Beat the Bridge

New Years Resolution: The Pace

When I think of “pace”, I generally think of “keeping up pace,” as if I’m always behind the eight ball, never on top of things, and striving to catchup.

When I read Run Less, Run Faster1, I noticed there is a constant theme of keeping the pace prescribed for that run. Even if you knew you could run faster, you have to run at that particular pace. Pace is vital and keeping the right pace is critical.

We ran 6 days a week, and every day, our “training” run resulted in a competition. No matter how much we bot insisted that “Today, we’ll take it easy,” at some point, one of use would push the pace and then the race would be on! No rest days. No speed days. Nothing but race days.

Having race day every day doesn’t work. I’d like to think that if I can just tough it out — if I can just get through the hour, the day, or the week going at 110%, that then I will finally find time to rest and recover.

That never happens though.

What ends up happening is things start dropping off my plate: I don’t turn things in on time, I get sleep deprived, I don’t do my best work, I neglect cleaning up after myself, I don’t eat well, I don’t get out…the list goes on.

I guess this point is that I run as fast as I can until I can’t run anymore and I crash, not always a big crash but still a crash.

What if I were to force myself to set a pace though? Maybe not even a great pace, but a pace that I can finish. Sure, I’d like to be able to run a seven minute mile for the entire half marathon, but that’s not going to happen2.

What if I ran a ten minute mile? Ugh, that’s so slow. But, I think I can do that without crashing (and I can…almost).

You may be able to see how this might translate more generally to life: setting goals which are maybe not so grandiose, but which are achievable and build upon themselves to propel one forward. I may have lull spots where nothing is happening, and that’s great! I did a little better that expected, but I don’t need to go fill that void with something ten times harder just “for the challenge.”

Obviously, one of things I want to try and focus on for this year is keeping a good pace. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to do that, but I’m going to start by setting some resolutions that are easy and that I sort of like doing already.

Run four races

I want to run in four races this year, spaced roughly 3 months apart.

Here’s what I’m looking at so far:

  • St. Patricks Day Dash (6K): March 13
  • Beat the Bridge (8K): May 15
  • Seafair Sprint Triathlon (5K): July 24

I’d also like to run a 10K in the Fall, but I haven’t found one yet.

Write something meaningful once a week

This will, naturally, take place as a weekly blog post and starts with what you are reading here. The goal of “something meaningful” is to let what I’m writing marinate over the week so I can really wrestle with it and edit it. It’s also to avoid the well know fact that “Once you start measuring something, people will change the way they behave”3, case in point: “You can tell which people listed blogging as a performance review goal“.

I’ve done that before and sometimes can turn out really lame.

365 days, 365 pictures

Finally, I’d like to take a picture a day. I’ve been having a fun time taking pictures using Vignette for Android and uploading them using Flickroid, which is a nice alternative to carrying my camera around all day. Forcing myself to take a picture a day will make me more observant, I think.

Rules for my 365 challenge are:

  • One photo a day…which doesn’t necessarily end at midnight, just before I go to bed for that day
  • I do not have to use the same camera
  • I can use my cell phone camera
  • Post processing is definitely acceptable as long as I don’t bring in additional elements
  • Only one picture a day will be added to the 365 collective

I won’t post photos here every day because sometimes they sit on my camera for a bit before I get around to editing them. However, they have been taken and they will end up here eventually!

Speaking of which, here are this week’s winners:

Day 1 (January 1)

50.0 mm || 1/25 || f/2.2 || ISO800 || NIKON D7000
Seattle, Washington, United States

Day 2

Vignette for Android
Edmonds, Washington, United States

Day 3

Vignette for Android
Seattle, Washington, United States

Day 4

Vignette for Android
Seattle, Washington, United States

Day 5

Vignette for Android
Seattle, Washington, United States

Day 6

Vignette for Android
Seattle, Washington, United States

Day 7

Vignette for Android
Seattle, Washington, United States

Here’s to the pace!

What goals are you setting for yourself this year?

  1. Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, Ray Moss, et al 

  2. For the record, I can run a seven minute mile…but only for one mile 


Seattle Half Marathon

High on the tails of my successful sprint triathlon, I thought it might be a good idea to run a half marathon. I know what you’re thinking, “Andrew, you are crazy!”

You would be correct.

