Monday, October 20, 2014

3 Year Runniversary

On October 21st, 2011 I decided to go for a run with Jennifer. That year I started my quest to get healthier and had been working out and building up cardio on a stationary bike for a couple of months. I figured I could handle a few miles given that I would bike for 90+ minutes at a time. I was soon proven wrong as I had to stop every hundred yards or so and catch my breath. Jennifer loves to rub that day in my face, but I kept at it. I soon developed a case of tendonitis from trying to do too much too soon. I had to re-learn what I knew about running since this wasn't high school track anymore. It wouldn't be until December until I started to run regularly.

I had initially decided that running was just going to be for me to get my weight under control and get healthier. I later reluctantly signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle. Once I ran that I became hooked and it's been race after race ever since. I conquered my first half marathon in June 2012 and then my first marathon in October 2013. I feel like I've accomplished so much in these first 3 years and yet I'm just getting started.

5K - 
First - Race to Wrigley April 2012   24:24
PR - Urban Hoedown August 2014  21:05
Number Run:14

8K -
First - Shamrock Shuffle March 2012   42:19
PR - Bastille Day             July 2014      36:36
Number Run: 6

10K - 
First - United Run for Zoo June 2012   52:43
PR - United Run for Zoo   June 2013   47:00
Number Run: 8

Half Marathon
First - Allstate 13.1 June 2012            2:13:03
PR - Chicago Half September 2014    1:40:54
Number Run:21

Marathon
First - Chicago Oct 2013  4:26:32
PR -   Chicago Oct 2014  3:49:51
Number Run: 2

I have 3 more marathons to run in the next 3 months so that number is definitely going to go up. I'm going to need to find a decent 10K soon just because I know I'm faster than my PR now by a longshot. I ran around 46 minutes for the last 10K of the Chicago Half so that is a sort of PR right? I really just have 2 goals I'd like to achieve in my 4th year of running - get my marathon time down to 3:30 and my 5K time below 20. Neither is going to be easy. I'm going to have to dig in and probably start eating better to lose a little more weight. I'm down 25 lbs in these 3 years, but am still about 25 lbs above normal for my height and that makes a huge difference when it comes to running performance. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Recovery Week

I was surprised with my resilience this week. I came out of the marathon less sore than I thought I would be. It probably helped that I didn't run it at the speed that I had intended so that put a little less stress on the legs, but 26.2 miles is still 26.2 miles. The amount of soreness was on par with doing a 20 mile training run and then following that up the next day with lunges and squats. Yes, I totally did that this summer and yes it did leave me sore for a few days, but wasn't unbearable.

I kept the runs mostly easy all week.  This was a struggle since my legs didn't want to slow down enough and my heart rate monitor kept flaking out in the cold so I couldn't tell if I was running with an easy enough effort even though it felt easy. Running by feel can lie, your heart rate never does. While I seemed to have a slightly elevated heart rate all week, which is to be expected, it wasn't too bad. I even felt good enough to throw in some 400m intervals at 10k pace on Wednesday. Only a few though since I didn't want to over do things.

Mon - 2.3 miles
Tue - 4.05
Wed - 3.75 (6x400m)
Thu - 2.3
Fri - 1.52
Sat - 5.06
Sun - 5.08

Total - 24.8 miles

I've got 2 more weeks until I repeat the madness in NYC. The early forecast calls for wind and rain with temps in the low 50s. I can do without the wind, but the temperature sounds great. I've got a secret mission to try and complete before NYC though. You'll hear more next weekend.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Post Chicago Marathon Thoughts



I’ve had a few days now to reflect on the 2014 edition of the Chicago Marathon.  It was my 2nd time running it and my 2nd marathon ever.  Initially I was a little disappointed in having a less than optimal day, but as I reflect there is a lot of positive to be taken from the experience.


