Monday, December 26, 2011

Another week...more miles

This week was still quite chill.  In the beginning of the week, I was rather sore from the 5 miler/long run from the previous weekend, but I'm feeling pretty good now.  My left leg seems to have finally stopped bothering me; I stumbled on a new stretch for my lower back that seems to be doing the trick.

-PM: 6 miles, moderate pace

-Commute to work, 20 mile ride afterwards, 27 total.

-AM: 4 miles
-PM: 7 miles

-Commute to and from work, 15 miles total thanks to some detours (always appreciate it CSX...)
-PM: 6 miles

-AM: 3 miles
-PM: 6.2 miles

-AM: 6.2 miles
-PM: 30 mile bike ride

-13.1 miles

Miles run: 51
Miles Biked: 50
Miles Commuted by Bike: 22

At long last, it is time to return to track work.  I'm not sure what kind of running I'll be doing, but I know I want to get in around 6-8 miles total.  I'll have to spend the rest of this week coming up with a plan for workouts through April. The scaffolding is in place including weekly mileage totals, long run lengths, bike mileage, and days for workouts.  It is just a matter of the details of each day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Wrap Up

FDA regulations require that drug manufacturers perform a year end review of each of their commercial products, detailing all kinds of process attributes.  This is mainly to ensure that their manufacturing processes are in a state of control.  What the hell does this have to do with running?  Nothing, but I figured I could apply this on the job experience to my running life.  So here it is, a short synopsis of my 2011 with all its ups and downs.

Miles run: 318.75
Races Completed: 3
   -Resolution Run 5K: 16:47
   -Frozen Fingers (not so 5) 5 Miler: 31:44
   -BRRC GPS 8 Miler: 47:21
   -Notes: After only breaking 17 in one 5K in 2010 and feeling "stuck," I finally broke through on a slow, hilly course.  An easy December seemed to be just what I needed.  Over 300 miles that early in the year would turn out to be a mistake.

Miles Run: 330.05
Races Completed: 3
   -Superbowl 5K: 16:52
   -Annapolis Striders Valentines Day 5K: 16:45
   -RRCA 10 Mile Challenge: 56:54
   -Notes: I was on fire in February.  This marked three consecutive 5Ks under 17 minutes.  I also finished second in every single one of them (the first two I lost to the same runner).  The Valentines Day race was a race to remember as it came down to three of us.  I took the lead with less than half a mile to go, only to get out gunned in the last 0.1 mile.  Exciting stuff.  The RRCA race was like a dream come true as I got some payback on runners who had beat me in the past, shattered my old 10 mile mark on the course, and finished 14th in one of the more competitive races around.  Trouble was brewing though as pain in my lower left leg was getting progressively worse throughout the month.

Miles Run: 114.8
Races Completed: 2
   -B&A Trail Half Marathon: 1:16:12
   -Shamrock 5K: 16:27
   -Notes: What had most likely started as a stress reaction of my lower left tibia had become a full blown stress fracture basically 2 days before the B&A Half.  I still ran 22 miles the day before that race, and ran the half marathon of my life.  I forced myself to not limp while running and was beginning to realize something was horribly, horribly wrong.  I finally had the mind to stop running after the half, but still opted to run in the Shamrock 5K regardless of the risk.  After the third consecutive race of my life, I had to stop.  It took 3 days before I could walk after that race without pain and finally saw a doctor, who after administering an MRI revealed that I had a rather significant stress fracture.  He said I was probably pretty close to a full blown fracture.

AprilMiles Run: 4
Races Completed: 0
  -Notes: And so it was that I missed my chance to run the Boston Marathon.  I spent time at the gym and decided I would rather blow my brains out than use an elliptical, stationary bike, or do aqua jogging so I started cycling instead.  I picked up a cheap, heavy ass hybrid and basically froze to death on numerous occasions as I had no idea what I was doing or what to wear.  Eventually things started to work out better.  A friend introduced me to clipless pedals and eventually road bikes.  Once I was finally cleared to run again, I wiped out on my bike a week later and busted the hell out of my hip and knee, requiring another 2 weeks of recovery.  By May though, things were looking up.

Miles Run: 104.1
Races Completed: 1
  -Fiesta 5K: 16:52
  -Not bad for taking off as much time as I did.  To still be able to break 17 after all that time off was a huge boost.  It took a while to get used to running again believe it or not.  Though I was cleared to run, the doctor did tell me to be careful and there were a few times here and there that I backed off when I felt pain.  I made sure to be extra careful and skipped some races and training opportunities.

Miles Run: 144.5
Miles Biked: 318
Races Completed: 4
   -North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon Relay: (short 10K):  34:00?
   -BRRC Summer Track Series: 2 Miles: 10:20
   -Baltimore 10 Miler: 1:04:23
   -Westchester Medical Center Duathlon: 2 mile run, 15 mile bike, 2 mile run: 1st in age group, 10th overall
   -Notes:  All I remember from that marathon relay is that we switched up our order, sent the fastest guy out first (me), and I buried the field.  Our plan didn't quite work as we still ended up third, by I apparently put fear into other teams, and for the first time in a while, felt strong.  The 2 miler was awesome.  The 10 miler was a disaster, mostly because I was a goddamn idiot.  If I ran smarter I could have broke 60:00.  I instead went for broke and tried to run the pace I could hold in February preinjury.  Not smart!  I bought my road bike in early June and took it for its first race (and my first duathlon) at the end of the month and did rather well.  I was way too conservative on the first run, but that certainly never happened again.

Miles Run: 262.25
Miles Biked: 373
Races Completed: 4
  -Independence Day Duathlon: 2nd Overall, 1.6 mile run, 12 mile bike, 1.6 mile run
  -20in24 Gold Relay (3x8.4 miles over a 24 hour period):
  -BRRC Meet of Miles: 4:49
  -EC5K (or 3.5 miler or something): 17:45
  -Notes: I crushed my previous mile PR of 4:56 and finally got back to where I thought I should be at 20 in 24.  I was part of a team of 5 runners who had to each do an 8.4 mile loop relay style 3 times each.  I ran in the middle of the afternoon, a bit before midnight, and than early morning.  Our team had no shot of winning anything, but I set out to see if I could match the faster runners out there.  I ended up murdering that course, going sub 50 in the hot as hell afternoon, which was one of the faster times on the day.  It would have been good enough for 2nd and 1st in their two cash races (each only 1 loop).  I then repeated with another loop in the mid 50s at about 10:30 at night.  I was so fired up at how well I ran.  By the time the third loop rolled around, a few of my teammates had struggled, causing my time to wait around that much longer.  I mailed in the last loop in 56 and change, which was about as well as I had ran at this race last year.  I knew I was back.  I also joined Adventures for the Cure, a cycling team in the area to start riding with them to try and get my cycling skills on par with my running.

Miles Run: 276.9
Miles Biked: 507
Races Completed: 4
  -Du the 2 Duathlon: 2 mile run, 26 mile bike, 4 mile run...freaking hilly. 1st in age group, 12th overall
  -BRRC Summer Track Series 5K: 16:24
  -Lums Pond Duathlon turned 10K mud run: 34:19 (a bit short)
  -BRRC Too Hot to Trot 10K: 33:56 (also short)

  -Notes: Du the 2 was a great experience despite horrendous humidity and a near crash on the bike.  I'm really looking forward to competing in that race again this year.  They are going to have an elite wave, and it looks like my time from last year will qualify me.  I can't wait to be in better shape on the bike.  That track 5K was me firing on all cylinders.  I just went on that track, ran the most even race I've ever run, and crossed the line feeling way too good for having just done a 5K; especially one outside my comfort zone at nearly 7pm.  It is rather unfortunate I did not run another 5K when I was in that shape.  I did a lot of speed work over the summer, and it really showed in that race.  August was also the month I finally joined the much fabled "Tuesday Night Track" workouts at Gilman High School put on by "Team That's What She Said."  I was glad that I finally decided to show my face (I already knew all about this group for a while).  If you are a fast runner in the Baltimore area, you run with this group.  They pretty much have a monopoly on the fast people, and it made everything easier for me because I FINALLY had people to run with who were at my pace and faster.  I ended up outrunning all my other running buddies and needed new ones...

Miles Run: 289.8
Miles Biked: 456
Races Completed: 4
   -Charm City Run 20 Miler: 2:02:01
   -R U Able Duathlon: 5K run, 14 mile bike, 5K run...1st Overall, won it on the last run
   -Philly Distance Run (Half Marathon): 1:14:44
   -Naylors Beach Duathlon: 2 mile run, 26 mile bike, 6.2 mile run...2nd Overall

   -Notes: September was my month.  In hindsight, I peaked way too early, but such is the way of things.  The highlight of my entire year was that Half Marathon.  By age grade, 79.8% it is my best race of all time.  I crushed my previous half marathon PR in February which I ran injured, which had crushed my PR from the time before that.  In the 20 Miler, I went out too fast, held on anyway, and won my first cash prize for coming in 2nd on a 100% humidity day.  I destroyed the 5K runs on the RU Able Du, completing both in sub-18 fashion.  On the entire day, between relays and the actual 5K race, only 1 person ran faster than me (a relay runner).  No one else was even close.  At Naylor's beach, I kicked ass on the bike (at least for me) and had my best performance by USAT rankings of the year.  That race is a big reason why my rank is so high right now.  This was all while I was banging out 20 and 22 mile runs to get ready for a marathon.  Unfortunately, I overreached a bit both physically and mentally.

