Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekly Summary 7/4 through 7/10

Diamond in the rough.  One of two flowering plants I've found in Iraq.
Second focused week of training here in Tikrit Iraq:
4th Of July 10K Stars
AM 1:14, 10.5M; Did a 10K tempo like run this morning. I put on a 5K and 10K for our office 4th of July party.  We had an awesome mix of guys run the 10K, (from left to right) Marcus, an English teacher at the Iraqi College, Simon, an interpreter, Miller, Pacini and Cash, all advisors like myself and Josh, another english teacher.  Times ranged from 46 to an 1:02 for the crew.
I set the course the night before, both races were out and back (only one lady, Steele, ran the 5k). I warmed up a mile and a half to the start where I directed the runners on the courses. After warming up I stood around for about 10-15 minutes and didn't finish my warm up routine, which resulted in a less than brisk pace for the first few miles.

My goal on this first tempo workout was to just run at least sub 6:20/mile pace, or no slower than 38 minutes... pretty conservative, but at this point, I'm shooting for a progressive build to my training.

I ran comfortably the first mile or two into a 10-15mph headwind.  I felt like I was running faster than 6:17 pace, but I was comfortable. Second mile felt comfortable and then starting into the third mile I decided to push the pace to get under 6 pace. On the way back, I stayed under control, but pushed myself to maybe 75% effort. Each mile was steadily faster with the last mile around 5:30 something pace and the last .2 I ran in 5:00-5:05 pace.

Overall a great tempo. The run wasn't to taxing and an overall productive session and foundation to build from. I'll alternate this temop workout every other week.

1) 6:17
2) 6:11
3) 5:56
4) 5:49
5) 5:37
6) 5:32
.2) 5:07

PM :23, 3.1M, 818ft climbing; Easy run on the treadmill at 5% grade.
Iraqi Sand Storm this week, yeah, I drive and take pictures. 

PM 1:35, 13M, 2,000ft climbing;
Last night I had a little bit of a sore throat and woke up with a sore throat as well. I also felt a little more groggy and even had a little flem. I got dressed, went outside and found that there was a mild dust storm with visibility down to maybe 600 meters. Apparently it is not healthy to run in a dust storm while in Iraq (a lot of toxins in the air from pollution...ALL of the electricity is from diesel generators outside the buildings), so I decided to hit the gym and do the treadmill. On the way there, I decided it would be best to just go back to bed for a nap instead.
All morning and early afternoon I felt tired and out of it. I took two 20+ minute naps and by 4pm was feeling better. I headed to the gym and decided to give the treadmil a go.
I wanted to get in a little climbing today since tomorrow will be an easy day. I warmed up for 3 miles at 7:30 pace at a 1% grade then ramped it up to 5% grade for 3 miles, followed by 2 miles at 7:00 pace at 1% grade, 3 miles at 7:18 pace at 6% grade and then 2 miles at 6:58 pace at 1% grade.

Overall I ended up climbing 2,000ft with an average pace of 7:18... pretty happy with the medium hard workout on the treadmill.

AM 1:20, 9.85M; The legs were beat up this morning. 9:40 first mile, 8:30 second and then down to 7:30 by the end of the run. Took a wrong turn and had to run an extra .85 miles, which felt like a really big deal. Tired from two harder days in a row (13+ miles each run too). Need a true recovery day tomorrow.

PM :26, 2.6M, 680ft; 
Short easy run on the treadmill, 680ft climbing at 5% grade.

The "PIT"
AM  1:18, 9.4m, 1365ft;  Did the "Pit" workout for the first time today! Last week, after some investigating,  running in The Pit, I probably won't have "deadly force" administered or get ran over by huge trucks.... and get a good hill workout in.  So to The Pit I went. 

With the help of Cashwell, I spent a half hour at the pit with a huge spool or rope trying to estimate the total climbing distance of running 3 separate pitches of dirt and road. 
The Start and Finish of each hill interval....on top of this 30ish foot hill.

Warmed up and did some general mobility. The interval starts on top of a 30 foot or so dirt island in the middle of a large gravel pit. I run down the steep 45 degree slope across 20 feet of flat, up a 15 foot loose dirt embankment (where my shoes fill with dirt).
Part 2, 12ft+ loose dirt scramble
 From here I begin the 150 meter 40 foot climb to the top of The Pit.
Out of The Pit road

From the top I jogged back down and then up the 30 foot island (climbing the island is a decent effort) to start the next interval. After finishing an even numbered interval, I pushed the recovery run to train the down hill running quad muscles.

I did 15 of these repeats in 40 minutes. Pretty solid workout that is fairly entertaining, especially for the Iraqi desert. Intervals ranged from 1:13 out, on the last one, to 1:20. For the return run I cocked between 1:18 to 1:34.

After about 10 intervals the short and steep loose dirt climb section began to become a little more "runable" with a bit of a path.  Cool workout I look forward to doing next week. 

