Friday, December 30, 2011

3x2 Mile with 2 Min Rest

3x2 mile with 2 min rest at 600, 550, 540

2.7 miles warmup
3x2 mile at 11:40 (551, 548), 11:26 (5:41, 5:45), and 11:18 (5:39, 5:39)
2.6 miles cool down

I'm trying to mirror everything that I did before Twin Cities in these last three weeks leading up to the Olympic Trials, so I had 3x2 mile on tap for today.  Last marathon cycle, the workout went well on the Dilworth Speed Loop.  This time around, I wanted to be a little more aggressive on the first one and then gradually get faster on each one.

Knowing that I would run faster with the company of another, Juan Morales and I determined to meet at 730AM at the Newport Back Bay and to run our warmup to the Irvine Bike Path, which is flat with two minor uphills.  The uphills are similar to the uphills I'll be running over in Houston, so the route was a perfect choice.  We went out 2 miles and followed the same course for the 2nd interval.  For the third, we went out and back 1 mile.

The hill we ran up on the Irvine Bike Path
The best part about this workout is that I not only achieved my time goals, but I also did so with less rest than last year (2:10 as opposed to 3:00).  The first set didn't even feel hard and my breathing wasn't labored.  Juan and I even chatted through at least 1.5 miles.  For the second one, I took off like a bat out hell in like 5:20 pace and fell asleep a little bit from 1-1.5 but woke up enough to bring the pace back down to a reasonable clip.  By the third one, I could feel some slight fatigue in my legs, but pushed any thoughts of distress out of my head to power through it.  I really wanted my last one to be my fastest interval, and Juan and I made that happen.

With this run, the 20 mile steady state, and the 8 mile wave tempo, I can tell that my body is ready for the Trials.  Now the key is to mentally prepare for the race and to envision multiple scenarios that could play out.  This has always been a crucial preparation step for me as it helps to further cement the mental focus I'll need in the race.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Solo Fartlek in the Newport Back Bay

4 Miles of Speed

3+ miles warmup
1-2-2-1-1-2-2-1-2-2-1-1-1-1-1 with 1 min rest

I did this workout around 3PM in the Newport Back Bay all by my lonesome.  My Cal Coast Track Club buddies were doing a workout (guess where?) on the track and I didn't feel like getting toasted by several men in the "A" group all at once.  I also didn't want to meet at the track after the sun had set, so I opted for a solo fartlek on the Back Bay bike path.  Before Twin Cities, at this same time in my training cycle I did 4 miles of speed work in the form of 2:45 on/off.  I wanted to mix things up and run on feel, so I just did 1-2-2-1 with 1 min rest and then with some extra 1 minutes at the end for added benefit.  There wasn't a Garmin involved, but I was breathing pretty hard for the "on" segments.  I was running fast and feeling strong.  This was a nice way to come back after the grueling 20 mile steady state on Friday, and I could tell that my legs had already bounced back.  Next up, I've got 3x2 mile and a 16-18 mile long run.

Aerial view on the Newport Back Bay
Newport Back Bay Path - Parts are Fine Rock and others asphalt

Monday, December 26, 2011

Week in review

85+ miles
2 doubles
20 mile steady state long run
6 days in California

I can't think of a better way to spend my last big week of training. Five days of running in ideal weather conditions and picturesque landscapes has made for a rather enjoyable week! Of course, taking the standard work schedule out of the picture helped immensely so I soaked up every minute of my vacation time to get in quality workouts and runs.

On Friday I ran a 20 mile steady state that left my legs feeling more sore than ever. I was planning on hitting 90 miles this week but on Saturday I could really only muster a measly five miles out of my legs before calling it a day. Fortunately my run today went much better but I can tell it will take my legs at least one more day to feel fully recovered from the hilly long run at a good clip.

After my Friday long run, my parents and brother arrived from Arizona to reunite with Vanessa, Garrett and I. I am so honored to have such an active family because every morning I've stepped out to run, my parents have followed close behind. It's definitely been a family affair to go running and we even went on a family run / walk on Christmas day to celebrate. Mom, dad, and I all ran while Garrett, Vanessa and Joey went on a hike through the Newport back bay nature preserve.

