Wednesday, December 21, 2011

13.8 miles today, feeling like garbage. HR was high, speed was low, legs were tired, but my knee held out fine.

Another long run tomorrow, but at a HR of just 145 bpm or so.


How much for a 3,200 square foot Victorian home dating from 1910 in Detroit, you ask?

97 Delaware St, Detroit, MI 48202
Try $7,900.  That's about how much my last tri-bike cost.

Today's song, by M83:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Good News and Hopefully Minor Bad News

Starting with the good news, I am feeling stronger than ever on long runs. I used to begin feeling a bit of fatigue about an hour into a run, but now that's more like 1:30 into a run. 14-15 miles isn't too tough. That bodes well for future marathon success, as I've always had pretty extreme positive splits (yeah, yeah, I know other factors are involved...ahem*pacing*ahem). Hopefully by the time I run another marathon I can feel strong through 20 mile training runs. I'm also feeling strong running several days in a row, and the "dead legs" feeling is only there the day after a fast run or really long run. So muscular endurance or whatever it may be called seems improved.

The other good news is I have all but forgotten about my Achilles tendinitis. It's been completely unnoticeable, except this weekend when I banged my heel while an Ikea bed for the guest bedroom. It'll always be in my mind, but the injury seems behind me.

The bad news is that I had to cut short a long run this weekend because my knee really hurt. I was about 14 miles into a 16-18 mile run when the pain became too much to keep running, and I had to walk it on home. Now, I'm pretty sure this pain is just muscular. The pain doesn't come from the joint itself, but from my quad just above the knee. Perhaps its from too much volume/intensity/hills over the past few days. Maybe 4 long runs in 8 days, none of which were particularly easy, was too much. Maybe I didn't allow enough recovery after Friday's 1:30 jot along hilly Magnolia. Even on a snowshoe Sunday I was really happy to be done because my knee was aching on the descent home.

The good news, however, is that today's easy test jog went fine. I made it 40 minutes with only a little odd feeling in the knee. Tomorrow I will try an hour easy in the AM and another hour easy in the PM without ever getting too far from home in case the pain returns.

A takeaway is to keep an eye on my intensity. I did too many runs at a steady pace and not enough easy running.


Snowshoe photos:
Tebowing on St. Mary's Glacier

Ozzy loved the glacier. He ran back and forth and back and forth the whole way up.

The lake at the base of the glacier. 

2011 in music:
Great albums: (in no particular order)
Yuck by Yuck
Bon Iver by Bon Iver
Wild Flag by Wild Flag
Father, Song, Holy Ghost by Girls

Honorable mention:
James Blake by James Blake

More time needed because I bought it yesterday:
Days by Real Estate

There were also several albums that received loads of critical acclaim that I'm not thrilled with (see, Tune Yards, Fleet Foxes), albums by bands that previously released amazing records but this year only released okay albums (here's looking at you Radiohead, Panda Bear), albums that I want to buy and expect to be really solid but haven't heard in full yet (burning ears for King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, The Black Keys), and finally albums by new bands that have gotten great reviews but have previously slipped under my radar (por ejemplo, Wye Oak, Civil Wars).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

65 miles is a lot

This week I've been wearing my Garmin every run to get an accurate count of my typical weekly mileage. It's not that the actual number of miles I run is all that important, but I want to make a push for a big week next week and counting my miles this week will give me some basis for comparison.

Saturday I managed 16.5 miles in about 1:55, averaging 7:10/mile at 155 bpm. (Side note: I'm curious to see how much faster that'll be once the snow/ice on the path melts.) That run thrashed my legs enough that Sunday became a 4.5 mile jog (~8:00/mile). Monday was just an easy/steady aerobic run: 10.5 miles at 7:30/mile (hovering around 145 bpm). Today I planned on some harder running, but my legs still aren't fully recovered from Saturday.  Instead, today becomes an off day where I just go for an evening walk.

Halfway through a decent week, and I'm only at 31.5 miles.  65 miles will be a reasonable weekly mileage, but it sure feels like a lot of running. I think my legs will require a steady build-up to higher mileage, or I need to keep my long runs to 145-150 bpm, max. At any rate, my build up to high mileage weeks will be slow. I might hit 80 next week as a one week high mileage experiment keeping the effort low.

While I haven't trained with much structure over the past few months, I plan on reading Jack Daniel's Running Formula (for the second or third time) over the next two weeks to begin planning my training a little more formally. I've also got Lore of Running, but that book is so intimidating that I've barely peaked through its pages.

I was reading Running Times the other day and noticed that the 2012 US Snowshoe National Championship takes place in Frisco in February. The qualification standards look pretty lax, so maybe I'll jump in a race and see if I can hit the standard. Hmm...

Tebow!?!? Two weeks ago I became a fan. This week didn't disappoint, either. I'm afraid Brady, et al. will be too much this coming Sunday.

