Monday, January 30, 2012

And Just When You Thought Hollywood Was Out of Original Ideas ...

... They completely redeem themselves!

Chiller TV brings you - Bunnyman

Wednesday, Feb. 1st at 8pm EST:

Seriously, it is about a killer dressed as a Bunny. I cannot make this shit up - watch the trailer. Thank me later.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Running is Perplexing ...

Last Sunday I ran the Houston Marathon (will get a RR up one of these days) with my wife, Annie. My job was to be the pacer and push her to a PR so in order to not be tempted to run harder the timing chip was removed from my bib. Mission accomplished as Annie crossed the finish line in 4:07, which was a 7+ minute PR. Since the pace was around 9:20 for the 26.2mi my legs felt fine. I did not taper at all for the marathon and just treated it as my weekly long run.  I ended up running 63.22mi last week and was ready to take on the next week.

Monday (day after marathon) is my normal rest/recovery day so I took it as an off day. On Tuesday the schedule called for 9mi with 5x600s @ 5k pace. I crushed it - the pace for the 600s was 5:38 and I ended up logging a total of 9.6mi. Wednesday was an easy 5mi recovery run and Thursday was 14mi at a general aerobic pace (8:45/mi). Friday was supposed to be 10mi but we had our Tri Club Year End Banquet so due to time constraints was only able to log 6mi. The legs were feeling great going into the scheduled 13mi run for Saturday morning. It was a hot (75*) and humid morning (96%) but the 13mi clipped by quickly. All was good, until Sunday ...

This was a big day. The training plan had me doing 18mi with 12mi @ marathon pace. I needed to nail this run as it is the last marathon paced run at this distance. I picked out a fast and safe area to do the run and was set to go. You'd think on January 22nd that the temperature would not be 72* at 8am with 97% but this was the weather so I just brought some extra EFS Drink. I was prepared to hurt but had no idea it would be this bad.

Long story short: I did it - 7:02/mi pace for the 12 miles. 

It sucked, bad. I wanted to slow down and quit pretty much the entire run but kept pushing. I needed this run and when I finished, felt awful.

The car was parked next to a Starbucks. My bottles were empty so I went inside and got a big bottle of water and a coffee. I sat down at a table and could not move. It took me a few minutes to get the plastic cap off of the water bottle. It was ugly. 

Not sure how long I was sitting there? It could have been 5 minutes or 30 minutes, sort of a blur. Finally got some water in me and chased it with coffee and managed to waddle out to the car and head home. 

Walked in the door and told Annie that I had finally broke myself. I had hit my goal pace but the run had physically defeated me.

I spent the rest of Sunday laying around watching Football and feeling like absolute ass. I've had some difficult days training and racing but this was one of the worst. With some travel for work scheduled this coming week the training plan changed to have a 10mi recovery run today (Monday). By Sunday night I had decided that based on how I was feeling my body needed and extra day or maybe even two days.

Until I got home from work this afternoon and decided to go to Run Club and just do an easy 5mi. I figured that these 5 miles were going to be awful but something happened this evening ... best run in weeks?

I ended up doing 10mi and felt absolutely wonderful the entire time. Strong, powerful, fast. A mere 12-hours earlier I was thinking of never running again and my body and mind were fractured. 

Isn't it amazing how something as simple as running can crush your soul one day and put you on top of the world the next? Perplexing and Exhilarating, all at the same time.

Thanks for Reading,


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sh*t Cyclists Say ...

I am loving all these "Sh*t ______ Say" videos on YouTube.

This one is brilliant:


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Olympic Trials Pics ...

Saturday was the Olympic Marathon Trials and we were lucky enough to have front row seats for all the action. Annie snapped off over 180 pictures and instead of putting each one up on the blog Click Here to see them in a Picassa Album!



Friday, January 13, 2012

Olympic Trials & Houston Marathon

This weekend is just packed full of runner activities!

The US Marathon Olympic Trials are being held in Houston on Saturday morning. This means all the fast kids are coming to play!

A group of us are headed down to get a glimpse of the future Olympians. The course set-up is quite different from the normal Houston Marathon course. It will be three loops and another smaller loop around the Convention Center:

This means the race will pass us by 4 times and we will still be able to cut over to the finish line to see the winners. Very spectator friendly set-up and we are all excited to see what real speed looks like.

Wish you could be here?

I got your back.

Even if you are not cool enough to live or be visiting the Great State of Texas I, along with an assist from The Twitter (@JeffIrvin), will make sure to give you tons of live coverage. I will be live tweeting all the action along with pictures and tons of snarky comments. So follow me on The Twitter and start looking for updates around 8:00AM CST.

