Monday, January 24, 2011

Jan 24

5.5 days left!  I did a 4.0 today.  I finally started feeling less sore today.  Tired as anything, though -- slept 5 hrs last night.  At least I caught up some on the weekend.  Back in debt, but maybe I can catch back up. 

1 degree treadmill (as always), oxysox, Gel Evolution 3's w/ Spenco insoles, 69 degrees in the gym.  I guess it's similar to a hot taper, which is supposed to be good before a marathon.  HR was 154bpm immed postrun.
I did a 1 mi warmup, then 2 mi at easyMP(3:40, ~ 8:23 pace) with faster-than-MP(7:30 pace) striders every 1/2 mi, then 1 mi normal running.  My hips weren't great.  Boo.  More stretching needed... it was more the back of my hips... like upper butt this time, rather than the side of my right hip, like usual.  I'm reading Brain Training by Matt Fitzgerald, so I tried some of the proprioceptive cues while I was running.  It gives you something to think about while you're running.  I don't have issues associating (vs. dissociating) at all. During races, I associate a million percent.  I may write them down on the back of my bib and think of them during the race.  Woudn't hurt to write it down, to at least have the option.

After the run, I stuck my lower legs in the icy (it's "feels like 35" degrees outside) pool for 5 min.  It's time for my legs to stop being swollen and sore.  There's a new school of thought that icing may not be optimal for running performance in the long term, b/c it cuts off the natural processes by which your body deals with the stress and comes back stronger.  But this close to the race, I think having it stop being sore/swollen outweighs any LT benefits of not icing.

4.0 in 33:11, 8:18 ave.  Splits> 8:28, 8:13, 8:08, (25:40 5K), 8:20.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Houston Hype 4 - Shoe Selection

The race is 6.5 days away!!!
I hope to be able to wear the Saucony Kinvaras, which are 6.8 ozs... and orange.

They made me go fast at the Spinx Half this past October. 

The reasons that I may switch to another model are the following:
1. While walking through 3 Disney parks in one day over Christmas break in the Saucony Progrid sans orthopedics, I did something to my right foot, on the outer side of the arch. It caused great pain for 2 weeks.  I need to be careful about going around in something without arch supports.  Yes, I could put arch supports in the Kinvaras, but that would add to its weight.  And just to highlight the importance of weight, for every lb lost, you gain 1-2s of speed/mi (  If you think about how much more vertical and horizontal oscillation your feet go through vs. your body, the weight effect of whatever is on your feet must be significantly greater.  Kinvaras are neutral shoes, yet I've been able to run comfortably in them in the past, despite my overpronation.  I've gone up to 20 in them, without issues.

2. I did notice, however, that they are getting compressed on the insides, where you'd expect for an over-pronator.  With the dirt getting into any creases, you can really tell!  This is especially true of the left shoe.  When I'm at my parents' house and my dad bikes while I run, he notices that I overpronate with my left, while my right foot falls very straight under my body.  The shoes confirmed that.  You can see more compression on the left shoe.  Ever since I noticed that, I've been trying to avoid putting miles on these shoes, so that I can save up its condition for the race.  I've wanted to buy another pair, but they're out of my size at  I could get it from another site, but I am partial to  Just FYI, I tend to only use shoes for 250mi before retiring them.  This is less than the 300-500 that's suggested.  I don't know why.  I'm lighter than most, so if anything, I should be able to go for longer than the average.  Yet, I feel like they lose cushioning by 250. 

So I plan to go in the Kinvaras.  But I will be packing my Brooks Trance 8's as well.

The Trance 8's weigh in at 9.3oz, which is a good bit heavier than the 6.8oz Kinvaras (that's all per shoe).  To that, you have to add the SofSol arch supports I'd need to insert.  Even with the arches, the Trance 8's don't feel like they provide much cushioning.  Ironically, the light Kinvaras provide a very pillowy feeling compared to all of my other shoes. 

Let's see... 1.7oz supports + 9.3oz Trance = 11oz, vs. 6.8oz = 4.2oz/shoe = 8.4oz total. That's a big deal.

Okay, these also happen to be orange, haha.

I normally train in even heavier shoes than the Trance 8's, on top of arch supports.  I think that's actually a good thing.  First, it gives my feet a different kind of surface to land on, which activates different muscles.  And it doesn't seem to do my body any harm, as long as I have the arch supports (on top of the medial posts).  Second, the extra weight during training makes me stronger and makes the lighter shoes feel sooooo fast on race-day.

Here's how the shoes in my rotation weigh in...

Traning Shoes:
Asics Gel Evolution 3 = 11.6 oz + 1.7 oz arch supports = 13.3 oz
Saucony Paramount = 11.0 oz + 1.7 oz arch supports = 12.7 oz
New Balance 1224 = 10.8 oz + 1.7 oz arch supports = 12.5  oz

Speedwork Shoes:
Brooks Trance 8 = 9.3 oz + 1.7 oz arch supports = 11.0 oz
Saucony Kinvara = 6.8 oz

Racing Shoes:
Saucony Fastwitch = 6.0 oz (durable enough for 5ks only)
Saucony Shay XC Spikes = 4.8 oz (only for 5K races on grass)

Kinvaras it is, barring anything terrible-feeling on race-day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jan 22

The last "LR"... it was only 7 mi.  The Runner's World / New Balance SmartCoach app called for 8, but considering how tired, sore, and slightly overtrained I am, I feel fine making it 7.  Happy to report that there was no hip pain.  How'd it heal up?  Sleep.

I slept 7pm-midnight last night, slept 8-9am, slept 3-7pm.  Ran at 7pm.  It was actually nice for mimicing race-day.  I need to become familiar with how I'll feel race-morning.  Sluggish, a bit drowsy.  Normally, I jump straight into workouts, with no warmup.  Due to the drowsiness, I felt like I had to do some dynamic stretching, which was perfect as a test.  No warmup, since I won't be warming up with any running race morning.  Gotta save my energy for the race.  So it was good.

During my awake time to"day", I read about race week nutrition and tapering advice, plus race-day fueling advice.  A couple of reference suggested that you shouldn't eat within 2 hours of the race... I always thought that it was because people normally need that window to let food digest, but avoiding food within that window is actually supposed to prevent a bad insulin response.  On training runs, I normally eat an hour before (if it's a big meal), or minutes before (if it's a snack)!  So if I do this 2 hours thing, today's run would also be a good test, since I had been napping, and not eating, 2 hours prior. 

