Saturday, November 29, 2008

marathon report -- the very, very long verison

Here's the very, very long version.

On Friday, I crafted this pace plan on a yellow sticky and "laminated" it with strips of scotch tape. The left column gives splits for 3:15:00 pace, which I felt was the minimum I could shoot for, leaving 59 seconds for the wicked hills in the last couple of miles. I referred to the left column as the "oh s***, I'm in trouble" column. The right column was what I thought was a safe plan if I felt good. In some crazy corner of my mind I worried about holding myself back! The reason 14:00 at "2" is 7:26 pace is because the 2nd mile marker is actually 601 ft short of 2 miles per the course certification map. Unfortunately, you have to give that 601 ft back in the last 2.2, but my sticky planned for that. It turns out the 600 feet is about 50 secs at goal pace, so I used that for the math.

I stopped my ibuprofen loading (an attempt to fix my hip) on Friday ~5pm and I think the advil combined with the rich turkey day feast (and probably some nerves) had left my stomach in a bit of a shambles. I slept really well on Wednesday and Thursday, but slept in 1-1.5 hour segments on Friday night. It's been awhile since I had trouble sleeping before a marathon. When I "woke up" I ate my small bowl of cheerios (just skimmed off the cheerios to avoid the milk) and a banana. The drive and shuttle bus to the school were thankfully uneventful, except that I felt like crap and my pulse was 70+ when I checked with the old finger to the neck (nerves I told myself). Although I felt like crap, I didn't feel my hip at all for the first time in weeks.

I saw coolrunner Jesse and it was nice to have someone to talk before the race. He did the JFK 50 last week, so he's clearly insane. He said the course was harder than I remembered (I still don't think it's hard) and that the climb was tougher than I remembered (well, this is true).
Here's a course elevation map from when I ran it two years ago with my Suunto (which has a barometric altimeter and gives much better elevation than the Garmin -- those wiggles actually mean something). I kind of wish I had actually looked at this when making my sticky instead of going by memory, but my memory was pretty close.

OK, so we start and it's the usual jockeying for position and me cursing to myself as I try to get around folks. I shot out a little quick though and backed off after ~400 meters. I had used bah-bump electrode cream to get good readings from the get go and the first one I saw was 168. Holy crap!!!! I convinced myself it wasn't real and when I started sweating it would settle down. It didn't. I average 173 on the second mile. WTF! Surely the HRM must be messed up.

I hit the "2" mile at 13:40. I was quick but the downhill was much more downhill than I remembered. OK, settle down and just run goal pace, I told myself. Mile 3 was 7:32/171. I should be at ~167 at this point. I'm 4 beats high and six seconds slow. I caught up with Jesse and talked to him a bit. I hoped to be able to run with him a while, but we weren't going the pace I needed. That mile was 7:39/172. I'm 4 beats above normal and 13 secs/mile slow! I'm am beside myself. What was all this training for? What the hell happened. My only choice now is to get on pace and wait for the inevitable blow up. I said something to Jesse like "well, I'll just have to average a higher number I guess." The next mile was 7:27/174. Back on pace but I'm paying dearly for the effort. I was also kind of yoyo-ing in my pace and seeing HRs as high as 177. I was distraught. How can this be happening? I was running 7:30s in the 150s on the track. I consult my stick at 5 and at 36:20, I'm right on the even pace scheme, but I used up the 20 second cushion on the opening downhill in just the last 3 miles.

I scouted around for someone to pace off of, hoping just to think about running. In these situations I usually look for two kinds of runners -- women and age group runners. Young guys are the worst. I found a woman and followed her for about a mile. We must have had a little wind in our face (just a little) because I remember wishing she were taller. 7:25/173 for that mile. A little better, but 173 is still not good at all. (Looking at the elevation profile, it turns out this was just a flatter mile.) Unfortunately, I could tell the woman I was following was losing pace.

At this point, the miracle in a green shirt passes me -- a guy in his 50s running like a swiss clock. This was my ticket. I settled in behind him and it was even better than I thought. He was just a little shorter than me and running almost exactly the same cadence. The next mile (also flat) was 7:23/172. It's early to be at 172, but that was going to be my number. I just followed the guy in the green shirt for the next couple of miles. 7:31/172, 7:28/172. I'm a little slow of the 7:27s, but I'm in the ball park and just hope to make it up on the downhill.

