October 19, 2014

Kinvara 5 at 1000 miles

Back in June I declared the Kinvara 5 the best version in the series. I figured it was worth following up on that post now that I've hit the 1000 mile mark with my first pair...

They are the best all-around shoes I've ever worn.

The Kinvara 5s have been my workhorses this summer, and I'm contemplating breaking out a fresh pair but I just CANNOT wear these things out. A thousand miles in and they still feel great.

Here's a few photos that demonstrate the durability...

A tiny bit of tearing below the logo on the right shoe only.
Not bad after that many miles.

Upper / Toebox still in great condition

Thanks to excellent placing of the stronger rubber, the outsoles still have plenty of traction and didn't smooth down like some previous versions.

For dark winter mornings I'm definitely picking up a pair of the Kinvara 5 Viziglo.

October 13, 2014

2014 Chicago Marathon Race Recap

2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon - 2:21:12, 35th Place.

After an excellent summer of training, the week or two leading up to Chicago was not great. With my hamstring feeling very compromised, it wasn't easy to maintain a high level of confidence. A week before the race, I wasn't even sure if I could race. I decided that if I could run, I needed to be conservative and go out in 1:10 - 1:10:30. That all changed on race morning when I went outside for a short jog at 5:30am. I not only felt somewhat normal for the first time in nine days, but there was an energy along Michigan Avenue at that early hour that convinced me it might be worth taking a shot at the Olympic Trials standard. Chris Sloane (who shared a hotel room with us) and I made our way over to the American Development tent around 6:30am. We did an easy 10 minute jog to warmup, then stood around with some of my Saucony teammates in the corral until it was time to go.

When the race finally started, I immediately set myself up behind Florence Kiplagat's male pacer (who was about 6'3" tall... and maybe 120 lbs) but I could tell within a minute or two that the women weren't going out quick, so I moved past them as we came out of the tunnel and saw my Saucony teammate Jesse Davis up ahead. It took me about 2 miles to bridge the gap to him, and once I did I found myself in a nice pack with 6 other guys. I mentally committed to running with that group and the idea of a 1:10 first half was thrown out the window. I was simply going to race these guys as long as I could. After opening up with 5:17 and 5:19 miles, I missed a few splits, so I was surprised to see 15:38 for miles 3-5. We were moving, and rolled through the first half, hitting 13.1 in 1:08:47. This was my fastest first half ever in a marathon (by far!) which was a little crazy because I did less marathon pace specific work than I have in my last few marathon buildups. I never touched 5:15 pace tempos in training during this cycle but I wasn't afraid to mix it up and see what might happen.

This is a good time to point out that because of the aggressive start, there was no "this feels easy" / "build into it" portion of this marathon. I felt like I was running at a high intensity level right from the gun. Andrea said afterwards that I looked "very determined" and that it was "the hardest I've ever seen you run, especially in the last ten miles" I guess that is both good and bad. On one hand, you sort of want to be relaxed for a good portion of a marathon. On the other hand, I know I gave it  everything I had, even if I knew I was in a little over my head.

Expressing my stubborn Polish determination in Polishtown


I think the pack started to break apart around mile 14 or 15 and I was on my own the rest of the way. My calves were starting to hurt. Andrea told me that my gait was noticeably compromised by the halfway point, which isn't surprising - I made some sort of alteration to protect my hamstring, and the gastrocs had to pick up the slack. I held up pretty well through 30K, but the 20th mile was the first over 5:30, and I wouldn't be able to bring the pace back down. I was hanging on and just trying to keep the bleeding to a minimum.

Michigan Avenue death march

The last 5K was a death march. I still had a chance to PR when I hit 40K, but the wheels were coming off quick. With 600m to go, you turn and ascend the Roosevelt "hill" (which is a measly 15 foot overpass). I could not believe how it absolutely. broke. me. My legs started to wobble, I felt like I had no control over them, and simply tried to stay upright over the last quarter mile... an effort that was barely successful. With about 15-20 meters left, everything seized up... I had to windwill both of my arms to keep my balance as I stumbled across the timing mats. After I got across the second mat, I let a volunteer just hold me upright for 10 seconds while I regained my sense of balance. It was a comical finish and despite being a little embarrassing, I had to smile - I knew I went for broke and didn't leave anything in the tank.

