Saturday, May 26, 2012

Working Hard, or Hardly Working (Out)?

Total mileage for the week: 0

Total hours of sleep Wednesday and Thursday Nights: 6

Stress Level (on a scale of 1-10, 1 being "napping" and 10 being "PANIC!!!111"):  11

So, not a good week for running.  Work just completely took over my life this week and I probably have until about the middle of June before I'm through what I've been calling "The Gauntlet".  Still, even if the next few weeks are as busy as this and I have to pull some more late nights, I have to make time for some short runs at least during the week.

I also somehow -- and I have no idea how! -- hurt my right foot and could barely put any weight on it, so fencing last night and run this morning were out of the questions, especially since I'll be limping around Inner Harbor and Camden Yards this afternoon as we go see the first place Orioles (I'll never get tired of typing that!) take on the Kansas City Royals, who I used to have an irrational level of hatred for but now feel like their fans are kindred spirits tortured with years of bad baseball.

Back to the foot, the only things I can think of are:  
1. I may have missed a step and landed awkwardly and didn't realize at the time that I'd sprained my ankle..

2. I did drop my cel phone on my foot, which hurt, but I didn't think anything of it at the time.  This is a normal cel phone and not some huge WWII-era military one.

3. Gout.  I've only ever had gout attacks in my toes.  I'd hate for it to now be in my ankle

If it's not any better by Tuesday, I'll probably limp over to the doctor's office.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Facing My Fear (Or, I Hate Nature)

In a previous blog post, I wrote about how I've been bitten by more animals than you, most notably a poisonous snake.  As a result, I am rather afraid of snakes to put it mildly.  

So, I was not happy when we came home from the grocery store, and I saw this:

("Hi. I'm in the neighborhood selling some medicinal oil that I think you'll be VERY interested in'."*)

I figured our choices were:

1. Run away and never return, living the rest of our lives in Chris' car and earning a meager but satisfying living as traveling minstrels.  Sorry, cats.  You're on your own.

2. Find a way to get the mf-ing snake off this mf-ing door.

3. Adopt a pet mongoose and/or honey badger.

Reluctantly, I chose door #2, even though that road leads to certain death.  I put on a hooded sweatshirt that was in Chris' car to cover as much exposed skin as I could.  I was pretty sure that this snake was a blacksnake, one of the many non-poisonous models, but that still didn't make me in any hurry to get chomped by it.

My heart pounding with terror, I grabbed what I thought was my best weapon -- a snow broom that I use to clean snow from our cars, and knocked the snake off the door and swept (actually it was more of a slap shot) it down into the yard.  The whole ordeal lasted about five seconds but trust me, they were a pretty terrifying five terrifying seconds and I felt much more macho than I actually am, afterward. It also took about 45 minutes and a beer before I finally calmed down.

Anyway, this puts a pretty big damper on my running career, since I'll never be stepping outside again, but I still might use this blog to post my increasingly insane ramblings as I adapt to the lifestyle of a hermit.

*Special thanks to Chris for the "snake oil" joke.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Race Report: YMCA Armed Forces 5K

I wasn't expecting a very good race at yesterday's YMCA Armed Forces 5K, but I ended up with a better race than I thought I had in me after 7 miles on Friday morning and our most strenuous fencing class on Friday night.  

Saturday morning dawned gorgeous, with cool temperatures and bright sunshine over City Island in Harrisburg.  My legs felt good, but as we picked up our packets and took our shirts and bags back to the car, I was tired and still not anticipating one of my better 5Ks.   

Still, when the horn went off, I found that I felt great and I took off a little too fast as we started our loop around City Island.  I completed the first mile, most of the way across the Walnut Street Bridge, in almost exactly 8 minutes, and I continued to push myself as we ran northward on the walkway along the Susquehanna.  We ran up an incline to a garden along the path by Front Street, turned around, then ran back the river-walkway toward the Walnut Street Bridge.

Though PR pace was within site, I struggled here.  Since other runners were still on their way to the turnaround point, there was not much room for passing, and when I had an opportunity -- that is, when there was a gap in runner traffic the other way -- I would sprint ahead.  I think this caused my pacing to suffer overall, and though I held pace up the incline back to the bridge, I realized that a PR was unlikely, and I either unconsciously "took my feet off the gas" a bit, or just didn't have a good finishing kick left.

24:44 was my final time.  1:20 over PR, but still, since I usually come in in the 25s or 26s, it was one of my better 5Ks, a good effort on a beautiful May morning.  

 (I ran a good race, and Chris continued her streak of consecutive PRs.)

Race Review
There were some things I really liked about this race and some things I didn't like.  I really enjoyed the loop around City Island.  There were several displays of military vehicles for Armed Forces Day, and it was neat to the see them and I hadn't raced before on the island.  The course is and mostly flat and has a great deal of shade, which on this sunny day was much appreciated.  