Miles Run: 263.9
Miles Biked: 181
Races Completed: 3
   -New Hampshire Half Marathon: 1:18:43, 2nd overall
   -Half Full Triathlon Relay: 1:20:35 (half marathon on cruise control), 1st overall relay team
   -Cape Henlopen Duathlon, 2 mile run, 11.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile run, 2nd overall
  -Notes: Something happened to me in this month.  I believe a combination of too many bike miles, too many running miles, too many races, and my new found laziness for stretching conspired against me.  I ended up with what was at times debilitating stiffness and pain in my left quad and groin.  There was the occasional day when I could barely walk.  I eventually figured out heat was the trick and kept heat on my leg at all times.  By late October, I had it under control.  On the racing front, I was still doing well but started to feel stretched thin.  On a whim I decided to do a race in NH 2 days before it was to start.  This was thanks to a friend who called me out by name on Facebook saying there was cash on the line and a weak field last year.  She was actually surprised when I decided to do it (that's what you get for calling me out on Facebook).  A bunch of other guys had the same idea.  It was also raining and hilly as crap.  If I was actually prepared, I could have won, but instead cruised into 2nd, pocketed $100 (minus the $45 race entry, free lodging, and air fare credit), and was pretty happy.  The very next day I cruised through a half marathon as part of a triathlon relay.  We were 5th going into the run, but thanks to my leg that was 20 minutes faster than any other team, I passed all 4 teams in the last 3 miles and gave us victory.  Cape Henlopen ended up being my last duathlon of the year, and also showed I am better built for longer races.  I just don't have the makeup for short bike legs.  It was a bit exciting as I had to outrace someone that caught ME in the 2nd running leg.

Miles Run: 218.4
Miles Biked: 13.5
Races Completed: 2
    -Rockville 10K: 34:27
    -NCR Trail Marathon: 3:01:57

   -Notes: In an effort to get myself fresh and ready to go marathoning, I hung up the bike for November.  My slight misfire in mileage (I should have gone over 300) and my mental and physical fatigue was really started to add up and take its toll, though I tried to ignore it.  The rockville 10k was ok, I PR'ed big.  I certainly went out a little too fast, but my legs just felt dead the whole way.  I also seemed to dread runs more often than not.  I started the Philadelphia Marathon, my alleged goal race, but dropped out at mile 13 after feeling like a train wreak as soon as the gun went off.  I had not felt right in the days leading up to the race, but I had run through worse.  I was pretty pissed with myself, especially considering I was essentially running a PR pace.  I signed up for the NCR Trail marathon which was to be 2 weeks later in an attempt to salvage my marathon season.  The weekend between still didn't really feel that great and my long run that weekend was not as successful as I had hoped.  Once the race rolled around, I felt substantially better and at least ran well for the first half of the race.  Some combination of going out too fast, and just complete mental fatigue did me in and I fell apart quickly in the second half.

Miles: ongoing
Races Completed: 2
   -Jingle Bell 5K: 16:45
   -Celtic Solstice 5 Miler: 27:01

 -Notes: December is ongoing of course.  I took a few days off after NCR, just biking to and from work a few times.  The 5K felt a bit better than my November races, but I was still kind of flat.  I took another very easy week, and finally one more in the days leading up to the 5 Miler.  With a renewed sense of physical and mental strength, I went out and raced my ass off, tying for 8th overall (I was 7th, but one of our guys got added to the results, which is fine with me since he is one of our's!), and blowing away my previous best on an easier course by over a minute.  I felt strong again. 

Now, we have arrived at my currrent week.  I opted for one last week without workouts, just more running, and more cycling.  Both are building slowly.  I was pretty sore for part of this week, but it is getting better.  Though whatever I did to my left leg in October has subsided significantly, it has not gone away.  In an attempt to fix it for good, I've been stretching, and trying to strengthen my core as that perhaps could be a cause (especially with the bike miles).

So there it is, 2011 at a glance.  I'm actually happy with the year.  There is really no "what if" for me.  Everything happened the way it did.  I learned a lot and still got faster in the process.  With 2012 coming up, I now have limits in place to try and keep myself fresh.  I found that I can push myself too much, but thankfully, it takes a significant amount of mileage and racing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012 Races, January-June

Normally, Tuesday nights would mean track work at Gilman, but not today after opting for one more week of mental and perhaps some physical recovery.  My Saturday race/Sunday long run left my legs rather trashed Monday.  Though we did a decently paced 6 miler that felt good aerobically, my legs and particularly my right hip were none too pleased with me.  Since I've had nothing but left leg problems for a while, it was nice to have the other leg hurt for a change.  After 27 total miles of bike riding today though, I feel much, much better.

So instead of running fast in a workout, I'll dream of running fast in races to come!  As I have eluded to earlier, I am rewriting my entire approach to running.  This includes training, racing, and volunteering.  Everything is being turned upside down in an attempt to maximize my chances of getting faster.  I can see that it will be exponentially harder to get to the next level, but if I did it once in 2010, I can do it again this time around.  I just won't be expecting anymore 10 minute half marathon PRs (if only it were that easy)!

So, from the racing perspective, I will be committing to significantly fewer races.  Not only that, but all races have been carefully selected and planned such that:

a) they fit into my training schedule and I can actually ease off the week of the race (except for one 5k)
b) as much as possible, they are spread out, and there are never more than 2 in a month (I can go back-to-back if one race is a 5k)
c) where possible, I will only run in races that have a high probability of strong competition

To that end, there are a lot of races I have done historically that I will not make an appearance at.  I won't run nearly as many BRRC races this year as the competition just isn't there (including their GPS series).  Though I may be available to cheer for Back on My Feet runners at their occasional race, more often than not, I will not be doing races that they go to.

Ultimately, I'm throwing my name into races to race.  Obviously, not every race will be an "A" level goal race, but I intend for each one to be a real effort.  By limiting it, hopefully I won't burn out mentally and physically as I seem to have done at the end of the fall season this year.  I can also focus more on training too.

With that, here is the list.  I have yet to sign up for any duathlons, as I'm waiting to see if the powers that be will grant me a professional license.  If they don't, I'll take a good shot at qualifying at my first duathlon of the year.

1/1/2012- Resolution Run 5K, Patterson Park, Baltimore

1/7/2012- BRRC Frozen Fingers 5 Miler, Lake Montebello, Baltimore

2/5/2012- Chilly Willy Duathlon, 5K run 10 mile bike 5K run, St. Petersburg, FL

~2/25/2012- 10 Mile Club Challenge, Howard County, MD (get some!!!)

3/11/2012 - Shamrock 5K, Baltimore, MD
3/17/2012- National Half Marathon Washington DC


4/16/2012-Boston Marathon
4/28/2012- USAT Duathlon Age Group National Championships, 5k run, 35k bike, 5k run Tuscon, AZ

5/12/2012- Cascade Lake Duathlon, 1.86 mile run, 15 mile bike, 3.1 mile run Hampstead, MD

6/3/2012- Blackwater Duathlon, 10K run, 70K bike, 10K run, Cambridge, MD
6/16/2012-Baltimore 10 Miler (possibly as a pacer, undecided)

2012 is right around the corner!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

No Rush To Get Back

My calendar listed this upcoming week as optional to return to the track for speed/tempo.  However, I think the results of my 5 miler yesterday have shown that taking another week easy isn't going to kill anything.  In fact, this easy December seems to have done more good than the most grueling speedwork I could think of.  Since I could care less about being in shape in January when there are no races of consequence, delaying one more week to just get miles in won't hurt.  Now for this week...

Mon: PM: 6 miles, long day at work prevented me from joining my usual Monday afternoon crowd.
Commuted to and from work by bike, 6.75 miles each way
PM: 6 miles, another long day at work

AM: 4 miles

AM: commuted to work
PM: rode what ended up being about 20 miles on the bike before it got too dark and I had to bail by hopping on the light rail.  This little experiment has given me a great route to take from my office in Dundalk to either the Falls Road light rail station or if there is enough daylight, the Lutherville Station.  Bikes are allowed on the Light Rail and I live 2 blocks from one of the stations.  This lets me take a route that once clear of downtown, doesn't have too many places where I have to stop for traffic lights.  It beats the trainer at any rate, at least until it starts snowing.

AM: 4 miles

  5 miler with some warmup and cool down, 7.5 miles total

13 miles at ~7 minute pace with a group of 8 people.  It was hilly, but substantially more interesting with company.


Run: 40.5 miles
Bike (training): 20 miles
Bike (commuting): 20.25 miles

Low to mid 40s on foot is up for this week, and still just one bike ride in the 25-30 mile range.  No more delaying after this week though!  By the week of the 26th, I'll be back in the full swing of things and have at least one weekly workout.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Celtic Solstice 5 Miler...Lived up to Expectations

This race may very well have erased any and all disappointment I've had lately with my failed marathon attempts.  It was certainly a way to end off the year on a high note.  Now, I've got to tell this story while it's still fresh, because it is epic.

The 5 mile race started right around 8:30AM.  There was no wind, temperatures were right around 40 degrees, and it was nearly an overcast.  Overall, great weather for a late December race.  I went into this race with no thoughts whatsoever as to what pace I was going to run, or what time I was shooting for.  My plan was basically just to show up and run hard.  However, now that I run with a lot of the fast guys that show up to these races, it was really easy to key off of everyone around me to settle into a pace that made sense.  I just made sure to go out a tad bit slower than usual though, since this course was mostly uphill for the first half, and mostly downhill for the second.

As it turns out, I apparently hit the pacing nearly perfectly.  As the race started, a rather large group of maybe 15-20 people went out hard.  I just stayed right where I needed to be as we went up, and up, and up.  The dust started to settle rather quickly and the field thinned out to look more like I expected.  I was roughly 10th or 11th at this point, and close enough to have a front seat for the battle for 1/2/3 (a race I am not fast enough to be a part of).  We passed the 1 mile mark in what was allegedly 5:09, but it was definitely short.  Our actual 1 mile split was closer to 5:35, based on the omnipresent "Garmin beep" a little bit after that mile marker.

