Saturday, December 15, 2012

Back in Training

Today was my first day back.

Insanity The Asylum, 49 mins

Quick one miler, 8 mins

In horrible shape, but getting back in it!

Now only if my diet were clean.

Back in Session!

I know I didn't mention this earlier, but my final official time for the 2012 Chicago Marathon was 3:19.  Three hours and nineteen minutes.  Not bad!

A 28 minutes improvement from last year.

Here are some pictures!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chicago Marathon Tomorrow!

I know, I know!  I haven't posted in a long time.  But I promise you it's not because I've ignored running--no, on the contrary:  I've been running stronger and faster than ever this past month! 

I haven't posted because I've been focusing on this club I'm starting here at the University of Chicago.  My little baby I need to cradle in its infancy.

But in light of the great event tomorrow:

Tomorrow, the knells shall ring with all their hearts--but their deathly portent shall be softly eclipsed by the early morning rise and reverberations of fabric and synthetic rubbers methodically pounding on the pavements of the Chicagoland with their promise of long-term cardiovascular exercise and sought-for pain.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Haven't Posted in a While

I've got about t-minus 5 weeks to go before the big Chicago Marathon.  

I've basically fulfilled my St. Jude charity commitment, so I'm happy there.

And one more thing.

I love distance running.  I love running for miles at a time.  Why?  Because you can start slow and feel horrible.  But around mile 4 or 5, it gets better.  The legs begin to pump.  The lungs flare up with oxygen at a calm rhythm.  And then you're good to go.  For miles.

Because that's the thing.  In a run that's 10 miles long, you can stumble and fumble for the first few miles, but you have to have the courage and the strength to keep putting one leg after the other until you're ready to do your best.

It just takes a while sometimes.

This is the biggest lesson I've learned this Summer while training.  To just keep going.  To ignore that voice in your head that continues to murmur, "I'm not ready."  Because you'll get there.  You just have to keep gonig.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back in Houston: The Real Training Begins

Time (Minutes)
Comments on Workouts
Insanity Asylum, Speed and Agility, + 4 miles
GREAT.  I can't do speed training anymore :[
Insanity Asylum, Strength + 6 miles
Strength felt great, although I now know what it feels like to be a true blue runner.  No muscle
Yoga X + 4 miles

So this has been my workout schedule for the past three days.  As you can see, mileage has significantly decreased, but time and intensity has significantly increased.

This is all part of my new phase in training.  Building strength, power, and endurance in my overall body--especially my legs because they need more plyometrics training to increase their elasticity (their ability to quickly strike the ground and spring back up like a rubber band).  The greater elasticity in the legs, the easier it will be for me to keep a swift/fast pace especially in the last 6-8 miles of the marathon, when muscles are tired and worn out).

I'll be sacrificing mileage for now, until around two weeks from now, when I should be able to hit 8-10 miles immediately after an insanity workout, if not completely do away with insanity workouts and just do general strength and add more mileage.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Inspirational Quotes: Running and Hitting the Pavement

Two great quotes to keep you going when you're feeling under the weather or second-guessing yourself about your up coming run of the day:

Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head.  
Joe Henderson, running coach and author 

If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then will power is no longer a problem. It's raining? That doesn't matter. I am tired? That's besides the point. It's simply that I just have to. 
Emil Zatopek, Olympic runner 
Get these daily quotes from Runner's World Running Quote of the Day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Funny Funny Running Stories

I came across Runner's World's discussion board, "Strange Encounters with Nonrunners While Running."

Here are a few posts:
I had a junior high school aged boy wave me down only to say "Hey, your legs are so white they would blind Jesus"!
I had a snorkel (of all things) almost hit me on a run.   It was an accident by some kids horseplaying at a pool my route takes me by.   
While trying out a new route (alone), I encountered a possibly insane man sitting in a lawn chair on the side of the road, cheering for me like it was a parade.  I wasn't really sure how to react, so I smiled and waved!!!
I had 1 guy offer me a beer on a hot day, and women cheer me from an outside deck of a bar. I once ran a relay in NH and saw pigs escape from the a farm as I ran by onto the main road. 

Let me tell you about one of my running stories (it's more of a horror/scary story, to be honest).

I was running along the Houston bayous behind my old high school at around 5 AM, and as I turn my head to the left, I see this figure wearing white shorts, white shoes, and a white t-shirt.  But that's all I could see.  No skin or anything.  It was 5 AM, and it was pretty dark.

