Friday, June 30, 2006

Nothing Stays the Same

It was a nice system- not perfect, mind you, but functional enough for me to get things done. In bed by nine, coffee maker starts brewing at 4:01, alarm set for 4:10am. Out the door by 5 at the latest, back by 6:30 on the easier days and by 7 at the latest, not including the long run. Make breakfast for the kids if they haven't eaten by the time I get back, and let Kiera get out the door to the gym. The plan from here deviates depending on when Finn goes down for morning nap and whether or not Haiden is going to school. Then usually it's off to work for me.

I was starting to feel like I had this plan "wired". It takes awhile to get used to getting up early, but it's great to get the run done and still have time with the kids before work. I had no reason to believe anything would monkey things up...

After having trouble getting to sleep last night I had finally drifted off when the grinding sound of metal on metal woke both me and my wife up. Mercifully the kids were sleeping through the racket, which apparently was coming from the air conditioner, which sits just on the other side of the wall from our bed. The noise was teeth-rattling, and soon both Kiera and I found ourselves peering into the whirring and grinding fan assembly in the backyard with flashlights. For some reason shining light on the unit didn't fix it, and the damn thing just kept grinding away. After Kiera shut it down I examined it for awhile but couldn't find anything jammed in the assembly. After turning it on again it started grinding but abruptly the noise stopped while the fan kept spinning. Joy of joys, the compressor had stopped working. No problem, it shouldn't get much hotter than 100 degrees tomorrow.

Now my wife is sensible about these things. After all, it's getting close to midnight at this point and there is simply nothing that can be done until morning, so she goes back to sleep. This is not a trait I share with her. I toss and turn, worrying more and more about whether or not this will mean a few thousand dollars (we avoided this repair last time but the fellow who looked at the unit gave us that nebulous price quote for when the compressor would eventually fail), or if we could somehow dodge a bullet and get it fixed for a few hundred dollars instead. I worry about money often, more often then I would like, and having this uncertainty weighing on me made sleep impossible. I was also concerned about all of us potentially facing a long, hot holiday weekend without any air conditioning if a repairman wasn't available. After pacing around the kitchen, wandering back outside a few more times with the flashlight and examining the thermostat I finally gave up. The last thing I did before falling asleep sometime around 2 was turn off the coffee maker and the alarm. So much for consistency, I needed sleep.

Enter Haiden, stage left, at a little after 5am. My fatigue is comical at this point, and Kiera isn't feeling much better. Our daughter is hungry, and some half-muttered "We'll see" by me at bedtime after a last-minute request for chocolate chip pancakes has somehow turned into a "sure thing" in her mind for breakfast. Kiera is already back to sleep, so I make a deal with Haiden. My head is throbbing and I can barely open my eyes, but I offer to take her on a muffin run if she lets me have a cup of coffee first. Deal.

Six miles with the stroller and a muffin to go from Bashas' gets us home as Kiera is feeding Finn breakfast. While going back out into the heat and humidity for more miles seems a little daunting after the night-time activities, I get a drink of water and do what needs to be done. 11 miles for the morning, a tepid 7:29 average pace. Not too bad considering the circumstances and the stroller.

Whenever I start to rattle on about starting to feel good or getting into a training rhythm, something like this happens. Keeping to my mantra of "10 miles or more" for the morning run on a day like today makes me feel better than nailing a difficult workout. When the mind is willing, the body will follow. The mind is willing, probably to a fault. Cross your fingers on the AC for me.

Training: 11 miles, 7:29 pace

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Redemption

A while back I confided that I had stopped eating breakfast before my runs after my last marathon. Plenty of people poo-pooed the idea, and the two articles I linked to in the post as well as this article that debates the validity of actual glycogen depletion leading to bonking in the latter stages of endurance events failed to convince them otherwise.

While the debate rages on, I'm excited to report I have recruited a foot soldier from the "other side". Erics's post today puts him squarely in my camp, and hopefully he won't have any episodes that change his mind. I'm glad he posted about his change of heart, if only so I don't have to wait the usual 7 days between posts. I mean come on, Duncan is posting twice a day!

As far as my running goes, I feel a little better and a little more confident in my approach with each passing day. I've cut the intensity until...well, until I feel I'm up to it, but I'm keeping my mileage right about where I was during the mileage peaks of my previous "aerobic conditiong" phases, which is about 100 miles a week. Trying to run 10+ miles each morning makes for a tough runner, even if the paces are a little slow for the time being. I'm waking up before the alarm rings so I think I'm getting enough sleep. I'm excited almost every day to get out there, and I feel like I'm recovering well from run to run. In short, I don't feel like a victim of overtraining, but I do feel like I'm at the beginning again. While I could probably speed the process along by dropping milege for a few weeks (as Eric and others have suggested), I'm actually in no hurry to start "coming up" again. I've put running a fall marathon out of my mind, opting instead to run the distance in December or January. I still have to figure out which race I'll be doing, but there's time for that.

I met the Running Shop gang for six easy miles in the evening for my second session yesterday, and this morning entailed 13 miles with Lucas on what is becoming our mid-week loop. With Lucas it is always the constant struggle of my miles versus his times. He's looking for a set amount of minutes (90 today), while I'm looking for an even mile mark to end on. Today worked out well with 13 miles even in the alotted time, and I was home in plenty of time to serve the savages their breakfasts.

Training: Today, 13 miles, 7:07 pace
Yesterday pm., 6 miles at about 7:10 pace

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

12...How about 8...Maybe 10

Run until I feel like stopping, how's that for a plan? I gave myself enough time to get in 12 by leaving before 5am, but I started out with an 8 mile loop in case I started feeling sluggish. It never happened, though instead of doing a full 12 miles I headed back to the infield of the track up the road and put in 5 "diagonals". I recover for more than the width of the end zone for mine, usually about 200-300 meters while I figure out which corner to start the next one from. The grass was a little long and pretty wet, but it felt good to move the legs. While I planned to do 6, I stopped after five when one of my adductors started to make itself known.

I ended up with an even 10 for the day at 7:10 pace, though I didn't pay any attention to the watch as I ran. It's liberating to not focus on workouts for a little while, and as I mentioned before, I'll cut back miles after a week or two if I feel that it would help more.

I'll meet up with the gang from the Running Shop for an easy 6 this evening, then I'm set to run with Lucas tomorrow for somewhere between 10 and 16 miles.

I'm still in love with the run, and while I'd like to be going faster I'm enjoying my time on the roads. The fact that the motivation hasn't left me is a good sign.

Training: 10 miles, 7:10 pace, with 5x100 strides

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Body to Brain, "Are You Listening Yet?"

I told Finn (our son who turned one last week) that his sister started walking before her first birthday. It's clear he's a pretty competitive guy already, because almost immediately he has started taking steps on his own. He's up to five or six before landing on his hands or his bottom, and he's clearly pleased with himself for making these efforts. His world changes so much on a daily basis, and watching him and his sister develop and being a part of their lives fills me with an immense amount of pride.

Back to me now. Jason left this comment the other day after I complained about not being able to do a workout to my expectations. "What your program may be sorely lacking is proper time for recovery. If I were in your shoes, I would not only put in recovery days that consist of an hour of easy jogging but also complete weeks where the main purpose is to recover.

Like yourself, I have a difficult time coping with such a plan. However, I usually look to my brother Kyle for inspiration when in recovery mode. For him, after a two week block of heavy riding, he will ride about an hour a day and even miss a day or two. He truly believes that recovery is paramount in all programs and often neglected.

