Sunday, May 25, 2008

Soldier Field 10M --> FIRST Training?

Last week, I stated that I would not run a step until yesterday’s Soldier Field 10-miler. I was able to hold out until Friday morning. I decided an easy two-miler would be good to get my legs going again since last Sunday’s marathon.

Prior to those two miles, I spent my free time recovering, kid-sitting, planning and researching. I finally started to read about the FIRST Training Method that my good friend, Steve, now swears by after his phenomenal 2:51 in Boston, a six-minute PR for him.

FIRST recommends a "3+2" weekly training schedule: three high-quality runs and two x-train sessions. The theory is that focusing on pace intensity and race specificity, and allowing the body to recover will enable the busy runner more effectively his achieve his running potential. The plan weeds out all the junk miles and reduces injury risk.

Three runs per week: (1) Track repeats (VO2 max), (2) Tempo/LT and (3) Long runs. Toss in a couple of bike, row or swim work-outs, and that's it. I do like the fact that the program includes five 20-milers over the 16-week program, which is two more than Pfitz's 55mpw 18-week plan.

The plan worked wonders for Steve, who came off knee surgery last year only to nearly beat Lance in Boston this year. Should I give it a try?

As for yesterday’s race, I kept my expectations for my time in check. I never had run a race of any kind six days after a marathon. I decided to see if I could hold 6:45'ish, which would put me on track for a PR at this distance and see how things went.

Race morning conditions were absolutely glorious. Gathering in front of Soldier field at the start with 7,500 runners was exciting and entertaining experience.

All went well for the first seven, at which point I thought I would try to get that PR. However, shortly after taking a gatorade at the 7th mile marker, I was struck with a violent side stitch. That discomfort coupled with some breathing issues brought me to walk.

I mustered a 6:59 final mile, which was strong given how I felt on mile 8. Finish time was 1:10:05, which is 2:23 behind my PR.

6:39 + 6:42 + 6:49 + 6:56 + 6:47 + 6:48 + 6:55 + 7:43 + 7:49 + 6:59 = 1:10:05.

It was Liv’s first race spectator experience. She did great! Here we are celebrating in the Soldier Field concourse after the run.

I’ve decided to rethink my plan of running one of the few half marathons in early June and get back to training. I don’t feel like putting up another 1:28-1:29 right now, which is probably where I’ll land best-case. It’s time to get back to work and try to make some gains.

Next race is likely to be the Downer's Grove 10-miler four weeks from today. I want to work toward putting up a 1:06. I need to work toward a 1:25 half in August.

Will I be able to run a 1:25 half this summer and a 2:59 at Twin Cities in October on three runs per week?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

GB Marathon - Favre wouldn't fade in the 4th quarter like this!

I successfully completed my twelfth marathon today in Green Bay, WI. In the end, it was my third fastest time. I take pride in finishing strong in all of my races when I can. Unfortunately, I suffered a classic marathon fade today. Nevertheless, it was a solid effort and a positive race experience.

First Half: 1:33:45 – Second Half: 1:38:15
Finish Time: 3:12:00 – Positive Split: 4:30 (Ouch!)

See all the splits below.

The weather today was very favorable. Temps were in the mid-40’s at the start. The winds would become somewhat of a factor later in the race.

First half of the race was pretty strong. I felt very good and I thought I was on track toward another near-PR performance.

In fact, if you check out the race plan I posted yesterday, I came in through the ½ point exactly on the money at 1:33:45 to the second, as planned! How’s that for race execution? It would not matter in the end, however.

The backslide really began at mile 17 when we hit the bridge across the Fox River. Although the winds running along the Fox River were very challenging from miles 17 to 23, I know the winds are not the reason I faded. It merely was the tipping point. I simply could not hold on for the life of me.

Once we hit the path along the river heading back to GB, the best I could muster were 7:20-25’s. It was extremely frustrating. Then the doubt set in and things started to slip even further.

The mile markers disappeared after 23, which was the lone organizer faux pas of this race. Had I not had a BQ in the bank this year, I would have been really upset since I didn’t know where I was.

My final 3.2 miles would be comprised of avg pace of 7:55. This included a jog around Lambeau among the aura of the historic greatness of many NFL champions.

Bottom line: I simply was not in 3:07 shape today. As I feared, I think the zany schedule and the lack of tempos caught up with me. My training was too imperfect for me to keep the PR streak alive.

I also made zero stops to the porta-cans, so I cannot even blame that for a second half meltdown. Wait, the excuse monkey wants to say: "Hey, you just did have a baby 2.5 weeks ago, which obviously messed up your sleep and taper for this one!"

It’s all good. I am very proud to have run another marathon, put up a very respectable time and add yet another state to my repertoire. So my P.R. streak is officially snapped at FOUR: A marathon, a ½ marathon, a 8k and a 10k from Feb through April.

I would like to think I made little Alivia proud, as I thought about her a lot during my 28-hour journey away from home.

Race Evaluation

Green Bay put on an extremely well-run and and enjoyable marathon. I recommend this race to anyone who wants a medium-sized field in a small, but well-known city and the experience of running into to an NFL stadium. What’s more, the course was decent and really pretty flat.

