Throwback Thursday: May 24, 1991

This photo is from the first and until this upcoming Saturday, my last half marathon. The location is the finish line of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At the time, the Indy 500 Mini Marathon finished on the 2.5 mile oval. Today, the track is the turn-around point. I’m glad I got to run the event when it still finished at the most famous of all motor raceways.

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Just in case you’re wondering, that’s me in the yellow shorts. I’m staring down at that row of bricks and thinking about the history of this famous track as I cross them. Things were different back then. We didn’t have energy gels, GPS, MP3 players and other high tech devices. We did have Powerbars for energy and I took one along with me. See that monster watch on my wrist? That’s a Polar Heart Rate Monitor and if you look closely you can see the strap running across my chest. Now, that was as high tech as it got back then. That HRM tracked my heart rate, split times and had a clock. No distances logged. No GPS tracking. Not sure what that thing cost me back then but it was far from cheap. I can’t remember what I’m holding in my right hand. I think it’s a small portable AM/FM radio. I don’t think I used it that day though.

During my training phase for the Indy 500 Mini Marathon I messed up my knee while running on ice covered roads. I didn’t fall, but I guess all the slipping and sliding trying to keep my balance tore something in my left knee. After that training run I couldn’t run a block without terrible pain. This was in January or February of that year. I did discover I could ride a stationary bike without any knee pain. So from that day until just a few weeks before the race, I had multiple ultrasound and physical therapy sessions and spent hours riding a stationary bike to get ready. I seem to recall I started running again in early May. There was no way I was going to train up to the distance I needed to be fully ready. I did the best I could. That knee injury bothers me to this day. Not enough to stop me, but usually the day after a long run my left knee is a little painful but fine again after a day of rest.

On race day I knew I had to take it easy. My knee still wasn’t really at 100% yet and I wasn’t sure I could even make it to the finish. When I signed up, my goal was to finish in under two hours. I accepted the fact finishing close to two hours would be an accomplishment. It was a great experience and I enjoyed it very much. But what I remember most is at about the ten mile mark I was so hungry I could hardly stand it. Running past McDonald’s, Dairy Queen and Dunkin’ Donuts only made it worse. I needed food BAD! That last two miles on the motor speedway seemed to take forever. You can see the entire length of the backstretch and turn three and it seems to never end. The running surface of that track is so incredibly hard. I even moved to the grass area along the backstretch to give my feet a break.  Still, I was starving and all I could think about was food. Coming around turn four you’ve still got a least a quarter of a mile to go and I was so glad to see the finish line in the distance.

I finished in 2:15:00. Squarely in the middle of the pack that day. Not bad for the amount of training I was able to put in. Just as soon as I got past the finish gates I scurried over to the food tables and scarfed down cookies and bananas like crazy. Man, it felt good to finally get something in my stomach. I was happy to experience the race and very happy to finish, but right then and there I said “no-way” to ever running a half marathon again.

Just a few weeks shy of 25 years since that event and I’m running a half marathon again. I guess that proves you should never say never. This time, I’m better prepared. I know I can go the distance and still feel fine afterwards. Granted, Father Time has slowed me down since those days. If I finish anywhere close to 2:30:00 I’ll be pretty darn happy. This time I’ll have a heart rate monitor, GPS to keep track of my pace and distance and most importantly energy gels to keep the hunger down. I’m glad things have progressed. I can also say I’m much wiser now about my training and my expectations. Looking forward to putting it all to the test on Saturday morning in Nashville.

Milestones for the Year (so far)

I didn’t officially start training for the half marathon until mid-January of this year but I began preparing in mid-December 2015. At that point I had dropped twenty pounds off my weight since 2013 but for 2015 I seemed stuck at about 225 pounds. I knew I needed to drop more weight if I wanted at achieve my goals and not get injured in the process of my training. I admit, I like my beer, wine, bourbon and gin. I knew the only way to get unstuck in my weight loss was to give up the empty calories of the booze. You know what? It worked! In mid-December I gave up drinking alcohol completely. Yes, even through the holidays and the new year celebrations. Since mid-December I’ve lost at least 12 pounds. Depending on the day–maybe more like 14 pounds. The chart below shows my progress.

