Monday, June 23, 2008
This past week went pretty well, considering it was only my second week of running after Deadwood-Mickelson. I put in some decent miles, albeit at a relatively slow pace:
Sunday - 5.2 miles recovery
Monday - 12 miles easy. I decided to explore some new territory on this run, so took off on the highway heading west out of town for the first time ever and then looped back to the north to a more familiar road. The loop wasn't as long as I anticipated, so I had to run an out and back section on the familiar road to get the miles in, but it turned out to be a great run overall.
Tuesday - 6 miles recovery with 8x30 second strides. Didn't get off to a good start as I slept through my watch alarm and woke up about 45 minutes later than planned. I was supposed to get 8 miles in, but only had time for 6 before I had to get ready for work. Damn work, getting in the way of my running again.
Wednesday - 10 miles easy. The goal was to run down the highway south of town and then find a gravel road that heads east over Redwater Ridge and comes back down on another gravel road that I've run a million times before and would take me back into town from a different direction. Well, finding that magical route over the ridge proved harder than it seemed like it should have been and by the time I located a road that looked like it might go where I wanted it too, I had already put in enough miles and gone up enough hills that I didn't feel like exploring anymore, so I just headed back to town and ended up with an out and back run.
Thursday - 8.2 miles easy. For the life of me, I can't remember where I ran or why I ran there and MotionBased.com (where I store my Garmin data) isn't working right now.
Friday - 16.1 long. Did my long run a day early because my wife was planning on running hers on Saturday and I had the day off anyhow. I headed out early to avoid the heat and ran one great big loop. I did finally find a route over Redwater Ridge (as described in a previous post) although I approached it from the opposite side this time. I ended up spending more time than I would like running along a 4-lane highway, but I didn't have much choice by that time (I was NOT about to turn around and run back over the ridge after scaling it the first time).
Saturday - 8.35 easy. I headed out after my wife got back from her long run, which wasn't until 11:30 or so, so it was pretty damn hot outside by then. Ran down some more country roads that I've never been on before.
Total - 66.1 miles
I move into Phase II of my Daniels plan this week, which means that I'll start adding some speedwork in. Looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time...
Saturday, June 21, 2008
My total elevation gain for the entire run was 1400 feet. That massive spike in the middle would be my ascent up Redwater Ridge to Hat Ranch and then back down to Highway 85. It sucked, but the view from the top made it worthwhile. Having said that, though, I probably won't be running that road again real soon. There's too much other unexplored territory for me to discover.
Monday, June 16, 2008
We ran the race backwards from last year, so that big decline in the second mile this year was a big incline in the third mile last year, which probably helped a little. Really, it didn't matter though because after the first mile I was shot. I knew it was going to be a rough day when I hit that big decline and did not get any faster at all. Going back uphill in the final mile was rough too. The cross country punk actually had to stop and puke at the top of the last hill, but still beat me by exactly 3 minutes. I cruised in in 26:52, exactly 1 minute faster than I ran it last year (not sure if I'm that much faster or if it's because of the backwards course). An indicator of how spent my legs were is my average pace, which was 6:52. That was also my average pace for my half marathon PR last summer. Logic would say that a 4 mile pace should be significantly faster than a half marathon pace, but that wasn't happenin on Saturday. In any case, I did win my age group (which isn't saying much) and got a pretty cool water bottle for that.
Next up is the only other race held annually in Belle Fourche, the Roundup 10K on July 4th. This is a bigger race (about 70 runners last year) on another tough loop course around town. Hopefully by then, I'll actually be able to run at something akin to 10K pace. The best part about this race is that it literally starts right outside my front door, so I can basically just wake up, throw on some running clothes, stumble over to the park with my $10 (yes, just 10 bucks) and start running. Oh, and the last two years Rupert of "Survivor" fame has been there. Don't ask why, cuz I don't know, but that's about as big a celebrity as we get around these parts.
