Spring skiing. Warm, sunshine, powder. What else do I need to say?
March 4, 2014
|10th mile of the PHX Half Marathon|
I kept my Arizona win streak going by winning the Phoenix Half Marathon this weekend (1:07:00). Last year I won the marathon here. And on Thanksgiving I won the Mesa Turkey Trot 10K. Maybe I just need to always race in Arizona?
Fast Running Blog Recap
The weather was decent considering we were expecting much worse. There was some rain in the early miles and a bit of a noticeable headwind, but the major storm forecast was greatly exaggerated. The heavy rain actually came down later on Saturday evening... good timing! In some ways the overcast skies were nice (cooler!).
My plan was to run for the win and not worry too much about the time once we knew the weather forecast was looking a little crazy.
Jesse Armijo and I ran the first mile together, then he took the lead and put a small gap on me. For the first 7 miles, I was between 15-25 meters off his lead. It didn't seem like there was anyone putting pressure on from behind us. I kept thinking to myself "make a move at 10" like I did in the PF Chang's 1/2 last year. I started reeling him during the 8th mile and sensed an opportunity to put in a surge and take the lead just before the 9 mile mark. I ran the 10th mile pretty hard to open up a gap, then I had a big enough lead to back off a little the rest of the way. I ended up winning by a comfortable 52 seconds.
Andrea and my parents were out on the course in 5-6 different spots providing encouragement. They are awesome!
The time doesn't really reflect a big improvement since January, but I can tell I'm getting in shape now. The major positive "take home" was that around the halfway point of the race, I knew I wasn't settling for second place. I was thinking about the best strategy for how to win the race, and knew I was going to win the race.
The Phoenix Marathon is somewhat new to the scene, but it has already established itself as one of the best events in the Southwest. The marathon is a great course for Boston Qualifying, and they offer generous prize money to the elite runners in the marathon as well as a $500 bonus for sub 2:20/2:45. The half-marathon only has a few turns and has a slight net drop from start to finish, making it the fastest Olympic Trials qualifying eligible courses out there that I am aware of. Both courses are certified and sanctioned, so you know they are accurate (I've seen people make comments online that the course measured long - they just need to realize that Garmins aren't that accurate).
I've never felt the need to comment about a race t-shirt before, but I feel like I have to say something in this report. The shirt given out by the PHX Marathon this year is definitely the best I've ever gotten at a race. It's fitted and made of some sort of stretchy material that is really cool. That sort of attention to detail is what will help this race continue to grow. I know from speaking to the race directors on many occasions that they are always striving to improve and make the race experience as great as they can.
I'll circle this one on my race calendar for 2015. If I have the OTQ by then, I'd like to run this marathon again. If I don't, then it will be a great spot to go for the OT standard in the half-marathon. Especially since after this year's rainstorm, it is almost guaranteed that this race will have perfect weather for the next 20 years! I'd highly recommend this one as a great spring race destination.
|Early miles of the race|
|Somewhere in the early miles on a rainy morning|
|With Jesse after the race|
February 25, 2014
This weekend I'm heading down to Arizona for the Phoenix Half Marathon. I'm looking forward to what I consider my first "real" race of 2014, even though I've toed the line 4 times already, this is the first major test of my fitness. Since taking a break after CIM, I've slowly but surely been getting in shape. Over the past couple weeks, my workouts have been progressing nicely in a systematic manner. That is a crucial aspect of my "plan" this year - logical, systematic progression. The individual workouts and low key races and all building blocks towards my bigger goals.
I'm going to recap my training since Christmas in two five week blocks...
Block 1 - Transitioning back into workouts...
Starting around Christmas (while I was in Arizona) I got started with some token workouts. During the next 5 weeks, there workouts were almost entirely aerobic in nature. I found that my aerobic threshold pace was actually slower than it was in October/November (not surprising coming off a marathon peak). The idea was simply to get myself used to doing workouts again without beating myself up or pushing too hard, too soon. Towards the end of this period I ran the USA 1/2 Champs in Houston (1:07:26) and the SLC Winter Series 5K (15:33). Not impressive times, but a decent start to the year considering I wasn't even running that fast in any of my workouts.
During this time period, Andrea and I also started to make a (very good) habit of meeting at the gym almost every night after work. We have been following the recommendations for general strength and balance in Jay Dicharry's book Anatomy for Runners. It's a very fundamental approach that incorporates single leg balance, foot stability, bridges, clam shells, leg lifts, squats, lunges, foam rolling, AIS, etc. The importance of this cannot be overstated - I'm healthier than I've been since I started training seriously in 2011. We are big fans of Jay's book and would highly recommend it... in fact, Andrea is traveling to Bend, OR this week for a one-on-one evaluation with Jay.
Block 2 - Real training begins...
After CIM I started to think about whether I had the training knowledge to get to the next level, or whether I'd risk sitting on a 1:06/2:20 plateau if I continued to simply go at it on my own. Ultimately, I want to qualify for the Olympic Trials this year, and that isn't going to happen by accident. After a hundred emails back and forth with a friend of mine who has a fantastic understanding of modern marathon training and had followed my own workouts/races for several years, a great training plan for the spring season started to develop. We plugged in my target races, evaluated my strengths, weaknesses, and created an outline that was very specific to me. We're only a month into the program, and have already made a few tweaks here and there, but for the most part I've been able to do everything "planned" and I feel that my fitness is definitely on the upswing.
Here's what I've done in the next five (4.5 as I write this) weeks...
Week of Jan 17: 6 mile wave tempo (4 min AT, 2 min LT); 3 mile AT + 10x30s hills (1500/3K effort on all hill sessions, 3.5% gradient); 20 mile long run (easy pace).
