Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 18th-24th Training

Monday: 6.1 miles (7:13); 5.5 miles (7:00ish)

Tuesday: No Running

Wednesday: 7.3 miles (7:09); 3 miles with 2xhill blasts (6:50). Only did two because my legs were still tired from the half-marathon and I had no pop at all

Thursday: No Running

Friday: 7.7 miles over the beast hills (7:22)

Saturday: 12.4 miles (7:30ish). Ran at Beaman Park for the first time.  Struggled some on the hills but really enjoyed this place and will come back at least a couple of times a month.

Sunday: No Running

Week Total= 42 miles.  With my goal marathon less about four months away, I can't afford to get way out of shape, like I enjoy doing after my final race of the season.  The outside of my quads were really sore from running at Beaman Park.  I think trails show a lot of underlying weakness and are great for building strength in your running muscles. Next week, I'll still do easy stuff but try to run around 80 miles.  I'm also surprised with how easy 7:00 pace felt this week.  I think it shows the importance of running on tired legs and building up that cumulative fatigue. When in doubt, run slower and run more.

Spring Training Review

With my last race of the season under wraps, it's time to analyze my training to reflect on what worked well, what didn't and what needs to change in the future.  If you are going to grow and improve yourself as a runner or as anything in life, it's important to take an honest look at the road that led you to the present.  I've always welcomed constructive-criticism because if you don't know what you're doing wrong, you're limiting what you're capable of and are holding yourself back from your goals.  This is primarily old-man rambling without much direction but it's primarily for my benefit so I can go back to it in the future and remember how I need to fine-tune things.

Missing so much time with the ghetto knee, as well as coming down with the flu right after starting back resulted in a lot of missed time.  However, I've been training consistently for just under three years, with two of those years being more "serious" type training.  I've been chasing goal after goal, without taking a long break, so long-term, I'm sure the extended break I had this winter will do me well down the road.

If I'm not training for a marathon, I like to have a little more fun, make things less structured and jump in a lot of races.  It's not ideal for performance but when it comes down to it, running is my hobby and if I was always in hermit mode and focused entirely on training and performing my absolute best, I'd get bored and quit.

My main mistake was racing way too much.  Coming off a non-existent base period, I raced three half-marathons in seven weeks.  That not only sacrificed some quality training time, but was a huge stress on the body.  Most of the top guys race three marathons a year, so three in such a short-time period was a little much. 

Focusing too much on the Music City Distance Carnival 5000m probably wasn't ideal when I was focused on the half-marathon distance.  I didn't make any huge changes to my training, but I let that race consume my mind and mental energy for a few weeks.  I ran too many workouts on the track to learn different paces rather than running my workouts on the road.  When I run on the track, I'm checking my watch every 200m in order to keep my pace in check.  My mind isn't on gritting down and making things ugly, it's about becoming a smooth, efficient machine.  That's perfect for the track but not for the roads.

And an additional side effect of focusing on that 5000m was that I became too relaxed at faster speeds.  When 4:40 pace feels easy, 4:55 pace feels really easy.  That's probably one of the main reasons why my 4:41 at the half-marathon championships felt so easy, which was the biggest nail in the coffin in that race.

If you want to be a killer at the half-marathon distance, you need to be tough over 10k and the marathon.  I was getting my 10k workouts in, but I did very little work at marathon pace.  I did focus exclusively on the marathon last this past fall, so I felt some of that fitness would carry over but only getting in one or two marathon-type workouts was a mistake. 

Lastly, my training the last 6-8 weeks was a little bit scatter-brained.  I went after a fast 5k, I ran a lot of 5k races as workouts and I didn't do enough work at half-marathon pace.  I've always felt that when you get close to your key event, you need to train at paces that correlate to that event at least once, if not twice a week.  I was spending too much time running 5k races at a controlled effort and looking back, I could have still done those races, but I should have adjusted how I ran them.  Instead of running them at 10k effort and only getting in 3.1 miles of quality, I should have slowed down the pace about 5-10 seconds a mile and run an additional 3-4 miles at that pace either right before or right after the race. 

