Monday, August 25, 2008

Vegas '08

Well folks... folk is probably more accurate at this point... it's about 15 weeks out from Vegas '08.

I just finished a 32 mile week, capped off by a 14 mile long run that I ran at an 8:32 pace. That's pretty slow for me now. Last week's 11-miler was run at a leisurely 7:50 pace. My easy runs are generally in the 7:40 range.

I was looking over my old posts from last year, and it struck me how bad my memory is. I was thinking that I was a little disappointed that I haven't gotten much faster since last year, but then I checked my times and realized I'm FLYING compared to 2007. I haven't done any speed workouts, as my running coach seems to be focusing more on high-mileage and tempo runs, but my overall pace has picked up quite a bit. I know that I'll be getting up into the 40+ range for weekly mileage, and if I can just tweak the diet a little it I'll be the leanest and fastest I've ever been in December.

My goal is still 3:30, as it eluded me last year. I think I could probably aim for faster, but I don't want to set myself up to overreach. If I run a 3:25, I'll be thrilled, but if I can just hit that damn 3:30, that's enough for me. I think that a December of 2010 Boston-Qualifying attempt might be in the cards. If I can maintain this volume of running for another 2 years... I think my body might just be able to push itself fast enough for the 3:10.

I will be doing at least one half-marathon in the next couple of months, so that will be a great gauge to see how I might do this December.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Blog is BACK... who am I kidding?

Not that anyone will see this post, but I feel like updating my blog. Here's what's happened since my last post:

I've been working with a running coach at the Boston Running Center. He's had me on a training program since January. I've been logging an average of 28 miles a week, with a high of 36 miles. My running has improved tremendously.

I ran a half-marathon in 1:45 on a VERY hot day... on a cool day I bet I could run a 1:40.

I ran a 5K in 21:04... also on a hot day. I can definitely break 21:00, and I'd love to run with a pacer to see how close to 20:00 I could get.

I ran a 5-mile race at a 7:09 pace... definitely my best race performance ever. I was passing people the entire race, including a lot of guys who looked like they had NO business being passed.

My running is actually fine... my nutrition is NOT. I'm toying with the idea of basically going healthy "cold turkey." I know that I'm addicted to food the way a junkie is addicted to smack... I want to quit, but as soon as I get hungry and there is crap to be had... I have it. I've also been very, very stressed with work lately, and I've developed a habit of having 1-2 beers or a glass of wine probably 4-5 nights a week. I definitely don't get drunk, but I have to admit that I've been using those drinks as a way to de-stress, which is a TERRIBLE idea. I've tried in the past to give myself rules about "1 glass of wine 2 nights a week" or "i can have dessert once every 2 days" or something insane like that, but I always cheat.

I really need some sort of weight over my head. Signing up for a marathon works for running, as does having a running coach I'm accountable to. For eating / boozing... what can I do? Maybe I can bribe myself. One month of no weekday boozing and healthy weekday eating would get me... what?

How about a new desk chair?


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Blog is BACK!!!

Life and other miscellaneous annoyances have caused me to fall out of touch with my beloved blog. I am going to attempt to get back into the habit of posting.

Where to start?

I have started working with a running coach at the Boston Running Center. The biggest change in my running so far is the fact that now I run 5 times a week, no cross-training, no treadmills. I have to say that running outside in the winter in Boston is one of the most character building activities a person can engage in. I can't wait for the temperature to crack 50 degrees and stop raining.

I logged 26 miles last week, and I'm on pace to log another 25-28 this week. I've NEVER run this many miles outside of a marathon training program, so I'm a little worried about burning out my legs, but my coach seems to think they'll adapt. Eventually he wants me to get up to 6 days of running a week, and probably 40-45 miles a week in total.

Why the massive increase in mileage? Weeelllll...

My long-term goal is to run a 3:10 marathon and qualify for Boston. Just how "long-term" this goal is hasn't really become apparent yet. I'm guessing that, at the bare minimum, it will take me 2 full years of hard training from this point on to get that fast. I could see it taking as much as 5 years, though I hope it doesn't.

In order to hit that goal, I need to train specifically for it. My running program that I'm developing with the coach is one that is geared towards one marathon a year in the winter. I will be running many 5K's, 10K's, and a couple of half-marathons throughout the year to push myself and gauge how I'm progressing, but the ultimate goal of each year-long training cycle is to run a marathon in the winter.

From what I've read and heard about from other runners, you need to have a pretty substantial base mileage to get your body in good enough shape to maintain that pace for that long. It doesn't help that I'm 5'6" and stocky either. It seems that most people who can run a 3:10 have a weekly mileage in the 40-50 miles per week range. That seems pretty absurd to me, as the most I've EVER run in one week was 35 miles, which was during a week which had a 20 mile long run. I'd need to average 8-10 miles per run to get that kind of mileage in one week.

So that's that. I've also started doing running drills, which are strange. I've done buttkicks, heelkicks, and striders so far. I'll get into that stuff in my next post. In the meantime, I hope everyone is well, and I promise it won't be a month before my next post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Back on the Horse.

I ran today for the first time since the marathon. Nothing fancy, just 3 miles at a leisurely pace on the treadmill. My legs aren't sore at all, but they're definitely still recovering. I ran about an 8:20 pace overall, and my legs started to tighten up so I stopped at that point and stretched. My lungs felt fine, but the legs were too tight and sleepy to go much more.

