Run #M134 - 14 miles - 7/31/14

Duration: 2:53:10

Distance: 14.39 miles

Rate: 12:02 per mile

As of tomorrow, it will have been three months since I ran my first half-marathon, the half-marathon that wound up being the final peak before my training spiraled out of control. Unable to cope with the post-run stress, I wound up cancelling and shortening runs until, as the heat cranked up, I was unable to run further than six miles at a time, forcing me to start my training over.

It suuuuuuucked.

So, today was an incredible achievement! It wasn’t as hot as that May 1st run, I didn’t go as far (by about a fifth of a mile), but the elevation change is what I needed. Completing this run at a slower pace also ensured that right now, I don’t feel nearly as pained as I did on that run. When I wound up back in my chair, I was in awful shape and consumed all kinds of junk food afterward. It was bad. This time, so much better!

This was going to be 13 laps, the last one to be truncated so I could exit closest to the house. I’d considered bringing headphones considering it was going to take nearly three hours to do, but I knew that’d be a hit to my battery and I wasn’t a huge fan of hearing my heart pounding through my ears, which is exactly what would’ve happened. So, I spent the run chasing fragments of daydreams to keep my brain busy. I don’t have any big mental challenges to work through at the moment, so I often found myself staring down the stretches.

I found my pace in the second mile, but right off the gate, after coming off not enough sleep and a little too many carbs in the pre-run wait, I felt like a sack of moving parts. It wasn’t pleasant, but once things started to loosen up, even after the warmup, I started doing pretty good.

I decided to make a pee stop in the eighth lap not because I really needed to, but because I knew that holding it until I got home - right as my roommate is still taking a shower before he heads off to work - was not a great idea. It’s happened the past two weeks and it has not been fun. I spent the following lap pondering how people on full marathons withheld from bathroom breaks. Maybe they’re just a lot faster than me, lawls.

The run continued unabated, but I was definitely counting down the laps in the end. Oh, I should mention that before I left, I discovered my Powerbar gels expire in January and that I should experiment with them while I have them! So, I picked out a Vanilla gel and decided I’d use it at the hour mark.

Did I mention it was hot out? At one point, the Walgreens sign said it was 77F, but that sign is a liar. Google said it was 96F when I left and there was a Excessive Heat Warning in effect. I was actually ready to chop my run down to 8 miles and run my setback this week instead of next, but then I remembered I ran in this heat last week with no issue. From what I’ve researched, It’s going to be a good 20-30 degrees cooler when I run in Colorado and that sounds incredible.

Anyway, I get sixty minutes in and I grab my gel. I have some “fun” trying to rip it open, despite the easy-rip tabbing as I’m at speed. I squeeze it out in three or four presses and it tastes like really hot vanilla cake frosting. It was kind of hilarious. Yes, I downed it with water as I should. By my count, it took about forty minutes for it to kick in, and maybe it was the water, but I felt a little brighter right away.

Since I was running below pace, I was able to down water pretty easily toward the end. That actually felt like a liability with tow or three laps to go because I started to feel like a jiggling bag of water, so I eased off a bit. Water tastes so good, let me tell you.

Because of my pee stop, I wound up a little short on distance, so as I wound up in the last tangent of my exit mile, I had to grind out an extra tenth of a mile just to be sure I was officially over the fourteen mile mark.

It’s been probably forty-five minutes since I started typing this entry out and I still don’t feel nearly the amount of pain I did the last time around, which bodes well. A bad night’s sleep can totally undo that, but I’m keeping optimistic. Next week will be 4-7-4-8 with that setback long run. After that, it will be two sixteen-milers, another setback, then I’ll be in Colorado. It’ll be great!

Oh, and here’s my RunKeeper progress since I moved to Arizona! Yellow is walking, green is running, that yellow peak early on was August, when I had my first full month of marathon training, but right before I started work, which nearly ruined me. I switch to runs which ramp up until May 1, then fall off and come right back up, stronger than ever. I don’t know how people go from positively weak to marathon in less than a year, but that ain’t me and I’m happy for it.

See you on Saturday!

