Friday, June 21, 2013

Marathon Training Week 2 in Review

I bet you're asking yourself - where is the week 1 review?  Yeah I've been a bad blogger lately and its been hard to keep up with the craziness still happening at work.  I was asked at 4:30PM today, Friday, to check in over the weekend and put in a few hours if needed.  I feel like Peter from Office Space.

Alright, enough of the tangent...  For those who forget I'm running the Hanson Marathon Method for my training plan.  Its in a book so its got to be good right?  Just like everything you hear on the internet is true.  The plan actually starts off slow and only has 2 runs during the first week.  I did 3 with the extra just being an easy 2 miler to get the blood flowing and recover after running a half marathon the prior weekend.  Things picked up a little more in week 2 and I deviated from the plan a little bit since my body is already adapted to higher mileage.

So I'm running the beginner training plan seeing as this is my first marathon.  I didn't want to sacrifice all the gains I made in the spring by resetting and going back to easy miles again so I decided to blend elements of the advanced program in.  I'm still mostly running easy miles, but I'm throwing in a little extra here and there - as long as they are slow my body gets a chance to recover from my recent race heavy schedule.  I also decided to do a speedwork Tuesday because I'm a glutton for punishment and love intervals.

The structure of my intervals was to do a warm up then do 12x400M with a 400M recover jog in between.  The book says to do these at 10K pace because they know everyone winds up running them faster anyways.  I'm no exception.  I actually surprised myself and did a near perfect negative split on the intervals.  The one aberration was interval where my course took a turn and I had to dodge some bikers so I think I get a little slack.  The other thing that made the intervals difficult was that I ran a little later than normal and hit swarm upon swarm of flies.  I don't even want to think of how many I possibly swallowed.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how week 2 went.  I nearly gave up on doing a run Thursday night since I got home late from work and was exhausted, but I toughed it out and crash after.  Its all about being mentally tough.  That's what gets you through the long runs.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Race Recap: Run for Boston 5K

The day began with an early drive from the city way up north to Libertyville.  I headed out with my usual companions Chris and Jennifer.  We arrived at Independence Grove a bit on the early side and walked up to the race site as the volunteers were doing introductions.  We picked up our packets and headed back to the car to get ourselves together before the race.  After a quick pit stop on the way back to the race site we caught up with Maggie and got introduced to Kelly.  After a brief chat we headed over to the race area to relax and take in the scenery before the race was to begin.

 The campsite
 Start line looks lonely

While waiting for the race to begin it started to rain a bit.  I was still on the warm side so it wasn't a bother, but everyone still headed for cover.  When it got closer to start time I left the cover and embraced the rain.  I figured if I was going to get wet while running, I might as well start wet and not have to adjust on the run.  After a bit of a warm up and a group warm up from the Illinois Bone and Join institute everyone lined up and heard a few words from our hosts and Jothy, the head of the charity, we were sent off to the song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" which was pretty fitting and a good song to get amped up to.  I must have been a little too amped up because a little bit into the race I looked at my watch and saw I was at a 6:05 pace.  No wonder if felt like someone was sitting on my chest.  I slowed into an easy groove and enjoyed the rest of the race on a scenic route around the lake.  The course wound up being a little short of an actual 5K, but I didn't mind.

 Like Bigfoot, I too am blurry
 Tried to raise my arms, look like a spaz instead
I'm not good at this photo thing

After the race I saw Maggie at the finish line and she filled my brand new water bottle for me.  She asked how I did and I let her know the course was a little short, but I still did decent.  Just before the bend to the finish line I had seen Pete who up until now I kept just barely missing at races so I went over to say hi and cheer on the runners.  Chris came and joined us after he finished.  We were standing at the top of a "hill" and trying to encourage people for their last little push before the finish line.  After a bit Pete went over to say hi to other friends, Chris went to grab his ID for beer, and Jennifer came around so I headed back to the finish area.  I grabbed a beer and me and Jennifer both grabbed some pizza.   I also went over to the results screen and was shocked to see that I finished 18th overall.  I had to go back and look through the pictures from the race and count the finishers in front of my picture before I could finally believe it. After a few minutes we had a gathering of bloggers as Gingerfoxxx came over and I officially introduced myself and Pete came back.  We enjoyed the beers and joked that Sara needed to pull a Maggie and just happen to be busy with a race during her pending move.

