Monday, June 5, 2017

NEW MARATHON PR- 3.5 years in the making... 2:46:43 (6:21 pace) 5th overall Newport Marathon


I have finally erased my 2:47 pb set at the 2013 Chicago Marathon. My best in the half marathon at that time was 1:19. I took out that race aggressively in 1:20:48 and struggled to maintain in the second half to finish in 2:47:18. I thought, with more even pacing, that something in the 2:43-45 range was possible that day. My training over the past 3.5 years has been sporadic, but not due to my own choosing. In the spring of 2014, I started to develop a light headed feeling on runs. I dropped out of 2014 Boston because I was already dizzy at 20k. In the fall of 2014 I was over the dizziness but developed an IT band problem the week before a scheduled marathon. I dropped out of my goal race after not being able to walk at the halfway point. In the spring of 2015, I began to feel dizzy on my runs again and I decided against starting the Boston Marathon, which I was signed up for.

During these low points, my mileage and workouts were great. When I was able to, I would knock out 70-80+ mile weeks and do the kind of workouts to make me think a 2:40ish marathon was possible. In the fall of 2016 I moved to Oregon for work and things started to turn around. I was not feeling any of the dizziness from the previous spring. I was not injured. I had found a training group to do my workouts with. That fall, I ran a 1:17:50 half marathon. Progress! I trained hard all winter and spring and ran the 2016 NYC Half Marathon in 1:17:48. I had a lot of things go wrong on the logistical side of things that day and thought a 1:15-16 half was in the cards. I then wanted to do a spring marathon but the dizziness had come back. Despite feeling awful, I ran 2:59 after a 1:22-mid opening half. This is a ways off from 2:47. I had a great build-up for my fall, 2016, marathon but cramped up very early in the race. A couple of weeks later, I found out that a blood clot had moved into my right lung. I had a pulmonary embolism. I didn't know if I would be able to run the same again. Anxiety was plaguing my day to day activity in the months following the PE. 

I did what I knew how to do to cope with my anxiety. I ran. I targeted the Eugene Half Marathon, put in great workouts and ran 1:16:40 (5:50 pace). In the couple of months before this, I ran 3k (9:24), 5k (16:36), and 10k (35:31) PRs. I am not entirely sure what happened this spring but I came back hot from the clot and found my groove. Four weeks after the Eugene Half, I toed the line for the Newport (OR) Marathon. My race plan was to take things out easy, in 6:15-6:25 pace for the first five miles or so and then run 6:00-6:15 for as long as I could to the finish. If I was feeling good, I would have a shot a the low-2:40s and if I wasn't I still wanted to PR. My A, B, and C goals for the race were as follow: A-2:39-2:42, B- 2:43-2:45, C- sub-2:50 and/or PR. Here's how things panned out.

When the gun went off, I was in a big pack of about a dozen runners. One guy went out faster and had already put a little bit of a gap on the group. The whole pack hit the first mile in around 5:55-6:15 depending on where you were. I was there in 6:06. 6:06 is 2:40-flat marathon pace and I wanted to start slower and then get into faster running in the middle of the race. A few guys around me said they wanted to back off after we hit mile 2 (which had an uphill) in 6:20. We were back to averaging 6:15 pace but I was content to hang in the 6:20ish range for a few miles. The crew I was running with all said they were hoping for a mid-2:40s marathon which sounded good to me with the hope that someone might want to push the pace later. I didn't dictate the pace but we hit 6:22, 6:36, 6:34, and a 6:27 to bring us to 6 miles in 38:29- 2:48:10 marathon pace. I wanted to be around 2:45-46 marathon pace through the first 10k and then bring it down. Newport is a pretty small race so I was happy to be in a group but I surged a little in mile 7 with a 6:18. Nobody went with me but I had made my choice. Maybe folks would catch me later but I wanted to go for something a little faster. I had a blast running the first 6 in that group. Folks were cracking jokes and it kept me very relaxed. I hope everyone in there had an awesome race! From 7 to 19 I ran 1:20:14 for 13 miles- 6:10 pace- 2:41:49 marathon pace. I passed a few guys who went out too hot but was running solo other than that. Every mile between 7 and 19 was between 6:00 and 6:20. At mile 17, my projected finish was 2:43:33. By mile 20, I was looking at a 2:44:05. This is where the race got tough. I lost 2.5 minutes from here to the finish.

