Week of SOLID Running Workouts!

>> Monday, September 15, 2014

I need to rest for a few days - I've had some great workouts leading up to the TC 10 Mile (and the "Looney Challenge") in just under 3 weeks. But now my hip/sacrum is pretty achy. I've had 5 runs in a row that were every-other-day from last Saturday though this Sunday. The last 4 workouts have followed a week of workouts from Coach Jen from 4 years ago as I was training for my sub-60 TC 10 Mile.

• Sat, Sept 6: 1-mile intervals. (I posted a little about this workout HERE.) I ran on the road around my house, and ran an average of 5:49.

• Mon, Sept 8: 10+ miles done as a 2 mile warm-up, 5 miles descending, 3 mile cool-down. (Also posted a bit about this workout HERE.) I descended my middle 5 miles in 6:36, 6:19, 6:16, 6:20, and 6:00 (31:31 for those hard 5 miles).

• Wed, Sept 10: 7+ mile tempo done as a 2 mile warm-up, 4 miles descending FAST, and a 1+ mile cool-down. I've learned I have more speed left in my legs than I thought. My final mile was TOO fast because I'm saving too much in the middle. My 4 fast miles were 6:18, 6:16, 6:13, and 5:45. Yeah, saved a little too much for that final mile. Dang.

• Thurs, Sept 11: 3x500 in the pool. I had time for a QUICK swim between my class and a meeting at the college where I teach. Quickly cranked out 500s in 7:54, 7:53, and 7:54.

• Fri, Sept 12: easy, easy, easy 7 miler. Got in some stretching too.

• Sat, Sept 13: bike ride with 3x5 mile intervals. It was CHILLY on Saturday morning! I Instagrammed this:

"From this morning: dressing for a 45 degree ride is never sexy."

And then that afternoon, I got in some relaxed walking as we celebrated my brother-in-law Matt's bachelor party. We had 9 guys hitting the links for some shitty golf as seen in 2 more Instagrammed photos:

"Dear Goodrich Golf Course: we treated this as a suggestion. Hope that's alright. Thanx."

"Beautiful day to be out with the bachelor party boy."

(Oh, and here's a video of my youngest brother-in-law taking his first shot of the day. He's a majestic creature. Majestic like a drunk bear in heat.)

• Sun, Sept 14: 11+ miles done as a 2.5 mile warm-up, 5 miles at 10-mile race pace, then cool down for the rest of the miles. My mile hard miles were 6:13, 6:21, 6:11, 6:11, and 6:03. (30:59 for those hard 5 miles.) My first half-mile was my fastest (I went out TOO hard) - it was my only half-mile split of sub-3:00. I knew I couldn't hold on to that, so I slowed up a bit and then tried to hold on and keep it consistent.

Pointless nerdy math: Like I said at the start of this post, the last 4 runs were the same runs during a week of training with Coach Jen from 4 years ago. One of those runs was an easy run. So looking at the 3 hard runs, I was 0:11 slower/mile in the 10 miler, 0:17 slower/mile in the tempo, and 0:18 slower/mile in the 11 miler. I'd LOVE to run a 1:03:something this year at the TC 10 Mile (that's my "best case scenario"), which is 6:18 to 6:24 pace. That's 0:23 to 0:29 slower/mile than I did 4 years ago, BUUUUUT this year I'm running the 10K and 5K the day before. So, based on all of this, I think it's POSSIBLE to make sub-1:04 a reality. But the big "X-factor" is how my legs will feel after racing a 10K and 5K the day before. Should be fun!


Friday Funny 791: Being a Non-Athletic Person in Madison During Ironman Wisconsin

>> Friday, September 12, 2014

One of the young writers from The Badger Herald in Wisconsin (duh) recently wrote this article about Ironman Wisconsin:

"Ironman Wisconsin: The one day a year where I feel like an extra shitty person"

Every year, a day rolls around where I and many others in Madison feel 50 times more hungover and lazy than we actually are. It’s the day of Ironman Wisconsin.

On my way to work at the Herald this Sunday, I had to avoid roped-off streets, backed-up traffic and increased police roadblocks until I was finally able to reach State Street. It was there that I paused and watched some of the most dedicated athletes in the United States running the final stretches of a grueling endurance test. These people started off their day swimming 2.4 miles in Lake Monona. Then they voluntarily biked 112 miles. Now, they were completing a full marathon through the city of Madison. By the end of the night, a handsome percentage of these people would be shitting and pissing themselves because their bodies would literally shut down on them.

I, meanwhile, had started off my day as many of these people would end theirs: shitting violently. This was not due to exercise, however. It was because the night before, I had decided it would be a good idea to drink — among many other things — something called a “Straw-Ber-Ita.” I apparently also thought it was a good idea to end my night shoving sesame chicken into my mouth before falling asleep.

