Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Self, Spirit, Soul

As I got back home and walked into my room, my eye caught sight of something.  It was the bib number, framed and still standing on the shelf, with the last name printed on it.  "2014 USA Half Marathon Championships." Jesus, had it already been 9 months since that race?  Suddenly I had a flashback of me out-sprinting a competitor to the line.  Man, what a great race, I thought to myself.   There is no greater feeling than giving your all and performing to the top of your ability.  Though the winner of that race, Meb Keflezighi(& the 2014 Boston Marathon Champion), had finished 6+ minutes faster than me, I knew I gave it everything I had.  That satisfying feeling that is so hard to get.  What a great feeling.  It assures you all the hard work you put in pays off.  In running, there is no greater feeling than that.

This feeling is also why I love coaching.  I want others to experience what I have experienced.  The joy of accomplishing more than you have ever dreamed of or thought you could achieve, surpassing your perception of your limits, seeing how far you can push yourself.  It is why I continue to love and feel an even deeper love for this sport.  The ups, the downs, the so so's.  This is what real running is about.  You just never know what is going to happen, and that makes it terrifying and exciting at the same time.  But I believe the journey is more about discovering oneself, and one's true limits.  This discovery is only made when one devotes themselves to the sport, in victory and defeat.  The defeats are JUST as important as the victories.  They may be more.  I learn more about myself when I fall down, or "fail" if you wish to use that word.  This is how we push ourselves.  A great example is Jake Krong, who I roomed with over the weekend in Chicago, went for the much harsher trials standard of 2:18:00(it used to be 2:22:00), going through the first half in a blazing 1:08:47.  He payed for the fast start a bit later, but still finished in a superb 2:21:12.  Had he not gone for it though, he would have never known.  I respected him tremendously for his courage and congratulated him on a great effort.  He aims to repeat the 2nd sub 1:09 next time.

As for my race plan, I was looking to take the race out in about 1:10 for the first half.  My coach and I knew I was in low 2:20's shape.  Unfortunately, it was not to be.  I woke up Sunday in the middle of the night with a terrible sore throat.  Really?  I thought.  Why now??  Nevertheless, you push it back and go for it.  I had flown all the way out here, just like I had flown all the way to Houston back in January.  Gotta go for it.  Push through.  At the start, Jake and I made our way to the American Development tent and did a warm-up jog for 10 minutes.  I could already tell I wasn't feeling good.  My breathing was heavy, and I felt like I was sinking.  As we got to the start, I stood there, with that sinking feeling, suddenly thirsty.  I sipped on water.  I tried to be optimistic.  Just push past it, I thought.  You can do this!  Go for it!

The horn sounded and the crowds were roaring.  I went out 5:28 for the first mile, perfect pacing and right where I wanted to start.  My goal was to start 5:30's and gradually work into the 5:20's.  But by mile 3, I could tell I was already not feeling good.  My energy was zapped, the power I normally feel before a race was not there.  It will pass, that's how the marathon is.  I went through 10K in 33:55 or so, still not feeling good.  Mile 8, 9, 10.  I went through 10 in 55:00-barely 5:30 pace.  Feeling awful, but still trying to block it out.  I felt like I was running in sand.  I noticed I was starting to slow down, hitting halfway in 1:12, certainly off my target of 1:10 for the first half but I told myself to just settle for a 2:25.  My breathing was labored.  By 25K, I was done.  My body was in complete shut down mode.  It was not happening.  I took gels and they didn't do a thing.  There was nothing I could do.  I had no choice but to drop out at mile 16, with an hour and 29 minutes on my watch.  I luckily found a station right where I had to stop and they drove me back to the finish.  I was cold, weakened, and shivering.  A woman put a blanket around me.  But all the while I was being driven back and feeling defeated, the back of my brain knew I had made an incredibly smart decision.  Perhaps one of the smartest I have ever made in my running career.

"Keep going, son, keep training, keep the dream alive. Don't listen to anyone who tells you you can't. You've gained lots of fitness and are completely healthy and injury free. Look how far you've come since running in high school and college.  The ones who keep getting back up are the ones who achieve their dreams." -Dad

Despite the marathon not going according to plan, the training cycle I did this summer and fall has helped me achieve amazing new levels of fitness.  I have a great amount of aerobic strength stored in my system right now.  More often than not the previous training cycle's gains do not show until the following season(s).  It is the body's way of adapting.  I took yesterday off, and have been resting up to recover from the cold I have, but my legs feel ok.  I'm glad I pulled out of the race when I did because I will probably recover pretty quickly.  My future racing plans will most likely be the Richmond Half Marathon.  I do not feel it is necessary to jump in another marathon until perhaps next spring.  I also feel like with the tremendous aerobic strength I have developed, I could really crush a fast half right now.  To be developed more soon.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Training Cycle

"Where you're weak, you will be strong."

This is what my coach told me in a phone conversation on August 31 where I told him how brutal my 26 mile run on a hot and nearly 100% humid day in DC was, and how the run was quite a struggle.   The last 7 miles was a brutal climb up the CCT.  I got through it, somehow.  I was also supposed to double that day.  I thought to myself, several hours after this run, am I even going to be able to run this afternoon?  Later that evening, to my amazement I was running another 6 miles at a sub 7 min pace while it down poured rain to cool things off.  32 miles for the day.

The Long Run puts the Tiger in the Cat.

5 weeks later with another race under my belt I feel strong and ready to go.  For the past 5 months I have averaged close to 95 miles/week.  I have never been able to average this much for so long.  I could not have done this without the help of my coach, Roland.  I am the fittest I have ever been for a marathon, and when I compare to my previous marathon training cycles, this is by far the most successful one I've had.  Particularly, because I have been able to recover better and handle more mileage than I ever have: the combination of averaging high mileage and workouts.  Regardless of how I do in Chicago, I know I am fit as hell.  I will be ready to take my best shot next week.

Below is my training cycle for the past 15 weeks.  I am happy to share this and remember everyone's training is different.  The cycles constantly are changing for each individual.  Thanks to everyone for supporting and reading this blog-I intend to keep it pure.

6/23: 9 miles
6/24: 15 miles + Strength Training
6/25: AM: 4 miles, PM: 5 miles
6/26: AM: 12 miles, PM: 6 miles
6/27: 6.5 miles
6/28: 20 miles
6/29: 12 miles + Strength Training

Total: 90 miles

6/30: 15 miles
7/1: AM: 3 miles, PM: 5 miles
7/2: AM: 5 miles / drills, PM: 6 miles w/ 2 x 5:00 fartleks @ 5:20 pace
7/3: AM: Med-Long Run 17.5 miles, PM: 5 miles
7/4: 8 miles + Strength Training
7/5: 20 miles
7/6: AM: 12 miles, PM: 3 miles

Total: 100 miles

7/7: 15 miles (1:40)
7/8: 6 miles easy + Strength Training
7/9 AM: 4 miles easy, PM: 10 miles total: warm up run, drills, then 3 x 5:00 fartleks: 5:00 @ 5:20 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:18 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:15 pace, cool down
7/10 8 miles easy + Strength Training
7/11 AM: 4 miles easy, PM: 10 miles easy
7/12: 20 miles (2:16)
7/13: AM: 12.5 miles easy, PM: 4 miles easy

Total: 94 miles

7/14: 8.5 miles easy + Strength Training
7/15: AM: 18 miles (2:06), PM: 4 miles
7/16: 10 miles total: warm up run, drills, then 4 x 5:00 fartleks: 5:00 @ 5:20 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:18 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:15 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:10 pace, cool down
7/17: 15 miles
7/18: 11 miles easy + Strength Training
7/19: AM: 12 miles easy, PM: 4.5 miles easy
7/20: 22 miles (2:25)

Total: 105 miles

7/21: 6 miles + Strength Training
7/22: AM: Track: Drills + 1200m(3:50), 1600m(5:07), 2000m(6:25) w/ 1 lap jog recoveries
PM: 6 miles
7/23: AM: 12 miles, PM: 5 miles
7/24: AM: 17 miles, PM: 5 miles
7/25: AM:  7 miles + Strength Training, PM: 6 miles
7/26: AM: 16 miles quick: 1:32:00, PM: 5 miles
7/27: AM: 12 miles, PM: 5 miles

