Back in June, I started a blog post that I never finished. At that time, I was pleased with steadily increasing my weekly mileage (no more than 10% per week), including three successive Saturday long runs of 14, 16, and 18 miles with no issues. Ah…those were the best of times.
However, after the Fourth of July, my travel picked up considerably and I ended up working a lot more than I would have liked. My goal was to get in all the miles; get in all the training; still get in all that’s required to do my job. Alas, I didn’t quite work out that way, as life, work, and some badly timed fatigue caught up with me through critical training periods.
With less than before I toe the line for my tenth marathon, I am in a much different place than I’ve been for any marathon – except for perhaps Boston 2014.
When the year began, I chose the Twin Cities Marathon for marathon #10. At the time, I was intending to be able to dedicate my summer to intense training and an attempt to obliterate my PR. After I run Twin Cities, I’ll come back and talk about some of the physical issues that have arisen over the last couple of years. Suffice it to say that my goals have changed for Twin Cities on October 4 to simply see if I can do better than my struggle last fall at the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, New York.
But here’s the thing…I don’t care! After pushing hard and beating myself up to get the PR in 2013, followed by beating myself up and then feeling beat up ever since trying to beat that time, I found peace not too long ago in the warm embrace of the thinking that….wait for it…..
RUNNING IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!
The whole reason I started this whole thing in the first place was to get healthier and stay active. The early success was great – but it also created a lot more drive to go faster than my body and my lifestyle could support.
And before I head out of town, I should get good news that I’ll be running the Boston Marathon in 2016.
After that, who knows? It may be 2017 before the next marathon.
This weekend had other plans but a few things popped up so I ended up staying at home. I tried to make the best of the sitatution and ultimately had a good time.
My friend Kevin was in town for an important conference so I got to give him a bit of a tour of NJ. When my out of state friends are visiting there important item that must be done:
Show them them the best diner in New Jersey. Yes we both had our own separate pieces. I don’t share my cake…even with good friends.
I did work all weekend. As most people know, the Asics Quantum just came out so we had a big event at work for the release of it. It’s an interesting shoe and one I may decide to buy and try out. It’s got more gel than the Nimbus but with more gel…
That pretty much sums up February through May. June 1 marks a shift in attitudethinking everything that began at 4:45 this morning and going out the door for an amazing sunrise run.
Work is not going to own me like it has over the last few months – mostly between the ears. It has affected my mood, my sleep, and the way I interact with pretty much everyone. For the most part, I think others would be polite if they called interactions anything other than unrewarding. What has been missing are the head-clearing morning (and sometimes evening) runs in the cool air. More of that.
What I like to refer to as the “no liquor rule,” which usually begins in the last couple months of training is in effect now. Beer? I’ll never give up on you, beer…but we’re going to see a lot less of each other.
While the last 6-7 years have been mostly good, as far as diet goes, refocusing on the “food is fuel” mantra will guide even smarter decisions that are focused like a laser on peak performance. I know all the right things to do and will do them all even better.
As previously mentioned, what’s done is done. With 126 days until Twin Cities – and a sizable goal – there is a lot to be done in the 18 weeks ahead. (Could it really be that my last PR effort will have been two years ago by the time I toe the line in Minneapolis?) My, how time flies…
All of my spring “racing” is done now, the last of my planned races being the BolderBoulder 10k. I ran leisurely through the hilly parts in the first 3.5 – 4 miles, and then sped up in the last 2.2 miles for negative splits and a finishing pace of 7:16/mile (45:10 overall). That is a sobering reality because I have to run faster than that for an additional 20 miles to beat the goal in October. It was a perfect day, and I enjoyed it. It is good marker for the beginning of summer with which I can compare everything to at the end of the year.
I knew it had been a while since I wrote anything, but seriously – 3 months?!? As far as running goes, I don’t have a lot to show for that whole time away. I ran the Colfax Half Marathon last weekend and have the Bolder Boulder 10k tomorrow. A while back, I wrote about February being a near loss, as far as racing and training, and the blog hiatus is predominantly because March and April…and May, did not get much better.
