Sunday, December 31, 2006

Valleys and Peaks


I found some mac-compatible software that makes these charts possible, though like most "betas" it's pretty finicky (are you listening Blogger.com?). Above are 13.2 of the 15.5 or so miles I covered this morning with a nice group of folks to end the year with 4071 miles. The area from just before the 9 mile mark to just before the 12 mile mark is the "Gut-check Alley" I mention towards the end of many long runs. Dragons Jason and Dave showed up, as did Dan, Shane, Lucas and Greg. Three of us got in a little over two miles before the whole group ran the profile above, and by the end I was tired but pleased with how it went. Kiera loaded us up with the coffee cake I posted a photo of a few weeks back and some apricot scones. Life is good.

Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve, and best wishes for a great year.

Training: 15.5 miles, 1:45:00 or so, 6:45 pace
Miles for the week: 72 in 8 sessions

Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Territory

With a long run tomorrow of 1:30-1:45 I'm guessing I'll end the week with 70-75 miles. It's hard to believe this is the fourth fairly easy week I've taken since the marathon, but after trying to rush things the third week with a few hard runs my body put me back in my place for a fairly pedestrian 11 day stretch. Here's how this week looks so far-

Mo: 4 miles, 7:09 pace (easy Christmas slog)
Tu: 10 miles, 6:52 pace
We: 12 miles, 6:52 pace
We: 6.2 miles, around 7:20 pace (easy w/ Running Shop gang)
Th: 6 miles, 6:49 pace (chilled to the bone, quit early)
Fr: 11 miles, 6:43 pace w/1 mile at 6:05
Sa: 8 miles, 6:55 pace

The paces are drifting down, though I'd prefer to see them back in the 6:40-6:50 range by now. Other than taking an easy day on Christmas and ending the run on Thursday early due to wussiness it's been my best week since the marathon, but that's not saying much. The lungs are feeling good again, but quite frankly the hip flexors and lower abs are a bit more creaky than I would like. I still don't have the forceful knee drive in my stride, and even when I'm moving along I'm aware my form isn't quite as effortless as it seemed in the weeks leading up to the race.

In addition to showing his intelligence in recent posts here, Mystery Coach has been smart enough to not assign any workouts since the race, as he knows full well that I'd probably do myself in by digging a little too deep, too early. I'm hoping this will change next week, and seeing how the body cooperates after tomorrow's long run will probably decide when the green flag drops.

Trying to continue a racing season after a marathon is new territory for me, and the emotions are a bit mixed right now. In the past it's been almost fun getting a little out of shape and diving back into base conditioning. I remember laughing with Lucas about this back in February while dragging myself through the first few long runs after the marathon. Being at the bottom and struggling along slowly for a few weeks makes one appreciate being at peak fitness, and knowing in the back of my mind that those faster days are only a few months ahead made it worth the humbling aspects of starting over.

This recovery is quite different, and I've been struggling with the feeling that with each passing day of fairly modest running (or not running) that I'm getting further and further away from the fitness I'll need to race well in the spring. Of course conventional training wisdom disputes this, but it still feels like I'm marking time and wasting away. Hopefully by the end of next week I'll feel like I'm moving back towards being race-ready.

Training: 8 miles, 55:20, 6:55 pace

Friday, December 29, 2006

Always Take the Weather with You


Kiera snapped this pic of a snow-capped Sabino Canyon on our way to dinner at my brother's house last evening. This is a rare sight in Tucson.

After yesterday's frozen debacle of a run I was ready this morning with nearly-dry shoes, long sleeves, gloves and a hat. As you might expect, the weather was back to low 40's with only a slight drizzle and no wind (or snow). After three miles I dropped off the hat and gloves, and by five miles I was wishing for short sleeves. I ran by feel this morning, much the same as I have all week, trying to focus on how well I've recovered since the race. At 9 miles in I tried one mile at 6 minute pace just to test the waters, and the resulting 6:05 had me puffing a little for the last 400 or so. I'm getting there though. Work calls, so that's it for now.

Training: 11 miles, 1:13:56, 6:43 pace, w/1 mile at 6:05 pace 9 miles in

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Run Like an Idiot

I sat at my desk in the kitchen this morning typing out emails while I waited for a break in the winter storm outside. At about 7:30 I couldn't really hear the drops falling, so I quickly put on a pair of shorts and a short sleeve shirt and ventured out.

Living in Tucson means not having to own any rain gear, and never having to run in a jacket. The previous sentence is no longer valid after today's run. As I closed the garage door behind me and ventured into the street I noticed why I couldn't hear the rain- it was now sleeting outside, which doesn't make as much noise when it's being blown by an arctic wind. I thought about retrieving my gloves, hat, and a long-sleeved shirt, but since all said items would be drenched in minutes I figured I'd probably be more comfortable in what I was wearing.

About a mile from the house I couldn't feel my toes from stomping through freezing-cold run-off, and as I turned into the wind I noticed my hands were turning pink. I finally turned back out of the wind and headed down to do laps of my one mile course in an effort to keep from running into the wind for prolonged periods. A sane man would have just called it a day here, as this decision brought me within a quarter mile of the house. One loop became two, and for a minute or two I thought I was starting to warm up a bit. Those thoughts were drenched along with the rest of me as I turned west and back into the bitter wind. One more lap, how bad can it get? When I finished 6 miles I stopped for a moment, torn between heading back to the house and gutting it out for another mile. When I started shaking I made my first good decision of the day and jogged it in.

Note to married guys who abandon their wife (who has pink eye) and two children (4 infected ears between them, including one ruptured eardrum) to run in icy rain: Do not enter the house soaking wet and shivering with hunched shoulders and a sad, puppy-dog look, expecting sympathy. "You ran twice yesterday," Kiera had said earlier as I was looking with dread out the window pre-run. "Why not skip today?" As I stood in the shower emptying the hot water heater while waiting for my bright pink hands to return to their normal color I realized for the millionth time that my better half had been right.
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Those of you who use Bloglines to track the goings-on here might need to unsubscribe and then re-subscribe to this blog, as it appears my switch to the "new" (read pain in the ass) Blogger has resulted in the termination of the more popular feed. When re-subcribing, choose the feed with this address-
http://championseverywhere.blogspot.com/atom.xml
The following feeds, which are both offered in Bloglines do not work-
http://championseverywhere.blogspot.com/atom.xml?bsuser=championseverywhere
http://championseverywhere.blogspot.com/rss.xml

If anyone knows how I can get the two faulty feeds off the Bloglines feed option page for this blog please let me know. Thanks

Training: Today, 6 miles, 40:55, 6:49 pace. Brrrrrrrrr
Yesterday pm., 6.2 miles, 44::15, easy with the Running Shop gang

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Planning a Stamina Build up with the Lydiard Method

Special thanks to everyone for all the responses to the last post by Mystery Coach (we'll have to have a contest to come up with a more "creative" name for him in hopes that he will reveal himself). Please keep the comments and discussion going, as I think it only adds to the general understanding of Arthur Lydiard's methodology.

