Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tempo in the Cold Cold Rain

8 miles at MP with the option to run the last 3 miles at the same pace or at 5:50-6:00

3.62 miles warmup
8 miles in 49:15 (6:09 pace) with splits of 604, 606, 610, 609, 608, 608, 617, 613
2.3 miles cool down for ~14 miles total

I would have liked to have finished a bit stronger on this workout, but the terrain and the rain didn't make this easy.  In fact, I felt pretty terrible overall throughout the whole workout.  I had been in the car for 6 hours the night before, but that is no excuse.  In Greenville for Thanksgiving, I went towards ECU campus and then headed down the greenway that goes about 5 miles.  I did an out and back 4-mile course, so the last 2 miles were somewhat uphill and on very slippery wooden planks.  I felt the worst on those two final miles, and contemplated stopping about every 800 meter.  However, Garrett was there biking with me in this miserable, cold rainy day, so I felt like I had to at least make his effort worthwhile.

In the end, I don't normally feel fantastic in the last big workout leading up to the marathon, so I'm not really putting any extra thought around it.  In the end, I did hit around goal marathon pace, so that's always a plus. I will note that once I got home from the workout, my left hamstring was ridiculously tight so I rolled it and had Garrettt do some work on it.  I'm hoping it's just from the slippery boards and nothing a deep massage can't fix.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week in Review

75 Miles
1 Workout
11.5 MLR
8K PR in 26:45
16 miles Long run
0 Days Off

This week was absolutely perfect as I ended it $750 richer and one whole minute faster in the 8k.  My workout on Wednesday was really tough, but I gutted through it and proved that I can indeed run faster than 5:25 pace for almost 5 miles.  CIM is only two weeks out and I'm feeling optimistic about the race!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Main Street Crit 8k Recap

Goal #1:  Top 3 and at least $500 cash
Goal #2:  PR (Sub-27:45)
Goal #3:  26:xx

All 3 goals
3.5 miles warmup with strides & drills
8k race in 26:45, 2nd place, $750, results
3.2 miles cool down for ~11.5 miles
Splits for each lap: :31, 2:47, 2:52, 2:55, 2:57, 2:57, 2:59, 2:58, 2:59, 2:55

I walked away from this race with a one minute PR and $750 cash, so there's a lot to be happy about. Going into the race, I knew that Joan Tangwar from the half two week's ago would most likely be here since she discovered that Columbia has some of the best prize money races around. Other than that, I really had no idea what the competition would look like.  I did know that I could control only my training and execute my race plan, which was to go out semi controlled and to try to pick off as many people as possible.

After an early Thanksgiving celebration with my parents and Garrett, we jumped in the car for the quick drive to Columbia.  I scoped out my competition, which at this point seemed to be limited to just guys.  At one point, I saw Allison Grace (former Zap Fitness member) and a couple unfamiliar faces.  After my first lap of warmup, I watched as several Africans, including Joan and three other women, climbed out of a ten-passenger van.  They all come from the Chapel Hill Marathon Guide team, and I just hoped that I could beat at least half of them.  After a longer warmup, we got escorted over the start line and I situated myself right in between Joan's posse and Allison Grace.  I exchanged a couple words with Allison before we were off.

