Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Recap & 2010 Plans

The year comes to a close, so it's time for the recap. First up, and most importantly, my first complete year of injury free running! Amazingly, I managed to listen to my body enough to not turn any small niggling pain into a full blown injury. Either this means I am maturing, getting stronger or have just run out of things to injure. Whatever the cause, it allowed me to run consistently for 12 months and do 2,805 miles for the year.


The year started with me rebuilding mileage after 2008's sports hernia surgery, and training for the Ottawa marathon in May. This ended up not quite being the race I wanted with a really unpleasant finish and a 3:03:33 time. I sensibly reduced mileage right afterwards, and then rebuilt for Chicago in October. This one was a great race and I got the sub 3 (2:58:13) I had been aiming for in a race where everything just went right on the day. As part of the training for that race I also had a kickass half marathon PR in San Francisco with a 1:23:47 time.

After Chicago I cut mileage way back and focused on some shorter races, and managed to PR in the mile (5:02 on a very downhill course), 5K (18:13 on a flat, fair course) and 10K 38:05 (on an accurate course with a pretty good hill).

I still feel that sub 5, sub 18 and sub 38 were all within my grasp with a little more focus, but I guess I have some goals for 2010 already set for me!

Here's the recap of my 2009 goals...

Distance
  1. Goal
  2. Stretch Goal
  3. Super Stretch Goal
Marathon
  1. sub 3 hour [DONE 10/11 2:58:13]
  2. sub 2:55 - not attempted
  3. sub 2:50 - not attempted
Half Marathon
  1. sub 1:27 [DONE 3/16 - 1:25:28]
  2. sub 1:25 [DONE 7/26 - 1:23:47]
  3. sub 1:20 - not attempted
10k
  1. sub 40 [DONE 4/23 - 38:38, 11/15 - 38:22, 11/26 - 38:07]
  2. sub 38 - attempted twice
  3. sub 36 - not attempted
5k
  1. sub 19 [DONE 3/9 - 18:53, 9/27 - 18:23, 12/5 - 18:13]
  2. sub 18 - attempted twice
  3. sub 17:30 - not attempted
Mile
  1. sub 5:30 - [DONE 12/12 - 5:02* (downhill!) ]
  2. sub 5:15 - [DONE 12/12 - 5:02* (downhill!) ]
  3. sub 5:00 - attempted once
Looking forward to 2010, the plan is to only run one marathon, which will be Berlin in September. This is a fast, flat course and I'd definitely be shooting for a PR, and probably aiming to go sub 2:55 if training has gone well. With another solid year of training since Chicago, this should be achievable.

Along the way I'd like to see how close to 1:20 I can get for the half, and of course get those sub18/sub38 times for the 5k and 10k. I will also be looking for a steep enough hill to run a mile down in 4 minutes something! And one new race this year will be Bay to Breakers, which is 12k. Fortunately I am now old enough that my times allow me to join the seeded start, so I can race it Vs having to wade through 10,000 walkers, so that will most likely be another PR.

Other than that I'll fit races into the schedule where it makes sense, and try to run consistent mileage all year, probably coming in with a total of somewhere around 3,000.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Feeling like Roger Bannister

OK, so today was my first ever mile race. I figured I was in about 5:20ish shape given other races and some track workout times. Race was in Golden Gate Park, and billed as downhill and fast!

Got to SF early and parked at the end of the race and ran to the start. Definitely not a flat course! Got to the startline, which was on top of the hill on JFK drive. Not only was it downhill, there was also a healthy tailwind. If I can't run a fast mile on this course I don't think I ever will. Wasn't sure about pacing as the course was so "not flat", so decided to run quickly and try to keep the wheels on. Weather was perfect. high 40's & overcast.
  • Gun goes off, and a lot of people go out way, way fast. Unfortunately this includes me. First 1/4 in 1:09 (4:37 pace) - but this included a drop of about 50' and felt OK, so I kept going.
  • 2nd quarter was 1:15 (5:02 pace) and only dropped 19'. Still feeling OK, but HR is now up to 180.
  • 3rd quarter I try to keep the effort steady based on HR and end at 182, for a 1:20 quarter.
  • Decide to push for the finish and try to catch a guy ahead, but things are starting to hurt. As I approach the line I can see the clock at 4:50....4:51...4:52 and I don't think I can get there sub 5. Cross at 5:02 after a final crazy sprint with another runner (who got a 5:01).
So this is a ridiculously fast course, with a 140' drop. I think I could have pushed a little harder in the 2nd/3rd quarters and found those 3 seconds to go sub 5. I'll definitely run this next time around and will get that 4:XX - I now know how Roger Bannister must have felt when he was trying to go sub 4 in the mile and kept getting 4:01's (although I suspect he would have easily run a 3:40 on this course!)

25 minutes later was the 5K. The first mile was the same mile I had just run, but the other way, so I knew this was not a PR course. Decided to just run it as a tempo (6:15-6:20 pace) and put on a sweathshirt and my Santa hat. Ran 6:43, 6:02, 6:09, 0:52 (last .15). Ran the last .15 hard as it was an uphill finish and I got into a sprint with a couple runners who were determined to beat the guy in the Santa hat! Overall 19:48 (6:17 pace) so it was a solid tempo. Even without running the mile there is no way I would have PR'd on this course today, so I think I made the right decision.

I might run a DSE 5K next weekend, which is a SF low key (ie. not accurately measured) race as I will be up there for a party Saturday night. Alternatively I may not bother as I suspect I will drink too much.

After that is a New Year's Day 5/10K in Palo Alto Baylands. Not sure which race I'll run yet but whichever it is I'll be gunning for a PR.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Frosty Four Hundreds

Track day today, and it was a chilly 30 degrees when I got there at 7:30 this morning. The track and football field were completely white - a veritable winter wonderland. I had smartly decided to wear gloves and a long sleeved shirt vs the usual singlet. But there was no wind, and the sun was slowly rising over the trees, so not really too bad when you consider the crap people put up with elsewhere in the world this time of year!

Took a couple miles to warmup, and by the time I was ready to go about half the track was in teh sun and there was a little warmth, but it was still cold out there. Goal was 10x400 under 1:20 with about 2 minutes recovery. I figured a 45 second walk followed by a 1:15 jog would be about 300 meters, so that was the plan.
  1. tried to run a steady relaxed 400, not looking at the watch. 1:21.7, felt pretty easy
  2. need to go a little quicker, 1:18.1. still feeling ok
  3. 1:16.3. ok, getting a little too fast, and definitely more of an effort.
  4. try to slow this one down, and got a 1:19.3 - still feeling alright
  5. 1:18.6 for the halfway point. now it is starting to feel like a workout
  6. 1:20.6 - lost some focus and had to push the last 100 to get an ok time.
  7. focus on pace, hit 1:20 exactly. unpleasant, thinking that 8 is probably enough for today
  8. Ouch - 1:22.1. no way I can bail out with that one. gotta do one more....
  9. 1:17.2 - much better. so decided i may as well do #10
  10. 1:20.2 for a solid finish
Overall average was 1:19.4, which is exactly 5:20 pace and what I was shooting for. Recovery started at 2:00 and crept up to about 2:20. Heartrate was pretty flat, with each run hitting a max of 175-177. It was still cold at the end, and had only climbed to 35 degrees when I got back to the car. Definitely happy to have been wearing the gloves.

There's a low key, uncertified 5K this weekend in San Francisco, and since I'll be up there on Sunday morning anyway I will be using that as a pacing practice to see if I can start a race at the correct pace, and then not slow down in mile 2.

Then the week after it's the mile and 5k combination. Looks like the mile course is fast, and the 5K isn't, so I will be going all out in the mile, and won't worry about saving anything for the 5K. I have never raced a mile so have no idea what to expect except for unpleasantness.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bah Humbug 5K

Saturday morning was the Bah Humbug 5K in San Ramon. Billed as a fast, flat, certified course I was hoping for a PR (18:22 or better) and if everything went perfectly, maybe a sub 18 result.

Weather was almost perfect, in the 40's, overcast, with a slight wind. Got there early enough to warmup by running most of the course, which seemed pretty good as a figure 8. There were more people than I expected (about 600) but it was a very wide startline so I had no problem getting a spot at the front.

for a 5K, 18:22 is 5:55 pace, and 17:59 is 5:47, so I knew what my range should be.

Gun went off and I was off crazy fast. I was in about 5th place but running like a lunatic. The first quarter mile was 79 seconds (5:20 pace), which would have been great if this was a mile race, or some 400 repeats at the track, but not so smart for a 18 minute 5K. The rest of mile 1 was more like 6:00 pace which got me through the mile in 5:49, which was about right timewise, but I was obviously running slower than I should due to the fast start.

Mile 2 starts and I'm already out of breath and thinking it was going to be a really, really bad day. Managed to hang on for a half mile at about 6:00 pace then a guy about my age passed me and I was ready to bail. Then I said, "Hey, what happens if I speedup, and try and run with this guy?". So that's what I did. Next half mile went by at 5:45 pace and I was thru mile 2 in 11:36, which is just a few seconds off 17:59 pace. It hurt, but not that much more than running at 6:00 pace.

Mile 3 started up the hill (not steep by any means, but it was enough to make a difference when running right on the edge of my limited abilities). I decided I had to go for it if I was going to get under 18, and pulled up alongside the guy, then moved ahead. This was not fun, and I was only running about 5:55 pace. he was hurting too, but managed to hang on as I passed. Held him off for half a mile and then he caught me again and I lost concentration and slowed way down to about 6:12 for a quarter mile.

