October 13 – 19, 2014

Picture from last week's half-marathon.

Picture from last week’s half-marathon.

Ok, let’s get down to business.

On Monday I decided to change plans and run the half in Indy and race CIM again as my A race. That gives me more time to get in shape, and I am now excited to do a better job of building some cumulative fatigue.

There was a serious storm Tuesday morning, so we pushed the track workout to Wednesday. It was hard to get out the door Tuesday morning, but I did it. The weather for the Wednesday morning track workout was pretty great. Greg, Hunter and I all have the same paces, so we were able to share the work. We started the workout with 1 mile at marathon pace, but without a watch. The goal pace is 5:59; Hunter ran 6:04 and Greg and I ran 6:05. Then we did 5 x 1200m with a target of 4:13 each. They did a (really fast) 6th rep while I had to visit the bathroom. Then another mile at marathon pace before cool down, but with the watch.

Thursday was my 3rd day of doubles in a row. My legs definitely have started to feel it. Luckily, a big group of us got together Thursday morning (Greg, Lindsay, Ashley, Emily, Cañas, Hunter, and I). Friday I had an early meeting, and I failed to get out the door for a run. I kept trying to find a way to fit in a run, but with my first meeting at 7am and my last meeting at 6:45, I just couldn’t (didn’t) make a run happen. Saturday was also a fail. We left at 7am to take Zavier to Knoxville for the state cross country championships. I thought I would have time to run in Knoxville, but we ate lunch instead and then drove straight back. When we got back, I was too tired from driving all day to get out the door for a run :(

Luckily, I did have a good workout on Sunday. I ran the Music City Half-marathon as a workout. The plan was to run a two mile warmup and then the first three miles of the race at marathon pace (5:59), the next three miles (4-6) at half-marathon pace (5:40), the next three miles (7-9) at marathon pace, and then run easy to finish.

I mostly stuck to the plan. The first three were 5:59, 5:51, 5:55. The second three were 5:43, 5:37, 5:38. The third three were 5:55, 5:50, 5:49 (a little fast). After that I was supposed to slow down to an easy pace. The HM pace miles felt tough, but everything else felt pretty easy, so I need up running 5:50, 6:02, 6:07, and 5:57. At mile 12 I realized I could get under 1:17, so I picked it up just a little. Two half-marathon PRs in two weeks, and neither was a full effort. This was the first time that “marathon pace” felt like something I might actually be able to hold for 26 miles (on a good day). This bodes well :)


Post-race selfie with my true love. Two new PRs :)

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Also, Erica (my wife) ran her second half-marathon this weekend. She dropped 3 minutes off her time in just 3 weeks. Last time I paced her for most of the race, but this time she did it all on her own. It was really fun to run an out-and-back race and get to see my wife crushing it on my way back.

Monday no run (storming & Alexis off for Federal holiday) 8 miles @ 7:27 w/Dave
Tuesday 5 miles @ 7:45 8 miles @ 7:29 w/Greg while pushing Max in the stroller
Wednesday 2 mile warmup
1 mile at MP 6:05 (w/o watch)
5 x 1200m w/45 sec rests
(4:10, 4:13, 4:11, 4:08, 4:02)
1 mile at MP 5:54 (w/ watch)
2 mile cool down
 6.5 miles easy @ 7:19 w/ East Nasty
Thursday  9 miles @ 7:45 group run  5 miles @ 7:14
Friday no run no run
Saturday no run no run
Sunday 2 mile warmup
Music City Half-Marathon in 1:16:56 (PR)
2 mile cool down

Post-race with Scott Bennett and Erica after CIM last year.

Post-race with Scott Bennett and Erica after CIM last year.

One interesting side-effect of the decision to run CIM again this year is that it is really easy to compare my training last year to this year. Here is the post from the same week last year. My workouts were definitely better this year. Last week I did the same workout as this week last year, but this time I ran it faster with less rest between reps. The downside is that last year I had just completed 6 solid weeks whereas this year I feel like I am just getting started again. However, what I know now is that last year my training died at the end. Hopefully this year I can peak right.

A Change in Plans

Three weeks until Indy Monumental.

