Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuam libera mentem

On the surface, I should be really tired this week; week 2 of the build phase, 10k race and a lot of minutes of biking Sunday, bike/run (recovery zone, but still quite a few minutes), and oh yeah I'm still a Dad and have a full time job. However, I'm actually doing pretty well. My secret? One day last week I decided it was time to stop trying to appease my manager and by extension his boss and instead just do what I do best confident that the results will be more beneficial than any amount of playing ball. This decision was the topic of by post "Finding my center."

I had a pretty good race Sunday. At a cognitive level I wasn't positive how happy I was being slower than I was last year. But since that time things have been improving mentally and physically, including a very surprising and enjoyable swim today. Sure it wasn't a nasty hard effort, but there was something about it. I was moving well. I didn't slow down for the workout and I didn't feel gassed afterward. I wasn't fighting anything, literally and metaphorically.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chafee 10k report and results

(Data upload, click here. Try the "player" tab in the upper right.)
(Full event results here.)

Well on the surface we can pretty safely say that I'm slower on the run than at this time last year. Today I was 18 sec slower at the Chafee 10k than last year (38:03 this yr vs 37:45 last). Here are the details:

It was rainy, and cool but not too cold. There was LOTS of standing water on the course leading to quite a bit of lateral movement during the run to keep the shoes from getting too sogged out too early. As you might recall, this course also features a true XC section between miles 2.4 and 3.4. This section had okay footing considering the weather, but had lots of roots, mud and puddles. In order to stay upright you had to slow way down on the corners. For my personal purposes I'm treating this section separately from the paved sections. So here's how it breaks down:

Mile 1: 5:57, Avg HR 155. Weird mile for me because the weather kept the really fast guys away. As a result I found myself leading. This is an unusual spot for me and had me wondering about my pacing, despite the fact that it was fine.

Mile 2: 6:08, Avg HR 158. One guy pulled even with me and we ran away from the rest of the group. This was the worst stretch for standing water, and that likely contributed to the slow lap time.

Mile 2.4: 2:23 (5:57/mile avg), Avg HR 159. Slight downhill. I didn't press though because I knew what was coming. The other guy began to inch away from me.

Mile 2.4 - Mile 3.4: 6:43, Avg HR 162, max 164. This was the run through the woods. Big hill to climb on the 1st 1/2. Rolled the whole way. Dropped about 10 more sec to the leader, but overall was not displeased with the effort. It was not an easy section. Kept a little in the tank so I could get going again once we were clear.

Mile 3.4 - Mile 5: 9:41(6:03/mile avg), Avg HR 162. Just trying to get the turnover again after the XC section. Up and down to mile 4 and then it started to flatten out. I took a run at the leader between miles 4 and 5, but he had too much distance.

Mile 5 - Mile 6.2: 7:11 (5:59/mile avg), Avg HR 163, max 166. 1st mile in reverse.

So it was consistent and my HR was closer to where we want to see it for 10Ks. I actually finally started feeling smooth during the final mile. I probably left a little time out on the course, but I was happy with the effort. Because of the weather influenced turn out, I ended up 2nd overall and won men 40-49. Net gain of $40 on the day, so I'll take it! My physical state, due to stress and sleep issues is still a little subpar, but it is improving. My resting pulse has been somewhat elevated for the last week. It's maybe about 6-8 beats high right now. I feel like I'm beginning to head in the right direction again though, so next stop Wrentham.

(Special props to my Leanna, Alexandra, and Dylan for being probably the ONLY spectators at the course today. It made me smile...A LOT! But how the hell did I get an Olivia Newton John song stuck in my head?)

Chafee 10k today: Pre-race

Okay I'm up and beginning my pre-race ritual. Dylan's awake too, but I'm leaving him in his room for a bit while I have my quiet time. I need to focus. I'm big on visualization and planning. Tim's instructions and indeed my personal directive, is to run a steady disciplined race today. Pacing is my biggest asset in the long events, and I was horrid at it last week. My whole race is about not slowing down as much as the other guys. So today I'm to take it out fairly conservatively; 5:52 per mile. That's 15s per mile slower than last week's repeats. From there I settle into 5:57ish pacing. There is an uphill mile in the woods on this course so I expect to lose about 10-15s per mile on that segment, but it is followed by a nice downhill segment where I can look to get some of that back. Once I hit mile 5, which is just before the turn onto the East Bay bike path, the restricter plate is removed and I try some of that track speed for the last mile. It's a hard mile because it is dead straight and so seems to take forever. It also has just a hint of rollers at the end; reminiscent of long rollers coming up the bay from the Atlantic. Fitting because the course is right along the water.

My other goal is to see my heart rate hit the proper zones. I'd like to be 162ish for the most part, with it spiking on the wooded hill, and driving up 168 or higher for the last 1/2 to 1/4 mile. That would be reassuring.

Well time to get Dylan and get fed. I'll update after the race.

PS: It's a gentle steady rain right now.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Finding my center

Something about the start of spring. Maybe my birthday has something to do with it. I'm now 43. I had a rough week, training and at work, until sometime last night. Now believe me, I know it was in no small part self-inflicted, but not all was. Work has been challenging and at times very demoralizing. And when you are in the tailspin it can be hard to pull out. But I feel as if I'm pulling out after all. It's a matter of refocusing on my real strength. I'm a system builder. I can see innovation. But I need to get my hands dirty. So rather than even pretend to do "that management sh-t" my misguided manager wants me to do, today I returned to my sweet spot and got my hands dirty. And the great thing about bringing the positive energy, I seemed to infect those around me. I'm not sure I've ever encountered much more interest in innovation at Brown as I did today. Nothing earth shattering taken in a vacuum, but the type of mojo that if allowed to grow could be revolutionary, at least for higher ed, well at least for Brown.

