Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Duty Calls

Well, the talk or rumor of a possible deployment ends now. My unit got the official order to deploy. I'm heading for the sandbox for the 3rd time. I will be leaving very shortly. All I can say is that this day next week I will most likely be in a country you hear about each day in the media. I can assure you that the running shoes will be packed. I'm not sure how much running I'll be able to put in, but I hope it is some. If I'm lucky I may be able to run a few fun races while deployed like I did the last couple rotations.

For now, I say so long. Thanks to all who have visited this site. It's been a great pleasure being a part of the running blog-land. My blog will still be here, but I most likely will not update it till I get back (whenever that is). Good luck to everyone in 2007. Run hard, run smart.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's not about the bike

Instead of a white Christmas yesterday, it was a wet Christmas. I opened the door ready to head out for my Christmas run at 6:30am and all I see and hear is the pouring rain. A strong downpour, a 10-15 mph wind and 42 degrees temperature ...... Should I run? I'm in my last week of recovery from the marathon, so I don't think it will hurt to skip out on a run. Not wanting to get soaked in the cold rain I got on my bike, which I've used more indoors than outdoors, and rode for an hour while watching my favorite running movie Chariots of Fire. It's always been a tradition for me to run on special days (b-day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc.), so I was feeling guilty during the day. Since it stopped raining in the early evening I ended up putting in an easy 30 minutes of running.

This morning I ran on the Cape Fear River Trail. Either everyone was back at work or they all had a long christmas and are sleeping in. During the 9 miles of running on this trail I only saw a couple walkers. It was surprising noone else was out running because the trail is normally busy with walkers, runners, and bikers. As I trotted along on my run I tried to focus on running easy with good form. I must have gotten in the zone around mile 3, because I was cruising along at 6:40 pace. Going out the breathing was easy, inhaling and exhaling every three steps. On the way back I increased the pace just a little to where I was breathing in and out every couple steps. As I approached the last mile I picked up the pace again just to break an hour for the run.

Today's run: 59:54 (9 miles - 6:39 pace)
Monday: 29:56 (4.2 - 7:08 pace)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Out and back

After having an awesome time running Duke Forest yesterday, I'm back running in the local area. I did an out-and-back course from home to post (Ft Bragg). This is one of my routine routes when I don't feel like driving on-post to hit the trails. The route is all grass/dirt so it's easy on the legs. As I got closer to the Reilly Road entrance gate to Ft Bragg, I came across the intersection where a tragic accident, which left 3 dead, occurred earlier in the week. The sides of the intersection were filled with flowers. It was a sad scene. As I ran past the intersection I remembered that as runners we must be cautious of our surroundings. Even though we run against traffic and off of roads there are still those foolish drivers who have no courtesy for runners.

I went out comfortably easy hitting the 6-mile turnaround point in 40:48. On my way back I could tell that the legs and breathing got into a steady rhythm. I ended up coming back faster in 39:06, an average pace of 6:31. The 12-mile run almost felt like a tease. I wanted to run more. This morning's run completes the second week of marathon recovery.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Today's run: 1:19:54 (12 miles - 6:40 pace)
Weekly mileage: 53.8 miles

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Al Buehler Trail - Duke Forest

A rock displaying Buehler's accomplishments

Al Buehler Trail

Wanting to get away from the Fort Bragg/Fayetteville area and have a change of running scenery, I decided to drive to Durham to run in the Duke Forest. The Duke Forest comprises of 7900 acres of land and lies adjacent to the Duke University campus. There are many different trails in the forest that are not only good for running but also for hiking, horseback riding, and biking.

I chose to run the Al Buehler Trail. The trail is named after Al Buehler, former head coach of Duke University's men's track & field and cross country team for 45 years. The trail, used by Duke varisty runners and weekend warriors, consists of a 3-mile loop around the Washington Duke Golf Course and a 1-mile fitness trail added on. After completing the 4 miles just under 27 minutes (26:51), I was making my way around the trail for a 2nd time. That's until I saw another trail that went off course. I took this trail, called "Old Footpath Trail", and just kept running. I was feeling great running steady at 6:30 - 6:45 pace. At about 2.5 miles out, I decided to turn around and head back to the trail head. I'm not sure how much longer the trail went. When I got back to the trail head I asked this runner who looked competitive how far the trails go. He said that you can put in 15+ miles without overlapping. I'm sure I'll be back here some time to put in the miles.

