Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Last Three Weeks of Training

Monday-Sunday: No Running.

Week Total: 0 miles. Cold and rainy on a couple of days and I got sick with a fever for the rest of the week.  This is the third year in a row and the fourth out of five that I got sick the week of the Rocket City Marathon.  I also found out my iron is low.

Monday: 5.5 miles (7:22)

Tuesday: 5.4 miles (7:06)

Wednesday: No running

Thursday: 5.2 miles (6:58)

Friday: 6.6 miles (7:02)

Saturday: 9.3 miles (6:51)

Sunday: 4.5 miles (7:15)

Week Total: 36.5 miles.  Another low mileage week, yet again. Yeah, I could be a little more gung-ho about it but I feel like crap on all of my runs.  I thought for sure I'd be feeling better but on all of my runs, it feels like I have low-blood sugar or something and get light-headed from time-to-time and am really drained on any type of hill.

My blood test results came in and my iron and iron saturation was still low.  My Vitamin D was also borderline low.  Hopefully some supplementation will help boost it up.

Monday: 5.5 miles on the treadmill (7:15). I can't stand the treadmill.  According to the guy at the gym, this was my first time there in 283 days.  I decided I'm old and weak and need to start lifting again.

Tuesday: No running

Wednesday: 8 miles (6:50)

Thursday: 2.5 miles (7:21). Felt really dizzy

Friday: No running.

Saturday: 9.3 miles (6:53). First day I'm not sore from lifting.

Sunday: No running. However, I did jump on a road bike for the first time ever.  I went on a 12ish mile spin with my friends Darron and Leigh and they had to stop every so often and wait for me.  It's not that it's tiring really, I just spent the whole time freaking out because the front wheel always feels unsteady and on downhills, while they opened up, I didn't pedal at all and just rode the brake.  I'd be a terrible cyclist and a really bad triathlete.   However, I'm debating buying a hybrid to ride my kids and cross country runners and also mess go on short rides from time-to-time.  But man, bikes are expensive.

Week Total: 25.3 miles. Originally, I was hoping to knock out 60ish miles this week.  Running is still tough and on all my runs, I feel really drained and lightheaded.  I don't know what the deal is, but this is the worst timing ever.  I ramped up my iron dosage, so hopefully I feel better in a couple of weeks.

However, since I haven't been running as much, I've been staying up late and watching a lot of TV and playing a lot of Fallout this past week. Here's most of what I've watched, along with my rating and brief rant about it.

Good Dinosaur: A-.  Sort of a Lion King rip-off, except there are dinosaurs.My four-year old daughter also got scared several times throughout the movie and begged me to turn it off but she needs to toughen up, so I didn't (especially since the whole them of the movie is about facing your fears).  Pretty good for a kids movie.

Revenant: A. Good movie and like an episode of  Man vs, Wild, if there were very little dialogue, some Indians, a camera crew who wouldn't be allowed to save him after being attacked by a bear and also, someone killed his son and Bear Gryllis wanted to try and get revenge before he dies himself. It'll be interesting to see if Leo finally wins an Oscar and he's a big favorite on most of the betting sites.  Good cinematography and this should probably have been seen on the big screen instead of watching a DVD screener.

Hateful Eight: A+. It's getting somewhat mixed reviews and this was typical Tarantino with heavy dialogue mixed with bursts of over the top violence.  It was pretty long at almost three hours and most of it takes place in a cabin, but I enjoyed it.  Basically, a couple of bounty hunters arrive at a snowed in cabin with a captured , "wanted" criminal.  They are a few other people in the cabin and Kurt Russell doesn't know who to trust.  Eventually, it hits the fan. Samuel L. Jackson plays Samuel L. Jackson for the 100th time in his career, Kurt Russell  had a nice beard/mustache combo and Walter Goggins did a really good job in his role, even though I'm still mad at him for killing Lem.

Making a Murderer: A+. 10-part documentary on Netflix and I even got Netflix for a month so I could see this.  I ended up going through it in under two days and everyone I know that has seen it pretty much went through it at the same rate. Without spoiling anything, there's a guy in a po'dunk town in Wisconsin who is found guilty for rape and is sent to prison, even though there was some shadiness about it all.  After 18 years and a DNA test, it turns out that he didn't do it but was the guy who obviously should have been the #1 suspect.  He sues for $36 million dollars and since the police's insurance wouldn't cover it, it would put a huge hit on the the town and the police force.  But right before the settlement, he's arrested for murder, with most of the documentary being about the trial. Was he guilty?  Innocent and set-up by the police? You have to watch it and form your own opinion.  Personally, I think the greatest tragedy in the documentary is what happens to another person in it.

Wentworth: A+. Technically, I just started season three.  I watched the first two seasons of this last summer on Netflix and went right them them.  You have a woman who was abused by her husband, so she tries to kills him and is thrown in jail for attempted murder.  At first, she's an insecure and weak individual but with a definite pecking order and a couple of ladies duking it out for Queen Bee of the prison, she has to toughen up.

And if you want to know about Fallout, I'm currently at level 39 and after making Piper my girlfriend, I made her go back to Sanctuary so I can cruise the wasteland of Boston with Detective Valentine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Last two weeks

Monday: 5.5 miles (7:16)

Tuesday: 8 miles (6:46)

Wednesday: 10.7 miles (6:31)

Thursday: 9.6 miles with 5 mile Turkey Trot in 26:22. Ran the first mile with some college kid who runs for Miss St. in 5:06. Slowly gapped him over time and actually was getting a little tired on the hills.  Soleus still on lockdown from the marathon.

Friday: 9.3 miles (6:18); 5.4 miles (7:18)

Saturday: 10 miles (7:40)

Sunday: 2 miles.  Was going to do a progression but I wasn't feeling it at all

Week Total: 60.5 miles. Another booty week.  I'll just call it a post-marathon recovery week.  I actually had zero soreness at all, except for both of my soleus's being insanely tight.

Monday: 8 miles with attempted moderate run.  I was going to run 10 miles, working from 6:00 down to 5:20s but again, I'm being a sissy and my body and mind is being resistant to anything remotely fast.; 5.5 miles (7:24)

Tuesday: No Running

Wednesday: 10.6 miles (6:33) Plan was to start running lower 6s midway through and then work my way to sub 5:30 by the end.  I got down to 6:00 for a couple of miles before I started really struggling.  With a little over a mile to go, I had to scrap it because it was too tough.

Thursday: 3.3 miles (7:42)

Friday: 9.1 miles (6:43)

Saturday: 3.1 miles (6:57)

Sunday: 6.4 miles (7:38)

Week Total: 46 miles.  Super lazy, tired and unmotivated this week.  But I did some bloodwork and found out my iron is really low.  Whenever it's low, my motivation (as well as my fitness) really nosedives.  I'm going in later for more extensive work to try and figure out the cause.  But regardless, the low iron bug strikes again.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

November 16th-22nd Training

Monday: 3.8 miles (9:19) and thirty minutes later, 5.5 miles (7:10)

Tuesday: 8 miles (6:59)

Wednesday: 5.6 miles (7:16)

Thursday: 5.7 miles (7:15)

Friday: 9.1 miles (6:40)

Saturday: 3 miles of random running at a cross country meet

Sunday: 26.5 miles with the Flying Monkey Marathon in 2:42. Was able to get the win but there were WAY too many hills. I seriously was seriously crawling the last 10k.  I'll finish a recap this weekend.

Week Total: 67.2 miles. I thought I would have more volume and intensity this week but I hit another lazy patch.  I better get into gear!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 9th-15th Training

Monday: 3.8 miles (8:32) and then 5.5 miles (7:11)

Tuesday: 8.5 miles (6:35).  Super hilly run with about 1400 ft. of elevation gain in 6.8 miles (according to my Garmin). Nothing fancy, just easy/moderate effort while running up-and-down them. I ran down and back on Country Hills, which is 1.7 miles each way.  The first mile of it showed no mercy with 301 feet of gain and 201 feet of loss.

Wednesday: 8 miles (6:49)

Thursday: 7.6 miles with a 3200m, 1/2 mile jog, 1600m, 1/2 mile jog, 4x400m with 1:00 jog.  I ran with local high school kid, Nash Young.  I've run with Nash a few times and I also run with another high school kid who lives down the street from me, Nathan Watson, every couple of weeks. The thing is, they go to rival high schools and they are the top two runners in the county, and thus, bitter rivals. It's a good rivalry because they have opposite personalities and racing strategies (Nash is the higher-strung kicker and Nathan is the laid-back grinder).  Anyway, it was temporarily awkward because when I met Nash at the track, Nathan was working out.  I made it more fun by making them run together on Nash's warm-up, which was Nathan's cooldown.  But they are both good kids and they are both pretty untapped and will run well in college (Nash at Austin Peay and Nathan at UT-Chattanooga).

