Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Simplicity in Training

When wasting time on Lets Run this morning, someone posted a video of Asbel Kiprop (fastest miler in the world right now and the super tall, super skinny guy in the video) and some other Kenyan runners doing some cross training type stuff.  I was really impressed with the simplicity of it all.

There was no one constantly critiquing their form, timing them or counting repetitions.  It seemed like it was very unstructured training and while watching it, I can't really understand what the objectives/goals of the training exactly were.  You certainly wouldn't see that crap in Oregon.

Mo Farah

It appears the workout was delayed because of the massive downpour. If you had a group of Americans, they would be playing on the cell phones/laptops or go back inside to wait it out.  Instead, the Kenyans just stare in silence. They felt the training was their only purpose at that time, so they patiently waited it out in silence.  Well, until the white dude took off his shirt.

But I think that mindset and style can work for a lot of athletes, especially if it works for the best in the world.  They aren't completely overthinking and overanalyzing every tiny detail.  They just spend their time doing simple work yet they get world class results.

When people get consumed about every tiny detail, they live and die by them.  Sure, if all the tiny chips are perfectly aligned, then they are primed and ready to go.  But what are the odds of that happening? Becoming obsessed about things you can and can't control easily creates feelings of insecurity. To me, that doesn't seem like the best way to maximize your potential.

So if things go poorly, relax.  It's just running, which is actually a pretty dumb sport when you think about it. There are plenty of more days, workouts and races.  Work on consistency, instead of perfection.  You'll be surprised how far that will take you.  And oh yeah, the workout.

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 20th-26th Training

Monday: No running. Quads completely trashed and in pain.

Tuesday: No running. Same as yesterday, except my lats are now sore too because I was using the railing on the stairs as sort of like crutches so I didn't have to walk down them. I live a rough life.

Wednesday: No running. Soreness on its way out.

Thursday: 5.3 miles (7:03); 4.5 miles (7:15)

Friday: 4.6 miles (6:40); 6.3 miles(6:49) 

Saturday: 10 miles (7:01)

Sunday: No running.

Week Total: 30.7 miles. Felt better by the end of the week and got a massage on Saturday, which hopefully sped up my recovery.  But man, my quads were in pain for a few days.  This week, I'll probably get around 80ish in, if not a little higher, with mostly easy running.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Marathon Training Review

It's now one-week post Houston and I'm still a little bit bummed with how it went down. I sort of feel like the person who going into graduation, made really good grades, had a lot of fancy Latin terms read after their name was announced and when they were just about to grab their diploma, fell flat on their face.  For a while, they feel the sting of falling rather than remembering all the things they achieved leading into it.

But whether Houston went well or poorly, I think it's important to reflect on the training to figure out what worked well, what didn't and what you needed to do but didn't.  Before the race, I 100% believed I was extremely fit.  To be honest, under ideal weather, I was giving myself a 75% chance of running sub 2:15, 50% chance of running 2:13 and probably a 33% chance to break 2:13.  If the weather would have been ideal for the 2013 Houston Marathon, I felt my 2:18 was worth 2:15 or 2:16.  And this go around, I was much, much more fit. But here's the harder workouts I had in my build-up, without including my short hill sprints.

Last workout of pre-marathon training: 21.5 miles with 18 at 5:22 pace (around 95% of MP)

Week One

  • 5 mile race at 23:41
  • 18.8 miles with 4x5k at 5:05 with 1k jog recovery at sub 6:00 pace (MP for the fast portion and 80-85% of MP for recovery jog)
  • 121 miles

Week Two

  • 15.2 miles with 10 miles over 3:00 fast/3:00 medium over hills at 4:51/5:22 average (Probably was around 10k pace and MP pace)
  • 20 miles with last six at 4:57 average (80% of MP and 100% of MP, even though it was faster than that
  • 122 miles

Week Three

  • No workouts
  • 27 miles

Week Four

  • 7.12 miles at 5:11 pace (around MP)
  • 21.1 miles with 18.1 at 5:29 pace (95% of MP)
  •  113 miles

Week Five

  • 4800m at 14:45, 3200m at 9:30, 1600m at 4:30 with 3:00 jog rest (Probably around HMP, 1k pace and 5k pace)
  •  3x4.2 miles at 5:05 pace with 1k jog recovery at sub 6:00 pace (MP)
  • 22.1 miles (80% MP)
  • 128 miles

Week Six

  • 9 mile continuous progression with 3 mile sections at 5:18, 5:03 and 4:51 pace (95%, 100%, 105% of MP)
  • 12x1:00 on/off at 4:31 for the fast part (5k pace or faster)
  • 20.4 miles with 4x5k at 5:02 average with 1k jog recovery at sub 6:00 pace and then 1k at the end in 2:50 (MP for the 5ks, 80-85% of MP for the recoveries, last 1k pretty freaking hard)
  • 123 miles

Week Seven

  • 6400m progression in 19:25 with 4x400m in 63 (a little slower than HMP/105% of MP to a little faster than that pace) with the 400s around mile pace.
  • 16 miles with last five miles at 5:02 (80% of MP, finishing at 100% of MP) 
  • 105 miles
Week Eight
  • 6 mile progression with 2 mile splits at 5:18, 5:02, and 4:45 pace (95%, 100%, 105% of MP)
  • 26.2 miles in 2:17:17
  • 89 miles

Now in Houston, I died.  With the weather being a little more warm/humid than ideal, I should have died after going out at that pace.  But it should have been dying to a 2:15, not a 2:17.  I always say that everything is under the microscope in the marathon.  It's a long, committed race.  If you're lacking somewhere, it's going to show.  It's kind of like going from a relationship to a marriage, if you will.  Things that bother you a little bit in a dating relationship can and probably will turn into a huge deal in a marriage.

