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5ksandcabernets: October 2008


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

Noah and I carving a pumpkin.

Noah grinning about the finished product...first pumpkin on the left.

Monday, October 27, 2008

After a 50-mile week? Well needed R&R

On Saturday, I ran 20 miles in about 2:54. It topped off a week in which I ran 50 miles, my first 50 mile week in over a year. My legs felt dead, really, during the whole run. Also, I had to use the bathroom the first 11 miles and finally found a berm to go behind. Hard to run fast when you wanna do the tee-tee dance while you are running. I usually try to hit sub 8s during my last four miles of a run that long, but I could only manage 8:10s _ though the last mile was in 7:55.

So, I decided to take Sunday AND Monday off from running. This is the first time I've taken off two consecutive days of running in a while. Now, to be honest, I had every intention of running a 4-mile recovery run when I went to see Noah in Austin, but he was sick for most of the weekend and on Sunday morning, we took him to the clinic. (He's got a little asthma ad a realllllllll bad cold. Of course, he didn't know he was sick. He was running all over the place getting snot everywhere).

Anyway, two days off in a row. And as you can see in my right sidebar, the Marathon is coming up soon. I've got four more weeks of hard training and that includes two more 20-mile runs, and a half marathon race this coming Sunday. It is the DRC (Dallas Racing Club) Half Marathon at White Rock Lake. I ran this last year in 1:52:22. I'll try to run it this year in 1:43 or better.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

It's official: I've signed up for my annual marathon

I had to go in for one of the editors tonight, so during some down time, I forked over 90 plus bucks to enter the 2008 White Rock Lake Marathon in Dallas. Its on Dec. 14.

While I was on the site, I looked at my two previous results. I mean, I already know what my times were, but it was shocking to see them on the screen...



I guess these times are why I'm running White Rock a third time. It's like I've said to others, White Rock is like an old girlfriend....She dumped me in 2005 and again in 2007. Now, I wanna show her that I'm better looking (trained better) and I've got more money (faster), so wait till she lays her eyes on me in December.

After I go sub 4 on her, I'm dumping her.


Running out of gas....

.......I've always said I like running with other people. Listening to them banter, crack jokes, and talk about their daily lives takes my mind off of how uncomfortable I may be feeling, or how much longer I have to go.

The other day during a group run, me and a guy new to the group were feeling pretty fast so we kind of left the rest of the gang back. I don't like to talk much while running, but this guy was new and he wanted to talk so I thought I'd be a good sport. We talked about running, family stuff, jobs (he is a preacher).

Every once in a while, while we were talking, I'd hear this weird sound. Like he was passing gas. I wasn't sure until a few blocks later and he let out a real loud one. I thought about saying something (and I wasn't quite sure what I'd say). Instead, I just tried talking over his wind release, hoping he'd stop. And soon, he did.

It got me wondering: What is etiquette when you are running with others? Shouldn't you drop back from the pack (or speed up) when you have to "let one go." Should you hold it. (I don't advise that.) When you run alone, you do what you want with no fear of embarrassment. But with others, shouldn't you do something other than gas your friends?

Just asking.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Joe the plumber? How about Noah the tractor driver

Nancy took Noah to a pumpkin patch in Austin the other day and he stopped to take a ride on the tractor.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How I'm getting faster: Using the right initials

Lots of people who've read this blog and saw my times from 2007 have asked how I'm getting so fast. I ususally answer modestly that I've just been feeling good. I answered that way because, 1) modesty is a good thing, and 2) I really didn't know....didn't know how running a 10-minute mile in 2007 is like running an 8-minute mile now.....didn't know how I could shave 1 minute off my 5K time in a span of 11 months.....didn't know why I am on pace to shave 100 minutes off my 2007 marathon time.

But I'm starting to figure things out.

Today, I'll talk about one of the reasons: VO2Max vs. HRmax.


Really geeky runners like me know those initials stand for maxium speed (VO2Max) and maximum heart rate (HRmax).

Now, here is what that has to do with my fast times: I read a lot about running when I began in 2004, and on forums like RunnersWorld, lots of people wrote about running according to the percentage of your maximum heart rate, i.e., mitochondria running, slow running, etc. The premise was that if you ran slow enough, you would activate all these kinds of systems in your leg muscles that would carry you on Marathon Day. On the Cool Running forum, there are dozens of pages about this kind of training, the technical word of it called Maffetone low heart rate training. The key was to keep your heart rate under 80 percent of max. This was supposed to help you burn fat for fuel and preserve those precious carbs you'll need at the end of your marathon.

