Update – 12/19/2016 – the race published pictures! I talked about each individual picture here, but I want to come back in and put them into this post for anybody that might be looking for reports on this race. Pictures!
Here’s how the website describes, in part, The Florida Run at Lake Louisa State Park:
“Known as one of Central Florida’s more challenging and unique races, the course will take runners on paved surfaces, dirt trails, grass trails and some sand.”
Lake Louisa State Park is in Clermont, Florida, about a 30 minute drive from the house. I was worried about timing for my traditional pre-run oatmeal, so I had my coffee and a bowl of cereal, snagged a couple of Lara bars, and headed out. I have visited the park before – and I hit the gate at about 6:20am for an 8am start. Normally the park opens at 8am, but they make an exception on race day. I made my way to the back of the park and headed over to the lakeside bathrooms for a quick break … and saw this – which is a sunrise that you normally don’t get to see:
What a boring-as-hell title for a post. Even better? This post contains screenshots of Excel spreadsheets!
You’ve been warned.
I had a conversation this morning with a guy at the gym (box? Nope … still can’t call it a box) that made me realize I’ve never talked about my thinking around how I structure the physical part of my weight loss, and the tools and processes I use for tracking that. One of the tenets of a SMART goal, and really business in general, is that your progress and results be measurable. A rule of thumb that I use in my career is that you get what you measure – if you are not measuring a particular outcome, and creating action items based on that measurement, you will not get the outcome you want. It just doesn’t happen.
Now – I’m a finance guy. Which also means I’m a process and measurement guy. That is what I do. Exercise and weight loss is a very data-rich environment. I’m a hammer, this is a nail. So – I made some plans and built some tracking and measurement goals against them.
First, and most obvious, is that I have to measure the weight loss itself. I talked about this in the Goals post that I did, but it is worth revisiting. If I am not weighing myself regularly, then it is easy to backslide. If I weigh myself too regularly, then I’m likely to be regularly disappointed by daily, water-based fluctuations in the number on the scale. I also need to see long-term benchmarks, so that I can have some perspective if I have a bad week or a very good week. So:
Measurement technique #1: Weigh myself weekly. Thursday or Friday (depends on which day I’m home after my workout). I like to do it after a workout or run, because that helps cut down on water fluctuations. Then track that weight. This is what it looks like when I input the weight, starting from when I started Crossfit:
And this is what it looks like visually (updated with last week’s weigh-in):
Next, it is time to start thinking about exercise. I need to balance a few things here. First, I want to exercise as much as I can without taking away from my family time at all. I have a 4-year old and a 1-year old, and I see them for about an hour and a half a day on a weekday, and then weekends. I don’t want to give that precious time up. So, I work out in the mornings, and I work out during the week. When I started a few weeks ago, I was working out Monday – Friday; beginning last week, I have also added a Saturday morning long run that usually finishes before the rest of the house wakes up.
I also need to balance the activities themselves. Before, when I lost all of the weight, I was only running. That’s fine to a point, but is not complete. I want my body to be more efficient and have a kind of strength that is more broadly functional. But I am not good at cross-training. Enter Crossfit. When I started a few weeks ago, the idea was to go to the gym Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Friday, and run on Thursdays. Then add in the long run on Saturdays. And then, as I got closer to goal races, swap out one of the gym days for running days. That schedule is flexible for business travel & vacation, and has also changed around a bit since I’m not going into the gym on testing days for the new levels system.
The key here, though, is to plan this out as far in advance as I can. There is a whole line of thought in economics about how to make the long-term planner in you commit the short-term do-er in you to do things it might not particularly want to at the time. One trick is called a commitment device, and mine is a calendar that I have planned out all the way through any upcoming goal. It looks like this:
And this is planned out this way all the way through the Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon at the end of February. I color code things – you can see when I mark something as having been completed – and generally use this to be able to mentally prepare for what is coming and also adjust for any changes in schedule. Importantly, this keeps me tied to daily exercise. As an example, my calendar shows that I have not missed a weekday workout in over 16 weeks. That has reached a point that any blank space on this thing is going to be a glaring failure for me going forward – and so, when the alarm goes off, I get up.
