Training Log 10/19-25

Week of Training October 19 – 25

Morning Afternoon Notes
Monday 6 Core
Tuesday Travel to CO
Wednesday 8
Thursday 4
Friday 10
Saturday 10 Core
Week Total 38
Mike with his niece.  I will miss you.

Mike with his niece.
I will miss you.

Running this week was just another continuation of my break. So there is not much going on in that respect, but my week was very busy. Last Saturday my cousin, Mike, passed away in an ATV accident, so I made a trip home to be with my family. I know that most of you reading did not know Mike, but he was a great person who was kind and generous. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it more than him. He took pride in his work and worked hard, but would play just as hard. Mike served in the Army Corp of Engineers, with two tours in Iraq and Kuwait, being honorably discharged. He loved the Denver Broncos and adored his niece. I will miss having him around, even though he always beat me in pool.

The last time I had an extended break was in the summer of 2012. I took nearly a month off after finishing a rigorous year of student teaching, and a pursuit to make the Olympic Trials. After the collegiate track season, I was very close to making the Trials, so I extended my season well in to June. The end result was missing out by 2 spots and 3 seconds, and being burnt out. After this I did not know what I was going to do, or where I was going to go. I knew I wanted to run, but did not have a direction. So for the next few weeks I wondered around Portland and Eugene watching races, hanging out with friends, and drinking way too much beer. Looking back this time was spent recovering, both mentally and physically, from the six years of ups and downs that was my collegiate career.

Tony Grampas Canal Trail. One of my favorite places to run in Golden.

Tony Grampas Canal Trail. One of my favorite places to run in Golden.

My current break has been very different than the picture I painted above. I finished my first marathon cycle on such a high note, that I wanted to continue to train and race. There are many races this fall that I want to run, but in doing so I could dig myself into a hole. Even though I had a break through performance last year at the .US Championships, I will not be running it again. One thing that did pop up this last week is that I was selected to represent Team USA at the International Chiba Ekiden. It is goal of both ZAP and myself to represent the USA in international events. So this was an opportunity that I could not pass up.

During the break I though about what the long term goals of my running career, with the first on the list being to make an Olympic Team. The first two years of post collegiate running have opened my eyes to what is possible for me. They have made me realize that making an Olympic Team, but also making a living running is realistic. Now, I have a clear vision what needs to happen of the next 15 months leading up to the Trials for me to reach my goal. There are all the usual things like, rest, vitamins, eating well, and staying healthy, but the most important thing is the confidence that I have gained. I no longer look at the guys I race with admiration, but respect them as equals.


For those that do not know what an Ekiden is, it is a relay road race, very popular in Japan. It typically consists of 5-10 members on a team, covering distances from 40km to 219km. The Chiba Ekiden is exactly a marathon in length, 42.195km, split into 6 different legs. There are three males, running a 5km (my leg) and two 10km legs, and three females running one 5km, 10km, and 7.195km legs. Ekidens are extremely popular in Japan, with full television coverage and thousands of people lining the streets.

Training Logs 10/5-10/18

Week of Training Oct. 5-11

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 27 Twin Cities Marathon
Saturday 3 Short shakeout
Week Total 30

 Week of Training Oct. 12-18

Morning Afternoon Notes
Tuesday 4 30 min
Friday 8
Week Total 12

So I decided to take a week off of my training log, mostly because my week after the marathon was not terribly exciting. I only ran 30 miles, and 27 of it I already covered. I only ran once more that week, a short 25 min shake out on Saturday. As expected, I was pretty sore, mostly in my quads, after the race. The next few days, I dragged myself up the stairs and contemplated sliding down on my butt. Eventually I started to feel better, and then not sore at all. But while I was not sore walking around, I found out during my short run that I was not 100 percent recovered. Even running slow, my quads began to scream at me. It had only been 6 days, so I was not overly concerned.

I had these grand plans to take a few days and head out to go camping and explore more around the Appalachian Mountains, but the weather did not want cooperate. Rainy and cold is not very conducive weather for camping (I might be a bit of a wuss as well). So instead I just hung out around ZAP and did not do a whole lot. I watch TV shows and movies, read, and joked around with my teammates. It was good to not have a bedtime or an alarm set, something that everyone needs to do every once in a while.

