Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

Random 2013 Stats

  • Miles run this year= 5187.5, which is 99.76 miles a week.  Talk about a buzzkill. 
  • Biggest seven day period= 130.1 miles
  • Biggest Monday through Sunday week= 128 miles
  • Biggest Month= October (519.9 miles)
  • Number of times I toed the line at a race= 28
  • Number of times I "raced"= 8
  • Number of races in the rain= 5
  • Number of races in the rain before 2013= 0
  • Number of days off= 20 (two of those were .4 miles and 1.2 miles)
  • Best race= U.S. Half-Marathon Championships 
  • Worst race= US 25k Championships
  • States I raced in: 8 (Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Utah, Massachusetts, Indiana)
  • Injuries= 0
  • Set a PR in 5 miles, 10k, half-marathon and marathon
  • Set state records in the half-marathon and marathon
  • Favorite TV show of 2013= Breaking Bad
  • Favorite movie of 2013= Prisoners (still haven't seen Gravity)
  • Favorite moment of the year= Birth of Ellis Hudson Wietecha (My second kid and first son)
  • Least favorite moment of the year= Seeing Anderson Silva lose...twice

Monday, December 30, 2013

December 23rd-29th Training

Monday: 6.8 miles (7:15ish); 8.8 miles (7:20ish)

Tuesday: 6.1 miles (7:15ish); 14.1 miles with 4800m-3:00 jog, 3200m-3:00 jog-1600m on the track. Goal was sub 14:45, 9:30, 4:30 and ran 14:45, 9:30 and 4:31.  Kind of a bummer that I didn't beat any of my times but it was my first good workout in over two weeks, so I'll take it. Ran at night, with an 18 degree wind chill, which made it tough to get my legs moving.  Legs felt pretty loose and light but didn't have that power that I usually have.  I thought for sure I would break 4:30 in the mile but got a little lazy on the third lap with a 69.XX lap.  A couple of weeks ago, I was planning to run 10x1k@3:00 with 1:00 rest and then some 200s on this date. But with the way things have been going lately, I felt like I needed a little bit of extensive running at a faster pace (somewhat the 3200m and especially the 1600m) while still including a little bit of threshold work (the 4800m).

Wednesday: 10.7 miles (6:25); 5.5 miles (7:28)

Thursday: 9.6 miles (6:38); 6.7 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:14)

Friday: 17.4 miles with 3x4.2 mile loop with 1k jog recovery. Goal was to try and run 5:05s.  I ran this at Moss Wright Park, which is a 2.1 mile loop with the first mile being mostly flat and the second having a pretty tough hill. 5:05.00 pace would put me at 21:21 and I ended up running 21:07 (4:56, 5:05, 32, 5:02, 5:00, 32), 21:25 (5:03, 5:06, 32, 5:05, 5:07, 32), 21:31(5:06, 5:10, 34, 5:07, 5:03, 31).  Recovery jogs were 3:37 and 3:38. Obviously, I ran the first interval too fast, despite it feeling pretty smooth.  On the second interval, my legs felt more worn and I struggled up the hill on each loop.  The third interval didn't feel any more tiring than the second other than the hill becoming worse with each loop.  I ran this same workout 22 days out from Houston last year and averaged 5s a mile slower, so I'll take it as a good session; 4.5 miles (7:23). 130.1 miles in the last seven days, which is a new lifetime PR.

Saturday: 11 miles (6:50); 4/7 miles (7:28)

Sunday: 22.1 miles (6:01). Man, after checking my log, I realized this was my first normal paced long run in over two months (October 27th was the last).  Ran 12 miles of flattish running, followed by the hilly Boomer route.  Hills were a little more tiring than usual and started to get pretty thirsty 15-16 miles in and was ready to drink water out of puddles by 18.  I was scoping out the route for a hose but didn't find any. The last time that happened, I found a hose with some nasty tasting water by the quarry only to find out later that I was drinking actual water from the quarry.  Finished feeling pretty good and wish I could get 1-2 more of these before Houston.

Week Total:  128 miles. Much better week than last week.  Since I've improved so much from last week, I'm hoping I'll get another boost this next week.  I normally drop my miles a little bit three weeks out but this week will be another regular week since I missed so much training with the sickness.  This Sunday will probably be my really last tough and grinding workout.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Netflix Pick of the Week

I've been waiting a while to add American Horror Season 2, but it's finally time.  I absolutely loved Season 1; great acting, excellent story line and the season wrapped up very nicely by the end.  I would probably give it an "A+".  Season 2 was really good as well but more like an "A-".  A cool thing I like about it is that while it has many of the same actors as season one, since it's a totally different story line, they play different roles.  And obviously with a different story line, you could skip season one and watch this and not be lost.

Season two mainly takes place in the Briarcliff Mental Instituion in 1964.  The place treats the mentally and criminally insane and is run by Sister Jude (the boss lady who is one of the those hardcore, self-righteous mean jerks) and Sister Mary Eunice (an airheady but sweet lady). Psychiatrist Dr. Oliver Thredson and scientist Dr. Arthur Arden also work with the patients there.  And of course, everyone in the joint claims they are innocent and in fact, many are.  

As the season goes on, you learn all about each character's past and current life.  And with each episode, the place becomes crazier.  You have a Satan-possessed nun, aliens, a Nazi mad scientist who makes new species of humans, a secret serial killer and a bunch of other whacked out stuff, so naturally, some of the residents formulate a plan to escape.  Some times it's a little bit out there and it can get graphic at times but it had me hooked most of the episodes and I went through the entire season in a couple of weeks.

American Horror Story, regardless of the season, is one of the most underrated shows on TV.  Since it's on cable, it can push the edge a little bit and each season is full of good acting and a catchy story-line.  The below trailer is the trailer for the season but it doesn't have much to do with the actual show but is more symbolic of things that go on. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nashville Area Top Marathon Times: 2013

So I was bored and decided to look around the internet to see what the top five men's and women's marathon times were for Nashville area runners in 2013. That was probably a run-on sentence with some grammatical mistakes but since it's Christmas Break, I'm not going to fix it.  The Websters Dictionary doesn't have an entry for "Nashville area runners" so I'm going to define it as someone who could drive to the state capitol in 30 minutes, without sucky traffic.

I was tempted to throw Lanni Marchant in there, who ran 2:28:00, since she's in Nashville most weekends. But since she technically resides in Chattanooga (I think) I can't justify it.  I could very well have some errors in here, especially with the women.  While I know most of the Nashville men runners, I don't know very many of the ladies.

After posting this, I feel the list is going to be much faster next year.  Connor Kamm will break 2:20 if he jumps in a marathon in 2014.  I don't think Ricky Lupp is going to try a marathon next year, but he would run under 2:25 for sure.  And after that, there are a handful of guys who could break 2:30 next year if they take a stab or two at the distance.

The women's side will also get much faster.  Jeanette was hurt for a large part of the year and is worth a 2:30 with a healthy cycle.  Ashley ran that 2:48 in her debut and Blair knocked off 20 minutes off her PR. And like the guys, there's a handful of women who can run fast half-marathon times, who didn't race a marathon last year. And maybe Lanni will move up here.  Who would run to live near hundreds of miles of trails anyway?

1. Scott Wietecha    31      2:18:52      Houston Marathon                      
2. Olaf Wasternack  33      2:37:47      Boston Marathon                        
3. Hunter Hall            24      2:38:25      Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
4. Matt Pulle              41      2:40:36      Rocket City Marathon                  
5. Chris Duncan       34      2:40:41      Boston Marathon        

1. Jeannette Faber   31     2:38:32       California International Marathon  
2. Ashley Evans       27     2:48:49       Chicago Marathon
3. Courtney Terrell   30     2:57:32       Chicago Marathon
4. Sara Maltby          35     2:58:28       Marine Corps Marathon
5. Blair Burnette       27     3:06:41       Rocket City Marathon

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 16th-22nd Training

Monday: 4.6 miles (6:49); 8.4 miles (7:23)

Tuesday: 7 miles (6:49); 7.8 miles (6:57). Was hoping to do 10x1:00 on/off and very slowly ease into it but my legs were shot/dead/flat/drained .1 miles into the first one, so I felt it would be best to scrap the session and just did some jogging.

Wednesday: 5.3 miles (6:47); 10.5 miles (6:37)

Thursday: 6 miles (6:57); 6.2 miles. Was planning on running 3 miles@5:55, 3 miles@5:30, and then as many miles at 5:05 as I could without redlining.  I got through 2.6 miles at 5:51 pace but my legs felt drained and I knew 5:30s would be very tough and I wouldn't have a shot at 5:05s.  Will try something tomorrow.

