Saturday, March 31, 2007

Working The Farmer Tan

Sat AM- 6.6miles -53min
PM- 11 miles- 1:30

Lots of laps in the sun today. The summer has come to the Sinai...temps hit 97 today in the shade. Hot. I worked on my farmer tan....getting the backs of my legs, posterior arm/elbow, and neck nice and tanned up. I wear a hat these days. Too many sunburns on my face...and too much skin cancer in my family.

A pretty quiet day today. I slept in late and thus ran in above 90 degree temps from 10-11 AM then waited until 4:30 to do the second run. That was nice as a good breeze always blows as the afternoon passes and the sun dips behind the mountains here at the southcamp. We don't set our clocks ahead until April 27th so sun sets at 5:40 or so here.

Why two runs? Well two runs is a lot less stress on the body than one longer one. Two runs allows a quicker pace than one, and allows recovery between runs. I can maintain a higher weekly mileage off two a days than singles. Currently I am trying to bank as many miles as possible while re-incorporating speed work again after a 5 year lay off. Thus long runs would add too much stress there won't be any for a while. As the weeks roll by, and I hopefully get faster, I'll put long runs back in and gear up for July's 100 miler. I plan on doing a couple of runs of 35 or so and a couple at 45-50 miles come late May-early June. The weeks 7 to 5 weeks prior to July 21st should exciting! But, lots of work to get done before then.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Back In My Montrails!

Thurs- 6.6miles- 54:15
Friday- 11miles- 1:28

Ah Yes! Back on the dirt/crushed coral/sand of the southcamp base and thus back in my trusty Montrails. I have a bunch of Montrails here that are a bit older that I am attempting to kill off before they are retired for good in June when I leave. I'll donate them to the locals who often wear pretty old beat downl shoes. I still love the Leona Divide's and this pair must have 800-1000 miles on them. I also have a pair of highline's here with me that handled the 2005 Haliburton 100 and MMT Ring 71 miler. I look forward to being back in the states running trails most every day and running in some of the newer Montrail models that I have not ried yet.

I am going to be here at the southcamp for a good 9 days and plan to really BINGE run a bit. I will run doubles most everyday and hope to get in a solid triple digit mileage week. I will only run one speed workout and that will not be for a few days. I'll take advantage of the hills here and do some repeats on Tuesday. All the other runs will be easy ones just circling the 2.2mile loop. 3 laps in the morning before work and 5 in the afternoon.

March is just about over, therefore, I want to send a happy birthday out to my brother Jeff and my Dad who were both born on March 30th. Enjoy guys!!

I googled (loomdog ultra) to find the page for my blog today as I am away from my computer where I have it bookmarked. Found this blast from the past about MMT 100 2001, fun!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cruise Intervals

Wed PM- 9miles- 2 w.u. -6xmile on 1min recov (6:28-6:42)-1 mile cool down

Since I am traveling to the southcamp base today I bumped the above workout forward one day. My legs have been recovering well and Mondays Rep workout was cut short due to the treadmill incident so I figured I'd be okay. The plan was to do all the threshold runs on the treadmill until I learned the pace, but I really felt like seeing if I could do it outside last night. So I ran my "mile loop" the 1520m one, in 6:14, 6:14, 6:19, 6:08, 6:22, and 6:18. I figure at my threshold pace of 6:35 per MILE (remember my loop is 18-20sec short) I did pretty good. The forth one was quick as a good Static X song came on, and then on the fifth I backed off more to compensate. In all I am pretty impressed at how easy It felt. The human body is an amazing machine! I was able to run the first two repeats within 2 tenths of a second of each other, and I am not even super comfortable with speed/threshold runs yet. Going in to the workout I thought the short 60sec rest would be tough, but it was not bad. My pulse dropped to 90-100bpm by the time it was time to start the next interval.

This completes the 5th week that I have been doing speed workouts. I feel much more comfortable and coordinated now and can handle the leg turnover. Improvement is fun! I still feel like a slow poke but at least I now fully realize what kind of shape I am in and am not delusional anymore.

Out of curiosity last night I went through my running log to see how many times I have completed the marathon or further distance. First count turned up 109. I have completed 18 official marathons, 51 ultras, 10 ultras where I went beyond 26 miles but DNF'd, and the remainder were long training runs. In the last 5 years I have gone out for 26 or longer on 59 occasions; or one a month. In my best year, 2001, I notched 21. This is certainly not as many as others, but it was interesting for me to look up.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Not Your Average Patient

Tues PM- 8miles 64min
Wed AM- 5 miles- jog

Today has been an interesting day. It started off early as I was out at 5AM to Cheer on and motivate two of my fellow medical soldiers (one Doc, one Medic) as they attempted to and then completed the final task in a week long competition to earn the Army's EFMB. Their task today was a 12 mile ruck march in under 3 hours while carrying all their gear and a 40lbs ruck sack (or backpack for you non-military folks). They both did so, but were surprised just how hard it got after 2 hours. I have found that 2 hours of anything non-stop is hard. Even walking!

