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Monday, December 31, 2012

The 2013 Race Plan

I have thought very hard about the year 2013, and because of that I have been unable to post for quite some time.  In addition, I had a rough time a few weeks ago, when I got hit with the flu.  Although I actually only missed 4 days of running, and rebounded pretty well.  But it was a pretty rough sickness, and it has taken another week for myself to get back on track.  These past few days I was up in the mountains of Westchester, NY visiting family.  Running up and down the steep, mountainous hills up there "woke" my legs up a bit.  I hit 78 miles this week, and got my first long run of close to 2 hours since the marathon.  Most of my runs have been slow though.  I have not done any speedwork except a few fartlek intervals.  But it will come back naturally as I get back into the swing of things.  I am also still pool running once a week and will continue to do so-I think it will help my training.

I was quite tired after I finished the Philly Marathon, and quite frankly, I needed some rest.  It was the finish to a 2-year drive-the way I look at it now.  2011 and 2012 were now, as I look back, a long continuous drive of training and racing.  The start of 2011, a 15:26 indoor 5K(a PR at the time), was the spark that drove a string of hard-earned races that followed throughout the next 2 years.  Coming out of 2012, I have shed another layer of skin, with new personal bests in all distances I have raced.  Some are stronger PRs than others, but at the end of the day the way I coach myself and the way I train is all about getting myself better as a whole to my utmost potential.  As I observe my performances, I have developed tremendously in 5K-13.1, but still just moderately in the marathon.  This to me, says something.

In 2011 and 2012, I split each year into 2 parts: the first part(Spring) was concentrating on 13.1 on down to the 5K, and the second part(Fall) was working on 10 miles on up to the Marathon.  This has brought me success and I have PRed in every event doing it this way.  However, my marathon continues to be the weakest(although I have brought my time down to at least a "decent" performance).  What I have been able to do is actually pretty incredible, now that I look at it.  I have been able to race and run personal bests in other events and still be able to run a marathon at the same time, during the same training cycles, and run a decent time.  But now I realize that I have gotten to a level where if I want to run a marathon "on par" with my other current bests, I must concentrate on only 26.2-and not throw in too many "distractions" during the cycle.  The day I do that I will be able to race the marathon up to my ability.

Well, I am not ready to do that right now.  


"Do what works."

I talked to Lucinda's husband, Andy(who trained under Brad Hudson and clocked 13:38 for 5000m during his competitive career) about what races to train for.  He said, "Do what works, Chris.  Do what you're good at right now."  This knocked some sense into me.

I felt an immediate sense of relief when I realized what I wanted to do this year.  It was very much a freeing feeling.  I need to do what works for me right now.  At this time it seems that the right thing to do is to devote a year towards training for nothing longer than 13.1.  If I concentrate on that, I can put ALL my energy into perfecting my current prime range.  I can really go all out now.  Anyone who knows me well knows that if I toe the line with them in a 10K, 10 Mile, or 13.1 Mile race, they best be running very hard to beat me.  And this is what I continue to immensely improve in.  I have more left in me to show on the track, and in the 10K-13.1 distances.  I can become dangerously better at these distances.

There is another reason. The Olympic Trials half marathon standard of 1:05:00 is something I am aiming for, and feel is attainable if I really focus on getting my speed down.  I have the schedule pretty much figured out, although there may be slight changes.  Certainly, I have the spring figured out.  I plan to open with the Maryland 3000m in January.  It'll be a good race to get my turnover going and my competitive edge back.  The prime races will be shamrock half, cherry blossom, and pikes peek.  The swarthmore track 5000m is always a great finish to the season and I'm able to hold my spring peak through that race.  I would like to do the USA Half Marathon Championships again, but I am nixing that to give hierarchy to a fresh fall season, concentrating on the Philly Rock N Roll Half in Sept, along with peaking for the Army 10 Miler and Philly Half in Nov.

2013 SCHEDULE

1.19.13 University of Maryland Indoor Track 3000m

3.17.13 Shamrock Anthem Half Marathon

4.07.13 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

4.21.13 Pikes Peek 10K

5.13.13 Swarthmore College Outdoor Track 5000m

7.12.13 Midsummer Night's Mile

7.20.13 Rockville Twilighter 8K

8.31.13 Kentlands 5K

9.15.13 Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon

10.20.13 Army 10 Miler

11.24.13 Philadelphia Half Marathon

Monday, December 3, 2012

Rebuilding


As I began to gain life in my legs again just before thanksgiving, I realized that I hadn't done pool running for quite some time.  I used to do it when I was injured a lot, but also did it in college as a supplemental workout to improve cardio without the pounding.  I like to run freestyle without a belt.  After just my first run in the water, I felt 50% better.  Since then I have been doing it twice a week, with my running slowly coming back.  Recovery is relative.  For me actually running a few easy miles 3 days after a marathon helps clear out the gunk.  All my runs have been slow right now, easy miles.  It has taken about 2 weeks for me to feel more "normal" again.      

Week 1
11/19: Rest
11/20: Rest
11:21: Pool Running 40 minutes
11/22: 3 mile run
11/23: Pool Running 50 minutes
11/24: 6 mile run
11/25: 10 mile run

Total: 19 miles, + 90 minutes pool running

Week 2
11/26: AM: Pool Running 50 minutes, PM: 5 mile run
11/27: 5 mile run
11/28: Pool Running 50 minutes
11/29: 6 mile run
11/30: 5 mile run
12/1: 10 mile run
12/2: 8 mile run

Total: 39 miles, + 100 minutes pool running

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Journey Continues


11/18/2012
Philadelphia Marathon
Time: 2:35:09, PR
Place: 47th
1/2 Splits: 1:13, 1:21

I have never had so many mixed feelings about a race.  If you were to ask me 2 years ago how I felt about this race, I would have said it was one of my best races ever.  At the time I had never even broken 16:00 for a 5K, and my half marathon personal best was barely under 1:13, which was pretty much my first half's split yesterday.  There is one negative to getting better: You are your own worst enemy.  Now, my 5K is 14:58, and my Half Marathon is 1:08, not to mention all the other 8K, 10K, and 10 mile races in between.  My 5K pace 2 years ago is my pace for 10 Miles now.  I have gotten to a much different level, and it shows in every distance...except the monster 26.2.  It's as if my marathon time is trying to catch up with my other current performances...and currently it looks to be about 2 years behind.  Please don't get me wrong though, this is not a frustration rant-I am actually not unhappy about the race, it is simply an analysis on perspectives of different performances and levels of where I am at as a runner.

Despite running a 2+ minute personal best yesterday, 26.2 is currently my weakest event.  It is a race that (right now) is outside of my current prime.  I do believe, that if it was a 20 or 22 mile race, I would do far better.  The zone of running after those miles is a different kind of running-which I have not been able to master yet-this is something I am currently working on.  As a coach, I am not embarassed, rather, I am passionate to say this, because I think every runner, no matter what level you're at, knows deep down inside of them what they're capable of doing if they really dig deep.  For me, I do not believe my performance in the marathon is a mental thing, but more physical.  If my head wasn't right, I wouldn't be racing so well in every other distance.  My mind is trained and knows how to push its limits.  Of course this doesn't mean that I don't continue to train it. And I must keep doing so.  The physical part of the marathon for me is getting my body to be able to race the entire distance.  The last 10K I was just able to run-not race, at a training pace that is typical on an easy run for me.  It is really a more physical process of adapting the body to handle this demand.  I do believe, it can be done however.  I think it just takes more time than other distances.  Some people may think that I am being unrealistic with my goals.  But, the truth is, anyone who really knows what I can do will agree that I should be at least a 2:25 guy, if not faster.  There are guys who run 2:35, who have never broken 1:13 in the half.   

