Friday, November 8, 2013

Twelves and Thirteens; A Shiny New PR

Week 6 of training is going well so far. All of my training runs have been in the 12 and 13 minute mile pace. After 8 workouts in a row in the 12s, last week I started hitting the 13s agan. I was disappointed at first, and a little confused. I felt like I was pushing myself but the results weren't there.

The last few weeks, the runs have been a quarter mile jog followed by a quarter mile walk, repeat 4 times until you hit 2 miles. This is actually a lower percentage of jogging than before, which was jog 90 seconds, walk 60 seconds. I like this much better though. It's easier to ignore the time and just look at distance. Then I don't obsess and I don't have any idea what my pace is. Once a few weeks ago (I was in Georgia for training) I pushed myself during my first mile and hit it at 12:01. I was gassed. The rest of the workout was torture and in the end my pace was standard. Lesson learned: not yet ready for 12 minutes flat as a pace.

So what changes pace so much on consecutive runs? Well, the answer turns out to be quite simple. When you're only going 2 miles total, something as little as a minute can really throw off the pace. In one case that minute was a stoplight. It made me realize this training isn't about exact paces. I'm just trying to put in the miles and finish this half in the time I feel is appropriate. By race day perhaps even that goal will be gone and my only real goal will be "just finish".

The good news is I'll finish the year with 2/3rds of my PR goals completed. On October 19th, for the Sherry Anderson 5K, I got a 38:14.65. That bested my previous top 5k by almost 2 minutes. I was too exhausted to really be proud. Nicky even crossed the finish line with me!

Another note about pace, thanks to the brilliant Thanks to the ease of using this site, I can look at my pace over the years. My first run was in 2007, and clicking through by months, I'm moving faster now than ever before. My previous best, spring 2011, I was averaging high 13s. Most of my past prolific months average out to 18 minute miles or so. Basically, I was walking. So now I really am onto something.

Tonight I do 2 miles at quarter/quarter, then tomorrow the fun gets funner. I have to jog a half mile then walk a quarter for three miles. In less than two weeks I'm supposed to jog 2 miles straight. Oh boy.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sub 3

Kacey and I have decided we want to finish in under 3 hours at the half. I checked to see what it would take for her to PR, and that would mean a 13:38 pace. That feels like something we can do, but I don't want to set too many expectations for my first half. Cool Running has a handy pace calculator that I used to figure this all out:

From the outside perspective (including me as I've never traversed more than 6 miles in one go) a minute and seventeen seconds seems like nothing. So why not change the goal from "under three hours" to "PR for Kacey"? We may do just that, but I need to get some long runs in first to see how manageable it is. Shaving off nearly 6 seconds per mile may not be as easy as it sounds.

The first week of training is complete. The pace on my 2-mile jaunts has been 13:05, 12:47, and 13:25 per mile. The week went by fast and it felt good to make each training. Saturday I felt very sluggish, hence the time difference. I'm not really worried about overall times right now, especially since these all include 5 minutes of walking warmups.

Tonight I did week 2 day 1. This involves more jogging but was actually my slowest time yet at 13:31 per mile! I have a good excuse though. First I stopped to take several pictures of the moon:

Then towards the end of the workout I found a jogging buddy and had to take a few pictures of him/her/holy hell get this thing away from me:

Good luck sleeping tonight!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day 1

Half training (as opposed to half-training, which is just lazy) started last night. We even managed to finally sign up. That makes it officially official. Kacey will be doing her 4th half marathon, I'll be doing my first. Excuse me while I go vomit. (Huuauaaaghhh - my son loves this sound) Speaking of the boy, he's signed up for the Leprechaun Dash, which is 26.2 yards. Yes, you will all die from cute.

My right hammy, right foot, and left knee are all a little crappy today. I'm trying to keep moving. Tomorrow is another painful training day.

Today's workout song is Flogging Molly:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Race Schedule and List of Pains

Training for the Shamrock Anthem Half Marathon starts a week from today. There are two local races that I've done before which happen to slot in quite well with the training. By doing both I'll also continue my trend of increasing my race total by one each year (this started in 2009).

First up is the Sherry Anderson Memorial 5k on October 19th. This is the fifth year of the race, and after missing it last year I'm anxious to do it again. This is the second year at a 3rd total location, but this race has a lot of meaning since it's what started this whole jogging thing for both Kacey and I. It takes place on a 2 mile day, but I figure a Saturday is a good time to go over miles a bit. I'm not going to attempt to PR, just shoot for the low 40s (between 13 and 14 minute miles).