Week of Feb 3: 2 x 20 minute LT efforts (click the link for the details about this series of LT workouts); 4 mile AT/LT + 10x45s hills; SLC Winter Series 10K.
Week of Feb 10: 4 x 10 minute LT efforts; 5 mile AT/LT + 10x60s hills; 18 mile long run w/ 5K AT finish.
Week of Feb 24: 4 x 1 mile (5K effort)... The rest of the week will just be easy running and some strides, and then I'll race on Saturday.
On the Thursday workouts where I did the tempo + hills, the hill repeats were the primary emphasis of the session. The AT tempo preceding the hill reps was originally put in there to get warmed up (reduce injury risk) on cold morning. However, we realized a little more quality could be added to the workout by utilizing the pre-hills tempo, so it was extended out and I started running the last mile at LT pace.
I'm not too concerned about the specifics on the long runs for the time being... the main goal is to get 17-20 miles on a hilly or rolling route w/ some AT/quality component at the end, depending on how I'm feeling. If it just ends up being an easy paced long run, that's OK too. When I transition back to marathon mode, these runs will obviously become a lot more important and the cornerstone of the training program.
Average mileage has been 95 miles/week for the past 9 weeks (range of 86-109). I feel very healthy - I've struck a good balance in terms of the mileage / workout volume, time spent stretching / foam rolling, getting enough sleep, etc. I think I could take it up 15-20 mpw right now w/ no problem, but I don't see the point at the moment. Instead, on higher volume weeks, I'm sometimes taking Sunday off to go skiing (or making Sunday a very light day of running and then going skiing). Instead of running that extra 3 miles per day, I'm spending the time doing some ancillary work (balance/GSM).
After the Phoenix 1/2, I actually have about two more weeks of workouts left in this block (the timing didn't quite line up right to get everything in before the race). Then starting in mid-March, I'll incorporate some different types of workouts (multi-pace track work and LT "shuffle" sessions) as I move towards the USA 10 Mile Championships and ultimately, the Indianapolis 500 Half-Marathon. It looks like I'll have an opportunity to run in a track meet at the end of March, so I should be able to lower my (admittedly very weak) 5K PR during this phase of training.
February 23, 2014
|Blue Skies, Pink Pine Ridge|
We haven't skied on the Pink Pine ridge in what feels like forever. Today we headed in that direction and had a great time... the conditions were all over the place - powder, cream cheese, boilerplate, ice luge... but the views were consistently spectacular and the SPRING temperatures Utah is currently experiencing aren't bad either.
February 9, 2014
February 6, 2014
I'm doing some things differently in training this year... I have a much smarter, more systematic plan. Instead of being completely self-coached, I now have an executive panel of high-level advisors. I'm working on balance, general strength / coordination, and self-massage pretty much every night. I'm finally using the foam roller and have learned to love (not-hate) it... after neglecting it for three years. Eventually I'll start eating healthier too (never said that before!). I'll do some more detailed posts about the tweaks to my training soon. I think its going to be a hell of a year for me. I'm ready for some major breakthroughs.
To start off, here is my spring racing schedule:
March 1 - Phoenix Half Marathon. My first "real" race of the season*. Every year we make a winter trip (or several) to Phoenix to visit my parents. Last year I won the marathon here. I'm excited to go back because the race directors are awesome and working hard to make this a great event. I'll run the half this time around and hopefully be in shape by then to run sub-66. After the race we're bee-lining to Sedona for a couple days of fun in red rock country. [*technically I opened up the season in Houston, but I wasn't really in shape to be racing yet... and I'll also have the entire SLC Winter Series (5K-10K-15K) under my belt by the end of February, but those are more or less glorified workouts]
|2013 Phoenix Marathon|
April 6 - USA 10 Mile Championship (Cherry Blossom). I haven't been back to DC since I lived there in the summer of 2008! When Cherry Blossom announced they were hosting the US Champs, Andrea and I had plane tickets booked within a few days. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of friends before/after the race... and from a racing standpoint, when your goal race for the spring is the half-marathon, I can't think of a better fitness indicator than a 10-miler.
|Racing track in DC, circa 2008|
May 3 - Indianapolis 500 Festival Half Marathon. I ran the Indy Monumental Half last November and came away impressed. The organization for the "mini" is putting together a competitive field, and the course is flat and fast. My training is going to be geared towards running a big PR at Indy, and ideally running under the Olympic Trials qualifying time (1:05:00).
June 21 - Grandma's Marathon. Is it even a race schedule if it doesn't include a marathon? Grandma's is the best late spring/summer marathon with a field of guys running in the 2:15-2:20 range. There isn't a TON of time between Indy and Grandma's (7 weeks), but if I'm fit and healthy, that would be enough time to put in a short cycle of marathon-specific work.
Another idea I've considered, in the interest of chasing track PRS - The Music City Distance Carnival and Portland Track Festival are June 7th and 14th, respectively. I could potentially run the 5000m at MCDC, the 10,000m at PTF, and then run the Gerry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth. That would be a lot of travel (and racing!) in a short period of time... and sort of expensive, too. We'll cross that bridge in May, after the Indy race. I'm leaning (99.9%) towards the marathon route for June.
The second half of the year is going to be devoted to a long, proper marathon build up. Canova style.
February 2, 2014
We'll take 6 more weeks of winter, especially if we get a lot more days like today.
The West has been in a massive drought, and the snowpack in Utah is hovering ~60% of normal. A couple small storms over the last few days refreshed the slopes, though, and we spend our Groundhog's Day / Super Bowl Sunday taking advantage of the powder and sunshine.
The photographic evidence of a fantastic day in the mountains: