Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feb 28: The Colonial Half Marathon Tune-Up

Man, that course had some tough hills. They really worked my legs(in a good way). I am really looking foward to a flat Shamrock course in 3 weeks. The hilly run today was a great prep run and I am pleased with how it went.

Beth and I drove down to Williamsburg on Saturday and the drive was pleasant. I could see the snow gradually going away as we drove furthur and furthur south. It was beautiful out this weekend. 45-50 degrees and sunshine/partly cloudy. Although a tad windy, I couldn't of asked for better racing weather, given the weather we have had all winter. Beth and I enjoyed a good dinner together at a local Italian place called Sal's. Spaghetti with meatballs and a slice of cheesecake hit the spot for me. I actually had been feeling like crap the past few days. I woke up Thursday(or was it Friday?) with a cold which lingered into the weekend. I swear it was the drop in mileage I did this week(I only ran 47 miles this week when I've been consistently running 70-80mpw). But I needed a little rest, especially after last week, which I ran 2x marathon pace workouts of 16-17 miles each. That did it. So the rest was good, but I do think the body reacts when it isn't used to doing what it usually does(thus getting itself sick). I slept well last night, and after some plain bagels and juice Beth and I checked out of the hotel and headed to the race.

I was ready for a hard effort. I saw Michael Wardian. I noticed a couple Kenyans. A small race, about 1100 or so. I took a couple GUs, warmed up for 10 min, and got to the line. The gun went off. Wardian surged to the lead and I followed(technically in 2nd place for a few secs). 3 Africans also went up with Wardian. I found myself running just behind them with a few other white guys with me. 1st mile: 5:19. A tad fast, but I felt fine. A guy pulled up next to me named Jared and surged ahead on the uphill. Dammit. I just hate that. Later on, I pulled up next to him and we ran together for a bit. Mile 2: 10:44. Good pace. Jared and I ran together and saw an Ethiopian runner ahead. We eventually caught him, and I began leading the three of us. The Ethiopian and I very soon after dropped Jared, who we heard footsteps gradually dissipating. It was just the Ethiopian and I. I could see a few guys not too far ahead. At least I have someone to run with, I thought. I also thought, if I run with this guy, I'm gonna have to lose him before it's too late and he kicks by me. We were currently 6th and 7th place. The hills began coming up as we ran on the lonely but peaceful Carter's Grove Country Road. This was truly beautiful, to be running out here in the woods. I haven't been in this environment for a while, with all the damn snow we've had in DC and nowhere to run but on road or treadmill(or yaktrax). We passed 4 Miles just under 22:00 and my 5mile split was 27:20. I was on good pace to break 1:12:00, but the hills kept coming. Around mile 6 we ran up a mulch hill which felt like a cross country race, and made my legs quiver. But I was strong. I have been training well, and PRing. I am also strong on hills. I have a lower center of gravity, so hill running comes naturally to my strength(though honestly I much prefer a flat marathon). 7 miles was 38:33(5:30 pace). The Ethiopian still stuck with me. As we looped back the way we came, we saw the other half marathoners running in the oppostie direction, cheering us on. I love when other runners cheer for me. I don't usually have the energy to cheer for them which makes me feel bad but somehow they get it. Mile 8 split was 44min low and Mile 9 was 49:45 or something. As we approached Mile 10, we started to climb some tough hills. One hill. Then a downhill. Another hill. I surged. The Ethiopian lost some ground. He tried to get it back on the flat. Another hill. I surged again. I attacked. He couldn't hang. I had gapped him, finally! I was starting to pull away. I hit Mile 10 in around 55:15 or something like that. The last 5K I was all alone. Someone cheered me on right around 1:01:00(11 miles) and shouted "Number 6!" I pulled up another set of semi-grueling hills. I pushed. Hills, are painful, but they are so great for conditioning. I was hurting, but it was a good hurt. Up and down, and around, I pulled around to the back entrance to the indoor stadium where the finish was..1:12:49..50..I was going to PR. It's kind of crazy you run outside for 13.099 miles and the final steps are in the William and Mary indoor basketball stadium where people cheer. Pretty cool finish actually. The crowd roared as I crossed the line in 6th place. I thought I saw the clock read 1:12:54, but the results had me at 1:12:57. I'll take it. Strangely, this race was all gun timed, no chips. Average pace: 5:33

After the race, Beth insisted that we stop and I eat a meal. Beth is the best with keeping me on top of my nutrition, always telling me I need to keep eating(which she's right). So we had some sandwiches at a really good place in downtown Williamsburg before driving back.

