Saturday, February 24, 2007

Week of February 18-24

Sun: Run 6 miles (50 minutes)
Mon: 45 min ZLS & 2 mile run (18 min)
Tue: 10.5 miles (89 min) with 6x800 @ interval pace (3:00-3:10)
Wed: 40 min ZLS
Thur: 40 min ZLS
Fri: 2.5 mile (21min) & 40 min ZLS
Sat: 22.5 mile long run on hills (3:16)

Run: 43.5 miles (6 hrs 13 min)
ZLS: 2 hrs 45 min (approximate 14 miles)

A trying week. Participating in the NASA study on the Zero-Gravity Locomotion Simulator (ZLS) was not what I expected. The load placed on me has caused sore feet and the residual effect carried over to my run training. I'm going to have to decide if continuing with the study is in my best interest.

20 miles on hills at Hinckley is usually a milestone training run. This one just beat me up from the get-go. I dealt with that sore feet feeling from the start and it was huge mental game just to complete.

Next week I hope to start hitting the trails more often.

This is too cool

New Carlos Jones video from a 2005 concert. "Leave a trail" of peace and love...

Thanks for the shout out, Los. Irie!

Leave A Trail 2

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

4,000 miles across the Sahara Desert... 111 days!

This story is amazing. (AP coverage)

Meet Charlie (U.S.), Ray (Canada), and Kevin (Taiwan). (Link to Bios)

National Geographic's coverage of Running the Sahara.

These three men averaged 36 miles a day for 16 straight weeks. I can't get past the brutal desert conditions of this feat.

Click on this map for more information about the route.

3 ultra-athletes run across Sahara
By Anna Johnson, AP

IN THE WESTERN DESERT, Egypt - Three ultra-endurance athletes have just done something most would consider insane: They ran the equivalent of two marathons a day for 111 days to become the first modern runners to cross the Sahara Desert's grueling 4,000 miles.

"It will take time to sink in ... but this is an absolutely once in a life time thing. They say ignorance is bliss, and now that I know how hard this is, I would never consider crossing the Sahara on foot again," said American runner Charlie Engle, 44, hours after he and the others completed the run at Egypt's Red Sea.

Engle said he, Canadian Ray Zahab, 38, and Kevin Lin, 30, of Taiwan, ran the final stretch of their journey that took them through the Giza pyramids and Cairo to the mouth of Suez Canal on four hours of sleep. Once they hit the Red Sea, they put their hands in the water to signify crossing the finish line.

"We touched the water in Senegal at the beginning, and we touched the water in the Red Sea at the end. They were the bookends of our journey," Engle, of Greensboro, North Carolina, said on the telephone from a hotel room in Cairo.

In less than four months, they have run across the world's largest desert, through six countries — Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and finally Egypt.

A film crew followed them, chronicling the desert journey for actor Matt Damon's production company, LivePlanet. Damon plans to narrate the "Running the Sahara" documentary.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Test subject: Part 1

On Monday, I started participation in a 3-week NASA sponsored study.

The study is part of a larger project with the purpose of developing exercise programs for prolonged space travel. My task is to run on the Zero-Gravity Locomotion Simulator (ZLS) for a specified duration over the course of 12 visits. I'm to be suspended by a harness and a series of cables in order to run on a vertical treadmill at varied levels of gravity.

After Day One, the experiment is nothing what I expected. I was misled by the whole "Zero-gravity" label. What sounded fun and exciting in reality is a difficult chore. The research engineer who is running the experiment failed to advertize that running on the ZLS is equivalent of carrying a 55 pound backpack. The opposite of Zero-Gravity, if you will.

The daily task is to run 30 minutes at 100% body weight, along with a short warm-up and cool-down. A thirty-minute run. Piece of cake for a marathon runner, right? Wrong. I am allowed to break up the 30 minutes into smaller parts in order to meet the required time allotment. My thoughts were, "what for?" Long story short, I lasted a whole 11 minutes before I needed to take a break. I finished the day's testing with two more segments of 10 and 9 minutes each.

