Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Weekend

I took a goose egg on Friday. I'm not really worried about it because I still was above 60 for the week without Friday's run. It's taper time, anyway. I suppose I could have squeezed in a run at about 1:40 or so. But there was this ball game going on at that time!

Saturday, Matt and I went over to Monte Sano to run the first half of the Mountain Mist course. I love running trails! It's definitely more challenging! I didn't take any food with me on the run and bonked as bad as I've bonked in a LONG time. Lesson learned. Also, all the climbing and descending have my legs a little sore today.

I look forward to getting prepared for Mountain Mist. My expectations are not very high for that race. I haven't trained for technical trails or hills at all, and that race has plenty of both. I've been focused on relatively flat road miles getting ready to BQ at Rocket City. Therefore, MM will definitely humble me, but I'm very excited about the challenge.

Today, Carl, Lanier, and I did the usual 10 mile loop in Athens. I'm still loving having that as a fixture on my calendar. I'll probably take Dec. 13 off, though! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Trail Run

I needed to work up an appetite for the turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie today. So, I took advantage of a day off of work and a flexible schedule to drive over to Monte Sano and get in a 10 mile trail run.

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday! I get to spend time with family, count my blessings (which are really innumerable!), relax with time off from work, eat good food, watch football, and nap. It's a time to contemplate, visit, remember, and be thankful (though being thankful should be a daily habit).

With Christmas, there is just so much stress that I don't enjoy it. There's the stress of shopping and awkward gift giving. There's the stress of not observing Christmas as a religious holiday like most people do. I would honestly rather skip Christmas altogether. I'd almost rather work that day. Work is less stressful!

Before getting angry with me and questioning my reverence for God and his Son, here is my explanation about Christmas. I don't know of any evidence that Jesus was born around December 25. I don't find any evidence of Christians in the New Testament observing an annual celebration of the birth of the Messiah. I am aware of no commandment in the New Testament for an annual ritual honoring the birth of Christ. I don't believe God forgot to tell us to do that. I believe He has given us all the instruction we need in His word, and He left that out. Therefore, I'm bound by my conscience to attach no religious significance to that day. And if I did, I believe I would have a very difficult time truly separating that from our culture's materialistic commercialism (something else that I'm not fond of) that centers around the same day.

If you attach religious significance to December 25, I'm not condemning that based on Romans 14:5-6. (The covetousness and graven images that often accompany it are another story.) I'm giving my explanation to hopefully spare myself of some of the righteous indignation that I often receive when I mention that I don't like Christmas.

Oh, back to the unimportant topic of running... I need to get some trail runs in before Mountain Mist. However, I'm trying to adhere to the specificity principle and remain focused on road miles for Rocket City Marathon. So, I'll probably do a couple more easy trail runs before the marathon, but stay on the roads for the most part. Today definitely qualifies as an easy trail run.

After the marathon, I'll really need to hit the rocky, hilly trails. Mountain Mist would destroy me if it were next weekend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

VO2 - 5x600m - One Last Time

Matt came over to do our 9 mile run with a VO2 workout mixed in. We did a pre-dawn 5 mile easy run to the Athens High 400m track. It sure is good to have a partner for these runs!

As we started, I noticed that my right knee was pretty sore. That started yesterday during some strides that we were doing at the end of an easy run. After a mile or so, it loosened up, and I didn't notice it at all during the track repeats.

We did 5 x 600m repeats with a 200m recovery jog in between. I'm always surprised by how hard this workout feels.
  1. 2:02 (yeah, I don't know why I did that.)
  2. 2:08
  3. 2:05
  4. 2:05
  5. 2:04
Again, the level of effort felt very hard for those, but my heart rate showed a different story. I suppose that is because of the cold weather. Yeah, it was colder than I expected this morning and I wished for another layer and gloves and a beanie.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday AM Run

Today I met Carl to do our regular 10 mile loop through Athens. I ran the 2 miles from my house to the start and then the 2 miles back home afterward to get in almost 14 for the day. Hmmm. The first day of the 3 week taper starts with 14 miles? Yep. Taper doesn't mean stop running!

This morning's run was a good one. There's something about running in the rain that I like. The rain felt good, if 48F rain can feel good!

I could have done without the east wind driving the rain in our face during the last mile or so. Carl was telling me that there's a good chance that there will be a north wind in my face on race day. So now I've practiced it a bit. The effort definitely felt harder than the pace into the wind.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last Big One

Schedule Transition
The schedule called for a 22 miler today. This is the last big long run on the schedule. This is the last big mileage week on the schedule. The next 3 weeks are tapering for the big day. If I'm not ready now, I guess I won't be!

