USA Outdoors 2015

Last Thursday night I lined up for my third USATF National Championship on the track. Coming in I was really excited to make a big jump from my previous races at USAs, especially with this being my first time racing at historic Hayward Field. I was aiming at a top 5 finish and hopefully a PB. While I did not get either of those, it was not for a lack of trying.

Just two Colorado boys leading the 10km!

Just two Colorado boys leading the 10km!

Before the race, another athlete came up to me and said that a few of the other marathoners were thinking of not letting the pace dawdle. With the temperatures hovering around ninety, we knew that most likely the race would be a slow 6 to 7 km then the racing would begin. They wanted to counter that by making the race more of a grind, which would be more beneficial to us marathoners. Knowing that often the person who leads becomes the sacrificial lamb, I did not want to commit to helping out.

Race

The gun went off and even with a fast pace, I found myself in good position, right around 5th. With Bobby Curtis (2:11 marathoner) leading, we went through 800m in 2:12 (faster than I went in my 5000m in Portland!) and that continued through the mile in 4:26. After that Aaron Braun (2:12 marathoner), kept the pace fast pulling the field through 2 miles in 8:58. At this point in the race I was torn between surging to the front to continue pressing. I had been looking at the Jumbotron and could see that there were no more marathoners near the front to help me after I led for a few laps. Then the pace slowed significantly and impulsively I went to the front. From there I started to click of 67 second laps for a mile before the hot breezy conditions began to affect me.

Leading with a "half smile!"

Leading with a “half smile!”

After a few more laps of gradual slowing, someone went around me and I began to drift back in the pack. From there I was able to regroup both mentally and physically. By the time I was refocused, there was only 2000m left and the real racing began. A few surges were made, but the field remained the same, and we became tightly bunched. Just after three laps to go, I was running in the outside of lane 1 when Galen Rupp moved out and cut me off. I ended up giving him a big shove, got a stare from him, and he took off for the move that opened up the race. I tried to go with, but I felt like my momentum had been broken and the sudden surge was too much for me to handle. I struggled home the last 800m as I only was able to run 5 minute pace.

Thoughts

My initial reaction after the race was irritation with the other marathoners in the field for not helping out like we had briefly talked about. But after that initial reaction, I realized I knew before going to the front I was going to be a sacrificial lamb. Even though pushing the pace early ended up biting me, there were athletes who struggled even more. When I talked to Pete after my race he said, “Your last 800 was tough, but there was carnage behind you.” With the first 5000m at a fast pace given the conditions, there were a lot of people that struggled from a lot farther out. Another positive is there. I came in with the 17th best PB and finished 11th. I was able to beat seven people who have a faster PB than me (one guy who has a slower PB beat me). That alone is something I can be proud of.

Later that night, when I was unable to fall asleep, I watched the replay. There were two things that Tim Hutchings (the British announcer) said that hit home with me. Around 17 minutes into the race he said, “I don’t think he is particularly experienced at this level in track racing, so there is a big learning curve.” I heard him say this and could not help but agree. I ran my first 10,000m only three years ago, so I do not have much experience in a high level 10,000m. When looking back at my tactics, I tried to run the race as if it was a road race. In road racing you can push the pace from far out and have good results. That rarely happens on the track, unless you are the best in the field. The best example of this from my career is from Peachtree last year. At three miles, I felt good and knew that I could run the hills, so I went for it. I ended up dropping the entire field besides Christo, and afterward he told me, I almost broke him. Looking back, I should have stayed with my pre race tactics of sitting back and letting the race unfold then tried moving the last few kilometers. Had I done that, I think I would have finished much higher.

Late in the race, as the racing begins! Thanks to Gary Towne (Chico State Cross Country Coach) for the photos!

Late in the race, as the racing begins!
Thanks to Gary Towne (Chico State Cross Country Coach) for the photos!

Hutchings second statement that made me pause and think was, “He looks really, really calm. There’s almost a half smile on his face. He’s enjoying this.” This happened right after I took the lead, and actually hearing it from someone else really made me stop and realize that I truly did enjoy competing, even though the race was not what I wanted. I am very lucky that I have the opportunity to be a professional runner. I get to live in one of the best areas of the country and train on some of the best trails. I get to travel all over the world and compete against other athletes. I even get to be impulsive and take the lead only to be disappointed with the outcome. But I love it.

Now I head down to Atlanta for my third time racing the Peachtree Road Race. This year the format of the race will be different as there are 4 teams, from the USA, Europe, Africa, and Asia, competing for the Peachtree Cup. The USA has a great team assembled, so we should be very competitive. I do not know if the race will be streamed live, but follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more information, as the race gets nearer. Also #PeachtreeCup and #ACJPRR will be the hashtags I will use for the race.

