Mid NYC Marathon Update

Workout this morning with the young guns!

Workout this morning with the young guns!

Since it has been a while since my last update, I figured it was a good time to give one! There is just over six weeks until NYC on November 6th, so that means I am in the heart of marathon training. For this marathon, Pete thought it would be best to go with an 11 week marathon cycle, but still stick with the 10 day cycles. So the first week was just a typical 7 day week, with a long run on Sunday and a Fartlek with some climbing on Wednesday. The next 10 day cycle started with a long run, finishing the last few miles quickly. Wednesday was a workout with tempo pieces bookending 10 x km. The following Tuesday, I had my first marathon specific long run out at Todd Railroad Grade Road. It was a session that I had not done in my previous two marathon build ups: 2 miles, 1 mile float, 1 mile, 1 mile float, all repeated three times. This was a tough session, as it was nonstop with lots of pace changing. I ended up running each five mile segment faster: 26:40, 26:23, 26:10 (1:19:13 total for the 15 miles). I was happy with the session, as I did not feel great during, but was still able to run the prescribed pace.
I nearly finished off the week near 120 miles, but leading up to my workout on Saturday, my hip began to get sore. I was noticeably limping while running, so Pete and I decided to scrap the workout and not risk aggravating my hip more. I immediately took the next three days off and scheduled an MRI for the following week. I was able to get an MRI (which showed nothing out of the ordinary) and was able to start training again on the Alter G. After three days on the Alter G, We felt confident enough to try a run outside. Then this past Sunday, I did a longer run with some moderate surging. While my hip was not 100%, it was able to pass the test, so we are going to start back into marathon training.
When an injury initially rears its head, I tend (and feel like it is a pretty universal runner’s response) to first not accept there is any injury. It is so easy to just train through it. I have been guilty in the past. But one thing I have learned in over a decade of running is that it is often better to take a little break now, and not let a little niggle blow up into something much larger. Following that rule would have saved me combined years of injury. So swallowing my pride, I accepted that time off was the best course of action. In total I only ended up taking off only a few days with some shorter days on the Alter G. I missed going to Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half Marathon for a race simulation workout, but both are a small price to pay for getting to the starting line healthy in November.
Other hidden “benefits” from this injury is that I was forced to take some days off. Pete had planned a few down days for right after Philly, but the break was just pushed up a week. Another is that this break helped pull my fitness back. When you are healthy and getting fit, it is easy to get a little overzealous are run too hard in workouts. While this is a good way to find yourself really fit, it is also a good way to be fit too early. I am still over 6 weeks away from NYC and I may not be able to do a killer steady state at marathon pace right now, but I know that I will be toeing the line on race day oiled, greased, and ready to roll.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and with my injury in the review mirror, knock on wood, it is easy to look at the benefits. But taken in a whole, I have an 11 week build up to NYC, so that means I had 3 weeks of good training at the start, along with 7 weeks leading up to the race. By a strict percentage(10/11), that is over 90%, an A! Basically in a long winded way I am saying, shit happens, but that does not mean the far off goal lost. You just have to find a different way to get there. Fortunately I only had to take a little detour before getting back on track, and I hope to keep it that way! Until next time, which will hopefully be much sooner and hopefully be something a little different from most of anything I have done in the past.

Training Log 1/24-1/30

Week of Training January 24 – 30

2 WEEKS TO GO!!!

  Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 10   Treadmill
Monday 10 6 Core, Drills and Strides
Tuesday 12   Workout
Wednesday 10 8 Core
Thursday 13   Drills and Strides, Core
Friday 21   Long Run
Saturday 8 5 Core
  Week Total 103  
Last long run in the books!

Last long run in the books!

After ending last week with a small niggle, I was able to quickly get back into full training. Since it was my quad that was hurt, Pete wanted me to run on the treadmill on Sunday so that I could run uphill the whole time. While any running engages the quads, running uphill limits quad engagement and the glutes are used more.

After Sunday’s run, I was officially back to normal training, and had a workout on Tuesday. It was not a long marathon workout, but it was a good confidence booster to do it after this little set back. My workout was a simple 2:30 downcycle session, split into two sets of 5 and 4. At the Miccosukee Greenway there is about a 4 minute loop, so it worked perfect to run there.

