Thursday, December 24, 2009

An Update on Running and this Blog

Well, it certainly has been a while. Hopefully you haven't come here a million times over the last two and a half months only to find the same post about the 2009 Chicago Marathon. I give you my apologies if that has been the case. I truly appreciate everyone that chooses to visit my blog. Here's an update on some things that have been going through my head and my legs since October.


I have taken it pretty easy since Chicago. I have done basically zero speed work besides the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot at the end of November. I ran it in 18:42, a new PR. I ran it pretty terribly, went out too fast and struggled the last half of the race. Oh well. It's only my second 5K. I'd like to work on that time in 2010, but we'll save that for another post.

I did manage to hit 2,000 miles for the year this past week. That was the last of my goals for 2009. I don't know the exact number of miles I ran in 2008, but I'd guess it was in the 1000-1100 range. I'll have some goals for 2010 in the very near future.

This Blog and the Future of Running for Cru

Running for Cru was hatched in late June of 2008. If you want to read the story of how it came to be, click here.

Over the past year and half, the supporters of Running for Cru have raised over $42,000 for Families of SMA. It's still amazing every time I think about it. I really can't thank all of you enough, whether you contributed, visited the blog or spread the word about SMA.

FSMA is a great organization and is making strides towards finding a cure. Please visit their site to find out the latest information on their research. The goal of this blog and of the fundraising was to help FSMA find a cure so that other families would be spared what the Fanaro's have gone through when they found out Cru had SMA and eventually lost him to it.

Here's the tough part and I hope it comes out sounding like I want it to: I really think we could do more. I really do. I mean, $42,000 is a ton of money. But we basically raised it through this blog, word of mouth and sending out emails to our friends, families and acquaintances. It's incredible that we have had that type of success with our grassroots-type effort in a weak economy over the last 18 months or so.

In the airing of the marathon every year, they highlight several human interest stories and even do it on the local television news in the weeks leading up to the race. I DVRed the 2008 Chicago Marathon and watched it later that day. There were so many heart-warming stories. The whole time, I was thinking to myself (and out loud to Tiffany) that should be me and they should be telling the audience about Running for Cru and SMA.

I contacted FSMA again early in my 2009 marathon training cycle and let them know I was going to run for Cru again. They were excited and why wouldn't they be? It's not everyday a guy randomly contacts you and proceeds to raise over $33,000 for their organization. I told them I didn't expect to be able to raise as much in year two, but that every dollar counted. I also offered to go on local news or do anything to help spread the word about SMA and FSMA. Of everyone I know, I'd say 99% of them hadn't heard of SMA prior to hearing Cru's story. I'd say ignorance is a pretty large part of the battle. If people don't know about it, how can they help?

Anyway, it's pretty normal to see local groups and charities on the news spreading their message. There's no reason FSMA couldn't be featured on the news. Needless to say, there was never any appearances on the news. I am not sure if FSMA tried, but I never heard anything from them after the initial couple emails that started the 2009 fundraising campaign. And every weekend, I'd see random groups talking about the fundraisers and charities, including a bunch of dudes growing mustaches to raise awareness for prostate cancer.

And those are the main reasons I think we can do more. Barely anyone knows about this disease. Seeing the pictures of these kids stricken by this disease is heart breaking. And they always have these huge smiles, while their body is being attacked and killed by this disease. They'll never know which Christmas will be there last or sometimes if they'll even make it to their first. Many may never play catch with their dad or even ride a bike.

And I then think of all the people who know someone who have or had cancer. It's crazy. Just today a running acquaintance of mine lost his step-mother to brain cancer. And my friend Ron who ran 40 miles on his 40th birthday in memory of his cousin who died from cancer. My dad is currently battling prostate cancer. Everyone knows someone who has had some type of cancer. How can you not want to help that effort? I make it a point to watch the Jimmy V speech every year. It still gives me goosebumps and a lump in my throat.

My point, in a roundabout way, is that I think deep down, people want to be inspired and be a part of something that does something good and helps others. I don't really know what the next step is for me from here, but I have several ideas. Among them are starting my own charity to fundraise and raise awareness about SMA. We'd have events, running teams and all sorts of good stuff. It's a lot of work to flesh out an idea of this magnitude, so I will most likely be focusing my Cru and SMA efforts towards that. I honestly don't have a ton of knowledge about starting something like this, so if there's anyone out there that does or knows someone that does, please send 'em my way. I really hope doing something like this is possible. So, Running for Cru as it currently exists, well, will no longer exist in this format. I am not sure when or how the next Running for Cru will make it's debut, but I will be sure to let you know about it.

In the meantime, I'll start training for the 2010 Boston Marathon early in January. I'm entertaining the idea of starting another blog (why not, right?) that would be pretty similar to this one when training is going on, along with any additional thoughts that may pop in my head that I wouldn't feel bad about sharing. I'll be sure to give the details about that on here so you can follow my Boston training efforts as well as any new information about how Running for Cru will proceed.

Thanks for reading, have a Merry Christmas and I'll be talking to all of you soon. Best wishes to all of you and yours in 2010.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The 2009 Chicago Marathon

Let's start off this Race Report by saying that it's not often you feel like you just ran the race of a lifetime. That's where I am at and if that influences the rest of this post, this is your warning. You are certainly entitled to skip the background portion gibberish and get to the race details. But I do think it's the background that made this race possible.

I think the story of my 2009 Chicago Marathon started when the 2008 Chicago Marathon ended. That was my 7th marathon and I posted a then PR of 3:29:58 after what was then my toughest training cycle to that point. Sure, the heat cost me a few minutes, but I'd only improved one minute from my 2006 time. I had a conversation after the marathon with my friend Ron who posted a 3:40 that day. I'd met him on the Runners World 3:20 thread, which has become my on-line home since September of last year. He said, let's meet in Boston in 2010. I said sure, thinking that there's no way in hell I could shave 19 minutes off of my time and left it at that.

After the marathon, I decided I was going to try something a little different. Instead of running a day or two or three times a week when I had a few free minutes, I was going to consistently keep running 3-4 days and keep my mileage in the 25-30 miles/week range throughout the winter. I do not train on treadmills (although that could potentially have to change), so I'd get out in the Chicago winter and run. Didn't care about pace, just ran to run.

I ran a Turkey Trot 10K in November where I put a 41:48, shaving 2+ minutes off my PR set a couple months prior. It was at that point where started thinking I could really make some huge improvements if I actually trained the right way. I thought I wasn't cut out to run 5-6 days a week, so I'd always run 4 days a week. I also never had any recovery runs. Every non-tempo or interval run up until 2009 was always in the neighborhood of an 8 minute mile. In a nutshell, I was doing a lot of things wrong and not running enough. I was a marathon hack and never really trained for it the right way. I asked for and received a Garmin 305 and a copy of Advanced Marathoning (2nd Edition) for Christmas.

I stayed in the 20's for December and took a week off at the end of January when Isla was born. At that point I came up with the plan to ramp the mileage back up to get me ready to go for training to start on June 8. I stayed in the 20's in February, the low 30s in March, the upper 30's to low 40's in April. I ran my first-ever 5K at the end of the month and put up a 19:09. I ran 177 miles in May, touched the 50's and got in an 18 miler.

With that, I started the Pfitz 18/70 plan on June 8th with an eye on a 3:10. I figured I might as well train my ass off and see if I can Boston Qualify. I figured if I went 1:30 or better in the half and 40 minutes or better in the 10K, I'd have a chance. I didn't think BQ-ing will get much easier in the years ahead as our family continues to grow and the time I can give to running potentially shrinks. Week one had me running 55 miles, which was ironic, considering I had peaked at 54 my previous cycle. I wasn't too concerned about the miles because of the recovery runs. I ran my recovery runs as slow as I could 9-9:30s, although they got a little faster near then end of the cycle. I ran my marathon paced miles between 7:10 and 7:15 throughout training.

I told myself that if at any point I needed to back off of the plan, I would. It turned out I never had to. I followed the plan pretty closely. I'd usually hit the miles, but usually ended up juggling the days around quite a bit. The only times I didn't hit the total weekly miles were when I didn't have enough time to get in enough additional miles after the 10K (39:07) 6 weeks out and the half (1:28:25) four weeks out. I also didn't run a 10K two weeks out.

As I mentioned, the two races were important for me to see if I actually was on the right track. If I wasn't, I wouldn't stupidly go for a 3:10. I managed to shave over 2 and half minutes off of my 10K PR and over 10 minutes off of my Half PR, which was set in September of 2008. Both showed me I was ready and it was full steam ahead for the 3:10 on October 11th.

Other Changes
I made tremendous gains in my HR, as my last 13 miler one week before the marathon came in 15-20 beats lower than a few similar paced and distanced runs earlier in the cycle and in the month before training started. I felt like I was as ready I as I could get. Also, I weighed 178 pounds on June 1st before training started. I stepped on the scale the Wednesday of marathon week and it read 161. So I basically averaged losing a pound a week throughout the cycle. And a couple weeks ago, the top number of my blood pressure went below 120 for the first time that I can ever recall.

Marathon Week
I also took the week before the marathon off of work. I used it to catch up on sleep and spend some quality time with my family - not in that order, of course. I think this helped tremendously as the 6 hour nights of sleep, the alarm going off at 4:45 and 5 A.M., the middle of the night work calls and the miles over the previous 17 weeks did finally wear me down a bit. I got 8 hours of sleep during the week Sunday-Friday except on the dress rehearsal Wednesday morning.

I ate pasta on both Friday and Saturday night and followed the Australian glycogen loading technique the day before the marathon. Instead of mixing in some strides, I went with the three minute burst and pounded a giant plain white bagel and some gatorade as soon as I walked in the door.

