Monday, November 30, 2009

November Running Milestones

Most miles in a month: 137.8
Most miles in a week: 41.1, week ending November 22.

Training Update - November 23-29

It was a good week of running, a good race and a second consectutive 40+ mile week.  It was a bit of a push to get the total above 40, after taking two days off to rest for Thursday's race.  I didn't get a really long-distance run in; the longest was 12 miles.  I picked up the mileage a little differently; instead of alternating shorter and longer distances, I increased by two miles each day.  The last four were 6.2 (at race pace), 8.0, 10.0, and 12.0 on consecutive days.  The result was a little more "burn" each day than I'm used to, from adding miles each day while still a little fatigued from the day before.  

The week's stats:
Sunday, November 29 - 12.0 miles, 2:15:57, 11.33 pace, 60°, increasing humidity.
Saturday, November 28 - 10.0 miles, 1:47:59, 10.80 pace, 49°.
Friday, November 27 - 8.0 miles, 1:27:33, 10.94 pace, 38°.
Thursday, November 26 - Turkey Trot 10K Race - 6.2 miles, 54:29, 8.79 pace, 40°.
Tuesday and Wednesday - Rest for Thursday's race.
Monday, November 23 - 4.0 miles, 46:30, 11.63 pace, 51°.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Race Review - 19th Annual Turkey Trot 10K in Tyrell Park - Beaumont, TX - Thanksgiving Morning

This was an enjoyable event.  The race was well-organized and well-managed.  Race day lines were reduced because many runners used the option to pick up packets at designated locations in the two days prior to the race.  I like that they gave a tech shirt instead of a cotton T-shirt.  Race morning chip pick-up was quick and efficient. 

The 5K and 10K runners ran mostly the same route, but from different starting points, which reduced congestion.  The only improvement I could ask for would be additional mile markers.  I think I saw markers at mile 1, mile 3, and mile 6.  To get a better feel for pace, I'd like to see them at each mile. 

I halfway expected some turkey suits, but didn't see many outlandish costumes at this event.  However, this runner wore yellow boxer shorts with red chili peppers!

(Click photos to enlarge.)

This runner must have started a good running program and lost a lot of weight in the past year. 

Written on his shirt: "These are the pants I wore LAST Thanksgiving."  He was quite trim, but was wearing very large pants.

Conditions were very good, sunny and about 40°.  I probably started out a little fast, but settled down after a couple of miles.  I tried to set pace behind a couple of runners that passed me, but couldn't quite keep up.

At about 4 1/2 miles, a runner passed me that was going just slightly faster, and I was able to match his pace the rest of the way.  We traded positions 3 or 4 times coming up toward mile 6.

Thanks, anonymous runner, for helping me set a good pace!
Before turning this corner into the last quarter-mile, I had enough energy left to leave my pacer behind and sprint hard the rest of the way to the finish. 

My goals were:
To try to run <56 minutes, or 9 minute pace, to enjoy the race, and have a great time.

Why 56 minutes? I plugged my 5K PR time into the McMillan Running Calculator, and it gave me an equivalent 10K time of just under 56 minutes; I felt that was a reasonable guideline for what I should be capable of.

My actual time was 54:28.6; 8:47 pace.  And, I did enjoy the race, and had a great time!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Green Living Feature of the Week - Home Organic Gardening

A key concept for sustainable living is the effort to eat locally as much as possible.  The ecological benefit of eating foods grown locally or regionally, rather than transported thousands of miles, is obvious: less waste of precious fuel resources, and reduced pollution from burning of the fuel. Additionally, large-scale industrial farming is also heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  Negative effects of chemical fertilizers include the consumption of energy and other resouces and resulting pollution from the manufacture and transport of fertilizers, and chemical runoff into water tables.  Pesticide use has negative effects on species other than the targeted pests, and there are many natural, organic pest control methods.  While there is no guarantee that all locally-grown food is organically produced, in general, small local farmers tend to be better conservators of the land.

Other benefits:  locally-grown food is fresher, and purchase of locally-grown food keeps community  resources close to home, benefitting local farmers instead of large agri-business.