So now I'm back on an upward path, and to celebrate I'm in the cellar staring at the wall for the next two hours! No guarantees for Sunday, but I am cautiously optimistic.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Feeling a little blue

So far today I'm not a happy camper. Today's my 43rd birthday, and no being 43 is not the issue. I was just hoping my cares and worries would decide to take the day off. Alas that hasn't happened. I tested my run form yesterday with 5x1 mile repeats w/3min rest between. The target was to run them all in the 5:37 - 5:40 range. The result was not so consistent: 5:40 - 5:58 as follows:
Mile# Time Avg HR Max HR
1 5:40 155 162
2 5:40 156 165
3 5:54 157 164
4 5:45 153 163
5 5:58 153 164

Laps 1,3,and 5 had a bit of headwind (5-10mph for .25 mile). That would be a tailwind on the same .25 during laps 2 and 4.

This is one of those 1/2 full 1/2 empty things. Much better than I could have managed 8 wks ago, but not what I hoped. I had been really good for 2 wks leading up to this, but the last 3 days it hasn't been there for me. It's distressing for me because the last 3 times I've tested myself, I've underperformed. My life is all about momentum and because the run wasn't there yesterday, the positive mo' isn't here today. And I'm 43, which means I'm back to wondering if this is the year the slide begins.

I'm running a 10k this Sunday. It's one I did last year which means I potentially have my first true year over year test. I top last year, 37:45, and suddenly all is right in my world. I need this. My work life took an unexpected downturn. It's not a matter of me hating the job that needs to be done. It's actually worse than that. I love the challenge of the job that needs to be done. I'm just not being allowed to do it. Yes I really need a win in some aspect of my life. I like to think of myself as the irresistible force who by virtue of his endurance and strength of will, will eventually succeed. But I'm being reminded my reserves are indeed not limitless. So I'm running the 10k because I must. I need the chance of the positive affirmation it can be. I need to see progress.

Until then I'm going to be a bit sullen and moody.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More training

So I might have to rethink that "my running is behind last year" statement. Depends on how you measure it. Yesterday I surprised myself during a roughly 7 mile run by averaging 6:57 per mile at an average HR of only 132 BPM. I know that is far better than this time last year. I recall being stuck ~7:10-7:15 per mile at 132BPM. (view run here)

This week concludes the base phase of training. I'm looking forward to the reduced load this week as well, because frankly I'm kinda beat. Today especially is reminding me what my secret weapon for building durability was last year. After an early morning bike ride, it's right into being daddy and taking the kids for the day; no naps. And I moved a pile of firewood across our muddy yard. Forcing myself to keep going and do everything I need to do, despite being tired, is precisely the skill that will carry me through Lake Placid again this year.

But boy a nap sounds great!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I actually have been training

So today I had a threshold test on my bike. Basically the idea is to get a sense of that point of exertion where your body begins more lactate than it can clear. Without going into the details of the whole test protocol, you end up with a graph of HR against power. It gives you an idea of performance potential and current fitness. It hurts. It really hurts, but thankfully not for that long because once you can't maintain your pedal cadence, you're done. I did this a year ago so had some data against which to compare my current fitness level. I tested out 15 watts @ threshold better than last March.

The bottom line is I'm ahead of where I was last year, which of course is expected because I have 11 weeks of riding under my belt. But it's been really boring base level riding, not the build phase workouts I did last year. Those start in 10 days or so, and it'll be interesting to see how I progress once the build starts. My guess is that I'm about where I was the week or two before Mooseman last year (early June 2008). Combine that with my swimming which is also at least as good as it was at Mooseman, and so far so good. True my running is a bit behind where it was last year. I'm not training for the Boston Marathon and thus have far fewer miles in. However I'm not that far behind. All things considered I think I'm doing pretty well. We'll be getting in either some test running miles or a 10k in the next week or two, so it should be pretty clear where I stand at that point.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hoping for some good Jujube

After a tough winter of sickness and other stresses, I've decided no matter what it's time to try and get the positive energy flowing again. On Saturday we were packed up and ready to roll down to CT. Well, as I went out to the car Leanna informed me there was a cyclist in distress in our driveway. Now the kids were already in their seats and the engine was running, but here was this person (her name was Lynn) with a broken chain. She pulled into our driveway looking for help when she saw my bike on top of the car. So yes I turned around and got some tools. The broken link was pretty mangled so I decided to remove the whole link and just shorten the chain. You'd think the fact that the chain just broke would be an indication that the removal would be easy. Well long story short, two chain tools, some really greasy hands and 20 minutes later the chain was fixed (I was aggravated because this should have been a 5 minute fix...I'm out of practice). Props to my family for not freaking out because it took so long.

(Lynn dropped off a new chain tool today as a thank you!)

24: Jack is back doing the same old sh-t

Question: Who is the most predictable "bad white guy" in t.v./film today? If you answered Jon Voight, you're right! The last couple hours have been so predictable and/or silly (Secret tunnels under the White House? I think I've seen this movie.) Actually two episodes ago the season could have ended. The female FBI agent had found the bad guys and saw them (a dozen large, heavily armed African soldiers) getting onto a fishing boat. She was safely on shore and had a working cell phone. Instead of calling in the air strike, she jumps onto the boat and ruins her phone and drops her gun. Duh.