You can start to feel and see the climb starting at mile 9 at it continues until the turnaround. Green shirt leaves me a little, but I stick to my 172 heart rate. 7:37/172, 7:34/173. The race director warned us the parks service had moved mile 12 south 300 feet and it was 7:09/172, which I figured was 7:34 based on 50 secs/600 feet. Mile 13 was long -- 7:51/173 (7:26 by my logic) -- but I didn't even look at this split. I was looking at my sticky. I was at 1:36:22 and my sticky said 1:35:50 was an even pace 3:15:00. I'm 32 seconds behind. I figured ~ 5 secs/mile below pace on the downhill would have me even at 20. It didn't quite work that way.

I turned the corner at the turnaround and wwwhhhheeeeee a downhill! I chatted to green shirt briefly as I passed. I didn't even take the next two splits. 13-16 was 21:42/173 (7:14 pace). I figured I chopped off my 30 seconds right there. These miles were great. I was flying past everyone. The people at the water stops were telling me I looked great and I believed them! 7:17/174, 7:23/173, 7:21/175. A few relay runners fly by but no marathoners. One of the relayer slows a little and chats with me at around 19. He says I look great. My muscles are really starting to ache now from the pounding. I feel like I have something in the tank. I feel about like Frederick and mile 19 or a little better even. Mile 20 was 7:24/176. I consult my sticky. 2:57:55 is what I need for 3:15 flat. I'm at 2:27:31. 24 big seconds in the bank! I vow not to give it up by my next sticky check at mile 24. I'm going to need those 24 and the 59 the BAA gives me to deal with the finishing hills.

The fun of the downhill ends at 20. 20 is basically flat although I thought it was a little uphill at the time. We also get a little bit of a headwind. Like they cliche goes, this is where the real work begins. Mile 21 was 7:25/177. Almost all the people I'm passing are jogging or walking now. The few who are faster are harder to deal with because I just want to fall in behind them. My mantra is "just run the number" meaning keep the Garmin at 7:2X. (The mantra quickly turns to "run the f***ing number!")

My legs are aching and I feel like I'm overstriding and my hamstrings are taking the beating. Another little miracle occured when I passed a pack of three. I think they were pacing a buddy because they were saying "just moves your arms and your legs will follow." Hey, great advice! "Move your arms and run the f***ing number!" 7:31/177, 7:25/177.

5k to go. I thought of coolrunner JimmyB's advice that the last 5k should feel like a 5k. 7:25/178. I'm at 24. My sticky says 2:57:40. I'm at 2:57:18. 22 seconds. I only gave up 2 seconds of my bank. I'm very proud of this.

At this point a guy is passing me, but it's not a relayer. It's a marathoner! Are you kidding me? Another miracle. He's going faster than me, but I sorta latch on and at least keep in my sight. I swear having him save me 10 seconds in the next mile. I'm waiting for my fate when we turn off the trail, but we stay on longer than I remember. Every downhill step on the trail is a gift.

Finally the turn off. It's almost a disaster as my new friend and I are barreling past a volunteer who belatedly says turn right at the bridge. I plant my foot and turn 90 degrees on a dime to just make the far side of the bridge. If I had to backtrack even a step at that point it would been a huge blow. I look across the bridge and think, "I wish I coulda run that tangent."

We're on the road now and no hills yet. When do these come. Just short of the 25-mile marker you see this wall in front you. Looking at the elevation from last year, it's about 60-70 feet in 0.2 miles That's like a 6% grade. Some friendly bikers are passing and say, "Gee what point in the marathon are you guys at." One of the marathoners who's slowed to a jog wryly points at the 25-mile marker. "Sorry," the bikers say. The split was 8:01/180. (Turns out this was 7:29 pace.) I wasn't watching the number during this mile I guess (probably watching my new friend) and I'm not sure whether this is the long mile or not. If it's not the long mile then I just pissed away 35 seconds and I'm in deep s***. I enter desperation mode.

Now to this hill. I charge up this thing. I'm not letting this slip away. No chance. My heart rate spikes well into the 180s. (Looking at the data, I hit 186 at the top.) Still this sucker is so steep that my lap pace (which I just reset at the bottom) slides to over 9 min/mi! Down the other side we go. I run as fast and with the best form I can. Another wall. I charge up again. My hands suddenly get cold and start to tingle as a I run up. I'm in full on freight train breathing now (about one breath per step) and my hands (still in gloves) are freezing! We flatten a little and then up another climb (longer but not as steep).