I was more than pleased with my 64:39 at the Louisville Half-Marathon but I felt like I was a ton more fit in May and June, but I never got to show that.  I usually peak really well but seemed a bit more fizzled at the end of the season this year. Again, that was a result of less than ideal training, which will be fixed next time.

After nitpicking everything, I honestly can't see too many things that went really well.  My mileage was a little bit lower than I wanted but part of that was having to cram in a lot of doubles, without much rest and just my life schedule in general.  However, I felt like I made some big fitness gains that will prepare me for the fall.  It's important to always build something new in training and with my development this spring, I feel like I will be able to train for the marathon at a much higher level than I did last year.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 11th-17th Training

Monday: 4.7 miles (7:14); 5.5 miles (6:54)

Tuesday: 8 miles fartlek (6:22).  Ran a couple miles easy and planned on 3-4x4:00 at sub 5:00 pace with 2:00 easy jog.  Ran them three of them just under 4:55 pace and felt good. I was debating doing four but since I've done a lot of 5ks lately, I decided easier would be better.

Wednesday: 6.8 miles (7:01); 3.4 miles (7:01)

Thursday: 6 miles with pick-ups (6:42).  Threw in a few steady and fast pick-ups.

Friday: 5 miles (7:23)

Saturday: 15.6 miles with half-marathon in 65:02. Went out insanely fast but felt good. Moved up throughout the race and got in a good pack. Struggled the last 5k and wasn't happy with my time but I'll take 15th place.

Splits: 4:41, 4:50, 4:49, 4:55, 5:02, 4:50, 5:01, 5:04, 4:59, 5:05, 5:07, 10:38 last 2.1.

Sunday: No Running

Week Total= 55 miles. With my final race of the season over, I'll take it super easy next week and then start a short base building cycle.  With my planned marathon in about four months, I can't afford to get out-of-shape like I typically like to do in the off-season. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

USA Half-Marathon Championships

The USA Half-Marathon Championships took place in Duluth, MN and was part of the Grandma's Marathon weekend.  It was my fifth race in six weeks and would serve as my final race of the spring season.  I wanted to set a new personal best but most importantly of all, to have fun and mix it up to the best of my ability.

I flew out of Nashville bright and early in the morning, with a connecting flight in Chicago, before reaching the Minneapolis Airport.  Because it would save a few bucks, I decided to rent a car and make the 2.5 hour drive to Duluth.  When I picked up my car, the guy from Budget tried the classic up-sale and told me my car probably wouldn't have cruise control (which I don't use) or power windows (I can crank a window) but since I drive a 2001 Ford Escort and a now comatose 2003 Honda Civic, anything would be an upgrade. I ended up getting a 2012 Ford Focus, with both cruise control and power windows. It only had about a thousand miles on it, had too many gadgets for my old-self to figure out and when I turned on the ignition, it was so quiet that I couldn't even tell if it was on or not.  I think this sub-compact was fine.

While the drive-up was pretty, I realized that Minnesota drivers think driving 65 in the fast lane is acceptable and about half of the drive contained some kind of construction, which resulted in a lot of one-lane interstate driving.  I stopped by McDonalds for a McDouble, medium fry and a Smores Pie before completing the rest of the journey.  After 11 hours of traveling, I finally made it to the Hampton Inn in Duluth.  I had a goody bag clad with some muffins, candy, some fruit and a small bottle of wine, which all served as my dinner that night.  While I was sleepy and not feeling like running, I went out for a six mile run along the lake, with a few built-in pick-ups.  I then unpacked my bags, watched some TV and was out for the night.

On Friday morning, Kameron Ulmer, whom I met at the Rocket City Marathon in 2010, met me at my hotel and we went for an easy five mile run.  We ended up crossing paths with four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, which was pretty cool.  We then went to get our packets and my travel stipend.  Instead of race numbers, our bibs had our last names on them, which was pretty cool. They had a room set-up stocked with tons of food and drinks, that was pretty much open all-day.  I made some lunch and talked with some guys from Wisconsin, who were also running.  I then hung out in my hotel for a bit before heading to the athletes meeting.

