Friday, November 12, 2010

Testing the MapMyRun App

I recently switched to MapMyRun as my run-tracking program, since Bones in Motion has pretty much been ruined (in my opinion) by Adidas miCoach. I've used MMR in the past, and I think it's a pretty decent program. I figured that now that I'm back to MMR, I should go ahead and download their iPhone app. I first tried the app last Saturday on my 22-miler on the Creek Turnpike trail. It seemed to be pretty accurate, and aligned with my Garmin very closely.

On Wednesday, I strapped my iPhone on for a 7-mile run through the neighborhoods that surround my house. I had a quick start, and I was feeling good. I was a little surprised, however, to hear the echoing woman's voice telling me that my pace was under 8 minutes in my first mile. I have been keeping my weekday runs around 8 minutes lately, but my first mile is usually my slowest. Anyway, I kept chipping away at the 7 miles, and my pace kept dropping. Every time I heard a faster number, I'd pick it up even more. By the end of the run, she was telling me that I was averaging 7:39. I was so excited that I had broken 7:40. Then, I looked down at my Garmin to see that it was suggesting my recorded average page was actually 7:48. Knowing that the Garmin was likely the more accurate source, I went with it. I was still happy to have averaged under 7:50 for 7 miles, especially when my goal marathon pace is 1:20/mile slower, but I was a little bummed to see the discrepancy.

I ran an easy five this morning, and again, there were notable discrepancies between MMR and my Garmin. This time, the discrepancy affected both pace and distance. I was running on a very familiar path at a very familiar pace, yet MMR showed that I was .2 mile behind and several seconds per mile slower than the Garmin (and my instincts).

I would assume that part of the discrepancy has to do with my surroundings, as the more accurate reading came during a run with very few surrounding houses, trees, buildings, etc. on the Creek Turnpike trail. Wednesday and Friday, I was constantly among trees, houses, overhead wires, and buildings. Nevertheless, I'll still use MMR at the Route 66, but my Garmin has the last word!

On a side note, yesterday I registered for the White Rock marathon in Dallas, which occurs just two weeks after Route 66. Leave a comment if you're also attending White Rock, or if you've run it before and have any insights. Thanks!

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Personal Mock Marathon

Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the Mock Marathon on Saturday, as my 4-year old daughter was scheduled to play her final soccer game during that time. Turns out, she was sick Saturday morning, and she couldn't make it to the game after all. Nevertheless, I had it in mind that I was going to wake up at 5:00 AM, and I was going to get out and run the 22 miles that the Runner's World group would also be running--by myself. My wife and I had determined late Saturday that my daughter's fever was passing, and she seemed to be better by the time she went to bed, so I continued with my plan.

I had been nervous about the run all week--my previous 22-miler was a little rough. So I decided that I would make the conscious effort throughout the course of the run to slow it down. If I could just keep it around 9:09, I would complete 26.2 miles in 4 hours (and 22 miles in even less!).

I started out on Saturday from my driveway. I ran through two neighborhoods and along 91st until I hit an entrance to the Creek Turnpike Trail near Hwy. 169. This was 3.65 miles in. I headed southeast, telling myself that "all" I had to do was hit 11 miles, and then I could come back home. I ended up taking not one but two short "natural breaks." This is unusual for me. Will have to watch the water intake before the Route 66 I guess.

I hit my usual start point at about 6 miles in, and the sun was beginning to hint at rising ahead of me. A few more miles in and I got to experience the whole thing. Really no way to describe it, so I'm not even going to try.

I ended up using the two water fountains on that section of the trail for my first time. There is one a mile beyond the parking lot at 101st and Garnett, and another just before 145th. I was surprised and relieved that both worked. My water bottle was full of Gatorade, but I was trying to ration it as much as possible.

Incidentally, I was trying out the MapMyRun app for the first time on this run. I kind of liked hearing my distance and pace each mile, and it aligned with my Garmin results surprisingly closely.

At 11 miles, just as I approached County Line, I turned around and started running home. I was still feeling good. I had been stepping gently, especially on my PF-prone left foot. My average pace was 8:47. I was a little worried, as this is 20 seconds/mile faster than my intended pace, and I feared running out of steam before the finish.

