Friday, December 28, 2007

podrunner: fixed-tempo music podcasts

Thanks to Neil, I got turned on to the PodRunner web site where I download an hour-long music podcast I can run to.

DJ Steveboy serves up a great set of fixed-beats-per-minute tunes described as "a smooth, driving mix that intensifies over the hour with a classic late-90s trance and progressive-house sound that doesn't let up until around minute 50."

It's the perfect acoustical distraction for me while I'm putting in the miles on the pavement, especially when I'm doing intervals on the local high school track.

And DJ Steveboy just announced that starting in February 2008, he'll be releasing Podrunner: Intervals designed as a soundtrack to help train for distances from 5K to half-marathons. From his latest newsletter:
Podrunner:Intervals is a new podcast of varied-BPM music mixes for interval training. "First Day to 5K," the first 14 mixes, take you from absolute beginner to 5K runner in nine weeks! P:I will feature sets for beginning, intermediate, and experienced levels, as well as sets for 10K and half-marathon training

Can't wait for these varied-BPM mixes... by then I'll be five weeks into my training schedule for the ICE Breaker tri.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

favorite part of nike+ experience

I've had the nike+ipod setup for six weeks now, and I'm just beginning to realize the possibilities of the marriage between the iPod sensor and the online tool:
  • Run Diagnostics: For each run I've logged, I get to see how my pace changes over the course of the run (slower as it gets longer, of course). On my quick 2-mile loops, I can see my progress at getting faster running up the steep hill that comes at the 0.6 mile marker. I'll reduce that "V" to a minor divot by the end of February if it kills me!
  • "Compare to Best": An off-shoot of the diagnostics bit, this allows me to plot my fastest run against the current run to see where/when I ran faster/slower so I can work on consistently improving my pace.
  • Challenges: I've set up my first challenge on the web site (40 miles in 4 weeks) and it'll track how far ahead/behind I am in reaching that goal as a stark reminder to get out and put in my miles.
Still a mystery to me: In the diagnostics, I'd expect my fartleks to be more pronounced on the pace curve. Either I'm really not going any faster than I think I am, or the length of the dash is too small compared to the overall run. I'll spend time this coming month figuring that thing out.

Oh, and one annoyance I've experienced so far: my Nano completely drained while I was out of the country on travel, so my first run back was logged out-of-sequence (as happening January 4, 2000) instead of December 16 as it should have. Gotta remember to sync the nano to my mac next time it drains completely so I can reset the date.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happiness is: donating oversized clothes

This past weekend I finally ventured to Macy's to buy some new pants. Why's this news? My collection of 36-inch sized pants are now too big.

This means since I first started exercising last July, I've dropped from a 38-inch waist to a 34-inch waist in pant size.


I took seven pairs of dress slacks and a half dozen pairs of jeans to Salvation Army on Monday and practically skipped back to the office in delight.

As my Neil would say, "You never get tired of giving away too-big clothes."

Amen, brother.

Monday, November 26, 2007

10K trot times are up

The fastest trotter completed the race in 33:17.

I missed finishing in the top 1000 runners by 13 seconds.

Official results: I came in 1015th place (of 1445 runners) at 1:03:48 for an average of 10:16/M

In my age bracket (M 30-39) I was 184th of 224, yet I take solace in the fact that the fastest in my age group came in second overall at 35:01.

Kinda bummed that my time was well over an hour and my pace was so far above 10:00/M, but it provides a good starting point to build from. I'm not in it to win, I'm in it to have fun. But I'm still planning to break the 50th percentile next time.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Trot completed

Not feeling too many ill effects from running the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot yesterday... sure, my legs are sore (I could have stretched more post-race), but in all, I'm feeling pretty good about the run.

Woke up barely able to breathe through my nose thanks to the lingering cold, but I popped a dose of DayQuil and had my oatmeal, coffee and oj before leaving the house at 7:15am to drive down to San Jose. On the way down (taking I-280), my car's outdoor thermometer clocked a low of 35 degrees in the hills above Stanford. And when I pulled into the parking lot at the HP Pavilion, it was up to 47 degrees. I was very glad to have my long-sleeve shirt on for the 10K run.

The layout of the race area was pretty straight-forward and while picking up my racing chip, I ran into my (old friend) Thom and (new friend) Neil. Looking around, I could see a lot of folks that obviously were here for the 5K walk and not the 10K run. Both events started at the same time from the same place, and I think I'd encourage the organizers to re-think this in the future (more on this later).

Thom and Neil and I swapped race stories (they did most of the talking) until about 20 minutes to go and then I ditched my sweatshirt at the sweats check and went to line up in the 8-9 minute-miler section of the staging area. While waiting, I amused myself watching all these folks with strollers trying to push their way through to the back of the pack. There just wasn't any room for them to get through, and I should have taken this as a sign there'd be a bunch of folks stacked up behind them deciding to just launch from where they stood at the front of the pack. But I ignored this and stayed put by the 8-9 sign.

