Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Carmel Marathon 2012

Traditionally, my spring marathon is Bayshore up in Traverse City, MI but I have a hard time sticking to my training. We have our annual work conference in mid-April and my training usually suffers while I'm out of town.  Once I get back, I never seem to be able to get back in to my training program.  With the Carmel Marathon moving it's date to April, the timing worked out perfect for me.  The last week of my taper would line up with my work conference & I wouldn't have to worry about missing any key workouts.  I still signed up for Bayshore as a back up race.  If things went bad at Carmel, I would still have plenty of time to recover to give it another shot 5 weeks later.
I woke up at 5:00am and had my normal race day breakfast of a Clif Bar, Nuun & coffee and by 6:15, I was on my way to the starting line. Another benefit of the Carmel Marathon was how close the race is to my house. It was relaxing to be able to sleep in my own bed the night before a race & not have to worry about getting up around the time most people are leaving the bar in order to get to the starting line on time.
The weather was almost perfect.  Temps were in the low 40's with an overcast sky and even though the forecast was calling for 11+ mph winds, it never became an issue.  I was holding out hope for the sun to come out at some point & I even wore my sunglasses but they ended up on top of my head after a few miles since they clouds never gave way.
I had 2 goals for the race.  Goal A was to go sub 3.  Goal B was to run under 3:05 & BQ. The original plan was to negative split the course by running 6:58/mile for the first half & then bringing it down to 6:41/mile for the last half.  I felt great in the opening few miles. I was a bit faster than my first half goal pace but I wasn't under 6:50. Due to the long lines at the porta-johns when I tried to make one last pit stop before the gun, I had to take a quick break between miles 3 & 4.  I had hoped that the urge would go away after a few miles but it only got worse. I thought to myself about how hilarious it would be if my bathroom break ended up causing me to miss either of my 2 goals by less than a minute.
After the bathroom break, I fell in with a group of about 5 or 6 guys who were keeping a pretty consistent pace of about 6:56/mile.  It was a a fun group and a few of them were a bit talkative.  I wish I could have contributed to the conversation but I was focused on the task at hand. One guy starting singing "Hurts So Good" & "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" and I remember thinking how pissed I was going to be if either of those songs were stuck in my head for the rest of the race.
By the 13 mile mark, I knew sub 3 wasn't in the cards and I decided to switch to Goal B. I was still running with the group and figured I'd stick with them all the way to the finish line. However, once we made the turn around mile 17 from the Monon on to 136th, the group fell apart.  Most of the guys started to pick up the pace &, while some started falling back. I was content to keep clicking off 6:55 - 6:58 miles.  I've had my share of late marathon meltdowns & I knew if I tried to stick with them that I'd end up paying for it.  I'd end up running most of the last 9 miles on my own.
I had some rough miles between 23 & 25 and the pace started to creep up in to the 7:20/mile range.  I hit my first mental low point at the aid station on the trails at Central Park.  I dropped both cups of Powerade that I tried to grab and it put me in a terrible mood.  I also felt bad for the 2 volunteers I soaked in the process. After that I just kept doing the math in my sugar deprived brain about what it would take to still BQ.  I figured that as long as the 3:05 pace group hadn't passed me then I was good.  That's when I turned around & saw the 3:05 pace group.  I'm not sure how many runners started with this group but by now there was only the pacer leader & 2 or 3 other guys.  I tried to stick with them for about a half mile but my legs just didn't have it.  I was mentally crushed.  The pace leader could tell I was struggling and tried to motivate me.  "All you need is 7:25 miles & you've got this." I wasn't sure if I could even hang on to that pace and I started thinking about how that damn bathroom break earlier in the race was going to cost me a trip back to Boston.
When I made the turn on to Main St. from Guilford, I could still see the 3:05 pace team in front of me. I realized I still had a chance to BQ if I left everything out on the road.  I picked up the pace & turned in my first sub 7 minute mile since mile 20. I made the trip down Main fairly confident that I had it. When I turned from Rangeline on to 126th, I was right behind the 3:05 pace leader.  He turned around & gave me a thumbs up. I knew I had my BQ.  Right before the finish line, I spotted my wife, who had run the 8K, and my Dad, who had made the trip down from Detroit to cheer me on, off to the side of the road. I high fived my wife & made my across the finish line. 3:04:18. A new PR by over 6 minutes and my first PR in the marathon in almost 4 years.
The Carmel Marathon is a great choice for a spring marathon.  The course is fast. It's a bit rolling but no major hills.  The organization is great.  It feels like it's been around for years even though this was only it's second running. Added bonus - Upland Brewing Company beers at the finish line. My only complaint, and it's a minor one, would be to change up the shirts over the previous year.  The color & design were the same as 2011 with the only change being the date.
As for my training, I stuck with my modified FIRST program.  I took the 3:10 training plan from the book "Run Less, Run Faster" and changed the goal training paces to fit what the McMillan Calculator said I should be capable of running if I was in shape for a 2:59 marathon.  I also eliminated the cross training in favor of getting in a trail run with the Wednesday night Eagle Creek group.  While I didn't get my sub 3, I was still able to PR & BQ on only 3 to 4 days of running per week.  I owe a lot to the Speed Demons group that meets at NIFS on Tuesdays & Thursday.  Without all of those guys pushing me through some tough track workouts every week, I doubt I would have had the same results.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carmel Marathon Training - Week 7 02/13/12 - 02/19/12

Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday AM - 13.1 miles
Wednesday PM - 6.68 miles (trail)
Thursday - 8.28 miles (Speed work - 800m repeats)
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 8.02 miles (6 @ tempo)
Sunday - 4.0 miles

Weekly Total - 40.08 miles

The downside of updating this blog on a regular basis is that I'm running out of things to say. I can tell you that I don't think I could ask for anymore in regards to how my training is going.  I'm still 9 weeks out from Carmel & anything can happen but I'm feeling very confident in my chances for a sub 3 hour marathon.  I'm really looking forward to my half marathon at the end of March since I feel like that will give me a pretty good idea of where I'm at.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Carmel Marathon Training - Week 6 02/06/12 - 02/12/12

Monday - 6.02 miles (tempo)
Tuesday - 10.07 miles (speed work - mile repeats w/warm up & cool down)
Wednesday - 6.38 miles (trail)
Thursday - Rest
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 20.23 miles
Sunday - Rest

So I'm six weeks in to the FIRST training plan & I haven't done a cross training workout yet.  I'm getting in almost all of my key running workouts but I just can't find the motivation to spin in the garage when I can go out and get in an extra run.  I don't think it's hurting my training.  Since starting the program, I'm down over 15lbs and I'm getting faster.  Doing 6x1600m repeats, all at 6:11 or faster, is something I haven't been able to do in years. Discipline has definitely been the key to the results that I'm seeing. While I'm flexible on what days I run which workouts, I know at the end of the week, I'll have completed all of them (except the cross training).  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Carmel Marathon Training - Week 5 01/30/12 - 02/05/12

Monday - 3.28 miles
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - 5.41 miles (trail)
Thursday - 8 miles (speed work-3 mile warm up, 4x200m, 3200m, 800m, 2 mile cool down)
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 18 miles
Sunday - Rest

Weekly Total - 34.69 miles

Saturday's long run was the highlight of my week.  Left the house at 5:40am and stepped out into wind, rain and 38*F temps.  Almost went back inside to change into some running tights but I have a stubborn habit of wearing shorts if the temperature is above freezing. Mapped out a new course to break up the monotony of the Monon Trail but still utilized it for around half of the run. I didn't realize when I planned it out that I'd have a steady incline of 1.5 miles heading straight into the wind & rain. I had to take my ear buds out and tuck them into my shorts since the wind kept blowing them out. After going the first 8 mile of of the run without seeing another runner, I was surprised at the number of people I saw after turning on to the rail-to-trail. With the weather conditions being what they were & with the early start, I thought I'd have the Monon to myself but there was at least another dozen & a half runners out braving the elements. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Planet Adventure Winter Trail Half Marathon

