Friday, October 10, 2014

The Race That Went South...Twice

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (Marathon #9 for me) is a point to point race.   It starts at Grafton High School and proceeds south to Veteran's lakefront park.   It's a fast race which usually negates the prevailing west wind.  Unfortunately, my actual running went south as well and led to a disappointing day.

I can't put my finger on any one thing the destroyed the race.  My parents decided to join us for the trip. The day before the race was very relaxing.   I got plenty of sleep the night before and we grabbed lunch about 2pm at AJ Bombers which is known for it's peanut delivery system.   A quick stop at the very small expo to get my bib and back to the hotel for some rest before dinner.   We found a fantastic restaurant before last year's race. If you are into homemade Italian everything while in Milwaukee, go to Mimma's CafĂ©.

I slept probably better than most nights before a race.   Usually, I'm waking every hour but not this night.  I got up about 4:45 and had brought my own breakfast.  Oatmeal and a half bagel w/peanut butter.  Standard issue marathon runner race breakfast.   I sipped on some Hammer Perpetuem.   The only thing missing was coffee.  But the Hyatt had promised to open their shop up at 5:30 for some Starbucks.   I refuse to drink in-room coffee.  Not because I'm a snob and I actually prefer non-corporate coffee. but who only knows what bacteria grows inside of the in-room makers and the coffee just plain tastes bad.   I got to the lobby to catch the bus to the start at the high school at 5:45 only to find there was ZERO coffee to be had anywhere in the lobby.  Even Holiday Inn's have some sort of coffee free in all of their lobbies.  Hyatt fail! (you could have sold overpriced coffee and breakfast and runners would have gladly paid it).   Luckily there was a coffee shop open across the street from the hotel and I grabbed some to go before boarding the bus.   I sipped on some PowerAde while at the school to top off any hydration deficit.  I really don't think I drank all that much but the race proved otherwise.

It was cold (36F) but the sun was out so I wore some layers and my Brooks gloves.    My goal was to go out at my PR pace of 3:27:00 and negative split the race.  My "A" goal would have been 3:25:00.  At 7:30 we were off.   I had no problem hitting pace early as the first two miles were downhill.  I felt good but my stomach felt bloated and slightly upset.  It took two port-a-potty stops to get rid of the excess liquid at Miles 4 and 12.    I brought four Hammer Gels but while rearranging them in my back pockets I dropped one and did not want to stop to get it for fear of being trampled to death. 

I knew early that it wasn't going to be my day with some stomach issues and legs felt beat up way too early.   I took my first gel at Mile 6 1/2.   The second gel I only took about half of it at Mile 12 1/2 because my stomach was feeling weird.   I tried to keep on pace thinking it would all pass eventually and I would be back to normal.  After Mile 12 when I took the second gel I actually gagged because I almost hurled.  Sometimes niggles, pain or discomfort do magically go away for no apparent reason during a run.  But they never did.  About Mile 11 I felt my adductor muscles sore.  During training they would get this way after a hard week or a really long run.  It never affected my running really.  Taper did not heal it I guess.  I saw my family at Mile 15 and even they said I looked like I wasn't having much fun.   I kept plugging away telling myself I might right the ship.   I was on pace early but it just kept slipping away.  I just refused to walk and let this become a complete disaster.

The cold hard numbers:
1 - 7:45
2 - 7:44.8
3 - 7:57:2
4 - 8:13:8 First stop
5 - 7:41.3
6 - 8:01.6
7 - 7:59.4  Expected finish 3:27:19
8 - 7:50.8
9 - 7:57.2
10 - 7:56.8 Not a good sign.   Fatigue in my inner thighs.
11 - 7:58.3
12 - 8:20.1 Second bathroom stop
13 - 8:04.6  Uh oh, it's slipping.
13.1  - Expected Fish time 3:29:11
14 - 7:59.1
15 - 7:58.6
16 - 8:10.2   The wheels starting to come off.
17 - 8:15.3
18 - 8:28.9   C'mon fight this thing.
19 - 8:26
20 - 8:36.5 Can only break 3:30 if I finish at 8:00 pace the rest of the way
21 - 8:14.7  Well so much for 8 minute pace the rest of the way.
22 - 9:00.7  Yep, the wheels are off.
23 - 9:21.7   What the...
24 - 8:59.4   Probably just quicker because I was angry at the last mile
25 - 9:21.5   No longer angry I guess
26 - 8:59.1   Final time 3:37:07  

