Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘training’


It seems that for a while now there is a great deal of buzz on the Interwebs about “planks”.  I recently read a Tweet or FB post from Ryan Hall commenting on how long he could hold a plank.  Even I got onto the plank bandwagon a month or two ago as just something extra to add to my Winter routine.  However, in my own opinion, I think I will stick with the old standby of push ups.

First, I will describe a plank.  It is similar to a push up.  You are prone on the floor, then you raise yourself on your elbows, straighten your body and hold it rigid (while breathing) for as long as possible.  This is not as easy as it looks.  After doing them for a week (four planks in all), I timed my next one and discovered I could not quite hold the plank for a full minute.

The planks benefits are in strengthening one’s core, which includes shoulders, chest, back, glutes, and quads.  Yes, I am sure a real anatomy aficionado would get more detailed, but that is what I saw from one illustration.  Runners and cyclists both need strong core muscles.  The core is what helps hold us firm in the saddle and on the road.

So, I am not against planks to improve one’s core.  The plank is an effective method, I think, for strengthening the core.  My difficulty just came from the length of the plank versus the level of improvement.  I know that I spend a longer length of time doing as many push ups as I can than when doing a plank alone.  Probably, if I had stuck with planks longer, I would have seen the same results as I have with push ups, it just would have taken longer.

Push ups, are just what your junior high or high school phys ed instructor or that ornery drill instructor from the military taught you.  Same prone position at the start, however, you use your upper body strength (your arms and shoulders) to lift your whole body off the floor.

To do push ups correctly, one should maintain that same rigidity of the whole body as you do during a plank.  Second, one is also supposed to go all the way down and all the way up.  If you looked at your arms in the down position, they would be close to a 90 degree bend at the elbow.  When you are all the way up, your back should be straight and not curved and your arms are straight.  This isn’t a yoga move.

After doing planks for about three weeks, I switched to push ups.  At first, I couldn’t do more than about 20 and not even all 20 at one time.  But, I stuck with it and over the next several weeks, I improved to my current 60 or so each day.  I got to a higher level for a week or so, but it’s gone back down since I took more time doing them correctly.  I still can’t do the whole 60 at one time, but I have improved to 30 on the first set.

I noticed the improvement a couple of weeks ago on a long run of about 8 miles.  Often, as I run longer, I just seem to get tired and really have to work at holding myself in the correct posture for running.  However, this particular Saturday, I didn’t.  I noticed a definite lack of effort in keeping my upper body straight and correct, even near the end of the run. That was a good feeling.

That good feeling has continued.  I believe that planks gave me a nice start, but I improved my core strength much quicker after the switch to push ups.  I only did planks for about three weeks and have been doing pushups for over a month, so I don’t really think the planks were the improvement.  I still hold with the push ups as the major reason my core improved.

Regardless of whether one does planks or pushups, I recommend core work for runners and cyclists.  I am a believer in core work after seeing the improvement in my running just from this short time of working my core.  I expect to see even more improvement over the Spring as I can get out for longer runs and rides. So, I’ll say that push ups are better than planks for core work, if you wish to improve a little quicker than planks alone would accomplish. Additionally, I think that push ups give the upper body more work than doing planks.  Happy running!

Read Full Post »


Yep, I’m back.  No, I didn’t go anywhere.  I’ve just been busy.

Since the first of this year, my family’s budget has been much more strict.  That can be problematic when you’re a triathlete, clydesdale or otherwise.  It’s kind of normal that in the 21st century, everything is an industry these days.  So, yes, there is the running industry, the triathlon industry, and I even work in the healthcare industry.  Side note: In my own personal opinion and belief, healthcare of any kind should never be considered an “industry” in any sense.  It should always and only be considered ministry, regardless of your religion.  We should be working ourselves out of a job, not creating permanence and profit. That being said, industries have one primary goal in mind: setting their followers free from the green stuff in their pocketbooks and making them feel good about it.

That’s not cynical, people, it’s just true.  Industries are in it for making money.  They exist because they have constituencies; followers.  Runners need shoes, shorts, shirts, gels, sleeves, compression gear…and the list goes on and on.  Get it–runners NEED this stuff (feel free to substitute cyclist, triathlete, etc.).  And, it’s true that there are times when we do need the stuff, or it may help us in one way or another.  However, many times, we just want it.  Of course, for many triathletes, what we  most want is the next race, or ride, or whatever event there is down the pike.

Previously, during most of the year, I was budgeted to one event per month (except for special instances). One race or one ride.  Now, even those will be hard to come by, so I am doing with less of them.  I attended one ride this Spring, primarily because it was inexpensive and we didn’t have to travel far (and there was something for sweetie to do while I rode).  I was able recently to sign up for the Dallas Half Marathon in December because of a birthday gift.  No, I am not complaining, but I am learning a lot more about what it means to be a runner or a cyclist this way.