I just don’t feel ready. I have lacked the dedication and commitment needed to really run a great marathon. Scott says “You can fake half-marathon fitness, but you can’t fake marathon fitness.” Last week, I think I did a decent job of faking half-marathon fitness, but I am terrified of racing a marathon in 3 weeks.

Then my father-in-law called Erica to ask if I was going to run CIM again. It was a nice family visit last year and they wondered if we wanted to do it again. Erica and I talked about it and she liked the idea of going back to Sacramento to see her family.

Then I talked with Dave and asked if I could run a less-than-full-effort marathon in Indy and then do CIM as the goal race. He had a much better idea: race the half in Indy, train for 5 more weeks, and race CIM.

BINGO! New plan :)

I don’t want to just delay a suffer-fest. So I am going to commit to some changes:

  1. I am going get back to posting my training every week.
    This helps me keep a realistic eye on how things are going as well as holds me accountable. I used to know weekly mileage down to the 10th of the mile, but recently Dave would ask me the previous week’s mileage and the best I could do was 60-ish.
  2. I am going to stick to the plan.
    If the training plan says 8 miles in the morning and 5 in the evening, that is what I am going to do. 10.5 in the morning and nothing in the evening isn’t “close enough.” Neither is 5 in the AM and 5 in the PM.
  3. I am going to hurt more.
    I have been way too comfortable the past 12 weeks. If there aren’t aches when walking down the stairs in the morning then I am not really training for a marathon.

As for last week, I didn’t keep good logs. Here are the highlights:

Tuesday: 10 x 800m w/ 30 sec rests
Splits: 2:46.8, 2:40.3, 2:48.0, 2:46.8, 2:48.9, 2:47.2, 2:44.2, 2:45.3, 2:44.0, 2:38.9 (Avg: 2:45)
These are much shorter rests than “Yasso 800s,” but it is still a similar predictor. I ran this workout with headphones and music (a first, but maybe not the last time).

Saturday: The Middle Half in 1:17:23 (PR)
I ran this hard, but not at 100%. It is nice that I ran this a few seconds than last year without killing myself and in worse weather. It was a little boring since I was by myself from 0.5 miles until the finish. I passed a guy around mile 10 and the second place woman around 11.5.

The Middle Half is an amazingly well-done race. I hope I get to race it every year.

Sunday: Shelby Parks 6 mile trail race
10733514_10100876795147719_1902115752_nThis was on the dirt trails in Shelby Park, which is by far my favorite place to run in Nashville. I had no business running this the day after a half-marathon PR, but Nashville Running Company was putting it on, and I happened to wake up in time to make it to the start line.

This was a really fun one. I went out pretty hard and then my right glute started cramping pretty bad. I dialed it back a bit and hoped no one would catch me (I was in 3rd place). I committed to myself that I would not get into a sprint finish since that would probably be the easiest way to hurt myself. Luckily it didn’t come to that and I maintained 3rd place. I think I ran around 35:30.

It’s cool that NRC let’s me race for free but not contend for the prizes. The unfortunate part is that they leave me out of the results too. I might as well just pay the entry fee and get reimbursed :-/

Anyway, not a bad week, but it wasn’t very good mileage. I think I only ran about 40 miles for the week. Time to get my ass back in gear.

Let’s do this, together

Four weeks.

In four weeks we will find ourselves 26.2 miles away from completing a journey that we started many weeks ago. We will spend the morning doing something that has become routine: clicking off miles, one at a time. The first miles will likely feel easy and will be full of excitement (and maybe a little too much conversation). The middle miles will take some focus and we will have to work a little harder to hit our paces. Then we will get to the final miles…

The final miles are never the same twice. The final miles are the hardest. The final miles are where the unexpected happens. The final miles are what make us marathoners.

We are still a long way from the final miles. Like the marathon itself, marathon training can also be broken into three segments. The first weeks of marathon training are exciting and easy; the middle weeks require focus and dedication. Now we are in the final weeks of marathon training.

The final weeks of marathon training are always the toughest for me. Indy Monumental will be my 5th marathon (and the 7th one I have trained for). Each time, it is the last few weeks of training where I have had the hardest time. Hopefully that is normal.

