Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Toni and I both racing in Tacoma!

My wife Toni is a walking machine....she grew up in a European heritage family that walks all the time.  Even today in there late 80's her parents walk a few miles every single day.
(My family was, sadly, not that way. I had never met a family  that just 'went for a walk'  together before I met her..)

She doesn't have great knee health..but still does a lot of hiking and walking (but NO running..no workie). It's a bit annoying for her to have people ask if she's doing races with me...no she's not running marathons. But, she goes to the Y 6 days a week and does low-impact aerobics, cardio and weight training 

When I signed up for Tacoma she brought up the idea of her walking the half marathon.
I was like ...'!!?! what !?!?!'....sure!'  

She was not sure she could do it in the time limit (which is 4 hours). So, I put a tracking app on her phone and today we went for a fairly normal walk 1.5 mile walk..(maybe a bit faster) that we always do. She learned we did a 16:45 pace. (4 hours is only a 18+ minute pace.)

With all the hiking she does during the week I know she can do it. I showed her the Hal Higdon half marathon walking training schedule and it was kind of a joke for her. The midweek hilly hikes she can knock out any time were much MUCH more intense. The only thing she's missing is the long walks at a fast pace ..thus giving her the confidence that she can do it under 4 hours..this distance is not in question. 

Tacoma is _perfect_: the half marathon is, like the full, a point to point run..starting at the marathon halfway point!  Since my finish time is a bit under 4 hours, and I expect Toni will probably be somewhere around there too, it will mean we get to the finish at around the same time!  So fun! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Flu trends

Do you know about google flu trends?


It's a very useful resource for seeing how bad the flu is in your area. It's more up-to-date than the CDC data (which I think is about 2 weeks behind reality) because it uses aggregate search data to see how many people are searching for flu remedies or information right now

When I checked it a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was broken..the entire USA was RED RED RED...but no, not broken.

You can see different countries, states, and even the data for large cities in the USA. Alas this year none of that is needed...the data in the USA is pretty BAD ALMOST EVERYWHERE.

And yes the flu is vicious this year. And ... the flu is still INTENSE++. USA seems to have peaked some but CA is a little behind and is just past the peak now. But it needs to come down a long way before we can say this winter's season is over.

Was those hands often, and please stay home if you feel it coming on...make sure your coworkers and kids stay home too!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

14 Weeks to Tacoma

Week 15 done!

Yes, boring training logging but sorry, that's what I'm all about these days...for me it's not boring...you can bet I'll be referring to it in race buildups to come down the years...

This week Toni said "You are one lean mean running machine!". Nice to hear 8)
However I'm still 174 lbs ..and want to be sub-170. Ever little bit less weight carried helps! (And I need ALL the margin I can get) 

I was 178 after my post Berlin layoff and I'm halfway there with 15 weeks to go. It should be doable to lose another 4 lbs but never easy to lose weight when you are down low already..especially while doing heavy training.


Tuesday I planned to do my 800 meter hill sprints..4x this time. I felt tired from the weekend still and thought about bagging it and just doing a base run. Instead, as I ran,  I decided to wait and see how I felt when I got to the hill (which is 2 miles from my house). 

As I suspected I felt a lot better and managed to do the 4 without too much trouble:

2013-01-22 Tue
SplitTimeMiles Pace     HRCadElev+Elev-   YPB

Wednesday a nice slow recovery run. I always work on form but this run I really worked hard to make my slow pace as efficient as possible. Score! Very low bpms for these paces, and so very good yards-per-best (ypb) of 1.55 for the whole run.

2013-01-23 Wed
SplitTimeMiles  Pace      HR  CadElev+Elev-   YPB

Thursday was tempo day, I was feeling a teeny sore spot in my left foot so I decided to run to the Paly Track track and do the tempo portion there. It's been a long time since I've been to the track and I found they are rebuilding the grandstands there..fancy!

 OInce on the track I did 2 miles of gradually speeding up to faster than 8:20 pace and then holding there a mile and then easing back. The ypbs on the track are really good..they are always a little better because of the rebound, but yes I'm getting fitter. 