Total: 108 miles

7/28: AM: 10 miles, PM: 4 miles
7/29: AM: 4 miles, PM: 9 miles
7/30: AM: Track: warm up + Drills + 800m: 2:27, 1200m: 3:41, 1600m: 4:56, 1200m: 3:41, all w/ 1 lap jog recoveries, + cool down, 8 miles total, PM: 6 miles
7:31: AM: 16 miles, PM: 5 miles
8/01: AM: 5.5 miles, PM: 4.5 miles
8/02: AM: 24.5 miles (2:38)
8/03: AM: 11.5 miles, PM: 3.5 miles

Total: 112 Miles

8/4: AM: 7 miles + Strength Training, PM: 4 miles
8/5: Track: 2 x 600, 6 x 400, 6 x 200, all at 4:37 pace, with 1 lap jog recoveries, 11.5 miles total
8/6: AM: 3 miles, PM: 9.5 miles
8/7: AM: 12 miles, PM: 5 miles
8/8: AM: 5 miles + Strength Training, PM: 8 miles
8/9: AM: 10 miles, PM: 6 miles
8/10: AM: 18 miles quick: 1:41:00, 19.5 total, PM: 5 miles

Total: 106 Miles

8/11: PM: 6 miles + Strength Training
8/12: AM: 10 miles, PM: 5.5 miles
8/13: AM: 6 miles
PM: Track: warm up, drills, 2 x 2400m: 7:40, 7:38 (5:06 pace) w/ 1 lap jog between
8/14: PM: 17 miles
8/15: AM: 6 miles + Strength Training, PM: 10 miles
8/16: AM: 12.5 miles, PM: 5 miles
8/17: AM: 20 miles, PM: 3 miles

Total: 110 miles

8/18: 4 miles + drills, Strength Training
8/19: 10.5 miles
8/20: 3 x 5:00 fartleks @ 5:10 pace, 10 miles total
8/21: 9 miles
8/22: 8.5 miles + Strength Training
8/23: 7 miles
8/24: ANNAPOLIS 10 MILER: 1ST PLACE, 53:38(5:21 pace), 20 miles total, 
PM: 5 miles

Total: 75 miles

8/25: 12 miles + Strength Training
8/26: 10.5 miles
8/27: AM: 6.5 miles, PM: 15 miles
8/28: 8.5 miles + Strength Training
8/29: AM: Track: 4 x 1200m @ 3:39 each(4:52 pace),
PM: 5.5 miles
8/30: 10 miles
8/31: AM: 26 miles(2:47:00), PM: 6 miles

Total: 110 miles

9/01: 5.5 miles + Strength Training
9/02: AM: Track: 2400m(7:34), 1600m(5:02), 800m(2:29), 10 miles total,
PM: 6.5 miles
9/03: AM: 15 miles + PM: 5 miles
9/04: AM: 9.5 miles + PM: 4 miles
9/05: AM: 7 miles + Strength Training + PM: 5 miles
9/06: AM: 20 miles(2:08) + PM: 5 miles
9/07: AM: 11 miles + PM: 4 miles

Total: 108 miles

9/8: AM: 8.5 miles, PM: 5.5 miles
9/9: 5 miles + Strength Training
9/10: AM: 6.5 miles, PM: 3 Mile tempo on track(15:30) 5:10 pace
9/11: 9 miles
9/12: 7 miles + Strength Training
9/13: 4.5 miles
9/14: NAVY HALF MARATHON: 1:09:08(5:16 pace), 4TH PLACE, 20+ miles total

Total: 74 miles

9/15: AM: 3 miles, PM: 3.5 miles
9/16: AM: 8.5 miles, PM; 3.5 miles
9/17: AM: 8 miles, PM: 4 miles
9/18: 10 miles + Strength Training
9/19: 6.5 miles
9/20: 20 miles quick: 1:51:00, PM: 3.5 miles
9/21: AM: 10 miles + Strength Training, PM: 5 miles

Total: 86 miles

9/22: AM: 9.5 miles, PM: 5 miles
9/23: 16 miles + Strength Training
9/24; AM: 5 miles, PM: 6.5 miles
9/25: AM: 10 miles, PM: 5 miles
9/26: Track: 4 x mile w/ 1 lap jog recoveries: 5:04, 5:04, 5:01, 5:03
9/27: AM: 6 miles, PM; 5 miles + Strength Training
9/28: 20 miles easy, PM: 5.5 miles

Total: 103 miles

9/29: Rest/Strength Training
9/30: AM: 7 mile Tempo: 37:30, PM: 6.5 miles
10/1: 7.5 miles
10/2: 5.5 miles
10/3: 6.5 miles w/ 2.5 miles progressing to MP
10/4: 12 miles, + Strength Training
10/5: AM: 9 miles, PM: 6.5

Total: 61 miles

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Upcoming: Navy/Air Force Half Marathon Sunday

August 25-August 31: 110 miles/week

Coming off the Annapolis 10 Miler, I went right back into high volume.  8/25-8/31 was a tough week, perhaps the toughest of all summer.  The heat and humidity got real high again.  But the humidity also seems to toughen me up-I seem to adapt well to it and it gets me very fit.  I like to think of it as an alternative to training at altitude.  I got in a 26 mile long run just to get in the distance, and so it didn't seem scary.  I had never done this in training, but I am pleased with how it went, especially since the conditions were hot and very humid.  I was surprised how well I recovered afterwards.

8/25: 12 miles + Strength Training
8/26: 10.5 miles
8/27: AM: 6.5 miles + PM: 15 miles
8/28: 8.5 miles + Strength Training
8/29: AM: Track: 4 x 1200m @ 3:39 each(4:52 pace), 8.5 miles
+ PM: 5.5 miles
8/30: 10 miles
8/31: AM: 26 miles(2:47:00) + PM: 6 miles

September 1-September 7: 108 miles/week

9/01: 5.5 miles + Strength Training
9/02: AM: Track: 2400m(7:34), 1600m(5:02), 800m(2:29), 10 miles
+ PM: 6.5 miles
9/03: AM: 15 miles + PM: 5 miles
9/04: AM: 9.5 miles + PM: 4 miles
9/05: AM: 7 miles + Strength Training + PM: 5 miles
9/06: AM: 20 miles(2:08) + PM: 5 miles
9/07: AM: 11 miles + PM: 4 miles

For the past 4 months I have averaged close to 100 miles/week.  I have built a very tough engine right now.  Tomorrow I will race the Navy/Air Force Half Marathon in Washington, DC and this will be my final tune-up leading into the Chicago Marathon, which is in 4 weeks.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Annapolis 10 Miler, Enter the upcoming Fall Season

After 8 consecutive weeks of 90, 100, 94, 105, 108, 112, 106, & 110, it was time to get a short break from the mileage and bring it down a notch and jump in a race.  I got 75 miles this past week which felt pretty much like nothing, and did a moderate workout of 3 x 5:00 fartleks averaging at about 5:12 pace or so on Wednesday.  The Annapolis 10 Miler fit perfectly, which Roland had mentioned late spring as we talked over the training schedule and races.  Annapolis didn't feel as much of a race to me as a very hard training run, but maybe that's just my mentality as I get fitter, and the course, which was quite hilly.  I started out quite conservative(the plan was to go moderate first 5 miles, hard the second 5 miles).  A pack of 5 guys or so formed around me and together we worked through the early miles.  The early miles weren't very hilly, so the 5:25 pace I was running felt quite comfortable.  After mile 3, I started to get sick of running with the group and started throwing in surges.  Probably a bit earlier than I should have but I couldn't help it.  The pack I could feel was aching as I did so.  I was in control.  I would surge, and then coast as the pack would catch back up, but I could feel them breathing harder each time I did so.  Then near mile 4, I saw a long, mean, hill over the bridge.  I probably went too early, but I ate that hill up for lunch, it felt good running hard up the thing, starting to push myself a bit more, setting myself free.  I've always been a good hill runner.  Back in high school I remember how well I handled "the dip" at the State Championship meet at Hereford.  I pulled ahead up the hill and felt a gap begin.  But a few runners were not far behind, I could hear their footsteps.  I then held the lead from there.  I didn't know the course well, but it didn't matter much to me.  I would surge for a bit, then coast.  Surge then coast.  I made a dreadful U-Turn at mile 7 to charge back up a steep hill I just hammered down.  I then fell asleep a bit around mile 8, and that's when I heard footsteps.  A runner from behind was catching me, I could feel them coming.  My competitor caught me somewhere after 8, and we made our way to the bridge.  Try me.  I drafted off of him for a moment, then threw in a surge up the hill over the bridge as people cheered for us on the other side.  I could feel the runner hurt from the move.  He had worked hard to catch me, and now he was hurting.  I coasted again, and then felt him coming back.  I surged again, and then pressed the pace and pushed past mile 9 in a 5:10 split.  One more surge.  Time to lay the hammer down.  I ran hard towards the finish area, took a look back as I made one more turn, and knew I had won.  He was far back enough now, and had used everything he had left.  I turned another right to charge up a long hill, where spectators cheered.  I felt I had more in me, but relaxed and coasted in to claim the victory in 53:38.  The time was not fast for me, but this wasn't a time trial race.  The goal was to run hard and win tactically, and that's what I did.

