Thursday, August 08, 2019

FIRST TWENTY IN TWENTY NINETEEN

Classic waterfront loop and Springwater spur.
Things continue to tick along successfully. Last weekend I completed my first twenty mile run of the training cycle. That is always a milestone, although each training cycle it seems to become less of one. It's been encouraging just how painless the transition back into marathon form has been. I lost a lot while unmotivated this last winter, yet I am back and hopefully on pace to improve on my time from last year. Gotta keep on track and not blow up marathon day.

As I mentioned, last weekend was my first twenty mile run of the training cycle. The group I am training with was only planning nineteen, they hadn't hit twenty yet, but I got there 10 minutes early to run an extra mile. That meant a 6:35am wake up call. Ugh. Anyways, it was relatively painless. However, in the fog of morning brain I put on my everyday shoes instead of my running shoes. Yikes! Now, these everyday shoes are retired running shoes, but they have 440 miles on them (460 now) and are DEAD in terms of running support. So I noticed that a few miles in.

Also, I am part of an indoor soccer league and we have games on Friday nights. This has been an obstacle all training cycle and I think in the long run it'll actually be a net positive. My legs being just a little more tired from a half hour of soccer the night before should make these long runs that much more effective. We'll see. Anyways, couple those already a bit tired legs with dead shoes on the hottest long run morning so far, and you have the recipe for a bad run.

Honestly though, the run wasn't bad! My legs were a little more tired and achy than usual due the shoes and I started feeling the miles earlier in the run as well. However, I was able to finish without too much of a problem and felt like normal later that day and the next day. So no harm done. The weather was warm, hot even, but manageable. I have never been one to complain about the heat. Worst it can get if you start at a reasonable hour is high 70s or low 80s by the end. Just hydrate and enjoy the extra training effect.

The worst part of the run was MAJOR chaffing in the inner thigh area. Right where the "briefs" in my shorts have their seams. This was the worst chaffing I have ever experienced. It was brutal. I wished death upon myself in the shower after the run. My legs are still red today, five days later. Chaffing has been more of an issue this time around. It never used to be a problem, but I've had some low level stuff and this run just exploded things. I'm going to have to completely rethink my long run lubrication strategy.

Lastly, I'll talk about the interval run I did last night. I'm just kind of making my speed workouts up as I go along. So last night I decided to do 4 x 1 mile with some warm up and warm down to hit six miles on the night. I've never done a workout like this before, so I was interested to see how it went. My goal was to go below 7:30 on each interval and I was able to do that. 7:17, 7:06, 7:14, 7:09. It was actually kind of fun! I walked a quarter mile between each one for rest. Afterward, my body felt great and I surprised myself at how fast I was able to do them. Also can't believe I ran a 5k at 6:35/mi at one point.

Anyways, it is back to Roseburg for camping this weekend. Last time I went I couldn't bring myself to run because I felt like trash after sleeping on the ground. So I am going to run 12 miles tonight instead. That'll be my long run this week, and then I'll fit in another 6 when I get back on Sunday evening.

Friday, July 26, 2019

FIRST FARTLEK IN FIVE YEARS (PLUS OTHER SPEEDWORK)

Time for some updates on what has been happening since my relatively successful race on the Fourth of July. Marathon training is ticking along pretty well! I did end up skipping my long run last weekend. I had planned for a down week (11 miles) because of going to the Umpqua River to camp for a mini-vacation. While there, I just could not bring myself to run. Eff that. So, I ran six miles Sunday night when I got home and called it good. I'll hit 18 this weekend as planned and we'll be back on track.

6 x 800m Intervals on 7/11
I did this workout exactly one week after the Independence Day Half Marathon as my speed workout for the week. Unlike my 400s, I wasn't quite as fast as back in the day, but I was pretty close, only a couple seconds off each interval.

They went as follows: 3:23.1, 3:24.7, 3:24.1, 3:27.2, 3:25.9, 3:25.1. That's an average between 6:46/mi and 6:54/mi. I used to do these between 6:30 and 6:45. So not quite as quick, but in the ballpark. I definitely gave these my all given I had to do 6 of them and pace myself appropriately, so all told it was a pretty good workout.

6mi Tempo Run on 7/18
The next week I decided to do a tempo run. I think I'll be alternating between tempo runs and an interval type workout each week. This tempo run went off pretty well. I did my "home loop," which makes for a difficult tempo course because of over 400 feet of elevation gain over the course of six miles. Now, you get some downhills too, but those are typically after you've hoofed it uphill and thus can't take full advantage.

Anyways, I averaged 7:45/mile, which was pretty good! It was a really difficult workout and I definitely wasn't slacking on the pace. I think on a flat course that is equivalent to about 7:30 or so, which is a pretty decent speed and about where I would expect to be given my recent half time. As long as I keep running tempos on the course they will be apples to apples comparisons. Hopefully by the end of the cycle maybe I can do one at 7:30 despite the hills?

