Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 2,769: 65.8 miles to go

Normally I should be talking about my 7-mile tempo run today or that the 9-mile run gave me 180 miles for the month.

But I just realized that I have 65.8 miles to go to reach 10,000 miles for the streak! Based on the marathon training schedule, I should hit this mark if not by the end of next week, by Aug. 10, when I have a 14-mile run to do.

Anyway, today's run was pretty good. The temperature started out pretty cool -- 68 degrees. I had thought out the route the day before and it worked out. I hit my race pace six of the seven miles (I had a 9:03/mile pace for the second mile but I think the number of turns I had to do for my turnaround at Boulevard was a factor. I think I'll eliminate this in future tempo runs and just make up the difference in the park).

The 180.77 miles for this July is the second highest number of miles I've ever run. The most I've ever run is 210+ miles in August 2010 as I prepared for the Chicago Marathon.

I've come close to this mark two other months this year, both while doing the half-marathon training schedule -- 178.41 miles in February and 170.6 miles in March.

Time: 6:42 a.m.
Temp: 68 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Eastside Beltline 10K), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 2,768: A 58-degree run!

Normally a 1-mile run is nothing to write about, but today it was unseasonably cool -- 58 degrees. Today's weather actually broke a record that was set in 1936.

I would have liked to have used this day for a much harder workout but this was the off-day for my marathon schedule and thus a day I'll typically only run a mile to maintain the streak.

It felt cold on the top of my head as I did the out-and-back route. It also reminded me that the temperatures will be cool enough, soon enough.

Time: 7:05 a.m.
Temp: 58 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Father's Day 4-Miler, blue), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 2,767: 4 x .75-mile intervals

Today came around as a gift -- unseasonably cool at 66 degrees in the morning. Knowing this and knowing my run would not be more than 6 miles today, I went light and ditched the water bottle that has been habitually around my waist.

I wasn't sure how three-quarter-mile intervals would be but I imagined they wouldn't be too much worse than last week's .6-mile workout. I ran my obligatory warm-up mile to the park and then set off at my 5K race pace.

... or better.

The four splits were some of the fastest that I've run -- 7:30/7:18/7:10 and 7:03. I felt like I was running fast but also kind of dialing it in, that I could run even faster if I wanted/needed to.

These kinds of times make me want to run in a 5K race but I'm committed to sticking with my plan of no other races until the Oct. 26 Marine Corps Marathon.

Time: 6:38 a.m.
Temp: 66 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (MCM in training '14), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 2,765: 12-mile run

This was my longest run since the March 23 Publix Georgia Half Marathon. Going into it, I wasn't very worried about it, although I thought the temperature might be a little daunting.

The schedule called for me to run it at about a 9:30/mile pace, which probably should be no sweat for me, although I don't think I've ever done a long run to pace before.

I started out doing the last part of the Publix half marathon course. At about mile 5.25 I drank a bunch of the water that I carried and I had to decide whether I would run the way I came -- or set out for more water.

I decided on the latter and continued on the race course to Piedmont Avenue, where I finally did get some water at the grocery store at the North Avenue intersection.

With a full bottle, I decided to just run up the length of the avenue past the park. At Monroe Avenue, I jumped into the new Piedmont Commons part of the park and then, knowing exactly the distance I would need since I run in the park so much, tailored the run to mark 12 miles.

I felt pretty good about this run. I made pace in nine of the 12 miles so I feel like the run was moderately successful.

Time: 7:19 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (2014 Publix Half Marathon in training), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Day 2,759: 5 x .6 mile intervals (1/4 mile recovery)

Because of scheduling I switched today's easy 6-mile run for Tuesday's intervals. I felt pretty good about doing so, since the weekend's back-to-back 8-mile runs felt okay and I was ready for a challenge.

So I made my way to Piedmont Park hoping to avoid the rain and right away it felt great to be back on the home training field.

I ran my intervals around the pond area of the park and I kind of felt like last week in Bethesda, like I was trying hard but probably not really getting under 8-minute miles.

But when I looked at the data, I ran faster than 7:35/mile for all of my intervals! It goes to show I haven't gotten down that 5K race pace yet and it is regrettable I didn't run slower at the desired 7:43/mile pace. Two intervals were 7:17/mile and 7:19/mile, which I feel is pretty telling of my overall fitness.