Workout:
5/4 2:30 downcycles, 90 sec float, 3 min between sets

Scheduled for Friday was the last Long Run and hard workout before the Trials. I always love a good long run (ask anyone on the team), and it is one of the reasons that I love marathon training. So I had specific instructions from Pete to keep this one in control, as this is the last big workout before the trials. At this point there is only so much I can do to get more fit, and it is more important to get to the line healthy and fresh.

Workout:
5 miles warm up/easy, 4 miles down to 5:20’s, 4 miles at 5:05-5:00, Mile float;
6 x 1200m, 400m float, Mile cool down
Splits: 35:30, 21:30, 5:50, 20:08; 3:37, 3:37, 3:35, 3:34, 3:32, 3:32

With the last hard effort in the books, I am now just biding my time until the Trials. Basically the mantra for the next two weeks is, “stay healthy and refresh.” There is not much more I can do to increase my fitness. Most of the science shows it takes 10-14 days for any benefit from an aerobic workout to be seen. From here it is all downhill, lowering the miles, but not too much that I feel stale.

Ups and Downs of Marathon Training

3 Weeks to go!

January 17 – 23

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 8 Core
Monday 10 6 10 x 35 sec, Core
Tuesday 21 Long Run
Wednesday 8 6 Core
Thursday 8
Friday Off
Saturday 6
Week Total 73
Cruising along at St Marks! Feeling good for in a few weeks time!

Cruising along at St Marks! Feeling good for in a few weeks time!

For the last five years I have been relatively healthy. Other than four weeks last winter, I have not taken off more than a few days due to injury. All of this is part of the process, and when injury rears its ugly head, how you deal with it is often the most important . A quick and smart reaction can keep a minor leg crap from developing into something much worse. My week started out with a fantastic long run on Tuesday, one that I gained lots of confidence headed into the Trials. Then a little hiccup at the end of the week put a damper on everything, but a quick allowed me to only miss a few days of training.

The Ups

Tuesday’s long run was a standard marathon long run from the Pete Rea playbook. In the build up to Twin Cites, I did this workout on the course, during Cole and my course preview. After a warm up I had a workout of 5, 4, 3, and 1 miles, with a mile float in between each, so 16 miles total. Each segment was supposed to be a tad faster than the previous. We headed to the St. Marks bike path, as that is the closest we can get to what the LA course will be like. We even did the whole workout within the first three miles of the path, to replicate a complete 180-degree turn while running fast.

Workout:
5-4-3-1, mile float between

Overall it was a good workout. I was just a tad faster than what Pete had prescribed, especially on the float, but it all felt relaxed, like I could run that pace in the middle of a marathon. Since this is one of the first workouts that I can compare to my previous build up, that is what I will do!

Splits:
5:01, 5:03, 5:04, 5:07, 5:00 (25:15), 5:36; 
4:59, 4:57, 4:58, 4:57 (19:53), 5:26; 
4:53, 4:51, 4:50 (14:35), 5:38; 4:42 
16 miles in 1:21:10, 5:04 avg.
TC Splits:
5:04, 5:13, 5:00, 4:57, 5:00 (25:14); 5:45;
4:53, 5:00, 4:55, 4:50 (19:38); 5:40;
4:59, 4:53, 4:57 (14:49, Up the hills!); 5:38; 4:50
16 miles in 1:21:34, 5:06 avg.

Looking at the workout as a whole, there is not much difference between the two. I ran only 24 seconds slower over the 16 miles at the TC build up, which most of that time was from having slower floats, like I was prescribed. But the fast floats showed I was able to recover while running fairly fast, and was able to gain some confidence. After each interval was not “dying” to slow down. I was very much in control and trying to slow down. For example the first 400m of my first float was at 5:20 pace and made a conscious effort to slow down even more!

Another thing that really stands out to me is how much more even of a pace I was running this time. On the relatively flat St. Marks bike path, I was able to find a good rhythm and cruise. This was probably another reason why I was able to recover while being so relaxed on the floats. I must also mention that the Twin Cites course is much hillier than the bike path, which changed how I ran the workout. I specifically remember gaining great deal of confidence from being able to run sub 5 minute miles up those late hills on the TC course, knowing that if I could do that in the race, I would put myself in a good position to win. With that confidence, I made my move on those hills and broke open the race, running 4:55, 5:01, and 5:02 for miles 20-23.

