Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Great Experiment

The sport of running requires one piece of equipment: running shoes.  There are a lot of other things that help, but nothing is more important than shoes.  Whenever flying, I will carry on my shoes above all else.  The airline can loose all my other possessions.  They can be replaced, but a good pair of broken-in shoes are irreplaceable.

The right pair of running shoes will minimize the chances of getting injured, and help a runner to hit their stride effortlessly.  For a long time, I considered myself bio-mechanically inefficient.  I am pigeon toed (my toes tend to point inward), flat footed, and I tend to overpronate.  Therefore, my shoe type of choice tends towards support shoes, with inserts to minimize knee pain.

For the longest time, I trained in Asics Gel Kayanos and raced in Saucony Fastwitches.  Every year, shoe companies re-release their shoes with different colors and usually minor changes.  Unfortunately for Asics, they ruined the Kayanos in my humble opinion, forcing me to change shoes.  The 2010 model caused nothing but major blisters and the shoes would not stay tied no matter what I did.  So I switched to the Brooks Trance, essentially the same style of shoe made by a different company.

The shoe provides a lot of support and cushion.  In addition to helping flat footed runners, it is supposed to help compensate for those that tend to land on their heels.  Both the Kayanos and Trance are on the heavy side for shoes, weighing in at 11-13 ounces.  However, the Trance are a bit less clunky and have a tighter fit.

The Saucony Fastwitch on the other hand are all about light weight.  They are racing flats, designed to be used in road races and fast training days.  Every year, they have made the shoe lighter and lighter.  This year in particular they have really done a good job.  There is almost nothing to the shoe, weighing in at 7 ounces.  It provides just a splash of support for flat footed runners.

I have always run races in these shoes and have felt awesome in them.  My stride is always so much smoother and more effortless when wearing these shoes.  However, with the reduced "protection," I was always concerned about running too much in them.  My opinion started to change during my Spring training cycle.  I completed 3 marathons, all in the Fastwitches, and felt just as good if not better in those shoes than I did in my trainers after long runs.

I decided for the second half of 2010 to do all my speedwork and tempo runs in my racing flats, dedicating a larger percentage of my mileage to the lighter shoes.  If I did not experience any new pain after a few months, I'd consider going to even lighter weight shoes.  After 4 months of experimenting, I am happy to report that my body can handle the lighter shoes quite well.  I absolutely love running in my Fastwitches, my stride just feels so natural.

The only draw back with racing flats is durability.  At only 200 miles, the treads are almost completely shot and the shoes end up feeling "flat."  My most recent pair will be retired at the end of this week, after only 1.5 months.  Thankfully, they are cheaper than my trainers, so the cost per mile is nearly the same, meaning I don't really spend more money for taking this approach.

However, I have noticed something very interesting about the wear patterns on my Fastwitches.  I see almost no wear whatsoever on the heels, all the wear is between the midfoot and forefoot area.  This is hard evidence that I am not a heel striker, and may be more biomechanically efficient than I thought.  Taking a closer look at my trainers revealed the same pattern.

After talking to some people who commented that I do run upright with a good a stride, and seeing wear patterns on heel strikers, I have concluded that my stride is actually a good one.  I still flail way too much and don't keep my legs and knees as straight as I could, but the most important part of my stride seems to be good.  It means that I may be able to run in neutral shoes, or shoes that are even lighter than my Fastwitches.  I also don't exhibit wear patterns suggesting overpronating.  That could mean the shoes are doing their jobs, or that I don't overpronate to begin with.  Since the Fastwitch gives less support, but yet the wear pattern is no different, I'm assuming that I don't overpronate (at least not anymore).

I still use my cut to fit orthotics to relieve knee pain, since I am convinced they cured my patellar tendinitis...a problem I developed back in 2007 when I made my return to running.  However, my next step in my shoe experiment is to try a lighter weight neutral shoe.  I just picked up a pair of Brooks T6 Racers.  Weighing in at 6oz's, it is one of the lightest road racing flats on the market.  It is recommended one works carefully with this shoe, trying shorter distance events before taking them for a spin in a marathon.

After trying them on, they feel like they can work.  I'll start off real slow with them, first trying them during my easy morning runs with Back on my Feet.  If that goes well, next will be one of my short but moderate paced solo runs.  If a few of those work, I'll try some speedwork, then a 5K race, then some tempos, then longer races.  I have no idea how much I'll be able to handle, or how far I'll be able to run in them while avoiding pain.

However, I feel I have enough evidence to suggest I can handle it.  Based on my current trend, if the Fastwitches feel awesome, perhaps this lighter shoe will feel even better.  My next move would be to obtain lighter weight shoes to train in, reserving the T6s for racing only, or some combination of speedwork and racing.

If this experiment works, I'll end up running exclusively in Brooks shoes.  Combine that with my growing collection of Brooks apparel, and one may notice I'm making a move towards one brand.  There is a reason for this, which hopefully, will provide some benefit for me in the future, but more on that another time.

22 miles @ 6:36/mile Pace, 2:25:01 Overall

And so it was, at long last, October came to pass.  And not a moment too soon, that's for sure.  Another weekend of great weather made for an interesting long run.  At this point, I no longer consider these results getting carried away, but rather the norm.  After running 6:45's or better as an average for all 3 of my 22 mile long runs in the month of October, it was clearly never a fluke.

Splits: 7:31, 6:52, 7:00, 6:57, 6:54, 6:56, 6:50, 6:32, 6:36, 6:33, 6:32, 6:25, 6:22, 6:17, 6:23, 6:22, 6:21, 6:12, 6:22, 6:20, 6:23, 6:21

Temperatures were in the high 50s, with a rather annoying wind blowing North to South.  I start out on the NCR trail running Northbound, so the wind was not fun.  By around Mile 8 or 9 I was not really feeling so hot.  I felt a bit tired, and my legs were too sore considering how short I ran.  Of course, being that I run out and back, if I gave in and stopped, it meant a very, very long walk back to my car, and I wasn't having any of that.

Even though I felt less than stellar most of the time, it never really got any worse after mile 8.  And overall, I'm still better than I was last week.  It seems that at this point, my body has just given in and won't put me through anymore agony.  Of course, the level of agony I'm in already is more than enough!  Alternatively, I might just be getting used to running this much.

Though I'm a bit sore, nothing specific hurts, and overall, I feel about the same I did after my 22 miler the previous week.  This completes my 90.5 mile week, the longest of this cycle, and my longest week ever by 10.5 miles.  I didn't end up cutting any mileage from this week as I had originally planned.  Furthermore, it completes a month of October in which I ran 364 miles, 97 miles further than my longest month in the first half of the year.

I ran 77, 75, 79, and 90.5 miles for each week in October with no step back weeks.  My long runs were 22, 26.2, 22, and 22.  The three 22's were done at 6:45/mile, 6:45/mile, and 6:36/mile.  The marathon was done at 8:00/mile pace, one of only 2 Long Slow Distance Runs in my training cycle.  Overall, I am redlining, but I'm not overtrained or overreached.  I am certainly very close to all I can handle, which was my goal going into this month.