Then this afternoon we had a meet and greet with some pro football cheerleaders as a morale and welfare thing. Unfortunately one of them had twisted her knee in a show on their tour two days ago. (thus no show for us!) But, I did get to do a knee exam and dole out some medical advice on and to someone that is about a million times hotter than my normal patients. Sorry no photos...but it seems my Internet access is too poor to upload anything anyway. Bummer!

Tonight I'll do a 6xmile at threshold workout. I'm actually excited. I love that feeling of joyful anticipation I get when awaiting a workout. It only happens when I am training well and really INTO running again. I like it.

Tomorrow I'm off to the southcamp base for 8 days of treating patients there and running in the DIRT....or Egypt's crushed coral/sand equivalent.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Impressive Running

Tues- AM 4miles easy 33min

Some pretty impressive running in March by former Montrail team member Michael Wardian of my hometown Arlington, VA. He won the March 4th B& A Trail Marathon in 2:25. Then two weeks later finished 3rd with an Olympic Trails qualifying marathon time of 2:21 at the Shamrock Marathon in VA Beach March 18th. To complete the hat trick he came back to win the National Marathon in Wash DC on March 24th in 2:26. Not a bad month at all!

His ultra career is perhaps best known for what "could have been" as he was leading or got lost in several races including the 2001 Old Dominion 100- where he won but was DQ'd for going off course in the last 3 miles.

First Rep Workout

Monday PM- 6 miles 2wu 4x200-42, 4x400-85 on 2-3min recov

This was going to be a longer workout, but I broke the treadmill, then had to take the motherboard out, clean it, re attach it and fix it. so I stopped the run.

Monday, March 26, 2007

100 Days

Sunday Am- 3 miles Jog, PM- 8 miles 64min

Monday Am- slept in like a bum, PM- I will do Jack Daniels Rep workout

Today is an historic one in that I now have 100 days left in the Army (assuming things go as there are supposed to). I'd be more excited if I had more concrete things such as orders. None the less it is an exciting thought. I look forward to the little freedoms one gains by not serving in the military. Like: 1) I can get in my car and drive more than 200 miles away for my base without getting someone who out ranks me permission. 2) No one will tell me that I need to cut my hair, and 3) If I want to (or forget to) shave my face in the morning, no one is going to give me a hard time....except my wife...and I'm gonna work on you babe! :-)

Honestly I have had a clean shaven face and the same haircut for the last 10 years. I'm not sure if I know how to (or want to) do anything different. But, it is nice to have an option.

It is funny how our minds look at time. Now that the days left number is getting small it seems even harder. waaaaaaaaaaaaaah, 100 days!!!!!!!!!!!!! My gosh that is soooooooooo long. Yet, when I "only" had 7 months left it seemed more manageable. Not sure why that is.

New thought, after reading about The Trail Mule's exercise regimen of trying to do push ups/pull ups/ and sit ups. I was inspired to get my own self on a bit more of a regimen. I've been doing ab crunches on a swiss ball for a month now, but decided to switch to the supine bicycle. In scientific studies the supine bicycle (SB) exercise has been shown to be the best abdominal exercise in terms of muscle recruitment. A full 250% better than the standard Army sit up. So here is your challenge...perform the SB for 3 x 30sec bouts and see if the next day you are not sore.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Running In The Dirt

Sat- 6 miles- 47:25

Sun AM- 3 miles- jog

Wow, I just spent some time reading and looking at photos of the World XC championships held this year in Kenya. Looks like FUN, and I remember all the good times I have had running XC in high school and College. I think trail running and ultras is merely an extension of that fun sport. It is just fun to run on dirt, over the earth, and through the woods! I miss that here. I am sure a huge part of the soreness and aches I feel most days is because all my miles are on concrete, roads, and sun scorched backed sand that has been pounded into concrete-like firmness. Well only 90 some days and I'll be running in North Carolina for a brief period. Then on to Virginia, upstate New York, and finally in Vermont. July is going to be busy.....but at least I get to run on DIRT! as Montrail's logo so correctly states...Dirt IS GOOD!

Entertainment this weekend included the Indiana Jones series, the 2nd Pirates of the Caribbean, and the movie Blood Diamond. If you ever wanted to do something for the soldiers deployed in Iraq, send DVD's! Without TV, and having lots of time to kill, DVD's are great. I am fortunate to be on an established base (the MFO has been here for 25 years) so we actually have a lending library with all kinds of DVD's. They along with my laptop and IPOD are the best.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Its All About The Pace

Thur- 8miles- 64min
Fri- 14 total- 2w.u. 3xmile at 6:35 45min at 8:00, 2xmile at 6:35 w/ 1min recov

Its all about the PACE! Lots of consulting with my old teammates, Jack Daniels great book J. D.'s Running Formula, and looking more seriously at my past running logs. I am a chronic over runner in workouts.....meaning if I am in 4:28 mile shape rather than doing repeat 400's at 67, I ran them at 63 and would fade to 68's by the end of the workout. If I had 16:20- 5k speed I'd run a 3xmile workout at 5:01, 5:02, and fade to 5:14 on the last one. This over working lead too me needing more recover time than I should have, and often more than I got. Thus I never progressed during the course of many of my competitive seasons in high school and college. I was always too beat up from the workouts to race well, and many seasons when it came time to peak I was in worse shape than when I started the season. There is something to be said about trying to hard. Or more correctly not training SMART enough.

