Wednesday, February 21, 2018

53 days until Boston!

Realized today I haven't updated this here blog in awhile. So, quick update / recap of the past 6 months.

During week 13 of training for Richmond in early October, I felt a discomfort in my upper left leg following a track workout. It got worse. Then got worser. Saw an orthopedist on Halloween, who confirmed I had a minor stress fracture. Treatment: no running for the rest of the year. That sucked.

Didn't do much next 8 weeks except drink beer and eat a lot of pie. Gained 15 pounds.

I felt good enough to start running a few days earlier than planned, just before New Year's. I'll show the doctor! Wife wasn't happy.

Have been running consistently for 7 weeks now. Almost all easy miles. Up to 43 miles on 5 runs a week, long run up to 17. Long run progress was 8 > 10 > 13 > 14 > 16 > 17. Might have been a bit too aggressive, as a runner's knee / IT band issue in the right leg has crept up. Taking a needed cut-back week now, hopefully will help things.

It better - less than 8 weeks to go until Boston!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Richmond Marathon Training Log: Week 1

Weekly Summary
Monday, Jul 10, 2017 thru Sunday, Jul 16, 2017

Day Miles Pace Description Link
Mon 5.8 8:27 Richmond cycle day 1 strava
Tue 9.0 7:20 9 w/ 4 tempo strava
Wed 12.1 7:51 12 MLR strava
Thu 5.8 8:31 Recovery slog strava
Fri 10.0 7:45 GA 10 with a 🐝 sting. Under the eye. TWICE strava
Sat 6.1 9:50 Recovery miles w/ C strava
Sun 17.0 7:47 SLR w 3 @ MP strava

65.8 8:03

Mon July 10th
Workout: Recovery miles
Notes: Day 1! 5.8 recovery. Really easy. Went 15 day before for first time since Eugene.

Tue July 11th
Workout: 9 with 4 tempo
Notes: 4 tempo miles @ 6:30, 6:25, 6:25, 6:25. 75temp, 67 DP. Felt sluggish out there. Thought that 6:25 would be a good pace given the summery conditions. Looked back at this workout from last cycle and I did the 4 tempo in the 6:40s so that has to be encouraging. I'd love to go sub 1:23 at the Detroit half in October. Ways to go!

Wed July 12th
Workout: 12 MLR
Notes: 80 temp, 70 DP. Really muggy out there. Took it extra easy first few miles because of the tempo workout yesterday. Gradually warmed up and had a good amount of miles (7) in the 7:27 - 7:40 range. Hydration levels pretty good. Lost 7 lbs water weight out there though. This summer's going to be fun.

Thurs July 13th
Workout: Recovery miles
Notes: Whew. Doozy out there. 80+ temp with 72 DP. Very easy recovery miles.

Fri July 14th
Workout: GA 10
Notes: Downright miserable outside. 81 temp, 75 DP. Got in about 6 miles at aerobic effort. Got stung by a bee. Under my left eye. Twice. That was pleasant.

Sat July 15th
Workout: Recovery miles
Notes: Easy 6 recovery miles with Christine.

Sun July 16th
Workout: 17 SLR
Notes: 17 SLR w/ 3 @ MP - may be the most pleasant day for awhile. 75 temp, 62 DP. 7 easy, 3 aerobic, 3 MP (6:48), 4 easy. Wanted to get another mile of MP, but IT band was giving me a bit of discomfort. Solid opening long run to wrap up week 1. New MP will be between 6:45 - 6:50 for now.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Richmond Marathon 2017

Qualifying for Boston at the Eugene marathon last May was a huge accomplishment... but the chase doesn't end there.

Next up, the 40th running of the Richmond marathon on November 11th. I'm looking to go sub3 and Christine is going for her BQ. I'm excited to see what we can do with another intense 18 week training cycle. I'll be following the Pfitz 18/85 training plan and Hammer the 18/55.

Planning to post weekly updates again, which should be interesting to compare against last cycle. Hope you follow along the journey!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

2017 Eugene Marathon Race Recap

Sunday May 7th, 2017 was a dream day. Everything fell into place. As I crossed the finish line just over 3 hours after the start, I was overcome with raw emotion. I earned my place at the starting line in Hopkinton next April. I nabbed that elusive Unicorn. I had qualified for the Boston Marathon! I couldn't wait to find Christine and share the moment.

Eugene was the most physically demanding race of my life. It's not close. The hurt I felt during those last few miles made it seem like an eternity to reach Hayward Field. But once I entered that stadium, it all washed away. Running in the footsteps of legends was an experience I will never forget.

