Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Last Two Weeks

Monday: 8.5 miles (8:05); 5.5 miles (7:11)

Tuesday: 8 miles (6:42) into 3.2 miles (7:56); 5.6 miles (7:11)

Wednesday: 8.4 miles(7:43); 5 miles (7:11)

Thursday: 6.8 miles (7:48); 6 miles with strides (7:17)

Friday: 7.1 miles (8:09); 4.5 miles (7:45)

Saturday: 8 miles (6:48); 3.4 miles (7:46)

Sunday: 20.1 miles (6:34).  Felt better through 15 compared to last week, but the last 2-3 miles were tough and after I was done, it was straight to the cold bathtub, while eating Freeze Pops.  I think the issue was that last week, I ran the last five miles in an area that was mostly shaded and this time, the last 5-6 miles was in the sun.

Week Total: 100.1 miles. Barely squeaked in 100 miles but I still got it in!  This week, I kept it really easy in hopes that I'd charge my batteries some.  Maybe I'll get in a little bit more next week.

Monday: 8.3 miles (7:03); 

Tuesday: 10.7 miles (6:45); 3.4 miles (7:34)

Wednesday: 10.5 miles with 8 miles at 5:57.  Did two of my 3.90 mile loops with a hard push to close out the eight miles with loop splits of 23:55 and 22:55.  I could tell that I'm super rusty and need some work but at least it's a start. By the end of the month, I hope to be able to get in three loops at sub 5:50 pace.; 7 miles (7:20)

Thursday: 9.1 miles (7:24); 5.5 miles (7:19)

Friday: 7.8 miles (7:25); 5.5 miles (7:22)

Saturday: 9.1 miles with 8x30s strides with 2:30 jog. Ran these a little bit quick but not hard workout quick.  Ran the first seven in the upper 4:20s and close out the last one at 4:09 pace.; 4.5 miles (7:20)

Sunday: 21.3 miles (6:54). Sean Brown came down to my hood and the plan was to run up to 2:40 (he runs long runs by time).  I planned a pretty rolling route and the Real Feel was already 90 at 6am.  My shoes were soaked by nine miles but we kept the pace nice and relaxed.  We ended up modifying the 24ish mile route to finish at just under 2:27 of running.  Hips and adductors got a little tired towards the end but it was an ok run and I guess my longest since April 30th.

Week Total: 102.7 miles. Not a bad week with a relaxed long run, semi-fartlek and a moderate progression.  I felt better this week, compared to last but still have some work to do.  I hope to figure out a fall/winter marathon sometime soon and am leaning towards CIM or Houston with 1-2 steady marathons thrown in for workouts..

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 18th-24th Training

Monday: 7.5 miles (7:45); 6.3 miles (6:59)

Tuesday: 9.2 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:34); 6.8 miles (7:02)

Wednesday: 9.5 miles with 2x800m with 400m jog.  Plan was 4x800m because I was pushed for time because of practice and the goal was to run faster than last time (2:23ish), with 1/2 the recovery jog.  First one was 2:24 and got a little bit tough and the second I really struggled on and ran 2:23.  I wasn't sure if I had time for four anyway and I was absolutely dead. On each of the two, I felt good for the first 300-400m before rapidly getting worn out.  Made a doctor's appointment when I got home.

Thursday: 11.2 miles (6:46); 5.4 miles (7:23)

Friday: 8 miles (7:34); 5.2 miles with strides (7:44)

Saturday: 9.5 miles with four mile race in 21:52. Plan was to just get the win and I was pacing Alex Ponce to run 5:30ish pace. I had a small lead at two miles but noticed the guys in third and fourth passed Alex.  I didn't want one of them catapult to me, so I ran a 5:09 third mile to build a 20ish second lead, followed by backing off the last mile; 5.4 miles (7:24)

Sunday: 17.6 miles (6:52). Met Sean Brown, who has the same exact marathon time as me and recently moved into town.  We ran with Hunter Hall and Alex Payne for a few miles before they branched off. I was planning on running 20 but after 14-15 miles, I was feeling like garbage and had a death march the last mile.  Easily, the most worn-out I've been after a run all year.

Week Total: 101.6 miles. Rough week because I wanted to be a few weeks into my speed work phase but I haven't done a single workout I'm happy with yet.  I ended up getting my blood tests back and my iron was fine, which surprised me.  However, my hematocrit and hemoglobin have taken a big nose dive, my RDW was the highest I've ever seen it and my MCV was the lowest I've ever seen it.  Looks like a case of anemia for me, which happened two summers ago, which was diagnosed as hemolytic anemia.  Maybe it's the same thing again but this will cramp my style for a while.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 11-17th Training

Monday: 9.2 miles (8:18); 6.3 miles (6:59)

Tuesday: 7.7 miles (7:00); 6.2 miles with strides (7:06)

Wednesday: 8.9 miles (7:50); 6.1 miles (7:08)

Thursday: 11.8 miles with bailed tempo. Got was four miles on the track, working from 5:20 to 5:10.  Went out way too hard on the first lap, so I decided to change it to 4x1 mile at 5:10-5:15 with 60s rest.  Ran 5:12 on the first one and about 3/4 of a mile through the second, my legs started shutting down and it was getting insanely hot.  Was dragging butt through cross country practice afterwards and saw the dew point was 75 after ending the tempo.; 4.5 miles (7:15)

Friday: 11.3 miles (7:30); 3.7 miles (7:13)

Saturday: 6.8 miles with 5k in 16:48. Had 2.5 hours sleep because I saw Del the Funky Homosapien last night and I almost decided to turn off my alarm clock.  Struggled through the first mile in 5:15ish with Karl Lamke and then was able to start pulling away.  Was struggling some on the last mile, so I slammed on the brakes to the 5:40s

Sunday: 20 miles (6:24). Good long run.  Was getting really balmy out there and was going to cut it to 16 until I got the genius idea to add some mileage running around in the shade.  Glad to knock out my first 20 in a while.

Week Total: 102.5 miles. Glad to surpass 100 miles again.  Didn't get in the intensity I wanted but that will eventually come.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Back from the dead...again.

Monday: 10 miles (7:45). 2.17 at practice, which slowed my pace; 6.3 miles (7:12)

Tuesday: 7.4 miles (7:35). Same as above; 8.5 miles with strides(6:55)

Wednesday: 8.3 miles (8:03). I'm tired of writing about how my pace slowed down; 7.1 miles (6:54)

Thursday: 9.8 miles (7:35); 3.1 miles (7:20)

Friday: 10.1 miles (7:31)

Saturday: No running.
Drove to Panama City Beach.

Sunday: 8 miles (6:58)

Week Total: 78.6 miles. Was hoping for 100 but the beach killed it.  I will probably just run once a day next week because you know, I'm on vacation.

Monday: 9 miles (6:16). Slight, random progression.

Tuesday: 8 miles (6:57)

Wednesday: 6.5 miles with 5k in 16:29. Ran a small, local 5k at a state park and ended up meeting a guy from Tennessee.  I was going to run in the upper 15s and opened up with a 5:05 but man, it got miserably hot, so after two miles, I didn't feel like running that pace anymore.

Thursday: No running. Nasty thunderstorm.

Friday: 6.4 miles (6:55)

Saturday-Sunday: No running. Travelling and lazy.

Week Total: 29.9 miles. Middle school mileage.

Monday: 7.8 miles (7:30); 6.8 miles (7:08)

Tuesday: 8.2 miles (7:14); 6.1 miles (6:52)

Wednesday: 7.2 miles (7:26); 6 miles with strides (7:10)

Thursday: 9.6 miles (7:05); 3.6 miles (6:57)

Friday: 9.3 miles (7:09); 6.6 miles (7:09

Saturday: 7.8 miles with 4x800m with 800m jog.
My first workout in forever and it was miserably humid.  The plan was to run my 800s at 2:25ish and I ended up running each one faster with times between 2:24.6-2:23.4. First one wasn't bad, second one felt better (accidentally took 400m jog after this one), third one was rough and the fourth was miserable.  I'm way out of shape and it felt like everything was working against each other and I was really sloppy.  That's actually a better sign than being smooth and dying because it means I have a lot of improving left to do. I can only go up from here.; 5 miles (7:16)

Sunday: 16.1 miles (6:33). First completed long run in forever.  It was a good distance because I was getting really thirsty around 14 and my legs were starting to ache after that.  I could tell that my muscles had some trouble with the volume and I have a lot of work to do.  But at least I got it done.

Week Total: 100.1 miles. FINALLY, a 100 mile week.  Granted it wasn't the prettiest thing, but it got done.  I feel like I'm finally coming around mentally, even though I'm absolutely hating the summer heat and humidity.

My plan is to now stay above 100 miles a week through most of October, unless I get sick or something.  I will also start doing some slightly structured workouts and hope to be firing pretty well by late August.

Recently, I've been the dude researching diets on the internet while finishing off his "last" box of donuts, but I feel like I'm ready to train again.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Back from the Dead

Last three weeks training

Monday: 5.8 miles with 5k in 15:27.  I was going to run the 5k but Connor Kamm came down to try and put a whooping on me before he ran off and moved to Michigan.  It was a billion degrees and I didn't want to go out like that, so I chumped out and ran the 5k.  The joke was on him.  I ran a 4:46 first mile to shake off the high schoolers and then cruised it in. Man, it was hot; 6.3 miles (7:21)

Tuesday: 8.7 miles (6:43); 5 miles (7:02)

Wednesday: 3.8 miles (7:12); 8.1 miles (6:58)

Thursday: 7.2 miles (7:12) and then 2.8 miles (7:56); 5.4 miles (7:11)

Friday: 4.1 miles (8:27); 3.1 miles (7:13)

Saturday: 14.9 miles with the Hillbilly Half-Marathon in 1:19:02.  Really humid and a hilly course.  I was going to cruise around 6:00 pace and then pick it up if I was feeling good, but I just hung around 6:00 and then slowed down the last 5k because I was tired of that stupid course. Fun race, though!