And so off I went. I bought a heart rate monitor (In the days before I wore Garmin, I wore Polar and Nike heart rate monitors) and hit the roads. I knew my max heart rate max was 201 because that's the number I'd seen pop up at the end of two 5Ks I'd run. That meant I had to keep my heart rate under 160 on the majority, if not all of my runs. Now, anybody who has run in Texas summers knows how hard it is to keep your heart rate down in the heat. One day in Sept. 2004, it took me 1 hour, 27 minutes to run 6 miles because I was trying to keep my heart rate around 75 percent of my max heart rate (HRmax). Folks, that is a pace of 14 minutes, 30 seconds a mile.

As I got stronger I became a little more efficient at the low heart rate run. By Jan. 2007, I did a 9 mile run averaging a pace of right at 9-minute mile all the while keeping my heart rate under 80 percent max.

By then, however, I had already peaked out on low heart rate training. Instead of mixing some tempo and interval runs into my training, I kept plodding along, watching the heart rate monitor as I ran, slowing down to keep my heart rate low, rarely testing my cardiovascular systems. In all of 2007, I had three runs _ I REPEAT _ three runs where the average pace was faster than an 8-minute mile, and just 11 runs all year where the pace was faster than 8:30.

Let me say that again: 3 runs the whole year were faster than an 8:00 pace, 11 faster than 8:30. Each of the three rsub 8-minute mile pace runs was a race. I ran a slow White Rock Lake Marathon time (5 plus hours) because all year long I practiced running slow. (Ok, that's just one of the reasons it took me so long to run 26.2. I'll write about the other ones as I get closer to marathon day 2008).

At the beginning of this year, with a waistline that was widening and race times that were getting worse, I decided to just run according to how I felt, not worry about heart rate. I decided I'd use the Tuesday morning group runs from Lukes Locker to push my cardiovascular systems, i.e., blow my lungs out. I didn't know or realize then, but those were what the Sports Scientists call tempo or threshold runs. What are those? Its when you run at a certain percent of your maximum speed, VO2max, for 20 to 40 minutes. The pace is usually around your 10k pace or slower - it's the pace you can maintain for an hour or so.

(Quck aside: The higher percentage of your VO2max you can maintain, the more efficient you become running at all speeds. your VO2max is typically your 5k pace in minutes per mile. There is no way normal people could run their 5K pace on every run, but if you could run at 90 percent of your VO2max on a run once a week, or even 70 to 80 percent of your VO2max two or three times a week, you'd see great improvement.)

What did that mean for me? On Jan. 1, 2008, I ran a 5K in 22:01, a pace of about 7:06 a mile. Running this fast gave me the confidence that I could at least run twice the distance if I added a minute or so to my pace. So on those Tuesday Lukes Locker run, I didn't worry about heart rate, I just tried to run my best without racing and those first few runs I was able to average 8:20 miles over a six mile course. I was huffing and pufing near the end, but thank goodness I didn't slow down when my heart rate got to 80 percent max, or on each of those runs I would have slowed wayyyyy down 1 mile into the run.

I didn't realize it at the time, but those Tuesday runs were making me strong, and giving me endurance. Scientifically speaking, I was doing those runs at about 85 percent VO2max. The more I did them, the easier they became. By April, I could run six miles in a pace that was faster than 8 minutes a mile without racing. In May, I added Thursday hill runs into the mix keeping a good pace, not caring what the heart rate monitor said.

Each week, things kept getting easier and easier. Long runs, running in the heat, races, recovery runs. Today (Oct. 21) I ran a 7-mile tempo run with the last 6 miles in a pace of 7:11 (Hey, I need to take those numbers to Vegas!). The last 5k of the run was in 22:09 ----- Remember, 10 months earlier it took all of Heaven and Earth and a lot of lung power for me to run a 5K in about the same time.

To be sure, I don't run "fast" every day. I take it easy on long runs, and I sandwhich long run days with recovery runs or rest altogether.

Sometimes I sneak a peak at the heart rate monitor during one of these easy runs. On Oct. 1, I ran an "easy" 9-miler. I finished in 1:12:18. That pace is just a shade over 8 minutes a mile. My average heart rate for the run: 77 percent of max.