I hope there is a video of this somewhere

Overall I'm very happy. Yeah, I didn't run the smartest race, and likely would have run a bit faster and PR'd had I gone out a little slower. But on a big stage like Chicago, it was worth chasing the OTQ dream. I'll continue chasing it, because I have zero doubt that faster marathons are in my future. Regardless of whether I run 2:17 or not, I simply love this journey. I love that it's hard - that it requires so much dedication with no guarantees of success. I love the training, working towards a lofty goal step by step... sometimes taking steps backwards and figuring out how to deal with the setbacks. I love that I keep learning more and more about the sport and myself in the process - race to race, year to year. And I love that I get to travel all over the place and compete against the best runners in the country (and the world). When you run 2:21 and come in 35th place, you picked the right race. No matter what, when all of this is said and done (which is a long way off), I'll know exactly where I stand (the stopwatch and tape measure never lie) in the running universe. I'll know exactly how good I can be... and that's something I want to know, even if it's a bit scary to find out.

When I look back at my goals at the beginning of the Chicago buildup, getting back to PR shape was at the top of the list. I definitely accomplished that objective over the past 14 weeks, and gave myself a solid platform to build on again. Depending on how quickly I recover, I'm planning to take a short break, rally for a series of late Fall races, take a longer break, then dedicate 2015 to a pair of long, focused marathon buildups (spring and fall).

Odds and ends...

Nutrition: Breakfast - 2 Powerbars. Race - 1 Powergel 15 mins before start, 3 more during race (5-10-16). Really like the Powergels and tolerate them well, mainly because of the liquid consistency. Didn't drink much - I need to run faster so I can get my own bottles at major marathons! Post-race lunch - Venison.

Weather: Sunny (although the tall buildings blocked it in a lot of spots) and ~50 degrees for most of the race. A little windy in spots, but this is Chicago so what can you expect?

Course: Flat. Awesome. [Map / Elevation] Other than the overpass at 26, none of the small inclines broke rhythm. The route has a decent amount of turns. Crowd support was excellent. Maybe not quite as good as Boston, but close.

Shoes: Saucony Type A6. Best racing flat out there. Saucony had a great presence at the expo and hooked us up with some cool Chicago-branded gear. The team was well-represented in both the men's and women's races.

Intangibles: Andrea was unbelievable this weekend. She managed to get my hamstring back into working condition on Saturday, then got a bike the morning of  the race and navigated the streets to be at seven different spots (1.5, 3, 13, 17, 20, 22, and 25) to cheer for me and all of the Saucony runners (and take photos). Her airport nap was well-earned. I had other friends at 5, 6.5, 8.5, 10, 17.5, 23, and 26. I've said this before, but I know I'm very lucky to have such a great support system. I had a lot of family, friends, and puppies supporting from afar.

Mile splits - 5:17, 5:19, 15:38 (3-5), 5:11, 5:11, 5:17, 5:16, 5:17, 5:13, 5:12, 5:17, 5:09, 5:20, 5:14, 5:28, 5:17, 5:27, 5:32, 5:38, 5:32, 5:39, 5:38, 5:38, 5:57, 1:22.

5K splits - 16:23, 16:13, 16:22, 16:21, 16:11, 16:46, 17:17, 17:34, and 8:05 for the last 2.2K.

Comparison to a couple other marathons...

                   Half          20M        Finish
PHL 2011  1:09:33 - 1:46:05 - 2:25:57
CIM 2013   1:09:29 - 1:46:17 - 2:20:41
CHI 2014    1:08:47 - 1:45:45 - 2:21:12

Final thought: next time I go out under 1:09, I'll bring it back under 1:09 too.