Friday: 13.7 miles with 7.12 miles at 5:11 average.  Goal was two down-and-backs on LSC, which would be a little over seven miles, at 5:10 average.  I knew it wouldn't be far enough to be a marathon workout but I wanted to get in at least a small amount of marathon effort running since I'm draining fitness right now.  I was really nervous about this and was expecting to fail. It was kind of like sparring night at my old gym. If the coach told you to go into the ring, you were expected to go at 100% against whoever else was in there. Sometimes I knew I would have the upper hand or be able to hold my own, others I knew I was probably going to get the crap kicked out of me for a couple rounds (except one time I held my own against some guy much tougher than me since he had a bad hangover). This workout was like the latter.  But the plan was to go out around 5:10-5:15 and see if I could drop down some.  Legs were pretty flat the first few minutes but I was on pace with a 5:12 first mile.  I sped up and ran 15:24 the next three miles and was feeling pretty smooth before I suddenly started losing my mojo and was struggling to keep on pace with the last three miles being 5:12, 5:14 and 5:16.  Maybe I could have stayed on pace but I wasn't going to force it yet.  Normally, I'm able to run negative splits in workouts, so I think this showed I still have a good bit of lingering fatigue going on.  I was hoping to get some good karma today from saving a mouse from a glue trap, but I guess not.

Saturday: 9.8 miles (6:57); 6.1 miles (7:32)

Sunday: 21.1 miles with 18.1 miles at 5:29 average.  Made up a route that would be about 18.5 miles and my goal was to ease into it and hopefully average 5:30 or under.  Was feeling pretty flat from the get-go and was struggling up hills that normally wouldn't be an issue.  Ran my first sub 5:30 in the 6th mile and then was in the zone for a while.  Around 11-12 miles, I was getting really hungry and thirsty, so I decided to take a detour to my house and stopped there a little under 14 in and quickly downed a few glasses of water, a Powerbar, Powerbar gummies and some chocolate Christmas candy before jumping back out again.  My legs started to get pretty heavy around 16 in and I was debating ending the workout but I wanted to make it to the end of the road so I could turnaround and get the tailwind.  After 17, I knew I probably shouldn't make it to 18.6 or whatever it would be, so I decided to stop at 18 if I was under a 5:30 average and if not, run hard until I was.  Luckily it was .1 miles after 18, so I stopped and walked around for a minute since I was pretty tired. This was seven seconds a mile slower than last month and about 10 seconds a mile slower than what I would like if I never got sick  But I figure I can improve 10 more seconds in four weeks with regained and future fitness and the lingering sickness fatigue out of the way.; 2.9 miles (7:30ish)

Week Total: 112.8 miles. A frustrating week but starting to come around.  My right sciatic nerve/lower back was hurting pretty badly off-and-on all this week and I had some pain at the attachment site of one of my hamstrings, on the inside/back of my knee.  It was really hurting the first part of the week but feels like it's slowly going away.  I guess being in bed for a few days, followed by jumping on the roads again did some damage.  With just four weeks until Houston, I need a good week next week, followed by a killer week the week after that.  I'll probably do a track workout Tuesday night and hopefully nail a marathon workout on Friday.  This is also my first of two weeks off.  Hopefully that means more sleep, harder training and less whining and drama. 

Netflix Pick of the Week

I need to start changing this to the Netflix pick of the month since I've been so lazy with it.  I have been watching a lot of non-Netflix movies lately though.  And based off the movies I've seen the last week or two, I'll have to go with: Prisoners: A+ (a lot of plot holes but really good and the best 2013 movie I've seen so far), Kick-Ass 2: A (Good movie but not the A+ that Kick-Ass 1 was), The Wolverine: B- (too slow and boring but it has Wolverine), Man of Steel: A (not much story line, just a lot of action), Elysium: B+ (decent sci-fi flick), Despicable Me 2: B (don't hate), Fantastic Mr. Fox: A (don't hate, again), Insidious: Chapter 2: B (kinda eh, but an ok watch), Blade Runner: C (heard it was really good, but I wasn't feeling it).  So yeah, with being sick a while ago, I burned through a lot of movies.

But a good Netflix movie that I recently watched was Olympus Has fallen.  I was kind of hesitant to watch this even because it seemed like a less hyped version of White House Down and I'm not a Gerard Butler fan, but hey, it has Morgan Freeman in it, so I decided to give it a shot.  There's not a whole lot going on and it's your typical terrorist invades the White House movie.

File:Olympus Has Fallen poster.jpg

Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is the top-dog secret service agent and in charge of the President's detail. On the way to a fundraiser, a tree crashes in front of the Presidential convoy, which causes some of the cars to skid across a bridge, which results in the President's wife's death.  Banning goes into depression and isn't able to handle his job anymore, so he gets transferred to the treasury department.

Some Korean terrorists, who hope to unify both of the Korea's, invade the White House and take the President hostage. The terrorists boss, Kang Yeonsak, wants the President to pull out troops from the Korean Peninsula, so North Korea can attack,  But the President doesn't want any part of that.

While this is going on, Mike Banning leaves his office and joins the fight at the White House.  He works his way in the building and is the last "good guy" left in there.  It's up to him to save the President before North Korea and Dennis Rodman take over South Koreans.

There's not a lot of in-depth story-line, just a good popcorn movie.  I was expecting this to be a flat "C" but it was a solid "B."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 9th-15th Training

Monday: 6.3 miles (7:15); 9.8 miles (7:24)

Tuesday: 5.4 miles (7:08); Got sick later in the day...low-grade fever, chills, sweats, sore eyes.  Went to bed at 11am and didn't get out for the rest of the day.

Wednesday: No running.  No fever, but felt pretty weak.

Thursday: No running

Friday: 5.3 miles (7:00ish); In the afternoon, the sickness came back worse than before.  All of Tuesday's symptoms, except more extreme and a fever in the upper 102s.

Saturday: No running.  Felt like death in the morning, so I went to the Express Clinic.  I was expecting it to be the flu but my blood test said it was bacterial.  Was in bed all day after this.

Sunday: No running. In bed most of the day.  Also set the World Record for biggest night sweat because my bed was still wet from last night, as of 5:00pm.  And no, it wasn't pee.

Week Total: 26.8 miles. While I semi-predicted the sickness coming on, I didn't think it would destroy me this bad.  When I had the flu in February, I only missed three days of running but for some reason, this sickness is destroying me.  Losing 100 miles this week, along with two hard workouts is tough but I can bounce back in five weeks.  Hopefully I can get in about 100-120 miles this week with my first quality session on Thursday and then train "normal" the week after that.

I'm also bummed I had to miss the marathon, especially after seeing the results.  But I had some friends run really well there. Alan Watts and Blair Burnette, who I also coach, both ran big PR's (eight minutes and 20 minutes off their old best times), Matt Pulle, won the Masters race in 2:40 and Brian Shelton set a ten minute PR and finished second overall in 2:28.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 2nd-8th Training

Wow, crazy week.  Us Southerners don't like the snow or cold rain, so I had a ton of rearranging this week. Originally I was going to do: An 11 mile moderate progression on Wednesday, 10-12 miles of 1/2 mile on/off at 5:05 total average on Friday and then 20 miles and a 4 mile night jog on Sunday.  Well, we were supposed to get some freezing ran and icy roads on Friday, so I moved Friday's session to Thursday, scratched the progression and was going to keep run a 20 mile long run but with the last 5 miles at MP on Sunday, with a short night jog.

But then it was supposed to be 40 and pouring all day Thursday.  Wednesday afternoon, it was 75 and sunny, so I moved Thursday's 1/2 mile on/off session to that afternoon, about an hour before I ran it.  But we had 16mph winds and since that would destroy my pacing, I changed it to my 10 mile hill gut check fartlek I occasionally do.  It's a continuously hilly route, and I run 3:00 a little faster than HMP and then 3:00 at a moderate effort.  It's a good substitute for the workout I had planned but at a slightly more intense effort. With that session giving me three big stresses in seven days, I was going to jog easily the next three days and stick with my plan of a fast-finish long run and easy jog on Sunday.

But oh, it changed again.  Sunday was supposed to be a continuous cold rain, so I moved the fast finish to Saturday.  Yeah, it was a lot of stressful sessions close together, but it beats running in the rain. So that's what I stuck with.  Now do you understand why I can't have a coach?

