Monday, April 29, 2013

The 5K Distance

Post Pikes Peak I feel good, and fast.  I really enjoy working down in distance.  My next race is the Swarthmore Outdoor Track Invite on May 13, though apparently it will be held at Widener University this year, where my cousin Drew is!  Drew is one athletic guy.  Every time I visit him I enjoy watching him playing basketball.  I can't play basketball to save my life, so I just enjoy watching!  Drew actually finished his first 5K recently, and he placed 3rd out of 150 runners!  Not a bad way to start at all!

The 5,000m is a race that has helped me improve a lot in the longer distances.  I have proven myself wrong that I can be pretty darn good at it, but I am also not surprised either.  Any race that is primarily aerobic I will be stronger in, and the 5,000m is still roughly 80% of aerobic energy being used.  The 10K is about 90% aerobic, and anything longer than 10K like the half marathon or marathon is obviously pretty much 90-100% aerobic.  When you drop down to a 1,500m or 1 Mile race, however, the aerobic energy required has dropped to 50%, with anaerobic energy completing the other 50%.  *Note: These percentages can vary based on pace.  They are referring to the optimal energy breakdown for a very high-level trained runner.  Someone who's mile PR is 8:00, probably is using higher than 50% of aerobic energy for the amount of time required to complete that race.*

One of my goals to become a better distance runner is to maximize my VO2Max, or Aerobic Capacity.  The best way to improve VO2Max is by doing 3,000m-5,000m(or a 10-15 minute race in duration, which for many is about a 2 mile distance) interval training.  10K racing still uses a significant portion as well, but the closer to 5K for a highly trained runner, the better.  The energy being used for the 5K is still primarily aerobic, but it is at the absolute maximum power it can be used.  This creates a more stressful feeling of ventilation vs longer distances of over an hour where ventilation is more calm.  This is also why if your breathing is uncomfortable in the early stages of a half marathon race, you are going out too fast, and will be forced to slow down.  Although VO2Max training is ideal for a race distance of about 5,000m, it is still an important part of development in the longer distances.  This is because aerobic energy is being primarily used for these durations.  Pretty much anything less than 3-4 minutes of all out racing is not really going to relate much to longer distance, and ideally, 10 minutes or longer is primarily using our aerobic system(s) for energy.

Having said all of this, if you want to predict your marathon time, going out and running a 5K all out is not going to give you an ideal prediction as much as running a half marathon does.  Still, the marathon, as I have learned, is a much different event than the half marathon, and is almost a separate event entirely.  Thus, there is no question that VO2Max training relates more to the half marathon distance/or shorter.

On Wednesday I did a very nice short interval training session, which I will build off of this week.  I did 10x400m with 1-2 minute rests, averaging 65 seconds a piece.  While 65 second 400s are not my 5K race pace, doing 10 of them faster than race pace improves my Anaerobic Threshold.  This level of work is above the amount of energy required from the aerobic system.  For a runner of my pace, anaerobic energy is about 20% used in the 5K, which is why this is important.  10% is used in the 10K, and less than 2% in the marathon.  However, this week I will do the more critical part of 5K training: longer intervals of 800m repeats, which will be closer to my VO2Max/5K race pace.  Still, these will be quite fast, but probably no faster than 2:15 a piece.

Training 4/22-4/28:

Monday: AM: 11 Miles

Tuesday: AM: 7 Miles

Wednesday: PM: 3 mile warm up, drills,
10 X 400m w/ 1-2 minute rests: 67, 66, 65, 65, 65, 63, 65, 65, 65, 64
3 mile cool down

Thursday: AM: 3.5 Miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Long Run: 18 Miles

Sunday: AM: 10 Miles

Total: 58 Miles

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tracy's Training, Boston, & Pikes Peek

Boston Marathon
April 15, 2013

I woke up on Monday morning, April 15, to set out for my run, but was more excited than usual.  It was the day of the Boston Marathon.  Thankfully, I have Mondays off, and my geeky runner self was eager to watch the race live through the website on my computer.  There is no excuse for this race not to be broadcast live on national television.  Perhaps it will be next year though.  One of my athletes, Tracy Heichelbech, was racing her first Boston(and only her 2nd marathon), and I was excited for some friends I knew running, so it was cool to track their progress.

