Monday, October 31, 2011

Training 10/31-11/6

10/31- Plan was to run 10 miles on Lakeshore with the first 7.5 at marathon pace then pick it up at the end. I covered the full distance in a strong time of 71:17 (7:08 pace). If sustained over a full 26.2, my time would be 3:07. I have now run 34 miles in 3 days, all at 7:30 pace or under. That seems awfully fast and it is but I will have 2 days off following the prolotherapy. Speaking of which, the groin felt pretty good today but it's not 100%. Quarter splits were 17:56-18:04-18:07-17:10. That's a 6:52 pace over the final 2.5 miles. I like that. The Lunar Elites are getting a bit worn so on a MLR run, I went with the Brooks Cadence. I wore black, LOL. I feel like I may be peaking too soon but I'll have some slack time after Arkansas.
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=10.0

11/1- Forgot to mention that I passed 1,750 miles on the year yesterday. Barring disaster, I will finish well over 2,000.
AM run- Today was not one of my better efforts. Not a big surprise considering the training that I've done over the last 3 days. Believe it or not, I don't think that was the problem. I took 2 pills in the morning, which was too much. I'll need to take 1 pill three times/day or 1.5 in the morning and 1.5 in the evening. Also, I did not have enough to eat. The workout was the Trak Shak 5. From the beginning, I wasn't feeling it but I did pass 3 miles in 20:47 (6:56 pace) then shut it down and jogged to the finish because I was out of energy. Headed up to Nashville for prolotherapy in the afternoon.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=5.0

11/2- Forced day of rest.

11/3- I had 9 shots in the hip/groin area on the afternoon on 11/1. Based on how I felt this morning, I can either take a 2nd rest day or do a junk run in the evening. I'm leaning towards the former. I'll be ready for a basic easy 5-6 tomorrow and hopefully long on Saturday or Sunday at the latest. Mileage should still be in the 40s.
PM- Opted for the junk run. 2 miles indoors in 16:16 (8:08 pace). No cause for alarm. This is just about what I expected at this stage of treatment. I should be nearly normal in 2 more days.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=2.0

11/4- AM- 2.5 miles in 18:51 (7:33 pace). I cut it short only because I wanted to get to work on time. I took 1.5 pills this morning and felt good. I will try to run again this afternoon without any more pills and see how that goes. I am unsure if I can go long tomorrow and that's okay. I can do it Sunday without a problem.
PM- This will be my last workout after work in the daylight until the end of February. I decided to run the Trak Shak loop and finished it just before it got dark. I covered 4.5 miles in a solid 33:21 (7:25 pace). Slowed just a tad toward the end but still pretty strong. I should be up for a LR tomorrow but it will be solo in the daylight.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=7.0

11/5- Skipping the 10K was probably the right call but I know that I would have done well in a race today. Instead, I did the best long run of my life. 18 miles in 2:12:08 (7:21 pace) with pretty even splits and a 6:43 closing mile. AMAZING! Route was (Trak-Shak to Lakeshore, up Green Springs then the remainder of the 5 mile loop) times 2. Fairly flat route but this is BY FAR my fastest pace for this long of a distance. This is 3:12 marathon pace and even if I slowed to 9 minute pace over the final 8.2, I still would have run a 3:25, which is a 10 minute PR.
Grade:A+/2 credits/distance=18.0

11/6- Easy 8 on South Lakeshore. 2 extensions plus trail. Time was 61:35 (7:42 pace). Sluggish start but I was fine after the first quarter mile. I actually had to force myself to slow down. Miles 4-8 were all 7:45-7:50. I needed a flat route after yesterday with the sore quads. Solid performance. I hope that this was easy enough to recover by tomorrow.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=8.0

Weekly summary:
Unbelievable to hit 50 during a prolotherapy week. I believe that's an even 1800 on the year. I will cut back just a hair next week with a race coming up on 11/19. Good call to skip the 10K. Strong MLR and LR but no quality speed or tempo sessions. That also changes next week. I've got a tough stretch of training in December and early January but if I can survive that, I'm golden. If I can manage to sustain this for 7 weeks, I've got PRs in my first 2 races of 2012. I will NOT normally push my LR quite this hard in the future.
Distance=50.0/GPA= 25.6/7= 3.66

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A few comments on running shoes

In short, I have gradually embraced the minimalist movement but do not see myself going any further down that road than I already have. Please take this with a grain of salt for I am in no way endorsing any brand or model as the one that everyone should be wearing. On the contrary, I believe that everyone must be pragmatic because the perfect shoe for one person could be a disaster for another.

Here's a brief history:
In the early 2000s when I was relegated to recreational running, I had custom made orthotics designed to manage tarsal tunnel syndrome that could only fit one type of shoe. At that time, it was the New Balance 991. This shoe is still around but the number may be slightly different now. It's a rather heavy shoe but offers plenty of support. Thankfully, my tarsal tunnel syndrome went away shortly after quitting Synthroid, which I was wrongly prescribed in the first place. I now wear OTC orthotics which are cheaper, just as durable and can fit almost any running shoe.
I buy all my shoes at the local running store, the Trak Shak and I recommend that all serious runners do the same because the workers are actually knowledgeable about the shoe that will work for you and seem to care much more so than department store employees. The Trak Shak sells shoes in 4 different categories:

