Doing More With Less Since 1972

Category: Running (Page 1 of 9)

A Different Approach To Faster Running

When the ‘rona hit and I couldn’t go to BJJ any longer, I decided to take the time off to get back into the deep end of running. Is a sub-20:00 5k possible for me?

****SPOILER ALERT****

Probably Not.

I haven’t been super dedicated to running for several years. Still, I knew what it was going to take to get faster. A weekly long run, a couple of easy runs, and a weekly HARD workout. I hate running intervals. But I decided to buckle down and do it.

Problem is, I’m not as young as I used to be, and I was getting really beat up on the hard workouts. I didn’t have any real significant injuries, but it seemed like I was “hurt” all the time. I’ve run enough to know that running hurt is the path to injury, mostly because of the repetitive nature of running and what happens when you change your stride to accommodate the hurts.

Enter the solution (maybe): Hard bike workouts to get in the zone 4/5 training and doing all the runs at an easy pace. I’m still keeping the weekly long run, but I’m just looking for time on my feet. I have faith this will work based on the improvements I’ve seen in my running in the past when I focused on cycling along with the running race results I was able to get when I was REALLY fit from BJJ and doing no running at all.

The added benefit here is that I get to keep all the things I love about running easy and jettison all the things I hate about running hard. In truth, I dislike races less than 10k as well, but doing a race every now and then for the good of the 5 9s team isn’t a huge ask.

I Hate New Year Resolutions

If you think about it, it’s a little strange to decide to make major changes based on some arbitrary time when a number changes on a piece of paper.

Still, we’re human, and I guess we need these imaginary lines to psychologically break up time; this year more than any other in our lifetimes.

But I’m not making resolutions. I mean, I’m definitely making some changes that coincide with the calendar change, but they aren’t really resolutions. The timing is merely a coincidence. So…listed in no particular order:

Blogging

When we moved from FL to Las Vegas a few years ago, I cut back on blogging a lot. I’ll write later about the reasons why, all the other changes that happened, etc. But I do plan on updating things here much more often. Not because anything I have to say needs to be read, but because it helps me to write it.

Going past actually writing, I think there’s something therapeutic/cathartic about putting it out in the world to be seen, even if it’s not widely read. It feels weird to make yourself a little vulnerable and realize that you’re still ok.

This one is really important because it’s my outlet to talk about everything else on this list.

Cycling

I was really into cycling on Trainer Road a few years ago. It looks like I’m going to be transitioning over to Zwift, and I plan on talking about why along with tracking some of the technical stuff around it.

There’s a whole other aspect to this beyond training–lots of emotions tied up in it. Again, lots to say later, but the passing of my friend Bill this year ultimately led to a fire being lit under my behind.

Running

Religion? Therapy? I don’t know. It will take a lot of long runs to figure this out, but it’s something I’ve brought back into my life more this year. I didn’t know how much I was missing it. I have a lot to say about how my feelings around running have changed and this new need I feel to protect it.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Holy moly do I miss BJJ. I can’t wait to go back, and the end is in sight. Taking all this time off has given me a chance to reflect on how bjj plays into my physical and mental health. Like running, it’s something I need to protect. Both are activities I don’t want to risk being sidelined from.

Enterprise Architecture and TOGAF

Wow. There’s a switch in topics. I’ve spent the last year reading and studying a lot. Again, lots to say here, but all of it can wait until after I take my last exam and have a certification that can’t be rescinded.

Rugby

Greatest game ever. As years pass, I’m increasingly amazed at the breadth and depth of impact rugby has had on my life.

I wish I could have just one more season in a 28 year old body.

Coronavirus

The Missus and I have spent a lot of time this year thinking and talking about this. Shocking, right? Some about the specifics around the actual virus, but a lot more about it’s implications for our family and society going forward. I think our experience and journey through this has been really healthy, but it has made me look at our culture/society a little differently.

Other Stuff

As I’ve gotten older, I’m subscribing less and less to “isms”. I think that’s because I’ve realized I don’t really have any answers and neither does anyone else. There are so many nuances to everything. Oh to have just one more day of being young and knowing everything (or anything). I’ve shied away from writing about politically charged stuff for years, but I think it may be easier for me now that I have more questions than answers.

Besides that, I’ve been listening to great music, reading some cool books, and reading some trendy books. I should share, or at least leave some thoughts I can refer to later.

I’ve gotten hooked on some really interesting stuff on YouTube. And while I haven’t been posting here, I’ve written quite a bit as well. Mostly on Twitter (lol), but also done some gratitude journaling (how trendy), and even had to get up in the middle of the night to get a poem out of my head.

Yeah…not really ready to share that yet.

Things I want to learn more about

Spanish, literature, music theory, economics, etc. This list is ever-expanding, and I’ve come to the realization I think a lot of people come to–I’m running out of time to cram all this in.

I’m not editing this. I’m just hitting publish.

Covid-19 Long Run Planning

One of the most annoying things I’ve had to deal with during Covid-19 (besides not being able to train BJJ) is planning out long run hydration.

Pre-covid, it was a minor inconvenience to plan water stops into a run. But now that I don’t want to use public water fountains–there are plenty around–it’s a little frustrating.

Whawha….just carry a water bottle with you. I know, but I’d rather not. And for some reason I hate wearing a camel pack on runs even though that was standard operating procedure when I was running desert trails.

