Category Archives: benchmarks

When It Hits the Fan

The crazy.  Yesterday I bought several hundred dollars worth of clothing that is not even running gear. I also noticed I have, 4 days before race day, a little cough. I finally signed up for my half marathon in May, alarmed by an “almost sold out” notice. Tomorrow I would have been driving for an hour to meet with someone affiliated with a potential employer (it remains “potential” until I see some cash), but that meeting was postponed due to illness. Some time this week, possibly tomorrow, the wife is flying to Denver (or some place like that — the middle part of the country) for work. Friday I’ll be performing music at a small club with some dear friends — for the first time in decades. Sunday I run the 5K.

The workout. Today the plan was just to do a little speed work. I checked the last week of a few 5K plans to see what seemed reasonable (it is hard for me to stick with a plan) and made sure it made sense in terms of what I’ve been doing (“Is there an arc?”). So a mile of warm up and cool down sandwiching .75 miles @ 5K pace, .5 miles @ 3K pace, and .25 miles at mile pace (6:00 min/mile is goal mile pace, which should have been the fastest section of today’s effort). With 1 minute walking recoveries. So, short and sweet.

It was quite windy, and dare I say it, chilly this morning. The point of this workout is just to get a little speedwork in before race day, without adding too many miles during taper week. I blew out the speed part, pacing will be a big focal point of my training up to my 10K (not registered just yet) and half marathon.

The logged workout was 33:51, 3.8 miles @ 8:54 min/mile. (Logs are problematic, need more detail.) Here are the quarter-mile splits:

.75  5:39 min/mile, 6:15 min/mile, 6:28 min/mile (that last lap was the goal pace)

.50  5:59 min/mile, 6:18 min/mile

.25  5:30 min/mile

So speed is good, endurance (per the long weekend) is good, but pacing is just nuts. I just don’t feel the pace yet, in my legs. There’s just the one cue: run fast, and probably faster than that. Will have to watch it carefully on Sunday, and if I don’t combust, should get a decent result. Excited and stressed.

Hoka Time!


These arrived late yesterday, at what must be the tail end of the UPS truck’s route (out for delivery at 4 something a.m., delivered at 6:40 p.m.). Hoka One One Eva Stinsons, if I recall correctly the whole string. Today I took them out for an incautious spin. No gradual breaking in for these puppies. As soon as I put them on last night I had the energy of a Leprechaun. I needed to go! And so this morning I have updated my little “benchmarks” text file, as this was the fastest I’ve run 10 miles. Clearly these gigantic shoes are not slowing me down. (Perhaps I’ll write a “review” of them in a couple weeks.)

I was thinking a lot about form today, too. Keeping the arms compact, making them the engine. Especially focussing on that as I got tired. Recalling the comment I got out on the trail over the weekend: “Arms! Arms! No dead bird!”

1:17:58        10.04 miles        7:46 min/mile

When done, I noticed the shoe rubs against the top of my big toe in a way that may take some getting used to. But that’s what you get for running 10 miles on the first outing with a shoe. A bit silly. I also cleaned the shoes with a brush, in the fashion of my running group compadres. It was quite muddy, in places.

7:34   7:30   7:59   8:04   7:37   7:43   7:39   8:14   7:51   7:29

Bee Rock: Training Device


Did a few runs with the group this week and consequently my mileage for the week is low, about 20 miles.  And, of course, there was Thanksgiving, etc. I was feeling a bit flat last week, so not a bad thing to ease off a bit. I’m uncertain of the right mix of this strength work that I’ve been doing and the distance that I’ll need to put in for preparing for another half marathon. On Thanksgiving we ran some pushes up one of the steeper ridge trails up to one of the gardens — the name escapes me at the moment. I was feeling better that day. And today was great.

We headed up this impossibly steep rock — it’s not the decomposed granite that’s in most of the park, maybe a basalt? It’s hard and steep, and coach mentioned that it’s especially good for loosening up the hamstrings and lower back when they are tight. I can attest that indeed they were pleasantly loose.

After a few very steep ridges we headed down to the section where we do quarter miles and ran a trial. Again, I had the benefit of a very steady runner to pace me for the first 100 meters or so, and another runner speeding ahead. I managed to do this one in 62 seconds. The watch seemed to concur about the distance this time around, and so I feel less skeptical about it.


Photo credit: Thanks to one of my readers. It’s not the route I ran today, but I like the photograph.

Today’s run:

40:39        5.04 miles     8:04 min/mile

Yesterday’s run was identical, except I forgot my watch. It was the same route, 45 minutes, about 9 min/mile pace.

Today I was inspired, though. The body wanted to run where I’d left off yesterday, though I am trying to conserve some energy this week.

I’d just reread a small section of a great* book, Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald, and chanced upon a simple, somewhat obvious, but as of yet (for me) largely untried method of spurring motivation. Just glancing over the epilogue, this: “Know your personal records and try to break them.”

Now I know, or can easily refer to, my running times for all of my races — but it occurred to me that I don’t know, for instance, the fastest time I’ve run 5 miles in a work out. Or at 2.44 miles (the circle around the golf course in Griffith Park that I’ve run many times). So, wouldn’t it be helpful to know,  particularly if I’m going to run a hard workout, what my fastest time was? So simple. But I haven’t done it. I came up with this quick and dirty list, with the help of my data at Garmin connect:

2.51       18:40       7:27 min/mile (7/12/12)

3.10       21:38       6:58 min/mile (4/13/12)
4.96       37:44       7:37 min/mile (4/11/11)
5.00       39:14       7:45 min/mile (3/20/12)
6.45       53:32       7:20 min/mile
7.00       53:46      7:40 min/mile (12/6/11)
10.0    1:20:50     8:05 min/mile

13.1     1:42:33      7:50 min/mile (race)

16.5     2:27           8:56 min/mile

So, next time I head out for a 10-miler, and I’m feeling jaunty. I will know that I’ve never run one faster than 8:05 min/mile pace. Crazy powerful information that I’ll be making use of, with gusto!


*I so misjudged this book when I first read it — I tossed it aside, my takeaway being that it was about “winging it” (Chapter 6), when there is so much more to this book — it really is a further distillation of Brain Training for Runners, his previous book.