Friday, August 29, 2008

Foot Pain, Cotton Shirts, Bloody Nipples, Velcroed CD Players and Dude, Where’s My Car

Sounds like a few health issues, a couple bad band names and a very bad movie. Unfortunately it’s the story of the last four weeks of training for the 2004 Chicago Marathon. Sit back, relax and strap it down - this is a long story.

Up until those last four weeks, I had been running pretty well. I had some soreness in my right Achilles, but it seemed to be doing okay. I was running in some $50 Nikes that I bought off the clearance rack at Sportmart. I am not even sure they were legit running shoes.

Anyway, that last month was a busy one. I had decided to enter the half marathon that year so I could get a race under my belt before I attempted to run 26.2 miles in the full marathon. I also thought it would be a good idea to see what it was like to actually run a race, seeing as how I never had up until that point. The half was on September 19th, which was three weeks away from the marathon. Most training typically suggests you complete your last 20 miler on that weekend. I thought, no big deal, I’ll simply move my 20 miler up one weekend to on or around September 11th. The 11th was already scheduled to be a day and night of drinking and fun for my brother Nick’s bachelor party. So, I decided to pound out my first ever 20 miler on the Friday night before. I decided this at about 3:00 on that Friday after I got home from buying a few hundred dollars worth of food and beer for the impending bachelor party. So I hit the road and headed for the lake path at about 4:00 with a few bucks in my pocket and my $50 Nikes on my feet.
I don’t remember much of the early part of the run. I do remember the halfway point when I turned around somewhere around 39th or 43 rd street. I turned around and saw I was quite a ways from the loop. Regardless, I began motoring along as the sun began to set as I was running out of sunlight. Somewhere around Monroe Harbor, I had developed a sudden and major problem. My feet began to throb. Not only were they throbbing, but every step I took felt worse and worse. It felt like my shoes were pieces of plywood being held on by rubber bands. They weren’t falling apart, but they may as well have been. I had no idea what was wrong, but something was and it was very painful.
I kept chugging along at what had to be a 10 minute pace or so. I tried to walk a little bit, but that still hurt and would just make it longer until I got home. I finally made it up to Fullerton and I vaguely remember taking my shoes off and jogging in my socks on that September night. I ended up exiting the path at Roscoe and put my shoes back on as I would have to run on streets and sidewalks. I was only about a half mile from our apartment, but I was absolutely starving. I think I was gone for over three hours at this point. I stopped for a smoothie and walked it on in the last couple of blocks from there.
I walked in the door and Matt had informed that Tiffany had called a few times wondering where in God’s name I could possibly be. I think I mentioned to him that I was entertaining the idea of going for a 20 miler that night. He was very congratulatory as he had not done his 20 miler yet. I called Tiffany, took a shower and assessed the entire situation. It wasn’t pretty. My feet were absolutely killing me, especially the right one. To this day, that was the worst running injury I’ve ever had. I was walking with a noticeable limp and couldn’t put any weight on my right foot.
I awoke the next day and started getting ready for Nick’s bachelor party. I think his buddy Ryan Lovell showed up at about 9 in the morning still drunk from the night before. The rest of the day involved Ryan Lovell repeatedly yelling to A.J. Burnett that it was a bachelor party, Lovell getting kicked out by the fourth inning for being too drunk, the Cubs beating the Marlins, me cooking dogs, brats, and burgers for about 25 guys and finally leading the same group of nearly 25 guys to see a Cake concert. Sometime between the cooking out and Cake concert, my foot really began to hurt. And this was with a steady flow of beer in me all day. I was hobbling around the park where the concert was and saw Max Konzleman now wearing a recently purchased trucker hat that said “Buzzzzzed.” Nice touch. Here's a photo of my four brothers and me from Wrigley Field that day:

(l to r: me, Michael, Pete, Nick, and Brad)

