Friday, January 22, 2010

Let's get analytical!

Last Sunday I ran the Cascade 1/2 Marathon. My goal was 1:35. My outcome was 1:36:49. I know it's only 1:49 slow but I was pretty confident I should be able to pull off a 7:15 pace. Instead I was only able to run a 7:22 pace. It's taken me a bit of time to over analyze my race because of course I am going to over analyze it. No doubt I have been pondering why I missed. I don't have a ton of experience chasing marathon PR's. I have run a bunch of them (32) but most of them have been simply to run. I think I have chased PR's in about 8 of them. I have followed a strict training plan for 1. I should re-phrase that. I have always had a plan but only one other time have I had expert help. The rest were Rooster Plans! Last Sunday was a mixed bag. There was some good news and some bad news.

Starting with the bad news. Last year at about this exact same time I ran the Vancouver Lake 1/2 at a 7:16 pace. At that time I was training for the Muir Beach 50K. At that time I was building my speed and mileage. Since Muir Beach is held in March I wasn't booking a lot of miles in January but was doing a fair amount of quality workouts. I was rested for Vancouver. I was looking to establish a VDOT for the upcoming training so I went into Vancouver with fresh legs. I am in better shape right now or at least I feel like I am. I wasn't well rested for Sunday's run but I wasn't beat up either. I was ready and anxious to give it a good test. The weather was absolutely perfect for the Cascade 1/2 marathon. Only a bit of rain fell, it was warm and I was wearing shorts and tank for most of the race. Of course mile 1 was fast at 6:52 pace. I throttled it back a bit and found my pace for mile 2. I felt like I stayed there but mile 3 was 7:2???. Wondering if the mile markers were a bit off I felt no stress and forged on. The next mile was another 7:2???. Okay, I need to move it! Uh, guess not. My legs simply wouldn't spin any faster. I looked at my heart rate and see 168. That's way to low. I should be near threshold at 174 or at least knocking on the door at 172. I tried to pump my arms. Again, 7:20. At the turn around I tried to push harder. Wasn't happening. The legs were simply only going to spin fast enough to get me near 7:20. I did have a 7:13 but I think the wind worked in my favor because for the life of me I wasn't going to go faster.

There is good news! I think I could have run many more miles at that pace. After finishing we did a cool down run for about 4 miles. While running the race I was in full control, not overly taxed but the wheels were just not there. How many more miles could I have run at that pace? I don't know but would say at least 8-10.

Why did I miss my mark? After much thought and looking at training diaries I think I might have an answer. However smart I think I am I will qualify this by saying I have no idea if I am right. Here it goes. Since I train using the Daniel's method there are some key workouts. I have talked about them on this blog at nauseum! The M-Pace workout, the T-Pace workout and track workout are key elements. I have been doing them all. My lack of long true T-Pace work might be playing a roll. This method of training makes adjustments to the pace of a "Long Continuous T-Pace" run. When you do T-Pace workouts where you run continuously for more than 30 minutes Daniel's will adjust the pace. Since I am running so many long M-Pace workouts it made no sense to do long T-Pace workouts too. Why? Because my T-Pace would be adjusted and be very close to my M-Pace. Instead I have been doing my T-Pace efforts in the form of "Cruise Intervals" keeping my tempo work at true T-Pace (7:10). The intervals have been 10-15 minutes each and the total time of the T-Pace effort portion 40-60 minutes. Obviously I have trained my body to hold M-Pace for a long duration. My M-Pace is 7:32. On both workouts I have been hitting better numbers but not good enough to move them up a notch. The ultimate goal for race day is to have both workouts play a roll in hitting the PR. I should be able to run faster than 7:32 but not 7:10. I should be able to hit somewhere in the middle. Well, that's exactly what I did! However, I don't know if I will be able to hold a 7:25 pace for the full 26.2.

I am sure most of you have left the room by now. This is way over the top when it comes to numbers but it's important to what I am trying to do right now. What I have learned is I might have benefited from doing some longer Continuous T-Pace efforts. I might have gotten more spin out of my legs by pushing that limit. Swapping a week here and there may have been a good idea. Last year leading up to Vancouver I wasn't doing M-Pace workouts of 12-16 miles at a pop so I had some gruelling long T-Pace sessions. My T-Pace was adjusted down based on the length of session but it was still a bit faster than my M-Pace. I have not done any of that. The real question for the marathon is it a benefit to have more long M-Pace work and less T-Pace. Will I be able to dump lactic acid out my body super efficiently and just race in the strong controlled fashion I did last Sunday? I've got myself so curious now.
I only have one more big workout. Sunday is a 22-24 mile run with 16 at M-Pace. After that's it taper time. I won't have be curious for to much longer!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's Ultra Season!

Ahhh the refreshing sight of seeing my name on a list. Could it really be this simple. Uhh, yes! When even local 50K's are closing in less than a day it becomes even more special to have the opportunity. At least that's how I see it. Bill signed me up for Chuckanut 50K while I was out on the trail dreaming about it, worried, and hopeful it would all work out. It did and I am excited. With Surf City just 3 weeks away I have some good training in my legs to start the ultra season.

