Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 21-27 Training

Monday: 7.9 miles (6:33); 6.3 miles (7:04)

Tuesday: 5.3 miles (6:36); 6.5 miles with 4x.15 on/.35 off. Only did four instead of eight because my legs were getting worn out.  I thought I was going slowly but I was running sub 4:10 pace, with a nice tailwind behind me. 

Wednesday: 4.6 miles (6:29); 9.3 miles (6:27)

Thursday: Day Off. Forgot my running clothes, so lunch time was out.  After school I had running club, then had to pick up/drop-off my kids, then go to PT, then go to the expo, then head to Waffle House and then to the store for some baby food.  Didn't get home until 15.5 hours after leaving.

Friday: 5.3 miles (6:32); 6.3 miles with 4xpick-ups (6:38)

Saturday: 27 miles with Country Music Marathon in 2:25:52. Even though it wasn't a race, I'll probably make an in-depth post on it.  Started off with the half-marathoners and was clicking off 5:20-5:25 (no watch, but that's 5k/10k splits told me).  They broke away after 10 miles, and then I was on my own.  Hit halfway in 1:11:00 (wanted to run 2:25:59), so I put on the brakes some.  Things got a little more difficult the last 8 miles or so and I had to keep my focus. Took a wrong turn in the last mile, so I would have run a few seconds faster.  Hip didn't hurt and I felt decent when I crossed the line.  I think the early fatigue in the race was due to my body/muscles not being ready for this. 

Sunday: 3 miles. Random runs with my school kids at the Kids Run.  Now, my knee hurts.  Go figure.

Week Total: 81.5 miles. Not a bad volume week with a day off and a three miler.  Hopefully this knee thing doesn't drag on now since I had some low-key races planned.  If I don't get my year's supply of Chick Fil A this weekend, I'm going to be heartbroken. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Boston Marathon-One Week Later

The Boston Marathon is always my favorite major marathon to follow.  Yeah, I know there was a much faster field in London two weeks prior but Boston is a "true" race because there are no rabbits or pacemakers.  And while the course can be fast, it has a small margin of error and can bite you in the butt if you go out way too hard.

Going into the race, I gave Kenyan, Dennis Kimetto, about a 51% chance of winning and Ethiopian, Lelisa Desisa a 40% chance of winning.  Kimetto busted a 2:03 at Chicago and Delisa won Boston last year and has run 2:04.  And among the two of them, they have run six marathons, with every one being under 2:06. Talk about consistency.

I really didn't think the any of the Americans had a shot and if one of them did, it would be Ryan Hall, even though he is a huge wildcard.  Granted, I thought Meb would be the top American but in a best case scenario, I thought Meb would be 3rd-5th overall.  Meb is super consistent but with eight guys in the field at 2:05 or under, I didn't think he had the pedigree to win.

While I was looking forward to seeing who won the race, I was mostly looking forward to seeing the American men duke it out. Beside Meb and Hall, you had Jason Hartman, who has run really well at Boston in the past. And behind him, you had Jeff Eggleston, who was 13th at the 2013 World Marathon Championships, Nick Arciniaga, who was the 2013 USA Marathon Champion, Brett Gotcher, who ran 2:10 in his debut marathon years ago and was the 5th place finisher at the last Olympic Marathon Trials. And with a sub 2:10 to his name, Abdi Abdirahaman would most likely be in the mix.  And besides those guys, I knew Josphat Boit, Craig Leon and Craig Curley were all running and would be tough.

I was watching the race on my laptop and was surprised to see Flanagan take it out so hard.  She wasn't going to be able to run away from the field they brought in and being she's more of a speed-based marathoner, she burns fuel faster than others, so a fast pace would burn through it even more quickly. And with Priscah Jeptoo in the field, I felt like it was only a matter of time before she took over.   

In the men's race, I was surprised to see Meb leading the charge.  My co-PE teacher was also watching and she asked how long the American guys would be able to stay in the lead.  I replied that as long as the East Africans let them.