My first mile was 5:35(2:26 pace-slightly slower than goal pace), and went through the first half in 1:13(still exactly 5:35 pace).  I would have liked to go out slower that first mile, but I really don't think it was too fast either.  I felt comfortable, it did not feel too hard-I felt this was realistic to sustain for the entire distance.  I even thought about negative splitting perhaps(1:13, 1:12).  I was breathing comfortably, and chatting a little bit even with other runners.  Now, if I went out in 5:15 pace, I think then that I would have had to drop out eventually!  So, I think I did the best I could, and believed in myself and went for it.  Another thing, which Matias brought up with me, is race day nutrition.  A top notch Ironman athlete and 2:34 marathoner himself, EFS(First Endurance Liquid Shot) is his favorite, and recommends me trying.  Maybe the GUs I take just aren't cutting it.  I took 2 1/2, (1 roctane, 1.5 expresso).  I also drank water along the course-actually I drank pretty often, which I am super proud of myself for doing!  In the past, I have been very bad about drinking water during a marathon(and I honestly hate drinking while running), and I think I have mastered that now.  I even took some water after the first mile.  I give myself a lot of credit for being able to do this now.  But at Mile 18, something happened.  I had to go.  And I'm not talking about # 1 either.  So, I veered off course and found a spot.  It sucked, but I had no other choice.  Maybe the GU upset my stomach?  I had NEVER had to go during a marathon before.  But I really think I just had to go regardless of what I took.  It's not like the GU is a heavy meal-jesus-its just 100 calories of sugar-I feel like a donut or a cookie would have caused more problems.  And I didn't have any cramps or side stitches(thank god).  But that aside, maybe there is something better for me to take anyway.  I will look into it-and it's good to find the best possible nutrition option, even if it doesn't make a difference in performance.

Nevertheless, when I look back at previous marathons before this one, there are improvements made.  For one thing, as I mentioned earlier, I have taught myself to drink water during the race, and physically adapt to it.  My splits were 1:13, 1:21, which are yes, pretty uneven, but better than Marine Corps pacing last year which was 1:12, 1:24.  I have also made fitness gains from all of the training I have done the past year.  There are a lot of workouts I have done and a lot going on that has not shown yet, and this is a great way to move me into the year 2013.

When I crossed the finish line, I felt a lot. I hugged Beth and shed a tear, who has always been there for me. She knows how far I have come. And it has been far, indeed.  I think this marathon was the end of an era in training(in years) and the beginning of a new one.  It may have not reflected on the other current performances I have gotten to, but I think it reflected on years prior to those performances.  And those years were hardly fought, too.  Perhaps it is a summary of everything all together, or an average.  I do feel that 2013 will be starting a new chapter in my running career.  The half marathon is really in my sight now.  The 2016 trials qualifying window opens again in 2013(can qualify with half or full).  I have really high goals for the year and am looking at things for not only next spring, but next fall as well.  Up next will be a preview of the year 2013 and what races I have in mind. 

The old journey is over, but a new one is about to begin.

-Sloane

Monday, November 12, 2012

Test my will, test my heart..

Test my will, test my heart
Let me tell you how the odds gonna stack up
Y'all go hard, I go smart
How's that working out for y'all in the back, huh?
I've seen that frustration
Been crossed and lost and told "No"
And I've come back unshaken
Let down and lived and let go
So you can let it be known
I don't hold back, I hold my own
I can't be mapped, I can't be cloned
I can't C-flat, it ain't my tone
I can't fall back, I came too far
Hold myself up and love my scars
Let the bells ring wherever they are
'Cause I was there saying...


No, you can tell 'em all now
I don't back up, I don't back down
I don't fold up, and I don't bow
I don't roll over, don't know how
I don't care where the enemies are
Can't be stopped, all I know; go hard
Won't forget how I got this far

For every time saying…

-LINKIN PARK

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Work is Done

I am now 2 weeks away from the Philadelphia Marathon. There is nothing more I can do at this point to improve fitness. It is all about resting up and letting my body absorb all of the mileage and workouts I have done leading up to the race. 

The week started off soggy on Monday as I jogged 5 miles in a disgusting wet rain with the hurricane coming in.  Monday night, as the hurricane rolled through, thanks to Beth's treadmill, I got in a second run of 4.5.  Tuesday afternoon was another wet and gloomy 6.5 miles.  On Wednesday, I ran through the late afternoon after work on the Millenium Trail, finishing up a 10.5 mile run through Rockville's neighborhoods and seeing goblins and ghosts begin their trick or treating.  Thursday, the sun seemed to finally begin coming out, and I got in 8 at Great Falls.  On Friday it was even nicer and I had some time to drive out to White's Ferry and do a Ferries Loop in 68:00.  On Saturday, I booked one last hard run on the towpath at Pennyfield(for some reason I just love running hard here), which felt just slightly faster than marathon pace but something I probably could've sustained for about 30-35K if I had to.  After a 1 mile jog, I did 10.7 miles in 58:00, which ended up being 5:25 pace, running even the whole way.  I felt good and that I had hit my last workout on the nose.  On Sunday, I did an easy 17.5 at 7:00 pace.  Total ended up being 74 for the week.

I am now easing up completely and running purely by feel until the race.  I will be ready on 11/18.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

10/22-10/28: 98 Miles/Week


I view this past week as a week where I "held on" and was able to climb furthur up.  Coming off an Army 10 Miler PR and immediately going into high mileage this past week seemed like a tough thing to do, but aside some expected stiffness, I actually I felt quite comfortable (and good) doing it.  I think partially, because I ran a small amount of mileage when I tapered last week(53), and secondly, it felt good running longer and slower(compared to running fast 10 milers).  I nixed any trackworkouts this week so that I could run longer miles and recover to do a strong long run over the weekend.  On Saturday, I drove out to Pennyfield to do one of my favorite out and backs.  I did 10.5 out and 10.5 back for a total of 21.  I did the first 10.5 in 58:00(5:31 pace), and came back in 60:00(5:42 pace).  I would have preferred the reverse, and I think I got a little carried away and ran a bit hard in the beginning(even though my first mile was just under 6:00).  At the same time, I wasn't completely recovered from running 51:44 for 10 miles 6 days earlier, and on top of all that, also getting in 98 miles for the week.  Indeed, the last 3 miles of the run my hamstrings became stiff and I could feel the lingering soreness from Army.  But I think it was GREAT training this way.  It taught me how to PUSH through fatigue and HANG ON.  It definitely was mentally a good exercise, and one good last 21 miler.  What's next is I just need to do some continued sharpening and shortening the runs...doing between 16-18 for next week's long run, and then completely taper down.  For this training cycle, I have done ten 20+ mile long runs, up to 23 miles for my longest.  Last year, I did a 25 miler, although I am feeling very well prepared this time around and my runs last year weren't nearly as fast as they have this year.

