December 29, 2013

Saucony Type A6 (Preview) Review

Thanks to the guys at Saucony Racing and the Saucony Performance Engineering Lab, I was able to get a pair of the new Type A6 racing flats a few months before they are released so I could wear them at CIM. I've been wearing the Type As for racing since I got back into running seriously in 2011, and I was especially excited for the A6s because of some of the enhancements made to this newest version.

This is a FAST shoe. For most people, the Type A6 is ideal for 5K to Half-Marathon. For lighter, efficient runners it can be a fantastic marathon shoe. Like I said, I wore them at CIM, and while I'm also a big fan of the Fastwitch 6 and have had great success with that model, I'll stick with the A6 as my primary marathon shoe in 2014. This new version of the Type A felt a little more cushioned than the previous models, and I had no problems with my feet over 26.2 miles, even on a cold day in Sacramento.

What stays the same? The A6 continues to be a very light and responsive racing flat. The fit is the same as previous version, although I would say this new version is a little more "glove" like - which is great!

What's new? Saucony has incorporated new materials throughout the shoe (outsole, midsole, and upper) to make the entire shoe more durable AND lighter. That isn't an easy thing to do - but the Saucony lab is full of really smart people, and they hit a home run with the design of the A6. The outsole is now iBR+ blown rubber, and the upper is now all FlexFilm, which creates that seamless glove-like fit.

Other specs: Weight - Men's 9 = 5.1 ounces, Women's 8 = 4.5 ounces. Drop = 4mm. 

Release date: February 1, 2014.

The Saucony Blog has more details on the new Type A6.

My collection of Type As, going back to version #3. I wear all of these!
Another view of my A6s
As you would expect, Saucony's designers have come up with some sharp-looking color schemes...

Women's Purple/Slime and Men's ViZi Orange / Black
Women's Coral / Citron (from

Men's Citron / Blue / Orange

December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas, Marathon Recovery

We’re a little late on getting that obligatory Merry Christmas blog posted… we also haven’t mailed out our holiday cards yet (they've been ordered, though!). You’d think I’d be on top of things after actually taking some time off from running after CIM.

For once, I actually did take a decent period of total time off after the marathon (after putting it down beforehand in writing to hold myself accountable.

The down time was good – it allowed my body to recover from all of the damage a marathon (and training for one) does to it.

For comparison’s sake, here’s how much I ran in the 2 weeks after my other marathons. TOU 2013 was a “train through”:

I posted some thoughts about my 2014 season on my training blog entry for December 18th, and I’d like to share them here as well (although the 10.5 weeks I mention below is actually 9 weeks now):
From right now, I have 10.5 Weeks to the Phoenix Half Marathon (March 1), then another 8 weeks from that point until the Indy 500 Half Marathon (May 3). Those will probably be my two target races for the winter/spring. Since I'm going to continue to lay relatively low for the rest of December (but start phasing in some lighter efforts next week), it essentially breaks down to two 8-week training blocks with a little lead-in to the first one. I'm going to mainly use a 14 day / 5 quality efforts cycle. A lot of things will be similar to what I've done before, but with some tweaks such as wave tempos and different ways of using intervals to get the body good at clearing lactate.
I've built the outline of the calendar for the next four months, and then a sketch of what the rest of the year might look like... of course that is somewhat (but not completely) easy, the devil is in the details. I don't plan specifics of workouts this far in advance, for obvious reasons. I mainly like to have an outline to see how the types of workouts will flow, and it gives me an idea of where to start (from working backwards).
I'll run some other races during the first eight week cycle (USA 1/2 in Houston, and the SLC Winter Series). I'm not going to try and cram for Houston, I'm just going to slot it in as a hard workout and part of the buildup, with an extra easy day or two on either side of it. If it wasn't a free trip, I wouldn't be going. But it is a free trip, so why not? If nothing else, it will be a good checkpoint, and opportunity to race on the course that will also be hosting the USA 1/2 Champs in 2015. The fitness I'm carrying over from the fall should at least put me in a position to run a decent time. The winter series races can serve as a substitute for tempo runs of varying intensities (and they are on the best course in SLC!). Between Phoenix and Indy, I don't really plan to race at all. There isn't much that interests me during March/April other than the USA 15K (and Jacksonville is expensive and logistically difficult to get to). Plus that's the bigger and more important of those two training blocks, so there would be a lot of advantages to having no interruptions.
I like many of the things I did this fall, but there are obvious areas to improve. Spacing out workouts and giving myself more recovery was a sound move. I'll continue to do that. I'll take more breaks, and more days off. That doesn't bother me anymore. Mileage needs to be lower in January/February, then build cycle to cycle. I'll also continue to do more of the huge workouts, especially when preparing for a marathon. On the flip side, racing a half marathon (that you want to do really well in) five weeks before a marathon isn't necessarily bad, but I've found it isn't ideal. In the future, I'd want at least 7 or 8 weeks between a target half marathon and a marathon.
My spring marathon will be Grandmas Marathon in Duluth, which is more like a summer marathon (late June). Like Indy, they take good care of runners who want to come there and run fast. There are a lot of reasons why Grandmas is a good fit - I know the second half of the course well, they'll assemble a top-notch field, and if I decide in May that I want to keep my focus on the half, I can drop down to the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon. Plus, I like visiting Duluth. Its become something of a summer tradition for us.
And assuming all that goes as planned, I'd take a good break (like I'm doing now), do a short summer speed cycle, then train exclusively for a fall marathon with a proper, longer (10-12 week) marathon-specific buildup.

