Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Big Day

Well a lot has happened since my last post. The hard month of training I had planned for September did not really materialize, I injured my ankle and missed out on a couple of weeks of speedwork and tempo runs. But I was able to keep at it and finished up the training program strong. I'm still feeling a little sick of running, but not as bad as it was at the beginning of September. A week or two off now and I'll probably be itching to get back at it.

Today was the day of the big race, my "A" race for the year. The weather for the Denver marathon this year was the polar opposite of last year, with temperatures at the race start in the 50s and mid 60s for the finish. It was maybe a little too hot for a fast run, but I did not really feel the temperature as a problem. My race started off strong, with mile splits in the 7:20 range. This put me right where I wanted to be for my finishing time, which I hoped would be in the 3:15-3:20 range. At 10 miles I was still feeling pretty good, so I reevaluated my pace and decided I could push a little harder to get closer to 3:10 (the coveted Boston qualification time). I was able to drop my splits into the low 7's for a few miles, but by mile 17 it was apparent that I just didn't have it in me today. I kept pushing hard, but my miles slowed to 7:30s and then to 8 minutes by mile 20. I crossed the 20 mile mark in 2:27, so I knew that if I could keep it together and run around 45 minutes for the last 10k I'd be flying. The thought that I had less than an hour to go kept me going but by mile 22 it was apparent that I was bonking hard (running out of energy during a marathon, usually the wall comes around 22 when all of the glycogen stores have been used up). My legs felt like cement, and I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other for the next 4 miles. I ended up crossing the finish in 3:20, a personal best by 12 minutes! So despite the struggle at the finish I am happy, I went out to leave it all out there on the course and I did. I think with better pacing I could have hit the 3:15, but I am happier with the experience I gained out of this race. I think the Boston qualifying time is possible in the next few years, with hard training and a flatter, faster course, but at this point I am somewhat relieved as I wasn't even sure I could afford to run Boston this year.

With that race, my hard training is over for the year I think. I may try a 5k again this winter, but the main goal is just to hit 2008 miles this year (I'm at 1857 now). Next year perhaps a half-marathon is in the cards. I realize this year just how long the marathon really is, it is an unforgiving race that can humble even the best trained athletes. Usually when I start the race I question briefly why I have signed up for such suffering, a thought that is easily dismissed in the early miles. But by the time 20 miles rolls around, you are really questioning the sanity of such a decision. Unfortunately, by then it is too late to turn back.

The highlight of the experience this year was having my parents here to cheer me on. This is the first time they have seen me race and I am happy that they got to experience the true test of my abilities: the marathon. I was not looking very pretty as I struggled to the finish line, and so they got to see the sacrifice of the sport for what it is. Seeing them cheering me on as I raced for the finish line was truly a blessing, and I hope that they will be able to join me for more races in the future.

I will close this lengthy post with the reason that I run, which was part of the race application form: I run because it's not easy. A simple statement of a simple truth. When I am out there giving it my all I am not coasting through life, I am living it. The pain I feel is a confirmation that I am alive, and that my body can accomplish great things with hard work and perseverance. Running is hard because it is supposed to be hard.

Friday, August 29, 2008

2008 in '08

Well this week I crossed the 1500 mile mark for the year, so barring injury (which is always a possibility) I should be able to begin the countdown to the goal of running 2008 miles in the year 2008. 494 miles to go, and with me likely covering 250 miles in September I should be able to bring in the rest in the final three months of the year

I should give an update on marathon training as well I suppose. After tomorrow's 18 miles I will have only 4 more weeks of serious training before the taper begins. That should be perfect because as of now my running is improving significantly. I have been consistent in my speedwork, with intervals every Tuesday and tempo every Thursday, and my Saturday long runs have been good as well, with the first 20 passing last week fairly smoothly. My interval pace is down in the low 6 min/mile range now, tempos are around 7 min/mile for 9+ miles, and my easy pace has dropped to the low 8s. I really think that a 3:10 is possible now, but you never know what race day will bring.

Lest anyone reading this thinks I am bragging, all this boasting is mostly for my benefit. I have been training hard (60 plus miles per week) for 7 weeks now, with a whole summer of significant base building (over 50 miles a week). My speed workouts on Tuesday and Thursday mean that my legs ache every single day of the week, and frankly I'm a little sick of running. That, coupled with the fact that my running buddies are already tapering for their "A" races, means that motivating myself to get out the door can be challenging at times. But the thought of possibly qualifying for Boston, and the fact that this will be the first race my parents get to see me run, drives me on.