Warning: this is going to get personal
Argh! I don’t know how you guys do it. Training for 18 weeks for one race is hard. I have really struggled to stay focused and dedicated. It would be easy to make excuses and blame it on the weather, or the stress of work, or the stress of family, or any number of other things that aren’t really the problem. I have struggled to get enough sleep. I have struggled to eat enough. My sodium is constantly low, making it harder to recover from hard efforts. My body hurts. I have started dreading even the easy runs. Maybe you can relate to one of those, or maybe you have a different set of challenges.

I am now in a place where big goals that seemed attainable when we started this training cycle now feel like they are slipping from my grasp. It is hard to keep going. It is hard to ignore that little voice in my head that keeps suggesting I could give up.

Marathoners don’t give up.

The good news is: We still have four weeks.
The metephorical hay is not yet in the barn. Like the final miles of the marathon itself, we can’t make up for lost ground in the final weeks. What we can do is keep pressing forward. Set micro-goals, celebrate their completion, and set your sights on the next small accomplishment.

Oh, and don’t do anything stupid. We have all come too far to screw it up now. In four weeks, I will see you in Indy. I’ll be the bald guy in the Nashville Running Company singlet. It is going to #BeMonumental.


Indy Monumental Week 3

This was scheduled to be a down week. I killed it :)

The week started off like any other with a Monday morning run with Alexis.

Tuesday was hot and humid, but I still had a solid 6 x 1600m workout. The goal was to run these at 5:35-5:40 pace with 45 seconds rest between them. After the first two I felt that I could run that pace for a half-marathon; after the 3rd one I was sure I couldn’t. I took a little extra rest after the 3rd one and then ran the 4th one too fast. Splits were [5:38, 5:38, 5:34, 5:25, 5:34, 5:35]

Wednesday morning I pushed max in the stroller and ran East Nasty with Erica. Pushing a kindergartener is definitely harder than the last time I pushed Max in the stroller. That evening Greg and I ran two loops of the East Nasty route pretty quick in the rain, but still slower than marathon pace (6:36 average). That feels like a weird pace that is harder than an easy run, but not hard enough to count as a workout. Still, it was a lot of fun :)

I was supposed to run Thursday – Sunday, but I didn’t. Instead I had fun with Erica on our little weekend getaway to Destin, FL. It was good for the soul and good for the body – somethings are more important than marathon training.

Now I am back and it is back to work. Well-rested and motivated to put in the work.

Monday 5 miles easy.
Tuesday Threshold workout: 6 x 1600m + drills
Wednesday 4 miles easy while pushing a stroller with Erica and East Nasty 7 miles at 6:36 average pace
Thursday  7 miles easy Flight to Florida
Friday “cross train”: sailing more sailing
Saturday “cross train”: casual swimming in the ocean recovery run at 20 minute pace aka long walk on the beach with Erica
Sunday “cross train”: cruising around on a jet ski with Erica “cross train”: standup paddle boarding in the gulf

Vacation Email Lifehack

I’m on a plane. Then I’m going to be on a boat. Then I’m going to be on a beach where I will probably post one of those annoying “legs on the beach” selfies. Then I am going to eat some really good food and drink copious amounts of wine.

In order to enjoy it fully, I need to do a good job of disconnecting (this is really hard for me). The problem is that I also need to be available in case something urgent comes up (the other problem may be the I have no self-control). Knowing I am available if needed makes it easier to m be unavailable unless needed. Regardless, I came up with a pretty badass way to disconnect from email (unless needed).

This solution even keeps me disconnected when I break down and check email from my phone.

Step 1: only use gmail or Google apps (sorry, only way the hack works)

Step 2: create an auto-responder.
If your email address is johndoe@gmail.com, let people know that they can still reach you by re-sending their email to johndoe+urgent@gmail.com. This works by using the unlimited gmail+ email addresses.

Step 3: create an email filter from a search for “to:-johndoe+urgent@gmail.com”
Set the message to “skip the inbox” and tag them “vacation”

Step 4: go on vacation

Step 5: check your email while on vacation
The only emails in your inbox are the urgent ones.

Step 6: when you return, process the vacation folder and turn off the filter and auto-responder.

