Jul 31, 2006

6 miles

I ran 6 miles on Friday before heading up to Vermont.
It was quite tiring.. surprisingly so. Not sure why.. humidity was high, but I got out early enough so that at the end of the run, the temps were in the low 80ºs.. I had a pretty tough hill workout on Thursday, but it was only 3 miles and the pace was slow.. I also had ice cream the night before..

maybe it was just a combo of all three.

I sure am learning a lot about my body with this training.

Two laps around Rockland Lake.. 75 minutes - 12.5 minute pace. Wow - I'm improving!

On Saturday, I hiked up Mount Mansfield, Vermont- for State Highpoint #23. But that's going to get its own post.


Jul 27, 2006

3 miles yesterday, 3 miles this morning

Yesterday I ran 3 miles. I found myself in Westhampton beach attending to my wife's mother's broken arm, and I decided to go out for a run while I was there. From the house to Dune road is about a mile and a half, so my run to the beach and back was a perfect 3 miles.

I hate Long Island. It was a nice flat run, but the drivers there are assholes. When running on the roads here, I don't have drivers screaming at me to run on the sidewalk (for the record, large runners especially should need to run on low-impact surfaces as much as possible, and asphalt happens to be significantly softer than concrete. If I were to run on sidewalks, I'd have knee problems within a month. So I run on the street, and give a friendly bird to the assholes who tell me to get off the road.

Today I ran 3 miles and walked a mile. My run was at a new place for me - Nyack Beach State Park, which is just over the hill from my normal running spot, Rockland Lake SP. It's a cool place to run - 300-ft cliffs on one side of you, the hudson river on the other side. There is nothing between you and the river.. great views of the tappan zee br to the south.

The problem with this run is that it goes steeply uphill after 1 1/4 miles to join with a road at Rockland Lake. There is probably a good 300 feet of gain in a half-mile. I ran up it as far as I could, but turned around before getting to the top (because I didn't know how far it was to the top). Turns out that I was less than a football field away from the top - I just couldn't see it because it was around the bend.

The run uphill was so strenuous that I walked all the way down and maybe half of the flat portion back to the car. It was about 4 miles total that I travelled.. but since I ran 3, that's what I'm giving myself credit for.

one of these days, for a long run, I'm going to go up this hill, then go around rockland lake, then back over the hill and to my car. That's going to be a hell of a workout.


Jul 24, 2006

7 miles - a mental workout

So, like I said in my previous post, because I wasn't able to run all week, I had to try to pack 15 miles into the weekend. The 8 miles on saturday was reasonably tough but easier than I thought it would be. The 7 miles on Sunday, with just a day to recover, was a lot harder than I thought it would be. The first 3 or 4 miles were ok, but the last 3 miles were about as hard as any three miles I've ever run. I was able to do it without walking, but for that period of time every joint in my body was asking me to stop, saying, "Just think how good it's going to feel to walk a few hundred yards.." I didn't give in and pushed through.

Apparently, this is what Bob Glover was talking about when he said long runs teach you to be patient.

Took me 93 minutes.. it was one lap of rockland lake with my 4 mile variation, and one normal lap clockwise.

Jul 22, 2006

8 miles

My longest run ever today - and it was pretty much an accident.
In order to meet my goal of 15 miles every week, I had to tun 15 miles this weekend, and I spent the last 5 days slacking off. (ie. working and I didn't have time to run.) So I came up with a rather ambitious plan to run 8 miles on saturday and 7 miles on sunday, which is rather stupid, but rather smart, too. If I'm going to train for endurance, might as well run the long endurance runs, right?

So I ran eight miles today, which is the longest distance I've ever run. (The half-marathon I ran in 1991 was a lot of walking after 6 miles.) I ran it in 1 hr, 48 minutes, which is the longest time I've ever run. Taking coach Glover's advice, I ran it very slow - distance is much more important in these runs than time. Also, it was purely aerobic - at no point did I ever go into an anaerobic state - and when I got home, all I wanted to do was take a nap. It was really good for me - a good confidence booster. "I can run 8 miles without stopping." Maybe next week, I'll try nine, but then again, maybe not. (:

I got rained on.. I had to pull out my emergency ipod waterproofing system, also known as a zip-loc bag. stick it in, roll it up, and hold it in my hand while running. Hey guess what - it worked!

Course was a "yo-yo" (run it in one direction, then go back the way I came) of my 4 mile variation of the rockland lake loop.