In addition, I have a buddy who was schooled in the Weldon Johnson training methodology and, when I did most of my miles with him, we always discussed training. From these lengthy discussions, I gleaned a very important mantra:

"train, don't strain"

So, what I am getting at is that when you are at the point where you are straining during your runs, you are beyond the point where structured workouts and runs will give you any benefit. At that point, recovery must be the answer. However, the ultimate goal is to avoid "straining" via a program with adequate recovery allowing you to get the most out of your workouts."

Jason echoes what many people have been saying about my training since the marathon, especially after posting what some consider a tough plan. I set out to prove him wrong today and failed.

I ran easy yesterday, ate well, slept well, and even experimented by having a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey and a glass of juice before today's run to eliminate as many variables as I could if things did not go well.

Things did not go well. The plan was for me to run 16 miles and do a progression of 6:30, 6:20, 6:10, 6:00, 5:50, 5:45, 5:40, 5:35 for miles 8-15, then finish with a mile cool-down. I ran 6:28, 6:19, 6:09 and 6:04, then tried in vain to get under 6 for a half a mile before calling it quits. The breathing was far too heavy, more like a tempo run than marathon pace, and the legs just did not want to turn over. Rather than beat myself up I just pulled the plug and decided to do some strides on the grass on the infield of the track at the nearby junior high. The track itself is thinly covered concrete so I avoid it if I can. Unortunately the sprinklers were on so I just took a long loop home to make it 15 miles.

Maybe it was the 19 miles on Sunday that left me a little cooked, but looking back on last week's "workouts" (which were both lame enough to necessitate the quotation marks) it is clear that the body is not ready to go fast again. My fartlek workout (5x1 mile on, 1 mile off) had me struggling to stay around marathon pace, and my 6 miles of marathon pace workout turned into 4 miles, where marathon pace felt way too difficult.

"Train don't strain" was invented by Lydiard, and later co-opted by those online poker fiends in Flagstaff. I think Jason is right when he says "...when you are at the point where you are straining during your runs, you are beyond the point where structured workouts and runs will give you any benefit. At that point, recovery must be the answer. However, the ultimate goal is to avoid "straining" via a program with adequate recovery allowing you to get the most out of your workouts."

This begs the question, how do I recover? In my case (though everyone is different), I'm learning that speed kills. For instance, when I shut down the workout today I could have turned home immediately and finished with about 12 miles, but I didn't want to. Jogging at an easy pace is still a pleasure, even after bombing a workout. I still stayed out for 15, and I would have probably ran all 16 if I had given myself enough time to (I lost 5 minutes by not completing the run at the progression pace and I'd promised Kiera I would be back).

I'm going to can the workouts and just run the miles for a week or two and see what happens, with the exception of doing one effort to see where I stand. I will attempt a little tempo with Lucas Saturday, since I said I would. He's planning on running up the road in Sabino Canyon, and I typically run at a pretty good clip on an incline without much additonal effort. I blame all those hill workouts for this.

I'll plan on keeping the miles up this week, but backing off next week if it seems like I'm still not coming around. Nobby is coaching a marathoner now that he has advised to just run easily for several weeks, an hour to an hour and a half daily at 7 to 8 minute pace. This guy runs marathons more than 20 minutes faster than I do. Maybe Nobby is on to something. For the time being though, I'd like to keep the miles up and only change one thing at a time (again with isolating the variables).

If ever there is a time to feel slow, it's summer.

Training: 15 miles, 7:02, including a failed progression run starting at 7 miles with miles of 6:28, 6:19, 6:09, 6:04.

Monday, June 26, 2006

One


Finn's first birthday party was a blast, complete with dogs and burgers, cake and cupcakes, plenty of assorted veggies and other snacks. As you can see, Finn enjoyed his first slice of cake, and did the best he could to inhale every ounce of chocolate from his plate. As for me, a few weeks of good eating were gloriously ruined with a (turkey) dog, a burger, cake and 4 beers (it was a long afternoon). Most of the festivities went down in the backyard, and an unexpected but welcome rain shower had the kids splashing around while running between the playhouse and the sand-box. Even with the cooking, photography, videography and hosting duties, Kiera and I both had a good time, though one or two of these a year is plenty.

I woke this morning around 6 after not setting the alarm and immediately regretted not getting out earlier, as the rain the night before had made things hot and steamy. I ran 8 miles easy, and had no problem keeping the pace in the 7:20's. I take it as a good sign that I felt much better after the run, and if Kiera hadn't been waiting to go to the gym I probably would have put in a few more miles to get to 10 miles like I had planned. If there's ever a time to take it easy though, this is it.

Training: 8 miles, 7:26 pace. Felt groggy at the beginning, hot and happy at the end.

Beard-tastic


Great track and field beards throughout history inspired by Eric.

I lied. I honestly didn't have time to shave yesterday before the party, after a trip to Costco and four hours in the yard had drained whatever energy remained after 19 miles in the morning. Angie and Johnny were at the party and promptly busted me, so it's no use continuing the charade.

This morning I asked my daughter Haiden if I should shave and she said "yes", but then my wife said that she actually liked the mess on my face. This, coupled with Eric's comment and photographic links to some great bearded runners have convinced me to hang on a little while longer.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Deal


I'm just not a beard guy.
I may not have what it takes to be a caveman after all. I started growing a beard after the marathon, and it was most likely brought on by post-marathon depression. At first it was fun, then it started to itch, then it didn't. Finally it just bugged me enough that I wanted to be free of it. About midweek I made a deal with myself to make this happen. If I got to 100 miles this week (three weeks after the marathon), it was gone.

I was at 81 miles for the week as I stood in the driveway at 5am this morning, and I had second thoughts about whether or not I could manage much over 2 hours with my new delayed breakfast (eating only after the run) routine. There was Finn's party today, and I had a ton of yardwork and other preparations ahead of me, so my mind was heavy with post-run obligations. Enough, Lucas was to meet me at 5:15 in Sabino Canyon and I didn't want to be late.

I'll keep it short. My legs were tired from the effort yesterday, so we moved along at a fairly steady pace on our two hour loop. At about 11 miles I was pretty convinced that I would make it, but that the last 5 miles wouldn't bee very pretty. This proved to be the case. At about 15 miles I usually let Lucas go back through the hilliest part of the Canyon alone as I loop back, but I knew the temptation would be too great for me to cut things short if I didn't follow him awhile longer. We headed back towards the Bear Canyon trailhead, climbing up a few nasty hills as the sun creeped up overhead. I bid him adieu at 17 miles, knowing that the shortest way home would still give me my 19. Head down, I plowed along, thinking of the 22 mile runs I seemed to fly through at faster than 7 minute pace. It seems like ages ago. When I wonder aloud to Lucas about whether or not it's the caloric withdrawal that's making me run slower, he just shakes his head and says, "don't you think it could just be that marathon you just ran?" It sounds so simple when he says it, but since I started the delayed breakfast thing as I was recovering from the race it's impossible to say for sure.

So 19 miles done, 7:10 pace, time to shave. Have a nice weekend.
Miles for the week: 100 in 9 sessions

Saturday, June 24, 2006

When Tempo Becomes Marathon Pace

Eleven miles this morning, including four at marathon pace. These four definitely felt more like tempo pace, probably due in part to a hot 4 miles last evening following the Champions trail loop yesterday morning. It's clear I'm not fully recovered from the marathon, but it seems like running distance is getting easier. The tempo, fartlek and marathon pace runs aren't pleasant yet, but I'm hoping that as I re-acclimate to the increased mileage things will get easier.

