5 Thoughts Before the World Half Marathon Championships

It has been a while since I have sat down and wrote what has been on my mind, so this blog is it. If you read the title, you know that I am going to give you 5 of my thoughts before I get on an airplane bound for the World Half Marathon Championships tonight. Well, without further adieu, here are my five thoughts:

  1. Team USA Gear!!

    Team USA Gear!!

    I am very excited to run this race! There are so many reasons for why am excited. The first reason is that I am heading to continental Europe for the first time. I have been to the British Isles, way back in 2006, but never to the “mainland.” Everyone that goes overseas always seems to have such a great time. They rave about the food, beer, and the people. Another reason that I am excited is that this race will be my first (not my last) USA senior team. It is a point of pride for all runners to put on the jersey of their native country, as it shows that they are one of the best runners in their country. But for me it is special because I know that I have earned it. Last fall, Pete and I were creating my fall/winter road racing schedule, and we came up with a plan to finish the season at the USA Half Marathon Championships. This was because it was the main selector for the World Half Team. Making the team reaffirms the idea that I progressing towards my dream of being the best runner I can. Ultimately, the dream includes representing the USA at the biggest stage: the Olympics. Since the Olympics only happens every four years, I will try to make as many USA teams until then.

  2. I am confident coming into the race. Coming into the USA Half Champs, I was very confident, but still was weary with running my first half marathon. Having never run a half marathon before, I did not know what to expect. This time I will know what it is like to race 13.1 miles, and I can mentally prepare for it. Looking back at my training logs, I know that my training has gone almost 100 percent to plan. My workouts have been better than before, I have been feeling much better in general, and overall life is good, which indicates that I am going to have a fantastic race in Copenhagen. Last weekend I had a disappointing race at Gate River, but one race does not make a season. Pete has constantly reminded me that while you can fake a fast mile or a 5km, you cannot fake a fast half marathon. So, I am headed to Denmark knowing that I am “oiled, greased, and ready to roll,” as legendary Western State Coach Duane Vandenbusche would say.
  3. Road Racing is so much fun! It may be the fact that in school, like most collegiate runners, I never did much road racing; maybe the occasional turkey trot, but there is not specific season dedicated to road racing. Since turning professional, there are road races all through out the year, and the falls have turned into an unofficial road racing season. One of the great things about road races is that there are so many people to meet, and I have already made some friends. Heading to the World Champs, I will be able to meet even more people! Another thing I like about road racing is that it is different from both track and cross country. I have run both track and cross country since I started running as a sophomore in high school, but only once or twice a year I would run a road race. I view life as always changing, so road racing has been a change which has energized my running. For example, there are so many more distances to race, including races longer than 10,000m, which seem to be better suited for my self. Also, I have had quite a bit of success running the roads. I mean, who does not like to be successful? Starting with Gate River Run last year, I have had placed top 10 at 4 national road championships, with two of them being in the top 5. With all of that said, I want to continue to run road races, but will always step back to the track and the grass. It seems that all of the best runners in US history, Bill Rogers, Frank Shorter, Alberto Salazar, Bob Kennedy, have always raced all three areas of running.
  4. I am glad to be back in Blowing Rock. Every year, Chris Borch is generous enough to donate to ZAP, which allows us to train at his alma mater, Furman University. Before I move on, I would like to say how grateful I am for the generosity that Chris and Furman University extends to ZAP by giving us this opportunity. We usually head there for five weeks right after our 6-7 week stint in Florida. The set up is fantastic. We get put up in nice apartments just off campus, allowed to use all of the athletic facilities, and most importantly get our meals at the dinning hall. There are many trails and bike paths right from our front door that are great for running. And on top of everything else, we get to train with another professional group, Furman Elite. But by the end of the trip, we all seem anxious to get back home. For me, I decided that I wanted to come back a week early to get some time to be holed up in the mountains before I headed off to Europe.
    Cowpens National Battlefield. From the perspective of where the Americans were standing.

    Cowpens National Battlefield. From the perspective of where the Americans were standing.

