Monday, September 19, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon

September 18, 2011  8am

The following is an excerpt from my training log:

Weather:  Perfect Temp… mild winds up to 13-14mph.    Got a great warmup in:  walked a mile at 6:15 am so Monica could get some coffee, got back to hotel, ran 2.5 miles easy on treadmill from 8:00 - 7:30 pace, did a couple of light strides, stretched, jogged to start line with some more strides.   Perfect warmup.  Felt great.

mile 1    4:58       felt relaxed, but fast... tons of people ahead and behind, easy to draft, easy to move around
mile 2    5:05       settled in… let the massive group get away
mile 3    5:09       trying to find rhythm… running solo or maybe with 1 other guy, running good lines
mile 4    5:06       top ladies caught up… got in a better groove
mile 5    5:04       hanging with ladies (+10 other guys!)
mile 6    5:11       fell away from group (quads began tying up.. flooding with lactate…way early)
mile 7    5:12       slowly melted off off group
mile 8    5:16.5   struggling
mile 9    5:25       really struggled, although there was a slight uphill before two 90 degree turns and a bridge
mile 10  5:15       downhill mile, started to feel better
mile 11  5:10       got in a good groove, trying to embrace “the suck”, which it did
mile 12  5:15       still fighting
mile 13  5:24.5    got my ass kicked… legs ran out of juice.  heart rate too high; not my day.
last .1      :35    

gun time 1:08:13   chip time 1:08:11

today was a 7 out of 10.   I wanted to run a full 90 seconds faster, but i’m proud of the way i continued to fight.  heart was funny, maybe some arrhythmia around the 8-10 mile marks of race.. would have been interesting to see a monitor (but i hate wearing those during races)   felt OK on warmdown.  Another thing that strikes me is in training during tempo runs, my first mile is always my slowest.   I think running that first mile fast is fine, but I think I'd be more ready for it if I practiced the same way. 

I still feel really good about my upcoming run in Chicago.  Truth be told, I haven’t felt great since Lost Lake.  Lost Lake is the sort of race that can take it out of you:  seeing as how i hammered the last 3 miles of the downhill there so hard, there’s probably a correlation between SORE QUADS during the race and how they felt today.  Katie(my massage therapist) remarked how stiff and inflexible they were on Tuesday.   I came into this race on the heels of 87 miles over the last 8 days, so although I was more rested than usual, I was really knackered from the week before.  A week ago I felt really lousy at the end of my 22 mile run, so all things considered, I might even say I ran well.   I can't help but think of Ryan Hall running a 1:03:53 at the NYC Half 4 weeks before running a 2:04:58 leading up to the 2011 Boston Marathon.    This was not the race I am training for:   Chicago is.   I can't wait.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Goal of a Sub 2:19

In 2007, leading up to the 2008 Olympic Trials, the "B" Standard for qualifying was sub 2:22.  To run sub 2:22, one must average 5:22 miles for 26.2 miles.  Running into a headwind in Boston in April 2007, I knew it would be tough for me to achieve the standard.  I rolled through the half-marathon in 1:11:00, but couldn't maintain the pace up the Newton hills, nor down the hills all the way down to Boyleston St.  I ended up with a PR of 2:24:47, but that was as close as I came to running under 2:22.

Before the 2008 US Olympic Men's Marathon Trials, there were only 47 US runners who ran under 2:19:00 in the preceding 3 years leading to the event.   As of today, September 1st, there are 65 American men who have run under 2:19:00, but now there is no B Standard of 2:22 (No B Standard which allowed an additional 130 runners to participate in the '08 Trials ).   Now, I have to say, 150+ American men vying for 3 olympic marathon spots is ridiculous when it's common knowledge to anyone in the know that really those 3 spots are going to be taken by 3 out of perhaps 15 very good runners.   I don't have a problem with seeing the B Standard of 2:22 gone.   In the last four years, more American men have broken 2:19 than the preceding four by 50%.  Now instead of having to average faster than 5:22 per mile, one has to run faster than 5:18 per mile if they wish to toe the line with the nation's best marathoners this January in Houston.  Below is a link with all the men that have qualified to date (note:  some have also qualified based on the merit of a sub 1:05 Half-Marathon, or a sub 28:45 10K.   At the moment, I am not one of those speed demons)

