Thursday, April 29, 2010

Month Review

I may or may not do this on a regular basis, but here is a review of the month's running:
109 miles
7:36 a mile

There will be months coming up where this simple snapshot will not matter much, since it will include track work and tempo runs, which in my opinion are really valuable, but don't directly translate into miles and times for easy comparison. But for now it's a number that makes some sense.

For today, since the wind was blowing hard and it was warm with high humidity, I stayed inside on the treadmill and ran 6 miles in 7:30 a mile. I was pleased with this since I ran so far two days ago, and was more pleased that the shin splints didn't hurt too much.

So much for the month. I won't be adding anything running-wise tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


So, 24 hours after my longest run in a while and I was a little tender this morning. Nothing major, just some soreness and stiffness on the outside of the right hip which actually hurt some on the walk home yesterday but went away gradually today as I moved around. Also some general muscle soreness in my calves, but that happens often after long runs.

I'll see how I feel before I decide on the run type tomorrow, but the weather is still holding. This weather pattern is bordering on amazing...almost May and no sign of needing the air conditioner in the house, and no rain for about a month. Yard grass is suffering! But thankfully the running community is not, at least not yet...but it's not July, either.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Surprise Long Run

I decided to run a half marathon today at slow speed just to get in a distance run outside while the weather stayed fantastic (TH Index 106 with the temperature at 75 degrees and the humidity at a rockin' 31 percent).

I held my pace around 8 minutes per mile for the half and then decided to run the first mile out-and-back for a total of 15.1 miles in 7:55 a mile. Not bad. And a great day.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Run Fast

I read something interesting today: to run fast the runner should run fast in training. Well, duh.

Sometimes I think this sort of super-interesting information should qualify for the Apocalypse note of the year.

In other breaking news, the sun is expected to rise in the east in the morning tomorrow....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Quarter Marathon Run - 3

Another day, another quarter marathon on the Kingwood Marathon course. This time it was a slow-ish start with a relatively fast finish, and an overall pace of 7:42. Much better than the hellish run a couple days ago.

Why better? Not because of my shins. They are starting to ache with the consistent mileage. I think the TH Index of 115 had more to do with it. The humidity all weekend after the Friday warm bath effect was really low, thanks to a front that brought some rain Friday evening.

I'm also thinking my pace has slowed down some as the month had matured due to the shin pain. The pain is not overwhelming, just constant when I run, and subconsciously I think it slows me down some. I'll solve the issue by taking some days off in a few weeks when I go to Colorado for a long weekend at the house attached to a business trip, but until then....

The last couple of runs have been around sundown on the greenbelt trails, and a short note here will be made about the abundance of rabbits along the trail. One today just would not leave the side of the trail, running along with me for maybe 50 yards. He/she won't last long with that kind of defense strategy!

Getting ready for another week of work....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Half Moon Running - 2

I'm enjoying this half moon running stuff. I started too late tonight to run the usual 4.3 mile loop twice without running in the dark, so that's exactly what I did for the second lap. And it was fun, but slow.

My time was a definitely uninspiring 8:13 a mile, caused by three things, I think. One, I am tired from a long week at work complete with a difficult but quick trip. Two, the TH Index has hit a new high for the year, and it was really high, checking in at 156 with a temperature of 78 and the humidity at 78. Really difficult, resulting in what was maybe the sweatiest run of my life. My legs were coated in sweat, my shirt was "wringable" at the end, and my hair was wet all over. Really gross. Get ready for summer. And three, the last lap was completely in the dark, which on the greenbelt trails was definitely not conducive to higher speeds. In fact, I almost hit a kid on a bicycle coming at me about a quarter mile from the end. The kid yelled in fear and I think I heard him crash into the forest shortly after I left him. But I wasn't sure.

This heat is going to be tough. I slowed down over the last half, and I doubt it was all due to the dark. I just love Houston in the summer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Half Moon Running

Another note about tonight's run that is really enjoyable is the half moon. I know full moon running is really special, but a half moon puts out a lot of light, too. On my night loop I cut between two neighborhoods by way of the greenbelt trails and normally have to slow down some...not tonight. The shadows are a bit eery, but it's worth it.

It's even worth just taking the dog for a walk. Special evenings with the half and plus moon cycles.

New Shorts

I finally broke down and bought some new running shorts today on the way home from the airport. They are a medium-length traditional running short made of the "dry material" that is supposed to pull the moisture away from your skin. Whatever.