Run #M133 - 4 miles - 7/29/14

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Duration: 51:47

Distance: 4.43 miles

Rate: 11:44 per mile

You know what’s cooler than running under an unfiltered sun in air that’s ten degrees hotter than your last outing? Uh, being inside… or that last run, or…

Anyway, it was friggin’ hot today. I downed a bunch of liquid and my hat before heading out the door, but I wasn’t quite ready for the march that was ahead. I wanted to keep things slow and my legs were still feeling a little tight, so I kept it easy going. The heat, of course, makes you feel like you’re going slower than you are, so you work harder to create the same mental illusion of progress. I didn’t start sweating until well into the first mile, but I was starting to huff a bit through the second. Even with shades on, it was so bloody bright out. They need to come up with some Arizona-specific shades that are 50% darker or something. Or I just need to do the research. Obviously not that.

Anyway, this was a “nice” run in that it was short and I finished it, but it was hardly pleasureable. I shifted to mornings to avoid this nonsense and the July/August heat is following me like a magnifying glass. I was hoping to be able to switch back to afternoons soon. Nope. When I was back in the air conditioned house, sweat was pouring out of my head like a shower. I downed a liter of water like I was Popeye ripping open a can of spinach.

Fourteen miler on Thursday morning!

Run #M132 - 6 miles - 7/27/14

Duration: 1:14:44

Distance: 6.57 miles

Rate: 11:22 per mile

I was actually kinda unexcited to tackle this run. My feet were still sore from breaking in my Spyridons (which I took with me walking to/from work) and it’d been hot and I hadn’t slept well and blah blah blah, didn’t really want to run. When I got home, I switched into my reliable SeeYas, hit the loo, drank some water, drank some water again, then left without sunglasses or hat. It was overcast and sprinkling, so I was actually looking forward to a run in an infamous Phoenix mudstorm.

Nope. Got out the door and it was brighter as sunlight peeked through the clouds. It was 81F with intermittent heat throughout the run. First mile was dogged, second mile was better, by the third mile, I was in it. Ran out of sweat in the fourth mile. Sweat started falling into my eyes in the fifth mile, sixth mile was a nice exit. Faster run today, I’m happy. Got to spend a lot of time daydreaming, thinking about different things, so that was cool.

Four miles on Tuesday!

Run #M131 - 4 miles - 7/26/14

Duration: ~52:00

Distance: 4.41 miles

Rate: ~11:47 per mile

I was gonna wait until after this week’s 14-miler to break in my new Vibram Spyridon LS’s, but decided against it. With five weeks left until I’m running in Colorado, I wanted to start breaking those things in.

These have been the hardest Vibrams for me to get into, the hardest since I was a fat guy trying to squeeze into some size 46 TrekSports. I think it’s largely because of the rigid upper and the tongue, plus a lack of slack in the lace system. I got these for two reasons: they were on sale and they had the thicker outer soles I need for trail running. I don’t really like the lace system that much, I much prefer the straps of the TrekSport or the SeeYa, but again, these were on sale. I also have an alternate pair of SeeYa LSs that I bought that I’ll be using more for walks. 

So, I was out on the route with these things for an easy four miler when I noticed my pacing was off on RunKeeper. Turns out that it had lost its GPS connection not quite four minutes into my warmup and was now spewing out inaccurate data. Great. While at speed (actually, speeding up since I wasn’t minding my pace) I tried pausing and resuming the workout like I did on the last fourteen-miler, but no resolve. I ended up canning the first .7 miles of the run and starting over. RunKeeper started working as it should’ve.

Before the third mile, I had to stop to adjust my right shoe’s tongue as it was pinching my instep. All told, I have two sores on my right foot and a bigger one on the underside of my left. I’m gonna need to wait to see if the thicker soles did anything to buffer any ankle issues. Sores and blisters are par for the course, so I’m not concerned. I’ll be walking with these two and from work tomorrow as well ahead of the six-miler just to put a little more wear in. Depending on how I feel on Tuesday, I might just use my current pair of SeeYas for the long run.

Anyway, see you tomorrow!

Run #M130 - 12 miles - 7/24/14

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Duration: 2:30:20

Distance: 12.53 miles

Rate: 12:00 per mile

Oh, my hubris! Today I violated the NNORD Rule, that is, Nothing New On Race Day.

I’ve been losing quite a bit of weight over the past month and last night I wanted to celebrate. I knew it was a risk, but I’ve eaten out in the hours before a long run to no or minimized ill effect, what could possibly go wrong? After a bag of chips and a large Blizzard, I was full, but by the time I passed out for a nap around 10PM, I’d also consumed two Jimmy Johns sandwiches as well. I was up by 2AM and out the door by 3AM with a full bottle of water.