That magical day began with a 4 a.m. alarm. True to forecasts, the weather looked perfect; temperatures in the 40s climbing to the low 50s, no humidity, and light winds. Couldn't ask for better conditions.

My focus the past 6 months was to right all the wrongs I experienced leading up to and during my first marathon last September. I crashed and burned by mile 20. To make sure this wouldn't happen again, I extended my training plan from 14 to 18 weeks. I added a two month base build up. I increased my average weekly mileage by 30 miles. Dropped 10 pounds. Carb loaded the final week like there was no tomorrow. Steered clear of beer those last few weeks. Only water. All of the water. I felt bloated. But I felt great.

Christine and I woke up, had our coffee and pre-race nutrition. The start was set for 7am. Christine was running the half which started the same time as the full. We drove over to the start from our airbnb and had plenty of time to drop off our bags, warm up, and get to the start, which was a few blocks from Hayward.

For this marathon I decided to start with a water bottle (~10 oz) and flip belt that held my clif shot bloks. The plan was to take nutrition at miles 4,8,12,16, & 20. I hoped using the water bottle to hydrate immediately would help make sure I got in enough liquid during the early part of the race. Something I clearly failed at last time.

My plan was to go out conservatively, somewhere around 21:00 for the first 3 miles, then gradually get to a pace of 6:50 - 6:55. The goal was to negative split, coming through the first half anywhere from 1:31 to 1:32.

I wished good luck to Christine and made my way towards the first corral. I positioned myself in front of the 3:05 pacer, wanting to avoid the masses that would go along. After the national anthem, Eugene's own Alexi Pappas gave the commands and the field was off. Almost immediately I got caught behind the 3:05 pacer and a herd of about 50 taking up the entire stretch of road. Arghhhh.

But in retrospect I think this was a blessing. They forced me to stick to my strategy for the first few miles as it was nearly impossible to get through them. So I relaxed and kept it comfortable.

Mile 1: 7:04
Mile 2: 6:56
Mile 3: 7:00
5K split: 21:49

During mile 4, the 3:05 pace group started to settle to their goal pace, and I used a water stop to surge through and get clear air.  Two minor hills on the course occurred on the front half, the first of which was a gentle one in mile 5. Nothing too dramatic. This past training cycle I actually did not do any hill repeats because of the flat profile of this course. Although I incorporated hills on most of my daily runs, I think it was a mistake to not do repeats at least sporadically to strengthen the quads. Anyway, I took my first clif shot blok here and naturally dropped the first one on the ground. I found myself responding better to the caffeine free bloks this time around, so I ditched the black cherry in favor of salted watermelon. Yep, salted watermelon. Wish that was a sour patch kid flavor.

Mile 4: 7:03
Mile 5: 6:55
Mile 6:  6:53
10K split: 43:18 (21:29)

After the 10K split, I found myself running next to a guy from Chicago aiming for a 3:02 as well. We chatted a bit over the next few miles. Always good to find someone out there to work with. The last hill of any significance was short but moderately steep just after the 8 mile marker. I was still feeling pretty comfortable and exerting a low level of effort. I took my second shot blok and continued to take either water or gatorade at each hydration station.

Mile 7: 6:55
Mile 8: 6:54
Mile 9: 6:56
15K split: 1:04:47 (21:29)

The course splits the half and full during mile 10 and this was when I increased the effort just a little to try and get closer to 6:50 pace. I started feeling like I was working a little bit here, which was moderately alarming since I didn't expect this effort until the mid-to-high teens. But I didn't panic, and just remained focused. I knew I was where I wanted to be, and nothing was telling me to back off the pace. I took my third shot block just before 20K.

Mile 10: 6:48
Mile 11: 6:50
Mile 12: 6:53
20K split: 1:26:00 (21:13)

Just after mile 13, there were a group of four of us bunched together. One of the guys looks over to us, panicked, and asked "this isn't the full is it?" Someone answered, he shouted, then stopped, realizing he missed the half/full split. Ouch. Only takes once to learn that lesson.

I came through the half right on target, 1:31:29. Hydration and nutrition levels were good. Was still relatively comfortable. Mentally, I was trying to get to mile 20 in as good a shape as possible. Really just kinda zoned out for the next four or five miles miles. I do remember beginning to pass people after 15 which allowed me to move my focus from one person to the next. Actually, from here through the end of the race, not one person passed me. Pfitz plans ftw!

