Monday, March 30, 2015

March 23rd-29th Training

Monday: 8 miles (6:40); 5.5 miles (7:08)

Tuesday: 11.6 miles (7:38). Busy day, could only get in one run

Wednesday: 9.8 miles (6:33); 4.4 miles (7:40).  Legs super worn out the past two days.  I had a workout planned for Thursday, but will delay it a day.

Thursday: 10.1 miles (6:20)

Friday: 5.4 miles (7:17); 10.6 miles moderate hilly progression (5:45). Nothing too structured, just started a little faster than a normal run and worked into it. 5:57 pace at 5.3 miles, so I had a nice negative split. Lots of long grinders the first eight miles and then some nasty hills the last couple of miles.  1230 ft. of elevation gain, which is a lot for a sissy hill runner, like me. But overall, it felt pretty smooth and I was happy with the outcome.

Saturday: 6.9 miles (7:03); 3.4 miles (7:29)

Sunday: 20 miles (6:25). Legs felt good for the first 8-9 miles and hit halfway at 6:25 pace.  Then my hip flexors started aching, which only got worse.  I debated turning around a little bit early but knew if I did, I would't head out the door again and I felt running on really tired legs would be a good stimulus for the CMM in four weeks. Pretty worn out afterwards and not ashamed to admit I soaked in a hot bath afterward. There were no bubbles, though.

Week Total: 95.7 miles. Decent week, other than my legs feeling like crap the middle portion of it and then struggling on the long run.  I was a little frustrated that I was feeling so worn out.  But then I realized that I was an idiot and should feel like crap because I missed so much time and in three weeks, jumped into two 5ks, two long runs, a moderate progression, a moderate half-marathon, a shortish fartlek and another semi-moderate run.  In another couple of weeks, I should be feeling much better.

I'm off on Spring Break this next week, so I should be able to get in some extra sleep and get in some controlled quality.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 16th-22nd Training

Monday: 5.3 miles (6:45); 4.9 miles (7:31)

Tuesday: 5.3 miles (7:00ish); 5.7 miles (7:37)

Wednesday: 3.6 miles (6:51); 7 miles (6:39)

Thursday: 8 miles with 8x .15 miles on/ .35 miles off.  I like to run this workout as a race tune-up or if I'm working my way towards more structured work.  Ran the fast part just under 4:30ish average and about 5:50 for the four miles; 6.6 miles (6:57)

Friday: 5.3 miles (6:49)

Saturday: 8.5 miles with 5k in 15:11. Plan was to attempt to break the record of 14:57 since I busted my phone and could use the cash.  Never felt good from the get-go and legs didn't want to run fast.  Splits of 4:51, 4:55, 4:55.  I could have broken 15 if I hammered but don't know if I could have run 14:56 alone.  Ran this about 15s slower than last year, but I went out in 4:35 then; 3.4 miles (7:39)

Sunday: 16 miles (6:17). Good long run.  Eased into it and ran down a rolling road I don't venture over too that much. I felt really good on the run but a little worn out at the end, so it was probably the perfect distance for where I'm at in training right now.

Week Total: 79.6 miles. Felt a little worn out and banged up this week.  Legs were achy most of the week and my right knee was really stiff for a few days.  Normally when you train hard, you're both absorbing the training from a couple of weeks ago but getting broken down from the current training.  Since I had a few weeks of down time, I went from a state of major detraining to adding stress with the current training, so I'm constantly getting a little worn out.  In another week or two, I should get a nice fitness boost as I start to absorb some of the training but until then, I'll try to keep the brakes on as much as possible.

This week should bring 90-100 miles with a moderate workout and long run.  No real races for quite some time.

Four weeks until Boston and I have a couple of people that I coach racing it.  I'm looking forward to seeing how they do and they should be prepared with all the long, extensive hill work, "assertive" downhills and varied-paced workouts they've done in training.  It's the type of course you have to train for, rather than just train for the distance.  As the old saying goes, "if you're training for Boston on the track, you're off track."  (I really just made that up).

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tom King 5k

The Tom King Half-Marathon is my favorite Nashville half-marathon.  With over 30,000 runners, the Country Music Half is a ton larger but Tom King is more of a runners race and most of the Nasvhille area runners come out for this one.  And it's flat and mostly out-and-back...my kind of course.