Monday:  9 miles (6:35); 7 miles (6:54)

Tuesday: 8.8 miles (6:47); 8.2miles with 6xhill blasts (7:14)

Wednesday: 5.7 miles (6:38); 15.2 miles with 10 mile hill fartlek. Ran five miles on my Newton Hills before turning around. After tracing the route, it said there was almost 2000 ft. of elevation change.  I'd say on over 95% of the route, you're either going up or down. But the plan was 3:00 on/off.  On was starting off around HM effort and working down to 10k effort.  Off was a steady jog.  There were 16mph winds, which was in my face most of the way out.  I felt really flat for a while and kept on debating stopping the workout but I wanted to at least give myself a chance to have the tailwind.  And then I reminded myself that if I'm trying to run one of the fastest marathons in the country, I can't be one of the first people to quit when things aren't going as planned.  Felt better towards the middle of the workout and was recovering really quickly on the jogs. Ended up at 5:11 pace (4:51 fast part/5:22 slow part) for the ten miles, which was a nice confidence booster, especially since I've been training really hard lately and have a lot of cumulative fatigue building up.  I ran this workout over 80s slower in the spring, when I was probably in 64:low HM shape and the weather was 25 degrees cooler without much wind. And when I ran it then, I hammered myself really hard while I felt much stronger this time. 126.5 miles in the last seven days, which is a new lifetime PR

Thursday: 8.6 miles (7:00); 7.3 miles (7:25)

Friday: 4.5 miles (7:30ish); 7.9 miles (7:08)

Saturday: 20 miles with 6 miles fast finish (5:45).  Connor Kamm came down from the big city to run this with me.  The plan was 13.3 miles at low 6:00s and then up to 6 miles at 5:05.  Why 13.3? Because if we made all six of the fast miles, we would be at the bottom of Saundersville, with the next .6 miles until my 'hood a gradual uphill and who wants that? Ran 6:03 pace for the "slow" part and then pushed.  After finding my rhythm in the first mile or so, the effort was really smooth.  I debated pushing the last 1.77 miles (distance of the final road) at sub 4:50 pace but didn't want to get too greedy and just hung on. Connor was getting a little bit worn out the last mile, so I told him to tuck in so I could break the wind and I guess all the Houston Marathon visualizing got to me because I ran the last half mile at sub 4:45 pace and put about 10-15s on him. Ended up at 29:42 for the six miles with balanced splits of 5:01, 5:00, 4:52 (short downhill), 4:59, 4:58, 4:52). I felt really good at the end and felt like I could have run that pace for several more miles.   I also realized thatt Connor was going to qualify for the Trials before I was (he's running the half at Houston). What a jerk; 3.4 miles (7:19). 127.4 miles in the last seven days, which is a new lifetime PR.

Sunday: 10.2 miles (7:00); 6 miles (7:23)

Week Total=121.8 miles.  Another great week in the books and six weeks until Houston.  I'm really starting to come around and with a couple more marathon-specific workouts, I'll be really fit.  I'm running the Rocket City Marathon this weekend for a moderate long run.  I'll cap the speed at 5:25 a mile but obviously slower is better.  This will be my third marathon in 12 weeks, which is a little aggressive, but when I keep them as controlled efforts, I recover pretty quickly. For developed, high-mileage marathoners, I feel that really long runs at 90-95% of MP are a great and underused training stimulus.  I'll take three easy days before the marathon, three easy days afterward and treat it like a marathon race, fueling-wise.  But the main goal this week will be to avoid sickness.  Mary is getting over some bronchitis thing, Kate has had an off-and-on fever for the past week and is super congested and Ellis has  a bad cold and some gunk in his chest. Now Mary's grandparents, who watch her until daycare starts, both have the crud.  Hopefully I'm not next on the hit list.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Man Survives Underwater for Three Days

I've been really stressing the randomness of this page lately.  But even though it took place about six months ago, an article about a man being stuck underwater for 60 hours is making its rounds.  I'll link to the article but basically a tugboat sunk and three days later, rescue divers went to get the bodies and found a guy who was still alive.  He found an air pocket and was just sitting in there for a few days.

That would have absolutely terrified me since being lost at sea is one of my worst fears and I used to have recurring dreams about this.  I'm sure sitting in a pitch black, cold place for several days would have made me go insane.  But I bet the diver was even more terrified when he was down there and someone grabbed his arm, which I'm sure felt like a scene out of Event Horizon.

But I don't understand why the guy was just sitting in there, pretty much accepting death.  If your life was on the line, you don't go down without a fight, just like if someone busts in your house at night, you don't hide in the closet or under the bed.  So if any potential burglars are reading this, don't come to my house unless you're prepared!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Netflix Pick of the Week

I've always liked English movies.  I don't know why, because usually the budgets are smaller and the acting isn't as good.  Maybe it's because subconsciously I feel like I'm good looking enough to star in one.  A couple of months ago, I watched the movie Wild Bill.  It was rated at 100% at Rotten Tomatoes, so I thought it would be a good watch.

The movie is about a guy named Wild Bill who is out on parole after spending eight years in the klink.  He doesn't have anywhere to go, so he goes to his old apartment, where he used to live with his two sons and their mother.  But Wild Bill isn't named Wild Bill for being an angel and before his time in jail, he was quite the hooligan and lived a life of crime.

After he went to jail, his sons were left to fend for themselves after their mother abandoned them.  When he comes back, they are 16 and 11.  Dean (the oldest son) isn't happy to see him and doesn't want Bill to have anything to do with them.  But eventually social services finds out the boys are on their own and unless Wild Bill plays the role of Dad, they will be forced to live in a foster home.  Dean happily agrees to the situation as long as Wild Bill leaves them alone after social services gets off their case.

Over time, Wild Bill understands that if he wants to stay away from jail and keep his boys together, he has to live a clean life.  At first, he does it because he has to, but over time, he does it because he chooses to and he begins to embrace his role as a real father. Things start going well until Wild Bill's old cronies try to force him back into the game and even attempt to get his youngest son involved as well.  Wild Bill don't want none of that.

While it wasn't as good as the ratings make it out to be, it's still a pretty decent action-drama.  The ending kind of came out of nowhere but it's not a bad movie for a bunch of Brits.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Houston Marathon Training

With the my last short race out of the way, it's time to transition over to more marathon-specific training. For a training cycle that peaks with a marathon, I like to spend the last 6-8 weeks zoning-in on marathon pace. I occasionally throw in some stuff faster than half-marathon pace, but most of my focus is spent on extending the distance I can run at my planned marathon pace.  A lot of people use this "reverse taper" method but I base a lot of it off Renato Canova's principles along with my own strengths and weaknesses.

After I axed CIM, I debated just scratching a winter marathon all-together and focusing on trying to break 63 at the US Half-Marathon Championships in Houston and then get ready for Boston.  But I was content with my 63:12 this past June and have yet to have a chance to run a fast marathon when I'm in shape.  And with old age kicking in and the fact you only have a shot at 1-2 good marathons a year, the clock is ticking.

With Houston also hosting the half-marathon championships, as well as offering very appealing time bonuses, I wasn't expecting the marathon field in Houston to be very deep. I'm sure they will have their usual handful of world class Ethiopians but wasn't expecting too many guys around the "A" standard. I usually race well in fields where I have a lot of people constantly around me but I also train pretty much completely alone, so I've gotten used to pushing solo. And I would much rather race a marathon without much company, opposed to a half.  If you go out too hard in the half, you can regroup a bit and save your race some but running a few seconds a mile too fast in the marathon can kill you.

But I recently had some good news when I found out that Luke Humphrey from the Hansons (the racing team, not the 90s band) was heading down and shooting to run under 2:14.  I also heard from somewhere that Patrick Rizzo is racing it, who is also a very tough dude. So with those two guys and hopefully a couple others at that level in the marathon field, I will have some people to follow/pull-along.  I don't know those guys at all but maybe we can form a group for at least 10-15 miles.

When training for the marathon, it's important to not only train for the 26.2 mile distance but the conditions of the course.  You don't want to totally focus on running your race pace, but to replicate what your body goes through on the day of the race. When I was training for CIM, I was going to do my marathon stuff on a course that simulates the rolling nature of the course.  Instead of doing my speedwork on the track, I was going to do a lot of fartleks over hills. I needed to have my body (and mind) used to running over some gentle hills after it's been through a lot of muscle damage. You have to prepare your body for the specific demands of race day and if you don't respect the nature of the course, you're not going to be adequately prepared.

So what problems does Houston pose? None, really. It's a flat and fast, time trial course.  So that means I don't have to stress about hills, I just need to be a rhythmic marathoning machine, which greatly caters to my style and strengths.  Well, I have heard from a few people that Houston has a lot of concrete, but I do a lot of running on sidewalks, and most of my mileage on the roads, except for track workouts. And there's no dirt or trails near my house and I hate running on the grass. So hard surfaces don't bug me at all.

So after a lot of rambling, what's training going to be like and what's my goal? I will probably do a lot of my Canova-style long repeats (stuff like 4x5k with 1k steady jog rest, 3x4.2 mile with 1k steady rest, etc.)  Last year, I did stuff like 10 miles at marathon pace, 10 miles at 1/2 mile at 10s per mile slower than MP and 10s per mile faster than MP.  This time around, I will increase it to 12 miles. While my all-time record for miles in a week is 125, this December, I plan to have a week or two at 130 or maybe even a little higher, depending on how I respond. And right now, I'm debating between running a marathon five weeks out from Houston in the 2:22-2:25 range or throwing in a Canova Specific Block.  Other than that, I'll stay in touch with half-marathon pace from time-to-time, occasionally sprinkle in some shorter, faster repeats and get in some moderate paced running.