My next run was a few days later. Then the run a few days after that, I had considerably more pop in my step. Now I am anxious to start training again. It is funny how a good race can make you just as motivated as a poor one. As I said before, my motivation and focus for 2016 seems even more realistic and attainable. I know that it will not be easy, as there are plenty of other guys who are thinking the same thing. Everything that I do now will impact what happens on February 13, 2016.

Here is a good interview from Gary Cohen. Every month he interviews someone from the running community. Last month it was Billy Mills, the only American to win an Olympic 10000m Gold medal. His interview list is a who’s who of the running greats, so to be among them is humbling.

Marathon Debut

Wow, what an experience! It is truly hard for me to describe the feelings of the last few days. Everything has been such a whirlwind, that I do not think the immensity of what happened has set in yet. And it may still take a while. So with that I will start off with my race recap, since that is going to be the easiest for me to do.

Now I truly understand what Zatopek means.

Now I truly understand what Zatopek means.

Race Recap

I do not want to bore you with every step of every mile. That would be mind numbing and tedious; something neither you nor I would enjoy. So I will just cover some of the important events.

My race plan coming in was to get to 20 miles as relaxed as possible, and then make a surge up the hills on the back half of the course. When Cole and I came and did our preview of the course last month, it made me realize how much of an impact those hills can have. If I only took one thing away from that trip, it was that the race could be made or broken up those hills. I could look at the course map all day, but actually getting out there and running up those hills was extremely beneficial. But first I needed to get to 20 miles relaxed and ready to run fast the last 10km. I knew that this was going to be the challenge. I tend to be a pretty aggressive racer, but with a marathon being such a long race, I had to curtail that impulse, and harness it for the last 6 miles.

The gun went off and I got a position near the front and around 2.5 miles I was at the front. I was fine being there as long as I stayed relaxed, which was quite easy as the first miles were quite slow. As the race progressed, Ian Burrell and I were rotating leads. We went through 10 miles in 51:55 and half in 67:48. These were very conservative splits, so I was very relaxed.

Being escorted in by the motorcade was pretty awesome!

Being escorted in by the motorcade was pretty awesome!

Around 14 miles, Sergio Reyes put in a big surge, and we ran our first sub 5 mile of the day. But soon after everyone settled and nothing happened until just before the 20 mile mark. There Scott Smith made a big move and I was the only one to cover it. With some the steeper section of the hills looming in the distance, I was getting ready to make my own push for the finish. (One of the interesting things that I have seen in the last few days is an article talking about how track runners come to the marathon, and race it like a track race. They will cover every move, but with out realizing that can eventually bite them in the long run. Thinking back at my race, I ran it very much like a track racer, so that will be one thing I need to be aware of for future marathons.)

Probably my favorite picture from the day!

Probably my favorite picture from the day!

Around 21 miles I passed Scott and made that drive for the finish line. Over the next two miles, I extended my lead, but I did not know by how much. The hills “crest” at mile 23, but there is still 2.5 miles of rolling hills until the big downhill finish. At this point, pretty much everything on the lower half of my body was aching and burning from the build up of lactic acid. On top of the physical anguish, I was running scared. I did not know how much time I had on second or if he was cutting down the lead I had worked so hard to build. All I was telling myself the last three miles was, “Push, push.” I could tell that I had tapped out and was not going to go faster, but I did not think that I was slowing down. Those last three miles were probably the hardest miles I have every run.

I did not have any relief until I began to descend the final hill and saw the motorcycles pull in front of me to escort me with a half mile to go. By that point I pretty much knew I had won. Even then it did not really hit me what had just happened. After crossing the line I was asked to jog (if I could) back out among the crowd.

– – – – – – –

I do not really know where to start with my thoughts about the race. The feeling of immense joy is very hard to describe. There are only a handful of instances during my running career that I have felt so ecstatic. On paper it is the highest accomplishment that I have achieved so far. I know that if I continue with this trajectory, I can reach the highest echelons of the sport.