Organic home gardening is the ultimate in sustainable, local growing.  One's own yard is the closest possible source of  fresh foods. No transportation is required.  The home gardener can assure that pesticides are not used, and home-produced compost can replace chemical fertilizers.

Urban Homesteading is a growing trend (no pun intended).  Many home gardeners are devoting their entire yards to producing their own food.  There are a multitude of resources out there on the web.  Check out Path to Freedom.  It is one of my favorites.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Two Challenges: Environmental and Fitness

I recently came across two interesting challenges: one Eco-challenge, to conserve fuel or energy this Winter, and one Fitness challenge, to complete 100 pushups.

Reading The Crunchy Chicken Eco-blog, the 2009 annual Freeze Yer Buns Lower the Thermostat challenge has been underway since October 19, with 65 pledges so far to lower thermostat settings this Winter.  I'll accept this challenge; in recent years, we've only heated on a few of the coldest days.  Most days we get by with no heat, dressing more warmly and letting the indoor temperature fall into the 50's.  In our mild Winters, only a handful of days get colder than this.

Here is the fitness challenge, the One Hundred Pushups challenge.  It's a six-week conditioning program, three sessions per week, about 10 minutes each.  I'll give it a shot.   For fitness, running is my primary focus.  However, a runner shouldn't neglect the upper body, since arm swing is so important to running mechanics.  Arm swing counterbalances leg motion, reducing workload on the legs, and plays a major role in running efficiency.  An experienced marathon runner once told me, "When your legs get really tired, pay more attention to just keeping your arms moving.  Your legs will follow."  Push-ups and running complement each other on another level; they both fit well with a sustainable lifestyle.  They are free, can be done anywhere, and don't require special equipment or consumption of resources.

Training Update - November 16-22

I tried a new venue for Sunday's run, Lefler Park, another of the Beaumont city parks.  (click to expand photos)

It looked like the perfect setup for a great run, a perfect, chilly morning, a beautiful wooded park with nice scenery, the rising sun just visible through the trees, but the trails were a big disappoinment.  The trails were asphalt surface, which would have been OK, except that they were badly in need of maintenance.  The asphalt layer had cracked and crumbled to the point that there were chunks laying all over, creating poor footing. 

I would have much rather found trails of dirt or crushed stone.  After running 3 or 4 minutes, the trail condition was getting worse instead of better.  Visualizing a sprained ankle from stepping on one of the chunks, I gave up and turned back.  I returned to the track I ran last week, the Gulf Terrace Hike and Bike Trail, and completed my run.

Other than the disappointment with the Lefler Park trail, it was another good training week, with a good Sunday 13.1-miler following Saturday's 6-miler.  I have not yet repeated my longest single run of 18.2 miles from a month ago; however 41.1 total miles for the week is a second consecutive milestone for  total weekly miles, following last week's 36 miles.  I've been looking at one of the Hal Higdon marathon training schedules, which puts a  medium-long run and long-distance run on consecutive days.  This is a tougher approach than I'm used to.  I tried consecutive longer runs several months ago, and really struggled.  Lately, I've been taking a day off before the weekly long run, resulting in a lot stronger long runs.  However, the well-rested longer runs aren't preparing me as well for the difficult marathon miles between 20 and 26.  The back-to-backs culminate in a 10 miler followed by a 20 miler, and should better help build the necessary endurance.  Sunday, I definitely felt the rigor of this approach, struggling a little to finish 13. 

The week's stats:
Sunday, November 22 - 13.1 miles, 2:25:15, 11.09 pace, 48° and very pleasant.
Saturday, November 21 - 6.0 miles, 58:59, 9.83 (3 miles easy pace, 2 miles tempo, and the last mile at race finish pace). 50°, drizzling rain.  You know you're hopelessly hooked on running when a 6-miler in cold drizzling rain is the highlight of your Saturday!
Friday, November 20 - 4.0 miles, 40:15, 10.06 (3 miles @easy pace; 1 mile @tempo pace). 59°, with light sprinkling rain from the approach of the next cool front.
Thursday, November 19 - 6.0 miles, 1:04:33, easy pace @10.76. 42°!
Wednesday, November 18 - 4.0 miles, 39:59, 10.00 pace. 43°!
Tuesday, November 17 - 4.0 miles, 38:31, tempo pace @9.63. Cool front! 40°!
Monday, November 16 - 4.0 miles, 44:26, easy pace @11.11.  63°.