But the workout was a 3200m at 10:25-10:30ish, 800m jog, 1600m at 5:00ish, 800m jog, and up to 6x400m at 70-72 with 100m jog. Since it was windy and  didn't want high school impatience taking over, I led the first two intervals and we ran 10:26 (felt a little rusty), 4:58 (not too bad) and on the 400s, ran 70.1, 69.7, 67.3, 64.3.  The 400s got a little tough towards the end and it was a fitness reality check as running 20x400m in 64.3 with 100m jog was one of my staple workouts when I'm in solid shape.  Anyway, not a bad rust buster.

Friday: 4 miles (8:30)

Saturday: 10.5 miles (6:46)

Sunday: 20 miles (6:34).  Met Spencer with a planned 20 miler progression, where we worked from 7:15 to 6:00ish pace.  Since I was meeting Spencer, I should have known we would start out too fast as we dropped a 6:43 first mile.  We tried to be a little more conscious of the pace and kept around the 6:35-6:40 area before dropping it down to a 6:04 16th mile.  We were helped by a generous downhill to a 5:46 17th mile and then I decided to test Spencer a little bit as we went 5:43 and then 5:32.  He hung pretty well and just wants to run under 2:50 at the Memphis Marathon in three weeks but I think he can run under 2:45 and make a run at 2:40.  But the first one is hard to figure out!  But personally, my legs were getting a little bit achy with the distance (first run over 10.5 miles in five weeks) but the pace felt good aerobically.

Week Total: 67.9 miles.  Not a terrible week and two good sessions.  Hopefully next week will be a little tougher with more volume.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2015 Chicago Marathon

Anytime I thought about Chicago or told someone about the race, a word I commonly used was "apathetic". This was my first peak race since Houston in 2014, where I felt like a caged animal going into.  But for some reason, I was really relaxed about this one and to be honest, I didn't have near the hunger that I expected. But I tried to spin that around as me being very cautious and conservative, which is a good thing for such a long distance.  I've learned from myself and others that when you are too amped up about a marathon, you attack too early, go from being on well-under PR pace and feeling like a million bucks, to having an up-close and personal experience with The Wall.

During my build-up, my goal was to run under 2:15.  It was very hard to get much volume at marathon pace living in such a hot and humid environment, but I trained harder for this marathon than any other one, so I felt prepared, especially with my extensive work at 95-100% of marathon effort. I really wish I could have done my marathon prep in some cooler weather so I could get in some workouts at actual marathon speed, but you have to work with the cards you're dealt.

The last several years, the race has had nearly perfect conditions: temperature in the low 40s, with not much wind.  However, the 2015 edition called for race time conditions of upper 50s with strong winds...not exactly ideal racing weather.  I was debating how to adjust my pace and was leaning towards slowing it down 3-5s a mile.  But I ran into Kevin Hanson and he said it wouldn't be too much of an issue and he doesn't think any adjustments should be made.  Since the Hanson's are marathon masters, I knew it was great advice.

And of course, I had other non-time goals.  There were a couple former Tennessee runners, Brandon Lord and Sean Keveren in the race.  It was their debut marathon, but they are both accomplished runners in the shorter stuff.  When I was a chubby cross country and track coach several years ago, Brandon was the top high school runner in Tennessee with a two-mile PR under 9:00.  He also ran 29:09 for 10k on the track this spring.

Sean is originally from Nashville and is turning into a killer on the roads.  He ran sub 63 in his half-marathon debut earlier in the year and has run sub 13:40 for 5k on the track. And ever since I took him out at the 2013 Boulevard Bolt on Turkey Day (who cares if he wasn't in shape, a win is a win!), I have vowed to only give him rematches in the marathon distance in hopes to keep my perfect 1-0 record, intact.

Normally, I would say those chumps would burn carbs at way too high of a rate for the marathon, but for their Chicago build-up, they trained with 2:13 marathoner, Rob Watson, so I knew they would be game (and would most likely smoke me if this was the 2017 edition of the Chicago Marathon)

Men's 4-miler
Sean and Brandon...the two former TN young bucks I was having a showdown with.  Sean should have worn white compression shorts to make this picture more of a ying-yang thing.

My other goal was to take out the usually faster and better looking Scott, Scott Macpherson.  Since it's not too common of a name and to be honest, is pretty much dead as a first name now (out of the thousands of kids I've taught, I've never taught another Scott), I like to take out all the other Scott's when I race them.  And unfortunately, with guys like Macpherson, Scott Bauhs and Scott Smith, it's an insanely difficult task and you'd most likely have better luck trying to defeat Battletoads on NES.

Other than beating the two former Tennessee punks and Macpherson, I wanted to push for a top 5 American spot, which also would be no easy feat.  I felt like I could potentially be anywhere from 2nd-10th but listed the American pecking order as Fernando Cabada, Luke Puskedra, Malcom Richards, Elkanah Kibet, Scott Macpherson, Nick Hilton, Sean Keveren and Tony Migliozi, with myself ranked 9th.

I got into Chicago Friday afternoon and after checking in, I found out I had my own room.  That was good news because I almost always lose to whoever I'm rooming with, I can also watch whatever I want on TV (Sam Chelanga gets scared of horror movies), don't have to worry about someone accidentally using my bar of soap and I can do everything on my schedule.

Shortly after checking in, I then met up with Tony Migliozi, who is a buddy of Newton Elite teammate, Nic Schweikert and we headed to our massage, followed by dinner at some place across the street.  It had an interesting set-up in that there were no waiters and you were given a card, which you loaded your orders on and then paid for it at the register before leaving.  There was a bar, brick oven pizza line and pasta line. Since the pasta line was insanely log and pizza really isn't that much different when you think about it, I opted for the pizza.  But the downside to having no waiters is that our seats got taken like 2-3 times whenever we got up.  But at least the food was good, which resulted in me eating there again the next night with Tennessee buddy, Brian Shelton.

I didn't whine to anyone about this yet, but late Friday night, I came down with one of my killer migraines where I get sick a lot.  And I forgot my prescription medicine, so it was a long Friday night and early Saturday morning.  I even debated flying home and switching to the Indy Monumental Marathon, four weeks later, but I've had great workouts in the past a day after my migraines and they don't seem to drain my body like a virus or something does.  And to be honest, I just wanted to be done with the race.  Finally, around 10am, I was able to eat a little bit of food and drink some coffee and my plan was to guzzle some water after my stomach would let me me.  But I was hoping being severely dehydrated less than 24 hours before my race wouldn't mess me up.

I think the problem was that we had meetings all day Friday at work and when it's not a normal school day, I don't drink any water (I don't carry my water bottle with me and I'm lazy).  I then left to go straight to the airport, jumped on my flight (I always get really dry when I fly) and ate a bunch of that salty pizza for dinner. So I went nearly the entire day without drinking much, which probably really dehydrated me and triggered the migraine.

Not much happened the rest of the day, other than going to the expo, doing a short run, and prepping my fuel bottles for the race.  I followed my normal plan of taping gels to water bottles filled with water and this time, I even got fancy and taped a McDonald's straw to each bottle as well.  Even bottles can be hard to drink out of for me, so I was hoping the straws would help out.

On a stupid note, my regular Newton Elite jersey wasn't approved since the logo size was bigger than the IAAF allowed.  Luckily, I brought my back-up Newton jersey that had no logo.

I ended up talking to Sean later and his and Brandon's plan was to go out with Rob in 1:06 flattish and see how it felt with hopes of building a 2:12-2:14 cushion.  That was way out of my pace range, so if I was going to catch them, I expected it to be after 20 miles.

For my warm-up, I jogged very easily for a little under a mile with Newton teammate, Amanda Scott, before doing some drills and then heading to the line.

The front row had assignments and after that, we could go wherever.  I lined up in the second row, behind some women and almost moved so I wouldn't get trapped behind them. In an ironic turn of events, I was behind a lady who cut myself and three other guys in line at a race once while we were waiting for our massage and then insisted she was there first.