The best thing about the end of the year are all the "Best Album" lists. I'm mentally planning my own list, but right now only a few artists come to mind. In the meantime, here's a new-to-me track that I really like:

For some reason, all the records I've bought lately are instrumental. First Explosions in the Sky, then Godspeed! You Black Emporer, and recently Mogwai. Is "good background music" a compliment?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tempo Run

1.5 mile warm-up, 3.5 miles tempo (165-170 bpm, or somewhere around marathon pace I'd guess), 1 mile easy, 3 miles tempo, 1 mile easy, almost entirely on a slick, 1inch thick hard pressed sheet of snow.

miles 1-5 slightly downhill
mile 1 - 7:12 at 141 bpm
mile 2 - 5:49 at 157 bpm
mile 3 - 6:01 at 165 bpm
mile 4 - 6:12 at 165 bpm
mile 5 - 6:05 at 169 bpm

back uphill
mile 6 - 8:15 (jog)
mile 7 - 6:43 at 164 bpm
mile 8 - 6:35 at 168 bpm
mile 9 - 6:45 at 170 bpm
mile 10 - 8:29 (jog)

those uphill miles were a killer with no traction. i just tried to keep my feet turning over as fast as possible.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Running update: All is going well. I continue to work on running consistently, doing one or two 1:30+ runs per week, and adding a bit of faster running when I feel the urge. I spend a lot of time running 7:00-7:30/mile, which is pretty easy, and for the moment very little time running anything near race pace. Maybe I'll try a treadmill speed workout tomorrow, though, and do some efforts building from 6:00/mile until it gets hard (an optimistic 5:30/mile).

I'm considering a June marathon as my next "A" race, and then using my fitness from the marathon to try an ultra just for fun (to the extent that 6+ hours of running can be considered fun).

Snowshoes: First, thanks to Ralph and Pat for the early Christmas gift. The Front Range got smothered with snow this weekend, so Stacey and I took our shoes and headed as far into the mountains as we felt our vehicle was capable of safely traveling (read: not all that far).  Snowshoeing was pretty fun, and I hope to add it to my winter cross training routine.

(Stacey: You look high in this picture, like you're a snowboarder or something.)

Too much snow is coming down to see very far.

Ozzy: Hey guys, hurry up.

Football: Michigan is into a BCS game! That's a long climb from the Rich-Rod era.

Muzak: After listening to this Girl talk song, here's my new getting ready to run song:

That's the gratuitous length live version, and I'm shocked that so many Germans were going crazy for this song in 1995.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another track run

Running is going well. I'm up to a cycle of 4 to 5 days running followed by 1 day off (on which I usually walk around the neighborhood with Stacey and Ozzy for an hour or so). My long run is 1:45 to 1:50 most weeks, though sometimes I'll do 2 hours as 1 hour in the AM and 1 hour in the PM. Total mileage per week is likely in the 65-70 mile range, although there's some uncertainty because I do a lot of "by feel" runs where I don't know my exact mileage. Today was an off day and I rode my bike for the first time in almost 2 months. Keeping up with Stacey required working, and my legs feel it!

I've got some cool pictures of recent trail runs, including great shots of St. Mary's Glacier during an aborted attempt at running up James Peak. But, my desktop memory card slot isn't working and I don't feel like pulling out the laptop.  As a result, this will be a boring text only post. I am hitting the mountain trails as much as possible, usually once a weekend. My favorite route at the moment is Rawhide Trail at White Ranch.

Yesterday's run was another track workout of mile repeats. My mile repeat strategy is to run the first mile fast but not hard, and then to hold that pace the next 4 miles with 400m easy between miles. This week I ran the first mile in 5:47 with a max HR of 163 bpm, and then I cut 1 second off each mile until I ran 5:42 for the final mile. By mile 5 my HR is into the low 170s, and my PE has increased from 6 during the first mile to 8-9 for the final mile. Still, ~5:45/mile pace at altitude is pretty fast for me, so I'm happy with my progress.

Pretty boring post, but it's been a while.

Here's one of my favorite recent songs:

I like the Bon Iver style auto tune.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Track Workout Killed My Legs

Running is coming along great. I'm able to run 4 or 5 days consecutively without too much fatigue, and I'm beginning to do super easy jogs for recovery instead of days totally off. I don't do much running at a higher intensity that a Half Ironman run pace (about a HR of 170 bpm), but I try to mix things up as much as possible instead of doing the same runs day after day. I'm up to around 60-65 miles a week and continue to climb in volume.

Friday was a great hour or so run on Rawhide Trail in White Ranch. It's one of my favorite local trails because it's got a nice variation of up and down, as opposed to some trails that begin with 5 mile uphills and end with 5 miles downhill.

Saturday I wanted to get in a workout before watching the U of M vs. MSU football game, so I went to the local track for an hour session. The main set was 5 x 1 mile repeats getting progressively faster with a lap easy between each mile. My first mile was 6:00, and I went down to 5:40 by the last one. I never had to strain or work really hard, but I could feel some fatigue in my legs at the end. Morning total: 8.5 miles in 56 minutes, or 6:37/mile at 150 bpm average for the whole set. Despite the tired legs, I got in another 50 minutes in the evening, bringing the daily total to around 16 miles.

Today I planned a nice and easy 13-14 mile run with a detour through Civic Center Park to check out what the scene is like at Occupy in Denver. (Is it called Occupy Wall Street outside of NY?) Unfortunately, my legs had nothing, so I turned around after a few miles to recover for tomorrow. Total: 6 miles in 45 minutes, for 7:30/mile at an average HR of 136 bpm. My HR seems a bit depressed here...

While I still don't have any race plans set in stone, this video makes me want to do an Ultra trail run:

Then there's also this video, referenced in today's NY Times:

I don't think I'm crazy enough to do either an Ultra (at least the 100 mile variety) or that sort of mountaineering.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fall in Colorado - Photo Dump

Somehow I never made it to the high country last fall, my first in Denver. I'd heard the tree coloring is spectacular for two or three weeks at the end of September and beginning of October and didn't want to miss this year's short-lived golden foliage. 

