Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tired Legs and Off Days

It is amazing what a day off will do for tired legs. As I look forward to a fall marathon, I have added some “faster” running into my repertoire of workouts. Most of my running in recent years has been just for the sake of running, and not for running fast. So I’ve started adding tempo runs and mile repeats into my training to build speed and endurance at faster paces. Problem is, man, do I get tired. I have been careful thus far to listen to my body and avoid injury. And usually a day off is just what I need to adequately recover. After taking off from running and cross training on Tuesday, I did a nice and easy 3-miler today and my legs felt springy and were ready to go. Now I’m on track for a 16-miler this weekend.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The 2008 Diamond in the Rough Triathlon

The Diamond in the Rough Triathlon was yesterday in Perryville, MD, and my son, neighbor, and I cheered on the athletes at a couple of points along the course. Conditions were about as good as one could hope for in mid-July; although the temperature and humidity rose as early morning progressed into mid-morning, and swimming progressed to biking and running, the water was calm and there was not a noticeable wind.

Checking out the progress of the swimmers

Not wasting any time, these participants ran to their bikes

We watched the swimmers exit the water of the Susquehanna River/Chesapeake Bay and run to their bikes in the exchange zone. As it is difficult to really observe a mile swim from land, we wanted to find a nice place along the bike route to cheer. We selected a parking lot in Port Deposit, about ¼ mile from the last big climb of the day – the Alpe d’Huez of Cecil County. Ok, so maybe comparing any hill in Maryland to the monster of a climb that Lance Armstrong absolutely dominated in route to winning the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times is a bit of a stretch. But to us mere mortals, this hill in Maryland still poses a respectable challenge. I have climbed this hill on my road bike several times and it always makes me suffer. Well, we watched most of the bikers from this point and my son really enjoyed waving, clapping, and blowing his Thomas the Tank Engine whistle as the riders passed us by.

Cheering for the bikers

These guys were fast

Watching a triathlon can only hold the attention of a two-year-old for so long, and after about forty-five minutes of cheering on the bikers, my son adamantly stated that it was time to go home. So we didn’t get to watch any part of the run – we ate lunch instead – and then took a nap:) Never having participated in a triathlon, the event appears to be well organized and staffed with many volunteers. Congratulations to the participants and kudos to the event directors and volunteers that make it all happen. If triathlons are your thing, and you can travel to northeastern Maryland next year, check out the Diamond in the Rough Triathlon, and we’ll see you next year. Cheers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Training for a Good Night’s Sleep

I like to sleep. Make that I love to sleep. Problem is, as I’ve aged, I’m now 35 years young, it takes longer for me to fall asleep, I wake up earlier, and I usually can’t sleep if I nap on a lazy afternoon. One of the benefits of putting a marathon on my calendar has been that it has forced me to really focus on running. Over the past few months I have gradually increased my weekly mileage and workout intensity. My tough workouts have become tougher, and the long runs longer. Coincidentally, my level of exhaustion at the end of the day has also increased over this same period, making for a very short trip to dreamland. As I see it, I’m no longer training solely for a marathon, but for a good night’s sleep as well. Good night.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Prepping for the Diamond in the Rough Triathlon

I rode my mountain bike for about a half hour through the park this morning to loosen the legs up from yesterday’s run. While I was in the park I spoke to some folks that were preparing to ride the bike route of the Diamond in the Rough Triathlon. The DITR is next Saturday and entails a mile swim in the the Susquehanna River, a 27-mile bike ride over hilly terrain, and a 5-mile run on an out-and-back, fairly flat course. Never having participated in a triathlon, I can’t provide a credible overall assessment of the course (hey, I’m certain that a flat five mile run is a lot more difficult after a long swim and hilly bike ride). But I do know that the bike route is challenging. I have pedaled my road bike over most of the course at one time or another and there are a lot of rolling hills over the first half of the route. For participants not familiar with the course, the river can be a false sense of security. After traversing the hills over the first half, the route then follows the river for approximately six flat and fast miles. But expend too much energy along the river, and the last and largest hill of the course will demand a toll. The hill is more than a mile long, much of which exceeds a 7% grade. Ascend the hill, though, and it is all downhill to the exchange zone.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Long Run for Independence Day

Waking up at 5:30 in the morning to go for a run is not how most people begin a National Holiday. Add a little rain, some long hills, and the knowledge that there will be discomfort and the thought of running becomes even more absurd. But as runners, this is our curse, our drive, and our life. This morning, my neighbor and I set out on a rainy 14-miler before enjoying the rest of the day’s festivities. We ran a 9-mile loop with some good hills, stopped at home long enough to collect the dog, and then the three of us ran five miles through the town park. Because of the rain my son stayed at home today. Besides, he had an important job of taste testing the waffles my wife made for breakfast. He did a good job too, because they tasted great!