Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Day 2,923: A banner year

Oh, be something you love and understand.
 -"Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
I'm making my way through the Pentagon parking lot, slowly and painfully back to the hotel. A woman walks by me, sees the marathon medal around my neck and notes my painful gait.

"Was it worth it?" she smiles and asks.

Now that the year is over, I look on it and almost feel sad as I don't think the circumstances will align again to have this kind of year.

My 2014 was marked with:

1). The birth of hopefully a future runner!
2). My first sub-4 hour marathon in the Oct. 26 Marine Corps Marathon
3). Crossing 10,000 miles for my running streak on Aug. 9.
4). Finishing this year with 2,104.33 miles, the most I've ever done in a calendar year
5). Continuing my daily running streak past eight years.

And it all started with a $55 marathon entry fee.

All the training and putting in the miles was fun, but I couldn't have done it without the help of the wife, who even altered some of her work schedule so I could put in morning tempo and speed/strength workouts. Even on the weekends, having to put in 2 hour + long runs really put a cap on activities for the day.

2015 will definitely have less mileage and no long races of any note. I don't even think that mentally I could do a half-marathon right now. The only race I've signed up for is the Dec. 13 Galloway 13.1, but only because I'm a cheapskate and could not pass off a race of that length for only $45.

I guess I shouldn't count anything out, since after 2010 I never thought I'd run a marathon again.

Back to that woman's question, she totally caught me off guard. I was just trying to amble back to the hotel the best I could. I remember still being in shock that I managed to do something that I couldn't do in three previous marathons.

But I looked at her and laughed. "Yeah, it was worth it."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 2,906: The Honolulu Marathon

HONOLULU -- The middle-aged Japanese guy turned his head, incredulous that someone would be outkicking him at the end of the marathon.

That person would be me, who somehow found great velocity in the last mile of the race, even after feeling like I might have to walk at Mile 23. After the huge hill on the road to Diamond Head near Mile 25, the course is all downhill for a screaming finish. I felt like I might blackout but I kept pushing as hard as I could.

I'd always wanted to run in the Honolulu Marathon, a race that my aunt has run about eight times in her life. But I'd never really had the time -- or the training.

But this year I had a shot at it. Sure, I had just run in the Marine Corps Marathon seven weeks before and really could not train until two weeks before this race, but I thought some training at the end of a long running season was better than nothing.

So I cashed in some frequent flyer miles and off I went.

This marathon is so interesting on so many levels. First, it's a true community race -- locals can buy into it for a mere $26 (you see their reviews on Yelp talking about "it's only a dollar a mile") and there is no time limit so people can walk it, take breaks, or whatever.
Then add the element of thousands of Japanese marathoners (they often are the majority of runners in this race at about 51 percent representation) and you have a very interesting dynamic. It's the first race I've been to in which signs are in two languages:

For me I just wanted to run in it -- and tweak a few things in my marathon experience, namely getting calf muscle cramps late in the race.

Because it's so hot (for running) in Honolulu, it starts at 5 a.m. So you have to get up at like 3:30 a.m. and make your way to the starting line. For an East Coaster like myself, it's not that bad, because a 5-hour time difference makes getting up that early actually reasonable.

This year it actually rained. It was more of a mist -- I tossed the trash bag that I was going to use as my windbreaker at the start of the race, but it was more than enough to be in for more than four hours. (My shoes days later still are wet).

Anyway, I made my way to the starting line. I saw right away what people also mentioned in reviews -- the portapotties have men/women signs on them. There were two "women" portapotties to each one for men.

At the start of the race they sang the National Anthem and I think Japan's. Then we were in for a treat -- a fireworks barrage as the race started! It gave me something to do for the five minutes or so it took for me to reach the starting line from my group.

It was interesting running with so many people in the dark. I put my right shoe in three holes in the first few miles of the race and thankfully did not twist my ankle when I was avoiding tripping another runner and my right shoe skidded over the top of a plastic stick-like road barrier. The movement was akin to my running shoe being a skateboard over a handrail.

The course got congested with narrow roads in spots and so my first few miles were slower than I would have wanted. But I told myself I was doing this for fun so I didn't worry.

It finally got light around Mile 10 and from there to about Mile 16 the misty rain and a headwind belted my face and body. I thought it was slowing me down but I was confident I could pick up the pace after the second half.

But I noticed after 13 miles my pace was slowing down, just as it did in 2010 when I ran in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I wasn't really worried about it but I found myself totally hitting the wall around Mile 18. After Mile 20, something interesting happened -- my pace returned to normal and I wondered if this was what it was like to be breaking through the wall.

But no, after Mile 23, my pace slowed again. I was going so slow that I told myself I was just pushing the kids in the double BOB stroller. I even contemplated walking but somehow just accepted the shuffle I was doing. Then finally the huge hill at Mile 24 was over and I joined others for a screaming finish.

I brought a CamelBak on this race just as I did in the Marine Corps Marathon but thought I probably wouldn't do so in a similar situation in the future -- from about Mile 18 on I was just drinking gatorade from the water stations like everyone else. I took GU gels about every four miles.

I wore for the first time in a race my cep compression calf sleeves. These things were worth the money. At several times in the race I could feel my calf muscles acting like they were going to cramp but they never did. Each time it happened, I would take an S! Caps capsule and one time I even ate a mustard packet, emulating high school football players. I felt like the mustard really worked right away, it was crazy.

The other thing that helped were my midfoot-strike running shoes. I could tell that these contributed to not having cramps during the race because as I was running downhill I forgot about my stride and could feel my calf start to cramp as my right heel hit the ground.

After the race, I wandered around the park to get my finisher's T-shirt and medal. The reviews I read raved about the malasadas they gave out. They are a kind of Portuguese donut. I got one and liked it but to be honest I wasn't crazy about eating something deep fried right after the race.
The race had one more novel thing to offer -- they had a huge screen set up in the park showing runners crossing the finish line. What was neat about it was they time-delayed the feed so you could watch yourself crossing the line (as in the picture at the top of this blog).

All in all a really great experience and I'm glad I did it!

Time: 5 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees, light rain mist
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (2014 Publix Georgia Half Marathon), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Day 2,897: 2,000 miles for the year

In the middle of it all, I ate a giant burrito and two beers. Then I went an found a geocache.

By the time I got home, I ran seven miles and crossed 2,000 miles for the year, something I've never one before.

I knew that with all likelihood I'd cross this mark for the first time, what with almost being in a perpetual training mode that has lasted the entire year.  I thought I would cross it during the Dec. 14 Honolulu Marathon but being able to ramp up my running for the last few weeks did the trick.

My legs were pretty tired from the 12-mile run the day before. I broke out my Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31s -- which I hadn't used since the Oct. 26 Marine Corps Marathon -- to give me a little more traction on all the wet leaves around town.

Plus the shoes offered a little more support -- I gave my right ankle a little twist after running my Skechers Go Run 3s on a small rock while running around Piedmont Park yesterday.

Time: 11:42 a.m.
Temp: 55 degrees
Gear: T-shirt, short (Inman 5K 2009), shorts, Nike Air Zoom Pegasus+ 31.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Day 2,896: Turns out, Piedmont Park is a public park

First there was the helicopter.

I don't know about you, but it's extremely annoying to run with chopper blades overhead. It's distracting and you don't need to be looking above you when you need to be paying attention to the ground.

I was on mile 6 of my last 10-mile tempo run (12 miles total) before the Dec. 14 Honolulu Marathon. I basically wanted to bore myself by running 10 times at marathon pace around Lake Clara Meer.

Turned out it was anything but boring.  On my seventh lap, still having to deal with the noise from the helicopter overhead, I made my way around past the Park Place bridge. There had been a few young women and a dude mulling about with an orange cardboard sign the last few times I passed by.

This time, right as I ran by, one of the women said, "Excuse me sir, can you run over here?"

Huh? I pretended not to hear her and just ran by. It wasn't like there were any signs or any indication some commercial event was happening.

When I turned the corner, coming from the other direction was another young woman with neon blue shoes running toward me. After I passed, some guy who was hiding behind a tree with the orange sign said, "Go!"

I thought at first maybe she was doing some kind of interval.

But near the other side of the lake, I saw a security guard in a golf cart. I got his attention and said, "Hey, is there filming going on? Some lady tried to make me go the other way. They need a permit right? Last time I checked this was a public park."

He agreed and drove out the way I came. I met him near the entrance of the pool. He said he saw the women but really nothing else. I told him I'd let him know if I saw anything else.

When I got to where the other women were, the one who tried to get my attention actually stood in my way and tried to get me to run along the path.