After the meeting was over, I was able to meet with one of my favorite coaches, Mark Hadley. He gave me some advice and pointers about my training plan for my fall marathon. He found a few holes in my training that I feel will really help me pop out a fast time.  While this spring I've been having fun with things, I go into hardcore training when I focus on the marathon, so meeting with Mark will really help me out.

I then killed some more time in my hotel before heading over to the spaghetti dinner.  There were hundreds of people inside and I ended up sitting across from Josh Eberly, who ran for Western State in college.  I never met him before but he and his wife seemed like really cool people.  After he left, I noticed that Ben and Candice Schneider were sitting at the table behind me.  I talked to them for a while before heading back to my room.  Since the race bus was leaving at 4:45am, I planned on waking up at 3:45am, so I wanted to get a decent amount of sleep.

After waking up, I jumped in the shower and then ate a couple bowls of cereal and my token cup of coffee.  I had a small freak out when I couldn't find my watch and spent about 10 minutes frantically searching the room.  I really didn't want to run with my Garmin but I threw it in my bag and headed out to catch the bus. I had a hunch to check my car before jumping on the bus and luckily my watch was sitting in the front seat.

We left promptly at 4:45.  Since the course was point-to-point, we pretty much drove 13.1 miles down the road.  While the bus was packed full of runners, no one really said a word, and I ended up sitting behind Jason Hartmann, who is one of the top marathoners in the country.  Besides his insanely long legs, he doesn't look like your typical elite distance runners, but he's a killer.

The bus dropped us off a few blocks down from the start.  I waited around the tent for about 20 minutes before seeing Ben and we went out for an easy 15 minute warm-up.  I was feeling really good and while the temperature was a nearly perfect 60 degrees, the humidity was near 100%.  While this wasn't perfect weather, I felt like the humidity gave me an advantage over the others, which I welcomed.  However, I regretted not turning in any water bottles because I knew I would probably need them later.

With about 15 minutes until the gun, I turned in my bag, did a few strides and took a spot on the line before most of the field did.  While there were over 100 solid guys in the race, I felt like I had a shot at the top 20, so I didn't want to get a poor starting position.  Within a few minutes, everyone was on the line and we were off.

I wanted to run the first mile around 4:50 and I felt really, really good from the get-go.  Within a half mile, two distinct packs formed.  I positioned myself at the very back of the first pack and was probably around 30th or so.  I could see the upcoming mile marker and was really surprised when I crossed in 4:41.  Just a week prior, I felt very sluggish going through the mile marker in 4:46 during a 5k, so I didn't understand how this felt so easy.  I debated slamming on the brakes but I was already last in the pack and the other pack was nearly 100 meters behind and came through in 4:54.  I decided to back off a hair and not make any intentional passes for a while until I found my groove. However, I caught up with Stephen Shay and Jason Ordway, who I both felt were way out of my league, so it was intimidating running with them.  I came back with two 4:50s and went through the 5k in 24th place, with 14:51. After the next couple of miles, I ended up forming a four-man pack with Michael Reneau, Joe Moore and Hanson's runner, Jeremy Criscione.  We ran together for the next several miles and went through 10k in 30:13.  Running with these three other guys was a really cool experience.  One guy would force the pace and take the lead, while the rest of us tucked in.  After a few minutes, another one of us would take the lead and start to surge again.  While it was a painful experience, I really enjoyed the battle of wills and unspoken camaraderie we were building throughout the race.

We made up a lot of ground on the runners in front of us and it looks like we were rapidly running down Jason Hartman.  We dropped Jeremy shortly before 10 miles, crossed that marker in 49:18 and I did my best to focus on finishing the last 5k.  Within a mile, Michael and Jeremy dropped me and I did my very best to not lot Jeremy catch me.  At this point, something was really bugging my allergies and my eyes were burning and it felt like my head was being squeezed together.  With two miles to go, I really wanted to be done but I didn't want to lose another spot.  It's always been one of my goals to beat a Hanson's runner and I knew I was close to achieving it.  At one point, I was letting the pain get the best of me and waited and expected to get passed.  I then snapped out of it and told myself that if I got beat by him it was because I allowed it, so I tried to press on again.