We're having a big birthday bash for Finn tomorrow at the house so I've been feverishly working to get the front and back yard in shape, which is tough in the 105 degree heat. I'm winning the battle against the red ants, but the crazy little black ones have started a new colony nearby. The black ones don't bite so I'm letting them be.

Not much to say today, I'm saving my energy for the party and the long run tomorrow. Have a nice weekend.

Training: Today, 11 miles, 6:55 pace, with 4 miles at 5:59 pace
Yesterday pm., 4 hot miles at 7:09 pace

Friday, June 23, 2006

Oh the Humanity!!

I was really ticked off, and I had already started typing about the encounter in my head as I continued my run. It's the same old thing; Me on the shoulder of the road, in this case actually off the road entirely and on the dirt next to it, running against traffic like I'm supposed to. As I approach a corner I see the giant Lincoln Annihalator barreling towards me, and almost before I can react he cuts the turn (with no turn signal, of course) so close that he goes over the white line, the three foot bike lane, and onto the dirt right in my path, almost hitting me. After finishing his turn I see him pull into a gym's lot up the road as I stand with my arms stretched high into the air in a "WHY!!" pose. I resisted the temptation to flip him off, or to chase him into the lot to give him a lecture. Lucas was meeting me at the house for the second half of the run and I didn't want to be late, and frankly I just wasn't in the mood for an altercation.

So I start running again, crossing to the other side of the street while determining I will describe the Lincoln as a Sub-Zero refrigerator on wheels, exuding the inherent aura of privilege and reluctance to follow the rules of the road that often surrounds these gas-guzzlers. Suddenly, the Lincoln reappears, driving past me and parking in the dirt a little up the road. I immediately tense up, thinking he probably took my outstreched hands as he drove off the first time as a double-bird gesture. I skid to a stop and walk up to his passenger window, hands unconsciously curling into fists. "I just wanted to come back and apologize for cutting you off. I was late for an appointment and I was driving too fast and not paying attention, but that's no excuse for almost hitting you." I was taken aback. I tell the fellow, a middle-aged guy in gym clothes with a University of Arizona ball-cap, that it's no big deal, but that that this happens often on this road and some days I get fed up. He offers me his hand across the cabin and I shake it, noticing the bag from the expensive dry-cleaner in the passenger seat as well as the glowing navigation system in the dashboard. I say, "You know, of all the close calls I've had with cars, you're the first person who has ever turned around and come back to apologize, and I really appreciate it."

This encounter really surprised me, but at the same time it's unfortunate that things have come to this. Admitting it when we are wrong, taking responsibility for our actions, and apologizing and trying to make things right when we screw up should be the rule, not the exception. I should be shocked when someone doesn't come back after nearly killing me, but instead the opposite is true.

Rant over.

After running seven easy miles at 7:27 pace I returned home to meet Lucas for his run. He had 50 minutes scheduled, so I dragged him out to the newly christened Champions Loop, where we ran the first half of the uphill trail at an easy pace. What I like about this loop is that once all the hard uphill work is done, the second half of the run is all downhill on dirt roads and soft (new) pavement. We cruised through the second half a bit faster, and arrived home in just over the scheduled time.

I did have a glass of Gatorade and a gel while waiting for Lucas to show up, in an effort to see if I would feel more energized for the second half of the run. I've noticed I've been getting a bit tired after about 10 miles of running since I've stopped eating breakfast. I did feel great, but finishing with three miles of downhill could have just as easily made the difference. I'll give the no breakfast thing a few more weeks and then do a similar experiment on a more level run to test again, that is if I'm still feeling tired at that point. Hopefully I'll be fully recovered from the marathon by then and it won't even be necessary.

Training: 13 miles easy, with the first half at 7:27 pace

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Heaven and Hell" fartlek

This run was almost comical, though it was hard to see the humor in it at the time. 12 miles, including my 8 mile "slow down" loop which consists of plenty of hills in and around Sabino Canyon. The workout was two miles of warm-up, then one mile on and one mile off for the remaining 10. The work interval was to be fast and controlled, hopefully somewhere between tempo and marathon pace. With a Garmin beeping every mile this is a tough workout, mostly because the starting points of the first three miles were at the base of serious uphills, which made it difficult to ease into things. In most cases the second halves of these intervals were downhill, but the "ups" burned me out enough that I couldn't really take advantage of the conditions when the road tilted down. It went down like this- 6:02 (1/2 mile seriously uphill), 5:58, 5:58, 5:58, 5:55. It was funny how close these miles were in terms of pace, since I wasn't looking at the watch at the time. Mostly I was just begging for each of the harder miles to be over. The recovery miles drifted from 7:10 up to 7:30 by the end, which was telling.

The legs are sluggish right now, and that's to be expected as I start building miles. I think it's important for me to run all of my efforts on feel at this point, even though the times will probably be slow for awhile. My lungs and motivation are fine, which is more important than the legs at this point. With some luck I'll get in a second run later with either some strides or a few fast 200's, which should help loosen up things.

Training: 12 miles, 6:48 pace, with 10 miles of 1 mile on, 1 mile off. Efforts of 6:02, 5:58, 5:58, 5;58, 5:55. Seems like ages ago that I could string 20 in a row of these together, but I'll get back.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I Never Knew You Cared...

Jeez, I go to Phoenix for the day and find a dozen comments racked up after posting a preliminary schedule. They seem to fall into a few categories-
1. I am insane
2. I need to plan more rcovery, either every few weeks or between hard days
3. I probably know what I'm doing, as long as I listen to my body and heed it when it's time to back off
4. Quarters

Let me address these in order, but before I begin I'd like to point out that this schedule, like any other, is just a piece of paper and will be changed according to how my body is handling the stress. I should also note that I am easing into this workload, as evidenced today with my 14 mile run that was originally set for 16-18. It was hot (85 degrees at 4:30) and the legs were tired from 18 yesterday, so I cut things short before things started to go bad. I managed the run at 7:11 pace, and while I could have gone a little longer I'm hoping to feel good for a little quality tomorrow. Back to the comments-

1. (I'm crazy) Possibly, but if you look at my log during the middle of each conditioning phase you won't see too much of a difference between what I was doing then and what I'm planning, with the exception of a few added miles and more scheduled and regular quality.

2. (I need to recover more) Jason, Greg, Evan and even Dezzie might have a point here. Runner Chic, with all due respect, I've run all but about 3 days over the past year and made it through three marathons in that time so I'm pretty confident running every day won't harm me. As many have said, taking one day off a week equals almost two months of not running. I understand everyone is different though, and some may need a day or two off each week. I do tend to run recovery runs too fast, especially in the heat (I want to get out of it sooner so I speed up). You know what they say about hell, when you're going through it...keep going. I think 7:20 in the cool and 7:30+ in the heat is slow enough, but I'll probably experiment a bit with these paces to see what seems to leave me feeling fresh. I think if I was flying and doing more V02 max stuff like Jason or Dan, I'd be forced to take two easy days in-between sessions.