Flash forward to 2011.   April 18, Boston Marathon.   Boston Marathon revisited.   The wind blows in the opposite direction.   The wind blows at the backs of all runners, and the world's fastest marathon ever run is completed by Geoffrey Mutai in 2:03:02.  Ryan Hall runs 2:04:58.   Jerome Ross runs a PR of 2:24:32.   Now, a PR is great, but considering the day, and also considering the day in Boston in 2007, I have to say a sub 2:20 would have been on par with my pre-existing PR.  To run under 2:19 on a normal day, there is still plenty of work for me to do.

It is five weeks to Chicago, and I have done plenty of work.   The last fifteen weeks, I have averaged 92+ miles.   I have been extremely fortunate to have avoided injury and major illness.  Running over 100 miles in a week is no longer a big deal.  A week in the 80s is a recovery week.  I have run a 10K PR and I have broken my course record at Lost Lake on a day not meant for course records.  Still there is work to do.  My taper doesn't begin in earnest until after the Philadelphia Half Marathon, which is September 18th:  3 weeks before Chicago.   In Philadelphia, I hope to run 13.1 miles somewhere close to 5:05 per mile pace.    This will make the 5:18 pace in Chicago feel comfortable.   Yes, there is still plenty of work to do.

Sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug

Being sick is no fun.   Three days ago on Thursday morning, I woke up with a sore throat.   Me being the only member of a four person household who had somehow escaped being hamstrung with a nasty virus that has been making the rounds, I certainly had fears that I was vulnerable and this could really take me out.

Generally, when I get sick, I stay sick for a couple of weeks.   Being that the Philadelphia Half is on September 18, I really felt like I needed to stop this bug in its tracks.    I was proactive, and this was how I combated it:

Thai Soup:  2 courses.  One on Friday, and one on Saturday.   I love this stuff.  Loaded with salt, and spicy Thai chili sauce, I figure anything that makes the nose run has gotta be good.  Couple that with two batches of Monica's delicious Chicken soup and well, I feel like I'm living on a liquid diet for the past few days.   

Vitamins (really didn't deviate from what I've been doing, namely taking my liquid organic multi after running, and taking a dose of Hammer Nutrition Anti-Oxidants at the end of the day).   Also I've been taking liquid Vitamin D on a mostly regular basis.  I've been sure not to miss my daily dose.

Sleep.   I mean a lot of sleep.  I've been lousy at getting naps in the past 15 weeks, but the past 3 days I got three naps in.    Yesterday, I slept 11 hours.   I think this helped a lot.

Easy Runs.  It is not uncommon for my easy pace to drop down under 6:15 pace.   I made sure that the past three days, my heart rate stayed under 125 for easy runs, and for several of them, this meant running at 7:15 pace or slower.  Also, the past few days, I've done all my runs on the treadmill.   This gives me an escape parachute in case I'm really not feeling well, and want to quit on my run early.

Today, I finally felt like all my vitality had returned, although warming up for my Tempo-Long-Tempo workout, I had my doubts.   I told myself if things were bad (HR high, or general lousy feeling), I could pull the plug.   After my first Tempo mile, I really didn't feel good, but rationalized that I could make it through the 2 miles of Tempo, then evaluate how I felt.   I ended up feeling better and better, and can now hang my hat not only on a "Keystone" workout, but also a "Keystone" week.    Considering I ran Lost Lake 1 week ago, and had a very solid workout on Wednesday(17 miles w/ 2x3miles Tempo in 5:07 pace), this has been a very productive 8 days (128 miles with 3 great quality days).

Workout today:  
2 miles easy 14:41
2 miles of strides 13:07
2 x 2 miles Tempo (400 jog between): 10:20 - 10:18
6 miles easy (6:27 pace)
3 miles Tempo 15:20 (5:10 - 4:58 pace)
1 mile easy 7:27

I'm the windshield again.