I am now 27 days away from my goal marathon.  On deck is a 75 mile week with no long run.  My longest will be 13, and I'll be racing in a 5k and 10k this weekend.  I'll also only be doing a tempo run, with no speedwork.  The change of pace should be welcome, and I never thought I'd say that I'm looking forward to running "only" 75 miles.

In the hole...(coming up)...the taper begins in earnest the following week with a ~70 mile week.  That will be followed by a 60, and then the week of the race (including the race itself) will be a 55.  I'm still considering tweaking, but my overall goal is to avoid over-tapering.  I think that is one of a couple mistakes I made back in May.  My goal is to only feel ready a day or two before the race, rather than a week in advance.  I run most of my races on tired legs that "wake up" just a few hours before the race.  So at most, I only want "strong legs" for a couple of days.  Essentially, I am treating my marathon just like all other races, because ultimately, that's all it is, just another race (one that happens to be twice as long as the next common race distance...).  After the race is when I'll go into recovery mode to let my mind and body heal up from the absolute torture I have put it through.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday: 3 + 10 miles Saturday: 9.5 + 10 miles


AM: 3 miles easy.  The weather turned cold, abruptly.  Felt decent.

PM: 10 miles moderate.  A bit tougher after a 12 hour day at work and a lot of standing during the day.  However, every time I power through one of these runs, it always gives me more confidence.  If I can bang out 10 miles at moderate pace after a long day at work, I'll be that much better off in race situations.

AM: 9.5 miles, easy.  This was officially my first <50 degree run.  It was in the low 40s at the start.  With the easy pace, it required my to break out the running tights and cold compression shirt.  I must say, I'll miss the shorts and t-shirt running weather when it's gone for the winter again.  My legs felt pretty terrible, not sore, but tired.  Overall, still better than last week.

PM: 10 miles, moderate.  This run was tough, I was tired most of the way.  My appetite seems out of whack too, in that I can't stay full.  None of this is really surprising or unexpected.  This is my 4th consecutive week over 70 miles, and I'm on pace for over 80.  November and taper are right around the corner, just gotta hold on!

Tomorrow...22 miles.  It should prove, interesting.  Thanks to cooler weather, I'll sleep in as late as I want and see if I can't sleep off some of my tired leg feeling.  My new favorite running book, "Once A Runner" refers to this as the Trial of Miles, running day in and day out, accumulating the miles, while slowly falling apart.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wed: 4 + 8 miles Thurs: 7.5 mile Tempo Run


AM: 4 miles, easy pace, steady rain.  Felt great.

PM: 8 miles, moderate pace, 70s, humid.  So much for fall weather...  I felt a bit tired for most of the run, though it was probably more because of stress from work than running related.  Regardless, no matter how terrible I feel during these un-timed runs, I always finish them these days.  No matter how bad I feel early, it usually gets a little better during the second half of the run.


10 miles total...7.5 miles @ tempo pace...5:43/mile, 42:54 overall,  in Druid Hill Park @ Sunset

This was the workout that did me in last week.  I had been fighting to stay alive all week and this one almost killed me.  Going into this week, I was determined to get through it no matter what.  I wasn't looking forward to it, that's for sure.  Splits (1.5 miles):

9:01; 8:26; 8:21; 8:30; 8:35

I was glad I ran the first lap a bit slower, just as extra insurance to avoid blowing up before the end.  Overall, I hit my times, and it felt a lot easier to hold the pace than it did last week.  I wasn't fighting myself to hold on, but instead just let it rip.

I touched the edge of the abyss last week, but seem to have brought myself back.  I originally cut 5 miles out of this week by not running this morning, but I may add that back on Saturday since I'm feeling pretty good.  This time last week I was thinking about cutting out 15 miles.  It's amazing what a well timed day off can do.

With this run, I have surpassed 300 miles for the month, a first.  Hopefully, sometime next year I can hit 400, then we'll be talking!  Just one more 22 miler to go this weekend.  Then after 4 consecutive weeks of 22+ mile long runs, I will have nothing over 13 miles next week, then just an 18 and a 15 before the one that matters!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

4miles + 5xmile (10 miles)

AM: 4 miles, 5AM, high 50s.  Ran at easy/moderate pace.  I felt pretty darn good, much better than my last 22 miler at 6:45 pace.  It's very possible my body caught back up with recovery.

PM: 5xmile.  2 mile warm up, 1 mile cool down, 5 minutes rest between repeats, jogged 2 laps per recovery session.  I absolutely rocked this workout.  Furthermore, my legs were a bit tired, so it took some effort and was an "honest" performance.  Splits:

5:16; 5:18; 5:15, 5:15; 5:15

I'm coming off a 79 mile week and will be hitting 80 or more this week and yet I just completely rocked this workout.  When I was a junior in high school, this was my PR.  Now I can bang these out like its my job in a track workout.  If only I can go back to High School Dan and tell him: "run more you lazy piece of crap!"  But, alas, I cannot, so Fast Dan has to make up for High School Dan's laziness.

Of course, the most exciting part of my day was getting stuck in my apartment building's elevator for over an hour.  The building maintenance guy had a fire key but it didn't work and he couldn't even get it open.  It took someone from the elevator company to get it open.  I was stuck between the basement and 1st floor and had to jump out when it was open.

From what I understand and have seen, the Fire Department's first line of defense in this situation is a fire key.  If that elevator was on fire, and they couldn't open it with that, apparently I would have been in trouble.  Since fate chooses to mock me...I'm spitting back in its face.

I am now officially declaring my marathon goal race pace.  I will start off at 6:30 pace, (2:50 overall).  I will accept splits as fast as 6:20.  After mile 6, if I have even the slightest inclination I'm holding back, I'll speed up to 6:15-6:20 and do everything I can to hold on. 6:10 pace gives a 2:41, 6:20 gives 2:46.  Someone I beat in a recent half marathon just ran a 2:41 full in Baltimore.  Combine that with my 6:45/mile 22 milers and it's time to stop screwing around.  It's time to run what I'm capable of running, and it's time to stop giving in and just run through the pain and torture like I do for EVERY OTHER RACE DISTANCE.  There is nothing special about the marathon, nothing!

If I'm going to get stuck in a goddamn elevator with no way out if it was on fire, then I'm going to blow away my old marathon PR or collapse and die trying.  There is no way a piece of junk elevator is going to be the end of me!  And I won't let bad luck, fate, pain, tiredness, my freaking job, or glycogen depletion stand in my way...

I want a 20 minute PR...I want to keep improving at this alarming rate so I can keep plowing forward down the less than 3 hour realm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday: 22 miles Monday: Rest day

Sunday, 10/24: 22 miles, 2:28:29, 6:45/mile average.

This run started at 6:15AM on the NCR Trail.  Sunrise was not until about 7-7:15, so I ran most of the first hour in the dark, by moonlight.  If not for a full moon, it would have been almost pitch black.  I started a bit slower than I usually do for long runs, and certainly felt a bit sore early.  However, it was not nearly as bad as it was earlier in the week.  Overall, my Saturday rest day may have saved me.  Splits:

8:41, 7:44, 7:32, 7:22, 7:18, 7:05, 7:11, 6:54, 6:48, 6:37, 6:43, 6:23, 6:24, 6:14, 6:17, 6:13, 6:19, 6:08, 6:08, 6:08, 6:10, 6:09.

