23 February 2008

Who Stole the Air?

One advantage of international travel is that I get to run in some different places. This week, I've been at the Baptist Guest House in Johannesburg (OK, Edenvale), South Africa. A friend told me about a great route that I could run that would be about 5 miles. Well, at about the halfway point on that route, the road goes uphill for 2 straight miles and climbs something like 220 feet. Johannesburg is at 5500' above sea level. Some friend -- thanks, Fred, why are you trying to kill me? And, who took all the air from this place? Oh, yeah, I forgot -- hills make you stronger!

Here's the route.

At least I get to run on grass/dirt for about half the route.

Run well, y'all,

15 February 2008

Progress, Hopefully, in Kenya

I pray that this will lead to a just and peaceful conclusion to the chaos in Kenya over the past 7+ weeks. After living in Kenya for most of the past 22 years, though, and hearing the talk and the promises, I'm skeptical. The idea of a Prime Minister has been floated many times before and has come to nothing. There was a new constitution on the table for several years and it wasn't accepted. But, people do change and the circumstances are somewhat different now. Continue to pray for the hundreds of thousands of people who have suffered as a result of all of this.

The following is a small section of a larger BBC article (600,000 people fleeing their homes is the largest figure I've seen -- could be):

Kenyans to review disputed poll
Kenya's rival political parties have agreed to set up an independent panel to review last year's disputed elections, Kofi Annan has said.

The former United Nations secretary general however said that a possible power-sharing agreement had not yet been finalised.

The opposition has accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the poll.

The dispute has led to protests, in which at least 1,000 people have died and 600,000 have fled their homes.

'Very close'

The independent panel, including Kenyan and non-Kenyan experts, will investigate "all aspects" of the disputed election, said Mr Annan.

The committee is due to start work on 15 March and submit its report within three to six months, he added.

Run and pray well, y'all,

Week 4: Tempo Run

Whoa! Not enough sleep last night but decided to do this week's tempo run this morning. The plan called for 6 miles, included 4 x 7:40. Well, I've got to be the world's worst at sensing what my pace is and I'm too cheap to buy a Garmin (and don't want to be constantly looking at it anyway). So, I just run sustainably hard for a tempo run. These were my splits this morning:
1.0 x 9:06.68
1.0 x 7:26.41
1.0 x 7:08.39
1.0 x 7:13.50
1.0 x 7:20.50
1.1 x 8:34.96

Not too bad and I did the 6.1 miles in 46:40.84 (7:39 mpm) -- extrapolated out to 6.2 miles and I was right at my goal time for the 10K. Maybe I set my goal too low?

Run well, y'all,

13 February 2008

10K Training -- Half Mile Repeats

Raining and 34° in Richmond this morning. Since I'm not equipped for cold and wet, I headed to the YMCA to use the treadmill. Was supposed to do a tempo run today but do NOT want to try that on a treadmill. So, I decided to do next week's repeats which works well since I'll be in South Africa next week and don't know where I'd do the repeats there. Summary:
0.2 miles walking warmup (4.5 mph)
1.0 mile at easy 6.7 mph (8:54 mpm)
4 x 0.5 mile repeats at 9 mpm (6:40 mpm)
-->Between repeats: 3 x 0.25 mile jogs at 6.7 mph (8:54 mpm)
1.25 miles at 7-7.5 mph (8:00-8:34 mpm)

It wasn't too bad except for the last half-mile repeat and even that was doable. The advantage of the treadmill for repeats is that I have to stay on pace unless I wimp out and change the speed.

Run well, y'all,

09 February 2008

Distance PR and 9 on the 9th

Today is the day for the 2nd virtual race sponsored by Non-Runner Nancy, the 9 on the 9th. My plan for training for the Richmond 10K had me doing 12 miles and I had planned to do them easy. Figured I'd just take my average pace and report that for the 9 miles of the virtual race.

I run with a YMCA training group at 8:00 on Saturdays and they were going to run 5 miles, so I headed out early to do what I thought would be 7.5 before the group run. I left a few minutes later than planned and picked up the pace a bit to try to meet the group on time. When I got to the Y, the group had already gone. So I signed in and took off again. Neat thing was that I was behind the novice group so got a real boost by passing them trying to catch my group. I found the back-o-the-pack runners in my group but felt so good at the pace I was running that I just kept on. I finished those 5 miles in 38:49.6 and thought, Wow! A total of 1:42:13 is not a bad time for 12.5 miles. I signed out of the ghttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifroup run and took off for a short run home. My total time was 1:47:11.4 and I thought I had done a half-marathon. Pretty pleased since that was faster than my only real half-marathon race time.

Stretched, took a shower and sat down to plot out the run to see just how far it actually was. When I plugged the figures into my running log, I couldn't believe what I saw. I double-checked the map to be sure that I had plotted the route right; I checked my watch to make sure I had put in the right figures for my time. I had.