Performance: racing flats, super lightweight but not very durable.
Neutral: lighter weight every day trainers for those with normal arches.
Stability: less flexible but provide more support for mild over pronation or supination
Control: heavy and stiff shoes, mostly tailored to heavy runners, heel strikers and severe over pronators.
In a department store, it is difficult to tell which shoe belongs in which category and you may realize after 2 or 3 runs that you spent $100 on a shoe that will not work for you.
As for me, I am a natural forefoot striker with a rather narrow foot and a high arch that easily collapses upon impact but do not over pronate or supinate . Something in between neutral and stability is the best fit for me and since I wear arch supports, I can get away with neutral more often than not. Control would be a disaster for a forefoot striker. I can use a minimalist/performance for a tempo or speed workout a couple of times a week as well as in a race but if I wear them everyday, I will eventually develop the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Still, my taste in shoes has steadily evolved toward lighter weight, more flexible options in recent years.
Here's a partial list of some of my training shoes:
Asics Gel Kayano- good support shoe but not very flexible.
Pearl Izumi Synchro Fuel- I like their slogan "Run Like an Animal." Lightweight with good support, cool design but not very durable.
Brooks Ravenna- pleased with just about everything here except the durability.
I'm wary of injury so I tend to replace my shoes perhaps more frequently than necessary. I tend to show a lot of wear in the forefoot area but the treads on the heel appear almost brand new even towards the end of their life. As I've moved towards a minimalist direction, I've tried some others in the Neutral/Performance line as follows:
Nike Lunar Elite: I didn't like these at first and almost returned them but they've grown on me since then. For some reason, I can't use the orthotics in these shoes or I'll get blisters. I still use them for walking and easy runs. Lightweight but not much forefoot support.
Nike Zoom XC- super lightweight and I thought they might be good interval and 5K shoes but they will not work for me. They provide too little support, zero cushioning and are not very flexible either. I'll probably end up giving them away.
Nike Lunar Racer- Good shoe for intervals, tempos and races. Decent durability, lightweight and flexible but not quite supportive enough. Still, I may buy another pair of these down the road.
Saucony Kinvara- Perfect for tempos, long races and okay for long intervals. Surprisingly durable and supportive given how lightweight they are. Not recommended for short intervals because the design is more for midfoot landings. Too much toe running in these is hell on the metatarsals.
Brooks Pure Cadence- Most supportive of the new Brooks minimalist line. This is my current long run shoe and thus far, I am very pleased.
One brand that I would like to try in the future is Newton. The shoes are lightweight, flexible, seem to provide decent support and are designed for a forefoot landing. The big negative is the price tag of $175. I hesitate to spend that much unless I know it's perfect for me.
My current rotation is as follows:
Easy: Nike Lunar Elite
Tempo: Saucony Kinvara
Long: Brooks Pure Cadence
Interval: Don't have one right now, Kinvara will do for 600s and above. May go back to Lunar Racers or Newton MS2 in the future.
I've seen some runners in the Vibram 5 fingers (basically a glove for feet) or even barefoot. To each his/her own but I know that would never work for me. That's a guarantee for PF and probably knee issues as well.

Edit:  The perfect shoe for me right now is on the neutral line, it may be curved slightly and must promote a midfoot or forefoot strike. Also, it should be lightweight and flexible. I don't need much heel cushioning but do need some in the forefoot.  It should have a fairly low heel-toe drop but I'm not ready for zero just yet.  I no longer need any type of orthotics as of now.
Yes, I did try the Newtons and I am a believer but like to maintain a rotation.  I still like the Lunar Racers for intervals and short tempos.  I don't like the updates on the Kinvara and have bought a pair of Karhu Fluids for long tempos.  Newtons are used for easy and long runs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My thoughts on Facebook

Like the internet itself, there is a lot of potential for good as well as bad here. I joined the site as a graduate student at Clemson back in 2004 when it was restricted to the college campus. Since then, I have accumulated roughly 440 "friends." How many of them do I talk to with any regularity? Maybe 50. Still, I like to keep tabs on people and see what some of my old friends and acquaintances are doing now. As for the good that has come out of this, I can think of several things. I have gotten in touch with a few people that I had really hoped to find. I rekindled a friendship with a high school buddy that I had not seen in more than 6 years and recently found an old running buddy that I had not seen since '98. He has since become a Christian and is inspired by my messages. I have joined and contributed to several health groups as well.  I also used facebook to help organize an annual reunion with my old high school cross-country team. Lastly, I found a girl who had stuck up for me when I was being bullied but had not seen since 9th grade. When I messaged her to say thanks, she said that it affected her so much that she started crying. It turns out that she is a runner now as well and we've talked about doing a race together.

Now, the potential for bad:
First, posts are widely read and the social network can be used as a tool for cyber bullying as well as to betray trust, spread gossip and to slander other people. For this reason, I would restrict it to those 18 and older. If a teenager insists on joining, I would suggest that his/her parents set up a facebook of their own and insist on being "friends" as a condition for allowing them to have their page. That way, the parents can view everything that their kids post and can take action in the event of anything offensive or inappropriate.

Second, in order to be facebook friends, you have to send a request to add the person as a friend. The requested friend then has the power to accept, reject or leave you hanging. You can also remove a person from your list, which is known as "unfriend" or "de-friending" as I prefer to call it. This can potentially cause hurt feelings.

