August 23, 2014

2014 Top of Utah Half Marathon

Photo from

2014 Top of Utah Half Marathon - 1:07:37 - 1st Place

I've said this before, but I love running the Top of Utah races! The courses are great, the competition is excellent, and the races are always very well-organized. After a hiatus of nearly four months from racing, it felt great to break the tape today at the TOU 1/2. This is the second time in three years that I've won this race.
Here's a shortened version of my FRB race report (that link has some more details / splits / wolf tattoo discussion) and some snippets from a local newspaper article follow at the bottom of this post.

My goals for this year's TOU 1/2 were:

1. Win
2. Finish the race strong
3. Continue to build overall momentum with my running

I'm not at the fitness level I've brought into this race previously (recent training summary), so I ignored the splits being spit out by my watch, and focused on running a smart race that would put me in position to accomplish all of the above goals.

Going down the canyon, I hung back to see who else would take the initiative. Jason led the early miles, while Fritz and Steve eventually moved up to him. According to the timing mat I was 17 seconds back of those guys at seven miles. I wasn't sure how I felt - not great, but not bad either. Then it seemed like Steve moved even further ahead and had a good sized lead on everyone. At the nine mile mark I was probably almost 30 seconds off the lead and needed to get moving. I passed Jason during the 10th mile, then Fritz during the 11th, and finally got Steve at the top of the Millville hill in mile 12. I had a good amount left in the legs and was able to stretch the lead out to a comfortable margin. It felt good to break the tape.

Obviously the time was a lot slower than I've run here in the past, but I'm not reading anything into that. For where I'm at right now, I got everything I wanted out of this race. One positive that sticks out is my attitude over the final miles. I had the chance (and contemplated taking it for a few minutes) to cruise in and use excuses like "it's your first race in a while" and "you've got a lot of miles under your legs recently" but instead I told myself "go get everyone" and I ran the last 3-4 miles exactly as I planned. I also remembered around that time that I had already spent the prize money on Thursday (another set of Dynafit bindings) so I had better win it back!
Jake Krong loves running in Cache Valley.
In fact, the Salt Lake City resident referred to the Top of Utah Half Marathon “definitely my favorite half marathon.” 
It’s hard to think Krong will change his mind as long as he keeps shining at one of the state’s most popular half marathons.
For the second time in four years, Krong reigned supreme at the TOU Half, which concluded Saturday at Zollinger Park. The 30-year-old came from behind to edge Steve Shepherd by 12 seconds. Krong covered the 13.1-mile course, which starts at the Hyrum Hydro Park up Blacksmith Fork Canyon, in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 37 seconds. 
“It’s my slowest time on the course, but I kind of knew that coming in that I was really just trying to run for the win today,” Krong said. “I kind of hit a low point in my training in May in June and had to take a little time off, and then I’ve been building back up. So, I knew I wasn’t as sharp as I’ve typically been. This is my first race in almost four months ... so it feels good to beat some quality runners, and I feel good about this moving forward to the fall marathons.”
Krong was unable to challenge his personal-best time of 1:05:39 on this course but, considering the time he took off, was pleased with his performance. The champion of the 2012 Top of Utah Marathon, who is currently training for the Chicago Marathon, actually trailed Shepherd, Fritz Van De Kamp and Jason Holt by 20-30 seconds for much of the first half of the course. 
“I didn’t worry about my watch today and just tried to catch guy by guy,” said Krong, who finished with a 5:08-per-mile clip. “And even with about four miles to go, Steve still had probably 25 seconds on me, so I really had to boogie up the Millville hill to catch him. And I finally took the lead in the last mile and ran just under five minutes for the last mile to win it.”
Cache Valley

Top 4 Men

August 21, 2014

Tennessee Wedding

Andrea and I at the new property we purchased
(we wish!)

A couple photos from a four day trip to Tennessee. This is apparently the stretch of time when our best childhood friends get married - Andrea's friend Meghan this past weekend, and my friend Mike's coming up next month. Makes for fun travel!

The wedding was at Crescent Bend on the Tennessee River

ALWAYS wear Saucony shoes. Even with a suit.
On Monday we walked around the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville

August 20, 2014

Chicago Marathon Training #2 - Blue Collar Approach

"The schedule is pretty simple. We don’t have complicated workouts. We just do the basic 3-4 types of reps, the tempo run, and the long run with relatively high mileage. There are no drills; there is no core or lifting—any of that. I do put a little of that in myself, but from my standpoint you just need to be fit from running to be good at running." - Molly Huddle
A good quote that jives well with the approach I've been taking this summer. Here's a bunch of random but connected thoughts about my training for the past couple weeks.

My first Chicago Marathon training recap left off on July 27th (link). Since then, I've continued to make some nice progress:

After weeks of 115, 125, and 135 miles, I bumped it up just a bit over these past three weeks and did 135, 140, and 145 miles. I added one mile to the long run each week, and kept alternating between 200s on the track and 30 second hill reps once per week. Simple stuffI've continued to extend the length of the track intervals while progressively ratcheting up the pace a little bit each week. Workout details: 5 x 2000m3 x 3000m2 x 4000m1 x 5000m.

This weekend I'll run the Top of Utah Half Marathon - my favorite race in Utah and one where I've performed consistently well in the past (2011 - 1:05:40, 2nd; 2012 - 1:06:03, 1st; 2013 - 1:05:39, 2nd). I'm not in shape to challenge my course PR - my goal is to compete for the win, and continue to build momentum.

Another way to look at the first half of the buildup towards Chicago is this handy little chart...

Not impressively fast workouts by any means, but I'm staying very patient and looking for gradual, consistent improvements.

Bloodwork done a few weeks ago shows my levels moving back in the right direction after hitting a lowpoint in June:

This loop in Park City's South Snyderville Basin has become my new favorite long run:

August 4, 2014

San Francisco - Wine Country

I've been pretty fortunate this year in regards to work-related trips - in March I went to San Diego and Atlanta - and last week I had a meeting in San Francisco, conveniently scheduled for Thursday/Friday which allowed us to extend the trip into a long weekend with our friends Nate and Nora in the Bay Area.

For the first two days in San Francisco I primarily did my running along the Embarcadero (Fisherman's Wharf, etc) and did an out and back across the Golden Gate Bridge during a 23 mile long run. Over the weekend I did all of my running in Golden Gate Park, which has a ton of bike paths and cool trails.

Unfortunately the weather in the city was foggy and chilly for the majority of the weekend, so we headed north to the vineyards of Sonoma for sunshine and warmth... and (lots of) wine! 

The wineries we toured were Benziger Family Winery and Gundlach Bundschu.

We had a great time and are looking forward to another trip to the Bay Area at the end of September.

Blustery summer conditions in San Fran
Brunch at the Fremont Diner

Benziger Family Winery
Gunclach Bundschu Winery
These grapes were delicious to eat right off the vine

Lots of barrels, worth LOTS of money

Post-wine tour #2