I'm very happy with what I was able to accomplish on Sunday but I know that there is still room for improvement at the marathon distance. This buildup was really geared towards the half marathon. I only got in two runs over 20 and most of my workouts were in the 5:35-5:50 range. I did not have any long tempos at marathon pace. I did not do a lot of specific running at goal pace. I have been talking since my 2:47 at Chicago that a sub-2:40 was right around the corner. That marathon was pretty similar to this one. In Chicago I went out hard and was on 2:41 pace through halfway. I still had an opportunity to run 2:43-45 but faded hard over the last half. In Newport, I was much more conservative early on and ran that opening quick half from Chicago from 6 to 19. I didn't have enough miles left in Newport to fall to a 2:47. I am still optimistic that I can hit a 2:38-2:42 marathon the next time out. I was on pace for a 2:43-44 through 20+ miles on Sunday. I probably should not have dropped down under 6:10 on Sunday. Maybe that would have helped me to a faster time. All in all, I'm happy to finally have a more recent race to claim as my marathon PR. I'm excited for what I can do with a marathon specific training block. Next up is some mile/5k training early this summer before I move into a specific buildup for the New York City Marathon which will also include my debut ultra marathon which will be a 50k setup as a long training run.

Here is some quick data from Newport:
2:46:43 (6:21 pace) 5th overall 
1st 6 38:29- 2:48:10 pace
Next 13 1:20:14- 2:41:49 pace
20 in 2:05:10- 2:44:05 projected finish
Last 6 miles- 39:39- 2:53:16 pace

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Eugene Half Marathon Race Report- 1:16:40 PR !!!

(final mile grit)
On Sunday I ran my first half marathon since having a blood clot in my lung in November, 2016. The last 6 months have been hell. I have been battling with anxiety since this time. With that being said, I really used running over the last three months to help me feel like myself again. Over the last 12 weeks I have averaged 75 miles/week. With each step I run, I am able to prove to myself that I can move on. I am not done yet with running and have more to accomplish.

Selected workouts:
3/21 Michigan 1 (full) mile track 5:15, 1 mile bark 5:54, 1200m track 4:03, 1 mile bark 5:53, 800m track 2:34, 1 mile bark 5:54, 400m track 67, 1600m track 5:38
4/9 8 mile tempo 47:25- out in 24:15, back in 23:10. 6:04, 6:01, 6:09, 6:00, 5:53, 5:54, 5:49, 5:34
4/12 3 mile tempo 16:56- 5:41-5:46-5:29, jog over to track (3:30), 10 x 400m (78.0 avg- 76-79 on the reps) w./ 200m jog :55-57, jog to 3 mile start (4:00), 3 mile tempo 16:53- 5:44-5:42-5:27
4/17 5 mile tempo 28:55 + 4 x 400m
4/21 8 x 1600m w./ 1:00 standing rest 5:34 average (1st rep 5:39, last rep 5:25)
4/26 3 x 2 miles w./ 2:00 400 jog 11:17, 11:16, 11:15

Tuneup Races: 9:24 3k, 16:36 5k, 58:19 10 miler (controlled)

In short, the workouts were there for a good one. After the 8 x 1600 workout I thought 1:14:59 might be possible but I probably needed a few more weeks of similar workouts to make 5:40-5:45 a little more comfortable. The 3 x 2 mile workout was good but it felt a little too hard to be half marathon pace. I went into Eugene with a time in the 1:15 range as my A goal, with a secondary goal of running a PR (previously 1:17:48). On the day of the race I woke up to low-40 degree weather and sunny skies. Great for racing! My plan was to take it out no faster than 5:50. The first four miles have some incline so I wanted to conserve some energy. I executed pretty well in here. On my Garmin I went 5:40, 5:51, 5:51, 5:58. The Garmin was a little off. I ended up getting 13.2 miles and they were clicking the miles off just a few seconds early each mile. The course gave me a 5:45 mile 1 and 11:35ish at 2 miles. I went through 5k in 18:07. After mile 4 I made a conscious effort to try to pick things up. The Garmin gave me 5:42, 5:43, 5:39, 5:43. I went through 10k in 36:04 (17:57 2nd 5k). 8 miles in I was averaging 5:45 pace and on target for a 1:15 finish time.

(hanging with Andrew Wheating post race)

After mile 8, the course climbs college hill. The half marathon is tough because you are basically red lining the whole time and the pace you are trying to hold becomes increasingly difficult the farther into the race you get. I split 5:57 on the uphill mile 9 and my race got a lot more difficult. I took a gel at this point and then clicked off 5:53, 5:57, and 5:54 miles to reach 12. I hit 10 right at 5:50 pace or so. My Garmin gave me 57:5x. I was knocked off of 5:45 pace in here and lost more than 40 seconds. I reckon I could have kept my pace in the 5:40-range had it not been for the hill. I worked hard during the final mile (5:50) to reel in 2 runners and put in a decent kick during the last 200m where the race finished on Hayward Field. I crossed the line in 1:16:40 for a new PR on more than one minute. I finished 18th of 2500 and 2nd in my age group. Look, 6 months ago I did not know if I would ever run faster than I had pre blood clot. On Sunday, I proved to myself that I am not done yet. With that being said, the workouts still tell me that I can break into the 1:15 range. I know that time is possible and have something to shoot for next time out. I had a blast running in my Team Stop the Clot jersey and got a lot of love on the course. I can tell you that the feeling crossing the finish line last weekend was awesome. It is among the happiest I have been in 6 months. I've battled a lot with anxiety the last 6 months and was happy to run well.

