Sunday, January 29, 2012

Shopping for some Humble Pie

Lately, everything has just seemed too fast and too easy. I'm reaching new heights in total miles, while running faster and faster, and yet it doesn't seem to be beating me up too much. So after the last two record weeks of 44 and 45 miles, I decided to do 50 this week, and finish it up with a hard 20, just 7 days after my last fast 20.

And just to make things interesting, instead of the magic Kinvaras that I have been wearing for the last two weeks, I would wear my Saucony Rides, now known as those clunky brick shoes. And they have 450 miles on them, so that should take the pep out of my step.

And I would dial up the warmest day of the winter - sunny and temps in the 60's and 70's.

And I would weigh myself down with my water bottle belt.

And I would pick the toughest course around - back up to the hills of Palos Verdes that kicked my butt a few weeks ago on my 18-miler.

So, with all those handicaps, I headed out at 8:30 this morning and told myself to take it easy. None of this sub 8 nonsense. Work on my endurance.

First 3 miles were to the base of the hill. 8:52, 8:28, 8:23. Hmm. A little too fast already
The next three were basically up hill. 9:24, 8:49, 8:48. Trudging along, but feeling OK. Definitely not feeling light on my feet without my K shoes. But not too bad.

The next 9 were rolling hills with several tough ups and of course some nice downs to match, explaining the wild variation in pace. 8:04, 8:20, 8:52, 8:18, 9:01, 8:19, 8:33, 8:49, 9:02.

At this point (15 miles) I was getting pretty dam tired. The day was warming up. My legs were sluggish. But I was still moving. With my water bottles, I never paused once between miles 3 and 17. Had 2 GU's along the way while running. The strategy was working. This run was kicking my butt. Luckily it was all down and flat from here.

The next two were downhill - 8:22, 8:14. Then I had a lengthy stop for more water and a little stretching. Note to self - 2 bottles are not enough for 14 miles on a warm day. I wondered what kind of pace I could manage for the last 3 on tired legs.

Well, not much apparently. 8:40, 8:49, 8:52. Plus I stopped for a walk break after 18 and 19. I was wiped out. But, I made it! Total average time of 8:39 for the 20 is much better than the 8:55 I did for 18 on the same course 3 weeks ago. Two hours and 53 minutes of endurance training, done! 50.2 miles for the week, done! Niedermeyer, dead! (Sorry, 70's flashback)

I never thought I would see a 50 mile week again, but there it is. Now I get to rest this week with a mini taper before Surf City. It looks like next week will be like today; Beautiful for vacationers, a little too warm for marathoners. I think some loopsters will be dipping their tired legs in the Pacific. The beach was packed like a summer day today. Shorts and bikinis and topless runners all over. And it is possible to tan in January - I have a nice red glow after today. We'll send some Northerners home with a nice little tan present.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wednesday Speedwork

The last two weeks were new highs of 44 and 45 miles, and this week I am shooting for 50! Included will be a 20 mile hill run Sunday, three 'normal' runs of 6, 7, and 8 miles, and yesterday's speed work, which came to over 9 miles.

Monday was an easy six the day after my epic 20.6 at 8:09 pace. And yet my legs felt fine and instead of easy junk miles I ended up pushing a pretty good pace - the last two at 8:00 pace.

Tuesday was off, so Wednesday I was full of steam and ready for some long speedwork. I decided on 3x2 mile intervals with 1/2 mile cooldowns. I planned to run half marathon pace, since I have Surf City in 10 days and I wanted to get a feel for 7:15 pace.

One mile warmup and I was feeling a little tired - 8:39. Oh well, off we go!

Mile 1: First Garmin check I was near 7:30, and it felt fast. I tried pushing harder, but was still near 7:30. Ugh. Well there's a long way to go. I tell myself to just relax and run, and usually things get easier as I warm up. Perhaps I'll work my way down to 7:15. Mile 1: 7:27

Mile 2: G says I am at 7:23 at the start. I keep pushing and soon I am at 7:15. Hmm. Not as hard as I thought. I definitely feel a 2nd wind during mile two and am enjoying accelerating. Finish up at 7:10 - no problem!

Quick drink and jog 0.6 miles at 8:25 pace. OK! Feeling good now. Ready to kill it.

Mile 3 and 4: First G check shows 6:54! OK, bucko, take it easy! I relax and feel like I am just coasting for 1/2 mile as the lap pace slowly drops to 7:15. Then I pick it up again and finish 3 at 7:09. Mile 4 is fun and I alternate with sub 7 and trying to relax. Finish 4 at 7:04.

As I jog 0.7 at 8:25 pace I think about how much better shape I am in now then even last year. Last year for this workout I ran 7:30's and 7:40's. Speedwork is now a blast and running hard just seems to make me want to run harder, not quit and walk. I'm starting to see how this can be addicting. I haven't run and had feelings quite like this since college; Like I am invincible and can do anything!

