Archives for May 2008

100 Mile Month

Posted on 5/31/2008 to Health and Fitness

May has turned out to be quite the month for running. Last week I completed my first 30 mile week, and yesterday I put the finishing touches on my first 100 mile month (101.27 to be exact). I also had my first double-digit runs, with two 10-milers, and one 11-miler. Last, but not least, I ran the Buffalo Boogie on May 10th—my 3rd 5K race in 4 weeks. I set a new PR of 26:25 at the Buffalo Boogie, even though I had to walk 3 times between 2.6 and 2.8 miles.

May also saw some difficult times on the road, as I dealt with my first "injury" for the first couple of weeks—strained hip flexors. First it was my left hip flexor, and then it was my right.  The right hip flexor strain lingered on for what seemed like forever, and then one day the discomfort was gone. Of course, I tried to train through it, which I am sure just prolonged the discomfort.

I am not sure what the next two months hold for me, until I start my half marathon training, but over the next several months I am sure that I'll be looking back on May saying "remember when I only ran 100 miles in a month?"

When The Sun Goes Down

Posted on 5/29/2008 to Health and Fitness

This week's Take It and Run Thursday theme over at Runners' Lounge is Running In The Heat, and  here in Texas, we know a little bit about the heat (and humidity, and wind). Heck, some people like to say that we only have two seasons here: summer, and the rest of the year (which seems to amount to less and less time each year). Growing up, the heat never bothered me much, in fact it was something I was proud a sick and twisted way, but whatever, that's a Texan for you...then I moved to Colorado.

While I was only in Colorado for just under two years, that was enough time to totally throw my body out of whack when it came to dealing with the heat (it might also have had something to do with gaining 50+ lbs). When I moved back to Texas, the heat that first summer was unbearable, and has continued to be unbearable ever since. I don't even venture out around downtown Fort Worth for lunch once we get into June!

Between 2002 and 2003, I dropped most of the 50+ lbs. that I gained after moving to Colorado, and it made little difference. I've now dropped another 50 lbs., and all of a sudden, I no longer have a permanent "winter coat." I actually get chilled sometimes, to my wife's amusement. So I've actually been looking forward to this summer, just to see how well I can handle the heat.

But that all came crashing down this past Sunday when I attempted my long run much later than I should have (10:30 AM instead of 6-7 AM), in the trio of heat, humidity, and wind. While I did complete the 11 miles, I had to walk quite a bit during the final 3 miles, including alternating running a walking every .1 mile for the last 1 mile. I also consumed about 60 oz. of fluids during the run, which is a lot more than I consumed on previous long runs (9 or 10 miles, but in much cooler and less humid weather).

It's obvious that I need to do something different if I am going to survive a summer of running. The obvious answer, as many people have pointed out, is to simply get out there and run in the heat, but slower, and for shorter distances. Within a couple of weeks I'll be acclimated. But what about my weekly long run, or my tempo run or intervals? I don't really want to shorten my long run, and I've got to do my speedwork--what do I do about those?

The answer so far has been to wait for the sun to go down and the temperatures to at least fall back to the low 80s, if not the 70s. Of course that might mean running at 10 or 11 PM, which isn't all that fun, and makes for a very late night--and not a happy wife. If only I could get myself out of bed and out the door between 5 and 6 AM!

Until I get acclimated, I'll be slowing down, wearing the lightest colored, most breathable clothing I own, slathering on the sunscreen (should always do this), and putting on the shades (helps keep those squint wrinkles from showing up so soon). I'll also be carrying water, or running in areas with reliable water fountains, and praying for a cooler than normal summer.

Our First Anniversary

Posted on 5/28/2008 to Project 18,253

Yesterday, Julie and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Actually, our celebration started the day before that, on Memorial Day, and continued on through yesterday.

After sleeping in a little bit on Monday, we headed to the gym for a short workout, but not before a quick shopping detour to find a couple of shirts to match the plaid shorts I picked up the day before. An hour and twenty minutes later, we were finally at the gym. While working out might not sound like much of a start to a celebration, if you've been following along here for any length of time, you know exercise is very important to both of us. Besides, we'd be eating at some fancy restaurant later that evening.

After the gym, it was back to the house to pack our bags, get a quick shower, and then head out for the real fun--a hotel party.

For those of you familiar with the area, we stayed in the new Hilton at the Southlake Town a corner suite...very nice. Upon our arrival, we had champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, which were very yummy.