(On a Jan. 8 run, I ran 7 miles in pretty much the same pace, 8:04, and my heart worked sooo much harder: 87 percent of max)

The moral of this long (and boring) story: Running fast not only helps you race fast, it also makes your easy days easier.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Valley Ranch Pumpkin Dash: A 5K PR

I set a 5K PR at the Valley Ranch Pumpkin Dash this morning in Irving, winning first place in my age group, runner-up Masters Champion, and 9th place overall. The event ended with me nearly getting into an argument with the race directors for a trophy.

My time for the course was 21:01, a pace of 6 minutes, 44 seconds per mile. It's a PR by 8 seconds from a run I had in 2006, and a full 39 seconds from my last 5K, a 21:40 in May. (So, I get to change the sidebar on this blog.)

I'm not surprised that I ran a PR, though I have to admit I thought I'd be 30 seconds faster or more....And maybe I was. My Garmin 305 measured the course as 3.16 miles and had me at the 5k mark in 20:44. ... The discrepancy between my Garmin and the actual mile markers threw me off a bit because as I glanced at my watch at each split, I thought I'd be under 21 minutes easily, but I didn't account for the .06 miles at the end, which is about the length of a football field.

Mile splits (according to my Garmin)

1. 6:46 (Couldnt feel my legs at the beginning. Felt like I was shot out of a cannon I was so excited. Slowed down the middle two quarters to catch my breath. Maybe slowed too much).
2. 6:37 (Settled into a good pace and started passing people)
3. 6:35 (Was just hanging on)
3.16: 1:03 (Waited too late to sprint to get under 21 minutes)

I know I can run faster. I've run every day this week since Monday, and proceeding 7 days before the 5K I had logged 52 miles, including a 20-miler last Saturday. With even 1 day of rest this week, my legs would be fresher.

The real excitement of the day came after the race. About 5 minutes after finishing, the race officials began posting the results. Even though I was disappointed with my time, I was very proud of my place. I've never won my age group in any race. A guy standing nearby said that they'd start handing out medals and recognizing the winners at 10 am. It was 8:45. I was supposed to run 12 miles today as part of my marathon training, so I figured I had enough time to get in a 7 mile run before getting my medal. And so I took off around the Valley Ranch neighborhood, which is where I owned a house for five years during my first (and only - thank God) marriage. It was weird running sub 8:30 miles by the same houses that I was running 10 minute miles 3 years ago.

The finish of my run took me back to near the end of the 5K. As I slowed down, I could hear a voice over the loudspeakers they had set up: "...And in the 70 to 75-year-olds...." Dang, I thought, they started early and have already called out my name and I was out running.

I went to one of the race officials and said, "I'm Kevin Lyons. I finished first among 40-year-olds. Can I get my medal/"

Race official, looking at a piece of paper with the results: "Hmmm, let me see. I don't see your name. What did you say your time was?"

Me: "21:01. I was 2 minutes faster than those guys you have on your list."

Race official: "Well, I'm sorry sir. This is the list we have and we've already given the 40-year-old first place plaque away."

Me: "What? That's impossible. I won that age group. My name was on the list when you guys posted the scores right after the race."

Race official: "Sir, calm down."

Me: "I'm sorry ma'am, its just that this is the first time I've ever won anything."

Race official: "Well, sir. I'm sorry, your name is not on that list And that list we put up is not official. Are you sure you turned in your race chip."

Me: "Yeah, I'm sure. My name was on the initial list."

We go back and forth and I finally ask her to direct me to the race director. She points her out and I take off to the parking lot to track her down. Rachel, the race director, turned out to be a nice lady. She listens to my sad story, takes my information down, phone number, email, bib number. Then I give her my time and my age.

Rachel: "21:01? And you are 40. Wait a minute. You were one of the overall winners, you may have been one of the top masters runners. You were on a different list."

I'd heard about "masters runners" and knew that when you got old, they entered your time and your age into this formula and came up with this new time and the "old person" with the fastest time was the Masters Champion. Every race does this because they realize that "old people" will never be as fast as "young people." Well, it turns out, an "old runner" is 40 and over.

40 AND OVER? That's me, having turned 40 in August.

So, not only did I win my age group, (The 21:01 was the time I actually ran, before it was plugged into the Masters Runners formula), but I also was runner-up Masters Champion. A 48-year-old man was the Male Masters Champion having run the 5k in 19:44.5 (Again, his real time). Had we both run the same time, the 48 year old would have still been declared the masters champion because he is older.