Last weekend Stacey and I made it to a trail just outside of Central City for a run, and while the scenery was great, I forgot my camera. This weekend we made it back to the mountains, but this time to Rollinsville. After parking in town, we ran west toward Rollinsville Pass. 



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fast Day + Easy Day

Off, but maybe with a bike ride or cruiser bike ride. TBD.

About 50 minutes and just under 7 miles. Two miles easy, then 3 x 1 mile hard with about 1/4 mile recovery job between each effort, then a short jog home. The first two efforts were slightly uphill, while the third mile was slightly downhill. My mile times were 6:05, 5:50, and 5:45. PE was about an 8 for the first half of each mile, then a 9 toward the end. Those times are pretty slow give my effort. Oh well. I've got no race in sight so there's plenty of time to improve. Next time I should do this at the track for more repeatable data.

Four day total: 5 + 15 + 9 + 7 = 36 miles. With an off day, another long run, and a short-ish run, that'll put me right around 60 miles for the week. That's a good volume this month before building to 65 then 70 miles/week over the next two months.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Three Days

Dear Blogger, Please insert line breaks when I press the 'enter' key. Regards, Evan Friday Ran in the morning and only managed 40 minutes. It was an easy run because I couldn't get my legs feeling good. I included 6 or 8 short uphill sprints, and they did a surprisingly good job of stressing my legs. I hoped to run in the evening, too, but after taking Ozzy for a Frisbee session I didn't have time to squeeze a second run in before heading out for the evening. On a different note, if a Fred Sandback exhibit comes to your local modern art museum, I'd recommend passing. Saturday 15.5 miles in 1:50 or something like that. All I remember is 7:33/mile at 155 bpm (!). Don't know what was up with the extraordinarily high HR, but the run wasn't too tough. Followed that up with some furniture shopping, where I was successful in finding a pendant light. Sunday (today) An easy 9 miles. 7:45/mile at 140bpm. Tomorrow will be some actual fast running. Maybe 6 x 800 at 5:30 pace, unless that's too hard. ____________________________________________________________ Today's song is a tune from the new Girls album:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


In chronological order from Saturday to today:

Stacey and I drove out to Frisco for a trail run. We selected our route from a hiking book, which described the trail as moderately uphill for the first 2 miles and then steep for the next 2 miles. Well, the first 2 miles were not easy. The gradient and the altitude combined, perhaps along with some residual fatigue in my body, to make for a hard run. I ran a bit over 30 minutes (pretty much all steep uphill) before turning the run into a hike with Stacey. Hiking must work slightly different muscles than running or biking because I am always sore after a hike. Even this 2.5 hour jaunt fatigued me enough to effect Sunday's run.

My legs were dead at the start of this run from Saturday's jog/hike. I ended up doing 15.5 miles in 1:50. The first 11 miles were at just under 7:00/mile pace with a HR starting at 150 and building to the lower 160s. At times I was cruising at 6:20 pace without much effort (okay, so that was slightly downhill aided, but not much). After 11 miles, my PE was starting to climb to hold my pace, and I didn't want to dig too deep. I opted to jog home the last couple of miles. Once home, I had to relax a good hour before being much use for anything.

Off. I was exhausted after work and yesterday's run. I listened to my body's signals and rested to absorb my weekend's efforts.

10.5 miles in 1:15. 7:18/mile at 148 bpm. A nice and easy run. Harder than a jog, but very low perceived exertion. The only issue is that around 8 miles my legs begin to tire a bit. I think more running consistency and volume will solve that problem.

The issue with this workout is that it isn't hard, but it isn't easy. I may follow it up tomorrow some harder intervals, but if I feel tired I'll go very easy tomorrow and then hard on Thursday.

On a final note, after a successful month of 3 days on, 1 day off, I'm switching to 4 days on, 1 day off. The goal is to run 6 days a week within the next few months (no hard deadline), and then up my running frequency to 8 times per week with one day off.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

White Ranch + Guanella Pass

Getting into some higher elevation trails doesn't take much longer than just going to the foothills outside of Golden, so today I drove over to Georgetown, then a few miles up Guanella Pass. After driving up for around 15 minutes, I parked and began my run. A half hour of running uphill later, I reached the pass and descended on the road the down toward Grant. There are loads of trails near the pass' summit, but I forgot to charge my Garmin and didn't want to risk getting lost. Despite being above the tree line for a good portion of the run, I didn't notice the elevation much. Maybe it's because the gradient on the road is so much less than the gradients I've been encountering on trails.

While this was only an alright run (a trail would have been nicer) it would make for one of the best bike rides around. The climb out of Georgetown would be great, the pavement is perfect, and there is not much traffic. I may have to try to get out there again on the bike before it gets much colder.

Anyhow, 1:30 of running with about 1:00 of that being climbing. I feel great and time permitting will run another 1:45-2:00 tomorrow.

14ers all around.

No traffic, and then suddenly a parking lot's worth of cars near the summit.

A nice 30 minutes of uphill running on each side of the pass, much of it like this.

Yesterday I drove over to Golden to check out White Ranch. After a 2.5 mile climb up Belcher Hill (Hill?!?), I turned onto Mustang Trail. There were a few flats, but then lots more climbing. I'm getting a bit better at trail running, but it's hard not to shoot my HR way up if I push at all going uphill.

