Sunday, March 25, 2007

Shamrock Shuffle Report - I love P.R.'s!

Today's Shamrock Shuffle was another great race for me. For the second consecutive week, I managed to surprise myself. Maybe it's a clue that I need to stop underestimating my ability.

I was fortunate enough to have an "A" corrall assignment as a result of my marathon time last year. Lining up at the front of a 30,000 field was quite an awesome experience. I felt professional.

If you check out yesterday's post, you'll see that I set a goal of a P.R. of 32:25. Had I not run the half so well last week, I wouldn't have dreamed of setting it. Even McMillan's chart said I was in position for 33:02.

I blasted out of the gate with the top runners and quickly realized I was nearly in over my head. I tried to calm myself and get a rhythm. Truthfully, my legs felt a little soft in the first mile. I was really concerned that I wouldn't be able to hold the sub-7 pace I knew I wanted to hold.

At Mile 2, I grabbed a gatorade and pushed ahead. I sighed in relief when I saw 16:30 on my watch, because then I knew I was about half way done. I hit the 5k mark at 20:01 and laughed to myself when I thought about last year I how I wasn't sure I would ever get a sub-20 5k. I just nearly did it in an 8k race.

For the last 1.5 miles, I really couldn't tell how fast I was running. The heat was getting to me and I wasn't sure if I had the endurance to come anywhere close to my first three miles. Like I’ve heard many times before, racing HURTS.

When I rounded the turn and hit mile four with a 6:29 split, I knew I could P.R. I buckled down and braced for some pain. The hill on the final 0.5 really got me panting something fierce.

When I made the final turn to see the finish in the distance, I knew I had a P.R., but, wait, could I actually break 32:00?

The answer was YES!

I am not afraid to admit that the 5k and 8k races seem to take more out of me than the double-digit milers. Maybe it's my imagination, but these 3 and 5 mile races are sprints that rip me up. I needed a nap this afternoon.

I celebrated with a free beer and then lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.
Now, I am getting ready for bed so I can get my long run in this week. Nothing like getting up at 5:00 AM for an 18-miler.

Race stats:

Placed 283rd overall out of 23,685 (top 1.1%)
Placed 49th out of 2,318 in M30-34 group (top 2.1%)
Placed 261st out of 11,007 men overall (top 2.3%)

GOAL FOR 3/26 WEEK: 45 (incl. a 17-18 miler and a 20 miler)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gearing up for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Recap of week to date

Mon - Rest
Tue - 8 miles - 7:53 avg pace
Wed - 10 miles - 8:04 avg pace
Thu - Rest
Fri - 8 miles - 7:50 avg pace
Sat - 3.2 miles recovery - 8:40 avg pace

I'm getting ready for tomorrow's Chicago Shamrock Shuffle.

Aggressive Strech Goal Plan for Shamrock Shuffle 8k - by the mile

Mile 1 - 6:39
Mile 2- 6:34 - 13:13
Mile 3 - 6:30 - 19:43
Mile 4 - 6:29 - 26:12
Final 0.97 - 6:13 - 32:25

GOAL RACE TIME: 32:25 (1 sec faster than my 8k PR - May 2006)

This is a stretch goal, but I figure, hey, what the hell, let's see what I can do tomorrow. I'm going to rip through the miles as best I can.

I had to alter the Boston training schedule quite a bit with races on consecutive Sundays. I'm excited for tomorrow's race, but not so excited to try to squeeze in 17 miles on Monday morning before work. I have to get this longer run in since I've had not had one this week.

I fly to London again for a conference on Monday night, and will have very little time for running during the week. Plan is to get 17 miles early Monday AM, then get to work by 9:30 AM.

I hope to squeeze in a total of 8 miles from Tuesday to Friday. I'm staying Friday night in London, just to check out the city, since I never really have. Fly back to Chicago on Sat AM.

Then, on Sunday April 1st, I will do my final 20 miler before Boston. I will head up to the hills of the Aboretum on my own, since the CARA group runs on Saturday. I'll get it done. Boston, here I come!!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

March Madness Half Marathon Report

One of my many favorite things about running is when you have one of those days when you surprise yourself – in a good way, of course. I had one of those days today.

Today, I ran the March Madness Half Marathon in Cary, IL. I came into today’s race with a touch of curious excitement about what kind of race I could run. I honestly did not know.

The winter had been marred with a stretch of injuries to both IT bands, coupled with a lot of brutally cold, windy weather, which required a lot of heavy clothing.