Two days before the race, we had ice and four inches of snow. That may not sound like much but before that point, we hadn't broken an inch of snow in over four years. Oh, it would snow EVERYWHERE outside the Nashville area but we would always get jipped.

That seriously constantly happens to us

Most of Tom King is on a greenway with a lot of tree cover.  And since the course is out-and-back, the greenway can get somewhat crowded.  Unsurprisingly, the race was cancelled and all the runners and prize money was moved to the 5k. While a lot of people were upset about this, I was pumped. No way was I going to try run a half-marathon when I was way out of shape and had a bum hamstring. But try and limp through a 5k for some money? Now, that's something I can get behind. So on Friday, I coughed up some cash for a deep massage in hopes the investment would pay off.

Before my injury, the plan was to pace Connor Kamm and Josh Whitehead under 65 minutes. Obviously, that now wasn't going to happen since there was no half-marathon. While Connor was out of town, Josh was still coming up to race.

The morning of the race, I have no problem admitting I was a chump by checking the road conditions of I-65N from Huntsville.  I was secretly hoping the interstate would be icy so Josh wouldn't be able to come up. But the roads were clear and we were headed towards a showdown.

I warmed up with Josh for a couple of miles before the race and even did a few strides without pain.  I didn't know if that meant my hamstring was better or if it was a result of the three Aleve and ton of sports cream I put on it (99.99% of the time, I'm anti-inflammatory when it comes to running issues).

Once we got to the line, I got a chance to see who else was out there and then solidify my strategy. Josh was still easily the favorite in my eyes and I wasn't going to worry about running with him. Since they traditionally start really fast, I expected Ben Li and Abdusalam Koko to take off and my plan was to let them soften each other up and then go for them the second half of the race.  But since Ben is training for the mile, the earlier I could take him out, the better.

Watch out for this guy's kick

When the race started, Ben took off with me and Josh right on his heels.  I jokingly asked him to scoot over a little bit to the right so he could block the wind for me and he did. Glad he's such a nice guy.  After a couple of minutes, I found myself in the lead with Josh right beside me.  I was a little scared to lead so early but it "felt" like 5k effort, so I went along with it. The first mile is a loop around LP Field and Josh and I went through it just under 4:40.  I was surprised because I was expecting it to be closer to the 4:50 range.  And it may have been my first sub 4:50 mile in almost a year.




I continued to press the pace, with Josh now beside me. I was feeling good but was a little nervous because I was so far removed from anything resembling a 5k workout. Whether or not you're in shape for a specific distance, the initial pace feels the same.  But when you're in actual shape for that distance, your "death" is much slower and you can hold your hand to the fire much longer. I definitely was at risk for getting burned here. But I was already over halfway through the race and was hoping if I didn't beat Josh, my marathon gas tank would let me burn out the other guys first.



Shortly before two miles, you make a 180 degree turn.  I hate those things because I always lose more time than other people because I'm terrible at changing rhythm. It also gave me a chance to see the race going on behind me. Koko was probably about 10 seconds back and Chris Duncan was just behind him, with Ben a little back in 4th. We went through the second mile in 4:19.  No, not a real 4:19.  Even though the first two miles of the "new" course were on the older certified course, the second mile mark has always been off, with the last mile a little long.

I had a tiny lead at this point and since we were running down a long straight with a headwind, I started to push the pace pretty hard. Josh is 115 lbs., soaking wet, so I didn't want him taking advantage of my post-injury width and be able to draft off me a little bit.

Over the next half mile, I slowly chipped away and with a couple minutes left to go, I backed off a hair in case I needed to turn on the rocket boosters for a final assault.  I ended up with the win in 14:56 with Josh finishing in 15:04.  Chris Duncan had a really good race to finish in 15:34 and Ben was not too far behind in 15:48.  One of my favorite moments was when I turned around to watch the runners coming in and saw Hunter Hall and his 100% slow-twitch self turn on the jets to out kick several guys and take 5th in 15:54.  Gas tank and guts over speed!

