Sunday, January 31, 2010

Training Update - 3

What a great day for running in Houston, and the contrast to yesterday's wind and cold made it even better. One great thing about not having a deadline like a pending marathon is that I can choose with a lot of flexibility when and how long I want to run.

So today I took the wife and dog on my 4.3 mile loop run, but we walked it. I was hoping with the lack of winter leaf cover that I could find out the exact mileage with my GPS, but, alas, it still couldn't hold a signal with the "tunnel-effect" of the greenbelt trails.

After doing some minor home maintenance-type things, I went back out before it got dark for a quick run. Two laps on the same trail totalling 8.6 miles in a little under 66 minutes, with the TH Index at about 96. Not too bad. I just hope it's not too much only two weeks after the Houston Marathon on the old body.

I'll be back in the gym tomorrow for some biking and weight work. The rest of the week is problematic with all day meetings out of the office, but a lot of my marathon training was out of town at meetings in cold locations, thus hotel treadmills. There's lots of ways to get into and stay in shape.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Official Results

No running today. Cold, windy, no weekend access to the company fitness center. So when I checked the mail with the dog today and received my official results from the Houston Marathon, 2010 edition, I had a few flashbacks.

My time was 3:28:12, or 7:56 a mile. Not so interesting. But then the first 10k time was 46:13, or 7:27 a mile. The first half, or 13.1 miles, was 1:38:17, or 7:30 a mile. So I slowed down to 7:33 or so a mile over the roughly second quarter of the race. The 30k time was 2:20:49, or 7:34 a mile overall. This makes the third quarter of the race in about 7:42 or so, slightly slower still. But at 7:34 a mile I was still on Boston Marathon qualifying pace for 18.6 miles. Not too bad, considering a finishing time of 3:20 or better would be over 18 minutes faster than my only previous marathon time. I was even thinking of how I would run the last twelve blocks on Rusk with my wife watching as I qualified for Boston.

But it didn't end quite that way. I suppose that's why they call it a marathon.

Obviously over the last quarter of the race I slowed significantly, and I think I know why: cramps from my toes to my neck will do that. So I still managed to finish over ten minutes faster than before, but it wasn't fun at the end.

But the official results don't reflect all that.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Training Update, 2

Well, sometimes one writes about something and then enough of it happens that I just have to wonder. I ran six miles yesterday along the greenbelt trails. The weather was cool and humid. I quickly developed a nice sweat, but wasn't hot at any time. Not too bad. Only problem was I'm apparently not used to the humidity any more. I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunity later to get used to it....

I started off okay at around 7:40 a mile for the first three miles, and gradually slowed down to a finishing overall time of 7:52 a mile. It was a tough day overall. Breathing unsteady. Lots of sweat. But it followed a hard cross-train day, so whatever. There'll be another day. There always is.

And then today was another cross-train day. Stationary bike for 40 minutes hard, and it felt good, and then about 20 minutes of core and upper body weights. Obviously not much, but something.

Luckily no philosophy today.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Temperature-Humidity Equation

Nothing too deep here, but it’s an observation I’ve had for a few years now. With Houston’s generally warm, okay, hot, temperatures and high humidities, there seems to be a relationship between the two that impacts my running. Now we know that a formalized relationship in summer is the so-called “heat index”, but I’ve never really known what that means to my body, or exactly what went into the number anyway. And besides, nobody seems to talk about the heat index until it is around 95 or higher, and for me that is a no-run day, at least outside, no matter what.

So how can we use a number to help guide us in our running? I have been using a simple addition factor to help me out. Add the temperature in Fahrenheit to the relative humidity percentage and, voila, we have a number that is usable. My rule is that if the number is over 150 it will be difficult to run much more than five or six miles at a reasonable pace, and when the number approaches 160, especially if I’m running in daylight hours, caution should be made. Over 160 and it’s time to stay in the air conditioning or find an indoor treadmill. No exceptions.

This formula has worked well for me. The most significant problem I have found with it is that in summer the number rarely falls below 150 (but thankfully it seldom rises above 160). So summer running, as is widely known, is difficult in Houston. But not impossible.

Luckily today is not summer, and the number as I’m sitting here is 64 plus 71 equals 135, a bit high for winter but still comfortable. I’ll break a sweat, and if I go over five miles my cotton tee shirt will be soaked to my belly button, but I won’t overheat. And that’s a good thing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Training Update

After delivering a speech at a conference yesterday, with all the activities that attend to those sorts of events, I managed to make it out of town for dinner with one of the kids. This led to playing tennis in my dress clothes, and then a late night arrival back home. So much for the evening run I was planning....

So today I returned to my regularly scheduled programming by cross-training. I upped the ante to 60 minutes on the stationary bike and what will be a normal variety of resistance training: 150-plus crunches on the swiss ball, and three sets each of dumbbell bench presses, dumbbell curls, machine fly's, and dumbbell military presses. The intent is to push the resistance training close to muscle failure. I succeeded today.

Tomorrow I'll be back on the road with a normal run, but like today will stretch things out a bit as I continue to nicely recover from the Marathon.

Gotta be careful, though. I'm a lot more likely to get injured and not make the starting line than I am to make the starting line and not make the finish line.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stretching Thoughts

I have made it a habit to not stretch prior to, or after for that matter, running. I know. I'm headed straight to running purgatory.

I've never had any muscular problems, other than some slight soreness the day after a hard run. That's not a problem since I never run back-to-back days. Ergo, no need to stretch. On top of that, I have done the requisite research into the benefits and threats from stretching...and found very little either way that sways me. I can theoretically see the benefits, but it doesn't work for me, and I just don't see the downside based on my results. So there.

But I do have a caveat: at about mile 10 of the 2007 Houston Marathon, the only other marathon I have run besides the 1984 Dallas Marathon (yes, 23 years apart!), I had a severe calf problem that caused me to stop running and find a tree near Rice University to stretch against. It gradually worked and within three miles I had forgotten about the issue. What caused it? I can only guess it was all the stride-shortening and -chopping I had to do in the first 3-4 miles. Since I never run with other folks, this congested running early on was a little disconcerting. Maybe this had no effect on the calf, but maybe it did.

We'll see in January, right? The proof is always in the results. The clock don't lie.

Speaking of being on the clock, today was a cross-training day with 40 minutes of fairly hard stationary bike riding and about 15 minutes of upper body weight training, the only kind of weight training I do. A decent day following my fast Kingwood greenbelt 4.3 miles yesterday (32:43, or 7:36 a mile). Let's hope the weight work won't leave me as sore as the one session last week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Year to the End

Howdy folks, and welcome to a blog devoted to preparing for and running the Chevron Houston Marathon on January 30, 2011. Yes, that's only a little more than a year from now, so let's get it on.

First, some history. I ran competitively in high school several decades ago, and during that time ran my first marathon in 3:47. I thought so highly of this accomplishment that I didn't run another until two years ago in the Houston Marathon, where I ran a 3:38. Not too bad for a middle-aged, white collar guy who due to shin splints can only run every other day.

That wasn't enough, however, so I ran the Houston Marathon again last Sunday, one week ago today. I ran a 3:28, but was on pace for a 3:19 at mile 21 until cramps set in pretty much all over my body, from my neck to my left second-biggest toe. And I just can't let it go, so I'm going to give it a legitimate shot at the Holy Grail of amateur marathoning, qualifying for and running in the Boston Marathon. For me, that will be a 3:30 marathon at the next Houston Marathon.

So this blog is the story of my year trying to accomplish that Bucket List goal. Wish me luck.