Last week(10/22-10/28) below:

Monday: 17 miles (6:50 pace)

Tuesday: AM: 11 miles (7:00 pace)

Wednesday: AM: 13 miles (7:00 pace), PM: 3.5 miles

Thursday: 10 miles easy (7:30 pace)

Friday: 6.5 miles easy

Saturday: 21 Miles: 1:58:00 (5:37 pace)

Sunday: 16 Miles total(stop and go-cheering for MCM)

TOTAL: 98 Miles

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Army 10 Miler Race Report

 
 
RESULT: 24TH PLACE
 
TIME: 51:44, PR*
 
PACE: 5:10
 
I arrived at the Pentagon parking lot at 6:20 AM.  I chilled out in my car for a bit, and then headed towards the race starting area around 6:45 AM.  Crowds of runners everywhere.  This race was HUGE.  Too many people.  I made my way to the baggage area to drop off some stuff and do a warm-up.  I made the warm-up pretty short(10 min), and did plenty of stretching.  We lined up on the front start line behind the wounded warriors and wheelchair athletes.  An honorable event this is.  There was a moment of silence in remembrance of lost soldiers/fighters/loved ones overseas.  The sun came up quietly in the distance, with a beautiful clear blue sky for it to fill up.  I found Matt at the start and we got ready in position. 
 
BOOM!
 
We blasted out on Jefferson Davis Highway.  I went out conservative and felt pretty relaxed.  Plenty of runners started out in front of me.  I hit Mile 1 in 5:10.  We then made our way uphill around the ramp towards the Arlington Bridge.  I then began to pump my arms a bit and pass runners.  I moved up not too far away from Sam Luff(GRC's top runner), up ahead.  We then crossed the Arlington Bridge and the sun was strong.  Should've worn the shades, dammit.  I saw Beth and her Mom cheering at the end of the bridge in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  I also heard the GRC guys cheering for me, then behind me Jake and Dave, who I knew were salivating to catch me.  I hit Mile 2 in 10:20, another 5:10 split.  I surged onto Constitution Avenue and ditched my gloves around Mile 2.5.  We ran on the rolling Virginia Avenue.  Mile 3 was 15:20s(closer to 5:00 split).  I was rolling.  I came up on a runner in red and together we worked back and forth for a bit.  I ended up meeting him after the race-he came all the way from Alabama.  We made another turn and blasted towards the Kennedy Center.  Mile 4: 20:30ish(5:10 split). 



 We went underneath the Arlington Bridge up towards Independence Avenue.  I saw Beth and her Mom again cheering.  I wanted to stop and kiss/hug her.  Gotta keep going though...

Mile 5: 25:35(5:15 split).  A little slow, but I was in perfect position for +/- 51:00.  This course was also not easy, in my opinion.  There were lots of turns, and the inclines were certainly more prevalent than the Cherry Blossom course.  I pushed on through to the second half of the race, where the pain begins to set in...

I continued down Independence...alone.  The runner in red had gone up ahead with Sam and a few others.  I split 31:54(5:08 pace) at 10K.  I kept them in my sight, but it was difficult to reel them in.  I could also hear Jake and Dave and a few others not far behind, which was motivating.  So I ran scared.  Crowds were all over the place as I headed towards our Nation's Capitol.  Racing in DC is f%ckin awesome.  I then made the awkward square loop that had like 4 turns.  That sucked.  I headed back on Independence towards the 14th Street Bridge.  I split a few ticks over 36:00 at the 7 mile mark.  3 miles to go.  Time get tough.

Well, the 14th street bridge was tough.  I could see some runners up ahead, but was still running alone.  I know how to push myself though.  I hammered across the bridge and my endurance was there.  My turnover was still good, and I climbed up the gradual inclines steadily.  I could hear, however, Jake and Dave not far behind.  Mile 8 I split a 5:15, which was a little slow again but also I was going slightly uphill.  I knew I had enough left to finish strong the last 2 miles.  I just had to get across this damn bridge! 


The bridge seemed like it would never end.  I then hit Mile 9 in 46:30(a 5:12 split), but I heard footsteps behind me.  Son of a bitch.  I made the downhill exit off the bridge(thank god).  The runner was close behind.  Who was it?  I immediately guessed it was GRC's #2 man Jake running me down.  Dammit.  I surged as I made a right turn up the freeway toward the finish.  Not far now.  Just hold on!!!

The runner then came up on me and surged in front.  I was surprised to notice it was not Jake.  This guy was a GIANT, easily a foot taller than I(or so it seemed).  He was coming on strong.  He had an American flag on the back of his jersey. 

He would not win that easy.  I am never easy to beat.  I will make it hell for him to beat me.    

I hung on to him and surged to make a move, sprinting ahead.  People cheered as we roared towards the finish.  He then ran up beside me and passed me again.

Dammit. 

I didn't have much left.  I surged one last move on him but was no match for his last kick.  He beat me in the last 50 yards and I settled but ran strong toward the finish.







I'm not sure if it was or not, but I have heard rumors of the course being a bit long. Jake Klim, who I find knows many of DC's races all too well, and is not the type of person to question distances usually, writes about the course: check out his blog www.jakeklim.blogspot.com.
At any rate, I am happy with the effort I gave and how strong I felt.  My target was 51:00 give or take, and this was a great turnaround for me from last month's half marathon. I am feeling great.

I am also very proud of Maria who PRed by 2+ minutes(also weaving around slower runners) to finish in 82:00. 
 
I went right into high mileage again this week, in preparation for the marathon.  The day after the race I actually ran 17 miles.  I did not do a trackworkout this week though so I could recover from the intensity, in anticipation of a hard long run this Saturday.  Should be over 100 this week.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

10 Miles


Photo above: =PR= Store Owner Ray Pugsley(#879) in the 1998 Army 10 Miler, at age 29.  Ray finished second to Olympian Dan Browne(to his right) in 49:12.  Photo Credit: George Banker

I am looking foward to racing again next weekend.  10 Miles is an awesome distance.  I have really grown into it as it is a great mixture of speed and endurance.  I have never done Army before, but I am really looking foward to it.  I hope this race goes much better than the Philly Half(back in Sept). 
I had a good training week and on Tuesday did one of the best interval workouts I have ever done.  The mileage was less this week so I'd get into a taper for Army.  Pretty much after my workout on Tuesday I started tapering.  My long run of 18 miles seemed unbelievably short.  I felt like I could've run another 10. 