2018 Excalibur 10 Mile Race Report

;TLDR Version

Ran much faster than I thought I would (1:20:05)

Ran almost as fast as I could have–made a couple of small mistakes that probably cost me some time.

Still love this race. Still love this course.

Still would rather have some socks or a credit (maybe $3/race) at Running Zone instead of a medal or crown.

Long Version

Preparation

The Villarreal sisters are good at signing up for this race, but I always have to run it. Ok, maybe not always, but every time I’ve run it has been as a fill-in for one of them. Only one sister left to register and then bail on this race. After that, I guess I’ll have to register. To be fair, Lili was medically ineligible this time around and knew that well in advance. The plan was to run with my best Frienemy, El Sueño, and we even trained together for our long runs going into this. Unfortunately, he had to be out of town for a family emergency and I was left to go it alone on race day.

No worries though. Vitamin A brings it for the Main Event!

Kinda.

I think it’s fair to say I trained ok for this race. Not trained optimally, because I’ve only been running once or twice a week–usually a long run of 6-8 miles and then a really slow three miler thrown in there somewhere. Still, we’ve been running at a sub 9:00 pace on our long days and are still able to carry on a conversation, and we’ve done them all on Mondays after my hardest jiu jitsu class of the week on Sundays.

So miles have been low, but I think the intensity I’ve been training with in BJJ (tough 4 minute intervals) combined with actually spending some time on my feet making a running motion had me reasonably trained. I did not want to make the mistake I made in November and come in without much training at all.

As a result, I think I could have run a lot faster and probably PR’d if I’d focused on running for the weeks leading into this race. But I still enjoy training BJJ more, and would have despised running the whole time if I’d been missing out on that.

The reality is that there isn’t enough time in the day for me to do all the training I want, but I’m so fortunate to get to train as much as I do, so no complaints.

I was expecting to push myself and run at an 8:12 pace to get a finishing time of 1:21:59. Realistic, and I could be pretty happy with that.

Pre-Race

If you’ve read any of my race reports you know that I don’t hold back my honesty about race organizers. And I’ve never had a bad word to say about the Running Zone’s ability to put on a race. These guys pull it off perfectly every time. Lots of communication and information leading up to their races, everything runs on time, parking and bag check are always easy to navigate, lots of pace groups, etc. Just top notch.

I arrived at Viera High School at around 6:40 and was able to park pretty close to the start line. It seemed like the rush started right after I got there. It was a little chilly, so I held off on checking my bag to maximize my time in warm clothes. I sat down next to the concession stand and just relaxed as people came pouring in.

I was the only person I saw sitting.

This is so weird to me. We’re about to go do something kind of hard that requires us to be on our feet, so I’m going to do everything I can to stay off my feet for as long as I can. But all around me are people milling about, bouncing up and down to stay warm, and even warming up. I mean, I did a short warm up before the race too, but not 45 minutes before the race. My warm up routine isn’t close to that long.

But to each his own–just an observation.

Game Time!

I was planning on doing something similar to what I did the last time I ran this race, which worked out really well. If I could average 8:15 – 8:20 miles for the first two miles I should have enough information to figure out the rest of the race. I was not looking at mile splits on my watch, just monitoring the overall pace. Looking back at the splits later, I did a decent job of running the first two miles according to the plan–8:36 and 8:09. Slower than I wanted on the first one, but no problem making it up on the second.

Making it all up on the second was probably a mistake.

I was feeling good though. I decided to gradually start speeding up and check in with myself at the 5 mile mark. I honestly don’t remember much about what was happening on the course at this point. In fact, I was driving past Space Coast Stadium the other day and realized that I didn’t remember this part of the race at all. I know it was cool out because I wasn’t over heating.

Miles 3-5 were 8:02, 8:02, 7:59. I like that.

Still feeling good, so speed up just a little and hold it for 3 miles, then turn on the juice for the last two.

7:50, 7:41, 7:51

Uh-oh. That 7th mile at 7:40 came back to bite me. I don’t remember exactly what happened there, but my best guess is that I’d been putting in some effort on the gravel road portion of the course, which was kind of loose, and when I got back to cement I kept the effort level the same instead of dialing it back and keeping the pace the same. I really would have liked to hold onto that ten seconds for later in the race.

I did my best to go harder in the last two miles (7:42, 7:36) but didn’t have much left to accelerate. I started with a plan to speed up with a mile left, but then bargained for the last half mile, then the last quarter. I think most of the time I saved in the last mile was in the last 200 yards. I wouldn’t call it a “sprint”, but it was all I had. I crossed the finish line, walked a couple of steps, and then had to run again to get to the end of the chute so I could throw up on the grass and not the track.

Official finishing time was 1:20:05, so I missed the 8:00 pace by 0.5 seconds per mile. Ugh.

I probably could have made up some time in the first mile as well. Or by taking a little shorter liquid walk break at mile 6.

But if you’d told me at 6:30 that morning while I was driving there my finish time would be 1:20:xx I’d have been really happy, so no complaints.

2017 Space Coast Half Marathon Race Review

TL;DR Version…

Years and years of training have paid off. I’m happy I still know how to run mentally, even when the physical part isn’t there.

My cardio is really good, but my legs weren’t too happy about being asked to go that far without much run-specific training.

Official time: 2:02:14

I probably won’t run this race again. And that makes me a little sad.