After laying out my training and reflecting upon it, I feel there are several things that could have resulted in my ugly seven mile death.  Some of them I wonder about while some of them, I'm nearly certain about.  Here are my thoughts on the matter:

  • I needed more work at marathon pace.  For runners with a large base behind them, work at the specific pace you're planning on running the race is very important.  I only had a few of those workouts.
  • The sickness screwed me up more than I expected.  Yeah, I was fully recovered a few weeks later, but I missed a few important, extensive sessions because of it.  I was going to run the Rocket City Marathon at around 2:25 five weeks out. In the past, marathons at 90-95% of MP, while fueling like a real race have worked really well for me.  I also missed a couple speed workouts because of it, as well as a long marathon-pace workout.  Those sessions could have been a lot of the glue that held my marathon race together last week. And before the sickness, I was really disciplined.  I was lean and mean, doing my stretching almost everyday and was doing a pretty good job of my squats, core routine and short hill sprints. After the sickness, I became very lazy with that stuff since I missed two weeks without much of it and didn't want to add it again so close to the race.
  • I didn't have very many "normal" long runs.  Now don't get me wrong, I feel the more miles you have behind you, the more overrated the easy long run becomes.  But going into the race, I felt like I needed a few more 20-24 milers.
  • I needed long "fast" sessions instead of these cute little short tempos.  In the past, I've done stuff like six mile tempos, long fartlek workouts, even stuff like 10x1 mile on the track.  At the time, I ran these shorter so I would be fresher for my MP workouts, but looking back, I should have run a little longer.
  • In the past, I've done a lot more work at 90-95% of MP than I did this time.  Runs at that effort are great for teaching your body to burn fat more quickly.
  • Normally, I like three hard sessions nearly every week.  Nearly all of these just had two.
  • Going into this race, I felt "fast".  I even felt like I was in faster half-marathon shape than I was this past June when I ran 63:12.  That's not a terrible thing for a flat and fast marathon course if you run smart but going out over your head will really kill someone who has the speed but not the gas tank.

Maybe all of this is making me appear too analytical or makes it look like I'm searching for an excuse on why I tanked.  But as a self-coached runner, it's what I have to do.  While I realize everything I should have done, at the time, I did what I thought was best with what time I had.  Maybe if I didn't get sick, my bases would have been more covered.  Who knows really? It's frustrating to end the marathon on a poor note but I was fit and I take satisfaction out of that.

I'll have to make my spring plans but right now, they are up in the air.  I highly doubt I'll do another marathon because I may attack three of them next October, January and April/May.  So right now, I'm planning on peaking for the USA 25k Champs.  Maybe I'll have a little redemption this go-around since that race was the low-light of 2013.

Netflix Pick of the Week

On the way to Houston, I watched Captain Phillips.  It was a really good film and probably my second favorite movie of the year, behind Prisoners.  Sorry, Gravity was overrated or maybe I'm not sophisticated enough to enjoy it very much.  Or it could have been the 300lb.+ old guy sitting beside me on the airplane, who also decided he wanted to watch the soundless movie with me as well.  Pretty awkward.

But after Captain Phillips, I was on a pirate kick, so I decided to watch a pirate movie on Netflix.  I was never a big Pirates of the Caribbean fan but I would watch a movie where Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew take on Somali pirates. It would have to take place in modern times instead of in Captain Sparrow's day because if the Somali's won, they would need to be to call the insurance guy. And they would also need a phone.

But the pirate movie I saw on Netflix was "A Hijacking".  It's not an overly complicated plot.  Some pirates take over a boat, call up the CEO and try to get a lot of money.  But it's also a lot more complicated than that. There's a ton of tension throughout the movie as the pirates and crew plead with the CEO of the company to cough up the cash.  While this can't compete with Captain Phillips in budget and name recognition, it makes up for it in storytelling, sheer mental stress and if it's vice style, nail-biting.

This is probably one of the best "hidden" movies I found on Netflix.  I was really tempted to choose another cult classic 80s action flick, but that will have to wait until next week. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Competitor Brings Back the Elite Support

As announced on , the Competitor Group, owner of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series, is bringing back its elite athlete program.  It seems like it's great news to runners who run for their paycheck, as it helps them put food on their table.

