Monday, April 30, 2007

April Summary (21:14)

So April is over.....

Only one race, but a new PR:
-- Santa Cruz Half Marathon - 1:34:10 (7:11 Pace)
........My First Top 5% Finish! (69/1500)

-- Lower than planned, due to overtraining
-- Ran 22 days out of 30 (Goal was 24)
-- Average Run 6.8 Miles
-- Average Pace 8:07
-- Average Heart Rate 154
-- 157 Total Miles
-- 37 Average Weekly Miles
-- 39 Longest Week
-- 620 Miles 2007

May Goals
-- A Big Month!
-- Run 27/31 days
-- Break 50 miles per week
-- First 200+ month ever
-- 205 miles, Average 46.3 miles/week
-- San Carlos 10k 5/20
------(Goal 1 - new PR, sub 44:35 7:10 Pace)
------(Goal 2 - sub 43:00 6:55 Pace)
------(Stretch goal - sub 42:00 6:45 Pace)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Next 12 Weeks

The mind is a weird thing especially when it is starved of blood and oxygen.

At mile 9 during Sunday's race I for sure decided that I was going to quit this whole competetive running thing. This was my last race, ever. I was 100% convinced it was the right decision. I realised that eventually, no matter how hard I train, I am going to be unable to meet my goals. So why keep doing all this and having a really horrible, painful time during the dark, dark 3 miles at the end of all these races if the ultimate result is guarenteed to be failure? Who cares if my final fastest time is 1:34 or 1:10? I am highly unlikely to break the world record, I'm certainly not going to win any money and I don't need any more race T-Shirts. All seemed perfectly clear to me at the time.

Of course, by the time I'd caught my breath at the finish line I was over all of that, and now I've planned out the next 12 weeks training in excruciating detail. This will hopefully get me in shape to run the Los Gatos Jungle Half Marathon in less than 90 minutes - which is my ultimate goal for this distance in 2007. (I have no idea what the Jungle thing has do with Los Gatos, maybe they have released some lions to inspire you to run faster?)

So the plan between now and the big day of July 15th is all set. I need to get from a 7:11 pace to a 6:52 pace. Doesn't seem like much of a difference on paper, but 19 fewer seconds every mile is going to be tough. Also, I seem to have some sort of mental block in moving from 7:xx to 6:xx pace. I rarely get under 7:00 and when I do I am always amazed that I can actually run that fast. Doing it for 13.1 miles is still something my brain is struggling with.

Anyway, here's the keys to the training

Miles, lots and lots of them
Most of them will be at a relatively easy pace of 8:00-8:15. The basic format is 3 hard weeks getting steadily longer, followed by 1 shorter "cutback" week to give the body a chance to recover. Mileage will be 41,49,51,37,47,49,51,37,48,51,47,31 (race week)

Progressively faster speedwork
I begin this based on my current race pace, and I'll gradually go faster until I get to times based on my goal race pace. I do three types of speedwork....

Tempo runs. 1.5m mile warm up, gradually building up the speed, then run 3-6 miles at a pace about 10 seconds faster than race pace. Gradual slow down to finish with 1.5 miles cool down. I started these today with 3.5 miles at 7:00 over gently rolling hills, I end up in 12 weeks with 6 miles at 6:37 or faster. These are tough but I usually enjoy them.

Mile Repeats. 1/2 mile warmup, then run a fast mile on the track, 90 seconds jog to recover, then repeat for a total of 5 fast miles. Then a couple cool down miles to finish. Pace for these is about 30 seconds faster than race pace. I start these Friday at 6:40 pace and will end up at 6:24 or lower. These are just flat out ugly and unpleasant, so I figure they must be good for me.

Fast finish long runs. This is when you run the last 3-4 miles of a Sunday long run (12-16 miles) at half marathon race pace. These are actually fun in a sick kind of way.

10k races to assess progress
The first is in 4 weeks as an intermediate measure of progress. Plan is to run at 6:45, which will get me round in just under 42 minutes. My last 10k race (Jan 1st) was in 46:25 (7:28 pace) so I know I'll beat that since I run half marathons at a faster pace.

The second is in 8 weeks. The plan is to see if I'm really ready for a 1:30 half, which according to various running formulae equates to running a 10k at 6:30 pace (40:26 time). If I can do that, I then have 4 weeks to solidify the training and I will be ready for the lions of Los Gatos.