I was hungry and I normally would've eaten, but I held off, figuring that I could test out eating solid food while running.  I had a TLC Kashi breakfast bar.  It was easier to swallow than Gus or Chews, which is a litte ironic, but perhaps it was too sugary... felt a big spike and then my tummy felt a little bit uncomfortable.  I don't know what made it uncomfortable.  So maybe I will stick with the PowerBar gels.

I took it relatively easy on the run... still might've been a little more strenuous than it normally would've felt due to my slightly overtrained body, but I kept it easier than I normally would've taken it.  The bar was 100Cal, and I had half every half hour of the 1-hr run, which was exactly how long the energy/hunger lasted.  It's hard to extrapolate this to a full run, though, since this was only the beginning, starting from a state wher I had been napping and not eating for 4 hrs, which is different from being 20mi into a race.

I AM GOING TO GO CONSERVATIVELY AT THE RACE.  3:40 is fine.  My goal is the BQ.   PR at BOSTON, SWEET BOSTON.  (just talked to KJ, who confirmed that I should go for the BQ.)  okay, it's decided.  don't get lured in.  I can go to 20 with the 3:40 group and turn it on then if I want.  That may mean a 3:34, which is fine.

7.0 in 59:52, 8:33 ave.  Splits> 8:45, 8:32, 8:33, (26:43 5k), 8:33, 8:34, 8:35, (53:17 10k), 8:16.

Enjoyed a bowl of caramelized onions, tomato sauce, and tofu afterwards.  Delicious.  And now oatmeal.  Refueling, yes.

Houston Hype 3 - Pacing and Tapering Plans

My Tapering So Far...

I'm 1 week out!!!

I should've been tapering for 2 weeks already.  Normally, experts suggest that your 3rd week's mileage be 2/3 of your peak mileage (in my case, 30 mi), that your 2nd week's mileage be 50% of your peak mileage, and that your final week's mileage be 30% of your peak mileage.

I did the 75% just fine, coming out with 21/30, and if I do my last planned run for this week, I'd finish off at 16/30, with 11/30 planned for the last week.  However, I was feeling unusually tired during my last run, and my hip had been nagging for a couple of weeks, and I've been sore for the last couple of days, probably a result of Monday (2 weeks out)'s tough speed session.  I'm wondering if I should do less than the suggested amount. Like maybe only 7/8 for today's run, and just a 3 and a 3 next week, instead of the 3/5/3.  And I had initially be thinking about a strength session on Monday, but I had such a breakout session this past week, where I pushed it far.  I'm probably still recovering a bit from that.  If I skip the strength session, I'll probably be recovered right before the big race, which would be good.

Since stretching does form some micro-tears, any big stretching/foam rolling I plan on doing should be done sooner, rather than later, so that those heal up in time, too.  Last night, I slept from 7pm->midnight, and couldn't fall asleep again because I had already slept a decent amount, so I listened to podcasts (which I guess is still resting, since I was in bed) and eventually decided to start packing for Houston.  Then, at around 7am (up 7 hours already, and it was only 7am!), I did 35 min of deep foam rolling (by lifting one leg off, adding extra pressure on the other leg) and stretching.  Then, I realized how I hadn't specifically studied much on what to do during taper week.  I've read those sections in all of my books, but back when I was reading those books for the first time, I hadn't decided to sign up for my marathon, since I was still trying to just build back up from 6 mo of time off.  So I hadn't memorized all the details.

What I read didn't add too much.  I looked at many different training plans, and they all had wild amounts of mileage suggested in the last week.  I gotta take it easy and just trust the feeling.  The books also say that rest is key and that tapering effect outweighs any potential fitness gains in the last two weeks (I wonder if my last speed session was too late in my buildup), so I'll go with the rest.  Maybe today's run will work out the soreness - recovery runs do that. 


I did have a small scare a couple of weeks ago.  The New Balance / Runner's World SmartCoach trainng plan app for the iTouch has pace suggestions based on my selection criteria, but I've been ignoring them and just following the mileage targets (quite well, up until the foot injury... caused by normal but excessive walking... about a month ago).  It's a big deal for me to even follow a mileage plan, since in the past, hectic schedules and the tendency towards overtraining and injury made how I felt or what I could fit in very unpredictable. Now, I'm healthy and have a more regular schedule. 

So the scare... I was looking back at the app settings and realized that there was no input for "goal race time".  I thought I had been doing great meeting the LR suggestions of pace and mileage and thought that as a result, the BQ was in the bag.  I got an "oh, no" feeling when I saw that the only time-based input was my "recent race time" of 1:45 for the half.  That was my old half time, which had been superceded by a 1:35 with an unexpected performance once training was underway and I had already gone a few weeks into the plan.  I stuck the 1:35 in there to see the paces that the app generated, and they were a good bit faster.

Later, though, I realized that since there were training run paces, there was also a dictated race pace, if you scrolled way over to the race day pacing instructions, and even at 1:45, it predicted a 3:36 finish.  So I should be okay.  And when you think about it, assuming 1:35 fitness, I could potentially do a marathon in 3:22.  But I'm pretty sure I'm fitter now then I was back then (1 mo into training), since I've done 3 20-milers since then, plus a handful of slightly shorter runs. 

Going for which Goal?

I've been going back and forth about whether to be conservative and take the BQ and run with the 3:40 group, or if I want to race to my potential, which is quite a bit faster.  With any marathon, there are so many uncontrollable factors, and with a first, you have even less of an idea of how your body will deal with it on that day.  Especially because the greatest unknowns come in the last 6.2 of the race, you can't really tell until the race is already pretty much over.  If you go conservatively for 20 mi, there's only so much you can gain back in the last 6, if you consider that you'd only have the X:XX/mi pace increas over 6 mi.  So even if you increased your speed by a wholel mile per min, you could only capture 6 min. 

This is how I picture it...
- I can take a 100% chance of a BQ if I go conservatively, or
- I can take a 70% chance of a BQ + a great performance, with a 30% chance of no BQ.