I’ve learned I can do without Clif bars.  I’ve learned I can do with just Gatorade.  I already reported that while funds were available, I pre-bought two pair of running shoes so they would last.  I’m keeping my 400 mile pair in service for short runs to make them last even longer.  I’ve also learned to get more out of my workouts than just a notch up for the next race or event.

Usually, by now, I am into full swing cycle mode for the Summer.  That hasn’t happened this year.  I have switched to doing long runs on Saturdays instead of going out and riding.  Mainly because I can’t get any medium length ones during the weekdays.  I was finding that if I got up at 4AM and did 6 to 8 miles, I was wasted for working that day.  Also, by waiting until Saturday, I can run longer and get into better condition, all while seeing the sun come up.  Much better, I think.

But, I’ve gotten some riding time in as well.  I’ve just had to be creative.  I’ve loaded up the bike on the car and driven out to a large trail where I can ride safely on Sunday afternoons sometimes.  Yes, that may be anathema to some, but it is better than nothing.  A friend recently started up his Sunday morning group ride around town.  Since I don’t have to be at church at 7AM any more, I can now ride.  Also, much better.

I’ve been working on a better running workout that is doing me some good right now.  My weekday runs are limited to about 3 and no more than 5K at a time.  Then on Saturdays, I’ve been working from 8 to 14 miles.  I just finished the first cycle a couple of weeks ago and now I’m going from 9 to 14, then 10 to 14, then 12 to 14.  After I finish that cycle, I’ll go back to 8 and start over again.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far it has felt very good to get out and do the longer runs like I was doing for the marathon.

I’m trying to hold 1,000 yds. in swimming, but I waffle some.  I’m down to just one day as Mondays are seniors only at my pool.  It’s a lot less busy that way and I can swim better.  An Ironman friend of mine had been doing a workout where he ran to the pool, did his swim, then ran home.  I’ve started doing that some.  It’s a killer workout, to borrow a cliche, but well worth the effort.

I hadn’t really been a running clothes horse.  My only few important things I’ve had for a while; a couple pairs of compression shorts, and some really good socks, plus a pair of winter woolies and running pants for Winter.  Almost all of my shirts are race shirts or were bought at Wal Mart or Target.  You can get decent stuff there.  I haven’t need any clothes this  year, but if I did, I know where to look.

It’s been different not racing or going to rides as much.  I’ve been blessed with more great runs this way than usual.  I am still getting to do new things.  I’ve noticed I am running much faster than I used to run.  It’s decently exciting to finish a long run on Saturday and discover you didn’t take as long as you thought.  It’s also good to be able to run by the grocery store on your run and see folks you know.

Running and working out is about a lot more than just the events.  You really don’t have to have a lot of money to do it.  You do need to have really good shoes though.  There you cannot scrimp.  That just requires planning and budgeting to make it work.  I’ve been reminded a lot more lately of just what it means to be an athlete (or “late onset athleticism as John Bingham calls it).  At my new job, I have been able to put into practice all those things I believe in about being a craftsman such as doing a good job just because it’s the way you do a job.  Now, I’ve been able to apply those lessons to running, biking, and swimming.  Doing them well just because you should and because  you can.  Triathlon training on a budget does work.  Happy running, ya’ll!

Read Full Post »


I hadn’t done any serious cycling since last Summer.  Though I had gotten out on the bike a few times this Spring, it’s been difficult trying to find time and place to do everything.  I was concerned whether or not I was ready to ride 60 miles at the Head for the Hills rally this past weekend. But, I was anxious to get out on a really long ride.

This ride is in Cedar Hill, TX; very near where I live.  I think this was my fifth year to ride it, but I’m not sure. It has always been a fun ride that is not too challenging.  I even got lost year before last and ended up in Mansfield, TX and had to make my way down a major highway just to get back to Midlothian.

I checked the weather the night before because wind can be a major factor on this ride.  My Weather Channel app said that the wind would be out of the north-northeast at 10 to 15 mph.  That didn’t sound bad.  However, the weather man ( or my weather app) lied about the wind speed.

I actually ran into a couple of folks I knew and lined up with them for the start.  They were talking about riding together, but when the start happened, there was too much waiting, so I took off.  Times a wastin’, ya’ll.

The whole first 35 miles or so was not only good, it was scary great.  We were moving fast.  I knew we had the wind at our backs, but it was only 10-15 mph, right?  We must just be moving well.  NOT.  The wind was at least 20 mph, and probably gusting higher. On some descents, it made it white-nuckle scary.

The back roads around Cedar Hill and northern Ellis County can get pretty narrow.  Many of these are chosen for the Head for the Hills ride and they are chosen well.  The twists and turns make the ride fun.  However, when you are dropping into a tight downhill turn on what is really only a one lane road at about 24 mph, the fun dies back somewhat.  I was fortunate in that I was in a large group of riders and could depend on them hollering back if any cars were coming.

