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.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Marathon Training Week 14

It seems like the weeks just keep flying by.  We've just got one more week of higher mileage until I can wind down and start the taper.  This week was a return to normal after going easy last week in preparation for the half marathon.  I was sore early in the week and so took things a bit easy.  I was able to shake off the rest of the soreness Wednesday night doing 800m intervals with the Redditors again.  I took things a bit easy keeping it around 10K pace before busting out a sub-5K effort for the final interval to finish strong.

On Thursday I went to the launch party for Runner's World since I'm actually in the magazine!  The group that I run the track with on Wednesdays also known as 606 R/iver R/unners or r/RunnersInChicago were featured as part of an article on Run This City: Chicago.  A photographer was sent out to take pictures of us a month or so ago and we felt silly and he felt silly since he knew nothing about running, but we got a great shot of the group.  We've grown since then and hopefully will continue to grow.  Who doesn't love speedwork followed by a few pints?

I'm in back in orange
For the weekend I got a little lazy and did my runs later in the afternoon, but it didn't matter since the cooler temps meant that the runs were still pretty awesome and I didn't completely sweat through all my clothes for once.

Mon - 2.33
Tue - 5.18
Wed - 5.47 (5x800 @ 10K pace)
Thu - 6.15
Fri - 6.25
Sat - 10.07
Sun - 18.05 (Last 9 at just under marathon effort)
Weekly Mileage - 53.6
Monthly Mileage - 94.42

Monday, September 8, 2014

Marathon Training Week 13

Yet another week of training is in the books.  I cut back my mileage a bit this week in order to a semi taper for the Chicago Half on Sunday.  I wanted a strong performance, but didn't want to sacrifice all the work towards the marathon.  I realized by the time Saturday rolled around that I was more tired than I thought.  I guess poor sleep during the week and the huge August in terms of mileage may have caught up to me a bit.  I still managed to rock the race on Sunday while knocking over 8 minutes off my previous half PR.

The other thing I did this week was take the lead at track night with the Redditors.  They decided to change things up and try out the 800 meter interval workout that I normally do.  I tried to explain some of the basic fundamentals of my training mentality and how the 800 intervals should work.  We then got going and I led the front pack as the group broke into packs of 2 different speeds.  I took the first 4 intervals relatively easy trying to make sure not to lose anyone.  On the last interval I picked up the pace and challenged the leaders to keep up and finish strong.  It wound up being a great shake out day as most the intervals were just a touch faster than my half marathon pace until that last one.

Mon - 2.29
Tue - 4.68
Wed - 5.4 (5x800m)
Thu - 6.1
Fri - 5.03
Sat - 4.09
Sun - 13.1
Weekly Total: 40.7 miles
Miles through week 13: 482.24
Weekly Average: 37.1

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chicago Half Marathon

Today was my 3rd time running the Chicago Half marathon.  I first ran it in 2012 as I broke 2 hours in the half for the first time clearing the bar in my 2nd attempt.  I had originally not planned to run the race this year trying to put more focus on my marathon training, but wound up snagging a deeply discounted entry during the registration blitz and decided to keep tradition alive.

I was a bit nervous all week leading up to the race.  I knew my recent performance numbers were pointing towards a big PR for me, but it still seemed unfathomable that I could accomplish such a feat.  I also worried that I wasn't 100% fresh which was true since I ran my first 20 mile training run last Sunday as part of a 52 mile week and still put in 41 miles this week including the race. When I got home from the race expo on Saturday I realized I was pretty fatigued which wasn't a good sign. I still managed to meet my social commitment on Saturday evening and went to my friends' wedding party.  Luckily it was a low key affair that ended before 7.  I was so tired that I hit the pillow at 9:30 which is unheard of for me.

Race morning I slowly gathered myself and got ready.  I wasn't in any hurry and my stomach made sure that I wasn't racing out the door either.  I noticed I has 4 missed texts from Jennifer letting me know she was outside and ready.  I wasn't even dressed yet, oops.  I threw myself together finally and out the door I went.  I realized once I got to the race that I had forgot my phone.  Oh well, there are worse things, but it meant social media blackout and a coordinated plan on where to meet after the race.  After a picture with Natali and 2 more trips to the rest room I made my way to the start corral.

