Defining your long run

September 25, 2010

I was grabbing lunch at work this week and ran into a runner at NI and we were talking about our training (my marathon training and his Ironman training). Somewhere along the way he mentioned long runs and how for his Ironman he isn’t really going to run much farther than 15 miles for his long runs, very different from the three 20+ mile long runs he used to do for marathon training. He made a point about the intent in his training for the Ironman, to survive the distance versus training for speed when focusing solely on the marathon. The risk of the higher mileage with all the additional training he has to do for the Ironman just makes longer runs impractical for him.

His comment about 3 long runs over 20 miles got me thinking about my last two years training with Team Rogue, a program Steve Sisson started at Rogue two summers ago. During my training for the Portland Marathon last year my log shows me running 10 long runs over 20 miles with a good deal at 22 or 24 miles. This season for CIM I should be around 15 long runs over 20 miles. 3 years ago I would have been amazed to run 3 long runs over 20 miles. It’s been interesting how at this point after the two years being on Team Rogue running 20 miles just seems normal, a down or recovery week results in a 16 or 18 mile long run on the weekend. This may sound crazy to others in training groups or designing their own training plans, but the results really have been great for me. It didn’t just happen overnight, it took me a while to realize there were many things I needed to do to train at this intensity.  It’s taken two years to be a this point where I feel like my body can handle it. The strength work, focus on nutrition, regular massages and icing have been essential to get to this point. The amount of discipline it requires to train at the intensity Team Rogue demands can be daunting and I often question just how long I want to keep it going. It’s difficult to think that after CIM this year I may not train with Team Rogue, there are many friends I see every other day that train at this level and just unplugging will be difficult. At least I know there are other training programs at Rogue that aren’t quite as demanding as Team Rogue I can slide into when I need a break and still be part of the community.

Oh did I forget to mention I got engaged last night. Well I did 🙂

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CIM training season in review – weeks 6 through 9

August 8, 2010

The first five weeks of the season was “a mixed bag“. The last four have been relatively similar but more consistent:

  • Week 6 (July 12) – 6 days of running, 73 miles, 7:30 average pace, 22 mile long run
  • Week 7 (July 19) – 7 days of running, 86 miles, 7:40 average pace, 21 mile long run
  • Week 8 (July 26) – 6 days of running, 70 miles, 7:30 average pace, 20 mile long run
  • Week 9 (Aug 2) – 6 days of running, 78 miles, 7:30 average pace, 20 mile long run

With any season it’s a challenge to just focus on yourself and your training. It’s really all you can control, what anybody else is doing or feeling is just that. Even with that knowledge it is difficult at times to wonder if I’m running too slowly given the faster paces a bunch of the crew is running. In the end I am where I am with my training and people may be getting faster and seeing the benefits of their close to two and half years of training. My 2:51 breakthrough race in Portland was great for me so this may be the breakthrough season for lots of others.

I feel a little better after looking at my log to see where my training is compared to a similar timeframe leading up to Portland last summer. Looking back to Portland training last year:

  • I was coming of an injury that prevented me from running the Boston marathon, this season was a relatively clean transition from Boston.
  • My average paces in the summer are around 10 seconds a mile faster this summer
  • I’m running an average of 15 miles a week more per week than I was the same time last summer
  • I do feel a more labored and tiered this year, of course my memory is not very clear about last year.

This could mean that I’m faster but it may not. Last year it wasn’t until the second race prep that I dropped my target for Portland to 2:50 so the first part of the season was relatively easier. This season may or may not see the same drop. I’ll just have to keep on taking it easy till Steve says it’s time to start pushing the paces and then I’ll know what the possibilities for the season are. It’s hard on group runs to not just leave it all out there on the road but the patience will pay off … it better pay off 🙂


A compairson of my training leading up to Portland 2009 and Boston 2010

April 3, 2010

During the race in Portland I ended up getting injured so the start of Boston training didn’t quite go that well. I had to take a couple of weeks off and many down weeks. When I did start building my base mileage it took a while and Team Rogue was starting the hill phase or were right around that phase. To keep getting my weekly mileage where it needed to be I kept my long runs at +20 miles. I wanted to see how the weeks leading upto Portland and Boston compare to each other in the terms of mileage and long runs (keep in mind that I’m filling in the next week for Boston 2010 since I haven’t run it yet.