As far as a whole recovery week, Lydiard seemed in favor of just taking an easy day here and again if the need arises so that's what I've been doing. His view seemed to be that if you need to recover more, you're going too hard and need to slow your runs down a little until your condition improves. Lately though, I've been thinking more about what Brad Hudson says about mixing it up in an article that Duncan links to. Hudson cites Lydiard as a big influence, but one thing he advocates is mixing things up and constantly changing the stimulus. Big mileage weeks coupled with smaller weeks are part of this, and he may have a point. I'll put a recovery week on the "maybe" list. As far as "recovering" with an 18 mile single goes, my shortened run today may have proved 2006 Camp Pendleton Mud Run champion and course record-holder Jason correct. For awhile at least, 16 miles will be the limit on these. One thing to keep in mind is that my workouts during this period aren't supposed to be difficult, which is what makes running mileage around them possible. Tempo, marathon pace and fartlek shouldn't beat me up too badly. The fast sprints and strides should maintain leg-speed and the neuro-muscular connections but are short enough to hopefully keep me from getting beat down.

3. (I'm fine) Thanks, I needed that.

4. (Quarters) I guess since I've only done two quarters in the past year I shouldn't dismiss them out of hand. I'll wear my big basketball shorts out there one day and give it a shot, just not for awhile.

I did manage a second run yesterday, getting in 5 hot miles at 7:22 pace (too fast). Haiden was at school and Kiera had taken off with Finn, so I found myself in an empty, quiet house at 10:30, roughly four hours after finishing my 13 miles with Lucas. The thermometer only read 91, and it promised 105+ later in the afternoon/evening when I planned to run, so I quickly put the shoes back on and got 5 in before it rose to 100. I was drenched in sweat when I returned, and after showering I saw Dez's comment indicating that I was nuts. I thought about my run in the heat (a few hours after my last run in the heat), and thought for a moment that he was right.

Training: Today, 14 miles at 7:11 pace, legs a little pooped at the end, lungs fine
Yesterday's second run, 5 miles in 7:22 pace

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tapping in to it

Deep down there must be some well of fitness, waiting to be tapped. I've run literally thousands of miles since starting to train the Lydiard way almost a year ago. In short, I don't feel I need to go back to the beginning at this point and start rebuilding my fitness from scratch. Duncan has mentioned as much in the past, as have other coaches, bloggers and runners I trust. I do find myself at a bit of an impasse though, with a half marathon two months off and a marathon either in October or at the beginning of next year (I still haven't decided at this point).

The question is, what do I need in order to be primed for the half marathon and to still be able to improve en route to a fall or winter marathon? Taking a look at how I've been recovering (or not) over the past month, I'm beginning to realize that while I'm still pretty sharp from the harder and faster workouts I've done, I'm feeling pretty wiped out after the longer efforts. This used to not be the case.

My plan is to maintain some short, quick efforts (think fast but relaxed 200's as well as 100 strides), but to focus on lengthening my runs and working on more marathon pace, tempo pace, and progression runs. Here's a rough guide of what I'm thinking about-

.....Week 1....Week 2.....Week 3
MO: 12..........12.............16
TU: 12MP......16PR.........12
WE: 18..........10.............12MP
TH: 12FL......18FL..........18
FR: 10..........12............12FL
SA: 16MP.....10T...........10
SU: 22.........24.............22PR

MP=Marathon Pace (some of the run)
FL=Fartlek, like 1 mile MP one off or faster
T=Tempo, 5:35-5:40 (maybe 5:45 early)
PR=Progression down to MP or tempo
(+3 evening runs a week of 4-6 miles)

Don't hold me to the miles exactly, as this is just an outline, and I'm planning on working my way up to the efforts. Today, for instance, I didn't do the marathon pace work but I did bring the pace down to 7 minutes flat for the run after doing the first half at about 7:30 pace. Hopefully next week will be a bit faster.

The schedule is a bit of a holding pattern, and I plan to use it to figure out exactly where I am lacking. Evaluation is going to come from paying attention to how I feel during the run and after. I recently got an email from a coach who has worked with the Lydiard method, and two axioms he mentioned that Arthur stated in interviews but not specifically in his books were-

1 Workouts show what condition you are in, they don't make you into that condition.

2. How easily you recover from a workout is a better indication of your condition than the workout itself.

Many of the efforts I will be doing in the coming weeks are similar to the "time trials" done towards the end of a Lydiard cycle in the "coordination phase". This coach agreed with Nobby that I was not recovering enough from these efforts before my last marathon, gauging by the number of times I mentioned being tired and sore during this phase. He writes, "This is where the time trials can help (not in how fast you run them but in how easy they feel, and how quickly you recover). They can tell you if you need more rest, more leg speed work, or some hard over-distance work."

The legs and body were telling me, but I was too caught up in chasing times and working hard for "works" sake that I didn't listen. This cycle is about paying attention to these signs, hopefully things will go well.

Today was a step in the right direction, as while I was dragging at the beginning of the run, once we hit the 10 mile mark I started feeling very good. Lucas and I were able to drop the pace a bit, and if I wasn't expected to be home at 6:30 and if Lucas had been cleared by his coaches to go longer I probably would have opted to go a little longer to make it a 16 mile day. A big dinner and a good amount of sleep no doubt contributed to me feeling good, and I'll take it.

Training: 13 miles, 7 minute pace, 90 minutes or so

Monday, June 19, 2006

Time to Make Time

Here's a look at last week, which was week two of my recovery after the marathon-

Monday: 6 miles, 6:22 pace
Tuesday: 11 miles, 7:06 pace
Wednesday am., 6 miles, 7:13 pace
Wednesday pm., 6 miles, 6:50 pace(ish)
Thursday: 6 mile muffin run with Haiden, easy
Friday: 8 miles, 7 minute pace
Saturday: 8 miles, very hilly trails, easy pace
Sunday: 17 miles, 7:06 pace
68 miles in 8 sessions

I'm starting to feel good again, but a few factors are slowing me down a bit. The first is the heat, which is simply unavoidable in Tucson, Arizona in the summer. We're in the mid-70's before the sun even comes up, and as I type this just before 9am it's already in the upper 80's. The heat puts an added stress on the body, and the same paces feel a little tougher as blood that should be working through the muscles goes to the skin instead to cool the body. The heat also brings on dehydration a bit faster, and I find myself having a harder time after about an hour of running if I don't stop for a drink.

The second factor came to light during the long(ish) run of 17 miles I did Sunday. While dehydration was certainly a factor, I genuinely felt like I was bonking at about 14 miles, which is ridiculous. I'm still getting used to not eating before runs, so I figure I'll be doing a fair amount of this for a few weeks while the body adjusts to working off stored fuel instead of a pre-run breakfast. One of my goals this week is to stay hydrated enough so I can be sure that any "bonkish" feeling is a fuel issue and not a hydration issue. My body, the science experiment.

Looking at the schedule from last week again presents my other challenge; getting rid of the single digits. I'd like to keep every morning run at 10 miles or more, though I goofed up today by waiting too long to leave on my run. Haiden was up and begged to go, so I took her out for 4 miles (and a muffin to go), and by the time I brought her home I didn't leave enough time for another 6 before Kiera planned to go to the gym. Finn turns 1-year-old today, so we have a schedule to keep that includes a birthday portrait at 10.

I can't believe the little guy is one already, Father's Day (the day he was born) last year seems like such a short time ago. On that particular morning I snuck out early for a Phoneline Trail run, and while I was stretching in the backyard afterwards Kiera threw open the back door to announce her water had broken while I was gone. Good times.

Today's run felt good if not particularly fast, and I'm hoping this week takes me close to 100 miles again, just like the good old days.

Training: Today, 9 miles, 7:14 pace
Sunday: 17 miles, 7:06 pace

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Make the Connection

The other day I posted about searching in vain for a connector trail between the Esperero trail in Sabino Canyon and the ritzy Canyon View Estates. Today I found it by exploring in the opposite direction, and I realize I was so close the first time that it pains me. The trail is faint enough that it's easy to miss one way, but thankfully I've finally put a new route together. There is something very satisfying aout finding a new trail loop that allows a decent run without retracing any of your steps.