I ended up going 1:45 with about 1:30 of that running and the rest hiking. In that time I manage just over 10 miles with about 2,500 feet of climbing. I have no idea how anyone can do the Hardrock 100, which as 33,000 feet of climbing over 100 miles. That's almost 50% more climbing than I did on this run, but 10 times over and at a much higher altitude. Crazy...

There were quite a few of these stairs/mtb ramps on the Mustang Trail. These were nice because the gradient is a lot gentler than other portions of the trail.

Just getting started...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Week Summary

Good sports weekend coming up: University of Michigan football Saturday, men's world champs marathon Saturday, Hy-Vee triathlon Sunday, and US Open tennis both days.

Three and a half miles fast but just under straining, then just cruised for a while. 6:20/mile. Total is 50:00 -- 6:43/mile -- 157 bpm -- 7.5 miles. I threw in 5 or 6 (I lost count) ten second sprints up a steep nearby hill. This is a strength/injury prevention method recommended by Brad Hudson. I want to incorporate these sprints pretty frequently, maybe once a week, as I want to work all my systems.

This would have been a long run, but with the long weekend I may trail run the next three days and get in some serious volume. That'd be six days running in a row, however, so I'll exercise caution and maybe take Sunday off. So far I'm at 22.5 miles in the past three days, which is a small enough total that I'm optimistic about getting in three more days.

An easy 45 minutes (5.9 miles) followed some bare foot running with the dog in the park. 7:20/mile at 141 bpm, which is a very mellow effort.

Track workout, but not tough. 8 x 400 with two laps at each of 5:40 pace, 5:30 pace, 5:20 pace, and back to 5:40 pace with two minutes jogging between. Otherwise just going easy/moderate to and from the track. 9.1 miles in 1:05, so 7:04/mile at 151 bpm.

Moderate bike ride. Already my legs feel weak compared to my cardio system.

I don't remember, but probably a pretty mellow run.


This week's song is from a little known 60s album by a guy out of Detroit. It sounds immediately familiar.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Forgotten Valley

Tomorrow I may go down to Manitou Springs and give The Incline a try. 3 miles of stairs that gain 2,250 feet will leave me with some buns of steel.

For today's run I headed up to the north side of Golden Gate State Park. I intended to run along a hilly dirt road named Gap Rd. for 7 or 8 miles and then turn back. After parking, however, I opted instead for a trail run into the center of the park. Park trails maps were posted at most trail intersections, and these markers guided my way.

The run started great as I popped over a ride and descending into Forgotten Valley.

That little home was built in 1876 by a Swedish family, and four generations lived off the land in the valley until the 1950s. There's not a real road within a few miles of this place. Kind of crazy how isolated and pre-industrial people in the mountains here continued to live until only recently.

Anyhow, my route descended further down into the valley before climbing up to the top of a 9,000 ft. peak that defined a southern boundary of the valley. The climb up was very steep at times, and maintaining a 150 bpm HR while walking some sections was no problem. The peak featured a rocky outpost that provided a grand view of the valley.

As I began my ascent, I misread one of the route markers and descended in the wrong direction (and no, I don't mean "up"). Instead of looping east back to the trail that took me into the valley -- a route that would have taken me back to my car for a total run time of 1:45 or so and that is downhill for a mile or two and then uphill for a mile -- I inadvertently descended west into the far end of the valley. My descent was left me both lower in elevation than I intended and much further from my car. Ugh. 1:45 into my run and I had a long time to go.

My legs were pretty shot, so I walked the steepest sections and ran when I could. I made it back to my car just over an hour later for a total time of 2:45. I was very thirsty and hungry. Ah, oh well, a nice jog all things considered.

Totals: 13.6 miles at an average HR of 141 with something crazy like 7,000 feet of elevation gain according to my not to be trusted Garmin (once I upload, I can get a much more accurate reading, though). I only needed a two hour nap and a giant BBQ sandwich when I got home to feel somewhat normal again.


1:25, 11.5 miles, the first 6 miles at 7:00/mile and 155 bpm before running easy home. The accumulation of miles is leaving my legs tired by my third day of running in each mini 4-day cycle.

50 minutes easy, 6.8 miles, 7:20/mile, no HR

1:16 with three miles at 6:00/mile. For the first two miles, this pace was working without hurting. For the third mile it started to approach the "getting a bit uncomfortable" level of work, so I ended the repeats after three miles. Anyhow, 10.7 miles at an average of 7:08/mile.

Three day mileage total: 29 miles in 3:30 of running. The difference in speed and mileage between running in Denver and running in the mountains is so extreme that they're not even worth comparing. Today's 13.6 miles at 12:00/mile was much, much more difficult than Tuesday's 10.7 miles at 7:08/mile.

Today's song is by Jason Schwartzman's new group Coconut Records. In addition to being a Coppola, staring in Rushmore, being the drummer in a hit power-pop band (see Phantom Planet; you'll know the song), AND being the sole proprietor of a fantastic mustache, Jason has a few solo records under his Coconut Records moniker. This song is nice:

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Today Stacey and I headed up to Boulder for a nice jog along Magnolia Road. That name should be familiar to anyone that has read Running with the Buffaloes, which covers a season of CU's cross country team in the late 90s (though I'm not positive about the date). It's a great read for anyone interested in running. Anyhow, Magnolia Road was the team's standard long run each Sunday. After today's run, I can see why. It's a rolling dirt road at around 8,500 feet with almost no flats. Check this site out for an elevation profile.

