Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Grand Experiment Two. Late February Update

 Our last update in late January had us just completing a tough 4x2 miles at half marathon race pace a  little over two weeks before our test at Myrtle Beach. Just for fun and a change of scenery we did our medium long run that weekend with Jenn at Umstead and felt very strong on the hills. As we approached the half I wasn't going to have us do a full taper but keep training for the BQ so with a little less than two weeks to go we did a step down pace workout of 4 miles at MP, 2 miles at HMP and finished with a mile at about 10k ace, or 7:25. Yeah, it hurt but I told Amy we were doing just in case we needed to do that in the last mile of the race. This was after a pretty hard run the day before on House Creek when I had to remind Amy to save a little for the next days real workout. She is so eager to do well when she feels good and I could tell she was about to put the hammer down the last mile.

 The week heading up to the race I had one more workout in the bag of tricks. we did 8 x 400 at tempo pace and then took a mini taper the remainder of the week. Obviously everything is going well because we shattered her pr again by another 6.5 minutes and exceeded our goal by 1.5 minutes at Myrtle Beach.

 This past week has been a recovery week and we didn't get a chance to run any together. I put in some decent mileage, 38 for the week with 2 days off, all at an easy pace. Glad I could get in a run with my other Angels Karla and Lisa on Thursday.

 We have a big week of training coming up and then we will taper the last two weeks but there will still be some hard workouts in there, just at a bit lower volume and intensity.

  Another thing that is going well as we get close is that  my weight has come down to within 2 miles of my pr weight of 2006. I have carried normally around 145 pounds the past 6 years or so but had crept up to about 148 last year. The only thing I have done differently ios keep my hands out of the snack box in my car and eat smaller portions of the snacks when i do. Otherwise my diet has stayed the same. Running consistent mileage and a lot more of it at a higher intensity these few months along with starting back with some core and strength work last November has really made a difference not only in the weight loss but how I feel.

 So, with 3 weeks until the big attempt I am thrilled to be in my best shape in 7 years and even more thrilled to see Amy doing so well. I can't express just how proud and amazed I am at her determination and hard work with not just the running but with yoga and circuit training which helps her handle the hard work.

 Stay tuned, it won;t be long now !

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Myrtle Beach Half Marathon, Pacing Amy

  This one was all about Amy and our ultimate goal of getting her qualified for Boston. The only reason we signed up for this one was as a test to see how the training was progressing and get a good idea if we were on track. Well, she passed the test with flying colors and according to the race prediction calculators we are not only on track but ahead of pace. Short Version, we were hoping for a 1:45 and ended up with a 1:43:29 !!!!

  As I have recently reported on the training updates, things have really been going well and we seemed to be ahead of where I had expected but workouts are one thing. Performing on race day is another.

 We were very lucky to have near perfect running conditions with the starting temperature of about 43F. We had discussed our strategy several times over the past few weeks and now was the time to execute. First, I had to make sure Amy didn't go out too fast. Then we were going to try and maintain 7:55-8:00 pace up to mile 10. And at that point if she had anything in the tank, she could open it up for the last 5k. Check, check and check.

  We started off comfortably and I only had to tell her to calm down once around a half a mile in when her garmin was showing our pace was too slow. I told her trust me we were fine and sure enough we went through mile 1 in 8:24 which was about perfect for my plan. We then settled in as planned and hit mile 2 in 7:58. Perfect.

  Over the next few miles I was feeling great and setting the pace. I was slightly worried because Amy kept dropping back a few strides so I was hoping that she was feeling ok and just holding back a little. I slowed down and ran beside her and we repeated that a few times. I was just trying to stay on pace but I didn't want to push her too hard this early. Mile 3 was an 8:00 and then mile 4 was a little fast in 7:50. At that point I let her catch back up and stayed by her side.

 I think the 5th mile mark was off because we hit it in 8:18 and didn't feel like we had slowed  and then at mile 6 we hit 7:42 and I know there was no way we had fluctuated that much. I'm usually very good at holding steady pace, especially on a flat course like this.   Shortly afterwards we passed some timing mats which they said were the 10k point but that was way off and closer to 6.5.

  We went through mile 7 in 7:51 and at that point it just seemed to me like I was floating. The pace up to this point had felt fairly easy to me but now I was talking like we were on a training run and singing as we past a band playing "Crossroads" along the course. I was thinking to myself that if I was racing for myself I could easily go 1:42 or better which would be my fastest since 2006. Amy seemed to be doing fine as we continued to click off sub 8 miles and I was  already confident she was going to get the 1:45.