I'd run the final .11 miles in warmup and had covered it in 35 seconds, so I figured if I could get to the mile 3 marker by 17:27 I had a chance. I picked it up again at 2.5 miles, chasing the other guy, and managed to get back down to 5:50-5:55. I hit the mile 3 marker at 17:33 and I knew I couldn't close in 27 seconds but went for it anyway. It took me 40 (5:31 pace) and I was dead at the line. Crossed at 18:13, for a 10 second PR, which was good for 12th overall, and 1st in my 40-44 age group.

So I was happy with the result. Another stupid start (possibly my dumbest ever!), but I managed to stay strong in mile 2 for a change by staying with the guy that passed me (he beat me by about 5 seconds in the end). So the next race I need to focus on steady pace, a reasonable first mile (~5:50), a strong 2nd (5:47) and then a fast finish (5:45). Hopefully that will get me those next 14 seconds.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Racing a mile

As part of my "run some short races" phase I am going to race a mile. There's a mile race and a 5K on 12/20 in Golden Gate Park, and you can do both (mile is 30 minutes before the 5K). Now I expect that this may well screwup my 5K a little but I'm going to give it a shot. Various websites indicate I should be able to do a mile somewhere around 5:15-5:30, which sounds awfully quick to me. Now I rarely run anywhere near that fast except for strides so decided I'd better see what it is like.

So it was off to the track yesterday for some 400 meter running! Planned to do 8-10 x 400m at 5:20 pace (just under 1:20 for the lap) with a walk/jog lap recovery.

Decided I wouldn't really look at the watch, just run fast.
  • First one was too fast and I ran about 71! It was 4:45 mile pace, although I wasn't gonna be doing 3 more at that pace anytime soon.
  • Next was 75 seconds, so a little more reasonable at 5:02 pace
  • Next 5 were all between 76 and 79 for 5:06-5:19 pace
  • For the final one I went for it and managed a 73 for 4:54 pace
  • Average was 76.4 for the 8. So that's about 5:07 pace
I'm thinking that I'll do another round of this before 12/20 and see if I can run 10 of them consistently at about 77 (5:10 pace) with the recovery limited to 2 minutes (some were up to 2:45 yesterday) and if that works out, I will try to go sub 5:15 in the race.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Trot

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot yesterday. My cunning taper plan involved running some hilly trails in the desert, hiking at the top of the mountain with my son, eating too much, and drinking too much beer. So despite weighing in at 155 (I was12 lbs lighter at my lightest) I was rested and carbo loaded!

Goal was a PR (38:22) and hopefully sub 38 minutes (6:07 pace). Weather was perfect (mid 40's, sunny, no wind). Course flat and certified. A "no excuses" race if ever there was one!

It was a big race with 11,000 runners combined for the 5k and 10k. I started a couple rows back and had a clean start.
  • First mile seemed really fast, but there were some buildings so maybe garmin got confused as it had me going at 5:45 pace. I hit the mile marker in 5:56, which seemed a little more likely.
  • Mile 2 was better, and I settled into low 6 minute pace. Passed the marker at 12:03, for a perfect 6:07 split.
  • Mile 3 I slowed a little and was feeling it, kept going about 6:10 but crossed the marker at 18:19 for a 6:15 split. The 5k runners had turned off and the course really thinned out. This is not my best time in a 10K and I was not having any fun. But 18:19 was 1 second faster than my 37:59 plan so I was still in this race!
  • Mile 4 was a battle to keep going strong. I just hate mile 4, and always slack off. Managed to get thru it in 6:14. Feeling bad, and now about 6-7 seconds off pace. sub 38 was looking hard and the PR was now seriously at risk.
  • We hit the turnaround right at the start of the fifth mile and I decided it was time to STFU and run. I caught and passed the 2 people that had been 20 yards ahead for the last mile. Then started the long home stretch. Got down to low 6 pace for a bit but was struggling. Ended up doing mile 5 in about 6:14 so my little kick at the turn hadn't helped all that much! 30:48 at the marker, against a plan of 30:34.
  • Mile 6, just 8 minutes to go. Picked it up and got back down under 6 minute pace. Hurt a lot, but I can do this for just a few more minutes and I held off the runner behind me. Mile 6 marker came up quickly after 5:44, so I knew it was wrong (should have been 5:55). I was at 36:33 against a plan for 36:41. However, if mile 6 is short, that usually means that the next part will be long.....
  • Final .213 miles. This should be about 1:18 at 6:07 pace and I was going faster than that. However it was more than .213 miles and I took 1:32. Crossed the line at 38:05, barely missing the sub 38, but at least salvaging a 17 second PR.
Official result was 38:07, 31st plcae out of 3,200+ runners, and 5th in my age group. Too fast in mile 1 (as usual) and then sloppy in miles 3/4/5 but with a fairly good finish. I did a good job running the tangents on the curvy streets but really need to watch that early pace and somehow find a way to gut it out in those middle miles.

Next up is the Bah Humbug! 5K in San Ramon on Saturday December 5th.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

19 Again

Feels just like college.....

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

This is not good....

Restaurant has 160+ draft beers.... Not gonna help my 10k on Thursday

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Down hill

Time to run back down this thing....

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Climbing....

Not sure how far I've climbed but I found this!

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Trail Photos

Decided to take my phone for some photos on my trail run this morning. 12 miles out/back up some mountain. This is about mile 2.

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Palm Springs Running

In Palm Springs so am running on some hilly trails.  An "easy" 5 miler this morning involved an 800' climb up the mountain.

On the plus side, we got upgraded to the Presidential Suite at the hotel.  It's literally bigger than our house. The kids can't believe it.

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Sunday, November 15, 2009

HomeRun 10k

Time for the next 10k. Went into this thinking that my goal of capitalizing on my marathon fitness to bag some short race PRs may be somewhat flawed. But the weather was nice, this is usually a well organized race so I decided to run it anyway. Cold at the start (40 degrees) but no wind and clear skies.

Course looked good with a 100' hill at mile 4ish. Plan was low 6's until the hill, struggle up, and then kick it to the finish, hopefully under 38:38.

Got on the start line and tried to pick out the fast guys I could follow.

Fast start (5:40 pace) as we went slightly uphill, got under control by 1/2 mile and was running in about 6th place. 4 people clearly faster than me (hopefully all younger too!), 1 shirtless/tatoo guy who could be 40+ but I figured I'd catch him. First mile marker off, but cruising at around 6:00 pace.

Mile 2 was solid and we went thru 2 at 12:00. Feeling pretty good, running with a 20 something guy in 6/7 place.

Mile 3 - another younger guy passed us, but we caught the shirtless tatoo guy, who went out too fast. A little up/down in 3 but we went thru in 18:14, so had slowed to 6:14.

Mile 4 started to climb, and I was struggling to hang with the 2 young guys. I was within 5 yards as we hit the #4 marker in 24:35 - so it had slowed to a 6:21 mile.

Next mile was the hill for real, it had started earlier than I expected and was steeper than I remembered. The two young guys were pulling away so I let them go to make sure I got to the top of the hill with something left for the rest of the race. Hit the top just before mile 5 in 31:08, for a 6:32 mile. I figured it was 7 minutes home from there, so was looking like a PR was gonna happen.

At this stage the 2 young guys were about 20 yards ahead, and I decided I was gonna get them. Picked it up to about 6:00 pace and was gaining on them, but not fast enough. Decided, due to some fuzzy math, that I could go sub 38 if I hammered it the last mile, so went for it. Dropped to 5:35 pace, caught the two guys and just kept going. They fell back fast but I was dying. HR hit 190 (highest I have every seen) and I knew I had kicked a little early. Held on at 6:00 pace for the next half mile and got to mile #6 in 37:05. The young guys caught me but I'd tried!

Final .22 I knew would take about 1:15, if I kicked again so managed to get back down to 5:45 pace. Finished at 38:22, which is a 16 second PR. Goof for 7th place and 1st in my old person age group.

It was a good event for a change! Well marked, well marshaled, accurate. I could have done a better job running tangents as there were a fair number of curves, and I think I should have run a better mile 3 & 4 as it wasn't hilly enough to deserve a 6:14 & 6:21. I was happy with my final mile effort, although my devastating finishing kick may have been a little early. But then, the sub 38 was there if I could have kept it up!

I think with a flat course, similar competition, a little more focus in those middle miles and no suicide kick at mile 5 1/4 I have a reasonable shot at sub 38. Thanksgiving day at the SV Turkey Trot looks like the ticket, unless i decide to run in this.....



Friday, November 13, 2009

The Next Non-10K?

Another race at Stanford this weekend. It's the Habitat for Humanity Homerun 5K and 10K. I ran this in 2007 and it was pretty well organized, so I was hoping for a change from the last 2 races. Today got an email from a friend saying race has moved, and there is an "Exciting New Course". Hmmmm...... exciting doesn't exactly sound like fast, flat and certified does it?

No mention of certification but the course looks OK. Still has the hill but it avoids the construction going on up and down Campus Drive. This race is still part of the Palo Alto Grand Prix, so I have my fingers crossed that they have measured it and it's going to be a 10,000 meter 10K, and not some other "Exciting" distance!

Since the course has changed I haven't got a complicated pace plan (which may be a good thing since I don't seem to be able to follow them anyway!) I'm gonna shoot for low 6 pace (6:05ish) until we get to the hill (mile 4), then keep a steady, even effort up the hill, which will be about mile 4 1/2. And then it's time to hammer it home, taking advantage of the downhill.

On the plus side, I suspect the new location will mean some fast people won't be able to find the start, thus increasing my chances at winning some more giant sized socks and another ugly hat.

