In limbo

This week and next are nothing but difficult when it comes to running. Personally and professionally, there is a lot going on. While I have plenty of time to run, it's hard to focus on it. For a very short time, I'm staying with my sister, so this week I've been familiarizing myself with a new neighborhood to run in. While I will miss the benefit of Lynchburg's steep hills, I already realize that Richmond has some good hills to run on.

After next week I'll once again have a new neighborhood to adjust to. Despite the stress of a new job and moving, from a running standpoint this is great, as long as I get up and do it. For a couple of weeks I have to run in one neighborhood, while this weekend I'll get one last long run in Lynchburg. Then I'll have my neighborhood to discover on foot ... before I know it, it'll be October and the Richmond Marathon will be a month away. I am hoping that I can incorporate some of the marathon path on a couple of my long runs. I like running in new places, and quite honestly I was getting tired of seeing the same things every morning.

100 hot and sweaty miles

With my run this morning before my new job began, I edged over the 100-mile mark for August (and there's four days to go). I feel like this month has been full of many struggles and many accomplishments, not much in between. I guess, quite simply, I'm ready for more fall-like weather to get here.

14 miles, and in need of a change of tunes

I have mixed feelings about being in that "longest run ever" portion of my marathon training, at least when the weather is like it is. My 14-mile run today was OK ... this heat and humidity on the other hand are tough to deal with. I ran on the shaded, relatively flat Blackwater Creek Trail today, mixing in two miles on two different hilly extensions of it. The first 10 miles were the best; the next three I could feel the heat of the morning kicking in; and the last mile felt nearly worthless, but I was also going beyond anything what my body had ever done before, with a nice layer of humidity on top.

I learned some good lessons today - it's nice to have a route that includes good spots for a pee break; I need to take an energy gel with me; 7 a.m. for a long run is about an hour too late when the heat and humidity are this high; and it's time to reshuffle my iPod shuffle.

It was nice to cross that half marathon barrier despite the weather. Today's run helps put the Richmond Marathon into better perspective and what it may be like. I know there's a long way to go and many more longer runs than 14 miles, but mentally this helps me see the challenges ahead of me. From here on out, it's all about taking my body to places it's never been before, and my mind needs to tag along for the journey.

Farewell to the Hill City group runs

Yesterday was my last group run in Lynchburg, and it was a very interesting mix of track, a hill and "conversation" pace running. It sounds confusing, but actually running it makes perfect sense: After a good warmup and some ins and outs on the track, we ran a fast 800 with a 400 recovery, then jogged over to a nearby hill. We ran the hill hard. The hill led to the other side of the track. Once we got to the track, we jogged to the start line and ran 1,200 meters. Then we repeated the hill workout. Once back on the track, we ran 1,600 meters. Then we repeated the hill and finished with a mile or so cool down. The hill wasn't too steep, but it was quite long. The weather was OK. While it was cool, the humidity was horrible.

Times are the track were: 800 - 3:23; 1,200 - 5:21; and 1,600 - 7:27. Total mileage for the day was 6.8 miles. It was a great workout overall and by the end of the cool down, we were all very happy the workout was over. Just about everyone in the group had ran the half marathon on Saturday, so we were quite worn out.

Today was a much needed rest day from running. Tomorrow I plan 3 or 4 miles and Saturday's goal is 14 miles (my longest ever), which will put me over 30 for the week. Next week I'll be in Richmond, not fully moved, but my plan is to just go with the flow. If I find that I need to move a run to the evening I will. I'll be back in Lynchburg next weekend and will have one final long run here before the big move. The two weekends after that are going to be busy, but I'm planning to maintain the long runs between 14 and 16 miles no matter what happens. I've basically told myself I can miss one long run that'll be traded for the major move-in day. More on that later. I don't know how much time I'll have to blog over the next few weeks, but have no fear, by the end of September things in the online world should be back to normal.

Time just keeps on ticking

Seems like only yesterday I was writing about how there were 100 days until the Richmond Marathon. Now that countdown says 80 days and numerous hours to go. It seems like only yesterday I signed up for this thing. Now it's time to start thinking about my goals beyond just finishing the race and thinking about how to fit in my long runs as I get a new job and move to a new city. I have this feeling that time will continue to fly by ...

A letter to Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,
Please make up your mind. Earlier this week, temperatures were nice in the mid-60s with no humidity. But just a week before, it was already 75 degrees at 7 a.m. with very high humidity. Walking outside was like taking a shower. This week you had a dry heat, which was a nice change. Then you through us runners a curve ball at the end of the week with it being very hot and humid. Then yesterday was perfect; today, not so much.

