15 
I am now about to finish the 10th week of marathon training. Today I ran my longest distance yet - 15 miles. I was a little nervous and intimidated about today's run going back a day or two but today I woke at 5:45 and did my stretches, had 1.5 cups of coffee and half a banana, and went out and ran the 15. I felt a great deal of accomplishment after I finished and the 20 miler that's scheduled for Easter weekend and that I've been fretting about seems possible now.

My goal for the run today was 2:22:30 (9:30 pace) and I finished in 2:25:23 which isn't too bad. It's not going to win me any awards but running 15 miles at a 9:41 is what it is and it isn't sitting on a couch saying "I need to get in shape."

As I've said before, there's a big difference between "I will" and "I should."


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99 
A few weeks ago, I registered for a marathon. I'll be running Pittsburgh 100 days from today which means 99 more days of training are ahead. This week will mark the conclusion of four weeks of training.

So far, the training hasn't been difficult as the distances involved aren't a challenge for me. Week five has the first double-digit long run and that will be the norm for the rest of the training. The plan I'm following comprises of four runs a week, one of which is the long run over the weekend. This long run will gradually increase to 20 miles on Easter weekend and then taper down until the big day in May. During the week, the runs will be two short (three, increasing to five) bookending a medium (increasing to ten); two rest days and a cross-training day round out the week.

Two glitches have come about: the weather and my knee. The weather hasn't forced me to miss any runs yet as the townships have done a sufficient job plowing their sections of the bikepath. However, I aggravated my knee last week and runner's knee has flared up again. It's not enough to stop me from running but I do need to stretch often and am going to PT again to get it worked out. This is my second bout with it.

Will I be ready? The weather will get better, eventually, so it's just the knee that I need to work out. The distances don't intimidate me as long as my body is tuned properly.


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Log 
I ran 692.16 miles in 2010.

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Conquered the Mountain 
I did it; by my watch: 46:20 up and 44:18 down. The official results are four seconds not in my favor but it doesn't affect anything really. About 1/3 of the runners finished behind me - a number I expected. Runs with the word "mountain" in them bring out the hard-core runners. I held my own in this crowd.

The biggest worry was my knee. I have a minor case of runner's knee and I was concerned that after the race, I'd have to shut things down for the rest of the year. The funny thing is that going down the mountain is harder on the knee than going up and while I haven't run since the race yet, the knee is doing ok. I'll take it easy for the rest of the year - probably no more than another 50 miles - and decide on which marathon to run in 2011.

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Go Tell it on the Mountain 
I am running in the South Mountain 10 miler next Sunday. Why? Why not. The challenge is obvious: a 636 foot ascent over a two mile span. The hill begins around mile two and is done by mile four so at least it's out of the way early. Since the half in September, I have been running about 15 miles a week: two short (3-5 miles each) during the week and a longer run on the weekend 6.2-9 miles). After this run, I am going to pare it down some and maybe settle in at ten miles a week or so - three running days - 3, 3, and 4 (as of now I am at 597 miles logged for the year and my goal was >600). I will definitely do, at minimum, another half in the spring. I want to run a marathon next year but haven't completely convinced myself that I am ready. I may try a marathon as early as spring but I am not willing to commit yet. I will ride this year out and decide by the end the year - whether I do two 13.1 milers or a half and a full next year.

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Half-Marathon: Recap 
The training plan I followed was a 12 week plan and I stuck to it pretty well. The plan calls for three or four days of running, a stretch and strengthen day, two cross-training days (or one if you run four days), and a rest day. Of the running days, two were moderate, starting at three miles and working up to five and one was the “long” run – starting at four and up to 10 (11 in my case). Cross-training consisted entirely of biking.

I had to jostle some days around but I only skipped one day – in the 11th week I took two consecutive rest days to prepare myself for the longest run of training - 11 miles. Earlier in the training, the third week, the heat wave came in – 98º, 101º, 99º, 93º, 91º but I did my runs early and cut them short by a 1/2 mile. Then, the heat continued through most of July with 15 days at 90º or above. But, really, it wasn't too hard to deal with it. I had most of my runs done by 8-8:30 during those hottest days.

Around week 10 I started to feel some discomfort in my left knee. It wasn't enough to stop and it didn't hurt; maybe a .5 on a 1-10 scale. Quad and hamstring stretches helped but the discomfort never really disappeared. The knee was my biggest concern going into the race.

I maintained my regular diet as well: beef no more than once a week (and probably less than that), lots of fruits and vegetables, wheat pasta, wheat bread, and wheat tortillas, salads with every meal, watched the sodium and sugar. Protein was mostly from beans, chicken, pork, turkey, peanuts, peanut butter, and the occasional PowerBar (maybe half-dozen total; they go well with iced coffee post-run). I did not lose any weight during training although my body fat was measured at 5.2% in late July.