I generally have a policy of no rejections and no de-friending because I don't like it when it happens to me. I may make exceptions if I get a request from somebody who is obviously not a real person or if I have a bad break up/nasty falling out with a real life friend, I would de-friend. That has not happened yet. The downside to this is that I have people on my list that I really do not care to have. I was prepared to ask someone: "We haven't seen each other in 10 years and didn't like each other in high school. Why did you add me?" I ended up just accepting them and forgetting about it. I've also gotten requests from people that I am quite sure that I have never met before. I go ahead and accept them as well because they might click on my site and either hear the Gospel or get in better health.
Have I ever been rejected or de-friended? Yes. If it's a high school or college acquaintance that I never really liked in the first place, I don't care but I've had a couple times in which I was hurt a bit. I can understand dropping someone if they post insults about you or use the news feed to push their fringe political ideology. I may post a Scripture verse, race result or random thought on occasion but I'm not a news feed hog. I almost never air my political views but do identify myself as "conservative" on my profile and yes, I was once de-friended just for that. Some people, like my sister, choose to limit their friends to those in which they are extremely close and family members. I suppose that I can respect that. However, there have also been times that I see a former classmate that I liked with 40+ mutual friends and is obviously not too choosy yet I was not good enough to make the cut. That's pretty low. I was once de-friended by a co-worker who had always been very nice to my face.   In another case, I was de-friended for no reason by someone who had recently thanked me "from the bottom of her heart" for praying for her and encouraging her.  To me, that says "I don't care about you at all."

Facebook can be an effective networking tool and can help you gain or deepen friendships that you may not otherwise have. In some cases, an old acquaintance may embrace a cause that is very important to you or share a common interest later in life. Beginning runners have asked me for advice on Facebook. Perhaps most significantly, a college acquaintance developed adrenal fatigue so I mentioned my site and we ended up talking on the phone for a half hour. We were cordial back in college but I never really thought of her as a friend, that is not until recently. That's the best example of why I don't de-friend and readily accept others. In conclusion, I still think the good outweighs the bad so if any readers want to look up the one and only Justin Zehnder, go ahead and add me. You will not be rejected.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Training 10/24-10/30

10/24- The Stress Pak should have cleared my system by now but there is still significant soreness in the groin and quads. This worries me. I will have to go to prolotherapy again before my race but I hope I can put it off until the taper. Dr. Johnson says my best hope is to get a treatment each month for 5-6 months. That will cost a lot of money but if it must be done, it must be done. I still maintain that I would not have this issue if not for the chemical imbalances but I expect my next medical report to be a lot better. I am open to taking a few months off down the road if it's necessary to fully heal. Symptoms fit the description of Gilmore's groin, which mimics a hernia but there's not actually one present. Prolotherapy is an alternative to surgery to fix this problem. Today's workout was 10 miles on Lakeshore in 78:44 (7:52 pace). Aside from the sore groin, I felt pretty decent out there. Relaxed steady pace and never put forth much effort. I planned on running Johnny's workout tomorrow but I may be relegated to all LSD this week. We'll see how it feels tomorrow then I'll reassess it.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=10.0

10/25- Worst day in more than a month. I felt like my groin was improving with stretching and easy runs but I took a step backwards today. Not surprisingly, I was crap in a speed workout. I only did 4x800 in 2:59 on South Lakeshore. On a good day, I can do 6 of them in 2:45-2:50. Then I hoped to do a 5 mile cool down at a low 8 pace. I felt decent at first but my groin gave out on me. I only did 2.5 in a depressing 21:45 (8:42 pace) and I was running 9:30 when I finished. Today sucked. I will call Dr. Johnson tomorrow. If I can't get an appointment by Veteran's Day, I am out for Arkansas.
Grade:D+/2 credits/distance=5.5

10/26- Another depressing performance. Half assed attempt at a tempo at the Shak. Finish time of 37:39 for 4.9 miles (7:41 pace) does not look too bad on the surface but if you look at the splits, it's horrible. Started off at a strong 6:30 then slowed to a 6:53 and it was all downhill from there. Mile 3 was 7:51 then I just slow jogged the remainder in 8:30-8:45 pace. I felt fine except for the extreme soreness in the groin. This feels very much like a sports hernia. Forget about any speed but I can slow jog and be okay. The good news is that I have my prolotherapy appointment on the afternoon of 11/1. I wanted to run 50 this week and I'll be lucky to do 40.
Grade:D+/1 credit/distance=5.5

10/27- Terrible day all around. I had to wait almost 4 hours to renew my car tag. I attempted to run at Veteran's Park and did one lap around the lake at junk pace and realized that I was doing more harm than good and quit. Thoughts ran through my head about being out for several months but it has now become clear that just as usual, the pills are largely to blame. I popped a 3rd Thym-Adren after I got home and had a swift negative reaction. Perhaps the groin issue would not even be there at all if the dosage was right. Why didn't I try to cut the dosage on Monday and prevent further damage? Dumb. I'm not ready to declare myself in the clear just yet. I'm still questionable for Arkansas and still need prolotherapy. Perhaps I did over reach a bit with my training but it's highly doubtful that it was the cause of all of this. I will not give up this fight now or ever. I will try again tomorrow.
Grade:Failure/0 credit/distance=1.0