5.5mi Fartlek Run 7/24
Turns out this was my first fartlek since February of 2014. 2014! Crazy. I really didn't plan on doing this until a few hours before the run. I knew I needed to do some sort of speedwork but I couldn't decide what. For whatever reason a fartlek sounded "fun" so that's what I did. Gotta mix the speedwork up! So off I went for a slightly abridged version of my home loop.

So, it turns out fartleks, when done properly, are really hard! Holy hell! This thing was as hard as my famous pyramid interval. The "intervals" were anywhere from 150m to 1400m. It ended up being a really good variety of shorter and long intervals. At one point I did 320m at 5:30ish pace. I tried to time it so most of my "rests" were the uphill portions. That seemed to work pretty well but it also meant my rests weren't as restful as they could have been. Definitely wore out a little toward the end.

Overall I think this was the most difficult speed workout I've had in years. I was breathing hard for over five minutes after the run was over. I could not have gone any longer, I really gave it my all. Once I came back to reality though I felt pretty good. That is the kind of workout that results in measurable gains. Overall I averaged 7:57/mi, and that includes the rest periods!

My paces during the farlek run a few night ago.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

2019 INDEPENDENCE DAY HALF MARATHON RACE REPORT

At the finish!
Year two of the Independence Day Half at Champoeg Park started at 6:45 with my alarm blaring. Unlike last year, I wasn't second guessing my decision to wake up early on a holiday and run my butt off. I was excited to see where I was with my training. It would give me a good baseline for my current fitness level and inform me for the second half of my marathon training.

Breakfast was a Clif bar and a cup of coffee. I've been doing a cup of coffee before my longs runs as well and it seems to really help out. Luckily I was able to "go" this time around at my house and didn't spend the whole run with a slightly rumbly tummy. Getting there was a breeze traffic wise and I parked my car with about a half hour until gun time. I had picked my bib up the day before, so there was nothing to do but wander to the start line and wait.

THE FIRST 10K (7:36, 7:59, 7:52, 7:58, 8:03, 7:50)

I ran into a couple people I knew at the start line, so that was fun to chat with them and pass time until the race started. Eventually I wandered toward the front of the chute and before I knew it the race was off! For whatever reason I wasn't a ball of nerves, I think this time around I was much more sure in my abilities compared to last year. I had to weave around some people at the beginning but nothing too hateful. Within the first quarter mile or so I was in a pocket of people going just about the same speed.

The split times you'll see aren't necessarily accurate. For example, that 7:59... that was not my mile time. It was more like 7:45. This course has some twists and turns in the forest, and when you couple that with all the trees, sometimes the splits aren't quite accurate. Some probably are... the 7:58 is the turnaround with the hill and I can totally believe that time. 8:03 on that next mile though? No way. I was being very steady all all these miles were in the 7:50 range. I was keeping tracking of how far off the mile markers were, so when it said I was running 8:03 but only recorded .96 between the mile markers, I knew not to panic.

Luckily I do have a pretty good sense of pacing so I relied on that a lot since this course just isn't the best in terms of accurate GPS results. It's not terrible, far better than being in a big city with buildings, but just not the best. Anyways, for this first half I was running my target of 7:50s and feeling pretty good. It felt like the correct half marathon pace... you never really know until the later miles if that is true, but I was feeling pretty good about things. If I could just complete the first lap at 7:50ish, then I only needed to average 8:05ish on the next one to stay under 8:00/mile, which was my ultimate goal.

THE SECOND 10K PLUS (7:50, 8:14, 8:02, 8:19, 8:13, 8:16, 8:06)

Again, these splits don't really tell the whole story. I did not run an 8:14 8th mile. That was more like 8:00... again, it missed a lot of back and forth in one area like the lap before. I did slow down though. So while the splits might not be correct, they are instructive in that I slowed by about 20 seconds per mile the last four miles or so. Perhaps I went out a little hot.

Sunstone peeps!
Not much to report on this second loop, just trying to hold on. Some of these lap times were concerning when they flashed, but again, I was keeping track of the beeps in relation to the mile markers and adjusting accordingly. Toward the end the average pace on my watch climbed above 8:00/mi (it actually finished at 8:02), however, I knew this was inaccurate and didn't let it deter me. I was going to end about a quarter mile short on my watch, which translated into something like 8/sec mile. Yes, I was doing this math in my head as I ran, it was good distraction!

As with last year, the second loop is extended a little bit to help us hit 13.1, and that extension is basically a giant hill you have to go up and down. So that's the 8:19 mile. By the time I had finished this part I was ready to be done. My legs were officially tired. In terms of the lung/leg debate, it was my legs letting me down. Maybe I would have felt a little better if I wasn't running this in the middle of marathon training. Who knows. All I knew was that I had to grind those last few miles out.

