Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Grande Experiment Two. Continues !

  The GE 2 began last summer with the plan to qualify for Boston at Tobacco Road Marathon along with Amy while still training for a 50 mile pr in January. I got the pr but the BQ attempt didn't go as planned for either of us. That however doesn't mean that it's over. No, not by a long shot. With the past 3 years having my best mileage ever and my training with Amy going so well the past several months I am more excited than ever to push on with pr attempts at both the marathon and 100 miles in the next few months !

 A lot of the future plans are still up in the air at this point but Amy and I are both committed to attaining our goals. A few things are certain though. I am going for the 100 mile pr in 4 weeks at the C&O Canal 100 in Maryland and in June I will be running the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming to get a Western States qualifier. And I plan to go for at least a BQ if not a marathon pr at the Wineglass Marathon in Corning NY on Oct.6th. What I attempt will be determined on how the training goes.

 As I have said before, I seem to run my best ultras off of solid, fast marathon training and thats what I will continue to do. The only thing I will do differently for the 100's will be to add a weekly run/walk for the next few weeks and then after C&O I will be adding more single track leading up to Bighorn. I learned that lesson by not running trails enough before Oil creek last October. Otherwise, in the meantime it will be more of the type of stuff that got us ready for the MB half where Amy shattered her pr. Hills, intervals, tempo and pace work.

 Of course the last two week running wise have been mostly recovery. I took it real easy the first week after the marathon and gradually built up the miles and ended up with 50 for the second week capped off by a strong 20 miler in Umstead. And that was in a crazy cross-training week too but I'll give more detail about that in another post.

 Stay tuned !

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tobacco Road Marathon 2013

 Writing about disappointments is harder and not nearly as much fun as writing about the big successes and I have certainly had a ton of blowups and dnf's over the years. And while it's hard to call a 3:52 marathon, my fastest in 3 years a disappointment,  I didn't accomplish what I came for and what I felt I was conditioned to do. But for me the biggest disappointment was not my failure but that I was not able to miraculously pull Amy along to her Boston qualifier. Yes, after all we had been through to prepare for this I was looking forward to going to Boston and sharing the experience with her but it was always about getting her there and helping her achieve a dream.

  Although neither of us were successful in achieving our goal we hopefully have learned something in the process and are determined that we will get there. It was long shot from the beginning for her to improve on her marathon time so much in such little time but as I shared in the previous posts of our training, I couldn't be more proud of how hard she has worked and how far she has come. I know going forward that we are both going to continue to train hard and stay focused as we are "Running down A Dream ". She will get to Boston, set a lot of pr's in the process. and I will do all I can to defy the odds and the years and get one more marathon pr before I am done. We don't really know right now exactly when it will happen but the work is just started as well as the fun that we will share in the process.

  In the meantime, we are both going to run a 5k in 3 weeks to take advantage of our condition and get Amy her first age group podium finish and for me hopefully my best 5k in several years and maybe a podium for me too. Oh, and right now I am back in ultra mode for awhile with a 100 mile pr attempt coming up in 5 weeks. But have no fear, the training is going to continue like we have been doing. I have proven to myself that for me I run my best ultra's when I am training for a fast marathon. I know there is no way I would have shattered my 50 mile pr in January if I had not been doing this type of training with Amy.
  The only thing that will be done differently is that I will  add a run/walk workout about once a week just to get back to practicing being able to walk fast and strong. Otherwise the tempos, intervals, marathon and half marathon pace runs, the strength training , core and yoga will go on.

 Oh, you were expecting a race report ? Ok, here is the Cliff Notes version.

 With much excitement but knowing we had a tough task before us, Amy and I lined up together a few minutes before the start with the intentions of sharing all 26.2 miles. We had a plan,the training was done and now we just had to make it happen. Things started off perfectly as we stayed calm and relaxed and hit the 1st mile a little slower than what we needed to allow a good warmup. By mile two were were right on track. The pacing for the next couple of miles was perfect also but in mile 5, Amy dropped back a couple of seconds. No problem since we were running about 5 seconds over goal pace so I dropped back to her. But she once again dropped back again and when I checked the 6 mile split, we had slowed to 15 seconds slower than what I needed. I looked back to her and knew I had to go so I turned my attention forward and picked up the pace.