Finally I could see the finish line in site and I saw that Zach Hine was in striking distance.  I tried to press my foot on the gas but immediately, I hunched over and started to dry heave.  I tried to press again and immediately dry heaved.  I expected to puke in front of everyone but nothing would come up and I ended up finishing a second behind Zach in 65:02, to finish 15th.  That time was frustrating because if I would have broken 65, I would have received an extra $750 instead of the $500 I received. However, I will gladly take the $500! 

Abdi ended up with an easy win in 62:46 over Brett Gotcher.  Ian Burrell, Michael Eaton and Tim Ritchie also had some awesome races and stamped their tickets as one of the nation's elite and future top marathoners.  I feel like one of those three guys will make a run at sub 2:10 in the marathon by the time 2016 rolls around.

I hung around the finish for a bit and met Jake Krong.  He is probably the second best looking bald Saucony Hurricane runner and it was kind of funny because we have never met before but both read each other's blogs.  I then talked to Ben for a while and since I was feeling really sick, I gimped back to the hotel.

My plan was to take a long nap and then hang out for a while before heading to the athlete's party.  However, the rest of the day did not go as planned.  I woke up with a killer headache and spent the rest of the day throwing up and in bed.  I had to miss the party and to add more salt to the wound, I also missed "Piranaconda" on the SyFy Channel.  It was definitely a bad way to end my time in Duluth but I will be back next year. After checking out of the hotel, I drove to Minneapolis and met Candice and Trent Rosenbloom to eat at the Black Sheep before catching my flight back home.

After reflecting on the race, I felt like I was in much better than 65:02 shape.  I was a little bit stale from all of the training and races and probably adjusted my training a little bit too much for that 5k at the Distance Carnival.  What really slowed down my time was that 4:41 opening mile.  I felt like I could have went out in a lower 4:50 and came through 10k just as fast as I did during the race, but feeling much better.  However, if everyone ran a smart or ideal race I probably wouldn't have finished 15th overall, so I have to view it as a solid performance.  I was the only guy in the top 20 who didn't run in the Olympic Marathon Trials.  I also beat a handful of sub 2:15 marathoners and even a couple of 2:12 guys.  And nearly all of the guys who beat me don't have two jobs jobs or a family to take care off.  However, I've made some adjustments in my schedule and will be able to train at a higher level and work on closing that gap. A year ago, I could have MAYBE run 68:00, so I feel like I still have a lot of room to improve.

Overall, it was an amazing experience.  They took really good care of myself and all of the other runners in the field.  I never had to buy any food, was able to get into any of the events I wanted and people would even bring Red Bulls and water to my hotel room.

With the spring racing season complete, it's now time to kick back and relax for a bit before starting my build-up for the fall. And if you are looking for an awesome marathon or half-marathon experience, I strongly suggest coming to this race! The weather is usually really decent, the course is flat and scenic and Duluth is a really cool town.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Anniversary Jinx

This past Wednesday (June 13th), Mary and I celebrated our third anniversary.  The marriage itself has been great but unfortunately, our anniversaries are always terrible and end up getting worse every year.  We even brought this up the day before and dreaded how the day would unfold.

Unfortunately, we had professional development that day, so we were stuck in meetings until close to 4:00.  I then had to go home and mow the lawn and go for a short run.  Our plan was to eat at PF Changs and then stay at the Hyatt Hotel by the airport since my flight was leaving early in the morning.

By the time we were ready to head to PF Changs, we realized we forgot to find Roxy a place to stay overnight.  We then headed to Joelton to drop off Roxy with Mary's grandparents, which added over an hour, but we were glad they could watch her.  After leaving their house, the car started acting really funny, so we stopped at a gas station to check the oil.  The oil cap was impossible to get off and after a lot of frustration and some sore hands, we found someone who had a wrench.  I added a quart of oil and then we were on our way.

