Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 20th-26th Training

Monday: 8 miles (7:02); 5.6 miles (7:10)

Tuesday: 7.4 miles (6:43); 6.7 miles with a few strides (6:57)

Wednesday: 4.6 miles (6:56); 9.2 miles (6:27) with 4 miles of 2:00 on/off.  My plan was to get in a semi-workout without stressing my body too much.  I haven't had a quality session since Sunday and haven't had any fast running since last Friday, so I wanted something in before Hood to Coast.  My goal was to start a bit faster than half marathon effort and work down to just faster than 10k effort.  Ended up with six "fast" sections and averaged: 5:26, 4:55, 4:55, 4:35, 4:28,  4:40. The first three had some good climbs, and the last three gave me some downhills.  Felt great.

Thursday: 4.8 miles (7:25)

Friday: 4 miles (7:41); 2.4 miles of warming up/short cooldown after my first leg; 6.96 miles (4:56). Weather sign said 72. Warmed up well for this one and got moving a little too quickly, so I caught myself and backed off. Felt really relaxed and ran almost entirely down a greenway. Portions of it were on dirt, and my shoes were causing me to slip some, so I ran on the grass when I could. Backed off a bit the last 1-1.5 miles to save up for legs two and three. After finishing this one, I started feeling sick and feverish, which only became worse throughout the night.

Saturday: 5 miles (4:56) Weather was probably lower 60s. No warm-up at all for this one. The BAC guy had about 1.5-2 minutes on me, so I took off trying to catch him. Caught myself running too hard, so I backed off that third mile. The conditions were terrible for this one. It took place down a gravel road, in the middle of nowhere. Several times throughout the run, there was not a runner or van in sight, which was the equivalent of running through a fog machine, due to all the dirt/dust in the air. I could feel it caking on my teeth and ran off the road a couple of times and did a lot of zig-zagging. Unfortunately, I beat our van by about six minutes, so we lost a lot of time. This could have been a lot faster and it was definitely the easiest feeling leg, but I was limited in my speed due to visibility; 7.72 miles (5:03) Weather was probably lower 50s. Didn't warm-up at all and when I started, all I wanted to do was lay down in a ditch and sleep. I knew if I could run 5:05s that I would average sub 5:00 for my legs, but I figured I'd only be able to run 5:10s on this. After the 5:08, I kept in the groove and wanted to knock out that 5:05. With 1.5 miles to go or so, I started getting some dry heave type pains but it never became too big of an issue. Finished up without killing myself and was glad to be done running. Course has some bigger hills in the beginning but turned into small rolling ones later on. This was the prettiest leg of the day for me, but I was too much of a zombie to appreciate it.

Sunday: No Running.  Went to bed early because I felt really feverish and woke up with a bad headache and threw up a lot.  Later in the afternoon, I started feeling like death with severe chills, stabbing ear pain and a blazing hot forehead.

Week Total= 72.4 miles.  A bit lower than I wanted but that was with a day off and lack or warm-ups/cool-downs during my races.  I'm really happy with my overall average at Hood to Coast.  I was hoping to average around 5:05-5:10, so sub 5:00 is motivating, especially with a beat up immune system.  I feel like I am close to 65:00 half marathon shape (fast course, good weather) but on another note, I feel like I'm still pretty raw right now and haven't done the work to make me really fit yet.  I was hoping to start marathon training this week since there is only eight weeks to go, but this sickness is whooping me.  You need to start something when you are ready, not when the schedule tells you to. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hood to Coast Relay

Ever since reading it about it in Runner's World magazine when I was in high school, I've always wanted to run to run the Hood to Coast Relay.  The relay starts at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and runs through Oregon, until it reaches Seaside, OR, which is 200 miles away.  Each team has 12 members, with each member running three legs of varying lengths.

Earlier this summer, Stewart Ellington, from the Knoxville Track Club asked if I was interested in joining their team and with a quick approval from Mary and over 20,000 miles left on my Southwest Card, I booked my flight and was looking forward to the trip.  Since I didn't have a fall half-marathon race scheduled, I figured this would be a good, solid fitness test before I begin my marathon-specific cycle.

One of my biggest worries was which legs I would be given.  Since I am finishing up my "speed" phase, I feel I'm pretty well-rounded in most areas and distances.  However, I've always been a really bad uphill runner and am somewhat struggling with an off-and-on issue in my left patella tendon and have some pain in my right groin.  I'm pretty sure they are somehow related and are probably due to a muscle imbalance, that I've been too lazy to fix.