I must say that I could not be happier with the way my recovery is going. I'm beginning to think that my fitness is carrying over perfectly to the next training cycle. This was the situation after last year's Marine Corps Marathon. Recovery after MCM went very well that I was back running key workouts 3 weeks after the marathon. I eventually doubled up my fall fitness into a great marathon training cycle, in which I ran a PR at Austin.

Today's run: 59:48 (9M - 6:39 pace)

Friday, December 22, 2006


This morning was sort of strange because there was almost noone out running or doing PT (physical training). I'm not sure if it was the slight mist of rain that kept everyone indoors or if it was all the First Sergeants thinking the same. It's 0600 in the morning and my 1SG walks into my office and says..... "Hey sir, what do you think about zonking the guys? I don't think anyone will be doing PT this morning. You saw Monday, we were the only guidon running out there." I stop what I'm doing and begin to think to myself "that's even a better reason to do PT." Because it's the holiday season and we weren't able to take leave, I told my 1SG that it would be a morale booster for our Troopers. Minutes later my 1SG yells ZONK.. 5,4,3,2,1. I can assure that everyone had disappeared by the count of 3. They all probably went back to bed.

I saw zonk as an opportunity to get out the door for a nice peaceful run. Peaceful it was. The run was free of cadence. It almost seemed like everyone had decided to extend their Christmas 4-day weekend to 5 days. I'm not complaining. I prefer being out there running alone. Today's run made it 3 consecutive days of ~8 miles. I think the legs are getting used to running close to an hour. If all goes well the next couple days I'll end this week at about 50 miles and then begin building my base the following week.

Today's run: 55:21 (8.1M - 6:50 pace)

Thursday, December 21, 2006


My recovery is falling into place perfectly. The legs feel like they are back to normal and ready to run more. This morning's run was 8 miles at a steady easy pace. Holding back and not running faster than easy pace is getting tougher each day. About 2 miles into the run I found myself running 6:40 - 6:45 pace. The effort felt easy, so I just went along with the pace. I decided to pick up the pace in the last mile. After my run I did some pushups, abs, and lots of stretching.

In one of my recent posts I was asked by a fellow Army Soldier, Cakmakli, to post my pushup and situp workout. Since I've entered the Army in 2001, I have not scored below a 366 in the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) extended scale. In fact, 366 is my lowest score and 402 is my personal best. I think the biggest mistake Army Soldiers do to prepare for a PT test is they do lots of pushups and situps everyday. If you do pushups and situps everyday then you don't give your muscles a chance to recover and build. Same concept applies in running, you don't run hard everyday because you're legs and body will not recover. I think once you've gotten into good muscular endurance shape, then all you'll need to do is maintain a certain amount of work. My unique pushup/situp workout I'm about to describe only takes about 10-15 minutes and is conducted every other day, sometimes once every three days. I normally do this workout following my easy runs.

I call this workout 60-50-40. When doing the pushups do not worry about how fast you can do it, work on proper form. When all is done you've completed 200 pushups and 200 abs.

60 regular pushups followed by 60 crunches
50 regular pushups followed by 50 obliques (each side)
40 regular pushups followed by 40 reverse crunches
30 daimond pushups followed by 30 unassisted situps
20 daimond pushups followed by 20 toe touches (back on the ground, feet straight up)

Today's run: 53:44 (8M - 6:43 pace)
Yesterday's run: 51:16 (7.5M - 6:50 pace)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Almost a day off from running

It's a record day for me. I got off from work at 1500 (3pm that is), the earliest since I've been in command. In reality, it was a late day because we're supposed to be off at noon as part of the holiday 1/2 day schedule. It was quite funny because I didn't know what to do with all the time I had after work.

Today was a scheduled day-off from running as part of my marathon recovery. I managed not to put in a run. Well, that's until the late afternoon/early evening. How can you not get out and run when it's 60 degrees and clear skies in mid-December. I tried to resist the urge to run, but could not do it. The legs continue to feel good and recovered. I only ran for an easy 30 minutes. Afterwards, I got in the usual pushups and abs workout. Oh, there was no challenge from my Soldiers during my company run yesterday.

Today's run: 30:04 (4.2M - 7:10 pace)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

..... a body needs exercise.

