Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Going For It

There is a unique race I am running this weekend-the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon.  It is unique, because it is a perfect set up for runners to qualify for the Olympic Trials half marathon standard of 1:05:00.  There are 104 elites entered in the race, 60 men and 44 women.  15 men have made the standard and running as a tune up, 45 are gunning for it.  I am proud to be one of those 45.

I am definitely going into this by feel, with the feeling that I will do my absolute best to make the most of it.  I want to run the race as strong as I possibly can, with absolutely nothing left in the tank by the time I cross the line.  Training has definitely gone well.  I posted my last 10 weeks of training below.  I feel very fit.  What I am hoping is that the combination of doing very high volume for the marathon training(august-october), and now doing more 4:40-4:50 pace workouts the last 2 months will give me a killer combination of strength and power in the 1 hour+ race distance.  Even getting my mile time down to 4:21 last May makes me more efficient, and chiseling my 5K down to 14:49 last May as well.  I did one last big workout on 12/23, and I feel very well rested after backing off 10 days before the race.

One thing's for sure, I will run as smart as I can, but will also hold NOTHING back.  I have worked too hard.

Article on the race:

10/26-11/1: 86 miles
Mon: 9.5 miles
Tues: 6 x 800m: 2:25, 2:25, 2:24, 2:23, 2:23, 2:23
Wed: 15 miles
Thurs: AM: 4 miles/PM: 3 mile tempo: 14:55
Fri: AM: 5 miles/PM: 4 miles + 4 x 200m strides
Sat: AM: 8 x 600m: 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46
Sun: 18 miles

11/2-11/8: 86 miles
Mon: AM: 3.5 miles/PM: 3200m of 50s: 10:09
Tues: 4 x 1200m: 3:36, 3:36, 3:36, 3:36
Wed: 15 miles
Thurs: AM: 5 mile progression w/ Conrad: 26:15/PM: 3 miles
Fri: 8 miles + 4 x 200m strides
Sat: AM: 6 x 800m: 2:23, 2:23, 2:23, 2:23, 2:23, 2:23/PM: 3 miles
Sun: 19 miles

11/9-11/15: 68 miles
Mon: AM: 5 miles/PM: 4.5 miles + 8 x 200m
Tues: AM: 5.5 miles/PM: 4 miles + 1600m: 5:07
Wed: 15 miles
Thurs: 6 miles
Fri: 5 miles + 4 x 200m strides
Sat: 4 miles
Sun: USATF 12K CHAMPIONSHIPS: 37:37, 25th, 5:02 pace

11/16-11/22: 48 miles + 2 pool runs(recovery week)

11/23-11/29: 60 miles
Mon: 4.5 miles
Tues: 6.5 miles
Wed: 5.5 miles
Thurs: Turkey Chase 10K: 31:30, 2nd place
Fri: 5 miles
Sat: 7.5 miles
Sun: 20 miles w/ Conrad

11/30-12/6: 100 miles
Mon: AM: 5 miles /PM: 3.5 miles
Tues: 4 x 1600m: 5:20, 5:07, 5:00, 4:59
Wed: 16 miles
Thurs: AM: 3 mile progression: 15:24 /PM: 7 miles
Fri: AM: 6.5 miles /PM: Drills + 8 x 100m sprints @ 95%
Sat: AM: 16 x 400m: 72, 72, 70, 70, 71, 70, 71, 71, 72, 70, 71, 70, 70, 70, 70, 71
PM: 7 miles
Sun: 20 miles

12/7-12/13: 95 miles
Mon: AM: 5 miles /PM: 4 miles
Tues: AM: 8 x 800m: 2:27, 2:27, 2:26, 2:26, 2:26, 2:25, 2:27, 2:26
PM: 3.5 miles
Wed: 15 miles
Thurs: AM: 5 mile progression: 26:04/PM: 7.5 miles
Fri: Drills + 4 x 200m sprints @ 95%31, 31, 31, 30
Sat: AM: 4 miles
PM: 11 x 600m: 1:48, 1:47, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:48, 1:47, 1:47
Sun: 20 miles

12/14-12/20: 96 miles      
Mon: AM: 5 miles/PM: 5 miles
Tues: 5 x 1200m w/ 400m jog between: 3:39, 3:39, 3:39, 3:39, 3:39
Wed: AM: 15 miles/PM: 6 miles
Thurs: AM: 5 mile progression with Conrad: 25:55: splits 5;17, 5:14, 5:13, 5:06, 5:03
PM: 4 miles
Fri: Drills + 3 x 300m sprints @ 95% (48 seconds each)
Sat: AM: 8 x 800m: 2:28, 2:25, 2:24, 2:23, 2:23, 2:23, 2:23, 2:22
PM: 7 miles
Sun: 18 miles

12/21-12/27: 60 miles      
Mon: 4.5 miles
Tues: 12.5 miles
Wed: 800m: 2:30, 1200m: 3:44, 1600m: 4:56, 1200m: 3:39, 800m: 2:24, 800m: 2:22
Thurs: AM: 4.5 miles/PM: 4 miles
Fri: 9 miles
Sat: rest
Sun: 14 miles

12/28-1/3: 37+
Mon: 5 miles
Tues: 10 miles
Wed: 6 miles + Drills + 8 x 100m strides
Thurs: 7 miles 
Fri: 3.5 miles
Sat: 5 miles + 4 strides

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Training 12/14-12/20

Last week was a tough training week.  On Tuesday, I did 5 x 1200m and progressed each lap, hitting 74, 73, 72 for 3:39 on each one.  The thing that has been building my confidence in doing these workouts is that there are only a few days between them.  On Thursday, Conrad and I met in a cold rain to do a 5 mile progression.  Conditions were absolutely miserable, and we were delighted that both of us showed up to make it less miserable...or at least be miserable together.  I wanted to start out comfortably around 5:20 pace and progress to 5:00 pace, and we did nearly just that, hitting 25:55 total time.  On Saturday, I did 8 x 800m before heading up to NJ with Beth for my cousin's wedding.  I had just enough time to squeeze in a 2nd run on the treadmill at the hotel before the wedding.  I ran on the treadmill and clipped along at 6:15 pace, then got ready.  Then Beth and I danced at the wedding.  Sunday, I got up as early as I could to get a nice 2 hour long run in NJ-to get back in time for brunch.  I was exhausted after the weekend, to say the least.  I don't know how I do it sometimes.

I saw Terrel on Monday-our last couple of sessions have been breakthroughs for my body and mind.  I have begun to learn how to access the parasympathetic state, which is allowing my body to receive the massage and no longer resist it.  I am experiencing much more effectiveness from it this way, and my body feels more whole from the work.  There are muscles that are extremely tight, and others more loose.  With continuous work eventually I think all those muscles can become more loose, and I will feel as close to perfect as a runner can feel.  That is what I feel I am achieving-near perfection of the body.  To get every single little piece, the details, all together is what enables a runner to run completely up to that line, and push towards limits.  

Below is my training from 12/14-12/20.      

Monday: AM: 5 miles/PM: 5 miles

Tuesday: 5 x 1200m w/ 400m jog between: 3:39, 3:39, 3:39, 3:39, 3:39

Wednesday: AM: 15 miles/PM: 6 miles

Thursday: AM: 5 mile progression with Conrad: 25:55: splits 5;17, 5:14, 5:13, 5:06, 5:03
PM: 4 miles

Friday: Drills + 3 x 300m sprints @ 95% (48 seconds each)

Saturday: AM: 8 x 800m w/ 400m jog between: 2:28, 2:25, 2:24, 2:23, 2:23, 2:23, 2:23, 2:22
PM: 7 miles

Sunday: 18 miles

Total: 96 Miles

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Training the Body + Mind

After the 12K Championship on 11/15, my coach and I sat down and talked about where to go from there.  Things are always interesting with my running, I'll say that.  I have a solid built up foundation of marathon training from the late summer/fall, and one thing I have noticed is that it has made me even tougher/stronger physically than before.  The amount of workouts I have been able to do during the week now are something I never could have done years ago.  It's like the marathon training just makes me super strong-and I have the foundation to handle the amount of intensity later on.  While my volume isn't crazy high right now, it doesn't need to be.  But I've still been coasting around 95-100/week-I'm pretty comfortable with that combined with hard speed work.  My long runs aren't very fast right now, but they don't really need to be either.  The track work, threshold, even sprinting and other sharpening stuff is what I am working on now.  We'll continue to work on my racing sharpness all the way towards April.  We're basically in quality phase now, after the base from the fall.