While I heard about this connector from someone else, his name is "Biff" and that simply won't do for naming it. Thus, I hereby declare this 5 miles-and-change loop from the parking lot of Sabino Canyon the "Champions Loop", for ChampionsEverywhere of course. With some luck I can drag some more people through this cacti-filled wilderness and work in the trail a bit more, which should make the connector a little more obvious. Rumor has it this was the original Esperero Trail route before the yuppies moved in years ago. For those in town, the connector trail goes to the left (south) after climbing some switchbacks out of Bird Canyon while heading west on the Esperero Trail, and it empties out onto a wide dirt road that eventually funnels down to a metal gate (that you can walk around). Bear left after the gate and let gravity take you down and out of the subdivision at 10K pace.

It was a good thing I figured out this loop when I did, since I had to be back in time for Kiera to go for a run with Angie. Even though I woke up at 4, I still only managed to get in 8 miles with all the trail hunting (quite a few dead ends). I'm hoping for a good two hours or so with Lucas tomorrow morning, and I'll start getting back to real training next week. Have a nice weekend.

Training: 8 miles, with five or so on the newly discovered CHAMPIONS LOOP!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Now Back to our Regular Program

Lucas and I met for 8 miles this morning, and we spent some of it discussing me possibly putting on a 5K benefit run for Haiden's pre-school. There are some nice winding roads just east of where I live that could be perfect for a looped-course, low-key race , I just have to work up the courage to follow through with it. We started at an easy 8 minute mile pace, but gradually dropped the pace until we had averaged 7 minute pace for the duration.

The legs felt pretty good considering another night of poor sleep. Finn woke up twice and needed comfort, and Haiden somehow appeared in our bed at some point after midnight, which has never happened. She announced she was hungry and was going to make breakfast for the whole family. While it's good she has her appetite back, the timing of its return left something to be desired.

Speaking of food, Evan posted a link to this article on the how's and why's of "bonking" (American-style, that is). I found it to be a good overview of how food is absorbed into the bloodstream and converted into energy, as well as what foods work best and when. Sasha described what happened to me in the latter stages of my last marathon as a classic "bonk", and while I didn't want to believe it, this article's description of the brain's reaction to liver glycogen debt (the brain apparently only burns liver glycogen) leads me to believe he might in fact be on to something.

I've said before that the brain can betray the body, tricking it into slowing down before it has to. In the article a study is noted where athletes were driven to the point of exhaustion after four hours. Their muscle glycogen concentrations and carbohydrate burn rates were the same as at three hours, which defies conventional wisdom on blood lactate elevation and glycogen depletion. "The tradition in the science is, you hit the wall when you run out of muscle glycogen," says Dan Benardot, researcher and author of "Nutrition for Serious Athletes". But he maintains that the carbs stored in the muscles and bloodstream, along with the energy coming from fat, should supply the 100 extra calories per mile that a runner needs and then some, provided he stays aerobic. "When you do the math, there should be plenty of glycogen left in those muscles," Benardot says.

This is where the brain comes in. "It's a very interesting phenomenon that we're only now coming to grips with--that mental fatigue will lead to the perception of muscular fatigue," says Benardot. He notes that the brain has a lot of processing to do during a run, monitoring blood volume and sweat rates, core temperature, blood sugar, and stress hormones. "The brain is juggling all of this information and can eventually make the decision: 'Whoa, things are not good here, I'm going to shut it down."

So, did I just think I was tired? If I went anaerobic early, as Duncan suggests, then probably not. Going anaerobic too early in a marathon pulls the picnic blanket out from under the food, splilling everything and ruining any chance of optimally utilizing stored and available (on the course) glycogen. Chances are this was my downfall. Dehydration didn't seem to be an issue, as I did hit every water stop (though I did take mostly small sips and relied more and more on powerade and less on water as the race progressed). All right, enough obsessing already.

At the end of the article, which serves as an annotated history of optimal nutrition before, during, and after racing, the only concrete conclusion is something we all know already- any amount of dehydration adversely affects running performance and glycogen uptake. Nothing new, but worth repeating nonetheless.

Training: 8 miles, 7 minute pace

A Little Better

Haiden and Finn are feeling a little bit better, as viewable below.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

So Close...

Finn almost made it through his first year without throwing up. Almost. After two nights of very poor sleep it was with great trepidation that I entered the house after last evening's run with the Running Shop gang. Silence. Both kids, now with matching 102 degree fevers, were out cold. After taking a shower and cooking a Trader Joe's pizza Kiera and I sat down for a little television when things started to go badly for Finn.

While Thomas has the market cornered on children making messes, poor Finn really did a number on his sheets, his mom, and finally the bathtub. It's hard to watch your child try to make sense of his first vomiting experience. It's much like watching an infant get his/her first immunization. First the perplexed look, followed quickly by a quivering lip and a furrowed brow. Soon the tears and shouting cries erupt, and an overwhelming sadness takes hold. His whole body screams, "why?".

After cleaning up the worst of it and finally getting Finn settled we head off to bed, only to be awakened a short time later with more crying. He ends up in our bed, which means of course no one really sleeps. Kiera's amazing parenting "spidey-sense" gets him out of the bed and into the shower before the next vomiting spell arrives. It's a rough night for everyone, as Haiden got up for awhile herself, flush with fever.

At some point in the middle of the chaos I had the sense to shut down the automatic coffee maker and turn off the alarm. There would be no early morning escape for me with the kids in their current state. Morning did arrive, and while Haiden and Finn are certainly still feverish things seem to be improving. My planned 12 miles became a 6 mile muffin run with Haiden, which allowed Kiera and Finn to sleep a bit in the quiet house.

I'm hoping for another 6 tonight, but I won't force it as Kiera may want to go to the gym during the same time. If there is any time I can afford to take it easy it's right now.

Training: Today, 6 miles with Haiden, 7:30 pace
Yesterday pm., 6 miles at about 6:50 pace with the Running Shop crew

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Fever


The kids are both running a fever, which is too bad since it means 3-year-old Haiden misses "water day" at school. Since I'm back at work Kiera will have to wrangle both kids for the pediatrician. Hopefully both Haiden and Finn will be well soon.

I talked myself out of a tempo run this morning, deciding instead to just run an easy six since I have an additional six planned this evening with the Running Shop gang. I've all but given up on San Francisco, and without that race in the back of my mind I can comfortably take it easy for one more week while simultaneously building my mileage back to 75 with hopes of getting into the triple digits by next week. With a few more easy days I suspect the little bites of tendonitis in my ankle and the residual soreness around one of my neuromas will be cured.

Right now I'm formulating a schedule that will help me get to the line for the half marathon in August in good order. Lydiard has a good race week/no race week schedule that can be used as a guide, but most seem to only use that schedule to ride out a "peak". While I don't feel the need to necessarily go back to "base conditioning", I will build my volume up before delving into the fast stuff. It will be interesting training for 13 miles instead of 26, and I look forward to more tempo runs and track work that come along with the faster pace this race permits. A PR will be tough since my best was run down the side of a cliff at the Tucson half marathon (seriously it dropped 1000 feet), but I think 1:14 or better is certainly in the cards.