  I was sad to leave her so early but all I could do was try to stay focused on my race. I was now hoping  and praying she could settle into a pace that would still get her a 3:45 and a BQ for her. My pacing continued  perfectly for the next several miles and shortly after making a u turn around the 9 mile point I began looking for her. I saw she was maybe a 1:30 minutes back but I knew she had been planning a pit stop and she was running well so I was hoping she would stayed locked into that pace. I was still crankimg out the miles like clockwork and feeling pretty good.

 I saw Amy's family around mile 11 -12 and told them to let her know her new goal pace was 8:33's as I continued on. I went through the half in 1:49:05, right where I had planned it with almost a minute cushion and still pacing dead on. Even through mile 17 I was doing ok and feeling confident but then mile 18 was a little slow. I wasn't too worried because it was a slight upgrade but by 19, I was slowing more and not feeling good, I saw Gene Meade working the turnaround and told him I was losing it.

 And at mile 20 I lost a full minute and knew it was over. The worst thing though was when  I saw how far back Amy was and she did not look happy and she didn't even see me as I passed by.  I knew the Boston dream was over but I was still hoping to salvage something from the race and try to hold on for my 2nd fastest marathon and I was able to pick it up slightly the next mile but by mile 22 I was alternating between a jog and a shuffle and each new time goal slowly ticked away. Now I just wanted to get it over with. With about a mile to go a friend, Tony rode up to me on his bike and he told me that Amy and Margo were going to be close to sub 4. I knew that was a disappointment for her but it would be a pr at least and something positive to take from it.

 I crossed the finish and then waited in the finish area for Amy. I had to stay out of the way so I lingered by the medical tent so they wouldn't run me off . I was determined to be there for her when she finished. Margo came in under 4 but I couldn't see Amy and I was praying for her to come on and sure enough a few seconds later she came into view and I could see she had the sub 4. As I expected she was in tears so I quickly made my way to her and we just  hugged and shed a few tears. Like I said was disappointed but my heart was breaking for her. And that's about it. Time to move on now to more adventures with fun along the way.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Training with Amy Part 4 or what's in it for me?

  2008 was a sub par year for me as I was in almost constant pain running. I had dnf'd  couple of races and finally in December after running Derby I took 6 weeks off completely from running and cycling to finally heal. 2009 was a re-building year and I mostly swam and biked while slowly building up my running to do my Ironman at Coeur D Alene in June. After that my goal was to get back into shape for a fast marathon so so that I could qualify for Boston in early 2010. I needed to get my qualifier so that I could go with Karla back to Boston and celebrate our 5th anniversary of that special day in 2006 when we ran together. I worked hard and got a 3:45:00 which just barely got me in since I needed at least 3:45:59 at that time. Later that year after more training which included the track work that we were doing when Amy joined us as I mention in a previous post, I ran the Lehigh Valley Marathon in Sept to try and get a faster time. I succeeded but just barely with a 3:44.

  I continued to train hard and focused on running a pr at Boston but for some reason I still don't understand I had a terrible day and my race was a flop from mile 6 and I never even got up to race pace. I was very disappointed with that and knowing how hard I had trained to qualify and just barely doing it, I was resigned to the fact that at my age I would never again approach my 2006 pr time. I spent the next couple of years focusing more on ultras again although not trying to do nearly as many as before. Just trying to have some quality runs. I was no longer doing much on the way of speed work and content to run easy most days. Yes, occasionally I would do a tempo run or maybe some mile repeats but never in an organized way with a goal to focus on. I figured just with good mileage and the occasional quick run I could get a 50 mile and 100 mile pr before I was too old.

  And then Amy tells me after Umstead that she wants to qualify for Boston. A quick look at the qualifying standards shows that we need the same time, a 3:39:59. I had promised her I would get her there but in doing so I was going to have to  run my second fastest marathon ever, 7 years after my pr and believe me when you are in your 50's , 7 years is a lot of difference. At first I had not planned on going and really thought I didn't have a chance of going anyway. I would just train her and plan on returning with Karla in 2016 when I could get in with a 3:55.

