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...

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