Archive for March, 2009


Joe accompanied me on today’s two  hour MP run. He’s been doing low milages lately while waiting for his plantar fasciitis to subside, so he had no expectations about staying with me for all of it. After the warmup he dropped back and tracked me from about 200 yards back.

Thus removed from any peer pressure, I immediately forgot my plan to stick to 7:50 pace and got into a groove at about 7:41. After about five miles of this, Joe decided that he’d done his tempo for today and slowed down. This run was up and down the Bay Trail staring at point Isabelle in Richmond, heading south as far as Emeryville, then going north to the gate at the end of the trail in Richmond (slap that gate!) and returning to the starting point. At  a road crossing in Berkeley, drivers waved me over, so I was able to run the whole thing without breaking stride once. On the way back from the gate, I met Joe who turned as I passed him. “One more mile, then I’ll slow down.” His retort: “You animal!”.  Suitably encouraged, I tempo’d  that last mile in 7:17.

The hill behind the racecourse had slowed me a bit, as did a slight headwind in Richmond. I ended up covering 16 miles in 2:03:44, average pace 7:44. A bit faster than the planned 7:50. The warmup and cooldown brought the total to 20.5 miles.  I am extremely pleased with this run. Even the weather was perfect!


Mr. Competitive

I ran an easy 11 miles this morning after the rigors of yesterday, and some unexpected entertainment came my way.
I was running on an unlit trail through the park, when a runner I had not seen before came past me. Having done that, he settled in to the same pace as me, about 40 yards ahead. Two miles later, the gap was still the same. I thought at first that I was unconsciously matching his pace, but a look at the Garmin showed that I had in fact slowed slightly. As he ran under a streetlight, I saw him look back. Aha, Game On! My mid-heel strike normally makes very little noise, but with a bit of effort I made it even quieter and closed on him. Just behind him I increased the noise level again and watched him accelerate. Mr Competitive! Perhaps he was going a little above his comfortable pace just to stay in front of me. I resisted the temptation to show him how fast I can go.
Then our paths temporarily diverged. The Bay Trail has a concrete stretch which I avoid by running along a different path. He must have relaxed then, because when I rejoined he was 10 yards behind. He rose to this challenge, passing me again as I suppressed my laughter. I split off soon after that. If he starts to run this trail regularly, He’ll see me at speed soon enough.


So how was the mid-week tempo session after the rigors of the weekend? Pretty darn good, since you ask. 4 x 10 minute tempos with 2 minute rests. Target pace 7:20. Actual pace: 7:17, 7:11, 7:06, 7:03. Average 7:10. So I pushed it a little bit, but the perceived effort was no more than last week when I hit the target exactly. I think some of this is coming from improved form. I’m getting the posture and footstrike right without having to think about it so much. So should I recalibrate my paces? Not yet, according to Jack D. I should just let it get easier for a bit before I ratchet up. On Saturday I’ll be doing a 2-hour marathon pace run. Target pace is 7:50, (subject to mid-run adjustment, ahem).

Running on Empty

Well I did it again, two tough days in a row. Looks like some changes to the schedule are needed here.
Yesterday we previewed the course of the Brickyard, which is a hilly 8 mile out and back. Joe, Kati and I extended the course a bit, and did it twice for good measure. A total of 19 miles. Fun.

Today my schedule called for a long run with some tempo segments. Uh oh.

I tried it anyway. The first 10 minute tempo was slow by 40 seconds a mile for which I blamed the breeze. It was pulling branches off trees and kicking up white rollers on the bay. So I turned around and ran the next one in the opposite direction. Faster than goal pace, but only by 3 seconds. Hmm. During the subsequent long easy run, it was obvious that the next tempo was not going to happen. It was entertaining running in all that wind, but I was out of gas. The good news is that I was still running, albeit slowly. If lunacy strikes and I take up ultras, that ability could come in useful!

If I want to continue to do long runs on Saturdays with my buddies, I’ll need to juggle my schedule a little better. Quality running on Sundays is not working too well.

I’m not stiff or sore though. Perhaps I’m getting some extra resilience out of this.


I so nearly bagged this morning’s quality session. There was a pain in my ankle last night, and I was tired.
I’ll do the 2-mile warmup and see how I feel. So I did that, and the ankle behaved itself.
Well OK, lets start. 8 x 5 mins tempo pace with 30 second rests between.
This was the first real trial of my one-handed Garmin grip, which worked really well. Not only could I light it up at speed, but could sometimes just tilt it to catch the light from a nearby streetlamp. The sideways orientation helped too. It might even do for speed sessions in daylight.