  • I finished over 36 minutes faster than my first marathon ON A BAD DAY! That’s a testament to what kind of fitness I’ve worked myself into this summer
  • I was able to keep to a training schedule for the full 18 weeks and ran every single day.
  • I logged over 200 more miles that I did training for the first marathon.
  •  My training averaged 40 miles per week for the first 16 weeks of the plan. Before this year I had only run 40+ miles in a week once.
  • I never felt like I hit a wall during the race, perhaps just a big slope. I faded a bit from 30K to 40k, but not as dramatically as last year.
  • I surged from 40k to the finish. My pace picked up to the same levels that I was at early in the race
  • From the top of Mount Roosevelt into the finish line I was able to run at a sub 7 min/mile pace. That’s 5K speed for me at the end of a grueling run.
  • My half splits were 1:50:01 and 1:59:50. In the past on bad days I would have been round 2 hours or more, so to have back to back halfs like this is fantastic.
  • I have 2 more chances to redeem myself. I feel like a mad genius being able to take a 2nd crack at the marathon so soon.  Most would just call me mad. I have my pick of either going for broke in NYC or Las Vegas. NYC will likely been a wait and see how I feel run especially since I’m in the 3rd wave and will likely be dealing with crowds. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to use it as a training run so that I can kick some butt in Vegas along with Mo.


It may be hard at times, but don’t let a bad race get you down. Think of it as a learning experience. It took me a couple days to digest what happened and turn the negative thoughts around, but now I’m ready to go out and tackle the next challenge.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2014 Chicago Marathon Recap

The 2014 edition of the Chicago Marathon was my 2nd attempt at the race as well as just my 2nd marathon ever. It's hard to put into words everything that occurred since there was so much good and bad leading up to and through the race. I made the best out of everything and am still happy with the results. I know I can still do better and will be tackling the distance again in less than 3 weeks in NYC.

Monday - Wound up getting a root canal.  This left me unable to eat most the day and sore for several more. Over night on Monday a construction crew power washed the building across the street from me from 10PM until 6AM. The noise rattled my windows and I barely slept.

Tueday - Spent the day going back and forth with the construction company, the alderman's office, and the department of transportation over the night time noise issues.  It is agreed that the power washing would occur from 9AM to 4PM. I'm a walking zombie by this point and I never make good food decisions when exhausted.

Wednesday - The noise started up at 7AM. After more back and forth it is found that the permit was issued in error for the wrong time. Fines were threatened, but never issued.

Thursday - Uneventful - yay!

Friday - Up earlier than normal for an 8AM dentist appointment to have my crown put in. Not as numb this time so I can eat sooner. Went to expo with Jennifer and spent a lot of time on my feet. Was pretty exhausted but still met up with R/iver R/unners for pizza, beer, and sign making. I stayed up too late and had too much to drink. Oops. At least I had fun.

Saturday - Was a lazy bum all day just trying to keep relaxed. Multiple naps were had. I think I ate too much pizza.

Sunday - Race day! I was up at 4AM and made it down to the start area obscenely early.  Had no problems getting through gear check and using the facilities. I camped out in a spot where the wind was blocked and just chilled. I finally dropped my bag at gear check and used the facilities one more time before heading to the corral. It was around here that I didn't feel quite right.  It was like I had to use the restroom but couldn't go.



Soon the race started and we were off. I had trained to run by heart rate, but I wasn't getting a good reading from my HRM. It showed that my HR was far higher than it should be, like I was running a 5K. I was still breathing and running easy so I knew it was off. I'd have to run by feel. Speaking of, it felt like my stomach was starting to twist into knots.  The first mile was a touch fast, but I evened it out with slower miles 2 and 3.  I hit the first 5K mark about 19 seconds slower than I had targeted.



The next 5K I started to realize that the race was going to be a grind. I was not finding a groove and the knots in the stomach were not going to settle. I ever so slightly picked up the pace, but was running slower than I had planned. Just past the 10K mark I spotted a friend who had made a sign for me. I wound up giving out several high 5s and wound up with my fastest mile of the day. I soon settle back into the pace I was assigned for the day and kept chugging along. Around mile 8 the negative thoughts creeped in. This wasn't my day. I could just pull out and save my legs. I was too stubborn though and kept going. I spotted Jennifer outside her place near the 15K mark. My 5K splits are pretty consistent so far. The fast mile put this one just a few seconds ahead of the others.

