Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 2,891: Finish what you started

At the end of the Marine Corps Marathon I felt neither exhilaration nor relief at breaking four hours for the first time. I was just exhausted physically and mentally. There was one thing I knew though -- there's no way I am running in the Honolulu Marathon in six weeks.

I had to give this $55 race entry credit for starting one of my strongest running years and helping me accomplish my goal of breaking the four hour mark in the marathon.

But in the weeks after the Oct. 26 race, as I struggled to get back into running rhythm, thoughts kept popping in my head that I can't pass this up.

I'd always wanted to run in the Honolulu Marathon. But always things kept coming up. It was too far away. The timing wasn't right. And in many cases, my training wasn't there.

But this time, I knew this would be an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I don't know how my training will be a year or even five years from now. While I can't say I am in the same shape I was in before I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon, my training still has to be better than average. And there's nothing for me to prove in this race since the four-hour mark is no longer hanging over my head.

I can't tell you this is going to be a great race for me. All I know is that I will do it and with it will be one more story in one of my best years in running.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 2,890: With weather that goes up and down, you just have to roll with it

This morning it was 29 degrees outside. That meant I didn't want to get up necessarily but I knew I had to get rolling.

By the time I got out it was 32 degrees. Luckily I have this blog for tried-and-true clothing choices in this kind of climate.

I went out and everything was fine. On the way back, up the hill to my home, I felt a slight tinge in my right hamstring. No pain. Just a warning that it was there.

It could be a little overtraining. I have run 37 miles this week, with one day left in the week.
I also need to worry about my running form. In the past, I would aggressively lean forward up hills but now I know I need to keep a good, upright body and maybe even a shorter stride.

Time: 9:33 a.m.
Temp: 32 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long x2 (Winship Cancer 5K, Atlanta Beltline Eastside 10K), Brooks Spartan III Pants, Skechers Go Run 3.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 2,889: On Turkey Day, bigger fish to fry

I ran in the Atlanta Track Club's Thanksgiving Half Marathon for six years in a row, starting in 2008. This year, however, I skipped the race for two reasons.

The first reason is that I'm planning on running in the Honolulu Marathon in two and a half weeks. In 2010, I tried a "strength of schedule" approach to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, running in a half marathon and a 10K in the weeks leading up to the 10-10-10 race.

This time, I'm content to finish up what I can of a very, very truncated training program just a month after completing the Marine Corps Marathon and be as fresh as possible for the race.

The second is that I'm also a cheapskate. I didn't see any reason to pay $85 or so to run in a half-marathon when I pretty much did the same thing for free. Today I had a 10-mile tempo run on the schedule, a workout that totals 12 miles with the warmup and cooldown.

My workout brought me alongside the Piedmont Park portion of the race, and while it was cool to see all the runners, I really just needed to focus on my pace.

Still, I wore last year's "ATL Half" shirt in solidarity!

Time: 8:31 a.m.
Temp: 39 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long x2 (Atlanta Half Marathon 2013, Nike grey), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day 2,888: My first marathon advice

And I feel, so much depends on the weather ...
 -Stone Temple Pilots

No one has ever asked me advice for a marathon before, and really, why would they? My overall experience in marathons hasn't been that great, although I am well versed in the pitfalls of the 26.2 mile distance.

But a fellow geocacher did, and this is my advice:

Congrats again for signing up for the Publix Georgia Marathon! This race is one of my favorite races of all places that I've run, since it showcases the great neighborhoods of Atlanta! Plus I think their T-shirts are the best of all races in the area. 

 It's a hilly course but I think it would be possible for you to break 3:45 in it. Your 1:42 half marathon practically guarantees a good result. That said, it will be your first marathon and I don't personally know anyone who ever got what they wanted out of their first marathon, and this includes two guys who run much faster than me (one guy ran a 1:43 half marathon before his debut and has never broken 4 hours in two marathons and the other guy ran a 1:44 and debuted in 4:17. He ran 3:44 in his second marathon and now runs between 1:36 and 1:39 half marathons).

 So this would be my gameplan. I think you are probably capable of running somewhere between 3:40 and 3:44 based on your half marathon time. I would shoot to train for 3:40 since this gives you a few minutes of leeway based on the hilly course. Plus the upcoming Boston Marathon had too many applicants and so they did not accept those who met the qualifying time for their age group up to 1 minute 2 seconds faster than the standard (so you would have had to do a 3:43:58 to get in the 2015 race). I imagine the same thing could happen for the next race you could run in, the 2016 race.

 So that means running the race at an 8:23/mile pace. The trick will be keeping this pace and not running any faster the entire length of it! In the actual marathon, this pace will seem ridiculously slow (I trained for an 8:45 pace and found myself running mile splits at 8:01 because it seemed so easy and almost bonked out of the race!) But it's the best way to make your goal.