For christmas, Garrett's mom got t-shirts made for our entire family to wear at the Olympic Trials. My mom already has been showcasing hers. How exciting to have a fun club that will be easily identifiable in bright red shirts!

We finished up our Christmas festivities by watching the sunset on the beach and trying to feed sea annemmaes. I am grateful to spend this week in California and look forward to the rest of my stay. Happy holidays to all and I hope your Christmas run was shared with loved ones!

Friday, December 23, 2011

20 Miles Steady State in Palos Verdes

20 Miles at 620-640 if on flat surface

20 Miles at 6:36 pace for 2:12:00
.76 miles cool down

After emailing quite possibly one of the best high school cross country coaches in the country, Bill Sumner, I was connected with three runners from the Cal Coast Track Club.  Bill Sumner connected me last year with Juan and Juan for a couple of long runs and this year, I would run with Juan and a new guy named Trevor. After several email exchanges on Monday, Juan agreed to pick me up in Newport Beach at 6AM to drive an hour to Palos Verdes, California to meet Trevor. 

Palos Verdes, as pictured below, is different than the rest of the Los Angeles coastal regions.  Instead of being densely populated with asphalt, there are more trees than slabs of concrete.  The region is nestled on the Pacific Coast, in a mountainous region  that has wild peacocks running around.  Since I was warned about the hills, I figured I would need to adjust my goals accordingly.  Instead, I found that I felt pretty good despite the 600 feet climb.  
Palos Verdes from the Mountain

The first mile was uphill, and our first mile split reflected that as we ran just a little under 8:00 pace.  After that, we settled into a rythm that hovered around the 630s until mile 6.  That's when the mountain hit and I ran 7-725 for the hilly parts.  After the 9th mile, my friends told me that the hills were over, but I found out later that just the BIG hills were over.  There were small hills scattered throughout the rest of the course, and after already running 3 miles up a mountain and then back down, my legs were pretty fatigued from the impact.  By mile 14, I was feeling pretty tired if there was even the slightest incline and found myself hoping at every turn that there would be a flat or downhill segment so that I wouldnt feel the burning sensation in my quads and gluteus.  I think that hilly runs bring out the weak points in your body. By miles 15-20 I could tell that my left glut / hip region is much weaker than my right. I hope to focus on strengthening this side of my body in 2012 so it doesn't lead to any injury.
By mile 18, I ran 603 pace and I was 10-20 feet behind my male counterparts who were getting antsy about finishing.  I figured that today wasn't supposed to be my day where I proved myself, so I slowed it down a notch before even realizing that all of mile 19 was a gradual uphill.  I slowed to a 644, but was still able to finish my 20th mile in 6:20 pace.  The full splits are listed in the garmin map below. 

We walked the last 400 meters because I didn't feel like running up the last hill and because I didn't want to log any more than I had to.  After stretching and changing, Juan, Trevor and I went to Starbucks that had a beautiful view of the ocean.  California is so perfect; I am so lucky to have a sister who lives out here to visit!!
View from Starbucks

I am very fortunate to have made the connection with Trevor and Juan because their company pushed me along at times when I really wanted to walk up the mountain.  I feel so grateful and honored to have run with them and I look forward to more runs in the future.  Most importantly, I realized that I am ready for the Olympic Trials in just 22 days.  