So now what is left is tracking the exercise itself. My spreadsheet has not yet evolved to track the numbers associated with Crossfit. Two reasons for that – one is that they can be a touch hard to track, and another is that the gym uses a service called Wodify that does a lot of that for you. As an example, this morning we did a 15 minute 3-rep Power Snatch EMOM at 70% (yeah, I don’t know what that means either, but it sure sounds hard). When I log what I did for that, I get this – which I can refer to the next time it is time to do Power Snatches:
And then there are the runs.
I use a Garmin Forerunner 410 that I’ve had for a few years now – I like it; it works. I use MapMyRun to plan out distances. And I use training schedules from people like Hal Higdon to figure out a basic approach to training for things. And then I do a couple of things. Each time I run, I log it:
This allows me to do several things. First, it is a place to keep thoughts and look for patterns in terms of things like injury, etc. Second, it allows me to track my weekly mileage and my speed improvement over time. Third, it allows me to track total mileage on my shoes and just in general. So, it allows me to do things like this:
So that I know where I am at any given time and can see patterns.
I know there are many other things that could be tracked here. One of the reasons I have not gotten a heart rate monitor is that I know that an influx of data like that could be dangerous for my tendency to over-analyze.
There are downsides to all of this, of course. Anymore I feel like I can’t go for a run if I don’t have my Garmin – it is almost like it doesn’t count. That is a silly, but very real, consequence of wanting to have all of the data to crunch. There is also a time element to this, though most of the time is spent in the initial setting-up of the spreadsheet. Now that I have it, in general this is pretty seamless.
Anyway – that’s how I do it. Would love to hear how you do it. And also any suggestions for extending this kind of analysis and measurement to food.
As mentioned, I was on a work trip to Washington DC last week, and the week prior to that I was on vacation in Delaware. There has been a fair amount of traveling this year, with several trips down to Florida before we moved, and some of the ins and outs of taking a new job that lives in a sales department. On each and every one of these trips – including the last two weeks – I brought running gear. Shoes, clothes, Road ID, hat, headphones, the whole getup. I was ready for it.
And I can count on one finger how many times I actually went for a run. In the last two weeks, that number was zero.
These last two weeks have been strange, because in both cases I was in a place that I ordinarily would have been excited to go running in. In Delaware we were less than a mile from the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk (and beach), and in Washington DC I was about a mile from the Washington Monument. So the beach and the National Mall – two spectacular places to run, particularly in the early morning hours that I typically go. Instead of rocking it, though, I stayed up too late and ignored my alarm in the morning. I just didn’t go.
The failure was so real that I was forced to do some reflecting on it, to try and pin down what is going on inside that causes me to sabotage and outright ignore these efforts. And I think I figured it out.
I’m afraid somebody might see me.
You see, I’m a fat guy. Especially now. And what I think about when people see me running is that they are seeing this guy:
or maybe this guy:
Or definitely this guy:
When I’m at home, I leave to go running at 5am. And at that hour, I generally see no people. Maybe one or two. There is nobody at home awake, there is nobody on the road, there is just not much going on. In a hotel, though, at 5am I’m going to run into somebody. I’m going to see a night clerk, or another guest at the little gym, or the doorman on my way out to the streets for a run. And I’m going to be totally self conscious that they are judging me. Or, worse, laughing at me.
Now, I know from experience that my instinct on this one is incorrect. 95 times out of 100, people don’t even notice. We are so wrapped up in our own little worlds – we don’t care. And the other 5 times out of 100, when people do notice, they’re almost always doing the “good for him” in their heads. That’s what I’m doing if I ever notice somebody running that is not what you’d expect from a traditional runner.
But, for all of that, I still really struggle to go. My mechanism, by the way, is to sabotage the morning by staying up entirely too late the night before. This is another place where home is better, because my wife won’t let that go on for too long without shaming me. Or at least making me feel awkward because I have to answer the question “what the hell were you DOING up that late, anyway?”
This wasn’t really a problem when I was at the peak of my running “career” (HA!). I felt good enough that it didn’t matter so much. I’m not there now, and I need to get over it.
Also, for the record, I’m incredibly torn about posting that picture from the Virginia Beach Half up there. The one with my belly hanging out. I really hate that picture.