Stacey and I started our out-and-back run at the Nederland end of the road, and on the way out I was flying. I was holding just over 7:00 miles at 8,500 feet over some tough hills, and that's while restricting my effort to tempo going uphill and relaxing on the downhills. What I didn't realize is that the rolling hills obscured a nearly 500 foot elevation drop. Needless to say, the way back was tough. Instead of mid-6 to mid-7 minute miles, I started seeing more 8s and 9s. I even had to walk twice for about 30 seconds to keep my HR below threshold.

My favorite moment of the run came as I was charging up a hill about 6 miles into the run. A car stopped in the middle of the hill and the driver motioned that he was in need of some assistance. I paused my watch and said hello. "Is there any place to run around here?" the guy asked. Seriously?!? This guy asked a runner obviously in the middle of a run along a beautiful, up-and-down dirt road at the edge of the Rockies with panoramic mountain views every few hundred meters whether there is any place to run? "Right here," I replied, "on this very road." Not a lot of common sense, that one.

(The second photo is from a nice downhill section which looks totally flat in the photo, while the third photo is not from the run but instead from the drive home along an amazing new running route I lucked upon.)

Stats: 1:41, 13 miles, 7:50/mile, 155 bpm average, felt great until the last 15 minutes when my legs started to really feel the climbing. Oh, and here's a better write-up with better photos to describe the run.

Afterwards we went to the best taco place on Earth. It's located in a not so nice part of Denver at 4th and Federal. Stacey and I were the only non-hispanic people there (a good sign!) and while we waited for our food we were offered both counterfeit DVDs and homemade Mexican cheese by two separate street vendors that wandered into the restaurant. If these tacos receive a 10/10, then the next best tacos I've hard are at most a 7/10. (Sorry, mom.) Stacey's burrito was only pretty good, though.

Yesterday: Trail run up some small peak near Golden. Very, very steep at times. 1:00 of running covered just 5.5 miles. Average HR was 150 but again that's basically a 50/50 mix of 160+ and 140-. I had to walk some during this run, too.

(Looking over to Lookout Mountain, where many of the best cyclists in the world will be battling it out next Saturday. I'll be at the second switch backs watching.)

(Yes, that's the trail. There was a lot of this straight up rock stuff.)

(The start. I climbed the peak that's cut-off on the left side of the picture.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

3 More On Days

First, thanks for comments and emails. Not responding to any comment in particular, but I should elaborate on my decision to switch to running for the time being. My poor race in Boulder recently didn't have much if anything to do with the decision. More so the decision had to do with how excited I was to race before the race -- which is to say not very. Even more so the decision had to do with how my desire to push myself in tri training was this past year. I see cyclists out now and feel content with my decision. I'll still do my favorite climbs from time to time.

I do worry about injuries now that I'm running so much, so I'm building my mileage slowly as mentioned before. But perhaps just as importantly I'm taking a bunch of other steps to stay injury free. One of those steps is frequent calf massages. I annoy Stacey every other evening by asking her to do a "The Stick" session on my Achilles and both calves. While it doesn't match the effectiveness of a real massage therapist (based solely on my subjective feelings), The Stick does seem fairly effective. Over the course of one session my calves can go from painful to touch to being able to handle all the pressure Stacey can muster.

Right after my Achilles injury, my left calf was so sensitive that she could barely apply any pressure. I wonder whether calf tightness may have contributed to my injury, and I'm not taking chances with that again.

Anyhow, on with the show:

No running, just some injury prevention stuff.

12.3 miles in 1:32. That's 7:34/mile, and my HR averaged 152. I ran somewhat Fartlek in style, changing up my pace frequently but never going really hard. Oh, and it was 100+ degrees according to a toggling electronic bank sign I passed. I felt okay. Not great, not horrible.

Easy run, again by feel but wearing a Garmin to see the stats afterwards.
53 minutes - 6.7 miles
140 bpm average with an average pace of 7:48/mile
Felt good, run was cake. Legs, especially my calves, felt tired but also springy. It was an oddly contradictory feeling.

A bad night of sleep after Ozzy woke me up at 2:30am and I couldn't fall back asleep.
57 minutes - 7.6 miles
5 min at each of 155, 160, 165, 160, 155 bpm continuous
155 -- 7:06/mile (slight downhill, the rest is slight uphill)
160 -- 7:04/mile
165 -- 6:57/mile
160 -- 7:18/mile
155 -- 7:20/mile
Those pace:HR ratios all pretty much suck. Maybe it was the slight uphill, or maybe it was the fatigue I'm carrying from trail run on Saturday.


Today's song: a classic sounding indie-rocker from a horribly named band, Yuck. This sounds really familiar, maybe some Sonic Youth and Pixies influence with something else I can't put my finger on.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

3 Days On, 1 Day Off

My plan to become a better runner is to runs lots. (Pretty complicated, eh?) The more miles, the better. Right now, though, I'm not ready to run loads of miles. I consider my current training to be "training to train". The idea is that my only focus now is building durability to eventually be able to run big miles. It'll probably take several months before I'm running serious volume.

By building my mileage slowly, I hope to minimize my risk of injury. For the time being, building my mileage slowly means taking frequent days off of running. So, right now my schedule is 3 days of running followed by 1 day of cycling, typically at a recovery intensity, or 1 day completely off. Over time, I'll increase to 4 days running, 1 day non-running, then 5 days running, 1 day running. I will spend several weeks at each of these levels, and my body will tell me when I'm ready for more.