I ran in the pair tonight on a 9.4 mile run (7:47 a mile when I felt like garbage the entire way) and of course they got sweaty. I even had sweat running down the backs of my upper legs. Strange feeling. In any event, they felt good, very light, and I managed to avoid getting hit, so I guess it's all good. Interestingly, or maybe not, my shoes, shorts, and neon yellow shirt for night running were all New Balance products. I'm not sure what that means, if anything, but there you go.

For the record, the TH Index was 131 at 10pm.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Golf and Running

Okay, this is another strange post title, but here's the thought process. Many golfers, the average duffers shooting 80-105 or so, hit only a few really good shots a round. In my case, maybe 2-3 that I really felt good about when the day was over. But we all say that's what brings us back...the one great shot.

I feel that way about a great run. I had one yesterday, the 6.55 mile run in 7:03 a mile. It gets me thinking that I can do things that a year ago I could not have dreamed of. Is the NYC Marathon qualifying time of 1:30 in a half marathon a possible reality? Is a full marathon time of 3:15 a realistic possibility? If I stay healthy for a couple of years and keep building up could a sub 3 hour marathon be possible?

That one great shot, or great run, keeps me coming back. And back. It's a great feeling to run strong and then think on the possibilities.

Quarter Marathon Run - 2

With hectic work travel yesterday I wasn't able to post about my run (Hectic? Being paged over the airport intercom to get on the plane while I was still standing in the security line makes it hectic!). So here is a brief overview.

I ran the Kingwood Marathon route again, but only one loop, making for a certified quarter marathon run. It started off nicely with a 7:38 opening mile, although it felt faster than that. I really dislike it when I am running okay but it feels faster than it is. Makes me feel not-so-fast, I guess.

I could tell as I was hitting miles three and four that I was speeding up, but with the start I figured I'd just let it ride. The last two miles were really fast, with the last mile under 6:40.

The total 6.55 mile run was in 7:03 pace, so it's obvious there were some fast miles in there after the relatively slow start. It was a very good "accomplishment" run. But still not NYC Marathon qualifying pace....

The TH Index is steadily climbing. Yesterday was 138, with humidity being most of that. It made the run relatively cool, but very sweaty.

A last note is that during the last mile, when my breathing was getting a bit heavy, I counted, yes, counted my breaths. I think I had 380 breaths in the mile. If it was a 6:30 mile, that's 390 seconds, so I was breathing very deeply once each second, almost. I'm not sure what this means, but it's an interesting number. And maybe a dissociative technique for the end of hard runs in the future.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


A strange thing happened the day after a reasonably hard run: no shin splints or associated pain at all. Go figure.

I'm heading out of town tomorrow afternoon for a quick but difficult business trip, so I'll probably try to squeeze in a run in the morning and then again Wednesday evening after I get back to avoid carrying the running stuff and trying to find a time while gone. No biggee either way, but it seems easiest.

No running today to discuss. Not much else, either.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dirty Running

Something I noticed today while walking back to the house after my half-marathon run: how dirty my chest and arms were. I ran shirtless again - not to impress the suburban, overweight, married women, but to simply try to manage the sweat - and when I was done I had all this grit on my chest and arms. Some of it appeared to be small insects, but some was just dirt-like.

Where does it come from? I was never behind anybody, or a bicycle for that matter. I was never along a road since I was running on the Kingwood greenbelts. I just don't know.

But something I have wondered about for a while. What kind of junk, physical junk - not the invisible soot and oilfield garbage in our air here - are we distance runners inhaling every time we take a run? And how does that particulate matter affect our breathing, since we have to be losing some capacity if our lungs get partially coated with junk?

I have no idea, and don't think I want to know, but it's a real question in light of all the stuff stuck to the outside of my body today.

Half Marathon Day

I got a late start due to not sleeping too well, so around 11am I finally got out on the Kingwood Marathon course for an easy half marathon. I finished in 1:42:48, for a 7:50 pace. Not too bad for an easy run on a TH Index 130 day.

A strange note is that one of the middle miles, one of the few where I actually know the mile markers, was run in 7:18. I'm not sure what happened there; my breathing was a little ragged but I didn't notice the miles later being that much slower. Interesting.

I have been looking at some runner blogs lately and a guy I casually know, another Masters-age guy like me, uses a heartrate monitor exclusively to monitor his effort levels during marathons, running around 2:40 in several. Maybe I should incorporate a HR monitor in my repertoire. I had one a couple of years ago when I was in lesser condition and was demoralized by the thing constantly showing me running right around my theoretical maximum heart rate. I didn't like the idea of constantly worrying about a heart attack - I had rather not know when it will happen - so I took it back to the store.

