Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve 8 Mile Tempo

Today I had to 13 miles with 8 of them being a tempo run. I wasn't really sure how this would turn out. Our 24 mile excursion on Saturday was pretty intense and I didn't know if it had a lasting effect. I started my warm up and ran into Sean. We talked a little and he gave me some good marathon tips. He's preparing for the half marathon and has started to incorporate some longer runs into his training. So I finished my warm up and switched to my flats. So here is how the tempo went down.

My goal was to go about 5:35-5:45 pace for 8 miles. I usually add 10 seconds/mile if I'm running the loop at Memorial park. This is accounting for the dirt on the trail and the way it gives as you run. Since I was at Memorial Park loop I was shooting between 5:45-5:55. So I started out mile 1 really really tight. I eased into to it the first half mile and was at 6:05 pace before I forced myself to finish the first mile at 5:54. The second mile I relented a little and bumped back up to 6:05 pace and once again at about the halfway point I rallied and finished 5:55 pace. I was a little nervous that I was not warmed up by now. The concern was that if I didn't warm up soon and these splits didn't become easier to complete then there was no way I was going to successfully do 8 miles on pace. It was during the 3rd mile that things started to warm up for me. By now I was running a 5:50 at the halfway point of mile 3 and decided to ease up a bit so I would save enough till the end of the workout. I finished mile 3 at 5:53. Miles 4, 5 and 6 were similar to mile 3 as I was easily running under 5:55 and was flirting in the 5:40's from time to time and then letting off of the gas to finish just below 5:55. Miles 4,5,6 where 5:53, 5:54, and 5:53 respectively. It wasn't until mile 7 that I started to feel my hamstrings start to tighten up and my legs start to fatigue. I still had plenty of speed left but I wanted to guard against a potential tweak by running smoothly. I finished mile 7 at 5:54. During mile 8 I was running completely into the wind and that slowed me down to 6:05 pace at halfway point of the mile. At this point I was debating whether to stop the workout here because my hamstrings were beginning to tighten up and feel strained. But then all of a sudden they started to ease up so then I started putting in the speed and all of a sudden with a little less than a quarter mile to go I was running a 5:48 pace. Whoa! I certainly did have quite a bit of speed left. So I basically let off of the gas quite a bit and even came to a slow jog as I finished off the last mile at 5:52. Here is a better look at the splits:

  • 3.22 Mile warm up
  • Mile 1: 5:54
  • Mile 2: 5:55
  • Mile 3: 5:53
  • Mile 4: 5:53
  • Mile 5: 5:54
  • Mile 6: 5:53
  • Mile 7: 5:54
  • Mile 8: 5:52
  • Overall average 5:54
  • 1.8 Mile cool down

Obviously you can see I chose to stay on the slower end of my split range. I probably could have really hammered the splits but there is a time and a place for everything.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kenyan Way 24 miler 12/27/2008

I have not really blogged about any of my long runs or training runs because I try not to keep too much detail about "MY" running(I do like to read other bloggers' runs though!). After all, I don't feel like I'm a potential Olympian so I don't need that much detail. The only thing I care about is my race results, the rest is just maintenance. This is how I try to keep it fresh and not burn out. There's no need in me obsessing about a recovery run. I apologize to those of you that like to read these things, I will post something when it is anything of significance, like say for instance yesterday's 24 miler. This is really the last significant test before the marathon. So I was really looking forward to this run.

A couple of weeks ago we did a 24 miler and Andrew and I really knocked it out. It took us about 2 hours and 46 minutes to finish it, which is about a 6:55 pace. The last 6 miles we averaged about a 6:2x pace. This morning would be a lot tougher because the temperature would end up being about 70 something degrees with about 90% humidity. Sean advised all of us to not worry about finishing the last 6 or 7 miles at marathon pace. It was enough to just finish. Andrew said the heat and humidity would not give us any illusions of trying to hammer it at the end and I certainly agreed. The plan was to take it easy for the total 24 miles. So as we gathered in our pace groups, some of the usual cast of characters showed up. Andrew Sharenson, he and I have been finishing our long runs together the past few weeks and he has really been able to push and keep the pace strong along the way. Jeff Streit, a very good runner who usually finishes near me in a lot of races. Chris a guy who transferred from Houston Fit and James who has been running with us as well.