Marathon Day
I got 3 hours of solid sleep before I woke up at 2:30. I laid in bed and tried to get back to sleep but it wasn't happening. I finally got out of bed at 4, showered, bodyglided up and got dressed - armwarmers included. I ate what has become my breakfast staple - two pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter and followed it up with a banana and some Gatorade. Tiffany snapped a few photos and I bundled up and took the train on down to the starting area. She wished me luck and told me I could do it. I told her I knew I could do it to. And for the first time in my running career, I really believed it. She did tell me that she knew I could run a 3:10, but wasn't so sure about the 3:07:25. I was pretty much with her, but felt confident the 3:10 was going down.

It was 30 degrees when I left my house. I ended up getting down there just after 6, so I had an hour and a half until the horn sounded. I wandered around, used the facilities and sucked down a couple Gatorades. I made my way in the B Corral by 6:45 or so. I met up with a few pals from Runner's World On Line - Chad, Walter, Jay, Carl and Kevin. There were six of us shooting for a 3:07-3:10 (Chad, Kevin, Carl and two of Carl's buds and me) that would be pacing pretty similarly. They were in the A Corral, so I kind of felt like the little brother staying up past his bed time hanging out with the older kids. We shot the breeze for a bit and we all started throwing off our excess layers about 10 minutes before the horn sounded. I ate three lemon lime Clif Blocks at about 7:20.

At about 7:25 they removed the gates and we moved on up. Chad and I had planned to run the first 2 miles at 7:15, miles 3-20 at 7:10 and hopefully hit 7:05's from 20-26.2. This would get us to the finish line in 3:07:25. I figured that was my best case scenario and wore that on one pace band. The other pace band was called the "If the Shit Hits the Fan Band" - straight 7:15's to get me a 3:10 and the BQ.

The horn sounded and we were off. It took about 45 seconds to hit the start line. The four other 3:10 or better hopefuls took off into the crowd in front of us.

Miles 1 and 2- 7:28, 7:05
Okay not exactly how we drew up the 14:30 through 2 miles, but effective.

Miles 3, 4 and 5- 7:01, 6:46, 7:09
What? 6:46? We were trying to dial it in, but the fired up crowd and seeing my support crew for the first time caused Chad and me to run the fastest mile of the day. We decided to make a conscious effort to back it down for mile 5 , so we actually backed it down - to our goal pace. Hmmm...Chad mentioned something about if we qualify for Boston and then quickly back-peddled and said WHEN we qualify for Boston. I told him that sounded much better.

Miles 6, 7, 8 - 7:02, 7:16, 7:01
Yo-yo-ing again on 6 and 7. A little too fast, then a little too slow. Mile 8 brought a 7:01 and at that point Chad turned to me and said, "At what point do you just accept it (the pace)? " I said, "Mile 20." I took a blueberry-pomegranate caffeinated Gu Roctane at 8. Somewhere between 6 and 7 I started feeling a little weirdness in my ankles. Never felt it before, so I tried to just ignore it. It went away after a few miles and it never popped up again.

Miles 9, 10, 11, 12- 7:04, 7:02, 6:56, 7:03
Okay, so we're hanging right around a 7 minute pace. I am feeling good, breathing is perfect and everything is cool. I know, I should have more to say but at this point, it was just a 12 mile run at a pretty good pace. That's exactly where my head was at. I wasn't thinking about mile 16, 20 or 26. Everything felt fine and Chad said he was feeling good, so we just went with it. We also passed the Zab support crew for the second time at Mile 11.5. We were a little ahead of pace so for the first time ever, we snuck up on them.

Mile 13 and the Half - 7:07, 1:32:52
Okay, I have to admit I was temporarily a little nervous about seeing a 1:32:XX at the half. I had thought the fastest I wanted to hit the half was 1:33:30 and 3:07:25 plan was a 1:34:03 at the Half. So we were about 1:10 ahead of our 3:07:25 best case pace. I decided to let it go and did think of everyone tracking me at that point. I am sure there were a couple "What the hell is he doing's?" We had a pretty good laugh thinking about everyone saying we were running too fast. I clearly stated my plan in a few places and I was not following it. Even more interesting is that we still hadn't caught up to the other four guys.

Miles 14, 15, 16- 7:01, 7:03, 7:05
Nothing too crazy here, just averaging 7:03's for the first three miles of the second half. Gulp. We actually caught the other four guys in mile 15 and ran with them for a few miles. Carl commented that we looked great and fresh, which is always great to hear in the second half of a marathon. I remembering laughing a few times about random things with those guys. I think the first thing I said to them after exchanging hellos was asking how their nipples were doing. They all chuckled a bit and I think it was good for them. They seemed pretty focused and in need of a mood lightener. I took a non-caffeinated strawberry-banana Gu at 15. We hung with them for a few miles. I am not sure when we pulled away but I know it wasn't before 17. I felt a little niggle in my right hamstring here and there in this stretch, but it wasn't anything to get worked up about.

Miles 17, 18 - 7:04, 7:06
Those guys were right around 7:05's the whole time, so I am pretty sure we were with them through 18. I had a few good conversations with Kevin and Carl in there, which was nice. Sometime right around 17 , one of Carl's friend's inexplicably stopped and bent over. In the middle of the street. At mile 17. Of a fricking marathon. Chad basically had to hurdle him to get over him and put his two hands on this guy's back and leap-frogged him. After things calmed down in the next quarter mile or so, it comes to light that the guy saw a 20 dollar bill and stopped to pick it up. No bullshitting. He stopped to pick up a 20 and almost took a guy out. Chad told me in the next few miles that if the guy would have taken him out he would have punched him in the face. I started laughing pretty hard, which may not be completely advisable at mile 20 of a marathon when you are putting paces of:

Miles 19, 20 - 6:57, 6:58
Weird. Didn't feel much faster. But two sub 7's? Interesting. People talk about mile 20 signifying the beginning of last part of the race and I was feeling good, with the exception of an odd feeling behind my right knee. It felt like a ligament (purely a guess, could have been a tendon or muscle) was rubbing against something it shouldn't be. It went away by 21ish.

Miles 21, 22, 23 - 7:01, 7:00, 7:05
Took my last gel, an orange-vanilla Roctane GU w/caffeine at 21. This is when I briefly first started thinking about beating the 3:10 (and 3:07 for that matter), but quickly re-focused to that mile. Started feeling it in my legs just a touch at 22. Nothing too bad. I saw the support crew at 21.5 or so and it was like a shot in the arm. I love seeing them. I loved seeing them even more on Sunday because I was feeling great and was well on my way to running the best race of my life. I had Tiffany make sure my brother Nick was ready with a hat and a Gu in case I needed to make a change or switched up my Gu strategy. I didn't need either one, so I waved it off, gave 'em a couple thumbs up, a smile and told them I was doing great. At 22, Chad told me he had to stay around 7:05-7:10. I asked if he was okay and he told me he was fine, he just need to back off a bit. We put up a 7:05 at 23 and the thoughts of just about a 5K remaining started entering my head. Chad told me to go ahead and go for it. At 23, there was a giant screen that was showing video of us as we ran by. He told me he'd hold up the number 3 and I should hold up 10, for the 3:10 we were attempting to run. I did and had a nice laugh as I saw us on the screen. Just past 23, I see a couple friends cheering us on - Kris and Maryann. I didn't expect to see them at all, so it was an awesome surprise. The 3:07:25 pace band pretty much became worthless in this stretch. It ended up being a "feel" race all day and the last 10K was no different.

Mile 24- 7:02
I left Chad at about 23.3 miles as we made the turn north up Michigan Avenue. This was the first time I could really feel the wind in my face. Crap. Not good. I saw another set of friends late in the 24th mile - Justin, Alicia and Adeline. It was awesome. Adeline just turned 2 and was bouncing on Justin's shoulders. Alicia is 36 months pregnant and was wearing her Running for Cru shirt. Another shot of adrenaline!
I did some quick math and though I finished really, really strong I could have a shot coming in right at 3:05.

Mile 25- 7:14
No, no, no, no! While a 7:14 for mile 25 is nothing to sneeze at, it didn't fit the plan anymore. Sure it was right in my marathon training pace, but it wasn't good for me on Sunday - that wasn't my pace anymore. The wind was getting in my head a bit. Remarkably, I only got passed by two people. They looked like they were out for a nice Sunday jog. I thought to myself, someday that'll be me. I told myself that if I didn't run this race so well to throw it away in the last couple of miles. I know a little drastic, but I had to do it. I thought of the people who were tracking me and all of them who were so surprised that I was running this race. I had to keep it up. I thought of a bunch of random comments I had stashed away over the past few months "He set an aggressive goal, just like you." "You should be able to put up a 3:15." "Why do people keep on trying to PR at Chicago?" I thought of Tiffany telling me I could do it before I left the house that morning. I also thought of my friend Matt Rauls who was the first runner to believe in me last year and told me I could be much faster. He left me a simple note on Facebook that was the last one I read before I left in the morning - "Go dominate." I also thought about Cru and all of the people who helped support my Running for Cru. I used all of these things and whatever else I could muster up to get me to the 26th mile marker as close to a 7:00 minute mile as possible.

Mile 26- 7:04
With about a half mile to go, I suddenly felt amazing. I was passing 1400 South, knowing that Roosevelt and the "hill" were right there. My feet felt light, my legs felt fine and the crowd was pumping me up. I took a great angle around the turn and saw people wasting steps. I made the right turn onto Roosevelt and headed up the hill. Everything started to hit me then. Holy shit. I was just over a quarter mile away from the finish line. This was it. This was what I worked so hard for. This is why I set the alarm for 4:45 and ran 15 mile mid-week runs. And peaked at 75 miles in a week. And it was finally there for the taking and I had this thing by the balls. Sure, I could have thought this several miles ago and was a little bit, but knowing where I was on the course and the five previous times I have struggled up that hill was a lot to take in. I powered up the hill and was passing people with ease. I got a little choked up as I crested the hill. My goals were coming into realization. I regained my composure to see the 26 mile marker and make the final turn onto Columbus. I took the turn really tight and stayed on the very inside part of the course, wasting as few steps as possible. I was just focusing on the finish line. I looked at my Garmin and saw I was not only going to qualify for Boston, but I was going to run a 3:05:something.