Overall, I am pleased with my effort. This was my first race in well over 2 months. I needed to shake off some rust and get the fire going again. The goal was to run 1:11:00, but I think that will come in mid-late April on the flat Dismal Swamp 13.1 course. Right now I am getting ready for the Marathon Peak in 3 weeks. I firmly believe I am in shape to run at least a 2:32:00, if not faster.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2/15-2/21: 70MPW and 2 Solid Workouts

This week was pretty hard. My legs are worked. I did 2 solid workouts of pretty decent distances. Both of them were done on as the red fox would say, the dreadmill. Tuesday was the first, where I ran 16 miles @ 5:53 average per mile, 17.5miles total. And today, Sunday was the second, I ran 17.5 miles @ 5:52 average per mile, and 19 miles total. These treadmill workouts are tough mentally, and it is good to practice that. I also ran the second workout in my lightweight trainers, which is good since I will be running in those in the marathon. Obviously I would've liked to do these workouts on the canal, but the treadmill is a decent surface that can mimic the flat shamrock course. On Saturday I DID run at the canal. I couldn't stand the roads any longer, and I was sick of cars and no areas of seclusion. I drove to Old Angler's and put on my yaktrax and trudged into the snow. The footing is pretty bad(wouldn't recommend running there yet), even though the yaktrax work well on packed snow. I couldn't go very fast and after 25 minutes of that crap I looped back onto the parallel dirt road that was basically free of snow. The one area where I actually ran on the towpath itself was near Great Falls. Boy was that worse than I thought it would be. Mud and more mud. Deep mud. It's a mess. I saw some fallen trees over the canal as well which I had to stop and duck under. This snow storm really did some damage. I got in about 9.5m that day. Overall I am feeling pretty good and very fit. My total mileage this week was 70, same as last week. Here is my mileage for the 2010 year so far:

Week 1: 63
Week 2: 80
Week 3: 83
Week 4: 62
Week 5: 83
Week 6: 65
Week 7: 70
Week 8: 70

The Colonial Half is next weekend. I look foward to it and will probably keep the mileage in the 60's next week.

My goal for this 13.1 is to run right around 1:11:00. I know I am ready to run that time. As for the Marathon, my training continues to tell me what I am capable of this time around. With a few more workouts I should be good to go in 4 weeks.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tues, Feb 16: 16M@5:53 pace, 17.5M total

Today I decided to run on the treadmill since I wanted to get in a softer surface to run on. Pavement everyday is not good. I routinely try to run on soft surfaces 2x a week. The canal and any trails are for sure covered in thick snow and ice and will take forever to melt. I am starting to really miss the canal. Hopefully the snow will melt more on one of these 40 degree days coming up(keep fingers crossed!). I ran 17.5 total miles today with 16 miles averaging around 5:53 pace. I fluctuated the speed at times, running as fast as 10.5mph(5:43 pace) and back over 6:00 pace as well. I felt ok, a little achy and tired but that's to be expected especially since I ran 15 miles 2 days before. This is a hard week(really my last hard week for the marathon training). But this is good because it shows I am recovering better which is optimal for the marathon. I have decided to move the thurs workout a couple days later(the weekend) since I wanted to do a semi-hard workout today. Overall things are going well. I ran 8.5m Monday. Will see how the week progresses..

Monday, February 15, 2010

Feb 8-14: 70 Miles/Week

Not a bad week in terms of mileage, along with the 10M PR I ran on Thurs. I didn't do a long long run(only did 15m Sunday), but it was for a reason. This coming week will be higher mileage with a critical 20 mile marathon pace run I want to do on Thursday(which will be a little over 4 weeks out from the goal marathon). These types of workouts really work well for me in the marathon. Familiarity. I need to get into my marathon pace rhythm and set cruise control the whole way(but also not going too crazy..staying relaxed and controlled the whole way). I did this before Frederick 2009 (2nd place), & Shamrock 2005(my PR)...but interestingly not before Marine Corps..which was of course a bad race. The reason I am going to do this workout Thursday is because I want to recover enough so I can run a good half on Feb 28th. I am not peaking for the half obviously, my peak is for the marathon. But I want to be fresh enough to run a strong half and give myself a little bit of tune-up racing for the full. The idea is to run the half just above Lactate Threshold (5:27 pace) and really work on my turnover so that in the marathon(3 weeks later) when I run a slightly slower pace it will feel a little bit "easier," and if the moment calls for it and I need to crank the last 6.2m of the marathon in the 530s to win, then I will be ready.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feb 11: 10M@13.1M Race Pace/10M PR!

