About Me

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San Francisco, California and, Carrboro, North Carolina, United States

Monday, January 31, 2011

Week of January 24 to January 30

A Long Forgotten Friend (the pool)

Over the past two weeks I have re-introduced myself to the pool.  In doing so, I've cut back the running mileage to about 40-50 miles a week (running 5 days), while putting in 4 workouts in the pool and another 4 on the bike.  I am slowly beginning to resemble an elite triathlete and less of a lawyer.   

My new office for the next few weeks.

The week of training was terrific.  I had some great workouts, and some not so great workouts, but in all it was a good week and moved me forward to getting stronger.  

My swimming, or lack thereof, was on full display.  Ever since I started to practice law I slacked on my swimming.  As a law student, I routinely swam 6 days a week.  As a lawyer, I maybe swam 20 times a year.  The slacking stemmed from a number of different reasons and lousy excuses, ranging from it's cold, to I am too busy.  I also knew I had deposited so many yards into the swimming bank throughout my waterpolo and prior elite triathlon days, that I could fake the swim portion of most age group races without ever really being in shape.  However, there's no faking anything at the elite level and if I want to be competitive, I'll need to have my swim form back to tip top shape. 

I've found a great group of fellow triathletes to swim with on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and in my first workout, the coach had us swim a 200 for time.   So there I was, after a 1500 warm-up, standing on the pool deck, dreading a timed 200.  This would likely not end well.    

The coach said, "on your marks, get set, go" and we're off.  I am swimming in the lane next to one of the faster swimmers of the group, and through 25 yards, I am feeling great; flip turn, and I'm still right up there; two more flip turns, and after 100 yards, I'm leading the group; at this point, I got a little cocky, I thought, wow, I am still fit, lucky me; well, I couldn't fool my current swim fitness forever and I would soon be corrected.  125 yards into the swim, the muscles in my arms, legs, and back could not cope with the intensity, and I started going slower and slower.  I quickly dropped behind the other swimmers.  The next 50 yards were a real struggle, but I finally finished with a 2:11.  My splits: a 1:00 first 100 and a 1:11 second 100.  I was beat.  We still had another 2300 yards to swim, and I slowly struggled through the workout. 

Even though I blew up in the 200, this was an excellent workout for me.  By no means am I anywhere near my old swimming self, but the '00 in the 100 yards reminded me that I can be fast, and with a bit of time, patience and the necessary yardage, I'll be back to swimming under 2 minutes for my 200s, and not destroyed for the rest of the workout.  My confidence was battered but I was encouraged that I could swim well.   It's just a matter of putting in the effort.   

My favorite workout of the week was the key run (Treadmill) on Wednesday:

20 minute warm up (3 miles)

3 sets of the following:
(A) 2 minutes @  9.3  mph @ 6% incline (one minute easy 8 mph)
(B) 2 minutes @ 10.1 mph @ 4% incline (one minute easy @ 8 mph)
(C) 2 minutes @ 10.4 mph @ 2% incline (one minute easy 8 mph)

12 X 1:15 @ 12 mph (45 seconds easy @ 7 mph)

10 minutes easy jog.

Felt great at the end of the workout.  Now back to some swimming!  

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Happy New Year!  Over the past 5 weeks I have been running myself back into tip top shape.  After 5 weeks and a bit over 300 miles under my legs, I'm feeling fit.  What better way to start the 2011 season than to participate in the Angel Island 25K.

As for the week of training, it went well.  I put in my recovery workouts and had a solid workout on Tuesday and Thursday (key run days).  Thursday's track workout was one of the best workouts I've had in years.  However, on Thursday night I was reminded that I need to be more careful about my diet and supplements.  Throughout the night my calves and quads kept cramping and I kept jumping out of bed to stretch them.  This annoying scenario must have occurred at least 15 times.  But the situation was my fault.  Over the past few weeks, with the holidays and travel, I had not been consistently taking my supplements/meds and this was the result.  Having Crohn's, I often don't absorb the minerals I need, and after some tough weeks training, travel and work, I dug myself into a little hole.  Friday and Saturday called for easy workouts so I obliged. By Sunday I was back to my old self and ready to run 25K (that's 15.5 miles for us metrically challenged folks).

Pacific Coast Trail Runs are a great series of runs throughout Northern California (with a few races in SoCal).  Over the past couple of years I have competed in a number of races and have had a blast in each one.  The trail runs are perfect for the beginner to expert trail runner and the various distances offer great challenges for every level of runner. 

Angel Island is a historic and beautiful island in the San Francisco Bay.  The views on the island are breath taking and the running and hiking trails are some of the best in the Bay Area.  Running 25K around the island is the perfect way to start a Sunday.

Trail Run:

Elevation for 25K Angel Island Trail Run
After departing Tiburon it would be a short ferry ride to the island and then a quick start to running up and down each of the trails that circumvent the island.  Wow, was it cold.  It must have been mid 40s for the start of the race.  Since it was so cold, I opted to keep the gloves on.  This afforded me the opportunity to stuff a clif bar clif shot in each glove.  I hate running with lots of gear, so hiding the gels in my gloves was perfect.  The elevation graphic shown above refelcts the course, it's basically three loops, and each loop climbs more than the previous one.  The final 8K, is the toughest, with about 810 feet of elevation gain to Angels Island's summit.  The race director counted down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and we're off.   

My plan was to take it out quickly and see if (i) anyone would join me, and (ii) if I could hold on.  I was running for the course record set in 2005, 1:39:48.  I would have to hold sub 6:30 per mile pace to achieve it.  With all the elevation gain, I knew it would be tough.  First lap went according to plan, put together some solid running even with the short steep hills.  Unfortunately, no other runner went with me, I was going to have to do this solo and off the front. 

Second lap was the same.  Kept my pace and my focus.  I finished the lap with an over all time of 1:04, so I needed to run the last and most difficult lap in about 35 minutes.  This was going to be close. 

Last lap.  The effort I put forth in the first 17K started to take an effect on my legs.  I was tired and there was about 3.5 KM (a bit more than 2 miles) to the summit ahead of me.  My pace was falling a bit, but I kept my focus and kept thinking of my running form and pushing through the tough sections.  Sure enough, I soon made it to the summit, it would now be an all out daredevil type run from the summit to the bottom.  I had a little less than 3 miles to go, and needed to cover it in roughly 17 minutes.  I went for it.  Dodging rocks, boulders and tree roots, I ran as fast as the trail and my tired legs would take me.  It was crazy, I nearly fell off the trail and almost broke both of my ankles.  First mile, in my crazy decent, 5:46.  I thought, "keep it up James, only 2 miles to go."  On the next mile, there was one more hill, I hammered up it.  Second mile 6:02.  I thought, "ok, almost there, time to run."  I saved my best for last mile.  If I knew how close it really was, I may have not kept such great focus, but I didn't know, and just kept running.  Final mile 5:02!  I crossed the finish line in 1:39:27.  With 21 seconds to spare, I got the record. 

A perfect way to start a Sunday and the 2011 racing season.

Below are the Garmin Stats for the run.  My Garmin had it a bit long, 15.9 miles.  A friend of mine, Steve, had it at 15.7 miles.  So, when running on the trails you sometimes never know how much you ran, but it was somewhere between 15.5 and 15.9 miles.