    The trip home was a fun one as I headed to Cowpens National Battlefield (I am a history nerd), but there was a feeling of ease when I pulled up to the long driveway of ZAP. After being away for over three months. I was finally home. In previous blogs, I have mentioned with all of the travel that it is nice it is to be rooted to one place for a bit. Coming back to ZAP, I got that feeling immediately, but unfortunately I am only at ZAP for less than a week. Maybe after this trip I will have some time to enjoy home, but that never happens, as there is always another race to run.

    Fog over Blackberry Valley

    The sunset and fog over Blackberry Valley. I’m home.

  5. How my goals have changed over the years, and will continue to change. I remember being a freshman at Western State and one of the guys on the team went to California and ran 28:44 for 10km. My first reaction was “Holy shit that is fast. That’s two 14:22’s in a row.” Little did I know that I would end up running 20 seconds faster than that in school, and can only hope that there was some freshman that year that had the same reaction for me. Over time my goals have changed to where I am able to reach goals that seemed so far off. One goal that most runners have, myself included, is to make National teams, with the Olympics the pinnacle. As a freshman, seven years ago, I would dream of running in the USA Jersey, and they only seemed like dreams back then. Now I have the opportunity to live out that dream. I know that I have not got here on my own. There have been parents, grandparents, friends, teammates, teachers, mentors, sponsors, fans, and coaches helping me the whole way. They have shared in my dreams, and while I will be the one to live that dream out, I know that there are so many people that will be cheering me on. If any of you are reading, I am grateful for all of your support. It is one of the many reasons that I run.

Annis Nin - Dreams are necessary to lifeFor anyone interested, here is a link to a live stream of the World Half Marathon Championships. I will start at 7:55am EST (5:55am for you in Colorado) on Saturday March 29.

  1. One bonus thought, courtesy of my friend/former teammate and coach, Jesse Chettle:

 

Training Log 3/16-22

Week of March 16-22

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 7 7 Long Run
Monday 11 Alter G (92%) & Core
Tuesday 17 Long Run w/ surges
Wednesday 11 6
Thursday 10
Friday 14 Workout
Saturday 10 Core
Week Total 93

 

Alter G

The Alter G Treamill

The focus of this week was to recover from the 15km. Pete decided that the best way to do this was to not workout until Friday. Until that time I was just doing miles. One thing that I did different this week was that I ran on the Alter G Treadmill on Monday. Since we are training at Furman University, we are allowed to use all of their athletic facilities, including the Alter G. The Alter G is a treadmill that uses an air chamber to allow you to run at a percentage of your body weight. To do this you have to wear a funny tutu looking garment. By allowing us to train at a lower percentage of our body weight, we are still able to get a running motion, but not put as much stress on our bodies. This is a great tool for recovering from injuries, but it can be used in normal training. Even when healthy it is important to lessen the amount of stress you have on your body at certain times. When I am at ZAP I usually am on the “G” two times a week. Typically I set the dial to 92%, which is not very low, but allows me to run “carrying” only 128 pounds, compared to my normal 140.

Tuesday was a longer run, but not quite long enough to be a normal long run. I headed up to Tuxedo Lake by myself, as everyone else had done their long run on Sunday. I thought that I sluggish and still felling the race a little bit, but I covered the first 9.5 mile loop in just over an hour. This was a pleasant surprise, and I continued to run as I felt, but with a little more spring in my stride. During this run I was doing simple one minute surges every eight minutes, which always help the run go by faster.

The American Militia and Regulars driving the British Off

The American Militia and Regulars driving the British Off

On Wednesday I made the trek from Furman back to ZAP, as I was ready to be back in the mountains for a few days. But on the way back I made a minor detour and stopped at Cowpens National Battlefield. I have always driven by the sign for the battlefield on the highway, and I always said to myself, “I need to go there since it is so close.” Well I finally followed through with that statement. Being a history major at school, I always enjoy visiting historical locations. It was very fascinating to learn about the details of the battle, and how it played into the larger picture of the Revolution. For those of you who do not know much about the Revolution, the Battle of Cowpens was one of the turning points in the War in the South. A combined force of American militia and regulars went toe to toe with the British regulars, who were considered the best soldiers at the time, and won a complete victory. Eventually, the British Army that was defeated surrendered to General Washington at Yorktown, which is considered the final major battle of the Revolution.