Big mistake.

When the gun finally went off there was a surge to take a quick first step, and then we walked up to the starting line and began the mad scramble to dart around the walkers. Seems the 5K folks were more than content to walk three- and four-abreast down the race course gabbing away while the runners desperately tried to navigate around them.

And the darting around continued for the first mile-and-a-half until we hit the 5K turnaround point where it culminated in a U-turn for the mostly clueless folks in front while the 10Kers continued straight. More than one 5Ker darted right in front of me from my right to my left without looking and I almost tripped over one kid but kept my balance and kept going. I was lucky, as I heard the thump of bodies colliding and the scraping of knees as kept running out on the course.

Neil did the favor of mapping the course (see below), and if he'd plotted the 5K turnaround it'd be just about where the "Pkwy" is in Guadalupe Parkway.

So, the ran continued, and I was thankful for the double-back sections as it kept me running instead of walking if only for the pride of not letting Thom or Neil see me walk on the course. I shouted out to them as they passed me (ahead and going in the opposite direction) and they finished about 12 minutes ahead of me... final times TBD.

The 5Kers came back to haunt us again after the 5 mile mark, as we shared courses from there to the finish, and the 5Kers still on the course were the slowest and the least concerned with folks trying to get by them on the somewhat narrow one lane of road allotted to us. Turns out I didn't get it nearly as bad as Neil and Thom who were darting through the thickest parts of the 5K crew as they finished.

I sprinted out the last 200 meters and caught up with some folks I'd been pacing all along, and within 15 minutes of finishing I was feeling good. The endorphine rush was in full swing, and I'd notched my second 10K race in 8 years and am one step closer. The Mercury News was documenting the race and you can go see their pix here.

Goals for the next 10K:
  • better position myself in the starting area
  • run the whole way (even at the water break areas)
  • finish without blisters (got a nasty one on my right instep)
  • finish under 53 minutes

The next local 10K looks to be in January, so I've got some time to train for it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

illing before the run

I'm 36 hours away from the 10k, and I'm finally shoing the symptoms of the cold my daughters were fighting late last week and over the weekend.


Even though I don't feel bad enough to consider not racing (yet), I'm hoping this stuffy-headache-tired-drained feeling goes away tomorrow.

Gotta love the timing on this thing.

Monday, November 19, 2007

four days to the 10k

Can it really be this week already? Oh yeah, that's why I signed up for the 10k, because time has a way of slipping on by if you're not careful.

So, in order to register to run in Thursday's Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, I had to join the web site. Nice that sent me a reminder this morning with all the event details inside. They even included a handy "don't forget" list with the essentials:
  • sunglasses
  • hat
  • sunscreen
  • safety ID tag (like the RoadID)
  • post-event snack
  • plenty of can-do attitude
Can-do attitude, indeed! I got my race packet including my runner's bib in the mail over the weekend, and I can feel the excitement coming on.

It's been seven and a half years since my last 10k when I ran the 2000 Rockville Pike's Peek in 52 minutes.  I'm looking forward to getting this next one out of the way to see how far I've yet to go in terms of performance.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

calorie counter for fast food joints

If I still ate at Fast Food joints, I'd find this calorie counter page an invaluable resource.

Since I gave up Fast Food (In-n-Out Burger notwithstanding) as a New Year's resolution in 2004, it's not of much use for me now other than to remind me why I need to stick to my resolution.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sunday morning 5 mile run

I decided to make the most of my extra hour today by taking a run on the Sawyer Camp Trail, a great paved trail that follows the shore of the Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo County. As a family, we've been on the trail several times to go bike riding, so I knew what I was getting into by running it this morning, and I knew I needed to go early to avoid the crowds.

So, by 7am, I'd parked the car at the trailhead, slipped on my Sennheiser PMX70 headphones, fired up my iPod and started running.

Not too many folks running at that hour, and by the time I made it to the 2.5 mile marker (my turnaround point), I'd only overtaken a handful of walkers/slow joggers and passed about a dozen folks running the other direction. At the 4 mile mark, the crowds were picking up and as I finished my 5-mile run, I saw that the Dolphin South End Runners were setting up their 5K/10K race that was to start at 9am. Whew, a stroke of dumb luck to miss that one!

