Monday, July 21, 2014

July 14th-20th Training

Monday: 9.1 miles (6:54); 5.6 miles (7:36)

Tuesday: 8.4 miles with 6xhill blasts at 10.95 avg. (7:17); 6.7 miles (7:04)

Wednesday: 10.2 miles with 6.57 miles at 5:47 average. Goal was to work from 6:00 to 5:40 pace.  Got out a little quick and hung around 5:50s. The middle half had a tough headwind, but it gave me 15 seconds when it turned into a tailwind.  Started out feeling pretty easy but got a little tough at the end.; 6.8 miles (7:02)

Thursday: 8.6 miles (7:09); Skipped second run because the chicken I was smoking was ready about an hour ahead of schedule and I had some friends over for dinner.  The running gods punished me for skipping my run by making me step on a hot piece of charcoal in my socks, which burned a hole right through them which resulted in me throwing the shears I was holding across the backyard.

Friday: 6 miles (6:58); 1.1 miles (7:22).  Planned on a light workout but I wasn't feeling it, so after a mile, I walked home.

Saturday: 9.1 miles (7:24); 6.8 miles (7:10)

Sunday: 20 miles (6:18). Good run in some muggy weather considering I only had three sub 6:20 miles during my entire 20 miles two weeks ago.  Started rolling pretty quickly, made myself back off some and felt pretty strong even though I only had about 10 oz. of water.  Hit that rough long run spot, where you go from feeling good to having the fatigue creep in faster than you like around 18 miles.  Good confidence booster and I even chewed the same piece of gym for 20 miles, which is probably a record or something.

Week Total: 98.3 miles. Not bad volume for missing two runs.  I would have been around 115 with those in, which would have been a great week.  Hopefully something will be figured out at my hematologist appointment this week because I still haven't seen any test results from it yet.  Depending on how those look, I may jump into a race this weekend even though I'm way out of shape.

Friday, July 18, 2014

15 Deadly Improvised Prison Weaons

Here's some good info if you ever get thrown in the slammer for jaywalking on a run or something:

Keeping up with inmate improvisation is an endless and thankless project. It seems nothing brings out the ingenuity in a person like an endless sea of days spent staring through bars and thinking about freedom.
Photographer Marc Steinmetz must have understood this when he set out to create the fantastic photo essay we've printed below, showing some of the most cunning and creative improvised weapons and tools built by inmates in his home country of Germany.
All images and captions, Marc Steinmetz photography
SHOTGUN - made from iron bedposts; charge made of pieces of lead from curtain tape and match-heads, to be ignited by AA batteries and a broken light bulb. On May 21, 1984 two inmates of a prison in Celle, Germany, took a jailer as a hostage, showed off their fire power by letting go at a pane of bullet-proof glass, and escaped by car.
SHIV - disguised as a wooden crucifix;found in an inmate’s cell in Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany, sometime around 1994; intended for use in an escape or as a general weapon. At that time a lot of crucifixes were fashioned in prison woodshops until jailers finally figured out their true purpose.
IMMERSION HEATER - made from razor blades; found in a cell in ‘Santa Fu’ jail in Hamburg, Germany. Jailbirds use these tools to distil alcoholic beverages forbidden in prisons. Your typical inmate’s moonshine still includes a plastic can containing fermented fruit mash or juice, an immersion coil of some sort, a rubber hose, and a plastic receptacle for the booze.

KNUCKLEDUSTER - with padded handle, made from a rasp that was presumably stolen from a prison workshop. The weapon was found in a cell in the prison of Wolfenbüttel, Germany, sometime around 1993.

HASH PIPE - fashioned from an empty horseradish tube; confiscated in ‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg, Germany. Smoking implements are the most common illicit items in prisons. The range of materials they are made of mirrors the inmates’ great imagination.

DOUBLE-BARRELED PISTOL - This gun was found along with other homemade firearms in the cell of two Celle prison inmates on November 15, 1984. The weapons had been made in the prison’s metal workshop. They were loaded with pieces of steel and match-heads.

LADDER - made of steel rails from bookshelves. On October 10, 1994, inmates Gerhard Polak and Raimund Albert used this ladder during their successful escape from ‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg, 

MACE - This instrument was found in 1997 in the metal workshop of ‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg, Germany, where an unknown inmate manufactured and hid it. It is either a weapon, or, attached to a pole, might have been designed to push away barbed wire from the top of a wall during an escape.