So far the whole "no breakfast" thing has been working well. I still have a cup of coffee, which I simply cannot do without. I've read in a few places that a little caffeine actually helps with this sort of thing, but I have no proof. The only time I've felt a little depleted was at the end of my run on the Phoneline trail last week, but since I was fatigued going into it I can't really tell if food (or absence of it) made a difference. The real test will come this weekend when I get out for two hours. I am planning on carrying a gel for the run, and I'll probably do a double loop that will keep me closer to home. I plan on telling Kiera to just look to the sky for circling vultures if I'm not back in 150 minutes.

Training: 6 miles, 7:13 pace

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Do What You Say

I met Lucas for a run this morning, but unfortunately it came on the heels of two nights with little sleep. I've told myself several times to pay mind to my recovery in the two weeks after the race, but a severe case of insomnia Sunday night (due to the extremely rare quadruple family nap) and a late night assembling furniture have taken their toll. When I turned the light off sometime after 11 I was regretting telling Lucas I would meet him at Sabino Canyon at 5:15. Still, a deal is a deal so I set my newest early morning training tool (the programmable coffee maker) to start without me at 4:30.

The legs felt a bit dead from a combination of lack of sleep and a faster run yesterday followed by four hours in the car (and just maybe from that marathon I did way back but I'm not convinced). I limped through, as the pace dropped slowly from 7:30 down to 7:08 or so over about 9 miles. I ran the last two through a few neighborhoods by myself and was able to average 7:06 for the 11 mile run.

I have a decision to make in short order because as usual, everything hits at once. I learned that the kind folks at the San Francisco Marathon are willing to help me out with an entry to their July 30 race, which would offer me the chance at some marathon revenge in just seven short weeks. Then this morning Lucas told me that the half marathon trip for the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon is actually happening. Of course this is slated for two weeks after the marathon, and it offers a great opportunity to represent for The Running Shop along with Lucas and Jess. The three of us won the shoe store team competition back in March at the Arizona Distance Classic half marathon, and while the prize was announced at a free trip to Chicago for the race in August, none of us were very optimistic that it would actually happen.

I have to choose one or the other, and the opportunity to travel to Chicago is just too hard to pass up. While I would like a chance for another marathon, training for a half in August would be a great start to a fall campaign of racing. They way I see it, half marathon training entails a lot of threshold running, which can only help me down the road while improving on my endurance. I'll talk with Kiera today to make my final choice about the races, but it seems as I write this tht my mind is pretty much made up already.

Training: 11 miles, 7:06 pace

Monday, June 12, 2006

Daytrippers

Off to Phoenix for the day with the family, which is about two hours away. I programmed the coffee maker to start without me this morning so that I was forced to get up at 4:30 as planned. Once out the door I let the legs talk me into a "fast-aerobic" run, or at least what felt like one. I only put in 6 miles, but after easing into the first one I just paid mind to my breathing and kept a strong effort up. When I looked at the watch after finishing I'd managed 6:22 average pace, which actually seemed a little slow as I was huffing a bit. I'm chalking it up to still recovering and the fact that the loop was very hilly and included some trails. Well, off we go!

Training: 6 miles, 38:20, 6:22 pace

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Seven Days

A week has passed since the race, and the aches and pains associated with it are abating. Today I got out the door a little late again, and I spent my run trying to find a rumored connection between the super-well-to-do Canyon View Estates neighborhood and the Esperero trail in Sabino Canyon. A client at the art gallery, who is an avid cyclist has mentioned and described this link, but after running past million dollar homes on asphalt, which later turned to dirt roads and 1/2 million dollar lots higher up in the Catalinas I just couldn't find it. It was a balmy 85 in the sunshine, and wandering around in the desert was fun, but by the end of it the 8 miles felt more like 10 with the conditions.

I'm planning a second "no plan" week, where I pretty much just run according to feel and ambition. For the past week the same formula turned out like this:

Monday: 4, painfully slow
Tuesday: 6 easy
Wednesday: 6 moderate with the Running Shop gang
Thursday: 8 easy with Lucas
Friday: 10 easy/moderate, Phoneline trail at Sabino Canyon
Saturday: 6 easy
Sunday: 8 easy
Total: 48 miles in 7 sessions

I'm still thinking about what to do next, be it a marathon at the end of July, cultivating my speed for a few track meets, or unpugging for a little while and rebuilding again. In the meantime I'm enjoying just getting out the door, though I need to start getting up earlier to do so.

Training: 8 miles easy
Miles for the week: 48 in seven sessions

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hooked


Gorilla in the mist
More fun shots here.

I had every intention of taking a day off when I went to bed last night. I was up late watching TIVO'd track meets while waiting for Kiera to come home from a scrapbooking "sewing circle" thingie, and I made a point of not setting my alarm. When morning came I was still firm in my resolve to not run, and thus took care of the kids while the wife went to the gym. By the time she came home, I was still left with an hour and a half before I needed to leave for work. At this point the itch to get out on the dirt and pavement was too strong.

I was jonesing for a run. It was already 80 degrees by now, and the sun was getting high in the sky, but I honestly couldn't help myself. This wasn't about maintaining fitness, it wasn't about starting a fresh build for another race or keeping the legs "sharp". This was just a kid with his nose blackened from pressing against the screen door, waiting for everyone to finish dinner so he can go out and play.

Six easy miles through the neighborhoods and Sabino Canyon followed, and I enjoyed every minute of it even as the sun glowed overhead and the sweat bubbled from my skin. I'm at 40 miles for the week with one day to go, and while I'm certainly not fully recovered, the mind is getting healthy again after a very trying week. Enjoy the weekend, I plan to.

Training: 6 miles at 7:06 pace (felt like 7:30's)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mushrooms and Rattlesnakes



Nice elevation chart for a recovery run, no?

I met up with Lucas and Jason the Dragon for a run up the Phoneline Trail, which is fast becoming my steady Friday haunt. Here are a few photographs to show you why. Even at 6am it's getting pretty hot here (think low to mid 70's), but thankfully the trail offers quite a bit of shade. Jason clearly felt better than Lucas or I did, so he took the lead. About three miles in he abruptly stops and jumps about two feet in the air while simultaneously eliciting a yelp. He apparently came within a foot of stepping on the rattle of a large, green rattlesnake, which are commonly found on the desert trails this time of year (which explains why hikers are uncommon this time of year). The trail is quite narrow, too narrow in fact for us to get by this big guy, so we bushwack above the trail to make our way past.

The rest of the run was uneventful, with the exception of Jason putting the clamp down a little over the last mile, which my quadriceps didn't appreciate. After the run I invited the boys over to the house, where Kiera had baked some of her world famous scones; chocolate and cherries for the veggie crowd and bacon and cheese for the meat-eaters. Haiden and Finn did their best to entertain all of us, and I really found myself enjoying the morning. It's rare for me to just go out and run without a schedule to keep, and starting work at 10am for the summer gives me a fair amount of time to relax after running.

I had a discussion about fuel consumption and fuel economy for the marathon with Lucas during our warm-up. I've explained my pre-run eating ritual before, which usually amounts to between 500 and 600 calories right before running. Evan, one of my many guardian-angels on this blog has often touted the benefits of not eating before the run, and I posted this article from Marathonguide and this article by Greg McMillan that support running after an overnight fast. Since the marathon I've been doing this. Here's where the mushrooms come in.

I worked at Carl's Jr for a short time when I turned 16, and one of the worst jobs there was stocking the salad bar. Everyone I know, myself included, has gotten sick eating from one of these, and the reason is obvious. When you're working for $3.15 and hour and you're told to re-fill the mushroom crock, you are supposed to temporarily displace the "old" mushrooms from the crock, put enough fresh ones at the bottom of said empty crock, then pour the old mushrooms on top. This means of course that the old mushrooms get eaten first.