When the gun shot off, as predicted, I got trapped behind the women for about 20 seconds and I couldn't get out.  The eventual second place runner stepped on some long wire or something that got stuck in the bottom of his shoe, so he frantically went to the side of the road and was trying to yank it out, which took several seconds.  But shortly before the first mile, I found myself in the third pack. There was a large pack up front, then another smaller pack with Malcom Richardson, Nick Hilton and Scott Macpherson and my group.

My group was Mitch Goose, Tony Migliozi, Chris Lemon, some tall guy with a goatee, and Ethan Shaw.  Because of the strong winds, we found ourselves in a single file line with Mitch doing the work.  My initial plan was to start around 5:10-5:15 pace and then chase people down the last 10 miles but I found myself running sub 5:10 pace, which was too fast but it was the lesser of two evils. If I ran 5:15 pace, I would be running into the wind by myself, which would be a sub 5:10 effort, even though I was running slower.  So, running a little too fast but getting some wind protection was a better plan.

At one point, Tony asked me if I wanted to lead the pack and switch-off the pace every mile but at the risk of sounding like a chump, I declined.  We were running my goal pace and if I took over the pack, I'd probably lose 5-10 "wind seconds" a mile, so I didn't want to wreck my race to help out the other guys.  If there was a time to be a selfish-jerk, it was today.

So Mitch Goose was still stuck with the pacing duties with us in a train-like line behind him.  At 10k, I grabbed my first fuel bottle.  I tried to untape the gel but it wasn't working.  I then yanked  and pulled on it but still had no luck.  That's what I deserved for being an idiot and using packing tape but after about two minutes of stressing out and pulling every which way, I was able to get my gel. The bad news is that I lost a few seconds on the pack, so I quickly closed that back up.

After a couple of miles, Mitch disappeared, so we bunched up as a pack because the wind was getting pretty bad.  We were gaining on Malcom Richardson, who started to fall behind Nick and the other Scott.  I made a joke that Malcom really was in the middle but no one thought it was funny.  I felt bad for the guy because he was in no-mans land and fighting the wind all alone, which isn't easy, especially when he's such a skinny dude.  We were also reeling in the former TN duo of Brandon Lord and Sean Keveren.

After catching Malcom, he hung out at the front of the pack, which showed some fitness and toughness.  Normally when you reel in a guy, he may fight for a minute and then falls behind, but Malcom wasn't going anywhere.  We went through halfway in 67:54, which was slower than I would have liked but was ok, considering my effort level and the conditions.

Within the next couple of miles, we caught Brandon and then Sean and the pack was down to myself, Malcom, Tony, Ethan and Chris.  For some reason, I had an idiot moment and left the group after I picked it up some about 16-17 miles in but then I realized I couldn't hold that pace for 10 more miles, so I relaxed a little bit and let the pack catch me again.  I was losing a little bit of focus but I heard some guy cheering for me on the sidelines and told me I just had a 10 mile tempo run left, which was a good mental note.  I appreciate people who cheer for you but I've always liked specific advice.  It momentarily causes you to reflect on things and reassess your mindset so you can make the necessary adjustments.

Because of the wind, we were running anywhere from just under 5:05 to just over 5:15 pace, depending on the miles. I was feeling ok but still struggling with that freaking packing tape anytime I grabbed a fuel bottle.  Our pack dwindled down to just me, Ethan, Malcom and Chris.  I was still mostly hanging in the middle of the pack and trying to be patient.  We rolled up some Japanese guy and then Nick Hilton.

Ethan was the next to drop, shortly followed by Chris.  I was feeling somewhat strong but on every downhill, my hamstrings would cramp up, so I knew the dreaded marathon wall could potentially be around any corner.  Malcom still seemed really strong and my assumption was right because he then left me as I was now running in the low/mid 5:20s.

Chris caught back up to me around 22 miles and mentioned that we need to work together to go after the 2:18 Trials time.  I told him I felt like an old man trying to pick a fight in the senior citizen parking lot, so I wouldn't be of much help.  I was running close to 5:30 pace now and was trying to figure out whether to maintain or push through.  If you're hitting the wall and fight really hard, sometimes you fizzle out even more.  So I tried to fight, while staying as relaxed as possible.  I'm not sure if that made sense, but it did at 22+ miles into a marathon.

Chris gapped me by about five seconds at one point but I caught back up and went by him.  I then powered on and caught a Kenyan guy, then Scott Macpherson shortly before 24 miles and figured I was on pace for the lower/mid 2:17 range.  At 24 miles, I tried to push again and dropped a 5:19, which may not sound like much but it was my fastest mile since the last five miles, which gave me some hope.

There was a sign telling us we had a half mile to go and I could see Rob Watson about 15-20s ahead of me.  I wasn't sure if I would be able to catch him but since he trained with Sean and Brandon and I talked some friendly smack talk to them over on Facebook and Strava, I was going to try and catch him. Right before the 26 mile sign, you run up a short highway bridge and I ended up catching him there. It looked like he was having some trouble, but I mentally prepared turning on the rocket boosters, just in case.

On the final straightaway, I picked it up some and I could see the clock in the 2:16:45 range.  It seemed too far away to break 2:17, but I pushed anyway.  Once I saw it hit 2:16:55, I knew I wouldn't break 2:17 and I officially crossed the line in 2:17:02.

It was a PR and a solid race considering how I stacked up to against others, but I was mad I was so close to 2:16.  If I could have run three seconds faster, I could call myself a 2:16 marathoner.  That stupid packing tape was the thing that probably cost me three seconds, along with getting stuck behind the women.

Malcom ended up beating me by about 100m to finish in 2:16:41, Tony rallied back to finish in 2:17:41, Chris Lemon barely missed the Olympic Trials time with a 2:18:06 (but I heard he got approved since he was so close), Ethan Shaw ran 2:19:33 and I don't know who the tall mustache guy was.

After the race, Tony, Malcom and I hung out for a few minutes before the long 1/2 mile trek to our hotel.  On the way there, some lady tried to offer me some pamphlet, but said "never-mind, I see your bib and can tell you don't speak English (my front bib had just my last name on it)."  Now, I know I have terrible English and typos in my blogs because I don't proof-read them but, whatever lady.

Overall,  I liked the Chicago course.  I didn't notice any hills, other than the interstate bridge shortly before the finish and there was a lot of long straightaways.  Crowd support was good, but I really don't remember a lot about the external aspects of the race because when I'm in race mode, I'm so focused internally that I don't pay attention to the things around me.  But it's definitely a really fast course and I rank it  a little faster than Houston and about equal to Indy Monumental.

All-in-all, while I'm happy with my individual race, I wish I would have run faster.  I really want to run a fast marathon before I back off the training but the bad thing is, you only have one race day for the marathon and so many things factor into the race.  I still think my 2:18 at Houston in 2013 was my best marathon because the weather was absolutely nasty and I feel like it was worth 2:15 or faster. I should have run sub 2:15 in 2014 at Houston but I ran like a moron and got really sick a few weeks before the race.  Hopefully I'll nail it one of these days. jshdksd

Random tidbits/data:


SplitTime Of DayTimeDiffmin/milemiles/h

Manual splits from the mile markers (26.36 miles on my Garmin 620 but the GPS wrecked havoc. But I'm not one of those nutso's who insist that not running the tangents adds up to a half of a's all GPS error)

5:08, 5:07, 15:19 (three miles), 5:06, 5:09, 5:18, 5:14, 5:12, 5:12, 5:12, 5:21, 5:04, 5:08, 5:09, 5:11, 5:16, 5:20, 5:11, 5:24, 5:22, 5:29, 5:26, 5:19, 6:21 (1.1 miles). 

Fuel: Four Blackberry Gu's (first time trying it because the expo didn't have my regular flavor)
Water: 30ish ounces?

Shoes: Newton Distance go to shoe for 15k and up races

Monday, November 9, 2015

October 12th-November 9th Training

Week 1 Post-Chicago:

Friday: 4.1 miles (8:45)

Week Total: 4.1 miles. A man needs his rest.

Week 2 Post-Chicago

Monday: 3.6 miles (8:46) and 30 minutes later 4.8 miles (8:00).  I felt like crap on this one.  I ran with a friend for the first half and once he left, actually slowed down quite a bit.

Week Total: 3.6 miles. No motivation, man.

Week 3 Post-Chicago
Wednesday: 1.7 miles (8:18)

Friday: 4.4 miles (7:58)

Saturday: 6 miles with 5k in 16:18. Really, really rusty the first mile considering my warm-up at just under 7:30 pace was the fastest I've run since the marathon.  But I loosened up throughout the race and I was happy to get the win.  I feel like I could have broken 16 if I pushed pretty hard but my goal was just to win.  I also dressed up as Batman and the long cape was a terrible idea.

