Sunday, October 8, 2017

50k trail/ultra marathon debut, jk let's just do 4 weeks @ 100mpw

My summer training was supposed to be geared towards the McKenzie River 50k in early September. This race would be a training run before the New York City Marathon in November but also something I would be very competitive at. The McKenzie 50k is a point to point trail ultra marathon that runs along a river here in Oregon. There are some hills on the course but it is a net downhill race. Not a bad way to get acclimated to running 31 miles! The start line is about an hour away from where I live. My training had gone well. I did a lot of 2-3 hour runs and a lot of training on the course itself. I was told 4 hours-flat was a really good time on the course and one that would put me in the top 3 or top 5, even potentially in the hunt to win it. I did a 22 mile run on the course going out and back that averaged 3:50 50k pace. The first half of that run averaged 4:00 50k pace going uphill (opposite from how the course actually runs) and the second half at 3:40 pace (the right direction!). I was in shape and looking forward to this new challenge. Oregon, however, had other plans for me. We got some intense forest fires at the end of August and into September. The air quality got truly awful. It was hard to run in town even though we were hours away from the nearest fires. People were being evacuated from their homes just an hour from where I live. The race directors did a great job keeping us informed. They just sent us messages starting 10 days out from the race saying to keep still and wait for further direction. We seemed to be getting these messages daily and they made the official announcement to cancel the Wednesday or Thursday before what was supposed to be a Saturday race. It was the right decision. We were not about to go and run a race where people had been evacuating from just a few days before. I tapered for this race and then had nothing to show for all of my summer miles. I decided not to dwell on things and shifted gears immediately to go all in on the NYC Marathon. The ultra would have taken a lot out of me and I would have needed some time to recover in between the two races. Instead, I was able to run four solid weeks of 91, 104, 103, and 112 miles (9/11-10/8). 112 is the most that I've ever done in a week. I actually hit 122 at some point in here over a 7 day period when I had a long run on a Sunday and then on the following Saturday. I count my weeks from Monday to Sunday so 112 sounds good enough to me.

Here is a sampling of some of the workouts and long runs that I have been putting in:

9/10- 18 w./ 8 @ 5:53 pace
9/12- 4 x mile in 5:33 avg. (on bark) + 4 x 400m in the low-70s, closing with a 67
9/17- 20 miles in the 6:40s
9/19- Lumberjack- 4 x 400m, 10:00 tempo, 4 x 400m, 10:00 tempo, 4 x 400m (400s in 74-75, tempo in the 5:40s)
9/23- 21.5 miles w./ 13.1 tempo in 1:19:12- 6:02 pace, last two miles 5:53, 5:49
9/27- 3 x 3 miles- 5:55 avg.
9/30- XC 5k 17:38
10/1- 20 miles in the 6:50s
10/3- 15 x 1km- 3:40 avg. (on bark)
10/7- 20 w./ 12 mile tempo in 1:12:22- 6:02 pace

I have been doubling on most of my easy days and have gotten in a lot of medium long runs in the 12-15 mile range. This has not been easy working anywhere from 8-12 hours Monday through Friday. You could say that I've been a little tired lately.

I am feeling very good about my NYC preparation right now. All of these workouts have been done in high mileage weeks, usually with a double the day before a hard effort. In my buildup to my 2:46 Newport Marathon last spring I only did two 20 milers, one 3 weeks out and one 2 weeks out. I was cramming for the marathon coming off of a goal half marathon (Eugene Half where I ran 1:16). This time around I've done four 20+ mile runs each weekend from 7 weeks to 4 weeks out and will do two more. My mileage is higher and more consistent than it has ever been over the last month. NYC is a tough marathon but I am still hoping to take a crack at a sub-2:40 time. I want to go through halfway in 1:20:30-1:21ish and then try to cut down from there once I get over the Queensboro Bridge. Mile 17 is where I will try to run my fastest splits. I have a solid base and a solid plan. I just need to stay the course and put the finishing touches on training and I should have a good race come November.

NYC will come almost exactly 1 year after I had a blood clot in my lung. The last 11 months have not been easy. I did not know if I would be able to run again or train this hard. I missed time last December and January, scared that running would bring clots back into my life. The anxiety has not gone away completely but I got back into training last spring and, over the last 6 months, I've set PRs in every distance from the mile to the marathon. Now I want to see 2:3x on the clock in NYC and bust these clots once and for all. I'm really looking forward to this race!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

An Up & Down Kind of Summer (& an all over the place blog about it)

I have not written anything since early June when I ran 2:46:43 to take 5th at the Newport (OR) Marathon in a new PR. My summer plan was to recover from Newport, tackle the shorter distances, run 10k and half marathon PRs, and get in some quality long runs prior to my debut 50k coming up in September. Now that I see everything laid out like that, I probably should have refocused and picked something a little more tangible than basically saying I'd like to PR from 1500 to the half marathon while building my endurance for the fall.