I woke up the next day to a disgusting mess in my apartment and a foot that I could barely walk on. I decided to take the rest of the week off from running until Friday. I went out for about three or four miles and was in pain pretty much the whole time. It was at this point that I considered both going to the doctor and investing in a new pair of running shoes. I decided to hold off on both until I ran the half marathon that Sunday.
The night before the half marathon, Tiffany and I had to go down to Joliet for something. I don’t really remember what for, but we followed that up with some dinner at Merichka’s. For those of you unfamiliar with Merichka’s, they are famous for their poor boy sandwich. I guess the best way to describe a poor boy is kind of like a long piece or ground sirloin on a buttery garlic bun. I highly recommend stopping by and having one next time you’re going through Joliet. What I don’t recommend is having one of these the night before a morning of strenuous physical activity, such as a half marathon.

Tiffany and I ended up getting back to the city late, had trouble finding a parking spot and got to bed well after midnight. I took what amounted to a cat nap and headed down to the southern part of Lake Shore Drive for the 13.1 mile 2004 Chicago Half Marathon. I had all of the essentials with me: my cotton shirt, some basketball-type shorts, my cd player and accompanying Velcro-able case and my cell phone. One horrible thing about the half is the parking situation. It’s a nightmare. I ended up finding a parking spot on a side street somewhere about a half mile away. As I was getting out of my car, my cell phone rings. It’s a co-worker who is trying to get into the office at 7:50 on a Sunday morning. As I was trying to help her punch in a code on the alarm panel, I decided to run while talking on the phone to her to try to get to the starting line before the gun went off. I got Penny in the building and made my way to the back of the pack of runners and was able to catch my breath for about two minutes before the race began. At that point of my life, I didn’t talk to many runners or even read anything about running. I didn’t know that I shouldn’t start at the back of the pack. I didn’t know cotton wasn’t a good idea. I didn’t know poorboys and a general lack of sleep the night before a race is a bad recipe. I know some of this sounds like it should be common sense, but sometimes a few missteps help get you on the right path later on down the road.

So, the gun sounded and I began the slow procession to the starting line. As soon as I hit the starting line, I fired up my portable CD player and took off. I didn’t have a solid goal in mind. I was thinking perhaps 8 minute miles. My main objective was to see what it was like running a race. I began weaving through these incredibly slow runners. They were actually more like run-walkers. I don’t recall my split times. I do recall my foot really hurting for the first four miles. After that, it seemingly went away. I seemed to be running pretty well by the time I reached mile 4 or 5. I had finally trudged through the slower runners and was feeling okay. I was approaching mile 8 or so and really had to go to the bathroom. I figured there had to be some port-a-johns pretty close by. I was not that lucky though. I had made it to mile 9 and then mile 10 and still hadn’t come across a toilet. For those two miles, I was contemplating the pros and cons of waiting until I found the next port-a-john or pissing my pants. My shorts were completely soaked with sweat at this point, so I am sure it would have blended in quite well. I was unsure about the physical action of pissing and running at the same time. I saw a small bunch of bushes off of the right side of the course and headed for them as fast as I could. I made it to the bushes, relieved myself and made my way back to the course. I felt like the bathroom break had really slowed me down, so I picked up the pace the remainder of the race. I pushed it pretty hard right through the finish line. My time was 1:45:29, good for an 8:03 pace. Pretty impressive for my first half marathon, I have learned in retrospect. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking too clearly, didn’t care about my time and was considering seeking some medical attention. I was dizzy, disoriented, wasn’t able to walk in a straight line and was as thirsty as I can ever remember being. I had someone cut off my timing chip and made my way towards some bottled water. I downed some water and tried to get my wits about me. I walked through the finishing corral and started to head towards my car. I began meandering the streets near the course looking for my car. I ended up walking for about thirty minutes around the Hyde Park area looking for my car and still couldn’t find it.

At that point, my feet were swollen and hurting, my nipples were raw and on the verge of bleeding and I still wasn’t thinking completely clear. At that point, I decided to call Tiffany to see if she could borrow Matt’s car and come down and help me find my car. In this conversation, I told her there was no way I could run 26.2 miles if I have no idea what’s going on after 13.1 I kept looking for the car while she made her way down. She finally found me. After a brief talk about what had happened, I hopped in shotgun and told her to make a left turn on the next street. And wouldn’t you know it, there was my car. It took all of about a minute. By this time, I was feeling well enough to drive and hopped in my car and headed home wondering what the hell had I gotten myself into by deciding to run a marathon.

