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Monday, May 30, 2011

Why Not?

Last weekend I ran a 5K in 23:50. For various reasons my legs were trashed before I planned to run. But afterward I had a long conversation with Bob Anderson (founder of Runners World and an old friend) and we talked about competition. Bob tries to run 25 races a year. He loves to run hard. That used to be me but over the last 15-16 years I have become the antithesis of the competitive runners I once was. I knew I needed a break from racing but lately I have thought about coming back.

The problem is that you don't just take 15 years off and then decide to come back. I have never stopped running. The challenge is getting used to running hard again. The 23:50 wasn't all out. It was at best an AT run but because I was tired (v-e-r-y  t-i-r-e-d) I wasn't able to push my HR up to 90% of max.  Neither Bob nor I ran that well. He ran the 10K in just under 45 minutes. But we both won our age groups going away.

It's not about time, Bob said. That was strange because the same thought was on my mind too.

But he had run a 13 miler the day before the race and I had run 4 out of 5 days prior. Usually I run every other day. In any case we both torpedoed our chances for decent times but we still both won our age groups so how much more did we need to win by? The next guy behind me ran in the 29's. Bob, likewise dominated.

This conversation made me think about the last time I truly enjoyed my running. That was at age 50. I was running around 25-35 mpw and doing one rep day focused on the mile. I had semi-retired from racing at age 49 and when I decided to come back I could not break 6 minutes for the mile. 6 months later at age 50, I ran under 5:20. But after that I succumbed to lure of training hard out on the roads and bashed my legs into broken up concrete.

So now it is 15 years later and I have decided to go at this again. My core focus will be the 800. Last year I ran in the 2:50's. This year I am training to break 2:40 which for a guy in the 65-69 age group is pretty fair. Once every week to 10 days I will do what I call a memory workout. My first was today. 8 x 100 in 18-19 seconds. Eventually I hope to run under 80 seconds for 2-3 x 400 and 2 flat for 600 with impunity. I'll have to be able to do that to reach my goal.

The meta goal will be to come through in 2 flat or faster and run a 37-38 second 200.

When I did the mile version of this back in 1995 my 5K dropped from the 19:30's all the way down to the 18:20's. I did not train for the 5K but I benefited from my mile training anyway.

If I can run 2:36-38 then the 5K level is 20 minutes. I may not get that time, but I might get under 21.

Unlike 1995, I don't have a Wednesday group to count on so I may have to use the Saturday workouts for my trial efforts. I can drag ass off the younger faster runners when they  are doing mass intervals.

I will do some tempo running for strength but the core workout will be to stretch those 100's into 200's, 300's and 400's. Not many but just enough.

Long running for the most part is out. 50-60 minutes most days with a now and then longer run of 7-8 miles.

 The formula in 1995 was simple:

1 x 1200 in 4 flat

1 x 400 in under 80 seconds

The formula this time will be similar:

1 x 600 in 2 flat

1 x 200 in under 40 seconds

Bob said to me, maybe it will be tough but maybe you will run faster.

"Why not?" he asked. It was the right question.

Memory workout

Feeling much better today. I departed around 9 AM and ran around the neighborhood and then over to the track to do a memory workout. The goal was to run 8 x 100 in 19-20 seconds with a 300 jog in between. I ended up doing 5 or them in the 19's and the last 3 in the 18's. Then I ran back home. The total was right around 60 minutes.

The secret of keeping track of which rep you are on is to jog the corresponding lane. So in this case I started 8 lanes out and moved in after each rep. That way I didn't have to think about it. I would just check out the lane number or count from the inside lane out to where I was.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tired 80 minutes

I ran tired today. Paid the price for going short of carbs Saturday plus running too well on Friday. Good days used to lead to more good days. That seems not to be the case anymore.

I got out just before 8 am and jogged for 80 minutes. I didn't wear the HRM and maybe that was a mistake. I was wondering what my HR was given the way I felt.

But I started to recover as the run went along and I got a late surge of energy.

It was sunny but also breezy. I was dressed out in a long sleeve T and cap. It has stayed cool and given my liking for cooler weather, I guess I can't complain. I ran over to the college the long way and circled super loops along with the walkers. One of the ladies waved at me. We've never (ever) talked but she smiled anyway because we have seen each other so many times during our workouts.

It looked like there was going to be a soccer game so after a few early loops I stayed away from the field and focused on the track and my campus loop.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Clipping along for 80 minutes

I took off before 8 am and ran 80 minutes with the HR monitor as my "coach". I pushed up the effort gradually into the 144-148 range. The strange thing is that I felt like I was clipping along. It was only during the middle of the run that I timed some sections and found out that I was in the 8:20-40 range which these days is very fast for me. Even one of the walkers on the track mentioned that I was setting a nice pace.

When I got home I stepped on the scale only to find out that I was up several pounds (so in this case IT AIN'T THE WEIGHT!).