Today I went to the gym with Andy who nicely got me in with his guest pass. I did a Half Marathon Pace workout on the treadmill. The goal was to run 5:27 pace(1:11:00 half marathon race pace) for 10 miles. I warmed up for about 5 minutes, stretched, put on my lightweight trainers and started the workout. I cranked the speed up to 11 mph and felt pretty good. It was a hard workout but I felt strong, and tried to stay relaxed. I fluctuated the speed just slightly, changing it to 10.9 mph at times, but still raising it back to 11 mph and towards the end even increasing to 11.1 mph!! I felt VERY strong and had a lot left when I finished! I can confidently say that I am in 1:11:00 half marathon shape. I even PRed today in the 10 mile: 54:35. PRed by almost a minute! I ran a cooldown and it was almost hard to force myself to slow down. But I have goals. Recovery is just as important.

The training I have been doing for the last couple of years is really starting to pay off now. I do believe my upcoming races in 2010 will show this.

My week so far:

Mon: 9 miles
Tues: 11 miles
Wed: 8 miles(in snow blizzard)
Thurs: 13.5 miles(10M: 54:35)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Feb 7: 65 Miles/Week & Training Progress

This week was a down week with the mileage, but was still good quality with the half marathon workout I did on Tuesday. I got in a good long run in too Saturday, so right now I want to write up my progression of mileage/workouts/long runs so far for this Marathon Training Period.

This year's mileage so far(2010):

Week 1: 63m(14m med-long run)
Week 2: 80m(17.5m long run)
Week 3: 83m(13m w/ 5m @ MP, 21m long run w/ 5-6m @ MP)
Week 4: 62m(11m @ MP Workout, 15m med-long run)
Week 5: 83m(15m @ MP Workout, 14m med-long run, 18.5m long run)
Week 6: 65m(40min LT Workout, 20.5m long run)

Average(so far): 73 Miles Per Week
I feel right on track with where I want to be. 6 Weeks until the Marathon. 3 Weeks until I debut for 2010 at the Colonial Half Marathon.

The Goals: 2:31:00 Marathon, 1:11:00 1/2 Marathon

I need to do a few more critical workouts over the next 2 weeks(besides other "moderate workouts"). The critical ones are a 20 mile marathon pace run. I really want to average this run my marathon pace and feel like I have more in the tank when I finish. I was going to do this on the Canal to simulate Shamrock's flat course but unless the snow melts soon I will probably do on the treadmill. I also want to do a half marathon workout of about 1 hour or a little less at 1/2 marathon pace. The goals for these workouts would be around 1:55:00 for the 20 miles and 5:27 pace for about one hour or less for the 1/2 marathon pace workout. These feel very doable to me so once I do these my confidence will be ready and the rest will be cake before the marathon. I am preparing well.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Feb 6: 20.5 Mile Long Run in the Snow

"Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win." - Tom Fleming's Boston Marathon training sign on his wall

