Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bring on the LCFB Marathon

I went into today's planned 21-mile run a slight degree of trepidation. Sure, I know I can run 21 miles. That's not the issue. However, would I be able to run it at a pace that would give me a strong indication of PR potential on Feb 17?

The temps were beautiful today in the Chicago area. Much sunshine with a high of 36. I waited until 1PM to start the run so that I could run in peak warmth.

Just a brief word on solo running. We all run solos. It's part of the drill. However, I do not underestimate the fact that every single training run I have put in during this marathon cycle has been on my own. I can only wonder what I could accomplish if I had a coach and a demanding, fit partner with whom to run.

Knocking out a near-marathon-pace 21-miler with no breaks (i.e. straight through, carrying your fuel belt and darting through intersections to keep your pace) is hard enough with a partner. Doing it in solitude is something in which I take great pride.

Why 21 miles? Pfitz had me scheduled for 20 but I wanted one-up him. I figured I could use the extra confidence.

Here are the results of today's run: 21 uninterrupted miles - avg pace: 7:17 - final five miles avg was 7:02 (final mile at 6:37).

I am thinking this kind of run, coupled with my other strong runs, will put me in good shape for a potential PR on February 17th. However, I believe the weather will need to be on my side. If it is zero farenheit, all bets are off. My best runs have been with temps in the 30's.

I really was surprised at my ability to hold sub-marathon goal pace towards the end. There were some tough miles due to wind and grade in the middle of the run. But when I hit 16, things got easier. I was able to kick into to overdrive and cruise through goal pace mileage with no issue.

Here is the recap for the week:

Mon 1/21 - 17 miles @ 7:38 avg pace
Tue 1/22 - Rest
Wed 1/23 - 10 miles w/4x1200m repeats - Nailed this workout on treadmill - repeats were done at 5k pace of 6:07
Thu 1/24 - Rest
Fri 1/25 - 9 miles on treadmill at 7:56 avg pace
Sat 1/26 - Recovery 5-miler at 8:38 avg pace
Sun 1/27 - 21-miler at 7:17 avg pace (2:33:09). NO STOPS WHATSOEVER. Final 5 miles at an average of 7:02.

Total: 62 miles

So my lovely, pregnant bride and I celebrated my run with a satisfying meal at ... of all places... this wonderful eating establishment. Of course, where else should I eat after that kind of run?!

Three weeks until the LCFB Marathon. Time to taper.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Battling The Deep Freeze

My training highlight of the week took place yesterday during a visit to the gym treadmill.

On the schedule was a “tune-up race” between 8-15k. I do not think Pfitzinger wrote his training schedule for those of us who train in Chicago winters for February marathons in Ohio.

There actually was a local 5k race yesterday, but it was –5 degrees at 8AM. Okay, call me a wuss, but I didn’t see how this short race in extreme temps would benefit my marathon goal. So off to the gym I went.

My plan was to put in a “simulated 8k race” at around 6:27 pace, if I could get there and hold it on a treadmill without going stir crazy.

I warmed up with an 8:45 mile and went into 6:39 pace for my first race pace mile. Each mile, I upped the speed gradually. By mile 4, I realized I was feeling really strong. So strong that I decided I would extend my planned 8k “self race” into a 10k.

It’s worth noting that I do not have a 10k PR that lines up well with my other PR’s. However, by mile 6, I was pushing 6:15 pace and planning for a sub-6 pace finish, which would crush my 10k PR. Here’s how I ended up:

1 - 6:39
2 - 6:35
3 - 6:31
4 - 6:27
5 - 6:25
6 - 6:12
0.2 - 1:10
10k time: 39:59

A 39:59 10-k is a PR by 1:53 for me. Okay, so it was on a treadmill, so it’s not a “real” PR, but it is a strong indicator of my fitness. This lines up with a 3:07 marathon. I was pumped with this result.

Today’s high temperature was about 14 degrees, with a real feel of 7. It was actually warmer than initially projected. Given tomorrow’s MLK holiday off from work, I postponed my 17-miler until tomorrow, when the temps will be into the balmy 20’s. I did a recovery 6 on the treadmill again today.

