Jan 28, 2010

The Standard

This week set the standard of how I want my training to go for the next month or so. Sixty miles on four runs. I did a 20, a 15, a 10 of speedwork and another 15. Hopefully I can do that for the next month or so to build a base and then I'll begin a couple months where I cut back on the mileage but speed up the pace and build back up to that mileage again at the faster pace. That's the plan anyway.

So the nitty gritty for the week went like this: I already blogged about the 20 miler on Monday and then I did 15 on Wednesday. I tell you what, that one really beat me up and I don't know why. I'm suspecting it was my shoes which have about 450 miles on them. I ran in the evening and then all night long my legs were sore and it even woke me up during the night a few times. The next day I was wiped out and had to nap even. Then on Thursday evening I planned to do 10 with 6 one mile repeats. I honestly didn't know how I'd do them and didn't really think I would but I guess I just kept plugging away. My active recovery (walking/jogging) between miles was closer to 3:30-3:40 than the usual 3:00 but I don't mind that. So 6x1 mile at around 6:18 (going to try to speed that up some). Finally today, Saturday, I did 15 easy miles at 8:27 and was feeling much better.

Weight update: Okay, since you've been along for the ride this far I'll give you the full update. Marathon morning, Jan. 9th I can only assume I weighed 157. I was at a hotel so didn't actually weigh myself but that is about where I was for the week. So, marathon that day, nothing the next day, 12.4 the next and sick the 4th day. Next morning I was 150.8. That was about 2.5 weeks ago and now I'm still only back up to 153 as of this morning. Maybe that's the new baseline.

All in: Wednesday 15 at 8:14
Thursday 10 at 8:36 with 6x1 at 6:17
Saturday 15 at 8:27

Jan 25, 2010

Marathon Medal

The Little Rock marathon unveiled their medal today. See here. I'll save you some reading though. This medal is 7.75 inches by 6 inches and weighs 1.67 pounds. Compare that to normal medals which average 2.5 inches and 3 ounces. Little Rock prides itself on having a large medal, could you tell. Also, the medal reflects its focus on going green for the marathon. Not sure what steps they'll take to do so but I for one wholeheartedly support that.

I have to say that a few days ago I realized I have another marathon in just about 3 weeks and kind of got excited about that. No burnout yet anyway.

My weight seems to be creeping back up but slowly. I'm back up 2 of the 6 or so that I lost. Not that it matters, just interesting.

Today I was on the treadmill for my 20 miler. I used a pack of sport beans for energy which is nutritionally the same as a pack of gu. I like the flavors and spread the beans out from mile 10 to mile 19 but for some reason they didn't seem to give me the boost that a gel pack (what I usually use) does. The last three miles were kind of a grind. Maybe that was because I kicked it down to 8:30 miles instead of 8:40's. I'll go back to the gels in the future.

All in: 20 miles at 8:41

Jan 22, 2010

How My Week Went

It turns out that I was able to salvage a pretty good week of running after my slow start and disjointed schedule. The slow start was due to my illness last week and just recovering from that. The schedule was moved around because the kids had Monday off from school and tomorrow (Saturday) I have an all day winter camp event with the cub scouts. That should be fun though. I just hope it isn't too cold and wet.

So I ended up the week with 56.1 miles on 4 runs. Tuesday I started out for 15 but ended up with 16.2 miles. Wednesday was 10 miles but that also included speedwork. I did six mile repeats in the 6:15-6:20 range. Finally today I again set out for 15 miles but kind of figured I get in a little more than that. At the end I had done 17.5. All my running was done on the treadmill this week. Next week I'll be shooting for 60 miles on four runs.

Something interesting about the last week: from the morning of the MS Blues marathon to the day after the day I was really sick, 4 days, I lost about 6 pounds. That's a caloric deficit of close to 5,250 calories per day. Of course conventional wisdom says most of that would be water weight especially given how sick I was but now that I'm fully recovered I've only gained about 1/2 a pound back. That surprises me especially because I think I'm fully hydrated. The potty test shows that my color is good, pretty pale.