Right before lunch, Flanagan still had a small lead and Meb was joined by Boit, who still had a nice-sized lead on the field.  Lunch time for me means my first run of the day, so I paused the feed and was going to watch the drama unfold when I got back.  But when I got back, my browser had crashed!  I had the race DVR'd on Universal Sports, but since I heard the coverage was terrible, I decided to look at the results and was completely shocked when I saw Meb won.  Kimetto and Desisa DNF'ed, Ryan Hall ran 2:17 and Arciniaga, Eggleston and Boit all ran really well, finishing 7th, 8th and 11th.  Craig Leon was right behind in 12th and American and Hansons runner, Mike Morgan, finished 13th.  Not a bad showing for the American squad!

I was really surprised by Boit because he entered Boston the week before the race, and has been training for the half-marathon.  For him to run 2:12 in an unplanned marathon and leading for a while is really impressive. Among Boit, Arciniaga and Eggleston, I feel at least one of them will break 2:10 before the next Olympics. While Boit is somewhat new to the marathon, Arciniaga and Eggleston have a lot of them under their belt. And instead of throwing down a fast time and then fading away, they've slowly chipped away at their PR's over time, which shows they still have faster times to come.

I was bummed to see Ryan Hall run so slowly.  His slowest completed marathon was a 2:12 before this with the rest of them being under 2:10. The dude is super talented and I hope he can find a group or coach, stick with them for a couple of years and chase the world-class times again before Father Time comes for him. But then again, Meb, at nearly 39 years old, just won Boston.

In the women's race, Flanagan hung on much better than I thought and ran a 2:22 to finish 6th.  Jeptoo set a new Boston record to finish in 2:18:57.  That's amazingly fast but your mind really becomes blown when you remember that Paula Radcliffe somehow ran 2:15:25 over 10 years ago.  I'm still scratching my head over that performance and hopefully before I die, I can pass away knowing I was faster than the fastest woman of all-time.

After reading about how it all went down, next year, I won't make the mistake of pausing the stream.  But hopefully my fall marathon goes well so I can be in Boston actually racing.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 14th-20th Training

Monday: 3 miles (6:34); 6.3 miles (7:13)

Tuesday: 7 miles (6:44)

Wednesday: 4 miles (6:37); 10.5 miles with 9.04 mile moderate progression. Ran to Gallatin and Rd.x2 and then up-and-down Bison Way, which I figured would be at least nine miles.  Goal was three miles in 18:30, 17:15, 16:00.  Ended up running 18:08, 16:56, 15:47, with an extra 10s of running at the end. Normally I will struggle a bit on the faster portion at this point of the season but it felt really smooth.  I'm more fit than I thought.

Thursday: 7 miles (6:32)

Friday: 3.7 miles (6:58); 11 miles with 10 miles at medium effort. Goal was to start around 6:00 pace and work down to 5:30ish.  Averaged 5:36 and felt smooth for most of the way, except for getting really thirsty the last mile or so, which made me work a little bit harder.

Saturday: 9.1 miles (6:49)

Sunday: 13.4 miles (6:04). Was going to run 15 miles but left a few minutes late and was already pressed for time.  I was then going to make-up for it and run an easy 3-4 miles in the evening but I was feeling too lazy.

Week Total: 75 miles.  Felt much better this week, than last.  While I can tell I lost some of my motor, my basic endurance is still good.  This week, I'll run about 90 miles and take it pretty easy most of the week because I may be a complete idiot on Saturday.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Every Second Counts

Every year I fill out an NCAA bracket.  I don't watch basketball during the season but I'm too analytical of a person to blindly fill one out.  But then again, I don't put a ton of research into it.  I'll just go to and look at each team's page.  I look at how they have played against other good teams and how they are now playing.  Like in a race, you give more of a focus to the people who are closing hard, not dying badly. In my bracket, I had Florida beating Louisville in the National Championship with Michigan State and Arizona being the other Final Four teams. I will brag that I had Kentucky over Wichita State, which most people thought was a shocker.  Kentucky is way too talented and had been through a lot of battles.  Wichita State was undefeated but they had played a bunch of Nancy schools.  Calm seas don't make good sailors. And I had Kansas exiting early since they lost their best player and have been playing like garbage since then.  But even with all my "research", I got whooped by a bunch of women at my work.  And my friend's wife had the Kentucky Wildcats and the Connecticut Huskies playing in the Finals with Connecticut winning. Is she an ESPN basketball analyst?  Nope. She chose her picks by "cutest" mascot.