NARCOTICS CACHE - In a hollow space inside his artificial leg a prisoner in open detention frequently smuggled narcotics into ‘Santa Fu’ prison in Hamburg, Germany. Around 1984 his behaviour finally got the attention of the jailers who gave the prosthesis a check.

WHIP - with razor blades. The grisly weapon was found around 1996 in ‘Santa Fu’ jail in Hamburg, Germany, in the cell of a drug addicted inmate after his failed attempt to extort a higher Methadone ration by threatening a female prison officer with a knife.

DUMMY SUBMACHINE GUN - made from a grease injector, wood, a rubber sleeve, and tape. The mock weapon was found in 1994 in a prison workshop in Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany, after jailers were tipped off that an escape attempt was being planned.

RADIO TRANSMITTER/BUG - made of radio recorder parts by an inmate of Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany (battery is missing). Prisoners occasionally manage to install gizmos like this one in guard-rooms to be prepared for upcoming cell searches. Also suitable as a means of cell-to-cell communication among inmates. A standard radio serves as a receiver.

GRAPPLING HOOK - with segmented extension rod (13 segments, overall length: 4.5 meters); rope made of leather and string. This cleverly conceived tool assisted two inmates in their escape from Ludwigsburg prison, Germany, on August 19, 1987. The attached rod enabled them to place and retrieve the hook and thus negotiate two prison walls in succession.

DUMMY PISTOL - from blackened cardboard; found on June 23, 1988, in an inmate’s cell in Stammheim prison, Germany, after a fellow prisoner tipped off the jailers. The dummy was hidden in an empty milk pack and was most probably intended to be used for taking hostages in an escape attempt.

SAW - made from a wooden coathanger and a jagsaw blade. The tool was confiscated in the therapeutical section of Hohenasperg prison, Germany.
To see more of Steinmetz work, visit his website at:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 7th-13th Training

Monday: 9.1 miles (7:00); 6.3 miles (7:19)

Tuesday: 8.7 miles (6:47); 6.2 miles with 4xhill blasts at 11.47 average (7:15). Decided to start timing these so I can chart progress; Weights

Wednesday: 9 miles (7:16); 5.6 miles (7:47). Don't know why I ran that so slowly...

Thursday: 9.5 miles (6:42); 6.3 miles with strides (6:59)

Friday: 10.7 miles with 8 mile progression. Goal was three miles each at 19:00, 17:45, 16:30.  Ended up running 18:44, 17:35 and 10:34.  Had to end a little bit early because while the first fast mile wasn't too bad (5:30), I died on the last 1/2 mile on the second mile.  My quads, arms and back were really achy and I was breathing really hard.  Frustrating that I died so quickly and badly, especially at 5:30 pace; 6.8 miles (7:16)

Saturday: 9 miles (6:54). Was going to run again but company came over later in the evening.

Sunday: 3.2 miles (7:24).  Plan was 20 at sub 6:30.  Legs felt tired from the get-go and instead of speeding up, I was slowing down.  After 1.5 miles, I knew I was dead, so I jogged home.  I absolutely hate missing long runs.

Week Total: 90.4 miles. Friday wasn't a confidence booster and Sunday was terrible.  The hematologist took out 10 tubes of blood, so hopefully they can figure out why my hemoglobin is tanking even though I'm taking iron and have ample ferritin.  It's hard to get this stuff in when I'm getting worse and worse.  It takes tons of time and physical and mental energy with no return.  I'm hoping I'm just on a really bad detour that will eventually lead me back onto the main road.  I probably just need to quit running and start an Emo band or something.  At least my weight and eating is good.  I was 143ish after BolderBoulder and I'm now down to 135, which is the lightest I've been since Duluth last year.  My follow-up appointment isn't until next Tuesday so hopefully they will at least upload my blood tests onto Patient Portal.

Monday, July 7, 2014

June 30th-July 6th Training

Monday: 9.1 miles (7:00ish); 4.5 miles (7:14)

Tuesday: 7.7 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:24). Absolutely died on these.  After 3-4 seconds on the first one, my legs were already smashed. I should have kept these around; 6.8 miles (7:24)

Wednsday: 9.6 miles (6:58); 5.3 miles (7:14)

Thursday: 10.1 miles with bombed workout.  Goal was to run 8ish miles, starting at 6:00 and working down to 5:40.  My GPS messed up at the start, so I didn't know how fast I was really running.  I manually split it at the usual mile marker and it was a 5:43. Too fast. Ran 5:48 and 5:55 for the next two miles and I was struggling, so I stopped a little bit into the fourth mile.  Legs are insanely sore from the hill blasts but I was really struggling aerobically with what should be a moderate effort.  Blood levels have dropped even more since last time, so maybe that explains it; 6.8 miles (7:16)