Finally we gathered up all the bloggers for a group shot.
It was the perfect cap to a great day.  I'm amazed at what people can accomplish when their put their hearts into it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Marathon Training Begins

Alright so I've been slacking a bit with the blog posts.  I've been a very busy boy with crazy work hours and lots of races.  The time has come to buckle down and be serious though.  I ran the first official run of my marathon training plan last night.  It was a nice easy 3+ miles run.  I debated skipping it even since I got home from work so late, but no, I went and did it even though it was getting dark.

For those who don't regularly read my posts or have a short attention span - I'm using the Hansons Marathon Method as my guide to surviving my first marathon.  I'm probably going to adapt a hybrid of the advanced and beginner plan since I've already built up my mileage this spring.  I would do the advanced plan, but I don't think I could commit to the extra miles due to my current work schedule.  I also like the idea of having a couple easier weeks right now to let my body recovery from the gauntlet of 6 races in 6 weekends I just did.  I have some minor aches and soreness I'm working through that should go away if I keep the miles easy for now.

The other things I've done this week for marathon training are buzzing my hair very short and adjusting my diet.  Military and police officers get their heads buzzed when they go to boot camp and I feel like I will be doing the same for training so I wanted to get myself into that mentality.  As for the diet - I'm just being smarter about what I eat.  Some things I will give up completely like heavily processed fast foods.  Others I will just cut back on.  The goal is to try and eat as much fresh and natural foods as I can.  For example a McDonald's burger is off limits, but I can eat Five Guys because the beef is never frozen.  It still may not be the healthiest, but that would be a rare treat.  Hopefully I can cut way down on preservatives and cut down on my mid section and fuel myself properly for training.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Race Recap: Allstate 13.1 Marathon

I fear I was spoiled for this race and may not want to go back to being a regular runner.  I ran the race with my friend Chris and we are both Allstate employees.  This year we actually got some perks for the race.  Chris got a free entry and I would of too had I not signed up for the early registration blitz last year.  Oh well, live and learn.  We also got to park at our own parking lot and got shuttled over to the race.  Once at the race site we had entry to the VIP area.

Packet Pick Up:
Nice and easy, was at Fleet Feet in Old Town.  I went on Thursday night and had no issues picking it up.  There was a lady trying to get me to sign up for a sweepstakes, but I told her I couldn't do it because I was ineligible to win being an Allstate employee.  She thanked me for my honesty.

Race Day:
Got up at 4AM and pulled myself together.  Chris showed up at 5:15 and we drove down to the parking lot reserved for us.  I accidentally got off at the wrong exit, but we still found our way.  We got there probably a little too early.  A short shuttle ride later and we were at the race site an hour early.  Chris dropped his bag at gear check and then we decided to check out the VIP tent.  Chris realized he could do gear check there and fetched his bag.  We chilled a bit and used the restrooms before heading to the blogger meet up.
 Chris is overwhelmed
 Sandwiches and fruit
 Right next to finish line
Early morning sun on the lake

First Half 55:46 8:30 min/mile Pace:
I went out slow.  The opening chute was narrow and a bit crowded.  Once we got out on the street things spread out a little bit, but was still on the crowded side.  I mostly kept things in check and went with the flow.  I didn't want to go out too fast in order to stay strong for the second half.  Around mile 4 I felt discomfort around my toes.  I knew that blisters were forming.

Second half 53:38 8:11 min/mile Pace:
I picked up the pace a bit.  I probably wasted too much energy darting around people.  The last 2 miles were rough, but I was determined to not let my pace die like it did at the Chicago Spring Half.  I succeeded in keeping a steady pace, but somewhere along the line I didn't pick up the pace enough and finished 12 seconds slower than I did the last half and 25 seconds slower than my goal.  Its still pretty impressive considering that I ran 9 miles on blistered toes.

4th half of the year completed!