10/28- Thanks for all the page views. I reduced my dosage and as I predicted, the symptoms have improved. The pain in the groin is still there but it's not debilitating.
AM- 2 miles indoors @ 6:47 pace. Mediocre performance but that's light years ahead of yesterday. I will run again this afternoon and the grade will be based on both workouts.
PM- 4 miles indoors in 27:09 (6:47 pace) again. I was shooting for goal half mary pace and did a hair better than that. I can still feel the pain in the groin but it's manageable now. Energy was pretty good but I was not 100% by any stretch. The Nike Zoom XC shoes are no good. Shoe review post will be coming soon.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0

10/29- Run with the Gnomes. I was a bit more sensible with the pace this time. I covered 17 miles in 2:08:48 (7:35 pace) but I did have a couple of extended stops. I had some left at the end this time but I could feel the groin and quads especially in the last 3 miles. Once again, the pain is noticeable but not debilitating when my dosage is right. Speaking of which, I may be stuck in the middle there. 3 is not quite enough but 4 is too many. I hope to settle on 3 soon. Still no need for manganese or chromium. YES! Pretty strong run today. I only need 5 tomorrow to reach 50 miles on the week and I may go a little beyond that. Shoe choice today was the Brooks Pure Cadence. Good call.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=17.0

10/30- Oak Mountain run with Lee. Donated the Zoom XCs and wore the Lunar Elites. Slight Garmin malfunction early. It recorded 6.07 @ 7:37 but the actual distance and pace was about 6.15 @ 7:30 then later added a cool down. 379 ft. of elevation gain and loss. Very good out there. Very little pain in the groin and this one did not even leave me hurting in the least.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=7.0

Weekly summary:
The difference in how I feel on 4 pills vs 3 is like night and day. It's very unusual to be so sensitive and it's making me feel uneasy. At least the downward trend is gradual and this beats the hell out of the instability that I had over the summer. After a terrible start to the week, I rebounded with a strong weekend but it was not enough to continue the streak of 4 straight weeks above a 3.0 but I was very pleased with my mileage.
Distance=52.0/GPA= 24.3/9= 2.70

Monday, October 17, 2011

Training 10/17-10/23

10/17- Naked 3 mile recovery jog at Veteran's Park on a beautiful evening. I'm not looking forward to the end of daylight savings time. The run itself was uneventful and I could not care less about the pace. I did have some sudden GI discomfort shortly afterwards. I cheated badly on my diet after the race and it was probably the sugar and/or caffeine that did it. A one day lapse will not do any long-term harm. The power gel did not seem to upset my stomach during the race but I do think it's possible that it hurt me a bit. From now on, I will stick to water and Gatorade for fuel.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=3.0

10/18- Easy 8 on Lakeshore in 61:56 (7:45 pace). I would have liked to have gone double digits today but I just did not feel safe doing it. Pretty solid performance and my effort was smooth and relaxed all the way. Got the workout in just before a big cold front hit. A little bit of IT band soreness but it is of no concern. I hope that I will be up for a tempo tomorrow.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=8.0

10/19- First taste of winter outside today (50 degrees and windy) but I was a new definition of RED HOT! Trak Shak 5 in 31:22 (6:17 pace). I did have to stop a couple of times for traffic but it was no worse than usual. Energy was unlimited. Even a 6:30 pace felt somewhat relaxed and I think I actually had more in the tank at the end. Splits were as follows:
6:17-6:19-6:19-6:24-6:02. Covered a 5K in approx. 19:30 en route. I believe that I had sub-40 stuff for a 10K but I will probably still focus on the half mary in November.
Grade:A+/2 credits/distance=6.0

10/20- AM run in an attempt to keep the MO going. Easy indoor 5 in 37:43 (7:33 pace). I would have liked to have done more but I didn't want to be late for work. Got in the groove in Mile 2 and turned in a 7:24 split but made a conscious effort to slow down after that. 1st half: 18:45, 2nd half: 18:58. Only gripe was a bit of groin soreness. Strong.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=5.0

10/21- Planned rest day that is more of a precaution against over training. I have a big weekend planned so mileage in the mid-40s will be fine following a race week. Since my long run is Saturday and the race was last Sunday, my 7 day mileage will be over 50.

10/22- Long run with the Gnomes. I was dumb enough to run with Brad, Eric and David. Not real smart after coming off 2 HMs in 3 weeks. 1st 3 were on target in the 7:40s then ripped off 9 with the fast group at a 7:20 average pace. With 4 miles to go, I finally fell off the pace and continued alone. Miles 13-16 were 7:28-7:41-7:57-7:11. Not much left at the end. Overall time was a 1:59:32 for 16 miles (7:28 pace) with a 714 ft. elevation gain. Pretty significant soreness in the groin and quads at the end. Not as strong as the previous LR but still solid overall.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=16.0

10/23- Brookwood/Lakeshore run. Easy 7 in 55:44 (7:58 pace). It was not a big surprise that I struggled today. I feel that the groin/quad soreness is at least partly related to taking too many Stress Pak pills. I will cut those out entirely. The run started off pretty well with a first half near 27 flat then faded to a 28:44. Weak all around.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=7.0

Weekly summary:
Strong week overall. Outstanding tempo and a solid long run. I only have 3 weeks of quality training left before my final race of the year and would like to average 50 miles over that time. Paces have got to slow to do that. On a side note, I have already topped my 2010 mileage this year. With 10 weeks to go, I have clinched a GPA higher than last year as well.
Distance=45.0/ GPA= 27.7/8= 3.46

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Columbus Half RR

Following my strong effort in Montgomery, I put in a 50 mile week which was followed by a steep taper. I ran little-nothing in the 3 days before the big day. Although this was technically my 3rd sub-1:30 attempt, it was the first time I approached the race believing that I had a realistic chance. As far as the pills, I had some drama this week as my dosage is trending down. I am more stable now and have not flipped from one extreme to the other but remain quite sensitive. A single pill, whether too many or too few would make a big difference.