I was excited as soon as I found about about this race. I even skipped the Brewers Guild of Indiana Winterfest so that I could run. The idea of a night time trail run in the winter was so appealing to me that I skipped a day of drinking craft beer to put on some tights and a headlamp and run around in the woods in near freezing temps for 13 miles. I am pleased to report that the good people at Planet Adventure put on a great event that didn't disappoint.
You had the option of a quarter, half, & full marathon, each one made up of the appropriate number of 6.55 mile loops around Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.  Each race started 10 minutes apart and with 500 people signed up between all three races, I had some concerns about getting stuck behind slower runners on the trail.  The first mile was mostly traffic free but things started to get congested after that.  A few runners took to running off the trail to get around people but I tried to relax and pass where I could.  I knew that after mile 2, the course opened up while going around the bird sanctuary and that there would be plenty of room to pass people & make up time there.  Miles 3 to 5 were very runnable and I was able to settle in to a good rhythm. After there it got a bit interesting.  With all the rain/snow that had fallen over the last week & the temperature hovering right around freezing, the "swamp" loop lived up to it's name.  Shoe sucking mud for what seemed like a mile straight.  Some people tried to tip toe around it but I really didn't see the point and just charged through. It was wet and ridiculously cold but I'm sure I saved some time by not trying to avoid it. It's a trail race. You're going to get dirty. I may have had a different approach if I was running the full marathon but I wasn't worried about wet socks or cold feet on a half marathon.  From there the trail conditions approved and ran my first lap in 57:25.
The crowd thinned out a lot for the second loop. It was a completely different feeling than the first lap.  On my first time around the bird sanctuary, I turned around to see hundreds of headlamps running along Eagle Creek Reservoir, making their way down to the water.  On the second lap, I saw maybe a dozen lights behind me.  I was running with 2 other runners and we took turns passing each other until we arrived at the Lilly Lake aid station.  I stopped to drink some Heed and take a GU and lost sight of both of them.  One of them I would catch toward the end of fitness trail section, the other one I never saw again. When I arrived at the swamp loop the second time, the conditions had become even worse.  There were a few times that I thought my shoe was going to stay lodged in the mud.  Once I had cleared the mud, I pushed on to the finish line.  I ended up finishing in 1:58:02 & 29th out of 228. The finisher's medal is one of the best I have ever received. It's a cross section of a log with a piece of leather acting as the ribbon & Planet Adventure placard. Age group winners received an additional plaque with their age group standing to put on the back of the log.
Thanks to Planet Adventure for putting on a great race and thank you to all of the volunteers for standing out in the cold for 8+ hours.

Carmel Marathon Training - Week 4 01/23/12 - 01/29/12

Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - Rest
Friday - Rest
Saturday AM - 7.19 (Carmel Runners Group Run)
Saturday PM - 13.32 (Planet Adventure Winter Trail Half)
Sunday - Rest

Weekly Total - 20.51

I spent most of the week trying to recover from a pain in the arch of my foot.  It got so bad that I actually made an appointment with a podiatrist (which I now need to cancel). My foot started to feel pretty good on Thursday and by Friday, I was almost pain free.  I decided that I would try out my foot at the Carmel Runners Group Run on Saturday morning. I was already registered for the Planet Adventure Winter Trail Half (race report coming soon) that evening but I wanted to make sure I would be able to run it pain free before showing up at the starting line.  The last thing I wanted was to be running around the bird sanctuary at Eagle Creek & have to hike it back to the starting line due to injury.  I glad to say everything went well with both runs and my foot is still pain free. 
After my early fears of PF, I'm guessing that it was just a deep bruise caused by my 14 mile trail run breaking in my New Balance MT110s last week.  I loved the feel of the shoe but I think I'll stick with the Saucony Peregrines on the trails until after the Carmel Marathon.  I'm not saying the foot pain was caused by the MT110s but I'm not willing to risk losing almost an entire week of training, if I can avoid it by switching shoes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Carmel Marathon Training - Week 3 01/16/12 - 01/22/12

Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 7 miles (Treadmill Tempo)
Wednesday - Rest
Thursday - 9.38 miles (Speed work)
Friday - 14 miles (Trail)
Saturday - Rest
Sunday - Rest

Weekly Total - 30.38

Great week of training up until Saturday morning.  I woke up with pain in my foot which I thought was just a stone bruise from my first trail run in the MT110's.  Unfortunately, I'm starting to believe it is something worse.  First guess is Plantar Fasciitis but I'm not sure.  Most things I've read say that PF hurts the most first thing in the morning and dissipates as the day goes on.  My pain seems to come & go throughout the day based on how much I'm on my feet.  I've been rotating between icing & massaging with a tennis or golf ball most of my free time which seems to be offering some relief.  After 5 days of no running, I can't say that my condition has improved but it hasn't become any worse.  I'll continue to rest until Saturday's trail half & then make a game time decision for the race.  If it's still persisting after the weekend, it'll be time to make a trip to the doctor. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Carmel Marathon Training - Week 2 01/09/12 - 01/15/12

Monday - 3.1 miles
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - 7 miles (Tempo)
Thursday - 9 miles (Speed work)
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Rest
Sunday - 15 miles

Weekly Total - 34.1

Once again ran my three key workouts but failed to get in the cross training. Nailed my tempo run on Wednesday and hit my goal pace +/- 1 second of marathon pace on each mile but it think it cost me some speed on Thursday.  I was aiming for 3:00 minute 800m repeats and I was able to hit it on the first two but they became gradually slower. I ran my sixth & final interval in 3:11.  I really look forward to my Thursday speed work at NIFS.  Great group of guys to run with and it's definitely easier to do repeats on an indoor 200m track when you have other people suffering along with you.
Two weeks into the plan and I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm happy with the mileage that I've been getting in and my body seems to handling the increased work load as well.  I know I'm still 14 weeks out from the marathon but I'm fairly confident that if I'm able to continue to stick with the plan that I'll be able to go under three hours in April.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Carmel Marathon Training - Week 1 01/02/12 - 01/08/12

Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 5 miles (Treadmill tempo)
Wednesday - 6.2 miles (Trails)
Thursday - 8 miles (Speed work)
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 13.1 miles
Sunday - Rest

Weekly Total - 32.3

I did my 3 key workouts as prescribed by the FIRST plan but didn't get in any of the cross training. I was going to spin on Wednesday but the opportunity to hit the trails is always a more enjoyable option.  I'm happy with this week's training as a whole but I was a bit upset with not being able to maintain my goal pace on the tempo portion of Tuesday's treadmill session and on the mile repeats on Thursday.  I do realize though that the paces I had planned are for someone who is currently capable of running a sub 3 hour marathon & I still have 15 weeks to go. Briefly flirted with the idea of running 8 miles today to get in 40 miles for the week but I haven't had a 30+ miles week that didn't include a marathon or 50k in over 6 months.  Taking the extra day off this week will be beneficial as I start to ramp up the mileage in the weeks to come.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"It might be time to start looking at getting uncomfortable..."

Nice post by Travis Liles over at Run The Ultras on taking your training to a new level.  I love the last few sentences about if you want to improve your results, you're going to have to make your training uncomfortable. It's a nice reminder, with my spring marathon training starting this week, of what it'll take to achieve my goals in April. Approaching my training with the same attitude that I've had over the last few years will just lead to the same lack luster results. I'm going to have to wake up early on cold winter mornings that I'd much rather stay in bed. I'm going to have to push myself through speed work on days that I'd rather just head out for some easy miles. If I'm going to run a sub 3 hour marathon, the road to get there is going to be uncomfortable