So off we started and we went up Jackson hill to Blossom street and headed toward Memorial Park. Our first mile clocked in around 7:41 pace. I felt that we were warming up pretty quickly and we were already starting to break a sweat. The next 15 miles were pretty consistent as ran anywhere from 7:20 to 7 minute pace. When we reached the Herman Park loop that is when my legs started to feel the fatigue set in. I started think to myself, "This is going to be painful". Right about this time Chris had dropped off and it was just me, Andrew, Jeff, and James. It was mile 15 or 16 where we pulled away from James. James obviously was being affected by the heat and decided to let us go. We reached the water stop at the Rice University loop where Sean was getting ready to do his easy run with Luis. He asked what pace we were doing and I said sub 7's. He said that he and Luis could run with us then. But Luis hadn't reached yet so he told us to go on. He also jokingly said (At least I think he was joking) to do the last 6 miles at marathon pace. We kind of laughed and shrugged it off. I mean how could we expect to run at marathon pace in this kind of weather(marathon pace = 6:26)? Little did we know that we would easily end up running this pace and much faster. So we started our loop around Rice U and my legs started to feel much better now. The previous 3 or 4 miles I had been trailing Jeff and Andrew, but now I decided to pick it up a little. This little ended up being quite a bit as we clocked a 6:30 19th mile. Now this was totally unintentional and I didn't feel I was going this fast but when it happened I kind of expected that we would probably all slow down again but I ended up opening up a can of worms. The next mile Jeff pushed it out really hard and I was kind of regretting what I had done! I ended up following Jeff and Andrew was close behind and we clocked in a 6:26. By now we had reached the Hazard water stop. Jeff asked if we wanted to continue going hard. I said what the heck, it's only 3 and a half miles. So we ended completing the next mile in 6:25. By now Jeff took it out pretty fast and was about 15ft in front of Andrew and I. I was debating whether to just keep it at the 6:30 to 6:40 range, but Jeff started to pull away from us a bit. So I said what the heck, let me just run right behind him. So I started to pick it up and methodically I started to catch him and soon I was running beside him, but for some reason I felt we were moving pretty fast and was prepared to hammer it the rest of the way home. And then the Garmin clicked and rattled off 6:04! I told Jeff, that's CRAZY! He definitely agreed and so we slowed it down to 6:30 pace the next mile. Jeff told me when I caught him, he thought he was slowing down so he sped up and so I sped up too. We just sort of fed off of each other a little too much there. At the last water stop Andrew, who was about 15 to 20 seconds behind asked us what pace we were running and we told him and he said "Ok, kid's have fun!!!". We told him we weren't going to do that again and that we only had a mile and a half to go. So the last 2 miles went 6:30 and then 6:55. We used the last half of mile 24 as sort of a cool down after the speed work we were doing. The final time ended up being 2 hours 48 minutes. Just 2 minutes off of our previous 24 miler, but being done in the humidity and heat. Our splits looked like:

  • Mile 1: 7:41
  • Mile 2: 7:13
  • Mile 3: 7:13
  • Mile 4: 7:21
  • Mile 5: 7:21
  • Mile 6: 7:17
  • Mile 7: 7:00
  • Mile 8: 7:01
  • Mile 9: 7:07
  • Mile 10: 7:15
  • Mile 11: 7:15
  • Mile 12: 7:39 (Port 'o potty search)
  • Mile 13: 7:00
  • Mile 14: 7:23
  • Mile 15: 7:03
  • Mile 16: 7:12
  • Mile 17: 6:53
  • Mile 18: 6:54
  • Mile 19: 6:30
  • Mile 20: 6:26
  • Mile 21: 6:24
  • Mile 22: 6:04
  • Mile 23: 6:30
  • Mile 24: 6:55
  • Totals: 7:02 pace

A couple of things here. I think I'm in good shape to do what I need to do on marathon day. The other thing was it was probably stupid to do what we did at the end, but it happened, and sometime is bound to happen when you feed off of each other like that. Hopefully no damage was done.

Today I had to do 9 miles easy. So that's what I did. My running was more like 9 mile leg shuffling, but it was good because it moved that gunk out of my legs from yesterday's run. Monday I'll probably do 9 more miles of leg shuffling and Tuesday I'll probably get back to 9 miles easy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

State of the union and marathon goals

I thought I would just give an update on my running over the past few weeks and what my marathon goals are. In case you have not been a regular reader, I am a member of Kenyan Way running group. On Saturdays we do long runs and usually I run it with a couple of the same guys. A few weeks ago I had to do 22 miles. Coach Wade prefers us to run the last 7 at marathon pace. We ran the last 7 at 6:30 pace. A few weeks later we ran 24 miles and also finished very strong at under 6:30 pace with a couple of 6:13s on along the way. We ran this long run on pace to qualify for Boston. In between these long runs I had been doing some 13 and 14 mile long runs and had been easily running in the 6:20s for a few miles and averaging in the 6:4x-6:55 range. I have been running alternating 68 and 78 mile weeks for a while now and just recently I have added some speed work. My body feels healthy and strong but mentally I'm so tired of the training. What makes this worse is the cold rainy weather which makes it difficult to run day in and day out in the mornings. I have still been putting in the work and training and this has paid off with rewarding me with good fitness. So far I have my last 24 miler coming up for a total of 78 miles and then the following week I do 68 miles and then it is taper time baby! Hopefully in the coming days and weeks it will warm up a little and give my chilled bones a rest from the cold weather.