10/8-10/14:

Monday: PM: 10 miles

Tuesday: PM: TRACK: 4800m: 15:04, 3200m: 9:54, 1600m: 4:51, 1600m: 4:50, 13 miles total

Wednesday: PM: 3 miles

Thursday: AM: 12 miles, PM: 4 miles

Friday: AM: 9 miles

Saturday: AM: 4 miles

Sunday: AM: 18 miles

Total: 73 miles    

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Things are Clicking

The past 3 weeks have been excellent training.  After going 100, 103 for the 2 weeks post-philly half, I decided to take a day off this week and dipped down to 81 for mileage but the QUALITY of my runs was terrific.  I did 2 really great workouts this week.  The first was 4x2mile at goal 10 mile race pace on Wednesday.  The day was pretty humid so I didn't feel great, but I got the job done.  Splits were 10:02, 10:04, 10:14, 10:20. Average ended up being 5:05 pace.  The second workout was an out and back 17 Miler on the C and O Canal Towpath on Saturday, at Pennyfield Lock(a little less than half a mile from mile marker 20).  I ran a bit furthur than the last mile marker(28) I had to turn around since the mile markers from mile 20-28 are all a bit short(for accurate markers you can go by this website- http://www.rundc.com/Trails/DC/C&OTowpath.html.  The first 1/2 mile was a warm up run but then I quickly fell into 5:40 pace...working down to 5:30 pace.  It felt fine, and I increased the pace slightly during the entire duration of the run.  Turn around point was 48:00 minutes in, and I felt fantastic.  I honestly love this shit.  I love just hammering and running forever.  On the way back, I picked up the pace, continuing in the 5;30s.  My Garmin gave me a 5:15 split at one point...but I'm not totally sure it was right.  Who knows.  Who cares? I was just running by feel anyway.  I think my body feels its best when doing this.   It just gets in that rhythm and takes off, strong, unstoppable, and powerful.  I came back in 47:00, finishing a dip under 1:35:00, averaging a 5:35 pace, or 2:26 pace for the marathon.  This is a great run, and shows my fitness is sharpening at the perfect time.  Running 17 miles close to marathon pace is an entirely different experience than running 17 miles. It's almost a dream...when I finish I'm like, wow, that didn't take very long...yet it seems I traveled so far. It is an ubelievable feeling.  Sunday I did a long slow run of 23 miles, which was tiring the day after the hard 17, but at the same time the pace was easy, so it was all about just getting on my feet for 2.5 hours.  It was actually a very nice loop.  I started at the Georgetown Branch Trail in Bethesda, took that down to the Rock Creek Trail all the way into DC, across the Arlington Bridge into VA, and picked up the Mt. Vernon Trail and headed back over the Key Bridge, and then back towards the Capital Crescent Trail to take that back up to where I started. 

Monday: PM: 6 miles

Tuesday: OFF/Core/Strength/Weights

Wednesday: PM: 4 mile run, 4x2mile @ 10:02, 10:04, 10:14, 10:20. 12.5 miles total.

Thursday: AM: 5 miles/PM: 7 miles

Friday: 10 miles

Saturday: 17 miles @ Marathon Pace: 1:35:00 (5:35 pace)

Sunday: 23 miles: 2:39:00 (7:00 pace)

Total: 81 miles

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Return of The Musha

Left: Mizuno Wave Universe 4....5K/10K
Center: Mizuno Wave Ronin 4....10M/Half Marathon
Right: Mizuno Wave Musha 4....Marathon
 
 
The Musha has once again joined my list of primary racing shoes.  Despite me being able to train in nearly every brand(Nike/Adidas/Brooks/NB/Saucony), it is no question that Mizuno are my favorite when it comes to racing performance.
 
The Universe: 5K/10K
The Wave Universe has served me well for 5K/10K.  I debuted the Universe at the 2012 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and despite me running a PR and a great race, I learned afterwards it was just a tad too long for the shoe.  I recommend the Universe for runners who are looking for the lightest possible shoe but just enough to get them through a 5K.  I wouldn't recommend using in a 10K unless your 10K time is close to 30 minutes.  It's really not meant to be used for anything longer than that. 
 
The Ronin: 10 Miles/13.1 Miles
I love the Ronin.  I debuted them at the Philly Half Marathon a few weeks ago and although the race didn't go how I wanted it to this shoe has been awesome for workouts and is a great 10 Mile/Half Marathon racing shoe for me.  I was thinking of using these for the Marathon but decided to go with the Musha.  The shoe is certainly neutral and while I am a neutral runner I was looking for a bit more support for 26.2 miles.
 
The Musha: 26.2 Miles
This has been one of the best shoes for me.  In 2011 this shoe was used when I PRed in 10K, 10 Miles, 13.1 Miles, and 26.2 Miles.  As I got faster in the 10K, however, I needed something lighter, something more efficient for me.  That's when I went to the Universe, where I ran a PR of 30:56 for this past spring.  I also felt I needed something lighter/more neutral for 10 Miles/13.1 Miles, so I went to the Ronin for that.  But as my decision came this fall for the right Marathon racing shoe, I decided to go with the Musha over the Ronin.  The reason is because the Musha actually has a little bit of extra support(for mild pronation).  Even though I do not pronate(I am pretty much dead neutral), I find that extra muscle the Musha has will get me through those last 6.2 miles of the marathon when my feet begin to tire(thus are prone to pronating a bit).  The idea of racing is actually to make your feet work as little as possible so you can race as fast as possible.  That's why you don't see any elites racing in vibram five fingers, because they actually make the feet work harder(which for some people work well in training when they are trying to achieve that purpose)...so they are expending more energy.  I guess it comes down to what you are trying to accomplish and what is most efficient for you.  Some minimal shoes serve many runners well for racing(such as the Kinvara).  As I attended the Saucony CE the other night, it was explained that the designers of this shoe looked at the world's most efficient runners and put a lot of thought about that into the Kinvara.  It serves as a great training shoe for many elites as well as a racing shoe for others.
 
So remember to choose what works for YOU, not what is the new "fad" or the general trend.  Every runner is different and unique!  Define who you are as a runner, and define your strengths, weaknesses.  What are your goals?  What are you trying to accomplish?  For me, well, I'm just trying to run as fast as I can.
 
-Sloane       

Monday, October 1, 2012

9/24-9/30: 103 Miles/Week

 
Another solid week of training.  15 milers just don't seem very long to me anymore.  Even 20 is starting to feel shorter.  I had a great 20 Miler this Sunday, at duel ferries, splitting 59:00 for the first 10 and dipping to 58:00 the second lap.  I did this same loop the week before in 62:00, 59:00.  I love this run.  Half of it is on the flat C and O Towpath and the other half is on a rolling hills country road(pictured above).  While my long runs are getting quicker, my general aerobic runs are continuing to get faster.  I find I am able to settle into a nice rhythm after the first few minutes of most runs.  On Wednesday I did a 4 Mile Tempo run that was supposed to mimic 10 Mile race pace.  I ran even for the entire run, splitting 5:04, 5:03, 5;03, 5:04.  All other runs were just regular distance runs.  103 for the week.        

