Tuesday, April 29, 2008

15 Will Get You 20!

A Couple of Runner Dudes!

I was thinking big this week for running. But underlying it all, I was thinking of a 20 mile run or bust. It was something that I had to do or my confidence going into the marathon would not be too good.

I had several short runs around town during the week that amounted to about 12 miles. What I was focused on the whole week was doing a solid 20 miles in Mill Creek Park on Saturday. Taylor and I got up early on Saturday and made it to the park by about 8:15. It was somewhat cool but I knew it was going to warm up fast.

The run would consist of two loops from Lanterman’s Mill to 224 and back. Each loop is 9 miles and then I would add the hills for the last 2 miles. In my mind, this would add a little challenge and a little fun to my legs at the end of the run.

Taylor started out going the opposite direction again and would run around to me. I was planning on running conservatively after last weekends “bonk”. I did not want to go too fast and feel like crap at the end. The weather was perfect. It was sunny, cool, breezy, and occasionally the sun would go behind the clouds and things would cool off. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

I traveled along without much trouble and enjoyed seeing countless runners, cyclists, dog walkers and everyone else out using the park. I thought about how many times I had made this run in the dead of winter with absolutely no one else around. Now that it is spring, people have once again discovered the beauty of the park.

Before I knew it Taylor was coming the other way towards me and soon he turned around to join me going in my direction. We ran together to the edge of the golf course and soon he was gone as fast as he came. I plodded along. As I ran along with other people on the hike/bike trail, I came upon Tom Gratonic and his daughters out running. Tom is the Branch Manager at the Davis YMCA and I have known him for years. He is also a very good local runner. I was stopped eating some GU and he asked me what I was up to. I told him I was about 5 miles into it and had about 15 more to go. He wished me well and I was on my way.

I ran easily back along Lake Newport and made my way back to the car in about 1 hr. 21 minutes or about 9 minute miles. Just perfect I thought for pace. I fueled at the car, talked to Taylor a bit and then headed back out in the opposite direction. Taylor chose to run towards Lake Cohasset and run some hills and maybe catch up to the McDonald high school boys. I ran along Newport and again enjoyed the weather. It had warmed up some but was still nice overall.

Once I got to the hike/bike trail I was amazed at how many people were now on this thing. It was almost hard to run without saying excuse me while squeezing between people. It was really great to see this many people out exercising!

Soon I was back over by the golf course and caught myself watching a foursome tee off. I jogged along watching where the ball landed and thinking it was a pretty good drive. I reached Shields Road and crossed over and immediately got onto an old trail I ran on years ago. I followed it and came out by the Newport boat docks. Back onto the road I ran into another guy who asked me if I was going all the way around the lake. I said, “no, just to the Mill”. He smirked and ran with me for a bit before picking it up and leaving me behind.

Just as I approached the Mill for the last time, Taylor was again coming back around toward me and asked how I was feeling. My left leg had started to cramp and I was starting to feel the 18 miles. I was not going to let a little stiffness stop me so we crossed Canfield Road and made our way down towards Chestnut Hill.

We talked and ran easily as Taylor had probably covered about 23 miles already. Just prior to reaching Chestnut Hill, a trail cuts off to the right and we took it. We got on the trail and ran along the river until we reached the Silver Bridge. After crossing over the bridge we ran along the road and got back on the trail at the bottom of the Monkey Trail. We ran along the other side of the river again all the way up to the decking. Once we reached the deck, we decided to walk up to the car and use this last bit as a cool down.

I was tired but not exhausted. I had covered 20 miles in about 2 hrs. 54 minutes so I was pretty happy with this. My goal is to be under 4 hours for the marathon so I think that is very attainable.
20 Mile Foot "OUCH!!!!!"

On Sunday the stiffness in my right leg had gotten worse so I elected to walk with my wife. We strolled around town for about 2 miles and my leg felt somewhat better. We also traveled to Seton Hill on Sunday to watch Kyrsti be inducted into the Honor Society. After the ceremony, we went to the Texas Roadhouse and indulged with a huge lunch/dinner. I was still full Monday morning! Kyrsti with her Honors Award

Here are the numbers:
34 miles for the week
290 minutes of running
Long Run 20 miles
Weight before long run = 198
Weight after long run = 194

This week I hope to get my left leg loosened up and do a 15 mile run with hills to give a little extra effort! Nice and slow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Month to Go.......