(Bend Mile Classic- 4:53)
I took a week (4 days) off after Newport and then did 4 x mile in 5:40 on the bark mile loop at Amazon in Eugene and felt fine. A friend convinced me to run a 3k the following Friday (less than 2 weeks after Newport). The result was a 9:58, which is way off of the 9:24 I ran in March when I was in shape for it. This should be an indicator for how the summer has been going. With the disappointing (expected) result I went all in on the shorter distances and started to hammer mile paced things like 2 x 1km, 5 x 300m, 3 x 600m, 3 x 800m. My mileage stayed in the 70ish range throughout the summer as I did these workout. On July 6th, I raced at the Oregon Track Club All Comers Series four weeks in a row. I ran a small 1500 PR on the 6th in my opener at the distance in 4:27. It was on my birthday and I won! I would have liked to have had some competition but this result was okay. The Saturday after that race I decided to cram for a track 5k at the next All Comers. I ran a workout that went like this: 2 miles 11:15, 1 mile 5:15, 2x800 2:36, 2:34, 2x400 74, 71. I had run 16:36 in April and wanted to better this. My results on 7/13 was a 16:54 5k with k splits of 3:20-3:17-3:23-3:35-3:19. I really fell off hard on that 4th k. The endurance was simply not there with all of the shorter workouts. I went back to the 1500 the following week and ran 4:27 again. Two days later I was in Bend, OR, and ran a 4:53 road mile. I did this one for fun, having run the morning of the race and having had a beer at lunch... Anyways, I got after things on the last Thursday in July and ran 4:25 for 1500m. I got out a little bit quicker than I had through 800m in 2:22 (versus 2:24-2:26 the previous weeks). That made the two second difference. I was 3:33 at 1200 but did not have much of a kick as I was redlining more throughout this run. I closed faster in the previous two 1500s but this one was the fastest. I basically maintained pace on the last lap. If I had had any semblance of a kick I would have wound up in the lower-4:20s. All in all, I was somewhat satisfied with my summer of 1500s. I would have liked a better 5k in there and to shave off a few more seconds but the speed did make an appearance.

After that last 1500 it sort of hit me that I was signed up for a half marathon in less than a month. I got in a few good workouts: 6 x mile in 5:45, 4 mile tempo 22:50, 10 mile tempo 60:00, 10k race in 35:48. This looked encouraging so I thought that I could take a shot at my 1:16:40 PR. I went to San Diego with a running buddy for America's Finest City Half Marathon and there is no other word for it other than I bonked. I went through 5 miles on pace but the wheels fell off hard. It was 70 degrees with 100% humidity which is not something I had bee

(Hood to Coast- 4th place of 1000+)
n training in. Eugene is usually in the low-50s without much humidity in the summer. By 8 miles I was slower than the 10 mile tempo I did just a couple weeks earlier. I actually walked for a couple minutes as my legs were cramping. I crossed the line in 1:23:00 with some walking which is slower than what I ran the first half of my last marathon in. It was disappointing. I wanted another crack at the half before jumping into a marathon block. I ran a workout the Tuesday after- 5:18 mile, 16 x 400m w./ 200 jog in 73. Find me a 1:23 half marathoner where that workout is a piece of cake. After Tuesday's workout I jumped onto a Hood to Coast Relay Team the following Friday and Saturday. I ran 3 legs- 4.66 miles @ 5:14 pace, 7.25 miles @ 6:00 pace, and 5.32 miles @ 5:43 pace. I think I needed this run to happen before I toed another start line in the fall. I got some confidence putting out decent splits in a hectic environment. I had a blast with my teammates and we took 4th overall out of 1050 teams and 2nd in our division.

I think that Hood to Coast was a good way to end the summer. I tried to do too much. Running Hood to Coast was probably doing too much but it helped show me that I do have some fitness. It also helped me to loosen up and take things a little less seriously. I am nowhere close to elite level in this sport. I am pretty good but I know I can improve by a ton and I want to. That is why there is no let up in training. I think it will be important to choose goal races a little more carefully in training moving forward and recognize that not every race is setup to run a personal best.

What's next? I am running a 50k in a week and a half. I am going to try not to think too much about my training before this one but my mileage has been good and I have gotten in a number of solid long runs. I have done some running on the course, which includes a nearly 3 hour long run well under sub-4 hour 50k pace. I'm ready for this challenge and my debut ultra. After this I will be able to put in a marathon specific block before the NYC Marathon. I'll tackle NYC almost exactly 1 year to the date that I first got my blood clot. I'm excited to chase after a fast time.

I know this blog post was all over the place but that's sort of where my training is. All I know is that I have done workouts for a variety of distances and am plenty fit. Up next: my debut at 50k! Let's do it.


Monday, June 5, 2017

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

Finally.

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 a 1:16:40 (5:50 pace) PR. 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 follows: 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 as 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 miles 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 saying since my 2:47 at Chicago that a sub-2:40 is 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 miles 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, projected 2:43 finish
20 in 2:05:10- 2:44:05 projected finish
Last 6 miles- 39:39- 2:53:16 pace