Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week in Review

82.5 Miles
2 Doubles
1 Weightlifting Session
1 Dance Lesson
17.4 Mile Long Run

Even though I felt like absolutely garbage on all but one of my runs this week, I know that I am still building my strength and endurance.  I may have struggled to run a quick pace in workouts, but at least I was able to maintain my target weekly mileage and to get in a solid long run.  Most importantly, I'm focusing on the mental preparedness that will be necessary to perform well at the Trials.  After all, running a marathon is fun, yet challenging.  It is easy to get discouraged or to lose focus over the course of 26.2 miles.  Right now I'm going through a patch of training where it is easy to get discouraged.  This rough patch will serve as a good thing because it will only help me to prepare mentally and make me tougher for the big day.  If I can keep my head afloat during a week when layoffs loom in the near future, when work outs don't get fully completed, and when I have commitments after work every single night, then I bet I can handle a marathon with the top USA talent.  It's all about the journey and what I do to get there.  Despite the sub-par workouts, this week has already made me tougher.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

2nd Workout Fail of the Week

5x1 mile at 526-531 with 2:30 rest

2.7 mile warmup

1 mile in 5:50 (2:30 rest)
1 mile in 5:50 (2:00 rest)
10x1 min on/off for 3.1 miles

2.6 mile cool down

This marks my second workout this week that was difficult for me to complete.  I guess either I could have finished the mile repeats at 5:50 pace (my goal half marathon pace in just eight days) or I could just do minuters.  I decided on the minuters because I knew that I wouldn't be able to focus on pace.  Instead, I was forced to focus on the effort and my stride.  Mentally, this was the right decision as I came out feeling really strong and fresh on the Dilworth 2 Mile Speed Loop.

David joined me for this workout and he absolutely rocked it.  It was nice to have his company and I tried to jump in on my minuters when he was finishing so I could provide him that extra motivation on Worthington Road.  Like I stated after my workout on Wednesday, I know that my body is just tired, but that soon it will come out of its funk.  Fortunately my IT Band tightness has gone away.  I've been taking dance lessons with Garrett and I truly believe that moving my legs in different directions is stregthening the muscles in my legs that are not used while running, but that will benefit my own running!

I've got a long run on Sunday that I plan to run at the American Tobacco Trail in Raleigh.  I have a feeling that it's going to go well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My So-Called Tempo

5 Miles at 545-550 Pace (Adjusted to 550-555 for McAlpine surface)

2.5 Mile warmup

(~4 min rest?)
5:45 pace for next 1.25 mile

2.3 mile cool down

This workout joins the other 3-4 on the list titled "Bad Workouts of the Month."  Even though it can be added to that list, I actually feel pretty good about it, considering everything.   Like every passionate runner, I did some analysis of my running ever since the Minneapolis 13.1 race on August 21, 2011.  I haven't taken a day off from running in over 10 weeks and I've been hitting mileage between 75-85 on all non-race weeks. My IT Band got tight a week ago, but I went into major pre-hab mode to take the necessary "pre-cautions" that I should have been doing ten months ago. 

Clearly, my body is pretty tired. 

Fortunately though, my mind feels fresh, excited, and alive.  Now, if I wasn't having fun and I felt tired mentally, then clearly I would be freaking out right now, but it's the exact opposite.  Sometimes your body will not cooperate with what your mind wants it to do, and you have to take a step back and adjust accordingly to what your body needs.  That's how I'm looking at these last few weeks of training before I really start to ramp things up with marathon specific workouts. I am taking the week before Savannah Rock 'n Roll Half very easy since this will be my last weekly mileage below 75 miles until after the Trials. 

With all that being said, there isn't much to report on my tempo except that I felt tired from the get-go.  Meagan and I came through at a perfect 5:51 pace, but I felt like my feet were slogging through mud.  By mile 2, we had picked up Pezz and I had already dropped back a few strides behind them.  By mile 3, I wasn't even hitting marathon pace, so I slowed down to 7-min pace.  Then I came out to the lake, and suddenly I felt re-energized and decided to try to run the last 1.25 miles with Meagan and Pezz.  I took the lead and could tell they were both hurting, so I took it upon myself to take some of the work off their shoulders and to relax behind my lead.  Somehow I was able to finish a lot stronger than I had expected.  Clearly, it wasn't anything mind blowing since I had just taken a 4 minute jog rest, but I still pushed myself when my body wasn't exactly cooperating. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week in Review

~85 Miles
2 Doubles
1 Lifting Sess
1 Failed Workout
15 Mile Steady State Run @ 6:28 Ave

After going into this week excited with the prospect of nailing two solid workouts, my mind ended in a roller coaster.  On Tuesday morning, my IT band felt tight and I bailed on my 1000m repeat workout.  I immediately began doing my rubber band exercises every other day and got a massage.  My legs were garbage by the time Friday rolled around, and I couldn't barely sustain 6:20 pace for 6 miles.  My excitement from earlier in the week was hampered by the disappointment and the fact that I was struggling.  The worst part was that I did not know why I was struggling physically.  All I could do was focus on the emotional side and keep my head above water, holding myself strong with a confidence that everything would eventually go back to normal. I could only hope that my Sunday long run would be the light at the end of the tunnel.  Sure enough, it was.