The coach has kindly typed up the third in his series of posts on how to implement Arthur's training, and I think those of you who have questions on the correct training intensities/paces with regard to building stamina will find this very informative. My thanks to the coach for this post, now on with the show.
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Planning a stamina build up:

There is one part of Arthur's teaching that most runners skip over in their rush to get to his 100 mile a week schedules. I going to quote it exactly here:

"Determining Your Capability

First you have to find your own basic capability. The best way to do this is run an out-and-back course for, say, 30 minutes. Run out for 15 minutes at a steady pace; then turn and run back again, trying to maintain that pace without forcing yourself. If it takes you 20 minutes to get back, it shows you've run the outward leg too fast for your condition If you're back inside 15 minutes without apparently increasing your effort, you haven't run fast enough to begin with. Next time, you should adjust your pace according to your insights about your condition and capability, so that you return in the same time as the outward journey. It's good discipline , and that's something you have acquire early because you're going to need a lot of it later." - Running The Lydiard Way

If you want to get the best out of your training you must take this first step. By not determining your capability most runners spend years "hypertraining" (an excellent Jack Daniels, PhD. term that describes overtraining) in hopes of pulling up their condition. If your log says "sore", "stiff", "need a day off" you're training over your capability.

Since most who read this blog are marathoners doing a good volume of running the next example is geared toward this level of running (beginners and those with less mileage could use 2 or 3 miles as a test). To find your base level; for the next 21-28 days run 7 miles a day over the same course as fast as you can, making sure that you can recover from the effort ( generally it will be about one minute per mile slower than your 5K pace or about 10-15 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace ).  This test works the most easily recruited fibers (1-5) and test their output efficiency and recovery ability. If you find yourself having to slow down or needing a day off you're going too hard (even a little bit too fast will show up 10-14 days into the test). You are zoning in on Arthur's "pleasantly tired". Heart rate monitors users will want note the relationship between this level of effort and their heart rates along the run.

It is from this point that you should start your build up, this is your base level. If you have done it correctly with good discipline and control you now know a workout load that you can recover from day to day. Now you could stay at this level for a long time just gradually speeding up the pace and the 1-5 fibers will get very efficient but we need to get to those fibers on the next levels and work them to give them better efficiency and recovery ability.

Let's say you find that you can run 7 miles every day at 6:20 pace. What would be an equivalent workout for 10 miles, 14 miles, 20 miles?  Here is a general rule that you can use: If you run 3% slower ( 6:20 + 380*.03 (11.4) = 6:31.4 pace ) you can run 1.5 times further ( 10.5 miles); 5% (19 seconds ( 6:39)) slower 2 times further (14 miles); and 8% slower ( 30.4 seconds ( 6:50.4 ) 3 times further (21 miles).

Just because they are equivalent does not mean that you have conditioned yourself to do them yet. As you go longer and longer you will fatigue the easier recruited fibers and require the next groups to come on line but you want to do it gradually so that the important long lasting changes can be absorbed by each fiber set. You could jump ahead and try to run that 21 miler at 6:50 pace right away but you would end up over whelming fibers 6-12 and set yourself back.

Next, where do you want to be at the end of your conditioning? Use the equivalents above and set your goals:

M 11 miles @ 6:50 pace (recovery day ( a full load would be 21 at this pace))
T 7 miles (with 2-3 mile evaluation run( easy before and after the faster run))
W 14 miles @ 6:39 pace
T 7 miles @ 6:30 pace (recovery day (a full load would be 10 at this pace))
F 13 miles @ 6:39 pace
S 7 miles @ 6:20 pace
S 20 miles @ 6:50 pace

You are going to start easier than your full load which you have discovered to be the seven miles @ 6:20 pace so working backwards from your goals the start point looks like this:

M 7 miles @ 6:50 pace
T 7 miles (with 2-3 mile evaluation run( easy before and after the faster run)
W 7 miles @ 6:39 pace
T 7 miles @ 6:30 pace
F 7 miles @ 6:39 pace
S 7 miles @ 6:20 pace
S 7 miles @ 6:50 pace

Now from this point by adding a mile every week to your long run and a mile every 2-3 weeks to the other buildup days you will get to the goal week after 14 weeks (see chart below).
  

Week #
1: 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7
2: 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 8
3: 7, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 9
4: 8, 7, 9, 7, 8, 7, 10
5: 8, 7, 9, 7, 9, 7, 11
6: 8, 7, 10, 7, 9, 7, 12
7: 9, 7, 10, 7, 10, 7, 13
8: 9, 7, 11, 7, 11, 7, 14
9: 9, 7, 11, 7, 11, 7, 15
10: 10, 7, 12, 7, 11, 7, 16
11: 10, 7, 12, 7, 12, 7, 17
12: 10, 7, 13, 7, 12, 7, 18
13: 11, 7, 13, 7, 13, 7, 19
14: 11, 7, 14, 7, 13, 7, 20

I know it seems like slow progress but it will bring the load gradually to the higher level fibers. One thing to remember a build up should not be 13 weeks of surviving every week. Too many runners read what some athlete did during a build up ( which usually comes from the final or best week) and use that for a model to be followed for all 13 weeks.

A couple of things to note: The faster Saturday run loads the 1-6 fibers which in turn makes the 7-12 fibers recruted earlier during the next day longer run. You can add easier running at any time (maybe 2-3 miles easy before the 7 milers and another couple after) but running the main part of the workout is the priority)

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Training: 12 miles, 1:22:22, 6:52 pace

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Model for the Lydiard Method

We had a great Christmas yesterday, and we're still celebrating as our family travels two hours north to Mesa, Arizona to get all eight of my parents' grandkids together for a battle royale in the backyard. As promised, here is the second in what looks to be a series of posts by the world famous Mystery Coach on implementing the Lydiard method. I learned a lot from this and I encourage anyone interested in Lydiard's methods to contribute with their own comments and questions. I'd like to thank the coach for sharing this with all interested runners.


A model for the Lydiard method:

The model that is going to be presented here is just that; a model that will help you with your training and understanding of Arthur Lydiard's training methods. It is not a new theory, you'll see by some of the quotes that many of the great coaches think in this model's framework even though their methods differ from Arthur's. Arthur has often been accused of talking in ambiguous and confusing statements. This model will help explain those ambiguities and help you, as Arthur said, "balance" your training.


First a quick look at the model then a quote by the marathon coach Renato Canova with some discussion.

Below is the model which represents one dozen muscle fibers in your leg, they are stacked in five levels. The five levels represent the effort required to recruit the fibers to do work (run), "A level" being the easiest to recruit and "E level" the most difficult. The individual fibers have different endurance levels which vary depending on how well your training program is designed. After the model are some assigned values which represent an average runner.


The model:

E..........12
D.........11
C.......9...10
B......6...7...8
A...1..2..3..4..5


Fibers 10 - 12 Low endurance worth 2 miles
Fibers 7 - 9 Medium endurance worth 4 miles
Fibers 1 - 6 High endurance worth 10 miles

Note that even though two fibers have the same endurance (example: fiber #1 and #6), it will require much greater effort to use the fiber on the next level up (#6 on level B) .