Here are a few pictures I scanned from the company that takes pictures of runners out on the course. I apologize for the lack of quality, but they are still pretty funny.

Notice the sweet Brewers headband, the cotton tee shirt and the general look of pain and desperation in the second picture, which was taken later in the race.

Friday's Run

Well, today was not a good day running for me. I was supposed to do 4x1600 repeats at 6:34 with 800 meter jogs in between. I felt fine when I left and ran about three warm up miles before I started the repeats. I wanted to run a total of 10 miles, so the plan was to sandwich the repeats around some nice, easy paced running.

As I hit the track, it was a struggle to hit the 1:38 mark for each lap. I came pretty close and hit the first mile in 6:37. As I started my 800 meter jog, my thighs were in bad shape. You may recall they were quite sore earlier in the week. I though, okay, I''ll jog it off and hit this next 1600 and keep it going. No such luck, my friends. I finished my 800m jog and started my second 1600. I had no juice in my legs and I'd get a pretty unpleasant feeling in my thighs with every foot-ground impact. I decided to pull back after one lap and just get the miles in rather than doing something really stupid and getting hurt.

I am no doctor, but I don't think the muscles in my thighs have made enough of a recovery from earlier in the week following the 10K. I am hoping they will be fine for Sunday's 18 Miler.
That was a great argument for not running with an Ipod following the previous post, Matt. That's probably the most intelligent reasoning for not wanting to run with an Ipod that I've ever heard. I certainly respect your opinion. I also appreciate that fact that it doesn't bother you if someone wants to run with an MP3 player. I don't fault anyone for not wating to wear one, I just think each runner should what he/she feels works for them.

I do listen to music at a much lower volume in the Chicago Marathon than I do in training. I love the crowd and like to hear people cheering on all of the runners. The people of Chicago who come out and support the runners are awesome. I do like to crank it up a little bit in the less crowded stretches of the course when it's you and only you. And a few hundred others runners, of course. And at the end of the race, I love to play the songs that get me fired up, for a little extra boost. Thre are a few marathons where I have posted an awesome last couple miles or kilometers that I attribute to a few things: the music, intestinal fortitude, and visualizing that last stretch of the course in my head for the previous few months.
It's not quite Pavlovian where that song comes on and all of a sudden I start running a minute faster per mile, but I think anything that reinforces positive energy and feelings is a bonus.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Music and Running

I am huge fan of listening to music while I run. It started back in '04 with a CD player and later that year became an Ipod. There are some running traditionalists that frown upon the use of MP3 players and such while running. To them, I say put on your short shorts and mind your own business. If listening to music makes running more enjoyable for some, who gives a crap? I would personally find running 40-50 miles a week without music rather mind-numbing. The only time I haven't run with my Ipod this training season are when I have done my Yasso's. If you prefer to run without music, feel free. Some people find it distracting. I think it should be up to each individual what he or she wants to do. I find it helpful. Some marathons are now not allowing them to be worn in the race. They cite communication issues among other things. I obviously disagree with the stance taken by some of these marathons.

On a side note, I have just about finished writing the long-awaited story of last few weeks of the 2004 Marathon training. I had to dig deep into the memory banks to pull out this wonderful tale.