Since I lifted on Friday evening, my legs were a little sore from that, but I knew that I could run 15 miles at 630 pace with Alana on Sunday morning.  Alana and I did just that.  Toward the end, it was a little bit more difficult to talk and breathe at the same time, but we still managed a couple snippets of conversation here and there.  I threw down my fastest split during 14th mile, as I said farewell to Alana and kept on going to the 2 mile marker before turning around and stopping at the .5 mark.  I stopped, stretched a little, before jogging a half mile as a feeble attempt at a cool down; my legs were stiff!

In the end, the most important learning lesson this week is to keep up the lifting routine.  I'm doing abs every other day (3-4x/week) and lifting 2-3 times, using a program that Mark Kane created for me back in January.  The best part is that Garrett gets back next Tuesday and will act as my personal trainer to tell me what I'm doing wrong and right.  I tend to only have tendon issues as I've never had a stress fracture in my life.  The important thing it to keep my glutes and hips strong so my IT doesn't have to do any more work than it's already doing!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Being Smart

8x1000m at 320-324 with 2 min jog rest

11.3 Easy miles

Typically I wouldn't post about a workout that I bailed on.  However, I think it's an important reminder that sometimes you have to make the right decision for the long term. 

Today I woke up at 510AM and it felt like any other workout day as I went through my regular routines.  Once I got out onto the roads, I noticed that my left IT Band was much tighter than usual.  Immediately memories from January resurfaced:   
  • Limping down Dilworth Road East, waiting for Jordan to come pick me up in his car since my IT Band was pulling so much on my knee that I couldn't even walk, let alone run. 
  • Spending my entire FSA allotment for the year in just the month of January on physical therapy
  • Icing my bruised leg from "scraping" treatment
Given my history with IT Band, I knew it would be dumb to start this work out, even though I had recruited a solid group of four guys to do this (Stephen, David, Eric, and Billy).  I know that speed can aggravate the IT, so I opted for an easy run around Dilworth.  Carolyn and Dalena ran by just as I made this critical decision, so I was able to log miles with them. 

While the last thing I want right now is to miss a work out, I would rather miss it now than in December.  I don't want to have a sporadic month of training due to IT Band issues, so I am being smart in October.  I will continue my band exercises three times a week and begin my lifting regime twice a week.  I've been slacking on the little things, which could lead to bigger, badder things further down the line.  I'm confident that I'll be good to go with the right focus on the pre-hab activities.  On the plus side, I am not in any pain!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week in Review

~79 Miles
2 Doubles
1 400m workout
19 Mile Long Run at 719 pace
2 days at Wake Forest

This week was fairly uneventful from a running perspective since I ran easy every day until Friday, when I did a 16x400m workout with Liz, Thomas, and David.  Liz is in town visiting from Boston for Wake Forest homecoming weekend.  After successfully completing 16x400m repeats at 73-77, Liz and I stalked old friends on Facebook, went to Lululemon, and ate froyo at Menchie's.

On Saturday afternoon, Liz and I arrived at Wake Forest and reunited with a lot of the former Wake Forest runners.  I should note that even though it was Homecoming at Wake Forest, I didn't go to the Wake Forest v. Virginia Tech football game, nor did I take a single sip of alcohol.  Mostly I enjoyed catching up with my friends who are either in med school, getting their masters in epidemiology, or a phD in History.  Out of this group, I feel like an undereducated fool, but it's okay.  Maybe I'll join them with a higher degree later.

In the end,  I did log some long miles at my old stomping ground, Salem Lake, with two of my former teammates and assistant coach.  I enjoyed running a slightly lower mileage week with a solid long run.  Next week I'm on track to run 85 miles to continue my preparation for Rock n Roll Savannah Half Marathon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week in Review

69 Miles
1 Double
1 Workout
10 Mile Race in 58:33

After missing some key miles early on the week and then missing my warmup for the race, I still was able to fall within my target mileage for the week.  I definitely wanted to run 75-80 miles this week but I know that I only have two more "down" weeks before the Trials, so it's critical for me to take advantage of them now. 

