Monday, February 27, 2006

Tampa Marathon Recap: No PR - but my #6 is in the books

This marathon started out wet, windy and uncertain. The Tampa Bay area received some intense thunderstorms at approximately 5:15 AM on race morning, for which a 6AM start was planned. Fortunately, the heavy rains diminished to a steady, light rain. Race organizers decided to delay the start 1/2 hour - which left thousands of us standing at the start for quite a while. This was going to be a wet one.

The race course was a bit uneventful as all of the planned entertainment was cancelled due to the rain. The course design was OK, I guess. It carried us down Bayshore Drive which had lovely waterfront views. However, we seemed to cover the same roads on the second half as the first. I think I ran 10 out of the last 13 miles on roads that we ran the first 13 miles.

The conditions were drab but manageable. It was totally grey and rainy for almost the entire race. My feet were soaked the whole time. I saw a fellow runner nearly twist his ankle trying to avoid one of the countless giant puddles on the narrow pathways. The only bright side was that the temps were in the 60's and the bay breeze kept us all cool. Definitely beats a heat wave and intense sun.

I ran the perfect race for me through 20 miles, but I knew I was in trouble as I headed into the high teens. I was able to hang on through 23, but that is where the legs really began to slow and burn. It is a humbling and disappointing feeling when your legs have taken you 23 miles strong and they just don't want to go anymore. It was almost comical. I felt good otherwise.

I need to figure out why I didn't hit the wall in my last two marathons. Sure, I was tired and my pace slowed, but I was able to hang on running. Was my training that much better in 2004 and 2005? Maybe.

Although it was a mind wrenching experience, I knew I would finish. I was running for myself and that is all that mattered. On this particular race day, I would take a little extra time the last few miles.

I am not going to make excuses about how I got sick and missed my last long run or how the recent blizzard hampered running opportunities. I trained about as well as I could over the past few months with everything going on in life. It will be a learning opportunity. I know that if I do another marathon, I will need to step up the training, gain some peer support (I did ALL of my training alone) and get some pre-marathon races in.

Training was the key issue, I believe. Looking back, my 18 and 20 training mile runs I did were a bit too fast. Plus, my goal is not just to finish anymore. I believe I need to kick up my peak training mileage to 24-26. All things to think when I go for it again.

All and all, I am proud to have a completed my sixth marathon. Now, I will take a little time to recover and get back into a 20 mile per week regimen. I will also be taking the next several weeks to decide if I will run in the Chicago Marathon in October.

Below is the Tampa Marathon breakdown by the mile:

1 -- 7:39 - 7:39
2 -- 7:42 - 15:21
3 -- 7:46 - 23:07
4 -- 7:43 - 30:51
5 -- 7:37 - 38:28
6 -- 7:47 - 46:15
7 -- 7:32 - 53:47
8 -- 7:52 - 1:01:39 - Even managed to work in a pee break
9 -- 7:20 - 1:08:59
10 -- 7:45 - 1:16:43
11+12 -- 15:37 - 1:32:20
13+14 -- 15:27 - 1:47:47
15 -- 7:56 - 1:55:43
16 --7:52 - 2:03:35
17 -- 7:43 - 2:11:19 - Started to feel some fatigue
18 -- 7:38 - 2:18:57
19 -- 8:16 - 2:27:13 - Seemed like a misplaced mile marker as the next split would confirm
20 -- 7:09 - 2:34:22
21 -- 7:44 - 2:42:06 - Hanging on
22 -- 8:12 - 2:50:18 - Strong head winds kicked in
23 -- 8:27 - 2:58:45 - Still on pace for a PR after 23
24 -- 9:35 - 3:08:19 - Wall - Did some walking to try and recover
25 -- 10:59 - 3:19:18 - Struggled to climb over the wall - Walked even more
26+26.2 -- 12:10 - 3:31:28 - Ran to the finish for the last half mile

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Marathon Weekend is here - It's 'bout time to rock in Tampa

So, after much anticipation, marathon weekend is here.

My experience to date has been that there is always a mysterious feeling the week before the marathon ... "how I am going to do?" "am I ready?" "am I really going to make it for 26.2?" "have I trained enough?" "do I have a prayer to P.R.?"

This year is no different. I just don’t know what to expect of my body. The taper period was a bit unique because I missed the last long 18-miler; however, I did run a solid 20k last week with a strong 7-miler the day before.

