Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 26 - Cyclone Anaya's

Tonight Jennie and I had the pleasure of hanging out with some of our best buds in Houston at Cyclone Anaya's (my favorite Mexican place in town)! If your pic is not here that could mean 1 of 2 things:
1. You were not there. (Too bad - you missed a really great time!)
2. I did you a favor by deleting your druken, eye's half shut, photo from my camera!

Johnny D and I

Former Frenchy, me, brother, Arch Nemesis' boyfriend ;)

Me and two newly weds!

Me and the Koz!

JD and I.

The Wright's and I. Did I ever mention he is the best barber in town?!

I think this was the last photo of the night...there always becomes that point in time where the evidence or the proof of what happened the night before is not necessary!

Great fun with great people! Tomorrow, I am sure, will be another one of those bittersweet days. :(

July 26 - Marathon Paced run

I have been dreading today for since my vacation began! Today Jack Daniel's called for 12 miles of marathon-paced running (6:30 - 6:45 min/mile). Now you would figure that if your goal is to run 26 miles at a particular pace then running only 12 should be easy....right?! I think for me it is mostly mental...it just seems like such a grind when you do not have some poor volunteer to splash with cold water and gatorade every 1.5 miles (Ooops!!).

Today I was also particularily delighted (and excited) because JD and I were to be joined by one of Houston's finest runners, for any distance. I must take a moment to give him a proper introduction...you know the kind that a ring announcer gives the top fighter of some heavy-weight championship title match. So, now introducing into Bear Creek Park, in the crazy colored shorts is "The Fountain of Youth", "The Marathon Machine", "The New PR EVERYTIME I read Stridelines Guy", "The Pizza Man", iiiiiittttttttt's Mister Yoooooooodeeeeer!

This run was obviously an easy run for JY but I know JD and I were both really stoked about having him there...misery loves company - especially when it is great company! Before the run JD and I were also trying to think of simple 3 word questions for JY that would require 5-10 minute response. That way it would seem like we were actually "chit-chatting" rather than gasping for air. Some sample questions included, "What is the meaning of life?" or "Could you give us a mile by mile description of your last marathon? Ultra-marathon?" or "Why?"

The workout went as follows:
2 mile warmup (7:21 min/mile)
6:37/6:37/6:30/6:35/6:32/6:30/6:30/6:29/6:30/6:25/6:24/6:10 min/mile
2 mile cooldown (7:12 min/mile)

We nailed it! Here is my HR (red) and pace (blue) chart. You can see that we stopped briefly for water a few times. Given the Houston weather and the length of the workout - this is the smart thing to do! You can see the HR asymptotically approaches the high 160's throughout the run until the final mile of effort (mile 13 - 14). I found another gear here, which was not necessary given the objectives of the workout, but it just felt good!

This afternoon (4pm - gross - totally hot) I played Ultimate Frisbee with some buddies. Usually when I play my Garmin tells me that I run 4-6 miles. I figure today I ran 5 miles during the game. Ultimate frisbee screws up my legs like nobody's business, but it is sooooo fun!

Total Mileage for the day = 21 miles.

Lovin' the Heat and the salty nutz!

July 24 - Back to Houston - Bittersweet

Today we woke up early and boarded the plane to hang with our buds in Houston. I find days like today are always bittersweet. It was very sad to be leaving my parents (AGAIN) as I continue to try and forge my own path through this world. Sadly my path has taken me to the opposite side of the world and it does not look like there is an off-ramp in site any time soon. But as I leave I am also very excited to go rejoin my awesome friends in Houston and return back to my live in Paris. To be honest, I just wish days like today did not exist - I wish I could just quantum leap from one person/place to another.

It was not quite a quantum leap but as soon as I arrived in Houston I was dreading the run that I promised with my main man JD. Again, this was another bittersweet moment. I was really excited that I got to run with JD again - it is something that I miss daily here in Paris - but the rain associated with Hurricane Dolly was incredible!! I just did not have the energy to go splashing around the Houston puddles today!

No worries, after waiting for the storm(s) to pass over, we hit George Bush Park for 7 easy miles. It was great! We had the pathway was all to ourselves unless, of course, you count the snake we saw on the pathway. Thankfully my eyes are still trained for that characteristic 'S' shape coiled up on the pathway and disaster was diverted. I have learned not to trust JD when it comes to snakes on the pathway, so I am glad that I saw this one!! (Long story, which I am sure he is tired of me telling everyone!!)

We followed the run with a little dinner at the Red Onion Grill. I had the Chicken Brazil and it was AWESOME! I have never been here before, but I highly recommend it!

