Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blizzard Run on a Shortened Work Day

My planned run for today was to get in between 11 and 13 miles at a normal pace, just putting in some miles. Well, obviously today in Minnesota was not an ideal running day. The snow began to fall in Watertown outside my classroom a little after 10:30 am and the superintendent decided to close school at 11:00 am because of the incoming storm. I spent a grand total of 50 minutes teaching today (I don't teach during 1st period, that is my prep time). In a way, it was great but it was also almost like a waste of the morning because I didn't feel like I accomplished much. The big positive that came out of the day was that I got to drive back to my apartment in Mound before the snow got too heavy. Once back I decided to get my run in right away before the snow got to be too much.

It was a good and bad plan all in one. I avoided the roads and ran on the Dakota Trail which goes right through the center of town and connects St. Bonifacius to Wayzata (about 17-18 miles long). I went west into the wind first until I reached St. Boni and turned around to come back. Just prior to me turning around to come back the wind shifted and the entire run back to my apartment was also into the wind! Not fun. The snow also picked up at that point so I had steadily growing icicles coming off of my eyebrows, eyelashes, and my hat. Despite all of that I completed the run (about 12.5 miles) and felt fairly good about it too. It will set me up good for the rest of the week's workouts. Tempo workout tomorrow after school, long run of 15-16 miles along the Mississippi and on Summit Avenue in St. Paul on Saturday, and a hill workout at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids on Sunday. I'm looking forward to them and hopefully no more snow!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tough Race, Tough Start to the New Week

Saturday was a tough race to get through. It was a 5K, which is basically a warm-up for me, and the course was covered in fresh snow. Parts of the course had been plowed but much of it had not been so I knew the times would not be fast (which was right). I ran a hard effort without faceplanting in the snow and finished 2nd overall out of about 150 runners. Considering the conditions I was happy with the race. I ran my cool down with the guy who beat me. He actually lives about 10 miles from me and is also training for a spring marathon, Madison (Wisconsin), at the end of May. He's run a couple before with a P.R. of just over 3 hours.

Sunday's run was tough and it was simply because I didn't eat what I normally do prior to a longer run. The food didn't sit well and I was uncomfortable for most of the run, but I maintained a decent pace and got in 14 miles before the sun went down. I ended with 61 miles for the week which I am pretty happy with for it being only February. I'm looking at reaching into the 80s for mileage by late March and into early April and everything is right on track for that. My first significant interval workout is next week, a workout called Yasso 800s. I'll be doing 5-6 of them the first time around. The goal is that 3 to 4 weeks prior to the marathon, you run 10x800 at your goal time (i.e. run the 800 in 3 minutes, 0 seconds if your marathon goal is 3 hours, 0 minutes) with an equal amount of jogging recovery. I'll be doing this workout 3 teams over the next two months, gradually increasing the number of intervals each time.

Anyway, I'm ready for this day to be done. I am currently sitting at the quarterly parent-teacher conferences. I haven't had a parent come by in about 15 minutes, this place is like a ghost town for all the teachers around me right now (kinda nice!). I'm here for 20 more minutes and then my day of 13 hours at school will be done...just in time to start it all over again in less than 10 hours!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Phase 2 Underway

This week marks the start of the 2nd phase of my marathon training for Fargo in May. The 1st phase was primarily just a base training phase, building miles and increasing the endurance. This 2nd phase brings in more marathon pace workouts and hill and interval workouts as well as continuing to increase my longer runs and my overall mileage. Today I ran my first real tempo workout (not counting the Fartlek workouts I've done weekly) and considering I ran most of the tempo pace head-on into a pretty tough chilly wind, the pacing felt good and I felt strong. I didn't push too hard but I know I put in a good effort with the legs definitely feeling a little sore right now.

What will be really interesting will be my 5K road race coming up this weekend. I'll be racing an outdoor 5K in White Bear Lake Saturday morning. It'll simply be a test to see where I'm at. I plan to push myself pretty hard but a February 5K outside can be pretty unpredictable with weather and road conditions. I'm excited to just get out and compete though, it feels like it's been too long.

