Training Log 7/20-26

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 18 Long Run, 8 x 20 sec
Monday 11
Tuesday 10 6 Core, 6 x 20 sec
Wednesday 11 Workout
Thursday 9 7 Core
Friday 14
Saturday 9 Core
Week Total 95

After two relaxed weeks, I was excited to be running more and be in full training. I have always enjoyed running high miles and training. Also I know big jumps in fitness often follow a good training stint. Last fall, I took a couple of months just to train and put in some miles. I then had a stellar fall and winter on the roads.

This week also was the start of the build up to Medtronic Twin Cites Marathon! Now there is 10 weeks until I toe the line in Minneapolis. But this is going to be my last week at the traditional 7 day training cycle. After this week I will move to a 10 day cycle, which is just an extended 7 day cycle. So instead of having a long run and one or two workouts in 7 days, it will now be in 10. The extra days in between workouts is needed because marathon training is so demanding on your body. I know that I will be running more miles per week, along with longer, more intense workouts. I am excited for this training because in the build up to the fall road racing season we were running only one workout and one long run a week, which is similar to being on a 10 day cycle. I ran very well off of this schedule, even while running my highest block of mileage ever.

Sunday started off early, 4:30 to be exact. Cole was doing a soccer camp that day (and the rest of the week) and needed to get his run in beforehand. I figured that it was better to have someone to run with than run 18 miles by myself so I pulled myself out of bed. Being the first long run of the build up, Pete wanted us to stay relaxed and just get the miles in. Since it was so early, we began the run on the streets of Blowing Rock before heading into Moses Cone Park. Cole and I finished the run with 8 x 20 seconds strides.

Wednesday was our first workout back. It was a simple 1 to 4, 4 to 1 ladder Fartlek. Even though we are in marathon training, Pete wanted us to start with a lighter workout. There is still a long time to October 4th. Rather than do the workout in the Park, we headed over to the streets of Blowing Rock, which are just as hilly. We ran up towards “Seven Stories,” so named because the houses go many (one goes seven) stories down the side of the mountain. We finished the last few reps on the lake. It was good to get moving again and I found out that I am still in pretty good shape, just a little rusty.

Here is a video with a great view from “Seven Stories”:

 

The other days of the week were all about getting back into the swing of things. I ran easy and relaxed miles, and looked to find a routine again. I began to do the little things like core, stretching, rolling out, and just keeping my body feeling good; stuff that comes so easy when in a routine. I felt good this week, but I know it is the calm before the storm. During the next few weeks, the effects of marathon training will begin to take hold, and I will be back into the swing of things, albeit more tired.

Training Log 7/13-19

Week of Training July 13-19

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 9
Monday Last Day Off
Tuesday 8
Wednesday 9
Thursday 13 Medium Long, 8 x 20 sec
Friday 9
Saturday 7
Week Total 55

 

This was my first week back from my break. I only ran once last week, a 6 mile run on Thursday, so I did not feel like a training log was necessary or would have been remotely interesting. But by the end of that week, I was started getting antsy to run again, especially with the challenge of a marathon lurking in the shadows.

It's gone!!

It’s gone!!

Wanting to run again is a good sign, as it means that I was not mentally fried at the end of the season. In the past, I have pushed and pushed to the end of the season so by the end I was more than ready to take a break when season was finished. This happens in college quite a bit, as there is a set beginning and end of the season. Now as a professional, I get to pick and choose what races I run and most importantly, when to throw in the towel for the season.

Along with mentally burning out, you can finish a season physically burnt out. Both usually go hand in hand, and react to each other in a vicious cycle: You feel terrible, so you do not want to race, which makes you even more tired trying to power through, which makes you not want to race. Earlier in the track season, I felt like I had burned my candle for too long, but was able to come back and pull together a decent track season and finish with a bang at Peachtree.

Finishing my year on a positive note made me really want to keep racing. I felt that I was on an up swing, and could hit up the summer road circuit. But I knew that I needed to take a break and step back a bit in order to make it ready to roll in October. Since a marathon requires so much investment, the last thing I wanted was to get to the middle of August feeling stale and tired and six weeks until Twin Cities.

Other than running, I occupied myself with updating my videos page, fixing the broken screen on my phone, and a few late nights. We also had camps for pretty much the entire last two weeks, which was another thing that kept me busy. Right now we are in the middle of camp season, and there is hardly a day where a group is not occupying the lodge. That means that we have to clean ZAP before each group gets in and make sure everything runs smoothly. While having so much going on can be tiring at times, these camps are the main way for ZAP to help give us support.