The goal was to get down to 210 pounds by race day. I weighed in at 210.4 last Friday. I’ve picked up a couple since but that is within my usual fluctuation so I could actually get below 210 pounds by Saturday. My overall goal is to get down to 205 or less. One thing at a time. One day at a time.

There was an unexpected benefit to giving up the booze. My resting heart rate has taken a tumble! I’m sure the added miles running have helped but I’m convinced the drop in my resting heart rate (RHR) is primarily due to giving up the alcohol. Here’s my proof:

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The chart above is from December. My average RHR for the month was 68 BPM. Not bad for someone my age but it certainly could be better. Notice the steep decline in the latter part of the month? That’s when I stopped drinking the booze.

Now compare my RHR chart for this month. I’m averaging a RHR of 55 BPM. Quite an improvement for sure. My RHR has been at this level for two months now. Why I’m I convinced the lower RHR is due to cutting back on the booze over my increased physical activity? I mentioned in my last post about my half marathon training that I had indulged in a little alcohol consumption in the past few weeks. The two blips in the chart below where my RHR hit 60 BPM happened during and immediately after my acohol consumption.

I can’t honestly say this is enough to convince me to never drink alcohol again but it’s enough proof I will think twice before I pop the top off a beer. If I hadn’t got to see the results with my own eyes I would never believe it. That’s changed now–I’m a believer!

Sidebar: Charts were created using the Fitbit mobile app.

Countdown to Nashville: Five Days and Counting

Five more days until the half marathon in Nashville. I’ve got more to say about that but first, here’s my workout breakdown from last week:

Monday: Strength training and stretching.
Tuesday: Rest day (but still did some walking).
Wednesday: 30 minute slow run covering 2.79 miles at an 12:05 pace.
Thursday: Rest day (but still did some walking).
Friday: Rest day (but still did some walking).
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: Easy run for 9.3 miles at 11:30 pace.

This tapering off thing is hard to do. All this idle time is making me a little anxious. Wednesday’s short run was nice. I ran a very easy pace even though I felt like pushing it harder. I was supposed to run on Thursday but I have to be honest here, getting dressed at 4:30 a.m. to go run for only thirty minutes just doesn’t seem worth the effort. So I didn’t make the effort. I think at this point it’s not going to make or break me.

The weather this past weekend was beautiful. I wanted to run on Saturday but held off because I didn’t want to be faced with four days of non-running afterward. Went over to a friends house on Saturday evening and even indulged in a few gin & tonics. Since the middle of December I’ve drank very little alcohol and until just a few weeks ago hadn’t drank any. Sunday morning was sunny and the forecast showed things really warming up quickly in the later hours of the morning. We actually had a record high temperature for the day even. I wanted to get out there by 7 a.m. but it was more like 8 a.m. before I got started. It was surprisingly cool with a breeze when I started. It didn’t take long to warm up but the breeze seemed to pick up as I progressed. The goal was to run easy, staying in the 11:30-12:00 per mile pace. That’s how it started and it stayed that way until about mile six or seven. I was feeling very strong and the weather seemed to build up my spirits a bit so I couldn’t help pushing up the pace some. I stayed relaxed with easy breathing. I think the only thing that really changed by mile six was I continued at the same pace up the hills instead of backing off. My early miles were at about an 11:50-12:00 per mile pace but by the time I got back to my house with 9.3 miles logged my overall average pace was 11:30 per mile. My easy run ended up being not quite as easy as I intended. It’s fine though. I felt really good. Felt strong all the way. A year ago running seven miles seemed like forever. Now I can run nine like it’s nothing.

I am so ready for Nashville! I can’t wait to see my daughter and her family there. It’s been a year since we’ve seen each other. Looking forward to running with her and my son-in-law. He’s still sore from his fall a few weeks ago but feels like he can still do the run. I sure hope he can and not regret it later. It’s hard to say no after training for weeks. I know–been there and done that. Let’s hope he’s fine. He can run faster than my daughter and I so the slower pace with probably help. My daughter is a little faster than me but I have the advantage that I run more hills than her. Southern Indiana is pretty flat compared to Georgia. I’d say we are pretty close to the same for this event. I hope anyway!