"Congratulations," said John Astle, a member of the Maryland Senate representing Anne Arundel County, said to me.  "I was the very first winner of this race 39 years ago."  I was very honored to meet him and shook his hand proudly.  I did a little bit of research on him, and he not only is one of the founders of the Annapolis 10 Miler, but has helped the sport of road running in MD tremendously.  He introduced legislation in the early 80's to allow the use of public roads for organized races.  I have been meaning to send him an email to thank him for all of the work he has done.

I was later interviewed which is recapped here:


I also congratulated the 2nd place finisher for his efforts.  He was only 23, and has a bright running career ahead of him.

Afterwards, I felt like running a bit more, and probably ran too much.  I felt so good I ran another 8.5 miles after the race(kind of got into Forrest Gump mode-"I just felt like running!"), and to add to the 1.5 mile warmup I did pre-race, it ended up being a 20 mile morning.  To top it off, that afternoon I felt so good I went out for another 5 mile run to get in 25 total for the day.  Jesus.  A bit overkill, and Roland criticized me for it as I talked to him over the phone later that evening, but I was on a low mileage week, and probably just felt good getting some more miles in since I was so used to it from weeks before.  The overall mileage(75) was still quite low for how I've been training.

The next tune-up race will be the Navy Half Marathon in Washington, DC on Sept 14, which, to me, feels like I actually will be racing it.  The goal is to win that as well, which won't be as easy.  Nevertheless, I should be in the mix.

I will be back on high mileage this week, shooting for 110 again.  I have a 26 mile long run this Saturday, which will really help me feel like the marathon distance isn't scary.  Running the distance in training is something I have never done in the past.  I have feared the marathon distance.  Overcoming the fear is the key.  It's time to face these fears and conquer them.

Monday, August 18, 2014

8/4-8/17: 106 & 110 miles/week

These past 2 weeks went very well.  My fitness is improving, especially when I did the hard 18 miler I noticed myself getting into the "zone."  On 8/24 I am racing the Annapolis 10 Miler.  The goal is to get sharper and this run will help me do that, and get a week off from another 20-25 mile long run.  10 miles sounds like a sprint to me now.  I want to run this so I get the effort in, I don't really care about time, plus its a hilly course and the times will be slow.  Nevertheless I am looking forward to running hard.  Should be fun!

8/4: am: 7 miles + Strength Training
pm: 4 miles

8/5: Track: warm up, drills,
2 x 600, 6 x 400, 6 x 200, all at 4:37 pace, with 1 lap jog recoveries
11.5 miles total

8/6: am: 3 miles
pm: 9.5 miles

8/7: am: 12 miles
pm: 5 miles

8/8: am: 5 miles + Strength Training
pm: 8 miles

8/9: am: 10 miles
pm: 6 miles

8/10: am: 18 miles quick: 1:41:00(5:30's), + warm up/cool down= 19.5 total
pm: 5 miles

Total: 106 Miles

8/11: pm: 6 miles + Strength Training

8/12: am: 10 miles w/ Jake Klim
pm: 5.5 miles

8/13: am: 6 miles
pm: Track: warm up, drills, 2 x 2400m: 7:40, 7:38 (5:06 pace) w/ 1 lap jog between
8 miles total

8/14: pm: 17 miles in Poolesville

8/15: am: 6 miles + Strength Training
pm: 10 miles

8/16: am: 12.5 miles @ Riley's Lock, said hello to QO XC team
pm: 5 miles

8/17: am: 20 miles in Rock Creek
pm: 3 miles

Total: 110 miles

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pouring in the Work: 7/28-8/3: 112 Miles/Week

Got a double in 6 out of 7 days this week.  I was supposed to get another one in Saturday after my 24, but I was extremely tired and just ran a bit longer the next Sunday morning instead.  My mileage was right on for what Roland and I are shooting for, as well as the workout times on the track.  The track stuff isn't a big part of it, from what I at least feel anyways-the amount of work isn't a lot but this enables me to maximize my concentration on the long runs as well as getting in higher volume.  This week I will be continuing the doubles and aim for a fast 18 mile long run(towards marathon pace).  I am starting to feel the positive effects of the training-my paces are progressing.  And while it isn't the hottest summer, it still isn't cool and quite humid.  When Conrad(who is also doing Chicago) and I ran 24 on Saturday we were amazed how 6:20 pace felt quite easy.  As I build up this cycle, the distance of 26 miles I will run.  I see myself doing that long run close to 6:00-6:10 pace, which would really tell me a lot about my potential at Chicago.  In addition, the fast, hard runs like the upcoming 18 this weekend will be the real workouts that get me race fit.  I am now pouring in more and more strength and fitness at the rate of the above waterfall.

7/28: AM: 10 miles
PM: 4 miles

7/29: AM: 4 miles
PM: 9 miles

7/30: AM: Track: warm up + Drills + 800m: 2:27, 1200m: 3:41, 1600m: 4:56, 1200m: 3:41, all w/ 1 lap jog recoveries, + cool down, 8 miles total
PM: 6 miles

7:31: AM: 16 miles
PM: 5 miles

8/01: AM: 5.5 miles
PM: 4.5 miles

8/02: AM: 24 miles @ 6:20 pace (2:32:00) + 5 min jog (24.5 total)

8/03: AM: 11.5 miles
PM: 3.5 miles

Total: 112 Miles

Sunday, July 27, 2014

7/21-7/27: 108 Miles/Week

This was my first serious week of the marathon training period.  I've begun doubling nearly every day(the target is 7 days a week).  It's not easy, but I'm getting into that rhythm and getting used to it.  Monday I was just plain tired, but after that I felt good.  I feel my fitness progressing now as my long runs will get faster.  This coming weekend I have a 24 mile long run.  I also will be running the marathon distance in training during this cycle, something I have not done in the past.  My total mileage per week during this training will be 110-120, no higher.  I feel good, and strong.