If all goes well on Saturday, my next race will be the Human Race on March 22nd in St. Paul. I'm planning to run the doubleheader there (5K then 8K). After that, it's a little open but I'm looking at this for a schedule: April 4th: Bunker Hills 8K in Coon Rapids, April 25th: Get in Gear Half-Marathon in Minneapolis, and May 9th: Fargo Marathon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Fun Day at School!

The weather is finally taking a turn for the better in Minnesota. We hit 35 today, and it felt like 40! But before I got out on my afternoon run, we had a fun event at the end of the school day today. It is Snow Week at WMHS and today was the annual Staff vs. Seniors basketball game. This has been a tradition for over 20 years and I got to be a part of it. I hadn't played much ball in a while so I was unsure of how it would go. I grew up playing basketball before I got into running so it is another love of mine. With me being the youngest teacher in the building and in very good shape compared to most of the other staff members, I basically played the entire game (only 20 minutes). My shots early on were ugly but I managed to put a few baskets in and the Staff ended up winning by 2 at the end! It was a lot of fun to have many of my students cheering for me and I even got to play against some of my students.

Running is a sport that rarely gets publicity or much notice from the average public. My students occasionally hear me talk about my running but they don't ever see it, but they got to see a small taste of it today. A few students came up to me after the game and said, "Wow! You are fast!" I wasn't even running that hard but I almost always beat everyone else down the court. That's just how I always played. Tomorrow will be fun to see some of the other comments I get from my other students about the game.

After the game and the school day ended I got out on a 10.5 mile Fartlek run in the beautiful weather. It felt great and I got warm enough I dumped my headband and gloves 2 miles in. Looking at the weather report, it'll be like that for a week or so now. I am looking forward to it.

Also, there is a new half-marathon race in the Twin Cities beginning this spring. The annual Get In Gear event at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis is adding a half-marathon to the event. I am leaning towards running this as my final prep race before the Fargo Marathon. The Get In Gear will now have a distance for almost every runner: Half-Marathon, 10K, 5K, and 2K.

Enjoy the warm weather in the midwest this next week, I know I will!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Saturday before Super Sunday

Yesterday, spring made an appearance on the last day of January. 45 degrees and very sunny made for an amazing day to be outside and to get a break from what has so far been a tough winter for running. I had my longest single run since last October's Twin Cities Marathon, just shy of 14.5 miles and it felt great. Running in shorts, long sleeves, sunglasses I got a lot of weird looks from passers-by and got some interesting comments from them as well. Deep down I know it won't last but boy I sure wish it would. After I finish my run this afternoon I will be just shy of 60 miles for the week, a great week considering how busy things have been and I'm hoping that this pace can continue.

Looking back at my past marathon training seasons, this one is already on pace to be the highest mileage training season and my endurance level at this point is already much higher than it's been in quite some time. My goal is to maintain my mileage around 55-65 miles for the next few weeks (doing only 6 runs a week, one-a-day, with one rest day) before I really start to ramp up in mid-February. This is me hoping that over the next few weeks the weather will gradually warm up (next week we're supposed to be in the 20s and 30s!) and stay that way for a while. This is never a guarantee in Minnesota but I'm an optimistic guy and I like to keep hoping.

In March, the high school track season will begin and I will be helping out with my school's track team. My primary role for this spring will be to simply run with the distance runners, do an occasional interval workout with them and cheer them on at the track meets. It'll be interesting to see how my personal training will go with running with the high school team, whether I will need to keep a faster pace, do additional miles myself, or run tempo or interval workouts above and beyond what the team is doing. Since I do want to be a full-time track and cross country coach while still doing my own training and racing, this spring track season will be a great test for me.

Everything in the upper midwest, enjoy this weekend's heat wave. I'm going out for my run and then settling in to enjoy the Super Bowl tonight!

GO CARDINALS! (I'm a diehard Packers fan but I'm also a Coon Rapids Cardinal alum, so the Cardinals have a special place in my heart, at least tonight!)