And grind I did. Based on my math, I knew I would finish below 8:00/mile as long as I could finish them out in 8:15 or less. So that's what I focused on. The final part of the course leaves the shade of the trees and it was actually kind of hot with the sun beating down on me. Regardless, I just kept trucking. In a way this part of a race is kind of fun. When you are struggling a bit but just focus and grind it out. Maybe I'm just weird like that.

THE FINISH AND AFTER PARTY

I rolled through the finish and stopped my watch. Probably a shade under 1:44, meaning I was for sure below 8 per mile. Score! My total distance was also something stupid like 12.89 or something. The course wasn't short, my watch was just cheating me, as expected. Anyways, I was tired but not in terrible shape. I was able to walk around and be normal. Exhausted, sure, but feeling very accomplished.

The after party was fun, because unlike last year, I knew a bunch of people there and we were able to hung out and eat our burgers and drink our beers. I didn't check my results until after I got home, but it pretty much confirmed everything I suspected. 7:46 on the first lap (look at my splits again, I told you they weren't accurate) and 8:04 on the second lap. So even better than I thought. Overall a 7:55/mile pace. Sweet! Not quite the 7:49 of Boring last year, but still early enough in the cycle after a really lazy winter.



Official Results: 1:43:58, 7:55/mile. 21/127 overall, 15/61 male, 5/7 M30-34.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

INDEPENDENCE DAY HALF MARATHON YEAR TWO

Will I win the race? Answer: no.
Thursday, I am running the Independence Day Half Marathon again at Champoeg Park. I ran this race last year for the first time and generally enjoyed it, so I signed up again for another round. I have not had a dense year of racing, only three races so far, so it'll be good to get out there again. I wanted to sign up for more, but it is hard to fit them into my marathon training schedule without blowing out an entire week.

Since I've built this one into my schedule and want to make sure it counts, I'll be "racing" it. Like last year, running a half during marathon training isn't ideal, but with today and tomorrow off my legs should be in reasonable shape. It will be a good baseline for my fitness after running 1:47:33 a year ago. Obviously, I will want to beat that time at minimum. While my winter was really poor in terms of maintaining my fitness, I do feel like I am a touch faster than last year. So it will be good to run this to the best of my abilities and see how that shakes out.

Weather this year looks pretty decent. It is going to be a sunny day but it should be high 50s when the race kicks off at 8am, and low 60s by the time I finish. The course also has a decent amount of shade, so while not ideal, the weather shouldn't be a factor. The course also isn't the fastest, but also isn't too bad. There are a couple rolling hills and one decent climb on the second loop, but overall these will maybe add a minute or so over a completely flat course. Besides, it will be a good "apples to apples" comparison to last year.

As for an update on training in general... it is going well! I have been very good about my new "easy or fast" distinction, and if I am not doing speedwork, all my runs have basically been truly easy at 9:30 or slower. Last week I did a 5 mile tempo run on a HILLY course and got 7:41/mile overall. I was shocked I was able to do that given the route. Regardless of course, it was my fastest tempo run in training since August 2015. Almost four years! So that was a shot of confidence. I am also able to run my long runs (17 miles last week) without any issue. They don't even really feel hard. So I'm feeling like I'm in a good spot.

I've thought about my goals on Thursday and I basically have two. The first, and most important, is to beat last year. If I don't do that, I am going to be feeling pretty down on myself. So that's the goal at minimum. However, I would also really like to get under 8 minutes a mile. I feel like that is back in me (after losing it over the winter and spring), so that will be my main focus. I'm going to pace myself at 7:50/mile and try to hold onto it as long as possible. I feel like with race day adrenaline I can hold this for at least 8 or 9 miles. We'll see about the final few as it will depend on my how legs feel.

So that's the update! As always, I will post a race report with the results. Really hoping I can get under 8:00/mile. That would put me ahead of last year, and the main goal at Portland will be to beat my time at MCM, so that would mean I'm on track.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

FIRST INTERVALS IN NEARLY FOUR YEARS

Oh, hai. Just a quick post about the workout I did last night. I was feeling a bit rickety after my run Monday at PRC. It ended up being just over six miles and I accidentally wore the wrong shoes. Without noticing I put on my "everyday" sneakers, which are a retired pair of Nike Structures with 430 miles on them. Oops. About halfway through the run I was wondering why my legs felt like garbage and I looked down and was like... "Oh, that makes sense."

Anyways, I still felt a little out of sorts yesterday, not bad, but not great. Regardless, I wanted to get my four mile "speed" run this week out of the way. When the Sunstone route came out and it was a journey up the hilliest part of Beaverton, I knew that wasn't a good option for a tempo run. For whatever reason I got a wild hair and started to think about doing intervals on the track at Southridge High. I knew I wanted to vary my speed runs this training cycle, they can't all be four or five mile tempo runs, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to get some variety in.

