Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's downhill from here

I was planning to take a complete day off from running after yesterday's 20-miler and a long seven hour drive to the artistic city of Oberammergau, Germany. But when I arrived in town and saw a dirt trail right outside of my hotel, I could not resist running. So I went for an easy short 4+ miles taking in the beautiful scenery. I discovered numerous running trails which runs along the river and through the mountains. I'll have the opportunity to run them during my two-week stay. After the easy run I treated my legs to a torturing ice-bath in the river. The first few minutes of the ice-bath (outside temp was 48 deg F) was unbearable. However, the legs felt refreshed ten minutes later.

Yesterday's long run was the last 20-miler for this marathon training cycle. Instead of a steady long run, I mixed things up by adding some marathon pace running. I ran the first 6 miles steady in 40:12 (6:42 pace) then the next 6 miles (7-12) alternating 1/2 miles at approximately marathon pace with steady running at about 6:45-6:50 pace. I'd hit the 1/2 miles in 2:55-2:58 and finish the remaing half miles in about 3:25. I then ran the remaining 8 miles steady averaging 6:25 pace with the last mile in 5:58. The legs were certainly tired in the end. I don't blame them though because they went through three hard workouts with only one easy day between them, and that was following a 100-mile week. Now with only 3 weeks remaining before the marathon, it's time to decrease the mileage and begin tapering for Amsterdam.

22-28 Sep

Mon: Noon - 4M easy at 6:57 pace; PM - 8M at 7:00 pace (12M total)
Tues: 8M with intervals of 1K (3:12), 1200 (3:51), 1K (3:10), 1200 (3:48), & 1K (3:04) with 200m recovery.
Wed: Noon - 3.5M easy at 7:21 pace; PM - 5.5M at 6:55 pace (9M total)
Thur: Noon - 5M at 7:05 pace; PM - 13M with 2 x 3-mile tempos (16:14, 16:04); (18M total)
Fri: Noon - 6.5M at 7:01 pace; pm - 8.5M at 6:52 pace; (15M total)
Sat: 20M at 6:29 pace; including 6 x 1/2 mile at MP followed by 1/2 mile steady pace.
Sun: 4.3M easy at 7:13 pace

Weekly Total: 86.3 miles

Thursday, September 25, 2008

3-Mile Tempos

In the past weeks of training I ran my key workouts (intervals, tempo, & MP workout) on Tuesdays and Fridays with the long run on Sundays. I decided to modify this week's schedule to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday due to my scheduled road trip to Germany on Sunday. Tuesday's workout was longer intervals of 1K, 1200, 1K, 1200, & 1K with 200m recovery. My legs felt flat for the most part but I still managed a decent speed session. Splits were 3:12, 3:51, 3:10, 3:48, and 3:04 respectively.

Today's workout (2 x 3-mile tempo) was much better. It is the same workout I did three weeks ago, in which I averaged 5:33 & 5:28 for the 3-milers. This time around I was aiming to average 5:28 for both 3-milers. Not sure if I was just having a good day or if there was a slight improvement in fitness over the last few weeks (hopefully the latter) because I would have had to slow the pace a bit to average 5:28 pace. I finish the 3-mile tempos in 16:14 (5:25 pace) and 16:04 (5:21 pace). I was a bit inconsistent in the mile splits of the first tempo - 5:27, 5:20, & 5:27. The 2nd tempo was more even paced with mile splits at 5:19, 5:22, & 5:23. Here's the comparison of the 5-Sep workout with today's.

05-SEP: 16:38 (5:31, 5:33, 5:34); 16:24 (5:26, 5:31, 5:27)
25-SEP: 16:14 (5:27, 5:20, 5:27); 16:04 (5:19, 5:22, 5:23)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nailing the long run

With only 4 weeks remaining till Amsterdam marathon I felt that I was lacking a long run of over 20 miles. The three Sundays before last weekend's race I put in 20, 20 and 18 miles for the long run so I was definitely due to get over the hump. Today's plan was to cruise at a steady relaxing pace at about 6:35-6:45 for the entire 22 miles. By the 2nd mile I was already at a 6:40 split which felt very easy. At miles 5-7 the pace was down to 6:25. After the 7th mile, my mind, body and legs seemed to settle into its rhythm. I was clicking off each mile between 6:10-6:20 pace, well, except for the last mile. I ran the last 15 miles in 1:33:31 (6:14 pace). I wanted to finish strong and confident so I ran the last mile a bit faster than goal MP pace ending with a 5:50 22nd mile. The overall pace for the 22-mile long run was 6:21 (2:19:41). I certainly like where I'm at with my overall fitness. If I could just manage to get in a few good workouts and decent weekly mileage over the next couple weeks then I think I should be ready to go for hopefully a marathon PR. This coming week will be tough to get in the mileage as I'll be very busy with work and traveling to Germany in the weekend.