Friday: 8.1 miles (6:54); 5.4 miles (7:15)

Saturday: 9 miles with 5k in 17:49.  Course was long but I just ran to win.  Opened in 5:30 and then went 5:40, 5:41.  Pretty moderate effort but I honestly think I would have struggled to break 16 today; 4.5 miles (7:20)

Sunday: 20 miles (6:29). Felt pretty decent and quickly got down to 6:30 pace but my first sub 6:20 wasn't until the 17th mile.  Started to get insanely thirsty then, so I had to stop and use the rock quarry hose, even though I was only about two miles from home.  The good news is that it was water.  The bad news is that the water comes directly from the quarry and is used to hose down the trucks. I was so thirsty that I didn't care. Also saw the two smallest deer I've ever seen, 18 rabbits in a kilometer long strip of grass and the third Tesla I've seen in town.  Long runs can get boring.

Week Total: 106.9 miles.  Good volume but frustrated with the intensity.  I was insanely sore from the hill blasts until Friday and Thursday and Friday were much tougher than they should have been. My hct/hgb has dropped even more and I finally get to see the hematologist on Tuesday, so hopefully they can figure something what the deal is.

Strides jacked me up a few weeks ago when I tried them, so I kept out anything faster than a normal easy run, which I now feel is a mistake.  The hill blasts were way too hard on me because my muscles have gone from being lazy with no muscle tension to maximum contractions.  I feel the lack of faster running made Thursday and Saturday tougher as well.  It's hard to run under 6:00 pace when you haven't been doing it at all.  Hopefully it's a result of my iron-type issues so it will be an easy fix.

I really missed not being able to race at Peachtree this year.  The weather was perfect and Newton teammates, Stephen Pifer and Tyler McCandless ran really well to finish 6th and 8th overall.  Being that it's my first year on the team, I wanted to have a breakout year, but it hasn't been in the cards yet.  I'm also glad it was an American only race.  Foreign competition makes everyone go faster and I don't have a problem with it but if you're going to have a race be the US Championships, it needs to have just US runners in it. Other people effect the dynamics of the race too much.

I also started tracking my food on a website which has been helping me keep more accountable.  Before, I would just chow down on a cheeseburger.  Now, I have to answer to that and see how it effects my diet.  Ended up averaging just under 3000 calories a day with a 50% carbs, 32% fats and 18% protein breakdown.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

USATF Nationals and the Western States Endurance Run

This past weekend, there were two big races: The U.S. Track and Field Championships and the Western States 100.  Being that there's no World Championships spots on the line because they don't have the championships this year (which I think is dumb), a lot of top runners ran events outside their normal event and a lot of top runners just didn't show up.

To be honest, I only watched one track race.  Life is busy right now (I know, I shouldn't be busy because teachers get paid two months vacation every year) and with kids, running and a house and yard to take care of, I didn't have much time to sit in front of the TV/laptop.  And I must admit, I dusted off the PS3 that hasn't been played in a very long time and started and finished God of War 3. Zeus gave me a bunch of whoopings, but I had the last laugh.

But I stayed up so I could watch the men's 5000m.  There were two native Nashvillians in the race (Andrew Bumbalough and Sean Keveren) and I've gotten to know Tyler Pennel at some races and have met Eric Finan a couple of times, so I wanted to see all of them compete.  I was disappointed that Galen Rupp scratched from the race.  I don't think Sacramento has high allergy counts and the track didn't look bumpy or anything, so I don't know why he decided to skip it.  But I was looking forward to seeing if Ryan Hill, Hassan Mead or Bumbalough would be able to take Grandpa Lagat.

In the race,Tyler took the lead early on and was clicking off consistent 67s with no one else wanting to help out.  Maybe they all were looking at his rat tail or something.  Eventually the pace picked up and the bell lap found Bumbalough in the lead.  He was looking really strong and Bernard Lagat wasn't really responding.  Just when I thought that Bumbalough would be able pull it off the victory, Lagat started a manic kick with about 10 seconds left to take the victory, with Bumby finishing second.  Tyler and Eric PR'd to finish in 9th and 10th, with Sean in 15th.  While I missed the women's 5000, the last lap was an insane battle.  If you didn't see it, you just have to watch for yourself.