I cut her short -- "You got a permit? I already talked to security." Her colleague said "Huh?" in the absolute dumbest matter possible. I continued on, saying "I got two laps left and this is a public park."

They couldn't say anything. They let me go on.

When I passed them the third time I just kept running. The model was running toward me again but the guy behind the tree had her turn around and run the other way.

She wasn't running that fast so I easily caught up with her. I asked her, "You filming a commercial?"

She turned and said yes. "Just running around crazy."

I felt sorry for her, wished her luck and continued on my way. By the next pass, the helicopter had left and the group was conferring in between the path and the lake. I continued on and then finished my 10th tempo mile and ran home. The fact that they stopped me got me fired up and I ended up breaking my marathon pace, easily sliding into splits that I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon.

Yet the run was great. I don't know how I will run in the marathon but at least I know I will be able to run half of it?

Time: 3:01 p.m.
Temp: 64 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Marine Corps Marathon - "Mission Accomplished", shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Day 2,894: A (half) sockless run

My schedule didn't let me get to my 4 x 1.5-mile intervals (1/4-mile recovery) until the middle of the afternoon. This was good, since the temperature was 70 degrees by then, giving me another warm weather workout.

But when I got to the park, my left foot felt funny in the running shoe. I stopped off at a picnic table and tried to adjust the shoe. When that didn't help, I removed the sock and then put the shoe back on, hoping it would have a little more space.

That seemed to work so I did the rest of my workout that way. When it was finished, I came back to the picnic table, picked up the sock from its hiding place and then ran home.

I did pick up a blister on the inside of my left foot from where it rubbed against the shoe stitching. Also, oddly enough, I got a couple of hot spots on the small toes of my right foot. I'm hoping this is the right shoe for 26.2 miles.

Time: 2:37 p.m.
Temp: 70 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Marine Corps Marathon, "Mission Focus"), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Day 2,893: The logo goes in front

After suffering from calf cramps in all four marathons that I've run, I've done a bunch of reading about what causes it and how to prevent it.

So naturally this road has led me to compression socks. The scientific research only goes so far as to say that there is evidence that these kinds of things help in recovery, not actively during a race.

But there is still a belief out there that they do help in the middle of a run and since I can't just do a bunch of calf-strengthening exercises just two weeks before the race, I'll take what I can get.

The local running store was helpful and so I bought a pair of calf sleeves, pictured above. The benefit with these is that they don't extend all the way down to the toes so you can wear the socks you'd normally wear on a run.

I didn't get out for my scheduled 8-mile run today until mid-afternoon, but that was perfect. The weather was 70 degrees and I ended up lucking out with yet another hot weather day for my workout. I even lugged my amphipod water bottle (and drank it during the run).

I wore the new sleeves for the first time. At first they felt like they were impeding my running but gradually through the run they felt totally fine.

When I got home I noticed one potential logistical problem -- they are so snug they were really difficult to get off my legs! I had to prop up my foot and then really push to get them off. I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do this after a marathon, so I might have to just keep them on for a while.

And now that I have the box in front of me, I can see I was wearing them wrong. The logo goes in front.

Time: 3:20 p.m.
Temp: 70 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Doug Kessler 10K), shorts, cep calf sleeves 2.0, Skechers Go Run 3.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 2,891: Finish what you started

At the end of the Marine Corps Marathon I felt neither exhilaration nor relief at breaking four hours for the first time. I was just exhausted physically and mentally. There was one thing I knew though -- there's no way I am running in the Honolulu Marathon in six weeks.

I had to give this $55 race entry credit for starting one of my strongest running years and helping me accomplish my goal of breaking the four hour mark in the marathon.

But in the weeks after the Oct. 26 race, as I struggled to get back into running rhythm, thoughts kept popping in my head that I can't pass this up.

I'd always wanted to run in the Honolulu Marathon. But always things kept coming up. It was too far away. The timing wasn't right. And in many cases, my training wasn't there.

But this time, I knew this would be an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I don't know how my training will be a year or even five years from now. While I can't say I am in the same shape I was in before I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon, my training still has to be better than average. And there's nothing for me to prove in this race since the four-hour mark is no longer hanging over my head.

I can't tell you this is going to be a great race for me. All I know is that I will do it and with it will be one more story in one of my best years in running.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 2,890: With weather that goes up and down, you just have to roll with it

This morning it was 29 degrees outside. That meant I didn't want to get up necessarily but I knew I had to get rolling.

By the time I got out it was 32 degrees. Luckily I have this blog for tried-and-true clothing choices in this kind of climate.

I went out and everything was fine. On the way back, up the hill to my home, I felt a slight tinge in my right hamstring. No pain. Just a warning that it was there.

It could be a little overtraining. I have run 37 miles this week, with one day left in the week.
I also need to worry about my running form. In the past, I would aggressively lean forward up hills but now I know I need to keep a good, upright body and maybe even a shorter stride.

Time: 9:33 a.m.
Temp: 32 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long x2 (Winship Cancer 5K, Atlanta Beltline Eastside 10K), Brooks Spartan III Pants, Skechers Go Run 3.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 2,889: On Turkey Day, bigger fish to fry

I ran in the Atlanta Track Club's Thanksgiving Half Marathon for six years in a row, starting in 2008. This year, however, I skipped the race for two reasons.

The first reason is that I'm planning on running in the Honolulu Marathon in two and a half weeks. In 2010, I tried a "strength of schedule" approach to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, running in a half marathon and a 10K in the weeks leading up to the 10-10-10 race.

This time, I'm content to finish up what I can of a very, very truncated training program just a month after completing the Marine Corps Marathon and be as fresh as possible for the race.

The second is that I'm also a cheapskate. I didn't see any reason to pay $85 or so to run in a half-marathon when I pretty much did the same thing for free. Today I had a 10-mile tempo run on the schedule, a workout that totals 12 miles with the warmup and cooldown.

My workout brought me alongside the Piedmont Park portion of the race, and while it was cool to see all the runners, I really just needed to focus on my pace.

Still, I wore last year's "ATL Half" shirt in solidarity!

Time: 8:31 a.m.
Temp: 39 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long x2 (Atlanta Half Marathon 2013, Nike grey), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day 2,888: My first marathon advice

And I feel, so much depends on the weather ...
 -Stone Temple Pilots

No one has ever asked me advice for a marathon before, and really, why would they? My overall experience in marathons hasn't been that great, although I am well versed in the pitfalls of the 26.2 mile distance.

But a fellow geocacher did, and this is my advice:

Congrats again for signing up for the Publix Georgia Marathon! This race is one of my favorite races of all places that I've run, since it showcases the great neighborhoods of Atlanta! Plus I think their T-shirts are the best of all races in the area. 

 It's a hilly course but I think it would be possible for you to break 3:45 in it. Your 1:42 half marathon practically guarantees a good result. That said, it will be your first marathon and I don't personally know anyone who ever got what they wanted out of their first marathon, and this includes two guys who run much faster than me (one guy ran a 1:43 half marathon before his debut and has never broken 4 hours in two marathons and the other guy ran a 1:44 and debuted in 4:17. He ran 3:44 in his second marathon and now runs between 1:36 and 1:39 half marathons).

 So this would be my gameplan. I think you are probably capable of running somewhere between 3:40 and 3:44 based on your half marathon time. I would shoot to train for 3:40 since this gives you a few minutes of leeway based on the hilly course. Plus the upcoming Boston Marathon had too many applicants and so they did not accept those who met the qualifying time for their age group up to 1 minute 2 seconds faster than the standard (so you would have had to do a 3:43:58 to get in the 2015 race). I imagine the same thing could happen for the next race you could run in, the 2016 race.

 So that means running the race at an 8:23/mile pace. The trick will be keeping this pace and not running any faster the entire length of it! In the actual marathon, this pace will seem ridiculously slow (I trained for an 8:45 pace and found myself running mile splits at 8:01 because it seemed so easy and almost bonked out of the race!) But it's the best way to make your goal.

 I recommend a training program, such as the Hanson's Marathon Method. I used the advanced program and it combined weekly base mileage, speed/strength work and tempo runs at marathon pace. Buy the book and reference it through your training. 

 One thing is you'll have to jump into training soon -- you will have 16 weeks (the length of most training programs) to train starting Dec. 1! The Hanson's program involves 18 weeks of training. 

The Hanson's book does have a chapter involving incorporating races but you'll find if you stick to the schedule that your weekends will involve long runs that range from 8 miles Sat-Sunday all the way up to 10 miles on Saturday and 16 miles on Sunday. Near the end of it it gets really time consuming and boring. You may end up running 10 miles+ on four of the seven days of the week.