Mile 26.2- 1:26
As I was kicking down the home stretch, I felt like I was floating. I felt like I was the only runner on the course as I was giving it all I had to get to the finish line. Really, I took another great angle while everyone else split out pretty wide. I didn't see the other runners. I was about 50 yards from the line and I started doing some fist pumps and yelled "Yes!" a few times. How about some more with 25 yards to go? You bet. After I crossed the line, I stopped my Garmin, stopped running and was just smiling. No yells, no screams, no primal, "BOSTON!" I just couldn't believe it. I just ran a 3:05 marathon. Me. Paul Kapellas - a 3:05 marathoner? Did this really just happen? You are flippin' right it did. Wow! What an amazing feeling. Everyone who was tracking me and following had to shit themselves a little bit. A PR by 24 minutes? Holy Crap.

Post Race Thoughts
As I made my way through the finishing corral, I grabbed a beer and some pretzels, bagels and stuff. I made my way toward the meeting point with Tiffany, Isla and the rest of my supporters. Tiffany finally saw me and came sprinting towards me. She was already crying as she was approaching me and I couldn't help it but cry too. We qualified for Boston. For one day, I slayed the beast that is the marathon. She told me my official time came in via text at 3:05:18. We hugged for a minute and went over to meet everyone else. It was hugs and congratulations all around. I changed my clothes, we took some pictures, got back on the L and headed home for some pizza.

Numbers and such
Half Splits: 1:32:52/1:32:26.
5K Splits: 22:19/21:48/22:04/21:52/21:58/21:56/21:42/22:05
Finished 1069 overall, almost 1000 spots of where I did last year
Heart Rate by Mile:
First Half:166/169/167/171/163/163/159/165/165/166/167/169/171
Second Half: 170/171/171/175/178/178/181/182/184/184/188/188/191/195 for the last .2

Yep - on top of clearly underestimating my abilities, I ran a very solid race and negative split the thing. Unreal. I really don't encourage the racing by feel in a marathon, but everything just aligned for me on Sunday. I am big into numbers and planning, but it just felt right the whole time. I wasn't dead afterward, I just felt like I executed the race how it was supposed to be done, which was a very new feeling for me until this cycle was well underway. One of the toughest parts of the cycle was mentally letting go of the runner I used to be. I didn't have to fade at the end of races, I learned I could execute a plan in both the 10K and Half and I was actually becoming a pretty solid runner.

The marathon kind of felt workman-like. I felt like I had a job to do out there and I was just doing it. And don't think I didn't have fun either - I gave out some high fives, was waving my arms at times to get the crowd up and have never laughed as much during a marathon as I did this past Sunday. As far as fluids, I think I had my first Gatorade around mile 4, and grabbed one every 2-3 miles or so. If I had taken a Gu, I went with water instead. There were also a couple stops where I grabbed a water instead of Gatorade just to rinse my mouth out a bit.

Thank you's
First and foremost is my wife, Tiffany. I couldn't have done this without you. You and Isla are my inspiration. The moment of you running towards me and hugging me after it was over will be a moment I cherish and remember forever. Thank you for putting up with this habit of mine that started so innocently back in October of 2004. And it was so awesome to see Isla after the race. I know it wasn't the easiest thing toting around an 8 month old in 35 degree weather. Being able to hold my smiling daughter after the race is another moment I'll never forget.

My other supporters this past Sunday: Nick, Mike and Lynn, Aunt Barb, Blake, Libby, Joe, Melissa, Kris, Maryann, Justin, Alicia and Adeline. You guys are awesome and I can't thank you enough for coming out and cheering for me in 35 degree weather. Many of you have seen me run a few of these before. I hope it was as enjoyable for you as it was for me. An extra special thanks to Mike, my father-in-law, for holding up the "ZAB" sign. Again. For the 6th year in a row. Good thing you hung on to that thing after I told you to burn it after the 2007 Chicago Marathon and said I'd never run a marathon again. A few of the guys on the course I was not running with said they saw it. How cool is that?

My other supporters who chimed in with kind emails, phone calls and words of encouragement over the past 18 weeks. Gail, Jerry, Michael, Aunt Denet, Kim, the Wills and Johnsons...there are simply too many to list here. Please know that all of you are appreciated very much.

All of the Running for Cru supporters: over the past two years we have raised over $42,000 to help support FSMA and try to help them find a cure. I can't thank you enough for your kindness and generosity. A very special thank you goes out to the Fanaro family for letting me continue to honor Cru and his life. We are so excited for the arrival of Gianna Marie and couldn't be happier for you.

Chad Gruett- what can I say? It was an awesome time running those first 23+ miles together. I think we helped each other stay calm and consistent and relaxed. I look forward to seeing you in Boston in April.

My 3:20 threadmates: Ron, Amy, Steve, Walter, Nick, Greg, Flo, Rich, Brian, Clay, Carl, Chris, FB, Jim, Dave, DLSMD, Jeff, Justin, Kevin, Tommy and Joe. I hope like heck I didn't miss anyone. My deepest apologies if I did. You guys have helped me become the runner I am today and it has been amazing to watch our group improve. Thanks for the support and thanks for keeping me honest over the past year or so.

Steve from NY- Thanks for helping me re-structure the two weeks of the 10K and Half and for your knowledge. I have learned a ton from the people on RWOL and you are one of the best voices on there.

That's it. So next up is Boston. I guess I have to figure out how to train to run "The Boston" in the winter in Chicago. Any advice is welcome.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, October 10, 2009

One Goal, One Plan

It's time. In 11 hours or so, I'll be well on my way to my 8th marathon and first attempt to really get after it. I wanted to thank everyone who has supported me in any way over the past year and a half since the inception of Running for Cru. Your kind words, support and well wishes are incredibly appreciated.

The 3:10 Boston pipe dream was born back in April or May and it's been a fun and challenging journey to get to this day. As I have said many times in the past, the beauty and awfulness of the marathon is that 16 or 18 weeks (or the better part of a year, in some cases) comes down to one day. I feel like I have done everything I can to be able to hit that 3:10. The weather is looking awesome for tomorrow although not so much for my faithful followers - Tiffany you really are the best and I appreciate everything that you do. The challenge of toting around an 8 month old in 40 degree weather to four different places across 26.2 miles deserves a medal in itself.

So, I mentioned it before but there's one goal for this race - a 3:10. There's no "B" goal, no "C" goal, just a 3:10 and the BQ. No excuses will be acceptable. I have put in the work and it's my time to step up and get this thing done.

Here's the plan, and it appears as if I'll have a couple guys from RWOL running with me.
Miles 1 and 2 : 7:15's - if it's a little slower, that's fine too.
Miles 3-20: 7:10's - that puts us at the Half at 1:34
At 20, we'll reassess (individually) and see what we have left. We'll decide if we keep running 7:10's or pick up the pace to 7:05's or 7:00's. Worse case scenario, there's a 2 minute and 59 second cushion in case the last 10K gets a little rough. I'll do my best to make sure I don't need it.

That's it. Talk to all of you later.

The Shirt

I'll be back later with some more details on pace plan and such, but here's the shirt:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Recent Photos

Here a few pictures from my runs the past two Sundays.
From September 27th:

And from October 4th:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Almost Here

Before I get into my normal weekly recap of sorts, I'd like to go off topic. I'd really like to thank everyone for the continued support of Running for Cru. Whether it has been through supporting the fundraising effort or visiting this blog regularly, I truly appreciate all of the support and kind words that have been sent in this direction.

With that being said, every once in a while something happens in life when I think you have take a step back and realize that life is a precious thing. Too often, we get into a routine and sort of take life for granted. If you have been reading this blog since its inception, you'll know that I am a believer in getting off of your ass and taking the bull by the horns. Go attempt the goals that you are afraid to make. And that can be related to anything in life from your career to your living situation to losing weight. Or running a marathon. Just go for it. You owe it to yourself to make the most of life. You don't have to dig too deep on this blog to realize that life can be all too short. Too many terrible things happen to good people. Live it up while you can and try to make every day filled with as many laughs and smiles as possible. Being pissed off and angry is no way to live. If there's one thing you take from this blog, please let it be this: make the most of life.

As I sit here on Monday night, we're 6 days away from the marathon. It's pretty hard to believe it's almost here. And wouldn't you know it (and I am knocking on wood right now), Mother Nature appears to finally be giving me and 40,000 of my closest friends some great running weather for a Chicago Marathon. I think the forecast right now appears to similar to that of 2006. It's looking like mid-40s right now with a very minimal chance of precipitation. There are a couple guys on the Chicago Marathon thread on Runner's World who are getting me more information than Tom Skilling ever has.

I finished up with a 17 week low of 43.6 miles last week as the taper was in full effect. My legs are starting to feel pretty fresh and I have a very easy week of running this week leading up to Sunday. The one weird thing about the taper is that you will have some strange minor aches and pains. It's pretty crazy because you can't help but be pretty paranoid about getting healthy and you'll wake up one day with a sore knee or a tight hamstring. It may not have bothered you at all for the entire training cycle, but these things pop up and then go away pretty unceremoniously.

