Wednesday, September 28, 2005

6 miles hills, Rancho San Antonio, Sept 22, 1:06

I had not done any hills for a long time, and part of the reason was that Srini/Uma's group had been running in the mornings, and early mornings are tough for me to wake up. "But, this Thursday should be different as the training program is coming to an end and I should run with the group for once in the morning" I thought. I acknowledged Uma's email and set the alarm for 5:30am for the 6:30am start at Rancho San Antonio. I also made it a point to go to bed on Wednesday night earlier than usual to help in early wake-up.

As circumstance would have it, my alarm never went off. Well, actually, it must have, but somehow the volume was so low that I didn't notice. When I woke up for a restroom visit, it was already 6:30 and too late for me to go to the run. So, back to sleep I went, and only woke up at my usual wake-up time of 7:30am, making it an especially long 9hr sleep! Alas, the case with me is that if I sleep too much, I feel sleepy the whole day. And so the whole day went -- a bit sleepy... I called up Manish and we decided to run in the evening. So, we started at the base of the trail at about 6.15pm.

I loved the hills workout! Immediately after the 1 mile warmup and stretch, we hit the really steep 0.6 mile stretch that makes you sweat like crazy and feel like you are walking up a 80 degree slope. I don't know what the slope is, but I bet it is never more than 30 degrees at its worst. There are various times when the brain wants the body to stop and just walk it up, but I managed to coerce my body to not stop but run with baby steps and short strides (as prescribed by the coaches).

After the 0.6 mile uphill stretch, it is a slow downhill for about 1.1 miles at which point we come to the beginning of the wildcat loop trail. This trail goes up but in a gentle rolling manner. We ran here for about 1 mile before it was time to turn around. I was feeling pretty good (it was quite dark by now and I was in the 'mood') so I asked Manish to turn around while I would go for another 2 minutes. When I later turned around, it was immediately a down slope and I twisted my right foot! Ohh, it felt so awful. I had to stop and gently massage it. Then I walked for a bit and restarted my running. I am so grateful that it did not seem to be a bad injury...

When I came to the point where Manish and I were to meet up to continue the run back, he was waiting for me as I had had to stop while tending to my twisted foot. Then we retraced our running steps and finally came back to the starting point in another 20 minutes. By this time, it was pitch dark (but only 7.45pm yet!) The twisted foot was still feeling okay and I enjoyed the run back. In total we did about 6 miles in 1:06. Pretty good I thought considering that we did the 0.6 miles uphill in about 7 minutes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

3x1 mile repeats on tracks, moderately difficult

With the unexpected thunder and rains in the afternoon and early evening, the fate of our track workout seemed to me to be in the air. However, as I got out of work (a bit late, it was almost 6.00), I was yearning to hit the tracks. The air was fresh and earth was smelling great. These were ideal conditions for running. It was a bummer that 237 was so congested and 101 was pretty slow too. I reached home at 6.30 (which was when we were supposed to be on the tracks), changed and finally reached the Stanford tracks at 6.45. Luckily, the repeats had not started yet. Only Coach Tony was to be seen among all the Maui runners, and Anthony and the other usual suspects wo organize the repeats for different groups were absent.

We started the repeats soon enough but there was a new helpful face organizing Group 2's repeats. Clearly, he did not feel comfortable enough to assert himself or push us to any extent, and we were left with a relatively doable workout (in contrast to Anthony, who makes it a must to push you to your potential). I did the 3 mile repeats in 7:11, 7:10, and 6:58. It felt tough but not too much so.

The track workouts are tough but form a thoroughly enjoyable part of the training program. I feel like I will miss them dearly after the marathon is over.

Monday, September 19, 2005

1.5 miles real easy today, La Avenida Trail

After the long run on Saturday, Srini was in a mood to give us a really easy day. So, we walked for about 1.5 miles and jogged real slow for another 1.5. We then did some stretching, crunches and push-ups and it was time to go home! Today's workout may qualify as the easiest ever :-)

BTW, I am getting an uneasy feeling that the training program is going to be ending too soon.... A part of me wishes that the actual marathon would be further away. I am really enjoying this training's ups and downs so much!

Also, news is coming out of the awesome job of the fellow trainees who ran the tough Maui marathon on Sunday. My heartiest congratulations to all of them!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tough 23-mile run at Los Gatos Creek Trail!

