Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Wet Windy Run

Today's run brought back fond memories of last October's Twin Cities Marathon. It was very wet, a little windy and there was a definite chill in the air. I did a tempo workout on the Dakota Trail by my apartment and it felt great. I got my pace down under 6:00 per mile for the final 20 minutes of the tempo and it felt very comfortable. Along with getting in a good workout in the rain I tested a new piece of running apparel during my workout: arm warmers. Many elite runners have been seen in marathons over the last few years wearing these on cool days as a way to keep their arms warm without having to wear a long-sleeved shirt under their uniform. After wearing them in cool wet conditions I can totally understand why many runners have begun to wear them. I have a pair of Asics warmers and they cover my arms from my wrists all the way up to my shoulders. A great benefit to them is that if you get warm and no longer need them, you can pull them right off without having to remove your shirt or uniform to get them off. The particular pair I have also kept my arms dry from the rain as well as keeping them warm.

I know for sure that if it is a cool morning in Fargo in 2 weeks, I will be wearing these on the starting line of the marathon. With less than 2 weeks until the race now, the tapering is really beginning. I still hit 60 miles this week but next week I'll drop down to around 50 miles with one day off as well. The week of the marathon I'll probably get 30-35 miles in prior to the actual race. In the past this level of tapering has proven fairly effective for me. I am also going to begin getting to bed a little earlier this week. During a normal week I can get by with around 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep a night. My goal this week is to get at least 8 hours a night and the week of the marathon between 8.5 and 9.5 hours a night.

It's going to be a good couple of weeks. Getting past this rain this weekend and the next few days coming up, the weather looks to be very good in favor of some ideal marathon conditions. Next weekend I am going to head out to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to watch the 1st annual Eau Claire Marathon to check out the race and the course to see what it's going to be like. May is quite the month for marathoning in the upper midwest: Eau Claire, La Crosse (Wisconsin) and Lincoln (Nebraska) next weekend, Fargo the following weekend, Green Bay in 3 weeks, Madison and Stillwater in 4 weeks and Minneapolis in 5 weeks. With these new marathons I am looking forward to checking them out to see some potential future races that I may run in springs to come.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mile Repeats in a Heat Wave

Today I ran one of my last interval workouts prior to the marathon in two weeks. I picked the hottest day of the year so far to do it and it was ridiculously windy as well. Considering those conditions, I ended up having a really good workout. I averaged 5:42 per mile with only 5 minutes of recovery between the 4 miles I did. When I did this workout last fall prior to the Twin Cities Marathon, my fastest mile was 5:42 with my slowest being 5:55. The conditions that day were much more favorable for running mile repeats than today was.

Considering all of that, even though I was somewhat disappointed in my performance after the workout, it gives me a strong indication I am in great shape leading up to Fargo.

On another note, the Boston Marathon was on Monday, one of my favorite races I've ever done. The US had a great showing with Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher placing third overall in their gender races. Quite possibly the most inspirational team of runners ever, Team Hoyt finished their 27th Boston Marathon and their 1000th career race together. For those who don't know about Team Hoyt, here is a link to a video about them. I also had two UWRF teammates complete their first Boston Marathon on Monday. Both of them ran slower than their qualifying times but at Boston, that's pretty normal. I am hoping to be back in Boston competing again in either 2010 or 2011. After my performance there in 2005, I am still looking for some redemption on that course.

It's going to get wet over the next few days, I hope everyone can get out and get in a good run or two in the rain, always one of my favorite things to do in the spring!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Earth Day Half-Marathon

My final preparation race for the Fargo Marathon was today in St. Cloud. I ran the Earth Day Half-Marathon. It ended up being a pretty good test for me. The weather conditions were pretty good for a longer race like that. It was cloudy, upper 40s, with a light breeze coming out of the north. I stayed the night in St. Cloud so I wouldn't have to get up too early to travel. I was still up early anyway, like I normally am on the morning of a race. After a good warm-up run I was feeling very ready to get in a good race. My goal was to break 1:20:00. My P.R. was at 1:22:42 from almost 3 years ago so I was overdo for breaking that.

The race got started and I was out at a good pace early. I came across the first mile in 5:56, a little quicker than I had wanted but it felt really comfortable. I backed off on my pace a bit anyway because I wanted to try and negative split the second half of the race. At mile 3 I lost 20 seconds on my time because I had to make a pit-stop at a port-a-potty. Usually I don't have that problem in races like this but it was somewhat out of my control. Despite losing that time I was still running pretty strong and I made it through the first 7 miles in the top 15 and feeling well for the most part. On the 8th mile though, my left hamstring began to tighten up for the first time in a couple weeks. My pace slowed as a result of that and I didn't have the ability to push the second half of the race as strongly as I had planned. I maintained my place and was able to bring my pace down to 6:00 for the final 1.1 miles. The finish to the race was great, there were a ton of spectators and the finish line was on the middle of the football field on the SCSU campus. It felt a lot like the finish to a marathon.

I ended up 11th overall and 2nd in the men's 20-24 age group. I ran the race in a new P.R. time of 1:21:50, not as fast as I had been planning for but considering how my body responded I'm fairly happy about it.