It was a great day of racing for me.  I honestly expected myself to run 15:15-15:30, so I'll gladly take a windy 14:56, albeit a flat course. I feel that I can be in sub 14 shape in 4-6 weeks and hopefully continue to make my assault on sub 63 minutes for the half this spring.




Monday, March 16, 2015

March 9th-15th Training

Monday: 4.6 miles (6:57); 5.5 miles (8:12)

Tuesday: No running. Have run the last seven days and want to play it safe

Wednesday: 10.1 miles with 8 miles moderate. Averaged 5:48 for the moderate part. This was my longest run in almost a month and when you go from doing your last consistent training in low temperatures to upper 50s, it feels pretty hot.  The pace felt slow but the effort was ok....I could tell I'm really rusty and out of shape.  I didn't try to run a certain pace, I just ran.

Thursday: No running. Went to bed before 6pm last night with a killer migraine and didn't get out of bed until after 10am the next morning.  Since I was getting sick all night, I figured it'd be dumb to jog. See what happens when you try a moderate session after a few weeks off?

Friday: 5.3 miles (6:47); 7 treadmill miles (6:30ish)

Saturday: 8 miles with 4xpick-ups (6:41)

Sunday: 15.5 miles with half-marathon in 72:40. I knew I was dumb for trying this a little over a week removed from a bum hammy but kids are expensive. My goal was to run as moderately as possible with hopes of top three.  I ran with the top two guys for almost five miles and we were clicking off 5:10s over rolling hills.  It felt rusty from the first mile and I knew if I ran all-out, I'd probably get third or I could slow down and get third.  I decided to put on the brakes and ran in the 5:40 range the rest of the way to seal third by a little over thirty seconds.  Quads were really achy afterward so I didn't even attempt a cool-down. Granted, I didn't run very hard but I wish that kind of effort would have felt a little easier.

Week Total: 56 miles. Not a bad week after the four weeks before this.  I was hoping to get between 50-60 miles and with two days off, it has to be considered a decent week.  I figure my body will be in a lag for another couple of weeks as it tries to recover from and adapt to the training.  This week, I'll boost up the mileage some more and jump in a 5k this weekend. In 3-4 weeks, I should be rolling pretty well. At least the hamstring is 100%


Saturday, March 14, 2015

US Marathon Championships Predictions

While the Gate River showdown is going to be exciting, the US Marathon Championship is what I'm really looking forward to. There are a lot of question marks about the race and guys looking to breakthrough to the next level.  And in the marathon, anything can happen.

The marathon in LA is going to be warm and rolling.  Some people are freaking out about the heat but I really don't believe it will be too much of an issue.  Race time temps should be around 60 degrees, with a very low dew point.  But even with the moderate temperatures, if someone goes out a little bit over their head, it will come back for them later.

One interesting factor in the race is that while it's the US Championships, there are also some insanely fast foreigners in the field. And those other fast runners will definitely change the dynamics of the race.  In a US only field, someone could break away and have it be a huge gamble since they would be all alone.  But in this race, the "leader" could have help from foreign runners.  If the US race was run separately, the results could look drastically different than what they will be on Sunday. So that will make the race more tactical and interesting to watch.

What I feel will affect the runners more than the weather is the nature of the course.  Los Angeles is a net downhill that also has a lot of climbing as well. Almost like a less glorified and not as extreme, Boston Marathon course.  .

So a big issue in this race will be who has specifically prepared not only for the marathon distance, but for nature of the course.  You can't build LA Marathon specific marathon fitness on the track or flat roads.  Looking at the NAZ Elite's logs, it seems they've placed a huge focus on being prepared for this course, which is going to pay dividends.  There's not a lot of training info out on the other guys, so the picks are more of a gamble.

Trying to figure out the top 10 and especially the top five resulted in nothing but headaches.  I've had Ryan Hall, Matt Llano, Scott Smith, Daniel Tapia and Jared Ward all winning the thing at one point. Or, if LA somehow had a major earthquake and debris was strewn everywhere, I had Max King winning the show.  You always hear that you should go with your gut instinct, but I really don't know what it was.  So this could be completely off, but I'll give it the old college try.

