Thursday, February 28, 2008

The 5K I am about to attempt...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Endurance of a Kumquat

My GPS/HRM is providing some very useful data: Specifically, it has analyzed my heart rate as I attempted to jog for a couple of miles but petered out just before completing the first mile -- on completely flat terrain, mind you -- and it has determined that I have the endurance of a kumquat. I already knew this, of course, but now I have a neat little graph showing that I can only exert myself for about a mile, at which point my wittle heart just can't take it anymore. To-wit:

It's very interesting to be able visualize what I have felt on my "runs": I hate that first mile. I just can't get over how much I hate it. And it's not because I'm running too "fast" or anything; I seriously keep my pace at 4.5 mph, which is the speed at which most Washingtonians walk. But as you can see, on that first incredibly slow mile, my pulse increases slowly but surely from 150 to about 164, even though I am running at a steady pace. (Note: Ignore that little spike around 0.3 miles; I was dashing across the crosswalk at 7.5 mph before the light turned green!)

Anyway, what the graph shows is that my endurance SUCKS. A mile progressively taxes my body because I am apparently in very bad shape, and afterward, I can bring my heart rate back up but cannot maintain it. This results in a lovely series of peaks and valleys. Great for admiring. Not so great for building endurance.

I guess I will just persevere, and really try to stick to the Gallowalking program that has brought success to so many beginners. I am told that it will get easier, but there are no magic solutions. I just have to slog through it.

In other news, my Garmin Forerunner 305 is apparently smarter than me. About 1.5 miles into my jog on unfamiliar terrain last night, I got completely and utterly lost. Thanks to the Miracle of Technology, if you click here, you can actually see a little red dot run around aimlessly on a map, retracing his steps several times. That little dot, of course, is me. (Couldn't you tell?) In fact, the only reason I didn't keep on going in the wrong direction at the 26-minute mark is because I realized that the Garmin has a nifty "Return to Beginning" function, which will point a big stinkin' arrow in the direction of my starting point.

I suppose it is worth noting that even when the Garmin told me I was back where I started, I refused to believe it, and almost started panicking, until, on a whim, I pulled out my keychain and pressed the button. HONK! "Holy crap, I am where I started!" I said aloud to no one in particular.

This proves that not only do I have the endurance of a kumquat, apparently I also have the intelligence of a kumquat.

Carry on.

Monday, February 25, 2008

First Runs with the Garmin Forerunner 305

Well, this is momentous: I have actually stuck to the training plan so far (although I did have to jigger the days around somewhat to fit in my schedule), and I ran 6.5 miles between Thursday and Sunday!

As you know, my Thursday 2 mile treadmill run was tough as hell, but left me energized. Thursday night saw the arrival of my Garmin Forerunner 305, which I purchased from a once-technologically-minded friend who has since eschewed all running technology, preferring to run au naturale. (Apparently that also includes no longer updating his running blog!)

On Saturday, I had my first chance to strap up and use it. I must have pressed a wrong button or something, because the thing lost the satellite signal around .89 of my jog, and didn't find it again until I restarted the device. Oh well -- I still managed to go about 2.5 miles AND run right past everyone's favorite news personality, Tim Russert! (My brain didn't realize it was him until about 3 seconds had passed, and by that point I thought it would have been a little scary for me to run back to him, all sweaty, and tell him he was my role model.)

Saturday was also momentous because it was basically the coldest outdoor run I have ever attempted. Now, it wasn't that cold -- only in the mid-30s. But for a running novice like me, the fact that I actually attempted and COMPLETED a run in such frigid weather was fairly monumental! I suited up in wicking shorts, sweatpants over that, my long-sleeve wicking shirt, a zippered sweatshirt over that, a knit cap, and gloves. It was a pretty good combination! About 20 minutes in, I had to take off the hat and gloves because I was getting toasty, but other than that, I felt just great throughout the entire run. I was only planning to run 2 miles, but because of the GPS mixup, I ended up running about a half mile more. Total: 2.5 miles.

On Sunday, I went out again, this time in the opposite direction. I had mapped out a route that would take me to the National Cathedral and back along a circular route that didn't have too steep an incline. At least, that's what I thought from looking at the little upward sloping graph on It turns out that a little slope on the computer translates into a fairly intense hill in real life, especially when that hill comes around Mile 1, which is currently the point where I am most tired before I "get over it" and settle into a more "comfortable" higher heart rate zone. My pace was still excruciatingly slow, but that's because of all the hills. I'm hoping that when it comes time to run on a flat course, I will be more than prepared.