As expected, the Chapel Hill group all took off like crazy, and Allison and I settled into a nice rhythm for the first lap (only 8 more to go!).  I had no idea what my time meant and decided to disregard it for the rest of the race.  After the first lap, I passed Allison and then set my eyes on Joan, who was up ahead.  It took me two more laps to catch up to her, and I finally passed her on the 4th lap.  She didn't even respond when I passed her, so I knew she was hurting.  After I passed Joan, there was only one more woman to pass to be in first place (or so I thought--I actually was in third place at this point, but the lead woman was so far ahead I didn't even know she was there).  After the 4th lap, I was about 6 seconds behind the next woman, and by the 8th lap, I was only 2 seconds behind.  During the 9th lap, I contemplated sitting on her shoulder for a bit, but then, after a quick battle ensued, I accelerated on one of the turns and effectively dropped her.  At the same time, I began to get lapped by the lead male runners and I fretted that it would be my female competitors, but it wasn't.  As I passed through for the bell lap, the male runners who had just finished in 4th place had collapsed right in front of me, so I had to hop over them to continue on my merry way.  I caught the time on the clock--around 23:50 something, so I realized that I had quite a good chance of breaking 27:00 for the first time.  My stomach hurt a little bit on that last lap and I wasn't sure if I needed to vomit or something else.  Fortunately, neither happened, and I was able to keep my early Thanksgiving lunch in my stomach.

As I rounded the final turn into the finish, I thought for sure that I had won and smiled very big in the final stretch, both for my "win" and my PR.  After I came through, Garrett congratulated me on $750, and I said, "NO, $1000."  That's when I found out that I was actually second and that the leader had been about 30 seconds ahead of me.  Regardless, I was still very pleased.  It's nice to start my taper on such a high note and with such a big PR in the 8k.  I know that these shorter races are much different than the marathon, but if anything, they've been an indicator that my fitness is where it should be and that I can execute a great marathon plan if everything falls together correctly.

I cooled down with Joan and learned a little bit about her life, which is very interesting. She has a degree in Biology but now lives in Chapel Hill and races practically every weekend.  Her legs were very tired today, which is why she couldn't respond to me today. Her whole family is still in Kenya, except for her sister.  I definitely couldn't race every weekend and left feeling very fortunate that I have a job that allows me to pay the bills and to selectively choose which races I want to peak at.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Solo Mile Repeats

2 miles @ 613-600 with 2:00 rest 3xmile @ 545-550 (1:00), 535-40 (2:00), 525-30 (3:00) 2 miles @ 613-600

2.6 mile warmup in 19:35
2 miles in 608, 605 (2:01)
5:47 (1:00) 5:36 (2:00) 5:32 (3;00)
2 miles in 559, 603
Total fast part with rest = 7.9 miles in 49:27
 2 miles cooldown in 15:00
Garmin Link

I really struggled to get out of bed for this workout this morning.  I didn't have any company, even though I fought so hard to recruit buddies.  Somehow, I woke up at 5:10AM without my alarm and spent the next 50 minutes trying to convince myself that I could work out in the afternoon.  As I contemplated if I could feasibly get the workout done before our runner girls' night out, Cicero began to knock stuff off my dresser to get some attention.  So, I begrudgingly pulled myself out of bed and ran my way over the Dilworth Two Mile Speed Loop for some marathon and fast pace mile repeats.

This was definitely harder than the 2x5 miles last week, probably because of the lack of company. I saw Anne Marie and Joey so that motivated me because I knew I couldn't look like a wimp in front of them. The first MP miles were uneventful, easy and tedious. For the faster mile repeats, I wanted to get 10 seconds faster per mile after the first repeat. I  achieved my goal for the 2nd repeat, quite honestly, it felt hard.  I fretted about the third and final fast repeat, but decided to choose a different route so that I had other things to focus on.  I took at least 6 turns in the last interval because I wanted to mirror the Crit race on Saturday, that will have 36 turns in the whole race.   If I hadn't chosen a course full of turns, I probably would have run sub 5:30, but I just didn't have that speed in me today. After the 3rd fast mile, I felt like I had just raced a 5k and stopped for 40 seconds and walked. Phew, that was a tough one, and I couldn't help but wonder how the hell I would be able to run sub-5:30 at the 8k race on Saturday.

The best part of the workout though was running the final two miles at marathon pace and feeling like it was a walk in the park.   After a 5:32 mile, running 600 flat felt like a piece of cake. That's not to say that I wasn't thrilled when I was finally done with the entire workout. I was very thrilled to be done, got water at Rebecca's porch and ran home.