This is probably a result of receiving such a backlash after taking away prize money/travel money/ appearance fees from their events last year.  It turned the Competitor Group into one of the most hated names in elite running almost overnight but personally, I wasn't part of the witch hunt (nor do I consider myself an elite runner and I don't plan on quitting my day job). While giving out money to help support athletes was a great thing and I support it 100%, I have the belief that fat-cat CEO's should spend their money however they want. I think it's great if they support noble and worthy causes but I don't feel like they should be forced to. If they'd rather sit on their yacht and sip on Cristal instead of putting their money towards more humanitarian type causes, so be it.  I won't respect you for it but I feel it's your right since it's your money.

Oh, the Drama

With this recent turn of events, elite runners need to show they are worth the support.  My Newton teammate, Tyler McCandless, spent his time before the Kauai Marathon visiting schools and handing out new pair's of Newtons to kids who needed them.  And just this past weekend, my Houston Marathon roommate, Patrick Rizzo, talked to middle school students about living healthy lifestyles.  It's good to give back to the people who support you.  You hear all of the time about how there is a huge disconnect between elite runners and those who run for fun or different reasons.  Why should people care about elite runners when a lot of elite runners don't care about them?  And I'm not talking about giving some watered down speech or generic running tips but becoming more involved in the running community and seeing them as equals, whose goals are just as important as their own.  Not because they feel it's some form of charity, but because they actually care and want to.  Too often, the mindset is to take or think "what can you give me" rather than contributing something as well.

A lot of elite runners actually do a great job of that.  They interact with people at races, take part in community group runs and are very accessible to nearly everyone, whether in person or online.  I can't count the amount of times I've sent someone an email about something and got a really in-depth and helpful response. But then you come across the fast runners who only hang out/talk with other fast runners.  Now most of them aren't like that but you'll come across those who have some form of an elitist attitude and frown upon anyone whose PR is a hair slower than theirs.  Why that mindset when their main accomplishment in life is moving their legs fast while weighing less than their girlfriend or wife (for the record, I weigh more than Mary)? I don't know why really.  You'd have to ask them,well, if your PR is faster than theirs. People who run more-so for fun are really the ones who keep the sport alive because they are the ones who spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year on race fees, shoes, apparel, etc. If everyone were elite, the sport would fold-up and die relatively quickly.  I've heard a few people gripe about having to spend money on an entry fee while a lot of people don't think twice about spending a G or two to be able to compete in the Boston Marathon.

So hopefully the support from the Competitor Group hangs around.  And maybe they will throw a few bones my way to run the Country Music Marathon again. Or hopefully at least they will bring back the full size guitars as trophies instead of the little wooden ones.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 13th-19th

Monday: 10.6 miles (6:42)

Tuesday: 3 miles (6:55); 12.4 miles with 6 mile progression. Goal was to run 10:40, 10:10 and 9:40 for the two mile sections and I ran: 10:36, 10:04, 9:31.  Pace felt nice and smooth.  A couple of weeks ago, I really struggled running these paces but today it felt natural, rather than forced (granted it was an extra mile on each section).  Starting to peak rather nicely.

Wednesday: 3 miles (6:53); 5 miles (6:44)

Thursday: 8 miles (6:39); 3.5 miles (6:59)

Friday: 8 miles (6:38); 3.6 miles (6:43)

Saturday: 4.9 miles (7:02)

Sunday: 27.6 miles with Houston Marathon in 2:17:17. Toed the line with A level fitness but ran a D level race.  I chose brawn over brains.

Week Total: 89.6 miles. Thought this was going to be my big breakout race but had a rough showing.  I feel like I could have run 5:10s through 20 and then dropped the hammer some.  Instead, I went out way too hard, burned up my carb stores and died.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Houston Marathon

I was really looking forward to this race.  I trained hard, was fit and would have a good group of guys to run with.  I flew into Houston three nights before the race to make sure I would be caught up on sleep and would be able to relax enough before the race.  I was expecting this to be a big breakout race for me and run fast enough to get me some help in getting to Chicago, Frankfurt or Twin Cities this fall.

I got into Houston Thursday night and was rooming with Patrick Rizzo, who I have never met before.  The guy is definitely a character in a sport that needs more characters.  He was also one of the guys I was planning on running with, so I tried to prod a little bit to see how he was planning on racing.  Not in order to beat him, but in hopes to see if we had similar ambitions in order to work together.

Friday morning, I woke up and ran with Rizzo, Jonathan and Matthew Grey and Daniel Tapia for seven miles and then ran another mile with Daniel.  He ran in the World Marathon Championships last August and seems like a genuine and really cool guy. We discussed marathon training a bit and about how a lot of youngans do too much intensity and end up paying the price for it come race day. He is trained by Scott Simmons, who has always intrigued me, so I tried to pick his brain a bit to see the type of stuff they do.  I then spent the rest of the day bumming around and not doing much of anything other than an easy 3.5ish mile run later in the evening.

