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.



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.

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.

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 points….as 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.

Random Five Month Recap

The last time I posted was New Year’s Eve.   So many have turned off this TV station and moved on with their lives.   But another reason I write this blog is to document things I might want to remember.   So I’ll try a random shotgun approach to update this piece of the internet.

1.  I am still running.   I decided not to run a spring marathon and it was a great decision since the Polar Vortex would have made my running miserable.   I ran a lot on the treadmill when it was 5 degrees with a 20 MPH wind.  If you trained through it for a marathon this year, you should get a special medal.

2.  My monthly mileage has not been as high as I want it to be.   A flare up of runner’s knee and some nagging plantar fasciitis in my left heel.  I think it may all be related to road camber.   The streets were covered with ice and snow this winter so I was running against the curb a lot.  The good news is that after wearing a night splint and running more on flat surfaces it is almost gone.

3.  I have only done two races this year so far.   The first was the world’s largest 8k Shamrock Shuffle with 30,066 finishers.   The second was a 10 miler where I got to race with my on-line friend ilanarama.  I ran really well in both races despite my less than ideal mileage.   As Ilana would call it, race day magic.   The 10 miler was a CARA Race Circuit race so I was able to score some points for the 5th place AG finish.   Ilana grabbed 2nd in her AG.

4.  Thanks to Chicago Endurance Sports/Lifetime Fitness and Fleet Feet I am continuing my pacer gigs. So far this year I have paced the Chicago Spring Half (8:23 pace) and the Soldier Field 10 miler (8:30 pace).   Both events were successful and I got to run with a couple of good co-pacers.  We nailed our times and I always enjoy helping out other runners.   We got some after race thank yous from people hanging on our bus so we must have done something right.   Next up:   I’m pacing the Michelob Ultra 13.1 on June 7th 1:45 group in one week. See you there.

5.   Both my wife and son are now officially runners.   My son joined the running club at his elementary school.  My wife has been running with a group out of our local running store.   We all ran a 2.62 mile mini-marathon two weeks back.  It was fun run/walking with one of my kids.   His only goal was to beat mom which he accomplished.   I am very proud of both of them for their new found addiction to the running thing.

6.  My running gets serious for the rest of the year.   I have some 5k AG titles to defend through early July.   I’ll run some more CARA circuit races.  The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon training kicks off shortly.   There is still that popular Boston race possibility that I can register for in September.

7.  I have cleaned up the blogs that I follow.   Many were inactive or gone altogether.  So I’ve left the best ones and am actively searching for one that interest me.   Congrats if you made my personal cut list.   I also need to post some photos and working on my training page.   It’s only been under construction for a year or so.  

2013 Knocking Down the Goals

                                                      The Raw Numbers

Miles run: 2235 which does not include today’s run.  Not sure if I’ll get one more in.

Time Run:  321 hours 18 minutes.   Or 13 days and 9 hours.
Races:  11 and this year it was void of a half marathon
Distances Raced:  4m – 1, 5k – 4, 8k -1, 10k – 2, 10m -1, Marathon – 2
PR’s:  3 (5k, 4m and Marathon) 

My running goals for 2013:
Run a spring and fall marathon. Check

Qualify for 2014 Boston this April. Check. Finally got my qualifier but it happened in October! BQ -3:08
Win an age group in any race.  Check. Three AG wins.  All at 5k and one of those was a trail race
Go sub 21 minutes in a 5k. Check.  20:55
Enter more races. Check  

In particular, the CARA race circuit and help my club with great results. Incomplete as club results aren’t in.
Run more with my running club. Check
Stay healthy and be in the best running shape of my life.  Check.   

I managed to achieve everything I wanted in 2013.  The monster goal of getting the Boston Qualifier was the most difficult and rewarding.   I started running in 2008 but the Boston goal was not truly a goal until summer of 2009 when I ran a a half in 1:38 and change.   I got there simply by running more miles.   I learned you need to get out of the comfort zone and push the limits a bit.   After peaking at 70 miles per week in August and averaging over 65 miles for two months, I knew I put in the work.   Now at age 50 I am in the best shape of my life.

So what do I do in 2014?  I’, somewhat lacking in motivation but I’m pretty sure that is wind chill related.   I will run another marathon but I may hold off until the fall.    I just may try to push the envelope at the half marathon in the spring.  At a minimum I want to beat my PR for the half.   
I want to go sub 3:25 in the marathon which will get me a BQ minus 5 minutes.   Improve from 23rd place in the CARA 50-54 AG standings.   I only entered three out of 17 races.   If I enter more races I think the top 15 is doable.  Do more hill work.  Do core work which I’ve never really done.
How about 2400 miles for 2014?!   I’ll be gearing up for Boston 2015.