Sunday, December 25, 2016

whatcha been up to since Kiawah? Training update

 Its been two weeks since Kiawah Marathon and I'm feeling pretty good. I took two days off from running and  then was happy to have a good 4 miler with no soreness and just a little tightness at 8:53 pace. Mostly just easy running for 5 days and 28.5 miles for the week with all under 9 minute pace.

 The next week due to work and weather I only ran 4 days but I got in 36 miles in those 4 days and all under 9mp including my 14 miler. I did my first hard run earlier in the week and it went much better than expected. An easy 3 followed by 3 at 7:25 average.

 In addition to the running I had no break from the cross training with 8 Bikram Yoga Classes over the two weeks including one on Christmas morning. I've been making time to stop at the gym on the way home from work and some days right after my run and it's paying off. I got in three weights sessions and 9 other workouts of stretching, core and body weight stuff.

 The year is quickly coming to an end so I'll have the  yearly recap post up soon. I'm going to delay the looking ahead just  a bit but I wont hold you in suspense too long. There will be a few surprises and also more of the same as this year. Until then, stay tuned. It's going to be fun !

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Crashing head first into the wall. Kiawah Island Marathon

   Earlier in the year when I signed up for this marathon it was the final part of a grand plan. Focus on speed early in the year and gradually race longer until I was ready to crush a fast time and get a Boston qualifier to cap off the year. Everything was going just as planned but for one thing. Somewhere along the way I kind of missed out on getting any long runs into the training schedule. I had decided a few months before to make the OBX half the focus of my year and I added the ATT 10 miler a few weeks before that when I should have been getting in some 20 milers. Now as race day approached looking back I had just one 14 miler since April and that was 7 weeks before race day. Hmm, I think it might get ugly towards the end.

   So after getting some work done Friday am I began the long drive to Kiawah arriving for packet pickup just before dark and then headed to find my hotel and make final preparations.  It was going to be a cold start but the forecast was looking near perfect. 35 at the start and low 50's for the high.

 To get to the start  you have to park in a grassy field just off the island unless you are a guest at the resort. I was pleased to find that the shuttles were large luxury buses and they were quick and efficient getting us to the start very quickly. I was able to get inside the expo to stay warm until a few minutes before the start which was just a short walk.

 As I was lining up I found Joe Schlereth and Kathy Lee, a couple of ultra running friends so it was nice to see some familiar faces. As we started my plan was to go easy and then settle in to about an 8:50 pace and see how long I could hold that. My normal easy run pace these days is around 8:45 to 8:50 and thats about what I need for the BQ so I knew I should be able to at least get in a good bit of distance before falling apart. A smarter person would probably go slower and do some run walking with my lack of long distance this year but no guts no glory right ?

 Kiawah is about as flat as possible and I got off to an easy start letting the half marathoners and fast people go on while I tried to just relax and settle in for the long morning ahead. I hit mile 1 in 8:47, slightly faster thanIi wanted or expected but it was all good, I'll just back off a little. Mile 2 in 8:45. Ok, slow it down just a little bit. Mile 3 in 8:34. Ok, maybe I won't slow down. I had to laugh to myself a little. In my conversation with Laura Frey after yoga on the Thursday before the race  we discussed my race plan, I had told her I was going to hold back and just run 8:50's and not go out looking for a fast time. She said no you won't, you will be rolling 8:30's   I guess she was right as I decided to just go with what felt comfortable which was mid 8:30's to low 8:40's for the next many miles.

 Around mile 5 the wind picked up as forecast but it was only about 10mph and with the many twist and turns on the course and a lot of protection from trees it wasn't going to really be much of a factor. By now I was comfortable and settled in clicking off the miles almost effortlessly. Mile 10 was an 8:59 thanks to a short pee break and my split there was 1:27:00 or about 8:42 pace. This was
awesome. By now the half marathoners had split off and the field was getting spread out. Every now and then were some nice homes and then more bike path and trees.

 Nothing much to say for the next several miles. I was stuck into the same groove of about 8:42 average and loving life. I'm not sure what happened with mile 14. It was a slower 8:55 but I still felt fine and then I was right back to hitting upper 8:30's again. Hmm. Oh well. Around mile 15 the faster runners were coming towards us from a keyhole loop section and I spotted Sonny Ali looking strong as he was trying to go for 3:10. We high fived and then soon after I saw Jay Soffian.

 My pace and effort was still steady and I hit mile 20 in 2:54:20 making the 2nd 10 miles just 20 seconds slower than the 1st 10. Pretty consistent pacing huh? At this point I was feeling confident and surpried that I may just pull this thing off and get a BQ and with enough cushion to get me a guaranteed spot. I slowed to an 8:57 for mile 21 but  that was fine. I told myself not to worry, that I didnt need any more cushion. I slowed a little more to 9:18 at 22 but still plenty of cushion and I still was feeling ok. And then BAM !  Headfirst into the wall. Mile 23 wasn't too bad but at that point my calves said, OK, we're done here.

 I tried my best to convince them to keep pushing off but to no avail. It was actually a miracle that they never cramped. Each mile got longer and harder and slower but I didn't want to give up hope but I just couldn't hold pace and had to resort to taking a few short walk breaks. I was doing the math in my head but by 25 I had lost all of my cushion and the miracle BQ was not going to happen today. Now if I could just salvage a sub 4 at least. Barely. I finally crossed the line in 3:59:23 and was totally spent. I'm still amazed at how I could feel so good at 22 and by 24 feel like death !