Results
Lap Splits
Race Replay
Last Mile
USATF Recap
LetsRun Recap
Oregon Live Recap
Michael Scott Photos

Pre USAs

Week of Training June 14 – 20

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday Shakeout 9 Race
Monday 8 Travel to NC
Tuesday 9 7 Drills and Strides
Wednesday 13 Drills and Strides
Thursday 10 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Friday 13 Workout
Saturday 10 Drills and Strides
Week Total 85

This week started out with my race at Portland Track Festival. You can read about it here.

With eleven days between my races, I was able to recover and get in one solid workout. On Friday I headed to Bass Lake to do the standard Manor-Maze Progressive. Pete wanted me to have a good workout, but leave a bit left in the tank. Heeding his sage advice, I did not “hit the workout out of the park” and stayed relaxed throughout.

Workout:
Manor-Maze Progressive, 3 min rest; 
4 x 45 sec snowball, 1:15 min rest

e2555429-cd65-4167-9467-38ac2cec1a00Tomorrow I step on the track for my final race of this coming track season. So far this cycle has been very successful, as I have run PBs in both the Mile and 5000m. This has made me very excited for the next few days.

At the last two USATF National Championships I have been 10th in the 10000m in 2013 and 9th in the 5000m in 2014. I feel fitter than I was the last two years, so the goal is a top 5 finish in the 10,000m. Another goal for the race is to run under 28 minutes. This was my goal for Payton Jordan, but I did not feel great on that day. Since Payton Jordan I have had seven weeks of splendid training and I should be able to have a great race. There are only a handful of guys who have the IAAF A Standard of 27:45, so hopefully a few guys go after that standard. That means I should just be able to race and not worry about the time too much.

Info for USAs

The 10,000m will be run on Thursday (tomorrow) at 8:15pm PST. It will be broadcasted live on USATF.tv
Also LetsRun has a few previews of both the 10,000m and 5000m. They are worth a quick glance.

Originally the plan was to run both the 10,000m and 5000m at USAs, but this week I was selected to be part of Team USA at the 46th Annual Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. While I would have liked to have another shot at the 5000m, the race is scheduled to run at 1:30 on Sunday afternoon, and the high is forecasted to be in the 90’s, so it is unlikely that it will be anything but a sit and kick affair. Instead I will just save that energy for Peachtree. The last two years Peachtree has been the USA 10km Road Championships, but this year they changed the format, and much like Bolder Boulder, the race centers on a team aspect, called the Peachtree Cup. There will be four teams from the USA, Europe, Asia, and Africa, each consisting of three girls and three guys. The team with the overall fastest combined time will be the winner. Along with myself, Team USA will be team captain Shalane Flanagan, Janet Bawcom, Rachel Ward, Christo Landry, and Bobby Curtis. I am thrilled to be a part of such a fantastic team, and hopefully we can challenge for the win!

Portland Track Festival

The Race

With my race fresh on my mind, I figured that I would start there.

Since 2009, I felt like I have not had a solid break through in the 5000m, where I dropped a shocking 26 seconds off my PB! I was hurt for the next track season, then getting back into shape for the one after. In 2012 I only shaved a paltry 3 seconds off of an already three year old PB. The next year I took another 6 seconds off, but I still felt that I had much more to give. Last year, I ran between 13:40 and 13:42 four times, twice occurring on the roads. Then this year at Mt. SAC I once again ran 13:40, totaling that number to five times in a year! At least I was consistent. I was beginning to get frustrated with little jumps here and there, especially when I knew that I was much fitter than the times I was running. So coming into this last weekend I was hoping for a big jump.

I have been riding high since breaking 4 minutes just 10 days ago. Since then I have been excited and confident leading into this race. I came in expecting a nice sizable PB, and to finally crack the 13:40 barrier, and maybe even skip the 13:30’s entirely! The rabbit was arranged to run 13:20 pace, so I figured I could just go out there and hang on.

It was a great meet in a great location! I was glad to be back!

It was a great meet in a great location! I was glad to be back!

Overall I am content with my race. An eight second PB is nothing to be upset about, even though I still think I have faster to run. I ran a smart race. I started relaxed and slowly worked my way up. My only gripe is that once the gap between the front group and the chase pack began to form I found myself in the latter. I had to run a fast 800m (around 2:07) to bridge that gap. In doing so, I left a few seconds on the track. Had I already been in closer to the front, I would not have needed to make a big move and my final 600m would have been much better.

While I was unable to close as well as I would have liked, I feel that this race was run very similar to last year at Portland. I went out conservative, pushed the middle, and was unable to close. The speed is there as I closed the last half of my mile in 1:57, it just was not there on Sunday. But like last year, I know that ten days is enough time to figure out that part of my race. Since USAs is the goal race for this cycle, I just need to be relaxed and rested. I always come back to the great Vandenbusche quote, “I want you to be oiled, greased, and ready to roll!”