Sunday: 8 miles (7:10); 3.7 miles (7:23)

Week Total: 86.9 miles. I was surprised the 5k felt so smooth, especially the opening mile.  I need more mileage though.

Monday: 3.5 miles (7:56), 2.1 miles (8:49); 7.5 miles (7:19)

Tuesday: 5.1 miles (7:06); 8.9 miles (6:39)

Wednesday: 6 miles (7:30ish?); 9.4 miles (7:06)

Thursday: 6.3 miles (7:11); 6.8 miles (7:16)

Friday: 9.8 miles (7:58); 3.1 miles (8:33).  

Saturday: 7.6 miles (6:59); .5 miles (7:57). Sciatic nerve was absolutely wrecking me. I couldn't run a stride without having my leg buckle.

Sunday: 5.8 miles (7:09). Sciatic nerve again.

Week Total: 82.4 miles. 80s ain't enough.

Monday: 10.1 miles (7:51); 5.5 miles (7:21)

Tuesday: 6.5 miles (6:25). After a slow first mile, ran a little faster than easy and ran the last two miles at 6:00ish, which killed me in that heat.  3.9 miles (7:14); 5.4 miles (7:09)

Wednesday: 7.6 miles (7:57); 7.2 miles (6:53)

Thursday: 7.7 miles (6:42); 3.1 miles (8:52). I was completely crawling on this for some reason.

Friday: 10.7 miles (7:30ish); 4.5 miles (7:28)

Saturday: 5.4 miles (6:51); 3.9 miles with 6x pick-ups (7:01)

Sunday: 13.1 miles (6:45). Planned on doing 20 but started struggling in the heat around nine miles and knew at 10 miles, it was going to get ugly if I stuck to my route.  Crawled the last few.

Week Total: 94.6 miles. I totally would have run 100 miles this week if it weren't for yesterday.  I'm also getting in quite a bit of slower running in the mornings with Super Squad practice, so I need to counteract that with strides and light workouts.

I'm shooting for 100 miles this week but will be in Panama City Beach from Saturday, onward, so it'll be tough.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

May 9-22nd Training

Monday: 5.5 miles (no watch)

Tuesday: 8 miles (6:39); 6.8 miles (7:06)

Wednesday: 10.2 miles with 16x1:00 on/off. Since this is my first faster running since the marathon (other than that 5k I did in 16:30ish), my plan was to be patient and increase the pace after every four intervals and hitting 4:50, 4:45, 4:40, 4:35 and I ended up averaging: 4:45, 4:40, 4:37, 4:31.  With a dew point in the 60s, the air was really thick but I felt really smooth on this one.  Good session and averaged 5:46 pace for the 32:00; 6.1 miles (7:03)

Thursday: Not sure if I ran?

Friday: 8 miles (6:40); 5.4 miles (7:05)

Saturday: 6.7 miles with 5k race in 15:19.  It was actually about 15:30 something but I instinctively stopped my Garmin when I had to stop at a water table and ask which way the route turned.  They had to bust out the map for that one.  While I had to stay conscious to hang under 5:00 pace, it felt pretty smooth and relaxed; 2 miles.  Paced a third grader on my Super Squad team to a 5:59 mile and then a few minutes later, an 8th grader that I coach to a 4:53.

Sunday: Not sure if I ran? Parents were in town, so maybe I didn't. 

Week Total: ??? Lower volume but was happy with how the two workouts went.

Monday: No running. It was my daughter's fifth birthday, so I took the day off.

Tuesday: 4.2 miles (10:09). Ran with a higher schooler I help out with.

Wednesday: 5.7 miles (7:19); 7.4 miles (7:58). 

Thursday: No running. Felt like crap on my second run yesterday and had a 102 fever at night.  I started getting a nasty chest cough on Wednesday, then my throat started hurting last night.  I went to the doctor in the morning and got diagnosed with strep throat...first time in over seven years.

Friday: 3.4 miles (7:29). Felt like crap, with wobbly legs. 

Saturday: 3.1 miles. Donut mile in 8:17....much tougher than expected and finished fourth.  I'll write a recap on this later.

Sunday: 10.7 miles (6:37). Sort of long run but not really.  Legs still not feeling it.

Week Total: 34.5 miles.  Ouch, low week.  I scratched from the half in Duluth and will start a long buildup for Indy Monumental in the fall.  Oh well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Nashville Marathon

Once again, it was time for the Country Music Nashville Marathon! I don't cater my training to this race and usually don't plan to be in my peak shape until a couple months afterwards but it's one I will go to the well in, if need be.

My goal for this race was obviously to win and if I could do that, I would then try and plan my race around the time bonuses, which net a little more cash. The first time bonus is 2:26:00, the second is 2:24:00 and the third is 2:18:00.

Running 2:18:00 would be nearly impossible to run alone on a course like Nashville, in typically warm and humid weather, so my plan was to go for 2:24 if I could keep it smooth and controlled. If that wasn't an option, I would save my legs and go for 2:26.

I was really struggling with my running in January and February, started to come around pretty strongly in late March, only to be curtailed by the flu a few weeks before the race. That messed up my training for a couple of weeks because while my fever lasted five days, I was drained for the next 10 days after it left. During that two week stretch, I missed out on a couple planned marathon workouts, so I was coming into the marathon without any "real" marathon work. But I still got myself in the right mindset and was going to be patient and prepared to go out on my shield.

Going into this race, I always have a little bit of pressure because I know a lot of my friends and especially my students will be watching at home. The media does an excellent job covering the race in its entirety, so my kids enjoy seeing me try win every year. And who really wants to lose in front of their entire school? And being at a brand new school, as well as being asked by a student, if I was as fast as the female technology teacher, the pressure was on.

This year, Competitor Group let me stay in a hotel. While it helps me get a good night's sleep, away from my sometimes restless kids and also avoid traffic in the morning, it also made things easier for my wife. In the past, I'd get there about 1.5 hours before the start, so she would wander around Nashville for about four hours while I was getting ready/running.

The afternoon before the race, I went to pick-up my bib number at the expo. While picking it up, I could barely see the sheet with the names of the runners who qualified for an elite entry. I saw two names below mine, so I wanted to know who they were so I could Google the crap out of them and be a little more mentally prepared.

I asked the lady who they were and I was told some American name I didn't recognize and Brian Shelton. Brian is a buddy of mine who lives about an hour and a half down the road and is the owner of Foothills Running Company. He's a super nice guy, with two young children, like myself (I have two kids but I'm not very nice) and is still running high mileage and chasing down the clock. So, he's a guy I connect with and respect.

He started running later in life and not too long ago, ran a low 2:24 at the Twin Cities Marathon, which isn't the fastest course around. Last year, he took two stabs at 2:20 but ran into hot weather in his first attempt and warm and windy weather in his second. Regardless, I knew he was a tough runner, who would not make it easy on me, so he had my attention.

I'm a super analytical guy and like to be prepared going into a situation, so I sent him a text to get a feel for things. He must have known I was up to some tricks, especially since he's a smart and calculated guy as well. He was holding his cards to his chest but hey, we were on a collision course and were both trying to play the game that best sets us up for victory. Touche.

Since I had a little bit of a heads up, I had time to fine tune my race plans. The most conservative and safest option would be to stick with him from the gun and see if I could leave him in the last 10k of the race. Looking at the predicted weather and the layout of the course, I felt like he would probably run between 2:25-2:30 and by starting slower, I would be less likely to blow up. On the flip side, I would potentially miss out on a time bonus.

Option #2 would be to stick with my original plan of going for the 2:24 time bonus. While I haven't done any marathon workouts and was racing against a guy who peaked for this race, I felt like I could still make a run at 2:24 and not kill myself. I felt I was in similar shape as last year, when I ran 2:23 and had a good bit left in the tank. While I would be content with racing a hard half-marathon this weekend, everything is under the microscope in the marathon and things that go unnoticed in a shorter event could blow up in your face in a 26.2 mile race. So with a slightly faster pace, I would be more likely to blow up later on.

After some thought, I decided to stick with the 2:24 plan, unless he went out faster than that. After a dried out chicken philly sandwich and some fries, it was time for bed.

When I woke up, I checked the forecast and the weather was a warmish 65 degrees and the dewpoint went up to 62 degrees, instead of the forecasted mid 50s. That doesn't sound like much of a change but once you get a dew point in the 60s, running becomes much tougher as you're dealing with a lot of humidity.

I was feeling more nervous than usual and had no appetite but I was able to down a 32 oz. Gatorade, some coffee and chowed down on a Pop-Tart and Lara Bar. Normally I eat a much bigger breakfast than that on the day of a marathon, but my body wasn't feeling it.

With a little over an hour to go, I jogged a few blocks to the Honkey Tonk Central (remember, it's Nashville), where I was allowed to hang out until the start of the race. I was glad I had an indoor place to stay in because it was raining and I didn't want to stand around outside.

About 20 minutes before the start, I started making the trek over to the starting line. And man, it was a slow moving, massive herd of runners and I thought it was going to take at least 10 minutes to get there. I saw my buddy, Chris Duncan and he could tell I was in a hurry. He then tried to escort me to the start by yelling that he was bringing the defending champion to the line but I wanted nothing of that, so I stopped walking. He then used his University of Florida education to figure out a better plan and he yelled that he was the 1:30 half-marathon pacer and to follow him if you're running in that group and for the other people to scoot over. It was the perfect plan as I quickly got to the start.