Mile 13: 6:51
Half marathon split: 1:31:29
Mile 14: 6:50
Mile 15: 6:53
25K split: 1:47:22 (21:22)
Mile 16: 6:49
Mile 17: 6:45
Mile 18: 6:52
30K split: 2:08:32 (21:10)

We started making our way north on a bike path along the Williamette river. Nice change of scenery from the previous miles along the highway. We passed mile 20, and I was still feeling somewhat comfortable. I recall thinking if I felt this strong at 22, I would pick it up. Those thoughts didn't last long though. I took my last shot bloks, feeling confident that I had all the nutrition I needed to get to the finish.

Mile 19: 6:52
Mile 20: 6:56
Mile 21: 6:53
35K split: 2:29:56 (21:24)

Thoughts of going for sub 3 ended pretty quickly during mile 22. My effort level was increasing dramatically and any remaining comfort was gone. My quads and hamstrings started hurting and the miles seemed to slow to a crawl. At this point, I just told myself to hang-on and try to cruise as efficiently as possible, trying not to cramp up along the way.

Mile 22: 6:53
Mile 23: 6:55
Mile 24: 6:58
40K split: 2:51:33 (21:37)

With two miles to go, I was battling mentally. Physically, things were hurting, but I was ok. I kept doing physical checks - left quad, right quad, left ham, right ham, left calf, right calf. This seemed to help, but man these last miles were the longest of my life. I kept counting down, just 15 minutes to go and I'll get my BQ, 10 minutes to go and I can run/hop straight to the beer garden. I was still passing runners which helped a lot. As the course got closer to Hayward, the crowd support began carrying me and I really dug down on the straightaway leading onto the track (see awesome pic).

Mile 25: 6:59
Mile 26: 7:00

Running the last 200 on the hallowed grounds of Hayward Field was almost an indescribable feeling. Back in high school, Pre was a god. I remember having psych parties to watch Without Limits. We learned about Bill Bowerman and the storied history of the Oregon program. To be able to finish on that track was an honor.

As I rounded the last turn heading for the finish, it finally hit me; I was about to qualify for Boston. I flashed back to all the hard work the past year, and especially the last six months. I realized how lucky I was. A lot can go wrong out there. Any number of factors can quickly derail ones race and months of preparation. You can put in all the hard work and give yourself the best possible chance to succeed, but at the end of the day a lot of things are out of your control. I was also thankful that I was about to qualify on only my second attempt. Many have tried a lot longer. I thought ahead to the goals that I could start to tackle now that I got the BQ monkey off my back. I thought of family and friends, and most of all my race-cation partner-in-crime and amazing wife, Christine. I heard a dog bark from the distance and knew Poe was cheering me on from afar.

I raised my arms as I crossed the finish line. 3:02:06. An eight minute BQ and one minute negative split. Boston, here I come!

0.3: 6:32 pace
Last half marathon split: 1:30:38
Finish: 3:02:06

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 Eugene Marathon - Goals

Feels like it was just yesterday I was thinking about goals for my first marathon. In other ways though, it definitely feels like a long time ago.

As far as marathon training goes, I feel a lot more seasoned since Marquette last September. I've churned out over 1,000 miles the past 15 weeks, have had several great races this cycle, and am in arguably the best shape of my life. As a result, I'm in a position to set pretty ambitious goals for next Sunday. The Eugene course is flat and fast. The weather is always a wild card, but this won't be a Boston 2017 (the Pacific Northwest is known for their cool mornings with low humidity during Spring).

That said, I must remind myself that the only reason I began this marathon journey 11 months ago was to be able to run Boston with Christine. While I have found myself knocking on the door fitness-wise of being able to go sub 3-hours next week, I need to relax and remember my motivation: running down Boylston street with family, friends, and a lot of strangers cheering us on. If I forget this, and instead go after an arbitrary time-goal, the risk of blowing up is real. This won't be my last marathon. I have big goals in the coming months and years. But for now, it's just making it to Hopkinton.

For the 2017 Boston marathon held a few weeks ago, the time cut-off was 2:09, meaning you had to be 2 minutes and 9 seconds faster than your age/gender qualifying time to earn a slot. My qualifying time remains a 3:10:00 this year, but to practically guarantee a spot, I am aiming for under 3:05:00. That's the C goal. I won't be satisfied leaving Eugene without a BQ minus 5 minutes.

I plan to go out conservatively and aim for a negative split. The pace band I will be carrying is for 3:02:00, or a 6:56 pace over the 26.2. That's the B goal. This has me reaching 10 miles in 70:11 and the half in 1:31:48. Realistically, anything between 1:31 and 1:32 is a split I would be happy with. From there, it's trying to keep a good rhythm and pace and stay as comfortable as possible until mile 20. Most experienced marathoners will tell you the true halfway mark of the marathon is at mile 20. Running a strong 1:30 on the back half will get me to 3:02.