Week Total: 12.1 miles. Still no motivation to run.  My right hamstring (the one I hurt earlier this year) has been really tight and achy.  Hopefully it doesn't turn into anything.  I also have some groin and hip flexor pain on that side, so I'm sure it's all related.

Week 4 Post-Chicago

Monday: 3.5 miles (8:15) and thirty minutes later, 5.5 miles (7:09)

Thursday: 6.1 miles (7:11)

Friday: 4.6 miles (8:29)

Saturday: 12.5 miles with 10 mile race in 55:54. Man, this one went from feeling easy at first to really rough by the end.  It's basically three miles out, a four mile loop and then three miles back.  It's a definite negative split course and I ran the first half with Brent Ferrell at 5:45ish pace.  At seven miles, I put in a big surge and was hoping to break him but he was always about 10s back.  I covered three miles in about 15:30, due to the long gradual downhills and with a mile to go, I was hurting.  I crawled up the final hill and ended up with the win by about 15s.  I tried to cooldown for a couple of miles but my legs were trashed.  This race was a really dumb idea.

Sunday: 8.8 miles with 6.5 miles at 6:06 pace.  The goal was to run 12 with Spencer, working from 6:30 to 6:00 but we got rolling too fast.  The pace was very easy aerobically at first but after four miles or so, I knew it was going to get tough soon.  I knew running 12 would kill me, so once we finished the first down-and-back on both sides, I called it a day.  I couldn't let the young kid get too cocky, so I told him it'd be better for him to run solo since you have to fight the marathon alone on your own. 1.2 miles (random running at cross country practice)

Week Total: 41.5 miles. Dude, I'm really out of shape.  My right hamstring is also still really tight and I probably need a really deep massage on it.  I'm hoping to get back to consistent jogging next week, but Fallout 4 will be coming in the mail any day now.  We will see.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chicago Marathon Training

I'm now a few days out from the Chicago Marathon and I'm looking forward to seeing how my training prepares me.  The thing about the marathon is that you only have one shot to perform.  You can have a perfect build-up leading into the race but the "marathon microscope" can find one little hiccup and then it's game over. 

The biggest change I made for this marathon is that for the first time since college, I had someone writing workouts for me.  As you can probably tell from most of my weekly recaps, I can get pretty whiny, especially this past summer. 

In August, I had a failed attempt at a track workout but I still partook in my post track workout beverage of a McDonalds Coke (it tastes the best there and the liquid simple carbs are quickly absorbed by your body, helping least, that's what I tell myself).  But while sitting in the drive-through line, I decided I had to quit messing around and hire some help.

For the past few years, I've just done my own stuff, which is heavily based off my spin of Renato Canova's training.  A very basic rundown of it is that you try and become 5k-HM fit from about four months until two months out from your marathon and then you spend the final two months trying to become efficient at marathon pace and building the proper metabolism for the event.

When you train alone, you really get a feel for things.  You're not out there talking and listening to others, you're listening to your body.  And since I not only trained mostly by myself, I coached myself, I felt like I had both ends covered and could usually tell what I needed/lacked at almost any time.

But being married with two young kids, coaching 14 other runners (at the time), as well as coaching an elementary cross country team, my mind was constantly fried. Trying to dissect and write my own workouts was too tiring and since I was developing a habit of dropping out of them, I needed some accountability and a new perspective.  

Realizing, I probably have 2-3 more shots at a lifetime marathon PR (I'm getting old, physically and mentally), I didn't just want to get just anyone.  Learning about a runner takes trial-and-error and I didn't want to take a big chance on someone for my last few shots. So I talked to a buddy who's being advised by Brad Hudson and after contacting Brad, he agreed to help me out.

Brad is also heavily influenced by Canova and a lot of his workout staples are some of my own (long steady runs, big focus on specificity, short hill sprints, short fartleks, etc). I was excited  at the fresh new look of my training and I felt like I would quickly be on my way to a fast time at Chicago.  Not to mention, he has worked with A LOT of fast men and women marathoners and is not only an accomplished coach but a student of the sport, so I had no doubt he would be great to work with.

After nearly two months of working with him, what are the differences in my individual training? The major difference is that every single weekend is TOUGH. Since I started working with him in early August, my only "easy" paced long run was about 23 miles.  I was allowed to run whatever pace I wanted, which doesn't sound too bad, but it was the day after a 4x2 mile interval workout and part of a 42 mile weekend.  And I believe it was my first run over 20 miles in over three months.

Other than that, every long run has been at a moderate to fast pace and I routinely cover 22+ miles with frequent doubles in the evening afterwards.  To be honest, I really miss my cliche 20 mile long runs at 6:10ish pace but I've always felt that once you are pretty fit, they aren't a very good training stimulus anymore.

Besides the tough weekends, an average week is typically some sort of interval work between 10k-HM pace in the middle of the week with a day of short hill sprints and some relaxed 100m strides. I used to run the hill sprints a few years ago and to be honest, cut them out because I was lazy and I hated them.  But I feel they are beneficial and I've been diligent at doing them this time. The training seems a little simple but I feel it has prepared me well for the marathon distance.

After reflecting on my 2014 Houston race, I felt like I was too fast and while I got in some decent workouts at 105-110% of marathon pace, I needed more work at speeds just below marathon pace, which is where your body starts to burn fat and carbs are nearly a 50% rate.

This time, all of the extended steady running, combined with frequently doubling back in the evening on long runs days, has hopefully resulted in a more fuel-efficient marathon engine.  While I feel like I was much more HM fast before the Houston Marathon, this time, I feel like I could kick the crap out of my old self in anything longer than a marathon.

And something else I've done totally differently is that I do my main workout in the early morning before work, rather than trying to knock it out in the evening.  It's hard to wake up as early as 4am some days and do a large portion of my runs in the dark but by doing it first thing in the morning, I don't have to attempt it after a long day of work when I'm mentally and physically tired and also take away additional time from my family.

And an additional added bonus that I feel is going to help me in Chicago is that other than my weekend long runs (where I'll eat a small bowl of cereal beforehand and a gel or two during the run), is that all of my morning running has been on an empty stomach, after a 10+ hour fast.  Especially on the faster intervals, where I'm burning nearly 100% carbs for my energy demands, my body is hopefully getting in a lower carb state, which helps change my body into a better marathon fueling engine.  I've never understood why a lot marathoners in training constantly guzzle fuel on their workouts.  You can't properly train for a low-carb race if you are constantly feeding yourself carbohydrates!

But to make a long story short, I'm excited to see how the revamped training will help my performance this weekend.  While the intensity and even some of the weekly volume has been down, I feel much better prepared for the marathon distance than I did almost two years ago.

Here's an abbreviated version of my 10 week marathon build-up, which is when I started working with Brad.  It includes the mileage for the week, along with key workouts, minus strides and hill sprints. Rather than put down time averages and trying to justify weather adjustments and all of that other crap, I just put down efforts to make it more understandable and relatable. There were a few workouts that I had to shorten or had to completely change but this is how everything looked when it's all said and done.

Week 10: 4x200m at mile to 3k pace with 200m jog, 4 miles working from MP to HMP; Chicago Marathon

Week 9: 92 miles with 5x1 mile at 10k with 2:30 jog; 14 miles with 2x3 mile at MP with 60s jog

Week 8: 104 miles with 4 miles of 30s at mile-3k pace with 2:30 at 90% of MP; 10.2 miles progression, working from a little slower than MP to a little faster than MP

Week 7: 120 miles with 4x2k (a little slower than 10k pace) with 2:00 jog and 1k (a little slower than 5k pace) with 3:00 jog; 22.7 miles with 5x5k at a little faster than MP with 1k jog at about 90% of MP and a 5 mile evening run

Week 6: 108 miles with 20k race;23.6 miles with a 21.5 mile slight progression run averaging about 95% of MP

Week 5: 89 miles with 2x200m at 3k with 200m jog, mile at 5k pace, 1/2 mile jog, 3k a little faster than HMP, 1/2 mile jog, 4x400m at 3k pace with 1:00 jog; 8x30s at mile pace, 2:30 easy

Week 4: 121 miles with 6x2k working from HM to 10k pace with 2:00 jog; 24 miles with nine mile warm-up, 4 miles of 1 minute at faster than 5k pace, 1:00 jog (averaging marathon pace for the four miles), right into 6 miles at MP, 1 mile easy, 3 miles a little faster than MP, 1 mile easy

