Thursday, August 17, 2017

The challenge

The run today was fairly brutal-made the mistake of not getting out early enough to at least offset some of the sun's heat. In the woods and on the trails of the Carolina Beach State Park it's somewhat tolerable when running an easy pace. But when I did 6 x :30 at around 5k pace I felt like I was about to faint near the end of each burst.

Nonetheless I survived. And it can't be too much longer as the calendar hits the back side of August until we will get somewhat of a reprieve from the nearly intolerable and incessant humidity and subsequent heat indexes we've been enduring the past several weeks. Fall can't get here a moment too soon.

But there is camaraderie in our collective suffering-we runners commiserate and also find ways to persevere. We adapt, and grow stronger-and perhaps can appreciate the changes in season a little more than lay people when they do finally arrive.

Truth be told, it also gives us a little something extra to rally against. For if all of this was easy, I suspect we might move onto something a little more challenging.

Run on my people, through whatever mother nature and life throws at ya...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Dog Days

August in coastal North Carolina. Damn near intolerable humidity-an invisible wet blanket in the sky. Runs become slogs, exercises in survival. Pace is almost irrelevant. Shorts, socks, shoes are soaked half way into runs. Yes-the dog days of summer are here once again.

Sunday I ran 75 minutes, mostly on the trails of the Carolina Beach State Park. The last few miles I felt like I was barely moving. By the time I got done my pulse was racing-close to 180. I comforted myself somewhat by the fact that at least I wasn't training for a fall marathon or ultra this year. And reached out with some words of encouragement on social media to many of my friends in the local running community who are several weeks into their respective marathon training plans.

Got up early Tuesday and ran the 8.4+ mile Copas Road loop in Shallotte from my Dad's house. Enjoyable run, and did beat some of the worst heat by getting out there at 6:30am as the sun was just beginning to rise. And was blessed with beautiful views out over the marshes and Shallotte river near where she empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

Threw in 6 x 150 in/ and out striders in the last two miles of the run. Which did get the heart rate real elevated again. Want to get in 40 miles this week, which will be my first 40 mile week since early June. Spent some time yesterday reviewing my training log from the first half of 2017. Think I may have tapped somewhat unwittingly into a formula for success-built off the Jack Daniels workouts in his 5-15k plan, combined with long runs I was doing at the time to prepare to pace the Wrightsville Beach marathon, and help Amie train for her own WB marathon race.

Instead of doing 90 minute long runs as called for in the plan, I was doing 17, 18, 20 milers, at a pace say a good minute and a half or more below my marathon pace. This I did during the first 2 months of the JD plan, after which my long runs returned to more "normal" lengths or time spent running.

Who knows right?  But interesting food for thought.  And we are always learning...

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ny running

Got some runs in this week in the Albany NY area-enjoyed the cooler temps and much lower humidity. Did a harder 4.5+ mile progression run late Monday afternoon. Was cloudy and sixty seven degrees, though was a bit windy. First time since July 22nd XC race that I have run harder for any sustained distance-felt good to knock off some rust.

Also got five striders in near the end of the run-5 seconds in, 10 seconds down, 5 seconds out. Starting to incorporate into runs, likely about every other day (or run).  Got up real early Wednesday-started the run at 5:20am under the cover of darkness, and an air temperature of 54 degrees that almost made this southern runner salivate heading out the door. In the second half of the run incorporated 5 x 25 seconds at about mile pace.

Friday I was back in North Carolina, and back running in my beloved Carolina Beach State Park. A little under five easy miles, with 6 striders on the roads headed back home.

Priming my fast twitch muscles and leg turnover to get back into another Jack Daniels training plan this fall. Hit weekly mileage total of low thirties last week, and on par for about the same or slightly more this week. Feel good, and ready to let her rip a bit more soon.  Increased mileage and intensity.

Plus its XC season soon. Been diligently planning and working-and hope to be ready to go for our first official practice Aug 30th. Going to run again this Saturday with the Cape Fear Distance Project. Hope a few more kids will come out.