  As we began to get serious with the training and we were having so much fun with it I began to entertain thoughts of just maybe I could make it after all. I have always enjoyed doing speed work and running fast and sharing the tough runs with Amy made me realize just how much I had been missing by not doing it regularly. It wasn't too long into the training that I knew I had to be all in. We were a team and we were going to go to Boston ! I still find it hard to believe how well I am running right now but the past 3 years have been my highest mileage years ever so I had a great base to build on.

  In addition to the running, last Fall I had decided I wanted to start back doing some core work and a little strength training. I had just been doing a little bit for a couple of weeks when Amy put down a 30 day plank challenge. That was more motivation and we actually went about 40 days on that before moving on. I have kept up the core and as soon as the planks were over I began my 100 pushups workouts and a couple of weeks later began the 200 situps challenge and began adding pullups and dips to my routine.

  Over all the last several months Amy has been going to Arrichion Hot yoga for yoga and circuit training and now I have been inspired to add yoga to my routine also for the past month or so.

 So, although I get a lot of happiness and satisfaction in seeing Amy come so far over the past  few years we have known each other I want to say THANK YOU AMY !!

 Thank you for showing the toughness and spirit and love of running. Thanks for sharing the miles with me. Thank you for giving me a new goal and the inspiration I needed to dream big again. Thank you for pushing me harder than I would have ever pushed myself over these last 6 months and most of all, THANK YOU for your friendship !!

Training with Amy- Part 3

  Moving into December it was now time to get the faster stuff done to prepare for the race pace workouts in Jan and Feb.  This is also where I decided we had to break one of the cardinal sins of training. All the experts say to train at your current condition and not at your goal pace. Well, I knew if we trained based on the current 4:00:00 range that we would have no shot at a BQ by March so I planned on running at the paces needed for the 3:40. I found out pretty quickly that even  holding Amy back to that pace was going to be nearly impossible.

  One of the great things that has worked for us is that I am able to run all of the key workouts with her as well as the occasional easy and recovery runs so I know her very well. I am always monitoring her breathing and effort as we run along and because of our friendship I can keep up with her other activities and plan around them. Some days when I can sense she's struggling, I'll change the workout mid-run and other days when she has had some hard yoga or circuit I'll just re-schedule a hard run. But then some days she unexpectedly is feeling good and pushing the pace so I'll just hang on and go with it and then other days I just let her go.

   For example one day I had planned 800's at 3:40 which should have been about our lactate threshold pace but Amy took off  on me. I just went along and the first one was 3:28. It felt good so we just kept it up. She dropped back on the last two but I didn't back off since she had set the tone for the workout. I could tell from that one that the training was going very well and was gaining more confidence. Then on Christmas Eve we met and I was hoping to do some mile repeats at tempo pace , about 7:30's. Once again she felt good and took off on me crushing the first mile in 7:10. It felt good so I just went with the flow but this time she held strong and killed the last one in 6:52 while I struggled  3 seconds behind her.

 A week later it was time for more 800's. I had decided we would do the same pace as the last time and go for about 3:30 average. Well, she took off like there was a fire and I just let her go and didn't even try to stay with her. She ran a crazy 3:18 while I nailed the 3:30. As expected she paid for it. The next couple were right on pace but by the 4th one she was struggling to recover and by the last two she was finishing about 8-10 seconds behind me. Of course when I had added those two extra repeats, which really I didn't because I had planned them from the beginning, but for some reason Amy thought we were doing 4 instead of 6, she got to call me her favorite nickname giving me the chance to sing the song to her again while I laughed !!  You have to love her spirit and exuberance ! The good thing that came from that workout was that from that point on she did a much better job of sticking with the planned pace on most of the workouts but it didn't stop her from pushing me on some of the other days when I was expecting an easier pace. And I'm really happy for that because I enjoy being pushed myself and it showed me that the overall plan was working if she could recover and feel good on those days.

  I had my 50 mile race a week and a half later and shattered my pr by over an hour ! Proved to myself again that I run my best ultras off a strong marathon training plan . I was even amazed at how quickly I recovered and another week and a half later Amy and I started working on the hard marathon and half marathon pace workouts. I must say that these went even better than expected for both of us. We did a very good job of running the paces within a few seconds per mile and the one workout that stands out was a 3x3 mile mp run that went so well that Amy beat her half marathon pr by 10 minutes with the warm up and recoveries included. That was a huge confidence boost and another sign the training was on track.

