Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mix and Match

Today was another "combo workout" where I did some long intervals up front followed by some speed work on the back end.  These sessions are new to me - I'm used to running the entire w/o at close to the same pace, so it takes some getting used to.  I can clearly see the value in the sessions - use the long intervals to get in some VO2Max type work (even if it is in lower volume) which also pre-fatigues the legs such that I can be forced to work hard on the speed portion even though I'm no longer able to go all that fast. (which hopefully decreases the chances of injury)

Today's deal:

Standard warm up:  Mile jog, stretching, 2x200m (the 200s are like long strides to get the legs ready to go)
3 x 800m @ 2:35 (2.5' rests)
6 x 200m @ 30-31 (60-second rests)

The 8s went off without a hitch, but one thing I learned today:  coming from a sprinter's background - I'm not that big a fan of combining 60-second rests w/ speed work!  (although this is exactly the type of training I need to process the lactate better to handle that 2nd lap during an 800m race - the reality is, I need to do a lot more of this, unfortunately)

I hit all the times, but the 5th one wasn't much fun, and I honestly didn't even want to go to the starting line for #6.  The fastest one was 30.0, the slowest was 31.4 and I averaged 30.8.  Not too bad, but these guys should get better when I get more of these short rest sessions under my belt.

A few easy days ahead - I have a session from hell scheduled for Saturday. 


Sun, 4/26:  5-miles @ 6:56  (should have been a long run, but the hip was tight so I cut it short)

Mon, 4/27:  Appointment w/ CMT - hip is getting better, everything else was much improved, and there are now no other issues.  No running (scheduled off day)

Tues, 4/28:  lifting (upper-B, abs) stretching, rolling. 
No running - took an extra day to rest the hip

Wed, 4/29:  Interval/Rep combo.  Standard w/u, 3 x 800m (2:34, 2:35, 2:35 - w/ 2.5' rests), 6 x 200m (30.8 average - 60-sec rests)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dustin' Off the Track Spikes

I was supposed to do some speed work on Tuesday, however the mild issues w/ the hip and quad caused us to call an audible and do a volume speed session instead.  (400s @ 68)

There are still a few sore spots here and there, so I needed to be careful, but I was feeling good enough to do my first real speed work of the season.  Today's workout was a few 400s at a quick pace w/ near full recoveries.  JT being as clever as she is, decided to 'extend' my warm up just a tad to make sure I wouldn't be able to really go out and hit it on the 400s.  What we didn't want to have happen was me overdoing it on the 4's and potentially straining a muscle somewhere, so the idea was to pre-fatigue the legs to keep this from happening.  This warm up 'extension' came in the form of a 5:15 mile that I was to do prior to the quarters.  "Yeah", I said, "that ought to do the trick".

The target for the session was as follows:

Mile warm up
2 x 200m
Mile @ 5:15
7-minute rest
3 x 400m @ 62-63 w/ near full recoveries (about 7-minutes)

**  I was to switch over from the flats to the spikes for the last two 400s

I nearly nailed the session.  Once again I didn't bother to time the 200s.  Just ramped the pace up - went at speed for about 100m and then ramped it back down.  I was a little lax early on w/ the mile (2:38 first half), but I closed w/ a 2:36 to come in at 5:14.  Clearly this was a little tougher than my usual warm up - let's not turn this into the standard deal, shall we!?

The first 400m came in at 62.3  I then switched over to my spikes for the first time in, well, way too long.  Ah the feeling of being back in spikes - you feel like a duck when walking in them, but boy they're nice to have when moving around an all-weather oval - 400 #2:  61.1  

After #2 I think the adrenaline was wearing off as I started to feel some of the soreness from before.  In addition, my legs were already getting tired.  (this should improve drastically after a few legit speed sessions)  I knew I had just run my fastest 400 for today, and all I wanted out of #3 was to go under 63.  The session was going pretty well, and if I could just hit a 62.x w/ all the work I'd put in thus far, I'd feel like it would be an excellent opening speed session.

After the first 200 I knew I was a little slow, but I was surprised to see that it was almost 32.  "Yikes, this is a problem I need to pick it up".  I was happy in that I did negative split this last guy, but I came in just over the wire in 63.1 - oh well, motivation for next time.  

Overall, a good session.  I got to experience some faster paces again in something longer than a 200m for the first time in a long time.  I also got back into the spikes which is always nice.  Lastly, I walked off the track no worse off physically than I walked on.  I think I've got about a week for the rest of this soreness to subside and then I should be back to 100%.  

