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.