Training the Body and Mind

I have begun working with Terrel Hale(, who is a fantastic sports massage therapist and who also specializes in Active Release Techniques and Active Isolated Stretching.  Terrel knows the level of running I am at and am trying to get towards.  He is working with me on practicing breathing and the parasympathetic state.  The parasympathetic state is where the body is letting the massage do the work-which is hard for me to do!  It takes time.  I am learning more methods of training myself to relax my body, and to focus on my breathing.  I am also taking this focus towards mentally visualizing what a certain pace might feel like, and visualizing achieving my goals.  My coach and I have talked about this too.  Days after I see Terrel, I feel so much more fluid and more efficient on my runs.  The reason I would recommend Terrel is that he cares about your goals.  He knows what I am trying to achieve and because I am serious, so is he.  Ultimately, I know the combination of hard training, my coach, massage, diligence, and mental training can help me achieve my ultimate potential as a runner.  I am approaching the highest level of dedication the athlete needs in order to get the most out of everything.  I now have all the pieces that I must begin to use to put together.  If you are a serious athlete who is serious about achieving goals-and your potential, contact Terrel.  Please check out his website:    

The past few weeks of my training are below:


Mon: AM: 5 miles /PM: 3.5 miles
Tues: 2 mile warm up, 4 x 1600m w/ 400m jog between: 5:20, 5:07, 5:00, 4:59, 2.5 mile cool down
Wed: 16 miles
Thurs: AM: 2.5 mile warm up, 3 mile tempo: 15:24, 2 mile cool down /PM: 7 miles
Fri: AM: 6.5 miles /PM: 2.5 mile warm up, 8 x 100m sprints @ 95%, 2.5 mile cool down
Sat: AM: 2 mile warm up, 16 x 400m w/ 400m jog between: 
72, 72, 70, 70, 71, 70, 71, 71, 72, 70, 71, 70, 70, 70, 70, 71. + 1.5 mile cool down
PM:  7miles
Sun: 20 miles

Total: 100 Miles


Mon: AM: 5 miles /PM: 4 miles
Tues: AM: 1.5 mile warm up, 8 x 800m w/ 400m jog between: 2:27, 2:27, 2:26, 2:26, 2:26, 2:25, 2:27, 2:26, 2 mile cool down
PM: 3.5 miles
Wed: 15 miles
Thurs: AM: 2 mile warm up, 5 mile tempo: 26:04, /PM: 7.5 miles
Fri: PM: 4 mile warm up, 4 x 200m sprints @ 95%, 31, 31, 31, 30, 3 mile cool down
Sat: AM: 4 miles
PM: 2.5 mile warm up, 11 x 600m w/ 400m jog between: 1:48, 1:47, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:46, 1:48, 1:47, 1:47, + 2 mile cool down
Sun: 20 miles

Total: 95 Miles

Sunday, November 22, 2015

USATF 12K Championship: Fuel in the Fire

USATF 12K Championships
Alexandria, VA
Place: 25th
Time: 37:37
Pace: 5:02

It came back.  That hunger.  That fuel.  The zone.

The US 12K Championship went better than expected.  I think if it was 15K it would have gone even better.  I wasn't sharp enough to go faster but I was able to maintain a solid 5:02 pace for 7.5 miles.  It was a good effort that broke me free of the long marathon training just behind me, and I felt like I could improve on that 5:00 pace range I was running, under 5:00 pace with a little more sharpness.  I also knew this was something the marathon training had produced-a newer form of myself, hungry to run fast now with the long running to back me up-even with an unfinished marathon-the training was still completed.  I was also happy about the place.  To snag 25th in a championship race is really solid and I am proud of the way I competed.  I noticed I felt hungry for more after.  I felt a yearning to work on my zone.  15 kilometer, 10 mile, 13.1 mile racing.  My sweet spot.  I immediately began to feel like I could build a lot off this race.  And I was enjoying it.

It's time to get in my zone.  I talked to Roland over the phone over how good I felt during this race, and how I feel like this spring I am ready to do some serious damage in the 15K-13.1 racing zone.  I feel strong, recovered from the defeat in Chicago, and rejuvenated with a spirit full of fuel.  I feel it inside.  I have it.  I just need to go out there and use it! 

We talked over my racing schedule, and I contacted a man named Richard Clark Fannin, thanks to my good friend Jerry Greenlaw.  Richard is the director of the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon, and on January 3rd, 2016 he has put together an Olympic Trials Qualifying Project-a shot for US athletes to achieve the grueling 1:05:00 standard.  Just because he's simply awesome, he has a pacer, top US runner Tyler Pennel, who will run the sub 1:05:00(4:57 pace) standard, and so many great runners are running this.  It's too epic to pass up, so I decided the hell with it and go for it.  I do not have super high expectations-1:05:00-the Olympic Trials mark is a tall task.  I ran 1:07:29 2 years ago this coming January.  BUT, with numerous 1:06 guys in the race, there is no doubt there is a chance I could PR...and I do have a shot.  Hell, if I feel good running 1:05 pace, of course I'll go for it.  But my ultimate goal is to get the most out every race and my training-whatever that ends up being.  There will be some differences from last year.  There will be no concentration on 5K PRs next spring, unlike last year when I got into the 14:40's for the first time.  That was good last year but change is good.  You have to change things up to continue to develop.  There are 4 major races between January and April I am now looking at.  The outlook on the schedule is below.

January 3: Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon Olympic Trials Qualifying Race
Jacksonville, Florida

March 12: USATF 15 Kilometer Chamionships    
Jacksonville, Florida

April 3: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler
Washington, DC

April 30: USATF Half Marathon Championships
Columbus, Ohio

After the spring will be a targeted endurance segment, followed by the return to marathon specific training for the fall towards Marine Corps-with the intention to win the damn race.

This week I am racing the Turkey Chase 10K as a workout.  I just want to run to win.  Then it's back to more workouts heading into 2016.

Dream on.  Train.  Find Your Strong.


Friday, October 30, 2015


"It's the hardest thing in the world to believe in something." - Steve Prefontaine

October 25, 2015
Drum drum drum drum drum...  The drummers at the 14th street bridge played along as the leader in the distance came into sight.  I watched the leader, and eventual winner of the Marine Corps Marathon run by.  While I was out on a mission to cheer on my runners and clients I coach, I was also studying the course and the top runners in the race.  I rode my bike downtown and really studied the course, the hills, the ups and downs and flats.  Marine Corps is a fair course.  "Go Brian!", I cheered on my friend Brian Flynn.  He looked good-in shape.  He went on to grab 3rd place in 2:26-high, which impressively was actually more of a training run he was using for the California International Marathon, which he will race in early December.  The winner went on to run 2:24.  Brian and I have run identical races in almost every distance-we both have run in the 14:40's for 5K, 30:xx 10Ks, and 1:07 Half Marathons.  We go back and forth cheering each other on in various races throughout the year.  We are few of the Montgomery County runners left in our high school class of 2001 still training hard at this sport-he ran for Damascus, I ran for Quince Orchard.  We were never the state champions-we were good enough to make the all county teams.  Most of the other good runners(and runners that were better than we were) from our era stopped running after college, got injured, or got busy with life in general-kids, jobs, etc.  Brian and I weren't great runners in college(I was really not good at all), but we have gotten a lot better because we have stayed with the sport of running, continuing to train over the years, running 100+ mile weeks, for whatever reason.  You can call it addiction to competition, or training to find out one's limits.  Or passion to fulfill potential.  I think it makes us better people as a whole.  I always smile when I get a text from Brian if he is in town to go for a 20 miler together.  We'll run low 6's like we always do-and complain together about tough weather or whatever.  But we'll get it done.  No excuses, and that's why we keep getting better.  I think we motivate each other that way-we know we both are still at it and keep going, even though we don't run together that often.  I then saw Dickson Mercer, a GRC runner who ended up finishing a strong 16th.  Dickson has given me a lot of advice about the marathon and he has seen a lot of my improvement since 2009.  He is a very knowledgeable runner in the sport.  So, it was great to cheer on these guys.  It was a great day for spectating.  My runners did well, and my top marathoner, Marcus Jones, ran a PR of 2:50 to grab 53rd overall.

After a tough weekend in Chicago, I took a little bit of a break for 2 weeks.  I still did some light running and cross training(road biking), and it felt good to just relax and get my legs back underneath me.  This week, I began to feel more like myself.  Roland and I had a really lengthy conversation about the next steps and where I am in my overall fitness and development.  As I said in my last post, there is a lot of fitness gained from the training cycle despite the marathon not going as planned.  We agreed that doing a race like Marine Corps would give me a really good chance to win.  "If you start thinking about going into the race with the intention to win NOW, you will have the mental edge," he said.  He went on, "Let's work on winning the local race first, then move on to one of the big international races again.  Marine Corps is the perfect set up for you."

I think during the conversation, we found the answer perhaps to what I need to really do going forward, as explained below:

While the training cycle was a success, there are areas I need to improve in.  I need to run both faster AND slower.  "We need to get you to run faster on your quick runs, but ALSO slower on your longest runs."
Roland went on, "You got a little excited during that 26 mile run, and ran it a bit too quickly.  I think that cost you the race in Chicago."  Deep down, I knew he was right, but I also knew that I am getting this piece by piece.  Perhaps the only way of figuring this out was to push the envelope.  It's always been my style.  My first goal was to master the 26 mile run in training, and I accomplished was just a bit too quick.  Roland understands that, too-sometimes it takes piece by piece.