My result of 1:03:22 for the 10 mile at Cherry Blossom earlier this month equates to anywhere from a 2:57 - 2:59 marathon, depending on the calculator given my average weekly mileage the past 4 months. If I feel really strong come miles 18 - 20, have hydration and nutrition in check, and absolutely no signs of wear and tear, then here is where I may pick up the pace and try to close in on a sub 3. That's the A goal. To achieve this though, everything, and I do mean everything, would have to be perfect. All the intangibles: temperature, humidity, and even cloud cover.

With a little rest after Eugene, I really feel like I can get to the next level and go sub 2:50 this Fall. But reaching for that A goal now, that's not what will define success. Boston. Only qualifying for Boston will.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Marathon Training Log: Week 15

Week 15: 80.8 miles
Cumulative for cycle:  1,035.2 (69 mpw avg; 73.6 mpw avg last 9 weeks)

Weekly Summary
Monday, Apr 10, 2017 thru Sunday, Apr 16, 2017

Day Miles Pace Description Link
Mon 6.0 8:37 AM recovery miles strava
Mon 4.0 8:36 PM recovery miles strava
Tue 8.0 7:52 Lincoln loop steady strava
Wed 3.8 7:58 Warm up to EPP strava
Wed 4.8 6:27 5 x 1200 (4:25 avg) w 400 jog strava
Wed 4.4 8:33 Cool down EPP to home strava
Thu 15.1 7:29 MLR strava
Fri 8.6 7:57 Michigan miles - easy 8 + strides strava
Sat 6.1 8:17 Easy miles strava
Sun 20.0 7:49 SLR FF - taper time!! strava

80.8 7:53

Mon 4/10/17
Workout: AM: 6 recovery miles PM: 4 recovery miles
Notes: morning weigh-in: 171.0 / AM easy recovery miles. Very slow. Legs were fatigued, but not sore.  PM: more easy recovery miles.

Tue 4/11/17
Workout: 8 miles aerobic
Notes: warm. Not humid. Took 3 miles or so to get the legs going - settled in 7:30 - 7:45 for last 5 miles. Big intervals tomorrow.

Wed 4/12/17
Workout: 5 x 1200 @5k w 400 jog; 13 miles total
Notes: warm. Some humidity. Warm up to east potomac park. Didn't feel like doing these intervals on the track, so EPP it was. Goal was to hit 4:25 which is around 5:52 pace. The plan actually called for 6 1200s, but seeing that I only managed 5000 meters of work last week, I didn't think it would be smart to jump up to 7200. Splits: 4:22, 4:26, 4:24, 4:27, 4:24. All jogs were between 2:05 and 2:12. This was tough. Probably one of the toughest intervals I've done since college.

Thu 4/13/17
Workout: 15 mile medium long run
Notes: cool. No humidity. Perfect morning. 15 mile medium long run. Legs felt pretty good after yesterday's interval session. Got going pretty quickly. 3 warmup then 7:52, 7:38, 7:35, 7:17, 7:12, 7:04, 6:46, 7:09, 7:06, 7:00, 7:21, 7:31. Tried to keep it a controlled effort, but after the 6:46 mile, I slowed things down some. Was super thirsty towards the end, but not too tired. Legs still feel good. Couple recovery days ahead then last 20 miler on Sunday. 24 days!

Fri 4/14/17
Workout: 8 miles + 8 strides
Notes: Drove up to Michigan last night for easter weekend. Got in really late. Legs don't do so well sitting in the car for long periods anymore. Legs felt decent for the run, but tried to keep it easy. Strong headwind on the back half wasn't fun. Strides felt pretty good.

Sat 4/15/17
Workout: 6 easy
Notes: Warm. Humid. Easy miles.

Sun 4/16/17
Workout: 20 mile long run; 5th of 5 20+ milers this cycle
Notes: Warm. Moderate humidity. Legs felt good going into today, but took awhile to feel comfortable out there. Few large puddles and mud slowed things down a bit. This paved trail also always seems to beat up my legs even though it's nothing challenging. Pace was a slow progression. Splits (8:54, 8:28, 8:41, 8:21, 8:13, 8:10, 8:10, 7:57, 7:54, 7:44, 7:41, 7:44, 7:36, 7:34, 7:42, 7:28, 7:00, 6:48, 6:46, 7:36). Chose to take the tail wind out and a strong 20 mph head wind back. Now it's taper time!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

2017 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler - Race Recap

Net time: 1:03:22
Overall place: 269 
Division place: 36

M1: 6:35.4
M2: 6:22.0
M3: 6:21.3
M4: 6:12.5
M5: 6:11.9
M6: 6:11.8
M7: 6:11.0
M8: 6:14.5
M9: 6:17:4
M10: 6:19.6
0.08: 0.24.3 (4:57 pace)

This year was the first time Christine and I have had the opportunity to race Cherry Blossom. I've heard great things about the race and looked forward to it since we were accepted via the lottery. Cherry Blossom would be the 4th of 5 races during this marathon training cycle, and the 2nd 10 miler this year. Training had been going well, and coming off a promising race at the NYC Half combined with a flat course, I knew this race provided the opportunity to post a fast time.