This is my last big workout, and I know that my body and mind are ready.  I am just so honored to have this opportunity to race with my closest friends and to be part of a race where so many phenomenal runners will be toeing the line.  There is just so much excitement and energy going on around the Trials this year because American distance runners keep getting better and better.  I am grateful to part of something so incredible and to share the experience with close friends and family.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beach Cruisin' at the Back Bay

8-10 Miles Wave (545-550/615-620) or Tempo (610-605)

2 miles warmup
8 mile wave in 630, 555, 607, 550, 607, 540, 607, 538
2 miles cool down for 12 miles total

After a day of traveling to LA from Charlotte on Tuesday, I was a bit skeptical of how this workout would go.  Since it's my birthday, I figured it had to go better than I expected. Fortunately, I was able to drag Garrett out with me for the extra motivation.  With him there, I push myself harder because I hate explaining why I had a bad workout.  He rode alongside me on my sister's baby blue beach cruiser that three speeds, a basket, and a bell.  Did he ring the bell?  You bet...Every time I finished a mile.  The bike actually was a great addition because I got to bring my cell phone to capture photos of the beautiful Newport Back Bay Nature Reserve and of Garrett biking alongside the path!   

After a 2 mile warmup, I just picked up the pace to a comfortable clip, undecided yet if I would be doing a tempo or a wave.  My legs still felt a little fatigued from traveling but my breathing felt really relaxed, so I decided to go with a wave.  The one and only hill of the workout was in the first mile, but followed by an extremely sharp downhill.  Once my mile split went off, I decided it would be best to start picking it up for the fast part.  The second mile felt easy and when it was time to do my "slow" mile, I found it really hard to actually slow my body down.  Apparently 6:07 pace is my sweet spot because I hit that pace for all of my easy miles.  By the fourth mile, I was feeling great.  The sun was shining directly on my face, so I took of my long sleeve shirt, tossed it over to Garrett, and he stuffed it into our handy basket.  

During the second half of the run, I was rolling - everything seemed to be fitting perfectly together.  My breathing was definitely much more labored for the hard parts because I was dipping into the 540s, but when the 6:07 part came, it felt really easy and my breathing slowed down immensely.   

Overall, I'm very pleased with this workout.  After several days with less sleep than I'm typically accustomed to and a full day of travel, my legs were still ready to rock this tempo.  In just two days, I am doing a 20 Mile steady state at Palos Verdes, California with two other guys from the Cal Coast Track Club.  I am hoping my legs will still be somewhat fatigued from this workout to simulate the feeling of the last 20 miles of the Trials Marathon.  

Countdown:  24 Days until the 2012 US Olympic Trials Marathon 

Garrett's beach cruiser on the path
post workout in the back bay

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week in Review

90 Miles
3 Doubles
22.5 Mile Long Run
1 Workout
1 Newborn Baby - Eva Penny

No, I didn't have a baby.  But Garrett's cousin Emily did!  On Sunday, December 18th, the Adams and the Bullocks filled Rex Hospital's Nursery 2 to watch as baby Eva got her first bath!  This was my first experience seeing a newborn baby, albeit through a shield of glass, but it was still a life altering experience.  The fact that almost 20 people were there to welcome baby Eva into this world is a clear indicator of the vast amount of love that every single person in this family feels for Eva.  Unfortunately Garrett and I did not get a chance to hold her as we had to take off after the family Christmas gift exchange to make it back to a birthday celebration that Billy Shue had organized here in Charlotte.

The trend of sharing love continued from Raleigh and all the way to Charlotte's Cantina.  Garrett and I arrived at the restaurant, where several of my close friends had gathered to wish me an early happy birthday.  After we got our food, Carolyn announced that all the guests should share a story about me.  As Jay said later, it felt either like my rehearsal dinner or my funeral.  I'll go with rehearsal dinner.  In the end, all of my friends shared a story with the group.  The kind and thoughtful tributes practically brought me to tears as I realized how lucky I am to be surrounded by such caring people.  Matt Jaskot shared perhaps one of the nicest things he's ever said to me in his entire life, but if you want to know what he said, you'll need to ask him so he gets embarrassed.  To top it off, Jay and Lauren made a quick cameo appearance, fresh off the plane from New York City. 