This is the second week in a row that I’m using the Neighborhood Loop course, a 1.1 circuit that brings me very close to my house so I can resupply or whatever. The last time I had to slow down or stop on a run was during my training stumble in May and I couldn’t recover, so I had to give up. This means I’ve been trying to avoid mid-run stops whenever possible and intervals are just out the window.

Well, except today.

I was doing extremely well. Since I know the course better than ever, I was able to daydream through most of it. Miles just melted away and the run felt even faster than last week, where I was spending a lot of energy keeping track of my exact placement on the course and how many laps I’d done.

During the sixth lap, just past the halfway mark, my bowels were grumbling and I knew that I’d need to take advantage of an upcoming exit or miss out for another third of a mile or more. It’s kinda like when your fuel’s entering the Danger Zone on a road trip and you see signs for a lonely gasoline outpost. Do you take advantage of it? Do you pass it up with hopes of finding one afterward? My thoughts were changing every few seconds, but I ultimately went with latter choice. I wasn’t more than three houses down when another seismic grumbling criticized my error and I U-turned back to the house.

I was off the course for about ten minutes, but oh, it was so great. To emulate being on an actual course, I took a few gulps from my course water bottle, rather than another house supply, because that would just be cheating, yo. This also meant that by the time I was completing my run and my body was heating up, I was running dry.

I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be able to recover from my pit stop, but I was back at it after another quick sip with five miles and change to go. I was gone, feeling like a million bucks. Those miles melted away too as the sun started to rise beyond the horizon. I was feeling some slight pains around my feet, but that’s been normal. Aside from a slight side cramp about a mile after the pit stop, I had no physical issues. I also kept it slower for that reason. I also managed to claim another elevation change record (446 feet climbed), which is why I enjoy this circuit. When I got back to the house, though, I really had to use the restroom again. Heh? Please be sure to observe the NNORD Rule at all times!

Next week is 4-6-4-14 (my second half-marathon!) and then a setback week with a shorter long run. Woo! See you on Saturday!

Oh, one last thing: leaving the house at 3AM and it’s still 95F? Man…

Run #M129 - 4 miles - 7/22/14

Duration: 48:11

Distance: 4.41 miles

Rate: 10:56 per mile

I swear I’ll slow down in time for the twelve-miler on Thursday! I swear! Haha, stop twisting my arm, haha!

Anyway, I can’t remember much about the run in particular, minus the fact that I was breezing through it, it wasn’t as terribly hot and I had to shift down a gear through the third mile. I seem to go faster on uphills and slower on downhills. Hmm. I’ve had an abundance of energy following M128 and running fast on that didn’t seem to wreck me like I’d imagined. Still, I need to slow down before I snap something.

Anyway, long run on Thursday, but you already knew that! Twelve miles! But you already…

Run #M128 - 6 miles - 7/20/14

Duration: 1:13:14

Distance: 6.55 miles

Rate: 11:11 per mile

Uh, so I was angry or something in the hour or so headed up to this run, so I didn’t really want to run at all. So, rather than not run, I just rage-ran for six miles. Oops! Went too fast, undoubtedly, and I’ll be paying for it. Oh well!

I rushed out the door almost as soon as I got home because it was practically freezing out (79F) and there was a nice, cool breeze. I drank up, hit the road without a hat. It warmed up a bit in the third and fourth miles as the sun rolled out, but it was fine. I did, however, start feeling parched toward the end, having not brought my bottle, so once I got home, I easily downed a liter of water.

Also, in the second mile, someone’s yippy dog came chasing after me, owner unseen. I pushed it away mid-stride. Fun.

Four miles on Tuesday!

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY.

Today is a very special day.

Before I moved out to Arizona last March, one thing I wanted to do was get in (better) shape. The plan was to do a walk every morning in hopes that when we went to E3 in June, I wouldn’t be the weak creature that over two years of call center life had reduced me to.

I didn’t end up walking every day and largely gave up on it by the time June rolled around. E3 came and went and while it was absolutely tiring, I wasn’t dead. Still, I wasn’t very committed to getting into shape afterward and it looked like, yet again, I was passing up on a big opportunity to stop hating my body.