  The next few weeks went very well and then it was time for the test at the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon. What a perfect run ! It went exactly as I hoped with perfect pacing and a stronger than hoped for finish. When we first started this we were able to get together 2 and sometimes 3 times a week to run together but over the last couple of months we have been able to meet 4 and some weeks 5 times.
Getting in all the extra miles and quality workouts has really shown what she can be capable of doing and now with the race coming up this weekend. I feel very confident that she will get that Boston qualifier. But this is only the beginning. She has so much potential to run pr's at every distance for years to come and I know one thing for sure. She will give it everything she's got !  I just hope I can continue to hang with her for at least awhile longer !

Monday, March 11, 2013

Training with Amy-Part 2

   After finishing the 100 miles at Umstead , Amy told me that she now wanted to back off of the ultra's for awhile and get back to some speedwork with the next big goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. We had a lot of discussion over how and when she wanted to accomplish this over the next few weeks of recovery runs and it was decided that the first attempt would be at the Tobacco Road Marathon in March of 2013. We both knew going into this that being ready that soon was going to be very difficult and in reality was a long shot at best. Not that she didn't have the potential to do it as I have mentioned many times before, but due to the fact that her best time was 4:06 and her qualifying time is 3:40.

  I told her to just make sure she was recovered well, have some fun over the next couple of months and try to build up her mileage as much as possible over the the summer with  trying to add at least one more day a week of running. Consistency was going to be crucial for the plan to work. We had already added a normal Tuesday afternoon run together and with the Thursday night Social series runs she just needed to try and add at least one more run to her schedule. In the meantime I was working out a schedule for our training to come later on and also we planned on doing the OBX Marathon in November to see how things were progressing and then a test at the Myrtle beach Half Marathon in Feb 2013 as a final test to see if we were on track.

   I was of course now in the Grand Experiment 2 which for those of you not up to speed meant I was going to try and get myself back into 3:40 marathon shape while still having a couple of 100 milers, a 24 hour race, a 50k and then a 50 mile pr attempt mixed in with the training.  Of course both of us encountered a huge setback after the dog attack at my 100 mile  Double Boogie attempt in June and it was late July before I was back to running my normal pace again without feeling worn down.

 So by August it was time to begin doing  some hill work and throwing in some strides every now and then to get our legs prepared for the hard work to come. By this point Amy and I have running a lot together for a  3 years and in fact for the year of 2012 she ended up with one if not her biggest mileage years ever and about 60% or more of those we ran together. We had become the best of friends and I had shared a lot of advice with her but now I was going to more a less take on the role of her coach over the next several months prescribing the phases of her runs and specific workouts to achieve the goal. I would find out very quickly that it was a very good thing that I do know her so well and understand her because I learned right from the beginning that I was going to have to be very flexible and adaptable with the training as you will see.

   And I had to be flexible and adapt from day 1 ! Yep, right when I was hoping she would be piling on some miles, she decided to do a 3 week "cleansing diet" and was not suppose to do any running or working out during that period. OK.  Soooo, instead of going from a strong base, we'll just pretend she has a good base and is going into the next phase well rested and ready to work hard. Fortunately she did do some running as well as some of her cross-training after all so she wasn't completely stale.

  I had my 24 hour run which turned out for me to just be 13 hours and 60 miles on Labor Day weekend and just a week and a half later we met for our first "official" workout for our goal.  We met for the first of several gut busting hill repeat workouts that we would be doing over the next couple of months. These were not your normal hill repeats but max effort runs for 1/4 mile up a fairly steep hill so that "when " we made it to the top we were gasping and about to throw up. Fun Stuff !  This is just of of the many things I love about running with Amy. She thrives on this kind of stuff. That's one of the great things about coaching her is I don't have to  worry if she is going to give 100% effort to a workout. We would  usually end up nearly dying on some of these but would still be joking around and loving it.

  But right in the middle of this I had to make another one of those adjustments. Hinson Lake was coming up and although I felt we needed to stay focused on the marathon training , she wanted to run her age in miles since her birthday fell in the middle of the run. So I went to Hinson and ran with her at midnight as she crossed over and got her birthday miles in. Then after just a week to recover she had a 5k race so when we finally got together a few days later she was sore but I was in taper mode for my upcoming 100 at Oil Creek so we just ran a few times together  the next couple of weeks taking it easy and planning the next phase.