December 9, 2013

California International Marathon

2:20:41 (PR). 13th Place. 

Top 50 Results.

Here's my race report, which I also posted on my running blog.

First mile started off easy (after a starting gun that caught everyone by surprise) and the pack was huge (50-70 runners?). During the second mile it started to get rolling and strung out a bit. By the third mile there were three distinct groups formed - the lead pack, the chasers (which seemed to be the guys going for sub-2:18), and then the slower chasers (Fritz, Nate, me, and about 5-6 more guys aiming for ~2:20). I like to think of our group as the wolfpack. The first 10 miles went by quickly. A couple of the guys in our group fell back, but we had 6 guys working together for most of this time. As we hit the 10 mile mark I heard a guy counting out places and I was in 26th or 27th. Aerobically I was feeling great, but the combination of the cold temperatures and rolling hills was making my hamstrings feel tight - I started to notice it by mile 7 and I was actually a little worried about them until the halfway mark. From 10-13 miles we lost the two Kenyan guys in the group - it was down to the 3 Utah guys and a runner from Mexico (Castillo). We came through the half-marathon in 1:09:32, which was surprising - it felt like it was going to be closer to 1:10, but my math skills and sense of pace were apparently a little off. I'll blame the lack of precision on numb feet (due to the cold, not from the shoes - the A6s were awesome!).

First half splits: 5:32, 5:19, 5:15, 5:10, 5:19, 5:19, 5:18, 5:23, 5:23, 5:13, 5:15, 5:19, 5:16 = 1:09:32

Castillo started picking it up right as we crossed the timing mat and I went with him. That was the last I would see of Fritz and Nate, but it was really awesome to run with them for the first 13.1. Racing alongside your friends and training partners makes the effort feel more comfortable - more like a workout, and that can make a big difference, especially with rationing mental energy during a long race.

I got into a really good rhythm for the next six miles and started to loosen up. It was still cold but the sun was now on us. Castillo pulled away from me (he ran 2:19:30), but during this stretch I caught a few other guys. Andrea was on the course at 16.5 and then again at 19.5 (after already seeing me at 6 and 11.5 - she is really good at this spectating thing). I got another surprise when my friends Nate and Nora were jumping up and down just before the 20 mile mark (Nate and I were roommates in college and they drove over from San Francisco to come and watch). Came through 20 miles in 1:46:19 and sub-2:20 was still in play...

Then life started to get pretty hard after 20, as it typically does. There was a little bit of a wind blowing as we started moving into downtown. It wasn't much, and it wasn't the reason I slowed down, but it was definitely something that I noticed. I think the main reason I even noticed it is because it flashed me back to just over two years ago in Philadelphia. After almost identical 13.1 and 20 mile splits (see the bottom of this entry), I had a flat, straight 10K to go... and was hurting a bit. My hamstrings were starting to feel shot, and just like in Philly, I could feel some wind in my face. But this time I was NOT going to fall apart. No way, not an option! I faded to ~5:30 pace, but didn't bleed any worse than that (what we call a "Paul Petersen crash"). The day before, Andrea and I talked about how important "backup" goals are... that if I wasn't going to break 2:20, I needed to make breaking 2:21 JUST AS IMPORTANT. So that's what I did... I fought hard to break 2:21. I caught Matt Dewald, then went after the last guy in front of me (Stephen Shay) and passed him with about 3/4th of a mile left. I tried my best to sprint from 26 to the finish (I'm sure it didn't look smooth, and it hurt!). My legs were wrecked and it was hard to even walk after crossing the line. But I was happy... to run a PR, to finally see some improvement in the marathon, and to finish knowing I gave it everything I had.

Second half splits: 5:14, 5:18, 5:16, 5:16, 5:22, 5:22, 5:29, 5:32, 5:31, 5:32, 5:32, 5:32, 5:34, 1:09 = 1:11:09

I knew that realistically I was in shape to run 2:20 +/- a minute, so I consider this within the range of a good performance. A Top 10 finish was another goal, and I ended up 13th in a strong field. I don't like the positive split, but I can live with it.

Other thoughts (and then pictures):

Weather - Cold. 27 degrees at the start, actually dropped down to 24 during the race, and it never got above 30 degrees. Cold is definitely much better than hot, but the combination of rolling hills and cold temps is not great for my hamstrings. I actually came into this race a few pounds heavier than I would have liked to be, but that might have actually played to my advantage a bit, because with a little extra insulation I wasn't totally freezing.

Course - Fast (drops 300 feet from start to finish), but could be deceptive. I was mentally prepared for the rolling hills in the first half (because I heard so many people tell me not to underestimate them) but if I run CIM again, I'll do a lot more training on routes that specifially simulate this course. I want to run a Chicago-type course next year, because I think that's what I'm best suited for.