But there were a ton of close games and if some of those games went the other way, maybe I would have been sitting pretty at the end of the tournament and enjoying the winnings of my $12 bracket pot.  

At the end of the close games, people talk about how exciting the game was to watch and how "clutch" some of the players were and how missed free throws and turnovers in the last few minutes cost the team the victory. And at the end of these close games, the players show an intense focus and play harder, the crowd is on the edge of their seats and you're only a few minutes away from seeing someone crying in the audience, who will forever live-on as an internet gif.  

But I never understand why people put a lot of focus into what happens towards the end of the game.  What about all the mistakes people make in the middle when the pressure isn't there?  Two missed foul shots hurt you just as much eight minutes into the first half as they do with eight seconds left in the game. They didn't lose the game at the end, they most likely "lost" it long before then.

And when someone has an amazing play at the end of the game, you hear about their clutch performance. What really is a clutch performer?  Someone who is able to perform to their potential when the pressure is on or when they feel more is on the line?  Someone shouldn't need external influences to affect them for the better or worse.  A true champion can call upon their skills whenever they want or need to.

Now what's all this rambling about?  Running is the same way.  In a race, every second counts.  Especially in the shorter distances, most people's fastest miles are the first and last with a lag in the middle.  It's easy to start off strong when you're motivated and fresh.  And it's easy to finish hard when you smell the finish line, have people cheering you on and know the race is almost over.  But during the middle, it can be lonely and difficult to keep on pressing forward.  But during those times, the second hand on the watch moves just as quickly.  Taking a mental time-out during this time may help you finish harder, but your finishing time will be slower.  High school cross country runners are the guiltiest of all when it comes to this.  Those guys shoot out like animals, put on the brakes for a mile or two and then finish looking like Usain Bolt.

So what can you do to fix this? Well, people usually race how they train, so practice it during your harder workout days.  Start out controlled and ease into the session.  Once you shake the rust off and find your sweet-spot, mentally focus on the middle intervals and take them one at a time.  When I do 10 reps of something, I use the first 3-4 to get a feel for the effort at hand.  By 5-6, it starts to get pretty tiring but if I can focus until the end of the 7th repetition, I only have three more left to go.  And even though I'm tired and hurting at this point, making yourself push through the last three isn't as mentally tough because you know the end is near.

In races, it's the same story.  It's very easy to go out way too fast, especially in the first minute or two of a race.  And one of the most mentally tough things in racing is when you start to die too early and your miles get slower and slower.  It's much harder to fight when each mile split makes you feel worse about yourself. But when you are clicking off the splits or better yet, accelerating, each mile is a huge confidence booster and serves as positive reinforcement to keep pressing forward.  And the longer the race, the more important being patient early on is.  

While I'm a pure gas tank runner and feel like I'm sprinting the entire time in anything under a 10k, with the longer stuff, I break the race into portions.  In the first portion of the race, I try not to think about anything.  I ignore my competitors and don't consciously make any moves.  If someone passes me, they pass me.  If someone is going too slow, I pass them.  I do my own thing and save my mental and physical energy for later.  Towards the middle of the race, I start to consciously pick people off.  I try to find people a few seconds ahead, who I can tell are slowing down and then slowly reel them in.  I've learned that at this point, if you're not passing people, you're most likely slowing down.  Then towards the end, I finish with whatever I have left.  So by going out smart, I run a better time, get the mental boost of passing people throughout the race and get the positive reinforcement of good mile splits.  Win, win, win.

So the next time you're in a workout or race, constantly keep focused on your current effort.  Mentally stay dialed in the entire time.The next time you race that rival who always leaves you the last mile of the race may already be left in your dust before the last mile even begins.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 7th-13th Training

Monday: No running

Tuesday: 1.1 miles (7:13); 2.6 miles (6:58)

Wednesday: 3 miles (6:43)

Thursday: 5 miles (6:31); 4.2 miles (6:40)

Friday: 8 miles (6:36)

Saturday: 9.1 miles (6:33)

Sunday: 6.8 miles (6:49)

Week Total: 39.8 miles.  I had a little more planned but I got pretty lazy with some second runs.  It's hard to go from no running, to running again.  But at least my hip doesn't hurt when I run anymore.  I'll have some random twinges when I'm walking around but mostly, the pain is still gone despite the fact that my left butt is still swollen.  I'll probably add a moderate run or two this weekend and run around 70 miles or so.  Glad to be somewhat back at it.