Even though I started slow, I finished a lot stronger than I usually do, and netted what has become a typical result.  I felt sore half way through the run, but it seemed to melt away as I pushed the pace more and more.  Eventually, I just settled in and rocked the last 5 miles.

Overall, I don't feel that bad.  I continue to survive.

Total weekly mileage: 79

On deck: this coming week was supposed to be an 89 mile week, I was planning on cutting 15 miles from it, but for now, I'm keeping it largely as scheduled.  We'll see how it goes, one day at a time.  One 22 miler to go before I start cutting back on the long runs.

Coming up: Turek House 5K and Rockville 10K.

Today: rest day, stacking the rest Saturday from last week and Monday for this week is certainly nice.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rest Day

Friday: 10/22: Easy 4 miles


A much, much needed rest day is on tap for today, 10/23.  I'm scheduled and will still run my 22 miler as planned tomorrow at whatever pace is needed to get it done.  Overall, I'll only be down 3 miles for the week, which would not be so bad.  My legs feel fine walking around, we'll see how they respond to running tomorrow and the days that follow.

If I can manage, I would like to keep my schedule for next week.  However, if it becomes a problem, my Wednesday tempo run will probably be the first thing I cut out and probably one other easy run to skim off 15 miles.

I am quite confident that I have the legs and running fitness to run a great race at the NCR Trail Marathon, I just need to make sure to get there in one piece.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Over-reached? It is possible. I am afterall, only human

AM: 6 miles.  Woke up at 4:45 to get in 6 miles at a relatively easy pace.  I felt ok, better than yesterday, but overall, my legs were very tired for most of the run.

PM: On the schedule was 10 miles with 7.5 @ tempo pace (~5:45-5:50/mile).  However, I was having my doubts most of the day whether I could handle it.

On my 1.25 mile warm up, I felt decent, better than expected.  When I finally got started, I managed to get through 4.5 miles (3 1.5 mile loops):

8:28; 8:23; 8:32. 

It's clear my times were a bit slower than previous weeks, though it was a bit windy.  The real issue was how I felt: COMPLETELY spent.  It took everything I had to throw out that pace and my usual somewhat effortless stride was excessively labored.  I finally stopped when my stomach got tied into a knot.

I ran the 1.25 miles back to my apartment for 7 miles total, not bad, but not what I was supposed to do.  I've been suspecting that I was teetering close to over reaching (I don't use the term "over training" anymore), but was hoping I could hold out long enough to get to my taper.

After today, that may not be the case.  Friday will be an extremely easy day and Saturday will be a day off.  On the plus side...I have now run 9 days in a row, run a marathon, and doubled up 6 times.  No doubt I have run a lot.  After these two days, I'll get through my 22 miler on Sunday even if I have to run it slow.  I'll then reevaluate for next week.

I'm pretty sure a 90 mile week, which I am clearly not physically ready for, is going to do more harm than good, so I'll need to tweak my mileage a bit in these last few weeks.  I knew the risk going into this cycle and specifically these last few weeks.  And, honestly, I'd rather push myself just over my limit and then back off rather than wonder if I pushed myself hard enough.  Let's just hope I caught myself in time!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

4 miles + 10 miles

AM: 4 miles easy, low 50s.  Felt OK during the run.  Even though I did not feel sore running at an easy pace, I knew that my body had entered "recovery debt mode."  Picking it up just a little started to cause soreness.

PM: 10 miles moderate pace.  This was originally supposed to be a tempo run, but after a long day at work (though not very productive), I switched tomorrow's 10 miler with today's tempo run.  Both runs end up being the same mileage.  To be blunt, I felt awful most of the way.  My legs are quite sore, and it is clear my body has fallen behind in recovering between runs.  I still ran the pace I wanted to, but man did it suck.  I was definitely cursing out Charles St. all the way back up since those hills were even harder than usual.

I'm not surprised by how I feel.  In fact, I'm shocked that it has taken me this long to start falling apart.  I'm entering survival mode now, and taking my entire training regime 1 mile at a time.  I've got a 90 mile week after this 82, then I get to back down to 75 for two weeks, then taper for real and drop into the 60s.  I'm so close, so it's understandable that I'm teetering on the edge.

I don't feel nearly bad enough to cut back.  Just got to make sure to sleep as much as possible!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10/18-10/19...26 miles total

Monday, 10/18

AM: 4 miles, recovery pace, 50's.  Felt great considering I ran a marathon only on Saturday.  Easy pace or not, 26.2 miles and 3 hours and 30 minutes of running is a lot.  I felt minimal soreness.  Certainly much better than my 22 miler @ 6:45 pace the week before.

PM: 13 miles, moderate-difficult pace.  The longest I usually run after work is 10 miles.  In fact, I've never run this far after work.  It can be tough to stay fueled up all day for what used to be a "long run."  Well, times have changed.  Since I have some plans this weekend, but must continue to appease the "calendar gods,"  I flip-flopped some runs so Saturday can become a rest day.  That resulted in 13 miles on Monday instead of Saturday.  I did not carry any water or fuel with me and felt great for almost the entire run.  As a result, I probably ran it too fast.  I started to feel a bit sore by the end, but overall, it was a great run through the streets of Baltimore, in the evening, with great temperatures, 60's.

There was once a time where doing things with friends counted as a legit excuse to skip a run.  That all changed this year.  No matter what, it must get done.  Injury is the only valid excuse.

Tuesday, 10/19

In continuing the ripple effects of my flip usual Tuesday rest day was exchanged for my speed workout that is normally done on Monday.  That allows Saturday to become a rest day.  This might be only the 2nd Saturday of the entire year that I won't be running.

9 Miles: 8x800m with 2:30 rest (just enough time for 1 lap jog), 2 mile warm up, 1 mile cool down.  I certainly felt a bit spent during my 2 mile warm up.  That 13 miler certainly took a bit of a toll.  However, after some stretching and strides, my legs felt ready to go.  Here are the splits:

2:28; 2:28; 2:30; 2:31; 2:32; 2:30; 2:32; 2:32

I felt "slow" for the first two despite the times.  Regardless of how I felt, I certainly went out too fast.  I kept telling myself after each repeat to just try and hold on.  Overall, I did a pretty good job.  6-8 were particularly difficult.  I had to dig deep to hold the pace, and had barely caught my breath at the end of the recovery phase.  It also must have been humid, because I sweat a lot despite temperatures in the high 50s.  Nonetheless...a very successful workout.

My soreness is manageable right now.  It is not any worse than I would expect, considering I've run 26 miles in two days.  One more workout tomorrow afternoon, then some easy runs and a rest day before my penultimate 22 mile run on Sunday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

6 miles easy/moderate Pace

Well, it's the day after the Baltimore Marathon and I feel absolutely no soreness whatsoever.  I went for an easy/moderate 6 miles through the city at 9AM.  Temperatures were great, 50s with no wind (too bad it wasn't like this yesterday!).

I'm glad I tacked on an extra 15 miles to this week to turn it back into a mileage, rather than step back week.

Total weekly mileage: 75

Next up: the top of the peak...82 mile week, and 90 mile week.