Friday, June 13, 2008
So, here's how it's going to work out (notice the use of will rather than should): I started a 15-week training plan this week, immediately after DMTM, which will incorporate Missoula as a training run and end with a BQ attempt at the Roughrider Marathon in Bismarck, ND on Sept. 20th. I'm shaking things up here; I've used Pfitz plans for every marathon I've run except my first. They've worked well, but I was ready for a change of pace (no pun intended), so I bought Jack Daniels' book and have been poring over that for the last few days. First off, anything with the name "Jack Daniels" on it has gotta be good. Second, I like how Daniels incorporates more tempo and marathon pace workouts into his plans. So, I pieced together a 15 week plan that will give me a couple of weeks of easy running after DMTM and then launch into a fairly high mileage (max 90 miles/week) plan for Roughrider. It's exciting and scary all at once....some of Daniels' workouts don't exactly look like fun, but what doesn't kill ya only make ya stronger, right? ....right???
Now, some of you are wondering how in the name of all that is holy I managed to decide upon a marathon in Bismarck, North Dakota, as my goal race. Good question. Here's my logic: the downhill course at Ft. Collins didn't help me as much as I thought/hoped it would....in fact it took a pretty good toll. To date, my strongest overall race, although it's no longer my fastest one, was the Fargo Marathon, which is a pancake flat course at lower elevation. I considered three races that were within driving distance for a fall BQ attempt: Denver, Montana, and Roughrider. I've heard Denver is developing into a good event with a fairly fast rolling course, but it's also at relatively high elevation. I ran Montana two years ago and it could also be a fast course, but includes quite a bit of downhill in one fairly short stretch, which totally bit me in the ass and led to me crashing and burning back in 2006. I didn't know a lot about Roughrider, other than it was flat because, well, it's in North Dakota.....flat is what they do best up there. I read the reviews on Marathon Guide and everyone was raving about the thing. For a race that typically draws around 100 full marathoners, it sure did seem popular. Also, Roughrider is at lower elevation; about 1600 feet compared to the 3100 I train at. An added bonus is that I've got an old firefighting buddy who lives in Bismarck and who I haven't seen in a long, long time and another friend I used to work with in North Dakota who I'm trying to convince to run the half in Bismarck. A 3:10 at Bismarck would likely put me in the top ten overall, which would be cool. And, they give cash awards to the top 3 in each AG, so I'd have a significant chance of coming home with $30, $20, or $10....enough to buy, like, 2 gallons of gas and maybe a soda; not a lot, but better than a kick in the junk. Plus, the name "Roughrider" just sounds cool. I made hotel reservations yesterday, which is generally my way of telling myself that I've actually made a decision. Bismarck, here I come!
Monday, June 9, 2008
DMTM is really a “trail” marathon in name only. Indeed, all but about a mile of the race is held on the Mickelson Trail, which is a rails to trails project covering about 110 miles of the Black Hills from Edgemont in the south to Deadwood in the north. But, this isn’t your grandfather’s single-track, rock and stump laden trail that goes uphill in both directions. It’s basically a well-maintained crushed gravel bike path with no grade greater than 4% (and the average grade on the course is much less, I’m sure) thanks to railroad restrictions at the time the original tracks were laid. The grades are also long; once you start going either up or down, you generally go that direction for awhile. Check out the elevation profile:
DMTM isn’t what you would consider a fast course (okay, maybe you would, but I don’t). Although the grades are gentle, there are still about 12 miles of virtually non-stop uphill to contend with in the first half followed by a virtually non-stop gentle downhill for the entire second half. In any case, I didn’t have any grand plans for a PR or BQ at the race anyhow. After a failed BQ attempt at Colorado and in preparation for a hopefully decent (i.e., 3:20ish) effort at Missoula, I was just running DMTM as a long, fully supported training run on my way, eventually, to another BQ shot somewhere this fall. Looking at the past results, it appeared that a 3:30 would put me in contention for an AG award (something I’ve never won in a marathon….I have finished 4th in my AG four times). However, this year the cards would probably be stacked against me thanks to DMTM being the official USATF Trail Marathon Championship for 2008. In other words, I knew there were going to be more fast runners than usual this year (I think last year’s winner won by like 20 minutes and was the only one to go sub-3; probably not the case this year). And, a lot of these fast runners would probably end up in my new AG (I turned 30 on May 23rd). So, with no BQ or PR to chase and an AG award unlikely, what the heck should I shoot for here? Well, a couple of months before the race, I found out that Runango regular OreSka (Juan) would be running the race too and was planning on running around 3:30 pace. Juan and I met at mile 15 of Missoula last July and proceeded to crash and burn together over the last 8 miles. I was looking forward to running with him again, although hopefully with better results (no cramping for me and no dry heaving with the finish line in sight for Juan). For some reason, right around 3:30 has proven to be a popular finishing time for me (out of eight total marathons, I’ve got a 3:28, a 3:29, a 3:30, and a 3:32 to my credit). So, 3:30 it was.