So this year I begin speed work for the first time in 5 years and what do I do? I'm trying to run repeat mile workouts 15-20 seconds per mile faster than I should and instead of getting stronger from them I got beat up. Well no more. I have to accept the shape that I am currently in and embrace the fact that nothing but smart running and time is going to improve it. Running my guts out in a workout is not going to give me the result I want. Smarter running means better recovery, which allows more workouts and better performance. It seems so simple now looking back on it.

Using one of these fine calculators: Runbayou or runworks You can see what physiological shape you are in and also what PACE you should be running Intervals, Thresholds, Marathon pace runs and easy/long runst.

I am currently at a VDOT of 52-53. Hopefully I can improve on this (one level every 4-6 weeks) and be in shape by September to run a PR in the marathon.

Until then I am following some sound Jack Daniels (The PHD coach) principles and trying to train smarter. Today's run was one of those. A marathon designed tempo run using my current threshold pace of 6:35/mile. I ran on the treadmill as a way of keeping me in tune to the correct pace until I can learn it. Goodness knows my internal pacer would have had me running TOO HARD and needing 3 days off to recover.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Day Off

Wed- ZERO!

Yes that is right, a day completely off, not even an hour walk. First time since I have been back in Egypt that I have done that. Hopefully it will be good for me! I miss the spring in my step, feeling strong, and being EAGER for the days run.

I just lost the entire post I wrote and thus this is a re-write...that has happened 3-4 times now since I started the blog. Sucks, cause now I don't feel like retyping everything.

Anyway, I am excited about the Mad City 100k coming up that will be the USATF 100K national championships. It has a loaded men's field of former 100k national team members Chad Ricklefs, Greg crowther, Patrick Russell, and recent trail ultra superstar Phil Kochik, and not to be left out, Ultra legend Scott Jurek. Scott has won every "focus" ultra he has entered in the last 9 years including 7 Western states 100s, two Badwater 135's, and the Spartathon in 2006. But, I am not betting on him in this race. The other guys are faster! And 100K is pretty short for Scott. Should be great competition and I guarantee who ever is leading at the 50K mark WILL NOT WIN!

The 100k is an interesting distance and I hope the Mad City run goes well and continues as an annual event. I hope to run it next year as I have never raced the 100k distance in the 8 years I have been doing ultras. I also want to branch out and run a 24hour event and believe it or not, I am planning on going after the Loomis family record of 2:34 in the marathon. I debuted at the Wineglass marathon 10 years ago this year and am seriously considering going back in September. I came in to that race in great shape and went through 19 miles on 6:02 mile pace before cramping in the hamstrings and slowing miserably. My final 10K took over 52minutes and I finished in a pathetic 2:54:31. Even more pathetic is I have never seriously run a marathon since then. I am more afraid of the marathon than I am of ultras!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

That Training Thing

Monday- 8 miles- 63min
Tues AM- 3 easy jog PM- 4miles-31min (speed workout aborted)

Well listening to the body signals continues to be a theme with me of late as I am both trying to increase my weekly mileage and re-introduce speed work to my program after a 5 year hiatus from such intense stuff. Thus, you can guess I am walking that tightrope of stress and adapt....with close attention to the adapt part. Yesterday I felt like crap again on the run for 4th or 5th day in a row and decided to bag the planned workout. In fact I did a big re-evaluation of the training plan. I went back to my 2001 running log for guidance on what BEST works for me.

While most training plans call for a regular weekly schedule, my running in 2001 was a much looser system but a system none the less. Even though I was not planning it to be one, looking back at the log it is clear now. Probably the biggest key is recovery days....I need two (2) per hard effort.

The key components in the 2nd 6 months of 2001:
1- long run 26+ miles- 10 runs (one every 3weeks)
2-Moderately long run 14-20 miles- 13 runs(one every 2weeks)
3-Tempo run/continuous hill repeat loop- 15 runs(one every 10 days)
4-Speed intervals- 4 runs (one per month)

The current plan: a rotating schedule of the above with two easy days between. I am not going to constrain myself to doing a long run on the weekend. Here I have time to do one after work, so I might as well.

The skeleton:
Day 1- long run (a) 20
2- easy 3am, 4pm
3-easy 3am,8pm
4-speed session 3-4 miles of repeats
5-easy 3am, 4pm
6- easy 3am, 8pm
7-Moderate long 13-18
8- easy 3am,4pm
9- easy 3am,8pm
10-Tempo-12-15 miler (30min faster w/in)
11- easy 3am, 4pm
12-easy 3am, 4pm
13-Long run (b) 30

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Anne The Marathoner

Sun AM 2 miles walk PM- 6 miles -48min

A HUGE congratulations go out to my wife, Anne, on finishing the VA Beach Shamrock marathon yesterday in 4:26. Anne runs 3 times a week and puts in 12-15 miles a week. With a gradual progression of a long run on Saturdays she was able to build up and accomplish this impressive feat. I am very proud and only wish I could have been there with her. There is nothing like have a loved one around to dote on you after finishing a big race. "Help me off this curb honey!" - is a favorite battle cry I often use post race. Sorry you had to do this alone! Lord knows you have helped my pathetic self after ultras many many times.