This event was my 4th, in June of 2013. If anybody is counting, that would make it race report #4. However, I never did a race report on this event – some of which was laziness, some of which was politeness, some of which was dissatisfaction with my performance – and continued to number the rest of them – numerically. So I had run 18 events, but only had 17 race reports, numbered 1 – 17. This can be confusing, and it is just frankly time to true this up. So this report is delayed by over 2 years, but without further delay…
I signed up for the Phillips 10K Trail Run without, frankly, knowing what I was doing. This was the second year for the organizers of this event, and a new course for them in Lewis Morris Park near Morristown, New Jersey.
I did two things wrong going into this. First, I randomly bought a pair of low-drop trail running shoes online, thinking that they’d be magical. And second, I didn’t really do a lot of training on trails. There was some of that, sure, but they were relatively short runs on relatively well maintained trails. My achilles tendons hurt like mad whenever I wore those shoes, but I tried to ignore it and headed into this race – my first 10K – thinking I was ready.
Turns out, I was not.
I made the hour drive out to Morristown, and about the time I got there I got a call from my wife saying they had decided to come along, too, and would be there when I finished the race. That was exciting, because this was the first time they were able to come and cheer for me since that first race in March.
Head into the parking lot, park the car, open the door, and step into a very strange sound landscape – a low level drone that never ended – a constant buzz with no direction at all. It turned out to be cicadas – this was during the big cicada takeover in the summer of 2013, and they were EVERYWHERE. Flying around, on trees and tables and benches, and just generally making a nuisance of themselves. My son, as you might imagine, was fascinated.
They lined us up and off we went – the 5K runners (200 – 300 people) went one way, the 10K runners (all 30 or so of us) went the other. The course itself was a hiking / biking single-track through this big park, and was generally pretty. There were a couple of stream crossings and several good hills, and in general it would have been a pleasant hike. There were four things, though, that wound up making it a fairly unpleasant run for me, and then one other really big thing that made it a very unpleasant run for everybody else.
1. I had not anticipated that about 300 – 400 yards into the race the course would drop to single track on a hill – meaning nobody could pass me. I wound up running entirely too fast in the first mile just to try and get out of everybody’s way. That was a mistake.
2. There were proper, 500 – 600 foot elevation gain hills. I hadn’t prepared enough for that, and coupled with a fast start, they wore me down quickly.
3. The course was not closed, and the trail turns out to be popular among mountain bikers. And they, to a man (all men), refused to yield. Dodging the cyclists sucked.
4. About 4 miles in, I had hit a groove and was feeling really good when I stepped on a root and turned my ankle very badly. It was the same ankle that I had injured at the close of my first race, back in March of 2013, and though I was able to eventually walk it off, that mile was more of a stumble than a walk, and certainly not a run.
The course came close to the finish line about half a mile before the actual finish line, so I was able to see my wife and son, and she told me about the bigger issue before I looped around and finished.
The biggest issue on the course was signage. Because the overall course was a network of hiking trails, there were a lot of intersections and they weren’t always signed very well. But there was a particularly bad one at roughly the 3.5 mile mark. The ground was flat and a trail T-ed off to the right of the direction we were running … and there was a tree right across from that intersection with a sign that could be interpreted as either “Turn Right” or “Go Straight”. What they actually wanted us to do was turn right. I wound up going straight, but not very far before I second guessed it and doubled back. A few yards down the correct path you could see another sign, but only if you looked. Fortunately, I looked, so I didn’t get lost.
Others were not so fortunate. One lady apparently had a sizable lead and was going to win the race but missed that turn and tacked on another mile. Several others had the same issue. The crowd at the award ceremony after was not … friendly. After it was all over we got an email from the organizers offering to refund our money, but I don’t think anybody took them up on it.
This was the only race I’ve ever run where I came in functionally last (as opposed to DFL). Not technically last – there were two walkers, each of which finished 30 – 45 minutes behind me – but for those of us trying to run it, I came in last by about a minute. The award ceremony was almost over when I crossed the finish line. I was limping, exhausted, and muddy. But my family was there, and I felt prouder to have done that than I think I would have if it were easier – I conquered that sucker, you know?
My time was a robust 1 hour, 26 minutes, and 17 seconds, for a 13.55 / mile pace that stands as the worst official performance of my running “career”.
– One upside to doing this as my first 10K was that it was extraordinarily easy to PR in the next 10K.
– That was the last time I ran in those shoes. I was so sore for the next three days that I needed a scapegoat. They were thrown in the garbage with something like 30 miles on them.