Scott challenged me to raise my VDOT numbers one more to 48. That's 3 moves upward since mid October. In the Daniel's world that's a fairly aggressive upswing. Since I generally top out at 49 I am curious if I can push it to 50 by peak training for my first 100M of the year (Bighorn). This weekend Sarah, Cheri and I are running Cascade 1/2 Marathon. I am hoping for a 7:15 pace on this course. The weather looks good, rain and 50 degrees. Not the usual 25-30 degrees. I am nervous! I can't even believe I am admitting it but it's true. A measly 1/2 marathon is keeping me up at night (not really..I sleep like the dead). I have to attribute the nerves to self inflicted expectations. It doesn't help the Sean says he expects a PR and Micheal throws out paces I have never run but I am thankful for the vote of confidence. I can guarantee I won't leave anything on the road and I won't have anything left in my legs when I am done. However Scott did suggest, in his very nice way, that I leave it all on the course then run an extra 4-5 miles to make it a long run. Yeah, spoken like a true ultra runner. I figure the best shot I have of doing that additional 4-5 miles is to finish, not stop and turn right around and go back out. That's my plan!

This weeks track workout was 6X1000's. On paper that seems like a no brainer but after the 30 minute warm up and almost 4 miles at a 6:32 pace I felt it. It didn't help that my legs were still recovering from the killer leg workout which included 48 100 pound squats. These weren't the sissy, barely bend your leg kind either. These were close foot, deep and torturous ones. I would never do this without prodding but I handled it. It took me 3 days before I could sit down without an upper body workout but the strength in my legs is growing like crazy. I have been making a strong effort to change my leg strength and it's paying off. I am excited to see how those spring hill repeats go. I have put on some good muscle in the last 3 months. That's exciting and will pay dividends but I need to be sure and balance my weight for running. Seems like there is fine line for me. If I don't keep my weight around 110 no matter what it is, fat or muscle I get slower. Slower is not something I can afford no matter how much muscle I like to see. Ultra running tends to chew up a lot of my muscle so this year I am trying to up the anti in that department. The idea is to gain as much strength as I can before I start those crazy back to back long days and the miles and time on my body take it's toll. Don't be scared if you see me on the trail and I look like a line backer! Just know this is part of my master plan. :)

On the muscle/nutrition side of things. A few of us have been adding BCAA's to our recovery drinks. I have not only been drinking them post hard runs but post weight sessions as well. I am a critic when it comes to the magic bullet's advertised. I seem to always be skeptical of stuff like that. I can honestly say they have been amazing in aiding in my recovery. There is no doubt about it. As someone who is hyper analytical and sensitive to how I feel during training I know they are helping my muscles recovery and rebound. I am using a product called Chain'd Out. I like to way it mixes with water and it tastes great. Seems like there is a lot of good information coming out about BCAA's for athletes and expecially endurance athletes.

One more week of training for Surf City and it's off to sunny California in search of a PR. I am hoping to break 3:25 and closer to the 3:20 area. I should be able to do that.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


"Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes" a saying said often by my good friend Micheal. Simple but so true. 2010 is already here. Another decade for the history books and I swear it was the year 2000 and I wondered what happened to the 90's. Of course saying goodbye to 09 and ringing in the new year begs the question, "What's your new years resolution". It must be in vogue to say, "I don't make New Years Resolutions", as if they were a thing of the past. I wondered this year what mine would be. I love changes. I truly embrace challenges both good and bad with an eagerness to see or feel a different way. It makes me feel alive and moving. I can't be stagnant for long. However skilled I am in taking on new or ridding myself of the old and unwanted it certainly isn't easy. Some changes are big and some are small but no matter the size the true gift in the end is to see real change. I think in order to make any you need to be honest with yourself, honest with your support group and honest with how much your willing to put into it. If you have family or a life no matter what kind of change you want to make it most certainly will impact others. All the habits, the words, gestures and our feelings we have regarding the topic has to change in order for real concrete newness to take hold. To pretend we are an island free to make and do new things or change old bad habits on our own is and mistake. That kind of thinking will surely leave us back to the same old same old. All the people we effect have an impact on our ability to make changes. For example, if we want to stop eating sugar we need to change lots of things. We can't expect the people in our lives to just give up sugar because we don't buy it anymore. We shouldn't expect to silently torture ourselves and not ask for help in resisting. Being honest with ourselves is key to making changes. Asking ourselves, "is this really a change I want to make or does it just seem like a good idea"? A great idea is nothing without concrete action. New Years Resolutions might be a thing of the past but it is a good time to reflect on your life, surroundings and ponder what real change takes. ACTION! NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES!
On the running front. I just ended another 4 week cycle and Christmas Camp. I am running strong and feeling really good about the marathon. I have had two break out runs. First a 25 miler which was 9 miles of aggressive warm up then 15 miles at M-Pace (7:40). We did this on the 26th right after some really poor fueling and not much sleep. It was hard but I had complete control to hold the pace despite how crappy I felt. The second was today's Yasso workout. I decided to do 3:20 and came in mostly at 3:16. Again I felt in complete control of the pace and walked away feeling good and no where near thrashed. My recovery has been awesome. The amount of speed work I am doing is more than I have ever attempted. I need to put my best foot forward when it comes to turnover so I am not holding back. The best part of this training has been the sharing it with the girls. The Tuesday workouts are long and hard nearing the 16-18 mile mark and it makes all the difference knowing others will be out there.

Happy New Year everyone! Christmas Campers Rock!