Good luck to Rick in London tomorrow!!


Wed, 4/22:  Appointment w/ CMT - no running

Thurs, 4/23:  5-miles @ 7:02 (sore)
AM  Lifting (upper-B, abs) stretching, rolling

Fri, 4/24:  5-miles @ 6:53 (feeling a little better)
AM Lifting (upper-A, abs) stretching, rolling

Sat, 4/25:  3 x 400m 62-23, after standard w/u plus 5:15 mile to pre-fatigue the legs.
2x200m - untimed, Mile-5:14, 400s (62.3, 61.1, 63.1)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Bit Out of Reach

JT had a very tough workout slated for early this week and she wanted me to take an extra easy day beforehand which would have pushed the w/o to Wednesday.  Unfortunately, I have my CMT appt scheduled for Wednesday morning, and I was unable to change it.  With the quad perhaps still a mild concern, and the left hip flaring up I really didn't want to cancel, so that meant I'd have to do the session today.  

With that being the case, we switched up the session giving me one that would be less demanding:

2 x 200m:  31-32
5 x 400m:  68 (90-second rests)
4-minutes break
3 x 400m:  66 (90-second rests)
3-minutes break
2 x 200m: 31-32

Yeah, that's the 'easy' one - the other one was a real beast!  I knew looking at this, that I was probably in trouble.  Two weeks ago I did 8 x 400m at about 70 w/ 2-min rests.  Today I was cutting 2+ seconds/lap, cutting 30-seconds off the rest, AND it was 25+ degrees warmer today.  (not a great combination)  I decided to give it my best shot and see how it went.

The highlight of the session was the opening 200s.  Being careful to baby the quad, I ramped the pace up very slowly for the first 30 yards or so, got up to a halfway decent pace by the 100m mark, picked it up a little for the next 70 meters and then eased up towards the finish.  Nice and smooth, never pushed it - 28.6  Did the same on #2 - 28.6  I was fully expecting to see 30-31s w/ that effort, so to see 28s was a pleasant surprise.

However, the rest of the w/o didn't go quite so smoothly!  The good news was that the hip and quad gave me ZERO issues (probably all that digging into the hips w/ the tennis ball yesterday to alleviate the stiffness) But damn - my glutes were SORE!

The first couple quarters were fine, but the short rest started catching up to me after #3.  Times were:

69-67-68-68-69  (the last one was tough)

By now I was feeling pretty dead.  How the hell was I going to do a second set at 66 w/ the same 90-second rests??  Answer - I wasn't.  I took an extra minute between sets, but I was still feeling pretty awful.  I gave it a go, but after an opening 32-second 200 the wheels started to come off and I finished w/ a 68.  Now in fairness, I was not gunning these things - if I was going to do that, there'd have been no point in going away from the original workout.  This was supposed to be a more 'relaxed' session.  But no matter how you sliced it, I was pretty dead at this point.  I imagine I could have toughed it out and thew a 69 up there, gone right to the 3-minute rest (dropping the last rep) and done a couple of token 200s to close the session, but I got everything I wanted out of this one . . . . I was healthy!  Exhausted, sore, hot (it was about 85 degrees), but healthy.

Later I headed over to the gym to get in my primary leg lifting session for the week.  I'll have to talk to coach to see what she thinks about this session.  Clearly I wasn't able to do what she thought I could do.  Was it the soreness, the temperature, or just a slight overreach for my current capabilities?  Perhaps a combination of all of them.  For some reason, I'm not overly disappointed w/ the session - although I didn't hit the goal, I'm pretty sure I gave what I had out there today.  

The most important thing now is to have that appt w/ the CMT, make sure I'm healthy, get some rest, (a few VERY easy runs over the next couple of days) and get ready to really start hitting it.  I've got to start the serious speed work ASAP - the season is little more than 2-months away!!


Mon, 4/20:  Off  (stretching, rolling)

Tues, 4/21:  2x200 (28.6, 28.6), 5x400 (69,67,68,68,69), 5-minutes, 1x400 (68)  90-seconds between reps
PM - lifting on legs, stretching, rolling

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rotating Discomfort

The plan for the Sunday run was for 8-miles starting at a relaxed pace and ramping down to threshold effort for the last 2 miles.  A couple of things altered this plan:

#1 - I started later than I wanted due to the 90+ degree temps (even at 6:30 pm!).  This late start caused a time constraint so I wound up going faster than planned early in the run.