On New Year's Eve I'll likely do the First Night 5k. We did this last year and attempted to bring Nicky. It would have been his first race. Instead Kacey had to bail and take him to eat. We arrived too early and I'm sure if we are in town and decide to bring him this year it will be successful. Thanks to my parents we now have a BOB (the jogging stroller, not the rapper). Therefore it's completely feasible to PR at this bad boy. I'll be 3 months into half training. My goals for the year involved getting PRs in the three races I've done before. I took care of the 8k and failed at 10k. I don't plan to do a 10k again this year, so it would be nice to go 2 out of 3 and get below 40 min at this race. After that I have three months until the half. Unless another interesting local race pops up between those two I just plan to train.

As I prepare to jump feet-first into the most running in my entire history ever, I can't help but think about the various parts of my body that have given me issues in the past when working out. The following isn't necessarily about what hurts the most now or in the past, but about what I most (1) to least (8) worry about when thinking about the upcoming workouts:

1. Lower back - 5 years of dealing with this thing

2. Left knee - Pain comes and goes, but sometimes it makes stairs quite difficult

3. Right foot - Left plantar was bad, so the twinges I'm feeling are worrisome

4. Right glute - Only when I jog, definitely a concern

5. Right knee - Feeling pretty good on the whole

6. Left foot - The plantar is long gone and so far has shown no signs of returning

7. Right shoulder - Still plenty messed up but doesn't affect jogging

8. Left ankle - Feels fine these days

Wow, that list makes me feel really old. None of these issues are slowing me down. That would be my own fault. In fact, jogging consistently is sure to alleviate instead of aggravate most of these minor concerns. Thankfully I plan to do just that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gotta Have Goals

What does it mean to set a goal? Sometimes I think of a goal and decide to go for it, and even in the excitement I feel the responsibility sliding off of me. In other words, I don't even take it seriously as it's being planned. This is a breakdown of my desire and my will. Those two things don't get along.

I've been following Sean Newell's excellent running blog on deadspin ( He's honest and struggling and doesn't frankly give a shit if you like his taste in music. It helps me to see others out there with the same internal battles.

Externally, though, is where the failure begins and ends. Actually running has become a huge step that I can't seem to climb. My son has learned to go up (and down!) stairs and in the last year I've actually used my Nike watch 47 times, mostly this past winter. Sadly, before I went to to verify the number of times, I actually would have guessed that it was lower. Points, perhaps, for not thinking I'm doing more than I am?

I'm Jesse Pinkman, vacillating between up-beat and beat the hell up. And perhaps we both will have redemption. Either way, let's call running my meth and a half marathon my Heisenberg.

So the title of my next phase in life is:

Andrew Runs A... What? Are You Sure? OK. Seems Pretty Stupid, But It's Your Choice. Andrew Runs A Half Marathon.

Whew, I feel better, don't you? I'm not gonna make a bunch of rules to break, because what's the point? My first half is 6 months away ( I'm following a 24 month program starting September 30th, the Digital Running plan (

I'll try to update more often during this process. Perhaps I'll share playlists. Perhaps I'll share wisdom. Perhaps I'll just type S.O.S. into a post each week.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

VA Beach Shamrock 8k

The music didn't stop.

My goal for this 8k was a bit of a moving target. When we first signed up, Nicky wasn't here yet and my dreams were lofty. My previous best 8k time, Shamrock 2012, was 1:25:59. Both 8ks in my name were of the walking variety, so PRing the race Saturday was a formality if ever there was one when myself and running are the topic. I mostly planned to follow the advice we saw on a bumper sticker: Start slow, then back off.

My mix was designed with a healthy PR in mind. This winter I had pretty much decided on 1:10:00 as my goal. It's nearly 16 minutes better than my old PR, and would mean 14 min/mile. Therefore, when selecting music, I was happy when I made a 1:09:00 mix. That meant when Jay-Z was over, I would have less than a minute to finish under my goal.

Race weekend arrived, and my nerves took over. Doubting my ability to get under 1:10:00 I decided to not think about it and just make sure I PRd.

Kacey helped me get ready and came with me. After saying goodbye to my in-laws, the reality washed over me and the seriousness kicked in. We left the hotel, and everything felt right. Here I was, as every race day, with Kacey. Only now we have a kid in tow. We did our first race, the Sherry Anderson 5k, in 2009. Kacey caught the bug a little before me, but since then we've had so many wonderful race days together. She's my inspiration.

But still, the miles. Two miles in, with a 12:24 pace, I thought there was no way I could keep it up. But instead I went faster. My walk breaks were frequent, but I never strolled. An old friend proved a good pacer in the first half, and I have a random couple to thank for helping me keep it going for the last three miles. We kept passing each other, but eventually I was spending more time in front. And at the end they were dust. But damn, they helped. The guy had his name on his shirt, but I forgot it. Thank you both, whoever you are.