I felt like I was surrounded by Howard County Striders, with about 3 of them in my vicinity.  There were other runners too that I run with relatively regularly now, perhaps allies amongst the sea of pain.  After we passed mile 1 and went up around and down the Mansion House Loop, the individual races for particular places were starting to materialize.

A few guys that were ahead pulled away for good, a few guys further back dropped back.  That left essentially me and 3 other runners to battle it out the rest of the way for 7th-11th.  We continued uphill again, made a turnaround, and started back down towards the finish, nearly 3 miles into the race.  I never bothered to take any split times, just glances at my watch and the overall time elapsed.

I had realized that the time didn't really matter at that point.  This one was all about racing the guys next to me.  It was clear that no one wanted to give in and we were going to have to run each other to death to sort this mess out.  The course continued forward, made a sharp right, and dumped us off onto the loop around the lake in Druid Hill Park.  The loop is about 1.5 miles, but it felt like it was 50 miles.

I had been neck and neck with a Strider pretty much since the turnaround.  Every time I went even with him, he pulled just a step ahead of me.  Again, and again.  I was content to hang tight, but he kept trying to shake me.  Eventually, by mile 4, another Strider whom I passed earlier came barreling forward like a train.  He sounded like he was ready to collapse, but his stride suggested otherwise.

That was the push I needed as we left the other Strider in the dust.  This new guy also continuously tried to put distance on me.  I never let him get more than two strides ahead, though it was starting to hurt a lot to do so.  I knew the last half mile was downhill, and I was pretty satisfied to hang tight and just wait for the right moment.  It can be hard to explain when I "know" it's time to go, but I knew it wasn't quite yet.

We left the lake and made the final turn off for the ~0.3-0.4 mile downhill to the finish.  I heard someone behind me urge me on, a runner whom I've done a couple of Monday afternoon "not-so-7-minute-paced" runs with.  The Strider with me was also starting to put a gap on me, and I could feel my tank running nearly on empty.

It was time.  If I waited just a second or two longer, the gap would have become too much.  I turned it on and used the downhill to just open up whatever I had left.  The Strider never stood a chance as we screamed down the hill.  My ally caught up with me, and continued to urge me forward, making sure I didn't slack off on the flat right before the finish.

We crossed side-by-side in 27:01.  I then proceeded to dry heave 3 or 4 times and nearly puke my brains out.  I managed to hold it in, and certainly couldn't have asked for a better performance out of myself!

I ended up 7th/8th overall and 3rd in my age group.  I got a little Christmas Tree ornament for my efforts, which I think is probably the hardest earned award I've received in a while.  My time was 1 minute and 16 seconds faster than last year and good for a 5:24 pace.

I felt really really fresh for the first time in about 2 months, and am really feeling ready to implement my new plan and get going on a strong 2012.  I also heard my choice of attire, bright neon yellow singlet, and socks, black shorts and gloves with neon yellow accents, and completely off color orange and blue shoes was completely obnoxious.  It definitely is, but it is also awesome!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Leap of Faith

I always thought that was a cool phrase.  This is partially because it's a really awesome aspect of the video game series Assassin's Creed.  But, before I start sounding too much like a nerd, let's get back to running.

Tomorrow I'll be racing the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler, a nice challenging race held in my backyard (Druid Hill Park).  It generally brings out strong runners, a huge crowd, and promises to be a challenging course.  I have not done a single workout save my 5K from two weeks ago, just runs.  I'm merely doing this race to evaluate where I'm at as my mileage starts to come back and I reappear at workouts!

The 5 miler has been a big deal for me the last two years.  In 2009, the race was put on anyway despite blizzard conditions.  However, it was that night that I decided to dedicate myself fully to running.  Up to that point, I was a decent runner, able to generally place in or near my age group.  But, it wasn't good enough, I wanted more; I wanted to be the guy who could show up to a 5K and win, that random runner who could just outrun the field.  So I took a leap of faith so to speak and completely revamped my training.  I jumped into a new realm without really knowing what to expect, but trusting I could come out stronger.  I started running more miles 60-80 per week than my typical 30-50 and started running doubles on as many days I could.  It largely worked, as evidence by my breakout half marathon (1:19, 10 minute PR) and 5k (16:53, 35 second PR) early in 2010.  I continued pounding away and crushed my marathon time, 3:10 to 2:44.  So a leap into the unknown, higher mileage, paid off.

It all started that weekend, particularly that Sunday after the race when I was just fed up with only being average, and not dedicating myself as much as I knew I could, in spite of work and everything else.  Of course, now that I am that guy that can win a 5K, I don't really do it all that often, because it is not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.  Give me a bunch of faster guys, an 11th place finish and a 16:25 over destroying the field by 40 seconds and eeking out a 16:43.

Anyway, in 2010, I surprised myself by running really well at the race and jump started my continued rise (which eventually resulted in a crash and burn).  After four consecutive 5Ks in 2011 all under 17, I had finally gone under for good after having only gone sub 17 once in 2010.  I blew away my previous best 10 mile time on the Club Challenge course (around 8 minutes) and knocked more time off my half marathon and 5k.  Then of course I got injured.  But once again, the 5 Miler kicked off a very successful few months.

So here I stand yet again, the day before the 5 Miler, ready to move on to a 2012 full of hopes and dreams.  I'm taking yet another leap of faith, changing my approach to running in such a way as to help promote success.  I'm racing less, training more, making sure not to miss  runs or flip around my schedule, running with people that are at my pace and faster, and reducing the amount of time I volunteer to give myself more time to train. 

Though I have loved the nearly 2 years of dedication I have given to Back on My Feet Baltimore, it has become time for me to move in another direction.  For better or worse, the growing disparity in running ability, and the dedication required for me to continue to improve have made me realize I do not have the time for both.  Instead of giving my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, it is only going to be Fridays, giving me two precious mornings back to get mileage in at my pace.  It was a decision I had to make myself, since no one in the chapter could relate to my situation.  Ultimately, if I can't bring myself to run any pace between 7-10 minutes per mile on any given morning, than I need to take a step back and let people who can make that commitment step forward.  Once I started pushing people just to get an easy run in, it was time to re-evaulate what I was doing.

This plan is intended to breed success, by making it easier for me to get all my runs in, get more sleep, keep training on the bike without negatively impacting my running, and with fewer races, I should stay more mentally and physically fresh to really make them count.

Now all I have to do is run the 5 Miler and then start looking forward to the next journey that lies before me and hopefully, takes me to Boston!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Just Chillin'

Just as last week I thought to myself "Wow, life is really easy when I don't have to run everyday," this week I was thinking "Wow, life is really easy on low mileage and no workouts."  Although, I'm already starting to get bored and can feel the "need" to train returning.  This is all good.

The week, a quiet one for sure:

Monday AM: 4 miles, easy
               PM: 6 miles, easy/moderate-ish

Tuesday: PM: 5 Miles
                Commuted to and from work by bike.  I got a flat, and apparently, screwed up my rear brake and/or put my rear wheel out of true.  It was strange since I never remember hitting anything, I just noticed that all of a sudden, I had a rear flat.  Regardless, I got rid of the junk tires my CAAD8 came with and replaced them with much more reliable ones, got the brake readjusted, and swapped out the stock wheels for another pair (only slightly less crappy) I had sitting around.  No more flats...hopefully!  6.75 miles each way.

Wednesday AM: 4 miles, easy

Thursday PM: 5 miles, easy

Friday: Rest

Saturday: AM: 5 miles, easy
                 PM: 25 mile ride on my SuperSix.  The first half of this ride was pure torture.  I wanted to just throw myself into oncoming traffic.  It was barely 40 degrees and windy as all hell.  My plan was an out and back on whatever roads I felt like riding on in Howard County.  After about 5 or 6 miles straight into a stiff wind, I turned off onto the first road I could find just to change up my direction.  I only felt moderately better.  It was hard to breathe for some reason and I still felt like crap.  After hitting my turn around point, I shed my outer layer of clothing and immediately felt 100% better.  The ride back to my car was a bit more fun and overall, it wasn't too bad for my first real training ride back.

Sunday:  10 miles, easy/moderate pace.  This felt pretty decent.  It was in the low 30s but no wind, so pretty good temperatures to run.  Though, there is something about my left leg/back and my bike(s) that is not agreeing.  It seems like my lower back is getting tight and its pulling on my quad.  Stretching seems to keep it at bay.  According to the wonderful internet causes can include bike fit and weak core, amongst other things.  I also know for a fact that my left leg is weaker than my right, I can actually tell that it has less muscle on it.  It may be time to incorporate some targeted weight training, but I'm still undecided about my approach to that.  Working on core should be pretty easy though, I've got some old tricks in that department that I'll finally stick to if it means more comfort on the bike.

As far as bike fit goes, my two bikes have different seat heights and different saddles (one just a bit more padded than the other).  It seems my CAAD8 (more padded, just a tad lower seat height) is giving me less trouble than my SuperSix, but only a real ride on the CAAD8, not commuting, will tell for sure.  After my next legit ride, if my leg and back feel better on the CAAD8, I'll have to match the seat heights and possibly get a slightly more cushioned saddle.  The physical geometry of the bikes otherwise are identical, which is why I have this particular pair.

Miles run: 39
Mikes biked: 25
Miles commuted by bike: 13.5

Up for this week, cracking 40 miles of running, still keeping it to one bike training ride, and no running workouts.  I do have the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler coming up this Saturday.  With an imminent course change from last year, matching my time may prove difficult, but I'll have to see what happens!  It will mostly be a race to see how I stack up against some of the strong runners in the area as it usually draws a good crowd.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jingle Bells, Redskins, Jets, and More Training!

