Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mizuno's Wave Universe 4

I am excited(thanks to PR's shoe buyer Dave Miller) to have gotten a brand new pair of racing flats for 2012.  Mizuno's Wave Universe 4 weighs at just 3.7 ounces and is nearly 1/2 the weight of my previous racing flats, the Musha 3s, and it could possibly be a shoe I will race in up to the half marathon, certainly the 10K.  As for the marathon I will probably still stick with the Musha for that.  Many will say the Wave Universe's design is for the 10K on down, though some of the world's best runners will use a shoe like this in longer races because they are so efficient and light on their feet.  Brian Cunningham(former coach of William and Mary) suggested I will have to test it out in a workout on the road and see.  It fits my foot pretty darn well(similar to the musha) and for how light it is, it still has just enough amount of cushion. 

When I was a bit younger, my half marathon PR was 1:16-1:17, I raced in a Nike Pegasus(neutral cushioned shoe).  As I became faster and progressed to a 1:12-1:13 half marathoner I used the Asics DS Trainer.  In the middle of 2010, I shifted to the Mizuno Musha, and raced in that for the rest of 2010 and 2011, dropping down to my current PR of 1:08 for 13.1.  Over the years, I have gone to lighter and lighter racing shoes as I have gotten more and more efficient.  Keep in mind though I am talking about my racing shoes.  I love to just do an easy run in my high-cushioned Enigmas, and I believe that doing so helps keep me injury free.  When it comes to racing, I think at a point, you can only go so light...without sacrificing cushioning.  I am not one of those runners with the goal of progressing to vibrams, and I don't know any elite half marathoners who race in those things. 

So I will have to test it out and see.  I do think, that, eventually, in order to progress to 1:06 and faster in the half marathon, I will have to race in a lighter shoe on my feet than the Musha.  It just seems heavy to me now racing 5:00 pace miles in.

Now on to training:

Since the Marine Corps Marathon, the past 7 weeks have been lower mileage, averaging 50 miles/week.  I am feeling more rejuvenated now though and ready to get to 70 again.  I have been taking 1-2 days off each week as well, though that will begin to diminish as I raise mileage again.  This past week I felt really good on some runs, running at faster paces.  On Wednesday I did a nice "break the ice" track workout of 8x400 meters with 1 lap jog between each.  I hit 70,70, 69, 69, 69, 68, 68, 67.  Thursday I took off.  On Friday morning I ran with Coach Brian Flynn who coaches at Bridgewater College.  Brian is training for the Houston Half Marathon in January so his mileage is high right now but I ran 11 miles with him before he added on another 11 or more(he was doing a long run of 22-25 miles).  Training with him consistently would be ideal and I wish he lived in the same area as our abilities and PRs are quite similar.  His brother Ricky qualified for the U.S. Trials in January with a 1:04 half marathon.

Saturday morning I ran with Matt for about 17 miles which was my first real long run in weeks, and I really enjoyed getting into that zone again.  Totaled 56 this week.  Last week was 66.  This week should be more of my real zone around 70-75 again.           

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 2012 Race Plan

1.21.2012 UMD Indoor 5000m

3.18.2012 Shamrock Anthem Half Marathon

4.01.2012 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

4.29.2012 Pikes Peek 10K

5.14.2012 Swarthmore Outdoor 5000m

6.16.2012 USA Half Marathon Championships


9.16.2012 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon

11.18.2012 Philadelphia Marathon

Thanks to everyone's advice and thoughts...even Charlie Ban's Hot Chocolate Race suggestions do not go unnoticed... After brainstorming a lot of different options, I do think the best decision is repeating last spring's schedule for the most part, with the exception of adding on the USA Half Marathon Championships at the end. I believe that this schedule will work the best for me and certainly it did last year(I PRed in every race).