Friday’s Workout:

1500m, 3:30 min rest; 4/3 2:30 Down-cycles through Manor-Maze; 3 x 45sec.

4:14; 14:05 to the Manor, 33:35 Total through Manor-Maze

Friday’s workout was a pretty standard one in the Pete Rea arsenal. It was done at Moses Cone Memorial Park. Moses Cone is where we do 60-70% of our training when at ZAP. It is a great place to train. There are 25 miles worth of trails, including a 1500m loop around Bass Lake. Also there are plenty of hills to run, including a 35 minute climb from Black Bottom to the Fire Tower. It is truly a hidden running gem in the Appalachian Mountains.

For this workout I started with an opening 1500m around Bass Lake. An opening piece supposed to be run harder than a normal repetition so that there is some “junk in your legs,” as Pete would say. I ran 4:14 for this piece, which is pretty good as the lake is notoriously slow compared to other surfaces, including other dirt surfaces. After a few minutes rest I started the main portion of the workout, two sets (4/3) of 2:30 down-cycles. I bet your wondering what “down-cycles” are? Well, a down-cycle is a rep that is 2:30 minutes long and every thirty seconds you surge. The best way to run one is to start off slower than you think, as it is easier to get fast from a slower pace. In between reps you take a 90 seconds float, which is not a slush jog, but around everyday pace. This makes the whole workout seem more like a tempo.

The second part of the main portion that needs explaining is, “Manor-Maze.” In Moses Cone Park, there is a manor that sits a top of a hill. So the first part of “Manor-Maze” is running up to the Cone Manor. It is a steady 2.85 mile climb. For my workout I ran this portion in 14:05, which was very good. Any climb around 14 minutes is very fast for that portion. The climb took up almost all of the first set of down-cycles, and the rest in between the sets is the trail from the Manor to the Maze. It is downhill so you are supposed to run pretty quick, but are able to recover. The Maze starts off with rolling hills, then slightly downhill for the last mile and a half. I started my second set once I got into the beginning of the Maze. You can always get moving on the last part due to the downhill. I finished my down-cycles before I exited the Maze, so I finished it with a float. Mostly I did this so that I could see what my total time for the Manor-Maze. It ended up being 33:35, 25 seconds faster than I ran it last spring! It is encouraging, as I have been fighting a head cold the last few days and was still able to have a good workout. Also this workout is a confidence boost after being knocked back a few notches at Gate River. I only have a run with light pickups on Monday before heading to the airport, with the final destination Denmark!

Training Log 3/9-15

Week of March 9-15

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 19 Long Run with surges
Monday 8 6 Core
Tuesday 14 5 Workout
Wednesday 12 Core
Thursday 13
Friday 8 4 x 30 sec
Saturday 15 6 Gate River Run
Week Total 106

Sunday morning came early with the time change. It was still dark out when I woke up, COME ON!! (Arrested Development might be most underrated TV show ever.) But that did not stop us from getting out there and doing work. Once again we headed out to Tuxedo Lake for our run, with vague instructions that Pete wanted us to have a good, solid, and fast long run. I liked these instructions as it left the door open for us to get moving late in the run. After a week off from surges during the long run, we were right back into it. After waiting around a few minutes for Griff, aka “Crime Dog,” we started our run down the familiar route. Very soon I was running with Cole, Griff, and Joe. We were cruising along together, enjoying our friendly banter, and I realized that we were almost done with one loop of the lake (just around 9.5 miles). This was a pleasant surprise, as it seemed to go by so quickly. The run was turning in the antithesis of last Sunday’s run! Eventually Griff and Joe turned around, because they were not doing two full loops. This left Cole and I to finish the run on our own. We continued to pick up the pace of the run and finished our two loops in 1:56 hr, which averages out to 6:06 pace; and the last loop was in 55 minutes, 5:47 pace! In the end what made this run so great was the fact that it went by so fast, but also that we were running a steady pace for the long run and it seemed effortless. That is a very good sign coming into my next two races. It helps give me more confidence that I am very fit and can run with anyone.

3-11 Sawmp Rabbit Worout - Mike Caldwell Photo

Tuesday’s workout along Swamp Rabbit. Photo Credit, Mike Caldwell.