As I watched these kings and queens of endurance, I realized that I had woken up hungover three days in a row. I realized that the last time I had exercised was well over a week ago. I realized that after only a week of class I had already fallen behind on readings. I realized that I didn’t even have the textbooks for these classes. I realized that I had lost touch with a decent number of my friends who were very important to me throughout my first couple years of college. I realized that maybe I should be less shitty of a person.

Normally, I do not think of myself as a shitty person. I consider myself a compassionate and productive member of society. But as I stood there, watching these endurance beasts run past me while my head felt like a sack of bricks, I was struck by how dedicated these people were to pursuing an insane goal of traveling 140.6 miles by swimming, biking and running. These people were able to accomplish something most of us will never do in our entire lives. They were attempting something extremely difficult and actually accomplishing it.

After watching for a while, I made a lengthy to-do list of things I wanted to get done. The list included trivial things like “buy textbooks” and “clean room” and “get coffee with (insert name here).” After watching these people push themselves to the point of involuntary defecation, these simple tasks that I had been putting off for a long time seemed a lot less difficult.

I have a friend who once did mushrooms and watched hours’ worth of YouTube videos of people running marathons. He decided to join a track club and competed in various races throughout the Midwest over the following year. Like me, he was inspired by this superhuman endurance and decided to make positive changes to his life. While I don’t plan on joining a track club any time soon, I’ve come into this week tackling problems headfirst, with the understanding that conflicts and obligations — be they related to school, work or my social life — are all pretty insignificant and relatively easy to deal with.

So, what have I learned from this? I guess it’s this: If you’re ever feeling hopeless or feel like the things you have to accomplish in life are just too much, go to YouTube and watch some videos of people running marathons, skiing hundreds of miles, swimming long distances or completing Ironman triathlons. You’ll realize that your life isn’t so hard. You might be hungover today, but there’s always tomorrow to start working on not being a shithead.

Oh, and in other funny news, Little Debbie is adding a competitive eating competition to Ironman Chattanooga. (Not really. But that'd be awesome.)

Lots more funny stuff posted all week long on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com. Happy weekend!


Friday Funny 790: Man vs. Ice Cream

You all know "former student Jeremy." He raced a lot of the 2012 Grand Prix races with me, and we've teamed up TWICE this year:

Our first place relay (NEARLY setting a course record) at the Trinona Triathlon.

Another first place relay at the Waconia Triathlon.

Well, he recently went to Nelson's Ice Cream Shop here in St. Paul, and he tried to conquer "the lumberjack." That's 5 softball-sized scoops of ice cream and a ton of toppings. If you finish it by yourself, you get your photo on a "hall of fame" wall. Jeremy's attempt was well documented by his friend Emily, and she kept the updates coming on Facebook. Here's how it went down (with Emily's captions):

Jeremy vs The Lumberjack

8:27pm: Jeremy has asked to borrow my hoodie and said, "I am beginning to doubt myself."

8:36pm: We have moved outside because it is warmer. Jeremy has
uncontrollable shakes. He admits, "Maybe I wasn't ready for this."

8:42: Jeremy is contemplating his life decisions.
[OH GOD, HIS EYES!!!! Ha!]

8:47pm: "I'm going to throw up."

8:53pm: "I've never hated ice cream so much in my life."

8:58pm: "My heart is beating really hard. I think I have a fever. My body is shutting down."

9:03: "Where is that fried fish smell coming from?" Jeremy can't focus on
the ice cream and is highly sensitive to his surroundings.


9:12pm: Second wind.


[Jeremy's post:] That was honestly the single most sinful, satanic thing I've done in my entire life.

Jeremy posted later: "Thank you to all of my supportive friends and fans. I couldn't have done it without you. Word of advice: never do it. It's the worst thing ever and I think ice cream and I are no longer on speaking terms."

And when someone asked how he did it, his friend Emily responded with "All I will say is, Jeremy was nice enough not to puke in my car. Other places though..." Gross. Awesome. Well done, Jeremy.

Check out more funny stuff on my tumblr page: steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.


Friday Funny 789: 15 Funny Marathon Signs

Runner's World recently posted some funny signs from different races. Here are the best 15 (many with captions from the people who submitted them):

2011 Vermont City Marathon. Our 'Ricky Bobby fan' friend got second place so the sign helped!

Cheering on some friends at the 2013 Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon,
I had NO idea how much attention this sign would get! A solid 70% of
the guys were like, 'Am I the creepy one?' Haha. (Yes.)

Good advice at a marathon on St. Patrick's Day.

They spelt "chasing" wrong. Oh wait...