Highlights of the run?
  • watching the mist rise off the reservoir in the low-angle sunlight
  • nice shuffle of music on my iPod (I'd added a bunch of songs from the collection the day before) that matched the pace and scenery perfectly
  • not too many bicycle riders on the trail, so no near-misses as they rocket by
Lowlights of the run?
  • residual GI turmoil from last night's Indian takeout (luckily no mid-run interruptions, tho). Glad I didn't let this condition stop me from running, tho.
  • a blister on the arch of my left foot that I think is because of my socks, but also because my shoes are still new. Will get some good socks before the next run.
  • annoying nipple-chafe. It was just cool enough this morning to make this a problem. Gotta remember to bring bandaids/tape next time
Oh, and on the drive home, I watched as a speeding convertible Mustang got caught by a cop in the exact same speed trap that caught me six months ago (I'm a reformed speeder now). I'll save my need for speed for running and biking and swimming, thanks.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

my 10K is just three weeks away

Gulp! 21 days to the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot on November 22.

Even now, referencing Runner's World's Four-Week/Five Days Per schedule, I'm way behind in training. But this is exactly why I signed up for the race: to keep me moving.

My saving grace? I'm not worried about finishing. I just wonder how this one will compare to my only previous 10K that I ran seven years ago in 52 minutes.

Time to get running, thank goodness Daylight Savings is this weekend so it'll be easier to get up early.

Oh, and I hit a weight loss milestone today: I've weighed in every morning for the last week at less than 200 pounds. Context? I haven't weighed this little for this long since 2002.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

must see: NOVA's Marathon Challenge

Just after tonight's earthquake (5.6 near San Jose, yes we're fine) I happened to catch NOVA: Marathon Challenge on our local PBS station tonight, and it was fifty minutes of television watching well spent.

The gist of the challenge: take a dozen folks who'd otherwise belong on the sidelines of the Boston Marathon cheering the racers and put these sedentary folks through a forty week training course so they could actually finish the very same Boston Marathon they'd only been able to watch the year before.

Given the body types and fitness levels across the dozen participants, I found the program fascinating viewing if only to be able to see the transformation these folks went through on their way to running 26 miles. NOVA did a great job of mixing human interest with medical observation and the physiological explanation of the events.

Nice to see WGBH has posted the training calendar for the group, and they've also listed ten tips for novice runners which I think is smart preventative programming given just how inspirational some of the participant's completing the marathon.

Completing a marathon is still on my "list," but I'm focused on completing at least an Olympic distance triathlon first.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I've done my first brick

Brick workout, that is...

This afternoon I did my first back-to-back bike/run workout. Not a whole lot to it beyond 40 minutes on the bike followed by 25 minutes running with about a five minute transition in between (changing, helping the girls with their bikes, etc).

What I noticed most about the brick was how much my glutes were tired from the half-hour of climbing on the bike I'd just done. That, and my calf tightening up on me in the first five minutes of the run.

But, I didn't fall/fail on the run, which was my biggest concern in this first brick.

Now that I've survived, it's time to start training for faster times!

time for new running shoes

As I was attaching my Nike +iPod Sport Kit to my running shoes this week, I couldn't help but notice how beat up my shoes are. And now that I think about it, my shoes (Saucony Grid Stabil) are at least three years old and they've seen better days.

All the advice I've read about getting started training for triathlons has emphasized getting the right shoes is one of the most, if not the most, important things you can do to prevent injury while training. Given the running segment is the most punishing segment of the triathlon, this does make sense.

So it's time to get new shoes, but the question is, what brand? what kind? (what color?)

Luckily, I remembered driving by a Roadrunner Sports store here in San Carlos, so I'll be going in today to get fitted for shoes. Given my low arch and over-pronation, I already know I need a motion control model. I was warned by the Roadrunner staff to expect to take 30 minutes to get fitted properly, so I'll go when the store opens.

Look for a follow up post detailing my experience there. From the Yelp reviews, it looks like it's going to be a great experience.

UPDATE: I'm so glad I went to Roadrunner Sports today. I was helped by Kim who guided me through their free fitting process, and it's quite the process.

I wore my old Saucony shoes to the store, as I'd been asked to, and the fitting process started out with my taking off shoes and socks and rolling up my pant legs to expose my ankles and lower calves. Kim took a look at my old shoes' tread wear, and I was glad to see the wear was normal, so I don't have really bad habits that are causing odd wear on my shoes.

First up: The "Perfect Fit Scan" which began with my walking across their pressure mat to get a reading on my foot strike. On the resulting digital footprint image, Kim pointed out what I already knew: I have flat arches. But she also was able to show me where the hardest pressure
hit the bottom of my foot (just behind my big toe on either foot) and showed where my toe-off position was (the last part of my foot to leave the ground when walking forward).

Next up: "The Treadmill Analysis" wherein I ran on a treadmill in bare feet and they videotaped my footstrike from behind. Once she'd captured about 30 seconds of my run on video, Kim was able to play back, in slo mo, what happens to my feet and ankles when I run. WOW, no wonder I can't run barefooted for too long. It was easy to see my arch collapse with each strike and my ankle bend inward as a result. Then, when my foot lifted off the treadmill, it'd swing out. Quite fascinating to watch the mechanics of the run, and informative as to what to do next.