Saturday was a much busier day.  I woke up and ran with a group of people, including Connor Kamm (occasional Nashville training partner) Brent Martin from Ohio and Newton teammate, Tyler McCandless, who is always a super nice guy. We ran just over four miles and then Connor completely smoked me in a few strides afterward.

After that, I was finally able to met Stephen Gartside, who is sort of like my Newton boss and is in charge of the Newton Elite team.  He hooked me up with my uniform, warm-ups, shirts and a pair of shoes that wouldn't clash as much with my outfit, like my neon green Distance Elite's do.  I did a brief interview with Sam, who is a cool guy and a Newton intern, took some pictures and it was off to the athlete's meeting. Luckily, that was short and sweet and after getting my race number, I went to the Newton/Fleet Feet tent at the expo and met some more of my Newton teammates.

I also decided to buy a couple more energy gels.  Normally, I just take four but Rizzo told me someone took his bottles in a race sometime, so I freaked out and bought some extra gel so every bottle could have one attached.  Spending an extra four bucks on "gel insurance" isn't so bad I guess.  I then had to bedazzle my bottle in hopes that someone wouldn't mistake it for theirs and also because I was secretly craving a little arts and crafts time. Normally, I use empty Tum-E Yummie bottles but this time, I went with the lab bottles they offered.  They had a straw attached to it, which I felt may be easier to drink out of it.

After turning in my bottles, it was time for the Newton Team dinner.  We ate at the Grove across the street, which was a pretty swanky place.  The burgers and steak were calling my name but I didn't want a bunch of fatty meat sitting in my stomach, so I opted for the more runner friendly pasta with shrimp and mussels. And since everyone ordered dessert (except for Tyler and Jeremy sissying out and splitting a dessert and not even eating the ice cream that came with it), I decided I would as well.  I went with some beignets with hazlenut sauce.  Man, I love carbo loading.  After dinner, I popped a few benadryl, and went to bed.

I was up at about 4:00am and the first thing I did was check the weather.  When I went to bed, it was supposed to be 49 at the race start (7am), with a 44 dew point and at 9am, it was supposed to be 52.  Not bad at all.  But both weather sites were saying current 4am temps were 54 with a 55 dew point and 100% humidity. When I saw that, I changed my goal pace from 5:05-5:10, with mostly 5:05s to the same range, but with mostly 5:10s.  I was bummed the weather wasn't going to be ideal but I figured the humidity would hurt the good ol' Southern boy less than the others and give me a better shot of finishing as the top American.

After a big bowl of Fruit Loops, a Powerbar, big cup of coffee (after a two week coffee fast), a couple packs of Gatorade chews and some Gatorade, it was time to suit up and load onto the bus.  We got to the start a little over an hour before the race and I hung around inside the tent before heading out for a mile jog about thirty minutes before the start, followed by some strides and then headed to the line.

When the race started, a ton of guys shot off.  And not just guys, but I got passed by a few ladies as well (and also was elbowed by a short Ethiopian chick).  The pace felt nice and relaxed and after about half of a mile, I found myself in a pack with Ian Burrell, Patrick Rizzo, a tall Russian guy named Nikolay Chavkin with Canadian Lucas Mcaneney hanging in the back.

Patrick, Ian and I were doing most of the work and we were right on pace, running 5:05ish. It was a little faster than my plan, but it felt smooth.  At 5k, I was going to grab my first bottle, take my first gel and get in some water.  But after getting to the table, my bottle was already gone.  I guess one of the East Africans way ahead of me really liked glittery stars.  Well, it was them or that tall red head. Since our rabbit left us (that dude better not get paid), Ian wanted us to take turns leading miles. It sounded like a good idea at the time so when it was my turn, I obliged. The good thing about setting the pace for a mile is that since the pressure is on you, it feels really easy.  The bad thing is because it feels really easy, you don't realize that you are running too hard.

We were rolling off miles in the low 5:00s.  Part of me wanted to let them go but it still felt pretty smooth. The Canadian guy fell back and the Russian would either fall behind or surge ahead.  Kind of weird tactics, but whatever.  I grabbed my first bottle/gel combo just after 10k.  I downed the gel but getting water out of the bottle was much harder than I thought.  I made sure I cut the tip correctly but it was still hard to get much fluid out.  After getting about a couple of ounces out of it, I chucked it.  Ian made a quick surge and I let him go since it felt like it was sub 5:00 pace for sure.  But he started to slow down again and I left Rizzo in order to catch up.  That right there was the snowball that started the avalanche.  Rizzo was falling back with each mile and the Russian guy was doing his fall back/surge ahead thing. We were still running in the 5:00ish range and we went through halfway in 66:18.  In my mind, I thought I might be able to pull off a 2:12 and definitely felt a 2:13 was in the cards.

Around 15 miles, my hip flexors started to get a little fatigued and at that point, Ian and the Russian surged ahead.  In the past, I've had trouble after getting dropped. When you get dropped in a race, it's mentally defeating, but I was fine mentally at this point.  I knew the pace they were running was too fast and I had no business sticking with it.  But in the marathon, people can go from running phenomenally to blowing up in a matter of minutes.  With the Russian's surging tactics, I had to be ready to move up in case one of them blew up earlier than anticipated.