It's a 9 hour drive to Columbus and that's about as far as I'll go via car. I would have preferred Cincy the following week but my buddy Nick could not get off work and this was our only chance to do a race together this year. This was my first Ohio race experience and my 11th state overall. The goal is to run at least a half in at least 25 states. I worked a half day on Friday and looking back, I probably should have taken the whole day off. The trip was somewhat stressful. I got caught in the Nashville rush hour and lost an hour due to the time zone difference. I made it just past Louisville on Friday night, about 3 hours from Columbus. I slept in until 9 AM then hit the road and stopped at a Pizza Hut Express just past Cincy. I arrived at the airport to pick up Nick with only about 30 minutes to spare. Then, we headed to the expo. I made a wrong turn and got caught in a bottleneck on the way. Fortunately, that would be the last of the drama. We treated ourselves to a dry rub Ribeye, settled in the room and watched our Clemson Tigers win a thriller over Maryland. Race morning went without a hitch.
Despite some anxiety over the exact right dosage, I felt good warming up and the attempt was on. My plan was to go out at 6:50 pace and hold it right there. If I had anything left, with 4 miles to go, I would let it loose but anticipated a painful finish. We were off right on time and I was feeling nice and loose but my Garmin was acting up again. Every time I looked down at my watch, I saw a pace around 4:30 and it was not slowing down. No way! This can't be right or else I'd be in the lead and running away with it. I asked a few people what the pace was and nobody answered so I would have to run it by feel until I saw a Mile marker. Finally, the watch said that I was slowing down after about a half mile. By the end of the Mile, my watch read 7:28. If that's accurate, it's way too slow. Pick it up a little but don't try to make it up in one Mile. I did see the 2nd Mile marker and an official clock time just under 13:40. I knew that 1st Mile was faster than that. Fine, I'm just a hair ahead of pace now and the Garmin would be fairly accurate from here to the finish. My only concern was that I was feeling some tightness in the calf muscles. That's not a good sign and often means that my dosage is just a bit too high. Outside of that, I still felt pretty well and decided to just keep up this pace for as long as I could. By Mile 4, it was clear that I was going to finish well. How well? Good enough to break 1:30? Under 1:31? At least a PR, I hope? By the end of Mile 5, I noticed that my pace had slipped just a tad and I was now just a couple ticks slower than 1:30 pace. Some downhill was ahead and I made the decision to make a bit of a push here in Mile 6 and turned in a strong 6:45 split. At the 10K mark, I was around 42:40 and I remember not too long ago, that would have been a PR at that distance and unofficially, I was almost exactly 45 flat at the point in which I figured that I was halfway home. Oh man, it's going to be close. This could come down to the last 5K or even the final sprint. Will I find some extra strength this time or fade once again after 9 Miles? The course was one of the flatter ones that I've done but it's no pancake. There were 3 fairly significant inclines in the 2nd half. None was steep enough to break your will but it certainly slowed the pace by a few seconds. The first of these came just after the halfway point and at this time, I began to realize that it's unlikely that I can hold this pace all the way through the 2nd half. Pride kicked in however and I thought to myself: I will remember today for years to come and I want to look back and know that I did not lose heart and I did not stop fighting. The 7th and 8th miles came and my pace remained below 7 minutes. I may be a few seconds down now but if I can find something in the last Mile, I can make it up. Unfortunately, near the end of Mile 9, I could tell that my body was tightening up and my form began to falter. I took a power gel hoping to gain a 2nd wind but it did not seem to be very effective. By the end of Mile 10, the official clock was over 69 minutes and my pace had slipped to the 7:10 range. The dream ends here and I would have to hang tough just to beat my 1:31:32 from 2 weeks earlier. Fortunately, there was no monster hill in Mile 11 here. It was just another mild incline and to my relief,I would not suffer a ghastly fade in which my pace slowed considerably each subsequent mile. I managed to show some heart and kept the pace steady in Mile 11 and 12. With one mile to go, I was in very good shape to PR but I wanted a sub-1:31. Most of the last Mile was slightly downhill and despite the fact that my body had been pushed to its limit, I managed to pick up the pace a bit. One final incline and then, we turned to the finish, heading slightly downhill. After passing the 13 Mile mark, it appeared that I needed about 5:00 pace to break 1:31. Oh, I'm going for it! I got on my toes and sprinted as hard as I could but it was not quite enough. I crossed the line with no disappointment at all in an official time of 1:31:02.
Garmin splits:
6:58* (6:58) estimated
6:42 (13:40) don't try to make it up all at once.
6:53 (20:33) right on pace
6:56 (27:29) just a tad slow
6:54 (34:23) nice and steady
6:45 (41:08) slightly downhill, back ahead of pace
6:54 (48:02) almost exactly 45 at the halfway mark.
6:58 (55:00) uphill, can I find something in the last 5K?
6:51 (61:51) back downhill, hoped for a better split, power gel.
7:09 (69:00) can't solve the 10th Mile issue.
7:09 (76:09) may have to fight for a small PR.
7:05 (83:14). PR is mine but sub-1:31 looks tough.
6:48 (90:02) Need a huge kick.
1:00* (1:31:02). estimated at .17- last .09 was 5:28 pace
Official chip time: 1:31:02, Pace: 6:57, Age group: 31/584
Final thought:
I had to take a shot at THE goal and I paced it almost perfectly. I just didn't quite have it in me today. I don't feel that I had my absolute "A+ stuff either" and I came within 5 seconds/mile. I know that I am capable right now. Once again, I could not clear the hurdle of Mile 10-12 and must get the mileage up to 45-50 MPW consistently. I will take one more shot this year in Arkansas next month and have decided to skip the 10K in November because I feel that my chances of a sub-40 are slim and I would have to sacrifice a long run. If I fall short in Arkansas, then barring injury, I can expect to do it in Austin (Jan 2012).
Congrats to Nick for setting a PR of 1:51 flat. That last minute is yours for the taking.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Training 10/10-10/16 (race week)

