Monthly Archives: August 2006

paddle paddle paddle

spent the last few days up at kris’ parent’s cabin in northern wisconsin.  nice time – the pace is a bit different than we’re used to.
i dusted off the family canoe and took it for several hour-long excursions chasing loons and herons on the lake.  it was calm enough out there for me to brave taking my camera along too.  there were two loons that would bob around on our end of the lake.  they’d surface for a bit, and i’d clumsily try to take a couple of pictures.  then they’d go under for some foos, leaving me guessing as to where they’d come up next.  repeat 12x, and that’s half a canoe ride.  after a while i’d give up and paddle over to a state-owned island, where i could count on seeing a heron.  i’d try unsuccessfully to sneak up on the big bird, but pretty soon he’d get wise to me and flap over to the far reaches of the lake.  then i might noodle over the lilypads a while.
riveting, no?
i took the kids out a couple of times too.  they seemed to enjoy this in small doses, as long as their uncle wasn’t terrifying them in the water by acting like a sea monster.
saturday, i was paddling around  looking for my friends the loons when they started calling out.  i stopped paddling, closed my eyes and just listened.  for that brief moment, there were no speedboats, no jetskis, just the sound of the water and the loons.  magic.
don’t understand why people want to crap up a nice time like that with a bunch of noisy machinery.

annual mosquito-hunting trip

weather report this morning : chance of severe thunderstorms.  tornado warnings to the west.  high temperature of 80, humidity 1000%.
we’re visiting kris’ family in minnesota.  this is a nice part of the country, except for the weather.
we’re having a good time visiting with family and friends here.  the kids are really enjoying seeing their cousins.  it’s a sadness that they only see each other once a year, and that they’re growing up 1500 miles away.  right now they can pretty easily start where they left off with each other, but perhaps that gets harder when they get older.
our friends lisa and mike have moved here from california.  they’re considering making an offer on a place one town north of here.  it’s a big new home on small lake, and for reasons of regional authenticity, has a nice view of the water tower.
i’ve done a couple of good runs since being here.  monday was a rest and travel day, but i did 7 miles on tuesday, mixing in a couple of small hills and keeping a good pace (just over 8 min/mile).  it was about 84, and nice and dry.  my quads were hurting from running up mt si on sunday, but the pace felt pretty natural anyway.
did a hard track workout yesterday in the heat.  i had intended to follow the eastside runners track workout, but ended up shortening it a bit (by about 1200 meters).  i did fast intervals of 1600-1200-800-400 meters, with 800 meters of recovery between.  i still struggle to nail my intended pace (tending to go faster, which means i don’t usually negative split).
i’ve been doing speed workouts regularly for about three weeks now, and have really noticed a difference in my running.  i still look ahead to these workouts with some apprehension, but am definitely feeling better during the runs themselves.  during the first one (pre-chi), i did 5×800, crapped out during the last two repeats (got significantly slower – up to 10 sec slower per 800).  yesterday, i began the 1600 interval with a 1:31 400 – and felt like i was well within my capabilities – then i slowed down because i didn’t want to start the speed workout with a 6 min/mile pace.  what i ended up doing was closer to a 1:40/400 pace consistently for most of the repeats.  towards the end, i managed to speed up too – which implies that i’m being smarter about my pace in the early intervals.
i think a key part of this remains the form changes i’ve over the past few weeks.  applying the chi running techniques, i’m watching my cadence, straightening my back, leaning forward, and belly-breathing.  i’m not sure whether it’s just the form changes themselves, or whether the psychological effects of focusing are significant factors.  anyway – so far, it’s working.
i’m hoping that things will come together at race time ….

demons are playing the ‘annie’ soundtrack in my head

not really, although it feels like that.
my eldest daughter is going to be in a play this week, so she’s been learning her lines and all of the songs.  the way she’s done this is to play the music over and over and over …
i want to be a supportive and understanding dad, but it’s difficult when a cacophony of pre-pubescent sopranos keep telling me
"IT’S A HARD KNOCK LIFE <clang clang> FOR US <clang clang>"
By the way, said daughter is scary smart.  We went to go see a local production of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" the other night.  A few minutes after the play started, she turns to me and says "I don’t understand what they’re saying".  I tell her "concentrate on what they’re saying for a little while and it will all make sense.  This is the way people talked in 16th century England".  A few minutes later, she asks me "what did oberon just say?".  I answer "who?".  She says "the lord of the fairies".  I say "who?".  At that point she gives up on me and begins asking her grandmother for help.  that means she’s both smart and pragmatic, like her mom.