Anyway, back to the story. They didn't list my name among the 40-year-olds. They listed me under Masters Runners. So when the first lady was looking for my name, she was looking in my age group. Good thing Rachel, the race director, showed up and knew to look for my name under Masters Champion. Turns out, I wouldn't have got a plaque anyway. They had the wrong thing inscribed on them. So I'll get something in the mail pretty soon.

All, in all, a good day.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Random ramblings: Daddy, bloody chins, and my link to ACORN

*It must have been about 7:30 a.m. Sunday. I was just waking up. Noah had been asleep in a different room. Then I heard some stirring. Then, all of a sudden, I heard, "Dad-da." I thought I was dreaming and then I heard it again, "Dad-da." Boy, did I feel proud. This picture was taken Sunday evening. Isn't he getting big?

*Scary moment during the Tuesday morning Lukes Locker group run. I'm at about mile 5.5 of a 7-mile tempo run. It's still dark outside and I see a runner up ahead, Leah. Then, I didn't see her. Then, a few seconds later, she's on the ground, having tripped on the edges of the pavement, and landed chin first. When I got to her, blood was gushing out of her chin. Here were my thoughts in about a split-millisecond, "Thank God, I get to stop I was tired....Ohhhh, shit what do I do.....Stay calm." I took my sweaty shirt off and tried to stop the bleeding from her chin. Luckily, a neighbor had been out getting his newspaper. He came over, asked what happened, then ran back inside to get towels and ice. Leah told me to run back to Lukes and get help. I ran the last 1 1/2 miles and told the gang what had happened and some of her good friends drove and picked her up. I have to admit, Leah was a lot more calm than I was.
10/15 update: Leah reports that she is okay. And she hasn't lost her sense of humor. Here is a tidbit of the email she sent out to the running gang Wednesday morning.
"...I wanted to send out a quick note and let everyone know am ok. Just some nasty stitches, a major jaw/headache and a million mosquito bites. After a series of X-rays and CT scans, I can officially be labeled HARD HEADED."

*With ACORN being in the news for voter fraud, it reminds me of my first job. I was 14 and needing some cash for the holidays. ACORN had an ad in the paper needing some "fundraising" help. It wasn't voter registration or anything. It was to fight rising utility bills. My job was to stand on the street median with a bucket in my hand and walk up to people in their cars waiting for the light to change and my speech was, "I'm with ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and we're trying to help lower utility bills. Would you like to help?" Now, this was Nov. and Dec. 1982. So picture this: a skinny black kid in the middle of the street in a well-to-do neighborhood near North Park Mall in North Dallas.
It was the first time I'd seen people lock their doors as I walked towards them.
But enough people rolled down their windows to give me their lose change, some putting it in my bucket before I could even get the words out. (Looking back, maybe they thought they were giving ME the money). They let me keep 30 percent of what I collected and on one Saturday, they let me keep 45 percent because it was close to Christmas. I still remember them counting out $54 for me at the end of the day. "I'm rich, I'm rich," I thought as I caught the city bus home that evening. I lasted about 5 or 6 Saturdays before I finally got tired of working in the cold.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Best 20-mile run ever

The scheduled today called for 20 miles....

Didn't start off so good after taking a Raspberry gu...spent the first 7 or 8 miles trying not to get sick...but I got my stride late in the run....and finished strong.

Final time, which included stops for water: 20.25 miles in 2:53:25. That's an 8:33 pace. During the training for my previous two marathons, I never ran a 20-miler faster than 9:45.

On Saturday, I did the last 4 miles in 31:34 - a 7:53 pace
Mile 17 - 7:34;
Mile 18 - 7:44;
Mile 19 - 8:42 water stop
Mile 20 - 7:33

I took two Ecaps and the aforementioned gu about 20 minutes before the run....I took two more ecaps every hour and I took a better-tasting chocolate gu at Mile 11. At every water stop, I drank two cups.

Lessons learned? I probably don't need to take a gu before the'd probably be better if I got up a little earlier and ate a real meal..The ecaps worked great. I wasn't sweating so much that my shoes were squishy. ... Also, my pacing was perfect and running with the new group that included Chris, Tamara, Dave, Phyllis, Kimberly and our coach Christa gave me something to think about during the run other than how uncomfortable it was.

Now, I just want to make sure I don't peak too soon. I've already run an 18- and a 20-miler and my marathon is not until Dec. 14. Next weekend, I get to take it "easy" with a 12-miler scheduled for Saturday.