Training-wise, I basically took Pfitz’s 10 weeks between marathons plan and did some tweaking based on how I felt and my plan to run both DMTM and Missoula. There were actually only 5 weeks between Colorado and DMTM, but in the spirit of using it as a training run, I based my schedule off of the 11 weeks I had available between Colorado and Missoula and wedged DMTM in as a long run with a mini-taper before and a mini-recovery period after. I also decided to shake things up a little and try a couple of new things. First, I finally bought a Garmin Forerunner 305 and used the heart rate monitor function to base my workout paces off of a target heart rate rather than a target speed. Second, I decided to experiment with the carb deplete/load strategy that several other forumites have implemented (and that I witnessed at work first hand when shellaran ran a 43 minute PR and BQ at Colorado). I went with 4 days deplete (<30g of carbs/day) followed by 3 days of load (as many grams of carbs as I could comfortably consume). Those 4 days weren’t pure hell, but they weren’t great either. I guess I never realized just how many foods have carbs in them and how many carbs are in foods. Basically, if you don’t mind a diet of meat, cheese and eggs, then carb depletion is great. If, on the other hand, you live off of bread, cereal, peanut butter, pasta, oatmeal and pancakes, like I typically do, then it sucks. I had a low grade headache for the first two days of deplete and felt pretty deprived of energy the whole 4 days, but I did lose a whopping 9 pounds in those 4 days. I also felt kind of crappy the first day that I started loading and actually had to cut my 6 mile run short (at 5 miles) that afternoon because I was feeling woozy and light-headed. But, I felt normal again by race day and my last couple of pre-race runs went well.
One thing that has been shamefully lacking during my running career is my involvement in volunteering for races. Okay, so I’ve never volunteered to help out at a race. My excuse is that I just can’t resist actually running in the race, especially considering that there are so few of them around here. Well, this time I had the opportunity to do both and happily agreed to work at packet pick-up on Friday afternoon and evening. I hoped the running gods would smile on me sometime in the future for doing my good deed. It was a good experience and I got to meet a fair number of the people I would be running with on Sunday. I also got to say hi to Juan briefly when he arrived to pick up his packet.
This would prove to be an action-packed weekend. On Saturday, it was back to Deadwood for the kids’ 1K, which my 4 year old son was running. The kids ran an out and back on the Mickelson Trail in town. I have discovered that my son is a natural-born fartlek runner. At one point I was cruising along with him, just barely running myself and suddenly he went flying past me, forcing me to actually run to keep up (whoa there, Turbo, I’ve got a marathon to run tomorrow!). Then he’d slow down for awhile and repeat the whole process again. He did well and it warmed my heart when, with about 20 yards to go, an older girl started to catch up to him, he looked over his shoulder at her and then laid down the finishing kick to beat her across the line. After the 1K, we met up with Juan, who had managed to get lost in Deadwood, and forced him into our car (he resisted my assurances that I didn’t mind giving him a ride back to Deadwood afterwards, but as soon as my wife told him to get in he obeyed like a man who’s been married for 20+ years) and hauled him off to our place in Belle Fourche for my daughter’s 3rd birthday party/pasta feast. In addition to the obligatory pack of bouncing-off-the-walls, sugar-hyped, screaming kids, we also invited over a few friends who were running the half-marathon and cooked up a selection of pastas and sauces. Dinner was topped off with, of course, a princess castle birthday cake and ice cream. Nothing quite gets you fueled up to run 26.2 miles like a pretty pink princess cake. After the party, it was back to Deadwood to drop Juan off and then back to Belle to get some sleep. Honestly, it didn’t really dawn on me that I was actually running a marathon until approximately 2:00 on Sunday morning when I got up to go to the bathroom and realized that I would have to run 26.2 miles in a mere 6 hours.
