Monday, November 24, 2008

training Nov. 23-29

11/23- 5 mile time trial in 35:39 (7:09-7:07-7:14-7:13-6:56). I only planned on running this at tempo pace (37s) so I could push Tuesday's long run. Early pace was faster than expected so I decided to go for it. Felt more like myself than any time last week despite mild rut in miles 3 and 4. Maybe I could have gone faster with a running buddy. In any event, I am almost there. Short and easy tomorrow then a 13 miler Tuesday. I may or may not push it hard. We'll see how I feel at the time. Still no news on the medical report. I should hear shortly after Thanksgiving but this run removes any doubt. I am on the right track.
Grade:A-/3 credits/ distance:5.5
11/24- 3 miles smooth and easy. Time was 23:30 but that's not important on an easy day. No ill-effects at all from yesterday's time trial. This pace felt almost effortless. Incidently, the pace of 7:50 per mile is exactly the same as my half marathon PR and would bring me home in 3:25 for a marathon. I think I can hold this pace for 13.1 but I will probably not try for a PR tomorrow. 2 all out time trials in 3 days is a bit much even when a rest day follows.
Grade:A/1 credit/ distance: 3.5
11/25- 13.1 miles in 1:42:38 PR. Just had to go for it. I couldn't resist.
Felt great the entire way except for a calf cramp in the final lap. Room for improvement if I had gone out a bit faster and drank a bit more. I know I can beat this time on race day and hope to break 1:40 come February at Mercedes.
Splits: (7:55-7:49-7:52-7:47-7:55-7:52-7:48-7:49-7:55-7:55-7:43-7:48-7:32-56)
Halfway point: 51:35, 2nd half: 51:03. 10 days to PR after 2 week break. That's awesome
Grade:A+/3 credits/ distance: 13.25
11/27-3 times around my parents' neighborhood. Struggled a bit on the hills. I didn't time it or push the pace but it felt about average. I will post the medical report next week. The news is mixed and somewhat surprising.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance:2.25
11/28- 2 slow laps around the block. Sluggish early but warmed up later. Really didn't feel up to running so I didn't push it. I'm not too concerned because I'm out of my routine but this was not a good sign
Grade:C/1 credit/distance:1.50
11/29- 5 mile tempo in 37:30. Felt better than yesterday. Pace was slightly slower than my normal tempo pace but it's still a decent run. Probably would have been in the 36s if this was a race. This goes in the books as about average.
Grade:B-/2 credit/distance:5.0
Week summary: Improvement over last week but still inconsistent. 2 time trials, 1 other quality workout and 3 easy ones. Glad that I topped 30 miles and hope to hit 35 next time.
Distance= 31.00 Weekly GPA: 38.1 QP/11 credits= 3.46

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why I am starting a running blog

Although I am an experienced runner, I have not kept a regular running log in a long time and have been told that perhaps a blog may motivate me to do so. As a disclaimer, I will devote this blog entirely to running but it is certainly not the only thing that I care about. God always comes first followed by my relationships with others. I am a big believer in alternative medicine and more information on that subject can be found on my main website: ( Some of the readers of my site have expressed curiosity about my training, including what I do when my medical condition does flare up, and have encouraged me to post a training log. You got it!

Background info:

-competitive middle distance runner in high school, recruited by Division II schools.

-ran off and on through college and graduate school, limited by injury and illness

-returned to serious running in October 2006 with more focus on longer distances.

My days of running sub 60 second quarter miles are probably behind me but there is still plenty of room for improvement especially at the half marathon and marathon distances.

My training philosophy: quality over quantity, improve at every distance 5K and over.

Some people have told me that my workout times are too fast for my goal marathon pace. Indeed that is true if you look at suggested paces for my times at the longer distances but my times do not "line up" based on the McMillian calculator. Based on my mile time, I should run a 3 hour marathon but my current PR is almost 4 hours. For those who are familiar with VDOT, I am a 53 for the mile and a 39 for the marathon right now. That difference would have been even greater when I was a competitive 800 man. Why the disparity? My medical issues hurt my endurance more than my speed. A long run at 53 VDOT pace would be suicide while a speed workout at 39 VDOT pace would feel pedestrian so I forget the "Smart Coach" tables and run by feel. Normally, I split the difference between the 53 and the 39 for my long runs and push my speed work pretty hard. FYI: Since I started my comeback, I have had no running injuries.