The grand totals for this week:

Running: 7.5 miles
Cycling: 27 miles

This was comprised of a 3 mile run on Friday, a 5K race on Saturday (with some warming up) and two commutes to work by bike.  First, getting rid of my hybrid bike and picking up a Cannondale CAAD8, the entry level version of my good road bike was an awesome idea.  After riding so much in road bike geometry, I could not go back to an upright position.  It just felt wrong.

Second, I feel both mentally and physically refreshed.  That 5K was my only hard run of the week, and I mostly did it because two of my college friends who have never really been runners had decided to do it.  Now between the two of them, they have done a total of four 5Ks.  It's awesome that they got into running, and I certainly wanted to encourage it, even if it meant running a 5K race 1 week after a marathon.

It took place around Centennial Lake in Howard County, and was a "jingle bell" themed race to raise money for arthritis.  I chose not to wear jingle bells, mostly because the ringing is incredibly annoying.  I guess that makes me a Grinch, but whatever.  The actual race was pretty uneventful; I wasn't expecting a whole lot of competition and didn't get much.  A group of 5 people went out ahead of me, but within 0.25 miles it was down to one other runner.  For a fleeting moment I thought he would stick around but by 0.75 miles it was just me, the lead bike, and no more jingle bells.  The ringing was overwhelmingly annoying when I was around the others.

The first mile was mostly downhill and I came through the first split a bit too fast...5:12.

The rest of the course was rolling with many, many turns as the path snaked around the lake.  There was even some ice and mud around, though the bike ahead of me always pointed out the hazards in advance (which was awesome!).

I came back down to Earth for mile 2...5:27

As I started to feel myself fade with less than a mile to go, I upped my effort to try and stay on pace.  For the most part it worked and I didn't really fade.

Mile 3...5:32

Final time...16:43

It was hairy near the finish as I caught up to the bulk of the walking pack, but thanks to that bicycle, he got everyone to stay to the right.  I nearly caught up as he had to slow down while all I did was kick it up as much as I could.

Not the best 5K I've ever run, but considering it was just an off season race, I'll take it.  After some more running, I should get that back into the 16:20s so I can take a legit shot at knocking more time off my PR.

Thanks to the lack of running Sunday, I managed to go to my first live NFL game, and saw my Jets beat the Redskins after a few hours of tailgating.  It was nice to be able to just dedicate the entire day to that without having to worry about getting a run in and (most likely) getting up at an ungodly hour to get my mileage in.  Actually having the energy to sit through a football game fully focused was really nice.  I'm usually battling falling asleep Sunday afternoons watching football after getting a long run in!

Though its been nice to kick back and actually have more free time than I could ever want, it will get old quick, and I'm itching to get back to it.  So that NFL game was certainly a good way to send off my relax week with a bang.  But now, it's time to get back to business.

This coming week will actually involve 6 days of running, though less than 50 miles total and 1 legit bike ride plus two commutes.  No hard workouts, just easy/moderate running and cycling.  Most of December will continue to be quiet, just not as quiet as this past week.

I've got one more race scheduled for December, the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler, a race I finished in the top 10 last year but never actually got an official result.  Damned if that happens again...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Feeling Refreshed

It's amazing what a few days off can do.  I needed a slight break if anything, more mentally than physically.  My legs feel fine right now.  In fact, I've become so full of energy that I could barely stand it anymore and had to do something, so I commuted by bike today.  It was substantially more enjoyable on a road bike than the hybrid I used to commute with.  Now if only some of the winter gear I ordered would come in so I don't have to freeze my feet and hands off...

Anyway, that amounts to 12 miles of biking over two ~6 mile rides, not Earth shattering of course, but it didn't make me tired either.  The name of the game is still rest, with no runs tomorrow or Friday.  I'll commute by bike tomorrow though.  Saturday, I am entered in a Jingle All the Way 5K.  I signed up because of two college friends who have very recently gotten into running.  One guy has already run a couple of 5ks and for the other, it will be his first.  It's cool to see some of my non running friends to pick it up!

Being that this will be my first run back, I won't exactly have expectations, but I'm still going to run hard because well, its only a 5K.  It should be a good evaluation of where I'm at.  Following that, I'll actually start running again next week, but easy to moderate miles only, no workouts.

After a relatively quiet December, things will slowly pick up in January, but in an effort to avoid peaking early, I'm delaying my ramp up ever so slightly so I can time it better with the next goal race..Boston (attempt #3 to run it!).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I am Content to Move Forward: NCR Trail Marathon Race Report

When you go all in for a race, sometimes it works out and you run an awesome race (1 minute and 20 second half marathon PR) and other times, you are taught rather harshly that there are risks.  After signing up for the NCR Trail Marathon less than 24 hours before the start, I already knew I was going all in.

I kept my goal the same, which essentially, was to try for a 2:38 on even splits.  In hindsight, I probably should have changed that to "just PR."  Of course, then I would be sitting here regretting holding back!

I couldn't have asked for a better day, high 30s/low 40s at the start, very light winds, partly cloudy skies.  Not only did I run this race last year, but I train on the NCR Trail all the time.  The race is put on by the Baltimore Road Runners Club, and I was actually originally a volunteer (someone took my spot), and there were a few local runners doing the race who run around the pace I do.

As soon as the gun went off at the forgiving hour of 9AM (meaning I got to sleep in, and wake up in my own bed), I knew this day was going to be better.  The first 1.5 miles are on roads, rolling hills, mostly down.  I purposely didn't warm up in an effort to go out more controlled.  It worked...

Mile 1: 6:03

I also felt 1000x better than I did last week.  There was a pack of about 5 or 6 of us but eventually, it thinned out to 3; myself, a guy named Keith, and another guy with a Charm City Run singlet.  Mr. CCR took an early lead as Keith and I stuck together and went through mile 2 a bit slow...


Of course, I got impatient.  What I should have done was stay put right where I was and just ease into a quicker pace.  But, I was feeling great and didn't want to fall off pace early.  So I pushed forward ahead of Keith in an effort to catch Mr. CCR, but mainly, to stay on 6's.

Mile 3: 6:09
Mile 4: 5:36 (really?)  I doubt it...
Mile 5: 6:08

Somewhere around mile 4 or 5 I caught and passed the CCR runner.  We ran side by side for a bit, but he didn't stick around, and I was more interested in keeping it at low 6s.  So now I was leading the freaking race, which was kind of shocking.  I even had a lead cyclist (in fact I know him) to yell at people to get out of my way.

The next few miles could only be described as awesome.  I felt invincible and a local runner was leading the local marathon.

Mile 7: 5:59
Mile 8: 6:03
Mile 9: 6:00
Mile 10: 6:09

By about Mile 10, the thought crept into my mind that maybe I had gone out too hard and made a bad judgement on what I was capable of doing.  I tried to keep the thoughts out of mind and just kept pushing forward.  I was drinking water at each stop, and diligently eating my stingers, so hydration-wise, everything was golden.

Mile 11: 6:12
Mile 12: 6:15
Mile 13: 6:29

Notice a pattern?  I started falling off the pace rather dramatically.  It was as if all of a sudden, my energy was sapped.  By the half way point, Keith and CCR caught back up to me.  Our half split was sub-1:20.  We made the turnaround at 13.5 and that's when things began to deteriorate even more quickly.

I lost contact with those two runners, got passed at least one more time, and slowly started to feel more and more tired:

Mile 14: 6:14
Mile 15: 6:38
Mile 16: 6:44

If this were a 20 mile race, I could have gutted out the last 4 miles, but with 10.2 more miles to go, my thoughts went negative in a hurry.  I started doubting myself, doubting the pace I tried to maintain, and actually wondered numerous times how I managed a 6:07 pace in 100% September humidity in a 20 mile race on this same trail.

Those are very, very bad thoughts to have in a marathon.  The downward spiral of despair continued...

Mile 17: 7:04
Mile 18: 7:32

I was completely toast at this point.  For some reason, it took FOREVER for anyone to catch me, but eventually the flood gates opened and I started bleeding positions and time like crazy.  I finally, shamefully, had to walk at Mile 19...


To say I was unhappy would be an understatement.  I already told myself I was finishing the damn race, no way I was going to DNF again.  This was it, I was going to take whatever the final result was and just live with it.  I actually ran mile 20...


But then walked again for part of 21...


Oh yea...12 minute mile....

At this point I was pretty fed up with myself.  Even breaking 3 was looking to be unlikely if I couldn't get myself running.  My legs were ok, though starting and stopping was actually making it worse because they kept tightening more each time I started up again.  I was just completely exhausted.

Mile 22: 8:09

I remember saying to myself "wow even 8 minute miles suck, what the hell is wrong with me."  I guess I finally got tired of feeling sorry for myself and decided to down any stingers I had left with me and just run the rest in without stopping (at least that's what I told myself).  I started walking again and started eating.  Just as I was nearly finished eating, I heard familiar footsteps behind me...

I've been dropping first names because it's easier to tell the story, and you can just look up the results and figure out who I'm talking about anyway.  My rule is, I name drop if I actually know the person..

Anyway, another local runner by the name of Jackie caught up to me.  She had just run the Philly Marathon last week in a 3:07-ish and was running the second half of the two person marathon relay.  We've done some running together in the past.  Without asking what was wrong, she yelled at me to follow her in.  My first thoughts were "hell no."  She looked back as she passed and asked again...

I didn't have much time to think, I was either going to have to turn it back on now, or keep wallowing in my own self-pity.  So at what was probably my last chance, I started running again and tracked her down just in time.  We were running sub-7 pace, and it was not very comfortable...

Mile 23: 7:51 (with some walking before I was beckoned to run again).