Tracy hasn't been running that long.  She completed her first half marathon in 1:55 in the Spring of 2011.  Less than 2 months later, she did another half in 1:50.  She then had the desire to train for a full marathon that fall, and aim to qualify for the Boston Marathon(3:55 for her age group).  The target race for her was the Marine Corps Marathon in October of 2011.  As she ran more, she got fitter and fitter.  I knew she was capable of achieving this goal.  Sure enough, she qualified with a 3:49.  Since 2012 registration was already completed, she would register for the Boston 2013 race.  The following Spring, instead of doing another marathon, she worked on getting her 10 Mile-13.1 times down.  She ran a solid 1:46 for the half marathon, followed by 80:00 at Cherry Blossom.  I knew this would also help her, instead of wearing her out by doing another marathon.

However, the fall of 2012 was tough.  Originally aiming at another half marathon, she was unable to race and got a few injuries, and really had to stop running for a while.  I was keeping my fingers crossed for her because I knew how hard she had worked to run Boston in 2013, and she had already registered for that race when registration opened in September.  She was determined to run it, and deserved to.  It took her weeks of strengthening and foam rolling and working with a physical therapist to get everything on the same page.  Our goal was to have her start training for the race in December.  However, I knew that she needed to go into December with a moderate level of fitness.  Thankfully, she was able to get some running in, and worked up to 4 mile runs by the time she was ready to begin in December.  But we had to be careful not to overdo things.  It was tricky to build appropriately so she could avoid injury, but at the same time get the mileage up again.  The marathon does not lie.  You need to run mileage.  And this wasn't just any marathon.  It wasn't a tough mudder.  This wasn't just any race.

This was, the Boston Marathon.

Slowly, but surely, Tracy worked back up her distances.  In January I remember her asking me, "Do you think I can run close to the same time I ran in 2011, or even PR?"  I told her it was too early to tell, and that Boston was a much more difficult course.  My goal was to get her to finish this race healthy, and train her uninjured, because she had worked so hard just to get there.  I'd rather undertrain her instead of overtrain her.  I was very conservative with this.  I also needed to get her ready to run downhills hard, and maybe I could've done better with this.  I didn't want her to run too hard on downhills, because I didn't want to risk injury.  But at the same time, she needed to get ready for that.  It was a delicate balance.  Certainly, the hard uphill efforts were great.  She thrived off those workouts and it really payed off.

Then, her first 20 Miler was on March 3.  I had her do the Duel Ferries(Whites Ferry to Edwards Ferry) Loop twice, which is exactly 10 mile loops.  They are rolling hills and all soft surface.  I got in one loop myself, then got back in my car and drove on the course to see how she was doing.  She looked much different now than when she began.  She looked stronger, her form was solid, and she was just clicking off the miles.  She completed the run in 3:03.  At this point, I think she was starting to find a new gear in her, and had gotten into her zone.  3 weeks after that, on March 24, she completed a 22 miler in 3:14.  This is when I knew she was not only ready to crush the race, but that she had a shot to run a personal best, even on a tougher course like Boston.  Adjusting for the course, I thought she would be capable of anywhere between 3:43-3:48.

The WAY she ran this race is something else.  I had hoped she would start out easier, but she hammered through the first 5K in a blistering 8:23 pace.  "Shit!", I yelled at my computer.  But a friend of mine, a strong masters runner, Brandon Hirsch(who I also coach), told me the first 5K always starts fast, and he remembers how downhill it really is.  That calmed me down, but I was still worried.  Ideally, I would rather have her go out in 8:45 pace no faster.  The next 5K she slowed a bit to 8:30 pace, which made me a little more relaxed, thought she was still running quite fast.  She came through halfway in 1:51, a blistering, and strong pace.  Once she hit the Newton Hills, I knew naturally the pace would slow.  I just hoped she saved enough for the hills.  She maintained 9:00 pace throughout the hills, which was strong enough to tell me she was doing fine.  At mile 21, the hills were over, and now it was all downhill.  Still though, I'm sure the legs are shot at this point, and it's hard to change gears like that.  Well, Tracy certainly impressively dropped her pace down to 8:50, and then 8:30!!   After all those ups and downs, and starting off really strong, she finished in 3:48:24, an average of 8:42 per mile.

Of course, after the race was a different story.  My immediate happiness for Tracy turned into immediate fear and worry.  Deep down, I had a feeling she was alright, because she finished well ahead of the bombings, but I needed to know she was ok.  Finally, I found out she was, and other friends I knew(many who ran under 3 hours) were thankfully ok.

After I found out she was fine, I told her,

"Despite the horrific events that happened, you must not forget what truly remarkable race you ran.  I could not be prouder for the way you ran today."