Fellow Hendersonville Running Club member and the female lead cyclist, Charlene Alcorn 

However, my luck changed as the race was delayed 35 minutes because of lighting in the area and then it started raining...not the ideal way to start a marathon. But everyone else was in the same boat, so I tried to make the best of it. I lined up beside a guy that runs with a big American flag every year and starts at the very front. He told me that he started beside me the past three years and I told him that since he's my own little lucky leprechaun, I would start with him again.

I talked briefly with Brian Shelton and after a long wait, we were off. But not before some guy stole my spot beside the flag guy. I was hoping that it wasn't a bad omen!

Roosevelt Cook, last year's half-marathon winner from California, took the lead, with Wild Bill on his heels while Brian and I hung side-by-side. We were running right around 5:30 pace and ended up catching up to Wild Bill and Roosevelt and hung out behind them. Hey, they were running half of the distance, so no shame in drafting off them.

Roosevelt and I got a little bit antsy as we broke away quite a bit in the fourth mile. I was hoping that Brian just fell back and we were still hanging in the 5:20s, but nope, we dropped a 5:12. I immediately tried to relax and run a smarter pace so I wouldn't hit the wall 20 miles down the road.

Anytime we had a sharper turn, I would check out my lead over Brian and it was very slowly, but surely growing. A couple of times Roosevelt would leave me and I'd catch back up and then he left me for good at around nine miles in. Wild Bill then passed me a short time later and once the marathoners broke off, I was on my own.

The next part of the course is a gradual downhill, followed by a flat section that takes you through the half-marathon mark and then you make a turn and run up the hills you came down on. My quads were starting to feel really flat, which worried me. I relaxed even more to be cautious and after going through the halfway mark in 71:38, I decided to go for 2:26 instead of the 2:24.

One of my students made his own Lego Marathon, with me leading the charge

The uphills were a little tough and I lost some time, so I felt better about relaxing and slowing things down an extra 10 seconds a mile for the second half.

On a really random part of the course, you enter the Nashville Sounds baseball stadium and take a lap around the edges of the ball field. It was kind of cool because you saw yourself running on the jumbotron.

As soon as I entered the ball field, I checked my GPS watch and it was almost 16 miles on the nose. I figured it would take at least a quarter of a mile to run around the field and I wasn't sure how big my lead was over Brian. So if I could see when he entered the stadium I could tell how big my lead was.

After completing the loop around the field, my watch read 16.30 miles and a few seconds later, I saw Brian.enter. After some rough math, I figured I had about a two minute lead which is decent enough but if I blew up, he would be be back in the mix of things. It's funny that if you have a one minute lead at eight miles into a half-marathon over someone, you will most likely beat them. But with that doubled, you still have to be cautious.

But I figured that if I could keep the pace inside the 5:40s, I should be able to win. After leaving the stadium you head back down towards the finish line area. I assume Roosevelt won because he was still running up-and-down the area wearing the American flag. He must have had an easy win because he would have most likely been finished close to 30 minutes prior.

After running past that area, there was a quick left hand turn that I missed and then the press truck stopped and let me know I needed to turn around and run around a random side street before making a 180 degree turn. I was worried about the 30 seconds or so that I lost because that meant my lead was now around 90 seconds, which could potentially be made-up in 2-3 miles, if things became ugly.

After the missed turn debacle, it was time to run through East Nashville. The hills are tough but there is also more crowd support. It's almost a double-edged sword. The crowds make you run faster but they make you run faster up the hills! While it seemed like a good idea at the time, pushing up hills shortly before 20 miles isn't the best idea. I got a controlled boost from having people cheer for me and I mentally prepared for Shelby Bottoms, which is in my opinion, the toughest part of the course. Yeah, it's mostly flat with long straightaways, but you're coming off the tough East Nashville part. And while longer straightaways are faster, they become tough to focus on because when you're mentally and physically tired, you want some sort of turn or something to keep you awake.

However, shortly before entering the park, I saw one of my fifth grade students and her family cheering for me, which helped lift my spirits and give me some motivation shortly before the 20 mile marker. Thanks to them, I went from a 5:44 19th mile to a 5:15, 20th! Once I hit the 20th mile, I did some quick math since the press truck had the overall time displayed and I had to run under 35:00 for the final 10k to break 2:26 without cutting it too closely. That meant I had to keep my pace under 5:40, so I made a conscious effort to pay attention to my current lap pace on my Garmin. I felt pretty strong at the time, but things can quickly change after 20 miles.

Every year in Shelby Bottoms, I struggle up the hill around the pond, but this year, it wasn't bad at all. I was able to open up a little bit on the backside and while making my way to the road that led out of the park, I saw one of my kids on my Music City Super Squad team, which gave me another boost! Finally, I was on my way out of the park.

The majority of the last couple of miles is on two, long and straight roads. I was still able to hang in the 5:30s without too much trouble . That is, until the final uphill, which I struggled up. I was pretty sure I had the sub 2:26 in hand and finally made the final turn. I broke the tape in 2:25:42 and was surprised with how worn out my quads were after I crossed the finish line.

Roosevelt and I

Every time I've won the marathon, I got interviewed a few different times, which happens nearly right away. I always try to keep it a little bit lively because I hate boring interviews. I think the below video takes a couple of minutes until I cross.

Finally, after a never ending walk, I was able to change my clothes, relax and attempt to replenish some calories. My appetite is always shot after a marathon, so I did my best to down some chocolate milk and Coke. After hanging out with some friends, I made the mile long journey back to my hotel, pleased with being able to take the victory again.

Random Info
  • I was really impressed and motivated by all of the support I had on the course. There were plenty of people encouraging me and helping me through tough stretches.
  • During the marathon, I had nearly four gels. I took a Strawberry Huma Gel about twenty minutes before the start because of the delay, then took another one around five miles in. This was my second time using Huma Gel and I like the strawberry flavor because it tastes just like jelly. I also took most two Glukos gel/liquid. It comes in a packet but is very watery and I was was surprised how easy it was to consume. It'd be good in a marathon because there's quite a bit of fluid to it, however I got lemon flavor both times, which wouldn't be my first choice in a marathon. 
  • Probably had about 20 ounces of fluid during the race. I tried to drink a big gulp at most water stations, but I have trouble drinking out of cups. That sounds low, but I really don't drink that much. You should drink to thirst and I wasn't thirsty. And you also get some extra fluid from the breakdown of carbohydrates during the race. 
  • I ended up running in my Newton Distance Elites. I don't run for Newton anymore, so I'm free to run in whatever. I debated wearing an old pair of Saucony A5's which used to my marathon shoe, but I didn't want to take a chance. 
  • I averaged 5:34 pace but only had six miles slower than 5:40, one of which was the missed turn...not bad! 
  • This was my 14th marathon (5xNashville, 2xRocket City, 2xHouston, and one each of: Cowtown, Indy Monumental, Top of Utah, Chicago and Flying Monkey).

May 2nd-8th Training

I lost my GPS charger until earlier this week.  So the entire week, I was watchless.  Not only was I watchless, but I forgot what I ran each day

So, as a somewhat rough estimate, I ran around 75 miles during the week.  It was nearly all easy running except for an attempted track workout.  I planned on doing 8-12x200m with 200m jog but it felt like I was running on a sheet of ice, with my legs going every which way.  After my first 200m, I ended it and went for an easy run.

I also ran a hilly 5k in a lazy 16:20 something.

And then I closed out the week with a 15.6 mile long run, followed by a three mile run later that day.

My quads were sore through Tuesday but were flat the rest of the week. May 2-7th 

This next week, I need to be less lazy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

April 25th-May 1st Training

Monday: 6.1 miles (7:10); 7.9 miles (6:57)

Tuesday: 8.7 miles (6:42); 6 miles (6:57)

Wednesday: 9.7 miles with 8x400m with 400m jog rest.
The plan was up to 12x400m with 200m jog, but my hip flexors were feeling tired and I knew 200m jog would be too little, especially with the marathon this weekend.  I felt like crap on the first few but loosened up by the end.  I probably could have done 10-12 without an issue but I wanted to play it safe. Ended up running: 66.9, 67.8, 66.8, 66.4, 66.2, 66.4, 65.8, 65.8.; 6.1 miles (6:58)

Thursday: 6 miles (7:09); 4.6 miles (8:22)

Friday: 6.1 miles (7:05)

Saturday: 27 miles with marathon in 2:25:42. Really didn't feel smooth on this one at all.  Legs felt flat at about halfway and while I felt much better the last 10k than I did last year, it was a much rustier day overall.  Maybe I could have run 2:22 or so, flat out?  I promise I'll have a full recap by the end of the week.

Sunday: 1.7 miles. Ran a few rounds with my kids at the Kids Rock Run.  Quads were insanely tight.

Week Total: 89.9 miles. The #1 goal was to win the marathon this weekend and I'm glad I was able to do that.  In a way, it was yet another lost week, 5k training wise and I'm sure I'll have dead legs for a few days next week.  Oh well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 18th-24th Training

Monday: 5.4 miles (7:06); 7.9 miles (6:55)

Tuesday: 10.7 miles (6:58). Crashed the last couple of miles on this one.

Wednesday: 9 miles with 6400m tempo in 20:28 (5:09, 5:09, 5:06, 5:04).  Spencer alternated 800m on/400m off with me since this is right at his goal 5k pace.  Felt a little sloppy at first but loosened up throughout the workout and wasn't too tired at the end.  I debated adding in a couple of 400s, but since yesterday was bad, I called it a day.; 6.8 miles (7:06)

Thursday: 9.4 miles (6:55); 4 miles (7:36)

Friday: 8 miles (6:59); 3.8 miles with 6x200m faster strides.  A middle schooler I work with was doing some 400s, so I paced him on the first 200m of each one.