Splits (estimate):
67
66, 2:13
63, 3:16
64, 4:20
65, 5:25
65, 6:30
63.5, 7:33.5
64, 8:37.5
65, 9:42.5
65.5, 10:48
65, 11:53
67, 13:00
32, 13:32

Results
Race Replay
Letsrun’s Recap
Meet Highlights (including a Darth Vader unicyclist playing flaming bagpipes!)

Week of Training June 7 – 13

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 17 Long Run
Monday 8 6
Tuesday 13 Workout
Wednesday 10 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Thursday 13 “Workout”, Core
Friday 11 Drills and Strides, Travel to OR
Saturday 8 4 x 200m
Week Total 94

This week was busy as we hosted our first camp of the season. The early part of the week was spent cleaning the lodge, mowing the lawn, and prepping for 25 people to join us for a few days. Even though camp season is much busier than the rest of the year, I always enjoy it. Every year we have people who are so excited to be coming to camp. This energy transfers to us as athletes. They are excited to have some time to not worry too much about other things, like kids and work, and just run. They are excited to spend some time with us athletes. One thing I have noticed over my few years at ZAP is how just significant these interactions are with building fans. Every year there are so many campers who follow our progress and cheer for us at races. It is exciting to see how many campers are so enthusiastic about our performances.

Traditionally on a race week Pete will have us a short Fartlek, like a 4-1, 3-1. Over the last few years both Pete and myself have figured out that I run much better when I am aerobically stimulated, so instead we opted for a longer Fartlek. I ran the entire workout on the Lake, but since it was a Fartlek, I was just running by effort. I kept it contained, even though I was running quick. I covered 12km in 38:15, which is right around 5:06 pace, and that includes the in between parts!

Workout:
5-1, 4-1, half rest, 3 min between sets

Training Log 5/31-6/6

Week of Training May 31 – June 6

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 14 5 Drills and Strides, Core
Monday 12 Workout
Tuesday 11 Drills and Strides
Wednesday 8 Drills, 4 x 200m, Travel to STL
Thursday Shakeout 8 Race
Friday 13 Travel to NC
Saturday 10
Week Total 82
Leading the race on Thursday!

Leading the race on Thursday!

This week was all about getting ready for a fast race on Thursday. I was stepping down to the mile to take a crack at sub 4 minutes. One reason that I wanted to join ZAP was that I would get the opportunity to run track. Coming out of college I thought I had years before I would move up to longer races, like the marathon. Since coming to ZAP, I have adopted Pete’s idea that you need to be a versatile runner, like the runners of the past. Guys like Bill Rodgers, Greg Meyer, and Craig Virgin could run successfully on all surfaces. Today there are so many athletes who just stick to one sphere, usually either the roads or the track. I like the idea of being able to move fluidly from one to another. There are many benefits both physiologically and psychologically of doing this. While I am sure my future running lies on the roads, I do not want to give up the track just yet. Especially when I feel like I have so much more left to accomplish on the track.

The workout for the week was a threshold mile, around 4:40, then 3 x 2:30 min, 90 sec, 45 sec down cycles. The rest was whatever was coming next, so after the 2:30 there is 90 seconds, after the 90 seconds there is 45 sec, and so on. George, Andrew, and I all did the opening mile together, and then George had a different workout so Andrew and I loped along the outer edge of the track. All the work for this coming Thursday was done so I was not pushing at all. The last thing I wanted to do was leave my race in the workout three days before.

Workout:
Threshold mile, 3 min rest;
3 x 2:30, 90 sec, 45 sec down cycles,rest what comes next

The tail end of the week was traveling and racing. I was fortunately not sore from the race so the recovery was easy. Now I have just a few more days before I race again in Portland. I head out on the first of two trips to the Beaver State to run some fast times. I will race the 5000m at the Portland Track Festival (The High Performance Meet starts at 6pm PST on Sunday). Coming in, the goal is to get a PR (13:40), but I am in much better shape than that. The pacer is scheduled to run at 13:32 (USA A Standard), and I plan on finding a place on the rail and getting pulled along to a PR. You can watch all of the races live on Flotrack starting at 6.

Sub 4

Wow! What a tremendous experience!

The mile is one of the few events that many people understand. For some reason the mystique of the sub 4 mile is something that has risen beyond just the sport of running. Maybe that is because for so long it was said to be an impossible feat to accomplish. Maybe as John Landy said, “The mile has a classic symmetry…it’s a play in four acts.” And each of those acts is an easy to comprehend minute. Whatever the reason, people always want to know two things when they learn you are a runner, “Have you run a marathon and what is your mile time?”