Yesterday, in preparation for this great event, I went to the track for some 1600 meter work. Plan was 3 x 1600 in 6:00 with a slow 400 recovery jog (so around 6:02 pace, which is slightly faster than my 10k goal pace). First was 5:54, and felt OK. #2 was 5:53 and felt the same. Did the first 1200 of #3 just about on pace in 4:25 and then decided to go for it in the final lap. Ran an 81s 400 to finish in 5:46. That last lap hurt! Any dream of me running a 5 minute mile anytime soon died during that lap! (5 minute mile equals 74.5s laps)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Not All Races Are Equal

So in theory, if you have a flat, fast, certified course, good weather and a little competition you have all the necessary elements for a good race.

And then there is reality......

The missing element is having people involved in organizing the race who know the course, and are there to direct the runners about which way to go. I'd been taking that piece for granted and found out yesterday what happens without it.

Started fast in the 10K on a supposed good course, and was running in a group of 3 behind the leader who was off like a shot. Well, he missed the first turn, so we yelled and he came back. We then ran for a bit and went past the registration site for the race. Lots of enthusiastic yells of "Go Runners!", but not a lot of response to our question of "Go where, exactly?". We kept going in what seemed like the right direction but a six foot wall and a bunch of trash cans had us doubting our choice...... We stopped as the leader dug out a map and to find the correct route. At this point (about 3/4 mile) I bailed and decided I'd see if I could get back to the start in time for the 5K.

Got there OK and had about 5 minutes to recover (but a 6 minute mile isn't a good 5k warmup).

That started OK, but at the first turn they mis-directed us the long way, and did the same thing again later at mile 2. I didn't run great as I wasn't mentally ready for 5K pace, but I still managed to catch a couple people in the second half and come in 5th pace overall. Got first in my weird 36-50 age group to win a gift basket of "stuff" including some size 14 running socks and an ugly hat.

Time was really slow at 19:33, on a long course with lots of 90 degree turns. According to Garmin I ran at 6:04 pace, which was about my plan for the 10k, so I guess I didn't get my mind into 5k mode quick enough.

Oh well, hopefully next week is a little more successful! (although I doubt I'll win any giant socks)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Time for Some 10Ks

The next 2 races will be 10Ks. They are both at Stanford, and both have the same course, which I ran back in 2007. It's certified (and hopefully the actual race will be the same as the mapped race this time!)
It's got a small climb around mile 2-2.5 and then runs downhill for the next mile or so. A couple sharp turns near the end which I recall messed my pace last time, but overall an OK course.

I haven't raced a 10K since June 2008, and have never gone under 40 minutes in a 10K race (although I have done a sub 40 10K during a half marathon). My fastest 10K was a solo time trial on the track in 38:38 in April of this year. Anyway, 38:38 is definitely a soft PR compared to my 5K, half and full marathon PRs, so I should be able to beat it pretty easily in one or both of the next 2 races.

According to the various race time calculators if I compare my other race distances to predicted 10K times I should be able to go somewhere between 37:45 and 38:15, with everything averaging out at 37:58. So the obvious goal is to get under 38 minutes (6:06 pace).

Knowing that my pacing sucks in short races I am going to focus in race 1 on pacing according to plan, which I have laid out to accommodate the hill. Then depending on how that goes, refine things for race #2.

Here are the goal paces
  • Mile 1 6:06 pace (and not 5:45 like I normally start!)
  • Mile 2 6:10 pace (hill starts - keep a steady effort) - 12:16
  • Mile 3 6:30 pace for first half (the hill), 6:02 for 2nd half, 6:16 average - 18:32
  • Mile 4 6:02 pace - 24:34
  • Mile 5 6:02 pace - 30:36
  • Mile 6 6:06 pace - 36:42
  • Final .213 6:01 pace - 37:59 (6:06.7 average pace)
I like the fact I have a practice run to see how this plays out, and will be able to look at HR etc afterwards to adjust these.

And yes, I will be wearing the shoes!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shoes Too Slow?

5K this morning. Wasn't sure if I was fully recovered from Chicago but decided to go for it anyway. Flat, certified race, good weather, looked some there'd be some competition around about 18-18:30. Hoping to PR (under 18:22 - 3:40/KM, 5:55/mile)

Started fast as usual with a half mile at 5:44 pace. Found myself in 4th place, with 2 much faster guys ahead and one person just ahead. Then I kinda lost focus and had a crappy mile at 6:02 and let about 4 people go past. Very lame. Definitely need to work on that part of the race.

Got it back together at 1.5 miles and did a 5:42 mile, starting to catch a group of 4 people who were about 100 yards ahead. Then I couldn't keep it up and did the next half at 6:04 pace.

It was about here that we got detoured due to construction and instead of a nice path, ran up a ramp, round a fountain and down another ramp. Managed to pick it up for the final stretch and closed at 5:27 pace feeling pretty bad.

Got 8th place overall in 18:38, which was only 4th in my age group (too many fast old people round here!). Course was a little long due to the detour - Garmin measured 120 meters over 5K, which from looking at the map seems about right. So official pace was 6:00, Garmin pace was 5:51. No PR today - I think the shoes aren't quick eneough.

A little annoying when you choose flat, certified races and then they don't run the same course as they have a certificate for, but I guess that's part of the challenge.

10K is next - Hopefully that'll be better. 38:38 to beat, which is a relatively soft PR.

Update: just checked the results online and it seems I was 7th overall and 3rd in my age group. So I guess I should have hung around for my award. Oh well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Track Time and Racing

So I have found a bunch of local 5K and 10K races in the next 2 months. I now have a hastily assembled, poorly structured, high speed, low mileage, overly aggressive training schedule that gives me many opportunities to try out my shiny new green shoes.

The result should be monster PRs in 5 and 10K racing times, or humiliating oxygen depleted defeat to a bunch of schoolkids, or injury, or some combination of the above.

I have 9 races identified, so it's pretty much a race every weekend. I'll also be doing some speedwork most weeks, some tempo running and the rest is just easy miles (with the occasional 100 meter strides thrown in for fun). Probably running low 40's most weeks.

One of the main things I need to improve is staying on pace during these short fast races. I have a tendency to slow down because it hurts. Well, I think the point is that it is supposed to hurt, so running a few more of them will hopefully help me get over my wimpiness.

Hit the track yesterday morning (it was cold) and did some 1,000 meter intervals. Plan was for 5x1,000 in 3:34 (5:44 pace) with 400 meter jog recovery in between each. Went OK. #1 too fast at 3:30, then the rest were 3:35, 3:37, 3:35, 3:35. Not sure what happened with #3, probably paying the price for going too quick in #1.

5K this Sunday at Stanford. Not gonna shoot for a sub 18 (5:47 pace) just yet, but hoping to get under my current PR of 18:22 (5:54 pace). But to be honest, I'm not sure I will make that time as it's still only 3 weeks post Chicago and the legs are probably still recovering.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Back to Reality

So after all the fun of Chicago, it's back to reality. I've decided that having met the big sub-3 goal, I am going to step away from marathon training for a while. There are a number of contributing factors here:
  1. It's hard work running lots of miles every week, and I'm tired
  2. I am old and creaky and things will break if I keep doing this
  3. Next race was planned as Boston, in April, and it clashes with spring break so have decided to not screw up the family vacation plans for "yet another race"
  4. I want to see if I can put in some decent times for shorter races
So the plan is to skip Boston, and do some short stuff. I am hoping that with the right focus and several attempts I can get my 5K, 10K and half marathon PRs down from where they are right now. I'm going to start by doing some 10Ks in November, and some 5Ks in December. There's a fast half on Superbowl day (Feb 7th) and finally Bay to Breakers (12K) in May.

So the training for now is going to be only 40-45 miles per week but with more focus on speed at the track. Since initially it's 10Ks I'll be doing longer distances like 1200s and 1600s. Then when I switch to 5Ks I'll do some shorter stuff 1000s, 800s and 400s. I'll still be doing tempo runs most weeks, but usually in the 4-5 mile range instead of the extended ones I have been doing. Long runs become much shorter, usually only around 10-12 miles.

To help with all of this fast stuff, I bought some very ugly fast shoes. Tried them out today with 4x400m at the track and they are super light and feel good.


I'll step the mileage up a bit in Jan as I start to gear up for the Kaiser half marathon. Not suer what I'll do between Feb and May, I guess it will depend on how things have gone.

Then after Bay to Breakers I'll come back to marathons with Berlin in September 2010, where hopefully my new found high end speed, and a solid training program will propel me to some great new time!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chicago Marathon


Background
My second attempt at a sub 3 hour marathon, and this was the flattest marathon course there is – the biggest hill is a massive 24 feet! The weather was promising to be good and training had gone well, so this was definitely a “no excuses” race. If I screw this one up it was time to find a new sport!

Pre-Race
Woke up early, about 5:30 Chicago time, after a reasonable nights sleep and got some food & Gatorade down and got ready to go. Forecast was for cold temps (30’s), but I hate being too warm when I run so it was still going to be shorts, singlet and gloves. I did pick up some arm warmers at the marathon expo just to make sure my arms didn’t fall off. I left the hotel at 6:15 to walk the mile to the start and the temperature was just 32 degrees. I was glad I had some throw-away sweats on as it was pretty damn cold hanging around chatting nervously with the other runners.