Competition - CIM doesn't draw an "A" list field, but the depth in the 2:15-2:30 range is as good as you'll find anywhere.

Organization - First class all the way. Major kudos to the Sacramento Running Association (especially Danielle Domenichelli) for taking care of everything. There was nothing to worry about... we even knew thing like specifically where our bottles would be ahead of time (For me - table #1, 4th bottle on the right). That kind of attention to detail is awesome.

Nutrition - I'm making progress here, and feel like I have it figured out pretty well now. Gels don't bother me anymore, and I actually take them. I've also have my pre-race / breakfast dialed in. I didn't drink more than 3-4 ounces total during the race, but also didn't really need to in those temperatures.

Post Race Activities - Fancy brunch with a jazz band, hot tub, then flew home.

Training Analysis - I'll save that for another blog post. I'm taking a week off so I'll have nothing better to do. I enjoyed this training cycle and did a lot of smart things. I also learned some things that will affect how I want to approach my running in 2014. Things I am excited about. My buildup to this race was documented on the blog in 3 posts: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Thank You! - Everyone here who follows the blog, etc. I've said this before, but I realize how lucky I am to have such a great network of friends and family (especially my parents... I know they get nervous waiting for the tracking updates to come in). Fritz and Nate, for the camaraderie of training and racing together... let's make this a habit. Andrea, for not being afraid to battle against me when we disagree (often!), and then for 100% support when we go to war... together.

The three packs. Thanks to ViZiPRO, you can see the wolfpack in the back

3/4 of a mile left...

Just close your eyes and it will all be over soon...

Our friends Nate and Nora

With Fritz and Nate post-race

And here's CIM vs Philly... I like the final outcome better this time. Now I just need to nail that last 10K.

PHL 2011  1:09:33 - 1:46:05 - 2:25:57
CIM 2013   1:09:32 - 1:46:19 - 2:20:41

I've run 4 good marathons in a row now (2:22, 2:23, 2:23, 2:20 in the past 15 months). I'm ready to make the leap in 2014!


All splits - 5:32, 5:19, 5:15, 5:10, 5:19, 5:19, 5:18, 5:23, 5:23, 5:13, 5:15, 5:19, 5:16, 5:14, 5:18, 5:16, 5:16, 5:22, 5:22, 5:29, 5:32, 5:31, 5:32, 5:32, 5:32, 5:34, 1:09 [1:09:32 / 1:11:09 = 2:20:41]

December 5, 2013

CIM Tracking

Here's the live tracking link for the 2013 California International Marathon. There will be splits at 5.9 miles, 13.1 miles, 20 miles, and the finish. That link also will take you to the race leaderboard.

I'll be wearing bib #55. Two of my friends and training partners are also running - Fritz (bib #41) and Nate (bib #69). We are aiming to work together for the first half and come through right around 1:10.

The weather looks like it will be cold (mid-twenties) but at the moment, it doesn't seem like we'll be dealing with any storms like they had last year.

My high school teammate Hector used to say "Run Fast, Big Trophy." He was right, its not all that complicated. So I wrote that on the bottom of my racing flats to remind myself to just believe in my training and RUN FAST on Sunday morning.

December 4, 2013

Training Summary - 5 weeks up to CIM

Last 5 weeks leading up to CIM

This is Part 3 (of 3) of my marathon training summary leading up to the 2013 California International Marathon, which will take place in a couple days.

The TOU Marathon was essentially the start of my CIM training. The next 3 weeks after that race are summarized here, followed by 3 more weeks leading up to the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. After that race, I had 5 more weeks until the marathon, which is summarized in the table above.

Week of November 4: After the race in Indianapolis I bounced back pretty quick. I gave myself 4 easy days, got a great sports massage, then got back to business with a pair of solid workouts - 3 x 5K at ~5:12 pace, and then a 23 mile long run with 26.2K AT Tempo (16.3 miles) at a little slower than goal marathon pace.

Week of November 11: Another solid volume week of volume with a track/hills/track workout in the middle of the week, and then I won the Saltair Half Marathon in a controlled 1:10:01.

Week of November 18: The midweek workout was a good one, 2 x 10K at ~5:13 pace, and I did my last longer run over the weekend - a 19 miler with a 10 mile AT progression, dropping from ~5:40 to 5:10.

Week of November 25: Headed to Phoenix for Thanksgiving. Won the Mesa Turkey Trot 10K in 31:00 (unchallenged) and then did an 8 mile AT Tempo at ~5:15 pace. I cut down my mileage by about 20-25% this week.

Week of December 2: Race week! I'm writing this midway through the week. I took a day off on Monday and came out of it feeling pretty good. This morning I did a 4 mile AT progression on the treadmill (not by choice, the roads were covered in ice). I'll probably throw in one faster mile on Friday, then we head to Sacramento for the race on Sunday.

Nothing fancy here. Just two solid, longer workouts each week. I feel fit and ready to roll. My "A" goal is to finally break 2:20. I'm planning to hit the halfway point in 1:10:00 or just under and see what I can do from there. 

Andrea just gave me this pre-race good luck stuffed wolf!