Hmmm.... okay, I should go with option 1.  I can PR when I'm in Boston.  I can PR when I'm in Boston.  I can PR when I'm in Boston.  (and re-qualify)!!

I would regret not getting the BQ... very much.  But I wouldn't regret getting a 3:3X.  Okay.

Pacing Group Consisderations
Okay, so I've decided to go for the BQ. 

I had planned on going with a pacing group, for the motivation and the ability to zone out and let someone else monitor the pace, plus the experience. 

However, there are some big questions...

What is the leader's strategy?  Go faster in the first 20 anticipating the slowdown in the last 6?
Even all the way?  Neg splits for a faster, more pain-free performance (but even less of a chance of me being able to make up any time at the end)?

What if sometimes, I'm feeling stronger... should I go on, taking advantage of it and not purposefully slowing?  Or do I stay, even if it messes with my stride a little or stresses me out a bit?  Other times, they could conceivably be going faster than I feel like going at that point - push it, or go my own way and hope to rein them in later?

Ooh, just saw that they've posted the pacing group leaders for the 2011 race!

So, these are the groups...
Finish Time (hours) Pace Per Mile (min.)

3:00 6:52

3:10 7:15

3:20 7:38

3:30 8:00

3:40 8:23

3:50 8:47

4:00 9:09

4:15 9:44

4:30 10:18

4:45 10:52

5:00 11:27

5:15 12:01

5:30 12:35

6:00 13:44

Eh.. I was hoping for a 3:35 group.  Because that's close to the 3:36 conservative expectation if I use the 1:45 HM performance.  And that would give me a bit of a cushion, since 3:40 exactly would be cutting it close, if the pacer made any mistakes.  Hmm...
Well, let's see who's leading 3:40 and who's leading 3:30.  Maybe I can tell how experienced they are.

Okay, so this guy... he's done 27 Houstons!  That scores him big points.  He's older, but only someone older could've done 27 Houstons.  Has Houston even been around that long?  Wow!

The other 3:30 group is led by a younger guy with no Houstons.  I'd go with the experinced guy, if I did want to go crazy and go 3:30.
This guy's got 20 Houstons under his belt.  Nice.
This guy has 6 (and likes compression socks, too :)  )

I guess I'll be going 3:40 with Carlos and his 20 Houstons.

Why is experience valuable?  He'll probably know the best strategy for getting his team over the line.  He knows the course.  He knows how to handle the water stops.  He'll have good stories to tell of past Houstons.  CARLOS, CARLOS, CARLOS!  With his 3:04, he's probably run Boston (all of them have, probably). 

Maybe I can ask him about his strategy at the expo.  For me, pos split > even > neg split, if "even" is considered a 3:40 pace.  I mean in terms of the pace group.  Because I plan to do a neg split anyways, so if there's a pos split at the beginning, and I execute my neg split since I anticipate finishing faster than 3:40, it should result in the ideal even split. 
"I'll PR in Boston."  - gotta keep telling myself that.  So tempting to go for it.  But I'll PR in Boston.

And if you're wondering about the distribution of finish times, here it is for 2010, from

// 2PM UPDATE...

Aww, man!!!  I just saw that with a 3:39 in last year's race, I would've gotten 7th in my age group.  With a 3:22, I could get 4rd.  3rd is out of reach, at 3:05!!!  The current fourth is 3:35... a huge gap btwn 3rd and 4th.  Ok... so maybe I can have a conservative first half but still get fourth... or I could run with the 3:30 group.  Oh man. 

BQ > placing.  I placed at Spinx.  BQ is the big deal.  Maybe I'll wear my Boston jacket instead of the orange Vizipro jacket, to remind myself of the end-goal.

// 2:11PM UPDATE...
BLAH BLAH BLAH okay.  Maybe I'll hang with the 3:40 until the half.  Then, if I feel good, I have 13 mi to gain 13 min... ooh.. that means 13 mi at my HM PR pace - 7:22.  Ok.  So maybe slow it down a bit... a lot... if I gained 10 min, that's a 3:30.  Eh?  Let's see what that pace would be... 8:23 for 13.1 mi, makes a 1:50 time at the half.  Then, I turn it on for a 1:40 half in the second half... means 7:38.  Possible.  Man, a 3:2X time would be sweet.  8:23 then 7:38. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jan 20 - p

Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica

5.0 in 40:30, 8:06 ave.  70 degrees.  1 degree treadmill.  It kind of felt more difficult that it should've felt.  I think I'm creeping towards overtraining.  For the pasts few weeks, I've been kind of more apathetic about running.  I used to read running books every day during lunch, but even though I have a new and pretty good one to read (Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald), I've been kind of "bleh", I think b/c my body is tired.  I need to be careful, since I'm suceptible to injury especially after such a hard training cycle.  I'm less than a week and a half away!!!  So I really don't need to push very hard now - just keep up enough.  Okay, from now on out, take it easy.  No more fitness gains are possible.  I did good speedwork last time and a decent effort (even though not particularly fast) today... time to rest.  1.5 weeks is a good amount of time to rest... as in, I could just barely run anything and be stronger than ever at the end, due to the needed rest. 

On top of the heavy training, it's been a low-in-sleep week, so my immune system is down, and my coritsol is probably up from stress and emotions... or emotions that resulted from stress.  Gotta rest.  Gotta rest.

Progression run. Gotta rest.  Splits> 8:28, 8:12, 8:07, (25:34), 7:59, 7:43.

My right hip is still off... hopefully, the rest will heal it. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jan 18

Oh man.  Need a pet goldfish while I keep my hand in the ice bowl.

Ok, to the run... matched what I considered my best speed session this season, last done on 11/15.  0.5 mi warmup @ 7.5mph, 3 x [3/4 @ 9mph, 1/4 @ 7.5mph]. 

Kinvaras, normal socks. 

3.5 in 25:00, 7:09/mi. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jan 15

Sigh (a good, "rest, at last" one). 

Just finished an 11.8 on the treadmill.  Not 12.0, because strangely, the treadmill decided to suddenly grind to a halt (not a gradual slowdown) and display "END" on the console.  I don't think I've ever gone that far on the treadmill, so it was either some internal 100min limit (it was somewhere around there), or maybe it overheated (not that I was going fast)... probably not overheated, since at gyms, people use a single treadmill one after anther.