Time wise, if the weather is good, 2:15:00 is my minimum goal.  Yeah, my pr is 2:18:52 from Houston last year, which would be quite a jump. But I spent about six weeks with a bum achilles last fall, lost some training time with a sickness in late December and during the race, the it was 40 degrees with a lot of rain and strong wind.  Based off the former race results of others, I felt like my time there was at least worth a 2:15ish under ideal conditions.  And since then, I've improved my half-marathon time by almost 90 seconds, am running more volume and intensity and am running my workouts at much faster paces than at this point last year.  And this time around, I'm doing squats and a little core work, which I didn't do last year.

But on race day, I'll have to adjust my pace based on the conditions. If it it's under 50 degrees and calm, I plan on going out between 66:30-67:00 for the first half. Sometimes I am a little bit too conservative with my racing, so this time around, I'm going to run with a little more confidence. That being said, I greatly respect and healthily fear the distance, so I'm not going to take off like a Kamikaze mania. I'm just going to toe the line confident from my training and not be intimidated by guys with better marathon resumes than me, especially because I consider the marathon my best distance.

With under seven weeks to go, training couldn't be going any better and I'm excited to see how it all unfolds. Hopefully mother nature will be a little bit nicer this time.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November 25th-December 1st Training

Monday: 10.2 miles (6:30); 6.4 miles (7:17)

Tuesday: 5.9 miles (6:40ish); 11.2 miles with 6xhill blasts(7:07)

Wednesday: 9.5 miles (6:53); 5.4 miles (7:30)

Thursday: 11.6 miles with 5 mile race in 23:41.  19 degrees at the start and was super cold the whole way.  Ran solo from the gun with balanced splits of 4:53, 4:48, 4:43, 4:45, 4:31.  Solid effort and felt like I could have thrown down another 4:45 to run 29:30 for 10k. Getting my speed back; 6.8 miles (7:21)

Friday: 5.4 miles (7:08); 10.9 miles (6:58)

Saturday: 10.6 miles (7:20ish). Ran off-road for the first time in a very long time.  I wasn't a fan and it's back to the concrete/asphalt for me; 5.5 miles (7:17)

Sunday: 18.8 miles with 4x5k with 1k faster jog in between.  Goal was to run around 5:05 pace and ended up running 16:13 (3.2 miles), 3:34, 15:48, 3:38, 15:52, 3:43, 15:44.  Had a bit of trouble at first because while I programmed the workout into my watch, I forgot to hit "do workout".  So it didn't alert me when I hit 5k and I went a little further before figuring out I ran too far, so I had to stop and program it again Other than that, the effort was much easier than expected.  I was feeling really mentally lazy and didn't feel like running.  Normally when I run my marathon workouts, I'm very mentally dialed in and am focused on the effort and pace.  If I get too slow, I immediately try to get back on pace.  Today, I just ran and didn't particularly care. Being able to hit my times while not really focusing is a good sign that I'm getting really fit. The pace was really relaxed on my legs and I never had to force anything.  Great first marathon interval session; 3 miles (7:22)

Week Total=121.2 miles. Good overall week.  I was debating doing a fast finish long run on Sunday, instead of the intervals because I wasn't sure if I'd be recovered enough from the race Thursday but I stuck with it.  Next week will be some heavy volume without too much intensity since I've been getting in a lot of quality lately and don't want to overdue it.

This weekend is also CIM, which was my original plan. It'll be bittersweet seeing results, but I hope my friends racing it do well.  From the Nashville area, Jackson Miller (shooting for 2:40), Scott Bennett and Jeanette Faber are racing along with my Saucony buddy, Jake Krong (shooting for 2:20) and Brock Baker. So, good luck to them!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Boulevard Bolt

Thanksgiving is the most raced day in the United States with over a million people toeing the line. I don't know if that's really true, but I think I read it on David Monti's twitter, so maybe it is. Ever since I moved to Hendersonville, I've done the Indian Lake Loop 5 Mile race. It's a really low-key event but it starts a couple miles up the road from me and a lot of my Hendersonville friends run it.  And since the post-race food is good, I've always been drawn me to it. There are a lot of other Thanksgiving races in the area with the Boulevard Bolt being the grand daddy of them all.  Last year had over 8,600 registrants and it's usually fast up front.  Last year, Lee Gilmer won in 23:52, with Brock Baker post-collegiate runner, not the college kid) finishing 2nd in 24:09.  My unofficial five mile PR was 24:04, which was my five mile split at the USA Half-Marathon Championships this past June, so I felt like it was time to sneak under 24. I decided to run the Bolt, when John Byrd, a manager at a local Sonic asked me to run it.  A friend of his, Kris Rhem, has cancer and over a hundred people were running in shirts made for her, so he hooked me up with a shirt and an entry. After six Thanksgiving's in Nashville, I was finally going to run the Boulevard Bolt.

2013 Artwork

I was really looking forward to the race.  My training has been going really well and I needed something to break up the monotony of it all and have something to go after.  The last couple of days leading up to the race, I was feeling really pent up and ready to race.  Brock has run the race pretty much every year, so I knew he would be ready to fight for the win.  I also heard that Sean Keveren was going to be there. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012 and was a 13:48 5k guy and All-American in the 10k. I couldn't find any recent results on Sean but with that kind of talent, I knew he would be tough.  But I had some extra incentive to beat him because there's a Nashville area runner who has a moderate man-crush on the guy and I knew if I lost, I'd never hear the end of it.

The race runs down-and-back Belle Meade Boulevard in Nashville, which doesn't have much flatness to it. You're either going gradually up or down, with the first half mostly uphill, before turning around and coming back down. My tactics would depend on the field but if Lee Gilmer showed up, I was planning on starting pretty hard the first couple of minutes, in hopes to get the pace rolling, before tucking back behind and then making a big push after the turnaround. If he wasn't there and it was just me, Sean and Brock, I was going to relax the first couple of minutes before slowly tightening the screws throughout the race, in hopes they eventually cracked.

Tight Screw

Since I heard parking can be a nightmare, I got there super early and found a decent spot at 6:20am (8:00 start time).  When I left my housee, it was 16 degrees and with the race time temperature 19 degrees, it was probably going to be the coldest weather I've ever raced in.  The 2002 DII XC Championships had some massive snow the day before the race and it was also insanely cold but I don't remember the temperature.  In that race, the heavily favored and East African-heavy Abilene Christian team from Texas lost to Western State from Gunnison, CO, which has an average daily low of -8 during January.  Alaska-Anchorage also surprised a ton of people with a much higher than expected finish and I had an absolutely terrible race. After that race, I vowed to never return to Ohio again but broke that promise on my way to the USA 25k Championships this past May.  It was the first road race I've ever dropped out of, and I'm certain my stop in Ohio jinxed me. Heaven forbid if Cincinnati gets the 2016 Marathon Olympic Trials.  But yeah, back to the race.

Because of the weather, I planned on getting a slightly longer warm-up than usual and was dressed like an Eskimo with my pants, long tights, running shorts and even sported a pair of underwear under my shorts. I also had on a long-sleeve compression shirt, regular long sleeve shirt, thick hoody and not one, but two beanies. I would have also worn two pairs of gloves but I couldn't find my second pair of 75 cent Wal-Mart gloves. So yeah, it was cold.

I went back to my car to change about twenty minutes before the race and spent most of that time shirtless in the parking lot, trying to put on my race shirt before figuring out I went through both sides of the shirt with all four of the safety pins. My race attire was going to be the long-sleeve shirt, shorts, a pair of gloves and I was going to leave the hat behind.  I have a surprisingly warm head for a bald guy and hate the feeling of a hot head.  But after jogging to the starting line, which was about 1/3 of a mile away, I immediately regretted that decision because my ears were killing me.

After knocking out a few strides, it was time to head to the line.  I only noticed Brock and Sean and unless someone else was hiding out, I was going to stick to my pre-race plan of patiently finding my rhythm.  But Mike Tyson says that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth, and once the race started, I was out much harder than expected.  About a minute or so in, I could tell I was running too fast because by the sound of things, I had a several second lead.  I backed off a hair but tried to keep a fast enough pace so they wouldn't run me down.  There were a couple climbs on the first mile and I went through in 4:53.  It felt like I was running sub 4:50 pace for sure, but I figured I got a little bit lazy, so I kept on the gas.  I couldn't hear them behind me anymore and then felt like I had a large rock or something on the bottom of my shoe.  I slowed down and kicked my foot against the ground a few times but it wouldn't come off.  I later figured out it was the big callous behind my toe that probably got super hard because of the really cold temperature.   And at this point, my hands were so cold that I could barely make my thumb and pinky touch each other.