Monday 7/21: 6 miles + Strength Training

Tuesday 7/22: Track: Drills + 1200m(3:50), 1600m(5:07), 2000m(6:25) w/ 1 lap jog recoveries
+ 6 miles

Wednesday 7/23: AM: 12 miles + PM: 5 miles

Thursday 7/24: AM: 17 miles + PM: 5 miles

Friday 7/25: AM:  7 miles + Strength Training + PM: 6 miles

Saturday 7/26: AM: 16 miles 1:32:00 (5:45 pace) + PM: 5 miles

Sunday 7/27: AM: 12 miles + PM: 5 miles

Total: 108 miles

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Time To Get Serious

"There's this pain, this aching, and going on and on and on. That's what divides a champion from a non-champion - having the guts to go through the pain barrier."
-Arnold Schwarzenegger

I do like certain quotes Arnold makes from the movie, "Pumping Iron."  While I know NOTHING about bodybuilding, I respect the amount of training that goes into it and going through the "pain barriers" Arnold talks about.  There are always new barriers to be broken down.  The current barrier that stands in my way is the marathon.  In order to break this barrier, I have to commit myself fully to it.  I did this back in 2005, when I ran my debut in 2:38:48 and actually committed my training to the race.  But also back then my 5K, 10K, and half marathon times were way slower, light years practically from where they stand now.  I knew in order to improve I had to work on getting those distances faster.  Heck, my 5K race pace back then was not even my half marathon pace NOW.  9 years later, I still look at my debut marathon race as  one of the key most important things I learned about myself as a runner.  It told me that I was a grinder-I could take mile after mile, obsessively pushing through barrier after pain barrier.  And I LOVED it.  But I also really needed to work hard on those other barriers of getting my other distance times better-especially with a lackluster college racing career(that I believe was underdeveloped) behind me.  Now, after doing a lot of hard work on those shorter distances, and with many breakthroughs in my half marathon time, I am ready to attack the marathon full force as the great marathon runner I know I am inside.  I have what it takes to break down the next barrier.  I just must commit to it.  The first step in that process is a good plan.  Roland is helping me to fill that process and making decisions like NOT doing the Rockville Twilighter 8K was one of them.  When I asked him about doing the twilighter, in his own words, he said to me, "It's time to get serious about the marathon, Chris."  Many people were surprised I didn't run the race because I always run that race.   In fact, minus last year's cancellation, this was the first year since 2007 I have not done the twilighter.  I jogged easy during to watch the race and cheer on some runners I coach.  The timing of races during a marathon training cycle are critical, as well as not sacrificing training in order to do a race distance that doesn't relate to marathon training at all.  It took me a long time to understand this, and I think the difference now is that I am just ready to make that commitment.  Below are my past 2 weeks training.

7/7-7/13: 94 miles
7/14-7/20: 105 miles

Mon 7/7: Med-Long Run 15 miles 1:40:00
(Club Hollow Loop starting from Edward's Ferry, last 6 miles hilly)

Tues 7/8: 6 miles easy + Strength Training

Wed 7/9 AM: 4 miles easy,
PM: 10 miles total: warm up run, drills, then 5:00 @ 5:20 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:18 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:15 pace, cool down

Thurs 7/10 8 miles easy + Strength Training

Fri 7/11 AM: 4 miles easy,
PM: 10 miles easy

Sat 7/12: Long Run 20 miles 2:16:00(Edwards Ferry/Whites Ferry Double Loop)

Sun 7/13: AM: 12.5 miles easy
PM: 4 miles easy

Total: 94 miles

Mon 7/14: 8.5 miles easy + Strength Training

Tues 7/15: AM: Med-Long Run 18 miles 2:06:00,
PM: 4 miles

Wed 7/16: 10 miles total: warm up run, drills, then 5:00 @ 5:20 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:18 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:15 pace, 5:00 easy run, 5:00 @ 5:10 pace, cool down

Thurs 7/17: Med-Long Run 15 miles 1:48:00

Fri 7/18: 11 miles easy + Strength Training

Sat 7/19: AM: 12 miles easy,
PM: 4.5 miles easy

Sun 7/20: Long Run 22 miles 2:25:00(Carderock to Georgetown/DC/VA and back)

Total: 105 miles

Monday, July 7, 2014

Marathon Training 6/23-7/6


M: 9 miles
T: Med-Long Run 15 miles + Strength Training
W: double: 4 miles / 5 miles
T: double: 12 miles / 6 miles
F: 6.5 miles
S: Long Run 20 miles
S: 12 miles + Strength Training

Total: 90 miles


M: Med-Long Run 15 miles
T: double: 3 miles / 5 miles
W: double: 5 miles / drills + 6 miles w/ 2 x 5:00 fartleks @ 5:20 pace
T: double: Med-Long Run 17.5 miles / 5 miles
F: 8 miles + Strength Training
S: Long Run 20 miles
S: double: 12 miles / 3 miles

Total: 100 miles

I feel very good about where I'm at heading into heavy training for the Chicago Marathon.  Roland and I agree that doing the Twilighter 8K is NOT a good idea, and that I just need to train for now.  I am going to be getting in 2 more 100+ mile weeks, before the training will start to get really serious and the Twilighter would just be in the way of that.  I am sad I won't be competing on my home turf, but I must put priority on training for the marathon now.  Roland is doing a great job of helping steer me in the right direction with this, which is where I've always needed some guidance on prioritizing the marathon.  At the same time, the other reason is that there will be a few tune up races leading up to the marathon that will be the right timing as I reach peak fitness during the fall.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From Naples, FL to Duluth, MN

Before this week, I've been averaging over 90 miles/week for the past 5 weeks, gradually building my base again.  After May, I cut it quits on workouts, so going into the half marathon in Duluth I knew I was not in racing shape.  Much of my running had been quite slow but that's what I needed to do.  After doing some higher volume again, I wanted to use this race as a good workout to break up the slow running I've been doing.  I did a very short taper for this race, for mileage I hit 100, then 80, and then down to 60 during the race week.  The result was my pace began quickening again naturally and my legs feeling a bit fresher.  I knew I wouldn't run fast here, but I felt like this would be a good workout nonetheless.  My goal was to have a good time and to run comfortably hard.  I roomed with Ricky Flynn, who was aiming for the Trials Standard of 1:05:00.  We both headed out on a shakeout run Friday morning.  Since I was in Naples, Florida not even a week ago and Ricky was coming from SC, it felt like freezing temperatures to us, even though it wasn't much below 50 degrees.  I ran in a long sleeve.  The temperature was obviously ideal for running, but coming from such heat and humidity really made it feel like 30-40 degrees out there.  We ran along the shoreline on the soft surface dirt/gravel path and adjacent boardwalk.

Our race was an early 6:15 AM start.  We got outside at 4:30 AM to get on the bus.  The bus drove us north along Superior Lake where the start was.  Superior Lake is like an ocean.  It's so big it would cover the entire area from Washington, DC all the way to Boston.  It was just south of 50 degrees, but it felt a lot colder.  I bought a pair of throw-away gloves to have during the race.  A ghostly like misty fog hovered over the lake and in the northern pine trees along the rocky shore.  It was hard to believe it was the first day of summer.

This race always has good competition.  I knew I wasn't in peak racing shape, so I made sure to let myself settle into what I felt was a comfortably hard pace, and not get caught up in red-lining it.  I went out between 5:10-5:15 the first mile, just testing the waters a bit, and then relaxed the rest of the way, averaging 5:20's.  I felt good actually, running a faster pace finally, because I had been doing a lot of slow running the past few weeks and feel it "woke me up" a bit.  I finished in 1:10:53, again not fast for me(see list below of my all time best half marathon times), but a solid run that made me feel like I got the effort in.  

Below is a list of my top all time half marathons over the past 3 years:

1:07:29 (Houston 2014)
1:08:39 (Philadelphia 2011)
1:08:51 (Va Beach 2013)
1:09:27 (Va Beach 2012)
1:09:30 (Richmond 2013)
1:10:04 (Va Beach 2011)
1:10:53 (Philadelphia 2012)
1:10:53 (Grandmas 2014)

I cooled down for 2.5 miles cheering for twin sisters Lucinda and Claudin(who ran wth me in high school), who both ran excellent times of 2:48 in the marathon.  What I am really excited about as well is that Lucinda is going to have me help coach her for a fall half marathon.  Lucinda is certainly a pro at the marathon, and it is a good time for her now to work on getting her half marathon time faster.  I certainly know she is capable of at least 1:17, if not faster.  I am humbled to coach her, and excited to see what she can do.

Later that afternoon, I ran again for an easy 50 minutes.  Sunday I ran a slow 9 miles, and this week I have begun specific marathon training.  I ran 15 miles this morning and it feels great to get the aerobic base going.  It's time for me to take all the tools I have gotten from racing the shorter distances and use them as best I can and maximize my endurance training.  Roland is having me train in a Lydiard-style like way, which I know will work well for me.

I am also excited for all the runners I am going to coach this fall!