Where the hell is the school? My brain isn't quite working. The Garmin says 7:4X. I can piss away 20 seconds but is it right? I'm 7+ minutes into mile 25 and I don't see the marker. My brain isn't working and I think I should see that finish. I think that somehow I've blow it and I'm minutes away. I don't realize there's another .2 in a marathon I guess. It does dawn on me after I hit the mile marker that there's another .2, but where's the school? My split was 8:18/183. [Turns out this mile was long, too. 7:45 pace]

At this point I have no idea whether I've made it, but I'm going to "sprint" (as best I can) to the finish because I am absolutely not going to miss it by a second or two. Finally the school! I turn left in the driveway and -- is that a 15? It is, 3:15:13 and ticking. I'm going to make it. I run through and see 3:15:20 on the clock. A woman with my medal says "Congratulations!" All I can muster is (in a distant monotone), "My hands are so cold." Looking concerned she says, "You ought to get a blanket." 10 steps later and I'm fine.

I hung around forever afterwards. Talked to Jesse and all the friends who saved me -- green shirt, the relayers, etc. They asked me if I got my 3:15 and I said "Yes!" I met someone on runningahead who ran 2:58 and got his sub-3! The soup was great. The coke was great. My age group was a juggernaut. I finished 6th -- a mere 11 minutes behind 5th. The hip didn't hurt at all! And the runner's knee that had been puffy after every substantial run for the last two months wasn't the least bit swollen.

When I got home, I watched the Ga - Ga Tech game I Tivo'd. My son had a great poker face while we watched together and didn't give away the ending. I was convinced my Yellow Jackets would lose until the very last second, but they didn't! 45-42, Tech. They beat the hated Dogs in an incredible comeback (down 28-12 at halftime). Coach Paul Johnson for President!


I did it! (with 34 secs to spare even)

I had an off day just like the last two long runs, but I sucked it up and made it happen. Even pace. Smart race.

I'll post more when the kiddies aren't breathing down my neck.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm thankful for...

NSAIDS. I tried some "Vitamin I" yesterday and I could feel some small improvement in my hip (feel more like hip flexors than piriformis today). I should have been taking ibuprofen for weeks! At this point it's not going to make a dent, but I thought I'd give it a try.

I've never been this fit, the weather should be perfect (upper-30s, lower 40s, no wind), and it's a fast course. Course/conditions alone should buy me 2-3 minutes over Frederick's 3:21. On the other hand, I've never gone into a marathon with this much of an injury, so I'm apprehensive to say the least. I guess I have to have something to worry about!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

last run

My schedule called for 4 miles with 1 @ MP and 1 @ HMP.

I did the whole run at the high school track. My heart rate monitor was way, way off during the warmup (before I broke a sweat) and I threw an extra warmup lap in hoping that the HRM would settle down, but it didn't. I took several splits thinking it had settled down, but I don't think it was tracking until the 4th lap.

Time Distance Pace HR
11:04 2000m 8:57 195
3:42 800m 7:27 181 -- 3:15:09 pace; HRM obviously messed up
1:52 400m 7:31 165 -- HRM still messed up
1:50 400m 7:23 157 -- tracking
3:32 800m 7:06 163
3:31 800m 7:05 169
8:42 1600m 8:45 145

The MP was very easy. It felt considerably easier than my usual opening mile of a marathon, so that was heartening. The HR on the last 800 of the HM pace was disturbing though. The last 1600 of my 2 x 2 miles on Monday was 6:52/168 which is way, way better than that. Some of this might just be my HR ranges coming back to normal.

I think my pace versus hr gets a little skewed when I include more intensity. I'm not necessarily faster when my pace/hr improves because I can't necessarily sustain a high heart rate for as long. For instance, the first time I did Pfitz (and was in over my head), I averaged 177 bpm during a tune-up 10k and then averaged 182 bpm in a 10 miler later that spring. My marathons have been remarkably consistent at 172 or 173 bpm, but there's always been a taper before them.

On the knee front, I didn't notice it today. It's not completely better, but it's not a concern.