I've got a host of other strategies I am using to run safely, and I'll mention more of those in future posts.

Anyhow, the most recent 3 on, 1 off cycle looked like this:

Thursday: 45 minutes with a fair amount of it at a steady pace (based on rhythmic breathing, no Garmin used)

Friday: 43 minutes easy, based on keeping my intensity low enough that my breathing never became deep and rhythmic. (I ran by feel, but I wore a Garmin to check the stats -- 7:42/mile at 150 bpm, a higher HR than anticipated)

Saturday: 1:37 trail run from Chimney Gulch to the mansion at the top of Lookout Mountain, then down a steep neighborhood road before returning on nearly the same route. My Garmin said 4500 feet of climbing, but my gut says that's a gross over-estimation. Average HR was 150 bpm, but that's misleading because it was more like 160 bpm on the way up and 140 bpm on the way down. Felt great at the end, except the big toe on my right foot which drilled the toe of my shoe with each step descending. Shoe issue since remedied.

The view half-way up:

One of the many hang gliders floating around the area:

The start, looking up to the wooded area on the left where I'm headed:

Sunday: 1:10 super easy bike ride.

My Achilles feels great and I can't wait to wake up at 5:40 AM tomorrow for a morning run before work.


This week's song is by a band that describes their sound as "everyone high-fiving everyone", Fang Island:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Shift in Focus to Running

"I learned that rewards in running, as in life, come only in direct proportion to the amount of effort I am prepared to exert, and the extent to which I can summon the required discipline and application." - Tim Noakes

I did not fully apply myself to triathlon this year. That's not self criticism; it's just the truth. I had a few okay results, but did not take as much joy in the sport as in years past. This season more than ever I came to the same realization as Noakes: that my enjoyment of the sport is a function of the effort I put forth. Results don't drive enjoyment.

Looking forward to next year, I'm not prepared to exert the effort required to get the same joy from triathlon as I have in the past. The time commitment is wearing on me, and I'm not looking forward to early morning swims and winter training rides. The fire has (perhaps temporarily) been extinguished. I used to look forward to trainer rides, at least sometimes, but even more so I enjoyed sticking to a plan and working toward a goal.

Part of the problem is that I cannot think of an exciting triathlon goal for next year. I don't care about qualifying for Kona, and the potential of winning my age group at an Ironman or a half-IM is also not enough to motivate me. I had considered continuing with shorter tris so that I could spend more of my training time focusing on swimming. The prospect of being in a race from the gun sounded fun, but that plan doesn't cause me to look forward to tomorrow's workout.

Still, I want to work toward some athletic goal, ideally one that has me outside and in nature as much as possible. I want to continue training rigorously, as it's become a big part of my life over the past 6 years. In the past I had talked with Stacey about potentially spending some time focusing on running, since that seems to be the athletic area where I'm most naturally gifted, and see how far I can take it. Right now, training to run excites me more than training for triathlon. So with that, I'm changing my focus to running.

I do not know what specific events I will train for or what my goals will be. Trail running is certainly appealing, as is running a fast marathon (I think I can well under my current PR of 2:48 set at Chicago on a hot day). There is even some appeal to an ultra-marathon or multi-day running event. Until I figure that out, I will focus on gradually building up my mileage with mostly easy to moderate running while keeping a close eye on my recently recovered Achilles.

Biking will still be a part of my fitness routine, and I may even sell my tri gear once I'm sure of the change and use the proceeds to buy a mountain bike. I'd also like to spend more time camping and maybe cross country skiing.

The time has come for a new challenge.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Boulder 70.3 -- Race Report

Three sentence summary:
Worst race ever.

More in-depth explanation:
I just didn't have any energy on race day. My swim was 2-3 minutes too slow, my bike was 15 minutes off last year, and I had zero energy on the run.

I don't know why I was so weak on race day. One possibility is that I had a cold that started two weeks ago -- the morning of the Mt. Evans Hill Climb, actually -- and was still suffering the effects even though the symptoms subsided at the start of this week. That seems an unlikely explanation, though. Another thing that is potentially relevant to my horrible performance is that two or three days this week I got home from work and complained to Stacey that I felt exhausted. I figured it was just mental fatigue from staring at my computer all day at work, but now I'm not so sure. Still, this explanation has no solution since I don't know the cause, so it's not very satisfying. A final explanation -- this one promulgated by Stacey -- is that I didn't give my body enough of a break after IM CdA, and it finally caught up with me on race day.

I don't mean to make a bunch of excuses for my crap performance. The thing is I know I am way, way faster than 5:0X with a 2 hour half-marathon. On a typical moderate training day I can go 70.3 miles faster that I did yesterday! There's no doubt in my mind that something was off with my body, and I'd like to know what the problem is so I can do my best to avoid it in the future.
This week's video of two awesome kids:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mt. Evans Hill Climb

(Here's an image of the last half mile of the race. Not exactly what one wants to encounter when exhausted from already having climbed 6,000 feet.)

My Garmin file for the Mt. Evans Hill Climb

A quick hill climb race report:
The Mt. Evans Hill Climb is a 28 mile climb from Idaho Springs, altitude of approx. 7,500 feet, to the summit of Mt. Evans, at right around 14,200 feet. I partook in the CAT 4 race, which was about 150 strong including some 17/18 year old juniors doing a shorter version of the climb.

This being my first cycling race, I positioned myself in the middle of the large pack at the start of the race. After an early pack separation, maybe a mile or two into the race, I ended up at the back of the lead pack. This proved to be a bad position.