Week 14 went okay. I planned on doing about 35 miles and ended up with 33. I had several short runs around town early in the week and had planned on a 20 mile run on Saturday morning on the Bike Trail in Champion. My son Taylor decided to join me as he too wanted a long run.

The plan was to start mid-way on the bike path, run out 7.1 miles to route 305, and then turn around and head back to the car (14.2 miles). We would then re-fuel etc. and head in the opposite direction and run 3.2 miles to route 88 and turn around for a total of 20.6 miles. I had never been on this trail and thought it would be a good way to track my miles. What I did not take into consideration was the lack of tree coverage this early in the spring and the temperatures rising to nearly 80 degrees.

We started out slowly and planned on running a moderate pace. After about a ½ mile, Taylor said he was going to run his pace and pulled away from me. I plodded down the bike path looking at all the swamp land and bare trees next to the trail. This was about it for scenery. It all looked the same. The trail is essentially a straight, flat line with nothing really to look at and NO MILE MARKERS. I knew this was going to be a long day after the first few miles.

When I got to about a mile or so away from route 305, I saw Taylor coming the other way. He got to me and decided he would turn around and run back with me to 305. W jogged and talked about the run, lack of scenery and the excess of bugs. Not a good combination! We reached 305 in 1:01.00 and I was pretty happy with the pace, about 8:30 or so and I had taken two pee breaks so all in all not too bad. My left hamstring was tight so I sprawled out on the picnic table and stretched out.

After a few minutes we were on our way back. Taylor pulled away and I told him I would see him at the next turn around. I jogged along by myself and started to notice how hot it had become. There were parts of the trail that were completely in the sun and were very hot. After a few miles I saw Taylor standing by the trail stretching out. He said he was cramping and so he jogged along with me for a while. Then once again, he pulled away and I plugged along.

Somewhere in the next mile or so I got attacked by a swarm of little black bugs and one of the little kamikaze’s crashed into my eyeball – a direct hit. I was paralyzed. This little bugger not only hit his target but felt like he was digging in. I stopped and started to try and dig him out. The harder I tried the worse it got. I was starting to worry that he was going under my contact! As I walked and dug, a cyclist coming the other way happened by and could tell from my body language and facial expressions that something was wrong. He stopped and helped and after a few moments the pesky invader was removed ~ still alive and kicking until I squashed the little perpetrator between my fingers. I thanked the guy over and over!

I started running again but the temperatures were increasingly warming up. I was now covered in salt and just about out of fluids. I moved along slowly thinking about the water and drinks in the car. After 1:06.00 I returned to the car to find Taylor sitting in the shade under the shelter. I asked him how he felt and he said “it’s a four letter word that starts with an s and ends with t” We decided we were both done for the day. I returned home, showered and felt nauseous for the rest of the day. I was totally dehydrated and three pounds lighter than when I left in the morning.

Just when you think you’re done, good things happen. Saturday afternoon my friend Brian Musick calls and asks if I want to run on Sunday. I say yes and we agree to meet at West Branch State Park for an enjoyable paced run.

After meeting in the parking lot of the West Boat dock, Brian says he thought he saw blue blazes on a tree down the road and we can pick up the Buckeye Trail from there. Neither of us had run this section of the BT so we decided it will make a worthy adventure. Just in the first few miles we found a dead snake, a vertebral column out of a deer, a slug and a whole bunch of mud and water. It was a great time. The trail is in very good shape and has about 10 creek crossings, each that present a different challenge.

We ran along until the trail reached a road and we followed the blazes up the road for a short while. When we realized the trail was going to stay on the road longer than we would have liked, we decided it would be a good time to turn around. We ran the trail back to the car and enjoyed crossing the creeks and the mud all over again. There is something about when you know you are almost done that you stop worrying about getting wet and muddy and just run right through it. That’s just what I did. It was a blast!

We ended up covering 10 miles in about 2 ½ hours which was just what the doctored ordered after Saturdays crash and burn. It was fun, relaxing, soft surface and very enjoyable. Brian and I shared a beverage in the parking lot after the run and then headed home. All in all, it was a decent week.