Once in the corral I started to relax and just wanted the race to start.  I happened to spy my friend Allison saying her good byes to her BF before they split for the race and was soon joined by one of the Redittor track night guys who decided to start the race with me.  He told me his goal was to start easy and then run down the 1:45 pace group. I agreed and said that sounded like a good idea.  I didn't widely share my race goals before the race, but 1:45 was the first goal (representing a pretty big 4 minute PR) with additional goals at 1:42 and 1:39.  After the national anthem we were sent off all at once rendering the corrals pretty much useless.

The first mile was slogging along.  I had signed up with a 1:55 estimated pace which was a huge mistake so I was back further than I would of liked.  I tried to resist the urge to weave too much since it would just burn energy that I needed later.  The slow pace allowed me to slowly warm up, but I started to get anxious.  The first mile was by far my slowest of the day at 8:28.  During mile 2 a little bit of space opened up, but not much and so this one took my 8:07.

It wasn't until the 3rd mile when nearly to Lake Shore Drive that I started to finally get some room.  It also helped that I skipped a water station that was slightly out of my way in order to take a straight shot up a ramp.  I was finally starting to settle in and hit 7:58.

Miles 4-9 I was completely locked in and just running my race.  I knew where I wanted to keep my effort levels and was able to stay there.  I caught up to the 1:45 pace group at mile 6 and passed them at the 10K mark.  I knew at that point that I was in great shape since I wasn't even pushing yet.  The miles were just ticking off with consistency - 7:38, 7:33, 7:40, 7:37, 7:36, 7:37

Finally after the turnaround I decided it was time to start pushing the effort.  I knew the extra slow start had cost me, but if I made up a little time I could possibly flirt with 1:40.  I also made the decision not to hit any more aid stations after mile 9 1/4ish.  I was going to treat the rest of the race like a 5K and just ride the discomfort to the finish.  I dug in and ran miles 10 and 11 in 7:17 and 7:18 respectively.  The harder pace and the rising temperatures and exposure to the sun started to wear on me a little.  I fought with my heavy legs to keep up the fight and ran 12 and 13 in 7:25 and 7:23.  I finished the final tenth of a mile at a 7:05 pace.  Even with that struggle the final 5K of the half clocks in at 22:47 which would be my 4th fastest 5K time in a race.  Final time: 1:40:54.

There was some disappointment that I didn't break 1:40, but I know I can do it and gives me something to shoot for next time.  I was still completely thrilled to have improved my half PR from 1:49:03 to 1:40:54.  I can only attribute that monster gain to all the miles I've done for marathon training.  I've been better disciplined this year and stuck to a plan and its paying off.  The next question is how well can I do for the marathon? My initial goal was just to break 4 hours.  It looks like I might be able to accomplish that and so much more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

100 Days

Runner's World had presented one of their routine challenges earlier this year.  It was to do a run streak from Memorial Day until the 4th of July.  That was a span of 40 days.  I decided I wanted to give the challenge a try since I had previously completed a 40 day streak and thought it might be nice to do it again.

My streak actually began with the Soldier Field 10 Mile race 2 days prior to Memorial Day.  I was just diagnosed with post-tibial tendonitis and had begun treatment.  Most of my early runs were short and easy.  A few days were just minimal 1 mile jogs on the treadmill, but not many.  Other easy days were jogs to my PT session and then back home.  As I got stronger the runs got longer and I soon approached the 4th of July.

After the 4th of July I thought to myself that I had made it this far, why not keep going and go I did.  I have run day in and day out.  I have skipped post work drinking with coworkers and woken up early on other mornings to just get runs in.  I haven't let traveling or races interfere yet either.  This past Sunday I finally hit the 100th day of the streak.  I hit several other milestones the same day such as passing 200 miles for August and my first 20 mile run of the training cycle.  Most telling of all is that I passed 500 miles running in those 100 days meaning I averaged 5 miles per day.