So what are my marathon goals you ask? Simply stated I'm looking at running a 2:55 marathon. My main objectives are:

  1. To qualify for Boston
  2. Break 3 hours

Based off of my times at the lower distances, this may seem like a very modest goal. It probably is. But Sean (Coach Wade) suggested running this pace since I've never really raced a marathon before, so I should just focus on the previous objectives. There's no need to increase my bonk chances. Based off of my recent performances and long runs there seems to be ample evidence to indicate that I should be able to comfortably run around 2:50 or lower. So Sean said I could also shoot for this. The plan should be to pick one of these times and stick to the plan until about mile 20. If I'm feeling good then I should just hammer it home. So this is the objective and the race plan. Going forward after this race I will be looking to run closer to my potential and try to see how low I can really go in the next marathon. One of the reasons I like choosing the more modest plan for the upcoming marathon is that it will give me a good chance to recover quickly and start my spring racing season healthy, strong and fit.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Houston Homeless 10k

image After running the TXU energy 10k in November I immediately looked at my December running schedule and tried to scout some races that would fit nicely in within my schedule. The only race between now and marathon day that fit the bill was the Houston Homeless 10k. The strategy would be to once again use this race as a workout.

The Friday before race day I was scheduled to do 7 easy miles. It didn't happen. I came down with food poisoning and was puking all morning and had to miss the first half of work. My wife and son took great care of me during this time, but by now I was thinking that I was probably going to have to skip this race. I didn't eat until evening but I still felt pretty terrible. The very next morning I was going to skip the Kenyan Way long run due to the previous days experiences. But I felt close enough to normal to give it a go. I ended up doing my scheduled 13 mile run. I ended up doing it at around 6:55 pace which was probably faster than what I should have been doing but I was feeling good. After the run I felt I probably expended too much energy considering the previous days experiences but I had made my decision to run the 10k anyway. After all it was only supposed to be a work out and I could throttle the effort level down if I needed to.

I arrive at the race Sunday with mixed emotions. Part of me wanted to be here and part of me didn't. After it all it was pretty chilly, a long drive, and my stomach was still in knots. Considering my stomach situation and the fact that I spent Friday spewing stuff up and eating very little, running too hard on Saturday, I didn't expect a consistent effort. I expected my legs to probably give way at about mile 4 or 5. I was expecting to run somewhere in the mid 35 range. That would have been fine. There were no speed demons at the race and that was fine by me. I only needed to be concerned with my own circumstances and what I was trying to do. I saw Barry Chambers, a fellow Strider, and he informed that the course was the same course as the Bayou City Classic 10k(Downtown course).

The race started and there was a guy that took it out pretty aggressive for the first 3 quarters of a mile. After that he faded away and I was by myself from now on. I took it out kind of slow and conservative and hit a pretty good size hill headed out toward Memorial. I hit the first mile at around 5:44 which was way too slow for me so I decided be more aggressive the second mile which I hit at 5:28. The third mile I hit at around 5:28. Right about now I was working, but I wasn't fatigued yet but was wondering where my legs would be at the end of the race, especially with the upcoming undulating hills. At mile 4 I had my first obstacle to deal with. My shoelaces had come untied on my right shoe and now I was wondering whether I should stop and tie it. I decided against it and just to run through it, but the more I ran the more the shoe loosened up and I began to worry about completely running out of my shoe. I decided that if this were to happen then so be it, I'll run and wait till my shoe forces me to tie it. Now mind you, I was in no danger of losing this race. The second place guy was probably 5 minutes behind, I have no idea. It just goes against my inclination to stop in a race. So I just ran on completing mile 4 at 5:30. At mile 5 I started to realize that the race was near to an end and I decided to put more "oomph" into it and completed this at 5:27. On mile 6 there was a big hill that I had to run up to exit Memorial. By this time my legs were pretty tired and I felt a little strain in my hamstrings. At this time I decided to acknowledge the fatigue and slow it down up the hill and then to just cruise it in if I had to. I finished mile 6 at 5:47. As I got up and over the hill a got a burst of energy so I decided to pick up the pace again for the last .2 miles and ran it at 5:18 pace. As I looked at the clock at the finish line coming in I was stunned that I ran the course in under 35. I finished officially at 34:53.