But also....I need to run faster.  "You've gotten comfortable running 5:30's in training, we need to get you to run like, 5:15's for some of these quick 16-20 mile runs. And you'll have to really bust your ass on these runs, it won't be easy, but it will also stimulate to run the longer runs slower."  I've kind of gotten stuck in the 5:30 pace zone for the quick runs.  The other piece to this is lengthening the long runs to 28-30 miles, and that perhaps would help me to run the "shorter 16-20" runs faster as well.  Perhaps they both will help each other.

So the next step in training might be instead of running 5:50 pace for 26, would be to stick to low 6's for the distance, and whatever pace makes sense if I lengthen the longer runs up to 28-30 miles.  But then if I can run 5:15 pace for the quick 16-20 milers, the range extends from lets say 5:15 for the quick runs to 6:15 for the longest runs.....instead of what was 5:30-5:50 for this cycle.  The difference is 1:00/mile vs only 20 seconds/mile difference.  You see what's happening here though, Roland and I are starting to talk about paces and times that at one time seemed impossible or unrealistic-and now somehow this looks achievable to me.  Yes, I'll have to bust my ass.  Roland will raise my mileage 10 mi/week(which actually is only an 8% increase).  We'll shoot for 110-115 per week as opposed to 100-105 per week during the endurance segment over the winter, and 130 per week as opposed to 120 per week for the marathon peak.  The speed workout volume will increase as well.  This all seems doable.  "You're ready for it," he said.  "You are ready for the highest level in training."

The other thing that is happening, is that I am faster in all aspects of the shorter distance training and speed workouts.  I've done stuff like 3 x mile in 4:40 a piece or pace cut downs like 2:30/2:15 800 splits.  I am finding that 4:50's is becoming more tempo like effort now...which used to seem to be 5:00's.  Moving forward, Roland is giving me a sharpening 3 week period leading up to the US 12K Championships.  We talked over that it would make sense to do the race, since I have been feeling good this week.  This week, October 26-Nov 1, is the first week I felt really good in a while.  On Tuesday, I did 6 x 800m in 2:25, 2:25, 2:23, 2:24, 2:23, 2:23, with 400m jog recovery.  On Wednesday, I did a hilly 15 miler in Boyds.  It poured rain and I got soaked on my climb back up the arduous hills.  As I climbed the hills, I found myself visualizing winning Marine Corps.  On Thursday, I did a 3 mile tempo in 14:55 at the AU track.  Splits were 4:59, 4:59, 4:56.  Saturday will be 8 x 600m.

The trials of miles, miles of trials...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Adaptation & Development

April 2002, Lynchburg College
I was racing in the mens 10,000m track race at Lynchburg college, wearing my Virginia Tech uniform, struggling to maintain a 5:30/mile pace.  My goal was to crack 35:00.  My friend, who I still train with occasionally, Brian Flynn, ran the 5,000m earlier and was cheering me on.  At mile 4 though, I unfortunately dropped out.  I was unable to maintain the pace, and there was nothing I could do about it.  I angrily went over to the fence, and stupidly kicked it.  Brian and I still joke about that.  I thought to myself, Am I a runner? I can't even finish this race!  I cannot break 35:00 for the 10K, why do I keep trying?  A few years later, I rolled through the 10K split in 34:20 during a hilly half marathon in Williamsburg, VA.  I went on to finish in 1:13:13, a personal best in only my second half marathon, at a 5:35 pace.  This was 2005. That same year, I also ran my debut marathon in 2:38:48, at the same time my 5K PR was a sub-par 16:17.

Present Day

By 2014-2015, after years of hard work, I've been able to get my body to race 5K in 14:49, 10K in 30:43, 10 miles in 50:56, and the 13.1 distance(my current best race) in 1:07:29-a 5:08 per mile.  I've even gotten my 1 mile time down to 4:21, certainly not my event.  Hard work pays off.  Plain and simple.  There is a correlation in my recovery improving and the amount of mileage I've been able to handle year to year. I used to be able to not run much more than 2,000-2,500 miles/year.  In the year 2014, I ran 4,200 miles.   And this year, I am on pace for 4,500-4,700 miles, an overall average of 90 miles/week.  So, whenever someone questions my mileage, I just smile back.  There is no doubt the higher mileage correlates with my times dropping faster and my strength improving.  I am a big believer in high mileage if your body can handle it.  And it is clear my body can.  So why haven't I been able to master racing the 26.2 distance?

Several days after my failed attempt at the Chicago Marathon last Sunday, I have had some time to analyze my struggle with the marathon but also my progression as a runner(as a whole, as explained above).  My experience with the race I believe has been more of an adaptation issue to race the distance at my capacity.  I think I almost had it this time around, because I felt closer than I ever have before to be able to race those final miles, but it just wasn't quite enough.  The adaptations are happening though, I feel them.  My body feels them.  5:30's do not really feel like hard running anymore.  They have become aerobic miles for me now.  I have been able to push the aerobic threshold higher, but at the same time, the adaptations haven't completely occurred yet.  What I need to continue doing is basically keep working at it, and not get too down when I cannot follow through completely in a race.  One of my friends, Dickson, mentioned to me I might be a bit more of like a Kenny Moore/Jeff Galloway/Charlie Spedding type of runner who benefits from doing over-distance training runs of 28-32 mile runs.  I feel like I am ready for that next time around.  This cycle I mastered being able to run 26 in training and that was part of my goal this season since last year I struggled with that.  A lot was accomplished during this cycle.

During dinner with my coach, we talked about the next steps.  "You still have another level to jump to."  he said.  I knew exactly what he meant.  He went on, "I haven't given you the whole thing yet, the training has another level.  Your body can take what few can."  What we talked about was increasing the amount of intensity(and therefore, volume) as well as the amount of overall volume(mileage) in general.  They go hand in hand.  We talked about the benefit of doing 28-32 mile runs in training, which we completely agree about doing.  This method of running longer than the race itself seems to have worked for me for other races too.  My best half marathons I have done brisk 20 milers in training-this is aerobic support.  It's all about the aerobic support.  This is what I studied when I coached myself, the methods of Brad Hudson's aerobic support training-I learned this and how to apply it to my own coaching.  It's what got me good.  The combination of Lydiard style and the knowledge of Hudson seems to becoming bread and butter for me.  I am a workhorse, and as I train and train, I eventually become bulletproof.  The marathon is a very hard event for me to master, but I think my body can figure it out, because I seem to respond to the training and it only makes sense that at some point I might be able to become bulletproof enough to run straight through the wall.  The real question is, when that happens, what is my potential?  I have yet to know this.  But first, for me, the challenge of the marathon for me is that it won't let me push through-yet-even though I want to.  Like Batman fighting tirelessly at Bane in Nolan's film, the marathon seems to always break me despite using all my strength.  But, there is a way.  I must become stronger than the distance itself.

To fully achieve potential, you have to push right up to your limits.  Right up to the edge.  You can't go past it though, because you'll step into the injury zone.  I have concluded that maybe somehow if I could have forced myself to finish that race Sunday, I am convinced I possibly would have injured something, very likely tearing a muscle since my legs were wrecked.  The reason I am so good at staying uninjured is because I learned how to avoid them, which I learned through A LOT of trial and error in college.  I had to learn when crossing that line was not a good idea.  On Sunday, the adaptations weren't there, and I knew it once my stride changed immediately and I was forced to stop.  While I push my body to the absolute limit, I also stay within those limits so it is not doing more harm than good.  Once the body is ready, we stay focused on the task at hand and push our limits.

After taking 3 days completely off this week, I felt "the itch" to run again and while my legs were a bit heavy, I felt good running easy on the trails of Cabin John for 51 minutes.  Then, at the end of the week, I headed out for a nice easy 10 miler on the gravel roads of Poolesville, MD.  It was one of those runs when your own thoughts came together.  I suddenly felt like I was on the right path....somehow, I knew, that things were headed in the right direction.  I thought about my racing schedule next year.  I sure am not doing Chicago again next year, that's for sure.  I thought about how much I love the Cherry Blossom race in DC, and got excited thinking about that next spring.  The DC races are awesome, I thought.  I always do well in the DC races.  I know the courses.  My pace quickened a bit.  Suddenly, I realized something.  Why do I keep flying out to Chicago each fall when the race is right here, right in my own backyard, waiting for me this whole time?  If the odds fell my way, this is a race I could possibly even win..  The Marine Corps Marathon.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Unknown

I've run some awesome races in the 1 mile, 3k, 5k, 8k, 10k, 10 mile, 13.1 mile over the past 2 years.

If only I can run just one awesome race in the marathon.  I surely can coach others at the distance!  Why am I not performing well in the marathon too?