I must admit, it all looks absolutely perfect in excel, and the analytical/scientist side of me has already declared victory. But obviously the physical/athletic side of me still has it's work cut out.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Official Results From SC

Results from yesterday are up.

Official chip time was 1:34:10.9, so I was even closer to my goal than I thought.
The overall winner was 1:12:54 (>21 minutes faster!)

I was 69th overall, out of about 1,500 finishers - That is my first top 5% finish in a large race.
I was 62nd male out of about 700
I was 12th out of 187 in my age group (males 40-49)
- age group winner was 1:26:05 (8 minutes faster)

And for the first time ever in a large race, nobody over 60 or under 16 beat me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Santa Cruz Half

Today was the Santa Cruz Half Marathon - the 3rd in a series of 4 halves in my attempt to go from a time of 1:51 to under 1:30. The 1:51:51 was my first ever race back in October 2006, after just 6 of months running. The sub 1:30 is hopefully coming in July in Los Gatos. Intermediate steps along the way have been 1:38 in Feb on an overall downhill course, and 1:35:22 on a flat course just five weeks ago.
Goals for Santa Cruz were
1) Beat my PR of 1:35:22 - which would be good as it's a hilly course
2) Go under 1:34
3) If it all goes bad, slow down and take it easy to run the Parkway Half in 2 weeks

The plan was to try to run on pace (7:10) pretty much the whole way and try to make up any lost time due to the uphills on the downhill. I wasn't feeling too confident going in to this so I told myself if I can get thru mile 4 on pace (which ends at the top of a hill) I would go for it, otherwise I'd make it a training run. Weather was great (high 50's/low 60's and sunny) , after a wet, wet night, it cleared up and the sun came up just as the gun went off about 7:15.

The First Four Miles
Fairly big race (2,500 people including the 10k which started at the same time). Started near the front and managed to weave thru the crowds, get up the first hill and cover the first mile in 7:07. Miles 2,3 went by fast at 7:04 and 7:10. Mile 4 was the first hill and I got up that at 7:21. Average for 1-4 was 7:09 so the race was on!

Miles 5 to 8
Mile 5 started with a steep downhill and I hammered it at 5 something. That was a mistake and my quads complained bigtime. Settled down and got thru 5 at 6:59. 6 was painful (because of 5) at 7:22. 7 and 8 were on a trail overlooking the ocean which was an amazing view: these went by OK at 7:16 and 7:24. At this point I realised that my Garmin GPS was reading differently than the mile markers, so I stopped worrying about garmin pace and decided to just go by time at the mile markers.

Miles 9 and 10
9 had a big uphill and I pushed through some growing discomfort and managed to get over in 7:30, mile 10 was 7:14 but I was really beginning to hurt. based on the time at the 10 mile mark I figured 1:34 was going to be tough, and that I probably needed to run 7:05s all the way in.

Miles 11 and 12
Mile 11 was a big mental decision: my mind was telling me I was way off 1:34, my legs were telling me to ease off, coast it in and run the half in 2 weeks. I was tempted but decided I'd try to push through and see if I had it in me. Mile 11 at 7:15 but it hurt. A lot. Mile 12 had a little rolling hill which was probably only 30' but it almost killed me, and it seemed like the longest mile ever - pace was 7:32 (my slowest mile) and I was dragging. When I crossed the 12 mile post I knew I was way off 1:34, and even a PR was at risk if I didn't get my ass in gear.

Final 1.1
Just into mile 13 I caught someone, he kept with me for 20 steps and then he completely fell apart - this was a huge boost for me so I kicked with all I had (whch was not a lot). Got to the final downhill and somehow managed to keep my legs from buckling under me. Turned the final corner and saw the finish line just ahead. I was only at 1:39:50! Obviously mile markers were a little randomly placed - The last 100 yards were on the beach so I sprinted thru the sand with what felt like people were holding my ankles. Crossed the line at 1:34:12! I couldn't believe it. Final mile pace was 7:09 so I'd finished strong. If I'd known I was so close I could maybe have hit that mile 12 a little harder.