Monday
PM: 10 Miles 72:00(7:10 pace)

Tuesday
AM: 12.5 Miles 83:00(6:40 pace)

Wednesday
AM: 4 Mile Tempo: 20:14(Splits 5:04, 5:03, 5:03, 5:04), 8 Miles total
PM: 9 Miles 61:00(6:45 pace)

Thursday
AM: 10 Miles 71:00(7:00 pace)
PM: 5.5 Miles 40:00(7:15 pace)

Friday
AM: 13 Miles 89:00(6:50 pace)

Saturday
AM: 20 Miles 1:57:00(5:50 pace)

Sunday
AM: 15 Miles 1:49:00(7:15 pace)

TOTAL
103 Miles

Sunday, September 23, 2012

If 100 Miles/Week doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger

Training Week 9/17-9/23:

Monday: AM: 10 miles: 69:00
PM: EZ short run + 10x100 meter strides, 4 miles total

Tuesday: AM: 15 miles in Poolesville, hilly, 7:00 pace

Wednesday: PM: 8X800 meter repeats w/ 2:00 min rests:
2:24, 2:23, 2:21, 2:20, 2:20, 2:20, 2:20, 2:18, 10 miles total

Thursday: PM: 12 miles, 1:24:00(7:00 pace)

Friday: AM: 14 miles slow and easy(7:30 pace) on towpath in Dickerson, MD

Saturday: AM: 20 miles at Edward's Ferry/White's Ferry, 2:01:00(6:00 pace)

Sunday: AM: 15 miles at The MD/DC Line, 1:40:00(6:40 pace)

TOTAL: 100 MILES

I felt surprisingly very little soreness the day after the Philadelphia RocknRoll Half Marathon last weekend.  I took it as a blessing and got in 10 miles Monday morning, and another 4 miles in the evening(plus 10x100 meter strides).  On Tuesday, I cranked out a solid hilly 15 miler in Poolesville and was still fresh enough to do a track workout on Wednesday of 800 meter repeats at 2:20 a piece, all with 2:00 min rest(there was only 1 interval where I rested a bit longer).  This is letting me know that my ability to recover is getting better.  My fitness is also improving as my long run pace from previous weeks has improved from 6:30 pace to 6:00 pace.  My pace tends to quicken during my runs as well.  5:50s are starting to become typical at the end of my easy runs.  Even on Sunday, the day after I ran the brisk 20, I was running 5:50s at the end of another 15 miler.  And if 100 miles total running this week doesn't kill me, I am stronger.  The weather is also really nice now, cooler temps and crisp mornings, especially on Sunday.  It's perfect running weather, no doubt about it. 

I also just wanted to say thanks to everyone reading this blog-I hope it gives a lot of inspiration no matter what your goals are.  Ryan from Illinois-thanks for commenting on my last post and I'm sure you are going to hit that 1:10 in the near future.  Furthur, don't lose sight of the bigger goal you have-just keep working hard and consistency will pay off.

In other news I was so disheartened to hear about yet another proposal to cut mens track and cross country from the University of Richmond.  Please support their program by going to http://signon.org/sign/save-richmond-track.fb23?source=s.icn.fb&r_by=2642751.  After the University of MD cutting their programs, this is just really unfortunate news.  I met coach and legendary runner Steve Taylor my senior year of high school on a visit to Virginia Tech.  Even though I was not as talented as some of the other runners on scholarships, he looked me in the eye and told me I could become a sub 30 minute 10K runner.  Unfortunately(but fortunately for Richmond), his whole staff was removed that summer after I had already decided to attend Virginia Tech.  He then moved to Richmond with his wife, Lori, who also coaches the womens programs.  They are fabulous coaches, and I was sad I never got the experience of having Steve coach me.  It is unfortunate for great track programs like Richmond and Maryland to deal with these misplaced cuts all because of simply, money and Title IX.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

CRUSHED



September 16, 2012: Philadelphia, PA

Race: Rock and Roll Half Marathon
Result: 1:10:53, 38th male

I arrived to the starting line optimistic as always, but deep down, I had a feeling this wasn't going to be my peak race.  It sucked, because I had the race of my life here last year(my 13.1 PR to date) and felt it was a somewhat "magical" race for me.  I had every reason to believe I could PR again, based on workouts and just my overall progression of other shorter distance PRs.  2012 has been pretty much the same races as 2011(with the exception of this coming Oct/Nov schedule), and in all of those races until now I had run faster than last year.  I guess I was due for a major ass whooping.  Life ain't perfect, that's for sure.  You could analyze training any way you want, but the reality is that in the end running is all about perserverance.  You're going to have ups and downs, and it's getting through "the downs" that make your breakthroughs in racing.  This race was definitely a downer for me.  I guess my last bad race was the USA Half Championships in June-although it really didn't seem that bad since I was coming off a fantastic Spring of PRs and could only expect so much(and honestly was just happy to participate in the event).

The beginning of the race started very quickly.  I saw the great Ritzenhein speed up to the front pack of lead runners.  A string of male elite runners followed and I was somewhere not too far behind.  I had a great start.  I felt ok.  I actually went out 5:05 pace, which really was my goal-I was shooting to be anywhere between 5:05-5:10s. A group of the Hansons runners came up on me and I hung with them for a while-I honestly felt like I could run with them.  That would have to be another day.  They would leave me after about 4 miles or so.  I went through 5 miles in 25:30something but shortly after that was when the wheels began to fall off.  The pack left me, and I couldn't hang.  I had a slight cramp-but worked through it and it would eventually go away.  Still slowing.  Starting to not feel good.  I tried to get back in it and felt like I was going strong.  I kept my eyes on the runners ahead.  Then Sean Barrett passed me, a really good runner whom I barely beat last year in this race.  He STORMED passed me.  I tried to go with him but it just wasn't working.  The turnover wasn't there.  I hit 10K in 32:10-I was actually on 1:07 pace, even though I was slowing.  So I tried, and believe me, was motivated to try to keep the turnover going.  I would not give up.  I wanted 1:07.  I kept grinding but Sean gained furthur and furthur ground on me.  At mile 7 I saw the clock read 36:20(a very slow 5:20 split) and knew 1:07 was starting to fade, and I was continuing to slow despite how hard I was trying to keep my turnover going. 

It's unbelievable how some races you run fast and some races you don't-yet you feel like you're pushing just as hard-or feel just as bad.  No matter what though, I never quit.  I will never, ever drop out of a race unless for a damn good health reason.  Yes, I did not feel good.  I had a cramp in my side, my turnover sucked, my breathing labored-I felt shitty as hell.  I felt like Batman in the scene where he was fighting Bane and no matter how hard he fought, he was already physically unmatched and outdone.  I just wasn't in prime condition.  More runners had passed me, whizzing by me as if I were standing still.  Although I did pass someone laboring around mile 9.  At mile 10, I was at 52:52, realizing I had slowed even more.  I saw Carlos Renjifo passing me, whom I usually beat(not to discredit him though-he is a very good runner).  Then around mile 11, a runner came up on me who I stayed with for a while.  It at least helped that it was someone who I could run with instead of just flying by me.   I was crawling though.  My pace was really slowing now.  At mile 12, he picked up the pace and I had zero turnover.  I finished as well as I could and felt like it was just a jog at the same time.  I was CRUSHED.  I ended up crossing the line in 1:10:53, a time to me, these days, is pretty slow. 

The reality is, 1:10 really isn't a bad time!  It's amazing, how far I've come.  The beginning of 2011, when I ran 1:10 for the first time, I was ecstatic-but now it is a slow time for me.  It's sometimes a price you pay when you improve your times.  It is these types of races that make you a stronger runner.  They test you.  They test how bad you want it.  I have a marathon on 11/18(over 2 months from now) that I am training for.   I think, honestly, I am just not in peak condition yet. I think with a little bit more work and a few more workouts, I will be in prime condition for Oct/Nov.  Last year, I peaked for the Philadelphia Half Marathon, then I ran a mediocre marathon in Oct that certainly was not up to my potential.  I think the coach inside me tells me this, but the runner always wants that PR, always wants to make that extra jump, always wnats to be perfect, which is impossible.  At the same time it is a driving force for motivation and resilience.  I have been through this before.  It is nothing new.