Again, you are working for $3.15 an hour, so you just dump the fresh mushrooms on top of the old ones and head out the back door for a smoke break. The old mushrooms idly sit under the fresh ones and slowly expire.

When I eat in the morning I'm pouring readily available glucose into my liver and bloodstream (I'm talking about the simple sugars in the juice, jam, peanut butter and to some extent english muffin). The body burns the fresh stuff rather freely (as it seems readily available), and doesn't learn to efficiently burn the stored carbohydrate...the old mushrooms buried underneath.

If I don't learn to eat those old mushrooms now I never will. By going into my runs with just stored fuel, I'm hoping the body will learn to use available stored glycogen and carbohydrate more sparingly, which in theory should make the last 40 minutes of the marathon a less-unpleasant experience. Another side-effect I hope this brings about is the ability for me to more readily absorb carbohydrates (in gel or liquid form) when I actually do take them, which will be during "race-simulation" long runs and races.

Lucas didn't buy the analogy and thinks there are different forces at work that kept me from my goal, and if I took a sampling of the comments from recent days the fingers would collectively point to a too short and too intense taper. I'm also not advocating not eating to all runners, as I'm not sure how it will ultimately work for me. I'm hoping some smaller steps like these will help in the end, and as usual, time will tell. I should also mention that I'm not blaming Thomas's english muffins for a bad marathon here (I actually eat the Trader Joe's whole wheat ones), but every little bit can help.

Training: 10 miles, 1:22:45, including Phoneline trail in 1:12

Thursday, June 08, 2006

4:40am

A bluish glow to the east as the sun starts to make its way over the Santa Rita mountains. No doubt it will top 100 degrees here in Tucson today, but getting out for an hour at 5 with Lucas will be a pleasure. The legs are softening up again, and just running through the neighborhoods up here by Sabino Canyon with no particular workout to pay mind to reminds me that this simple sport produces simple joy, and that's enough.

I think with one more phone call I will be done telling the last marathon story. While there are plenty of lessons to be learned, it's also a time to start looking ahead to better running and better fitness. It's been 11 months training the Lydiard way, and there's no doubt I've changed as a runner, even if my last race didn't go exactly as expected. It's one race. Three years is the plan, and hopefully more after that. I look at my daughter and all the changes she's gone through in that time (she'll be 4 in September), and that puts it in perspective. Even as I turn 35 next month, I know there's still much growing ahead.

I ran 6 miles around 7 minute pace last evening in what became the good-bye run for my marathon shoes. I've blown them out in record time.

Training: looks like about 8 today
Yesterday, 6 miles

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

All for Naught...Not

I'm trying hard not to let my marathon performance this past weekend bother me, but it's been difficult. Lots of nice comments and suggestions have shown up over the past few days, and for that I'm genuinely appreciative, but a grey cloud still looms. It's natural, I know, to feel a let-down after preparing for anything for several months, and it will pass.

I had similar feelings after bombing this race last year, and for awhile Sunday afternoon and yesterday I honestly started to wonder if the training has been worth it. Numbers help here. I did four other races while training for this marathon, and as luck would have it I did the same four last year, before training the Lydiard way.

January, Sun Run 10K, 36:17 in 2005, 34:11 in 2006
March, Desert Classic 1/2 marathon, 1:16:55 in 2005, 1:15:58 in 2006
May, Cinco de Mayo 10K, 36:09 in 2005, 34:38 in 2006
May, Tucson 5000 5K, 16:58 in 2005, 16:07 in 2006

It's working, but there is obviously much more to learn. One year down, two to go. Has anyone out there besides Dunan run the San Fransisco marathon?

Training: Today, 6 miles, 7:22 pace, sore legs
Yesterday (yes, I did run), 4 extremely difficult slow miles. Felt like 22-26 from the day prior

Monday, June 05, 2006

Grunt, Grunt

"It ain't no shame to fall; but to lay there and grunt is." -email from Nobby Hashizume

Everything about the San Diego marathon experience was great, with the exception of how I raced. Coming from Tucson, where public transit is sparse and spotty at best, I really enjoyed how easy it is to get around there without a car. I traveled with Jeff, a friend of mine who also raced, and we were able to either walk, take the bus or trolley wherever we needed to go. In addition, the race (while gigantic) was very well organized, and the crowd support was actually heart-warming. Some of the people I ran by, who were possibly just on the street by happenstance, still cheered on the runners as they paraded by. It really was something and certainly helped even as the the curtain prematurely started to fall on my PR attempt. The aid stations were stocked, and the volunteers at those tables were very good at what they did. Much as I enjoy smaller, home-grown races, this marathon is top-notch. I also got to meet Eric and his wonderful family, which was a real treat. Their 2-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son were adorable, and helped both Jeff and me miss our kid(s) a little less.

Back to the race and the gory details. As I mentioned yesterday, the first four miles went by in 22:56, which put me about a minute ahead of schedule. The fact that I could still see the clock on the lead vehicle, coupled with my close proximity to the leaders for some reason didn't seem odd at the time. I finally came to my senses a bit after that, and as I eased back the lead women came around me and trailed me off in short order. Yes, for some reason I felt it necessary to go out ahead of the lead women, who would later finish the race in 2:28.

After putting the brakes on and running a 5:58 for mile 5 I started the very gradual uphill that would last until the end of mile 10. I ran a sensible 6:02, 6:04, 6:01, 5:57 for the next four, then came to a very steep uphill mile 10, where I finally came into contact with another runner with a similar goal. From memory I told him we would probably lose 20-30 seconds this mile, then get it back the next mile where we would lose the same amount of elevation. 6:23 and 5:32 followed, so I actually got something right here. Mile 12 was a bit uphill as we finally got off the interstate and rounded a long turn that led us back into the city. A 6:13 was a little worrisome here, as I was breathing a bit now, but a 5:55 for 13 made me feel like I was still in the pocket, if only barely. The half ticked by on my watch in just under 1:18, which I thought was a good sign. Perhaps running sensibly after going nuts at the beginning would save me.

Mile 14 passed in 6:04 as I trailed off my temporary running companion, and I ran 15 in 6:06. Things were starting to feel difficult at this point. The neuromas were complaining a little (though they would eventually go numb), and my adductors were starting to feel the strain of picking my feet up. A 6:16 at mile 16 was the heart breaker, as I was working hard now and really feeling the effort. Dancing along at 5:40 at the start felt like ages ago, and I started to doubt I could hold it together for another hour. The dark clouds of doubt started rolling in at this point, and I really had to fight to stay positive. Mile 17 was a fight at 6:10, and my concentration and will slipped a little with a 6:22 for mile 18 and a 6:28 for 19. At this point the clock told the tale, I was going to be slower than 6 minute pace at 20 miles. The course is cruel here, as a large freeway overpass has to be conquered before the clock at mile 20 will reveal itself. My 20 mile split is wrong in the results, I hit the mile in 6:34, which put me a little over 2 hours and 1 minute to this point.

17 weeks of training, and here I was a full minute slower at 20 miles than I was back in January. 6:38, 6:50, 7:04. It was gettting ugly, the calves are violin-string tight, the adductors are incredibly sore and the quadriceps say "no more" with each step. 6:57 and 6:55 at 24 and 25, and a last gasp 6:49 for 26. The announcers interrupt the Reebok commercial being piped through the P.A. speakers to announce me, and while I don't feel victorious I put one fist in the air to thank the crowd for the applause. 2:43:50 gun time, 35th place. Kiera pointed out I'll be 35 in a month. Makes a guy think.

The staging area past the finish line is an eternal walk, and my adductors are so shot that I have to duck-walk, weaving back and forth a bit. The medical tent refuses to let me pass, so I spend some time convincing them that I haven't drowned my brain and nervous system with too much water. "The pain is all from the waist down. I'm fine."

I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to do well. This isn't a job, it's what I do for fun in my spare time (Does 4am to 6am count as spare time?). I enjoy putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but this time when I was finished the image looked nothing like the picture on the box. I did go out fast, I can't change that but I can learn from it. Right now I'm really not sure what went wrong beyond that, as my training, while far from perfect, certainly predicted a better race.

There are a few choices now. I did have a short anaerobic build-up, and I very well may be able to run a better marathon in 6-8 weeks time, as Scooter suggested in the comments yesterday. I might also be able to further cultivate my speed in the shorter distances for the next month or two as well, then eventually start re-building for either a fall or spring marathon. As far as dissecting this race, there will be more but I need a little time.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Let Down

2:43:5X.

I'm reconnecting at home so this will be short. I'm not thrilled to write about the race, but since I've bored you with plenty of good ones over the past year I guess I owe you a bad one. That's Haiden's drawing of me running in the background.

My goal was a PR, and I honestly felt I was in shape to do it with a 2:36-2:38. I planned to run a fairly conservative race, holding back early in hopes being able to finish strong. With a goal per-mile pace of around 5:58, running the first four (slightly downhill) miles in 5:40, 5:46, 5:52 and 5:37 was idiotic. I paid dearly for the too-fast start, and I felt terrible for the last 8 miles...again.

What really stings is that since I executed the race in such a poor manner (and contrary to my plan), I can't honestly tell whether it was solely poor race execution or if I didn't train myself correctly. I spoiled a golden opportunity to prove that the training I'm doing is really working. Being able to repeat a previous successful result at a prescribed date is a hallmark of successful Lydiard-style training. I fear I didn't even give myself the opportunity to prove what I've been doing is working by sabotaging my race in the opening miles.

More tomorrow. Thank you for reading.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Don't Look Back


I'd like to thank all the well-wishers out there for the encouraging comments over the past few days. I'm headed out to San Diego tomorrow morning, so the next time you'll hear from me I will have finished the race (and probably flown back to Tucson).

I ran 5 easy miles today, and I'll either run 4 tomorrow or just skip running entirely (I'm leaning towards the former). Today, like last time before the marathon, I'm turning my nervous energy towards examining what I've done over the past 17 weeks to get ready for the race. I came up with an abbreviated Lydiard-based schedule that would hopefully capitalize on the fitness I gained from the first six months I dedicated to similar training. In short, my schedule included seven weeks of conditioning to build endurance and re-acclimate to higher mileage, four weeks of hill exercises to build strength, four weeks of anaerobic and coordination training to work on speed and pace judgement, and two weeks of tapering to let the work soak in. I averaged 94 miles per week for the first and second phases, and about 80 miles per week for the third phase.

Lydiard training leans heavily on longer runs, this is what I put together this time around-
28 mile runs: 1
24, 2
22, 5
21, 1
20, 2
19, 1
18, 3
17, 1
16, 14
15, 4

I was able to turn three of these longer runs into marathon pace runs, which will hopefully help. I managed 10 hill workouts in the second phase, plus several helpings of tempo runs, intervals from 600 to 1600, and fast 5K time trials during the anaerobic/coordination phase. A decent 10K of 34:38 and a 5K PR of 16:07 also showed up around this same time.

So that's an abbreviated version of my training over the past 17 weeks, the gory details can always be found in my log. All that's left is leaving and doing what needs to be done. I've had some good suggestions on race strategy, which I appreciate. So far I've run six marathons, and I can honestly say I've never wished afterwards that I'd gone out faster. I've had a tendency to really hurt over the last 6 to 8 miles, and starting too fast has certainly exacerbated the pain on a few of these occasions. Aside from improving on my time from January, I'd really like to execute this race well. This means not feeling like absolute grim death for the last 45 to 60 minutes. During the early miles, when it's easy to get carried away, I'll be thinking of the last six miles. I'd like to run these final six a maximum of one minute slower than the first six. Ronin and others have made similar suggestions. Going out fast and trying to hold on, while working for some, hasn't worked for me in the past. I've been through the slow-motion-death-march-grind after doing this, and I'm not anxious to repeat it.

Before I take off I'd also like to offer a special thanks to Nobby and the Lydiard Foundation and Tucson's Running Shop, who have offered me so much support on my quest to get these old bones across the line a little faster each time, as well as my family for putting up with what often seems like a ridiculous quest to be the best runner I can be. So long for now.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Goal

Back in July of 2005, after bombing the San Diego Rock and Roll marathon with a 2:50, I made a decision to break 2:40 for the distance. This was based mostly on an aided half marathon best of 1:15:25 and an unaided half marathon training run of just under 1:17, coupled with the idea that training according to Arthur Lydiard's teachings would get me there if I did the work. For much of the six months I trained, I was doubtful I could achieve what I had set out to do. Gradually, my mind came around to believing, and later the legs began to follow suit.

The key for me establishing race pace became the three longer time trials I ran leading up to the marathon. Seven weeks out I ran 16 miles with 11 at 6:02 pace, followed by an aided half-marathon six weeks out in 1:12:49, or 5:34 pace. Five weeks out I ran 16 miles with 15 at 6:02 pace, and four weeks out I ran 22 miles with 18 at 6:01 pace. I averaged 87 miles per week for these four weeks of training.

Looking back at this schedule now I notice two things:
1. I should have been able to run at least 6:02 pace for the marathon (I ran 6 flat up to mile 20 then faded to 6:06 pace overall).
2. No wonder I was pooped at the end, those 4 killer weeks still left me with 4 weeks until the race itself.

This time around I changed things up a bit, partially because of a shorter time frame, but also in an effort to get to race day feeling fresher. I didn't do a half marathon 6 weeks out, and I moved my time trials closer to the race itself while shortening the duration of my "anaerobic" and "coordination" phases. A little less than three weeks out I ran 22 miles with 16 at 5:58 pace, four weeks out I ran 17 miles with 15 at 5:58 pace, five weeks out I ran a hilly 10K in 34:38, and six weeks out I ran 20 miles with 14 at 5:59 pace.

If I made the right decisions, I think the training paces suggest 2:35 to 2:38 for the race, or somewhere between 5:55 and 6:02 pace. The exact time will of course depend on the usual variety of factors, some controllable and some not.

There's nothing I can really do to help my chances at this point, save for eating right, sleeping well, and running short and easy. Speaking of that, I put in 6 miles this morning, fighting all the way to stay at 7:18 pace. The legs want to go faster, but they'll have to wait a few more days.

Zeke posted this article by Pete Pfitzinger, which I think is a great read, especially when combined with this post by Duncan Larkin. "If you want to reach your full potential you need to train optimally. You cannot afford to train hard for the sake of training hard—and leave your races on the roads and track while you recover from injury and overtraining on race day—or to waste your time and effort on ineffective training," Pfitzinger writes. Duncan's post is similar, as he ponders what it will take to reach his own ultimate potential. Many of us are in the same boat on this one.

Training: 6 miles, 7:18 pace