The hip thing is a concern. Today I felt it mainly in my lower back at the base of my spine and at the top of my butt. Then I felt it in my groin on the cooldown. Very strange. It must be some kind of muscle imbalance. My toe didn't know which way it wanted to point on each stride as the various muscles battled it out when my foot came off the ground. I came home and tried a few stretches before I got tired of them. Hopefully endorphins will get me through. I seriously considered dropping out of the Frederick marathon when my right hip got very tight and increasingly painful from 8 to about 15 (and felt better when I hit the real hills). My guess is I'll have some kind of rough patch like that but make it through. There's also a fair chance I laugh because I don't feel it at all on race day.

My schedule calls for 2 miles tomorrow, but I don't really see the point of going to the trouble.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Forecast looks great, but my butt hurts. Forecast is now for the low 40s and 8 mph winds. Woohoo!

My injury thingy, which I'm calling piriformis, is rather disturbing though. The "discomfort" has shifted around and I'm going to take that as a positive sign since there isn't a point in doing otherwise. The way the course is laid out, I think I'll be OK if I can just make it to the turnaround (and start of the downhill) in decent shape hip-wise. The gradual grind of the 1% uphill is what worries me. Uphills are noticeably more troublesome and with the constant grade, hitting the same muscle in the same way could be bad.

My 4 miles easy this morning was kind of odd. My HR was ridiculously high even after discarding the first goofed up HRM split. 139? That should be more like 133.

Time Distance Split time Split distance Split pace Avg. HR
09:18 1.00 9:18 1.00 9:18 166 (83%)
18:17 2.00 8:58 1.00 8:58 134 (67%)
27:18 3.00 9:01 1.00 9:03 139 (69%)
36:21 4.00 9:02 1.00 9:04 136 (68%)
36:43 4.04 0:22 0.04 8:55 140 (70%)

Glancing at my HRM though the average didn't seem to really match the instantaneous values. Looking at the graph with elevation and HR, it doesn't really make sense. I've thought my battery was going for the last couple of weeks when I've had some weirdness, so I went ahead and bought new batteries today.

I hate tapering. It's a constant battle to balance healing your legs and maintaining your fitness. I feel like a total slug by race day. I sometimes wonder if the guys who just run lots of marathons don't have the right idea.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I'm beginning to think that's what my butt, hip, back, thigh (and now groin) pain is. I can feel this ache deep in my "gluts" (don't snicker!) that feels like it's where my femur meets my hip. I know I'm under the effects of taper madness, but this is getting kind of disturbing. It seems to be causing all sorts of other problems and while it certainly won't result in a DNS, I'm worried about it holding up for 26.2. Of course, I say there's a 50-50 chance I don't feel it at all Saturday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

week of 17 November

Mo - Rest
Tu - 10.30 1:26:56 8:27 144 (72%)
We - 10.72 1:26:11 8:02 148 (74%)
Th - 5.00 0:45:53 9:11 133 (67%)
Fr - 5.90 0:52:46 8:56 137 (68%)
Sa - 13.43 1:54:11 8:30 152 (76%) -- HRM messed up 1st two miles
Su - Rest
Wk - 45.35 6:25:57 8:31 145 (72%)

I moved the long run up to Sat to put it a week before the marathon and then didn't know what to do with Friday's workout. Thinking that less was more, I didn't an easy six and avoided the back-to-back hard days. Yesterday, I said I'd run 5 today, but I decided that was just some strange need to get over 50 miles and I'd stick with the off day following a "long" run. This leaves me with 45 for the week. Yikes!

Besides over analysis, what are the other symptoms of taper madness?
  • New aches and pains. Check! When you cut back the miles, it's like you've removed the all-over, general dull ache from your body and suddenly every little joint and muscle wants to complain about what you've been doing to them for the last 6 months.
  • Germ phobia. Check! I ran on a hotel treadmill and Thursday and after rubbing my eyes realized I'd probably rubbed the sweat of a thousand guests in there. I have a tickle in my throat today, but I'm pretty sure that's from raking leaves yesterday.
  • Checking the long-range forecast. Check! According to NOAA, it should be 36 at 9am and 42 at noon (start is 9:30). I'll take it! 10 mph wind from the NW. It's basically a north-south out and back (with 7 miles NW), so that could suck, but it's in the woods and somewhat sheltered. Plus, I'd much rather have the wind at my back in the second half. Notice how I pretend like a 7-day forecast means anything? A sure sign of taper madness!
Here is the official plan. It's a semi-steep downhill first two miles, 1% uphill grade for 11 miles, 1% down for 11, then semi-steep uphill last two. I'll hit the turnaround at 3:14 pace and then bank a minute (5 secs/mile) on the downhill to give myself a couple of minutes before getting to the uphill.