My second mile was a 4:48, which I felt was going to set me up to have a shot at sub 24 since the second half was going to be downhill.  I made a few more climbs before making the turnaround and heading on the other side of the road.  After turning around, it took me eight seconds to meet up with Brock, with Sean on his tail, on the other side of the road, so I figured I had about a 15-16 second lead.  It was a nice cushion but if the two worked together or made moves on each other, one of them could still chase me down.  So I kept on pushing some more.

I liked running on the opposite side of the road because I could see a lot of my friends running and enjoyed all of the people cheering for me, which gave me an added boost.  I felt like my lead was increasing and with splits of 4:43 and 4:45 the next two miles, I knew I was probably going to break 24.  I made the final turn and saw 23:30s on the clock and finished in 23:41 with a 4:31 last mile. Brock finished second in 25:00 and Sean was just behind him in 25:06.  I was happy with the margin of victory because those guys are tough dudes.

It was a really satisfying race because I was able to run a good bit under 24 minutes and felt strong running it. Brock told me that he's been doing his tempo runs at 5:00 pace and said 5:00 pace in this race was much harder than any of his tempos.  So hopefully the cold weather slowed me down some, which means I'm even more fit than I thought. I feel a ton fitter than I did going into my marathon-specific cycle last year, so I look forward to seeing how my training progresses. This is also most likely my last race before the Houston Marathon, unless I decide to run Max King's sadistic Club XC course in a couple of weeks.

So all-in-all it was a great Thanksgiving.  I even decided to not eat your traditional Thanksgiving dinner, since all I like to eat on Thanksgiving is dark meat turkey, pumpkin pie and macaroni and cheese.  So my wife and I decided to have a Pizzagiving, with pumpkin pie, of course.  I even attempted to brave the insane Wal-Mart crowd that evening so I could try and get the 70" Vizio TV, they were selling for just under $1000. The parking lot was completely full, and after parking far away and walking to the store, I saw people were literally sprinting from the parking lot, into the store.  And it was the type of people you can tell don't exactly run very often.  But the TV's were gone, so I will wait until I can try and snag a good deal again.  Not bad a bad Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 18th-24th Training

Monday: 6 miles (6:49); 14.1 miles with 20x400m with 1:00 rest. Was shooting for 66ish and then maybe work down.  Got rolling a little quicker than usual.  After 12 or so, I was getting a little more tired and I had to focus on the last four some.  Pretty tired on the cool-down and while I never hammered, it was the most tired I've been after a workout in a while.  Averaged 64.7 for the 400s and the wind was pretty strong. Down the backstretch, I would have to stay focused and push through it and down the homestretch, it felt like I was running down one of those flat airport escalator things.  The pace was easy but my legs were turning over way too fast.

Tuesday: 6 miles (6:56); 10.1 miles (7:00ish)

Wednesday: 5.3 miles (6:46); 11 miles (6:50)

Thursday: 13 miles with 8x3:00 fast with 1:00 rest, 1/2 mile jog, 2x400m uphill. Plan was to average under 4:50 on the fast portion and I ended up at 4:41 for the fast portion and 5:08 pace for the 32 minutes. Originally, I was going to run down LSC and back (3.55 miles) at tempo effort than have a hard two mile uphill push up Saundersville.  But Kate had to go to the doctor, so I crammed this in during my lunch break, since I have a nice break on Thursday.  Pretty windy out and I was always running up or down a gradual hill. The first few were pretty controlled, I started getting tired around six and the 7th and 8th were tough, mostly because there was a strong headwind on them.  I was hoping to get in four hills but didn't have enough time, so only got in two of them in 76 and 74.  Really good workout and this is by far the fastest I've ever run this workout despite not trying to hammer; 5.6 miles (7:29)

Friday: 7.9 miles (6:57); 8.2 miles (7:14)

Saturday: 8.5 miles (7:00ish); 7.4 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:14)

Sunday: 21.5 miles with 18 miles steady.  Wanted to run 5:25s and ended up at 5:22 average. Met up with Connor Kamm and even though it was in the upper 60s late last week, it was a little over 20 degrees with a 10 degree wind chill at the start with 11 mph winds.  First 10-12 miles were really easy but started getting really hungry and a little lightheaded around 14 miles in, even though it still felt really controlled.  Connor was planning on 16 but he tried some mind tricks on me, changed it to 18 and then picked up the pace some.  He's also much craftier than me on slick bridges and zig-zaggy turns.  Went with a Vanilla Creme Faygo from the ghetto mart next to my car for my post-run recovery, but should have went with my gut instinct and chosen a Coke.

Week Total: 124.6 miles.  Good, all-around week.  I'm starting to get really fit and fast now, which is perfect as I transition into my marathon-specific training for Houston. I also saw that we can choose roommates for the race, so I'm taking applications.  You must go to bed with the TV off, like watching TV/movies, have an "easy" easy run pace and a preference for pizza is an added bonus.  Since I've been having so many good workouts, I'm going to take three easy days in a row and if I feel good, may throw down at the yearly five mile turkey trot.  Mary is getting sick with something, so hopefully she doesn't infect me before the race.  The top of my foot has also been swollen since Monday.  Most of the pain is at the base of my second toe and it hurts a little more further down as well.  I'm leaning towards it being tendonitis since I've had it in that area before.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Netflix Pick of the Week

Since the kids were at their great-grandparents house this weekend, I was able to catch up some Netflix stuff I've been wanting to watch this week. First up was Flight, starring Denzel Washington, who is one of my favorite actors.  Yeah, the dude is getting old, but he can still act.

File:Flight film poster.jpg

The movie starts off with Whip Whitaker (Denzel) waking up with a flight attendant after a night of rough partying. They both have a flight to catch, so he gets on his way.  On the flight, there is some terrible turbelance, which has people puking but Whip has the skills to work through it.  But a piece of the plane breaks and he ends up pretty much nailing a one-in-a-million landing and is hailed by the world as a hero.

But a few people die, potential lawsuits pile up and someone needs to be blamed. After some investigating, many question whether or not Whip's lifestyle initially caused the crash in the first place.  The man definitely has his inner demons but is in denial over how much they control the present, and how much they destroyed his past.

This movie is listed as a drama but can get pretty intense. I was pretty pleased with the ending and even more pleased that Mary survived it.  And one of my favorite parts of the movie was Whip's pharmaceutical man, Harling Mays, played by John Goodman, who could easily pass off as an uncle to Alan from The Hangover.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 11th-17th Training

Monday: 6 miles (6:56); 15.6 miles with 4800m-4000m-3200m with 3:00 rest.  Goals were 14:45, 12:05, 9:30.  I was a little lazy early on in the 4800m and ended up running 14:41 ( 4:57, 4:54, 4:50). I was thinking the 4000m was going to be tough but it was really smooth and I had to slow down the pace a couple times to finish in 12:01 (4:49, 4:48, 2:24).  Since I was feeling good, I decided to go after 9:20 and ended up running  a 9:15(4:38, 4:37) that felt really good.  I'm pretty certain I could have raced one more mile and broken 14:30, so this was a big confidence booster.

Tuesday: 5 miles (6:42); 10.5 miles (6:46)

Wednesday: 5 miles (6:52); 10.7 miles with 4 miles of .15 fast, .35 easy.  I wanted to roll a bit on these and it felt like I was trucking but only averaged 4:17 pace on those.  Whatever.

Thursday: 10.4 miles (6:42); 5.4 miles (7:17)

Friday: 5 miles (6:59); 14.1 miles with 10x1/2 mile moderate, 1/2 mile fast. Met up with Connor Kamm to run this thing with goal times of 2:40/2:30.  It was pitch black, so I only checked my watch a couple times on every 1/2 mile segment.  Felt flat at first but loosened up and felt like a million bucks. Ran all the fast ones under 2:30, with a 2:26 average with the recovery jog at a 2:41 average. Kind of a boring workout but it felt like I could have run this all day long.  Starting to get fit.  I sort of wish I would have gone to Alexandria this weekend to see how many fools I could have smoked.

Saturday: 7.9 miles. Ran a 5k (well, a 3.9 miler) that benefited the husband of one of the teacher's in my school. I was hoping to run it super easy until I saw Jacob Carrigan show up (16:00 guy).  We jogged together and he let me have the win at just under 6:00 pace; 7.1 miles (7:25)

Sunday: 1.2 miles (7:18). Was going to knock out a cool 22 but felt like crap from the moment I woke up.  Tried for a little over a mile before calling it quits because I knew it would get ugly.  Sometimes if I catch a sickness coming on and I chill out and don't do anything except whine and watch TV/sleep all day, my Wolverine regeneration abilities kick in and it goes away quickly.

