Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wow Moment

I just had a wow moment... I have ran often this training season without my Garmin; I mainly wear it when I'm pacing.  For a couple reasons, so I can learn what different paces feel like when I run relative to weather and so to prolong the life of my Garmin.  When I don't use my Garmin I use Map My Run and just  have it rolling on my phone strapped to my arm and I just do that for mileage.  I was looking through my last few runs, never looked at the run I did this past Sunday and saw the splits.  Not that I wasn't confident, but this was an eye opener for me as I did this the day after a 22 miler and I probably could have went another 4-5 miles.  I had no idea I was running at this pace.  I wonder what I can do on fresh legs.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reflecting Back on Previous 26.2's ... 28 days til Tulsa

     Today I finished a 22 miler, my longest training run since March.  Still feeling strong, but feeling the grind of training.  I understand what the athlete endures now, taking a beating in training and trying to prop yourself up and recover for the next training session.  During today's training run I started reflecting back on all of my previous marathons and how my preparation affected each one.  I made a lot of mistakes, which is expected.  Coach Steve Griffin says that it takes doing about three to four of these to get it right.  I'm sure hoping this is the one.   
Per my 4 marathons.  Pitiful.
Hopefully I will get it right on November 24th.

     I won't count my first marathon, the Big D in Spring 2012 as it was my first one and the goal was to just finish.  Ironically it is still my P.R. at 4:13:06.  I ran the Dallas Marathon that fall and I followed the training plan pretty well, however weather did not work out in my favor on race day.  On that day in early December we had warm humid weather and I ended up breaking down at mile 20 and in the back of an ambulance.  Here's the blog post to that debacle:  In better weather conditions and if I had have hydrated better, I'm confident I would have had my sub 4:00 marathon that I have been pursuing.  The Dallas Marathon course is not difficult at all, just the weather is a crap shoot every year.  After that race, I did not have the common sense to stop running and chill the hell out.  I should have not run or barely run for three to four weeks but instead I kept on piling up the mileage, so afraid that I would lose fitness before the Cowtown Marathon in February this year.  What happened due to my hardheadedness was an overuse injury of my lower left leg, and I've never mentioned this until now, but to this day I think may have been a small stress fracture that was never diagnosed.  My training ended up getting interrupted as I wasn't able to ramp up and peak out on the miles that I needed and as a result I lost some of my fitness and ran that marathon on that bad leg.  I finished at a decent time considering all the pain that I ran through at 4:30.  I also remembered that I spent about 10 minutes during the race waiting on and using the port-o-potty, so I probably could have had a 4:20.  The last marathon I ran, The Big D again, I actually served as a pacer for the first time.  I had no idea what to expect, as I was just coming off of that injury.  I was assigned to lead the 4:45 pace.  The weather again was warm and humid, and I was worried about my history of severe leg cramps.  This ended up being the first marathon I would finish and feel somewhat decent.  It was at a much slower pace than what I usually run and very grueling (not to mention the course was miss-routed and everyone ended up running 27.4 miles).  
I'm proud of each of these races in different ways,
even if the end result wasn't what was desired.
     So now, here I am preparing for marathon #5.  I have been following the training plan almost to a "T".   The most positive thing about this training season is that I'm completely healthy and everything is rolling along just fine.  The planets are all starting to align nicely.  I'm still trying to figure out these leg cramps as I experienced them again in the half I paced a couple weeks ago in Tyler, TX.  Both calves completely clutched up on me, but I think the factors were how saturated that course was with hills and the ridiculous humidity that day.  Plus I was just getting over a bad cold.  Per my conversation with fellow runner friend Jon Cruel, we both agreed that the leg cramps also may be due to not getting in enough intense long runs.  I have been trying to mix those in, at least one per week.  I just mapped out the course for the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon and the elevation gain proves show that this race will be hilly just as everyone has been saying.  I compared that route to the elevation gain of the hilly routes we run every week in training and it is no more hillier, so I'm not entirely frightened.  The Cowtown was 'hilly', so bring it.  I'm just hoping the beatdown that I'm giving my body right now pays off.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm on a Roll Like Toilet Tissue. 33 Days til Tulsa

Last week was probably the best week of training that I have had thus far, I'm trying to dupliate that effort this week.  After the Tyler Rose, I was sore as hell but still managed to grind out a recovery run that Monday.  The next day I met up with my 4:10 Marathon crew at my old high school for speedwork on the track.  We did 4x1200m repeats, in the rain and wind and the last set in complete darkness after the lights cut off on us.  It was pretty epic.  I'm getting to the point where I don't even look at or even use my Garmin unless I have to, which is usually when I'm pacing.  I still don't know what my splits were for that rainy tuesday night, didn't even bother to go back and look.  Because I'm learning what my body can do.  Speaking of that, wow what a big difference temperature makes.  Ever since we received our first "real" cool front at the beginning of last week where the temps actually dropped into the 40's, running has gotten so much easier.  It's not like I don't know that already, but it seems like you are reminded every year when you get that first cool weather run.  The runs which I do solo, I run at what I feel my marathon pace is because your body only knows effort level and knows nothing about pace.  Stole that from our training director after I heard hime say it the other day.  But it's true.  A 11:00 min/mile pace in the middle of July can feel the same as an 8:00 min/mile pace in 45 degrees.  It took me a while to get that beat into my head.  After the week was done, I had completed my first 50+ mile week in I don't know how long which was punctuated with a back to back 20 mile endurance run and 12 mile trail run.  And still feeling pretty damn good.  Main concern now is to keep up the intensity, not to get injured.  Listen to my body.  Keep following the training plan.  I've gotten a little more strict with my diet also.  Now is the time to get to the nitty gritty.  Another couple weeks of nose to the grind training and then some fine tuning and hopefully I will be ready.  This is what it's all about, the journey there.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Tyler Rose Half Marathon (pacing job) 40 days til Tulsa