The remainder of the week, I'll continue with my pre-race preparations. I have selected my shirt, shorts, socks and shoes. I am still deciding on gloves, hat or cap and possibly some arm warmers. I made some custom arm warmers out of an old pair of white tube socks on my 13 miler this past Sunday. They worked pretty well. I just have to decide if I want to wear some on Sunday. If so, do I want to buy a real pair or make another custom pair that I wouldn't feel bad about tossing at some point in the race?

As I mentioned last week, I'll try to check in a couple more times this week before Sunday. I'll be sure to include a picture of the race shirt after it's completed. Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tick...Tick...Tick...Two Weeks to Go

As this training cycle winds down, so do things to talk about. In a lot of ways, this week of the cycle is the toughest. The miles are reduced, there is only one tough run to look forward to and the excitement that comes with marathon week is still a week away. With that, let the rambling begin.

Last week ended with a total 0f 55.1 miles. Nothing too fancy. I commented to some friends that it was kind of a boring week. Pretty amazing, considering I gimped my way to a peak of 54 miles last September. I did put in a 17 mile long run yesterday. It was pretty uneventful, minus covering the last half mile or so the marathon course in the middle of the run. The run started a little after 6 in the morning on the lake path. If you like to run (even a little bit) and live close to Chicago, I'd encourage you to wake up early on a Sunday and hit the lakefront path. It was pretty empty for much of the first half of my run. You kind of feel like you own the city and wonder why everyone couldn't be out there enjoying the fresh air, the sunrise and the view out over the lake. I put a ton of slower-paced songs on my shuffle last week to try to keep my paces in check. Combine that with the general peacefulness and it was borderline religious.

As I was down near Soldier Field approaching my turn around point, I decided to head to over to Roosevelt so I could run the last bit of the marathon. Now, it's not new to me as this will be my 6th time running Chicago. Wow. That last line makes me feel kind of old. I would have never imagined that my running habit would be born after I laced up my running shoes that fateful day just about 6 years ago. Back to the run - I headed west over Roosevelt and hit Michigan Avenue. I stopped on the corner, kind of peeked south, looking at the part of the course that precedes the final 0.3 miles or so. I turned around and started running. I remembered one of the other times I ran over that stretch in the marathon. The sidewalks packed, runners all around and digging as deep as humanly possible to make it over that bridge and make that final left turn up Columbus. It's very odd to see it pretty close to empty. At 7 something in the morning, there's hardly anyone out and I was able to actually run that stretch on the street. Pretty bizzare, as I have played out this stretch hundreds of times in my head. What will the giant clock above the finish line read as it slowly comes into focus? Despite my heart rate jumping up a tad, I was able to keep my pace pretty even despite knowing that in two weeks to the day, I'd be giving it all I had in that very spot and hopefully bringing home a 3:10 or better. Overall, the run went well, as I was able to average an 8:20 pace across the 17 miles, with an average heart rate of 145.

This upcoming week will feature only 43 miles, but will include a 13 miler on Sunday. I am considering trying to make that 13 mile run cover a good chunk of the last half of the marathon course. If I can figure out the logistics of either parking or taking the L down, I'll do it. I also have my last tough workout on Thursday. It will be an 8 mile run with 3x1600 at 5K pace in the middle. Fun times.

Besides that, I am trying to rest the legs and not overdo the eating over the next two weeks. I have been in the mode of eating whenever I feel the urge over the last 16 weeks and have not had to think about the ramifications because of the number of miles I have logged. That obviously has to change with the reduced miles the rest of the way. I'll probably check in a few times next week with some pre-marathon excitement posts and will put up a picture of my race day shirt. Until then, see you later.
Oh, if you are planning on coming out either with my regular support crew (which appears to be a little thin) or on your own, please let me know. If you are on your own, I'll need to know where you'll be and I can give you a pretty good idea on when I'll be passing that area.

Also, you can track me here on race day:
You can sign up for texts or emails letting you know of my splits. For the record, I am bib number 2033.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's All Downhill From Here

I mean that in a good way. I am now less than three weeks from the marathon. The remaining weeks will hopefully get my legs re-charged and I'd love to catch up on some sleep. In a way, I'll miss the 5 A.M. or earlier alarm going off. I usually start reminiscing about the training cycle in the week of the marathon, but it's starting to hit me a little earlier this year.

As those of you that have been around for the last 15 weeks or longer, I've trained smarter and harder this cycle than I ever have. I know in two and half weeks or so, I'll be toeing the line for my 8th marathon as prepared as I could possibly be. It's a good feeling, but at the same time, I know I need to stay focused and realize that I still need things to go my way on the 11th for me to hit my goal. As the saying goes and a few people have told me, the hay is the barn.

Speaking of goals, there is one goal for the 11th. 3:10. That's it. Anything slower than that will be a disappointment. As I mentioned back in May, I know the jump from a 3:29 to 3:10 is huge. But I have hit every goal that I set back then and everyting points to me being able to hit my goal. Here are the goals I set back in May:
  • Train my ass off
  • Get down to 165 pounds
  • Run 6 days per week
  • A sub 40 minute 10K
  • A 1:30 Half
I fully expect to run a 3:10 on October 11th. As of now, the strategy is to hit the first half somewhere around 1:33:30-1:34:00. An even split would net me a 3:07 to 3:08. It will give me a couple to few minute cushion in case things get a little rough in the second half.

I know it may be a tad early to talk of strategy, but I think that will help me focus on the task at hand and get me through these next couple of weeks without going crazy. I have about 55-58 miles planned for this week after hitting 66 last week.

Last week was kind of a jumbled mess as life threw the ole' running schedule a curve ball. I recovered pretty well, but did have to a run 10 miler on Saturday and my final 20 miler on Sunday. The original plan was to run the second half of the 2o miler at goal marathon pace, but I found myself running upstream into a few thousand runners after I hit my turnaround point.

This group of runners was participating in the Chicago Area Runners Association's Ready to Run 20 Miler. It's really kind of ridiculous. I can appreciate a Gatorade and water supported final 2o miler run, but signing up (which cost a good chunk of money - as much as $50 - for a training run) doesn't give you a license to run wherever you want. The lakefront path in Chicago is pretty congested as it is. Add to that groups of runners running as many as 7 and 8 wide in spots. I really was afraid I was going to bump shoulders and get knocked into the lake between Oak St. and Ohio. Anyway, I ended up getting away from them with 7.5 miles left and turned it on for those miles. I ran all of the first 7 miles in the 7:11-7:17 range, so I was pretty happy with my last really long run. I still have a 17 miler on tap for this coming weekend.

I did manage to take a few pictures on the first half of Sunday's run. Here they are:

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 Chicago Half Marathon

I made the annual pilgrimage down to the south side on Sunday to run in the Chicago Half Marathon. This was my fifth time running this race. They did change up the course a little bit this year, so at least it had that going for it. I am really not a huge fan of this race - it's a pain to get down there and park and the course is pretty boring as a good 2/3 of it takes place on Lake Shore Drive. Over the years, I have learned that the best bet is to get down there early and park a mile or so away. Anyway, I got down there about an hour before the race. I was planning on running a nice warm-up to the start area before I checked my bag, but as I was coming up the Metra stop, a ton of people were exiting, clogging up the sidewalk. So much for that part of the warm-up.

Before I go any further, I'd also like to throw in a few details about the two days leading up to the Half. Tiffany woke up on Friday at about 1AM with a pain in her abdomen. After a trip to the hospital and several tests, we found out that she needed to get her appendix removed. By Friday afternoon, her appendix was out and she was recovering. Needless to say, Friday and Saturday we not very much fun (especially for her). She has been recovering at home since Saturday morning and is getting better every day.

So back to the warm-up. I walked it to the area near the the gear check and ran into an old high school classmate and his wife. She was running her first half. We chatted for a couple minutes, wished each other luck and I headed over to the gear check, swapped out my shoes and got in line for a port-a-potty. By the time I walked over and grabbed a water to wash down a Gu, I had about 20 minutes before the race was scheduled to start. I couldn't really see a good path to run, so I headed to the start area and proceeded to run mini-laps in the start area. I put in about a mile. I would have felt pretty stupid if not for another 20 or so people doing the same thing. I wasn't one of the weirdos doing incredibly high knees or power skipping, but hey, whatever floats your boat. In my warm-up mile, my heart rate was high. I was about 15 beats higher than I would normally put up for such a slow pace. I was slightly concerned, but didn't put too much weight into it.

I made my way up to the "B Corral, " which was a small area roped off by those flags people use for garage sales and such. I ran into my pal Walter in the Corral. He said he was going to start out a 6:50 or so pace. I said, "How about 6:45?" He said deal, and we were off. Actually we weren't. The start of the race was delayed 10 minutes. Eventually the race started.

The first mile went by pretty quickly we hit the marker at 6:44. Pretty damn spot on. The first couple miles of any half or full marathon are always a little tough to gauge. Your adrenaline's pumping and you're trying to get in a rhythm and not get too excited. It was kind of weird, because I wasn't really excited. That's a good thing. I think the adrenaline and excitement have gotten the best of me in the past and that then leads to me putting extra pressure on myself. The biggest difference in this race heading in was that I expected to run it well. I knew I could run a 1:30, barring something catastrophic. The question in my mind was how could I pace myself to ensure my best possible time. The fact that I had enough confidence in myself to run a 1:30 at this point is pretty amazing in retrospect. Back when I threw down the BQ gauntlet in May or whenever, I honestly thought my chances at a 1:30 half and hopefully subsequent 3:10 full were maybe 50-50.

Back to the race - I was still trying to find my groove and we hit the second mile @ 6:46. Very nice. As we were running the third mile, I was still searching for a rhythm and still coming up empty. I glanced down at my HR and I was in the mid 170s. I made a mental to ignore it because it was already running higher than where I wanted to be. Miles 3 and 4 were both 6:50s. I got a few seconds back in mile 5 with a 6:40 and I was really close to my pace plan as I hit the marker.