This is not an “oh, woe is me” entry. During the first part of the year, work comes first and it sucked a tremendous amount of time from anything else I wanted to do with my life, running or otherwise. Thankfully, this was not a year I was running Boston. The day of the Boston Marathon, I was stuck in a legislative committee room in the capitol for much of the time, not to mention how challenging getting in all the training ahead of time would have been. From January to May, work is the #1 priority, at least as long as I am chiefly a lobbyist. (While a lot of people want to do that for life, I am not among them – but that is a topic for a different discussion)
Last year, as I was turning my sights toward the fall and the Wineglass Marathon, I wrote about the unconscious self-destruction in which many people engage. I called it the “Training Wall.” Unlike the wall in a marathon, which is obvious and sudden, the training wall builds slowly over time through lack of focus, whether intentional or not, on what goes into achieving a goal. After my PR at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2013, I had a tough time coming back. That one took a toll on my body, and instead of pushing past it, I slipped backwards. Boston 2014 was a grunt, even at the slower pace I had decided to go. I tried to refocus on good training through last summer so that I could take a run at beating my PR, but I had a tough time. I don’t know if I every truly recovered – or if I did all the things I should have to make that possible.
I knew when I got to New York for the Wineglass that I was not in the right shape to try for the PR so my goal was to at least go fast enough to qualify for Boston in 2016. I needed, at best, a 3:25:00 to have a chance. However, it is so competitive to get in now that one really needs two minutes under the required BQ time to guarantee entry. (In 2014, it was BQ minus 1:37. In 2015, it was BQ minus 1:02) I had to fight to finish in 3:22:33. It wasn’t pretty.
Looking backward at what was or – potentially even more destructive – what might have been does not do a lot of good. What’s done is done. What was left undone is still left to do.
This fall, on October 4, I will be in Minneapolis/St.Paul to run the Twin Cities Marathon. I would very much like to run my fastest marathon (current PR is 3:11:38) and break under 3:10:00, which means a 7:14 or better pace. That is pretty fast for a big lumbering oaf like me, but I was so tantalizingly close in 2013 that I want to give it another shot.
It is going to take a concerted effort. I have weight to drop, which ideally would have been done by now. I have habits to change. I have diet to improve. I have existing, nagging little aches that need to be properly addressed. So I’ll either do it or I won’t, and if things break the right way, then I might just have a shot at meeting that goal.
When the new Runner’s Edge training session begins on June 13, the Twin Cities Marathon will be exactly 16 weeks away. That, for me, is an ideal training plan length, and I intend to spend the next couple weeks before that continuing to rebuild my fractured base so I can get right to it.
As previously mentioned, February wasn’t the best month, but it ended with a pretty enjoyable half marathon in Phoenix. Considering I had not run at all in the three weeks leading up to the Phoenix Half Marathon, I spent the first few days of March gimping around in abject misery, as if I had just run my first marathon. I think I even felt better after that!
Now, five days after the race, my legs are starting to return to normal, and I can look back on the whole event without reaching for a hamstring or painfully massaging a quad…
The marathon and half have a pretty early start, but the race organizers decided it was best to have the busses to the start begin at 3:30 AM and stop running by 5:00 AM. I boarded a bus at 4:00 AM, after getting up about 3:00 and driving from my dad’s house on the opposite corner of the valley. After arriving at the start, I had a full 2 hours before the race started. It seems to me that they might get away with moving that window of time for the busses a bit later – not that I would have gotten on a bus too much later. And they definitely need about twice as many Port-A-Johns at the start.
Once the race finally got underway, I went out at a very leisurely pace. Having just kicked a bad head and chest infection a few days before, and not having run for 3 weeks largely due to that, I really wasn’t too sure what to expect. While a photo early in the race makes it looks as though I was having some kind of aneurysm, I was actually doing okay.
I managed to tick off a few miles at a 7:45/mile pace – much faster than I anticipated going – but it felt fairly comfortable. By the time I got to Mile 7, though, I was beginning to feel the lack of any training whatsoever, as well as the effect of the cold. My head was getting congested and my chest was tightening. About that time, we turned south and into a headwind, and that ticked me off. It was really about the last thing I wanted to deal with so I did what anyone out of shape and suffering from recent illness would do…I tried to run faster. For the next two miles, I pulled off a 7:40/mile pace, and then the wheels started to come off.
Running with about 85% of lung capacity isn’t really a recipe for success. As I entered the last few miles, I struggled keeping my pace below 8:00/mile. I didn’t want to completely blow up, but I knew that I could push through to the end. Thankfully, a significant downhill stretch started around Mile 12.3, and I let my stride open up and “flew” down the hill. (I ran Mile 13 in 7:25 – a full 10 seconds slower than my target marathon pace for October). At the bottom of the hill was a left turn toward the finish line, which was still a half a mile away. I figured “what the hell?” and covered that stretch at around a 6:30 pace…and nearly collapsed after crossing the finish line. Official time – 1:41:27…about 10 minutes off my PR. 🙂
Now that I’ve spent the last few days recovering, I am starting to set my sights down the road again. In May, I want to run the Colfax Half Marathon (through the zoo!), and maybe the BolderBoulder 10k. The focus will be reestablishing my currently puny base, getting back into good running shape, and entering summer training in June ready to take it up a notch. I seem to be injury free, and the most important thing I need to do is trim off a few pounds. I am also thinking about going back to run this race again next year because I know that I could have crushed it had I been in race shape.
