Sunday, October 26, 2008

Recovery / Wayne's European Marathon Tour

Week 1 of recovery is complete. The stiffness, soreness and fatigue in the legs have vanished. Recovery will continue the next couple weeks with alternating days of very slow easy runs and complete days off. Surprisingly the mind, body and legs don't seem to be in such a rush to train. I think this is due to the satisfaction of running a good time and PR. However, the recent race and PR has made me hungry to run faster. I'm already looking down the road to the next marathon in "Wayne's European Marathon Tour", which includes Amsterdam (completed), Rotterdam (04/05/09), Berlin (09/20/09), and London (APR 2010). These are just the must-do marathons as part of the WEMT; other marathons I have in mind include Athens (Greece), Paris (France), and Hamburg (Germany). Hopefully these marathons will be checked off by the end of my 3-yr assignment here in Europe.

20-26 Oct
Mon: big fat zero
Tues: another big fat zero; lots of stretching and core exercises
Wed: whopping 16 minutes of slow easy running; more stretching and core
Thur: enjoying the time off
Fri: 30 minutes of very slow and easy running
Sat: 20-mile easy bike ride
Sun: 30 minutes of very slow and easy running

Weekly Mileage: ~10 miles

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Amsterdam Marathon - Race Report

During the last week leading to the marathon my legs and body were feeling great, fresh and recovered. I knew I was set to go. It was just a matter of getting to the start line and praying for some nice weather. The weather at start time was forecasted to be overcast, 52 degrees (F) and winds at 11-13mph. I was a bit worried about the winds.

The Amsterdam Marathon starts and finishes inside the Olympic Stadium (Amsterdam hosted the 1928 Olympics). The runners run about half a lap of the track before exiting the stadium and into the streets of Amsterdam. When the gun went off I immediately tried to settle into the right pace. I was anxiously waiting for the 1st kilometer mark to see how I was doing with pace. My goal pace coming into the race was to run sub-6:00 pace, specifically between 5:56 - 5:59 (min/mile) pace, which is equivalent to 3:41 - 3:43 per kilometer. I hit the 1st km in 3:41 feeling very comfortable. The next three kilometers went by right at 3:40-41 (5:54-5:56 pace). I knew that I should be hitting the 5k mark right around 18:30. I started to get concerned when my watch read 18:05 because I still couldn't see the 5k mark and timing map ahead. I thought that maybe I had slowed my pace on the 5th km so I started to pick up my pace. About 150 meters later I finally reached the 5k mark and clocked 19:01. I knew that couldn't be right. I then asked a couple runners if they thought the 5k mark was correct and they said it was about 30 seconds too long. I found out after the race that the 5k marker and timing mat was placed 200 meters too far. So I ended up running 5.2k in 19:01 - 5:53 pace, definitely not my planned pace.

Shortly after crossing the 10k mark in 36:37, I took in my first power gel. For the first time in all my marathons I took in a power gel this early in the race. I normally take in my first gel around mile 10 or at the half-marathon mark. This time I think I planned this energy gel thing out perfectly. I carried 4 gels taking in one at each of the 10k mark (i.e. 10k, 20k, 30k) and the last one at about the 38k-39k mark.

I was cruising along running my own race, and not with a pack, until I reached the Amstel River around 12k. I was now running into the wind. I decided it was time to run with a pack so that I could draft off someone. The only problem was that I wasn’t too close to any runner. There was a pack about 50 meters behind me and about 3 runners 15 meters ahead. I tried to make my way up to the three runners but that seemed to take forever. By the time I got closer to them I reached the halfway mark, which I crossed in 1:17:34. I honestly was a bit surprised to see 1:17:xx. At that point I could see more runners ahead, which motivated me to catch up to them. I’d focus on one runner, catch him, then focus on another runner and catch him too. I did this from the halfway mark to about 30k. This catch up game was the reason behind a 36:11 (5:49 pace) 10k split (20k-30k).

I think I ended up paying the price for that last 10k split because fatigue started to settle in the legs with about 7k (~35k mark) to go. Not having anyone to run with made running even harder. The crowd was what really kept me fighting during the 35k to 40k stretch. The 41k mark was situated at a turn which then takes the runners through a half mile stretch of road before entering the Olympic stadium. When I made the turn at 41k I saw an Ethiopian female elite runner. I knew I was capable of catching her so I tried to pick up the pace. I caught her just as I made the turn toward the entrance of the Olympic stadium. When I entered the stadium I saw the 200M to go sign and the timing clock at 2:34:55. I already knew it was a PR, but I didn’t want to settle for just a PR. I wanted the PR to be as low as possible so I gave it my all. I ended up running the last 1.2km in 4:24 (5:54 pace). Finishing time was 2:35:37 (5:56 pace), 43rd Overall. It was an awesome feeling finishing the marathon in the historical Olympic stadium. I am extremely proud to be a sub-6:00 marathoner. Here are video clips of me finishing the race and crossing the various 5k splits. Splits below.