Maybe I could discount some of my hard-headedness and get one again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I try to run every other day. That works out fairly well as long as I stay at home and don't have really busy days and nights, both. But when I take vacations or travel for work it gets more difficult.

Next week I will spend a few days in lovely Tulsa, Oklahoma. God's country, no doubt. I leave Monday afternoon and get back Wednesday afternoon. I will probably run tomorrow, Friday, and then Sunday. That means Tuesday would be a logical run day, but there's no way I will have time that day with a full day of meetings and then a formal dinner and a late meeting on the docket.

So I have some choices. I could do a long run Saturday, then squeeze in a run Monday, or run Friday and Sunday and then wait for a long run Wednesday night after I get home. Such choices.

I'll figure it out. If this is the worst problem today that's not all bad.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Wrong Direction

What a tough day. It felt bad from the very start. Hurting legs, inconsistent breathing, general feeling of tiredness. Not good.

I ran the typical 5.9 mile loop again, and watched my marks as I went along. Surprisingly, shockingly really, they weren't horrible, but I certainly felt that way. I guess it had to happen.

Why? Who knows? Lack of sleep? Hot? Just don't care any more? Hate running? All of the above?

But the numbers never lie. The facts are these...the TH Index was 132 (getting higher by the day), the pace was 7:42 (a far cry from the 7:15 two days ago on the same course). I got some more sun since I ran shirtless again due to the heat (and since I ran slower I got a little more sun than previously).

Such are the victories we claim....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Clock Don't Lie

I imagine all runners wear some sort of stopwatch, whether it is the $5 WalMart variety, my watch of choice, or a $300 GPS HRM 400-lap contraption. Regardless, we love our watches.

In my case, my watch reflects my values and personality. Simple, inexpensive, functional, and accurate. It has weaknesses, however. The light for night use is nearly useless, and if I am running at a reasonable pace at all I can't see it. I still haven't figured out how to make it record laps. How I set the day of the week is an abject mystery. The beep that goes off at ten minutes to each hour is unstoppable.

But I have run two marathons with this watch. It works fine. I kind of like its weaknesses. We have a history together. We are getting better, and faster.

But there is no denying that even with these platitudes, the watch don't lie. And that can hurt.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Training Update - 15

After the hard, physical weekend of installing 42 rolls of insulation in the attic and having a surprisingly good run Saturday during the insulation install and after the hard run Thursday, I was surprised by my run today. I knew an hour before I went out that I was ready to roll, could just feel it, so I let it go.

I hit the first mile marker, or what is close to the mile mark, in 7:15. Usually with the retaining wall jump, the light timing never working out resulting in impromptu sprints through downtown traffic, the first tough hill coming out of the Buffalo Bayou pedestrian bridge crossing, and the spaced out skateboarders park in the way, it takes me 8 minutes to get to the mile mark.

My next major checkpoint is the 1.5 mile mark when I go under one of those scary-like bridges. No, not just under it, but running under it along its length. I hate seeing people here. Why are they hanging out under the bridge? Do you hate runners? Do you hate me? Anyway, usually I hit the bridge shadow in 12 minutes; today was 10:45.

I stayed one to two minutes ahead of normal through the next couple of checkpoints, both bridges, the second of which is home to a bat colony that stinks so bad that I have done personal tests on how fast I can run, and for how long, while holding my breath.

Things stayed great to the turnaround bridge over Buffalo Bayou, which I crossed in 22 minutes, instead of the usual 23:30 or so. The rest was a fast clip back downtown.

Except it wasn't. I got tired in the heat, still somewhat dehydrated from the attic work, and the early speed. Oh yeah, how does the wind stay in the face all the way on this out-and-back? I cleared this theory with the personal trainer at the fitness center, and it's true. I swear! At least most of the time it's true....

I slowed down dramatically at one point, but finished strong in 7:15 a mile over the 5.9 mile course. This may not sound like much, but for this hilly course, mostly on dirt and unlevel ground, it's not bad.

I'll take it and look forward to the next time. Another PR?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Quarter Marathon Run

I spent all morning working in the attic installing insulation. Not the optimum way to prepare for a run. But did that slow anything down?