It was also cool to see Ben Bruce compete in the steeplechase.  He's run a couple of marathons this year, along with a ton of other road races and I don't believe has run a steeplechase all year.  I always root for guys who aren't primadonnas and go out and race hard and race often in a variety of distances.  But since he was the top 32 year old finisher at the Gate River 15k this past March, I will be seeking revenge on him next year.

Even though I have a closer association with track, I spent more time this weekend watching Western States.  Western States is a 100 mile trail race in California wither over 18,000 feet of  elevation gain and 22,000 feet of elevation loss.  I'm kind of a closet ultramarathon fan because I love the unpredictability of it all and you can even take a long nap and go for a couple of runs and still not miss much.  I knew the 5000m and 10000m this past weekend would be sit-and-kick races but in the ultra running world, you never know what will happen. A dude could be leading by 15 minutes with a few miles to go and then he completely falls apart and gets passed by several guys.  And there's so many different aspects of it all: smooth and fast singletrack, insanely rocky terrain, super steep and super long hills and then you have to figure out the whole nutrition aspect.  And a lot of the top American ultra guys are more unique "characters" than a lot of the track guys are.  You have Zach Miller, who literally trained on a cruise ship, come out and start smoking everyone.  Max King, who is a sadistic guy who once ran a race with the bib number pinned to his bare chest and is also nationally competitive in the steeplechase and cross country. Sage Canady, a former 2:16 guy who runs in those tall shoes and makes a lot of YouTube videos (but the guy seems to be really intelligent and one of the brighter minds in the sport).  Rob Krar, who was a 1:51 800m guy in college, but is now destroying 100 milers and the list goes on.

Going into the race, I thought Rob Krar was the big favorite.  He's been running really well lately and seems to have a knock for the long stuff.  Max King was making his 100 mile debut and even though I would predict him to win this race if it was a 50 miler, he seems to have trouble with races over 100k.  And since it was his first 100 miler, I couldn't seem him knocking it out of the park on the first try. 

You can even race in a cowboy hat if you wish

Max led from the start and was building up a nice sized lead.  Krar was hanging back in the pack and bidding his time.  Once, I saw that, I felt like my prediction for the Krar win was sealed but was hoping Max could hang on for a podium spot.  Krar ended up taking the lead at 71 miles, to win in 14:53 and Max fell back to fourth in 15:44.  Seth Swanson, finished second and he has only been running a few years, with Dylan Bowman in third.

Watching that race also made me put Western States on my bucket list.  I've always wanted to try a 100 miler but I'm a terrible trail runner....I hate running on rocks, I crawl up steep hills and get scared running down fast descents and I have a heck of a time changing gears.  But Western States is like the "Boston Marathon" of the ultra world, so I figure I'll give it a go some day.  I may be a terrible technical trail runner but I can eat a ton of crap before running and it never bothers me, so at least I have that going for me.

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 23rd-29th Training

Monday: 9.1 miles (7:06); 5.5 miles (7:30)

Tuesday: 9.1 miles (6:55); 5.4 miles (7:09)

Wednesday: 10.6 miles (6:36); 5.7 miles (7:14)

Thursday: 9.1 miles (6:48); 5.6 miles (7:16)

Friday: 7.3 miles (7:14); 6.1 miles (6:15)

Saturday: 9.4 miles (6:40); 4.8 miles (7:17)

Sunday: 18.2 miles (6:32). Two completed long runs in a row, I'm on a roll.  Ventured out on a partially new course since almost all of my runs are a variation of 2-3 routes. The new part was really good for running...constant rolling hills, no traffic or loose dogs, lots of open space and farmland and the only sounds I heard on those sevenish miles were my feet, crickets and birds.  There was a huge pack of vultures and I could have sworn one of them was barking at me but then I saw a dog in someone's backyard. I was hoping to run this under 6:30 pace and was at 6:35 halfway, but the hills beat my legs up and my legs didn't feel like picking it up. But on a good note, this course is going to be perfect for CIM fast finish longs runs since the "new" route ended right where my fast finish long runs normally start and CIM has some rollers before a flat last few miles, similar to what I did here.  With five miles to go, it was clear and sunny but in the distance, it was pitch black.  With about three miles to go, I could see the starting point of the downpour a couple hundred meters ahead of me and I felt like I was a medieval warrior charging to battle.  I was super drenched and my feet were getting super achy, which frequently happens on long runs when I'm out of shape and boosting up my mileage.   I was going to run an easy 3-3.5 in the evening but I was too busy and my legs were a little achy as it was.