On the negative side, since much of the course is narrow with runners in both directions, it was difficult to pass; it was a cool morning, but sunny and I still would have expected one water stop (to either take a quick drink or dump on my head); and lastly I thought the start line was not well-marked, so it was tough to tell exactly where to start my watch.  

Overall, though it was a fun race on a perfect morning.  I would run it again next year, and I'll know to bring my hydration belt.

And wear my "fast" shoes.

(Posing like a jerk with the Walnut St. Bridge in the background.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Getting Back Momentum

(I saw a cute kitty on the Rail Trail this morning,
but my cel-phone picture didn't save.  So here's Pooka.)

I feel like I'm barely hanging on right now.  I felt the same way before the Philly Marathon, where I'd only get one run in during the week, but then I'd go run 20 miles on Saturday and totally redeem myself (not the marathon results tell!).

Lately I'm in a rut where I just wasn't getting more than 5 miles.  Sure, I got 3 miles in Atlantic City last week, but this past weekend, my Saturday "long run" was right back to 5 miles.

With that in mind, I think I made a little bit of progress this week.  It started off kind of badly, in that I didn't get out on the roads until Wednesday since I was feeling soreness from running HACC Dash way out of my comfort zone and we ran some errands on Tuesday.  I debated between a run Wednesday evening right after work or waiting till later when it might be cooler.  
I didn't want to go out after work, since it was around 80 degrees, but I knew that if I waited till later, I would wrapped up in watching the surprisingly competent Orioles and end up not feeling like going out at 10:00.  It turned out to be a wise decision, since they went into extra innings and wrapped up around 12:30.

So I ran, and it was hot, but I felt ok and made myself run 5 miles instead of the 3 that I'd bargained myself down to.  I added some of the big hills that I'd been avoiding, so even though it was 5 miles again, at least it was a tougher 5 miles.

I also realized that soreness from fencing on Friday night was probably having a negative effect on my Saturday morning runs.  So, I went out for my long run this morning and ran 7 miles on the rail trail with no discomfort other than that 7 miles is outside my comfort zone right now.  

Screw you, fencing!

I'm pretty happy with this, but tying my longest run of the year and having fencing tonight probably doesn't bode well for the Armed Forces Day 5K I'm running on City Island tomorrow.  I have this distinction in my mind of what is a Brooks Adrenaline run vs. an Adidas adiZero Tempo run.  The Brooks run is any run, like today or the Sole of City 10K, where I'm just there...running without an aggressive time goal (and also likely any distance over 7-8 miles regardless of goal).  The Adidas run is HACC Dash or Shamrock 8K...I'm going to PR or die trying.  (Well, that's a little over-dramatic, but one in which I'm really going to run with the goal of being what passes for fast around here.)  

I'll try to run a good race, but I think tomorrow is a day for the Brooks Adrenalines.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Race Report: 2012 HACC Dash York Campus 5K (And Associated Rambling Stories)

In May 2011, I ran the inaugural HACC Dash 5K with a friend from college.  It turned out to be one of my favorite races of the year.  It was the second-fastest 5K I'd ever run, I took third in my age group (My friend Derek won our age group and was 7th overall), and the HACC York Campus put on a well-organized and fun event.

Just like last year's HACC Dash, I approached this year's version with low expectations for myself.  I'd slogged through a slow 5-miles the previous day with some discomfort in my left shin/mystery bump, left ankle, and both knees.  I'd also spent a fun Saturday afternoon and evening in Baltimore including dinner at the Leinenkugel Beer Garden and an evening with the surprisingly competent Baltimore Orioles.  

(I'm not sure why Lienenkugel has their beer garden at the Baltimore Inner Harbor...but I don't mind.)

(Why, yes. Those bases are indeeed loaded with Orioles.)

But what about HACC Dash?  Trust me, this is all relevant.  

You see, for dinner I had a delicious cheeseburger, a few adult beverages, and part of an order of crab pretzels (In case this is just a Baltimore thing, it's soft pretzel logs with crab meat on them).  I have gout, and the worst gout attack I ever had came after I ate super-delicious crabcake and steak combo dinner at the Conewago Inn (a nice restaurant a mile from our house).  So, while my gout wasn't flaring up on Saturday, I took my gout medication on Saturday night as a precaution...

And woke up on Sunday feeling great.  A) I didn't have gout and B) all my weird leg pains from the day before were gone. (My gout medicine is a prescription-strength anti-infamatory, after all)  I still didn't think I was in shape for a PR, but I didn't think a good race was out of the question.

It was a beautiful morning, a little warm but no humidity (last year was really humid!).  I arrived at HACC around 8:30, registered, stretched and chatted with friends as we waited for the start.  The excellent HACC Singers did a great job with the national anthem, and the race began.