Last check: "Sizing and Visual Check" where Kim measured my feet in the regular sizing tool and, again, I was shown that my left foot is half a size bigger than my right (10.5 v 10). What surprised me was Kim's telling me I should buy a shoe a half size bigger than my biggest foot to allow for swelling during exercise (in hindsight: duh?), but that meant my "True Foot Size & Width" is an 11 D.

All the fitting inputs confirmed what I knew coming in: I needed a motion control shoe. And Kim brought out three models for me to try: Saucony Grid Stabil (my go-to brand for the last seven years), Brooks Addition 7 and Asics Gel Evolution 3.

I got a chance to try all three shoes on the tread mill, and Kim filmed me while I was running in each so I got a chance to visibly see how the shoes rectified my over-pronating and supported my ankles.

Even though there was no pressure to buy (I felt like I could've walked out of the store at that point and bought the shoes elsewhere), I wound up walking out of the store with a size 11.5 pair of the Asics (a full size bigger than the Sauconys I walked in with).

And I ran in my Asics this afternoon as the second leg of my brick. Wow, what a difference a great shoe makes. And as a bonus: I can take up to 60 days to return this pair of shoes for a replacement pair should they suddenly become less comfortable.

Thanks to Kim and Roadrunner Sports for getting me in such a great pair of shoes. I highly recommend you visit Roadrunner Sports to get your free fitting.

Monday, October 22, 2007

picking my power song

To help combat the monotony of running, I ordered a Nike +iPod Sport Kit from Amazon last week.

And now that I've got the little music-inspired-gogo-gadget, I'm asked to select, out of the 10,000 songs in my iTunes library, the one song that'll push me harder should I find my resolve beginning to fail mid-run.

Talk about a desert-island-disc challenge. How the heck do I pick just one?

For now, I've picked Are You With Me? by Vaux. It was a recent Single of the Week on iTunes, so it's top-of-mind for me although I'm sure there are other songs that'd push me just the same (in fact, Bodysnatchers by Radiohead off the recently released In Rainbows is another up-tempo song worthy of "power song" status).

I imagine the shelf life of any given Power Song is finite, so I'll likely change it often. If it's worth tracking, I'll add a Current Power Song widget to the side of my blog to display it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nursing injuries from my Mt Whitney climb

While the race is still six months away, I'm nursing a couple injuries from my recent climb of Mt Whitney.

First, and most troublesome, is the plantar fasciitis I've got in both feet. I guess the 24 miles of hiking in 20 hours was a little too much to handle for my poor feet, and they're reminding me of my indiscretions on a daily basis. True to the condition, it's most painful when I wake up and get out of bed thanks to the plantar's contracting all night long. My short jogs (~3 miles) don't seem to make it any worse, but it's definitely not going away.

The other injury isn't really painful as much as it is conspicuous. The wear and tear of climbing Mt Whitney has caused bruising under my left #2 toe nail (the one next to the big toe) and it looks like I'll soon lose the nail. On my right foot, the bruising is there on both the big toe and the #2 toe and I think I'll be losing the #2 nail on this foot as well. From what I can tell, this is a common malady, especially among distance runners, so I'm not so concerned about the cause as I am about the moment that the nails actually fall off.

From what I can tell, injuries are part of the process, so for now I'll just monitor the two I've got to make sure they continue to improve. I really should spend time on the bike to give my feet a break from the pounding of running. Or, I could make this the week I join the PCC Center and start swimming at their pool with the PCA Masters program.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

First triathlon in my sights

As I mentioned over on HVYTK, I've set my sights on finishing (with a smile!) the ICE Breaker Triathlon in Granite Bay, CA on April 13, 2008.

It's a .5 mile (open water) swim – 13 mile bike – 4 mile run race. And while the bike and the run segments don't bother me too much, the swim is of greatest concern because my swimming skills consist of barely managing not to sink in the water. Lots of room to improve in my swimming skills if for no other reason than I must learn to swim again..

I'm using Joe Friel's Your First Triathlon to guide me through how I approach this challenge, and so far, I've found the advice to be quite useful in helping me set my expectations properly for my first tri. I'm also lucky to have a cube-mate at work who's now a three-time Ironman finisher, and more than a couple friends who've completed their share of triathlons shorter than the Ironman.

So then, what's this blog about? It's a way for me to share my progress, share the advice I've received (and whether or not I choose to follow it) and share stories about the tri toys I lust after and/or purchase.

If you've ever run a triathlon or aspired to, I invite you to follow along. Only 175 days until the race!