Week 3: 115 miles with 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 with equal jog recovery with the fast minutes being between 10k-HMP and the slow minutes being a little slower than 90% of MP; 5k regression run, working from 10k pace to marathon pace (ran a 5k for some $); 21.5 miles with 16.5 mile progression starting a little slower than 95% of MP and working down to a little slower than MP and a 5 mile evening run

Week 2: 115 miles with 12x1k working from HM to 10k pace with 90s jog; 20 miles with 5x3k at MP with 1k at 90% of MP and a 5 mile evening run

Week 1: 115 miles with 4 miles a little faster than HM pace, half mile jog, 6x3:00 gradual uphill at 10k effort; 4x2 miles starting a little slower than working to a little faster than HM pace; 22.5 miles easy


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October 5th-11th Training

Monday: 5 miles (7:14); 4.7 miles (8:05); 5.5 miles (7:16)

Tuesday: 6.8 miles (7:14); 8.1 miles with 8xhill blasts and broke 4:00 pace on a couple of them, for the first time ever (7:28)

Wednesday: 5.4 miles (7:39); 11.5 miles with 5x1 mile with 2:30 jog in 4:43, 4:42, 4:42, 4:43, 4:42.  Solid session and I had to keep the brakes on a bit because I would always run the first half around 4:40 pace. It was really windy outside and I'd usually lose a a couple of seconds on the middle 200m.  Not a bad session because I thought turning over my legs this quickly would be tough at the end of marathon training but it came pretty easily and I recovered well.

Thursday: 10.1 miles (6:36)

Friday: 6.3 miles (7:14); 4.6 miles (8:11); 2.5 miles with 10x100m relaxed (6:53)

Saturday: 6 miles easy to lightly moderate, 2x3 miles at MP with 60s rest, 2 miles cooldown.  It was nasty out there at 50 degrees, strong winds and steady rain.  I started out way too fast and then my watch screwed up, so I had no idea how fast I ran on the first.  On the recovery, I jogged to my car and found a stopwatch and used that...15:27 on the second.  Did not feel very smooth at all on this but I'll blame it on the weather and the taper (everyone blames everything on the taper).  At least I found $20 on the track.

Sunday: 9 miles (6:24); 3.2 miles (7:33)

Week Total=91.7 miles. I enjoyed the lower mileage and am looking forward to even more of a drop next week.  Now, I just can't get sick!

I've become extremely lazy with updating non-training log stuff but I'll post two things before the marathon next weekend: an overview of my training and how it's changed since my last marathon race (Houston 2014) and then my race plan/thoughts going into the Chicago Marathon

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September 21st-27th Training

Monday: 5 miles (7:27); 5 miles (8:17); 5.5 miles (7:17)

Tuesday: 12.4 miles (6:58)

Wednesday: 9.4 miles with 10xhill blasts (7:24); 5.6 miles (7:21)

Thursday: 10 miles with bombed workout.  
The plan was 3k at 4:50-4:55, 2k at 4:40-4:45 and 5x1k, working from 4:40 to 4:30.  My legs were really heavy from the start and I was slowing down with each lap.  After 2200m into the 3k, I was currently running about 5:10 pace, so I called it a morning; 6.1 miles (6:53)

Friday: 10 miles with 4 miles of 30s fast/2:30 moderate. To make up for yesterday and to not be too beat up for Sunday, I was allowed to run up to 10 variations, so I decided on this workout.  Averaged 5:24 for the four miles, with a little over 4:20 pace for the fast part...felt nice and smooth; 3.7 miles (7:47)

Saturday: 10.6 miles (6:48).  Legs felt like complete crap the last couple of miles...felt like walking; 4.4 miles (7:16)

Sunday: 16.5 miles with shortened workout. The plan if I felt like a million bucks with perfect weather was to run a 25km with 5ks at 5:20 pace, 5:15, 5:10, 5:05, 5:00.  But the big goal was to get in some work and not pushing too hard.  Since it was really muggy (69 with 67 DP), I figured the conditions would slow things down about 5-7s a mile. I went through the first 5k at 5:23 pace, feeling really smooth.  My plan was to do at least 20k of progressive running and if I felt good, run two complete down-and-backs on my speedwork road, which would be about 13.1 miles and push the last 1k+ at a hard effort.

Second 5k also felt smooth at 5:20 pace, and the third was mostly ok at 5:14.  As soon as I started running the fourth one with a goal of 5:10 pace, my legs started to struggle and it got progressively worse, so I called it at just under a mile in (was at 5:07 pace) to finish 10.2 miles in 5:18 pace.

Obviously I would have liked to run further and faster but I had a huge workout last week and I don't need to put too much stress on legs.

On a bright side, my girls and boys finished first in their cross country meet today.  And props to the kid who ran so hard to get the victory in the boys race, that he threw up the last 15m.

Week Total:104.2 miles. The plan was closer to 110 with two solid workouts.  Even though it felt good at the time, I think last Sunday beat me up a good bit.  Since that went so well, I'm not too worried.  This week the volume will be around 90ish with one track workout and a little bit of MP running in a much shortened long run.

I'm really looking forward to the mileage reduction and racing everyone at Chicago in a couple of weeks even though I'm still not on the entry list for some reason.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September 14th-20th Training

Monday: 6.1 miles (7:12); 4.7 miles (8:16) at cross country and then 5.5 miles (7:14)

Tuesday: 11 miles (6:35); 6.1 miles with 6xhill blasts(7:14)

Wednesday: 12.6 miles with 4x2k 2:00 jog, 1k, 3:00 jog. The fastest I was allowed to run was 72-73 per lap on the 2ks and 70-71 on the 1ks.  I ended up running (6:00, 2:55), (6:00, 2:55), (5:59, 2:56), (5:59, 2:55). These weren't too bad at all and they all felt about the same, effort-wise.  After the first two sets, the high school cheerleaders came out for what appears to be their daily 6am two-mile time-trial while their coach walked around the track yelling at them to go faster.  I had to run in lane 2-3 sometimes, so that cost me a little bit of time.  Not a bad workout; 6.8 miles (7:22)

Thursday: 12 miles (6:34);  5 miles (7:12)

Friday: 5.4 miles (7:22); 2 miles (8:29)

Saturday: 9.8 miles (6:49); 5.2 miles with 10xstrides (7:24)

Sunday: 22.7 miles with 5x5k with 1k jog recovery.  I was nervous for this one, especially coming off about 5.5 hours of sleep.  The plan was to work from 5:10-5:05 pace on the 5ks and run 5:50-6:00 pace on the 1ks.  I ended up running: 15:58, 3:32, 15:53, 3:32, 15:51, 3:39, 15:44, 3:40, 15:42, 3:32 to average 5:12 pace for the 30k, 5:05 pace on the 5ks and 5:46 pace on the 1ks.

1st one: tried to not think about anything and just run.  Felt really smooth and didn't even feel like I needed a break (other than the fast pee break on the recovery jog).

2nd one: still easy and slowly started focusing on the pace.  Took a gel and about 8 oz. of water during the break.

3rd one: I caught myself running close to 5:05 pace a few times, so I tried to slow it down since 5x5k is a lot of running.

4th one: started to get a little bit tired and while I wanted to run 5:05ish, I didn't want to be dead for the last one.  The wind started picking up some, which resulted in my running about 10s a mile faster with the tailwind than the headwind.  Took gel #2.

5th one: started getting more tired and had to focus the last 1k to stay at a 5:05 average. I debated running the recovery jog faster since it was the end of my workout but I didn't want to be a chump and kept the normal recovery pace, even though it was still pretty tough.

Solid all around workout and it made me finally believe I have a shot at sub 2:15.  I ran slightly slower than two weeks before Houston in 2014  but it was perfect weather and I ran with Connor Kamm, opposed to being solo and 65/55 dp (which wasn't bad at all).; 5 miles (7:35)

Week Total: 119.9 miles. So close to 120 but this was a very productive week overall, with nearly 28 miles on Sunday.  I'm really looking forward to taper time and I have one more big marathon workout this weekend, which is going to be tough. September 14-20

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September 7th-13th Training

Monday: 18.5 miles with 20k in 63:27. Bad race but I'll write an extensive recap by the end of the week.  I thought I could run 5:00s the first half and then chase people down.  I ran 5:00s the first half, as planned but struggled the last 5k and never chased anyone down.  Legs had nothing and would not go.  Frustrating race since it's bad race #3 in a row.