What I learned in this workout is that it is MUCH easier to run with other people and that, for my own mental sanity, I really need to find a good group at Cal to run with so that they help me stay motivated and excited throughout the whole race.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Week in Review

87+ miles
13.5 miles MLR
2x5 miles workout @ 603 average
22 Mile Prog. Run @ 6:40 average
8 Runs
0 Days Off
1 Lift Session

After a much needed down time last week, I came into this week feeling fresh and excited for the workouts.  I took advantage of the federal holiday on Monday and got in almost 14 miles with Laurie and Pezz at a brisk pace before setting my sights on the rest of the week. I felt good on my workouts and strong on my progression long run, gradually decreasing the pace from 712--6:51--6:31--6:13 for each five mile segment before enjoying a nice two mile cool down.  All of my achilles issues have gone away as I continued to ice, get massaged and perform my own ART on my tight calves.  I'm just three short weeks out from CIM and my excitement is just as strong as it was eight weeks ago.  Now, I'm really working on what I want my race strategy to be and focusing on the mental tenacity that is going to be needed to achieve my goals.  Visualization is key and my focus will be on relentessly positive energy throughout these next couple of weeks and during the race.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

2x5 Miles on Sugar Creek

15-ish miles with 2x5 miles @  (1st set) 6:05-6:13 and (2nd set) either same as 1st set or as fast as 5:58-6:03 average

2.2 mile warmup in 23 min
2x5 Mile @ 30:32 - 615, 607, 610, 558, 602 (1 mile jog rest @ 7:30) and 29:51 - 601, 558, 602, 602, 548
2.5 mile cool down for 15.7 miles total

I finally turned on the heat in my house last night.  This makes it extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning, even if I went to sleep at 8:30PM last night.  I woke up at 5:05AM to get in this workout with Laurie and Aaron, starting at the Dilworth Speed Loop and heading down towards the Sugar Creek Greenway.  With 8+ hours of sleep, I was hoping that my legs would feel pretty darn awesome this morning.  While I hit my times prescribed and even closed my last mile as the fastest of the day, the first part of the workout didn't feel easy. 

I was very grateful for the company from Aaron and Laurie.  For the first set, we all talked the whole time and I didn't notice the cold much.  Laurie and I both commented on how relaxed Aaron looked during the hard miles.  He just ran a marathon three weeks ago and has bounced back quickly.  After the first set, both Laurie and I commented that the 6:00s we were running really felt like 5:50.  It could very well have been the combination of the half last week, the cold and the dark that made us feel like poo.  Instead of taking the 800m rest, I grabbed a quick swig of water and then ran a slow mile for the recovery.

We began our assault on the last set with Aaron leading the charge again.  Laurie headed back home after 2 miles, so I was left with Aaron.  The temperatures seemed to drop at least five degrees during the second set and my entire lower half of my face was numb. I felt absolutely ridiculous because I could not enunciate my words, which effectively stopped any and all conversation.  Admittedly, I was pretty happy I didn't have to talk any more because it didn't feel easy.  I stopped looking at my splits during this half because I realized that Aaron was doing most of the work for me, so I could just trust him to help me hit the times.  On the last mile, he made 5-10M gap on me, but I didn't really try to close it because I felt that we were already faster than what I should be at. 

I'm obviously very pleased with hitting my goal time splits, but I can tell that I'm getting to that point in my training cycle where my body is ready for the marathon to come.  This is a great sign, because I think that I am going to peak at exactly the right time.  With a couple weeks of taper and in a competitive setting, I will be primed and ready!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Week in Review