I spent some time researching the different leg combinations, and was really hoping that I wouldn't have leg one or two, which is literally down a mountain.  Leg one drops over 2,000 ft. in 5.6 miles, and most guys can run that leg in an average time that isn't much slower than their mile time.  I was also really hoping that I wouldn't get legs 5, 17, and 29.  Two of those legs have a ton of climbing and overall, I feel they are the hardest overall legs someone can have.  A few days later, leg assignments were given, and I ended up with the dreaded legs 5, 17 and 21.

Leg 5-500 feet of gain over the last three miles
Leg 17-That's my kind of leg!
Leg 29-Over 500 feet in about three miles, followd by a screaming downhill
I was a little bit bummed but was going to do my best to prepare for the hills.  I did my easier runs on some hillier routes and was going to incorporate some uphill progression runs and maybe even a little bit of strength work.  Unfortunately, my knee was becoming worse and I knew if I continued to focus on the hills, it could get to the point where I wouldn't be able to run at all.  I ended up switching legs with Nick End, who is a 2:19 marathoner, so it all worked out.  My new assignments were legs 9, 21 and 33.  The legs had the longest total volume of all the legs (19.76 miles) and with most of it being run on flat courses, I felt like I would be able to run really well and would be able to help out the team.

Leg 9- Long gentle kind of leg!

Leg 21-Yeah Baby!

Leg 33: A lot of rolling, but at least it's the last leg

After just a few hours of sleep, I flew out of Nashville and was on my way to Portland.  I had a short layover in Las Vegas, followed by a quick stop in Reno, NV.  Reno was one of my top five cities I wanted to move to before dating Mary, so it was cool to see the city (from the window of an airplane). Some of the guys traveled in their team uniform, but I wasn't brave enough.

I got to the airport before any of my teammates and ran into my old friend Lauren, who I knew from back in the South Carolina high school running days, and haven't seen in about 10 years.  I also ran into David Riddle, who I ran with for a few miles during the 2010 Rocket City Marathon and who is also one of the top ultra marathon and trail runners in the country right now.

After getting to the hotel, I took a short nap and eventually, I met up with most of my teammates, and we went on a short run before heading to dinner.  My roommate for the night was Paul Davis, who is friend's with and lives in the same city as my friend Kameron.  They live in Boise, ID, which was my top pick to move to back in the day (and still is my top pick).  Being in Oregon (which was also one of my top picks), seeing Reno and rooming with a guy from Boise reminded of my desire to move out West.  Mary and I debated moving a few years ago and will eventually down the road, but for now, we are staying put in Hendersonville.

After waking up and doing a short run with Paul (can't let my miles drop too much), I ate breakfast and we were on our way to Mt. Hood.  On the drive up, I noticed my eyes were starting to ache, I had a squeezing pain in my head and my body was starting to get pretty achey.  I had these same feelings in Minnesota at the USA Half-Marathon Championships, so I figured it was due to allergies.  I bought some Zyrtec at one of our stops and was hoping it would knock the issues out.

After a couple of hours, we finally got to the mountain and walked around while we waited for the 3:15 start.  I ran into some of my friends from the Hendersonville Running Club and watched them start their race.  There were a lot of vendors out, so I was able to snag some Monster energy drinks, some Powerbars and Swiftwick even showed up and I got a pair of their 12s. Free stuff is always good stuff!  We then took a few team pictures and watched Elijah start the first leg.

On paper, we were seeded second behind Toyo University.  Toyo won the Ekiden Relay in Japan, which is a huge deal.  Nike paid for some of their teammates to run the race and they were the overwhelming favorites to win.  For the past couple of years, our team has battled with the Nike sponsored, Bowerman Athletic Club (BAC), so I was looking forward to that battle.

Toyo was alone from the get-go and their first leg ran the first mile of the course in 3:50 (huge downhill.)  Over the next few legs, we went back and forth with them and when Stewart started leg 7, I ran a couple of miles with Brad to loosen up.  Brad got the stick with a  nice lead and was able to hold off former Olympian and 13:16 runner, Jon Riley.

My first leg was 6.95 miles, which included 5.5 miles down a greenway.  It was a slight net downhill and I knew I could get rolling pretty quickly if I wasn't careful. Because it was after 7pm, I was reqired to wear a reflective vest, a blinker on the front and back and a headlamp.  I've never run with a headlamp before and the thought of running with one bouncing up-and-down on my head drove me crazy.  Joana Riddick, from the HRC, said she ran with hers over her stomach last year, so I decided to try it that way.  It seemed secure, so I went to the exchange zone to get ready.