I ran across one lady rider that was down just after a curve.  She had a lot of help around her, but I still thought it appropriate to ask if she was alright as she was being helped to the side. “Nope, not really.  Everything’s not quite alright,” was her answer as I peddled away.  I saw another guy go down in front of me.  I still don’t know what happened to him.  He was about 100 yards in front of me with his partner when he just flipped out and went down; on a straight road.  He was OK too, so I rode on.

When we made the turn back to the north, all the fun stopped.  Facing a 20 mph wind on a bike is a chore.  But, I’ve done it before and the ride still had to be finished, so I dropped the gears and the speed and just kept it up.  We made it up to the 40 mile rest stop fairly soon after the turn.  I decided it was time for a good rest before tackling the wind and the hills back to Cedar Hill.  This is a good rest stop because it is at a glider airport.  This time I got to see a glider get pulled up into the air.  It was a good day for gliding.  Lots of wind.

The last 20 miles or so were uneventful.  Just slow gutting it out against the wind.  Did I mention it’s all uphill back to Cedar Hill?  But, near the finish of the ride, things picked up. One guy near the finish that said he was going to draft off of me for a while.  I thought that was funny.  I’m not usually fast enough to draft from.  I also got a crack out of the two ladies that had just decided to stop at the Dairy Queen at the highway and have some ice cream before finishing.  Then there was the group of guys that turned back into the ride about a quarter mile from the race.  They had stopped to have lunch at Babe’s Fried Chicken before they finished.

I finished up in 5 hours even.  Certainly decent and typical for me at 60 miles.  However, we took off at 8AM and I was at 20 miles at 9:12 and 40 miles at 10:40, so you can get an idea of how much the wind slowed me down.  Five hours put me back in exactly at 1 PM.  You can see that it took from 10:40 to 1 PM just to get the last 25 or so miles done. Whew!

Cedar Hill is always a good ride.  I’ve hardly ever had any rain beyond just a few sprinkles.  It is often windy in one way or another.  A north wind in May is unusual and its a little better on this ride to have a south wind.  In addition, this ride helps a lot of folks in their area with the proceeds.  I’d recommend this one to anyone in the DFW area, especially because it’s close to us.  Most rides are much further out.

I’m probably going to be writing less for a while.  I’ve got several things I would like to work on besides just this blog.  I’d like to get a tech blog going and see how that works.  I’ve lost some of the motivation I used to have for writing, but thankfully, people keep actually reading what I write.  That always helps me remember that there is a good reason for what I’m doing.

I think I’ve finally gotten together a workout plan that works for my new schedule.  I run on Monday and Thursday mornings before work.  I spin on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to take off a little of the pressure from running.  I am doing my long runs on Saturday mornings (unless I have a ride).  That has helped in getting the longer miles in without getting up at 4 AM.  Now, I ride on Sunday afternoons when I can by taking the bike to Campion Trail.  I’d rather ride out myself, but the traffic just doesn’t work well.  I round this off with one or two evening swims, if I can.  That schedule should keep me fit and ready for whatever I want to do.

That should be enough for now.  My next ride is the Tour de Pepper in Dublin, TX in early June.  I’ll probably write again after that ride.  Happy running and cycling!

Read Full Post »


Wow, I haven’t written a post on this blog since February 24th.  That’s wayyyyy behind.

Well, RL has intruded quite squarely into my writing.  It’s a toss up between the new job and the weather.  The new job is going well, but it’s a lot more tiring than I thought.  I’m pretty beat when I get home in the evenings, physically and mentally.  Add to that the rather longer stretch of cold weather we’ve had in North Texas this year and my motivation for writing seems sapped.

So, I started today on something maybe to change that.  I’m working on making video posts.  I hoped to do up one just in a jiffy…NOT.  I worked last night and this morning on that task and am still not finished with just a short two minute introduction video.  I have it made, but now I need to edit it just a little (cut off the bad front and ending), but I can’t figure out how my editor works.

I have been keeping up on my running and riding, but it’s not as consistent as I’d like.  I’ve managed only one 20 mile week since December.  Most of that problem is just weather.  Tired of the cold mornings.  I couldn’t run this Wednesday because of rain.  I did get up and run a good 8-miler Thursday, but it had just finished raining and dropped into the lower 40’s overnight.  A good run though.  I think the only thing that has gone good is my strength training.  I’ve moved up in weights some.

Not too much more to say today.  I’ve got an evening shift which is the only reason I managed to piece together enough brain cells for this much.  However, Spring is coming and things will be getting warmer.  I’m also finally starting to get comfortable in the new job, so I can shift my brain around a little more.  Happy Running and Cycling!

Read Full Post »


The past week or so has been good for running, though in a weird sort of way.  I thought I’d relate my week to you all because as I reflect on it, I realize it’s time to take down my shingle as a “newbie“.  I write this to encourage anyone that can still safely and proudly display their shingle as a “newbie” runner, cyclist, or triathlete.