Why did I subject myself to 11.8 on a treadmill?  I would've liked to get this last long run done outside, but since there's still icy snow along roadsides, my usual grassy sides-of-paths are probably hazardous.  It would've been pretty to run through [partially] snow-covered places again, but that's not a risk I should take 2 weeks out from the big race.  It was a nice 71 degrees in there (which makes it a little more challenging and allows me to prepare for the possibility of heat), and I saved some gas money.  I can get through runs of that length without water or fuel, so that's what I did.  I did get a little thirsty towards the end, but nothing bad.  No hunger.

Speaking of hunger, I was a little calorie monster last night.  I was so tired earlier that day, so I was going to sleep at 9pm, but suddenly, my body wouldn't sleep... maybe it was b/c I was listening to running podcasts.  I normally listen to it to fall asleep each night, so maybe that's not it.  Maybe I got excited or something.  Anyway, my body kept wanting food, so I ended up snacking until 1:30am.  Calorie monster.  Is it the heavy training?  A subconscious way for my physical body to stay awake to keep up with my awake mind?  A subconscious way to store up fat b/c I don't use heat in my apartment?  Anway, I seem back to normal today.  My weight doesn't fluctuate too much... it's within a 3-4lb range, which is very reasonable, considering the oscillation between dehydration and over-hydration that I go through.  Eh...

While we're on the topic of fuel, I was inspired last night while listening to a Runner's Round Table podcast episode on Vegan running.  They talked about how much they loved eating super mixing-bowl size salads every day for lunch, and how good whole foods made them feel and how well it made them perform.  That's more like how I ate in my later years in college when I was in the 2-D vegetarian co-op.  It was good.  I eat okay now... okay... mostly good fuel, although I do like processed snacks (chips, tortilla chips, whole wheat goldfish) and cereal. Besides that, lots of dairy and produce.  I can attest to the benefits - I rarely get sick.... like once every two or three years.  I think exercise contributes, too... I don't remember the details on why... but I think I read it somewhere.  Anyway, in my final prep weeks before the race, I want to eat clean-burning, nutrient-packed, naturally energizing fuel... superfoods for super performance.  No red meat... just fish, soy, low-fat/fat free dairy, more oatmeal than normal, fruits and veggies, and the occasional processed food.  Delicious and energizing.  Give my tastebuds some change too.

back to FIT:

So the run... had to do some form tweaks as time went on... here are tweaks that work for me:

- Swing hips forward and more medially a bit more.
- Higher knees for a landing that's more at my center of mass, since I have more time to land and get over my landing foot (I think)
- Butter kicks... haha... seems to go well with "higher knees".  Umm... yeah, not sure why it works... the more flight time thing, maybe.
- Ue arms to drive the legs... it does a lot to give my leg muscles a break, when my arms are driving the momentum.  It's probably less energy efficient overall, but it's mroe imortant that my legs get a break.

I was able to wear the NB 1224s again for the first time since hurting my right foot (which has been completely normal for about a week now).  Wore Oxysox, which somehow got bunched up a bit under my right foot... don't remember having that happen before, but it was annoying.  Maybe I'll have to consider wearing the UA calf sleeves + Feetures running socks instead.  Ooh, I also tried some anti-chafing cream.  Maybe I'll write a review later, but I'll go ahead and mention some things... it worked (I suppose) in that I didn't get any under-arm chafing.  I don't chafe often, and I haven't figured out what causes it when it does happen.  So maybe it wouldn't have happened anyway.  I can take the pain of chafing, so my main reason for using it on race-day is to reduce friction to save energy.  Result: It seems like it made my arm/body glide without chafing, but it was sticky, so it maybe has an even higher coefficient of friction than usual.  Maybe I won't use it on race-day?  Maybe only on training runs (when more energy expenditure is okay, and when I wouldn't be as happy about enduring chafing)?  We'll see.

Okay... finally, the splits.
11.8 in 1:38:42, 8:22 ave... nice - my goal MP, accomplished in 71 degree heat without tapering.
Splits> 8:34, 8:33, 8:32, 8:29, 8:28, 8:24, 8:20, 8:19, 8:21, 8:19, 8:14, 6:03 for 0.8.

Fuel again.... Another thing I wanted to test today on this LR was coffee, which I had earlier in the morning.  With the benefits of race-day caffeine, I'm considering having a cup before the race... maybe half a cup.  It seemed okay, although I ran a few hours after drinking the cafe latte.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jan 13

I was soooooo tired an hour ago.  Dead doggie tired.  Worked very hard at work.  To make up for 3 less productive days. 

Gotta get in the miles, though.  Could've maybe done it in the morning or even at night, but wanted to stick to the plan.  Didn't go super well, but maybe my hopes were too high.  I had woken up pretty sore this morning, from last night's flying bike session, I think.  But it was normal again during the day. 

The plan called for 8... an 8 speed session, even, but after the bike yesterday, 8 would be quite an accomplishment.  Intensity would probably do the most for my marathon prep, though, at this point, so I went hard instead of long.  I started w/ a 2 mi warmup, rather than the usual 0.5-1 mi warmup, to bank more before the quality part of the workout began.  After that, I ended up just managing my normal interval workout, except with recoveries at 7.0mph rather than 7.5mph.  Maybe it was the 2 mis before, maybe it was the bike session, maybe tiredness.  Ah well, I guess the tradeoff is okay.  Did 4x[ 1/2 mi on (9mph), 1/4 mi off (7mph)], then a cooldown of 7.0 for 1/4 then 7.5 for 1/4. 

More awake now, but I should probably get rest.  Pro runners train, eat, nap, train, eat, sleep.  Sleep is important when you're working harder.  Need to recover and adapt.  I should sleep.

5.5 in 42:53, 7:48.  Blah, that's stretch-goal MP.  Blah.  Well, I guess it would be more steady-state in the real thing.  But man.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jan 12


A great recumbent bike session today.  I went for 55 min w/o the usual hip issues, and  I felt strong all the way.  15.3 mi in 69 degree temps.  Read Running Times while doing it.  Very encouraging.

blah blah blah

and now the snowman

His head is actually bigger than mine.  My apt is 3 floors up from where he is, though, which is why he looks so small.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jan 11

Bleeeeeeeh.  A 2nd day of being shut in at home due to snow.  I think I'm missing seeing people a lot, even though I tend to not talk much.  I prefer working in the office over working from home.  At the office, you get 'er done.  Here, it drags on. 