Long Version

Pre-race

As always, packet pickup at the Running Zone was a piece of cake. I stopped in the Monday before the race, showed my ID, and was out of there in just a couple of minutes. Race packet included a nice long-sleeved shirt and a Moon Pie. Again, I really wish we could opt for some socks instead of another shirt. And I’d DEFINITELY rather have a pair of socks instead of a medal.

More on medals later.

I had a difficult time sleeping the night before the race. I’m not used to having to deal with this. Usually, I’ve put in my time training and trust in it, so I sleep like a baby the night before a race. This time, the longest run I’d done in training was 8 miles (5 weeks ago), and I had not run more than 10 miles since March 2014 (3.5 years). In the month leading up to the race I logged 15 miles total, with only one run longer than 3.2 miles. I knew I could cover 13.1 and run the whole thing, but wouldn’t know what to expect for a race time until I was actually out there.

I figured anything under 2:10:00 would be a great day.

I didn’t have any trouble getting up at 4:15 and heading to my SIL’s house to get a ride to the race. Luckily we were being dropped off and didn’t have to deal with parking. On the way there I realized I’d forgotten to bring my watch. Ugh…didn’t want to carry my phone, but missing the splits sounded like a worse option (nerd). I decided I’d just carry my phone in my hand and record the race with the Strava app. Not optimal, but whatever. I didn’t have huge expectations anyway.

I also realized I hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast. Hooray for planning.

This was my first time running the half at this event, which starts 30 minutes before the full. In my two times running the full, I really appreciated the fact that the course wasn’t crowded at all.

Not so with the half. Or maybe it was my fault.

The Race

I jumped in right after the 10:00/mile pace. I was pretty sure I could do that for the whole race since it was pretty cool outside. I could definitely do 10:00 miles for 7 or 8 miles. Unfortunately, a bunch people who had zero intentions of running anything close to that pace jumped in at the same point. The first mile was a whole lot of running up on to people walking and not having any space to get around them safely because of the crowds. Lots of people running were going at 12:00 plus pace.

This isn’t safe. It’s like getting on the freeway and driving 35 mph.

I hope this doesn’t come off as too whiney. I think it’s awesome that people get up early and go cover this distance, no matter how fast they do it and no matter if they walk or run. And I’m not a snob about running either–I’m well aware that my best day ever running would be an embarrassingly slow day for a whole lot of people.

But please, people, go out with the group that’s running the pace you intend to run.

Corrals with qualifying times for entry would be nice for this race.

So the first mile was much slower than I’d intended. I wasn’t sure what pace it was because I’d decided not to look at pace/time on my phone at all. The biggest reason was that I wasn’t even sure I had enough battery left on my phone to capture the whole thing and turning on the screen would be a battery drain. LOL.

I was eventually able to get to a stable pace. I wasn’t sure exactly how fast I was going, but I was pretty sure I could carry it for 13.1 though (thanks Experience). I started coming up with an off-the-cuff plan. I figured I’d run this pace for the first 8, then increase it a little bit there if I still felt good. If I was still feeling good at 10 mile mark I’d run the last 5k as hard as I could.

First 8 splits:
10:27, 9:55, 9:45, 9:30, 9:33, 9:37, 9:20

Looking back, I’m extremely happy with those splits. I felt really good at the 6 mile mark and had to hold myself back a little bit. I took a very quick cup of water and a cup of Gatorade around mile 7ish and thought I’d be pretty good on liquid for the rest of the race. But it reminded me that I hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I decided I’d get a Gu and sip it for the rest of the race too. Even after speeding up a little for miles 9 and 10 (8:59, 8:42) I still was holding back a bit. I was passing a lot of people, and I knew I’d have a decent 5k left in me at the 10 mile mark.

Course note here: I passed a lot of people who were staying to the extreme right of the courses, even when it curved to the left. Run the apex of curves.

The last 5k felt like a regular ol’ 5 k (8:11, 8:07, 8:00). I didn’t have much in the legs, but mental energy can get you through a 5k. Again, I’m really glad I had some experience to fall back on. “Yeah, this sucks and your legs are going to hurt tomorrow, but you’ve felt this many times before, and it’s JUST 5k.”

Official Finish Time: 2:02:14

Like I said, I was passing a lot of people during those last 5 miles. Because I’m a nerd I was able to glean from the results that I passed 457 from the 10k point. No one passed me. So I was probably a little too conservative at the start, but that’s the side I’d prefer to err on.

Post Race

I’m very happy with this result considering how under-trained I was. I’m very disappointed with this result because I know I could have easily PR’d on this day if I’d trained.

Flat course and perfect conditions.

Finish line was awesome again this year–cold wet towels to help cool off, a beach towel with the race logo on it, a nice finisher’s medal, plenty of food and drink without long lines, and a relatively easy time getting to and from the finish line for spectators. Also, the finish line is where you pick up your bonus medal for doing 3 and/or 5 of the last 5 races.

And here’s where we get into the medal discussion/controversy/complaining…whatever you want to call it.

The Running Zone made a very smart marketing move a few years ago when they came up with the idea of giving “super-special” medals for completing the next 5 (or 3 of the 5) races. There’s a segment of people out there who love medals, and the Space Coast Marathon medals are really nice if that’s what you’re into. The result at the end of the five years is that it’s tough to get into the 13.1 distance for this race. I’m not sure if the full sold out.