It’s February in North Texas and that means I am completely ready for Spring to be sprung, but the weather just doesn’t cooperate.  We go from warm humid days to freezing and raining overnight, it seems.  It can make one’s planning for morning run preparations quite difficult.  In addition, I usually try to ride early on Saturday mornings right now, but have found that below about 40 degreesF is just too cold. So, what to do?

Last week, I got in a full four days of running as is my usual bent.  On Thursday, it was the coolest of the week, I think.  I had to run a four miler to finish out the week and thought I’d run an old route I used to run.  It has a few hills and I discovered via an achilles problem that it’s not good to run hills every day.  But, my usual route is so flat and boring I just needed the change.

Being a cool morning, I could take out fairly quickly but figured I’d lose it pretty soon.  I’ve been working on pacing since last Fall during marathon training.  I’ve always tried to run by feel, but have found out that I can get lazy.  If my fitness, distance, and time is going to improve, I need to keep my pace in a range that keeps my body challenged.  So, I’ve been working on finding a pace that is comfortable, but at the edge.  It’s a bit like threshold running, but without going quite that far.  I am doing this so that I keep my pace improving as my fitness improves, and that I don’t get lazy.

This was a good morning for that.  I know that if I feel myself speeding up during a run and that it’s not correspondingly hard, then I am doing well.  On that morning, despite the cold and the hills, I was speeding up.  During the last mile, I was wondering if I would break a goal of mine, 4 miles in under 45 minutes.  For the longest time, I’ve been a 50 minute 4-miler.  During the last half-mile, I did my best to run nearly as fast as I could.  My final time was a little over 44 minutes.  Just a little over an 11-minute mile average.

This week, I was hopeful for a full week of running, but the weatherman wasn’t.  After two good days, I had to stay home on the trainer for Wednesday and Thursday because of cold and rain.  Although, the weatherman’s doom and gloom forecast for Thursday morning was behind schedule and I could have run.  Since Saturday was forecast to be sunny but cold in the morning, I thought I would console my missed runs with a real long run.  Cycling down near freezing is just uncomfortable to me and running is doable. I planned an 8-miler, longest run since December.

The first three or four miles seemed normal for this distance, but that was probably the hills.  At about 3.5 miles, I hit a flat spot that holds for a while.  I felt that same increasing pace again.  I was able to hold it and it was doing fine.  I was expecting to see another 11-minute or so average.  Imaging my surprise when I finished out and looked at the Strava reading: 1:30:29 and a 10:30-ish AVERAGE pace.  I cannot ever remember or believe I could have run this distance that quickly.

No it’s not real fast, relatively.  Yet, for me it’s speedy.  It hasn’t been that long since I was just doing 13 minute miles and if I had a really good day, it might be a 12:30. So, 11’s and 10’s of any sort seem like I’m burning rubber.  I guess after four and a half years of running, I might better quit considering myself a beginning runner.

Someone I know that just started a fitness regimen recently asked me, “How do you run for 26.2 miles?”  They couldn’t imagine running that far because it hurt so much to run just a little.  Well, when I started, it hurt then too.  But, I didn’t quit.  I adjusted and my body adjusted also.  If we keep going our body will continue to improve and prepare itself to improve even further.  But, we also have to watch out for plateaus where we become content with what we have done and forget to continue to improve.  If you’re a beginner or a “newbie”, then be proud you are.  Carry that title with honor and just keep going.  Tell yourself that one day, you will have to take that title down and put up a new one.  But, until then, even though it’s just a cliche’, you’re lapping everyone still on the couch.  You’re a runner.  You’re a cyclist.  You’re a triathlete.  Those are much better titles and having beginner beside them is no problem.  Happy running or cycling!  Remember, Spring will be here soon.

Read Full Post »


It has been a good two weeks since my last post.  I have had a lot to do in that space of time.  I started my new job and am getting comfortable and working on that task.  I just finished my final exam today for College Algebra (Whew!). I survived a DNS outage and got ready for a presentation on the web site I’ve been working on. And, I’m still running mostly, sort of, kind of, regularly.

I began work at the new hospital two weeks ago.  I’m doing HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) work for them, plus refrigeration.  We’ve both been getting used to each other, though I think I probably have more adjustment to do than they do.  I came from a “one person doing it all” kind of opportunity via a huge mega-hospital experience and have now stepped into small-town-cozy-but-very-energetic hospital experience.  It’s a challenge sometimes, but I am adjusting and getting to learn everyone and our new systems.

I just finished up two days of working evening shift, which I have never officially done before.  It’s quite different, but it went well.  I’ve managed to keep up my work and still get a few things done that we couldn’t during the day.

I have a good crew of people to work with.  Two other guys doing HVAC with me and a host of folks that handle lots of other things.  They’ve been very helpful and friendly.  I learned quickly after starting work there that this really is where I am supposed to be for right now.  It’s a good place.