Now, I am going to go relax. :)

Here is how I actually ended up processing my vacation folder:

  1. Using the Gmail web interface, I searched for “label:vacation is:unread” and quickly selected all of the messages I could completely ignore.
  2. I then chose “Mark as read” for the group of messages selected in group 1 (removing them from my search view).
  3. I scanned the remaining messages for anything I just needed to review or read and read those.
  4. I then moved the remaining messages from my search query to my inbox.
  5. Tured off the auto responder.
  6. Back in business with a relatively small inbox :)

Indy Monumental Week 2

Last week I stated that my goal for this week was to “fill in some more boxes,” meaning to run more doubles. I failed at that. Still, it wasn’t a terrible week.

My left calf has been bugging me off and on since that mile race a couple of weeks ago. This week the calf was fine during the hill repeats on Tuesday, but destroyed me on a relatively easy run on Thursday. I think I am going to try dry needling and see if I can’t get it fixed.

While I didn’t get in as many runs or as much mileage as I wanted to, I did have a good 18 mile run. I was going to run extra and get up to 20, but my calf started to hurt again during the last mile. This marathon-specific cycle is getting off to a slow start, but I still feel confident that it will all come together at the right time.

The highlight of the week was definitely running with Erica (my wife). Last year we ran together quite a bit. We ran Bongo to Bongo on Sunday morning with a group training for the Nashville Women’s half-marathon. I think if I play my cards right, Erica might let me run the Women’s half with her.

Next week is scheduled to be a down week. That is good b/c it is also going to involve some downtime for me. I plan to take recovery very seriously next week. I am also going to do some “cross training” in the form of sailing along the Gulf Coast.

Dave had me scheduled to run the Best Buddies 5k, but since I am out of town I might hop in a 5k in Florida. Racing when traveling is always fun – you get to meet new people and never know who your competition will be. It looks like there is a race not far from where we are staying, so I will probably jump in and introduce Northern Florida to Nashville Running Company :)

Monday 5 miles easy
Tuesday 6 miles including 10 x hill repeats (3 short, 4 long, 3 short) + drills kickball
Wednesday  6 miles easy with East Nasty
Thursday  8 miles hilly
Had trouble with my right calf and had to cut this short.
Friday  Gave my calf some rest
Saturday  18 easy
Sunday  10 easy

Yeah, only 75 days left. I am going to have to run more than that. :-/

Indy Monumental week 1

The Summer of Speed is over so it is time to start training for the Indy Monumental Marathon. Life got in the way and the Spring season did not go how I had hoped. Then I spent the Summer racing and focusing on shorter distances in an effort to not get burnt out. Now, I am excited to start ramping up the miles, working on my strength and endurance, and seeing if my new mid-distance PRs can translate to better form and a faster marathon.

This was the first week and it is going to take me a couple of weeks to shift gears.

Monday 5 miles easy
Tuesday 6 x 1000m @ I pace w/ 2:00 rest + drills
3:16, 3:18, 3:16, 3:16, 3:16, 3:14
Wednesday 5 miles easy (East Nasty) 8 miles easy (Shelby dirt trails)
Thursday 10 miles hilly (this was TOUGH for me)
Friday 6 miles easy (Lipscomb dirt trail)
Saturday Enthusiastic cheering for Erica and the NRC race team at the Tomato Fest 5k
Sunday 15 miles w/ 6 miles working from 6:24 – 6:03 (very humid)

I missed some runs and didn’t get as much mileage as I was supposed to. I also accidentally lost 4 pounds early in the week which I think is what made Thursday’s run so incredibly tough for me. On the positive side, I was glad that Greg and I nailed our goal paces on the 6 x 1000m and glad we did the 6th rep when the schedule called for 5-6.

During Sunday’s long run I was able to make an adjustment to my stride that made it feel like I was floating along like an East African. The adjustment was to focus on picking my feet up quickly (while still focusing on keeping my hips forward).

Next week I am going to run a couple of more doubles to fill in more boxes. I also want to start doing drills twice a week instead of just once.

My Summer of Speed is Over

I am done. This was a great experiment, but I am tired of racing every weekend and ready to really start training like a marathoner again. While I had initially intended for the Summer of Speed to last a couple of more weeks, I did at least end on a very good note…

As of last weekend, I am officially the fastest* man†‡ in history§!

In 2012, Mark Miller put on the Music City Mile (great race, we should make it happen again). During the lead up to that race, Mark was talking about the possibility of single-age state records being broken. Somehow this seemed like an attainable goal to me. While I only ran a 5:08 that year, I never conceded that the goal was out of reach. Last Fall I took a shot at the record for 36 year old men (4:51.7) and fell short (4:54). Last weekend I had another shot at the Smyrna Parks Dash for Cash, 8 days before I turn 37.


