Monday, February 27, 2012

Mini slump and explanation

The week of 2/20-2/27 was not a very good one for me training wise. Most observers would simply write it off as part of the marathon recovery but I know better. After Fargo, I took only one rest day the following week and actually PR'd at 5 Miles less than 2 weeks later. After Huntsville, I only needed one rest day then proceeded to run 40 miles the next week. This time, I took a whole week off as a planned break then managed only 34 miles while feeling sub-par in all of my workouts. It felt like I was operating at 95% and based on my workout times, that sounds about right. Even without interval training, I should have been near 5:30 in the Mile. Instead, I ran a 5:48 (about 5% off). I'm normally good for a mid-33 in a 5 Mile tempo but could barely manage a sub-35. Again, that's about 5% off time wise. None of those workouts, with the exception of Tuesday's debacle (2 miles in 16:32) would be enough to raise a red flag on their own but a string of yellow flags serves the same purpose. The best miler in the world runs about 3:45. A 5% drop off would result in a 3:56, the difference between #1 in the world and barely world class. In my case, it's a 15-20 second drop off and someone who saw me running reported that I looked tired and did not have the ususal spring in my step.

Let's go back to the Mercedes Marathon. I believed that before the race I was capable of a 3:15ish even on a moderately difficult course. Several times on the race report, I made reference to "not having my best stuff." In truth, that was likely the beginning of the slump but the decline was too insignificant to really notice. If I was operating at 98% as I claim, it would have cost me 4 minutes. Add that to the fact that I really did not give my all in the last 4 miles and it was windy at times. If I had raced Mercedes the day of 3 M two weeks earlier at 100%, 3:15 or 3:16 sounds about right. On the other hand, if I raced 3M at 98%, I would have been just over 1:30 instead of a low 1:28. Given the choice between an A+ performance in the full or the half, I would have chosen the latter.

This really does bode well for my BQ attempt in 2014. I missed the standard by 12 minutes but left 1 on the course and had 4 stolen from me. If I'm in tip top form and race a faster downhill course, I figure that I only need about 3-4 minutes worth of gains in fitness to have a realistic chance at a sub-3:10. I ran 2,092 miles in the previous calendar year. If I can get that up to 2,400-2,500 (6-8 more MPW), I really believe that I can do it. I sure hope so because I want to retire from marathons and would treat Boston like a fun run.

What if I left this problem alone? 98% two weeks ago turned into 95%, which would turn into 90% within the next 2 weeks. I'd struggle for a 6:00 mile and and it would take a hard tempo effort to run my usual easy pace. Before the diagnosis, I insisted that a sharp decline in my performances was evidence of a serious medical condition. Now, I still must stay on top of my situation and running remains the most effective barometer.

I believe that my magnesium is low relative to my calcium and early signs point to that being correct. I will have to take a new Cal/Mag supplement with a 1:1 ratio instead of 2:1. Again, I can live with that and it's nothing compared to what I've been through as recently as last summer. I still have a reason to hope that if I miss a dose every now and then, it won't hurt me and yes, God is still able to set me free.

Training 2/27-3/4

2/27- AM- Moderate effort 3 Mile in 20:52 (6:57 pace). Felt comfortable until the last 200, which was run in 44 seconds. Splits were 7:05-7:00-6:47. Added a half mile cool. Knee and groin pain have diminished thanks to the magnesium but some damage has been done. Energy is just about back to normal.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=3.5

PM- Easy Lakeshore 6.5 in 47:15 (7:17 pace). Slight slowdown towards the end but that was by design. Welcome back Crazy J! The slump is officially over. Smooth long strides today, no trace of knee pain and just a bit of groin soreness. Felt fresh today because of the low mileage over the past 2 weeks. May try a speed session tomorrow. Magnesium has worked.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=6.5.