DMTM is a point-to-point marathon, which means my wife (who was running the half) and I had to be up extra early to first make the 30 mile drive to Deadwood and then catch the bus from there to the start line in Rochford (population 5, give or take 5). I looked for Juan at the bus loading area not realizing that he had gotten there ahead of me and then decided I’d better just jump on a bus when I saw them beginning to roll out. I quickly found Juan once I reached Rochford and we casually chatted about our race strategy. Juan was totally unsure of how this race would go. He would be trying out some new-fangled taper technique that involves riding 3600 miles on a motorcycle all over the western US for three weeks and running approximately 3 days/week. He figured to finish somewhere between 3:30 and 5:00. I knew that my legs felt alright after running Colorado a month before but that I still didn’t have my speed back. I figured somewhere in the 3:30 range was realistic. So, we decided to start out together and see how things shook out. I had one other dumb goal for the race: not to finish behind to the only other full marathoner from Belle Fourche, a 13 year old kid who had taken 6th at the state high school cross country meet as an 8th grader last fall.
After an hour of waiting around in the cold (it was probably upper 30s in Rochford since the sun hadn’t cleared the mountains yet), we were finally lined up and off at 8:00.
Like I said, this was my first marathon running with my Garmin. I decided to mark the miles manually at each mile marker, rather than let the Garmin do it at every recorded mile. Consequently, most of the splits are a little over or a little under 1 mile exactly. Most of the time, I could contribute this to satellite accuracy, but mile marker 2 was definitely off, as my Garmin read only 1.88 miles when we hit it. Also, I forgot to turn the Auto Pause feature off, so on the two occasions that I stopped at the porta potties (more on that later), the Garmin paused so my final time on there, and my mile splits, don’t reflect that time lost in the blue room. In any case, here’s how it went down:
We started in Rochford and went downhill on the highway for awhile and then did a short out and back which took us back to the Mickelson trail, which we would stay on for the rest of the race. The first mile was too fast, and both me and Juan said “oops” when we saw the split. The second mile split was also too fast, but like I said, the marker had to be short. This was confirmed when the fourth mile split was way too slow. Somewhere around 3 miles we got passed by the aforementioned 8th grader who I didn’t want to lose to. Dammit! But, I figured I might reel him in later on. Around mile 4, Juan told me to go on if I wanted and it was becoming obvious that we would be running different paces. So, off I went. I was trying to be conservative, not wanting to run the 12 mile uphill too hard and then have nothing left for the 13 mile downhill to follow.
1 – 7:44
2 – 7:23 (marker too short)
3 – 8:21
4 – 8:59 (marker too long)
5 – 8:10
By now we were well into the long uphill grind. The thing about this uphill, which both Juan and I had commented on earlier, was that it’s so gradual that it’s easy to see why people burn themselves out on it and then suffer in the second half. It’s just enough of a rise to make you work harder, but not so much of a rise that forces you to back off because you know you absolutely have to. It would be very easy to just plow ahead and ruin your race in the first half (as many did).
6 – 9:27 (Garmin marked that mile as 1.11 miles)
7 – 8:31
8 – 8:39
9 – 8:25
10 – 8:30
By mile 10, it was becoming clear that my recurring digestive problems were going to strike again. Out of a total of nine marathons (including DMTM), I have avoided porta potty stops in four of them. I have no idea what causes my GI problems, but I would very much like to figure it out, because it’s getting quite annoying (and costing me a lot of time, as you will see). Anyhow, somewhere around mile 11, I caught up to and passed the 8th grader. It was pretty obvious even then that he wouldn’t be passing me again (and he would end up finishing in 4:08). Just before the half-marathon start, I jumped into the blue room for the first of my two stops of the day. Just after the bathroom break, I hit a long straightaway and all I could see ahead was a tunnel of trees with nothing but blue sky over the horizon. I knew that was where the course topped out and that it was virtually all downhill from there. Hallelujah!!
