RIP Cameron 1986-2015

What a whirlwind this week has been. I missed putting out a race recap last week, as every time I began to write, I could not put any words on paper. For those of you who do not know, last week the running world was hit by two tragic deaths, one close to home. The first passing was of Sarah “Stump” Sumpter on Monday. While I did not personally know her, I have a vivid memory of being at the Mt. SAC Relays as seeing this bald girl leading the race. You could see the drive in her eyes as she was giving it her all in that race. Not knowing her story at the time, I could only assume that she was in the middle of a fight with cancer, and it was inspirational.

Also on Monday, former ZAP athlete, Cameron Bean died of injuries sustained in collision with a car while out on a run. Cameron had been an athlete at ZAP for 5 years, and came to ZAP with the promise that Pete would coach him. Initially, he did not have any standard that qualified him as an athlete, having only run a 9:01 steeple while in college. The next year he ran a time that would qualify him as a “B” athlete, and the year after, the “A” standard. In the three years I knew him, he was a driven and competitive runner, always doing whatever he could to improve. He left ZAP this summer, and even after a year of setbacks, he was determined to become a triathlete.

Richmond 8k 2012Unfortunately, for most of the time I knew Cameron, he was just a teammate to me. We had a falling out during my first year at ZAP, and our relationship could be described as turbulent at best. Looking back, I know we had an affect on each other. Through Cameron I was able to see my own faults, and I hope it was the same for him. Our unfriendliness towards each other became a force that made each of us a better person, but not towards each other. We will never get a chance to make amends, as both of us were too proud to admit our faults. I send my sympathies to the Bean family, as I can only imagine the pain that they are going through. I know that Cameron will live on through memories and the people he influenced.

RIP Cron$ity

As there was tragedy this week, there also was joy. On Saturday, Cole and Esther got married! Despite the weather, which was in the middle of 80 hours of constant rain, it was a beautiful ceremony with Esther’s smile illuminating the dreary evening. It was an appropriate way to finish an emotionally tiring week.
Coming up next, I have the 10 mile champs on Sunday, where I return to Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Last year I had a fantastic day and won my first national title. I return with confidence that the streets of St. Paul will be just as kind this year. The race will be live on USATF.tv, but for updates follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Also, here is an interview headed into the race!

9/13-19

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 17 Long Run, Surges
Monday 8 6 Drills and Strides
Tuesday 14 Workout
Wednesday 10 6
Thursday 13
Friday 10
Saturday 8 Pre Race, 4 x 30 sec
Week Total 92
Workout:
3 x 2:30 downcycle (90 sec between), more like a tempo effort;
3 x 3 min, 90 sec, 45 sec; rest what comes next, 2 x 400m, in 62, 58

9/20-26

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 8 Race, Travel to NC
Monday 10
Tuesday 11 Drills and Strides
Wednesday 15 8 x 20 sec
Thursday 16 Workout
Friday 10 6
Saturday 17 Long Run, Surges
Week Total 93
Workout:
45000m progressive, 4 min rest;
3 x 2:30, 90 sec, 45 sec snowballs, Rest what comes next;
Manor Climb (2.85 miles) (14:20)
Splits:
4:50, 4:45, 4:40 (1500m)

Training Log 9/6-12

Week of Training September 6 – 12

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 8 4 x 30 sec
Monday 17 Race
Tuesday 8 4
Wednesday 12
Thursday 10 Shakeout Drills and Strides
Friday 13 20 x 200m
Saturday 13 Blue Shoe Run
Week Total 85

Having raced on Monday, this week was all about recovery. Many of my runs were slow and relaxed. In fact I even ran with a few high school teams!
After New Haven, rather than go back to North Carolina, I headed back to Colorado to visit (I had not been back since Christmas time), and to promote The Blue Shoe Run for Prostate Cancer. Part of my promotion and being an ambassador for the race was to go to a few local high schools and give a talk and run with them. I ended up going to four high schools, including my alma mater, Golden. While I had loads fun doing this, it was pretty draining while trying to recover from the 20km. This meant that I did not do much of anything else for the first few days.