Anyway, my point is that one song that has become somewhat of a staple on most of my marathon playlists is now featured in a commercial by Nike. The song is "All These Things That I've Done" by the Killers. This song carried me home during the last mile of the 2005 Las Vegas Marathon as I was passing people. You can go to to see each individual person on the video and get a brief description of why Nike feels they have displayed courage. Some are a little more inspiring than others, but is pretty awesome nonetheless. Take a look:

The mustachioed man at the 26 second mark is Steve Prefontaine. I am not a huge Lance Armstrong guy, but the shots of him in the hospital (at 34-36 second mark) receiving treatment for cancer followed by the shot of him peddling his ass off and winning the Tour de France is remarkable if nothing else.
I pounded out my 11 miler this morning. I came in right at 8:00/mile. It felt pretty good. My legs are still sore, but I feel good about posting back-to-back 8:00's after the 10K on Sunday. The reality is that I need to be able to put up 8 minute miles in my sleep to run the kind of marathon I am hoping to run in several weeks. Those 8 minute miles basically have to be the worst mile I put on the board that day. An 8 minute mile over 26.2 miles gets you to the finish line in 3:30. I need to beat that. A 7:50 pace gets you home in 3:25:14. A 7:40 pace will net you a 3:20:52. I am not sure exactly what I will be shooting for on October 12th just yet, but I will need to running consistent sub-8's for sure.

One site I frequent is On this site, you can find plenty of useful training tools. The page I linked to is the running calculator. It's not an exact science, but it does allow you to enter in a time for a recent race that you ran. It will essentially extrapolate your time across different distances while also including a multiplier in to factor in the added distance and fatigue. Based on my 10K time, McMillan suggests my current fitness level to be a 3:26:01 marathon. I think a 10K is a little short to judge one's performance for a marathon, but it looks like I am at least headed in the right direction. I will be very interested to see what time I can post at the half marathon and what McMillan says about my equivalent marathon time based off of that. In 2006, I posted a 1:39:56 in the half. McMillan said that should have translated into a 3:30:46 marathon. My time marathon time in 2006 was 3:30:57. So McMillan was within 11 seconds. Pretty amazing. Again, it's not the gospel, but it's pretty interesting.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Just thought I'd drop in with a quick update on the aftermath of the 10K on Sunday. I had my first run today since the race. My legs were very sore yesterday and today, particularly my thighs. Not my quads so much, but the surrounding muscles. I thought I was supposed to run 10 miles today and 11 tomorrow. Well, it was supposed to be the other way around, but it's no big deal. I ran 10 this morning and will do 11 on Wednesday.

I came in at a 7:59 pace over the 10 miles. I was very surprised. I figured I'd be lucky to hit the 8:15 goal and it would be a struggle. It felt pretty good despite the heavy legs. I think the cooler weather probably helped. Tomorrow should be pretty interesting as I have 11 miles coming on the heels of today's 10 miler with sore legs. Sounds like fun.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

You'll Have Nothing and Like It

Week 9 is in the books, friends. It wasn't a banner finish to the week, but it is over and I'm feeling okay.

I decided to take Thursday off and not make up the extra four miles I skipped on Wednesday. I figured a day of rest would do me better than four miles and four days of running in a row.

I did run a bit extra on Friday to get the legs loosened up. I went somewhere between 11 and 11.5 miles. I ran miles 2 and 4 at a 7:20 pace but decided to take it easy the rest of the way. After my run I re-caulked my bathroom tub. Exciting, I know. Why I am I mentioning it, you ask? Well, I woke up on Saturday morning and my right hamstring was tight. I don't think it was from my run because I wasn't really pushing it too hard. I am thinking it was from the tub, but I really have no idea. I was hoping it was just a little soreness and it would go away.

I woke up on in the middle of the night on Saturday night and I could still feel it. When I got out of bed at 5:45 to get up the 10K this morning, I was still feeling it. It wasn't awful, but it was definitely there.

I got to the course and did some stretching and ran for a couple minutes to try to loosen it up. It seemed to help a little bit, but I was still feeling it at the starting line. Now heading in, I had mentioned I was looking to crack a 7:00 pace per mile. I had actually come up with a 6:51 for the goal. Matt
Rauls, fellow 2008 Chicago Marathon participant and veteran triathlete, suggested my Yasso times and medium length runs paces indicated I could hit a 6:30 pace. I appreciate the comment and the kind thoughts. I don't think your ideas are too far off, Matt. However, today didn't turn out to be the day to test it.