15-21 Sep

Mon: Noon - 6.5M @ 6:56 pace; PM - 8.5M @ 6:53 pace (15M total)
Tues: AM - 4M easy @ 7:22 pace; PM - 12M @ 6:53 pace (16M total)
Wed: Noon - 7M @ 6:51 pace including 15 x :30 strides w/ 1' easy; PM - 7.2M @ 6:48 pace (14.2M total)
Thur: Noon - 5M @ 7:05 pace; PM - 7.3M @ 6:53 pace (12.3M total)
Fri: 12M with 8 miles at MP; 5:52, 5:53, 5:53, 5:49, 5:54, 5:51, 5:48, & 5:45 (46:45 - 5:51 pace)
Sat: 9M @ 6:49 pace
Sun: 22M @ 6:21 pace

Weekly Total: 100.5 miles

Friday, September 19, 2008

Marathon Pace

I expected the legs to feel slightly fatigue or sore following Sunday's half-marathon because it was the first time racing since June. When Monday came around there was no soreness in the legs so I drove on with training. Mon and Tues was easy, Wed was a fartlek, and Thurs was another easy run. Today's planned workout was 8 miles at marathon goal pace, which (to be honest) I'm unsure of. According to Jack Daniel's Running Formula and McMillan Calculator, my recent 1/2-marathon time is equivalent to a 2:35 marathon, about 5:56 pace. I see JD formula and McMillan's cacl to be somewhat reliable; of course, that's considering we're doing the right training. After a couple miles of warm-up I tried to run at what felt like MP pace. The split for the 1st mile was 5:52. I tried to slow the pace just a bit on the 2nd mile but managed only to add on a second, 5:53. For the next four miles the pace seemed to hover around the low to mid 5:50s. I was feeling comfortable, maybe too comfortable, at six so I decided to pick up the pace for the last couple miles. Splits for the workout were 5:52, 5:53, 5:53, 5:49, 5:54, 5:51, 5:48, & 5:45 (46:45 - 5:51 pace). It was a nice confidence booster to finish the workout knowing I could have gone longer.

Here's the training log for last week.

08-14 Sep

Mon: Noon - 7M @ 6:55 pace; PM 6.5M @ 7:06 pace (13.5M total)
Tues: 10M @ 6:41 pace
Wed: Noon - 6.5M @ 6:50 pace; PM - 10M including 6 x 1Km w/ 200m easy; splits: 3:22, 3:16, 3:16, 3:14, 3:14, & 3:15 (16.5M total)
Thur: 8M @ 6:56 pace
Fri: Noon - 5.25M @ 7:03 pace; PM - 6M @ 7:02 pace;
Sat: 3M very easy; 5 hours on the feet (walking and biking Rotterdam)
Sun: Fortis 1/2 Marathon Rotterdam - 1:13:39 (PR)

Weekly Total: 76 miles

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fortis 1/2 Marathon Rotterdam: 1:13:39 (PR)

Day before the race
I neglected to do the necessary preparation such as finding how to get to the registration and race site, and even having a pre-race strategy (resting, where and what to eat, etc.). After checking in to the hotel around noon I went on a mission to find out more info on the race. I packed up my bike just before leaving the house knowing that it would be easier to get around the 2nd-most populated city in the Netherlands. About thirty minutes on the bike I finally found the VVV tourist information and was told that everything from late registration to packet pickup took place on the morning of race day. I thought that since I'm already in the heart of Rotterdam I might as well take a tour of the city. Fast forward..... I took the VVV-recommended walking tour (2 hours), biked the city cycle-route (~45 min.) and spent some time at a festival. So about 4:30pm I decided to head back to the hotel to give the legs some rest. Well, I ended up finding my hotel another 30 minutes later because smart-me only had a city map which did not cover streets to my hotel. Funny thing is that the hotel was only an 8-minute walk from the centrum. At that point my legs were feeling a bit stale, so I decided to go for a short 25 minute run hoping it will feel better. After a nice shower and some relaxing, I rode my bike back into the centrum to get something to eat. I wasn't up for the typical two hour three course Dutch meal so I stopped by a pizzeria near the festival and ordered a delicious Hawaiian medium pizza. I had planned to eat it back at the hotel, but that was modified to stand-and-eat when I came across a fashion and modeling show. I called it the night around 9pm.

Race day
Pre-race meal: Marathon Snicker bar, peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, & gatorade. Temperature: 52 degrees at 10am. The race has two half-marathons; one that starts at 11:00 and labeled Fortis 1/2 Marathon Elite and the other which starts 50 minutes later and labeled Fortis 1/2 Marathon. At about 10:45 I found out the 11:50 start was a "fun run". Don't ask me what the difference is. So I made my way to the 11:00 start, but was stopped because I had a 4-digit bib number "3406". All the other runners at the start had a one, two or three-digit bib number as well as the same number pinned on the back of their singlet. I was finally let into the start line when the race director asked me what my goal time was and told him that I run around 1:14-1:15. I felt a bit intimidated because here I was lined up with only about 100 runners, mostly Africans and Europeans.