The Start
After a couple of trips to the boys’ room (OK, one was a portaloo, one was a tree), the start corral had filled up and we were approaching start time (7:30). We did the national anthem and the crowd was getting pretty pumped up - everyone threw their sweats to the side as we counted down to the start. The gun went off and we were moving, I crossed the line just 8 seconds later and it was game time! The crowd was already huge and noisy and I was feeling ready to go! Then I remembered that 5 minute miles were not the plan and got myself back under control.

The first 10K
My plan was to run a steady, constant pace and not go off like a bat out of hell like last time. Each 5K was planned around 21:10, which should bring me home at 2:59:00 – so that’s a 6:49 pace for 26.2 miles. Mile 1 was a little quick at 6:42, so I consciously slowed and did 2 & 3 at 6:47. 5K came in 21:03 (6:47 pace) and I was in a groove. It wasn’t crowded around me, the support was awesome and I was on my way. Next 5K was uneventful and it clicked by in 21:05 (6:47 pace), still feeling like an easy Sunday long run.

The second 10K
At this point I started talking with another runner. He was an 800 meter college runner, doing his first marathon. Turned out he was 22 and had used up all his eligibility as a college runner and decided to run a marathon before he got old and slow. He didn’t really have a time goal so we just started running together chatting away. Next two 5Ks were 21:05 (6:47 pace) and 21:18 (6:51 pace) and we went through 20K (12.4 miles) in 1:24:35 (6:48 pace), about 20 seconds ahead of pace. It was still feeling really easy.

The third 10K
As we approached the half I started looking for my support crew (Liz, my wife and my running friend’s wife). We headed back over the river into downtown and the crowd got really noisy. I was really pumped up and we were flying! I spotted Liz just at mile 13 as she yelled. We turned the corner and then entered the noisiest part of the course. Unbelievable support! My pace picked up with all the excitement (to about 6:35) and I was feeling like a million bucks. 5K times were 21:09 (6:48) and 21:02 (6:46). That was 30K down in 2:06:33, so I was now about 40 seconds ahead of plan. I was really surprised to see Liz again about mile 17, she’d run a couple miles to get to the next corner. Gave me another big boost!

The fourth 10K
This is where things can get ugly in a marathon, as I found out in Ottawa so I was very conscious of what my legs were feeling like. Quads were tightening up, but everything else felt good. I was done with the Gatorade I’d been carrying and I took my first and only Gu about mile 18. I was still feeling fine and decided this was gonna be my day. Mike, my new college running companion, was still with me and he was feeling good too. We were still chatting away, although a little less than before, and he said “No matter what happens, we are going under 3:10”. Having been on pace at mile 20 before and seen things go belly up real fast I wasn’t so sure. But we were still flying along like clockwork and did another 21:08 5K. Then about mile 22 he said “Fuck!” and was gone, he had cramped up badly, stopped on a dime and went to the side. I mumbled “good luck” and kept going. Felt bad for a second for not stopping but then got over it and got back on track. The course then turned back North for the final 3 miles. It was into the wind and people were starting to fade. I still felt great so kept pushing. I was passing people pretty steadily and did another 5K in 21:14.

The final stretch
At this point I knew sub 3 was mine unless something horrible happened. The crowd was massive and was really noisy. I was feeling better than ever and just kept going. There were the usual last few mile casualties and I felt a little guilty as I flew by. With ½ mile to go I reach the big 24’ hill. It seemed bigger than that as I ran up it, but I was on fire and nothing was gonna slow me down. I was sprinting now, passing a ton of people. As I rounded the final turn I had just 400 meters to go. The crowd was incredibly noisy and I ran right by the stands high fiving people as I went by – I didn’t care about the few seconds I lost, I felt incredible. I have never felt that good running and I crossed the line in 2:58:13. It was an amazing experience, and I was pretty emotional and pretty exhausted as it all sank in. It’s weird to finally do something you’ve been working at for so long.

Afterwards
Pretty much the second I stopped I realized it was really cold, it was still 37 degrees. I drank 3 gatorades fast and then heard Liz yelling at me from behind the fence. She’d made it to the end to see me finish but I’d missed her in my excitement. She had brought me some dry clothes so I put them on – what a great support team!

Overall it was a perfect race. My pacing was on the money with my 5K times being all between 20:56 and 21:18. I ran the second half 5 seconds faster than the first. Weather was perfect, course was perfect, organization was perfect and the crowd was unreal, especially Liz hauling ass around Chicago in freezing temps to cheer me on. And later I found out that Mike got over his cramp and ended up finishing just about 45 seconds behind me.

It was a new PR for me by more than 5 minutes, and I was 681st out of 45,000 registered runners, 81st in the male 40-44 division.

So now I get to kick back for a while and enjoy the feeling of being a 2-something marathon runner, which was beyond my wildest expectations when I started running just over 3 years ago!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

So it looks like the technology failed at the halfway point and the updates stopped. Luckily I didn't!

Ran a 2:58:13, which is a 5 minute PR for me. Came 683rd out of 45,000 runners. First half 1:29:08, 2nd half 1:29:05. Felt good all the way to the end. Pretty much a perfect day for running, with temps around freezing to start and high 30's at the finish.

Grisly details to follow, after a lot of beer has been consumed.

RUN Alert

Alan Fletcher, 02:58:13 (net) @ Finish (unofficial). Pace 6:47. Presented by Verizon Wireless.

RUN Alert

Alan Fletcher, 02:06:33 (net) @ 30K. Pace 6:47. Predicted 02:57:50. Presented by Verizon Wireless.

RUN Alert

Alan Fletcher, 01:29:08 (net) @ Half. Pace 6:47. Predicted 02:57:50. Presented by Verizon Wireless.

RUN Alert

Alan Fletcher, 00:42:08 (net) @ 10K. Pace 6:46. Predicted 02:57:24. Presented by Verizon Wireless.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ready To Go

So it is just 6 days until Chicago, and this training cycle is pretty much over. Did a 13 miler on Sunday and all I have left is some easy runs and a couple of marathon paced miles on Wednesday.

Then all I need to do is run 26.2 miles in less than 3 hours to make the last 4 months mean something!

This training cycle has been good. I kept the higher mileage element of my Edinburgh 2008 training (which helped me a lot in the last 6 miles) and the speedwork element of my Ottawa 2009 training (which helped me a lot with making 6:52 feel like a comfortable pace).

I am hoping that the combination of the two is going to work out. I compared the various training components from the three cycles and most of the numbers show I should be able to go under 3 if I don't do anything dumb, such as running first 5k in 19:30 and not the planned 21:10 like I did in Ottawa.

Mileage has been solid, with a couple weeks peaking in the low 90s. Not quite where I was for Edinburgh, but I am trying to train without the need for post-race surgery this time around.

Weather forecast is looking pretty much ideal, with temps forecast to be in the 40's, with light winds and partly cloudy. If that holds it's looking good.

I have a start in Corral A, which should get me over the start within a minute of the gun, so I have no excuses about crowding and having to weave through a bunch slower runners.

The course is pancake flat so the pacing plan is pretty simple. I'm planning to go for 2:59:00, which is 6:50 pace, so I'll pretty much start out at 6:50 pace and stay there for the next 3 hours. Not quite sure if I will start with the 3 hour pace group (6:52 pace) for the first few miles and then pick it up once I've settled down, or if I'll just go out on my own from the gun. Guess I'll see how the start goes, I added an extra 10 seconds to mile 1, so that is 6:59 followed by a bunch of 6:49/6:50s.

I am going to take a sports bottle of Gatorade for the first 5-6 miles to A) avoid the inevitable chaos at the early water stops, and B) get some early calories in. Usually in marathons I don't handle race nutrition too well, so am thinking the extra 150 calories of Gatorade early will help me in those last 3-4 miles when the wheels are starting to fall off. I did that on a number of my longer runs this time and they seemed to end better than the others.

It's a big race (40,000+) and if you look at the times from 2006, a 3 hour finish should be round about 1,000th place (last 2 years were crazy hot so far fewer broke 3).

Splits should automagically appear on my blog as I cross the timing mats due to the wonders of modern technology. I'm not sure exactly which splits will show, or if they are gun time (time since the start gun went off) or chip time (net time since I crossed the start line), but if things are going well my chip times will be around these splits:
  • 5k 21:19
  • 10k 42:28
  • 15k 1:03:38
  • 20k 1:24:50
  • Half 1:29:29
  • 25k 1:46:02
  • 30k 2:07:14
  • 35k 2:28:27
  • 40k 2:49:39
  • Finish 2:59:00
So that's the plan, pretty much nothing else to do now but run.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trailblazer 5k

A 5k today, which is probably the softest of my PRs to beat at 18:53 (adjusted to take into account a ridiculously short course when I ran an 18:06).

I had two goals, with the A goal being sub 18 (or 5:47 pace), and the B goal being sub 6 minute per mile pace (18:36). Based on my recent running, A was a stretch, and B should have been fairly easy.

It was a warm day, so I was happy to be doing the 5 and not the 10k.

Start was fast, fueled by the youthful exuberance of half a dozen 10-11 year olds who were off like a shot. Usually they fade after quarter mile but these guys hung together and went thru the first half mile around 5:30 pace. I let them go as I figured they may be young but they are unlikely to keep that up for 5k, and the maturity of 43 years, and the endurance of running 70 miles/week hopefully comes youth and ability.

I went thru mile 1 in 5:47, dead on pace for 17:59. There were 3 runners a good 20 seconds ahead, then 3 of the little guys still hanging in there, and then me. I was feeling the effort from the pace and was pretty sure sub 18 was not happening. I was hoping that the others were feeling it too!