The trek from 15K to 20K took us back towards the loop. Unfortunately Elvis was singing a slow song as I passed him in Oldtown. I was hoping for a bit of a pick me up. It's now harder for me to take in fluids. After each aid station I have to fight the urge to bring the fluids back up as the stomach is not happy. I feel a bit claustrophobic running through downtown again as the spectators have invaded the street and all the runners get squeezed together. I feel better once we make the turn to head west. I hit the halfway point in 1:50:01 which put me on pace for a time that would of made me happy. I knew I wasn't going to hit 3:40 though since up to this point I had never fell into my stride and it was starting to show. I had burned through a lot of energy running inefficiently through the first half. It sucked not being able to get into proper posture and use my core the way I trained to.

I kept along from the halfway point until mile 16 or so before the legs started to get heavy. My pace slowed slightly, but I was still doing OK. I decided to use the restroom just before mile 18 and it relieved the strain on my kidneys, but not the stomach. I kept trucking until around mile 20. From here I started to take longer walking breaks through the aid stations. It was necessary to make sure I could get fluids and some nutrients without being sick.  I had missed the 2 beer aid stations due to being on the wrong side of the street. I'm sure the carbonation would of helped the stomach.

Once I hit the 40K mark I knew the end was near. I still had an outside shot of breaking 3:50, which was 10 minutes slower than the original goal, but still quite the achievement. I found a 2nd wind and started cruising again. I skipped the last aid station since it was too little too late by that point. I actually clocked an 8:30 mile from markers 25 to 26. When I saw the 800m sign I went charging.  This proved to be a mistake as I crashed hard halfway up Mt Roosevelt. My heart was ready to burst from my chest. I walked the rest of the way up the hill and saw I still had about a minute to hit sub 3:50. I went back into a run with all I had left. Nearing the line I saw I had time to spare and let off the gas slightly and crossed in 3:49:51.  The finisher's chute wasn't moving fast enough for me. My legs were still working surprisingly. I finally got my medal and water and whatnot and finally made it to get my beer. I savored it as I went and collected my gear bag.

I made my way to the post race finish area and found a clear spot of grass, put my space blanket down and just laid there for a couple minutes. I then changed into a dry shirt and got my stuff in order before catching up on social media.  I checked the tracker and saw how my friends were doing. I saw some others had finished and let them know where I was, but they all had different plans. After awhile I was starting to get sunburned so I packed up and headed home. I joked with a fellow runner getting off the EL that the real test started with descending the stairs. I kind of felt bad as I went down relatively normally without even using the hand rail while he tried to figure out which way to turn so it hurt less.

The post race time has been spent wondering what could have been.  I improved my time from last year by over 36 minutes, but I'm still left wondering what could of been had I not had the stomach problems.  I'm still really proud of the achievement and know another PR will be coming soon.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Marathon Training Week 17

For the first time in a long time I had a week where life just got in the way. You know I'm a little thrown off when I wake up and run before work on 2 different days just to get runs in.  I'm not too worried about it since we are in the tapering stages of training and there is no additional fitness to be gained.  It just means I ran 20 miles this week instead of the planned 30ish.  The important thing is that I remain injury free and ready to run this coming Sunday.  I'm having some dental work done this week so hopefully that doesn't derail the carbo loading too much.

Mon - 2.32
Tue - 1.27
Wed - 4.03
Thu - 4.3
Fri - 2.23
Sat - 3.77
Sun - 2.26

Weekly - 20.2

I did finish September with 202.5 miles as my 2nd highest monthly total ever.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Marathon Training Week 16

Week 1 of the taper went pretty much as planned. I met up with Anne, Mo, and Pete on Tuesday for a nice and easy jaunt through Half Day Forest Preserve and followed that up with the Wurst victory ever at the Beer Market. We won a gift card so I guess that means we have to go back at some point.