Goal is Tallahassee in December, and the USATF National JO XC Championships. Think we have a good shot to qualify several individual runners, and hopefully a team or two.

In the words of my dear friend and fellow coach up in Jacksonville NC Joe Lancaster- "giddy up!"

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


The last few weeks I have been mainly just doing some easier paced runs varying in length from say five to about eight plus miles. Trying to get back onto the trails and softer surfaces as much as I can, especially when I'm at my home in Carolina Beach.

Did race hard two Saturdays ago at the Battle of the Border event-which is a cross country race between my Wilmington Road Runners Club, and our brethren to the south, The Grand Strand Running Club based out of Myrtle Beach. Ended up running six and a half miles at Indigo Farms, as a large pack of us at the front got lost.

Raced the first three miles hard-the first two miles around 6:50, and the third sub 6:30. Conditions weather wise were abhorrent, with a race time temperature (8:30am) approaching ninety, combined with humidity levels above ninety percent. In fact one runner had to be taken off the muddy dirt and high grass trails in an ambulance-fortunately he was ok.

The last three miles I and a pack of "lost" runners ran an average of a low seven minute per mile pace. My Club won-a squeaker-and reclaimed the title, which makes us three for five in the annual affair. My legs, especially my hamstrings were definitely feeling some after effects. But all for a good cause, and some smashing old school fun. Finishers are given popsicle sticks to make their places.

Hit the farm Sunday evening, and some of the adjacent neighborhoods, and the Carolina Beach State Park Monday morning. What beautiful conditions too- as mother nature granted us a most unusual reprieve-with temps in the sixties and seventies, and much lower humidity rates.

Only ran a hundred miles in July-so I'm starting to get the itch to get back into more of a training mode. Will do so probably in two weeks. I get a bit squirrelly mentally when on some down running, but I know its important for my long term running health.

So for now I bide my time, and look ahead with eager eyes to the latter part of summer, and another fall running season.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Tri-Span 10k

Brutal. One word is all that is needed to describe the weather conditions for the race this year. Even at 7am-gun time-the temperature was 80 degrees in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. But coupled with humidity rates well into the 90s, the heat index was 90 degrees. Almost impossible to run hard for any amount of time or distance, let alone race ten kilometers.

But we did. Like we do every year. As a friend from my local running club aptly stated-its the race we all love to hate. Short rolling hills, and three elevated bridge crossings just add to the sadistic challenge of the annual event.

I clocked a time of 41:05, my slowest there in three years. Though good enough to win top master's for the third straight year, and a top ten overall finish of 8th place out of 300+ intrepid racers. Much props to us all for getting it done.

And I wanted to bag it about half way in. Plan was to try and break 40 minutes here, which I have only done once several years ago, when miraculously the weather was tolerable. If memory serves cloudy and about 70.

Not this year. The humidity just lays like a wet sponge along the Cape Fear River, which the course crosses over twice, and pretty much parallels the entire six plus miles.

Started out ok- mid six minute miles the first two, then coming off the first bridge and downhill I tried to lay down the hammer. Third mile of 6:08 though kind of did me in-for when I got into the "killing fields", and exposed area in the blazing sun, near the Battleship Memorial, I felt like I had already just about emptied the tank. Not a good feeling with two to three miles, and two more uphill bridges to climb to go.

But I battled the voices that told me to bag it, quit, etc.-though it wasn't too pretty as I ran hi six minute miles into the finish. Held my place though, and upon sober reflection, I did pretty much about all I could do. It was also my third summer race in seven days, on top of multi-state travel-could tell early on my legs didn't have too much pop, and that I am due for a break.

It's also nice to get humbled yet again by the sport I so dearly love.

Friday, June 23, 2017

1st half 2017: wrapping her up

I started following a plan in Jack Daniel's book Running Formula back in the end of January- a general 5k to 15k training schedule. For the most part I followed the weekly progression of the workouts, as he lists either two or three specific ones, as workout 1,2 etc. One of the bigger differences I did make, was to extend what would be a 7 day typical runner's week, to a ten day week-once I hit the third phase of four, and the weeks contained three quality workouts.

