Age 1 – Running Career Review

December 18, 2010

My first year of running was a 0 to 26.2 in 5 months, not the smartest way to start running but it worked out. My second year was a collection of random happenings. After the 3M half marathon in 2003 I ended up doing track work for the first time, with Al’s Ship. The group met twice a week on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, one day was track work and the other hills. This was my first “speed work”, I don’t even remember what it was I did back then but I do remember getting injured a month and a half into it. It was my first encounter with shin splints and really not a surprise given my legs just weren’t ready for the sudden introduction of hard track and hill work. After three weeks off and some physical therapy I was back running and went right back to running to the track and hill work, with Superfeet in hand.

I can’t believe I used super feet. It seemed to be the solution de jour at Runtex those days. Shoes and superfeet. In hindsight I really should have worked on developing the strength I needed instead of putting superfeet into my shoes. The next thing was training for the 2004 Austin Marathon and I decided to train with Austin Fit. There was some sort of time trial I think I was in the “green group”, not the fastest group but the next one down I think for people looking at 3:30 or so marathons. I ended up doing the distance challenge, and raced every race with my group … so at 3M … injury … bummer. I took three complete weeks off, ran the Friday before the marathon and then decided to run the marathon. And it was fine, I ended up running a 3:27 which was nice PR. When I was with Austin Fit I was impressed by the continuous reminders to only run two a breast on town lake trail. I just wish people would heed that advice today … every group … it’s annoying as hell seeing 3 to 5 people running like they own the whole damn trail. That’s the end of that rant.

After the Austin Marathon I decided I wanted some more serious training than Austin Fit and looked up RunTex University, and that summer joined Rogue (which was a RunTex spin-off) to train for the Chicago Marathon in 2004. So that was pretty much it for my second year of running.

12 to 24 Months PRs

  • 1/2 Marathon – 1:30:25 (27 minute PR)– 3M Half Marathon
  • Marathon – 3:27:17 (30 minute PR) – Austin Marathon

12 to 24 Months Lessons Learned

  1. Doing too much, too hard, too early will get you hurt.
  2. Don’t race all the time, you’ll get hurt.

Age 0 to 12 Months – Running Career Review

December 12, 2010

Dove Bar ... mmm Ymmmy

In running terms I was born in the summer of 2002. My roommate and a friend of mine had been going for runs for a couple of months. Each time they’d goad me on to join them, I’d sit on the couch with the T.V. on with Dove bar in hand. Mike and Adnan finally got the better of me one day, much to their surprise and off we went. It was a 2 mile run I think, and my only surprise was I didn’t feel like I was going to die after the effort. My friends rightly thought that would be the end of it, so did I. My history of sticking with physical activity till that point was pathetic.

After this 2 mile run I must have lost my mind but I actually kept running. I decided to drive down to town lake and run. At this point I lived up off Wells Branch so this wasn’t a short drive but for three days a week for the next two weeks I drove down and ran around the 3 mile loop. Again, I didn’t die. That was the measure of my success. I shared this wonderful news with friends at work and heard the following from Carolyn, “Stephanie and I are going to train for a marathon do you want to run with us?”. Not know what the hell a marathon is I said “Sure, I’ll train with you, we’ll see what happens”. Oh to be young and naive again.

Get Some Good Moisture Wicking Gear

The three of us decided to try out a training group, Mixon Henry I think. We got there and it was all these fast looking people running 10 or 13 miles. Remember at this point I’ve run 3 miles at most, ever in my life, and very recently. This run was for us to see if we liked the group, it ended up being a 7 mile run for us through Scenic. I had no idea what I was doing. We get done with the run, Carolyn looks me up and down and informs me I need to get some better clothes (not cotton) and shoes (where my toes aren’t trying to pop out of the front). A trip to Academy was made. We didn’t quite mesh with this group so the three of us decided to find a program online (Hal Higdon) and worked through the beginner program. I remember during those days I drank a lot of gatorade and my recovery food was a big ass serving of Jamba Juice … sugar and more sugar. It’s a wonder I made it through my first marathon.