After getting into Nashville, my car would start to sputter out and stoplights and shut off.  It would start back right away but would die when it idled.  We ended up making it to the restaurant and after some Google diagnosing, I figured it was a vacuum leak.  Luckily, that would be an easy and cheap fix. 

We left the restaurant after 9:00 pm and headed home to swap out cars.  I even gave Mary a high-five because we were only a few miles away from the house.  The day wasn't over yet and within a minute, the car started getting really loud, followed by a metal-on-metal sound.  I immediately pulled over and the car died.  I called several tow places, all of which said it would be a minimum of a 1.5 hour wait.  I remembered the parents of some girls at my school had a tow truck place, so Harry's Towing was on the way!  He somehow even perfectly parked the car in my driveway when I can't even back up without leaving tire marks in the grass.

We were finally on our way to the Hyatt and arrived shortly before midnight.  After checking-in, we realized that we were given two small beds, instead of the king that we reserved and were charged for.  They were completely out of king's, so luckily we both fit on one of the full's.  We finally got to bed to bed just before midnight to end our third anniversary.

And for post-anniversary aftershocks, Mary and I both received a lot of chigger bites on our legs while calling the tow truck and it looks like my Civic had an oil leak and now a dead engine to go along with it.  Now we have to decide whether to pay to get new tires and a new engine, get a new car or just pay cash for a used one.

As of now, we are planning to rent a white, padded room for our fourth anniversary.

Doughboy Challenge 5k

With a week to go until the USA Half-Marathon Championships, I entered my fourth race in five weeks, the Doughboy Challenge 5k.  I know  it wasn't ideal for my training, but I like to have fun and be a little less structured if I'm not training for a marathon, so I decided to give it a go.

The race takes place in Murfreesboro, which is the home of The Middle Half, my first ever half-marathon and a well-run event.  While checking out the course description, it seemed really similar to The Middle Half: flat and fast.  Micah Tirop won the last race last year, so I knew I wouldn't be able to take it too easy. Ideally, I was hoping to run my usual 10k effort but also toyed around with the idea of running two miles a little more controlled before finishing hard.

For my warm-up, I ran the course and there really wasn't a single hill, with big signs at every turn. My Garmin read 3.12 miles, which is dead on for a certified course. The water stops were even already being set-up, which at a race or two I've run in Nashville can't even have their water stations ready DURING the race.  I was feeling ok on the warm-up and while the weather was a bit humid, it was only about 70 degrees.

I talked with Micah briefly at the line and a few minutes later, we were ready to go.  A bunch of small kids lined up at the front, so I had to dance around them when the race started and a minute later, Micah pulled up on my shoulder.  We started hammering pretty early but after about 1k, he backed off the pace a good bit and I only relaxed slightly.  It felt like I was running sub 4:40 mile pace, so I was surprised when I went through in 4:46.  I tried to stay in that same rhythm and went through the next mile in another 4:46 and closed in a 4:45 to finish in 14:47 on my watch, but with a 14:49 as my official time.  The effort was controlled but the pace felt harder than I wanted, considering I am hoping to run close to 4:50 per mile at the half-marathon next week. Micah finished about a minute behind but he's been more low-key this season and while he was tearing up the scene last year, he's been a bit more busy with other things lately. But he's definitely a tough runner and an even nicer guy.

I watched my friend Chris Hanson finish up and we did a cool-down together before heading to the awards. The awards started quickly and had some decent post-race food with fruit, bagels, yogurt and smoothies from one of the smoothie places in town.  All finishers received a Doughboy medal and in my race packet, I got two really good Progresso dinners that were gone less than 48 hours later.  I don't care about getting stuff like Chap-Stick or sports creme samples, but I always enjoy the food!