2/28- Johnny's workout. 6x400, 2x800. 400s were 78, 800s were 2:48 for an overall pace of about 5:22. Performance was good but not great. A bit more groin soreness but the knee was fine. I may have gone too far with the magnesium. Decent energy but not quite top form. Long warm and cool.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=6.0

2/29- Trak Shak 5 at tempo effort in 32:38 (6:31 pace) and beat the rain. Strong effort esp. after Johnny's workout. This will likely be my last quality session of the week. I'd like to do some 200s but am not sure if I can fit them in my schedule when the weather is iffy. Good balance of calcium and magnesium. Even pace (16:12-16:26). Mile 4 is always a little slow because of the hills and sidewalk cracks but I had a nice rebound and held a good pace after feeling uncomfortable early. 1 Mile cool.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=6.0

3/1- Easy 5 on Lakeshore in 37:40 (7:32 pace). 1st half was 18:45, 2nd half was 18:55. Very pleased with how strong I felt coming off back to back quality days. Could have gone longer but am concerned about the mileage. I don't want to go much over 45 this cycle. This would have been a rest day but I did not want to waste a good weather day (70 degrees). Stormy tomorrow then colder over the weekend. Took a 1:1 ratio of calcium/magnesium so it will work. No knee pain and minimal groin soreness.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=5.0

3/2- Planned rest day. Still feel good but it would not be wise to push it today. Let's hope the storms aren't so bad here. Looking for 14ish tomorrow.

3/3- 14 as planned. Slept in and ran solo on the 5 and 9er route from the Shak. Time was 1:45:06 (7:30 pace). Split decision about this one. Felt great for the first 8 (58:40) then the final 6 was an ugly 46:26 that included Mile 13 at over 8 minutes. Still not bad overall as far as pace but the way I felt was not good. Probably just a bit of an off day.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=14.0

3/4- Hoped to run an easy 5 but I was done after only 3 in 23:42 (7:54 pace). Another steady decline in pace (7:43-7:52-8:07) then quit. No 200s this afternoon either. It's windy anyway. Paid the price for too much quality earlier in the week. I expect that since this is essentially a rest day, I'll come back fresh tomorrow.

PM- Felt better as the day progressed and ran a smooth junk 2 at Vestavia to make up the difference. Time was 14:41 (7:19-7:22). That makes it a total of 5 in 38:23 (7:41 avg), which is not too horrible. The afternoon session brings the grade up from a D- to a C-.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=5.0

Weekly summary:
Even though it ended on a sour note, this was still a positive week overall. The mileage total was my highest since week 2 of the year and every week above a 3.0 is a good one. Hoping to do short intervals next week while cutting either the tempo or long intervals and I want the long run to be 16ish.
Distance=46.0/GPA= 33.1/10= 3.31

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rookie quarterbacks

Okay, my favorite athlete, Tim Tebow, just got dissed again. This time, it was by his own teammate, Brady Quinn (a 3rd string scrub). Quinn got a fair chance to start in Cleveland and he sucked. True, he didn't have much talent around him but based on his prior results, he should consider himself lucky to have a job in the NFL at all. Quinn also questioned Tebow's character, most notably the sincerity of his prayers on the sideline. Say what you want about his play at quarterback but do NOT attack his character, especially his faith in Jesus. Tebow's a man who truly "talks the talk" and "walks the walk." He spents much of his free time visiting sick and disabled children and praying with them. Much of the money that he earns goes overseas to missionaries. He's done more good in the past year than most of us will do in a lifetime.
This past year, we saw Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have considerable success as rookies. Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger also had immediate success but that has not always been the case. Here are some ugly stats from rookie-2nd year QBs within the last 25 years. All of whom developed into Hall of Famers:

John Elway- 47% comp. , 7 TD, 14 INT, 54.7 rating

Troy Aikman- 52% comp., 9 TD, 18 INT, 55.7 rating, 1-15 record

Peyton Manning- 28 INT, 71.2 rating, 3-13 record

Steve Young 11 TD, 21 INT

This next group may not be hall of fame worthy but have certainly gone on to have successful careers in the NFL:

Eli Manning- 48% comp, 6 TD, 9 INT 55.4 rating, 1-6 record

Testaverde- 47% comp, 13 TD, 35 INT, 48.8 rating

McNabb- 49% comp, 60.1 rating

Vick- 44% comp, 62.7 rating

Now, just how terrible has Tim Tebow been in his first 14 starts?