October 9, 2014

Chicago Training #6 - Wrapping it all up

The 2014 Bank of American Chicago Marathon is this Sunday, October 12th, and the gun goes off at 7:30am Central Time. 

Here's the link for Runner Tracking. I'll be wearing bib #344.

Here's the link for the 

Men's Preview from Letsrun. Bekele vs. Kipchoge is going to be awesome.

OK, time for my longish recap of the training cycle along with some charts and tables. Some of this is duplicate, as I already did five posts over the summer leading up to this one...


The 2013 season ended on an upswing - 1:05:54 at the IMM 1/2 on Nov 2, then 2:20:41 at CIM on Dec 8th. The 2014 season started on a good note as well - I tried some different things in training (lower mileage, bigger emphasis on faster track and threshold-type workouts) and was building fitness from January through April with visions of running a big half-marathon PR on the streets of Duluth in June. For a variety of reasons, I completely fell apart in May. I encountered a perfect storm of physical and mental stress (the body interprets both the same way) and didn't handle it well. By the beginning of June I finally came to terms with the fact that I was on a major downslide, over-trained, and decided not to race or do workouts for a while. At the end of June I got really sick (likely salmonella poisoning, which rocked me hard since I didn't take any antibiotics), and officially hit my fitness nadir. That's where the Chicago buildup began...

14 Weeks to Chicago...

Over July 4th weekend Andrea and I debated whether it was even possible to get in reasonable marathon shape by October. We decided that if I used my time wisely, focused on my strengths (not my weaknesses), didn't race much, and kept the expectations low, it was worth taking a shot. While timelines are arbitrary, I considered the week starting July 7th to be the beginning of my Chicago Marathon buildup, as that was when I laid out the first draft of the training schedule and mentally committed to the race.

The first cycle of training was simple - a track workout once per week, building in repetition distance and decreasing in pace. Long runs got a little longer each week. I alternated 200s and 30s hill reps once a week as well. The TOU 1/2 was the first checkpoint: I won in 1:07:37. Winning is always nice, but after running 1:05:40, 1:06:03, and 1:05:39 the previous three years at the same race, it was obvious I still had a lot of work to do.

After that race I was essentially done with interval-style workouts. I moved on to progression runs and eventually wave tempos. I kept the total volume high, and tried to run on grass/dirt as much as possible. A few of the long runs got faster (a 26.2K "simulator" and the TOU Marathon). My workouts throughout this entire cycle were consistently quite a bit slower than I've run in past marathon buildups, and I didn't do a lot of race-specific workouts, yet I wasn't really too concerned. Aerobically I was building a very strong foundation, and I felt that would be enough to run well in Chicago, and then propel me forward to whatever comes next. 

Then about a week ago I did get concerned. My right hamstring, which has been bothersome (off and on) since the 2012 TOU Marathon, decided it was time to be annoying again. I had to take a few days off (rare for me) and basically throw my plan for tune-up workouts during the taper out the window. For a couple days I was a total basket-case and questioned whether it was even worth making the trip to Chicago. At this point I don't really know how it's going to hold up for 2+ hours of fast running, but I feel decent enough to toe the line and find out.

Early in the summer, I said I'd be thrilled to get to a point where I felt like my PR was within reach by October. So that's what I'm aiming for on Sunday - under 2:20:41.

Some things I think I did well...

-Averaged 130 miles per week over 13 weeks (from 14 weeks out until 1 week out)
-All the workouts were done in sets that progressed and made sense
-I stayed committed to the 200s/hills (until it was time to phase them out during the last month)
-Created a template that I'll replicate (with adjustments, of course) next spring and fall. The training was smart.
-14 weeks was a nice chunk of time to stay focused on one race. I see the value in dedicating 16-20 weeks to a marathon buildup, and maybe I'll be more likely to do that in the future (assuming this one goes well!)
-I really enjoyed the training this summer. Running was fun, every day.

There are a few things I will adjust in the next big buildup, but for now, I'm focusing on all positives.

Now, the exciting stuff - all my charts and tables...