PM :22, 3M, 718ft; Easy afternoon treadmill 3 miler at 4.5% grade, 713 ft climbing.

AM 1:15, 9.12M; I'm finding my first mile is almost always 9:30ish in the morning here. Not sure if this is just from doing a lot of good running, not being awake, not quite adjusted to the consistent training regiment, or whatever. The second mile is usually right at 8:30 and then speeds up to eventually 7:20-40 pace on the last few miles.

My legs were sore and heavy the last half of the run from yesterdays run in the pit. 10-12 mile per hour wind from the north, north west slows me down on the way out.

Overall felt fine considering another big week.

AM 2:38, 20.4M, 100ft; Woke up at 3:50am, snoozed once and then was running at 4:08am. Unfortunately it was slightly hotter this morning than most mornings. Last night was really hot with temps over 115 and the sun was pretty much covered due to high winds kicking up sand... last night was the windiest sand/dust storm since I have been here (3 weeks).

It was dark for the the first 30 minutes, but I could see well enough with the lights around buildings and things. I decided to run the opposite direction as last week on the 18ish mile loop around COB Speicher. Running the opposite direction, I go through the more built up part of the loop first, leaving my favorite open desert running for the second half.
Iraqi Sunrise

I felt much better this morning than I have all this week. After the obligatory 9+ minute first mile, my splits got faster while keeping true to the sustained easy aerobic effort (I'm waiting for my heart rate monitor in the mail that I left at home).

Mile 2-4 = 8 something pace
Mile 5-7 = 7:40ish
Mile 8-20 = 7:29-7:08 pace
Anti-Aircraft artillery shell?

On my voyage across the desert plains, I found a huge anti-aircraft artillery shell laying in the sand. The shell's diameter was bigger than a small bottle of Advil, but a bit smaller than a bottle of pop and about 8" long. Also a bit exciting, while adding a few extra miles on at the end of the loop, at the last moment I spotted a small desert camouflaged snake... right as I stepped over it. Pretty sure the snake was some sort of viper. I stopped and tried to find it for a picture, but he had snuck away into the desert immediately.

AM 1:20; 10.05; Last night a new neighbor moved into my trailer complex that I share a wall with. This new neighbor enjoys listening to music. I try to get to bed at 9 so I can get close to 8hrs of sleep, but I couldn't fall asleep with the music. The walls are so thin and shoddy that I could actually see the light coming through a vertical crack in the paneling. I'm not a confrontational guy, so I tried to sleep with the ear plugs, but I could still hear the music loud a clear. I checked my email, moved my bed away from the wall on the floor, etc... At a little after 10:00pm I banged on the wall, no change, again and again and finally the music was turned down.

So sleep wasn't great last night. I think I'll have to leave a note on my neighbors door strongly recommending headphones after 9.

Anyways, the run was slow both from the 20.4 mile long run Saturday, but also a lack of sleep. By mile 4 I was feeling good and added an extra mile to get 10 vice the standard 9 I have been doing.

The best wife and son in the world on top of Green Mountain
Weekly Summary:
A great week of running for me.  I ran more miles, more climbing, faster paces and felt better than I did overall compared to last week.  Really missing Maggie and Felix.  Maggie and Felix went and climbed Green Mountain on our anniversary this week, it was Felix's first ascent up Green.  Nothing could make me happier than having my family enjoy an afternoon on top of such a special mountain, this meant a lot too me. I have the best wife and son.     

Total Miles: 91
Total Feet Climbed: 5,681


  1. Jason, this is truly inspiring. Take care!

  2. Holy crow. I can't ever complain about heat or tough conditions again!

  3. Incredible dedication to your running! You inspire me more than you know. And YOU are the best Husband/Dad EVER!

  4. Thanks Gancho. I'm assuming you are from WV? I hope to run in WV in the future. I certainly know WV is full of great rivers and canyons...

  5. GZ,

    Yeah, that day of the sandstorm it was, as my friend said "pretty much the closest thing to hell on earth". It doesn't trump -20F and colder with a stiff wind in some of the plains states in my book, but pretty nasty.

  6. Maggie my love,

    Thanks. You keep me going.

  7. Jason,

    Yes and no. I recently moved from WV to Wales, so I suppose you could say that I am a WV expatriate (but also a Bulgarian and Oregonian expatriate).

    Anyway, I look forward to running into you one of these days. UTMB 2012 maybe?

  8. Gancho,

    Count me in for UTMB 2012... seriously.

  9. Deal! Have you looked into the rules of qualification? You’ll get 2 points for the 2010 (or 2011) TNF 50-miler, but will also need another 3- or 4-point race in 2011 (typically 100k or longer, mostly on trails, with significant elevation gain). If you’ll be back to the eastern US this fall, Grindstone, Oil Creek, or Hellgate should do ( Not sure if they will recognize the UROC as a UTMB qualifier though. It may be worth shooting them an e-mail and asking. Looking forward to meeting you in Chamonix!