The 47% completion rate is pretty bad but it's on par with many hall of famers when they were rookies. However, in a close game, he made the conscious decision many times to throw it wide of the mark when the receiver was covered. Another quarterback might try to force it and end up with more completions but is also willing to accept more interceptions. Tebow has thrown only 9 interceptions against 17 touchdown passes. His career QB rating is 75.1, higher than Peyton Manning's through 14 starts. He has also rushed for 887 yards with 12 more touchdowns. More importantly, he has an 8-6 record as a starter in the regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs. With Kyle Orton starting, Denver went 4-14 over the same time period. Is Tebow a future Hall of Famer? Probably not. A decent starter who wins more than he loses? I think so. An inspirational leader who can elevate his team's play? Most definitely.
God bless you Tim. All the best to you next year and beyond.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Training 2/20-2/26

Marathon Recovery Update:
I could have run a few shake out miles on the 3rd day after the race if I chose to do so. By the 5th day, I was ready to roll again but I will stick with my plan to take the whole week off. I have not had more than 2 consecutive days off since October 2010 so it's definitely a good call to take a planned break to guard against burnout. I did have one rough day on Thursday but I attribute that to cheating on my diet BADLY after the race. If I go back to heavy sugar and caffeine consumption on a regular basis, it won't be long until I am unstable again.

Next round of racing:
3/31- Rumpshaker 5K (local)
4/7- Crescent City 10K (New Orleans)
4/28- Kentucky Derby half (Louisville)
The 5K is most important to me at this stage.

2/20- My first day back after any layoff, even a short one, is usually a little rough. This one was worse than usual. 3 miles on the track in 22:48 (7:36 pace). Started off in the 7:20s then it was a slow fade from there. By the end of Mile 3, I was working for a 7:45 so I decided to pack it in. Calf muscles felt like lead and knees were aching as well. It's only the first day and with no races looming, there is no need to panic yet. There is an explanation. My protein drink contained chromium, which has caused me trouble in the past. This is the longest streak of good health that I've had but I'm not bulletproof. Today has re-awakened my fears of a relapse.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=3.0

PM- Vestavia Mile in 5:48.4 (best time of the year). Partial clearing in my system but still not feeling too good. The sore knee is officially a concern now. I may need more prolo. I will also ask my doctor if there's anything to keep my Na and K levels from going up without affecting my thyroid. Under a normal grading scale, this is a 67 (5:15+33 secs) but I get 10 bonus points because I'm fresh off a break. Splits were good (87-88-89-84) for a negative split. Added a cool down.
Grade:C+/2 credits/distance=2.0

2/21- Woke up feeling terrible then took Paramin and felt much worse. Hoped for some clearing by the evening but it didn't happen. 2 miles indoors in 16:32 (8:16 pace). This was as fast as I could go today. Splits were 8:11-8:21 and to put that in perspective, my slowest mile in the marathon was Mile 25 at 8:19. It is clear that Paramin is the problem. Do I cut it out entirely or do I need 2 pills/day? This is not good. I can only hope that it will be better tomorrow. God is able.
Grade:F/1 credit/distance=2.0

2/22- No pills today. Felt much better. Trak Shak 5 in 34:55 (6:59 pace). Tempo effort, which was still about 20 seconds slower per Mile. Significant fade in Mile 4 and still sluggish but probably my best run since the marathon. Knee was fine, groin was sore. Lenient grading because this was a planned easy day. Dreamed that I met a childhood friend and his sister at an airport. In real life, this person does not even have a sister. I forgot to pay for lunch and got on a plane to St. Louis instead of Birmingham. LOL.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=5.0

2/23- Easy 6 indoors (very strong wind). Time was 45:43 (7:36 pace). Even pace through Mile 5 then closed with a strong 7:28 without any additional effort. Pretty solid performance. Felt somewhat like my old self by Mile 6. Took 1/2 a Paramin last night and my body tightened up. It looks like I don't need that stuff anymore. Has God done it again? I still may be low on magnesium but I like being free at least for now. Maybe a pot shot at the 400 tomorrow but realistically, I don't expect to be much below 70.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=6.0