#2 - With the quad feeling close to 100%, I was hoping to be out of the woods on the potential injury front, however about 2-miles into the run, my left hip began to bother me.  It never got to the point that it became a legitimate problem, but it did keep me from really hitting it towards the end of the run.

The first mile was 6:47 (much faster than planned) and although I did settle into a high 6:50s pace running through the trails - this pace in that heat probably sapped some of my energy.  Towards the end the pace dropped to 6:20, then 6-flat, and eventually about 5:54 before easing up the last half mile.  

Overall the run was OK, but I'm now concerned about the hip.  I've had left quad stiffness plenty of times so I'm familiar w/ what that means for me, how to treat it, and that it really isn't a serious issue.  This hip thing though, I don't know.  It's never happened before, and although it doesn't seem serious, the fact that it's an unknown has me concerned.  Today is my off day, so I'm doing all the standard stuff - ice, ibuprofen, rolling, stretching, etc.  I'm not sure what the schedule is going to hold for this week as I need to see how this thing progresses.


Sun, 4/19:  7.5 miles @ 6:40

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Few 1000s

On the heels of Tuesday's difficult session, I awoke Wednesday to discover that my left quad was a little stiff.  Other than that, just a slight amount of soreness in the hamstrings and calves, which was expected.

I made sure to baby the quad for a few days - I have an appointment w/ the CMT next week, so I'll be on my own stretching and rolling until then.  

Saturday was long interval day.  Being that the Tuesday session was so tough, and I'm planning on running a bit of a progression on Sunday, coach decided to back off a little on the intervals.  Instead of a more typical 4 x 1000m at about 3:15, we were going to do 3 x 1000m at 3:15-3:20. (3-minute breaks between each)

We're in the middle of a mini-heat wave this week (about 92 degrees today), but I was able to hit the track before the temps got too hot (80 degrees)  I was planning on starting at about 3:20 and maybe ramping down slightly if I felt really good, but surprisingly I felt great from the onset.  

Times were 3:15 - 3:13 - 3:14, and although the HRs were a tad higher than usual (probably due to running in higher temps for the first time in a while), I didn't really feel it until the last 500m of the last interval.  Good short session.

I'm planning on getting in a few hard miles towards the end of my run in the trails today, and hopefully the quad doesn't stiffen up.  


Wed, 4/15:  5-miles @ 6:57  (quad felt stiff during the last 1/2 mile)

Thurs, 4/16:  5-miles @ 7:12 (quad OK)
AM  lifting (upper-B, abs) stretching, rolling

Fri, 4/17:  lifting (upper-A, abs) stretching, rolling

Sat, 4/18:  4-miles including 3 x 1000m (3:15, 3:13, 3:14)  3-min rests

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brutal Conditions

Wow, what a difficult day.  A long session in absolutely brutal conditions:  volume speed workout on the schedule:  2x200m, 2x300m, 2x400m, 600m, 2x400m, 2x300m, 2x200m, and this was run under a "high wind advisory" where we had gusts up over 35 mph.  That's some tough sledding.  

The idea for this w/o at this stage of the build is to get in some solid volume at a pace that's faster than the long intervals, but not really "fast".  Target paces:  200s - 33, 300s - 50, 400s - 68, 600 - 1:45 w/ a jog in between each rep equal in length to the previous repeat.  The way it should go is that I typically run the 200s a little quicker, and then just get into a nice rhythm throughout.  The paces are a little quick, but not to the point where I need to over exert myself and the total volume at pace winds up being the real value of the session.  

I'm comfortable running this type of workout in the heat, in the rain, whatever - but extremely high winds make this kind of session quite a challenge.  How bad was the wind?  On one repeat I started off in lane-1 . . . and later found myself in lane-3!  I'm supposed to be averaging about 17-seconds per 100m here - one 100m stretch took me 21-seconds.  (I came very close to coming to a complete stop for a second there)  And making things even more 'enjoyable' was the fact that the wind was coming at an angle such that I was dead against it on one of the turns, (and thus the wind was w/ me on the other turn), but on the straights, it felt like it was a good 80% against me on one - and nothing more than a cross wind on the other.  (i.e. 200m against the wind, 100m with the wind, and 100m w/ a cross wind)  Just awful.

I got a good sense of just how  tough the day would be after the 200s. The last time I ran timed 200s was during a warmup about a month ago.  There I ran two 200s in sub-28, but it felt like a nice relaxed effort.  The first 200 yesterday I figured I'd put in a good 30-31 effort, but was amazed to see a 33.  Next 200 - same thing.  I upped my effort a little more - still 33.  Wow, this was going to be a mess.

