Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019. The year in review

 Overall not a bad year at all. Nothing really epic but some good results in most of the events I entered. First, lets look at the numbers. 1,330.1 miles in the best yearly total since the 1420 of 2016 and that puts me at 52,909 lifetime miles. Overall it was a year of good health with the only injury was a bit of a calf strain which was not caused by running but affected the run for a few weeks spread over parts of April in May. Those months only had 52 and 57 miles respectively making the yearly total that much more satisfying. As you should know , I  made a commitment to make the run top priority in my fitness regimen beginning in late July and the result was that each month from August through December were all better than any months in the previous 2 years. Now on to the details.

 Jan: The year started off well with a very good run at the Holden Beach Half. I was pleased with the 1:48:51 and 2nd place AG. Monthly total was 119.2

 Feb: no racing but some good quality training and 119.2 miles again !

 Mar: Got off to a good start with the Florence Forth 10k. I felt good, ran strong just creeping under 48 with a 47:59 and an age group win. 3 weeks later I ran the St. Paddys 4 miler again and although I was 30 seconds slower than last year in 30:27 it was still good enough for 1st Senior Grandmaster again. A week later I was at Sunset Beach for another half. Improved my time to 1:46:20 but had to settle for 3rd AG and was out-sprinted to the finish. Gotta work on that top end speed ! 112.3 miles for the month.

 Apr: Was a bit frustrating with the calf mystery issue coming in early and costing me about 2 weeks off. It seemed fine and I raced the Port to Fort 5k in Morehead City in 23:30 which was good enough for the AG win. But a few days later the calf flared up again. Only 52.3 miles for the month.

 May: Started off with a lot of zeros and 10 days off before I tested the calf again. It was ok and I eased the mileage back up but no racing and only 57.0 miles for the month. Sadly I cancelled a planned trip to return to the Cotton Row Run in Alabama that had been one of my goal races for the year.

 June: More frustration. the month started out ok and on the 15th I ran the Vertical mile Challenge which had been on my list for a few years. Considering no mountain training and practically no trail running in recent years I had a good day, ran consistent paced laps and was 2nd AG. Legs really took a beating and despite 5 days of rest and easing back into it I aggravated my left  upper glute and hip flexor. I was confident it was not the same thing that ruined me back in  2014 and 2015 but I was going to be careful. I could run but only did 3 or 4 miles every two or three days and it gradually healed and felt better each week over the next 3 weeks or so. Monthly miles were 84.0.

 July: Was not what I'd hope. The first two weeks were all short runs every few days with some slight improvement in the pain but at least I could run. I decided to go ahead with my trip to Utica NY for the Boilermaker 15k. Things went ok although slow for the first 7 miles but then I bonked and the hip flexor was really bothering me.  Over the next weeks it graduallyt began to improve and I was able to run but it was the 28th before I noted that it was about 90% back to normal.  83.3 for the month.

 Aug: August started off well with the pain seemingly behind me now. I raced the Running With the Law 5k  in Jacksonville but only because I wanted to visit my friend for the weekend. Luckily  I got through it ok, ran about the same as I did in April in 23:33 and another AG win. By now I was not going to hot yoga anymore and with no injury I was ready to get back to some serious training and goals. On the 24th I took a trip to Boone for the High Country Half,a tough race that shares the first 10.5 miles as the Grandfather Mountain marathon. I ran much stronger than I expected with the help of cool rain and just missed my fantasy goal of breaking 2 hours on this hard course with a 2:00:23. Some tough competition from the local mountaineers put me off the podium and 4th place. Finished the month with 134.3 miles, my best in about 2 years !

 Sept: Things were going great this month and I was getting in great training with 5 to 6 days a week of runs despite the lingering heat and humidity. My #1 goal of the year was to beat my last years time at the Virginia 10 Miler and make the podium for the first time in 21 years of racing there. Although things were going well due to the earlier injuries I was not at the level I wanted to be going into the Fall racing season. And then race morning turned out to be hot and humid. I did as well as I could but I was never on pace to be close to last years time and I struggled in the last few miles. Going back in 2020 hopefully better prepared and maybe mother nature will be kinder. Good month though with 137.8 miles

 Oct:  I think this is probably the only Oct. in the last 2 decades at least that I had no races scheduled. It was tempting but I knew I needed to be training. I had a marathon planned in November and I was already way behind the mileage goals I need and no long runs done. Ended up with my best month of the year and best in about 3 years with 147.1 miles but still no real long runs.