The Doughboy Challenge is definitely a race to head to if you are looking to run a PR or are just looking for a run race experience.  Since I plan on running the USA Half-Marathon Championships again next year, I probably shouldn't run this race in 2013, but I'll probably listen to the voice of non-reason and go for it again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 4th- 10th Training

Monday: 8 miles (7:26); 5.6 miles (7:15ish)

Tuesday: 13.4 miles medium/fast progression.  My goal was three miles each at 5:30, 5:15 and 5:00 and I ended up averaging 5:28, 5:14 and 4:56.  I felt really good which was encouraging coming off a bad race and the fact that I struggle in progression runs; 3.4 miles (7:36)

Wednesday: 8 miles (7:31); 4.5 miles (7:31)

Thursday: 12 miles with 10 miles medium (5:40).  I was really happy with how relaxed this felt.  I was smooth the whole way and could have run this pace all day long.  Not bad in 80 degree weather; 3.8 miles (7:22)

Friday: 5.4 miles (7:30ish); 5.3 miles (7:29)

Saturday: 8.9 miles with 5k race in 14:49. I ran the Doughboy 5k in Murfreesboro.  I was going to run this at around 10k effort with a goal time of 14:45-14:50.  Micah Tirop showed up and we rolled pretty quickly for the first 1k or so.  I then led the rest of the way and won by about a minute.  The course was nice and flat and my watch gave me splits of 4:46, 4:46, 4:45.  My watch also said 14:47 but my official was 14:47.  I felt a little drained and wasn't as relaxed as I wanted but it's been a tough training week.; 5.4 miles with pick-ups (6:51).  I felt guilty just doing 5k worth of quality work this morning, so during the run, I ran 8x .1 miles fast with .4 miles easy jog.  I felt pretty quick on these and was running them between mile and 5k pace.

Sunday: 6.2 miles (7:05); 3.4 miles (7:24)

Week Total= 93.2 miles. The volume was a little bit higher than my usual "two weeks to go" plan but I was playing a bit of make-up for the week prior.  Next week, I'll back off big time as I get ready for the national half-marathon championships.  I'm a little bit worried about running all of these 5ks lately when I would have been better off doing longer workouts.  But when I'm not training for a marathon, I like to have fun and not to mention, I was able to pull in some good awards. 

Music City Distance Carnival

The Music City Distance Carnival takes place in Nashville and even though it doesn't have a huge budget, it brings in a lot of talented high school, college and post collegiate runners.  Only events from the 800m and up are contested and many sub 4:00 miles have taken place at this race.

For the past two years, I've attended this meet as a spectator, so I was excited for a chance to compete.  Several weeks prior, I ran 14:26 at the Vanderbilt Invitational,  leading the whole way.  I've greatly improved my fitness since then and even though I am training for the half marathon, I felt like I had the wheels to make a run at breaking 14:00.  Not only did I feel like I would make a run at it, I felt like I would break it.  When it comes to my running goals and life in general, I'm very much a realist.  I see things for how they are and I only speak of things that I am confident in.  Before the race, I was telling people I was shooting for sub 14 and honestly believed it would happen.

I spent the week leading up to this race obsessively checking the weather forecast.  The past two years, this race was insanely hot but Accuweather was suggesting race time temperatures in the mid 60s, while not perfect for a 5k, but as good as you can get for a race in June.  I spent the days leading up to the race planning my strategy and unfolding the race in my mind over and over again. I would tuck into the back of the pack and come through the first 1600m in the mid/upper 4:20s, come through 3200m in under 8:55 and then kick in the last 1k as hard as I could to finish under 14 minutes.  With how my workouts were going and how the projected forecast looked, I was expecting it.

I got to the race a couple of hours early so I could watch my friends Jeff Edmonds, Travis Crouch, Jeff Bandy, Hunter Hall, John Ramsey and Jacob Carrigan compete in the 5k.  Even though the weather was warm at this part of the day, Jeff Bandy and Travis went on to set new personal bests.  Swiftwick was also sponsoring the race and gave a every competing runner a free pair of their new socks.

About 40 minutes before the race, Connor Kamm and I went for an easy 15-20 minute warm-up.  I then knocked out a couple of dynamic drills and jumped onto the track for a few strides. I felt loose and ready to roll.  I then started getting really nervous/anxious because I felt like my sub 14 destiny was getting closer.