Did a strength session last night, but I was ready to go and run today (in terms of injury).  The foot's pretty much all normal now, I think.  Yay! 

Today, the gym was 68 degrees, although after the run, it read 70.  A 4er was planned, and that's what I ended up doing.  I was a little stiff, so the joints weren't running smoothly.  Gotta stretch it out. 

Not a spectacular run, but I'm glad things are working properly.  Oh man, I needed the stress relief tonight.  Not sure why I didn't think of the exercise solution at the start... maybe b/c I was more like "blaaah... have to run" rather than like "oooh, need to run". 

4.0 in 31:34, 7:53 ave.  Splits> 8:24, 8:03, 7:45, (24:55 5k), 7:22.  Ehh... I guess it's okay considering the 20 3 days ago. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011


This review is mostly to give you my take on types of products, in terms of usability and effectiveness, rather than on flavors or particular brands. 

In general, I prefer gels to chews (with the exception of the Power Bar Gel Blast chews).  They go down easy, without the extra energy and conentration that it takes to chew while running while not biting your tongue.  A drawback is that they tend to be super sweet... almost sickeningly sweet sometimes.  So taking water with it is not only good for digestion of the sugars, but it's also amost necessary.  It's nice when it has caffeine, too, for its performance-boosting effects (  It's also pretty easy to access... rip off the top and suck.  It's dispoable.  You get a straightforward 100cal per pack.  I usually can't take a whole pack at a time... just half a pack, usually.  But that's just me... so I have to save the rest of it in my pocket for later.

Gels that I've tried...


I've had the chocolate, coffee, plain, blueberry (roctane... for a good review of the roctane product line vs. the standard Gus, see  They were all good.  I think I liked coffee the best out of those four.

Hammer Gel:

Tasted good.  Really, if I said anything about how much the vitamins or the caffeine affected me, it'd be BS without a big sample size of tests in controlled conditions.  So all I can really say is whether I liked the taste, and how easy it was to open.  Other than that, I can only just cite websites about the effects of those performance/recovery enhancers. 

Chews get hard when it' cold, making it very hard to chew.  Even when it's not cold, it sticks to your teeth.  It's also pretty sweet, so you need to wash it down with water.  It is less messy for your hands (not for your teeth) than the gels.  And its portion control is nice.... usually 6 chews per pack.  So you can access them quickly and often, if you so choose.  The exception to the sticky issue is the Power Bar Gel Blasts, which has a powdery surface and more solid chew, making it not sticky in your mouth.  The Gel Blasts are also not sickeningly sweet and are rather nice and just tangy enough to be delightful.

Clif Shot Bloks:

Shot bloks come in two packaging types.  That gives you some flexibility if your pockets are better suited for one or the other.  The long style is the newer one, and I perhaps prefer that one a bit more, since you don't necessarily have to touch multiple bloks with your hands to pick one.  I've had multiple flavors: margarita (with extra sodium), black cherry (perhaps my favorite), cola (also good).

Gu Chomps:
To me, these are not much different than the Bloks.  Sticky and very sweet.
Power Bar Gel Blast:

By far, the easiest to use and tastiest (b/c it's not sickeningly sweet and has a nice, light tartness) of the chews.  From the packaging, I'd have guessed that it was super sweet, but I couldn't even detect the gel filling, whic I'm happy for.  I've only tried one flavor - Strawberry Banana, and I really liked it.  It's powdery, so it doesn't stick to its brothers in the package.

 Jelly Belly Sport Beans:

Maybe this should have its own section, but it's close enough that I'll call it a chew.  The multiple flavors/pack in the Assorted flavor is nice, since you can mix up the sensations in your mouth.  It's small, and it's easier to just suck on them than it is to suck on the larger normal chews.  Since jelly beans have a sort of shell, it makes it more suckable, too.  It does get sticky between your teeth like the other chews, though.  I liken them to very sweet shots.

On training runs, I don't like to carry liquids, since it adds to weight and pounding.  So I only really use these when I'm a) in races, or b) biking.  The normal concentrations are supposedly ideal for ingesting the most carbs (to concentrated, and digestion actually slows down, too diluted, and you don't get as much as you potentially could).  However, I find them to be too sweet, so I dilute it... maybe about 2:1 drink:water.  It's most comfortable to me this way.  During races, I have to wash down my sports drinks with water.  I think if your body wants it that way, go ahead and do it, even if studies say that there's some other ideal concentration.


I like.  Maybe just because it seems the most high-tech to me of the standard sugars-only drinks.  Probably all in my head.  It also comes in powder form, if you want to mix your own concentration.  They also have protein versions, but I've never tried them.

Gatorade and Powerade:

I haven't tried these except in races, so I can't say very much about them.  They're fine to me, as long as they don't have High Fructose Corn Syrup.  There are different kinds, like special endurance formulas and special this and that, but I just take what they give me.

Nathan Catalyst:

It's pretty much sugar-free, so it's mostly for electrolytes.  It tastes fine, but it's missing the full kick without sugar.  If you're going long enough to need electrolyte replenishment, I'd think you'd need some glycogen replenishment, too.  Plus, this thing needs to be prepared ahead of time.  You have to put the tablet in a bottle and let it de-fizz for 30 minutes.  And they mean it.  It'll fizz for 30 minutes, whether it's in a bottle or in your tummy... best if it's in the bottle, if you know what I mean.  I made that mistake once.  Not comfortable.  I've tried it twice, but for me, no thanks.

There are different forms of protein.  You definitely should take some after hard workouts, but there's also science to suggest that it's good during long workouts (

Body Fortress Whey Powder:

Whey is great for recovery and for satiation.  When I don't have any standard protein that I can bring for lunch at work, I just bring some powder in my shaker, and I'll add water and just have that as my protein.  Why whey?
As you can see, this doc was put forth by the dairy council, but there are enough studies saying the same thing, plus my own experience, so that I'm satisfied.