The figure looked like my XC Coach, so I yelled out, "Coach!"  I Looked down for a second to make sure I didn't trip or hit something, and when I look back up, the figure was gone!

At this point, I'm pretty sure I just saw a running ghost.  I slowly stopped...---and then I booked it back home fartlek style.  I think it was my longest and fastest fartlek to date.

I'm Drinking Beet Juice Before the Marathon

I'm drinking beet juice before my marathon.  And probably a lot when I get back home.

Here's why:

In a recent study, cyclists drank beet juice or a placebo for six days. The next day they rode for an hour and then raced a 10-K time trial. Those who drank beet juice rode faster, cycled harder, and used less oxygen during the trial. Researchers credit the athletic boost to nitrate found in beet juice, which indirectly increases blood flow.,7120,s6-242-300--14439-0,00.html?cm_mmc=NL-Nutrition-_-997278-_-08022012-_-The-Value-of-Juice
A recent study found drinking two cups of beet juice (which has a high nitrate level) daily for six days may decrease the oxygen your muscles need, thus improving endurance.,7120,s6-242-300--13352-0,00.html

I'm convinced.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Running Hills: Oh Geez...AGAIN?

I've been living in Ann Arbor, Michigan for about 8 weeks now at a summer program, and if there's one thing I won't miss:  It's the HILLS.

I'm a converted Texan going to school in Chicago.  You know one thing they have in common?  FLATNESS.

But I've been running through the hillacious Ann Arbor--and I've come up with a few ways to really get excited about hill workouts.  Luckily, Runner's World provides a great summary:

"Running hills doesn't have to mean repeats," says Lt. Colonel Liam Collins, assistant track and cross-country coach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "The trick is to make it enjoyable." Plot out a new route that has a couple of hills (if you live in terrain untouched by the Thunderbirds, incorporate artificial hills, such as overpasses or even parking garage ramps). You'll reap the same benefits, says Collins, plus, "It's closer to what you'll find in a race."

Storied inclines like Peachtree's Cardiac Hill and Dipsea's Dynamite may be no tougher than your neighborhood hill, but because they've been imbued with a name, they've acquired a mystique. "Anytime you have a hill with a name, it gives it a life of its own," Collins says. Conquering your local version of Heartbreak will have more meaning if you've given it a moniker.

I gotta tell ya, hills can be fun if you make them.  And after a while, they'll feel like the usual.  Once that kicks in, if you're running on the flat surfaces of Texas or Illinois, oh, you'll feel pretty fast.

And you may miss the hills eventually.

But don't forget another benefit of hillacious runs.  When you descend, relax and open your stride, practicing on your recovery after a hill and most importantly speedwork and control.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bart Yasso Advice: The Long Run

I was reading Runner's World Magazine this morning, and I learned something new.

On your long run, which is the cornerstone of any marathon training regimen, run one minute slower than your target marathon-day race pace.

If you're looking for a specific pace for your long runs, aim for between 30 to 90 seconds slower per mile than the pace you expect to run in the marathon, but even slower is fine.

So if you plan to run 7 min/mile on race day, you should be hitting your long runs at 8 min/mile.

You don't want to be racing your long-runs, or else you'll be dead before hitting the pavement race day.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Comparing Ourselves to Others: Long Run it Out

I came across this post by Kristin Armstrong in Mile Markers, and I loved her little lesson:

Think (hard) and get real honest about the comparisons you make [about yourself with respect to others]. Put them in your journal if you are feeling shy. Or talk about them on your long run this weekend, if you are feeling bold. The more aware we are of our tendency to compare, the more adept we will become at recognizing it, and eventually Stop. Doing. That.
Comparison is a thief. Let's stop handing the sneaky little b**** our house key, alarm code and the combination to our safe.
That's why you should never miss your Long Run.  Good old LSD will keep you not just sane, but happy.  You can think through your thoughts--or you can agonize over the burn in your lungs and quads because maybe you've been a little lazier than you would've like on your runs during the week.

Either way, you're working through something.

And that way, at the end of the run, you'll understand not just more about yourself, but more about who you should be:

no one else.