After a quick look around the hotel (checking out the fitness room, and the pool), we ventured over to the hotel bar (inside of Copeland's restaurant) for a drink. The bar is called the 5° Bar, and features vodka and tequila on tap, chilled to 5°F. We each had a margarita on the rocks with Patron Silver and Grand Marnier. Very tasty. Next stop on the anniversary tour was Brio Tuscan Grill for a little snack a their patio bar, because the margaritas were that strong.

After some awesome margherita flatbread from Brio, and a couple of more drinks (mojito for me, and wine for Julie), we headed back to the hotel with enough time to hit the pool before needing to get ready for dinner.

The pool was nice and quiet, but there was no swim-up bar, no waiters and waitresses roaming around taking drink orders...nothing! Oh, wait--that was last year, in Mexico. The pool was nice and cool, and the sun was shining--perfectly relaxing.

After a little fiasco with the iron (it temporarily stained the shirt I brought to wear to dinner), we were off to Truluck's for dinner. This was the first time for both of us to dine at Truluck's, and it was absolutely wonderful!

We started off with "wine flights," as neither of us could settle on any one thing, and we hadn't decided what we'd be ordering for dinner. I had a Pinot wine flight, and Julie had a Chardonnay wine flight. I don't remember the specific wines, but they were all good.

As for the food, we shared the Sauteed Superlump of the best I've ever had! Julie had the Grilled Gulf Red Snapper with their Ponchartrain sauce, and I had their Grilled Tenderloin Medallions, which came with "loaded" potato cakes--OMG! Finally, because we were there celebrating our anniversary (and shamelessly told the hostess as much) the waitress came out with a specially prepared small molten chocolate cake with fresh berries. Also very, very good.

After dinner we took a nice stroll around the Town Square, over to these fancy "brownstones" that they've built. We even stopped to chat with one of the owners who was out working in her garden (escaping the heat of the day?). The brownstones are very nice, and very big. The woman we spoke with said that they had over 3,000 sq. ft.

Yesterday morning, after sleeping in again, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in our room, another dip in the pool, and then it was time to pack up and head out.

But before heading home, we visited Brio for lunch, Central Market to restock on fruit and stuff, and then finally went home to eat the top layer of our wedding cake. (Which I'd been looking forward to ever since May 27th, 2007.) The cake did not disappoint. My mom did a great job of wrapping it up so that it would last a year in the freezer.

It's time for me to go get the boys, so I've got to wrap this up... We had an amazing anniversary! A quick thanks to friends and family for all of your support over the past year.

Runners' Hell

Posted on 5/26/2008 to Health and Fitness

85.3, 62.5, 17.7. Can you guess what those numbers represent? Runners' hell, that's what. Actually, those numbers are the average temperature, humidity, and wind speed during my 11-mile run yesterday. You don't want to see the highs. It was hot, humid, windy, and it sucked! Runners' Hell.

I've decided that I can easily take one of the three, and on a good day, I can deal with two of the three, but three of the three? Forget it. I can honestly say that I haven't been so miserable on a run and looked so forward to it being over as I was and did yesterday. But I finished it. It required a fair amount of run/walks in the final 3 miles, but I did it.

Since I'm all about the numbers today, here are some more: 181.5 lbs. and 175.5 lbs. The first number is my weight when I got up yesterday. The second is my weight when I got home from my run. In between the two weigh-ins I ate half an english muffin with peanut butter, 1 banana, and consumed 60 oz. of fluids--and I was still down 6 lbs!

In the end, I covered the 11 miles along the Trinity Trails in a very pedestrian 2:11.03 (an average pace of 11:53). On the bright side, even on a miserable day it looks like I'll be able to cover my first half marathon in 2.5 hours or less.

A Man Without A Plan

Posted on 5/22/2008 to Health and Fitness

Here it is Thursday, and I am 4 days without a running plan. I finished up my 8-week Smart Coach program from Runner's World this past Sunday, and in a couple of months I'll be starting my official half marathon training program, but I've been at a loss for what to do until then. I've been running with a plan for as long as I've been running—nearly 8 months now! I admit, I feel a little lost.

All of this is not to say that I haven't been running, because I have—9 miles so far this week, with another 5 or 6 tonight, a few more tomorrow, and then I think an 11-mile long run on Sunday. But I need a plan. I need something to tell me what type of run I am doing, the pace of each run, when to run and when to rest... I just need something.

