Run for the Cheetah 2008

A few Saturdays ago I attended the Run for the Cheetah, a 5k at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The zoo is a fine place for a run; the entrance and savannah (and race start) are about 100′ lower in elevation than the primate building and aquarium. The route, as we found out a few minutes before the starting whistle, would encompass two laps of the hill.

My memory of the race: beep, escape crowd, gradual uphill; monkeys! Left turn, winding path, giraffes! Past the flamingos, hang a right, big uphill. Tortoises, cheetahs, big downhill. Kangaroos lined up along a fence, snouts flopping side-to-side like tennis spectators. Lap; repeat. The attentive kangaroos made my day, and I enjoyed walking around the zoo afterward seeing the unusually attentive critters pre-opening-time.

Unless I’m mistaken, this is my first 5k running race. 23:07, a 7:27/mi pace averaged over this elevation profile.
Given the coincident start of the fall semester, this concludes the bulk of my 2008 training as well, for a total of about 700 miles of cycling, 600 miles on foot and 10 miles in the water. Time (no time?) for some mild strength training and occasional anti-stress running before rebuilding a winter base.

Training 2008-W26-28

We’re definitely into unstructured-summer-training (also known as fit-in-exercise-when-I-can) mode. I have enough on my schedule that the training volume required to extend my repertoire to a half-ironman distance isn’t in the cards. Failing that, my B goal is something like “stay in share and enjoy the warm weather,” which I do.

2008-W26 was a bicycle commuting week (I’d hoped to dedicate at least one week this summer to riding every day). MWF to Highland Heights (a short ride in the morning, and slightly longer ride home to avoid pee-em traffic; TTh to University Circle, where the ride is longer but downhill both ways. All said, just under 100 miles for the week. Sunday I hosted the Roads Scholars for 9.2 mi around the suburbs at 10:30/mi.

W27 featured a Wednesday evening trail run with some CTC folks. (I should really send in my USD20 registration fee, given that I lurk their training groups semi-frequently.) The usual route: 5.5 mi at 9:50/mi with some quality hills and spirited creek-hopping for good measure. Assorted bike rides, say, 40 miles.

W28 snuck in commuting on T and Th, and the regular trail run on W. 35 miles by bicycle and 6.3 mi at 9:48/mi on shoes.

Those shoes, by the way, now have approximately 550 miles on them, and no longer feel good on my feet. I’m not sure what the rule of thumb is for running shoes, but I suspect that’s a little long. I really dislike shoe shopping, mostly because I think a reasonable pair of shoes (sneakers, work shoes, dress shoes) should cost $50, and they don’t.

That 550 miles figure is summed up by SportTracks, a freely-available, open-source alternative to Garmin’s Training Center software or MotionBased website. It also seems far superior, in part because of the many plug-in modules written by various users. When downloading my GPS data (which ST can do directly), I tag a workout with my shoes, and it adds the distance into the total. I’m not sure what happens if I switch shoes mid-run; fortunately I’m not yet so into mixed-terrain running to worry about it.

Training 2008W23-25

I took Monday off. I don’t remember why; my calendar says “Lyndhurst council mtg 8pm”, but I don’t think I went.

Tuesday I took advantage of an early Julian bedtime and headed out for a mini-brick: 6 miles on the bike over to Performance to see if they had caps for my cleats. They didn’t have any that fit my Teflon-endowed Looks, which might reflect on the availability of such a product or the incompetence of the hired help. I’ll try a real bike shop next time I’m in the neighborhood. I digress. Having ridden home, I switched to sneakers for a surprisingly quick 5k. Like, 7:30 quick. Like, sub-24-minute quick. It’s high time to run another sprint, or at least a 5k with race numbers, to claim that PR.

A couple of rainy days stumped my bicycle commute, but Friday was nice. I rode to work, then took the medium-distance route home, down the valley. 26 miles total, in about 90 minutes including traffic-related pauses.

On Sunday the 8th was the CTC’s Sunday in June ride in Burton, Ohio. I rode the 100-km route with Andrew and Scott, completing the trip in about 3:50 riding time. The weather was beautiful (sunny and warm, a bit windy on some of the more open roads); the ride was through Amish country, which aside from passing by the occasional horse-drawn buggy or clusters of Amlets playing outdoors in their Sunday best (rather than, I presume, in the air conditioning with eyes glues to Nickelodeon like their modern brethren) didn’t add much of note. But, road conditions were good, and riding with gobs of other cyclists is always fun. Here’s a Google Maps view of our route.

