Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Daily Battle

Some days, just getting out the door is a battle. I love to run. I love to run fast. I love to run easy miles. I love to run alone. I love to run with friends. I love tempo runs. I love long runs. I love races. So, why is getting out the door a battle? Someone please tell me.

As a side note, the streak is over. It doesn't really bother me, either. I don't think I'm a candidate for a long running streak. I just have too much other stuff going on and I do like an occasional day off. I say that I like a day off, but I always find myself wishing I had run on days that I take off. Anyway...

Back to the out the door thing... This morning, I had to drag myself out of bed. Then, I got dressed and laced up my racing flats for some work on the track. There were at least three different times that I had to talk myself into leaving after I was dressed and ready. I just didn't want to walk out the door and take the first few steps. Finally, after wasting 15 minutes doing nothing but deciding whether or not I would run this morning, I hit the road and ran to the Athens High track.

This is how quickly things change. The schedule called for 6x1000m repeats at 5k pace. After the 3rd one, I was thinking, "Wow, this feels good. I like this. It's hard, but fun." After the 5th one I was thinking, "Really, do I only have one more to do? Maybe I should do 8 instead of 6." After the 6th and final one, I thought, "I'd love to do 2 or 3 more, but I'm out of time. I wish I hadn't wasted so much time talking myself into leaving this morning." How does one's mindset change so quickly? Oh yeah, 3:36, 3:32, 3:32, 3:33, 3:33, 3:26.

It's probably a good thing that I didn't do any extra. There's a small race this weekend, you know.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Seven Weeks

It's a little hard for me to believe that I only have 7 weeks left to prepare for the Albany Marathon. I'm excited. I'm nervous already. I really want to break 3 hours. I believe I'm in that kind of shape, but I have doubts. I've had about as close to a perfect training schedule as I could have had. I've hit almost all of my workouts. I've avoided injury. I've avoided illness. I've been able to do doubles. I've adhered to the recovery weeks in my schedule.

But... 6:50 per mile still seems fast to me. How do I get over that? Saturday, I did a 20 miler with 10 miles at marathon pace. I kept most of the miles in the 6:46 to 6:49 range. But a couple crept up to 6:56 and 6:57. It was such a struggle during the 19th mile. Granted, that run put me just over 80 miles for  the week, so I was running on tired legs. But shouldn't 6:50 feel easier than that? I just don't know.

Today I did the "easy" track workout. It's a 5x600m workout. It's easy enough to not wipe me out for the next day, but hard enough that I can't mail it in. I have to focus and finish. I did 2:09, 2:08, 2:05, 2:05, and 2:03. It felt great, and if I had time, I would have done 3 or 4 more even though the schedule called for only 5. Tomorrow calls for 15 miles. I'll try to do 10 or so of those at marathon pace. I have to get to where 6:50 feels something close to comfortable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Confidence Ebbs and Flows

I had a bad workout about 3 weeks ago. That combined with not much fast running had caused my confidence to ebb just a bit. After the RFH 50k and a good track workout and today's tempo run, my confidence is flowing again.  I hope to ride this flow for the next 8 weeks through Mountain Mist to the Albany Marathon.

Last week's workouts were 6x800m at 5k pace (2:47, 2:49, 2:47; 2:46; 2:47, 2:44) on Tuesday.  I followed that with repeats of Waterline on Thursday, then did some quarter mile hill repeats on Friday. I probably should not have done those hills on Friday, but the group was doing hills, and I let peer pressure get the better of me.

Today, I got revenge on the last poor tempo workout. The schedule called for 7 miles at tempo pace. I ran 7 miles at a 6:15 average pace and felt like I could have rattled off a couple more without exhausting myself. It felt GREAT! The splits were 6:13, 6:14, 6:15, 6:14, 6:14, 6:15, and 6:14. Sweetly consistent, and it really didn't feel hard.

For the past couple of marathon training cycles, I've really depended on this tempo workout to be a measuring stick. It comes about 8 weeks from the goal and I think it gives a pretty good indicator of the progress of marathon training. I've read and heard that in order to run a 3 hour marathon, your tempo runs need to be 6:30 pace or faster and not very uncomfortable. Today was 6:15 for 7 miles and not uncomfortable. In the past, I haven't been able to hold 6:30 for 7 miles and this workout has been a chore and not comfortable at all.

Man, I sure hope the injury bug stays away. I feel pretty good and a 3 hour marathon seems possible if I continue to have the good fortune I've enjoyed to this point.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 In Review

It's hard to believe that 2011 has passed! It was a very difficult year for me in a lot of ways. It also was a breakthrough year in some ways. Here's to 2012 being a better year!

Early Year
The year started off bad. I battled illness and a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the year. For some reason, I was sick more often than I ever had been. I had bronchitis, sinus infections, stomach viruses, and a struggle with depression that lasted most of the year. I slogged through the early months with much inconsistency and very little quality.

Boston was the greatest running experience that I have ever had. My family was so very supportive and excited for me for this event. Though I wasn't physically prepared for this race, it was perhaps the best race I have ever had. I recommend that all serious runners make whatever sacrifices are necessary to qualify and go to Boston. I wrote a two part recap of my Boston experience as well as a description of what went wrong in training.

A Tough Summer
This summer was really hot and humid. Early on, I let the heat along with my personal struggles get me down. I dropped my mileage and increased my quality. My body seemed to really respond to that much better than I expected. When the temps began to drop, so did my times and I was in the best 5k shape of my life by the time  Fall arrived. The one reason that the depression did not destroy my fitness is that it zapped my appetite. I wasn't running much, but I wasn't eating much, either. So, I made it through running 40-60% of my normal mileage without gaining any weight. Whew.

A Breakthrough Fall
The quality work through the summer was paying off! I struggled with the decision to race a fall marathon or not. I opted to push that out to early 2012. That allowed me to focus on 5k training, and I had a few breakthrough races in September and October. I broke 18 minutes in the 5k and 40 minutes in the 10k during those months. I was feeling fit, fast, and confident. Also, after making some very difficult changes, my personal struggles were getting smaller in my rear view mirror.

I leveraged this fitness to be a true contributor to our winning Ragnar Relay effort in November. November also saw my longest single run ever as I came in second overall in the  Dizzy 50s 40 mile trail run. From there, I launched into training for Albany Marathon on March 3 in Albany, GA. That's where I am now. I leveraged this fitness to run my best 50k ever at Recover From the Holidays 50k.

Highlights of 2011
I set a PR at every distance I raced this year. My 5k, 8k, 5 mile, 10k, and 15k PRs all fell. I did not race (though I paced) a marathon or half marathon. My highlights for 2011 are listed below.

  • 17:46 at Spooktacular 5k
  • 3 sub 18 5k efforts (Liz Hurley, Spooktacular, and Turkey Trot)
  • 58:58 15k at Monte Sano
  • Completed a 40 mile run
  • 38:01 10k at Rails to Trails 10k
  • Pacing the 3:30 group at Rocket City Marathon
  • A breakthrough 50k at RFH
I'm looking forward to 2012!