Monday, July 27, 2009

Chasing Time at SF Marathon

Sometimes the sign of trouble is when everything goes well, you have no excuses but you still don’t do as well as you wanted. That’s what happened to me yesterday at the San Francisco Half Marathon.

I went into the race realistically hoping to run sub 1 hour 37 minutes with the faint hope of breaking 1.35 for the first time since going on Creatine. In the old days (4 years ago) I almost always beat my race goals. Back when running was easy. I have done a few 10 mile runs in
the past month, I was feeling great and, although my times for my habitual 8 mile runs have been slower the past year or so, they seemed on par with a 1.37 performance

The course for the half was a little challenging but awesome (although the race organizers suck)
with hills scattered throughout. However, from the first mile I felt good and loose, and full of energy. I felt like I went out pretty fast until I heard 8 minutes at mile 1. I didn’t get appreciably faster, hitting 5 miles in around 38.30 or so. And that’s when the mile markers disappeared for the next 40 minutes. I don’t think I would have been much faster than the 76.22 I went through at 10 but it would have been nice to have some fear to motivate me (I actually do have an excuse). I did accelerate the last 3 miles but slugged home in 1.38.46.

So I have a lot of work to do in the next 5 months if Boston 2010 is going to happen. Hopefully that will make it all the sweeter.

Footnote: My dad ran 1.58, which is incredibly impressive since he is in the 65-69 year old age group.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hero for a day or a lifetime

Nailing specific goals like marathons personal bests (or 20 straight pullups) requires periodization, meaning you train really hard for a few months a year and take it easy for a few months. Build up and break down. But I can't embrace this approach. I dread the hard stuff way too much and am racked with guilt if I do too much easy. That's one of the reasons I can't embrace Cross Fit. The crushing prospect of Angie would have me up all night in fear and the one day off every fourth day would have me convinced I was atrophying and acquiring fat, no matter what I did in the preceeding three days. So I remain stuck doing the same 8 mile runs, 210 pound bench presses (1oX mind you) and 15 pullups, convinced I am a hero.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Inspiration and revulsion

Sometimes inspiration doesn't come from the winner of the race. Today lance did not win Stage 15 of the Tour de France; he got 9th on the stage and relatively struggled in the last 5 miles. But watching him as a 37 year-old not giving up, fighting to maintain form was incredibly inspirational and pumped me up to do a 10.5+ mile run today. I didn't smoke it but it's the best I have felt on a long run in a while. With 6 more stages of the race, I anticipate several more charged runs.

After watching a segment on This American Life that documented genetically altered pigs, I am now giving up pork and beef. God help me if I watch Food, Inc. because I will then be forced to give up almost all forms of protein, including chicken, and then my life will lose all meaning. I have gone down this path before - in college I gave up pork and beef for about a year until I went to the US Open and devoured a plate full of nachos. I had a valid excuse as I was synthetically hungry.

Booked plane tickets for Ben and Sam's trip two week to California in August which will be awesome. Ben wants to go to either Yosemite or Joshua Tree to do some serious climbing; not sure I am officially on board with that yet (see yesterday's post) but at the least we can have Iron Gym contests in my apartment.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fear and smaller me

Last weekend I went rock climbing with Ben and Sam and I have finally hit the inflection point where they are both starting to exceed me in physical performance. Not only can Ben now do slightly more pullups than me but he is an incredible rock climber. We went to the world famous Shawangunks in New Paltz, NY and he went flying up 70 foot cliffs with little fear while I quit after 4 feet. Too scary.

I have been off Creatine for four days now in an attempt to lose some bulk and get down to 170 pounds by the California International Marathon. In the past three years, I have begun to go slowly slightly slower on my habitual 8 mile runs; I'm not sure if this is the inevitable sign of aging or if the extra 10 pounds have made a difference. I'm about to find out in the next five months although if I lose the weight but don't gain the speed I am not going to admit it's age.

Hack and the Flack is going really well. Mike and I have had some kickass interviews recently - many of course focused around Lance in interviews with Bill Gifford of Slate/Men's Journal and Bonnie Ford of ESPN, but we also had Dan "Fake Steve Jobs" Lyons of Newsweek, Emily Bazelon of Slate and Ashlee Vance of The New York Times. It has been much easier than I thought to get relatively famous reporters to agree to do the program but they of course have egos and want to push their names. As I do but they are just better at it so far.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Personal Records

One of the good things about exercising is you can come up with goals you'd like to achieve, train for them and nail them. Result: you feel like you accomplished something in your life even if you aren't starting the next Google, curing cancer or becoming the next Governor of California (must read article). There are some people like J-Tris who seem to set a personal record for a marathon or Ironman every time they do one. I'm not of those people. Those goals don't come easy so I set my goals lower.

Recent accomplishments include:

1) Just did 17 pullups straight - this is nothing like Dave Borders 31 (which is captured on video) but he kips and I can't. My goal is 20 straight by the end of the year, which is a higher goal for 2009 than saving lots of $$.

2) Number of 400s in 1.45 or faster without pulling my hamstring. I hit 9 last week even though I was shooting for 12, but had slight pull on 9th one. It must have been the searing 1.39 I hit on the 8th.

3) Nailed my 14th week in a row of wimping out on back-back-to-back days of 10 mile runs. I say I am going to do it but then call up the rule of only one run over 8 miles per week, No rational for that rule other than fear of pain.

4) Number of articles I can read about Lance in one day that all say essentially the same thing. I believe I hit that with 24 yesterday.

Tomorrow's goal - number of times I can do the exact same 8 mile loop at the exact same pace yet think I am going to get faster. 9 years and counting.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Not ready to commit

I am still going through an internal battle over my desire
to run a relatively fast marathon (sub 3.30) to qualify for the Boston Marathon
and my other interests and passions.

1) Diet.
I basically believe in the carbohydrate, fat and protein diet, and have a whine
fest if vegetables are suggested as the main part of a meal or fruit the
desert. I don’t need to radically reduce my body fat percentage but I am sure I
would feel better if I listened to some semblance of reason. But the whole
point of exercising is so I can eat whatever I want.

2) Ectomorph.
I alternate days of lifting and running, which results in me being a skinny
lifter and a heavy runner. I am
comfortable with this except the added 20 pounds or so of upper body bulk is
not helping me run faster. But it does prevent me from running everyday, which
I am sure would cause me to burnout. And look 70 years old. And be single. Oh
wait, I am.

3) Balance.
I do try and maintain some form of balance in my life, which means doing things
beyond just running. For example, I joined a tennis league, and the stopping
and starting of tennis isn’t helpful for long distance running. But I joined
and played a few matches, and ended up sore and almost injured my hamstrings.
So I quit the league. Of course, that was more because I lost my second match
than because I was trying to prevent injury.

4) Moderation.

I would rather run 5 miles a day and never get injured than try and train for a
marathon and get hurt. I like the daily endorphin fix rather than
pursuing the big goal with a cost. But then I change my mind when I read about
Lance going after his goal. I want both but not sure I can have them.
Especially when I tweaked my hamstring doing 400s today.

More to come.