In last year's race, my slowest mile was the last and even then I only slowed to 8:20.   So what was my major malfunction?  Too much food pre-race?  Too much liquid?  It feels like I didn't sweat much in this cool weather. Overtraining or sore adductors not resolved by taper?  Bad nutrition during training?   I've run three faster races on less training!  Sometimes it's as simple as it's just not your day.   Time to move on and schedule a shorter race within the next 30 days.  At least I have Boston for redemption.

"At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill" - Unknown quote

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon Countdown

So my fall marathon in now less than 24 hours away.  I stopped by my running store on Thursday to replace the sunglasses that got stepped on accidentally. As usual, the owners ask what I was training for and they go out of their way to make customers happy.  I snagged a new pair of Tifosi Saxons.  When I checked out they gave me some Shot Blocks on the house and Pom told me I look a little bit like Dick Beardsley?!  I don't see it but I hope I run like him in three days. After all his PR is 2:08 something.  Thanks for the ego boost.

Where does the time go?  Work, work travel, coaching flag football, etc have all conspired against me writing my blog.   Anyways....I am in full taper for Milwaukee.   I have averaged 64 miles over the last 8 weeks.   I was using Pfitz 18/70, the same plan from my PR.   My training has been pretty solid except missing a day here or there for non-injury reasons.  I am hoping the second year of Pfitz 18/70 will give me some benefits and make me stronger.

Here is the thing though, I have ZERO races to gauge my fitness.  My last race was a trail half on tired legs at the end of July (1:41:0) so I can't use that. Or a 4m race on 7/4 at 27:56?  Or a 5k race on 6/14 at 21:04? Or a 10m race on 4/10 at 1:12:39?   I'm flying blind so I only have to point to last year's training and race.  My longest MP run on 9/6 was 18m w/ 15 at MP. A really good run, buoyed by the cooler temps.   Average was 7:53 pace but most of it was at 7:51.   The weather will be cold (high 40's F and dry) so there should be no excuses there.   The course runs north to south and the predicted wind will be out of the west.

I did my final 5m run yesterday before Sunday's race.  I make it a point never to run the day before a full because my legs feel much fresher.   My training paces have been equivalent to last year.  My hope is to PR.   My goal is to run between 7:49 (3:25:00) and 7:53 pace (my PR).   The weather will be cool the entire way with a an 11:00 AM finish at 49F.

I would love to hear your wild guesses on my time tomorrow.

In other confidence boosting news, I am officially accepted into the 2015 Boston Marathon!   I got my confirmation a couple of weeks ago.  It will be my first after qualifying last year in Milwaukee.   I have have been chasing the Super Bowl of marathon racing since 2009 and it's been a long term goal of mine.  I don't think I'll run Boston in 2016 but I would love to qualify again. 

Lastly, a little bit of motivation.   Yes, I'm a sap and running geek but this trailer has always been my pre-game pep talk.   

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Marathon Training Doldrums

Back from vacation and an incredibly busy week at work playing catch up.   I used vacation as a cutback week and only put in 31m.  I did the same last year, however, this year I added a trail half marathon.  The Bear Cupboard Run which benefits the local food pantry.   The Bearskin Trail was not technical by any means but the surface was packed sand/gravel.   Final time was 1:41 flat. I did get 2nd in AG but feel iffy about my time.   I do not run many trails so not sure how the surface impacted my time.  I feel indifferent about my pace since I do not know if this was due to fatigue (7 mi previous day), surface or something else. I did get 2nd in my AG and the announcer said the course might have been 0.5 km long?? Mile 9 might have been the culprit since I did not walk or stop.
I did not get the Garmin synced until midway in Mile 1 so I couldn't verify that and there was many tress that could have blocked the signal.