Jul 17, 2006

Teterboro 5K race results are in

Ok, here's how I did:

Time: 35:58
Pace: 11:35

I would have liked to have beaten 30 minutes or at least have had a 10 minute pace, but I'm still a bit out of shape for that. Maybe in another month.

Overall place: #600 out of #678
Among Men: #413 out of 451
Among males 30-34: #43 out of 47


3 miles

Needed another three miles on Sunday to reach my goal of 15, so before a quick drive to Stamford to pick up a friend, I stopped at Rockland Lake for a lap. At 10:40am when I started, it was pretty hot, so it wore me down. I really wanted to quit but I pushed through and finished in about 34 minutes. I've certainly run better, but I've also run a lot worse. Good to get the 15 miles in.. I've now run 50 miles since I've started logging them a month ago.

Jul 16, 2006

Books I've read in the last month or so

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Plus I've been reading sections of to these two a lot (they're reference then pleasure reading):


Cool 5K today:

It actually was on the runway of Teterboro airport - they shut the airport down for a half-hour to run the 5K.
I didn't do very well.. the heat was pretty bad and I had no enegy. But I managed to run the whole thing and had a good kick at the end..

Jul 14, 2006

6 miles

Yesterday I went on a 6-mile run. It was great.

An hour before the run, I had a bowl of macaroni that was pretty good sized by most people's standards. I ate it for energy, but it probably was more than I needed. I felt weighed down for the first couple of miles - but when that passed, I was ok. After the first 3-mile lap I wasn't even breathing hard - but that's ok for the long runs. I created a new playlist on my ipod for these long runs.. and at about 3 3/4 miles Master of Puppets came on.. which caused me to pick up my pace significantly. Then Toxicity. Then it was something else heavy metal. I remembered back to, when creating the playlist, thinking I would need some serious hard-core stuff this far into the workout. By mile 5 I was going at a good clip.. and I ended up finishing the run with a pretty good kick totally exhausted but feeling great.

The humidity had really dried up since the morning and it wasn't too hot either.. great run.

Tomorrow is the Teterboro Airport 5-K, where they shut down the airport for 30 minutes while a thousand runners cover the main runway. How cool is that?

In other news, they're making Rocky 6.
On the bright side, it couldn't be worse than Rocky 5..

Jul 11, 2006

3 miles

I went over to Rockland Lake this afternoon expecting to run 6 miles. I started out and ran the first 1/2 mile at the 6 mile pace. But clouds were looming, and when I could hear thunder even though my headphones were on high, I knew I better kick it into high gear. Now it's not the rain that bothers me when I'm running - I run with a zip-loc back in my pocked in case I need to keep the ipod dry. It's electrical storms that bother me. I don't react well when struck by lighting, and it doesn't help that my running path has tree cover much of the way. So I made the executive decision at that point to run 3 hard miles instead of 6 easy miles, though to me 6 easy is harder than 3 hard. Anyway, I finished in 33, and it looks like I still won't be able to reach the the long-term 3 miles in 30 minute goal at the 5k I have coming up on Saturday (which is actually 3.1 miles). Still, it was good training and at the 5K I will try to maintain the 10 minute per mile pace. We'll see. Temperature was hot and humid, but the breeze blown in by the storm cooled it considerably. Energy was good, in part because I ate plenty of calories before the run in the form of spaghetti squash, corn, and a morning nutrition shake.

By the way, the rain started about one minute after I finished.


Jul 10, 2006

6 Miles

...It wasn't enough.

I ran out of energy at about mile 4 and trudged through the last 2 miles at a much slower pace than the first 4. At no point did I stop jogging.

It was good for me though. I learned something about how important it is to consume enough calories if I'm going to get this 330-lb frame to run 15 miles per week. I did reach that goal, by the way- 16 1/2 miles last week with a day to spare (the week starts on monday.) I also taught myself a lesson in the mental aspects of running - that even though the rest of your body is screaming at you with all its might to stop running, your mind is ultimately in control of what you do. It's what enables people to complete things like the Badwater and Barkley Ultramarathons.

So, continue with the 15 mile-per-week schedule for a month, but consume a few more calories.

Sounds like a plan.


Jul 8, 2006

3 miles in the park; trinity is now 8-0

We had another softball game yesterday, against a very good team that just punished us last year, and we won 13-7.


The game was in Central Park on the Great Lawn. It was cool to play on one of those fields in the Park; of the hundreds of pedestrians casually walking by enjoying the park, many would stop and become spectators for a while.