I went to St. Louis to run the Festival of Miles on Thursday night to take a stab at a fast mile time. Training had been going fantastic, so coming in the main goal of the race was to break 4 minutes. I had taken a few stabs at the celebrated barrier a couple of years ago, only to fall agonizingly short. Now I was much fitter and more confident than before.

The Race

The start!

The start!

Standing on the line was the usual mix of excitement and nervousness, something that you have regardless of how well prepared you are. I knew that the race was set to go fast, 2:55 at 1200m, so I figured that I was going to just get on the inevitable train that would follow the pacer. When the gun sounded, we all took off and there was plenty jostling for position. After the dust had settled, I found myself at the back of the pack, right next to Aaron Braun. I could not help but think of how fitting it was that the two marathoners in the field were at the back.

On the backstretch, I think I heard Aaron mutter something in frustration of the slow pace and then begin to move up and around the pack.

Training Log 5/24-30

Week of Training May 24 – 30

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 18 Long Run, Sugres
Monday 8 6 Drills and Strides
Tuesday 12 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Wednesday 14 Workout, Core
Thursday 10 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Friday 11 “Workout”
Saturday 10
Week Total 101

I have been feeling very good coming into my last big week of this cycle, and that trend continued this week. Since my Achilles injury in December I have had some good training weeks on paper, but I have not felt a good “training rhythm”. I often felt flat and tired during those weeks and much more draining. I struggled with my first two races back, and the early part of my track season did not go as expected. After Payton Jordan, I took a week where I only ran miles, which seemed to revive my training. Since then, I have had good workouts and been feeling great on my easy days.

The big workout for the week was a classic ZAP Fitness 7-1 Fartlek. The 7-1 Fartlek starts with a 7 minute piece and each after is one minute less, and the goal is to progress throughout the workout. Between each piece is “half rest”, or half of whatever was just run. So after the 7 minute piece, there is 3 and a half minutes before starting the 6 minute piece. Since it is a Fartlek the rest initially starts out quick, but as the pieces get faster, the rest becomes slower.

George, Andrew, Cole, and I started with the first four pieces on Bass Lake, and the last three climbing towards the Manor. It is nice to do the first pieces on the Lake, as it is important to find a rhythm. Since the goal of the workout is to progress, our first pieces are usually around 5:10-5:15 pace, but we were all feeling good and it was a pleasant surprise to come through the first mile at just under 5 minutes. The trend continued as we got three seconds faster per mile each piece. Even when we were picking up the pace, I felt controlled and relaxed.

Getting some work in at the Lake! In the middle of the 7-1 Fartlek.

Right now I am aerobically fit, which will benefit me later in the season when I am running longer distances, but I will also have to rely on that fitness to run fast in St. Louis. This season, the only real “speed” work that I have been doing is these mini workouts on the track. Pete will have me do 8 x 200m or 300m for the last part of a regular run. Since my strongest asset is my aerobic ability, I only tend need just a little bit of speed to tune up for quicker races. On Friday, Pete had me do an 8 x 300m at goal mile pace. The first four were just under 45 seconds and the last 4 all in 43 seconds. Over the last few weeks I have felt more and more comfortable running at mile pace, and this workout definitely showcased it. I feel ready to take a stab at a fast mile.

This Thursday I am taking that shot in St. Louis. Coming in the race I have only one goal, break 4 minutes. Running under 4 minutes for the mile is a benchmark in the running world and has been on my bucket list for the last few years. In college I rarely ran a mile at sea level, and if I did it was always the day after another race (actually I only ran one fresh 1500m at sea level). So basically I did not get a chance to see what I could run in a mile during college. Since arriving at ZAP I have run at least one mile every track season, and came close to breaking 4 in 2013, running 4:01.95 at the Blue Shoes Mile in Furman, South Carolina. I took another stab at the 4 minute barrier later in the season, only to fall short again. Last year, I only raced one mile and did not come nearly as close as I wanted, running 4:06.

This year, I am coming into the final part of the track season in a much better place than the previous two years. I did not have the race I wanted at Payton Jordan, but the last few weeks of training has renewed my confidence and excitement for my upcoming races. Starting my season off with a mile, especially one that is so competitive, should allow me to run fast.

I am also eager to take part in The Festival of Miles, as it looks to be such an awesome event. In a sporting world where running is relegated to the sidelines, it is exciting to take part in races that show the enthusiasm people have for the sport. While the showcase races of the evening is the men’s mile and women’s 800m, there are races for kids all the way up to professionals. If you are free on Thursday evening, tune into Flotrack to catch the races live. The men’s mile is the final race of the evening at 9:50 EST, but there are plenty of great races before!