Overall, this was a great week.  I achieved a new 10 Mile Road PR and enjoyed lots of quality time with close friends in DC.  My ten mile PR confirms that Mark Hadley's training program is a good fit for me.  In 2009, before I was coached by Mark, I ran 1:00:50 on the same course.  Two years later, I ran 58:33, almost 90 seconds faster, with a cold!  I trust that as I continue to increase my mileage each year I will continue to see improvement. This race also gave me the confidence I need going into the Trials. Now I know that running in the high 230s is a realistic goal for me.

On a personal level, it was definitely bittersweet to run a race with Meagan as I knew it would be the last one together for a while.  It is hard for me to admit that she and Jordan have left Charlotte, and I really won't accept that fact until after their final visit in late October.  In the end, I am really happy for them and am excited to visit them next year when it's not freezing outside.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Army Ten Miler Recap

10 Mile PR...58:5x something

~1 mile warmup
10 mile race in 58:33
Mile Splits: 551, 551, 551, 548, 554, 555, 553, 549, 553, 543
Half Splits:  29:18, 29:15
10k Split:  36:28
~3 mile cool down

I guess you could call this race a success, not just because of my PR, but because of the PRs that both Meagan and Boriana achieved, after an adventure that included plenty of time in the metro underground and little time warming up above ground.

The night before, Meagan and I had spent an ample amount of time strategizing over our meeting places and the best modes of transportation.  After consulting her friend Jilane, a three-year resident of DC and therefore an expert, we determined it was best to ride the Metro.  Further affirming our decision was the Army Ten Miler packet itself, which proclaimed confidently, "The recommended option for transportation is the metro.  Additional lines will be run to accommodate the racers."  Everything seemed like it would work out flawlessly: Boriana and I would meet at the Rosslyn Metro, go two stops away and get off in the Pentagon Station, where we would meet Meagan.   Little did we know that our plan would immediately be trampled by the crowd of people stuffed below ground in Northern Virginia.

So, what really happened?  Well, Garrett and I met Boriana at the metro at 630AM and when we reached the platform, it looked like this, but fill the empty spaces with more and more people until you can't see the concrete:

When a train finally arrived, we didn't make the cut to get onto the first train.  When the second train arrived, we all fit in and I checked my watch:  6:50AM.  We still had plenty of time to get to the Elite Tent in time for a full warmup.  Life was good, except for being packed in like sardines with several hundred other runners who were complete strangers to me.  I was relatively calm.  After 5 minutes, the train began to slow and I glanced through my neighbor's smelly armpit to look out the window, expecting to see the Pentagon platform.  Just darkness.  The operator came on and told us that the train ahead of us was experiencing technical difficulties.  Great.

After about 15 minutes, we finally were able to get off our train.  Turns out the "technical difficulties" for the train ahead weren't even "technical difficulties."  It was more an overcrowding difficulties thing.  Once we got off the train, we couldn't even leave the platform because the three thousand people ahead of us still had to put their metro pass through the gate exit.  While the three of us struggled to get up the escalator, I texted with Meagan to see how her metro experience was going.  She experienced her own adventure, which I'm sure she'll document on her blog soon.  In the meantime, eventually we finally made it back out to the real world...around 7:20AM.

Just when you thought we had solved all our problems, we hadn't.  Next we had to go through a bag check and then figure out how the heck to get to the Elite Tent.  I threw all my stuff into Garrett's arms and told him I'd see him after the race and sprinted off with Boriana and Meagan to find the North Parking Lot.  We ran lopsided through crowds of thousands of people, shoved innocent bystanders out of the way, and cut people in the bag check line to finally jump on the road to the tent.  We made it to the ten by 7:35AM and immediately jumped in the bathroom line.  We made it!

Immediately we all resolved that our quick jog to the Elite tent would have to qualify as our "warmup." I was pissed that I couldn't do my normal work out routine, but I rationalized that I didn't warmup for Twin Cities Marathon and was still able to run strong.  I would be fine.

Just when I thought things were beginning to be like normal race day, I couldn't find Meagan in the start line, which looked like this:
The Uber-Crowded Start
 She had scattered off to make a last minute bathroom stop at some random porta-john.  I looked around and then suddenly I heard my name.  Meagan somehow found me and squeezed her way through huge army dudes to stand next to me.  Then we waited for five minutes, packed in like sardines for the second time that day, in anticipation for the start cannon.

Now that I've already written way too much information about our initial adventure, the race just doesn't even seem that exciting in comparison.

Essentially, Meagan and I made the most of our last 2011 race together and ran together for as long as we could.  In the first mile, we let the lead pack of women sprint ahead of us.  We both figured they would fall back to us, but in the end, they didn't.