At 18 miles, I started to feel the wall coming on and split just under 5:17. It was also only my third mile 5:10 or slower.  So much for my initial plan. But I knew if I could hang on to the 5:15-5:20 range, I could still run a really good time, so I tried to keep the legs moving.  I ran the next two miles pretty well but then it started to get ugly, really quickly.  Mile 21 was a 5:21 followed by a 5:24, 5:28, 5:34, and 5:45.  I wasn't giving up at this point and each mile became a lot more painful than the prior one.  I really, really wanted to walk but I wanted to still at least get the "B" standard, which is 2:18:00.  And I knew if I stopped to walk, it would be hard to get moving again and I may not break 2:20, which would result in me not getting any travel or hotel money.  I'm getting poor, so that couldn't happen!

And for some reason, my entire right arm started tingling and going numb.  It was a weird feeling and I don't know what caused it.  And while this was taking place, I felt like an old lady driving on the highway while sports cars flew by me. I believe Rizzo went by first.  I thought he was done for when we dropped him but he showed his experience and regrouped to rally back.  Or maybe it was just me rallying backwards.  Then Tim Young went by and he was absolutely trucking.  I thought Rizzo would be the only one because I never saw Tim during the race, but sure enough, he flew by me like he was Usain Bolt.  Shortly after that, Luke Humphrey flew by me and then Kenyan, David Tuwei.  It mentally hurt getting passed by so many guys but I still had to go after the standard.

I really wanted to be finished and finally, I made it to the final turn without getting passed anymore.  I saw I was going to be able to sneak under the standard and crossed the line in 2:17:17.  I was really dizzy and wobbly legged but knew if I acted overly dramatic, I would get asked a billion questions, have to go by some tent and waste a bunch of time before being allowed to leave.  Some dude walked me back to the athlete area and I tried my best to answer his questions without sounding like an old man on his deathbed.  It must have worked because he let me go back to the elite athlete area.

I saw Jeffrey Eggleston (who rabbited through the half marathon in just over 63 minutes) there and I felt a little embarrassed because I was running so well and ended up tanking.  I respect that guy a lot and when you respect people, you want to perform well for them.  He ended up giving me the best advice I've received since the race.  The first thing I told him is that maybe I need to start eating more salads but in short, he told me not to do that, keep doing what I'm doing and really encouraged me to come race Boston.  I guess it was his way of saying you are in good shape, didn't have a great race today and that I need to take another shot at it to show what I can accomplish.  He will make a wise-old man one day.

My buddy Jake Krong also told me he thought I should have broken 2:15 and if I would have stuck to my pre-race plan, he thinks I would have.  I always appreciate the straight-shooters and constructive-criticism. That's how you grow, not by getting pats on the back.

I also had a few people tell me I had a good race because I PR'ed and I should be really proud of that. Checking out my splits, it's obvious I didn't run a good race.  Yeah, it was a PR but if I had today's conditions last year, it would have at least been worth a 2:16.  And this year, I was a ton more fit. It makes me sound like a whiner and jerk that I'm complaining about a time that qualified me for the Olympic Marathon Trials but I was/am much fitter than a 2:17.  But today was just another day in my training cycle, albeit a very important one. You can't grade a season by one race or one workout and overall, I was/am very fit.

But looking back, I should have dropped back with Rizzo and worked with him.  I feel that if I did that, I would have salvaged a sub 2:16.  Since it was only about 10 miles in when we left him, we could have worked together, hung out in the 5:10 range and I may have had enough mojo left for a big push at the end. Even better would have to run with Luke Humphrey and Tim Young.  Tim ran a nice negative split and had a heck of a race. If he gets in a race with a nice pack, he has a 2:13 in him.

Of course, if someone takes you out over the last part of the race, you wonder if the results would had been different if you changed your tactics.  But the most disappointing part was that I thought I could run with Ian, I stuck with him for 16-17 miles and then he took me out to the shed for an almost four minute severe beating over the last few miles.  That's complete ownership.

Ian Old Yeller'ed Me

I had a lot of hype before this race and wanted to perform.  Well, not so much for the hype but I really wanted to drop a fast time to show you don't need fancy diets, training partners, trails or even a coach to really perform.  But I abandoned my normal conservative racing strategy for a more risky one.  It's frustrating that I had to end my season on that note, but I will rise again.