Whew, I'm sore. The workout was more strength training in nature, rather than aerobic. This morning I feel it in my glutes, quads, shins, and calves. I wonder what 3 weeks of this kind of workout will do for my running.

I dread that there's 11 more sessions to go over the next 18 days. I'm toast.

(Test subject running on the ZLS. Photo credit: Sara Novotny)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Week of February 11-17

Sun: Run 5 miles
Mon: Swim 2000 yards
Tue: Snowed in
Wed: Run 6
Thur: Run 8 (with 3mi at Tempo pace)
Fri: Run 3 (with 4x strides)
Sat: Run 11.5 long run (1:45)

Run: 33.5 miles (4 hrs 51 min)
Swim: 2000 yards (44 min)

The blizzard of Monday-Tuesday changed up the weekly schedule. Tuesday's run was cancelled due to the storm and accumulated snow and the final hill workout never happened. The bitter cold and snowy surfaces continued throughout the week. I turned to the treadmill on Thursday for my first tempo run of the year. Ran about 20 minutes, or 3 miles, of T-pace at about 6:50 pace. The heart rate was pegged a bit higher than normal, but it comes as no surprise as my fitness is still relatively low at this juncture of the season. A few more weeks of tempo running and I imagine I will show an improvement from this week's fitness level.

The Midwest region is still under an extended cold spell. Saturday's run in 20F felt relatively balmy compared the previous few weeks. I'll be happy with anything over 15F, okay?

I look forward to a better running week, capped off with a long Sunday run at the local marathon proving grounds known as Hinckley.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Snowed in

That day finally came. Its too brutally cold, snowy, and windy to go outside.

Over the cold spell of the past couple weeks, I've toughed it out and managed to run entirely outdoors. Yet tonight was just too wicked. It snowed all day and the winds gusts picked up to 30+mph this evening. Even my normally hardy Tuesday running group cancelled. It was impossible to drive to River.

Tonight's run: 200 meters, about 80 seconds. I tromped down my street in 6+ inches of blowing snow and could have used snowshoes. Into the wind with near white-out conditions, it would have been hard to maintain any sort of steady pace. I made it halfway down my street and turned around.

Considering I ran last week in 0F with -27F windchill and survived, the added element of blowing snow sealed the deal.

I'm snowed in!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Week of February 4-10

Sun: rest
Mon: Run 5 miles
Tue: Run 9.25 (with 8x 90 second hill repeats)
Wed: Run 4 & swim 1800 yds
Thur: rest
Fri: Run 5 (with 4x strides)
Sat: Run 19 long run (2:43)

Run: 42.25 miles (6 hrs 8 min)
Swim: 1800 yards (39 min)

Its been quite the cold spell here. The temps stayed sub-15 degrees all week. Once again, all runs outside as I'm finding it a hassle to drive 2 miles back and forth the Y to use the treadmill.

The highlight of the week was the long run. For the second consecutive Saturday, it became the longest run of the year. Easy 9min pace with the group for the first 12 miles and then picked it up to normal easy 8min pace for last 7 miles. A substantial run where I felt that good fatigue at the end. The group heading to Boston is a hearty and dedicated bunch. No sloughing off when training with them, even in single-digit temperatures.

For the first time this year, I did not enjoy the swim and just felt lazy in the water. After 20 minutes I was ready to go, but I wanted to at least keep the "one mile per week" streak in tact. Barely.

Next week is the last week of hill repeats and no long run. The local Chili Bowl 5k on Saturday. If the weather cooperates, I'll race as a time trial to see where my current fitness stands on the VDOT chart.

Friday, February 09, 2007

April Fool's FA

I have an idea swirling around in my head for an April 1st Fat Ass trail run. I'll use this post to formulate the plan.

