Monthly Archives: July 2013

Week 30: workouts

I have some exciting news this week!  We have a new addition to our household – his name is Wesley (with eyes like the sea after a storm) and he’s a Focus Cayo Evo 6.0.  I also invested in a sweet Twenty20 kit and real cycling shoes that directly connect to the bike.  The picture below is from the end of our first ride together, on Friday morning of this week.

IMG_20130726_083054-001On Monday morning I took a rest day to recover from a difficult long run the day before.  When Twenty20 Cycling opened, Adam and I dropped by to take Wesley for a final test run to make sure he was the bike for me.  Sure enough, the ride was just as I remembered it, so I made the big purchase and rode Wesley home before heading to work for the day.

Tuesday morning I was on the road by 6:10am so I could get a good 5k run in before I had to head to work.  It started to rain lightly as I set out and it was relatively cool compared to last week.  During the run I saw many more fellow runners than I do when I hit the road closer to 7am.  I ran the 5k in 28:24, along the same route as last week.  I felt really good about the run and happy I was able to get to work early without skipping a workout.

Wednesday morning I was not so lucky.  I had to finish a last-minute presentation for work so I didn’t make the time to work out.

On Thursday I made it back to the track for the first time since week 22!  I always slightly dread going to the track since I know it will be a tough workout, but I feel so accomplished when I’m done that it’s worth it in the end.  The plan was to run 4 x 1000m then 4 x 200m after a 3/4 mile jog and drills for warm up.  I rested for 90s between the 1000m intervals and 60s between the 200m intervals which is shorter than I’ve done in the past.  Here are my times:

  • 4:48  (7:43 min/mile)
  • 4:51  (7:48 min/mile)
  • 4:51  (7:48 min/mile)
  • 4:50  (7:47 min/mile)
  • 0:47  (6:18 min/mile)
  • 0:47  (6:18 min/mile)
  • 0:48  (6:26 min/mile)
  • 0:47  (6:18 min/mile)

Adam ran his 1600m and 400m intervals while I ran my 1000m and 200m, and we finished with a barefoot lap for cool down.  This was a hard workout for both of us and it was incredibly rewarding to finish strong together.

fri-bikeOn Friday morning my calves were very sore and my quads were hurting a little bit, too.  When Adam returned from his swim he offered to take me out for an easy bike ride to help my calves recover.  I took Wesley out for the first time and cautiously mounted the bike with my clip-on shoes.  With Adam’s help I was up and riding in no time.  Being attached to the bike wasn’t nearly as scary as I imagined it would be.  We spent a little time riding through Druid Hill park before we hopped on the beautiful Jones Falls Trail which took us up north through the Clipper Mill area.  The weather was perfect and the scenery on the trail was beautiful.  I really couldn’t have asked for a better morning.  The pace was very easy and we ended up covering about eight miles in an hour (with a max speed of 18.3 mph).  On the way home we hit a couple very steep hills which got me out of the saddle, but I thankfully didn’t have too much trouble.  We passed Twenty20 on the way, and stopped to take a picture (shown above) to commemorate my first ride with Wesley.  It was a fun ride on a beautiful morning, and I’m grateful to Adam for letting me crash his recovery ride.  Eventually I’ll be able to keep up with his recovery pace, so we can do this more often!

Saturday was a pretty quiet day for me.  Adam did a tough 50k bike and 12k run in the morning, and by the afternoon he was sufficiently tired so as to go for another bike ride with me.  This is a little trick I learned when I first started running: tire Adam out beforehand so he would be happy to go my pace.  We made plans to meet Adam’s brother, Shane, to go for a ride before dinner, but as the day wore on the sky filled with dark clouds.  It rained a bit and threatened to ruin our plans, but we eventually made it out for an easy ride through some quiet neighborhoods.  We covered 9.5 miles in 55 minutes (max speed 20.2 mph).  During the ride I played around with shifting (when and to which gear) and just tried to get a feel for how Wesley handles.  It was great having Adam and Shane there to keep an eye out for traffic and to keep me from getting lost.  Plus, they just make it fun.  Oh, and I saw ponies, goats, and two deer during the ride!  Not too shabby!