After knocking out a few strides and leg swings, Brad came running down the hill and handed off the slap bracelet.  After a couple of minutes running, I checked my GPS and saw that I was running close to 4:40 pace.  I put on the brakes and settled into the 5:00 range.  After a few minutes, I turned onto the greenway, which consisted primarily of crushed gravel.  The surface was making me slip on my push-off, so I decided to run on the grass, beside the trail.  I was locked into my rhythm and feeling pretty smooth.  I would  pass the occasional runner but everyone seemed really strung out.  After a couple of miles, part of my headlamp (well, waistlamp) became detached, so I yanked it off and carried it in my hand.

After a few miles, the greenway finally turned into pavement, which made things much easier.  I was clicking off the sub 5:00 miles and feeling pretty strong.  After a while, I started to get a little bit bored and to pass the time, I would only allow myself to check my GPS whenever I passed someone.

I ended up passing the bracelet to Paul Davis, with a 2:00+ lead over the BAC and had to jump into the van so we could drop Chris Rapp off in time for his leg. I ended up running 6.96 miles at a 4:55 average. The effort was pretty controlled, but I was feeling pretty feverish when I got done.  I didn't have any appetite, but I was able to drink a recovery drink and cram down a few mini Snickers so I could get in some calories. 

I knew I had several hours until I ran again, so I tried to get some rest but I ended up getting caught up in our back-and-forth battle with the BAC, with Toyo University way ahead.  After a few more hours, we lost cell phone reception, which was actually a good thing, because it forced me to try and catch some sleep.  We stopped at some fairgrounds for a little bit over an hour and there were tons of people sleeping outside in sleeping bags.  It was probably close to 50 degrees, so I did my best to try and sleep in the van, which probably resulted in about 15 minutes of shut-eye.  Just as I was getting settled, it was time to go and only about an hour before my next leg.

At this point, I felt like complete crap.  I could tell the sickness was creeping in and was doubting how I would run during my second leg.  When we got to my exchange zone, I had about 20 minutes to relax, and while I wasn't feeling like warming-up, I walked around for a while.

While it was a little over 70 degrees for my first leg, this leg felt a good bit colder.  The course was a net downhill, down a gravel mountain road in the middle of nowhere. The race website suggested that people on this leg should wear a mask or banadana over their mouth because of the insane amount of dirt in the air.  Since I couldn't find Galen Rupp to borrow his mask, I decided to run "normally."

When I got going, the BAC had a little bit over a minute lead.  I put a good amount of distance on their guy on my first leg, so I was hoping to close the gap.  I  got a little too amped up and I covered the first two miles in 9:43.  I slowed down the pace to just under 5:00 and tried to hang out there.

During the daylight, this would have been my easiest leg, bar-none.  However, with the other vans driving by, combined with the bright headlamp, it felt like I was running through a fog machine.  When a van would drove by or when I would see a runner in the distance, I would be able to find the road and run somewhat smoothly.  Whenever I was "alone", I couldn't see at all and ended up running off the edge of the road a few times.

After getting a few miles into my leg, I noticed that our team van still had not passed me.  I was starting to get nervous and once I got to the "finish", Paul was nowhere in site.  I knew that put the nail in the coffin in our race against the BAC and around six minutes later, our van showed up.

I was surprised with how well I felt during this leg and felt like I could have run a few seconds faster per mile but was maxed out in my speed because I couldn't see where I was going.  I ended up averaging 4:56 for five miles and with two legs down, I was looking forward to finishing.  I was also looking forward to getting all of the dirty off my face and out of my mouth and teeth.  That leg made my skin about 10 shades darker.

I don't remember much about the next few hours, except for a lot of laying down and unsuccessful attempts at sleep.  I was insanely tired at this point and just wanted to be done.  Before this race, I felt like the volume of racing would  be the hardest part of the relay.  However, it was much more mentally tiring, then physically.  My next leg was 7.72 miles over some rolling hills, which would be my hardest asssigment of the weekend.

The weather dropped another 10 degrees or so and it was much better than the normal 75 degrees and high humidity that it typically is at 7am in Hendersonville.  Looking at the times people have run in the past on this leg, I was hoping to run under 5:10 pace.  However, if I ran 5:05s, it would put my individual relay average under 5:00, which would be a good motivator.  My leg started on a long hill, followed by a downhill.  The first mile wasn't too bad but the second mile was much more difficult and was my slowest mile of the day, with a 5:18.