I decided to give it a shot early on and see how I could come out. I felt okay in the first mile and thought I found a few guys running in the 6:30-6:45 range. I hit the first mile marker at a little too fast. I hit the marker at 6:20. I was feeling pretty good and my hammy was doing okay at this point. I wanted to back it down a bit to the 6:40-6:45 range for mile two. I was pretty successful with that and hit the two mile mark right at 13:00. As I got started on mile three, I was aiming for somewhere in the 6:45 range. I was still having a hard time getting in a good
rhythm though.

Somewhere in between the second and third mile marker, I started to get a wicked cramp in my right side that kind of wrapped around to my back. I hit mile three at 20:30, meaning I just ran a slow 7:30 mile and my overall pace was up to a 6:50. I knew I was in a bit of trouble at that point because the cramp seemed to be getting worse with my pace. I knew 6:30 was an afterthought and a 6:51 was going to be tough. I hit mile four at 28:00 even, meaning I ran another 7:30 and my overall pace was now 7:00 even with 2.2 miles to go. So, the cramp was still there, although more bearable than it was the previous two miles. I should also add that the cramp in my side made me completely forget about my tight hamstring.

I hit mile 5 at 35:20. That was good for a 7:20 mile, but my overall pace had dropped to a 7:04. My
original plan was to turn it on at the five mile mark and try to put up a 7:45-8:00 for the last 1.2 miles. Unfortunately I didn't have it in me. I decided to wait another quarter to half mile to leave whatever I had left on the course. I also like to pick people to pass in the home stretch and finish strong. I started to pick up the pace with slightly more than a half mile to go and passed the guy who was in front of me. At that point, I didn't see anyone else in front of me and almost felt like I had made a wrong turn somewhere. I came out of a turn and saw some people a good 100 yards in front of me. I was pushing as best as I could and hit the final turn before the 200 meter (just a guess) final straightaway. Two guys were right behind me. I surged ahead of them, and looked over my right shoulder with about 50 yards left. I saw the two guys pretty far behind me and realized that I was going to be able to come in under 44 minutes. Out of nowhere, a different guy goes streaking by the left side of me and passes me with about 25 yards to go. Nice. Nothing like a punch to the groin as you're finishing up a slightly disappointing race. I finished at 43:54, a 7:04 pace. I ran the last 1.2 miles at a 7:04 pace.

I finished 5th in my age group. 4th place would have netted me a 3rd place medal because the overall winner (34:58) was in my age group. I ended up 23rd overall out of about 313 finishers. My hamstring is still a little tight and I am anxious to see how it feels in the morning.


The week ahead:

Tuesday: 11 miles @ 8:15

Wednesday: 10 miles @ 8:15

Friday: 10 miles, 4x1600 @ 6:34 w/800m jogs in between

Sunday: 18 miles @ 8:15, last 5-7 sub 8:00. I may even slow down the first 10-12 miles to an 8:30 and crank up the last 7 or so.

Total: 49 Miles

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bobby Knight Says Have a Good Wednesdey Night

Bob Knight really has nothing to do with this, but you can't help but notice his pronunciation whenever he says a day of the week. The "a" in day magically becomes an "e" and Monday becomes Mondey. Next time you get a chance, listen to Bob say the days of the week. Who knows when that will be, but make a mental note of it. Maybe commenter Yasso or one of the anonymous commenters can dig up some good youtube of Bob Knight. Here's the best I can do. Check out "Wednesdey Night" around the 49 second mark. Go Mizzou, by the way.

This week is shaping up to be a bit different than planned. I ran the 7 mile run on Tuesday at an 8:17 pace on a goal of 8:20. This morning, I ran half of the 8 mile run. I will run the other half (4 miles) on Thursday. Then , on Friday I will run 10 miles with 8 of them in the 7:10-7:20 range. So it will be four days in a row, but the reduced mileage this week should make it manageable. Then we'll complete the week with the 10K on Sunday.