The biggest difference that is not shown in the times is how I felt. During the workout, I kept it much more in control. This build up, I am not trying to hit the workouts “out of the park.” And sticking with the baseball analogy, it is much better to be a Joe DiMaggio and have a 56 game hitting streak and a .325 career batting average, than Barry Bonds, all drugs aside, and hit 762 home runs, but strikeout over 80 times a season (Joe only struck out 34 times a season). Now, I am a much more accomplished runner. I am the 2014 USA Marathon Champion, broke 4 for the mile, and just finished my most successful season in the fall. And this has led me to not have to prove anything in workouts, like I did last time (running sub 5 up those hills). In these last 18 months, my entire view of training has changed. I am more focused on keeping everything a bit more restrained, knowing that getting quality workouts in is more important than running hard, and placing my trust in Pete and the process.

While on the topic, some great advice from LetsRun founder Weldon Johnson is “there are no bonus points for running ‘hard.’ The point is to run fast. There is a difference.” (Also the whole article is a good read). This idea is something that one often has to learn the hard way, which was the way I learned it.

The last mile was supposed to be fastest of the day. In the TC workout, it was the fastest, but tied for the fastest, and I was exhausted when I finished. There was not much faster I could have run. On Tuesday, I elected to finish the workout on the slight uphill of the first mile of the bike path, again replicating the finish of LA. Also I snowballed it on the quarters. While I was working hard to run pace, every quarter would approach and I could easily find another gear, so by the end I was running around 4:30 pace! From this I was able to gain confidence that I will be able to run fast the last few miles at the trials.

The Downs

The afternoon of the workout, my right quad was a little sore. But with a harder effort, that can be expected, so I ignored it. The next day, the soreness was gone and I had completely forgotten about it. Then on Thursday, two days after the workout, I was 3 miles or so into the run and my quad was starting to feel really sore and tight. Now I was fully aware of it, but since the pain was not sharp or changing my stride, I just dealt with it. A few miles later it began to spasm and I had to stop for a couple of minutes. I started running slowly and for a few minutes the pain receded back to the previous level. Then it struck again and I was stopped in my tracks. After that I had trouble starting again, and when I did, I could tell my stride was off and it hurt placing weight on my leg. With so much on the line in LA, I took the hard route and began to walk and hitched a right the few miles back to the starting area.

While the hard choice to make is to cut the run short and not muscle through the pain, it is usually the correct choice. I had to tell myself, that I am very fit right now and a few days easy will not change that fact. I ended up taking Friday completely off and pushed an easy, tester run on Saturday to the afternoon to maximize the amount of recovery time between runs. With no pain during the run, only some soreness after, I ran a bit more on Sunday, and yesterday I was back to a pretty standard day. So rather than a small cramp turning into something else, I took a few easy days to remain healthy.

Our annual team dinner at Decent Pizza.

Our annual team dinner at Decent Pizza.

Out of this episode, I can take a few positives. One is how much I have matured and grown. College Tyler would have tried to push through the pain, probably leading to either a more serious quad injury or a compensation injury. I was able to look at the bigger picture and make the better choice in the long term.

Another positive is that it was a reminder to keep up on the little things, like hydration, stretching, and nutrition. My first year at Western, Coach Vandenbusche (and more on him later) would say that it takes 10 things to make a good runner. I often forget the first nine. There were things like eating well, taking vitamins, stretching, etc., but the tenth was most important. I can still hear his booming voice, “And all of those I just listed, don’t mean anything if you can’t do the tenth. Stay healthy.” If I am not healthy and running, then doing all the other things is futile. The way to get better is run, it is just all the little things that allow you to stay healthy.

– – –

Before I sign off for the week, I have to share a great website. Coach Vandenbusche built a program at Western that I was fortunate to get to be apart of. I was only under his tutelage for one year, but his legacy has lived on. For over 35 years he was at the helm of a program he built to become one of the best in the NCAA, and I was able to be apart of it. With that said I would like to share one memory I have of Coach.

I when I was looking at colleges to go to, I every other school told me that I could “walk on”. On the other hand, Coach Vandenbusche made a personal visit to my parents’ house and offered me a scholarship. He must have seen some potential in me and took a chance. This was all an awkward kid from Golden needed. Without the confidence that Coach Vandenbusche had in me, I would not have spent six fantastic years in the Gunnison Country, nor would I be where I am now.

In under three weeks time, I will line up on the streets of LA, hoping that I can add to his legacy and the legacy he built at Western State and be the third Olympian from Western.

