Sunday, March 27, 2011

The taper begins

The first week of taper always ends up being kind of odd. You've got to cut your mileage to begin the recovery but at the same time you're 3 weeks out so you can't stop training! 60.3 miles for the week. 13 days, 17 hours, 29 min, 6s ...

Mon - 6
I started off on the treadmill intending to do my usual Monday hill work. Very quickly I realized that my right quad was a little sore from yesterday. So I headed out for a run outside. This is precisely the situation where you've got to let your leg tell you how fast to go and not a machine!

Tue - 8 w/4*mile repeats
What a feeling to be doing these track workouts in daylight! Neal and Robin did not race on Sunday. They really pushed the pace on the repeats. Had I done them on my own they would have been much slower. I eased up on the last repeat. Splits: 6:15, 6:12, 6:13, 6:25

Moment of the day: I was wrapping up my run when I saw this sight in Green Lake. I was awestruck. I had to stop and take a pic with my cell-phone. I am thankful to be living in such a beautiful part of the world!!

Wed - 7
It had gotten late so I ran on the TM. Started off in the 8:30s and finished in the 6:30s for an average pace of 7:28... Not too bad.

Today I signed up to run two half marathons on two consecutive days. An official pacer for the 1:45 time at the Rock and Roll Seattle half. The next day I intend to race the Scotiabank Vancouver half. The latter is my favorite half marathon thus far. Should be interesting.

Thur - 10 w/12*400m
I officially declare that I hate 400s. I never liked them in high school and I don't like them now. I don't like them in the rain. I don't like them alone.

I was just not born with fast twitch muscles ...

Fri - 8
Relaxed run... All I saw on the trail were 2 ducks, a few bikers and a runner (we waved as we passed)...

Sat - 15
I decided to run alone and do loops around Green Lake - a known and soft running surface. It's too close to the end goal to take risks. Moreover I wanted to control the pace I ran at. I started off slowly, progressed to MP and finished faster than MP for an average pace of 7:37. It was not planned. I just went by feel.

Splits:
8:50, 8:19, 8:14, 8:05, 8:03,
7:36, 7:30, 7:26, 7:21, 7:13,
7:18, 7:09, 7:03, 7:09, 6:53

The Dizzy Dave 13.1m/26.2m/50k/100k was happening at Green Lake today. As I passed the runners they would look to see if I had a bib on. I would have done the same and then thought in my head - "Whatever! I am running an ultra marathon and you are not! :)"

Observation of the day: The Cherry Blossoms are blooming. Spring is here! Summer's not too far away :)

Sun - 6
Legs appear to be feeling decent...
Splits: 7:58, 7:19, 7:09, 7:00, 6:39,6:45 -> Avg pace: 7:08

Sight of the day: A bride getting her wedding pics taken at Olympic Sculpture park...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mercer Island Half Marathon Race Report 2011

Mercer Island, 9:00am

Temperature: 43F-46F, Humidity: 71%-66%, Sunny

Background:

The Mercer Island course is hilly and difficult but it's very well organized and logistically convenient - a perfect Spring marathon tune-up race. I signed up for the race in December. This was to be my first race since the Green Bay marathon and my only test before the Paris marathon.

I've run the Mercer Island half in 2007 and 2009. 2007 was a rainy run in 1:37. In 2009 I was in great shape but had over raced and was on the verge of getting injured. I finished in 1:35 and the end was rough. I could not get the few seconds I would need to get a PR.

This race would be coming at the end of a 80 mile week and without any taper so I had to be realistic about my expectations. A PR would be encouraging but it would all depend on how the legs felt on race day.

Pre-race:

Running of course cannot come in the midst of social events. I stayed till 1:30am at a Holi potluck. It's a sign that I have not raced in a while that I didn't think twice before consuming a very spicy curry. Only in the morning did the ramifications become clear to me. Luckily, I did not have to pay for it...

It was a little chilly to be wearing a half T but the forecast called for a gorgeous sunny day so I went with it. That ended up being just right.