I took off.  I didn't have my Garmin, so I don't know how fast my pace was, but I was well above my comfort zone.  I hit the first mile at just around 7 minutes.  I knew that was faster than I could maintain, but I continued to push myself, and I believe it was around 15 minutes that I hit mile marker 2; my pace was slipping but I was still within striking distance of my best 5K times.  I knew the course, and as the course turned into the parking lot for one of the HACC campus buildings (I believe the former Dyncorp Building), I thought I had a chance...

Just a few more turns...

23:20 (Unofficial Brian's Watch Time):  A new PR and a sub 23-minute 5K seems within reach. (Next year's HACC Dash?)

It's gotta be the shoes.  I just don't have another explanation.  I'm more comfortable in the Brooks Adrenaline, but in the past two months I've PR'd the 8K, 10K, and now 5K in the adiZero Tempo.

HACC did a great job with this, again.  The t-shirt is nice, the finisher medal (new this year) is very cool, and they had a great spread of post-race food including the Sheetz truck again, and even the national anthem singers were excellent.  I was unable to stay for the awards ceremony this year.

For the second year HACC Dash has overcome the campus' setting in the route 30 corporate park and race organizers have just put on a great, fun, challenging 5K.  

(To clarify the above comment, the HACC York Campus seems very, very nice and is a convenient location.  The corporate park adjacent to route 30 isn't picturesque by any means...but it's a 5K not a national park!)

(Derek and I after another successful HACC Dash.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Don't Fence Me In

I ran 5 miles this morning, and my legs felt like they were made of lead.  The mystery bump was in full-on mystery bump mode and as the sun beat down on me I couldn't help but think "this is a stupid hobby and no one should ever do it."

At least this time I think I know why my legs were so tired:  Fencing.  

For the last three weeks, Chris and I have been taking a fencing class at the YMCA on Friday nights.  While our actual swordplay has been limited to a few simple lunges and parries so far, there is lots of shuffling forward and backward in in a crouching position that allows one, in theory, to advance or retreat equally easily and without the opponent being able to know what you're going to do.  I say "in theory", because the stance requires feet at a 90-degree angle to each other my front (left) foot pointed forward and my back foot pointed sideways, and my footwork is not very good so far.

The crouching position seems to put a lot of strain on the quads and hammies, which I hope will make me stronger but for now is making the Saturday morning "long" runs (I'm stuck in kind of a 5-mile rut lately) something of a chore.  Workload permitting, I may try to go back to doing my long runs on Thursday or Friday morning.

Fencing is interesting.  I'm not sure I'd call it fun yet, though the class is well-taught by a former ranked fencer who has recently returned to the sport, and he has a good sense of humor and teaching style and I am enjoying it.  It reminds of when I tried to learn golf from my grandfather, and there so were many things to concentrate on during each swing (keep your head down, arms straight, follow-through, keep your feet down) that I just couldn't handle it.  The footwork just doesn't feel natural yet, and since I don't have the best hand-eye coordination (to put it mildly), I'm not sure my bladework is going to be very good, either.  But, I wasn't very good at soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, or running, either, so I'm not terribly surprised.

I enjoy that fencing requires a lot of concentration, because it pushes everything else out of my brain (except when Chris stepped on my foot during one of drills and we got the giggles), and I think it will be a lot of fun once start bouting.  It requires a lot of discipline, and anyone hoping for a Game of Thrones-style duel is going to be disappointed.  

(That's "Mr. Kingslayer" to you.)

Speaking of disappointed, check back tomorrow or Monday for a race report of tomorrow morning's HACC Dash 5K. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shoe Wars Episode II: The Boring Update Post

This is probably a more boring post than usual, but a reader asked for an update on my review of the Adidas adiZero Tempo 4 now that I've been running in them for a few months.  Since he/she was anonymous, I wasn't sure if he/she would see my reply.

I've run two races in my Tempos, an 8K and a 10K, both of which I got some new PRs that were faster than what I thought I was currently capable of. I feel faster in them than I did the Supernova Sequence.

All that said, I also have a new pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12s that seem to be winning the "shoe war". They have more support than the Tempos and while they're not as light they are noticeably lighter than the Sequence.

I've had good runs and bad runs in both pairs, I just think the Adrenaline have been a better match for me...kind of the best of both worlds of lightness and support. If you need a stability shoe, I recommend the Adrenaline. If you don't, I think the Tempo is considerably more breathable and a little lighter than the Adrenaline and a lot lighter than the Sequence. When I had my ITBS flare-up, my Dr. recommended a stability shoe, which ended up being the Sequence. I feel like the Tempo doesn't have enough stability for me and my ankles are rolling more in them. I still want to run some long runs in the Tempos and some short, fast runs in the Adrenaline, but my overall plan is to use the Adrenaline as my primary long-run/training shoe and the Tempos as my short race shoe. 