February started off with such promise. A new legislative session was underway, which usually dominates my professional life and bleeds over into my personal life (especially my running time). While my training had been merely maintenance over the previous weeks, I was looking forward to starting to dial up my training, including running a couple of half marathons. In the very first week, I registered for what will be my tenth marathon. I wanted it to be a “bucket list” marathon so I signed up for Twin Cities in October. There is nothing more powerful than a goal.
The weather early in the month was ideal, other than spurring on the global warming hype. There were days in the 70’s…in Colorado. It was better than springtime running – because it felt like late summer or fall! However, warm air in winter almost always comes at a price. Sunday, February 8 was the first of the two half marathons, and while the day was unseasonably warm, there was a steady gale of about 30 mph – with gusts over 40 mph – descending on the valley from the mountains. This meant the first 7.5 miles of the Ralston Creek Half Marathon was a steady climb to the west into the teeth of the wind.
What was already a slow course because of the elevation game became a survival struggle. I had to apologize to a fellow runner near the apex of the climb when a rather large blast of wind blew us to almost a complete stop. (“You’ve got to be f***ing kidding me!” I yelled at the elements) The strategy was basic. Just finish. And I did. Slowest half I’ve ever run, and I was thrilled about it.
The first four days following week was lost to my job, and left me to plan the two weeks following that for preparation for the Phoenix Half Marathon on the last day of the month. The last two days of the workweek were very long, intense days, and by Friday I knew I was catching a cold.
No problem. In the rare instances when I do get sick, it is usually because I get run down, and it is usually nothing more than a minor head cold. I always get my flu shot so I wasn’t worried about that. However, by Saturday, I knew I was in for something much more significant…and then proceeded to spent Saturday – Wednesday barely making it out of bed or the couch. While I never ran too high of a temperature, my head and lungs filled with crud, which finally led me to visit the doctor to rule out pneumonia.
While I made it back to work the last two days of that week, it took another week for me to finally feel well again. Just in time to jump onto a plane and head to Phoenix!
So while I finished the month in a warm, (mostly) sunny place running a half marathon, previously hoping I might dial up a good effort for strong, late winter finish, I was instead left with the reality that it had been 20 days since I laced up my running shoes. As it turned out, I was able to find a pace that worked for me, slightly faster than a long run workout pace, and I only struggled a bit in the last few miles. I’ll take it – even though I knew that I could have crushed that course under “normal cirumstances.” Maybe I’ll come back next February.
Maybe it is a bit of an overstatement to say February was “lost.” I had a great month from a professional perspective, my lovely bride and I got to have an awesome impromptu date night before I left town, I’m got to see friends and family in Phoenix, and there was no snow..
Go with the flow, man. Go with the flow. There’s plenty of time left in the year, and the big target is on October 4.
It was on a run that I thought of this catchy blog title because I was thinking about all the work I have to do in the weeks ahead to establish the kind of base I will need going into full on marathon training in the summer. “It’s about about having a good base,” I thought to myself…and then there was Meghan Trainor in my head singing it to me. And now I hope I’ve passed the gift on to you, as well. No trouble. 🙂
All jokes aside, dialing up the kind effort I think I will need in October means putting in time now to reestablish the base that I once had. My training philosophy goes something like this:
Build up weekly mileage with a 2-3 shorter weekday runs (3-6 miles) at a comfortable pace and a long run on the weekend at slower pace.
Once 30-35 miles per week is comfortable, then start adding speed.
Speedwork/intervals once per week
Tempo runs once per week
Goal pace long runs at the end of recovery weeks (every 4th week)
For me, personally, it also means significant improvements in “daily life” things. Since the beginning of the month, I have been making a significant effort to eat better and smarter, get more sleep, and limit alcohol. (I still love beer and I always will…but loving it all the time is never a recipe for success!) I porked up pretty good after slowing up post-Wineglass Marathon last October, and now it’s time to pay the piper. I still have some kinks in my legs and lower back to work out, too.
