Saturday, March 26, 2011

SunTrust National Marathon Race Report

Unofficial time: 3:53:26 (1:28 PR)

I held off the crash a little longer than my previous races. I didn't drop off pace until mile 20 and then I held off the 10-minute miles until mile 23. My leg cramps returned for this race. I can blame the fact that my Endurolytes got wet and became difficult to grab, or that I have to practice my drinking on the run technique, but really I just need to be tougher. I ran smiling and easy through the half marathon in about 1:50. I felt the need to fight at my typical point in the race, mile 16. I felt that cramp feel and my speed was dropping when I wasn't concentrating, but I kept fighting. I gave in to cramps around the SE/SW Freeway and began to jog backwards. I then started to walk when needed after creating simple goals for myself, "run to that sign post, get to that cone."

When I approached the finish line I actually hit my lap button to mark 26.2 miles (my overall distance traveled was 26.48 mile). Spectators were good-naturedly goading me to pull it together and run and one of them sparked me to go for it. I dropped the hammer with 300 meters to go and hit 5:00 min/mi pace until the finish line. Where did that come from? Well it was honest because I crossed the finish line barely able to move another step and almost falling down.

I really enjoyed this marathon. I liked the run through DC more than the Marine Corps Marathon. The support was really good and the hills didn't really seem too bad. The volunteers did their job cheerfully and well. I think the think the finish festival was a little random - Baltimore seems to do that best out of the marathons I've run. I also think that the expectation of not seeing official results and timing until Friday, April 1st is insane in today's tech-empowered world. Let's hope that this is not really the case. The best part of the race organization is the fact that they made the DC Armory available for us to relax in prior to the race so that the relatively cold starting temp of 40 degrees F didn't really affect the runners. I'll definitely run this race again.

Race day: Last pre-race post

It's 4:30. I've eaten my PB and syrup sandwich with a Muscle Milk shake, water and a multi-vitamin. It is 39 degree F and clear with little wind. I have decided not to wear the running tights and brave having cold legs until I warm up. I have to leave soon to get to RFK by around 5:45 am. Since my last post I've run an easy 4-miler with strides to  make the race week build up 7.1 miles with my typical Tuesday quality run of a hard 5k. I feel good. My plan is to run easy with surges until 18 miles or so and then just see what I've got. I have my Endurolytes, my GU gels, gloves and socks to go over the gloves. Its time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Race week: The last hard workout before the race

I am feeling awesomesauce (thanks Angry Runner). I just love hitting my workout goals. I set out this evening to run a 5k at my current projected 10k pace. I guessed that I could run a 10k at this point in a 7:15/mi pace, which is actually slower than my per mile pace at last year's Cherry Blossom 10-mile run (7:12/mi). I threw down a respectable 22:18 (7:11/mi pace) over a hilly (462 ft of ascent) 5k car strewn course on a pair of long day at work, pick up oldest son from field trip, scarf down dinner, pick up daughter from ballet, marathon-slowed legs. That's awesomesauce on top of amazeballs!

When I do this good at my workouts I feel as cool as this dude...

Aside: I openly challenged all my co-workers at last year's Armed Forces 5k and put out a 21:06 only to get 2nd in my group of colleagues. I believe they all better watch out now cause I am going to sharpen my speed after the marathon and try for a sub-20 5k this May.

Aside 2: I have started the 100-consecutive push-up challenge again, but I forgot to take rest breaks (4 straight days with no rest breaks). Since my initial push-up test ended up with 33 tallied I started with week three 80, 100, 120 reps over 5 sets. My arms are feeling a bit trashed.I think that I'll start the challenge again after the marathon so I don't do something stupid.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Number crunching for National Marathon

I am number crunching once again, trying to figure out what my pace strategy will be for the marathon. My marathon prep this time could be said to be a

Pre-buildup - Noveber and December = 120 miles
Week 1 - 11.51 (partial week, I started on New Years that was a Saturday)
Week 2 - 30.01
Week 3 - 45.26
Week 4 - 44.89
Week 5 - 26.36
Week 6 - 36.61
Week 7 - 31.51
Week 8 - 37.72 (ran the GW Birthday Marathon)
Week 9 - 21.31 (with 20 min of elliptical)
Week 10 - 42.47 (23 mile long run)
Week 11 - 28.29 (8 miles marathon pace)
Week 12 - 25.54 (6 miles marathon pace)
Total miles pre-race week - 381.49, 57 runs at an 8:46/mile pace

I can't remember whose blog it was that gave this idea to me, but I found this side-by-side comparison of the last three (sans my training GW Bday Marathon) marathon splits useful to compare my tendencies to slow down in the second half.




Mile 1




Mile 2




Mile 3




Mile 4




Mile 5




Mile 6




Mile 7




Mile 8




Mile 9




Mile 10




Mile 11




Mile 12




Mile 13




Mile 14




Mile 15




Mile 16




Mile 17




Mile 18




Mile 19




Mile 20




Mile 21




Mile 22




Mile 23




Mile 24




Mile 25




Mile 26




These stats are very informative, yet I wish I could enter in the elevation gain and loss to tell a more complete picture. I plan to run 8:40-ish throughout the marathon. I am hoping for an A-goal of 3:30, and will accept anything short of my current 3:54 PR

 I had such an inspiration from this weekend's racers. Galen Rupp, Mo Farah, Kara Goucher, Meb K, and Ryan Hall standout for me, especially Mo for having the will to win. I was openly cheering while viewing the race online.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All I Do ...

