Sunday, February 24, 2008

Recovered & Ready to Ramp Up

I must say this week of recovery flew by pretty rapidly. Having President's Day off was perfect timing after Sunday's race. I didn't leave the house on Monday.

Since then, I have relaxed, eaten like a pig, enjoyed a great deal of downtime and have run a whopping 13 miles. So much for downtime... Boston is eight weeks off and I need to start preparing.

I plan to start ramping back up this week. Plan is to get to around 32-34 miles this week and then crank back up to at least the low fifties the following week.

J and I went to Lamaze class yesterday, but had to miss today when she came down with the flu suddenly. The more I learn about a woman's first childbirth, the more I think that it is highly unlikely that J will go two weeks early (which would mean Boston is OUT).

Of course it's possible if there are complications, but hopefully my little girl will root me on in Boston from the womb so I can meet her when I get back. We will visit the doc right before the trip to get his guidance.

I registered for Boston earlier this week and have received my confirmation. The lottery for NYC opens up tomorrow, so I am going throw another $150 at a race tomorrow. I don't have expectations I will get in, but I do want to do NYC someday, and it may take a few years. (Seems easier to pay than to run a 2:55 to qualify).

Next, I will have to sign up for St. George in early April. The fees are adding up - which means the peak running season is nearly upon us. Yippee!

Monday, February 18, 2008

LCFB Marathon - Race Report

I qualified again for the Boston Marathon yesterday. Here is a recap of my race experience.

I flew into Columbus on Saturday morning. I spent Saturday driving around in my rental car. I revisited the places where I began my career and spent my first years after college. This included trips to the satellite college for the university from which I earned my MBA, my old apartment and the office of the company where I started out ten years ago.

After I got the trip down memory lane out of the way, I checked into the hotel. After picking up my chip and what I would call a questionable race windshirt, I stepped out of the hotel and ran a few recovery miles on the course.

My friends, Steve and Aaron, drove over in the evening from Pittsburgh. Both are registered for Boston and had planned to help pace me. Aaron decided to run the half at the last minute.

We got up at 5:30 AM on Sunday. As I gain more race experience, I've learned to not fret over the weather forecast for race day. The fact is that no one knows which way the wind will blow.

Forecast was for solid, steady rain with high winds and temps in the 40's. Had this not been a small race with me staying right on the course, I probaby would have over-dressed. The race was at 8:00. I made a call at 7:20 to wear shorts and two long-sleeve layers and a hat.

The course is set in an office park that includes various buildings, a few hotels and a Max and Erma's. Thrilling, right?

At race time, the rain died and the winds were mild. It was great. The weather was going to cooperate, it appeared. I knew I would be shedding my top layer pretty early in the race.

They set the marathoners 0.2 behind the start, so your first lap is 1.2 miles. Although they used a chip system, everyone was on "gun time". As usual, the start was a bit chaotic and my first 0.2 was slow. Then I over-compensated by running a 6:45 first mile.

This was a high-traffic race the entire way through - especially in the beginning, since a 5k, 10k and half were all being run. The course was marked by pylons and the pathway was very narrow. Most annoying was a very plus-sized woman walking in the dead center of an already very narrow path. Couldn't she have walked on the outside edge of the pilons?

There were quarter mile markers, which is the main reason my splits were so consistent. After I got the lay of the course, I would hit 1/4 around 1:45 (this marker felt slightly short), the 1/2 at 3:31, the 3/4 at 5:17, which would get me in around 7:08-7:10 for the lap. I needed a couple of miles to figure this out, which is why my first mile was too fast and my second was a little behind.

After I knocked out 5.2, Steve hopped in with me to run the final 21 miles. He was running strong. Later, after completing his half, Aaron would join us for the final 5. Steve and Aaron pulled me through the last few miles.

Really the majority of the race was uneventful. I just kept nailing splits. Winds became increasingly a factor, but only for 0.5 mile increments. The benefit of a 1-mile loop is that you are never in the head winds for more than 1/2 mile at a time.

Once I had six miles to go, I knew I had a BQ. When I hit the final three, I wanted to be sure I got a 3:07.

To summarize, this race is not about getting any scenery or fanfare that comes with large marathons. It is not for those who need spectators to cheer them on. It is about predictability. It is for those who want to meticulously plan out there splits and want to know where they are on the course at all times.

Although it sounds painfully monotonous, running the 26.2 laps wasn't that bad. When I hit 20, it actually felt easier counting off the final miles six knowing exactly what to expect. It took away the uncertainty.

I attribute this comfort to training also. I think back to a tempo run I had on the track over Christmas time. I ran 48 laps on the track, including 7 at a very consistent tempo pace. This workout helped prepare me for this particular marathon.

The official race results show that I finished 8th overall with a 3:07:46. Never dreamed I would be a top 10 finisher in a marathon. Okay, so it wasn't exactly a Chicago-sized field. No matter, it is a BQ and a PR!

Obviously, I am pleased that I ran the race. I think what it is astounding to me is that I had no tune-up races whatsoever this training cycle and no training partners to run with. I know I have more minutes to shave. I negative splitted even after you take out my 35 second pee break on mile 8.

In short, I know I can go faster. I had gas left in the tank and my training was not all that difficult. I may kick it up to the Pfitz 70mpw when I am ready to go for sub-3 again.

So would I do this marathon again? Not likely. I'd need to be pretty desperate to get into Boston and have no other options. I do recommend it for people that are experienced marathoners who need a BQ. This is not a first time marathoner's race. The organization was fine. However, there is only so much appeal to paying $80 to run around an office park.

For now, I will plan for Boston, which will be a last minute call depending on Jen's doctor's input. I have the March Madness Half Marathon in four weeks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Victorious! New Marathon PR Set in Dublin, OH

I set a new marathon PR today here in Dublin, OH. I am feeling great about today's race. Below are the splits.