This time around I had the right shoes on and after a warm up lap my legs were actually feeling pretty good. So I went for it. The plan was 8 x 400m with 400m rests. A workout I had done numerous times in the past. It would be a good baseline to compare my fitness back against 2013-2015 when I was significantly faster. I remember my 400 times usually being around 1:35 back then, so I was a little surprised when my first 400 clocked in at 1:32.5. Huh?

Interval times: 1:32.5, 1:33.9, 1:33.1, 1:34.5, 1:34.9, 1:34.7, 1:35.1, 1:32.6
Overall Average: 1:33.9 (6:16 per mile)

Every lap I was blown away at the times. There was no way. I was expecting like 1:42 or something. Needless to say, my first set of intervals in almost four years was a success! Looking back at my training log on Garmin Connect, this was the fastest I had averaged on 400m intervals. Even beating back when I was in my best shape. What gives?

I'm almost certain the reason I was able do them so quickly was because of my wholesale embrace of the "run slower to run faster" running theory. Basically, do your easy runs TRULY easy. Too many runners, the vast majority I would say, run their easy runs too quick. It feels "easy" but it isn't necessarily the easiest on your body. I used to do this all the time. I would run an "easy" 8:45 pace and then call 7:45/mile a tempo run.

While I was aware of this theory back in the day, I would kind of "yeah, yeah" poo poo it. Now, if I was sore and I truly needed an easy run, I would do it, but basically the majority of my "easy" runs were really "moderate" runs. Also, looking back at my old intervals, my "rest" laps were done at like a 9:00/mile pace. That's not resting! No wonder I wasn't able to hit the actual intervals harder. I shake my head looking back at my historical data sometimes. My recovery laps were 10:30-11:30ish this time around and I started to walk parts toward the end. Frankly, I could have walked the recovery laps and hit the intervals harder and it would have been a better workout.

Anyways, I am a huge subscriber of the "actually easy" run now. It works, people! Sometimes I miss chatting with people at run group because of it. You are going to run 9:00s? Sorry, see ya. I'll be back here doing 10:00s. I think this workout shows tangible result of that restraint though. I'm building mileage and hitting my speedwork hard when I do it. Speedwork on tired legs is not nearly as effective. So onward with this training style I go! I will sing its virtues from the hilltops.

Now watch me run a 5:15 marathon...

Saturday, June 15, 2019

MARATHON TRAINING TWENTY NINETEEN

Tomorrow, by resting and doing absolutely nothing, I will have completed my second official week of Portland Marathon training. However, as you can see by the calendar off to the right, I actually got in the groove a few weeks back. With the weather officially turning over to "nice," it has not been hard to motivate myself to get out there. And, with a running group almost every night I want to run, they are usually pretty fun too!

My long run distance is already up to 16 miles. My last four weekends have been 13.1, 13.5, 15, and 16. None of those were particularly hard either. The sixteen mile run today was a breeze. So that's really cool. I think after all these years my legs are adapting well and remembering distance after some time off. My legs also being treated for psoriatic arthritis helps. Who knows how long I had it at a low level affecting me. My knees never bug me anymore. Nary a complaint.

Last year, I basically did no speedwork. A couple of races during the training cycle and maybe like three random tempo runs? Nothing structured though. That was on purpose. The whole point of last year was to build mileage and see if my knees would hit a limit at some point. Everything last year went off swimmingly. I honestly think my knees are better than ever. I could do a 100 mile race and I don't think they'd be any worse off than anyone else's knees (I am NOT going to do a 100 miler btw!).

Group long run last Saturday for 15 miles
So, with that said, I am determined to do speedwork this year. Once a week I will do a speed run of some sort. Probably a lot of tempo runs, because that is still something I can do at run group and sometimes even have someone run with me. But I would also like to break off to the track and do some intervals at some point. We'll see. While I am dedicated to one speed run a week, I'm going to just play those by ear. Maybe sometimes I'll feel like doing it on Tuesday. Maybe some weeks I'll wait until Thursday. Just as long as I get it in.

In addition to the speed runs, I plan to do a couple races too. Nothing in stone yet, but a half marathon around the Fourth of July weekend and then probably another half in there somewhere. I meant to do more 5Ks and 10Ks, but those are hard with long runs on Saturday. If I do a lot of tempo runs though, I will basically be doing the same thing, so maybe I can distract myself with shorter races once the marathon cycle is over.

Anyways, that's the update! Can't believe I am in the middle of a training cycle again. At the same time though, it just feels right. What would my summers be without waking up at 6:45am on a Saturday on run for hours on end?