Thursday, September 27, 2007

Smoked at 4AM

I was enjoying a moonlight run early this morning when all of a sudden I heard footsteps behind me. I looked over to the side and a woman was blowing past me running on the street. She completely smoked me! She was running at least 30 seconds a mile faster than me.

She lives out near the Dow nature area and runs from there into my neighborhood and back. She's been running for years but she never races. I've only known here as the "4AM woman". Our paths used to cross quite a bit, but lately I've only been seeing here occasionally near the end of my runs in a pretty dark area. I've tried a few times to talk her into running some of the local races. I'm sure she'd be taking home hardware.

I had a pretty decent day yesterday. The schedule had a 14 mile medium long run but that's impossible for me on a workday. I ran 7¼ in the morning at about 7:27 pace and 8 miles on the track in the evening at about 6:55 pace. I was pretty happy with these runs because we've had some more humid air (and mosquitos) recently.

We're supposed to have drier air coming in to the coast this weekend, but it's still not predicted to go below 70°F. The long range forecast does show a real cold front coming in the 8th of October. I'm ready.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Failed My First Tempo Run

Today was my first intense workout for Houston Marathon training:
10 miles with 4 miles at Lactate Threshold pace

My LT pace should be about 6:05 to 6:20. LT pace is usually estimated based on 10-mile race pace. I'd planned on running my 4¾ mile Dow course twice and then a ½ mile cooldown for 10 miles total. I was going to start out at about 7:30 pace and then run LT pace on the two Dow- miles going out, take a ¾ mile breather and go back to LT pace for the Dow- two miles on the return. But I didn't get onto the street until 0351 and with garbage day on Tuesday, I decided to cut it down to a Dow 4¾ mile warmup at near 7:00 pace, then 4 straight LT-pace miles on the Dow- out and back and finally a ½ mile cooldown. I figured I could finish that 9¼ mile run and make it back in time to get the garbage out, make my lunch, take a shower, and leave for work by 0535.

I had no problem running 7 mpm for the first 4¾ miles, but after the first half mile at LT pace I started to slow. I finished the first two LT miles at 13:11 and slowed all the way down to 13:41 on the return. I was pushing pretty hard, but I just couldn't get back to anything near a 6:20 pace. It was pretty warm this morning, 80.7°F average from 4AM to 5AM with the dewpoint in the mid 70s. There was a little rain on the last mile, but not enough to really cool me down. I know I can't run as well with temperatures that warm. My effort should have been good enough for LT pace, but I don't know whether you actually reach LT when you're forced to run slower on warm days.

My next LT run isn't until the 9th of October. I'm hoping we'll have some real cool air down here by then.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Houston Marathon Training: Week 2 of 18

Days since last run less than 70°F: 150 (April 27th)
I can't complain too much about the weather. We had more cool and drier air with the temperature and dewpoints closer to 70°F again this week. Running in air with a dewpoint of 70°F feels so much better than when the dewpoint is near 80°F.

69 miles for the week

M – 5¾ miles recovery run, average pace 8:32 mpm, 75°F at 4AM [Dow/B-S]
Tu – 8 miles general aerobic fairly hard, average pace 6:50 mpm, 79.9°F at 4AM a few clouds [2xDow-]
W AM - 6¾ miles general aerobic, average pace 7:35 mpm, 79°F at 4AM [S-B/Dow/B-S]
W PM – 7¼ miles general aerobic, average pace 6:57 mpm, 83°F at 7PM sun to stars [B’Wood track]
Th – 5¾ miles recovery run, average pace 8:22 mpm, 75°F at 4AM [Dow/B-S]
F - 11 miles general aerobic, average pace 7:28 mpm, 83°F at 9:30AM, sun with a beautiful blue sky [SeaC/NTrail-2x2M/SeaC]
Sa – 6½ miles recovery run, average pace 8:15 mpm, 90°F at 4:30PM, sun [Houston MemDrive Trail]
Su – 18 miles Long Run, 7:25 mpm pretty steady pace the whole way, clear blue sky and a little drier air, 85°F to 86°F starting at 10:40AM with the dewpoint near 70°F [SeaC/NTrail-2x2M/SeaC//SeaC/NTrail/SeaC]

I stayed pretty close to the Pfitz 18/70+ schedule again this week. I had to split Wednesdays 13 mile Medium Long Run into a morning run and an evening run, but I was pretty happy with the pace. I didn't start Sunday's long run until 10:40 and it was heating up quickly under a blazing sun. I started out pretty slow, worried the run would turn into an 18 mile death march. But the drier air really helped and I was able to pick up the pace through the run.