 If you don't have a GPS watch for training, I recommend buying one. I have the Garmin Forerunner 610 -- there are more modern models out there. What's nice about this is you can program in your workouts, which is helpful when you do speedwork/intervals that require you to run a certain distance at a certain speed and then run slower to recover for a shorter distance, and so on.

 I would train with the goal of trying to qualify (since if you can qualify with this race that you already spent money for, why not?) but not put too much pressure on yourself to do so, since first marathons are unique experiences. 

 If you don't qualify the first time around I would register for a fall marathon, give yourself a few months off and then train over the summer.

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 2,887: Back on track

It took me nearly a month after running in the Marine Corps Marathon to be able to resume marathon training but the extra time off was worth the wait.

Today I went to Piedmont Park for my longest run since the Oct. 26 marathon -- 9.57 miles from 6 x 1-mile intervals with a quarter-mile recovery.

This time I slowed my pace to just under the 9:09/mile pace that would be needed to break four hours in the race. I ran pretty steadily without trouble and it felt good to be training.

I think the flat route around Lake Clara Meer would be ideal training for an equally flat race course. But a good portion of the park will be occupied for Thursday's Thanksgiving Half Marathon.

Time: 9:53 a.m.
Temp: 52 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Locomotive Half Marathon 2010), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day 2,886: A rare hot day

With a race in three weeks that's supposed to be in the 70s, I haven't really had a chance in a month to run in weather that hot.

Until today. Somehow, 70-degree weather greeted me and so I was able to shed the extra layers and run in conditions that likely will be similar to that of the Honolulu Marathon.

And ... it felt good. Around Mile 2 I felt myself sweating a good bit. I happened to be running in the same place where I trained all summer and had easy access to water fountains but I didn't drink any.

My legs felt pretty good late in the run when I ran in Piedmont Park. I passed two middle-aged guys while pushing the little one in the BOB stroller. One of them said laughing, "It's ok to be passed by a kid."

When I got home I could tell that running in cool weather for a month has affected my hydration -- I drank two 17-ounce bottles of Gatorade with no problem.

So I probably won't get another chance to have a training run in weather this hot before the race. I hope when the time comes my body remembers all the miles training through the summer in Atlanta.

Time: 1:02 p.m.
Temp: 70 degrees, 64 percent humidity
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Marine Corps Marathon, "Mission Accomplished"), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 2,884: 1,900 miles FTY

Today I had to run across town to maintain a geocache for a friend and that 6.6-mile run put me over 1,900 miles for the year.

With three full weeks to go before the Dec. 14 Honolulu Marathon, it looks likely I will reach the 2,000-mile mark by then.

Although today's run went pretty well, on the way back I could feel just a tinge that my right hamstring wasn't fully back. I didn't feel pain but it just didn't seem completely normal.

I guess I'm going to have to wonder for a while whether I really can and should run a second marathon in three weeks' time.

Time: 9:43 a.m.
Temp: 41 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (William's Run 5K; this is one of the most comfortable technical shirts I have), T-shirt, short (Inman Middle School 5K '09), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 2,882: Skechers Go Run 3

One of the things about coming off of marathon training is that nearly all of my running shoes are at the end of their lifespan.

The training journey started out with the venerable Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 but ended with more minimalist shoes -- the Saucony Kinvara 5 and Skechers' Go Run 2.

So when I went looking for the next pair of training shoes -- and the possible shoe that I will wear in the Dec. 14 Honolulu Marathon, I decided on Skechers next installment, the Go Run 3.

What really helped is that the retail $80 shoe was being sold for $39 (the same price that I bought the Go Run 2s in April). Clearly this brand has not caught on very well yet.

Today was the first day that I wore this shoe for a run. And my initial impressions were that it was a Saucony Kinvara 5 in Go Run 3 clothing!

Interestingly enough, when you compare the two shoes, they are very similar -- the Go Run 3 boasts a weight of 7.0 ounces for size 9 (Kinvara: 7.7 ounces). Both have the same heel-to-toe drop of 4 mm.

(In contrast, my Go Run 2 shoes weigh 6.6 ounces and have a 5.2 mm drop. The Nike Pegasus shoes are clodhoppers by comparison with an 11 ounce weight and a 10 mm drop.)

The Go Run 2s are more like minimalist racing shoes -- what I didn't like about them was that in training runs I could feel every piece of gravel I ran over. But the new Go Run 3s are much more cushioned, making the run enjoyable.

My only complaint with the shoes is I feel like the laces are too long (I substituted an old pair of Nike laces in my Go Run 2s).

And although both pairs of Skechers shoes I run in are size 10 and are fine, next time around I might want to get size 9.5.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 2,880: Super cold

This morning it was 24 degrees or so when I got up so I tried to put off my run as long as possible. So I ended up taking out the little one in the afternoon.

It was still cold ... and then didn't get much better. I took off my windbreaker at the North Highland Avenue/Ponce stoplight only to put it back on at the PATH trail near Mile 2.

I recently ordered a pair of Brooks Spartan Running Pant III - Short because I've been looking for a pair of running pants with as short of an inseam as possible so they don't drag on the ground under my feet if I am wearing them inside without shoes on.

These fit the bill -- last year I wanted to get the previous version -- the Spartan Pant II short but they were sold out in my size.

So as soon as I saw these for sale I bought them. At $85 they were a little more than I wanted to spend on a pair of running pants but I've worn them three times already as winter has come to our area sooner than in previous years.

Time: 1:40 p.m.
Temp: 31 degrees (only rose to 33 degrees by end of run)
Gear: Nike windbreaker, Technical T-shirt, long x2 (Nike white, Beltline 10K), running pants, Skechers Go Run 2.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 2,877: I'm not ready ... yet?

After running six-miles a day for six days, I decided to ramp up my training, sticking to the marathon program's final weeks leading up to race day.

That meant today was a 9-mile tempo run (11 miles total). Instead of training at an 8:45/mile pace, I decided I would do so at a 9-minute mile pace.

Things went well for the first mile. But I found it difficult to maintain my pace and during the first three miles, I could feel a slight tinge in my right hamstring.

To add insult to injury, somewhere right after five miles, my left calf muscle cramped up. It's been years since I've had this happen in a training run.

So I just ran the last two miles back home. It's obvious that I am not ready for this kind of running yet. I think rest will be better for the next few weeks, so I'll just plan on running less mileage.

This is one thing I didn't see coming, especially after previous marathons. In 2010, I ran in the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler just three weeks after running and finishing an excruciating ING Georgia Marathon. I had no problems getting back into shape. I ran a 5K at 7:47 pace just 20 days after running in the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Less than a month later, I made a 5K PR (22:20) in the Race 2 Recycle.

It puts into question what kind of condition I'll be in for the Honolulu Marathon. There's no time limit to finish the race so I can take all the time I want if I still want to run in it in a few weeks.

Time: 9:37 a.m.
Temp: 43 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Fall Five Miler), T-shirt (Surgeon General's Run 2009), shorts, Nike Air Zoom Pegasus+ 31.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 2,873: The 11-day recovery

Today's run started out like the previous 10 days after running in the Marine Corps Marathon. It was grueling.

But after the halfway point of my 3-mile run, I felt like I was running a lot better. It was nice to finally have some speed back.

Coming back along North Highland Avenue, I caught up with a dude who was way faster up the hill. I talked to him about the Charleston Marathon, which was on the shirt he was wearing.

The pace was pretty fast (my data shows I got down to 6:13/mile) and I could tell I had trouble talking and running.

In any event, I was able to make it home. My mile time for that last mile was 7:49.

Despite a little foolishness, I'm back to some kind of regular running speed, 11 days after running in the marathon.

Time: 8:04 a.m.
Temp: 46 degrees
Gear: Long-sleeved T-shirt (Ted's Montana Grill), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Day 2,869: 6 days later

Today was the first day I ran more than just a mile. It also was one of the coldest days so far this season.

I wore my Marine Corps Marathon finisher shirt -- a double-thick technical mock turtleneck, in keeping with the race's tradition.

It was at least 40 degrees (my Garmin data says 37 degrees). The shirt was warm enough for me to do my run in. It's good news because when I got the thick and heavy shirt I was wondering exactly what I should do with it.

I felt like I had good lateral speed but my left quad just felt depleted. After the run I felt like I'd run a half marathon.

So I guess it's back to taking it easy at least for a few more days.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 2,867: Drydock + marathon prediction

Like the two previous marathons I've run, it's taken me several days to get back to some semblance of running form. Today is the fourth day since the Marine Corps Marathon and it's the first day that I've felt like I had my leg speed back.