This was definitely the prettiest leg of the day and took place alone side a lake, with plenty of green trees around.  I had a huge desire to stop and take a nap on the side of the road but I decided to pick up the pace and run harder so I could be finished sooner.  I really started clicking off the miles and was surprised that I was able to run right around 5:00 pace.

Once I hit seven miles on my GPS, I was really looking forward to the end but unfortunately, the last part took place on a hill. I finished the 7.72 mile leg at a 5:03 average and handed off the bracelet to Paul, went straight to the van and laid down.  After dropping off Chris Kane for his final leg, we parked our vans at one of our beach houses and walked to the finish line to see him finish.  He finally came around the final turn and we ended up finishing in 3rd place overall.

Overall, it was a really fun experience.  I spent the next day getting really sick and had a high fever the next day, which lasted until Monday. Before this race, I was hoping to average between 5:05-5:10 for my overall pace, so running a sub 5:00 average is a huge motivator going into marathon training.  The trip was mentally and physically draining, but it was a ton of fun and I'm glad I was able to run with the Knoxville Track Club guys and meet some other cool guys as well.  I just wish I didn't get sick, so I could have had some more fun after the race.

I don't know if I'll run this year again, being that it was more of a bucket list type of thing, but I really enjoyed being in Oregon and hope to one day live out this way.

Knoxville Track Club Hood to Coast Team: Jason Altman, Stewart Ellington, Elijah Shekinah, Kyle Stanton, Brent Johnson, Nick End, Ethan Coffey, Brad Adams, Scott Wietecha, Paul Davis, Chris Rapp and Chris Kane with drivers Catherine Lasswell and Herb Gengler

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 13th-19th Training

Monday: 9.1 miles (6:26); 7.4 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:13)

Tuesday: 14.2 miles with 3 miles (3:00 jog), 2.5 miles (3:00 jog), 2 miles.  My goal was to run 5:10, 5:05, 5:00 pace for the three intervals.  I ended up running 15:30 (5:12, 5:10, 5:08), 12:38 (5:01, 5:03, 2:34), 9:58 (4:58, 5:00.)  I felt really flat on the three mile, and was debating axing the workout but I decided to at least finish the first interval.  I thought I'd nearly have to race the 2.5 mile if I wanted to hit my time, but it felt pretty easy.  The last section felt even better.  I guess the mileage is just making me take longer to warm-up.  This went from what I thought was going to be a crappy workout to a decent one.  I ended up calling this miles instead of meters because there were benches on both straightaways, as well as volleyball players jumping rope on the track and running intervals, so I had to do a lot of zig-zagging.  I figure all of it added up to at least 9.3 meters per 1600m; 5.4 miles (7:08)

Wednesday: 9.5 miles (6:47); 6.1 miles (7:21)

Thursday: 5.7 miles (7:23); No afternoon run because Mary is sick with food poisoning and I had to play doctor, as well as Superdad.  I debated pushing Kate in the jogging stroller for a few miles, but I didn't want any of that.

Friday: 5.7 miles (7:29); 12.8 miles with 16x200m with 200m jog.  This was the session I had planned for yesterday evening.  I wanted some quick turnover, but nothing that would tire me out.  I was looking at these as slightly longer and faster strides, rather than a traditional interval workout.  Ran a 30, a 32 and the rest were 31s.  Felt nice and relaxed.

Saturday: 9.6 miles (6:58); 5.4 miles (7:27)

Sunday: 18.3 miles (5:54) with 16 miles moderate (5:42).   I was hoping to average 5:45-5:50 for the faster portion of the run, so I'm really pleased with how it went.  I felt like crap yesterday and didn't know how I'd run in this.  Felt a bit herky-jerky for the first few miles and then worked into the 5:40s a few miles in. Gradually felt better and better and the last four miles, I ran 5:32 for my slowest mile and 5:16 for the last.  Effort felt really relaxed and rather than being tired at the end, I felt more warmed up. I feel like if I could have turned down the temperature 25 degrees, and had a race-like environment, I could have run at least under 2:22.  Ran this on an empty stomach (except for coffee) and didn't take a water break; 4.1 miles (7:36)

Week total=113.3 miles.  If I would have been able to run Thursday afternoon, this would have been my heaviest week ever. I'm running Hood to Coast this weekend, so I'll probably ramp down the mileage this week so I'm a little rested going into it, and then will have to take it easy for at least 2-3 days afterward.  My three legs total just over 20 miles, so I'm sure it will put a whooping on me. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trail Race Debut

I've always loved racing on the roads.  You have a smooth, hard surface that gives back a lot of energy return.  You can usually see what's lies ahead and with the mile markers, you get a constant reminder of where you are, how much you have left and what kind of pace you're running.  On the trails, it's a different story.  There really are no mile markers, all the trees make your GPS pretty much worthless, so you have no idea on your speed and you are constantly changing gears and never have a real opportunity to zone in on your rhythm and grind away.