Of course I’ve started laying out clothes, shoes, etc. for Nashville. And yes, I check the weather forecast at least once a day. It’s a little early but it looks like we have a good chance of rain on Saturday. I hope it’s not but I’m ready for it if it does. I’ve ran in the rain a few time in the past few months. I’ll be sure to take along some garbage bags to use as rain jackets so we can at least be dry until the start. Last week’s tapering off has me feeling rested and strong. I’ll get a couple of short, slow runs in this week but other than that it’s just drink up and rest up. I drink a lot of water anyway so the drinking up should be easy. I’m trying to get to bed a little earlier. I don’t have to get up at 4:00 a.m. to run I’m getting at least an extra hour of sleep a few nights this week that way. I don’t think I need to carb up that much before the race. I’ll probably eat pasta on Wednesday. Fish on Thursday and pasta again on Friday evening. I plan to eat really light starting Wednesday. If you have any suggestions, add a comment. I’m always looking for a new perspective on how to do things.

If you’re interested, you can follow my progress on race day by following Rick Hannon at Runner Tracking. That’s all I have for now but will post more later.

Half Marathon Training: Week Thirteen

The week started with a four day break from running. I figured out this is too long of a break. By the time I got back out on Wednesday I had a lot of built up energy so instead of a short easy run it became a short run at close to my 10K pace. It felt good though. It just wasn’t a part of the plan. Thursday’s short run was more in line with the program.

Saturday is my usual long run day but I had a morning commitment and I really didn’t want a repeat of last Saturday’s workout. Decided to postpone my long run until Sunday and this also shortens my four day break to a three day break for next week. An added benefit that I plan to continue until after the race in Nashville.

The temperature was in the low forties when I started my run on Sunday. A chilly start but I warmed up quickly. As the run progressed it warmed up and I was able to take off my gloves but by then the wind picked up a little too. The wind always seems to hit when you start up a hill for some reason. The goal was to run 13+ miles. Here’s the mile splits from my Fitbit app:

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I got 14.04 miles in!!! Hey, I never said I was fast but I’m steady. Miles seven and thirteen were the most difficult and the split times prove it. Miles 6, 8 and 9 were tough too and I was surprised by the mile splits for each. Honestly, mile one wasn’t that easy either but I was fresh and probably started out just a tad too quick. Total elevation was 810 feet. From what I can tell this is quite a bit more than I’ll have to deal with in Nashville. I’d say I’m more than ready for the half marathon on April 30th. The original goal was to finish in Nashville with an 11:30 per mile pace. It looks like I won’t have any trouble doing that now.

Now I can take a sigh of relief and just take it slow and easy until April 30th in Nashville. I don’t want to take any chances and get hurt now. The anxiousness will start to kick in now but I know I’ve got to stay disciplined and just stay loose and relaxed. Less than two weeks to go!

Workout breakdown for the week:

Monday: Strength training and stretching.
Tuesday: Rest day (but still did some walking).
Wednesday: 30 minute slow run covering 3.36 miles at an 10:12 pace. (For me, this really wasn’t a slow run.)
Thursday: 30 minute slow run covering 3.45 miles at an 11:16 pace.
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: Rest day.
Sunday: 14.04 miles at 11:17 pace. YEAH!!! I’m ready for Nashville now.

Two Weeks Until Nashville

It seemed like a long way off when I signed up for the Saint Jude’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Nashville in October but I now see light at the end of the tunnel. My training is essentially over but I will attempt a 13+ mile run tomorrow morning. The plan was for that to happen today but other commitments prevented it. This will be my last 10+ mile run before the race in Nashville.

With my reduced running schedule now I’ve learned a four day break from running is too long for me. By delaying my long run to Sunday instead of Saturday will cut my break by a day but you’ll read more about that in my recap post that will come out in a few days.

I feel ready. It’s been 25 years since I ran my last half marathon but I feel much more prepared that I did at that first one. Granted, I’m not a quick as I used to be but I’m certainly better prepared.

