June 29, 2013

Sugar House Relay Carnival

The Sugar House Relay Carnival is becoming an annual summer tradition. Our friends Allie and James did a wonderful job setting this up again... hopefully next year the turnout will be bigger.

I ran 15:59 for the 5000m and then 4:54 for my 1600m leg of the DMR. My goal as the anchor leg was to not let our team GARMIN BELIEVERS get lapped by the BYU team. I had to kick (for 50m) with 450m left as we almost got lapped, but I held off their anchor leg, dropping the baton in the process! Ah what a blunder... it was pretty funny though. Only cost me a few seconds. Our total time for the DMR was 12:15 so its not like we were qualifying for NCAAs anyway :-)


Good workout - I wanted to get in one session between Duluth and the July 4th 5K so today fit the bill perfectly. One of these days I'll run a 5K at a faster pace than I do for the half-marathon. And we had a awesome group cooldown that included Andrea! Yay!

June 28, 2013

Lake Blanche

Lake Blanche and the Sundial

After going up to Red Pine Lake earlier in the week, I was anxious to escape the heat and check out another one of my favorite alpine lakes. Lake Blanche is another classic lake hike, probably my favorite in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I haven't been up there in several years (the last visit being the aborted triple traverse attempt). 

June 26, 2013

Red Pine Lake

Red Pine Lake is one of my favorite spots in the Wasatch. It reminds me a lot of Rae Lakes, which coincidentally was one of my favorite spots on the John Muir Trail. After a trail run at Alta yesterday, I made the short hike up to Red Pine... hard to beat this place (especially when its 100 degrees in the SLC valley).

June 23, 2013

2013 USA Half Marathon Championship

Around the 11.5 mile mark of the USA 1/2 Champs in Duluth MN

I'm basically copying and pasting from my running log, but in summary, I'm happy with how it went this weekend in Duluth. Not as fast as last year, but I'm starting to get back into my groove (and I think I've turned the corner with this hamstring injury). Felt like I ran a smart race, stayed in control, passed a lot of guys. Finishing 60th is humbling... this was the deepest half marathon championship in history. It took sub 1:05 just to break the Top 40 (Results)! Running 5:05 pace when I've done almost no training that fast in the past two months is pretty good...

With my fitness starting to come around the past couple weeks and after doing a few workouts that gave me a decent idea of what kind of shape I was really in, I figured 1:06:20-50 was my realistic target range. Andrea guessed 1:06:38 a few days ago and she was almost exactly right. I made sure to barely beat her prediction.

The big topic of discussion the day before the race was the weather. Race officials were worried it would be a torrential downpour, runners were optimistic there would be a favorable tailwind. In the end, it sort of fell in the middle, and was just right. No precipitation, not much wind, nice and cool. Pretty much as good as you could have hoped for. It was definitely very humid (we were running through a cloud of fog), but that isn't a problem when the temperature in in the low/mid 50s.

The thing you have to pay attention to when racing a half-marathon without doing much LT or faster running leading up to the race is that you can't cross that threshold too early or too often. You don't recover. So it was important for me to stay in control early, go out a little slower, and try to maintain an even effort throughout the race. I felt like I did a good job of that, and this race was a good reminder that smart racing pays off. Even when you feel like you are in peak fitness, a somewhat conservative start is usually the way to approach longer races. That's  a no-brainer, but I need to be reminded of that at times.

The race was obviously stacked in terms of talent (way deeper than last year) and the start was absolute madness. I just tried to make sure I didn't get tripped and also avoided getting sucked out too fast. I stuck with my no-Garmin racing philosophy, and felt like I hit the first at the right effort (5:03). I caught up to my friend Paul and ran a mile with him (5:06), then he started moving up during the third mile. I let him go a little bit, but still ran 4:56 for that mile and came through 5K in 15:36. At this point I had to decide whether to try and move back up to Paul or maintain my own effort. I chose the latter and it was probably the right decision, although for the middle portion of the race I was sort of in "no-man's land" - running somewhat solo, stuck between the guys chasing sub-66 and everyone else. The next 3 miles were 5:06, 5:06, 4:56 and 31:21 at 10K. From that point to 10 miles is the hardest part of the course. I just tried to stay stead and pass some of the guys falling off the early pace (by the way, the leaders ran the first mile in 4:21!). Next 4 miles were 5:09, 5:08, 5:12, 5:09, and 50:52 at 10 miles. I wanted to be under 51 at 10 so this was encouraging. Passed a few more guys as we worked our way into town. The last 5K is net downhill but it never feels easy on this course. Mile 11 was 5:09, then I saw Andrea and picked it up for the next mile (5:01). I knew I would get under 1:07 and while I didn't have as good of a finish as usual, I still ran 5:34 for the last 1.1 miles (5:02 pace). From 5K to the finish, I passed 24 guys, which isn't too bad.