75 Miles
1 Speek Workout
~12 Mile MLR
HM race in 1:18:45
8 Runs
0 Days Off
1 Massage
1 Greenapple ART Session

This was a little bit of a down week since I had a sore Achilles coming into the week.  Fortunately, all worries dissolved away after I completed a speed workout and a half marathon race without a ruptured Achilles.  I got in an extra run for the week by jumping in the Noda Brewing run in support of the 2014 CRC Board Candidates.  Just when I thought that I wouldn't have any running partners for my workouts or long runs any more, Laurie jumped right in.  She helped me with my workout on Tuesday and also the half marathon.  I know that next week she's planning on being my trusty sidekick as I grind out these last couple weeks of marathon specific training.  All in all, I am very pleased with where my fitness lies and am excited to toe the starting line of Cal International Marathon in just four short weeks (and very excited to bask in the Hawaiian sun shortly thereafter)!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Governor's Cup Half Race Recap

Goal #1: Prize money
Goal #2: Race pace simulation (6:00-6:13)

3+ miles warmup
Half Marathon in 1:18:45, 4th place (3rd place tie with Laurie)
3.5 miles cool down for 20 miles total
Splits: 5:59, 608 (hill), 549, 604, 551, 601, 559, 555, 621 (uphill), 559, 600, 546 (nice downhill), 623 (uphill), :37

Laurie and I knew going into the race that the goal was to either (1) try to win if it meant we didn't have to go balls to the wall or (2) run a good tempo at goal marathon pace. We found out on Thursday before the race that Joan Tangwar was going to be there.  Joan beat me at the Heart and Sole Women's 5 Miler back in April.  She beat me by 20+  seconds in that race, but I also gave up.  On a good day, I know that Laurie and I could beat Joan. To complicate matters, another African was added on Friday night before the race.  We didn't find out until we got to the start line on Saturday morning.  Laurie is four weeks out from her lifetime marathon PR and I am four weeks from my goal marathon.  Personally, I do not like doing a half marathon all out in the middle of a marathon training cycle, so Laurie and I agreed at the start line to run together at a comfortable tempo pace.

With temps in the 50s, the gun sounded and the runners were off!  For the first mile, I wanted to force Joan to lead because she sat on me for the first two miles at the April race.  To my pleasure, Joan and her friend took the lead through a flat first half and then a nice downhill for the second half. I felt like we were absolutely crawling on that downhill, and I could tell that they wanted Laurie and I to take the lead.  We finally acquiesced after we passed the mile marker right on pace for 6:00.  Laurie and I led together, chatting away, until about 2.5 miles when the two took off to effectively drop us.  I thought it was kind of cool that obviously the two Kenyans were working together and so were the two Charlotteans.  I was happy that both groups had a buddy.  As they passed us, Laurie told me I could "go for it," but I laughed off her offer. 

For the next 10.5 miles, Laurie and I ran side-by-side at a comfortable clip with conversation at every mile, except up miles 9 and 13.  The course was actually pretty great through 9 miles, with a gently rolling, net downhill, and small steep uphills interspersed between.  Coincidentally, this is very similar to how Cal will look in the first 9 miles.  And that's where the similarities stop.  In our race, mile 9 was entirely uphill.  Suddenly all that fun I'd been having was thrown on the street along with the water cup I took a swig from.   My legs felt zapped and the conversation stopped...although I think Laurie could have continued a conversation if I had initiated it.  After the hill, I caught a second wind as the course evened out and offered a couple of downhills.  Life came back to my legs and I felt good again.  We were still hitting 6:00 splits for the flat portions of miles 10 and 11.  There was a very nice downhill on mile 12, but my appreciation for the downhill was short lived.  Mile 13 had a killer uphill that was very steep and positioned in quite possibly the worst place in a half marathon.  Laurie and I climbed and climbed, made a right turn...and continued to climb.  Soon, the terrain leveled out and we could see the finish.  In the final straightaway, Laurie asked, "Hands?" and I said, "oh, YEAH!"... And so we held hands for our 3rd and 4th place finish.

