Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blizzards and the Golden Ticket

Ah, the wonders of spring in South Dakota. Last week, I wrote about how I slogged through some "heat" during the second half of my 20 miler. It got up to 77 degrees that day. The next two days we were snowed in by a spring blizzard. So, you would think we'd be done with the winter weather after that, right? Wrong. Yesterday we got a repeat performance as yet another spring blizzard struck, exactly one week after the first. This one wasn't as bad as the first, but it still shut everything down for a day. So, are we done yet? I hate to even speculate. Here's how last week went:

Monday - 6 in the morning before the first blizzard hit, 4 at the indoor track later that morning just as the storm was starting and before everything shut down (the gym closed 10 minutes after I left).

Tuesday - 0. Nada. Zip. Zilch. My 85 day running streak came to a screeching halt thanks to the blizzard. The road crews gave up on plowing sometime on Monday evening, so the roads were covered with 3+ foot drifts. Consequently, literally the entire town was shut down because nobody could drive anywhere.

Wednesday - 8 miles with 8 strides. I managed to dig my truck out and make it to work for the first time in the week. The roads had been plowed, but weren't really runnable thanks to the huge mounds of snow in the middle and on each shoulder. Also, the gym in Belle was still closed and the indoor track at Black Hills St. was being used by the high school and college track teams, so I ended up having to pay $4 to use the indoor track at the Spearfish Rec Center.

Thursday - 15 miles total including 40 minutes easy, 15 minutes tempo, 35 minutes easy 15 minutes tempo and 1.5 miles cooldown. I had to do this one on the indoor track again (the Belle gym was open again) because the roads still were too treacherous to run on. Running tempo pace on a tiny track sucks bad, especially when everyone and their dog, including the Belle Fourche High track team, is on the track too.

Friday - 8 miles in the morning, another 5 in the afternoon. Back outside for both runs.

Saturday - 6 miles. We also had my son Caiden's 5th birthday party in the afternoon. His actual birthday is April 1st, but we wanted to have his party on the weekend. Let me tell ya, having 20 or so screaming kids running around the house is much more tiring than any run.

Sunday - 20 miles. It was cold and windy and another blizzard was bearing down on us, but I got the run done before the weather totally went to hell. Last 20 miler before Boston.

Total - 72 miles

The most exciting thing that happened this week was on Saturday. I grabbed the mail out of our box and there was a fat little envelope from the Boston Athletic Association in there. Inside was my welcome packet and confirmation card. This is the running equivalent of Willy Wonka's golden ticket. They're actually going to let me run this damn thing!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The coming (and going) of spring

Last week was the first week of really solid good spring weather this year. Unfortunately, it has become painfully obvious that spring is not here to stay....as I type this I'm sitting at home on a Monday morning because everything has been shut down by a spring blizzard. It was 77 degrees yesterday. Today, we're suppoed to get 2-3 feet of snow, 50-60 mph winds and it's supposed to last until tomorrow night. This is what passes for spring in South Dakota. Anyhoo, while it was nice last week I got in a decent week of running:

Monday - 6 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon. Nice, easy recovery double.

Tuesday - 6 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon. Ditto.

Wednesday - 10 with 8 strides.

Thursday - 14.7 total including 7 miles easy, 6x6 minutes tempo, and 1 mile cooldown.

Friday - 6 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon. I could really get used to the "low" mileage stuff.

Saturday - 8. Ran it on the Rapid City bike path because we spent the night in Rapid after watching the Rush hockey game (they won 6-4) on Friday night. My wife ran the Dublin Dash 5K on Sat. morning, so we just spent the night instead of driving back and forth.

Sunday - 20. This run was supposed to include two sets of 4x5 min. tempo intervals. After 2 miles of warmup, I started into the first set. I was running straight into a headwind and the first interval went okay. But, a couple of minutes into the second interval I realized I was going slower than marathon pace and the headwind was only getting worse, so I bagged it. I had hoped that once I turned around and put the wind at my back I'd be able to finish the second set, but by the time I had run 10 miles into that headwind, I just couldn't convince my legs that running tempo pace would be a good idea. So, it just turned into a regular old 20 miler.

Total - 83.7 miles

Like I mentioned, the weather this week is off to craptacular start. It's not supposed to improve all that much all week, so looks like my indoor track running isn't over quite yet (provided of course that the gym isn't closed because of the blizzard). I'm just hoping that this is truly our last blizzard of the spring...if this happens again on April 17th (the day I fly to Boston), there will be hell to pay. I'm not sure who's gonna pay, but someone (I'm looking at you Mother Nature).