Here is a Renato Canova's comment on a similar model:

"Our engine doesn't work like the engine of a car. If I have an engine of a car going for 5,000 revolutions, and 200 kilometers of speed, and I want to go at 100 kilometers of speed, revolution can be 2,000, but the way of working is the same. In our engine, the situation is different. Could be that I have a muscle of 100 fibers. If I go for maximum speed, I use all 100 fibers. If I go five kilometers, I use 20% of these fibers, always the same 20%. If I go a little bit faster, maybe 50, maybe 60, but when I never go for max intensity, I have a big percentage of fibers, maybe 40 percent, that are not activated."

What does this tell us? First that one way to recruit all the fibers (up to number 12) requires maximum intensity (like uphill sprinting) and second that if you run the same distance (let's say 7 miles) every day the same fibers will be used (most likely numbers 1-6). Those fibers will develop very very well but fibers 7-12 just go along for the ride and don't develop at all. One key to Arthur's program is expressed by paraphrasing Tim Noakes, MD ("Lore of Running" pg 12). "Optimal training should be at all running intensities so that all muscle fiber types are equally trained." It sounds like speed work is needed, right? Well not exactly. The other key to Arthur's training: duration ( or volume ), Peter Snell, PhD gives us a clue on this: "The adaptation of any given muscle to endurance activity is likely to be proportional to how much that muscle is used. To ensure that as many fibers as possible within a muscle are used, there must be an adequate combination of intensity and duration." So how does this relate to training? Next we'll look at different workouts and see how they relate to this.

A slow long run: (Less than 85% Marathon Race pace)

The pace requires 3 fibers to be active (fibers 1, 2, and 3) , now after about 10 miles they begin to fatigue so 3 more are activated (fibers 4, 5, and 6). They also can last for 10 miles (like the average runner in the model). Then 3 more are called up (fibers 7, 8 and 9), they haven't been used much because they are hard to recruit so they last 4 miles, then 3 more are called up (10,11 and 12) and they are low endurance and last only 2 miles, then you have to stop. So what happened, we just ran 26 miles to work all the fibers .

An optimum higher speed long run (between 90% - 97% marathon race pace)

Now the pace requires 4 (Fibers 1,2,3,4) to work at the same time, after 10 miles the next 4 fibers (5,6,7,8) are called in. Now remember two of these are medium endurance (7 and 8) and they last only 4 miles so at 14 miles 2 more fibers (9,10) are called in and Fiber 10 (low endurance) only last 2 miles so Fiber 11 (low endurance) comes into play at 16. At 18 miles fiber 9 and 11 quit so fiber 12 (low endurance) is called in but since only 5 and 6 are still active the pace slows). What happened here is in less than 20 miles all the fibers had to work. Note that they only worked aerobically and not anaerobically like a speed workout would have them work.

Tempo Run / Threshold Run ( Jack Daniels PhD - "about the pace for a one hour race" )

Let's say threshold pace requires 9 fibers but now they are not as efficient because not all the oxygen they need (as evidenced by the rise in lactate) is being delivered. Still we have plenty of endurance for this type of workout. After 3-4 miles Fibers 7, 8, and 9 fatigue and 10, 11, and 12 jump in for the last part. You can see why this is a stimulating workout ( high oxygen usage for a large number of fibers). You feel invigorated but this is where runners and physiologist go wrong. Those last recruited fibers don't really learn to use oxygen efficiently (they won't be forced to develop capillaries and stamina characteristics because of the short time that they have to work).

Now after a few years and cycles of Arthur's Marathon training. Your fibers start to look like this:

Fibers 10 - 12 Low endurance worth 6 miles
Fibers 7 - 9 Medium endurance worth 8 miles
Fibers 1 - 6 High endurance worth 12 miles


This a key ingredient of Arthur's training. While everyone else has improved fibers 1-9 with tempo runs and fast training, only the marathon runs at a good pace (1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours at 90% marathon pace) get to and really change those 10 - 12 fibers, the exact ones that are needed at the end of every race. Through the marathon training they are trained the proper way without oxygen debts (better oxygen usage, better capillary supply, better efficiency). Everyone else slows down but your 10-12 fibers are better conditioned and you maintain your pace.

The next post will discuss how to setup a base program using this model and why combination workouts (back to backs) and faster pace long runs give better results than just hard/easy, and easy running methods. Feel free to ask how specific workouts fit into this model and I'll try to give some explanations.
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Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:08:42, 6:52 pace
Monday, 4 miles, 28:36, 7:09 pace
Sunday, 13 miles, 1:29:42, 6:52 pace. Good run with good company
Total miles for the week: 65

Merry Christmas


Kiera surprised me with a subscription to Marathon and Beyond, complete with a customized, framed cover. Note to Running Times and Runner's World: You can't beat these cover models.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holiday Break


Haiden and Finn trimming the tree

I'll be taking a holiday from the blog over the next few days to maximize my time with the family for Christmas. Lots of Kiera's family is in town this year, and we'll be pretty busy through Monday with the usual holiday hub-bub. I'm going to focus more on enjoying events over the long weekend rather than writing about them.

I did make it out for 6 easy miles in the early morning fog. I ambled along without any mind to pace, focusing instead on how the legs and lungs were feeling. Tomorrow is a longer run with a few folks from the Running Shop, and in order to survive 90-105 minutes of running with them I figured it would be wise to just take it easy today.

I'm imagining that by the middle of next week my body will have finally put itself back together, which will leave me four weeks to prepare for the 10K I have planned and five weeks until the tentatively planned Desert Classic marathon in Phoenix. I've been thinking of approaching this marathon as a long training run with a focus on a fast finish. However, this will all depend on whether or not I'm even in the shape to run the entire distance by then. The race a week before clouds the issue even more, though I am confident I'll be in good enough shape by then to finally get my certified 10K time to a lower mark.

I hope all of you out there in blog-land have a great holiday season, and I'll be back with a great post by Mystery Coach on Tuesday.

Training: 6 miles, 42:06, 7:01 pace

Friday, December 22, 2006

Teaser

Just a light 4 miles to test the legs and the spirit. Both appear to be in fairly good order, though I'm really looking forward to three days off from work after one more day tomorrow. Work has been extremely busy, and I've also been preoccupied with all the usual family events surrounding the holiday, so I apologize for the late and short post. My thanks to everyone who has chimed in over the past few days, I appreciate the discussion and the thought that goes into all the comments. Recovery definitely seems to be an individual thing, as evidenced by the cross-section of advice given.

Mystery Coach has penned a terrific post for the blog, but I'm saving it to post on Tuesday. The readership always drops off for the weekends and holidays, so by waiting until Tuesday I hope to get the good information he presents to as many people as possible (all 8 of you). Have a good day.

Training: 4 miles, 30 minutes, 7:30 pace. Legs starting to come back (again)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Daws was Right

Running is made in our minds. We runners know we must run. This is understood. No other reasons are needed, nor when others ask, "Why?" are we ever able to answer directly or satisfactorily. When you are full of running it is a craving, and the feeling can put you in pursuit of the most improbable of quests. Is is that exquisite feeling that no matter what, nothing can stop you. It is born out of purpose and grows into dedication. -Ron Daws, "Running Your Best"

I posted this quote a little more than a year ago. At that point I was six weeks away from my first marathon using Arthur Lydiard's training. It was the week of the Tucson half marathon, which would be one of my last tests of fitness before starting to taper for what ended up being my first sub-2:40 marathon. I had a fresh neuroma flaring up and I had resorted to stopping at a grocery store to stuff a few folded up cocktail napkins behind the affected metatarsals in order to run all of the planned miles rather than cutting things short due to pain. The quick-fix worked, and I followed it up by reversing an old metatarsal pad from the opposite foot, shaving it down and gluing it to my race shoe the day before the half marathon.