In the end, I crossed at 1:00:13, 12:07 a mile. Slow by the standards of many, but way beyond my expectations. Nearly half an hour better than my best, and a better pace than my best 5k.

From Macklemore to Paul Simon, B.o.B. to the Deftones, the music kept me going. And after one skipped track, I crossed the finish line to Jerk-Off by Tool. I never even made it to my planned race ender, Empire State of Mind.

What I accomplished was hard. Surgery in August, a new baby boy. But it's nothing at all compared to what Kacey did then and this weekend. I look forward to her recap.

This weekend solidified my love of races. We run for health. We run to finish. We run, walk, jog, and stumble over the finish line. Some keep their heads down, in the zone. Others dress up and laugh the whole time. We're all runners. And I know that now, because I can't stop dreaming about more race days with our new little family of three.

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's been an interesting 4 months since I last posted. Nicky will be 6 months old soon. That thought makes my head spin.

So my goals for 2013 have mostly been thrown out the window already. I haven't been wogging (walk/jogging) as much as I should. But at this point I'm not going to worry about it. According to, which is a GREAT site for geeks to check running stats, I've logged 30 miles this year with my Nike+. That's more than 1/3 of 2012, so at least I'm on pace to improve! Besides that, though, my chances of making 365 Nike+ miles isn't great, and due to sheer annoyance I've stopped logging my steps. I still wear my pedometer every day, though, and try to do well.

New 2013 goals:

1: Same as before, PR 5k, 8k, and 10k. More on that below.
2: Kacey and I keep a file of all the races we do, along with our times and PRs. Perhaps I've forgotten a race or two along the way, but according to my records I did 1 race in 2009, 2 in 2010, 3 in 2011, and 4 in 2012. So obviously I need to do 5 or more this year.
3: Most Nike+ miles ever in a single year. My current record is 207 in 2010. Shashrun is amazing, as I said earlier, but it's also depressing. My yearly mileage went down in 2011 and then again in 2012. I haven't always used a Nike product to run or walk, but I'm guessing reality follows behind.
4: Get below 206 pounds. More on that below as well.

Shamrock Marathon is this weekend in VA Beach. I'm going for an 8k PR, which will be easy as long as my feet don't just implode beneath me. My best 8k time, and this will be my third, is 1:25:59 (17:18 a mile). My goal this weekend is to get around 14 minutes a mile, so 1 hour 10 minutes or better. I should be able to do that, because yesterday I did a 5k at 39 minutes (very unofficially) which would be my 5k PR by a full minute. That gives me confidence that getting my 5k PR this year will be very much in reach.

A month from now is the Monument Ave 10k in Richmond, VA. I'm hoping for a PR then too, which will mean under 14 minutes per mile. If I don't do it there, I'm gonna have to try and make it to the Wicked 10k in October. If I'm successful, that will leave the rest of the year to PR a 5k.

Kacey and I are doing the 24-hour diet. That's what I'll call it, anyway (she touches on it here). So even though my workouts have been close to nonexistent, we've both been losing weight. We spend most of the week eating well, staying away from soda or dessert or too much of anything. We try to eat mostly clean. Then each weekend we choose a 24-hour period where basically anything goes. We've reigned it in to the point where we just have a dessert or two and eat a little more than normal, usually at restaurants. This helps us lose weight week to week while still being able to eat some bad things. I've been very happy with it, because I can turn down dessert or pizza knowing just a few days from that moment I can have what I want. It helps, and has gotten me out of my funk/plateau. My funkteau.

I try to weigh in each Saturday morning around 8am. This past weekend I was 223.6. Back in 2011, with the Largest Loser competition at a local gym, I think I got as low as 228 before jumping back up to the 260s. Each week now, as long as I am lower than the week before, marks my lowest weight since 2003-2004. I briefly reached 206 pounds back then. Before that I'm thinking it's been since high school, so nearly 20 years, since i was below 200. So 206 is a milestone, but under 200 is my main goal. With more than 9 months left in the year, I just want to get to 205 or below. If I can keep losing weight while not being completely obsessed about food, I'll be able to do it and possibly a little more.

I'm worried that my training (or lack of) will hurt me this weekend. But I keep reminding myself that I walked the 8k last year with only a little more training, and I was 40 pounds heavier. I let some time get away from me this year, but I'm gonna keep moving and aim to make jogging a regular part of my life. And soon enough, Nicky will be joining us in races!