Over on Runners' Lounge, they have a feature called Ask Coach Kellyso I did. I asked her what I should be doing between now and the end of July/first of August, based on my current level of fitness. I got a great (and fast) response, with all kinds of good information. In her response, she talks about periodization, and functional strength training (already working on this one with my strength training), targeting the potential muscular imbalances of runners and endurance athletes. She goes on to suggest 3 to 4 runs per week, and two strength training sessions per week, adding in cross-training as desired. All great information, with suggestions on some articles to read, but still no specific plan to follow.

Should I try designing my own plan for the rest of May, June, and July, or should I go back to what has worked so far? I could try the intermediate 10K program from Hal Higdon, or his advanced 5K program. Or I could generate another program from Runner's World's Smart Coach. Hmm...

Running Intervals

Posted on 5/16/2008 to Health and Fitness

Last night I ran intervals, and that basically concluded my 8-week Runner's World Smart Coach Training Program. Sure, I am supposed to take today and tomorrow off, and then race on Sunday, but I raced this past Saturday, and 2 of the previous 3 weekends, too. Plus we'll be visiting with lots of family this weekend--hey maybe I'll organize a little family 5K fun run!

Anyway, I was saying...oh, yeah...yesterday was interval training day. Overall, it wasn't a really tough training day, just 3x800m @ 4:05, 400m recovery jogs, and a total mileage of 5 miles, including warm up and cool down. The only catch was that J had a baseball game at 6 PM, so I either had to get it in before the game, or later in the night, which really just meant that I might opt not to do it. So I headed up early to the ball fields, which are at one end of a really nice trail, and set out for my run.

I started off with a nice easy 1.5 mile warm up at a 10:46/mile pace, and the proceeded to run half mile intervals in 3:55, 3:54, and 3:46, with quarter mile recovery jogs in between (since I was on a trail, I set my Garmin to .5 mile/.25 intervals, rather than 800m/400m). I wrapped it all up with another 1.5 miles for cool down.

In total, I covered 5.25 miles in 54:41, with an average pace of 10:25/mile, and an average heart rate of 156. Not bad, huh?

10 More Miles

Posted on 5/14/2008 to Health and Fitness

I know I am a little tardy in posting this, but I've been very busy rearranging some things with my web host. Anyway...

This past Sunday I completed my second 10 mile run. Unlike the previous Sunday, when I averaged 11:42/mile, I averaged 10:42/mile, which was my target pace. Of course, I also looked at my Garmin Forerunner 305 while I was running. It definitely wasn't quite as easy feeling as the first 10 mile run, but that's to be expected.

Sunday was also my first run along Trinity Trails. I started from a parking lot on the west side of University, just north of the river, and headed west over to Hwy 183 and back. Of course, from where I left, it was less than 5 miles to the turnaround point, so I had to keep running east of University for a while before I was done.

Overall, I enjoyed the change of scenery, and the people out on the trail, but there were two things I think I can do without:

  1. The cyclists who insist on riding two across, even on narrow sections of the trail.
  2. The stink coming from the rail yard. It was awful!

Next time, I think I will park north of I-30, and head north. Also, next time I need to not forget to put on sunscreen!

2008 Buffalo Boogie Results

Posted on 5/10/2008 to Health and Fitness

Whew...what a race! I knew going in that it was going to be a tough course. The race was advertised as a "flat, shaded, and entirely in the country," well at least they got two out of three right. The person making the claim that the course was flat must've just looked at the net elevation gained/lost--this was pretty much a loop course, so of course the net elevation change is going to be about 0! 

As I was saying, I knew it would be tough going in. I found the course on and mapped it on, to get an idea as to what it would be like. My coworker, Darren, who also ran it (new PR and not only his first sub 30:00 5K, but his first sub 29:00 5k!), took a look at the course using Google Earth, which gave us great feedback on the elevation throughout the course. Fast, downhill start, pretty flat for the next mile and a half, and then uphill for the rest of the race.

In my Pacing the Buffalo Boogie post, I posed the question as to what approach to take for this race. In the end, I decided to go out a little faster than normal, since there was the nice downhill for the first .35 mile. The hope was that I would gain some valuable time, without using up too much extra energy, and then I'd be able to afford to lose a little time in the uphill final mile plus of the race.

Right on time, at 8:30 AM, we were off. As planned, I went out fast, and Darren initially started out even faster. I pulled even with him and let him know we were running a low 7 minute mile pace, at which point he pulled up just a bit. I really tried to hold that pace, but soon found myself running 6:20/mile pace by the bottom of the hill--probably just a little too fast, as I was sucking air already. I spent most of the rest of the first mile trying to recover, while still holding my pace at around 8:00/mile.