For the 12 weeks leading up to the race (excluding the last week of the race itself):

  • Total Long Run Mileage
    • Portland 2009 – 230
    • Boston 2010 – 260
  • Total Mileage
    • Portland 2009 – 793
    • Boston 2010 – 790

So pretty comparable. For Portland I had 7 long runs over 20 miles and for Boston it’s 9 (mainly so I could get my mileage where it needs to be). Looks like both are pretty comparable in mileage as well as workouts. Let’s see what the race in two weeks holds.


Portland Marathon 2009 Race Report

October 5, 2009

2 Hours Before The Race

The race started at 7:00am an 8 minute walk from the hotel. Damon and I were rooming together and the alarm was set for 5:00 am (the phone and the hotel clock alarm). We’d laid out our clothes and everything was ready for race day and were going to meet some of the rest of the crew at 6:15 in the lobby to head out to the bag drop and start line. Pre-race breakfast was a bottle of vitamin water and two slices of bread with Nutella. The only thing really different from other long runs was the bottle of vitamin water. That was all done around 5:40. Then at 6:00 was the first pre-race GU and two thermolyte pills. My bag for the post race bag drop had a couple of layers for my upper body, a pair of cargo pants and my recovery drink. The temperature for the race was predicted to be in the upper 40s to lower 50s so race gear consisted of:

  • Race shorts, singlet, shoes, socks, GU & thermolytes
  • Watch, a standard stop watch that laps … no Garmin on race days for me
  • Throw away arm warmers (cut off tube socks), throw away gloves, running vest to keep warm pre start and throw away sweat pants (pair I’ve had with me since my time living in the UK … 16 years!)
  • Water bottle to avoid the rush at stops early in the race

Got down to the lobby at 6:10 and met up with a number of Team Roguers. Larry and I were both trying to great 2:50 but both decided a few weeks ago that we wouldn’t run together since we have very different running styles and race plans. We all made our way out of the hotel, quick left, then down 3rd street to the start. Larry and I started jogging half way there to warm up, found our way to the bag drop and then made our way to the start.

Start Line

As we got closer to the front we could see the pace group signs, pretty close to each other, and before we knew it we were all the way in the front, ahead of the 3:00 hour pace group and with a red tape in front of us, in front of that some empty space, then another red tape and the timing mats ahead of that. As we get up to the red tape one of the volunteers says, anybody running faster than 3:00 hours should come up in front of the first red tape. Larry and I look at each other and then make our way up. It’s very strange to be so far up front in a race. The Portland marathon doesn’t seem to attract the fastest folks apparently. It’s 6:30 and we need to warm up so we leave the start area, run around a block and then back to our spot. Slowly it starts filling up and the “elites” line up in front of the second red tape. It was a very strange feeling being in the 2nd row at the start of a marathon with 8000 people.

The Gun Goes Off

This was a bit of a cluster. The Portland Marathon has a “wave” start. Note that all the tape that was dividing people is now gone. Ok, I guess that makes sense. The wheelchairs go off and then of course most people assume the countdown for everybody else … NO that would not be the case. We were far enough in front to hear that the next start was for the elites only, everybody else would go a minute later. So the gun goes off again for the elites and probably 15 to 20 other people go along for the ride since the “wave” start was so confusing. One guy next to me gets pissed off, I’m like whatever, this is the least of my worries … I’m not wasting any energy getting worked up over this. Then the gun goes off for us.

And We’re Off

The start is almost a fifth to a quarter mile up-hill, followed by a hard right turn and decent. Damon, Muz and I had walked the start two days before so I knew what to expect and I wore my Garmin at that time to know where the quarter and half mile points were to gauge my pace initially.