With so much love going around, it really makes the running update seem rather mundane in comparison, so I'll just leave it at this:  running went great this week!  Steve Spada ran the entire 22+ mile long run with me, even though he has no logical reason for doing so!  Talk about dedication!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Workout with Spada


5 mile tempo

2.36 mile warmup
10 - 1.68 miles (5:57 ave) - 602 thru mile (3:00 rest)
08 - 1.41 miles (539 ave) - 5:39 thru mile (3:00 rest)
06 - 1.07 miles (537 ave) - 5:38 thru mile (2:00 rest)
04 - .72 miles (534 ave) - (2:00 rest)
02 - .38 (518 ave)
2.7 mile cool down for 11 miles total

pm:  3.1 miles easy

Going into this workout, I warned Steve that it would probably not be a tempo.  I knew that I wouldn't feel like doing yet another tempo after one last Tuesday and a simulation run on Saturday, so I improvised instead.  This fartlek workout was 30 minutes of work, which is roughly the same amount of distance if we did a 5 mile tempo.  Coincidentally, Steve and I ran 5.26 miles in 30 minutes, which equates to roughly 5:42 pace for the entire distance. 

As we toed the line at the Dilworth Speed Loop, I already could tell that this workout was going to go great.  My mind was in the right place and my legs felt relatively good.  We really just ran on effort and I pushed the pace for the longer distances (10-8-6).  In fact, ever since I found out that my iron level was normal again, I have been practicing mental techniques that will make me strongest for competition and workouts.  I firmly believe in exercising the mind constantly, especially outside of just running.  Mental preparation is extremely important for the marathon, so I am constantly positively reinforcing myself and preparing for the next workout. 

In today's workout, I practiced encouraging myself to push even harder when my body really hurt.  On the 4-minute interval, I was really hurting and hating the road that was stretched out before me.  Steve had already pulled away by at least ten meters, and he was gaining even more ground on me.  I wanted to cave in and just slow down, but instead, I glanced down at my watch, saw there were only 30 seconds left, and committed to making myself hurt for the last segment.  Suddenly I had another gear and I almost caught Steve!  Little mechanisms such as these can go a long way, and I was proud of myself for convincing my legs to push a little bit more. 

So far, my Trials training schedule is coming along quite well. I have noticed that I am really tired all the time, which must be a combination of the higher mileage, the robust "couples schedule" that I've been maintaining, and the 50 hours a week spent at a computer desk.  Needless to say, I am desperately ready to be in California with my family, where I can sleep in and run whenever I want. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week in Review

79 Miles
2 Doubles
13.1 Miles in 1:18:49 at Kiawah Half Marathon

My iron is higher, my simulation run is done, and there's only really 3 more weeks of solid marathon training before I begin to taper.  I couldn't be more pleased with this week.  After starting off with a mediocre 4 mile tempo, I was able to run a solid half marathon in preparation for January.  I even caught up on some much needed sleep on Sunday morning by postponing my run until 1PM.  The best part about winter is that you don't have to get up before the sunrise to beat the heat.

I've got just one more week left in Charlotte before I head off to Newport Beach, California to enjoy time with my family and Garrett.  On the workout calendar, I'll be preparing for a 5 mile tempo and a 22-24 mile long run on Saturday.  Garrett and I depart on Tuesday, December 20th in the morning for our non-stop flight to LAX.  I'm most excited to spend my birthday with my sister and Garrett in warm, sunny California!!

Countdown to the Trials: 34 Days

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trials Simulation Success at Kiawah

13.1 Miles to Simulate the first 13.1 Miles of the Trials (1:18:30-1:19:30)

2.5 mile warmup
13.1 Mile Race at 1:18:49, 3rd Place, $250
01 - 604
02 - 609
03 - 607
04 - 603
05 - 602
06 - 605 - 39:55 (halfway)
07 - 609 (turnaround)
08 - 600
09 - 554
10 - 554
11 - 554
12 - 553
13 - 552
.1 - :39  - 38:54 (2nd half)
2.5 mile cool down for 18 miles

What's a better way to go into a race knowing that your ferritin level is now a 25?  I found out the results of my ferritin test on Friday afternoon - my strict regimen of iron supplementation and spinach paid off big time.  As soon as I read the results, I told myself:  You're back; no more excuses.   I wanted (and needed) to run a solid simulation run in the half for my own mental sanity.

