Friday, September 26, 2008

Nine days to Twin Cities

[Drafted Thurs, 9/25/08]

It’s been a solid week and a half since I have posted last. Shortly after my strong 20-miler a week ago Sunday, I encountered a dental issue that caused me some pain and loss of sleep for a few nights. I’ve never suffered migraines before, but I am guessing I know what they feel like now.

So I suffered through a root canal last week and a pretty annoying post-surgical infection, which caused two days of missed work. Note to self: Don’t take Vicadin in mid-afternoon and expect to run or work! So I’m now popping antibiotics 3x per day and back on the running track.

Despite the setback, I hit most of the planned 39 miles last week, although I did have to cut out a 5-mile recovery run on doctor’s orders. I ran a decent 17-miler on Sat, which is one more mile than planned – and a steady 6-miler on Sunday, of which four miles were at tempo pace (6:39). (I have to mention that I went to Wrigley after my 17-miler and saw the Cubbies clinch!)

I am becoming excited about the upcoming TC marathon. Although the mystique of the taper is beginning to weigh on me, I feel comfortable about where I stand.

I should complete this week’s 32 miles as planned without any issue. On Tuesday night, I did mile repeats on the treadmill and hit all three of them at in my target 5k pace range of 6:03-6:07.

I am on a flight back to Chicago now from Baltimore now. I had to push today’s run to tomorrow due to schedule challenges. Starting tomorrow, I look forward to runs of 7 G.A, 5 Recovery and 12 easy on Fri, Sat and Sun respectively to round out my week. Then we enter the final week up until the race.

As always, I will think positively and maintain the confidence that I am in PR shape. Accidentally and perhaps fortunately, my weight has come down the last few days to that magic 167-169 race wt range. We’ll see if it holds for another 9 days. One potential obstacle is a recruiting event that I will attend for my company at Michigan State next week , my alma mater. I know I may want to hit my old favorite food & beer joints right before the race. Willpower!

I will be gunning for a 3:05 in Twin Cities if the conditions hold. Then we’ll talk about how to shave further for Austin in February.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Final 20-miler of cycle - 20 days til TCM

Last night was rough for a strange reason. I'm resigned to the fact that I desperately need a root canal. The pain was substantial enough that I was sleepless most of the night. Dental woes aside, I am determined to put up a PR in the Twin Cities on October 5th.

I have officially entered the three-week taper period for the TCM. This weekend, a significant portion of the country was feeling the effects of Hurricane Ike, as it broke down and made its way north to the Midwest. Chicago was hammered hard with rains over the weekend, which put my Sunday 20-miler in serious doubt.

At about 4pm, I saw the rains subside and decided to have a go at my most important training run of this cycle. I wanted run 7:20's most of the way and finish strong.

As I headed south in my town toward the river, I witnessed flooding all around the downtown Plainfield vicinity. I passed a great number of onlookers who were marveling at the flood damage and the terrible impact it had on a number of houses.

The run went pretty much as planned and I felt reasonably strong. However, I could not have predicted how I would finish.

I absolutely blazed my final three miles at paces that I could not believe. Clearly, the speed work has begun to pay dividends. I banged out a 6:53, 6:40 and 6:18 in miles 18-20. This is a great sign. If I can run 7:15-7:20 solo for 15 and nail the final three with such intensity, I know I can put up 3:05-3:07.

This training cycle has been an interesting one. I tried out the FIRST program - and abandoned it. I have slept less and worked more. I have been a Dad.

I nailed my 50-week plan. I ran an even 150 miles over the past three weeks.

Tonight, with limited food in the house and no desire to grocery shop, we celebrated with Chili’s take-out. Man, did I crush a mushroom & Swiss burger -- AND the fries. And maybe a couple of beers. Now, if I could only get my eating habits under control…

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Counting down to Twin Cities

I read just a moment ago that Lance Armstrong is planning a comeback. He will seek his 8th Tour De France title. Isn't this hugely exciting?

I achieved my goal of hitting 61 miles last week. This was a great week for me. This include the half marathon on Monday, speed work on Wednesday and some solid tempo mileage on Saturday. All was capped off was a steady 18-miler at Waterfall Glen on Sunday at 7:45 avg pace.

I have an even 50 miles planned for this week. I started out with six recovery this morning, which was absolutely glorious by the way. I felt God looking down upon me as the sun slowly rose and peaked through the horizon over the Village of Plainfield, IL.

I have 4x1200m repeats on tomorrow's scheduled run, which is supposed to total 10 miles. I am hoping to pull this off before heading to the airport for a flight to Atlanta.

This coming Sunday's 20-miler is the most critical of the entire training cycle. I need to prove to myself that I am in PR marathon shape. I think I am there. Mentally, I am there, anyway.

I can overcome some mediocre race performances with this strong run. I know I can run a sub 3:07 in Minnesota next month.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Training Update -- Oak Brook Half Marathon

I am still on track for Twin Cities on October 5th. It's been an interesting summer of training. I feel really busy with work and fatherhood. The fact that I am still on track is an accomplishment.

At the last minute on this past Saturday, I decided to enter the Oak Brook Half Marathon, which took place on Labor Day Monday. This caused me to adjust my schedule and sacrifice my planned Sunday 17-miler for Monday's race.

In total, I ran 39 miles last week, with the plan to get up to 60 this week.

On Monday, I arrived at the OB Half in what should have been plenty of time. However, the pre-race organization was poor. There were hundreds of us in line that needed to pick our race packets and then our chips. Organizers clearly did not anticipate such large numbers.

The crowds and disorganization forced the start time back 15 minutes to 7:15. Even this delay was not enough, since there were not enough port-0-cans. I made a concious decision to not start the race without using the can. That would have been a mistake. The guns went off as dozens of us were still in line for the port-a-potty.

I started the race nearly 5 minutes after the gun sounded. I was damn near dead last crossing the start line. This made for a challenging first several miles. Most of the early part of the course was run through a park with paths only maybe 8 feet in width.

I had several stints of slowing down due to being boxed in behind groups. Not to mention the thrusts of acceleration that used whenever openings were there that taxed me. This made pacing and energy conservation tough.

As for my result, if there would have been a prize for passing the most runners, I am pretty confident I would have won it. I finished in 57th place out of 1200 finishers. Yep, I estimate I passed about 1,150 people. Not trying to sound bragadocious, but this made for a challenging race experience.

My finish time of 1:31:09 was not where I would have wanted to be. In consolation, it beat the hell out of my last half marathon! But it just was not feasible to run a PR. Also, I ran 11 miles on Saturday night - and admittedly drank a little too much beer at the neighborhood party afterward and spent much of Sunday in recovery mode, if you catch my drift. Not the best way to prepare for a 1/2 mary.

Today I put in a solid 8-miler at lunch. I plan to knock out a 12-miler with some speed intervals 5x600m tomorrow.

Keeping eye on prize, I will still target that 3:05-3:07 range on Oct 5th. I realize that I didn't put up a half that would line up with that time. It's no matter, because I know when rested and prepared, I am in great long run shape.

My final 20-miler will be my best indicator. That run will be one week from this Sunday. If I can hold pace of 7:05'ish for the majority of that 20-miler, I will feel confident it is a reasonable goal.