Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tapering for NYC

It's so weird to go from recovery right back into taper mode. That's what you have to do when marathons are just 3 weeks apart. I kept my mileage easy for the most part and logged just a few more miles than last week. I did mix in a little speed this week, but not enough to kill the legs. I plan on taking things easy this week and hope to get to NYC on fresh legs and a lot of rest.

I did attempt my secret mission this week and didn't succeed.  I ran the Pumpkins in the Park 5K and was hoping my fitness levels were good enough to get me to the fabled 20 minute mark. Alas it wasn't meant to be. A few days of restless sleep left my body in recovery mode over the weekend and doomed the attempt before it began. A sudden warm spell and windy conditions that felt like you were always running into a headwind didn't help. I still gave things a shot and wound up with my second fastest 5K time ever.  I can now say I'm consistently in the 21:XX range even on bad days since I've landed there in my last 3 5K races. On the plus side I ran this race with a higher average heart rate than my PR attempt so I've learned to push my limits a bit. That could also be seen as a negative that I worked too hard, but I prefer the positive spin.

This week I get to fly out to NYC very early on Friday. I signed up for the Race to the Finish 5K on Saturday to use as a shake out run and help keep the streak alive. It also means I get to leave NYC with at least 2 long sleeve tech shirts plus whatever other goodies I get at the expo. I'm in wave 3 for the marathon, but am on top the bridge so I get to avoid any misting situations. I expect being so far back will leave me boxed in for a lot of the race which could be good or bad. If it's a day where I'm on, I'm not going to want to hold back. On the other hand it can help me stay conservative and save some juice for running Las Vegas in a few weeks.

Mon - 2.38
Tue - 2.58
Wed - 4.01 (4x800m @5K pace)
Thu - 4.27
Fri - 2.51
Sat - 4.7 (21:20 5K)
Sun - 5.04
Week: 25.4
Month: 112.1

This is my 5th straight month over 100 miles. If feels nice to have such a streak of consistency and remain injury free. I'm also at 1160 miles on the year. That's a full 100 miles further than last year and I'm still going strong.

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

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.