I know that fall will be here in about a month, and cooler temperatures will arrive and stay here. But please, don't throw us an 80-degree day on Nov. 10. Last year you were cruel to the Richmond Marathoners. This year, I beg you, be nice. Be cloudy with temperatures in the 60s. And for the rest of this summer, just be consistent. That's all I ask.

A crazy runner

13.1 ... the next day

When I went to bed last night, I thought I would wake up and have that usual race pain. But I didn't. While I was a bit sore, I could walk normally and nothing unusual hurt. My knees, which I am most concerned with, were fine. I originally had planned to take an easy 2 or 3 mile jog, but instead went for a nice long walk with my wife and dog. By the end of the walk, whatever soreness I had was gone. By not running today, I once again fell just short of 30 miles for the week, but yesterday's run makes me feel great about where things stand right now.

Next week will be a bit complicated as my move to Richmond gains speed and the following week my new job begins. Things personally are going well and by mid-September I will be living in a great neighborhood to run in, with easy access to more neighborhoods and a great park. Moving will offer some good cross training, but what's important is to make sure I still find time to run and avoid eating badly. It's already been hard with people wanting to go out to lunch or dinner every day before we leave town, but I'm doing OK. I manage to avoid french fries no matter what.

I swear, I wasn't racing

What a great day to run - morning temperatures in the 60s, relatively low humidity. You couldn't ask for better weather in mid-August to go for a long run, or attend a race that I wasn't going to run hard.

My goal for today's Lynchburg Half Marathon was to finish around what I did last year - 1:55.19, an 8:49 pace. I've already written about this being an excellent training run - go out with ease and not push myself too much. But a lot has changed in a year and I realize that even more today. My time today was 1:46.53, an 8:10 pace. I didn't feel like I went out and ran it hard - I just did what felt comfortable. And "comfortable" has a different meaning in 2007 than in 2006. As a bonus, I hooked up about 3 miles in with a guy I went to high school with, and we talked quite a bit for about 5 miles after that. Then, without saying anything, we just sort of alternated who was in front of the other. And all this time I really didn't feel like I was pushing myself too hard. Our mile times got better as we went along and hit about a 7:30 pace the last 5K. (My actual mileage times were: 8:34, 8:45, 8:25, 8:30, 8:24, 8:22, 8:10, 8:26, 8:21, 7:53, 7:37, 7:36, and 7:46 for the last 1.1) The course was relatively flat with some hidden inclines along the way.

A year ago when I finished this race, I felt beat up and questioned why I ran so long when I was only training for a 10 miler that was more than a month away. It was the beginning of my knee problems. Today, though, I actually did a cool down jog about a quarter mile to my car so I could get into dry clothes. And, now, 4 hours later, my legs feel great.

I feel great about going out there and beating last year's time by nearly 9 minutes, and finishing less than 3 minutes from my PR at the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. But my point in running today's race was to get in a solid training run for the Richmond Marathon, and I did that. The rest of my week didn't go as planned at all, but I'll take ending the week like this.

And lastly, I must give a shout out to two of my soon-to-be former co-workers. There was also a 5K as part of today's race, which they ran. Jill finished third in her age group and a minute and a half faster than last year's race. And Sarah ran her first Lynchburg road race and didn't finish DFL. Good job to you both. I'd like to give a shout out to my wife as well. She volunteered today handing out water.


Even though I've hit double digits in two of the past three weeks for my long runs, there's something special about the teens. I've often been told if you can do a half marathon, you can do a full. While tomorrow's Lynchburg Half Marathon is being treated as a training run and not a race (yes, I keep telling myself that), I'll be hitting that mark of "longest run ever."

Doing a half marathon now at a slightly faster than usual pace feels right as I transition into distances I've never done before. And it'll keep my confidence boosted as I change cities. This could very well be my last long run in Lynchburg, Va., unless I do the 10 miler in future years. So this run will be a farewell of sorts to the Blackwater Creek Bikepath. Although I don't run on it much, I'll miss it ... but I know Richmond is going to have so much more to offer.

Here's to wishing myself luck in my non-race half marathon. And I'll continue to swear I'm not shooting for a PR.