I do feel ready. I look forward to the taper. Before, I didn't really understand the taper and thought I was getting out of shape. I have lost confidence in previous tapers. Now, I understand that I won't lose fitness over the next 3 weeks. I'll be giving my body the opportunity to repair and adapt to the training I've put it through over the past 15 weeks.

Today's Run
It was a tough one today. Today's run put me over 80 miles for this week. My legs are tired. I had a hard week of training following a good effort in the Huntsville Half Marathon. I had no partner, so I knew I'd have to gut it out and be my own motivation.

I'd like to say that this was an easy one and that I was comfortable the whole time. But that's not true! I really toyed with the idea of quitting at about 15 miles. My heart rate was well under control, but my legs were just dead. I didn't want to go any more! Then, I remembered that this was the last one. Gut it out! I'll have at least that strong of an urge to stop on race day, so I had to overcome. And I did.

Based on the advice of Eric C., I ran the last 6 at marathon pace. Here are the splits.
  1. 8:37
  2. 8:10
  3. 8:13
  4. 8:02
  5. 8:09
  6. 8:08
  7. 8:00
  8. 8:05
  9. 8:06
  10. 8:05
  11. 7:39 (I didn't mean to run it this fast. Don't know what happened.)
  12. 7:53
  13. 7:53
  14. 8:11
  15. 8:22 (See, I wanted to QUIT!)
  16. 8:10
  17. 7:15
  18. 7:09
  19. 7:06
  20. 6:55 (Hmmm. Need practice to avoid these.)
  21. 7:14
  22. 7:09

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mid Week 25k

Another mid-week 15 miler? Only one more!! These have clearly been the "hair on the chest" workouts of the program. A 15 miler isn't that bad, but a 15 miler the day after a tempo run or after a VO2 workout is tough. To do one of these, I have to get up EARLY. It takes 2 hours, minimum. And after the early start and 2 hour workout, I have to be able to function at a high level of concentration for the rest of the day at work.

I'm glad those are done!

It's not so easy to find someone who's willing to hit the pavement an hour before dawn and run 15 before work. But I found one! I met Ragnar teammate Justin at the CRR start. We did the 10k course twice and the 5k course once for 15+ miles. We did the 5k loop at marathon pace.

Nice start to a Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


6 x 1200 with 400m recovery jogs. That's hard. It sounds hard, and it is hard! I probably dreaded this workout more than any other yet. I didn't have a partner this morning which made the workout tougher. I wanted to skip and mail this one in! I mean, I had a good race Saturday. Don't I deserve to skip a tough one? But off to the track I went in the misty yuck.
  1. 4:32
  2. 4:28
  3. 4:28
  4. 4:27
  5. 4:29
  6. 4:30
I could definitely feel the effects of Saturday's race. My legs were tired. The good news is that aerobically, I felt like I could go harder, but my legs were just dead. Those splits are as fast as my legs would go.

I had to talk myself into those last two. I mean, 4x1200 is a good workout, isn't it? I'm glad I gutted this one out. Could I have done one more? I don't know, but I'm glad I didn't have to!

Tomorrow is the last mid-week 15 miler. This week is it. It's taper after this week. I told myself that over and over to get through today's workout.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Huntsville Half - More Details

Huntsville Half Marathon results have been posted. Overall results and Age Group results are at the HTC Website.

This was a very difficult week for me. I was travelling for business all week and had 5 hours or less of sleep almost every night. I put up my first goose egg in over six weeks on Tuesday, and I was forced into another bagel on Friday. Perhaps the reduced mileage gave my legs some extra spring, but that was more than made up for by the mental and over physical fatigue from the work stress and the lack of sleep. I wasn't as ready for this race as I wanted to be.

I was not in my own bed Friday night, and I woke up every hour on the hour. Even fatigued, I was able to wake up and get my system worked out before the race. I rode over with Jeff Mooneyham (Congrats on smashing your 5k PR, Jeff!) and Jon Smith (Congrats on your first half, Jon!). We got there in plenty of time for Mark and I to do about a 2.5 mile warm up. With the delayed start (15 minutes), though, I pretty much cooled back down before the race start!

The First 5k
The first 5k heads north and loops through the neighborhoods near the start. Mark ran this with me. I had forgotten how rolling those were! My real goal for this race was to break 1:30. I believe I'm in better shape than that, but I was fatigued. I was just going to go out at 6:45 and see what happened. That would give me some wiggle room for a 1:30, and wouldn't be too aggressive. I really believe that 6:30-6:35 is where I should have been running. I hit those miles in 6:42, 6:49, and 6:43. Spot on target. It really felt easy.

