Three Week Update

In my last blog I said that I would send out a weekly update, but that turned out to not happen. While at home, and for various reasons, I did not really have the will power to send out a blog. So now you get a nice overview of the last three weeks and my hope is that once settled in Tallahassee it should be much easier to post regularly.

Week One

12/6-12

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 21 Long Run, Surges
Monday 8 5
Tuesday 12 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Wednesday 15 Workout
Thursday 10 6 Core
Friday 12 6
Saturday 10 Travel to ATL
Week Total 111

The first week of the three was the first in the 10 week build up that Pete likes. He feels that it is long enough to get some good marathon specific sessions in, but not so long that we over-train or peak too early. Also with the training that we do year round being more aerobic anyways, the transition to marathon specificity is not hard.

The week started out with our first marathon long run. It was not much different than some of my previous long runs, only that I went a few extra miles. We had surges every ten minutes and we were moving well on the rolling hills of Watauga River Road. We ran every mile faster than the previous, and my last three were all around 5:05! It was a good way to start the road to Rio!

The lone workout of the week was a simple 10 mile progression run. This is a staple of the ZAP playbook and one that we do all year round, not just in marathon training. This makes us very familiar with how to run the workout and the route. For a workout like this we always head to Todd Railroad Grade Road. The road starts in Todd, NC and follows an old railroad along the New River. It is gradually downhill (100 feet over the course of 10 miles), and so much so that you hardly notice.

Overall the workout was good, despite the second mile being a tad too fast. But those fast first few miles, which were supposed to be around 5:30 pace, really made the last three tough. During the last 5km I just focused on maintaining my form and a high cadence as I began to tire, something that is very important for during any race, but especially true for the marathon. With all aspects equal, the person who is able to hold his or her form late in the race, will be the one who wins.

Workout:
10 mile progression run
Splits:
5:18, 5:08, 5:20, 5:20, 5:15, 5:06, 5:13, 4:56, 4:44, 4:48 = 51:10

After my run on Saturday I made the drive to Atlanta, then few out to Colorado the next day. I will spend the next two weeks in Colorado for the holidays then fly back and finish the trek to Tallahassee and our stint in Florida with begin!

Week Two

12/13-19

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 15 Light Fartlek, Travel to CO
Monday 10 6
Tuesday 8
Wednesday 21 Long Run, Surges, Treadmill
Thursday 8 6
Friday 12 8
Saturday 15 Workout: 8-1 Fartlek
Week Total 109

I started out the week in Atlanta as I was flying out to Colorado. I spent the night at a friend of Pete’s who lives right along the Chattahoochee River. There are an abundance of trails with in a half mile of his apartment, which is on the top floor of a complex with a great view of Atlanta.

After a long warm up I started a light Fartlek, 5 by 90, 45, 30 seconds, with the rest what comes next. So after the 90 seconds was 45 seconds, etc. This was the first workout that I really began to feel the “marathon grind”. For the entire run I felt lethargic and tired. The previous two weeks were beginning to catch up with me. While it is not enjoyable feeling this way, is a good thing as it means I am gaining fitness. For the next six weeks I should feel no different.

Hitting up the Community Center with the old folks! 21 miles on the ol' treadmill.

Hitting up the Community Center with the old folks! 21 miles on the ol’ treadmill.

I arrived in Colorado and within a few days over a foot had snowed, which of course happened to be on my long run day. This meant that I had to head inside for 21 miles on the treadmill. While I would have preferred to do my run outside, running over 2 hours on the treadmill was not terrible. I put on a podcast and zoned out for the first forty minutes, changing the incline and pace when I felt it was needed. After that I had some surges every ten minutes. This is what really made the run go by much faster. It kept me more occupied than I would have other wise. Another benefit of working out on the treadmill is that I was able to easily practice taking in fluid. With out the help of Pete and Ryan, it is much harder to practice fluid intake. With two slots on the treadmill for bottles I was covered! Even though I was tired, I finished the long run well, running near 5 min pace while all the old folks walked beside me.

The other workout I had for the week was an 8-1 Fartlek. The 7-1 Fartlek is a standard workout at ZAP, and the only difference is that there is an additional 8 minute piece at the beginning. It adds another 12 minutes (over two miles) to the workout, as the rest is “half time.”

I was able to have a good long run earlier in the week, but I was still tired as this workout rolled around. I set off with the idea to do an out and back on a trail, and in the first 8 minute piece I felt alright. The path was slightly uphill and into the wind, but the trees lining the path helped keep the wind at bay. I started out the 7 minute piece and around halfway through, I went around a bend and there was no more trees. The last half of the 7 minute piece was tough. I could feel myself slowing down fighting the wind. I finished the rep and took the float much slower than normal. Ideally the float section is fairly fast at the beginning of the workout, so the first half is more of a tempo effort, and gradually slows down as the on pieces get faster and shorter. Since I was struggling, I turned around for the 6 minute piece so that I could be running slightly downhill and with the wind. This helped tremendously. For the rest of the workout I would take the on pieces down and the float uphill.

Since I was able to recover from the tough 7 minute piece, I was able to have an OK workout. I was able to complete the workout and get the work in, which is most important right now. It was also a reminder that not all the workouts are going to be fantastic. Ones that are “home runs.” This fall I was feeling great, running great workouts, and great races. It was easy to forget that earlier in the fall, I was feeling tired and had some workouts that were just OK. It is all a process, and feeling tired now does not mean I will always be tired. On the contrary, as I adapt to the higher mileage I will start to feel better.

We took a drive up Lookout Mountain in Golden!

We took a drive up Lookout Mountain in Golden!