 I was able to recover very quickly from the 84.5 mile beating I took at Oil Creek and we were both ready to resume the hard training a week and a half later with another torturous hill session. I did pretty good  considering I was still in recovery and actually ran faster than the last time we did them but Amy was well rested and I noted in my journal, "she was on fire" and smoked me on all of them.

 Just a couple of weeks later we were at OBX and basically running it with no taper other than a couple of easy days before the race. I had a disappointing race but not really unexpected with the hard race a month before and hard training in between. Amy was a little disappointed not to go under 4 hours but she too had been working hard and she still had a lot of  positives from the race including a pr by a couple of minutes and she was able to push it hard the last 10k after not feeling too well in the middle miles.

 The next couple of weeks were for recovery and we met for a few easy runs and then I did the Derby 50k for a long training run as part of my planning for the 50 mile pr attempt coming up in January while Amy ran an 8k Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving.  No recovery allowed for me. Just three days later we ran a 5 miler and then the next day we were right back at normal pace.

 Let me step back here for a second and explain a little about the training plan. Normally after a base period, there is a strength phase, a stamina phase and then speed work followed by the taper. I chose to try something different that a lot of the Kenyans coaches use which puts the speed work before the stamina, which in theory makes it easier to maintain   race pace in the final phase because for the marathon holding the pace for a long time is the most important thing.

  The next couple of workouts are pretty typical of how our training sessions go. We had done a long run in Umstead and Amy just wasn't feeling it so we walked some of the hills. Well, on Monday , the first week of December, I really wanted to start us off on the speed training but planned to ease into it with a fartlek type session just to get the legs used to moving faster and go through a range of paces. We were early into the workout and I was trying to get us to do a mile at marathon goal pace but I could tell Amy was working too hard to hold the pace so I shut it down at the half figuirng she needed a little more warm up. Then we did a qtr at tempo pace and then a mile at marathon pace. She was tired but as we came to a little hill in our cool down I made her do a hill sprint. She gave me a look that could kill and I just laughed and giggled as we finished our coo ldown. She has a word for me when i do those things which I won't repeat here but I have a song that I sing to her  that fits the name. So the next day we are running into Umstead from the Art Museum and thnking it's going to be an easy day. Well, no. Amy is feeling good and she gets her revenge on the run back up by putting the hammer down the last uphill mile which ends up being at tempo pace. I couldn't hang with her the last qtr and ended up about 5 seconds back and gasping thinking if I had to run another ten yards my heart would burst. Yep fun stuff !

 Stay tuned for part 3 and the final phase

Saturday, March 09, 2013

amosmotor "runnin' happy": Myrtle Beach Half Marathon - February 16, 2013

 This is Amy's Version of our race at the Myrtle beach Half Marathon. Just click on the link to read it on her blog.

amosmotor "runnin' happy": Myrtle Beach Half Marathon - February 16, 2013: I registered for this race several months ago as part of the marathon training plan for Boston Qualifying attempt.    The timing of...

Training with Amy- Part 1 the Beginnings

 I first had the pleasure of meeting Amy at the August Umstead series which I was in charge of back in 2009. A group of us met for dinner as usual after the run and the conversation of course was mostly about running and what events we had recently finished and had scheduled for later. She had run a couple of trail half marathons in respectable times considering the courses.   Now she  was in  training to run her first marathon later that Fall. I think she was a bit surprised to find that half the folks she was sitting with were very experienced at marathons and ultra's.

  We got to know each other a little bit over the next few weeks and then one day she asked if it would be ok to join Karla and I on one of our long runs. I'm not one to usually say no to a pretty lady so I said she was welcome to meet with us. So, on Saturday Oct 17, we met for a long run at Umstead. Amy had never gone more than 15 miles and her marathon was just 3 weeks away so this was going to be a challenge for her. We began at an easy pace and were having a great time but after about 13 miles in she began to struggle a bit and we would have to slow and wait for her. This happened a few times so as Karla and I headed up Powerline for the last time, Amy fell behind again. Just before we got to the end however there she was working hard to catch back up. 20.7 miles on a very difficult course which we ran faster for the 2nd half and she was giving it all she had. I knew then that there was something  special about her and definitely Angel material.