One race-day plan I can't quite figure is eating. While I usually don't eat anything on marathon morning, I'm not sure it's a good idea with the race starting at 9:30.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the outside looking in again?

Another sub-par run has me wondering if I've peaked too early and am now on the outside of 3:15 looking in. How can I be the guy who easily did 17 w/ 13 @ 7:14 pace a few weeks ago?

Today, according to my Garmin, I did 13.4 and the last 2.5 in which I attempted to run at marathon pace were 7:32/165, 7:26/169, and 3:47 (7:34)/170. What the hell? When I did my MP pace run three weeks ago, my last three miles (after running 10 at MP!) were 7:10/169, 7:04/167, and 7:06/168.

Arrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh. My excuses -- which do not app up 20 to 30 secs/mile -- are that
  • my Garmin doesn't seem to be completely accurate on the trail. The conventional wisdom is that it's 4.6 miles around, but my Garmin reads 4.5 per last lap. [A friend road a calibrated bike around and got 4.57. Another guy claims a cross country team wheeled it at 4.60.] That's a 1.5-2 % difference, which doesn't seem like much, but that's 7-9 secs at 7:30 pace.
  • it was pretty windy. Sustained 15-20 and gusting to 25-30 mph. It wasn't really in my face the whole time, but since it was from the WNW and since my half lap at MP took me from the east to the west side of the like, I guess it was net in my face.
  • it was 27 degrees. Cold is better than hot, but I recognize that at some point, you do lose something when it's cold. I was wearing two shirts, tights, and a water bottle holder. It was in the 50s and very low humidity on the previous MP run.
After going through the excuses, I feel a *little* better, but still not happy. Blech. I'll have another track workout between now and the marathon. Hopefully that will lift my spirits.

I think I'll do 5 miles easy tomorrow, which will just get me to 50 for the week. It's been a long time since I've seen a number that low.

The hip definitely took a hit from the 13 miles today, but on average it seems to be improving. Balancing the miles to keep fit while getting healthy is definitely tough.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Take it easy

Tues - 10.3 @ 8:27
- skipped the Tues night double

Wed - 10.7 w/ 2x3 mile - 7:27/148, 7:13/157, 7:10/159; 7:16/156, 7:16/160, 7:18/160
- normally these would be faster, but I felt like the Tin Man without his oil

Ok, now cue the Eagles music...

This morning I ran 5 on a treadmill in a St Louis hotel. I got up to 6.6 mph (9:05) after a couple of minutes and left it there. HR settled at 130 plus or minus for the run. I haven't run on a treadmill in a long time and it was weird to run that easily at that pace. Things are qualitatively different than they were 6 months ago.

I'm back and after endless debating in my head, I'll do another easy 6 or so with some strides tomorrow. My schedule calls for 2 x 2.5 at HM, but I want to move my long run to Saturday since my marathon is on a Saturday and that seemed like too much back-to-back. At this point I'm guessing less is more.

On the knee/hip front, the hip was much better this morning. The knee still sucks, but I don't expect that to get better until after the marathon. I picked up a pain on the top of my left foot a couple of days ago. I think that side is just so screwed up now that the three joints (hip, knee, ankle) just aren't working well together.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the knee says he's #1

After I gave the nod to the hip as the #1 injury, the knee fought back this morning. It wasn't too bad though. I'm kind of use to it, although I will be happy when it no longer has that constant slight puffiness and is more like his taut friend on the right.

The hip thing has now spread to my lower back but it seems to be a duller ache. (I believe it's my gluteus medius that's bothering me.) From what I've read on hips, they often stem from weak back muscles and people like me not doing their core exercises. I'm pretty confident I'll shake this.

Today was a little less than 11 at base pace on my usual course that I haven't done in about 3 weeks (veteran's day, out of town, etc.). The pace was 8:27 and hr 143, so I think I'm back to normal in that regard. I have a new explanation for the poor weekend runs. I think I was under the weather. Yesterday I was just in a total fog.