Week Total: 103.8 miles. Another killed Sunday, which would have given me some nice volume.  At least I had two solid workouts and the long run is overrated anyway. I also called Braun winning the 12k.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Netflix Pick of the Week

I've had a Netflix hiatus for the past few weeks.  It's not that I haven't been watching a lot of it, because I have.  Unfortunately, it's been stuff like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Super Why and lately, Barney.  I tried to get my daughter to watch Phineas and Ferb but she wanted no part of it.  And the worst thing is that Netflix has added a ton of new stuff that I want to see.  I also spend like ten minutes a day stretching/rolling/core stuff now, which is much more than my formerly zero minutes a day.  So current rivals, watch out.
Kate's Most Watched Show

Netflix has added one of my top five favorite dramas of all-time, Dexter.  To be ranked, a show has to be completely over, since shows can go from freaking awesome, to a steaming pile of crap (The Office, which was on it's way to being my #1 show of all-time but plummeted to my #2 comedy, behind Curb your Enthusiasm).  But my top five dramas are: Breaking Bad (#1 show, ever), Lost (last season was painful but the first few sucked me in), Prison Break (completely underrated), The Wire (crappy start, strong finish) and Dexter.

Dexter stars Dexter Morgan, who is a blood-splatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department.  Since he was young, Dexter has had a strong urge to kill.  His policeman father taught him to harness it by following the "code"." He doesn't go around busting caps in random people, but goes after beyond guilty people who have slipped through the cracks of justice.  Because of this, Mary completely hates the show, while most people will view him as an anti hero. 

Most episodes will have him zone in on one person while the main storyline takes place.  There is a  frequent narration style to the show (don't know if that's a real term) and I find Dexter to be a pretty interesting character.  Some of the seasons can drag-on but overall, it's a pretty entertaining watch and on a lot of people's top five lists.  I confess that I haven't finished the last season but heard the series finale was a pile of steaming crap.  Fortunately, Breaking Bad's wasn't.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 4th-10th Training

Monday: 9 miles (6:56); 6.5 miles (7:09)

Tuesday: 6.5 miles (6:53); 10.6 miles (7:19)

Wednesday: 4.8 miles (6:52); 13.7 miles with 3200m, 4:00 rest, 1600m, 3:00 rest, 5x400m with 1:00 rest.  Plan was to run sub 9:40, 4:30 and 66.  Ran 9:35 (4:47, 4:48) which felt nice and smooth.  I was expecting the mile to hurt but it felt really controlled in 4:29.  I felt like I could have continued on and run sub 9:00 for 3200m if I pushed some.  I averaged 64.4 on the 400s and felt super smooth on those.  I thought they would have given me a good bit of oxygen debt but the time was easy to hit and 1:00 rest felt like way too much.  The nasty stomach stuff from the marathon came for some revenge and I had to head to the bathroom after my fifth 400, which unfortunately meant driving across the street. I was going to come back and run a couple 800s at 2:10ish to give me a strong anaerobic stimulus, since I had so much recovery time but it was raining pretty hard at this point and I just ran a marathon on Saturday. So I'll take 5x400m, instead of the planned 10.

Thursday: 10.2 miles (6:41); 6.8 miles (7:27)

Friday: 11.1 miles with 6x400m hills.  Ran the hills in 77 average (had an outlier of 81.80). Since my next workout isn't until Sunday, I wanted a bit of a hard stimulus but nothing too tough.  Hill repeats fit the bill but man I hate them. I'd struggle the last 100m of every rep and the entire time I reminded myself that I'm an idiot for debating running Club Cross next month, which is a course being BUILT by Max King. It's going to be five loops and I'm sure there are going to be plenty of hills. On grass. At altitude; 5 miles (6:39) Also got 125.1 miles for the last seven days, which I believe is a new lifetime mileage PR. Thanks, marathon cushion.

Saturday: 10.7 miles (7:03); 4.4 miles (7:35)

Sunday: 6.1 miles (6:58); Skipped workout. I hate a long, tough track workout for the afternoon but I had a pretty rough migraine and had to lay down for a few hours. When you are married, with two kids, have some training programs to work on and need to go to Wal-Mart, you don't get many running windows. I'll make it up tomorrow.

Week Total: 105.4 miles. This would have been over 120 but at least I got in some extra recovery with the reduced volume, intensity and Friday's massage.  I'm really pleased with the marathon recovery because it didn't tire me out any more than a normal long run. I had signed up to run the 12k Championships this weekend but scratched.  I really don't feel like heading out of town again and I don't feel like spending $500+ on a race that I don't have any motivation to run.  And then I had to figure out how to get to Alexandria from Baltimore and got tired of reading all about these green lines, yellow lines, bus routes, etc. It looks like only about 1/3 of the qualified field for the men is racing.  I'm interested in seeing how a lot of the guys come back from the marathon and am predicting Aaron Braun for the win.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

A few weeks ago, I was debating running the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon.  The course was advertised as flat and fast and they gave a $500 bonus to anyone running under 65 minutes. But training wise, it didn't make a lot of sense. But fellow Nashvillian, Jeanette Faber, mentioned that they were looking for a rabbit to run at 2:18 marathon pace, which is about 5:15 a mile.  I liked the idea of that much better, since I felt it would be more suited to marathon training and would be a good, long stimulus.  After a few back-and-forth emails, I was set to be the 2:18 rabbit.

The agreed upon parameters were to be within 30 seconds of 68:49 at 13.1 miles and 1:45:00 at 20 miles (5:15 a mile, which comes out to 2:17:38 marathon pace). I felt like coming in 30 seconds of 68:49 wouldn't be much of an issue for the 13.1 mile split, but was nervous about the 30 second range for the 20 mile split. However, I was prepared to run as hard as I had to in order to hit the times because I was now somewhat in control of other runners' destiny.

I took a half day off work and Mary and I were on our way to Indianapolis. We rolled in shortly before the elite meeting and I ran into former Tennessee resident, Nate Pennington, who was hoping to run sub 5:10 pace for the half-marathon and is gearing towards the CIM marathon. I also talked to Mark Hadley of Elite Marathoning and later on, saw Paul Peterson, Hurricane teammates Jake Krong and Andrew North and my Nashville buddy, Hunter Hall.  A few people asked if I were going to chase the Olympic Trials time if I felt good at 20 and I guaranteed I wouldn't.  Even Paul cracked up and didn't believe me when I said I was only going to run 20 miles hard.  At the meeting we went over race logistics and some random information and after meeting Jesse Davis, who was also going to hop aboard the sub 2:18 train, Mary and I were on our way to the pasta dinner to eat with Hunter Hall and his mom, where I ate too many cookies, some steamed veggie and pepper concoction and some pasta.  I also talked with the President of the race board for a couple minutes and he said I was one of the most important people in the race.  Talk about added pressure.
Which bald guy am I?

I wasn't feeling too hot at this point and was worried I would wake up sick in the morning.  Thursday, my normal cold routine started.  I had one nostril closed with congestion and Friday night, I had both nostrils clogged and one side of my neck was really sore and tender.  I was worried that I would have some body aches or something in the morning, so I stopped by the pharmacy for some meds, in case I needed them.

But luckily, I didn't need them.  While I was congested, my body felt fine.  I ate a Mixed Berry Powerbar, a couple bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios, some yogurt and chugged some Cool Blue Gatorade.  Cool Blue Gatorade used to be one of my favorite drinks but after this weekend, I think I'm going to retire it.  Maybe I have an aversion or something to it or something now because it used to be my go-to sickness drink.
It was good while it lasted.  It's not you, it's me.

Traffic was terrible on the way to the race and there were a few idiots, who were slowing things down.  I ended up parking with about thirty minutes until the start of the race and I jogged about half of a mile to the elite tent, changed into my race gear, did a few leg swings and strides and I made my way to the line.

When the race started, the half-marathoners shot out as expected and I let them go as I paid attention to my GPS.  The pace felt really relaxed but I went through the mile in 5:08.  Oops. I tried to slow down a little more but ran the next mile in 5:11 followed by a 5:04.  In my defense, the 5:04 was only .98 miles on my GPS, so maybe the sign was 5-6 seconds ahead of place.  While I was directly in front, we must have had a good marathon pack because I heard a lot of "good job marathoners!"  There was a short Kenyan half-marathoner in a Spira singlet throwing me off my game a little bit because he couldn't decide on his pacing.  He would let us catch him, then pull away a bit.  He not only did a great job of running the tangents but would also cut across the sidewalks and grass, saving him a second or two with every turn.  Maybe he couldn't control the springs in his Spiras or something.

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Once we got 4-5 miles in, the half-marathoners were breaking away and there was no one directly in-front of me.  With the road mostly clear, I was then able to lock into my rhythm, hanging +/- a few seconds from 5:15.  Jesse was right behind me, off my left shoulder and Paul was off my right with David Tuwei and Boniface Biwott behind them.   Paul and I chit-chatted some but I didn't want to talk to him too much so he could focus on his race.

Elite men's marathoners on mile three in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Indianapolis, Saturday, November 3, 2013. Robert Scheer/The Star
Elite men's marathoners on mile three in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Indianapolis, Saturday, November 3, 2013. Robert Scheer/The Star

At around 10k in, I grabbed my first water cup.  The lady was holding two cups with two fingers and her thumb and was shocked when she dropped the second cup after I grabbed the first. Seriously? I was able to get a total of about half an ounce or something since I still don't know how to drink out of those.  After that copious amount of water, I took my first gel.