Tuesday’s workout was a pretty long one and I was doing them by myself. These two aspects seem to be a trend for my workouts lately. On paper I was set to run 2 x 2 mile, 2:30 rest; 2 x mile, 1:45 rest; 2 x 800 meter, 1:30 rest; all done on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. For this workout I started two miles down from Furman University and was running the first set uphill. Pete wanted me to run the two-mile pieces about threshold pace (4:50 min/mile) and cut down around 10 seconds per mile for both the mile and 800 meter reps. This was not supposed to be a super hard effort, as I was racing on Saturday.

I started the first two-mile piece and went on feel for the first half mile. I looked down and realized that I was running way slower than what Pete wanted. So I picked it up and still only went through the mile just over 5 minutes. I continued run a good pace for the last half of the rep and finished with a 4:47 mile (9:51 overall). I stopped and was frustrated with how hard that felt considering that I was off the pace that Pete wanted. Seeing my frustration, Pete suggested first that I add 30 seconds to my rest and that I replace the second two-mile piece with two one-mile reps. After a couple of minutes, I had recovered a bit and knowing that the next rep was slightly downhill, I told him that I would continue with the initial workout as planned, and change it if I still felt terrible. Still being frustrated I got out a bit too fast, but settled into a good pace for the rest of the piece and finished over twenty seconds faster than the first (9:29). This rep felt so much better than the first. Think this was due to the fact that I was running slightly downhill, and often the first rep can feel terrible. Sometimes it just takes one rep to workout the kinks. Either way I continued as scheduled. The mile and 800m reps went by fast, and before I knew it I was done. It ended up being a good workout, even with the first rep feeling terrible, and it gave me confidence that I could roll in five days.

Splits:

9:51, 9:29; 4:37, 4:38, 2:14, 2:11

The rest of the week was just getting in some easy miles along with drills and strides. Everything was geared towards running fast at Gate River. I had started doing strides everyday starting on Monday, knowing that they help me feel better overall.

I headed down to Jacksonville on Thursday, so I could have a day to be there and relax in sunny Florida. That is one of the many reasons road racing is so much fun. You get to go different places and relax and hang out. Gate River is awesome because it is in Florida in the winter so the weather is fantastic and the field is always stacked. Another reason that I like road racing so much is the fact that you get to met so many new people. This was my first race where I went to alone, so that meant that I was sharing a room with someone that I did not know. My roommate for Gate was Elliott Krause. Elliott was a stud runner at the famed University of Wisconsin. It was fun to get to know him through out the weekend. Beyond just meeting new people, road races also bring back quite a few of the same people. It makes the races fun because race after race you get to compete against them. So, if someone beats you one race, there is always the next one to get your revenge.

On Friday I did my prerace run with the crew from Northern Arizona Elite. The weather was nice enough to be in shorts and a shirt! As usual, I did my 4 x 30 seconds accelerations after the run. These felt very good and it made me eager for the race the next day.

Saturday was the day of the big dance! The weather was good, the field was stacked, and I was ready to run fast. I did my warm up, drills, and strides and was ready for the race to start. The cannon was fired signaling the start of the race; yes the race is started with a cannon, albeit a little one, and we took off down the street. I found myself in good position, near the front, but not in the lead, as per Pete’s instructions. For the race Pete wanted me to hang back and conserve as much energy as I could hoping that I would have that extra 5% for the infamous Hart Bridge. The course at Gate is flat as a board, except at mile 7.5 you start up Hart Bridge. It takes about ¾ mile to crest the top and it is all down hill to the finish. If you are at topped out by the time you reach the bridge, it’s a long way to the top.

For he first few miles I kept my position in the top 5 or so, right where I wanted to be. Eventually, Chris Derrick, a stud runner from Portland, decided that it was time to start racing, and around 5k he made a big surge. Being an aggressive running I felt that it was a do or die moment for the race. I wanted to stick with the leaders for as long as I could. Unfortunately that only lasted a mile, as the by the fourth mile I was falling off the back of the lead three. By the 5th mile a group of five had caught me and were pulling away as well. I would like to think that the next few miles I held on pretty well, as Jeremy Freed only caught me at the bottom of the bridge. I’ve known Jeremy for a long time, as we were old rivals in high school. Only one more caught me by the top of the bridge. Not knowing what place I was, other than I was right around tenth, I kept pushing down the bridge to the finish.