Also this week, Nicole visited Colorado on her way back from Club Cross Country in San Francisco. I was excited to show her where I grew up and the awesomeness of Colorado (Ballerado as Cole sarcastically calls it). With the big snowfall she was able to get the full experience of Colorado. On Sunday night we had an early birthday party for me at my parents house, and since her flight was late getting in, she arrived to a house full of my family and friends all waiting to meet her (and see me too I guess). She also shoveled her first driveway. She thought it was fun, but she has only done it once! We went on a scenic drive up Lookout Mountain, which overlooks all of the Denver Metro Area, and walked along downtown Golden to look at the lights. I was sad to see her head back to Atlanta, but we had a good time together in Colorado.

Week Three

12/20-26

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 12 8
Monday 8 Birthday!
Tuesday 12 8
Wednesday 14 Workout
Thursday 10 6
Friday 24 Long Run, Surges, Christmas!
Saturday 10
Week Total 112

My workout this week was a “downcycle” workout. This is a standard of the ZAP playbook as it works on many things. Mostly it works on changing gears while running fast, which is always important in races especially road races. The only difference was that I had way more reps than normal.

Workout:
5,4,3 x 2:30 min “downcycle”, 90 sec float, 3 min between sets

I headed to Crown Hill Park, which has a great paved 2km loop around a lake to do my workout. With having to practice fueling during my workouts, this was a good place that I could do that without having to drive and drop them off different places.

Overall the workout was good. About half the loop had a nasty headwind (that also means the other half had a tailwind!) which lead to a pretty significant change of pace. But most of the early work in marathon training is more about getting in the work in than running specific paces.

Just a few days later, on Christmas, I had a long run. This was because it was supposed to snow on Christmas night. I would rather have done my long run a day early than do a repeat of the treadmill. With this long run being more of a TOF (time on feet) long run, I ended up running the longest I have ever gone in training! Fortunately I made the right call as it snowed around six inches that night, which made for a true “White Christmas”.

Break

One thing I have noticed is that after a break, it always takes me a while to get back into the swing of things, especially on getting back on a weekly posting schedule. Part of it is that I am a terrible procrastinator, and another part is that I do not like to put out a half ass (pardon my French) blog out there. I try to hold myself to a high standard, which often leads to me editing and reediting my writing. Hopefully from here I should post every week leading to the Trials!

For the sake of simplicity I am going to give a week by week recap, so there should be three sections for the three week since my last blog!

Me and the parents at the Jefferson Memorial. The lighting was awesome right at dusk!

Me and the parents at the Jefferson Memorial. The lighting was awesome right at dusk!

After finishing a fantastic fall season, I was looking forward to little break before the madness that is marathon training. Rather than spend it at ZAP, I stayed a few days exploring Washington and the surrounding area with my parents. We had a busy few days going to Harper’s Ferry and Antietam (Sharpsburg) Battlefield on Monday, the Manassas (Bull Run) Battlefield on Tuesday, and the National Mall on Wednesday. It was fun to explore these historical sites, especially as a history nerd, and the Civil War being the first historical period that captured my interest while still in elementary school. There is so much history packed into such a small area in northern Virginia and Maryland, that we were only able to see a portion of it.

From DC I headed back to Blowing Rock for a few days before I headed to Greenville, SC and eventually Atlanta to spend Thanksgiving with Nicole. It was nice to have a family Thanksgiving, compared to some that I have spent at the Black Bear Restaurant at the Hartford Airport. While in Atlanta, we explored a bit of the downtown area, and on Friday we went to Lake Lanier to look at the Christmas light display.

A perfect day for a hike along the Parkway

A perfect day for a hike along the Parkway

Eventually I had to get back to Blowing Rock as the build in week for marathon training started on November 29th. I had a good two week break that included a copious amount of food and some time off of my feet. I felt recharged both mentally and physically. Now, the over two months of hard training leading into the Trials did not seems so daunting. That week Griff and I had our first workout, a simple ladder Fartlek while climbing up the Blue Ridge Parkway. It ended up being a good workout even though I felt a little flat, but that is to be expected when coming off of a break. Other than a good long run on Sunday previous, the week was just simple easy to medium miles, the heart of marathon training. Also that week Nicole made the trip up to Blowing Rock for the weekend. We were able to spend some more time together and even went on hike along the Parkway. Lately the weather has been fantastic, probably making up for the abundant rainfall we have had this fall, and we chose a great day to go and hike!

After this last week, the traditional 10 week marathon build up starts. Split into seven 10 day cycles, meaning that Pete will have us do a marathon specific long run every 10 days with either one or two workouts between. Essentially taking a 7 day week and elongating it. We did this style of training for the build up to Twin Cities, and I responded well. Also in the build up for Twin Cities, I ran a “race” where the first 10 miles were marathon pace, then picked it up for the final three. I will be doing the same thing in this build up a the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon, only this time I will be the “official pacer” for guys aiming at running the Olympic Trials half marathon standard of 65 minutes. Right now there are over 60 guys running the race and over 30 of them are looking to hit the standard (the other half have already hit the standard!).

11/15-21

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 13 Race
Monday 5
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday Travel to NC
Friday 7
Saturday
Week Total 25

11/22-28

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 12
Monday 10
Tuesday 10
Wednesday
Thursday 10
Friday
Saturday 8
Week Total 50

11/29-12/5

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 19 Long Run, Surges
Monday 8 5
Tuesday 12 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Wednesday 14 Workout
Thursday 12 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Friday 12 Hike
Saturday 10
Week Total 104
Workout:
1-5,-5-1 min Fartlek along the Parkway, half rest