Here is a video of Coach’s speech, after being inducted into the USA Track and Field Coach’s Association Hall of Fame.

 

 

Training Log 1/10-16

Week of Training January 10-16

4 weeks to go!!!

  Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 8 6  
Monday 12 8 Drills and Strides
Tuesday 19   Workout
Wednesday 8 6 Core
Thursday 12 8 Core
Friday 12 8 8 x 20 sec, Drills, Core
Saturday 10 5 10 x 35 sec
  Week Total 122  

This week was my highest week ever! But with that said, it is only 4 miles more than my previous highest week, which just so happened to coincide with the same week in my build up to Twin Cities in 2014. Actually my two build ups have been very similar in terms of miles run and even workouts, but there has been some key differences. Pete has been more aggressive in my workouts building up to the Trials. With one successful marathon training cycle under my belt, Pete wanted to push the envelope. The changes are not much, but over the course of a marathon, even a fraction of a percent can make a huge difference.

It was nice to have some company for part of my workout!

It was nice to have some company for part of my workout!

The lone workout for the week was a long one: nearly 80 minutes of running! It started with three miles of in’n’outs on the 200m, followed by a 9 mile progression run, then two miles of 200m in’n’outs. The 200m in’n’outs are inspired by the famous 30-40 workout of Bill Dellinger at the University of Oregon. The goal of the 30-40 is to run 200m alternating 30 seconds and 40 seconds for as long as you can. Looking at the overall pace of this workout, 4:40 or 29:10 for 10,000m, one would expect it to not be too hard, but the changing of pace wears on you. American legend Steve Prefontaine is rumored to have made it around five miles, and current American 10,000m record holder, Galen Rupp, is rumored to have made it around six miles.

Workout:
3 miles of 200m in'n'outs, 5 min rest; 
9 mile progression, 5 min rest;
2 miles of 200m in'n'outs

Since I am in the middle of a marathon cycle, my paces were not going to be the classic 30-40, but a tad slower. Pete wanted me to run around 33-41, which ends up averaging marathon pace. The key to running this workout properly is having the will power to slow down for the float segments, especially early in the workout. Even though I went out a bit fast (37 sec) and the next float was really slow (44), I did a good job of running a consistent pace the rest of the time. I was continually splitting 33 and 41. I reached three miles down the St. Marks bike path, where Andrew and Joe were waiting for me. They had a progression run, so they jumped in for my nine mile progression run. It was nice to have some company along, as much of marathon training is alone, especially the last few weeks as Griff has been on a slightly different schedule.

For the progression run we did the three mile segment on the bike path, with two turn arounds to simulate some of the sharp turns on the Trials course. Since progression runs are a standard workout at ZAP, we have a good gauge on how to run them. The first mile was 5:24 and we cut down and finished with 4:44. I did not want to run anything too aggressive because I had another two miles of 200m in’n’outs, which went well.

Overall it was a good workout. I liked that it touched on all sorts of paces. I had a good portion at 4:30 pace, some at marathon pace, and some at tempo pace. Having segments at different paces helps racing in general. Races, especially championships, are rarely run at an even pace, with competitors throwing in surges to test the field.

Training Log 1/3-9

Week of Training January 3 – 9

One Month!

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 21 Race, Long Run/Workout
Monday 6
Tuesday Day off!
Wednesday 8
Thursday 9
Friday 11 8 Drills and Strides
Saturday 16 Workout
Week Total 79
Governor's Park at dusk. This was one of the parks we explored.

Governor’s Park at dusk. This was one of the parks we explored.

This week started out with a rainy and cold race in Jacksonville. I had a great experience helping so many guys qualify for the trials, which you can read about it here. Fortunately after this race, I had a few easy days. When in the middle of training, it is easy to fall into a fixed schedule, especially when training for a marathon. Each day is nearly identical: run, eat, sleep, eat, most likely run again, and eat. It even becomes hard to remember what day it is as long runs are not necessarily on Sunday and nor workouts on Wednesday.

Pete scheduled this break to be around 6 weeks out from the Trials. After 5 weeks of hard training, this break is needed to recharge both mentally and physically and prepare for four more hard weeks.

Pete even encourages us to “embrace” the time off, because for training to be effective, it needs time to set in. Most of us are highly motivated and have been taught that taking a break is terrible for training. While you are taking time off, your competitors are gaining an advantage. Countering this mentality is one thing that many runners need work on, and I have been much better at accepting that rest is an important part of training. Taking time to let the body recover is “part of training, not the absence of it,” as Pete often says.

