Tuesday, March 29, 2011


If you’re not into boring posts about training plans, this post probably isn’t for you. If you’re a nerd and actually want to read about miles, workouts, and junk like that, read on.
It’s 20 days from Boston and I’m officially excited. I've had a great streak of training for Boston with only two setbacks: ITBS that knocked me out for about three weeks and a sore ankle that slowed me down a little. When I was planning for this race, I was hoping to average about 55 miles a week for the 14 weeks before my taper and to peak at about 70 miles.
Crunching the numbers tells me that I’ll average about 54 miles a week for the cycle. Not quite at my goal mileage, but the first two weeks of the 14 weeks were 15 and 21. The week before those two was also 15—low mileage due to ITBS. But, if I throw those weeks out I averaged 50 miles a week in the month before that, so really I feel like I did better mileage-wise than my average.
My plan to peak at 70 miles? I did 83 between this past Monday and Sunday, and after this week I will have run over 70 miles for 4 of my 14 weeks of training, 60+ for 7 weeks, and 50+ for 11 weeks.
I felt like my last marathon I didn’t have as much endurance as I needed to run finish the way I wanted, so in training for Boston I decided I needed to get more runs in the 20 mile range. Mission accomplished. I only did two 20 mile runs for my last marathon, but this cycle I’ve done five. I also simplified my workouts, doing a lot of tempo runs rather than some of the more complicated workouts from the Hudson plan.
I’m doing one tough interval workout on Thursday, the Ron Daws 25k as a marathon pace run on Saturday, then one more tough interval workout next week. Sunday will be my first day off after running 33 days straight. Bring on Boston.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

MDRA 7 Mile Race Report

I wanted to wear shorts today. I woke up at 5:30 AM, couldn't fall back asleep, checked the temperature--18 degrees--and I put the shorts away. It was sunny but it was chilly out in Hopkins, Minnesota as I ran my first "real" race of the year. I've never run a 7 mile race before and since the course was a little short I guess I still haven't.

The course was tougher than I thought and I made at least one if not two mistakes. Before the race I warmed up and, planning to get in 14 miles for the day, I ran 3.5 miles and then did some sprints. This was probably (OK, almost surely) too much of a warm up. Normally I'd do two, maybe three miles and then some strides. Oh well.

When the race started I made a for sure definite mistake. A group of six of us went out fast and after about a quarter mile I checked the Garmin--5:30 pace. I was shooting for a pace between 5:50-5:55. At this point it was no big deal; I could've slowed down a little and I would have been fine. Instead, I made a choice--there was no one behind me and it was kind of breezy so I thought, why not just stick with these guys? Maybe they'll slow down. Maybe I'm faster today than I think. First mile we came across in 5:30. Next mile they started to pull away from me and I came across at 5:46. Then, a big hill. It was steep, long, and three-tiered. And not three-tiered in a delicious cake kind of way.

I wouldn't say I fell apart after two miles that were too fast but I did fall apart on steep mile three. A friend from Minnesota Running Wild said she was 20 seconds slower that mile. I wish I'd been 20 seconds slower. My third mile--6:19. I'm pretty sure that's about 33 seconds slower. I suppose that's not terrible but it's not good either.

I pulled it together for a couple sub 6-minute miles at 4 and 5 before another slow, uphill mile 6. The course was a little short so my last almost mile was at a 5:42 pace. The whole time I was chasing the fifth place guy who was about 20 seconds ahead of me. I kicked as hard as I could the last 1/2 mile but apparently he had just as much left in him because I didn't close the gap at all. I told my wife before the race I'd like to be top 5 so I was a little disappointed I couldn't run it a little faster.

I was also hoping for around 40 minutes and although I ran 40:44 the course was about .15 miles short according to the Garmin, so really I was in the 41 minute range. Still, I ran sub-6 minute miles 5 out of 7 miles and my overall pace was between 5:57 and 5:59 depending on the Garmin. I was shooting for between 5:50 and 5:55 so I was pretty close.

I shouldn't be too disappointed as I didn't cut back at all for this race like I did for the 20k I ran last year and I still ran a faster race. After my warm up, race, and cool down I ran 73 miles this week. During the Fetzer 20k week I ran 46 miles. This course was also way hillier than Fetzer and I've never been great on hills.

It's been a pretty good training cycle and I've managed to run more miles than ever without getting hurt. While I'm not thrilled about this race I'm happy enough with it. A 20 mile run tomorrow and then a 25k next Saturday and I'm ready for my taper.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Just one more week of high (for me) mileage and I'm ready to prepare for peaking. I've got a 7 mile race tomorrow and a long run on Sunday, then a 25k next Saturday that I'm using as my peak workout MP run. Then--taper time. I'm going to base my marathon goal pace on my race tomorrow morning and then run that pace at the Ron Dawes 25k a week from tomorrow.