11 – 8:04 (Garmin said 0.93 miles….one negative thing I’ve heard about this race is that the mile markers are off and my Garmin seems to agree with that complaint)
12 – 8:13
13 – 8:32 (this split should be bigger thanks to the porta potty stop)
14 – 8:03 (starting to head downhill)
15 – 7:51
I forgot to take a halfway split, but I remember looking at my total time as I crossed the half start and seeing 1:50:xx, knowing that my actual split was a couple minutes slower thanks to #2.
I went through some rough spells here. I had been looking so forward to reaching the downhill and then after I got there it dawned on me that I still had a long ways to run. Plus, even after the first portajohn stop, my digestive system was not feeling good….I could actually feel/here stuff sloshing around in there. Gross, I know. I stopped again somewhere in the 18th mile and felt marginally better afterwards. The course took another uphill jaunt in miles 19 and 20. I actually spaced out somewhere in there and hit mile 20 thinking it was only mile 19. Bonus!
16 – 7:51
17 – 7:51
18 – 7:54 (second visit to the blue room, again; split should be bigger)
19 – 8:00
20 – 8:24
Right after the mile 20 marker the course went down a sharp decline….so sharp to be unhelpful at this point in the race. After that the course leveled out a little, but was still downhill. Somewhere around mile 21, the sun suddenly blinked out and I looked up to see some rather ominous looking grey clouds. Just as I thought “we might get rained on”, the rain started. Over the next couple of miles, it rained pretty good and we got some sleet thrown in briefly for good measure. I commented to one guy I passed that if you didn’t like the weather in South Dakota, just wait around 15 minutes and it’ll change. Sure enough, the sun was back out within a couple of miles. Somewhere around mile 22, I suddenly realized that I felt pretty damn good and was having some fun. I could see a girl in a pink tank top up ahead who I had been following for several miles and made it my mission to catch her by the finish. I kept plugging away and passed several other marathoners and a bunch of half marathon walkers in the next couple of miles, but pink shirt girl wasn’t getting much closer. Finally, during mile 24 she slowed at the aid station to get a drink and I picked up the pace. I passed her just before the mile 25 marker and was cruising pretty good by that point. We were also back in Deadwood by then, running on the same stretch of trail that the kids 1K had been run on the day before. I decided I was going to finish this thing strong and, honestly, I was feeling great at this point. As I came down the final stretch I caught a glimpse of the finish line clock and saw 3:36:43. I turned on the finishing kick at that point to get in under 3:37 and surged across the line at 3:36:55.
21 – 8:32 (steep downhill, plus Garmin said 1.07 miles)
22 – 7:20
23 – 8:24 (another 1.07 miles)
24 – 7:53
25 – 7:58
26 – 7:14
26.2 – 0:23 (you think that’s off?? Garmin said 0.06 miles)
Garmin “moving” time: 3:33:04
Chip time: 3:36:55
Time lost in the blue room: 3:54
Approximate Negative Split: 7:00
Overall Place: 43/294
AG Place: 12/19 (if I hadn’t turned 30 a few weeks ago, I would have gotten 2nd in the 25-29 AG! It appears that nearly all of the USATF Championship runners were in their early 30s.)
Average Heart Rate: 153
Max Heart Rate: 167
Start Elevation: 5411
Finish Elevation: 4602
Max Elevation: 6307
Total Elevation Gain: 4259
Total Elevation Loss: 5068
I immediately located my wife, kids, and sister in law afterwards and learned that my wife had run a 2:16:21 in the half marathon, a whopping 13 minute PR! After some pictures, I went over to the finish line to look for Juan. I didn’t have to wait long, as he came cruising in with a 3:46. He commented afterwards that it was one of the toughest races he’s run in awhile. For myself, it’s actually the third slowest time I’ve posted out of nine marathons, but given that it was supposed to be a fun training run, I’ll take that. The plus side of running a relatively slow marathon on a nice, soft dirt trail is that a day later my legs feel great; I honestly don’t feel like I ran a marathon yesterday. I did have one uncomfortable stretch yesterday afternoon as I was laying in the recliner sleeping through the Prefontaine Classic and my calves were twitching like crazy and cramping up every once in awhile, but as soon as I got off my butt and walked around a little, all of the discomfort went away.