July 23 - Tom's House of Pizza

My absolute favorite place to eat pizza is Tom's House of Pizza. It is a thin crust, very simple, not overly complicated with gimicks (i.e. stuffed crust) pizza. And wouldn't you know - there is a brand new one in Okotoks now (only 7-10 minutes from home)!! Okotoks is all grown up now...I really do not think that it can get any greater now! In fact, Okotoks has changed so much that I am quite sure that if you were to drop me anywhere in town, without prior knowledge of where I was, I would not be able to correctly identify it. In fact, would you believe that my old elementary school (Percy Pegler...Go Panthers!) is now a French Immersion school?! I guess I was born about 20 years too early because that would be REALLY useful right about now!

Jennie and I - acting important at Tom's

This pizza is all mine...

I guess it is a good thing that I am back on my running schedule...that cheese will go straight to my hips!!


July 23 - Keepin' it Real Part II

Seeing that today is the 3rd day in a row of running after my brief hiatus I figured it was time that I hit a quality workout. I will spare you the details but my workout was supposed to be really hard for really long periods of time...all I could manage was really hard for really short periods of time with really long breaks! The McDonald's slogan expression on the pictures below should about sum it up (I'm lovin' it!).

I have to give props to mom for taking this near perfect running photo. I have a nearly full stride, both feet are off the ground, and it is centered. Hmmm...it also appears that I am definitely a heal-striker!

Maybe I should focus more on running and less on the camera?!

Jennie and I "racing". It almost looks like we are holding hands!

Mom and I "racing"...I cannot believe that she is beating me!! Well, I guess I can - she ran a 32 minute debut 5 km this year!

So, if you are a hard core reader wondering, "where are the usual quality workout plots and analysis?" Well, let's just say I tasted bacon the whole time (from breakfast 1.5 hours earlier), my mind was totally elsewhere, and I did all I could to keep breakfast in its place. I still managed 5.25 miles of threshold (10.11 miles total) and some serious heartburn though! I should also mention that I lost 3 pounds during the course of this workout. This was a good reminder for me that although I am on vacation I still need to be diligent about hydration.

Time for my next favorite Canadian treat - Tom's House of Pizza!


July 23 - Keepin' it Real

I saw this sign in the new neighbourhood just across from my old High School. I am glad to see that the kids these days are keepin' it real!

(I think the sign meant to say, "No dumping in THIS area"...those clever kids!)

July 22 - Saskatoon Farm

Just next to my parent's house is (arguably) one of Okotoks' top attractions - The Saskatoon Farm. What Okotoks is really known for and is, infact, named after is The Big Rock. The Big Rock is the largest known glacial erratic in the world and is actually what inspired the name of this area given by the Blackfoot Indians (read the link for more details!).

But, we cannot go to a place for tea and biscuits until we have eaten a good breakfast at home...right?! Here we are on my parents patio enjoying some breakfast outside. Please note that Jennie and I made a special coffee run in town to get our favorite brands. Jennie still supports the evil empire...it is a constant topic of discussion with our councellor!!

After breakfast, and before the Saskatoon Farm, dad and I decided we better discuss our latest geological and geophysical problems. "Ahhh grasshopper...you have so much to learn!"

Here we are at the Saskatoon farm. Some recent hail destroyed all of mom and dad's hanging baskets so we thought we better get some replacements.

I guess mom did not raise me very well - here she is hard at work while I am pointing out the fact that she is, indeed, hard at work! Be careful mom, do not let that fall on you!

Here is dad with the baskets we chose. Why I am making all these old people do all this heavy lifting around me?! (this face is similar to dad's white water rafting face!)

Oh yeah - ran again today! Ran 6.32 miles at an average pace of 7:19 min/mile. It actually felt kind of good. Oh yeah, I guess I do like running! The run was totally required since you can clearly see from the above pictures that no "cross-training" was done or even attempted!

Lovin' being at home!

Monday, July 21 - Hanging with the neice and nephew

Today was a special day as I got to spend a little bit more time with my neice, Julie, and nephew, Carter. I had never met Julie until this trip - I was really looking forward to it. The last time I saw Carter he had just learned to walk. Well, he can definitely walk now! I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed these 2, but if you have ever been around little one's like this I do not think that I have to...it should be self-explanatory!

Spent the afternoon with dad at the Okotoks DAWG's game. It was so hot 'n sunny that an old guy passed out standing up behind us. All that I can say is that he is durn lucky that there was a recycle bin directly infront of him to break his fall. (I know those of you in Houston are asking yourself, "What is a recycle bin?") .

Oh yeah...I started running again today!! I almost forgot to even write about it! After last week's dismal 20 miles I knew that I had to hit the workouts again or start kissing my Berlin goals goodbye. I do not mind missing 1 week of training when it is active and spent with awesome people, but 2 weeks and I risk the chance of Koza heckling me from the finish line!

I ran 8.18 miles at an average pace of 7:20 min/mile. To be honest I hated every single second of it. I ran in Calgary's Fish Creek Park (the largest urban park in Canada) and was surprised to see that they did not have the same tranny tolerance as the French...perhaps I have been overseas too long?!!