Sustained Energy by Hammer:

This stuff is meant for workouts of two or more hours.  It's made up of complex carbs and some proten, mostly.  It has instructions for the standard drink mix, but it also tells you how to make a gel out of it, if you want to carry it without having to carry extra volume (although you'll still need to get that water somehow).  It's unflavored, which is a nice change from the sickening sweetness of basically most other products.  It's a bit like pancake batter, maybe due to the protein powder.  Not so much a gel but a paste.  For my first test run with it, I stuck it in a soft flask.

Maybe it was that I didn't make a large quantity, but it was hard to suck it out.  Maybe it was the fact that it was more of a paste.  The flask is probably good for either liquids or gels.  Ummm... I'm kind of tempted to just buy normal gels, since they are more portioned out and easier to suck out.  The one I have can hold 4 oz.  It does give me the option of mixing my own stuff in the future, though.

Clif Roks:

Tastes sooo good.  It's like those malt balls, with the perfect consistency and taste.  Protein and sugar.  I'll probably use this in my marathon, mostly for the protein, since I'll have plenty of sugar from the Gatorade Endurance that the race will provide.  I'd eat this just to eat it, it's so good.  Expensive, though... $3ish.  I've only had the Cookies & Cream flavor, and I'm a big fan.

Jan 8

Drinks (beet juice and tart cherry juice) all around!

At last, I've hit my last workout and can now enjoy (enjoy?) the taper phase.  I'm 3 weeks out from the race.  It was a little worrisome w/ the right foot issue, but it made it through this last workout and seems worked, but okay.  In any case, I think 3 weeks will be enough for whatever leftover kinks in it to get worked out, especially if I start the ankle-strengthening exercises.

Today was the farthest I've ever run - 20.7 miles.  It would've been 20.1, but I had to tack on an extra section so that I could use the bathroom early on.  Wouldn't want to be uncomfortable for 20 miles.  I spent some time this morning planning my fuel, since it's my last significant LR and last chance to test things out.  So I decided to mimic race-day wear and gear as much as possible:

Standard gear:
iPod Shuffle
4-pocket shorts
Singet (b/c it was cold... I'll wear it if it's cold and go w/ the sportsbra otherwise)
Brooks Trance 8 (I was originally going to go w/ the tried and true NB 1224's, but they were aggrevating the right foot again, so I used the lower-to-the-ground Trances that seemed to work fine during the speed session 2 days ago)
Arm Warmers (it was "feels like" 33 degrees when I started... it was really chilly at first but got better a mile in, and even after that, I was grateful to have the arm warmers)
Gloves (same thing as the arm warmers... usually, I don't wear these if it's 50 or above)

Before the run, I drank Beet Juice.  Why?  I don't know if it helped, but it did make my pee red, hahaha...
Immediately before the run, I got hungry, so I went ahead and ate the WW Pita and Hummus I had brought for after the run.
During the run, I had Clif Roks, which are sugars + protein.  Why?
Along those lines, I also made a concentrated paste out of Sustained Energy (Hammer product), which has complex carbs and some protein.  It's flavorless, too, so you don't have to worry about that sickeningly sweet cringe you get from normal gels.  It was good.  Without the excess sweetness of the Roks and the paste, you don't necessarily NEED water, although it is nice to have.  I put it in a gel tube (like a toothpaste tube), which was okay... except it took quite a bit of sucking at times to get it out. 
More on fuel later.. I'll probably do a review of all of the products I've tried, soon.

Injury Report:
So my foot... it was fine in the morning... like normal.  As I walked around the apt getting prepped, it started nagging a bit, but eh.  The first two 30 min-ish laps, it was fine.  But then it started cramping up.  I considered stopping the run, but I just had to get through the rest of the run, and I would've hit my target, and I could go into the taper knowing that I had done all (almost all) of the training and could be confident about the race.  Body parts seem to get worse or better on their own anyways.  It was tricky for a lap or two, but it did get a little better for the last lap or two. 

With the cold and the differet shoes (oh man, I had to adjust the laces sooo many times... going downhill or changing surfaces would create massive hotspots that would cause some mean pain until I adjusted... normally loosened... the laces... or somtimes tighten, if the firmness would help the right foot) and the foot itself, my legs didn't always have ideal mechanics or form.  But no matter.  They seem okay.  I gave them a hot shower, and they've earned some good rest and TLC. 

20.7 in 3:02:42, 8:50/mi.  Considering the lack of taper, the hills, the grass, that's probably pretty good, even though it's 30s off target MP.  The foot will get better, too.  And I'll do some more speed sharpening.

Splits> 11:54 car to b + bathroom detour, 29:25, 30:19, 30:33, 29:32, 29:00, 13:13 minilap, 8:42 car.  A little more variation than I expected, but I guess all that matters is that I finshed stronger than I started.

It was cold... immediately after the run, it was hard to move my mouth.  I had to keep my hand on my mouth as I chewed, so that I could actually feel my mouth moving.  It was tricky eating the banana.  And turning on the radio button, I had to just jab my hand in the general direction and hope that my finger hit the button.  Temps during the run: 37->34->31->28 degrees.  Brr!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jan 6

2 days ago, had Bible Study, and my PT buddy checked out my foot.  She recommended laying off of running, biking instead, and doing ankle exercises w/ the stretch band.  Since running hot water on my foot seemed to do wonders that night, she also said that that may help.

I haven't done ankle stuff yet, since I've been tired enough with other workouts, but I did have a solid strength session. I haven't reported on strength sessions in a long time, since it's almost always the same, but here was Tuesday's:
400 crunches/side
3:00 plank
100/100 adductors/abductors leg lifts
90s 6in
20 plyometric + 15 normal pushups
2 x 45 quad dips
85 body weight leg extensions
Resistance band arm exercises
Resistance band 4-way hip exercises

Yesterday, when I was considering going for a run, my foot suddenly started bothering me, so I biked instead.  That bike creates kinks all over my body, but I can get away with ~ 35 min okay, so I did a 10 min warmup, then 12 x [1 min hard (~20mph), 1 min easy (~13 mph)], then a 1 min cooldown.