Time: 8:35 a.m.
Temp: 73 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Doug Kessler 10K), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day 2,755: A gift from the weather

Amid this summer's crazy heat came a gift today of very cool weather. Most days I can expect temperatures at the crack of dawn to be about 71 degrees. Today it was 10 degrees cooler.

After running for the last five days in my Skechers Go Run 2 shoes (they are great for travel because they are so light) I went back to my Nike Air Pegasus 31s for my 6-mile tempo run. From the start they felt very comfortable.

Most mornings I don't have a lot of wiggle room (or patience) so I've kept my warm-up and cool down runs to the minimum distance of 1 mile. I think it shows in my data, since I've noticed that even in my 6-mile regular routes, I don't feel totally warmed up or pick up speed until after about 3 miles.

But these training sessions are good practice because when marathon day comes, there's no way I'm going to be running 3 miles before I run another 26.2.

Today I struggled to keep pace after the first mile of the tempo run. An 8:45/mile pace in a race for me is almost effortless -- it is running without struggling. In miles 2 and 3 I really struggled to find this pace and after that, it was extremely easy to run at my marathon race pace. I left this workout really unsure what the difference is between an 8:45/mile pace and one above 9:00/mile.

I think there were some benefits -- at the end of the eight total miles I felt pretty refreshed and ready to tackle more. I didn't because there will be plenty of extra mileage soon enough.

Time: 6:31 a.m.
Temp: 61 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Beltline Southwest 5K), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 2,753: 6 x 1/2 mile intervals (1/4 mile recovery)

BETHESDA, Md. -- Man, I thought Atlanta was humid. The A-town has nothing on the D.C. area.

Today rolled around and it was time for six half-mile intervals with a quarter-mile recovery. Since I've stayed in this area a few times already, I knew where I would do the workout -- along the Georgetown Branch Trail.

There's about a mile stretch near the hotel, perfect for running up and down it. In September I ran along the trail to Rock Creek Park.

The trail in this section is dirt and gravel but running fast on it wasn't too bad since my shoes didn't move when I stepped on the gravel as it did on the track in Piedmont Park.

It didn't take too long before I was completely soaked. I felt like I had a decent pace but the data shows that all of my intervals were a little slower than last weeks and only four of the six were under 8 minutes. I'll just have to watch my pace next week.

Time: 6:05 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short, shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 2,749: 1,000 miles for the year

Today's 7.13-mile run put me over 1,000 miles for the year. It's the fastest that I've ever reached that milestone, doing so in 192 days for an average of 5.2 miles a day.

In contrast, last year, it took me until Thanksgiving Day to reach 1,000 miles. My previous record was on July 23, 2010, when I was also ramping up my mileage for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It took 204 days then to cross the 1K-mile line.

Obviously running 1,000 miles in a year does not finish any races for me. It gives me a good idea of where I am at in my fitness and my goals.

I have 181.46 miles to go before I cross 10,000 miles for my running streak. I'm thinking that will probably come sometime next month.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day 2,748: Week 3: Training is easy

The good thing about having to run at a 7:43/mile pace two days before is that when you have to run an 8:46/mile pace, it feels pretty easy.

Even without a watch, I know that a sub-8 pace for me is when I lead the run with my knees on the stride. I get a minute slower pace with just a nudge of the knees.

This morning's 8-mile run involved my first tempo run in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon. The hard part was -- at what pace?

For a while now, the 9:09/mile pace has been the gold standard, since that is the pace that's required to break 4 hours in a marathon.

The only problem is that it's clearly apparent that I run much faster than that in training. My 7:43/mile pace in the speed workouts conforms to an 8:46/mile marathon pace.

So that's what I set to do for my 6-mile tempo run (includes a mile each warmup and cooldown). It felt really easy doing that after hard running during the speed session in Piedmont Park.

I knew there were spots, though, during the run in which I was running faster than that. I tried various methods to slow down but nothing really was too successful. Even my cooldown I wasn't able to really run any slower than a 9-minute-mile.

When I got home I saw that my pace stuck in the 8:37/mile range. It was an easy pace and one that I can consistently hit in a half-marathon. The question now is whether I tailor my training to try to go for that pace in the marathon or work a little slower with the thought of having a lot more energy at the end.

It's hard to tell how things will work out - what has worked out well through 13.1 miles may not work at all in the full 26.2. I'll have to just trust the training program, that the increased weekly mileage and workouts will bring the desired result at the end of the marathon.