 We hit mile 8  in 7:56 and mile 9 in a quick 7:48 which for the first time had us under 8mp overall and making up those 24 seconds we were behind at the first mile. Now I was eager to get to that 10 mile mark and let her know we were under pace and the time was in the bag. Sure enough we hit mile 10 in 7:55, and overall 1:19:48, 12 seconds ahead ! Woohooo. Perfect pacing !

  Now it was go time. Amy was definitely working but seemed to be doing fine so I pushed a little bit and kept checking to make sure she was right there and doing ok. We were joking about anybody could run a little 5k so I knew she was good. Mile 11 was a 7:44 and then Mile 12 was a 7:41 !  I told Amy we had a 1:44 in the bag.  One mile to go and I'm feeling fantastic ! I pushed it up another notch and Amy was right there and then finally we made the turn into the ballpark with about .2 to go.

  Just before mile 13 I told Amy, "this is why we did that 7:25 mile at the end of our last  pacing workout" and then we went through it in 7:33  ! The mark was right before the final turn and as soon as we went around it Amy put it into her passing gear and surged ahead. I was just I hoping could answer her younger legs and natural speed and fortunately I was able to respond. Amy looked up and saw the clock showing we were going to go well under1:44 and was smiling and nearly laughing. We were able to cross the line to gather and celebrate her amazing PR !!!!!

 I am so happy and proud of her and the hard work that has gotten her to this point and in the process I am in my best shape in years.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Myrtle Beach Half Marathon 2013 Preview

 Looks like I am heading back to MB for the first time since 2010, which was the snow year that caused the race to be cancelled. I had entered the half that year  for the first time and was planning to use it as a test and training run in my quest to re-qualify for Boston at the Tobacco Road Marathon a month later.After the race was cancelled I hadn't really planned on returning any time soon as there are so many races that I love to do around the same time of year. Funny thing is that I almost never ran at Myrtle Beach to begin with but thanks to some special friends I ended up deciding to go run the marathon in 2005 which began a string of 5 years in a row.

  Here is an excerpt from my blog post from late 2005 about how I ended up running that first one with Karla....

"Jerry had introduced me to Karla Werner at the NCRC meetings but we were just casual aquaintences until this past Jan. Jerry told me that Karla was attempting her first marathon at Myrtle Beach in Feb 2005 and that she wanted to run 4 hours and qualify for Boston. I thought that was quite a lofty goal for her 1st. They were following an 18 week training program and Jerry was asking my thoughts on the program. I met them for one of their long runs on Jan.1st. We were joined by Margherita Scott (Margo) , another lady that Jerry had introduced me to. This was the beginning of special group in my life.
Jerry had been trying to talk me into running the Myrtle Beach Marathon, his favorite race but I had declined because it didn't fit in with my ultra schedule. When I learned that he was planning to pace Karla then I changed my mind. Jerry is a very good runner and a great friend but he runs with his heart. He really has no sense of pace and pays no attention to split times. I knew in the excitement that he would lead her out too fast and I couldn't let him ruin Karla's debut.
I told Karla I wasn't going to be able to run the whole race with her. I had already run two ultra's in Jan. and was running the Uwharrie 40 mile two weeks before MB so I wasn't expecting to run a PR. I knew I could get her off to an even pace for the first 15-18 miles and then she would be on her own, with Jerry for company.
Myrtle Beach turned out to be a great day. I was able to pace Karla evenly for 24 miles. She got her Boston Qualifier in 3:58 and I was able to continue and get a PR 4:00:40."

 This of course was the beginning of a wonderful friendship with THE Marathon Princess as I begin to call her during our training together to get me to Boston with her. If you are interested you can get that whole story from this link.

  Which brings us back to this year and why I am returning.You probably already know  if you follow my blog regularly but in case you didn't know, last April after the Umstead 100, another of my "Angels" and training partners, Amy Surrette told me she wanted to back off the ultra's for awhile and make a goal of getting faster and qualifying for Boston. I told her I would do all that I could to make sure she was able to achieve that goal. We talked about it a lot , making plans on when she would like to make the first attempt and it just worked out that Tobacco Road  this March was the first logical time to give it a try. So I begin planning our training and working with her so that it would fit into the other things she had going on for the remainder of the year and just as it did for me in 2010, it made sense to plan on a half at MB.

  So with the training going even better than expected we are prepared to go and take that test this weekend. We figure that for her to have a reasonable chance for the BQ next month that she needs to be able to run about 1:45 at MB and I am confident that she can do it. Stay tuned for the results !