After the trials we are going to head over to the Expo to pick-up our race packets for the Houston Marathon that is happening on Sunday. Yep, you read that right I typed "our" race packets because I am now running in the Marathon.

Originally I planned on being a spectator and the official cheering team for Annie but a spot opened up and she asked me if I would pace her. AND my training plan calls for a long run of 22mi that day so I figured why not? This is going to be just a training run but with like 25K other runners. Going to try and pace Annie to a 4:10ish time!

Then to wrap up the fun filled Saturday, Annie and I have been invited to attend the Brooks Running party to celebrate the Brooks athletes that have made the Olympic Squad! This should be a really good time and we are planning on taking a bunch of pictures. However, it will have to be an early night as we have to be in our corral by 6:40am the next morning!

Brooks Running

Then Sunday morning it is race time and hopefully a new PR for my lovely wife Annie!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thanks for Reading,


Thursday, January 12, 2012

2011 In Review ...

I have always been a big fan of taking an analytically approach when determining how a race season went. Sometimes it is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and not look at the big picture. The overall training numbers can give you an idea of where a deficiency may have occurred and help with setting goals in the future. For me, I like to go back and review my race reports and compare side-by-side with the raw training data. The correlation between the two is usually spot on in terms of results.

2011 was a different type of year for me as the main goal was Ironman Texas, which occurred on May, 21st.  I spent the majority of my time in the saddle for the first five months of the year which led right into IMTX.

2011 Training Review:

After a successful Ironman I experienced a case of the Ironman Blues. Training became some thing I wanted nothing to do with and every session was a struggle (see June in the graph below). I had the Rev3 Half Rev at Cedar Point in September but spent hardly anytime in the saddle and almost zero time in the pool.  However, I had rediscovered my love of running and that is how the majority of the second half of 2011 was spent.

As you can see from the total training numbers both the swim (45mi less then 2010) and bike (900mi less then 2010) were way down but I increased my run volume by over 600mi from 2010. In 2010 my total time spent training was 457hrs, in 2011 that time stayed statistically flat at 451hrs. In terms of training time I am quite consistent.

2011 Total Training Volume:
     - Swim: 72h 23m - 164594 meters (102.24mi)
     - Bike: 149h 43m - 2,792.55mi
     - Run: 229h 02m - 1,572.45mi
       Totals: 451h 08m - 4,467.24mi

This graph below really tells a story of two completely different seasons. First half of the year training was as a triathlete, the second half of the year as a runner:

Click to enlarge

Overall I am pleased with the way training for 2011 ended. My total volume for the bike and swim were down but considering over 90% of the volume for the bike and swim were done in only 5 months then it is actually really good.

With my focused turned to running in the second half of the year I am extremely pleased with this training. My speed and endurance are at levels never before thought possible and would not have been realized without doing a concentrated block of run training.

2011 Racing Review

Going into this year the one goal was Ironman. Based on that criteria 2011 was a success.  After that I PR'd the 70.3 distance at Cedar Point and continued on to PR every running race after that as well. As my running volume increased in training the correlation was apparent in decreasd race times. I had a goal of going sub-5hrs in a 50K and did that with a 4:39 race at the beginning of November. Then another goal of going sub-1:30 in a half marathon was accomplished the very next weekend at San Antonio (1:29).

Here is a recap (with race reports) of the entire 2011 race season if you have a couple of hours to kill at work!

Total Races: 11

Total Running Races: 7
     - 5k: 1
     - 5Mi: 1
     - 10k: 0
     - 10Mi: 1
     - Half Marathon: 3
     - Marathon: 0
     - 50K: 1

Total Triathlons: 4
     - Sprint: 1
     - Olympic: 0
     - Half Ironman: 2
     - Ironman: 1

Total PRs: 8

2011 Race Reports:
LaPorte Half Marathon
- Run Thru the Woods 5mi Turkey Trot
San Antonio RnR Half Marathon
Rocky Raccoon 50K Trail Run
10 for Texas Race Report
Rev3 Cedar Point Half Rev
Tejas Sprint Tri
Ironman Texas Race Report
Galveston 70.3 Race Report
BridgeFest 5K
USA Fit Half Marathon Race Report

Moving Forward to 2012

Goal #1 for this year will be to Boston Qualify at The Woodlands Marathon on March 3rd. I am continuing only run training until that time. On March 5th the new #1 goal changes to Ironman Mont-Tremblant and the bike and pool are going to become intimate friends once again.

In term of overall volume, I am not setting any volume goals because I am not sure how the year will finish out. If I am unable to BQ in March then another attempt will be made at the St. Jude's Memphis Marathon on December 4th and this will require strict run training once again. If I do BQ in March, then the Memphis Marathon will be nothing more then a long, slow training day and the second half of 2012 will be spent getting stronger on the bike.