I wasn't able to get on a team for the HARRA Cross Country Relay Saturday. Instead I directed traffic just after the foot bridge near the bayou. That can be a confusing spot on the course because many runners tend to follow the paved path. I had a good time watching the race develop. The only bad part was I only got one small cup of St. Arnold's before the last keg floated.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why 2:50??

With apologies to JFK:

But why, some say, 2:50?
Why choose this as our goal?
And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain.
Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?
Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to run under 2:50. We choose to run under 2:50 at Houston '08 and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

And yes, the lowly Rice Owls
take on the goliath University of Texas this weekend.

JFK at Rice Stadium announcing the goal to go to the moon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another 8-Miler Tuesday

The Pfitz schedule has 8 miles general aerobic today. I got out of bed a little late, so I had to push the pace to keep from being too late to work. I have to leave before 5:30 to make it to work on time and with garbage day on Tuesday, it's not easy to squeeze in an 8-miler.
I got out onto the street this morning at 3:53 so I knew I'd have to run faster than 7 minute miles to make it to work on time. There was another nice morning sky with Sirius already visible below Orion. Just after I started running, a very bright meteor caught my attention and I had enough time to look up and see it burn out in the northwest sky.
It was a little warmer this morning, just barely under 80°F. I ran two Dow-s with 13:50 going out, 13:39 coming back, 13:40 going out the second time, and 13:31 coming back home. I thought I'd run pretty well until I figured I was only averaging 6:50 miles. Obviously I can't run a 2:50 marathon with the dewpoint well into the 70s and I wasn't trying to run MP, but I was a little disappointed to realize I was 20 seconds a mile slower than 2:50 pace.
Tuesday's run next week is 10 miles with 4 at LT. That should be fun. Last year, I wasn't able to hit LT pace before work in the dark. This year I want to concentrate more on these runs. I'm going to have to push it pretty hard to make it to work on time.
The schedule has a 13 mile medium long run tomorrow. I'll split that one into a morning and evening run. I know two shorter runs won't give the same training benefit as a 13-miler, but I just can't wake up early enough to get 13 miles in before work.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Week 1 of 18 Training for Houston '08

Days since last run less than 70°F: 143 (April 27th)
Hurricane Humberto brought in some cooler and drier air with the temperature and dewpoints closer to 70°F this week. I finished my recovery run this morning and still had some dry spots on the front corners of my shorts!

65¾ miles for the week

M – 4¾ miles recovery run, average pace 8:32 mpm, 81°F at 4AM [Dow]
Tu – 8 miles general aerobic fairly hard, average pace 7:05 mpm, 79°F at 4AM mostly cloudy [2xDow-]
W – 12 miles medium long run, average pace 7:40 mpm, 78°F at 4PM steady rain from the outer bands of Hurricane Humberto (then a Tropical Storm) [SeaC/NTrail-2x2M+1M/SeaC]
Th – 7 miles recovery run, average pace 8:51 mpm, clear 75°F at 7AM [SeaC/NTrail/SeaC]
F - 10 miles general aerobic fairly hard for the temperature, average pace 7:42 mpm, 90°F at 12:30PM, sun with occasional clouds [SeaC/NTrail-2M1M/SeaC]
Sa – 7 miles recovery run, average pace 8:20 mpm, 88°F at 12:30PM, sun [SeaC/NTrail/SeaC]
Su – 17 miles Long Run, 7:25 mpm pretty steady pace the whole way, clear blue sky and a little drier air, 78°F to 81°F starting at 8AM with the dewpoint near 70°F [SeaC/NTrail-2M1M/SeaC//SeaC/NTrail/SeaC]

I stayed fairly close to the Pfitz 18/70+ schedule this week. The Thursday and Saturday recovery runs were a mile long just because I enjoy running the whole trail. It must be getting close to hunting season. I ran into a male white-tailed deer with an enormous set of antlers during each of the runs down the trail this week. I think he likes to stay in the city park while the hunters are out.

The HARRA Cross Country Relay is this Saturday. My wife's been talking about going to San Antonio this weekend, but I'm hoping I can convince her I need to run this race. I think my recent slow times have bumped me from the main Tornados team, but I might be able to make it on one of the lower level teams.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Waiting for the First Cold Front

Days since last run less than 70°F: 136 (April 27th)
Yes, I'd really like to run in "cool dry" air with the temperature and dewpoint less than 70°F!