I commuted a couple of times to school the following week, 17-18-ish miles round-trip. On Sunday, Andrew, Scott and I again hit a morning ride, which we dovetailed into the regular Roads Scholars run for a 20+8-mile brick. But, I haven’t downloaded the Garmin info to claim any numbers for it yet. More to come.

My legs were still a bit sore that afternoon as I boarded the plane to New Orleans for a few days of scientific adventure at the 2008 SNM meeting (note: link is not as dangerous as you might think). Monday I took off from running (which had nothing to do with touring Bourbon Street the night before, but I did get some leisurely jogs in on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, about an hour apiece, I’d guess 5-6 miles. I was highly motivated by post-run beignets.

The Friday evening following, J and I put the jogging stroller to its first semi-serious test around my usual neighborhood 5k route. No problem: he woke up about 20 minutes into the run and spent the remainder happily looking around. So, we tried again on Saturday: a family 5k at Bedford Reservation (sans hound; we’ll add him into the mix at a future date) along with {J,R}V, with another 5 tacked on without the stroller, for fear of sleeping-position-induced neck soreness for the little one. In retrospect, though, he didn’t seem to have any ill effects at all.

Training 2008W21-22

I took a week off of anything other than stretching after the marathon and am now slowly starting to move my legs again. [1] Something like:

Sunday (marathon)
The next Sunday: 3.8 mi around the neighborhood @ 8:22/mi
Tuesday: bicycle commute (20 mi @ 17mph)
Wednesday: Trail run at N. Chagrin with CTC group, 5.6 mi @ 10:10/mi
Sunday: Ride 1 hr @ 15 mph average, medium effort

Sunday’s ride was down into the valley and back: average 22 mph there (peak 35mph; note to self: check handlebar alignment before doing that again), 11 mph back. I stopped at Caribou for unleaded beans on the way back, confusing the bean-counter by asking for 1/4 lb in each of two small bags. Isn’t that why bike jersey pockets are symmetric?

My HRM claims that my max for the ride was 239. 239?! That wasn’t a single goofy beat either; according to the data shown, I spent some time in 200+. Maybe my metal spokes rotate at RF frequency, interfering with the wireless HR transmission? Given that I’ve maxed out in the high 190s during hill repeat runs, I find these rates hard to believe. Then again, the profile over time makes sense: after 15 minutes or so, my HR settled to 160 and stayed there.

Wednesday’s run was beautiful: after work, sunny with a cool breeze, full of summery sights and smells. I’m glad the CTC regulars had some idea of how to construct an hour run from the myriad of available trails; I’ll definitely hit this weekly meeting as my schedule allows. Here’s the gmap of our run route. And here’s why my legs were more tired afterward than on my traditional 6-miler on the streets:

[1] I was going to write a footnote to that, but I don’t remember why.

Training 2008-W16

After last Sunday’s long run, I took a day off then managed to hit the pool between otherwise scheduled events on Tuesday for a quick 1000m, all in 10×100 @ 2:30. That’s not quick at all, in fact, but I might need some time with a coach to evolve from floundering-gorilla status.

My apologies to any gracefully-swimming gorilla readers.

Wednesday I hit the evening Striders run for the usual mile warmup to the store, 4.5 miles at a tempo pace (~8:30) and a mile jog home. I ran into (and therewith) a fellow Sammy alum who I hadn’t seen in about a decade; a pleasant surprise.

Friday was beautiful and springly: call it 65 and sunny, near-perfect afternoon-break-from-the-office-run weather. I was due for some intervals, so I did 10x400m sprints (“sprints” being relative, in the 7:15-7:30/mi range) with 400m jogs (10:30) in-between. I was impressed in the aftergraph that my sprints stayed quite consistent in pace, given how tired by legs had gotten by the final few.

The weekend was rainier, but I caught a bit of partly-sunny on Sunday afternoon for an 11-mile loop eastward, downhill to Gates Mills village and then back up the Chagrin valley and home. I was aiming for a marathon-pace run (not knowing quite what marathon-pace is) and ended up with a 9:20 moving average. That included some crazy hills, so I’ll do the rest of my workouts assuming a 9:00-9:15 marathon pace, meaning next week’s 20-miler gets a 9:30-9:45 goal.

Spring weather is good.

