Sunday, July 21, 2013

TCM Training - Week #3 (Extreme Heat & Humidity!)

It was one heck of a weather week here in the Twin Cities. High heat and humidity throughout the first 5 days of the week made for one challenging week of training. Combined with a lot of busy days of preparing for my upcoming trip to Nicaragua and this week was tough.

First, the details:

Monday - Easy 7 mile run
Tuesday - Easy 5 mile run
Wednesday AM - Easy 4 mile run
Wednesday PM - Torchlight 5K race in Minneapolis (17:42)
Thursday - Easy 9 mile run
Friday - Hill repeats
Saturday - 9 mile run over hills
Sunday - 17 mile long run (6:56 pace)

With even the mornings starting out hot and sticky, I tried to make my easy runs very relaxed so I didn't overheat. It worked until Thursday morning when I bonked on a recovery run. Running with a couple of my high school runners at Hyland Park in Bloomington that morning, I fell apart after about 7 miles. Most likely due to the heat and the fact that I was worn down from a hard, hot race the night before, it was a rough morning.

Back to the race on Wednesday night...the Torchlight 5K is quickly becoming a tradition in July in Minneapolis. It's part of the Aquatennial celebration in mid-July. It is run through the heart of downtown Minneapolis and makes its way to the Mississippi River and crosses it on the famous Stone Arch Bridge. Over 4,000 runners participated this year and it was a scorcher. I managed to run 17:42 which I was happy with considering the conditions. It was nowhere near my PR, but running a 5K in that heat and humidity in the midst of marathon training, I'm relativity pleased with this performance. Periodically pushing my legs at a faster pace like this is really beneficial because it allows my marathon pace to seem that much easier.

That brings me to today's workout. I went down to Lake Calhoun to run a portion of the Twin Cities course from mile 5 to 14. It totaled 17 miles when including the return route back to the lake. I ran with Jason and Paul, two training partners of mine. We were greeted by a steady rain that lasted for the first 10 miles of the run. We decided to keep a steady pace for this run, as opposed to pushing it real hard (we were all a little exhausted). In spite of that, the run was a solid pace, averaging 6:56 for the run. It felt really good overall and the rain kept the trails relatively clear for us the whole morning.

This coming week will be very different as I will be leaving for Nicaragua on Tuesday morning on a missions trip with my church, Eagle Brook Church. We will be there for a week and will return home late the following Tuesday. While we are down there, running will not be happening. The part of Nicaragua where we will be is very dangerous so I will not be running for 8 days. It's going to be difficult going without the training, but my safety is more important. It will be interesting to see how my body responds from a week off when I do return home. You never know, it could be a great little break to keep me from overtraining, something I failed at last year.

We'll see...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

TCM Training - Week #2

Week 2's workouts are complete. Here are the details:

Monday - Easy 7 mile run
Tuesday - Threshold workout on track (10 minutes @ 5:47, 6 minutes @ 5:58, 8 minutes @ 5:56, 2 minutes recovery in between each)
Wednesday - Easy 8.5 mile run
Thursday - Up tempo 7.25 mile run (6:41 pace)
Friday - Hill repeats (6 x Providence Hill)
Saturday - Easy, slow 6 mile run
Sunday - Marathon pace workout (15 miles, 2nd half at MP)

Tuesday was a tough night of threshold work. I ran with the cross country team and we took the pace out a little too strong on the first 10 minute segment and it set us up for a difficult remainder of the workout. We eventually backed off the pace and the amount of time running at threshold pace (original goal was 3 x 10 minutes with 2 minutes in between). It was a warm evening which certainly affected it.

On Thursday, I led a run at Elm Creek Park for high school runners from around the west/north metro. The pace got faster as the run progressed and we ended up running 6:41 pace for a little over 7 miles. It felt pretty good, but I suppose that's what happens when you run with ambitious high schoolers!

Friday was a great hill workout. I progressively ran faster up the hill each time I went up it. I began at 1:59 for 0.35 miles and ended at 1:46. I felt really good the whole workout and I know hills are going to be key in my preparation for Twin Cities.

Saturday was downright sluggish and slow. Looking back at it, it was exactly what I needed. I was exhausted on Friday afternoon and evening (probably from doing a lot of yard work on Thursday and Friday!), but after Saturday's run, I suddenly felt very refreshed and had some renewed energy. It led me into a great workout this morning.

I ran an out & back route on the Rush Creek Trail all the way to the Coon Rapids Dam from home (7.5 miles one way). At the turn around, I shifted pace and the goal was to run 6:40 pace on the way back. I ran 7:07 pace on the way out and ended up running 6:31 pace on the way back! It stayed cloudy and cool throughout the run, which certainly helped. The Rush Creek Trail is a great trail to do workouts like this on. It's very flat and no stoplights to hinder the workout. There are only a couple of residential roads to cross so you can really get into a good rhythm.