Going into the race I felt well-prepared to run under 4:51, but until you do it you never really know. Dave (coach) and Koko (training partner) ran with me to help with pacing. My plan was to run an even race with 71 second quarters (1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44). Justus David was also there, so I wasn’t thinking about racing at all and just wanted to hit my time.

Standing at the start line I didn’t feel particularly ready. Erica and Zavier were there to watch as were most of the people I train with, so the pressure was on. The gun went off and we took off. I tried to run relaxed and focus on keeping my hips forward and feeling graceful. The start was a slight incline and after about 250m we turned right. At the 1/4 marker Dave mentioned that we were a little fast and we went through in 67 seconds. I backed off the pace a little to make sure I didn’t crash and burn and let Justus go. At the 1/2 mark I looked at my watch and saw 2:23 which was 1 second slow of my target. I immediately worried that I had accidentally slowed too much and might not be able to make it. There was a weird S-turn that we had to straighten out, so I didn’t really notice anything else until we hit the 3/4 mark in 3:33. Right on schedule! At that point I heard Dave yelling for me to speed up, then Koko started yelling for me to speed up. I felt great and started to push harder. I kept accelerating until the clock came into view.

There were two clocks at the finish line. The one on the left was messed up and not readable – it looked like it came into view at 4:50. The one on the right was reading 1:05:30. I was kinda confused by the clocks and started to realize that I missed my goal. I was in 3rd place, but while looking at the clocks I was passed and found myself in 4th place. I didn’t want to give up, so I ran hard through the finish and stopped my watch.

Only I didn’t stop my watch. Or I did, but it was acting wonky and kept going (was set to “elapsed time” instead of “time”). I thought my watch said 4:42 when I crossed the line, but when I looked down for verification it was over 5 minutes and still going. I knew the first 2 guys were younger than me, but started to worry that the 3rd place guy could also be 36. Luckily when I asked him he said he was 31 and asked if I was 40. (uh, thanks?) All that was left to do was stand around and wait for the official results to know if I hit my time or not. I was pretty sure, but not positive.

After pestering the results tent a couple of times I learned that I had run 4:42.15. I found Erica and told her, but she corrected me and let me know the results were posted and I ran a 4:42.50. I assumed I misheard the results guy, but it turns out I ran 4:42.15 chip, 4:42.50 gun. Either way it was well below the mark and I was now a single-age state record holder in the mile.

Notice how this side of the clock is completely readable :)

Notice how this side of the clock is completely readable :)

In the competitive running world this is a pretty inconsequential record. But it is my record and I worked for it and stayed focused on it and I got it. Next year I will try to get the 37 year old record.

Now, it is time for marathon training to start. I am done racing for a while and am excited to see if this little experiment will translate to a more efficient and faster marathon once I put in some miles.

* on a certified 1 mile road race course with official timing
† man must be a current resident of the State of Tennessee
‡ man must be 36 years old at the time of the race
§ races run entirely in the State of Tennessee

Summer of Speed: Week 10

Monday: 5.1 miles @ 8:35
Ran the Monday morning loop with Britt, Alexis & Matt. My legs were pretty beat up from the miles last week.

Tuesday: 3 x 1k, 6 x 200m
Trying to do some mile-specific workout in July. The goal for the 1k repeats was 3:20-3:17 with 3:00 recoveries. I ran 3:19, 3:18, 3:17. Afterwards I put on the track spikes for the 200m repeats, but didn’t run any of them all out. Those were in 33, 32, 33, 31, 32, 30.

Wednesday: AM 7.6 @ 7:15, PM 4.1 @ 6:47
Both runs were with East Nasty. I ran the extra 2 before and after the AM run. The evening run was quicker and I didn’t add on.

Thursday: 5.8 @  8:15
Ran on the dirt trails with Christopher.

Friday: Firecracker 5000m in 16:56
Unlike recent races, I ran an actual warmup for this one. My left calf was feeling pretty sore and my legs were stiff – I needed a warmup to get things loose. Standing at the start line I felt dread, but then the gun went off and it was a race.