Peaking is a mysterious concept. The general consensus seems to be that in order to peak you should cut back mileage but still keep a couple of intense sessions to stay sharp for your goal race. The Brad Hudson plan that I did last marathon seemed to aim for peaking by adding more marathon pace or close to marathon pace runs with a couple of short but intense interval workouts thrown in. Other marathon plans seem to focus on hard interval workouts, making marathon pace seem easier by comparison.

Since my IT band injury has healed I've had a pretty good training cycle. I've gone back and checked my training logs from my last marathon and I'm definitely putting in more miles than last year and my paces have gotten faster. I'm hoping this translates into a marathon time of under three hours, but no matter what my training logs say I'm still going have to have a good race to make that happen. As they say in sports, "that's why you play the game." Or in this case I suppose it would be, "that's why you run the race."

Happy running!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Get Lucky! The Triple 7k Pace Report

For those "math nerds" out there, a triple 7k is roughly the distance of a half marathon. In the case of the Get Lucky! Triple 7k, it's exactly the distance of a half marathon. This was my second pacing event and it was just as exciting as the first one.

Last June I paced the Minneapolis Half Marathon and this weekend I got to pace another Team Ortho event which I also got to use as part of a 21 mile training run. The weather was perfect--a little chilly at the start at around 30 degrees, but it steadily warmed up as the race progressed.

There wasn't much of a group with me this time. I think there were maybe a little over a dozen people running with me off and on. Mostly people just used me as a gauge and didn't really want to be part of my "pace group." Perhaps I wasn't as handsome as I was at the Minneapolis Half, or perhaps there were more people running in the 1:45 group trying to get into the first wave of the Twin Cities Marathon while the 1:40 group didn't offer any special sort of appeal.

I did get to run with a couple of friends from the Minnesota Running Wild running club. One of our younger members who came to watch the race decided that it would be fun to run a mile with me while wearing jeans and Italian basketball shoes. His failure to wear a belt had people smiling as he ran with one hand holding his pants up.

Another Running Wild gal ran with me the whole way until the end when she peeled off to go get a PR. I was impressed that she could chat it up for 10 miles and then take off and set a PR. I would've been sucking air by mile 4 if I were her.

The Triple 7k capped off a pretty great week of running. I got 4.5 miles in before I started pacing and then 3.5 after, which left me with a 73+ mile week--another mileage PR. I got to see a bunch of friends from the Running Wild before, during, and after the race--Don set a big PR with a 1:19 and Gerad won the race with a 1:15. I nailed my pacing assignment with a 1:39:55.

It was also great seeing my wife and niece at the end of the half marathon. I gave my niece my finisher's medal as I felt she should be able to bring a medal that say's "Get Lucky!" to kindergarten for show-and-tell.

Next week should be another good one. I'm going to keep the mileage up and maybe cut back the last two days of the week so I can get a decent race in on Saturday--the MDRA 7-miler.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Faster than...

I feel fast. It's a good feeling, this feeling fast. It's great to wake up, go to work, and think, I sure feel fast today. I'm not sure if I'm as fast as I feel--I'll have to run an actual race to know that. The numbers, though, seem to indicate that I'm faster right now than I was when I ran my last marathon.

Over at Feet Meet Street there was a great post about whether you're a numbers runner or not, and I am definitely a numbers guy. I look at my SportTracks and compare my average miles per week, miles per month, my pace, and what kind of workouts I'm doing to previous months and weeks. Do I look at my shoes and see how they feel to decide when to switch pairs? Yes, but that doesn't stop me from tracking how many miles I run in them.

There's a intuitive and an objective component to my feeling of fastness. I can look at my tempo runs from this spring and compare them to last spring and see how much faster I'm running (~10s / mile), but there's also the feeling of being able to put the gas pedal down a little at the end of a long run. Then, of course, I have to go and confirm my fast feelings by checking my downloaded run to see how fast my last two miles were (6:26 and 6:30).

Sure there's an aesthetically pleasing quality to running--something that's not quantifiable on SportTracks. Obviously there are purely emotional, psychological, and undefinable qualities that don't show up on a Garmin, but are no less satisfying. I love running outside, being active, and the elusive, every once-in-a-while feeling of the "runner's high."

So what is it about checking the watch, shooting for PRs, tracking miles per week, reading training books and crafting training plans that take up so much space in my running psyche? Why do I think about workouts weeks in advance when I know what workout I'll actually do is going to be based on how I feel that day? Why do I insist on asking rhetorical questions rather than make statements?

I like making training plans. I like reading books about how to make training plans. I like coming up with workouts and running the workouts. I like to set PRs. Why? I don't remember who said it, but I believe it: It's more fun to run fast than to run slow.

Of course, there's a matter of subjectivity on what constitutes running fast. I do 800m interval workouts a minute per mile slower that an elite marathoner's pace for 26.2 miles. Breaking three hours for a marathon would feel fast for me. For some people, breaking four hours would feel fast.

Some days I feel like garbage; my legs feel heavy, I want to walk whenever I get to a hill, I pray for a red light so I can take a break, . Sometimes it's a struggle to get myself out the door. Not today though. Today I feel fast.