At this point I figured my times for the day were going to be out the window and perhaps I should just accept it, run the workout on "effort" and try to get into the rhythm I was looking for.  However, I'm pretty stubborn when it comes to repeats. . . .

300s - 48, 49
400s - 67, 67

I really had to work for these, but I still felt like I was in a good rhythm.

The 600 was laughable.  First 300 in 51 seconds, and then I went into the wind on the back straight - got blown into
lane 2, and that 100m took me 21-seconds!!  Then I had the turn dead into the wind, just awful.  I finished in a crappy 1:47.

After the 600, the tone of the workout totally changed.  It was no longer going to be a "get into the flow" kind of thing.  I had almost half the workout to go, and I was tired of getting blown all over the place.  I was pissed (in a good way if there's such a thing) and I started working harder to cut through the wind.   

400s - 67, 66 (the 66 felt like a 61-62 effort)
300s - 48, 47 (I hit that 2nd 300 pretty hard)
200s - 29

As I got to the start of the 2nd 200 my left calf started to cramp a bit.  I figured I only had one more 200 left and I wanted to finish, so I gave it a go.  After about 140m I felt the cramp coming on so I eased up.  No injury, no big deal - my body was just telling me it had had enough for one day.  

The totals were:

33-33, 48-49, 67-67, 1:47, 67-66, 48-47, 29-x

But the effort required to get those times was probably at least 2-3 seconds/400 more than that.  Very challenging day.  I'll have to wait and see how I feel over the next day or two before we nail down the specifics of the Fri/Sat session. 

Best of luck to you Boston guys during your final prep before the big show!


Mon, 4/13:  5-miles @ 6:57 pace

Tues, 4/14:  7-miles including 2x200, 2x300, 2x400, 600, 2x400, 2x300, 2x200 (times above)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Long Interval Session

Long intervals on tap Saturday.  The session was 1200m-800m-800m-800m, but coach threw in a bit of a wrinkle.  Typically my rest period after a 1200m is 3.5-minutes, and after an 800m it's 2.5-minutes.  Well, for this workout we kept the standard rest after the 12, but between the 8's I'd be getting a slightly longer, 3-minute rest.  The catch?  We were going to pick up the pace a bit. 

Target was 77-seconds/400m on the 1200 (3:51) and 76-seconds/400m on the 8s (2:32) 
(normally its about 3:55 and 2:35)

I really like having a 1200m to start these sessions - being 3-laps, it forces me to keep my concentration and run fairly even 400m splits (as opposed to going out hard and then having to throttle back)  And once I'm locked into the pace, I can then run the 800s with more even lap times.  Staying disciplined on these guys is still a work in progress, but I'm getting better - and having the 1200m to start certainly helps.

I did do my 2 x 200m as part of the warm, but I didn't time them.  

Seventy five on the first lap of the 1200, (not too far off) and I then settled into the pace and hit two 77s finishing up in 3:49.  Nice to hit my first sub-3:50 1200m in a LI session, but more than that - I wasn't gassed at the finish.  I felt fine, and that was a nice confidence booster.

I did the first 800m in 2:31, and then came back w/ another 2:31 on #2.  The session was going very well, but I could tell that I was getting close to the edge.  (even w/ the extra 30-seconds of rest between the 8s, the drop from 2:35 to 2:31 was taking a toll - amazing how a few seconds can make that much difference)  

On the last 800 I hit the first lap on target in 75, but the wheels started coming off soon after that.  If I were to be 100% honest w/ myself, I could have sucked it up and shaved a couple seconds off lap #2, but I was already so pleased w/ the session that I gave myself a bit of a pass - 2:35.  

Overall I was happy w/ the workout, but going forward I'd like to be a little tougher at the end.

With Easter it wasn't really possible to get the typical long run in on  Sunday - I'm going to run on Monday instead (my normal off day) and then get back to my standard schedule starting Tuesday.


Sat, 4/11:  4-miles including 1200m, 3 x 800m:  (3:49, 2:31, 2:31, 2:35)

Sun, 4/12:  Off

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rob De Castella

The best thing about having a running blog is the information and exchange of ideas you get w/ the other runners.  In the comments section of my last post, Ewen mentioned a specific workout that Rob De Castella used to do.  This led me to look into his career and training methods.  