Keepin' it real...

July 19 - GAME OVER

(Just Kidding)

Today was my cousin's, Robert, wedding. He was wed to the lovely Kara. Jennie and I spent the day trying to catch up with extended family. This, as always, proved to be an impossible task. I had not seen most of them for 5 years (since our wedding)...perhaps I will see them all again in another 5 and we can continue or conversations!

Here is dad, mom, Jennie, me, and Barbara - all cleaned up after a few days in the mountains!

ps- I am also happy to report that Jennie and I snuck off during "half-time" to get my first Labatt's blue of the trip...they said "I do" and I said "I'll have another!".


Friday, July 25, 2008

July 18 - Whitewater Rafting: Kicking Horse River (BC)

Today, against my mother's better judgement, we went white water rafting! Dad and myself had gone before, which seemed like eons ago, but mom and Jennie never had the thrill of experiencing glacial-fed white water slapping them in the faces while frantically white-knuckle paddling with their hearts thumping in their throats. Surprisingly mom did not need a lot of convincing as she so elegantly told me on the phone before I arrived in Canada, "If God wanted me to die that day it will not matter if I am in a raft or not!" I love her logic - now I know that I can convince her to do anything!! :)

We chose to go with Glacier Raft Company - the longest running white water rafting company on the Kicking Horse.

This is a schematic of the route that we took. For the most part we navigated Class 2 and 3 rapids. The Lower Canyon was especially sweet as we had an 11 minute run over class 4 rapids. Those 11 minutes felt like 2!

This is out boat in the Upper Canyon. I am on the front left; Jennie is on the front right. Wearing the red helmet in the back is our guide Pat.

It looks like we survived! Now you can see mom behind me and Dad behind Jennie.

We stopped halfway for a steak BBQ on the river. Please note the sweet, sweet "Farmer John" wetsuits that we get to wear.

This is where the trip really got fun. Pat told us that the #1 rule about White Water rafting pictures is to look cool when they are being taken. I am now sitting at the back, doing my best to "look cool".

My sister sent me this comment when she saw the pics - "ha ha!those are great! david wins the "best poser in extreme conditions award."

Still lookin' cool...but where did everybody else go?!

Thumbs up all the way...sweet! (What happened to the main man sitting up front in the boat?..That does not look cool at all!)

We finished the day unscathed with an ice cold Kokanee beer and headed back to Calgary.

The best part of this day was sitting in the back of the boat watching Jennie's and my parent's reactions. Jennie had a big smile on her face the whole time, mom looked like she made a few "deposits" in her wet-suit, and dad's face when the cold water hit him head-on was priceless!

Good times!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Travel Canada - Updated

Today my parents, sister, Jennie and I hiked 23 km along the Yoho Valley Iceline trail. This has always been one of my favorite hikes in all of the Canadian Rockies and was the thing that I looked forward to the most upon returning to Canada (well, not counting the Canadian Beer of course!). Here are some pics that do absolutely NO justice to the beauty of the trail. If this does not encourage you to want to visit Canada, then perhaps I should bring you back some beer samples instead!

Here you see our lovely hike route in red. It takes us from the Takkakaw falls parking lot up and to the right on the picture where we traverse along the toes of where glaciers used to be (but with spectacular views of the glaciers across the valley), then we drop back down into the valley where we can choose to climb up Whaleback mountain or detour around to Twin Falls.we detoured due to weather. After Twin Falls you follow the river back home.

This view is zoomed out a little to show just how majestic this part of the world is.

We start at Takkakaw falls, which is (arguably) the highest vertical waterfall in Canada. There is some debate as to whether or not the falls are one, or 2 seperate falls, but they are spectacular nonetheless!

Then we hike up to the iceline and get this totally ugly view of the Yoho valley. For most of our hike we were surrounded by millions of years of geologic mastery. We climbed ~ 2000ft at this point.

This is (from left to right) my dad, sister, myself, and Jennie enjoying the view that took ~ 1.5 hours to earn. Takkakaw falls is in the background. Hals glacier is at the upper left - this glacier feeds Takkakaw falls.

Jennie and I. She is a brave girl getting in and around my sweaty pits after all that climbing! (so fresh and so clean!)

Here we are starting our descent. Mom, myself, Jennie, sister (left to right).

The trail is littered with spectacular waterfalls. Here are Twin Falls. Back when Jennie and I were dating we camped close to here for a date. Yep, ours was not a typical romance - our first date was back country camping!

Then we stumble upon a wild daisy in the mountain meadows...

We followed the Yoho River back home... The blue/green color of the water is caused by "rock flour" created by the glaciers. When the glacier melts, the rock flour is added to the water. It is NOT caused by algae, which many people think. (See, going hiking with a geo-nerd is not only full of great scenery, but is educational as well!)