Tuesday: 10.5 miles (7:45). Quads completely trashed.

Wednesday: 9 miles (7:37). Same as yesterday

Thursday: 10.1 miles (6:37); 6.8 miles (7:18)

Friday: 9.2 miles with 9xhill blasts (7:20); 5.9 miles (7:24)

Saturday: 23.6 miles with 21.45 miles at 5:34 average. If things went well, the plan was a mile warm-up and then a 26.2 mile progression run.  The first 20 was divided into five mile segments and dropping 5s a mile per segment, starting at 5:40-5:45.  I had Chris Duncan run with me for the first 10 and Spencer Cole for the first five.  The first ten went really smoothly.  I then met Ben Li for the next ten and took a Double-Latte Powergel, which I'm planning on using in Chicago.  After 13, I hit a really rough patch and felt really light-headed and weak, which I was hoping wasn't due to the gel.  I felt better a few miles later but we were running on the slow end.  After dropping Ben off at 20, I had up to 6.2 miles at 5:15 pace. My hamstrings were really worn out when I stopped for a gel and water and after running almost 1.5 miles at just under 5:30 pace I knew I should call it.

The weather was really good, but my hamstrings felt really heavy and I could not go.  They were beat up on the hills yesterday, so hopefully it's just lingering fatigue from the race since my legs were really jacked up earlier in the week.

Sunday: 6.8 miles (6:54); 7.2 miles (7:17). Long day but my legs felt like a million bucks. Go figure.  We also had our first elementary cross country meet and my boys scored a narrow victory over my school from last year, and my girls scored just 16 points with second place scoring 81.  Not bad for a bunch of newbies.

Week Total: 107.6 miles. Not a great week.  While I put in a hard effort, I had a rough race and then came back with a rough long run. I'm hoping it's just cumulative fatigue and I'm one good marathon workout away from being confident.  I have four weeks now and wish I had a little more time to train in the cooler weather, but I think I'll be ready.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

August 31st-September 1st Training

Monday: 6.3 miles (7:22); 4.2 miles (8:30); 6.3 miles (6:54)

Tuesday: 8 miles (6:46); 7 miles with 8xhill blasts (7:16)

Wednesday: 10.3 miles with 2x200m, 1600m, 3200m, 4x400m with 800 jog after the 1600 and 3200 and 1:00 jog after the fours. The goals were 31, 4:25-4:30, 9:50 and 67.  I ended up running 31, 32, 4:32, 9:45 and 66, 64, 64, 65.  I was a little slow on the 1600m but man, it's hard to get moving in the early morning.  First lap was a 68 and it felt like a sprint.  The 3200m was easy, as were the 400s.  5.7 miles (7:18)

Thursday: 12 miles (6:28)

Friday: 8.2 miles with 8x30s fast, 2:30 easy. Goal was to get rolling a bit while staying smooth.  Averaged 4:12 pace on the pick-ups; 2 miles (8:16); 4.2 miles (7:31)

Saturday: 7 miles (7:18)

Sunday: 7.7 miles with strides (7:20)

Week Total: 88.9 miles. Planned down week and it felt good to mentally relax a little bit and freshen up the legs.  I have some sinus issues going on so hopefully it doesn't effect me in the morning at New Haven.  The weather is looking a little hot and humid, which should be better suited towards a guy like me, opposed to the altitude guys.  So the plan is to go out patiently and move up throughout the race…sort of like the Chicago Half, except I don't drop out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

August 24th-30th Training

Monday: 5.4 miles (7:41); 3.7 miles (8:21); 5.7 miles (7:20)

Tuesday: 11 miles (6:49); 6 miles (7:39)

Wednesday: 10.4 miles (6:43); 6.7 miles with 8xhill blasts (7:21).
Finally starting to feel strong on these.

Thursday: 13.7 miles with 6x2k with 2:00 jog.  The plan was to start just under 6:15 and work down to 5:55ish.  With the temperature in the low 60s and the dew point in the 50s, I was looking forward to this.  I ended up running: 6:12, 6:06, 6:02, 6:00, 5:51, 5:49. The first one was the hardest because I have to run track work really early in the morning and it takes me a while to loosen up. After that, I felt better and better and I decided to run in the 5:50 range for the last two, which felt pretty smooth. I may have run a couple of seconds faster but theirs always football benches in lane one of each straightaway and on the last two intervals, the high school cheerleading team with their rap playing ipods were taking up lane one and two. Good workout session and finally had a chance to see my "real" fitness by running in good weather; 5.8 miles (7:41)

Friday: 10.3 miles (7:18); 1.5 miles (8:13); 4.6 miles (7:31); 126.3 miles in seven days...biggest seven day period in a long time.

Saturday: 6.1 miles (7:29); 5.7 miles with 10x100m relaxed (7:22)

Sunday: 24 mile mixed pace run. The plan called for a nine mile warm-up, 4 miles of 60s on/off at 5:15-5:20 overall average, 6 miles at 5:10, 1 mile jog, 3 miles at 5:00, 1 mile jog.  Needless to say, I was really intimidated by this one.  With the weather at 71 and a 67 dew point, I would be happy to get within five seconds of the correct pace.

I ran the first nine with Spencer at a relaxed 6:44 average.  I didn't do any strides before the fartlek and it took me almost 45s to get under 5:20 pace on the first minute interval.  But I got rolling pretty quickly after that and was around 5:10 average.  I decided to put on the brakes on the jog and keep the intensity high to get in better quality and burn through more carbs and by the end, I slowed down to a 5:17 average.

I ran my six miles on the track and since I had to run in lane two on the straights, I figured the zig-zagging would result in the four laps making up the extra 9.3 meters, so I called it a mile.  First 2-3 miles were really easy and then it felt like my legs were sinking into the track despite the slower pace, which usually only happens in those extensive marathon workouts. Anyway, averaged 5:11 on that and was dreading the three mile.  But the three mile felt better than expected and I averaged 5:03 on that part.  Great workout overall and with the humidity, this was easily one of my most impressive marathon workouts.

Week Total: 120.6 miles. Four solid weeks in a row, with this last one being my biggest and most impressive one yet.  While I felt like a zombie two weeks ago, I'm now starting to adapt to my workouts and am becoming more marathon fit.  I'm also starting to get my marathoner's mindset. While a few weeks ago, I mentally struggled with the patience and volume of the long workouts, now they are not am issue and I'm able to stay focused on each individual interval.

This next week is a down week, which is good timing because I've put in a lot of heavy work and have the New Haven 20k on Labor Day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 17-23rd Training

Monday: 5.5 miles (7:48); 2.8 miles (8:31); 6.3 miles (7:03)

Tuesday: 10.7 miles (6:37); 6.3 miles with 6xhill blasts (7:17)

Wednesday: 8.9 miles with attempted workout.  The plan called for a fartlek of 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 at 4:40-4:50 pace with equal recovery jog at a moderate pace to average 5:10-5:15.  Originally, I had a much tougher fartlek scheduled but I was glad to see the change after feeling like crap on Tuesday's run. My legs were pretty crapped out from Sunday's session and towards the end of my second fast interval, I knew it wasn't happening.  I really wanted to gut it out but my quads were on strike. I'm calling a mulligan on this one and will try tomorrow; Skipped run. I wanted to make sure I was feeling good tomorrow, it was raining and I was really tired.  Excuses won in a 3-0 shutout.

Thursday: 13.1 miles with completed workout from yesterday.  I ended up at a 5:13 overall average for the 34:00 and a "fast" average of 4:43.  I wanted to sneak just under 5:15 pace, so I made sure not to hammer too hard.  I felt really rusty the first two, loosened up a bit, took a ride on the pain train on the second, three minute surge, and then put the brakes on a bit the last two fast intervals.  Normally, I walk around for a few minutes after the workout but I felt better than expected on this one. I also had a thousand dead bugs on my stomach and chest; 5.3 miles (7:16)

Friday: 9.1 miles (7:11); 1.2 miles (8:07); 4.6 miles (7:26)

Saturday: 10.5 miles with 5k in 15:27. I wanted to cherry pick a local 5k for some daycare money and with a tough session planned for tomorrow, the goal was to win as easily as possible.  Some Kenyan I've never seen before showed up, along with a Vandy med school student named Paul, who ran for Wake Forest several years ago.  Vanderbilt's med school team would probably beat out their college cross country team. We ran mostly together the first 1/2 mile, then I slowly put on some distance to come through the first mile in a high 4:40 and I was able to back off some the second mile and even more on the third to win by about 25s or so.  Rusty effort that first mile but I loosened up; 4.5 miles (7:29)

Sunday: 21.5 miles with 16.37 miles @5:28.   The plan called for the 21.5 miles with a 30k progression of 10k@5:25-5:30, 10k@5:15-5:20, 10k@5:10-5:20.  The weather was 73 at the start with a 69 dew point and the air was insanely thick.  Maybe I'm just being a baby but it seems more humid at Shelby Bottoms because the greenway is lined with trees, bushes, etc and since it rained the night before, they held tons of water. With the conditions, my weather adjusted plans were: 5:35, 5:25, and then see what I could muster out the last 10k.

