Monday, July 28, 2008

Back on Track - 50 mile week

It's Monday night here in my hotel room in Connecticut. I have yet another few days planned at the head office this week.

I had a great week coming back to the Pfitz plan, even if I am still slightly below the mileage right now. The TCM is 10 weeks from yesterday. I nailed 50 miles this week - the first time I have had a 50-mile week since the week of April 21st.

Recap of this past week

Mon - Rest
Tue - 6 miles recovery 8:42 pace
Wed - 11 miles general aerobic - 7:39 avg pace
Thu - Rest
Fri - 9 miles w/5 miles at 6:36 pace (tempo)
Sat - 4 miles - recovery 8:40 pace on treadmill
Sun - 20 miles - 7:37 avg pace

Total: 50 miles

I stepped up my mileage substantially compared to where it was the two weeks ago.

I had a very successful 20 mile run yesterday that I finished reasonably strong. Paces were reasonably consistent and my fastest mile was my 20th - a 7:25. Avg pace over the entire run was 7:37.

OK, I'm not where I was last Sep when I crushed 20 at 7:07 pace on a solo training run. However, it's still early days. I have two more 20-milers before TCM.

I went into this summer again focused on targeting that elusive 2:59. I've not given up on that. (Perhaps I never will). However, the CDC 1/2 Marathon is in less than 2 weeks and will give guidance on what is realistic.

I know I can set a major PR in TCM if I work hard. However, I do not want to over-work and miss out on my parenting time. It's a sensitive period in my life. Career is flying high. Running is peaking. And we have a new family.

This week will require a minor stepback. Once I get back to Chicago on Wed, we will head to Pittsburgh on Friday for Alivia's Christening. I am anticipating a 43-mile week with an important pace run on Saturday.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


My running has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride since my last post. I ran that 5k a week ago Thursday, which went OK, I suppose. In retrospect, maybe I wasn't as fast as I thought.

I attempted a solo 20-miler last Saturday morning, hoping I was recovered from the race. Apparently, I wasn't.

Due to some wicked storms in the area, I started off on the treadmill that morning. I knocked out 10 at an easy 7:53 pace. The only problem was that it didn't feel as easy as it should have. I cut it at 10 since I saw the rain stop, and I headed home to continue my run.

By mile 14, I could barely keep my pace in the low 8's. My body was spent. I decided to cut it to 16 miles and go back to the drawing board last Saturday. I needed rest.

Sure, the impact of the 5k from Thurs night played a factor. However, I felt my endurance has suffered due to the very low mileage the FIRST program called.

I was exasperated. This is when I gave up on the FIRST Program. I wanted to get back to putting in some decent mileage.

I hope I can retain some of the gains from the speed/tempo work. However, the fact is that these intense FIRST workouts left me with nothing for the Sat long run, and I was not building confidence for the long run either.

This past week, I made a risky transition back onto Pfitz's 55 mpw plan, which has been tried and true. I find that what has helped me is that crucial med-long run mid-week. The 10's, 11's and 12's that Pfitz works in.

As of last Sunday, bear in mind that I have averaged a paltry 31 miles per week over the last six weeks.

This past week, I banged out 47 miles (out of the 50 in plan) on 4 runs -- capped off by a 19-miler today at the Waterfall Glen trail. This week also included a solid 5-mile tempo run on Monday, as well as a breathtaking 7-mile 7:26 avg fartlek along the coast of Lake Michigan in Western Michigan, where we vacationed this past weekend.

I won't claim today's 19 miles was easy. In fact, I felt fatigue early on but completed the run in 7:50's. But this week felt like a step back toward the marathon training that I know works for me.

I get frustrated when I think back to last year knowing I was completing these runs with far greater ease. I somehow am not as far along in my training.

I have gone back to the drawing board. I am in the process of resurrecting my running. I will take aim at putting up my best possible time in Twin Cities on October 5th.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bittersweet 5k PR - 2008 Joliet Sundowners

Deja. Flippin'. Vu. That's how I felt about last night's 5k.

Yes, I won my age group again as I did last year. Yes, I set a PR by a whopping 2 seconds. However, I did not make the progress (i.e. run sub-19) I had hoped.

6:34 -- say what the #&$@!?

I was shocked when I saw my split as I approached mile 3. Sure, it was tough, and maybe I slipped slightly off pace. But no way did I feel like I slipped off pace by 30+ whole seconds. Same thing happened last year. Here my splits from last year's race.


I asked around and many runners had the same experience -- a strangely slow 3rd mile. For this reason, call me crazy, but I am convinced the course's mile markers are off. Are they off and the total distance is right? Or is the course long? I am not sure.

As a whole, my training with FIRST is progressing (at least, so I thought).

  • Last week's 17 miler was my best long run in several weeks at 7:30 avg pace.
  • I am hitting all the tempo runs at the pace prescribed by the FIRST plan for a 2:59 workout. This week I nailed a 4-mile 6:28 tempo pace workout at very nearly even splits.
  • I am only slightly off by a few seconds from hitting the targets on the speed intervals (typically ranging in the mid 5:00's for pace)
The above reasons are why I thought I was in decent shape to break 19 last night. Oh well. Still got burgers, hot dogs and a bunch free beer after the race - sweet! Here is a pic of me and Liv posing with my 1st place AG trophy (yes, it is the Dick Pond's hat).

I may do the Viking Sunset 5k at the end of the month. Maybe this will tell me if the Joliet course is long or that I am just not able to hold the third mile of a 5k.

No time to worry about that now. Time to get to bed early for a very early solo 20-miler tomorrow. I am going to experiment with Waterfall Glen. Can you believe I've lived in the Chicago area for 2+ years and never run it? I hope to beat the heat at 6AM on the shaded path.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Still Running Strong - Happy 4th of July

Happy Independence Day. You may have noticed that my frequency of posting has slowed. Don't worry, I have not stopped running.

Parenthood has happened. If I am not at work, I need to be there for my wife and daughter. Add in some travel, which was two days last week and three days this upcoming week.

Work is more challenging than ever with managing a team of seven. I also need to find the time to train. It's all I can do to keep up with the with my work and family.

I am continuing to follow the FIRST Training Plan. I am on track this week. Last night, I completed a 7 mile treadmill run, which included the middle 5 miles at 6:44 pace, which is considered my "long tempo pace" in my FIRST plan.

Earlier in the week, I had a really challenging speed workout that was comprised of 1200m, 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m intervals - with 200m slow jog rest intervals. I ran all of these very close to the recommended pace range of 5:40-5:20, which is where I need to be for the 2:59 marathon, says our FIRST authors.

I do think my VO2 max and lactate threshold are improving. However, I am still concerned about the loss of my endurance. My 15 miler in 7:40's last week again was a struggle, which may have been driven by the 90% humidity.

Nevertheless, when I was doing 45-55 miles/week, I had no problem knocking out 15-17 milers on the weekend. However, those weeks included a lot of easy miles vs. my current approach is to run fewer, but much harder miles.

I think the high intensity VO2's/LT workouts during the week are draining me as I approach my Saturday long runs.

This Saturday, I plan to run with a group, which is something I have not been doing at all.

I signed up for the 2008 running of this local 5k race, which is set for next Thursday. I really hope this year I can break below that 19-minute barrier for this 5k. My speed work says I am there. I hope I can repeat as the Men's 30-34 winner.