I was able to score a last minute local GB hotel by calling around yesterday morn. They had shuttles running to the start and the gear check was well handled. There was even a free pasta party included to race entrants inside the Lambeau on Sat eve. Running into legendary Lambeau on your 26th mile = priceless! Summary: Very good race - and only $85!

Come to think of it, I have finished marathons in two NFL stadiums now; the first being Heinz Field in Pittsburgh back in 2002 and 2003.

Up next, I will run into Soldier Field for the popular 10-mile run here this weekend, which will make THREE NFL stadiums covered. Pretty cool, huh?

Editor's Note: Ryan will not run a step before the Soldier Field 10-mile race on Saturday.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Marathoning Through the Hall of Favre

Green Bay is here. Tomorrow. As I reviewed my training over the past several weeks, it dawned on me what perhaps may have been missing: Lactate Threshold training.

I really have not had any solid tempo runs in several weeks. I recall a run over the Christmas break where I completed 7 miles solidly at 6:40 pace. I think it was one of the key workouts that gave me the confidence to run a 3:07 in Columbus (not to mention that it prepared me for the numbing repetition of a LCFB Marathon course that is 1 mile x 26.2 laps).

The point is I do not have a similar run in recent memory at that 15k-1/2 mary pace. My last half mary was on March 14, which was a 1:29. With the taper for Boston, and ultimate decision to bow out of Boston, I hopped back on Pfitzinger’s program.

Pfitz places most of the LT work up until the final 3-4 weeks, so LT was not scheduled in recent weeks. While I’ve had a handful of decent speed workouts at 5k pace (e.g. 600m, 1200m and mile repeats), tempos are lacking.

So this training cycle has been a bit screwy. The long run is what matters most, right? I am banking on that 21-miler just a few weeks back, in which I finished the final 3 miles at 6:50 pace. That one left me spent, I will say. I also have a 31:20 8k on March 30, which I suppose is a good indicator of VO2 max. I also have a 10k PR on April 20, though it was a little slower than anticipated.

What does this mean for my race strategy? Assuming manageable weather, I am going to try to flirt with my PR and break if I can. However, I do not anticipate an earth-shattering PR, as I am not trained up for one. Any PR would be a celebration!

Weather outlook is has turned somewhat sour. Potential high winds, slightly cold and likely very wet.

Current PR: 3:07:46 – 2/17/08
GB Race Goal: 3:06:59 – with a negative split of 30+ seconds.
Goal is to come through the ½ at 1:33:45.
No bathroom breaks, please!

Regardless of my finishing time, I look forward throwing up a Favre-like fist pump as I blast a strong final mile into Lambeau.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Shunned by St. George -- Here I come TCM!

Did I mention I am running Green Bay next Sunday? Should I wear my Detroit Lions jersey for when I run into Lambeau?

I suppose taper is going OK. It's a weird taper, since I was tapered for Boston, then bailed for my daughter's birth. I then ramped up quickly (to the extent I could) and tapered again. Not to mention having a 8-day old daughter throws some curves into the schedule. Let's call Green Bay somewhat of an experiment.

The news of the day was that I am apparently not so lucky when it comes to marathon lotteries. It appears that I am an official "loser" of the St. George lottery, despite having a 71.4% chance to gain entry and two tax-paying parent-residents. Maybe I'll have better luck for NYC?

The back story is that my parents are retired in St. George and we had a family outing planned with our new baby centered around the marathon. We'll postpone our visit by two weeks for Plan B.

I decided Plan B is to enter Twin Cities, which is the same weekend as St. George. I am officially registered as of this morning. My only hesitation with Twin Cities was the elevation chart that tells me miles 20-23 are a steeper climb than Heartbreak. I suppose it's a minor obstacle for my first sub-3, but I am going for it anyway. I welcome your thoughts if you have run TCM.

I am set to run Green Bay next week, recover for a couple of weeks, and start the 18-week 70mpw Pfitz program for TCM on June 2nd.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tapering and Parenting

I have felt extremely busy since Alivia's birth - that is until today when a power failure gripped our village for about 5 hours. At least we were able to go to our first pediatrician visit during this time.

I have not been to work since I left the office on Tuesday morning at 9:30 AM to go to the hospital. In addition to holding my girl, I have been working on the yard and trying to support Jen when I can with the baby.

Despite my daughter's birth on Tuesday, I managed to hit all 39 scheduled miles in taper week #1.

On Saturday, I did some hard speed work. Then I did a 16-miler yesterday, in which the last two miles I felt myself crashing.

Once again, long runs after speed work tend to be a challenge for me. I did not run with anywhere near the intensity of last week's 21-miler. I think the poor diet and lack of sleep I have had over the past week may be a contributing factor.

For now, I will throw my hat in the Green Bay ring this week and see what happens. Maybe some Yasso's on Wed after a recovery run tomorrow. That'll build some confidence, won't it?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I am a Daddy!

I am delighted to announce the arrival of our beautiful daughter to the running world:

Alivia Paige
Born April 29, 2008 at 6:52 PM CDT
7 lbs - 8 oz
21 inches long

Liv and Mom just arrived home from the hospital today. Though just celebrating her 2-day anniversary into the world, she has long, athletic running legs.

Her dad is hopeful that he can talk her into joining him for his 50th marathon in 50 states in circa the year 2026. Until then, we'll get her trained up for the baby jogger over the next year.