Morning fog in my head

There are lots of reasons to be tired today - from traveling to and from Ohio to a crazy night at a wedding to packing up for my move to Richmond and the stress that it brings. When I got up for my group run this morning, I just couldn't go. It's hard to describe really - my head felt a bit foggy. My body just said "No." So I slept for a couple more hours, then took my dog out for a long walk and a short jog. It's nowhere near what I planned on doing, but it felt good to at least get outside for 30 minutes.

I'm not too worried about missing the group run since I'll be running with a large group in Saturday's half marathon. And I'm not worried about making up the miles - I'll simply adjust my planned days off. I've realized in the past few hours that I have let myself get a bit dehydrated and that my body needs to catch up before heading out for another run. Traveling has a way of doing that to you, as does doing all these things I'm not used to. Mark it down as a lesson learned fortunately before my mileage gets too much higher.

Catching up

These past two weeks have been interesting running weeks. From it being dangerously hot to missing a long run and altering a recovery week to traveling to Ohio again to getting cross training in by foolishly dancing, all in all it hasn't been too bad. I managed to get my mileage in the low 20s last week despite being out of town for four days and am once again focusing on hitting 30 or more this week. Missing my long run a week ago still did some great things for me. My group run on Wednesday was 5+ miles of hill repeats and I kept thinking, "Would I be doing this if I ran 10 miles a few days before?" I felt great doing those hill repeats and felt the strongest I've felt in a while, all thanks to a couple of days rest. I no longer feel like I missed a crucial moment in my marathon training and I'm glad I didn't force myself to make up anything.

If all goes as planned this week, I'll be running a half marathon on Saturday more so to do a long run with a group. It'll give me a chance to run a longer distance a little harder than usual, but not go all out. I'm not training for a half marathon, so I'm not setting a goal for this race. The best think to do is to just keep telling myself this is my long run and not a race. I'm doing this for the free moisture wicking shirt ... not to race. I'm not tapering this week just to run harder on Saturday. I want to be able to walk comfortably the next day and not have the post-race soreness. I want Monday to be a normal running day for me.

Distance + speed = a great run

Running when not at home is always tough, but today I managed a good 11 mile run in the flatness of northeast Ohio. On top of that, I added some speed bursts in between mile 5 and 6 (7:39), between miles 8 and 9 (7:41) and the last quarter mile (1:49/7:15 pace). I've been hearing a lot lately how beneficial it is to add speed into longer runs and it really felt great today. Plus the weather was finally cooperative with temperatures in the low 70s and very cloudy. All my other miles were in the 9-minute mile pace. Adding the faster miles really made this workout a lot less boring than other long runs - it helped get my mind off everything that's being going on in my life.

I'll probably log a few miles in the morning. Since I have a wedding to go to later in the day, it'll make me not feel so bad about having some good food and drink later in the day.

It's insanely uncomfortable out there

When it's already 75 degrees and humidity near 70 percent at 7 a.m., the last thing anyone wants to do is run. But run is what I did this morning, and I'm pretty much left speechless with how awful this weather is.

Normally, I don't worry about having fluids with me until I hit the double digits. This morning, fortunately, I took my fuel belt with me knowing that I'd want at least a little bit to drink. By mile 4 of my 5 mile run, all of it was gone and I was left wanting more. It's weather like this that makes me appreciate the freezing cold of winter. In the winter, you can warm up a little bit; in the summer, you only get hotter as the run goes along. The only thing that can save you in the summer is a breeze, which doesn't seem to exist these days. In the winter, you can warm up and shed layers as you go along.

This all being said, today's run wasn't too bad except for the ton of sweat pouring off me. Taking a couple of days off from running was just what I needed. And last night ended up being a decent cross training day as I lifted weights, scrambled to clean the house to have it shown and then mowed the yard as darkness fell. Next up is a group run and then my trip to Ohio...

I needed some rest

What to you do when you just really want a break? I've never been one to force myself to run - that's how injuries happen. This week was a planned recovery week, but I'm rethinking that after these past two days. Yesterday I went to Richmond and my plan was to get back early enough in the evening to do my long run then, thus giving myself a nice 36 hour break after Saturday's 5K. Well, I ended up not getting back until 9 p.m., and I was exhausted. Then this morning I slept in until about 7:30 and I really didn't feel like running.

