April 13, 2014

How long can we stretch this out?

April 13, 2014 - Andrea approaching Twin Lakes Pass

The Collins snow stake currently shows Alta's mid-mountain snow depth at 109 inches after a warm, sunny week. Hopefully we can stretch out this ski season into June!

We'll be doing a lot of tank-top skinning the rest of the season
On Saturday we had dinner at the Shallow Shaft restaurant. The food was actually better than the view!

April 9, 2014

Spring Training #3 - Leading up to Cherry Blossom

This is the next (third) installment in my series of posts breaking down and reviewing my training. To recap, here are the links to posts #1 and #2.

Week of March 17: 8 x 400m (1500 pace); LT Shuffle: 5 x 8/1 minute efforts; 5 x 800m (3K pace). This week took me out of my comfort zone! See the notes below on what the LT Shuffle is all about, and you can click on the links to the individual workouts to see more specifics.

Week of March 24: LT Shuffle: 8 x 5/1 minute efforts; 18 mile long run w/ 10x45s surges. I had originally planned to run a 5K race on the track at the end of this week, but Andrea had a cold earlier in the week and I felt a little drained on Thursday/Friday, so I scrapped the race (and thus ended up not catching the cold). It was a good move that allowed me to absorb some of the recent workload without wearing myself down too much.

Week of March 31: LT Efforts: 4 x 8 minutes (more like 10K effort); 3 x (5 x 1 minute) fartlek; USA 10 Mile Championships (50:12). A pretty solid, but not spectacular, race to end the week. Click the link for my full recap. In hindsight, the Thursday fartlek was a little too much that close to the race.

So what's the "LT Shuffle" all about?
The long reps will produce a small amount of lactate that the body will pick up and utilise during the effort - there will be some residual lactate that the body will 'shuffle' into the system during the 1 min recovery. Then, during the 1 min faster effort the body will utilise the lactate for energy and at the same time produce a larger amount of lactate. Through the 3 min active recovery the body will, again, use and 'shuffle' the remaining lactate into the system, which the body will then utilise during the next long rep and so on. 
As the session progresses, more and more lactate is produced, shuffled, utilised - at LT and 5k/3k pace/effort. Towards the end of the session, the body floods with lactate and struggles to utilise and shuffle it into the system - the body goes into 'panic' mode and 'shunts' (forces) it into the system.  This stresses the body and teaches it to pick-up and utilise lactate when the system is fatigued. This in turn helps to improve pace at LT.
My log entry on March 22nd is worth repeating... some bullet points on changes I've made this year:
-Faster interval workouts at the correct paces (not slower but with extra volume thrown in)
-Shorter recovery runs (between 45-60 minutes)
-Very targeted LT sessions
-Don't be lazy... strides twice a week!
-Foam rolling / stretching / general strength work almost every night
-No candy and less crap in general!
-Eating balanced recovery foods with plenty of protein within 20 minutes of finishing harder workouts. This sounds like a shamless plug, but I'm really enjoying PowerBar ProteinPlus bars, which taste really good and pack 20 grams of protein.
-More skiing / skinning, which is excellent for all the reasons Andrea mentions here.
Full view of the last 10 weeks...

April 7, 2014

Cherry Blossom - USA 10 Mile Championships

2014 Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run / USATF Championship

USA 10 Mile Championships (Cherry Blossom) - 50:12 - 26th overall, 16th American.

[Also posted on Fast Running Blog]

I've had Cherry Blossom on the calendar since the day it was announced as this year's USATF 10 Mile Championship back in January. I have a lot of friends in DC and lived there for a summer, so I've been excited all winter about this trip. Andrea and I flew in Friday evening and spent Saturday relaxing and catching up with friends (and did the same all day Sunday after the race). It was a really fun weekend.

On race morning I got dropped off at the Lincoln Memorial and proceeded to warmup around the National Mall. I've run here many times, but its always a cool place to be early in the morning. The elite women started at 7:18, and then we were off 12 minutes later. The field was solid - plenty of high caliber African runners, plus the USA Championship field.

As you can see on the race video (starting ~17:00 for the guys, I'm still in there a few minutes later), I was able to latch to the very back of the main pack for a little over a mile, as the real elite runners were out at a somewhat conservative pace. The pace accelerated before we hit the Memorial Bridge and I knew it wasn't sustainable to be in the back of that group any longer. The two-mile split was 9:51 (plenty fast). I was already running solo - I recognized some of the guys up in front of me (Sean Brown, Ben Sathre - bibs with names on the back of our singlets was nice) but it would have taken a huge effort to close that gap. I tried to keep them in range and focus on maintaining a steady effort.