Mile 6 was a nondescript 6:43 and while I still was not feeling good, I was hitting my splits really well. Things got a little interesting in mile 7. It measured slightly short (.99) on my Garmin and I put up a 6:32. At that point I let Walter go ahead as he seemingly started to pick up the pace. I really wanted to put up a 6:45-6:50 for mile 8 after mile 7.

The good news is that I did slow it down. The bad news is that mile 8 measured 1.04 miles and my Garmin said I just put up a 7:03. Crazy thing is a 7:03 for 1.04 miles is a 6:45 pace. Oh well. Regroup and forge ahead. I looked at my HR for the first time since mile 3 after that 7:03 split. My HR was at 191 with 5.1 miles to go. Not so good. Mile 8 did end on a very slight uphill, so I am sure that didn't help.

I ran mile 9 in 6:36 as there was a very slight downhill at the beginning of the mile. I still wasn't feeling good. I know, the race is almost over at this point. There's just over 4 miles remaining. If I am not feeling good by now, it's probably not happening. Mile 10 was a 6:42.

The original plan was to reassess at the tenth mile and see if I could turn it on for the last 5K. I decided to just try to pick it up to the 6:30s or so. I hit the 11th mile in 6:28. Upon further review, it measured .97 miles. I can understand being .01 over here and there, but I and still not sure why there can be .03 and .04 variances both positive and negative. Anyway, only 2.1 miles to go.

I hit my 200 max heart rate in mile 12 and put up a 6:50. I tried to start to dig down deep and turn it on, but I couldn't find anything when I was digging. The familiar feeling a race slipping away from me started to tickle my stomach. I had a brief moment of weakness where I considered slowing it down for a quarter mile or so and then finish strong. I decided that was absolutely stupid and I was dumber for having thought of it to begin with. I hunkered down and sucked it up.

At that point I start doing the math to see what I'll need to run the last 1.1 miles in to get me a 10 minute PR (1:28:35). I bargained with myself throughout the mile, reminding myself how much more is left. I finally hit the 13 mile marker and I had a 6:53 to show for it. All things considered, not bad as it measured a 1.03.

I got a nice rush of energy after I hit 13 and could see the finish line. I ran the last .1 (.12 on the Garmin) in 40 seconds, a sub 6 minute pace. Final finish time: 1:28:25. A PR by 10 minutes and 10 seconds.

I was really happy with my time. I never got into a solid rhythm and didn't feel like I had my best stuff. I do think I ran the fastest race I could have on Sunday though. That's a huge step for me. You never know how you're going to feel on race day. Often times, I have given in on those days that I didn't feel the greatest in the past. And the fact that I could overcome my moment of mental weakness at mile 12 makes me feel good that I'll be able to gut it out in the latter miles of the marathon if I need to. I do think I could pick up another 1-2 minutes in a half, but that's obviously not my focus.

This 1:28 confirms for me that I am in great position for a 3:10 at the Chicago Marathon. There are just 4 weeks remaining until the big day. I have one more big week left this week. I'll come close to 70 miles for the last time in this cycle. All that's left is to get these miles in, stay healthy, don't do anything stupid and be patient waiting for October 11th to get here.

Final Splits / AHR
1-6:44 /169
2-6:46 / 174
3-6:50 / 174
4-6:50 / 178
5-6:40 / 181
6-6:43 / 183
7-6:32 / 186
8-7:03 / 186
9-6:36 / 191
10-6:42 / 191
11-6:28 / 196
12-6:50 / 198
13-6:53 / 202
.1- 0:40/ 206

Monday, September 7, 2009

Spirit of 75.5

The peak week of training is in the books as is the worst pun for a title of a blog post yet. 75.5 miles last week, a new career high. A scheduling shift also had me run 12 day in a row, also the longest in my career. Here's what this past week looked like:

M-7.3 @9:20pace, 133AHR
T- 7.3 @8:59, 132AHR; 5.1 @9:19, 126AHR
W- 14.85@8:13, 149AHR
R- 10.4 w/6x1000 repeats @5:52 pace
F- 8@8:33, 147AHR; 4@9:36 ,132AHR (with jogging stroller)
Sa- 18.5 total. First 13.5@8:27, 143AHR. Last 5 @ 7:11, 170AHR

I am feeling pretty good overall. I took it easy early in the week following the 10K from last Sunday. It took a couple days to get my legs back under me, but was able to finish the week strong. I was contemplating ditching the GMP miles at the end of Saturday's Long Run, but I figured simulating race pace on a tired set of legs on a long run is about the best practice you can get. I think I can bounce back from the 5 miles easily, which is important considering I have the Chicago Half Marathon this upcoming weekend.

I've lost at least 14 pounds since training started in June. Two weeks ago (the lats time I stepped on a scale), I was 1 pound under my race day goal of 165. I am not sure how far my weight will drop, but I definitely will have to watch what I am eating the last two weeks leading up to the marathon. I feel like I am eating constantly but the weight keeps coming off. I guess that's one of the benefits of averaging 62 miles a week over the past 13 weeks.

I am not really going to taper for the Half. Here's what I have scheduled this week:

M- 7 Recovery (done)
T- 8-10 Miles, with 3-4 400m repeats@5K pace
W- 14 MLR
R- 8-10 GA
F- 6 Recovery
Sa- 3 Recovery w/ a few strides thrown in
Su- Chicago Half Marathon with a couple warm up and cool down miles
Total- 60-67 miles

As was the case for the 10K two weeks ago, I am looking to have a significant PR in the half. My goal is to run it in 1:30, which would make me feel really good about my attempt at a 3:10 for the marathon. My previous best half was last year, when I ran a 1:38:34. So we could be looking at an 8 minute PR or so.

The half is also a good opportunity to practice some other things like drinking on the run, running in some congested areas and most importantly, trying to pace consistently. I'd like to run the first 10 miles at a 6:50-6:55 pace. If I am feeling good when I hit the 10 mile mark, I'll crank it up and see if I can bring home the bacon with some 6:30s. I'll be sure to a race report up here as soon as I can after the race.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Windrunner 10K Race Report

Let's cut to the chase, here's the lowdown on yesterday's race. Whoa! Don King got a hold of my keyboard for a second.

It was a really cool morning, right around 60 out in the Western Suburbs. I got down to the course at abour 7:25 for the 8:00 race. I went and grabbed my bib and talked to my former boss (from a previous job) for a few minutes. His running club puts on this race every year. The race is really well run, the course is nice and they have the best post-race food I have ever had. Fresh fruit, bagels, pizza, and a restaurant also provides some finer foods like brie cheese, roasted duck, roasted chicken breast and some fresh salmon. It's really amazing.

So, I had some time after I went back to my car and pinned on the bib and changed into my shoes. Then I took down a nice vanilla Gu, did an easy warm up mile and was running by the start line area when I heard that the race was going to start 10 minutes late. No problem, I thought, it'd give me enough time to get another easy mile in. So I finished my second mile and headed over to the start line.

I was chatting with a couple guys at the start line as we were waiting for the race to start. The younger of the two was wearing some nice, tight, blue shorts and a running club singlet. Pretty serious stuff. The other guy was a bit older, but was a nice guy. As we were chatting, the younger mentioned that he blew up in the last six miles at Grandma's Marathon and ran a 3:0X. I suppose blow-ups are all relative. The other guy said he was trying to hit a 1:19 half the following weekend. I decided at that point to make sure I did not run with those two out of the gate. Just before the race started, I asked the younger guy if he was going to win this race. He replied, " Don't know, that guy (nodded to his left to some other guy) is pretty fast." The results are not officially posted yet so I don't know his time, but the younger guy did finish first overall.

With that, the horn sounded and we were off. The first and last 75-100 yards of the race are in grass. It was a very wet at the beginning, so I was trying to make sure I didn't lose my footing. After the grass ends, there's a sharp left turn. As we're coming out of the turn, a group of guys pull away. I am being very cognizant of not going out to fast. I look down at my Garmin and see 6:0Xs, so I back it down a touch. I wanted to hit a 6:25 first mile. This allows a decent group of guys to pass me. Before the passing stopped, I think I counted about 22 guys in front of me. As I get to the half mile mark, I see I hit it at 3:05. Whoa, slow down! So I am reigning it in at this point. I feel like I am holding myself back the rest of mile 1, running very easy and hit the 1st mile marker at 6:24. Nice. Right where I wanted to be.

Somewhere near the end of that mile, I started running in a group of two others. One was about 40 and the other was 12 or so. No lie. This little dude was motoring. I made a mental note to myself that I will not lose to him. I think this is probably the equivalent to losing to someone dressed as a superhero in the marathon. I ran with these two for all of mile two. Again, it felt nice and easy and my breathing was very under control. I have found that's the key for me in these shorter races. I hit the 2nd mile marker at 6:27. I was thinking I'd try to be in the 6:20-6:25 range for miles 2 and 3. There are definitely some turns and slightly narrower parts in this section of the race. There was a lot of single file running as guys were trying to run tangentially as much as possible. I was feeling good and my breathing was still very solid.

Somwhere during mile three, I picked off a couple runners from the pack and my little friend fell off the pace too. I felt I was holding this 6:25ish pace. As I hit the 3rd mile marker, my Garmin (manual lap) read 6:30. Hmmm. I wasn't disappointed, just wondering a little bit as I felt my effort level hadn't changed. Maybe it was turns and curves on the course. At that point, I decide it's time to pick up the pace a bit. Not a ton, but I need to start putting up some 6:20 miles here. I basically have a 5K left at this point, so I am feeling good.

So I start passing guys, without really using too much effort to go around them. I'd sneak inside when I could or just follow the natural flow of the course. I think I passed 5 or 6 guys in this mile and hit mile marker 4 with a 6:21.