And my Garmin worked perfectly on Sunday! Click here for details about my run. (Note: The "8.8 mph max" from Sunday's run was on the last 1/2 mile, which is a very steep downhill. Now that was fun! Felt like I was flying!)

I pushed myself pretty hard this weekend so I'm giving myself a day or two off. The next run is 2 miles, and then after that I am attempting 3 miles. I think I'll be okay as long as I can find some flatter terrain. Wish me luck!


Thursday, 2/21: 2 miles
Saturday, 2/23: 2.5 miles
Sunday, 2/24: 2 miles

TOTAL: 6.5 miles*

*For logging purposes, my running weeks will end with the Sunday "long run."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Slowest pace, hardest run

As you can see by the nifty Training Plan up at the top of the page, I have decided to give the Cherry Blossom run an actual sustained effort. Whether I can sustain that effort in the long run is debatable, and, frankly, unlikely if history is any guide. But this is the first time I have ever signed up for an actual race, so I am hoping that, like in my work and academic lives, the deadline will make all the difference.

So in order for the Runner's World SmartCoach program to calculate my suggested pace, I had to tell it how fast I can run a mile. That is, if there were an actual race and I was all pumped up and my friends were cheering me on, how fast could I run a mile?

I entered in "10 minutes." I think that is fairly reasonable, as back when I was in great shape a few years ago, I could do it in less than 8. And I could probably keep up 6 mph for 10 minutes...

Okay, it's a stretch. Anyway, the training program came back and told me that I should do my easy runs at a pace of 13:37 per mile. That is equivalent to 4.4 miles per hour. A slow jog. A fast walk.

"You gotta be kidding me!" I shouted aloud to no one in particular. "I can go much faster than that!"

But I decided to give it a try. Yesterday I stepped on the treadmill, set it to 1% incline, and set it for 30 minutes. GO.

The first couple minutes were easy as cake. I looked around, worried that the athletes around me would start snickering when they saw how slow I was going, while they were all at 6mph or above.

Then 2 minutes turned into 3. And 4. And 8. And that slow ass pace became HARD. I wasn't taking any walking breaks yet, and I guess I wasn't used to moving that fast for that long. I walked for one minute once I hit 10 minutes in, but then kept jogging until I had traversed a mile.

My time? 13:50.

I know this is pathetic. I know that it's 30% slower than I used to train at, and almost 50% slower than my best mile ever.

But it is also a beginning, and it was less than 14 minutes, which is good because 14 minutes is the slowest pace they allow in the Cherry Blossom run, as you have to complete the 10 mile course in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Any slower, and you have to jump on the Stragglers Bus.

It's not like I wasn't trying either. By the time I hit the 1 mile mark, my pulse was up to 170 and I was not able to carry on a conversation, as is the recommended effort level on Easy days.

I stretched for 30 seconds and then walked for the next couple minutes, before jogging again. I hit the second mile mark at 28:44, which means that second mile took me 14:54, including 3-4 minutes of walking.

At about 27 minutes, I had pushed the speed up to 5.0 mph and set the incline to zero, because I had wanted to try to break 15 minutes for that second mile. 5 mph, normally very easy at the beginning of a run, was brutal now. I was at an intensity of 9 or 9.5, and when I hit 2 miles, my pulse was up to 180.

I walked for a couple more minutes and then got off the treadmill, having gone about 2.1 miles in 31 minutes. I know, I have a long way to go. But even a journey of 10 miles begins with a single step. (Sorry for the cliche but it is true.)

An hour after my run, I felt great. I was relaxed and refreshed and full of energy. I felt renewed. And while I still don't like running, and doubt I ever will, I love the idea of challenging myself. And this is sure to be one hell of a challenge.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I was planning on ordering my standard General Tso's combo with dumplings last night, but I didn't feel very well and I wasn't that hungry so I just ended up making soup. And it was delish! And I didn't gain 5 pounds from all the deep-fried chicken that I missed out on. :-)

Haven't run in a few days. I cannot find THE STICK, and without THE STICK my calves tighten up to unbearable levels when I try running. I will have to find it soon or else buy another one. Eek.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Come ON!!!


The bed is NOT THAT COMFY!!

PS - I ate another General Tso's combo with steamed dumplings.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Got to

I've been so busy with trying to find a new place to live. It takes up all my evenings and so much of my weekends. I haven't had time to prepare healthy meals or to exercise. I have GOT TO make time. I am exhausted currently, and it's because I'm not exercising.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Matt Actually Enjoyed an Evening Jog

Executive Summary

1. I don't hate Ian.
2. I have found one of my joys of running.