Week 35: workouts

Well, vacation time was over and it was back to the real world and work!  Instead of falling back into the usual routine I mixed it up a bit.  I finished my first trail run and took a new route for my long run.  Adam even joined me in the gym for one of my lifting routines.

On Monday morning I went to the gym for my lifting routine, but I did something different this time: I ran to the gym as a warm up.  I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but it’s hard to stick with it when I’m sore from a long run the day before.  This time I took a longer route than necessary and ran a mile in 8:48.  I felt pretty fast and I could feel my leg muscles were working, too.  After the run, I took the opportunity to stretch my calves and hip flexors which always seem to be tight.  I then did 4 sets of 12 reps for my back, chest, shoulders, triceps, and biceps with an ab workout in the middle.  I also made sure to stretch my upper body afterwards – something I’m usually pretty lazy about.  I felt really good about this workout and my arms were shaky that morning (tired but okay).  It was a great way to start the week.

Monday night I arrived home around 8pm and wasn’t at all hungry for dinner.  I forced myself to eat and went straight to bed, but I still felt sick when I woke up Tuesday morning.  It felt like a light chest cold.  Even though I felt dizzy and weak, I still wanted to go to the track to see how it would go.  By the time we arrived I was feeling better, but the 3/4 mile warm up was hard.  I did drills with Adam then opted to run at a steady pace rather than attempt intervals.  I managed another mile before I started to get really hungry and feel heartburn so I stopped and stretched without pushing it any further.  The workout was good for me mentally even though I didn’t get to push through it – that fresh morning air is often the best part of day and I would have missed it if I had just opted to stay home.

On Wednesday, though, I slept in.  Adam is taking a break from hard-core training and we decided together to skip the cycling workout we had planned.  It was a lazy morning.

IMG_20130829_082820Thursday morning Adam and I drove to a nearby park for some trail running.  I was really excited about the change from our usual limited routes around home.  What I didn’t expect was how hilly the route would be compared to what I was used to.  It was also muggy enough that my glasses fogged up a couple times during the run.  I had to work a little harder than usual, but the new scenery was enough distraction that I didn’t mind so much.  Adam and I ran together for the first kilometer or so before he took off at his pace.  After 2.5k I turned around to head back to the car and luckily didn’t get lost.  Adam caught up to me before the end and we finished the run with a brutal set of stairs (why??!).  In the end I ran the 5k in about 33:30.  Considering the mud, railroad ties, and hills I’m very happy with that time.

On Friday I went to the gym for my lifting routine and this time Adam tagged along, too!  I ran my mile warm up in about 9:30 and did some dynamic stretching before hitting the weights.  I use dumbbells for the most part but Adam wanted to stick with bodyweight exercises so we opted for different routines.  I like the idea of bodyweight exercises since they’re easy to do when traveling and might be good if I find myself without a gym membership in the future.  That said, there’s something I really like about using the dumbbells in the gym.  I did 4 sets of 20 reps with abs in between and a quick stretch afterwards.

On Saturday I took the day off and kept myself busy running errands.

JFTSunday morning was by far the hardest workout of the week.  Due to the heat and humidity we decided to run from home so Adam would have a chance to properly shower before going to work that day.  The Jones Falls trail sounded appealing after trail running on Thursday so we set off through Druid Hill Park up to Clipper Mill.  We didn’t know exactly how long it would be, but we’d biked the course before so I knew roughly what to expect.  Well, as it turns out, hills are much less memorable when you’re tackling them on a bike.  The route was hillier than I had remembered, but I did learn how to take advantage of the downhill sections by leaning into it and letting gravity do the work.  At one point I was flying and I felt like my leg muscles weren’t working at all – it just felt automatic.  My heart rate did go up, though, during the downhill stretches.  In retrospect I realize this was hard on my knees so I’ll take it easy when doing this in the future.  On the way back we hit a huge hill (Union Ave) that seemed to last forever.  I had to pause halfway to catch my breath even though I was barely moving.  With the humidity and the hills, this 7.33 mile run in 1:20:28 was much harder than the slightly longer run I’ve done in the past around the inner harbor.  For the rest of the day I felt like a zombie, but that was partially a result of the heat.  It was a hard run, but I’m glad I did it.


Week 34: workouts

This week we returned from our busy but wonderful trip to Milwaukee and various places in Michigan.  Monday was my first day running in well over a week and it was a good reminder regarding the importance of consistency in training.

