Sunday, March 16, 2008

Week 11 – Training Report

Finally, back to normal! After lots of snow, tapering for the first race of the season, over-eating and under-running, things are getting back to normal. Hopefully the weather will improve too soon, so we can all enjoy running outdoors a bit more.

S: The week started with the Shamrock 15K race, so 10 very fast miles.
M: 1 mi up and down the street, recovering.
T: 1 mi with Liz, then to Columbia road and back, 7 mi. Fitness in the evening.
W: Run with Dan, the old “around the Rec Center route” in reverse. Go through Brecksville, then 82, get into Metroparks, and back to Brecksville road (21) via Parkway. Total 6.4 miles.
T: Rest, rain, lousy day. I was tired, skipped fitness.
F: Rest, in anticipation of tomorrow’s “aided” training run.
S: Vertical runner organized 14 mi. “aided” run. The alarm went on at 6:00 am (unexpectedly) so I decided to show up and run with the 6:30am group. Surprisingly, there were about 15 runners at 6:30. It was very dark, thanks to the time change. The temperature was around freezing. Did 2.5 miles with this group and back to Peninsula for the 7:00am regular group.

An amazing high number of 35 runners showed up for the "aided run". “Aided run” means that there are planned water/food stops during the run. This was a very challenging route (see map): Riverview to Boston (not exactly easy, a big hill early on) and then a loop taking the left road up (Hines Hill Road, huge hills there), then Bike & Hike trail (icy, aid station #1 in the entry) and back to Boson through Boston Mills road (mostly downhill). Then Riverview to Stine Road. Aid station #2 was there. Until this point I was doing great. My pace was 8 min miles or faster, and I was leading the pack at some point, ahead of “Vertical Vince”. But at Stine Road, at mile 10, I collapsed, so to speak. Going up Stine was slow for me, icy, and I even walked a bit. Another loop and back through Major road, to Riverview road and Peninsula. At some point, Rose and her running partner passed me, so I started running fast again, behind them. I made it to Peninsula, tired but happy. My mile splits for the 14 mile part of the run were: 8:52, 7:35, 7:56, 8:21 (hills in this and next mile), 8:15, 7:57, 7:59, 7:45 (downhill!), 8:37, 9:13 (Stein road struggle starts here), 9:35, 9:29, 7:31 (fast downhill, trying to keep up with Rose etc), 8:05, 8:03. This kind of “training run” is almost a tempo run for me. It not comfortable, easy running. It is tough!

Total for the week: 42 miles, 171 lbs.

A note about my weight: I managed to do fine all winter, maintaining my weight around 166-168 lbs, but things broke loose 2 weeks ago. I have gained about 3 lbs, which are now well-settled in (see graph on the right). I weigh myself every morning, but these daily numbers do not mean much, so I average my weight for the week and I pay attention to this number, which I plot on a graph. Talking about being obsessed with weight!

Well, yes, I am. I was 225 lbs when I started running. I have been hovering around 175 lbs since 2002. Last year I followed a diet, supervised by my wife, and dropped to 165 lbs. My running and running times improved quite a bit. There is a clear relationship between running performance and weight. The less the weight, the better the performance. (Yes, there is a limit to this, but this statement applies to 90% of all recreational runners.) I would like to drop to 160 lbs and eventually to 150 lbs, to optimize my race times/ performance. This is my long term goal, and that’s why I am paying close attention to my weight.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Shamrock 15K 2008 - Race Report

After a terrible snowstorm in Cleveland, we woke up to a sunny but cold day. The Shamrock 15K race was at 12 noon, so there was time to clear the streets, and they did a great job in the race area. Dan called and needed a ride because he could not get his car out, so the 4 of us, Dan, my wife Liz, daughter Lea and myself, headed for the race start.

[<--- This is Cleveland March racing weather for you... My wife took this picture. She was late so I had to go back and pretend I am finishing. I have a slightly annoyed look (click at picture to enlarge) because it took her several tries to take this simple picture :)]

We (Dan and myself) went first for the 15K. This is a hard course with very few flat sections. It starts with rolling hills, then a downhill, then a bit flat, and, at mile 5, a very steep uphill, followed by more rolling hills but mostly uphill. Combined with the cold weather, winds, etc., this race is not exactly a "walk in the park"!

I was doing great for the first 4 miles: 6:37 6:52 6:48 6:53. And then started the uphill struggle: 8:09 7:30 7:28 7:19 7:12. Dan and company passed me around mile 6 but I kept within eye distance behind. I really gave everything I had in this race, and my final time was 1:07:34, a new PR for this course!!!

