February 27, 2012

SLC Winter Series 15K

Off the start at the SLC Winter Series 15K
The final installment of the SLC Track Club Winter Series was held this past Saturday. Back in January I won the 5K in 15:20, then missed the 10K when Andrea and I were vacationing in Arizona. As I posted earlier in the week, training for Boston has been going really well, and I expected to throw down a pretty good time in the 15K - as I definitely get better as the races get longer!

Despite very windy conditions, I won in a course record time of 48:04. 

Here is a portion of my race report from Fast Running Blog (you can click here to read the whole thing), and then some more thoughts and the photographs that Andrea took...

Originally my plan for this race was to hit 10K in ~32 minutes, and then try to hammer the last 5K. But when my jeep was getting tossed all over I-80 on the drive over this morning, I realized that negative split plan wasn't going to happen. The wind (according to NOAA's station at the airport) was consistently 20-30mph from the NW with gusts around 40mph. And that means major headwind on the second half of the course. So I changed my strategy to "go out quicker and hang on."

My garmin decided to erase all the data when I plugged it into my computer, but I can piece together most of the splits. I ran the first 7.5K in ~23:32. All of the splits were either 5:02 or 5:03 for the first 5 miles. Pretty consistent. After the 180 degree turnaround we hit the hurricane, and the pace slowed down. I ended up running the second half of the race in 24:32, so I was bleeding 10-15 seconds per mile with the headwind. The splits were something like 5:18, 5:25 (totally lost focus!), 5:11, 5:14. I was very content to just average marathon pace on the way back. Finished in 48:04 (Average pace = 5:09/mile). 

As far as I can tell from looking at old results, the course record was 48:37, so I came in 33 seconds under that time, in less than ideal conditions. Last year at this race I ran 50:29 and was thrilled with that time... its cool how the spectrum of what I think is "fast" has shifted so much in the past year. 

A good effort this morning - I'm happy with how it felt, and putting it into context of the accumulated workouts and volume of training, its another indicator that everything is moving in the right direction.

The 15K in Arizona on March 11th is going to be a great test for me. Considering the competition I'll be facing there, I'm thinking I can run 2+ minutes faster than today.

According to the McMillan calculator, my time from the 5K (which was run in pretty much perfect conditions) would suggest I should run ~49:20 for 15K on that course (at our altitude). Obviously I'm a "bit" more geared towards the marathon at this point - as I came in well under that time on a solo effort (unfortunately my buddy Fritz wasn't having his best day, as we separated within the first half-mile of the race) and in windy conditions. The tailwind on the way out is nice, but the headwind on the way back definitely takes more away. Its like running all uphill for 7.5 kilometers! Considering the 3 workouts I did early in the week, and that I only cut back to 120 miles this week, this race was a nice confidence booster for me - it tells me that I am being smart about my training, and I'm absorbing the workload.

Next up is the Bandidos 15K (Fountain Hills, AZ) on March 11th. I'll be up against an incredible field of runners there. That will be my big test to see where I'm really at heading into the last cycle of training before Boston.

I'll also mention that I haven't restricted Andrea's access to the blog! :-) She is still working hard on bouncing back from a couple of annoying injuries - her commitment to PT and x-training is pretty inspiring to me (I don't think I could handle it mentally). We actually ran about 30 miles together last week, which was probably the most since Christmas - so that was pretty nice.

Fritz and I at the start. Walter (in red) finished 3rd overall and was the 1st master.
Finishing it up

Windy day!
A lot of "no-shows" due to the weather!

February 22, 2012

Saucony Mirage shoe review

I can usually tell whether I like a pair of shoes right out of the box on the first run - with the Saucony Mirage, my initial impressions have held up to be true after 500+ miles in my first pair. This is an excellent everyday training shoe!

I rotate through several pairs of shoes on a day to day basis. While the Kinvaras are great for easier recovery runs, I usually want something with a tiny bit more "substance" on long runs, fartleks, etc. Last year I did a lot of running in the Saucony Tangents. When that model was discontinued, I needed something to fill the void. When I first wore the Mirages, it became obvious to me why Saucony didn't need the Tangent in their lineup anymore, because the Mirage is a perfect (and much improved, in my opinion) replacement for the Tangent.