 I decided soon after that I would go to the marathon and run the last part of the race with her at City of Oaks. Race day turned out to be a miserably rainy cold and windy mess as I watched the race from a couple of different spots. I estimated when she might be coming out of Umstead and began running backwards on the course and finally met her just as she exited the park at mile 19. The rain had stopped and was now just an off and on sprinkle as I began to run with her. She was tired but in good spirits and moving along at a decent pace.

  Over the next several miles I tried to keep her entertained just like when I run with Karla, even singing to her to keep the mood light and take her mind off the work still ahead. I could tell she was  hurting but she was determined to keep running and as we neared the last miles I saw once again first hand the toughness and determination that makes her so special. And after she crossed the finish line and met her family I got to see the true nature of her sweet spirit as she held her then 3 year old Ashlynn in her arms and crying. I just walked away to give them their special moments as a family, knowing that yes, she was truly someone special.

  After the race she joined several of us for another long run but then other things were going on and she wasn't focused on another race for awhile so we didn't run anymore but would just see each other at other NCRC events. Then in August  of 2010 as Karla and I were beginning to run on the track in preparation for the Boston marathon among other things, Amy asked if she could join us on the track.

 I don't think she had been doing a lot of running over the summer and at first it was hard for her to keep up with us. She would fall behind but still give 100%. After several repeats she might need to sit one out but then she would be right there trying again. Over the next few weeks she would continue to go and push herself to the limit showing me time  and again the grit and determination that I had grown to love and admire in her. In no time she was not only keeping up with us on the workouts but hanging right with us and pushing the pace. I noted after our Sept 20th workout that Amy had improved a lot. By now she was joining in on most of our weekend long runs and this would continue on up to this day.

   That November Amy would move to the Darkside and run her 1st 50k at Derby. I would have loved to have run it with her but I was trying to go for a pr.  By now we were running together on a pretty regular basis and our friendship had grown as well. A few months later she asked me if  I  thought  doing "The Boogie" as her first 50 miler was a good idea. Without hesitation I told her yes. At this point let me explain, that Amy had run very well and done some very good  races on very limited mileage. Due to her family obligations, job and  volunteer work at church, she was lucky to get in 3 runs a week so I knew she had great potential.  Lots of folks thought it was a bad idea for her to try and run Boogie but after all the running I had done with her and getting to know her as well as I do, I never had any doubts that she would not only finish it but do well. And I was proven right as I ran a course pr and she was only a couple of minutes behind me and running strong.

  I was a little surprised when she told me soon after that she wanted to run the Umstead 100 the following April. We had talked about her running it someday but I had suggested she wait until 2013 and give herself more time to build up her mileage but once she made up her mind I knew she was going to do it so I just told her I'd help get her ready the best I could.  I must say I was a bit disappointed too because I had hoped she would run a lap with me since I was running it and planned on letting all my Angels share a lap if they could.

  Over the Fall and Winter we continued to run a lot together with Karla and Lisa and Jenn. Amy went to a 24 hour race in Virginia and despite sub freezing temperatures put in a very respectable distance of 83 miles  which would go a long ways in showing her what she had to expect at Umstead.

  As Umstead rolled around on March 31st 2012, I once again had no doubt that she was going to finish. I knew she was probably going to suffer more than I would want to see due to her low overall mileage but I was going to support her in anyway I could. We started off together for a couple of miles but then I had to say goodbye since I was going for a pr and she just wanted to finish. I think she really wanted a sub 24 but that would have been very difficult. I know she has the potential to run much faster than that but not on 20 miles a week. It did turn out to be a tough day for both of us. By the mid point she was really hurting and having major blister issues. I got  to see her a few times on the out and back portions and I would stop and just give her a hug and some encouragement. I hated to see her in such pain but I also knew there was no quit in her. After I finished I calculated about when to expect her to finish and took a nap and had several people make sure that I was up in time to see her finish.

  Seeing her come up that last little hill to the finish was a very emotional moment knowing that she had really suffered out there but nothing was going to stop her. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I am extremely proud of her for what she has accomplished as well as just the person and friend that she is.    

 Stay tuned for part 2 and the road to Boston !