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