I was seeded 5th with my time of 14:26.  Deus Rwaheru was the top seed but I felt like Patrick Cheptoek, who is a machine on the roads, or Tim Ritchie, who ran 3:58 for the mile indoors and 28:44 for the 10k would be the favorite.  When the gun went off, I got a little bit boxed in, but Connor scooted aside so I could squeeze through.  I settled into 10th place or so and it felt like we were flying.  With the effort I was putting out, I expected to cross the first lap in 65-66 but I was shocked when I saw a 68.  Rather than play it cool, I freaked out, swung out wide and surged over the next 150 meters and moved into fourth place.  That second lap was around 65 seconds, which was way too fast but I felt all right. Shortly before the first 1600m ended, some of the guys upfront started pushing the pace a bit.  I didn't feel smooth at all but came through the first 1600m in 4:26, which was right on my expected pace.  I was at the back of the pack and after the 2k, I started to fall back a bit.  I should have known better because once you give up a few meters to someone, it quickly turns into a lot more.

I started falling further behind with each additional lap.  Rather than attacking the second mile and preparing for an assault on the third, I was just going through the motions. When reality settles in and you realize you aren't going to achieve your goal, it's hard to keep fighting and stay strong. 

I don't remember much of the last mile.  I lost focus and just wanted to finish.  I do remember stepping on the inside railing and almost completely wiping out.  I remember seeing Patrick not too far ahead but instead of attempting to chase him down, I didn't respond.  I think a large part of that is that he is such a strong runner and I feel he's on a different level than myself. I felt that if I would have caught up, he would have blasted me, so my motivation to go after him wasn't too strong.

I ended up finishing in 14:13. Tim pulled out a killer final sprint to beat Deus with a time of 13:56. I didn't know what my time was at first and I really didn't care because I was bummed with how it turned out.  14:13 is a new personal best but I was not happy with how I ran mentally. If I would have run that first mile well, gritted my teeth during the second and dug as deeply as I could and run a 13:59, I don't believe that would have shown a lot of mental toughness. I would have been in a lot of pain but would have gotten the positive reinforcement after each lap, knowing I was a lap closer to my goal.  To me, mental toughness is gritting your teeth and digging deeply when things are going badly and your goal is out the window.  Rather than doing that, I mentally shut my mind off  so I didn't have to presently accept reality.  Even with a perfect race, maybe sub 14 wasn't in the cards that day.  I do feel that if I would have woken up mentally during the last mile, I could have run 14:05.

But the biggest mistake was freaking out after the first lap. In all of my hard workouts, I struggle a bit at first, then find my rhythm and close very well.  Most people race how they train and if I would have played it cool, I could have potentially moved my way up throughout the race and be in striking distance with a few laps to go.  I'm upset that I didn't show a lot of confidence or maturity in that aspect but that's a mistake I'll have to learn from.

I guess the main positive I can take out of this race is that when I went into cruise control mode, I was still clicking off 4:40s.  I think it shows my aerobic system is strong, which will help me in the half-marathon championships. I don't know when I will race another track 5k, but I'm looking forward to getting back on the roads again.  However, I'm not doing chasing sub 14 yet.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jail Break 5k

One of my high school best friends, Travis, was getting married back home in South Carolina, so Mary, Kate and I hit the road to spend several days seeing my family and high school friends. Even better, there was a road race near my house that gave out a little bit of money, so I decided to give it a go.

My last road race in South Carolina was in 2005 at the Cold Winter's Day 5k, which I ended up winning in 15:14.  The goal for this race was similar to the Run for the Homeless a couple of weeks prior; run around 10k effort, but harder if I had to.

The race took place in Lexington, SC and was put on by the Lexington County Sheriff's Department and my old summer place of employment, Strictly Running.  Two of my old high school teammates, Reed Fisher and Ryan Plexico were also running.  Reed was a high school state cross country champion and a college cross country All-American but was running his first road race in years and had about a month of training. Despite running over 24 minutes for the 5k his freshman year of high school, Ryan went on to become a 16:30 5k and sub 10:00 3200m his senior year of high school and is still racing most weekends.

