March 26, 2013

Jake's Spring Schedule

I've known what the two big races on my spring schedule would be for months, but wanted to wait until after the Phoenix Marathon before making any travel plans, etc. Since Phoenix, I've taken a nice recovery period to let some of my little nagging injuries go away. I kept my running to a minimum for ~10 days (including several days off) and then started gradually incorporating some strides and short hills sprints. Last week I threw in a couple light fartlek efforts to make sure all systems are ready to get rolling again. After a good long run with the last 8 miles at marathon pace over the weekend, and another solid 10 mile tempo run today, I feel like my legs are definitely ready to get cranking again.

My target races will be the USA 25K Championship (May 11, Grand Rapids MI) and the USA Half Marathon Championship (June 22, Duluth MN). Leading up to the 25K and in-between the two championship races, I'm planning to run a handful of local events, including the SLC Half Marathon, Holladay Mile, and Utah Valley Half Marathon. I might also jump into a couple college track meets and run some 5Ks if possible.

It will be a busy spring racing schedule, but I have a good plan of how to break it up into two parts (25K Champs buildup, short break, HM Champs buildup). And having a one-mile race and a few 5Ks in the mix will force me to quit neglecting my speed!

Also on tap for the rest of this spring - ski as much as possible before the snow melts!!!

March 24, 2013

Powder Weekend (finally!)

Andrea skiing near Twin Lakes Pass
Its not an exaggeration to say that our powder skiing is a little rusty. We skied powder almost every weekend during the 2010-2011 season, and then didn't ski until the late spring in '11-12. This year we've only recently been getting up in the mountain to ski again, and the temperatures were pushing 60+ degrees last weekend when Andrea's family was here. Slush skiing.

Ahhh, but then sometimes the stars align when hope for powder seems lost and some cold air from the northwest pushes a few feet of classic Utah cold smoke into the Cottonwood Canyons. We had a fantastic weekend up in the mountains - it was COLD, but the snow was light and perfect. Skied in the backcountry Saturday, and then in-bounds at Alta all day on Sunday. Not many photos because we didn't want our hands to freeze off, but here's a few...

We spent the night at the Peruvian Lodge. Amazing!

March 19, 2013

Skiing and Legos

Andrea's family came to visit from Tennessee last week, and they were welcomed by the WARMEST ski days in recent memory (record high temps). We skied a lot of slush and had a great time...

Park City is currently hosting a Lego exhibit. Its worth checking out if you're passing through town...

March 11, 2013

Bluebird = Sunburn

March 10, 2013 - Mt Superior from the Alta summer road

Yesterday was our first day on skis in 2013. We skied once in December, but it aggravated Andrea's injuries a little too much, so we just decided to wait until spring and start getting into the mountains once she felt better and the Phoenix Marathon was behind me. A mellow tour in the Twin Lakes Pass area was our season opener... it took a couple turns to get our legs back under us, but it was so much fun. As much as I absolutely love running, there is no more graceful way to move through the mountains than on skis.

Our plan is to ski as much as possible until the snow melts! Unfortunately the snowpack in the Wasatch is wimpy again this year, but hopefully we'll have 2+ more months of good conditions.

And of course, I managed to sunburn my face... as if I haven't lived out west at high-altitude for 5 years...

March 7, 2013

Team Effort

Vern Gambetta's blog (Functional Path Training) is one of the first sites I check every morning. Almost daily, he posts a gem of wisdom that is applicable to all athletes, regardless of your specific sport. I have dozens of his posts bookmarked that I often look back on.

Today's post really drives home the importance of a support system. As I said in my Phoenix Marathon recap, I was successful in that race mainly because of the team I had around me - Andrea, Dad, and Mom right on the front lines of battle with me - and lots of friends/family rooting me on from wherever they were.

Here's a little of what Vern wrote:
...Success is not about me, it is about we, it is about collaboration, working together with other people to achieve a shared goal. You can’t do it alone. You need a support team. That support team can be as big or as small as you need it to be. For me my support team consists of friends, professional colleagues, mentors, and above all family.  
Make sure your team is not composed of ‘yes men” people who always agree. Dissent is healthy in fact it is productive. Otherwise you have intellectual incest where the same ideas are continually passed around and no progress is made. Successful people have colleagues or affiliations, it very tough to go it alone. Build your team to be the best you can be.
The part about "dissent being healthy" is very true. Andrea and I do not always agree on training and racing plans. But our disagreements force us to think cricitcally about what we are doing. We question and break down everything. What's left, after these discussions, is usually a plan that will lead to success.

I'd highly recommend you subscribe to Functional Path Training.

March 3, 2013

Phoenix Marathon (Race Report)

On the podium at the Phoenix Marathon
Arizona always treats me well. Six weeks after running 1:05:55 to take second place at the PF Chang's 1/2 Marathon, I came back down to the Valley of the Sun  for the Phoenix Marathon. If you've followed the blog or my training log over the last month, I've been a little banged up and I knew I wasn't ready for an "A+" performance. In the end, though, I was able to pull out the victory - running 2:23:55. I'd definitely highly recommend this race - very well organized and lots of attention to detail. A "runner's" race.