I stepped outside for my run around 3PM and it was so bright out that I went back inside and got my sunglasses to shield the intense whiteness. I also had on my ninja mask again, and put on the Yaktrax which are AWESOME in this type of weather. I finally headed out and ran to route 28, turned right and saw no cars. The snow was packed down from the plows so I was getting excellent traction with the yaktrax. I wasn't sure how long I was going to run today. But I had a feeling I was going long. I was running purely by feel. I ran towards QO road and saw several traffic lights out. Some of the areas(including Beth's) had no power. Thankfully my house didn't go out of power. I ran on QO and stopped when an ambulance went by(since I had been running in the road). I saw a few people walking. It was like a changed world. Everything was still. Everything stopped. I ran towards Kentlands and decided to zigzag through there a while. No stores open. I kept my pace moderate. In the Kentlands, there were more people shoveling. One guy who saw me run by said, "Now that's dedication." I thought to myself, it's just another run. But it is being dedicated that gets me out the door. After about an hour, I meandered out of the Kentlands and ran other places before turning down QO road again to run towards Beth's house to check on her. Unfortunately, she and her family had been out of power since 1AM last night!! I was worried she was cold. Her street hadn't been plowed, so they couldn't get their cars out anywhere! It was a helpless situation. Or was it? I reached her neighborhood, and to my discovery, about halfway up the long hill to her house, it was plowed, but then the rest UNTOUCHED. WTF. So I stopped running and trudged through the snow step by step towards her house. Almost..there. Jesus. This was some storm. Finally, I saw her Mom shoveling outside and saw my sweetie poor Beth freezing and her Dad. I told them half their street is plowed but obviously not all the way up the hill. Since Jono(my brother) and I had shoveled our driveway this morning, we were able to get out of our neighborhood(well in the Trailblazer). So I told them we could drive there to pick them up and take them to our house. They would have to walk through some snow to get there but it was definitely worth it. They were happy I came by and I was happy to see Beth. I chugged some Gatorade and went on my way. Later on Jono and I drove there to pick them up, so now they are at our house thankfully. But my run ended up being, as I thought it would be, a 20.5 mile long run, moderate though. After I ran to visit Beth, I ran back through other neighborhoods and eventually towards my neighborhood. I felt good even though I kept the pace moderate, towards the end I ran faster though which felt great. Good to get in the long run today. As the sun came out I smiled. Total Time: 2Hours and 23 Minutes.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Storm of the Century

This is epic. I saw this storm on a map and it is such a massive storm it practically covers Florida all the way up to DC.
I ran 10 miles this morning at Old Angler's Inn on the Canal. I wore my new Yaktrax and those things are awesome. They really give great traction and enabled me to run on the Canal(which had packed ice and snow) no problem. I recommend them if you are out training in this type of weather. I ran just when the snow started and felt pretty achy but OK and recharged. I took a rest day yesterday(wish I could've saved it for tomorrow but I really needed one yesterday) and that revived me and I felt hungry to run again. I think I am going to do a second run today of about 5 we'll see how that goes...update coming later..
UPDATE: Decided to nix the 5 mile run this evening. But doing some shoveling to make the shoveling tomorrow just a little bit easier...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tues, Feb 2: Lactate Threshold Workout(Half Marathon Pace)

On Tuesday I decided to do an LT pace workout on the treadmill since the damn snow was back again coming down hard. I started off gradually picking up the pace during the first 5 minutes and then settled into 11mph (5:27 pace). This was perfect pacing for me since it was 1:11:00 Half Marathon Race Pace. The pace was hard but my leg turnover was fine and found I wasn't digging into the red zone at all. I did the tempo for 40 minutes. I gradually slowed down after the tempo but still ran 6:00-6:30 pace comfortably afterward to run for a total of 65 minutes. I am getting fitter. I ran this in my flats which was good practice for racing. I'd like to do another workout similar to this and hold 5:27 pace for about 10 miles-either treadmill or canal-we'll see.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

I always pause a moment before registering for these bigger races. One reason is because they are such big events, I want to be at the top of my game. It was the reason I hesitated before Marine Corps.

Ever since I watched Khalid Khannoucci break the world record for the Marathon at Chicago, I have set my eyes and heart on this race. I have never been to Chicago, but watching Spirit of the Marathon has given me a somewhat decent preview of the Chicago Marathon. I have wanted to wait for just the right time, the right moment of my running career to enter this race. I believe that moment is now, and beyond. I do not see myself running this race just once obviously. I will most likely run it dozens of times during my lifetime. Of course there are many others on my list, such as the incredible New York City Marathon, which my family keeps asking me everytime I visit, "Chris, when are you going to run that race so we can come watch you?"

I reply, "When the time is right, I will most certainly run it."

Chicago is no joke to me. I want to be in the shape of my life when I run this race for my first time. I want to give it everything I have. Since Marine Corps didn't go as planned, (I ran 2:57) , there is always a fear of things not going my way. The Marathon is so unpredictable.

But it's also about jumping to a new level. Right now I am a 2:38 guy trying to run 2:30. Perhaps as the year progresses I will become that 2:30 guy shooting for 2:25. The higher I climb, the higher i'll aim for, and this includes running races with stronger competition. Chicago will most certainly have the world's top competition.