Because of the new job, I managed to purchase my first pair of Nikes this weekend.  I tried wearing some regular hard working shoes for two weeks, but they have been killer.  I think I’ve become too accustomed to living in running shoes.  I managed to find a pair of Nike Alvord 10 trail runners for work.  Their main feature that I wanted–they were all black.  Hopefully, they won’t get noticed and I’ll get to keep wearing them.  They were certainly comfortable last evening.

Our city’s bike lane task force is getting going again for the year.  We had the first meeting this last Wednesday.  I was on the agenda to show off the work we’ve done on getting a web site ready for bike advocacy in town, but it’s been quiet for a month or so.  I happened to get a weird e-mail error from my server early this week and thought to check on it.  I discovered my Internet provider had changed my home’s IP address and all of my DNS settings were now useless.  Since the web site is based on WordPress, if the domain name isn’t right, the site doesn’t work.  I still haven’t gotten the problem fixed, but I got a work-around done so that at least I could to the presentation.  The web site was well received by the members and we’ll hope to have it up live soon.  I have a few changes to work on and then get the ‘go ahead’ from our fearless leader.

Speaking of our bike lane task force’s fearless leader.  Our city is blessed by a lady that really knows her stuff on getting things like this done.  She has been leading the charge for bicycle advocacy in our town for a few years now and we are seeing some of the rewards of her work.  Things never move as fast as we would like, but things are looking up. We are getting more interested folks in what we are doing; though gas prices aren’t hurting our efforts either.

Also, yours truly got an e-mail recently from a site called Pocket Change.  It seems they liked my blog and sent me an Editor’s Pick award for the site.  You can see it posted in the column on the right.  It’s always good to get noticed for your work.  Though, at this stage in my writing, I do it just for the fun and to get to know others out there.  In addition, WordPress sent word a while ago that I’ve kept the blog up and running for three years.  That’s probably not long unless you count it in World Wide Web years.

I’ve just finished up my first semester back in college with my Algebra final exam this morning.  I think I passed, maybe.  With all the other stuff going on, I think I’ll let that be enough for now.  It was much harder that I expected, especially getting used to all the new technology of classwork on the Internet.  I learned a lot though and much of it may be useful on the new job.  We’ll see.

Running has been doing alright.  Back working in a hospital means lots of walking every day.  Not wearing decent shoes hasn’t helped how my legs and feet feel in the morning when I get up to run.  I’ve kept close to my weekly quotas that I set, but I am a bit behind.  I had hoped to be further along towards my 20 mile weeks by now, but I will have to be happy where I am at, not where I wish I were.  I am hoping for milder weather for a bit.  Twenty-something to thirty-something degree mornings get old in a hurry.

However, the quality of my runs is doing quite well.  I’m running a little slower than in October/November, but it is still going well.  It’s just been harder in the first mile or so to get going.  I should be able to adjust as I get used to the walking.  It’s side benefits are good though.  I was able to record a five pound loss for last week.  So, I am back down to my pre-Holiday weight (yippee!).

I am also starting to move my swim lengths back up.  I’ve kept them down to 600 yards each time so as not to interfere with my marathon training.  Now, with that over, I can start to edge back up to 1000 yards soon and hopefully get to a mile by about Summer (I hope).

Lots of new changes and adjustments.  Which is often disconcerting to a guy like myself.  I am a creature of habit and ritual.  I like for those things that I do to be somewhat in a rut at times.  When I can depend upon something being the same, I believe I am able to adapt to the changes that come my way.  Notice I said believe.  That may or may not be true.  Lately, there have been many changes that seem to happen all at once (though probably not really).  But, as Mark Lowry said once “this too shall pass,” which is from the Bible, but it was funnier the way Mark put it.  Regardless of whether it suits me or not, I have to adapt to the change.  Just like I do when the city road crews mess up one of my favorite running routes–detour through the neighbor’s yard and keep on going.  Happy Running!

Read Full Post »


Well, it is my last “free” weekend before going back to the world of work.  But, please don’t think that while I have been out of work that it has been “free” time at all.  Looking for a job in this day and age is challenging, frustrating, and just plain difficult.  It is only free in the sense that as of tomorrow morning, I’ll be back among the employed.  Hallelujah!

I can certainly tell from my time without a job that I am not cut out for being without a job or retired just yet.  I do need things to do.  Though, if I didn’t have to look for work, I do think I could think of enough to keep me busy.

Running of late has also been problematic.  I put it down to age, but the cold weather has been unbearable.  We in North Texas are experiencing a colder weather than we have had in the past couple of years.  It’s probably not too abnormal, but we are not used to it.  Last Tuesday, we woke up to a blanket of unexpected and unforecasted snow-like stuff.  It wasn’t snow in the pretty flaky sense.  These were little round snow pebbles.  We spent most of the week not getting hardly above freezing all day and the mornings have been mostly 20’s.  Brrrrrrrrr!!!!