 I recommend a training program, such as the Hanson's Marathon Method. I used the advanced program and it combined weekly base mileage, speed/strength work and tempo runs at marathon pace. Buy the book and reference it through your training. 

 One thing is you'll have to jump into training soon -- you will have 16 weeks (the length of most training programs) to train starting Dec. 1! The Hanson's program involves 18 weeks of training. 

The Hanson's book does have a chapter involving incorporating races but you'll find if you stick to the schedule that your weekends will involve long runs that range from 8 miles Sat-Sunday all the way up to 10 miles on Saturday and 16 miles on Sunday. Near the end of it it gets really time consuming and boring. You may end up running 10 miles+ on four of the seven days of the week.

 If you don't have a GPS watch for training, I recommend buying one. I have the Garmin Forerunner 610 -- there are more modern models out there. What's nice about this is you can program in your workouts, which is helpful when you do speedwork/intervals that require you to run a certain distance at a certain speed and then run slower to recover for a shorter distance, and so on.

 I would train with the goal of trying to qualify (since if you can qualify with this race that you already spent money for, why not?) but not put too much pressure on yourself to do so, since first marathons are unique experiences. 

 If you don't qualify the first time around I would register for a fall marathon, give yourself a few months off and then train over the summer.

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 2,887: Back on track

It took me nearly a month after running in the Marine Corps Marathon to be able to resume marathon training but the extra time off was worth the wait.

Today I went to Piedmont Park for my longest run since the Oct. 26 marathon -- 9.57 miles from 6 x 1-mile intervals with a quarter-mile recovery.

This time I slowed my pace to just under the 9:09/mile pace that would be needed to break four hours in the race. I ran pretty steadily without trouble and it felt good to be training.

I think the flat route around Lake Clara Meer would be ideal training for an equally flat race course. But a good portion of the park will be occupied for Thursday's Thanksgiving Half Marathon.

Time: 9:53 a.m.
Temp: 52 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Locomotive Half Marathon 2010), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day 2,886: A rare hot day

With a race in three weeks that's supposed to be in the 70s, I haven't really had a chance in a month to run in weather that hot.

Until today. Somehow, 70-degree weather greeted me and so I was able to shed the extra layers and run in conditions that likely will be similar to that of the Honolulu Marathon.

And ... it felt good. Around Mile 2 I felt myself sweating a good bit. I happened to be running in the same place where I trained all summer and had easy access to water fountains but I didn't drink any.

My legs felt pretty good late in the run when I ran in Piedmont Park. I passed two middle-aged guys while pushing the little one in the BOB stroller. One of them said laughing, "It's ok to be passed by a kid."

When I got home I could tell that running in cool weather for a month has affected my hydration -- I drank two 17-ounce bottles of Gatorade with no problem.

So I probably won't get another chance to have a training run in weather this hot before the race. I hope when the time comes my body remembers all the miles training through the summer in Atlanta.

Time: 1:02 p.m.
Temp: 70 degrees, 64 percent humidity
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Marine Corps Marathon, "Mission Accomplished"), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 2,884: 1,900 miles FTY

Today I had to run across town to maintain a geocache for a friend and that 6.6-mile run put me over 1,900 miles for the year.

With three full weeks to go before the Dec. 14 Honolulu Marathon, it looks likely I will reach the 2,000-mile mark by then.

Although today's run went pretty well, on the way back I could feel just a tinge that my right hamstring wasn't fully back. I didn't feel pain but it just didn't seem completely normal.

I guess I'm going to have to wonder for a while whether I really can and should run a second marathon in three weeks' time.

Time: 9:43 a.m.
Temp: 41 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (William's Run 5K; this is one of the most comfortable technical shirts I have), T-shirt, short (Inman Middle School 5K '09), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day 2,882: Skechers Go Run 3

One of the things about coming off of marathon training is that nearly all of my running shoes are at the end of their lifespan.

The training journey started out with the venerable Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 but ended with more minimalist shoes -- the Saucony Kinvara 5 and Skechers' Go Run 2.

So when I went looking for the next pair of training shoes -- and the possible shoe that I will wear in the Dec. 14 Honolulu Marathon, I decided on Skechers next installment, the Go Run 3.

What really helped is that the retail $80 shoe was being sold for $39 (the same price that I bought the Go Run 2s in April). Clearly this brand has not caught on very well yet.

Today was the first day that I wore this shoe for a run. And my initial impressions were that it was a Saucony Kinvara 5 in Go Run 3 clothing!