Oh yeah, I almost forgot the big news of the week. The Boston bib numbers were posted and I'm going to be wearing 5189, which means that I start in corral 5 of wave 1. It also means I was fairly close to being in corral 4...if only I'd finished about a minute faster at Missoula. For those not in the know, they herd the runners at Boston into 26 different corrals split amongst two different waves to avoid total mass chaos at the start. You get seeded based on your qualifying time. Wave one starts first and each corral starts about 1 minute apart from one another to attempt to space the runners out at the start a little bit. So, I'll at least have the majority of the runners behind me when I start. Hopefully, that will also be the case when I finish. And, hopefully I'll finish 5,188th or better so I can achieve the goal of beating my bib number. The cool thing is that numbers on my bib add up to 23, and my birthday is May 23rd.

Monday, March 16, 2009

One last century

Over the years, I've become used to having one last big mileage week about 3 weeks before my goal marathon. This is my first time ever using a Daniels training plan, and I was surprised when I glanced at my schedule a couple of weeks ago and realized that my last big week was actually 5 weeks out, followed by an extended, slow reduction in mileage before race day (as opposed to the sharper, quicker reduction I'm used to). Honestly, I'm not complaining at this point. The prospect of not having any more 90+ mile weeks between me and Boston is mighty appealing at this point. So, here's how the last big one shook out:

Monday - 10 miles in the morning, another 5 in the afternoon. The weather was just beginning to take a turn for the worse and I snuck both of these runs in outside, although it was cold and snowy, knowing that the weather was only going to get worse over the next couple of days...

Tuesday - 9 miles in the morning, 5 in the afternoon. And worse it got. More snow, more wind, more sub-zero windchills. Both of these runs were on the indoor track. The morning run was actually supposed to be 12 miles, but I just couldn't get myself motivated for that many laps, so I settled for 9.

Wednesday - 10 miles with 8 strides. Indoor track again, but this was actually a really good run. The best I've felt on the indoor track in a long time.

Thursday - 13 miles including 20 min. easy, 20 min. tempo, 20 min. easy, 20 min. tempo and 2 miles easy. Back outside and it was actually decent enough to wear shorts. The workout didn't go too bad overall, although some stomach issues kept it from going as well as it could have.

Friday - 12.2 miles in the morning, 5 in the afternoon. Making up for lost miles on Tuesday. The 12 miler was pretty rough because of the previous day's tempo workout, but I didn't have to work, so at least I got to sleep in before I did it.

Saturday - 9 miles. This one was rough too, much rougher than I expected it to be.

Sunday - 22 miles. Overall, this one went very well. I purposefully ran on a hilly course, part of which was totally new territory for me. I ended up with over 1400 feet of total elevation gain. I had one rough patch with about 4 miles to go where I thought I might puke, but it passed. Interestingly, this run took me 4 seconds longer than a 22 miler I did a few weeks ago, but on a totally different route. If nothing else, I guess I've got my long run pace dialed in.

Total - 100.2 miles

One last century before Boston in the books. Maybe one last century for quite some time. Although it seems counterintuitive, my mileage when I start 50 miler training after Boston will actually be less than my mileage has been for marathon training. I'm looking forward to the "break".

13 weeks down, 5 to go...

Monday, March 9, 2009


After five weeks of 96, 96, 85, 100 and 92 miles, it was time for a cutback. Let me tell ya, it was very refreshing, mostly mentally, to "only" have to run 75 miles. And, the cutback week ended up coming at the perfect time because I ended up having to drive to Rapid City every day for work to attend the most boring training (Contracting Officer's Representative) devised by man. As a bonus, the weather was awesome for most of the week with highs in the 50s or low 60s. I say "most" because of course it's still winter in South Dakota, so Mother Nature had to get at least one pot shot in.

Monday - 6 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon. It almost felt dirty to only run 6 miles in the morning. I usually run 10-12 on a Monday morning. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, it just felt odd. I squeezed the afternoon run in during an hour-long lunch break from the aforementioned training. Sure, I might have stunk a little afterwards with no shower available, but damn it, I needed to get out and do something after sitting through that bore fest.