sun-run-2On Sunday Adam and I decided to stick around Remington for my long run.  I made sure to drink a full glass of water beforehand and I didn’t feel thirsty, so I thought I’d be good to go.  Not so much.  My muscles were more fatigued than I had imagined and I felt more like an old man trudging down the street than a strong young runner.  We ran south along the Jones Falls trail so the route was very downhill on the way out.  At the two mile mark I settled on five miles total, and at the three mile mark my goal became “get home without stopping”.  Twice during the run we barely avoided running under an overpass with a passing freight train.  Those trains are incredibly noisy and undoubtedly powerful so standing underneath them is a little unnerving.  By the end of the run, I was exhausted.  Now I guess I know what it feels like to be fatigued.  In the end we finished the 5 miles in 55:31.  I was pretty wrecked for the rest of the day, too, (exhausted with headaches) and I forced myself to down some extra salt and sugar which helped a bit.  I’m glad Adam was there with me during the run and during my recovery, and I really don’t know how he does it after a tough week of his own workouts.  He’s really the best.  This run was (unfortunately) another reminder of my limits, so I’ll just have to take it a little easier next time and pay attention to my body, but, despite the discomfort, I still enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to doing it again sometime soon!sun-run


Week 29: workouts

This was my first full week in Baltimore, and there was still a bit of readjusting to be done.  The weather was certainly not cooperating, with high temperatures and “code orange” air quality alerts almost every day.  I wanted to jump back into my usual workout schedule, but instead opted for a bit more flexibility and some new adventures at the end of the week.

On Monday, I returned to the campus gym for the first time since week 21.  It closed during graduation and only reopened as I was leaving for Denmark, so this was my first opportunity to get back to the free weights.  It felt good to be back, and I did my usual three sets of 20 reps for back, chest, shoulders, biceps, and triceps.  I finished with the usual ab routine which was harder than I remembered, though I can definitely tell that running has strengthened my core.

Tuesday morning I ran two miles around the neighborhood.  It was really hot and muggy, and I could feel the air quality impact my breathing.  I ran at a pace that kept my asthma in check and managed to cover the 2 miles in 19:00.

I took the day off on Wednesday to rest.  For whatever reason, the gym didn’t appeal to me that morning.

I really like running three times a week, so on Thursday morning I set out for a 5k run along my usual route to the north.  The air quality was still low, so I once again set the pace according to my breathing.  It was a comfort to be officially reminded that there are forces beyond my control – that the difficulty of my run probably had more to do with the weather than with my level of fitness.  I didn’t have to destroy myself to match a pace I ran at a different time under different conditions.  I happily finished the 5k in 30:18.

On Friday I took another rest day.

Saturday morning a friend dropped off two little chihuahuas for Adam and me to babysit over the weekend.  The doggies and grocery shopping kept us busy in the morning, but we had some free time in the afternoon so Adam and I stopped by Twenty20 Cycling on the avenue in Hampden to check out some bikes.  I’ve long been considering purchasing a road bike so I can join Adam for a fun ride on a lovely day, and so I can balance my running workouts with some cycling.  The guys at the shop let us take three of them out for a spin.  We took the first two over to Druid Hill Park and rode around the lakes a couple times and up past the mansion (same route on each bike for a fair comparison).  After all the riding my legs were definitely shot, so I only took the third one around the block.  I really liked one of the bikes, but I knew I needed to come back another day for a second test ride before I could make a final decision.

Sunday morning was another long run day.  I woke up thirsty and meant to down a glass of water early, but I quickly became distracted with feeding the dogs and taking them out.  Before I knew it we were in the car driving down to Boston Street.  It was just Adam and myself, so we decided to mix things up a bit and run towards the Jones Falls trail.  I thought the weather cooled down a bit, but it still felt hot.  Running felt harder than I remembered.  We hit many more traffic lights than I’m used to, and I began to feel very thirsty well before we hit the three mile mark.  At 2.5 miles I decided to stick with six miles total rather than eight since the heat and lack of water were really bothering me.  We passed the farmers market near the turn-around point, but we didn’t stop to take a look.  Adam kept offering to run ahead and bring back water, but I didn’t want him to leave until I was absolutely certain I knew how to get back.  I also felt like I could get back fine so long as we kept the pace slow.  With 1.4 miles to go, I caved and asked him to go ahead and get the water.  He took off and I made it halfway before I needed to stop and rest.  The heat felt so oppressive.  With only half a mile to go, Adam showed up with the water.  He really hauled it and I’m very grateful to him for that.  The water tasted so good I downed almost the entire bottle before trudging back to the shop.  In the end, I finished the 6 miles in 1:01:54 with Adam’s help.  I was certainly a difficult run, and I’m grateful he was there with me.  Next time I’ll be sure to drink water before my run and to avoid going out on a long run when I’m thirsty.  It’s one of my many lessons learned.