I'm not really sure who was pulling who along, but one thing was certain, I wasn't going to drop back now.  We hit mile 24 in 6:50 and then turned off the trail back to the roads.  3 hills, and a dusty road stood in our way.

Mile 25: 6:43

25 included a nice little hill, but we powered over that and kept going.  Mile 26 would prove quite tough, but I didn't stop and knew I would at least be able to finish with some dignity.

Mile 26: 7:38?  I think it was a bit long, we didn't slow very much

Final time: 3:01:57.  Jackie crossed one second behind me.

Up front, Keith ended up second with a 2:41.  The win went to a runner from New York who came from behind to break 2:40 and run a 2:39.  From what Keith told me, he was dropping some fast miles after passing me, but this other dude just passed him like he was standing still.  Apparently Mr. New York opted for the negative split strategy while I opted for all out from the beginning.

Was this the result I wanted?  Of course not...

Am I disappointed?  Not as much as I thought.  Once I finished, I was still content.  I had given it my all, ended up going out too hard, and paid for it.

Had this race been earlier in the fall, or if I had had a slightly better October/November perhaps I could have held that pace.  I'm thinking 6:10s-6:15s would have been perfect for this race.  That would have meant a PR, but not sub-2:40.  The marathon seems to require rather precise pacing.  About 10 seconds per mile too fast will burn you out in a hurry.

Ultimately, it's time to close this chapter of training and move on.  I've got solid ideas for the next few months and will get that all down on paper soon.  In the meantime I'm taking a few days off because I think I need a mental break at this point.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Here We Go Again!

The funny thing about running/cycling/training/racing is if you want to keep getting better, you can never be satisfied.  As soon as you become satisfied, there is no longer any motivation to go out there for yet another training cycle.  So, we always keep moving towards an unattainable state where we are as fast as we wish to be.

Despite having an overall successful year in which the positives significantly outweighed the negatives, I could not just sit by looking at this PR:

Full Marathon: 2:44:53 (11/10)

Everything else has an 11 in the year.  I figured I'd rather try again and potentially crash and burn, than to never try at all and sit back wondering, and wondering until I ran my next marathon.  Well, life is too short, the peak of your athletic life is even shorter, and I hate wondering what if!

So, after running a hilly (much hillier than the part of Philly I did) 9.5 miles at 6:00/mile pace or better, and feeling strong instead of like death, I've decided to sign up for the NCR Trail Marathon, last minute at packet pick up tomorrow.  This course holds my current PR, and the NCR trail is where I do a lot of my long runs.  I'm familiar with it, I consider it my home course, and it's in my comfort zone.  The weather looks to be awesome, and I feel good again.  The plan will remain the same as it was for Philly.  I also know two other local runners who will be running around the same pace as me, so we should be able to help each other out.  The three of us comprised most of the lead pack at the 20 miler on this same trail back in September.  A bit of deja vu will be in the air...

By dropping out on Sunday, I at least left open the possibility of trying again since I didn't spend my all out marathon effort.  In fact, my legs never felt like I ran a race since 10-12 miles at marathon pace is certainly not a drop dead effort.  Though this time, no matter what happens, this will be my final attempt at actually completing a marathon as a racer this year.  After this, I will start focusing on what is to come in the future.

I'm still somewhat stuffed up in my nose/head/ears, but it is dissipating, and it didn't affect my run today.  My sore throat went away as of yesterday, and that general feeling of awfulness is gone.  I've run with head colds and such before, so I'm really not concerned.  It was that feeling of awfulness that I wanted gone.  I'm a pro with snot rockets anyway...

It's rare to get a second chance as good as this.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The answer to question 2?

It has become rather apparent that I am sick with something.  After an easy 3 today, I felt surprisingly bad during and after the run.  Tonight, my throat feels somewhat scratchy.

I'll take a day off and see how Wednesday goes.

I may yet actually have another chance to run a marathon this weekend, but only if I'm healthy.  The race, the NCR Trail marathon (not really a "trail"), is home to my current PR and takes place this Saturday.  Online registration is closed, but they are still taking walkups at packet pickup on Friday.  Pretty much everyone I know is telling me I should do it.

If, by Friday I feel better, and by better I mean I'm able to run without feeling like a train wreck, then I'll take a second shot.

I feel like I've been stuck in a loop of bad luck since October...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What happened?

If I (or you) could answer that question, it would make me feel a lot better...

The bottom line, I ended up dropping out of the race just short of mile 13.  I'm not really sure what happened to me between Thursday night and Sunday morning, but things went downhill in a hurry.  I crushed my Thursday afternoon run and thought I was all ready to go.

Friday rolled around and I may not have felt quite as good, but only now in hindsight do I realize it was a sign of things to come.  By Friday night I felt what could only be described as "off."  I didn't feel sick, but something in the back of my mind kept saying something was wrong.

Saturday morning rolled around and I got in an easy 7.  It felt harder than it should have, and I didn't have nearly the appetite I expected the whole day.  I figured it was just nerves, but once again, something still felt "off."  On my way up to Philly (around 2pm), I felt really, really tired most of the way up.  I didn't think much of it, because driving makes me tired, but even after a nap, I still felt kind of crappy.

In the expo, I continued to feel worse, and finally by the time I sat down for dinner with a few friends, started to worry about how bad I felt.  I had what I considered a rather light breakfast and lunch, but yet still wasn't all that hungry come dinnertime.  I ate what I could, then eventually settled down to sleep.  I was extremely tired for having only run 7 miles a little bit after waking up.

Race morning rolls around, and for the most part, I thought I would be ok.  I didn't feel nearly as crappy as I did Saturday night, and figured I'd be good to go.  After a very short warmup and some stretching, I found my way to the front of corral 2 10 minutes before the start.

After a minor delay, they sent off the wheel chair division, then had corral 1 and eventually corral 2 move up to the start.  I was real close to the front, just where I wanted to be.  The gun went off and we started...

I immediately felt off, but wasn't too alarmed.  In general, I've been known to take a few miles to settle in, and feelings of strength/weakness come and go, especially in long races.  So I just sat back and waited, expecting to eventually feel better.

Mile 1: 5:48

A bit fast, but aerobically, it felt alright.  I pretty much felt like shit at this point and was sweating an awful lot considering it wasn't even 50 degrees.  There was a breeze that would come and go, and it made me feel even more uncomfortable.  But no matter, I kept going...

Mile 2: 6:02
Mile 3: 6:02

My pacing started to fall in line.  I sort of had people to run with, but everyone seemed really antsy and would either pick it up or drop back instead of maintaining a pack.  My  name was printed on my bib (which I don't remember asking for), so I got a lot of cheers.  It actually started to get annoying in a hurry...

I was doing my best to get water down, but I didn't even think of reaching for my stingers for fear I would get sick.  I was already boarderline feeling sick as it was.

Mile 4; 6:08
Mile 5: 6:01
Mile 6: 6:07
Mile 7: 5:59

These miles were mostly flat, and I knew a slightly hilly section was coming up.  I continued to feel worse.  I never really got excessively sick, but I felt somewhat light headed, knew I must have looked pale and still felt really, really off.  I've had some rough marathon paced runs before, but this was getting ridiculous.

Mile 8: 6:13
Mile 9: 6:15
Mile 10: 6:18

These next 3 miles were somewhat hilly, a bit more than I expected.  I gave back some time, but it wasn't just the hills working against me.  It was getting really hard to focus on anything but how shitty I felt.  By now, 10 miles into a run, I had to start feeling better, but yet nothing was improving.  My 10 mile split was 1:00:51; I should have been at a 1:00:20 for a 1:19 half, so I was still in the ball park.

As we hit a steep downhill, my abdomen right along my large intestine started cramping, pretty badly.  It started to dissipate by mile 11, but I already had it at that point.  I couldn't possibly fathom running anymore and I wasn't having anything resembling the least bit of fun.  The course at this point was looping back to the start so I knew if I was going to drop, it would have to be now.  If I decided to go on and really got myself into trouble, I'd be out in the middle of Philly with no way to get back to the start.

As I approached the start area, part of me wanted to go on.  But my split times were telling me that anything resembling a race was over.  I was also getting passed like crazy...

Mile 11: 6:23
Mile 12: 6:57

I decided not to go across the half marathon finish line, but opted to continue on the marathon course to try and find my parents, who had all my stuff.  I knew within a few minutes of stopping I would need warmer clothes than the shorts and singlet I was wearing.

Somewhere before Mile 13, I had it and ducked off the course at a gap in the barriers where there weren't many people around.  Thankfully, my parents were actually nearby and walked over.

Even with my sweats on (which was enough to keep me warm prerace), I was freezing.  We drove back to our hotel, and I slept the whole way in the car.  I slept more in the hotel, and was still really cold.

After I should have finished, I woke up and ate something, feeling just a little better.  I finally ended up driving back to Baltimore, only to get tired again on the way down and sleep more.  I probably slept for a good 1.5 to 2 hours total after what was essentially a 13 mile run.

As I write this now, I'm kind of hungry, and finally not tired.

The questions that remain after today:

-->Why did this happen?

-->What do I do now?

I don't know that I will be able to come up with an answer for the first one.  As for the second one, I'll post about that tomorrow.  But at this point, I'm leaning towards cutting my loses, focusing on what I accomplished this year (major mile, 5K, 10k, 10 mile, and half marathon PRs), and just getting ready for the next one.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Philly Plan

At long last...too long I've arrived at the final moments before stepping up to the start line of a marathon with intent to run my heart out!

I've felt really good this week and have been keeping it mostly easy just to get as fresh as possible.  Wednesday was an easy 4, today was a mostly easy 7, though I did let it fly a little; it can be hard to hold back now.

But, enough of training talk, its time for some race talk.  I don't generally over think racing since at its core, the concept is an easy and simple one.  Therefore, my plans going into races are easy, simple, and just vague enough that I can adjust to ever changing variables.