2013-01-24 Thu
  SplitTimeMiles  Pace     HR CadElev+Elev-   YPB

When I got up Friday morning I could still feel very minor sore spot on my left heel a bit, I'm doing some long walking to day to loosen up but I think I need to ease up. Last weekend I really pushed too hard too soon on Saturday's MP run and as a result Sunday was just too hard. 

This weekend I will do a very easy 4 miles at slow base on Saturday and then see how the long run goes on Sunday. I have not done a step-back week yet so easy does it for this weekend.


So today is now Saturday and I did the 4 slow base miles:

2013-01-26 Sat
Split       TimeMiles    Pace      HR  Cad Elev+ Elev-  YPB

A super efficient slow run!..1.559 ypb average...wow.  (My software throws out the first mile in the average ypb btw as my HR monitor is often wigged out for a while reading 160+ in dry winter months. Once I crack a sweat it starts working).

These HRs are low, just about as low as they have ever been (since age 52) for a 10:00-ish pace for me. 

Legs, etc felt good during the run, but just to be safe I soaked my feet in ice water afterwards...I've learned this really keeps problems at bay. And not just the lame frozen peas..against the skin ( a recipe for frostbite) ...I put my feet in full-on ice water..it's the only way...works like a charm.


Saturday morning was bright crisp sun and 45F to start. Perfect running weather! My goal was 12 miles-ish and keep the pace down below 9:45. This was not hard to do as I was feeling slow. I concentrated on good Chi form while enjoying the sites over in the baylands. (Morning is a great time to watch the birds) and felt great until about mile 9..then it became harder as the muscles in my upper legs and glutes/hips let me know they were tired after this week. I stopped the clock at 12 miles even though I was a mile from home and walked the rest of the way to relax things...and that helped a lot.

Summary for the week:

Date  Miles    Pace      BPM  WHR%   Cad Elev+ Elev-    YPB
2013-01-22 Tue 6.6 10:01 126.9 66.31 84.3 238.0 239.4 1.436
2013-01-23 Wed 4.8 10:13 112.6 54.62 84.4 37.1 37.3 1.550
2013-01-24 Thu 7.6 9:33 122.6 62.77 85.5 33.5 33.2 1.502
2013-01-26 Sat 4.1 10:06 114.7 56.32 84.5 19.5 19.9 1.559
2013-01-27 Sun 12.0 9:54 116.2 57.56 84.7 58.0 58.6 1.524
Summary 35.2 9:55 118.9 59.76 84.8 386.1 388.4 1.510


Body niggles status: the trigger points on my left calf are now almost only a memory. Nothing much there to roller or massage. The heel soreness doesn't seem to be anything that is progressing.  Mostly I feel just plan sore all over ...in a good way.

For week 14 I will reduce mileage to 30 (run only 4 days), do some stationary biking one day and strength training...i.e. a step-back week. I'm doing well vs my previous buildups (more data on that in another post) and so best to not over-do. In the last 90 days I have run 227 miles and in the last 30 days, 140 miles (!) I have been pushing my luck ramping up so fast but so far so good 8)

Here's some smoothed graphs of my mileage buildup..scary but I'm surviving! From now own it should be much more gradual...I'll  be hitting 45-50 miles/week at the peak if all goes well.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

15 Weeks to Tacoma

Week 16 done

You should be happy every day you run or race for _whatever_ you can do."  -Meb K.

I heard Meb say this in Eugene. Can I say that Meb is such an opposite to Lance? Here's this guy that escaped from a horrible situation, came to the USA and then ran his heart out for himself  with the support of amazing parents and siblings. My hat is off to Meb K. and my hat is firmly staying on my head for Mr Armstrong. 

I am so happy to be feeling so good in my running.  Things are going very well and if I could give my body some kudos (besides massages and hot tub soaks) I would do it 8). 

When I get injured (e.g. calf strain mystery) I'm not the kind of person that things "stoopid calfs..why are you doing this to me?"  I am, after all, an engineer and so I think "What is causing this? How can I prevent this? What am I missing?".  Many overuse problems have a solution..not all, but many.