I ran an easy 6 this morning, OUTSIDE! I punished my strides running close to my 800m paces. Yesterday I did 8 800s at 6:40 pace. I feel in shape though sitting down at work makes my body feel tight.

My morning run playlist made me miss Michael Jackson. I heard 2 songs from Off the Wall and a song I never knew Michael sang, All I Do Is Think of You. That song was popularized to my generation by a group named Troop. They did a good facsimile but there is only one Michael.

My hype songs were H.A.M. by Kanye and Jay-Z, two Swizz Beats productions with Lloyd Banks and Kanye, and 6 foot 7 by Weezy. These will find their way on my marathon playlist.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

National Marathon taper week 1 of 3

The week of training at an elevated pace relative to my previous weeks are making me feel ready to run hard. The 8 mile marathon pace run today felt easy and I am happy to see a significant negative split even though it was a positive elevation gain on the way home. The splits were (distance, pace, elevation gain):
  • Mile 1 - 8:28 - 32 ft
  • Mile 2 - 8:30 - 43 ft
  • Mile 3 - 8:26 - 0 ft
  • Mile 4 - 8:26 - 12 ft
  • Mile 5 - 8:18 - 61 ft
  • Mile 6 - 8:21 - 63 ft
  • Mile 7 - 7:46 - 0 ft
  • Mile 8 - 7:33 - 14 ft
  • Last .78 Mile - 7:23 - 23 ft
The first of three weeks of taper ended with 28.29 miles with an average pace of 8:13, which is faster than my expected marathon pace. I did 3 quality runs and one recovery run, skipping two recovery runs on Wednesday and Friday. I feel really fit right now, I just need to focus on keeping the muscle tension balance through quality workouts, diet, and sleep. I am prepared for the marathon and am now just thinking about running fast in some May 5Ks.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tapering begins

3 weeks to go. I skipped my easy miles on Wednesdays day but fully went after my Tuesday and Thursday quality workouts.

After my high mileage week that was capped by a 23 miler I started with a 7 by 1600m at 10k pace (7:30 pace for the sake of the treadmill) and hit every interval. There is nothing like a hard effort to give you confidence that you can recover when times get tough. This morning I set out to do an off/on workout where I would run for 30 secs @ marathon pace (8:34) then 30 secs @ 5k pace minus 20 (6:40).

Though I feel a bit bad about recently not hitting my training goal I am beginning to remember what success feels like.

Note: just bought new shoes, Brooks Adrenaline 11s.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Yoda and the Central Governor

Today's workout was tough. The plan was to run 23 miles, 7 at an easy pace and 16 at marathon pace. I struck for laps in my neighborhood around 0645 and got 7 miles in before the sometimes heavy rain drove me inside. I put a load in the dryer and began the marathon pace workout on my treadmill.

The outdoor portion of my run was 7 miles in 1:02:53 (8:57/mile), which was a bit faster than I intended. I think I picked up the pace just to get back inside when the rain became too heavy. Once I go back indoors I knew that there would be distractions aplenty. My first item on the agenda was to let my wife know that I was back indoors and bring her a cup of coffee (aside: Keurigs are nice, no wasted cup for me because I would not get to drink some for hours yet). Downstairs, I dried off a bit a and got out of my outdoor clothes, set the TV to ESPN SportsCenter and began to run on the treadmill. This 10 minute break was something I wouldn't be getting in the Marathon.

My fuel strategy was already blown to smithereens by the fact of not having enough gels for my planned eat every 30 - 40 minutes. I downed 4 gels and a pack of fruit snacks while running, slowing the 'mill down to walk while I ate and drank every 3 or so miles. Two hours twenty five minutes later I had finished, with one interruption of a loud bang upstairs that turned out to be my middle son pushing his sister off the coach over some mishap with a Nintendo DS. I maintained a bit slower pace mostly running a 6.7 and 6.8 mph. By mile 21 I started to flag a bit, but got it together while dropping down to a 6 mph pace (10 min/mi). I was firmly in the "hurt box" by mile 22 and had to remember that though it hurt I wasn't going to die or be injured if I kept running a my planned pace and dropped down to 7.5 mph (8 min/mi) for the last 800m.

Overall, my 23 mile run was 3:28:24 this averages out to a 9:03 min/mi pace. Not too shabby, but I showed a lack of commitment to my goal pace in the second run. The one takeaway that I see as a huge win is my familiarity with the "hurt box" is re-established. I have been giving way to muscle fatigue pain in my marathons. The term I am using comes from the blokes at the Marathon Talks podcast. They interviewed Dr. Tim Noakes of the Lore of Running fame and I found his "central governor" premise intriguing. I must write about this more later, however in short we are just talking about the phenomena of trying hard.

There is no if. When the SunTrust National Marathon requires me to dig deep and challenge my "central governor" I will answer the bell and start throwing down. As Yoda said, "Do or do not do. There is no try."

Tapering begins next week.

Friday, March 4, 2011

SunTrust National Marathon is official

I finally did it. I committed to the SunTrust in more than just words. Electrons, bits, are now coursing through the Inter Webs with my resolve to put everything I've got on the line on March 26 for 26.2 miles. It cost me now in both money and training/effort/guts.

Sixteen miles is a special distance for me. It is my nemesis. I have seen my threshold in 13 miles, but have pushed myself to near marathon pace for the next couple of miles, but I am aware that the 16 mile mark is the end of my game face and when I start survival mode. I wish to push past this milestone and figure out what I can bring with a 23 mile run this Sunday with a 16 mile marathon pace close out (8:40).

Sunday will be a huge confidence build.