Her fine performance got me thinking about others I have heard that have completed a marathon. So I did a bit of searching and came up with the following list of folks that have completed marathons...some of which are quite surprising.

Mike Malinin (Goo Goo Dolls drummer)- 3:23 he has run 50 & 100 mile ultras too
Billy Baldwin- 3:24
John Edwards 3:30
Michael Dukakis 3:31
George W Bush 3:44:52- I'm VERY surprised by this....
Pat Tillam- football pro, Iraq war casualty due to friendly fire- 3:48
Kim Alexis (Model) 3:52
Will Ferrell- 3:56
Michael Waltrip (Nascar) 3:59
Keri Strug (USA gymnast) 4:12
Puff Daddy P diddy Sean Combs- 4:14:54
Shannon Miller (USA Gymnast) 4:17
Kyle Petty (Nascar) 4:18
Oprah Winfrey- 4:29:30
Mike Huckabee (Arkansas gov) 4:39
Bill Frist (corrupt politician/physician) 4:54
Al Gore- 4:58
Mario Lopez (Saved by the bell)5:41
David Lee Roth (Van Halen) 6:04

Interesting no??

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Weeks Roll By

Fri AM- 5miles- 40min
PM- 5.5miles-47min

Sat- 12 miles 1:34 (last mile 6:09)

Well I'm wrapping up another week here in the Sinai. Not a particularly good week, a bit on the low mileage side, but a couple quality runs in there and some needed time off to recover. Today's run was nothing special, just pounding away with a quick mile to close it out. Really got tired/hungry after 80minutes.

Today I watched a couple of movies from years gone by that I had never seen. Both are classics: "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and the "Crying Game" Very good in totally different ways. Now I know what all the talk is about. Entertaining for sure.

Friday, March 16, 2007

It Is Coming

Thur- 9.5miles- 6m w.u. -2mile-11:59/4min/mile-5:42

Speed day once again. I must say the weeks seem to be going quickly and I am now happily down to my last 100 days in the Sinai! a very relative thing. I know the speed repeats I knock out while straining and panting, are merely another runners warm up and easy distance pace. Yet, I still feel pretty good about them. The speed and coordination for a faster leg turnover is slowly coming back into my legs. Yesterday I managed to squeeze in a good workout on the wet roads in between two monstrous storms.

I did a big warm up of 6 miles then ran the adjacent road loop to my "mile" road loop (which happens to be 3120 meters long) hard. So basically I will be doing 2 mile reps and mile reps on "tracks" that are 80meters short or roughly 18 seconds quick if you use 6:00 mile pace conversions. Last night I ran the "2 mile" in 11:59, jogged/walked to the mile start for 4 minutes, then ran my 1520m loop in 5:42. I could really feel the lactate in my legs and noticed my rapid breathing kicked in about 2 minutes into the mile effort, when normally it does not hit me until 4 minutes or so. Fast 2 miles are tough...even when they are only 3120meters!

This is the 4th week in a row where I have done a speed session of some sort. I hope to continue this, and hope to get faster as March rolls on into April and May.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sand Storming

Wed- 8 miles- 64:13 (7th mile- 5:31)

Today and yesterday we have had some incredible weather. Sand storms with sustained wind of 40mph. Amazing how dusty sand as fine as plaster dust can get EVERYWHERE! Then following the big winds we had rain. Rain like I have only seen a few times in the 9 months I've been here. down poor with thunder rattling all. Thunder is more impressive in the desert since nothing is in the way to block/absorb it. Kinda fun.

Last nights run, was still only 85% as the long one last weekend really put a hurt on me. But, I did throw in a quick miles just to shake things up and the popliteus muscle (in your knee pit) that has been bothering me held up just fine.

Today is Thursday and in Egypt it is the last day of the work week. (Sinai Friday) as we call I am excited to have a weekend off.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Training Plans

Mon- 5 miles- stiff sore jog w/ walk breaks
Tues- 6miles- 47:41

Over the last two days I have spent a significant amount of time formalizing a training plan for the next 19 weeks leading up to the Vermont 100. I am trying to use my unique situation here being deployed and without many creature comforts (read time wasters) like TV to my advantage. Also being removed from normal daily taskings such as commute time, household chores, and quality time with family, I plan to completely devote myself to running. This is truly an opportunity to be an extremely selfish and obsessive runner. Why not?!

So I decided to try something a little different. I outlined a plan where every 3 weeks I back away from the routine of a long run, speed session and tempo run mixed with easy recovery runs and simply throw in a BIG MILES week of easy paced long doubles. I follow this with two normal structured weeks as outlined above, then repeat. I will run intervals of 1500-3200m on Tuesdays (3-6miles worth), a medium long run with striders on Thursdays, and a cut-down or tempo run on Saturdays. During the BIG miles week I will run at an easy 8min/mile pace for 6-13 miles, with doubles most every day.