Pikes Peek 10K
April 21, 2013

After such a rough week, I needed to shake things off with a strong race, so Pikes Peek was the perfect opportunity to do so.  My PR was 30:56.  I wanted to go out hard in this race.  I wanted to hammer my legs to get them tougher.  My plan was to go out in 15:10 for the first 5K.  We started off strong and I tucked in behind the pack of lead Africans(I never seen so many fast runners in a pack-there were strong numbers this year).  Shortly though, they began to surge a little bit ahead, and I knew if I went with them I would be running 14:30 5K pace, which would not have been a good idea.  I stayed back and ran my own race.  I went through the first mile in 4:45.  WOW.  That was fast.  This was my PR 5K(14:58) pace.  But I actually didn't feel too bad, which is a great sign.  My aerobic capacity is improving, and this race was tapping into that a bit more.  I remember going through 3 miles in 14:30-14:33 or so, so I imagine I was 15:05 give or take at the 5K mark. A bit faster than I wanted, but it really didn't feel too fast either.  I think one day I will be able to just do this back to back and go sub 30.  I reeled in a few Africans, and went through mile 4 in 19:30-something.  So, now I had slowed a bit, but was still eyeing to pass more runners.  Then the mighty Joe Wiegner (GRC's #1 man) pulled up next to me, and we ran stride for stride.  It helped that someone was running with me now.  I looked over my shoulder.  He looked good, and fast.  Joe is one talented runner.  It then dawned on me how I had never been this close to him in a race before.  The last time we raced this 10K together was in 2011 when he ran 30:40 and I went 31:26.  We hammered together past the place where we used to live, right near the Pancake House.  I knew he and I were thinking the same thing, but neither one of us said anything due to being in oxygen debt.  I groaned at mile 5 (just under 24:40).  I pressed the pace.  I felt him working hard.  He certainly would have to work hard to beat me.  I don't make it easy.  The last mile he began to gain a bit of ground on me, and I was grinding at this point, trying to keep the turnover.  He definitely looked strong, and it was great to see him back out here.  He earned the victory of PR-ing himself in 30:31, as I crossed the line in a new PR as well in 30:43.          

I feel stronger after this race.  I needed a PR, and just some pure, fast running.  The other thing is, this tells me that I am capable of really tearing up an all out fast 5K in May.  I did really want to go out hard, because my goal at this point is to really maximize my speed and aerobic threshold.  Basically, I ran 4:50 pace for the first 5K, and then 5:00 pace for the 2nd, averaging 4:56 per mile.

I am now ready to make an all out assault on the 5K at the Swarthmore College Last Chance Meet on May 13.  I feel like sub 14:40 is possible.  I have 3 weeks.  I will do some solid VO-2 Max workouts and see where I'm at.  The faster I can get my 5K time down now, the better.  Here we go.

Quick Edit: Joe and I cooled down and talked after the race, and indeed we found out we were thinking the same thing:  That we both wanted to stop by the Pancake House and have a good meal!  But we figured we would be finishing at White Flint anyway where there was more food..

Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Report

The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is one of my favorite races of all time.  Racing in DC is beautiful, especially when the weather goes right.  Although windy, the temperatures were ideal for racing this past Sunday.  I was really looking forward to this race, and was hoping for a sub 51 effort, as my PR is 51:44 from Army Ten Miler last October(which is also a tougher course in my opinion).  The best I have ever finished here is 22nd, so I was also hoping for a top 15 finish.    

The race started out with the lead pack of Africans as usual and they were going too fast for me to run with them, so there was a gap between me and them before veteran Bert Rodriguez pulled up next to me.  Bert is known for this race, and is consistently a sub 51 guy on this course, so I figured hanging with him was all I needed to do.  Last year, I had hung with him for about less than half the race before he pulled away and beat my by nearly a minute.  This time Bert asked me what I was shooting for and I said anything in the 50s.  He agreed it was the same for him and we went through the first mile in 5:05, right on pace.  We crossed over the bridge and I could tell the wind was strong.  This may not be so easy.  We could still see the lead pack going strong.  There were only a few other white guys in front of us.  I guessed that we were right around top 15, and actually at the time Bert and I were 13th and 14th.  I then remembered that the top 3 Americans get prize money IF they finished within the top 15.  How close was I?

After running around the circle and crossing back over the bridge again, we made the brutal left turn down towards the Kennedy Center.  At this point we began to see Wilson Komen who dropped back from the lead pack and began reeling him in.  As we did so, another runner(Christopher Mills), caught up with us and hammered up ahead.  Mills surged strongly ahead and Bert and I tried to keep him in contact, but he was quite strong.  After the dreadful U-Turn, I went through 5K in 15:50 give or take and Wilson hung with us and we hammered toward Mile 4 at the next dreadful U-Turn.  As we made the turn, I saw on the other side of the turn an army of GRC guys trying to chase us down.  Somewhere between mile 4 and mile 5 Wilson faded, but I hung with Rodriguez.  We went through Mile 5 in 25:39.