The First Section: Miles 1 through 8

In my race plan (read here) I broke the race up into a five sections. The first section was intended to be at “MGP” effort for a 2:49:59 marathon which on a flat course would be 6:29 minutes/mile. Even though the first mile was net downhill I planned on not going faster than flat MGP pace since it was the first mile and I’d need to warm up. Overall the section worked relatively well, as I would have expected.

Miles 1 to 8

Miles 1 to 8

The hill between mile 2 and 3 was tougher than I expected but the second mile wasn’t as difficult as the course profile from the marathon web-site (which by the way is very misleading as far as what is really going on at many points in the course) so I was net 2 seconds off. Once the downhill section ended I had trouble getting back into pace until the end of mile 8 so lost some time overall in the section. I realized this but didn’t really worry about it, I figured it’s time I could try and make up later on if things work out, no point going crazy right now.

I dropped my running vest (an Austin distance challenge finisher vest from when I ran the Motorola Marathon in 2004) after the first mile, then the gloves and arm warmers right before mile 3. Thermolytes (2 pills) with my water bottle around 1.5 miles in (this was planned and written on my pace band as were all other planned times to GU and take termolytes) and then threw away the water bottle since there wasn’t much of a crowd in front of me.

Some of the highlights of this part of the course:

  • Saw Steve’s mom before mile 2 cheering us on.
  • On the turn up mile 2 I noticed my foot was slipping on the road. It had been drizzling and the road was wet and this was an early reminder to try and stay off the painted road surfaces and on the wetter and sliprier surfaces like concrete.
  • On the down hill, mile 4 to 6 saw Steve’s mom again as well as Julia, John and Trey
  • Got a bunch of “Go Kam”‘s from people on the side since the bib had “Kam” printed on it and also a few “G0 Team Rogue”‘s because of the singlet.
  • At the water stop at mile 6 to 7 the guy infront of me came to a complete stop, I yelled “Holy $#!t” weaved around him and unfortunately knocked into one of the girls handling out water. What is going on, this guy is running 6:30 paces and is STOPPING AT A WATER STOP!!!. Wait, now as I look at that mile it was 6:36, a few seconds off. Not sure if that was the reason or not but it did distract me a little.

The Second Section: Miles 9 through 13

This was the section where I planned to bank some time for the big hill between 16 and 18. This section had some up-hill so I was hoping to be faster than flat MGP for 4 of the miles.

Miles 9 to 13

Miles 9 to 13

Coming into this section I was 16 seconds off and coming out I was 32 seconds behind. It seemed like mile mark 9 was of to me, or I was breaking down. At mile 11 I felt good since I was able to pick up my pace and not really feel like I was going to crazy. What really hit me was the next uphill climb, it was a lot tougher and longer than I expected and I lost quite a bit of time there and was almost 40 seconds behind. BTW, I wasn’t really thinking in this much detail at this point. As long as I was within a minute of where I needed to be I felt I had a chance of breaking 2:50 so this was all still good.

In this section there were a number rail track to cross. My left foot got caught first and I started feeling some discomfort in the arch on my left foot, nothing to stop me running but something was tweaked. Then my right foot got completely caught, I stumbled and my foot came out and I kept going. On this second one I was grateful for some of my trail runs that taught me to be light on my feet and keep my feet relatively loose so there wouldn’t be too much damage if my foot gave way.

The Third Section: Miles 14 to 18

This section has the big hill and the goal was to each my effort back to a flat based effort. I expected to loose some time on the up-hill.

Miles 14 to 18

Miles 14 to 18

I felt good this entire section. I was within range of a couple of folks and just ran and tried to stay comfortable. Looking back it seems the build up to the hill and the hill were harder for me than I thought they were. When I ran the hill I felt great. I think I passed 10 people on that hill. After the hill and crest on the bridge nobody managed to pass me on the race which was pretty cool. The section overall was fine, I was still around 30 seconds off which was very reasonable to try and make up if I felt good. At this point I was thinking I just need to get back into my pace for a couple of miles and then see if I can push a little earlier than I planned to make up the 30 seconds.

Fourth Section: Miles 19 to 22

In this winding section through a neighborhood the original plan was to run it at MGP of 6:29. About a mile into this section I heard lots of cheering, the lead woman was right ahead of me. I did manage to pass here. After looking at some of the stats post marathon I passed 30 people in the last half of the marathon and nobody passed me … that was kind of cool. I think Damon passed 100 people!