Today, my legs were tired... very worked in the morning, and I thought that today may be a rest day, but after I got home, they were itching for a run.  So I put on the Brooks Trance 8's, since my foot had felt bad in the NB 1224's.  Maybe it was the big heel lift.  The 8's are lower to the ground, and lighter.  So I did a speed session.  It's been sooooo long.  6 weeks since the last treadmill interval session.  In that period, I did have a fartlek and a couple of bike interval sessions.  The fartlek's probably similar, but the not the bike.  So it was good to do it again.  It's an excellent fitness booster, with immediate results.  Unfortunately, you also lose it if you don't keep it up, but it's satisfying to do and to just finish, so there's extra incentive to do them.  Plus, it's a very efficient workout - huge fitness bang for a little time buck.

I did a 0.5 mi warmup... 1/4 mi @ 7mph, 1/4mi @ 7.5mph.  Then, 4 x [ 1/2 mi @ 9mph, 1/4 mi @ 7.5mph].  3.5 mi in 25:24 at a 1 degree incline, 7:15 ave... hey!  Nice surprise!  72 degrees.  I wore Feetures socks... not compression socks.  They are seemless and therefore comfy.  My foot feels fine for now.  Still off sometimes, but overall, improving gradually.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Jan 3

I was sore yesterday.  Felt good.  I think I lost some fitness while at Disney, since the motel had no gym.  The 4.4 gave me a good workout, though, and I'm regaining the fitness.  Today, a 6.6 that was also pushing it.  I wore oxysox and the old Evol2's again.  My right foot's slowly getting better.  Slowly.

6.6 in 51:49, 7:51 ave.  Splits> 17:57, 17:07, 16:43.  Progression! 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Year in Review

Time to analyze and synthesize!!!

First, let's take a look at my weekly mileage totals.
The green bars are weeks with 5K races, which usually include tapering, hence the reduced mileage.
The yellow bars are weeks with HMs, with some tapering but long races.

- 2009, I spent the first half of the year doing a super big mileage increase... way too fast.  I got fast quickly, but my body also crashed quickly.  My PT friend AD helped me get my running back through strength and stretching, and I also started using arch supports in my shoes, by the recommendation of another PT.  After a few months where even running 1 mi was a big deal and 5Ks felt luxurious, I slowly started to get back into running form.
- AD encouraged me to sign up for my second HM.  I was tentative at first, since I couldn't imagine doing a full HM after the long recovery.  Smart training worked, though, where I went by feel.
- The Country Music HM in April 2010 was awesome, with a 1:45ish result, besting my first one in 2008 by about 15 minutes.  I was thrilled at the result.
- I had started racing 5Ks again, with some excellent results, even in non-ideal (hot) conditions.  I experimented with various light shoes, like the Saucony Shay spikes for grass, Brooks Trance 8 for a lighter than normal shoe (feels less cushioned, more low to the ground), and the Saucony Fastwitch (nice - super light).  Got a PB of 21:02.  The latter races weren't as fast, since I was "training through" them (no taper).  Keeping up my marathon training was the goal.
- Oh yeah, so the marathon.  It was time to go for it.  I was hoping for a long enough period without injury, where I felt like I could handle the training.  As they say, "26.2 is the short part".  I chose the Houston, because it's flat and fast, and my goal is to BQ on my first marathon.  My lottery entry made it, and I was signed up.
- As a nice progress checker, I signed up for the Spinx Half Marathon.  I didn't taper all that much, but the result ended up blowing my mind anyways.  1:35ish, beating even the CM Half by about 10 minutes.  According to various prediction charts, I could potentially get a 3:22 marathon, well under the BQ standard of 3:40.  It was very encouraging.  And finally, my long-distance races lined up with the times predicted by my 1-mi and 5K races.  I was finally reaching my potential.  Getting a 3:22 would be a-mazing, but I'll be happy with a BQ, haha.
- Marathon training.  Started following my first-ever plan, based on the Runner's World / New Balance app Smart Coach.  Most plans don't offer guides if you want to do a marathon in the few miles (up to 30) that I can manage each week, let alone with the target goal time I've set.  But this is formula-based, and the results it generated seemed to make sense.  It didn't break any rules, like the 10% rule, or other rules.  It specified paces, but I didn't pay attention to them.  I'll still go by feel WRT paces.  I got in 2/3 20s so far and have another coming up.  It didn't feel like that much of a stretch to do them, which is great.
- Injury... seems to crop up a bit after the 20s.  Hopefully, it'll be okay, though.  Just be careful and keep stretching and strengthening.

Each week, there's a space for weekly notes.  Here are the notes...
1. Fuel: Was like “oh” when I saw the tracking – hope it helps and not hurts.

No intensity factor b/c my 1-hr pace is hard to say – will prob do later once I’m back to normal.

2. Fuel: focused more on protein this week, to support my strengthening, allowing me to run.

3. Worried by eating more lately, harder to feel full. Maybe mileage increase-related, hope. Lots of that from Kettlechips, though. About 7 hrs sleep/nite this week, but not restful. Immune system down? Maybe related.

Verdict’s still out about barefoot running.

4. Lower mileage, recovering from negative effects of barefoot still, but seems like I’m getting stronger muscularly. More mass/weight – probably why I was so tired and hungry this week.

5. Another week of tiredness. First month done! Ave 2.02 mi/day – est 740.6/yr at this pace. I’m happy. Expect to get stronger.

6. PT seems to actually speed up recovery post hard run? Ok.

Sore 2x this week. Strange but good?

Good training pattern emerged.

7. Start of the week was scary terrible. Seems okay now tho.

8. 2 months. Time to step it up.

9. Glad to have 2 long runs w/in a week. Used to 5’s and 8’s now? Back in old groove now – now base #2. Just have to get LR’s up to 13-15, get rid of butt issue. Good progress!

Good to play ulty again.

10. Recovering from a big last week still.

Need to be better about keeping up w/ PT – knees not great this week. Don’t blow it w/ injury.

11. Scary Tibialis Anterior under stuff episode – prob b/c all running forefoot focus this week. In future, maybe mix it up and ease into changes. Unexpected, tho.

Poor sleep this week but prob caught up over weekend. Good progress LT-wise.

Want to start working on V02!!! Next step. Good timing.

12. Going strong. Keep it up, risk mgmt til race.

13. Endurance probably all here. Besides maybe upping V02Max, just do nothing stupid.

14. Just need to get my knee better!

15. n/a

16. Numbness concerning, but otherwise should be okay.

Just need hammies to recover.