Running friends had warned me that Cary is quite the hilly course. “You won’t run what you ran at C.D.C,” admonished one experienced friend. He was referring to the Chicago Distance Classic, where I set my PR of 1:30:24 last August.

I officially set goal time of 1:34:59, which is exactly the 7:14 pace that I ran for an entire marathon last fall. It seemed like a realistic stretch goal, given the hills I expected and my comparative level of training to last fall’s Chicago run. I had done no speed work while working through injuries, weekly mileage has been lower, and I hadn’t raced since a disappointing showing at the Las Vegas Half Marathon in December.

Conditions were ideal, simply stated. No wind. A crisp 36 degrees at start with a beaming sun overhead.

These guys weren’t kidding. There were some tough hills, but I surprisingly was enjoying them, taking them on like they were my friends. I was up and down through the rolling hillsides, and I kept my heart rate in reasonable check.

I truly got a boost at around mile 8. I don’t know what it was, but I really felt good… like I could be running 7’s or better for the rest of the way.

The last 5 miles had a few monster halls, and I attacked them with a vengeance. The Morton Aboretum has been a great training ground, I thought. Once I hit 10 miles, I knew I could hold for a sub 1:34, way better than I thought. Then I knocked out a couple of sub-7’s on 12 and 13 and realized I could actually get sub-1:33.

I sprinted the last 0.1 to a 1:32:39 on my watch; a 1:32:50 on the gun clock. Like I said, in running, some days you can really surprise yourself. Today was one of those days.

7:23 – 47:11 at the half (6.55)
1:32:39 – 7:04 per mile

Estimated negative split of 1:43

The McMillan predictor chart says I have the potential to run a 33:02 at next week’s Shamrock Shuffle. I think I’ll set the bar at 32:59.

He also advises that I can run a 3:15:24 in Boston. I’m not worried about trying for this kind of time. I don’t have as many long runs in. Plus, my IT band was really acting up towards the end of last week’s twenty miler. I’ll be fine lining up with the 3:25 group in Boston and enjoying the fanfare of all the crazies, while I celebrate all 26.2 glorious miles.

Recap of the week

Mon – Rest
Tue – 7.5 mi
Wed – 5.25 mi
Thu – Rest
Fri – 8.25 mi
Sat – 3.5 mi easy
Sun – 13.1 race (7:04 avg pace) + 2.4 recovery in afternoon = 15.5 mi total

Total for week: 40 miles even

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Celebrating a half century with Universal Sole

I hauled out to Lincoln Park today at the crack of dawn for a wonderully organized 20-mile Boston bound run sponsored by Universal Sole. I must say these guys did a great job today.

· First, the weather was awesome. Running along the lakefront path in the stunning picturesque city of Chicago was a treat.
· Second, the technical shirts are really sweet. (yes, sweet technical shirts - no cheap tee's here)
· Third, they had the "right" amount of aid stations with plenty of water, gatorade and gels.
· Fourth, I got a free stretch by a certified (and young, attractive female) PT after, which my IT bands needed (with the wife onlooking carefully).
· Fifth, free vitamin water and Chili after.
· Sixth, this wasn't even a RACE -- It was just a trainng run; and they still pulled out all the stops.
· Seventh, it was only $20!!!!

I am an official fan of this running store, even if it is 40 miles from my house. Only confusion for me was I thought I read about free Goose Island beer afterward, but I am guessing I was dreaming. I'll let it slide. Everything was great.

I knocked out the 20 without much issue, except I did feel the right IT band flare up for the last 3-4 miles. I am sore right now. Of course, said cutie PT urged me to visit her clinic for a free injury screening. See splits (short breaks not timed).

With that little event, I hit the half century. Yup, 50 for the week. Ready to rest and then race the next two weeks.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Come enter the "running miles for beers" contest

Did I ever tell you that I love beer? Do a lot of runners truly love beer? Of course, moderation and good judgment are essential for the runner who loves beer. I am guessing that I put back more beers than the average BQ'er this past fall (ok, not before long runs!). I try to be sensible and balanced, but allow me to indulge into a funny thought I had for a minute...

Let's suppose someone created a constest in which the participants would have to drink a 12 oz beer for every mile he/she ran in a given 7-day period. The rules are:

1. You have to run the same amount of miles as beers you drink in a week - there are no points for running more miles than beers or vice versa.
2. You can put in your miles and beers at any time you want - so long as it falls within the 7-day period.