This was the last long run before the actual marathon. And how I did is captured in the graph on the left (click on it to see a larger version). As can be seen, I did not do too well. In fact, I was slightly disappointed by my performance. Yes, I did complete my run and actually did one more mile than was scheduled for Chicago runners. However, my time was slow (4:27). This is an average pace of 11:38, easily slower by at least 40s per mile than any other long run I have done to date.

I have been thinking about the reasons for this unsatisfactory performance since the run today. On the macro-level, clearly my go-for-negative-split strategy did not work today. This strategy is to run really slow (11-11:30 min/mile) for the first half, feel good that I have conserved energy, and then pick up speed in the second half (10:30-11 min/mile) to arrive at the finish line with an average pace of somewhere between 10:30 and 11 min/mile. Ending strong also has other obvious post-run benefits. Today, however, this just did not work. I was going by the plan of going for 22 miles as prescribed by the schedule. So, Manish and I started running together, and we had finished 11 miles in 2:01 (average pace till then of 11:04). We were taking 1 minute walk breaks after every 10 minutes and in hindsight, did this half a little bit faster than what we should have. Taking the 5 minutes that I took to take a restroom break at end of mile#4 out, our average pace was really 10:30 which does not align with the go-slow-early strategy. No wonder, I was feeling a bit tired by the end of this half.

On top of that, mile#12 was a brutal set of steep up-slopes, which we mostly ended up walking. We ended up clocking 17 minutes for that mile after which we had to turn around. On the way down, I wanted to go down fast but Coach Rajeev Char happened to be right there and urged us to walk the down-slope too to avoid injury. We ended up doing mile#13 in 13:34 and pretty soon our average pace at end of mile#13 had dwindled to 11:43. I started getting antsy and took leave of Manish at this time to try and run faster. However, the faster run of the first half and the hills had sapped my energies already. I really should not have tried to run too fast realizing my current state. Another mistake I had made was that the time gap between my GU intakes was too much (please see graph above). I did run mile#14 in 10:03 and the next two miles in 10:35 and 9:24 respectively. However, the third and greatest of unfortunate events had struck me by the end of mile#16. I probably took too much water/gatorade at the previous water stop, or may be the Vanilla flavored GU did not suit me too much but I was having stomach cramps and stitches. I had to slow down, and even stopped for a bit, doing mile#17 in about 12 minutes. I tried to ignore it in the next mile (#18) but it wasn't going away, and I was holding both sides of my stomach while running. On top of that, I was feeling hungry now. (I don't know why that would be the case, because I ate my usual energy bar + coffee and even took an extra slice of bread with peanut butter in the morning...) Anyhow, I took my last GU at the water stop at 18.7 miles, and the real troubles had now started. I felt like a twitching somewhere just north of my left knee. In all my training, I have never had a problem in any at or above the knees. This twitching gave me a weird feeling and as it wouldn't go away, I decided to increase my walk breaks. Besides, I was really tired by this point.

At mile#19, I made the decision of going for an extra mile. That may sound strange given that I was not feeling very good. But, precisely for that reason, I thought I should train myself for those times when I am not feeling that good and still be able to run a bit extra. I don't know whether that contrarian logic was smart, but it definitely did mess up my timing even more. I was already doing my miles in almost 12 minutes after mile#18. Mile#20 brought me back to the start, and I would now have to go 1.5 miles further from the start and come back to complete the next 3 miles. These 3 miles proved to be very tough! My left brain was asking me to slow down and take more frequent walking breaks, plus it was getting harder to run after the end of the walking break. When mile#21 got over, the extra 0.5 mile I was doing at my own whim proved to be the toughest. At the end of this, I had to ask Rashmi (who happened to be there in her run) for two sips of water. I turned around and my left brain was still pounding on me to take even more frequent walking breaks. I was already walking every 0.5 mile at this point, and even that was getting to be too long. Mile#22 was the toughest and I did it in 15 minutes! Of course, mile 23 being the last mile was not as bad and I managed it in a bit over 12 minutes.

The fact that the run today was not great actually makes it a bigger learning experience for me. I have never had stomach cramps or upper body injuries of any kind and the experience of this run now gives me the confidence that even in the (seeming) worst of times, I can actually go on and finish the marathon. Besides, there is no sign of long term injury (the knee injury went away soon enough on the run itself) and that is actually great news.