 Nov: Due to the lack of long runs I made the very wise decision to drop down to the half at the City of Oaks Marathon  on the 3rd with the goal of trying to beat my time from last year which would be a challenge because I ran pretty well on this  tough course last year. Ended up running well this year but only better by 6 seconds in 1:49:10 and that all came in the last 10th of a mile sprint ! Good enough for 2nd AG in this larger event. Good training continued through the month and I ended it with a 5K Cross country race at the Nike Southeast Regional event. 23:35 on the tough course in some muddy conditions was satisfactory and only 2 seconds slower than the flat road 5k in August. 142.9 for the month.

 Dec:  I only had one race planned to finish out the year before going back into a marathon training program. That was the Frosty Run 10k on the 7th in Wake Forest. I had done some specific workouts for it so it was a bit of a disappointment that at the last minute a course change caused the certified course to be shortened to about 5.7 miles. It turned out cold and windy but I ran well on this hilly route my 45:16 was equivalent to about 48:40 if it had been the full 10k. 2nd AG. Finished the month with 140.7 miles.

And that's it for 2019. I'll post a looking ahead post with some goals for the coming year soon. Right now I'm happy with the way things are going and confident 2020 will be a good one.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

week two of marathon training and all is well

 I'm pleased to report that everything is going as planned and I'm feeling good. I finished up the week with 44 miles which is the best week in over two years and maybe longer ! I'm having no aches or pains (knock on wood) as I continue to closely monitor my body and allow for plenty of rest. Working part time now and with a flexible schedule allows me a lot of goofing off time and plenty of sleep which is always needed but especially for us old people !

 Here is what the week looked like.

 Sun: 14 miles at 9:07 pace which is 4:00 marathon pace.
 Tues:6 miles in 53:47
 Wed: 4 miles in 35:27
 Thur: Workout Day. Went to the track for tempo intervals. 5 x 1k in 4:50 to 4:47 with 200m recoveries. Total with warm up and cooldown of 6 miles in 51:38.
 Fri: 6 miles on the ATT in 54:23 getting re-familiar with the course.
 Sat: 8 miles in 1:17:35 on Umstead hills.

 Cross training for the week was a bit light once again. One body weight day, one gym weights session, two core workouts of 30  and 15 minutes and three 45 minute sessions of yin yoga.

 Looking ahead to next week, I plan to take it pretty easy and taper for the Salem Lake 25K race next Saturday which should be a good indicator of my current fitness.

 Stay tuned for more updates and a race report soon.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

First week training update.

 I've just completed the first week of training for Tobacco Road and I have mixed feelings about it. Overall things went well. The paces have certainly been where I want them on my daily runs and the mid-week workout was perfection but as I suspected, the recovery time is going to be more of an issue at age 64 than it was just a few years ago. But, I am also being smarter about that than the younger me was and I have no problem taking rest days as needed or cutting things short like I did on  today's long run. The key is getting in the key workouts and a shift of a few days one way or another doesn't matter as long as they get done and I'll just do my planned 14 sometime over the next couple of days.

 Here is how the week looked.
 Sun: 4 easy in 36:14
 Mon: 4 easy in 36:24. Probably should have rested.
 Tues: Took that rest day.
 Wed: 9 miles in 1:18:03. Workout of 3 x 2 miles in 16:45, 16:47, 16:45, about my current half marathon race pace.
 Thurs: rest
 Fri: 5 miles easy in 44:43. Significant that this is the average pace I need for my goal pace in March :)
 Sat: 8 miles on Turkey Creek Loop in 1:18:47. Planned on 14 but the hills were too much for me today.

 In addition I had two 30 minute body weight sessions, 1 weights session at the gym for 35 minutes, 2 30 minute core sessions and two yin yoga sessions for 45 minutes each.

 Feeling excited and ready to  move on to next week. The plan is to make up the missing 14 miler early in the week, then I've got  a 5 x 1K at 10k pace planned for Thursday. Next weekends long run is just 12 again since I have the 25k race the following weekend.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Marathon Training officially begins

 Ok sports fans. It's time to get with the plan and be serious about preparing for Tobacco Road Marathon next march. I've used a running journal from day 1 of my running and it is set up like a calendar so my weeks start on Sunday.  This past week was a recovery week from racing the two previous weekends so it was all easy pace stuff.

