Monday, January 29, 2007

19 weeks and counting...

Seems strange to think that Eagleman is only 19 weeks away. Plenty of time left, but something about getting inside that 20 week range seems to bring it closer to mind. So what's coming up for me?

In March, I plan to get a few road races in: the MJH 8K and the Charlottesville 10 Miler. I'l probably go pretty hard in the 8K, but at this point I'm looking at the 10 Miler as more of a chance to practice race strategy and control race-day nerves than to blast a fast time.

The Charlottesville 10 Miler was a fixture on my race calendar for many years. It's the biggest local race we have, with over 2000 competitors last year, but just haven't been able to get it together for some years now -- either out of shape, or hurt. No way I'm going to match my PR (1:13:01) -- that was about 10 years ago!

In April, I've got the Kinetic Sprint Triathlon. Haven't done this before, but based on the Giant Acorn Tri last October it should be fun. The roads in that part of Virginia are pretty flat, and it has a fairly long bike leg for a sprint -- 18 miles. With a 750 M swim, 18 mile bike, and a 5K run, it should be a good test for my fitness.

The Kinetic Sprint is 7 weeks out from Eagleman, and I don't have anything planned beyond that. I often read advice that you should do an Olympic distance tri before taking on the 1/2-IM, but I'm not too concerned about it. I've done 8 marathons, so the time factor isn't an issue -- I know what a long day on the road feels like.

At any rate, barring injury or fitness I'm totally confident that my preparation will be solid. Getting individual coaching has been a good choice for me -- I'm further along now than I ever imagined I would be.


You can see my training for yourself -- check out my log.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In praise of the cotton tee

A hint of winter has finally rolled into the Mid-Atlantic, as the mercury dropped into the low 20s last night. Since I needed to hit the gym to catch up on my lifting, I decided to combine my morning's run and the lifting into one trip, and avoid running in the cold, dark morning -- hey, I'm only human!

Coach Debi has me in the middle of a tough week, so at 5:30 AM I toed the line at the indoor track at ACAC and started running laps. 12 laps equals a mile on the square, 2-lane track. Round and round, checking out the early morning pickup basketball game below me, the spin class above me, and the squadron of cardio machines to the side.

Most of my gym companions this morning were dressed in their nicest gym togs -- a variety of sporty outfits made from high-performance wicking fabrics that keep you dry, cool, and comfortable. I've got some nice gear like that -- and they really work -- but today I was old school all the way, with a pair of faded v-notch running shorts and a veteran cotton t-shirt from a local 5-K.

There's something about a cotton tee that endears itself to me. When you're running inside you don't have to worry about your sweat chilling you, so it's almost pleasant to feel the dampness of the shirt grow as you put in the miles. The shirt sticks to you, and the wind caused by your running evaporates the sweat and cools you.

Finally I'm done. 80 laps, about 6.7 miles at a 9 minute/mile pace. And with my old t-shirt hanging damply from my shoulders and smelling faintly of ammonia, I look like I've run for an hour. It's my personal red badge of courage.

A good start to the day. Now on to the weights.


Keep track of my progress at my training log.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Reliable training partner

I do most of my training alone. It suits me -- I can do my own pace, make my own decisions, choose my own routes and routines. But sometimes a little company is nice. Fortunately, I've always got a running buddy who's ready to hit the road with me.

The American Kennel Club description of the Labrador Retriever starts: " The Labrador Retriever is a strongly built, medium-sized, short-coupled, dog possessing a sound, athletic, well-balanced conformation that enables it to function as a retrieving gun dog; the substance and soundness to hunt waterfowl or upland game for long hours under difficult conditions; the character and quality to win in the show ring; and the temperament to be a family companion." They should have added "running buddy" to the list.

Our lab, Ginger, is 6 years old now, going on 7 in June. She's a perceptive and smart dog, who learned long ago that when I got the running shoes out of the closet it meant she might get to go for a run. Whatever her faults may be, she's an hardy and compliant runner. I clip her lead on, and she heels perfectly, matching my pace as she trots beside me.

Neither weather or time of day bothers her -- she's ready to go at the drop of a hat. She's durable as well, never had an injury or problems with heat. Of course I keep things reasonable. She doesn't usually get to go more than 3 miles, which seems to suit her just fine.

Ginger's like any athlete -- she can get out of training as well. When I couldn't run because of my knee surgery I often caught her casting a quizzical glance in my direction, wondering when she would get a chance to go running. And the time off got her a bit out of shape.

We're both coming back strong now.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Guilt-free indulgence

The unseasonably warm winter we've had so far has kept me off the ski slopes (maybe a good thing for my knee), but has kept me on the roads. Coach Debi topped off my Biggest Week Ever (more on that in moment) with a 2-hour bike ride on Sunday. Staying true to my early morning preferences, I got out on the road at 8 AM, for two loops around a favorite 16.25-mile circuit.

It may seem a bit boring to ride the same loop twice, but I like to do it on occassion. It makes a good game -- ride steady and smooth the first time, then try to kick it up a notch on the second circuit. Well, I couldn't do it this time -- both circuits came in right at 59 minutes, a 16.5 avg. Pretty good speed in my book, since there are three serious climbs on each circuit that really drag the average speed down.

Chilled and tired, I met the family at The Tavern, a Charlottesville institution. It's the greasiest of greasy spoons, where hash-browns are as close as you can get to a vegetable. Giving in totally to temptation, I pigged out on 3 pecan pancakes, a side order of grits, one egg sunnyside up, a side of link sausage, and lots of coffee.


As to the Biggest Week Ever, I ended up the week with over 10 hours of training: 12.15 miles of running, 75 miles biking, 6500 yards in the pool, and one hour of weight training. Best of all, I'm feeling good and having fun while I do it!


See for yourself, check out my training log.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What it takes

Some days you have it, and some days you don't. But the days you don't are still worth it.

It was cold this morning. Just cold enough that I didn't make the right gear choices. In the dark pre-dawn, I slipped on my lycra tights, capilene top, windvest, polypro hat, gloves, and my headlamp for a one-hour run. I stepped outside.


No worries, I'll warm up.

One hour later, I still hadn't. Probably one of the most uncomfortable runs I've had in quite a while. My loop course took me only a short job past my house three times, and every time was a temptation to pack it in and come back later. But I didn't, and I'm happy for it.

I know the times will come when I'm going to want to pack it in early. Stop. Quit. Be normal and sleep in later than 5:30 AM. But as they say, "Habit is the best of servants, and the worst of masters." Toughing it out on this cold morning might make it a little easier next time I need to dig down deep.


Check out my training log.