I was full of running then.

Daws has another quote about taking time off, though I can't find it right now (Evan probably has it memorized). He mentions how taking a day off a week leads to 52 days off a year. That's almost two months of training lost. He also has a quote about how if he takes one day off, it just makes it easier to take more days off in the future. I have to agree with the sentiment of the second statement after today.

After yesterday's pathetic effort in the morning I was apprehensive about doing a planned evening run with the Running Shop gang, but I couldn't skip out as we had a planned celebratory dinner afterwards in recognition of the Dragons winning the team competition at the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot a month earlier. We had $50 to spend on pizza and beer, and I simply could not pass that up.

The six mile run that preceded the dinner put a little more soreness into the legs, and by the end the body felt pretty much like it did a week ago. Not good. Still, dinner was fun and tomorrow was another day.

This morning the body just wanted to rest after two days of fairly modest doubles and three bad runs in a row. Truth be told, I've been feeling guilty about skipping the run all day. While I know it's absurd of me to question my commitment to running, I find myself critiquing the currently modest level of my training while I'm simultaneously struggling to recover from it. As I'm typing this a comment by Abadabajev just came in from my post yesterday. In part it reads "I went back and tallied your days off since your formidable marathon. Congratulation by the way. You are coming along. 3 days off so far. And how do you suppose your recovery schedule is forthcoming? When you truly believe in yourself, and in the philosophy of 'Running with Lydiard', you will not require to run for weeks after a major cycle." Perfect timing Abadabajev, you just might know more than I'm willing to admit.

So why the baggage about taking a day off? Like Daws says, I might not ever be able to answer this directly or satisfactorily.

Training: 0
Yesterday pm., 6.2 miles in 44:40

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wheels Fall Off

I had a very rare running meltdown today. I think things started last evening when I went out in cold weather gear for what was supposed to be four easy miles before dinner. The legs were a bit sore and I never really settled into things, so when the four miles finally passed I was grateful to open the garage door and take off the shoes. This was a run that did absolutely no good, save for showing me I was a bit tired from running generally faster paces.

I awoke to clear skies and 29 degree temperatures this morning, which is about as cold as it gets around here (I should shut my mouth because it will probably 25 tomorrow). I bundled up with two shirts, a hat and gloves, though I couldn't bring myself to wear the tights. I headed out to Sabino Canyon for a hilly run up to the end of the road, which pretty much echoed a run I did last week. I ignored the sore legs and the memories from last evening and started the climb upwards, even running over a bit of ice on the two bridges that straddle the second mile marker in the canyon. By about halfway up my breathing was getting a bit heavy and the legs were getting grouchy at the effort. When I finally reached the top I stopped for a minute to catch my breath, and the air was still cold enough to pierce the lungs. Normally I just head straight back down, but today I appreciated the minute spent with my hands on my knees. I ditched the hat and gloves and headed back down.

By about seven miles I was really wishing I was back home again. I started thinking about the four pieces of bread I'd eaten yesterday, which was the sum total of my carbohydrate intake (plus some wheaties). Between the sore legs and the bonking feeling I was experiencing, this just wasn't my day. I was able to run it in, but this goes down in the books as a bad one.

Perhaps I just overdid things for a few days, or maybe it was just not eating enough. Regardless, once I was back in the house and eating some toast with peanut butter and honey I started feeling better. I guess if you're thrown an unexpected good day or two, an unexpected bad day can also be in the cards. With the closest race being more than a month off it's as good a time as any to drag a bit.

Training: Today, 9.25 miles, 7:19 pace
Yesterday pm., 4 miles at 7:42 pace

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Don't Get Sloppy

Since the marathon I've gotten a little slack. Bedtime has switched from 8:45 or so back to 10, and I've been waiting until the kids get up on most days to get out on the road. I've even been drinking a beer or so a night, which certainly can't help things. This kind of schedule and behavior is fine when the running is slow, easy and short, but this week I'm actually approaching what appears to be genuine training. As a result, I need to start taking care of myself again, especially as the holiday baking starts to pile up.

I headed out the door this morning for 9 miles, mostly on the Slow Down loop. The legs had a hint of soreness from the tough uphill sections of Sundays run and the added sugar coating of a fairly brisk pace during yesterday's effort. As a result the first mile found my feeling a little creaky at 7:30 pace before things started to go right. I ended up just letting the legs do their thing and not checking the pace until the end of the run.

Work is a bit busy so that's it for now.

Training: 9 miles, 1:00:16, 6:42 pace

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sorry Thomas


According to Thomas's last post the battle for post-workout bulge is on. While his wife filled him up with chocolate cake and scones, Kiera countered with her own chocolate chip and toffee chip coffee cake and chocolate chip scones with a layer of raspberry jam (she'll no doubt correct my description in the comments). To settle this once and for all we probably need a weigh-in pre-run and a second weigh-in post-meal. Kiera ended up feeding most of the employees of the Running Shop, as well as the manager of the new ABQ Running Shop in Alburqueque, New Mexico after a morning trail run over the Champions Loop. It was great to get off the roads and into the mountains for some steep ascents, which were followed by a fun, rolling descent down a dirt fire road back into town. While we only covered 7.5 miles or so, the whole trip took more than an hour.

Sunday evening ended the running week with a run through the biggest Christmas light display in Tucson, where the whole family ran 5K or so while dodging horse-drawn carts and their the inevitable road debris that horse-drawn anything leaves in its wake. Haiden and Finn enjoyed the ride while bundled up in the jogging stroller, and Kiera and I were able to catch up with our running friends along the route.

Here's how last week went down-
12/17 pm., 3 miles running through Christmas lights, no watch
12/17 am., 7.6 miles, 1:00:52, 8:01 pace, hilly trail run with friends
12/16, 7 miles, 46:46, 6:41 pace
12/15 pm., 5 miles, 7:30 pace, nice and easy recovery run
12/15 am., 6 miles, 41 minutes, 6:50 pace
12/14, 8 miles, 56:40, 7:05, hills, up the road in Sabino Canyon
12/13, 8 miles, 56:25, 7:03 pace, a little sore in the hip flexors towards the end
12/12, 7 miles, 48:39, 6:57 pace
12/11, 7 miles, 49:35, 7:05 pace
Total: 58.6 miles in 9 sessions

Today marked the beginning of my third week of recovery, though by the way things went I feel I'm getting close to being back in the game. After an easy mile at 7:30 pace I slowly worked down the pace over the next 8 miles to end up with a 6:30 per mile average by the time I started a one mile cool down. The legs felt very good.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:05:34, 6:33 pace, w/9 miles at 6:30 pace and a 1 mile cool down. Nice
Yesterday, 7.6 miles am., fun trail run at 8 minute pace, and 3 miles easy in the evening.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Held Back

Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I felt both relief and embarrassment when I read an email from the coach this morning. He thinks my fast-twitch muscle fibers still aren't recovered enough from the marathon to re-start anaerobic training again for the races this late winter and early spring. Deep down I know he's right, as while I'm starting to run rather than just plod along, it's hard to find a single post during the last week that doesn't have at least some griping about the hip flexors. While sore quads, calf muscles and a messed up piriformis have all faded into the background, the hip flexors are literally a stubborn sore spot. I can't imagine doing speed work on sore legs will do any good, and Arthur Lydiard's books pretty much say the same thing. Thus, I'm back to pretty much another week of general running by feel. I'm planning on some hill running and perhaps a pick up run to evaluate how the recovery is coming along as the week progresses. I'll also be running longer than an hour on most days unless the legs complain enough to curtail things.