Tuesday - 10.26

Wednesday - 12 including 2 miles warmup, 4x12 minutes tempo with 2 min. recoveries, and 2 miles cooldown. I bumped this workout up one day again this week because the weather forecast said it might rain on Thursday. I also had to do this in the morning instead of afternoon (which I prefer for speedwork) because of class. My pace was slightly slower than it has been for past tempo workouts, but not horribly so.

Thursday - 7 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon.

Friday - 7 with 8 strides.

Saturday - 6 on black ice. Friday afternoon and through the night we got a mixture of freezing rain and freezing fog, which basically turned the local roads into a skating rink. I spent a majority of the run just trying to stay upright and hoping any passing traffic stayed on the road. I was successful with the traffic part, mostly successful with the upright part....I did fall once, but not too bad.

Sunday - 19 with 15 at marathon pace. Overall, this went much better than the marathon pace run I did a few weeks ago. After two miles of warmup, I started in on the MP miles and was hovering around 7:05 for the first 3 of those. Then, literally out of nowhere, the wind went from pretty much dead calm to blowing like a bastard, straight into my face no less. My pace slowed as I struggled into the wind and before I knew it I was laying down 7:30ish miles that felt much, much harder. Finally, after 4.5 miles of headwind, I turned around and headed back towards home. Consequently, the wind was at my back and my pace immediately returned to the 7:00-7:05 range, where it stayed for the next 7.5 miles. Best of all, that pace actually felt pretty comfortable for most of that 7.5 mile stretch, something that couldn't be said for any mile out of my last MP run.

Total - 75.26 miles

I've got one last big week on tap for this week. Looks like Mother Nature also has another shot of winter on tap, as we're currently getting snow and it's not supposed to stop until sometime tomorrow night, complete with negative windchills. Should make things interesting... In any case, after this week my mileage will begin a gradual descent leading up to April 20th. I won't lie to ya, the allure of running 90-100 mile weeks has worn off a bit. I'm looking forward to getting to Boston already.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Finishing off February

I'm glad to see February come to a close. It's not that it was a bad month running-wise, but once it's behind us, the worst of the winter weather is generally behind us too. My last lap on the indoor track last year was run on Feb. 11th. The most recent run on it this year was Feb. 20th. I'm hoping that the coming of March means that I've run my last indoor run until next December.

This last week went fairly well. I wasn't sure how my legs would respond to a 90+ mile week after last week's 100 miles, but they did well. I tried to help them by splitting up some longer runs into two shorter ones and just focusing on getting rested for my tempo and long runs. It worked out alright, even though I had to deal with some snow and cold toward the end of the week.

Monday - 11 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon

Tuesday - 7 in the morning, 4 in the afteroon.

Wednesday - 11 total, including 2 easy, 4x6 minutest tempo, 4x5 minutes tempo, and 1.5 easy. I moved the workout up one day because of impending snow and cold on Thursday.

Thursday - 6 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon. The predicted snow and cold came, but since it wasn't windy I headed outside for both runs and was actually fairly comfortable despite the single digits.

Friday - 13 miles. Another cold day. 6 degrees when I ran.

Saturday - 9 miles with 8 strides. A little bit warmer, but not much.

Sunday - 22.4 miles including 2 easy, 2x12 minutes tempo, 10 miles easy, 15 minutes tempo, and a little over 3 miles easy. I kind of screwed up on the mileage on this one. I had planned on doing somewhere between 20 and 21, but I played the dangerous game of doing math in my head and adjusting my route in the middle of the run and ended up running too far out with no choice but to run all the way back. This wouldn't have been a big deal if the weather had been as predicted, which was low 40s. When I started the run at 10:00, it was still in the single digits. As I ran to the west, it felt like I had a slight breeze blowing toward me, so I was hoping the run back home would be with the wind at my back. But, when I made the turn I realized that I had been deceived; the wind was blowing from the east and I had a good 10 miles of running straight into a windchill that was pushing negative numbers. Not fun. My clothes literally froze around me. Finally, with a few miles left, the sun burnt through the clouds and it warmed up slightly. Not the funnest long run I've ever experienced, but I guess it was encouraging that it was the weather, and not the distance itself, that made it tough. Oh, the tempo parts were hard too, but I'd take those over the cold weather any day.

Total - 92.4 miles

Next week is a cutback (yay!!). Looking at my schedule, I realized that after next week's cutback, I have one more weak of near triple digit mileage and then it's all under 90 after that. Yikes. I don't know if I should be excited or scared....