For the coming week, I plan to run Monday, and rest Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for Thursday's Turkey Trot 10K race.  My 10K goals are to try for <56 minutes, or 9 minute pace, to enjoy the race, and have a great time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Green Living Feature of the Week - Composting

Composting household scrap/waste organic matter is a great Earth-friendly, sustainable living activity.  It is beneficial because:
  • Composting prevents organic materials from going to landfills, where they contribute to landfill volume and generate methane gas.  Reduction of volume going to landfills also reduces the amount of vehicle fuel burned transporting waste to landfills and the pollutant generation associated with burning the fuel.
  • Compost replaces chemical fertilizers.  Gardeners can grow great organic vegetables using compost to add nutrients to the soil.  Eliminating chemical fertilizers also reduces the pollution generated in the fertilizer production process, and conserves the raw materials used for fertilizer production.  It also reduces fertilizer run-off into our watersheds.
  • Compost builds better soil for gardening.  In addition to adding nutrients, it loosens the soil and helps moisture retention.
  • If you don't garden, compost makes a great mulch to use around trees and bushes.
I keep a covered compost pail under the kitchen sink to hold compostables between trips outside to the compost bins.  Compostable ingredients are generally classified as "green" (nitrogen-rich) and "brown" (carbon-rich).  It's good to use a mixture of the two. Examples of "green" materials are vegetable/fruit scraps and peelings from the kitchen.  Examples of "brown" materials are leaves and grass clippings.  Here are some of the types of things I compost:
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings and scraps.
  • Coffee grounds.
  • Tea bags.
  • Egg shells.
  • Leaves.
  • Grass trimmings.
  • Garden plant & house plant debris.
  • Yard trimmings.
  • Sawdust.
  • Paper (in small quantities).

2010 Running Goals

I did not begin 2009 with any clear running goals; I kind of adopted a couple as the year unfolded: to run 1,000 miles, and to train for a marathon.  In general, goals are good, as long as they are reasonable and achievable. 

Nearing the end of 2009, it's not too early to set some goals for 2010.  After giving it some thought during the last couple of weeks, I like these:
  • Run 1,800 miles.
  • Complete a Marathon Race.
  • Remain Injury-Free.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back on Track - Good Long Run and Recovery Run

After missing my long-distance run for two weekends in a row, I was really anxious to get back on track with a good long run, followed by a recovery run. On Saturday morning, I tried the Gulf Terrace Hike and Bike Trail, part of the Beaumont, Texas city park system.
(click on photos to enlarge)

This isn't a wooded dirt trail like I'm used to, but it's well thought out and well done. The complete trail is a measured 3.5 miles, part of which is a 2.0 mile loop.  This lets one add 2-mile multiples to the base mileage to build different totals.   

It is a concrete trail through field areas, wide enough for both foot and bicycle traffic, and has some nice features for runners. 

There are signs marking each mile, and markers on the trail at each quarter mile, making it easy to track pace. 

There is even a mileage sign at 3.1 miles, which is nice if one is training for 5K/10K. 

My last long run was 18.2 miles. After missing my long run for two weekends in a row, I decided to resume a little lower, at 13-15 miles.

I felt good after a few miles, and decided to try doing the 3.5 miles twice, with two additional 2-mile loops added to each, for a total of 15 miles.

Although not the wooded park I'm used to, it has it's own natural beauty (despite some oil drilling on adjacent property).  There are a few trees, and a lot of native grasses and wildflowers to be observed.  There is no shade, so it won't be my favorite venue in the Summer; in Texas, shade is your best friend in the Summer.  However, for Fall, Winter and Spring, it should be a good option.  It's only 2.25 miles from my house, so it's convenient.