2/24- Pot shot at the 400 as planned at Vestavia. My time was 67.8 (best of the year), which was in line with my low-balled expectations. Chopping off 8 seconds really seems daunting right now but I had several factors holding me back. No spikes, less than ideal weather (55 w/ 15mph wind) and no event specific training since last summer. Perhaps the 6 miler yesterday took something out of me as well. No pills. The groin and knee were fine warming up but the knee stiffened a bit after the 400. I think I am capable of a low-mid 65 under perfect conditions. Sprinters like it warm and dry with no headwinds. The 400 is a tough race. As you're coming around the final turn, you're giving it all you've got but can't go any faster because your legs feel like jello. At least today gives me a baseline of where I am and how much work must be done. The real training starts next week. 1/2 mile warm and a 5 lap cool.
Grade:B-/2 credits/distance=2.0

2/25- Gnome run today. 10 miles in 77:18 (7:44 pace). Felt decent through Mile 7 then just died. Groin was killing me and Mile 10 was worse than Mile 25 of the marathon. I was sore all over and it does NOT feel like natural fatigue. Perhaps I did too many fast runs this week. Then again, they were all short. I want to give magnesium a shot. I may need prolo.
Grade:C/2 credits/distance=10.0

2/26- Short tempo. 3 miles in 19:36 (6:32 pace). Splits were 6:36-6:35-6:25. I think I could have gone sub-20 for 5K if I raced this all out. As soon as I took the magnesium yesterday, I knew that help was on the way. I will probably need a different Cal/Mag supplement with a 1:1 ratio. Again, I sure hope it does not evolve into x pills/day or else.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=4.0

Weekly summary:
Pretty ugly overall this week. I felt like I was operating at 90% for much of the week. One sub-par performance is not a big deal. When it becomes a pattern, it is. No real red flags this week except for Tuesday but almost all the rest of them were yellow flags. Is magnesium the answer? A simple mineral deficiency can really cause a big problem. More on that later.
Distance=34.0/ GPA= 27.6/12= 2.30

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mercedes Marathon RR

Fresh off a shiny new half PR, how much to do over the next 2 weeks was a bit tricky. I could lose some fitness if I took it too easy but I did not want to be the least bit burned out either. I ended up doing 41 miles the week after the half and just 12 leading up to today. Overall, it was a fairly calm taper. I had just a trace of funny feeling in my IT bands but I would not call it discomfort and it was most likely paranoia. On the medical front, I have now been free from the instability of the Thym-Adren for 6 weeks (praise God) but I still have to take something for my blood sugar. Fortunately, if I miss a dose here and there or take too much, it will not be a significant problem. I still don't know the optimal dose and being a little off could cost me maybe 1-2% (2-4 minutes).
The goal race for this training cycle was the half and I got the time I wanted. This one was more for fun and though I fully expected a big PR, there would not be much disappointment if it did not go well.

Prior day:
I got up early to cheer on a couple of buddies who were running the 5K then met my buddy Nick in mid-afternoon. There was no real drama here. The expo went smoothly and we got our usual steak dinner at Logan's in Fultondale. The biggest concern was the weather forecast. It's been a mild winter so far but we got our coldest morning of the year on race day. The forecast low was 19 degrees F with a 10 mph wind (close to single digit wind chill). Fortunately, the worst of the wind came the previous day and the fact that it was sunny was a plus. 20 degrees with cloudy and blustery conditions would be miserable. I opted for a hat, pants and 3 layers of clothing (short sleeve tech, long sleeve tech with a tank on top. I was comfortable once I got moving and maybe just a tad warm at the end as the temp warmed to just above freezing by the finish. The course was a double loop, which I actually prefer because I knew exactly what was coming and when it would come. It's a moderately difficult course, between 4-5 on my scale. The hills would seem fairly tame in the first loop but would pack a punch in the second.