There was much running done on town lake, round and round we’d go. I think we usually ran 9 minute paces and I’d feel good towards the end. There was one run where it was pouring rain, I had a top on that weight 3 pounds that once it got soaked was closer to 7, it was 70 degrees so I don’t know what I was thinking. It was the longest run, close to 18 I think and we ran from town lake close to 183 along Shoal Creek and back.

The three of us decided to run the Chicago marathon. My first marathon, my first race. We were going to run together but around mile 3 we got split up, I was on the left side, Carolyn and Stephanie on the right. Stephanie tripped at this point and when I made it back to the right hand side I never found them. I kept going, didn’t know anything about taking Gus but managed to finish right under 4 hours. It was kind of shocking going from not running a mile to a marathon in 5 months.

At the finish we were supposed to meet at the “V”. I of course logically assumed it’s where the road forks into a “V”, what the hell is the runners meeting area. So here I am at the V, climbing on top of the statues to find them but nobody is around. I make my way to a cab and back to the hotel. Carolyn and Stephanie had a good laugh at my expense as I described my 20 minutes of waiting and searching at the “V”, asking the police man about the “V” and if I was at the right spot.

After the marathon I didn’t run for … well that was October 2002, the 3M marathon was January 2003. So for three months I didn’t run and then decided to run the 3M marathon. I was extremely sore after that stupid act, took another week off and then got back into running regularly. That is pretty much it for my first year running, expect a post on my career between my first and second running birthday soon.

0 to 12 Months PRs

  • Marathon – 3:57:07 – Chicago Marathon
  • 1/2 Marathon – 1:49:11 – 3M Half Marathon

0 to 12 Months Lessons Learned

  1. Cotton isn’t the best thing for running. Dri fit and moisture wicking material is totally worth the money.
  2. Don’t go cold turkey on exercise, it’s painful to get back into the grove.

Elite or not? What separates us?

December 11, 2010

Apart from the obvious … a “fucking huge VO2-max” as some would say there’s quite a bit. There are many things but one has to be the mental toughness that comes from a type of pressure us mortals can’t experience. Before everybody get’s up in arms saying “he doesn’t respect age groups”, “he think I don’t put in the time” … hold your horses. I have tremendous appreciation and respect for the commitment and effort people put into training while keeping their home and work commitments at play.

That said there’s one mental aspect that clearly separates Elite’s from Mortals … yes that’s my term for the rest of us 🙂 I hadn’t ever quite felt that difference until I read this recent article in runners world. As the article described the mental state and focus of runners like Dathan Ritzenhein I couldn’t help but think about how different the mental state of elite and competitive runners is. What’s it like to feel like everything is on the line based on how you’re going to do that day? It was the same feeling reading Meb’s book (Run to Overcome), what is the effect of knowing if you perform on the day there’s 50k on the line for example? No matter what I do there is no way I’ll have that mental pressure or drive … no way. That isn’t to say a race isn’t a big deal or a time goal isn’t something I really want but it’s just not the same. So what if I don’t meet my goal this race? I can run another marathon in 6 months … yes you might say that’s the same for an Elite athlete but those performances are what keep their sponsors and there’s a shelf life to the running career. I never could understand why Asia for example when she was running at UT felt so much pressure, well she was on scholarship so she needs to deliver, just like I have to deliver at work and get stressed about being behind or doing a poor job.

Anyway, it was fun reading that article and Meb’s book to get a glimpse of the goals and minds of Elite athletes. As for us Mortals there are things we do to try to keep the mental pressure on us. The first is training with a group. There’s nothing like your fellow “type A” runners to keep you driven and accountable. The second is publicly sharing your goals. Putting  a goal out there in public … well it’s out there and everybody knows it. If you deliver you deliver, if you don’t you don’t. It’s a good way to force yourself to not give up and give everything you’ve got. I’m sure there are other ways to do this too. I definitely need to work on it, I tend to mentally not really get into training or racing … time to focus on that mental aspect for me.

