Monday, August 25, 2008

Home Stretch - 6 weeks til TCM

Despite travel back East for work and several team meetings, I had a solid 46-mile week of training this past week. I even got to see Grease on Broadway on Wednesday with "Idol" Taylor Hicks, and help clean up Sheffield Island in Connecticut for charity on Thursday. How's that for a productive week? Tough job I have, right?

Most significantly in my training, I ran a simulated 5-mile race on the treadmill on Saturday and put up a 31:21, which would be a PR at this distance. What's more, it was a negative split of at least 25 seconds. This was tough, but felt great. It validated that I am making solid VO2 max progress, as this lines up with a marathon predictor of 3:04.

With jello-legs from Saturday's hard workout, I fought through 17 yesterday at an "easy" 7:51 average pace. Historically, I have struggled with long runs the day after hard 5-10k races, so I was glad to complete this workout despite my fatigue.

I am feeling reinvigorated. I am confident that if I can nail the next three weeks' workouts that I will be in position to set a PR in Minnesota.

The debate I am having right now is what to do about this weekend's long run. The Pfitz calendar calls for 17 miles with 14 at goal pace. I also have the option to run this local 1/2 marathon on Sunday.

Whad'ya'll think? Is it better to race a half mary to see if I can redeem myself from my recent meltdown? Or is it better to focus on marathon pace mileage on a solo training run?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I cranked out 52 miles this week -- my biggest weekly mileage since the week of March 31st. Most importantly, I hit key runs of 12, 20 and 12 again today on the treadmill -- all with very solid training times in the 7:30-7:40 avg pace range. This range is in the ideal training zone for me of approx 40 secs slow than marathon goal pace.

I realize that infers my new goal pace is around 7:00, which I think is where to set the target at this point. For now, sub-3 will be set aside to Austin in February, for which I may hire an online coach. I need to be realistic seven weeks out in that running a PR would be a success.

As I reflect, it's been a fairly erratic few months of running as compared to my last two summers. When I say erratic, I do not mean my commitment is any less than the last two years, but my progress and results have been tested.

Yes, I am over last week's poor showing at the CDC, which saw me post a time nearly 9-10 minutes slower than each of the last two years. Not to mention the organizers making it harder on me by adding 0.17 miles to the course! Clearly, it was an abberation.

I suppose it's silly to fret in a 2008 that has seen me set six PR's in distances ranging from the 5k to the marathon. I experienced a couple of major life changes: (1) The wonderful blessing of my daughter and (2) Significantly increased responsibility in my career.

The last several weeks were a conscious efforts to re-build the endurance that I felt suffered when my mileage sunk to the low 30's. I've made great progress in this area. Now, my plan is get re-focused on hitting some speed and tempo mileage in the coming weeks.

I've got to travel back to Connecticut for work this week for three whole days. It does not stop my training, but it does create the need for some creative scheduling. Especially this week since there are a couple of work events in the evening.

I am feeling a sense of renewal. I am building some awesome momentum right now. I've identified a few local races over the course of the next several weeks that I may use to build up to a new marathon PR in Minnesota on October 5th, 2008.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mounting a Comeback

First, here is some strange news. Apparently, the Chicago Distance Classic course was too long. Race Director and Runner's World columnist extraordinairre John "the Penguin" Bingham 'fessed up that there was a measurement error in the 2008 course.

The course was 0.17 miles too long, as a result of the turning point was set out too far. This explains my 8:39 seventh mile. So maybe I ran a 1:37. Still 9 minutes behind where I think my conditioning is.

Second, something just wasn't right with me physically during the CDC. I mean I kill a 16 mile run at 7:10 average through the hills of Pittsburgh and I crash and burn on a half mary? I had flu-like symptoms all-day after the race and major bouts of fatigue. I've officially put in behind me.

I'm proud to report that I am mounting a monster comeback. I am still determined that I am capable of PR'ing in Twin Cities on October 5th.

After a easy recovery 4-miler on Tuesday night, I put up a strong 12 mile run on Wednesday morning.

More significantly, today, I killed a strong 20-miler and was in the office by 8:45 AM. That's right, 20-large on a early Friday morning to start the workday. Average pace was 7:34 with a final strong couple of miles. This was a HUGE lift.