I went out to the certified 4 lap marathon course located a quarter mile from my house. My thought was to run a slow half marathon, but that never seems to work out. The first mile was in 7:58, about what I wanted, but I could tell from my breathing that I was speeding up later. When I got to the 5.55 mile mark, one mile from the quarter marathon turnaround, I decided to see what I could do the last mile in and call it a day (my shins had hurt much of the run so I really wasn't in the mood for a long run). The last mile was in 7:03, so I ran 7:37 a mile overall. This corresponds to a 3:20 marathon, for whatever it's worth.

A worry: I need to improve my discipline to be able to run certain speeds to help me run longer distances. The way I run now I have to be really tuned in right to run long because I don't control my speed very well. Something to work on, but I wonder if one of those GPS watches would help.

Then again, I'm the guy who has almost no high-tech gear, so I'll just struggle along. Just getting outside on terrific days like today (TH Index of 112) is good enough.

Friday, April 9, 2010

NYC Marathon Qualification

I have mentioned before that I am intrigued by running the multi-cultural New York City Marathon. The traditional method of entry is by lottery, but there is also another way in...qualification by time. The interesting part is that the qualification times are very fast (faster than Boston, in some cases like for the older runners by quite a bit) and the qualification times are not age-adjusted.

That makes my qualification by time a bit more difficult than Boston. For example, I need to run a 3:30 marathon to qualify for Boston at my age, but for New York I would have to qualify with a 3:10. Much more difficult. The other New York qualification metric is to run a 1:30 half marathon...for me that should be slightly more achievable since I am more of a speed runner with a middle distance background. So I'll have to run a half marathon at some point.

To compare where I am now, I plugged my last two fast long runs into a running time estimator, courtesy of Running Times magazine online ( and found that I'm still not quite there. But I'm not planning to try to qualify until this Fall, so I have time. My guess is I'll have to focus on speed work, say 800 and 1200 repeats on the track in the Texas evening heat, this summer and then re-build my endurance in the month before the late October qualification effort.

And on we go.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Windy Treadmill

Crazy title to a post, I know. We had a cold front blow through last night and, while the temperatures were really cool and comfortable today, it was very windy. Howling between buildings downtown windy. So I stayed indoors knowing I would regret it later, and I already am.

To substitute, I decided to run for the full hour that the treadmill would let me (I like some of those hotel treadmills where they will go forever, apparently). At the same time, I would find out how far I could go in that hour. A little different from what I have done before, but I had to do something for entertainment.

I started at a 7:30 pace for the first mile, then quickly moved to a 7:03 second mile and a 6:35 third mile. I then alternated between 7:03 and whatever I could do faster, mainly around 6:53. In the end, I ran 8.65 miles in the hour without a hard push. Impressive enough.

But not NYC Marathon speed. Still work to do, but plenty of time. Now I just need to figure out how far to run Saturday on this to-be-terrific weekend.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I'm not one to worry too much about how I look. When I started running 30 or so months ago I almost always wore painters shorts and cotton tee shirts, with cotton socks to complete the ensemble. Not too much pride there.

Things are a little different now. I'm still not much of a fashion statement (black shorts on almost all runs don't lend oneself to a Paris runway), but I looked into several stores at the mall today and failed to find shorts I liked. I'm getting old, so I'm told; all the shorts were too long. What's this stuff with the shorts going below the knees? For running? Nope.

So I'll keep looking, but rest assured, I'll spare your eyes a pair of those split running shorts that cover practically nothing.

Oh yeah, I usually run on the second day after running...not this time. I had to leave town on a business trip and got back late today, and with my series of recent runs and aching shins I decided to take the day off. Interestingly, my legs seemed a little itchy late this afternoon...maybe I need to run? I have a run planned for tomorrow, regardless.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I love the way confidence plays into things. I run alone, I race seldom (like once a year), and I have relatively little knowledge of the "culture" of running. Going to the Houston Marathon, including something as simple as the Expo, is intimidating.

For example, these people look fit! They are thin, they look ready, and they really look like they know what they are doing. If not, why are they here at the start of the Houston Marathon in the first wave within easy sight of the starting line? I can't stay with these guys! Get me out of here!

But wait, what's that about a Drugstore Cowboy? You can dress the part but it won't get you to the finish line any faster. So maybe my shorts are the right length after all. Maybe my gray socks will be fast and get me to the finish line. Maybe I don't need Nikes and my New Balances are really good enough. Maybe I've trained more and harder than almost anybody. Maybe, maybe.

It's not in the looks. It's in the preparation, training, mental toughness, and willingness to push the limits. You do that, we'll be together on the course.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Training - 14

It's getting warm. I ran with temperatures in the very low 80's today, with the humidity a manageable 55, but east winds around 12-15 miles per hour. It made for a more difficult finish than I would have like, but so be it.