Random Thoughts/Notes

  • I really think Houston needs to host the Olympic Trials over Los Angeles and I think everyone who competed this weekend would agree.  L.A. would be a cool place but Houston has shown they want it done and can get it done.  And they were just as impressive with everything last year when they weren't hosting the U.S. Half-Marathon Championships.  That shows true commitment.
  • My Newton Distance Elite's worked perfectly.  Before the race, the longest I ran in them was 10 miles (even though I did a single 20 mile run in the regular Distance, which has the same outsole).
  • My Newton teammates also ran really well in the US Half-Marathon Championships.  Fernando Cabada finished 8th in 62:00, Tyler McCandless was 17th in 63:25, and Jeremy Freed was 21st in 63:51. Nicole Chyr won the open women's half-marathon in 78:29, Bob Weiner was 6th in the open men's half-marathon in 71:14 (also won the master's division at 48 years young) and the boss man, Stephen Gartside, finished 5th in his age group in the marathon in 2:58.
  • My Nashville compatriots also had good races.  Connor Kamm had a huge PR, running 65:29 (was on 65:00 pace for almost 12 miles) and Ashley Evans finished 2nd place in the open women's half in 78:47.
  • I'm too lazy to type out my mile splits, but I manually hit my GPS at each mile marker.  Here are the splits:
  • During the race, I took four gels (I think) and probably had less than 16 ounces of water.  Two of my six bottles were missing and I can't remember if I intentionally didn't get one.  It was too hard to drink out of those bottles and I really wasn't thirsty.  Most people drink too much in marathons, instead of drinking to thirst. And you also get a lot of water from the breakdown/release of carbohydrates.
  • I really don't know if/how much the weather slowed me down. You don't notice a paper cut when you have a shotgun wound.
  • Part of me wishes I were in the half.  My workouts before Houston were faster than before the US Half-Marathon Championships last year.  Maybe that's why I bonked so hard.  Going off that, I found some holes in my training and I'll post a training review/spring preview later in the week.
  • Aaron Braun was really impressive in the half but I'll give the best performance award to Matt Llano, who finished 5th in 61:47 and only nine seconds from second place. That guy has been on fire lately and it seems like there are good things going on with Ben Rosario's newly found group in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona Elite.  He seems to know his stuff and I'll probably eventually bug him with something.  Update: This was just posted, which gives an review of his fast workouts the last few weeks of training. Pretty cool stuff.
  • The men's best marathon performance goes to Tim Young.  I figured he would run 2:17-2:18ish and thought Rizzo and Ian were going to be the toughest American competition.  Tim whooped both me and Rizzo and almost got the "A" standard. Great race from that guy. 
  • Sorry ladies, no awards for you. I'm not as familiar with women's running because it would be hard to explain to my wife why there is so many women's names in my Google search history.
  • Overall, it was good I learned the lesson that came from starting too fast.  Better now than when the Pan-Ams/Worlds window opens this fall.  That being said, I still can't figure out why I died so quickly. I know I tanked because of bad pacing but it should have been more gradual. Bad peak? Bad fueling? Who knows? 
  • I always say that people are in control of their own destiny and you shouldn't let others control you or impact what you do.  I didn't follow that advice very well and exchanged my own race strategy for someone else's. I should have known what the result would be.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Houston Marathon Preview

Going into Houston, I'm the most confident I've ever been before a marathon.  I felt like I was in 2:15 shape last year, with somewhat of a rushed build-up due to injury.  This time, I've had more consistent training, more volume and more intensity.  And supposedly they have made the course more faster this year.

What does being more confident mean? I don't know really.  I do know I wasn't really confident before the half-marathon championships last year and it turned out really well.  I was confident going into the 25k championships but I ended up sitting in a chair nine miles into the race while everyone else was duking it out on the course.  But I'm fitter than I've ever been before and don't plan on sitting in a chair again.

Going in, I'm shooting to run between 5:05-5:10 pace, as long as the weather is good, which puts me at sub 2:15 with a shot at 2:13.  I should have a lot of help as several runners entered are in that time range.  Ian Burrell ran a 2:14 at the 2012 Trials and hardly ever runs poorly.  Pat Rizzo ran 2:13 at the Trials and 2:16 in London last year.  He also whooped me at the 2012 half-marathon championships.  On his Charity Bets page, Luke Humphrey is stating he is going for sub 2:14.  And the official list has a handful of Africans that have run 2:10-2:15.  Maybe some of those guys won't show up since overall prize money drops off quickly. But even if they do, I have three other good American guys to run with.  Well, hopefully I will run with.

Ian Burrell.  You see this prime photo opportunity he took away from me with his .3 second victory?  Next time, I won't be so nice.

Luke Humphrey.  This guy is always changing his appearances with different combinations of sunglasses, facial hair and beanies.  But I believe he's the only Hanson running, so I won't fall for such trickery.  
Flowing hair and a 'stache vs. a bald head and a beard. Quite the match-up. If he doesn't have the 'stache, I may be thrown off my game.

I train pretty much entirely alone and like Alan, I'm mostly a one-man wolf-pack.  I went into the race expecting to be mostly alone since most of the good guys will be in the half-marathon championships.  As a one-man wolf-pack, I'm fine with doing my own thing.  If the other Americans shoot off, I'll let them go.  If they hang back, I'll press forward.  But if they are within a few seconds of my desired pace/effort, I'll tuck in, as well as share the work.  No free-loading here.

But I don't really plan on racing those guys, so to speak.  It's in my own self-interests to keep them around since running with people is easier than running alone.  I'd much rather run 2:13:59 and get beat by all three of those jokers than lay the whooping on them and run 2:14:00.  I'm not going to throw down any hard moves on anyone, just smooth and steady running until the end.  But if Ian Burrell is still around  at the 26 mile marker, I'll have a bone to pick with him.