If there are frustrated milers, then there might as well be frustrated marathoners.  I consider myself one hell of a frustrated marathoner at this point.  It's got me quite perplexed after today, as to why I haven't been able to push past the wall in this race.  The frustrating thing today is that I feel like I've tried everything at this point....things like different nutrition during the race, drinking more water, starting out slower...yes I even tried starting out slow for once today.  Didn't work..

This sounds ironic, but perhaps not getting injured is my curse.  Every good marathoner I know has either had some major surgery etc.....because they push past the limits of their bodies.  But perhaps I don't....perhaps it's something I intend to avoid and I am able to run 120 mile weeks and not get hurt.  Wait, this doesn't make sense at all...  this also makes it appear like I could run the marathon well.  Appears so... But I hit the wall today, hard.  So hard in fact, that I couldn't even jog it in, because I was certainly on pace for a huge PR and thought "well try to run it in at least"....couldn't even do that.  It's not mental.  If someone put a gun to my head to keep running  I literally would have tried and failed miserably by falling over.

I even started off extra slow this time(though I never thought that was an issue in others that I have hit the wall in-I think at least today validated that).  I started off almost too slow.  I let hundreds of people pass me, and I gradually worked into my pace.  I felt comfortable, really comfortable.  I felt like I was just going for a run!  The thing that gets me about this race is how comfortable I felt today.  I felt great!  I passed A LOT of people during the race...and I never felt like I went over that red line.  Even when I hit the wall, my aerobic system was fine!  But suddenly it was my legs.  My legs quit on me at mile 21 and I had to walk.  As if a lightning bolt struck my legs all of a sudden just went to a shuffle and then just like that they were if the workout was over.  No more stride, nothing.  You could have put a gun to my head and told me to keep racing and I would have been dead.  I tried to run again but it was no use.  It was over.

  I've used different nutrition during marathons too...I found the powerbar gel blasts work best for me now(at least in training during that 26 mile run I did...which was an AWESOME run!!!).  I've run some great races the past 2 years and have PR'd in distances 1 mile to the half marathon since 2014. But in the marathon, I'm stumped.  I got sick last year(whatever that meant...bad luck?).  I've thought of other things-maybe I am over-training?  Too much mileage but yet my body can handle it?  Maybe I am just not ready to race the marathon yet(I'm 32 though!-wtf!)?  Maybe I shouldn't do tune-up races(like va beach which was disastrous)?  This has happened to me before I started working with my coach, so it's been there before, this is very familiar to me.  I only have my coach to thank who has helped me reach new levels in workouts and PRs this past year, and I adjust things based on how I feel as well so we're on the same page.  It's a good team effort.

Is it tapering?  The last 4 weeks were 98, 100, 75, and this week was 70-ish.  My high mileage weeks were 120, so I felt pretty well rested from this taper.  Perhaps I need to pound the pavement more in workouts instead of hitting softer surfaces?  I did a hard 15 miler on the road, but I did an 18 and a 20 both fast on the towpath.  But I also run 50% of my weekly mileage on roads....but that's not hard running...

In all honesty I'm completely puzzled at this point.  I'd be interested if there is anyone out there(who has run well in the shorter distances) who has FAILED miserably at this distance 10+ times but then knocked one out of the park and what they think worked/didn't.  I know too many people who are unsatisfied with their shorter distance times but for some reason can just kill it in the marathon.  It's crazy to me some people I know can practically double their half marathon pace.  I also know a lot of good marathoners who run the race well tend to have gone through some very tough injuries.  I do not get injured...don't ask me why or how but I have figured it out somehow...but maybe I subconsciously am avoiding pushing my body past its limits so I can stay healthy?   But that doesn't make any sense...I am certainly pushing myself in training and other races.  Diet?  I try to eat as healthy as I can.  I think diet would contribute to all my races too, not just one.  And I feel healthy.  I don't can see I'm searching for all kinds of explanations here....but maybe there is no explanation.  Or that it's just the way it goes.  If I run well in the shorter stuff, I won't run well in the marathon.  Maybe I need to wait until I start to get slow in the shorter stuff...because right now that sure ain't happening.  I have run a PR in the 1 MILE this year.  GEEZ!

I do know that I love the training for the marathon, and it does seem to help my other upcoming races afterwards.  I think even if I decided to not race marathons anymore, I would still do the training for them because it would benefit me to race well in the other events.

But as a 1:07 half marathoner and someone who can handle 120 mile weeks and 26 mile training runs, I refuse to believe that I am not cut out for the marathon.  I just haven't been able to figure this damn race out.  I want to believe I can run and not hit that wall.

I guess the only way of knowing what you can achieve is to try.  Try to reach into the unknown and see what you can pull out of it.  I am determined to still master this race, because I think I can.  But I need to look into what it will take for me to run a good one.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

9/13: Marathon Training Run

Today validated that much of the hard work is paying off in my training.  I did the "distance" of the marathon today.  Last year, I attempted this run, and only I failed miserably at it.  The last 5-6 miles I really struggled.  So I really wanted to nail this run this time.  I knew it would give me confidence for the marathon race next month.  To actually race this distance, is quite a work of art.  A friend of mine did a similar training run, doing the distance in 2:34 one month before he raced a 2:24.  He believes it really helped him, and my coach also began training me this way last year when he started with me.  I think this year I have begun to adapt well to his training style, and the results are certainly showing.  I've had occasional "off" races, but I've had very good races and a consistent pattern to my training that is developing my running engine to a higher threshold.  Today, I woke up to a cool, crisp breeze and the weather was pleasantly not hot and humid.  After training in much of these arduous conditions, not to mention a terrible half marathon race last weekend in va beach that was completely full of humidity, I was pleasantly surprised by the cool and less humid weather.  The Va Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon last weekend was just plain awful.  I was a complete idiot for one thing-I went out wayyyyyy too fast and underestimated how humid it was.  After a 5:02 first mile, I went through 5K in 15:54, 10K in 32:24, 10M in 53:12, and I crawled home in 1:11.   It felt somewhat like a hard training run, so I tried to stay positive about it.  But I was pissed and bitter, the conditions were terrible.  Humidity is awful-I actually think I can handle heat pretty well though(just look at the rockville twilighter result when it was scorching that evening).  But I told myself that it was a lesson to start out slower especially in really bad conditions.  I think also though I was a bit tired from all the training I had been doing.  That week was a down week mileage wise-but I still did a 3 mile tempo earlier that week in 15:03, which I felt good about, but certainly I knew going into the race that I'm trying to run the marathon well here, not the half.  I had also done back to back 3 x 120 mile weeks in a row-the highest consistent volume I've done.  The mileage during the race week was 70, which felt really nice to recover a bit-it was a much needed break.  Going into this week I did easy runs until I felt a bit more "normal" again, according to my coach.  Then the attempt would be made on the 26 mile training run today.

I woke up this morning to pleasant weather-it finally cooled off(FINALLY!!), and there was a nice breeze in the air as the humidity cleared.  I drove out to Whites Ferry, to where my favorite 10 mile loop was.  I was to do 2 loops, and then add on an out and back 6 mile.  This was great because I could loop back to my car, grab water/fuel and keep things going.  I went alone.  I needed to do this alone.  I mentally visualized the way I should run a marathon race.   Patience, patience, patience.  Start out slow.  Build.

I started out gently, and gradually let my body naturally build into the pace.  I was able to start out mid to low 6's, and kept low 6's for the first 10 miles, coming through 61 min.  The second loop I started running faster, going through the 2nd 10 miles in 57 min, so it progressed really well.  I was amazed at how efficient I ran.  The last 6 I couldn't believe how strong I felt, and did an out and back along the rolling dirt road, finishing the run in 2:33.  I think the last 6 miles I felt somewhat like He-Man when he got his sword back(yes for those of you youngsters reading, this is cheezy, but hey, this was epic if you grew up in the 80s!):

2:33.  Shit, that's a new PR, isn't it?  I thought to myself.    The run came out to a bit over 26 actually, so I might have damn ran the exact 26.2 distance-at least as close as possible.  At any rate, I consider this an unofficial new marathon PR.  But I think this just tells me how now I am beginning to catch up.  Perhaps I can race a 2:22 next month.  I can't get caught up in the trials pace(2:18), I need to run my own race if I am going to conquer this.  I must start out slow that first mile.  The mental training is now what I must do.  The physical is mostly done at this point.  I have a quick 20 miler next weekend, and then the taper begins.  My coach has trained me well the last year.  Now I must mentally train myself to relax and run my own race.  This is the most important part of running, to enjoy it.  It truly is a journey.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

The 120 Mile Weeks

I'll pick up right after the twilighter.  I went right into 2 weeks of pure endurance work.  After that I have done specific marathon training.  You can see a lot of progression in fitness, especially the last 2-3 weeks.  I see good things ahead.