– I’m also not convinced that the course was a full 6.1 miles – my watch only said about 5.5 miles, and the mile marker signs never seemed to align with what my watch was saying. But, if they are calling it a 10K, I’m going with it.
– This did not sour me on the idea of trail races – in fact, I think I could really enjoy them – but it made me painfully aware that the preparation for trail races is different than the preparation for road races. Especially now that I’m in Florida, that could be challenging.
– Decent SWAG – I obviously don’t remember everything in the bag, but they did have a branded refrigerator magnet, and the shirt became one of my favorites – I wore it a lot, as you can see in the picture below.
– The next race after this one was the CHK 4K, which I enjoyed a rather lot.
This was my exactly my fourth run in the month of May. Count ‘em – four. When I took myself out of the Superhero Half Marathon because of an injury, my thoughts immediately turned to the problem of my streak. The half was on May 18th, and because of the injury that weekend was out. But that only left two other weekends to get a race in – one of those was Memorial Day weekend, and the other had to have a race on Saturday because Sunday is the 1st of June.
I began to believe that the streak was going to come to an end. I sat on that thought for a few days. And then my stubbornness rose up, screaming, and basically asked me what the hell I was doing. After 14 months of streaking … and with the next 5 months already booked up and registered for … and with the foot / ankle feeling much, much better … what the hell are you doing?
So I found this race and registered. I had very few expectations – I only knew it was about 30 minutes from the house and this would be the 39th year, so there would be some organization.
The Ridgewood Run (I have no idea who Fred D’elia is) has been run by the New Jersey Masters running club on Memorial Day weekend for longer than I’ve been alive. The day consists of multiple separate races – a 10K wheelchair event, a regular 10K, the 5K, an elite mile, a masters mile, and a one mile “fun run”. There is prize money, and the mile requires a qualifying time for entry. Interestingly, they run the races non-concurrently – the 10K goes first, and then the 5K doesn’t start until that one is completely done, then the mile, then the fun run. That meant that my race wasn’t scheduled to start until 10:15am – which means the wife and child could come.
We got a perfect day, if a little hot. We got there around 9:15, and by that time people were already crossing the finish line from the 10K. Because of the number of people running (nearly 1,000 for the 10K, over 1,700 for the 5K), there actually was a little expo of sorts, with different local businesses set up at tables. They had a DJ / MC presiding over things at the finish line, which is always nice. And overall this felt like a real event.
I had no intention to go try and PR – I knew better. But I didn’t just want to go walk it, either. So I took a couple of warmup laps around a nearby baseball field and then went and lined up. There were no pacing signs or corrals, so the start line was a total free-for-all, and it felt that way for the first half mile. But eventually things lined out and got comfortable. The course itself was through a very nice residential neighborhood, and there was quite a lot of support. There were probably four water stops (in a 5K!) and lots of people sitting out in their yards. Many people had a water hose spraying the street, and in at least one place somebody had attached a sprinkler to a ladder so they didn’t have to stand there with the hose.
Predictably, I started way too fast. My first mile came in at 9.46, which was a PR pace and totally unsustainable. I felt OK, but as an academic exercise I knew that I was going to pay for that. Not far into the second mile there was a little hill that forced me to slow down, and I maintained a more reasonable (for this race, anyway) 11.02 pace for the second mile. The third mile brought a walk break over a decent sized hill, which slowed me down to 11.18 for that one – and then a downhill finish at 10:21 for the last .1 mile. The clock said 33.27 when I crossed the finish line, and my chip time came in at 32.59, for a 10.39 pace, or about 2 ½ minutes off of my PR.
Given my general lack of preparation, I’m pretty happy with that. The day was a big success – I extended the streak, felt good about the performance, and my family had a good time. Win, win, win. Now back to getting after it and preparing for the next race. This time won’t be close to acceptable at my next 5K
– Prize money brings fast runners – the guy that won the 5K did it at 4.40 pace, and the winner of the mile did it at 4.02 pace. Seriously blazing.
– Lots of confusion in the first mile, at water stops, and past the finish line. People were weaving and darting unexpectedly, and twice I nearly ran over someone who just dead stopped in front of me. Much of this was kids – there were several kids in the 8-12 age range. I don’t get at frustrated with all of this as I used to, but it would be good if folks were a touch more considerate.