Miles 11-15 were pretty uneventful, but around mile 16, I began to realize that being out running on a Fall morning as the sun rose was something that simply made me...happy. I had no other way of describing it.

At mile 17, my iPhone surprised me with an especially motivating song. As the climactic ending approached, I turned my iPhone up louder than I probably ever have (I was in a very safe section of the trail, far from cars, roads, or other hazards), and I dropped my pace to about 7:20 for a minute or two. I knew I would regret it later (which I did), but I just hated to miss out on the moment. I mean, where else can a person do that? In what other situation or scenario? I patted my newly-40-year-old body on the back for opening it up like that, and as the song ended, I dropped back down to around 8:45.

Approaching 20 miles in, I left the trail, got on the sidewalk, and headed back to the two neighborhoods I had seen almost 3 hours previous. At this point, my legs were feeling very sore, but my breathing was still good. Generally speaking, considering the circumstances, I still felt fine.

I ran back through the two neighborhoods that had apparently awoken while I was on the trail, eventually turning onto my own street, relishing the street name in my head as I did. Sure enough, over the distance, I had lost a few tenths of a mile on both my Garmin and my iPhone, so I had to pass my house with sadness in order to hit the full 22 miles on both gauges. One or two houses past and back, and there I was typing in my garage door code.

My average pace remained at 8:45, which would put me in at about 7-8 minutes under my goal of 4 hours. If I can only recreate the experience in two weeks!

I guess I'll no longer enter my stats the way I used to, now that Bones In Motion has been purchased (and ruined) by Adidas miCoach. (Warning: do not migrate your info to miCoach until you're ready to completely quit using bimactive!). I have returned to MapMyRun, which I had used before bimactive. I like MapMyRun, but BIM had more features and provided more feedback.

Good luck to those of you who are running the Route 66. I hope to see you there. And if anyone is running the Dallas White Rock Marathon 2 weeks after, let me know!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Time for Summer

I was originally going to entitle this blog post, "Wet Runs," in light of the recent weather, but I thought better of it.

Last Saturday, I ran my last race for the season, the Aquarium Half Marathon. I was running with a buddy of mine who just started running a few months ago. My goal was to come in at 1:50 or better. I assumed my friend would be able to do the same despite his relative newness to running because he was already hovering around the 8-minute mile mark in his longer runs.

We chatted for much of the first half of the race, maintaining a brisk pace (for me) of around 8:10, with occasional dips under 8 minutes, and occasional lags around 8:30. It was faster than I typically start, but I am typically running a full rather than half, so I figured I'd roll with it and see what happened. About 5 miles in, I passed several of my Runner's World friends coming from the other direction (not racing), which was a nice boost. At about 8 miles in, I passed Kathy going the other direction (racing). I contemplated throwing a Gu pack at her to get her attention, but she seemed to be pretty immersed in conversation, so I let it go.

We passed a water table at the 9-mile mark. I slowed down to drink my water. My friend did not. He took off ahead of me, and we didn't meet up again until the finish line. He came in at 1:45:15 with an average pace of 8:03. I finished at exactly 1:48 with an average pace of 8:16. I have to admit, I was a little sickened that my friend, who is so new to running, beat me by 2:45, and he beat my first half marathon time (Route 66, 2008) by 13:43. Despite this sickness, I was happy for him that he completed his first marathon. (I would guess that a full is in his near future.) And I was glad that I came in under my goal time.

Now that the Aquarium Half is over, I will have a 5-month break from racing. I plan to embrace the heat and the summer training in hopes of breaking the 4-hour mark this coming fall. This past week, I continued my Monday-morning fartlek (hee hee) on the Creek Turnpike trail starting east. (I really wish they'd hurry up with the construction around Memorial!) Yesterday, I had a great, relatively slow 8-miler. I missed this morning (my third Thursday in a row to miss). I can't post any stats below because seems to be having problems this morning (I think they have been since this past Saturday).

My next race will be in October. I'm still waiting to hear about attending a business trip in Denver. If I go, I will run the Denver Rock and Roll Marathon on October 17. If I do not attend, I'll drive up to Kansas City for the KC Marathon October 16.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Back to running...and blogging

April was a comparatively inactive month for me with regard to both blogging and running. Not a single blog post in the month of April (although this post marks #100 for me), and while I did run the OKC Memorial Marathon, between a week of tapering and a week of recovery (and a few missed days here and there), I still ended up with just under 100 miles for the month--first month under 100 miles since last December.