All in: Tuesday 16.2 at 8:47
Wednesday 10 at 8:24 (mile repeats)
Friday 17.5 at 8:35

Jan 17, 2010

Coming Around

I've been well enough the last three days to start running again but just barely. I've been wiped out by all my runs and usually need to take a nap during the day to make up for them. This cold/illness is lingering I'm sure, because I am running but I guess I just can't bear not to run even if it is sloooooooow and tiring. Just muddling through it I guess.

Another tidbit that I've noticed is that our treadmill is way off from the ones at the club, which I believe are correct. When I run at home my pace is 20-40 seconds slower. Also I have to convert from metric since we brought the treadmill home with us from Japan. That is why I sometimes run 12.4 miles which = 20k. Maybe our treadmill has a slight slope to it which makes it harder. I'll have to check that out.

Okay, end of boring post but just wanted to let you know that I'm slowly coming around.

All in: Friday 5 at 10:03
Saturday 10 at 9:18
Sunday 12.4 at 9:41

Jan 11, 2010

More Marathon Thoughts

This picture must have been towards the end because that is the only time I took my hat off.

My final placing was 93 out of 559 runners, top 17%; 19 out of 58 in my age group, top 33% and 80 out of 361 men, 22%. I passed 29 people after the halfway point and was passed by 5.

I forgot to mention on my original post that I was on a plane at the airport less than 2 hours after finishing the marathon. That includes time to walk back to the hotel, take an ice bath and shower. Quick trip!

This is a picture of the medal they gave. They also gave a harmonica emblazened with "MS Blues Marathon". Kind of cool. The kids like playing with it anyway.

Recovery seemed to go pretty well, for a few days anyway. On Monday I ran 12.4 miles albeit at a slow pace, 9:14, and it wasn't easy. Then Tuesday I was stricken by a nasty stomach virus that had me coming and going if you know what I mean. So I didn't run on Wednesday although I really, really, really, really, really wanted to and was sorely tempted. Today seems to be worse than yesterday. Hopefully tomorrow and Saturday? If so I still might be able to salvage something for January.

All in Monday 12.4 miles at 9:14

Jan 9, 2010

MS Blues Marathon

First of all I must say that the MS Blues marathon is a nice little marathon. The fan support was a little lacking but I think there would have been more if it wasn't 20 degrees out. The volunteers were great though, very enthusiastic. I was warm enough but I was running. I imagine they had to be freezing just standing there. A couple nice touches at the start was the national anthem being played in a bluesy way on an electric guitar and a simultaneous start with a race by military personnel in Iraq that was played on a big screen.

I stayed at one of the recommended hotels and that made the logistics of the weekend very easy. They provided a shuttle to and from the airport, were just a few blocks from the expo and start/finish line and provided runners 20% off their pasta bar the night before the race. I met other runners that stayed there too and everybody was very friendly.

The cold created a few problems during the race. The aid stations became slippery as people spilled water around the tables and it froze. Almost all the cups of water that were handed to me had a thin layer of ice on top. A few spots on the road that normally had standing water were also frozen over. None of this was a big issue, just had to be a little more aware than normal sometimes.

I decided to wear running tights, stocking hat instead of headband and three layers on top. One tight non sleeve shirt, a long sleeve shirt and a tight-fitting pullover. The pullover has a small pocket in the back that I realized was stretchy enough to hold 6 gels. It was a bit floppy but didn't matter too much. I left my hotel room about 15 minutes before the start of the race and in spite of my cold I felt pretty good. I was there in plenty of time to let my Garmin acquire its satellites and stood by the portable heaters. As the race started I easily settled into an 8:30 pace but as I was feeling good that kept creeping faster. I did my best to try to hold back the pace though as I kept thinking that I wanted to be able to continue training next week. Five miles came in at 41:41, 8:20 pace.

