Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Goodbye, twenties

Last week marked my last days as a twenty-something year old. Now and forever more, I am officially old. It was a decent week of running. I'm in sort of a recovery/taper limbo as I try to get my legs back up to speed after Colorado while trying to prepare for Deadwood-Mickelson, which is now two short weeks away.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 6 miles recovery.

Wednesday - 9 miles including 3x600m hill intervals. This was my (apparently lame) attempt to determine my max heart rate. My Garmin had marked my highest HR during the DAM 5K as 184, so I suspected my max was actually a little bit higher. So, I set out to find out just how much higher. After warming up for a few miles, I ran up a 600m long hill, jogged back down and repeated the process two more times. The idea is that by the time I got to the top on the the third try, my heart would be just about ready to explode. Well, it didn't quite work out that way, as the highest HR I was able to achieve was only 179. Maybe I could have gotten it higher if I had done more repeats but, honestly, three was plenty.

Thursday - 6.3 miles recovery. It was windy and drizzly when I started. About halfway through, I heard some thunder and the drizzle turned into an all-out downpour, which then turned to tiny hailstones, which was all being driven by 30 mph winds, which I was running straight into. Awesome. Any locals who just weren't sure about my sanity before are now very sure that I'm a few cards short of a deck.

Friday - 17.2 miles. My wife was flying to Vegas in the afternoon to surprise her mom for her 50th birthday, so I had to get the long run done before she left. This was also my first run ever as a 30 year old. I didn't break a hip or suffer any dementia (or at least not any more than normal), so I guess my advanced age hasn't caught up to me yet.

Saturday - 5.1 miles recovery. I waited around all day for a break in the rain showers so I could load the kids into the jogging stroller and get a run in. We finally did catch a break and the kids had a blast. It was the first time I've run with them in a long time and I definitely noticed that they've put on some weight since then.

Sunday - 7.4 miles recovery. The kids were excited to go again, but I noticed that my daughter's interest waned significantly after about 5 miles. If I could find a loop that was lined with horses the entire way, she'd be good for 20 or 30.

Total - 51 miles

Less than two weeks until Deadwood-Mickelson and one thing I know for sure is that it won't be a fast run. My legs just won't move me as fast as they did pre-Colorado. Good thing I don't have any lofty goals for this one.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Taper time!!.....again??

Well, I guess since the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon is a mere three weeks away, I'm in taper mode now, although this week will actually be my highest mileage week between Colorado and DMTM. In any case, this last week went pretty well:

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 6.1 miles recovery

Wednesday - 6.3 miles recovery in the morning and basketball at lunch time. First time I've played lunchtime basketball since January. I was definitely feeling it afterwards. Just plain running is far different from running/stopping/jumping/running/jumping/stopping/running.

Thursday - 5 miles recovery

Friday - 7.2 miles recovery

Saturday - 5.1 miles total including 2 miles of warmup and the DAM 5K in Sturgis (see report below).

Sunday - 12 miles easy. This was my first double digit run since Colorado. It went well considering it was pretty warm out and I decided to venture up a new road (as in they just built the thing to provide access to a new subdivision) that had a 15.5% percent grade on the uphill. Thanks in large part to that hill, I ended up climbing a total of over 1000 feet during the run.

Total - 41.7 miles

So, three weeks to go until DMTM. I'm kind of relieved that I don't have any lofty goals in mind for this race because I can tell that the speed just isn't there right now. For now, I plan on running around a 3:30 with my friend Juan, who is coming out from Eugene for the race. I realized last week that 3:30ish is kind of my default marathon time. Out of eight marathons, I have run four of them within two minutes of 3:30 (3:29 at Brookings, 3:30 at Montana, 3:32 at Missoula, and 3:28 at Monumental Challenge). So, I guess I should actually shoot for a 3:31 to complete the full sequence from 3:28-3:32. This will also be my first race as a 30 year old, so I guess that makes a 3:30 time all the more appropriate.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