10/10- Elective rest day as part of my taper. I did not feel well today and was glad that I had the day off for Columbus Day. I feel as if it's a combination of over-reaching with my training and perhaps too much Stress Pak pills. I should be fresh tomorrow.

10/11- Johnny's workout was a fairly laid back affair. I made it short and sweet but kept the paces up to my standards. 3x600 and 3x400. 600s in 1:57 and 400s were 77-76-67. Not a bad workout but I was expecting a little better. In each interval, I started strong and faded towards the end. In the 600s, I was out in 56 every time then was over 60 on the 2nd half. In the last 400, I saw a 31 at 200 and was hoping for a 64 or even 63 but faded to a 67.6 at the finish. When it comes to the Mile and 5K, I've got the raw speed but when it comes to strength (short distance endurance), I showed today that I am lacking. It appears that I need to reduce the Thym-Adren dosage and a negative reaction this evening confirmed it. An adjustment on a race week again? I wouldn't have it any other way. Overall, a decent workout and if this is a low point, I can feel pretty good about it.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=4.0

10/12- I cut the Thym-Adren from 8 pills to 6 and it was still too much. There is now a trace of concern. If I settle between 2-4, I'll be fine. If I have to quit this stuff and go back on thyroid caps or manganese, that's a BIG problem. My next medical report will not be for another 6-8 weeks. I'll try to cut it to 4 tomorrow and see how that goes. I'll need a small test so it may cut into my planned rest time.
Much of the excess had cleared my system by the evening and I had a pretty strong effort out there. The plan was to run the first 4 near goal race pace (6:45-6:50) then burn a sub-6 5th mile. The first mile was a nearly effortless 6:30 but my calf muscles turned to lead and my body was too tight by Mile 2 and I slowed to the low 6:40s then allowed myself to relax a bit and came through Mile 4 ahead of schedule at 26:43 (6:41 pace). Mile 5 was a solid 6:07 with a strong closing kick. I would have liked to have seen a 6:00 but I'll take it. With a steady 6:50 in the first 4, I think I could have done it. Overall time was a solid 32:50 (6:34 pace).
As for Columbus, the plan is to go out at 6:52 and hold it. No faster than 6:50 until Mile 9.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=6.0

10/13- Not a good day. I only took 3 pills in the morning (5 in last 24 hrs). That's down from a peak of 9 pills. Once again, 5 was still too many pills and the dosage must be cut further. Race day is only 3 days away so it's the ususal drama. This time, I ran in the morning so I left no time for it to clear my system. The workout was a junk run as planned. 1 Mile in 7:42 indoors. First 3/4 in 5:59 then got down to goal half pace in the last quarter. Sluggish and stiff and it's not because of my training. Nothing but untimed strides until Sunday.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=1.5

10/14- Elective rest day. I hope to feel sharp enough to race one day before the actual event. I only took 1 pill when I woke up and though it wasn't quite enough, it was not far off. I hope to settle on 3/day until further notice. Maybe I'll do a junk run tomorrow. Plan is to leave the Ham early afternoon and get up to the Louisville/Cincy area.

10/15- Junk run on the hotel treadmill. Uneventful workout. Kept the pace just over 8 then allowed a very short pick up. Total distance amounted to just under 1.5 miles. Just enough to keep the legs warm. Today was a bit more stressful than I would have liked. I only made it to northern Kentucky last night because I hit the Nashville rush hour. Part of me wishes I took the whole day off work on Friday. I had to drive nearly 3 hours to Columbus, pick up Nick at the airport, then got in a traffic jam on the way to the expo. As far as the pills are concerned, 3/day will not do and 5 is too much. I will go with 4 tomorrow and hope for the best. My confidence is still fairly high but I'm not sure that I "like my chances" of a sub-1:30 at the moment.
Grade:Pass/0 credit/distance=1.5

10/16- Columbus half marathon in 1:31:02 PR.
Grade:A-/4 credits/distance=15.0

Weekly summary:
Strong week despite some drama with the pills. Can't be disappointed with a PR but with the easier course, my performance was about even with 2 weeks earlier in Monty. I'm skipping the 10K in November so that means that my only remaining official race will be the White River half though I do want a 5K time trial.
Distance= 28.0/ GPA= 3.36