On Friday I had my first faster effort of the week since the race. After an extended warm up, I jumped onto the track for a session of 20 x 200m. Pete wanted me to run pretty quick overall, starting at 31 seconds and ending in 29 seconds. This was the fastest I had run for an extended period of time since the track season, which makes sense, as I am getting ready for the CVS 5km this weekend. I felt pretty relaxed even as the pace increased. This should set me up well for this weekend!

Me with the winner of the women’s race, 11 year old Laine Szuch. She is quite a talent running 18:49 for 4th overall!

Friday afternoon I went with my parents to the Liberty Bell Invitational. Liberty Bell is one of the largest high school “cross country” races in Colorado. I put cross country in quotes, because it is more of a road race than a cross country race. Blazing fast times are always run, because the course is net downhill and a good portion of the course is run on asphalt, while the rest is run on hard packed dirt. Unfortunately I was never able to run there in high school to post a fast time, but it was fun to be there and recall the atmosphere of high school cross country races.

Saturday was the day I ran the Blue Shoe Run. It was a lot of fun to be out there promoting the race. With a heavy fall racing schedule, I just ran easy, cheering on the other runners. After I finished, I started to jog back and picked up my high school team and mom, who were walking the race. The race ended up having over 1200 finishers the largest turn out ever, and raised thousands of dollars to fight Prostate Cancer! I was truly grateful that I had this opportunity to come back to Colorado and support a fantastic race.

New Haven 20km

On Saturday, Griff, George, and I were up before the crack of dawn so we could get our runs in before we flew north to the Constitution State (and the home of Pete). After a relatively easy travel, which hardly ever happens when flying, we landed in Hartford and drove to the Elm City. I spent the afternoon relaxing and took a walk around the Green and Yale University. The next day, we picked up the racecourse at the 7 mile mark and ran the second half of the course to familiarize ourselves with it. The rest of the day was spent lounging around and to loosen up my legs, I once again took a walk around the Green, which is a great for people watching, as it is a happening place. Overall the couple of days before this race, nothing out of the ordinary really happened. Which is a good thing, as us runners live and die on our routines.

Race

Coming down the final stretch!  Photo by: Peter Hvizdak - New Haven Register

Coming down the final stretch!
Photo by: Peter Hvizdak – New Haven Register

To be honest, I do not remember much of the first few miles of the race, except there were many small surges thrown in. I do not know why people were surging and then backing off so early in the race, but I just focused on relaxing and not getting pulled into their games. As per my race plan, I was just trying to conserve as much energy as possible until the last few miles, so I zoned out knowing that as long as the pace did not become extremely fast, I could comfortably run with the leaders. As we neared the seven mile mark, which is where the course loops back next to “The Green” I started bring my mind back into focus. This is the point of the course that Griff, George, and I had run the day before, so I was familiar with my surroundings. I was still feeling very good and especially since the pace had slowed ever so slightly.

As we neared the long hill in the ninth mile, Dathan Ritzenhein (Ritz) went to the front and began to really ratchet the pace up. We began our accent of the hill, and I began running up onto Ritz’s heels. I am a great hill runner, so going up the hill I wanted to go around and continue with the current rhythm, but I checked myself and concentrated on relaxing; getting to the top using as little energy as possible. Eventually the hill crested right at the ten mile mark where there was a steep downhill where Ritz and Jared Ward began to pull away from me. Not wanting them to get too far away, I had to gradually reel them back to me. I was not the only one with that idea, as both Luke Puskedra and Sam Chelanga, who had fallen farther back than me, joined our group. We turned onto Whitney Avenue, a straight shot to the finish, and I found myself in the lead for the first time of the day! I had held off on leading for nearly 11 miles of the race, which is atypical for me.