I came through 5K in 15:21 and 5 miles in 24:55, picking off a few guys during these miles. 

The first half of the course has several 180 degree turns, but the out and backs make it an excellent course for spectators. Andrea was at 5-6 spots during the race with Curran and Baumann, the Merkels (on bikes) were all over the place, Luke (running the race) yelled for me during the out and backs, Big Cat Brett was prowling around in the trees, and the ElliptiGo team with Jeff Caron was out cheering as well. It was almost like a track meet during the first 10K - feedback and encouragement every quarter mile!

I was running well as we came through the halfway point and headed out for the loop in East Potomac Park. Miles 6-8 were 4:59, 4:57, 4:52. Sathre pulled away after 10K (30:57), but I passed a few guys before we got to Haines Point including Sergio Reyes, who was clearly having an off day.

I don't know what happened in the 9th mile (5:22!!!). We were running into a slight headwind at this point (look at the flags on the race video as I finished - 1:06:00 on the video - and yes I had to out-kick a girl - we caught a few of the elite women in the final miles), but I don't feel like I slowed down THAT much. I tried to maintain/close the gap to the guy ahead of me (Brown). It was definitely a shock to see that split. In hindsight, that mile was probably marked a bit long and the previous one was short. I came through 15K in ~46:45 and just like that, I was climbing the final hill and the race was over. Finished in 50:12 - 26th overall, 16th American. Five mile splits were 24:55 / 25:17 (yuck).

After the race I spent some time chatting with the other athletes and coaches (Hansons) - that is one of the best parts about championship races... these are the best athletes and coaches in the country - the ones you want to be competing against and interacting with. Andrea and I ran a cool down from the Washington Monument to the Capitol building and back... again, just a cool atmosphere and great location for a big race. And it's a BIG race (17,000 runners!).

I'll make a strong attempt to come back and run this again next year. Now that my parents will be living in the area, I'll be heading to the East coast for races instead of Arizona. Hopefully they'll be hosting the USA Champs again and I can do the Gate River / Cherry Blossom double. I shouldn't be thinking about 2015 race schedules yet, but I can't help myself sometimes.

Overall I'd say this was a good, but not great, performance. It was my best run of 2014 so far (season bests for 5K, 10K, and 15K en route), but I still feel like I should have broken 50 minutes. The good thing about this race is that it tells me exactly where I'm at... and that means probably aiming for 65:15-30 instead of 64:XX in Indianapolis next month (although things can change with another good month of training). I'm very glad I already made the decision to skip the spring marathon and keep my focus on the half through the end of June. I think that I'm definitely on the right trajectory (steadily improving) but it is going to take some more time (and laser focus on the little stuff) to achieve my goals this spring. I embrace that challenge.

Andrea took a bunch of great photos (scattered throughout this post and below).

Playing with Maggie the puppy and hanging in the sunshine took up the rest of the weekend...

April 1, 2014

Spring Racing Season

Spring in DC!
The calendar says winter is over, although the Wasatch Mountains have been getting pounded with snow recently, hopefully setting us up for skiing well into June. But in the spirit of the spring I'll be opening up an exciting racing season this weekend at the USA 10 Mile Championships (Cherry Blossom in Washington, DC).

After seeing some excellent progress in my workouts over the last month (I'll post more on the training I've been doing - some HARD sessions - soon), I've decided to keep my focus on the half marathon distance through the first half of the year - which means dropping the Grandma's Marathon and running the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth instead.

My racing schedule now looks like this:

April 6 - USA 10 Mile Championships
May 3 - Indy 500 Half Marathon
June 14 - Portland Track Festival 5000m
June 21 - Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

I'm excited about the changes to the schedule. I didn't want to force any aspects of training before the Indy 1/2, but I also want to give myself the best shot possible at breaking 1:05 this spring. Now I know I'll have another full (6-7 week) block of training between Indy and Duluth, giving me another opportunity to step up my fitness a couple more notches. I'll also get a great shot at blasting my 5K PR to shreds in Portland.

Keeping my focus on the half marathon distance and in touch with my 5K speed will help set me up better for the type of training I need to do during a buildup to a fast marathon this fall. On that note, I'm planning to run the Chicago Marathon in October and use the entire summer for a big marathon buildup with only one race (Top of Utah 1/2 in August).

Less racing this year - more targeted, focused training.