The final falls of the day are Laughing Falls. These falls are 3.9km from the trailhead. I suspect that they are called Laughing Falls because there is a little ledge ~ 1/3 from the top that sprays the water back up, which (to me) gives the appearance of a very jovial falls!

Days like today remind why I never could call myself a "runner" before I moved to Houston - living here I was too busy hiking and biking in the mountains. Can you blame me?!

Tomorrow is white water rafting down the Kicking Horse River. I am taking my parents so let's all hope that my next blog is as equally upbeat and is not a medical report about some seniors (i.e. my parents) breaking their hips!

Later, eh!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Great White North

For those of you who read my blog I think that my absence of regular blogging is a clear sign that I am, indeed, on vacation! As you may or may not be aware I have already left Houston to return back to the Mother Ship in Canada on Monday. However, my absence of blogging has me slightly worried that I am only adding to people's stereotypes of Canada. For example, I can only imagine one of my Houston readers clicking on my blog and after seeing the SAME post that they have seen for the last 3 days thinking something like, "Well, he is in Canada now so he probably cannot access internet or phone until he returns." Or something like, "He probably has drunk way too much Canadian beer and is passed out behind an igloo somewhere." So, I decided I better make some time to quickly recap the last few days so that I am not adding wood to the Canadian Stereotypes fire, eh!

Sunday morning I enjoyed a casual 8 miles with my main man JD and SugarLand Steve. (As for my splits...who knows - my Garmin is buried somewhere in my suitcase right now!) I tell you what, I will gladly swap the perfect running conditions in Paris for the hot 'n muggy Houston conditions if it means I get to run with my homies here in Houston. Boy do I miss running with these guys. Afterwards I 'wasted' the morning away at Panera Bread with some more great company! At Panera Bread I was asked about an earlier comment I made where I said that I will never wear Nike shoes - do I have a political agenda against Nike?

The only political agenda I really have (because we Canadians are too docile to carry too many chips on our shoulders) is against Starbucks. Nike makes some of the best short shorts around, so I could not possibly dream of banning Nike from my wardrobe! But I started banning Starbucks about a year ago now and I see now that they are closing ~ 600 stores...looks like I am not the only one who chooses to go elsewhere. So, why the self-inflicted ban? Well, I used to go to Starbucks twice a day for a grande BLACK Americano. I used to get their drip coffee but I hated the inconsistency of their choice of blends. Americano is a consistent choice as it is just espresso + water (Tell the French that and they all cringe at the thought of wrecking a perfectly good espresso!). Awhile ago Starbucks raised their coffee prices because of increased energy costs. "Fine," I thought, "I will roll with it." No sooner than 8 months later the cost of my Americano increased again. "Why?" I asked my local barrista at my favorite Starbucks location. He replied, "Increased milk costs." I looked at him slightly confused, then I looked deep into my BLACK americano for a moment to ponder, then I looked back at him and asked, "Where is the milk in my coffee?" I refuse to subsidize the $5 cappacino or other milk-based concoction with my BLACK coffee. If some soccer mom wants here non-fat, skinny, upside down, semi-sweet, 160 degree, frothed, vanilla cappacino she can pay for the ingredients herself - I will not use my regular black coffee to subsidize her! And since then, no Starbucks for me!

Ok, off my soapbox and back to my vacation! I left Houston Monday morning for Calgary. Upon arriving I ran 10 easy miles (I am guessing that the average pace was ~ 7:18 min/mile). Running in Calgary felt the same as Houston in the sense that I had to try very hard to find the oxygen in the air! In Houston I had difficulty separating the water/humidity from the oxygen and in Calgary the oxygen is just too sparse! Everything about this run sucked...I was tired, mentally fatigued, and started to feel a bit of a sore throat coming on...

That sore throat takes me to this morning where I woke up feeling miserable. I got up early to try and squeeze out my quality workout as I have a very busy rest of my week up in the Canadian rockies. The quality workout called for 7 miles of Threshold running with some minor breaks scattered throughout. I managed 2 miles of Threshold pace, felt dizzy and thought that I was going to faint - I felt absolutely terrible. So, I have decided to blow off the quality workout as my body was giving me clear messages that it was tired. My recent travel combined with the fact that I tried to run my threshold run just 10 hours after running 10 miles the night before, and the fact that when I blow my nose that things just are not the right color all caught up with me (TMI, I know...sorry!). I managed to run 10 miles total. Normally when I cut workouts short I regret it later and tell myself, "Durn David, you could have done it" but today I have no such feelings. That tells me that I made the right call - my body needs a moment to catch up with all the changes I have thrown its way. On the bright side, I think it is just fatigue - I do not feel any potential injuries or nagging pains!

Tomorrow we are off to the mountains for hiking and whitewater rafting, which also means I probably will not run until Saturday. JD - what is the quality workout for Sat? (I "accidentally" forgot my running schedule in Paris!)