For a while my position was fine. Though the pack separated two or three more times, each time I was able to find a wheel on which to ride back up to the lead pack. Still, I always just rode up to the back of the pack. I should have moved forward so I wasn't off the back every time the pack separated.

Around five miles into the race -- I'm now at the back of a lead pack that's down to maybe 25 riders -- the pack split once more. No one in my group was making a move to catch back up to the pack up the road, so I went on my own. The problem is that when I reached the pack up the road, I realized that it was not the front group. In fact, the lead pack had split into three groups. I had only moved from the third group to the second, and now the first group was still a ways up the road. I gave it a shot to catch up to that group, but after 20 minutes of hard work I was not successful. I still had nearly 20 miles to ride, and I was on my own. Had I been further up in the pack, there's a better chance I'd have been able to stay with, or at least bridge the gap to, the lead group. My lesson is to be a more aggressive with my positioning in the pack so I'm better prepared to respond to gaps.

Now on my own, I kept trying to reel in any rider I could see up the road. For the next 30 minutes I was able to pass several riders that were dropped from the lead pack. Eventually, though, the distance between myself and any riders up ahead just remained constant. My morale dropped as the climb progressed but my position did not. Toward the very end of the ride, three or four guys passed me and I didn't, or maybe couldn't, put up much of a fight.

The results aren't posted yet, but my 2:24 time is not spectacular. I'm guessing somewhere in the top 25% of the CAT 4 field. My average HR was 161 bpm, which makes this the hardest 2+ hour ride I've done.

Despite a lackluster result, the race should position me well for Boulder 70.3 in a few weeks. Plus, the ride is extremely scenic; there aren't many chances to be on a bike at 12k+ feet, let alone above 14k feet.

As a final add-on, I just found this video of Tom Danielson (9th place going into yesterday's TT in the Tour de France) at the hill climb a few years back. He holds the record for a time of 1:41.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Product Review: Coco Hydro instant coconut water

Coconut juice or water -- I'm not really sure what the difference is -- is all the rage at the moment. I first tried the stuff out of curiosity last year, and my initial impression was not positive. I almost tossed the can after just a few sips! However, like coffee, beer, and most good bands, the taste grew on me. Now, I can't get enough coconut juice. Seems I'm not the only one, either: I was in Boulder at Whole Foods after a ride a few weeks back, and at least half the people eating outside selected coconut juice as their beverage of choice.

Coconut juice is marketed as a fluid replacement drink for athletes, as well as a hangover cure. I just drink it because it's delicious on hot days. In the winter coconut juice is only pretty good, but when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees, coconut juice becomes a vastly more tasty beverage. With the temperature in Denver forecast to be around 100 degrees for the rest of this week, it's prime coconut juice drinkin' season.

On hot days I could drink 3 cans of coconut juice a day, no problem. Well, except that my favorite brand, Amy & Brian's, is $2 a can. (Side note: the 16oz. can of Amy & Brian's is superior to the 12oz. can, which inexplicably has a strong hint of caramel.) As a result, coconut juice is more of an occasional treat than an every day part of my diet. While coconut juice is palatable, $6 a day for a beverage is not.

Enter Coco Hydro. I spotted it at Whole Foods today on a granola run. For $8 one gets 25 servings of cononut water powder. Just add the powder to water and, voila, homemade coconut juice. An inspection of the ingredients revealed only three: evaporated coconut juice, dextrose ("as a processing agent", whatever that means), and sea salt. Intrigued, I bought a packet. (Another aside: there are other brands that sell similar products; see, e.g., here.)

The directions recommend about a tablespoon of the powder for each cup of water. I opted for two tablespoons into about 10-12 oz of water in a pint glass, and then I topped it off with ice. The powder dissolved with just a few stirs, and unlike protein powder there was not a lot of residue stuck to the spoon or the glass. After stirring and allowing a few moments for the water-turned-juice to chill, it was time for a taste test.

The Coco Hydro coconut juice has the same great flavor as my aforementioned favorite, Amy and Brian's, although the flavor is a bit more subtle with Coco Hydro. Also, there's a bit of a soapy taste with Coco Hydro, which I'm guessing is due to the addition of sea salt. I will try adding a bit more powder next time so that the flavor has more "pop" to it, but I fear that more powder will also exacerbate the soapy issue. Overall, the soapy or salty taste isn't too bad, and my taste verdict is positive. Coco Hydro is no Amy and Brian's flavor-wise, but it's also 1/3 the price.

Amy & Brian's remains the gold standard of coconut juices. If I'm going to treat myself to coconut juice after a long ride or run on a hot day, Amy & Brian's remains my first choice. If, however, I'm going to drink coconut juice more frequently -- like I probably will this week -- Coco Hydro is tough to beat because of its substantially lower price.

I will update this review after I finish the packet. And since guerrilla marketing online is no good, I'm happy to say that I have no affiliation whatsoever with any of the companies whose products are discussed herein. I buy both Amy & Brian's and Coco Hydro at Whole Foods at regular pricing. Not that I'd object if either company wanted to send me copious amounts of their products...

UPDATE: Make sure to stir the powder in very well; don't stop when the powder has merely dissolved. After a 2:45 ride in 90+ degree weather today, I had another glass. This time all the salt was at the bottom...not tasty!