I hope to claim redemption at the Army 10 Miler in 5 weeks.  I hope by then, I will be more primed, and ready to roll.  I am certainly hungry for more, and will hit some high mileage again after a low of 59 this week.  After Army, there will be 4 weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon.  I have 9 weeks.  I know what I need to do.  It is time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and do what I have always done, perservere.

-Sloane       

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Return to Philadelphia


The photo above is me finishing last year's Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon race in a personal best 1:08:39.  It was pretty much the race of the year for me.  I ran a gutsy race, going out in 5:00 the first mile, and averaging 5:14 pace.  Looking at my training log, and one year later, one would think I am ready to PR.  There are plenty of workouts I've done over the past year averaging 5:00s and 4:50s, which I think, over time, the system adapts to. The question is when it finally does. Hitting a 4:39 split during a workout helps too.  When getting down to the science, it's also all about using a higher percentage of my VO2 Max as my lactate threshold, which the best marathoners and half marathoners in the world do.  This, I hope I have done-and hope the race shows for it.  For instance, this past Spring, I got my 5K pace down to 4:48, and my 10K pace down to 4:58.  The 10K(which uses part lactate threshold training and part VO2Max), which was also on road, is still the better performance when compared to the 5K on the track.  Taken a step furthur, when racing longer than 30 minutes(my 10K time), the faster I get, the gap between my half marathon pace and my 10K pace diminishes(even as I get faster in the 10K).  What does this mean?  It means my top potential lies in the half marathon(full marathon still in progress), not the 5K.  The 10K is somewhere in the middle-and a race I love.  Yes, I can get better at the 5K.  If I could claim a lifetime goal for the 5K, it would be under 14:00.  But I am not a 5K runner.  There are many runners like this, who show good example, of exponentially getting better and better in performance as the distances get longer.  This is why also it is very rare to see someone's mile time equivalent to their marathon performance, OR to see a top miler like Bernard Lagat race a half marathon equivalent(although I'm sure he could do pretty well!).  One of my runners, Tracy Heichelbech, who got into the 2013 Boston Marathon, is a lot like this too.  The longer the distance, the better her performance.  But she has a lot of potential, and worked hard on her 10 mile time this past spring which will help her future marathon.  I am excited to coach her to her first Boston in April.  
    
Conditions are also important of course, and, thankfully, they look quite similar to last year.  Temperatures should be in the mid 50s during the race, which is pretty optimal.  So, things are looking quite good.

I do think patience is one of the best things runners can learn.  And that is what I have learned-letting the races come to me, naturally.  Some are meant to be hard-some are meant to kick my ass, some are meant to humlbe me.  I train and train, and keep adapting the body, and all it takes is for that right race comes around, and everything shows for the hard work.  It doesn't come around often, but when it does, its when you MUST STRIKE.  Lucinda is a great example of this, when last year, she ran 1:20 for the half marathon, and then pretty much ran that time during the 2nd half of her marathon race in twin cities, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in 2:43.  She struke when the iron was hot.  She is now preparing for the Chicago Marathon, which I think she can make a statement as what a national class runner she has become.

I am excited to get out there Sunday and see what I'm capable of.  I fear nothing.  I will do my absolute best, and am excited to debut my Mizuno Wave Ronin 4s(pictured below).  Good luck to Maria who will be running as well.  Maria will be peaking for the Army 10 Miler, but she is still ready to run a very strong race this weekend.

 
 



"What has passed is already finished with.
What I find more interesting is what is still to come."


-Emil Zatopek

Sunday, September 9, 2012

9/3-9/9: 78 Miles/Week

I was a bit tired at the beginning of this week so I took Tuesday off and felt much better after doing so.  It was my first day off in about 7 weeks.  For the past 9 weeks, I have averaged 90 miles per week.  On Saturday I did a moderate workout of 2 x 3 miles at a brisk pace.  I basically ran from Pennyfield to Riley's Lock and back.  I hit 16:00 for the first 3(5:20 pace), took a few minutes rest, and came home in 15:45(5:15 pace).  This felt a bit quicker than marathon pace, but it felt good.  Perhaps this was my first real "marathon pace workout."  I also did a really nice very hilly 15 miler this week, on the backroads of Poolesville.

Next weekend is the Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half Marathon, which I am gearing up for.  Am I ready? I have been closing quite quickly at the end of general aerobic runs, which is always a good sign for me before racing.  Based on really the last year of training, I am ready to PR.  It is tough though, and there are no guarantees.  The 1:08:39 I ran last year is my current PR, an average of 5:14 per mile, under perfect conditions.  The only thing I'm a bit worried about is the weather.  The forecast so far for Sunday calls for high of 80, low of 60's(of course this can change).  And of course it won't be 80 during the race(I'll be done by 9am), it will probably be in the 60s, which isn't bad.  Also, I think of all those workouts and training runs where I cranked out 5:00 or sub 5:00 miles in the heat these past several months.  Even workouts before I ran the USA Half Champs in June, I think will begin to pay off now.  The half dozen 20+ milers I did this summer are the building blocks for my marathon training, but are also serving as support training for the half marathon.  At any rate, I am looking foward to racing!       

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Power of the Mind



"All that I am, I am because of my mind."
-Paavo Nurmi

I think the most important thing in distance running is psychology.  Yes, you need to train your body.  Yes, you need to look at your splits.  But you also need to look at what you believe you can do.  You also need to train the mind.  Without the mind, you cannot push the body.  The mind controls the body-and when the body is in pain, the mind must not listen to it.  The mind can be very powerful when it controls the body.  When Roger Bannister broke the 4:00 mile, it was only weeks later it was broken again by someone else.  There are many examples like this in distance running.

I think there are 2 parts, really that the role of the mind takes place in distance running.  The first part, is it being able to push the body to train.  Intervals are hard, and they should be hard for the most part.  They are not meant to be easy.  The mind tells the body how many it will do that day, and it will do it.  The second part, and perhaps the most important, is the mind pushing the body to race.  Racing is different than training.  The goal of training is to get your body to adapt to a better pace, or higher amount of mileage, and to get stronger.  Sometimes, and very often with elite runners, the workouts are harder than the races in a certain way.  Besides the workouts being very demanding, this is also because the body is getting stronger, and the mind has to push HARD for the body to get where it is trying to be.  Racing is when the body is adapted and ready to perform.  But the body cannot race without the mind.  The mental push and focus required during races is very demanding, but physically, the body is there, ready.  All the body needs during a race is for the mind to tell it the ENTIRE WAY..."get to the finish line...with NOTHING left."

If you can do this, you have MAXIMIZED your potential on that race day.  If you feel you could not run one more single step faster during that race, that you had absolutely nothing left and everything was left out on the course, then your mind has conquered your body.