I am feeling a bit fatigued this week. I seem to be a little more tired than I have been and my legs don't have much spring to them. One factor is that I had four weeks in a row of increasing mileage. The last four weeks (in miles) looked like this: 39-42-45-47. In most plans, runners have three weeks of increased mileage and then reduce miles in week 4. I have followed that theory in most every training session. So, I think the four week increase probably has something to do with the fatigue. Throw in the 20 miler on Sunday and the Yasso's on Friday night and you could probably come to the conclusion that it makes sense to be a little tired right now.

I'll run an easy 4 on Thursday and make the call on Friday on how many hard miles I want to do. I will be running all out at the 10K on Sunday. My previous Windrunner 10Ks were 44:41 (7:12/mi pace) in 2005 and 44:26 (7:09/mi pace) in 2006. I'd like to crack the 7:00 mark this year, which would be a 43:30. In '06, I came down with a wicked cramp or side stitch at about mile 4. I struggled through the last 2.2 miles or so and was still able to beat my time from the previous year. I am looking forward to getting back out there this year and beating the 7:00/mile pace.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Halfway Home

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I'll try to catch up this week. I have a a few idea that I may trot this week as well. Just a couple things to break up some of the "I ran this fast this week" kind of pattern I have fallen into.

Most importantly, today was the completion of the first half of marathon training. That's right, eight weeks down, eight to go. The next five weeks are the last push before the three week tapering up until the marathon. As I mentioned before, I have a few races coming up pretty soon. This coming Sunday, I am running the Windrunner 10K in the western 'burbs.

How about some results from the week?
Wednesday: 9 Miles @ 8:04 (goal of 8:25)
Friday: Yasso 800s (goal of 3:20)
#1- 3:14
#2- 3:14
#3- 3:13
#4- 3:13
#5- 3:15
#6- 3:13
#7- 3:12
#8- 3:15
#9- 3:14
#10- 2:56
Average: 3:12

Sunday: 20 miles @ 8:24 (goal of 8:20)

Wednesday's run went pretty well, especially considering it was the second of two back-to-back nine milers.
Friday night's Yasso's went very well. They went much better than last time. The goal was a 3:20, but I came in with a 3:12. It seemed to be a little easier than the first time and it seemed like the right speed for me to run.
Sunday's 20 Miler was not the best run I have had lately. I had an abnormal 20 mile course and had a crowded lake path to deal with because of the air and water show. I also didn't get as much sleep as I probably should have which also resulted in me getting out later than I would have preferred. So, all thing considered, an 8:24 is fine. Because my course was not my usual 20 mile route, I didn't really know exactly where my miler markers were. This also led me to not being able to accurately run the last five miles hard. I kind of lost track of where I was supposed to be when, so I just tried to come in around 8:20 to 8:25.
The week ahead is a reduced mileage week.
Tuesday: 8 Miles @ 8:20
Wednesday: 7 Miles @ 8:20
Friday: 10 Miles, 8 @ 7:15
Sunday: Windrunner 10K - I will talk about my goal for this race later in the week. I also my swap the Wednesday and Friday run so I can be fully rested for the 10K on Sunday.

Have a good week!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Did I Catch a Niner in There?

Good news. The great weather over the weekend has carried over well into this week. The extended forecast looks like a little rain mixed in with high temps right around 80.

It was about 65 this morning when I went out for another nine miler. The goal was still an 8:25, but I came in at an 8:00. It felt pretty good and the cooler weather really makes a big difference. Let's hope this cooling trend continues all the way to October. I'd love an overcast 50 degree day on October 12th.

I have another nine miler to run tomorrow morning. On Friday, Yasso and his 800s enter the picture once again. I think I'll be doing them in the early evening so I can have Tiffany keep track of my times and provide support. She's the best.
People have started asking me what my goal time for the marathon is going to be this year. It's kind of hard to say right now. Some people say you should have three goals when you enter a marathon. The first is to finish. The second is a reachable goal if you feel decent. The third goal is if everything breaks right and you have that day where you feel great.