On deck: 3 more races in early November before the taper for the NCR Trail Marathon begins.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Experiences as a Geico Marathon Pacer @ Baltimore Marathon

For those of you that don't know, pace groups are something that have become quite common in marathons.  Pace groups comprise a group of pacers who will run a certain finish time for the marathon race.  Generally, they will run even splits the entire way.  The Geico Pace Group paces at both the Frederick and Baltimore Marathons and it is one of the best organized and executed groups out there.

I ran with a pace group in my third marathon, the 2009 Frederick Marathon.  They were the reason why I managed to run a sub-3:30, and I absolutely loved running with them.  In the 2009 Baltimore Marathon, a race I ran just because I signed up (but was not ready to BQ), I joined the 3:40 group for most of the way.  After that race, I decided that I wanted to get involved with this pacing group.

So I waited, and waited, and waited for the Baltimore Marathon site to give up some kind of information about signing up to be a pacer.  I checked that damn website so many times.  Finally, in February, actually while I was traveling to the New Orleans R&R Marathon, there was a window to sign up.  From the sound of it, I was really lucky to get in.  7 new pacers were added, including me (even though I did not know any of the other pacers and had no recommendation).  My only saving grace I imagine was my speed.  Faster pacers are hard to come by.

My first big decision was deciding what pace to run.  I eventually settled on 3:30 or 8:01 minutes/mile.  In May of 2009, that would have been a PR attempt.  Now, 1.5 years later, 3:30 is a pace that I know I can maintain no matter what; good weather, bad weather, good running day, bad day.  Furthermore, I knew I could do that pace without looking "spent" at the end.  I decided I owed that to whomever followed me and other pacers while running.  If the pacer's only going to stress out the people following.

So after a pre-run meeting and dinner, I met the 4 other pacers in my group, and got a whole bunch of free stuff, including the official uniform.  I must say, I felt quite professional in the shirt, hat, and pace band.  Each pace group is designed to have a leader, ultimately responsible for the pace, a back up person in case the leader runs into trouble, and then rank-and-file pacers that help keep people together, and distract them.

Being a first time pacer, my orders were simple: stay behind the leader and don't push on ahead.  I had no responsibility for actually keeping pace, which was a relief.  I was literally just along for the ride.  To summarize the race...we went out a bit too quick and had about 2 minutes of banked time before hitting the hills (2nd half of the course).  By about mile 20 we were closer to pace, though the mile markers were all screwed up in that area.  Sometime after that, our lead pacer had to drop out.  Our back up leader took over, but unfortunately, picked the pace up just a tad too much and we ended up coming in at 3:28:44.  Generally, we are supposed to target +/-59 seconds of our target pace.  I don't know what that means for the leaders, but they tried the best they could.  Given the wind, their struggles, and lack of accurate mile markers on the second half, I hope they are forgiven

I was a bit disappointed that we did not hit the pace we were supposed to.  However, many people that ran with us were grateful for our help.  I certainly had fun the whole way, talking to people and pointing out other races the course runs over (such as the Baltimore 10 Miler).

On a selfish note, I was very, very happy with how I felt.  There was never a point in the race where I thought I would not hold the pace.  In fact, the only time my breathing rate really increased above baseline was on the very first few miles (which are mostly uphill).  For the rest of the race, if you just listened to my breathing, you probably wouldn't guess I was running.  Furthermore, my legs felt somewhat sore during the race, but not nearly as bad as they should for a marathon.  I did have a full bladder most of the race, but that was only a minor annoyance.

In summary, I had an awesome time pacing, and would love to do it again.  Furthermore, a pace that only 1.5 years ago was an all out effort is now, quite literally, a Saturday morning jog.  I know I'm capable of pacing 3:20 and maybe even 3:10...especially if I PR in my goal marathon.  There were only 5 pacers total between 3:10 and 3:20, so my skills are clearly in demand for those distances.  I also think I would be a much more natural 3:20 or 3:10 pacer.  I can consciously run those paces without having to make sure to "hold myself back."  In fact, 3:20 feels the most natural.  If I just go and run without thinking about it and hold steady, it will usually come out to a 3:20 pace.

So...maybe I can do this again at Frederick.

Friday, October 15, 2010

3 miles + 7 miles, easy pace

AM: 3 miles easy

PM: 7 miles easy

Felt better in the morning than the afternoon.  However, I am feeling much better than I did the day before the National Marathon in March (marathon I ran un-tapered).  Pacing 3:30 at Baltimore will certainly prove interesting tomorrow, but I'm ready!

History Part 1: My First Running Life, the Early Days

To this day I cannot remember how I decided to join my middle school cross country team back in September of 1998.  I do remember, very vividly, how I felt after our very first practice.  I don't even remember the day's workout.  I do know that we ran 1/2 mile around the track.  It was only after we finished that I found out it was only the warm-up.  I thought that was completely crazy.  Who warms up by running before they actually run?  I probably don't remember the actual workout (it was probably perimeters around the athletic fields) because it was so tramuatizing!

The next day, I remember feeling completely sore.  My entire body felt like it was laminated.  I could barely walk, stand up, sit down, or even turn my head.  To this day, I have never been as sore as I felt then, not even after my first marathon.  In hindsight, I was probably just jumping into things too fast.  I went from basically running nothing to doing around 2-3 miles (without walking) in practice.  But, I didn't know anything at all about running back then.  I just did what my coach told me to do and assumed how I felt was normal.  Ignorance certainly is bliss!  That mindset also helped define my approach to running which has lasted until this day.

I truly believe that if I started running on my own, I would never, ever be able to reach the times I'm running now.  Conventional wisdom and training theory for amateurs and people just starting out are so ridiculously conservative these days.  It's great for keeping people injury free and keeping them going without discouragement, especially if they are just looking to "stay in shape."  But, it's horrible for showing people what it takes to run as fast as your potential will allow.  I quickly thought it was normal to run hard, and feel tired more often than not.  I thought soreness, searing pain and extremely heavy breathing were all part of running.  If there was no pain, I wasn't running hard enough.  In a race, if I didn't cross the line completely exhausted and didn't feel like a train wreak most of the way, I hadn't run fast enough.  Frankly, without just diving into it like I did, I would have ended up being too soft.  I certainly would have been much further away for the "true runner" that my Once a Runner quote describes.

I'm sure a lot of people would have thrown in the towel after feeling that terrible.  However, I actually felt proud of being so sore.  I remember bragging to people telling them how bad I felt, and that I was going back to run again.  So I showed up for the 2nd day, and the 3rd, and just kept coming back.  The soreness eventually subsided, and I started getting accustomed to running.

I really can't remember weekly mileage totals, or our training cycles and what not.  It never even crossed my mind to track such things.  Looking back now, I certainly had no idea what I was doing!

When I was running middle school XC, races started out at 1 mile, and about halfway through the season, they would bump to 1.5 miles.  My first race ever, was against Commack, and they were one of the only schools that had a real dirt trail cross country course away from their actual school grounds.  It was raining so ridiculously hard.  To that point in my very short running life, I had never run in rain like that before.  I was both nervous and excited.