The day prior to the race, I had the opportunity to meet Bill Rodgers, one of my idols, during packet pickup at the National Building Museum. Bill won Boston and New York FOUR TIMES. An incredibly accomplished distance runner, he was really down to earth and easy to talk to. We talked about the Eugene marathon, where he earned his 1976 Olympic berth and how he and a group of elite runners came to transform Boston into the prestigious race it is today. Really cool experience.

On race day morning, the alarm went off at 4:45am to allow enough time to down and digest my usual pre-race nutrition: cup of coffee, twelve ounces of water, and a kind bar. Christine and I decided to do our warm-up by jogging from home to the start line, just a little under 3 miles. We had plenty of time to to do bag check, one last restroom break, then plyometrics and stretching/strides before the 7:30am start.

I had a yellow bib for the first corral, and settled in near the front with a little more than 5 minutes until the start. Coming off a strong finish at the NYC Half two weeks before, my goal was to break 64, or 6:24 per mile. As has been the case during races this cycle, my plan was to start conservatively and negative split the back half.

The gun went off and about 2,500 runners started their trek around the tidal basin. Cherry Blossom is a pretty large race, with some 15,000 entrants. The start is divided into several corrals to ensure minimal crowding around the early bottlenecks. Having done a number of large races in the past few years, I welcomed these starts as they promoted discipline at the outset by forcing a controlled pace the first half mile. I came through the first mile in 6:35 as the course wound towards memorial bridge, and was exactly where I wanted to be.

Knowing that 64 was my goal, I had planned to settle in at 6:20 pace after the first mile or so, and if I was feeling really good would pick it up in the last 2 - 3 miles. According to plan, miles 2 and 3 went off at 6:22 and 6:21 as the course hit the turnaround at the Kennedy Center and made its way towards East Potomac Park, a place I have grown familiar with over the past year.

At the beginning of mile 4, I was feeling very comfortable and increased the pace slightly faster than originally planned. I didn't want to get too close to my lactate threshold, but I went with it. Miles 4, 5, 6 came at 6:13, 6:12, 6:12.

All my tempo runs to date haven't actually been much faster than 6:25/6:30 pace. My ability to get down to and sustain sub 6:15 miles is a testament to the mileage I've been putting in. If there's one piece of advice I could offer any distance runner in a similar position it's this: THE most important variable to your training is the mileage you put in. Nothing else. Build your mileage intelligently. Ensure you are not over-training. Listen to your body. Rinse, repeat. The benefits from intervals, tempos, and marathon pace runs are a product of your weekly mileage.

Coming up on mile 7, I passed a fellow Maryland XC/Track alum, Becky, who was cruising herself, and offered a word or two of encouragement. She would eventually finish sub 64, posting another impressive result after her huge half marathon PB a few weeks ago. Around this point, my effort level was increasing as I tried to maintain that sub 6:15 pace. I tried to take advantage of the tailwind we had on the west side of East Potomac Park before meeting the headwind just before mile 8. Miles 7 and 8 came at 6:11 and 6:15.

During mile 9, although I was getting fatigued and had my effort level increasing, my pace remained pretty steady. As the race continued on the east side of potomac park, I passed a number of runners. One in particular had me do a double-take. A woman in her late fifties with a flawless stride left me in awe. I had no idea until the finish that it was Joan Benoit Samuelson, a true legend.

Mile 9 came at 6:17. Shortly after, I heard the Falls Road cheering squad and another Maryland XC/Track alum Ryan shouting words of encouragement. I dug down into the stiff headwind and tried to find that gear that propelled me to a 5:55 closing mile at the NYC Half. Unfortunately, it wasn't there this time. Nonetheless I continued towards the finish line, charging up the last hill and hitting the tape in 63:22. Good for a 3+ minute PB and a load of confidence heading into the last 6 weeks before Eugene. According to plan, I negative split doing 32/31. Really is the most efficient way to race.

Christine had a great race herself coming in under 90 minutes in spite of a mid race porta-potty break. Due to a nagging injury, Christine has decided to run the half instead of the full marathon at Eugene and focus on a fall marathon as her next BQ attempt. I'm looking forward to training with her this Summer!