As of now the forecast is calling for around 41 degrees at the start, a 6 degree drop from earlier.  It will probably change again, but the bottom line is, 40s.  That is more than warm enough for my new singlet, and shorts which are now battle tested through a 14 mile run, more than enough to find out about any issues.  I'm leaning towards taking gloves to wear the whole race, especially after my hands froze solid last year.  Even if it breaks 50, I'd rather have toasty hands than cold ones.

I'm done with sports beans and am switching to stingers.  They go down easier and aren't subject to choking or freezing.  Of course, I may still get sick on them, but that remains to be seen since I can't keep anything down.  I'll take one bag with me and try and at least get through it by the 13-16 mile point.

I'm starting in corral 2, having missed the cut off for corral 1 by about 4 minutes.  The time I want to run is most likely the pace those guys in the back of 1 will be running, so I'm putting myself at the very, very front of corral 2.  I started a bit too far back in R&R Philly in September and won't make that mistake again.

The course falls into my general category of "time trial" and not "strategic."  Therefore, I have no special pace strategy, just pedal to the floor the entire time.  There are some bumps, but nothing I would call a hill.  My goal for the first half of the race is a 1:19.  That works out to roughly a 6:02 pace.  I'll be shooting for 6's, just because its an even number.  More specifically, between 5:55-6:05.  5:50-6:10 is fine too, it won't make me freak out, though I want to avoid approaching 5:50.  5:49 and under is the danger zone, I won't last at that pace so any splits like that will force me to back off.

After that 1:19ish, it will just be a matter of holding on.  I'm fully confident that getting to the half in 1:19 will be straightforward.  For me, its miles 16-22 that will determine the race.  All my marathons have either been made or broken over those miles.  That is where I'll need to focus and if I'm still alive after mile 22, I'll throw down everything I have left to hold on.

With a 1:19, I can still come through in nearly a 1:21 second half and break 2:40.  Upwards of a 1:25 would still give me a PR.  I have no plans to slow; I'm going for my A goal of a 2:38.  This year has had its ups and downs, but all that is behind me and somehow, I've arrived in fall marathon season in damn good shape.  I don't intend to waste it.

I'm certainly very thankful to be getting to this line healthy, but that isn't going to make me conservative, it's time to give this race hell.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 days...

Last week went pretty well overall.  Any and all remnants of my upper left thigh pain are now completely gone.  My left knee has been a bit weird the last two days, but I think that is just pre-race fake pain.  I'm actually pretty excited, relatively confident, and still very mindful of the task that is off in the distance.

My week from last Monday..

AM: 4 miles, easy

AM: 7 miles, easy
PM: 8.5 miles with 9x800 meters at 2:38-2:40 pace with one 2:32 thrown in there.  ~80 seconds rest between most, 1 lap rest every 4th.  I was actually doing this with a group of runners doing a 3 x 3200meter at a pace a bit too fast for me so close to a goal race (and probably too fast normally), so I jumped on the wagon for an 800, rested for one of their laps, then jumped back on.  It was a great workout and I felt really strong.  It was good to get some shorter stuff in for a change of pace.

 AM: 4 miles, easy
 PM: 7 miles, easy


AM: 9 miles total, with a few miles in the 6:40 range...joined a couple people who were doing a tempo paced workout on the track, just offering my company as I have the past few weeks.  Felt very relaxed.

AM: 4 miles easy
PM...was going to run, but had a few beers with a coworker who moved on to another job.  It's taper time anyway, so I didn't mind.

8 miles, marathon pace.  Every mile was between 5:57-6:05 with one quick one at 5:52.  I was surprised by how shitty 3 beers made me feel.  Talk about being a light weight...  Regardless, after 3 or 4 miles, I started to feel better and by the end, it really didn't feel like I even ran.  So my pacing is down pat now.  I can do it in snow, rain, on tight muscles, and with what was apparently a slight hangover.


14 miles total...

2 miles warm up, 2 miles at 5:30 pace, 4 miles easy, 2 miles at some kind of fast pace, 1 mile easy, 1 mile fast, 2 miles cool down.

My watch died in the middle of this workout.  I knew I needed a new battery but was hoping I could get one more workout in!  Not quite though, as it went dead after my 2 @ 5:30 pace.  I felt like absolute crap during the second pickup, which is why I threw in the 1 mile easy.  I think I just ended up running it way too hard without the watch to guide me.  I can guess quick paces on a track pretty well, but on a trail with mile markers, it's a lot tougher.  I still got the run in though, so that's all that matters.

Mileage: 66.5.

I've concluded that I can run mid 60 mile weeks forever.  It seems to be my sustainable sweet spot, though just a tad short of true peak training.

So far in this week...


AM: 4 miles, easy
PM: 6 miles, quick


6.5 miles, with 4x400 meter around 75-80 pace

Things are looking good.  All that's left now is the race.  I'll make one more post regarding my plan (it's real simple), then it will be time to finally get to the start line of a marathon race healthy!!  Being that I was 4 minutes short of being a seeded runner, I have to settle for corral 2 at Philly, but I'll be at the very front of said corral.

5 days...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Runner Rankings?

I was rather shocked to discover that I made the Washington Running Report rankings for the 2011 Summer Season.  It has been a goal of mine for most of the year to get ranked, but I kept coming up just a hair short, having races fall in different seasons, or doing ones out of the acceptable area.

In a nutshell, you have to hit a time standard in two races to even be eligible to be ranked, than you rank is determined by a variety of factors to give you an idea of how you stack up versus the area.  It probably isn't perfect, but it makes for a good competitive goal to shoot for.  It clearly encourages competition and participation in DC-VA-MD races, so it doesn't hurt to strive to be ranked!

Out of 54 open division males, I was ranked 50th.  One of the races they used to rank me may have been a bit short, so I consider myself really just barely getting in.

Hopefully by next year I'll be more solidly entrenched!  No age graded results above 80% yet, just a 79.4%.  One of these days...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 Rockville 10K: Ponytails, Englishmen, and Hills

Today's 10K race ended up being a rather exciting one.  I went in with hopes of winning and breaking 34 minutes, but would of course settle for a PR and a top 5 finish.  Little did I know what I was getting into...

This race starts at the King Farm Village Center in Rockville, MD basically right in the middle of a preplanned cookie cutter development where everything looks the same.  I never want to live somewhere like that...  Temperatures at the start of the race were in the low 40s and there was little wind, making for a perfect morning.

This was my first race trying out some new racing gear I bought, namely a Brooks singlet and the shortest pair of shorts they sell.  I opted for gloves as well, but was lightly dressed.  The clothing worked out awesome as I knew it would because everything I have ever purchased from the Brooks brand has been perfect.  The shorts with the split up the side never got in the way of my stride, and the shirt just sat on my upper body without impeding me at all.  I can see why people race in stuff like this, even if it may make you look ridiculous in a "normal" setting.

The race started at 8:30AM with a rather narrow timing mat and an immediate right turn about 5 seconds into the race.  I got a good jump off the start and darted out first to hit the turn without getting stuck in traffic.  I had only seen one other runner that I knew, a rival of sorts, but no one else looked to be a threat.

As I settled in behind the lead bicycle and motorcycle, I could hear footsteps and realized immediately I would not be leading wire-to-wire.  I really didn't expect to, and races like that are boring anyway.  A runner pulled alongside me whom I have never seen before, but he looked legit so I fell in stride with him.  We went over the first hill, made a U-turn, and started coming back down going through Mile 1 in:


I noticed my foe didn't look at his watch or the digital clock next to the mile marker.  I though that was odd; not everyone always takes splits, but most people at least glance at the clock, especially early.  No matter, we continued on and this guy really started pushing the pace.  I kept matching stride with him, so there was a lot of back and forth and some incidental elbows (I swear incidental!) as we tried to stick to the tangents on the many curves of the course.

We hit mile 2 a little faster, but I was still happy with the overall pace


The second mile was mostly rolling, but I knew the bigger hill in this course was coming up soon.  I also sensed weakness in my foe and remembering this was the spot last year that I took off and blew away the field, I kicked it up just a little bit.  It was harder to drop this guy than I thought, but eventually I pulled away.

The lead cyclist was enjoying the race, he would always hang back to tell us of upcoming turns (as he did last year) and said at least a couple of times "who's going to break away?"  As I approached mile 3, I once again heard footsteps behind me, but they were different.  I was shocked to see it was the local runner I had recognized at the start line.  We both run similar times, but I've had his number lately.  I had assumed this would be a two horse race and that he was out of the picture.  Man was I wrong...

I crossed mile 3 in 5:18.  At that point, I was a bit worried that I had just run a bit too hard, especially considering we were now going up hill, and I have seriously neglected hill training as of late.  The other local runner passed me and that's when I realized I had played right into his hands.  My 3 mile race with the mystery runner who didn't look at his watch ran both of us into the ground.  This other guy who held back the whole time just watched it play out and cruised past us when the moment was right.  He keeps his hair in a ponytail, hence the title of my race report.

I couldn't match him on the ~0.5 mile uphill and lost enough ground that I had to start considering defending second.  I was running scared now, realizing I may have spent too much energy early and that the two or three remaining hills were not going to be pretty.  As we made the U-turn at the top of this hill, the mystery runner was a lot closer than I had hoped, but I figured I could hold him off.

As we continued racing down on the other side of the street, mile 4 came through slow:


I picked it up a bit, trying to get back into gear and realizing I was probably losing ground to 3rd place.  It didn't help.  Eventually, I heard footsteps, then breathing, then I got passed cleanly with no answer.

We continued on a fudge factor out and back portion of the course, then continued uphill as we headed back towards the finish and the merge with the 5k race going on at  the same time.