July 20-26:

M- AM: 9 miles with Jerry/ PM: 3 miles
T-  AM: 15 miles with Brian/PM: 3 miles
W- AM: 5 miles/PM: Hill Repeats/9 miles
Th- AM: 18 miles(14 with Brian)/PM: 4 miles
F- 8 x 200m strides with 200m jog, 9 miles
S- AM: 12 miles @ Beach Drive, hilly: 1:09(5:45 pace)/PM: 3 miles
S- 20 miles

Total: 110 miles

July 27-August 2:

M- AM: 5.5 miles/ PM: 5.5 miles + drills
T-  AM: 15 miles/PM: 5 miles
W- AM: Hill Repeats(8.5 miles)/PM: 6 miles
Th- AM: 10 miles w/ 8 x 200m strides/PM: 7.5 miles
F- AM: 18 miles(6:30 pace)/PM: 3 miles
S- AM: 3.5 miles/PM: 7.5 miles
S- 22 miles: 2:18(6:15 pace)

Total: 117 miles

August 3-August 9:

M- AM: 4 miles/PM: 5.5 miles + drills
T-  AM: 5 miles/PM: Track(5:00 pace): 800m: 2:31, 1600m: 5:01, 2400m: 7:30, 9 miles
W- AM: 4.5 miles/PM: 8.5 miles
Th- AM: 12 miles/PM: 4 miles
F- AM: 10 miles/PM: 4 miles
S- AM: 4 miles/PM: 8.5 miles
S- AM: 15.5 miles quick on road: 1:25(5:30 pace)/PM: 4 miles

Total: 100 miles

August 10-August 16:

M- AM: 8 miles/PM: 5.5 miles
T-  AM: 9.5 miles/PM: 6 miles
W- AM: 14.5 miles(6:25 pace)
Th- AM: 16 miles(6:30 pace)/PM: 4.5 miles
F- AM: 10.5 miles/PM: 7 miles
S- AM: Track(4:40 pace): 600m: 1:45, 800m: 2:20, 1200m: 3:32, 
800m: 2:20, 800m: 2:21, 600m: 1:45, 9 miles/PM: 5 miles
S- 24 miles: 2:27(6:07 pace)

Total: 120 miles

August 17-August 23:

M- AM: 3.5 miles/PM: 6 miles
T-  AM: 9.5 miles/PM: Track(4:22 pace): 12 x 300m, 9 miles
W- 18 miles
Th- 16 miles
F- AM: 12 miles/PM: 5 miles
S- AM: 11 miles/PM: 8 miles
S- AM: 18 miles quick on towpath: 1:39(5:30 pace), out and back: 50:00/49:00/PM: 4 miles

Total: 120 miles

I got into the elite section of the Va Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon, which is on Sept 6.  My coach and I agree that there should be no reason why I shouldn't have a shot at winning, or at the very least go with the leaders.  I don't really get scared of thinking about 5:00 pace anymore, but I am not focused on time of this race, rather running strong and getting in a very good fast pace, and to race others.  This race will sharpen me up, and then the real target is the Chicago Marathon on Oct 11.  What kind of shape am I molding into this fall I am starting to get an idea of but still cannot say exactly, but I CAN say that I will train and run my own best race possible.  One thing I learned TODAY: If I had continued running the pace I was running today for another 45 minutes(and I felt like I could have), I would have run a 2:24 marathon.  And I wasn't racing, it was a workout-off of 120 miles/week.  For those that have followed this blog, despite all of my leaps in nearly all distance races and accomplishments, there is one gorilla on my back still.  My very, very weak marathon pr from 2012.  I actually really enjoy the doubters/critics of my sub-par marathon performances in the past, because I think eventually there will be an entire connection of all these pieces to a bigger picture that people(and most importantly, that I) will see.  You work on one part, then another.  There is a very consistent progression where all the distances I have raced connect to each other, and that I have begun to apply to my coaching.  What I have learned is that progression takes time and patience.  I think most runners are impatient(including myself), we want results, results, results!  You need to improve little things at a time.  When I ran my debut marathon at age 21, my 5K PR was 16:17, and I ran a 2:38 marathon.  I actually thought I would never break 16 for a 5K-I had the hardest time doing so in college.  People were puzzled why I couldn't.  My 5K now? 14:49, and it's probably one of my softer PRs compared to others!  In 2008, I was 60th+ place in the twilighter 8k.  I almost won this year.  For a while, at one time, I thought I would never run faster than 1:13 for the half marathon.  Then I popped a 1:10, and then a 1:08 in the same year.  In 2014 I ran 1:07.  I look forward to tackling Chicago. 

Persistence.  The Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials.

-C. Sloane

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Battle in the Heat

July 18, 2015

Last Saturday, I went head to head with a very good Ethiopian runner named Abu Kebede.  I didn't really know how good he was until after the race when I looked up his race performances.  The performance that caught my eye was his 1:05 half marathon this past spring, 2 minutes better than my personal best for that distance, and the level I am so hardly working towards getting to.  The Twilighter 8K is a tough course, and the heat and humidity that night would surely put my fitness to the test.  Conditions for racing were downright as tough as they could get.  I knew that if someone were to beat me in this race, they would have to be very fit.  July 13-19 was the last week of the sharpening stuff my coach has had me work on.  On Monday, I did 2 miles of 50m alternating sprint/floats again in 9:43, which was my fastest time doing that exercise-I'm happy with how much I've improved that.  On Tuesday, I did a mile in 4:29, and that was the end of the sharpening phase.  There was just this race, and then we would do 2 weeks of endurance, before marathon specific training begins in August.

We blasted off into the darkness, where the heat and hills waited.  I was looking for guys around me, but I found myself alone....except for one.  Kebede came up on my left shoulder and took the lead, with me drafting.  I guess the others felt we were going suicide pace....which in this heat, was.  I drafted off Kebede, staying right on him.  I could tell he was surprised I was there, and we hammered up the hills on the first 2 miles of the course.  I wasn't really concerned about our splits or pace, the conditions were so bad.  I wanted to win.

We made our way towards the turn at Washington Street where many cheered.  I had started to lead the race at this point, with Kebede drafting.  We turned a hard left towards the second part of the course.  It would be tough to do, but I felt I had a good shot to beat this guy.  I decided to hammer the second part of the course and try to lose him a bit.  I surged at times, especially uphills....problem was he was the same build as me, and was just as good on hills, so he was able to match every move I made.  We were both very evenly matched.  We passed mile 3.

STAY WITH IT CHRIS! I heard my friend John cheer.  Mile 4 was a hard push, I was still trying to gain distance on Kebede.  I felt I almost broke him during that mile.  We made a right turn onto 355 and the last mile was an all out brawl.  We ran side by side waiting to see who would go first.  By now I was laboring a bit and the humidity and heat was tough.  There was no one behind us for quite a ways.  One of us would win.  Focus.  I thought how this guy must be hurting just as bad as I was by now.  I then thought, damn, what was I... 64th in this race in 2008?  Indeed, I was.  It's great when you look back to getting your ass kicked....and now in contention for the win.

The last 1/2 mile Kebede made a move.  He surged ahead and I tried to draft on him.  I heard runners from the opposite side cheer GO CHRIS!!!  Then George Buckheit yelled to get the fire going.  Time to dig.  HE'S HURTING CHRIS! YOU CAN BEAT HIM!!  I surged, and to Kebede's surprise, I went ahead of him.  I think he then realized I was not going down easily, and I felt him getting ready for his next surge.  200 meters to go.  I could see the line in sight.  Just get to the line, dammit.  Kebede then surged past me again, but this time I fought him, and perhaps, mistakenly, went too soon.  I went ahead of him with less than 100 meters remaining....I still had the lead with 50 or 60 meters to go but he was able to muster one last surge and I went hard again but could not go into a full sprint anymore.  We both ran as hard as we could through the line and he beat me by a second or two.  It was a hard fought effort and I think it humbled both of us.  We both hit the pavement in exhaustion, and as I finally got myself up I went over to him, seeing him lying on the ground too made me realize that, damn I really made him work for it.  I helped him up and congratulated him.  I think he and I had a mutual respect for each other-we were evenly matched and the difference between us was in the surges we had, and that we were both truly longer distance runners.  The conditions were downright brutal, and we had beaten each other to a pulp.

The night of the race I couldn't fall asleep for a while, tossing and turning and replaying the last 50 meters in my head over, and over.  The next morning I ran 20 miles in 2:07, at a pretty good 6:20 clip, in quite brutal humidity.  It seems like my easy pace for long runs has become low 6's.  84 miles for that week.

2 weeks of Endurance

Now I am doing endurance through next week.  The goal is to get in the volume(my coach wants me at least 108 for these 2 weeks) and transition out of the sharpening into marathoning.  The great thing here is that I am really fit going into the cycle, and I don't think it will take very long before I get into very ideal marathon shape.  We are done with the short races now, and there will be one tune-up half marathon at the VA Beach Rock N Roll 13.1 on Sept 6.  Then the Chicago Marathon on October 11.