I'm tapering, so no Tuesday double today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

week of 10 November

Mo - Rest
Tu AM - 10.95 1:32:43 8:28 148 (74%)
Tu PM - 4.95 0:46:33 9:25 134 (67%)
We - 9.28 1:13:40 7:56 156 (78%)
Th - 5.85 0:55:47 9:32 133 (66%)
Fr - 10.81 1:23:59 7:46 153 (77%)
Sa - 5.31 0:49:28 9:19 135 (68%)
Su - 17.99 2:36:13 8:41 149 (74%)
Week - 65.14 9:18:23 8:34 146 (73%)
Last - 71.14 10:01:47 8:28 142 (71%)
The taper started today with a shorter long run -- 4 laps around the lake instead of 5. It was blech. I'm not sure what to blame it on, but I'm hoping I haven't passed my peak. I stayed up to late Fr and Saturday, ate crap last night, and maybe the oddly warm weather yesterday threw me off. Today was 45 and pretty windy. The only decent excuse is the wind. I was out there from roughly 9 to 12 and the hourly report of winds/gusts from wunderground was 15 mph/29, 23/32, 16/28, and 16/27. Still it's hard to explain. My fourth lap last week was 8:19 pace @ 151 versus 8:44 @ 152 today. That's 25 seconds per mile!

This was really an annoying run. My hip bothered me the whole time and I felt like I wasn't running efficiently. The hip, the wind, and the trail made me feel like I never got a groove. While I thought I definitely could have qualified if I'd run a marathon last week, I'm sure I couldn't have today. The marathon gods are fickle.

The hip thing is my #1 injury concern now. The pain is where my hip meets my thigh and I feel it from all sides (front, side, back) at various times. Hopefully the increased taper this week will help. I'm planning to do roughly the same thing except drop the mid-week double and shorter the Sunday run to two laps. That should be about 55 miles, which is frankly so low that it scares me a little bit. We'll see if I can stick with it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

an "easy" 5

Hot and humid today.

My hr/pace splits last Saturday and today (same route):

08 November - 9:51/123, 8:56/125, 9:07/127, 9:26/ 131, 9:08/128, 9:08/125
15 November - 9:48/142, 8:57/127, 9:08/135, 9:23/136, 9:17/134, 9:28/140

The first split today is probably a screwing HRM, but the rest should be accurate since I was sweating like a pig! Checked the temps and it was 64 deg and dew pt of 62.6. Hey, isn't it mid-November?

I've developed a mild pain in my left hip/butt. I really felt it in the turns on the track yesterday. I should probably be careful tomorrow, so I doubt I'll do a full 13 at MP. Either half that or none of that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday musing

The Friday tradition of 2 x 3 miles at "HM" pace continued today. Below are the last two times I've done this:
  • 10/24/2008: 19' warmup; 4800 in 7:00/156, 6:58/162, 6:55/165; 800m rest; 4800 in 6:46/165, 6:47/170, 6:49/170; 19' cooldown
  • 11/14/2008: 19' warmup; 4800 in 6:55/157, 6:48/166, 6:46/169; 800m rest; 4800 in 6:51/165, 6:49/169, 6:51/171; 19' cooldown
The first one looks better to my eye. In what probably really matters for the marathon though, my second (11/9) burke lake 5-lapper (23 miles) was signficantly better than my first (10/19) -- 8:45/152 versus 8:34/148.

Ah, taper madness. I still can't decide what to do on Sunday for my long run. Probably 17 or 18 miles (depending on the course I choose), but I can't decide how much at MP. There's also a 10K I could run. Hey, Bob Glover has a 10k two weeks out in his schedule!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Glad I didn't run Richmond

Forecast is 67 degrees at 7am on Saturday. How's that for 15 November? My odds of warm weather go way down with the extra two weeks between Richmond and my marathon. Of course the odds of having temps in the teens go up too!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

hangin' on

The knee is, well, not too good. It ain't that bad though. I've got this week muscle strain in the bottom of my right foot (don't think it's PF). My weight is headed in the wrong direction, too. I counted calories and got to 160, stopped counting, and got to 163 in a heartbeat. I said you could ridicule me if I weren't 155 and didn't qualify for Boston. The offer still stands, but I think I just might have it this time.

I ran 11 at ~8:30 on Tuesday AM, and 5 really easy Tues PM. I was really unmotivated to go out last night. I just felt like I'd rather be doing something else with the 45 minutes. Once I got out there, my mind wandered, and I wondered why it was so hard to get out the door.