Are you an ironman?

December 11, 2010

Be patient, the results will come

December 9, 2010

On the flight back from CIM this weekend I must have had 20 different thoughts and ideas go through my head as I tried to come to figure out the many things that enabled me to PR this weekend. One of them is definitely patience, as I was reading Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi. The relevant excerpt from his book is below (I recommend buying the book if you want to get whole excerpt and of course all the other great things in the book):

Meb: “I need to be doing what you are doing,”

Tergat: “Put in the time” “You’ve got to gradually increase your training … I could give you my workouts, and you might be able to hang with me for a day or a week, but eventually you would break down …”

I doubt I can say it any better. Here are two extremely talented individuals discussion something which is probably one of the greatest pitfalls for us more average runners run into. Getting fitter takes time and patience, and to be honest as you get fitter the patience, time and effort required to keep seeing incremental gains continues to grow.

The most common and most detrimental issue I’ve observed over the last two years lead to injury is when different element of an individual’s fitness don’t match up. After training consistently for a while I might find that my aerobic fitness has improved greatly, it’s “easy” for me to run 10 to 20 seconds faster a mile on every run. My breathing isn’t labored, I don’t feel tired during the day and so on. The problem comes in if my tendons, soft tissues and muscles haven’t caught up to my aerobic fitness. Maybe I need more strength in my hips, my quads, my feet … wherever the weakness might be running 20 seconds faster a mile will increase the pressures on these areas drastically. So there’s a good chance I’ll get injured, won’t be able to run and then lose some of the aerobic fitness I’ve spent so much time building. This has to be the most frustrating situation to be for a runner so it’s understandable that our impatience gets the better of us. The question each of us have to answer is what is the risk and can we just wait 6 months and what can we do to accelerate the development of the other half of our fitness. Maintaining this fine balance between the different things that all need to be in relative harmony to perform well is what makes training over the long-term an art and a science. In the end I know that consistent training over the long haul is more beneficial than spurts of focused training with forced injury in between … so be patient, stay balanced, YOU WILL GET FASTER.

An unexpected but happy ending – CIM 2010 Race Report

December 7, 2010

It would be an understatement to say I went into the race this Sunday with high expectations or an overly positive attitude. To the contrary, I was on the fence if I should even run the race. This training season had it’s problems and the last three weeks leading to the race were less than ideal. In the end the results are something I can be proud of.

CIM 2010 – The Results
2:48:30 Finishing Time
Two and a half minute PR from Portland time of 2:51:08 in 2009
Ten and a half minute improvement from time of 2:59:09 at CIM 2008

CIM 2010 – The Lead-up
This blog catalogs a lot of the details of the season, from the race preps, to my inability to stick with the little but critical things to a successful training season. The last three weeks included a 40 mile week (target of 70), a quad strain, getting married :), and getting the flu. Since both Asia and I were planning to race CIM I was going to Sacramento no matter what, but if I would start or not was going to be a late decision. My hydration plans from Wednesday through Saturday included a decent number of servings of Theraflu, I even had a half serving Sunday morning before the race. I knew Steve and Ruth would be on the course so if I felt poorly I’d just stop and hitch a ride with them. I was finally starting to feel better on Saturday afternoon and after Steve’s team meeting at 6 I decided I would go ahead and toe the line and execute to my original goal and plan when the season started … try and finish somewhere around 2:45.