Saturday: 10 miles with Shade Tree Trot 5k in 15:09. Felt decent on this and I think I could have run in the 14:40s if I really pushed it.  I was a little bit worried about Wild Bill but he hung back, so it was just myself and Erick Kigen for the first 1km or so.  After that, I gapped Erick on a gradual hill and slowly pulled away from the field over the course of the race to win by a little over 45 seconds. Splits were: 4:54, 4:56, 4:51. The course has some little hills and quick turns, so I think it runs about 15-20s slower than a fast road course.  Anyway, a good effort for me.; 4.4 miles (7:09

Sunday: 20 miles (6:20).
I haven't gone long in three weeks, so I wanted one more long run before the marathon in six days.  While I won't gain any "real" fitness from it, I feel like I can gain a little muscle memory/neuromusclar fitness from it. Felt really smooth and tried to keep it easy since I just wanted the distance and didn't care about pace.  I naturally dropped down to lower 6s the last 5-6 miles and it felt like I was jogging.

Week Total: 99.4 miles. Almost a 100 mile week but who cares? I felt a ton better the second half of the week, so I hope I carry that into the marathon this weekend.  I'll still get a little bit of volume the first half of the week before backing off the last two days.  While I'm hoping to use the marathon as a steady long run, I need to be ready for battle, if required.  It's going to be hot and humid, so if I don't have any chumps trying to take me out, my goal will either be to run just under 2:24 or 2:26, depending on how I'm feeling.

Maybe later in the week, I'll give some hot tips (pun intended) for the Nashville Half-Marathon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 11th-17th Training

Monday: No running. Fever gone, but have no mojo.

Tuesday: No running. Rinse and repeat.

Wednesday: 4.6 miles (7:40); 4.5 miles (7:18)

Thursday: 5.4 miles (7:17); 3.6 miles (8:31).  Since I had Super Squad practice right across the street, I went by and watched the high school county meet.  The boys 1600m was a great race to watch and it was the classic gas tank vs. kicker showdown.  Gas tank had about a 10m lead after the first lap, which he kept until 300m to go. The kicker caught him down the backstretch and passed with 200m to go, with about a 5m lead at the start of the homestretch.  I thought it was game over but gas tank kicked like a man possessed and passed for the win in the final few meters to win in 4:24. Splits were something like: 65, 68, 69, 62.

I was also impressed with the girl who won the 100, 200 and 400, and who SHOULD be in the 800m, or will be in college, at least.  She squeaked out wins in the former two events but smoked everyone in the 400m to win in 60.0.  She has very little power and definitely runs like a middle distance runner.  But in high school, everyone seems to run the shortest event they are good at.

Friday: 6 miles (7:14)

Saturday: 5.9 miles with SJV Wildcat 5k in 17:47. Obviously, the goal was to win so I could get my $100 and not get beat in almost my own backyard.  I ran with the leader in the 5:50ish range and left him with about a half mile to go to win by about 10 seconds.  Felt really flat.  This could have got ugly because Tommy Kauffman (64:34 half-marathon PR) ran this race and was debating a kamikaze sneak attack on me but he just ran with a friend; 5.9 miles (8:15)

Sunday: 14 miles (6:58). The plan was a very easy 20.  Spencer and I started at the normal long run pace for the first 6 or so and then I could feel a little tiredness creeping in. Once we hit 10, I knew it was going to get ugly, so I changed the route and I called it at 14.  I hated to cramp Spencer's style because I was running well over 7:00 pace towards the end.  My legs were shot and my hip flexors went on strike.  Frustrating run.; 2.1 miles (9:16). 

Week Total: 52 miles.Garbage week.  Looking at my old logs, I've been able to recover much faster than this go around after the flu. This was week two of garbage training, which is frustrating because if I never got sick, I was going to hammer for two weeks, relax a bit this week and try to run 14:30ish in a road 5k this weekend.  There's only eight weeks until the Distance Carnival and it's going to be hard to get in sub 14 shape.  Maybe I can just go for a 14:12 PR and do a time trial this fall or something.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April 4th-10th Training

Monday: 6.1 miles (7:14); 8.2 miles (6:53)

Tuesday: 6.1 miles (7:01); 8.9 miles (7:06)

Wednesday: 9.3 miles with attempted workout. Goal was 20x60s on/off and since my legs felt shot on the warm-up, I decided to use my GPS a bit and run the first five at sub 4:45 pace and drop five seconds after each five. Was able to run the first six intervals successfully and recover well in between even though my hip flexors were completely shot. On the seventh, my legs wouldn't go and I was over 4:50 pace, so I called it a day.  I hate ending stuff so soon, especially when I've been a workout diva lately, but my legs were dead.; 4.4 miles (7:16). Legs were completely shot/crapped out. Worst run in months.

Thursday: 8 miles (7:09). Legs still hated me.  I just wanted to walk. Skipped second run. Started feeling badly in the morning and it got worse as the day went on.  Went to bed at 4:30pm and didn't get out of bed until over 12 hours later. Fever got up to 103.

Friday: No running. Fever at 102-103 all-day and spent the entire day in bed.

Saturday: No running. Fever still at 102-103.  In bed nearly all day.

Sunday: No running. Fever dropped to 100-101.  Felt good enough to get out of bed and watch a little bit of TV but still felt like crap.

Week Total: 51 miles. Never went to the doctor but being I've had it a few times in the past, this had to be the flu....Body aches, a little cough and congestion, eyes really hurt, insanely weak, tons of body chills, etc. Terrible timing and I hope it doesn't affect my marathon in three weeks and now that I think about it, I haven't had any marathon workouts.  Whoops.

Hopefully I can resume some normalcy at the end of next week.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

March 28-April 3 Training

Monday: 7.6 miles. I was going to do a 12 mile progression, but man, I was sleepy.  Normally, I'm a 6-7 hour a night guy and last night I got nine and after this run, I took a two hour nap (it's Spring Break).  I guess my body know it's "allowed" to catch up on sleep this week; 8 miles (6:58)

Tuesday: 11 miles. Plan was to do 4800m-3200m-1600m with 3:00 jog at 5:05, 4:55, 4:45 pace.  It was insanely windy (20mph+ winds).  I ran the 4800m in 15:07 and while it felt mostly smooth, but hamstrings were getting really achy and I had the same super sleepiness as yesterday.  Shortly into the 3200m, my legs were shutting down in the wind, so I called it a workout.  That's three days in a row that I axed my harder run.  I need to cowboy up; 6.5 miles with 8x30s fast/2:30 moderate. After taking a nap, I was planning on easy run with hard strides but after a mile warm-up, I decided to run the workout I posted.  The plan was just to run hard on the fast portion and keep it on the 5:50s on the jog.  I ended up running 5:30 average for the 24 minutes with an "on" average of 4:10. I felt smooth on the fast portion and was able to recover pretty quickly in between.  In February, I ran 8x30s on/2:30 slow jog and only averaged 4:23 pace on the fast portion (with a granny jog), so my speed is coming around.

Wednesday: 5.4 miles (7:03); 11.2 miles (7:03)

Thursday: 10 miles (6:58); 5.7 miles (7:22)

Friday: 5.4 miles (7:14); 10.5 miles with 5000m in 14:57. I was supposed to pace two miles of the open 5k at 16:00 pace and 45 minutes later, pace 3k of the high school 3200m at 9:20 pace.  After an hour drive and 45 minutes before the 5k, I found out that they weren't allowing pacers and they forgot to notify me.  I was pretty annoyed since my plan was out the window, so I jogged around for a while and if I had at least 10 minutes before the race, I'd run just under 15 minutes.  If I had less than that, I'd run a few more miles and try a workout in the morning.  I had about 10-15 minutes, so I went forward with my plan. I ran the first lap pretty lazily in 75-76, then ran nearly straight 71s until the last lap, where I put on the brakes a good bit the last 200m.

The effort was really smooth and the fact that I was clicking off 71s without paying attention to my splits shows that it was a controlled effort. I feel like I could have run about 14:30 if I raced it all out, which isn't bad during a heavy mileage week and in a solo effort.  Hopefully I can chase 14:00 this season.

Saturday: 8.6 miles (8:28). Ran a little over five miles before practice and then a few miles at 10+ average; 5.4 miles (7:09)

Sunday: 21.2 miles (6:24). I ran two loops of the Boomer Route, with the Country Hills extension on both laps, which is about 4,000 feet of elevation change. Spencer ran the first lap with me and we took over a ten minute break after the first loop since I was locked out of my house.  I rung the doorbell a million times and threw rocks at the bathroom window for a while but my wife was in the shower and my kids didn't come to the door because they thought a monster was trying to get into the house, so they were hiding.

I was hoping to open up on the hills the second half, especially towards the end, but my legs weren't really having much of it.  It's been a tough week.