If you’ve read some of my earlier posts about this race you know I’m running with my daughter and son-in-law. I got some bad news this week. My son-in-law fell from scaffolding at work this week and while he doesn’t have any broken bones he’s beat up a bit. I hear he is resting and healing up so he can still make the run in two weeks. I don’t know for sure since I live about a nine hour drive away. I hope he’s taking some anti-inflammatories and staying off his feet as much as possible. Ok, I guess some walking is OK if its not too painful but I’d hate to see him miss this race.

Got my race confirmation this week and I know my starting corral so that really means we’re getting close now. Time to just cruise to the start and not take any chances getting hurt this close to race day. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s long run and suspect after this my anxiousness will really kick in. Is it too early to start packing? 🙂

Half Marathon Training: Week Twelve

The past week was officially my last week of training for the half marathon even though I still have three weeks to go. I started training a little early just in case illness or bad weather kept me from staying on track. Thankfully, neither happened. I did struggle for a couple of weeks with a head cold but it wasn’t bad enough to keep me from working out. So I’m essentially finished with training and now just in maintenance mode until April 30th.

It felt so strange not to run on Monday morning. I’ve ran just about every Monday for almost three years now and it just didn’t seem right. I still did a short but intense core workout for about thirty minutes and still got at least six miles of walking in during the day. The runs on Wednesday and Thursday were so short it was hard to convince myself it was worth the effort but nonetheless I did them. Nice and slow, nice and easy. They felt good even if they were short.

My long run on Saturday didn’t go quite as I had originally planned. In hindsight, I should have moved the run to Sunday. I had a last minute meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday with a drive of about and hour and ten minutes just to get there. I wanted to get my run in before the meeting because I wasn’t sure how long it would last and figured I would just say the hell with it if I waited. I figured I would have to get up at 3:30 a.m. to get my run in with enough time to shower, eat and drive to the meeting. Granted 3:30 a.m. is early but only thirty minutes earlier than my usual wake-up time for my weekday runs. Well… I had an awful night of sleep. Tossed and turned all night. I was dragging butt when I got up on Saturday morning. I got started about 15-20 minutes later than I had planned because I couldn’t get moving. The outside temperature was really cool for this time of year but I was OK with it. There wasn’t any moon in the sky so it was incredibly dark outside. You could see a lot more stars in the sky than I usually see and I even saw I shooting star at one point. The plan was to run at least 12 miles but with the late start and my really slow running pace it just wasn’t possible. In the end, I logged 10:41 miles at a 12:22 per mile pace. I don’t claim to be a fast runner but this is slow even by my standards.

Next Saturday I have another meeting at the same time and place but there won’t be a run logged before I go this time. I’ve learned my lesson and will get my miles in on Sunday. Next Sunday I plan to log in over thirteen miles. The rest of the week will be a duplicate of the this week.
Workout breakdown for the week:

Monday: Strength training and stretching.
Tuesday: Rest day (but still did some walking).
Wednesday: 30 minute slow run covering 2.79 miles at an 11:11 pace.
Thursday: 30 minute slow run covering 2.58 miles at an 11:40 pace.
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: Ran 10.41 miles at 12:22 pace.
Sunday: Strength training and stretching.

Workout Playlist of the Month: April 2016

Right Now (feat. David Guetta) [Justin Prime Vocal Mix] — Rihanna (130 BPM)
Cinema (Laidback Luke Remix) — Benny Benassi (130 BPM)
One (Congorock Remix) — Swedish House Mafia (130 BPM)
Marry the Night (Afrojack Remix) — Lady Gaga (131 BPM)
Adore You (Remix) — Miley Cyrus & Cedric Gervais (128 BPM)
Let There Be Love — Christina Aguilera (128 BPM)
Where Have You Been — Rihanna (128 BPM)
Get the Party Started — P!nk (129 BPM)
Hangover (feat. Flo Rida) — Taio Cruz (128 BPM)
Brokenhearted (Razor N Guido Radio Edit) — Karmin (128 BPM)
Painkiller (feat. Meghan Trainor) — Jason Derulo (128 BPM)
Run Wild (feat. Jake Reese) — Hardwell (130 BPM)
Juicy Wiggle — Redfoo (128 BPM)
Moves Like Jagger — Maroon 5 (128 BPM)

To learn an easy way to create a workout mix check out my blog post, “Easy Way to Create Your Own Music Mixes“.