Although I do tailor my training to the distance I plan on racing in the near-future, I do faster tempo runs and occasionally throw in a speed workout during marathon training. Conversely, I do a 16-18 mile run during a more speed-oriented 5K training cycle. This allows me to set PRs at longer distances even when I am not specifically training for the event. Some runners are "mileage freaks" and do very little running other than LSD (long slow distance) and brag about their high mileage. I disagree with that approach. If I ran everything at 10:00 mile pace or slower, sure I could run 70 miles per week but my 5K would get worse, not better. I certainly will not improve if I do my training at post-bonk marathon pace.
My log terminology:
Grade: just like school, A=excellent, B=good, C=fair, D=poor, F=failure, (range from A+ to F-).
Credit: 1=easy recovery day, 2=quality workout (long run, tempo, interval) 3= all out time trial, often a PR attempt at an odd distance (rare) 4=actual race (less than 1 per month)
GPA determined just like school by dividing quality points by credits.
Obsessive? They call me Crazy Justin for a reason.
Best times of '08:
800 -2:30
Half- 1:42:38
Full- 3:56:03
One more disclaimer: I am striving for consistency in '09. Yes, I did meet or exceed all of my target times coming into '08 but there were periods in which my good workouts were few and far between. I would rather be stuck running at this level in '09 than break all my PRs while averaging 1 excellent workout per week with the rest being rated as fair or poor. A weekly GPA consistently over 3.00 indicates that my health is at least "good" every week. That is more important to me than my best times of the year.

Training Nov. 14-22

Nov. 14- AM- 1 mile run- 6:24 (3:18-3:06) . Shooting for low-mid 6 with comfortable effort and a negative split and did just that.
PM- 3 mile tempo in 21:46 (7:14-7:16-7:16). Maybe pushed too hard on my first day after a 2 week layoff. Very sore groin. Pretty much sore all over.
Grade: B/Credit/2 Distance: 4.5

Nov. 15- 3.5 miles in 28:13. Planned to go 6 miles at 8:00 pace. Held pace for the first 3 (23:50) then ran out of energy and called it quits after a pedestrian 4:23 next half. Body chemistry is clearly out of whack.
Grade: F/Credit/1 Distance: 3.5
Distance=8.0/ GPA=6/3 credit= 2.00
Nov. 17- 5 miles in 39:26. Better after taking modulator supplement for adrenals. Faded after 2nd mile, felt locked into 8:00 pace and couldn't pick it up no matter what I did. Oh well, this was not meant to be a hard time trial. (7:52-7:45-7:59-7:59-7:51). Groin pain is no worse.
Grade: C-/credit/2/ Distance:5.5

Nov. 18- 7.5 miles in 62:xx (8:20-8:30 pace). Sloppy form, put forth tempo effort just to run what I normally do on an easy day. Not all that tired but could not pick it up. Legs felt like they burdened with weights. This does not feel right. I will try excitatory neurotransmitters.
Grade:C-/credit/2/ Distance: 8.0/

Nov. 19- 3x800 with long rests. I knew before the run that excitatory neurotransmitter support was not the answer. I just wanted to see how I felt if I tried to run. Out of breath after just 15 seconds but leg pain diminished. Times were abysmal but at least I know that my neurotransmitters are balanced without the support. Bovine adrenal substance in my next option.
Grade:F+/credit/1/ Distance: 1.5/

Nov. 20- 5 mile time trial to test new formula= success. Time is down to 36:55 (improvement of 30 secs. per mile). These workouts tell me that my neurotransmitters are balanced but my adrenals are sluggish. I am unsure about my thyroid function. It will be a lot easier to fix if both my thyroid and adrenals are sluggish. I'll get confirmation when my medical report comes back. I have faith that my doctor and I will find something that works long-term.
Splits:7:16-7:18-7:29-7:35-7:21. Still got into a rut in the 3rd and 4th miles but I'm clearly on the right track now. I have split the difference between my PR and Monday's time.
Grade:B-/credit/3/ Distance: 5.5/

Nov.21- Easy 10 in 83:50. Much improved since 11/18 despite similar pace. This time I did not put forth tempo effort to achieve target time. 9 out 10 miles were below 8:30, 2nd half was nearly as fast as 1st half. I still don't feel quite 100% but I will go with this formula until my medical report confirms what I already know. Right now, I am probably capable of running a half marathon in about 1:47-1:48 so I've got a ways to just to get back to where I was 3 weeks ago but I am headed in the right direction.
Grade:B+/credit/2/distance: 10.0