From there I was kind of at a loss what to do. Coming in, I had a plan of going at Denny, the Triceratops statue (Yes I named the dinosaur), which was just over a half mile out from the finish. Now I was in the lead a mile earlier than that! Eventually I settled on sticking with the original plan of making my bid for the win at Denny. I just need to get there relaxed as I could, with 5% left in the tank, as Pete would say. Regardless, the pace was increasing as the final couple of miles are slightly downhill. Eventually Denny came into view, and before I knew it, Ritz took off! Immediately I tried to respond, but I much as I wanted, I could not find another gear. Over the final 800m I watched as the other four in the lead group incrementally pulled away.

Thoughts

While I did not accomplish my goal of winning the race, I was very pleased with my performance. Often my first race of a season is disappointing. Looking back to my first year at ZAP in 2012, my first race in a ZAP uniform was at the Blue Ridge Open in Boone. I ran awful, getting beat by numerous college guys. Then a month later I went and ran over two minutes faster at the Richmond 8km and had a great Manchester Road Race. The next fall, it was pretty much the same story, as I ran a mediocre cross country race at the Mayor’s Cup in Boston, then three weeks later placed third at both the inaugural .US Championships and the Manchester Road Race. I feel like this year I came into the 20km closer to race shape than other years. I had less time between my last race of the previous season and first race of the new season. On Monday, I was only nine weeks removed from my last race, while in previous years it had been over three months. While my last four weeks of training tired my legs and sapped my kick, I was still in “racing mode.”

They really know how to get my good side! It was warm out there and we were splashing water every chance we got. Photo by: Peter Hvizdak - New Haven Register

They really know how to get my good side! It was warm out there and we were splashing water every chance we got.
Photo by: Peter Hvizdak – New Haven Register

Another big positive I am able to take away from this race is the fact that I came in with a specific race plan and intently followed it. My main goal for these fall races is to compete and to race and place high. For me, these are about getting race experience heading into 2016. That means I need to thoroughly think through each race and form a race plan. While I do think I have good race instincts, my best races have come when there is a race plan in place. Even if it is as simple as stick with the leaders for as long as possible. But I do not like that plan as it inherently assumes someone is going to beat me. I want my plans to assume that I am going to be winning races. That means I look at what my strengths and weaknesses are as a runner, and play to those strengths. If the 20km shows anything, it is that my aerobic system is very strong, but that my finish is still lacking. That is encouraging as I know my kick will come with both more training and racing, which I have plenty of each in the next few weeks!

Lastly, running this race made me remember how much I love road racing, especially when I am running well. While I was proud and enjoyed my track season this summer, there is something different about racing on the roads. I do not know what exactly it is, but that it is different. Maybe it is the camaraderie of everyone on the roads that is not quite the same on the track. You always see familiar faces, but also meet new people, like my roommate Parker Stinson. Or it might be the festival atmosphere that large road races emanate. Maybe it is the cold hard cash that you can get for running well. Whatever the reasons, fall is my favorite season.

I would also be amiss if did not mention my teammates. Both George and Griff ran superb races, with George cracking the top 10 in 1:01:10 for his first race over 10km, and Griff placing 12th in the middle of marathon training, running 1:01:48. Overall it was a good day for ZAP.

From here I am spending a week and a half in Colorado visiting family and running the Blue Shoe Run for Prostate Cancer. If you are in the Denver area, come to City Park on Saturday morning and run a race that supports a great cause. It will be a great event and should have a party like atmosphere. After my short trip to Colorado, I head back to New England to Providence, Rhode Island for the CVS Downtown 5km. Two weeks later I head to Minneapolis and St. Paul for the Medtronic TC 10 Mile. Having talked with many people this weekend, both fields should be loaded with many of the guys I raced this weekend. Both Sam and Ritz will be at the 5km in two weeks, and the top six from New Haven will all be at the 10 mile. I am excited to race many of these guys again, with the optimism that the results will be different.

