Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Rock'n'Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon - 1:11:49!!

Just three weeks after the Army Ten-Miler (ATM) I hit the streets again, this time for the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.  Rock 'n' Roll Philly served as a tune-up and my last race leading up to California International Marathon (CIM) in five weeks.  I ran this race last year when it was in September and finished in 1:13:13.  This year the race was pushed back to the end of October to accommodate Pope Francis' first visit to the US and the city of Philadelphia.  The unique date was a "blessing" because we were treated with perfect running weather (40 degrees with very little wind) on Halloween day. 

Marathon training has been going extremely well and with a recent PB at the ten mile distance, there was no reason I wouldn't be able to run a PB for the half-marathon.  My race strategy was similar to my ATM race; start out at about 5:30 pace or slightly under for the first half and then drop the hammer on the second.

The first few miles felt pretty easy.  I went through the first mile right at 5:30 pace.  Me and a group of runners, some were elite females aiming for the Olympic Marathon Trials Standard (Women - 1:15:00, Men - 1:05:00), actually freaked out because the timing clock at Mile 1 showed 5:08.  I then heard a guy on the bike tell his athlete not to worry because the clock was wrong and that the 1st mile was a 5:30.  My second mile split was slow (GPS split for was a 5:43) even though I felt like I was running the same effort/pace.  I hit the 5K in 17:11, about 5-10 seconds slower than I had planned.  I probably fell behind because I was too busy waving to my wife and daughter.

Definitely not running hard enough!
At 10K I was still feeling really good, maybe too good. I went through 10K in 34:23.  No wonder I was feeling too good!  I practically cruised the second 5K (17:12) in the same time as the first.  After 10K is when I started to roll.  I ran miles 7 and 8 in 5:25 and 5:28.  However, mile 9 was a slow 5:38.  I think a combination of a short uphill and sharp turn onto Falls Bridge caused me to lose some seconds.  Luckily, I made up the lost seconds on the next mile with a 5:19 split. 

At the 10 mile mark, which I came across in 54:56, I caught and passed about four runners, including three-time Olympian Jen Rhines. It's crazy to think that my 10 mile split was a sub-55 and only 21 seconds slower than my PB I set a few weeks ago.  Coming through the ten mile mark in just under 55-min meant that I'd only have to run 5:30 pace for the remaining 5K to hit my goal time of 1:12. 

I wasn't going to settle for 5:30 pace, so I tried to keep the hammer down and ran 5:24, 5:29, and 5:24 for the last three miles.  When I got to the 13 mile mark, just at the base of the short steep hill before the finish, I glanced at my watch and saw 1:11:10.  I knew at this point that I would break 1:12 for the half.  I sprinted up the short hill and to the finish like nobody's business crossing the line in 1:11:49, a new half-marathon PB by a whopping 80 seconds.  According to my Garmin splits and Strava, I ran the last .1 mile of the race at sub-5:00 pace, and that's with the hill. I'd have to say that the weekly hill blasts my coach has incorporated into my training has really paid off.

1:11:49!!!  New Half Marathon PB!

Below are my splits and a comparison of my 2014/2015 R'n'R Philly race.  Interestingly, I ran much faster this year but placed lower in the overall results, mainly because the fast guys and ladies decided to show up and run a qualifying time for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.  A total of 44 runners (24 men and 20 women) ran fast enough to qualify for the marathon trials in February.  Insane!

5 Km
10 Km
10 Mile
Chip Time
2015 17:11 34:23 54:56 1:11:49 5:29 68
2014 17:32 35:02 56:14 1:13:13 5:35 61

Some thoughts following my half-marathon PB:
  • I was thrilled to run a huge PR and sub-1:12.  However, I think if I wasn't being too patient early in the race I probably would have ran about 10-20 seconds faster. I'm not greedy though, I'll take a 1:11:49!!!
In disbelief!
  • It's obvious that I'm a patient and negative split type of runner.  Personally, I think it's the best and smartest way to run the long distance races. 
  • The race was a huge and perfect confidence booster leading up to CIM in five weeks.  I feel that my ultimate goal of a sub-2:30 marathon is well within reach.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Marathon Results and Statistics