Friday, June 6, 2014

New Goals

I haven't posted much since Cherry Blossom this spring, and I apologize for that to those of you who keep up with this blog.  Speaking of which, I want to thank all of you for continuing to read and hope it has given a lot of good/helpful insight on your own running.  One of my favorite things about this blog is being able to get my thoughts out and to help others look at their own running in such a way.  I met a fellow at a wedding the other day who keeps up with this blog, and it was very humble to hear that my posts have helped his own running.  In terms of style of training, what works for me, may not work for you.  But, I think the patterns show what type of runner I am, and that can help someone define whether they are a similar runner and/or different.  A good friend of mine, Lucy, and I ran together last weekend, and during the run, Lucy suggested how we were similar runners in certain ways, but also have interesting differences.  For example, Lucy is a 2012 Marathon Olympic Trials qualifier, but has also run fast in the 10K, yet hasn't had a great half marathon yet.  I have done well in distances half marathon and below, but haven't had a great marathon yet.


"Your 10K is better than your 5K, your 10 Mile is better than your 10K, and your Half Marathon is better than your 10 Mile.  It is with no doubt that as the race gets longer, you do better.  You are obviously meant for the marathon.  The 2016 Olym Trials are a realistic goal for you."
-Roland Rust, my new coach

  The past few months I have been in search for a coach.  Not that I don't know what I'm doing or am just training blindly, but I have been looking for someone to guide me, to have someone who sees the potential I have, and to work together to achieve the goals I strive for.  I have looked for someone who individualizes training based on the person(and what works for the person), rather than someone who trains everyone the same.  It has been very hard at times doing this on my own.  No question, I know how to push myself.  But having someone to give feedback and to believe in me will help me become a better athlete.  Someone to talk to, and to look at long term goals.  I believe Roland will fill this role for me very well.  We plan to take an all out assault on a fall marathon, most likely the Chicago Marathon.  It makes sense for me to go back to marathon training, and this summer Roland and I agree that 110-120/week will be ideal.  The other thing about marathon training, is that no matter what I always find that the TRAINING gets you fit as hell even if the marathon doesn't go as planned.  It always translates at some point to other distances as well.  This will benefit me greatly, and I am excited to get back to it.  It's the right time.

I have begun a new phase of my running and training.  Starting mid-May, I got my mileage up and it has climbed back up to 100/week for the past few weeks.  I feel great, actually, and physically I feel very strong.  I have been really keeping up my strength training well too.  I currently am training in Naples, Florida while on vacation.  Everytime I run here I get super fit.  The last few weeks of May I did some threshold pace running on the track, but honestly I am pretty sick of the track right now.  I've stayed away from it starting this past week.  I will get on it again at some point, but for now if I do any fast running it will be on the road or towpath.  This week is pretty much just mileage, and below are my previous 2 weeks.  I will post this Sunday 6/8 on my current week I will about to finish up.


5/19: AM: 9.5 miles
PM: 5 miles

5/20: AM: 7 miles
PM: 7.5 miles

5/21: AM: 4.5 miles
PM: Track: 6 x 1600m w/ 2:30 rests: 5:10, 5:01, 4:58, 4:59, 5:03, 4:59, 9.5 miles total

5/22: AM: 8.5 miles
PM: 6.5 miles

5/23: 11.5 miles + Strength Training

5/24: 10 miles + Strength Training

5/25: 20 miles, 2:13:00(68:00/65:00)

Total: 100 miles


5/26: AM: 10 miles
PM: Strength Training and Drills

5/27: AM: 13 miles
PM: 4 miles

5/28: Track: 2000m, 1600m, 1200m, all at 5:00 pace, +42:00 progression run, 11.5 miles total

5/29: AM: 5 miles
PM: 8.5 miles

5/30: AM: Strength Training
PM: 9.5 miles

5/31: 20 miles, 2:12:00(71:00/61:00)

6/1: 11 miles

Total: 93 miles

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Adaptation and Balance

I started the year off with a great half: Houston in January, running 1:07:29 and demolishing my previous PR by 1 min 10 sec. Afterwards, I did some short tune up races to get ready for Cherry Blossom, which worked very well and I was very pleased with my effort and another new PR of 50:57 for 10 miles.  More so, I also placed well(20th) in the championship race.  Pikes Peek 10K followed 3 weeks after, which was a so-so race(I tied to the exact second my current PR of 30:43-same course, although I placed well-8th overall).  No question my 2 best performances this year(and of my entire running career thus far) are Houston and Cherry Blossom.  I am proud of those races and I think they have put me on a new level in my running.

I have noticed a few changes in my running over the last year: my endurance and threshold are improving a lot.  My threshold is moving closer and closer to 5:00 pace(I raced Cherry Blossom at 5:05/mile, and Houston was 5:08 pace).  Last year I did a bit more VO2-Max stuff where as this year I have been doing more threshold.  The results make sense.  Nevertheless, after Pikes Peek, I felt like jumping in the Swarthmore 5K on May 12.  I wanted to see what I had in me and possibly take down my 5K PR off of not very much 5K type training.  I did a few workouts after Pikes Peek, but they were not very fast-again they were more so my threshold pace.  So I went into the race blindfolded, just seeing what would happen.

The gun went off and I sprinted to the front pack of the fast heat of the mens 5K.  Aerobically, I felt fine, and was aiming to run 70s, which I ended up doing very consistently, going through the first mile in 4:40.  Then, 6 1/2 laps in, I pulled the plug and dropped out.  My left soleus started to tighten up and I pulled up just in time to not injure myself.  It had been tight the last few weeks, I've noticed.  Anything faster than 5:00/mile has seemed to feel just too fast right now, not to mention running in spikes.  And it makes sense, I am not a 5K runner right now.  4:40 is too fast right now, and it isn't natural for my body at this point, so it was straining.  I cooled down for a few miles, and that helped loosen it up.  Yes it sucks when this happens, but I have Grandma's Half Marathon on June 21 and I did not want to take away from that.  I honestly I feel really good about things right now.  It's hard to really listen to your body, and I have gotten quite good at it.  Similarly, last fall at Philly, I felt my body straining, and pulled out of that race as well, which later on I realized what a smart decision it was.

Last week I only got in 55 miles, but the week before was a solid 81 mile week however.  I should be able to get in some decent mileage this week, but just endurance stuff, no hard workouts.  Next week, hopefully I should be fine to do some threshold training.  I will only race Grandmas if I can do some solid threshold workouts before then though, and if my body is feeling good.  If my body is not ready, I will not force it.  I will not race, simple as that.  The key is to let my body guide me towards what it is ready to do.  This is the key to adaptation and keeping balance as a runner.  I always go by the simple rule that Olympian Paul Cummings told me once: "You should feel good running, if you do not feel good, do not run."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 USA 10 Mile Championship

April 6, 2014
Cherry Blossom 10 Mile
USA 10 Mile Championship

Time: 50:57
Average: 5:05/mile
USA Championship: 20th 
Overall: 32nd

This race is always a good one.  But even better when it's a championship race.  The combination of the East Africans and some of the best US men always makes great competition.  The winning American placed 6th overall in the race.  8 East Africans placed in the top 10 overall, and a total of 12 East Africans were of the first 28 finishers.