I'm actually going to continue taking it easy until I feel like I can run normally. Probably only a few more days at the most.

Today there was an interesting post in Slate that I want to make sure I keep here. It's an updated marathon pace calculator. At its most basic it looks at your half marathon time multiplied by 2.19. Another pace calculator uses 2.085 as a multiplier to calculate your marathon time and the same multiple to predict 10K performance using a 5K race time.

The longer format asks you how many miles you've been running a week and your race time from two races (or one if you've only done one). It also asks you the race day conditions, such as a hilly course or if it was hot outside.

So I typed in 55 miles a week to be conservative. I used my race time from this March's Publix Georgia Half Marathon. I ran it in 1:52:16. I selected hilly conditions.

And what did it predict?

It predicted a time less than two minutes off what I actually ran. Something to think about.

Update: If you just use the 2.19 multiplier to my 2014 half marathon time, you get a race time that looks like 4:04:48 -- a time that's pretty close to my 2010 Chicago Marathon time of 4:06:39.

I know it's just a formula but to me the new pace calculator also shows the impact of the extra miles I logged in my attempt to break the four hour mark.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day 2,863: Marine Corps Marathon (PR)

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Same old cat.

Almost like a throwback to when I first started running in races, I ran in today's Marine Corps Marathon super-aggressively and nearly bonked out of the entire race. Yet I still made my goal of finishing in under four hours, setting my best race times in the marathon as well as the 30K and 20K distances.

It almost embarrasses me that after training to a metronome pace of 8:45/mile for 18 weeks that I would throw caution to the wind and run mile splits as low as 8:01 and 8:06 but the best I can say is that the faster pace felt natural to me and in the middle of the race I felt like if I could take a stab at a really good marathon finishing time then I should do it.

Ironically, today's race conditions mirrored the hot Indian summer conditions of four years ago when I came close to breaking four hours in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon but finished in 4:06:39.

In that race, I was holding my own but was forced to slow down after my calf muscles started to cramp up at Mile 20. In today's race, something similar happened in the warmer weather -- my calf muscles started to cramp up at Mile 19.

What was different was that I had run so aggressively in the middle of the race that even when I was forced to slow down I knew that I could run the last 7 miles of the race at a very slow 11 minute mile pace -- I didn't even run that slow in the Chicago Marathon -- and still break four hours.

I think the difference was the training. I ran 888.71 miles in 18 weeks under a training program that is nothing short of elite. I ran about 70 miles more for each minute that I ran over four hours in the Chicago Marathon.

I also did things that I wouldn't have done four years ago. In this race, I really embraced fueling and hydration. I ate pasta for three days going into the race (believe me I was sick of it by the third day) and wore a 70-ounce Camelbak hydration pack in the race and ate a GU gel every two miles on the course.

It's pretty surreal now that it's over that I did it. I do know that I don't want to run in a warm marathon, at least for right now, let alone another marathon so soon after this one. So I am thinking I will skip the Honolulu Marathon that I already signed up for -- the race that started a fitness kick that lasted an entire year.

Time: 8 a.m.
Temp: 59 degrees (increased to 70 during the race)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Georgia Marathon, white), shorts, Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day 2,862: New yearly mileage record

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The most mileage I'd ever done in a calendar year was 1,776.55 miles in 2010, when I ran in two marathons and a slew of other races.

Today, during a 3-mile shakedown run in historic Alexandria Old Town, I passed that mark. There are 61 days left in the year, not to mention the 26.2-mile run scheduled for tomorrow morning.

With any luck, I will complete by year's end something I've never done before -- run 2,000 miles in a calendar year. If I finish tomorrow's Marine Corps Marathon, that will put me over 1,800 miles for the year. One hundred miles a month for two months doesn't seem so bad, does it?

But first things first. It's time to #runwiththemarines.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 2,861: The Marine Corps Marathon expo

WASHINGTON -- I feel like I've been training for an entire year and it's really surreal that race day is almost here.

Today I drove up from the Richmond area and luckily was able to check into my hotel early. So that gave me plenty of time to get to and through the expo. Seven hours is enough time, right?

The expo gave me pause because I've experienced two expos in Washington, both for the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler. Those expos involved round-the-block lines to get in and although those lines were relatively quick moving, I wasn't sure what to expect for this race. I remember some online reviews talking about how slow previous expos were and how much walking you had to do.

I'd originally planned on getting into town on Friday (today) and then going to the expo the next day. But it actually was better for me to go during the middle of a weekday. There really weren't any lines and I quickly made my way through, getting my race bib and then later, my T-shirt.

The bib came with a race program, patch and a Chipotle buy one, get-one coupon. Everything was pretty efficient. I wandered through the expo and stopped to get a marathon shirt from Brooks (I think they have made some of my favorite race gear).

And then I was out and made my way back to the Metro. I thought about running back (had a 6-mile run on schedule today) but just decided to drop everything off at the hotel and change into running gear.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 2,860: A chilly run in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Week 18, the very last week of marathon training, is supposed to be easy-peasy. Still, there are a few six-mile runs thrown in and running sometimes is difficult when you're in another city.

So I ventured out this morning in what has to be some of the coolest weather I've been in recent weeks. I wandered around downtown to get some geocaches but my hands started to get cold and I was on a time schedule since we wanted to leave the city right after rush hour.

I only ended up doing a little more than two miles of the six that was on the schedule but I rightfully decided that with three days left until the Marine Corps Marathon, it was good enough.

Time: 7:43 a.m.
Temp: 41 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Atlanta Marathon promo), Short-sleeve T-shirt, shorts, Salomon Sense Mantra.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 2,848: Another weekly mileage record

Today's 10-mile run gave me 61.32 miles for the week, edging by just under a mile the 60.41 miles I did for the week of Sept. 7-13 this year.

I think this mileage record will stand for a while since my marathon training is coming to a close. I've put up three 60+ mile weeks during the course of the training and it's been pretty amazing to have put up miles that last year would have seemed crazy to me to do so.

I'm glad though that the weekly mileage is dropping off. It's not easy to fit in multiple 10+ mile runs during a week.

Hopefully it all will be enough for marathon day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 2,845: SCT -- Along the county lines

ROCKMART, Ga. --  I'd let some new caches build up along the Silver Comet Trail so I decided to go on my "off'" day for my marathon training schedule -- I still run one mile to keep the streak alive.

I haven't ever been in this area before. It's certainly one of the most beautiful places on the SCT and even the Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama (I've done sections all the way down to Jacksonville, Ala.).

In the middle of the afternoon I had to decide where I would run my mile. So I put down my bike not to far away from where this picture was taken and ran back and forth in between the Polk and Paulding county lines until I did the mile.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 2,843: It pays to be curious

I was going through my news feeds on Facebook when I saw a post of the race-related wear for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

I'm not running in it this year of course, but I clicked on and looked at what they had to offer. In years past I've drooled over the cool race shirts related to my hometown and decided some window shopping was in order.

It turned out that they also sold Nike shoes, too -- and at a pretty nice discount. The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31s that I likely will be wearing in the Oct. 26 Marine Corps Marathon were discounted to $79.97 from $100.

That got me thinking. I just earned 1,750 points on -- enough to cash it in for a $25 Nike e-gift card. So I quickly did that and submitted my order.

The total was $61.37 (including $6.40 tax) and it comes with free shipping, making these shoes available at about a 46 percent discount! That makes these shoes among the cheapest that I've purchased for current season running shoes.

I'm not completely sure I will run in the Dec. 14 Honolulu Marathon but if I do, I will probably need some new kicks sometime soon.

In recent weeks I've been shopping around for some new shoes, since my current pair of 31s have 320 miles on them and my other trainers, such as the Saucony Kinvara 5 and the Skechers Go Run 2, have 272 and 206 miles on them respectively.

And through the Oct. 26 marathon, I am projected to run 177.45 more miles!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Day 2,842: 16-mile run

Today was the last of three 16-milers for my training for the Marine Corps Marathon. After having a bad tempo workout just three days prior, I wasn't sure how this one would be.

And so I procrastinated but when I finally got out the door it was a lovely 40 degrees (my Garmin data says 46 degrees).

Even though it was cool out I decided to wear the Camelbak pack and then also go with a GU gel pack every two miles, similar to what I did two weeks ago.

This time, however, I wanted to let myself ease into the 9:30/mile pace that was prescribed for this workout.