As per standard procedures, we walked the course beforehand, then lined up and got ready to start.  I remember very little from the race.  All I know is it was hilly, the footing was bad, and it hurt a lot.  About 0.2 miles from the finish I actually fell down.  I got forced up a little lip on the side of the trail by another runner and took a rather cushioned tumble.  I literally bounced right back up and passed back all the people that passed me when I fell.

I think that incident is why until this day that I hate getting passed, and cannot run right behind or right next to someone.  My time was something over 7 minutes,; times didn't really mean much to me back then.

Beyond that race, I have very little memory as to what transpired.  I do know I started learning my first lessons about cramping.  As the season wore on, especially in races I start experiencing terrible side cramps and stitches.  I actually thought the cause was drinking too much water beforehand.  Of course the problem was the exact opposite.  Even before I cut back on water, I was not even drinking close to enough.  It took a while, but at some point I figured it out and got into the habit of drinking water throughout the day.  It's a habit that continues to this day to keep cramping at bay.  Though, now I'm also better at just sucking it up if I do get a cramp.

When Spring Track rolled around, I immediately picked the Mile (actually 1600m, 9m short of a mile) as my event.  It was the longest race you could do in Middle School, so I decided I would become a Miler.  I dabbled in the long jump for a little, but I knew really early on that I would be a distance runner.  To that point, my mile time was probably somewhere in the 7s.  I don't remember exactly when I went sub-7, but it was sometime during Middle School.

As 8th grade wore on, my times continued to slowly creep down.  Obviously, only being in Middle School, we weren't exactly running high mileage.  However, with the training load we had, I was seeing results.  I quickly became determined to get faster, and keep knocking down my PRs.  Nothing would beat the sense of accomplishment of achieving a new PR.  Racing quickly became my favorite part about running.

By the time I moved onto High School, my mile time was down somewhere in the 6's.  I can't remember if it was high or low 6's.  I do remember that around that time, I came up with the goal of breaking 5:00 in the mile before I graduated High School.  That become my first long term goal.

My High School running began in late August, 2000, but that is a story for another day...stay tuned for Part II

Thursday, October 14, 2010

5 miles, moderate pace

Mid 50s, rainy...good day to run.  Before picking up my racing bib for the Baltimore Marathon, I went for a moderate 5.  I feel great, almost no more ill-effects from my overdone 22 miler on Sunday.

My left leg and back both hurt a bit later at night, but that is almost certainly due to my trainers, which just surpassed 500 miles.  Combine that with some dull shin pain, and it is time for new ones!

I'll be running the Baltimore Marathon as part of the 3:30 Pace Group and am certainly looking forward to it.  My job is to help others get across that line @ 8:00/mile pace.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

History Introduction

I've always wanted to record an overview of my 12 years of running.  Starting this blog is helping to fulfill that goal.  My running life can broken up into a few eras, and there are a few defining moments that I want to outline so I can look back later and see how far I've come.

This will be the first in a series of posts summarizing my running history.  For now, I'll give the 35,000 foot overview, then dive into each "era" individually.

The first time I ever really ran in a "controlled environment" was way back in the day in 3rd grade.  As part of gym class we had to run a mile.  I still remember doing that mile in ~9:55, feeling completely dead at the end, and getting passed by a bunch of people.  I had no idea at the time, but that day planted the seed that started everything.

Over the years, twice a year we would run the mile as part of the physical fitness test.  My time eventually got into the low 8's, and I think I even went sub 8 once.  I never really counted these as part of my running history, just some very early beginnings.

Once September 1998 rolled around, I was in 7th grade and eligible to join a sports team.  Being a very skinny, uncoordinated, and unskilled person, I wasn't good at anything.  So I decided to join the Cross Country team.  I really don't remember how I came up with this, or what led me to make that decision.  In hindsight it would became the single most important decision of my entire life.

The first day of practice was the beginning of my 1st running life.  This era lasted from that practice to my final 1600m race in Spring Track in May of 2004 as a High School Senior.

From the day I graduated in June 2004 through July 5th, 2007, I entered the dark ages, or the lean years.  On that fateful day, July 5th, my 2nd running life began.

This continued through November 14, 2009.  Once I crossed the finish line of the Richmond Marathon on that day, the next and most important era began.  I like to call it the "Fast Dan" era.  I can't take credit for the catchy name, that goes to various people in Back on My Feet Baltimore that came up with, and spread it; I just jumped on the bandwagon!

Stay tuned for a summary (as best I can remember it) of my "1st running life."

4 miles easy + 10.5 miles w/ 7.5 @ tempo pace

AM: 4 miles, easy pace.  Wonderful weather, mid 50's.  I felt 100% during this run.  The first step to recovery from soreness is feeling good at easy pace.  I ran myself to the edge on Sunday, but got pulled back by my recovery abilities.

PM: 10.5 miles total, 7.5 @ tempo pace.  Also wonderful weather, low 60s with the sun setting over the horizon in Druid Hill Park.  Good thing too, because the sun was blinding on my first loop...  My splits were slower than they were last week (1.5 mile splits):

8:38; 8:14; 8:20; 8:39; 8:43;  42:34 overall, 5:41/mile pace.

Last time I held 8:20 or better for the middle 3 before slowing a bit.  This week laps 4 and 5 were slower.  I was feeling it pretty badly on the second and third lap.  It took a lot just to stop the bleeding and stay consistent over the last two.  I think a poorly timed last minute powerbar helped sabatoge me a bit.

Though I struggled a bit and felt a bit tired, my legs were strong.  All of that specific, directed upper left leg pain is essentially gone, which is a BIG relief.  I hate targeted reproducible pain, because it can suggest injury.  I have some dull general soreness, but overall I'm doing decently in this, the middle of my peak month.

3 days until I run the Baltimore Marathon as a pacer!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 Falls Road 15K from 10/3/2010

This is my second and final race report from the past.  I wanted to include my thoughts from this race as well.  The Falls Road 15K is a low key race put on by Falls Road Running that runs in Druid Hill Park and on, you guessed it...Falls Road.

With a 7:30 start time and cool temperatures, I had a second consecutive race with solid running weather.  Temperatures at the start were in the low 50s with a very light wind.  To this point, I had a full week to recover from my half marathon.  Though I was not 100%, my legs were fresh enough for a solid effort.  I canned my usual tempo run for the week in an effort to save something for this race, since it would end up being a tempo run effort anyway.

While we lined up at the "start" which was just a lamp post (I love low key races...), I only recognized one other runner who would give me competition.  I recognized other faces, but knew they would be behind me.  A cyclist was positioned ahead of us to lead the way.  As soon as the "go" command was given, I pulled away from almost everyone.  From the far left, a runner I did not recognize effortlessly took the lead behind the bike.  I was quickly 5 strides behind him.

I run in Druid Hill Park a lot and had reviewed the course map, so I knew it would be another hilly race.  A good portion of the first mile was uphill, with the actual mile marker on the only downhill portion of the "Mansion House loop."  The leader continued to put distance on me, but to my shock, no one else from behind even put up a fight.  I had quickly buried everyone else, I didn't even get a race out of a couple of runners that I thought would give me a run for my money.