I'm very pleased with how the first week of recovery went. The legs and body are feeling good. I went for an easy 7+ miles this morning. The first 3 miles were ran at about 7:15 pace and then I progressed to about 6:45 pace as the run went on. It's only been a week since the marathon, so I'm still forcing myself to go easy even though the legs are feeling better. I got a massage today to assist in the recovery. My massage therapist actually said the legs were in good shape. A little tightness in the calves and hamstrings, but nothing serious. There were a couple knots found on the upper back and shoulders, which was probably from all the pushups I did during the week. This coming week will consist of all easy runs to finish off the recovery.

I'm reading "The Olympian" by Brian Glanville. I came across this sentence and thought how true it is. My body and mind will definitely corrupt if I can't run or exercise.

"A plant needs water, and a body needs exercise. If you deprive a plant of water, it dies. If you do not exercise the body, it corrupts, and the mind corrupts with it." -Brian Glanville

Today's run: 50:44 (7.3M - 6:57 pace)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Taking it easy

Not a whole lot has been going on besides taking it easy and recovering from a disappointment. For some reason I keep looking back at the race trying to figure out what went wrong. I want to learn from it. Did I peak too soon? Did I get too excited early in the race? Did I misjudge my fitness? Was it the inconsistency of mileage? By no means am I whining. As athletes, we all become better by learning from our mistakes.

I am quite surprised how fast my legs are recovering. Following the marathon, I normally take 3 complete days off from running and then alternate day-on day-off. After taking Sunday off, I had no choice but to take my company on our weekly Monday company run. I had only planned to take them on a slow 4 mile run. However, when my Soldiers challenged me that I wouldn't go farther and faster because I was recovering from the marathon I decided to extend the run to about 5 1/4 miles. After the run it sure looked like they regret putting up the challenge. I think the run helped in loosening up all the tight muscles, even though the quads were still very sore. Tuesday and Thursday were complete days off from running. It was yesterday, during a very slow 4.5 mile run, that I noticed the soreness in the quads was gone. This morning I went for a nice easy 5 miler on trails. It felt great to stay off of pavement.

Today’s run: 5 miles in 36:23

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rocket City Marathon - Race Report

I attended the pre-race carbo dinner the night before the big day. The guest speaker Bob Schwartz, author of "I Run, Therefore I Am -- Nuts!” made the dinner worthwhile as he entertained us with his hilarious running quotes. After dinner I headed back to my hotel. I laid out the race clothes, but before doing so I tuned in to the weather channel. I knew it was supposed to be cold. Cold? More like freezing! Forecast was 20 degrees at the start (8am). When I ran Austin earlier in the year I froze just wearing shorts and a singlet. Remembering how painful it was, I decided to wear a long sleeve coolmax underneath my singlet along with some throw away gloves (which was never thrown away) and a beanie.

I like to run the first few miles of the marathon a little slower than goal pace to warm up then settle into goal pace. When the gun went off a pack of about 10 runners took off at what was probably 5:30-5:40 pace. There was the lead pack, a couple runners about 15 seconds behind them, and then me and 3 other runners about another 15 seconds behind. I ran along with the 3 runners and we came across mile 1 in 6:13. It was only mile 1 and my toes and fingers were already starting to feel numb. I didn't want to fall behind very much so I began increasing the pace a little to get into some type of rhythm. It didn't seem like the 3 runners were willing to set the pace, so I decided to do it. We ran the next five miles in 5:59, 5:58, 5:57, 5:57, & 6:01 with the 10k at 37:15. If I didn't set the pace we probably would have continued to run around 6:10 pace. I started to hear an increase of breathing in a couple of the runners.

Mile 7 was a slight down slope which was the cause of a 5:51 split. Right after the mile 7 marker we ran through a tunnel for about 50 meters. This caught me by surprise. It almost seemed like someone had turned off the lights and then turned it back on. Once you're out of the tunnel it is a gradual incline for about 3/4 of a mile. I tried to run with the same effort and not the same pace. A 6:03 8th mile on a gradual incline was a little too much for the guys running with me. Using my peripheral vision on a turn, I could see that the guys were slowly fading. I had to make a decision at that point. I either slow the pace and let the runners catch up to me so that we can work together or leave them and begin working my way up to the next group, a couple guys about 50 meters ahead. I knew the guys slightly behind me were not going to sustain a sub-6:00, so I began working my way up to the next group. Let me tell you, 50 meters sounds easy to make up, but it damn sure isn't when the guys you're trying to catch are running the same pace as you.