Turns out the my first route was 8 miles (I forgot to check my map before leaving and ran the wrong streets). Then, the 5 mile group run turned out to be 5.5. By the time I added the short bit home after the group run, the total was my longest run ever -- 14.11 miles. That put my pace at 7:35.8 mpm. I'm still in shock. One of the anomalies of running is that a slow pace can feel so awful one day while a fast pace can feel so good on another.

So, 9 on the 9th miles @ 7:35.8 mpm is 1:08:22. See all the virtual race reports here. and, probably, here. Congratulations to all who participated in the race.

Run well, y'all,

07 February 2008

Take It and Run Thursday: Half Marathons

Runner's Lounge sponsors a Take It and Run Thursday when they invite lounge members to share their collective wisdom about a particular running topic. Today's topic is Half Marathons. Since I'm such an expert on that topic, having run exactly 1 (one) half marathon in the entire 53 years and 9 months of my life, I thought I'd jump right in.

That first and only half marathon (Richmond's Maymont X-Country Half) did teach me some things (my profile picture is my finish of that half):

1. A half marathon is not a cake walk. Granted, what I ran was not the typical half since it was a mixed-surface run -- roads, trails, bridges, steps, etc. The terrain made it more difficult than I expected. But, unlike Amy, I'm not sure it's a run that everybody should attempt, but anyone who does needs to be prepared for it to be hard.

2. Train for it. Yes, I know, there are some folks who can hop off the couch and run whatever. But most of us can't. I would advise anyone planning to do a half marathon to train specifically for that. I used a training plan from Runner's World (Smart Coach). Not only was it good to have some expert advice but it gave me the confidence that I could actually do the run in respectable form.

3. Build endurance. Long runs seem to me to be the key to a successful half marathon. I didn't do enough in preparation and my endurance suffered (well, I suffered) even though my time was still good.

4. Do some speed work. I ran either a tempo run or mile repeats once a week. Even though all my other runs in a week were at an "easy" pace, those special runs kept my speed from being negatively affected.

5. Don't start too fast. While that's true of any race, it seems to be especially important in a long race like a half. If you start too fast in a 5k race, the distance is short enough so that it won't kill you. But, start out too fast in a half and you still have a long, long way to go.

6. Run your own race. Related to #4 -- know how you run and follow the same pattern. In my everyday runs, even without planning to do so, I run the 1st mile at a fairly easy pace. Then I pick up the pace throughout the run. When I ran the half, we decided to aim for the average goal pace each mile. The first mile was right on target but then my body/mind did what it always does -- picked up the pace on succeeding miles. That lasted only 4-5 miles before I knew this wasn't working. Next time, I'll not plan to be consistent for every mile.

7. A partner is great. I almost forgot this one. Without the young man (my son's age) who ran with me -- and, yes, he had to slow way down -- I would not have done as well as I did. Justin (in the orange shirt in my profile picture) was a real encouragement, especially since the X-Country course is not spectator friendly. Hey, he even let this old man finish ahead of him. So, you can do a half by yourself, but you'll like it more if you're running with a friend.

As hard as it was, I will do the X-Country again, probably not in 2008 because of a conflict. I will be smarter and more prepared. In the meantime, I hope to do the Richmond Half in November.

Run well, y'all,

Wednesday's Tempo Run on Thursday

When we got news on Tuesday night about the tornado(s) that hit Union University, I spent the next several hours getting confirmation that children of our organization's personnel were all accounted for and safe. They were and it is miraculous. But, that meant that I didn't get to bed until the wee hours of the morning so I postponed the tempo run that was on the plan for Wednesday (any excuse to postpone that will work for me). So, I did the run this morning.

The goal was an easy 1st mile, 3 miles at 7:36 mpm, and then an easy 5th mile. I felt great. In fact, I felt like I could have maintained the <7:36 pace for another mile or two.
Tempo Splits
1.00 x 9:29
1.00 x 7:33
1.00 x 7:20
1.00 x 7:06
1.16 x 9:01

I hope your run is as satisfying as mine was.

Run well, y'all,

05 February 2008

Being Healthy Costs More

One of life's little pleasures is NPR. Granted, I don't always agree with their perspective but I almost always learn something new or interesting -- often something that seems worth sharing. Such was the case this afternoon on All Things Considered. It's counterintuitive and, at first glance (well, or at first hearing), seems to go against all the studies touting the benefit of being healthy and maintaining a normal weight.

Study: Healthy People Cost Governments More
(You can listen to the report from the above link.)
All Things Considered, February 5, 2008 · There are a lot of good reasons for people to lose weight and stop smoking — but saving money on lifetime health care costs isn't one of them, according to a study out of the Netherlands.