They had clocks with the cummulative time at every mile, so I tried to do some rough math to make sure I wasn't running too fast.  I went through 10 miles in 52:17, which meant I was 137 seconds slower than 5:00 pace, which meant I was running 5:13.7 pace.  A hair quick but pretty much on target.  The four guys were still in tow, with the Americans still in second and third.  Jesse was the hometown boy, so he got most of the cheers.  I would have wanted the local to win, but since Paul was in the race, I was hoping he would be able to pull it out.  Sorry Jesse. 

Around 20k, we approached the first fuel table.  I didn't bedazzle my water bottle enough, so it was hard to find and I had to put on the brakes for a second but was able to grab it.  I took all of my gel and a squirt of water before asking Jesse if he wanted some. Boniface got it first and I assume he gave it to Jesse next.  Finally, the half-marathon sign was approaching and I went through in 68:39.  It was nine seconds fast but you can't get much closer than that.  And Jesse and Paul still sounded like they were feeling good, so that was a good sign.  At this point, I was debating finishing the race since money went five deep and there were only four other guys.  I definitely didn't plan on racing to the end because that would have been a chump move, after telling them I wouldn't and I knew putting my body through the extra stress wouldn't be too smart.

I continued to lead the pack of four as we knocked out the splits pretty consistently.  I paid constant attention to my watch so I wouldn't run too fast because I was finding it very easy to accidently sneak into the 5:10 range.  A few miles after the halfway point, I checked over my shoulder and noticed Paul was about five meters back.  I wanted him to catch up but I had my duties to fulfill.  A mile or two later, Jesse was also off the pace.  I turned around and told Boniface that the mzungus were gone and we kept on.  At 30k, I was hoping to get my third gel but I couldn't find it in time since all of the bottles looked alike and the table was pretty small.  Oh well, I didn't really need it anyway.

My duties were close to becoming completed and it couldn't have come any sooner.  Not because the pace was hard but because I really had to use the bathroom.  In the 19th mile, Boniface pulled up right beside me like he wanted to throw in a surge.  I told him that I was the rabbit and was stopping the pace at 20 miles.  He was confused at first but I assured him that if I kept on running at 20 miles, I would slow down the pace a lot and would not fight for the win. He then pulled back in behind me and I focused not on the 20th mile but on finding a porta-john.  

I reached 20 miles in 1:44:47 (pretty good pacing!) and then stopped.  I knew a guy was supposed to pick me up and when a guy asked me if I was ready to leave, I told him I was going to finish up the race and started jogging away.  We were running through the middle of a park and I used my hawk vision to try and spot any bathrooms because I wasn't seeing any porta-johns in the near future.  Nothing was spotted (or maybe there was one there and my hawk vision is off).

I was hoping to run 6:30s but my body was fighting anything slower than 6:00 pace.  Six minute pace felt like eight minute pace, so I guess my body just got locked into a fast rhythm.  This was the one and only time I wished I was running the Top of Utah Marathon because they had porta-johns every mile.  After going through 22 miles, I was in survival mode.  There's no hiding anything on the internet, and I knew I had to find somewhere fast.  I walked for a few seconds before noticing some kind of plant or something that had a car in the parking lot.  I ran over to it and rung the doorbell, waited about 30 seconds and rung it again.  No answer.  Things were about to get messy until I noticed some heavy, dense shrubbery about 50 meters away. I parted the bushes, did my business and kept my eye on the road to make sure a runner didn't pass.  Talk about a crappy situation!  No one went by and I was back on the road, only to pass a porta-john a minute later. Seriously?

While the pace was feeling super easy, I stopped at a fuel table to get some Clif Shot Bloks to be safe and get in some extra carbs. I've always liked the taste of them but trying to chow down on them while you running was very similar to trying to chew on very dense gum and took me a few minutes to eat all three of them.

Around 24 miles, the half-marathoners and marathoners merge onto the same road.  There were some cones designed to separate the two groups of runners but I still had to do some weaving because the half-marathoners decided to run in the marathon lane as well.  I was still cruising at a pretty easy effort and when I checked over my shoulder in the 26th mile, I noticed a marathoner about five seconds behind me.  I wasn't about to get in a marathon kick, so I threw in a minute or two at sub 5:00 pace, checked over my shoulder again and saw I had a nice lead.  I cruised across the line in 2:26:33 (2:23:20 running time, which included an extra .13 miles of running to the business, the bushes and back on the road), got my medal and a beanie hat and made my way back to the elite area so I could see how everyone else did.
Myself, Andrea and Jake.  I'm kinda embarrassed that I have by-far the tightest pants in the picture

Jake Krong was trying to make a run at sub 65 in the half-marathon but came up short.  But he's gotten in some killer training and maybe just has some residual fatigue in his legs.  But he's more of a marathon guy and will make a run at 2:18 at CIM.

I was surprised to see that David won.  He was always in the back of the pack and didn't strike me as being a threat when I dropped out.  I guess he was hiding out and biding his time but he won by almost two minutes in the last 10k.

Paul was a little short in 2:19:40 but he didn't get in a ton of training for this and ran off my shoulder quite a bit.  I think he will be ready for a sub 2:18 after getting in a couple months of marathon-specific training.  Jesse was a little behind him in 2:21:43.

Hunter ran really well to finish in 2:38, which I was glad to see.

49 year old, Colleen DeReuck and 16 year old Alana Hadley finished 1st and 4th in the women's race to both qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials.  Pretty wide range in age there.

I ended up taking two gels during the twenty miles, three shot bloks on my 10k "cool-down" and had probably less than four ounces of water during the race.

Overall, this was a very motivating trip.  At no point did it feel like I had to focus on pushing the pace, I was constantly slowing it down.  I've never felt as relaxed at 20 miles into a marathon as I did here and feel like I could have run 2:16 without a problem if I finished the race, even though I wasn't tapered and haven't done any marathon workouts yet.  Take away this weekend, give me a two-week taper and people to run with and I know I'm in sub 2:15 shape, even without the marathon workouts.  At first I was debating re-entering CIM but after thinking about it, this race shows that I'm best suited to rhythm courses, which Houston is and CIM isn't.

I was also really impressed with the race board.  When some companies are taking away elite support, these guys are increasing it.  They had about 100 elite runners and gave a $1000 bonus for a sub 2:18 and $500 bonus for sub 65.  Part of me wishes I would have hung in and gotten the extra $1000 and take my chance at the $1200 first place prize, but I had to play it smart. 

Not only is the elite support great, but the course is fast and the weather is traditionally perfect.  This year, there was about an 8mph wind but tempos were in the low/mid 40s.  And I remember one gradual uphill and a couple downhills.  This thing is fast and in my opinion, faster than Houston.  With hotels being pretty cheap (mine was $65), this is a good, cheap marathon that is a perfect place to PR.
Always hangs around 700 ft. with a little bit of running over 750 ft. Can't get much better than that.

For some reason, the results make me look like a chump and that I wasn't doing my job.  They show I was fifth at 10k and the half-marathon and third at 30k, even though I was leading the entire time.  I got a bit of a jump at the start, so maybe that's chip time or something. Hopefully the people who brought me in to rabbit don't think I was slacking.

Balanced Splits: 5:08, 5:11, 5:04, 5:11, 5:23, 5:14, 5:15, 5:19, 5:14, 5:17, 5:18, 5:15, 5:14, 5:13, 5:14, 5:17, 5:16, 5:16, 5:07, 5:20 (end of rabbiting) 6:08, 7:05 (extra .13 of running with the bathroom break), 6:15, 6:04, 6:07, 5:46, 1:10.

Monday, November 4, 2013

October 28th-November 3rd Training

Monday: 10.2 miles (6:31); 5.6 miles (7:35)

Tuesday: 7 miles (6:57); 7.7 miles (7:12)

Wednesday: 5 miles (6:53); 12.6 miles with 4.15 mile tempo run and 2x1:00 with 2:00 rest.  Originally was planning on running a progression run down-and-back LSC and to the top of Bison Way but since I had to show off for some high school ROTC students and run 4:30 pace the first quarter mile, I decided to even out my pace and hang out at 4:50-4:55. Balanced splits were 4:51, 4:51, 4:54, 4:48, 42 (.15) with a 4:51 average. Felt really good at first but the third mile got a little bit tough and the fourth mile was tiring, with half of it up a slight climb.  At the end, I had to walk around for a minute or two before jogging to the track for a planned session of 4x400m with 400m jog at the 61-62 range.  The freaking track was closed, so I took it to the streets.  Was going to do 4x1:00 on, 1:00 off but my legs knew right away that it would be tough, so I changed it to 2x1:00 on, 2:00 off.  I ended up running just under 4:00 pace on these, despite it being on the bumpy section of the road, which makes it hard to get a smooth stride.  Fastest I've run a quarter mile since I split a 55 on the coaches relay in 2010.  The tempo was tougher than I expected at that pace but I was surprised with my speed on the minutes because I didn't feel like I was running that fast. 