Miles 9-13 are fairly flat and on a long stretch of highway. Just when I thought the 2 runners were coming back to me, they would put in a little surge to maintain a lead (at least that's what I thought). Just before mile 12 I encountered a side-stitch on my right ribcage. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. I was fighting hard to get rid of it, breathing in and holding it and then contracting the abs. The thought of my race going down the drain crossed my mind. I regrouped, and tried to stay focus and positive while fighting the side-stitch, which finally went away midway through the 12th mile. I'm not sure what the cause of it was. I had been taking in fluids alternating water and gatorade every 2-3 miles. I also took in a gel at mile 10. My splits for miles 9-13 were 5:55, 5:58, 5:57, 5:59, and 5:59. During that stretch of 5 miles, I thought of just running a fast mile (probably 5:48 - 5:50) to catch up to the 2 runners. I decided not to because we still had lots of running left.

After reaching the half-way mark at 1:18:28, I put in a little surge to catch the guys. I asked them what kind of time they were shooting for. Both said that they wanted to break 2:40. I said "shit, you guys have been running 2:37 pace the last 13 miles and shouldn't have a problem meeting that goal". One of the guys decided to back off of the pace after we hit miles 14 and 15 in 5:54 and 5:55. George, who I ended up running most of the 2nd half with, and I worked together taking turns setting the pace. George is from the Huntsville area, so he knew the course by heart. He was very helpful in letting me know when a turn was coming up and also when there was a gradual incline.

Miles 16 & 17, which we hit in 6:04 & 6:05, was a gradual incline. I was still feeling good at this point and had no problems with the next 3 miles (5:57, 6:00, & 6:00). My 20-mile split was 1:59:44, still on 5:59 pace. About a half mile into mile 21, which was also a slight incline, the legs started to feel a little heavy. I knew at that point that I needed to begin digging deep. A 6:09 & 6:08 split for miles 21 & 22 put me at 2:12:01, exactly 6:00 pace. George was still feeling good and he ended up leaving me. I thought to myself, all I have to do is run 6:00 pace for the last 4.2 miles and I’ll end up with a low 2:37 and a PR. Of course, I knew that wasn’t going to happen after working very hard only to run 6:08 for the previous mile. As the last few miles slowly came along, the legs began to feel heavier and heavier. Checking my splits became as painful as how the legs were feeling.

Miles 23-25 were 6:23, 6:29, & 6:41. These 3 miles seemed to take forever. It felt like I had nothing left in me. I still had one gel (I took 1 at mile 10 & 17) left, so I decided to use it at mile 23. I tried to pull the gel out of my pocket around mile 22, but that became a difficult task and I said screw it. Well, when I got to mile 23 I realized that I really needed the gel. I think the gel may have kicked in around the last mile because I started to feel a little strength in the legs. After hitting 6:29 for the last mile, I knew I was going to come in under 2:40. A spectator at the 26th mile mark said I was 9th overall. This actually made me feel better because I was seeded number 11.

All in all, I was somewhat disappointed with my time, but satisfied with my performance. I know for a fact that I left everything on the course. Thoughts of whether I should have held back a little cross my mind, but I don’t regret a thing. This race will serve as a motivation to train harder and run faster.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

2:39:21 - 9th Overall, 1st Division

No PR today. I was on track for a 2:37 at mile 20, but it slipped away in the last 10k. I gave myself a chance by going through the half in 1:18:28 and mile 20 in 1:59:44. Overall, I'm satisfied with my performance. That's all for now as I'm on my way to the awards ceremony. Race report to follow soon.

Rocket City Marathon: 2:39:21

Thursday, December 07, 2006

On my way to rocket city

I'm going to make this quick because I have to get some rest. I got the approval from my commander and now I'm on my way to Huntsville, AL for the Rocket City Marathon. I'm very excited, but also nervous. The race results will most likely be posted and updated on the marathon website before I post my finishing time on my blog.

I'd like to thank my family, running friends (both in Guam and at Fort Bragg), and fellow bloggers for their support. Good luck to Bobby and Shane, who will be running Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon on the same day.

Today's run: 36:05 (5M - 7:10 pace)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Army Physical Fitness Test

Normally during the week of the marathon self-doubt begins to creep in. So far that hasn't been the case, mainly because I've been very busy with work. I'm sure fear, self-doubt, and questions about my race will start to hit me over the next few days.