I am also going to periodize a bit more and hold off on super long runs for several weeks. Over the last 8 years that I have been running ultras covering the distance has never been my problem. And to be as competitive as I want to be I need to improve my speed. Thus, I'm going to work on that for several weeks and then change up the program in the last 8 weeks before the race and include several runs in the 15-18 mile range and a regular 30-40 miler.

This is the first time since 1998 that I have sat down and programed a specific program for myself. I really have been a hap hazard trainer for years now. Nothing wrong with that, and I have enjoyed it immensely, but I know I have not been getting the best out of my body.

So, let the training begin and wish me luck!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Schedule Changes

With the recent news that the Tussey mtn 50 race, which is serving as the USATF 50 mile road national championships, has moved its date to the 22nd of September, my fall racing plans are now greatly changed.

Since I have set the following goals for the fall: 1)Run a 50 mile PR, 2) Run a strong road marathon, 3) Be competitive in a USATF and/or Montrail Ultracup event. I think my new schedule is much more conducive to this.

I will kick the fall off with some running in my old stomping grounds of upstate NY. I hope to run in the Virgil mtn 30k in August and come back to Ithaca for a strong showing for my own pride at the Ithaca College Alumni XC 5k on Labor Day weekend. The same weekend I want to get on the Finger lakes trail for a strong run at the Monster marathon.

My best racing will hopefully take place in a 6 week period starting with the Tussey 50 in Sept. Then continue at the Baltimore marathon 3 weeks later and finishing up another 3 weeks later at the November 3rd Mountain Masochist 50 (an infamous 53-54 Horton mile event). I'll get to test myself against the best trail Ultrarunners in that one as it is a Montrail Ultra Cup event and a qualifyer for the Western States 100 in 2008.

If my body holds up I'll close out the year with a run at the 100K distance by competing in the crazy 12:01AM starting Hellgate 100K in my beloved Virginia mountains December 8th.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sinai Marathon

Sat AM- 26.4 miles- 3:39:17- includes 10:30 of pit stops

Well after taking Thursday off Friday's run felt like crap. Sometimes the time off makes everything feel worse. Then today I got up at 6:45, ate a bar, drank some coke and slowly got around. By 7:30 I was placing my grocery bag aid station (water, Gatorade, 5 gels, and body glide) down behind the outdoor stage/stadium thingy in the shade. I began churning out 17:00-17:45 minute 2.2mile loops feeling sore in my calves and generally tired. Things got better after 30 minutes but by the 7th lap I seriously debated about aborting the long run effort. But, since I only go down to the south base every two weeks and enjoy its scenery, hills and softer surface so much I told myself to just do another lap and by then I was over the bad patch and continued to grind away. I stopped for 1:30-2:30 every 2nd lap (5 times total) to hit a gel and drink.

Considering last March I ran the Bataan Death March marathon in 3:47 and in April ran 3:34 at the Charlottesville marathon, and 3:28 at the Frederick marathon. Today's solo run up and down the 36 hills in the Sinai desert was a pretty good one.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Whats Your Best Workout Ever?

Thursday- off- travel to south base, slept in
Friday- 7 miles- 55:40

I was doing some work on the running log today and came across a great 15 day stretch in Aug-Sept 1991 where I set PR's in the 3200-10:05, 3 mile-15:53, and 10K-34:51, as well as, did a workout that is honestly one of my lifetime bests. I was about to go into my junior year of high school and had done a good bit of speed work over the summer to prep for, and then compete in, the 800 meters at the Empire State Games. So I had 2:04 speed and had just began doing longer repeat workouts to prep for the XC season.
The workout is a standard one: 3xmile with one lap recovery jog. I manged to run:
5:08, 5:03, 5:04
While I did get faster than this later on I am not sure I ever ran a 3xmile faster. While a senior in March of 1997 at Ithaca College I raced my teammates (I was a practice champ a lot and in races my teammates beat me....I was so stupid!) anyway we did a 5x1200m workout on 3 min recoveries averaging 3:41. In terms of pure performance that maybe my best workout ever. What is yours?

Probably the workout that was toughest...or that the fewest number of folks can say they have done, was completed in Aug of 1998 when I ran 50x400m on a 2 min cycle at 5K race pace. At the time this was 83 sec so I had 37 sec rest. That one killed. I was inspired by a book I read on Emil Zatopek.

Tomorrow I'll be running long again around the south base's 2.2mile sandy crushed coral perimeter road....but I'll be dreaming about great speed workouts to come in the future.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Working on The Speed

AM- 5 miles walk
PM- 7 miles- 3 warm up, 3x 1520m-(ave 5:32), 1 cool down

Well it had been nine days since my last speed workout and thus time to abuse myself in the quest to get some fleetness of the foot back. I want to keep the total miles of fast repeats to just 3 for a couple more weeks so I originally planned to do a 3200, 1600 workout, but when the time came I pretty much wussed out of the 2 mile. It'd hurt.... So I just decided to repeat last weeks workout but cut the 3 minute recovery down to 2 minutes as they seemed a bit overkill last week. I felt pretty good on the warm up only slightly achy and stiff from yesterdays strong 12 miler. This shows that the last 2 months of training are starting to pay off as the same paced 12 miler last November necessitated 2 days off from running.