So bummer, I didn't beat 1:34, but I got a 70 second PR on a course with some hills. Plus I learned a little about mile markers in the process too! Overall I am really happy with the day - I stuck with it and didn't wimp out.

Now I have 12 weeks to train for the next one when I need to take 4:13 off my PR and run at 6:52 pace. That is going to fun.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ready or Not.....

So I'm done with my last real workout before Sunday's half marathon. Ran a 4 mile pace run this morning with the goal being to get settled running at race pace (7:10). Did just over four at 7:04 pace on a slight hill. (2 miles up, 2 miles down).

Took a while to get into a steady breathing pattern but I think that's just because I didn't warm up and started out uphill. Endied up at 164 heartrate which is about where I was after 4 miles the last time I ran a half marathon.

So I am as ready as I am going to be. Two days rest, a couple easy miles on Saturday and then it's off we go, ready or not.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Back on Track

So I think I am almost back on track following last week's overtraining (or perhaps it was overdrinking!)

After skipping my long Sunday, I skipped again Monday.
I ran an easy 5 on Tuesday, which felt OK.
Wednesday was a 7 mile tempo run with 3m at a 7:21 pace - this also felt pretty good.
Another easy 7 miler on Thursday.
Decided to skip Friday (family still town so needed to drink even more beer....).
Saturday was 6 miles at just under 8:00 pace, with a couple of low 7's in there for fun - this felt really good - best workout in a while.
Today was a long of 11, with 3.5 miles early on at 7:30 pace - all on an empty stomach, with only 1 water stop at 5 miles. That was tough. Feel a little tired now but much better than last week.

For some reason I'm not particularly confident about next Sunday's race, even though I have been training harder for this one. I'm trying to beat my PR by 1 minute 23 seconds (which is only 7 seconds/mile) but I've been off pace in most of my tempo runs and just feeling a little sluggish.

Hopefully a 5-6 mile tuneup run (at 7:10 race pace) on Wednesday will settle things down and leave me a little more confident that I can run Santa Cruz in under 1:34. At a minimum I need to beat 1:35:22!

Monday, April 9, 2007


So I think I've discovered what overtraining feels like.

the last three weeks have been hard training weeks:
...45 miles
...49 miles
...and a planned 54 miles this week

This Friday I went out to run some mile repeats up at the high school track and my legs felt dead. Really heavy and I had zero energy. Luckily there was a track meet at the school, so I couldn't do my repeats, so I just dragged my butt around for 9 painful miles at a slow (8:40) pace, feeling pretty bad the whole time. On Saturday I went out again and felt the same - managed a 6 mile tempo run but with only 3 "fast" miles (7:38). Came home feeling like crap and really tired. Fell asleep Saturday afternoon (which, thanks to my kids, I rarely do)

Sunday decided to bail on my long run completely. It was meant to be a long of 18 miles and I just didn't think it was going to help me very much, so in the spirit of "listening to my body" I wimped out.

Today I feel a lot better, so will probably go for a run late this afternoon instead of taking a rest day , to see how things are. Hopefully it'll be back to normal. Otherwise it's going to be a little hard to run Santa Cruz under 1:34 in 13 days.

Of course, it might not be overtraining at all, it might just be the fact that due to having my sister visiting this week I've been eating too much, drinking too much beer and hanging out in the hot tub.

Monday, April 2, 2007

One Year Running!

Happy Running Birthday to me!

It was one year ago today that I started running after spotting the AidsMarathon brochure in a pizza restaurant.

That first run (more accurately run/walk) was 3.06 miles at a struggling pace of 10:55. Last week I ran a 5k (3.1miles) at a pace of 6:38. What a difference a year makes!

I've gone through 4 pairs of shoes over the 1,252 miles, and have increased mileage up to a max of 50 per week. I've run 2 marathons, 3 half marathons, a 10k and two 5ks.

Running has pretty much taken over my life and I probably spend way to much time running, analysing my running, or planning my running. But if you're going to be addicted to something, it may as well be healthy.

Each race I run is a little faster than the last, so I'm still enjoying the (relatively) easy improvements that beginning runners see. I suspect that'll continue for maybe one more year then things will get a little tougher. At some point it will be impossible to shave of that next 3 minutes - and that's when I'll need to start doing something else.

For now though, it's all good. Running has certainly changed my life for the better and I really can't remember not doing it.