This last week of running was all about getting back into the swing of things. Which was tough after nearly 10 days of having no set schedule. I was staying up late, sleeping in, and most importantly trying to relax. While I am not successfully on a great schedule yet, I am well on my way. I know that once I get there, training will become much more mechanical and easier, which is where I function best.

Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

As I sit here staring at a blank page, I do not know what to say about the race. I still have a bag of mixed feelings. Part of me is disappointed that I did not reach my goal of winning my first national title. I was so very close. The other part knows that this might be my best performance to date. I had my highest placing at a US Championship and beat quite a few people who have much better pedigrees than me. Maybe as I write, my thoughts will become more clear.

The Race:

Since Peachtree is one of the largest road races in the world, there was a ton of energy at the starting line. Lining up in front of 60,000 people will always send a few shots of nerves through your body. I pushed all of those nervous thoughts aside and instead thought about what I wanted to do in the next thirty minutes. I needed to run a smart race and put myself in a position to win. For the last week, this race has been the thoughts bouncing around my head. I had analyzed what way was going to be the best way for me to win. Eventually I came to the thought that I would go at the only turn on the course, with about 800m left. I figured that I could get to there fairly comfortable and have enough to push to the finish line.

A few minutes before the start we were corralled behind the starting line to hear the national anthem played and a few remarks from the race director. At 7:29 we were off and headed down the road. I got out in a good position, right around 5th. I was tucked in behind the leaders and relaxing. I could tell that we were running a pretty good pace, but it was not too fast. Since I was there to race, and really did not care what time I ran, so I just went with the flow. We passed the mile in right around 4:40, and soon after Girma Mecheso interjected a big surge. I started to go with him, but I then realized that he was really moving, so I backed off knowing that the big hills coming in the second half of the course. If I bided my time, I knew I would catch him. The rest of the field seemed to come to the same conclusion.

Even though no one went with Girma, the pace did quicken significantly, as we covered the next two miles in 4:23 each, which is very fast even though we were running downhill most of the time. By the 3rd mile (13:26) we had caught up to Girma, and just in time for the start of Cardiac Hill. It is named so because of the hospital just off to the right, not because it gives you a heart attack. As we entered the hills that make the course so tough, the pace slowed notably. I made a split second decision to throw out my pre race plan and go for it from there. Since we train on the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I have confidence in my ability to run hills. So I surged up the hill and quickly I felt the pack around me begin to string out.

Leading the race around 5 miles. Pushing hard!!!

Leading the race around 5 miles. Pushing hard!!!

I ended up leading for the next 3 miles, with Christo Landry and Aaron Braun in tow. I was feeling relaxed and kept moving well up the hills. I found myself in “the zone.” I did not hear or see the crowd as I was focused to the two around me, trying to figure out how hard they are working and for any sign that they were tiring.

At 5 miles, where the course tops out, all my work over the hills began to pay off as Aaron Braun began to fall back. With that in mind, I put in one more move to try and break Christo. No longer confident in my kick, I felt like I needed to run away from him in the last mile. This last move did not work as he was right on my shoulder as we approached the turn on to 10th Street. I then found Christo had moved up to my side, and being stubborn, I refused to let him take the lead. I took the turn in the lead, and began a long drive for the finish. With about 400m to go, Christo went around me and took off. I tried to go with, but after a few seconds, I knew that our duel was over; I had run out of gears.

Thoughts:

Looking back at the race, I seem to settle on my split second choice to ditch my pre race plan and take the lead half way through. I keep teetering between thinking it was the correct choice. One part of me knows that it is the reason I got second. By pushing the pace I was able to drop everyone else besides Christo. On the other hand, if I did not take the lead and push, there would have been more people nearby, and I could have won with a big kick or gotten or been out kicked for a worst finish. In the end I can play what if all day, so I am most likely not going to get a satisfying answer. But I gave it my all in an attempt to win, which led me to run very well, but Christo ran better.

A few days before the race, inserted this quote into our daily training email:

When I committed it was to the finish. I never saw success in
making smaller feeler moves. Whether it was 800m from the tape,
1500m our or even 3km, when I decided to drive for home I laid
out all I had.
– Carlos Lopes (1976 Olympic 10000m Silver Medal,
1984 Olympic Marathon Gold Medal, World XC Champion,
World Record Marathon in 1986)

I felt like that this pretty much sums up my race. At 3 miles I felt good and made that choice to go for the win from there. I knew that once at the lead, I was not going to slow the pace down in order to save something. I was going to push until I could not run that pace any more.

Another takeaway from the race is that I expected to win and ran that way. Over the last 6 months, we have had a few visits from a Stan Beecham, a sports psychologist. These visits have been used in an attempt to for us to race better. One of the main point he has talked about is how expectations often what determine the performance.

