouldn’t feel to bad about it.  It’s 22:00 flat for 3 miles and my PR at the 5K distance is 22:27, so really a pretty good run for a bad day.

My wife shared a tweet from Rick Warren with me yesterday.  To paraphrase, the goal is not perfection. The goal is progress.  It encouraged me throughout my run this morning.  Even when I knew I wasn’t going to hit my target paces on those last two miles, I could continue to run with a smile because I can look back and see where I have come from.

You’ve come a long way baby.


Dreadmill Tempo Run

I watched the radar all afternoon as thunderstorms began developing all around the Atlanta area on Tuesday.  My training plan called for a tempo run that would have to be run late in the evening due to my work schedule.  I was hoping that the rain would move in and cool the air down and then move out.  This was not what the storms had in mind.

The rain continued for hours (I didn’t really mind the rain-we need it and it did cool the temps from the 90’s to the 70’s-sounds like good running weather) BUT the lightning stayed as well.  I don’t want my 15 minutes of fame to include a news story about my getting electrocuted while running in a thunderstorm, so I grabbed my gear and headed for the gym.

Oh how I despise running on the treadmill.  Other than the fact that there is not any lightning in the gym, running on the treadmill is worse to me in every way.  My strides feel off. The pace seems much faster. I am, shall we say, uncoordinated.  It takes longer and feels worse.

But…I did  it. This was the first run of my 16 week training for the Atlanta Marathon and I didn’t let the weather keep me from getting it done.  My plan called for 2 easy miles, 2 tempo miles (7:30 pace) and 2 easy miles.  I tried running the 7:30 pace, but on the treadmill it felt like something was going to pull (or break off) in my right leg, so I eased it down to an 8:00 pace and ran the miles.  I ended up running 6 miles in 59 minutes.  Not bad. It took about 5 minutes longer than it would have taken on the track, but I didn’t make the news either. A pretty good trade off…

This wasn’t my best 6 mile run, but it was a great opportunity to test my resolve.  Something really does feel different now that I am “in training”.

I’m curious, does anybody prefer to run on the treadmill? If you hate it like me, why? Does your running form feel “off” as well?

It’s Only a 10K + 20 Miles

My boss brought his boys out to our office last week.  He had been explaining to them on the ride over that I was running a 10K road race the next day.  The boys had only two questions for him:

1.  How far is 10K?

And then…

2.  Why does he want to run that far?

When I told them “if you think that’s a long way, wait until October when I run a marathon. It will be a 10K plus 20 miles”, I don’t think that they really believed me.

While there is really only one right answer to question number one, the answer to number two can be very personal.  For me, I can think of only one answer:  Because I can.

Two years ago, the only marathons that I enjoyed involved Spike TV and James Bond movies.  I didn’t even watch the summer Olympics.  When the Olympics were held in Atlanta, I didn’t want to go see anything.  I enjoyed the outdoors, if I was sitting in the shade.

Today, I watch every track and field event that is televised.  I read books about the history of the sport, the heroes of the sport, and how to improve at the sport.  I run 15-20 miles a week and am always looking to improve.  My diet has changed. I have had to replace most of my wardrobe.  I have a drawer in my dresser for “running stuff”.  I have lost about 45 pounds and I am in the best physical shape of my life.

So why do I want to run a marathon? “Because I can” really is the answer.  Because I feel like I am on a path that will lead to improved health and better enjoyment of life for me and my entire family.  Because in my family, the men haven’t faired very well in later years, many dying prematurely from illness or disease.  Because I want to give myself a chance.

So this week, I start my official marathon training. 16 weeks to go.  There is something different about being inside of the training window.  It just feels different.  We will see if that lasts….

Monday was my first gym day.  I can’t remember the last time that I was in the gym for 60 minutes, or the last time that I was in the gym and didn’t even touch a treadmill.  My workout for Monday:

20 minutes on the exercise bike.

25 minutes weightlifting/circuit training.

12 minutes on the elliptical.

My plan is to hit the gym for an hour three times a week, doing similar workouts.  When I tried cross-training before, I quit because my running distance and pace suffered due to sore muscles.  I realize that I have to trust the plan and do the work and eventually, my muscles will become stronger and give me the ability to run even further and faster than before.

Here’s to all of you who are doing things that you (or anybody else) never thought that you could.  You know who you are.

And you know that you can.

Get started.

Have you ever attempted anything that most people around you thought was either crazy or a mistake?  Did you accomplish your goal?