CIM 2010 – The Plan
My plan for the race was in line with Steve’s recommendation for Team Rogue. It was broken up into three parts. The first half, miles 13 to 18 and 19 to the finish:

  • First Half – Run 5 seconds slower than MGP (6:23)
  • 13 to 18 – Run MGP (6:18)
  • 19 to 26.2 – Close

This plan should have put me somewhere between 2:45:05 and 2:47:00, as you know from what I ran this isn’t quite what I was able to achieve. Don’t get me wrong I’m ecstatic at my actual time but want to be honest with everybody that it wasn’t my goal. Yes I can rationalize my results and there are many very good reasons for it but my goal was to get under 2:47 for sure … so let’s say I’m happy and proud of my effort and results but have some unfinished business.

CIM 2010 – Toeing the Line
As we got to the start I had one thought going through my head, it was that both Asia and I come out of the day not getting sicker than we are. It was weird to only have that thought in my head. Guess it’s the perspective of battling a bunch of things the weeks leading up to Sunday.

CIM 2010 – The Race
CIM is a very well organized race (my CIM review from 2008 holds, actually the C- for the water stops is now a B+). At the start we were probably in the 5th or 6th row, which in hindsight was way too far behind. The start involved a lot of weaving and getting around people who … well really didn’t need to lined up with the women trying to get their trials qualifier with the 2:45 pace leader.

I was on plan for the first half. My overall time was 1:23:01 which was a 6:23 pace. Spot on and I was feeling decent. Somewhere between miles 10 and 15 the sun came out and I realized I was feeling a little drier than I’d like to. I decided to take my extra GU and thermolyte pills at this point, something I’m glad I did. Miles 13 to 18 the target was 6:18 pace, I ran this section in 31:42 which was 6:20 pace. Still not too bad given a close is just that, as hard as you can go and making up 10 seconds isn’t unreasonable. Well the close was anything but that. The last 8.2 miles took me 53:47 at an average pace of 6:34. After 19 miles my pace just kept slowing, my effort didn’t, I honestly felt like I was sprinting the last 1.2 miles but the pace after mile 25 was 6:40 🙂

I’d already passed the last spot I’d see Steve and Ruth (mile 18) so hitching a ride with them was a no-go. It was really now a question of giving up or not. At each mile I made an agreement with myself on my “evaluation” criteria”. At mile 20 I realized I had two minutes to give to still finish under 2:50 so that was it. I made an agreement with myself that my pace started going over 6:40 I’d just stop. Each mile it felt like I was about to hit that point:

Mile 20 – 6:32
Mile 21 – 6:26
Mile 22 – 6:35
Mile 23 – 6:35
Mile 24 – 6:39
Mile 25 – 6:38
Mile 26+.2 – 8:00 (6:40 pace)

All those miles felt like I was running all out. My quads were burning and I went through attempts to surge and get my body out of the funk at every mile mark. My guess is I was running the first quarter mile of most of these miles closer to my MGP and then recovering and holding on for dear life for the rest. As I crossed the finish and the clock read 2:48 I was ecstatic, it was a great PR considering three days earlier I didn’t even know if I’d be able to run the marathon.

CIM 2010 – How the Hell?
After the race I have wondered how the hell I managed to run the time I did. Each of these probably deserve their own blog posts so this is just a list for now:

  • Consistency – I’ve been training with Team Rogue for two and a half years now and the accumulation over time and the 15 twenty plus mile runs early on this season have been a deposit I was able to claim some dividends on this weekend.
  • Will – This was a big part of Steve’s talk to the Team at the pre-race meeting. You just have to will it, it’s not about feeling bad in a race, you have to have the will to achieve your goal. Once I got on the line I think I did rely on my will … did it waver the last 8 miles, yes but it didn’t break.
  • Belief – This is really a matter of believing in the training we’ve all done as a team over the season and the years, it would be crazy to put in all these hours and not believe the effort will produce results.
  • Group based Training – There is no way I could perform at this level without the group based training I get from Rogue. It’s the programs put together by Steve, it’s having people to hold you accountable, it’s having people that push you to excel. There are too many of you to list, you know who you are so thanks for helping me this Sunday.

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