Then this morning, I modified my mixed intervals, substituting the 1k @ 5k pace and 800m @ 3k pace with another 2k @ 10k pace. This is sort of a compromise. I think the point of the fast stuff is to keep in touch with your speed, but I never developed any to keep in touch with. HM pace is really good for marathon training per Hudson and damn it if I don't agree :-) I've also decided that 10k pace is just plain good for me and I'm not letting it go just yet.

I felt tired going in and wore way too much clothing. It was supposed to be 36 (when I paced) but I think it was more like 45. I was wearing sweaty gloves by the time I reached the track. During the intervals my heart rate seemed higher than before, but now looking at the "data" it's pretty close.

Today: 3200m in 6:56/159, 6:50/167, 2000m in 8:10/173, 2000m in 8:10/175.
Last Tues: 3200m in 6:56/159, 6:44/167, 2000m in 8:07/172, 1000m in 3:54 (6:17)/176, 800m in 3:00 (6:02)/178

It was worse today, but not that much different. I was a little afraid I might be slipping based on how I felt this morning, but looking at the above, I can't jump to that conclusion.

My taper is really going to start with my long run this weekend (two weeks out). I did 23 last Sunday. I can't decide what to do this week. Here's a tour of book wisdom.

  • "Brain training" calls for 17 w/ 13 at MP again and I just might do that.
  • Hudson says 17 easy.
  • Pfitz 12wk/70mpw says 8-10k race Sat, 17 easy Sunday. Ouch. (The race sounds fun though.)
  • DRF Marathon Training plan A says 2 x (35-40' E pace + 15-20' T pace) + 2 mi E pace. My head hurts. I'm just going to read this as 17 with a couple of fast sections, OK?

I sure own a lot of books. I might do a repeat of my Mt Vernon time trial, but slower. I also thought of driving to the course, but it's a long drive. I could also do my standard 18 mile route and either make it easy or throw in some fast parts depending on how I feel. I'm tempted to do more than 18 because 3 weeks just seems like a long time to have 18 miles be your longest run.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

week of 3 November

Mo - Rest
Tu - 9.54 1:14:44 7:50 152 (76%)
We AM - 10.80 1:30:12 8:21 140 (70%)
We PM - 5.31 0:46:47 8:48 132 (66%)
Th - 6.57 0:59:14 9:01 131 (65%)
Fr - 10.78 1:25:52 7:58 145 (73%)
Sa - 5.59 0:52:00 9:18 127 (63%)
Su - 22.54 3:12:58 8:34 148 (74%)
This Week 71.14 10:01:47 8:28 142 (71%)

Sleep, sleep, sleep. I was a bit burned out before Friday's run and scaled back the intensity. Even then I was a little afraid that I wouldn't recover before Sunday and my long run would be miserable. I got 8 or 9 hours of sleep on Friday and took Saturday's recovery run *really* easy (check out the 127 bpm average). Then on Saturday afternoon (after my son's flag football team was victorious to finish the season 5-1!), I took an absurdly long nap and followed it up with another 8 or 9 hours of sleep on Saturday night.

All of the sleep must have helped because after I got going this morning, I felt great. I cranked out 5 steady laps at Burke Lake (23 miles) in relatively easy fashion. The only hiccup was my shoes. I ran the first lap in the Free 5.0v1 that I just bought four cheap pairs of and it felt like running on a golf ball. Doh! Luckily I brought the trusty Mizunos and switched back to them.

I'm hoping that 3:12:58 time for my long run today is a sign.

Friday, November 07, 2008

worse than hitting the wall

I saw this on the Baltimore Road Runners Club web site

"Bowhunting season has begun in Maryland and continues until January 31, 2009. This year the Loch Raven Watershed is open to hunters, so BRRC reminds trail runners as well as users of the NCR Trail to wear bright colors. Trail runners may also want to consider alternate venues that are not open to hunting."

The NCR trail is where I'm running the marathon. Something worse than hitting the wall to worry about.

Today's run was bizarre. Feeling beat up, I decide to do the usual Friday 2 x 3 miles, but not run < 7 min/mi like I had. The 1600m splits for the fast sections were 7:11/152, 7:14/156, 7:13/157 and 7:18/156, 7:21/158, 7:30/158. Unreal. My body must be in a weird state. If not, 7:26 is going to feel like jogging. Right not my plan is to run BQ pace (or maybe a minute faster) for the first half and then negative split. I definitely need to bank a couple of minutes for the last two steep uphill miles.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

just beat up

I think the MP on Sunday along with switching my track workout from Wed to Tue (to accomodate work travel) put me over the edge. Combine that with a lack of sleep from the time change and I am just beat up. Saturday is 3 weeks to go. I wish I believed in long tapers, because I could use one.