Thanks for Reading,


Friday, January 6, 2012

Calling Bullshit on CrossFit Endurance

A couple of days ago the February issue of Runner's World arrived in the mail. I saw they had a preview of the Olympic Marathon Trials and since I will be attending this year, began to page through the issue.

However, I stopped on page 46 at the article titled:
Totally Fit: Devotees of an intense new training regimen say you don't need long runs to train for distance running - By Selene Yeager

This article is all about CrossFit Endurance (CFE) and how it can replace your normal running routine. If you are asking what CrossFit Endurance is click here to read more. Here is the description from Ms. Yeager from the article:
"...CrossFit Endurance (CFE), a high-intensity, low-volume training plan that blends CrossFit conditioning (i.e., heavy, explosive strength training) with sprints, time trials and tempo workouts. Goodbye, long runs. CFE reduces mileage to as much as one-quarter the average of a typical marathon program."

That sounds glorious! Sign me up ...

Now I am very aware of what CF and CFE are and actually think they are very solid programs for maintaining a fit and balanced lifestyle. In fact, before I became an endurance athlete, I was very involved with P90X and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts which encompass many of the same principles of CF. These types of workouts made me very fit and I looked better with my shirt off doing these workouts then I do now. I will make that concession right now - CrossFit makes you more buff than running!

You know what these workouts did not do? Make me a better long distance runner.

Maybe I am old school or maybe I am just skeptical of snake oil? I believe it takes more then 6mins to get ripped up abs and have experienced first-hand how increased volume can lead to increased performance. CFE takes the principle of Specificity and stands it on its head.  They say get stronger and get faster by not running all that much - this is just plain wrong.

Am I suggesting that weight training has no benefits to runners? Absolutely not.

What I am suggesting is that if you have 8hrs a week to train for a marathon that time would be much more beneficial if used for running as opposed to dead lifting empty beer kegs. The principles of CFE disagree with this according to the last line of the above citation, "Goodbye, long runs. CFE reduces mileage to as much as one-quarter the average of a typical marathon program."

Now to give Ms. Yeager credit, this is not a complete fluff piece. Aside from looking for advice on the RW Forum, she does go the extra step and interview a CFE enthusiast (James Herrera) who slightly contradicts the opening of the CFE article with this statement:
"I'm a firm believer in HIIT, but I still feel a runner - especially a new runner - has to cover about 75 percent of the distance in training for a marathon to prepare for those elements." 

Okay, now that I have given my thoughts on CFE I want to talk about what stood out to me that wasn't in the article:  Race Results from those training exclusively using CFE.

Usually when we are being sold a new "kind" of training/regimen/product we always are shown the successes.  Maybe this got cut from the RW article? Maybe the writer chose to just focus on the idea and left out the results?

Or maybe these impressive race results just do not exist?

I did some searching online and over the CFE website and found a couple of CFE blogs and nothing was really impressive in terms of race times. I hate to sound like an elitist but I found a couple of 4+hr marathons and 6+hr 50ks but nothing considered fast.  I am not trying to downplay the success of those who accomplished these races but would really like to see some proof from the CFE camp that this type of training does work.

So I guess my question is if CFE is so wonderful then why are the results not being pimped all over the internet? Why can I not find any pro runners or triathletes who are preaching CFE? Was Chuck Norris unavailable for the infomercial?

So tell me, what are your thoughts on CFE? Have you tried it and do you believe it can replace traditional marathon training like suggested in the article? And Mr. CF cult member, please show me some fast results.

Thanks for Reading,


Monday, January 2, 2012

Texas Half Marathon Race Report - 3rd Place Overall

New Years Day - 1/1/2012

Annie and I had decided to run in the Texas Half Marathon early in 2011 after a few of our friends had raced it. The race is in our hometown of Kingwood and only allows in 650 racers (300 Marathon, 350 Half Marathon) so we signed up early as it always fills up.

One thing we did not think of when we signed up was that we usually celebrate New Years Eve with a group of friends and this year it was at our house! Everyone showed up with tons of food. We ate like it was our last meal. I was out of control with my food consumption but that was okay because I washed it down with beer. Every so often one of my friends would remind me that I had a race in the morning, my response was to eat another cookie!

Then around midnight the real fun began:

Just a small sampling of our Fireworks!
Then my cul-de-sac morphed into what looked like WWIII:

After all the festivities and clean-up Annie and I ended up in bed just shy of 2am.  The 5am alarm came rather fast.

Annie and I slowly woke up and got ready to go run. I jumped on the scale and my weight was showing 162.2 lbs. I had weighed in at 155 lbs the morning before!! This was going to be a long morning!