Nov.22- Planned rest day
Week summary: Distance=30/GPA=21.8/10 credits=2.180
Finished 4 out of 5 planned workouts and managed to meet mileage target in first full week but I've got a long way to go before I can get up to 50 miles/week and I'm a long way from being able to run a 3:30 marathon. Thanksgiving will probably be a cut back.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First marathon story

Eugene marathon:
Beautiful course along the Willamette River and through parts of the University of Oregon. It had only one significant hill around 7.5 miles into the race so it’s a good race for a PR. I flew into Portland and got to see both the Pacific coast and the Cascades, both of which were amazing.
Race day: Because of a nerve-wracking traffic jam, I arrived at the starting line with only 5 minutes to spare. My plan was to go out no faster than 9:00 pace then run the final 10K as fast as I could, which would bring me to the finish line in less than 4 hours. I had about 98% of my best stuff and took off slightly faster than I planned (8:45 pace) but I was actually holding back much of the time. Normally, I can tell very early in a run whether it will be a good one or not. Today was a good day. Even though I had never gone nonstop for more than 22 miles, I was sure that I could finish and almost sure that I could break 4 hours. I let out a yell and raised my arms whenever someone cheered for me. This was fun. I came through the halfway mark around 1:55 and actually was thinking about a sub-3:50. I still felt like the tank was about ¾ full at the time. If I had raced a half-marathon instead, I think I would have PRed. Miles 14-16 still were all near 8:45 and I talked with another runner who was also shooting for a sub-4 and had just missed on his first try. With 10 miles to go, the effort was just beginning to take its toll. My pace slowed to near 9:00/mile from mile 16-20. I could have maintained the 8:45 but wanted to remain fairly comfortable. It was the right decision. I focused on getting to that dreaded 20 mile marker in less than 2:58 (last 6.2 in 62 minutes) and according to my GPS, I was at 2:56 and change, still ahead of schedule. Barring disaster, I would break 4 hours with time to spare but the tank was now only a little more than ¼ full. 3:50 had slipped away but maybe I could still make 3:55. I took my last power gel and opened a bag of caffeinated jelly beans. Although I did not hit the wall all of a sudden, it was much harder by the 21st mile. I was now running the best I could and it was only good enough for 9:10-9:15 pace for the next 2.5 miles. Still, most runners on the course seemed to be in worse shape than I was. I probably passed about 3 runners for every one that passed me during this time. The cheering fans continued to give me a boost. By mile 22.5, my body was screaming at me to STOP and my pace dramatically slowed to the 9:50 range. I would have to run the final 4 miles in less than 44 minutes so I could not afford to slow down much beyond this pace. I started taking caffeinated jelly beans, which seemed to help a bit. At each mile marker, I looked down at my GPS and found to my relief that my pace was still fairly steady and just barely below 10:00. The final 2 miles in 24 minutes seemed a lot more manageable than 4 miles in 44 minutes. By mile 25, I started getting occasional stabbing pain in my calf. PLEASE don’t lock up on me now when I am so close. I heard a few people cuss when they literally could not run any more and had to walk it in. Some volunteers were making their way onto the course presumably to pull people off that appeared to be disoriented. They looked at me and said “That’s a good pace. Keep it up.” I basically held my position give or take a few places between miles 23-26. The stabbing pains in my calf continued to come but abated within a few steps. I thought about how far I had come and that I had overcome too much to quit now. I had developed a website and knew that it would be much more inspiring to title it Chronic Fatigue to Marathon Finish rather than Marathon Attempt. I am proud to say that except for the water stations, I did not walk at all and managed to hold onto that 9:50-10:00 pace through mile 26. My GPS had just turned 3:54 at the 26 mile marker so I could afford to walk it in and still make my goal. Pride swelled when I knew that I had a sub-4 in the bag and nothing could stop me now. A sub 3:55 was out of reach and I was running on fumes. Another mile beyond this and I would have bonked for sure. I did not push too hard in the last .2 and about 5 runners passed me but I just focused on maintaining that 10:00 pace to the finish line. One final turn and the FINISH banner was at last within view. I did make a weak effort to kick in the last 100 meters and thought I had a shot at finishing under 3:56. The camera caught me checking my GPS as I crossed the line to find that I came up short but I didn’t care. My official chip time was 3:56:03.
Will I do this again? I’m not going to say never but “not for a long time.” I will focus on shorter races for the remainder of the year.