We are heading out to celebrate with a great meal before I travel back to Chicago. Race report to follow.

1:38 - 0.2 miles completed first
7:47 - pee break
6:53 - final mile

Final time - 3:07:45 -- PR by 2 min 19 sec's

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bring On Marathon #11 - LCFB in Dublin, OH

Some final thoughts before I travel to Columbus tomorrow morning.

Forecasts call for above average temps in the 30's-40's with threats of winds and steady rain. I suppose it beats single digits and sunny.

I reflected on this November 20th post when I thought I injured myself. I've had an outstanding winter of running since then. No injuries and plenty encouraging results. It's been a fantastic three months of training.

This training cycle seems special, since it went without incident and I did it pretty much in solitude. I have found a way to integrate the 55mpw Pfitz plan into my life with absolutely no issue. I just put it the miles and they come easy. I plan. I work. I run. I plan more. I adjust. I work. I run.

What's more, despite the fact that most of the speed work was inside, I feel I put in more quality miles than I did last summer.

My friends Steve and Aaron will be driving over from Pittsburgh to run part or most of the race with me. They've already earned this year's ticket to Boston. Now I am going to get mine.

I have decided that I will be going out at 3:06 pace. That is steady 7:06's if I can swing it. I'd be less than forthright if I said I wasn't nervous. However, based on some of my long runs, this should be right in range where I should be for marathon pace.

On Sunday, it will be time to reap the benefits of my hard work. It's time to show how commitment leads to success.

Before I race, I will say a prayer for the fallen victims at Northern Illinois University. I will say a prayer for the health of my unborn daughter. I give thanks to God for my family, my health, my freedom and the drive that keeps me running. Then I will go run with courage, pride and determination -- and give it everything I've got.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Final Taper - 7 Days 'Til Dublin

I realized today that it has been nearly 3.5 months since I have run my last race. It was the Lakeshore Marathon on October 26th. I have run 633 miles in training since then. Man, that feels like forever and a lot of miles ago.

I am excited to visit Dublin, OH next weekend to hopefully knock out a strong race. Dublin is where I lived when began my first "real" job after college and the place I began my true adulthood. I guess you could say I feel some personal history was created there. I grew up dramatically between the ages of 22 and 25 while living there.

For the race, assuming decent weather, I plan to pace toward a 3:07-3:08 through 20 miles and take it from there. I will have some help as my Boston-bound friends Steve & Aaron will drive over from Pittsburgh to help pace me for most of the race.

I capped off another taper week with 12 miles on a treadmill today at 7:45 average pace. It's wicked cold here as it is throughout the midwest. I completed Pfitz's recommended 32 miles to a "T" this week.

I want to give a plug to Derek's Road to Boston blog. His website design prowness and his determination to get Pete P's permission to publish the Pfitz plan gives me ready access what is now my baseline training program anywhere at the world without carrying the book.

I can almost feel the spring running season coming upon us. Regardless of what happens during next Sunday's LCFB Marathon, I am very pleased with my decision to train through the winter. I am in very strong running shape right now. I'm hungry. I am ready to line up races throughout the spring until our baby's birth in early May.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Should I go for 50 marathons in 50 states?

OK. I am 32 now. I’ve got 10 marathons under my belt.

Pittsburgh (PA) – 2001, 2002, 2003
Virginia Beach (VA) – 2004
Houston (TX) – 2005
Tampa (FL) – 2006
Boston (MA)- 2007
Chicago (IL) (including Lakefront marathon) – 2006, 2007 (2)

That makes six states covered.

I will hit Ohio this month for the LCFB Marathon on Feb 17th.
I have St. George, UT planned for Oct.

I will have at least 8 states covered by the end of 2008. Depending on if I go to Boston or not, I may be able to sneak in another midwestern state this summer.

That leaves 42 to go. Hmmm….

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Another 10k PR - 2 Weeks To Go

I am ready for the LCFB marathon in two weeks.

I am thrilled about yet another 10k PR that I set on the treadmill yesterday during a simulated tune-up race.

I know it's unofficial since it is not by any means a sanctioned race, but I am counting it as my PR. My "official" 10k race PR is 2:34 slower and just doesn't line up right with my other times. I bet I can run faster on pavement with the adrelanine of a race kicking me long.

Instead of fellow runners pounding the pavement with me, I had Foo Fighters "Best Of You" blaring from the IPod during my final stretch. I think the lady walking on the treadmill next to mine became a little frightened when she saw me pumping my fist and about to break into tune with a screeching Dave Grohl.

Warm-up mile: 8:45

Mile 1 - 6:34
Mile 2 - 6:31
Mile 3 - 6:28
Mile 4 - 6:22
Mile 5 - 6:16
Mile 6 - 6:00
Final 0.2 - 1:06

Total 10k time: 39:18 / 6:19 per mile -- McMillan marathon predictor: 3:04:26

I am curious what others think, but with the kind of pace progression in this 10k, I may be able to run a bit faster.

Today, I logged a steady 16-miler at an avg pace of 7:38. I trotted through it with confidence and no self-induced pressure of worrying about my pace all too much,

I put a taper-licious 42 miles this week including that smoking 10k and another speed workout with 5x600m repeats earlier in the week.

For my final upcoming pre-race week, I will again follow Pfitz to the script with 32 miles. Wednesday brings 2x1600m repeats, which I will run at the newly established 5k pace of 6:05. I will round out the week with an easy 12 next Sunday.

Given my indicators are trending closer to 3:05, I may reset PR pacing strategy for marathon day. I will not make a decision on that until race day, as the weather will obviously play a huge role.