Wavves "King of the Beach" is a good song for running intervals on a nice day:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ironman Coeur D'Alene Race Report


My goals for the race were not lofty back in the spring. All winter I was sidelined by an Achilles injury and did no running from September 2010 to March 2011, and I wasn't running at anywhere near IM volume until mid-April. That's basically 1.5 months of rehab running and then a bit under 2 months of cautious IM training. With a new home, a new job, and a dog that I can't leave in his crate all day every weekend, I struggled to get in long IM specific rides. Back in the spring, my goal was simply to enjoy training and racing and not get fixated on my result.

...And then goal-creep, the phenomenon whereby one's initially mild goals morph into ambitious, difficult to obtain expectations, set in. My running recovered surprisingly quickly, my cycling metrics were great, and I thought I had a good shot at an Age Group win or first amateur overall performance. Sure, I questioned my swimming prowess and my run durability. But I reasoned a poor swim isn't an Ironman deal-breaker, I could easily ride a low-5:00 ride, and then my natural running talent could carry me through the race.

In fact, I worried enough about my run durability, and perhaps overly confident about my cycling, that I decided to ride the first loop of the bike nice and easy to save more than usual for the run. So that was my plan: swim like normal, ride easy, run like normal.


The 58 degree water, give or take 2 degrees, was a non-issue for me in only a wetsuit and single swim cap. The first loop was all about positioning myself not to get too beat up, as this was the roughest swim in which I've partaken. The second loop I paid a bit more attention to finding feet, sighting, and my stroke. Surprising, I matched my IM swim PR with a 1:05.

I kept repeating "Ride to run, ride to run" in my head throughout the first loop of the bike. My effort was low, and I erred on the side of energy conservation at all opportunities (e.g., by not passing groups of riders, by spinning up each hill). Based on my training, I expected a 2:30-2:35 first loop. My recollection, fuzzy now several days after the race, I that my time for Loop 1 was 2:38 or so.

No problem, I'd just increase my effort to regular IM effort for lap 2, finish the ride in the low-5:00 range, just like always, and then have a solid run. However, even as I increased my effort, my second loop time was a bit worse than my first. On the positive side, the easy first loop left me feeling fantastic throughout the ride. While I normally am hurtin' by mile 80 of the bike, this race I passed the mile 80 marker thinking how great I felt and how easy the ride was coming along.

For my future records, I rode at an average of 138 bpm (whereas my past three IM average bike HRs have been 147, 147, and 151) and put out an average of 200 W (vs. 205ish W for my past three IMs). I was and still am a bit shocked that 200 W only resulted in a 5:17 ride, while just a few more watts got me 5:07 or something like that at Lake Placid.


Now is when the goal creep came into play. After an easy ride, I was rewarded with fresh legs. With such great feeling legs, I made a game-time decision -- literally -- to go for the AG win. My guess was I'd need to run in the low 2:50s to have a shot. With my legs feeling fresh, I thought I had a good enough chance to achieve a fast marathon that the reward outweighed the risk blowing up.

My plan was to push really hard the first loop of the run in hopes of reaching the front of the AG race. If I could do that, I'd hope to hold on and allow my natural running ability and competitiveness to carry me to the finish line. The biggest question mark in my head was whether my lightly trained running legs would withstand 26.2 hard miles.

Instead of capping my HR at 160 bpm, like my normal and prudent plan, I went by feel and tried to run as fast as I could without feeling like I was straining. My HR was in the mid-160s and my PE was surprisingly low as I ran the first 13.1 miles right around 6:30/mile. The pace felt easy enough that a 2:50 run seemed possible, even approaching the halfway point of the run.

I continued that pace for a few more miles after the turn-around, and then had to start pushing really hard to hold sub 7:00/mile as I went reached the run course hills around miles 16-17. Climbing the steepest hill on the course shortly before the turnaround zapped my legs of their remaining energy with around 8 miles to go and my pace dropped to around 8:00/mile at its best. Hello, death march.

Fortunately, my death march pace isn't too bad and I was able to finish the run in a respectable 3:07. (Side note: I am extremely impressed by the number of athletes that ran below 3:10 -- the results are littered with low 3:00 runs!) My quads were so shot after the run that in the med tent after the race I could not move my legs. I had to ask volunteers to help my change my legs' position while resting on a recliner. My legs gave all they could during the race.

I wonder how my race would have gone if I'd held typical IM effort on the bike. I lacked confidence in my ability to hold 220 W for the ride and still run well, especially coming off so few run miles in training. But, it is also my experience that I don't need to work that hard to have a good AG bike split. So in retrospect I think my race plan on the bike was good. I'm just surprised at the result.

I also don't regret my suicidal run pacing. Sure, it didn't go as perfect as I'd hoped (knowing a 2:50 run was a long-shot). But despite my hard run, I still podiumed, and more importantly I didn't hold anything back. Winning my AG will require taking risks during races, and running with a HR in the mid 160s was a risk I knowingly and willingly took.


-- 9:37, which I think is my second fastest time, although almost 20 minutes of my PR.
-- 4th in my AG, and 4th straight IM podium.
-- 30th overall, which is my second worst overall placing in my 6 IMs. This despite my second fastest time...


Ironman CdA fell on Stacey and my 1st anniversary. Yay, us! (As opposed to the typical "yay, me!" theme of the blog.) What adventure can we do next year?


Not only did the race fall on our anniversary, but my brother Conor and his wife Teresa also competed in the race. Congratulations to all of you. Special congrats to Stacey for shattering her goal by 20 minutes!