This is not easy to do.  It takes weeks, months, and years to master.  And yet, it keeps going, because as we break new barriers as runners, we have set new ones to break.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My mileage was a bit lower this week(I only hit 78), but I did the Kentlands 5K as a race tune-up to get my body(and my mind) ready for my first big fall race in a few weeks.  The race went well, and my goal was to compete and get my stride open, even though my body was not completely fresh from the pervious training weeks.  I placed 2nd and got nipped in the end for 1st place, running 15:15 and losing by one second.  In hindsight, I really didn't care that much that I lost, more so that I competed and got in the effort since the REAL race is in 2 weeks.  I am not in peak shape for the 5K right now-which is a good thing!  Still, I was impressed that, despite very humid conditions(worse conditions than last year), I ran faster than last year.  And, picking up $200 was pretty sweet too.  I am looking foward to getting in one last hard workout this week and then tapering down.  The day after the 5K I did another 20 mile long run (my 6th in a row!) at an easy average of 7:00 pace-I did sleep in a bit and it was humid as $hit though.  But its really great I have done 20+ milers every week for the past 6 weeks, I think just getting used to this is going to make me so much stronger by the time november rolls around for the marathon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Workouts & Tune-Up

Last Wednesday, August 22 I had a really great workout.  It was 8 X Mile with 2:30 rests right around threshold pace.  I split 5:06, 5:00, 4:59, 4:56, 4:59, 5:03, 5:01, 5:01.  The short rest was really great to get my confidence up.  I feel like 5:00 pace is getting "easier," and the more sub 5:00's I hit the easier it becomes.  I hit 92 miles for that week, and did another 20 mile long run on Saturday in 2:14.

This week I am tapering the mileage down somewhat(probably in the 80s) and am racing the Kentlands 5K on Saturday morning.  I did a tune-up workout today of 1600, 800, 400, with full recoveries(3-4 minutes).  The 1600 I hit 4:39, which was great!  My first sub 4:40 mile in a workout.  The 800 was 2:19, and the 400 was a 67.  I didn't want to go much faster in pace as the distance got shorter in order to save my kicking legs for a strong tune-up race this Saturday.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 13-August 19: 105 Miles/Week

Monday: AM: 8.5 miles
PM: 5.5 miles


Tuesday: AM: 5 miles
PM: 10 miles

Wednesday: AM: Track: 5 x 1 Mile w/ 3-4 min rests, 4:55, 4:51, 4:53, 4:53, 4:56.  7 Miles total. 
PM: 3 miles easy

Thursday: AM: 17 miles, did Edward's Ferry/Club Hollow Loop(14-15), added on 2 after

Friday: AM: 9.5 miles
PM: 4.5 miles

Saturday: AM: 15 miles


Sunday: AM: 20 miles at Capital Crescent/DC, 2:10:00


Total: 105 miles


Had a great week.  My body has adapted very well to the 100 mile weeks and this week I added a track workout of 5 x mile which surprisingly went very well.  I just wanted to get a good workout in that challenged me enough to get that threshold pace back.  I'm also happy with my long runs-I've hit 20+ mile long runs every week for the past 4 weeks, and one at 22.  I'm also finding that I'm closing fast in all of them, starting at 7:00 pace and finishing in the 5's somewhere.  My average ends up being right around 6:30 pace.  For now this is where I need to be and I will gradually be introducing more quality running as the fall season comes in.  I think I am going to do the Kentlands 5K as a pre-race tune-up for the Philly Half like last year-but it's certainly a race I could care less about PRing-it isn't an easy course, and I'm not training for a 5K.  Nevertheless, it's a good tune-up race to get the race legs going. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

7/23-8/12 & The Great Mo Farah


Personally my favorite track race during the London Olympics was the Mens 10,000m.  The favorite and World Record Holder Kenenisa Bekele seems to be unstoppable at this distance, because of his blistering kick.  In fact, any Ethiopian period is a threat to this distance-they have dominated the event.  Farah got the silver at last year's World Championships to yes, an Ethiopian.  But this year Farah was ready for a re-match, and certainly as you can see in the video, he delivered.  In addition, Mo pulled American Galen Rupp to grab silver for the United States, the first American medal in the distance aince Billy Mills in 1964.  Incredible and epic race.  Rupp and Farah, in addition train together under coach Alberto Salazar in the United States.  The 1-2 finish and celebration at the end between the two athletes symbolized a great friendship between Great Britain and the United States.  Rupp's hard work on his speed payed off dearly-particularly his 1500m speed-and his kick is what got him the silver if you watch the race.  One of my favorite athletes, Dathan Ritzenhein, who just missed the team for the mens marathon, also competed in the Olympic 10,000m.  He didn't have the kick that Rupp had, however he ran a solid race for the 10,000m.  Great job Dathan!  I am sure though that he wonders what he would've done had he made the marathon team, considering Americans Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman dropped out of the race.  I believe he would've run a strong race and finished in the top 6.  Ritzenhein is enetered in this year's Chicago Marathon.  I wish him well.

TRAINING 7/23-8/12:

After the Twilighter I immediately went into a 3-week base building phase.  I did only miles and no fast workouts.  I will do workouts starting this week.  I find that I get fit, very , very quickly when doing workouts so getting into them 4-5 weeks before I race a half marathon is a good approach for me.  I also needed to get my base miles and long runs up.  I have been doing 2-3 doubles per week.  On Saturday, 8/11, I had a terrific long run: 22 miles, starting out at 7:30 pace and finishing up at 5:30 pace, averaging about 6:30 pace the entire way-considering it was pretty humid I actually felt pretty good.  I think my last 5 miles was about 28 minutes.  I find I am closing faster towards the end of many runs.

Runs and mileage are below:

7/23-7/29:

Monday: PM: 7 miles
Tuesday: AM: 11 miles
Wednesday: AM: 5.5 miles, PM: 6 miles
Thursday: AM: 11.5 miles
Friday: AM: 13.5 miles, PM: 5 miles
Saturday: AM: 20 miles
Sunday: AM: 14 miles  

Total Mileage: 94

7/30-8/5:

Monday: AM: 11 miles
Tuesday: AM: 10 miles: 63:00
Wednesday: AM: 10 miles, PM: 6 miles
Thursday: AM: 9.5 miles, PM: 4.5 miles
Friday: AM: 3 miles, PM: 12 miles
Saturday: AM: 20 miles: 2:12:00
Sunday: AM: 14 miles

Total Mileage: 100

8/6-8/12:
Monday: PM: 10 miles
Tuesday: AM: 12 miles
Wednesday: AM: 3 miles, PM: 14.5 miles
Thursday: AM: 9 miles, PM: 6 miles
Friday: AM: 8 miles
Saturday: AM: 22 miles: 2:26:00 (started out 7:30 pace worked down to 5:30 pace)
Sunday: AM: 17 miles

Total Mileage: 102

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

2012 Rockville Twilight 8K Race Report


The Rockville Twilight 8K is pretty much the race of the summer.  It's the most competitive, and you get a mix of collegians who are home for the summer, africans and area elites all thrown in a distance that isn't too short but isn't too long either.  The course is tough, with several U-Turns and rolling hills.  It fairs well for a strength runner such as myself.  Before 2012, my highest placing in this race was 11th from last year, when I ran 25:32, my best time on the course.  I did have a good race last year, and was proud of the effort I gave.  This year though, I wanted more.


The conditions were somewhat like Oregon/Seattle weather as a faint mist covered the air with temperatures in the 70s.  It felt great.  Especially since I raced that mile a few weeks ago in 90+ degree heat.  This was no doubt a breath of fresh air.  I got to the elite room and found Matt and a few GRC guys.  I was bummed Joe Wiegner didn't show up, as he has run well in the 8K in the past.  I chatted with Wilson Komen and Mike Wardian for a bit(who just completed the GRUELING Western States 100 Miler).  I also met Anna, who recently joined the =PR= Racing Team and was happy to have her on our team.  (Our team ended up placing 2nd by a mere 5 seconds to Capital Area Runners).