5.2 Km




10 Km




15 Km




20 Km




1/2 Marathon




25 Km




30 Km




35 Km




40 Km




42.2 Km



Sunday, October 19, 2008

Amsterdam Marathon: 2:35:37 (PR)

I had a very good race running 2:35:37 (5:56 pace), 43rd place overall. It was a PR of 2min and 39sec. Results are posted here. I had a good chance of running sub-2:35, but there was lots of wind out there and I found myself running alone for a long stretch in the late stages of the race. My splits for the halves were 1:17:34 and 1:18:03 respectively. Race report to follow soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Excited and Nervous

It's hard to believe that race day is only a few days away. I'm excited but also nervous at the same time. Today, I ran my last tune-up workout for the marathon, cruise intervals of 4 x 1K with 200m recovery. Splits for the 1K's were 3:20, 3:15, 3;17, & 3:16. It was tough to hold back because the legs were feeling fresh and light. I think this tapering phase, or peaking phase as McMillan calls it, has gone very well. I've decreased the volume but maintained the intensity, which I beleive has kept my legs from feeling stale or flat from the significant reduction of mileage. All that remains now are a few days of short and easy runs, then it's game on!

The Amsterdam Marathon will be my first big marathon race since the 2006 Rocket City Marathon, almost two years ago. I did run Grandma's Marathon back in June; however, I pretty much ran it as a longggg run because I only had about 4 weeks of training and was coming off an injury. I was not able to run a marathon in 2007 because I spent the entire year (and 1/4 of 2008) in Iraq. This weekend's marathon will get me back on track with running a marathon or two each year. Hopefully, faster times too. Marathon history here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

One More Week Till Race Day

Just one week remains before I toe the line at the ING Amsterdam Marathon. This week's taper went very well. The legs are starting to freshen up with the decrease in mileage. Today, I ran the normal "last Sunday workout" before race day. The workout was 12 miles with the last 6 miles at about marathon pace. From the track I ran 3 miles easy out and back in the city of Sittard. After averaging 6:42 pace for the first six miles I continued on the track running the remaining six miles at 5:57, 5:48, 5:55, 5:54, 5:55, & 5:49. The pace was a few seconds faster than what I consider marathon pace, but the body and legs felt comfortable. I think this week will be the toughest as it is normally the time when self-doubt creeps in.

06-12 Oct

Mon: 6M at 7:01 pace
Tues: 8M at 6:55 pace including 6 x :30 strides with 1' easy
Wed: 11M at 6:32 pace including 3 x 2K (6:59, 6:53, 6:52) with 400m recovery
Thur: AM - 5M at 7:09 pace; PM - 5M at 6:55 pace
Fri: 5M at 7:10 pace
Sat: 7M at 6:55 pace
Sun: 12M at 6:18 pace including last 6 miles at ~MP; last 6M at 5:57, 5:48, 5:55, 5:54, 5:55, & 5:49.

Weekly Total: 59 miles

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The tapering begins

I had a very good last long run today. I ran to the Linderhof Palace, 9 miles one way, from my hotel. Not only was it awesome running on the trails, the scenery of the mountains was picture perfect. It snowed in the mountains a couple days ago, so it made for a nice scenic run. A few times during the run I almost ran off the trail because my eyes would get locked in to the white mountain peaks. The run itself went very well. I averaged 6:09 pace for the last 9 miles and 6:27 pace for the whole run. I'll officially begin my taper.

29 Sep - 05 Oct

Mon: AM - 4M easy at 7:28 pace; PM - 8M at 7:00 pace (12M total)
Tues: 10.5M at 6:41 pace including 10 x 1' hard/easy.
Wed: 3.1M very easy at 7:21 pace
Thur: AM - 5.4M at 7:07 pace; PM - 12M at 6:26 pace with 2 x 2.5M tempo (14:24, 14:22); (17.4M total)
Fri: 10M at 6:42 pace
Sat: 8M at 7:00 pace
Sun: 18M at 6:27 pace; last 9 miles at 6:09 pace

Weekly Total: 79 miles

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Feeling the effects of altitude

As I was on an easy run on Monday I could feel that my breathing was a bit discomforting, the pace somewhat slower and the heart-rate about 10 bpm higher than normal. I was beginning to think that something was wrong. A few miles into the run my eyes and mind drifted away taking in the sights of the surrounding mountains. It was at that point in which I realized I was running at a higher altitude. The elevation here in the lower part of Oberammergau is 2800ft, a significant difference compared to the 300ft elevation of the area I live in in the Netherlands.

The week so far:
Tuesday was a 10 mile run with 10 x 1' strides. I usually get down to about 4:40-4:45 pace toward the end of the minute strides, but because of the altitude I could only manage to get the pace down to about 4:53. It's obvious that the half-mile high elevation has an effect on the body. On Wednesday morning I only put in 3 miles because I had planned to run more in the afternoon. However, I forgot that I was taking a trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, so the planned 6-8 miles did not happen. Today was a double with an easy five in the morning and twelve in the afternoon which included 2 x 2.5M at tempo pace. Because of the altitude I tried to run at the same effort, instead of pace, as last week's 3-mile tempos. I averaged about 5:45 pace (14:24, 14:22) for the 2.5M tempos. The remainder of the week will be easy running to reach 75 miles.