Wednesday night was a return to the track. I was a bit nervous since I had promised one of the Redditors that I would pace her through an 8x800m workout. One of the guys decided he wanted to try it along with us. I told Kelly I would try and keep our splits around 3:20 which is about what I did when I did the same workout a month ago. I started the first interval a bit too fast and the guy let me know so I reigned it in a bit and we completed it in 3:23 which was close enough since I was straddling lane 2 and 3 meaning I ran an extra 15 meters or so compared to the others on the inside. The next interval was at 3:21 and I was locked in from there on out.  The guy dropped out after the 2nd one, but Kelly kept right with me.  She had never done more than a 6x800m in the past so this was pushing it for her.  I felt oddly calm and relaxed during the intervals. They were tough, but not as tough as I thought they should be. I can tell my fitness is still improving. I could have probably gone a little faster, but didn't want to lose Kelly.  We finished our last interval with a fun sprint down the straightaway and a 3:18 split that was the fastest of the night. Kelly complimented my pacing and said I should pace her during the marathon. I told her I have no idea how I'm going to pace myself. I still don't know how I'm going to run and will just do it by feel. I should land somewhere between 3:30 and 3:45 which is such a huge span.

Friday and Saturday I found myself completely drained. I had such a hard time dragging myself out the door to even run. I just hoped I wasn't getting sick. Sunday was a bit better and so I headed out.  There was a charity walk going on right where I started my run so I started at a faster clip to just get clear of them. They were not nice at all and mocked me when I asked to pass on the left. I was just a little pissed and decided to let it ride for the rest of my run... all 14.5 miles.  I made sure to stay a little slower than marathon effort, but it was nice to open the throttle a bit and get a preview of what things will be like. I wound up averaging 8:38 min/mile for the run.

Mon - 2.31
Tues - 4.18
Wed - 6.66
Thu - 3.57
Fri - 5.44
Sat - 7.53
Sun - 14.19

Week - 44.2
Month - 198.94

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Marathon Training Week 15

This afternoon I wrapped up my highest mileage week ever.  It's now 3 weeks until the marathon and time to begin the taper madness.  The goal now is to stay sharp, not gain weight, and stay injury free while restoring the freshness to my battered legs.  The 114 miles I've run over the last 2 weeks is certainly my most intense stretch of running ever and I'm feeling it.

I did actually race a 5K this week, or really I just ran and tried to hold on at a decent speed while my legs asked why I was being crazy.  It was the Oktoberfest 5K which didn't have quite the turnout of Wurst Running Club Ever that I was hoping for, but a good showing from the /r/RunnersInChicago track night group made it a fun night.  Lynton was pacing a friend to a PR and kept near enough that I was able to use him as an anchor to keep from completely dropping pace.  I did actually run a fast first mile clocking in at 6:41 including the first 90 seconds at a current pace under 6:00 min/mile until slowing down to the 7:00 min/mile range.  I cruised to the finish in 21:32 which is my 2nd fastest 5K race.  Not bad considering I had no business running fast on the tired legs I had.  There were several PRs that night among the Redditors so it shows that Track Night is really paying off.

I never backed down after the 5K logging 7, 10, and 20 mile days to close out the week.  The 10 mile run was pretty bad.  My heart kept racing and knew that my body was completely fatigued.  I survived and rested and loaded up on calories and hydrated the rest of the day.  Today's 20 miler started bad.  There was a charity walk going through my start point and I just wanted to get past them.  My heart rate was picking up too fast which was a bad sign.  After a mile or so I finally relaxed and settled into a groove and got the heart rate down. I had to peel a few layers off as it got warmer than I thought it would and I was sweating heavily.  I felt better after than and cruised on down the lakefront until I hit another walk just before McCormick.  I also hit this same walk later when I was going north and they would not yield an inch of the path.  So frustrating.  Anywho I made it down to 10 miles and was starting to feel the fatigue.  I had no choice but to turn around and keep at it though.  I was hit hard by the wind after turning around and it was a fight all the way back.  I chose to start using run/walk intervals in order to keep the effort down.  I didn't want to start breaking down muscle for fuel just to finish a training run. I finished with an overall pace that matched my marathon pace from last year in spite of intentionally keeping the effort down which is encouraging.

Mon - 6.77
Tue - 7.21
Wed - 4.5
Thu - 1.4 WU + 5K (21:32)
Fri - 7.08
Sat - 10.05
Sun - 20.01
Week: 60.13
Month: 154.75

Miles through Week 15 - 596
Miles through Week 15 in 2013 - 400

If it wasn't evident before, I completely smashed the training that I did for the marathon last year.  I've been fortunate enough to stay healthy and have seen huge performance improvements in my shorter races.  I'm hoping this translates to big things come race day.