The UMD indoor track 5000m in late-jan will be my 2012 opener, before focusing solely on peaking once the shamrock half marathon roles around in march. I will not run the VT race because it will probably hurt, not help my half marathon at that point. So that's out. The Shamrock Half begins my spring peak, along with the races that follow it. Last year, I was able to endure a 2 month peak, progressing from 13.1 down to 10 Miles, 10K, and finally 5000 meters, hitting PRs every time I raced. One reason I was able to do this was variety in race distance. Each distance has it's own unique traits of requiring different systems to be trained and used. I balanced it all out in a delicate sort of way. 13.1 is oh so close to my lactate threshold-just a tad slower(for me varies from individual because it is a pace you can maintain for about 1 hour)...while 10 Miles is a little faster for me than lactate threshold...using a small portion of some VO2 Max. The 10K is a really unique race's like a divided line between VO2 Max and Threshold, using both pretty equally. And, of course, 5000 meters is a pure VO2 Max race. So as the season went on I tapered off my Lactate Threshold and raced towards using my VO2 Max at the end. This is what I will repeat this year.

I decided also to do the Pikes Peek 10K at the end of April instead of Penn Relays because for one thing it is convenient (the finish is right outside of where I live) and it is too much of a drastic change to go from road racing to 10,000 meters on a track, and it would probably hurt my chances of running Swarthmore 5,000 meters in May. The track 10,000 is so much more stress and pounding on the body than a 5,000. I love the 5,000 on the track and am comfortable racing it in spikes.

After March-May racing, The USA Half Marathon Championships will come up as my final race on June 16th. It will be 3 months after the shamrock half, so the idea is that going back to the half marathon will be somewhat refreshing again. I will do a mini-peak for this race and it won't be necessary to train too much between May and June since I'll have less than 5 weeks to prepare and also I will be fit as hell at that point-if anything I would just need to make sure I stay race sharp by doing just enough running and a few tune-up workouts to keep my body "awake." I think this race is a really great addition to my season and it will give me great experience competing with some great runners and it's a great way to end a season with a championship race.

And furthur out...

After June I will recover and get ready for a big fall racing season. I think I already have this figured out. I loved racing in Philly so much last fall that I will definitely repeat the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half in Sept again. My fall marathon is looking to be Philadelphia, which is perfectly 2 months after the philadelphia half. It gives me enough time so that I can mini-peak in Sept and to train and prepare for one final peak in Nov. It is difficult, as I have learned, to peak in the half and the full during the same season. Just read Dickson Mercer's blog. Or, just follow Ryan Hall. Having more time between races is a good thing as long as you're able to handle a long season of training.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spring 2012 Racing Thoughts

I have most of my races set in stone for 2012...but there are a few I am still on the fence about and I will need to make some decisions at some point...

After looking at what made 2011 such a success, part of that success was good planning on the right races. In 2011, I jumped back into some track races, and in addition to PRing, it translated well to my longer distance races. They were also competitive, as I had several college guys to race against. This I need to continue to do. I need to continue to get on the track.

The track is an area where I have a lot of room for improvement, and I need to continue to work hard at getting my times down, because it has helped my half marathon time improve immensely. I do think it is also why the full marathon is not my strongest performance yet, because I am working on certain systems that my body needs to develop this point in time in order for me to become a better marathoner as I mature. My goal long term development is towards the marathon but all of these shorter races and building blocks are part of a bigger whole.

If I want to improve to, let's say, 1:06/sub 1:07 in the half marathon this coming march, I need to get my 5000m time down to the 14's. My PR from 2011 was 15:13 last May, and I am confident that I can run high 14's this indoor track season...and perhaps faster later on in the year. I have decided my first race of 2012 will be the UMD Indoor Invite 5000m on January 21, in the PG Sports Complex. It's the same opening race I did last year(last year I finished in 15:26, 10th place). This race will also be a small way for me to contribute to MD's track and field program, as unfortunately there has been a proposal to cut men's track and field and cross country. Danielle, the assistant MD track coach and one of my roomates, generously waved the fee for me last year, but I will be happy to pay it this year to help support the program. MD has had some great runners and it is a shame for all of the athletes and coaches on that team to have to go through this.