It's been a good week of training and a somewhat trying week for just about everything else. Well, maybe not everything else, but it was a challenging week with some of the things going on with my summer job. I've had moments where I felt all the work I've been doing has gone completely ignored. I was e-mailed and asked to do a couple of tasks that I had already completed 2 months ago and had e-mailed those completed tasks to those in charge and they were literally ignored or forgotten. Just a little frustrating. It appears as though things have been cleared up but with a busy week coming up, we'll see how far things go. It has left me feeling very excited to get back to my full-time job of teaching and coaching in August. God constantly reveals to me more and more instances of why I am a teacher & coach and why I love it so much. Deep down, I'm hoping I may be able to go without a summer job next year and enjoy more of my summer break. It's a big prayer of mine and we'll see where God leads me down the road.

This coming week is my final full week of training before I leave for Nicaragua. While I'm in Nicaragua, I will not be running because of safety concerns with where I will be. This will be a big week. I'm aiming for about 70 miles and it will include a 5K race on Wednesday night (Torchlight 5K) and a 17 miler on Sunday which will primarily be a marathon pace workout.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

TCM Training - Week #1

The first week of official marathon training is in the books and it was a great week. First, here are the workouts:

Monday - Easy 8.5 mile run
Tuesday - Threshold workout: 2 x 2 miles w/3 minutes recovery in between
Wednesday - Easy 7.3 mile run
Thursday - Interval workout: 8 x 3 minutes @ 5:30 pace w/4 minutes jog recovery on TCM course
Friday - Easy 7.2 mile run
Saturday - Easy 9.5 mile run on hilly trails at Afton State Park
Sunday - Long run (16 miles @ 7:07 pace)

The total for the week was 67 miles, my highest of 2013. Tuesday was my first Threshold workout of the training. These workouts are the key to just about everything I do in my marathon training. Nearly every week will include one of these workouts. Typically the segments are 1-3 miles in length with a short recovery time in between. The pace for the segments is at Threshold, which is the point where the body begins to struggle processing oxygen through the bloodstream. For a majority of people, this would be around your 10K race pace. On Tuesday, I ran 11:45 and 11:53 respectively for the 2 mile segments. The pace was right where it should be (5:52 - 5:56).

Thursday was another day involving a workout I plan to do on the TCM course. For this workout, I covered the course from 14.5 to 21.5 (Minnehaha Parkway to St. Thomas hill). Getting familiar with the course will be vital to having a good race plan in October. My goal is to get on the course somewhere once each week.

Finally, today's long run was a great workout. I ran around Elm Creek Park Reserve on the paved trails early in the morning. Despite that, it was still hot and humid, so running at the pace I did made me feel very good about where I'm at right now.

In terms of my preparation mentally and spiritually, the two videos below will be helpful in understanding where I am at and what I am aspiring to do this summer and fall. The first is a video of Ryan Hall completing a workout leading up to his run at Boston in 2009. His explanation at the beginning of the video of the chant of "Ole!" and its significance of when it was used is phenomenal. The second video is of a performance by Hillsong United of a song called, "Go!" in which they use that same chant of "Ole!" in parts of the song. Much like Ryan Hall's prayer in leading up to Boston in 2009, my prayer is that my running of the marathon and the training leading up to it would be glorifying to God and that my running may be a way that people would see God working in the gift he has blessed me with. I know I won't be running anywhere near as fast as Ryan, but I know that if I can be running at my best, God will be glorified.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Journey #14 Begins...

Beginning this week, I embark on my 14th journey of training to prep for a 26.2 race. It was a decision that wasn't made until just 2 days ago. It had been in my mind for quite some time but finally made the commitment on Sunday. I registered for the Twin Cities Marathon, which will take place on October 6, 2013. A lot went into this decision.

After a successful but taxing journey to Chicago last summer, I spent nearly 6 months recovering and rehabbing my injured foot. This initially made my decision to take 2013 off of marathoning easy. However, as I've come back strong from the injury, the marathon bug was starting to bite at me. I also was beginning to struggle with the training I had been trying to put myself through. Training for shorter, faster races led me to quickly realize that many years of marathon training left me unable to get the necessary leg turnover to be competitive in these races like I thought I could be...needless to say, my body thrives on running long distances at a steady pace!

The biggest reason that led me to this decision was the fact that I was struggling to keep myself motivated to get out the door each morning without a race or goal to completely focus on. Having a marathon to prepare for keeps me focused, gets me excited, and especially doing my "home" marathon for the first time in 3 years is really motivating me.

Only a few days in to the training and things are off to a great start. Today, I ran a Threshold workout of 2 x 2 miles at a goal of 6:00 per mile pace with 3 minutes recovery in between. I ended up running 11:45 and 11:53. The pace felt good, right about where my Threshold pace should be.

As my marathon training progresses throughout the summer, I will share different workouts that I am doing, many of which I have experience with and have worked extremely well for me, but I also intend to try a few things differently this summer as well.