The plan was to go out right around 7:30 pace and hang on as long as I could. I predicted a time between 3:15-3:20 based on my long run training pace. I expected to fade in the last 10K but if I could keep it under 8, I had the sub-3:20. At the very least, I wanted under 3:30 (sub-8 pace) and figured that barring disaster, that was a safe bet.
As soon as I crossed the timing mats, it quickly became apparent that I had lined up too far back despite the fact that I positioned myself between 7-8 minute pace. I had to use the sidewalk for the first half mile or else my pace would have been close to 9. Finally, I began to get in a groove by Mile 2. I can often tell very early on what kind of day it will be for me. Today, it seemed that I did not have my absolute top notch stuff but I was sure it would be a pretty solid performance. The pace of 7:20-7:30 did not really require much effort but I hoped that I would have to be holding back to hit my splits and that did not happen very often. Early miles were measured short but the Garmin was pretty accurate overall. Here are the early splits through relatively flat terrain:
7:33 - (7:33) crowded
7:22 -(14:55) too fast
7:34- (22:29) pick it up a little
7:27- (29:56) good, near perfect avg. pace
Now, on to the midsection of the first loop, which is the most challenging. Mile 5 went through UAB and was largely uphill but early enough that it would not hurt too much. Most of the next mile was a nice slow decline and it was here that I felt like I was holding back which was a good sign. 6.5-8.4 were tough. There was a couple of small breaks but it was almost all steady uphill. It was not terribly steep but certainly enough to take a lot out of you. Fortunately, the rest of Mile 9 was steadily downhill.
7:30-(37:26) good
7:28-(44:54) holding back a hair
7:38- (52:32) uphill, working harder than I'd like
7:36- (60:08) uphill, feel the same
7:26- (67:34) back down and back on pace.
By this point in the race with the worst of the hills over, I felt fairly comfortable but it was not as effortless as I had hoped. I was still predicted a solid finish time but not a performance on the level of 3M. Mile 10 was a gradual uphill for the first 3/4 followed by a steep decline that allowed you to regain most, if not all of your lost time. 11 seemed to be mostly a gentle decline but 12 had a bit of an incline (less than 1% grade) and barely noticeable in the first loop. The loop ended with flats and gentle downhill. It was here that I felt the best during the race.
7:27- (75:01) strong
7:26-(1:22:27) back under 7:30 avg.
7:30-(1:29:57) on target
7:26-(1:37:23) good.
I had completed the first half in roughly 1:38:15 via Garmin. Based on how I felt, 3:15 seemed highly unlikely but I still had a chance at 3:20. I still felt strong but I would have to be very careful about running this next section too hard because I knew those hills would hurt so much more the second time around. They weren't exactly a piece of cake the first time.
7:31- (1:44:54) working harder to hit splits
7:28-(1:52:22) still feel decent
7:36-(1:59:58) slipping a bit
7:36-(2:07:34) hanging on
Mile 16 is often where I can feel the glycogen begin the deplete but I've never hit the wall suddenly. It's always a gradual process between 16-20. I can usually keep it semi-respectable through 22 but my last 5K is always ugly. This time, however, I was in the best shape and best health of my life. Surely, the fade would not be so bad this time even with the hills ahead.
As expected, the UAB hills hit me hard and I was working to stay under 8. I had been calculating a finish time based on a "disaster" (10 min pace), a nasty fade (9 min) and a strong finish (8 min). With 9 miles to go, I'd need to hold an 8 pace and have something left at the end to break 3:20 but even a nasty fade would bring me home below 3:30. Soon, even a disaster would get me a PR (3:35). I knew that Miles 19.5-21.5 would be downright mean but if I could avoid a meltdown there, my outlook would be pretty good for the remainder of the course.
7:56 (2:15:30) UAB hills
7:51 (2:23:21) down and trying to conserve energy
8:11 (2:31:32). Mile 20, and not melting down too bad
8:15 (2:39:47) despite slow pace, I feel in control
8:10 (2:47:57) not much better on the downhill
By this point, I basically declared the bid for sub-3:20 to be over. With 4.2 miles to go, I estimated my finish time to be somewhere between 3:20:30-3:24:30. Anyone who has run a marathon knows that by this point in a race, you just want to get to the finish line. With a massive PR assured (barring disaster) and little hope of breaking 3:20, I could push all out to the line and risk a meltdown at the finish or worse, before the line. Also, I could hold on to the last little bit of relative comfort and leave a minute or so on the course. I chose the latter and soon after finishing, I was glad I did.
8:13 (2:56:10) 5K to go. I can do this.
8:01 (3:04:11) downhill, could have run sub-8 here.
8:19 (3:12:30) whole cup of Gatorade and water.
8:05 (3:20:35) no real effort to kick
1:21 (3:21:56) solid finish last .18
Final thoughts:
A very good performance (A- grade) but I do not think I had my absolute best stuff. Eugene and Fargo were flat. Huntsville was gently rolling. The was my toughest full marathon course and I still PR'd by more than 13 minutes or 30+ seconds per mile. Obviously, more miles are needed for optimal results but I chose not to subject my body to higher volume and do not regret it. I have a high tendency to get injured if I train at 60 MPW. I never topped 55 in a cycle geared toward the half marathon. With the tapers and holidays, my weekly average was more like 45. My time was not quite as fast as I had hoped but I can still feel very good about this one. The marathon remains my least favorite distance but my ultimate goal is to run a sub-3:10 on a downhill course in the Fall 2014 or Spring 2015. I have no plans for another before that. My top 2 choices are St. George or Phoenix. Both are downhill and possibly worth up 4-5 minutes over a normal course. I believe that my current upper limit is around 3:15 on a flatter course with A+ stuff. With 2.5 more years of good health, I feel I have a realistic chance at 3:10 at age 34, which would qualify me for Boston. If/when I get in, it will be my last marathon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rant or Rave: Energy sources