So, here's my plan. Instead of trying to make up my long run, I basically feel that these two days have been good in letting my body do what it obviously wants to do - take a brief break from running. I'll probably do some weights with my upper body tonight, tomorrow will be a 5-6 mile run, Wednesday will be a group run, Thursday will be a "rest" day, although I'll be at Cedar Point in Ohio and Friday will be my long run in the flatness of Ohio. Saturday may be a short run, but I have a wedding to go to in the afternoon - that's why I'm moving my long run to Friday. This is sort of like missing a dose of medicine - you have to get back on track if you forget to take it a couple of days. If I pushed my long run tomorrow, I wouldn't want to do a speed workout Wednesday. I'm just all thrown off and I think it's best to not force anything. As valuable as the long runs are, I really needed some rest.

This all being said, week 3 of my training went pretty well. I logged about 20 miles and would have been at 30 with my long run. This week, week 4, will probably be in the low to mid 20s, so all in all this should work out well.

My unexpected fastest 5K

I pretty much got talked into running a 5K this morning and I'm so glad I did. Despite the heat and humidity and being unfamiliar with the course, I once again posted a personal best at 22:42, a 7:19 pace. I beat my previous 5K best from June by 21 seconds. The course, which was described on the brochure as "relatively flat," was one of the hillier courses I've ran. Rolling hills would've been a better description. The first mile wasn't too bad since it was mostly downhill. My first mile was 6:30, which seemed way too fast. I slowed down between miles 1 and 2 so I could save something for the end, and because of the hills involved. The last mile was brutal and seemed so slow, so I was more than pleased when I got near the finish line and realized I'd finally have a sub 23-minute 5K. (Click here for the results.)

The thing that made today so different is that I forgot my GPS watch. And I also forgot my sunglasses, which have been part of me the last few races. So I was completely off my normal race day routine, but in the end I'm so glad I didn't have a watch on me. Like a run several weeks ago, I felt free and I didn't feel obligated to try and stick to a certain pace. I just went for it.

To add even more excitement, I "won" my age group ... but I happened to be the only runner in the field of about 85 in the 25-29 age bracket. Had it been 20-29, I still would've won my age group.

So all in all, I'm glad I was convinced to run today. I missed my speed/endurance group run this week, so this definitely made up for it. I'm still planning to get my long run in tomorrow, but may cut back a bit if this blistering heat continues.

I'd also like to give a shout out to Jill, my future ex-co-worker who talked me into doing this race. It's been great doing this races with you, and don't worry, I'll come back for some of these. Another co-worker would get a shout out, but she failed to show up ... just like she did for the Academy Mile.

Ready for my recovery week

Before last summer, I had never "trained" for a race. With the exception of high school, I had never ran more than 5 or 6 miles in any given day. So when I joined a training group last year and started upping my miles, I thought it was crazy to have a week every three or four weeks in which overall time running or mileage would decrease. I had never heard of such a thing. I thought running was all about pushing yourself all the time. But I quickly realized that easing back after three weeks or so of continuous building was extremely important.

This past winter when I trained for the Virginia Beach Shamrock Half Marathon, I realized even more how important it was to have a recovery week built in. With the cold mornings, it wasn't hard for me to ease back every so often. The same can be said the week or so before when you should taper by cutting back even more. Again, a year ago at this time, I thought that logging only a fraction of the miles I was used to running during the week of a race would hurt. Little did I realize how much it helps. Race day last year for the Virginia 10 Miler went so much better than I expected, as did my half marathon in March.

This all leads me to next week, my fourth official week of training for the Richmond Marathon. A year ago, I would've said, let's keep pushing it. But after three consecutive weeks of building my mileage, including most likely surpassing 30 this week, I can tell my body needs to cut back a bit. I don't feel overwhelmed or exhausted ... I just need fewer miles for a week. That's why I'm now thankful for recovery weeks and am so glad that every training schedule I've looked at or asked for includes them.

So, what does this mean? For me, it's not a matter of running fewer days, it's just cutting back my mileage on days I run. For example, a planned run of 4-5 miles will be 2-3. My long run goal, at least for this recovery week, will still be 11 miles - the same as this week.

For more on recovery weeks, click here. Coach Joe can explain the importance of it better than I can. Coach Dean also offers a good explanation of when it's a good time to take a break. Click here for that post.

100 days and counting

When I first created a countdown clock for the Richmond Marathon on my Google homepage, I had 250-plus days to go. That seemed like forever. Before I realized it, there were 200 days to go ... then 175 ... then 150. Today, that clock is at 100 days to go. That's just a little more than a quarter of this year to go before my first marathon. Nervous? Excited? I think I'm feeling a little of both. A lot can happen in 100 days and it's my goal to make these next 100 days the best running days of my life ...