So now they’ve decided to do ANOTHER special medal program over the next four years with even BIGGER and fancier medals, and they’ll be adding a SECOND half marathon course that is run over the first half of the full marathon course. So now there will be TWO different half marathons and they can take twice as many runners.

If you are into medals, get in on this. They had the new ones on display at the finish area, and the things are HUGE.

The downside for me is that there will be close to twice as many people running.

I get it. This makes economic sense. It’s twice as many people paying entry fees.

But for me, the product they are now selling and the product I want to buy are two different things.

They are selling big fancy medals for completing the distance. What I’ve always been buying is an incredible race experience on a fast course with smaller crowds and manageable race day logistics. I’d pay a higher entry fee to continue enjoying this race that way.

Honestly, I think the fee has always been an incredible bargain.

I’m not really sure what that finishing area is going to look like next year with 3,000 more runners and their families.

I think my best option is to just come out the day before the race and run the course by myself. Or the week before.

Or whenever I want. I’m old enough an ornery enough now that I figure I don’t need someone else to validate for me that the “race” counts.

I’ve already heard people saying, “I don’t want to run the North section of the course.” So I’m sure a bunch of folks will just try run the South course even though they are North registrants, making it more crowded. And adding people to the North section alone means people running the full marathon may have to navigate around these crowds–the South section has usually thinned out by the time the full participants get there.

In short, what I always enjoyed as a small local race is starting to morph into a big race. Nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want to be, just not what I’m looking for.

I think this may be a microcosm where running is headed in general. I think it’s a little bit of a shame when I perceive people running for medals. Let’s face it–these are adult participation trophies for all but a few people [Spoiler–I’m never going to win this or any other race]. And it seems like more and more people are out there with nice gear that lets you know they are “running for wine” or “running for beer” or whatever.

I’d like to see more people out there after suffering through months of training and going out on race day trying to get PRs or complete the distance for the first time. Again, I’m not being a running snob or anything here. It’s not about how fast someone can run, it’s about going through the process and suffering to find out how fast YOU can run.

I know first-hand that really dedicating yourself to running and a difficult training program can have a tremendously positive impact on peoples’ lives.

If you cross the finish line and feel like the only thing you got from the process was a piece of mass-produced metal, you’re missing out on the best of what running has to offer you. That’s my opinion anyway.

Maybe it seems ironic that I’m writing this after running a race without training and missing a golden opportunity to PR.

I get that too.

Best Training Partner Ever

I got a Twitter DM from a great and old friend one morning last week. “I’ll be in Orlando Jan 9-13. When are we rolling?” I immediately sent him back a message letting him know what our class schedule is.

Dedicated readers of this blog (basically, just me) are aware that I’m currently obsessed with BJJ. Dedicated followers of @svandyke will know that he’s a newly minted blue belt who was a couple of years ahead of me in discovering how awsum BJJ is.

When I started playing rugby in college, Shawn was already there. Going forward, he was there a lot more than I was. My dedication was a roller coaster, but he was one of the most dedicated attendees at our Tuesday/Thursday training sessions. He never let his rigorous school schedule, faith-based objections to our general behavior, or the fact that he was an understudy to an All-American for much of his career stop him from being a loyal and reliable part of the team. We suffered a lot together during those days (“YOU’RE NOT TIRED! YOU JUST THINK YOU ARE!”), although it may not be fair to say we were “partners” since he never had to carry my big boo-hind up the hill at Fulton Bottoms.

After college I started taking rugby a lot more seriously while Shawn eased off the rugby gas a little. He moved away for a while, but when he came back and started being involved in the men’s club more, he was my preferred choice as a weight lifting partner. I’d had intermittent stints with other partners who would either flake out routinely (Space Monkey) or try to convince me that the Shoney’s Breakfast Bar was a better idea than the squat rack (BFR).

Shawn showed up. Every morning. And he showed up to work.  We rotated who led each session, and when his turn landed on a shoulder day there was hell to pay.  We even made it to yoga classes together. We were among the first dudes to figure out that everyone else in the class was going to be female, and would crack each other up by doing pushups as punishment conditioning opportunities for falling out of balance poses. Our yoga teacher was the first to use, “this is not a competition” in that setting.

Almost everything was a competition. Competition–pissing contest–whatever. And when it wasn’t, it wasn’t.

I don’t remember the last day Shawn and I lifted, but I do remember the day after that. Both of us showed up to the gym on time and sat on the couch to enjoy our first cup of coffee. We ended up talking for about an hour instead of working out, then decided that we were done. We weren’t going to do this any more. I haven’t lifted with any real dedication since.

Not long after we stopped lifting, I decided I was going to run a marathon. The problem with running a marathon is that it takes a lot of discipline and dedication early in the morning. I’ve gotten much better since, but at the time I was standing on shaky ground with both discipline and dedication. But I’m smart about this kind of stuff, so I called Shawn and floated the idea to him. Getting him on board to do the race was the key for me to train and finish. I knew he’d be there to meet me every single day to run. No doubt about this guy. And I didn’t want to let him down, so I was always there too.

I don’t think he missed a single run until he got hurt. He had to bail on the last half of the training program because of an injury, but still showed up and did the race. When he was training, we were on the same pace, but there was no way he was going to be able to do that pace on race day, so we didn’t get to run together. I remember seeing an ambulance go by during the race and thinking of him, hoping they weren’t going to pick him up. I knew he wouldn’t quit. He’d either finish or they would carry him off for medical care.