Monday, October 3, 2011

Training 10/3-10/9

10/3- MLR on Lakeshore. 10 miles in 76:19 (7:38 pace). That's a 3:20 marathon pace. Allowed pace to slow a bit in the last 2 miles. Interestingly, I had plenty of energy today but my muscles were VERY sore, especially the IT band and I've been doing a lot of stretching. I must go slower tomorrow. No speed work this week. I just want good mileage here which will be followed by a steep taper with little-nothing next week. A quick nugget about Saturday's half: According to runworks, my projected time on a level course is 1:30:26 and that does not take into account the many turns and curves, which also slowed me down a bit. If all goes perfectly in Columbus, I really believe that I've got a shot. Let's hope the IT band feels better tomorrow or I will be concerned.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=10.0

10/4- Almost a carbon copy of yesterday but shorter. This time I parked at South Lakeshore and did the extension first. 7 miles in 53:03 (7:35 pace) plus a half mile cool. Once again, I was out fast but settled into my base pace by Mile 2. The IT band is still a bit sore but it's holding up. I'm continuing the stretches and in addition to Thym-Adren, I've added a small amount of Stress Pak. The reaction seems to be both positive and stabilizing. I don't feel as terrible if I don't take the mega dose of Thym-Adren. Again, this workout was faster than I planned and I expect Lee will be out to hurt me tomorrow. This could be rough but I've got a shot at 50 this week.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=7.5

10/5- Trak Shak 7 loop in 47:51 (6:50 pace). Strong tempo effort on tired legs. Lee killed me and I'm afraid that I may not be able to run with him for much longer. He's got a sub-3 marathon in him in the near future. I do think he was a bit fresher than I was. Faded on Mile 6 and those of you from B'ham that know this loop can guess why but bounced back with a sub-7 in Mile 7. This was comparable to my 8 mile loop in 54:50 this Spring so I'll take it. 50 miles this week is looking realistic. IT band pain has diminished and it may be as a result of the Stress Pak. 11 days until Columbus and I ran sub-1:30 pace today. Hit 1,600 on the year.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=7.5

10/6- AM- Indoor 5 mile in 38:35 (7:43 pace). I'm fine with this one. I am appropriately sore and tired today. All I need is a good long run and basic easy run on Sunday and I will hit 50. Not too glamourous today but this week is more like what marathon training looks like.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=5.0

10/7- Planned rest day. I am well on my way to consecutive 3.0+ weeks for the first time since late June. As for the 10K in the first week of November, my gut feeling is to skip it but if I break 1:30 in Columbus or get that 5K PR, I may decide to go for it. Hoping to get 15 tomorrow. No bizarre dreams. I've had some sugar cravings recently but I've stayed strong with the exception of a couple mini pieces of candy. I ate a ton yesterday too but I needed it. I've been off soda a month now and I feel good. Since 9/21, I've had no sweet tea and only 2 days with any beer.

10/8- Terriffic long run with the Gnomes. Ran mostly with David and Caitlin for the first 10 then nobody wanted to run my pace anymore. 15 miles in 1:51:45 (7:27 pace). Not including the warmup mile in 8:45, the average pace was a 7:21. I may pay for this one down the road but my objective was to solve the last 5K of the half mary. In Idaho and Montgomery, I faded after Mile 9 and that must not happen in Columbus. Last 6 miles today were as follows:
7:14-7:16-7:08-7:15-7:17-6:18. That last mile is NOT a typo either. Got a shot at it now.
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=15.0

10/9- Lakeshore 5 in 36:46 (7:21 pace). I am officially on fire. I was doing 7:15s comfortably until I allowed the pace to slow in the last 1.3 miles and that was partly because it was slightly uphill. No problem at all after yesterday. I was only mildly sore.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=5.0

Weekly summary:
Red hot all week long. 3rd week out of the last 4 that I finished above 3.5 and my yearly cumulative has finally climbed above 3.0 for the first time. Can I stay hot for another week? If so, I like my chances in Columbus. Average pace was 7:26 for 50 miles.
Distance=50.0/ GPA=33.5/9= 3.72 (highest of the year)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Monty half marathon RR

Not much different than my usual. High quality with an average weekly mileage just over 40. After an extremely unstable summer, I finally felt a breakthrough after I completely eliminated soda, sweet tea and beer from my diet. The results have been so profound that I intend to keep this diet with the possible exception of social gatherings.

The race starts at 7:00 AM and I figured the drive in to town would be over an hour plus I would need time to park, pick up my packet, warm up and perhaps tinker a bit with the pills. For these reasons, I chose to stay in a hotel that was just out the door from the starting line. If this had been simply a local 5K or 10K, I would have driven it race morning. I lived in Montgomery from August '06-May '09 and this trip alllowed me to check out some of my old hang outs again and reflect on my time there. I have some good memories and some not so good ones but I won't get into that now. Anticipating a minimal expo, I made a couple of stops at gas stations to find what I needed for the morning, a Power Bar and Powerade zero to keep my sugar consumption to a minimum. I picked up dinner at another old hang out in Millbrook and headed to the hotel. It was right around 6:00 so I ate quickly and walked to the minor league baseball stadium just before the expo closed at 7:00. I caught up on my phone calls then went to bed at 10:00 and actually slept fairly well. I did wake up before the alarm at 5:15, took the pills that I needed and headed out the door. Weather was near perfect. 50s at the start and near 60 at the finish with clear skies and light winds. I felt good warming up and was primed for a PR. Sub-1:30? Very difficult especially on a moderately hilly course. My official PR was 1:32:49 in Chattanooga back at the end of February but I did run a time that I believed to be a PR in May in Idaho but there was a question as to the true length of the course. If nothing else, I wanted to put that question to rest and finish below 1:31:57 (my 13.1 time via Garmin in Idaho)