While I didn't hit that pace until mile 5, the run was fabulous. I got faster throughout the run and it didn't seem like such a hassle to me. I drank about three sips every two miles after consuming a GU gel (compare that to 6 sips every two miles and even more in miles 14 and 15 two weeks ago at temperatures above 70 degrees).

My last two gels came a little bit late in the sequence, #6 at 12.6 miles and the last one after 14.8 miles.

When I got home I still felt like I had a lot of energy left. I checked the temperature and it had only gotten up to 57 degrees. If the temperature is like this on race day, I think I will definitely have a good outing.

Time: 8:55 a.m.
Temp: 46 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Nike Climafit), T-shirt (Race for Research), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus 31.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Day 2,841: Finally, cooler weather

Today's run came with some much-needed relief. It was the first cool day of the season.

The last few years the weather has cooled down in mid-September. But this year I had to endure training runs that reached well into the 70s, meaning soaking wet clothes and at times, the dreaded bloody nipple.

I finally broke out the long-sleeved T-shirts. It was a nice way to end a 55-mile running week.

Time: 9:08 a.m.
Temp: 48 degrees
Gear: Long-sleeve T (Run the Reagan '11), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 5.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 2,839: A bad workout

Although the marathon training schedule has gone like clockwork every now and then there's a workout that doesn't really pan out.

I got a late start to my run, it was to be my first 10-mile tempo run (12 miles total). When I left the sun was out but it was still a fairly cool 66 degrees.

But later on, it got warmer. I felt like I needed water about halfway through the run on the Beltline. I drank a bunch when I got into Piedmont Commons but by the time I exited the bowl, I knew I was done for the day. Later I saw the temperature climbed to 75 degrees.

I'd only done 7 miles of the 10-mile workout. I had something similar happen to me on Sept. 16, when I was to do three 2-mile strength intervals with a half-mile recovery in between. I did two of them and was done for the day. 

Luckily in that case I was able to bounce back the rest of the week. 

To make matters worse in today's run I discovered as I was entering the shower a dreaded bloody nipple.

Time: 9:31 a.m.
Temp: 66 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (2014 Charles Harris 10K), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 5.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day 2,837: Another monthly mileage record

Today's 9.52-mile strength interval run gave me 246.85 miles for the month (8.23 miles a day average), the most I've ever run.

Of course, marathon training helps. It surpasses my all-time high last month of 235.28 miles.

So far I've run 1,602.44 miles for the year and it puts me on pace to break for the first time 2,000 miles in a year. I came close in 2010, the last year I had a marathon push, but could not break the mark with 1,776.55 miles that year.

That's probably the most miles I've run in any year. So I imagine next month, along with a marathon to run, I'll be on track to exceed that milestone as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Day 2,828: 16-mile run

Today was my second of three 16-mile runs I will do in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon.

I decided to use this run as a shakedown of my hydration and fueling plan. Last week they announced that CamelBak-style hydration packs will be allowed in the Oct. 26 race. So I decided to test this out in a run.

First, I went downstairs and pulled out my old CamelBak. It hadn't been used in four years -- I used it in my training runs for the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon but did not use it during the race.

When I finally got myself running, right away I liked that it wasn't in the way like when I carry that 20-ounce bottle on the hip belt. The water in it bounced around but I didn't worry about it too much.

My plan was to consume more gels than I'd ever done in training, basically every 2 miles. So I consumed 7 GU gels at that rate. It was ok although I did feel like the gels really stuck to my mouth on miles 12 and 14.

Since I didn't really know how much water I would consume, I told myself I would just take six swallows of water every 2 miles. I did this although in mile 14 when I knew I was about to finish the run I took 14 swallows since there was a bunch of water remaining. During the last mile I drank 24 swallows and there still was water in the pack.

When I finished the run, I drank about 18 more swallows of water and the pack probably has about 6 ounces left in it.

I ran along the Emory neighborhoods that were my downfall in the 2010 ING race. I decided that if I needed to, the Publix on Ponce or the Emory village shops would be available if I needed water or a toilet on the run.

But luckily, there's so much construction going on in this neighborhood that there were plenty of portapotties. I was thankful to use one 4.8 miles into the run. But I also saw them at 5.1 miles, 5.4 miles, 6.7 miles and 7.5 miles in. I only had to use it once but it was reassuring to see so many on the run.

My Nike Air Pegasus 31s hurt my feet in the first 3/4 of a mile but eventually didn't the rest of the way. After I showered my right foot hurt a little but didn't bother me the rest of the day. I hit my pace 12 of the 16 miles so I feel that was a success.

Because I waited so long to start, it got to 80 degrees near the end of the run. Around mile 13 I really wanted to quit but I told myself most of the rest of the way would be downhill. It seemed like a struggle to keep the pace but I eventually did.

The gels did help in that my legs don't seem so tapped now. I wonder if it would be better if I took them every mile.

That will be something to think about for the future.

Time: 9:50 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees (rose to 80 degrees)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Braves Father's Day 4-miler 2012), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus 31.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 2,825: Bloody nipples!

So I went on my 9-mile tempo run today and when I was cooling off in the driveway, I noticed something different about my sweat-stained shirt.

There were faint blotches on my chest. When I took a shower, sure enough, I discovered I had one of running's oddest maladies -- two bloody nipples.

I'm only writing about this because I think it's the only time in training that it's ever happened. I think it only happened once in a race, the 2010 ING Georgia Marathon. That time I only suffered one.

I blame it on the silk screen on my technical T-shirt. I'll have to be a little more wary in the future.

Time: 8:15 a.m.
Temp: 66 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt (Doug Kessler 10K), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 5.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 2,823: My first 60-mile week

Today's 10-mile easy run gave me 60.41 miles for the week, the most I've ever run in a 7-day period.

I ran 58.99 miles for the week of August 15-21 in 2010 (just eight weeks before the Bank of America Chicago Marathon) but that included an 18-miler and a 20-miler.

For this past week, the most I ran in a day was a 16-mile run on Sunday. I ran 10 miles or more for four of the seven days.

Today's run was hot but not quite as hot as on Friday. Just before 5 miles I stopped into Colony Square and drank some very nicely chilled water from a water fountain in the W hotel. I was completely soaked by the time I turned around at the 5th Street overpass (lots of people tailgating for the Georgia Tech game).

Then around mile 7 I was thankful that Big Peach Midtown on Peachtree Street had a water cooler out. I drank about five cups of water there. Drank about two full bottles of Gatorade after I came back.

Time: 8:50 a.m.
Temp: 73 degrees (94 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Asics blue), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 5.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 2,822: Just crazy heat

At this point in my marathon training I normally wouldn't even bother to write about a measly 6-mile run but I'm doing so today because of the crazy heat and humidity.

It had rained earlier in the morning so outside it just felt steamy. I also noticed a difference when the handlebars of the BOB stroller were completely soaked. I don't even think I'd run 1.5 miles yet and I was looking for a dry spot to hold on to.

At about four miles my shirt and shorts were completely soaked, something that I can expect if I'm running for maybe twice as long as I was.

I thought about just shelving the run for the day but I kept at it and was happy to get home. I drank a full bottle of Gatorade even though I stopped for water twice in the park.

Later on when I saw my data, I couldn't believe it -- it was 75 degrees with 89 percent humidity! It will be nice when the cool weather sets in for the season.

Time: 8:44 a.m.
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (CS yellow), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 5.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day 2,817: 16-mile run

Today was the first of three 16-mile runs I will do for marathon training. After struggling through the 15-mile run two weeks ago I wanted to make sure I was as prepared as possible.

This route I planned with having grocery stores where I could get water every four miles or so and other stores where I could purchase it in between. I also brought five GU gel packs and had a basic strategy of taking the first one after mile 6.

Things basically went according to plan. I stopped just after mile 6 to find a cache and then I drank a little bit of water and ate my first GU gel, one called salted watermelon. It was a little too salty for me and it had a kind of Jolly Rancher aftertaste.

Just after Mile 8 I was in downtown Decatur. I ran past the Big Peach store thinking maybe they would have a water cooler out -- they didn't but no matter, since there was a water fountain that worked in Decatur Square.

I turned up Claremont Avenue. In my original plan (since I didn't know about the Decatur Square water fountain) I would have run to the Kroger here to get water.

I also had planned to stop for water at the Publix store at North Decatur and Clairmont just before mile 10. But my water bottle was full so I didn't cross the street and stop.

At about Mile 10.55 I had another GU gel, Mandarin Orange. It had an ok taste, not really my favorite. About a mile later, at 11.66 at the top of North Decatur and Briarcliff I drank all of my water. I went the next 1.6 miles with an empty bottle until I stopped at the Publix on Ponce (really cold water here!).