I came across the following link which specifically details his typical training week:

It says here that he used the same routine essentially year round and only modified it leading up to races.  After reviewing his typical week, I could see why it was so successful and also perhaps why it needed little variation.  Each week consisted of two long days (Wed, Sun) for endurance, a hill repeat session for strength/power in the legs, a 5k race pace session for speed, two easy days, and one hard effort over hilly terrain.  He also ran a short easy run either every morning or evening which brought his weekly mileage total up to about 130.

What immediately struck me looking over this training plan was, "damn, this routine would be absolutely fantastic as my base training."  Of course I'd have to scale down the paces and mileage to suit me, but the general framework would give me everything I'd need as part of my base.  Here's how it would look for me:

Mon:  Easy or Off
Tues:  Hill Repeats (perhaps a short easy run in the morning as well)
Wed:  Moderately long single (for me, about 8-miles)
Thurs:  5k pace session (either cruise intervals or De Castella's 400m repeat session w/ a float)
Fri:  Easy
Sat:  Hard Effort (for me, either a strong steady effort in the trails, or a 4-7 mile Tempo Run)
Sun:  Long (for me, 11-14 miles)

I'd of course also be adding some work w/ weights which is always part of my training.  

This would give me everything I'd need to prepare for my intense middle distance training: the cruise intervals, hill repeats, and long run which have always been base staples for me, the tempo run that I've been trying to work into my base program for a while, a second single in the 8-mile range to help w/ my endurance, and the steady run in the trails that has worked well for me thus far.  With this program, I'd need to follow De Castella's lead in making sure the long runs were run at an easy pace (6:15 for him, about 7:15 for me)  My weekly mileage here would come out to somewhere between 50 and 60 which I should be ready for by the Fall when it's time to start the base training again.

Thanks again to Ewen, your info is always much appreciated.

Being Easter week, my training schedule is a little off.  I was hoping to get the long intervals in on Friday, but it's going to be today instead. 


Wed, 4/8:  5-miles (6:49)
PM - lifting (light legs, core) stretching, rolling

Thurs, 4/9:  5-miles (7:10)

Fri, 4/10:  5-miles (7:00)
AM - lifting (upper-A, abs) stretching, rolling

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On to the Tough Stuff

Well, the 5k race was the official end to my base phase.  Thanks to all for the kind words in the comments section - very much appreciated!!  Now it's time to start gearing up for the season.  Dropping my 5k time down 40-seconds compared to the winter build makes me feel as though I've made some solid progress on the endurance front. (officially I knocked off 50-seconds, but I think the first course was a little long)  

Roughly, the way this is going to go is as follows:

April - volume speed work, long intervals, easy long run  (per week)
May - higher intensity speed work/anaerobic work, lower volume long intervals, quicker and shorter long run
June - very high intensity speed/anaerobic work (twice per week), up-tempo longish run (maybe 8-miles)

Essentially I start w/ higher volume, lower intensity speed work and as we move along, the volume will decrease some as the intensity ratchets way up.  The next 10-11 weeks are critical, and I have to be mentally ready to handle the challenges I'll face week in and week out.  As coach described it, "You'll feel OK for the first couple of weeks.  But soon the fatigue will build up and you'll feel pretty horrible almost every day for a good 7-8 weeks."  Ah, gotta love middle distance training. . . . 

Today marked day #1 of the new phase.  On tap 8 x 400m (was going to be 10, but JT cut me some slack due to some residual soreness on Sunday from Saturday's race)  Target was to start at about 74-seconds and then quickly get down to 72 for the bulk of the reps.  In between I would be jogging a 200m.

As luck would have it, we got some rain today so this track session would be a bit of a slosher.  I skipped the 2 x 200m as part of the warm up due to it being cold as well as wet.  (why chance a strained whatever in these crappy conditions)  This usually makes the first rep or two a little sluggish and that was the case today.  I opened w/ a 74, and rep #2 also clocked in at 74.

By number three I was hoping I'd start to get into the flow a little better and I was happy to see a 3rd rep of 70.  A little fast, but at least the sluggishness was gone.  I figured I'd dial it in to 72 on the next rep, but it was fast again - 70.  I was feeling pretty good, so I just went w/ the flow - the last four were:  70-70-69-67.  (I know JT's going to ding me for the last one.  She said "no 69s" for this workout.  She might let one 69 slide, but a 67 - nope, I'm gonna get yelled at)

What was nice here was that I felt I could do a few more w/ no issue.  This is a complete 180 from the long interval sessions where I'm almost always praying for the darn thing to be over. . . . after interval #2.  Well, I've got a LIH (Long Interval from Hell) session scheduled for Fri/Sat - so we'll see how that one goes.  So far the change in phases is very refreshing - but that could just have been the rain!