In summary then, any of these could be the reasons for my slow time today. They also serve as the key learning points from the longest run before the actual marathon:
  • Ran the first 11 miles faster by 30s / mile than usual. Should stick to 11-11:30 min/mile for the first half.
  • Ate a Clifbar rather than my usual powerbar (well, unlikely reason but...)
  • Never really got into a rhythm. Getting into a rhythm has been important to me as it makes me feel realxed and move forward in an easy manner. I have usually gotten it in the last few miles.
  • I experimented with different flavors of GU. I had already settled on the "Tropial Flavor", but had a packet each of two different flavors with me today and wanted to finish them.
  • For the first time, I drank cytomax and gatorade on the water stops. Usually, I only take water. But I wonder whether the combination of GU and cytomax/gatorade was just too much for the stomach to handle.
  • I couldn't apply my mind in the last 5 miles. I was giving in to the negative messages from my left brain. Running with someone would have helped, but I couldn't find someone my pace to give me company in those crucial miles.
  • I did not take GU early enough. I need to make a point about taking GU at 6 miles and then every 4 or 5 miles after that. So, I will need 5 GU packets for the 26.2 miler (at 6, 11, 16, 20, 24).
  • I have a bad habit of gulping the water in my water cup in one go! As Uma told me, this is not good on the stomach...
  • When I was feeling hungry, I should have grabbed something to eat at mile#20 which was the start point. However, I was already feeling uneasy at being slow, and so did not want to take an extra minute to take the 25m detour and stop by the table. Bad idea! I did the last three miles in 38:34. One minute detour to eat something would actually have helped my overall time!
  • When things are not going well, there is no benefit in forcing them! Doing this could just cause more problems.
And so I now feel better equipped for the 26.2 miler in Chicago that matters the most. I have learned so much during these long runs, but I am sure something new will come up on the actual day. Hopefully, I will be prepared to handle whatever that will be.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Uploaded running statistics below

I have just graphed and uploaded at the bottom of this page my daily, weekly and monthly running statistics to date. Please check them out!

7.2 miles (some at tempo pace) yesterday, Shoreline park

Thursdays are days of moderately long hard runs. Yesterday evening we were to do 7 miles "tempo". Pradeep had once explained to me what that means: run about 2 miles for warm-up, then run fast for about 2-3 miles (whatever you can do) at your tempo pace, and then cool down in the last 2 miles. It is to be noted that the warm-up and cool-down are not at the usual excruciatingly slow pace (typically 13-14 min/mile) of pre-run warmup or post-run cooldowns. They are more like 30s-60s slower than your average Saturday long run pace. As for tempo pace, from whatever I have read, there seem to be various ways to arrive at it. Some people say that it is about 60s slower than your tracks pace. Some others call your tempo pace to be your 5K pace, i.e., the pace at which you will run when competing in a 5K (3.125 miles) race. But I find this test the best: if while running you are breathing hard enough so that the breathing-in process lasts for only two steps of running, then you are at your tempo pace. (You will notice that usually you take 3-4 steps while breathing in.) For example, I usually reach this kind of breathing at about 8.30 min/mile pace. This also happens to be ~1:20 min/mile slower than my pace at the tracks.

Manish and I were to meet at 6pm, but owing to some confusion, he had finished his warm-up by the time I started mine. Both my lower legs were still hurting, but were better than Wednesday. The shin of my left leg was still not feeling great. I did the mile-long warm up slow, and felt that the lower legs (shin, achilles, lower calf) were hurting a bit, and certainly not giving me a smooth stride.

At this time I also ran across Gomati and Medha, who were running on the same trail but had started on Easy St. Anyhow, I stopped after the warm-up and stretched for about 8-minutes. My plan now for the remaining 6 miles was to do about 10.30 min pace for the first 2 miles, and then do the next mile at tempo pace (the route I was to take was the same one as in the Monday run). After turning around at the 3 mile point, do the 4th mile at tempo pace and then drop the pace to 10:30 again for the last two miles. However, I found myself running the first half a mile at 11:30 minute pace (lower legs were not feeling happy), but still managed to finish the first mile in about 11 min. In preparation for the tempo run, I sped up a bit and probably did 10 min for the next mile (the mile markers end in about 1.5 miles after the start, making it hard to maintain accurate time per mile). I was now on a very narrow dirt trail with bushes one one side and grass on the other. The bay was hardly 5 feet away. Abhay Bhushan (my mentor before he had to unfortunately pull out of injury) had first introduced me to this portion of the trail, and I had loved it since then. I probably did 8:30 pace for only half a mile before this portion ended and I was back on the usual asphalt, now on my way towards Michael's cafe. Besides my hurting shin, the wind was very strongly against me and I was also feeling the need to take a leak. I arrived at the restrooms across the bridge (on a small creek) in 30:32 after the start. As this is ~3.1 miles, my pace had been better than 10 min/mile, which I thought was okay.