This was a solid race for me.  My "A" goal was sub 50:00, and my "B" goal was sub 51:00.  I felt realistically I was in 50:30 shape, and was on that pace for much of the race, I just wasn't quite sharp yet to hold it the last 2 miles when Kieran and Conrad pulled away at mile 8.  I am glad I got the sub 51 though.  Before the race, I met the friendly Jake Krong, who resides out in Salt Lake City, Utah, and who finished ahead of me at Houston back in January.  He started out at the tail end of the lead pack, as well as Conrad, and I was just behind.  Kieran started out behind us and reeled us in later on.  I kept my sight on Jake, as I knew he was aiming for sub 50:00.  First mile was 4:53-ish, the lead pack had gone out conservatively as I wasn't far behind them.  But I knew it would break up and I hoped there would be people for me to run with.  We stormed across the Arlington bridge, looped back to mile 2 right around 9:59.  From there, I knew I wasn't quite sharp yet to maintain sub-5s, which Jake was flirting with.(you can read his blog post here, http://www.wasatchandbeyond.com, I am enjoying following his blog).  Kieran, Conrad, and I ran together for much of the race, and we went through 5 miles in 25:15.  It was good we worked together, because running alone after the first 5 miles of this race sucks.  There are few people on Haines Point, and it can be quite a grind.  We went through 10K in 31:21(5:02 pace), and we picked up a few runners, including Sergio Reyes(who was obviously having an off day).  Mile 8 I lost some ground on Kieran and Conrad, but kept pushing, trying to maintain contact.  It's hard, very hard at this point during this race.  You turn back to head towards the monument, and it's just a grinder.  The wind slightly went against us, though it was only slight, and thank goodness it wasn't the same conditions as last year.  I passed through 15K in 47:20 or something like that and knew I had to really finish strong if I wanted to finish in the 50:xx territory.  I heard Charlie Ban cheering at that point and he said something like "yell it out sloane"....I took his advice and yelled out loud to give myself an adrenaline rush and began to run as fast as I could without sacrificing my finishing sprint.  I had to run hard up "the hill" at the end too!  That hill is conveniently placed with a 1/4 mile to go.  Your legs are building up with acid yet you are starting to kick which I knew I HAD to do going up that hill and use my momentum going back down.  I hammered like hell up that thing and ran faster than I ever have before towards the end.  I certainly had a great kick.   This is perhaps the best thing that happened for me during this race, because my speed is improving, and it will bode well for Pikes Peek 10K in 3 weeks.  I was happy to cross the line in 50:57, 20th American in the championship.  This is my highest placing in a championship, which is also a great feeling.  In addition, it is a course PR for me by 1 minute.  Now I am ready to attack the 10K.  I also feel like with a little bit more sharpening and speed work I can get closer to 30:00 in the 10K right now(PR is 30:43), and, if there is good weather at Pikes Peek, that is the course to do it.    

Below are the top USA finishers:

2 GIRMA MECHESO 47:22 W. CHESTER, PA $2,500.00
3 MOHAMED TRAFEH 47:27 DUARTE, CA $2,000.00
4 BEN BRUCE 47:33 FLAGSTAFF, AZ $1,500.00
9 IAN BURRELL 48:42 TUCSON, AZ $300.00
15 SEAN BROWN 50:03 50:03 AURORA, CO

Monday, March 24, 2014

Upcoming Spring Season

USATF Men's and Women's Championships

The past 7 weeks I have averaged 85 miles/week, with some solid races during these weeks.  My focus has been on the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and using the races leading up to that as workouts.

2/03-2/09: 80
2/10-2/16: 89
2/17-2/23: 82
2/24-3/02: 97
3/03-3/09: 75
3/10-3/16: 92
3/17-3/23: 85

On March 15 I raced the Shamrock Townebank 8K.  I didn't feel great, but I wasn't surprised as I was in the middle of a 92 mile training week.  I wasn't sure how I was going to feel during this race, and whether I was going to actually be able to run it fast or just run it hard.  I hit a tick over 25:00 in 4th place, and pretty much ran alone the last 3 miles.  The wind was pretty bad too, which made things rough, but it was a good "B" effort.  The next day, I paced Christina in the half marathon.  I should have signed up as a pacer for the race, however I would have had to sign up as either 1:30:00 or another round number, and I knew Christina was going to run faster than that(based on her fitness somewhere between 1:27-1:29).  We started our first mile in 6:58 and worked the pace down from there.  Splits below:


She finished in 1:28, and her husband Tommy finished in 1:30, both new PRs for them.  I was very happy but not surprised by their results.  I then ran some more miles to get in 21 miles for the day, watching a bit of the marathon in the process.

Last week was a hard training week.  I did 2 hard track workouts, one on Wednesday and one on Saturday, and got in another 85 mile week.  It's good because I went into Saturday's workout not feeling fresh, and my rests were very short between intervals(90 seconds).

Monday: 8 miles easy

Tuesday: 12.5 miles, + strength training

Wednesday: AM: pool running 35 minutes
PM: 10 x 800 meters w/ 200 meter jogs between each, up to 2:00 rests:
2:34, 2:28, 2:26, 2:25, 2:23, 2:26, 2:23, 2:24, 2:24, 2:25, 9.5 miles total

Thursday: AM: 25:00 easy/PM: 45:00 easy

Friday: AM: 13 miles easy

Saturday: AM: 5 x 1600m w/ 90 second rests: 4:56, 4:53, 4:51, 4:54, 4:56, 10 miles total;
PM: 45:00 easy

Sunday: AM: 15 miles easy

I begin tapering this week and into next week for Cherry Blossom.  I really want to run well in this race.  My B goal is to run 50:XX, and my A goal is to crack 50:00, which is pretty ambitious, yet I feel like somehow it is possible, especially with the fact that Cherry Blossom is hosting the USA 10 Mile Championship this year, which brings fast racers from all over the country.  In addition, I may not do this race again next year, because I plan to devote an entire spring outdoor track season in 2015(Raleigh Relays is one on my list, which is around the same time as Cherry Blossom typically), focusing on the 10K and 5K.  So I'd like to completely crush it this time around.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Past and the Present

"Follow me," I yelled back to the boys running.  I was in the middle of doing 1 mile repeats while the Quince Orchard Track Boys Team was doing 1/4 mile repeats.  The top boys were running close to my pace, so at times I was either chasing them down or running with them for at least part of my intervals.  Besides coaches Seann and Steve, I don't know anyone on my former high school's squad.  As I hammered repeat 4:50 miles, I overheard some of the runners saying "Who is that guy?"  It felt strange to me to hear that, and I suddenly felt nostalgic as 13 years ago I was a senior who knew everyone on that track, and everyone knew me.  I am a different runner now.  A much better runner.  My body has become sculpted and chiseled by thousands of miles underneath my feet.  My fitness is at a greater understanding.  I can now run countless repeat miles faster than I could ever run one.  As I got my trainers back on and out of my flats, I glanced at the top boys on the team, and said good job to them.  One glanced back at me, nodded, and looked me in the eye, and for one moment I saw myself staring right back at me, the young 14 year old boy who had yet to discover how strong of a runner he was to become.  The Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials, as John L. Parker says.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Importance of Weight Training for Runners

I'll start the week of 2/17-2/23, where I went to Virginia Tech and did a double 3K/5K workout.  It went very well, and I was satisfied with my efforts.  The 3K was just before 8PM on Friday, and the 5K followed on Saturday at 2:30 PM, so I had less than 24 hours rest between each event.  The 3K went out fast(my first mile was 4:34), and the race didn't feel natural to me.  The indoor air was a bit of a shock, as I haven't run an indoor race in 2 years.  However, it was awesome running on that track again, which is elevated and banked.  I ended up finishing 8th place in the 3K in a time of 8:48(averaging about 4:41 pace).  Not very fast, though technically a PR for the distance for me.  I don't race 3K much, it's an odd distance to me.  But it was a good way to get my legs worked going into the 5K the next day.  Including the warm up and cool down, I got in 8.5 miles for the day.  The next morning I did a solid session of foam rolling and stretching.

The 5K had no one else who had run the 3, so I was up against fresh legs.  I probably started out in 7th place or so.  But gradually, I began running down everyone.  I actually felt better than I had the day before. First mile was 4:45.  I moved my way up to 4th, then 3rd position.  I went through 3K in 9:01.  I wanted to try to break 15:00, but knew that was a bit ambitious and I was slightly falling off that pace.  Not to mention I now had to lap some of the other runners.  I then moved up to 2nd place, and because I was now lapping runners, I couldn't tell where the leader was.  I just grinded my way home, finishing in 15:13, 9 seconds behind the winner.  I immediately jogged off the track, put my trainers on, drank some gatorade, and went out for a 6 mile run on the huckleberry trail to get some mileage in.  I got in over 12 miles for the day, pretty wiped when I got back.  The next morning I did an 18 mile long run, 82 miles for the week.      