So, this week does not look like one I will fondly look back on when my training is done, but I know I will definitely look back on it fondly with my "family goggles" on and cherish every second of it - that is definitely more important to me.

ps - John - Yeah, I love the Landreth. I ran my very first marathon in them. My only complaint with them was that they were about 30 minutes too slow for me!!

Later, eh!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bienvenue a Houston!

Today I received a "friendly reminder" as to how "awesome" it is to run in the Houston heat! Fun , fun! In the last 12 hours I arrived in Houston from Paris (10 hour flight), hurried over to the best running store in all of Houston to buy not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 new pairs of sneakers (this should keep me on the trails for a few miles), met my buds for a regular priced beer (i.e. less than 10 bucks), had a quick nap, then headed out to Bear Creek and Cullen Park for 15 easy miles with my main man JD. It is amazing how quickly a run goes by when you have awesome company, good conversation, and similar motivations! Despite the heat, today's run was awesome...I am really glad to be back in Houston running with my main man (albeit breifly :( ). The run went as follows:

7:33/7:29/7:24/7:27/7:29/7:31/7:27/7:27/7:27/7:28/7:19/7:20/7:22/7:20/7:23 min/mile
Average Pace: 7:26 min/mile

For those of you more interested in shoes and attire (perhaps not these types of shoes, but you are reading my blog and this is what the chef is cooking today!). I have abondoned all of my staple shoes (i.e. Asics Nimbus and New Balance 426) for some new tires that felt good when I tried them last night. I am hoping that my pudgy, swollen feet from a full day of travel did not negatively impact my decision making abilities last night. I bought:
1. Asics Gel Cumulus
2. Mizuno Wave Precision
3. Saucony Grid Triumph
4. Adidas Adistar Cushion 6
5. Asics Gel Landreth

I thought that I would never own a pair of Adidas (just like I will NEVER own Nike) but boy did they feel good when trying them out. So I wore them on my 15 miler today as well and I was really pleased! That is why we should all be open to new ideas and experimentation (speaking strictly about running...of course!!)

I am off to do more shopping. I feel like such a girl spending all my time buying shoes and shopping...there I said it, so you can check your comments at the door!

ps - As an aside, I watched 3 episodes of House on the plane yesterday. I have always avoided watching this shoe because I figured it would be another stupid show like ER or something. I was totally wrong - that show is awesome - it is really clever and I love the characters. I think I shall look for some season dvd's today as well!


Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm Leavin' On a Jet Plane..

But before I do, I ran 9.66 miles this morning when I got up. Usually I hate running in the mornings by myself but today all I could keep thinking about was, "each mile I run today is 1 less I have to run in the Houston heat." You are probably not surprised to learn that phrase was extremeley motivating for me this morning!

The run went as follows:
7:36/7:21/7:18/7:18/7:19/7:21/7:12/7:13/7:10/7:14 (last 0.66) min/mile

I also have one tranny to report...I guess that she is there for the morning glory! At first I thought that she was a runner, but it did not take me long to realize that she got her exercise via other methods!

I have got to go pack. A toothbrush, a pair a of sneakers and shorts is all I really need - I can beg, borrow, and steal the rest! See you in Houston!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

46 laps...Good times!

I started this blog when my training for Berlin started to increase in intensity as a means to communicate with my (now virtual) training partner, JD, back in Houston so that we could stay motivated when the training started to get hard(er). I also wanted to use it as a means to encourage my other buddy, The Koza, as he is also training for Berlin (which will be his first - nice way to start I think!)

I have recieved several comments that some of my readers do not really understand all the 'technical jargon' (or, Jack Daniels' nomenclature if you will) I use to describe my runs. Obviously, the best way to understand my training routine is to read Jack's book. But I have heard MANY complaints from runners that this book is too confusing and is too heavy. So, if that is not useful, let me suggest a nice summery of Jack Daniel's training written by my buddy JD (who introduced me to this training program) for the Houston Strider's Stridelines (I simply cannot remember for which month however). If that is still not helpful, let me explain very briefly.

You are assigned a number, called your VDOT, which is based on your current fitness level. The easiest way to assess your current fitness level is to run a race! Your race time correlates to a specific VDOT. Currently, my VDOT is somewhere between 58-61. I then use this VDOT number as a guide for what all of my training paces should be. It makes sense that since my VDOT number is based on my current fitness level that the training paces are appropriate for all my workouts. Now that I know what paces I should run at, when should I run them?