1st Half
2nd Half
1 Marine Corps 10/26/2003 2:52:22 6:37 1:22:46 1:30:36 47
2 Honolulu 12/14/2003 3:09:38 7:14     176
3 Boston 4/19/2004 2:59:23 6:51 1:24:39 1:34:33 307
4 Houston 1/16/2005 2:42:14 6:12 1:21:11 1:21:03 25
5 Marine Corps 10/30/2005 2:41:15 6:09 1:20:16 1:20:59 35
6 Austin 2/19/2006 2:38:16 6:02 1:19:17 1:18:59 54
7 Rocket City 12/9/2006 2:39:21 6:05 1:18:29 1:20:52 9
8 Grandmas 6/21/2008 2:54:08 6:39 1:25:23 1:28:45 80
9 Amsterdam 10/19/2008 2:35:37 5:56 1:17:34 1:18:03 43
10 Hamburg 4/26/2009 2:34:33 5:54 1:17:16 1:17:17 36
11 Berlin 9/20/2009 2:34:06 5:53 1:16:20 1:17:46 98
12 Marine Corps 10/25/2009 2:41:33 6:10 1:17:16 1:24:17 34
13 Rotterdam 4/11/2010 2:35:46 5:57 1:17:04 1:18:42 73
14 Munich 10/10/2010 2:33:50 5:52 1:16:46 1:17:04 9
15 Rotterdam 4/10/2011 2:35:26 5:56 1:16:32 1:18:54 67
16 Boston 4/16/2012 2:36:35 5:59 1:18:29 1:18:06 56
17 Boston 4/15/2013 2:36:49 5:59 1:17:08 1:19:41 179
18 Big Sur 4/28/2013 2:46:05 6:20 1:23:08 1:22:57 11
19 Richmond 11/16/2013 2:36:44 5:59 1:17:27 1:19:18 12
20 Boston 4/21/2014 2:53:34 6:37 1:17:24 1:36:10 1310
21 All-American 5/4/2014 2:48:03 6:25 1:20:37 1:27:26 3
22 California Int'l 12/7/2014 2:32:29 5:49 1:16:41 1:15:48 65
23 Boston 4/20/2015 2:33:13 5:51 1:16:13 1:17:00 119
24 California Int'l 12/6/2015          
    Average  2:42:16 6:11       

Facts and statistics in no particular order.
  • Marathon Personal Best is 2:32:29 at the 2014 California International Marathon
  • Boston Marathon
    • 5 total Boston Marathons
    • Ongoing streak of 4 consecutive Boston's (2012-2015); registered for 2016
    • Placed 119th Overall in the 119th edition of the Boston Marathon (2015)
    • Highest Boston placing was 56th Overall in the 2012 scorching heat.
  • 3rd Place Overall in Boston2BigSur Challenge (2 marathons in 13 days)
  • Average marathon time and pace for my 23 marathons is 2:42:16 / 6:11 pace.
  • Ran 13 marathons in the 2:30's (between 2:30:00 to 2:39:59), 5 marathons in the 2:40's, 4 marathons in the 2:50s, and 1 marathon over 3:00 (decided to run Honolulu last minute as a fun run while on vacation). 
  • Ran 11 marathons at sub-6:00 pace or sub-2:37:12.
  • 6 marathons with a negative or even split halves.  I'm considering Hamburg Marathon an even split race since I was only 1 second slower in the 2nd half. 
  • 9 marathons were within 1-3 minutes slower in the 2nd half. According to this RunningTrainingTips article, a slight slow down of 1-3 minutes in the 2nd half is considered good marathon pace judgement. 
  • My 6 fastest marathon times were all ran in Germany and The Netherlands. Top 3 times were in Germany and the next 3 in the Netherlands. 
    • Avg finish time and pace for European marathons is 2:34:53 / 5:55 pace.
    • Is European's pavement better than the US for running or are the courses just faster?
  • Since 2003 I ran at least one marathon each year except for 2007 (deployment to Iraq).
  • I ran 3 marathons 2 or more times - 5 x Boston, 3 x Marine Corps, 2 x Rotterdam. (CIM will soon be added)
  • The most marathons I ran in one calendar year is 3 in 2009.  
  • 5 - # of times I hit the "Wall" in the marathon.
    • Marine Corps '03 - what better way to experience the wall than in your 1st marathon.
    • Boston '04 - HOT! 2nd hottest Boston Marathon in history at the time. (can't use the heat as an excuse since I ran well in '12 Boston when it was hot again)
    • Marine Corps '09 - Ran MCM only 5 weeks after Berlin.  
    • Boston '14 - you can't expect to run well in Boston if you don't train on hills.
    • All-American - cramped badly at 20 miles, but still fought hard for 3rd Place.
  • 2:54 at Grandmas Marathon - still decided to run Grandmas after only 4-5 weeks of training; had IT band syndrome that lasted for 8 weeks.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Army Ten-Miler

The Army Ten-Miler was the second of three races (New Haven 20K, Army Ten-Miler, Philadelphia Rock'n'Roll Half-Marathon) in the lead up to my next marathon, California International Marathon in December.  