After a 2 minute restroom break, I started again but could not run at tempo pace immediately. I had to go slow for about a mile until again I was on the narrow dirt trail portion that is 5 ft from the bay. This time the wind was helping me and I took off. The narrow straight trail makes it easy for the mind to focus and the surroundings (the sight of the bay outstretched all the way to Fremont along with the wind making tiny waves on its surface). I think I must have done about 8:30 pace for that stretch (which is about 0.9 miles). As I turned back into asphalt for the last 1.5 miles that also has mile markers, I wanted to continue running at that same pace to get an idea of my speed using the mile markers. This trickery allowed me to continue my tempo pace for another mile. I had done this mile in 8:30. I then relaxed a bit in the last half a mile and was back at the starting point in a total of 61 minutes. Take two minutes of the restroom break out and I had done 6.2 miles in 59 minutes, at 9:30 pace. The run back was 3.1 miles in 28:30 at 9:10 pace. Counting the slow warm-up before the stretch, I had completed my 7 miles (and had actually done 7.2) of the day :-)

When I came back, Manish had already finished his stretching and was just waiting for me to come back and give him his keys (that he had left in my car). I did the usual stretches and it was time to head home. Since we had started a bit earlier than usual at 6pm, I was back home in pretty decent time (8.10pm).

And now, ladies and gentleman, it is time for the 22 miler Saturday morning. Drumrolls and coconut-breaking ceremonies please....

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

3 miles easy, 38 minutes, shin issue still a wildcard

Manish and I got together at 6.30pm today at Dana St. and ran at an extremely slow pace towards the La Avenida trailhead on the Stevens Creek Trail. We stopped after about a mile to do our stretching in Whisman Park and continued towards the bench on the trail past the Moffett Blvd. In total, we clocked about 38 minutes for our ~3 miles from and back to the Lander Elementary School on Dana St. We weren't doing well in the beginning -- his knee was hurting and my shin (and actually both lower legs) were hurting though not painfully so. We took advantage of the time saved by the short run by doing some more stretching and strengthening than usual.

Running at about 13 min pace for most of the 3 miles, and still finding it a little bit tough because of the hurting lower legs, I found it a little bit funny to imagine that it was the same me who was running an under 7 minute pace on the tracks just yesterday!

After the run was over, I felt as good in the remainder of my evening as after yesterday's tracks. Perhaps, the new start and finish location (Dana St.) as well as the fact that the run was so easy made the experience refreshingly different. However, the left leg's shin is still a worry for me for this weekend's 22-miler. Here's hoping for the best...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Track workout today, 4.5 miles ladder, drafted in Group 1 but hung in there!

The plan was to do 1600, 1200, 800, 400, 800, 1200, 1600m repeats in that order. Having had a buffett for lunch at Shiva's Indian restaurant in Mountain View, and the customary coffee at around 4.30pm, I was a little bit too full I think. The left shin was still nagging a bit but seemed manageable. After a bit of warm-up and stretch, it was time to follow Anthony who was organizing Group 2's repeats. Just seeing Anthony does something to my mind. I think it starts to gear up and get prepared for some good tough workout. Tony with his Group 1 stars happened to be close to him at the start point. Suddenly, Tony announced that there are only 4 people today in Group 1 and that he would like one more person from Group 2. Someone shouted my name. I tried to slip away from the scene, and murmured to Anthony that "I struggle in Group 1" but Tony literally pulled my shirt from the back and declared unconvincingly that "you'll be fine". I surrendered meekly.

The first repeat was 1600m which to my surprise got over in 6:54. I was panting a bit more than usual because I think I was a little bit uncomfortable with too full a stomach. Shin pain was there but not bad at all.