On Monday I set out for what I knew would be a difficult run.  I was feeling a little sick the day before so I set out to run two miles instead of the usual three.  With the upcoming travel, too, I figured more days of slightly less running would be a good way to go.  I took my usual route up north and my legs felt really tired.  I struggled with some light-headedness and heartburn, but I finished the 2 miles in 19:26.  Even though it wasn’t comfortable while I was running, I very much enjoyed going for a run before breakfast.  That quiet time in the morning, the feeling of accomplishment, and the feeling of well-being later in the morning are part of my home routine – something I missed while traveling.

I felt a little better for my run on Tuesday.  This time I took a route to the south and ran 2 miles in 19:52.  I had cramps for most of the time and the run still wasn’t pleasant, but it was a far cry from the discomfort I felt when I first started running two years ago.  A short break can set me back a bit but it also serves as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

On Wednesday I woke up early to run before we left for Ocean City to vacation with Adam’s family, but my calves were sore so I opted to take the day off instead.

ocean-cityThursday was our first whole day in Ocean City and I started the day off right with a short run with Abbey and Shane.  The pace felt fast, but my breathing wasn’t heavy as we ran along the main street.  It seemed like just the right effort.  We finished these 2 miles in 19:08.

I was on my own for my Friday morning run along the same route as the day before.  I felt pretty good so I pushed the pace a little.  I felt like I was flying – it was great.  My heart rate was high (above 180 for at least half and I topped out at 190).  With that effort I ran the 2 miles in 17:36.  The time surprised me a bit, but I was glad to see the extra effort pay off.

Saturday morning I was lucky enough to have Adam join me on my run.  I was feeling a little tired and sore from the day before so I didn’t feel inclined to push it.  We ran a relatively comfortable pace and finished the 2 miles in 19:34.

By Sunday I was pretty tired so I took the day off and let my legs rest a little.

Overall, I’m really happy that I managed to run most days this week, even though we were on vacation.  It was a great way to start the morning and it set me up well for future workouts.  Staying in one place definitely helped, but I’ll be sure to work in at least a couple runs next time I’m away from home.  Exercise/running is part of my life now and there’s no need to leave that at home!


Week 33: workouts

There’s not too much to say about week 33 except that it was wonderful and I didn’t do any workouts.  I had time away from work and spent the week with Adam driving all over Michigan to visit family.  It seemed like every minute was packed with family time so I took a break from the workouts.  In retrospect it would have been nice to work in a few runs, but I’m still happy with how the week turned out.

mackinacOn Wednesday Adam, my little brother Mike, and I spent the day on Mackinac Island.  It was a little chilly, but still a beautiful day spent cycling and walking around.  I also had some fun taking pictures on the ferry ride home.


Next week is more vacation – this time with Adam’s family – so let’s see if I can log some miles and remind my legs how to run!

Week 32: workouts

This week I managed to get a few good workouts in before I left home for a two week vacation with lots of driving time.  Adam qualified for the USAT age group national championship race in Milwaukee (read his race report here) so we planned to combine that trip with some family visits in (every corner of) Michigan.

Monday morning was my usual lifting routine.  I found the perfect weight for everything but my back with is often a challenge since my forearms tend to give out before my back muscles.

tue-runOn Tuesday Adam ran his pre-race “remind my legs how to go fast” workout.  After an eight minute warm up, he ran a 5k at race pace and I ran 2.2 miles in roughly the same amount of time (19:12 for me @ 8:46 min/mi pace).  One mile into the run my legs found their groove and the running felt really good.  I felt the inclination to fall back into that groove again during my barefoot lap for cool down.  Clearly my legs were prepared to run farther.



Wednesday we were back at Lake Montebello for more cycling.  To prepare for the upcoming race, Adam practiced his transition by repeatedly cycling a lap then running a couple hundred meters.  I didn’t expect to have much time so I opted for a sustained pace rather than intervals.  I did nine full laps (12 miles total) before a cool down lap with Adam.  The effort was moderate with an average speed over 17 mph.


Thursday began the many days of driving and visiting with family so I didn’t complete any more workouts this week, through I suppose I could have done so if I’d make an effort.  After many long months of consistent training, it was nice to have a little break.