I usually skip the second goal. Barring a major disaster or injury, I will finish the marathon. So, I am training to beat my previous best time of 3 hours and 30 minutes. To run a 3:30, you have to average 8 minute miles over the 26.2 mile course. Not to state the obvious, but I'll need to average sub-8s to beat 3:30. I'd be pleased with anything under 3:30. I will later determine what my goal will be. Right now, I am thinking a 3:25 may be within reach. That would be a 7:50 pace, which honestly looks pretty scary to me. I'll have a pretty good idea of how aggressive I will get with the goal after running the Windrunner 10K on August 24th and the Chicago Half Marathon on September 14th. I'll obviously keep you posted.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Solid Running Weekend

For those of you in the Chicago area, you know this weekend's weather was great. For those of you not in Chicago, this weekend's weather was about as good as it gets in early August. We had high temps in the upper 70's and lower 80's. It's not quite perfect running weather, but it beats the heck out of the 90's.
Friday's run was scheduled to be a 9 miler with the middle 7 at a 7:17 pace. I struggled through my first mile, which basically is the warm-up mile. Sometimes that first mile is really hit and miss. It can feel good and your run could turn out to be bad or mediocre. Or it can feel bad and your run could turn out to be good. I guess it's kind of like the stories you hear about starting pitchers warming up in the bullpen before the game starts. Once I hit mile number 2, I picked up the pace. My right knee was a little achy, but I decided to give these tough 7 miles whatever I could muster. If I only made it 5 or 6 miles at the hard pace, it'd be better than nothing. I started to feel pretty good by mile 3. I made it through miles 4, 5 and 6 feeling strong, while still running a few seconds under my pace. At that point, I only had two hard miles left and picked up the pace even more because I was feeling really good. I ended up completing the 7 mile stretch @ a 7:01 pace. It was probably my best run of training yet.
Sunday's run was scheduled to be a 17 miler. Because I had the pleasure of having my first guest runner accompany me for about 10.5 miles in the middle of the run, I upped it to a round 18 miles. My friend and fellow marathoner Rich Cancellare met me on the lakepath at Wilson Ave. this morning. Rich has run several marathons including Chicago (a few times), Houston, Tulsa and the Paris (yes, Paris, France). He is not running the Chicago marathon this fall, but will be running another one in Texas in several months. Rich and I run at a pretty similar pace, so it makes for a good run whenever we can get out togther, which is not very often. We started out with a goal of an 8:20 for our 10 miles together. We ran the first two miles too hard. According to Rich's Garmin, we were somewhere around an 8:00 pace. I think we slightly backed it down and hit our turnaround point. We actually ended up running about 5.25 miles before we turned around. As we turned around at Chicago Ave on the lakepath, we both felt the force of a 20+ mph wind blowing directly at us. As it turned out, we had a strong tailwind the first half that we really didn't notice. I read a while back that running into the wind can add 8-11% to your time, while running with it only increases your speed by 2-4%. I don't know how accurate that really is, nor do I remember where I read it, but I think it's pretty believable. Anyway, we completed the second half slower than the first and came in around an 8:18. I ran the first 3.75 miles at an 8:00 pace, so I was looking pretty good heading into the homestretch. I backed it down a little in preparations for my strong three mile finish I had planned. I was trying to run the last three miles under 24 minutes. I hit the 16 mile mark in 7:45, then the 17 mile mark at 16:00. So I was right on pace for a 24 minute last three miles. I put everything I had into the last mile and brought it home at 23:04, good for a 7:41 pace over the last three miles and a 7:04 the last mile. I know the numbers are starting to get a little much at this point, so I'll wrap it up. Total pace for the 18 miles was an 8:10. I am very happy with that and feel good about being able to finish strong.
The Week Ahead:
Tuesday 9 mi @ 8:25
Wednesday 9 mi @ 8:25
Friday: Yasso 800's with a 3:20 goal
Sunday: 20 mile run, number 2; goal pace of 8:20

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Two 9's

I don't have much time, but I wanted to fill you in on the Tuesday and Wednesday runs. They were both 9 milers to be run at an 8:25 pace. Most of my short runs from now until the last two weeks will be in the 8-12 mile range, with the longer runs still coming on the weekends. It can get tough, because the length of the runs means I have to be out for at least an hour every run. One way around that would be to add a fifth day of running, but I don't want to do that. I have done five day training weeks in the past. I would usually end up with one mediocre run because you're always running at least three days in a row in a five day a week running plan. Some people will tell you that you have to run 5 or 6 days a week to train for a marathon. I feel you have to find the right plan that you can tailor to your own individual strengths and weaknesses, as well as time constraints.