Miles 5 and 6: I settle into pace and cruise along the beachpath, passing joggers, walkers, even bikers. Not effortless, but not too hard either! 7:14 and 7:07. I finish and almost don't want to slow down for the last mile. Want to cruise forever. Plenty left in the tank. Looking forward to the race...

So the 6 speed miles averaged 7:12, and I feel pretty good that I could do that for 13 and get a new PR. Surf City, here I come! In the meantime, I'm still piling on miles.

Extremely Long and Incredibly Quick

This is not a story about the 11th (mile). It's about every mile after.

Today was my first 20 miler of this marathon cycle. After two 18 milers, I was ready to step up to 20, even though the marathon is still 8 weeks out. I plan to do 4 of 20 or more. But first let me tell you about the rest of my week.

I decided to switch to full time Kinvara use this week. I had been alternating with my heavier Saucony Rides, but the Kinvaras always feel so good. Since I want to race in them, I decided to make sure my legs were used to them.

Tuesday was a 7-mile group run, but I got into a fast groove by mile 2 and just went with it. Check out these splits: 8:44, 7:54, 7:54, 7:46, 7:46, 7:38, 7:30.

This was not a tempo run. Just a regular run where I just couldn't help but go fast. I may sound like a broken record, but these shoes just want to go fast! (For you young'uns, a broken record is when there is a scratch on a vinyl record, and it causes the needle to skip and play the same words over and over again. You're welcome.)

Wednesday I followed that up with 7 miles with some hills. Goal was to take it easy, but I couldn't help myself and the last two miles were both sub 8. Averaged 8:18.

Thursday I hit the gym, and Friday I did 10.3 miles. Again, the goal was just to add miles, but the shoes, the dang shoes just want to go fast! I feel like Wallace in the Wrong Trousers. I had no control over my legs! (If you haven't seen this, you should)

Friday Splits: 8:43, 8:23, 8:18, 8:03, 7:54, 8:07, 7:43, 7:49, 7:44, 7:39 - Avg 8:02

This is kind of crazy fast for me, but I've kind of moved to a new plateau lately, so I'm going with it. I've solidified my goal pace for the marathon. My plan is to average 8:00 for the first 6 miles. Then run 7:45-7:50 for the next 14, and then hold on as long as possible. This gives me a little room for bonking and still finish under 3:30 (8:00 pace and my BQ). I'm getting very comfortable with the sub 8 pace, so it is feeling very do-able at this point.

So today I had a couple goals:
A. Run 20 miles. Since I had not gone over 18.3 yet, this was a nice step up.
B. See how the Kinvaras and my calves hold up for 20 miles. I have not run more than 13 miles in these shoes yet, and was concerned how it would affect my calves and other muscles.
C. Pace. I really had no need for a goal pace. Just needed to take it easy and complete the miles. But, as I've said, it is nearly impossible to run slow in these things! Plus I had come up with this awesome blog title days ago, so I kind of had to go for it. So in the back (OK the front) of my mind, I wanted to try and relax, but ramp up close to 8 minute pace, and see if I could run at near race pace for the last 14 miles. Without pushing myself.

OK, so Sunday dawned as another perfect running day. 50's and cloudy, low wind. We had rain Saturday and more coming Monday, but Sunday turned out perfect. I had a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, and went out the door about 9AM, telling DW I would see her in about 3 hours.

First 6 miles went to form. I tried to go as easy as possible. 9:06, 8:37, 8:37, 8:26, 8:19, 8:26. First 5 miles were on the wood chip trail, and then mile 6 takes me over a hill and down to the beach.

Surf was high today, maybe 10 foot waves. Only a few BA surfers were out in it. I felt a kinship with them as I was feeling pretty BA myself. Miles 7 and 8 were 8:15 and 8:16 and then I had GU #1 and a drink. A nice little downhill got me moving into the sub 8 groove and it was game on from there.
Miles 9 - 19: 7:55, 7:54, 7:56, 7:58, 7:59, 7:51, 7:52, 7:52, 7:52, 7:48, 7:54.

"Holy crap" you may be saying, and I would agree. My trousers were pulling me along and I was enjoying the ride. Mile 9 I went past LAX and the outbound flights were taking off over my head. They were extremely loud and incredibly close.


At mile 11.2 I reached the Marina Del Rey Channel and turned around and headed for home. Nine miles one direction along the beach. And then I felt the wind. Oh cr@p, this could really suck, I thought. But my pace was staying steady and it ended up not being too bad.

At mile 14.5 I had GU #2. Still felt good. By mile 17.5 at my last water stop, my body was stiff and achy if I leaned over or tried any stretches. But once I started running again, it was not a problem. I could handle the running, but wondered how I would feel the next day. My back had been a little stiff this week.
At one point I saw this kid who must have been aghast at my incredible speed.