Actually, I hated myself. I was out of work and broke. I still couldn’t stand for more than half an hour without being in irritating pain. Nothing was working out. Everything I’d set out to do had failed and I was very alone in a strange new place. It was the absolute worst. I got very depressed.

It was a year ago today that I decided to change things around.

It was becoming an incredibly hot July morning when I sat in bed flipping through Facebook on my tablet for a second look at a Vibram FiveFingers ad. Weird, huh? It was a picture of runner Ruby Muir running the Tarawera Ultra-marathon, a 100km run through New Zealand’s northern forests. She was doing it in Vibrams, which I’d started wearing a few months earlier, prior to our LA trip. This intrigued me. So I read up on the race.

Then I read up on other races. Then still others. Then local marathons. I kept digging and digging until nearly noon when I had to force myself to sleep.

I decided that morning that I wanted to run a marathon.

At first, I was going to keep it a secret. I was doing it for me. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone, so what was the big deal? I’d just surprise everyone with the transition. I decided against it, though and it was all for the better. It was still another three weeks before I filled everyone in on my plan, but I had tons of support and, as kind of a shock to me, it turns out I was inspiring a ton of others. Over the past year I’ve received a lot of messages asking for help and I’ve been receiving a ton of compliments, which I receive with a bashful blush each time. I’m just doing it for me.

Today I don’t hate my body anymore. I’m still broke, but I like how I look. I like how I feel. I’ve had a few stumbles along the way, but I’ve lost 105 pounds and I’ve run more than 14.5 miles in one uninterrupted stretch. In less than a month and a half, I’m going to Colorado Springs and I’m proving myself in my first competitive half-marathon in the company of friends in the comfort of home.

I can’t wait.

I’ll keep you posted.

Run #M127 - 4 miles - 7/19/14

Duration: 50:49

Distance: 4.41 miles

Rate: 11:31 per mile

I’m keeping this short and sweet because I’ve got a bigger post to file just after this. I know, I’m a busy man, but this is a busy day! This was a breezy run under a mostly cloudy sky. No water, sunglasses, no hat. Went nose-breathing for the first mile and a half. I was taking it pretty slow throughout, but in the fourth mile, I decided to kick it up a notch and sunk my rate from about 11:50 to the pace you see above. Felt great!

Six miles tomorrow!

Run #M126 - 11 miles - 7/17/14

Duration: 2:17:20

Distance: 11.64 miles

Rate: 11:48 per mile

Heeeeeeeeeeey.

So if you read the incredible tome that we, collectively, call Run #M125, you’ll know I had this week’s long run course planned out! Just after I headed out the door this morning, however, I decided to throw it all in the garbage. I did some measurements on the block I live on and came to 1.05 miles online, which was just perfect for what I wanted to do for long runs. I had envisioned still running on the hottest of days and keeping some supplies in my front yard to pick up at specific intervals - like more water - which I could do if my route took me right by the house, rather than through a nexus a mile away. So, I decided to test this theory on an unproven course. It was successful.

Each lap turned out to be 1.1 miles exactly, meaning that for an eleven-mile run - and understand, this was math conducted purely while suffering Runner’s Brain - I would need to do ten laps, plus a little exit tangent of my choosing. I don’t know hos this all worked out, but it did and I’m glad. I switched my Gear Live watch to mute in an attempt to stem RunKeeper crashes and never once did it crash. Then again, it was between 3:30AM and 6AM, so I didn’t get any notifications to see anyway.

This hot lap also allowed me to emphasize elevation changes, something that’s very hard to do in the flat floor of the Phoenix valley. Each lap included the highest point on any previous run, but also one of the lowest, so it wasn’t just an effort of length, but climbing and descending as well. RunKeeper informs me that this required more climbing than any other run I’ve ever done - including the 14.6 miler I did at the beginning of May, my previous peak. So, I’ll be working this course on long runs going forward, but using my traditional “scenic route” courses on shorter outings.

Just a quick note on the Gear Live. I wore the battery down to 9%, but when I plugged it in, it wouldn’t charge. I checked the different stages of the charge cable and everything was fine there. Restarted, nothing. Turns out my sweat was interfering with the pogo pins where the charge connection is made. Be sure to wipe that area clean before you plug it in!

4-6-4-12 next week!