I ran the usual 5.9 mile work route, with the up-and-down hills in the first half. Things were fine following the hard Saturday night run for the first three-plus miles, but I just lost interest during mile 4 until re-focusing in the last stretch. I finished with a 7:25 per mile time, not bad at all. I took a quick review of my past month or so and this approached the fastest times, so I'm apparently improving, getting faster, and feeling stronger even after eight straight good runs.

One worry I need to look into is my right shoe. The harder material at the bottom of the shoe, covering the main cushion part, is almost worn through at the heel on the outside. I really like these shoes. They need to last!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fractional Calculating

I work in a technical field, and possess a technical degree. But my ability to calculate relatively difficult in my head while on the run has gotten a lot better than it was even when I used my brain with some regularity in college.

For example, try to correlate how long it should take at a 7:40 mile pace to run what you believe to be 3/8ths of a mile can be difficult. After about 12 miles it can be nearly impossible as I slip into some catatonic state of monitoring my body only, not the feeble brain waves that are still bouncing around.

Even then, I manage to get close enough to know that my pace is right, or at least right enough. And that's what I'm after.

Then again, I could just ignore the watch except for the finishing time and get a heart monitor. But the last time I tried one of those I failed to get my heart rate under 165 and figured I was going to die at any moment, and that I'd rather not know that. You know, I thought just unknowingly falling down head over heels would be the best way. So I threw the monitor away.

And struggle with fractions. Ah yes, the glory of running.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fast Comeback

Okay, so I walked home this morning. I was talked into a fast run tonight, a quick out-and-back totalling 5.3 miles at a 7:06 pace. And the second half was around two minutes faster than the out pace. Blistering. Makes me think again I can run a really fast half marathon and qualify for the New York City Marathon instead of trying to lottery in, thus extending my marathon career unnecessarily.

And yes, I wore the fast shorts tonight, but not the fast socks. Maybe I could have run a 6:00 pace with them!

And on another note, here's a shout out to the 50 mile trail racers over at Smithville today. Gotta be tough to do that one.

Unfortunately, my shins are aching so I've already taken an ibuprofen and am ready for bed.


Fast Socks

I went out for a run today against my better judgment (I was tired from yard and car work, my shins were still beat up from the last week plus, it was hot, etc) and after about three minutes said the heck with it and walked home. It wasn't pretty, but it was smart. A side note, as I left the house I could hear the dog yelping to get out; she does not understand that when I leave and don't take a car that I'm not always just out in the yard!

Really though, if the truth came out, I turned around today because I didn't wear the right clothes, my fast clothes. Laugh out loud, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. I wore my old cotton painter shorts that I wear everywhere, hadn't even brushed my teeth yet or taken a shower, and had already had a busy morning. But if I'd worn my fast socks, it would have been different!

So what am I talking about? Not socks, really. Yeah, I have a pair of double-lined Wright socks that I bought years ago to wear as under-socks on extended backpack trips, and I have converted those socks into my marathon and very-long-run socks. But they are not necessarily my "fast socks". Those don't exist. And yes, I have two pair of great "dry material" running shorts complete with the boxer briefs. I used to wear them only for big runs, but now I wear them most of the time. But not today.

I do think there is some truth to wearing the "right" stuff can help performance, but only in the mental area, mostly. I know if I wear the "fast socks" I'm in for a long run, and probably need some mental toughness to finish it well. Today I didn't wear them (it wasn't going to be more than a quarter marathon, anyway), and I decided I didn't need the run. I'm not sure the two are connected, but maybe.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Topeka News

Welcome from Topeka, or somewhere. And Happy April Fools Day!

I debated this morning whether to run the usual 5.9 mile route or the Memorial Park 12 mile route...the shin splints won, and I took the shorter loop. It was a wise choice; the shins hurt most of the way.

The facts in short: windy around 15 mph from the south, so I had a cross wind mostly; sunny with the TH Index around 125 (steadily coming up, summer's on the way), and the usual small series of hills. My time was 45:09, a mere three seconds faster than two days ago (how is that possible to be so close?), so it came to 7:39 a mile. Not bad for the sixth good workout in a row.

I'll take the Easter weekend off running probably and try to come back strong next week and have another small breakthrough. I have a few running thoughts that I'll talk about in the next few days though. It's been a while since I wrote much on topics other than the actual running.

Have a great Easter. And if you don't get the post title, think Google and April Fools Day.