So far I have dodged the flu. It's been quite bad in the USA. 

I have been noodling about what to do for training and decided that I'm (loosely) following the 3 key runs of RLRF (Run Less Run Faster), for the 3:55 goal, but I'm still doing 5 runs per week (not 3). I plan to do more marathon pace running than RLRF lets you do as well as more base running in general.

Unlike my previous build-ups, I'm doing weekend "sandwich runs"..which I LOVE:  I run Tue-Wed-Thur and Sat-Sun is bookended by two rest days on Mon-Fri. I felt that doing 4 runs in a row during the week was too much hard running in a row, and that the long run Sunday with rest before and after was too easy.

I think that being able to do 8-10 miles of MP running on Saturday, and then 20 Miles at MP - 15s or so on Sunday is great as the last long run and I intend to do that on this cycle if I am able. (Obviously having both rest days during the week is also easier schedule-wise for work too ).

Midweek, I'll be doing Intervals, Hills , Tempo and Base runs.

Even though I ramped up quickly to running 34-35 miles/week for the last two weeks, I felt pretty good after the Monday off and decided to do some 1/2 mile intervals at 7:15 -ish pace. RLRF calls for 3x1mile I think but I knew I was not ready for that so just the 1/2 mile. They were not easy but it was fun:

2013-01-15 Tue
SplitTimeMiles    Pace    HR  CadElev+Elev-YPB

tough run but happy with the results. You can think of this as "Yasso 800s" if you want, although Yassos would only have to be done at 3:55 per 800, which is 7:50 pace. RLRF has you doing 800s quite a bit faster. (And Jill had me doing stuff faster than Yasso pace too).

The next day, a simple base run

2013-01-16 Wed

A bit stiff from the previous day..

Finally a short tempo run..ie gradually speeding up, hitting one mile at 10k pace and then easing off. Gradually I will make the fast portion longer.

2013-01-17 Thu
SplitTime Miles  Pace     HR  CadElev+Elev-   YPB

Friday a rest day..felt really good as the day went on..going to bed I was eager for Saturday mornings 8 miles with 4 miles at MP...could not wait! That eagerness I have learned, is a good sign that my body is happy happy, so go for it:

2013-01-19 Sat
SplitTime Miles  Pace     HR  CadElev+Elev-   YPB

Yes, those 8:4x paces are faster than a 3:55 marathon (8:58 pace) but remember there is gps noise and not running tangents so training for a faster pace on the Garmin is a fact of life.  

The Chi hip rotation to lengthen out the stride is working well. It seems like free energy. In fact if you look at the YPBs above you'll see that dropping back to a 10:00 pace my efficiency dropped quite a bit..but not enough data yet to really be sure...

Sunday was my first 11 mile run in a long time. I'm running with my friend Jeff which I also haven't done in a while. Jeff is one of the few people I will run with..usually running with others and the paces are too darn fast. Jeff is my age but way faster than me (although he doesn't race) however he is very careful to not push me along faster than I want to go. A real great running partner.

I was going to do 12, but I was so beat after the previous days  marathon pace running that I decided to quit early. Won't bore you with the table of that run...but it was tough! That's also kind of the point of "sandwich runs" 8}, running your long run on already-tired-legs gets you ready for holding pace during the last 6 miles.

Week wrap up:

Date Miles Pace BPM WHR% Cad Elev+ Elev- YPB
2013-01-15 Tue 5.2 9:07 135.8 73.60 87.0 20.6 19.1 1.426
2013-01-16 Wed 5.2 9:42 125.1 64.86 85.1 20.8 29.0 1.473
2013-01-17 Thu 5.3 9:26 126.3 65.78 87.1 37.9 36.9 1.479
2013-01-19 Sat 8.0 9:21 129.8 68.69 86.0 89.4 87.8 1.498
2013-01-20 Sun 11.2 10:03 122.1 62.40 85.0 58.5 58.6 1.444
Summary35.0 9:36 126.8 66.26 85.9 227.1 231.3 1.464

Week 15: Tentative plan to up the total miles by 2, do some 800 hill sprints, a longer tempo, same MP run and a 14 mile long run. 