Summary of the Chicago buildup
(I had to make a few adjustments in the final two weeks)
Weekly Mileage

The entire summer training in calendar fashion (Big View)

Blood values don't correlate to performance, but this tells me I was building myself UP
this summer, not breaking myself down. Eight-minute miles on grass/dirt are valuable!

Some more specifics of the workouts during the first half of the cycle
AT runs after TOU 1/2
Wave runs over the last three weeks. The hamstring prevented me from doing these exactly as intended.

And finally, after evaluating all of my choices, this was the decision...

October 6, 2014

Chicago Training #5 - Hold on for one more week

The 2014 Chicago Marathon is only a week away now! In the upcoming week, I'll post a full summary of all the training leading up to this race, as well as my goals for October 12th.

Previous Chicago training posts:

I felt pretty good coming off my biggest volume week of the buildup, then ran the TOU Marathon in a controlled 2:28:14. I was able to keep my mileage up during that stretch, and despite the first two wave workouts not being extremely fast (4x1K/2K, 5x1K/2K), I was feeling confident it would all come together once I finally backed off the mileage.

However, during this same time, my right hamstring started to get a little cranky. This has been an on and off issue for me since the 2012 TOU Marathon. This time around, it seemed manageable as long as I didn't push the pace too close the 5:00 threshold.

The day after my 5x1K/1K session on October 2nd, something felt "off" in that leg - weakness, aching - so I ended up having to take two days off and started to wonder whether I'd even be able to race in Chicago. On Sunday I felt better (not 100% though) and got in an easy 20 miler. That run boosted my confidence that I'd be able to run in Chicago next weekend.

So after a solid summer of training, the last couple weeks haven't gone exactly as planned. It's not ideal, but it's not the end of the world either. The marathon is more about your body of work over 3 months, not the last 3 workouts.

I'm hoping I'll feel OK over the next few days and will head to Chicago with a healthy body and mind next weekend!

Here's the calendar for the last weeks leading up to race week...

October 5, 2014

Golden Leaves

We're really into trees this week. Fall colors are starting to hit their peak in the Wasatch Mountains. Up at Brighton, yellow/gold was the color of the day...

October 1, 2014

Andrea: Athletic Pubalgia Surgery Post-Op Rehab Weeks 0-2

I am now two weeks out from surgery. I spent the first six days in Philadelphia, working with a physical therapist (Nicole) at Vincera Rehab and checking in with Dr. Meyers. My dad was nice enough to take a few days off from work and keep me company, as I would have gone crazy from boredom without him.

I traveled back to Salt Lake City after six days, and the traveling day was hard on me. Over eight hours of sitting in an airplane is not easy after abdominal surgery! I had increased swelling and pain the following day, but it returned to previous levels after another day.

Throughout the second week, my pain level remained about the same, if not slightly increased. I have been consistent with my physical therapy exercises and walking prescribed by Nicole. I started seeing PT Danny at Canyon Sports Therapy in Salt Lake City, and he has been great so far - he even contacted Nicole to discuss my surgery and the appropriate rehab program for me.

At 11 days post-op I noticed an accumulation of fluid in the lower right abdominal area. Dr. Meyers told me it was called a seroma and was related to the extensiveness of the tissue dissection on that side. Jake and I call it my "pooch" - let's just say it does not make my stomach look attractive!

Other things to note: I went back to work after 7 days but limited my time there to only a few hours and worked from home the rest of the second week post-op. I also lost 3 lbs since surgery (good-bye muscle) and needed 10 hours of sleep at night plus a 2 hour nap during the day!

Here are the PT exercises that I have been doing -

250m walking
4x25m side steps
4x25m backward walking
2x10 bird dog – arms only, lead with thumb - then progress to both arms and legs
3x10 posture shoulder exercise (arms at right angle and rotate out) with 3s hold
3x10 clams with 5s hold
1x30 transverse abdominis isometric contraction with 5s hold
2x10 bent knee adductor squeeze with 5s hold
2x10 bent knee abduction against resistance with 5s hold
3x10 bridges with 5s hold - then progress with both a band around knees and ball b/w knees
1x5 extended leg lift and resisted adduction with 3s hold
1x30 back flexion and extension
3x10 side leg lift at 120 degrees (targeting glute medius) with 3s hold
250m walking
2x25m side steps
2x25m backward walking
Heat and ice several times a day
Massage starting at 10 days.