During mile six I stopped to take a potty break. Probably a result of the belated attempt to sufficiently hydrate the night before. I think I ended up drinking too much too fast. Anyway, after relieving myself and walking through water stops I was still keeping up a satisfactory pace. The first 8-9 miles were fairly rolling but after that there was a long flat section. Around mile 9 for some reason I hit a mental low point. Not sure exactly why but the thought of running for almost 4 hours seemed to get to me. This has happened before during marathons but I just run through it because, what else am I going to do? Second five miles were 42:34, 8:30 pace.

From the elevation map on the website I expected the hills to hit at about the halfway point. I later found out that although they changed the course this year, they didn't update the elevation map. So I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't overly hilly. I hit the halfway point at about 1:50 and after another potty break and a gel, I had a nice positive mental surge. I realized I was halfway done and all I had to do was a two hour half marathon to meet my goal. Even if I totally fell apart and did a 2:10 half I would be in my goal range. Feeling good. Third five miles was 42:35, 8:31 pace.

During the second half of the race I generally passed more people than passed me although there were a few people that I played cat and mouse with. The miles through the teens seemed to fly by and soon there were only single digits to go and it was easy to start counting them down. For quite a few miles we ran through a nice wooded neighborhood. Occasionally people would be out to cheer on the runners and quite often they'd have a firepit in the front yard to keep warm. Mostly I kept thinking that I was glad I didn't have to rake their leaves in the fall. Fourth five miles was 43:03, 8:36 pace.

The last part of the race was where the hills hit, and they hit pretty hard. Although I knew my overall pace would slow because of the hills I still felt pretty strong and was happy to be able to push the pace a bit in a few places so as not to totally fall apart. Miles 21-24 were tough and I really had to mentally stay focused to keep running and keep pace. I was never really hit with the time-sucking walking/jogging that can plague me towards the end of some marathons though. I kept calculating my time and kept coming up with 3:48-3:50 which I would have been very happy with. For the last 4-5 miles I didn't even walk through any of the aid stations as I wasn't sweating very much and wasn't thirsty. At mile 24 somebody said there was only one big hill left. He missed it by 3 though. Fifth 5 miles was 43:54, 8:47 pace.

The only sign I remember was from a guy playing a cowbell that I saw three times on the course. It said "Doubters can suck it." Oh yeah, for some reason I remember one for somebody named Melissa.

Somebody passed me towards the end and I praised their finishing strength. Then it occurred to me that instead I should have praised their conservative start. I think I'll do that in future marathons, when somebody passes me towards the end, instead of saying "way to finish strong" I'll say "way to start smart."

Just before mile 26 I came upon a young guy running slowly. Here's our dialogue:

"Who puts a @#$%^ hill like this at the end of a marathon?"
"Dude, don't let it get to you."
"No, you c'mon, lets beat this hill."

But it was too late; the hill had already beaten him mentally and I never saw him again.

Shortly after that I passed the 26 mile mark at 3:43 and realized I could beat 3:45 if I picked it up a bit. So I did and finished in 3:44:50.

I'm quite happy with my time since I was was shooting for 3:50 but expecting closer to 4:00. My cold didn't seem to hinder me too much although there were a few times when I had to cough quite a bit. Just happy that I felt strong throughout and I think it was at a pace that will allow me to continue training next week.

All in 26.2 at 8:35.

Jan 7, 2010


As my first marathon of the year approaches I think it is time to blog about my goals for 2010 and my plan for this marathon. I'll list them in order of importance.

1) Run a marathon in every month of the year. Pretty self explanatory and well known since it has been on my blog for several months now. It is a stretch and I think my odds of doing it are less than 50% depending on my abilities/travel/family or other commitments. Something to shoot for though.