Here are the numbers:
Miles Run 33
Long Run 14.2
Minutes Run 345
Scariest moment: Bonking at 14 miles 4 weeks before the marathon!
Goal this week: 20 miles or 3 ½ hours of running – whichever comes first!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Week 13 - You Know What I Mean!

Week 13 was good, but not as good as I had hoped. The week consisted of running in McDonald on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Each run was of about 4-5 miles and was run at about a 7:45 pace.

The “funny” of the week was on Saturday morning before leaving for Kyrsti’s track meet at Slippery Rock University. I told my wife Pam I was running to the bank and when I came back 35 minutes later she asked where I had been. I said that I “ran” to the bank in Girard. Anyway, it was a beautifully clear morning and I enjoyed running across the viaduct to the neighboring city.

At Slippery Rock Kyrsti ran in the 3000m Steeple Chase again and also the 1500m. She is not running the times she would like, but she smiles after each race and is happy to still be competing. Accompanying us on the trip to the “Rock” were my son Taylor and his friend Sophia and Kyrsti’s friend Paul. After the meet we all ate at Hoss’s in Grove City.

On Sunday the plan was to run 20 miles in Mill Creek. I decided I would run the section around Cohasset and Glacier and include the trip up Bear’s Den to add on a few extra miles. Once I reached the Mill I planned on going to 224 and back and that would be right around 20 miles.

Word to the wise……. Sometimes plans change.

I got out of the car to a steady cold drizzle and about 36 degrees. The Weather Channel showed no rain before I left the house, but here I stood in a weather vacuum of some sort as it steadily drizzled. No big deal I thought as I put the hat on along with the Under Armor jacket. I optimistically figured that it would quit and that it would clear up.

I made my way towards Glacier and my legs felt dead. I wanted to run the hillier section of the park while I was fresh and then enjoy the flats for the second half. I have done it the other way around before but it really sucks. I pressed on and after a while did not feel too bad. My legs were loosening some and I was feeling okay. The rain continued.

I was to Lake Glacier in no time and decided to visit Fellowship Gardens. They are getting prepared for the season but I was happy to find the bathroom open. Sometimes the littlest things bring joy in life. I made my way along and soon I was heading up Bear’s Den counting each step. I enjoy this part of the park but it is a difficult climb. In fact, it may be the hardest climb on the roads in the park. When I got to the top I detoured around the loop by the Bear’s Den Cabin and climbed out of the hole and back onto the main road. It rained on.

I ran along Cohasset and up Big Bear and made my way back to the car. I changed water bottles and took in a GU. I had in a little over 10 miles and was set for the run to 224. I started running and noticed that since I had stopped the discomfort in my right upper inner leg had come back. I had this pain about week or so ago but had not noticed it lately. I don’t know how to describe it other than something like “hip fatigue”. It doesn’t feel like a cramp or muscle pull, but just discomfort. I decided the flats at an easy pace may do it some good so I backed off the speed and focused on making my leg feel better.

I ran along the straight side of Lake Newport first and was watching the ducks and geese land and take-off on the water. It was great except for the fact that now the steady drizzle had turned into a mild downpour. Water was dripping off the brim of my hat and my leg wasn’t feeling any better. When I got to Shields Road, I had a decision to make. Go around to 224 or cut back and head towards the car. If I headed back I would have about 15 miles in. If I went to 224, I would get my 20. I opted for the conservative side as I don’t want to get sick or injured this close to the marathon.

I ran back to the car in the steady rain and finished the 15 miles in 2:09.00. I was happy with the time but more concerned about the way my leg was feeling. I decided stretching was in order when I got home. I will definitely be more vigilant about this for the next several weeks leading up to the race. Hopefully next week I will get in my 20, as I plan on at least 2 -20 mile runs before the marathon.

Here are the numbers:

32 miles for the week
349 minutes of running
Long run = 15 miles
Weight = 198 and feeling great!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Week 12 - 6 More Weeks Until Marathon!

Week twelve was a good week. I had planned on cutting back my mileage some after the 18 mile long run and 39 mile week. I took Monday off because my legs were pretty well spent. I decided to run Tuesday and went out for a 4 mile run in 34 minutes. My legs were heavy at the beginning but felt better the longer I ran. I started thinking I would have been alright to run on Monday. Lesson learned I suppose.

