May 15, 2014

Interview with Run Utah Magazine for USATF-Utah

I did a brief interview for the magazine on behalf of USATF-Utah. Check out the whole thing here: May-June 2014 issue of RUN UTAH Magazine., which publishes the magazine, has the best and most comprehensive race calendar in the state.

May 6, 2014

Spring Training #4 - Four weeks leading up to Indianapolis

Fourth installment in my training summaries. Previous posts: #1 - #2 - #3

Here are the key workouts for the past four weeks. Click the links for details/splits.

Week of April 7: - LT Shuffle: 10 x 3/1 minutes. I was coming off the Cherry Blossom 10 mile race on April 6th, so I was only planning one quality workout this week. The rest of the week was just easy miles and strides.

Week of April 14: 8 x 400m (1500); LT Shuffle: 8 x 5/1 minutes; 5 x 800m + 10 x 200m (3K/1500). A solid but not spectacular series of sessions. My splits in these workouts were very similar to the last time I ran some of these same exact workouts about a month before.

Week of April 21: LT Shuffle: 2 x 10/1 minutes (bombed workout); 8 x 600m + 6 x 400m + 4 x 200m (5K/3K/1500). The Tuesday workout was planned to be 4x10/1, but I had stomach issues and had to bag it. The Saturday track workout felt good... easy.

Week of April 28: 2 mile LT effort; Indianapolis 500 Festival Half Marathon (1:07:00, 16th place). I never felt sharp and got the pop in my legs as I tapered for the race. On Thursday I woke up with a very tight back and wondered if I could even race. Luckily I got it sorted out, but couldn't turn the week around and pull off a good race at the Indy Mini.

A disappointing race in Indianapolis...

Yeah, that didn't quite go as planned! I knew that sub-65 was probably not realistic at this point, but I did feel like my fitness was at a strong enough place to take down my PR.

Where did the long runs go?

The one thing you notice in this block of workouts is that I didn't have any long runs. I thought those long LT workouts (which are a total of ~18 miles with half of that mileage at LT effort or faster) would be enough to carry me through. The lack of aerobic long runs certainly wasn't the reason I ran 1:07:00, but I do know that I respond very well to that type of stimulus in training...

What adjustments will I make now?

One bad race doesn't mean the last two months of training were a bust. A number of factors contributed to a sub-par performance, and I know I'm in very good shape at the moment. However, I think you always need to be looking for ways to make beneficial adjustments. That being said, over the next month I plan to:

-Bring back the long runs (at Jeremy Ranch, the high-altitude, hilly dirt road that has helped me get very fit in the past)
-Drop the length/frequency of the LT workouts a bit. I've done a lot of them over the past couple months, so I don't need to hammer that system much more during this next block.
-Focus the multi-pace track sessions on 5000m pace.
-Increase my overall mileage. I've been living in the 90-100 miles/week range this year, after years of putting in 120-140 mpw during important training cycles. I'm very healthy at the moment, so I plan to ramp up the mileage for the next month. High mileage training is what I thrive on, and what gives me the most confidence going into races.

The big target race for the remainder of the spring is the Bjorklund Half-Marathon in Duluth on June 21st. I feel like I need a couple tune-up races before that one, so at the moment I'm planning to (change my race schedule AGAIN) and run a 5000m on June 7th (Jim Bush USATF West Regions Champs) and a 10,000m on June 14th (Portland Track Festival). The challenge is 3 PRs in 15 days.

My log for the whole month of April.. we got in lots of good skiing!

May 4, 2014

Indianapolis 500 Festival Half Marathon (The "Mini")

1:07:00, 16th place.

This one gets classified as a total BOMB. I've written up a race recap below, and kept it light because this is probably one of the worse races I've traveled for in a long time (ever?). These things happen. I'll make a few tweaks to my training - put in another solid block of training and be ready to deliver next month in Duluth. In a few days I'll post an analysis of training leading up to this race. I figured, even on a bad day, I'd be able to break 1:06, so this sort of came as an (unpleasant) surprise.

My report on Fast Running Blog:

I did not have it today. I could probably find some excuses about stuff going on that affected my performance, but the fact is that I ran 1:07 (on the dot - again!) which isn't something I should ever be doing at this point in my life. It's not acceptable. I am glad I have one more shot at a half-marathon this spring and 7 weeks to train for it before turning my attention to 26.2; I intend to knock one out of the park in Duluth and redeem myself for what has been a disturbing trend of solid training and poor racing. Ultimately, I judge my running based on actual race performances, and don't get any satisfaction about what I could/should have been able to do. The stopwatch and tape measure never lie.

The last time I was in Indianapolis, I got beat by Michael Jordan. On Thursday night I got a text message from a guy named Steve Kerr - "Hey Jake, I'll be picking you up at the airport tomorrow." You can't make this stuff up! Indianapolis-ans must have been secretly rooting for the Bulls during the 90s.

The Indy Mini is a pretty cool event - the biggest half-marathon in the USA with 38,000 runners! In addition to being a bucket list item for the masses, they also put together an impressive prize money purse which draws out a very competitive field of athletes. The course is nice and flat, as you'd expect in the Midwest... and why I keep coming here to run.

Almost 2.5 miles of the race is on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - which I had heard was a very lonely place... but it wasn't too bad - it just reminded me of my boring tempo loop! I actually wouldn't mind doing workouts there.

The RDs were very accommodating, and put me in a nice hotel (with my friend Paul) the night before the race. We burned the midnight oil until the clock hit 8:30pm (6:30pm our time) and then hit the sack.

I felt flat from the start of the race (on our warmup too) and never really got going, despite a more conservative start compared to other half-marathons I've run.

Splits: 5:02, 4:59, 5:09, 4:57, 5:13, 5:08, 5:05, 5:16, 5:05, 5:14, 5:02, 5:12, 5:06, :27 = 1:07:00

I knew going into this that I wasn't going after 65... but I figured I had a good shot at cracking 66 and taking down my PR. That race in Long Beach just doesn't want to give up it's spot on my sidebar!

On a positive note, I was able to beat Michael Jordan this time.

The top pack ran fast - 6 guys under 1:03! [Results]. Kenyans dominated. I think I was the 3rd American - in 16th place overall.

After the race I had a ton of time to kill before a 7:45pm flight home. I ended up at the hotel gym doing a lot of stretching while Frank Shorter was riding the stationary bike. I should have introduced myself, but I was afraid he would ask how I ran. Later, at the airport, Frank kept walking past me in the terminal, rubbing it in! He won the original Indy Mini, back when it started and finished on the track.

The craziest part of the day was the ride from the hotel back to the airport. I got picked up by Bill Cartwright, Stacey King, and Horace Grant. But not the Indianapolis versions... the real Chicago Bulls. I take it as a good omen from the universe that running the Chicago Marathon this fall is the right choice. Like I said, you just can't make this stuff up!

OK I made the last part up.