The second repeat was 1200m (3 laps) which was a little bit tougher and I noticed at the end of the second lap that I needed to empty my bladder. In fact, the third lap was difficult because of that. As soon as we finished (I don't remember the time, but it wasn't bad), I ran to the restroom which for god sake was closed!! I saw Tony waving at me to come and start the next repeat of 800m. I had no choice and followed the folks. But again, I just could not run after the first lap, excused myself and found a lonely corner spot right behind the steps! By the time I was done, Group 1 was just about done with the second of the two laps of the 800m repeat. This observation enables me to time the duration of my leak to a fairly high degree of precision. Whatever...

Anyhow, I guess it gave me some extra rest but the next repeat was 400m with instructions from Tony to push in it. So, we all did. And I am glad to have a good time of 88s to show for it!! Probably an all time recorded best for me for a single 400m repeat. I don't think the extra rest because of the leak break helped, because I do remember feeling a certain lack of continuity because of that...

Thanks to Anthony who was managing Group 2 but egged me on to hang in there with Group 1 folks.

Now, the tough part of the workout had started, i.e., going back up the pyramid of increasing repeat distances. I did the next one, an 800m repeat, in 3:35. Still feeling good. Tony said that the next 1200m repeat is the hardest of them all and that the miler after that would be easy. Also, that we should push a little bit here. And so the Group 1 stars did. I don't think I pushed, but by this time the body was in a rhythm of its own so that I could do it pretty good time (5:26 I think, making it a 7:16 pace).

For the last 1600m repeat, Tony said that we should push in the first lap and then we can take easy (but not lose focus). I think I did the first lap in 98s (pretty good for me) but slowed down considerably in the second lap. I remember thinking at this time that I can rest later after this so I should really try to give it my best now; and that otherwise I will regret later that I could have pushed harder. So, I pushed a little bit harder in the third lap and had soon found a faster rhythm to really speed up in the last lap. I think I must have done the last lap in less than 95s. The total time for the mile was about 7:12. The burst in the last 200m felt pretty good!

After the workout was over, it felt tough but not particularly killing. Our bodies and minds are definitely maturing....

Monday, September 12, 2005

Easy 6 miles today, 59 minutes, La Avenida Trail

Uma (and/or Srini), I missed your group for the last few weeks! I had not been training with your group and today's run reminded me of the good old times I had with you two awesome people and the folks in your group... It is just not possible to do the stretching and strengthening exercises the same way without you guys.

It is a very encouraging start to the week. After the customary mile-long warm-up from the La Avenida Trailhead through the 101 underpass to the first bench on the right after that, and back to the trailhead; and after the ritualistic stretching; Uma, Manish and I started running together. We did the first 1.5 miles in 17 minutes and then were feeling good enough to gradually increase the pace. We went to the Rengstorff house in a further 16 minutes and got back (through a route shorter by about 0.4 miles) in a total of 59 minutes. Uma and I did the last mile in 9:16 (Manish was just slightly behind in 9:35). This is a much faster pace than normal for both Uma and Manish, and they did it so easily. Good job, guys.

I myself was feeling wonderful during and after the run, especially in the last 2 miles. It had gotten dark by the time we finished, at about 8pm. But Uma is clinical. She still made us do the regular stretching and strengthening exercises. And I for sure am very thankful for that.

Dear 22 miles this Saturday, here I come....

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Getting ready for the 22-miler next week

I am looking forward to the runs in the coming week and to the 22 miler on Saturday in particular. This is the longest "long run" before the actual marathon. My shin pain is almost gone. I did very relaxed rollerblading for 30 minutes in the neighborhood this evening. I am still not good at it and in fact fell twice, but I just love being on wheels.

I had allowed my focus to be lost last week but this week I think I am better prepared. I hope it goes well.

My prayers and best wishes are to all the friends who are running the Maui marathon next Sunday. Diana, Chandu, Anurag, Nepa, and everyone else, I will be thinking about you next week.

"Easy long run", 13.7 miles, 2:19, Sat, Sept 10, Alameda Creek Trail

This run was a great example to me of the importance of the state of mind on the training in general, and on the Saturday long runs in particular. I was a bit tense (had a fight with Grishu the night before :-) and the week's running had not been too good either. In hindsight, I had taken this "down week" a bit too easy. I had lost focus, overconfident that the week would be easy. No wonder then that I found myself having to drag me out of the bed at 6.15am on Saturday morning with the mind so not looking forward to the scheduled 13 mile long run (down from the 20 miles last weekend, as part of the down week). I was feeling full and ate half a bar, but skipped coffee.

