Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Running with music

I was running my last Sunday before the marathon and on the last mile before I wrap up the workout and the worst song comes up on my random playlist. Have you ever heard the statement, "I love all the songs I put on my iPod except when they are on random." Well, that's how I felt all run. In eight miles, I heard Sade, Anthony Hamilton, and R. Kelly. I could've used Biggie, N.E.R.D., or anything up-tempo, but I kept getting slow songs and emo crap.

Check this. I finally got lucky with Public Enemy's Night of the Living Baseheads and it followed me up with Sade's Babyfather - WTF? So, back to the last song. I was heading up the hill my neighbors call Mt. Tendonitus and what do I hear? That Hump by Erykah Badu. If you've never heard it before, I'll tell you my impression of what you should be doing when it comes on - picking cotton in your fourteenth hour of work on a plantation. This dirge/blues song is not suited for running. I nearly clawed my iPod arm sleeve off my arm trying to get this most inappropriate song out of my head.
If I could get over that HUMP (mmmmm) Then maybe I will feel better Maybe I wont FALL If I could get...
You get the point. I was running up a hill for Pete's sake!

So, this is all to say that I am considering whether I should where my iPod at the marathon this weekend or not. I haven't worn my iPod at my other marathons. The only race wore my iPod was the Jug Bay 10K when I finished 2nd in my age group. I carefully selected my playlist that day to include some serious tempo songs like, DMX's Intro, Jay-Z's Say Hello, and my all-time favorite running song Outkast's B.O.B. I'm thinking that if I can put together 3 and a half hours of music. The only thing I am worried about is whether I want to create a score that fits the phases and scenery of the race or just put a bunch of head bangers on the mix.

Maybe, I'd be better just listening to my heart, footfalls and cheers from the spectators.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Taper madness

I am scared. I am healthy, strong, and feel like I could do something awesome at the Marine Corps Marathon. I also have doubts, am worried that I won't be able to live up to my VERY public expectations and want to show how much potential I have in this race.

Training has gone so well, but did I run enough at my goal marathon pace? Whatever, I am so ready. So the current draft of my expectations is as follows:
  • (perfect day) goal - 3:22, 7:42/mile - I do not expect to hit this goal as I have never trained at this pace I have only come to this goal by my Cherry Blossom 10 mile result.
  • A goal - 3:27, 7:55/mile - I trained to do this, spent little time directly on this but I think I know what it feels like. I need guts to do this, but this is what I want.
  • B goal - 3:32, 8:05/mile - I have done two 20 milers near this pace and think that I can handle this based on training results.
  • C goal - 3:45, 8:35/mile - I would've normally decided that any PR is acceptable, but I have trained too hard to accept that 8:35/mile pace is my best. Only a meltdown will let my pride deliver this result.
So, a blowhard has blown hard. I have told many people who have no choice, but to listen to my marathon dreams that I would beat 3:3o. I am pretty much committed to giving my all. Race strategies are scary. I really want to deliver a negative split, but I have to set the first few miles at the 8:35/mile pace and then ramp up. This will set me in a very difficult pace cut from miles 4 to 26.2.

What-ev. I will try or go out on my shield I have done too many pace workouts where I recovered after tough paces. I have to try.

As you might say, I am suffering from "taper madness," I will second guess, doubt and brag about my marathon goals over the next few days. I will write a full race report, but I am gonna go off the deep end for the next 8 days.

Cheers =)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tough guy, huh?

I ran 7 mile in 56:16 this morning after fighting myself to wake up and run. Tapering feels good, but it reminds you of how much rest one's body really can enjoy.

I did my 5 mile tempo run at 7:24/mile (8.1 mph) with a warm-up and cool down mile. I did this on my treadmill with a 2% grade. Getting to mile 5 felt a bit tough and I had to repeat my self over and over "I am tough, I am tough!" Then magically, mile 5 was easy. I threw in a surge at the end of each lap for 100m (.06 mile) 8.2 mph, 8.3 mph, 9 mph.

I was inspired to keep going by a NY Times article titled, "The Secrets of Elite Athletes" ( that suggested that they simply endure pain better. Well masochism may not be my thing, but I am tough!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Over analyzing...

Now that the hard part is over. Now that the mileage has added up and I have done the speedwork and long runs is the time where I get sneaky. How can I creep over the finish line without hurting? How can I meet my expectations and show the promise to get my BQ in 2011? Do I have the guts and fitness to break 3:30 at the MCM?

In 2010 I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in 1:12:57 and the Armed Forces 5k in 21:06. These times suggest that I can run between 3:22 and 3:24 according to the Runner's World Training Calculator. In my previous two marathons I ran only one twenty mile training run each. For this marathon I have attempted four 20-milers (with on 19.28 mile DNF). I trained 17 weeks/424.01 miles for my first marathon (Frederick 2009), 15 weeks/468.11 miles for my second (Baltimore 2009), and Marine Corps Marathon 2010 will end after 17 weeks/568.31 miles.