Mile 5: 5:39

I eventually stopped losing ground and started to pull myself together, but I was running out of time to try and bridge the gap I now had.  To make matters worse, I didn't have the benefit of the police motorcycle to part the sea of slow 5K runners that were now in my way.  The hidden benefits of being the leader..

On this part of the course, there were 5K runners coming towards us, and 5K runners going in the same direction as us after having turned around, all running significantly slower than us.  Cones separated the two lanes.  Unfortunately, about 20 runners turned around just as I was getting to that area.  I was too tired to say anything to get people out of my way (I'd also probably sound like a jerk), so instead I just tunnel visioned on the mystery runner and tried to follow him.

He ended up taking the "oncoming" lane which was really smart.  Running directly at the other runners forced them to see us, and to get out of our way.  We both made it clear we weren't moving or slowing down.  We also kind of stood out with our red bibs, bright colored shoes, and general lack of clothing.

After another uphill, and a right turn, the road widened enough that we could separate ourselves from the 5K-ers.  I started closing the gap, hoping I could get to 2nd place in time, but we crossed mile 6 and there was still too much space.


We made the last hard turn to the finish and crossed, 2nd place less than 10 seconds ahead of me, and a 34:27 overall for myself.

I ran a PR at this race last year, 34:52 and blew away the field.  This year, I PR'ed again (no 10Ks in a year, shameful!), but ended up losing to first by a minute and 30 seconds, to a runner I had been doing well against this year.  It just goes to show how tough racing and running well can be!

It also turns out the mystery runner is from London, and was over here in DC for business.  He found this race and decided to throw his name in.  Wonderful...I got beat by some out of country ringer!!

Though I didn't break 34, faded a bit, didn't do well on the hills, and lost a race to two other runners, I still PR'ed and can't be too disappointed.  I think this race has shown me that the little things are starting to become more important and that I really need to plan my training a bit better if I want to consistently race well.  More on that in the future.  Starting next year, I'll be making some changes to my life in general to make my training as big a priority as I can make it.  In summary, it is going to be a "train more, race less, but make those races count" strategy.  Additionally, I'm going to better balance my volunteering/charity to the local running community.  Though I love giving back, my current running level and my hopes and dreams for the future are making it obvious that I need more time for my own training.  It also doesn't help that I went from just a slightly above average runner to a good local runner.

I had to skip my long run this weekend (which really, really sucks) because my left leg was very unhappy with the 4 hours I spent outside in the freezing cold Saturday morning directing a race (my first time).  I still got 10 in, so it could have been worse.  Overall, I'm not changing my goals for Philly.  And honestly, getting to the start healthy is more important than getting all my miles in.

I just have to avoid standing in the cold for long periods of time, because that seems to do a bigger number on my left leg than running on it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

17 days....

The fact that it has been nearly a year since I've been this close to a goal marathon probably explains my extreme impatience!  This week has been going rather well, and it would appear that so far, whatever was/is wrong with my upper left leg has nearly subsided completely.  Update so far...

Monday: 10 miles total, mostly easy with about 1.5-2 a bit faster.  My Mondays are now definitely Federal Hill Runners night.  I run the 2.25 miles from my apartment to Fed Hill, join up with some other runners, we all lie that we'll run 7 minute pace, start off slow, and then eventually someone pushes the pace.  Afterwards, I run back home, uphill.  Good times...

Tuesday: 9 miles total with 2 miles @ "tempo" pace, ~5 minutes easy, 1 mile @ "tempo" pace, ~4 minutes easy, 2 miles @ "tempo" pace.

I put that in quotes because I'm starting to see a change in my paces.  The first two miles were just under 11 minutes, 5:32, 5:28.  The lone mile was at about 5:15, and the last two was ~10:35 total.  I did most of this run with people faster than me and a few months ago, would have considered this way too fast.  It still felt just a hair too fast, but not earth shattering.  My legs felt fine afterwards and the next day.  Of course the rest was a bit soft, but it does make me think that perhaps I can start pushing just a bit higher when it comes to 2012.

Wednesday: AM: 4 miles, easy...felt great
                     PM: 8 miles, kind of tired and hungry when I started, but by about mile 3 I was in a groove, mostly easy pace

Thursday: AM: 9 miles total.  Once again, I joined a couple other runners finishing off some marathon training with mile repeats on the track.  They started at 7:20 pace and cut down to 6:40 pace with a lap recovery between.  I just had my run go by the track, joined them for some reps, and ran back to my apartment.  Mostly easy miles, with some company.

Despite cooler temperatures, my leg has been largely ok.  My back seems to have been part of the massive issue I've had and it feels loose again too.  Stretching feels really good, and I actually feel more flexible again.  It is very possible that my general lack of stretching for much of September may have played a role in whatever the hell happened to me; don't get lazy!!

I'm looking forward to the weekend.  After helping put on a cross country race Saturday morning, I'll be getting in 22 on the NCR trail, with the last 1/3rd at marathon pace or faster.  Sunday I'll race in the rockville 10K with whatever I have left, last two chances to run on tired legs.  It should help me blow off some steam too, I have a lot of pent up excitement for Nov. 20th right now.

After that, the work will be in the bag, the last two weeks will just have the occasional tougher run to remind myself that running is supposed to hurt.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crunch Time...3 Weeks and Counting

I'm starting to get that "kid on Christmas Eve" excited feeling now.  Since I got hurt about 5 or 6 weeks out from Boston, its been a while since I've been this close to a big race and I've forgotten about the giddy feeling in the weeks leading up to it!

This week was largely successful as I continue to sharpen for the goal race.  My left leg has still been troublesome, though to a lesser extent.  I only had to skip one run this week as oppose to the 2, 3, or 4 that I have been in weeks past.  It never affected any of the runs I did complete.  So as long as I keep stretching, and stay on top of it with compression, it should hold up.

The week:

Monday: AM: 4 miles, easy
                PM: 10.5 miles total, with about 3.5-4 miles at 5:40 pace or faster.  This was supposed to be an easy run, then some of the people I was running with dropped the hammer about 1/3 of the way through.  At first I held back, then my ego took over as I said something along the lines of "Man fuck this, I didn't come out here to get dropped."  Of course, by then these guys had about a half mile gap on me and had started at 5:40 pace, so I had to haul at 5K pace just to catch up, and managed to stay with them until about 3/4 of a mile to go when I ran out of gas.

In the future, I'll keep in mind that Monday afternoons may not always be easy...

Tuesday: Rest.  Got in a sports massage, which I have never done before.  I believe it did help, though it certainly wasn't some kind of magic bullet.

Wednesday:  AM: 9 miles, 5 moderate, 4 easy
                      PM: 7 miles, easy/moderate

Thursday: AM: ~9 miles total.  I ran about 4.5 miles around the city, met up with some friends who were doing 800s at 3:00 minute pace, did a few of those, and then ran back home for about 9 miles total.  Speedwork for them, marathon pace pickups for me, but we appreciated each others company on a rather dreary rainy morning.

Friday: AM: 3 miles. moderate

This was the first day my leg started bothering me.  I canned my easy afternoon run and opted just to keep compression on my leg.  It paid off because my weekend went really well.


10 miles at marathon pace:  6:38, 6:07, 5:58, 5:55, 6:00, 6:07, 5:52, 5:53, 5:46, 5:53
I'm rather happy with this run, even if the last few miles were fast.  Baltimore got hit with its first winter storm even though it was October 29th.  Despite 33 degree temperatures, a mix of snow, rain, and ice pellets, I managed to run pretty evenly.  I used the first mile as a warm up and then hit it.  The 4 were a bit fast because I was getting really cold and needed to get back to my car!  Its rough to get hit with such cold weather so abruptly.  Most importantly, after feeling like shit for the first 3 miles, I settled in really nicely and just kept knocking off the miles.

16 miles in the following format:  2 mile warm up, 2 miles at tempo pace, 6 miles easy, 4 miles at tempo pace, 2 miles easy.  I have actually never done a workout like this and wanted to give it a try.  I actually liked it.  The second tempo interval was a bit tougher with 10 miles already on my legs, even if 8 of them were easy.  I can see why people do workouts like this.  In the future, I'll experiment more with changing the length of the on/off intervals.

The first 2 mile tempo was at 5:40 pace, the second at around 5:30-5:35.  Overall, I felt strong.  I've got a 10K coming up next weekend where I both PR'ed big time and won last year (Rockville 10K) and will try to repeat both of those this year.  I'm thinking going out at 5:25-5:30 pace is not out of the question one bit.

Total Mileage:  68.5 miles...yea its not 70+ but what's more important is I still feel sharp, and my leg isn't killing me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sticking with Philly...Just a Few more Weeks!

I have ultimately decided to stick with the Philadelphia Marathon as my goal race.  It's amazing what two weekends of no racing will do to make me feel better.  My left leg continues to occasionally be troublesome; I've concluded that it is 100% muscular.  Whether something is strained, or just tightening up on me, I can keep it at bay with heat and compression.  If I stop for a couple of days, I get bad tightness in my inner left thigh.  I can also tell my left quad, hamstring, and glute tend to tighten up before my right leg on longer runs.

Hopefully a sports massage (which I have never had done before) will clear it up.  In the meantime, this was an interesting week so far....

     AM: 4 miles, easy.
     PM: 10.5 miles total, mostly easy.
     Legs were still sore from Saturday, though after each run, they felt a little better.  I had no tightness issues

     Early PM: 50 mile bike ride, relatively flat, easy pace
     Evening, Track workout (~8 miles total with w/u, c/d): 3200, 400, 2x100 stride, 800, 1600, 400.  At least I think that is what it was.  I nailed it pretty well with the 3200 at 5:30 pace and the 1600 near 5:20 pace.
    The soreness had subsided substantially by this day.  Unfortunately, the bike did not agree with me very much and left my lower back rather sore.  I don't know if it's because my legs were already tired, or if something about my riding position has changed, but I've been all of a sudden getting a lot of lower back pain lately.  For now, I'm going to stop riding the bike all together until after Philly.  With the end of the Duathlon season, I can really focus everything I've got left into the marathon.
     I could feel my left quad tighten up a bit later that night, and by Wednesday/Thursday/Friday, the pain was back.