The second mile was nice and shaded, though the sun wasn't out, and with the temperature at 75°F, with near 80% humidity, it really didn't matter. Mile 2 was mostly rolling, and never really afforded me a chance to get comfortable. The goal here was to not lose any time to my 8:32 overall pace, which would be necessary to hit my current PR of 26:31. Towards the end of mile 2 we begin the uphill towards the finish.

Mile 3 was as advertised, if not slightly worse. It went up, and up, and up. I was suffering. I had to walk. 3 times. I've not done that before in a race. Somewhere between 2.6 and 2.8, I walked 3 times, for a total of 30-40 seconds. Could I have gone sub-26:00 without walking? I don't know. Maybe. I feel like such a wuss for walking. I can't believe I gave into that little voice that is always sitting there saying "you've done good, it would be okay to walk now." I even took some water at the second water stop, which was somewhere around the 2.5 mark.

In the end, I was able to pull some time back in the final .25 mile, and come through the uphill finish without walking anymore, spewing, or collapsing. My chip time for the Buffalo Boogie is 26:25.76--a new PR! I even passed a few of the folks that I had been running with, who I figured were long gone when I started walking.

Here are the official results: 2008 Buffalo Boogie Age Group Results (It goes straight to my age group--4th place!)

Pacing The Buffalo Boogie

Posted on 5/9/2008 to Health and Fitness

I am having a tough time deciding my race pace for the Buffalo Boogie. Looking at my last 4 races, I tend to run negative splits throughout (i.e., final .11 is faster than mile 3, which is faster than mile 2, which is faster than mile 1)—the exception being the Komen, which I ran with Julie, and really held back for most of the killer 3rd mile, so that I didn’t leave her too far behind. Some of that is surely due to the congestion at the start of the big races. In the Bunny Boogie, which was by far the smallest race, I turned in the most even pace, with only 3 seconds separating my time from mile 1 and my time from mile 3.

To equal my current PR, from the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run, I need to average 8:32/mile. Of course, that doesn’t take into account any additional distance I must cover if I don’t run perfect tangents. Knowing that the last mile is mostly uphill, do I go out faster than 8:32/mile, leaving some breathing room at the end, do I shoot for even splits, or do I hope for more negative splits, perhaps saving a slight amount of energy to really push that 3rd mile?

Considering the mostly flat to slightly downhill first two miles, I am inclined to go out a little faster than my target pace, and hope to just hold on in mile 3.

What do you think?

Registered For The Buffalo Boogie

Posted on 5/8/2008 to Health and Fitness

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I was considering running the Buffalo Boogie 5K this Saturday at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. Well, I just registered for it, so I am running it. Here's the description from

The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is a natural gem on the banks of the Trinity River and Lake Worth with 3800 acres of prairie, woodland, river bottom, and marsh. Buffalo Boogie proceeds this year will support the 24-member bison herd. The Boogie route passes right by our herd, so everyone gets to see these lovely animals. The route is flat, shaded, and entirely in the country!

The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge really is a cool place—it's scenic, has lots of hiking trails, and of course the buffalo herd, plus lots more. Julie and I need to take the boys over there a little more often than we have (we've been once).

As for the hip flexors feel good this morning, though the left one was a little tight (again) during my run last night, so I am thinking of actually racing, and not just going out to "do the run." I am stretching both of them daily, and I've also added some leg lifts to help strengthen them some. Hopefully that will help, otherwise it looks like I am in for a little time off. As for my goal time...that's a tough one. Not counting the Komen Race for the Cure, which I ran with Julie, I've been taking a minute or more off of my 5K PR in each of my last 3 5Ks (that was done over the course of 2 months). It's now been 3 weeks since the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run, where I set my current PR of 26:31, and 2 weeks since the Komen, where Julie and I actually finished with a time that is now my 3rd best 5K time, at 28:40. Aside from the hip flexor issue, my training has been going well--I've been getting in my distance, and doing my intervals and tempo runs. Perhaps I should shoot for a new PR, maybe even shoot for a sub-26:00 5K. What do you think?

Buffalo Boogie

Posted on 5/6/2008 to Health and Fitness

I ran the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run and the Komen Tarrant County Race For The Cure in back to back weekends, two of the last three weekends. With this past weekend off from racing, I am considering entering the Buffalo Boogie, which is held at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, this coming Saturday. Is anyone else doing this run? Has anyone done this run in the past?

The Salsa King

Posted on 5/6/2008 to Eats and Drinks

For my longtime readers, you know that I had a life before running, and that I do have other interests. One of those interests is cooking, and one of my favorite things to make is salsa. I love eating it, too. In fact, I love it so much, we have a party every year, celebrating Tequila and Salsa.