Miles 19 to 22

Miles 19 to 22

This section is where the wheels came off. As I sated in my race plan I started the season at the end of April hoping to get over my injury ridden training season for Boston 2009 … which I ended up not running because of tendonitis and to try and break 2:55 in Portland. After the second race prep results and talking with Steve I decided to drop my target to 2:50. This is 10 seconds a mile faster which is a lot. Both the time and running aggressively and out of my comfort zone where my goals. Well I definitely managed to get out of my comfort zone. Mile 19 was a little off, and then slowly by mile 21 I was 10 seconds off pace. These were very uncomfortable miles, my legs weren’t responding, I felt some soreness and twitching in my quads and I felt like I was pushing my effort but was running slower and slower.

I was reminded of a few things at this point:

  • Steve knows I can enter my “cocoon” of comfort. My backoff plan was 6:40 pace which is what I was running. I told myself NO, you have to try.
  • I remembered Ruth’s text from the morning “Run like the wind” and all the positive comments from everybody else in the weeks leading up to the race and tried to push.

I relaxed, seemed like my GU and thermolytes from mile 20 were kicking in and Mile 22 was 6:32 so getting better and at this point I decided that with 2.2 miles to go I would go as hard as I could.

The Race to the Finish

This is where I planned to make up some time on the nice long downhill section.

Miles 23 to 26.2

Miles 23 to 26.2

The downhill mile 23 should have been blazing fast but I lost 20 seconds on it. The road curved around to the left my left foot hurt on every foot strike at this point and the downhill as well as the turn was aggravating it. I pushed as hard as I could but that’s all I had. My final GU and termolyte (of 6 GUs in the race and 5 sets of 2 pills of thermoloytes) from mile 22 seemed to kick in for the finish as well. Managed to recover some and saw Julia and John on around 24 and after the 24 mile mark felt like I was trying to sprint as hard as I could. It’s amazing that sprinting as hard as I could ended up being 6:19 my final 1.2 miles (I didn’t split it at mile 26). Half way into mile 25 I started picking a few people off. We rounded the curve after the 40k mark and there was one person ahead of me that I hoped to catch. I caught him, passed him and keep going. I turned right and then left into downtown Portland and then heard something along these lines from the announcer … “another Austin Runner, Kamran Shah with a 7 minute PR”

The Result

I finished with an 8 minute PR of 2:51:08 over CIM last year (2:59:09) and finished 41st overall (remember this race doesn’t attract the fastest folks). This was emotionally the most satisfying race I’ve ever run, I was way out of my comfort zone and even when it looked like I was about to break apart I was able to keep going.

Oh, since they go 15 deep in age group awards I also walked away with a little hardware … which I did take a picture of but I think I left in Portland somewhere 😦

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Thank you all for the support and good luck wishes leading to this race. A big thank you to Steve and Ruth for a truly great training group with Team Rogue and the Rogue community. Last but not least to all the members of Team Rogue for the early mornings of training and keeping me honest and motivated.


Portland marthon weather forcast 8 days out

September 26, 2009

It’s a little ways out to trust the weather man and the day before is rainy so the day of has a chance. If the weather is as weather.com predicts it’ll be nice to race.

Weather Prediction from weather.com

Weather Prediction from weather.com


Portland Marathon Race Plan … Take 1

September 13, 2009

Technically this could be take 2 but I wasn’t really grooving to my initial plugging in the numbers into the spreadsheet attempt so here it is. A few overall points:

  • This is the most aggressive goal I’ve ever set for a race. Not just the time but how close to my limit this goal is. I usually race at a pace where it isn’t all the way at my limit.
  • I decided a month ago to go from a 2:55 marathon goal to a 2:50 marathon, I’m hope I’m somewhere in that range.
  • Hills … I don’t really like them so I need to account for the fun between miles 16 and 18 at Portland
  • The paces listed are targets, I’ll be around that but overall I’ll be able to gauge how I’m doing looking at the overall time at each mile.
  • This plan is for me, I didn’t write it as a template for anybody else. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and need to make our own specific adjustments.
  • All of this may go out the window depending on what Steve says 🙂

I plugged in my plan into the Rogue Portland Marathon spreadsheet and here is my current plan … subject to tweaking and/or major changes 🙂 I’ve broken up the race into 5 sections.