As expected, he finished.

I can’t wait to train with Shawn. Seriously…I can’t wait! This is one more in a long line of things I get to train with Shawn. One more way we get to grow together. When I look back on the majority of my athletic endeavors since the Fall of 1993, Shawn has been an almost constant staple.

White Rock Loop Trail Run

My intention was to write a long descriptive post about how awsum this run was. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to blog, and have now forgotten most of the details.

That’s a good thing, because the sooner I forget how much this run beat me up, the sooner I’ll go out and do it again.

Enjoy the photos!!!

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Races–Gotta Get Something On The Schedule

I’ve hit a rut.

I’m working out consistently…well, running at least, somewhat consistently…but not having an immediate purpose if starting to take its toll.

My spring so far has sort of been built around rugby. I’ve already played one March tournament in Savannah, and I have another one coming up in NOLA in April. The plan was to make it out to rugby training with The Red Eyes once a week, maybe make a B-side match to help fill out numbers here and there, and get all my other fitness through running and some cycling on the off days.

The problem is that even rugby training jacks my back up. Bad. And the tournament I played a couple of weeks ago left me unable to run for about a week. I’m still going to make it to the NOLA tournament, but nothing in between now and then rugby-wise.

But I’m not amping up my SBR for some reason. I’m chalking up some of that to work travel and spring tasks around the house, but I’m running out of excuses.

Luckily, my Fall schedule is loaded with races–a couple of big Oly distance tris and a couple of 13.1 races right after that. So I’m going to have to start buckling down soon whether I like it or not.

Did I mention I’d like to come into serious tri training this season with a 5k PR?

Yeah…I’d better get on that.

2014 Excalibur 10 Miler Race Report

As always, another tremendous event put on by The Running Zone. A really nice course, great volunteer support, and incredible food and atmosphere after the event. RZ has set the bar pretty high over and over…I wouldn’t expect any less.


This was the inaugural running of this event, and I’ll go ahead and make the prediction that it will blow up next year (get in early). It’s a medieval themed race, complete with a sword fight at the start line and crowns instead of medals for all finishers. They did a great job of keeping the race in character from start to finish.

But enough about the race…let’s talk about the race.

The Missus was registered to run this event with her sister–her first race past 5k, but she suffered a calf heart attack (ouch) a couple of weeks ago and had to make a tough game-time decision on whether or not to race. It came down to walk/jog and risk more injury, walk and (hopefully) not get injured, or donate her bib to someone (me) who had a long run scheduled for that day anyway.

Needless to say, nobody wants to walk 10 miles, and the injury risk for someone who runs to augment other fitness wasn’t worth it. So I lucked out!

This course rocks, rocks, rocks. It’s crazy fast, has a nice long section on a private road, water stops every two miles, but not much shade. Heat became a factor.

ExcaliburCourseMap_110813

My planned long run would have been at about 10 minute pace, 8 miles or so, and I hadn’t planned on racing this distance, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself. I was going in with a 10 mile PR of 1:18:32 from 10 years ago on a much tougher course. But I’ve been running intervals and tempos at a decent clip lately, so I was going to go for it and see what happened.

Realistic goals were 1:21:xx, but I thought I could crack 1:20:00 if I played it right. I’ve been doing a really good job of race management lately, and I knew the recent speed work would help me feel out my pace.

I guessed if I started somewhere between 8:05 and 8:15 pace I’d have plenty of information after 2 miles to figure out the rest of the race.

I’m very happy with the way I split this race!

8:09, 8:02, 7:56, 7:58, 7:53, 7:50, :7:47, 7:54, 7:42, 7:30

I started right around the 9:00 pace group, thinking that would give me a chance to get some momentum by passing people early, but not too quickly. After the first two miles, I was pretty sure I’d be able to sneak in under 8:00 pace. I was feeling really good, and I’d positioned myself between the 8:30 and 8:00 groups, so there was lots of space.

Running tempo runs in the heat of the day in training paid off big. I was in a pace I knew I could hold for several miles with temperatures in the high 70s, and it was cooler than that. I knew it was going to get hotter, but once I could smell the finish line I thought I’d be able to hang on. My plan was to run two mile segments and bump the pace up a little for each one.

I took a splash of Gatorade at mile 4 and committed to hanging without any more liquid to squeeze time.

I started sipping a Gu at mile 5. Between that and the Gatorade, I was amped. Training without sugar really pays off when you get into a race and allow yourself to have it. It’s like rocket fuel…borderline PED.

Around mile 6 it started to heat up and I noticed a lot of people around me fading a little. I was passing more people, and I wasn’t getting passed by anyone. That’s good on one hand, but also a little scary…did they know something I didn’t? I was doubting my plan just a little.

That accounts for the little pullback for the 8th mile. Just after the 7 mile mark I caught the 8:00 pacer, and he was all alone. I asked if I could hang with him until the 8 mile mark. I wanted to settle down by a few seconds pace and make sure I was going to able to go at it for the last two.

I pretty well emptied the tank on the last two, trying to accelerate the whole way–finished with a 1:19:02, 30 seconds off the PR. Forgot to stop my watch at the finish line, which accounts for the difference in times. A good thing–that means I was so spent I wasn’t thinking clearly. Woohoo!