DAM 5K Race Report

I ran the Douglas A. Miller 5K (DAM 5K sounds so much more appropriate considering how I feel when I'm actually running one) this morning. It went well, considering. I had run this race once before, two years ago. That time, it was just one week after I had set my then-PR at the Brookings Marathon, so needless to say I wasn't feeling all that speedy. I ended up running a 22:25 that day and got 3rd in my AG (my first ever AG award).
To be honest, I wasn't really feeling like Speedy Gonzales today either, but at least this time I've had a whole two weeks to recover from my most recent marathon PR. I knew from running this race before that the course definitely was not conducive to setting a PR thanks to 1.5 miles or so of almost constant upill during the first half of the race. Since it was a loop course, that meant we eventually got some pretty serious downhills, but by then my still-fatigued legs were feeling pretty well dead to the world, my lungs were on fire, and my stomach was seriously considering emptying itself. I did manage to put in a kick on the very last descent, with the finish line in sight, but I just didn't have the speed I should have while running downhill. That's what you get for running a 5K two weeks after a marathon, I guess. In any case, I finished in 20:24, 6th out of 68 overall and won my age group in my very last race as a twenty-something year old. My time was about 40 seconds slower than my 5K PR but, given the cirumstances, I'll take it.

The pic is of me approximately 10 feet from the finish line. After I finished I assumed the "I can't friggin breath and I think I'm gonna hurl" position for awhile before I managed to get enough oxygen to my brain to function somewhat normally. Ah, the joys of running a 5K!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chomping at the bit

Only one week has gone by since that race I'm not supposed to mention anymore and I'm already itching to race again. Considering how bad I felt, both mentally and physically, a week ago, that's hard to imagine. But, I had a good week of recovery and now I just want to RACE.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - Rest

Wednesday - A very stiff, very slow 4 miles.

Thursday - Was supposed to rest, but my new Forerunner came in the mail. So, of course, I had to try it out. Went 3.1 miles and made a point to run on a bunch of streets I've never run on before.

Friday - 5.2 miles. The legs feel MUCH better now that I've started running again.

Saturday - 5.2 miles. It's freaking snowing. Again. On May 10th. Not cool. Think of the worst expletive-laden insult you can come up with. Now, multiply that times 10 and you've got an idea of how I feel toward Mother Nature.

Sunday - 8.25 miles. I was only "supposed" to go 7, but my legs felt great and I was exploring new backroads. I easily fell right back into my normal "long" run pace and then actually cranked out the last couple of miles at BQ pace or faster, just because.

Total - 25.75 miles

I can already see that I'm going to have issues sticking to my recovery plan, but I'll try not to go too overboard. My general plan for now is to build the mileage back up somewhat sensibly, use Deadwood-Mickelson in 4 weeks as a really long training run and then try to get into decent shape to run a solid effort (i.e., faster than last year's 3:32) at Missoula in July.

I'm also going to scratch that racing itch at the DAM 5K this Saturday in Sturgis. I ran this race two years ago. Back then it was held in the evening and it was 90 degrees that day. Add to that the fact that I had just run a marathon (Brookings) the week before and the first half of the 5K is basically all uphill and my performance wasn't all that spectacular. This year, they are having the race in the morning, so the weather should be much more favorable. And I know about that uphill now, so my pacing will be a little smarter. I'm not expecting a PR out of the deal, but I am going for a stronger showing than last time. After all, this will be my last race as a twenty-something year old, so I've gotta go out with a bang.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Onward and upward

So, I basically gave myself two days to wallow in self pity and be pissed off about my performance at the Colorado Marathon on Sunday. That two days has expired and, believe me, I did a lot of thinking/analyzing while trying to figure out what in the hell went wrong. Everything in my training, from the 80-100 mile weeks to the massive 10K PR, indicated that I was primed to not only run a 3:10, but actually as fast as 3:04. I got a 3:18. WTF!!?? Here's what I've come up with:

I just didn't feel right from the beginning of the race. I think this relates directly to how I felt the few days leading up to the race. I had been trying to ignore a sore throat for at least three days before the race. I can't say for certain that it affected my performance, but I guess it probably didn't help. Also, the last two days before the race, I had also been trying to ignore some nasal congestion. Again, at the time, I didn't feel like it was affecting my performance, but it probably wasn't helping. Then there was my stomach. I don't know why it felt the way it did during the race because I followed the same pre-race nutrition plan I have for the last 18 weeks of training, but something was definitely up. I have, in the past, had issues with energy gels upsetting my digestive tract and forcing portapotty stops, but my digestive system started revolting on Sunday by mile 3, two full miles before I ate my first Hammer Gel. And, after I did eat a Hammer Gel at mile 5 (and again at miles 10, 15 and 20), the stomach/digestive issues didn't get worse, which indicates to me that there was some other underlying problem. This theory seems to be supported by the fact that my stomach was not happy with me for two full days after the race; I would get hungry and eat, but couldn't eat much before I started feeling slightly sick. I won't go into detail about the experiences I had while sitting on the throne during those two days....I'll just say that it wasn't pleasant. So, I guess if you add all that stuff up along with the pounding my legs were taking on the downhill course, you end up with a 3:18 instead of a 3:10 (or faster).