So the runs went well. I came in at a 8:03 on Tuesday and an 8:16 last night. Everything felt good, which is a huge plus coming off of the 20 miler on Sunday. It's not unusual to be sore for a few days after a 20 mile run.

We're looking at another 9 miles again on Friday, although the pace will be picked up for the middle 6 or 7 to a 7:17. That one is going to be tough. That's pretty close to my fastest 10K time. I should add that I have only run two 10Ks, so there's not exactly a huge pool to draw from. I am going to do the same 10K on August 24th.

I also signed up the the Chicago Half Marathon on September 14th. I like to get a half marathon in before the full marathon. It's a good practice run and can pretty much tell me where I am at in terms of physical and mental race shape. It also gets me some practice of running in a larger crowd, drinking and running at the same time and helps me pace a little more evenly.

Monday, August 4, 2008

20 Miles of Pleasure

That's right. 20 miles in the books on the first of the longest training runs. As I mentioned before, the 20 milers are pretty brutal. It's kind of like running a marathon without the adrenaline, the support, the other runners around, the water and Gatorade every couple I guess it's like a marathon without the perks - if there is such a thing.

I came in at 2:49:46 or an 8:29 pace. That's only a few seconds off of the goal pace of 8:25. I got out early enough to at least minimize the heat. It was still a little warm, but there was a breeze from time to time. One tough part of the long run along the lakefront is the stretch that goes from Fullerton south. There's little or no shade during the stretch until you get down near Navy Pier. All-in-all, it was a pretty successful 20 miler and I am happy to get the first one over with.

Buster Poindexter? Actually, Hot Hot Heat was a reference to the band of the same name, not Buster's wonderful 80's hit. Here's a video of theirs:

Not the greatest band or song ever. The video isn't bad though.
Here's this week's schedule:
Tuesday : 9 Miles @ 8:25
Wednesday : 9 Miles @ 8:25
Friday: 9 Miles w/7 mi @ 7:17
Sunday: 17 Miles @ 8:25 with a Fast Finish - Fast Finish is running the last 3-5 miles @ an 8:00 pace

Friday, August 1, 2008

Hot Hot Heat

I think I am done running in the heat. I ran today right around noon and it was miserable. If the forecast calls for anything around 90 degrees, I am getting up early in the morning to run. It's just not worth running when it's this hot. Your energy level is just sapped after a short amount of time.

I ran today's nine-miler under the goal pace of 8:25. I came in at an 8:15, but it was a struggle. All things considered, I'll take it though. 85 degrees and coming in under goal is something to be happy about.

Wednesday's run also was actually much worse than today's. I was supposed to run 7 miles with three of them at a 6:38 pace. I only made it 2 miles of the 3 at the 6:38 pace. I just didn't have the energy or stamina that day. I know I said it much earlier on, but there are some day when you just don't have it. I feel pretty good about the fact that they are only coming every three weeks or so.

I am seriously considering changing my hard run day from Wednesday to Friday. I have had a few instances during this training period where I get fatigued on the back-to-back runs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I am not really sure how much the heat has to do with it, but I am not really sure I want to find out if that's the reason. The Wednesday hard runs are designed to push my body and further prepare myself to run faster for a longer amount of time. In theory, the more times I do it and more miles I can add on, the easier it should become. I want to be able to give the hard runs 100%, so it may be best to swap them with the Friday run.
So, I have a big 20 miler on tap for Sunday morning. I am going to try to get up and get the run in before it gets really hot. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.