This weekend, I will participate in my sixth marathon in six years. I have improved my time with each race that I have run. Here is the list of my prior marathon performances:

May 6, 2001 - Pittsburgh - 4:15:52
May 5, 2002 - Pittsburgh - 3:46:10
May 4, 2003 - Pittsburgh - 3:29:57
March 20, 2004 - Virginia Beach - 3:26:37
January 16, 2005 - Houston - 3:23:55
February 26, 2006 - Tampa - ???

For the 6AM start tomorrow, the weather conditions are expected to be wet. There is a 70% chance of rain and temp’s are expected to be in the mid 60’s.

Overall, there is always a sense of pride that I have while even attempting these races, since it does require a great deal of commitment. This year will be no different.

Regardless of my time, I know I will finish and add another race experience to the book of life. My wife will be there at the finish and I will be on the verge of collapse as we meet. I will finish and we will celebrate. On to Tampa…

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Week 15 - The home stretch into Tampa


All right, so it has been 15 weeks of ups and downs and we're now less than one week away from the big day.

Today is Sunday, February, 19 and I am resting. This week was one of recovery from my cold.

In total, I ran 32.4 miles this week - including a nice 20k race yesterday.

Monday, Feb 13

After a tough weekend of suffering from a terrible cough, cold, fever, flu combination -- and observing a blizzard hit the area, I decided to get into the gym to get back into training. I just wanted to get the heart rate up and feel like I was in some sort of shape. I took a cross-training approach on this day:

Treadmill - 2 miles
Ellipitical trainier - 10 minutes
Bike - 10 minutes
Treadmill - 1 mile

Tue, Feb 14 - 2:48 PM

I got out of the office on Tuesday in the middle of the afternoon on to the snowy roads in Norwalk. I got a decent six-miler in. The route I usually take from work (across the Merritt down to East Rocks) entails some steeper than normal elevation, so it is not uncommon to see the HR higher on these runs. It was a decent recovery run. Best mileage I had in a whole week.

TIME: 45:38 - DIST: 6.0 - PACE: 7:35 - AVG HR: 153

Wed, Feb 15 - 7AM - Not that great of a run

I had planned to go to the High School track to do some speed work. I ran the 1/2 mile to the track only to find it still completely covered with much of the 20" of snow that fell on Sunday. I opted to continue running on County Street into the neighborhoods back there. I didn't feel that great on this run. Still reeling from my cold and I was fatigued. In the end, it was a 4-miler - a slow and shakey one at that. This run hurt my confidence. Why would I struggle on a short run like this? This made me realize I still was not over my cold and I needed to rest.

TIME: 31:08 - DIST: 4.0 - PACE: 7:47 - AVG HR: 151

Thursday, 2/16 - I rested as I was on business travel in Princeton, NJ.

Friday, 2/17 - 6:45 AM

I was determined to get in a good 7-miler to build some confidence. I accomplished this. I ran from home to Grumman up to the Half Mile road area and back. The weather was unseasonably warm - high 40's.

This was the best I had felt in well over a week. I hadn't experienced a running high in several days. Finally, I felt good. This was an excellent training run.

TIME: 53:21 - DIST: 7.05 - PACE: 7:34 - AVG HR: 155


This was my last crack to get in a decent distance before next week's big race. I wanted to exert a medium effort to leave something left. I had planned to run 7:30-7:35 pace for the 20k, which I thought would be a decent push of speed work. (MARATHON PACE TARGET: 7:38)

Southport, CT is moderately hilly. The weather was cold (25 degrees F) and slightly windy. We ran by countless $3M+ homes. I am constantly amazed by the money around here. If you know anything about CT real estate, it's that it is crazy expensive. It's fun to run with a group of racers through rural Connecticut hillsides with mansions placed everywhere. I just kept moving and enjoyed the surroundings.

I ended up running 7:24 pace -- not by design, truthfully. My Polar distance monitor was reporting distances slighly longer than the markers on the course, so it was tough to tell where I was with pace.

All and all, it was a good race for me. I felt decent at the end. It is always intimidating to run a race like that and realize that it is less than half a marathon! BUT... I will be better rested, the course in Fla. will be flat and I will be fully adrenalized. Check the results below...

TIME: 1:31:58 - DIST: 20k / 12.4M - PACE: 7:24


Monday, February 13, 2006

Week 14 - Down, but not out

Dear Running Journal

Unfortunately, week # 14 did not go as planned. I had a successful 20-mile run last Sunday on Feb 5th, which rounded out Week #13. However, as I got into the next week, I hit a couple of obstacles.

First, I rested on Monday. Tuesday, I got out at lunchtime a completed a decent 5-miler.

Wednesday morning, I was up and at 'em to face some very cold weather - around 15 degrees (I think I expected mid-20's!). In hindsight, I underdressed for the 6-miler that I completed. At the end, I was very cold. Something didn't feel right. I was shivering.