The streak is still going strong.  I haven't decided if or when I will end it.  Things will get more difficult coming up as I travel for several races.  I'm also not sure how my body will react to marathons just 3 weeks apart and may need to take a rest.  Until then I will keep trucking.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Marathon Training Week 12

This was a bit of an odd week since I was recovering from the twin halfs last weekend and then ran a midweek 5K.  I struggled through my runs this weekend, but still got them done even if the effort wasn't quite where I wanted them to be.  It was the close of a highly successful month as we head into the home stretch.  Only 3 more weeks until the tapering begins.

Mon - 3.09
Tues - 3.41
Wed - 4.16 (and a shiny new and unintentional 5K PR)
Thu - 5.06
Fri - 6.01
Sat - 10.05
Sun - 20.19

Weekly Mileage - 52
Monthly Mileage -  219.72

Today also marked the day I hit 100 days of my run streak.  I spent most of it trying to re-hydrate after that hot 20 miler.  During the streak I covered 501 miles.  I'm also 150 miles ahead of where I was at the same point of training last year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Urban Hoedown 5K

I'm not a fan of country so normally I wouldn't have signed up for this race, but I had won a free entry in the raffle at the Adventure Run a few months ago so I figured why not.  I did have some concern with this race being only a few days after my back to back half marathons, but figured I would just run for fun.  It's funny how time changes your plans.

I got to Soldier Field a bit early and quickly found Courtney.  We used the facilities and found a place to camp out.  Soon I got a tweet from Mo letting me know she was at gear check so I went over and got her.  The 3 of us chilled and chatted for a bit.  I then went and did about a mile warm up jog. I didn't feel all that great during the jog and decided I wasn't really going to push things too hard for the race.  I asked Mo what she was going to run and she said she'd run with me until I burned her.  I asked if 23:30 was OK and she said sure since she recently ran a 23:40ish.  We soon lined up and found ourselves in corral A as people moved forward.  After the national anthem we were off.

I held things pretty conservative for all of 30 seconds.  It felt like I was going slow.  After the first turn I looked over and saw that I had already lost Mo.  I then decided to just get into a groove and let things happen.  My watch and the race markers were a little off so my splits seem to be a little slower than what they should be.  There were volunteers at the mile markers reading off the time as you ran past. 6:43, 6:44, 6:45... well crap, I didn't expect anything that fast.  My watch finally beeped a little later at 6:54.

I tried to focus and keep things in the same groove for mile 2. The course was an out and back on the path so this mile featured a nice hairpin turn.  I lost my groove for a bit but soon regained my speed.  On the way back I spotted Mo and we did an air 5.  A bit behind her I saw Harry who I run track nights with on Wednesdays.  We both shouted hey and off we went.  The guy shouting times at mile 2 seemed to be a bit off.  The times were in the 14 minute range which didn't sound right.  I didn't think I slowed down all the much.  Shortly after my watch beeped and showed a 6:50 split confirming I did indeed go faster.

The last mile I struggled a bit.  The crowd had thinned out and I had already passed many runners.  I had a couple I was trying to hang on with to keep pace.  My breathing started to become a bit labored.  The toll of the 2 half marathons over the weekend was finally showing its ugly face.  I did keep pressing though and finally caught 1 of the 2 runners with a half mile to go.  He would actually out sprint me to the finish later on.  Oh well.  With the end in site I hit mile 3 with a 6:54 split.

With a time showing in the 20:30 range I didn't think I stood a chance to break 21 minutes.  I still pulled together everything I had and threw myself towards the finish line.  As I got closer and saw the gun time I knew I was so close to 21.  I stopped my watch and looked down - 21:05.  I came so close to crossing the barrier.  As it stood the time represented a 55 second PR over my previous best 5K run last year.  After some time spent with my hands on my knees trying to pull myself back together and not get sick I grabbed my bolo medal and some Gatorade and let the euphoria set in.

I waited towards the end of the finisher's chute since Mo wasn't too far behind and soon she cross in a better time than last week.  She asked how I did since she knew I was flying and I shared the good news.  Next on the list was to grab beers.  We went to get her bag from gear check and then to grab our cowboy hats, but I spotted Harry and his wife and so stopped to chat with them.  Harry asked how I did since he too saw me flying and congratulated me on the new PR and lamented that now he had to work harder to catch up.  Courtney sauntered up as we were chatting and then we finally grabbed our hats and more importantly beer and set up in the field to listen to the band play and continue chatting until we decided that it was time to go.