I am still a bit awkward and uncoordinated running with a quick turnover as it has been a long time, but this weeks repeat miles felt smoother than last week. Neurological gains in muscle coordinated recruitment can explain the gains I showed when comparing rep times to last weeks (ave 5:46). I managed to run 5:40, 5:29, and then 5:26 for the 1520m "mile" rectangle loop I run with my heart rate dropping to 100bpm 80 sec post repeat and to 85bpm 2 minutes post the 3rd repeat. Cardiovascularly I am in pretty good shape, and with 3-5 more weeks of repeats I will start to see real speed improvements as the enzymatic efficiency within the muscles will improve. Intervals suck...but they work!

I am using this blog as a way to hold myself accountable. It is as if I have 50 training partners who will be asking about my workout and who I will be letting down if I chose to skip it or cut it short. So thanks a lot for reading and expressing your interest in what I have to say!

Just to show you the power of the Internets reach...after yesterdays post I received within a 3 hour period emails from people in all facets of my life from the last 15 years:
my best friend from high school 1990-93
Friends and academic adviser at Ithaca College 95-97
Soldiers I worked with in Massachusetts 98-2000
UVA ROTC mates 2000-2002

PT's I worked with in Texas 2003-04
Co-workers 2004-06
And folks I ran races with in 2001,
Grand slammed with in 2002,
and ran in the VHTRC and on the Montrail team with 2001-2007.

Pretty amazing and much appreciated! Thanks and stay in touch

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Monday- 5 miles- easy jog (stiff)
Tuesday- 12 miles- 1:32 w/ 6x 100m striders in the last mile

I suppose I am as moody as the next guy, but some days I can just get in a funk. The little things tend to tick me off, and I am eager to bite someones head off. Of course I am pretty non confrontation so usually don't do so, but think about it just the same. Usually a good run will take it all out of me, but last night I was still off the "peace and love happy train" even after what was a fine run. I am still bothered by the fact that I am not very fit or fast currently. Why do I have to press pretty good to merely maintain 7:45 pace? Part of the reason is that I simply have been out of touch with my true running pace for a good number of years. I have been (prior to coming to Egypt) running almost exclusively trails which are by nature slower, and not measured. And if a trail is supposedly measured or marked, 9 times out of 10 it is inaccurate anyway. So now that I am running a set measured course the reality of my lack of speed is even more alarming.

I think too, that the reality of the huge life changes about to take place for me is starting to settle in. In July I will be returning back to the USA, leaving the Army, moving with my wife from Arlington, VA to Richmond, buying a new car, finding a new job, starting a new job (both my wife and I), adding a dog to our household/life's. That is a decent amount of change I suppose. And I am, like most people who are runners and very schedule/ritual driven. I (gasp) fear change!

Maybe I am just really getting tired of being away from home....

Studies have shown that the maximal time for a soldier to be deployed and remain optimally mentally alert and on task is 7 months. (Thus the US Marines do 7 month deployments- smart ones them, The Army is more about budget...and 12 month deployments means less money spent on mobilization) although I did take a month of leave back in the states...It has now been 9 months since I left last June.

Blah, that is about all I have to say....except, then I remember perspective:

This is Misha a soldier from the Republic of Georgia (one of the few "Coalition Force" Nations) and a former USSR territory that is now an independent country that has troops in Iraq. Misha's vehicle was hit with an IED killing the other 4 soldiers (Americans) in it. He survived with injuries that included the loss of one eye, one arm, a destroyed knee, fractured femur, fractured tibia, nerve damaged ankle, and an incredibly destroyed right hand/arm that was miraculously rebuilt using a nerve from his left leg, bone from his left hip, muscle from the right side of his stomachs "six pack", and skin from his left thigh. Luckily Misha was allowed to come to Walter Reed for 8 months of surgeries, recuperation and physical rehabilitation. (Say what you want about Walter Reed's administration...but the medical care is as good if not better than any place in the world.)

He did not know any English at all and the first word the poor guy learned was PAIN! All he could do was sit in his bed and cry. I still can't imagine what those first few weeks on the wards of Walter Reed must have been like not being able to communicate and going in for repeated bouts of surgery (he had 24-28 total, I lost count) and feeling loopy from pain meds. Misha's wife was 7 months pregnant when he was injured and thus could not be flown in to see him. Sadly she lost the baby in a late miscarriage. Eventually she came to stay with Misha and together they learned enough English to get by. For the first 2 months I treated him I would call the Georgian Embassy in DC and ask a man named Gocha to translate for me..... "tell Misha I want him to try to sit up today, wait a few seconds and then let me help him try to stand is important" Then I would hold the phone to Misha's ear (as he had no usable hands to do so himself) When it looked like he was no longer listening I would take the phone back and ask..... "does he understand?" It was a long slow process, but look at him now! He emailed me recently and sent these pictures. Looks like he's having fun on some natural water slide.