As far as splits go...I only got the first 4 miles of the 9.3 mile race and cleared them from my watch, so most of this is estimates based on memory.

The first mile felt surprisingly easy.  I was shocked to see the following time:

Mile 1: ~5:45

I was planning on going out at around 5:50-6:00 pace mostly to save it for the hills, but with the ease of the pace, I stuck with it.  The leader was about 15 seconds ahead at this point, so I still made attempts to reel him back in.

The course looped back around towards the lake, and ran clockwise around it.  Mile 2 was not actually marked, though the race director described where it was (yay low key races!!).

Mile 2: ~5:37

I started feeling a bit tired at this point.  My legs were a bit heavy and I started wondering if I went out too fast.  At this point I decided to stop trying to catch the leader, he was only pulling away.  For the first time I could ever think of in a race, I was able to back off and bide my time for at least the next mile.

Mile 3: ~6:06

After running around the lake, the course continued towards the Zoo.  There was some uphill in this section, but the slower time was due to my conscious effort to slow down.  My stomach was voicing its displeasure along with my legs for most of that mile.  The course continued winding along the Jones Falls Trail.  It was rather peaceful in this area of the park.

With no one ahead of or behind me, I was constantly worried about taking a wrong turn.  The course was mainly marked with chalk arrows and flour on the ground.  However, I was worried about following some unrelated arrow.  Thankfully, the cyclist looped back to me once to make sure I made one of the more confusing turns.

After running downhill on some very, very sharp turning switchbacks, the course dumped me out on Clipper Park Drive.  Two things happened at this point.  I realized I was still close to the leader, and my legs/stomach started feeling better.  I don't remember my Mile 4 or 5 splits exactly, but they were faster...

Mile 4-5: ~5:50

The course would continue southbound, looping around the east end of Druid Hill Park.  It was mostly downhill at this point, so I just let it fly.  Mile 6 was not officially marked with a sign, but there was a chalk "6" in the road which I hit at 5:45.  After that, I did not see anymore mile markers.  I could really care less about my splits at that point.  I was feeling much better than I did early in the race, and just continued to let it fly at sub-6 pace.

As the course continued down Falls Road, we eventually hit a turn around point, went back up the hill that we ran down, ran back into the park, and to the finish.  After the turn around, I knew I would have a chance to see where the rest of the competition was.  That's when I realized I was minutes, not seconds ahead of 3rd place, and I only saw a handful of runners before breaking off Falls Road to go back into the Park.  I had expected to see a large amount of the pack, but apparently, I was too far ahead.  Very few people had reached the area of Falls Road that I (and the leader) was on.

To get back to the park, one has to run up a 3 tiered switchback.  Each 180 degree turn absolutely killed momentum, and running uphill like that at the end of a race, was brutal.  Once that was conquered, I was presented with the Wyman Park Drive entrance to the park, which was another 0.25 miles uphill.  The course eventually flattened out for the last ~0.75 miles, but it certainly hurt to get there.

Even though I knew full well I had 2nd place locked up, I still pushed hard over the final hills and once I caught my breath a bit, really turned it on for the final flat stretch.  Apparently both the leader and I reached the finish sooner than expected as they were barely ready to start taking finishing times!

I crossed the line in 54:12, 5:50/mile pace and a new PR, by 3:41.  My previous 15K was on a completely flat course over 1.5 years ago.  So two consecutive races on tough courses and two PRs over performances on flat courses.  Furthermore, I fought through early troubles to finish very strong.  I'm starting to get better at running all out even when I don't completely feel it.  Anyone can run their best on their best day, but it takes a true runner to run hard even when they aren't feeling it.

I'm not ready to anoint myself a "true runner" as my Once a Runner quote describes, but I'm a hell of a lot closer this year.  I haven't run very many big races the second half of this year, nor will I.  I've stayed local and small because it is much, much cheaper.  However, I'm excited to enter a couple of big races next year with my newly found running prowess.

Tuesday 10/12/2010: Rest

Rest and recovery is an extremely important part of training.  It works simply, you run hard, break your body down a bit, then rest.  Your body responds by building itself stronger than it was before, and you can run faster.

Of course, how much do you gamble on the build up portion?  That is the multi-million dollar question.

I don't feel too sore at all walking around, and should feel even better tomorrow morning.  I actually wanted to run today!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday, 10/11/2010, 4 + 9 miles (Hill Repeats)

AM Run: 4 miles, easy recovery pace.  Mid 60s in the early AM.  I certainly paid for my Sunday antics.  Though walking around was ok, my legs were quite sore running.  They were certainly completely trashed from my 22 miler.  By the end of the run, some of the soreness had faded.

PM Run: 9.2 miles total.  7xhill repeats ~0.4 miles long with an easy jog down the hill.  This is the second time I've visited the Wyman Park Drive hill that goes up the east side of Druid Hill Park.  On my 2 mile run over there, my legs were crying.  The first couple of repeats felt terrible.  But, by the 3rd, things started looking up, and by the last one, and the two mile run back, my legs felt great.  Made a very strong finish, and feel refreshed overall.

Despite how I felt today, it is still much better than I felt with less mileage earlier in the year.  Progress!

Just got to remember to take it a day at a time...  I'm certain that Mondays will become double easy days in my next training cycle.  Workouts the day after a long run are tough, and expose me a bit too much to over training.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

2010 Bachman Valley Half Marathon Race Report from 9/26/2010

I'm going back in time a bit to post a race report of what was my strongest race of the year.

This was a small low key half marathon held in Westminster, MD put on by the Westminster Road Runners Club (WRRC).  There was a field of ~190 runners.  Temperatures at the start were in the 50s, overcast skies, with a bit of rain at the start.

The course has not changed much over the years from what they say, it is a two loop, very hilly course through quiet farm country.  Scenery is largely woods, open fields, and crops.  The peacefulness was actually a welcome break from my usual urban Baltimore setting.

I went into the race attempting a PR.  My previous half marathon, a 1:18:52 was done on a completely flat course.  The odds were certainly stacked against me.  As soon as the race started, the eventual winner put distance on us all.  He would end up winning by a good 3-4 minutes.  As we ran down the first road (all downhill), two packs developed.  The first was made up of 4 people, the second of 4 other people.  I was caught in the middle and decided to drop back to the second group.  The first contained a runner that I knew was faster than me, so I went conservative.

Mile 1: 6:01.

To this point I still didn't really have a pacing plan.  The first mile felt surprisingly easy, but I still wanted to remain conservative since I had no idea what to expect concerning hills later in the course.  The first pack started pulling away, with one runner dropping back to our group.  The 5 of us then stuck together for the next two miles.

Mile 2: 6:33
Mile 3: 6:20

One of the runners in our pack was a fellow Baltimore Road Runners Club member.  He runs similar times to me, and seems to get impatient if early paces are slow.  I knew he would break up the group, though I guessed it would be closer to mile 5.  Instead, at about 3.5 he decided to plow ahead.  I let this same person go in a 20 mile race weeks ago and regretted it; so this time I followed him.

Mile 4: 6:21

We started putting distance on the pack we left behind.  The course continued to roll up and down.  To this point, there had been very little flat running.  Everything was either up or down.  I took the lead on my temporary ally, and by Mile 5 had passed him.