Race Results
USATF Race Recap
New Haven Register Recap
Race Highlights
Post Race Interview
Race Photos

Training Log 8/30-9/5

Week of Training August 30 – September 5

  Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 16   Long Run
Monday   5 Core
Tuesday 10 6 9 x 30 sec, Drills, Core
Wednesday 12   Workout
Thursday 9 6 Core
Friday 13   Drills and Strides, Core
Saturday 9   Treadmill, Travel to CT
  Week Total 86  
Workout with the "Crime Dog"! 5-1, 4-1 Fartlek at the Park.

Workout with the “Crime Dog”! 5-1, 4-1 Fartlek at the Park.

This week was my first down week in three weeks, so I was looking forward to getting well rested before New Haven on Labor Day. It was a pretty typical week of training, and was busy with getting ZAP ready for our final adult camp of the year over the weekend! So far it has been a busy summer with lots of camps and groups staying at ZAP. We have had a group nearly every week. But even though it is busy, it is always great to meet new campers and welcome back returnees.

My workout for the week was a 5-1, 4-1 Fartlek. Pete and I have found that I run well when I do this workout the week of my races. Over the years I have found that I run well when I do not taper too much for races, and that includes workouts. This workout is nearly 40 minutes of continuous running where over half is tempo based. As all Fartleks, we take half time rest, and the first set is more “even.” Meaning that there is less difference between the on and off pace. Then as the workout progresses, the on pieces get faster and the off become easier, almost to a slush jog.

Workout:
5-1, 4-1 min, half time rest, 3:30 min between sets

The rest of the week was spent running easy to get the legs rested for the New Haven Road Race on Labor Day.

Training Log 8/23-29

Week of Training August 23-29

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 20 Long Run, Surges
Monday 8 6
Tuesday 11 6 Strides
Wednesday 14 Workout
Thursday 11 6 Strides
Friday 14 Drills and Strides
Saturday 10
Week Total 106

Once again, I had a great week of training, which makes me even more excited for my upcoming road racing season. While my legs feel a bit tired and worn out after a good training block, I have more than enough time to find that “pop”.

Just like last week, I only had one workout in the middle of the week. In the fall, Pete tends to go back to the basics, so we en up doing many of the same workouts from previous seasons. One of those is “Bookend kms.” This is a workout where six 1000m are sandwiched between two 2000m reps, hence the name bookends. We tend to do the first few reps on the grass field at the Greenway then finish on the paved path, so it is a great workout both for cross country and road racing. This has been one of my favorite workouts that I have done at ZAP. I am not sure why. Maybe because I know that if I get through the grass portion, I always feel better on the paved path. But during this workout, it was awesome to feel great on the grass as well. All the reps felt almost mechanical; that it was just something I was doing at the time. Then I when I moved to the pavement, I was only running faster. Once again we finished off the workout with something faster to stimulate those faster twitch muscles, especially while tired. After a few minutes rest, I ran four 600m “snowball” reps. Most of these were around 35 seconds for the first 200m, 32-33 seconds for the middle 200, and 30-31 for the final 200. I was concentrating on maintaining my form as the pace increased into the final “sprint”.

Workout:
2km, 6 x 1km, 2km; 2:30 min rest, 1:45 min between 1kms, 3:30 after last 2km;
4 x 600m snowball; 2:15 min rest
Splits:
6:00, 2:58, 2:56, 2:56, 2:56, 2:50, 2:49, 5:46;
1:38, 139, 1:37, 1:37


The rest of the week was just easy miles as it was the end of a hard three week training block. Running lots of easy aerobic miles is a building block of our training system at ZAP. It is something that enjoy, whether I do them on my own, typically listening to a podcast, or bantering with my teammates. Now I just have to focus on getting refreshed and ready to race on September 7th in New Haven!