Weeks 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Total
Fred2009 16.23 19.05 22.91 19.02 25.82 27.42 22.38 7.61 32 29.4 39.26 38.77 33.14 31.63 29.22 21.01 9.14 424.01
Balt2009 24.01 36.37 37.83 30.31 38.51 31.01 35.09 35.09 35.85 29.84 41.04 41.01 27.01 17.09 8.05

MCM2010 21.04 8.02 24.06 19.21 25.32 41 41.2 46.08 47.6 48.06 35.35 35.87 57.2 37.66 43.64 25* 12* 568.31

I weigh about the same as last year when I ran Baltimore (approximately 185 lbs). I guess that the only thing I can say is that I am still training hard. I have more race experience and I have been running one year longer than the last marathon. I gave myself 3 years to qualify for Boston (3:15:59). I want to get this marathon under 3:30, I'll take a PR of 3:45, but I must that that would be disappointing. I've got two weeks of tapering left and I plan on keeping sharp with two tempo sessions: first a 5 miles at 7:23, second 4 miles at 7:28.

More ruminations to come...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I am on a weird pre-taper taper. I ran a crazy race this weekend, the Warrior Dash where I ran very well (204/5111, 18th in AG).

I then proceeded to run 12 miles on the Marine Corps Marathon course. I planned on doing 20 miles, but my legs were tight and it was too hot (+80 degrees F). I ran from the Arlington Cemetery to the Key Bridge to the National Mall to the Capital and back to the Memorial Bridge. When I got home I was beat.

I have less than three weeks to go to my marathon. I skipped the planned runs for Tuesday and Wednesday. Tomorrow I've got to do some speed work. I have two plans I can execute now. One is a taper plan: run 6 mi, inc Warm; 4 mi @ 7:28; Cool. The other is a brutal 2-week taper that has me running a 7 mile tempo run.

I may be selling my fast marathon up the river, but I am opting for the three week taper. I feel so good just chilling and resting the last two days. I am soaking in Chicago Marathon race reports and thinking fast thoughts.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday quality workout (4 x 1600 in 6:39, 6:50, 6:53, 6:49)

I only do two hard workouts a week. Thursday is quality/speedwork day and Sunday is long run day. The rest are "easy" runs, which at this phase of my training are 9 miles at 8:40/mile pace. I always dread the speedwork especially fast interval training. I am afraid that I won't hit the times. It takes a lot to run until you feel you can do no more. Weight lifting is easier. If you max out on the bench press you just have your spotter put the bar on the rack for you, but running is different you don't want to collapse to the ground because you can't do anymore (or do you?).

Today I went to the track with the intention of doing 4 by 1 mile intervals at 6:50/mile pace. I have to say that I don't feel very fast right now because all I seem to do is run long distances. I went to Bowie State University after work today to put in the workout. This was first for me and I was very pleased to run on a well cared-for collegiate track. The campus was fairly empty and I had only one runner with me who left after my first mile.

I warmed up one mile and started my intervals. Each mile hurt a little bit and I took my time during my 800m rest laps in between. I made good use of my arms when I wanted to finish the laps strong. The best part was that I had the marching band practicing and stomping by the track on my last interval. They were playing "Cold-hearted Snake" by Paula Abdul and "Yea Ya Know" by T.I. and the drum lines were rocking. I used their tempos to push me through to the end of my workout.

7.85 miles in 1:05:34 (4 x 1600 in 6:39, 6:50, 6:53, 6:49)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Perfect training week (57.20 miles)

Everything just clicked today. I had a challenging 20-mile training run with a projected 8:40 pace scheduled for Sunday. I have had three scheduled 20-milers thus far in my build-up to MCM and it was my fifth 20-mile training run of my young running career. This one was by far my best. My average pace was under my target (8:38/mile) and I negative split.

Splits - 9:23, 9:02, 8:49, 9:20, 8:46, 8:32, 8:36, 8:36, 8:32, 8:53, 8:34, 9:16, 8:12, 8:35, 8:58, 8:01, 8:07, 7:39, 8:07, 8:30

What did I do right? I woke up early enough to have cup of coffee and some peanut butter toast and then sit around a while to let that "soak in." Next I drove to a spot in the middle of the WB&A trail where I placed my spare energy gels and water bottles. I did not carry them. I planned to run a 10k then have a gel then have a gel every 5k from them on. I also started off slow and gradually picked up the pace. I planned to run the final 5 miles at marathon pace (~7:50/mile).

Things went really except for the running jump roper who nonchalantly skipped down the trail with her dog off the leash I encountered at mile 17. Though the dog did not appear aggressive it did pay too much attention to me so I had to really slow down so I could be sure I would not be attacked. I then ran into two dogs and their owners on leash but on a narrow bridge at mile 19. Again I was attempting to run a fast closing pace and had to slow down so I wouldn't get bit.

In looking back on the run I find that I can will myself to run fairly fast over a long distance. I also did get to know what marathon effort will feel like after running 20 miles this year. During the Baltimore Marathon last year I went through 20 miles in 2:52:19, but that was in a race, after a taper, and with full training. I am still four weeks away and this run came at the end of my heaviest running week ever:
  • Tuesday - 9.11 miles in 1:18:04 (8:34/mile)
  • Wednesday - 9:08 miles in 1:18:28 (8:38/mile)
  • Thursday - 10 miles in 1:22 (8 miles tempo at 7:41/mile)
  • Friday - 9 miles in 1:17:36 (8:37/mile)
  • Sunday - 20 miles in 2:52:44 (8:38/mile)
Total - 57.20 miles