I also get bonus points for not being too far off Mo's time.  I predicated he would run 2:07:30. He has way too much horsepower and burns way too much fuel.  The dude ran 3:28 for 1500m less than a year ago...And the men's marathon is also the most competitive event in distance running right now.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lessons Learned from an Injured Runner

Since being on the disabled list, I've learned a lot of things.  Some are obvious, while others will hopefully make me a better runner in the future.  But here's what I've learned about being injured, in no particular order.

1.  You have a ton more free time. Well, technically I wouldn't call it free time, since there's always stuff to do.  But freeing up 2-3 hours a day gives you much more time to do stuff you need to do (cleaning and yard work), stuff you want to do (spend time with my family) and catch up on new TV shows you just started, such as The Sopranos, which may sneak into my top 5 all-time TV dramas.

2. You have to watch what you eat. Man, this is my biggest struggle.  When I'm running a lot, I just eat whatever.  Eating is a habit/hobby because I constantly snack throughout the day, whether I'm hungry or not. Food is fuel, right? Yeah, I get grief from some coworkers, being in I'm a school with only two male teachers and over 50 ladies and hear about how they wish they had my metabolism.  Rather than say, "you could if you ran over 100 miles a week", I just tell them I have to fuel the furnace.  But right now, the furnace is broken. I'm literally burning 1/2 as much calories a day than I was when I was running. But I still find myself in the constantly snacking habit, which has resulted in a few gained pounds and I went from having some abs slowly sneaking their way in to having them jiggle.  Since I should curb that as quickly as possible, I need to have the willpower to shut it down.  But being I'm a fat man in a skinny man's body, it's tough.  So I've resorted to eating more filling things like non-fried chicken and those things people call vegetables.  Maybe in the big picture, my injury will work out for the greater good because it will force me to eater cleaner, which will hopefully carryover to when I start running again. But I definitely learned that it's very hard to not gain weight when you're not exercising.  Two thousand calories isn't much food!

3. I'm pretty lazy. Sorry, no cross training for me.  If I tried, it would probably hurt my hip but even if it didn't, I just don't have that much motivation to head to the gym and sweat away on the elliptical machine.  Maybe one of those fancy ElliptiGO things would be fun but I'm not doing my cardio indoors.

4. Out of site, out of mind. In college, I would freak out while I was injured.  I constantly worried about how much fitness I was losing, how I would get back in shape, etc.  Now, I don't care as much.  Yeah, I felt like I was a couple months away from being in sub 63 half-marathon shape and taking some big scalps at the 25k Championships in May.  And since I'm a few months away from turning 33, I don't have very many peak spring racing seasons left. But life goes on and when training hard and running big races are temporarily out of the picture, I lose a lot of focus.  When I'm training hard, I'm training hard. Most of the time, I don't want to head out the door twice a day.  It's mentally draining and there's other things I'd rather be doing.  But I make myself because I understand each run has a purpose and if I slack off, my goals won't be met.  I live a busy life, so when running isn't a priority, I forget about it. Right now, I don't have much motivation to resume training and when I do, I'll start back over and build for the fall.  And this time, I won't race my marathon with a moronic race strategy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

March 231st-April 6th Training

Monday-Wednesday: No running. After Monday, I had less of an old man limp.

Thursday: 4 miles (6:51). Butt/hip didn't hurt but my hamstings hurt at the attachment by my butt.

Friday-Sunday: No running. Friday, I was limping like an old man again and Saturday and Sunday, I was still in some pain.