Week 31: workouts

This week Adam helped me develop a new workout schedule to incorporate some cycling.  The plan is roughly as follows:

  • Mon – strength training
  • Tue – running  (alternate weeks of 5k and track sessions)
  • Wed – cycling intervals
  • Thurs – running  (alternate weeks of 5k and track sessions)
  • Fri – strength training
  • Sat – cycling
  • Sun – long run

On Monday I made it back to the gym to work on my upper-body strength.  My love for lifting has definitely waned since I started running, but I do miss the muscle tone I used to have when I was lifting five days a week (about two years ago now).  Part of the problem is that I’m being lazy with my warm ups.  I tend to skip the ten minutes of cardio beforehand and the early sets with less weight.  I do this to save time, but the rest of the workout suffers.  I’ll need to get to the gym a little earlier in the future so I don’t feel so rushed for time.  For this workout I did the usual five muscle groups (back, chest, shoulders, triceps, and biceps) and I hit my chest especially well.  My pecs were still sore two days later.

My calves were really sore Tuesday morning, so I took Adam’s advice and let them rest.  I like keeping to a schedule, but I know my body needs time to recover.  No worries.

Wednesday morning I joined Adam at Lake Montebello for some cycling intervals.  The paved path around the lake is 1.34 miles and the bike lane is generally clear of pedestrians, so it’s a good place to go fast.  I did a ten minute warm up followed by three intervals of 10 minutes hard + 5 minutes easy.  The effort was definitely less than running, but it was enough to feel my quads working and my breathing get a little faster.  I’m still working on my bike handling skills, so I don’t like to go too fast.  I covered 14 miles in an hour and considered doing a fourth interval, but opted to skip it since I had a 5k planning for the next morning.  At the end of the workout, I pulled up to the car and unclipped my left shoe.  As the bike came to a stop I felt it leaning slightly to the right and, before I had a chance to unclip the right shoe, I fell on my right side in front of a group of pedestrians.  I couldn’t help but laugh as several people ran over to help me.  It wasn’t my most graceful moment, but I knew it would happen eventually.  Lesson learned – lean to the left!

Thursday morning I ran a 30:08 5k down by Druid Hill Park.  The weather was cloudy with a light rain, but it was still muggy.  I didn’t push too hard and kept an easy pace so I felt pretty good at the end of the run.  This was my first time running since Sunday – a long gap for me lately.  That evening Adam and I rode our bikes down to Mt. Vernon for the First Thursday concert (Brett Dennen!) – about three miles each way.  It was a fun ride that kept me on my toes thanks to potholes and the sometimes unpredictable traffic.  The weather was perfect and the concert was great so I was glad we decided to bike down rather than drive.  It’s not something I would have done a year ago, but I’m definitely becoming more adventurous.

I was back at the gym on Friday for my lifting routine.  Inspired by the good chest workout on Monday, I upped the intensity for the rest of the exercises and was able to really push it for my back, chest, shoulders, and triceps.  At the end of each set, my arms were shaking but I was still in control.  I really got my heart rate up for the shoulder presses, too.  It felt great.

sat-bike-mapSaturday morning Adam joined me for a 14 mile bike around northern Baltimore.  It was relatively easy with some fast downhills in the first half.   Nine miles in we hit Bellona Ave with a steep 800m climb that got my heart rate up to 180 and nearly stopped my in my tracks.  I really had to fight, but I successfully made it to the top.  It took a good three minutes for my breathing to get back to normal.  The rest of the ride was uneventful but enjoyable with the cool early-morning weather.  By the end of the ride I felt like my triceps we going to fall off, but my legs were feeling good.  We finished the 14.4 miles in approximately 1:21:00 with a top speed of about 25 mph.

sat-bike-dataSunday morning I ran a mentally-tough 8 miles for my long run.  Adam and I drove down to Boston Street for this run, and I made sure to drink a glass of water and eat half a banana before the drive so it would have time to digest before the run.  The weather was cool with a bit of wind, but my legs were fatigued from the start so I didn’t enjoy it much.  Two miles in I could feel my stomach rumble, but I thankfully didn’t feel thirsty.  I was having a hard time on that run and it seemed like I was surrounded with people strolling leisurely with coffee in hand.  (I recently gave up coffee so this made me grumpy.)  There were also many more runners than usual, and it felt like we were constantly being passed.  Overall, we finished in 1:23:40 which is a bit slower than usual, but not a surprise given the two extra cycling workouts earlier in the week.  It was a tough workout so I was especially glad to have Adam by my side – some days I couldn’t do it without him.

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.