53½ miles for the week
M – 7, average pace 8:51 mpm, cloudy 88°F at noon with thunderstorms to the north [SeaC/NTrail/SeaC]
Tu – 0 (rest), 77°F at 4AM
W AM – 5¾ miles, average pace 7:34 mpm, 87°F at 4AM mostly cloudy [Dow/B-S]
W PM – 5 miles, with the three middle miles at goal MP, average pace 6:50 mpm, middle miles in 6:30, 6:30, and 6:26, 88°F at 7PM with late sun [B’Wood Track]
Th – 4¾ miles, average pace 8:26 mpm, recovery run, 86°F at 4AM [Dow]
F - 9 miles, average pace 8:15 mpm, 89°F at 9AM, sun with occasional light rain but there were no clouds to the east where the sun kept shining which led to a complete bonk and heat exhaustion after starting out running 7:10 mpm [SeaC/NTrail-2M/SeaC]
Sa – 7, average pace 7:46 mpm, I ran down to the trail and passed out water during the local relay-triathlon, clear 84°F at 6AM [SeaC/NTrail/SeaC]
Su – 15, average pace 7:45 mpm, slowly increased the pace throughout the run, the SeaCenter portion was 15:54 going out and 15:14 coming back home, 86°F to 88°F starting after 8AM [SeaC/NTrail-4x2M/SeaC]

Friday's run was pretty scary. I started out at 7:10 pace and felt pretty good, but the heat hit me hard. It was still pretty early in the morning but the sun was strong and there were some stationary clouds directly overhead dropping light rain but producing no wind. I struggled to make it home and had pretty bad symptoms of heat exhaustion.

The forecasters were predicting a "cold" front for Tuesday, but now it looks as though the front will never make it to the coast. Chances are better for another front Sunday or Monday. The first front usually arrives down here in the second or third week of September. This week starts the 18-week training plan for Houston '08, so it'd be really nice to have some decent training weather.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

New Shoes

My new shoes finally arrived. With over 840 miles on my old DS Trainers, I really needed a new pair. These are Adidas Rotterdam IVs that I picked up cheap (I think they've been discontinued). I took them out on the track Wednesday evening and I think they're going to work for me. I like the minimal Clima-Cool uppers, they seem well suited for this hot weather. My size 13s weigh considerably less than the DS Trainers: 10 5/8 ounces versus 12 7/8 for the old DSTs.

Of course with the new shoes I had to do a few fast miles. I ran 3 miles GMP with a mile warmup and cooldown. The middle miles were 6:30, 6:30, and 6:26. There was still some sun and it was 88 degrees with the dewpoint in the upper 70s. The weather forecasters are promising a "cold" front Tuesday, but I haven't seen a forecast for anything lower than 70. But 70 degrees would feel pretty cool!

Here are the old DS Trainers

March 28, 2007 to September 5, 2007
846 miles

Monday, September 3, 2007

Quit Whining and Do Your Best with what You Have

Days since last run less than 70°F: 129 (April 27th)

41¾ miles for the week
M – 0 (rest), 79.8°F at 4AM
Tu – 4¾ miles, average pace 7:45 mpm, the ankle is still feeling OK, 79°F at 4AM with a Lunar Eclipse distant lightning and Orion [Dow]
W – 5 miles, shaking out the cobwebs during the three middle miles, average pace 7:11 mpm, middle miles in 7:06, 6:56, and 6:42, 79.7°F at 7PM and mostly cloudy [B’Wood Track]
Th – 5 miles, average pace 8:09 mpm, recovery run with a fast mile stuck on at the end...I was coming up to my house and saw another runner turn down the street in front of my house, so I had to keep going and pass them. After I passed them I realized I had to go around the neighborhood again for another mile, 77°F at 4AM [Dow-/B-S]
F - 7 miles, average pace 7:30 mpm, 89°F at 12:30PM, sun and some shade from the clouds [SeaC/NTrail/SeaC]
Sa – 7, average pace 8:44 mpm, sunny 85°F at 3:40PM [SeaC/NTrail/SeaC]
Su – 13, average pace 7:29 mpm, nice even pace, slightly negative, the SeaCenter portion was 15:28 going out and 15:13 coming back home, 76°F to 77°F starting at 7AM [SeaC/NTrail-3x2M/SeaC]

I was really happy with Sunday's medium long run. I've been doing a lot of whining about it being too hot, and about not being able to finish my Sunday long runs. But it was too hot because I wasn't starting until after 11. Finally I got my whiny butt out of the house earlier and I had a much more productive run. I was still soaked in sweat, but my shoes didn't go soggy until the 10th mile. It was the upper 70s and my glasses kept fogging over, but that's much nicer than the upper 80s or low 90s.

I was motivated by Houston's Melissa Henderson. She ran the IAAF World Championship marathon in Osaka, representing her native Belize. I followed the race on the web, and she really struggled through the race. The temperature was 77°F with a dewpoint of 73°F at the 7AM start and rose to 88°F with a dewpoint of 75°F at 11AM. Melissa struggled through cramps and finished. I've been reading her blog and was surprised how positive she was about the race. I think that positive attitude is what I need to emulate. She's a real fighter.

Picture from:

Short video