Favorite race motivation sign ever partially due to the sign holder. This was at the top
of Deming Heights Hill, the highest point in Minneapolis, during the "Red, White,
and Boom! Half Marathon" on July 4 this year.

Took while running the 2013 Boston Marathon. Boston fans are the best. This sign is
my all-time favorite. If it had been any later in the race I might have fallen for it…

Made this sign for my husband left (411) for the Harrisburg Half this past weekend. I was supposed
to run too, but broke my toe and was benched by my doctor. The sign got a lot of attention.

Lots more funny stuff on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com!


Friday Funny 788: Food Realizations

Meat raisins are my favorite fruit.

Lots more funny stuff posted all week long on steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com.


Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Race-Pace Miles

>> Thursday, September 11, 2014

I started preaching my love for "race-pace miles" at the start of 2013 after I won the MDRA Grand Prix running series in 2012. I had a big post about the 7 things I learned during my biggest running year ever, and I wanted to take out THEE more important point to re-share again. I've been doing a lot of race-pace miles in the last few weeks and it's been on my mind recently. So here's the most important thing I learned after racing the MDRA Grand Prix series 2 years ago:

Race-pace miles will make you faster AND keep you from becoming injured.
When do you say "this workout will make you faster AND keep you injury-free?" That doesn't happen. Intervals are great for making you faster, but they can take a toll on your body (my sore heel doesn't always like them). Running easier keeps you more injury-free, but that doesn't help your speed. Doing longer runs is great for your endurance, but that might flare up an overuse injury. What I'm trying to say is you NEVER hear "do this to stay healthy AND make you faster" with regards to a run workout! So this tip is magical!!

I started doing race-pace miles with Coach Jen Harrison 2 years ago in my quest for a sub-60 TC 10 Mile. And I really learned a lot about them since then just by doing them so much. This past year, I did 3 half-marathons and a 25K (15.5 miles), and I used workouts with race-pace miles leading up to all of those races (and I use them frequently on my stroller runs with my son). Speaking of my son...

Henry digging for raisins during his first 10K with me!
(We passed most of those people in front of us to finish 4th out of 300+.)

Let's say I want to run 13 miles - I'd maybe break it down like this: warm-up for 3 miles, up the pace for mile 4, and then run 6 miles around race pace (maybe all near a certain pace or maybe all descending a bit [like 6:30, 6:25, 6:15, 6:10, and then whatever I can for the last 2]), and finally I'd cool down for the last 3 miles.

They helped me get faster by teaching my body how to run at a certain pace. It's like I'm saying "Hey body - THIS is what you need to get used to doing. THIS PACE RIGHT HERE. Got it?" But being it's not super fast for the entire run, you'll save some stress on your body. And I've been more prone to "overdoing it" as I put the years on this body of mine...

They helped me stay injury-free because they "mixed-up" my long runs. I'm prone to overuse injuries, so if I just ran a 13 mile training run at 1 pace, I could easily get injured. But by mixing up the tempo, it really helps my body deal with that distance. I've often felt aches start to show up as I'm starting to build my speed, but being I'm only running at that pace for a bit, the aches go away when the speed changes. This might not help everyone, but it's really helped me. Henry and I do this on nearly every run together of 6 miles or more.

Oh, and I should note 2 more things with regards to "race-pace miles." First, it's EASIER to run LONGER doing this. How awesome is that! Look at my example above of "3 mile WU, build for a mile, 6 miles faster, CD for 3 miles." That doesn't sound too bad; you're only just thinking about the next few miles in the workout. But once you do that, you've covered 13 (potentially boring) miles! Second, this only works well (for me) for longer races, like 10 miles or up. Maybe even 10Ks too. Race-pace miles wouldn't have quite the same benefit for me if I tried doing a 6 mile run with the middle 2 at 5K pace. Use these in your longer-distance race training.

I felt the need to add an "amendment" to this entry the day after posting it. With regards to "race-pace miles," I don't run them "all out." I run them like I'm running the middle of a race. So if I'm doing 6 miles at race-pace, I'm not sprinting to the finish - THAT would get me injured. I save that sort of speed for tempo runs or shorter intervals. Instead, I'm "keeping it strong" throughout as if I were maybe running miles 3-8 of a half marathon. I finish the race-pace miles feeling well worked, but not dead.

This point was the longest one that I wrote about in my "things I learned" post, so check it out for my other tips. I think there's some good stuff in that post.

p.s. I did some race pace miles in a long run a few days ago:

I hope my upcoming TC 10 Mile race pace is somewhere in that 6:20 range! We'll see in a few weeks...


Training Updates

>> Tuesday, September 09, 2014

I needed my rest week last week! My ankle is still s-l-o-w-l-y healing up, but my sacrum/hip was starting to get achy again as I ramped up my mileage. So after 4 weeks of building, last week was an easy week with easy runs and lots of my old PT leg exercises - my legs were actually tired most of the week from doing my exercises, but they got a nice break from the pounding of running.