Week Total: 4 miles. Lowest mileage week since May 2011.  This is really starting to bug me and I think the Spring season is about done. It hurts when I have to balance on one foot or do anything that uses the extensors in my butt (and it's still pretty swollen). It's frustrating because I wanted to run well at the US 10 mile and 25k championships. After Gate River, I really thought I was going to be in sub 48 shape this past weekend, so it was tough seeing everyone else duke it out at Cherry Blossom.  I was really impressed with Tim Young's sub 48. That dude is running really well this year.  And congrats to Newton teammate, Tyler McCandless, who qualified for the US 12k (assuming they have it again) Championships with his 8th place finish.  Hopefully I will be joining him, Stephen Pifer and Fernando Cabada, there if I can qualify at the 20k this September (we also had Jeremy Freed qualify as a Newton runner but that chump is working for Nike now) . Wade Oliver also ran really well.  We were shooting for at least sub 61:00 with 60:00 as a huge goal but he ended up running 58:45.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 24th-30th Training

Monday: 9.6 miles (6:51); 5.4 miles (7:05)

Tuesday: 10.1 miles (6:33); 6.1 miles with 4xhill blasts (6:58)

Wednesday: 1 mile (7:40). Was going to do one of my favorite long speed workouts: 4800m, 4000m, 3200m but my hip was absolutely killing me.

Thursday: 3.3 miles (6:47). Went to the doctor and he said it was Greater trochanter pain syndrome.  He injected some Lidocaine in the area I thought it hurt in, and he wanted me to run a little bit to make sure he injected in the right spot. I guess it was because the run didn't hurt at all.  But he also found some calcification around a tendon and stabbed it to death with a needle 50 times or so.  I was getting more sore as the day went on and at night, couldn't walk at all. And I know I can be whiny, but this absolutely killed.

Friday: No runnin. Just limping.

Saturday: No running. Same as above, Slightly less limping though.

Sunday: No running. Still gimping.

Week Total: 30.4 miles. Game over for this season. Hopefully I can run soon.

Down and Out

After an injury-free hot streak of over 1.5 years, I have finally been defeated with Greater trochanter pain syndrome.  The week before Gate River, my right glute had a pretty big knot in it and was really tight.  It got a little bit better but a few days later, it came back, much worse.  It would be insanely tight for the first minute or two of my runs, which would give me a pretty noticeable old man limp but once I warmed up, it was fine.

sweet georgia brown - Greater trochanter pain syndrome? Ain't nobody got time for that!

Last Wednesday, when warming up for my track workout, it was much more painful than usual.  After a mile of limping and it not getting any better, I knew it was time to ax the workout. I then went to see Dr. Jeff Kindred at BodyGuard Sports Medicine, so he could look at it with ultrasound and see what showed up. It was my first time seeing him, but I've heard good things about him and he keeps up with modern research and is on top of things. After looking around, he saw some calcification around a tendon in my butt. Obviously you don't want that, so we had to bust that sucker up.  Unfortunately, that involved taking a huge needle and  stabbing it to death for the next couple of minutes, which seemed more like a prison shanking.  It wasn't too bad because I had some Lidocaine in there but I could have gone without the sound effects of it breaking apart, which sounded like Velcro.

Dr. Kindred said it would create a lot of bleeding in the area, which would help speed up the healing process and that I could be sore for 4-5 days.  And man, was he right.  That evening, it felt like I gave birth through my hip (hopefully Mary doesn't read this because I'd probably get tin trouble).  I literally couldn't walk at all, I was in a ton of pain when I was trying to sleep and I was more whiny than usual.

Five days later and I still have a limp going on and obviously, I haven't been able to run yet.  I was hoping to run the Country Music Marathon as a steady long run again, because that's pretty much like the Olympics around here but that's out.  Maybe if I can run within a week, I'll run the half-marathon there, as long as I won't get smoked.

But regardless of when I start to consistently train again, I'm going to end my "season" and do a good base training phase in build-up for my fall marathon.  Looking back at my training, my last non-hurried, solid base training phase was the summer of 2011.  While I feel you need less and less of it as you get more miles in the bank, three years is a long time and it's sometimes good to return to things you haven't done in a while.
So hopefully I stop gimping around soon, can get in some easy mileage and get in 1-2 races a month, used as glorified workouts. And then, go into my speed-training phase fresh, with a nice base behind me so I can run the race I should have at Houston (I'm still pretty bitter about that race).