I just wasn’t able to force myself out the door after these same temps have been with us off and on for a few weeks now.  I stayed on the trainer most of the week and even was desperate enough to get on a dreadmill at the fitness center for a couple of miles.  Friday turned out gorgeous and in the 60’s so I even broke my usual Friday rest rule and went out to run a couple of miles in the evening.  It was good to do, but they were a couple of tough miles.

Saturday morning was finally normal at 41 degrees and I felt reasonably good enough.  I debated how many miles I should run…three…four?  It is usually my routine to ride on Saturday morning but I needed to not be out too long so I elected a run for this time and didn’t want it to be a short one.  At Running Bear park (about two miles out) I went for broke and headed off for six miles.

The weather was good and I was dressed right for it.  I just wore a long sleeve tech-T and running pants.  I was comfortable and had set a comfortable pace.  I hadn’t run any hills since December and now would run three this morning.  Things worked well and through miles four and five, I felt really good running.

The city recently finished the addition of a small trail near a park I pass at about the end of five miles.  I thought I’d try it out.  It was really well done and brightly lit.  I took me around to an alternate street I could run down without being off course too much.  Since I was without a garmin I had to guess, but I think it was just enough to make my usual 6.14 miles into an even 6.2.  I finished up in 1:17 exactly and was ready for the day.

Winter running can be really hit and miss.  All I usually have to deal with is the cold, but even that can be daunting.  Everyone reacts to temperature stress differently.  If you’ve been running a while, it’s really frustrating to be off your schedule, but you just have to be patient and wait for the right time.  Treadmills have helped a lot of folks keep up in the Winter.  I use my bike trainer a lot, too.  You have to get creative.

Hopefully, with a return to work I’ll get back into my regular routine.  That should help me a bit and then I can get my miles back up to where I want them.  I’m working on getting back to and holding 20 mile weeks.  I’d like to get my long runs to about 10 miles.  I would like to be ready at almost any time to run a half marathon, though this year I might need a registration fairy for that to work.  Regardless, running is still well worth doing.

I guess I have wasted enough time away from finishing my algebra homework.  My semester is almost done and I’m ready to get it over with.  So, while I work on geometric progressions: Happy running!

Read Full Post »


After several months of training, I ran my second marathon this past Sunday in the 2012 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon.  This marathon has been run since 1971 in Dallas.  I have now been a participant three times, one half and two fulls.  I finally decided this year to run it again, partially to get redemption over last year’s really crappy weather.  In addition, I wanted to end my year on a strong note and a hopefully improved time.

The race this year was new and old in many respects.  When I ran this marathon last year, it was still called the White Rock marathon, so named because it used to be run just around White Rock Lake in Dallas.  This year’s course moved to downtown Dallas, but still retained  a leg around the east portion of White Rock Lake.  There were also other new additions to the route as well.  So, I ran my first marathon at the last White Rock marathon and my second at the first Dallas marathon.

All the runners gathered downtown Dallas on Main Street before sunup.  Yep, that’s runners.  Ready to run well before dawn.  The streets were decorated for Christmas and it added to the atmosphere.  The weather this year was going to be really different.  I was glad there was no rain forecast, but instead of cool weather that we usually have, it was in the low 60’s and humid–really humid.  Before the day was over, the temperatures would climb up into the lower 70’s.  Not really great running weather for this distance and my build.

The start was arranged in three corrals this year and it helped get us out fairly quick.  Some years folks in the back (like me) had to wait 40 minutes to get out on the trail.  Our first section out took us into West Dallas.  This was the first year that West Dallas had a part in the race.  I think they were thrilled and we enjoyed running through their part of town.  The motorcycle club revving their Harleys was a great part.  Upon leaving West Dallas, we ran over Dallas’ newest bridge.

The Margaret Hunt Hill bridge is a new one placed over the Trinity river and connecting West Dallas with Woodall Rogers and downtown.  It’s a suspension bridge designed by a Spanish engineer by the name of Santiago Calatrava.  I’m pretty sure the idea was to make it like the NYC marathon run over the Verrazano Narrows bridge.  It was a cool part of the race.

Once over the bridge, we took a swing through the Design district in an old industrial part of town, then up Oak Lawn for a ways to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for children.  They are the primary receivers of the funds from the race.  Scottish Rite serves children with many different orthopaedic medical needs, all at no cost to the families.  The race had never been run by the hospital itself, until this year.  We turned at Maple Street and headed through part of the Uptown district and down to Turtle Creek, a mainstay of the marathon course.

On Turtle Creek, I saw the best sign of the race.  Luke’s Locker mans an aid station about six or seven miles out.  This year, they had some signs placed before the aid station and one read something like, “There ain’t no app for this.”  I think I’m going to have to remember that one.  It ranks right up there with “Run Forrest Run.”