Week 28: workouts

My month-long stay in Denmark has finally come to a close, and, though I did enjoy the trip, I’m very happy to be home again.  I’m sleeping in my own bed and cooking in my own kitchen.  The weather is a bit oppressive, but the company here in Baltimore more than makes up for that.  There’s no substitute for good friends and training partners!

After last week’s fast but mentally-draining runs, the theme of this week was “relax and enjoy it”.  I’m happy to say that everything worked out according to plan.

On Monday I took the morning off, as I have been doing for the past few weeks.  It’s nice to have a little extra time in the morning, though I don’t plan to make this a habit for too much longer.

For my Tuesday morning run, I ran only two miles in place of my usual 5k.  I wanted to enjoy the run and move at a comfortable pace.  To keep things interesting, I chose a different route so I could see a bit more of the neighborhood.  To my surprise, I discovered that I’ve been living within a mile of at least twelve embassies.  In fact, I’ve been walking past the Iraqi embassy twice a day without even realizing it!  My route is shown below in green and to the right are all the embassies in the area.  It’s funny to think that I would have completely missed this fact if I hadn’t decided to take it easy this week.  I felt great during the run, and I finished the two miles in 19:25.

embassy12A – Thailand,  B – Iraq,  C – Israel,  D – Armenia,  E – Italian,  F – Romania,  G – Turkey,  H – Austria,  I – Serbia,  J – South Africa,  (not pictured: Latvia and the Czech Republic)

wed-runSince I would be traveling all day Thursday, I went for another run on Wednesday morning.  I set out to run two more miles and explore the area to the north.  During the run I felt even better than I did the day before.  I ran a little faster and finished the two miles in 18:47.  On Hellerupvej I passed the Copenhagen International School which I later learned was one of the five founding members of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.  Their 2012 graduation class of 48 students were from 22 countries!  That would certainly be an interesting cultural experience.

Thursday morning I woke at 5:30am to shower, eat breakfast, and head to the airport.  I had a little trouble with the train to the airport, so I arrived little more than two hours before my flight was scheduled to depart.  That wasn’t a huge problem until the baggage conveyor belt broke at the check-in counter and it took over 1.5 hours to check in!  By the time I managed to check in, my flight was already boarding.  I immediately ran to security, then from security to my gate.  I arrived with ten minutes to departure, but the flight ended up being delayed for over an hour (likely due to the baggage issues).  When that first flight finally landed in Paris, my next flight was already boarding.  Again, I sprinted to passport control then to my gate and made it with time to spare.  I had no more trouble for the rest of the trip, and I managed to get a bit of a workout in during my travels, though I’m sure it doesn’t make up for all the extra sitting.  I finally arrived home around 10:30pm (4:30am Copenhagen time).

I took things easy on Friday to adjust to the new time zone and to recover from a long day of traveling.  I spent the day catching up on chores and settling in at home.

On Saturday Adam raced a triathlon, so we woke at 4:30am to grab our gear and hit the road.  I ran around a bit to take pictures and had a good time catching up with his mom.  After the race we were busy with a family graduation party and wedding planning, so I didn’t feel the need to go out on a ride or run.  This was my easy week and I happily spent the time catching up with family and friends.

Even this week’s long run was a social event.  On Sunday morning at 8am, Adam and I met Abbey, Paul, Jill, and Andy (Paul’s friend) at Boston Street Running store.  We set out to run four miles at a comfortable pace around the harbor.  The furthest Abbey has run before was four miles, so we didn’t want to exceed that distance – we have no desire for overuse injuries!  The weather was hot and humid (a far cry from weather in Denmark), so I was very happy to take an easy/moderate pace on this run.  I knew I needed to adjust to the new conditions, especially with my asthma.  I’ve never run in such a large group before, but since the pace was well within my range, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Running with a group was always an uncomfortable prospect for me in the past, so I consider it a mark of progress that I not only survived it, but enjoyed it.  We finished the four miles in 44:22 and opted to call it a day rather than set out for more.  It was a wonderful finish to an easy week of very enjoyable running.

Week 27: workouts

This was my last full week in Denmark, and over the course of the week I managed my usual three runs.  I can definitely feel the lack of strength in my upper body and I’m very much looking forward to returning to the gym soon.  I’m ready to get back on track.  My running, though, has felt strong.