The gun went off just as I was about to turn on the GPS on my Forerunner 405. This was a mental breakdown because now I would have no clue what mile splits I'd be running. Remember that European races use kilometers and not miles. I tried to calculate my pace in the first few kilometers, but that turned out to be a difficult task. I hit the 5k mark in 17:25, which I figured would be somewhere just under 5:40 pace. I knew coming into the race that my PR was at 1:15:42 (5:47 pace) so I was already in unknown territory. To be honest, I was really just trying to stay with the pack of runners. I didn't want to be the last runner especially that I had an odd bib number and none on the back. Approaching the 10k mark I could see the timer closing in at 35 minutes. Crossed 10k in 34:59 (10k PR is 34:58). I was feeling very good and wanted to pick up the pace, but knew I still had another 10k+ remaining. At about 12-13k it seemed like the pace was slowing a bit. Noone in our pack of about 10 was interested in picking up the pace, so I decided to. I put in a little surge and noone followed. I then began my mission of picking off runners who where within distance. Within 3 kilometers I managed to pass 3 runners. 15k was 52:38. Interestingly, my 16k split was 56:14 and equates to a 56:30 10-miler, a few seconds faster than my 10M PR. At 18k I could not believe that I still had something left in the legs. I somehow managed to run the last 6.1k faster than any 5k split in the race. I crossed the finish in 1:13:44. Chip time was 1:13:39, a 2-minute PR. Splits below and complete results here. I'm wondering what I could have ran had the legs been a bit more rested. Maybe the secret is not to rest the day before the race.

5k: 17:25 (17:25 - 5:36 pace)
10k: 34:59 (17:34 - 5:39 pace)
15k: 52:38 (17:39 - 5:41 pace)
21.1k: 1:13:44 (21:06 - 5:34 pace)

Monday, September 08, 2008

The leg has a mind of its own

It seems like the legs know when to respond. They tend to feel flat and not interested in running on the easy days, but on the key workout days it's game on. Yesterday was a prime example. Before I got out the door I thought that it was going to be a two hour struggle. A few miles into the long run the legs got into that enjoyable feeling of cruise control. I was clicking off 6:25-6:30 pace after 5 miles like it was a stroll in the park. Hopefully, the legs will play and respond (but at at a faster pace) this coming Sunday as I plan to run my first race in the Netherlands, a 25K as part of the Mergelland Marathon in the municipality of Meerssen. It will be a tough race as the course is supposedly hilly.

Last week's training:
1-7 Sep

Mon: Noon - 6.6M (47:40 - 7:13 pace); PM - 6.6M (47:23 - 7:11 pace)
Tues: Noon - 7M (50:16 - 7:11 pace); PM - 10.4M (1:08:34 - 6:36 pace) including 12 x 1' hard/easy; legs very tired.
Wed: 11M (1:14:41 - 6:47 pace)
Thur: Noon - 7M (49:11 - 7:02 pace); PM - 8M (55:58 - 7:00 pace)
Fri: 12M including 2 x 3M tempo in 16:38 & 16:24; 2' rest in between tempo
Sat: 10M (1:09:14 - 6:55 pace)
Sun: 18M (1:58:56 - 6:36 pace) steady long run; last 13 miles in 1:24 flat.

Weekly Total: 96.6 miles

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fighting through fatigue

Throughout the week the legs felt heavy, flat and tired. I sort of expected it as I came off a 100-mile week last week, which was followed by 13 on Mon, 17 on Tues, 11 on Wed and 15 yesterday. The runs were doubles with the exception of Wednesday's. Tuesday's workout also included a fartlek run of 12 x 1' hard/easy.

The workout I had planned for the day was 3 x 2-mile tempo at 5:36-5:40 pace with 2' rest in between. After a 3-mile warm-up and a few strides I circled the track hoping that the legs would have some pop in it. When I hit the first mile in 5:31 and the legs feeling okay, I thought to myself that it just might be a good day for the legs. A couple laps later (about 1.5 miles into the tempo) I began questioning myself whether I should be running 3 x 2-mile tempo or 2 x 3-mile tempo. The two workouts may produce the same results, but I was easily convinced that the longer tempo would be more beneficial for marathon training. The 3-mile tempo is not only a tougher workout physically, but also mentally. I'm sure marathoners would agree that mental fitness is as important as physical fitness during marathon training and the actual race. I ended up having a good workout. I ran the 3-mile tempo runs in 16:38 (5:31, 5:33, 5:34) and 16:24 (5:26, 5:31, 5:27), an average pace of 5:33 and 5:28. I'm very satisfied the legs held up after battling fatigue throughout the week.