Sun, 4/5:  4-miles recovery, 7:15 pace

Mon, 4/6:  lifting (upper-B, abs) stretching, rolling

Tues, 4-miles including, 8 x 400m (74, 74, 70, 70, 70, 70, 69, 67)  200m jog rests

Saturday, April 4, 2009

5k Race Report

Well, the "Big Bunny Fun Run" certainly lived up to its name.  There was a guy dressed up in a 'Big Bunny' costume, we ran of course, and the event turned out to be a lot of fun.  

My 15 year old son and I were going to be running and my wife was doing the 2.5k walk w/ a friend.  We arrived about an hour early, and in order to rectify one of the mistakes I made in my first race, we immediately picked up a course map and looked it over.  The course started off w/ a long straight away, made a left turn and then after another turn, another good straightaway followed leading up to a major street (that would be blocked off during the race)  We also noticed that although the course was more or less a loop, the final portion came back to that main street and followed the exact same path back to the finish.  I decided that it would be a good idea to run our warm up out to this main street, marking the mileage at a few points so when we were heading for home, we would know our exact position in relation to the finish.  (and as it turned out, having this info played a role in the finish of the race)

The initial straight away was about 0.17 miles, and the total distance to the main street was almost exactly a half mile.  We jogged to this point and then returned for a nice mile warm up.  After some stretching and a few strides (where I didn't feel all that great) I was ready to go.  

One thing I noticed before the start was that Mr. Superman (the 45 year old 15:50 guy) was surprisingly absent.  Well, if that was the case - this thing might be wide open.  As the name suggests, it's a "Fun Run" w/ an Easter theme - lots of 'running families', several HS kids, parents who are avid runners, etc.  (i.e. - no college guys).  With the perennial winner not here this year, no one had any idea what sort of time you'd need to win this thing.  

My son, Michael is currently running track where as a sophomore he has twice run 5:00-flat miles (one was literally computer timed at 5:00.05 - damn that's close!)  His friend Jesse (the top sophomore X-country runner in his HS, but a bit out of shape at the moment) would be another one to watch.  At the starting line, I began to look over the rest of the competition.  A couple guys certainly looked the part - one guy had these super tight racing shorts and this wacko open back type top.  You better be pretty damn good if you're gonna race in that, I figured - so I penciled him in as one to watch out for.  (he turned out to be a poser BTW)  A few other guys looked pretty good as well.  Should be interesting.

Another thing I found interesting about this race - as the announcers always say, "slower runners please start more towards the back", but typically no one ever goes along.  In this race, a couple guys who I know run low to mid 18's lined up a good 6-8 feet from the starting line BEFORE anyone came in in front of them.  Wow - low 18 guys voluntarily starting in the 3rd row?  Pretty cool.  I got up in front w/ my son to the left of me, and his friend Jesse to the right.  The horn sounded and we were off.

First thing I noticed was that the crappy feeling I had during the strides was nowhere to be found.  Second thing I noticed was that although I felt totally comfortable and relaxed, I was in front.  I took a quick peak back to see Jesse right behind me.  As we made the turn after the long straightaway (about 300 yards in) I took a look down at my pace thus far:  4:44, gonna need to reign that in.  About 1/3 of a mile in, my son Michael joined us, and it was me, Jesse and Michael 1-2-3.  Jesse didn't have a watch, so I told him I'd call out our splits.  After about 3/4 of a mile I asked them to take a look back to see if anyone else was close.  "There's two guys back there" came the reply.  A short time later I called out the mile-1 split (course was not marked), 5:25 - and at this point I clearly remember saying to myself, "damn, I feel fantastic".  

About a quarter mile later, Jesse began falling off and I thought Michael did as well as I felt like I was alone.  Just me and the truck in front it seemed.  Where this presented a problem (if you can call it that) was that it was difficult to maintain pace.  I'd look down at the watch to see a pace of 5:40 and say, "damn pick it up - don't lose focus" - and then I'd promptly take it back to about 5:32 w/ no problem.  I found it hard to press-press-press w/ no one in front of me.  