My breathing in the first mile was much heavier than normal, most likely due to the cold and congestion I had, and I was a little worried about my race.  I figured it would pass and decided instead to say good job to the wounded warriors were passing.  Running past a solder who has lost a leg in combat definitely put my own running into perspective.  I made a mental note to be grateful for every day that I have the opportunity to go outside and just run.

Meagan and I stuck together through 6 miles, even though Meagan fall off a little bit before the 5-mile mark, she caught back up and said "I'm back" with the energy of a little kid on Christmas.  I wanted to ask if we should hold hands through the finish line, but instead I decided to push the pace.

When we ran through the Mall, I was so grateful for all of the crowd support (including Brian, Jordan and Jilane) and especially for the slew of men that were around me that served as motivation to run faster.  It seemed like after each guy I passed, there was another one right ahead to keep my eyes on.  I realized around mile 7 how much I truly do thrive off of competition.  I also couldn't help but think about how much fun it was to pass all these people!

Around mile 8, the Grim Reaper stood holding a sign that read: "The End is Near."  I hated and loved this guy.

I finished with my fastest split of the day and with a total time of 58:33.  I was happy and tired.  I turned around to see where Meagan ended up and she was really close behind.  She came in 10th with a time of 58:55.  She had definitely surpassed her own expectations for her race, and we both helped the other to run smart and fast!
At the finish line
Garrett found us and showed us the way to the Elite tent before heading off to go get 30 free samples of Muscle Milk and Detour bars.  He was in heaven.

Boriana showed up a couple minutes later, with a new PR of 1:04:xx!   Before we all parted ways to cool down, we were able to capture a picture of the three CRC women who PR'd!  Shortly after this picture was taken, Boriana took off with Julie, Garrett ran off to get even more free stuff, and Meagan and I cooled down on the interstate back to Rosslyn.

We definitely made the most of our situation today and I am proud of us for remaining relatively calm while it seemed like everything was going completely wrong.  Now I feel like if something unexpected happens at the Olympic Trials, I will be prepared to handle it.  That's the spirit....

PS Many thanks to Boriana for being the best hostess ever to Garrett and I over the weekend!!

In the elite tent with Meagan & Boriana

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Farewell Workout

3 mile tempo at 555-605, then 3x400m at 75-77

4.5 mile warmup
3 mile tempo at 554, 545, 543 for 17:22 total, 5 min rest, 75, 73, 73
2 mile cool down

It seems like it was yesterday when Pezz, Meagan and I all toed the line at the USA Club Cross Country Championships, sporting the CRC logo on our shirts.  Now, less than one year later, I am the lone wolf who still calls Charlotte home.  Pezz relocated to Flagstaff, AZ to pursue a professional running career early this year while Meagan and Jordan are off to continue doing big things for Craft/Karhu.  In the meantime, I am soaking up as much time as I can with these people since time is not on my side.

I met Meagan and Jordan halfway in Freedom Park and together we ran to the Dilworth Speed Loop to meet Pezz.  Jordan was tagging along to give us some company and to keep our chatter in check.  We went out for the first 800m, chatting away like it's no big deal, completely not hitting our target pace, and then Jordan huffed and puffed his way to front, saying "We're slow."  This is why Jordan rocks. He doesn't like to mess around and immediately took over to keep the pace honest and the silence golden. 

I felt like I was the only person breathing hard at the 1.5 mile mark and got a little self-conscious that maybe I was hurting a lot more than I should be.  I waited it out and after the 2 mile mark came and went, I felt increasingly better and stronger with each step.  We finished up well ahead of our planned pace, so I'm hoping this will make 5:55 pace feel that much easier this weekend in DC. 

After a generous break, we started our 400 meter repeats.  To be honest, they were really fun! It was exciting to get some speed back in the legs since I haven't done anything faster than 5:40 in a while. 

Pezz continued to add on since she's kind of a big deal these days, being sponsored by Saucony and all. She's heading up to the USA 10k Champs in Boston this weekend while Meagan and I race at the Army Ten Miler with thousands of hot Army commanders.  This will be my last race with Meagan until the Olympic Trials, but I am confident that we'll coordinate other races in 2012 to reunite at. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week in Review

86 miles
18 mile long run
2 workouts
3 doubles

I think this week is one of my highest mileage weeks ever. I am not 100 percent certain but I did hit over 85 somewhat unexpectedly since I ran an impromptu cool down with the wake forest girls after their meet at mcalpine on Friday. I am still feeling pretty good but know that it is critical to keep up the stretching and strength training. I head up to dc next weekend for the army ten miler so I am really looking forward to testing my fitness and all my hard work.

On a side note, I have been taking swing dance lessons with Garrett and it is definitely a form of cross training! It is tough and really taxing on my calves since I have to stay on my toes all the time. I am really enjoying all of the quality time I've been able to spend with Garrett over the course of this past week while he is here in charlotte!