2004 - 1:12:56 (7:47 pace), 63/156, 10/16 age
2005 - 1:12:10 (7:42 pace), 69/192, 11/26 age
2006 - 1:11:17 (7:36 pace), 77/233, 13/32 age
2007 - 1:08:16 (7:17 pace), 35/155, 8/25 age
2008 - 1:07:34 (7:13 pace). 29/152, 4/22 age

Mile - 2006 - 2007 - 2008
1 – 6:54 - 6.32 - 6:37
2 – 7:18 - 6:53 - 6:52
3 – 7:19 - 6:46 - 6:48
4 – 7:33 - 7:01 - 6:53
5 – 8:33 - 8:10 - 8:09
6 – 8:04 - 7:42 - 7:30
7 – 7:55 - 7:39 - 7:28
8 – 7:49 - 7:26 - 7:19
9 - ?.?? - 7:28 - 7:12

Comparing 2008 with 2007, it looks like most of the improvement came from miles 6 to 9, i.e. from the harder part of the race. That's interesting...

[<--- Wife Liz receives her 1st place age award! By the time I got my award, they knew how to pronounce our last name!]

[<--- Wife and daughter with their awards]

We stayed around for the awards. First, my daughter got 3rd place in her age group (F, 15-19) and then my wife got first place in her age group (F, 45-49). But don't get too excited... There were only 3 and 2 runners in their perspective groups :). My daughter's 5K time: 34:19 (I had predicted 36 so she did better than expected). My wife's 5K time: 28:01, only 1 minute slower than her Fall 5K, in a harder course, not bad!

I got an award too! (They went 5 deep in the awards for this age group).

My friend Dan finished 2nd in his age group (50-54) with 1:06:35. It is interesting that the 4 in our car got 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place awards! So we all went home happy. My daughter headed back to college and she says she will be running 3 miles a couple of times a week, to get ready for more races.

[<--- The happy running family]

Overall, this day was great fun, except, as Dan noted, for the actual running part :) which was a torture. Anyway, I am pleased that I improved my time in this course. It was unexpected. Looks like our next race is the Spring Classic in Strongsville, 1/2M for me, 5K for wife (and maybe daughter?) I really hope that Spring will come soon because I am getting sick and tired of this weather!!!

Week 10 - Training Report

Another one of these “bad” weeks with little running and plenty of eating, but this time I had an excuse: The weather was bad (at least on Friday and Saturday) and I was tapering for the Shamrock 15K race on Sunday.

The week started (S) with 6 easy miles, 2.3 of which were with my daughter Lea. M, 2.5 miles, again part of them with Lea. I also went to fitness class this day. W: 6 miles to Columbia road and back. T: 3 miles, hit the wall at this point. F & S: No running. We had a terrible snow storm that lasted from Friday to Sunday morning. South Brecksvlle (that's us!) got 20 inches of show. I must have shoveled snow a dozen times. My back was/is hurting!!!

Total for the week = 23 miles, average weight = 171 lbs (+2 from last week!)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Shamrock 15K Personal History and Time Goal

I have run the Shamrock 15K 4 times now. Here is my history:

2004 – 1:12:56 (7:47 pace), 63/156, 10/16 age
2005 – 1:12:10 (7:42 pace), 69/192, 11/26 age
2006 – 1:11:17 (7:36 pace), 77/233, 13/32 age
2007 – 1:08:16 (7:17 pace), 35/155, 8/25 age

As you can see, I have been steadily improving my time every year, by about 1 minute from 04 to 05 and 06 and then a large jump, 3 minutes improvement last year!

My goal, as with any race, is to improve my best course time. I think it will be difficult this year because 1) I did great last year, 2)I feel that I am not in good shape (no running last week, gaining weight, etct) plus 3) the weather/course conditions might be a problem this year. I will do my best nevertheless.

My times per mile in the last two years (last year it was sunny and 40F)

Mile - 2006 - 2007
1 – 6:54 - 6.32 - First 3 miles mostly downhill
2 – 7:18 - 6:53
3 – 7:19 - 6:46
4 – 7:33 - 7:01 - Mostly flat
5 – 8:33 - 8:10 - HUGE hill here! – Most people walk this - I run it :)
6 – 8:04 - 7:42 - Rolling hills follow...
7 – 7:55 - 7:39
8 – 7:49 - 7:26
9 - ?.?? - 7:28
Pace at last 0.4 miles in 2007 - 6:51

It looks like I ran consistently 15 to 30 seconds faster per mile in 2007 vs. 2006. There is no deep strategy here, just stronger & faster running overall.