That afternoon, it was clear that I was coming down with a serious cold. I left work early to try to get home and rest. Not sure if it was simply from underdressing, but that's my suspiscion.

For Thursday, I decided I needed to rest further. I was congested, tired and achey for the entire day. I definitely had a cold and a mild fever. My throat was killing me and I was miserable. Plus, work has been intense this week as we prepare for our annual Strategic Plan.

Friday, I worked from home most of the day. Thinking one day of rest would be enough, I decided to try to get back out on the road for at least a 5-miler in the mid-afternoon. I realized after two miles that it was too early. My breathing was awful. I kept spitting out mucus every 15 seconds. I came in after three miles.

Saturday, I still needed rest and recovey. Plus, I was scheduled for a 20k race on Sunday, on top of which I had planned to run another 5. This was going to be my last long run -- exactly two weeks before the marathon.

Well, I was still sick... AND, everyone knows what happened on the East coast on Sat night/Sun morning. We received 20" of the white stuff. The race was cancelled. I didn't leave the house for 48 hours.

SO, FOR THE WEEK... I had three measley runs totaling 14 miles and I missed a long race/run. Not how I had hoped.

Today is Monday, Feb 13th at 9:23 PM ET. I am feeling slightly better but not completely recovered. With the main roads still entrenched by snow banks -- and the subdivisions still not plowed, running outside was not an option today.

So, I headed into the gym today to try to get back on to my feet. I did a cross-training routine: 3 miles on the tread / 10 minutes on the ellipitical / 10 minutes on the bike.

I do not think I will make up the 18-miler now. I am supposed to taper now. Should I try for maybe a 12-14 miler mid week? The roads will be a mess until it warms up on Thurs-Friday. I think I will run some steady 7-8 milers and get plenty of rest. The 20k that was cancelled on Sunday is supposed to be made up this weekend. Not sure if I should do it or not.

I'm at a crossroads. It's gut check time with race 12 days from tomorrow morning.

Monday, February 06, 2006

13 weeks down - 3 to go 'til Tampa

Week 13 OF 16 RECAP

Entered 0n Monday, February 6, 2006

Again, I struggled to make entries all week. All of my blog readers have abandoned me as I have been deliquent and updating and commenting on others. I will try to make an effort to get back into the game this week. Here is a look back at Week 13...

Mon 1/30/06

7AM - Monday morning was a rough run. Only 3 miles – but I was sore and tired. Jen’s parents must have worn me out when they visited over the weekend. The 13 miler at 7:24 per mile on Sunday was a push.

3 miles – 23:21 – 7:46/mile – No HRM

Tue 1/31/06 - Much needed day of rest. I was scheduled to run but I needed a break. Legs needed to recover.

Wed 2/1/06 – 7:07 AM – Got back onto my feet with a good morning run.

5 miles – 37:18 – 7:27/mile – Avg HR: 158

Thu 2/2/06 – 6:36 AM – Up and at ‘em for a strong 7-miler in the morning. Nothing unusual about this run.

7 miles – 52:52 – 7:33/mile – Avg HR: 156

Fri 2/3/06 – 4:19 PM – 4-miler from work in the late afternoon sun

4 miles – 29:46 – 7:26/mile – Avg HR: 150

Sat 2/4/06 - Day of rest

Sun 2/5/06 - Super Bowl Sunday - Nothing like a 20-mile run to prep for a Super Bowl viewing

I decided to take some advice from my co-worker, Phil, on how to run this week's long mileage. Phil is in his late 40's and is a borderline elite runner. He is trying to run a 2:40 marathon at age 50 next year.

I probably have been running too fast for my long runs. Most of my training runs seem to have been around the 7:38-7:47 pace. Phil counseled me to try to run a lot slower for the first 15 miles of my 20-miler and then truly crank out my last 5 at 5k pace (or close).

I target 8:15 per mile for the first 15 miles – and then tried for 7:10 for the last 5 miles. My 5k pace is usually around 6:40, but I wasn’t able to hold that kind of pace.

It was difficult but I pulled it off. Psychologically, it was really hard for me to run the 8:15. I felt like I became tired more quickly because I was holding back. The last 5 were tough but I was able to push through at the accelerated pace.

Most notably, the average HR was way, way down to 144. This was exceptionally lower than past runs.

20 miles – 2:39:24 – 7:58/mile – Avg HR: 144

Last 5 were completed in approx 35:55 or 7:11 per mile

SUMMARY FOR WEEK: Total of 39 miles