Week Total: 116.5 miles. Biggest week in a long time and I believe it's my third 100+ mile week in a row, after not doing any weeks that high for over five months.  My fitness is still continuing to climb and I want to get in at least two more solid weeks of training.  I'm happy with where my fitness is right now, because I was struggling a little over a month ago and my training has been random without much specificity.  If I can buckle down in May, I think I'll race well in June.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 21st-27th Training

Monday: 6.3 miles with 4xhill blasts (7:22); 8 miles (7:01)

Tuesday: 12 miles with 8x1k with 400m jog at 2:59 average.  
Started in the lower 3:00s and broke it on my fourth.  I was feeling smooth and debated dropping it down to 2:55s for the last three intervals but my legs were getting a little worn out.  Aerobically, it was fine but my legs/muscular system are still getting used to more extensive faster running.  Spencer tagged along for the first 500m of every interval, which helped out a lot; 5.4 miles (7:25)

Wednesday: 5.4 miles (7:21); 1
0.3 miles (6:57)

Thursday: 8 miles (7:00); 7 miles (8:04)

Friday: 10.1 miles with 2xbaby uphills and downhills. Since the plan was a long moderate run on Sunday, I decided to get a little turnover work with the hills.  I was hurting on the first one but was surprised to open with a 1:23.  I ran slightly faster on the second one and on the downs, I ran right at/just under 1:15.  I ended up averaging nine seconds faster per hill than six weeks ago, which is right at thirty seconds a mile faster.  Glad my speed is coming around; 4.3 miles (7:35). Warm-up and cool-down at Spencer's 5000m.

Saturday: 9.5 miles (6:57); 3.4 miles (7:23)

Sunday: 3.8 miles (7:06). The plan was 20 with 16 working from 5:50 to 5:30 pace.  The weather was perfect but after my warm-up, I felt guilty that it was Easter and my kids were about to wake-up and I'd miss out for two hours.  So I turned around and will try something tomorrow; 10 miles (6:48)

Week Total: 103.5 miles. I was on pace to hit right at 110 before I shortened Sunday.  Next week, I'll make-up for it and run 115ish.  Next week, I need to get in a solid workout, a good long run and I'm also pacing the 3200m at a high school track meet on Friday.  I'm supposed to run 70-71 per lap, so I think I'll be able to run that pretty smoothly and will run somewhere around 3km, before dropping out so the youngans can duke it out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 14th-20th Training

Monday: 6.1 miles (7:10); 8 miles (657)

Tuesday: 8.7 miles (6:53); 5.4 miles with 3xhill blasts (7:09). First time doing those since before Chicago.  Last time I ran these, I would run by a few empty lots on the hills and now, there are houses with people living in them.

Wednesday: 8.5 miles with 12x400m. The plan was to run up to 16, broken into sets of four.  The first three would be 70-72, with 1:00 jog, with the last one sub 68 with 3:00 jog.  I ended up running: (68.8, 68.2, 68.4, 63.9); (67.5, 67.3, 66.7, 62.6); (67.0, 65.8, 66.3, 62.8).  I would have run another set but I ran out of time. Solid workout and my first good one since before Chicago.  Just two weeks ago, I only ran 4x800m with 800m jog in 2:26.  I feel like I'm getting all my super powers back.  I was feeling really smooth on the first three of each set and each set didn't feel any worse than the prior one.  Spencer was running some repeat 800s, and as fate would have it, we were both on our last interval at the same time.  I wanted to beat him but my quads started getting a little shaky and I didn't want to bust my face.  He ended up finishing about a second before me (albeit 100m ahead since we started from different places); 2.1 miles (7:31). Ran at my K-2 running club since they've gotten lazy on me, recently; .1 miles (7:52). Ran about an hour after finishing running club.  My knee was killing me and my groin was screaming me at all.  I think both tightened up on me after taking a bit of a break in between the two runs.

Thursday: 10.6 miles (6:45); 2.3 miles (7:08) and then 3.9 miles (8:58) at Super Squad practice

Friday: 8 miles (7:10); 4.5 miles (7:10)

Saturday: 15.7 miles with 15k progression run in 48:30. Jumped into the Special Kids 15k and my plan was to run three miles at 16:30 (5:30), 16:00 (5:20), 15:30 (5:10).  I thought it would be pretty tough since I averaged 5:20 for a half-marathon two weeks prior but I was going to at least attempt it. I ended up running: 16:20 (5:29, 5:26, 5:25), 15:41 (5:05, 5:18, 5:18), and 14:56 (4:59, 4:55, 5:02). First section=super relaxed with some decent headwind.  Second section= Picked it up about ten seconds, effort wise on the first mile but I ended up running with a tailwind, before slamming on the brakes the last two. 3rd section= Sub five pace came very easily.  I was going to still run 5:10s but I felt it wouldn't have been what I wanted, effort wise.  I would probably run 4:55ish on the last mile but the 5k started twenty minutes later and right before eight miles, I ran into a TON of 5k runners.

The lead car couldn't go through and it was literally shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the road.  I ended up running on the side of the road, which was grass with bad footing.  After a little over half a mile, I was able to run on the far side of the road.  For some reason, I showed up in the 5k results before getting it fixed.  More often than not, those A Matter of Timing guys butcher results; 4.5 miles (7:13)

Sunday: 7.7 miles (6:49); 4.5 miles (7:18)

Week Total: 100.6 miles. Finally a solid post-Chicago Marathon week!  I feel like I've become much more fit over the last two weeks and in another month, I feel like I'll be a new man.  I just have to stay on top of this injury stuff.  I've started scrapping my knee every night, which seems like it's now helping but I'm pretty sure I have a sports hernia that I need to get looked at.  It's really achy for a mile or so and then it loosens up.  But any time I sneeze, it feels like the Hulk is trying to yank my leg off.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tom King Half-Marathon

The Tom King Half-Marathon is usually the most important half-marathon to me each year.  I may run bigger or more competitive half-marathon races, but since most of the Nashville area runners come out for this one, and you see nearly all of them on an out-and-back section, I always feel pressured to win.

I've won the half the last three years they've had it along with the 5k last year (the half was cancelled due to snow) and I didn't want that to change!  You never know who is going to show up but I knew I was going to have a showdown with local runners Joey Elsakr and "Wild" Bill Martin.

While I do well at time-trial type races, I perform the best in one-on-one showdowns.  I love the pressure, the mind games/strategy and the chance to snag the win.  But if it was going to be a three-way race between us, it would become a little more tricky as Joey is a pure gas tank guy (has never broken 60 seconds in a 400m) and Wild Bill is a speedster (sub 4:05 mile speed in college).

I know that they've been training together for their faster runs over the last couple of months so I tried to sneak some info from Joey over a text the night before.  But the guy claimed he wasn't sure if Bill was in shape!  I had to give it to him though because he is a loyal training partner.

So with those two guys combined, I didn't know what to do.  But to be honest, it's impossible to have a real strategy when you're battling for the win because anything can happen.  You have to be prepared for every situation.

Going into the race, I wasn't sure about my fitness.  I felt like I could potentially run 68:00 but I only had one short tempo run under my belt, along with a couple moderate efforts (and the trail race).  Joey thought he was in around 67:30-68:00 shape and since he wouldn't give up Wild Bill, I wasn't sure on him.

But what I expected to happen would be for Joey and Wild Bill to stick together from the gun.  They are training partners, so it's what they know and are used to.  I figured they'd open up in the 5:00ish range and I'd hang back 5-10 seconds or so. Eventually, one of them would crack, and I would try to chase down the "victim" and hopefully use him to catapult myself to the whomever was leading.

But I did not want it to come down to the last mile.  Even though my 400m PR is quite a bit faster than his, I still didn't want to get in a kick with Joey.  And Bill would definitely whoop me in a sprint. I really haven't done anything intense and would be scared my legs would fall apart if I hammered after nearly 13 miles of running.  So my ideal plan would be to take over the lead around 10-11 miles in and have a long drive for home.  A lot of speculation there.

After the race started, a pack of five quickly formed with myself, Joey, Wild Bill, some out of town guy I didn't know and David Mokone, who has a 1:47 800m PR and is like twenty five feet tall.  I knew I didn't want to get in a kick with that guy.

Wild Bill, Joey and myself in the lead

In races, I will usually put my GPS on "lap time" and then manually split it every mile.  I don't really watch the pace, I just focus on each individual mile.  But for this race, I decided to start it but then just race without manually splitting anything.  I had to be really patient in this one and not let myself get into the racing mindset too early.

I hung in the back of the pack at first and the pace felt smooth and controlled and we were running in the low 5:20s.

A little after the mile, the out of town guy fell back and Mokone seemed like he was going to stick behind us as long as he could.  The pace stayed relatively smooth with Joey throwing in a very short spurt every now and then.

After a couple of miles, you hit a greenway for the next fourish miles, before turning around. Once or twice, we  would briefly drop Mokone before he rallied back.  I told Bill that Mokone was on the "last kicks of a dying horse" phase and would drop soon and then he was gone.

We were still running in the low 5:20s and around five miles in, Wild Bill surprisingly fell back. I mentioned to Joey that if we kept up the pace, we would break Bill in a couple of miles. I was also happy he fell back for obviously selfish reasons and was pleased that it would now be a one-on-one race.  I would then use the next few miles to get a feel for where Joey was and would move when I felt like it would be best to.

After the turnaround, Bill proved me wrong and was still hanging in tightly.  At this point, you start to pass people on their way out, which is a good and bad thing.  It's good because you can see how the other runners are doing, cheer on your friends and get support in return.  It's bad because it takes you out of the racing mindset and is a bit of a distraction.  But since I knew I wasn't race sharp, distractions were occasionally good.

While I race my bigger races out of state, I stay pretty involved in the local running community and as a result, have gotten to know a ton of runners in the area.  In the Team Techa vs. Team Joey competition, I was winning in the cheer department by about 50 million to one, so I let Joey know that if he took me out, the people would riot.  He then said that it'd be worth it and I told him it'd be well earned.  I was even planning on giving him my bib with a message on it since I don't have much of a scalp to give him.