2012 Peachtree Road Race 10K Race Report

This year was the 43rd running of the race that winds down Peachtree Street from Buckhead to Piedmont Park in downtown Atlanta.  The first race was won by Jeff Galloway and included 150 runners. This years race included 60,000 runners.  It is one of the largest annual road races in the world.  Every year, thousands of hopeful runners register for the lottery to try to get a slot in the race.  Why?  For the shirt, of course.  For years, race organizers didn’t print enough shirts so only the fastest runners could retrieve one at the race’s end.  The PRR shirts are to be worn proudly around Atlanta.

This was my first time running this race.  I put my name in the hat last year but I didn’t get selected.  I found out that the only way to guarantee an entry was by joining the Atlanta Track Club (who runs the event). So I joined the club and was able to register for the event back in March.

The race is a point to point run, so logistics really come into play.  My wife and kids, as well as one of my wife’s very good friends, came along to watch, so I had them drop me off at a Marta Station (Atlanta’s rail system) so that they could head on over to Piedmont and find a place to park and camp out for the race.

The race atmosphere was everything I could have hoped for.  The packed train ride to the start.  The giant American flag hanging over the starting line. All of the runners in their costumes and Patriotic outfits. It really was a great buildup to the start of the race.

The race started at 7:30, with my wave (group B) heading out at 7:35.  There were about 25 start waves, with the last group starting 1 hour and 35 minutes after the first group.   I was concerned that having so many people on the road would make it impossible to spread out and actually run the race, but the performance-based time slots really did a good job of opening up the course.

The course is pretty hilly on the second half, so I new that pacing myself early was critical.  I ran the first 3 miles around 7:30 per mile.  The hills at the end were not oversold.  They were brutal.  Cardiac Hill, the hill leading up to Piedmont Hospital, is quite long and steep enough to really get your thighs burning.  I managed to get through the finishing miles about 8:30 per mile.  My Garmin added about 2/10ths of a mile around mile 4, so I was a little confused about distance.  As I turned onto 10th street to race to the finish, I could see a decorated, portable bridge stretching across the road.  Assuming this to be the finish, I picked up the pace and kicked hard to the end.  When I got closer to the bridge, I saw that it was set up for the race photographers and the actual finish line was still about a quarter of a mile away!  I continued to push hard, high-fiving my wife and Brenda as I passed them to the finish line. 

I ended up finishing the race in about 49:45.  While I had hoped to be about 2 or 3 minutes faster, this was still a PR at this distance by almost 3 minutes, and it puts me in the top 3,500 or so runners. Not bad out of 60,000.  I will take it!

While I was collecting my shirt and snacks at the park, my wife was interviewed by one of the local news stations about the race.  When we got home, we set the dvr up record the news, just in case.  We then had the pleasure of watching my beautiful wife over and over and over on the news, while she received random texts, calls, and FB posts all afternoon saying “I saw you on the news”! 


I have two real takeaways from the race:

1.  Hills.  I am running a full marathon along these same city streets in October.  I obviously need to incorporate more hills training into my workouts.  My thoughts right now are to run at least half of my long runs on the streets in my neighborhood.  It’s only about 1.25 miles around, but it has a couple of long hills and a couple of short steep hills. I love running on the Silver Comet Trail, but since it follows the old rail line, the grades are very easy on the legs.  I need something harder, but I don’t know if I can run 10 or 15 laps around my neighborhood.  Most of my neighbors already think I’m nuts, but I’m afraid I will bore myself to death.

2.  Last night when I went online to check my official time, I discovered that apparently my timing chip in my bib didn’t register that I started (or finished) the race.  There is no “official” record that I ran.  Honestly, this really bummed me out.  I had been looking forward to this race for over a year.  Heck, I even joined a track club to make sure that I got in! As of this morning, still nothing.  Anyway, I know that I ran it (I have the shirt, right?) and I know that I PR’d and got in under 50 minutes.  To paraphrase Bart Yasso’s words from yesterday’s post, the reward is completing the journey, not seeing your name and time on a web page.

I didn’t think that I would need to apply those words so soon.

Do you incorporate hills or strength training in your workouts?

Have you PR’d or just finished a race and didn’t get a timed result?

The One Where I Got Lost, Met Bart Yasso, and Got Inspired

I headed into Atlanta on Monday to pickup my race bib for the AJC Peachtree Road Race.  They moved the Expo in the Georgia World Congress Center this year, which is much larger than the space that they used to use at the Merchandise Mart. When I was younger, I saw countless concerts at the Omni (demolished years ago) and used to be very familiar with this area.  Now, not so much.  Of course, being a guy, I didn’t actually ask for directions while I wandered around a couple of blocks, but, eventually, I found a map and put myself on the right track.