Next up is the Newport Marathon on June 3rd. That's right! I'm not slowing down. I ran a half now it's time for a full. I am going to keep up the mileage the next month and try to run between 2:38-2:42. I want to thank my family, friends, running buddies, and the blood clot community for encouraging me, inspiring me, and supporting me over the last 6 months. I am feeling more like myself thanks to a lot of amazing people.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

4 weeks 4 races 4 personal bests just 5 months after a blood clot

I had no idea what running would look like after I had a blood clot last November. I did not know if I would be racing this spring, next fall, or in the years to come. I did not know if I would be able to push myself in the same ways I had been able to before. I did not know if I would be able to run as fast as I had before. In February I really started to feel like myself again. My mileage was getting closer to what I would consider normal and I was able to do some workouts again. I hopped in an early March 5k and ran 16:51. Not bad. I followed that up two weeks later with a 9:24 3k which had me pretty excited. It is a much stronger mark than the 16:51. This started a string of races over the last 4 weekends. I did not taper for these races or back off my mileage so they were sort of a mixed bag. I feel like I could have gone faster in all of them but each one served a different purpose for training. Here is what I was able to manage:

3/18- 9:24 3k in a college meet- I was close to 5:00-flat pace for just under 2 miles. This is a very good time for me. I hung onto a small pack early and ran a strong/consistent race with k splits of 3:07-3:08-3:09.

3/26 Couve Clover 10.3 miler- I had tickets to the Blazers on 3/25 and stayed with a buddy who was running a 5k the next day. I had a long run with some tempo miles planned so I hopped in the 10.3 miler. I averaged 5:50 pace for the whole thing, running consistent splits the whole way. This came at the end of an 80+ mile week with a hard 4 x 1 mile workout the Friday before (3/24) and 7+ miles on Saturday (3/25). I hit 10 miles in 58:19. The only 10 miler I had ever run before this was a 59:06 at Pear Blossom last spring so this is a new pr on some tired legs. My thought is that I can roll through 10 miles of a half at this pace or faster on tapered legs. We will see.

4/1 Linfield 10k- It might have been too much to ask for running a 10k just 6 days after a decent 10 miler and with a mid-week workout. I wanted to run 34-mid, something that seemed possible based on the 3k two weeks previous. I, however, ran like an amateur and went out way too fast in this one. It was a small field and I went with a small pack of guys and ran 5:20 for mile 1. This is more or less 5k pace for me and I had 5.2 miles to go. I ran 5:30 for mile 2 and was in over my head. I slowed to reach 5k in 17:22. If I could do that again I would have had a time I would be satisfied with but I was trending in the wrong direction. I ran 5:50s the rest of the way and finished in 35:31- gross. My road best is 35:32 so this technically is my PR now even though I think I can go much quicker...

4/7 John Knight Twilight 5k- 8:50pm on a Friday night under the lights! There were only 11 in the field and it was a D2 meet with some D1 runners in the field. The pack went out hot and I hung off the back in last. There was a pacer up front going through 2 miles in 10:00 which is close to my 3k pace so I was in over my head. I went through the first 1600 in 5:05 and was already a few strides back from 10th. By 2 miles (10:28-30ish), I was about 10 seconds from 10th and this gap would stay the same to the finish. After a much too fast 5:05, I ran 5:23-25 for the next 1600. I was basically where I wanted to be a 3200- 5:15 pace- but trending the wrong way after a hot first mile. I wanted to run 5:15s but ran a 5:30 third mile. I hit the last 200 in 36 to go 76 on the last lap. I feel like I left some time out there with some bad pacing but you can't say that I didn't go for it. I need to be in a 16:10-30 race. I was on 16:00 pace through 2k and 16:10 through 3k but then faded hard because I went out too fast. I want to be in a race where I come through 3k in the same time but do so with even splits. 16:36 beats my old 16:37 road time. That came on a downhill course so it is good to have a more official PR in the 5k.

4 weeks. 4 races. 4 PRs. I don't know what I was expecting post blood clot but I have proved to myself that I am a fighter. I will not quit. I will not give up. I did not focus on any one particular race here and am excited that there is more room for improvement. The goal right now is the Eugene Half Marathon. My training over the next month will turn more half marathon specific. I am optimistic that a 1:14-1:15 time is within reach.