Okay, that's more like it. Still feeling pretty strong, although I am focusing more on my breathing. The last thing I need at this point is a cramp or my breathing to get out of control and I fall off of my pace. There's a guy in front of me that is hugging the inside of every turn and I am breathing down his neck. He won't give me an inch. So after about a quarter mile of these shenanigans, I bite the bullet and pass him on the outside. Still focusing on my breathing as it's becoming slightly more labored. I made it a point not to look at my HR throughout the race. There's nothing I can do about it, so why even bother?

Somewhere around mile 4.5, the course turned and I was running into the wind. I was starting to feel it a little bit as I saw my Garmin go back up from the 6:1Xs to the 6:2Xs. I hunkered down and decided that there was only about 1.75 miles left, so any pain I was feeling was only temporary. I hit the 5 mile marker with a 6:11. Nice!

Just about a mile and a quarter to go and there's no one anywhere close behind me and a shirtless guy off in the distance in front of me. I decided to see what I have left in the tank and run it as hard as I can. As if I would have considered anything else. My breathing is becoming very labored by the 5.75 mark. I hit the 6th mile marker with an even 6:00 on my watch. Awesome.

Just .2 to go and I have made up considerable ground on the shirtless guy. As we make the final turn into the grass, I am giving it all I have. So is this guy, so I never do catch him. I think I finished a second or two behind him. I ran the final .21 (Garmin measured) in 1:11 (a 5:36ish pace) and hit the finish line with a 39:07!

What a great feeling. I remembering struggling my way to the finish line last year in a 43:54. Yep. That's not a typo. I beat my time on this course from last year by 4:47. And beat my November PR of 41:48 by 2:41. I am pretty sure my days of 10K 2 minute PRs are over now, but it was fun while it lasted. I finished 2nd in my age group and received a nice fancy medal for my efforts. I am not sure where I finished overall and I did lose track of how many guys I passed. I am guessing somewhere in the 10-15 range. I think I may have left a few seconds (10-15?) on the course in miles 2 and 3. Not positive though. No regrets here at all.

I also learned my max Heart Rate is 200, not 195. I hit that in the last .2. Here are the splits and AHR for the race:
1-6:24 (176)
2-6:27 (182)
3-6:30 (184)
4-6:21 (187)
5-6:11 (189)
6- 6:00 (194)
.2- 1:11 (197)
The 39:07 translates into a 6:17 overall pace . Average HR for the race was 186, or 93% of my new max. I'll make another post over the next day or two chronicling last week and previewing this upcoming week.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

10K on the Horizon

Sorry about the second consecutive mid-week blog update. We had a really busy weekend with Isla's blessing (baptism). And sometime on Monday, it appears as though she came down with something. She's had a rough couple of nights. Hopefully she'll start feeling better soon.
So, I have my first race since April this Sunday, the Windrunner 10K. I have run this race three times in the past, posting my best time last year with a 43:54. I am hoping to crush that time on Sunday. I did run a 10K in November, as some of you may remember. I put up a 41:48 at the Lincolnwood Turkeytrot. Ideally, I'll go sub 40 on Sunday. The weather is supposed to be very cool, maybe in the 50s or 60s for the race, which is awesome.

At the same time, I am not intentionally cutting back for this race, so I'll take what I get and keep my eyes on October 11th. It should be a very good measuring stick to see how much I really have improved from last year. I don't think a 2 minute or so improvement is out of the question. I'll try to post something here on Sunday night.

Last Week:
Monday- 6.5 Recovery @ 9:06, 125AHR
Tuesday - 12.1 Miles, middle 7LT @ 6:53, 175AHR
Wednesday - 13.3 MLR @ 8:18, 141AHR
Thursday - Recovery Double of 5 in the morning and 5.3 at lunch
Friday- 21.5 Miles @ 8:20, 151AHR
Saturday - kind of a recovery run, but kind of GA - 5.5 miles, 8:27, 143AHR
Sunday - Rest Day
69.3 Total miles

This week:
Pretty much up in the air at this point as I have had to move things around and try to get in some running whenever possible. I have a few target workouts I'd like to hit, but other than that, I am hoping to still be in the low 60's for the week. If not, it's not the end of the world. Sometimes life can throw your running a curveball.

M- Unscheduled Rest Day
T- Somewhere between 8 and 9 miles with 4x400m and 2 hill sprints
W- 7.15 miles @ 8:21 pace, 130AHR
R- 4.2 Recovery in the AM and and somewhere around 6 in the PM
F- 13 MLR
Sa- 3-4 easy w/some strides mixed in
Su- a couple warm up miles, the 10K, a couple cool down miles and hopefully a few extra later in the day to get me to somewhere close to 18 miles for the day.
Total of 60-ish

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How's Your Intestinal Fortitude?

I don't really have a clear direction for this post, so bear with me as I try to find one. In the middle of my 12 mile run yesterday, I had 7 miles planned at Goal Half Marathon Pace, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 6:52/mi. I have pretty much nailed all of my previous GHMP and Goal Marathon Paced runs in the cycle. After those runs, I now kind of expect to hit everything as I feel great and have quite a bit of confidence with where I am at. We are just under 8 weeks away from the big day. Plus, I am in better running shape than I was at the beginning of training and have dropped about 8 pounds since the start of this cycle. I hope to be at 165 by the time the horn sounds on October 11th, so I have maybe another 4 or 5 pounds left to shed.

Anyway, back to the run. It was 71 degrees with 91% humidity when I left the house. Not really ideal. At all. I knew my heart rate would be elevated. Oh well, you never know what kind of weather race day will bring, so you have to suck it up and knock 'em down. I started with 2.5 nice and easy miles before I started my attempt of 7 at 6:52. The first mile is usually tough to gauge as I typically work down to that speed and then surpass it. I'll end up somewhere in the 6:15-6:30 range before I then start to get closer to 6:50, which will invariably take me closer to 7:00. By the time the Garmin dings Mile 1, I have no idea what the pace will say. On Tuesday it said 6:55. Not bad. Not too fast, just a touch too slow.

I figured I could keep right around there and avoid any major pacing swings for the next few miles. I figured wrong. Mile 2 was a poor 7:04. At that point, I started to let doubt creep in to my head just a bit. Compound the 10+ seconds over goal with the fact that I felt I was working harder and my heart rate reflected it. My HR zone for HMP miles is 159-177 and I was already up to 170. Crap.

The mental aspect of training (and more importantly, racing) is one that probably gets too little attention. 15+ seconds over goal two miles into a seven mile tempo run on an extremely humid day in the middle of August is a decent test. It's not mile 23 of the marathon when your legs are starting to feel like lead and your 7:15 pace (here's hoping) is on the verge of becoming a 7:30, but it will do.

How do you overcome this? Mental toughness will get you to a certain point. How much can you really will your body to do something? Can you? Does it hurt too much or is it just physically impossible?

I don't have the answers, but I like to think that the training I am putting in right now will allow me to dig a little deeper if(when?) the shit starts hitting the fan on October 11th. I'd really like to believe that my training is going well enough that the shit never hits the fan, but I am a realist. Things happen. For those of you newer to the blog, I am shooting for a 3:10 at Chicago this year. It would qualify me for Boston. It would also represent an improvement of 19 minutes over last year. 19 minutes is a huge number. I'd be a an idiot if I told you it wasn't. I'll be testing where I am at in a 10K and half marathon in the coming weeks to see if the 3:10 is a possibility. I have made several large changes in how I train from previous years to this year and hope they will get me the result I am looking for.

And now back to mile 2 of the GHP run. I decided to keep on trying to hit that 6:52. I was beginning to doubt it could happen, but wussing out at this point would do no good. I wasn't hurting. Just couldn't hit my pace. The phrase "intestinal fortitude" popped into my head at some point soon after the third mile started. I remember my brother Michael frequently referencing it during some sporting event back in the mid-to late 90's. Was it Mike Fratello - "The Czar of the Telestrator" - that used to say it back in the days of the Bulls championship runs? Or maybe it was Matt Millen before he turned the Lions into the worst franchise in the NFL. Maybe both of them? Either way, you could count on at least one a game from whoever it was.

So, it was time to see what kind of intestinal fortitude I had. As I was nearing the end of mile 3 and my Garmin would soon show my time, I figured I'd be sub 6:50 for sure. I was working even harder at this point. No luck - I put up a 6:52 and my AHR for the mile jumped to 174. I still did the math in my head to try to figure out how fast I would need to run the remaining miles to hit 6:52. I would aim for some 6:48-6:50's and hopefully turn it on the last mile.
That didn't happen.

Mile 4: 6:54, 175AHR
Mile 5: 6:53, 177AHR
So, after five miles, I was at the top of my HR zone and I still couldn't hit my goal pace.
Mile 6: 6:55, 177AHR
Jesus, now I was getting slower.

With one mile to go, I decided to see what I had left. I didn't pay attention to my heart rate either. I was sopping wet at this point and could feel sweat dripping down my legs. I managed to put up a 6:41 mile with a 183HR. Garmin claims this run averaged a 6:53 pace with a 175AHR.
I didn't feel bad after it was over and ran the last 2.6 home at an 8:20 pace.