The winner is the runner who will have completed the most beer-miles.

I am thinking I could run 30 miles and drink 30 beers in a week -- and go to work every day. I'm not endorsing this idea, or supposing that it is a good, healthy thing to do, I am just saying that's what I think I could do if someone put me to the test. And, if I had the week off from work, I bet I could do 40 miles and 40 beers in a week. All right , that may be a bit excessive, but it was kind of funny that I thought of it. (Note: Don't over-drink and run, it's not healthy.)

I altered my schedule this week and today is a rest day. Go figure, that it is the most amazingly beautiful day we've had in months. It's 60 here today with sun -- FINALLY. I ran 5 straight days Mon thru Fri and am at 30 miles WTD.

We will spring ahead tonight one hour. I will be running the Universal Sole Boston 20-miler tomorrow in Lincoln Park at 8 AM, which will feel like 7 AM (free beer after, yeah!). With time needed to eat, stretch, commute to the city and park, I need to get up at 6 AM, which will feel like 5 AM, of course.

After tomorrow's run, I will have completed 50 miles for the week - my most since last October. Given my hectic travel schedule the weeks of 3/26 and 4/2, I am pretty certain this will be my peak week before Boston. I have races the next two weeks and more 20-miler before April 16th. See my upcoming race schedule.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Still on track - 41 days to Boston

One of my dream goals is on its way to becoming reality. I am laboring through training, which is not nearly as intense as it was for the Chicago marathon. I’ve had some run-in with IT band syndrome and have dealt with some horrendous Chicago weather. Nonetheless, I will be running the Boston Marathon in 41 days.

I enjoyed an easy recovery 5-miler yesterday, and rocked out my first speed work in a while today on a 7-miler. I ran 3 miles at sub-6:40, to help prepare for my 8k race later this month.

This post is being posted to my running blog as well. For my running blog readers, check out the site to help set your lifetime goals.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Six weeks to Boston

I completed another successful week by coming in right on my mileage target again. The weather again yesterday in Chicago was a bit dicey for an early morning long run, but, thanks to runner camraderie, we got 'er done. Ice, wind, chills, snow, you name it, we had it!

I am paying extra-special attention to my right ITB. I felt a near limp after yesterday's 17+ miler. Classic soreness in the outer knee. I am rolling like crazy and doing my leg lifts for my hip flexors. I think I concentrated so much on my left that now my right side is weak. Damn!

Now I will try to carefully raise my mileage while trying to stay healthy. I'm not focusing on speed work too much here, folks. There's no 3:10 in my future in Boston.

I am signed up for the Universal Sole 20-miler next week downtown (credit to Whitney's blog for giving me awareness).

Recap of 2/26 week

Mon 2/26 - 5 miles easy on treadmill
Tue 2/27 - 5 miles - cut short from 7
Wed 2/28 - Rest
Thu 3/1 - 8 miles
Fri 3/2 - 3 miles easy on treadmill
Sat 3/3 - 17.27 mi - 8:04 avg pace
Sun 3/4 - Rest

Total mileage for week: 38+

Goal for next week: 48. Check out my upcoming weeks below. Goal is to get to Boston with health and reasonable fitness to enjoy my first ever Boston Marathon.

Friday, March 02, 2007

On the defensive - 45 days 'til Boston

I am cautiously responding to symtpoms of an ITB now in the RIGHT side (recent issue was on the LEFT). I am foam rolling big-time and doing my hip flexor strengthening exercises. It is not serious yet, but this is similar to how I felt when my left ITB start up back in November. I have completed three runs so far this week:

Monday - 5 miles - I did a relatively easy 5 miler on the treadmill - around 8:12 average pace. For some reason, the pace felt faster. This is when I first felt some minor discomfort in the lower right knee area. I think I was pretty tired from Saturday's 17-miler.

Tuesday 5 miles - 7:51 - I cut this run short due to concerns over my right ITB.

Thursday - 8 miles - 7:50 pace - We had lightening and rain yesterday morning, so I ditched work at 4pm to head for a run. No problems here, but later in the run, I did feel some tenderness on the right side.

Just when you get the left leg 100% healed, the other one starts acting up. Such is life! I am hoping it is my imagination.

WTD: 18

Weekend plan

Friday - Gentle 3 recovery pace
Saturday - 17-18
Sunday - Rest

Goal mileage for the week: 37-38. Was hoping to crank it up to the high 40's next week.

45 days to go to Boston.