I have access to my race reports from the previous two years. It is interesting what I wrote in 2006: “My friend Dan did much better with 1:08:21 and he won 5th place in his age group. Maybe next year if I am 10 pounds lighter I might be able to run as fast as Dan.” Well, as it turns out, I did run as fast as Dan, even though I was the same weight. This year I am 5 lbs lighter. Dan is running too (he skipped last year) but he is much better than 2 years ago.

My Running Family!

I “discovered” running in 2001. With typical enthusiasm, I jumped into running with both legs. But somehow I failed to transmit this enthusiasm to the rest of my family. The few times I brought up the possibility of running, they all declared with one voice that they “HATE running!”

I believe that you can lead by example, but you cannot push someone do something that YOU like. They have to discover things on their own. No one pushed me to play sports, get interested in science, take stereo pictures, or start running… I might have not taken up these interests if my parents insisted I did.

So, I was thrilled when my wife started running last year. She went from walking in the treadmill, to running for short times, then running a mile on the treadmill and then running outside up and down the street for a mile. At first she claimed that she was running for fitness only, and she did not really enjoy running. But, things changed soon and I talked her (with some difficulty I must admit) into signing up for her first 5K race (Buckeye, August 2007) And then her 2nd 5K, Fall Classic, where she won a 3rd place award!

Now we are starting the local racing season with the Shamrock 5K/15K and she agreed to signing up for the 5K. Of course I had to make promises and lie a bit, to get her to do this. I told her that the course is flat (it is not!) and I promised that the weather will be great, as it has been in past races (unfortunately, a blizzard is predicted, and bitter cold on running day!)

But the big surprise came from my daughter! She saw me completing the race application and was curious about it. When I explained what this was, she said "I want to run too!" That’s great! The problem is, she has never ran more than 1 mile! So I have been taking her out running this week... The longest she has made it so far is 2.3 miles. She is taking walking breaks but is determined to finish the race, even if she has to walk.

Her average time is 10 min/mile running and 12 min/mile including the walking breaks. I am predicting a 36 min 5K time for her Last year there were only two female runners in her age group (15 to 19). I am telling her, with a little luck, she can even win an award! My wife can do better of course with a 25:55 PR under her belt. But she insists that they will cancel the race because of the weather!

Right now, my daughter’s main problem is what to wear on race day :) She wants to look cute in a new outfit. So this race is going to cost us a bit more than the race entry. She is going shopping with her mom tomorrow… That’s OK. It is worth it!

Now, we need to get our son interested in running! This turn of events has been unexpected and very exciting for me… We are now a running family!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Week 9 - Training Report

By all means, this was a terrible week, running-wise! Not only did I run very little (no running from Monday to Friday) but also ate a lot and gained a couple of pounds!

The week started OK with a slow (9:30 min/mile) 7 mile slow run with my wife (Snowville to Columbia and back, with a little bit in Echo Hills) on Sunday. Monday, a busy day, only one mile up and down the street. And that was it until Saturday!

We had a lot of snow this week. It was snowing on Tuesday so not only I did not run, I also did not go for Fitness. On Wednesday I was busy finishing the (stereo club) newsletter. I did go to see two 3d movies (see my 3d blog: I was going to run on Thursday but I took a nap and woke up late :). I was also going to run on Friday but I drove to Toledo to pick up Lea and when I came back it had snowed and the roads were bad.

So, here we are on Saturday, fresh, and out of shape! The early group met at 6:30 for just 2.5 miles around the snow-covered local streets. The regular group started at 7:00 (time moved ½ hour earlier). We went from Lock 29 to Akron Peninsula Rd, right on Bolanz, then to Ira, Oak Hill, Everett, River Road and back to Lock 29. Dan wanted to add a few more miles but the pace was fast for me and I was getting tired so I settled for 12 miles, or a total of 14.5 for the day at 2:04 (8:30 pace). My mile splits: 9:38, 9:28, 9:26, 8:39, 8:24, 8:09, 8:17, 8:24, 8:15, 8:16, 8:28, 7:59, 8:53, 8:13, 7:29

Total for the week = 23 miles, average weight = 169 lbs

My mileage has been going down and weight has been going up. I am getting a bit nervous regarding the Shamrock 15K race next week. Should I run lots of miles this week, or take it easy?