Thursday: 8.7 miles (6:44); 6.8 miles (7:10ish)

Friday: 4 miles (6:44). I was going to get in 10ish here but I forgot about Indy being an hour ahead.  I was going to get another few miles in when I got there but I didn't get settled into the hotel until after 8:00.

Saturday: 27.2 miles with the Indianapolis Monumnetal Marathon in 2:26:34. I had to rabbit at 5:15 pace and had to be within 30s of 68:49 (halfway) and 1:45:00 (20 miles).  Took me a few miles to find my rhythm because the half-marathoners were drawing me out too fast.  Got locked into a good pace and was in front with four guys right behind me.  Pace felt incredibly smooth the entire way and I kept on trying to slow it down. Went through halfway in 68:40 and 20 in 1:44:47. At 20, there were two Kenyans with me and a couple Americans a little ways back.  I then decided to keep on going and run the final 10k as a long cool-down since money went five deep and no one else was in sight.  Had to stop for a four minute bathroom break, but the rest of the running was incredibly easy.  Great confidence booster. I definitely could have run sub 2:17 today, without a taper and without any marathon-specific work yet.

Sunday: 4.5 miles (7:13); 9.4 miles (6:56). No soreness or fatigue, except for my left hip flexor being a little tight.

Week Total: 108.7. Went from a rough to a great week.  My first five runs of the week were really rough because I was flat out exhausted from everything last weekend.  Started coming down with a cold on Thursday that is still lingering.  No body aches, just a sore neck and congestion.  I was shooting for higher volume than this but cut Tuesday's run short because of fatigue and got in 8-10 less than I wanted on Friday.  Hopefully I'll be ready for a tough session on Wednesday.  Got in 519.9 miles for the month of October, which is my first time ever over 500.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 21st-October 27th

Monday:  8 miles (6:30); 10.6 miles (7:07)

Tuesday: 8.5 miles (6:32); 7.5 miles (7:05)

Wednesday: 4.6 miles (6:42); 11.8 miles (6:27).  I was planning on running my first marathon-specific workout, which was 3x4.6 miles, with a 1k steady recovery jog up a slight hill.  It was my 3.96 mile loop, with an extra run down Bison Way, which resulted in about 150 ft. of uphill and 215 ft. of downhill, which is somewhat similar to CIM.  But I decided I'll probably skip CIM and just ran after doing a pre-workout warm-up.

Thursday: 11.8 miles with 10x2:00 on/1:00 off.  Ran 5:15 pace for the 30 minutes, with a "fast" average of about 4:35.  Slight wind but felt pretty good.  I ran hard and pushed the last two, which resulted in a good bit of oxygen debt; 6.8 miles (7:02) 

Friday: 9 miles (6:50); 6.2 miles with 6xstride (7:16)

Saturday: 11 miles with 10k road race in 31:28.  Jumped in a local, low-key race.  My plan was to lock into 4:55ish pace and use it as a tempo.  However, the miles weren't marked and I turned off my auto-lap on my GPS.  On my second custom screen, I had my average lap pace showing and a little over a mile in, it was at 4:57, then over the next few miles, worked up to 4:59, before falling back down to 4:56. I crossed the line in 31:28, with a GPS measurement of 6.38, which meant it was probably a little long, since there wasn't many turns at all and 10ks usually measure about 6.3 on my watch.  But despite that, I didn't feel smooth at all.  I was probably a little flat from Thursday's session (normally need two easy days after a hard workout) and after about three miles, I thought I was going to have to slow down a lot but was able to speed up, without much effort.  Guess I have some decent endurance but don't have my wheels yet;  6.3 miles (7:17)

Sunday: 20.2 miles (6:04). Longest day ever.  My dog got fleas a while ago from my wife's grandma's house (stupid stray cats) so I unleased flea warfare.  In the past, I've used Borax but they were out, so I got some diatomaceous earth instead, since it works in the same fashion.  Big mistake since the stuff was just like chalk and I ended up spreading five pounds of it around the house and swept it deep into the carpet all over the house.  It not only was impossible to vacuum, but got EVERYWHERE.  The entire house was coated in a fine layer of the crap.  I ended up vacuuming for about three hours before the run, rented a Big Green Machine from Lowe's and used that for three hours before doing the long run.  I got rolling pretty quickly on the long run and normally run my first section in 6:20 something pace but was at 6:12.  Shortly after midway, my upper hamstrings and glutes were really tired, my neck hurt but aerobically, I felt really smooth.  I ended up running in the low 5:50s the last few miles, only to spend another three hours steam cleaning the carpets.

Week Total: 122.3 miles. I was planning on hitting in the upper 120s but the change of marathon plans curtailed that.  But got in a good speed workout, had a flat tempo run and came back the next day with a strong long run.  This next week I'll probably make my Wednesday workout a little easier than planned since I had three quality sessions in four days and I also have to be ready for this weekend.  I'm taking on rabbiting duties for 20 miles of the Indy Monumental Marathon on Sunday.  I have to run 5:15 pace and need to be within 30s of 68:49 at 13.1 and 1:45 at 20 if I want to collect my bounty.  If the race isn't deep and I'm in a position where I can jog the last 10k at 6:00+ pace and get some money, I may finish the distance if I'm feeling really good (really good, not just good).

Change of Plans

I'm a pretty calculated.  Scratch that, I'm a very calculated person.  And when a marathon is my peak race of the season, I respect it way too much to get in unprepared.  The marathon is a huge mountain that you either defeat or it defeats you.  With less than six weeks to go until the California International Marathon, I don't think I'll have enough time to be in my "A" game shape.  Well, maybe I can but everything would have to go perfectly.  And life seldom works that way, so my new change of plans is to race in Houston.  They are hosting the USA Half-Marathon Championships next year, and it's also a super fast marathon course.  I'm leaning towards the marathon but they are spending a ton of money on the half-marathon and I would get a lot more "perks" when it comes to travel, staying there, time bonuses, etc.  And the half-marathon will be insanely deep and could potentially set me up to break 63 minutes.  But the marathon is my true love, so right now, my plan is that.  So here's some random thoughts on random things that led to my decision, what I need to work on, etc.

But to sum it up in a more concise format, I'll paraphrase Renato Canova: "and athlete shouldn't follow a program, the program should follow the athlete".

  • The CIM course has a ton of rhtyhm changes and I'm not a rhythm guy.  I felt unprepared in this aspect and needed more time to get a feel for things.  To counteract that, Houston is a flat, rhythm course, which is exactly my style.
  • The second cycle in my marathon training, the speed cycle was pretty poor.  I never got in very many longer, intense sessions.  I expected to get in a lot of volume between 4:30-4:50 pace, consistent interval work, etc.  I got very little of that.  
  • I now will spend 3-4 weeks maximizing my speed a little bit more.  I can tell I lack a lot of power and efficiency at 5k/10k pace, so I will work to improve upon that. 
  • Mary is getting ready to go back to school in a few weeks.  When she does, I'll have to help with Ellis' night feedings.  Telling Mary at 2am that I'm not feeding him because I'm in taper mode wouldn't go over too well.
  • Going into my marathon specific phase, I also like to have a lot of long runs behind me.  When I get fit, easy long runs feel like they are barely even a stimulus.  I can easily drop down to 6:00 pace without thinking about it.  So far, I haven't had very many long runs and haven't gotten that endless endurance feeling yet.  If I can't get in the easier long stuff, how can I get in some high quality long stuff?
  • With the Houston Marathon so far away, I can get in some consistent big blocks of mileage.  While I would go into CIM with a few weeks of 125-130 miles, I now will be able to get in several more weeks of that and maybe even climb even higher.
  • To go along with that, I finally feel like my body is starting to become ready for some hard training.  I slimmed down a few pounds, am starting to have good workouts and would like to take advantage of that before beginning marathon stuff.
  • And to go along with that (again), I'm starting to do a lot of the smaller things.  I'm eating better, stretching and doing strength stuff.  I'd like a few months of that, rather than just a few weeks.
  • Lastly, I have almost a two week Christmas Break.  That will let me live a little bit like a pro marathon for that time.
  • Lastly, lastly.  I'm getting older and you can only run so many marathons.  The CIM course has a smaller margin of error when it comes to running fast, while Houston is more "fast" friendly.  I need to get under 2:15 to get a good time in and maybe open up some more doors for me.  
  • And the main thing I will miss about skipping CIM is that I heard it's a deep marathon field.  I've never run a deep marathon before and would love the chance since I'm best over that distance.  And they were paying for my travel, had good prize money and were giving $2,500 bonuses for running an "A" standard and $1000 for a "B" one.  That's some great support.