I manage to squeeze in 3 runs total 22 miles during my 3 days of meetings. The hotel was next to a golf community and there was a very nice 3.3 asphalt loop that was pretty flat and essentially uninterrupted. HRs paces were nice on the flats. 90' @ 8:21/140, 46' @ 8:48/132, and 59' @ 9:01/131.

I'm planning to cut out the stuff faster than HM pace and I think that will help me. Hudson's sharpening phases doesn't have it anyway. Fitzgerald maintains the mixed intervals (3200 @ HM, 2000 @ 10k, 1000 @ 5k, and 800 @ 3k), but I swear the 3k and 5k pace kills me more than anything.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

week of 27 October

Today I did a "marathon pace" run. The Brain Training schedule called for a half marathon tune-up today or time trial. Well, there wasn't a half marathon and I wasn't going to time trial one. Plus, I think a half would be too much of a disruption for me.

My plan was to head to the Mt. Vernon bike trail and run the potomac river run marathon course. It's a double out and back marathon and there's a permanent marker at the turnaround (10.5 k from the start). What pace should I do the 21k? Well, I'm a wimp and planned to run 7:20 pace even if that were below marathon hr as I expected it would be from the track. Still, this is a pretty hilly course. The race web page says, "Many flat stretches, some rolling terrain, two notable hills. This is not a flat course." That's about right. In some places the "rolling terrain" is pretty short and steep, which makes it hard to get in a groove.

Anyway, the first 7:20 went nice on the flat and even up the first hill. I kept even pace up the first hill and then kept up the effort, zooming down the other side in 6:59. I ended up running closer to marathon pace then I planned. Here are the splits. (You can see that it's pretty hilly from the lack of correlation between heart rate and pace in some sections.)

warmup - 9:24/154, 9:07/131 -- wonky HRM first mile
7:18/155, 7:18 /162, 7:14/164, 6:59/164, 7:09/166,
7:02/168, 7:15/168, 7:09/167, 7:31/168,7:18/167,
7:10/169, 7:04/167, 7:06/168, 0:45/171 (0.10)
cooldown - 8:47/153, 8:28/150

Splits from Frederick for marathon heart rate reference:
7:35/157, 7:21/168, 7:31/170, 7:34/169, 7:26/170,
7:26/171, 7:23/171, 7:28/171, 7:34/171, 7:32/171,
7:26/172, 7:38/172, 7:43/172, 7:40/173, 7:31/173,
7:29/173, 8:04/173, 7:35/173, 8:14/174, 7:53/174,
7:42/173, 7:56/173, 7:57/174, 7:40/176, 8:10/176,
7:58/175, 2:24/180.

So I did 21k in 1:34:25 or 7:14 per mile. (My half PR pace is 7:08!) The heart rates correspond to a very conservatively paced marathon. By mile 13, I would normally be solidly in the 170s (172 or so), but I'm not sure I could have turned around and done it again. My breathing was 2-2 from the beginning. This is something I probably need to get used to. I used to associate 2-2 breathing with 10 mile pace, but clearly I ran 13 without a problem. I'm now unsure whether to go with my normal marathon heart rate pacing or not. I'd hate to reach for too much and fail to BQ, but I don't want to leave too much on the table either

Here's the week.

Mo - Rest
Tu AM - 10.31 1:27:05 8:27 147 (74%)
Tu PM - 5.01 0:45:21 9:03 135 (67%)
We - 9.46 1:15:25 7:59 157 (78%)
Th - 6.02 0:57:56 9:38 133 (66%)
Fr AM - 1.11 0:10:26 9:23 153 (76%)
Fr AM 9.51 1:14:08 7:48 153 (77%) -- same run, had to reset Garmin
Fr PM 4.95 0:44:38 9:01 142 (71%)
Sa - 5.44 0:50:34 9:18 130 (65%)
Su - 17.10 2:10:13 7:37 160 (80%)
This Week 68.91 9:35:46 8:21 148 (74%)

Mileage was below 70 again. Gotta watch that! Getting in my running this week is going to be challenging, but I'll get it done.