Week Total: 105.9 miles.  Another decent volume week. And even though I'm doing a lot of my runs in 150+ misery index, I feel like I'm finally getting more adapted to it. I'm also sleeping a couple of hours less a night, so hopefully that means I'm getting a little more fit.  And I'm still eating decently (for myself) and am leaning up a good bit.  So it feels good to make some forward progress even though I'm still way out of shape. Next week, I'll keep the volume around the same and get in a moderate run, a 5k as an easyish tempo (hopefully no one else shows up) and a 20 miler. I may even go crazy and add some hill sprints and some weight work since I've been paying or the gym, but never go. I'm hoping to have a good July so I can be ready to train hard in August.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Spring Review; Rest of the Year Plans

The spring season this year was a complete bust.  After Houston, I took it easy for a few weeks and then had inconsistent workouts until the Gate River 15k, which served as the US Championships.  I was extremely rusty there and based on my workouts and fitness level, I expected to run 46:00-46:30.  I ended up running 45:24 and beat some tough dudes in the process.  I took it as a really good sign and felt like I was a month away from being in sub 64 half-marathon shape and by the time the Fifth Third Bank Run rolled around in May, which served as the 25k Championships, I would be able to run 4:50-4:55 pace.  But right after Gate River, I developed a bum hip, which was diagnosed as Greater Trochanter Pain Syndrome.

The hip issue caused me to miss two weeks.  My plan was then to run the Country Music Half-Marathon in late April and use the next couple of months to build a big base for the Chicago Marathon, where I planned to go after a 2:13.  But I was an idiot and decided to run the full marathon at Nashville, which put me out the very next day with Patellofemoral Syndrome, which was another two weeks lost.  While I was still surprisingly fit after my first two week hiatus, I was dragging butt after my second one.  And shortly after starting, I was dragging butt even more before seeing that my thyroid was running slower than I was and my iron was the lowest I've ever seen it before.  So yeah, no Chicago Marathon for me.

So what's the plan now?  I'm penciling in the California International Marathon on December 7th.  If somehow I get in Superman shape really fast, I may swap that for the Indy Monumental Marathon on November 1st.  It's the fastest course I've run on, traditionally has really good weather and the directors do a great job putting it on.  If things go slower than planned, I may wait until the Houston Marathon again.  Most likely, I'll see where my fitness is in September and use the San Jose Half-Marathon in early October as a litmus test to see if I'm ready for a marathon cycle.

But back to training...When designing a training plan, everyone has their goal race as their final destination. You know where you need to be (time goal) and when you want to be there (the day of the race).  But before you can get directions to somewhere, you have to know where you currently are.  If my spring season went as planned, I could jump into my normal routine....a couple weeks of base training, which mainly serve as recovery/downtime, a couple months getting 95% fit from the 5k-HM and then spending the last two months trying to prepare my body for the specific demands of the distance and course conditions of my goal marathon.

But since I missed so much time this spring, I have to take a different approach.  The middle of May through the end of June will be nothing but easy runs.  Just running around between 6:30-7:00+ pace.  I've even refrained from strides and short hill sprints.  I need to get my body used to the demands of running again and develop a little bit of aerobic fitness before I can start piling on harder running.  And by keeping it easier, I can build my red blood cells back more quickly.  Well, I think it works that way.

Once I hit July, I'll go back to my usual "base training".  I'll throw in some easier progression runs, some steady runs, jump in some races and become more consistent with strides and short hills.  I may even head to the gym that I've been to twice, even though I joined almost four months ago.  I got a bunch of imbalances and stuff that I've been too lazy to work on but the idea of going to the gym to fix them sounds pretty good to me.

And once school starts in August, I will hopefully be back to consistent speed workouts.  I'll be a little behind where I want to be, but I feel my fitness will improve quicker than it normally does.  I'll also find some "race" races where I expect to throw down and also get whooped.  During that time, I'll train with the intentions of someone preparing for CIM so instead of a lot of track workouts and flat running, I'll do a lot of hilly fartleks and get used to changing gears and rhythm, which is almost my kryptonite.  So if any of you have run CIM and have any good tips, course thoughts, etc. feel free to let me know!

This long training cycle is going to take more patience and planning than usual.  When things are going smoothly,  I feel like the different training periods are little pit stops along the race track.  I make small adjustments here and there and I'm back on my merry way.  With the way things went this spring, it's like my car crashed and I have to rebuild a lot of things.  Some things I know are missing, others will appear later.

It's a frustrating time right now but I have a long time to get back where I want to be.  I don't have very many really fast seasons left, so I hated losing this past spring.  But I have big plans for the next year or so, so I'll be back.  And I will probably even go to the gym.