Monday, July 23, 2012

9.8 miles: Running for the Love and the Test

Here's a beautiful line about running that absolutely melted my heart, and my legs:

Their strides opened up, their lungs gasped for air, and their legs burned. They were finding their limits and exceeding them with every step. They were testing themselves and discovering they were up to the challenge. They were running with free souls.

Because that's what running is all about.  Running free.  Disconnected from the artificial world man has created to dominate and placate Nature--and consequently, himself.

But we are free.  When we run, it's a space apart from our day.  It's the extra.  The part of ourselves we can't show to anyone else.

Our freedom:
I set out to find out how much pain I could endure, how much I was willing to give. Like the others around me, I wanted to know what would happen if I let go of all the constraints I normally place on myself. I wanted to know-no, I needed to know-if I could push past my own demons.

And so I ran the fastest mile of my life. World-record pace? Hardly. It wasn't even very fast for my age-group. But it was fast for me. It proved to me that I have the spirit, if not the body, of a champion. 

That's what we all discovered on that track. We discovered the truth in Pre's admonition to accept only our very best. We discovered that our best sometimes resides deep inside of ourselves, in remote parts of our souls. 

And we discovered that it is only by releasing ourselves from our self-imposed limits that we can finally see the power and beauty of the runner inside each of us. 
"The miracle isn't that I finished . . . The miracle is that I had the courage to start."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day #12: 7 Miles and Heat

7 miles and a long night. I'm getting smaller, and it's weird. Someone said something about champions needing only to do two things: workout when they wanted to and working out when they didn't want to.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day #11: 5 mi AM, 4 mi, PM

AM:  5 miles

PM:  4 miles

Total: 9 miles, baby.

Back.  In. 

Day #10: Back After Two Weeks of Zilch, Back In

6.55 miles.  Slow, heavy, hot, hard,--felt like I just started running again my Freshman year in high school.

That's what I get for doing nothing for 13 days.  No running.  No exercise.

I'm angry I got lazy.  Well, not lazy.  Maybe discouraged. 

But I'm back. Baby.

And I love running.  Unequivocally.

Back in.

Race-wise, I can still qualify for the Boston Marathon.  It's not really an issue, as long as I stay on course from now and on.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day #9: 5AM Run and a Thunderstorm

Woke up at 4:40 a.m. after a dream snuck up behind me.

Got up, tacked on my shoes, "Train Hard."

At the last mile and a half, thunder and lightning embraced the atmosphere with a belligerent jubilee.  Or maybe it was lightning coughing up a lung over my head.

The streak of blaze seared into the powdered and weeping blue.  Just as moments in our lives transmute themselves into electrical currents between our synapses, seared into our memories as errant thoughts.

Men's Health: The Biology of Running
In persistence hunting, the trick is to trot almost nonstop in the heat of the midday sun, pushing the animal along so that it never has time to recover in the shade of an acacia tree. The Kalahari hunters have figured out how to play one critical advantage in a deadly game that pitches their survival against that of animals: Humans have an evaporative cooling system, in the form of sweat; antelope don't. When conditions are right, a man can run even the fastest antelope on earth to death by overheating.
Then it started to rain.  5 miles.  I walked back, each droplet lightly sprinkling its coolness over a steaming surface.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day #7: 5 miles Kayaking and 5 miles Running

Mileage: 5 kayaking, 5 running

Kayaking is a lot more difficult than I thought.

 Lesson #1: 

When you and a buddy are kayaking, the two of you need to communicate and coordinate paddling to turn in any direction, stop, or reverse.   Or else you and the kayak end up face first in the swampy bushes and tree branches.

I learned that the hard way.  Haha.  But it was great, because we finished strong.  Even though we were completely exhausted, hungry and therefore grumpy.

Team members have to coordinate their movement toward a single goal.  Moving forward safely and quickly.  But, each member has to recognize that while he may want to be the star of the show and lead, he may serve a more useful purpose following the lead.  But that just makes the entire team succeed.  And in turn, he'll succeed.

But coordination requires communication.  Without Kwesi, my teammate, yelling out what direction we needed to go, I couldn't've oriented the kayak appropriately.  And I had to tell him when I was tiring out and he'd have to either compensate for my weakness or reduce his overall paddling strength so that our paddling cadence was in unison with the same amount of force, preventing his paddling to overtake mine.

Lesson #2:

When you're exhausted and so is your partner, it's easy to give up and just let your partner do all the work.  But that just leads to your partner resenting you and feeling used and cheapened.  At that point, you'll both stop.  And then what?  You're stuck!