On Wednesday I ran another 4 miles in 33:00 around town. It was a warm day and I felt good. I have started to develop some tenderness in on the top of my right leg, kind of near the groin. It actually hurts more when I walk than when I run. Possibly overuse?

Thursday I chose to go on a walk with my wife around town and we managed about 2 miles at a leisurely pace. The walk felt good and by the end I thought I had worked the kinks out of my leg. Friday I got off work early and ran around McDonald again. I had things to do that evening so I figured I would get my run in before I ran out of daylight. This was probably my fastest run of the week as I covered 4 ½ miles in 34:00.

Saturday morning I ran in McDonald in the morning as I was traveling to Washington PA to watch Kyrsti run at Washington Jefferson College. I had bought a Tom Tom GPS on Friday night and decided to put it to the test. It performed flawlessly! Once again she competed in the 800 and the 3000m Steeple Chase.

Cameron Stadium Scoreboard - Washington Jefferson College

Kyrsti Running the Steeple Chase

Kyrsti ran so fast she blew her shoe off!

On Sunday my training schedule had a 12 miler planned for me. What better place than Mill Creek on a sunny Sunday morning is there to run? I packed the fuel and liquids and headed to the park. I was actually eager to run as 12 miles would seem like a breeze compared to the 18 miler the week before. I decided to make it a hard twelve and pick all the hills I could think of. I also decided to mix in some trails and some roads (maybe it would help with my leg).

I started out by running around Lake Glacier, and then headed towards the East Cohasset Trail. I then ran up towards the Mill and was grateful to find out that these bathrooms are now opened on the weekends in April. The water fountain is also again hooked up! I made my way down the trail and crossed over the second bridge. After some trail running I got back on the road and ran all the way to the top of Big Bear. I made my way down the decking and back onto the trails. I followed the trails towards the Silver Bridge and back onto the trails around the other side of Cohasset. I was running well and felt strong.

I made my way along this trail and realized that if I headed back to the car it would cut my run short. I followed the trail and passed Pioneer Pavilion and headed towards the car. As I ran by the car I was at about 70 minutes. I traveled up the road and decided to run Bear’s Den. What a better way to end a run than by climbing some more hills? I pressed up these hills and could feel the effort. I wasn’t going fast, but I was running. I now try to run every hill no matter how I feel. I got to where it leveled off and felt myself going faster. I prepared for the next hill and climbed it fairly well. I was now thinking about the fun of running back down these hills. I went up the last hill hard and turned around at the entrance to the Morley Pavilion.

I started going back towards the car and felt like I was on a roller coaster. I was running hard and kind of letting it all go. Usually I do not run down hills hard but today for some reason I was. I smiled as I poured down the hill. I was back to the car and stopped my watch at 1 hr. 35 minutes. I am guessing I averaged about 8:30 miles as I know a few points on the course I ran that are a mile but I try not to get all caught up in that.

Overall it was a good week of running. This upcoming week my long run will be 20 miles but I may go longer (22) if everything feels right.

The numbers:
Total Miles = 32
Long Run = 12 miles
Pace 8:00-8:45
Weight = 198 (but my pants are loose now!)
Fuel Intake (2 Hammer Gels on the 12 miler plus a bottle of Succeed) I had dried salt all over my face at the end of the run. I may need to start taking salt tablets on these longer runs with the weather heating up.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Some Pictures of Kyrsti's First Steeple Chase!

The press box at Carnegie Mellon's Gesling Stadium

This is an excellent facility located in downtown Pittsburgh. They have great seating, a wonderful track, and a great concession stand. We had a fantastic time this afternoon.
Start of the race Kyrsti running with Andra

Kyrsti coming around the track

Clearing the steeple

All smiles after the steeple chase!

Running the 800.

This Saturday we head to Washington PA for Washington and Jefferson College. Kyrsti will once again be doing the steeple chase and the 800. She has practiced all week and now knows how to actually "jump" over the steeple instead of jump off it. We are excited to see her progress!!!
Stay Posted!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Week 11 and doing fine!