2014 Gate River - Flager Palm Coast High School Guys

Flager Palm Coast High School Coach Danny and Athlete Luis.

Always right after the race, us elite runners are trying to figure out where we finished. Eventually I figured out that I was 11th place, and was initially disappointed. I had set my expectations high, and did not come close to meeting them. I guess that not every race can be fantastic; it is just too bad that one of mine happened at a USA Championship. But afterwards, I did run into some ZAP Campers and it was fun to talk to them and got a few pictures with them. Eventually I made way back to the elite tent and cooled down with Elliott.

The rest of the day consisted of eating way too many Krispy Kreme doughnuts, I may have ate four of them, hanging out with other runners, and taking a nap. I was invited to do a post race shake out run in the afternoon, which I ended up joining. While this race fell way below my expectations there were a few highlights from the weekend.

  1. Shalane Flanagan ran an American Record of 47:00 in the women’s race. That is an incredible run. It is three 15:40 5km back to back to back. She is in great shape and hopefully in 5 weeks she can have a great run at the Boston Marathon.
  2. The Post Race Party. Every year, Richard Fannin, the elite athlete coordinator, puts on a party for the elite athletes. It is a good way to unwind after a good or bad day of racing.
  3. I got to meet some of the legends of distance running. At the pre race dinner, Dick Beardsley spoke. He is famous for his “Duel in the Sun” against Alberto Salazar, but he also has a very inspirational story of overcoming drug addiction. I really enjoyed listening to his speech and cannot wait for him to come to speak at ZAP this summer. Another legend that met was Steve Jones. He is a former World Record holder in the marathon, and once ran a half marathon in 1:01:46 (that is only 2 seconds slower than my PB), but it was only the first half of his almost world record marathon. Also, Reebok has sponsored Steve for 30 plus years!
  4. Initially I was upset with my race (I was over 40 seconds slower than last year (44:59) and two places behind), but after a few days, I have come to see the benefits from it. One being that I will get an aerobic benefit from doing the race. This will help me a lot for the World Half Champs. Also, it made me realize that my expectations are high, and that is a good thing. Over the last year my expectations have changed, so much so that I am disappointed when I do not place in the top 10. I am now believe that I can make the next big step towards being one of the best runners in the United States.

Splits:

5km – 14:43            10km – 29:33            15km – 44:59

Gate River Run Results

Me and ZAP Speaker/Running Legend Dick Beardsley

Me and ZAP Speaker/Running Legend Dick Beardsley

Me and Reebok Athlete/Running Legend Steve Jones.

Me and Reebok Athlete/Running Legend Steve Jones.

Training Log 3/2-8

Week of March 2-8

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 16 Long Run
Monday Day off!
Tuesday 13 Core
Wednesday 16 Workout
Thursday 12 Drills and Strides, Massage
Friday 11 6 Core
Saturday 8
Week Total 83

This week was my only real planned down week for this cycle, but that is because the cycle ended up not being very long. Since I ended up training through after the USA Half Marathon Champs, there was only room for 7 weeks for a training cycle, if you take out my post Houston down week, two transitional weeks, and a taper. But this short cycle has been a good trial to see how I can handle, both the longer four week cycles and a good training block, like the one that I will do before a marathon.

Since I had a race/workout on Saturday, Sunday’s long run was meant to be a normal long run. Basically that is a long run with no surges. This would be my first long run in a while that I was not surging during. In the end it was a good thing, as I was very tired the first hour. For the run Joe, Kevin, and I headed out to Tuxedo Lake. It was so nice outside I was wearing shorts and a shirt. This was one of the first runs in a while that I have been able to start without pants or tights on. Even with great weather, the run seemed to take forever, which was the consensus among the three of us. We were glad to finish and head to the dinning hall.

Monday was one of those days that I get ever so rarely, a planned day off (my last one was over a month ago). I say planned because I have had many, many, many unplanned days off do to injury. Luckily only a very few of those days have been in the last three years. Pete always says, “The absence of training is part of training.” Your body takes time to recover from days upon days of hard training, so in that respect a day off can actually help boost your fitness. It gives your legs the time they need to recover, so that you can continue to train at a high level.