Over the years I've used my coworkers as my informal taste testers for my salsa, so when a salsa contest was announced at work to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, many of them asked if I'd be entering. I've got to admit, I haven't made a whole lot of salsa over the last couple of months, and we were going to be pretty busy over the weekend before the contest, so I really wasn't sure that I wanted to enter. However, late Friday evening I decided to go ahead and enter.

As it turns out, I didn't make it to the store to get my ingredients until Sunday night, and I didn't even start on the salsa until after 9:30 PM Sunday night.  Within an hour, the salsa was ready and tasting good. Monday morning rolls around and I take the salsa to work and set it out for the judging, and what do you know, I win the contest!

So now I am the proud maker of an award winning salsa! Does anyone know how to go about bottling salsa and getting it into the hands (and mouths) of consumers?

Oh, and if you're interested, the winning salsa was based on my Perfect Salsa.

Slow Ride

Posted on 5/4/2008 to Health and Fitness

...Take it easy...

That's sure what I did on what must be my first real long slow run. Sure, I've run a lot of long runs over the last few months, some slower and some faster, but this morning I was truly slow. I know, I know--that's the whole point of long slow runs. And I feel pretty good about it, but something is gnawing at me a bit, like I didn't do enough.

My run this morning was day 7 of week 6 of an 8-week program generated by Smart Coach from Runner's World. 10 miles @ 10:43 pace. At least that is what it was supposed to be. Instead, I decided not to look at my Garmin Forerunner 305 during my run, preferring to just run based on feel--nice and easy. So that's what I did.

I felt good. I felt strong. It was a beautiful morning, with the temperature in the low 50s when I headed out. It was deceiving. I figured the cool temperature was contributing to how good I felt, not an especially slow pace. As the miles went by, I continued to feel strong, even though the temperature had climbed into the 60s, the sun was out, and I was tackling hill after hill. In fact, somewhere between mile 7 and 8, I started thinking about a blog post to the effect of "flattening of the hills." That's how good I felt.

Finally, I hit the end of mile 10. A little walking to cool down, and it was time to check the Forerunner--1:58:02! Oh my goodness, that's like 10 minutes off the pace I was supposed to be running, and not in a good way. No wonder I felt so good during the run, and feel so good now, I was barely moving.

After seeing the overall time, the next step was to check my heart rate and splits. Wow, 146 bpm for 10 miles. That's something, right? I mean that puts my run squarely in the "Long Slow Run" category, where it is all about building endurance, and getting the time in on my feet, right? Just in case I need to feel a little bit better about things--for the first time, the first run at a new long distance didn't own me.

Here are the splits:

  1. 11:59 / 133 bpm
  2. 11:53 / 136 bpm
  3. 12:04 / 144 bpm
  4. 12:06 / 140 bpm
  5. 12:13 / 148 bpm
  6. 11:47 / 141 bpm
  7. 11:45 / 148 bpm
  8. 11:39 / 155 bpm
  9. 11:18 / 162 bpm
  10. 11:15 / 164 bpm

Half Marathon Training

Posted on 5/1/2008 to Health and Fitness

I had so much fun participating in last week's Take It And Run Thursday over at the Runners' Lounge, that I couldn't pass up doing it again this week. This week's theme is "Backwards Take It and Run Thursday," meaning that instead of posting wisdom (or attempting to post wisdom), we should post a question that we have about our running, training, racing, gear, hydration, etc., that we need help answering. As such, I've decided to pose the following questions regarding training for the upcoming San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in November of this year.

For those of you who are new to my site, I have been running since October 2007, and am nearing the end of my fourth training program (started with Couch-to-5K, followed by Hal Higdon's Novice 10K, then Hal Higdon's Intermediate 5K, and now Runner's World's Smart Coach for 5K). I've raced in five 5Ks since December 1st, improving my time from 31:25 to 26:31. My most recent long run was 9 miles (twice), and my next two long runs will be 10 miles. I am currently running between 20-25 miles per week, 4 days a week, with my last two month totals at 93 and 89 miles, respectively. My first half marathon is November 16th.

Given all of this, here are my questions:

  1. How should I train for my half marathon?
  2. When should I start the training?
  3. What program do you consider to be the best to use, given my current level of fitness and experience?
  4. In two weeks, my current program will end--what should I do between then and the official start of my half marathon training?

A lot of questions, but I know the answers are out there. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and help me out!