As I got close to the 2-mile mark, we had a few zig-zag turns which allowed me to more easily take a look behind.  Somebody else was closing in on me and now in 2nd place.  I went through mile #2 in 5:39.  I still felt OK, but no longer "fantastic".  This guy continued to gain ground, and with slightly less than a mile to go, he was right behind me.  I figured he might pass, but he didn't.  I soon realized the guy was just drafting.  

As we headed for home I could feel a 3rd person now in the mix, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was Michael.  I called out, "good job Michael, stay with it".  

Now, w/ this guy immediately behind me for a few minutes I was able to pick up a few things:  #1 - his breathing was better than mine - not good.  #2 - he was drafting pretty well, so I took that to mean he probably had a fair amount of experience - not good.  #3 - he didn't look like one of those wispy rail-thin distance runners  (i.e - this guy looked like an athlete who probably had some solid finishing speed) - not good, and #4 - he was likely younger than me - again, not good.  

At this point, I kept looking for that marker of the main street to know when we had exactly a half mile left - I'd just bide my time until then.  When we got to the 1/2 mile to go point I decided to pick up the pace to see if I could separate myself from him.  No luck, he picked it up and stayed right w/ me.  As I suspected from his better breathing pattern - he was probably a better endurance guy than me.  This wasn't going to work.  

On to plan-B.  Slow down.  Sure this would hurt my finishing time, but at this point I was more concerned w/ racing and trying to win than worry about my time.  I figured that he was probably flat out better than me, and my only shot was to slow down, lull the guy into a false sense of security, conserve my strength, and simply out kick him at the end.  I had to think that younger or not, good athlete or not, he was not faster than me.  Of course the potential problem w/ this plan was that faster or not - I simply might not have enough left in the tank to hold him off.  

I could see the final turn approaching - after that it's about 300-320 yards to the finish.  I was still in front, but he was right there.  I hadn't checked my time or pace in almost a mile.  

As we rounded the corner, my plan was to hug the inside of the turn forcing him out wide and dropping the hammer at the same time.  I figured the change of direction plus the huge increase in pace would get me some separation and hopefully demoralize him to the point to where he might not even bother giving chase.  

I executed what I wanted perfectly - as I later discovered looking at the Garmin data I almost immediately dropped my pace from 5:30 to 4:10!  Great plan - but unfortunately, executed at the wrong time.  After about 60 yards or so I just didn't have enough to maintain it and I could feel myself slowing, and what was a substantial separation for a brief moment began to close.  He had clearly started a solid kick, and although he couldn't match the speed, his staying power was much better than mine.  About 180 yards to go and he pulled right alongside me.  By this time I had regrouped enough to send off surge #2 to go back in front.  

It was obvious to me now that I had made a tactical error.  I would have been better off simply maintaining pace - having HIM make the move (after all, I was leading) and if he had waited until there were 150 yards left or less - he would have been toast.  But as they say, the genie was out of the bottle now.

This second surge wasn't as fast and didn't last as long.  With 70-80 yards or so to go he was right alongside me again.  I tried a 3rd surge that again briefly put me out in front, but by now I was running out of gas.  With about 20 yards to go he took the lead for the first time all race - but unfortunately for me, those were the 20 yards that mattered - he edged me by 1-second.  

At the end of the chute w/ us both gasping for breath I congratulated him on the win.  The first words out of his mouth were, "thank you - you pulled me along.  I couldn't have done that w/o you".  Next thing he said was, "I'm sorry - I drafted you the whole way, that was unfair - I should have taken the lead for some of the time"  I said, "hey, don't sweat it, you ran a good race and did what you needed to do to win".  

I discovered later that Calvin was a triathlete, so as I suspected a good all around athlete, and clearly he had much more endurance than I did.  He was just the better guy today, perhaps next year I'll be in better shape and we'll be able to do it again.  Somewhere along the way I realized I had forgotten to stop my watch, so I had no idea what my time was at that moment.  

Michael wound up coming in next in 3rd place overall!!  He ran a great race, especially considering he had just run a 1-mile race the day before.  As we discovered later, he absolutely buried the other kids in the 13-15 age group w/ a time of 17:25!

When the awards were announced I finally got my time - 17:14 and first master.  (the winner was 17:13)

I'll probably post some more thoughts on this race later (geez, this is long enough, no?)  Overall a lot of fun and a good race.  Sure, I'd like to have won, but when one guy is so close to you in ability, it's tough to go wire to wire - and I still think I would have had I been a little more experienced and executed my kick at the right time  (should have waited until the last 100 or so yards - the more time you give the guy w/ better endurance to beat you, the more likely it is he will beat you)  But live and learn I guess.  I was much happier w/ my race and effort this time - I think just a little lack of experience did me in.    