The Boulevard - FurmanMy workout for the week ended up being on Wednesday to let me have enough time to recover from the weekend’s race and long run. Wednesday was 10 days before Gate River run and Pete always likes to do a big “fitness booster” workout around that time. Most studies show that it takes about 10 days to get the benefit from a workout. This workout was another big one, as it was 13.4km (8.3 miles) worth of work (hard running). I have been noticing that my workouts have been getting longer in this last cycle. I am sure it is because Pete is testing the waters for the fall. Wednesday’s workout was:

2km with 3.5 min rest, two sets of “Canova Ks” (5/4) with 1:45 min rest and 3.5 min between sets, 4 x 600m snowball with 1:45 min rest.

This workout has a lot of parts to it, but they are all there for a reason. The opening 2km is there to put some “junk in your legs.” This piece alone should not be the workout in itself, but it works as a way to make you a bit tired for the rest of the workout. The “Canova Ks” are 1km pieces that are run alternating between threshold pace and a faster pace. These ended up being run between half marathon pace and 10km pace. The last part is the 600m snowballs. A snowball repetition is where every you change gears at set intervals. It can be either time based or distance based, but you do not want too many changes. The optimal amount is 3-4, so we were changing gears every 200m. This helps work on reacting to changes in pace and gradually speeding up through out the rep.

Pete scheduled Joe, Kevin, Chris, and my workouts to be similar enough to run together. I was the only one with an opening piece so I started about 10 minutes before them and ran that part alone. It felt good and unfortunately I messed up the course so I was not able to get a split for it. But I was running right around 4:35 mile pace. I took my break and all of us started our km pieces together. It was nice to have some people to workout with, because I have been working out alone for the last month and a half. Since they were not doing “Canova Ks,” I would give them a 6 second cushion and gradually catch them over the course of the rep. It ended up being very effective for me to pick it up on the faster km. Joe, Kevin, and Chris left after the 8th km to do their 600m pieces and I was left alone to finish the last km by myself. Usually I do not get caught up in the numbers of the workout, but I knew that I had been running fast and set a goal of running 2:45 for the last one. This is my 5km PB pace, but I knew that I could hit it and stay fully with in myself. I hit my spur of the moment time goal and jogged over to the grass track for my 600m snowballs. I ran my last four reps with Joe and Kevin, and learned that all of the miles have dulled my fast twitch muscles. Pete let us off the leash on the last rep, and I was blown away the last 200m.

Initially Pete had me scheduled for another workout on Friday, but since my workout on Wednesday was a very quality workout, we decided to not do it. I think that this was a good choice, as I have been feeling very tired and need time to recover, so instead I just did miles.

Looking back at the week, Wednesday is going to be one of my last big workouts, not only before Gate, but also the World Half Champs. After Gate, I will begin a small peak into the World Champs. It was a very good workout and I was happy with the times that I ran. Also, I think that it was a better than my workouts right before the USA Half Champs. I know that I am in fantastic shape and will be aiming at a top 15 finish at the end of the month, but first I get to go mix it up with the best of the US.

Wednesday’s Splits:

2:56, 2:48, 2:55, 2:47, 2:52/2:56, 2:46, 2:54, 2:45            1:39, 1:38, 1:40, 1:37

Training Log 2/23-3/1

Week of February 23 – March 1

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 15 5 Split up Long Run with surges
Monday 8 Core
Tuesday 14 5 Hill Climb up Caesars Head
Wednesday 10 8 Core
Thursday 15 8 x 20 sec
Friday 10 Pre Race Strides
Saturday 14 Reedy River Run and workout
Week Total 104

This week was another big week, my last big week before a planned down week. Looking back, this is my third “up” in a row. This is something new that Pete and I talked about doing this spring. In the fall I had been on a three week cycle, where I had two up weeks and one down week. We wanted to test out a longer four week cycle, before I start marathon training in the fall. So far I would say that it has been very successful. While I have been tired, I have been able to recover between the workouts. Another big difference from the fall is that I have been doing two workouts a week. Which has been encouraging, because workouts put more stress on your body.