Training 2008-W15

Wednesday morning, 6AM. I don’t believe that; perhaps I didn’t DST my watch. Either way, I’d been putting off a tempo run, still sore from the weekend half-marathon and struggled through 7 miles @ 8:52 before work. It was cold, rainy, unsteady and unpleasant overall.

Sunday morning, long slow run in the heights (gmap). Both goals met with 20.1 miles @ 10:01 moving pace. That satellite view is fun; I ran past N houses, where N is large. Doing the marathon at 10:00 should thus be no trouble; we’ll see how 20 miles goes again in a couple weeks, and maybe I’ll go for 4 hours (9:00) instead.

Training 2008-W14

Week 14 already! The marathon is at week 20, so lots of miles yet to log.

I started out the week sore from Sunday’s run, taking Monday to rest and hitting the pool Tuesday for a relaxed 1000 yd plus a few lengths of rotation drills. Swimming felt great, and my breathing was comfortable throughout (nasal cilia: “ahem, except for when you practiced flip-turns”).

On Wednesday I did a lunch run from the office: intervals of 1km, 2, 1, 1 with ~500m jogs in-between. At least, it was close to that. I used the garmin to measure the distances, but have it set statute measurement. I did just fine calculating metric distance and pace in my warmup and first interval, but after my legs starting suctioning available oxygen, my processing speed really slowed down. (I wonder what happens physiologically here — it does seem real: that doing calculations is much more difficult while running quickly when (I presume) I’m running an oxygen deficit. Just lower PO2 up there?) Anyway, according to the GPS output I ended up doing something that looked like intervals after all.

My usual weekend long run group was heading to Strongsville for the CWRRC Spring Classic half marathon, either to volunteer or run. Joining them seemed easier than plotting our my own route (13 miles was on my training schedule anyway), so I pinned on a race number for my first legitimate HM. Conditions were awesome: about 40 when we started and a bit foggy, warming up to perhaps 50 and sunny over the course of the race. The course was a reasonably flat route through the Mill Stream Run metropark: mostly two laps of an out-and-back, so we got to share high-fives a great number of times with colleagues of a different pace.

I covered the first 2/3 of the distance alongside a colleague of similar pace, but then Chris (who had never run 13 miles before – ha!) went superman on us and sped up for a negative split, finishing at 1:46:01. I kept my pace, picking it up a little bit in the last mile (must.. beat.. girls..) to finish in 1:48:10. That’s a PR for me (in the sense that I’ve also never run that fast in training), and a confidence-inspiring official 8:15/mile average, or 8:09 in GPS-land (which measured my run as 13.3, maybe accounting for starting so far back at the beginning, or perhaps I did a lot of drunken swerving after the water stops).

Training 2008-W13

A ‘long run’ week. Two more of these, with shorter-run weeks interspersed, followed by a couple weeks of taper before the upcoming jogging tour of Cleveland.

I did my tempo run Tuesday around SE-L. First shorts weather run of the season (low 40s, little wind), which always feels great and didn’t disappoint. 7.6 miles at 8:40/mile.

For Sunday’s long run, I found mention of a group run in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Sure enough, I show up circa half past six and there are gobs of runners stretching out and finishing their venti joes. More than a handful were there to touch up their training for Boston; fortunately for me, others took a more casual pace, so I had a few opportunities for chatting along the way. 18.1 miles at 9:12/mile “moving pace”, after the Garmin software graciously subtracts my 10-minute pause to shed some layers and load up on albuterol partway through.

Training 2008-W11+12

Last week, some intervals on the (indoor track) Tuesday: 5×800 at 4:00 with 200m jogs in-between. CFWU before, then some jogging afterward, say 4 miles total. I did legs+core strength training on Wednesday, which felt good but put me in the sore house for the balance of the week. Wimpy!

Sunday’s run made up for it, though. 16.3 miles at 9:06. Nice weather: chilly with dry streets. I don’t need any more long runs at that pace; though it felt great at the time, a week later my knees are still a little shaky. Motionbased plotted this pretty histogram of my pace.

This week was a cut-back before the distance-building ladder (ca. 8 weeks to go). 8x400m on the treadmill on Wednesday, then 7 miles Friday and 8 on Saturday, each at about a 10:00 pace.

If I lump last week’s long run in with this week’s runs (Sunday to Saturday), then this is technically my first 35-mile week. But, I won’t.