This week July 20-26: 110 miles

M- AM: 9 miles with Jerry/ PM: 3 miles
T-  AM: 15 miles with Brian/PM: 3 miles
W- AM: 5 miles/PM: Hill Repeats/9 miles
Th- AM: 18 miles(14 with Brian)/PM: 4 miles
F- 8 x 200m strides with 200m jog, 9 miles
S- AM: 12 miles @ Beach Drive, hilly: 1:09(5:45 pace)/PM: 3 miles
S- 20 miles: 2:16

Total: 110 miles

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pushing the Pace

June and July have been very hard working months, in terms of intensity.  My coach has me pushing the pace to get sharp enough before we transition to marathon specific training.  It's been great.  I've never felt more efficient.  The speed work is broken up during the week.  Instead of having just one gigantic killer workout, having multiple smaller workouts while keeping the mileage relatively high I believe has enabled me to recover better.  You can see the training below the past several weeks, and how it has built up from previous weeks in May and April.  I've been able to handle this training because of the endurance segment I did over the winter(see my February post  I'm starting to see how things are connecting here, and building off each other.  The idea is that now the faster stuff is becoming more natural to me, and much of the paces I've been doing have been between 4:20's-4:40's.  These workouts have made 5:00 pace seem "easier."  My weakness has always been running shorter at faster speeds.  Yes I can run an all out 4:21 mile on the roads, but my real strength is being able to run just slightly slower for a much longer period of time.  The training is geared towards running just a little bit slower than that all out mile I ran, and getting comfortable with it.  My coach has also been having me work on pace changes, which has made the harder pace actually seem easier.

On June 13, I battled Chris Kwiatkowski at the Lawyers Have Heart 10K in very tough heat and humidity.  Despite Chris pulling away the last mile to beat me by 24 seconds, I was pleased I was able to stay on him for most of the race.  Chris is a 1:04 half marathoner and arguably DC's top runner.

On this past July 4th, I won the hilly Autism Speaks 5K in Potomac.  After messing around with a 4:45 first mile with a young college kid, I went ahead and hammered the rest of the course to finish in 15:24, which for that course I was happy with the time.  The second half of the course is the hardest and most hilly.  My coach also came to the race which was nice.  I did some research to see if my time was close to the course record, and I found Ethiopian Gurmessa Megressa ran 15:18 in 2009.  So close.    

Below is my training the last several weeks:

June 1 - June 7:

Mon- AM: 3200m of 50m on/off: 10:15, 5 miles total/PM: 7 miles  
Tues- 1200m: 3:34, 1600m: 4:46, 2000m: 5:59, 9 miles total
Wed- AM: 16 miles/PM: 3 miles
Thurs- 9 miles w/ 5 mile pickup
Fri- AM: 5 miles/PM: strides + 5 miles
Sat- 4 x 1200m w/ pace accelerations:
Interval 1: 600m: 1:54, 600m: 1:41, 
Interval 2: 600m: 1:55, 600m: 1:41
Interval 3: 600m: 1:52, 600m: 1:41, 
Interval 4: 600m: 1:52, 600m: 1:40
7 miles total/PM: 8.5 miles
Sun- 20 miles

Total: 95 miles

June 8 - June 14:

Mon- AM: 5 miles/PM: 3200m of 50m on/off: 9:50, 7 miles total
Tues- 1600m: 4:33, 6 miles total
Wed- 11 miles
Thurs- 7 miles + strides
Fri- AM: 4 miles/PM: 3 miles
Sat- Lawyers Have Heart 10K, 2nd place
Sun- AM: 14 miles/ PM: 6 miles

Total: 75 miles

On June 17-27, I went to Florida with Beth's family for vacation.  I also got acclimated to training in the heat.  I got very, very used to the heat there.

June 15 - June 21:

Mon- AM: 5 miles/PM: 7 miles
Tues- AM: 10 miles/PM: 3.5 miles
Wed- AM: 2 x 2400m: 7:12, 7:15, 8.5 miles total
PM: 5.5 miles
Thurs- AM: 14 miles/PM: 5 miles
Fri- AM: 7.5 miles/PM: 5.5 miles + strides
Sat- AM: 2 x 2400m: 7:10, 7:14/PM: 7 miles
Sun: 20 miles

Total: 106 miles

June 22 - June 28:

Mon- AM: 3200m of 50m on/off: 10:12, 6 miles total
PM: 5 miles
Tues- AM: 4 x 1200m w/ pace accelerations:
Interval 1: 600m: 1:52, 600m: 1:42, 
Interval 2: 600m: 1:49, 600m: 1:41
Interval 3: 600m: 1:51, 600m: 1:41, 
Interval 4: 600m: 1:52, 600m: 1:41
6.5 miles total/PM: 4 miles
Wed- AM: 15 miles/PM: 5 miles
Thurs- AM: 3 mile tempo: 15:03, 6 miles total/PM: 5 miles
Fri- AM: 8 miles/PM: 5 miles + strides
Sat- AM: 2 x 1600m: 4:40, 4:42, 2 x 800m: 2:21, 2:21, 6 miles total
PM: 4 miles
Sun- 20 miles, 2:05:00, 6:15 pace

Total: 96 miles

June 29 - July 5:

Mon- AM: 3200m of 50m on/off: 10:05, 5.5 miles total
PM: 7 miles
Tues- AM: 1600m: 4:31, 4.5 miles total/PM: 4 miles
Wed- AM: 6 miles/PM: 8 miles
Thurs- AM: 6 miles/PM: 3.5 miles + strides
Fri- 4.5 miles
Sat- Autism Speaks 5K, 1st place, 15:24
Sun- 20 miles

Total: 80 miles

July 6 - July 12:

Mon- AM: 5.5 miles/PM: 4 miles
Tues- AM: 12 miles/PM: 5 miles
Wed- AM: 4 x 1200m w/ pace accelerations:
Interval 1: 600m: 1:49, 600m: 1:40, 
Interval 2: 600m: 1:49, 600m: 1:40,
Interval 3: 600m: 1:49, 600m: 1:40, 
Interval 4: 600m: 1:51, 600m: 1:41
7.5 miles total/PM: 7.5 miles
Thurs- AM: 8 miles/PM: 6 miles
Fri- AM: 12 miles/PM: 5.5 miles + strides
Sat- 3 x 1600m: 4:40, 4:40, 4:39, 10 miles total 
Sun- 20 miles

Total: 104 miles

Saturday was one of the best workouts I've ever had in terms of quality.  You can see the improvements here week to week.  It's great when you're doing a 2 mile on the track with 50m on and 50m off and still run a 9:50....a time I would race all out when I was in high school.  Sunday(tomorrow) will be 20 miles, and my mileage this week will be around +/- 105.  My last race of the summer will be the Rockville Twilighter on July 18.  I'm really excited for this race.  The last time I ran this was in 2012, where I placed 6th in 25:08.  After the twilighter, the training will switch over and I'll do 2 weeks of endurance work, and go right into specific marathon training in August.  The difference here is that I will be going into the training very aerobically strong and fast(used to 100 mpw already with high intensity), and shifting the workouts by putting more effort into the longer runs and longer tempos, and moving my mileage up to 120 mpw.  Since dropping out of Chicago last year, I've been determined to come back to the windy city and finish the damn race this time.  I'll pick up where I left off last time, which was at mile 16.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Changing Gears

I've been doing some nice shorter distance racing towards the end of spring/beginning of summer.  Things have been going really well and I feel like I have gotten a lot more efficient at running faster.  I've hit some PRs this spring, so far in the mile, 5K, and my coach and I agree that Cherry Blossom would have been, but the course got changed and therefore is an unknown(even though they re-measured it again and again-at first saying it was 9.54, then making it 9.39.  You just don't know what the result for 10 miles really would have been(they have me at 50:56 extrapolated).  What we do know is that I competed very well in that race(#20, 12th American).  Kieran O'Connor, one of the top runners in the area(and a sub 1:06 half marathoner), beat me last year by nearly 30 seconds, in 50:30.  This year, I surprisingly beat him by nearly a full minute, however I later learned that he had a tough time since his shoe came untied during the race.  Interestingly, last year, I was 5 minutes and 28 seconds behind winner Stephen Sambu(he ran 45:29 and I ran 50:57).  This year, I was 4 minutes and 28 seconds behind the repeat champion, exactly 1 minute closer to him.  Stephen certainly ran slower than last year, and the distance was slightly shorter, but I'll never really know what these times mean, just that maybe, just maybe, I have gotten a bit closer to these world class guys, and clawing my way closer to the top American guys.  I also believe Jacob Riley would have gotten Greg Meyer's 46:13 American record.  It was impossible for the Cherry Blossom race organizers to do so, however.  Again, you just don't know-it wasn't the full 10 mile distance and it was a different course.  I give Cherry Blossom's crew a huge applause for keeping the race going, I was amazed they were able to do so given the circumstances.  There were some very good athletes in this race.  Jared Ward, the 2015 US Marathon Champion, placed 10th, and Luke Puskedra(1:01 half marathoner) out of Eugene, Oregon, was 12th.    
Top 25 Results:


May 11 - May 17

On Monday, May 11, I competed in the Swarthmore track meet 5,000m.  There were 3 heats of 25 runners in each heat, and I was in heat 1.  I placed 7th overall in a new personal best of 14:49.  My splits were pretty even(4:42, 9:25).  My friend Ashwin took some really cool photos and I will post soon.