So why the embarrassment? For one thing, I find myself tempted to blame my age for the slow recovery this time around. I can't help but think that if I was 25 or 30 instead of 35 that I would be fully recovered by two weeks after a marathon. I think that's a cop-out though, and instead I just need to accept that the body will be ready when it's ready. After constantly preaching to others about patience in training and racing it's time to swallow a bit of my own medicine. Mmmmm, minty.

The run went fairly well today, though the soreness I mentioned above was in evidence for much of the seven miles covered. I did run faster than I have since the marathon and the soreness did not increase, which is probably a good thing. Tomorrow calls for a run with some of the club guys and shop guys, which will be fun. Tomorrow evening I'll see most of the gang at what is a great holiday tradition in Tucson, the Winterhaven Run Through the Lights, where Kiera and I will run through Tucson's most decorated neighborhood with Haiden and Finn in the jog-stroller. Afterwards there's an awards dinner which marks the end of my one year reign as champion of the Grand Prix. As you can see by the link I am now "first loser", to coin a phrase from my bike racing days. Nothing good lasts forever, and there's always next year. Still, it was really nice to not have to pay for any races this year.

Training: 7 miles, 46:46, 6:41 pace

Friday, December 15, 2006

Anaerobic Conundrum

While there are still a few cobwebs around the legs, I feel like my stride is starting to come back. The hip flexors felt better today than yesterday, and while I don't really feel like diving down to marathon pace or below it feels like I probably could...if forced. I got out for a short six miles this morning along some of the Slow Down loop, starting slowly at first then gradually dropping the pace down towards where "easy" ends.

I've spent the last few days thinking about one of three articles Mystery Coach linked to in his comments on Eric's training blog. It seems that since the dawn of time runners have been divided into different camps about how much anaerobic training is optimal to aid performance for their given events (and at what intensity), and in this article Ingrid Kristian shares her views about the potential damage too much anaerobic work at too high an intensity with too little recovery can cause. This is my favorite quote from the article-

"We repeat again: Higher concentrations of lactic acid in the muscles can damage the cell walls in your muscles, while the number of anaerobic enzymes can be increased at the cost of aerobic enzymes. Therefore, hard and painful lactic acid training can easily give you a negative result. Congratulations! You have trained hard and brutally, with the result that you run much slower."

Arthur Lydiard often wrote about the dangers of too much anaerobic conditioning, and he maintained (depending on which text) that an athlete could reach the maximum benefits of anaerobic training in 4-8 weeks. He shared Ingrid's views on the potential damage an overabundance of anaerobic training could have on the aerobic system.

As I wander from the shallow end of the pool where I've been recovering for the past two weeks out into the deep-end of anaerobic training for some shorter events this spring I have to figure out just how hard I should work to avoid the trap that Arthur and Ingrid mention. If you've read this blog for awhile you know this isn't me attempting to take the easy way out and avoid hard training. Believe it or not I enjoy running fast, but it does take a toll and I'm trying to find the optimal balance that gives me the best results for the effort I put in.

Training: 6 miles, 41 minutes, 6:50 pace

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ready?

Looks like there might be some actual training in the cards for me next week. Mystery Coach let on that a possible hill workout and perhaps some longer intervals will appear, so I spent today trying to feel out the body to make sure I'll be up to the challenge. To that end I decided to run up to the end of the road in Sabino Canyon, which climbs about 550 feet over 3.7 miles.

I think I'll make this a weekly event now that the road through the canyon is open to the top (it was closed for some time after the summer floods). With its short and long climbs on the way up and it's gradual and steep descents on the way back it helps simulate a cruel course made famous by Arthur Lydiard and his runners.

This is the elevation chart for the famous Waitakere Mountains course (thanks Coach). This 22 mile run was a weekly staple for Arthur's boy's, and it no doubt helped give his runners "impact proof" legs, which is something I crave after my last marathon over a downhill course. Of this run and the aerobic development is fostered Lydiard said, "We had to obtain the best possible result in the limited time that we had and the best way to develop aerobic capacity was to train at higher aerobic speed. My runners did a very hilly 22-mile course, with one hill of three miles, somewhere around 2:10 and 2:15. We used to do our Monday 10-mile run in about 55 minutes. They were all aerobic running, but we weren't mucking around at all." While my 8 mile run today pales in comparison to this 22 miler, hopefully enough running on hills (above and beyond the hill phase) will help me buffer against the havoc they can play on the legs on race day.

Speaking of havoc and legs, the hip flexors were sore again today. While it's not particularly bad, it did have me feeling like I was running while sitting in a bucket. I felt like I was having to pull my legs forward from underneath and and behind me rather than forcefully striding by driving the knees forward. It's getting better though.

Training: 8 miles, 56:40, 7:05 pace.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Core Issues

I ambled back to my old standby, Dog Poop Trail for eight miles of fun this morning. The calf muscles are absolutely 100% again, as the only way I can bring out any soreness is to attempt the one-legged piriformis stretch that Evan mentioned in his comment yesterday. These stretches seemed to aggravate what seems like an intermittent nerve issue, so while I appreciate the gesture I actually feel better when I don't stretch. The same thing held true for the calf muscles; as soon as I stopped stretching things got better in a hurry. You stretcher-types please continue to enjoy your contortions and the flexibility and good-vibrations they provide, but for now I'm back to good old rigidity. It suits me.

One thing I am still seriously considering is a core-strengthening routine. During the run today I had the old familiar sensations of fatigue in the hip flexors and lower abdominals, which leads to less knee drive and results in a shuffle instead of a powerful stride that eats up the road. I think my years as a cyclist are partially to blame for this, as sitting down and pedaling does almost nothing for your core muscles. That being said, it did improve my cardiovascular system while saving my knees. While I hate to say it, I'm going to look into the cost of a pilates class to help me with my core. Yes, dear readers, the green flag has been waved. Let the ridicule commence.

I'm looking forward to four more days of easy running, and with some luck the rest of the post-marathon kinks will be worked out by the beginning of next week. I'll let you know how things go with finding a pilates class once I buy the requisite track pants.

Training: 8 miles, 56:25, 7:03 pace. Felt great at first, shuffled a bit with sore core muscles the last two miles

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It Only Hurts When I Don't Run

The piriformis was a bit tight when I crawled out of bed this morning, but like yesterday the feeling evaporated as soon as I got on the road. It's been in the low 30's for the last two mornings, but once the sun lifts itself over the mountains in the east it's been comfortable enough to run with just one long-sleeved layer and shorts. I really hate using a hat or gloves, though if it gets any colder I'll probably dig them out of the garage.

