Monday, November 28, 2016

Marathon Number Six - Week Two.

Week two of training looks like this:

Sunday, Rest or cross training
Monday, General aerobic + speed 8M w/ 10x100m strides
Tuesday, Rest or cross training
Wednesday, General aerobic 10M
Thursday, Rest or cross training
Friday, Recovery 5M
Saturday, Medium-long run 13M w/8M @ MP


Weight: Still 179. At least I made it through Thanksgiving week without getting any fatter.

Health: Both Piriformis muscles are sore.  Stretching helps.


Sunday - Scheduled rest day from running.  I did one set of stretches for the Piriformis, some push-ups (2 sets of 30) and went for a slow 3 mile jog with Cindi and Copper. We drove down to Little Bennett Park and hit the trail.

Of the three of us, Copper easily had the most fun.  He trots along beside us with his doggy grin on display as if there is nothing in the world he enjoys more.  As problematic as he can be at home, when we are out he is very obedient.  When other people are on the trail, he falls in beside me without needing to be told.  I always place myself between him and other people or dogs that are on the trail and he knows that he isn't allowed to go say hi.  For the most part, he shows no interest in other people but he will sometimes show interest in other dogs.  Occasionally I will have to remind him to heal but that isn't necessary very often.

When we get home he is typically more affectionate than normal for about an hour or so.  I guess dogs get an endorphin buzz from running just like people do.  Unfortunately the buzz doesn't last and he eventually reverts to his anxious self.

Monday - This workout is challenging.  I ran seven miles at relaxed pace and then did the strides.  By the time I was half way through I was pretty well spent.  It's difficult to focus on proper form after you reach the point of exhaustion. I tried.

Tuesday - This was a scheduled rest day (SRD) from running.  I was grateful for that because it was raining steadily most of the day.  On my lunch break I jogged over to the covered picnic area on campus to do my PT exercises.  I'll try to describe those:

The first exercise is to stand on one foot about a 18 inches away from a picnic table.  Bending at the knee, you extend the raised foot behind you in a straight line while you reach out and touch the bench of the picnic table with your hand. I do two sets of 20.

The next exercise is simply to stand on one leg and slowly sit on the bench.  The idea is to do it slowly and in a controlled way.  I do two sets of 10.

In between those sets I do push-ups and crunches.  I did 80 push-ups and 50 crunches.

After work I went to the gym with Cindi.  I did some stretches but got bored while waiting for her to finish her workout so I ran 2 miles on the Treadmill.

Wednesday - This is the dreaded mid-week "medium long" run.  I don't know if everyone dreads these, but I do.  Trying to carve out 90 minutes to run on a weekday is tough.  This time of year, with such little day light, it gets harder to make it work.  For me, the choice is either get it done before work or on my lunch break.  I don't run after work very often.  The weather forecast for today made the choice easier; rain early but clearing skies by lunch time.  So I took a long lunch to run and will make up the extra 40 minutes at the end of the day.

The run itself was OK.  I've run around campus so many times that I know the distance between most areas by heart.  Since I don't really care for running in circles, the challenge is to find a route that doesn't repeat too many times.  I struggled with some mental fatigue and kept second guessing my route.

Should I do the walking trail twice?  I hate the walking trail, it's hilly and the pavement is in terrible shape.  Maybe I'll just go do the one mile loop out on New Hampshire Avenue a bunch of times? Then I won't have to think about it.  I hate doing loops, screw that.  etc, etc...

Those inner conversations can be maddening after a while.  That's one of the reasons I enjoy running on the towpath so much.  For a 10 mile run I run 5 miles out and then turn around.  Zero thinking about the route which leaves me more time to obsess over my pace and other shit that doesn't matter.

Thursday - Scheduled rest day.  I actually rested for once. The only cross training I did was push-ups.

Friday - My Friday recovery run was decent.  I tried to mix it up by hitting some parts of campus that I don't usually run. More for a change of scenery than anything else.  I was thinking about the workout that was on the schedule for Saturday and made a real effort to keep my pace slow and relaxed. I ran the last mile a little faster than I wanted to but my average pace was 8:35.

Saturday - The workout for this day was to run 13 miles with the last 8 at marathon pace (MP).  I'm not sure how you are supposed to know what MP is so early in the training cycle.  I know what I would LIKE my marathon pace to be (7:50) but I don't know how realistic that is at this point in time.  I have run a marathon faster than that, but that was two years ago and I was in better shape than I am right now.  I wasn't sure what my true MP was, but I decided I would shoot for 7:50 and be happy if my average was anything under 8:00. MP workouts make me very nervous.  I woke up a couple times the night before thinking about this one.

I opted to do this workout on the C&O Canal towpath. This should come as no surprise to anyone because it's my favorite place to run. I decided to park at Noland's Ferry and run 2.5 miles upstream, then return back to my car so I could take in an energy gel and some water before tackling the MP portion of the workout.  The temperature was in the upper 30's at the start. I decided to wear shorts, a long sleeve tech shirt and a lightweight quarter-zip sweatshirt.  I also wore light gloves and a knit cap.  I also packed a few other pieces of gear that I could change into if I decided I was too cold (not likely) or too warm (more likely).

I was cold for the first mile but I knew I would warm-up soon.  Keeping my pace slow for the warm-up miles was foremost on my mind.  I tried to enjoy the scenery and distract myself from worrying over the upcoming MP miles. By the time I hit the turn around point I was too warm and decided I would make a change when I got back to the car.  I jogged the 2.5 miles back, ate the Lemon-Sublime Gu that I left in the car and drank some water.  I ditched the sweatshirt in favor of a light running jacket that has holes cut in the sides to vent out the heat and took off down the trail in the other direction.  Splits for the first five miles: 8:45, 8:26, 8:39, 8:17, 8:30. Average pace was 8:33.