Time: 6:49 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 2,746: 8 x .4 mile intervals (Week 3)

I thoroughly enjoyed last week's speed work session. This week, with the interval distance just .15 mile more, it felt like I struggled with the distance.

But when I came back and reviewed the data, all but one of the eight intervals were at my desired pace. The first one even was a little crazy -- a 6:52/mile pace!

Anyway, I dutifully came out to the park and ran to last week's spot behind the pond. For the second interval, I hopped up on the track and ran. 

I only did a few more intervals there since I didn't like how the loose gravel didn't give my feet a lot of traction and even a muscle behind my right knee felt sore while I ran on the track.

So for the last half I left the track and just continued to do my usual loop around the pond. I drank all of the water that I carried with me -- maybe 20 ounces or so -- and that's the first time I did that.

I felt like I survived this session but was happy to see consistency and speed on my side. 

Time: 6:53 a.m.
Temp: 71 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Mission Focus: 2014 Marine Corps Marathon training), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 31.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 2,742: My 10th Peachtree Road Race

There was a special reward for finishing this year's Peachtree Road Race -- completing it would mean I have done the race 10 times. That's the number you need to attain special "streaker" status that basically grants you guaranteed entry for life.

It also was special because I would be running wingman for my wife, who is 28 weeks pregnant. Both of us were unsure what that would mean for the race, whether we would be walking it, whether we would be running it, just that we would both be participating in one of Atlanta's most famous traditions.

After reading my account of last year's race in which leaving home at 6:20 a.m. meant we got to the starting corral just a minute before the race started, we left a little earlier, just after 6 a.m. We were lucky to catch a train at Midtown station without much waiting and also that it wasn't crowded at all.

This train led us to Buckhead station and while it is a little bit of a walk to get to the corral it wasn't bad. The staging area at Phipps Plaza is great because they have a ton of portapotties and not many people. You can even get a cup of water if you want it.

We started out at a pretty easy pace, there were lots of people sprinting by us. The weather was fortunately pretty cool and not too hot. I would say that we took it easy, but at one point I looked down at my watch and we were running at an 8:19/mile pace, just nine seconds above what our regular training pace was 5 years ago!

Going at an easy pace in a race has huge advantages. The huge Heartbreak hill and then the gradual rise from Spring to 14th Street seemed like nothing. I felt pretty good in my pace and mainly wanted to make sure that the wife was doing ok. It seemed like she was.

We finished the race just under 56 minutes, which is funny to me because I'm sure that there have been at least two times that I've run this race slower than that when I actually was trying to run fast. And I don't think the wife has run that distance since last year's race, when we ran it in 54 minutes.

After the race, we spent a little bit of time in the Atlanta Track Club member hospitality tent, which had almost anything you needed -- water, peaches just like out in the general area. Waffle House offered grits bowls that had cheese and sausage crumbles.

In the general area, they had the tried and true hits, Mellow Mushroom cheese pizza, bagels, bananas, packages of cereal bars and cookies. It seemed like there was a run on Diet Coke -- I had to walk all the way to the first bin and then had to scrounge around. A volunteer put a pink lemonade Powerade in my hands and I picked up a few other flavors for those hotter, longer runs later on this summer.

All in all, a great run and a confidence builder for my main goal this year -- the Oct. 26 Marine Corps Marathon.

Time: 7:34 a.m.
Temp: 66 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Publix Half Marathon in Training 2014), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 30/A.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 2,739: 12 x 1/4-mile intervals (Week 2)

Earlier this year, I started the half marathon program late and entered training after the speed phase. Today was the first speed session of my life -- 12 quarter-mile intervals at race pace.

It felt like training for a strafing sortie -- you do a warmup run to your training location and then run a quarter mile at race pace, then jog a quarter mile. Repeat 12 times and then return back to base.

I chose Piedmont Park since it would be a place where I could run and not worry about cars. I thought about running in the bowl near Park Tavern but at the last minute decided on the stretch on the south side of the pond.

Although I dreaded doing anything 12 times in a row, it sort of became routine, running to the same place and back over and over again. Although I don't like running on tracks, I can see how this would help, since it was actually easier to run faster when there was a runner ahead instead of having to do the distance by yourself.

Back home I was pretty happy with my time, which does seem to be in line with my 5K times.

Time: 6:38 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Asics blue, shorts, Skechers Go Run 2).