Mile paces:  7:45, 7:43, 7:25, 7:35, 7:31, 7:45, 7:43, 7:30, 8:38, 7:56, 7:23, 7:41, 7:42

Age Group award compared to my keyboard

I'm so tired and feel beat up on every run after 5m since then. Paces have fallen off in the second half of my runs with paces near 9:20.   I realize it takes about 2 weeks to fully recover.  I do tend to overdo it on vacation with fishing etc also.  

It's relaxing but I tend to overdo it

A look at my easy pace runs from last year show roughly a 8:58-9:00 so I don't think there is any reason for concern.  I may move my 3rd 20m for this cycle to Monday and use tomorrow as a rest day.  Some additional sleep wouldn't hurt either.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Elmhurst 4 on the 4th

This is probably one of the fastest competitor fields in all of Chicago.   If there is a race that attracts more speed, I haven't done it. And you need to tell me about it.  It probably has to do with the fact that there aren't many other races on the 4th of July and this is a CARA Race Circuit race.   The streets swarm with club runners doing their warm-ups.  My own included....the mighty LFLB team!

I consider doing this race a major accomplishment considering my wife had emergency eye surgery Thursday.   It freaked me out.  She'll be fine and needless to say she is unable to run for a while.  My son was racing and agreed to run with my sister-in-law instead of my wife.   I know she talked him into it so I could race.  Otherwise, I would have been happy to "race" with him.

I've run this course seven consecutive years and I can't help thinking I should be faster.  McMillan assumes 27:23 on a flat course based on my recent 5k.  I do not taper for it (see the training page). Not sure if it has been fatigue from high miles in my marathon build-up or running the underpass hill twice in the race.   

Mile 1 is a slight downhill at the start and then flat thereafter.   I managed to not do anything stupid and run too fast at the start.  It actually felt easy and the first split was 7:00 flat.   Mile 2 is under the railroad tracks and up the first hill.  My goal every year is to get to the top of the hill before the leaders are heading back the other way.  I just barely made it this year.   My second mile was 6:54.

Mile 3 is always a bit slower for me.   I think it's the hairpin turnaround and the second uphill portion back under the railroad tracks. I saw my son heading toward Mile 2 at this point and yelled to him.  Mile 3 was 7:06   I still had gas in the tank but the last portion is a steady uphill.  Halfway up the hill my gag reflex kicked in.   I slowed slightly and managed to fight off the "reversal of fortune".  Last mile was 6:52.   I PR'd the race by 4 seconds and finished in 27:56.  I still think I could race faster.

I managed 16th in my AG and if I was 3 seconds faster I would have placed 13th.  The winner in the  group ran 5:54 miles!   Yeah he was in no danger of me passing him....ever.  One of the LFLB members posted pictures of everyone of our racers they could see so that was cool.  Thanks for the pic.

Fighting off the urge to hurl in the home stretch

I walked back along the course until I found my son at about 2 1/2 miles.  A third grader who likes to negotiate when we run and walk.  I'm fine it and I never push him.  Whatever he wants to do is OK with me.  Dad, lets walk.  Dad, lets slow down.  Dad, my feet hurt.  We ran/walked to the finish together and he did manage to sprint across the finish line.    I was proud he did this race at all considering his age.  All of the kids his age were doing the 1k!