Then last Tuesday, I slipped on some damn ice during a run.  I fell splat flat on my back, and cursed to myself, gotta be more careful!  Always mind your surroundings.  I got up and felt my muscles had all tensed up, but otherwise I was fine.  I am more of a muscular guy(I like to think of myself built sort of like Meb, only a lot slower).  But thanks to all the strength training I do, my body was able to recover quickly.  In fact, I was able to finish the last few miles of my run, and got in 97 miles for the week(but no track stuff).  I am a big believer in strength training helping not only to prevent overuse injuries, but also when instances like falling randomly occur.  So I am going to talk a bit about the importance of weight training now.  I typically lift weights twice per week, and target the chest, arms, upper and lower back, glutes, hip adductors and abductors, obliques, and a ton of abdominal work.  It's all fatigue resistant exercises(less weight, more reps).  Many runners forego the arms and chest(especially females).  The fear is to bulk up, but if you do the right stuff, you won't bulk up, you'll lean out, and burn more fat at rest in the process(and therefore become more efficient, and more cut).  You'll also be able to run faster!  If you watch Deena Kastor in the 2004 Olympic Marathon in Athens, she worked her way up during the final miles of the race towards a bronze medal finish.  She believed that she wouldn't have passed everyone in the end to grab the medal if it weren't for her upper body strength.  She credited her rigorous strength training routine leading up to that race.  Some of the exercises I do include:

-bench press(light weight, more reps)
-abdominal crunches on stability ball
-side leg lifts for hip adductors, gluteus medius, and abductors(inner thighs)
-bridges(raising one leg at a time, targeting the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings)
-lower back lifts on stability ball
-squats and lunges(without weights)
-side body lifts(for obliques)
-medicine ball twists

Running trails also fits in this category(I am talking about REAL trails which help with stabilizing the ankles).  Roots will toughen your ankles up.  If you don't exercise the ankles, they become weak, and therefore you are more vulnerable.  If you always run on the treadmill, your body is not going to be more resistant to injury(despite the less impact).
This week I got the intensity going again, and yesterday I did a fast 6 x 200-6 x 400, with 200 jog(or 1-2 minute rests) between each rep.  It was good quality, and helped me work on my weakness(speed).  Splits below:

200m: 34, 
400m: 69, 
200m: 34, 
400m: 66, 
200m: 33, 
400m: 65, 
200m: 32, 
400m: 64, 
200m: 31, 
400m: 65, 
200m: 29, 
400m: 69

My next race will be the Townebank 8K in Virginia Beach on March 15.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Upcoming: The Virginia Tech Challenge Meet 2/21-2/22

On January 19, I made my opening scene for 2014 at the USA Half Marathon Championship, setting a new personal best of 1:07 and placing 56th.  It was a great opener and set up to what is to come this year.  Since then, I have recovered well, and have gotten back into my rhythm of training.

Between 1/20 and 2/02 I recovered by running 34 miles the first week(total of 4 runs), and 57 miles the second week(6 runs).  I did some pool running as well, and kept the runs at moderate paces.

2/03-2/16 I got the mileage up again along with a few workouts.  Weeks below.  

Monday: AM: Pool Running 35 minutes/PM: 6 miles
Tuesday: 14.5 miles + Strength Training
Wednesday: Track: 8 x 300m w/ 2:00 rests:
51, 50, 49, 49, 48, 51, 49, 47, 9 miles total
Thursday: 6.5 miles
Friday: AM: 9 miles/PM: 5 miles
Saturday: 17 miles
Sunday: 12.5 miles

Total: 80 Miles

Monday: AM: 10 miles/PM: Strength Training
Tuesday: AM: 8 miles w/ 8 x 1/4 mile hill repeats/PM: 6 miles
Wednesday: Track: 8 x 600m w/ 200m jog recoveries:
1:48, 1:45, 1:45, 1:45, 1:47, 1:45, 1:45, 1:45, 11 miles total
Thursday: 10 miles
Friday: 11 miles
Saturday: 13 miles
Sunday: 20 miles progression (2:05:00)

Total: 89 Miles

What's Next?

Rector Fieldhouse, Virginia Tech Indoor Track

I contacted my college coach, Ben Thomas last week as I wanted to get in some sort of short race as a workout during the end of February.  The Virginia Tech Challenge Meet seemed to fit perfectly, which is this Friday 2/21 and Saturday 2/22.  I was debating between the mens 3K and 5K races, which are on separate days.  I then thought, why not double up and do both?  It would be a terrific workout for me.  So, I have decided to go ahead and give both a shot.

The 3K is scheduled for Friday evening at 7:50 PM.  This is a short race, probably the shortest I can go in distance in order to run decently.  I haven't raced many 3Ks, but I am shooting for a target time of 8:30 give or take.  The 5K will be Saturday around 2:35 PM.  I really have no idea what I'll run after having raced a 3K less than 24 hours before, but I figure I can't go wrong giving it a shot and achieve a potentially great workout.  Again, these certainly aren't "big" races for me, but they are great opportunities to work in some quality training.  There are times where you run races to get fitter.

This should be fun!  I am looking forward to running on the awesome banked track I once trained/raced on during college.  I also got a new pair of spikes(the Saucony Endorphin LD4), and they held up well while I did 8 x 600m in them.  They are nothing but awesome.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014 USA Half Marathon Championship

"Best of luck," said Mike Reneau, the veteran 2:13 marathoner who heads up the Twin Cities Track Club, MN said to me as I exited the bus.  I thanked him, and was on my way back to DC.  It was 24 hours after the race and I could feel the soreness starting to creep up in my calves as I carried my bags.  Although, surprisingly, I didn't feel that bad.  I had run the previous evening again after the race which really helped with recovery(as long as it is done easy!).  If I don't do an easy shakeout run I feel just plain awful.  Most people would think this is crazy after running 13.1 miles at a 5:08 per mile pace, but the reality is that the body has been pushed hard, and it needs to "cool off."  To me, nothing feels better than going for an 8:00-10:00 min pace run for 30-40 minutes, 12-24 hours after racing.  I had a really nice Sunday afternoon jogging in Houston one more time, before packing my bags to leave.


"It amazes me how calm you seem," my Dad told me as he drove me to the airport on Friday morning. "Aren't you nervous?"  But my Dad knows I've been at this for a long time.  After getting cut from soccer my freshman year in high school, he was the first one to encourage me to go out for the cross country team. Sure, going to a  National Championship race can be a little nerve rattling.  There are dozens of guys all over the country who will be much faster than me.  But there are also guys I can run with, who will push me.  This is the most ideal a race can get.  I want the competition.

Houston was a nice switch from the cold winter temperatures.  I had done most of my training outside, but there were a few mild days where I got some good workouts in.  But mostly done in the cold.  After racing decently(but no big breakthroughs) last fall, I just kept going.  I felt good, and raised the mileage close to 100/week for 6 weeks.  I then tapered down to 72,72, and hit 56 during last week's race week.  On Wednesday(1/15) I did some drills and then 8 x 100 meter strides on the track.  I was ready to go.

I arrived at the hotel in Houston around noon on Friday.  My roomate also arrived at the same time, a fellow named Joe Moore who resides in Manhattan, Kansas.  I had no idea how good he was until he said he finished right behind Matt Tegenkamp in the 12K Champs last November.  The race organization for this event was fantastic.  They definitely take care of you.  It's nice when all meals are set up for you and that's one thing less to worry about.  On Friday afternoon Joe introduced me to some of his friends from Minnesota, and we did a shakeout 50 minute run exploring the city of Houston.  I felt nice and relaxed.  I really enjoyed meeting Mike Reneau, who has been at the sport for a long time.  That evening I chilled out(I even had a glass of wine), enjoyed some good conversations with more people I met who were either runners or involved with the race somehow.  It's nice I arrived 2 days before the race.

Saturday was another 35 minute shakeout run followed by 4 strides.  The Elite Technical Meeting followed in the early afternoon.


Joe and I got up just after 4:00 AM, and zombi-like walked our way downstairs to grab some breakfast.  Lately, oatmeal w/ brown sugar has been one of my favorite pre-race meals.  It seems to sit well with me.  Time flew by and before we knew it we headed downstairs to the buses that took us to the start.  The security for this race was super tight.  I saw cops on motorcycles riding right next to our bus.  We arrived at the elite tent with less than 45 minutes to spare, which is actually stretching it pretty thin before a big race.  You want to make time to go to the bathroom, not to mention warm-up, change into racing flats, and get some stretching in.  We warmed up in circles practically, there was a space in front of the start line that was only 200 meters long or so and then we had to turn around and loop back several times.