this time, i’ve gone too far

one of the difficult things about endurance sports is the time investment.  between my wife kris and i, we’ve spent nearly 20 hours preparing, training, or doing events in the past week.  that’s a significant chunk of time, especially with job, kids, and everything else there is to do.
i try to make the time spent training count.  i’ve logged all of my running for the past several years here.  this really helps in a number of ways :
  • the act of writing this down makes me think about how successful each run is.  i record not only how far and fast, but also how i felt while doing it.
  • i can see trends more easily.  i usually run between 30-35 miles per week.  more than that and i start to feel tired.  i know that one speed workout, and a couple of tempo runs are about my max too.
  • i’ve got lots of info about how long particular routes are – which helps me plan.

with all of this data (subjective and objective) i can see what’s working and what’s not.  my entries from june reflect how down i felt after crashing during the deadwood trail marathon.  being results-oriented is pounded into us in the workforce, so there’s a tendency to focus on those.  results come out of your day-to-day process though – so i’m always learning as i go.

over the past several weeks, i’ve stepped up my training quality significantly, preparing for the top of utah marathon next month.  focusing on this new goal, and seeing some good results day-to-day have really turned me around mentally from where i was about a month ago.  i’m concerned about running at altitude again, but will be as prepared as i can be.

so – this was what sent me outside to run 23 miles yesterday.  i planned this route the night before.  if you look at the elevation plots you’l notice that there’s a fair bit of up and down – taxing my body by climbing is one of the ways i can simulate running at altitude.  this run isn’t as difficult as running in the mountains, but it does the job – especially since there are a good 3 miles of climbing close to the end of the run.

i did a similar (less-challenging) run a couple of weeks back, and was really wiped out towards the end.  my latest experiment is with chi-running though – and the form focuses and more efficient technique seems to have worked.  don’t get me wrong – i felt tired from about mile 11 on.  i kept focusing on belly-breathing, cadence, keeping my upper-lower body aligned, and leaning forward a bit (to create momentum), and this all seemed to help significantly.

the wierdest part of this whole experiment is the uphill running method.  you turn to face about 45 degrees to the side, and run taking your back foot across the front of your body (like you’re climbing a hill on skis).  it looks pretty funny, and feels pretty awkward yet.  results here are mixed – my heart rate doesn’t climb as high, but my hip flexors are pretty zapped by this.  i climbed about 1700′ feet yesterday, much of it running sideways, but the jury is still out.

i’m noticing that different muscles are fatigued too.  i’ve got no calf cramping, and my quads are okay.  my hips are pretty sore though.  i think this is by-design, since most of the work should come from your core muscles, rather than your legs.  still – i almost need to do a real comparison of this method and my usual method in order to know.  at least i haven’t fallen down yet.

anyway – running 23.5 miles took about 4 hours.  not a bad place to be six weeks before the race.

a little bird told me it was time to wake up at 4:30 am

there’s no place I’d rather live during the summer than the pacific northwest.  it doesn’t get too hot, and there’s a momentary break in the rain.  the mountains are out.
the downside is that the birds start singing in earnest at 4:30 am.  this is a problem when you sleep with the windows open.  you need to sleep with the windows open because it doesn’t make sense to spring for air conditioning here.  you’d only use it a few weeks out of the year.
the upside is that it stays light really late.  there’s time to fit in a run through the state park near our house after putting the kids to bed.  by then, the trails are pretty empty too – most of the equestrians have called it a night.  i’ve tried doing this run using a headlamp.  it’s kind of fun, but also kind of stupid.  there are lots of roots to trip on, and the trails are serpentine enough that one wrong turn means you might spend a couple of hours finding your way back out.  on the other hand, that can be part of the fun if you’re not in a hurry, and you have adequate water, fuel, and light.
on the subject of doing crazy things, i signed up for the top of utah marathon today.  as an aspiring 50-state marathoner (9 down, only 41 to go!) this looks like a nice one.  it’s small, well organized (according to the online marathon guide I use).  the course seems pretty, the race small, and it’s mostly downhill.  the only catch is the 5000′ of altitude.  given my adventures running at altitude at the pacific crest half marathon in sunriver oregon and the deadwood mickelson trail marathon in south dakota, this will be a significant challenge.
 still – i’m looking forward to it.  i’ve never seen utah outside of the slc airport.  and running a marathon is a great way to sightsee.