I was extremely happy with that result. I won’t lie, for a flash I thought, “Ugh….just 31 seconds faster for a PR?!?!” but I quickly realized that would have meant every one of those splits would have been 3 seconds faster, or I would have had to come up with an extra 30 seconds on the last mile. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have done either of those.

Besides, my goal for the year is to get faster. And if this is my starting point, things are looking good!

A Different Kind Of Schedule For Me

I decided a couple of weeks ago that I was going to focus on fast instead of far for this year. I took some time off after the Tour of Sufferlandria (a whole week off the bike) to recharge and get ready for some new stuff.

Lots of new stuff actually.

This spring I’m committed to (gasp) rugby for the for first time in a long time. Well…not too committed, I’m only going to practice once a week. But there’s an Old Boys tournament in NOLA this April, and I want to show up not only fit, but also with at least some of the strength and rugby mobility I’ve lost over the past couple of years.

It also helps to have held a ball recently.

This actually fits in pretty well with my efforts to try and get a little faster. I’m focusing a lot more on fast twitch in my non-rugby days with intervals. You could make the case that I’m more committed than the average rugby player because I’m going to training once a week and actually doing something on the other days. 😉

And then there’s that mobility issue–back to yoga.

The Missus has a YogaGlo subscription, and when I started checking out their offerings for endurance athletes, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m getting in a couple of short sessions each week focusing on hammies and hips, but also getting some arm and shoulder work in.

The missing piece to my whole plan is swimming. I’m not going to get in nearly enough. Saturday morning Masters is one tough workout a week, but that’s my only access to a pool. I’m hoping I’ll be able to squeeze in at least one day of OWS, but that sort of depends on the availability of partners.

The hope is I can make it to the end of April without any injuries, a little more speed, a little more strength, a little more mobility, and ready to switch things up a little.

Here’s the general schedule:

  • Mondays: moderate bike + stretch yoga
  • Tuesdays: run intervals + stretch yoga
  • Wednesdays: easy bike + long yoga
  • Thursdays: tempo run + rugby
  • Fridays: long slow bike + stretch yoga
  • Saturdays: masters swim + hard run
  • Sundays: long run

[image credit]

The Unplanned Off Season

Dang it the money. It happened to me.

I was really happy with the way I kept up the fitness momentum throughout the holidays–the beginning of the “off season”. The plan was that there really wasn’t going to be an off season. I didn’t feel burned out at all, and I wanted to keep in the flow.

Between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day I was able to pull off a full marathon and a self-supported 50k.

But in the last couple of weeks the wheels have fallen off. Well, not horribly–it’s not as if I’m not working out. But the volume has definitely fallen off.

Do I get some kind of reprieve for the fact that the intensity has picked up? I’ve been riding Sufferfest videos on Trainerroad in between rest days…does that count?

My run volume is definitely down as well, but I’m not throwing many junk miles in when I am out running. Intervals and higher paced (for me) long runs are showing up on the schedule regularly.

The fact that the schedule is a little bare right now definitely plays in. Other than the Tour of Sufferlandria, which starts next week, I don’t have much set in stone for 2014 except for an Old Boys Rugby Tournament in April.

So training is changing up a little bit for the next couple of months. I’m going to try to focus on bike improvement, run maintenance, and rugby whoop-ass. The only swimming I have planned for right now is a 1 mile OWS on Thursday nights before rugby practice. If the rugby thing falls through (what is it with these guys being able to commit?), I’ll join my local masters swim club and get some Saturday workouts in too.

Oh yeah…this year’s Bridge to Bridge is closer than it seems! Tick. Tock.

[Insert Your Name Here] 50k Race Report

Wild Hair 50k? Dumb Idea 50k? Never Again 50k?

Again, this isn’t a race. Or wait…maybe it is. Since I was the only participant, it may serve me well to consider this event a race. Look at me–I’m a winner!

The original idea for this run was to wake up on New Year’s Day and see how far I could run. I’d go until I quit or until my average pace was 13:00/mile. I really wanted to make it to 50k and wasn’t interested in quitting before I made that distance. The real idea here was to do something big, but do it self-supported. I did end up getting a little bit of help with a drink mix.

Plans changed–an advantage to doing self-supported events is that you aren’t stuck with someone else’s schedule. During the week of Christmas things were pretty hectic. Lots of cooking, lots of cleaning, and lots of people coming into town. As a result, I got in an 11 mile run on December 22 and didn’t get to work out again until a (pretty hard) bike ride on Friday. I got to sleep in pretty late on Saturday morning and decided about 5 minutes into my first cup of coffee that I’d do the run the next day (12/29) instead of New Year’s Day.

My thinking was that I’d gotten a lot of sleep the night before, and I was about as tapered as I was going to be. I’d taken so many days off that week already, and I wasn’t interested in resting for another three days just so I could put off the run. So I didn’t really do a real and proper taper, but I was reasonably rested coming in and had done a marathon exactly 4 weeks before. Added bonus–this would give me two marathons in December!

The Nutrition


I’ve been working pretty hard on fat adaptation and moving away from fueling on a ton of sugar. This paid off, because I don’t think I could have handled living on Gu for 6 hours. I got a great cookbook a few weeks ago called “Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes (The Feed Zone)“. There’s also something really gratifying about prepping your own food before an event. It sort of reminds me of the times I’d spend the night before a rugby game polishing up my boots. Just another added ritual, and I could see this being a really good calming activity pre-race.