Mile 5: 5:51

Around here the course went off to a very rocky dirt road.  I noticed one of the runners in the faster lead pack had started falling off the pace.  The remaining two were still quite far ahead, but sensing weakness, I decided to try and catch the fading runner.  I was running 5th at that point, so anyone I could pick off would be great.

Mile 6: 6:04
Mile 7: 5:42

Despite a tough hill on Mile 7, I finally managed to catch and pass the 4th place runner.  We exchanged "good jobs" and I went to reevaluate my situation.  To this point, I was on a torrid pace that I wasn't sure if I could maintain.  I still felt ok, but was a bit worried about blowing up.  I looked ahead and saw the 2nd and 3rd place runners side by side.  They had a large amount of distance on me.

It came to decision time.  I could hold my current spot, back off a bit, and PR for sure.  There would be no chance of blowing up, and I would still get a good time.  The alternative was to drop the hammer and spend every ounce of energy I had in an effort to catch those two runners.  I chose the latter.

Mile 8: 5:40

At this point, the course looped back to the start for the beginning of the second (and shorter) loop.  I had about 1/2 mile of downhill to try and close the gap on the runners ahead.  Just as I thought I'd have a shot at catching them, the pair broke apart, and one of the guys started putting distance on the other.  I immediately thought 2nd place was gone, that the best I could hope for was 3rd.  Regardless, I pushed on.  Before Mile 9, I caught up to the 3rd place runner.  He tried to match my pace, but not for long.  I eventually dropped him and realized I still had a shot at 2nd.

Mile 9: 5:50

I actually thought to myself "it's a good thing the half marathon is a long race, because it is taking forever to catch this guy!"  I had basically spent the last 4 miles chasing down this runner, a person I thought I never had a shot at beating.  Unfortunately, I was really, really feeling it at this point.  I had been running harder than I intended for most of the race, and had very little left in the tank.

Despite my failing legs, I refused to give in, I was just too close to catching runner #2.  I stopped thinking about how much distance was left and just worried about catching that runner.  Finally, by mile 10, mercifully I caught up.  I decided to run alongside him for at least a few minutes to compose myself.  I felt relieved that he sounded as awful as I felt.  As we continued to run, I realized he was struggling to keep the pace I was dictating.  Without thinking, I passed him and started throwing everything I had left into the race.

The only way I was coming out of this race in 2nd was with a good lead.  The runner I just passed is one of the toughest you can find in this area, and I had no interest in a foot race at the finish.

Mile 10: 5:54

Along the next mile was a nearly 90 degree turn up a very sharp hill.  It was rather short, but really killed momentum.  It at least gave me a chance to cheat a bit and look behind.  I found my foe a good 15 seconds behind me.  Despite the lead, I kept imagining getting caught and passed before the end, and knew I could not give in to the searing pain and exhaustion.

Mile 11: 5:59

I was now completely alone, with the leader well out of sight and I couldn't hear anyone behind me.  I was completely exhausted and knew I wouldn't hold on for much longer.  I actually said out loud "This has to end...NOW!!"  I had to pour it on and finish before I collapsed and had to be scraped off the road.

Mile 12: 5:43

Despite the split, it felt like it took an eternity.

Mile 13: 5:37

I had absolutely nothing left at this point.  I was delirious enough to still think I could get passed by the 3rd place runner, even though he was almost 40 seconds behind at this point.  I ran into the finish chute and crossed the line with my eyes closed in 1:18:07, knowing I left everything out there.

At this point my thoughts went something like this..."holy's over.......holy crap....I just passed 3 people...holy crap did I just beat that guy??....."

So I achieved a new PR of 1:18:07 on a very challenging course.  Once I started to catch my breath and recover, I realized my legs weren't completely trashed.  I was certainly sore and tired, but not as bad as it could have been.  It certainly took a few days for my body to get back to something resembling "normal" but it didn't really affect my week.

I can now say I know how to race a half marathon hard.  Next time, I'll try and go out a little faster, those mid-6's clearly were too slow.

Sunday, 10/10/10 22 miles @ 6:46 Pace

Today was a great day for a run.  On the schedule: 22 miles starting around 8:00/mile and accelerating to marathon pace (~6:45) after about the half way point.  My car's digital thermometer read 49 degrees at 9AM when I started on the NCR Trail, my absolute favorite place for long runs.  I didn't feel 100% beforehand, just a little "off" mentally.  However, the name of the game all year has been to get it done no matter what; "no excuses and nothing held back" as they say.

This was actually my first solo long run in about 4 weeks.  I only did 13 the week before to be fresh for a race, an easy 20 before that, Reach the Beach the week before that, and finally, a 22 miler the week before.  That probably explained my lack of sleep Saturday night; I had not done a long progression run in quite a while!

Splits: 7:55, 7:23, 7:14, 7:07, 7:07, 7:02, 6:49, 6:48, 6:31, 6:30, 6:33, 6:27, 6:30, 6:32, 6:33, 6:29, 6:35, 6:34, 6:35, 6:30, 6:32, 6:30.

My stomach felt "off" for most of the run.  I drank all the water I wanted, but only consumed about half the sports beans (carbs/electrolytes) that I usually do.  I really didn't want to hit 6:30s by mile 9, but once I got down there I couldn't get myself to downshift.  I call it the runaway train effect, and I have no idea what causes it or why I just can't slow down!

By about Mile 13 I was feeling rather terrible.  It wasn't really my legs, or the pace.  I had some cramping but it wasn't a big deal, and I wasn't really tired either.  It just generally sucked to keep running.  Nonetheless, I continued going and despite feeling progressively worse, I stayed on 6:30 pace like a metronome.  For a good 5 mile stretch during the worst part I did a really good job at dissociating from the pain.  It was a really strange feeling.  It was as if my mind just disconnected from my body and my legs kept churning at the same pace.  I don't listen to music while running, so I usually end up with interesting mental states during these runs.

Despite the struggles, I still felt awesome after it ended.  My legs are not nearly as sore as I was expecting, though we'll have to see how the delayed onset soreness goes tomorrow.  This will be a good run to look back on the next time I struggle in a race.  It is days like these that define a runner.

Weekly Mileage: 77

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday, 10/9/2010: 12.5 Miles, A bit too exciting

6:15 AM welcomed yet another great morning for running, mid 50s, no wind, sunny (at least once the sun came up).  As has become customary, I met up with and ran with Back on My Feet Baltimore.  For most people, this was their last long run before the Baltimore Running Festival.  I'm slightly envious of those who are tapering, especially since I'm in the middle of peaking right now!

I was scheduled to do 13 today at easy-moderate pace.  The prescribed route was a 10 miler to which I was going to add 3 more.  After a few wrong turns and a port-a-potty stop the route ended up being 12.5 miles.  The first half was moderate pace, while the second was a little faster.  I guess I had to make up for stopping.

Regardless of what pace I ran, I'm feeling great, in large part thanks to this awesome weather.  Should be good to go for 22 miles tomorrow.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday, 10/8/2010: 12 Total Miles, Great day

AM: 3 Miles easy pace.  High 50s, felt good.