During the entire training, nary a drop of rain fell on me. Which, of course, meant that race day would be a soaker and it was. The rain wouldn't normally be a problem but since the course had long stretches of dirt and cinder, it was muddy. In hindsight, the mud wasn't too bad but, like many runners I'm sure, I had purchased new shoes for the race. Mine had about 50 miles on them which is enough to break them in for a special event.

The course had some bottlenecks at the beginning but once we moved off Sand Island it thinned out and then continued to do so. By mile five I had established my own personal space and felt comfortable. It felt like I was running alone too which is a-ok by me. People were passing me and I was passing others but there was plenty of space to pass from the half way point on.

From about mile four to mile seven or so, I worked up to a two-hour pace but was unable to hold it. Those two little hills at Hugh Moore put an end to the sub-two hopes. Personally, I feel a 2:03 for a first half-marathon is very good.

In short, I found it much easier than I though it would be. Before the race, I broke the course down mentally into segments. Segment one was the start to Freemansburg, the second was Freemansburg to the boat launch, then boat launch to Hugh Moore, and lastly HMP to the circle. I thought this would help me as I could view it as several small runs all in a row, in case I got into trouble. It turns out that I never really paid attention to the segments. I just kept going.

Finishing in just over two hours makes it easy to pick my goal time for my next half in the spring. I'll be ready.

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Via Half-Marathon 
I did it; 2:03:30. My goal was 2:08 and the race was easier than I anticipated. I was on a sub 2:00 pace for a while but lost it around mile eight and that was it. Since it hasn't rained much over the past view months, it was a given that today would be a soaker and it was. The heavy rain stopped about an hour into my run but that didn't matter because of the mud. Nonetheless, I feel good.

My next half-marathon will be in the spring and the goal time is obvious.

By the way, the chart on the previous post is a Pittsburgh Half-Marathon.

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The Proof 
I ran a 5K this morning and set an PR - 26:10. While that brought some joy the real joy today came not from the time but from another number.

After I picked up my packet, I got on the Tanita TBF-300A and then the woman gave me the little printout. My body fat percentage read 5.2% which means I have about seven pounds of fat on my body. These results were recorded and after the race was done, awards would be given for lowest percentage. I beat the winners of every age group except mine. They stacked the deck and snuck in a ringer who came in at 3.8%. Ok, maybe it wasn't a conspiracy but the man who won my group did come in at 3.8%. Women, by the way, have higher BF percentages than men.

When I saw the number, I knew it was good but I didn't know it was that good. That reading really gave me a mental boost and probably is what pushed me to an 8:26 pace.

The race featured about 150 runners.

In a pool of runners my body fat percentage is exceptional. Compared to the rest of the population, I'm top tier. Hard work pays off. I may sound vain but I am really proud of myself for all I've accomplished in the past two years. Start small, work yourself up, and be persistent.

Update - Hardbody contest results are here.

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Facebook 
I caved. It was a good fight and I held out as long as I could. Now I can be friends with people I'm friends with. I can also see who's got extra lumber and whose kingdom is being pillaged by marauders.


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37 Minutes 
In my previous post I mentioned that my average workout for the first half of this year was approximately 37 minutes long. Within the average day, those 37 minutes make up about 2.5% of the day. Inverse that, and that means one can spend an average of 97.5% of the day not exercising and still put in quality workouts that garner results over a period of time.

For example, in 37 minutes I know I can:

- run four miles
- bike six at slightly above leisurely pace
- get a basic weightlifting workout in
- walk about 2.5 miles

Swimming: I don't swim for exercise but my guess is that 37 minutes of doing laps, at any pace, isn't a bad workout. In fact, 37 minutes of any constant movement forward is probably a good workout [yeah, sounds funny, I know; [insert your own sexual innuendo joke here if that pleases you]].

Seriously, though, take 37 minutes out your day and see what you can do. You may be surprised. You may start slow like I did, but improvement will come if you persist. Believe me, I know, and about 1/39th of your day is all it takes.

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By The Numbers 
For the first six months of 2010, I have:

- run 299.85 miles in 48:20 for an average pace of about 9:40. The first 150 have been faster than the second 150.

- biked 248 miles in 21:55

- done 123 workouts in a total of 75 hours. That works out to be about 37 minutes per workout. This includes walks and lifting weights too.

For the next six months, I hope to increase these numbers. I am also quite satisfied that I am well above what the average American puts into fitness. I am also ahead of the masses in diet too as I effectively manage salt, sugar, and beef intake. If you see me about, give me a big "atta boy!" Vanity? There's nothing wrong with it as long as you can back it up.

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Another PR 
I ran the Freedom to Liberty race this morning in 35:12; a PR for four miles, besting the 36:36 I put up a while ago through the neighborhood. I didn't expect a PR today but I did it. There were no markers on the course so I don't have splits.

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