I remember one of the first conversations that I had with Pete. We were doing outdoor work on the trail, and he turned to me and asked, “Do you think you can run with the top guys in the US?” Basically asking me if I thought I could make an Olympic. Without any hesitation I answered, “Yes.” At the time, I was thinking that I could learn to kick with the best on the track. I had just ran my first 10,000m and missed out making the Olympic Trials by only 3 seconds. My heart was set on the track, and I knew that I had room to improve.

During my two years at ZAP, my mind set has changed. Now, after my first marathon, I look at it as an event that I can be outstanding at. That dream of making an Olympic Team seems so much more tangible. This has made me feel that I took a big step towards the Olympic Trials in 2016. My foray into the marathon could have very easily ended in disappointment, as it has for many good runners. Had been the case I would have had to rethink my options. But since it went so well, I hope that I turned some heads. I have room to improve, and even as the depth of American distance running gets better and better, I can continue to improve and become one of top guys. Maybe now, my name has been thrown into the pot of hark horse picks to make the Olympic Team.

Now, I also get the chance to run another marathon at the World Championships in August of 2015! I will get to put on the USA jersey at least one more time before the Trials. If anything, this will give me more experience in at the marathon distance and a greater chance of making the Olympics.

Now I get a good two week break, which I hope to go explore some more of the East Coast. After that I will disappear into the mountains, first in North Carolina, then in Colorado. I will build up my mileage again and get ready to run the World Cross Country Trials on February 8th in Boulder. As of right now my first race back will be Club Cross Country Nationals in December, where we will bring the title back to Blowing Rock after losing by one point last year.

After such a great race, I feel that I will be focused more than before. I see end limitless possibilities and outcomes of the next year and a half. But the key will be to continue doing what has brought me my success so far, but with a keen eye on the future.

– – – – – – –

Before I go, there are so many thanks that I need to dole out. First I will start with the People at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and Twin Cities In Motion. They did an absolutely fantastic job putting on the race. They put so much time an effort into giving a great experience for all who ran. I would also be amiss if I did not also thanks the people who volunteered who helped as well. They gave up their time to bring the race to not only me, but also all who participated.

One thing that made this race so great was the crowd support. Just watch the replay below. There were so many people lining the course helping propel everyone to the finish. Minneapolis and St. Paul are truly great running towns.

Another organization that makes it possible for me to be a professional runner is USATF. Without them, there would be no National Championships, no professionalism, and no outreach for our sport. Their promotion and support of our sport is often understated.

Another thanks goes out to everyone at Western State. I got so much support from them the six years I was there. Without that help, I would not have moved on to the professional racks so successfully. I also got so many messages from current athletes and alumni. Whenever I race, I will always be representing Western, and winning this National Title would not have happened if Coach Vandenbusche would not have taken a risk on me 8 years ago. I will always cherish my time there, and will always bleed crimson and slate. Good luck the rest of the season and go and beat Adams!

I also have to thank all of the companies that sponsor myself and ZAP Fitness. Without their support, it would be much harder for ZAP to fund athletes like myself. They have shown that they believe we at ZAP can become great athletes. Over the last two years, and specifically through out my build up, I have gone through so many pairs of Reebok shoes, eaten copious amounts of PowerBar gels and bars, and timed many workouts with my Soleus Watch. I know that I can speak for the entire ZAP team when I express my gratitude towards them. Their support is unequivocally a big reason that ZAP is able to exist and we are able to chase our dreams.

My winners medals!

My winners medals!

Another thanks I need to give is to everyone associated with ZAP Fitness. I get so much support from donors, campers and Pete, Zika, and Ryan. Without it, my journey would be much more difficult. Beyond just the monetary support, this weekend I truly realized how much emotional support everyone gives. I had countless campers and donors send messages and posts of congratulations. And from what I can tell, many of you were watching live. Your support is hard to express other than, “Thank you, you guys are the best!”

Over the last two years, Pete, Zika, and Ryan have had nothing but belief in what I can accomplish and me. Their encouragement and guidance has been the cornerstone in my success. The best way that I can repay them is to continue to run my best and fulfill ZAP’s main goal and become the team’s first Olympian.