After the race I headed back to the VIP tent and chilled.  I knew I would have to wait a bit for Chris to finish.  He was in corral M and I was in E.  I'm also just a tad faster.  I grabbed a bottle of gatorade and sat down and watched people finish.  At one point someone crossed carrying a pair of shoes with his friend trailing behind him barefoot.  He then turned around and chucked the shoes back at his friend after crossing the finish line.  Chris finished about 40 minutes after I did.  we enjoyed some pizza and the tent had its own self serve beer tap so we were all set.  After we were as re-rejuvenated as we were going to get we headed back home.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Race Recap: United Run for the Zoo 10K

A year ago the United Run for the Zoo was my first 10K ever.  It seemed like a daunting distance at the time.  I knew it fell between the "sprint" of a 5K and the distance run of a half and I was a little unsure of how to tackle it.  I had a bout of anxiety before the race and an emergency trip to the restroom before hitting the course for a miserable warm and sunny run.  This year I was a bit more prepared to tackle the race, but also had a miserable run for other reasons.

I went after work on Friday to pick up my race packet.  The pick up location was inside the Lion House of the zoo itself.  Luckily I don't live to far from the zoo so it was an easy pick up.  I had spied the weather radar before I left and hoped to make it before more storms hit.  Luckily I made it in time even as the clouds looked ominous.  On Saturday I started breaking all the pre-race rules.  I headed over to a friend's place to play poker.  I had neglected to eat before going over there.  We had snacks and beer, another no-no before a race day of course.  I just needed to unwind after my long week of work.  I wound up staying there for 7 hours playing poker, eating cookies and rice cakes and drinking beer.  These probably weren't the best calories to get into my system.  I did continue tradition and picked up a slice of pizza for dinner on my way home.

Race day came far too early.  We had a friend running the 5K so we met up around 7:30.  I got up at 6AM in case my body decided it wanted to be upset and allow myself time to settle down.  I pulled myself together and headed out the door.  I wore my arm warmers (best investment ever!) and was glad I did when I noticed there was a bit of a chill to the air.  By the time I got to the zoo to meet up with my friends a nice stead drizzle had started.  It didn't help that there was also a chilly wind from the north.  We huddled under a tree and waited for the race to begin.

A few minutes before the race was set to begin we headed to the start corral.  I had a tough time getting up to where I needed to be and finally gave up and stayed at the front of the 8:00 min/mile flag.  I knew it wouldn't take too long for things to thin out up front.  A couple minutes later we were off and running.  It was still raining out so everything was slick and there were puddles everywhere.  I of course took off too fast.  I was also wearing my Newton Motions for the first time in a race.  I've worn them plenty for speedwork, but this was their first race.  I could tell I was slipping a little bit on the wet pavement wearing them.  They were a lot better than my Brooks Pure Cadence on wet cement though, if I had worn those I'd be ice skating on a day like this.

As the race went on I slowed my pace a bit and just tried to hang on.  I knew if I could keep it under 8:00 min/mile splits I could gut it out at the finish and give myself a little bit of a PR.  It was a struggle to keep the pace.  There were a lot of turns for this race as you go through the zoo and whatnot.  There are also lots of little unexpected inclines.  It all adds up to making falling into a groove a little difficult.  Finally we hit the turnaround at mile 4 and headed back south.  I now had tailwind and was running on familiar paths.  I started to pick up the pace a bit for the homestretch.  Somewhere along the line my GPS was thrown off so I was actually closer to the finish line at the end than I thought so I didn't start my finishing kick as early as I wanted.  When all was said and done I finished in 47:00 flat.  Its a new PR by 49 seconds.  The time is also a 5:43 improvement over my race last year.  Its amazing to see how far I've come in that time.

I'm pleased with how things turned out even though I did my best to sabotage myself with my day before race antics.  Mother nature did her best to slow me down, but the cool weather was certainly better than the warm weather we've had lately, even if it was a bit slick out.

Next weekend is the Allstate 13.1 Marathon.  It will be a repeat of my first ever half.  I'm just hoping that it won't be sunny and 85 like it was last year.