Prior to the game, I took the opportunity of being in central park and did an easy 3-mile jog. Started at 7th ave and CPS, ran up the east side on park drive, to the reservoir, around it, and to the ballfields. Good run for three miles, but I hadn't eaten nearly enough that day (skipped breakfast & light lunch = really busy at work) and was completely bonked by gametime. I played my worst game of the season - I got on base twice out of three at-bats, but probably shouldn't have thanks to defensive errors. I also couldn't seem to catch anything but trivially easy throws - forget it if I had a bad hop.

After the game, someone was walking around selling gatorade - so I picked one up. It helped - I felt like I was going to faint. After the game, I had about an hour's worth of work to do at the office, where I drank a half-gallon of water - and when I got home, I ate some blueberries and a yogurt. For breakfast today it was two boiled eggs and a banana. Hopefully this will be enough for the 6 mile run I'm about to do.

Jul 6, 2006

3.6 miles

Yesterday I got home from work an hour before I had to so that I could run a route that I mapped before picking up Joey. The route went from where I live (near the suffern train station) into New Jersey, around the Mahwah Train station, then back the other side of the tracks into New York and right to Joey's school where I picked him up.

It is a pretty hilly 3.6 miles or so. Didn't have the music with me (alex had the ipod) so that made it extra tough.. and I'm not very experienced running hills anyway. The run took 44 minutes.. not very hot, but quite humid. All in all, a good workout. Taking a rest day today, then a light run tomorrow, and another 6 miler on Saturday. Already at 7.5 miles, it looks like I'll run at least 15 miles this week - which would be good because that's my goal. (:

Can't wait for dry weather to return.


Jul 4, 2006

4 miles

Ran a 4-miler today. One of those where I felt great at the end of the run, not so great during the run. It was brutally hot out.. actually, it wasn't the heat, it was the humidity. Felt like Florida. Really rough. Plus, being that it is July 4th, the park was filled with people, and I had a lot of dodging to do - almost mowed over a little girl who walked right into my path.

My normal running path is the inner loop around Rockland Lake - a 3 mile flat paved path - click on the link to see a map of it. On Sunday, I ran 6 miles - two laps of this route. Thanks to the linked USATF.org site, however, I was able to map this 4 mile variation of the 3 mile route - Yay! I am no longer forced to run in multiples of 3 miles!

Took me about 46 minutes to finish - 11 1/2 minute miles.. maybe 30 seconds slower than a pace I'm capable of for three miles, but a minute and a half faster than what I ran the 6 miler on in Saturday. Once again, a goal of mine, which I didn't reach last year, is to run the 3-mile loop in under 30 minutes.

Jul 3, 2006

The South Beach Diet

South Beach DietYesterday my wife came home from the church in North Jersey (we actually go to two churches, one in the city and this one) with a copy of the South Beach Diet. She was amazed at the weight loss she was seeing in the pastor's wife (who apparently had gone from a size 14 to a 4) and was encouraged to try it. She brought me the book and asked if I could read it and give her my opinion. The nice thing about these diet books is that they can normally be read in an hour, especially if you skip or skim the recipe portions.

People who haven't known me for years might ask, "What makes you so qualified to give an opinion on diet books?" That's a valid question. I'm not a medical doctor or nutritionist, or even a physical trainer. I am in bad physical shape. I am, however, a pretty good researcher and spent a lot of time, starting in 1999, learning everything I could about healthy lifestyles, exercise, and eating right. I've read scores of books, interviewed many qualified people, subscribed to lots of health magazines, and, of course, there's the ever-reliable internet to give you more than enough opinions than you can ever use in your lifetime. Of course, a lot of it is utter crap, but if you can filter through the junk, you can find lots of amazing gold out there. Incidently - the best site out there? John Hussman's site. My problem isn't knowledge, it's consistent application. Have to work on that.

So to me, it isn't enough if a diet is effective in having people lose weight. If that were the case, everyone would be on Atkins. I don't like Atkins because I can't agree with the high concentrations of saturated fats and near-complete elimination of carbohydrates. Yes, you might lose lots of weight, but so is heroin - and heroin might be healthier in the long run than Atkins.

Body for LifeThe litmus test that I compare any diet to is Bill Phillips' Body for Life. The pictures above from 1999 are a personal example of what Body for Life can do when taken seriously. The problem is that BFL is hard to maintain for a lot of people. Many just don't have the mental toughness to complete some of the workouts he recommends with the intensity that they need to be completed with. So alertnatives must be considered, and compared if they're to be considered safe and effective. That's where South Beach comes in.