As we made our way to the 10K mark, we went through in 31:59.  After that, we made our way towards Haines Point.  Then Bert threw in a surge and I almost lost him(pictured below).  But I hung tough and reeled him back in, and he knew I was still on him.   The wind was brutal(and I think even more brutal for us since it was just two of us trying to desperately block it).  I tried to tuck behind him, but it didn't do much.  Then he tucked behind me.  We tried desperately to block the wind for each other, but it was no use.  Together we grinded through it and caught one of the Africans who fell off the lead pack.  At this point we were 12th and 13th.

As we came around the tip of Haines Point, Bert began to surge hard.  I hung with him but I began to feel my labor from running so hard into the wind.  As we turned the other direction, the wind was pretty much gone thankfully.  We approached mile 8.  I had never stuck with this guy for this long.  I thought I had a shot to beat him.  But with only 2 miles to go, Bert punched it hard.  I tried with all my strength to match him.  He had gained a few meters on me.  I clawed like hell to get him back to me.  He punched it again.  Another gap.  I was losing him.  I kept trying to surge to keep my turnover.  I think I did that well, but Bert was just surging harder and I could not respond.  With 1 mile to go, I saw the mens GRC cheering me on and as always I thank them very much for that!  I began to grit my teeth and go up the torturous hill with 800 meters to go.  I could still see Bert up ahead, but the veteran had beaten me.  I ran strong through the finish, however and claimed 13th place overall(6th American), and 3rd man out of DC, MD, VA.  Bert ended up finishing 15 seconds ahead of me.            

*Thanks to Charlie Ban for the photos above!*

2013 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run
Open Men
1 DANIEL SALEL 35 22 1 46:06 KENYA $8,000.00
2 ALLAN KIPRONO 1 23 2 46:07 KENYA $4,500.00
3 LANI KIPLAGAT 13 24 3 46:44 KENYA $2,000.00
4 STEPHEN SAMBU 37 24 4 46:59 KENYA $1,500.00
5 SHADRACK KOSGEI 7 28 5 47:29 KENYA $1,000.00
6 MACDONARD ONDARA 22 28 6 47:35 KENYA $900.00
7 TESFAYE BEKELE 25 30 7 48:29 ETHIOPIA $800.00
8 TYLER MCCANDLESS 33 26 8 49:01 BOULDER, CO $700.00
9 PATRICK RIZZO 31 29 9 49:25 BOULDER, CO $600.00
10 CHRIS KWIATKOWSKI 305 24 10 49:47 CHEVY CHASE, MD $500.00
14 ALEXANDER BENWAY 130 22 14 52:03 RESTON, VA
15 CHARLIE HURT 121 29 15 52:12 RICHMOND, VA
16 CHAS BALLEW 118 28 16 52:22 WASHINGTON, DC
17 JAKE KLIM 125 32 17 52:25 NORTH BETHESDA, MD
18 WILSON KOMEN 115 35 18 52:28 WASHINGTON, DC
20 ERIC WALLOR 129 30 20 52:37 PALATINE, IL
25 JACOB SMITH 128 21 27 53:16 NEW RICHMOND, OH

I have mixed feelings about this race.  On the one hand, I am pretty psyched about finishing 13th.  It's great to have moved up over the years.  Below is my history of finishes in this race:

2010: 46th
2011: 32nd
2012: 22nd
2013: 13th

Despite my place, I honestly am not really happy about my time(51:55).  I was aiming for sub 51 and I was far off that.  I'm not sure how much the wind affected things however.  And I do believe I could not have run harder and competed to the best of my ability.

I have also been looking at this year as a whole, not just by season.  I must remind myself that just because I don't PR in an event this season doesn't mean I am not on the right track.  I do feel like I am headed in the right direction and am doing the right things.  I have also shifted my focus to the half marathon for this fall, which is something I have never done.  My goal is to have every race build off each other, to get stronger, and to adapt to a faster pace.  This is also a new approach for me as I have not looked at things in a bigger perspective until now.  Indeed, when I look at my first 2 races this year and how I have placed, I am moving up.  I hope to place well at Pikes Peek in 2 weeks.

Moving forward, it's time for me to target my speed and see what I can do @ 5K/10K.  I have already done some solid workouts at 5K/10K pace during this training cycle.  I need to do a high quality workout this week, and then I will get a perspective of what I might be capable of on April 21.