Wednesday: 4 miles, easy
Thursday: 5.3 miles, easy
Friday: 3 miles, easy

I eventually discovered that heat/compression do the trick to clear the pain up.  Once I started doing that hardcore on Friday, I was good to go by the afternoon, but still opted to not push it any further.  The tightness gets substantially worse if I stand in the cold, as I found out Friday.  After being outside 20 minutes after my run ended, I literally could not step off the curb.  I know it wasn't just the easy runs that did the trick, because it was only getting worse until I finally applied the right mix of treatment.

Saturday: 22 miles @ 6:30AM.  I was really glad my leg cleared up, because I was looking forward to this run.  Thanks to my new connections with the faster people in Baltimore, I was set up to do a long run with someone else also looking to run around a 2:40-2:42 marathon in NYC, so we both had a similar pace.

We started at Sparks Elementary, ran 2 miles on the roads, and then hit the NCR Trail just as the sun was coming up.  We didn't skip a beat and started off at 6:45 pace.  I usually start in the 7:20s, so it was nice to get going sooner.  The miles also go by when you have more company than your own voice (no headphones for me!!).

Ultimately, my bowels conspired against me (not sure why this is happening to me more now than it used to), so I couldn't quite keep up over the last few miles, but i ended up with a 6:14 average per mile.  1 week after a marathon, with no water (by design), and no food during the run (because I'm an idiot), is damn well good enough for me.

This is just what I needed to prove to myself that I have the capability to maintain 6:07 or better for a full marathon.  Doing it after having only done a 14-15 mile run the week before, with water and food (stingers, the next attempt at finding what works) should be a hell of a lot easier!

Tomorrow will probably just be an easy 7ish miles.  The total mileage for the week will be a bit low, but with my splits, its hard to justify needing more miles.  I'll skip a 20+ mile run next week (26.2 and 22 back to back is certainly enough) then do one more the first weekend in November if my body cooperates.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

To change my goal race?

I have been presented with an interesting set of circumstances.  I have a bib for the Marine Corps Marathon in two weeks.  Originally, I was supposed to be pacing someone, but that is no longer happening.  I know I'm in peak shape now, and have already posted about how I was trying to "bridge the gap" to Philly.

Now though, I'm wondering if I should take this opportunity to just taper off now and race MCM.  During the week of the 10th, I only ran about 15 miles (all hard miles) because of my leg problem.  I did about 75 this week, but no workout, except for a slight 10 mile progression the day after Baltimore to shake my legs out.  So with a couple of easy weeks, I could easily be fresh; I do recover quickly when I give my body the opportunity.

I feel ready, maybe just slightly concerned about endurance, if only because I never really surpassed 80 miles per week or 20 miles in a long run.  However, I then wonder if a couple more long workouts are really going to make or break anything.  I've completed 11 marathons since March 2008, so I'm not new to this and I know the possible risks of racing a marathon before being ready.  But, if I'm peaked now, why draw it out?

There are a few knowledgeable runners that read this blog.  If you were in my situation, what would you do?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Baltimore Marathon...3:30 pacer, 3:29:44 overall time

This was the second year in a row that I participated in the Baltimore Marathon as a Geico Pacer.  Someday I may race the marathon; I could actually place quite well, but this is a really unique opportunity to give back.  I used pace groups when I first started marathoning, and thanks to this specific group, my third marathon was the first that I ran from start to finish in just under 3:30.  2.5 years later, I have been able to return the favor, twice.

In the future, I will try and pace a faster group, but the main advantage of going 3:30 is a quick recovery.  8 minute pace is a tad slow for long run pace, but its good to stretch out the endurance legs a bit.  Also, once you get to 3:20, 3:10, and 3:00, the groups get significantly smaller.

We had a total of 4 pacers in our group, 3 returning from last year (including me) and one new guy.  Baltimore is a pretty tricky course to pace evenly as we are supposed to, but we were never more than 8 seconds in either direction from 8 minute pace.

Through the first 8 or 9 miles we were a tad fast, about a minute faster than overall goal pace thanks to all the downhill running through the Zoo and St. Paul street.  With the flat area around Federal Hill, and the interesting run through Underarmor, we managed to dial it back to anywhere from 0-20 seconds faster than overall pace.

We essentially held that the rest of the way, through the merge with the slower half marathoners, the hills, and the nasty winds around Lake Montebello.  Our group stayed rather cohesive, though you always lose and gain people along the way.

As we began to approach the finish, mile 23, 24, 25, we encouraged people to go on ahead, though some did on their own.  As pacers, we are obligated to stay even, but heavily encourage others to push ahead if they have anything left.  We received many, many thanks from runners who charged on to smash 3:30.  Others held on for dear life sticking right behind us as we tucked in tight whenever the winds picked up to try and shield people.

Down the last stretch we had some half marathoners, and a couple of marathoners with us.  It took a bit of yelling on our parts, but we got the last of the marathoners around us to stay on pace and eventually charge ahead.

We crossed the line smooth, steady, and quite relaxed in 3:29:44, well within our allowed 59 second window, and nearly dead on.  More people thanked us as we made our way through the finish area.

Overall, it was an extremely successful and rewarding day.  We were told more than a few times along the way about how good we were at keeping pace.  Anytime we supposedly came up to a mile marker more than 10 seconds too fast, everyone assumed it was short (they probably were...).  I am the marathoner I am today thanks to a couple of pace groups that showed me what it means to hold on at the end.

Hopefully, a few other marathoners out there today learned the same lesson.

I did this last year as well, also pacing 3:30 and feel like it was much easier this year, which hopefully puts me in better shape!  My left leg tightened up on me again before the race yesterday, but I managed to get it under control before the race.  It feels pretty good now, considering I just spent over an hour more on my feet running than I usually do.  The last time I spent 3:30 running was when I paced last year.

Some more running and hopefully a bike ride are on tap for tomorrow.  I'll see how I feel before committing to an effort level.  It was certainly nice to kick back and not race this weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thinking I need to Listen to my Instinct

Being roughly 6 weeks out from the Philly Marathon, I'm pretty content all things considered.  I never thought I would so fully recover from my Spring stress fracture to the point that I've PR-ed at the 5K and half marathon distances (along with some nice track races thrown in there).  My speed and 10k-half marathon range of paces are certainly back.

This is further evidenced by the splits I've been putting down in my track work/tempo runs.  Furthermore, these workouts of late have been much tougher than what I usually do, now that I run with a group.  Add to that, the many, many races I've run in the last two months, essentially every weekend from the beginning of August to this week, with a week missed due to Hurricane Irene, and it is clear I have done a lot of hard running.

On top of that, I've put in some good bike miles, and have been running more mileage this year than I did at this point last year.  Now being so close, I feel like I won't get a whole lot more speed/tempo out of myself and I need to focus on anything lacking.  The only aspect of my running that I feel slightly uncomfortable with is my endurance.

To that end, I'm thinking of trying to focus on that more over the next few weeks, just throwing in an extra mid week semi long run (10-13 miles), and getting my easy runs consistently above 7 miles.  It almost seems backwards to base build last, but it seems to be exactly what I need.  I'll still have to do some fast running to stay sharp, but I don't know if I see a point in killing myself with many more tough workouts.

I was talking to a runner today who agreed that the last few weeks should be focused on fine tuning.  I guess I just have some slight reservations about turning the intensity down a notch since I'm used to going hard pretty often.  Of course, what usually happens is that I get in a few more hard workouts, sort of fizzle out, and then have no choice but to take it easy.  Maybe now I can avoid the fizzle and just get sharper going into these last couple of weeks.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Back Into the Swing of It? Probably

No run today, but I did go for a hard 31 mile bike ride.  It was basically an interval workout, which is rather interesting on a bike.  I've got a course that has a bunch of challenging hills and a couple of flat sections perfect for sprinting.  The entire loop is 35 miles; I've been slowly working my up from 24, adding another section on each time.

With the sun going down sooner during the week, I can't ride as far but I can certainly ride harder with the time I do have.  Once winter rolls around, I've got a rather ambitious idea to keep my riding up at least a couple of times during the week (assuming it is not icy out), but it requires another bike so it may be a pipe dream for now.

Regardless, I sprinted twice, each time for somewhere near 1.5 miles.  It's certainly a struggle to hold the harder effort, but I'm slowly inching my way further along before fading.  The first section which is truly flat, I managed to top out at 27-28mph, but slowed to about 24 by the end.  For the second section, it goes up and down ever so slightly.  On the uphill section, I topped out at 27.  With the gravity assist, I got to 32-33 mph and managed to hold upper 20s to near 30mph all the way through to the finish of that section.  This particular stretch of road has a speed limit of 35mph, so riding with the cars makes it exciting.  All of this was in drop bars, no aero position since its practice for group rides when they start again!

There are also two big hills and then a bunch of rolling hills the rest of the way.  The big one of them all, Ilchester road always does a number on me.  I certainly needed a breather at the top, but all in all, it was a successful ride.

Most importantly, my leg feels nearly 100%.  I've kept heat on it most of the day and though it is still slightly tighter than my right leg, if it could survive that ride, than it is certainly good to go.  Time for a running double tomorrow.  Rain on Wednesday will prevent me from riding unless the weather changes, so Thursday will probably be my next chance on the bike.  So, more running it is!