Friday, January 18, 2013


We all develop various habits when we do things...including running, no?

I discovered a long long time ago I really don't like to stretch until I'm warmed up. And yes, I _do_ believe in certain kinds of active stretching and really need to do it. I've tried both ways..and found that when I don't stretch eventually bad things happen. 

So, I tend to head to my favorite stretching place.

It's a bike and pedestrian bridge over a creek. The posts are perfect for putting a leg up on, the white fence pipe is good for quad stretches (at my age there is NO way I can grab my foot and pull it up behind without help). The concrete wall can be stood upon and my heels raise-lowerings done.

So at the start of almost every single run I go here after an easy .3 miles. I do my stretches, take a swig of water and eat a clif block or two if I'm really hungry (I never eat breakfast before I run).  I look around at the local birds and see what they are up to and think about what I'd like to do on my run vs what my body says (or what I *think* it is saying) it can do.

When school is in session there is a stream of kids, the young ones with parents, the older ones with friends making their way to school nearby on scooters, skateboards and bikes. Sometimes they are late, and the parents are scolding them along at a trot ;)

In all the runs I've done in the last 5 years from my house, probably all but a handful started this way.

It's was cold all last week when this photo was taken..just about 34F at the time, but at least a crisp bright CA sun! Any temps above freezing and I'm taking off my jacket after a mile or so....too hot and sweating!  I do keep my gloves on though.

For a hat it's just my usual cap..I don't seem to need any ear coverage. Keep in mind however that there is NO WIND here on these cold mornings...that makes it a lot easier.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Tacoma Marathon course

Whenever I run a marathon, and ESPECIALLY a peaked race I like to get my head around the course well in advance. In fact, my wife will ask me why I haven't put up latest race map on my little "running wall" if she doesn't see it.

I have been to Tacoma and even driven across the Tacoma Narrows bridge, but it was years ago. 

Those of us that were not snoozing in high school physics remember the movie of the first version of the bridge and it's horrible aeroelastic flutter problem. Here's a youtube video made from the 16mm movies taken in 1950:

Luckily the new bridge does not seem to have any problems.....so far 8)

Besides the usual aid station cups, Tacoma is offering a new kind of aid station technology... the "Hydra pouch".....take a look at the description and videos of the use here.  

If more marathons would switch to this it would be really great: Save a lot of  labor filling, handing out, and cleaning up cups (and the cups can be very slippery especially when they use the plastic ones!)  The pouch lets you drink your water easier after hitting the station, and let you come in and get a slug of water without fuss. 

Normally I would not try anything new in a race, but this is such a good idea I think I will get one and try it out in this race..I can always go for the cups if it's not working out.

Below  is the Tacoma course and elevation profile.  It's right on Puget sound so hopefully the temps will be cool (historically they generally are). 

The elevation profile looks worse than it is: the bridge deck is not shown in the database properly, it's at 187'. There is a bit of a climb after the bridge..it's about 180' over a mile (3% grade). Then there's some nice rolling downhills. There is a bit of a slight uphill in the last mile.

I'm guessing this is probably about the same as Eugene. Eugene had 500' of up down and it had endless rollers in the last few miles, which really sucked. (I like rollers earlier, as long as they are NET DOWN like CIM..I always want the last 4-6 miles flat).

Tacoma has a bigger uphill but a true net downhill which Eugene did not...but it does have that 1% climb in the last mile, which I'm sure I'll feel even if it is hard to see.

Tacoma is a point-to-point course, which I do like best of all. It's the coolest feeling to really feel like you are going from A to B, not just mucking about and ending up where you started. Tacoma does have some 'hairpins', which are small out-and-back stubs along the course to make the distance work out. That's too bad....again advantage CIM here it has NONE of that crap.  

In general, the straighter the course the easier it is to run tangents and the faster you will be, IMHO.

Right now I'm guessing CIM, Tacoma, Eugene as my course preferences for speed, but Tacoma could be worse...we'll see! Some poking around in google streetview will give me a better idea of the hills.
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