I was still feeling mostly smooth and it sounded like Joey was starting to breathe pretty hard.  Every once in a while, I'd do a slight surge to see how Joey would respond. At first, he'd hang right there but eventually, I'd get a second or so on those before he came right back up to me.  I felt like that meant his body was breaking down some but would realize it and mentally force it.  I kept up this little cat-and-mouse game until I developed about a 3-4 second lead,, which was about nine miles into the race.  Once you get a lead like that, you need to push whether you're tired or not. In a way, it's a glorified game of chicken, where the other guy mostly thinks you have the upper hand.

Within a couple of miles, I built my lead up to around a hundred meters and was hoping he thought I had more left than I did.  My hip flexors were getting pretty tired, which felt more like a tiredness from not having my muscles run that kind of pace for that length of time, rather than the flat out tiredness you get in a race where you're race fit and can destroy your body.

I made it to 12 miles and while I thought I had the win, I was still getting pretty tired. The cool thing about this race is that you traditionally finish on the Tennessee Titans football field.  But since there was a soccer game going on that afternoon or something, we had to be rerouted around the parking lot for a while.

I finished just under 70 minutes to run 69:50, with Joey finishing second in 70:24 and Wild Bill hanging on to third in 70:44.  Out of town guy (Brett Pierce) was 7th in 73:24 and David Mokone was 8th in 74:13.

I was pretty tired at the end and i thought that I'd be able to run that time at an easier effort.  But supposedly after the last minute course change, the course was a little bit long, which made me feel better.

I still have work to do but was happy to come away with the win!

Bill Rodgers in the house!

Strava mile splits: 5:21, 5:20, 5:22, 5:19, 5:16, 5:15, 5:16, 5:20, 5:11, 5:11, 5:13, 5:17, 5:22.

Dry Creek Half-Marathon

So I decided to try my second ever trail race last month, the Dry Creek Half-Marathon.  My first one was rough but I decided to give the trails another shot. After running this one, someone asked me if I was switching to the trails now.  My response was that the trails are like the Olympics to me, in that I only like to do them once every four years.

Pretty snazzy logo

Trail racing, especially on technical trails, has a big x-factor to them.  While you can predict how someone could potentially run on the roads, there's too many intangibles to figure out how someone can perform on the trails.  Personally, I know I struggle greatly on them and would fail miserably at having a trail racing career.  However, the Dry Creek Half-Marathon was somewhat of a more sissy trail race, which is great for both trail running veterans and trail newbies.  About half of it is on gravel jeep roads, with the other half being mostly on single track trails.

My initial goal was to use it as a progression run and find my rhythm over the first 10 miles and then close up the last 5k pretty quickly, if I was feeling up to the task. BUT, I noticed that Josh Helton was entered into the field.  Josh ran for Belmont University a few years ago, moved to California, where he and his dog set a world record in the road mile, before moving back to Nashville.  He's been training hard and since I knew that I am a terrible trail runner, I was a little bit worried. My new goal was to start off a little faster than expected in hopes that I developed a big enough cushion where he wouldn't go after me, especially because he was going to run at a more progressive effort.

Originally, I was going to run in my Newton Distance shoes.  Connor Kamm ran in road shoes last year and said he was fine.  But since there was rain in the forecast and rain in the days leading up to the race, I decided to bust out my "real" trail shoes and run in my Boco Sol's.

After warming up for a couple of miles, I was ready to race.  After the start, I broke away about a half mile in and was pulling away from the competition.  The first thousand meters or so was down a gradually downhill jeep road before jumping onto the trails.

I ran the first GPS mile in 5:28 and come back a little faster in the second mile with a 5:27 (had a decent downhill).  I was feeling pretty smooth and backed off some so I wouldn't get over my head too quickly.  It was a smart decision because the fourth mile dropped over 300 feet.  That may sound like I should have run fast but most of the drop was a result of a single insanely steep downhill, with bad footing and it ended at a creek, which even made my feet get wet!

I spent my time "running" down the hill at an insanely slow pace while wondering how the heck trail runners fly down those things.  I was lucky not to bust my face but I did bust up my quads because I had both feet slammed on the brakes the entire time.

After running through the creek, it was time to run up an insanely steep uphill.  I immediately hated life and thought the entire field would pass me as I was going over 9:00 pace, according to my watch. After about a half mile and 300 feet gained later, I was done with that crap and back on mostly flattish trails.

I ran that hilly fifth mile in 7:20 and briefly debated opting for the 10k as I was pretty worn out.  And I was even bleeding from a renegade thorny shrub!

Road runners run AROUND puddles

I passed the 10k finish line, which was a little bit over seven miles (it was advertised as longer than a 10k), so I was hoping that this half-marathon wasn't going to be over 15 miles.  After a brief detour on the wrong route, I turned around and was back on on track for what would be three miles of rolling gravel jeep roads, before making a 180 degree turn and coming back to the finish.

Every so often, I would check over my shoulder in case Josh was sneakingly reeling me in.  I would usually be able to see about a tenth of a mile or so behind me and the coast was always clear, so I kept a moderate effort and tried to relax some while clicking off 6:00ish miles.

Jeep roads
Just after nine miles, I took another glance and sure enough, Josh wasn't too far behind!  I had a mini panic attack because I knew he had to be running me down quickly and I wasn't exactly feeling fresh. I instantly picked up the pace down to the 5:30 range and at the turnaround, I ran for about .05 miles before passing him, which meant that I had about a 30-35s lead.

I pushed hard for a mile to run a 5:26 and it seemed like I didn't lose much ground. But I was getting tired and knew that if I had a slower mile, he could instantly make up most of the gap and as he reeled me in, would become more confident. And the dude is a miler, so I wanted no part of getting in a kick with him!

I tried to push the 12th mile but only mustered a 5:36.  I still had a comfortable lead and backed off a hair in case I needed to throw together a massive push at the end.  Luckily, I took the win by a little over 20 seconds and finished in 1:18:01, which broke Connor's course record by over two minutes.

Now, the official results say I only won by 12 seconds and ran a 1:15 and change, but I had a bigger win that that!

After the race, I was trashed and laid on the ground for a while and was too worn out to do anything.

The race had a potluck afterwards and even had some guy dressed up as a hipster making kind of race!

All in all, it was a good change of scenery, even though it was at a much harder effort than I wanted. But it was also a reality check and let me know that I really need to get into gear!

Here's mine and Josh's mile-per-mile breakdown, according to Strava.  The dude was reeling me in and he ran each of the last nine miles faster than me (we both had 13.1 miles and it was 1:18:01 vs. 1:18:24)!

5:28 - 6:14
5:27 - 6:03
5:43 - 6:08
6:22 - 6:33
7:20 - 7:18
6:13 - 6:06
6:23 - 6:16
6:01 - 5:31
6:04 - 5:35
5:34 - 5:27
5:27 - 5:25
5:37 - 5:33
5:44 - 5:32

We ran the last .1 miles at 6:02 and 4:42 pace, so he made up eight seconds in that last tenth!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 7th-13th

Monday: 5.4 miles (6:43); Skipped second run. Felt like crap the second half of the day and had a fever in the afternoon.

Tuesday: No running. Fever is gone, but felt trashed.

Wednesday: 5.4 miles (7:30); Skipped second run. Still drained.

Thursday: 10.1 miles (6:53)

Friday: 10.6 miles (6:37); 3.7 miles (8:06)

Saturday: 8 miles (6:42). I was going to run 20 with a five mile fast finish with Joey.  My legs felt like crap from the start and Joey had a bum achilles, so he was only able to do about four miles or so. We ran into Kevin Barrett right before he was going to start his fast finish at 6;35ish, so I paced him through that and called it a day.

Sunday: 20 miles with four miles fast finish (6:16). Goal was a five mile fast finish at sub 5:25. Felt good through 14 and was in the mid 6:20s for my average.  I ran the first three miles in 5:24, 5:23 and 5:18 and then my legs started having trouble turning over about halfway through the fourth mile.  I called it a day at four miles and closed that one in 5:21, and was pretty worn out at the end.

Week Total: 63.2 miles. My original plan was to run 100 miles this week, with the fast finish and some 400s but the sickness put an end to that.  I only had a fever for less than 12 hours but I was completely worn out for a couple of days afterward.  I guess I put a whooping on my immune system after the half-marathon.  Thanks a lot, Joey.

I have to start training hard and forcing through things, even if I don't feel like it.  When you're a little bit out of shape, it's best to ease into things and let your fitness develop naturally, before you start to really get into specific type workouts.  I'm over five months removed from consistent structure, so I don't have time to tip-toe into workouts anymore.

So for the next 4-5 weeks, I need 100+ miles and some longer workouts, along with some sprinkling of speed.  And I also promise that I'll finish my last two race recaps this week.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

February 29th-March 6th Training

Monday: 5.4 miles (7:25); 8 miles (7:15)

Tuesday: 5.4 miles (7:47)

Wednesday: 8.9 miles with 4x800m with 800m jog. My plan was to do six, starting at 2:22-2:24 and working down.  I ended up running 2:24, 2:26, 2:23, 2:26. My legs just would not go.  I'll blame it on the wind and last night's deep massage; 6.9 miles (7:10)

Thursday: 8.7 miles (6:57); 3.6 miles (9:06) Running club practice

Friday: 5.4 miles (7:19); 4.1 miles with a mile of in/outs (7:10)

Saturday: 17.6 miles with half marathon in 69:50. Ran negative splits on this one and I need to do a longer recap this week (along with the trail half, 2.5 weeks ago).  Ran in the low 5:20s for a while, broke away with Joey Elsakr around five miles in and then pulled away from Joey shortly before nine miles.  Pretty tired at the end.

