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.