As usual this week started on Sunday with a long run, but with one adjustment. Since I was coming off of traveling and a big week, Pete thought it best to split the long run into two runs. This accomplishes two goals. The first is to get a good morning run, which is more like a medium long run, but with the second run the mileage ends up being around a long run. Second is to recover a bit better. For the run we went out to Tuxedo Lake, which is my favorite place to do our long runs. It follows a dirt road around a lake. While there are some hills, it is mostly flat. The run started very much like many of my runs have been, very slow. When running high miles, it seems to take me upwards of 40 minutes to start to feel decent. About 30 minutes in I started to feel good, which was just in time to start my surges. The surges this week were to be a minute up every seven minutes, so I set my watch to go off every seven minutes and let my mind wander. By doing this, the run passed by very quickly.

IMG_0558

View from Caesars Head. Helped make the climb worth it.

Tuesday’s workout was one that I repeated last year. It is a climb from the base of Caesars Head to the top. It is 7.4 miles to the peak and is very steep. A workout like this is a standard of the ZAP Fitness training. One reason is that it gets you a good aerobic workout while not beating up the legs too much. At least not as much as a similar length workout on a flat surface would. This is crucial when you are trying to run high mileage, as you need to be able to workout hard but still recover. Often my legs feel dead while my lungs feel fantastic. Another reason that we do a lot of running uphill is it helps improve your form. This is important because if you are more efficient, the faster you will run. On this workout, Pete had me do 3 minute cycles. This is where the first minute is around 75%, the second minute 80-85%, and the last around 90% then start over for the fist cycle. This teaches the body to react to sudden changes of pace before settling back into a comfortable pace. Last year during this workout I was about 25 minutes into the workout when I could not really change pace at all. It basically became a death march to the top. This year I felt that I was able to change pace all the way through the finish, while running about a minute and a half faster. For the climb I ran around 48 minutes, just under 6:30 pace. Yes, that is how steep the road is. Once at the top I was not finished as I had 10 x 30 seconds on a flat area. I took a few minutes rest and began the second piece to the workout. I like these elongated strides after a good hard climb because it allows me to open up and run quite a bit little faster. Also it helps the body transfer the form from running uphill to a flat area. Overall this was a good workout and a good confidence boost when compared to last year. It was also my fourth hard day out of the last seven, so to feel so good was a relief.

The goal the next 3 days was to get my legs back underneath me. While the last training stint was very good, my legs were feeling a bit beat up. There are two things that I find make my legs feel better when they are tired. The first is to run a little bit slower. While that seems obvious, it is still something that I struggle with at times. I tend to just run with the group and whoever is running fastest. I was very conscious of the pace I was running knowing that I needed to recover before my race/workout on Saturday. The second thing that I do is strides, and lots of them. For me, strides are a Catch 22: I am tired from the workouts, so I do not want to do strides; but I know that strides make me feel better, so that I can do better workouts. Often at the end of my runs I have an internal debate on whether to do my strides or not. Usually the side saying to do them wins out, as I know that is what is going to make be the best runner I can be.

Defending champ, so I got that number "1" bib!

Defending champ, so I got that number “1” bib!

Saturday was the day of the Reedy River Run. This year the weather decided to cooperate, as it was not snowing before the race. As part of the race, Pete wanted me to do a Moneghetti Fartlek. The Moneghetti Fartlek is a 20 minutes long workout where you are constantly changing paces. It is designed to never really give you time to relax and recover. Since the race was a 10k I ran the opening 10 minutes with the leaders, then took off with my workout. Gradually through out the race I pulled away from the field, and won comfortably by 25 seconds. I was happy with the way that I ran the race, but I still had a bit more work to do. After five minutes rest I headed to the Swamp Rabbit Trail and continued my workout. Pete wanted me to finish with some quicker minute pick ups. This is a plan that Pete and I have been implementing so that I can practice finishing workouts faster. By doing this I am teaching my body to run fast while tired, which is critical at the end of races. This part of the workout was 5 x 1 minute with 2 minutes in between each. Once I was finished with everything I was able to enjoy the post race celebration.

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Winning the 2014 Reedy River Run!

Winning the 2014 Reedy River Run!