Fortunately Nicole was visiting after her fantastic race in Jacksonville, and we embraced the time off. Everyday we tried to get out of the hotel and visit someplace in Tallahassee. Having been here the last three years, I had known that there were some cool areas around Tallahassee and certain areas are being gentrified, but we found some real unknown gems. There are plenty of parks like Lake Ella or Cascades Park, a few local breweries, and some cool coffee shops. We also headed to Wakulla Springs in hopes of seeing some manatees, but they were not out. I enjoyed having her here for the week, and was sad to have her head back to Greenville, but she has some training to do before her debut at the Trials!

Pete’s scheduled break came to an abrupt end on Friday, and I was right back into the grind, and on Saturday I had a workout. We headed to St. Marks bike path, which has been the place for workouts this year. The training in Tallahassee is great in part that there are so many places where you can run on soft surfaces. It is actually harder to find a good paved place where you can run workouts. St. Marks is about it! The path starts at the very southern edge of Tallahassee and goes 16 miles to St. Marks. The path is flat and there are no crossings of major roads in the first few miles, so it is a great place to do workouts.

The workout for the week was an opening piece of 1.5 miles, followed by five sets of 3 min, 90 sec, 45 sec. This is a pretty standard Pete Fartlek, where the first few sets are more tempo based with less disparity between the ons and offs, and in the final sets, the rest becomes much more pronounced. Also this workout can be described as “sneaky long”, as on paper five sets do not seem that much, but each set is over 10 minutes. That makes for over 50 minutes of constant running, not including the opening piece! I ended up having a good workout, running faster each rep and faster each set. I must have recharged during the break.

Workout:
1.5 mile, 4:30 min rest;
5 x 3 min, 90, 45 sec, rest what comes next

Video from my Fartlek

2016 Olympic Trials Marathon Project

6 weeks until the Trials!

This weekend I headed to Jacksonville, Florida for a marathon simulation race/workout. I did the same exact workout in my build up to the 2014 Twin Cities Marathon. The goal of the workout is to run marathon pace for 10 miles, then “snowball” the last three, hopefully finishing around half marathon pace. There were many similarities between the two races. In both races I ended up running marathon pace, but not picking it was very much, if at all really. This weekend I only marginally picked it up the last few miles. My pacing was just average. I would “yo-yo” between 4:50 and 5 minutes a mile. This is not ideal, but overall it was not terrible, but races are rarely run at exactly the same pace. At Twin Cities, the pace varied from 5:14-5:02 before the racing began late in the race.

Another similarity is that I thought after both races, I could have gone another six miles, to around 30km. With six weeks to go until the Trials, this is a great place to be. Running on tired legs now should help me peak well when it matters.

It was awesome to pace these guys to a Trials Qualifier! Such a great experience!

It was awesome to pace these guys to a Trials Qualifier! Such a great experience!

The one difference that stands out in my mind was the weather. At Virginia Beach, it was around 80 degrees and humid. This weekend in Jacksonville it was around 50 degrees and rainy. Both affected my effort, and even though this weekend had the “better” weather, I ended up getting cold the last few miles. I think had I not been so cold, I would have been much more willing to pick it up the last few miles.

Overall, I was very happy with the workout. The similarities between the two efforts show that I am in a good spot leading into the Trials in nearly six weeks. Running 64:31 in the tail end of 115 miles in seven days is a good effort. I am getting more used to training on tired legs, which will make running on fresh legs at the Trials that much easier!

Splits from the race:
14:51 (about 5:08, 4:54, 4:50), 4:51, 4:59 (24:42 5 miles)
4:54, 5:03, 4:54, 4:54, 4:50 (49:20 10 miles), 4:51, 4:56, 4:52

12/27-1/2

  Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 12   Travel to ATL
Monday 14   10 x 30 sec, Travel to Tallahassee
Tuesday 12 8  
Wednesday 15   Workout
Thursday 10 6  
Friday 13 5 8 x 200m, Drills
Saturday 10   4 x 30 sec, Drills
  Week Total 105  
Workout:
2 x 1km, 1:30 rest, 3:30 set rest; 
40 min alternating 80% and 90% effort every 5 min; 6 x 200m

2016 Olympic Trials Marathon Project

Front page of the sports section on Monday! Even over football!