Oh yeah – I ran a race, too
No big deal, since I am not trying to break any land speed records right now. (No chance of that, if I was.) I ran the Yeti Chase 10k at Bear Creek State Park, and it was a bit of a grunt. There was definitely some terrain, but it was a beautiful morning. I got to park about 100 yards from the start line so that was pretty nice, as well. I started out a bit faster than I should have, but it really forced me to work and clarified the massive gap that exists between present day and my 10k PR back in 2011, when I think I was in peak condition.
I’ve done it before. I looked back at some of my previous training cycles, including what I wrote about on this blog. It really is mind over matter, especially at 5:00 AM when it is cold and dark outside. Inevitably, I always finish those runs feeling good and telling myself to remember that when I think staying in bed would feel better.
So as January ends and February begins, I feel pretty good about where I am at – knowing that I still have a welcome effort in front of me. In October, I want to run my best marathon yet.
For now, though, it’s all about the base…about the base…
Family that lost $500 in Broncos tickets scam, receives the gift of a lifetime from another fan
Life is a pretty interesting ride sometimes!
My wife and I were just watching the news as I was updating my listing for my Broncos playoff tickets. I am, ironically, travelling to Indianapolis for my mom’s birthday and can’t go to the game. When I saw what this guy and his family had been through, it was pretty clear to us what to do. I certainly wasn’t planning on TV cameras, but those were Jacob’s wishes and I didn’t want to disrespect that. As long as someone else is inspired to do something good – and that everyone remembers to get tickets from authorized resellers as much as possible – then “Mission Accomplished.”
One of the most difficult things for me, as someone who likes to make a plan, and then see it come to fruition, is the occasional crushing disappointment that comes with a relative inability (at times) to “go with the flow.” As I think ahead to 2015 and the things, I want to do, I am trying to embrace this conflict a bit more, rather than avoid it.
It is an incontrovertible fact that, for a great many things, “going with the flow” doesn’t cut it. Planning for retirement, air travel, and most of what I do on a daily basis for my job serve as good examples. Waiting to see what happens in many circumstances makes you a victim of them, and then often ends up costing you more. I am wired to plan, and I am not ashamed to admit it is because I want to control a predictable outcome.
This is the cross I bear…
My lovely bride serves as the yin to my yang, and I definitely want to do more to make her happy and less to disappoint her. So with that in mind, I can be relatively confident that the plans I am making for 2015, which in this venue are almost exclusively running and fitness-related, will not conflict with her carefree, happy-go-lucky nature that can be both endearing and maddening at the same time.
I cannot look forward without a look back because 2015 is somewhat of an anniversary. Ten years ago this year, I think I was just about at rock bottom in terms of life and happiness. My first marriage was careening towards its eventual end, and I had reached a point in my health where I likely wouldn’t have had too many years left to be miserable. I was nearly 240 pounds and my exercise regimen consisted largely of 12 ounce curls and straining to pull open the next bag of Doritos. It was not a pretty sight.
What happened after that was something I wrote about in my very first blog, and for a few entries after that. I got my s**t together, albeit with a few bumps along the way, and starting dropping weight. I was challenged by others to run so I did, and my dad and I ran together in my first race after that.
Not too long after that 10k, I met my lovely bride. In much the same way that I got my physical self back together, she was the one who really got me 100% back on my feet. In 2008, she gave me an early birthday present – a Garmin Forerunner 305, which today would feel like a microwave oven strapped to my wrist. On March 29, I logged my first “official” run using it – a 3.4 mile run from home that I still remember today. I was training for my second race, the 2008 BolderBoulder 10k, and was running religiously at this point. I never really gave much thought to doing anything more than a 10k. Who on earth would want to run farther than 6.2 miles???
Funny how that works. I ended up running that and several 5k and 10k races over the months ahead. When my bride and I decided to make it official (she lived in Seattle at the time…ask me sometime about long distance relationships) and she was to move to Denver in June 2009, we coordinated it so I could run my first half marathon – the inaugural Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and Half. It was the first of many sacrifices she has made for me to pursue an avid running schedule.
She still likes to talk about how when asked by her if I ever was going to run a full marathon, I told her I really didn’t consider myself a real runner and that half marathons were the most I would ever do. She saw right through that, and 6 months later – nearly 5 years ago today, I ran my first marathon in Arizona.
Planning marathon #10 and everything else
I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring, but I can at least plan the next 12 months – as much as possible. This year brings another milestone, in that the next marathon I run with be my tenth, and I want it to be as memorable as possible. The ultimate goal for 2015 is to run a PR and sub-3:10:00 marathon this fall, and I want to it to be the Twin Cities Marathon.