Icing after a round of morning PT exercises

I feel like I've gotten better and worse at the same time. The exercises are becoming easier for me, but I'm also having more pain than I anticipated after how well the first week went. I'm also an emotional rollercoaster - super optimistic one minute and then convinced that I'm never going to be pain-free the next. Jake really enjoys dealing with the mood swings on a daily basis! :)

September 30, 2014

Big Trees, Sea Lions, and a Wedding in the Forest

Andrea in the redwoods at Henry Cowell State Park

A quick set of photos from our trip to California for our friends' wedding - the wedding was in Saratoga, and then we headed to Santa Cruz from there...

The Santa Cruz coast - Wilder Ranch State Park

The rest of these are kind of in order. First up - a hike in Big Basin Redwoods State Park...

Banana Slug

Next up was Mike and Rossini's wedding at Saratoga Springs...

From there, Santa Cruz...

Lazy, fat sea lions
This is what makes humans fat and lazy!

On Monday the sun was out in full force. We took advantage with a nice hike along the coast...

More lazy sea lions

And then we finished out the trip with another afternoon in the redwood forest...

September 22, 2014

Andrea: Athletic Pubalgia Surgery #2

She's back - this is Andrea's first post on Wasatch and Beyond in 2014! 

Dr. William C. Meyers
Last week I went to see Dr. William C. Meyers of Vincera Institute, the expert in the field of core muscle injuries (aka sports hernia, athletic pubalgia, etc). This has been a long time coming as it has been 16 months since I had an unsuccessful surgery with Dr. Brown in May of 2013. I tried many, many types of rehabilitation over the past year to recover from the chronic pain that intensified after the first procedure, but finally came to the realization that there was nothing more that I could do.

What I really liked about the Vincera Institute is that it comes as a whole package - the imaging, doctor's office, surgery center, and rehabilitation are all in the same place and are focused on the same patient. Unfortunately, the monetary cost is quite hefty due to the "experimental" distinction of this surgery by most insurance companies. One thing I have learned in the past two years is that my health and well-being are worth a LOT!

After MRI imaging, Dr. Meyers discussed my injury with me and did a thorough evaluation. He then brought in the radiologist to discuss my pain and ensure that all pain areas were examined on the MRI. He confirmed the critical areas that need repair by having 5 diagnostic/steroid injections done in my hip and groin. Based on all of these findings, Dr. Meyers recommended that surgery was my best option and scheduled it for the following day.

This is a very complicated area!!

Here is a summary of the surgery:

1) Left adductor compartment release
2) Left surgical reattachment of the rectus abdominis muscle to the pubis
2) Both sides psoas tendon release
3) Right adductor longus reattachment
4) Right re-repair and release of abdominal tissue

I have three incisions from the procedure. As he re-repaired the right side, there was a lot of excess blood/fluid so Dr. Meyers put me on a drain to wear for 4 days (gross). Because of the extensive nature of my surgery, he also recommended that I stay in Philadelphia for a week so that I could see him a few more times and also start rehabilitation immediately.

I honestly can't believe how different the recovery has been already from this surgery. I took pain medication as instructed but have really not felt much worse than before surgery. Definitely nothing compared to the pain from the first surgery (which makes me believe that something went very wrong there). I was able to walk a mile without difficulty the day after surgery and able to sit/stand/lay down mostly on my own. I  had a bit of nausea/sickness but food and drink helped - apparently you burn a lot of calories after surgery!

I will be posting updates on my recovery and rehabilitation. I am optimistic that this is the beginning of the end of this injury. There is still a small part of me that is afraid that this surgery won't work just like the last one, but I know that a positive attitude is critical to recovery. I will do everything I can to be pain-free again.

In good spirits :)