Sunday, May 22, 2011

7.9 From the Bulgarian Judge

Today's run was 1:40, the same as last week. My pace was slightly faster than last week's and I generally felt good throughout the run. I started slowly and finished on a fast note. It was one of those days where I wished that today was race day instead of it being five weeks off. The weather started off on the warm and humid side. I ended up having to take my first drink at around 22 minutes instead of at the normal 30-minute point. After that I ran mostly in the shade and took my normal stops at 30, 60, and 90 minutes. The weather also started to cool off as clouds moved in. Toward the end of my run it sprinkled

For the next two weeks I'll run for 1:50. Then it will be the last big run for exactly two hours. Since I started running for 90 minutes earlier this month, I've gone on a flatter course that more closely resembles Munich than the hillier course that I also train on. I'll also keep my "Diabetic's Delight" refueling combination for the race. A Diabetic's Delight is Gummi Bears and diluted Gatorade. Gummi Bears seem to stave off the hunger better than Power Bars or Shot Blox.

I would like to say that today's run was uneventful, but it wasn't. As I was heading downhill on a side trail off the bike path that parallels the main road to Austria, I tripped over a large rock and fell. It was just after I turned for home on an out-and-back course, so I was almost as far from home as I could be. At least the trail was empty, so I didn't have to worry about any injuries to my pride in addition to physical ones. That's what I get for daydreaming! The combination of daydreaming, a naturally short stride, and not lifting my feet high enough on longer runs when trying to keep a slower pace was a "perfect storm" for a fall.  I landed on my right side with the impact on the outside of my right leg and forearm and also on both hands. The first thing that I noticed was all of the mud on my arm, leg, and hands. This past week there have been daily thundershowers, which made the trail muddy. The mud just didn't want to come off, even with with using my shirt to wipe off. I looked more like a mountain biker who had finished a long muddy trail ride than a runner. After checking for blood under the mud, and finding none, I carried on with my run. I was able to run back home without any problems or anything hurting. When I got home I cleaned up and found bruises on my forearm, the outside of my right knee, and on my butt around where the top of the IT band would be. I figured that fall would rate a 7.9 from the Bulgarian judge with most of the deductions for having unpointed toes and zero blood.

Next week I won't be running on that trail. It has nothing to do with taking a fall. That trail isn't long enough for me to run in for 55 minutes. When I do runs between 90 and 100 minutes and don't need to run hills, I'll be back on it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How I Know I'm a Real Runner

There have been many lists over the years in running books, magazines, and websites about how you know if you're a real runner. Here is my list. It's more applicable to distance runners, at least in my opinion.

* Energy bars or gels, sport drinks, and ibuprofen are their own separate food groups.
* The ice in the freezer is not for keeping drinks cold. It's for putting on sore spots after a long run.
* Ice is a miracle substance.
* Gummi Bears are not junk food. They are a great fuel source on long runs.
* You don't care if your shorts and shirt match when you go out for a run. You wear whatever is at the top of the pile.
* You forget to pick up milk on the way home from work but remember the time of your first 5K race back in 1989 (30:17).
* Songs are divided into two categories: those that are good to run to and those that aren't.
* You get more excited about the latest model from Ascics (or Nike, Saucony, New Balance, etc.) than over Jimmy Choos.
* Running in the rain is good training. If it's raining on race day (always a good possibility in Germany), you're prepared for it.
* You make fun of people who buy 6 of the same item because they're on sale. But you think it's perfectly normal to buy 6 pairs of your favorite running shoes when you hear that they're being discontinued.
* A massage stick is an essential item.
* You know what your IT band is and where it's located.
* You own more race t-shirts, technical shirts, running shorts, and tights than any other type of clothing.
* Murphy's Law of warm weather running: Any spots where you didn't put Vaseline on before running will get chafed. It doesn't matter if they never got chafed in the past.
* You think that a preschooler wiping his nose on his sleeve is disgusting. But you use your shirt, glove, or jacket as a Kleenex while on the run and think nothing of it.
* You actually want to be older. Last week's 10K time which placed you 6th in your age group would have been good enough for 2nd place in the next age group.
* You buy your regular clothing on sale or in the bargain bin, but don't have any qualms about paying full price for running shoes.
* Five km (3.1 miles) is a good warm-up.
* You own more items that go in the delicate wash cycle than a Victoria's Secret model.
* After making airline reservations to the States, the first thing you do is check the race calendar in the cities where you're staying.
* You think that a finisher's medal for a 5K race is over the top.
* You think that Fantasy Football or Baseball are stupid, but believe that a Fantasy Run is a cool idea and good motivation.
* A 10-mile (16 km) run is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wacky Weather Week and Running In Segments

This week the weather has been crazy.  I had to run in the afternoons on Wednesday and Friday because of being on the early shift all week. We had a warm spell and I felt really sluggish on my shorter runs because of the warm temperatures and humidity. On Friday I stopped every 15 minutes for a drink, and I only ran about 6 km. It was in the low 20s C (70s F), but it felt much hotter because most of my route was in the sun. Because of the humidity, it felt like I was running through Jell-O. I was also slower than usual, but that's to be expected when the mercury rises.