At the porta potty line someone asked me for the time. I looked at him with a straight face and told him 7:30... He stared at me for a bit and then said thank you. Later I realized that my Garmin was still showing the non-DST time so it was actually 8:30am ... doh!

I ran a warm-up mile and my legs were not feeling like it could run at half marathon pace. Funny how that always happens and once the race starts you are just fine.

Having not raced for so long I was a little excited about this one :)

I lined up with Larry and Shankar. John and Cassy stood a little bit in the front.

Race:

mile 1: 7:01
At the beginning this pace seemed a little labored but then I got into my groove...

mile 2: 7:06
I knew that the end would be difficult so my twin focus was to get in miles below 7:15 while at the same time kind of run in auto-pilot.

mile 3: 6:04 (short)
mile 4: 7:48 (long)

mile 5: 6:55

All through I could see Cassy a bit ahead of me. John had gone quite a bit ahead. Kind of like our track workouts and long runs :)

mile 6: 7:04
I've run this course on training runs as well so there were so many familiar sights. Mercer Island is where the rich and famous live so the island loop passes by several million dollar mansions.

mile 7: 7:06
mile 8: 7:12

A significant incline. I passed Cassy somewhere around here... It was nice having her in front since I could know that my pace was not slacking...

mile 9: 7:19
mile 10: 7:18
mile 11: 6:57

A big downhill to make-up some time and prep for what was coming up...

mile 12: 7:31
This was just tough. To have such a major hill so close to the end! It was about getting your head down. Keeping a proper form and just laboring through to the top. I guess the hill repeats have to pay off somewhere :)

mile 13: 7:13
Another small climb just before the end and the downhill in the last 100m to the finish... A new PR!!

.11: :46

Results:

Time: 1:33:31 @ 7:08
Bib #: 121
OA: 134/1636
Male: 110/816
Div: 16/116

Reflections:

This race was pretty satisfying. I got past a 4+ year half marathon PR. This was especially neat since it came at the end of such a high mileage week and on such a hilly course. My last half marathon PR was on Jan 14th 2007 at RNR Arizona. That was a flat course and a race I had tapered for. I am hopeful that if I get in a good taper I will have a good run in Paris (fingers-crossed!!)...

The final stretch - 80 miles for the week and a 4 yr PR falls :)

80.5 miles for the week. This probably is amongst my top 5 highest mileage weeks.

I got past a 4+ year half marathon PR today at the Mercer Island half - 1:33:31. This was especially neat since it came at the end of such a high mileage week and on such a hilly course. My last half marathon PR was on Jan 14th 2007 at RNR Arizona. That was a flat course and a race I had tapered for.

Bring it on Paris!!!

Mon - 8
Treadmill 1-6% incline...

Tue - 8 w/16*200m, 200m jog
OK. I am ready for it to stop raining now!! Running 200s on the treadmill is interesting... 10mph for the 200s.

Wed - 15.25
No rain! A very peaceful run. I was lost in my thoughts for the most part :)

As I approached the sculpture park, I noticed a lady walking backwards almost as if she was drunk. Perhaps she was lost looking at the Space Needle. With just a mile and a half to go I was working up quite a pace at that point. As I blew past her, she jerked back, covered her face and shouted out - "Oh my god" as if I just shot her! What the ?!?! If she's that scared she should stop walking backwards in the dark/get a headlamp or flash light/find a boyfriend to carry with her for her 11pm walks :)

Story of the day: I almost teared up reading and watching the video showing a dog shivering and disoriented, yet remaining loyally by the side of a stricken fellow canine amidst the devastation of the Japanese tsunami. Their story had a happy ending. It took workers almost an hour to calm the dog down before it would let anyone near the other dog. Now he is in a shelter and the other dog is getting treatment from a vet.