I will reflect on the adversity from the CDC and proclaim these next 7 weeks as a monster comeback when I put up a PR in TCM. I am focused and determined.

These times are what make running such a great confidence builder and a positive life tool. Dealing with my running challenges, which actually can be invigorating, make my work issues seem easy.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

CDC Disaster

So, where do I even begin?

On Saturday, I felt only what I could describe as a deep fatigue. I was in bed multiple times on Saturday trying to catch naps. I can't explain it. I didn't want to do anything. We went to lunch at Panera and that was it. No chores. I didn't feel like mowing the lawn. I even found myself looking up mononucleosis on to see if that was a possibility.

I felt fine enough early Sunday morning. I drove down with a neighbor friend who was also running the race. The weather was truly perfect, which makes this story all the more frustrating.

The race start was jam packed. The first mile was a dodge 'em. No seeding meant slow people all over the front of the corral.

I ran 6:50's for the first four miles. However, all along, something just didn't feel right. I just felt zapped.

When I saw 7:08 on the 5th mile, I knew I was going to struggle mightily. I did not know I would barely be able to hold 8's toward the end of the race.

Although I somehow managed a 6:50 mile 6, I felt my body want to slow. Inexplicably, the 7th mile showed 8:39. I'm not sure how this happened, but that's what my watch said. I was exhausted. I just didn't have energy, it seemed. How I could I feel so tired on such a cool morning?

I rested on Saturday. I ran an easy six recovery pace on Friday. And I rested on Thursday prior to that. I should have been ready to go, right?

The rest of the way was a disappointing mix of miles in the 7:45-8:00 range, including a couple of walks at water stops. I couldn't race. I was spent. What had happened? Was I sick?

It was one of the most humbling experiences I have had in a long time. I wanted to quit mid-way, to be honest.

The point of a race is to give your best. For whatever reason, my body was unable to allow me to give my best on Sunday. End of story.

I've been considered a "glass half full" kind of guy, but I am struggling to come up with positives on this one. Some days are better than others. And some days you shouldn't even get out of bed.

When I finally crossed, my watch said 1:38:35. Worse yet, the results posted later showed me at 1:39+. Go figure - even my watch was slow on this day. It doesn't matter.

I spent more time on the couch in the evening on Sunday. I went to bed early hoping I would feel better and regain some energy.

I don't have much more to say about this disappointing day. I need to put it behind me.

It does not matter what happened yesterday. What matters is how I respond. I need to figure out how to get rested up and recovered. Then I will decide how I will bounce back.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Progress and Prep for the CDC

This past weekend, we visited my in-laws in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. On Sunday, my daughter, Alivia, was baptized.

Last week's mileage total was moderately light at 38 miles. However, it included a sweet 16-mile run on Saturday in the 'Burgh. I met up with my good friends, Aaron and Steve, to run the Peters Township trail.

I wanted to get in some pace miles, as is scheduled at this point with the Pfitz plan. For now, I decided a reasonable goal marathon pace for which to strive is in the 7:00-7:05 range.

The Peters trail has a steady grade for much of the trail in one direction. So you'll see slower miles in the front - and faster miles on the return. There was an add-on out-and-back leg in the middle that also had some relatively steady descent/ascent. This was a very good run, with an overall avg pace of 7:11. Great stuff given the humidity and all the hills.

For this week, I will be again slightly light in mileage to ease up for my race. I will be running the Chicago Distance Classic on Sunday for the third year in a row. It is the most popular half marathon to prep for the Chicago Marathon. I hope another PR is in the making.

Did I do enough tempo work to finally achieve sub-1:28? Or even sub-1:29? It largely will depend on the weather. Last year was brutally hot, but the forecast looks good at this point.

Tonight, I banged out a really solid 11.5 miler after work at 5:30 PM. I felt pretty strong and avg'd 7:29, with a really strong finish. It's always nice to nail double-digit milers mid-week. It was good thing I hit it this evening, too, because I was upset with myself for missing out on a perfect morning of weather to run.

I will now mostly rest and do some light recovery mileage before the race on Sunday.

8.5 weeks until Twin Cities...