Now, I'm off to Austin. I miss my kiddo.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Writing update

Here's a story I wrote about dogs and euthanasia that's got some people up in arms.
Now, I'm going to rest up for the 20-miler I've got Saturday morning then head to Austin to visit the kiddo.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Signs I'd love to see at a marathon

As part of their weekly, Take it and Run Thursdays, the Runners Lounge is asking about the signs you'd like to see at a race. Here are a few I could think of with some pictures of other signs below.

"Go daddy," - held by my son one day.

"Wooo-hooo - look at those legs on the black guy!"


"You've only got 1 mile to go."

"You are all Kenyans."

"3:20 pacer" - 25 miles into a marathon.

"There's a big ass hill around the bend!"

"This way for your finisher's medal."

"Turn this way to avoid The Wall."

"Your feet are hurting because you are kicking ass." - we've all seen this one, haven't we?



Monday, October 6, 2008

14 months going on....

This is my 200th post and why not "celebrate" this momentous occasion with a picture of my 14-month old son, Noah.
Wonder what he is thinking?
"Dad, where is my bib (number)?"
"My hair is really growing funny."
"My hair is different from yours."
"When will you let me have a sip of that red stuff in your funny shaped glass?"
"I think I've got your nose."

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Marathon countdown: 10 weeks to go

This is the time I start getting a little anxious. My marathon, the White Rock Lake Marathon in Dallas, is in 70 days. Here is what's going on inside my head right now:

*Have I run enough mileage? In the last 30 days, I've run 188 miles. That's about 44 miles a week for the last four weeks. Even though I haven't tapered and even though I've got 10 more weeks to get build up to 50-mile weeks, I go through all kinds of crazy formulas in my head about how fast I could run the marathon if it were next week. One formula I've heard of is that you multiply your average daily mileage by three and the number you come up with is the distance you could safely race your hardest.
The formula implies that to race, RACE, a marathon, you'd have to average 9 miles a day (9x3=27)
So, in my last month, I've run 6.28 miles a day on average. Multiplied by 3, that is a race of 18.83 miles. So what does that mean? Should I run slow for the first 8 miles of the marathon, then try running marathon pace the last 18 miles?

I've also read that to figure out your marathon time, you should multiply your 10k time by a ratio that depends on how many miles a week you run. The ratio, which I am lifting from Jim2s running page, goes like this...

30-35mpw: 5.5

40mpw: 5.0-5.3

55 mpw: 4.9

60 mpw: 4.75-4.85

70 mpw: 4.70-4.80

80-100 mpw: 4.55-4.65

What this means: If you average 40 miles a week in the 16 weeks before you taper, you multiply your 10k time (in minutes) by 5.0. If you are running 60 miles a week in the weeks before you taper, you multiply your 10k time by 4.75.

The premise that your marathon time is based on your natural speed and the volume of your training. If you are running 30 miles a week and you your 10k is 50 minutes, this formula says you'd run a marathon in 4:35.

Me? I'll need to run a 10k soon to test my fitness, but I think I could run one in 45 minutes. Multiplying 45 minutes by 5 (ratio for running 45 miles a week) would put my marathon time at 3:45, or a pace of 8:35 a mile.

Having run a 7:50 minute/mile pace during a 20k two weeks ago, I definitely think I can hold 8:35 for 26.2 miles.

And still, I fret...

I ask questions of other runners about how many weekly miles they run compared to their best marathon times, and those answers don't give me any more insight into what I might do. I know several runners faster than me who've yet to hit 50 miles in training. And so, what this reminds me of is the fact that marathon training is. ...


I can read all the marathon blogs I want or ask people all kinds of questions and when I toe the line on Dec. 14, none of that will matter. It'll be about my training. My tapering. My body.

And still that won't stop me from fretting.

My week: Going to run 46 miles (I ran 42 miles last week, 44 the week before). It'll break down like this:

Today: 5 mile recovery run (did it in 9:22 pace)
Monday: off
Tuesday: 7 miles (1.5 mile warm up, 4 in 7:30 as a tempo run, 1.5 mile cool down)
Wednesday: 8 miles with 4x.20 mile hill repeats in the middle
Thursday: 6 miles easy
Friday: off
Saturday: 20 miles (did 18.25 two weeks ago)

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I must be living right

There was time left on the meter when I parked downtown....

I ordered a meatball sub on wheat, no cheese at PotBelly's. They were out of meatballs. I ordered an Awreck and they gave it to me for free.....

I tried a new bottle of wine, a Zinfandel called Wingnut. Yummmy.