Dog in Japan stays by the side of its ailing friend in the rubble


Thu - 10
I was surprised to find someone else running on the trail at 11:30pm. So I had to catch-up with him and chat for a bit. He was training for his first tri in Kona in two weeks :)

Discovery of the day: I was talking to this sharp but weird/irritating kid in my group. He is from IIT Kanpur, UIUC... For him this Microsoft job is just a prep stage for his life ambition. He wants to give it all up and return to India in 1-2 years. Then he wants to become a social worker. He has worked out that the most effective way to achieve maximum impact is to get into politics. He has no monetary desire and does not want to get distracted by things like marriage. He seeks to teach people how to control their mind and write a book with all the techniques he's learnt. First I thought he is nuts but after talking to him for a bit, it appears that he has some very well thoughout plans. I have stopped sending people Friend requests on FB but I did to him... I want to see what he ends up doing - a modern day Gandhi-ji or a nut-job?

Fri - 8.6 w/9*hill repeats
Rain, wind. My last set of hill repeats for a while. I sure won't be missing them!

Sighting of the day: An old man was trying to drive a car without one wheel up the hill, where I was doing repeats. The car was swerving and sparking. There was no-way he was going to make it all the way up. He was probably causing significant damage to the car and he wasn't too far off from getting into an accident. I think someone must have called the cops. Weird. He had to have known the car had no wheel.

Sat - 8
Sunny and gorgeous! A very encouraging run considering that it was less than 12 hours since yesterday's repeats, the volume this week and the fact that I did not setout to run fast. Splits: 8:41, 8:14, 7:50, 7:36, 7:30, 7:18, 6:52, 6:34

Moment of the day: A cute kiddo on her mom's lap started giggling when she saw me run by. Priceless! :)

Sun - 13.11 : Mercer Island Half marathon
My fastest half marathon ever!

Sun - 8 + 1 = 9
A warmup mile in Mercer Island and then 8 cool down miles on the Lake Sammamish trail. This is the trail I used to run most of my miles on when I lived in Redmond. It was a nice change in scenery. My pace for the run was pretty respectable = good on tired legs. The 80th mile of the week and the 22nd mile of the day had me running up the brutal 51st street hill :) It's tough enough on fresh legs so it was a nice test to end things :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The driving license mark...

In the recent past, I've felt embarrassed looking at the weight listed on my driving license - memories of fitter days... Not at the moment - I'm at 137 :) It's the first time I've gotten into the 130s in about 5-6 years. I'm really digging the shape of my abs at the moment. Might as well since it's like a high maintenance girlfriend - it's there when you spend time on it and disappears when you stop :p

77 miles for the week. Just as a perspective - the number of miles I ran this week and last would get me from Seattle to Vancouver. So if someday I am running from the authorities and need to escape to Canada on foot, that should be doable :p

28 more days!

Mon - 8:
I was feeling sooo sleepy after class (which included a final exam). I finally dragged myself out of the door at 11:30pm. This was an endurance hill workout on the treadmill with inclines between 1.5-4.5%.

Tue - 12 w/10*800m
I'm thankful to have a group of folks to run these Yasso 800s with. Running them alone would be so difficult! Splits: 3:11, 3:07, 3:10, 3:07, 3:09, 3:06, 3:06, 3:06, 3:02, 2:59

Wed - 14
It was pouring outside so after staring at the rain for 5 minutes I wussed out and ran on the treadmill. Not that running 14 miles on the treadmill is too much better than running in a downpour but I did want to stay dry :p It's probably one of my longest treadmill runs ever and surely the longest in about 4 years. The upshot was that I learnt more about Charlie Sheen and his angels than I ever wanted to know :)

Thurs - 6 w/9*hills
The best part of the workout was when it was done :p I think these are the toughest workout of all. I'd rather run 22 miles than do hill repeats!

I think I'm developing a kinship with the homeless folks. Today one of them smiled at me and told me - "You must be cold" instead of asking me for change :) I was wearing shorts and there were 31mph winds but ... :)

Sight of the day: A hot lady was wearing an air boot on one leg and heels on another. Even with a broken leg she had not lost her sense of fashion. Impressive!