So really what's 4 more weeks of 250 miles when I've come so far already?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Officially Out of Control

Well, it's official, my running is out of control. Wednesday was bike to work day here, and in honor of the day, I decided to commute to work in a more "earth friendly" manner. Unfortunately, I do not own a bike, so the only remaining option was to run the 15 miles to work. I left the house at 7 am and arrived at work at 9, not bad considering I got sidetracked a few times along the way. I got a free bagel and coffee out of it, so I didn't come away empty handed. Needless to say you would think that that would be it for the day, but when a friend suggested an easy 6 miles I couldn't turn him down. Like I said, out of control.

The end result of this is that I am piling the miles on, so I broke 1000 miles for the year during my run to work. It's also put a lot of miles on my shoes, so when I found out last week that I had been selected as a shoe wear tester I was really excited. That gives me a "free" pair of shoes to wear for the next month and a half, taking some of the pressure off of my Brooks shoes. Note that "free" above is in quotation marks as the fee for the wear test is my sole...of my foot. For the past week I have been battling a very nasty blister as a result of the shoe change. I don't want any loafer feet anyway!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Light it up!

In perfect, 52 degree, partly cloudy conditions, I crushed the Bolder Boulder.

  • Mile 1 - 6:36.93

  • Mile 2 - 6:51.55

  • Mile 3 - 6:57.32

  • Mile 4 - 6:49.75

  • Mile 5 - 6:42.58

  • Mile 6 - 6:55.69

  • Final - 42:19.21

I came in 25th in my age group out of 442 runners!

For those of you who may or may not have been keeping track, this represents a 4 minute improvement over last year's results!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Overstepped my limits

It has been a while since I had a run where at the end of it I was ready to cry "uncle". Today was one of those.

Melissa had to run 9 miles today, which happens to be the distance around the Cherry Creek reservoir if you drive into the park and run from one of the parking lots. So I suggested that she run that run rather than the usual "Wash Park" run. It must have appealed to her more than 4 loops around the park so she took me up on it, really I had only half-heartedly suggested it. I remember not-so-fondly the days of my first marathon training when I had decided to run a long loop and ended up 5 miles from nowhere with nothing left in the tank. On some level I want to "rescue" Melissa from those kind of runs. But I realize that most times those are the runs that make you a better runner. They give you something to fall back on when you are hating life, and you think "well, it can't be worse than such-and-such a day".

Ironically enough, Melissa made out great on her run, while I ended up being the one craving rescue. For most of Melissa's runs I have pushed the double jogging stroller around Wash park, acting as child wagon/support vehicle. I can usually cover 11-12 miles on these runs and I can lay down a wicked pace while doing so. So today I was buoyed up by this confidence and I decided to run out to my 20 mile turnaround point. Without the trip to the parking lot outside of the state park this is a 15 mile circuit and I decided that it was doable in the time Melissa had alloted for her run. I also figured by doing this, that I would end up coming up behind Melissa in the end of her run and be able to offer some encouragement.

So I set about to running, taking a nice easy pace and keeping a relaxed posture on the stroller. I knew there were some hills to contend with and I wanted to make sure I had enough energy to finish. I kept a positive attitude and made it all the way out to my turnaround point (mostly downhill) with no problems. Unfortunately it was then that I realized how tired I was already and how many hills I had left to face me on the return trip. From there it became an attempt to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and tackle each hill one at a time. Finally I reached the top of what I knew was the last hill and I knew that I was going to be able to finish, even if it was slow. Finally I reached the car and was relieved to find Melissa there already and in good spirits. Within a few minutes of realizing that I was done pushing (for it could barely be called running at that point) I was able to regain most of my posture and finish up my day.

Lessons learned: I now have a much greater appreciation for Team Hoyt, pushing a vehicle is not a huge deal on level ground, but is vastly more difficult on hilly terrain. Also, legs can be well trained for endurance, but any chinks in the armor (core, arms, shoulders) can bring you down over the long haul. Finally, kids, while heavy, are great companions and can talk you through some hard times.

I know it has been a while since I blogged, but I have not really had any particularly memorable runs. My mileage has been pretty good, pushing 40+ miles per week for a while now, and building a good strong base to build off for the year. I just broke through 500 miles for the year (which last year did not happen until May), and I'm ready to be building in speedwork to prepare for the races to come.