1. Matt Llano: I originally had Jared Ward winning but decided to switch.  I feel that the NAZ Elite group is going to be very well prepared for this race and it will show. This is Llano's second attempt at the marathon.  He had hopes of a 2:10 at Chicago last fall, but he struggled home in 2:17.  I'm sure he hated life for a while after that but it's good to completely fall apart in the marathon.  It teaches you to be more patient, reassess your tactics and training and to make a better go at it next time.  He ran a decent half-marathon two months ago at the US Championships (62:22) and his training looks on-point for this one.  I saw one workout he did where his training partner was going too hard and instead of going with him, he stuck back and did his own thing. That's the kind of patience and will-power you need to perform in a race like this weekend.

2. Jared Ward: A lot of people were pumped about Diego Estrada's Houston Half-Marathon performance, where he ran a 60:51.  I was as equally impressed by Jared Ward's 61:42 because I feel he's better suited to the marathon distance than Estrada. This will be Ward's third marathon and in his last one, he finished 2nd at the US Marathon Championships in 2:14:00. In that race, he ran a patient, smart race which will really help out in warmer conditions, on a rolling course, like he's going to face in LA.

3. Ryan Hall: It seems like he has been dubbed the favorite but I don't really see why. Yeah, he has the American Record in the half-marathon, finished fourth at Boston in 2011 and ran 2:06 at London in 2008.  But his last marathon was a 2:17 at Boston last year and his last completed marathon before that was over three years ago.  But to be honest, I really have no idea what he will do.  He's used to fighting for the win in big marathons and if he tries to do that in this race, he will pay for it.  If he runs to win the American Title, he could potentially pull it off. He's always had a mystique about him but there are a lot of hungry guys out there who smell blood. But if I miss the race and hear the winner of the American race ran 2:09, I'd bet nearly anything it was Ryan Hall.  He will be fun to watch and hopefully he competes well.

4. Daniel Tapia: His last marathon was the 2013 World Championships where he ran  and a few months before that, he executed a perfectly paced/planned Boston Marathon to finish 9th. Five months before that, he won the CIM Marathon in 2:16, which had terrible wind and rain and a tough field. What do Boston and CIM have in common? They are both net downhill courses with constant rollers. And the Los Angeles Marathon fits perfectly into that equation. The last several months, he's been training full time in Mammoth with Andrew Kastor's group.  It seems to be working well as he ran 63:52 at Houston in January. That may not seem too fast for someone competing for a national title but if he beats you in a half, he will destroy you in a marathon.

5. Scott Smith: This guy is starting to perform really well and is due for another big breakthrough soon.  His training log shows the makings of someone who is ready to turn some heads and he also has the best first name in the field.  When he made his big move at the 2014 US Marathon Championships, I thought he was an idiot and would pay for it later. I was the idiot because he finished in third place, running 2:14.  His last marathon before that was a 2:16 at CIM in 2013, which is somewhat of a similar course to LA.  I hate putting him fifth because he's a legit top three threat and I can't see him finishing much lower than this.

6. Sergio Reyes: He seems to be Mr. Consistency in marathons.  He's a smart racer and he always shows up with strong performances in the big races.  He's struggled a couple of times on this course in the past but living outside Los Angeles puts him in good position to train for the course, be perfectly adapted to the weather and have some hometown fan support.  He is a former US Marathon Champion and set his PR of 2:13:34 at the US Championships in 2013.

7. Mike Morgan: It would be dumb not to put a Hanson's runner in here.  It seems like they have both their fans and haters but they know how to train for the marathon and execute their race plans well. Morgan ran under 2:15 twice last year (Chicago and Boston) and should have another great performance this weekend.

8. Scotty Bauhs: Was one of the top distance runners in the US from 2008-2012. In 2012, he ran 13:28 for 5000m and 61:30 for the half-marathon before disappearing for a little while. Last Labor Day, he placed 5th at the New Haven 20k, less than thirty seconds behind the winner (Girma Mecheso) and ahead of guys like Sean Quigley, Fernando Cabada, Matt Llano and Jared Ward. Since he's a first timer, I'm being a little conservative here, especially on a course like LA. If he runs well, he could potentially be a top five guy.

9. Craig Curley: Had a good tune-up at the Houston Half in January (63:31) and is starting to find his gears again.  He recently started being coached by Michael Aish, who has a wealth of distance running knowledge and experience and should have him ready to go.  He set his PR of 2:15:15 at the 2013 US Marathon Championships, held as part of the Twin Cities Marathon and has been competitive on the US road racing circuit for the past several years.