Prior to picking up the book, my impression of South Beach, knowing very little about it, was that it's another ultra-low-carb atkins look-a-like, with perhaps a little more discipline about the saturated fats. Glad to report that this is not the case.

It does have a two-week ultra-low carbohydrate phase - which at the very beginning you do to "correct the blood chemistry" to reduce the effects of insulin resistance. This appears to be sound advice and I'm not opposed to a brief & temporary restriction on carbs to kick-start the diet, especially when they're not replaced with blatantly bad-for-you fats. During this phase, Agastson (the author) allows for plenty of vegatables, nuts, dairy, eggs, and low-fat meat products. He cites that the main benefit as far as appearance is that it reduces waistline fat, which would be extremely beneficial from a health standpoint, particularly in men.

After the two week "phase 1", the dieter enters "phase 2", where carbohydrates are gradually added back in. This is where I'll draw the comparison to Body for Life, which has no concept of phases.

My main complaint about South Beach (SBD) with regards to phase 2 is its exclusion of exercise. I consider exercise and a generally active lifestyle to be an absolutely crucial aspect of healthy living, and Agatston's take on exercise is that it's "not required, but it helps." BFL considers exercise as important as nutrition, and so do I.

Like BFL, SBD draws a lot of focus on eating low-glycemic carbohydrates rather than high-glycemic. When you hear about "good carbs" vs. "bad carbs", this is what they're talking about - the glycemic index, or GI, of carbohydrates. A lower-glycemic carb (that is - a carb with a lower GI) takes longer for you to digest, thereby giving you a more steady stream of nutrients, as opposed to a lot of nutrients at once, which can cause a spike in insulin. This is sound advice. Generally speaking, natural foods have a lower GI than processed foods; a piece of fruit is USUALLY better than a piece of wonder bread. Brown rice is better than white rice, which has had its husk removed. Fruits from tropical regions tend have higher GIs than more northern fruits. There are exceptions to this rule, of course - watermelon, for example, is very high-glycemic, more so than mashed potatoes.

SBD seems to be stand-offish about fruit, and I suspect that this is how it gets away without requiring exercise. Those extra calories from fruit can easily kill your caloric deficit if you're not exercising. But to eliminate or even limit fruit spells disaster to me - fresh fruits are a great source of fiber, not to mention all the naturally occurring vitamins in them. And we all know that we should be exercising anyway - even light exercise (30 minutes of CONTINUOUS effort) a few times a week would allow you to eat those fruits while also increasing your cardiovascular endurance, strengthen your muscles, lower your resting heart rate, increase bone density, and all the other things we've heard over an over that exercise does for you.

SBD has no concept of portion size, and instead relies on eating strategies that make you feel full sooner. BFL is very strict about portion sizes, but with rules that are easier to follow.

It seems to me that the underlying strategies are different. BFL's plan is geared towards driving your metabolism has high as possible while eating right, SBD's focuses isn't so much on eating right as it is about employing strategies to effectively lower the GI of foods. Take a fiber supplement prior to eating will slow down digestion, effectively reducing the GI - or if you're going to eat a baked potato, add the sour cream or butter - because the added calories will be offset by the fact that fat slows down digestion just like fiber. (to be fair, he recommends against this, but if you must eat the potato, he wants you to add the fat.) This will reduce cravings, which is important if you're only going to use incidental portion control..

SBD also has three square meals, plus light snacks in between, plus desert. BFL has 6 square half-sized meals. BFL has more consistent nutrient flow that is less likely to cause hunger pangs. And the portion control is there.

So my tweaks to the SBD would be as follows:
Keep phase 1 the way it is (might as well..)
Phase 2:
Introduce simple and easy-to-follow portion control, as indicated in BFL.
Add at least light exercise for 30 continuous minutes several times per week.
Reduce the reliance on nuts - they're very calorie-dense.
Completely eliminate high-glycemic carbs, rather than use strategies to make them lower-glycemic.
If you're willing to exercise harder during the week, add one free day a week where you can eat whatever you'd like.
Plan meals and exercise.


6 miles

Yesterday at Rockland Lake, Alex wanted to walk around the lake with Joey in the stroller.
Since walking around the lake does me very little good, I said, "screw it," and decided that now was as good a time as any to start incorporating the "Long Run" - so instead of running one 3-mile lap, I'll jog 2 laps - 6 miles. (I also needed to get to my current weekly goal of 9 miles.. heh..)