However, the lower "pressure" and structure of a trail race sounded like a fun off-season race, so I decided to sign up for the Still Hollow Half-Marathon in Chattanooga on August 4th.  I've heard a lot of good things about the Rock Creek trail races, so I was looking forward to it.  Well, not completely.  I do at least 99.99% of my training on the roads, am the king of locking into a rhythm and have trouble with sudden pace adjustments and to put it bluntly, am terrible on the trails.  I remember going to running camp in high school and despite being one of the faster people there, was trounced everyday.  Everyday, we would venture out to the Pisgah Forest, which contained constant hills. I was placed in the first group and nearly every day, my teammate and still one of my closest friends, Reed Fisher, started in group two, and even though our group had a couple of minutes head start, and I could beat him by over a minute in the 5k, he would catch me before the end of each run.  But the Still Hollow Half-Marathon seemed like it wasn't too technical of a course, so I decided to test the waters.

After watching my former college teammate, Janet Cherebon-Bawcom, finish 12th in the women's Olympic 10,000m, I was on my way.  I road tripped with three of my friends, who formed quite the motley crew.  You had, myself, the former middle distance runner, turned marathoner and road purist, who hates the uncertainty and ADD'ness of the trails . Our driver was Brent Fuqua, a seasoned trail veteran and the road trip elder, who is getting back into the swing of things after missing many months because of injury.  Vance Pounders, a University of Tennessee-Martin distance runner who thinks six laps around the track is too far, which is a far cry from the more than six miles in the woods that he was destined for in the morning.  And the token German, Olaf Wasternack, who is leaving the roads to try more than his fair share of trail races and ultra-marathons this fall.  Throughout the ride down, he made it known several times that he had not had a cookie in over two weeks and couldn't wait to have one again.

We stopped at Subway on the road for a quick dinner.  Since I had it for lunch, I decided to not go with my usual footlong chicken, bacon and ranch sub and tested out some agnus steak sub that more closely resembled cafeteria mystery meat than the angnus steak sub that I fell in love with at Quiznos.

We checked into our hotel a little bit after 8:00pm and made a Bi-Lo run so Vance could get some of his random hippie food, so I could get some Gatorade and so Olaf could get some cookies.  After watching the Olympics for a bit, we went to bed a little bit before 11:00 with a 4:30am wake-up time (which I wasn't looking forward to, because it was also 3:30am Nashville time).

After waking up, I ate a Strawberry Harvest Powerbar, had my token coffee and stole some of Vance's Smoky BBQ Wheat Thins (which no one can deny.)  The race course was only a few minutes drive and we left shortly before 6:00am.  It was still pitch black outside, but once you entered the park, there were tons of volunteers guiding you where to go, so finding a parking spot was not a problem.

Because I can be a bit of a control freak and always like to have a plan going into something, I did some research to figure out who I would be racing against, so I could make the best possible strategy for the course. Johnny Clemmons seemed to be the guy to beat.  After internet stalking him a bit, I was able to find out that like me, he's starting to get back into running again after taking several years off.  He's been running really well on the trails lately, and several years ago, ran under 25 minutes for 8k and ran 2:40 on the road for the marathon.

The half marathon course had two main sections.  The first section was a wide woodchip filled path.  It didn't seem too technical, which I was happy to know.  After finishing the wood chip part, the 10k runners finished the race and the half marathoners veered off to a single-track bike trail, consisting of hard packed dirt, with plenty of twists, turns and some climbs.  After finding out the course information, I felt like the best strategy would be to start out fast and take advantage of the faster woodchip path.  I was hoping to build up a minute or two lead as I entered the bike trail, knowing that I would probably lose some time to Johnny on the more technical parts.

I knew I wasn't in very good shape at the moment and felt like if I raced a half marathon on a flat course, in cool weather, I could maybe pull out 67 minutes and change.  When I race a half marathon when I'm in shape, it takes about 4-5 days before I can do another hard workout.  When I'm out of shape, it beats me up pretty badly and makes me worthless for several days.  Being that I'm just now getting into hard training, I really didn't want to have to run all-out and was hoping I could run around 70-72 road effort so I could get back to hard training the next week. But as always, if I was forced to run all-out, I wouldn't think twice about it.

