Sunday, June 22, 2008

Downers Grove 10-miler - PR Streak Restarted!

My daughter Liv came out to see her Dad race for the second time ever. She had far higher expectations for Dad on this 10-mile race vs. the Soldier Field 10M last month, where I cramped up badly and crawled in at 1:10.

This is the third year I've run the DG 10-miler and I really look forward to it. I love Downers Grove. The race volunteers and citizens are so friendly. I really would consider moving to this beautiful Chicago suburb, which is about 20 miles NW of where we live today. The sprawling trees, the ornate classic homes and the rolling hills all add up to true Americana.

Along with Liv was my wife and my mom who has been visiting us from Utah. It was a real family affair today. We had some unexpected car trouble on the way to the race. Luckily, we made it to DG, but I knew there may be an issue to deal with when I finished.

The race offers 5 and 10-mile distances; the latter of which is simply two loops through the town. I ran this course last year in 1:07:45, and 1:11:52 in 2006.

My goal this year was to break 1:07, knowing that I need to start showing some progress to inch down toward sub-3 marathon conditioning. I planned to target 6:40's, which would get me in at 1:06:40.

I was hoping my FIRST speed training would help me improve slightly over the past few weeks - not knowing if my endurance was there. I am pleased to say my final two miles felt very strong. My final mile was a 6:28, my fastest of the day.

First half: 33:14
Second half: 33:36
Finish time: 1:06:40 (6:40/mile) - Goal time exactly achieved. New 10M PR by 1:05.

The race director announced a glitch with the timing machine and the results would be delayed. She said she would mail all medals to the age group winners. Little did I know I placed third and will be getting one!

OK, so I need to be able to run a 1:04 10M race to be in sub-3 shape. But today was progress. I have 15 weeks to the TCM.

After the race, our car began to overheat again. There is a problem in the thermostat in the engine. We got it to a service station and waited several hours, hoping for a quick fix. We were able to enjoy a fat lunch at Fuddrucker's while waiting, but no luck on the repair. They couldn't get the part they needed today.

Our car waits to be repaired in Downers Grove at this very moment. The four of us taxied home in a cab driven by an older, far more ornary version of "the Dude" featured in the film, the Big Lebowski.

Upon my request that he remove the piles of newspaper, cigar wrappers, coffee trash and other debris from the passenger seat, our faithful driver replied: "I know, dude, but your're going to have to a minute!" What a prick.
See you again next year at the DG 10-miler.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Digging in my heels

Interesting how yesterday, on what was supposed to be my first day of the FIRST training program, I already deviated from plan. Instead of getting on the bike, I decided I wanted to run an easy five.

For the last couple weeks, I "pre-trained" on the FIRST model before truly beginning the 16-week program this week. I started to question my plan on Sunday even before I really even began.

Why? My last two long runs have seen me fizzle toward the end. I can barely get through these FIRST-specified speed workouts - even if I do cut pace. Maybe the speed+bike workouts of last week took more of a toll that I thought?

Part of me feels like my struggle to finish my long runs have been partly due to letting my mileage slip. How is it possible that I would struggle on the final 2 miles two consecutive weeks on 16 and 18 milers when I ran a pretty decent marathon on May 18?

Maybe I didn't recover all the way from Green Bay. It's a possibility.

So, yesterday, I wanted to run -- even if they were "garbage" miles, it sure beat sitting on a bike in a stuffy gym.

I remember a short several weeks ago how I would breeze through Pfitizinger's program, knocking out 50-55 miles in a week without missing a beat.

I must mention that life pressures, namely work and fatherhood, are having an impact. With recent increased responsibility at my job, I have to work harder, longer than I used to. I am not sleeping as well right now with our baby. My diet feels like it is harder to control right now.

I want to run more. The med-long runs in the Pfitz program typically gave me the confidence to crush the long runs on the weekend.

I think I will stick to plan and a evaluate in a few weeks. I hope I can feel better about my running. Right now it just feels like I am moving in the wrong direction.

I have a 10-mile race on Sunday, and I do not know what to expect of myself.

Life changes constantly and I need to adjust. Time to keep faith, have patience and continue to work hard.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Unveiling my "FIRST" TCM Plan

I am anxious and to unveil my 16-week training program for the Twin Cities Marathon, which has been borrowed from the bright folks over at FIRST (see below image). My plan is set to begin on June 16th, so one more week of preparing.

I've read the FIRST book and all the testimonials. What's more, my friend Steve keeps selling me on the principles of specificity - and I refuse to argue with his 2:51 in Boston, and his continued progress since with the low mileage+high intensity formula.

I am ready to be amazed as I strive for the elusive sub-3 again this year. I am scared to death of some of these track workouts scheduled for Tuesdays this summer.

Another concern is my diet. My weight is typically anywhere from 168 to 174 lbs. I really want to try to get down to a race weight of 165 lbs, which should improve my chances for sub-3.

I eat a ton. It feels like it, anway. This is not too mention all those empty beer calories and my hankering for ice cream toward the end of any given day. I went out shopping today and bought a ton of healthy fruits and vegetables. I am eating much better these days, but the weekends truly test my willpower.

I started pre-training with the FIRST model this week with a cross-training workout on Tuesday. Maybe my first step towards tri'ing?

I capped off the week with an early Saturday 16-miler at the I&M Canal Trail, during which I ran pretty consistent 7:36's (GMP+45 sec). This made for a paltry 27 miles for the week, which included a couple of shoddy speed and tempo workouts.

The final two miles were tough and I felt quite dehydrated. I've got a million miles to go to sub-3 shape, it seems - despite running a 3:12 only three weeks ago. However, I know the humidity was a major factor.

My streak is alive. I was denied entry into NYC. That makes "0-fer-2" on lotteries this year.

On a bright note, I'll be marathoning in Texas in 2009. I just made arrangements to head to Austin in February for a family/marathon visit.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Contemplating the TCM Plan

Today is June 1st, 2008. And I'm torn.

The TCM is 18 weeks from today. I'm still a little fuzzy on how I will devise my plan.

Initially, I was committed to the Pfitz 70-mpw plan. But I am rethinking that idea.

I've since come to terms with the unpredictability of being a supportive father of a 4-week old daughter -- as well as a compassionate, committed husband to a new mother who needs help. Right now, I can't just drop everything and run 70 miles a week when I want.

I also have been reading about the FIRST Program and am debating if I will follow some variant of it. Maybe I run four days a week and really focus on nailing the three quality runs.

On the bright side, I knocked out a solid 14-miler that I started at 6:30 AM today. It was a good step toward figuring out my plan.

I ran 30 miles this week, which included three days in Connecticut. I finally think I am ready to ramp up a bit since the GB Marathon.

In addition to my long runs, I plan to do a tempo and track workout each of the next three weeks before the DG 10-miler on June 22.