Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My First "Workout"

Well, even though I run or walk pretty much every day, yesterday, was really my first true speed workout in the 8 months that I have been overseas. I just go out and plod along enjoying the movement but never really work hard. My first goal coming over here was to build a base again. I feel like I have completed that by gradually moving from 25 miles a week last June up conservatively to 70 miles a week in November and December. In January I traveled and raced but did not start any speed training. Once back in Egypt I planned to start up a regular focused training plan to recapture my speed and fitness. Yesterday I took some more steps in that direction. Only on 8 occasions have I done any faster paced running at all in the last 8 months. These include:

two workouts of 3-5 x 300m striders
one strong 2 mile- 12:33
A 5.25 mile race in 32:17
two 12 mile tempo runs in 1:24 and 1:22
and two half marathons in 1:31 and 1:28:35

Yesterday I began what I would actually consider speed work. I ran a 3 x mile workout with 3:00 min recovery. On the base here I actually have a 1520m road loop that I will be using, so to be honest they were not full miles, but will be reproducible and are close enough.

I managed to run 5:59, 5:44, and 5:35 without too much struggle. I picked 3 min recoveries kind of randomly, and probably only needed 2 minutes, as I caught my breath pretty quickly. I ran in total control focusing on being smooth and relaxed. I had forgotten how fun it actually is to run fast! You feel very strong and invigorated.

I MUST continue these along with lactate threshold tempo runs to regain any sense of competitiveness and speed. I feel like I need to really earn the Montrail sponsorship I have had since 2001. I also decided my PR's are soft and at age 32 I am too young to give up on improving them. Both Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie are older than I am and still kicking butt. I also have good genes as my father ran a 4:43 mile, 32:30- 10K and 2:34 marathon after turning 40. It is time to get serious.

Monday, February 26, 2007


Okay, I am learning how to load images here...figured why not start with something gross! This is my foot after 27 hours of continuous movement in the humid, wet tropical forests of Hawaii during the HURT 100 mile race. Due to this foot (and the other one which was just as bad) I dropped out of the 100 mile race at 80 miles and accepted an official 100km finish as a consolation prize. My time was the official check in time to the 67 mile aid station.

Despite it being 6 weeks since this race, my feet continue to peel a little each day. Almost the entire sole of my foot has now come off. I'm like a snake!

Want to try a 100 miler? This is what you look like in the beginning:

And this is what you look like after 18 hours of running

Yes, that is about right. Dirty, bleeding, and with a look of a zombie! What a great sport!

Trials of Miles

It is all about putting them in! For any of you who have not read Once A Runner by John L Parker Jr. you simply must. Anyway, a huge part of having success as a runner of any distance, and especially ultras is simply getting out there and pounding away...experiencing the many trials along the way. Miles smiles and more miles. Since I am in the Army and currently in a command group that meets every morning at 5:30AM for a group physical training session of some kind (usually pretty weak and pathetic training actually), but my work hours do not start until 8AM I often have time to get in some mileage after that group workout and before I need to go get showered and off to breakfast.

Often after a long run like Saturday, I am too sore/beat up to run the next day but a walk helps take the soreness edge off and get me feeling better (especially at 6:15 in the morning) So Yesterday I walked around the base 3 miles-45min in the AM and after work at 5PM got in a nice 7 miler-58:07. I honestly felt pretty good. A little quad soreness, but not bad. Maybe I am finally starting to get in better shape. Yes, yesterday (Sunday) was a regular workday for me... in the Sinai we go Sunday-Thursday as Friday is the Muslim holy day so everything here shuts down.

This morning, despite feeling very tired, awaking at the wrong point in my sleep cycle I got up for a leisurely stroll of 4.5 miles at 9min mile pace. Now, like I used to in high school & college, I am day dreaming away from work and thinking about my afternoon workout. It is good to have a passion.

Today I heard form some good friends back at Walter Reed Medical Center in Wash DC. Home to one of the most incredible places of hope and triumph on earth. I was fortunate to be able to work there from June 2004 to June 2006 doing rehab for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. My specialty was amputee rehab and the experience changed my life. I have recently filed my papers to leave the Army after 10 years of service and have applied to the Northwestern certification program in prosthetics. I hope to start this training in the fall when I get back to the states and settle in Richmond, VA. I think this field will be a perfect fit for me as I love to work with my hands, help people, and use my knowledge of training the body.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Training Numbers Check In

Okay, lets take a look at the numbers:
Nov-307 miles
Dec-294 miles
The January mileage took a dip as I was tapering for the HURT 100 miler and then recovering from that wretchedly tough race. I also was home in Virginia on mid-tour vacation, then traveling back to Egypt. Since arriving back here I have been consistent, but getting in a lower mileage than I would like.

48, 54, 62, 49, 52 the last five weeks

Now that I seem to be recovering better from the weekend beat down runs, I hope to build it back up to 70mpw for a month and then 80's in April, 90's in May, and the big triple digits during June. I am not a huge mileage runner, but in general I have run better and recover faster when I am maintaining a higher volume. If you wanted a snapshot of my monthly mileage look here at the million mile challenge. Running a 400 mile month is a definite goal prior to leaving Egypt, as well as, logging my 40,000th lifetime mile. (roughly 39,300 currently)

I am in a situation now where many of the distractions of a normal life (commutes, household duties, quality time with family) do not exist for me in Egypt. So I figure I might as well take full advantage of it and run my butt off!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Pounding The Pavement...I Mean Coral

About every two weeks I fly 90 minutes on a twin propeller plane from the north base in the Sinai, Egypt to the south base to treat patients down there. I don't mind this at all due to the fact that the running surface is much better. The main base (north camp) has a completely flat asphalt road around its 4 miles just inside the razor wire fencing and guard towers. The 2.2 mile south camp perimeter loop is an undulating dirt path that is actually crushed/ dried coral. The consistency is much like the Umstead course....not sand, but not pebble gravel either.