The rest of that week was just general distance running and then a short workout on Saturday, May 16.  The goal was to start working on switching gears.  I did a 2400m, running the first 1,000m in 3:10(5:05 mile pace), and then I did the last 1400m in 4:05(4:40 mile pace), to finish the 2400m in 7:15.  

71 miles for the week.

May 18 - May 24

5/18: 3200m of 50m on/off: 10:10 total time.  I've gotten much better at these.  What used to be my best 2 mile in high school is now a moderate workout that is small compared to the rest of the week.
5/19: 3 x 1600m: 4:47, 4:48, 4:49, w/ 1 lap jog between each interval
5/20: 15 miles 6:30 pace
5/21: 3 x 400m: 62, 63, 64

66 Miles for the week.

May 25 - May 31

On Monday, May 25, I raced the Loudoun Street Mile in a new PR of 4:21.  This will really help the slower paces feel a lot slower, and was good to work on my running efficiency.  I placed 8th.
On May 28 I did a 3 mile tempo run on the track in 15:05.
On May 30 I did a pace changing workout again.  The goal was to switch from running 5:00 pace to 4;30 pace.  Splits below:
3 x 1600m, w/ 800m splits below:
2:30, 2:16
2:30, 2:16
2;30, 2:18

80 Miles for the week.

On Monday, June 1, I did 3200m of 50s again(10:15 total time).

On Tuesday, June 2, I did a ladder workout @ 4:46 pace:
1200m: 3:34
1600m: 4:46
2000m: 5:59

Wednesday, June 3 I got in 16 miles in the morning, followed by another 3 miles in the evening.  My mileage should be higher this week, and it is gradually climbing up over the summer.

My next race will be the Lawyers Have Heart 10K on June 13.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Monday Night 5,000m

I intend to write a race report on Cherry Blossom, but first I want to cover what I have done since.   Following Cherry Blossom, I have continued to sharpen my speed.  My mileage has been lower, but simultaneously my speed has gotten very, very sharp.  I have highlighted my workouts below during each week.  I did Pikes Peek 10K as more of a tempo run, as I realized I wasn't fully recovered after Cherry Blossom to race.  But since then, I've been feeling really, really good.

4/13-4/19: 60 miles
4/16: 3 x 1600m(50m on/50m off): 5:00, 4:53, 4:55
4/18: 1200m(3:37), 1600m: 4:48, 2000m: 6:05

4/20-4/26: 52 miles
4/21: 1600m: 4:41
4/26: Pikes Peek 10k: 31:29, 4th

4/27-5/3: 75 miles
4/30: 12 x 400m w/ 200m jog: 66, 68, 66, 68, 67, 67, 67, 67, 65, 65, 65, 65
5/2: moderate progression tempo: 3 miles: 15:15(5:19, 5:01, 4:55)

5/4-5/10: 51 miles
5/4: 3200m w/ 50m on/50m off: 10:15
5/7: 1600m: 4:37

Monday, 5/11, I race the Swarthmore 5,000m.  When I did that 12 x 400m workout on 4/30, I knew that was the key workout I needed for confidence in the 5K.  Not only was the pace averaging 65-67(13:50 5k pace!!), but the RECOVERY was only 200m jogs between(1:00 jogging recoveries).  I always know I am in my best shape when I can do a workout with short recoveries, whether training for a 5K, half marathon, or marathon, it's all relative.  Unless something goes drastically wrong in the race, I don't see how it's possible for me not to PR.  My best 5K is 14:53 from 2013.  I do feel like something quite fast is possible, I know that sub 70s feel doable, which would put me in the 14:20's.

How fast can I go?  We'll see Monday night.  I am certainly not going to hold anything back on this one.

12 1/2 laps on the track. All out.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

50 Minutes

My current best time at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is from last year's race, in 50:57.  I was strong last year. but I feel stronger this year.  After the USA Cross Country Championships last December, I got to work.  I ran that race off of low mileage, a bit out of shape, and frankly, I got my ass kicked.  Roland and I got to work during the winter, doing the endurance segment he has been trying to get me to do for quite some time now.  To my own stubbornness, I declined the chance to do it last spring.  When I first started with him, it was May 2014, after a very successful spring season, and I had already decided to extend my season and do the Gary Bjorklund Half in June.  Roland didn't want me to do it, but I had committed to the race and the plane ticket was booked.  Ironically this is when I had approached him as if my subconsciousness knew I needed his help(and I did!).  He would have much rather me do an endurance segment, and it is not until I actually did it this past winter that I see why(I also didn't run that fast in the race anyway).  After that race, it was too late to do much of a segment, and we had to go into specific marathon training(keep in mind to not confuse this with high mileage, the endurance segment is more about getting more comfortable at running faster for longer periods of time, instead of sharpening).  Nonetheless, I knew I was strong and I attempted to do the Chicago Marathon but dropped out due to illness, but I think the illness was a sign of weakness, that something was missing.  This winter was the first time I did the Arthur Lydiard-style endurance segment.  Roland coaches me much like the Lydiard style, which I really do well under physically.  I trained myself during the winter to physically and mentally learn how to get comfortable running faster for a long time, off of high mileage and no track workouts.  Saturdays, I would run 12 miles pretty quick.  On Sunday, I would run 20 miles at the same pace or faster.  Much of my paces during these runs this winter were around 5:40 pace, and the pace started to feel sort of comfortable if that makes any sense.  I also noticed that I really enjoyed this phase.  "This is the hardest type of training you will ever do." Roland said as I talked to him over the phone.  "You may have never done this before."  I felt like I hadn't, though it gave me a sense of familiarity to a time when I trained for my debut marathon in 2005, which at the time was a breakthrough race for me.

For the past 4 months, I have run about 1,600 miles, averaging 100 miles/week, and have done it completely healthy.  In March I started track workouts and the sharpening of my speed has gone well.  My mileage went down once I started track stuff, and now it's time for competition.  I feel like I am in shape to break 50:00, but I'll certainly take beating my time from last year.  In order to do this, I need to run even, and really aim to attack the 2nd half of the race well.  I've never been able to negative split this race-last year I went through the first 5 miles in 25:15, and finished the 2nd 5 in 25:42.  My plan is to get to 10K in under 31:00(and feeling strong is key), if I can do that I know I'll be ready to break 50:00.  The later parts of the race I feel sharp enough to unleash my speed with 2 miles to go.  I know I have that sharpness that I didn't have last year.  I want to run the last 2 miles very, very fast.  I've tapered well going into this, this week below:

M- 2 x 1600m of 50s(50m sprint, 50m float): total times were 5:30, 5:15, 7 miles total
T-AM: 5 miles/PM: 6 miles
W-AM: strength training + 2 x 800m @ close to race pace: 2:30, 2:29, 5 miles total
PM: 4 miles
Th-AM: pool run 35-40 minutes
F-AM: easy 45 min
S-easy 3-4 miles + strides(this afternoon)

Some race press below on page 2, thanks to Jake Klim and Cherry Blossom:

Good luck to all running tomorrow!

Sunday, April 5, 2015



M- 1600m of 50s (50m sprints, 50m floats), 8.5 miles total

T- AM: Track: 600m(1:44), 800m(2:20), 1000m(2:56), 800m(2:21), 800m(2:19), 800m(2:20)
9.5 miles total
PM: 4.5 miles

W- 14.5 miles in Poolesville

Th- AM: 9 miles(progressed last 3 miles down to 5:15 pace)
PM: 4 miles

F- AM: 3 miles w/ 4 strides

S- AM: Track: 2 x 300m(50 sec), 13 x 200m(32-33 seconds each, w/ 200m jog), 
7 miles total
PM: 7 miles

S- AM: 19 miles
PM: 4 miles

Total: 90 miles


M- 2 x 1600m of 50s (50m sprints, 50m floats), Duration(s): 6:00, 5:30
6.5 miles total

T- AM: Track: 2400m: 7:19, 1600m: 4:52, 800m: 2:23, 
8 miles total
PM: 3.5 miles

W- AM: 14.5 miles in Poolesville
PM: 5.5 miles

Th- AM: 3.5 miles w/ 4 strides

F- AM: Track: 8 x 600m: 1:46, 1:46, 1:45, 1:44, 1:44, 1;43, 1:43, 1:42, 
9.5 miles total
PM: 4 miles

S- AM: 5 mile progression: 31:00
PM: 3 miles

S- AM: 16 miles
PM: 5 miles

Total: 84 miles

My next post will be on my goals for Cherry Blossom, which is this coming Sunday, April 12.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Training 3/16-3/22

Good quality running this week for sure.  I got on the track again and it felt good.  I've been working out at the American University Track, which might just be my new favorite track.  My mileage has been a tad less the last few weeks(in the 90s), but one of the things I've worked well on is adapting to higher volume.  So far for the year 2015, the first 3 months I have averaged over 102 miles/week.  So taking it down a notch has felt good, but I was by no means fresh for the Van Metre 5 Miler race on Saturday.