This first week of May, I made a point to get back on schedule. On Monday, I had a pretty intense 7.4-miles as I focused on increasing speed up the hills--a drill I plan to continue on Mondays in order to increase my VOx. This morning's 8.4-miler was unusually challenging. I would assume this was because of the intensity of Monday's run combined with the fact that I had the two weeks previous off.

Oklahoma City went pretty well, although I did not come in under 4 hours as I had hoped. My final time ended up at 4:02:45. The run felt good, and I was hardly disappointed with myself. (And I beat last year's OKC time by a long shot!) I know my experience is very limited, but OKC is the most challenging marathon course I have run. Seems like the first 13 miles is just one hill after another. At mile 17, I decided to walk a short, steep incline, simply to save strength. I ran again until mile 20 (and another hill). As usual, that 20-mile mark was a huge wall for me. I walked sections periodically from mile 20 to the finish line, with a final burst for the last half mile in an attempt to finish strong. No photographers caught me walking, so I suppose that this blog is the only piece of evidence. (Maybe I shouldn't have said anything!)

I didn't see too many Runner's World folks during the race. I saw Patty close to the halfway point, and again at the finish line. And I chatted with Eric in my subgroup at around mile 22.

While OKC is the worst "placed" marathon I've run, the race has, by far, the best fans and support of the four different locales in which I have raced (this includes the Las Vegas Rock n' Roll Marathon). People were lining the streets for much of the race, and the water stops were the best I've seen. They were plenty long, and the volunteers knew what they were doing. The non-beverage stops (fruit, sponges, sprinklers, Gu) were also well placed. At no time during the race did I worry about the distance until the next water stop.

Next up? I'll be running the Full Moon 5K with my wife this coming weekend, and the weekend after that, I'll be joining a friend of mine for his first half marathon at the Jenks Aquarium.

Marathon results below.

Route:--Elev. Avg:1201 ft
Location:Oklahoma City, OKElev. Gain:-6 ft
Date:04/25/10Up/Downhill: [+856/-862]
Time:06:37 AMDifficulty:4.0 / 5.0

Distance: 26.49 miles

Speed:6.5 mph

Pace:9' 10 /mi


Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
18' 44-0' 266.9+0.3-36 ft
28' 59-0' 116.7+0.1+43 ft
38' 50-0' 206.8+0.2+10 ft
48' 35-0' 357.0+0.4-33 ft
58' 32-0' 387.0+0.5-26 ft
68' 31-0' 397.0+0.5-30 ft
78' 36-0' 347.0+0.4+29 ft
88' 15-0' 557.3+0.7-55 ft
98' 27-0' 437.1+0.6+36 ft
108' 35-0' 357.0+0.4+27 ft
118' 34-0' 367.0+0.5+29 ft
128' 37-0' 337.0+0.4-13 ft
138' 40-0' 306.9+0.4-3 ft
148' 44-0' 266.9+0.3-7 ft
158' 38-0' 326.9+0.40 ft
168' 31-0' 397.0+0.50 ft
178' 40-0' 306.9+0.4+9 ft
189' 53+0' 436.1-0.5+10 ft
198' 46-0' 246.8+0.3-7 ft
208' 38-0' 326.9+0.4-62 ft
219' 59+0' 496.0-0.5-10 ft
2210' 26+1' 165.8-0.8+39 ft
2310' 07+0' 575.9-0.6+26 ft
2411' 58+2' 485.0-1.5+49 ft
2510' 12+1' 025.9-0.7-23 ft
2611' 17+2' 075.3-1.2+6 ft
end8' 47-0' 236.8+0.3-16 ft
Versus average of 9' 10 min/mile

Posted from

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saturday's Run: A Reminder that the Earth is Still Spinning...Fast

My hope Friday night as I went to bed was that the wind would calm overnight. I think the opposite was the case. I knew I was in trouble Saturday morning when I awoke and I could hear the wind chimes dinging and our neighbor's flag pole clanging in their front yard.