There are some really good recipes and ideas in this book, not just for training and racing, but also just to keep healthy snacks around and available for the kids. A great example is the peanut butter jelly rice cakes. The kids love these things, and they work out great for delicious fuel that’s easy on the stomach.

 

I also changed up the recipe for potato leek frittatas. I just dumped some bagged hash browns into a bowl and added three eggs, some cheese, and some ham left over from Christmas. Mixed it up, filled some muffin tins with it, and put it in the oven on 180 for about 20 minutes. These things were great on (it’s not a) race day!

egg_potato_ultra_running_fuel

My plan was to make it as far as I could without resorting to an onslaught of sugar. So I was going to eat pretty often, but not too much at any one time.

The Execution

The plan was that there wasn’t going to be much of a plan. I knew I’d have Neighbor Ben along for the middle part of the run. I also knew those miles would be a little faster than my overall average. I was meeting up with Ben at 6:30, so I left home at about 5:15 am trying to hit 11:00 miles for 7 miles or so. I ate a banana and a frittata before I left the house and hit a couple of water stops while I was out.

I met up with Ben at 6:30, ate some more, stuffed my pockets with rice cakes, and we started out again. His plan was to do 16, and my plan was to run with him for a while and also catch some walking/eating breaks here and there since a big part of this part of the run was going to be in Wickham Park doing loops and trails. My heart rate stayed in control for the most part, except for the sections on the trails. No hills here, but there’s a lot of sugary sand that slows the pace while forcing the effort level. I tried to stay under my LT, but snuck up over it a few times.

I started realizing around mile 12 that even though I was keeping the pace in check, this was going to be a really tough day. As we headed back and I hit 18 miles I realized I was down to about a half marathon left. Any ideas I had about bailing before 50k were out the door. I was still averaging around 11:45/mile at that point, and the walk breaks had paid off. I made it back to the house at mile 21. 10 miles left to go, and feeling pretty good.

I lost a lot of time at this point, but it was worth it. My shorts were soaked–a really humid day out–and my shoes were well on their way. I took a few minutes to change shorts, socks, and shoes as well as get some more food in me. There’s a half mile loop around the house, and I did that 7 times  with the family, then did a quick one mile out and back while The Missus mixed up a heavy-on-the-Gatorade water bottle. I was pretty deep in at this point, and felt no shame resorting to sugar.

With 5.5 miles left, I went out on my usual 4 mile out and back course, leaving myself 3 more laps around the house to finish off the 50k. I planned some walking breaks during the 4 miles, and on the way out I took them. On the way back I started getting a little contrary and denied myself the walks–I just wanted this to end.

I got back to the Gatorade and started on my final three laps–1.5 miles left. I’d run seven of these already, and I knew that there was a headwind on one section of the loop that felt really good. I decided I’d walk that headwind on each lap and soak it up. I did that for the first two, but by the last one I was in “finish this thing off” mode. I ended up finishing 31.16 miles  in 6:23:52, which was a 12:19 pace overall. I was really happy with this, but even happier that it was over.

50k was plenty for me–I quit there.

Reflection

I’m not sure I want to do this again. Granted, I didn’t really train for this distance. I just figured since I was already in decent marathon shape I’d go out and give it a shot. I don’t know if I’d even want to dedicate the time it would take to really do this distance correctly. Ironically, or maybe not, I’m not nearly as sore the day after as I am the day after a marathon. I’m guessing that’s because the effort level was scaled way back. Time on the feet is a major factor here–over two hours longer time taken here than for a race only 5 miles shorter.

Still, I’m pretty excited about going out and doing a big self-supported event like this.

What’s next?

Self-Supported Running Event – January 1, 2014

And I don’t give a ladybug who you are or where you rank in the running world, I want you to get in on this!

I’m really excited about the prospect of doing a self-supported 140.6 in late 2014, but I’m in decent marathon shape right now and I don’t want to waste it. I also don’t want to plop down the money for another winter marathon. So I’ve come up with alternative–something that would be good to do annually.

The way I look at it, this will achieve one of two things every year. It will either keep me out of trouble on New Year’s Eve or make me pay dearly for the fun I had.

It’s a pretty simple event–“How Far Can You Run?” #howfar2014

Here’s the deal…

Wake up on New Year’s Day, take off running, and see how far you can go. The only rule I’m setting for myself is that I have to stop when my average pace for the day reaches 13:00 miles or I just plain quit–whichever happens first. Then the next year I’ll go out and try to run further. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ll never do it again because of the pain that ensues, but we’ll see.

No medals.

No t-shirts.

No fees.

Feel free to set your own rules and parameters. Step outside your own door and do the same. Jump on your treadmill. Run your local New Year’s Day 5k and keep running right through the finish line!

It seriously doesn’t matter how far you go. You may make it a mile, 10k, 15 miles, marathon, 50k, 50m…whatever. Just see how far you can go!

“Play a train song!”

[image credit]

Space Coast Marathon 2013 Race Data

“Man…I think a lot of people don’t realize how hot this race is going to be. A lot of these people are going to be struggling in the second half of this race.”

–Big Ben at ~ mile 8

We thought we were running at about the right pace, and I finished the race very happy with what I’d done that day.

I got a chance to break down the data a little last night.

I passed 195 people on the second half of the course–finished ahead of 195 people that made it to 13.1 faster than me. I was passed by two people. One of them was the wise man who spoke the words above.