Article from the Arizona Republic:

Here's my race recap, copied and pasted from Fast Running Blog:

My blog has probably read like a whine-fest over the past month, but it hasn't been an exaggeration. I have been feeling "off" since the PF Chang's 1/2. Some minor injuries, consistent (very) elevated resting heart rate, so-so workouts, etc. Andrea (my guardian angel!) asked me a few weeks ago what this race was worth to me, and what I wanted to get out of it. The answer was simple, I wanted to win a marathon in front of my parents this year. Its just something on my running "bucket list" that was very important to me... and I knew this was probably going to be my only shot for a while, as there's a good chance this will be my only marathon this year. So we decided to throw time goals out the window (and I say "we" because this truly was a team effort) and focus on what was my best strategy to win the race and not blow up any of the little nagging injuries. The strategy was to go very conservative from the start, then evaluate at 16-18 miles and decide when to make a break for the tape. I ended up waiting until very late to make a move, but it made for an exciting finish and I was relieved and very happy to have won the race today!

Early miles of the PHX Marathon

The race started nice and slow as we ran down from Usery Park in the dark. A guy in green took the lead after the first mile, but we caught him by mile 2 and it was pretty clear that it was a 3 man race (Riley Cook, Peter Omae, and me). In the first half of the race we basically ran side by side by side, at what I'd consider a comfortable effort. My achilles didn't bother me at all, which was a huge relief.

Dad handing me some Gatorade

Andrea and my Dad were out on the course and they were the best support team ever. My Mom was running the half marathon (my Dad was planning to as well, but he jacked up his hamstring a couple weeks ago). Every 3-4 miles they would hand me a drink bottle and a cold sponge. I'd take a few sips of my drink, then hand the bottle to Peter, who would hand the bottle to Riley. Then we'd pass around the sponge as well. Great way to share germs, but it kept everyone hydrated and cool.

The splits for the first half were: 5:39, 5:19, 5:26, 5:22, 5:45, 5:44, 5:08, 5:24, 5:20, 5:21, 5:25, 5:18, 5:21 and we came through in 1:11:20.

Miles 14-16 were 5:22, 5:24, 5:26. Nothing really changed. Then (if I remember correctly) Riley started to drop back a bit around 16.5 miles, so I tried to increase the pace just a bit when I noticed his shadow slipping away. My right hamstring was feeling weaker than my left, but not as bad as at TOU last fall. Miles 17-18 were 5:22, 5:26 and I got the sense it was down to two. Once Riley fell back, Peter got right in my slipstream and ran a stride behind me for the next 9 miles. I slowed down from 19-20 (5:37, 5:40) to see if he would take the lead, and he didn't take the bait...

Late in the race, around 22.5 miles

Now it was decision time. Normally this is when I would want to throw it down and make it a 10K race / long suffer-fest. But for some reason I wasn't feeling confident in my ability to push it from that far out. If Riley had still been in the mix, with his closing speed, I think I would have had no choice but to lay the hammer down from 5-6 miles out. But against Peter, who seemed to be breathing harder than me, I felt like I might have a stronger kick, so I just kept running around 5:40 pace and waiting to see if he would make a move. Miles 21-25 were 5:39, 5:39, 5:45, 5:41, 5:42. He made a mini-surge at 24.5 but I covered it easily. That being said, these miles were nerve-wracking... I'm not a kicker, and I was starting to worry that I had shot myself in the foot by waiting too long.

Even when we hit mile 25, we just kept running the same pace. I was thinking that it was going to come down to the last couple hundred meters. Then, at ~25.5 miles, Andrea appeared and told me to GO. So that's when I finally picked it up, and I was surprised at how quickly I opened up a huge gap. It was over... 5:18 for the 26th mile and 69 seconds for the last 0.2 with my Dad sprinting along (and nearly keeping up) for a hundred yards! I ended up winning by 45 seconds, which is a lot of time considering we were still locked together at 25.5. My Mom was right there at the finish line (she ran great!) and Andrea/Dad appeared shortly after... I'm so lucky to have them there for me!

Final time was 2:23:55. Peter was second, then Riley and Dave took 3rd-4th. Our Utah crew dominated the race!

Not necessarily the most impressive time, but I'm OK with that. My body held up, and I won the race... accomplishing my 2 primary goals, so no complaints here! I should also add that I was well aware that I had lost 6 races in a row (all 2nd place finishes) since the TOU Marathon, and was very pleased to break that streak.

I'm going to take this upcoming recovery period a lot more seriously than I have in the past. My two big races this spring/summer will be the USA 25K and Half-Marathon Championships in May/June. I have plenty of time to get in really good shape for those races, but I need to "re-build" some of my broken parts first.

With Mom at the finish

My support team!
Top 3 Guys
Peter and I
Utah guys