And if you're so inclined, you can sign up to track me here  If you don't want to sign up, they have live searchable tracking on race day as well.

*several day laziness break*

Well, the marathon is less than 48 hours away.  The weather could approach 60 towards the end of the race, with a lot of humidity as well.  It's definitely not ideal conditions but not terrible either.  I still plan on running 5:05-5:10 pace and look forward to going to battle with the other 'mericans. But the biggest change will be in my uniform and shoes.  This weekend, I will be making my Newton Elite debut.  I'm really excited to join up with an excellent and supportive company.  I had a few different options presented in front of me for this upcoming year and I felt Newton was by far the best choice.  I'm a major diva when it comes to shoes and 99% of shoes, I don't like.  I like a nice, flexible shoe without much heel-to-drop.  Almost all of Newton's models fit the bill perfectly.  So which Newton's will I wear this weekend?  Right now, I'm leaning towards the Distance Elite. Originally, I thought the MV3 would be my shoe.  It's only 5.4 ounces but still provides decent cushioning.  It has a nice, fast feel to it but I haven't taken it into deep waters enough on any my long, extensive workouts.  I definitely think it will be my marathon shoe in the feature but the Distance Elite's are a very good "safe" pick, at a little under two ounces heavier, but offers a lot more protection.  I'll have to do a write-up on each of these shoes later on

Distance Elite

Time is running out and I'm ready to see the results of all of my hard traning!

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 6th-12th Training

Monday: 10.1 (7:06). -15 wind chill, which is a new wind chill PR

Tuesday: 6.1 miles (7:02); 14 miles with 6400m progression and 4x400m with 400m jog. Goal was 1600m each at 5:00, 4:55, 4:50, 4:45 and to run the 400s at a quick but controlled effort.  Ended up running 19:25 with splits of 4:59, 4:54, 4:48, 4:44 and averaged 63.6 on the 400s. Temp was 18 and there was a headwind on the homestretch, so it was pretty cold.  But I felt really smooth and each mile felt just as hard as the preceding one, probably due to the fact I was warming up. It felt like I ran faster than I did on the 400s, but I think it just a result of being marathon fit right now, rather than 5k-HM fit.

Wednesday: 9.1 miles (6:41); 5.6 miles (7:17)

Thursday: 8 miles (6:53); 6.2 miles with 7xhill blasts (7:28)

Friday: 4.6 miles (6:53); 10.6 miles with attempted session of 10 miles of 1/2 mile on/off at 4:55/5:15 pace.  Really didn't feel like running this but started anyway.  It was super windy on the way down and while the pace was ok, mentally, I didn't want to run at all.  It's been a tough last couple of days.  I went from sitting on my butt all day, to standing on my feet all day, have been getting 2-3 hours less sleep a night because of work and I have some other things going on as well.  Before a marathon, you need to be mentally rested and sharp and I didn't want to slave myself through this today.  As a result of punking out, I'll add some fast miles to the end of my long run this weekend.  Anyway, I ran 5:07 average for 2.2 miles and averaged 5:17 (1.2 miles total) and 4:55 (1 mile total).

Saturday: 9.1 miles (6:42); 5.6 miles (7:05)

Sunday: 16 miles with 5 mile fast finish (5:45 average). Goal was to run sub 5:05 pace but I secretly wanted to run sub 5:00. I don't know why I said secretly because I was running by myself.  But I ended up running 6:01 average for the first 10.3, which felt really easy and then 25:12 (5:04, 5:02, 5:05, 5:03, 4:58). for the fast part.  About a mile into the fast running, I decided to be content with 5:05s and then if I felt good on LSC (1.77 miles left),  I would run a little harder since the first mile was rougher than I thought.  It was hard to get in that zone where your legs and breathing are working in harmony.  The pace felt slow on my legs but it was hard to run the pace comfortably.  The last mile became a little bit tough and in my mind I wondered how I was going to be able to run about 26.2 of these in another week.   Fast portion was 5s a mile slower than last month (time for the excuse making) but then, I had a 6mph tailwind and this time, it was a 5mph headwind.  And I also wasn't trying to defend my turf from the savvy, Connor Kamm.  And I had some motivation to finish faster last time since I was going to Jumbo and Delicious afterward.

Week Total: 105 miles. Not a bad week, I guess.  I was planning on a controlled workout on Wednesday but that's my massage day.  So I'll do something Tuesday and maybe a very light fartlek on Friday and drastically reduce the volume the rest of the days. I'll have to type-up my pre-race thoughts later in the week and may even do a half-marathon preview.  That race is tight and I think there are going to be a lot of guys in the 62s.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Netflix Pick of the WEek (or month, really)

I've been on another Netflix hiatus.  Having two kids is surprisingly more difficult than one, high mileage takes a lot of time and my two-year old has been too busy watching Strawberry Shortcake, which is definitely not a good pick for this post.  However, American Psycho is.