I'm going out of town next week and will use it as a cutback week. However, I will actually race my first half this year.  It is a trail race on crushed gravel so we'll see how I do.  I do not think sub 1:35 is in the cards for this one but I should be rested from the cutback.   My only other 13.1 races have been as a pacer this year.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Ghost and a Race

I really enjoy my relationship with Brooks and being one of their Fanatics.  According to Merriam-Webster the definition is as follows:  marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion.   Excessive enthusiasm...check.   Intense devotion...check.   Uncritical devotion is the part that does not apply to me.   If something does not work for me or would hinder my running in any way I would not keep purchasing it.   So as Fed Ex delivered this care package to my door the other day, I was convinced it would lead me to another successful marathon season.
Brooks Ghost 7
The Ghost 6 was Runner's World Editor's Choice winner.  The Ghost 7 is a perfect neutral shoe for me.  Enough support to accompany my higher miles and the ability to respond to faster session.  The main difference between the Ghost 6 and 7?  It is smoother and lighter. The Ghost 7 weighs in at 10.4 ounces (0.3 less than the Ghost 6).  Bigger lugs in the forefoot make the Ghost feel more responsive.

The Elmhurst 4 on the 4th takes place tomorrow and I'll be running it for the seventh consecutive year.   As usual, I needed to find a way to fit this into my marathon training.  I didn't need to do much as I had a 5 mile recovery today and am scheduled for 12 tomorrow.   So I simply switched the 4 mile tempo that I was supposed to do on Monday to Friday and race it instead.   Between warm-up and cool down, I'll probably run another 6 miles later in the day.   My goal tomorrow is simple.   Run faster than 7 minute pace and take down my PR of 28:00 flat.  I have a tendency to run the first half mile too fast so we'll see if I can control it.  I've also underperformed at this race.   Not sure if it has been fatigue from high miles, running the underpass hill twice in the race or hot weather.  The weather is fully cooperating this year and my recent 5k all show it shouldn't be a problem.   McMillan's calculator says it should not be problem based on my 5k time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Training Page is Active

After a whole year I decided to post my training miles on the page that was previously blank.   Right now I am only using the Runner's World Classic Log calendar page.    However, for the stat geeks I will be improving it so you can see my pace times.   Watch this space.

That is all...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Time to Get Serious

Marathon training is officially underway.   I expect my running will continue to be focused until April 2015 before I exhale.  It's one of the reasons why I decided to skip a spring marathon this year.  The Pfitz 18/70 plan calls for 57m this week.  Additional miles next week.   Like I said, time to get serious.

My running has gone pretty much as planned in the last month.   My PF in my left heel has completely disappeared.   It had to be the road camber.   I've consciously tried to run in the middle of the road on less busy streets and my long runs have been moved to the crushed gravel surface of the Prairie Path.  Not too many people could rid themselves of PF by running more.   But it appears that is what I've done.

My last pacing assignment of the year at the Michelob Ultra 13.1 went perfectly.  We finished exactly at 1:45 and ran consistently.  Our mile pace never varied more than four seconds off the 8:01 pace and no more than one second on half of the miles.  We ran with a great group.   Three women who were attempting PRs (one of them who looked shockingly like Kara Goucher) and one guy in a cardboard birthday hat because it was his birthday.  One of them hung near us for the entire race and got her PR by four minutes (great job Ashleigh). Not sure about the rest of them.  Everyone seemed to approve of our pacing.
Walter and I driving the 8:01 bus
In a weird twist, I managed to grab some CARA race circuit a pacer!  The 9th place finish in my age group got me into 15th place overall despite only racing one out of eight races so far.

Last week was the neighborhood Super Strive for Five 5k race.   I wanted to defend my AG title and at least be the fastest guy in my zip code.   I went out too fast in the first half mile which probably kept me from running a PR.   I finished in 21:04 which is my course record by two seconds and got 1st place.  Splits were 6:38, 6:50 and 7:33 (6:49).  But the coolest part of the race was watching my son get a 3rd place medal.  He ran/walked it with my wife but there were only three boys under 10 who ran.   You can't control who shows up.

Next on the race list is the Elmhurst 4 on the 4th where I want/need to go sub 28:00.