We drove over to a grocery store about a mile from the race start and met up with some friends. The plan was to do an easy run over to the race start - we all slowly walked!

A few minutes before the race Dave, Bobby and me went for a brisk 1.2mi run to just loosen up a little and my legs were actually feeling better than I had guessed. A positive sign?

The Race:

Dave, Bobby, and me lined up in the front row and decided to go out hot and then just hang on for as long as possible. I really wanted to practice running even splits and decided to go for around a 6:45-6:50 pace.  Bobby wanted to break his PR of 1:42 and Dave wanted to break his PR of 1:40. My goal last week was to beat my 1:29:30 PR but as of this morning that goal changed to just not pooping myself.

The course was a 6.55 out and back that we would run twice. The marathoners had started 15mins before us and had to do the out and back four times. The course was on the paved greenbelt trails so my biggest concern was that once we caught the marathoners the course was going to get quite congested as  the trails are about the size of a normal sidewalk.

The gun went off and two skinny fast guys jumped out ahead of myself and Dave. They looked the part of fast runners and the opening mile proved just that! Dave had decided to run with me for as long as he could as he sometimes has trouble with pacing on longer runs and would let me and my garmin help him. My goal was to settle in after the first couple of miles and save something in the tank for a strong finish.

We were about two miles in and Dave and I were running next to each other, he was setting the pace, and we were in 3rd place. I looked down at the Garmin and we were averaging 6:00min/mi. Here is how the conversation went:

Jeff: "Umm, Dave, you know we have to do two loops right?"
Dave: "yeah?"
Jeff: "Well, we are averaging 6min miles, that is unsustainable buddy!"
Dave: "Maybe we should back off a little?"
Jeff: "Maybe."

It was at about 3mi in we started to catch the BOP marathoners. Dave and I ran single file from this point on and took turns pulling.  A short little out and back and then another turn around put us in the heart of the marathoners and things started to get tight. We went through one rather large pack yelling, "passing on your left". After we got through it Dave looked back at me and said he felt like Jerome Bettis going through tackling drills!  It was quite the apt description!

At one point we went around a lake and started our way back towards the finsh line/turn-around point. They had a water station setup here and right after that you made a 90 degree turn. It was at this point a young handicapped girl in a wheelchair pulled out right in front of Dave and I. He was in front of me and I saw him jump before I even saw her. He literally went right over top of her and, luckily, landed safely without making any contact with her.  My reaction was to take a large side step behind her and while doing this I actually spun in a circle as to keep my balance missing her by a hair. When I landed my left quad got a shooting pain and it hurt like hell. Dave and I both immediately turned around and saw that the young lady had made it through unscathed, in fact, we think she didn't even notice us. Disaster averted! Whew!

My quad loosened back up and we sprinted back to the turn around to begin out second loop.  We were still in 3rd and 4th place as we started the second lap.

The remaining miles were pretty uneventful as we pretty much just zig-zagged in and out of the other runners.  For the most part the slower runners were very respectful of those of us going faster and stayed to the right. A couple of times I made some contact while passing but none of it was intentional or purposeful.

By mile 9 I could tell Dave was starting to tire just a little so I told him to just hang on my shoulder as long as he could. We hit the little out and back section and I saw the guy in second and we had made up some serious ground on him. It was at this point that I decided to give all I had left and really kicked it in for the final 5k. Dave told me to just go and a started the chase.

The last 2 miles hurt pretty good but I just kept pushing.  I never caught the guy in 2nd but ended up finishing with a new PR of 1:27:50 and in 3rd Place Overall. He finished about a minute in front of me.

Dave came in at 1:30 smashing a new PR by 10mins and Bobby came in at 1:36 which was a fantastic  6min PR.

After I hit the finish line I continued along and was presented with the biggest and best finishers medal you will ever see:

1.5 Kilo Texas Marathon Finishers Medal!

Just how big is 1.5 Kilos?

Next to a Garmin 310xt!

Making the Ironman Texas Medal look like a nickle!

Dinking Bailey the Pug who is 27lbs!

This race was my type of race: Small (650ppl), local (5mi from house), Unique Swag (Medal and Pig), and very laid back. The course was technical but extremely well marked and organized. Annie and her friend Jenn took it easy for the 1/2 distance and had a great time too. We plan on doing this one next year again!

Thanks to Steve Boone for putting on a wonderful event and a huge thanks to Metal Sawing Technology (local company) for sponsoring the race and providing us with the awesome medals!

Final Results (Not posted yet, will update when they are up):

Jeff Irvin
Texas Half Marathon 
January 1st, 2012
6:42 Pace
3rd Place Overall

Every year at this race they have a different animal for the theme that they place your finishing position on! This was the year of the Pig:

Thanks for Reading,