10. Sage Canaday: I decided to have a little bit of fun with this pick.  The guy catches some flak for his videos and promotion but he seems to be a smart guy who knows what works well for him.  I'm somewhat of a closet ultra-fan and I enjoy following their races.  When the race starts, you can catch a nap then do a little bit of yard work and you barely miss anything.  And the the thing I love about it is that a guy can have a huge lead and then absolutely die and then lose not several minutes total but several minutes per mile.  I feel like if the weather gets warmer than expected and the pack goes out a little too quick, Sage can roll some guys up later in the race.  In ultras, the runners deal with more uncertainty and adversity, which I feel will be an advantage for this race. Regardless, if he doesn't get the OTQ here, he will catch some heat but you have to respect him (and Max King) for stepping out of their world for this one.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Gate River Run Predictions

This weekend, there are two National Championships on tap: The 15k, held at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida and the marathon held as part of the Los Angeles Marathon. You can watch the 15k stream here, which starts at 8:20am ET.

The field is insanely deep and Richard Fannin has gone above and beyond his responsibilities to put together a top notch field (again).  While the people competing in the marathon championship are peaked and ready to go, not everyone is on the same fitness page in the 15k .  Some are getting ready for the World Cross Country Championships in a few weeks, while many are coming off fall marathons and using this as the start of the 2015 racing season.  This range in fitness levels makes the race a little more unpredictable, as being off your game just 1-2% can drastically affect your finishing place, especially in a field as deep as this one.

Originally, I was only going to predict the top 5.  But since the field is so deep, I could have looked like a complete idiot as there are 10-15 guys who could finish in the top 5.  So, I'll extend my predictions to the top 10, in hopes I come out looking a little smarter.

Last year, Ben True smoked Chis Derrick in the last mile by dropping a sub 4:15 split to take the 12 second victory.  Everyone figured it would be a two-man race and with Shalane Flanagan having a heck of a head start, the equalizer bonus was out of the question.  So the men's race took their time before they started rolling.

This year, the head start is much smaller and while there is a pretty impressive women's field, there's no Flanagan.  I imagine the men will be a little more antsy at the start in hopes to earn the $5000 equalizer bonus and to burn out Ben True's kick in the process.


1. Ryan Vail: It's always more fun when you pick an upset. The last couple of years, he's been focusing on the marathon and is one of the top threats to make the Olympic marathon team next year. But this spring, it seems like he's shifting his focus to shorter races.  Maybe he wants to work on his closing speed at the Marathon Trials? Who knows really?  Being such a strength-based runner, I look for him to make his move up the Hart Bridge while chasing down as many ladies as possible. Gate River Finishes: 3rd (2013), 5th (2011), 6th (2010)

2. Ben True: He seems to be finding a home away from home on the roads over the last couple of years. And if he won this weekend, it would be his third Gate River victory in a row. If this was a 5k, he could pull a Jason Rexing and run in his heaviest pair of trainers and get the victory.  But this race is three times the distance and has a very competitive field.  It's easy to shake-off one person but he's going to have a small army gunning for him this time (pun intended, due to the WCAP).  Gate River Finishes: 1st (2013, 2014), 2nd (2011)

3. Girma Mecheso: He appears to be pretty fit, based off his 62:16 half-marathon performance in Houston, which earned him a 3rd place finish.  He also has sub 28 10k wheels, which will serve him well.  He started jumping into a lot of road races the second half of last year, which earned him the US 20k Championship on Labor Day, taking out Christo Landry and Luke Puskedra in the process. I look for him to continue his hot streak here. First Gate River. 