I'll try to keep the mileages roughly equal over the next couple of weeks and write more updates if my opinion changes.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Boardwalk Empire

One of my favorite runs is the vacation run.  I enjoy trying to squeeze a run or two in when we're in vacation.  It's a great chance to break up the monotony of running in Central PA, burn a few of the undoubtedly huge amount of calories I've eaten or drank, and in some cases scout out our location.

This time, we were away for a few days (with help from very good Livingsocial deal) at a place we know pretty well, but in which we had never gone running -- Atlantic City, NJ.  Since we're considering the Atlantic City Half Marathon in October (I originally thought I might try to make my comeback a few months early and run the Marathon, but I think it's safe to say that ain't happening), I wanted to get some miles in.

Highs were in the mid-60s on Sunday, Monday, and today, so I was also hoping to enjoy some cooler running weather than we'd gotten here in York, where summer temperatures and humidity were in full swing last week.

I'd had vague plans of running both Monday morning and this morning (Tuesday), but having hung out "A Dam Good Sports Bar" for several hours where we celebrated the Orioles' 17-inning win over the hated Red Sox (in which their DH pitched two scoreless innings to close out the game), drowned Flyers-related sorrow, and watched the Phillies embarrass the Nationals, I found that sleeping in on Monday morning was very welcome.  

(Unfortunately after this completely epic win and winning 5 of 6 against the YankSox, the O's seem to have reverted to their 1998-2011 selves as they take on the Rangers.)

We had a fun day on Monday exploring the very cool new Revel casino, shopping in the AC Outlets, sampling the wares of the Tun Tavern Brewery, winning some money on penny slots, and eating dinner at a 75-year-old Irish pub (creatively named "The Irish Pub").  But my resolve was strengthened to pound the pavement -- mean Boardwalk --  this morning.

 (Home Sweet Casino)


I'd love to say I went out there and felt great, but I'd be lying. Two days of beer and bar food does not make for an excellent run, but still, I went 6.4 miles (splitting the difference between Garmin and dailymile maps) in 59:15, which I think is my second-longest run of the comeback. I started at our hotel, Resorts Hotel & Casino, and ran north just past Revel, which is the northernmost of the Boardwalk hotels, and then turned south and ran southbound to the Atlantic City-Ventnor border.  I felt not so good at for the first three but then headed south, but felt pretty good for the second half.  

 (Resorts seemed soooo far away, but it was really only about 2.5 miles north of here.)

I think I prefer a road or sidewalk to running on boardwalk, but it was nice to run somewhere different with interesting scenery.  It was another cool, windy morning but the sun was strong even at 7:00am, and I was very quickly sweating profusely.  It wouldn't surprise me to have similar weather on half-marathon day, but I think eating and hydrating much more smartly the day before will have a profound effect.

Now I need to focus on getting in good runs the rest of the week so that I feel fast and confident for HACC Dash on Sunday. I'm not in as good a shape as I was for it last year, but if we get a nice cool day I've shown that I'm capable of occasional bursts of speed so a PR might be in reach.  Supposedly there's twice as many entrants this year, so another age group medal is probably not in the cards.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Catching Up...Sort Of

It's been a pretty mediocre week of running, but worse week of blogging.  Actually, it's been a slightly less than mediocre two weeks of running.

After the Sole of the City 10K, I didn't run again until Thursday for all of the lame reasons I detailed in my last post.  But I sort of made up for it on that Saturday when I ran 5 miles in 41:55, which I think is one of the fastest 5-miles I've ever run.  (I was a little faster at the TowneBank Shamrock 8K in March, and my time at the 8K mark at the Hershey 10K was under 41 minutes if those km markers were to be believed)

I ran again on Monday (5 miles again.  I'm in sort of a rut, lately), but then not again until Saturday.  It was warm and humid this week, and I hate that, but I still need to get out there. (I'm glad I'm not in the Broad Street Run this year, it was in the 80s at 8am when I ran it in 2010, and I think it'll be just as warm this year.)  I just don't seem to have much motivation these days.  

I was planning on trying 6 or 7 yesterday, but I found that I just was completely un-acclimated to a 67 degree morning with 90-percent humidity.  It probably didn't help that my legs were tired from Friday night's gym class (that's another post, though.) and that I wore the adiZero Tempos for the first time since the Hershey 10K because they're more ventilated than the Adrenalines and I thought they'd be cooler.  They were, but I think I just like the support and stability of the Brooks more.  I'll probably wear them for the HACC Dash 5K next Sunday, because I ran my second-fastest 5K ever there last year, so it's a race I have a shot at a PR at, in theory.  I don't think I'm in PR shape, but I should have a much better week of running this week, and I think that will help.