If you don’t expect to win, you have already forfeited the race.
You have given up your chance to find out just how fast you can
go. The best way to approach a race is to win! The only way to
find out how good you can really be is to be willing to five
everything you have in an attempt to win. The desire to win is
the same as the desire to do your best and only those who are
trying to win are trying to do their best.
– Elite Minds, pg. 58

Getting to this mind set can be very difficult, especially when you compete against some of the best runners in the world. For example, in my last two track races I ran against Mo Farah and Bernard Lagat, without much thought that I could win the races. Their achievements, which are too long to list here, affected how I approached the race and very much determined how well I ran. At USA’s, I came in with the expectation that I would get top 10, and low and behold I got 9th. Stan wants us to forget what others have done and focus on what you are capable of, and believe that you can win. The week leading up to Peachtree I kept saying to myself, “When I am fit and running well, I can run with anyone in the US. And I am fit right now.” Repeating this statement lead me to believe that when I was on the starting line, I would win.

ZAP crew post race!

ZAP crew post race!

Coming into the race, I had been focused on running some fast times on the track. I had a nice two month season where all I did was track stuff. The change of pace and venue was refreshing, but I struggled all season to really have that one race I wanted, that one breakthrough. After Peachtree, I walked away from this race with some redemption. The sting of losing is dulled by that I felt like I had a very good race, especially a 10km. Over the last two years, I have not been able to come within 10 seconds of my PR, either on the roads or track. The last two track seasons, I made the long trip out to Stanford knowing that I was in much better shape than my PR of 28:23. But I could not put it together on either day. This has been frustrating, especially because I have been running so well at other distances. On Friday, I finished just 7 seconds shy of my PR on a tough course.

Lastly, I would like to thank the Atlanta Track Club for putting on a great event. Without their support, runners like myself would not be able to do what I do for a living. It can be a daunting task to put on a USA Championship, and it was one of the best that I have been to. They brought in a stellar field and took care of us fantastically.

Now I get to take a break and recharge both my mental and physical batteries, so that I am ready to go for a big marathon training block.

Results

Race Highlights (lots of me! And it is much more than highlights, it is 21 minutes long)

Letsrun/Race Results Weekly Recap

USATF Recap

Atlanta Journal Constitution Recap

Atlanta Journal Constitution Photos

 

Training Log 6/29-7/5

Week Training June 29 – July 5

  Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 13   “Long Run”
Monday 10 5 Light Fartlek
Tuesday 10   Drills and Strides, Core
Wednesday 9   Drills and Strides
Thursday 7   Drills, 4 x 30 sec
Friday 11   Race
Saturday 4   Easy
  Week Total 69  

Last week of the season! This week was all about recovering from USATF Nationals and getting ready for Peachtree. I was running only once per day except for my light workout on Monday. For the week, all I could think about was the race on Friday. I was really excited to lace out the flats and hit the roads again, mostly because during this last year I have had the most success on the roads. Before Peachtree I have had two top 5 finishes on the US Road Running Circuit (12km and Half Marathon). In the other road races this year, I competed very well by placing 3rd at the historic Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving, 6th in a very loaded field at BAA 5km, and 33rd at the World Half Marathon Championships. I wanted to continue this trend and run well at Peachtree. I also felt that I was on the up swing after having a rough month of training in May.

Our soaking spot for Sunday!

Our soaking spot for Sunday!

Sunday was our “long run” for the week. I put it in quotes because in the grand scheme of things, 13 miles is not really a long run. Many of my first runs of the day in the fall were 12-13 miles, so only doing one run of that length is fairly easy. A good crew of us headed out to Watauga River Road where we meet up with some of the Appalachian State runners. Eventually I ended up running with Cole and Tim (a national class masters runner). We jabbered and chattered the run away and before I knew it the run was done. Afterwards we went to Trash Can Falls, which were right across the road and sat in the water to cool off and hang out.

Since many of us were racing on Friday, Pete had a group of us do a light Fartlek on Monday. It was nothing difficult, only something to get the legs moving. He told us to run 1, 2, 2, 1 min x 2, and make it playful, which means do not worry about the rest just go when you feel like it. Because it was not a very structured workout, we did it in the middle of our run. We started after 30 minutes of warm up. The workout went by pretty quickly and I felt smooth and relaxed, even as we picked it up on the last few. This made me even more excited for Friday. The rest of the week was just easy running with drills and strides to finish.

Once again I am going to do a separate recap of the race. So look for that in a few days.

Even though my season was technically finished after Peachtree, I ran an easy 4 miles on Saturday. This is just for the benefit of coming off the race better. I woke up on Saturday with some sore spots, and a nice easy jog always helps get some of those kinks out.