If you're tired, chances are so is your partner/teammate.  Keep going!  Because you're both in it together.

Because when it comes down to it, the day you're tired and incapable of moving forward, wouldn't it be nice to have a helping hand to make life a little easier when you're just about done?

Yeah, I thought so.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day #6: 10.62 miles and Getting Lost

Mileage: 10.62

A man troubled with committing to something greater than himself only finds excuses.  A man troubled should take a hike and get lost.  Left with only the fear of never returning.

Only then, when he has nothing to distract him from himself--when there is no one telling him what he should do; no family or friend reminding him to care; no familiar path to take.

When there is no more useless disturbance--the noise and banality of everyday life.

Only when there is that desperate, elemental stillness left--and his humanity just about crawling over jagged rocks scraping against his feeble knees--does he hear the animal within.  Thrashing against the crumbling walls of normality, comfort, and complacency.

It's at that moment that he desperately digs within and lets it loose.  And it's starving.  Starving for sustenance.  For survival.  For life itself--and all it has to offer.

Only when a troubled man is forced to become starved for life does he willfully commit to it.  To thrive.

Because he no longer fears getting lost and never returning.  No.  He fears getting lost and returning.  Returning to a life teeming with emptiness.

All dramatics aside.  I got lost.  And while I did get a little worked up about it, getting lost made me commit to getting back.

Sometimes that's all we need.  To get lost.  So that we can remember the reasons why we need to get back.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day #5: 7 Miles and Ruminating

One of the beautiful things about running is simply forgetting.

That's right.  Forgetting.  Thinking about absolutely nothing.  Just doing.  Just running and moving.

I began my running career my Freshman year in Mark Keppel High School.  I signed up at the end of the 8th grade because my friends said they'd join.  Plus, the name was CROSS COUNTRY-XC.

I mean, how badass does that sound?  PRETTY BADASS.

I made great friends.  Especially a best friend, Ms. Lam.  But then I moved to Texas.  And I kept running.

Because it was the only thing that remained continuous within my life at that time.  Of course, my family was still with me, but running kept me connected to my friends in California.  Back at home--before Texas became my home.

I would wake up at 5 AM every morning the Summer after my Sophomore year (the same year I moved to Texas)--and I knew no one.  I ran to think about my feelings.  Sort through them.

And, in the middle of the run, forget them.  My feelings.  My disappointment.  My past.

Or maybe I fell in love with running because it's fundamentally what I do: run.

From what?  I don't know.  I think I know, but I prefer to forget.

MILEAGE: 7 miles.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day #4: Easy 5 and Heat Training

I got in an easy 5 miler today in Ann Arbor.  I finally found a somewhat flat route to follow.  Thankfully.

As you can tell from the heading, I experienced some 'heat training."  That's training in any temperature above 90 F I believe.  Anyway, there's a cool article in Running Times that documents the benefits of heat training:

A former NCAA champion and Argentine Olympian in the decathlon, Santiago enlisted 20 elite cyclists and put them through an identical training regimen, but for one significant difference: One group rode easily for 90 minutes (50 percent of VO2 max) at a comfortable temperature of 55 degrees; the other group rode at the same intensity in a heat chamber set at 104 degrees. The cyclists did ten of these sessions. Both groups continued their normal training outside the lab. After the test period, the groups did all-out rides in the two environments. As expected, the heat-trained riders performed better than the control group in the heat chamber. The real surprise, however, was when both groups were tested in the 55-degree chamber: The heat-trained cyclists outperformed the other group by an average of 7 percent.

That's big.  But will it stand up for marathoners?  I don't know.  But I'm trying it out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 2: Chicago Marathon Training 2.0

Today I hit 6 miles, tracking my mileage with my Garmin 405 Forerunner.

Ann Arbor is really, really...hillacious.  In the good-bad way.  A good training regimen for any runner who would like to get in a strength workout without actually hitting the gym knows that hills do just that.

I haven't really read too much about hill training, but I know it makes flat races a lot easier.  But there is a downfall:  pace slowdown.

If you do too much hills without getting in your speed workout, you lose elasticity in your legs and they "forget" how to hit it hard and fast.  They get used to moving slowly.

And the next time you get on a hill...the second you start feeling tired and start slowing down.

Gun it.