     Last week was supposed to be one of my strongest weeks of training.  On the schedule was strength training on Tuesday, a tempo run Wednesday, a simulation run of the first 7 marathon miles on Thursday then 18 miler for Saturday and pace a half marathon on Sunday and a total of about 48 miles.  My last Sunday was already a little wheels off. Usually I run trails but since we had rain... AGAIN,  the trails were closed. It’s been almost a month since I’ve been on the trails due to weather. But I still managed to get in a nice 10 mile fun run through downtown and uptown with an abbreviated version of the TREX group. Earlier in the week my cousin from Kansas City popped in for a surprise visit whom I have not seen since I was 17. I had lunch with her Tuesday and funny enough found out she had done some running in the past also and was interested in getting into maybe a half marathon. That day, I had some business to take care of at work so I couldn’t make the group strength training, so I ran on my own. The night before I knew something was wrong, I started getting a sore throat. While me and my cousin were having lunch I could feel myself getting sicker but I thought it may have just been allergies.

Me and cuzzin Niki from K.C.
I ended up running latter that evening and put in 8 miles but I could tell that my respiration wasn’t right. The next morning I woke up and was sneezing all day at work. Ok, something is going on. My runner buds Michelle and Rebecca had a Wednesday run on the schedule and I had planned on running with them but at the last minute Michelle, who is a few months preggo texted us informing that she was having some dizziness, so she was out. Rebecca T. texted me afterward and I let her know I was good to go but I told her thought I was catching a cold. Rebecca’s marathon which was in Victoria, British Columbia Sunday quickly distanced from running with me as she did not want to catch whatever I had. I didn’t blame her. Come to find out the ragweed count was extremely high so I figured that was what was causing my problems, maybe not a cold. I left work and ran 4 miles without any problem. Then Thursday came around. I was miserable all day long. Coughing, chest congestion, but I powered my way through the day on DayQuil. Boy, you have a cold. These aren’t allergies. Trying to climb the stairs at work was a huge task. Whenever I get a cold it brings to me asthmatic-like symptoms if I try to do excercise. Friday I woke up felt much better and most all of the symptoms were gone by afternoon, just a little congested. So I felt I would be good to go Saturday morning. Only 18 miles right? Wrong. I got to the clubhouse was all ready to go. Got my 4:10 group behind me and only made it about 30 seconds into the run and felt like I had just run 4x100m sprints. Immediately stopped, told the group to keep going then called my coach who was up ahead with another group to drop back and lead my group. I probably could have made it maybe a few miles but it would have killed me just to do that. I could tell I had only about 70% of my lung capacity and that just won’t cut it for running. Throughout Saturday, I felt better by the hour and even got in a practice run that afternoon to make sure I was good to go for the Sunday run which was the Tyler Rose half marathon and I was assigned to pace the 2:10 half marathon group.  I actually knew I needed one more day to get well but sometimes I can be a little hardheaded.  Funny though, with these consecutive days of rest/easy runs I do strongly believe my hip flexor problem is history. Ironically the same thing happened to me a couple of years ago when I had a hip flexor issue that wouldn’t go away, I caught the flu and was out of running commission for a whole week. It healed up and I came back stronger than ever and completed my first ever half marathon a couple weeks later. I’m going to take a guess that this will make me even stronger.

     So bring on the Tyler Rose half marathon.  All I had been told is that it was hilly.  Every time that race is brought up, hilly is the first adjective you will always hear.  I figured it couldn't be any worse than what we get in training every week running around the neighborhoods of White Rock Lake and Lake Highlands.  The day before I made sure I was extra extra hydrated, due to just coming off of a cold I figured I probably lost more fluids than normal.