I got on the trail at about 7:30 AM Saturday.  At 60 degrees, it was a little warmer than I like.  It was getting close to 80 by the time I finished.  However, compared to some of my long Summer runs (80+ degrees and 98 % humidity at sunrise), not too bad.   After two weeks of reduced mileage, I didn't care about pace, just logging good distance and running hours.  I finished the 15 miles fairly comfortably, 2:40:38, 10.71 pace.

Sunday, I followed with a recovery run.  It always feels good to lightly warm up again while still a little achy from the long-distance run.  I returned to the same location and just ran the 3.5 miler, at 38:44, 11.07 pace.  It was 65 degrees at 7 AM, a little warmer yet than Saturday.  I'm looking forward to the cool front on the way for Monday or Tuesday!

My last good week had been 32 miles total.  My most recent two weeks had fallen to 23 and 18.5 miles.  So, this got me back on track; a good  base mileage week of 36 miles, and a good long run.

I was pleased to see that there was less litter along the trail than I normally saw in the Baytown parks, although on the way out I found a few plastic bottles on the adjoining soccer field, and  a couple of cans by the road leading in.  Total Eco-run pickup for the two days: 2 aluminum cans, 14 plastic bottles, 1 32-ounce plastic cup, 1 empty mint box, and 1 empty GU package.

Friday, November 13, 2009

No Impact Week - Beginning November 15

Today, I signed up for the No Impact Week program, beginning November 15.

Last month, I posted information on the organized No Impact Week that ran from October 18 through October 25.  Looking at the No Impact website after yesterday's eco-post, I found that a November No Impact Week event has been organized, and will begin November 15, 2009.  Interested participants may register for the program through the website, or just choose some favorite Earth-friendly activites on their own to privately observe the week. 

The No Impact How-To-Manual is a very good collection of ideas, to use either for the week, or from which to adopt appropriate activities permanently.  Here are the daily areas of focus in the program:    
  •      Sunday:  Consumption
  •      Monday:  Trash
  •      Tuesday:  Transportation
  •      Wednesday:  Food
  •      Thursday:  Energy
  •      Friday:  Water
  •      Saturday:  Giving Back
  •      Sunday:  Eco-Sabbath
In October, I looked through the program for additional ideas, and tried to go a little beyond my typical eco-activities.  This week, I plan to follow the daily program as closely as I can.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Sidebar Feature - Green Living

I added a new sidebar feature, "I Live Green By:" to kind of keep track of the things I'm doing to try to achieve an Earth-friendly, sustainable lifestyle.  I'm inspired by things like Colin Beavan's No Impact Project, where he experimented with "zero-waste" living.  I'm not sure I could ever reach the same level, but I want to do what I can.

So, I started a list.  I'm not sure I listed everything that I currently do, but if I think of some I forgot, I'll add them.  If I begin additional activities, I'll add them also.  A few of the listed items are linked to blogs I've already posted about the listed activity.  Maybe I'll use the rest of the list to post about one item per week until the list is completely populated with links.  Or, I could link them to good external references. 

This is a new experiment; we'll see where it goes.

Training Update - November 7-12

I'm finally back into a regular routine after missing a few days of running while completing my move from Baytown to Beaumont.  The best part is being so close to work.  I can get up a half-hour later, and still run an extra mile in the morning.  In addition to my weekend long-distance run, I'd like be able to do a medium-distance, maybe 6 to 10 miler once a week in the middle of my weekday morning routine.  Before moving, I just didn't have time, so I settled for a quick 5K on weekdays.  Now, I can occasionally get up as early as I did in Baytown, and do the medium-distance run.  That would let me vary my routine more, which is good, and also pad my base mileage.  To be completely ready for the marathon, I feel like I need to get my weekly total up into at least the mid 40's, in addition to building the long run into the 20's.

So, I've had a pretty good running week.  The weather has continued to be great, with morning run temps mostly in the 50 to 60 degree range.  I missed two weekend long-distance runs in a row, and tried to compensate by getting a little more mileage during the week.  I also compensated by running 9 days in a row, although I know my body really needs to rest one day per week.  And I got greedy and tried to push Tempo pace 4 days in a row instead of alternating with easier pace.  On the 4th day, Tuesday, I finished by running full sprint for the final 3/4 mile of a 4-mile run.  The result was development of a little knee pain.  So, since the advice I always give other runners is: "Listen to your body," what did I do?  Take the next day off?  WRONG.  I followed with a 5.5 mile run on Wednesday and another 4-miler this morning.  Am I just too stubborn for my own good?  Maybe.  At least, I had enough sense to run the last two nice and easy, and the knee feels a lot better now.  The pain must be more from pushing pace than from the miles.