The 3 kids faded a little in the next half mile and by the time we turned I was clearly in 4th place, with no-one really around me. We crossed a rickety bridge which cost a few seconds and mile 2 was done in 6:00. I was hurting, and not enjoying myself all that much. (Note to self - 5K's suck).

Managed to hang on for mile 3, also at 6:00 with no lead changes. I could barely see #3 up ahead and didn't see/hear #5 so just kept going, trying not to throwup or collapse.

Managed to pick it up for the crowd at the end and got down to 5:30 pace for the final .1 mile despite being completely on my own, coming in at 18:22, or 5:55 pace. Took 4th overall, and was fortunately a good 45 seconds ahead of everyone who is in the same school as my kids! 3rd place was over 30 seconds ahead so I'm glad I didn't go all out to try and catch him.

So in between goals A and B which is kinda what I expected. Plus it was my first ever race under 6 minute pace!

So a little over 60 for the week. This week will be 45ish, so that is pretty much it now until Chicago. I'll do a few tempo miles, some pace miles, and maybe some 1600s at the track, but nothing difficult. Hopefully the hay is in the barn as they say.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chicago Week 12 Training - Taper Time

One day ahead of schedule, but close enough to done for the week. Ran my eight and final 20+ miler this morning taking me into my final three week taper. Tomorrow should be an easy 8-10 miler and then it's off to watch the Niners beat Seattle!

Here's how the week went....
  • Monday - easy 6 miles
  • Tuesday - easy 11 miles
  • Wednesday - 6x1,200 at the track (see last post)
  • Thursday - 9 miles on rolling hills in Napa (7:30 pace)- nice run
  • Friday - silly hilly mountain trail in Napa, turned into a hike when it got to 25% grade
  • Saturday - 20 miles with 2x3 miles at marathon pace (6:47, 6:53) - felt good. I am ready.
  • Sunday - should be an easy 8-10 miler
  • Total - low 70s
So now it's taper time. Mileage should be down to mid 60s this week including 5-6 tempo miles and maybe 3-4 1200s at the track, plus a 5k or 10k on Saturday. However, the weather forecast predicts some crazy temps (>100 degrees) for next week so I am not going to worry too much about miles. If it's hot on Saturday I wont race the trailblazer 5/10k as I know that really hot races suck, and more importantly, I suck at running them quickly.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Track Time

Wednesday morning track fun again today. After last week's successful track workout it was time to see if it was a lucky one-off, or if I could do it again.

Plan was for 6 x 1,200 meters, with easy jog recovery lap. Goal time between 4:15 and 4:18 (85-86 second 400s, 5:42-5:46 mile pace, VDOT 57-56). Weather was low 60s, sunny, no wind.

Ran a couple miles warmup at the track, including 3 100 meter pace sprints in 19s (a little fast, as usual, they should be 21). Off we go....
  1. 4:13 - after fast 200 I got on pace and stayed there - felt OK
  2. 4:17 - lost concentration about 800m into this one
  3. 4:17 - tough closing this one out
  4. 4:18 - told myself if I finished this one quick (4:15) I could quit after 4 - 4:18 not good enough, so #5....
  5. 4:19 - made the same deal as #4 and missed it again
  6. 4:15 - decided to go out fast and see what happened. Well, it turned out that it was too fast (80s for first 400m) and the next 800m hurt like hell, but I ran the time I was shooting for (which was good, as #7 was not gonna happen)
Overall not too bad, with a 4:17 average (5:44 pace). Only one of them was slower than the planned pace range. I am thinking that I should aim for about 5:50 pace for the 5k in 10 days, which would be 18:07, although the attraction of 17:xx will probably cause me to attempt something stupid.....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chicago Week 11 Training

Alright, 11 weeks done, 4 weeks to go. Ran all 7 days this week (9 runs) and it went well. Feeling in good shape as I get closer to the race. Schedule called for a big week (100 miles) but I knew I wasn't going to go all out as 70-80 seems to be about what I can handle without needing to take some timeoff, and was planning to come in somewhere around 80. Here's how it went....
  • Monday - AM 6 easy, PM 6 easy
  • Tuesday - 5 easy
  • Wednesday - AM kickass trackwork (see Wed's post), PM 6 easy
  • Thursday - PM 7.5 easy
  • Friday - 14 easy
  • Saturday - tempo (ran a 10k time trial with a friend) 6.22m at 6:35
  • Sunday - 21.5 pretty slowly at 8:21
Overall it was just over 79 miles. Things feel good, heartrate is low compared to last training cycle, and Wednesday's track workout was a good confidence boost. I can definitely feel that I am on the edge of pushing too hard but think I am just on the good side of trouble - Cutting the mileage in these big weeks has helped there. One more big week up around 80 next week, and then it's taper time (which will be something like 65, 50, 30+race).

Then all I need is some reasonable weather in Chicago.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Runner Tracking

Thank you for signing up to receive free athlete updates on race day.

So, if technology works on the day, my 10k, half marathon, 30k and finish times will automagically appear on the blog.......

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Track Time (finally...)

After a couple half hearted attempts to do track work I decided it was tme to get serious, and stop making excuses about the weather (although 90+ is too hot for trackwork), or sleeping in. So this morning I went to the track determined to run 5x1,200 meters between 4:18 and 4:25 (5:46 to 5:55 pace).

I looked back over my previous track workouts and found that it was 2 months exactly since I did any real workout, and that was 4x1,200 in 4:24. I should be fitter than I was 2 months ago, but not necessarily faster as I have done very little fast stuff recently.

A mile warmup at the track (drove there instead of running as I was tight on time), and then some 100m pace setting sprints - for once, these were not wildly off pace - goal pace is about 21-22 and i ran them at 19, 21 and 21, so OK.

Weather was pretty much ideal, 58 degrees, overcast, almost zero wind. The plan was for a slow 400m jog between each 1,200. Here's how it went..
  1. 4:20.3 (5:49 pace) - HR max'd at 175 - felt comfortable
  2. 4:15.7 (5:42 pace) - HR max'd at 177 - still felt OK
  3. 4:15.2 (5:42 pace) - HR max'd at 179 - felt that one!
  4. 4:15.0 (5:42 pace) - HR max'd at 180 - felt that one too, but not too bad
  5. 4:10.8 (5:36 pace) - HR max'd at 184 - Decided to push the second 600 and definitely felt it!
Average was 4:15 (5:42 pace), which was 4 seconds faster than my best ever average (and that was just for 4). That final 4:10 was 6 seconds faster than I have ever run 1,200 before. Next week I'll add in a sixth 1,200 and try to keep them at 4:15 or better. Need to do a little research to see how to equate this to a 5k or 10k race but I am feeling good about beating my current 10k PR (38:38 ~ 6:13 pace) or 5k PR (18:52 ~ 6:04 pace) in the coming weeks. I would love to go 37:xx and 17:xx but I'm not sure how realistic that is, especially the 17. Guess I will find out soon enough.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chicago Week 10 Training

As expected, this week ended up being lower in miles than my aggressive schedule said, but it was an OK week.
  • Monday - took a day off to recover from Sunday's fast miles
  • Tuesday - a 5.5m tempo at 6:28 pace. Was planning to run a few more at pace but bathroom issues stopped that!
  • Wednesday - 2 easy runs at either end of a very hot day
  • Thursday - went to the track in the late afternoon when it was 90+ degrees. ran one 1200 and then just did a few 400's and called it quits
  • Friday - hilly 14 for breakfast, and an easy 7 in the evening
  • Saturday - super hilly 20+ miler
  • Sunday - another day off
  • Total 70 miles
Now I just have 2 big weeks before tapering satrts. Schedule says 100 and 90 for next 2 weeks but I'll keep it down around 70-75 - I do plan on doing the speedwork properly though (need to get out early befoire the heat sets in), and will be doing a 5k or 10k at the end of September.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chicago Week 9 Training

After last week's much needed cutback this was the time to get back into the swing of things. Decided I wasn't going to worry too much about mileage, just run when I could and keep everything easy except for Tuesday's tempo and Sunday's long run. Turned out OK.
  • Monday - 5 easy
  • Tuesday - Tempo, 8 miles at 6:30 - these are the cornerstone of my training and they are going well.
  • Wednesday - took a day off after running the last 7 in a row.
  • Thursday - a very hilly 9 miler on some new trails - great run
  • Friday - a morning 12 miler and it felt great, the spring was back in the step, and 12 miles at under 7:30 pace on the hills felt easy. Did another hilly 7 in the evening but much slower, as it was almost 100 degrees out there.
  • Saturday - Life took over and running was out the window, which given the 100 degree heat was probably a good thing
  • Sunday. Marathon sanity test run. A fairly tough workout of 22 miles with 12 at marathon goal pace (6:52). Did 6 easy, then 12 at 6:49 and the 4 easy miles to bring me home. Felt pretty good - 22 overall at 7:15 pace. This was a few seconds faster and heartrate was 2 beats lower than the last time I ran a test like this (back in April before Ottawa) so I am feeling confident for Chicago.
So 64 for the week. Less than I had on the schedule (85) but I have realised that runnng too much mileage is going to backfire and things will break. Next week schedule say 95, but my body is saying 70.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chicago Training - Week 8

A much easier week this week, and I feel much better as a result. Only 43 miles, which felt like not running at all after the last few weeks. I am over all of the aches and pains from last week so it seems to have worked and I am now ready to go into the final phase of my Chicago training.
  • Monday - off
  • Tuesday - off
  • Wednesday - easy 5 at 8:10 pace
  • Thursday - a pseudo tempo. 2 miles at 6:20, 5 miles overall
  • Friday - an easy 10 miler at 8:11
  • Saturday - 6 miles at the track, with 7x100m (5-18s) and 1 mile at 5:57
  • Sunday - 17 miles at 8:00 pace
The race is 7 weeks today, so now it's 4 big weeks then tapering over the final 3. I am going to adjust the next 4 weeks a little, and probably bring the mileage down a bit to make sure I get to the start in one piece (plan currently says 85, 95, 100, 90 - which will probably do some damage).