So I reached mile 20 and felt good enough to actually accelerate! I felt like the end of a 10 miler, not a 20 miler! I was channeling Maranda at the end of her Philly race and did mile 20 in 7:33!!!! Felt pretty good about my odds of being able to hold on for a strong last 6 miles of the marathon - something I have not done in 30 years. Only then did I ease off and trot in the last 0.6 at 8:49 pace. So I went through 20 in 2:42:29, only a few minutes off my BQ pace! Unlike previous years when I ran my first 20, I was not just hanging on and glad to be done. I felt like I could have kept going for miles, albeit in some discomfort.
So, first 8 at 8:30, last 12 at 7:52! 20+ miles at 8:09 pace. I'm calling that banana-worthy!

Then I got to relax and watch football the rest of the day. And DW made me home-made cheeseburgers so I didn't even have to go out for my usual celebration. Life is Exceedingly Good!

Miles and More Miles

From Jan 16th,

So, things continue to go very well! I just finished a 44 mile week, which is my highest mileage week since high school! Last year I peaked out with a couple of 41 mile weeks and averaged 34 for the last 8 weeks before the marathon. This year I plan to bump that up to averaging 45 for the next 8 weeks. And I want to hit 50 at least once. I think the added mileage will make the difference to hold the bonk at bay.

Also, my weight is down 5 pounds from last year at this time. And I plan to race in the Kinvaras which seem to be good for 15 seconds per mile. All systems are go!!

More details:
Last Sunday I planned to do 19 hilly miles in Palos Verdes; pushing my endurance limits. I realized I was out of GU, so I decided to join our local running store's Sunday group run which leaves at 8:15AM, and pick up some GU there. Well, silly me did not realize that the store is not open until 10. So I headed out with just water and only the bowl of cereal in my belly to fuel me.

It turned out to be a good run. I hooked up with a guy who was going to do 16, and he decided to stay with me and we ran almost the whole way together. Relaxed pace averaged 8:55 up and down a lot of hills. By the last two miles however, my lack of fuel finally got to me and I really crashed hard. It felt like the last parts of a marathon where my legs were just DONE. Lesson learned. I picked up 10 GUs at the store after the run. Still 18.2 hard miles done.

Sidenote: My lifetime mileage odometer went over 22,000 with this run. Coincidentally, my 1996 Honda also just rolled over 200,000 miles this week. I'm a proud cheapskate.

Tuesday I did 7 with the group.

Wednesday I did 9.3 miles with some hills and pushed the pace under 8 for the last 3 miles. A good hard run.

Thursday I did an easy 6 with the last 3 along the beach in the hard packed sand. It was dark and cool and a nice change-up from my usual runs. The coast line is maybe 150 yards from the bike path and homes, and down a little, so you really feel isolated. All you hear are the waves crashing and the city seems miles away. Very nice.

Friday I hit the gym for circuit training.

Saturday was 13 miles along the beach, averaged 8:31. It's nice when a half marathon is no big deal.
Sunday I capped my big week (5 runs!) with 9 miles at a half marathon at the beach. I jogged to the 5 mile mark, watched the leaders go by, and then started running along the course, which was the beach bike path and roads. I was doing about 8:15 pace, so the 6 and 7 minute milers were going by. It was a fun way to watch the race. I ran the whole last 8 miles of the course, and got to cheer our own AtomBuddy as he raced for his NYCM qualifying time. And then at the finish, I met up with JunBlack and Alice, and we all went out to breakfast for a LoopWest planning meeting. 3 more weeks!

So, I am very happy with that week. Seven more tough weeks of training before the taper, and then I'll just hope for cool temps. The BQ is in my sights.

2012 is starting out FAST

Catching up on some old posts. This one is from Jan 3rd.

I did a nice 12 miler on New Years Day. That qualifies as a cutback week for me after 18+ last week. It's nice when you can treat 12 miles as an easy day. Took yesterday off, and then got in some speed work this morning before heading to the airport.

Today's plan was 4x1 mile intervals with 1/2 mile cool-downs. I did this workout 3 weeks ago and averaged 6:49, amazing myself with how easy it felt. So today I vowed to push my limits harder and run under 6:40.

Felt pretty good on the first one and finally locked in on a good pace and finished with 6:44. Definitely working harder. Usually my miles just get faster as I get warmed up and today was no exception.

Second mile I was feeling better and accelerated the last 1/2 to finish in 6:36. Took the cooldown pretty slow, and then was right back into #3.

Third mile was work. But it was fun work as my legs still felt good. I was huffing and puffing pretty hard by the end though, like the end of a 5K. 6:30!

Now I was really tired, and walked a little, and had trouble feeling ready for #4, but when G said go, I had to go. The legs got a little heavy and weren't responding as well anymore. Still I really wanted to get one under 6:30, so I was pushing it hard. But I couldn't quite get there. 6:37

Phew! felt good about my effort, and great about a 6:37 average for the 4 miles. Didn't leave anything on the table this time.