Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Getting back on track toward sub-3

With recovery over from San Fran, I am back to following Pfitizinger's up to 70 mpw plan.

Last week on Monday night, I wasn't feeling so hot. I was on business travel to our HQ in Connecticut attending a dinner with colleagues, when I had to excuse myself. I felt suddenly very sick. I ended up leaving dinner right as the entrees were being served and headed to the hotel.

I don't know what hit me but it carried over a couple of days. I didn't miss any work, but I did miss last Tuesday's 10-miler. I felt extremely fatigued and had bouts of diarrhea.

On Wednesday, I was back home, had a great night sleep and ventured out on an 11-miler. I struggled through the back half. I felt weak and had a couple of brief rest stops. Having no choice but to finish the run (I took myself far out from the house), I dropped back to 8:30's.

Whatever bug I caught worked its way out of my system by Thursday. Fortunately, I resurrected myself later in the week on Friday when I nailed a pretty solid tempo run.

This week brings a test: Escalate to 70 miles. This week has three core runs out of the six. Today brought a 15-miler, which I completed pretty strongly. Friday brings a 12 miler with 7 at tempo and then Sunday brings a whopper at 22 miles. I have run 25 miles in the last 36 hrs and am right on track so far.

I am headed to Miami this afternoon for work. I am hoping the Airport Hilton has an A/C'd fitness room so I can nail the 6:25-6:30/mi tempo miles needed.

Seven weeks until Chicago.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hungry for a sub-3 at Chicago

I am near recovery from my race in San Francisco and motivated to prepare for Chicago. I have nine weeks to get ready for what I hope will be my strongest race performance of the year.

I have been browsing the forum string called "Goal of sub-3 marathon". It's obviously a popular topic as it was initiated back nearly 1 year ago and has 133 pages of replies. I have found some inspiration as I read of others who are chasing and have nailed the sub-3 goal.

Yes, I achieved it earlier this year. But I want to do it again. I am feeling hungry after struggling in San Fran. Chicago is flat. Austin, Boston and San Fran all have substantial elevation changes.

As I write this at 7:03 PM local time, it's 87 degrees at 71% humidity, which makes it a "feels like" of 98. These conditions make it tough to nail long runs - even before 7 AM. Today was a prime example. I met up with my group and cut my run short so I could finish up inside on my treadmill. I was dying out there this morning.

I proved to myself this past winter during my Austin cycle that treadmill training is far more effective than dealing with poor weather elements. I set a PR with 90% of my mileage on the belt.

Today was the end of my final comeback week after San Fran. I nailed 50 miles and feel like I am ready to step back into Pfitz's 70mpw plan. I will follow this plan as closely as I can for the next nine weeks.

Up next: The Half Madness 1/2 Marathon, in which I hope to put up a 1:25 or better. I have a lot of work to do in the next 4 weeks to make this possible. It's a lofty goal, but I am going to go for it.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Lovin' the Bay area -- San Fran Marathon recap

Jen and I are back in the Chicago area after a wonderful jaunt in San Francisco and the Napa Valley wine country this past week. We had a memorable time touring the entire area. Some highlights:

We toured five different wineries and tasted countless delectable varietals of wines. (It pays to be in the industry.)

We saw Adam Duritz and the Counting Crows, one of my favorite bands, perform at the Greek Theater in Berkeley on UC's campus- after spending the day touring that interesting town. What a great show and a great venue.

We saw beautiful scenery in both rural and city settings - including breathtaking views of San Francisco from various angles; not to mention beautiful views of wine country from atop Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga, CA.

We stayed in a fabulous spa/hotel on Bodega Bay, which is a quaint little out-of-the way bayside town to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. We even rode horses on the beach looking out into the bay.

We saw all the major landmarks in the city. (The one disappointment was that the Alcatraz tours were sold out for the entire 7 days we were in the area.)

We saw the comedian John Heffron (Last Comic Standing champ) and laughed our butts off.

Oh, you asked about the marathon? I almost forgot!

Well, I finished in a respectable time of 3:06 after putting up a 4 1/2 min positive split.

I finished in 86th place out of 5093 in the total field. You can see my splits (which are quite jumbled due to missing mile markers) and further race finish details here.

The hills caught up with me late. The Golden Gate bridge out-and-back (miles 6-9) was the steadiest, longest up and down and, while I didn't know it at the time, it may have been my undoing. Unfortunately, the damn fog prevented any reasonable view of the city.

Tack on mile 10 right after the bridge which was a killer, steep downhill. I ran it in 6:28, which shredded my quads, then I had to pound back uphill on 11. Though the hills varied in size/grade, it seemingly was an unending cycle.

When a well-intentioned spectator tells you "it's all downhill from here" at mile 20, he or she is not telling you the whole story. While the total elevation change is downhill, there are still numerous ups and downs. I was slipping into the 7:30+ pace range the last few as I clung on for dear life.

I said I'd be surprised if I didn't put up a 3:05 or better and I came up short, so, there you have it... I am a bit surprised -- especially after a 1:31 first half! Nevertheless, it goes to show how the hills can zap you if you are not trained for them, which I simply couldn't do enough of where I live.

Anyway, that's three marathons down in 2009 and one to go. Here are my two remaining major goals for this year:

1. Put up a new PR for the half marathon on September 6th (

2. Break 3:00 again at Chicago on October 11th. I feel the need to tear up a flat course after San Fran and Boston on the last two!