Before I go any further with my Army Ten-Miler race, I'll give a brief summary of my running since the Boston Marathon.  I basically took things pretty easy after Boston and did easy running during the month of May.  In early June, I had some issue with my left knee that forced me to take some days completely off from running.  I think the knee issue was a sign that my body needed time off to recover as I was going hard for about 10 consecutive months.  The only good thing about the injury was that it came at a good time.  In June, my family took vacation trips to Hawaii and my hometown in Guam.  It was the first time visiting family and friends back home since 2009.  The months of July and August were all about gaining back fitness with base mileage and some fartlek and moderate workouts. 

Vacation in Kona, Hawaii

Where America's Day Begins!

The New Haven 20K Road Race, which also hosted the USATF 20 km Championships, was my first race since the Boston Marathon in April.  The Labor Day race served as a good race-buster and fitness assessment as I began to ramp up training for the marathon.  I ran 1:10:15 (5:39 pace) for 47th Overall.  Going into the race, I thought I'd be able to average 5:35ish pace for the distance.  Unfortunately, a combination of the warm (70deg) and humid conditions and a side-stitch between miles 8-10 made for a tough day. 

New Haven 20K Road Race

Following the New Haven 20K, I had five solid weeks of training before I toed the Army Ten-Miler start line.  I put in weeks of 93, 101, 100, 93 and 77 miles (race-week) with 2-3 tough quality sessions per week.  My main goal(s) for the 10-miler was to: A) break 55 minutes; I'd be disappointed if I don't run a sub-55 because I know I'm in much better shape than a couple years ago when I ran 55:07; and B) run in the low to mid-54 minute range if I was having a great day.

My race plan was to go out at 5:30 pace or slightly under for the first half and then drop down to 5:20-5:25 pace for the last 5 miles.  I know 5:20-5:25 pace for the 2nd half was doable because a week prior I had done 4x2 miles starting at 11:00 and worked down to 10:40.  The 4x2 miles (10:56, 10:47, 10:43, 10:39) was a key workout and confidence builder heading into the ATM. 

The first mile felt pretty easy at 5:30 pace. For the next three miles, I settled into a good rhythm and crossed the 4-mile timing clock in 22:30. At this point, I was running my race as planned, but I knew I had to get moving if I wanted to run well under 55min. I then started picking up the pace and ran 5:26 for the 5th mile. During the 5th mile, I felt a side-stitch coming.  Fortunately, the stitch never evolved to a point where it would affect my race.

Memorial Hwy
The second half is where I started to roll. I clicked off mile splits between 5:20-5:25, even on Memorial Hwy, which to me was the toughest part of the course.  The mile stretch on Memorial Hwy seemed like a never ending gradual hill.  I remember running behind Oiselle Elite Kerri Gallagher on Memorial Hwy in 2013 and tried hard to keep up with her.  Unfortunately, I couldn't hang on with her and she slowly pulled away.  Kerri ended up running a Women's course record in 54:56 while I finished 11 seconds back.  This time I wasn't slowing down and I wasn't going to let the women's winner (Tina Muir - 55:20) finish ahead of me.  I ran a 5:23 and 5:24 split for miles 7 and 8, respectively.  

54:35, 49th Overall
The last couple miles was all about digging deep and finishing strong, which I did with a 5:21 and 5:23 split.  I crossed the finish line in 54:35, a new 10-mile PR and good for 49th Overall.  The nice thing is that I ran a 21-second negative split with the 1st half in 27:28 and the 2nd half in 27:07.  This big of a negative split tells me that I could have ran a little faster had I ran a couple seconds faster early in the race.  


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Boston Marathon Race Report

I had high expectations going into my 5th Boston Marathon. My marathon training cycle went extremely well and my fitness and marathon-specific workouts indicated I was in shape to run faster than my PR (2:32:29), which was set just 4 months ago at the California International Marathon.  

When I saw the race day weather forecast to be cold, wet and very windy (headwinds), I started to get worried. I was concerned about my race being ruined by the weather. But then I thought, there's nothing anyone can do about the weather and we'll all be running in the same conditions, so I better stop whining.