Now it's time to build for another 3 weeks before 1 final easy week and then the "Loony Challenge" (TC 10K and 5K on the morning of Oct 4, and the great TC 10 Mile the next morning).

On Saturday, I headed out for some 1-mile repeats to kick off another week of building miles. I did the same "street route" that I did about 2 weeks ago, but I forgot to look up my previous times before the workout. I THOUGHT I ran 5:52s last time, but I really ran 5:48s (I thought it was 2 seconds slower than 5:50, but it turns out it was 2 seconds faster). So I was pretty happy with my first 5:49 interval, thinking it was faster than 2 weeks before. I ran 5:49, 5:46, and 5:52, averaging 5:49. So they were 1 second slower than 2 weeks earlier, but I felt a LOT better, so that's worth something. Right?

Yesterday, I wanted to do a 10+ mile run. I looked back to my time training with Coach Jen in 2010 leading up to my 59:05 TC 10 Mile, and I found a 10 mile run that I decided to "copy." But I knew this would be slower. Duh. The workout was a 2 mile WU, then 5 miles descending to ALL OUT pace, then a 3+ mile CD. I felt good throughout, and I descended my middle 5 miles in 6:36, 6:19, 6:16, 6:20, and 6:00 (31:31 for those hard 5 miles). Again, I forgot to look at my times with Jen from 2010, but when I did, I saw that my final 2 miles were 5:52 and 5:47 for a 29:32 total over those hard 5 miles. So I was 2 minutes slower. Dang.

If I ran 2 minutes slower over these 5 miles this year, I'm not sure if it's correct to say I'd expect to be about 4 minutes slower over the TC 10 Mile. (1:03:05 vs 59:05.) But that doesn't take into account having tired legs from the 10K and 5K the day before. So here's my first TC 10 predictions: A great day would be sub-1:04, and a pretty good day would be sub-1:05. I just better finish sub-1:10. In my 5 previous 10 mile races, I (chronologically) ran 1:02:42, 1:02:19, 1:02:43, 59:05, and 1:01:20. Three of those (the first and then the last 2) were TC 10 Milers.

Three final thoughts:

• Looking back on my training with Coach Jen from 4 years ago, I saw that I didn't run nearly as much as I thought I did. Training for my 59:05 TC 10 Mile, I only did two 10 mile runs and one 11 miler as my 3 longest runs. My first thought when I realized that was "maybe I won't build to 12+ miles in 2 weeks." But then I realized with a 10K and 5K that race weekend as well, some more miles would probably be OK. But if I feel achy/crappy during my final "build" week, I won't feel bad rolling back my 12+ miler by a mile or 2.

• I'm the fattest I've ever been. More weight = extra slow. But more muscle = less possibility of getting injured over 3 races that weekend. In 2010, I was floating around 151-153. The next year, I was lighter (150-151). Right now, I'm always around 160-163. Dang.

• I think I felt so great during these last 2 hard runs because I was well rested from last week. Note to self: don't overdo it leading up to the TC 10. I'll really lay off the PT leg exercises leading up to the race to feel extra fresh. If anything, I want to err on the side of TOO rested.

On an unrelated note, Henry started preschool today. Here are 2 photos from my Instagram page:

"First day of pre-school. Not to sound cliché, but where does the time go?!?"

"I left Charlie in Henry's basket at pre-school. I'll pick him up on Thurs."

When Pharmie picked him up, she saw other kids running out into their parent's arms. Henry just sauntered out and gave a wave. What a goof.


Ironman Wisconsin Proposal

>> Monday, September 08, 2014

Yesterday was Ironman Wisconsin, and a lot of Minnesota athletes KILLED it out there. Congrats everyone! I have to share 2 photos that BFF Devon posted on Facebook yesterday, along with his captions:

"This guy proposed on the helix at Ironman Wisconsin right after the swim
and before the bike. You know, like normal people do."

"The guy who proposed on the helix knew the classy thing to do is racing in a tux.
Plus riding a QR is always a classy choice."

Awesome. I tried to look up his results, but I can't quite make out his number.

In related "found-on-Facebook Ironman Wisconsin news," my race buddy Pattie posted this as she was cheering out on the bike course:

"And then this happened..."

And in totally UNRELATED "found-on-Facebook news," why have I NEVER thought about cleaning dirty mountain bikes like Tom and April do? This is genius:



Follow steveinaspeedo on Twitter

Facebook Fan Page

All content and original images copyright 2006 - 2014 by Steve Stenzel, AKA "Steve in a Speedo." All Rights Reserved.
Want to use something seen here? Just ask - I don't bite.