Overall, I am very happy with this race because it was a challenging course with those two big hills.  As a great comparison point, I ran the Kiawah Half a couple weeks before the Trials, and ran a 1:18:50, with the help of Aaron as a pacer.  That race felt MUCH harder than this one today, so I know that my strength and endurance are at a higher level.  Given that Laurie and I talked the entire time, it's indicative that the pace wasn't laboring for me (or her).  Also, my Achilles felt fantastic, but I still wore my compression sock as a precautionary measure.  In fact, both Laurie and I agreed that our legs felt better AFTER the half than before.  I guess the hills helped stretch our our legs a little bit?! 

For my own personal journal, I didn't take any gels so I really need to practice fueling in my next long run.  I also tried out my marathon outfit, which I absolutely love.  Can't wait to rock it at CIM in just four weeks!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

5x(1000m-400m) on the Speed Loop

5-6x(1000m @ 3:29-3:34-200m rest-400m @ 78-80 -400m rest) for 12 miles total

3 mile warmup
5xabove with splits of:
1000m-(200m rest)-400m-(400m rest)
3:34-(69)-79-(2:06) mile in 602
3:34-(62)-79-2:15 mile in 5:55
3:34-(66)-79-2:11 mile in 5:59
3:34-(68)-79-2:08 mile in 6:01
3:33-(69)-79- mile in 6:01
6 miles total in 38:51 with the rest included
3 mile cool down for 12 miles total

With a sore achilles on Saturday, I was a littler nervous going into this workout because I wasn't sure how it would hold up in the cold and with a little bit of speed.  However, I hadn't felt anything on my runs on Sunday and Monday, so I crossed my fingers that the sore achilles was just a temporary ache that cropped up in the peak of my marathon training cycle.

At 530AM this morning, I ran to the speed loop to meet Laurie and Mike.  The plan was to run the 1200m Dilworth Speed loop for the 1000m-200m part and then to run straight into the 400m fast, turn around and jog right back to the start...and repeat five times.  For each 1000m interval, I started out pretty slower (~88s for 400m) and then made a move to pick it up to hit the slowest end of my pace target. Laurie commented on my tactics, which I hadn't really noticed at first.  Laurie would drop after 800m since she still is recovering from Chicago.

The 400s I was hoping to be faster, but right now my 5k pace is technically around 80s based on my 5k time from August, so I was pleased with my ability to hit right below that.  Admittedly, it was definitely a shock to the system to run 5:20 pace, but I felt very strong and held perfect form. Laurie also commented on my form...Maybe she's trying to boost my ego?

Overall this workout felt really good and I purposely chose not to run a 6th interval, not because I was tired, but rather because I want to truly take a down week.  I didn't have any achilles issues, but I still want to be smart and take it easy during this week when I have the chance.  Laurie and I have the Governor's Cup Half Marathon on Saturday in Columbia, SC, where we hope to tie and take home a nice prize purse so I know I'll get in some good work there.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Week in Review

85 Miles
7 Runs
0 Doubles
3x3 Miles Success
23.6 mile long run in 2:45:00 @ 7:00 pace
1 Lift Session

This wraps up a five-week streak of 80+ mile weeks for me.  Last week I wasn't really feeling the full effects of marathon training on my body, but this week was definitely different.  My left calf and achilles are tight, and, albeit minor, I want to monitor it appropriately so that it does not lead to anything more serious.  I got a massage with Adrienne on Friday and had Garrett scrape me on Saturday...and on today's run, I didn't feel tight any more.

All my workouts were completed within the target pace ranges that Terry had suggested, so I'm really happy about where things are progressing.  My "time-on-the-feet" long run was a little bit quicker than Terry had outlined, but I still completed 2 hours and 45 minutes on my feet, almost enough to get 24 miles.  I didn't care enough to run the extra two minutes to get a full 24 miles.  I figured the faster pace outweighed the need to round out to an even number.

Looking forward to a half marathon race next weekend in Columbia, SC with Laurie before one final week of hardcore training.  Cal International Marathon is just five weeks away, and I feel ready!