Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Run on

Into week3 of phase II of the Jack Daniels 5-15k Training Plan. Long view- its month 1 of a 7.5+ month trek to Boston.

Today's workout 3 x 10 minutes LT pace w/ 3 minute recovery jogs. Another challenging workout-in fact they are all tough, challenging workouts, which not only build my physical conditioning but mental fortitude as well. Its not easy-nor should it be. If I want to achieve maximum results, I need to give maximum efforts.

So I try to take them one workout at a time, one week at a time. And inside the workouts, 1 rep at a time, and inside of each rep 1 minute at a time (or even smaller time/ distance increments)

Pace during the LT work bouts averaged about 6:20- a shade slower than what my target of 6:10 would be. But I'm pleased and fine being right there, as my fitness naturally dropped off a bit during the second half of the summer when I was running easy with much reduced volume.

Plus it is still end of the summer in the south like weather, though this morning wasn't too bad with temperatures in the low to mid seventies and tolerable humidity levels

Headed to Colorado-my next run will be between 5,000 and 7,000+ feet tomorrow morning. Eagerly anticipating hitting some familiar trails southwest of Denver again.

Sketching out the next month plus XC workout schedule on notepad before I leave. Lot of reps on Mondays, and endurance on Wednesdays w/ VO2 max intervals thrown in. And more endurance and hills in the CB State Park on non-race Saturdays.

Living the dream. Or trying to. To paraphrase Francis de Sales "desiring to thoroughly be what I am and being very good at that, while bearing the crosses that I may find there.'

Run on friends-

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Running thoughts

Last night at XC practice went on an easier paced 4 mile run with a couple of the older kids on the team and one of my fellow coaches. Was nice getting out and about and away from the somewhat monotonous loops we run a lot on the grassy areas between soccer and baseball fields.

This morning went on a seven mile recovery run-started out along the boardwalk in Carolina Beach-then ended up doing most of the miles back on the trails of the CB State Park. Legs were a bit beat up from the 12.4 miles ran yesterday (8+ and a harder workout in the morning)

Have learned over the course of the last few years to enjoy the easy paced recover runs (9-10+ minutes per mile pace). Something that many runners I have found tend to struggle with. Maybe its just a matter of getting used to running slower-or convincing oneself that they are deriving more benefit from the slower pace, as its allowing the bodies natural process of healing itself to take place.

Still reveling in the high from getting into the Boston Marathon. Enjoyed the whole process from the first day registration was open (for runners 20+ minutes faster than their BQ time), right through today where those between 4:59 and under are hoping (and praying) that they get in. Touching to receive so many well wishes and compliments via social media.  Plus I can recall being a bit jealous last year of the love and attention friends in the running community here were getting.

I told an old friend last week that I just want to train(run), coach, and write about it. Those things together in various combinations bring me a sense of purpose and fulfillment like perhaps nothing else ever has for me. Makes me feel like I am right where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. Trying to appreciate all the attendant moments as the journey unfolds, and as more is continually being revealed.

We all have a human need I think to feel some kind of purpose-or some existential yearning as to just why we are here. The ultimate answer lies inside the mind of God, or in the secret of the universe depending on one's individual conviction. But I know when I am running, or in some way involved with running, I get just a little bit closer perhaps to some answers which ultimately lie behind the veil.

And its infinitely interesting to me as well-so I'll keep on searching, keep on running, and keep on doing what I know how to do....

Monday, September 18, 2017

Boston bound

Got the email confirmation yesterday that I had been officially accepted into the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon, to take place in April 2018. Words will fail to convey all this means to me, since it would require an in depth articulation of where I have come from over the past eleven plus years.

For back then, in what seems like a previous lifetime, I was an active alcoholic and drug addict marked for an early death. I had been reduced to living life like an animal, bereft on any sort of human dignity, or any semblance of that precious commodity called hope.

Today-things are much different. Though those demons still lurk, they do so far beneath the surface most days. My thoughts are occupied with training schedules and mileage totals. Upcoming races, an how I can best serve all the kids I am fortunate to coach. In fact, that is what I spent most of yesterday doing-coaching and race directing a cross country meet. Maybe there are no accidents, and it was quite fitting that I got my Boston letter of acceptance on such a day.

It's what I will be doing again this evening-coaching. And this morning I spent an hour plus of my day running. A hard workout too:  4x 200m, 2x 400m, 800, 2x 400m, 4x 200m. As I chase after what may seem impossible- faster times at the age of 43.

But nothing is impossible. Not out here, on the roads and on the trails. With a full and grateful heart, I reach towards the promise of new days and new adventures.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Phase2 WO1

Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer-and I officially cannot wait for fall, and fall weather. After a five week modest build back up of mileage, I felt like I was ready to move into phase2 of the Jack Daniels 5k-15k Training Plan I am following. It's the same plan I used the first half of 2017 with much success.


To backtrack, I had allowed my mpw to fall into the 20s (and one week even below 20) in order to have some much needed extended rest from a hard Jan-May training, and then a heavier race schedule culminating with three in seven days the first week of July. But all in good fun, and part of a 50 races in 50 states challenge I have embarked on.

So then in August I have been winding the miles back up thru the thirties, and into the low 40s per week, and doing striders on average every second run. Plus some longer run in the 1:15-1:45 time range. 2 of them with Peyton. But no real hard running since the Battle of the Border XC race July 22nd

Today the first workout in Phase2 was 5 x (200,200,400) with equal distances rest. Ran through the farm and then on the roads to Kure Beach, and back to Carolina Beach along a route I use often for workouts. Planned on getting out a little earlier in the morning, as it was already a bit hot at 7:30. Though the humidity was tolerable.

Took the workout pretty well, hitting the 200s around :40 and the 400s anywhere from 1:17- 1:27. Worked hard, and dry heaved at the end of the last three 400s. Was reminded quickly of how demanding physically and mentally these sessions are. Putting on the big boy pants again! 

One run, one workout-and I'll take it from here. But it felt good to be back out getting after it.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Running in a T Storm

What fun, early Saturday. I got back to the Carolina Beach State Park just after sunrise (not that the sun was visible). A cluster of thunderstorms had drifted up from the south-instead of hitting snooze and going back to sleep, I decided to run anyway

Which was fun, in a slightly diabolical way. Sloshy my way along the trails. Constantly wiping water from my brow. Counting the seconds between flashes of lightning and the sound of thunder. Feeling at one with all the other animals, at the mercy of mother nature just like me.

Ended up getting over 12 miles in, 5 w/ Isiah one of the older boys and best runner on our Flyers XC team. We managed to get lucky and run between storms. Fell once, while trying to leap over standing water on the main road thru the park (after a short while I realized how fruitless it was to try and keep my shoes dry, so I would just run straight through the water ponding on the ground).

It felt good to be alive, and good to be a bit crazy, and good to be a runner yesterday morning. And for that I am grateful.

Much love
GZ

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

Running

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...