Anyhow, the Saturday long run is too much of a routine by now for me to skip it on a whim. I joined the team at the Alameda Creek Trail in Fremont. In another symptom of the lack of feeling of well-being, I was feeling bloated and uneasy. Grishu and I had gone for an awesome dinner at Shalimar's in fremont the night before, she loves the "Bhuna Gosht" and "Chicken Tikka Masala". I am vegetarian and got their "Kabuli Chana" and "Palak Paneer" which I loved and apparently ate too much!! I went to the restroom a total of three times, the last one 3 miles into the run.

The run itself did not prove to be that tough, but also not that easy as one would have expected given that my twenty-miler last Saturday felt so great. All my thanks to Karthik with whom I ran the last 4 miles. The trail is flat, and even though the sun was out, luckily conditions can not be called hot or particularly unfriendly to running. I started out with Manish and we were taking walk breaks every 10 minutes in the first few miles. We were doing about 10:40 min/mile pace. However, I lost him when I made a visit to the PortaJohn. The combination of time (~3 mins) lost in this visit along with the knowledge that it was going to be "only" 13 miles made me go a little bit faster and skip some of the walk breaks. Hence, when I was running with Karthik in the last few miles, I decided to let go of the walk breaks just to be with him. That was a smart move. I got to hear about his experiences in his last marathon. That made me so glad yet again of having made the decision to train for and run a marathon. Thanks, Karthik.

After the run, it felt somewhat better than how it did after the last 20 mile run, but not a whole lot better. I attribute the difference to the difference in the states of my mind before and during the two runs.

Regarding statistics, we did 13.7 miles (the mile markers counted ~0.7 miles fewer) in 219 minutes, which makes it a 10.1 min/mile pace and just under 10 min/mile pace if I cheekily take out the 3 minutes of my portajohn break :-) Indeed, I had done the last 5 miles in 48 minutes and the last mile in 8:59. I owe it to Karthik. It is so much better when running with someone!

Key learnings:
  • DO NOT eat too much the night before the long run
  • Eat early (by 7pm) on the night before the long run
  • Take every week seriously, and don't let your focus be lost at any time
  • Drink the usual 1 cup of coffee on Saturday mornings
  • Keep your mind relaxed and focused

Thu, Sept 8, 30 minutes on stepper in gym

The training schedule said that we had to do 7 miles on hills. I had mentally decided in the morning that depending on how my shin is doing near the end of the day, I will either run or do the stepper/ellipse in the gym. Thankfully, it was a 'down week' according to the schedule so even if I had to rest completely, it would not have been a diseaster.

I got out a bit late from work and almost decided to not work out (the left brain was working its excuses --- "you should take a complete break", "you can not run because of your shin so what's the point", "it is a down week anyway, so don't worry"). Eventually, I dragged myself out of that trap and into the gym. A half-mile warm-up run on the treadmill made it pretty clear that running was not the right thing to do on the day. It would be good to give the shins a rest. So, I headed to the stepper machine and did it (at levels 10-11) for about 30 minutes. It turned out to be a good cardio exercise (but did not feel as good as running!). I was happy that I was able to get out and do some exercise.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wed, Sept 7, Slow 4 mile run (42 minutes) at San Antonio Baylands, but shin problem resurfaces

My left shin problem seems to be back, and in hindsight I should have taken more care of it the last few weeks when it was okay. Ahh well, water under the bridge...

Given that, I thought of not running today but was in the vicinity of the San Antonio Baylands after a meeting that ended at around 6pm, and the weather was ideal for running. So, I took off slow on the dirt road that starts from the intersection of San Antonio and Terminal Blvd in Mountain View. The shin was paining bad and a slow warm up run followed by a nice calf stretch did not help much. However, the superb surroundings (the outstretches of the beautiful bay and the bird life all along the trail) and ideal running weather were tempting. I was going extremely slow (probably between 11 and 11:30 min/mile) hoping for the shin pain to go away. I turned around after 23 minutes (including a minute long walk). The run back was a bit faster (19:30) helped by the wind and the fact that natural endorphins had suppressed the shin pain a bit and I was running a bit faster.