Along with everyone at ZAP who has supported me are my teammates. We are able to help each other reach our full potential. During the build up, Cole, who ran nearly every mile with me, was the best training partner I could have had. Unfortunately, he had a tough race straining his calf. I know that had that not happened, he would have a great race. While they can be quirky, I would not trade them for the world.

This list just seems to be getting longer and longer, and I would have been pushed off the stage a long time ago if this was the Academy Awards, but it is not. So, my last thanks goes out to my friends and family. I have had so much encouragement from them. I know that my grandparents are very excited about this weekend and are extremely proud of me. My parents were able to come up to Minnesota to see me win my first National Title. They were actually able to ride in the trolley leading the race, so they saw me for the entire race! They have been there for my entire journey, since I ran my first race over 11 years ago. I was so happy to have them there for such a great day.

Race Splits:
Mile 1 5:19
2 5:14
3 5:13
4 5:08
5 5:10
6 5:09
7 5:13
8 5:12
9 5:06
10 5:07
12 10:08 (Two miles)
13 5:10 67:48 (Half)
14 5:13
15 4:48
16 5:10
17 5:02
18 5:11
19 5:13
20 4:50
21 4:55
22 5:01
23 5:02
24 4:52
25 4:58
26 4:58 2:13:32


Also a big congrats to my former teammate and friend Esther Erb. She won the women’s title on Sunday. I am so excited for her and know that she is going to turn some heads over the next few years.

I was so happy that my former teammate and friend Esther won the women's race.  National Champions!

I was so happy that my former teammate and friend Esther won the women’s race.
National Champions!

Race Links

My Race Results
Top 10 Results
Medtronic Twin Cities Results Page and Photos


USATF – “Erb, Pennel claim first US titles at USATF Marathon Championships”
Runner’s World Recap
Pioneer Press – “Twin Cities Marathon: Tyler Pennel wins his first-ever marathon”
Star Tribune – “First Timer Tyler Pennel wins Twin Cities Marathon”
Down the Backstretch – “Pennel Wins His Debut”
Chron – “First-timer from NC wins Twin Cities Marathon”
Bring Me the News – “First-time marathoner wins Twin Cities Marathon”
USATF – “National Marathon Champion wins USATF Athlete of the Week”


Competitor – “Runaway Champion: Exclusive Interview With Tyler Pennel” Homepage with my QOTD


Pre-race Press Conference
Pre-race Interview
Post-race Interview
Men’s Marathon Finish
Post-race Celebration
Competitor – Photos
Full Replay

Other Marathon News

Competitor – “The State of Men’s Marathoning in the US”
Runner’s World – “The State of the US Marathon”
Competitor – Names for 2016 Olympic Marathon

Photo Gallery

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Training Log 9/28-10/4

Week of Training September 28 – October 4

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 16 “Long Run”, Surges
Monday 8 Core
Tuesday 11 Workout
Wednesday 6 6 Core
Thursday 10 Drills, 6 x 30 sec
Friday 8
Saturday 5 Drills, 4 x 30 sec
Week Total 72

This was my final week before the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. It was my lowest week of the entire cycle. I stated last week that Pete and I agreed on not having a really big taper. Unlike many other people who tapered this week, I ran quite a bit. This was by design so that I would not be stale coming into the race. I tried to keep everything I could the same, like running the same pace during runs and keep my schedule the same. I did have trouble falling asleep and was sleeping less, but that is what happens when I start to peak. Overall I think that it was a good solid taper week. It was exactly what I needed to run my best on Sunday.
The only workout for the week was a short 2 x 2 miles at race pace. I had heard from previous marathoners that this workout often feels terrible. You think, “There is no way I can run 26 miles at this pace.” I definitely had that thought as I was running the 5:02-5:05 pace I was prescribed for the workout.

While this log is short, I think that it is still important to post my training for the week, as it is the final week in my journey to the finish line in St. Paul. The last 11 weeks have been a great experience, and it makes me excited to train for another marathon. You can expect a much more in depth blog on the race in the next few days!