This morning I did my APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test), which consists of 2 minutes of pushups, 2 minutes of situps, and a 2-mile run. I did a total of 120 pushups, 99 situps, and ran a 10:41 2-mile. As much as I wanted to run a faster 2-mile, I decided to hold back a little because of the tapering. I must say that the pushup and situp events went well despite focusing on training for the marathon over the past few months. I think the reason why I did well in those events is because I've stuck to my routine of doing a specific pushup/situp workout following my easy runs.

It's looking like I will make it Huntsville on Friday (I'm crossing my fingers).

Today's run: 25:33 (4M - 6:23 pace) 2 miles in 10:41
Yesterday's run: 39:14 (5.5M - 7:08 pace)

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm begging you please.....

Everyone that has been reading my blog knows that I'll be running Rocket City Marathon this Saturday. Well, I'm hoping that will be the case. What I mean by this is that there is a possibility I may not make it to the race. The reason is because "duty" may call. I'm praying that the folks in Washington, who gets paid the big bucks to make wise decisions, can leave those deployment orders in the bottom of the inbox. I don't mind leaving for the 3rd time, just not this week.

Lately, I've been asking myself "what is marathon pace?" I personally think my marathon pace is between 5:56 & 5:59 pace, which would put me at a 2:35:30 to 2:36:50 marathon. If I average 6:00 pace for the marathon, I'd still be very happy because it is a PR. The one thing I'll ensure to do this weekend is to run a smart race. The goal is to run negative (or even) splits as I've done in my last 3 marathons.

This morning I took my Soldiers on our weekly company run. The legs appreciated the nice slow easy run.

Today's run: 45:22 (5.5M - 8:15 pace) slow and easy

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Counting down days

It's tough to explain how good the legs and body is feeling right now. This morning I did my last marathon pace workout, 12 miles total - first 6 miles easy and then the last 6 miles at goal marathon pace. After running a tempo interval workout yesterday, I expected the legs to feel just a little tired. Instead, the legs felt light and springy, probably from the fast leg-turnover. After a nice easy slow 1st mile in 6:58, the legs fell into cruise control. I ran the first 6 miles easy in 39:57, an average of 6:40/mile. I planned my workout where I'd end up on the track for the last 6 miles at marathon pace. Everything seemed to fall into place. My splits for the last 6 miles were 5:51, 5:52, 5:54, 5:51, 5:53, and 5:45. It almost felt like I was feeling better as the miles clicked off. I got carried away in the last mile and ended up running it a little faster.

I bought my marathon shoe, Saucony Fastwitch 2 Endurance, and used it during my dress rehearsal this morning. The shoe not only felt good and light, but it also has enough cushioning needed for the marathon.

The hardest part now is waiting to get to the start line. I will continue to remind myself to sleep well, eat healthy, and hydrate throughout the week. I'd like to say "Good Luck" to Mike, who is currently running his marathon as I close out this post.

Today's Run: 1:15:08 (12M - 6:16 pace) 6M @ MP

Saturday, December 02, 2006

1 week till race day

Sometimes I forget that tapering for a marathon does not only mean cutting back in training and mileage. Tapering also means getting in some well-needed rest, proper nutrition, and hydration. The cutting back in training is not the issue, it's everything else. Work has been extremely busy during the middle of the week and it has caused me to fall back on some of the essential areas of tapering. It's the weekend now, so I should be back on track with resting, eating, and hydrating.

This morning I did a tempo interval, 3 x 2K w/ 400 recovery, to get a little turnover in the legs. The decrease in mileage over the past few days has made the legs feel fresh and eager to run fast. The goal pace for the workout was 5:20 - 5:32 /mile. I hit the 2K's in 6:53 (5:32 pace), 6:47 (5:28 pace), & 6:44 (5:25 pace). The legs felt great and it didn't seem like the workout left took a lot out of me.

Tomorrow will be my last key workout before the marathon. I will run 12 miles, the first 6 miles easy and then the last 6 miles at marathon goal pace. This workout has been the routine for my last 2 marathons. It reminds the legs and body of what marathon pace feels like.

Today's run: 53:25 (8.2M - 6:24 pace); 3 x 2K w/ 400 recovery

Friday: 52:23 (8M - 6:33 pace)
Thursday: 1:01:30 (9M - 6:50 pace)
Wednesday: 40:02 (5.5M - 7:15 pace)
Tuesday: 1:06:12 (9.6M - 6:54 pace) fartlek workout - 10 x 1' w/ 1' recovery