I contacted a local running club to see about joining. I think that the key to getting a faster marathon time is going to be improving my running in general, not just at long distances. Since I generally run by myself, I don't have the motivation to really go as fast as I can. If I could run with some people who are in much better shape and can kick my ass, maybe I'll get some of that speed from trying to keep up with them.

I'm still figuring out how I want to approach my next marathon, or even when that marathon will be, but I have decided to train for and run a 5K in the spring. I need to find one so I can sign up and have it hanging over my head. I'd like to try and run a 19 minute 5K, which would be about 6:00 min/mile over 3.1 miles. I know that I'd have to train pretty damn hard and get quite a bit faster to hold that pace for that long, so I figure it'll get my ass out of bed and onto a track in the mornings.

I'm also going to focus a little more on strength training. I did almost none whatsoever during this last marathon cycle, and I think that stronger core muscles (abs and back) would really help my running form hold up in the later miles of a long race.

I have lots of plans, lofty goals, and hopefully the free time to purse them. I'll post again once my plans start shaping up a little more.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lessons Learned... Looking Ahead...

Well, the marathon is done. Normally by this point I'm going through training withdrawal because the goal I have been planning my life around for 6 months has come and gone. This time, however, I feel great. I'm already looking forward to my next marathon, my next 10K, my next 5K, and my next PR.

I've had plenty of time to think about why I ran a 3:46 (not a bad time at all) instead of a 3:30. I think the reason is pretty damn simple, actually:

I'm dumb.

Allow me to clarify. The entire reason I was in Vegas was to run a marathon. All of the fun that exists to be had in that city was just a bonus for me. The problem I ran into was that I got very caught up in showing my little brother and the rest of my family all the cool stuff that Vegas has. The first day we were there, I'd guess that my brother and I walked about 6 miles. The day before the marathon, I probably walked another 6-8 miles.

When I went to bed Saturday night, my legs were sore and stiff from all of the walking. I knew I had screwed up, but I took some Ibuprofen, stretched out, and went to sleep.

I got up Sunday morning REALLY pumped up to go. I went through my rituals and got dressed for the race. My brother came up to my room and I pumped him up as best I could. My legs were still sore from all the walking, but the adrenaline was overriding the soreness at this point.

We made our way down to the starting line with my girlfriend and my parents. The weather was PERFECT, and the atmosphere was charged. Thousands of runners were crowding through the hotel to get to their corrals. I gave my brother a pat on the back and left him to head farther up the pack. A few minutes later, the gun went off and the race was on.

My strategy was to try and run the first 10 miles as easily and smoothly as possible. The ridiculous sights and sounds of Vegas made this a pretty simple task. I averaged a little bit slower than an 8:00/mile during this time.

At mile 10 I realized I wasn't going to run a 3:30. I didn't have any major problems, I just felt a slight stiffness to my legs. I knew, from past marathons, that even a tiny little ache in the early miles will just amplify and become huge by the end of a marathon. Mile 10 was WAAAAY too early to be feeling any discomfort. So, just like that, one silly mistake cost me time.

I had already made peace with the fact that a 3:30 would only happen for me under optimum conditions, so I was surprisingly OK with accepting a slower time. I just told myself to keep running at a pace that felt comfortable until I got to 16 miles.

I still managed to keep my pace in the 8:00-8:10 range through the 'teens. My legs started to feel like they might cramp up, and THAT scared me. I knew that I could keep moving as long as I didn't cramp. At mile 20, I took a 10 second walk break, and then kept moving. I told myself that I HAD to keep moving. Walking was fine, stopping was not. During the entire race, I did not stop moving forward one single time.

The last 6 miles were rough. I probably averaged a 9:30 or so. I would walk for 20-30 seconds at the start of each mile to keep my legs from cramping, and then tough it out until the next water station. It was painful, but seeing the hotels come back into view was enough motivation to keep the legs moving up and down.

I realized that I was going to kill my PR, and at that point it was enough for me. I knew that I had trashed my 3:30 attempt by using my legs too much the 2 days before the race, and I just wanted to run the best race I could given that fact.

I ran across the finish line in 3:46. My legs immediately made it clear to me that I'd be in pain later, but for now I was just ecstatic to be done and to have a new, very respectable PR.

I learned a bunch of lessons this time around, and I'm already plotting and scheming my next move. I'll be taking it easy this week, and next week I'll start doing some cross-training and weights to keep my fitness up. As you can see, I've changed the subtitle of the blog to reflect my new, over-arching goal. Maybe it's a bit premature to aim for qualifying considering I didn't even hit my 3:30, but I have a feeling it might take a while to hit 3:10... so I'll just throw it out there and see what happens.

On to the next race!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

3:46... I'll take it!!!

I ran a 3:46. I'll go into detail about it a little later, but I am THRILLED with that time even though it's not the 3:30 I was hoping for. It's still a new PR, and I am very, very excited to be well into the sub-4's now.

My little brother ran a 4:20, and looked AWESOME at the finish line.

Time to party.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

I'm in Vegas. I have my number. My next post will be after the marathon. Mandalay Bay is large. Slot machines are stupid.