Then I finished the last 3 miles in the neighborhood. On Virginia Avenue at mile 14.5, I had my third GU gel, the Tri-Berry flavor that I usually purchase.

I was pretty soaked and had brought a spare shirt but didn't change it during the run. I felt pretty good except the last mile. I made pace in 14 of 16 miles (the first and last miles being slower).

I have to find a way to have more water with me or drink more when I run. Maybe next time I will have to bring out my Camelbak.

Time: 7:19 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees (94 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion grey), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus 31.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 2,815: A gel in time and waiting on my Garmin

Today was the last of my 8-mile tempo runs. Next week it will be a 9-mile tempo run (11 miles total) and then four weeks later, the 10-mile tempo run (12 miles total).

Because the tempo portion of the run is just slightly slower than half-marathon pace, the runs kind of feel like doing a half-marathon race ... every week. During last week's 8-mile tempo run I realized as I entered Piedmont Commons with 1.5 miles left in the tempo portion of the run that I needed to treat the run like I would an actual race.

And that means taking GU gels. Normally I don't like to use them during training workouts since it's kind of like eating money (they cost about $1 a piece). But they have been magic for me in the past in the half marathon (I take one at Mile 9 and it usually is good for the next four miles to close out the race).

For the 10-mile run today, I decided that I would take it after running six miles (five miles of that in tempo), so it would cover the last four miles of the run.

It worked beautifully. Eating a gel at the right time in a race gives you confidence to finish strong. In today's workout I could tell that I had extra energy, or rather, wasn't taking energy out of my legs (although 2.5 miles after taking the gel I thought I could have used another one -- but I didn't carry any extras). After I finished running I just drank water instead of a Gatorade. The rest of the day my legs felt fine instead of feeling like I've just run in a race.


The other thing that I noticed today is how long it takes for my Garmin Forerunner 610 to determine my average pace. Normally in a shorter race like a 5K or a 10K this doesn't matter so much since I am just trying to run flat out.

But for the marathon, running at the right pace is crucial since running too fast at the start can sink you after Mile 20.

In today's tempo run I noticed that right after each mile split, it took a while for the Garmin to arrive at an average pace even though I was running at a steady pace! In one instance in Piedmont Park it took more than a quarter mile (and maybe up to a half mile) before it could decide on my pace.

About a month ago I was running on the PATH trail near The Carter Center when my watch just finished recording my second mile lap. Then I noticed my pace was very slow so I tried to run faster to counter this. Now I know that the watch was trying to determine my pace and I wasn't running any slower than I was before my second mile.

Time: 7:03 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees (94 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Atlanta Beltline Southwest 5K), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 5. (1 GU gel).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Day 2,814: The stroller + toddler speed test

I'd read somewhere that every extra pound you have costs you two seconds per mile. I was able to test that wisdom today dropping off the little guy to preschool and then running some more on a 7-mile run.

My data showed that on this easy run, I ran about a 12-minute mile for 3.5 miles with a 25-pound BOB stroller and a 25-pound toddler.

When I dropped him off, I ran another mile (to drop off the stroller) and I ran an 11-minute mile. It was actually pretty hard to run with an empty stroller. The front wheel kept on wanting to jump up all the time.

After I put away the stroller, my last 2.5 miles were in the 9:30-10 minute mile range.

I guess it seems obvious the more weight you have on you, the slower it's going to be pushing it all around.

Time: 8 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees (94 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Publix Georgia Half Marathon 2014), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 5.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 2,810: An eventful August

Today I finished the second of back-to-back 10-milers and was glad it was over. In doing so I ran 235.28 miles for the month, the most of any month that I've ever run.

I also crossed 10,000 miles for the streak this month and logged my longest run in a foreign country (10.65 miles in Munich on Aug. 17).

In August 2010 I ran 210 miles in the lead-up to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It's hard to tell whether any of this work will help on race day but I feel pretty comfortable running up some of the harder hills in the city.

Today it was cool out but the humidity made the run pretty brutal. I started out in Morningside checking on a few caches, then made my way to Piedmont Commons, into Piedmont Park and along Piedmont Avenue to the start of the PATH trail.

Then I followed the middle 5 miles of the ING half-marathon course until I was back home.

Time: 6:58 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees (100 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Charles Harris 2014), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 5.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 2,803: 15-mile run

This morning was one of the hottest it's been in a long while -- 74.6 degrees with 96 percent humidity. So those were the conditions in which I started off on my longest run in more than four years.

After doing the 14-mile run two weeks ago and having to run with a completely soaked shirt, I brought not one but two extra shirts with me for this workout. It turned out that I didn't wear either of them so was just basically carrying some dead weight the entire time.

It took me four miles until I was able to run at the training pace of about 9:30 min/mile. I'm not sure why I struggled with this but I guess it is true that this training program is designed to simulate the fatigue you're going to have in an actual marathon.

At about 9.6 miles I drank three-fourths of the water I had on me. I should have checked into the CVS then and bought some Powerade. Instead, I waited two miles until I was in Atlantic Station and finally bought some at the Publix there.

It took me three miles to get back on pace and I only made pace during this run for eight of the 15 miles. What's interesting about this run is the paces are very similar to my last run of that length. It could be that stopping for the Powerade threw my pace off each time.

One thing I have noticed in the last few runs, particularly the longer ones is that the stiffness of the Nike Air Pegasus 31s that I complained about previously actually feels good at the end of long workouts. My feet feel locked in and although I like running in the softer Saucony Kinvara 5s, I probably will go with these Nikes for the marathon.

Time: 7:07 a.m.
Temp: 74.6 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion gray, another great shirt to run in for these conditions), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus 31.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 2,796: Running in Munich

MUNICH, Germany -- There was a 10-mile run on my marathon training schedule for Sunday. Only I was far away from home in Germany and I didn't even know what it would be like to run on the roads.

Luckily we were staying at a hotel near the airport, which is nestled in the countryside along farm roads. I set out nearly an hour before sunrise, pretty much running in the dark along one of those farm roads. The weather was pretty cool and felt wonderful.

Even at that hour, planes were landing at this busy airport. When it got lighter along my run, you could see places where they even put in benches for planespotters.

The area was pretty flat, which also was good for the run. I basically made it a 5-mile out, 5-mile back run and I was back before I knew it. The new shoes were great again and I guess there will be a little bit of competition to see whether I run in my Nike Air Pegasus+ 31s or those.

It turned out to be the longest run that I've done outside the United States, surpassing a 7.62-mile run with the wife on Dec. 6, 2011 in London.

Time: 5:22 a.m.
Temp: 48 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (pathtags), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 2.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 2,794: The double-switch

Heading into the weekend, I had a dilemma -- as my schedule existed I would have to run 26 miles in 3 days in Munich, Germany.

But then I used a trick in baseball -- the double-switch. Here are the days I needed to rotate:

Schedule: Wednesday, 1 mile run; Friday, easy 6 miles; Saturday, easy 10 miles; Sunday, easy 10 miles.
Switch: Wednesday: Easy 6 miles, Friday, easy 10 miles, Saturday, 1-mile run; Sunday, easy 10 miles.

It turned out to work very well. I ran 6-miles on Wednesday, just a day after doing my interval workout. Then on Friday, after doing my 7-mile tempo run (9 miles total), I did a 10-mile run that took me downtown to the famous spot of where Rick Grimes enters the city of Atlanta on horseback.

I did that run using my new Saucony Kinvara 2 trainers. They felt extremely great out of the box and it was that performance that earned them a ticket to Germany for my overseas running.

It also was fortunate that I scheduled myself only a 1-mile run on Saturday. After taking a 9-hour redeye flight from Atlanta, I was pretty tired and not really wanting to do a longer run. We really didn't have the time anyway to stop for more than that, since we also did a road trip to the Czech Republic.

Time: 7:07 a.m.
Temp: 62 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Publix Georgia Marathon/Half Marathon promo), shorts, Saucony Kinvara 2.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 2,793: How to derail a loyal running shoe customer

                           A brand-new pair of Saucony Kinvara 5s.

If you looked back at my 10,000-mile running streak, all you would see on my running logs are workouts using Nike's venerable Air Pegasus shoe. In fact, my love affair with this model of shoe dates back all the way to March 5, 2001, when I broke in a new pair on a 3.425-mile run.

Before that I had been wearing Nike's Air International Max trainer, which at the time reminded me much of the shoe that I loved the most, Nike's Air Max Triax. That shoe carried me through top running events including the Hood to Coast relay and the Portland Marathon.