Christian Bale is probably one of the most talented actors out there.  Some actors play the same type of character most of the time but Bale has some really impressive range and maybe even more impressive than his ability to change his physique for different roles.

In American Psycho, he plays New York Wall Street business man and psychotic serial killer, Patrick Bateman. The movie takes plays during the 80s, when all of the ballers were out there trying to make their dollars.  They are very vain individuals in the pursuit of wealth, recognition and even the best business card. Because they are all after the same things, it even becomes hard to distinguish between one person and the next.

American Psycho Christian Bale Patrick Bateman movies movie stills

Bateman appears to follow the same exact path, except for his secret lifestyle.  While he fits right in with the yuppies and is arguably more conceited than all of them, he has a strong disdain for a lot of them and takes out his rage on his friends and random people a like.

While the movie is probably listed as an action/thriller it has some underlying dark comical tones to it. It's a pretty graphic movie, so if blood bothers you, read the book.  I couldn't even find a trailer that was mostly appropriate.

Monday, January 6, 2014

December 30th-January 5th Training

Monday: 10.6 miles (6:51); 5.6 miles (7:27)

Tuesday: 15 miles with 9 mile progression. Broke it into thirds with goals of 16:00 (5:20), 15:15 (5:05), 14:30 (4:50).  Ended up running 15:55 (5:18, 5:20, 5:17), 15:11 (5:04, 5:04, 5:03) and 14:32 (4:52, 4:53, 4:47). First section wasn't bad, second was a little tougher than expected and the third was rough. I chose this workout because I haven't had a race in a while and haven't done much extended running at a pretty tough effort, so I needed it mentally as much as physically.  I was struggling to find the pace in the last section (obviously) and almost stopped at two miles but with three weeks until Houston, I needed a tough stimulus. And like Canova says, when you start to fall apart, that's when the real training begins.  Was at 4:52 pace at .75 miles into the last mile and then pushed the last 200m or so pretty hard, which meant I split about 68 or so the last quarter mile.  Pretty dead at the end and had a little side stitch going on thanks to eating a couple bowls of Wal-Mart brand Special K with strawberries. At first I was a little bummed that I didn't run sub 14:30 at the end, but looking at my old logs, I ran this workout 10 seconds a mile slower than this, two weeks out from US HM Champs. Well, it 80 degrees with a 68 dew point then, but I'll still take it as a good sign, especially since this is more of a HM workout than marathon one.; 5.4 miles (7:16)

Wednesday: 6.3 miles (7:22); 9.6 miles (6:54)

Thursday: 10.5 miles (6:45). I was going to do 20x400m with 1:00 rest but it was super windy with fat flakes of snow coming down. That's too much for us Southerners.  If I would have gotten it in, I would have had like 132-133 miles for the seven day period; 6.3 miles with 7xhill blasts (7:31). Thought I did six, but I'm a bad counter

Friday: 11.8 miles with 12x1:00 on/off.  Didn't have time to head to the track, so I ran it as a fartlek on LSC.  Was planning on 16, since it was a day closer to my workout but ended up switching it to 12 because I was getting whooped a little earlier into the workout than I would have liked.  It would be nice to run well in this workout but I want to be ready for my more important, marathon session on Sunday.  Ended up at 5:31 pace for the 24 minutes and 4:31 pace for the fast portion; 6.3 miles (7:14)

Saturday: 9.5 miles (7:25); 6 miles (7:11)

Sunday: 20.4 miles with 25k marathon workout (4x5k with 1k float, followed by a 1k hard). Goal was to run 5:05s (15:47) and was joined by my slightly more frequent workout partner, Connor Kamm. Since Connor is running the half in Houston and wanted something a little more HM specific, he was going to run 3x5k with me but push the last mile of each in 4:55.  I ended up running: 15:38, 3:41, 15:40, 3:45, 15:42, 3:39, 15:42, 3:40, 2:50. Ended up at a 5:02 average for the MP effort, which is a really good sign. It was tough to let Connor go at first but I figured it would be good mental practice if someone made a huge move at Houston that wouldn't be in my best interest to follow.  First two were super easy but my hip flexors got a little tired on the fourth. While I was always in control during the 5ks, the 1k was pretty stinking tough. Glad to finish my last extensive session on a good note.  I was going to jog again later in the evening but it was in the low 30s and raining/sleeting.  No thanks.

Week Total: 123.3 miles. A little lower than planned, but a pretty decent week with a really good workout to close out the week.  This week, I'm going to back off my easy day mileage some but still get in an honest two sessions or so.  It's a tad more aggressive than I would normally do two weeks out but I missed so much time with the sickness a few weeks ago, that I want to sneak in a little more training.  The main goal is to dodge the flu that everyone is catching over here.

I also got one of those fancy new Garmin 620s.  I was pretty surprised with my cadence at different speeds. My easy run cadence is about 175, marathon pace is 190 and 5k pace is 200. In college, I was an overstrider and would hang in the 160s, so I guess I've turned into a marathon shuffler now.