Under most training schedules for runners, people do one long run per week. According to Bob & Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover in the Competive Runner's Handbook, Long runs do the following:

  • Improve the ability of muscles to store glycogen and use fat efficiently as fuel, sparing glycogen.

  • Force the body to search for help from fast-twitch (speed-oriented) muscle fibers, which can be trained to assist slow-twitch fibers for marathon effort.

  • Improve aerobic and muscular endurance.

  • Teach you to run relaxed with efficient form for long periods despite fatigue.

  • Develop patience. The Long run forces you to slow down and pace yourself wisely.

  • Provide a "dress rehearsal" for testing potential race day shoes and clothing, fueling and hydrating, and son un under marathonlike conditions.

  • Provide an effective way to maintain or lose weight.

  • Develop friendships. THere's nothing like sharing conversation-paces long runs for bonding.

  • Above all, the long run is for the mind. It builds psychological endurance and confidence. You finish despite objects of the mind and body.

(page 230)

For most people, a long run is 12-22 miles or so. For a fatso like me, 6 miles is a long run.

The last time I've actually jogged for 6 miles straight (without stopping to walk) was the brooklyn half-marathon on March 10, 2001, where I jogged about the first half of the 13.1 miles (I walked most of the second half - and finished in 1818th place among 1827 men. (:

Glover adds:

Speed isn't as important as getting in the distance, and time on your feet. Running too fast risks injury and leaves you fatigued and sore, interfering with quality workouts for days. Running long and slow trains the body to use fat efficiently as fuel. Running too fast on long runs on the other hand burns glycogen quickly, causing you to "hit the wall."

(page 233)

I ran the 6 miles in 80 minutes. 13 minutes per mile. Very slow, even for me.. The workout was completely aerobic - most of my workouts are more anaerobic because I put in a hard effort (probably harder than I should) for 30-35 minutes. This time I was really careful to run slow the whole length. Interesting how the "pain" that develops over the second lap is completely different from that of the first lap on a normal (faster run). That second mile was really rough, and I'm a lot more sore today than I am even for my hardest 3-mile runs.

So it was good..

Running 6 miles at that pace will never be that hard again.


Jul 1, 2006

3 miles

I just did my normal three mile run about 3 minutes faster than just last week. It's really cool to see improvement.
I ran the first mile at about a 9 minute pace.. then I slowed to 12 minutes, but threw in a couple of intervals (to the music I was listening to). That last interval was an honest 10 on the bill phillips intensity scale. Then I jogged the last half mile. Awesome workout.

Did well on softball last Thursday. 3 for 3 with 4 rbis and a triple. My shoulder kept me from throwing the ball (as catcher I under-handed every ball back to the pitcher), but I was able to to pretty much everything else. There was a little shoulder pain on the swing, but it obviously didn't keep my from swinging well. The field we played on SUCKED ASS! It was directly under the 59th street bridge. Literally. Between 59th and 60th, and 1st and York. No grass anywhere. Rectangle. The right field fence was a good 250 feet or so, center was probably 400 feet, left field was only about 150 feet. The left field fence was so shallow, in fact, that if you hit a fair ball over that fence for about the first 100 feet from the foul ball line, it was an automatic out.

My first at bat was with two outs and the bases loaded. on a 3-0 count, I hit my triple - into deep center field, almost to the fence. in most of the other fields we play at it would have been a home run. The next batter scored me, and the blue said, "That's what you do on a 3-0 count - you knock the hell out of it."
Next was a decentlt-hit ball into right-center. Found a hole, on a 2-0 count this time. That resulted in a RBI too.
My last hit literally hit the bridge overhead (probably 100 feet up). The blue called it a "ground rule single." Strange rules happen on strange fields.

There was some torrential rain + thunderstorm during this game, starting in the third inning. Now the 59th street bridge makes a hell of an umbrella - Most of the field stayed dry. But along the first base line, for about 20 feet in along the entire length, there was no bridge cover - and that portion turned into a 1-inch deep mudpit that wasn't really good for playing ball. It's a wonder the blue didn't call the game sooner. My last at bat (the ground rule single), I tried to run from first base when the next hitter hit a ground ball, but I ended up not moving. I just slipped and fell into the mud. Got a lot of looks on the train-ride home.

Oh yeah, we won. 7-0 now.