DRC Pace Crew
  I woke up at 3am and drove to the DRC clubhouse where I met up with runner bud Bri and hitched a ride to Tyler, Texas.  We were both sleepyheads but had some great conversation there and back and learned a lot about each other.  I kinda like these road marathon trips.  So we lined up at the start line as usual, the full marathoners left 30 minutes before the halfers.  I paced with fellow DRCer Sean, who is just as tall as I am short.  Sean played the whole pacing job perfectly. I had to slow him up a couple times, but he seemed to know just about how much longer the course would be so we had to pace a little bit faster than the calcluated 9:55 min mile to hit 2:10 chip time right at 13.1.  Still with a wee bit of uncertainty if I was well enough to run, I gutted it up and told myself I would give it all I had.  About a mile into the run I figured I was okay as I didn't fall over an die.  We were immediately on an upgrade on that first mile.  There was absolutely nothing flat about that whole course.  It was either up or down.   And that wasn't the worst of it. If the hills didn't get you, the humidity did.  How humid was it?  It was so humid you would have to take a shower to dry off. Haha.  So I knew that meant I had the great potential to cramp up because it never fails.  I was good until about mile 12 mile waterstop.  Felt the pulling coming in my calf, gave Sean the pace stick and told him I would stretch then catch up with him.  I took in some  extra hydration, stretched then sprinted off.  Got to the last stretch and I could see Sean not too far away, and knew I could catch him before I got to the finish line.  Got to the last turn about 100 feet before the finish line and both calves completely seized up.  Damn.  So I had to physically stop, stretch and pull out the knots because my cramps probably aren't like your cramps.  I get muscle spasms and you ain't goin nowhere when you get those.  Lasted all of about 2 minutes then I hobbled the rest of the way. 
Sean and I and probably a 1 foot difference
Asked Sean how we did, 2:09:59.  Bam.  Can't get much better than that.  This was the hardest course that I have ever run.  I would even say harder than the Cowtown Marathon which I can describe as "wavy".  The best way to describe the hills in Tyler, Texas is "arrogant". 

     Overall I had a good time and if asked to pace this one again, I would.  Not sure about the full marathon, but yeah I can handle the half.  Just need to build up these calves a little more and try not to get sick the week before.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

DRC 15K "The Loop". 48 days til Tulsa

Today's race served for me to start getting used to running at my marathon pace. I pretty much have determined that my marathon pace is somewhere around a  9:00 min/mile as I believe I am slightly faster than a 4:00 maratoner in perfect conditions. 

Race Start
It's still hard to tell because the weather still has not settled into fall and I really don't think it will for Dallas/Fort Worth until after thanksgiving.  The only thing I have to go by is the "Love the Half" which I raced two weeks ago where I "sub-two'ed" for a half marathon with just a little bit of forced effort in good weather conditions.  My plan today was to run that marathon pace for this race - a loop around White Rock Lake which is a 15K.  I had good company, Brad from my 4:10 maraton group who looked strong throughout the whole run.  Over the next few weeks I'm trying to script out the first quarter of my marathon, mainly trying to discipline myself from starting out too fast and keeping a good pace so not to burn myself out later in the race. I plan on doing at least one 6-7 mile run per week where I work on this.  Today went well. I planned on going out at a moderate pace and then settling in on a 9-ish pace or maybe slightly slower since the humidity was around 85%.  It went perfectly early-on numbers wise but it was so humid outside this morning that this may not have been the best time to practice.  And that's assuming that Tulsa will have perfect weather.  History has been good to Tulsa weather-wise in late November per some almanac research that I  done so we will keep our fingers and toes crossed. The first 3-4 miles of the run went fine and I think since the course is so flat, I had no issues. 

Me and Jesse the Great from NTX Runners
I was well fueled, well hydrated.  However, a little after half-way through as you can see by my splits below, I started struggling. And I found out everyone else had issues too.  It is just tough to run with weather conditions like that.  So I told Brad I may slow it down to the 4:10 groups marathon pace which is 9:27 min/mile if I start to struggle.  I never had to slow it down that far, but I did walk through the water stops to give myself a quick breather.  The other thing I knew my old nemesis the "Spillway Hillway" as I call it was coming.  The DRC 15K Loop was the first race I had ever done with the DRC back in 2011 and I remember well how bad-ass I thought I was until I reached that point.  Not really a "hill" as some runners will quickly point out, but it is a long upgrade on the south side of the lake that will slow you down and disrupt any good rhythm you have going.  So I when I got there I slowed up, didn't look at the pace on my Garmin but went by how I felt and was cautious to not blow myself up so I could finish strong for the race.  And by the looks at my spits it looks like I had to slow up quite a bit.  This is something I must practice because I hear the Route 66 Tulsa Marathon has its share of hills.  Everything went as I planned it and I finished as strong as I finished.  I plan on getting in at least one of these 'simulated' runs per week as the November 24th date creeps nearer. Overall it was a good race.  Funny thing is just after I finished, a strong cold front came thru and blew out all of the humidity and stickiness.  That weather transition took all of about 15 minutes.  Gotta love Texas.

My nemesis, the Spillway Hillway


Before and after:  Above before race, below after my 1:26 finish and a strong cold front.  There was rain on the way coming across the lake in this pic and much cooler weather.
1 - 9:09  
2 - 8:53 
3 - 8:52 
4 - 9:00 
5 - 9:02 
6 - 9:14 
7 - 9:21 
8 - 10:05 
9 - 8:54 
10 - 8:48

Total 1:26:36, 9.3 miles