For the past decade or so, gas stations have been stocked with energy drinks. I should say that they are energy loan sharks. For regular users, eventually the "kick" that you do feel is not as good as the way you feel all the time when you are off those suckers. Basically, consumers are taking a sugar and caffeine bomb to their systems. Some contain beneficial amino acids and B-vitamins but the HARM far outweighs the benefit in my opinion. In addition, like soda, many contain phosphoric acid, which eats away at calcium needed for healthy bones which can lead to increased risk of stress fractures.
Back at Clemson, I was a heavy user of these energy loan sharks so I am qualified to make a review. I actually think Red Bull is one of the better ones because it only contains 80 mg. of caffeine and does not contain high fructose corn syrup. I get a negative reaction to taurine nowadays so I won't get any benefit from it now but it's been somewhat effective for me in the past when I needed a temporary kick. In 2009, I consumed a Red Bull prior to a few of my 59.9 attempts and came within 1.23 seconds going solo. Marathoner Brian Sell drinks a mixture of Gatorade and Red Bull during the race and made the 2008 Olympic team. I tried it myself at Mercedes 2009 and scored a massive PR. Did it help? Maybe a tiny bit but I credit my training and preparation. I will NOT go as far as recommending it to others and do NOT consume it on a regular basis.
As for some of the others such as NOS, Amp, Full Throttle, Rock Star etc., they might as well carry a Yuck symbol because it's basically poison to the body. In addition to the ill-effects listed above, I found that I got nasty GI issues as well and did a fair amount of running to the bathroom.
Heavy long-term use of sugar and caffeine is one of the WORST things that you can do to your adrenal glands. Without a doubt, it was a major contributing factor to my collapse. My doctor says that 60-80% of adults have sub-optimal adrenal function. To clarify, sub-optimal does NOT lead to crippling fatigue. The average person may only lose 5% of their performance capability. For a sedentary person, it's not even noticeable but for an athlete, it's huge. It marks the difference in a world record level performance and the fringe of world class. For a runner of my caliber, it represents about 20 seconds per mile and I will certainly notice.
I have also experimented with other energy drinks that are non-carbonated and contain little sugar, most notably, FRS Healthy Energy. My review is pretty much the same. It may give you a small boost when you need one in a race but it's not to be used regularly.
As for Gu, gels and Sport Beans, I have used them in both races and training with mixed results. I credit Sport Beans for helping me get to the finish in my first marathon. I've also had GI issues when taking them so as of now, it's too much of a risk. My pace actually slowed by 10 seconds in Columbus AFTER taking a gel. Did it hurt me or was it just the curse of Mile 10? During 3M, my only energy sources were Gatorade and water and I'd say it worked out quite well. Others swear by their chosen energy source so I'll just say, to each their own and do what works for you.
My plan for Mercedes since it is a full rather than a half is to carry small amounts of 2-3 different energy sources to be considered as I approach the wall but if I don't feel I need it, I won't take it. I will hydrate with water and Gatorade at set intervals.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Training 2/6-2/12 (race week)

2/6- Planned rest day. There will not be much to report this week until Sunday. Early weather forecast is looking good. Cold but clear.