During the early part of the race, I tried to keep my running comfortable, but I made the decision that I would stop for a walk only when I really felt I needed to slow down.  I kept looking around for the 5:00 hour and 5:30 pace groups, but never saw them.  I did see the 2:40 hour half-marathon group close and thought I’d stay close to them.  That would be a 5:20 marathon pace.  Little did I know I was soon to become the poster child for what not to do in running a marathon.

My first real break came at 9 miles when we were about to cross Interstate 75 and head towards White Rock.  I probably could have kept going, but it was time to find a short line at a port-a-potty and this was it.  Someone in front of me forgot to latch the door on theirs and I saw the green indicator.  I quickly found out that the lady forgot to latch it.  No harm.  Nothing seen.  Move along.  After eating a bit and drinking some Gatorade, it was off again.

There were a lot more hills in the race than I remember and more than I run on my training runs.  But, I was doing them pretty well so far.  However, when we were on Mockingbird, I finally realized I was running too fast.  When I slowed for a walk, the 5:30 pace group passed me at about the 12th mile.  Uh-Oh.  I had been running ahead of them all this time.  Time to slow down.

I tried to stay with the pace group around White Rock, but about half way, I could no longer keep up.  I was starting to lose energy.  And, the wind was getting annoying off of the lake.  I forgot to mention that shortly after the 9 mile mark, I got tired of my sweaty tech-T rubbing certain parts of my anatomy that it shouldn’t (and doesn’t usually).  It was either run in pain or lose the shirt.  I ditched the shirt under my hydration belt and ran without it.  Much better, even though I was breaking my daughter’s rule about old men and no shirts.  Precisely why the wind off the lake was now getting annoying.

Just after 19 miles, we ran by a group that was actually handing out beer.  I later found out they not only had beer, but also jello shots for the runners!  I passed up the alcohol and kept going.  Never take in something you aren’t used to on your runs, which is why I also passed up the guys handing out FRS energy drinks.  The biggest hill in the race was right here just before 20 miles.  I was glad to get it over with and get on passed 20. I’ve said before, the first 20 is just a training run, the last 10K is the race.  Now, it was the race.

By this time, I knew I was in trouble.  My feet began to really hurt and it was hard to keep it up.  The marathon is the only place I know where we count up to 20 and down to 26.2.  I was actively counting down at this point.  We were on Swiss Avenue and headed to downtown when I really noticed the wind picking up and it getting a little cooler.  We were due a cold front in the afternoon that would take us down to freezing overnight.  Looks like it was getting here a little early.  By the time I was near 24 miles and downtown, it was time to put the shirt back on.

My last few miles was just gutting it out.  Everything below the waist was starting to hurt.  I crossed the line with a gun time of 6:15:00.  If it had taken longer than 15 minutes to get out, I had broken 6 hours.  We had a new tech feature this year.  A QR code on our bibs allowed volunteers to read us our time almost immediately.  6:01:52 was the actual.  I was still happy.  I had taken more than 25 minutes off last year’s time and considering my mistakes I did alright.  I learned later my 10K time was 1:15 and my half time was 2:45:45.  I ran a great 10K and massively PR’ed my half marathon time.  Yet, it took me 1:36 to finish the last 10K.

I guess I did something right because it sure hurt worse than last year.  It’s Tuesday and my quads are still barking.  Now for three weeks off of running and then to rebuild for next year’s adventures.  I think I’ll work on half marathons for a while.  I seem to run them well now.  My weight is less.  My speed is up some.  The marathon is still a brutal race, but it’s great to have both on mylist and more to come.  Lesson learned and a great race also.

Yes, on Monday morning there was snow on the ground.  Just a little and it left after sun up. Happy running!

Read Full Post »


2012 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Finisher's medal

2012 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Finisher’s medal

Yep, here it is folks.  Another runner that I follow on Twitter posted this pic of the finisher’s medal for this year’s MetroPCS Dallas Marathon.  I finished my last long run yesterday for my training plan and only have a few short easy runs and some rest days before race day on December 9th.

In addition to getting ready for this race and thinking back over all the training I’ve done, I thought some this week about my cross-training.  After having several injuries mostly relating to over-used or inflamed muscles and tendons, I learned about cross-training.  Of course, as a cyclist, I was cross-training already, but since then, I’ve added in swimming as well.

My cross-training with running really helps with my muscles.  I can always tell after riding, spinning, or swimming how much looser my muscles feel.  This has to be good for my running and I think it has helped.  Along with remembering to stretch after long or hard runs, I haven’t (knock on wood) had any issues this year after my swimming injury healed.

I’m getting just a little bit excited to run come Sunday.  Now the really obsessive part of racing takes hold.  Checking on the weather every five minutes.  Pouring over the race map to visualize the race neighborhoods and where I’ll be at about what time.  Figuring out six days in advance what I’ll wear and need, then changing it several times. Fretting over meals and calorie counts.  If I forget anything to be obsessive about, please send me a comment and remind me.  I don’t want to miss even the smallest obsessive detail you know.