I arrived at the Athlete's Village about 2.5 hours before the start of the race. Once I got there I headed to the "Hawaii House", which is an engineering firm's office/residence on Main Street where Hawaii runners and islanders gather to relax before the race. According to this article, the owner started inviting Hawaii runners in for breakfast in 1995 to honor his late wife who loved visiting the islands. I was first invited into the house in 2012 by a close friend who lives in Hawaii. Since then it's been a tradition to relax and hang out at the house before toeing the Start line.

Hopkington Start
When the gun went off, I stayed close to the right side of the road so I wouldn't get clipped or shoved by runners who shot out like they were running a 10K. I ran comfortably clicking off mile splits mostly between 5:45-5:50. GPS mile splits for the first six miles were 5:45, 5:47, 5:46, 5:47, 5:52, and 5:47 with a 10K split of 36:06 (5:48 pace). At this point, I was feeling good (as I should since it was still early in the race) running at the pace/effort that I had trained at. I didn't think the winds had much of an effect in the early miles. However, by around mile 10, I started noticing the headwinds. It was also at this point in the race when runners around me started stringing out.  There were still many runners near me, but they were either running slightly in front of or behind me. Instead of putting in small surges to catch up to some runners and draft off of them, I continued to run my own pace and race.

I hit the half-marathon mark in 1:16:13, which was right around where I thought I'd be considering the conditions. My coach and I initially thought that going out in 1:14-1:15 for the half would be perfectly reasonable, if the weather was good.  However, going out in 1:14-1:15 in windy conditions would have made for a long day.  From miles 12-16, I continued to put down splits between 5:45-5:50. My 5K split of 17:55 between 20K-25K was my fastest throughout the race.

After 16 miles came the infamous Newton Hills. This is the section of Boston's course that will make or break a runner. In last year's race, the Newton Hills broke me and I ended up jogging to the finish. I wasn't about to experience that again. I reflected back on all the tough training and long runs I did on rolling hills and ran strong (or at least tried to) up the hills. Splits for miles 18-21 were 5:54, 5:51, 5:55 and 6:15, respectively. When I saw a 6:15 split for mile 21, I couldn't help but think that my race was about to go downhill.

The infamous Newton Hills!

After I crested Heartbreak Hill, I tried to regroup and focus on using even the slightest downhill to propel me forward. There were signs of my legs coming back to life as I hit the next three miles (miles 22-24) in 5:46, 5:50, and 5:47 pace. However, things started to get really tough over the last couple miles. My legs felt very heavy and the arms/shoulders started tightening up. Mile 25 was a 5:52 split.  

1 Mile To Go

With "1 mile to go", I tried to kick it in another gear but couldn't go any faster.  I crossed the finish in a respectable 2:33:13, which is my 2nd fastest marathon time and only 44 seconds slower than my PR. Ironically, I placed 119th Overall in the 119th edition of the Boston Marathon.  I'm very happy with my Boston performance.  I ran strong and almost even splits on a tough and very windy day. 

2:33:13 for 119th Overall

Official Marathon Splits

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 6 - 12 Training

Mon: AM - 6 miles easy with 4x30s pickups (7:15); PM - 4 miles easy (7:44)

Tue: AM - 13.1 miles with 10 miles (5:43) at marathon effort; Goal was to run at marathon effort, which based on my fitness is around 5:45ish.  I wanted to keep this workout on a flat route as much as possible, so I ran three loops of my usual 3-mile downtown loop (even though it's not entirely flat) and then added on a mile.  The first loop was all about loosening up the muscles and finding my rhythm.  I hit the first three miles right at 5:45 pace.  The 2nd loop (5:41, 5:44, 5:39) felt more controlled and comfortable than the first loop.  In the last loop and last mile I tried to relaxed as much as possible while getting a good feel of the pace and effort.  

Wed: AM - 6 miles easy (7:29); PM - 4 miles easy (7:13)

Thu: AM - 9.3 miles with 6x1/4 mile downhill repeats; ran fast and controlled with splits of 67, 67, 64 and 65.  PM - skipped run. 

Fri: AM - 5 miles easy (7:26); PM - 4.5 miles easy (7:22)

Sat: 16 miles long run (6:41); Ran the first 10 miles easy then the next 5 miles alternating between 1/2 mile at 5:45ish pace and 1/2 mile at normal long run pace, 1 mile cooldown. The first 10 were nice and easy averaging 6:53 pace. For the 1/2 mile fartleks I ran a rolling course. I practiced running marathon effort without looking at the watch. Ended up averaging 5:39 pace for the fast portions and 6:52 pace for the recovery. Really happy with the workout.