I felt good at the finish - not that "beat up and legs filled with lactic acid" feeling. More of a "that was pretty good, and now I'm just getting rolling" feeling. I don't want to get too optimistic, but I'm starting to feel like myself again. Still, this race was an indication that my "old self" isn't going to cut it. The bar was raised across the board today. 1:06, 1:05... those times don't really mean anything on the national level. You've gotta be running quite a bit faster to compete. That isn't discouraging, its motivating! I gotta give a shout out to my buddy Scott Wietecha, who came into this race with a 1:04:35 PR and ran 1:03:12 to take 9th place today. He's an example of what can be accomplished with consistent hard (smart) work and not getting down after setbacks.

Andrea and I spent the rest of the day enjoying all that Duluth had to offer. The Grandma's marathon (and the entire city) really puts on a world-class event. I'm kind of sad they aren't hosting the championships again next year. I'd be back in a heartbeat.

I'm debating between a couple of options in terms of a fall marathon, but in the short-term (this summer) I'm going to focus on more shorter races (5/10Ks). No half-marathons until TOU 1/2. I'm very comfortable running comfortably hard right now, so now its time to start transitioning towards running uncomfortably hard.

Paul Petersen and I after the race

Splits: 2012 vs 2013

Course profile... you can see why even effort results in splits that aren't that exactly tight.

Beautiful day! Here's a photo of Lake Superior.

June 13, 2013

Saucony Mirage 3 Review

Over a year ago I reviewed the Mirage I/II, at that time it was a staple in my shoe rotation, and had become my favorite "everyday" trainer. What I have always liked about the shoe is that it provides a little more cushioning and guidance than the Kinvara, but it was still light and responsive.

Earlier this spring I finally broke into a box of Mirage 3s, which was given the "best update" by Runner's World. Sometimes a major update to a shoe you already like can be a problem - but in this case, the Mirage went from a shoe I really liked to a shoe that I'm kind of in love with.

I've put about 350 miles in my first pair (which are still going strong - I'll easily get double that mileage out of them), but I could feel the differences one my first couple runs. The new version is lighter and more flexible, but retains the touch of guidance and cushion that makes this shoe so important.

One look at the side profile and bottom of the shoe and you can see where the Saucony performance engineers made some modifications. The heel is decoupled (red boxes below) and they added some additional flex grooves in the forefoot (blue boxes below). This creates a much more flexible and responsive shoe. Trust me, try it on and you'll love the feel.

The shoe's upper has a great fit, using seamless Flexfilm, and feels similar to the Kinvara. This also cuts down on weight. At 8.7 ounces (M9), its nice and light. In additional to recovery runs, I really like using the Mirage 3 for long runs and fast-finish "medium" runs, where I run some tempo in the final miles. I like that it is supportive enough for a long run without beating up my feet/legs, but I have no problem dropping some fast miles feeling smooth. I'll even occasionally run some 200m reps on the track in these at the end of a recovery run.

I think the Mirage 3 is one of the most versatile shoes in Saucony's lineup. I use them for a wider variety of types of runs than anything else in my repertoire*. 

*Currently, I'm using the same rotation I have in the past: Kinvara and Ride for recovery runs, Mirage for recovery / long runs / some workouts, Fastwitch for tempo runs / long repeats, and Type A for shorter intervals.

June 10, 2013

Utah Valley Half Marathon

Approaching the finish w/ Jon Kotter

I ran the Utah Valley Half Marathon over the weekend, taking 3rd in 1:07:11. Not a blazing fast time for me, but I'm coming off a hamstring strain that has limited my ability to run fast for the past 7 weeks. In fact I just did my first faster track workout during that time-span two days before this race. I was targeting ~1:08 and was able to come in quite a bit faster than that, so it was a good sign that I'm making progress. I posted a slightly more detailed race recap on my running log (2013 UV 1/2 Report).

Next up is the USA Half Marathon Championships in Duluth, two weeks from now. Hopefully I'll keep my upswing going and be back in the 1:06 range.

Men's Podium