My total mileage this week was only 37 due to my schedule adjustment. With a 17-miler tomorrow and a 20-miler on Sunday, it will be a huge final week before taper. I am targeting 61-63 miles this coming week. Most notably, I have 1200m repeats scheduled for Wednesday and a hard 20-miler on Sunday.

Four weeks until marathon Sunday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Re-energized & Determined

I have increased my level of focus on achieving a PR in my upcoming marathon five weeks from today. On the schedule today was a 17-mile run with 14 at marathon goal pace.

Goal pace range at this point is 7:10-7:14. I hope to put up a 3:09 or better at the LCFB Marathon.

I set out to run the first mile slower than goal pace then kick into steady pace miles for 14. I carried the fuel belt with the hopes of avoiding, or at least minimizing, stops. The plan was if I felt good, I would hang on for my final two "bonus" miles at goal pace.

As you can see from the numbers, things went well: 17 miles at an avg 7:09. Today's run was a huge lift. I felt really good most of the way through.

I did feel a little fatigue at 14, but that's not surprising. I only stopped a couple of times along the way - once for a minute at the half point to pee, and a second to wait for traffic to clear. All and all, I exceeded my expectations and am feeling that I am progressing toward a new marathon PR.

I know I could run these workouts even harder and faster if I had a training partner. Right now, however, I simply do not have one. I also know that I would be faster on pavement. The trail is torn up from the winter and the horse tracks. It needs resurfacing.

I turned in 50 miles for the week.

Every day for the next 5 weeks, I will focus on what I need to do to deliver my best marathon on Feb 17th.

Three key areas of focus:

(1) Nutrition / Weight Control -- My weight was up to 172 pounds today (damn choco chip cookies my wife made -- too good!). I think I need to be closer to a race weight of 167. I will try to shave a few over the next five weeks.

(2) Cross-Training -- Especially over the next two weeks, I want to maximize my fitness and avoid injury. Cross-training & stretching are critical.

(3) Mental conditioning -- This worked well for me during my Chicago '06 PR. I need to visualize my success and build it into my mind that I WILL PR.

I am going to get that PR that was due to me this past October.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Regaining Purpose in Running

I just purchased three running-related books that I received from Amazon this week:

Boston Marathon or Bust: A Proven Step-By-Step Program That Helps You Achieve Your Life, Sports, and Business Goals in Record Time.

I began reading this one right when I opened up the box. I'm already halfway through. It's a really easy read. Despite its title, It's not so much about running, as it is about goal setting.

The Last Pick: The Boston Marathon Race Director's Road to Success

I read the first few pages of this book to get a sense of what it's about. It is written by Dave McGillivray, who is the Director of the Boston Marathon. He seems like one hell of a motivated and successful person, based on what I read in the foreward by the myriad of athletes he has inspired. Anyone who runs from Seattle to Boston for charity is someone I want to know and learn about.

Runner's World Performance Nutrition for Runners: How to Fuel Your Body for Stronger Workouts, Faster Recovery, and Your Best Race Times Ever (Runners

I have only peeked into this one, but the bottom line is that I need to take my nutrition more seriously. Not only for running purposes, but more so to keep my energy levels up and my weight in check. After all, I am 32 1/2 now. I hope to learn and build some positive habits from this book.

I hope this book will build some inspiration and focus for me. I have found that am simply just going through the motions. Yes, I am putting in all of my runs. But I do not feel like I have been running with purpose. I plan to really focus on why and how I am running through some of my readings.

On a positive note, I will say that I feel good about the 5x1000m workout I nailed in total darkness on a windy high school track on Wednesday morning. No overhead lights to guide my steps.

I have run 27 miles this week so far. I will run a recovery six today. I then have an important 17-miler with 14 at goal pace (7:10-7:14) tomorrow, which will put me at 50 for the week.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The First 48 of 2008

I completed 48 miles this week, which is right on task with 6 weeks to go to the marathon. Honestly, it felt like a low mileage week -- until today's long run, anyway.

Talk about drastic climate changes. I did wednesday's 11 miler in 8 degree weather - and today's 18-miler in mid-50 degree weather.