Well week 11 turned out to be a good one. I got in 6 runs and managed to feel fine the whole week. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday were all 4 mile runs around town that were at a little faster pace. I tend to push the shorter runs a little harder to make them more interesting and challenging.

On Friday I treated myself to a nice trail run of 5 ½ miles at Mill Creek. The trails were almost clear of ice and I had no trouble navigating without wearing screwed shoes. It was great to get back on the trails and my legs needed a nice easy run on a soft surface. It was a little colder than I had thought but I still was running in shorts and it wasn’t too bad.

Saturday morning I ran around town again for 4 ½ miles. I chose to run early as we were traveling to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for Kyrsti’s first outdoor meet and I knew I wouldn’t feel like running when I got home. Kyrsti competed in her first ever Steeple Chase and she also ran in the 800 meters. She enjoyed the Steeple a lot but found out very quickly that one wrong step can land you in deep water. She fell in the water pit the first time around and had to run the next 2500 meters or so completely soaked. She kept a smile on her face and finished the race. We are very proud of her!

Sunday was the day for my long run. I had used Google Earth to map out a course that was exactly 18 miles. Starting at Lanterman’s Mill in Mill Creek Park to 224 and back on the roads was exactly 9 miles. By parking at the Mill, my car was at the half way point. I started out at a comfortable pace and it was cooler in the morning but the temperature was perfect for me. I wore shorts with a cool-max short sleeve shirt covered with my lightweight Under-Armor jacket. I was in a sweat about 15 minutes into the run so I was plenty warm.

My plan was to run counter-clockwise the first time around and then clockwise the second loop. Despite my best laid plans, as I was running the first loop my obsessive compulsiveness coupled with my perseveration dictated that I run the two loops in the same direction so I could more accurately measure my pace and how I felt at certain spots in the run. I broke the run down in my mind into 8 sections. From the Mill to Shields Rd. was the first section, Shields to the top of the Hike/Bike Trail on 224 was the second, from the bike trail to Shields Rd. was the third and from Shields back to the Mill was section four. By far the worst section was the second section which travels along the length of the Mill Creek golf course. Do all of this twice and you have 8 sections.

The first loop I covered in 1 hour 15 minutes for an 8:20 pace. I was pretty satisfied with this as I felt I was running pretty conservatively. I refilled my bottle and took in some fuel at the car and continued on my second loop. I was having a little tightness in my right upper leg but nothing that was too bad. I continued on my way and noticed about the time I reached Shields Rd. that the temperature was starting to warm up. I unzipped my jacket and contemplated taking it off. I thought better and kept it on as there were sections that the wind seemed colder than other sections. I made my way by the golf course and walked a bit to try and stretch out my stiffness.

When I reached the top of the Hike/Bike trail I felt that I had this run in the bag. I ran along smoothly and wasn’t feeling too bad. I said “hello” to a lot of the runners/walkers on the trail but noticed that not too many of the people would respond. So in the best Tronk way, I would say real loud as I would run towards them “GOOD MORNING!!!” Now they responded! I once told Brian Musick that no one refuses to say “hi” to Tronk in the park. I laughed as I ran down the yellow line looking for my next victim.

I got back to the car in 1 hour and 21 minutes for a 9:00 pace for the second 9 miles. I actually thought I had maintained a better pace than that but obviously I fell off somewhere. I was quite tired after 2 hours and 36 minutes of running and walked to my car to stretch out a bit before driving home. It was now close to noon and the sun was shining and blue skies were bright above my head. What a great day for a run.

I climbed into Elle and plugged in the iPod for the ride home. I cranked some Dave Mathews Band and it gave me a feeling that spring was here as I rolled down the windows so everyone could enjoy the tunes. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, I noticed my face was completely caked in salt, dried around my ears, my ears, my nose and cheeks. Those people on the bike trail must have thought I was crazy or something.

Oh well, I had a great week anyway. Here are the numbers:
Total miles = 39
Total minutes running = 360
Long Run = 18 miles (2:36.00)
Fuel consumption on the long run = 2 Power Bar gels, 1 pack Shot Blocks, 2 bottles of Clip 2, and a bottle of water and pack of peanut butter crackers on the way home.

Next week longer (short runs) if that makes sense and a meager 12 miler for distance run.