But I did it anyway. I didn’t actually want to run a half-marathon, but there weren’t any 10K runs that were near anytime in 2010. My friend Shannon somehow convinced me that running a half-marathon wasn’t a bad idea, so I started preparing. Shannon told me about a book called Run Less, Run Faster1:


Finally, runners at all levels can improve their race times while training less, with the revolutionary Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) program.

Hailed by the Wall Street Journal and featured twice in six months in cover stories in Runner’s World magazine, FIRST’s unique training philosophy makes running easier and more accessible, limits overtraining and burnout, and substantially cuts the risk of injury, while producing faster race times.

The key feature is the “3 plus 2” program, which each week consists of:

-3 quality runs, including track repeats, the tempo run, and the long run, which are designed to work together to improve endurance, lactate-threshold running pace, and leg speed

-2 aerobic cross-training workouts, such as swimming, rowing, or pedaling a stationary bike, which are designed to improve endurance while helping to avoid burnout

With detailed training plans for 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon, plus tips for goal-setting, rest, recovery, injury rehab and prevention, strength training, and nutrition, this program will change the way runners think about and train for competitive races.

My biggest problem is that by time I got the book and decided to run, I only had about 8 weeks to get ready instead of the 16 the plan called for. So I just launched into the middle of the training program which more or less worked. However, the last few weeks my perfectly laid plans started falling apart as I couldn’t find time (and sometimes couldn’t even find motivation) to run — especially the long distances.

One of the more miserable running experiences involved a 5:50am wake-up for a 6am run around Green Lake in the pouring rain.

I did have fun running down Roosevelt, across the University bridge, down East Lake Avenue East (past KIRO), around the south end of Lake Union, up West Lake Avenue North, back across the Freemont bridge, and up Stone Way.

The last week before the race was particular difficult because it had snowed in Seattle and I was only able to run once around Green Lake (about 3 miles) on Thanksgiving day; and the ground was still compact snow and ice.

The night before the race I was at an awesome wedding (which I’ll blog about later). The problem here was the wedding was about two hours away, by car, and copious amounts of alcohol were present. I managed to hold my liquor and get enough sleep and woke up Sunday morning raring to go!

Shannon’s roommate, Laurie2, gave us a ride to the start line. A quick pit stop to drop off my stuff, a bathroom check, and off we went:

Off to a good start, running beneath the monorail. I started running about 10 minutes after the gun went off, mostly due to the bathroom line. Fortunately, my official time is chip based.

Running through downtown Seattle. I was grooving out to Explosions in the Sky on my iPod, which I felt was a very good mood setting music to start with.

I think this is the turn off from I-90. Rockin' it!

Coming down the finish line in Memorial Stadium. The astroturf felt SO nice on my feet and give me the extra energy to sprint through the finish line.

They even had video of the finish line.

Greenlake running champs. Photo © 2010 Shannon Erickson.

'I'm a winner, bitch.' I'm pretty sure that's what he said here. Photo © 2010 Shannon Erickson.

My finish time was 2:29, which was about 9 minutes over my target of 2:20. I blame the nipple chafing, and the fact that running any distance past 10 KM is just gratuitous and unneeded. By the way, nipple chafing is the top 20 reasons guys should not run a marathon3. I stopped by a med tent at about mile 9 and asked for some tape (thinking I would just cover my nipples). Apparently, Vaseline is the more appropriate solution and they had plenty of that just waiting for people like me.

My other issue was something I believe to tarsal tunnel syndrome and some pain behind my left knee which could be hamstring tendonitis — but I’m an engineer, not a doctor.

Gray's Anatomy FIG. 442. The mucous sheaths of the tendons around the ankle. Medial aspect.

My plan for now is to not run, probably for the rest of the year. Then start looking for a nice 10K to run next year and I think I’ll also run Beat the Bridge.

And now for the stats:

Course Elevation

Run Profile

Overall Place4: 5911th (out of 7618)
Men Place5: 2794th (out of 3237)
Men 20-24 Place6: 220th (out of 246)

Average Pace7: 7:06 minutes/KM
Average Speed8: 8.5 KM/hour
Time9: 2:29:39
1st split10: 1:11:10
2nd split11: 1:18:29

Finishers Certificate

  1. Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, Ray Moss, et al 

  2. Kickedsarahinthefacetwice 

  3. hat tip to Katelyn Hackett 

  4. based on chip 

  5. based on chip 

  6. based on chip 

  7. based on chip 

  8. based on chip 

  9. based on chip 

  10. based on chip 

  11. based on chip