Banging the Head

Since I was feeling better, it was much easier to get excited for this race. Also when running against such a good field, you cannot help but be excited. It could mean that you might get to be pulled along to a fast time and take a few scalps in the process. I spent the long day (there were no World Cup games on) in the hotel room and took periodic walks to keep myself limber. I walked to the mall to get a different view and pick up my lunch, and went for a shakeout. Overall, it was a pretty typical day for an evening race. We headed over to the track and around 50 minutes before the start Joe and I headed out for our warm up. After drills, strides, and check in, I found myself flanked by two OTC guys, Hassan Mead and Dan Quigley.

The Race

My plan before the race was to get out in good position and relax for the first 3000-3500m, then start to move up and assert myself in the race. But as the old saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men, oft go awry.” Since I wanted to get in good position, I figured that I had to get out pretty quick. Well, that turned out not to be the case. I took a few quick steps and I realized that I was at the front of my waterfall. After the curve I was hoping that the other waterfall had gone quicker, but that did not happen. So I found myself out in front.

At this point I figured that two options. One was that I could slow down to a jog and hope that someone passes me or if no one passes me that I lead with out spending much energy. The second option was that I could maintain a good pace and make the race honest. After about 400m I chose on the later; if I was going to lead, it was not going to be slow. I sped up slightly and found a good rhythm right around 66 second pace. While this was not quite PR pace, it was much quicker than the 75s that were run last year in this race.

The night was calm and pretty good weather for racing, so leading was not extremely difficult, but after about 2000m I noticed that I was starting to get a bit tired. I think that others noticed, because as I slowed down slightly on the 6th lap, I was soon passed. This ended up being important for the rest of my race, as I was able to settle in and relax. After a few laps I was feeling better and started to think about racing.

Late in the race.

Late in the race.

With four laps remaining I was on the rail, but boxed in. Soon I saw an opening, and with out hesitation I took it. I tried to maintain my position and with 1000m to go, the thought, “I feel pretty good” crossed my mind. With that confidence boost, I tried to get closer to the lead, but had to go around Bernard Lagat. Lagat is one of the savviest racers in the world, and as soon as he felt my presence on his shoulder he put in a little surge and I had to settle for where I was before my surge. On the next backstretch I saw that Andrew Bumbalough was making his bid for glory with 600m to go. He made an aggressive move, and very quickly the pack was strung out, including me. Over the next 200m, I was gradually falling farther back until I was clearly out of contention for the win, but I still had people gunning for my spot. Unlike ten days before, I still had a good amount left and I did not fall apart the last 600m. I slowed slightly on my last lap, but pressed all the way to the line and was rewarded with a new PR and a 9th place finish.

Thoughts

Even though I did not stick to the race plan, I am very proud with how I ran this race. Looking back, if I had not lead, I would not have PR as the pace most likely would have not been fast enough at the beginning. After I wound up in the pack, I was able to regroup and relax while still running fast. Pete always tells me to try and find that 95% effort where I am still relaxed. I was able to find that effort and feel good until the racing began.

A second takeaway from this race is that I finished the best I had all year. One of my goals for the year was to “Finish races better.” On Friday, I closed my last four laps in 4:14 (65.2, 64.3, 61.9, 62.7), with a majority of that coming in the last two. While I still want to be able to finish a race faster and be in contention for the win, this was a good step in that direction.

Another goal that I have for the year is to take risks in races. This goal was one that I wrote about in my last blog, and this race was just a continuation of this process. I took some risks late after the racing started, looking for a big break through. I did not quite get a big breakthrough, but I know that eventually that will come. The morning after, Joe and I headed out for a nice jog through the American River Parkway. Inevitably we talked about the race and Joe compared the risks we have been taking the last few weeks to banging our head against a wall. If we keep running races like we belong, then we should sooner or later breakthrough the proverbial wall, or we will break our heads in the attempt.

One last takeaway from this race is that it clearly looks and feels like I am back on an up swing. Around the time of World Half Marathon Champs and the BAA 5km, I felt that I was in shape to run a very good 5000m or 10000m. Unfortunately, just a few weeks later at Stanford when I got an opportunity to run that 10000m, I was not feeling that same pop in my legs. Since then, I only recently began to feel back to my old self. Luckily, this falls just in time for me to head to Atlanta for the famed Peachtree Road Race, where I know that I can keep aiming higher.

Results

Race Video

Splits:
33.2, 68.8, 66.8, 66.0, 66.3, 66.7,
66.4, 66, 66, 65.2, 64.3, 61.9, 62.7