2/7- Johnny's workout. First interval workout since October and I wanted to ease into it. Johnny agreed and would not even let me use my watch. Someone told me that I was near 80 on my quarters, which felt about right. I did turn up the heat a little bit on the last one. Only 5x400 plus a long warm and cool. Difficult to grade this one but I felt fine and was never struggling.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=4.0

2/8- Trak Shak 5 in 34:54 (6:59 pace). Not quite as fast as it appears because of a water stop and a couple traffic stops. Amazed at how easy this felt. I saw a pace in the 6:50s in Mile 2 and could not believe how easy it felt. Of course, the volume has been very light recently. Pretty even pace and turned up the heat a bit in the final .2 miles. Slight IT band soreness. Some stretching should be all I need. This has been a pretty calm taper but I'm not sure if that's good or bad. 1 more run to go before race day.
Grade:A/1 credit/distance=5.0

2/9- Planned rest day. A junk run tomorrow will be my last workout before the big day.

2/10- 3 mile junk run indoors. I could not care less about my time but for the record, it was 21:33 (7:11 pace) with a gradual progression. Never hurting but did not feel as smooth as 2 days ago. Still a trace of IT discomfort so lots of stretching exercises on tap. I'm probably over thinking everything at this point. I'm ready and have no regrets about my training. Race day is in less than 36 hours and the forecast has turned colder. It will be 25 at the start and 35 at the finish. Thankfully, I can get indoors shortly after the finish.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=3.5

2/11- Third rest day of the week. I've trained hard but I should be plenty rested tomorrow.

2/12- Mercedes marathon in 3:21:56 PR.
Grade:A-/4 credits/distance=26.5

Weekly summary:
Well done. I get a whole week off next week. No running and no blogging about it either. When I return, it's a new cycle with heavy speed training.
Distance=39.0/ GPA=29.5/8= 3.69

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My half marathon progression

I'll start this timeline back in 2003-4. I was a graduate student at Clemson fighting adrenal fatigue and chemical instability. I only trained about 20 MPW because of time constraints but almost all of it was hard. I estimate based on a couple of 10 mile training runs @ 7:40 pace, I was good for a half in the low-mid 1:40s. I only raced once in those 2 years (a 10K in 45:04). In 2005, the bubble burst and I endured a living nightmare for more than a year. I needed powerful stimulants just to function at a basic level and crashed after 2-3 miles of slow jogging on a good day. On a bad day, a trip to the grocery store would leave me exhausted.

2006: Diagnosed with full blown adrenal exhaustion. Limited to walking at first but progressed to walk/jog then a 9 minute pace in training. Progress was very rapid.

2007- Debuted at Seaside with an exhausting 1:59:37 half in which I had to walk/jog the last 5K. Soon after, I was diagnosed with numerous neurotransmitter imbalances. Again, improvement was rapid but I was VERY unstable. In Memphis 9 months later, I had improved to 1:48:17 without much additional training.

2008: Continued to improve but remained unstable. I improved at every distance but only raced one half (1:42:50 in Chicago). Finally, I was at a level comparable to before the crash. A sub-1:40 was looking likely but 10 minutes faster than that was unthinkable.

2009: A great year for me in almost every way even though there were quite a few rough stretches. Set a massive PR at Mercedes in February (1:36:16). For the first time, I began to think that 1:30 might be possible after all so I set it as my lifetime goal. I followed that one with another strong PR in Baton Rouge 10 months later (1:32:57)

2010: This was a down year for my running. I suffered 2 significant injuries but raced 3 halves that ranged from 1:34-1:42.

2011: Squeaked out a baby PR in Chattanooga in February (1:32:49) but the breakthrough came after quitting soda for good. I set back to back PRs in October with a 1:31:32 in Montgomery and a 1:31:02 in Columbus. My final attempt was a disappointing 1:33 in Arkansas.

2012: 1:28:12! Victory. Can I improve on that? I believe that I can but anything beyond it is a bonus. This is nothing short of a miracle recovery!