Once back home, I iced the shin area well. And am keeping my fingers crossed on how it does over the next few days...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Mile repeats on tracks (tough, but could have been tougher): 3x1 mile

What a huge drop in attendance at the tracks today! I saw barely 25 runners. Probably something to do with the really long run last Saturday or the Labor day weekend. Anyhow, they were supposed to be 5x1 mile repeats but it turned out that we were going to do "only" 4x1 repeats. Coach Anthony was in charge for Groups 1 and 2, and he did an awesome job as usual of reminding people to stay focused and stick to their planned lap times. Anthony, again, you are awesome!

I managed a 7:14, 7:10 and a 7:08 in the first three miles. Yes, I managed to improve with every mile repeat. But the third mile was really tough and I was going at only a 7:20 pace after two laps. While doing the last lap, I was seriously thinking of quitting and not doing another mile... My problem with mile repeats seems to be that they are psychologically much tougher than, say the 400m repeats, where at the beginning of the next repeat I can con my mind to just cooperate for a little bit more time. The mile repeats really need you to stay focused and believe in your abilities. And the ability to believe in your abilities gets seriously stressed in the last lap of the previous repeat, if you know what I mean.

Well, just as Anthony announced that it was time to do the last mile repeat, God, the savior, came in the incarnation of the track official who semi-yelled at us to get out of the tracks as they had closed. We had no choice. It was almost a pleasant mental shock for most of us as we had somehow gotten ready to do the fourth mile (I had successfully suppressed expressing to Anthony my urgent desire after the end of the third mile to quit and to not do the fourth mile. The 3 minute rest interval had certainly helped). The unexpected gift made so many of us give our biggest smiles of the day :-) Mala was spotted laughing. I made it a point to personally thank the unnamed official. Uma made a half-attempt at getting the remaining miles done on the wood chips but her suggestion was met with smiles of a different variety by the runners and coaches.

And as we were walking back from the stadium (where the mile repeats were held for the first time I believe this year, as our usual tracks were occupied by another group), some of us were musing aloud that it was a bummer and we feel cheated of our workout... Yeah sure!

Monday, September 05, 2005

2.8 miles fast around the neighborhood (24 minutes), Monday, Sept 5

I was supposed to do "7 miles easy" but I got late (writing the previous blog entry!) and it was getting dark. Besides, Grishu wanted me to "be quick" in my run so that we can go to dinner after that. So, I improvised the workout to a shorter but faster-paced run around the neighborhood. It turned out to be 2.8 miles long which I did in about 24 minutes (pace of 8:34 min/mile) which I think should be a pretty good preparation for the tough track workout tomorrow.

Oh, and the dinner afterwards at PF Chang's in Palo Alto was awesome :-)

A "jog in the park" or a 20-mile long run? (Sept 3, Sawyer Camp Trail, 3:36, 20 miles)

Well, it was not exactly a walk in the park. But it was pretty good. The recovery was awesome. It was one of my best runs, as it felt as good or bad as a 10 miler had earlier in the week. I am grateful to Chakri for that as we ran mile 7 to 14 together (and had a few jokes to share!) and also to Kasturi for running with me for the first six miles. I did equal splits of 1:48 each, and had a very steady-paced run. The somewhat hilly terrain was actually an asset as the downhill miles felt really really good. My legs were beginning to ache by the end of mile#12, but the aches did not get worse and I carried on at the same steady pace as the first 12 miles.

Key learnings:
  • Wake up early in the morning.
  • I love the Tropical flavor Gel. Carry at least 4 packets in the next long run.

PS: If you are wondering why this blog entry is so much shorter than others, the reason is that I just spent 1 hour logging my experience on this run when my network connection died on me and somehow the whole blog entry was lost... This is all I want to write in my second attempt.

Easy 4.1 miles, Friday morning, Sept 2, 41 minutes, around the neighborhood

The schedule dictated an easy 4-miler on Friday, and I decided that morning would be a good time to run it. I had an easy work-day and started at around 9.30am around the neighborhood. Using Sue and Paul's pedometer application over Google maps, I was able to plan my route precisely.

The actual run itself was pretty uneventful, and I seemed to have done 10 min/mile pace though I recall that I ran the last mile at least 30seconds faster than the remaining miles. So, I must have gone slow the first two miles. Anyway, it felt pretty good. Usually, when I do morning runs, I get pretty lethargic the rest of the day (esp. after breakfast). However, I was feeling good the whole day and that is proof enough for me that I have come a long way since April when the training program began. Thanks again TeamAsha!

By the way, my calculations show that I ran a total of 127.3 miles over 21 hours and 18 minutes in the month of August!