There are now only 3 weeks until the marathon. I begin to reduce the mileage slightly next week and then much more the next two weeks. Due to flooding in Fargo, the course for the marathon has been changed drastically. It is now a two-loop course with the entire course staying in Fargo. The original course crossed the Red River into Moorhead, MN and back and it also traveled south of I-94. The two-loop course also stays on the north side of I-94. These are the roads I am also the most familiar with from days of running in Fargo at NDSU.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Feeling Ready

4 weeks away from marathon race day, I have completed two very important workouts over the past two days that have given me a good indication of my fitness level going into the Fargo Marathon. With yesterday being Good Friday, I had the day off of work and took advantage by going home to Coon Rapids and did my interval workout on my home high school track. It was a modified version of the famous Yasso 800s workout. Instead of doing 10x800m, I did 10x1000m the same way. I did this to challenge myself a bit more and to see if my body could take it. I found out yesterday that it could. I averaged 3:24 for the 10x1000m, with my fastest being 3:23 and the slowest being 3:27. I was very consistent and I know it was about where I needed to be to attain the goal of the traditional Yasso 800s workout. Had I done the traditional workout, my 800 splits were between 2:43 and 2:45 for all of them, so based on the workout, that tells me I should be capable of running around 2:45 or just under for the marathon (doing 1000s probably tells me I could have done 2:40-2:43 for just 800s).

Today for a follow-up, I did what will end up being my last 20+ mile run. I did a tour de Coon Rapids, hitting nearly every area of the city this morning. The final distance measured out to be 20.5 miles and I maintained a pace of 7:10 for the run. Considering I was sore from the intervals on Friday I was very happy with it. I stopped only once for water at the Coon Rapids Dam by the Mississippi River (I did not drink from the river though) and took an energy gel there as well.

My final significant test of my training before the tapering begins will be a week from today when I run the Earth Day Half-Marathon (link on the right side). If all goes well, I will be feeling really good about the marathon coming up. I have also posted a list of all the races I have run so far in 2009 and the races I am preliminarily planning to run this summer and next fall. It is just a rough plan and it certainly could change but it is my ideal list of races at this point so far.

For you midwest marathoners, registration for the 2009 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon opens on Friday, April 17th at 12:01am. It fills fast so register as soon as you can. I'll be registering the moment I wake up on Friday morning!

It's finally feeling like spring this Easter weekend. Enjoy the weather and the running but don't forget why we celebrate Easter in the first place. God Bless and Happy Easter everyone!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

T-minus 5 Weeks...

It is now less than 5 weeks until the 2009 Fargo Marathon. It is about this time in my training where the marathon begins to consume my thoughts more and more. I am down to just one more race prior to the marathon, the Earth Day Half-Marathon in two weeks. Yesterday I ran the Bunker Hills 8K in Coon Rapids. I placed 6th overall, in 29:29, nothing fast at all. The course is hilly but I certainly could've been a minute faster or more had my hamstrings not tightened up with about 1.5 miles to go. The trails the race was on are trails I know way too well, so I knew every hill and turn. It just wasn't my day but that's the way things go sometimes. Needless to say, I'm not training for 8K's or even 10K's.

This week will be a short work week for me as there is no school on Good Friday. The WMHS track team has their first track meet of the season on Thursday so I'm excited to see how our runners' training has been going. My workouts for the first half of this week coming up will be pretty easy but the 3 day weekend is going to be a good challenge. I'm hoping with a few easy runs to start the week will give my legs, especially my hamstrings some time to recover and loosen up before the tough workouts come. I decided to take today off (my first in 3 weeks) to see if that will help.

Best of luck to all of those running either the Zumbro 100K or 100 mile this weekend. The weather looks like it will cooperate for you. I will be sleeping while you all get your race started but I certainly am not taking my weekend easy by any means (I just won't be running 62 or 100 miles straight!). Friday's plan is to run 10x1000m on the track between 3:20 and 3:25 (5:20-5:30 mile pace) with equal time recovery. Saturday will be a long run of 20 or 21 miles and Sunday morning will be a tempo workout with a total of 45 minutes of hard running around 10-15 seconds under goal marathon pace. If the legs get the recovery they currently need during the first half of this week, the weekend of workouts will tell me a lot about my fitness and whether or not I am ready for a sub-1:20 half marathon and a sub-2:45 marathon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Up and Down Week

I am on spring break right now and my training this week has been a little up and down. I had a good long run last Saturday at Elm Creek. I put in just over 18 miles on a nice morning. Since then though, my left hamstring has been feeling a little tight every now and then. My run this morning it was very tight so it was pretty slow going. Since the run it has loosened up nicely and I should be just fine for my run later this afternoon in River Falls. It has been a couple months since I ran in RF so I'm really looking forward to it.

On Saturday, I'm running an 8K race at Bunker Hills Park in Coon Rapids. The park is only a couple miles from the house I grew up in so I know the trails and the course extremely well. It will be fun to race on trails I'm very accustomed to. I ran that race 3 years ago and placed 6th. I wasn't in that great of shape at that time compared to now. This has been my most consistent training I think I have ever had. It's making me very optomistic for the marathon coming up in 5 weeks!

After the race in Coon Rapids I only have one race left prior to the Fargo Marathon and that will be the Earth Day Half-Marathon in St. Cloud, MN on Saturday, April 18th. It has traditionally been a very fast, very competitive half-marathon, often with the top runners easily running under 1:10 for the race. I'm setting my goal at running under 1:20 which would be around a pace of 6:06 per mile, a P.R. in the distance by about 2 and a half minutes. If I can accomplish that and not feel totally dead at the end, I know I'll be ready for a big marathon P.R. in Fargo.