 Unlike Boston where I was walking normally after the race and Laura said I looked like I hadn't done anything,  here I had to sit and then do a slow shuffle to go get my drop bag and then had to lie down inside for 15 minutes before I could change clothes. Yeah, not a good idea to do these things without the proper training.

 No worries though. I m feeling great , recovering quickly and back to training and that BQ is going to come in the Spring ! Stay tuned !

Friday, December 09, 2016

Kiawah Island Marathon preview and training update

 When I signed up for this one early in the year the plan was to come off of a strong Autumn of building up from the shorter races and use the speed built over the summer to crush a fast marathon and BQ. Only problem with that plan is somehow along the way I seem to have left out all of the long runs in the training.  Since Boston in April I have done one 14 miler about 7 weeks ago and the half marathon 4 weeks ago. A couple of 12 milers and thats it. Hmmm. Things could get ugly towards the end.

   So, here I am in really great shape for racing up to the half but really unprepared for the long one.  But miracles do happen, and in fact most of the 2nd half of this year has been a miracle so maybe it won't get too bad. The plan now is to just go out easy and use it as a training run. Nice thing is that my current BQ pace, 8:58 is actually slower than my easy training pace up to the half. Lately I have been running about 8:45ish  for easy runs. Who knows, maybe muscle memory and a good day will let me carry that pace all the way. Or not. We shall see.

 The course has been changed but still remains perfectly flat and the weather is looking great. About 34F at the start and warming to the upper 40's. Marathon racing weather !

 Here is a link to the race website.

 The training has been going well since the 5k two weeks ago. I had no soreness or downtime afterwards and followed up with a strong week of training getting in 34 miles and all at a strong pace. Also had 3 bikram yoga classes, some more yoga homework, 2 weights sessions at the gym and tibetans on 4 days.

 This week I've only gotten in a couple of 5 milers but both were awesome with my stride feeling strong and smooth at 8:30 pace and easy effort. Also got in  3 more bikram yoga classes,  another weight session, a body weight day and more tibetans.

 Staye tuned and look for results soon ! And wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Foot Locker 5k XC South Regional Masters

My race which included all the open runners as well as masters would be the first of a dozen spread out every 30 minutes throughout the day. The good thing with that was I had nearly perfect weather, mid 40's and the wind had not picked up. The only downside was my cheer squad would not be showing up until around Noon.

 I did my usual warmup routine and then lined up ready to roll. I had guessed I could realistically expect to run about 22:30 on this course if things went well but my training since August had been centered around the half marathon so I would just have to wait and see if I still had a bot more speed in me.

 We got off to a clean start and as I expected with most of the masters in the 40ish group and a lot of serious runners in the open event, I found myself near the back of the pack. Experience has taught me to be patient and I have a very good sense of pace so I stuck to my plan. The course is marked every 2/10th of a kilometer and by .4k I could already feel that I was going to have a good race.

 The course is a straight shot and flat as a pancake for the first half mile and I was hoping to hit the first K in 4:30. Boom ! Nailed it. And I was already beginning to pass some runners. I made it to the first mile in 7:14 feeling strong. I was just trying to maintain the effort and pick off spots one at a time.

 Finally made it to the one hill and just put my head down and tried not to slow too much knowing it is only about 200 yards long and the halfway point of the race is just about at the top. Felt strong and  then ran as hard as I could down the other side which is short and steep without falling on my face !   Just before exiting the woods there is another short hill and I just powered up using my momentum and passed a few more.

 The 2 mile mark is on the backside of the pond and I hit it in about 7:21 only slowing a little from the first mile which was great considering the hill. Now I just had to bear down and hold on for the final mile. As is usual with these short races , things start to hurt that last mile but I stayed focused on trying to hold pace and and pick off a couple of more runners. With about 1/2 mile to go I pulled up by a man that looked like he could possibly be my age. It was a bit funny because he was making nearly the same death noises I do so I was hoping to pass him but I just couldn't wear him down and by the time we were back at the pond with 1/4 mile to go I was in a world of hurt myself. I hit mile 3 in about 7:09 but my garmin was a bit off from the actual marker and was probably closer to 7:15.

 I tried to kick it in but I couldn't catch the guy. Later I would learn he was only 55 and he finished not quite 2 seconds a head of me. It took them awhile to sort out the results but when it was finally posted I was 47th out of 72. They don't do age group awards but I was 2nd of  the only 3  seniors .

 It was a fun event and very professional. I'm glad I finally got a chance to race on this course that I had trained on for so many years. Whether I ever return i can't say. Too many things on the racing calendar this time of year and too few years to do them.

 I enjoyed watching the HS runners competing and the championship races were both very exciting. I was able to figure out the best vantage points for spectating so I was ready when the Frey girls finally showed up for there 1:30 race.  Laura and I watched the start and then she went to claim a spot near the finish line and I moved onto the course where I would be able to see them in 3 different spots.

 It was a lot of fun to watch them racing hard and Iwas so proud of them and especially Sophia's   toughness near the end when a girl passed her with about 1 tenth to go. She could have given up but instead she gave it all she had and reclaimed the spot and her pace for the race was probably over a minute per mile faster than during the regular xc season at her school