I headed downstream toward the Mouth of Monocacy Aqueduct. The first mile I really struggled to find my pace.  I was going too fast at first but then over compensated and slowed down too much.  In the past I have been good at finding the pace I want and locking into it.  I struggled with that this time.  The first mile was 7:44 which is close to what I wanted but a little too fast.  I tried to back off just a little but my second mile was also at 7:44.  I was concerned that I would be able to hold that pace but when the third mile came in at 7:45 I just went with it.

I know that a 5 second difference doesn't sound like much and it really isn't that big a deal, HOWEVER I pride myself in being able to dial in my splits very close to what I want.  Not being able to do that tells me either I'm in better shape than I thought or I had to push too hard to run that fast.  MP never feels easy to me, even when I ran a 3:21 in 2014 it didn't feel easy the entire race. The difference then is I KNEW when I was running MP and when I wasn't.  This time I was looking at my Garmin way too much to see my pace instead of feeling it.  Maybe I'm over-thinking it and I'll develop the feel for that pace again over time.

On the positive side, I ran 8 miles faster than my goal pace at the end of hard week.  My legs were tired going into it but I have no soreness today (Sunday) at all.  I'm taking a rest day and trying not to eat everything in sight because my weight still hasn't budged.  Tomorrow starts another week of training with a 10 mile easy run!

Saturday, November 26, 2016


I ran in my first ever organized race today. The White Oak Classic is sponsored by the FDA (where I work) and takes place on the FDA campus off of New Hampshire Avenue. I guess I got a little excited by running with other people and feeling a little competitive because I finished with a personal best time of 29:15. I was thrilled to make it in less than 30 minutes! I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures but I didn't feel like carrying my phone through the race.

Note: I found this in my "Drafts" folder today (11/26/2016).  I thought it was funny, so I published it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Marathon Number Six - Week One

I was out for a walk today and decided that I want to write more.  I'm going to run another marathon and writing about my training will give me a good excuse to do just that.  My goal is to post once a week (at least) over the next eighteen weeks to record my progress.  So, here goes...

Race: The Two Rivers Marathon.
Goal: I need sub 3:30:00 to qualify for Boston again. I'm shooting for 3:25:00 (7:50 avg).

Weight - 179.  This is about 9 pounds heavier than where I need to be.  I have added a little bit of muscle in my upper body by lifting weights and other exercises but that can only account for a pound or two at the most.  For some reason, my resolve to avoid junk food has been very intermittent for the past couple months.  I can do well for a few days but then I find myself screwing up and I can't seem to stop myself from overeating.  I need to drop the weight very soon because once marathon training kicks into high gear it will be very difficult if not impossible.  Training requires a lot of calories. Trying to lose weight and run a lot of miles leaves you feeling exhausted all the time and increases your chances for injury.  It is time to get this shit under control!

Injuries - Nothing acute, but I'm recovering from Piriformis syndrome.  I struggled with this all summer but finally broke down and went to see my PT.  I've been rehabbing for a couple months and making good progress.

Training Plan - I am using a plan from Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger.  It'a an 18 week plan that caps at a 55 mile week.  I've used this plan in the past with mixed results.  The most success I've had with this plan is when I added a some easy paced runs to bump each week up by 7-10 miles.  I don't plan to do that this time around, but I will get some cross training on an indoor bike.

Training Buddies - I plan to run the marathon and as many weekend long runs as possible with two friends, Linda and Jesse.  We have run a lot together in the past year.  All three of us run at about the same pace and enjoy each other's company.  It's nice to have people to chat with when you're slogging out a 2 hour long run!

Week One
Sunday, Rest or cross training
Monday, Lactate threshold 8M w/4M @ HM pace
Tuesday, Rest or cross training
Wednesday, General aerobic 9M
Thursday, Rest or cross training (Thanksgiving)
Friday, Recovery 4M
Saturday, Medium long run 12M

I'm writing this on Tuesday, so I've only had one actual workout so far.  Well sort of anyway. Week one of marathon training has been a bit of a shock to the system for me in the past. Even though I have a decent base built up, hitting those workouts in week one has been a struggle.  This time around I decided to follow the first week for two weeks prior to starting but with the mileage reduced a little bit.  I'll update this post at the end of the week and let you know how that works out.

The weather on Monday was cold and very windy so I opted to do the lactate threshold workout on a treadmill at the gym.  Like a lot of runners I know, I don't enjoy running on the treadmill.  However, with the high winds I felt like the best chance for me to actually hit and hold HM pace was to dial up the pace on a TM.  I ran the first 4 miles at easy pace (~8:30) and the last 4 miles at 7:40.  I probably could have gone faster but I didn't want to push my luck.

Tuesday is a cross training day.  I did all my PT exercises and stretching.  In addition to that I did a few curls and 60 push-ups.  I also took the dog for a 2 mile walk.

Wednesday called for a 9 mile general aerobic run.  I did that run in my neighborhood and it went fine.

Thursday was Thanksgiving.  I did a pretty good job of not over-indulging while still having a good time.

Friday's recovery run was fun.  Cindi and I took Copper down to the C&O Canal towpath.  Cindi ran four mile and I ran five.  I ended up doing 2.5 at her pace and 2.5 at mine.

For my "medium long" run on Saturday I decided to go back to the towpath.  I had an "oops" moment where I didn't hit the start button on my watch. I don't know what happened; either I forgot to start it or I made a mistake.  Whatever the reason, I ended up running about a half mile or so without my GPS so I had to guess where to turn around.  I got pretty close.

The run itself was OK although I wasn't feeling my most energetic.  I slogged it out and wound up with 8:21 average pace.