Initially, I was a little disappointed. After I thought about it a little more, I think this was a good thing. I may have been getting a little too confident. A run like this humbles you and reminds you that there is still a lot of work to be done between now and October 11th. At the same time, I was able to gut it out and pretty much hit my goal pace. So I damn near hit the 6:52 in miserable conditions on what wasn't my best day. I think it's a good sign. A 7 mile tempo run in the midst of summer isn't an easy thing to do.
Last Week Recap
Monday- 9.6 GA @ 8:22 pace, 143AHR
Tuesday - 9.1 VO2 w/6x800 repeats @ 2:56 pace
Wednesday - 7.3 Recovery @ 9:16, 120AHR
Thursday - 7.5 GA w/10x100 strides @ 8:08 pace, 147AHR
Friday- 9.2 GA @ 8:20 pace, 141AHR
Saturday - 15.3 MLR @ 8:26, 149AHR
Sunday- Rest
58 total miles

This Week:
Monday- 6.5 Recovery @ 9:06, 125AHR
Tuesday - 12.1 Miles, middle 7LT @ 6:53, 175AHR
Wednesday - 13.3 MLR @ 8:18, 141AHR
Thursday - Recovery Double of 6 or 7 in the morning and 4 or 5 at lunch
Friday- Longest Run of the cycle - 22 Miles
Saturday - Recovery Run - 6ish
Sunday - Rest Day
70+ Total miles

Monday, August 10, 2009

Halfway Home

9 Weeks down, 9 to go. I have enjoyed this marathon training cycle more than most. I don't feel beat up and worn down. There are several reasons, so why not get into them? In no particular order:
  • The base building I did in the first five months of the year gave me my best chance at a successful training cycle. I don't have the exact numbers (because I didn't keep them year-round), but I am pretty sure I just passed my 2008 mileage total.
  • Following a regimented training plan has been huge for me. I increased my days running per week from 4 to 6 and am following Pfitzinger's 18 week/70 mile program. I have moved some runs around here and there, but have hit the types of runs and the total mileage within a mile or two either way every week. Mileage-wise, I was in the mid 40's at this time last year.
  • Wearing a Garmin and HR monitor. I can better monitor my efforts and also go back and analyze my runs. And not going to before or after each to see how far I went is a time saver and a plus.
  • Recovery Runs. One great way to add in some extra miles on to a plan is throwing in recovery runs. I have been running most of mine in the 9-9:30 range, so about 2 minutes slower than goal marathon pace. People can debate how fast or how slow they are supposed to be and how much they really help, but I am a believer and they will be a part of every training plan I do in the future. Side note: I just read a book about Neil Diamond. In the first chapter, the author annoyingly started multiple sentences with "I'm a believer that Neil Diamond..." I enjoyed the book, as I do enjoy some Diamond, but this reference of a Neil Diamond song that the Monkees made famous was pretty bad. I thought about making this post in a similar fashion but thought much, much better of it.
  • Chicago's mild summer has been pretty helpful. It was crazy hot here last weekend, but I have been really lucky with the lack of heat up to this point.
  • A very supportive wife who doesn't mind her husband's alarm going off at 5:00 A.M. several days a week to get up and run...and then being gone anywhere from an hour to three. Tiffany has always been my biggest fan but our lives have changed over the last 6+ months after the birth of our daughter. Almost all of my runs now come in the morning, with the exception of a few easy runs occurring at while I am at work. I wouldn't be able to do this without her support.
  • I really feel like I understand running and training more now than I ever have. I do not know everything by any stretch, but I have learned a ton between reading some books and soaking in knowledge on Runners World.
This week is a cutback week down and I'll get down to 58 miles. Then the next 5 five weeks will all be in the 60s and I'll hit 70 twice. I may tack on few extra miles on the second week of 70. I also have the Windrunner 10K on August 30th and the Chicago Half Marathon on September 13th. It's really amazing to think that training is half over and these races are nearly here.

Last Week Recap:
Monday- 7.1 Recovery @ 9:09 pace, No AHR
Tuesday - 15 Mile MLR @ 8:11 pace, 154 AHR - steamy
Wednesday - 5.7 Recovery AM @ 9:23, 124 AHR, 4.6 Recovery PM @ 9:11, 122 AHR
Thursday - 13.1 MLR @ 8:16, 143 AHR
Friday- 7 GA Miles w/ strides. Pace for the first 5.25 miles was 8:20, 136 AHR. Last 1.75 was a 7:49 pace, 143 AHR.
Saturday - 16.5, w 12 @ Goal Marathon Pace(7:15). The 12 GMP miles came in at 7:12 with a 167 AHR.
Sunday- Rest
69 Total miles

This Week:
Monday- 9.6 GA - DONE
Tuesday - 9 VO2 w/5x600 repeats at 5K pace
Wednesday - 7 Recovery
Thursday - 8 GA w/10x100 strides
Friday- 9-10 GA
Saturday - 15 MLR
Sunday- Rest
58 or so total miles

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another Brush With Greatness

Before I get into my most recent encounter with someone famous, I'd first like to thank all of you that have donated to FSMA. We're currently sitting at just under $3,000. I truly appreciate the generosity that has been shown in the few weeks that we have been fundraising. I really can't thank all of you enough for you support.

For those of you that have not yet had the chance to help the cause or are new to Running for Cru, you can get to the fundraising site by clicking the link just above this post. Cru's story can be read by clicking on the link at the top of the right maragin.

Now, on to the brush with greatness. Well, maybe not a brush. More of a breeze. When you compare him to the others (Mr. T, Jeff Tweedy, the Bin Laden look-a-like) I have bumped into over the last few months, it does stand out, especially if you are a runner. On my 20 miler on Sunday, I was on mile 14 or so when a blur of a man passed me. I was running somewhere around an 8:20 pace at the time. I had never seen anyone run that fast on the lake path. I thought, that has to be somebody. The Rock-N-Roll Chicago Half Marathon was going on at the same time, so I thought maybe it was someone getting in some extra miles. After doing some math and looking at my watch, there was no way one could have been done with the half and be that far north. So I waited to see this guy on the way back. Sure enough, despite that fact he was probably running a sub 6 minute pace, I could tell that it was this guy:

Yep. It was Ryan Hall. He currently holds the American record for a half marathon (59:43), finished 10th in the Beijing Olympics and finished third in the 2009 Boston Marathon. He was running too fast for me to even yell out his name after I confirmed it was him. He always looked bigger on TV, but as it turns out, he's only 5'10". I later found out he was in town for the race (not running it though) promoting some things for Nissan.

Besides that, the week was pretty normal. There's a guy at work who happens to be a Facebook friend who has seen a couple of my mileage status updates. He seems concerned that I am running too much and asked me if I was worried that I could break my heel off. Seriously.

Lastly, July was a record month for me, as I finished with 277.1 miles. I am feeling good and am looking forward to August, which should be another new monthly record. I also have a 10K at the end of the month that I am pretty excited for.

Last Week
Monday- 7.1 Recovery @ 9:06, 126 AHR
Tuesday - AM 4 Recovery @ 9:22, 131 AHR, PM 6.1 Recovery @ 9:17, 128 AHR
Wednesday - 13.6 Mile MLR @ 8:14, 149 AHR
Thursday - 6.15 Recovery @ 9:32, 123 AHR
Friday- 11.15 Mile LT, with 6 @ 6:51, AHR 173
Saturday - Rest
Sunday- 20 Mile LR @ 8:24, 141 AHR
68.2 Miles total, another new personal nest

This Week
Monday- 7.1 Recovery- DONE
Tuesday - 15 Mile MLR
Wednesday - 4 Recovery AM, 6 Recovery PM
Thursday - 7 Recovery with 6x100 strides
Friday- 13 Mile MLR
Saturday - Rest
Sunday- 16 Mile LR with 12 @ Goal Marathon Pace
67 Planned Miles, although I am currently on pace to go a little over.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

He Wears Short Shorts?

Before I get rambling here, I forgot to mention a few weeks ago was that I was accepted in the Brooks I.D. Program. I am one of over 1500 members in the program that "are active in their running communities and share a passion for the Brooks brand." I.D. stands for inspire daily. One of the perks of the program is that I get 40% off of all Brooks running merchandise. I have been running in Brooks shoes since early 2005 and have worn them in every marathon since then, so I was pretty excited to get accepted by the fine folks over at Brooks. Seeing as how I am racking up the miles in this training cycle, the discount has come in quite handy already.

I also decided I should probably purchase a few new pieces of Brooks clothing to wear on my training runs and my upcoming races. I have never really purchased running clothing on-line before, as I prefer to either eye ball or try things on before I buy them so I know they will fit correctly. I decided to use my 40% discount and take the plunge and order some shirts and shorts through the Brooks site. Both shirts I ordered fit pretty well. The shorts are a different story. They are a little on the, well, short side. As it turns out, most of the shorts I own have a five inch inseam. The new pair has a four inch inseam, but also get shorter the farther you get from the supposed 4 inch measurement. Here's a picture of them:

These babies are much shorter than they look in this picture. So, my initial though was to return them and get a different pair. Then I realized that I'd have to pay shipping to return them and they weren't that expensive anyway... so I have decided to keep them and embrace the 1970's runner that's deep inside of me. Kind of like Prefontaine, minus the moustache:

I nearly wore them on my 21 miler this past Sunday, but thought I should test them out on a shorter run first. Maybe I should wait for my 'stache to come in first. I actually did wear a moustache in the 2005 Chicago Marathon. I'll have to dig up one of those pictures and post it soon.
Last Week
Monday- 7.25 GA w/10x100 strides @ 8:03 pace, 142 AHR
Tuesday - 10.1 LT, w/middle 5 @ 6:51, 171 AHR
Wednesday - 6 Recovery @ 9:10, 125 AHR
Thursday - 14.1 Mile MLR @ 8:10, 151 AHR
Friday- 8 Mile GA @ 8:05, 149 AHR
Saturday - Rest
Sunday- 21 Mile LR @ 8:10, 148 AHR
66.5 Miles Total, a new career high

This Week
Monday- 7.1 Recovery- DONE
Tuesday - 4 Recovery AM, 6.1 Recovery PM - DONE
Wednesday - 14 Mile MLR
Thursday - 5 Recovery
Friday- 11 Mile LT, with 6 @ 6:52
Saturday - Rest
Sunday- 20 Mile LR
66 Planned Miles, although I am currently on pace to go a little over.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Running Will Kill You and Ipods are the Devil

Last week was mildly eventful. Here are couple stories I'd like to share:

On Wednesday, I was supposed to run 12 miles in the morning. I had set my alarm for 5:20. When it went off, I could hear thunder and see lightning, so I went back to bed and decided to run at work and I'd make up the remaining miles later in the week.