Sunday: 5.5 miles (7:06)

Week Total: 79.4 miles. Not a bad week, with planned lower volume.  I'm a little more out of shape than I thought but I think I'll be feeling much betterin 4-6 weeks.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February 22nd-28th Training

Monday: 6.1 miles (7:16); 6.9 miles (7:07)

Tuesday: 9.4 miles (6:48)

Wednesday: 8.3 miles (7:14); 6.5 miles (7:16)

Thursday: 6.2 miles (7:39); 7.6 miles with 6400m tempo progression in 20:47.  I wanted to start at 5:20 and work down, depending on how I felt.  Spencer ran the first 1k of each mile with me and I ended up running: 5:16, 5:14, 5:11 and 5:06.  I was really rusty at first but the effort felt the same throughout, even though I sped up each mile. I'm definitely way out of shape, but I feel like I'm making gains every week.

Friday: 9.8 miles (6:51); 5.4 miles (7:09)

Saturday: 9.2 miles (6:46); 5.4 miles with a mile of in/outs (7:09)

Sunday: 20 miles (6:24). First real long run in a long time.  Felt a little worn out on the first loop, most likely because of the increased mileage. The second loop felt good and while it was a beautiful day for running, I was getting a little dehydrated by the end and felt pretty tired when I stopped.

Week Total: 100.1 miles. First 100 mile week since September.  That's a long time.  I have a showdown with Joseph Elsakr this weekend, which will be a showdown.  If Wild Bill is added to the mix, things could get crazy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 15th-21st Training

Monday: 6 miles (7:17); 8.4 miles (7:06)

Tuesday: 10.6 miles (6:44); Skipped second run. It was parent-conference night and I didn't get home until 7:30pm.  I had intentions to run but it was a long day, with an early next morning and I had two kids who wanted to play as soon as I got home.

Wednesday: 8.8 miles (7:34).  Was going to run a workout but my legs were feeling really flat;  6.1 miles (7:18)

Thursday: 7.8 miles with 2xbaby ups and downs.
Ran much faster than two weeks ago with ups of 1:30 and 1:28 and downs of 1:18 and 1:19.  I was hoping for six, but time was short.  My motor is still bad but getting better each week.  The last downhill really hurt.; 6.3 miles (7:37). Legs were absolutely shot. Probably one of the top 5 worst runs, ever.

Friday: 8 miles (7:02); 6 miles (7:20)

Saturday: 8.3 miles (7:14); 3.6 miles with 8x100mish strides on the road with jogback recovery (7:14)

Sunday: 15 miles with Dry Creek Half-Marathon in 1:18:01. Absolutely beat the crap out of me.  The course was about half jeep roads and half trails.  I'll need to write a more extensive recap but I had a 1:59 lead at four miles and only won by a little over 20 seconds.  I was trashed the rest of the day.

Week Total: 94.9 miles. Was shooting for around 100 miles but I was getting worn out by the end of the week.  I planned a cooldown after the trail race and a short evening run but my legs were shot and wanted no part of it.  Why do it today when you can next week?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Random Thoughts on the Olympic Trials

  • Galen Rupp killed it.  I felt he was pretty safe around 20 miles but in reality, that's also where the race normally starts in the marathon.  He ran very patient and looked really smooth through 24 miles. He is a definite medal threat in Rio and I can see him making a run at 2:05 in a few years.

  • Tyler Pennel made the race.  In the first half of the marathon, especially in those conditions, there are no risks made early on, just bad decisions.  That's why the pack was so bunched up, with 30ish guys going through the first half together.  Tyler's big move was what really separated everyone but unfortunately, it didn't work out for him in the end.  This time, at least.

  • Jared Ward knows how to race.  It was obvious his goal was to make the team, and that's what he did.  He ran almost dead-on even pace and was pretty spent at the end.  If he would have went with Pennel and Co., it very well may have been Luke Puskedra in Rio, instead of him.

  • Amy Cragg had a heck of a race.  I don't know if I even had her in my pre-race top five, but she was far and away the best runner on that day.  She looked very smooth and controlled and the entire time, I was waiting for her to fall back, with Flanagan taking over.  Obviously, the opposite happened.
  • While I was impressed with the crod support out there, having the race after 10:00am in Southern California wasn't the brightest idea.  Forty percent of the field didn't finish, which is way too high.  It was also ridicuoous that there were no generic water stations for the athletes. the only fluids available were the ones you checked in. 

February 7th-13th Training

Monday: 10.4 miles with 9 mile moderate progression. Goal was to run three miles each at 19:00, 17:45 and 16:30.  I ended up at : 18:38 (6:15, 6:13, 6:10), 17:30 (5:50, 5:51, 5:49) and 17:20 (5:30, 5:33, 5:17).  Finally a workout where I hit my times, but I slowed them down quite a bit from last time to give a better time goal, based on my real fitness.  Was rusty for a while, but loosened up on the second portion.  The third got tough but I pushed the last half mile some to close out pretty well; 6.3 miles (7:08)

Tuesday: 8 miles (6:52); 4.5 miles (7:17)

Wednesday: 9.7 miles with 8x.15 on/.35 off. Averaged 4:21 on the fast portion, which is a couple ticks a mile faster than a month ago.  But that time, I averaged about seven seconds a mile faster, overall.  5.4 miles (7:25)

Thursday: 8 miles (7:15); 3.4 miles (7:30)

Friday: 9.1 miles (6:56)

Saturday: 12.6 miles with 9.5 miles at 5:35 pace. Ran the Hot Chocolate 15k, which was a long course.  My plan was to run by feel and I ended up running an effort a little harder than moderate.  It was really cold, with a seven degree wind chill and there were some rollers. I ran with Alex Moore for a little under a mile and then ran the rest of the way solo.  Felt sloppy and out of shape.  A 14 year old, Diego Zuazua ended up catching Alex and getting second.  Diego ran 1:15 for the half-marathon last week on a couple that runs at least two minutes slow, which was a world record for his age group.  That kid is going to be very good.

Sunday: 15 miles (6:44). Hunter Hall finally came to Hendersonville to run but we didn't get to hit up Jumbo.  Good, comfortable run where we reminisced about the college glory days doping in the sport and marketing.

Week Total: 92.4 miles. Good, solid week overall, albeit I'm still very, very rusty.  I have a few weeks until my first real race, so I hope to gain a little more fitness each week (or a lot).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

US Olympic Marathon Trials Predictions

It's once again time for the USA Olympic Trials!  While four years ago, you had the three big favorites in Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezghi and Dathan Ritzenhein, this year, it's nearly anyone's game.  I feel that there are at least 7-8 guys who could make the team and literally a ton of runners who could make the top five (they'd equal a ton if you weighed them all together).

In my opinion, the following are the 12 11 favorites who could snag a top five spot this weekend, I put them in random order and if you're too bored to read all of the crap I wrote, you can scroll down to the end to see my final three picks.

Galen Rupp

I'm excited that Rupp is running.  Not only did I make a beer bet with 4:1 odds with Connor Kamm that Rupp would start but his appearance is going to greatly affect the style of the race. Beforehand, I expected a relaxed, tactical race for at least 10-15 miles before little moves are made, followed by a big push. Having Rupp in the field is going to have people more on edge and they'll think a little bit less of themselves and their own race and worry a little more about him.

Most people think he should be the overwhelming favorite, while others are expecting much less.  I don't know how I feel on the issue. Mo  Farah struggled in his 2:09 marathon debut a while back in London and he normally beats Rupp.  But I never expected Farah to run any faster than 2:07-2:08 because he was coming off a 3:28 1500m a year prior.  Maybe he could be a sub 2:05 guy down the road but he wasn't recently removed from having his huge turbo engine.

I think Rupp will be better suited to the marathon, compared to Farah, as he seems more patient and relaxed without that insane speed.  But then you have to remember that while Salazar has had a ton of success coaching middle distance runners, he has shown to have a lot of trouble with the marathon distance.  People forget that the original goal of the Oregon Project was to develop world class marathoners, and other than Dan Browne setting a marathon PR six weeks after joining the program, everyone else ran slower, completely bombed or retired from the sport.

This is too much writing, so I'm going to sum this up.


  • Fastest middle distance runner in the field.  Like totally on another level.
  • Even if they run 4:55 pace from the gun, that's going to feel very easy on his legs for 20 miles.
  • Has shown to be very tough over the half-marathon distance, running a recent sub 62 marathon, in what appeared to be a Sunday stroll.
  • Marathon rookie.  With that comes way too many unknowns.  How does he handle drinking and fueling?  Can he handle the slow, patent marathon burn? 
  • His coach has struggled with coaching the marathon distance
  • A race course with a ton of turns in warm weather is definitely not Rupp-Certified

Meb Keflezghi

Olympic medalist, Boston Marathon Champ and the list goes on.  He's nearly 41 years old but runs very well on tactical courses, which the Trials is.  He puked a bunch in Boston last year and still ran 2:12 in very breezy weather conditions. His name precedes him, so I don't need to waste a bunch of time typing stuff out.  

Jared Ward

If I had to put all of my money on one person making the team, I'd pick Jared Ward.  He's very consistent and has impressive range for a guy with such a large gas tank.  I also like the approach he has taken over the last couple of years.  After his professional marathon debut, which resulted in a 2nd place finish at the 2014 US Marathon Championships, behind Tyler Pennel, he went on to win the 2015 US Marathon Championships.  He then spent the spring racing a bunch of shorter races and honing his battle skills.  After that, he won the US 20k Championships over a killer field, but then struggled a bit in the 10 mile and 12k championships.

Before Rupp entered the field, I expected the last 10k to be a flat-out dogfight, which would be beneficial to Ward as he did a lot of that last spring.  Even if the pace gets rolling earlier than expected, I feel he won't have any problems. He really seems to have all his bases covered.