After I checked in and got my number (kudos to the Atlanta Track Club-with 60,000 entrants running this race, it took all of about 30 seconds to retrieve my number), I took a quick stroll around the Expo, mostly looking for freebies and samples.

I passed the Volkswagen tent where Dean Karnazes was signing autographs.  I didn’t see Dean, but I did see the 50 or more people in line to meet him.  No time for that, so I moved on.

Around the corner, I came upon the Runner’s World table, setup to sell entries into their Half Marathon.  Sitting on the table, ankles crossed, just “hanging out”, was The Mayor of Running, Bart Yasso.  I was excited to meet and speak with him.  I have followed his exploits and adventures in Runner’s World, as well as following him on Twitter for the last year of so.  He was a great guy. Very personable. Like talking to an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while.

Anyway, I bought his book and had him autograph it and headed out the door.

Being without something to read at the time, I cracked open Bart’s book, My Life on the Run, and started reading.  I must say, if the entire books is as engaging as the first few pages, I can’t wait to finish it.

On page 7, he writes about one of his trips to Mount Kilimanjaro where he was essentially serving as a guide to a first-timer.  He describes being 25 miles from the summit, at the base of the mountain, but being unable to see the top because it is shrouded in fog. A mystery.  But he says “I already knew the secret: The reward is completing the climb, not the fleeting view of the panoramic landscape below.”

Personally, I spend entirely too much time looking ahead at the goal, where I am trying to get to, what I am trying to accomplish.  I almost overlook the journey, or just take it for granted.   I focus too much on how it’s going to be when I get there, never realizing that the real reward is the effort that I put forth every day to get to the goal.

I could go on, but suffice it to say….

1. I am glad I got lost.

2. I am glad Bart was sitting on the table.

3. I am glad sooo many people were preoccupied with Dean.

4.  I am glad that Bart shared the secret.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

I am actually finishing this post after finishing the Peachtree today. Much more to come on the race and my results.

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

June 2012 Review

It was the best of times. It was the best of times.

In looking back over the last month, I can really see lots of improvement and accomplished goals.

I began the month by committing to a new training plan (FIRST method – Run Less. Run Faster.) to carry me to the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th.  This has been the most significant change in my routine and has brought about significant change and growth in my running ability.

I set a new PR in the 5K distance this month, cutting almost a full minute off my previous time.  The most impressive part of this PR to me is seen when I compare the conditions of the two races.  I ran the Three Rivers 5K in Rome, Georgia last October in 23:25.  That race was on a Saturday morning when the temperature in the 50’s.  I ran the March Against Meth 5K this month in 22:27. This race was on a Friday night (I had to work from 6am until 3pm that day) and the temperature at the start of the race was in the mid-80’s. Apples to apples, the new PR race was a lot tougher than the previous one. I feel pretty confident that I can cut another minute off of my 5K PR with better conditions.

I also ran a mile in under 7 minutes for the first time ever this month….and I did it 3 times! I clocked miles on 6:52, 6:40, and 6:38.

I attribute my new PR and improved speed solely to the weekly track repeats that I have been doing as part of my new training routine.

Overall mileage was down (I only ran 62 miles), but I feel that every mile that I ran was serving a purpose.  No junk miles this month.

Overall June (last month)

62 miles (76 miles)

12 run days (13 run days)

Longest run:  9 miles (8 miles)

Average run:  5.2 miles (5.85 miles)

Average pace: 8:43/mile (8:47/mile)

Looking Ahead

I ran 6 miles this morning. The only other scheduled run for this week is the Peachtree 10K on Wednesday.  After that, I am taking the remainder of this week off to rest (maybe cross-train a couple of days) and get ready for my 16 week marathon training that begins a week from tomorrow.

I will get my 3 weekly runs (track, tempo, and long) each week and schedule the runs to give me the greatest opportunity to push myself and run the goal paces.  This will mean some early morning/late evening runs.

The First plan includes two days per week of cross-training and strength building.  This is an area for me that I have ignored often and have struggled to consistently address even when I attempt to.  This will be my biggest challenge over the next several weeks.

My only other target area for the month is my diet.  The only thing consistent about it is that it is so inconsistent.  I make great improvement for a few meals/days, only to lose it all over a weekend of poor choices. 

What are your goals for the month? What are you doing to make them become reality?

Get Started.