Going into the race, I had no idea what shoes I was going to wear.  I packed my Saucony Endorphin LD track spikes (what was I thinking), my Saucony Grid Type A5 road flats and my brand new Saucony Kinvara 3's. I was leaning towards my A5's but Olaf said the rocks would hurt my feet and wouldn't have much traction.  The track spikes were definitely out, so I went with the Kinvaras.  There's a lot more foam in the midsole, which would protect my feet more and the lugs on the shoes would help me with traction.

When the race started, I got out quickly.  For almost half of a mile, you stay on the roads and run down a gradual downhill before entering the trails.  I checked out my watch and saw that I was stupidly running close to 4:40 mile pace.  I slammed on the brakes a bit and tried to find a comfortable, but fast effort.

Once we entered the wood chip trail, it was tougher than I thought.  The wood chips made the ground incredibly soft, so you didn't have a good feel for it, you received no energy return and it was hard to get a good push-off. I checked over my shoulder on some of the switchbacks and saw a guy in blue only a few seconds behind me.  I didn't know anything about him, so he had me a little bit worried. I tried to keep the same effort to see how he would respond and after another mile or so, he slowly started to fall behind, which enabled me to relax some.  The trail had a few windy climbs that really stole my mojo and I kept waiting to be passed but I was able to hold onto my lead.

About five miles in, a water spot appeared, which I was happy to see. It gave me a few seconds to relax for a bit and get some fluids in. I've never really taken water in a half marathon before, because I've always been lucky enough to run in cooler weather ones, and the one time I tried, most of it went in my nose.  But the weather was humid and over 70 degrees, so I decided to physically stop at every water station to make sure I got enough fluids in. I chugged a couple of cups, frat boy style, and then I was on my way.  The water was really cold and bounced around in my stomach too much, so I relaxed the pace for a couple of minutes until things became more settled.

Why did I agree to coach this guy?

After the woodchip trail, I came out of the woods and saw the finish line.  Some guys thought I was doing the 10k and directed me to the right, but since I was in the half, I veered to the left.  There was a water stop at this point, so I stopped, drunk a cup of water and cup of Heed and then I was back on my way.

During a half marathon, you really don't need any carbohydrates, especially if you train pretty consistency.  Your liver and muscles have stored enough of them to last you well over 13 miles, so taking them in is pretty much useless.  However, the Heed was warmer and thicker than the water, so I decided to make that my drink of choice for the rest of the race.

Once I entered the bike trails, I really enjoyed the surface.  It was hard packed dirt, with some scattered rocks and for a few minutes, I took off and took advantage of the conditions.  It didn't last long because the twists, turns and hills started to rear their ugly head.  Luckily there were a few more water stops that gave me a brief break and gave me something to look forward to.

At what I thought was about nine miles, I was pretty sure I had at least a two or three minute lead, so I decided to back off the pace a good bit.  I've had an on-and-off knee issue lately, which wasn't enjoying the turns and hills.  Not to mention, the constant changes of rhythm was really burning me out mentally and I just wanted to kick back and enjoy the race.  I felt that if the last four miles were on a track, I could pull off close to 5:00 pace if I were forced to, so I knew that if someone caught me, I would be able to throw down a few hard miles.  I decided to run around 6:00 road effort and just finish up.

I decided to slow down just in time because around ten miles, there was a long, winding climb that never seemed to end.  I also had to run over these steroid-infused speed bumps that left my clueless.  At first, I just ran up-and-down them, but that didn't work well.  I then decided to try and jump from one bump to the next, but that about made my legs buckle but at least I got some sweet air out of it.  Eventually I was out of that trail and surprisingly, some downhill road running was thrown in.

At this point, I knew I would be done at anytime. I was looking forward to the finish line and was impressed that I didn't get lost or fall.  I thought too soon because on one of the turns, I ran into and ended up hugging a pine tree.

Eventually I crossed the finish line in 1:26:09, which was a 6:35 mile average.  Johnny Clemmons finished 2nd in 1:30:51 and Olaf ran a really solid 1:32:44 to finish in 3rd place overall.  Brent finished in 66th overall, which placed him in the upper 1/3 overall, despite missing so much training time, in what I believe was one of his first races in about a year.  Vance finished 4th out of nearly 150 runners in the 10k but has declared he now hates trail running.

After the race, I ended up meeting and cooling down with Johnny.  He told me he has run 4:01 in the mile and 2:25 for the marathon on the roads.  I'm glad I didn't see those results during my internet stalking because I would have run scared, with a much faster 2nd half.