The researchers found that healthy people cost governments more in the long run because they live years longer: an average of 4.5 years longer than people who are obese, and seven years longer than smokers.

(Van Baal, "Lifetime Medical Costs of Obesity: Prevention No Cure for Increasing Health Expenditure")

Where did this spring weather come from? It was 52° at 5:00am and 74° when I left the office at 5:00pm. Still, a good run this morning -- 5.3 miles at an 8:32 mpm pace. Tomorrow is a tempo run -- Oh, joy!

Run well, y'all,

03 February 2008

Motivation: That Still, Small Voice in My Head

(Graphic from Fitness Motivation) I'm three days late (and probably at least $3 short) but reading all the posts got me thinking about what motivates me to keep running. Several things:

WEIGHT/HEALTH: I started running again in 2003 because my weight reached the point where, according to the BMI, I was obese. I didn't like the sound of that word and didn't like the looks of it in the mirror. Plus, there are some health issues in my family (diabetes, heart attacks, high cholesterol) that I wanted to be pro-active in dealing with. So, I started running and eating in a more healthy way and lost 40 pounds in 5-6 months. Running helps me keep my weight down and I know I'm doing something positive about my overall health.

SANITY: I probably don't have the most stressful job in the universe, but it's stressful enough. Running first thing in the morning, before anyone else is up, gives me a chance to think or pray or just to be quiet. I can face the day better.

RUNNING LOG: I track mileage, times, temperature/humidity on a spreadsheet (Google Docs). There's something about seeing the miles add up that keeps me going. I'm pretty task oriented so this shows me concrete progress.

FRIENDS: I run by myself 85% of the time but I have friends who run and we check up on each other regularly. The mutual accountability is good for me.

FEELING GOOD: Maybe it's obsession or addiction but I know that if I don't run, I'll regret it later. For the first year, I liked the results of running but not the running itself. Since then, I like the running (most days). Hoping for the next, elusive runner's high keeps me going. One of my favorite running quotes is from Benjamin Cheever in Strides:
The runner's high is built on a foundation of runner's lows. The joy is often paid for in advance.

TIME OF DAY: Getting my run done first thing in the morning is, perhaps, not really a motivator but it's my way of ensuring that it gets done. One friend commented this week, Bob runs at 5:30am and wakes up at 6:30am. There's lots of truth to that.

There's an article on motivation at The Fitness Motivator. The writer mentions Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. I had used that concept in training teachers but had never thought about it in relation to running. That will give me some brain fodder for tomorrow's run.

Run well, y'all,

02 February 2008

Quirky Exercise Equipment

Can you see yourself using this chair? Yoni Freedhoff, author of the Weighty Matters blog, posted this yesterday. Watching it makes me a little ill. I believe it would throw my back out like nobody's business. And, how in the world would you talk on the phone or type coherently on a computer while this thing is tossing you around? Would you buy one?

I think I'll stick to running! :) Speaking of running, it's the end of the 2nd week of training for the Richmond 10K. I was traveling so did some switching of workouts -- 4 easier runs Sun-Wed of 4.5-6.5 miles, half-mile repeats yesterday, and a long run today. Today's run started with a warm-up jog (0.4 mi) to the local YMCA to join up with the intermediate group run (4 miles), and then finished with 8.5 miles by myself. That's a total run of 12.9 miles in 1:48 or an average pace of 8:22 mpm (all numbers rounded and the map does not include the initial warm-up jog). Except for the half-marathon in September, that's my longest run ever. It was a good run in many ways.

One of my problems in the half-marathon was that I had not done enough longer runs and just didn't have the leg strength and endurance I wanted. So, I'm modifying my RW training plan and have made my Saturday runs longer. I'm hoping that will give me the endurance that I want.

Run well, y'all,
Richmond, VA

01 February 2008

Rain: It's Both Good and Bad

It is raining this morning. I don't have the running clothes for cool (35°) and rain so I headed to the YMCA and ran repeats on the treadmill. We need the rain so it's good that it's raining; I'd rather run outside so it's bad that it's raining; doing repeats on the treadmill was interesting and disciplined me so it's good that it's raining.

0.2 miles @ 13:20 mpm (walking)
1.3 miles @ 08:57 mpm
0.5 miles @ 06:58 mpm
.25 miles @ 09:31 mpm
0.5 miles @ 06:58 mpm
.25 miles @ 09:14 mpm
0.5 miles @ 06.58 mpm
1.7 miles @ 08:34 mpm

Overall running: 5 miles @ 08:18 mpm

It was a good workout.

January: 146 miles, 23 runs

Kenya is still troubled and it just continues to get more and more complicated. NPR's All Things Considered had a decent story on the situation in Kenya, Tracing the Roots of Ethnic Violence in Kenya. Please continue to pray.

Run well, y'all,