I ran the exact same seven mile loop I tackled yesterday, though I tried to move the legs a little bit over the last three miles. I stuck around the house too long this morning drawing Christmas trees with our daughter, so I had to hurry back in order to get her to school on time. The two of us picked out a tree yesterday and she's literally shaking with excitement over the thought of decorating it tonight. At four years of age she's really getting into the season, while our son at only a year and a half is content with just trying to pull the tree over on himself.

While I'm waiting for the coach to come up with a schedule for the spring races I have planned (as he waits to see if I'm really over my assorted leg maladies) I've taken a look at the general schedule Arthur Lydiard provided for the 1973 book "Running the Lydiard Way". For a marathoner continuing his season with 5 and 10K races it looks like this-

Mo: 10x sprint 100 every 200
Tu: 1.5hrs aerobic running
We: 3000 meter time trial
Th: 1 hour fartlek
Fr: .5 hour easy
Sa: Race 5 or 10K
Su: 1.5hrs or more aerobic running

Lydiard writes that if an athlete has spent enough time on general conditioning and maximizing his ability to exercise aerobically that he or she can continue racing at a high level for some time with a schedule like this. As you can see, the only real speedwork during the week comes from the races themselves. The sprint workout is short enough at 1.25 miles, and the time trial is more of an "evaluation trial", much like the 2-3 mile trials I was doing during my conditioning. Again, 3000 meters is short enough to recover from quickly, and by doing this effort continuously rather than breaking it up into intervals it gives the athlete an idea of whether he needs to focus more on maintaining endurance (if the recovery afterwards is slow to come) or continue focusing on sharpening (if the lungs feel fine and recovery is quick but the leg turnover during the effort seems sluggish or rough instead of light and smooth). While I'm sure my schedule won't look exactly like this, I think it's a good combination of different paces and distances. Personally, I'd like a longer run on Sundays, but I'm just nuts that way.

I'm possibly going to try and find a few more races during the winter to make maintaining my form and motivation easier. There is a 5K up in Phoenix the 9th of January that sounds interesting, though sometimes the drive (2 hours) isn't worth the trouble.

Training: 7 miles, 48:39, 6:57 pace. Calf tightness/soreness almost gone, piriformis still a little tight before and after run but fine during

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Way it Ought to be

Week two of recovery runs from the marathon looks to have more running than week one did. The calf and piriformis seem to be behaving again, and I celebrated with 7 miles around most of my Slow Down loop. No real aches and pains to speak of, though I was a little sore from my zero to sixty sprints along the half marathon course yesterday, where I was either dodging traffic or trying to keep up with the runners I was keeping an eye on.

The plan for this week is fairly simple: Run every day for 30 minutes to an hour without any goal pace. After this week I'll probably start training to run a fast 10K at the end of January while keeping enough of a long run to possibly tackle a marathon the first weekend in February as a fast-finish workout.

I can't tell you how happy I am to be back.

Training: 7 miles, 49:35, 7:05 pace. Just a tiny amount of soreness in the calf and a little tightness in the piriformis, which doesn't affect the stride.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Before...and After

This is your Tucson Half Marathon 1:12-1:13 pack at about 5 miles into the race.Here's the same pack a few miles later, just after the screw has been turned by my friend and nemesis Dan, who is leading.

I love competing, and I've run long enough to pay attention to this early "sorting out" during a race. The bus is pulling out of the station here, Dan is driving, and if you don't grab the rail and hold on here you're most likely thumbing a ride by yourself for the rest of the day. This is why Dan is the winner of the Grand Prix.

These guys were turning out steady 5:30's, even with chronically misplaced mile markers, and they were all duking it out for 4th place. On a good day I might have found myself in the mix with these guys, but with this race falling one week after my marathon I found myself acting as cheerleader/photographer/split-taker instead. I had three friends in this pack, and I really enjoyed following the race by car. I'd drive ahead of them, park, then jump out and cross four lanes of traffic in a sprint with my camera to catch the action, all the while minding the watch and calculating overall pace for the guys I knew. I picked up discarded snotty gloves and yelled encouragement along the way as a only a jealous would-be runner can.

A few times during the race I ran alongside Lucas for 400 meters or so, and I noticed that the soreness and stiffness in my calf and piriformis was finally relenting. I'm feeling good again, and I'm cautiously optimistic about the next week of easy running. Come the end of January I'll see these guys again, and this time I'll be wearing a bib on my chest instead of a camera.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Not a Good Idea

Finn kindly illustrating the title of this post while goofing off at Grandma's house

The leg is still not right after two days off, each with two sessions of stretching. I headed out the door thinking I would be cured, but the right soleus is still giving me trouble. I think it's possible the piriformis on the same leg is part of the problem, as that hasn't been feeling quite right either. I thought I would be running easily for an hour and enjoying being pain free, but after three miles I decided to call it a day. The pain wasn't getting worse, but it also wasn't getting better. With no races planned until the end of January, I think it's better for me to be extra cautious at this point.

I think part of my problem comes from not taking the advice I'd given Thomas about adapting to the lower heel height of a "performance" trainer like the Asics DS trainer versus the higher heel height of the everyday trainers (in my case the Brooks Adrenaline with a Spenco insole). I advised Thomas to run at least one long run in the race shoes to make sure the extra calf extension wouldn't cause any problems on race day. While I did this during my last build up, it left me with fairly worn shoes when I pulled them out of my bag on race day. In order to save them from too much abuse this time I had only used them for shorter races and a few sessions on the track. One long run probably wouldn't have made that much of a difference, but it's something to think about.

Another possible cause of this tightness/soreness is the stretching thrust upon me after the race when I really wasn't ready for it. I'll admit it, I never stretch. With this in mind, allowing another party to twist my legs this way and that after a marathon was probably not wise. He did execute a calf stretch on both legs, and I remember asking for less pressure on the right leg (the one that's sore now).

Since walking doesn't cause any pain I'll be doing some of that in the evenings, and I'll continue stretching and ibuprofin in the meantime. I'll run when I feel like it for the next week (or not), and hopefully by the 16th or so I'll be ready to get back to it.

Training: 3 miles at 7:50 pace

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Way Forward

Resting yesterday seemed to bring my right calf and soleus back to about 90%, so with that in mind I've decided to rest again today to try to get it all the way back (gusting 30 MPH winds helped with the decision). This is uncharted territory, as I would have to go back a few years in the log to find another two days off in a row. If I spontaneously combust and the blog disappears tomorrow you'll know why.

A little time off gives me a chance to start plotting my next course of action. The tentative plan is to take a page from Arthur Lydiard's early playbook and take a one year approach to my running rather than follow one of the more standard 4-6 month build-ups advocated in his later books like Running to the Top. In Mystery Coach's post here last month he laid out the typical schedule Arthur's boy's used to follow, which looked a bit like this:

12 weeks X-country schedule
6 weeks Road Racing (2 mile schedule)
10 weeks Marathon conditioning
6 weeks hills
10 weeks Track Schedule
4 - 6 weeks track racing
2- 4 weeks off training

"Three fourths of the year has speed training or racing. If you look at the cycle going on year after year that speed is always before and after the relatively short conditioning phase. Everyone is always looking for what piece is the secret. The real secret was Arthur's ability to evaluate and balance the training with the correct amounts at the right time. He never was very far away from speed development and his runners were training to be racers not trainers."