Front page of the sports section on Monday! Even over football!

The big story for the weekend was The 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon Project, and this was the highlight of my weekend. This was organized by Richard Fannin, the (in)famous elite coordinator of the Gate River Run. Richard cares so much about improving American distance running and it shows in Gate River and now what he did at the Jax Bank Half. Every year he brings in a stellar field to Gate River, even though it is in the early spring, which is not the prime time of the year for road racing. He pours his soul into making the race the best, and of the three years I have run it, I have not been disappointed. Well maybe with a few of my performances, but I cannot blame him for that.

The hype for the Jax Bank Half started this fall when Richard began to tout this race as a great place to qualify for the Olympic Trials. For those who do not know, you can qualify for the Trials with a half marathon (It is the only race where you do not have to actually run the distance to qualify). He was saying that course was flat, the weather is (usually) great, and there were going to be pacers running at the standard pace (65 and 75 minutes for guys and girls respectively). Just as with Twin Cities, I was looking for a race to run where I could do a Marathon specific workout and Jax fit perfectly into my schedule. When I contacted Richard about running the race, he was thrilled with what I was doing and asked me to be the pacer. This was a unique opportunity that I did not want to pass up. It ended up being way more than expected.

Richard ended up having over 60 guys who had either qualified or were looking to qualify for the Trials at the race. Some who were looking at qualifying had missed by only a few seconds in their previous attempts, and this was a last chance to qualify. Of the 40 or so that had not qualified, who had traveled there on their own dime, all came with a mission. There was a sense of camaraderie among the group, something that does not happen often in sports.

I have sat here for a while not knowing where to start. It is one of those situations where it is hard to put my thoughts on to paper. There were many moments during and after the race that expressed the feeling of camaraderie. On the first major turn of the course, I heard guys behind me saying out the direction of the turn so that the guys behind would be prepared. Same thing if there was a bump or big puddle in the road. Another time, when I let the pace slip (I ran a 5:03 7th mile) someone went to the front and began to help me. I was able to regain my focus and then get back to pace. Around 10 miles, Pat Regan who I ran against in college, pulled up next to me and said, “I feel good!” I responded, “Well, let’s go!” At 11 miles I looked back and told the group that we were 15 seconds under pace, and there was a almost a sigh of relief. Everyone in the group seemed to relax and many of them began to pick it up. Most that went by me gave me thanks, and as they started to race I went with them.

Then at the finish line, the true spirit of the day was shown. There ended up being eight guys directly in front of me and twelve behind me that all hit the standard. All of them had big smiles on their faces and many of them gave me a hug. For me it was beyond what I was expecting to be there, helping these guys get their qualifier. While I had known some of the guys in the race before hand, most I did not. Seeing how happy they were made my experience of the race that much better. It made crossing the line with them so much more meaningful.

Even beyond just the elite side, people watching and in the race knew that there was something different about the race. The atmosphere of the race was much more about working together then competing against each other. When walking to the car Andrew, Griff, and I began talking with a lady who asked if we were part of the “big group that went flying by.” She mentioned that it was great to see so many guys working together to run fast.

Proud of this girl! :)

Proud of this girl! 🙂

Here is a little plug to Richard, which is kind of a thanks for everything. From a numbers standpoint, the race ended up being a resounding success. Fourteen women (Seven new qualifiers) and 27 men! (18 new qualifiers) ran under the standard for the Trials. To put this in perspective, at the US Half Marathon Championships in 2015 had 48 qualifiers and the 2014 Championship had 32 qualifiers on the men’s side. In a race where there was no travel support (only a hotel room shared with three other people) and $500 for the win, Richard put together a field that had near USA Championship level depth. That alone goes to show his commitment to the sport. Thanks Richard for putting together a once in a lifetime event!

I could not finish with out mentioning that Nicole ran a fantastic race and ran under the standard! Unfortunately I was not able to see her finish, as I had a short workout to do after my race, but I was so proud of her. And now she is coming to visit me in Tallahassee for a few days!

Before I sign off, I will have to plug Esther Atkins (formerly Erb) blog about the race. Esther is a former ZAP athlete and a good friend and she does a much better job of explaining how this race morphed into such an awesome event. I feel she also gives a much better explanation of the atmosphere of the race. I recommend taking a few minutes to read it.

Male Results:

Female Results:

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”.