Overall, it was a fun experience.  I won a cool plaque and some water vest type thing (I'm a road guy, I have no idea what they are called) that I will probably use to sneak Coke into the movie theater or when I'm too lazy to walk downstairs for a drink.  I was glad that I was able to relax a good bit that second half, which will enable me to jump right back into hard training.  I'm not completely sure how fast I could have run in the race, but feel I could have at least run sub 1:22 and maybe come close to 1:20 if I spent more time attacking the hills and drank water on the fly, rather than relax at all of the water stops.

I was also really impressed that I never got lost.  I've gotten lost running in my neighborhood, in many road races and during tons of cross country races in high school.  In one high school race, I ended up getting lost on two different occasions, even though I was running with a map of the course.  All of the turns were marked with flags and all of the "wrong" turns were taped off.  If it wasn't for the hard work of the volunteers, I would probably still be out there wandering around today.

I'm not sure if I will run another trail race in the near future.  Maybe when I get tired of chasing times on the road, I'll make a reappearance, but the style of the trail racing just isn't made for me.  However, I've always had the Western States 100 on my bucket list, so I should probably pursue that before I get old and fat.

Overall, it was a fun weekend and Rock Creek did an excellent job running the race.  The drive home brought back some nostalgia, as we stopped by Waffle House, and I loaded up on my my old school "usual" which is a double waffle and large hashbrowns with cheese.  I even got home in time to unfortunately see Mo Farah beat Kenenisa Bekele in the 10k and Galen Rupp sneak a silver medal, which I felt he had little chance of doing. But for now, it's back to the roads!

August 6th-12th Training

Monday (Happy Birthday to me): 11.8 miles with 10 miles medium progression. Ended up with splits of: (6:19, 6:16, 6:23, 6:08) (5:53, 5:52, 5:52) (5:30, 5:28, 5:20).  The 150 degree misery index (78 temp, 72 dew point) made it tough the second half and it was probably my sweatiest run of the summer.  The first two sections were easier than expected and I was struggling to find the 5:30 rhythm but closed the last 1/2 mile in close to 2:35 when I got a turboboost after passing the high school Station Camp cross country team.  Old bald guys can run fast too; 6 miles (8:18)

Tuesday: 9.1 miles (6:50); 5.4 miles (7:26)

Wednesday: 11.7 miles with 20x400m with 1:00 easy jog.  My goal was 70-72 and I ran a 71, 4-5 69s and the rest 70s. I struggled at first but loosened up a lot after 5-6.  I was recovering really quickly and never struggled at all.  Because I'm not in good "speed" shape right now, I didn't want to push too hard.  Boring workout and somehow I didn't fall in my trail half marathon last week but I busted hardcore on the sidewalk, along a busy road; 4.5 miles (7:30ish). Butt feels like Mike Tyson put on some brass knuckles and uppercutted it.

Thursday: 11.2 miles (6:11) with 10 miles medium (5:56). Decided to stack this after the track workout to build up the gas tank. I thought this would be a little bit tough but it felt like I was jogging. 149 misery index; 5.4 miles (7:17)

Friday: 8 miles (7:00); 6.5 miles (7:42)

Saturday: 22.4 miles (6:30).  Ran two laps of the 11.2 loop, which for you non-Nashvillians has a ton of climbs.  My watch went a bit crazy during the tree covered parts, but the whole run showed over 5.000 feet of elevation change.  Weather was a nice 64 at the start and I felt really good the first loop with a 71:18 and struggled on some of the hills on the second loop, finishing that one over two minutes slower in 73:28.  However, I felt really good and didn't get the usual long run fatigue over the last few miles.

Sunday: 8 miles (7:12); 4.5 miles (7:20)

Week Total= 115 miles.  Best week of training this summer.  I had some solid volume, with one hard workout, a longer than usual hilly long run and two moderate workouts.  I feel like my recovery is starting to greatly improve and I'm about at the point where I can guess how my body adapts to things, which makes planning my training easier.  However, I feel I'm about a month from being "fit."