On to the Greenway
After the first 5k, Mark backed off and wished me well. He's been battling a cold this week, and just didn't quite have his air back from that. I'll be glad when he's over this crud. We were in a spot between a few packs. When he backed off, I started picking out packs to join and pass.

First was a pack of 5 or so running together about 15 seconds ahead of us. As I joined them, there was no conversation. I could tell by how everyone in this pack was breathing that I wouldn't be with them long. I passed them one by one and I was ahead of this pack by the 4 mile split.

I had a sizable distance to cover to reach the next pack. I didn't join them until about the 5.25 mile mark. There were 3 runners in this pack. Everyone seemed to be working a little harder than I was, so I figured I'd leave this pack, too. There was some nice conversation in this pack. In this pack was Brett Wilks. I didn't know him, but he introduced himself, and we ended up leaving the other two runners behind before turning on the greenway . I really enjoyed the visit with him during this stretch.

6:50, 6:39, and 6:47.

Out the Greenway and Back
Brett and I stayed together along the greenway. After passing Mile 6, I noticed that we were catching a couple of Fleet Feet racers. I was worried that I must be running too fast! Brett recognized one of them as Conrad Meyer. We passed by before mile 7.

Approaching the aid station, I heard several people cheering for me! I recognized Madelyn Patton and Joey Butler working the aid station. Just beyond the aid station I saw a friend from work, Doug Fravel and his son Matthew, cheering me on. Brett took aid and I didn't, so I opened up a bit of a lead on him here. It seemed like forever to the turnaround from here!

After the turnaround, I saw so many people cheering for me by name. So many reached out and gave me high fives along the way. This really encouraged me and I started to increase the effort a little and picked off at least 3 people on the way back. I remember seeing Mark F., Glen, Ronnie, Phillip, Eric C. (pacing), Linda S. (pacing), Tim Murray (congrats on your first half!), Ragnar teammate Eric Fritz and his wife Casey, Ragnar teammates Shawn, Christie, and Elle, former manager Bob Vasse, and sometimes Sunday running buddy Mark York.

6:49, 6:43, 6:42, and 6:40

The Last 5k
I knew that I felt way too good to only have a 5k left. I should have dropped the pace about now, but I still lack the courage. I had a pack of two picked out. I caught them on Cheney Thompson and passed by fairly quickly. there was another pack of two ahead. Catching them would take a little more effort, but I did before the 11 mile split. With a significant lead on us was a guy in red. I told these guys that I thought we could catch him. One said, "I'm tired!" I said, "You should be. It's mile 11!" I said that I was going after him and he said go ahead and didn't come with me.

I later learned that this guy in red was Patrick Fagerman racing for 1st Place Athletics. I knew it would be a challenge to catch him because he was not coming back to me. I took a little aid that barely slowed me down, but set my eyes on Patrick. Up ahead, I saw another pack of 2 faltering. I passed them. Before the 12 mile split, I saw Marty Clarke struggling. I'm not sure what went wrong with him today, because he is MUCH faster than me. I tried to encourage him to join me to the end, but he encouraged me to go ahead and finish fast up the hill. Thanks for the encouragement!

The guy who was running with Conrad Meyer on the greenway came zooming by me just after I passed Marty. I think it may have been Dennis Fuchsberger, but I'm not sure.

There was one more guy between me and Patrick. I later met him. His name was Luca Massetti and he was on business from Rome, Italy and ran this race while in town! He was a super nice guy and I enjoyed chatting with him. I passed Luca en route to Patrick. Patrick did not let me go. He stayed on my right shoulder. He's clearly a more experienced racer than me, and it showed. Luca gave a little chase, too. Patrick and I could see Dennis (?) ahead and he said, "I think we can get him." He passed by me, and I gave chase, too. This last mile battle among Dennis, Patrick, Luca, and me was the most exciting that I've ever been in. Patrick truly almost caught Dennis. I gave it all I had, but Patrick had more. While I was gaining on him, he was recovering. When Patrick and I gave chase to Dennis, Luca stayed a little behind. I came in third in this 4 way battle, and I now have a taste of racing others instead of just racing the clock.

I was truly giving it all I had in this battle, and I need to work on my pure speed and my ability to ignore fatigue with the end in sight. With experience, I'll perform better in those battles, but it was FUN!!!