I’m actually pretty encouraged by how well the second half of this race went. I purposefully held back in the first half and it paid off. I ended up feeling great in the second half and for only the second time ever (Fargo last year being the first), I got faster after mile 20, didn’t feel totally destroyed the final 10K, and posted a big negative split. I don’t know if it was the downhill second half, the conservative first half, the carb deplete/load, or a combination of all of those, but I hope I can capture that feeling again the next time I go for a BQ. If not for my GI issues, I could have run this thing significantly faster. Another encouraging thing was that I don’t remember getting passed by anyone for the last, oh, 15 miles or so (except when I was in the portajohn). I did pass a lot of marathoners (and a ton of half marathon walkers) in the last 10K, which is always fun.
So, where from here? Well, I desperately need to figure out what in the heck is causing my GI distress during marathons. I very, very rarely experience GI distress during training runs, so I have no idea why it suddenly strikes me during marathons. I’ve tried different gels, sport beans, different pre-race meals, everything I can think of and I can’t for the life of me pinpoint any one factor. Next up for me marathon-wise is Missoula on July 13. Given that I feel pretty good right now, I’m hoping to jump right back into training and give it a strong effort there. Hopefully, Mother Nature cooperates with those plans…
Well, I think I’ve rambled on for long enough. I know there are some things I meant yo say that I left out (believe it or not), but I’ll have to call it good for now. Thanks for reading!!
Monday, June 2, 2008
Anyhow, my second to last week before DMTM went pretty well:
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 8 miles with 5x800m intervals. Each of these intervals was about 10 seconds slower than the same workout before Colorado, so obviously my legs still aren't fully recovered. But, the workout, overall, went pretty well.
Wednesday - 5.55 miles recovery.
Thursday - 12.12 miles easy. My schedule said I was supposed to run 15, which I set out to do but realized early on that given how my body felt and how little time I had to get the run done and get to work, that 12 would be more feasible. Then, at about mile 8 or 9, I started to feel like crap. My right hip felt weird and I just felt like I was trying way too hard to run a relatively slow pace. At 9.5 miles, I stopped by the house to take care of some impending business in the bathroom and forced myself back out the door to try and pick up the final 1.5 miles. Amazingly, I felt pretty good once I started running again; the hip soreness was magically gone and the pace came much easier. I ended up finishing the run fairly strong. If not for the ticking clock, I would have gone the whole 15.
Friday - 5 miles recovery and the Pack Test. For those not in the know, the Pack Test is a physical fitness test that every wildland firefighter must pass each year before they can receive a red card, which is like your drivers license for fighting fire. My primary job duty doesn't involved fighting fire, but any employee of the Forest Service is encouraged to maintain their fire qualifications and help out if the need arises (and the way it's been raining here, the need won't be arising for awhile). The test consists of walking 3 miles while carrying a 45 lb. pack in under 45 minutes. Really, if you are in any kind of shape, it's not that hard. It's actually made harder by the fact that you must walk; you are absolutely, positively not allowed to jog. This forces me to do this weird power walk thing that I would never normally do, especially not on a fire, and I usually end up sore in places that I'm normally not. Also, taking the Pack Test less than 10 days before a marathon isn't ideal, but my only other choice was to take it a week before Colorado, which certainly wasn't going to happen. Anyhow, I took it very easy during the test and still managed to pass with almost three minutes to spare, in 42:17.
Saturday - 5 miles recovery. Amazingly, I'm hardly sore at all from the Pack Test.
Sunday - 12 miles with the last 6 at DMTM marathon pace or faster. I'm planning on running around a 3:30 at DMTM, which is 8 minute per mile pace. Ended up running those last six in the 7:45-7:55 range.
Total - 47.7 miles
So, six days to go and I'm ready to roll (and really craving a bagel).
I've also got to mention that today, June 2, is my daughter Chloe's third birthday! Hard to believe three years have gone by already. A lot has changed since the day she was born. We bought our first house, got our dog Vedder, got our cat Spooky, sold our house, moved to South Dakota and bought a new one, and got another dog named Molly. Oh, and I started running marathons....DMTM will be number 9, all of them coming since Chloe joined our family. Happy Birthday, Coco Bean!!