Knowing that things were on track made a huge difference, but by the second interval I was promising myself to stop after six. By the fourth, That was modified to “if the wheels come off, which they probably will”. 30 seconds is not much time to get your breath back!

The wheels stayed on. Target pace: 7:20. Achieved: 7:22, 7:18, 7:22, 7:13 (!), 7:23, 7:28, 7:22, 7:17, 7:20. Average: 7:20. Nailed it.

What a difference a week makes. Apart from the Garmin, the other booster was knowing that I had run faster and further than this on the race on Sunday. It’s all mental.

Race: Emerald Across the Bay

When will I learn to get closer to start lines? Just being in the first wave is no guarantee of a clear run, it seems. I had to run round quite a lot of people in the first mile. There are no chips in this race, either. There was intermittent rain as we started, but the temperature was in the low 50s, so I was relatively comfortable.

Because of the complexities of the course, I relaxed my no-Garmin rule for this race. Last year I only spotted one mile marker, even though they were supposedly all there. The gadget did an approximate job, overstating the distance by 0.12 of a mile. Here are the mile paces it recorded.

Mile 1 – 7:01. Slow to get up to speed, but then a nice downhill .

Mile 2 – 7:34 Steep uphill in this mile. I’m actually surprised I didn’t slow down more. This hill thins out the field quite a bit.

Mile 3 – 7:02 On the bridge. A strong wet crosswind. One wise runner just glued himself to my left elbow for the entire length of the bridge and stayed relatively dry. He was wearing more stuff than me too, the wimp. I went fast on the bridge, I always do.

Mile 4 – 6:19 More bridge, some sharp corners, a tunnel and downhill. A little steep for comfort. This is probably where the Garmin got confused and added some distance.

Mile 5 – 7:17 This is where it so nearly ended. The course took an out-and-back to Fort Point, and it was still raining. At the turn, my right (inside) foot slid on the wet surface. I came down on my right forearm and rolled. I jumped right back up, amazed not to be hurting anywhere, and got back up to speed. I did get a little road rash on my arm, mitigated by the long sleeved shirt I was wearing. I was quite shaken up though, and didn’t push the pace too much for the next mile. It could have been a lot worse.

Mile 6 – 7:22 Level and boring going on Chrissy Field. Perhaps I could have gone a little faster given the slight tailwind, but never mind. The rain stopped.

Mile 7 – 7:20 The Marina Green. This part of the race is straight, level, and seems to last forever, Ugh.

Last 0.45 – 7:25 A steep little up and down to finish with. I’m glad I left something in the tank for this. I blew past a couple of runners on this hill.

Watch time was 55:00 dead. So gun time might be 10 seconds more. A PR by 5 minutes, so I’ve sped up by about 40 seconds/mile in the past year. It’s a good job I passed the photo station before getting dirtied up 🙂

UPDATE: My gun time was 50:12. I woner if I can chop another 5 minutes off next year?

Green Bib

I’m racing tomorrow. The Emerald Nuts Across the Bay is a 12K from Sausalito to San Francisco across the Golden Gate. The MapMyRun computer seems to assume we’ll be running along the seabed – note the -50 on the height scale below, but we will cheat slightly by taking the bridge, which I have marked with an orange line.  I ran this race last year, in 1:00:20, so I can’t let that stand. It was also the last race prior to my gait adjustments, so another reason to do it again. I like running the bridge, not so much because of the view, but because the arched span creates an exhilarating mile of gradual acceleration, followed by a steep downhill – wheee!emerald_profile3

It’s a net downhill, but there is a steep 200ft uphill to get to the bridge. At least I remember it as nasty, but perhaps it will seem different now. Quite a few hills have passed beneath my shoes since then.

There are three waves at the start, and we submitted recent 10K times for wave assignments. My bib arrived this week and it is green, so I’m in the first wave. Recognition at last 🙂

Last year I was in the second wave, and was warned about congestion on the bridge, so I attacked that hill hard. This worked, putting me well ahead of the second wave crowd, but I suffered for it later in the race. I’ll be a little more conservative this time.

In our group run today I ran a measly 4 miles or so, feeling like a proper layabout. Felow marathoners Joe, Kati and Ashley, who are not racing tomorrow, set out for a long run on the bay trail. On my return leg, a stiff headwind slowed me down. I thought about them pushing back against that wind for six miles or so. My turn will come.

Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)


March 2009
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