Not patting myself on the back for the performance, but for the great job we did pacing. I really think 4:05:13 was all I had that day.

Good feeling!

2013 Space Coast Marathon Race Report

2013_scm_medal

Short version

No PR, but the best marathon I’ve ever run race-management wise.

4:05:13

Long version

Going into taper, I had one real goal for this race–don’t make a mental mistake. I did a very crunched marathon training schedule from the end of September with less volume than I wanted, but I knew running a really smart race would give me a great shot at sub 4.

We were traveling to see family for Thanksgiving (and eating), and I only got a couple of workouts in during the last week. No real problems with that. Traveling is stressful on its own–pretty much counts as a workout–and it was time to rest anyway. Regardless, it can mess with your head a little to let your running fall off like that. But I was prepared for it.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the Miles of Love team meeting we had on Friday night before the race. I didn’t know we were going to have the chance to meet some of the families and kids that Miles of Love works with that night.

That was a game changer.

Meeting Jackson, Nolan, and Jarod (sweetest kids ever) and their families was an extra nudge going into the race. I’ve  felt marathon pain before, and I knew it was nothing compared to what these kids have been through or what it must feel like to know your child is sick. But they were all smiling and in good spirits. Very inspiring.

There’s nothing I was going to face in a few hours time that was going to keep me from finishing with a smile on my face.

Pre-Race

I’ll refer to last year’s race report for everything leading up to the race–all the same. The only real difference this year is that the #1 Contender for the Fastest Man on Davidia Drive picked up my race packet for me. It’s nice that they’ll let someone pick up a packed for you with a copy of a drivers license.

26.2

As I said in the short version, this is the best managed marathon I’ve ever run. Splits for the first 20 miles are below with bathroom breaks noted:

  • Miles 1-5: 9:59, 9:31, 9:35, 9:17, 9:24 (BR)
  • Miles 6-10: 9:09, 9:12, 9:13, 9:08, 9:14
  • Miles 11-15: 8:59, 9:07, 9:00, 9:02, 9:13
  • Miles 16-20: 9:35 (BR), 9:00, 9:04, 9:00, 9:06

So breaking it down scientifically…I hit mile 20 at 3:04:49. That’s pretty much what I wanted to do. I knew if I could get to mile 20 feeling good and still be within a couple of minutes of 3:03:00 I’d have a shot at turning it on for the last 10k and breaking 4:00:00. I was going to have to run at an 8:53 pace for the last 10k, which at the time I hit mile 20 seemed completely reasonable. I felt great–actually never felt this good at mile 20 before, so I decided to give it a shot. Here’s an abbreviated version of the self-talk in each of those miles:

  • Mile 21 : Ok…speed up, but not too much. You don’t have to get it all back this mile. (9:01)
  • Mile 22 : Um…didn’t I tell you to speed up? Re-double your effort. (9:00)
  • Mile 23: You made a mental effort, and nothing happened physically. You’re now 14 seconds behind your original schedule, and you aren’t going to make 4:00:00. Physically, you felt like you poured the coals, but the reality is that you’re just plain tired. But you are still in this mentally, and that’s what is important. I’m going to allow you to walk two water stops between here and the finish, but there is no other walking allowed. That’s a bad precedent. (9:27)
  • Mile 24: Here’s one of your walk breaks. Enjoy it. (10:15)
  • Mile 25: Take your other walk break here. Savor it. Milk it. (10:39)
  • Mile 26: Make it to the mile marker you are essentially done. The last 0.2 is through a tunnel of supporters. You will run faster there no matter what, and you won’t even feel it. (10:02)
  • Last 0.2: Smile! (2:05)

I’ve been reading that a slight positive split is actually the optimal method for the marathon. I ran a 1 minute positive split on the back half. Very happy with this effort. I gave myself every opportunity to hit my goal, and I walked away knowing this is the best I could do that day. Maybe there were 30 seconds or so that could have been saved, but nothing that would make a real difference.

No regrets. No complaints. I don’t think I have mastered the marathon or anything like that, but I now know I can run one correctly. That puts a lot of pressure on for the next one.

Did I just type “next one”?

*** UPDATE ***

Can’t believe I forgot to mention how cool it was to run alongside Jeff Galloway for several miles on the first half of the race. He was doing a 30/15 run/walk and we were with him for quite a while. We were also with a lady who just wouldn’t leave the poor guy alone and let him run his race. The burdens of being a great running coach!

Post Race and Thank Yous

Biggest thanks to the people who supported me with donations to Miles of Love. I beat my fund raising goal, and our team beat our fund raising goal. You guys have no idea what an impact your donations are having on real families here locally. I’m not against making donations to large organizations at all, but when you can meet people who are impacted by your generosity within hours of the contribution it’s pretty amazing.

As always, thanks to the Fam for putting up with the training and coming out on race day. The medals for this race are crazy big and heavy, and it’s nice to have people who are more than willing to carry it around their necks so that I don’t have to.

And thanks again to the volunteers and handing out Gu, water, Gatorade, and  cold towels on the course along with all the food and beverages post-race.

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The Miles of Love team was also very lucky to have post-race catering by Vital Flair. UNBELIEVABLE ribs, a delicious omelette, burgers, snack food, champagne…everything you need to celebrate a race! Check these guys out if you have an event that needs some great food and friendly people to help out!

 

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