Jack Daniels marathon program is broken into 4 phases. Phase 1 is easy miles (i.e. injury prevention for later). Phase 2 is designed to increase your ability to utilize oxygen within your system (aka VO2 max) - which is done by running Intervals. Phase 3 is designed to increase your efficiency (i.e. ability to process lactic acid) - which is done by running Threshold. Phase 4 is refining, racing, and kickin' A!
There you have it! So without further ado, phase 3 started in earnest today as today was my first threshold run of this phase. The prescribed workout is as follows:

2 mile warmup
4x (10 min Threshold + 2 min recovery)
2 mile cooldown

Instead of 10 minutes of threshold, I did 1.75 mile repeats with 0.25 mile recovery. I was at the track and this was just easier! I will report my splits as (1 mile, 0.75 mile). Here is what actually happened:

2 mile warmup - 7:16/7:19 min/mile
1. (5:54, 4:30) - 10:24 minutes (+ 1:49 recovery)
2. (5:59, 4:30) - 10:29 minutes (+ 1:51 recovery)
3. (5:56, 4:30) - 10:26 minutes (+ 1:52 recovery)
4. (5:55, 4:26) - 10:21 minutes
1.75 mile cooldown ~ 7:13 min/mile

Total Threshold = 41:40 minutes = 7 miles = 5:57 min/mile average pace (VDOT ~ 59.5).

Total Weekly Miles (so far) = 32.18 miles (On target!)

Here is my HR and pace plot. I am really happy with how this plot looks! I felt really "comfortable" the entire workout and was very satisfied with the consistency of my thresholds. I hate to mention it again to my Houston readers but I am sure that the wonderful conditions here certainly help!!

ps - JD - got your message...I think that I will start hydrating now for the weekend!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Grindin' Away...

Today is usually my rest day but since I know that I will most definitely NOT run on Thursday, I figured that I better keep grindin' away at the miles today because peak mileage weeks just don't happen by themselves! My goal is to have 40 miles in the bank by the time I board the plane on Friday so I banked another 10.15 miles tonight. This should put me in good shape to crash 'n burn a few miles short while running in the Houston heat and still accomplish my mileage goal for the week!

Tonight was another lonely night in the Bois as nary a tranny was to be seen. This is the second night in a row where I have had zero sightings...perhaps there is a convention in town or something?! My Ipod also died on me tonight, which I did not mind as it gave me a chance to speak to my inner zen self! When I listened really closely I found I really connected with my body today...it told me it was hungry and to get the run over with quickly so we could have some dinner!

The run went as follows:
7:15/7:14/7:17/7:16/7:17/7:15/7:11/7:07/7:05/7:07 min/mile

My hinges are feeling a little tight but I am sure that some sweet, sweet threshold running tomorrow will loosen things up nicely (or that is what I keep telling myself)!

I will leave today with an open-ended question which I was pondering during my run. Suppose for a given distance you have an average incline of x% (x=1,2, or whatever) from beginning to end. Would you run that distance faster if the incline was constant (i.e. steady climb) or if the incline was short and steep, with the rest of the required distance being flat? I guess the one end member here is that you would need a climb a ladder or a flight of stairs for the elevation gain.

While running, I typically turn my legs over 170-190 strides/minute (roughly). I know that I cannot duplicate that kind of turn-over on the stairs, but perhaps I can make up for that with speed on the flat section? Anyhow, another random thought that got me through a few miles today!

We are one day closer to sweaty-ballz running in Houston...good times!


Monday, July 7, 2008


Today Jennie met me up at the Grande Arche for lunch. Whenever she meets me here we buy some baguettes and sit at the top of the Grande Arche stairs and enjoy the view of the l'arc de triumphe directly infront of us. This certainly beats eating lunch in my office as I catch up on email and/or reading! Today we had some great lunch entertainment...and it was free!

The Grande Arche has a viewing deck in it that you can pay to go up and enjoy the views of Paris. Apparently one lady did not think that the views today were worth paying for. She stood at the ticket counter (just behind where we were sitting) demanding that she get her money back. Before I go further, let me just point out that it has been overcast all day, scattered showers, increndibly windy, and probably not the best day to see Paris in all of its splendor. Just because one is on vacation does not mean that common sense should not prevail...before you spend your 8 euros to go up the tower you should be able to assess from ground level whether or not you will get your money's worth.

This lady failed to make such an assessment and was demanding that somebody reimburse her for being an idiot (as one of my old co-workers used to say, "your piss-poor planning is not my problem"). The kicker of this whole exchange is that she only spoke english to the French speaking staff (I think her native tongue was spanish). As the exchange went on she continued to talk louder and more slowly, but still in english. I guess she felt that people can suddenly learn new languages when it is yelled at them with large spaces left between each word. In fact, I think I will suggest this new technique to my french teacher - I will be bilingual by next week!

It was quite comical (well, for everyone but her). She kept saying, "WHY DON'T YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?", "WON'T ANYBODY SPEAK ENGLISH", "I WANT MY MONEY BACK...I DID NOT SEE ANYTHING." This lasted for about 30 minutes. I left lunch feeling sorry for the lady though. If she gets that stressed out over 8 euros while on vacation I imagine that her entire life is lived in a pretty high state of anxiety...perhaps I should have invited her to join me on my run today to help her destress. This way I would also be gauranteed to have a welcome conversation in english!