But anyway, Connor Kamm came out for this one and joined me for a little over 8.5 miles. I felt like crap from the start and had a herky-jerky first 10k at 5:34 pace. loosened up a bit the first few miles of the next 10k and averaged 5:23 pace for that one.  After 15 miles, I was still running sub 5:25s but my legs were getting a little achy and after 16, I knew I should probably call it soon since I had a tough four day stretch.  So at 16.37 miles, I ended the party.

Lots of rambling but I was pleased with this after bouncing back from yesterday and Thursday.  In ideal weather, this was definitely worth sub 5:20 and it felt easier than marathon effort.  I also tried out two Double-Latte Powergels and they seemed to work ok.  I'll try them once or twice more and may make that my marathon gel for Chicago; 5 miles (7:26)

Week Total: 115.3 miles. Third tough week in a row, and I had some decent volume with a skipped run.  The training is tough and I'm even making myself go to bed a little bit earlier so I'm not so zombie-like. And my summertime gut is also slowly going away. I have one more tough week with a killer workout next Sunday, then a well earned easy week leading into New Haven.

Hopefully I get some cool weather soon because while my "weather-adjusted" stuff isn't bad, I'd rather have the real deal.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Misery

Living in Middle Tennessee means you have great winter running weather.  It never gets too cold and in fact, earlier this year, Nashville got an inch of snow one day, which broke a four year drought.  But for some reason, we start school thirty minutes early every day to build 13 snow days into our schedule and we don't get paid if we don't use them.

This is what usually happens when there are snowflakes in the ground around here

But while winters are great (other than it being pitch black before 5:00pm, summers are absolutely miserable.  Yeah, it gets into the 80s or 90s or whatever in Colorado but with a dew points usually in the 40s, that's actually not bad weather all. So quit your whining, hippies.

Once we hit July, dew points (the real measure of humidity) rarely dip below 70, with anything over 65 meaning your feet will be waterlogged with sweat if you try anything remotely fast.  But if you are one of the foolish ones who train for an October or earlier marathon, you need to spend the summer months training hard and priming that motor for the marathon-specific work to come.

Granted, I'm just a P.E. teacher but here are my "hot" tips to somewhat suffer less in the summer. Some of my stuff comes from research articles I've read, while most of it comes from my actual, real-world experience.  And others, I could be just making up.

  • A little bit of dehydration isn't bad.  By training in a slightly dehydrated state, your body makes the necessary adaptations (increased blood plasma, more effective cooling, etc.) to tolerate the heat better.  Just like people who frequently take in calories and "fuel" on long runs hurt their body's ability to have a more efficient marathon metabolism, people who guzzle way too much water on runs hurt their body's ability to better tolerate running in hot weather.  I've frequently seen an article referenced by Alex Hutchison that goes into detail about this.  If you're less lazy than me, you can look it up.
  • If you're worried about performance, head out the door before sunrise or lace the shoes up after it's dark. I've experimented with a bunch of different times and it always feels much better when the sun isn't up (probably common sense).  So for me, that means a lot of track workouts. They are more boring, but I'd rather be bored than miserable.  Usually the temperature is higher at night than the early morning, but temperature is taken in the shade, so you can add 10-15 degrees if you're pounding away on the shadeless pavement.  And at night, you don't have the sun beating down on you, which seems to be an issue once you hit 8:00am around here.  
Sun shining bright wallpaper
  • I've seen running adjustments calculators and conversion tables and stuff but while they can be a good guide, I've learned that everyone responds differently and they don't always take all the weather factors into consideration. If you're doing hard workouts, take note of the conditions (time of day, cloud cover, temperature, dew point, etc.) Over time, you'll be able to see how different conditions affect you and then you can modify your own individual times/paces. We are all an experiment of one, anyway.
  • Make workouts more progressive in nature.  In good weather, your fatigue is very gradual in nature and if you go a little bit overboard, you can usually recover if you back off.  In the heat, once you start to die, it's all downhill.  If your goal workout is to run a four mile tempo at 6:00 in ideal conditions, and you decide to add 10s a mile because of the conditions, start at 6:15 or slower.  Once you get down to 6:10, you can either hang out there or speed it up some. Just like in the marathon, going out slower sets you up for a better performance than going out too hard and dying or having to stop.   If you try to run your marathon pace for a marathon workout in the heat, you're more likely to actually be running half-marathon effort, which is a totally different stimulus.
  • Throw in a little bit of extra rest if you're running intervals.  Recovering in hot conditions doesn't happen as quickly as recovering in more ideal ones.  So there's nothing wrong with breaking that four mile tempo run into a 4x1mile segment with 60s rest.  And if you're doing intervals, feel free to add an extra 30 seconds of rest during your recovery.  In most workouts, the goal is the intensity during the fast portion and if you're too worn out to hit that, then what's the point of the workout?

  • Get more sleep.  As already mentioned many times, running in the heat is more tiring, so you need more rest so you can recover and suffer in the outdoor steam room the next day. 

  • Toughen up.  Until it gets cooler, the heat isn't going anywhere.  If you want to accomplish your fall racing goals, you need to put in the work over the summer.  Yeah, it sucks but the heat won't go anywhere for a while.  Don't hate the player, hate the game.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

August 10th-16th Training

Monday: 7.6 miles (7:11); 6.3 miles (7:10)

Tuesday: 11.7 miles (6:22); 5.4 miles with 4xhill blasts(7:06)

Wednesday: 13.6 miles with 12x1k on the road with 90s jog. The plan called to work from half-marathon to 10k pace.  Legs felt really rusty and it took me over a 1/4 mile to get under 5:20 pace. Ended up at 5:00 pace for the first one, so I decided to keep it around there the first half of the workout and then slowly drop it down the second half.  I was feeling really good through eight but #11 got a little tough towards the end and #12 was really hard.  Ended up at 3:02 average for the 1ks. Decent workout with a 65 dew point and 70 degree temperature. The carrot that kept me going was that I knew I had three easy days in a row after this; Skipped second run.  I was a complete zombie and it took everything I had to stay awake until 7pm.

Thursday: 12.1 miles (6:20); 5.8 miles (7:20)

Friday: 5.8 miles (7:20); 6.8 miles (7:10)

Saturday: 8.9 miles (6:45); 6 miles (7:50)

Sunday: 19.9 miles with 20k of 3k at marathon pace, 1k moderate.  The paper plan was to run between 5:05-5:10 with the 1k jogs at 5:30-5:40.  It was 73+69 dp outside, so I decided to try and hang around 5:10-5:15 at 5:45.  I ended up running 9:40, 9:52, 9:56, 9:49, 9:45 with a 1k jog average of 5:49. My total 20k average was 5:24, with a "fast" average of 5:15.  My legs felt like crap on the warm-up and on the first interval, they still felt really slow and sluggish, so I decided to adjust it to 5:15.  The second was even worse, so I changed it to 5:20 and would run as quickly as I could on the recovery jogs but still be able to stay under 5:20 on the fast portion.  But to be honest, if I didn't have someone checking over my workouts and I was still self-coached, I would have stopped after the second one.  Mentally, I was almost done and knowing I had so much running left was tough.  But then I reminded myself you also have rough patches in races and you have to be able to run hard, even if you're tired and running more slowly than you'd like. The third and fourth ones weren't too bad at all and I pushed the last 1k a bit on the last one to finish up well, but was tired.  IObviously, I would have liked to hit the paces but I came into this with a lot of cumulative fatigue. Grinder of a workout for my first marathon-specific interval session; 5.1 miles (7:31)

Week Total: 115 miles. Solid but tiring week over all with the training and the first week of school.  I've had two really good weeks in a row and I'm getting in a good training groove.  There's three more weeks until New Haven, so I can get in a couple more weeks of good training and gain a little more fitness.  I also got accepted into Chicago, so it feels good to have a definite direction in my training.