4. Christo Landry: This guy has been a machine on the roads over all distances. He had a very busy 2014, racking up US titles in the 10 mile, 25k and 10k race distances. Since his website said he took a few weeks off at the end of the year, he may not be as sharp as some of the other guys.  But I imagine he's probably training pretty hard by now and wants to defend his USARC title.  Gate River Finishes: 2nd (2012), 4th (2014), 5th (2013)

5. Luke Puskedra: He doesn't race as much on the roads as some of the other guys but when he does, he rarely runs a poor race.  He has a great combination of speed and endurance and like most of the guys guys in my predicted top 10, he has excellent range from the 5k to the half-marathon.  For the first time in three years, he didn't run the Houston half. So,  I don't know if that means he's rusty but if shows up remotely in shape, he could make a run at the top three. First Gate River

6. Shadrack Kipchirchir:  Putting him here is a gamble because not only is this his first post-collegiate road race, but he hasn't raced in over nine months.  So some of you reading this may have become pregnant after his last race and are already changing your baby's diapers by now.  But supposedly he's training pretty hard for this one and his WCAP teammates and training partners should be hungry for the team title.  Last year, he was second at the NCAA 10,000m, and owns a PR of 27:36 in that event.

7. Sean Quigley: Ran an impressive 2:13 at the Fuokoka Marathon to close out 2014 after winning a National Championships at the Bix 7.  He had the latest fall marathon of the bunch, so he may have a little more rust than most.  But he has run really well in the past here.  So look for him to net another top 10 finish here and also, have the first beard across the finish line.  Gate River Finishers: 4th (2013), 8th (2014)

8. Donn Cabral: Known for his steeplechase prowess (8:19 PR) and also has one of the faster 5000m PR's in the field (13:22).  He hasn't dabbed on the roads very often but he recently had an excellent tune-up race at the World's Best 10k, where he finished a few seconds behind Ben True. He's also my dark horse pick to have the fastest last mile split.  Gate River Finishers: 10th (2013)

9. Aron Rono: Another WCAP athlete and it really bugs me his name only has one "A" in it.  He has the fastest 10,000m PR in the field with a 27:31 (2011) and ran 62:25 at Houston a couple of months ago.

10. Tyler Pennel: The 2014 US Marathon Champion, who also was runner-up at the US 10k Championships a few months prior.  His new found marathon strength should match-up  well with his natural speed.  He had a little bit of an achilles issue at the start of the year, but seems to be training well right now. Gate River Finishes: 9th (2013), 11th (2014)

Team Title: Oklahoma State Alumni Team (Ryan Vail, Girma Mecheso, Shadrack Kipchirchir) WCAP (Aron Rono, Shadrack Kipchirchir, Paul Chelimo, Augustus Maiyo).  Zap Fitness (Tyler Pennel, Griff Graves, Joe Stilin) could give them a run but the WCAP team has four runners (opposed to Zap's three), which gives them a mulligan.  And would you really bet against the US Army in anything battle related?



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Future Training/Racing Plans

At the start of 2015, I was pretty set in my plans.  I was training for the Grandma's Marathon in June and I was ready to try and smoke some fools.  I haven't had a peak race since the 2014 Houston Marathon, so I was ready to make a statement. Right when things started to go well,  I was sidelined by a bad bum hamstring, which went on for almost four weeks.


Since I wasn't in great shape before the injury, the four weeks of downtime resulted in me losing a lot of fitness.  I was hoping to be in sub 65 half-marathon shape at a minimum by now, but I'm a good bit behind that.  If I had a "real" fall racing season last year or even a good spring racing season before that, I'd debate going on. But I can count on one hand the number of fast workouts I've done in the past year.  So I feel I'm pretty underdeveloped on that aspect and I'm not sure if I can get marathon fit in 3.5 months.


My main running goal is to get under 2:15 in the marathon before the Trials.  I don't have any big Trials goals other than random ones, like trying to beat all of the other Scott's in the field (no easy task), trying to lay a whooping on the other P.E. teacher in the race and it'd be nice to sneak into the top 15 if I run really well.

Right now, I'm looking at three different options.  And since I'm self-coached, I try to be pretty analytical about my decisions so I can look at it from all angles and make the best overall decision.


Option #1: Move forward as originally planned and peak for the Grandma's Marathon in June

Pros

  • I get a marathon race out of the way and have plenty of time to build up for the Trials.
  • I know and like the Grandma's Course.
  • Tyler Andrews and I talked about going out in the 67:00 range, so I'd have some company for most of it.
  • I'll have no school for the last four weeks of training.
Cons
  • I'll have to shorten my marathon cycle and hope I can get somewhat fit before I start it. 
  • Since I missed so much time, I would have to use a lot of guesswork in training to try and get where I need to be, instead of doing a mostly traditional build-up.
  • Since it would be a rushed build-up, I wouldn't have any time for extended sickness, little injury niggles, etc.
  • The marathon starts 1.5 hours later than the half, so weather is a potential issue (even though it's usually pretty decent).