I like to do my long runs while at the south base despite its shorter length as it is more visually interesting. The terrain around the north base is a desolate sandy desert with flat nothingness as far as the eye can see. The south base (near Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt) is right on the Red Sea with views of mountains to the west. Additionally, sun and moonrise over the water are often amazing.

This weekend I felt pretty good and managed to do one of my quickest long runs in a while: 22 miles in 3:00:21 including 9 minutes of stops for water and gel (4 stops total- one after every 2 laps). So basically I was able to run around 8:00 miles. I felt smooth and ran consistently the whole time despite temps climbing into the upper 80's by the time I finished at 10AM. My intent is to keep building this long run every two weeks until I leave Egypt in July.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Going Bonkety bonk bonk

I have always thought that expression was a great one. Todd Williams one of my running heros once said that after his great marathon debut, in which he bonked in the last few miles. He said the wheels just came off and he went bonkety bonk bonk. It was still a great time (2:11). However, I didn't bunk after 2 hours of running today, I bonked after 20 minutes! This happens to me every now and then. It used to happen a lot when I was working really long days on my feet at Walter Reed and then trying to run late in the evening after work having not eaten a very caloricly dense lunch. Sometimes I wonder if my system is just messed up as my blood sugar used to measure wicked low (like 65) in the afternoons when I worked at a cardiac rehab clinic and checked it for fun.
In today's run (at 4:15 PM) after a normal day of eating, but perhaps less calories than I need to be taking in over the last couple days, I bonked big time. I just felt incredibly slow and needed to stop to walk. I even got a little trembly. If I walk for 5-10 minutes then try running again it usually goes back to normal and I can run again fine. Strange. Some days I will go out and do 16-18 miles never taking anything in at all and am fine.
Some of the problem could be that I have upped my mileage lately and am also trying to lose a few pounds. Unless you are a serious runner and know what your body is supposed to look and feel like you'd say I am plenty skinny currently. But, I am still 7-10lbs over what I raced well at and yes it makes a difference. Try strapping a gallon of milk(8lbs) to your back and running a 10K race....it does not work well for setting PR's.
I think my new strategy is to continue to eat healthy, but force bigger portions of carbs...even when I feel full and just continue to up the mileage. If I am running 12+ miles a day I am sure the weight will come off. But, doing piddly 4 milers like today is not going to help.
So tomorrow I will get in the 20 I planned for today.

Dead Sea Half Marathon

Last weekend I had an adventure in Israel at the Dead Sea. I was fortunate to be part of a 20 person group from my multi-nation base that went to Israel to take part in the Peace run 1/2 marathon and 10K. The Sea is a beautiful turquoise color from a distance and clear as can be up close. It is that way because absolutely NOTHING can live in it due to the incredible salt content(10 x more salinity than ocean water in the first 200ft depth) The lake/sea is very large and is 1000ft deep. It is so salty that the floor of the sea is not mud/rocks/or sand...rather.. pure salt and hunks of salt the size of golf balls are found both on the bottom and along the shore. And for the first time in my life even I COULD FLOAT! It was impossible to sink in this water. Water was a bit cold, but not bad as the air temps were in the 80's.
The dead sea is the lowest place on Earth an amazing 1300 feet BELOW sea level. (Badwater-Death Valley, CA is 245 ft below) Surrounding the sea are mountains that are all rocky and look just like the NewMexico/Arizona mts.
In the two race 1600 runners took part with some Ethiopians winning in an amazing 1:0x something. It was an out and back course on the road parallel to the Dead sea and was a bit rolling hills, but not bad. Wind at your back on the way out(although I couldn't feel it) then turned around in to a head wind to come home. I started conservatively 5K-21:10 and moved well...I am not that fast anymore unfortunately :-(, but my halfway split was 44:24. I tried to really run hard coming back and continually moved up. I felt like I was flying and passed probably 20 people in that second half but my splits were basically even. I ended up finishing in 32nd place in 1:28:35. Now I know my lactate threshold is 6:45 pace and will be doing some tempo runs at that pace for a while. It was a great get away from base (4 hour drive) and an incredibly unique experience.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Entering the blogger geek world

Hello and welcome to my blog! I have enjoyed many other athlete's blogs for months now and finally decided I had enough interesting things to post myself. So here I go!

I hope to give frequent updates on my training (goal race is the Vermont 100 mile endurance run July 21st) , as well as, give my day to day meditations from my current location (Sinai, Egypt) Where I serve as the physical therapist for the Multinational forces and observers http://www.mfo.org/ I am indeed a runner and it defines me.

Running has helped me gain confidence, and obtain goals in both athletic and educational arenas. I was driven to study the body and have always been amazed by what it could do and how it worked. This thirst for knowledge on the ultimate machine lead to studies in Biology, Physiology, and Physical Therapy at Ithaca College, The University of Virginia, and Baylor University. In 1997 I enlisted in the US Army and later, via ROTC, become an officer. I have served in MA, VA, TX, DC, and am currently in the Sinai, Egypt. Working with the Iraq war wounded while stationed at Walter Reed has been my life's most rewarding experience and in July 2007 I will be leaving the Army, moving to Richmond, and hope to begin working in the field of prosthetics.

Please enjoy and happy trails!