I was about 5 miles into a planned 6+ miles at lunch, when I came upon a couple of co-workers (a guy and a girl) that were also enjoying a run. I decided to run with them for a bit to shoot the breeze. After exchanging pleasantries, we began talking about running. I told them I have run a few marathons and am currently training for Chicago Marathon in October. Both were pretty impressed with my mileage despite the fact that the guy thought no one should run more than 6-8 miles per run during the week. Then the guy said that he runs about 30 miles a week of "maintenance" and ran a marathon once. He seemed mildly interested in running more, but he said he stopped after the first marathon because his doctor told him they were bad for you. He even had plans to run another marathon in Paris, but his doctor wouldn't sign a consent form for him, so his marathon career came to an end. Whatever his doctor told him about running marathons obviously made a lasting impression, because he seemed to think his life was in danger despite the fact that his check up and blood work were both great. The doctor supposedly said it just puts too much stress on your body. So I guess the Dr. thinks a healthy lifestyle includes eating like crap and doing as little as possible...because you'd hate to actually run enough to be able to run a marathon. When I saw the guy at work the following day, I told him it was time to get a new doctor. That doctor should have his license revoked.

On Friday, I headed out for a 10 mile run. I left a little later than I had wanted to, so I was going to try to pick up the pace a little bit to get all 10 in. As I was approaching mile 3 at the corner of the running path and Devon Avenue, I slowed down because there is a bit of a blind turn around some bushes before I have to cross the street. As I got to the turn, I saw a guy on a bike coming at me. I jumped off of the path to give the guy some room to get by. Unfortunately, he saw me and freaked out. One thing that people do when they start to panic on their bike is to take their feet off the pedals and stick their legs out straight. This 250 pound guy was no different. He totally panicked and the jimmy-arming of the handle bars soon followed. He started swerving and drove into the bush and then fell off of his bike.

Then he let out a few guttural screams.
"Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"
I walked over to the guy and said, "Hey man, you alright?"
He responded, "No! I'm not! I'm hurt!"
I started to get a little closer to him to see if I could help him up. He started talking before I could reach out my hand.
"It's your fault, " he said. "You were on my side of the path."
I was kind of surprised. And I got a little angry.
I yelled, "There is no way you can say I was on your side of the path! I was standing right there when I watched you fall of of your bike. You panicked."
At this point, he was coming to his feet and he started to get a little angry.
He said, "If you weren't listening to that Ipod you'd be more attentive to your surroundings!"
I really lost my cool at this point. It was this guy's fault he had fallen off of his bike and after trying to accuse me of being on his side of the path, he then tries to blame me for listening to my Ipod? Are you kidding me?
I yelled at him, "You know what pal? F-you!"
He yells back, "Well, F-you too!"
At this point, he's back on his bike and is starting to peddle away.
I said one more thing to him. I didn't reference his overweight body...well not directly at least. I am all for people trying to get healthy. I said, "Maybe you should ride your bike a little more (often) so you won't fall off of it."
He was yelling something back but was peddling away from me so I had no idea what he was blabbing about. I continued with my run, albeit with an elevated heart rate.
The rest of the run was not the greatest as I was looking over my shoulder waiting for this guy to come after me.
Last Week
Monday- 5.2 Recovery @ 9:37 pace, 122 AHR
Tuesday - 7.2 GA @ 8:22 pace, 143 AHR
Wednesday -6.2 GA @ 8:33 pace, 145 AHR
Thursday - 5.7 GA @ 8:09 pace, 153 AHR, 5.2 Recovery @ 9:14 pace, 129 AHR
Friday- 9 GA @ 8:28 pace, 147 AHR
Saturday - Rest
Sunday-14 MLR @8:27, 139AHR
53.2 Miles total
It looks like the rest day really helped on Saturday as the AHRs were a little high throughout the week

This Week
Monday- 7 GA w/10x100 strides -DONE
Tuesday - 10 LT, w/middle 5 @ 6:50 pace
Wednesday - 5 Recovery
Thursday - 14 Mile MLR
Friday- 11 Mile MLR
Saturday - Rest
Sunday- 21 Mile LR
68 Miles Total - Yowsa!

I did get a new pair of shoes. Here they are:

This is the new Brooks Launch. I am not so sure about the colors, but who cares? It weighs just over 9 ounces. I'll be using them on a few faster paced runs initially and seeing how they feel. If they feel good, it's very conceivable I could wear them in the Chicago Half Marathon in September.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Story Behind Running for Cru

This blog has now been around for about 13 months. It looks like there are lot of new visitors coming here on a regular basis, so I think it's time to give a refresher on how and why this started.

Back in early 2008, I had decided that if I was going to run the Chicago Marathon for a fifth time, I was going to run for charity. As June approached, I still had not selected a charity to support. Early in June, my friend and co-worker Ken Fanaro and his wife Michelle's baby boy Cruciano was diagnosed with SMA Type 1. SMA is spinal muscular atrophy and is a devastating motor neuron disease that affects about 1 in 6,000 babies. It's not uncommon for children that have SMA Type 1 to not make it to the age of two. It became obvious that I would do something to support Cru and the Fanaro's battle with SMA.

I then chose to fundraise for FSMA - Families of Spinal Muscular. FSMA is the largest private funder of SMA research. They raise funds to help find a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Shortly after that, I started this blog titled "Running for Cru" to detail my 2008 Chicago Marathon training.

The fundraising went better than I could have ever imagined. We eclipsed the $3,00o mark within the first 24 hours on July 1st. By July 4th, we had surpassed $16,500. By the time the fundraising was completed in October shortly after the marathon, I was able to help raise $33,550 for FSMA with the help and support of hundreds of people.

Cru's battle with SMA was courageous. He fought a great fight and had the love and support of hundreds of people. His life ended incredibly too short on September 7th, 2008, just two days short of being five months old. He was only with us a short amount of time, but he touched the lives and hearts of so many. You can see pictures of him in the right margin near the top of the page. He will forever be missed and will always be in our hearts.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Livin' the Dream

Kevin Wills, one of my best friends, will undoubtedly tell you that he's living the dream when you ask him how he's doing. And even though things may not always be going his way at that point in time, it never stops him from telling you. I have occasionally taken to telling people that I am living the dream when they ask how I am doing. I strongly encourage you to try it. Most people seemingly go through their days asking people how they're doing and it almost becomes a habit of saying "Good, how are you?" Throw something out there like I am suggesting and I'll bet that 9 out of 10 times you'll at least get a smile with your response.

My point to that seemingly pointless story is that you can do what you want with your life. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Go to the park, a beach, a bike ride, a car ride with the windows down, whatever. Ruby Johnson, the wife of another one of my best friends (Tim), had a great blog post about this the other day. People often ask me how I can run like I do and say "I could never run a marathon." Do you think I came out of my mom's womb with running shoes on? I ran sporadically up until 2003. I decided I'd like to try to run a marathon that year (I was 26 years old then), so I signed up for the 2004 Chicago Marathon. I followed a very basic plan, and think I ran 15 miles in Week 1 and peaked somewhere in the mid- to upper 30's with my mileage. I always tell people that if someone has the desire to run a marathon, than they can do it. It may not be the best time of their life, but with some hard work and determination, I really think that anyone can cross the finish line.

It definitely helps having someone cheering for you along the way. I am forever grateful to my wife Tiffany for supporting me through my first 7 marathons and several half marathons. I have had my family, her family, friends, friends of friends and even people I don't know come out and cheer for me on race day. If I could bottle up that feeling of thousands of people cheering for you as you push yourself to your limits, I would.

As I have gotten older, I have an even greater desire to not be around people who say they can't do something. I guess the same can be said for the people who are constantly negative. If you don't like your situation, do something about it. Move. Get a new job. Make some new friends. Get off of your ass. Your situation isn't going to magically get better unless you take control of it. It's like waiting for that winning lottery ticket. Chances are really good that it's not coming.

All right. Soapbox is put away. Sorry for the topic bouncing. On to running.
Last Week:
Monday- 12 MLR @ 8:26 pace, 136 AHR
Tuesday - 5 Recovery @ 9:15 pace, 115 AHR
Wednesday -9 LT, w/middle 5 @ 6:50 pace, 173 AHR
Thursday - 14 MLR @8:23, 148 AHR
Friday- 5.1 Recovery @ 9:14, 125 AHR
Saturday - Rest
Sunday-18.5 Mile LR, with last 10 miles at 7:11. AHR for the 10 Marathon pace miles was 165.
This was a very good run. I didn't know how I'd react to 10 at goal marathon pace at this point in the training cycle. I had a hard time hitting 7:15 on the dot, but here is a breakdown of the 10 miles: 7:22, 7:21, 7:25, 7:04, 7:24, 7:13, 7:07, 7:07, 7:09 and a 6:33 to close 'er out. Throughout the cycle, I will simulate a 25th or 26th mile where I see if I can go sub 7 for the last mile or two in case that will be necessary on race day to hit my time goal. Easier said than done and probably easier done in training at mile 18 or 20 than at mile 25 or 26 in the real deal.
64 Miles total

This Week:
Cutback Week!
Monday- 5 Recovery
Tuesday - 8GA w/10x100 strides
Wednesday - 12 MLR
Thursday - 5 Recovery
Friday- 10 GA
Saturday - Rest
Sunday-15 Mile LR
55 Miles total