The weather was perfect (for July 4th). I think I ran pretty even splits. I wish I could have run faster, but it is nice to have a legit sub-17 road PR in the books. I ended up taking 3rd overall and was awarded a couple of really cool etched glasses – definitely one of the coolest trophies I have ever received.

Saturday: off
I stayed up really late on celebrating Freedom. That resulted in my sleeping until almost 11am on Saturday. I could have forced an evening run, but I decided to give myself a break.

Sunday: 16 miles @ 7:18
This was my longest run since February (or maybe even January). I was unreasonably nervous about it, but it ended up being a pretty easy run. Matt and I ran a mix of dirt trails, greenways, and some ridiculous hill on the roads. Aside from Matt pushing the pace a couple of times*, I never really worried about being able to run the full 15 miles (which ended up being 16 miles).

Summary:  50 miles
I recovered from the previous week’s mileage surge, had a good track workout, and ran a new 5k PR on the roads. Next week I hope to push the mileage back up to around 70 so that I can continue to build a base for marathon training.

* I was the one guilty of pushing the pace. Matt said he didn’t want to read me blaming him on my blog, so I kinda had to.

Summer of Speed: week 9

This week was a little different. Last Sunday Zavier, Carter, Jacob, and Henry left for Michigan to visit their maternal grandmother. Erica, Cali, and Max flew to California to visit Erica’s family. This left me all alone in the house, so I figured I might as well run a lot.

Monday:  AM 6.0 miles at 8:05, PM 6.1 miles @ 7:41
Started the week with a run around downtown with Alexis – just like every other week. In the evening I ran a shortened route on the dirt trails of Shelby with Christopher.

Tuesday: AM 12 x 300m @ goal mile pace, PM kickball
I want to do some mile-specific stuff this Summer, so Dave has me do 12x300m targeting 52 seconds each w/ 90 seconds rest between them. I have never run 300s before and struggled a little with the pacing. Overall I hit more 51s than anything and only one rep was too slow.

Also, we are trying to work on my form a little. During the reps I was focused on keeping my hips forward (I tend to sit when I run). We also did a full set of drills after.

The reps were: 51, 49, 49, 51, 51, 53, 51, 52, 49, 51, 51, 49

Wednesday: AM 7.7 miles @ 7:23, PM 8.1 miles @ 8:10
The morning run was with East Nasty. I added on the extra 2 before and after the run. The evening run was on the dirt trails of Shelby with Lindsay, Emily, and Leah. It was nice to not run the same East Nasty route again, especially since it was so hot and muggy.

Thursday: AM 8 miles @ 7:54, PM 8.2 miles @ 7:05
Morning and evening runs were both on the dirt trails at Shelby. The morning run was with Christopher. For the evening run I threw on some headphones and ended up running a little progression run. I forced myself to back off the last mile since I wanted to make sure I was ready to go again in the morning.

Friday: AM 8.1 miles @ 7:45, PM 8.1 miles @ 7:26
The morning run was on the dirt trails of Shelby with Christopher. My legs were starting to feel pretty beat up.

I really wanted to go run the Fleet Feet Track Attack races Friday evening, but it just wasn’t a good fit for a week where I am trying to get in some decent mileage. So I ended up running at Vaughn’s Gap with Hunter, Jeannette, Drew, and a couple of other guys. We ran onto the trails and into Edwin Warner. It is hard for me to make it out to Percy Warner for runs, so this was a good thing to do while the family was out of town.

Saturday: Gay 5k in 18:23
I had no desire to run a fast 5k. The Summer of Speed is getting old and my legs were feeling the impact of the increased mileage (see what I did there?). I decided to run 18:30 pace with Dave and Lindsay.

Sunday: AM 11.2 miles @ 7:45
Greg, Lindsay,  Christopher, and I ran the dirt trails in Shelby and then Greg and I ran a few more (before Greg peeled off for some tempo miles).

Summary: 84 miles.
This was a good week. I ran doubles 4 days, had a good workout, ran a longish run, and ran a 5k (even it I phoned it in, it was still a decent effort). I thought I might be able to get a few more miles in, but I also didn’t want to push it and risk over-doing it.

Next week I will run 50 or 60 miles and hope to take the 5k a little more seriously. Then maybe I will start working the mileage and long runs back up.