I probably could have shaved a few seconds off my time had the race not turned tactical over the last 1/2 mile - but hey, it's a race after all.  If you need to take a hit on time to execute the tactic that you think will give you the best chance to win, that's what racing's all about I guess.  Bottom line - it was fun, and we had a really good time.

Friday, April 3, 2009

5k on Tap

Similar to the last build, I will be capping off my base training w/ a 5k run.  It just so happens that this time every year there is a pre-Easter 5k "fun run" in town.  This "Big Bunny Fun Run" as it's called, is a nice little event - they also have a walk, a 1k run for the little kids, and a large raffle afterwards where they give away a huge number of prizes.  

Things worked out perfectly here where I was scheduled for a down week, so I took it easy the past few days (the long interval session on Tuesday was the only hard running this week), and I'll be doing the 5k tomorrow!

We have a local masters guy who wins this thing every year.  I believe he's about 45 years old and runs a 15:50.  He's a big time marathoner and ultra runner and has probably banked a good 80 thousand more miles than I have.  (I'm thinking something like 82,000 vs 2,000 - but hey, doesn't that mean I should have fresher legs!?)  Clearly I won't be going out w/ him, but if possible I'll try to keep him in sight for a while.  

I have no idea how the race will go, what kind of competition there will be, etc.  I just plan on going out there and putting in a good effort.  About six months ago I ran my first 5k in 18:03.  Obviously, I'll be looking to improve on that time.  

I'll let you know how it goes.


Wed, 4/1:  5-miles @ 7:07 pace

Thurs, 4/2:  Off

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Making the Adjustments

Last post (which garnered several great comments) covered a few different topics that caused me to re-think some aspects of my training that would hopefully lead to me hitting my workouts better.

#1.  Cutting back the pace of my daily runs.  (days between workouts)
#2.  Keeping an eye on the pace of my warm up 200s to ensure they don't take anything away from the subsequent session.
3.  Getting more rest overall, and making sure I take my recovery drink post workout.

In short - doing several little things that would add up to me being fully rested and ready to give my best effort during the hard sessions.

Over the past several days, I started to  implement these ideas and the early returns are showing some positive results.

For starters, I cut back the pace of my Sunday 10-miler to 7:15.  Typically these runs are done between 6:45 and 6:55 and this 20+ second/mile difference made for a very easy run.  Second, I paid more attention to getting my rest over the past several days, and I also added some little things like getting back on the multi-vitamins, making sure I'm properly hydrated, and taking the recovery drink post workout.  

This led up to the Tuesday long interval session where the plan was 1200m-1200m-800m.  After my mile warm up, I made the decision to not time the 200s and just get in a good solid stride effort getting me ready for the intervals.  Target pace for the 1200s was about 3:55, and about 2:35 for the 800m.  

The workout went off without a hitch:  first 1200m - 3:55, 2nd 1200m - 3:52, and the 800m came in on target at 2:35.  I was pretty gassed afterwards and I believe some of that is due to the fact that I haven't done any short fast intervals yet (they're starting up next week, although they'll be in high volume at first and thus slightly slower than usual)  I find when I'm hitting the fast intervals once a week I do better on these longer ones, but right now we're trying to build upon the distance and threshold work to add some strength before getting into the speed.

Overall a good solid workout.  Unlike some of the previous ones, I didn't cut it short, didn't adjust any of the reps, etc.  I hit the workout exactly the way we drew it up.  That doesn't sound like much, but the way it's been going lately I needed to hit one of these before the confidence started fading.  Doing two 1200s at that pace was a big deal for me - there's a huge difference between 800m and 1200m on these intervals, and usually if there's only one that's longer than 800 I can kind of gear up mentally for that one rep - but when you've got two of them it forces you to be more disciplined on the first one, and concentrate more on the 2nd one, making for a challenging day.  I was very pleased to not only come through it w/ the struggles I've been having, but rep #2 was actually faster than rep #1.  Something to build on mentally.

The base period is now almost over.  I'll be transitioning into true "training mode" starting next week, so the importance of sticking w/ the 3-points above is going to be critical if I'm to have success this season.


Sun, 3/29:  10-miles @ 7:15

Mon, 3/30:  lifting (upper-A, abs) stretching, rolling

Tues, 3/31:  4-miles including 2 x 1200m, 800m intervals (3:55, 3:52, 2:35)