PM: 9 Miles moderate pace after a long day at work.  Ran through Canton, Patterson Park, Inner Harbor, and Federal Hill Park.  Felt extremely strong for the entire run, especially towards the end.

Runs of this nature are never timed, I just run whatever pace feels right.  I'm guessing for most of that 9 mile run I was sub-7 minute pace, especially over the last few miles.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday, 10/7/2010

5 mile run, moderate pace.  Low 70s, sunny, good day to run.  No pain, felt a bit weak for the first 3ish miles, but felt strong over the last 2.  It takes a while to warm up marathon legs which is why I like races that are at least 10 kilometers in length.

It looks like I've recovered from my Sunday 15K race just in time for a 22 mile progression run this weekend.

In other news, only 11 days until registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon opens.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Current PRs

I have completed a total of 77 races since 7/5/2007.  I've run races on the track, roads, and trails.  Distances have varied from 400m all the way up to Marathons.  To date, I have completed 8 marathons.

A PR (personal record) is defined as the fastest I have run a given distance assuming I've run it at least twice.  I don't believe in the "automatic" PR for the first time at a distance.  Additionally, splits part of longer races don't count.  I've run 1 hour 10 mile splits in two half marathons, but my 10 Mile PR is still not 1 hour.  I'm also only listing what I consider relevant or common race distances:

1 Mile : 4:56  (8/11/2010), BRRC Summer Track Meet #3
5K: 16:53  (3/14/2010) 2010 St. Patrick's Day Shamrock 5K (Baltimore, MD)
10K:  38:45 (11/1/2009) 2009 Rockville 10K (Shamefully, I have not run a 10K since)
15K: 54:12 (10/3/2010) 2010 Falls Road 15K
10 Mile: 63:17 (6/19/2010) 2010 Baltimore 10 Miler
Half Marathon: 1:18:07 (9/26/2010) 2010 Bachman Valley Half Marathon (Westminster, MD)
Marathon: 3:09:12 (11/14/2009) 2009 Richmond Marathon

My old and rusted 10K PR is officially on notice.  I will be racing the Rockville 10K again this year, first Sunday of November.  I plan on completely crushing that outdated (and what I now consider slow) PR.

Wednesday 10/6/2010

AM Run: 4 miles, recovery pace.  Low 50s, light rain.  The restorative powers of a day off and sleep never, ever cease to amaze me.  I felt quite strong with no shin or upper thigh problems.  Though my legs are not "fresh," they feel strong.  When looking at my previous training cycle (Jan-May), I was hanging on by a thread running 60-70 miles a week at my peak.  Now, I feel just slightly less than 100% with similar mileage.

PM: 10.5 miles total.  1.5 mile warm up, ~7.5 miles @ tempo pace, 1.5 miles cool down.  Lately, I've been doing tempo runs around the lake in Druid Hill Park.  The Lake loop is approximately 1.5 miles.  It's probably closer to 1.47 depending on the line you take around it, but I'm not a stickler for hundredths of a mile.  I started at dusk, with 60 degree weather, light winds, and an overcast sky (just so I could watch PTI first...).

My 5 tempo loop splits: 8:36; 8:20; 8:13; 8:14; 8:34.  41:56 overall.

I felt quite strong until the last lap, some fatigue understandably set in.  Overall, it was a strong workout.  My left leg seems to have tightened up afterwards (yet again), but I did not feel it running, and it still feels better this week than last time.

 The name of the game when peaking is pain management; ignore most of it, but acknowledge its presence.  All that pain and soreness is the best feedback mechanism I have when deciding what paces to run, and whether I'm overtraining.  That is why I very, very rarely take anything to dull pain.  I'll debate for days even before taking Ibuprofen.  I would rather know exactly how my body is handling my training load.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday 04OCT10 and Tuesday 05OCT10

First two days of posts....

Monday 10/4, a double day.

AM Run: 3 miles at recovery pace, 5:30AM with BOMF.  Weather was decent for running, low 50s with moderate rain.  My legs felt ok, though I felt somewhat tired in general.  Not completely unexpected after running a tough 15K race the day before.  My left leg which has been giving me trouble since last week barely hurt above "background noise" so I will continue to push through it.

PM Run: 8 Miles total: 7x800m with 2:30 rest (1 lap jog with a few seconds left over), 2 miles warm up, 1 mile cool down. ~5:30PM at Dundalk HS Track.

Splits: 2:33. 2:33, 2:35, 2:32, 2:34, 2:32, 2:36.

Weather was identical to the morning, low 50s with light rain.  The track was wet but traction was good.  I actually got there at about 4:30, but slept for 45 minutes in my car.  I felt substantially better after that!  For most of the workout, my shins hurt a bit and I felt sluggish, but clearly, it did not affect the splits.  My last 800m workout yielded very similar results which I thought were a direct result of having an exceptional day.  Achieving the same result with more repeats, on an "average" rather than "amazing" day proves that I have cut nearly 10 seconds off the splits in this workout.  I was doing the same type of workout earlier in the year at about 2:42-2:46 pace.

My left upper thigh tightened a bit afterward, but it feels substantially better than last week, and no where near as bad is it did when it first sprung up in late May/early June.  With a much higher volume and significantly less pain, the problem is healing, just slowly.

Tuesday 10/5

Customary rest day of "2010 Part II."  It took some time to get used to a Tuesday rather than Friday off day, but rest is rest, that's for sure!  The general tiredness I felt Monday is gone, and though my legs are not 100% (they never will be in this peak month of October), they continue to recover from the weekend.

The beginning

Those who get to know me quickly realize that I spend a lot of my free time running.  There are very few non-runners that truly understand why I run as much as I do.  Most runners "get it" but a lot of them think I'm crazy.  My goal is wonderfully simple, to find out the limits of my potential.  To that end, I have dedicated myself mind, body, and spirit to being an amateur runner.  It requires unwavering dedication and a love for the sport that goes deeper and stronger than any professional athlete.  I do this for fun, yet it costs hard earned money, hurts a lot, and gives no glory other than times, places in local races, and various interesting but ultimately symbolic awards.

I keep quite a detailed Excel file that tracks my daily mileage and cumulative miles over various time periods.  It allows me to see trends in weekly, monthly, seasonal, and yearly mileage.  It also contains results and splits for the many, many races I have run.  However, it is seriously lacking in many areas.

Numbers, miles, and times are only half of a runner's story.  The other half comprises specific details of workouts, how he felt during those workouts, what the weather was like, and what he was thinking about..  Despite my best efforts to keep a handwritten training log, it has not worked out.  So this is my attempt at keeping a more detailed online log.  My hope is that the digital environment (and some eager followers!) will make me more likely to keep it up to date.  How I feel over time and at various mileage loads is just as important as times and splits in deciding future training schedules.  Keeping this training log is an important evolutionary step forward.

So beginning with week 170, 10/4/2010, runs # 924 and 925, this training log will keep track of all data beyond the data.  Stay tuned for more information on how I got here, where I'm going, what my goals are, and just why I choose to run as much as I do.  Maybe I'll make this blog layout a bit more presentable too...  And in case you were wondering, yes I am that much of a running nerd/geek that I know how many times I've run since my 2nd running life started on July 5th, 2007.