The sun was still below the horizon.  I lined up shoulder to shoulder with some of the finest distance runners in the country.  I went over and over in my head to run my own race and to not go out too fast.  My plan was to run 5:00-5:10 pace, and to hopefully not go out faster than 5:00.  I knew I was fit enough to run 1:06-1:07 for the half, and that even pacing was key.  I needed to just find the right race, and the right pack. I thought of why I dropped out of Philly last September.  It was because of this race.  This race was more important.  This is when it counted, and I knew I was ready.


We blasted out onto the course surging for position.  I did a good job of going out correctly and letting the 1:02 guys go ahead.  I can definitely get caught up in starting too fast.  The first part of the race was a little chaotic.  A few turns, and trying to find the right people to run with.  As I settled into my rhythm, I found a pack of 4 or 5 guys I was running with.  This seemed like the right group.

We approached the first mile and I was guessing we were going to hit about 5:05-5:10.  We blazed through in 4:57.  4:57!!! JESUS!  TOO FAST!  The plus side was I was feeling good, but I knew that feeling could change very quickly with 12.1 miles to go.  Our pack stuck together, and we went through mile 3 in 15:15(average 5:05 pace).  At this point we had gotten into good pacing.  We kept clicking off 5:06 miles from there, going through 10K in 31:44.  We were hovering right around the 1:07:00 barrier.  I broke the race up into minutes after passing 10K.  I just kept telling myself to get through the next 5 minutes, each mile.  5 minutes at a time.  It worked well mentally for me, and it was really great our pack held together.  We occasionally passed some runners who had gone out too fast, which always feels good.  There were not many turns in the race, and the course was flat as a pancake.  It was humid starting out, but I don't think it affected me because the temperature hovered around 50 degrees.  The humidity seemed to go down as the race went on as well.  Mile 8 was 40:50, and as we hit mile 9 in 46:00, I realized I was going to hit a 10 mile PR.  PRing in a split is such a confidence booster during a race.  I split somewhere between 51:10-51:15(can't remember exactly) for mile 10.  If I nearly broke 51:00 during a 13.1 mile race, this told me I certainly can't count out sub 50:00 as a possibility at Cherry Blossom this spring.  My 5 mile splits were 25:30, 25:40-45, so I had slowed a tad, but still maintaining a strong pace.  But between miles 11 and 12 our pack started to break up a bit.  The fatigue was setting in.  Now was the race, and we started competing against each other.  The lactate is accumulating in the muscles, and the body can only go so fast without having to clear the lactic acid away.  We were running as fast as we could without bonking.  I hit a couple of 5:14 splits and my legs were feeling heavy.  Really heavy. Did I have enough to kick it in?  When that moment came, would I pull through?


Mile 12-13 I picked my pace up and began surging, trying to keep my turnover.  I could hear a guy next to me, and we both were breathing hard.  Didn't have much left.  Crowds cheered in the distance as we made our way towards the end.  I was running very hard now, as hard as I could without sacrificing a sprint.  I knew I would need it. The runner next to me was right on my tail.  He was tall, and strong.  Could I beat him?  We made our way a half mile from the finish.  Back and forth, stride for stride.  

400 meters...

The race announcer and crowds roared in the distance.  

Hold it.  Hold it.  Hold it...

As we neared the finish, we would make a hard left and then straight onward 100 meters to the end.  



We accelerated into the turn and we both dropped to a dead-end sprint towards the finish line.


I used everything I had against him, but he had a slight gap on me.


I closed a little faster....I could feel my body opening up, striding out.  I had the power.  I could get him.

GO! GO! GO! 

I caught him, and held him off just enough to claim 56th place, crossing the line in a new PR of 1:07:29.


After crossing the finish line, I puked a little.  The build up of lactate towards the end of the race soars up high and the lack of oxygen and ability to clear the acid can cause this to happen.  If you run a race right, the build up becomes distressingly high in the final moments, and there are only several seconds of sprinting in you that you can use before your body crashes.

This was truly an outstanding race for me, and it is my current top performance, period.  It was a big confidence booster to perform well at this level of competition.


5K: 15:48
10K: 31:44
15K: 47:43
20K: 1:04:01
FINISH: 1:07:29

5K: 15:48=5:05 pace
5K: 15:56=5:07 pace
5K;15:59=5:08 pace
5K: 16:18=5:14 pace
1.1K: 3:28=5:04 pace

Average Pace: 5:08/mile or 3:11/kilometer

I guess my only criticism of my race is my fourth 5K split, but at least I rallied the last 1K and finished faster. I averaged 15:59/5K.  I don't think though that I would've run it any other way.  I ran the race as well as I could.  And I definitely couldn't have run harder.

I took it real easy this week, and it felt great.  I took 4 days off, and got in 33 miles total.  I got in the pool one day and that felt awesome.

I think after one more week I will feel more recovered.  I am looking at Cherry Blossom(4/06) as my next big target race, but there will be 1 or 2 tune-up races leading up to that.  What's also awesome is that Cherry Blossom will be the mens and womens USA 10 Mile Championship this year.

For this spring, two big goals I have are sub 50:00 for 10 miles, and sub 30:00 for 10K.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


1:07:29 today for the Half Marathon Championships in Houston, Texas.  Placed 56th.  Very happy with this result as it was a PR by over 1 minute.  Race report to follow shortly.

5k Splits:
15:48 (5:05 pace),
15:56 (5:07 pace),
15:59 (5:08 pace),
16:18 (5:14 pace),
3:28 (1.1k-5:04 pace)

Average: 5:08 pace

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Entrants

AtkinsColeBlowing RockNC
BirdsongBrandonManitou SpringsCO
BoitJosphatMammoth LakesCA
ChavezMichaelFort CollinsCO
CookRileySouth WeberUT
CosensRyanCosta MesaCA
GrayJosephColorado SpringsCO
KeflezighiMebSan DiegoCA
KrongJakeSalt Lake CityUT
LeBlancJarrettBaton RougeLA
MarotzJakeSaint PaulMN
MartinNathanSpring ArborMI
MottJonathanBabson ParkFL
MunozJoseSan AntonioTX
PayneBenFt Walton BeachFL
PennelTylerBlowing RockNC
PetersenPaulFort CollinsCO
ProctorGabrielMammoth LakesCA
SuverCurtisColorado SpringsCO
TaylorJustinSt AugustineFL

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Maximizing the Threshold

From November 18-December 29, I averaged 96 miles/week, for 6 weeks.  I took the mileage down last week to 72, and took my first day off in 45 days.

Last week, on New Year's Day, I did a workout that really tested my fitness.  The workout was 5 x 1.5 Miles(2400 meters) on the track, with very short 2:00-2:30 rests.  In the cold, it can be difficult to warm-up.  Following a 3 mile jog, I did a 1200 meter warm-up pace run @ 3:50(5:05 pace).  After a few drills, I proceeded to do the workout, targeting Threshold pace.  Splits below:

5 x 1.5 miles:

7:33...2 min rest
7:27...2 min rest
7:26...2.5 min rest
7:27...2.5 min rest

18 days out from my race, this workout was perfect timing.  My average pace was 4:59 for 7.5 miles total, or 37:22 for 7.5 miles.  I always know that if I can do close to 40 minutes at Threshold Pace, then I am very fit.  I have done something like this before, such as 4 x 2 mile.  These workouts work very well with me.  In addition, the short 2 minute rest was probably the shortest I have ever rested between these intervals(last August, I did 4 x 1.5 mile at the same pace but with 3-4 minute rests).

This week, I did one final moderate paced tempo workout to keep the fire going but not to "dig in" so to speak.  I find that 10-11 days out from the race I needed to do something but at the same time not overdo anything.  I went with a 3 mile tempo, with a short rest, followed by a 2 mile tempo, at goal race pace.

3 mile: 15:15 (5:04, 5:05, 5:06)
*3 min rest*
2 mile: 10:10 (5:06, 5:04)    

I felt like I only "half" worked out, which is also a great sign.  I cooled down, feeling pretty good in the legs.

After these threshold workouts, I have not been sore.  This is also good because it means I am not running my workouts too hard.  If you are sore the day after a threshold workout, it means you ran at a faster pace(such as VO2Max pace), and indeed it was not at threshold effort.  VO2Max workouts however, you should be sore after.

I am happy with my fitness and recent training.  I feel like I have accomplished a lot.

Now, if I can just put it together in a race!