So, what now? Well, I went for my first post-marathon run yesterday morning. Actually, calling it a "run" is being pretty generous. It was more like a stiff-legged hobble to start out and then eventually progressed to something somewhat resembling a run. For the most part, my legs feel good, but my quads have been in absolute revolt until today. They actually feel pretty decent today and for the first time I feel like I can stand up and walk around without having to actually think about it. Good thing, cuz I've got just over 4 weeks until my next marathon (and then 6 weeks until my next one after that....no rest for the wicked). I'll be running the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon on June 8 with a friend from Eugene. I don't have any grand plans for DMTM; the course isn't really conducive to a PR or BQ what with it's 13.1 miles of constant uphill followed by 13.1 miles of constant downhill. I'm just running this one for fun (that's right, marathoning can be fun....unlike at Colorado....oops, I'm supposed to stop dwelling on that). After that, it's on to Missoula on July 13. I don't know what my plans for Missoula are, but I would like to have a stronger race there than I did last year, when I almost literally melted in the 80 degree heat over the last 8 miles. Hopefully Mother Nature is more cooperative this year, but if you've read this blog at all, you know my feelings about the odds of that happening. I am absolutely itching to get out and race right now. Colorado, PR or not, left a bad taste in my mouth and I want to wash it away in a bad way. It's like I just got out of a bad relationship and need to find something on the rebound, if you know what I mean;).

Further fueling my itch to get out and run is the fact that I got an early birthday present (I turn the big 3-0 on the 23rd, for those of you not in the know) in the mail yesterday. Last week, I got an REI catalog in the mail and noticed that they had the Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS unit on sale for 44% off, by far the cheapest I've ever found it. I've been wanting a Forerunner for a long time and finally decided to take the plunge and get one. So, for those of you out there who were planning on sending me money for my birthday, thank you; it's been spent:). Even though today is supposed to be a rest day according to my recovery plan, I'm having a hard time not trying it out. No longer will I be confined to routes where I know the mileage ahead of time; the Forerunner will basically allow me to run wherever I want to as it tracks my mileage, pace, calories burned, and heart rate for me. I'm really looking forward to using the heart rate monitor feature, which I think will allow me to train much more efficiently by staying within certain heart rate zones for different workouts.

So, there you have it. I'm moving on with my life and shifting my focus to Deadwood, Missoula and beyond. From here on out, slap me upside the head if you read any bitching about Colorado;).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Not exactly how I'd planned it...

Well, I think by now most of you know that Colorado didn't exactly turn out the way I'd hoped. I never really felt all that good during the race....there were a few moments where everything felt like it was falling into place but they were too few and far between. My stomach started giving me issues by mile 3, which is never a good thing and it ended up affecting me the whole way. I was on my Boston qualifying pace until mile 19, but I knew that there was no way I could maintain it for 7 more miles because my legs were dead and I was trying way too hard to maintain the pace. I briefly considered just throwing in the towel right then and there, but I hadn't driven all that way and spent all that time training to quit just because it was getting tough, so I slowed my pace way down for a few miles and trudged on. When I hit the mile 24 marker, I realized that if I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself and actually put some effort into it, I could still get a PR out of the deal. My legs were pretty well shot by that point, especially my quads from the downhill, but I was able to pick up the pace enough to finish fairly strong and beat my previous best time by 48 seconds. One of the only consolations at that point was that I wasn't the only one suffering. There were a lot of marathoners that were reduced to walking or just barely jogging at that point and once I picked up my pace I started passing a lot of people, which earned me a few handshakes after I finished. My final time was 3:18:05, good for 61st out of 686 overall and 18th out of 52 in my age group.

Boston is still over 7 minutes away for me. The BQ monkey won round one, but I'll come back ready for more. I've got a couple of schemes in mind for how to vanquish the demons, but I'm not quite ready to share those just yet.... (the suspense is just too much, isn't it??).