I arrived at Veteran's Park to learn that no one else in my pace group was running, so I started down the trail on the east side of the river alone. Twenty-two miles later, I was running on the same side of the river (different direction) alone. It was a tough run.

There was construction all over the place. I hit my first orange fence around 9 miles in, just past Turkey Mountain and the water treatment plant. I could see that there actually was nothing going on, at least not within the visible distance, so I ran around the fence and continued on the path. A couple more open orange fences later and I finally came upon a work crew. One guy was sitting in a city truck on the running path. One guy was using a power digger, and three guys were standing off to the side. The entire operation affected less than 50 yards of the area, yet roughly a mile of the path was closed. I was able to run through the grass and easily avoid the workers. One more orange fence and I was through the construction area.

As I approached 11 miles, I saw signs up around the pedestrian bridge warning that the "bike path" was closed. I reasoned that I was on the running path, not the bike path, and I went ahead and crossed the bridge. The wind was literally blowing me from side to side, but the bridge was still very much passable.

I soon found myself at the end of the charted path, so I had to start creating my own path in order to hit 22 miles. I circled north and west on Southwest Blvd, back to the west side of the river and followed the path all of the way down the the orange construction fence that I had exited roughly an hour previous. I decided not to cross it again, even though it meant that I would have to make up 2 miles somewhere else. I turned around and headed back north.

I hit the pedestrian bridge again about 18 miles in. I began feeling very fatigued--much more fatigued than I had felt at the same point in my 20-mile run two weeks previous. I am hoping/assuming that the early fatigue was due to running, at this point, 8 miles directly into the northern wind.

As I crossed the bridge, again, being blown all over the place, I debated on whether to turn left or right at the end of the bridge. Right would mean adding an extra mile south (and my 9th mile directly into the wind) and back in order to hit 22 miles. Left meant heading home early and hitting only about 20 miles for the day. I decided to go right, and as I did, my mind flashed to Anchorman, when Ron Burgundy jumped into the bears' den at the San Diego Zoo: I immediately regretted this decision. My feet were hurting (well past due for new shoes), and I had absolutely no energy left. I made it down to 41st and turned around. At this point, I made a quick call to my wife for some company and encouragement on this last stretch. After we hung up, I ran and walked the rest of the way to my car.

Extrapolated, I would not have made a full 26.2 in under 4 hours, a fact that concerned me very much in light of the work I have invested in this series of training. My hope is that it will not be as windy in OKC, but the truth is, it likely will be, and perhaps even worse.

I did happen to see one of the most awesome sights I've ever seen on a long run: a huge bald eagle flew almost directly overhead when I was running past the base of Turkey Mountain. It had a pretty large fish in its talons. As far as I can remember, it's the first time I've seen a bald eagle like that, so close, in its natural habitat. I'm no nature guy, but it really was an amazing sight.

This coming Saturday, for the 24-mile run, my plan is to start out between 8:20-8:30 and simply sustain that pace as long as I possibly can. No 8-minute miles. Just a constant, steady, sustainable pace.

Still no stats--hopefully our computer will be fixed on Wednesday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Note to Self: There are No Guarantees on Race Day

This morning's 6-miler in wind and rain reminded me that there are no guarantees with regard to conditions on race day. It reminded me about OKC last year, my first marathon. Amazing that I ran another one after those conditions. This morning, as I was running north directly into the wind and rain, I kept thinking to myself, "it could very well be like this in OKC." (Perhaps even worse!) I don't mind running in the rain--it's actually kind of nice. But 26.2 miles with gusts of wind pelting me in the face with cold rain drops? I think that could get old. It got me thinking about my friends in the Runner's World group who have run 20, 30, 40+ marathons. In light of the sheer number of marathons these runners have taken part in, probability would dictate that they have had some windy, rainy races. Between living in Oklahoma and signing up for races in March and April, it's bound to happen to me too.

No stats today. My home computer is down. Six miles, 8.01 m/m avg. pace.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Running Unfettered

I felt like I had shed several pounds for my 8-miler this morning. A dead battery in my Garmin meant it would be staying home, along with its cousin, the heart rate monitor. I also left my headlight at home, as I knew the Spring sun would be shining before I finished my run. And the mild temps this morning called for shorts instead of tights.

Next iteration: a commando run in short sleeves. (Don't worry, the shedding stops there.)