Mile 1 through 8

Take it at 2:50 effort (6:30 pace). In some races I’ve felt terrible in the beginning but things pick up. I’m going to rely on my training and stick to this effort and make adjustments at the points in my plan where I’m supposed to. One or two bad feeling miles can quickly go away so it’ll be about the entire 8 miles.

Miles 1 to 8

Miles 1 to 8

I’ll likely lose around 15 seconds in mile 2 and 3 and on the downhill mile 4 to 6 make up 10 of those. That should put me at the end of 8 miles +5 seconds for a 2:50 marathon target.

The plan is the same for A, B and C for the first 8 miles.

Mile 9 through 13

The beginning of mile 9 is the first checkpoint. The decision here is do I think I can hit a 2:50 or not. If I think I still have it in me then Plan A is in force. If not then it’s Plan C, a less aggressive race plan but hopefully still a PR.

Miles 9 to 13

Miles 9 to 13

Plan A & Plan B

If I felt good (relative term) through miles 1 to 8 then Plan A & B are the same for this section. I need to try and shave some time now for what I’m going to lose in the hill between miles 16 and 18, but not all in one mile. My MGP is close to my limit already of what I think I can sustain so I’ll try and go 5 seconds under that for 4 miles. That should shave 20 seconds and put me at -15 seconds overall for a 2:50 marathon target.

Plan C

This is if miles 1 to 8 are a real struggle and breaking 2:50 just doesn’t seem like it is in the cards. I’ll slow to a 2:55 marathon based pace of 6:40 minutes per mile for this section.

Mile 14 through 18

The start of mile 14 is another check point. Since I just pushed a little for 4 miles I need to determine how that went. More than that I need to get back into a rhythm and just run through the hill in this section where I expect to lose 30 to 40 seconds. If things go well I’ll end this section down 10 to 20 seconds from a 2:50 marathon target which I’ll need to make up in the last miles.

Miles 14 to 18

Miles 14 to 18

Plan A

Don’t push from 14 to 16, stick to 2:50 based marathon effort (6:30 min/mile pace) but no faster and expect to give up 40 seconds in the hills.

Plan B

If the shaving of time in Mile 9 and 13 seems to take too much out then switch to 2:55 marathon based paces. Another 10 seconds a mile slower than A.

Plan C

Keep on trucking at 2:55 paces.

Mile 19 through 22

Don’t push … HOLD!!!

Miles 19 to 22

Miles 19 to 22

Plan A

Stick at 2:50 marathon pace of 6:30 min/mile

Plan B & C

Stick at 2:55 marathon pace of 6:40 min/mile

Mile 23 through Finish

This is a downhill section (according to the map) with some rollers according to Ruth and Steve. So plan to hold effort, well it’ll feel more like pushing … it is a marathon after all. So the miles are 5 seconds a mile faster on the 3 miles that are downhill than Miles 19 through 22. And then back to flat effort last 1.2 miles.

Mile 23 to Finish

Mile 23 to Finish

Plan A

3 miles at 5 seconds faster than MGP then at MGP to squeak under 2:50 hopefully

Plan B & C

I hopefully backed off early enough with the checkpoints where I can just run this by feel and push as hard as I can and see where I end up.


The coach, Steve Sisson, assesses Team Rogue’s Race Prep 3 for the Portland Marathon

August 30, 2009

This is a follow on to my post of my own experience with Race Prep 3, undoubtedly the toughest workout of the season for Team Rogue.

Steve discusses what we thought would be a good measure of a successful workout and also how he felt about his own run.

Also, Damon … one of two people I’ve been running with consistently this season had a tough day but pulled through. He’s just gotten back from a slight injury but he should be good by the time we run Portland in 5 weeks.


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