Hopefully the weather cooperates in Chicago and I can get a good sub-3 result - then I can turn my attention to something easier, like knitting.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chicago Week 7 Training

Finally! I am, at last, done with a pretty tough week. The 3rd big week in a row, +very busy at work, +lots going on at home, +a cold/sinus problem = quite a rough 91 miles. Knees ache, shins ache and I can feel that my hernia is not 100% better when I run this much. Desperately hoping that a cutback week next week sorts all of that out.

Here's the rundown for last week.....
  • Monday - started with an easy 8 miler
  • Tuesday - a good tempo with 8 miles at 6:31 pace, followed by a steady 8 in the evening
  • Wednesday - easy 7, no time to double
  • Thursday - messed around at the track in the morning with a bunch of 400s in 80-90s, but nothing that was all that useful or impressive
  • Friday - a solid hilly 14 miler
  • Saturday - 7 in the morning, 9 in the afternoon
  • Sunday - 22 long, flat miles, not particularly quick
Overall an OK, but not great, week - Tuesday's tempo was good, everything else was pretty much just alright.

Next week the schedule calls for 70 but I am going to take it very easy and not worry about miles. I have one more big up cycle before Chicgao (the following 4 weeks are 85/95/100/90) so I want to go into that phase feeling as fresh as possible. I'll skip Monday, and then take it day by day the rest of the week. I suspect I'll come in around 50-60 with very little in the way of hard running. Sunday calls for 17 miles with 13 at marathon pace, which would be a good confidence builder, but right now I am not looking forward to it.

Perhaps I am getting to old too run this much......

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chicago Week 6 Training

6 weeks down, 9 weeks to go. Biggest week of this training cycle so far, at 91 miles. Average for the first 6 weeks has been around 73 miles. Average for the next 6 should be just under 90 if things continue to hang together, so this is definitely going to stress the system.

11 runs this week, so 4 double days. Feeling a little tired from it all but nothing unexpected.
  • Monday - AM easy 5, PM easy 5
  • Tuesday - AM easy 6, PM tempo 11 w 8 at 6:30 pace - a good run
  • Wednesday - AM easy 5
  • Thursday - PM easy 5
  • Friday - AM 12 medium long, PM easy 6
  • Saturday - AM easy 8, PM hot & hilly 6
  • Sunday - AM 21 mile long run, PM a bucket load of beer
Next week is up again, to around 95 miles. That will probably be 11 runs again, so I need to start stretching those easy 5's out to easy 6-7 milers. I'll do another long tempo run as I feel they are critical for marathon training, may do track on Thursday, or may skip it, will depend how the legs are feeling. By the end of next week when I finish with a 23 miler it will have been 24 consecutive running days and I will be looking forward to a cutback week with a day off!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Chicago Week 5 Training

After last week's cutback and successful half marathon it was back to the regular schedule this week. Plan was for about 75 miles over 8 runs (so 1 double day). Wasn't sure how I was going to feel after trashing my legs at the SF half, so I had decided I would allow myself to bail on anything if it didn't feel good.
  • Monday - very easy 7.5 at 8:30 pace at lunchtime. quads definitely feeling Sunday's run but overall not too bad.
  • Tuesday - easy 7.5 in the morning and a short (3 mile at 6:23) tempo in the evening. Ran the tempo a little slower than normal - no problems.
  • Wednesday - 8.5 miles at 7:40 pace
  • Thursday - an easy 6
  • Friday - 11 at 8:07 pace with some hills
  • Saturday - a nice hot noon run at the track. decided to run a variety of distances "fast". started with 100m, did 3 of them with the fastest being 15.47 (4:09 pace), then 200 in 33s, 400 in 77s, 800 in 2:53, 1200 in 4:23 and 1600 in 6:02. then it was time to come back down, so i did the 1200 but could only manage 4:32, so i called it a day. next time i will see if i can get all the way back to down the 100s, hitting the same times on the way down as the way up. fun stuff
  • Sunday - a 19 miler thru the hills. had the added excitement of tripping over my running buddy as he fell to the ground having tripped over an imaginary, invisible something or other. my first ever fall. it was on a gravel path so cut my hands, elbow and knees but i think i'll survive.
  • Total - 77 miles and not feeling too bad.
Next week it steps up to 85 miles and in terms of workouts I'd like to get a longer 7+ mile tempo in, another trip to the track for another ladder workout, and then a 21 miler to wrap things up at the weekend. Everything else will be 8ish pace.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

SF Half Marathon

Ran the SF half this morning. Here's the story....

Plan
goal was to run a 1:25 (6:29 pace). The course climbs about 300' in miles 2-6 and then drops 300' in miles 7-8 and then is pretty flat. I had calculated mile paces based on the elevation changes. Basically it was going to be "get to the top of the hill, see what I can make up on the downhill and then take it from there".

Weather
Weather was perfect, low 50's, overcast, misty, very little wind. Start was well organized and I was just 2 rows back from the start. We joined the full marathoners when we started (8:15am) and the people we joined were on pace for 4:30 finish, so we were flying by. I'd worked out that a 1:25 finish would have me passing about 2,500 marathoners over the course, which I was hoping was not going to be a problem.

Start was fast as it was downhill for first 1/4 mile, out of the gate at 5:30 pace but got it back under control as we levelled off. First mile still quick overall at 6:09 (plan was 6:30).

Mile 2 and 3 were the 2 slowest according to my plan as they had the hills. Goal was 6:48, 6:51 - got thru them in 6:32 and 6:40 so I had banked 50+ seconds in just the first 3 miles.

Mile 4, 5 and 6 were up & down and plan was 6:39, 6:24 and 6:33 - ran them in 6:30, 6:16 and 6:29 so I was moving fast. Went thru 6 in 38:36, which was 1:06 ahead of plan. (according to Garmin, mile markers were no use as they were for the full, so we had a very helpful 5.9 mile mark...)

So the uphills hadn't been as bad as I had expected and I was feeling about how I expect to feel 6 miles into a half.

Then it was time for the downs of miles 7 and 8. I'd planned to hit these at 6:10 and 6:11, but mile 7 was not really down, it was flat/up with a steep down at the end, mile 8 was better with a more gradual drop so I went thru those in 6:15 and 6:02.

As the course flattened out I realised I was in with a shot at a breakout time if the wheels stayed on, and after a quick systems check figured I had enough left in my legs to hammer the next 5 miles adn gut it out. It was flat and I knew that 6:25 would get me comfortably under 1:25 but decided to just run hard and see what I could do. Quads were definitely feeling it from the fast downhills but I hoped to hang on for 30-35 more minutes.

Mile 9 and 10 were steady and I just reeled in more marathoners, they were in the 22-23 territory so they were having no fun, must have sucked to see people like me whizz by. Ran a 6:18 and then sped up to a 6:13.

At mile 10 I just decided to go for it and pay the price afterwards - 11 was at 6:13 and mile 12 was 6:10. Unless I crashed I was in for a fast time, but I was hurting and my quads were extremely unhappy with my decision.

With just over a mile to go I started picking out the half marathoners and chasing them down, it was pretty easy to tell who was in each race. Caught 3-4 in mile 13 as I did a 6:09.

The final 0.3 (garmin was long as usual) was a sprint thru the barriers and the crowd at 5:45 pace and I crossed the line in 1:23:47 feeling like I'd left most everything I had out there - I beat my 1:25 goal easily and a got PR of just about 2 minutes. Garmin pace was 6:17 and official pace 6:23.

From the preliminary results looks like I was 42nd overall out of thousands, and 4th in my age group (M40-49). I am very happy with the way things turned out and feel I ran a good race, with a very strong finish for once.

This shows splits: blue bars are mile splits, with the blue line showing the cumulative pace. Red shows heartrate, so you can see that I was working hard for those last 5 miles once we got down the hill!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chicago - Week 3 Training

An OK week this week. It was hot, and I got really busy at work which messed things up, but overall I think I got through it just about well enough.

Missed Friday's run, which was supposed to be my medium long run of 16, but after starting the day with a meeting at 7:30am and finishing my last call after 6pm I couldn't face a 2 hour run, so instead I swam in the pool and sat in the hot tub with the family and a beer - So instead of 90 for the week I was down at 72.

In terms of workouts, the tempo on Tuesday was pretty good. It was a hot run in the late afternoon, so I decided to run the 6 miles at a more reasonable 6:30 pace, which turned out to be plenty fast in 90+ degree heat. The track workout on Thursday was another matter. Work screwed up the "run before it gets hot in the morning" plan, so it was about 5:45pm when I hit the track and it was still in the high 80s. The goal was 6 x 1,200 at 4:21-4:25. After hitting the first in 4:19 I decided to bail out half way thru #2. It was too hot to be pushing hard on the track so I just ran an easy 7. A little wimpy but there is a limit to what I can deal with.

Did a fairly brutal hill run yesterday climbing up to 1,600 feet in the sunshine, which trashed me quite successfully. Today was a mercifully flat 20 miler which felt really easy after my recent hilly long runs.