I am not going to pretend today's run was easy. The splits look pretty good, but I did not feel as strong as usual. I was tired, to be honest. I believe there are some reasons.

First potential factor was the hard treadmill mileage I did yesterday in attempts to simulate a race of some sort. I did 6:45's for the first four miles of seven for the day.

Second point may be the seven or eight beers I had at a neighbor's "couples" baby shower last night, along with lasagna, chocolate cake -- not to mention a cookie before bedtime. OK, not the smartest move, but they were going down easy and I barely got buzzed off of Beck's Light 64 calorie beer.

Third factor was likely the 20+ mph head winds I faced from mile 9 to 13 heading south today. You can see my HR in the 160's during this stretch when running 7:50's, when I normally would be in the high 140's for such a pace. Once I made the turn to head back east, my HR dropped back into the 150's and I was running 7:30's.

I'm looking forward to rest up tomorrow. Goal for this week is 51 miles with an important marathon goal pace run on Sunday (14 miles out of 17 total). No business travel planned for the foreseeable future. I am in pretty good control of my schedule and hitting all of the miles.

I have run every mile on this training cycle by myself. It's not ideal as I enjoy the camraderie, but I believe that I am one mentally strong runner. I hope I am pushing myself hard enough for BQ fitness.

I can't wait for my new Asics Gel Nimbus 9's to be delivered on Tuesday. I am at 350 on this pair and ready to switch out.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Reflecting on '07 / Goal setting for '08

Happy New Year, everyone.

For just a moment, I will reflect on what a great year for running 2008 turned out to be for me.

Firstly, I am amazed I ran 2,101 miles this year. That's over 40 per week on average. I put in five 60+ mile weeks with the peak of 67 back in August. This crushes last year's output of 1,632 miles.

I ran three marathons, my single year PR. I'll never forget my experience on April 16th when I ran my first Boston Marathon despite the feared nor'easter storm. What an experience it was. I'll never forget learning of the Va. Tech massacre upon returning to my hotel, which overshadowed the glory of the race day.

Chicago was nearly as memorable as Boston with the heat and adjusting my goal from a 3:00-3:05 target to simply finishing, which I did in 3:32. Man, it was a scorcher. Not to mention that I tapered for Chicago in China, which made the experience that much more interesting.

And knocking out my third marathon just three weeks after Chicago was quite a another accomplishment. Though I didn't get that BQ, I set my 2nd best time and showed that I can travel across the globe and still train for a marathon.

Along with setting a PR for running mileage, I set another PR for airplane mileage at the same time with all of my 2007 business travel. I made Exec Platinum with AA and ran in some fascinating places. I ran in London several times in 2007 and put in a great deal of mileage in the city of Chengdu, China on my 4-week assignment there.

In round numbers, assuming conservatively an average pace of 7:45, I ran for over 271 hours or nearly 39 total days in 2007. This means that there was over a 10% chance you could find me running at any given moment in 2007.

It's goal setting time. I am not going to set a total mileage goal, since I am not sure I can beat this year with my daughter coming to us this year. I figure if I can hit the races below, it will be a decent year of mileage.

Here are my running goals for specific races I plan to run in 2008:

- Run 3:10 or better at the LCFB Marathon – 2/17/08
- Run 1:31 or better at the March Madness Half Marathon (last year’s time 1:32:50) – 3/16/07
- Set a PR at the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8k (last year’s PR: 31:53) – 3/30/08
- Run my second Boston Marathon* – 4/21/08
- Run the St. George (UT) Marathon** – 10/4/08

*NOTE: Running Boston is contingent on running a BQ at the LCFB Marathon and, more importantly, the condition of Jennifer and the impending birth of our child. (Her due date is May 5th).

**NOTE: I am not setting a goal time for St. George since I will spend the summer adapting to fatherhood. I simply do not know how I will balance my newly acquired daddy duties and my training.

Here are PR’s by distance I will aim to achieve regardless of race selected:

- Set a new 10k PR – Goal: 40:30
- Set a new 5k PR – Goal: 18:59

- Set a new half marathon PR – Goal: 1:27:59