2) Get a marathon PB sometime during the year. When I got my current marathon PB I was running really well; in fact I got my 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon PB's within 2.5 weeks. Honestly I don't know if I'll be able to run that well again but if I can then it should be this year while I'm putting on all of these miles. My marathon time was really hindered by the half marathon that I ran two weeks prior and didn't fully recover from otherwise it would have been much faster. That is the only reason that I think I can improve on my current marathon PB.

3) Race well in several smaller, shorter races/triathlons throughout the year. If I don't have other things to look at I'm afraid the marathoning will get stale and I would get burnt out. I'd like to do 2-3 sprint triathlons.

4) Finish all the marathons in under 4 hours. This is not really a big deal, just something I'd like to do. Currently I have 3 marathons within a minute or so of 3:20, three from 3:50 to 4:00 and two slower than that (one I was running with a friend and one I ran about 70 miles in the previous 3 months). Not that I have to make excuses for running 4:00+ marathons but I guess I do.

5) Run a negative split marathon. Honestly, I don't think they make these. I'm supposed to run 20 miles and then get faster? I don't see it.

Finally I also really want to support my wife and son (9)and get them to do some more races/triathlons. My son has done 5k's and triathlons and I'd like him to do more. My wife has done 5k's, has her eyes on 10k's and just maybe, even further. If we all have enough fun even my daughter (6) could get into the picture. She has done one kid's triathlon.

So those are my goals and now my plan for this weekend. I originally thought I'd go out at 8:30-8:40, a comfortable pace, walk through the water stops to keep hydrated and then finish around 3:50, 8:46 per mile. But now the weather forecast is for 20 degrees and a breeze at the start and warming up to mid 20's by the time I finish. Even coming from MN that is not optimal. So now I'll have to wear gloves (and get gel over them), tights, long sleeves and jacket and a hat/headband. I usually carry all my gels in the pockets of my Soark shorts. But with tights I won't be able to do that. I do have pockets in my jacket but they would flop around a lot more right in my stomach area. I could wear my shorts over my tights but I have always thought that looks goofy. Add to all of that the fact that I still have my cold and it seems to have moved from my head down to my lungs. We all know that isn't good. Today it took me about half an hour to clear out all of the nasty green stuff. So I guess things don't look promising and I'll definitely not get goal #5 and could very seriously lose #4 for the entire year. Good thing those aren't the important ones.

I'll have a race report next week.

All in: Wednesday 10 at 8:32 (and it felt good, kept wanting to go faster)

Jan 4, 2010

Off and running...

Finally I felt good enough today to get out and run. Not actually out since it is 0 degrees but I did put 15 miles on the treadmill. Legs felt great as you would expect with three days off. They kept wanting to go faster but my lungs and head said no. I still need to take it easy and get 100% over this cold after all.

I don't really feel like I can taper going into this marathon or have a rest week coming out of it. I'm hoping I can train right through it actually. It will just be like a well supported long run. Usually I take 1 or no gels during my long runs but I'll take several during the marathon so hopefully my recovery won't take too long. If I need to have a taper and recovery week surrounding each marathon I do then I'll only be able to train for 2 weeks out of each month. So this first marathon will be an interesting test of how well I'll be able to train in the days before and after it.

All in 15 miles at 8:42

Jan 3, 2010


2009 was a pretty good year of running for me. I finished off December with 204 miles which is my highest monthly total since December of 2007. For the year I had 1,500 miles which is pretty good considering I was doing a lot of biking and swimming from March through June as I was training for a half iron triathlon. I did two marathons, qualified for Boston, one half marathon and 3 5k's although only one was run seriously. For 2010 I have new goals but I'll address them in a later post.

I am getting off to a rather slow start to this year though. I haven't run yet! Unfortunately I still have a wicked head cold that I am trying to get over but I am feeling a little better now. I'm hoping to run 15 tomorrow on my way to 50 for the week which shouldn't be too hard to get to since I'll be running over half of that on Saturday.

Happy new year everybody!