Speaking of my run, I have to run 60 miles this week. I figured I would put a healthy dent into tonight by running 10.25 miles in the Bois. I ran between storms, which is why I do not think I saw any "ladies" out tonight either. The run went as follows:

7:15/7:17/7:20/7:17/7:17/7:14/7:10/7:13/7:21/7:06 min/mile

Felt really good tonight despite the wind and odd burst of rain. The goal for this week is to stay healthy and the rest will just fall into place.

Tonight all the clouds have broken up and I am sitting here enjoying this sunset from my window. I hope yours will be just as nice!


Sunday, July 6, 2008

You spin me right round baby, right round...

All I know is that to me
You look like you're havin' fun
Open up your lovin' arms
Watch out, here I come,

You spin me right round, baby right round
like a record baby, right round, round round

I have these lyrics stuck in my head every time I head off to the the track. I think these lyrics sum up exactly what I am about to do for the next hour...just spinning right round, round round the track! This weekend these lyrics were especially true as I went to the track twice. I went on Friday to finish my LAST interval workout for this marathon season. I went again this morning to do my threshold workout there. So, let's start with Friday!

After my much "disguised procrastination" (i.e. "I cannot possibly do my interval workout tonight because it is raining and I would love to picnic afterwards!) I finally found myself at the track on Friday night after work staring down the barrel of my final Interval workout for Berlin. The workout was scheduled as follows:

2 mile warmup
4x(1400m @ Interval Pace + 1000m recovery)
2 mile cooldown

Interval Pace = 4:52, 4:48, 4:44, 4:40 min/1400m for VDOT's= 58, 59, 60, and 61

After nailing the 5x1400m the previous week I went into this workout quite confident that I should be able to hit it. But as I have heard Steeeeve say before, these workouts are like "hot sauce" - the first bite may not be too bad but by the time you get to the 3rd or 4th, you may be crying like a little girl! I was not crying like a little girl when I was done, but I was certainly glad to be finished - here is why:

2 mile warmup: 7:23, 7:19 min/mile

4x1400m (400m, 400m, 400m, 200m)
1. (81, 81, 80, 40): 4:42 min
2. (80, 81, 80, 41): 4:42 min
3. (82, 80, 80, 40): 4:42 min
4. (80, 80, 80, 39): 4:39 min

1.5 mile cool down: avg pace = 7:25 min/mile

Here is my usual HR (red) and pace (blue) graph. It is amazing the difference in HR response when you are doing intervals at a pace seperated by just 1 or 2 VDOT's. Last week I ran these intervals at mostly a 59 VDOT and the effort required (in terms of HR) was significantly less. The conditions between both sessions were very similar.

Afterwards, Jennie and I headed to The Moose to have some beers with a fellow Canadian in town and some Scottish folks. While there I enjoyed 2 buds to celebrate July 4th!

I WAS glad that the interval sessions are finally over, but my happiness soon disappeared this morning when I set out to do my threshold run. Basically, the short, fast interval sessions are replaced with long, grinding threshold sessions from here on out. Today I had a little fatigue left in my legs so I cut out my last repeat from today's workout (sorry JD). (Also note, this decision was made BEFORE I started!) I want to be "fresh" (a very relative term used at this point in training) going into my peak week, which starts tomorrow. This week will be very busy with work, international travel, and catching up with friends (plus I expect all my buddies will be buying me beers and such...right?!).

Today's Workout:
3 mile warmup: 7:07, 7:09, 7:03 min/mile

5x(5min Threshold* + 1 min recovery)
Instead of doing "5 min", I did ~ 1350m + ~250m recovery
1. (89, 89, 89, 34). 5:56 min/mile
2. (88, 90, 90, 35). 5:57 min/mile
3. (88, 88, 89, 35). 5:55 min/mile
4. (88, 88, 88, 34). 5:53 min/mile
5. (87, 89, 88, 34). 5:53 min/mile

2.5 mile cooldown: 7:30, 7:14, 7:18 (last 0.5) min/mile

*Threshold Pace = 6:04, 5:59, 5:54, 5:50 for VDOT's = 58, 59, 60, 61

TOTAL WEEKLY MILEAGE: 43.71 miles (Goal: 42 miles - goal achieved!)

Just to prove that I am not making the numbers up, here is my HR and pace! I just love the low frequency trend on the HR. You see that it climbs quite steeply the first 3 intervals, but then starts to taper towards HR~172 bpm. If you compare this to my previous graph (above) you can see that I am really flirting with my anaerobic limits here. I did not want to go anaerobic this workout, I just wanted to work hard enough to get that lactic acid flowing like a river through my legs...I think I accomplished that!