Next week is a cutback week, with just 55 on the schedule, although the last 13.1 of those are the SF half marathon. I'd like to get down to 1:25 (6:29 pace) but I'm not sure that I'm in that kind of shape just yet. I'll see how it is feeling after the first 5-6 miles and take it from there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicago - Week 2 Training

Week 2 is a wrap. Came in just under 84 miles and I am feeling good despite the second week of a big distance jump. Let's see how the jump to 90+ goes this week.

I am thinking that the addition of a hot tub in our back yard is helping. We got this a couple weeks back and I've been soaking 4-5 times/week. I was initially a little worried about this as I have heard a lot of stories about hot tubs making it harder to recover from long/hard runs - and that ice baths are much better. Not sure what the physiology is behind all that but it seems to be the general consensus among runner types. However, the family was not so keen on an ice tub in the back yard so I decided to risk it. And fortunately I've found that it is helping (at least so far!), so I will keep using it.

Like most training weeks I had three fun workouts this week, and a bunch of easy runs. Tempo on Tuesday was good, when I did 6 miles at 6:21 pace. This was the best tempo I've had, and I was happy to see it after the previous week's sloggy 5 mile effort. Thursday was my first trip back to the track, as documented in the previous post. And yesterday I did a 21 miler with a bunch of mid sized climbs. It was 9 runs overall and no days off.

This week is similar, but I will get another 7-10 miles in there somewhere, and will go a little longer in the tempo and do a few more reps at the track.

Then I get to cut back the mileage for a week (down to the mid 50's), with a day off and then a half marathon on July 26th.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Track Time #1

After last week's "track construction" incident, resulting in some enthusiastic, but probably ill advised, 100m and 200m sprints on the soccer field, it was time to get my first real track workout in.

It was an early morning start and I headed up to the local college track, which is just over 2 miles away. Did 3-4 laps with some 100m pace setting sections, just to get the feel for 5:55 pace (4:25 for 1,200 meters). I was all over the place, and way off pace on these 100m runs (5:14, 5:22, 5:25) so decided I was good to go. As it has been 2 months since I ran anything on the track I was only doing 4x1,200, with 90-120 seconds walk recovery in between.

Mentally, I break up the 1,200 into 4 chunks:
  • the first 200m. usually I start too fast and find I'm flying the first 100m, I try to get back on pace by 200. If I am still quick at this point I am usually in trouble. this is the fun chunk.
  • the next 400m (200-600). this is about running smooth and maintaining form, getting the breathing right and just hitting the pace. this is usually an ok chunk.
  • the next 400m (600-1,000) - this is all about holding it together. legs are starting to hurt and it's definitely an effort to keep on pace. real focus on keeping the form good. this is not a lot of fun, and often where I screw up.
  • the final 200m (1,000-1,200) - this depends a lot on the time at 1,000. if I am on pace this is a good solid 200m effort to the line and is pretty enjoyable - but if I am off pace this is where I try to make it up, and it becomes an all out, ugly ass, arm flailing 200m struggle to the line.
Here's how it went.
  1. Started fast (surprise!), but got under control by 200m, next 400m was smooth enough and it felt good to be running fast on the track again, then the next 400m was an effort but not too bad, final 200m was OK as I was on pace - 4:24
  2. Pretty much a repeat of Number 1, except I was feeling it a little more towards the end.
  3. Ok through 600, then lost focus in the next 400 and slowed down, so I had to haul ass the last 200m and still missed it with a 4:26. No fun on that one.
  4. Took a 2:00 rest before this, to give myself a fighting chance. Got through the first 600 slow in 3:14 (vs 3:12) so had to pick it up in the final 600. Clawed back some time in the next lap to get back on pace and then kicked the last 200 to come in at 4:23. A definite race effort to finish, but it felt good to hit the time goal and close with a 3:09 last 600.
Overall it was a 4:24 average, so I was happy, esepcially as it's the first time in a while. Next week I'll go up to 5 or 6 repetitions, but probably keep the goal time the same at 4:25.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chicago - week 1 training

First week of Chicago training is over, 14 to go. This is the combination speed and higher mileage plan, which is going to result in a sub 3 hour marathon, an ugly crash caused by overtraining or injury. I am hoping for #1 and after week 1 feel pretty good. Today's long run was great and I finished feeling pretty fresh.
  • Monday - easy 5 miles (no rest day anymore....)
  • Tuesday - 5 miles tempo (6:43), 7 overall - it was hot and I was sluggish - not great
  • Wednesday - AM easy 7.5, PM easy 5 - my first double in ages
  • Thursday - crazy speed workout (see previous post)
  • Friday - easy 14 miler on some hilly trails
  • Saturday - easy 7.5
  • Sunday - 19 miles with the last 3 at marathon pace - in SF (Golden Gate Park)
  • Total - 72 miles
Next week should be around 80, and I will probably skip the 100 meter sprints this time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fast Times at Los Altos High

Today was my first planned speed workout since Ottawa. I was going to ease back into it, so had only planned to do 2x1,200 somewhere between 4:21 and 4:29 depending on how it felt (5:50-6:00 pace). Ran down to the local high school after work - it was still pretty warm out, around 80 degrees.

Well I get to the school and the track is being resurfaced, and is shut until the end of July. Didn't feel like running fast on the roads, so went to the soccer field at the school and decided I'd run there instead. After a warmup mile I figured I try running some shorter stuff, for a change.

Started with a couple of 100m-ish strides at a reasonable clip, followed by 200m jog recovery. Ran three, at 5:06, 5:03 and 5:01 pace, just to get the legs warmed up.

Then I decided to do some 200m sprints, with 400m jog recoveries. Ran four of those, at 5:01, 5:09, 5:16 and 5:10 pace.

Then I did about a mile of easy barefoot running, figuring it would be good to take advantage of running on the soft grass.

Then I put the shoes back on and decided to do some faster, shorter runs. Did 120m sprints, pretty much flat out, with 400m jog recoveries. Did four of these at 4:34, 4:18, 4:07 and 4:11 pace. I have never run that fast before and it felt great to really push it, lifting the legs high. I decided to see if I could go sub 4 minute pace on one, so did 800m jog recovery and then went for it. I managed a 4:02 and decided to call it a day before I tore something. With a bit more focus on form I am pretty sure I could dip under 4.

So the good news is that I have the physical capability to run at 4 minute mile pace. The bad news is that after 120m I was toast. No way was I going for another 1489.4 meters anywhere near that pace. So any crazy dreams of running a 4 minute mile have been soundly squashed. I will set my sights on running a 4-something minute mile (i.e. 4:59) which seems far more achievable.

So the fastest one equates to a 15.07 100m, which would put about 50% behind the elite runners. It's about the same with marathons where my 3:03 is 50% behind the elites. I guess I am consistent if nothing else. Now, I have to say that distances weren't exact (garmin), and I had a running start, so who knows for sure. Next time I am at a track I will do some certified 100m sprints to see what I can do.

And tomorrow I will see what sort of damage I have done to myself running that fast.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another Week

Wrapped up this week with a father's day hilly run. 17.4 miles with 4 humps. That first one was pretty fun, switchbacks up thru the trees. Runnable the whole way (unlike last week).

Got a little tired by mile 15 and that last 200' climb on the final hump was not a lot of fun, but I kept going.

Weekly total was just under 60, with a medium 12 miler Friday, a 3.5 mile tempo on Tuesday and then 3 7-8 milers filling the other 3 days.

Next week should be pretty similar, but I expect I'll skip the hills and do a flat long run on Sunday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekly Wrapup

Sunday's run was a 4 hump hill run in Rancho San Antonio. Mostly trails, and mostly runnable, but there are couple bits towards the top of the big hump that are a little too steep to run up. Most of the downhill is great running with good footing, except for the first 1/4 mile from the very top - that's a little too steep for me to run comfortably down.

It closed out my first solid week since Ottawa, and the first I'd consider real training. It looked like this.....
  • Monday - rest
  • Tuesday - 3.5 miles tempo (6:15 pace) - 7.5m overall
  • Wednesday - 7.5 miles easy
  • Thursday - 11 miles easy
  • Friday - 9 miles easy
  • Saturday - 5 miles recovery
  • Sunday 12.5 miles of hills
  • Total - 52.5 miles
Next week should be similar, maybe closer to 60. Will do a tempo tomorrow, a medium long (10+) early Friday and a long (~18) Sunday. The rest will just be easy running.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hilly Running

Finished the week with a hilly 16 miler yesterday morning. It was my 4th run of the week, bringing the mileage up to about 36 miles.

Ran some very nice trails out thru Arastradero Preserve and into Foothills Park in Palo Alto. Saw a few hikers and bikers but no runners, and no-one at all once I got over 400'. Great trails for running fast thru the trees.

Recovery from Ottawa has gone well and I am feeling pretty refreshed. Next week will be back to reasonably normal running, with 6 runs and somewhere round about 50 miles. Will probably run a few tempo miles on Tuesday or Wednesday, and some strides here and there, but I won't be doing any real speedwork for at least another week.

Chicago training won't start for real until the end of June, so I still have 3 weeks of "just running". I'll probably do mileage of 50, 55 & 60 for those weeks and then jump into a 15 week plan for Chicago.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

National Running Day

Apparently it is National Running Day today, whatever the hell that is.

So I am going to go for a run.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ottawa Pictures


At the start I was in the first, non-elite coral, so started just behind the real fast runners. At this point, just as I crossed the start line I was a mere 10 seconds behind the winner, David Cheruiyot. Unfortunately I was unable to hold the pace and he eventually beat me by 50 minutes....




This was about mile 15, feeling strong, looking relaxed - "Hey, this sub 3 is gonna be easy

About 3 miles later, now I am having to work at it

Into the last mile, the wheels are off and there is no more "smile for the camera" - Pretty surprised to see a picture with both feet off the ground at the same time.