Saucony places the Mirage in their minimalism category. I agree with that - it is a very light and responsive shoe without any extra / unnecessary frills. There is a very subtle medial stability post, and it is a bit more cushioned than the Kinvara. As a neutral runner, I love the fit and feel while wearing the Mirage. In fact, it has become my favorite day-to-day trainer... and occasionally (when I'm not wearing my Fastwitches) it has served me well on tempo runs.

I think the Mirage is a great choice for someone looking to step down to a lighter shoe that encourages good running form, but still wants some lightweight stability and cushioning. The heel to toe drop is 4mm (like the Kinvara), although it has a more substantial, "grippier", (and probably more durable) outsole. The heel counter also offers a bit more stability than something like the Kinvara.

I have multiple pairs still in their boxes in my closet, if that tells you anything about how much I like this shoe.

And like the Kinvara, Saucony is making the Mirage is a plethora of cool color schemes. Check 'em out.

February 20, 2012

8 weeks until Boston

On the track in Sedona - February 2012
This winter has been all about running - the exact opposite of last winter (where we were still running a ton, but our lives revolved around skiing all day on the weekends). I'm now 8 weeks out from the Boston Marathon, and the excitement is really starting to build.

Here's a quick rundown of my training since Philadelphia. For the first 7 weeks, I primarily ran easy, built my mileage up, and threw in some occasional faster efforts starting around the holidays - just to give my legs a chance to "go" once in a while. Around that point (early January) I realized two things: 1) My body was fully recovered from the fall marathon season and ready to get back after it, and 2) In terms of skiing, this winter was going to be a bust! So I ended up deciding to run Boston.

For the next 3 weeks I lived in the 140 mile/week world (where I have gotten very comfortable), started mixing in some lighter workouts, then raced a 5K which told me I was on the right track. The last 3 weeks have been another 140+/wk cycle, topping out at 150 miles, and my workouts have gone really well. The majority of my hard days have consisted of tempo runs in the 5:10-5:20 pace range, long runs up to 25 miles and almost always with a fast finish, and then some shorter reps on the track (or roads) to keep the turnover. I've also started incorporating days where I do a tempo run in the morning, then shorter track reps at 3K/5K pace in the afternoons. With my ability to recover quickly between runs, this has allowed me to get in an extra track session each week without sacrificing a recovery day. The "winter" weather in Utah has been quite mild to this point, and it hasn't been hard to do quality workouts on the roads and even on the track.

Now I'll drop the volume a bit and start working in even more marathon-paced (and faster) miles. I'll race 3 times in the next 6 weeks: The SLC Track Club 15K on Feb 25th, the Southwest Spine and Sports Mountain to Fountain 15K in Arizona on March 11th (this will be a major test as I'll be racing against a bunch of elites who train in Flagstaff), and then a 5000m on the track against the college kids on March 30th (Utah Valley University Invitational).

In between these races I'll be doing a handful of marathon-simulation workouts, on routes that simulate the Boston course as much as possible.

Since I'm not shooting for the specific OTQ standard this time around, I have more of a goal "range" than time in mind. First and foremost, I want to break my PR of 2:21:46. But unless weather conditions are abysmal I think I can go a lot faster, as I'm already in much better shape than that. Sub 2:20 would be great, sub 2:19 would be even better. I think after the 15K in Arizona in 3 weeks, I'll have a much better idea of what I should be aiming towards. For now, I'll just keep cranking out the miles, tempos, and all that fun stuff - and keep the faith that I can put it all together on April 16th.

13 weeks of training since the Philadelphia Marathon on 11/20/2011

February 12, 2012

"Winter" in Sedona

Sedona, AZ
We've spent the past couple days in Sedona, Arizona with my parents... a little winter getaway. Running, hiking, biking, etc. Lots of fun! Rather than bore you with text, here's a bunch of pictures...

Walking to the trailhead from our place in West Sedona

Red Rock Country

The high desert in the winter... can't beat it!
This is apparently how they build cairns here - with chicken wire! I've never seen that before.

This place is a runner's dream world
Andrea lounging

Bike cruising

I took advantage of the weather and hit the brand new Sedona HS track for some intervals. Andrea shot some photos...

Quite a backdrop!

My parents and Jesse James came over to watch - just like the old high school days

HEAVEN in a box!!!
Slide Rock Park
Andrea and Jesse James sleeping on the way to Phoenix