I'm at the end of the list right now as I take a few weeks to put myself right after the marathon, but soon enough I'll be at the top and racing again. While I obviously don't have a 12 week cross-country racing schedule followed by six weeks of road racing planned, I do have a series of races to run this winter and spring. Here are the events, along with my best times on each specific course:

1/28/07 Sun Run 10K, 34:11, 5:30 pace
2/4/07 Desert Classic Marathon
4/21/07 Spring Cross-Country Classic 5K, 17:31, 5:38 pace
5/6/07 Cinco de Mayo 10K, 34:38, 5:34 pace
5/22/07 Tucson 5K, 16:07, 5:11 pace

The marathon in early February is speculation at this point, but I'm interested in using the race in part as a training exercise geared towards finishing the race at a fast pace. This might end up as more of a training run with an emphasis on running the second half at goal pace (sub 2:35) or faster. I think if I execute it right it won't do much more damage than the two biggest runs I did during this last build (25 miles one week and 15 miles at 5:52 one week). The muscle between my ears needs to learn how to not slow down through discomfort, and if I end up doing this race I can hopefully get over this hurdle. I don't expect a PR here, as I'll most likely run the first half at 10 seconds or slower per mile than goal pace.

I feel very different after this marathon than I have after the last two. Duncan, Scooter and others have urged more racing without going back to base or conditioning training after the last two marathons, but quite honestly I think I was coasting on fumes by the time those races were over. Whether is was too many long, hard time trials in the weeks before these marathons or a lack of rest (or a combination of both), I think I reached each race at either the very end or entirely past my peak.

This time things are different. Mystery Coach's plan seemed to bring me around just in time, even with my protests over resting too much and not running enough. I feel like I'm at the beginning of my racing season instead of the end, and I look forward to specifically training for some shorter races instead of feeling like these events are merely brief interruptions on the road to a greater goal. I'm hoping the coach can help me in this regard.

Rest assured, it's still about the marathon. I get a feeling of accomplishment from training for and racing that distance that I don't from other races. Plus, they're just so damn hard to get right.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It Hurts Them Just as Much

Watching the leaders finish nearly 20 minutes before me at the California International Marathon last weekend puts things into perspective (thanks Mike for the link). There is real and measurable suffering here, and these guys show that it's possible to overcome the pain and stress that inevitably strike during the closing miles of a race this distance. These guys are champions and they inspire me.

Here's a pic of me and Seebo throwing down during the second half of the race. Handsome devils, aren't we? Much of the second half of the race found us running through this beautiful foliage (well, beautiful for a guy used to looking at cacti), and while my shoulders are looking a bit tight I was feeling good here.

I ran 10K last evening with the running shop gang, mostly to see Lucas and blather about my marathon. We probably ran about 7:40-7:45 pace, but I certainly didn't want to go any faster. Afterwards we grabbed a sandwich together and convinced each other not to run this morning. My right calf and soleus are more sore than my left, and hopefully a day off will help. I'm finally taking my own advice here as far as backing off when a warning sign appears instead of trying to run through it. With luck it's just residual soreness from the race and it will be gone tomorrow (it's much improved from Monday already). If things aren't feeling right I'm not going to force them the week after a marathon.

Training: Yesterday pm., 6.2 miles at a blazing 7:40-7:45 pace. Yes, I almost got dropped at a social run.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ugh

The fridge is on the fritz, so the wife and I spent much of the evening taking it apart and researching parts on the internet. With some luck I'll actually be able to repair it, but spending much of the evening lying on my side while untangling appliance guts on our tile floor didn't do the achy body any favors.

It's for certain my head is back down to earth after spending a few days up in the clouds of "Marathonland", the happy place visited once or perhaps twice a year by the lucky, where folks PR at the distance and as a result lots of other folks give them a kind pat on the back. It was good while it lasted, but now it's back to fixing appliances, dealing with a bully at our daughter's school and fertilizing the lawn.

I got out for another short 3 miles today, and the calf muscles allowed me to run 8:20 pace. I enjoyed this run, and hopefully I'll get out for a second easy run in the evening so the gang from the Running Shop can make fun of my shuffle.

Training: 3 miles, 8:21 pace

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Damage Report

I had no desire to run yesterday, which is such a rare occurrence that I actually listened to my body and bagged any attempt at a recovery run. Today, however, I pulled myself together and headed out for the slowest 5K of my life. The calf muscles seem to have taken the biggest hit from the race. Both are quite sore, and on the right leg the soleus is also smarting, which made a normal gait almost impossible. I shuffled through one mile at ten minute pace before the legs would relax enough to allow a somewhat normal stride. The quads are also feeling the hurt, though they also tend to come back from this type of abuse fairly quickly. For some reason the hip flexors are actually not so bad, which is a nice surprise.

Thirty minutes of running felt more like an hour, and I added a quarter mile walk at the end for a cool down. Yes, I couldn't run any slower than 9:30 pace without tripping over myself so walking it was.

I'm really hoping the calves will start cooperating soon, as trips up and down the stairs at the gallery are comical at this point, at least to my boss and co-worker.

Recovery: 3.2 miles at 9:30 pace. Tight, sore, but ready for more.

Monday, December 04, 2006

California International Marathon '06, the Novel

Sacramento in early December is a great place to PR at the marathon. Cool temps in the mid 30's (fahrenheit), a very slight breeze, and sunny skies were the order of the day, and a fast, rolling course with a net downhill of just over 300 feet and a last six miles void of any noticeable hills awarded me a great opportunity to run fast. I will most certainly come back to this race and I suggest you check it out for yourself.

I met Seebo, my running companion about two minutes before the start as we both were squeezing around barricades to get a good spot near the start line. I'd only corresponded a few times with him prior to the race and we'd spoken for about five minutes on the phone the evening prior, but we shared a goal of running 5:54-5:55 pace and it made sense to work together. Since I'd had so much trouble with going out too fast over the opening miles of my last two marathons I decided to use a Garmin for pacing help. I used the "lap pace" setting and hit the splits manually at every mile. This seemed a good strategy, though I quickly found out that my Garmin consistently measured short by a few seconds per mile, meaning when I looked down to see 5:52 pace it usually ended up being closer to 5:54.

Seebo and I settled into a very consistent groove early and got to know each other a little bit over the first few miles. I knew how I ran the first 10K would be pivotal later on, and the feeling that I was just cruising along easily and holding back made me smile as we hit the first miles at 5:58, 53, 51, 5:56, 5:52 and 5:53. We were on it and feeling good. I tried hard not to get carried away on the downhills, which meant a very even pace through each mile. Runners were moving backwards and forwards around us, and I thought of Duncan as we were passed by a loud runner who had a bag of Sport Beanz rattling around in his mesh back pocket. I told Seebo here that we were "-1" with the pass, but we would be back to zero when we passed the runner coming back to us with 6 gels strapped to a fuel belt. 55, 53, 55 followed, then I missed the split at 10 and came up with 11:42 from mile 10-12. This was a little fast (5:47 pace average for the two miles), but this section had the longest, steepest downhill on the course. 53 and 51 followed, and we hit the half at 1:17:08 or so as I finished a gel I'd grabbed a bit earlier. My secret goal was to run the first half to break 2:35, then wait to mile 20 to try to get to 2:33 if possible. 22 seconds to the good during the first half was right where I wanted to be, and I gave myself a mental pat on the back for a solid first half. I'd been drinking a little sportsdrink at every stop (and occasionally a sip or two of water), and my fuel level and mental outlook were good.