6:37, 6:44 (uphill), 6:13 (!?!?!, see what a chase will do!), and 1:07 (0.18 by my watch, a 6:10 pace).

I'm pleased with the finish time. One thing I know is that I have a lot of room to improve in my racing skill. I'm working hard and getting faster, but I need to race smarter. I should have run 6:35 miles early. I really believe I could have held that pace. I may not have had as fast a finishing mile, but I would have had a better overall time.

With a quality diet and quality rest the week before, I'm feeling pretty good about my ability to Boston qualify at Rocket City Marathon this year.

Again, thanks to all the volunteers and HTC for putting on this quality event!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Huntsville Half Marathon

I don't have much time to write, but I wanted to do a quick post about today's race.

First, I want to congratulate my Sunday morning running buddy Carl Smith for winning the Heroes 5k today! Nice job Carl!

There was a record turnout for the Huntsville Half Marathon today. I can't imagine how overwhelming it is to direct a race that balloons up like this one has. GREAT JOB to the RD and volunteers today. It was an AWESOME race and other than a late start, it went without a hitch.

I ran a 1:28:13. I believe I can run faster than that. I started too conservatively. That's just what I do. Maybe one day I'll lose the fear of blowing up and start fast and hang on.
  1. 6:42
  2. 6:49
  3. 6:43
  4. 6:50
  5. 6:39
  6. 6:47
  7. 6:49
  8. 6:43 (I realized that I was feeling better than I should.)
  9. 6:42
  10. 6:40
  11. 6:37
  12. 6:44
  13. 6:13
  14. 1:07 (Actually 0.17 miles by my watch.)
I'm very pleased with that effort, but I know I'm faster than that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

VO2 - 5x600m - Again

5x600m. It seems easy on paper. I mean, I just ran 20 with 14 at marathon pace. Last week I did 6 x 1000m repeats. 5 x 600m repeats would be easy, right? It only sounds easy! It hurt.

Because of my work schedule, I had to fit the VO2 workout in today. I should be able to get the miles in this week, but I wanted to get this workout in early so that I can do easier workouts through the week and be prepared for Huntsville Half Marathon this weekend. I'm going to be tired enough from the work week that I have in store that I need to at least have fresh legs.

Matt came over and we ran over to the Athens High 400m track to do our workout, a 5 mile warm up, repeats, and a 2 mile cool down.
  1. 2:08
  2. 2:07
  3. 2:05
  4. 2:05
  5. 2:06 (Matt ran it in 2:00 flat. Amazing! I couldn't keep up!)
I really almost puked after the 4th one. I'm glad I didn't eat breakfast before the workout! I haven't yet convinced myself that it'll be ok if I throw up, so I back off when I feel it coming on. I kinda hope I keep that mentality.

After the workout was over, I couldn't help thinking that it was fun. I didn't think so during, but after, yeah, it was fun. Running fast is fun.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tough Week

I just finished what is probably the toughest week of the schedule. The big workouts this week were a 15 mile medium long run, a 6 x 1000m VO2 workout, and a 20 mile long run with 14 miles at marathon pace. This was also my peak mileage of my life. Yesterday's run put me very near 86 miles for the week (85.90).

Yesterday's run was a pretty good confidence boost. Matt and I drove over to Huntsville to run these miles on the course. I need practice on the course. I want no surprises on race day. I had a slow start because my body wasn't yet ready to run. I had to stop a couple of times early. Once my system had everything worked out, I had a very strong run.

Once we hit marathon pace, it felt very sustainable. The plan called for 20 total with 14 at MP. We went more like 22 miles and I did about 15.5 at MP. I certainly could have continued at that pace for at least another mile or two. That's not to say that it was easy or that it didn't hurt. But the idea of running 26.2 at that pace did not seem out of reach.

One thing I've discovered about marathon pace is that it feels easier to find when I'm tired. Early in a run, I struggle to hit it. I'm either too fast or too slow. I need some practice hitting it with fresh legs. Late in a run, it almost feels natural.

Today, I did the usual 10 mile loop in Athens with Lanier. He was feeling good today, so we did a few low 7:00s at the end of the run. It was a fun run in great weather. I was surprised by how good I felt after yesterday's run.

I hope to stay healthy and injury free for 5 more weeks!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

VO2 - 6 x 1000

Matt came over and we ran over to the Athens High track. We did a 5 mile warm up and then hit the track for the hard part of the workout. 6 x 1000 repeats. The goal was 3:45 with 300 m jogs for rest.

1. 3:46
2. 3:47
3. 3:41
4. 3:41
5. 3:40
6. 3:35 (gotta finish strong)