I believe the answer for today at least, was that I was back to getting full days off which meant no running and no walking. Too bad because walking helps me burn calories but it's not in the cards. I could all shorter walks to the my running days but that's about it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The secret of the Forbes Mill Loop

One of my goals has been to run the Forbes Mill Loop (2.7 miles) in under 19 minutes. In 2007 I ran 19:06 but since then have come no closer than the 19:30  I ran a year ago. On that run I stopped for 40 seconds at turn around so had I continued to run straight through I might have bagged a time down in the 19:10-15 range.

The key as near as I can figure is to run the two mile section in 14:45. That gives me 4:14 to run the  two .35 segments. 2:14 going out and 2 minutes coming back. 

The tough part is the two mile. I will have to go up the hill in 8:00 and come back down in 6:45. So I hit the top in 10:14 and come back in 8:45. If I can get close, it will be very tough. The critical part is to be able to maximize the downhill section and then go all out from the last marker on it.
The Hill

57 minutes & feeling better

I ran in the neighborhood and the drove over to Forbes to meet with Jake.

We ran the first loop in 26:12. It felt very easy. My HR stayed in the 130's. During the second loop we sped things up slightly and ran 25:06.  Once again my HR was in the 130's but edged into the low 140's during the last section.

I totaled 57 minutes.

I am feeling recovered from the back to back to back workout of the past weekend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

80 minutes

Ran twice today. Once in the morning for 45 minutes before going up to see Big Bad Billy and again in the early afternoon. The second run was 35 minutes.

80 minutes total. All easy running.

My legs are still feeling the 3 out of 4 days I ran late last week (now four out of the last 6. But I am back on track and should begin to feel better.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I start: 23:50 Yuk!

I paid the price for three (3) running days in a row and 4 out of the last five. I ran the San Carlos Rotary 5K. The scene of my last age group victory way back in 1995.  The conditions were perfecto but I was dragging. I promised myself that I would run it at 90% of max or at AT effort but I found it very tough to get going. My HR basically edged up to 168-170 and stayed there most of the first two miles. My legs were too tired for me to push it up any higher. Finally I began to hit 174-175 during the last mile but even that wasn't easy. I came across the line in 23:50 which was roughly in the wide range I expected. I had thought that 23 would be great and 24 not so great.  There is a big hill in the first half mile followed by some rollers  but regardless, my legs felt spongy.

This was not really the 90% effort I expected but closer to 85%. Not being able to push up the HR is usually a sign of very tired legs. My breathing, outside the first hill was fine but the body was begging for a day off.

I had warmed up for about 20 minutes and jogged a bit at the end  so I am rounding my day's work off to 45 minutes.

I had a long chat with Bob Anderson after the race and we talked about the challenge of running as guys in their 60's. Bob ran 44 and change for the 10K but he had run 13 miles yesterday.

If I go back and race again, I can see that getting my legs used to a faster pace will be tough.

San Carlos 5K

Aside from the initial hill in the first 1/2 mile this is a mostly flat course.  It winds through the neighborhoods of San Carlos and is famous once each year as the "San Carlos Hometown Days 5K/10K Fun Run".  Hometown Days is the third weekend of May. 
Directions: Start at the handball wall run toward Arroyo, turn left.  Turn right on Cordilleras.  Turn right on San Carlos.  Turn right on Elm.  Turn right on Howard.  Turn right on Cedar.  Turn right on Brittan.  Turn left on Rosewood.  Turn left on Arroyo.  Turn left on Chestnut.
5K Map

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Friday evening we were BBQing and my wife and I were sitting on the couch having wine while the steaks were cooking. I got up to check on them and my Psoas muscle tightened up. Clenched would be the better word for it. I limped outside, flipped the meat over and then gobbled down some Ibuprofen and slapped an ice pack right on the small of my back.

This morning I jogged 20 minutes and had no pain at all. After the club breakfast I ran another easy 40 minutes and once again had no discomfort. Good thing I am going to see Big Bad Bill on Tuesday.

Constructive Rest Position

Friday, May 20, 2011

Easy 80

Easy 80 minutes this morning. It was cool and sunny. Almost perfect conditions. I originally headed over to the college but some sort of kids event had the track and soccer field tied up in knots so I headed out and did some of my old courses. Ended up coming back on the RR Tracks (aka, THE FORBIDDEN ZONE) and finishing feeling relatively strong.

The reason there is a railroad in Cupertino is the Hansen Cement Plant nestled (or rather carved) in the local hills. Several times a week a train runs from the plant to where ever it goes carry its load. Union Pacific, who owns the right of way does not like people walking along the very wide path next to the tracks but they don't patrol it. So on a daily basis hundreds of folks use it.