Today it was about 5 C (41 F) and had rained earlier in the morning. Since it was threatening to rain again, I wore my rain suit over a pair of lightweight tights and a long-sleeved technical shirt. What's the best way to insure that it won't rain during a long run? Wear a rain suit. I spent most of my run wishing that I had left the suit at home. My Gore-Tex suit is great for keeping me dry, but I bake in it. It has been a very trusty running suit though. I bought it at half price just before moving to Germany in 1992. It was on the 50% off rack because it was the previous year's model. A couple of the pocket zippers no longer work, and the Velcro on the jacket's wrists has been sewn back on a couple of times. In addition to wearing it in the rain, it's also my winter running suit. Needless to say, the jacket has been used a lot over here. I mainly wear the pants in either very cold weather or rain.

Today's run of 1:40 was a good one. I'm right where I want to be at this point before the Munich City Run half-marathon (26 June). The calf problems that plagued me earlier this year have disappeared. It was an almost perfect run. I started slowly and picked up the pace as the run went on. My finish was fast. It's always fun to end a run with a short sprint and my late running partner Bill's voice in my ear saying, "Let's practice our half-marathon finish" and "Are you going to let an old man beat you?" When I finished in my driveway, I could almost feel one of Bill's post-run hugs. He always gave hugs to the women in our group after a long training run.  My right knee is bothering me a little bit. But I'll put some ice on it and it should feel fine again.

One of the tricks that I learned from Bill is breaking up long runs into smaller segments. Bill used to say that a marathon was not one 26-mile run. It was really running 1 mile 26 times. For those readers who use the metric system, it would be running 1 kilometer 42 times. I do that trick with my long runs. Instead of saying that I'm going to run 50 minutes out and then 50 back, I break up my runs into segments. There are certain landmarks that I use for my checkpoints. The checkpoints are between 3 and 10 minutes apart. That system really helps on the return leg of a long run, when my legs are tired and starting to feel like they're made of lead instead of bone and muscle. Instead of thinking that I have 43 more minutes to go, I tell myself that it's only 6 minutes until I cross the main road, between 6 and 7 minutes until I re-cross the main road and go through part of the town of Grainau, then about 9 minutes from there to the Aldi market, then 4 minutes until the turn onto the road that takes me to the bike trail that leads back home. Even the bike trail is broken up into segments because partway through I have to cross a small road. The road is a natural checkpoint.

This next week is also supposed to be another strange one. It will start off cool and rainy and will end sunny and warm. The Alps are definitely not Southern California, where the weather is usually warm and doesn't change much. At least I'll be back on my normal work schedule this week and will be able to run in the mornings when it's nice and cool. Next week's long run will be another one at 1:40.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The 90-Minute Mark

Today I ran for 90 minutes and felt pretty good afterward. I've caught up to where I want to be at this point before the Munich City Run. My legs actually feel better today than they did last week, when I ran 80 minutes. There are two good reasons for that: 1) I started wearing new shoes earlier this week. It was time for the old ones to be retired; and 2) Last week I ran on a hilly course and went faster than I probably should have. Today I went on a flat course, which is more like how Munich will be. I also took the first half of the run very slowly and really forced myself to keep the pace slow.

My run was close to perfect. I started off slowly and held the slow pace for the first half. One of my problems is that I start turning on the speed too soon on my long runs. I'll look at my watch at an early checkpoint, tell myself that I'm slow, then speed up too much. My former running partner Bill used to tell me that the word "slow" was not part of my vocabulary. Today I gradually increased the pace as the run went on instead of starting quickly. I even had enough energy for a fast final 200 meters. After I finished, I still felt like I could have run some more.

My son took the last of our Gummi Bears with him when he went skiing today. I've been using Gummi Bears as fuel along with diluted Gatorade for about a year. Instead of the Gummis, I brought a Power Bar with me. Gummi Bears must expand in my stomach because they seem to cut the hunger pretty well. Even with taking bites of the Power Bar, I was still hungry. In the past I would get hungry at the one-hour mark. When I felt hungry today, I looked at my watch. It said 58 minutes, which is close enough to an hour. But even after a couple of bites of Power Bar and a good drink of Gatorade, I was still starving. It didn't help matters at the 1:14 mark when Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf" started playing on my iPod. I told myself that I was close to home to keep my mind off of my hunger.  I felt like the plant in "Little Shop of Horrors" that kept saying, "Feed me!" When I got home I finished the Power Bar and Gatorade and felt less hungry.

A couple of months ago I would never have thought that I would make it to this point because of calf problems. At one point during today's run I felt a small twinge in my left calf, but it went away within about 20 seconds. Now I'm feeling that I'll be able to do the City Run next month without any problems. As it gets closer to race day, I'll go online and register for it. Next week's long run will also be 90 minutes on the same course.