You can follow the 10 mile championship race this weekend on Runnerspace.

March 24, 2014

Spring has sprung

It's hard to beat spring weather in Utah. I wrapped up a solid week of training with some 800m reps on the track Saturday morning, then Andrea and I headed up to Alta where we spent the weekend backcountry skiing and enjoying life at the Peruvian Lodge.

Post workout PowerBar Protein Plus. When you're off candy, these taste good!
The Alta Peruvian Lodge is the best place ever
We'd live here if we were millionaires.

Twin Lakes Pass - where we found leftover powder from a storm 4 days prior!
Up, up, up...

And back down
Andrea bringing it home on hero corn/slush snow!

March 17, 2014

Winter/Spring Training Block #2, continued...

A few weeks ago I summarized all of my January/February workouts leading up to the Phoenix Half Marathon. This post is a continuation of that entry with two more weeks added.

Key Workouts:

Week of March 10:  8 + 4 x 5 minutes at LT/10K effort2 x 20 minutes LT Efforts; 18 mile long run at 83% MP with 3 mile AT finish.

Other stuff:
-Continuing to follow phase one of Jay Dicharry's program, probably 4X week. I'm about to start incorporating the phase two exercises at this point.
-8 x 100m strides twice a week
-Skiing on weekends

Here's how it looked when put together...

To summarize, the primary workouts during this block of training were the "by feel" LT efforts (green). I started with 2 x 20 minutes, worked down (in effort length), the rebounded back up to 2 x 20 minutes... the second time I ran that workout, I was a bit faster despite having some cumulative fatigue in my legs. Mission accomplished.

The secondary workouts were the combo sessions with hill repeats (blue). These were meant to (safely) get me moving faster, and strengthen the musculoskeletal system for the harder/faster track workouts in March and April.

I used long runs for aerobic support, but these weren't very specific, and won't be until I get closer to Grandma's Marathon.

The red workouts were faster than LT effort, and those were another way to transition into some of the faster track workouts that are coming next.

So, what's next?

I have 7 weeks until the Indy 500 half-marathon which is my primary target. I'll run a 5000m track race on March 28th, then the USA 10 Mile Champs on April 6th. Those are my only races before Indy 500.

Most of the workouts during these next 7 weeks will fall into two categories:
1) Multi-pace track intervals (400s, 800s, 1600s at 1500/3K/5K pace)
2) LT Shuffles (LT efforts with injections of 3K/5K pace). I'll post a more detailed explanation of the LT shuffles after I've done a few of them.

I'll probably get in 3 more long runs over this stretch, and will aim to keep those runs under or around 2 hours. Just aerobic support and setting up the foundation for when I begin some marathon-specific work in May.

PowerBar Team Elite

You may have noticed the PowerBar logo on the side of the blog. I'm excited to announced that I've been selected as a member of PowerBar's Team Elite for the 2014 and 2015 competition seasons. As I strive to realize my dream of qualifying for the Olympic Trials Marathon, I've realized that I need to be smarter about everything I do... especially recovery, and a huge part of recovery is nutrition. While we aren't unhealthy by any means, Andrea and I are making strides to clean up out diets, eliminate some junk, and replace those calories with quality sources. I've also been working hard to dial in my nutrition strategy during marathon racing. The PowerBar sponsorship will really help me in the areas of performance nutrition and recovery.

I've actually been an avid PowerBar product user since high school... I wouldn't endorse or promote a brand I didn't believe in. PowerBar makes excellent sports nutrition products, and I'm looking forward to sharing my knowledge of nutritional strategies before, during and after competition... as it plays a huge role in our sport.

March 16, 2014

Sun and Ski

My job sent me to San Diego for a couple days at the end of the week (I know, tough break!). The meeting's host hotel was in Del Mar, near Torrey Pines, so I was able to get in a couple really cool trail runs in the Torrey Pines State Nature Preserve. Special thanks to Kristen of Two Little Runners for giving me some great tips on where to run in this area!

On Saturday, before heading home, I took advantage of the sea level to knock out my long run and wrap up another solid week of training. I'll do another training post this week, as I just wrapped up a block of training, and I'm moving on to some other types of workouts for the rest of the time period between now and the Indy 500 half marathon.

Andrea and I took advantage of another perfect, warm, sunny Sunday in the Wasatch Mountains. A great weekend of sunshine and skiing.

Stole this photo from here, but this gives you a great idea of what running at Torrey Pines is like.
And another beautiful spring-ski day...