I pulled the marathon card on my algebra teacher this week.  I signed up to take college algebra this semester as I need more discipline hours in order to be able to teach on the college level someday.  Wouldn’t you know I’d pick math, right.  I have this saying, “Dave always has to do it the hard way.”  And, I’ve proven it with math.  I’ve really struggled this semester with this course, which shouldn’t be all that hard.  I took algebra in high school, right; thirty something years ago.  Mostly, I seem to have some kind of numerical dyslexia.  My difficulties are often in getting all the numbers written down without transposing something.  In any case, I spent all day yesterday doing two tests, and I do mean all day.  I’ve been close to giving up and withdrawing.  Instead, I sent my teacher an e-mail and told her I was a marathoner.  We don’t give up.  And, I wont’.  Might go down in flames, but I wont’ give up.

If you already have a follow for me on Twitter, I’ve set up tweets while I’m running next Sunday.  If you haven’t and if you’re really that bored for tweets on Sunday, I’m @abigmanrunning over there.  Strangely enough I do have followers on Twitter as well as here on WordPress.  I thank you for that.  I started writing this for practice, but I realize it’s writing and we do like for folks to actually read what we’ve written.  I found out how important that was this week when I helped out another writer.

Discovered a new app to use this week.  Another friend messaged me about using Strava for cycling and running.  My garmin has been broken for all of this Fall.  I just haven’t wanted to spend the money on a new one nor mess with it while training.  Mostly, I just need an easy way to record my miles, times, and paces.  I’ve been using another app on my android phone, but it’s really a power hog.  Strava so far doesn’t seem to be.  I’ve only gotten to use it once, but it’s really simple.  It works while my phone is in airport mode.  The GPS signal still receives during that mode, but it really lowers power usage.  I’ll keep everyone posted on it.

Well, I told you it was going to be a bit random.  It happens every now and then.  I just heard today there are chances of rain showers for next Sunday.  I don’t need to hear that after last year’s race.  I sure hope that goes away.  I’ll be updating on the post race recap next week, after I rest up a bit.  Remember, the first 20 miles is a training run.  The last 6.2 miles is the race.  I think I said that somewhere before.  Merry Christmas, and Happy Running!

Read Full Post »


With only two weeks until the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon, I had my second to last long run this morning.  I think that my timing was perfect.  I elected to begin a half hour later knowing I would have to deal with traffic on a Saturday morning, but the extra sleep would be nice.  However, to my surprise, it seems that Black Friday shopping turned into my blessing.  The roads were pretty sparce.

My goal today was just 12 miles.  It seems odd to be using the word ‘just’ along with ’12 miles’, but it’s true.  Four years ago, I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) have said something that sounds so weird.  In any case, rather than running my regular 12-miles-at-a-go route, I thought I’d just run my 6 mile loop twice.  That shouldn’t be hard since I’ve been doing loops all Fall for my long runs.

I took off just after 6 AM.  The streets were still dark for about a half hour.  I expected the traffic to be low at that time.  What I didn’t expect was that after running for more than an hour, the streets were still empty.  Even down near the finish of the run at close to 9AM, traffic was still very light.  So, I suppose that since so many folks must have worn themselves out shopping on Black Friday, today should have been a boon to most runners.  I wonder if any other runners also had a great run with little traffic today?

Also, I thought I’d throw in an update on the BikeIrving.org website.  It is getting closer to reality.  I have worked with owner’s domain and been able to point it to my server to see how it works.  I’ve also gotten WordPress loaded and set up for the pages that won’t have something to do with mapping.  It is looking a lot more like a web site now.  I’m also down to the last real mapping task and that is to be able to save and recall routes.  I have a plan on how to do so and now just need to implement it and make it work.

I guess there are folks out in the real world that can probably put sites out like this in a heartbeat.  I would probably be further along as well, but my full time job right now is finding a job.  Probably the other slowness is the way that I work.  I’m a hacker.  No, not the kind that tries to break into the CIA, or the DOD.  A hacker is a coder; a programmer.  I just really enjoy writing code and seeing it work.  I like even more seeing my code do things for people.  There are probably lots of faster ways to make web sites, but I still like mine.  Except for what I do with WordPress, I use a text editor for the special stuff.  Yep, that’s right; a plain old text editor–no drag and drop, no point and click.

But enough about such foolish things.  You didn’t stop by here to debate the pros and cons of text editors.  Thanksgiving is a great time of year.  It is time to be thankful for all the things we have.  I am thankful that I have my family.  I am thankful that I am blessed by God with so many things.  I am thankful that I get to get up in the morning and run or ride or whatever.  There are so many in our world with so much less and they are still thankful for what they have.  We are blessed beyond measure for things we probably don’t deserve.  So I am glad that on this Saturday, I get to get out and run and do some work that will help others.  Happy running!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

janice writes fiction

Come into my mind with me!