After warming up, I threw on my Mizuno Wave Universes and got ready to the start.  I was debating on debuting my Ronin 4s(pictured below) but this shoe is really going to be more ideal for my half marathon/marathon racing.

The Universe 4 is my perfect road 5K-10K race shoe(pictured below).
 
But enough about shoes.  The race ended up being delayed by about 10 minutes.  As I got into position to start, several college guys lined up behind me saying stupid shit and I really wanted to shut them up.  No matter.  I would leave them in the dust once the race started.  Stay calm.  I looked over my right shoulder and saw a dozen africans anxiously waiting for the G word.  I suddenly felt confident, strong, and fearless.  I could beat these guys, I thought.  We took off.

We surged down Washington Street and a large pack of 10-12 runners mostly africans surged to the lead.  I started off at the tailend of the pack.  A few other guys(either college or local) went out fast briefly in front of me before I would pass them later on.  As we made the turn onto Martins Lane we climbed the hill and the pack began to make itself whole.  I tucked right in the pack with 2:16 marathoner Wilson Komen at my side.  The pace did not feel that hard.  I looked around and knew I was hungry to beat these guys.  Then the downhill came, and the pack surged.  I am not really a downhill runner.  Komen, who is like a head and a half taller than I am, sprinted downhill to gain meters on me.  I was trailing the end already.  Still I stayed consistent and hung tough.  I heard coach George Buckheit(who formerly coached Brandon), who gave me a helpful "STAY IN CONTACT CHRIS!"  I didn't let them leave me as we turned a hard left onto Mannakee I pulled up next to Komen as we passed another fading runner.  Mile 1 I split 4:50something.  We climbed up another hill towards Beall where we would make another left.  Komen and I worked together and hung at the back of the lead pack, which was already starting to break up.  Staying straight all the way down, we surged up a long hill-a hill that I run up frequently some days.  It's a bruiser, and it's easy to lose your rhythm on it.  I started to pass Wilson Komen at this point.  (A quick word about Wilson: From Kenya and a coach himself, he is one great guy-just positive about everything-if you talk to him-he will give you great advice-especially to "hammer" during a race!)  I "hammered" and got to the top of the hill and surged downhill towards Washington Street again where the crowds were.  I hit 9:50something for 2 miles.  I made the turn onto Washington again and began the real part of the race.  At this point there was only one white guy ahead of me, with everyone starting to spread out.  Now, is the time.


I began to surge slightly to begin my attack on some of the Africans falling off the pace.  As we climbed up Martins again, I began catching one.  Just one, for now.  Others ahead.  As I passed him, he looked over at me in surprise.  Hello, have you seen me before?  He didn't want to let me go, though.  As we got to the top of the hill, he surged down the hill and I stayed on him.  I hit another gear and passed him again and stomped on it.  I heard a moan.  He was hurtin.  I could feel him losing ground on me.  I prevailed and moved on to the next one.

I made the hard right turn onto Mannakee Lane(right before Mile 3) and could see a few others in the distance.  I split 14:58 at 3 miles or something under 15.  Another left turn and I would begin to catch the next guy.  As we meandered through the Montgomery College Campus, I caught the next guy on the uphill, and he had no response.  I kept moving.  GO!!!!!

I felt so strong.  Nothing was going to stop me from continuing to catch guys.  My strength as a cross country runner and endurance athlete kicked in at the right time during mile 4.  It was a series of U-Turns and uphills and downhills.  I then caught Seife Gelatu, whom actually I know and was having a very good race.  He is a strong runner at the 8K-10K distances.  He grunted a "hey" and tried to hang on to me.  I began really pushing the gas pedal at this point.  As I ran up the hill towards mile 4, I noticed Wardian and other runners who usually have beaten me in the past way back on the other side.  A new perspective, I saw.  I was far up.  And I wanted more. 

I hit mile 4 in 20:10 or something, so it was a slow mile due to all the turns and hills.  I turned for home onto 355 and continued to press on.  Seife had lost ground on me, and I was on my own.  I had to keep pressing though.  Less than 5 min left.  Last mile.  I ran in a series of fartleks, I would surge and then coast, surge and then coast.  I finally saw a guy who looked like he dropped out who I past.  At this point I knew I was close to top 5, which earned cash.  This mile is in a way a dragger, you're just running on 355 waiting to get to the damn finish line.  The pain has set in from all the hills and it isn't getting any better.  But it's less than 5 minutes!  I continued to cruise and made the slight turn onto East Hungerford Drive toward home. I could see one runner in the distance but he had too much on me to catch him.  He would eventually get 5th.  I made one last final surge toward the finish line and let out a loud roar for some reason while crowds cheered and crossed the line in 6th place in 25:08, a new course best for me by 24 seconds.

In terms of team results, I am happy to welcome Anna Holt-Gosselin to the =PR= Racing Team.  Previously a GRC runner, she is now joining the Benedict-Sloane running club.  Anna ran 28:36 for an outstanding 6th place among the females.  Matt Linman also ran strong, finishing in 34th place in a time of 26:49.  Our team placed 2nd overall by a mere 5 seconds!  So close but what can you do.  Runners who I coach: Brandon ran a solid 29:59 for 98th and Marie ran over 40 seconds per mile faster than last year! 

Results below:

1   1/158     15 Eyob Alemu            30 Washington DC         24:12 24:12
    2   1/79      33 Christopher Mills     22 Falls Church VA       24:12 24:12
    3   1/164      3 Tariku Bokan          28 Herndon VA            24:21 24:21
    4   2/158      2 Demesse Tefera        30 Washington DC         24:22 24:22
    5   2/164     14 Temesgen Ilanso       28 Washington DC         24:52 24:52
    6   3/164      8 Christopher Sloane    29 Rockville MD          25:09 25:08
    7   3/158     16 Seife Gelatu          30 Washington DC         25:16 25:15
    8   2/79      67 Chalie Bitew          24 Washington DC         25:18 25:17
    9   4/158      6 Wilson Komen          34 Washington DC         25:27 25:27
   10   3/79      21 Kyle Stanton          21 Columbia MD           25:35 25:33
   11   4/79    1620 Graham Peck           23 Lutherville MD        25:42 25:38
   12   5/79     983 Cameron Hanlin        24 Hagerstown MD         25:48 25:44
   13   4/164    422 Chas Ballew           27 Washington DC         25:45 25:44
   14   1/112     59 Vladimir Tontchinski  45 Eugene OR             25:44 25:44
   15   5/164     17 Alex Battaglino       26 Baltimore MD          25:49 25:48
   16   6/79      57 Garret Martucci       24 Arlington VA          25:52 25:51
   17   7/79    2249 James Noonan          22 Rockford IL           25:54 25:52
   18   1/131      7 Michael Wardian       38 Arlington VA          25:55 25:55
   19   6/164   1705 Carlos Renjifo        29 Baltimore MD          26:00 25:57
   20   8/79    1888 Ryan Stasiowski       23 Eldersburg MD         26:14 26:11
      
This was a great summer race and great maintenance race before the fall.  I hit 78 miles this week with one day off.  This next week will be close to 100 and the weeks that follow as well.
Contrary to what some think, I will not race again until September.  I got an elite entry into the Philadelphia RocknRoll Half Marathon again.  Race date is September 16.