– Speaking of kids – I’ve noticed a pattern whenever I run races with kids. They do not appear to be able to hold a pace. They run really fast, and then stop and walk, rinse, repeat. It can be disconcerting near the end of a race like this to get blown by, but then in less than half a mile you wind up going back by the walker.
– These things are fun when they feel like big events like this. In particular, having a DJ / MC is great – the announcements are clear and timely and there is just no question what is going on. Another cool thing is that they had a “History” tent, with pictures and t-shirts from many of the past runnings of this race. That definitely lends credibility to the proceedings.
– The wife and boy were set up about a quarter mile from the end of the race. Having a cheering section is great … and some random dude standing next to them was yelling my name, too. Awesome.
– No real swag – I think the intent was that you get stuff at the tents. The shirt was a nice blue technical shirt, and the bib was unique to this race – which you know I think makes a big difference.
– May is in the books, and the streak is intact! That was 15 straight months with races. I’m registered for races in each month through October (2 in October), so barring problems we get to 20 at least. I’ve also targeted a couple of races for November and December. We’re streaking…
– Next race: Branford Road Race 5M, Branford, Connecticut, June 15th.
… is at 15 months. Ridgewood Run 5K this morning, and given that this was my 4th run in a month I’m pretty pleased with how it went. The race report is coming later in the week (I want to get pictures) … but the preview is 32 minutes, 59 seconds. I don’t like being that far behind my PR, but I’m very happy to have gone and done that.
So … 7 days since the last post, for which there is still no excuse. Last time it was 9 days, though, so … improvement!
Met with the doc this morning. The primary question right now is whether or not there is a stress fracture in there, so I have an x-ray appointment in the morning to rule that out. In the meantime, I’ve been told no running (which was understood, but is now official) – so the Superhero Half Marathon is officially a bust and I’m disappointed about that. My hope now is that I can get the go ahead to keep the streak alive by the end of May.
Especially in the evenings now, with the weather turning nice, the runners, they are out. And it is remarkable to me how it makes me feel to see people out running in nice weather. I want to be out there, I want to be doing this.
So, two weeks ago I talked about taking a zero because of self-diagnosed peroneal tendonitis. Last week I strapped ‘em on and got back to it – and felt good. The week was a bit different because my family had to travel and I had a couple of days off, so I got to do some short runs on more “fun” courses that I need to drive to.
And then on Friday, I did a 4-mile run along the Bronx River Parkway that really was nice. I went late morning, the weather was perfect, this is one of my favorite stretches to run. And I felt generally good and everything was nice.
Until I got out of my car at home. When I put pressure on my left foot, things basically buckled. The pain ran from the tendon’s connection with the bone all the way around my ankle up near my calf.
So I didn’t get to do my long run this weekend.
Here’s what I think is going on – I really believe it is the shoes. This is described as an over-use injury, but my mileage hasn’t increased recently and is well below the peak from last November / December. So I don’t think it is that. And I never had this problem until two weeks after the half marathon in March … and the only thing that has changed has been my shoes. I switched from Brooks Beast to the Adrenaline GTS 14s, and I think this is about those shoes. They are putting me on the outside of my foot.
So what I’m going to do is this – tomorrow, I’m going to go for a run. Things feel much better, so I think I can handle a short run. BUT, rather than use my new shoes, I’m going to use my old Beasts. They’re worn out with 400 miles on them, but they’ll be better than the new ones. If I don’t have any problem – it is the shoes, and I’ll be acquiring a new pair of Beasts.
If you had the over on April 15th before Matthew did a music post – you win!
But wait – this isn’t one of those “ZOMG you GUYS I just HAVE to tell you about this TOTALLY RAD music I’m listening too when I run” (or whatever the kids are saying these days – I quit trying to keep up a few years ago) post. Instead, this is a “here’s a sample – looking for some suggestions” post.
So, this is the playlist I’ve put together for when I run a 5K race – the timing comes out to just under 30 minutes, so I can judge where I’m at when Psycho Killer or Lose Yourself comes on. But this is a pretty good cross section of what I’m listening to:
And, seriously, Psycho Killer has one of the best bass lines I’ve ever heard.
So – I’m looking for new stuff, and when you’re looking for new running music … well, isn’t the obvious answer to ask the internet? So, internet, I’m asking you – what should go into my playlist?