Sun: 7.3 miles easy (7:12)

Weekly Total: 75.3 miles on 10 runs/7 days
I'm starting to feel the legs freshening up  with the decrease in volume.  Just one more week and it's game time. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

March 30 - April 5 Training

Mon: AM – 8.4 miles easy with 6x20s pickups (7:03);  PM – 4.5 miles easy (7:58)
Tue: AM – 14.1 miles including 9 miles progression in 52:06 (5:48).  The goal was to run the progression in 3 mile blocks at 6:10 pace (18:30), 5:50 (17:30), and 5:30 pace (16:30) respectively.  Ran the segments in 18:25, 17:25, and 16:16. The first segment felt easy, the second one felt comfortable and the last segment was tough. Was really thrilled with the workout.  Running 5:25 pace for a 3-mile tempo alone is tough, so to do it at the end of a progression run is a good sign that I'm fit.  PM – 4.1 miles easy (7:24)

Wed: AM – 8.1 miles easy (7:04); felt good and smooth.  I’ve noticed that the legs have been feeling pretty good after a quality workout.  This shows that I'm able to recover from my workouts pretty quickly. Nutrition is probably the most important part of recovery.  PM – 3.9 miles easy (7:25)
Thu: AM – 6 miles easy with 4x20s pickups (7:06); PM – 4.5 miles easy (8:01)
Fri: 12 miles including 3-2-1 mile intervals with 3:00 rest/400m jog.  Goal was 5:30 pace for the 3 miles, 5:10-5:15 pace for the 2 miles and 5:00 for the mile.  Ran the workout on the track so the actual distances were 4800m, 3200m, and 1600m.  I ran 16:10 (5:22, 5:25, 5:23), 11:24 (5:12, 5:12) and 4:56, respectively.  The 3 miles felt good and comfortably hard, the 2 miles was tough, and the last mile hurt.  It was probably the first time breaking 5:00 for a mile in a workout.  
Sat: 20 miles long run (6:38).  Legs felt really good as if I didn’t run a workout yesterday.  First 10 miles were rolling/hilly and the last 10 fairly flat.  Averaged 6:30 pace for the last 10 miles.  
Sun: 7.4 miles (7:09)
Weekly Total: 93.1 miles on 11 runs/7 days
This was probably my best week of training.  Nailing the tough workouts on Tuesday and Friday has boosted my confidence and proves that I'm fit and ready for Boston.  With just two weeks away from raceday, it's time to freshen up the legs and peak to run Boston Strong. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 23 - 29 Training

Mon: AM - 8.25 miles easy (7:28); PM - 4.9 miles easy (8:15)

Tue: AM - 16.5 miles including 2x6 miles with 1/2 mile rec jog.  Goal was to run the first 6-mile segment at 5:45-5:50 pace and then speed up on the second one.  I ran 34:32 (5:45 pace) for the first segment and 33:40 (5:37 pace) for the 2nd segment.  This was a tough workout, but I was really happy to nail it.  I ran this same workout about 2 1/2 weeks before CIM and averaged 5:53 and 5:50 pace, respectively.  It's obvious that my fitness is at a much higher level.  PM - 3.5 miles easy (7:43)

Wed: AM - 6.2 miles easy (7:02);  PM - 4.6 miles easy (7:16)

Thu: AM - 11.5 miles with 10 miles moderate in 59:42 (5:58); Ran  a 1/2 mile easy and then went straight into the moderate effort. Started out with the first couple miles at 6:08 and then settled in at 5:53-5:59.  Was really surprised to see the pace drop to sub-6:00 pace compared to previous moderate workouts.  PM - 7.2 miles with 8x:45/2:00 on/off fartlek. It was a double quality workout day.  Ran the fartlek on a rolling course. 

Fri: AM - 3.8 miles easy (7:52); PM - 6.2 miles easy (7:17)

Sat: 20.5 miles long run (6:36). The first 10 miles (67:16) were fairly flat and then the last 10 miles (64:57) quite hilly.  Felt really strong on the hills.  Last 3 miles were mostly downhill to get some quad-pounding.  

Sun: 7.4 miles easy (7:03); Felt like I was jogging. 

Weekly Total: 100.6 miles on 12 runs/7 days
An excellent but tough week of training.  I got in 4 quality sessions with varied-paced workouts (tempo, moderate, fartlek and long run). I have one more week of hard training and then will begin my peaking phase.