Monday, August 6, 2012

July 30th-August 4th Training

Monday: 9 miles (7:15ish); 5.6 miles (7:32)

Tuesday: 12.9 miles with 10 miles of 1/2 mile fast, 1/2 mile moderate.  My plan was to run the fast part at 5:20 pace and the moderate part at 5:40 pace.  I was running both of them pretty well for a while but had to slow down the moderate pace towards the end of the workout.  At this stage of my training, my focus is moreso on getting faster over the shorter stuff, rather than working on my marathon gas tank.  I struggled a bit on the last two fast intervals and finished in 55:01 with a 5:13/5:46 average; 4.5 miles (7:27)

Wednesday: 8.3 miles (7:14); 5.8 miles  (7:19)

Thursday: 9.6 miles with 10x45s pick-up every half mile.(6:50)  I felt like I was running these sub 5:00 pace but they were over 5:10.  My recovery isn't very strong yet; 5.4 miles (7:11)

Friday: 7 miles (7:07); 3 miles (7:09)

Saturday: 16.9 miles with Trail Half-Marathon in 1:26:09.  Wanted to run this steady, but controlled...probably somewhere around 5:40 flat road effort.  The first six miles or so was a wood chip trail that sucked all of my energy out.  I went out way too hard, so I backed off a few miles in and tried to keep it cool, even though the uphills were whooping me.  The rest of the race was on a hard packed trail that I started rolling on before backing off and coasting the last few miles.  Finished feeling relaxed aerobically, except my right IT band was jacked up and my quads and butt were really tired.  Stopped at every water stop for a few seconds so I could down some water. Overall, the effort was what I wanted, but it was too imbalanced with faster running early on and slower running late in the race.  Rock Creek puts on a good race.

Sunday: 8 miles (6:55); 5 miles (7:20)

Week Total= 101 miles. Good workout on Tuesday and a strong effort on Saturday, so I'll take it.  Trail racing is definitely a different ballgame and not one that I yet prefer.  This was my fifth consecutive 100+ mile week and I need to ramp it up higher.  I plan on starting my specific phase in 4-5 weeks, so I need to be more structured with the planning of my workouts.  Since I'm still pretty rusty, I've had to wing-it some because I'm not yet at a point where I can predict how my body will respond and adapt. A higher volume of faster work is in order, along with a solid long workout or two.

Goodlettsville Classic

I have two races that I consider as part of my "home turf."  The Independence 5k in White House takes place on the greenway there, where I log more than my fair share of mileage.  The other race is the Goodlettsville Classic, which I've done since 2010.  I did all of my marathon-specific workouts before the 2010 Rocket City Marathon around the park.  It was the perfect mix of concrete, which got my bones and muscles ready for the pounding of the marathon, and crushed cinder, which doesn't put as much pounding on my legs.

Sadly last year, they covered the cinder with large chunks of gravel.  I get an on-and-off neuroma in my foot, which the gravel would wreak havoc on.  Once that was laid down, I stopped doing anything faster than a slow jog there.  Fortunately, they recently paved over the gravel, so my ban has been lifted.  Enough rambling.

But for some reason, I have never race well here.  In 2010, I felt like I was in sub 21:00 shape but was only able to pull out a 21:16, which according to the McMillan Calculator, is only worth a 33:59. Yet a few weeks later, I was able to run 32:12 for 10k on a much tougher course, running the last 5.5 miles alone.

In 2011, I was nailing my workouts and felt like I would be able to crush 20:00.  Come race day, I only managed a 20:34.

I'm just now starting to get into the swing of things, but I I felt like I was definitely in sub 20 shape.  Since it's still pretty early in my training cycle, I really didn't want to race this all-out, but would if I had to.  Last year, Patrick Cheptoek put a thorough spanking on me over the last three miles with Jef Scott right behind me, making me run scared and pushing me until the end.  Fortunately, none of those guys showed up for the race this year, so I planned on running it as a fast progression run, starting at around 5:15 for the first mile and then working my way to under 5:00.

When the race started, no one wanted to take the lead, so I slowly worked my way to the front.  I went through the first mile in 5:20, with a small lead over Jacob Carrigan.  I turned it up a bit and I guess I got a little too excited, because I covered the next mile in 4:56. There went the gradual progression.

Because I didn't want to continue to accelerate, I decided to slow it down again.  Right after the second mile, you run up what appears to be a small hill, but for the past two years, it has taken a small part of my soul with it.  However, I was able to power up without the slightest hint of booty lock.

Right after the climb, you get a generous downhill and then you get jump back on the trail part of the park.  I went through the third mile in 5:09 and I got a bit lazy the last mile and finished up with a 5:18, which gave me a 20:43 for the four mile distance.  The time was slower than last year but I gave a much easier effort and conditions seemed to be a lot more humid this year.  I don't think I could have broken 20 minutes in this race but it wasn't too bad of a day.

I was glad that I was finally able to win this race and enjoy running it every year.  Except for the usual summer weather, it has the potential to be a fast race and the park workers always have their stuff together.  I also like how they give cotton shirts every year.  It seems like every race gives the "tech" shirt now, and all those do is take space in my closet.  If it's hot enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt, I'm going to scare the neighbors and not wear one.