Fri - 6
It had gotten pretty late so I went the treadmill route. With an early morning run coming up I did not want to spend 30 minutes going to and coming back from the waterfront. The floodgates are now open but I need to realize that the treadmill = evil, bad, no good, horrible, ...

Sat - 22.5
Soaked, drenched, and ... any other words in the English language that represents a state of extreme wetness :p Once you are wet you don't really care anymore if ... it's pouring or drizzling, cars are splashing water on you, you are having to run through puddles, your shoes are soaked,...

There is a greater sense of camaraderie among runners on a day like today. A lot more waves, nods and smiles as we pass each other.

I must have looked like a walking disaster heading back to my apt. I was quite far from the entrance yet a lady held the door open for me. Nice of her...

Yet again I wonder why god gave human males nipples = chaffing.

My reward for this run was a delicious piece of cake from Whole foods :)

Sight of the day: The talking book and Braille library a couple of blocks from my apt and Whole foods.

Sun - 8
Another rainy day but a solid run. Splits: 8:58, 8:25, 8:05, 7:58, 7:43, 7:44, 7:23, 6:50. This is encouraging considering I ran 22.5 miles yesterday.

My MBA class has started a running club. They cancelled their 2.8 mile run yesterday and today because it was "raining". I found that hilarious. It's like cancelling an activity in Phoenix in summer because it's too "hot". You got to embrace mother nature!

Sight of the day: A dad and son practicing martial arts in front of Olympic sculpture park in the rain...

Sunday, March 06, 2011

73 miles!!!

73 miles for the week! There are times when I wonder and there will be times when I will wonder how I managed to run so much. Thankfully, this is a point in time when I'm not wondering just running :) 35 more days :)

Mon - 7.5:

Another week of the random hill workout on the Treadmill. Ended the run at 12:30am. 205 miles for Feb. Not too shabby after a slow start post-Iceland...

Tue - 11 (2 miles TT):

Every first Tuesday of the month we have a 2 mile time trial. The track was muddy and slushy after the rain. In general I felt horrid and my time of 13:25 was a joke... It was one of those days and other parts of the day was also kind of blah. From running to make appointments to waiting for a bus for almost an hour...

Wed - 13:

An event-less run for the most part.

A lady in the gas station where I stopped to use the rest-room - "Aren't you feeling cold? I am freezing."
Me - "No. I am running"
Her - "I am walking"
Thereafter, I continue to run and I'd imagine she continued to walk :)

A guy fishing shouted out "Nice Job" as I ran past him. I guess he could relate to me since he was mad enough to be fishing at midnight :)

Thurs - 6 w/9*hill repeats

I was feeling tired and sluggish after coming back from work. Once I got out of the door it was all good. Though in any state of consciousness there is nothing pleasurable about sprinting up and down a hill 9 times. Got to remember the old adage - "Hills are your friend!" :)

Fri - 6

Windy and rainy... De-stress : breath in ... breath out... breath in ... breath out...

Sat - 21.5

A gorgeous day for a run - a beautiful sunrise and a sunny day with those photogenic puffy clouds. It ended up being a tough run but an excellent workout. The usual group John et. al. were running 15 so they upped the ante by running the very hilly Blue Ridge route. After mile 13, I started running with Dan along Lake Union. Apparently, I was setting the pace for the first few miles but then it was him taking off. We averaged in the 7:40s for these miles :p I'm amazed by what a strong runner he is at 50. I'm also intrigued by the stories of his travels around the world and his upcoming travel plans to Cambodia, Vietnam, Copenhagen, Japan ... I am so glad I made it through in one piece. There were multiple times during the uphills when all I could think was "God please kill me now" :p

Sun - 8

Starting off at recovery pace to get the blood flowing and wash-off the waste from yesterday's fun. Picked up the pace towards the end to finish the last half mile at sub-7 pace.

I am amused at how dog owners feel the need to justify the actions of their dog. A lady goes to me - "You know he is a really friendly and nice dog". It's OK, I am not judging your dog :p

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