The initial notion is a multiple loop course starting from the Pine Hollow parking lot (off Quick Rd.) in the southern part of the Cuyahoga Valley. Naturally, the popular loop combining the Salt Run and Cross Country Trails will constitute one of the loops.

Many of my favorite trails are in the Virginia Kendall area, including the Ledges. If nothing else, at least the name Fool's FA sounds cool.

Starting and ending at Pine Hollow parking lot (click for google map):

Loop A - Salt Run, Lake, and Cross Country Trails. Approx 6.15 miles. This loop provides just about the max elevation change you can get in the Cuyahoga Valley. One of my favorite runs, I just wish it wasn't so far from home.

Loop B - Approx 10.7 miles. Lake Trail, connect to Ledges Trail, connect Haskell Run across 303 to Boston Run Trail. Return via Haskell to complete the Ledges Trail. On return trip, loop the Pine Grove trail and return to Kendall Lake and complete the Lake trail.

Working on more.

Virginia Kendall Map

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sunday Brunch

Part of the Cleveland I know takes place once a year near West 58th and Detroit at the Parkview Tavern.

It seems like yesterday when I moved to Lakewood and met my roomie Peter Platten for the first time. The very first weekend we met he invited me down to see his band at the annual Bob Marley birthday brunch and the rest has been history. I've been of Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band ever since.

I recall a few of my Cleveland firsts on that day. First time seeing Los and the PLUS Band. First Great Lakes Beer. It was a Burning River Pale Ale--a favorite beer to this day.

Something I'll always remember about that day is the sweet soothing voice of Carlos and how the roots music took control. The groove grabbed hold and I found my body involuntarily dancing. Over the years, nothing's changed. Carlos brings it, every time.

According to Peter, this marks the 12th year of the Parkview show. Although I've only been round town for a few years, I do know that this Sunday brunch has become a wildly popular gig. I'll be there. And (hopefully) new this year: No smoking! Okay, I'm holding my breath.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Week of January 28 - February 3

Sun: Run 10 miles (89 minutes)
Mon: Swim 2000yds (44 min)
Tue: Run 9.5 (91); with 6x 90sec hill repeats
Wed: Run 5 (42)
Thur: Run 8.25 (72); cooled-down with 4x strides
Fri: Rest
Sat: Run 15 (119)

Run: 47 miles, 5 runs (6 hrs 54 min)
Swim: 1.1 miles, 1 swim (44 min)

From start to finish, a frigid week. Never above 20F. Here are the temperatures I ran in: 15F, 15F, 18F, 20F, and 6F. Tuesday's run was in a blizzard and a foot of fresh powder snow. My four wickedly motivated Soler friends, all heading to the Boston Marathon, are on the fourth week of the Benji Durden Marathon Plan. Tuesdays call for hill repeats, and despite the blowing snow, they were not denied. Back in December I intended to train along with these Solers with hope for a marathon PR at the Glass City Marathon. The injury set me back a few weeks. With less than optimal preparation time remaining for an April marathon, I've abandoned Glass City and I'm now concentrating on the June Mohican goal.

I know. A big jump in milage from the 32 of last week. Only had 10 planned for Saturday, but after bowing out of the Dirty Dog 10K I ended up with the faster group for a little longer run in the Metropark. Revved up and ready to race on this day, I dropped in a couple tempo pace miles at the end. It felt wonderful to open up the pace, even if the two pairs of pants weighed me down. Miles 13 and 14 in 7:01 and 6:50. While I didn't feel the need to race in 5F temps, I heard from those who did that I missed a fun time.

The good news is that I completed another pain-free, 5-run week and now I can allow myself to look forward.

Bull Run Run is now only 10 weeks away and falls on the same weekend as Boston. As long as I'm healthy, I'll continue to train along with the Durden followers and and see what kind of result that brings. The intent is to use the 50 miles of Bull Run to get ready for Mohican.

I'm amazed how quickly January has come and gone. Now that I have a couple weeks of decent progress, I imagine that I will soon trot out a few 2007 goals.