As I noted in my blog last week, the plan was to run with Aaron for 5-8 miles, to stay relaxed, and to have as much fun as possible.  Of course, the main goal was to execute the same race plan I'd like to execute at the Trials, practice my fueling strategy, and check my fitness level so that I can set a realistic time goal.

After a good night's rest at the Kasa de Kahn in Charleston, Aaron, Mike, Jason, and I made our way to the Elite tent at the Kiawah Golf Resort, less than 25 meters from the Start Line.  The Elite Coordinator, Beth, was kind enough to invite my entourage into the tent, so I was fortunate to spend some time preparing with Jason Martin.  All the pre-race rituals went along as planned, although I will note that it took me literally 8 different tries to finally get the tightness of my shoe strings exactly right.

At the Start, I spotted Aaron and situated myself in front of him and on the side of the women marathoners.  I wanted to make sure that I didn't go out too fast, so I was in the second row of the elites.  The gun went off and Aaron let out his standard tribal howling sound to pump up the crowd.  I just smiled, knowing that I'll never have that type of personality to exhibit so publicly.

Within the first 800 meters, Lat Purser found us and situated himself in our little group.  Over the course of the next 8 miles, I effortlessly maintained a pace just above 6:00 minutes, talking with Aaron and Lat some, and just enjoying the scenery.  I took a Honey Stinger at mile 5 with some water to wash it down.  BY mile 8, Lat or I dropped the pace to 6:00 and Aaron let us know that he needed to drop back since he still had 18 miles left in the full.  We said our farewells, and Lat and I took off.

We picked up the next 5 miles all between 554-552.  Around mile 9,  I thanked Lat for running with me, curiously wondering why he was even hanging back with me at all.  He informed me that he had been sick the entire week and so running with us sounded a lot more fun than gutting out 13.1 miles solo.  The selfish part of me is happy that he got sick, because it meant that I had a running buddy for the entire race.

Lat ran right beside me the entire way, reported the mile splits, and encouraged me when I was hurting in the last mile.  He prevented me from running off course when I was too busy focusing on drinking water during mile 10.  He even stayed with me in the final straightway when I'm sure he was itching to just blast away from me with his sub-5 speed.

In reflection, I am extremely happy with how this race worked out for me.  I finished with a 3-second PR in the half and I felt really strong in the end.  I finished the second half of the race today over 1 minute faster than the first half.   My fueling strategy worked out quite well and I didn't have any GI issues before, during, or after the race.  I accomplished everything that I wanted to out of this race, and am excited to finish off the next three weeks of training before heading into taper mode.  All in all, I am confident that I can go into the Trials and start out at 610 pace and drop it from there to hopefully negative split.

I am very grateful for Lat and Aaron's company throughout the race, for Mike's generosity in offering us free lodging, and for the Elite Coordinator for granting me entry into the race.  It was a great experience to simulate the trials on a closed course with the same bottles that I'll use in Houston.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

4 Mile Tempo

5 Mile Progression tempo at 615-540

3+ miles warmup
4 mile tempo in 23:58 (601, 558, 601, 559)
3+ miles cool down

I actually don't know if the splits above are exactly right, but they are close enough for you to get the picture.  On this December morning, it was a humid 60 degrees.  Did I mention it's December?  If I'm fantasizing about snowflakes and cuddling near a fireplace in December, then something is clearly wrong.  I'm ready for the cold already. 

Anyways, I did this workout with Spada on the Dilworth 2-Mile Speed Loop in the early morning hours.  It's funny because I thought that I was running much more terribly than I actually was since the darkness made it difficult to read my Garmin splits. I thought that our first mile was a 6:11 (it was 6:01) and I thought that our last mile was 6:10 (it was 6:01).  I felt terrible, but who knows if it was the iron, the low humidity, or the fact that I've run 86, 90, 90 miles for the past three weeks.  Last year around this time I was cranking out 60 minute tempos at 6:00 pace.  I know that I am capable of running 600s for a much longer period of time (in fact, will put that to the test on Saturday at Kiawah), but for now this is what I have to work with it, and I'm pleased with the effort. 