The human body (and spirit) have amazing recuperative powers. I helped Misha on a daily basis for months, but I think I got more out of it than he did.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Tough Dudes

I wanted to write and give congrats to some tough dudes on their runs this weekend.

First great job to Greg Crowther on his 50K National title and taking the $500 bucks for winning and the course record bonus.

Great job to Dick Beardsley who after 12 (or so) serious spinal surgeries, knee surgeries, car accidents, and farm machinery mishaps ran a solid 2:45 at the napa valley marathon at the age of 50.

Good work to Patrick Russell on this weekends 37 miler at 6:26 pace. Man, April's 100K National Championships is going to be a super heavyweight fight with Greg, Patrick, and Scott Jurek all set to battle.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

My Feet ARE Freaking Peddles Man!

AM- 3 miles jog
PM- 17 miles- 2:11:48 (last 2 in 12:30)

This evenings run was one of those incredible ones where when you first start out everything aches and you don't feel like running. You pound a way for a while and start feeling better, and be the time you are finishing up you're flying and feeling absolutely superb. I started out a hair after 5PM with the bright orange sun lowering in the big clear sky. The afternoon's heat was fading with the suns rays and the normal late afternoon breeze was blowing south off the Mediterranean sea 30 miles to my north. I had put in 92 miles in the last 8 days and was feeling it in my plantar fascia, tibia's, calves and hips. I have been trying to build the miles up and am feeling that feeling where you are walking the razor thin line. One has to stress the body for it to improve via adaptation, yet if you don't rest enough for adequate repair you tear yourself down. Training is an art. And ultrarunning training is even more so.

Around my base (a rectangle 1200m x 2000m) I can run a route where I use all the perimeter roads as well as the interior roads much in the way one mows their lawn....sweeping back and forth. I can do this to make a 5.5 miler or a 6 miler. So I decided to run two 5.5 milers with the plan to run quicker in the last few miles. The first loop was kinda ugly, but by the end of it (44 minutes) I felt good and the sun was beautifully setting the sky a blaze of reds and oranges. In the second loop I began to float along and decided that I should put in a 3rd go round and do a 6 mile version to make it an even 17. (Wiser..just for you!) I thought about ultra stud Greg Crowther going after the 50K USATF championships, and Montrail teammate Patrick Russell hopping to get in a LONG run in the snowy midwest, and about my ICXC teammate Andy doing a 17 miler on a treadmill in cold Ithaca, NY.

After 1:28 I began the third go round and was dazzled by the BIG full moon rising. Great skies here in the desert if nothing else! The temps were dropping but my steady run kept me comfortable in shorts and T-shirt once I tucked the shirt in. Midway through the run I began to think about my goal of running the Vermont 100 well and really fired it up. With two miles to go my feet became the peddles on a Lance Armstrong powered bike in the TDF time trial. They were absolutely spinning. It was as if I was not even moving them and I shredded the pavement down the main strip of base, running past the dining hall, gym, and battalion headquarters. Having pushed on through the 2 hour mark without a single pause to stop/walk/stretch/eat anything/or even drink a sip of water my body was just a roaring using accessory muscles to propel me on. Training the fat mobilization system in runs of this length is very beneficial for ultradistance running and I remembered cranking out a number of these type runs when I lived in Charlottesville, VA and attended UVA. Man I have not felt like this in a run in years. A glimpse of the old me for sure. All I could think was....

100 sub 9:00 miles on July 21st

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Feb 25-March 3rd Week Summary

Sun AM- 3miles-walk, PM- 7 miles-58min
Mon AM-4.5- easy, PM 7- w/ 3xmile -5:46ave
Tue - PM- 10miles- 1:22
Wed- 5.5miles walk (tired so listened)
Thur- AM 3mile-jog, PM-8- 1:06
Fri- PM- 10miles- 1:15 (first run with IPOD)
Sat- AM- 8miles 1:01, PM-4 miles walk

Total- 70 miles, one speed session, no long runs

Had planned for a 12-14miler with the last 5 miles at lactate threshold pace, but the body was not liking that so I'll get it in tomorrow.

Stress and adapt....and if you don't allow time for adaptation no improvement can occur.

Adding Music To My Run

Okay, I admit it. I am a complete hypocrite and sell out. After years of taunting people who ran with headphones and Walkmans/disc mans/IP3players, I have now finally joined their ranks. I used to discriminate immediately upon seeing someone running with cords coming from their ears. Obviously they were not a REAL runner. The were not serious...they had to be running just to lose weight. I even talked my wife into leaving the music behind...slowing the pace and enjoying the surroundings more. This fortunately lead to running becoming something she really enjoys and not something done as a chore to stay fit. When running in the states I do 90% of my running in the woods on trails and never wanted to listen to music as music simply was all around me in the wild. I did not understand when someone had headphones on while out in nature. Why tune that out? I'm not sure I understand that still, but due to my current life situation I find my running very boring. I either run on a treadmill to avoid the desert sun and heat, or I run multiple boring loops around my small base staring off for miles in every direction with nothing but sand to be seen.