Interestingly enough, when you compare the two shoes, they are very similar -- the Go Run 3 boasts a weight of 7.0 ounces for size 9 (Kinvara: 7.7 ounces). Both have the same heel-to-toe drop of 4 mm.

(In contrast, my Go Run 2 shoes weigh 6.6 ounces and have a 5.2 mm drop. The Nike Pegasus shoes are clodhoppers by comparison with an 11 ounce weight and a 10 mm drop.)

The Go Run 2s are more like minimalist racing shoes -- what I didn't like about them was that in training runs I could feel every piece of gravel I ran over. But the new Go Run 3s are much more cushioned, making the run enjoyable.

My only complaint with the shoes is I feel like the laces are too long (I substituted an old pair of Nike laces in my Go Run 2s).

And although both pairs of Skechers shoes I run in are size 10 and are fine, next time around I might want to get size 9.5.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 2,880: Super cold

This morning it was 24 degrees or so when I got up so I tried to put off my run as long as possible. So I ended up taking out the little one in the afternoon.

It was still cold ... and then didn't get much better. I took off my windbreaker at the North Highland Avenue/Ponce stoplight only to put it back on at the PATH trail near Mile 2.

I recently ordered a pair of Brooks Spartan Running Pant III - Short because I've been looking for a pair of running pants with as short of an inseam as possible so they don't drag on the ground under my feet if I am wearing them inside without shoes on.

These fit the bill -- last year I wanted to get the previous version -- the Spartan Pant II short but they were sold out in my size.

So as soon as I saw these for sale I bought them. At $85 they were a little more than I wanted to spend on a pair of running pants but I've worn them three times already as winter has come to our area sooner than in previous years.

Time: 1:40 p.m.
Temp: 31 degrees (only rose to 33 degrees by end of run)
Gear: Nike windbreaker, Technical T-shirt, long x2 (Nike white, Beltline 10K), running pants, Skechers Go Run 2.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 2,877: I'm not ready ... yet?

After running six-miles a day for six days, I decided to ramp up my training, sticking to the marathon program's final weeks leading up to race day.

That meant today was a 9-mile tempo run (11 miles total). Instead of training at an 8:45/mile pace, I decided I would do so at a 9-minute mile pace.

Things went well for the first mile. But I found it difficult to maintain my pace and during the first three miles, I could feel a slight tinge in my right hamstring.

To add insult to injury, somewhere right after five miles, my left calf muscle cramped up. It's been years since I've had this happen in a training run.

So I just ran the last two miles back home. It's obvious that I am not ready for this kind of running yet. I think rest will be better for the next few weeks, so I'll just plan on running less mileage.

This is one thing I didn't see coming, especially after previous marathons. In 2010, I ran in the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler just three weeks after running and finishing an excruciating ING Georgia Marathon. I had no problems getting back into shape. I ran a 5K at 7:47 pace just 20 days after running in the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Less than a month later, I made a 5K PR (22:20) in the Race 2 Recycle.

It puts into question what kind of condition I'll be in for the Honolulu Marathon. There's no time limit to finish the race so I can take all the time I want if I still want to run in it in a few weeks.

Time: 9:37 a.m.
Temp: 43 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Fall Five Miler), T-shirt (Surgeon General's Run 2009), shorts, Nike Air Zoom Pegasus+ 31.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 2,873: The 11-day recovery

Today's run started out like the previous 10 days after running in the Marine Corps Marathon. It was grueling.

But after the halfway point of my 3-mile run, I felt like I was running a lot better. It was nice to finally have some speed back.

Coming back along North Highland Avenue, I caught up with a dude who was way faster up the hill. I talked to him about the Charleston Marathon, which was on the shirt he was wearing.

The pace was pretty fast (my data shows I got down to 6:13/mile) and I could tell I had trouble talking and running.

In any event, I was able to make it home. My mile time for that last mile was 7:49.

Despite a little foolishness, I'm back to some kind of regular running speed, 11 days after running in the marathon.

Time: 8:04 a.m.
Temp: 46 degrees
Gear: Long-sleeved T-shirt (Ted's Montana Grill), shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Day 2,869: 6 days later

Today was the first day I ran more than just a mile. It also was one of the coldest days so far this season.

I wore my Marine Corps Marathon finisher shirt -- a double-thick technical mock turtleneck, in keeping with the race's tradition.

It was at least 40 degrees (my Garmin data says 37 degrees). The shirt was warm enough for me to do my run in. It's good news because when I got the thick and heavy shirt I was wondering exactly what I should do with it.

I felt like I had good lateral speed but my left quad just felt depleted. After the run I felt like I'd run a half marathon.

So I guess it's back to taking it easy at least for a few more days.