Monday: 4.5 miles + 1600m of 50s @ AU Track; 50m sprint, 50m float, 50m sprint, 50m float etc

Tuesday: AM: 1200m(3:41), 1600m(4:51), 2000m(6:05) w/ 1 lap jog rec @ AU Track, 9.5 miles
PM: 3 miles easy

Wednesday: AM: 10.5 miles
PM: 5.5 miles

Thursday: 8 miles with 3 mile "moderate" tempo in 16:00 @ AU Track
PM: 5 miles

Friday: AM: 4.5 miles
PM: 3.5 miles w/ 4 x 200m strides

Saturday: AM: VAN METRE 5 MILER-This race was unbelievably the most twists and turns I have ever had to deal with.  To my own error, I didn't study the course well.  From the gun I put myself into 1st place, and for most of the race I was asking race officials which direction to turn next.  It was frustrating there wasn't a lead vehicle.  I was also unsure which tangents to run.  There were a few hills, which naturally I felt strong on from all the hill workouts I've done over the winter.  I could feel Greenlaw and Klim not far behind me, and was able to see where they were at each turn.  I eventually gained ground on them, and ran alone the entire race.  The effort felt like a hard tempo, I threw some surges in at the end to finish in 25:27, which seemed a bit slow, but my coach told me to not expect much from this.  However, many have told me that this course is always a tad long for some reason.  Who knows.  The important thing I cared about was that I got the effort in, and the win was nice, as this was my debut in the Saucony singlet.   
PM: 5 miles

Sunday:  20 Miles: I started out moderately on the towpath, coming through the first 10 miles in (67:00) minutes, but I was building my pace and ran quite quickly the 2nd 10 miles(58:00), finishing the total 20 miles in 2:05. The last 5 miles of the run I was running 5:40 pace and I saw Klim at Riley's Lock.  I thought I saw Greenlaw too but he wasn't there according to Jake's blog here:  I was amazed at how effortless this run felt, even after running the race yesterday.  Once I got back to the lock, as if 20 wasn't enough I decided to tag on a grueling 200m steep uphill run up the road that goes towards River Road.  I grinded up the hill, legs aching, and at the next plateau turned around, and finally said "ok, that's enough."  I jogged back down the hill, longing for food and a nap.  90 Miles for the week.

I think I am super fit but it won't really show in racing until the time is right, which hopefully, I'll be able to give something special at Cherry Blossom in 3 weeks.  My coach and I plan to taper down fully for that race, so I should be fresh and ready to go.  I also KNOW the course all too well now.  I have run this race every year since 2010.  I think sub 50:00 is possible this time around, we'll just have to wait and see.  My all time best for the distance is from last year in 50:57, so bettering that performance itself is a tall task.  This is the Trial of Miles, the Miles of Trials.  Your toughest competitor is yourself.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Welcome to the Saucony Hurricanes

I got word in February that I got selected to the 2015 Saucony Hurricane Team.  This is a wonderful new start for me, as I have been in search for a team for the past several months.  The end of last year was a time where I was a little bit in no-man's land.  I wasn't on a team anymore, I had left =PR=, and I was looking at options on what was the next phase.  On a whim I entered the USA Club XC Championships, buying a pair of Saucony Kilkennys in the process, in not very fit condition.  But I felt it was a good idea to get a race in, and actually did more decently than I thought, finishing near the top 1/3 of the race.  But I needed to get to work.

I worked hard over the winter on my endurance, under Roland's guidance.  The training was unlike anything I have been able to do before, and actually came quite naturally to me.  I ran in the snow.  I ran in the single digits temps.  Heck, that's really not that bad if you think of the tough Minnesota runners and what they have to deal with, or Tyler McCandless training in the mountains of Colorado.  It gave me perspective when I thought of those guys training in those conditions.  If this winter was going to be tough, I welcomed it.  One day during the middle of the week, I ventured off onto snowy trails with my yaktrax on.  I ran for 2 hours.  By the time I was done, I collapsed in my car, exhausted.  Running in the snow was a slow pace, but trudging through it works your whole body.  I only ran on the treadmill a few times this winter, only because it was tempo stuff that couldn't be done on a snow covered track.

"Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win."
-sign on Tom Fleming's wall while training for the Boston Marathon

This was pretty much a 2 month training phase, which finished in mid-February.  I'll pick up from my last post:

Week 2/9-2/15: 110 Miles(last week of endurance segment)

M-AM: 5.5 miles with drills/PM: 3.5 miles
T-AM: 9 miles/PM: 7.5 miles
W-AM: 4 x 5:00 fartleks, 9.5 miles/PM: 5 miles
Th-AM: 14.5 miles/PM: 6 miles
F-AM: 8 x 200m strides, 6 miles/PM: 6.5 miles
S- AM: 12 miles progression(total 70 min)/PM: 3.5 miles
S- AM: 21 miles in the snow/PM: Strength Training

After Mid-February, we did a 4-week transitional period consisting of tempos and faster paced running.

Week 2/16-2/22: 105 Miles

M-AM: 5.5 miles with drills/PM: 5 miles
T-AM: 16 miles
W-AM: Hill Repeats(high knees, bounds, sprints), 9.5 miles/PM: 8 miles
Th-AM: 16 miles on snowy trails/PM: 5.5 miles
F-AM: 4 x 200m strides, 7 miles/PM: 4 miles
S-AM; 3 mile tempo: 15:40, 9 miles/PM: 5 miles
S-AM: 10 miles/PM; 4 miles

Week 2/23-3/1: 96 miles

M-AM: Pool Running 45 minutes+ Drills/PM: 5.5 miles
T-AM: 14 miles/PM: 4 miles
W-AM: 10 miles with 5 x mile on road(@5:08, 4:54, 4:58, 4:52, 5:01)/PM: 4 miles
Th-AM: 8 miles/PM: 7 miles
F-AM: 8 miles with 4 x 200m strides/PM: 5 miles
S-AM; 4 mile tempo on road: 20:15, 9 miles/PM: Strength Training
S-AM: 20 miles

Week 3/2-3/8: 102 Miles

M-AM: 5.5 miles with drills/PM: 3.5 miles
T-AM: 5.5 miles/PM: 10.5 milesf
W-AM: Hill Repeats(high knees, bounds, sprints), 11 miles/PM: 5 miles
Th-AM: 19 miles in snow
F-AM: 4 x 200m strides, 7.5 miles/PM: 4.5 miles
S-AM; 3 mile tempo on treadmill @ 12mph w/ 1.5-2.0 incline: 15:00, 7 miles/PM: 5 miles
S-AM: 18 miles @ 6:20 pace(easy)

Week 3/9-3/15: 92 miles 

M-AM: 5.5 miles with drills/PM: 3 miles
T-AM: 10 miles/PM: 4 miles
W-AM: 10.5 miles with 6 x mile on road(@5:01, 4:53, 4:54, 4:49, 4:55, 4:45)/PM: 2 miles
Th-AM: 9 miles on snowy trails/PM: 5.5 miles
F-AM: 4 x 200m strides, 4.5 miles/PM: 3.5 miles
S-AM: 5 mile progression(5:00-5:10 pace)+1.5 mile cool down/PM: 3.5 miles
S-AM: 19 miles/PM: 3.5 miles

This week started the sharpening period, and I am on the track again.  I've been working out at the AU track, which might be my new favorite track.  I am also racing this weekend, at the Van Metre 5 Miler.  It is merely a tune-up for Cherry Blossom, and I will train through this race, so I will race it not completely fresh.  The idea is to run fast and race while tired.  My target will be my Cherry Blossom Race Pace.

Week 3/16-3/22:

M-Track: 1 mile of 50s(50m sprint, 50m float), 5.5 miles
T-AM: Track: 1200m(3:41), 1600m(4:51), 2000m(6:05), w/ 1 lap jog between, 9.5 miles/PM: 3 miles
W-AM: 10.5 miles/PM:

Thursday will be another 3 mile tempo, and then Saturday is the race.  This should simulate the last 5 miles of Cherry Blossom.


4/12: CHERRY BLOSSOM 10 MILER(Goal: SUB-50:00), current PR is 50:57
4/26; PIKES PEEK 10K(Goal: SUB-30:00), current PR is 30:43
5/11: SWARTHMORE TRACK 5,000M(Goal: TBD)

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