Next week has a couple really tough sessions, with some added volume.  It is also a rough time of the year because looking back to my training logs, which go back to 2010, I've been sick the middle/end of August four out of the past five years.  And this past week, my son had a four day puke bug, my daughter had a high fever and sore throat and now my wife is coming down with something.  I hope I'm not next.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 3rd-9th Training

Monday: 9.5 miles (6:32); 6.3 miles (7:12)

Tuesday: 10.6 miles (6:25); 5.6 miles (7:15)

Wednesday: 14.6 miles with 4 mile road tempo, .60 mile jog, 5x3:00 gradual uphill. Another muggy morning.  Ran 20:31 for the four miles and didn't feel as smooth as I would have liked.  On the hills, the plan was to run around 10k effort and I eased into them so I wouldn't die because I suck on hills.  Covered .57-.58 on the first four and turned on the old man jets for the last one and covered .61 miles; 4.6 miles (7:24)

Thursday: 6.1 miles (7:09); 4 miles (8:20)

Friday: 7.6 miles (6:41); 4.6 miles (7:26)

Saturday: 12.4 miles with 4x2 miles with 2:00 jog. I ran this on the track and since there were benches in both straightaways and I had to run around them, I don't feel guilty calling them two miles, instead of 3200m.  The plan was to run 10:10, 10:00, 10:00 and 9:50 with my times ending up: 10:07, 9:56, 9:57, 9:48. The first three were pretty easy and I was able to recover quickly.  On the last, it was mostly smooth for the first 2k, with fatigue slowly coming in after that.  I could have done a 5th in sub 9:40, but it would have hurt.  Decent session; 7 miles (7:14)

Sunday: 22.5 miles (6:25). Really swampy out there.  I was worried about this because of yesterday's session and I was running on little sleep (10 hours total for the past two nights, courtesy of a lot of school prep and going to see the UFC in-town last night).  But since misery loves company, I ran with Craig Padgett, who moved to Nashville a few months ago.  The plan was to run at whatever pace I felt like, so I enjoyed relaxing the first few miles.  I dropped him off at 17 miles and headed out for a few more.  I was able to start running sub 6:00 pace pretty easily and I felt really smooth until about two miles to go, when it started to get a little bit tough.  But the heat was kicking in, and this was my longest run since the Country Music Marathon in April.  Great run and it was one of those days where your toes got water-logged from sweat.

Week Total: 115.4 miles. Wow, big week.  Lately, I've felt like I need more extension at half-marathon and faster pace, so this was a productive week.  Now, I haven't done "real" hill repeats in years and have never done such extensive work the day before a long run, so it doesn't look like my typical training.  But starting this past week, I've been getting some workout help and once I have everything finalized, I can officially fire myself and spend my time worrying about running my workouts, rather than planning and running them.  And with someone else checking over them, I'm much less likely to quit being a sissy in some of them.

This next weeks begins the official start of the school year.  I'm teaching at a new school this year, and while in the past, I was stuck doing my runs during lunch and in the evenings, this year, I can do my main sessions in the morning, as long as I'm done by 6:45am.  The main thing now will be making myself go to bed on time.  I actually do better during the school year because I start up my diet plan again (which should help me shed my summer pounds) and with a busier schedule, I'm much more productive.

Back at the grind for the next four weeks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

July 27th-August 2nd Training

Monday: No running. I was going to run in the morning but I had a bad migraine, so I had to scratch it.  And since I'm in South Carolina and had plans to visit some friends for lunch and dinner, I didn't get in a run.  We did see Trainwreck, which was pretty funny.  However, I think Spy is a much funnier and better movie.

Tuesday: No running...again.  A stupid thing about my migraines is that if I get one on the right side of my head, I will usually get one on the left side of my head a day or two later.  The bad thing about the left side is that it is usually much more intense, which was the case today.  And the absolute worst part was that we had to drive back to Tennessee, so Mary drove the entire way back while I was moaning in the back with the occasional cookie tossing on the side of the road.  That puppy lasted over 16 hours.

Wednesday: 5.4 miles (7:36); 9.3 miles (6:54)

Thursday: 6.3 miles (7:21); 10.6 miles (6:29)

Friday: 7.1 miles with chumped out workout. Plan was 20x1:00 on/off.  My legs had a hard time opening up and after 1.30 miles, I called it a workout; Chumped out again with just 4.2 miles. I was going to try a track workout but my quads were so achy.

Saturday: 10.1 miles (6:33); Skipped second run. Went to bed at 6pm with another stupid migraine.  I've barely had any at all the past year, but have had three bad ones in under a week.

Sunday: 20.1 miles with 12 miles moderate Finally stopped being an idiot and started at 6am.  The plan was a warm-up, with 12 miles around my just under four mile loop, working from 5:50s to upper 5:20s.  Spencer joined me in the beginning and we ran our first loop in 22:14 and then Spencer's pacing assistance was over at five miles.  Finished up the next two loops in 21:44 and 21:47 and after just over a minute push, I finished at 5:33 average.  I felt pretty weak from the get-go, probably as a result from last night.  But the effort was really smooth through the first two loops, with the last three miles getting a little bit tough.  Not too bad of a session after a crappy week.

Week Total: 72.8 miles. I'm calling this one a mulligan.  Too many headaches and too many whiny moments.

Born in the USA Four Miler

I grew up in Columbia, SC and try to go back at least once a year since my parents and sister still live there.  I haven't been there in over 2.5 years because I didn't want to take Ellis on such a long car ride (Eightish hours for a one year old wouldn't be fun). But since both my wife and I have summers off, we were due for a trip.

I decided to line up the trek with the Born in the USA race, hosted by Strictly Running.  I worked for Strictly Running during my college breaks and did my token Sunday long runs with them as well.  It was probably my favorite training group ever as they had a good group of guys ranging from solid high schoolers to Masters runners who could put a whooping on your butt.

I love the Nashville running community and there are a lot of cool races and stores, but I'm always impressed with how well and organized Strictly Running's races are.  They have timing mats and clocks at the mile markers, you have the results posted on a huge screen and everything is organized very well.  So I knew this race would be another solid event.

The course is advertised as flat and fast, which is my type of course, especially with the shorter race distance.  And even better, they had a time bonus system set up where if you won and broke 19:30, you got $500 and if you broke 19:00 and won, you got $1000 (in addition to the $100 first place prize). Since Columbia weather is even more miserable than Nashville, I thought sub 19:00 would be too tough, so my goal was to attack 19:30.  I was going to use my GPS and try and stay under 4:50 for each mile and then hammer home the last mile.

I looked up the course and it turned out to not be too flat and fast!  It was mostly the same course where I ran a 14:55 or so 5k at the Cold Winters Day 5k a few weeks before the 2013 Houston Marathon...and I was trying to haul in that race.  There are really no tough hills, you're just either going slightly up or slightly down, with the first half mile of the race being a gradual uphill...not exactly a course for rhythm runners like myself.   So sub 19:30 was going to be even tougher, but since money talks, I was going to at least try.

On race morning, it was a warm 75 degrees with a dew point right at 70.  It rained beforehand, but luckily it cleared up for the race.  On my warm-up, I saw Adam Freudenthal, who is a low 14s/29s guy from the upstate. I wasn't sure how race fit he was, but I was hoping I would have the element of surprise over him since he probably wouldn't know me.  I anticipated him leading for a while and then hoped my gas tank and old man strength would take him out in the later part of the race.  But we ended up chatting a little bit at the start and both said we were hoping for sub 19:30 and only one of us would be able to get it. So there went the element of surprise.

When the race started, we ran side-by-side and went up the half-mile hill at just under 5:00 pace. Once we turned, you had a little bit of downhill running, so I decided to push the pace and see what happened.  I instantly had a small lead, so I decided to keep on pushing in hopes to break him.

I went through the mile in the high 4:48s, which was perfect, considering it was a slowish mile.  I kept my foot on the gas and was happy to go through the two mile in 9:32.  I was pretty certain I had sub 19:30 and was tempted to go for sub 19:00.  I came back with a 4:50 and knew I had to run in the 4:30s if I wanted a much bigger bonus.  I tried to go after it but the last mile had too many short climbs, which really stole my mojo and rhythm.  I crossed the line in 19:11, which was really motivating.  I felt like I could have run sub 19:00 if I had a pack to run with, which is a good sign in the muggy weather. Not a bad place to be three months out from Chicago!