Option #2: Start my training over and do a long build-up for the Chicago Marathon in October

Pros
  • I can ease into training and have a lot of time to work on each aspect of my fitness.
  • Chicago is the perfect course for me (dead flat) and the weather has been good the last couple of years.  
  • Chicago has been a bucket list race for me and one I've always wanted to do in really good shape.
  • There's a lot of good races in August and September, full of guys who would smoke me.
  • Connor Kamm is staying in Nashville this summer and is open to running Chicago, so I could get in some good training with him.
  • I feel I can be more marathon fit in October than in June.
  • Chicago has some pretty good incentive money.

Cons
  • I have to train intensely over the summer.  Even though I won't be in school, it's freaking hot and humid during the summer.  And I don't want to hear from the Boulder hippies about how it gets hot over there too.  Compare the dew points, my friends. 
  • I'll go a little under two years without a peak race.  That's a long time.
  • With such a long build-up, you can get stale.  And by starting my speed workouts around May, I will be very far removed from consistent hard workouts, so it'll be tricky to find the balance leading up to it. 
  • Marathon training will start at the beginning of the school year.  I'll be going from a lot of sitting to being on my feet all day, which will be an added stressor for a few weeks.  Along with the reduction in sleep. 
  • I'll have to start over training. Again. 
Neutral
  • Chicago is just four months before the Trials.  Normally this would be a big con but you can't just look at the future, you have to look at where you are coming into the race.  I would have gone 21 months without a marathon race, so I will have much less battle damage and will come in more "marathon fresh" than if I stuck on the 1-2 marathons a year plan. 

Option #3:  I randomly thought of this a few days ago when I was laying in bed debating whether to get up early and hope for a nap later or to fall back asleep.  Thanks a lot daylight savings time.  But the option is to make a hybrid of the two plans and peak for Grandma's Half (technically it's the Garry Bjorksomething Half), take a 2-3 week mini downtime/base phase and jump into a few weeks of speed workouts before starting a marathon-specific cycle for Chicago.


Pros (other than what's listed above)
  • I can get out and compete this spring rather than sit on the sidelines (and also make a little bit of money)
  • Getting in half-marathon shape takes less time than marathon shape.
  • I can attack my half-marathon PR (I figure Houston next year could be my last chance) and see if I can run under 63 minutes.
  • I can spend a good 10+ weeks working on my speed, which is something I really need to work on.  I'm always somewhat marathon fit and transition very well to longer workouts and steady runs but my body hasn't consistently had that intense "hurt" in a while.
  • I can get in a "mini" season before starting my build-up, rather than starting from scratch.
  • Racing a half won't beat me up as much as a full, so I will be in great shape 3.5 months out from Chicago and since I'll already be developed on that end, I'll only need to maintain the intensity, rather than increase fitness, which sounds more appealing in the swampy summer. 
  • Racing a half in 60 degree weather isn't too bad but it would wreck a marathon (assuming the weather isn't ideal). 
Cons (other than what's listed above)
  • Jumping into workouts too early could result in another injury
Right now, I'm leaning towards option #3 and will test the waters a bit by jumping into some races and seeing how they go.  Between the races, I'll do easier mileage along with some moderate workouts and lower-volume higher intensity stuff.

However, I really won't know which route I'll take until after the Country Music Marathon.  I'll race that race flat-out if I have to, which would definitely have a great impact on my training/racing plans.

I'm also debating going to altitude or somewhere for a few weeks over the summer. Flagstaff would be my first choice and I wouldn't mind Boulder, even though it's a couple thousand feet lower. It'd be relatively easy on my own, but it's much harder to find a place when I'm bringing along my wife and a couple of kids.

Yeah, altitude can be a crapshoot, depending on whether you're a responder or not but it'd be a good escape from the heat and it would be cool, as well as eye-opening to get in a little bit of group training somewhere.