When Reed and I got to the race, we sought out my old boss and the manager of Strictly Running, Selwyn Blake. When he was over 40 years old and Reed and I were in college, he would toy with us on long runs and laugh as we would die. He mainly just runs for now as he's busy with road races most weekends.  We also got to meet the director of the race.

As Reed and I went to warm-up, we ran into Ryan and one of our old rivals, OJ Striggles.  We all warmed-up together and we also saw Eric Ashton, who is one of the top master's runners in the United States and has been one of the best runners in the state since before I was in high school. Warming up, I realized that I forgot how much more humid it is in South Carolina, which didn't help things as the temperature was already near 80 degrees.

When the gun went off, I hung back for a minute or two before taking the lead.  We were rolling pretty quickly and I hit the mile in 4:40, with Eric about five seconds behind.  I tried to stay around that effort but the heat started getting to me and I slowed down to a 4:48.  Since I wanted to stay under 15 minutes, I tried to keep going and ran the last mile in 4:49 to finish in 14:47.  The effort was probably a little harder than I anticipated but I felt like I had another 15 seconds or more in the tank.  With the heat and humidity, I felt like this was worth close to a 14:30 on an ideal day.  Eric finished second in 15:47 and Reed ran really well and somehow busted out a 17:27.

After the race, Reed, Ryan, the third place finisher, Judson Brooker and I ran the course again to get in some extra mileage.  The awards started shortly after and I got a really cool plaque with a handcuff on it.  Better yet, the race director told me hundreds of felons have worn that handcuff at one point.I then suggested that next year they let the prisoners run, with the small-time criminals in the front and the hardcore guys in the back, with the winner earning parole, but he didn't seem too keen to that idea.

I really enjoyed this race and hope to run it again sometime in the future.  Strictly Running puts on a strong race presence and always does a great job with the timing and results.  The race director also puts a lot of work into it to make sure it's a fun and enjoyable race.  To cap off a good morning, I got an additional $50 from the race director and another extra $100 from Strictly Running for breaking the course record.  Guess that covers gas money!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

May 28th- June 3rd Training

Monday: 12 miles (5:58) with 10 miles medium (5:40). Rolling course and humid but felt good; .4 miles. Rained out

Tuesday: No running. Stayed out late and had to wake up early.

Wednesday: 14 miles.  Ran a loop around the forest with Reed, did another lap fast, then a mile cooldown.  I had a lot of trouble running quickly in the forest because of all the rhythm changes.  Maybe I'll try a trail marathon or longer, but I could never run a short trail race; 3.4 miles (7:41)

Thursday: 9 miles (6:53); 5.4 miles (7:17)

Friday: 6.7 miles (6:54); 5.4 miles with strides (7:08)

Saturday: 1.5 miles (7:37); 7.8 miles with 5k race in 14:13.  Not happy with the race at all because I was expecting to break 14. First lap was a 68, I freaked out and dropped a 65 next lap and came through the mile in 4:26.  I wasn't comfortable at all and lost the pack after 2k.  I don't remember any splits after the 1600m and completely lost focus.

Sunday: 10.6 miles (6:51); 3.4 miles (7:32)

Week Total= 79.5 miles.  Was hoping for 95ish miles but the day off wrecked that.  The race also had me bummed for a couple of days.  It was a new personal best but I'm not happy with my mindset during the race. The trip to South Carolina threw my training off a bit, so next week I'll get a little more volume to make up for it.  Two weeks until my last race and then I can chill for a bit.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fat Power

Here is a link to an old, but good article on the importance of "fat power" when it comes to long, sustained activity.  The ability to quickly burn fats for fuel is very important not only for the cyclist, but for the marathon runner as well.  Time and time again, I hear of people running consistent speed workouts and good 5k and half-marathon times but they fall apart in the later stages of the marathon. To be good in the marathon, you need to be STRONG and that comes from mileage with a lot of steady and medium paced running.