The reason I bring this up today is that today I received a special delivery, something I have not done in 17 years. I purchased a non-Nike trainer with the intent that it could be a replacement.

In June I dutifully purchased Nike's new version of the Air Pegasus shoe -- their 31. I was happy at the time, as I always am happy to buy the next iteration of something that I love. The 31s look and feel fast and do not have the dull monotone colors that I hated in the previous year's 30 version.

But the 31s also did something last year's shoe does not -- added stiffness that roils my feet during runs. I've mentioned in the past how it would take me 70 miles or so to break in a new pair of shoes so my feet would not have such excruciating pain. Even during today's 9-mile run that same stiffness came into play.

My Nike 31s have 242 miles on them, prompting me to look into a new pair to have some choices before the Oct. 26 Marine Corps Marathon.  Between now and race day, I will easily run another 500 miles -- the point when it's recommended that you replace a pair of shoes -- so I want to make sure that I have shoes that agree with me on long runs.

So when I read that the new Saucony Kinvara 5 was an Editor's Choice pick in Runners World magazine, I felt it was worth a try. I haven't worn Sauconys since I was in my 20s living in Japan. (Interestingly I started off in high school wearing Nikes and then went to Saucony and New Balance during my time in Japan and eventually came back to Nikes).

These new Sauconys look aggressive and feel great. If they run great then I will have some decisions to make, probably not something a shoe company that had me locked into their brand for 17 straight years wants to hear.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 2,791: The difference four degrees makes?

Today was interval day and I was looking forward to the challenge. On the schedule I was supposed to do 3 x 1 mile intervals, with a .35-mile recovery.

Last night I read a new version of the training program I am using (actually the half-marathon book) and it mentioned that the most gains come from intervals being run between 2 and 6 minutes in length and that if my pace exceeded this 6-minute threshold I should not do the longer distance. The older version -- my marathon training plan -- does not have this extra sentence.

Since my last interval pace was more than 7 minutes I opted instead today to do 4 x .75-mile intervals with a 1/4-mile recovery.

It still felt cool out despite the added temperature but I could feel that I wasn't going as fast as I'd been. Maybe it was the temperature and maybe it was the added fatigue of just having done a 14-mile run at (long-run) pace two days earlier.

In any event, I decided to not worry about the pace since all four intervals still fell within my training goal (7:32, 7:30, 7:16, 7:43).

There's only two more weeks of speed training left and then the rest of the way is strength training.

Time: 7:12 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion, red), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Day 2,789: 14-mile run

Today was my first 14-mile run in three years and my second long run at pace (9:30/mile or so). I had a bunch of caches to check on/maintain so the route was easy enough, following the PATH trail into Decatur.

It was a humid day again so it wasn't too long before I was soaked. I got pretty thirsty at mile 9.67 or so and stopped at a store for some Powerade. I drank 3/4 of the 32-ounce bottle (I finished off the bottle two miles later and was pretty much fine for the rest of the run).

I thought about buying a T-shirt at the store but was glad I didn't. Even though I was pretty soaked, the air made my shirt feel cool when I stepped back outside.

I think I made pace for most of the run. It will be hard to tell, though, since I accidentally erased the data or it erased itself for me.

I guess what counted is that I got the workout in and now tomorrow is Week 8 of my marathon training.

Time: 7:09 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Doug Kessler 10K, which is probably the best shirt I have to wear in situations like these in which I know I will be running with a soaked shirt), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day 2,778: 10,000 miles!

It's funny that just eight months ago I knew that I would eventually hit 10,000 miles for the running streak but did not know whether it would be in 2014.

Today I reached that mark, crossing the 1,186.11 miles needed for the year to reach the five-digit running threshold.

It really hasn't been too much on the mind as of late, since my marathon workouts have been pretty intense. Today I finished 8 miles for the day to have 49.5 miles for the week. Tomorrow is a 14-mile long run.

I had some caches to check on so I ran in Midtown and to Atlantic Station. Although it was hot, the run was pleasant. There was no set pace that I had to run at and really nothing in particular I needed to do later on.

When the watch beeped at 8 miles, I paid attention to the next two-hundredths of a mile -- the exact point where I would cross 10,000 miles for the streak -- and then finished out the run.

Now it's a 14-mile run and 10 more weeks of training until the big race.

Time: 7:49 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Atlanta Track Club), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Day 2,774: Climbing the ladder

Today was my first ladder workout and I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out.

A ladder is an interval progression. It involved a quarter mile run, followed by a half-mile, three-quarters mile and then a full mile and on down to three-quarters mile and a half mile. There was a quarter-mile recovery run in between.

Add a mile warmup and cooldown at either end and you're looking at a 7-1/4 mile run.

I actually looked forward to the shorter intervals on the ladder since it has been a while since I've been able to tackle them. Sure enough, on the quarter-mile, I ran a 6:57/mile pace.

The others were also decent enough: 7:06, 7:09, 7:16, 7:20, 7:17. The pace was fast yet I still felt like I had a bunch in the tank.

It was nice to see that after a few weeks of intervals I've developed a little more speed.

Time: 6:45 a.m.
Temp: 68 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Georgia Marathon), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 2,769: 65.8 miles to go

Normally I should be talking about my 7-mile tempo run today or that the 9-mile run gave me 180 miles for the month.

But I just realized that I have 65.8 miles to go to reach 10,000 miles for the streak! Based on the marathon training schedule, I should hit this mark if not by the end of next week, by Aug. 10, when I have a 14-mile run to do.

Anyway, today's run was pretty good. The temperature started out pretty cool -- 68 degrees. I had thought out the route the day before and it worked out. I hit my race pace six of the seven miles (I had a 9:03/mile pace for the second mile but I think the number of turns I had to do for my turnaround at Boulevard was a factor. I think I'll eliminate this in future tempo runs and just make up the difference in the park).

The 180.77 miles for this July is the second highest number of miles I've ever run. The most I've ever run is 210+ miles in August 2010 as I prepared for the Chicago Marathon.

I've come close to this mark two other months this year, both while doing the half-marathon training schedule -- 178.41 miles in February and 170.6 miles in March.

Time: 6:42 a.m.
Temp: 68 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Eastside Beltline 10K), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 2,768: A 58-degree run!

Normally a 1-mile run is nothing to write about, but today it was unseasonably cool -- 58 degrees. Today's weather actually broke a record that was set in 1936.

I would have liked to have used this day for a much harder workout but this was the off-day for my marathon schedule and thus a day I'll typically only run a mile to maintain the streak.

It felt cold on the top of my head as I did the out-and-back route. It also reminded me that the temperatures will be cool enough, soon enough.

Time: 7:05 a.m.
Temp: 58 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Father's Day 4-Miler, blue), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 2,767: 4 x .75-mile intervals

Today came around as a gift -- unseasonably cool at 66 degrees in the morning. Knowing this and knowing my run would not be more than 6 miles today, I went light and ditched the water bottle that has been habitually around my waist.

I wasn't sure how three-quarter-mile intervals would be but I imagined they wouldn't be too much worse than last week's .6-mile workout. I ran my obligatory warm-up mile to the park and then set off at my 5K race pace.

... or better.

The four splits were some of the fastest that I've run -- 7:30/7:18/7:10 and 7:03. I felt like I was running fast but also kind of dialing it in, that I could run even faster if I wanted/needed to.

These kinds of times make me want to run in a 5K race but I'm committed to sticking with my plan of no other races until the Oct. 26 Marine Corps Marathon.

Time: 6:38 a.m.
Temp: 66 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (MCM in training '14), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 2,765: 12-mile run

This was my longest run since the March 23 Publix Georgia Half Marathon. Going into it, I wasn't very worried about it, although I thought the temperature might be a little daunting.

The schedule called for me to run it at about a 9:30/mile pace, which probably should be no sweat for me, although I don't think I've ever done a long run to pace before.

I started out doing the last part of the Publix half marathon course. At about mile 5.25 I drank a bunch of the water that I carried and I had to decide whether I would run the way I came -- or set out for more water.

I decided on the latter and continued on the race course to Piedmont Avenue, where I finally did get some water at the grocery store at the North Avenue intersection.

With a full bottle, I decided to just run up the length of the avenue past the park. At Monroe Avenue, I jumped into the new Piedmont Commons part of the park and then, knowing exactly the distance I would need since I run in the park so much, tailored the run to mark 12 miles.

I felt pretty good about this run. I made pace in nine of the 12 miles so I feel like the run was moderately successful.