Pretty scenic route that showcased some of the better parts of the city (Monty has some rough areas). Miles 1-2 were mostly a gradual climb then 3-10 were flat-gently rolling with slightly more downs than ups but Mile 11 would be nasty. However, if I could survive that still feeling halfway decent, I could gun it in the last 2 because it was downhill then level to the finish. The plan was to go out conservative then try to hold 1:30 pace through the middle, survive the hill and kick it in hard. I was out a little faster than planned but not so bad that I would be doomed in the later stages. The first 2 miles each passed by in 6:55 via Garmin though the true pace was likely closer to 7:00. Just like Idaho, the course would be measured 2 tenths too long but in this case, the mile markers were pretty much on target (1.01-1.02) almost every time and the course did have a lot of turns so I will not question the length this time. Miles 3-4 were largely a shallow decline and thoroughly enjoyable as we went through a small park before heading on a main road. Here, the Garmin splits hovered right around 6:40 and despite feeling very strong, I was a bit concerned about going too fast. Mile 5 had more rollers through the Alabama State campus and the student band was out playing music for us. That was a nice touch. Again, I managed another 6:40 split but it may have cost me as the pace would gradually slow over the next few miles. Perhaps I could have held it but I was wary because I had heard horror stories about Mile 11, which was fast approaching. In Mile 6, I pulled up alongside another runner who also had a 1:30 goal and we ran nearly stride for stride for much of the next 3 miles. I managed to hold a sub-7 pace through Mile 8 and 9 and 10 were just a shade over the barrier. The course highlight here was Huntington College, where a friend of mine had recently graduated. According to the official clock at Mile 10, my time was just over 69 minutes, well ahead of PR pace and still on target for a sub-1:30 (barely). I knew I would lose it going up the hill but could I make it up on the downhill. Heading up the hill, I passed the man that had kept me company for nearly 4 miles and though I could feel my energy fading rapidly, the pace was still respectable. Unfortunately, there would be no downhill immediately following the climb. It merely leveled off and the small decline that we did get barely helped at all. Then, we went back up another small hill and the downhill did not begin until the Garmin read 11.1 miles. 2 miles to go now and I figured that the course would be measured around 13.2 so after a quick calculation, I figured that I need to do a 6:30 for each of the last 2 miles and finish strong. I had done faster than that at Statue 2 Statue but on this course, the downhill would be more gradual and I was pretty much spent. My pace increased to the 6:40s but no faster. At this point, I wanted a sub-1:31 but I was pretty much content with the PR. Once the terrain leveled off, I faded again to the low-7 range. To make matters worse, the 12 Mile mark did not come until the Garmin read 12.17. This could be another race measured at 13.3. Now, a mid-1:31 was looking acceptable but there was no doubt that I would PR. With a tenth of a mile to go, I was still under 1:31 officially and we made one last turn into the baseball stadium. It was a respectable finish but nothing special and I crossed the line offiicially at 1:31:32. I was quite pleased with this result.
Garmin splits: (probably should add 5 seconds to each to make it more accurate)
6:55 (6:55)
6:55 (13:50)
6:40 (20:30)
6:39 (27:09)
6:40 (33:49)
6:44 (40:33)
6:47 (47:20)
6:54 (54:14)
7:02 (61:16)
7:00 (68:16)
7:15 (75:31) uphill
6:54 (82:26) downhill
7:05 (89:31)
2:01 (1:31:32) last .32
My new running buddy Lee aka the Caucasian Kenyan ran a great race in 1:29:51. Way to go Lee. You have now earned that nickname. I broke my rule and had some beer at the finish and took in the atmosphere. As long as I limit it to special occasions and keep the consumption to a minimum, it should not hurt me. Next, I showered, checked out of my hotel and headed down to the awards ceremony, where much to my surprise, I placed third in my age group and got a nice plaque to take home. Another bit of good luck happened on my drive home. I punctured a tire and as soon as I noticed the problem, I saw a Quick Lube place just across the street and got it patched up for just $10. Great day all around.
Final thought:
Not only did I PR, I averaged a sub-7 pace for the first time ever. Am I in sub-1:30 shape on a flatter course? I doubt it but I'm certainly good for a 1:30:xx. It was not a brutal fade at the end but I just don't think 40 MPW is quite enough to achieve the goal. I need at least 45 with a regular 15 mile long run sustained over 2-3 months. I've got the Columbus half in 15 days, which is a faster course. After that, there is one question. Do I race a 10K in November and take a shot at sub-40 (current PR is 40:28 solo) or just focus on increasing the mileage with fewer races? I'd like to get in a 5K time trial in cooler weather that will give me a better idea of my sub-40 chances. I had originally planned a full marathon in November but will downgrade it to the half because of insufficient mileage. The half that I really have my eye on is the 3M (Jan 2012) in Austin, TX, which is a blazing fast course with very few turns and nearly twice as much downhill as uphill. That's my best hope.
Grade: I'll be a little lenient and call this one a solid A because it's a PR.