A 50, 58 and 45 started the second half, though I think mile 15 was a little short and 16 a bit long. Seebo and I drifted a little apart as we each found our own rhythm. He seemed to roll better on the downhills and go slower on the uphills and I tended to do the opposite. He generally ran ahead of me by a few seconds, though we were still in contact. I started to feel the calves at this point, though all the 10 mile efforts with 7 miles close to marathon pace in training ran through my head. It was less than an hour to go at this point, and I was still confident I could squeeze the pace down after mile 20. Mile 17 went by in 6:01, which shook me a little since the Garmin was reading 5:52 or so. When I finally made it to the mark the watch said 1.03 miles, which is one of the faults of wearing one of these damn things during a race. Mile 18 was 5:56 as I came even with Seebo and we soldiered on, though the hip flexors started giving me some pain at this point. I know when this happens my stride shortens, so I tried hard to keep covering the same amount of ground with each step. Mile 19 at 5:57 took a little more effort, but we were counting down to the finish at this point. I grabbed a second gel and when 20 hit at 6:01 I really had to start thinking about things. Seebo and I were both breathing a little heavier now, and the pain from the quads started in, singing in three point harmony with the calves and hip flexors. Still, at 1:58:07 we were in good shape to break 2:35 if we could hold things to 5:55 or so. A 6:02 at 21 found Seebo edging away from me again, and while I would keep him in view he did get further and further away, especially when I dropped a third "insurance" gel I'd been holding and I stopped to scoop it up. A 6:11 at mile 22 found me starting to struggle, the pain in the legs was getting serious and the legs were increasingly locking up. A 6:13 at mile 23 gave me a moment of hope, but a 6:22 at mile 24 really found me suffering. The Garmin really turned into a cruel tool during the last two miles, as what read as 6:22 was really 6:29, and what read as 6:45 for mile 26 was really a 7:04 (note to self, stop looking at the watch when it gets tough). I ran as hard as I was able to the finish and crossed the line in 2:37:32.

Of all the miles, I only regret not finding some way to run the last one faster. I feel I let the brain control the legs too much over the last stretch, and glycogen depletion aside I should have saved myself at least 20 seconds here. Between mile 24 and 26 I let a 2:36 race slip away.

I found Seebo just past the chute, and after a quick congratulations I tried to limp to the water table. Something about the way my hip flexors seize up apparently makes me look like quite the insurance risk though, and the medical tent volunteers quickly abducted me against my will and sat me down for the usual interrogation. The singlet came off and a hot towel was draped around me, and as I sat there in pain it was hard to contemplate how quickly and completely the mind can shut down the body. At that moment I doubted I could even take a step, though I'd been sprinting to the chute just minutes earlier. The medic asked me and the runner beside me how many miles we log a week. "Around 90," I say. "About 70," he says. He finished in 2:28, a three minute PR to put him where I'm dying to be. "More than one way to skin a cat," I think to myself.

When I finally broke free of the medical tent and tried to walk to the food table I was followed out and grabbed. "It's just the hip flexors, I'll be fine!", I say, but now the medic who chased after me is handing me off to the massage table where a physical therapist is waiting. He hurts me for awhile and lectures me on how I need to stretch. "See, normally your foot should come back far enough to touch your behind." "Normally as in after you roll out of bed or normally after running 26 miles as hard as you can," I ask. Aside from putting me through some stress positions he's a nice guy, and he does give me some good stretching and strengthening advice.

A long walk to the hotel room and a quick shower later I'm back on the streets looking for lunch. I decide to save the celebratory cheeseburger and beer for breaking 2:35 and opt for a sub sandwich and 10 cups of Dr. Pepper. An early bus to the airport rewards me with two more direct flights and an incredibly quick trip home.

Today the legs are sore and the blisters are all popped, and instead of the usual feeling of wanting to go back to base conditioning and starting over I feel like more racing. My will is good, and the feeling of running smart and owning the race at my pace for most of yesterday has given me a taste of what I can do. There is still far to go, and I feel I'm on the road to get there. Thanks for all the post-race accolades, I urge you to congratulate Seebo once he goes public with his race.

Results

Sunday, December 03, 2006

2:37:32, 32nd place

Getting kicked out of the hotel room so I thought I'd save the drama. While it's a PR by 2:30 or so, I felt I had the training in me to go a few minutes faster. More tomorrow, but I have to mention what a pleasure it was to meet and run with Seebo, and I'm letting him tell you his time.

Thanks to Mystery Coach, my wife Kiera and family, The Running Shop and its awesome employees like Jason and Lucas (who happen to be good friends and advisors), and Nobby and the Lydiard Foundation for all their help and support. Thanks also to all of you for your kind wishes and comments. Oh, and I can't forget to thank Dragons!

I ran a very even-splitted race and hit the half at 1:17:09, which is exactly where I wanted to be. I ended mile 20 at 1:58:07 (5:52 pace), so I didn't slow much until after. Each mile was very close (within a few seconds) of 5:54 all the way to 18 or so, and then I started to slowly drift off pace as the hip flexors, calves and quads started to rebel and the breathing got heavier. I held on fairly well (within 10 seconds) until 23 or so, then started to drift closer to 6:30 pace.

That's all for now. I am not bowing my head by any means. I'm proud of how I ran this race, though my performance certainly leaves some room for improvement. I gave it all I had today.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Away I Go

While I'll bring along a laptop on my trip to the California International Marathon this weekend, this is my last pre-race post. Instead of taking a day off I ran a very easy four miles after taking our daughter out for a muffin this morning. The abundance of shorter runs during the taper has given me more family time during the mornings over the last week, and I've enjoyed it. My wife laughs when I tell her I'll miss the family during the trip (which will take less than 48 hours), but I have grown accustomed to the mayhem around the house and a quiet hotel room will be a shock to the system.

This race is the reward for the training and I plan to treat it as such. I'm going to enjoy the feeling of marathon pace, run during the marathon for a change. While I'm sure some are hoping for me to blurt out a concrete goal time, I'll only say that I hope to run the best race I'm capable of. There's no laundry list of miles and efforts run during training this time, if you've been reading you know the score.

I'd like to thank my wife Kiera for being more supportive than I deserve. I'd also like to thank Mystery Coach for all the work and trouble he's put himself through selflessly helping me in my efforts to follow Arthur Lydiard's training. He is the architect of the training I have followed this time around and he deserves much credit regardless of my result. Oh, and Phil certainly deserves a mention for his generous help getting me to the race when the unexpected occurred. Finally, thank you for reading about my exploits, and I hope to have something good to report come Sunday night.

Training: 4 miles, 29 minutes, 7:15 pace