First things first, though. For a lot of 2014, I referred to trouble I had been having with my running health, which I attributed to a lot of different factors. My PR at the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon took a toll, but there are a lot of other factors in play. As I begin 2015, those have not necessarily been resolved and the price has been decreased running health because I ran very few miles after October.
To ensure I didn’t totally fold up like a paper airplane, I signed up for a winter series. I ran a 5k in December, and there is a 10k at the end of this month, as well as a half marathon at the beginning of February. I wanted to make sure that I had targets on the calendar to keep me focused on a goal and to make sure I didn’t totally slack off. I also wanted to plan something beyond the winter series I signed up for to keep the train on the tracks. That’s a good thing because the slowdown in activity, plus the joy of the holidays have conspired to set me back a little further. Now I am “running heavy,” and will have to address that along with tackling other aches and pains that have subsided very little for over a year.
So here are the goals/races/plans in no particular order:
Get my fitness house in order. More cross training and exercises to balance out the imbalances in my body due to running being my sole activity.
Triage on my training diet. I used to have a good one – I currently do not.
Yeti Chase 10k – January 25, 2015
Ralston Creek Half Marathon – February 8, 2015
Phoenix Half Marathon – February 28, 2015
Attain my target training weight sometime during the summer months – 182 pounds. I’m not going to disclose where I am at now, but let’s just say I have some work to do…
Twin Cities Marathon – October 4, 2015. Goal: PR, sub-3:10:00
It is an ambitious plan for me, but it is the right plan to get things moving back in the right direction. Plus, the greater the challenge, the sweeter the reward!
I haven’t written anything in my blog, since October, which is pretty reflective of the relative importance to running in my life since that time. Back then, Gabriella and I had just wrapped up a wonderful trip to New York for the Wineglass Marathon and a whole lot of sightseeing. I think my lowest mileage day might actually have been the marathon! Indeed, I wrote back then “…I started “feeling my legs” way too early, and I knew I was in for a struggle in the last 6-10 miles. Indeed, by the time I got to Mile 20, my legs were gone.”
Following Wineglass, I let my miles drop off much for most of the rest of the year. There were a lot of things I wanted to do with the rest of 2014, but my legs were pretty beat up and even 20 mile weeks felt like a struggle. For the record, a lot of my problems are related to running being about the only impactful physical activity I do, and issues I have with my legs, lower back, and (occasionally) hips are related and could be addressed with some focused effort on some other activities to balance out muscle development. If I have any big plans for 2015 – and I sure as heck do! – then I have to change things up a bit. No – I am not making that a New Year’s resolution. (Sidenote: I think New Year’s resolutions are dumb. Anything worth resolving to do doesn’t have to wait until the beginning of the next year. Resolve can happen on any day of the year.)
Looking back at the end of 2013, I closed it out much the same way I am closing out 2014. After the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October 2013, my miles dropped off quite a bit for the rest of the year. I knew I was beat up after that, but I also was able to celebrate a nearly-3 minute PR. This year’s marathon was about 14 minutes slower than that, after a mediocre summer training session and a whole lot of miles on our feet in New York City in the days before heading up to Corning, NY. However, I also know I was saying a lot of the same things I am still saying about getting some relief for my legs by strengthening other parts of my frame. Oops.
Regardless of that, my Wineglass time should be plenty to get me into Boston 2016, which I definitely want to do because it seems so many of my training group is going to be there, as well. That is in the future, though. To dwell on all of that would be to take away from some great moments in 2014 in races and with my Runner’s Edge group:
As 2014 closes, and I look forward to 2015, I will be getting back into a more regular routine again and hopefully addressing some of those things I know I need to work on. The last 5k I ran earlier this month was part of series I signed up for to “help myself” make sure that I worked toward staying in a little better form than I might otherwise have done. There is a 10k at the end of January and a half marathon two weeks later in early February.
By then, I want to have my legs back under me again. I’ll be traveling to Phoenix at the end of February for a very quick trip and the Phoenix Half Marathon. This fall, I am going to run my 10th marathon, and I want the early part of the year to be a good springboard into the summer training season. If I can get myself back into optimum running shape, I want to take another shot at beating my PR and getting under 3:10:00.
I have not yet picked my fall marathon, but I am 75% sure that it will be the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis/St. Paul. It is on the marathon bucket list, and I definitely want #10 to be a memorable, as well as one with a favorable course profile. I may need every bit of help I can get!!
Hats off to all of my running friends for all of your hard work and a great 2014. Happy New Year!!!