Did I mention how much I love working out with Spada?  Typically we are pretty evenly matched, he is encouraging, and he's just hilarious. Right now, since he doesn't have any big goal race in the near future, it means that he is more flexible with his workout plan.  This also means that, so long as our schedules coincide, that I have a guaranteed workout buddy to replace Jordan. 

In other news, I get my iron checked on Thursday.  The results should be in by Friday or Monday.  I'm crossing my fingers for a number above 15 (which is still ridiculously low, but I know that I can still run fast with that level).  I will keep you all posted!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week In Review

90 Miles
2 Workouts
1 Day of Lifting
21 Mile Long Run at 717 Pace
3 Dance Lessons

Success!  Second week at my highest mileage ever.  This week was a turning point for me in that I believe my iron has reached adequate levels.  Of course, this is all speculation because I haven't gotten my iron checked again.  I am supposed to get it done tomorrow, but I'm most likely not going because my last visit cost $300 and I can't really fathom spending $600 in less than a month on two blood tests.  Needless to say, I was able to keep up with Alana and Pezz in an 8-mile tempo on Tuesday, run a solid 20x1 min workout, and enjoy 21 miles with at least 10 different people this morning.  Clearly, things are my blood is getting the sufficient amount of oxygen it needs!  With the way I'm feeling now, I am anxious to start setting out at a faster pace, but I'd like to wait one more week to make sure the feeling of euphoria lasts.
Next week, I've got a short tempo on Tuesday before heading out to Kiawah on Thursday night for my simulation run on Saturday morning.  My goal is to run 610-600 pace.  The plan is to start at the same pace I'd like to go out in at the Trials.  Hopefully it will go something like this:
Miles 0-6:  605-610 Pace with Aaron (18:30 through 3 miles)
Miles 7-9:  555-605 Pace
Miles 10-13:  550-600 Pace for 1:18:30-1:19:30
Cheers to full iron stores!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Change of Plans - 20x1 Min

20x400m with 1 min Rest

2.5 Miles Warmup
20x1 Min for 3.86 miles in 20 Minutes (5:10 pace)
3 mile Cool Down for 11.4 Miles Total

Matt and I were supposed to do 20x400m this morning, but he bailed on me and I really didn't want to do 400s in the morning completely solo in the cold.  We decided to do the workout at 4pm instead.  This change would allow for the termperature to warm up and also for Thomas and Michelle to join us.  Garrett escorted me on the bike from our house to the JCSU Track.  We met Matt and we presented us with the news that the Track was closed off for JCSU track practice. 

This is a policy that the team started to enforce this year and I guess since I was a track athlete myself that I should be understanding of this new rule, but selfishly, I'm not.  This track was built as a community track, which means that it technically isn't "JCSU's" track.  It's a public track, not privately owned, which means that the public should be able to use it whenever we want.  Ah, but I digress.

Track or not, I had a workout to complete.  Thomas, Michelle, Matt, Garrett and I made our way to the cemetery and plotted to run "figure eights" through the cemetery road.  This route featured a rolling terrain, so it would be pretty tough on some of the uphill segments.  Fortunately I had my Garmin, so I took a couple of minutes to get the workout set up, and then we were off.

During the workout, I felt really great compared to the last time I did this workout three weeks ago. I can tell that my iron is getting better because my legs felt light and fresh.  Thomas was great company as he really helped push me on the uphill segments.  As always, Garrett was a great companion on all intervals with his steady demeanor and quiet resolve.

Most of the flat or downhill segments were run in 4:50-5:00 pace.  For the uphill sections we hit 5:10-5:30 pace, depending on the grade of the hill.   I slowed down way to much on one of the intervals on the uphill, which was just me letting the hill own me.  I also noticed a nagging tightness in my left hamstring, which is my weaker leg.  I'll have to focus on pre-hab activities this weekend so it doesn't turn into anything more serious.