My workouts

Friday, June 07, 2013


What is this biking stuff doing on a running blog? Well, after numerous nagging injuries this spring, I decided that biking might be a nice way to maintain my fitness even if I needed a little rest from running. I have never had a road bike, though I have a mountain bike that has been idle for most of a decade.

I really like to get on the open country roads, and that is part of what I like about running, though obviously the ground I can cover these days is limited. A few times a month I take my urban race car (VW GTI) out flying through the back country roads… rarely exceeding the speed limit, though I have taken 15 MPH turns at 55 MPH. (My GTI laughs at turn speed limits) =)

So I started to ponder how to see more of those beautiful open roads, all while maintaining fitness, when the idea of a road bike popped into my head. Now, I know nothing about road cycling, except they wear colorful outfits and a most dedicated shave their legs (out of tradition I guess).

When I started researching road bikes I was immediately overwhelmed. First of all, the price is pretty crazy, and of course the number of bikes and components to choose from is downright intimidating to a newbie. After resisting the urging from my brother-in-law to but a more expensive all carbon fiber bike, I settled on a Giant Defy 1. It was the best new entry level road bike that wasn’t too outrageous in price, but seemed to get as good as reviews as the more expensive bikes. Sure it doesn’t have the bling factor for a bike geek, but I am not a bike geek (just a geek).  

So I get my bike, and my shoes, and my pretty biking cloths and my padded biking shorts that make me feel like I have poo in them from the padding, and set off for my first 10+ mile ride. Despite repeating in my head over and over to unclip my pedals before I stopped, of course I forgot and fell over sideways. No big injuries, just some blood and scratches on my bike.

And if that wasn’t enough to show what a biking newbie I am, it took me one month to finally figure out I had to unscrew the little cap on a presta value to get air into the tire. Compared to running, biking is complicated! =)

I am working my butt up to longer rides (literally… my butt has to get used to being in the ‘saddle’ as bikers call it). I completed a 26 mile ride and though, yeah, cycling is easier in many ways than running, but it can be a great and enjoyable way to maintain fitness, without as much wear and tear on your body (well… except you bum). Riding up hills is definitely good for fitness, and honestly keeping up 16+ MPH speed for a whole ride is a good workout.

As I ease back into running, I have another secret weapon helping my fitness… cycling.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Marathon terrorism

On Monday morning at 8 AM I tweeted “I am not afraid to fail, I am afraid to not try. I am going to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon.”

It is no secret that I have dreamed of running the Boston Marathon, but when I tweeted that on Monday I didn’t even *know* the Boston Marathon was going on right then. When I searched for Boston Marathon Qualifying times, I saw that the marathon was in progress. I checked some media sources regarding it to see if any US runners were doing well, but the race was not over.

Late in the morning I checked again, but still couldn’t find the names I was looking for so I did some searching on twitter, when I stumbled on a bloody picture tweeted from the finish line that said something along the lines of WTF just happened?

Not the Boston Marathon, please no. Terrorism anywhere is horrible, but terrorism at the finish line to a goal I have dreamed about for years?  I just felt sick, and even sicker when the reports of injuries started to pour in.

I could go off on a rant about terrorism, about how absolutely cowardly it is to target innocent women and children, and about how nonsensical such acts are (what exactly did it accomplish?), but this is a blog about running after all.

On Monday I didn’t want to run, but I did what we have to when adversity strikes, I continued on and I dragged myself out and did my run. I did wonder in my head whether the dream of Boston was ruined. Tainted. How in my mind could I derive joy from all my hard work and dedication, if only to get to the finish line where three people were killed, include a boy one year older than one of my own? I remember on my first marathon he was 3…

“Between miles 5 and 6 my wife and two boys were at the side of the road. I was going to give my wife a kiss (which would have been the only time I planned to break stride for the entire race) but she had the camera up, so I just smiled and waved (and said something stupid) My youngest son (3) was yelling ‘Go Daddy!’ ‘Go Daddy!’ ‘Go Daddy!’ over and over. My eyes got misty and I filed that gem of encouragement for use throughout the race.”

So what do I do now? The same as before, I try to run my best and qualify and run the Boston Marathon. Three people died for the love of the Marathon, and me, a no body average Joe who doesn’t even run fast, has a dream to run it. I will not bow to terrorism, or fear, or doubt… I will run, and I will run fast, and I will qualify for and run the Boston Marathon, and doing so I will show anyone that is smart enough to watch, that Americans, even average slow ones like me, don’t give up, don’t alter course, and we do prevail.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What am I doing running in the city?

I love my car. VW GTI. I like to take it for drives, just for the fun of driving. Only a few minutes outside the city and we have long and endless lovely country roads. So why do I continue to run the same routes next to crowds of angry commuters?

I don't know. Familiarity? I think at least a few days a week I will start driving a few minutes outside the city to do my runs. I won't have the routes all memorized, but I do have a GPS watch that can tell me when I am 1/2 to turn around.

First week of training results

3 Miles easy
5x400 meter intervals at 7:30 pace
Tempo with 7:57 pace for fastest mile
Fast 4 miles at 8:23 pace with fastest mile of 8:08
6 miles easy

My previous fast 4 mile for the year was at an 8:54 pace, so as slow as I am currently running, I can still see improvement in just one short week. Of course, I have a large opportunity for improvement right now. =)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

5K on the way

So on May 18, I will put on a bib for the first time in years and run a 5K. RUN. The goal of course would be a PR, but that may not be realistic as I have just one week (of weak) ;)  speed training under my belt. That is the goal however, and time will tell what happens.

May 18th is a day I will never forget for other reasons, because, as some in the Northwest may remember, May 18th 1980, is the day Mt. St. Helen's erupted. I can remember being at a baseball practice and seeing the ash plumes stretching into the sky. From Portland, it looked like this

Back then I was a very skinny kid and yes I did run some (cross country). I never really trained so to speak... I could pretty much just run forever if I wanted. I believe once my dad took me to the Oregon Coast to run the Seaside Oregon half marathon... at least I think it was a half marathon. Maybe it was a 10K... I can't remember, but I know I didn't really train for it and I did OK. It kind of sucked though because part of it was in the sand which made for hard running. 

I was a good but not great runner back then, and one of the only races I remember was meet a that I placed 6th in. It was one of the bigger races too and probably my best performance, but I remember being next to another runner at my school, and at one or the other's suggestion we decided to go across the line together to tie, but in the last 50 yards he sprinted ahead and beat me. Obviously, he didn't like to lose.

A few years later he was much better at cross country than I, and I had stopped running. The next school year he didn't show up and I heard through the grapevine that he committed suicide over the summer. The story I heard was there was some type of injury or medical condition, and that Dr's told him he couldn't run anymore, and that pushed him to suicide. True story or not, I don't know, but that was the rumor at school.

Darn that kind of turned into a bummer, but where I was trying to go with that is that running isn't just running to everyone. Running certainly isn't worth your life, but running can make your life more worthwhile. It isn't the running itself per se, but the journey of it all. Health, determination, dedication, motivation are all required just to get you to the starting line. What happens from there, is just the icing on the cake.

Monday, April 08, 2013

First day of 5K training

Today is the first day of my 5K training cycle... in an attempt to break my 5K PR. Yahoo! This is the training I will follow: Unfortunately for me... I had a fast 5K for me when I was running a lot... even though I wasn't really training to run 5Ks back then. It will be interesting to see if I can get my speed up. Interesting indeed.