His marathon PR is "just" a few seconds under 2:13, but he ran that in hot conditions and ran a very patient race, breaking away from the other US guys in the second half and beating them by several minutes.  I believe that day, he was a potential sub 2:10 guy, in disguise.

Diego Estrada

A lot of people think he is almost a definite for the team, but I'm in the small camp that feels he's more of a speed-based half-marathoner opposed to a strength-based one like Pennel, Ward, Meb, etc.

While he can sometimes be inconsistent in his races, he looked amazing in the 2015 US Half-Marathon Championships, putting a hurting on the field from gun to tape and running under 61 minutes in the process.

I think he has the ability to be a sub 2:10 guy down the road, but it's going to be tough to battle against the deep field, the hot weather and still be able to nail it in his marathon debut.  But heck, he destroyed his professional half marathon debut, so who knows?

Tyler Pennel

Based on the previews and articles I've seen, this guy is criminally underrated. Ever since he ran 61 and change in his half marathon debut, I felt like the marathon was going to be his calling.  How many 61 minute guys are only 13:45ish runners (around his PR at the time)?

He ran 2:13 in his first and only marathon, winning the 2014 US Marathon Championships, with Ward in second.  I remember he and Scott Smith made a huge move around 20 miles and I thought they would both die.  Pennel hung on and he made it look easy to seal the win (with Smith also running very well to finish third). Since then, he's run shorter races, including a sub 4:00 mile, which was his first time under the barrier.

His first race of his Trials build-up was a fifth place performance behind Ward, Chelanga, Ritz and Puskedra in the US 20k Championships on Labor Day.  They ran together from the start and didn't get separated until the end.  Out of the five, I felt like Pennel was the least race-fit.  His next race was the US 10 Mile Championships a month later, where he was a second behind Chelanga, while defeating Ritz.

Just under two months after that, he ran the same time as Chelanga in the US 12k Championships but finished second. In that race, he beat Ward and Estrada.

Pennel always seems to stick his nose out in the front of the race and races with a lot of confidence. And looking at his training leading up to the Trials, he's had a lot of great workouts, which were designed to suit the Trials course well, as he's run workouts with a lot of turns and varied-pace fartleks.

I feel like it would have been better for him to come into the Trials with another marathon under his belt, where he hit the wall or had to grit through the last 10k. His only marathon so far looked way too easy, so he's somewhat of an unknown in a grinding, ugly, marathon race.

Luke Puskedra

Just four months ago, if you told me he would be in 90% of people's top three at the Trials (I totally made up that number but I don't think it's too far off), I would have thought you were insane.  He struggled in his debut marathon and ran well over 2:20. And last June, he ran 2:15, which was a race where a lot of guys set PR's.  And oh yeah, I also thought he was too tall to run a marathon fast. But then the Chicago Marathon happened and he ran 2:10, which would have been at least a 2:09 if it were the same conditions as the 2014 edition.

What's the main change he has made over the last year?  He dropped Salazar as his coach and is now running under Ian Dobson, He also reportedly dropped his mileage from over 175 miles a week under Salazar to about 130.

The big intangible for Puskedra is how he will respond to the pressure.  He entered Chicago about a month before the race and was probably going in without much pressure and a relaxed mindset. Now, he's viewed as someone who should make the team, with even a shot at winning.  It'll be interesting to see how he responds to that and see if he can nail another amazing performance.

Dathan Ritzenhein

He's been my favorite professional runner (along with Max King) for a long time. I've been a fan of him since I saw him run in high school and I like his gritty, old-school approach to training and racing.  If he makes the team, it'll be his fourth Olympics and out of the 2001 High School Big Three (Ritz, Alan Webb and Ryan Hall), he's the last one standing.

He has a marathon PR of 2:07, set at the 2012 Chicago Marathon and is a former American Record Holder in the 5000m with a time of 12:56.  Besides Meb, he's the most experienced marathoner in the race, which will serve him well.

Jeffrey Eggleston

He has the fourth fastest marathon PR with his 2:10:52 at the 2014 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia. He was by far the slowest college runner on this top 12 list but seems to be naturally suited for the marathon distance.  He coaches himself, with his training being influenced by Renato Canova's theories, and he is a very calculated and analytical guy.  He's had some rough go's at the marathon lately but despite his his easy-going demeanor away from competition, he's a fiery competitor in battle.

Bobby Curtis

I'd be a moron if I didn't list at least one Hanson's runner on here.  Those guys are marathon wizards and usually peak very well.  And it's especially helpful when one of those guys has the credentials that Curtis has.  He ran 2:11 in the 2014 Chicago Marathon, which was both his third marathon and third marathon PR and has a 10,000m PR of 27:24.

He should also do well in the weather conditions, as he's been training in Florida the last few weeks. Sure, others have been sitting in saunas and moved to warmer locations recently, but it's one thing to do your peak training in warm weather and entirely another to get some hard, extensive work in it. And I also wonder if moving to a warm location late in the training is a good idea because not only do you not get that tough work in the conditions, but the new environment is a stress to your body during a time you should be relaxing and recovering.

The big question mark I have about him is that while he's normally a pretty active racer, I haven't seen much at all from him over the last year.

Elkanah Kibet

Before last year's Chicago Marathon, no one knew who this guy was.  He had a half-marathon PR over 64 minutes but then busted out a 2:11 at Chicago.  At the time, he was a full-time solider in the US Army and even did a nine-month stint overseas. Now, he's part of the WCAP program and has nothing to worry about expect for training hard.

I actually met him back in 2005 while I was in Kenya and one of the few things I remember is that he told me he was thinking about going to Alabama A&M, which I tried to steer him away from.  He went on to run for Rend Lake Community College and then Auburn University.  I also was about to pee in his water bottle at the starting line of the Chicago Marathon before he told me it was his.

He's spent the last month training in Tuscon with Chelanaga, so it'll be interesting to see how he does. Normally, when you make a big change in your life routine, it either helps you or hurts you.  If it helps him, he has a very good chance at making the team.

Sammy Chelanga

Super nice guy, a family man and really hates to watch horror movies (I roomed with him at the New Haven 20k and not once but twice, he made me turn off a horror movie I was watching). This guy has very impressive PRs of 13:04, 27:08 and 61:19.  He really wants to make a US Olympic Team and his first shot is this weekend.

He trains under James Li with Bernard Lagat and Stephen Sambu and occasionally, Abidi (and recently, Kibet).  He's mentioned that they never really have an easy day and run moderate mileage. That can be great for the shorter stuff, but I'm not sure how it'll work in the marathon.  But his brother was a 2:07 guy, so I'm sure he has received plenty of good advice.

He's been in a lot of intense racing battles on the roads, so he's going to be a force to be reckoned with this weekend.

Fernando Cabada

The twice, 2:11 marathoner surprised people by finishing 7th in the 2012 Marathon Trials and has improved since then.  He's also a pretty unique character and has come far in life.  The thing I love about him is that he's very real and lives his life how he wants to, regardless of what others think.  

The tough thing about the marathon is that you have only one day to shine, no matter how great your training was leading up to it.  Cabada has had rough outings his last two marathons, but he has been training very well and a few weeks ago, ran a 2:18 marathon in a glorified training run and then a week later, ran under 64:02 for the half, after losing his shoe in the last kilometer.

A lot of people knocked him for running a steady marathon four weeks out, but I believe it's no harder than racing a half-marathon in the same time period. And when it comes down it, the steady marathon is a better training stimulus for the marathon race.  

He did the same thing before finishing 7th at the last Olympic Trials and in my best marathon race (2013 Houston Marathon), I ran a steady marathon five weeks out and felt great.  He will be ready.

Final Predictions.

1. Jared Ward

2. Meb Keflezghi

3. Tyler Pennel

This one was very tough.  I don't expect Rupp to finish (hot marathons take longer to recover from and all of the turns on the Trials course will do a number on his legs).  So that led me to Jared Ward. He's an excellent racer, has a great marathon coach/mentor in Ed Eyestone and is race savvy enough to pull it out.

Meb is a true legend, nearly always surprises people and is the best technical racer of the bunch.  But, he's also a few months removed from turning 41 and Father Time is slowly creeping forward.

Third place was insanely tough.  I put Pennel in third because I think he has been a potential 2:10 guy for the past year but just hasn't raced a marathon to prove it.  He also rarely, if ever, has a bad race. He seems like he has a laid-back approach to things, with the old-school racing mentality. It'll be tough to drop the other guys in the field, but I believe his consistency, along with his natural marathoning ability will help him pull through.  Yeah, he was 0-3 against Chelanga last fall, but the marathon is a different beast, and I think he's the type of guy that if he's close to you in the shorter races, he will whip you in the longer ones.

It was very hard to finalize my top three and at one point in time, I had 10 of my listed 12 in my predicted top three at one point.  It's going to be a great race to watch and I think it will be one of the most exciting Olympic Marathon Trials to date.

And oh yeah, a couple darkhorse picks.

#1 Daniel Tapia.  He ran a strong 2:17 last year in LA, to finish fourth among Americans.  He stuck his nose out there a bit and was right behind Ward at 25km. The main reason I'm picking him as a darkhorse is that he's really improved his speed over the last year.  He used to be a consistent 64+ half-marathon guy, but in 2015, he ran under 64 twice. Like the below pick, he's a pure marathoner, so I think his improved speed will translate well to the marathon distance.

#2.  Craig Leon.  You can't be like the USATF and forget about this guy because he races very well and is a natural marathoner.  He has run a ton of 2:13-2:16 times in tough conditions and on tough courses. He wasn't far behind Meb at this past NYC Marathon and has a shot at the top 10.