My shoes definitely have a flat tire. This is not like me...I normally have at least 4-7 pairs of running shoes on the go at one time. Just having 2 (well, I have more but they are used for strictly racing or other VERY important events) is bare bones. I have been told before that my shoes do not matter because I will just get beaten by a Kenyan running barefoot anyhow! I admit, this is true. But the difference between me and the Kenyan is that I am going to jump in my big ol' SUV at the end of the race and drive home whereas he will be probably use the 10 mile route as his cooldown! (actually, I sold my "medium" SUV before moving, but it sounds better when I tell the story in the present!)

I got some french homework to do then work! PHASE 2 of Jack Daniel's is officially over! To sum it up - it has been real, it has been fun, but they have not been real fun!


Thursday, July 3, 2008


Well, I am either a broken record, stuck tape, skipping cd, or an Ipod stuck on song repeat (depending on which era you choose to associate yourself with) because all of my posts this week are starting the same way..."I was going to do my Quality workout tonight, BUT....". Tonight we had another storm blow through and the track workout was, once again, postponed until tomorrow night. I am not that stressed about it - what else do I have to do on a Friday night?! (Actually some friends I know are in from Calgary and want to go out and celebrate the start of the Calgary Stampede tomorrow - the greatest outdoor show on earth...they will just have to wait until after the workout!)

Today I set off to do some easy miles in the Bois de Boulogne. I ran by heart-rate today (the goal was to keep my heart rate below 130bpm for as long as I could). Thanks to a few well placed traffic lights, I did! But since I was not watching my pace so closely I was quite surprised to see the final splits:
7:26/7:26/7:26/7:26/7:25/7:26/7:26 min/mile

This tells me that my running has not only adapted to how I feel, but I can subconsciously correct for the changing Garmin inaccuracies along the route! (Is that a skill worth putting on a resume? I could phrase it something like, "Keen awareness of universe" or "Sensitive to environment").

However, this run is a good reminder for me though. My wedding anniversary is July 26 (7/26) so looking at my splits I am reminded that I better start planning something! Every year previous I never got sweet reminders like I did tonight. Or maybe I did - I just was not in tune with my environment to hear/see them? Perhaps I do need to update my resume...


Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Today was supposed to be my last interval workout on the track BUT (yes, delaying my Quality workouts is starting to get old) it has been raining all day so I decided to push the workout to tomorrow night. No, I do not have a problem with running in the rain. In fact, I prefer it because it feels so energizing and revigorating...it makes you feel alive (or dead, if it is lightening storm). Normally after our my track workout, Jennie and I picnic in the park along the Seine and enjoy the night. It is the one time every week where I truely feel like a true Parisian because I stink (from the workout) and I am eating a baguette on a bench in the park. Unfortunately, that would not be a possibility tonight, so we hope that tomorrow is more favorable (but it does not look good right now...supposed to be more rain).

The decision to cancel the workout also turned out to be a good one because we had a last-minute champagne celebration this afternoon at work. I have not compared nutritional labels yet, but I am pretty sure that 3 glasses of champagne will not prepare me for my workout as much as a sports drink...plus, instead of doing 1400m repeats I am sure it will be more like 1700m repeats since I would be "running" from side-to-side as well!

Tonight was a pretty uneventful 9 miles through the Bois de Boulogne as follows:
7:20/7:26/7:22/7:23/7:29/7:24/7:23/7:26/7:23 min/mile
Average Pace: 7:24 min/mile

Only 1 tranny to report today. I think the rest were "busy".

I am really hoping that I will be able to take 2 days off this week and still hit my miles. Whenever I have the opportunity, I try to make a few deposits into the mile bank, hence the 9 tonight.

My crosstraining for today is going to be dropping Jennie like a sack of potatoes on the Wii Boxing game!! I think I hear the announcer now...(read title)


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

I celebrated Canada today at the Great Canadian Pub here in Paris. I am not sure that you are entitled to call yourself "great" if you only have 3 Canadian beers available, but seeing that is all I really wanted, it was a great night indeed! Here I am sampling the tasty hops.

Sleeman's Honey Brown...this seems to be one of the most common Canadian beers I find internationally. No worries though - it has always been a favorite of mine.

Molson's Golden...this one is not so much about the beer as it is about the Mountie in a Hockey Jersey in the background. (Durn, I also notice that I have a few hairs out of place...I thought my haircut came with insurance against this kind of thing?!)

Moosehead. This beer comes from the east coast...how come the Rockies never get fair representation on the international circuit? If so, that would be a sweet, sweet Kokanee Gold in my hand and there would probably be 5 or 6 more pictures!

The way that this photo is taken, Canada is just beyond the horizon, but the damn Eiffel Tower is in the way (lower left).

I will see you at the track tomorrow!