My first run of the week was on Tuesday morning before work.  I woke up with a sore right hip, the same place that tends to give my problems during some long runs.  I’ve been keeping track of my water intake (more than 2L per day), but that morning I felt dehydrated.  I started the 5k around 7am and felt uncomfortable from the start.  My stomach was upset and my mouth was dry.  Just three minutes in, I wanted to be done.  After a mile I felt like I was running pretty fast, so I decided to push the pace and deal with the discomfort.  I didn’t want to “waste” the first mile of potentially fast running.  The whole time I was wondering to myself whether I really was running fast, or if it just felt fast because I wasn’t in good shape.  Well, it turns out the run was fast.  I finished the 5k in 26:42, a new workout PR.  I was happy to have run so fast, but that workout left me drained and a little shaky at work that day.  I still need to figure out if this is due to a lack of something in my diet: calories in general or some particular constituent.tues-run

I planned my next run for Thursday morning, but I couldn’t stomach dinner on Wednesday night so I rescheduled for Friday.  By Friday I was feeling much better and I set out for another 5k run.  From the start my quads were very tired.  I suppose this was left over from the hard run on Tuesday.  I wasn’t feeling great, so I was happy to have some company a half mile into my run.  A couple of runners came up behind me from a side street, and I pushed the pace just a little to see if I could keep them from passing.  I was happy to have something to take my mind off the solo run.  I held out for almost a mile before they passed.  Again I felt dehydrated and uncomfortable.  I felt like I was moving well again and I hoped the time would reflect this.  Sure enough, I finished another 5k in 27:03.fri-run

On Saturday I spent the day traveling around Roskilde, the old Viking city west of Copenhagen.  I did a good bit of walking and my legs were very tired by the end of the day.  I experienced the same thing last week, so I wasn’t too concerned about my long run the next day.

sun-run-mapThe long run I planned for Sunday was in many ways different from my previous long runs.  For a start, I ran along the coast north of the city rather than in the city center.  I also took the train at the start of my run for a couple of reasons.  First, the public transport is less dense outside the downtown area so I was not certain I would find an appropriate bus stop at the end of my run.  Second, I wanted to have access to water and warm clothes as soon after my run as possible.  Last week I had a long, cold bus ride home at the end of my run and my legs became very stiff during that ride.  This time I would simply run home.  This plan required a straightforward route so there would be no chance that I would get lost on the way.  Just in case, though, I made sure to run with my travel pass and 150 dkk (about $25).

Everything seemed set for an amazing run.  The sun was shining and I was feeling good.  I caught the 9:33 train from the nearby station and rode to Skodsborg Station.  From the outset, the view was stunning: the water was shimmering and the grass was amazingly green.  There was little breeze and the weather was warm without being hot.

I ran along the same street the entire time, keeping the water in sight to my left to make sure I didn’t get lost.  At the beginning the route alternated between neighborhoods and parks, like the two pictures below (from Google Street View).  The sun was high in the sky and there was very little shade.  I felt a little slow, but I just focused on moving forward.  The houses that lined the street were really beautiful and I’m sure they must have cost a fortune.  Each house had its own little gated pathway down to the water below.  I also saw a number of cyclists on this portion of the run: at least one hundred by my estimates.

sun-run-2sun-run-1After three miles of running, I felt a strong desire to stop.  By mile four I had reached the open highway with no shade whatsoever (see photo below).  It was much warmer than I had expected, probably fifteen degrees warmer than it had been during my recent runs.  I was also running faster than I wanted, but I had a hard time slowing down.  Running at the faster pace felt more natural than my slower shuffe-run.  My heart rate was pushing 180 and I was really uncomfortable.  When I finally reached some shade 5.5 miles in, I stopped for a minute to catch my breath.  I let my heart rate drop to 135 before I started a slow shuffle towards home.  Before long I found myself in town again (see photo).  I knew I was close to home.  I was feeling a little better after the break, but I could feel the discomfort coming back. sun-run-6 sun-run-5I reached home in exactly seven miles and decided to call it quits.  I could have kept running, but I was not in the mood.  The (relative) heat and lack of shade had made the run harder than I had expected.  In total, I ran the 7 miles in 1:08:43.  Just one year ago I was consistently running this same pace, but for my 5k runs.

I had a number of fast runs this week, and for that I am grateful.  They didn’t come easy, but I did it.  Hopefully next week I can tone it down and enjoy my runs a little more.  With the travel and time change, next week might be a good opportunity to relax a bit.  This time next week I’ll be back in the States.  Home sweet home, here I come.