 Sun: 5 miles easy in Rocky Mount on their greenway 45:02
 Mon: 5 miles easy on the Neuse Greenway 45:31
 Tues: 6 miles not so easy in Umstead. 59:37. I really needed a day off but I was working in Cary and I've been wanting to check out the Cedar Ridge re-route. Probably a bad idea. Felt tired, dead legs.
 Wed: Finally rested
 Thurs: 5 miles at Shelley Lake in 46:37. Still tired and heavy legs.
 Fri: more rest
 Sat: 12 miles along the Neuse in 1:48:16. This was the kick off of building the long runs. I was happy to feel fresh and stayed consistent and finished strong.
 Total of 33 miles.

 In addition to the running I am still doing lots of other workouts. This past week I did two body weight strength, one with weights at the gym,and three 30 minute core sessions. And although I no longer take yoga classes I still have a home practice although I was a bit slack with it this week. I do some yoga as part of my warmups in the strength sessions and at night I spend anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour doing yin yoga 4 or 5 days a week but this week I only did one.

 In the past going into a training plan like this I would usually schedule two speed or tempo type workouts each week but now that I've gotten into the mid 60's I have to face the reality that my recovery times aren't what they used to be and I have to be smarter and more careful. With that, I am only going to be doing one hard , faster quality workout each week and hopefully maximaize results with less chance of injury.

 One thing I have going for me right now is that my daily easy run pace is as fast as I need to run to get a guaranteed spot into Boston 2021. At my age I need 4:05 which is 9:21 pace. But to make sure I get in I want at least  a 5 minute cushion so 4:00 or less is the goal and that's 9:07 pace and my 12 miler was at 9:01. So I really don't need more speed. I just have to build the endurance to hold that for the full 26.2 miles !

 According to the pace charts, in theory I should be able to run about a 3:47 marathon but of course that is taking into consideration that I have put in the long runs. Let me say now, I have no intentions of trying to run that fast in March.  Maybe someday later but #1 priority now is just getting that BQ and once that is taken care of then maybe I will work on that 3:47 again which was my BQ time for the 2016 Boston.

 So for those wanting to follow along here is the coming weeks plan. Mid week is the pace workout.
 1 mile warm up, 3 x 2 miles at 25k race pace (8:30) with 1/2 mile recoveries, 1 mile cool down.
 Long run of 14 miles.
 3 or 4 days of easy runs from 4 to 6 miles.

 Let the fun begin !

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Returning to the marathon.

 This post is just to give some of you followers a little background on my experience with the marathon.  I began running 42 years ago in 1977 and soon after decided I wanted to run a marathon. I finally felt I was ready and entered the Columbia (SC) Marathon in Mid February of 1981. A few days before I came down with the flu and wasn't able to race so I signed up for the Wilmington marathon 3 weeks later. Unfortunately I was still congested in the lungs and weakened and my experience in the race was not so good with cramping and walking the last few miles. I finished in 3:59:05 and was so sore afterwards I decided not to run another one for a few years.
  Then life decided it would be a lot longer. Fast forward to 2002 and  it was after running my first 50k in Feb before finally running another marathon. This was the beginning of my long distance era and over the next 13 years I ran over 80 ultras and 50 marathons before choosing to run shorter distances when I turned 60. From 2016 and my last time racing Boston my mileage had begun a steady decline and the once a year marathons  that I did run , I was woefully under-trained for and of course I haven't raced an ultra since Dec 2015.
 As a result of the lower mileage and little racing long distance over these past several years, any endurance and muscle memory for the marathon is long gone. This return will be like starting over with the exception that I do have the experience and know what is needed and how to do it.
 This will be a short marathon build up with only 13 weeks to train for the Tobacco Road Marathon which I've entered with the hopes of qualifying for Boston. I'm not too concerned with that though because since giving the run top priority in my training since July when I quit going to 5 or 6 yoga classes a week I have gotten my weekly average mileage up to the mid 30's per week and hit the low 40's a couple of times so I have a good base to build on.
 I've got my training plan in place and it will began with at least a 12 mile run this Saturday Dec.14th and go from there. I'll be posting weekly updates so stay tuned. Boston 2021, I'm coming for you.