Time: 7:19 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (2014 Publix Half Marathon in training), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Day 2,759: 5 x .6 mile intervals (1/4 mile recovery)

Because of scheduling I switched today's easy 6-mile run for Tuesday's intervals. I felt pretty good about doing so, since the weekend's back-to-back 8-mile runs felt okay and I was ready for a challenge.

So I made my way to Piedmont Park hoping to avoid the rain and right away it felt great to be back on the home training field.

I ran my intervals around the pond area of the park and I kind of felt like last week in Bethesda, like I was trying hard but probably not really getting under 8-minute miles.

But when I looked at the data, I ran faster than 7:35/mile for all of my intervals! It goes to show I haven't gotten down that 5K race pace yet and it is regrettable I didn't run slower at the desired 7:43/mile pace. Two intervals were 7:17/mile and 7:19/mile, which I feel is pretty telling of my overall fitness.

Time: 8:35 a.m.
Temp: 73 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Doug Kessler 10K), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day 2,755: A gift from the weather

Amid this summer's crazy heat came a gift today of very cool weather. Most days I can expect temperatures at the crack of dawn to be about 71 degrees. Today it was 10 degrees cooler.

After running for the last five days in my Skechers Go Run 2 shoes (they are great for travel because they are so light) I went back to my Nike Air Pegasus 31s for my 6-mile tempo run. From the start they felt very comfortable.

Most mornings I don't have a lot of wiggle room (or patience) so I've kept my warm-up and cool down runs to the minimum distance of 1 mile. I think it shows in my data, since I've noticed that even in my 6-mile regular routes, I don't feel totally warmed up or pick up speed until after about 3 miles.

But these training sessions are good practice because when marathon day comes, there's no way I'm going to be running 3 miles before I run another 26.2.

Today I struggled to keep pace after the first mile of the tempo run. An 8:45/mile pace in a race for me is almost effortless -- it is running without struggling. In miles 2 and 3 I really struggled to find this pace and after that, it was extremely easy to run at my marathon race pace. I left this workout really unsure what the difference is between an 8:45/mile pace and one above 9:00/mile.

I think there were some benefits -- at the end of the eight total miles I felt pretty refreshed and ready to tackle more. I didn't because there will be plenty of extra mileage soon enough.

Time: 6:31 a.m.
Temp: 61 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Beltline Southwest 5K), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 2,753: 6 x 1/2 mile intervals (1/4 mile recovery)

BETHESDA, Md. -- Man, I thought Atlanta was humid. The A-town has nothing on the D.C. area.

Today rolled around and it was time for six half-mile intervals with a quarter-mile recovery. Since I've stayed in this area a few times already, I knew where I would do the workout -- along the Georgetown Branch Trail.

There's about a mile stretch near the hotel, perfect for running up and down it. In September I ran along the trail to Rock Creek Park.

The trail in this section is dirt and gravel but running fast on it wasn't too bad since my shoes didn't move when I stepped on the gravel as it did on the track in Piedmont Park.

It didn't take too long before I was completely soaked. I felt like I had a decent pace but the data shows that all of my intervals were a little slower than last weeks and only four of the six were under 8 minutes. I'll just have to watch my pace next week.

Time: 6:05 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short, shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 2,749: 1,000 miles for the year

Today's 7.13-mile run put me over 1,000 miles for the year. It's the fastest that I've ever reached that milestone, doing so in 192 days for an average of 5.2 miles a day.

In contrast, last year, it took me until Thanksgiving Day to reach 1,000 miles. My previous record was on July 23, 2010, when I was also ramping up my mileage for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It took 204 days then to cross the 1K-mile line.

Obviously running 1,000 miles in a year does not finish any races for me. It gives me a good idea of where I am at in my fitness and my goals.

I have 181.46 miles to go before I cross 10,000 miles for my running streak. I'm thinking that will probably come sometime next month.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 2,748: Week 3: Training is easy

The good thing about having to run at a 7:43/mile pace two days before is that when you have to run an 8:46/mile pace, it feels pretty easy.

Even without a watch, I know that a sub-8 pace for me is when I lead the run with my knees on the stride. I get a minute slower pace with just a nudge of the knees.

This morning's 8-mile run involved my first tempo run in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon. The hard part was -- at what pace?

For a while now, the 9:09/mile pace has been the gold standard, since that is the pace that's required to break 4 hours in a marathon.

The only problem is that it's clearly apparent that I run much faster than that in training. My 7:43/mile pace in the speed workouts conforms to an 8:46/mile marathon pace.

So that's what I set to do for my 6-mile tempo run (includes a mile each warmup and cooldown). It felt really easy doing that after hard running during the speed session in Piedmont Park.

I knew there were spots, though, during the run in which I was running faster than that. I tried various methods to slow down but nothing really was too successful. Even my cooldown I wasn't able to really run any slower than a 9-minute-mile.

When I got home I saw that my pace stuck in the 8:37/mile range. It was an easy pace and one that I can consistently hit in a half-marathon. The question now is whether I tailor my training to try to go for that pace in the marathon or work a little slower with the thought of having a lot more energy at the end.

It's hard to tell how things will work out - what has worked out well through 13.1 miles may not work at all in the full 26.2. I'll have to just trust the training program, that the increased weekly mileage and workouts will bring the desired result at the end of the marathon.

Time: 6:49 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 2,746: 8 x .4 mile intervals (Week 3)

I thoroughly enjoyed last week's speed work session. This week, with the interval distance just .15 mile more, it felt like I struggled with the distance.

But when I came back and reviewed the data, all but one of the eight intervals were at my desired pace. The first one even was a little crazy -- a 6:52/mile pace!

Anyway, I dutifully came out to the park and ran to last week's spot behind the pond. For the second interval, I hopped up on the track and ran. 

I only did a few more intervals there since I didn't like how the loose gravel didn't give my feet a lot of traction and even a muscle behind my right knee felt sore while I ran on the track.

So for the last half I left the track and just continued to do my usual loop around the pond. I drank all of the water that I carried with me -- maybe 20 ounces or so -- and that's the first time I did that.

I felt like I survived this session but was happy to see consistency and speed on my side. 

Time: 6:53 a.m.
Temp: 71 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Mission Focus: 2014 Marine Corps Marathon training), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 2,742: My 10th Peachtree Road Race

There was a special reward for finishing this year's Peachtree Road Race -- completing it would mean I have done the race 10 times. That's the number you need to attain special "streaker" status that basically grants you guaranteed entry for life.

It also was special because I would be running wingman for my wife, who is 28 weeks pregnant. Both of us were unsure what that would mean for the race, whether we would be walking it, whether we would be running it, just that we would both be participating in one of Atlanta's most famous traditions.

After reading my account of last year's race in which leaving home at 6:20 a.m. meant we got to the starting corral just a minute before the race started, we left a little earlier, just after 6 a.m. We were lucky to catch a train at Midtown station without much waiting and also that it wasn't crowded at all.

This train led us to Buckhead station and while it is a little bit of a walk to get to the corral it wasn't bad. The staging area at Phipps Plaza is great because they have a ton of portapotties and not many people. You can even get a cup of water if you want it.

We started out at a pretty easy pace, there were lots of people sprinting by us. The weather was fortunately pretty cool and not too hot. I would say that we took it easy, but at one point I looked down at my watch and we were running at an 8:19/mile pace, just nine seconds above what our regular training pace was 5 years ago!

Going at an easy pace in a race has huge advantages. The huge Heartbreak hill and then the gradual rise from Spring to 14th Street seemed like nothing. I felt pretty good in my pace and mainly wanted to make sure that the wife was doing ok. It seemed like she was.

We finished the race just under 56 minutes, which is funny to me because I'm sure that there have been at least two times that I've run this race slower than that when I actually was trying to run fast. And I don't think the wife has run that distance since last year's race, when we ran it in 54 minutes.

After the race, we spent a little bit of time in the Atlanta Track Club member hospitality tent, which had almost anything you needed -- water, peaches just like out in the general area. Waffle House offered grits bowls that had cheese and sausage crumbles.

In the general area, they had the tried and true hits, Mellow Mushroom cheese pizza, bagels, bananas, packages of cereal bars and cookies. It seemed like there was a run on Diet Coke -- I had to walk all the way to the first bin and then had to scrounge around. A volunteer put a pink lemonade Powerade in my hands and I picked up a few other flavors for those hotter, longer runs later on this summer.

All in all, a great run and a confidence builder for my main goal this year -- the Oct. 26 Marine Corps Marathon.

Time: 7:34 a.m.
Temp: 66 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Publix Half Marathon in Training 2014), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 30/A.