Crossing the line, very happy to be done. I think Cheruiyot was already on the plane home by the time I got there.......

Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Summary

So May is done, with a fairly low total of 183 miles.  With the marathon taper, and a very easy recovery week this week I didn't have a lot of big weeks.  But the foucs wasn't miles it was Ottawa and that went OK.

June is going to be easy.  I have no preset plan, but I am not going to do anything fast until I am feeling completely recovered.  There's a 10k at the end of June that I may run, but only if I have found my legs again.

Chicago training is due to start of June 29th and go for 15 weeks.  Plan is to keep the intensity/speedwork I had last round, but go a little higher on the mileage.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ottawa Marathon Report

The plan was simple: Get it done under three hours (6:52 pace). I planned to run 6:48 for the first 20 miles, and then take it from there.  If things were good, I’d keep at 6:48 and run a 2:58.  If things weren’t so good I had a couple minutes wiggle room to still bring it home under 3.  Training had been solid, I felt great.

Course was described as honest; some rolling hills in the first half, but nothing major. Forecast called for 52 at start, low 60s at the end and 6mph winds from the west.  Overall, not bad conditions.

Start logistics were good and I met up with a couple other runners I had met online who were also shooting for sub3.  We planned to run some/all of it together.  It felt pretty warm, definitely more than 52 degrees (found out later it was 61 at the start).

Course was marked in kilometers versus the normal miles so I had some funky pacing worked out.  I’d broken the course up in my mind into 9 chunks: Eight 5Ks, followed by the final 2.2km.  I had planned paces for each section based on hills etc and planned to just take them one at a time.

One approach to long runs is to try and disassociate yourself from the task at hand by thinking about something else.  Another way is to focus intently on running form, stride rate etc.  I tend to do both during a race.  To help with the disassociation someone told me to “dedicate” each section to a specific person, and think about them during that time.  Seemed a little touchy feely to me, but I figured I’d give it a try.  Went with my family in England and my family at home in Los Altos – 9 people in total.

Chunk 1 – KM 1-5

  • This section was ‘dedicated” to my big brother Richard – someone who is not likely to be running a marathon anytime soon.  Gun went off and we were off fast – 6:15 pace.  Slowed it down a little but the first 3KM went by at 6:33 pace, despite the rolling hills (distances are kilometers and my pace times are minutes/mile, just to confuse things).  Got a little more controlled at that point but finished chunk 1 in 20:47, 24 seconds ahead of plan, feeling excellent.  So Richard had done his job.

Chunk 2 – KM 6-10

  • This one was run for Dad, who would hopefully be tracking me online from England if he was able to work out the instructions I had sent him.  Hills continued for a bit then we crossed back from the French side to Ottawa and started running thru a pretty nice neighborhood.  Kept things smooth and comfortable and ran this chunk on pace, finishing up overall by 27 seconds. Dad had done just perfectly (although he had failed with the tracking thing so he wasn’t aware of this….)

Chunk 3 – KM11-15

  • This was Mum’s section.  She’d be waiting for updates from Dad at home in England, but given his computer prowess, she had no idea what was happening in Canada. This section felt easy, just rolling off miles about 6:46 pace.  Uneventful, easy running and feeling very good. Smack on pace, ended up by 28 seconds overall.  My best section so far.  Good job Mum! 

Chunk 4 – KM 16-20

  • This was for Dave, my other brother, who is hoping to complete his first marathon next Sunday in Edinburgh.  We headed back West here and could now feel the wind for the first time, and it was a lot more than 6mph. But I still felt really good and this was another uneventful section run at 6:53 pace.  This was about 20 seconds slower than plan due to the wind, but still left me 9 seconds ahead of my schedule and feeling relaxed.  So Dave did his job, hopefully I can help him next Sunday.

Chunk 5 – KM 21-25

  • Next up was little sister, Kayte, who lives in Spain.  Not a marathon runner.  This brought me thru the halfway point, in 1:28:55 - 5 seconds ahead of my plan and feeling really good – this sub 3 was going to be easy!  I was running smooth and relaxed, sometimes on my own, but some portions with one of the 2 online runner friends or with random people I spoke to (most of whom spoke French…).  Got thru this chunk a little off pace, but still figured I was OK since I was pacing for 2:58 and I was only 8 seconds behind overall.  Thanks Kayte! 

Chunk 6 – KM 26-30

  • Having worked thru my English family it was time to start with Los Altos. Next up was Anna, my little princess who was at home asleep.  This section was when I started having to work a little to keep on track – It was now feeling like a race and not a run.  We were out in the wind and I was no longer running easy.  Figured I could still go sub 3 as long as I could run below 7 minute pace.  Ran this chunk at 6:57, now 36 seconds behind plan, but still within reach of sub 3 if I could keep it up. Princess Anna had done her job

Chunk 7 – KM 31-35

  • This was for Nick, my little boy.  He’d probably be waking up pretty soon.  OK I am feeling it now, but determined to stay on pace – Manage kms 31-33 at 6:59 but then there’s a hill in km34 and it just kills me.  Can’t do better than 7;35 pace and I’m dying.  It’s windy, sunny and hot and I am losing it fast – it is weird when you can feel things start to shutdown.  My quads are completely shot – I guess it was payback time for those fast early rollers.  Get to the top of the hill and decide that I need to suck it up and get back under 7 minute pace or this game is over.  Manage to get to 7:03 but it is soooo hard.  This chunk cost me another 48 seconds, and now I am 1:24 behind.  Doing the math (which was not easy with no oxygen in my brain) I worked out that I was in deep shit, and needed to close this round about 6:55, which looked awfully daunting.  Nick had kept me going but I could feel it slipping away at this point.

Chunk 8 – KM 36-40

  • This last 5k chunk was for Liz, my wife who puts up with all my running crap and is incredibly supportive.  If anyone could get me thru this one it would be her.  All I had to do was run a 5k in about 21 minutes for this chunk and I would be close enough to gut it out and get my sub 3. I tried to get back down to under 7 minute pace but I just couldn’t do it.  Managed to get to 7:13 and that was so bad that I knew that I was done – today would not be the day.  I was bummed but there was nothing I could do about it.  I’d had 3 goes to get back down to pace, tried every trick I knew but my legs just didn’t go that fast anymore.  Now it was time to roll back to plan B. Unfortunately there was no plan B.  I figured a PR (under 3:06:13 was gonna be pretty easy as I could jog it in at 8:30 pace and still hit that). So I sort of wallowed a little bit and eventually decided to just keep going as fast as I could without puking. Turned out that was around 7:45 pace, so that’s what I did.  It was getting ugly out there, I was not enjoying myself anymore and I was surrounded by people having a similar funtime.  Lost almost 2 minutes in this chunk and was now 3:33 behind plan – officially it was over.  Liz did her best, but I just didn’t have it left in me.

Chunk 9 – KM 40-42.2

  • Final chunk was for me, for all the miles I’ve run, for all the injuries, and for the surgery.  Just 2.2 kilometers to go, which is less than 6 laps of the track, but I was empty.  Legs were trashed, and I felt worse than I have ever felt.  However, I was determined I was not going to walk and that I’d continue to push as much as I could. KM41 was at 8:01 pace – it was a kick in the butt to see 8:XX on the watch when I was meant to be running 6:XX, so with 1.2 km to go I went into my finishing sprint…… this got me down to 7:30 pace and I was flying…… final 400 meters and I am into the final stretch, people cheering from the grandstands and the announcer calls my name out.  I give it one final surge and cross the line at 3:03:39.  Not the 2-something I had been looking for but I am just happy to be done.   I have absolutely nothing left so I sit down quick, before gravity does it for me and drink 3 bottles of water.  After 10 minutes I can stand, just. Off with the shoes, got my medal (which is a very cool medal), drink 3 Gatorades and lie down.  10 minutes later I am almost feeling human.

Results

  • So it was something of  a trainwreck finish and a big missed goal but a new PR for me, of about 2:35. And this was on a day when there probably weren’t a whole load of PRs.  I came 96th out of 4,200 registered runners.  I was 14th in my age group (M40-44). 
  • In terms of race strategy it was solid.  Execution was OK thru 25km then it started to go pear shaped, and the wheels came off big time at 33km.  I did not handle the heat and wind in the second half of the course well.  Looking at the top 100 (which along with me, included some true elites like David Cheruiyot) only 6 of them managed to negative split (second half faster than first).  And no-one in the top 20 negative split at all.  Cheruiyot ran a 1:05/1:08, so he also buggered up the second part (although he likely didn’t run an 8 minute mile to close it out, plus he won the thing).  In post race interviews all the elites talked about the wind in the second half slowing them down, so it wasn’t just me.

  • Overall I am really pleased with my training leading up to this race.  6 months ago I was having surgery and hadn’t run in 3 months.  I worked really hard to get back to racing shape and I have had big PRs in every distance from 5K to the marathon.  I’m confident that the next one will be sub 3.
  • Maybe I went a little too fast that first 5km but it honestly felt easy thru 25km.  I had decided that I was not going to adjust my plan for the weather.  I did that in Edinburgh last year because of the wind and finished strong, feeling I could have gone faster. This time it was going to happen or I was going to die trying – Unfortunately, today I died.


They printed the top 100 in the Ottawa paper toady, and I just made the list down at #96.  I never expected to be on the same results sheet as David Cheruiyot.  (And yes, I am ignoring the fact that he beat me by about 50 minutes, or almost 2 minutes/mile)