This I did after having a conversation with Rick Pop over breakfast after we had volunteered at a local Wilmington half marathon. Not right after- as I was in phase 2 then. But it served to remind me that as older runners (he's 51, I'm 43), we need to allocate more rest and recovery into our schedules-much different then say what a twenty something year old would do. Plus I recalled reading that the great marathoner Meb K does this. So if it works for him...

And most everything I do revolves around recovery. That is, before I engage in a workout, a series of runs, race, etc. etc.- I need to know when and where the recovery will occur. If not, a good bit of the strenuous effort put forth running hard can be wasted. Or not as maximized as fitness gains, without the proper recovery and if needed, complete rest.

The one other tweak to the plan that I did involved the weekly long run.  The plan calls for a 2 hour long run every week- which for most people like myself I ran on a Sunday morning. I paced the Wrightsville Beach marathon (3:40) March 25th, which made it necessary for my long runs to be longer leading up to. After, and wanting some level of recovery, and a mental respite from such long runs- I usually kept them under an hour and thirty to an hour and forty five minutes.

But in summation- I loved this plan and exceeded some my own expectations and goals road racing. The highlights were 37:54 at the Cooper River Bridge 10k in Charleston, SC (also a week after pacing the marathon). And a 17:41 at the Teacher Trot 5k in Wilmington, NC. (which got me 3rd OA in a pretty fast and deep local field).

I have a few more summer races, two next weekend mainly for adventure and fun with Amie, as we are heading to Maryland and West Virginia to continue on our quest to run a race in all 50 states. The hard workouts, harder training though I am wrapping up-and I can sense, especially mentally that I am ready for an elongated reprieve from the more arduous demands of our sport. Plus its getting quite hot, and the humidity as been through the roof in coastal NC.

Happy summer running all-enjoy, and be safe! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Soggy fun

Been enjoying the past two runs that I have taken. Not that I don't always enjoy running-but I'm at a point in my running schedule (long term) where I'm easing out of a period of harder training. Less worry about weekly mileage, paces, all those good things we as runners keenly focus on-and more in tune with the aesthetics and simple pleasures of the individual runs.

For instance I got up early this morning to put in some easy miles, predominately in the Carolina Beach State park. Quite humid at 6:30am, and a brief but real heavy downpour swept across the island. The rains slackened as I headed out-first looping a section of the boardwalk adjacent to the beach and the always majestic Atlantic Ocean.

Later I splashed my way through some of the single track trails-enjoying the sights and smells of a sopping wet wilderness which I traipsed through. I had an hour to spend doing that which I love, and was in no particular hurry for it to come to an end. Blessed indeed are those fortunate enough for such daily communions.

As I've said and written before-running in something we can fall in love with time and time again.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Blueberry Festival 5k

7am gun time in the sleepy small town of Burgaw, North Carolina. Awoke to a thunderstorm about 4:30am, but skies cleared well before the start of the race-but the humidity stayed put. Such is summer running in the south.

Finished with a gun time of 18:00.5-though my garmin had the course at 3.15mi, and the consensus of some friends who ran was that the course ran a bit long (anywhere from 3.15-3.20). I mention gun time, since I'm hoping if/when chip times are posted later that I'll be under the 18 minute barrier for the second straight 5k race.

Very pleased with splits and overall effort. 5:50, 5:43, 5:41, 5:20 (pace)- couldn't script much better. Positive adjustment from going out too fast two weeks ago in a four mile race in warm conditions (first mile 5:41, fell back in 2nd and 3rd miles to low 6s).

Finished 5th OA and 1st 40-44 M. Some fast times at the front-top 3 males all in the 16s.

Post race at the town festival treated to fresh blueberries, a blueberry muffin, and brought home some blueberry cobbler for later.

Next up a 5 mile race Sunday July 2nd in Columbia, MD. Next step in the race all 50 states quest.

Run on my friends...