In addition to the UMD invite, there is another 5000m indoor track race I am thinking about doing, which is at the former college I ran for, Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech Elite Meet is held 2 weeks after UMD, on February 4th. The track is banked, and awesome to run on. I am still on the fence about doing it though. The important thing these 2 meets can do is to develop my speed for the big race in march: The Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon on March 18 in Va Beach. I also need to make sure I do not overdo the indoor racing before Shamrock, because my goal is to develop my speed only as much as I need to in order for me to run as well as I can in the longer distances. What might happen is I may shoot for a PR at MD, and then run the VT race more of as a tune-up/workout, and take that weekend in Blacksburg to get in a solid long training long run at the pandapas pond trails. Blacksburg is an awesome area to train, with hills pretty much everywhere, and trails that go for miles...and I miss training out there.

After Shamrock, there is the top-notch best DC race of the year...CHERRY BLOSSOM 10 MILER on April 1. This is the area's best spring race and it is so well organized. I think runners around here can easily forget to recognize what a great job DC does until they race in the hot chocolate 15k(which is done by a company NOT from DC!). They do a terrific job putting on Cherry Blossom(and though mile 4 was on the wrong side of the road last year-I'm sure they will make sure it is correct this year). Cherry Blossom is certainly a clash of the area's best runners and you get world class runners as well to make it insanely competitive and fast(I was 32nd last year). It will be 2 weeks after Shamrock so I will not have more training time between then/barely enough resting time, but hopefully if my training goes well I will be prepared to attack the 10M distance and rest enough between races to do it. I did it last year.

After Cherry Blossom I will be able to get some more training in before the latter part of April. I will also dive back into shorter races again(10k on down to the 5k). There are a few really competitive track races in April. One is the Larry Ellis Invitational 5000m at Princeton University on April 20-21. But there are also 2 big races the following weekend(and again I need to make sure I don't overrace!). One is the Pikes Peek 10K on April 29(a PR course and one of the most competitive 10Ks around)-and I run well on that course...I ran my PR there the last 2 years and last spring ran 31:26. BUT...there is another racing opportunity that weekend for me...and that is to run in the Penn Relays(April 26-28) in the Olympic Development 5,000m or 10,000m on the track. That would be a really great experience for me and just plain...awesome. Between all of these awesome races it will be a very hard decision to make...I can't do them all. I guess I'll have to see where my 5000m time is at after these indoor races and choose what to do in April based on my progression. These spring track races are highly competitive races to enter. And again, I need to be a 14's guy to be somewhat competitive.

May is easy-will be a repeat of last year, I will do the Swarthmore College Outdoor Track Invitational in PA on May 14, where I'll run the 5000m again. Set my PR of 15:13 there last year. A fun meet and last year I rode with a bunch of Georgetown guys in a van we took up there. It was a blast.

Last year the Swarthmore Track race ended my Spring season. This year, I will extend it to June. Duluth, Minnesota is hosting the USA Half Marathon Championships on June 16. I realized that my half marathon time from Philly this past Sept has qualified me to get an entry and also get free lodging. If I progress to sub 1:07 in March, I will also get most of my plane ticket paid for as well. But that aside, I want to run this race because it is a good race for me to run this point in time. The competition should be strong and it will give me a great chance to compete in a strong field of top U.S. runners.

The year looks exciting. I am beginning a new chapter of running in my life and am on a new level, ready to make some strong statements this spring. I think the latter part of 2011, and especially my philadelphia half was a small preview of what 2012 will bring. This year will also mark the first step of beginning 4 hard working dedicated years of training towards my bigger goals, which is qualifying for the 2016 trials...and beyond.

And of course, I appreciate any tips/suggestions/comments on racing ideas!