Eat well, taper, sleep well.

17. Great way to end the season! Glad to have less pressure now.

18. Need to get my rt knee back to normal, then maintain as much as I can during the hot summer. Not expecting much. Just maint, b/c it’ll be tough.

Maybe more xtrain to escape heat, give legs a break.

Races to keep motivation but don’t expect much.

19. Need to fix TA issue.

20. Boo butt… at least it’ll give my TA a break.

21. Hope to be ok to take advantage of Pton sports.

22. Amy says I shd rest to get the TA better, plus ice cup 3x/day and maybe Aspirin.

23. Mix of Pton rest, ice, stretch helping?

24. Acclimatization.

25. Wanna take better care of myself w/ icing and stretching. PT, too, I guess.

26. Decided to go for marathon in 2011. Gotta somehow build base w/o injury.

27. Think I’ve acclimatized! Decently fit, I think – intervals have helped.

28. Buildup is tough. Maybe if I run slower, I can go farther. Hard to tell how I’m doing b/c of heat.

29. Did well w/ St, I, PT this week. Started ramp-up. Hope 33% doesn’t do me in.

30. Encouraging race – acclimatized.

31. Up and then down performances this week. Can I handle a 26.2?

32. Hopeful a/b handling marathon. New strategy: slower base pace, more volume. Close to 1.5 yr ago endurance level, finally.

33. 2 weeks of feeling good inside body, plus good mileage. Houston’s official!

34. 5K PR in non-ideal conditions – great! Now to continue buildup amidst crazy work and travel…

35. Legs have changed inside – faster recovery, ready/hungry for more.

36. Plans executed well this week. Next 2 weeks will be tough due to Arg travel, though.

37. Got in miles before Arg, stuck to plan based on schedule: Int, base, LR, St.

38. Detrained, but hopefully chronic spots rested. Just build back up. Ate less than ideally, but not terrible. Just get back.

39. Followed coach’s advice of LSD w/o concern for speed. See if it works and if I can keep it up to build up.

40. Milestone week: 20 in 2 days and 25 mi/wk. Liked new Saucony paramount. Compression, icing, rolling, and self-massage worked well for milestone.

41. Seem to have been doing 2 up, 1 down for 3 cycles, inadvertently, which I just read a/b in 2 places! So don’t feel bad for drop. Keep going.

42. LR hard. This wk’s volume ridiculous.

43. Tough left Achilles issues early in the week, but managed great consecutive workouts later in week. Feel strong.

Consecutive is a different kind of workout from LR – maybe good to sub in occasionally.

44. WOW!!! (wrt Spinx). Recover and keep training – very hopeful for BQ. Training has worked!

45. Knees a bit bangy… wee bit, this week.

Recover from Spinx and get moving on the first buildup to 20!

Eating more b/c colder weather? Emotions? Increased training – probably not b/c past fullness?

46. Yeah, LR. Woot!

47. Training going very well. Surprised how well my body is handling the super LRs. Following the plan is going very well, too!

48. Yeah 20! Can’t believed I survived. Unscathed, too, it seems.

49. Nike check in terms of injury. Gotta stretch and sleep, probably. Still on track with plan, though. First cycle complete.

50. Discouraging hip issues. Gotta balance giving it time to heal and keeping up fitness. Scared a/b fitness – heart feels like it needs heavy stimulation. Got in about my target mileage, though.

51. Butt seems almost normal now. Gotta get back to stretch routine after week in Argentina. Sleep, too. May be tricky again w/ travel to FL next week.

52. Outer right foot very scary – did I ruin Houston completely? Also, no strength or real running due to travel.

53. Boo, foot. Maybe manageable, though. Gotta get fitness back and make the most of the last full week of training b/f the taper.

I was at first iffy about starting to write down everything that I eat again, but this time, it was just listing the foods, to help track nutrition.  It was actually nice, particularly in encouraging me to get in a goal 5-a-day.  Without it, I wouldn't try so hard.  It also helped to keep a general balance between grains and proteins. And it also helps to keep you from overdoing anything, when you're having to write it down at the end of the day.

Other things I started tracking...
PT Strength Exercises
Foam Rolling
All-day Compression Socks
... without tracking these, I wouldn't work as hard to do the stretching that I need.

909.1 miles in 2010 (below the 1K goal, but that's okay... next year).
2.49 mi/day, average.
5D + 4:52:42 of running this year, 22.8 minutes average per day.
3D + 0:16:30 of other training this year, 11.9 minutes average per day.
8D + 5:09:12 of total training this year, 34.7 minutes average per day.
Doesn't seem like an unreasonable amount of time exercising, does it?  Less than 35 minutes per day!
Average pace of my runs... 8:15/mi.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Jan 1

First run of the year!
I was originally going to bike, since my right foot is still messed up.  Wearing shoes (normally, I go around the house barefoot) felt more comfortable, though, so I went out in an old pair of Asics Gel Evolution 2's.  The first pair that I ever got (I've had 4 total).  I was slow.  I don't know if it's the heat/humidity (even on New Year's day), or if I'm out of shape.  Some heat, is my guess, but also probably some out of shapedness.  I only ran once in the past week, up until today's run.  It was a 15.5 that I eeked out on a bad foot (which is probably why this is taking a while to heal?  although maybe moving/working it helps a little?), but still.  My heart was working hard.  I probably should've gone farther than I did (4.4 mi), but I was tired since it had been so long since my last run, and I didn't want to risk any further damage.  Maybe I'll do a bike session later today, or schedule a 6.6 for tomorrow.

It felt good to move again, thouh.  Strange that running is more comfortable than walking.  Out in a sports bra even on Jan 1st... nice.

4.4 in 34:52, 7:55.  Forgot to get the split.


Got in a 30 min biking session before making a special New Year's dinner for my family. 
First, the biking session.  I like my CHS subdivision's recumbent bike.  It gives you a good range of motion and good, smooth resistance.  I did 30 minutes, covering 244 Cal, 8.8 mi, with a HR going from 138 to 172bpm.  It was a tough, good sweat session. 

For dinner, I made a Tofurkey Roast, which comes with brown rice stuffing and gravy, to which you add sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots.  I also made Broccoli as a side dish to add some color and provide the meal's Vitamin C.  It was really good, especially with green tea.