So I caved in and bought an IPOD Shuffle.....which is amazingly small and cool. I have 15 hours of music on it that will not repeat or run out of battery charge. Best of all, the whole thing weighs about the same as a piece of paper. I conveniently clipped it to my Montrail hat and coiled the headphone wire up and twist tied it to the tightening strap on the hat. I then ran the cords directly to my ears. NO JIGGLING CORDS! A beautiful thing for sure.

You know what? Music is pretty nice on the run. I think I am a bit faster while listening to my favorite upbeat tunes, and maybe a little less in tune to my surroundings, but living here I am not missing out on anything. The loop seemed to flow a bit quicker and the boredom was definitely reduced. Will I use the IPOD back in the states on trail? I doubt it, but at least now I have a new appreciation for those who do.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Flags of Our Fathers

I just watched the movie Flags of our Fathers and Wow is all I have got to say. Maybe I am just a softy or maybe war movies affect me more because I have worn a uniform, I don't know. But, if you want to let a few tears role out take in this film. It is brilliantly graphic like Saving Private Ryan and touching like We were soldiers once and young, and tells it the way that I view it. Soldiers don't fight to spread freedom, they fight for each other. I have had the honor of working with my own generations war wounded and even been a long on VIP tours of the capital and the Pentagon. On both occasions I went to help those with amputations get on/off buses and negotiate curbs, stairs, ect. Nothing made me feel so uncomfortable as having huge crowds of people break into applause when we entered rooms on each tour. I am nothing special for sure and was along only to assist so I naturally felt odd, yet the guys I was assisting were just as uncomfortable with all the well wishing and HERO touting. Many many of the men and women I helped with rehab told me they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My generation's war is not fought like previous ones. I treated soldiers who were blown up in their vehicles when driving in a long convoy. Their jobs were often as simple and as far away from a war fighter as you'd think one could get; like supply clerk, and truck gasoline refueler. These days we in the US Army never fight anyone straight up. We are simply too good, we have too much money, too fantastic of equipment, ect, ect. What gets us these days is unmanned, often unsophisticated improvised explosive devices (IED's) cowardly hidden where our troops travel. It is certainly not any less tragic. Perhaps even more so.

Watching a movie about previous wars has always made me think that my generation has got it good. And when you look at the staggering death toll numbers, you certainly can make the case that we do. Yet today, our battle practices and protective equipment is so much better, and our medical care and injured evacuation so many light years ahead of what it used to be, that the numbers killed has remained low. However, in Iraq for every one killed there are 9 severely injured. That means 28,000 and counting. And that is a big ugly number.

While I worked at Walter Reed I always felt a little bit guilty. Here I was working everyday with those that had been injured in "theater" (Iraq / Afghanistan) when I had never been. I even resisted getting and wearing the new army ACU uniform as it was mainly used by those who had been in the war. Initially it was like a badge of honor, and I did not want to wear it if I had not earned it. But, understand that the Army is a huge corporation one million strong with soldiers currently in over 120 different nations. We go where we are told. Currently I am in the Sinai, Egypt on a peace keeping mission. I am in the middle east. I am in an area where in the last 3 years 130 people have died at the had of Terrorists IED's and suicide bombs, but I am NOT in IRAQ. I feel pretty damn fortunate, but, I still have a little bit of guilt. Believe it or not, we have about 30 physical therapist serving in theater currently.

In a related topic, it has been interesting to read about all the hoopla with Walter Reed lately. And I am impressed with the big responses including the presidents today. I hope the problem gets fixed, but I can tell you the problem was not created by the latest General who got fired. He had been there only 6 months. The problem has existed for 4 years. To fix it you need to hire more people to process the paperwork and insure things are getting done (and not getting lost) , not fire people.

ahhh anyway, wasn't it Rodney King who said: "Can't we all just get along?" I like to hope so, but honestly, I don't think we can.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Drug News

Interesting reads lately about some Loomis's getting in trouble for their involvement in athletic performance enhancing drugs sales. These were not any close relatives, but I wish they would have shared a little of the 35 million profit they made last year! Wow, craziness. I wonder how long drug cheating actually goes back? Were people doping it up in the 1950"s, 60'S? And will the cheaters and their scientists always be one step ahead of the testers? Would it be better to allow everyone to in a sense to "Build a better body through drugs" and just not bother with testing at all? Certainly would lead to a lot more premature deaths in sport...although they still certainly happen. The suspicion bothers me. Is there a single Women's track record that is not suspected of being enhanced by drugs other than perhaps the marathon? I don't think so. No drugs for me...I'll just have to deal with being tired, stiff, achy and not recovered. I accept that and did the smart thing after 4 strong days of 22, 10, 12, 10, and just put in a 5 mile walk yesterday after a great 9 hours of sleep. I feel better today and did a morning 3 miler.

Two months are now gone in 2007 already and I have a modest 427 miles in the bank. Februaries 221 was not bad being that it is a short month, but I aim to do better in March.