Anyway, I'm determined to take Friday OFF, and run long on Saturday with fresh legs.  My last long run, 3 weeks ago, was 18.2 miles, but after the layoff, I'm thinking maybe 13-15 range for Saturday, slow and easy.

The boring stats:
Thursday, November 12 - 4.0 miles, 40:29, 10.12 pace.  49° this morning (sweet!)
Wednesday, November 11 - 5.5 miles, slow and easy, 59:44, 10.86 pace. 61°
Tuesday, November 10 - 4.0 miles, 38:36, 9.65 pace. 61°
Monday, November 9 - 4.0 miles, 38:26, 9.61 pace. 65°
Sunday, November 8 - 4.0 miles, 38:58, 9.74 pace. 63°
Saturday, November 7 - 3.5 miles, 31:43, 9.06 pace. 54°

Friday, November 6, 2009

1,000 Miles

At 6:45 this morning, I passed the 1,000 mile mark for 2009 running. 

Logically, 1,000 is just another number.  However, psychologically, it feels like a major event.  I wonder why our minds make distinctions like this.  A numerical boundary is just an arbitrary mental construct; the values immediately on each side of the line are virtually the same.  Somehow, we see 1,000 as significant compared to 999, but 1,001 as insignificant compared to 1,000.

I won't further wonder why; I guess it's just human nature.  Yesterday, I noticed that my total was 996.2 miles.  I ran 3.5 miles on each of the previous two days.  Mentally, I couldn't accept the concept of finishing today's run at 999.7 miles, so I added an extra half-mile to my route.

It was a pleasant run, easy pace, 4.0 miles, 43:06, 10.77 minutes/mile. The weather continues to be perfect, 52° as I started out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

October Running Milestones

Most miles in a month: 137.6
Most miles in a week: 32.3, week ending October 11.
Longest run to date: 18.4 miles, October 24.

Move to Beaumont and Training Update

I've completed the 60-mile move from Baytown to Beaumont; I'm back online after almost a week out of touch, and am recovering from the ordeal of loading, transporting and unloading a household of belongings.  It's great to trade my 1-hour commute twice per day for <10 minutes.  I'm also excited about looking for new routes, parks and trails for running.  Life is beginning to assume a slight semblance of normality again; I even found time to run again the last two mornings:

Thursday, November 5 - 3.5 miles @ Tempo pace, 32:28, 9.27 pace.
Wednesday, November 4 - 3.5 miles @ Tempo pace, 32:36, 9.31 pace.

The weather was extremely pleasant for morning runs, with low temperatures around 50°, and highs in the mid-70s.  50° is my PERFECT temperature for running, cool enough to run hard without too much perspiration, and warm enough to still wear shorts and not feel cold. 

I didn't run at all Saturday through Tuesday, four full days of moving.  Rationally, I know that the exertions of those days were harder workouts than running, but I still really missed my runs.  Running so gets in your blood; the concept of excercise comes from one's rational side, but the desire to run comes from the heart. I especially missed my weekly long-distance run.  However, I added a few extra miles to some of my preceding runs as I could:

Friday, October 30 - Tempo run, 3.1 miles, 27:17, 8.80 pace, 55°. First sub-9 minute pace in a while!
Thursday, October 29 - Easy run, 4.0  miles, 39:52, 9.96 pace, 78° and extremely muggy. Ugh!
Wednesday, October 28 - Tempo run, 7.4 miles, 1:08:48, 9.30 pace, 51° and extremely pleasant!
Tuesday, October 27 - Tempo run, 5.4 miles, 49:28, 9.16 pace, 55°.
Monday, October 26 - Tempo run, 3.1 miles, 29:13, 9.42 pace, 72°.