 Anyway, here is the plant or the rail head. This is ground zero.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

65 minutes and Forbes Mill

Ran at Forbes this morning. A slow moving storm was just moving out of the area so the trail was wet. We ran the first loop under 27 minutes. On the second loop I hung on Jake's shoulder and we did a 22:45. Not too bad. No stop at the turnaround too. Including my early morning warm up and secret minutes, I topped out at 65 total.

According to Runners World this is the potential benefit of me losing some weight.

At 5K it is roughly 2 seconds per pound per mile. So if I lose ten pounds the benefit per mile is 20 seconds or 62 seconds over 5K.

Lose Weight, Gain Speed
This table, based on changes in maximal aerobic capacity, provides a rough estimate of how much your race times will improve if you lose weight, as long as you have it to lose. If your BMI drops below 18.5, you're at risk of becoming weaker and slower.
2 lbs
12.4 secs
25 secs
52 secs
5 lbs
31 secs
10 lbs
20 lbs

Monday, May 16, 2011

Backing Off

I decided to back off. Only 70 minutes today. No injuries but my feet are slightly sore. So I took it very easy jogging over to the college and running loops. I took in as much soft surface as I could. As the run progressed I began feeling better. The track was mostly deserted except for a few walkers. No classes or golfers so I had the run of the place.

Arrived back at the finish line (home) and didn't even feel the need to ice.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Don Hamilton 80 Minute Run

I drove up to San Mateo this morning to attend Don Hamilton's funeral. Don was a long time training partner and good friend. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's back in 2005. He died in a nursing home early this past week.

I got home in the late morning and went out on a memorial run, covering 80 minutes under lead colored skies.

Hoka Hey

Donald Jerome Hamilton - age: 83
(April 30, 1928 to May 09, 2011 )
Resident of San Mateo, California

Friday, May 13, 2011

85 minutes

I really slowed things down this morning while running an 85 minute workout. I could still feel some of Wednesday's AT effort. Legs were a bit tired but not beat up.

Weather is superb. Sunny, 50's, almost no breeze. But supposedly there are thunder storm on their way for Sunday and part of next week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Forbes Mill today. Overcast and cool.  Maybe mid 50's. Ran the first loop in 26:38. My HR was bobbing around in the 140's. On the second loop I let Jake go out ahead of me before I launched myself on a AT run. I went through the first marker in 2:13 which was fast. I let my HR gradually go up to the low to mid 170's. I wasn't tired at all. I hit the top in 10:42 and then went back down pushing my HR up to 180. Once again, a surprise. It felt easier than  the low 170's had felt a month back. Not feeling the effort at all. Could have gone harder but wisely kept control. Came back to the Mill in 20:35.

60 minutes with all before and after running counted in.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Ripped one off

Ripped off a morning 75 minute run. I wore the HRM (my new running buddy). Kept my HR up in the 65-70% range so I moved along. No ill effects from running 88 minutes yesterday. Cool morning. Low 50's.

Felt strong but closed the run with an easy jog and decided not to go any longer. I could have easily run another 5-10 minutes. If I remember, that's the way a runner is supposed to feel.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

DSE Race (NOT)

Went up to San Francisco with Shel and his neighbor Bob to run the Mother's Day, DSE race. The course was out by Chrissie Field. The weather cooperated to an extent but it was still windy. The course was a contorted pretzel so at one point on each loop we were heading right into the wind. Fortunately I was not racing so it didn't really bother me. 5K didn't give me enough "calories" so I made sure to run extra before and after including a second shorter run in the afternoon.

88 minutes total.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Another 80

80 minute morning slog. Beautiful weather. High 50's and sunny. No wind. 

The usual route. Over to the track and a myriad of super loops and then back home.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Forbes Mill

It was Forbes Mill day. The weather is heating up but it was perfect for an early morning run. Jake and I dropped kicked a 26:18 on the first loop and I ran a 22:53 on the second. Along with warm up and warm down jogs, I totaled 65 minutes.

Monday, May 02, 2011

80 minutes of Galloway

In another back to back effort, I went out this morning and ran 80 minutes as slow as I could. To really keep it easy I threw in one minute walks every 5 minutes for the first hour and then ran steadily in after that. It was pure Galloway.

The key seems to be running very slowly, almost drifting and at times on the verge of walking. I don't time myself per mile but my best guess is that my effort is in the 10-11 minutes per mile range. If I am right then the time on your feet is important, not the pace. I had a great 1983 often going out for secret 8-9 milers at an 8 pace and slower.  An 8 minute pace back then is roughly a 10 pace now.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

8 x 100

Wow, this is getting monotonous. I went over to the track, taking the long way. I was at 25 minutes by the time I got there. I then rambled off 8 x 100 averaging in the 18's with a super loop recovery jog in between. Then another 18 minutes back home for a total of 75 minutes.

The 100's were interesting.  I ran better than expected and certainly better than two weeks ago. The only secret I can divine from the interim period is that except for last Wednesday, I ran all my workouts really slow.