I'll take that time under those conditions. It will be interesting to see what time I will run when I actually taper for the race. But for now I'll just have to settle for these tempo runs.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Houston Strider Most Improved Runner of the Year

First off I'd like to say thanks to the Houston Striders for selecting me as the recipient of this award. The Striders really have a lot of members and I consider myself pretty fortunate to be recognized for my improvements. Should I be shocked that I was chosen, probably not. I have made some dramatic improvements over the past two years since I started running. But I wasn't expecting any award or any accolades. So this came as a pleasant surprise.

I remember when I ran my first 5k in 3 or 4 years in late 2006. It was the Houston Texans Battle Red Run. I ran hard that day and finished at 20:2x, first in my age group(that started the addiction).


During that time had been training myself for the Houston Marathon (It sold out on me). I had no idea what I was doing as far as running was concerned, but all I knew was I loved running these 5ks. A few months later after I ran the Austin Marathon, I ran another race, The Run for the Rose. For the first time ever, I ran below 20 minutes, at like 19:4x. A month later my brother (former high school and college stud) and I run the Schlerdoma race put on by the Houston Striders. My brother finishes second at like 17:2x behind John Yoder(Strider buddy I didn't know at the time) who finished at 17:0x. I stun myself by finishing 3rd at 18:45. This is the race I joined the Houston Striders. A few months earlier I had conceded that getting under 20 minutes was probably all but impossible. At this point in time I felt that new possibilities were open for me. Eventually at the end of the year I broke 18 minutes pretty regularly.

Early in 2008 my brother and I run the EP5k at the Houston Marathon. My brother is dead to rites during the race and I end up pacing him to a 17 minute finish and I PR to a 17:09. The funny thing about this race is my brother and I were square with each other with about .1 to and he unleashed this wicked kick and passed 3 guys and beat me by 9 seconds in the last .1. But I had scored a low 17 minute 5k so now sub 17 became a possibility. image

At this point in time I was running 8-12 miles per week and pretty much running whatever I felt like at the time. Sometimes I would do one 400m or three 400m repeats. Sometimes I would run a 400 and an 800 both at top speed. Clearly I didn't have any idea what I was doing but I had an idea that I could get a lot better if I did.

That is what led to me joining the Kenyan Way. Here you have a former Olympian who is actually training people. I couldn't resist joining Sean Wade's group. This would be a good decision. Sean gave me good feed back and told me what I was doing wrong. He also gave me indicators of what was in my near future. The week before I broke 17 minutes at the 2008 Bellaire Trolley Run he told me I was in shape to break 17 minutes pretty soon. Eventually I increased my mileage, started his marathon program, and got my 5k time down to 16:15 recently.

Fast forward to now. Miriam Terc, Vice President of the Houston Striders notifies me of the Most Improved Runner of the Year award. I ended up attending the Strider Holiday Party and was presented the award. During the party Miriam was a gracious host. She introduced me to John Hill, the local masters runner (2008 Houston Striders Masters Runner of the Year). John and I chatted it up and exchanged some training info. I also got to meet Peggy Yetman(2008 Houston Striders Female Open Runner of the Year), and Ironman athlete who is also a REALLY good runner as well. I had a great evening. image

So running has been a nice little discovery for me. I have enjoyed this hobby and it really keeps me balanced. All of a sudden I'm even enjoying my easy runs as well! Hopefully I have more improvement in me down the road, but right now I'm just enjoying the ride.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sister wins the Footlocker South race

image_thumb I told you about Janel, my sister, and how we are so proud of her. Well, she did it again. She ran a 17:12! A week earlier she competed in the NCAA regionals and missed going to the NCAA cross country championships by three places! Here is a little background on my sister. Back in high school she was pretty fast. One of her goals was to get a scholarship to Georgia Tech. Unfortunately they decided go with some other girls. Fast forward 3 years later. She competes in the NCAA regionals and becomes the first Georgian in the regionals. Faster than any other female Georgia school college runner. The best way to prove someone wrong is to go out and PROVE IT. She was a little down that she missed the NCAA Cross Country Championships by such a small margin but she still has an opportunity next year and she seems to be getting stronger.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

TXU Energy Turkey Trot 10k

image As I said in a previous post, I planned to do this race as a workout. The reason for this is that I ran 11 miles the day before and I also had to run 22 miles on the Saturday! So I really wasn't looking to kick it in at the end or run all out from the get go. I wanted to do this race because my speed work has been lacking for the last few months and I desperately need a few races or workouts to stay sharp. Someone asked me what I normally run my 10ks in. I replied, "I don't know, I've never run a 10k".

Well anyway, I ran this thing and ended up doing pretty well. I started the race at around 5:34 pace at mile 1 and there was probably about 30 people or so in front of me. I decided to pick it up a little bit at mile 2 but that took a little bit more effort than I wanted so I ended up settling in at around 5:34 again. At mile 3 I started to get a little worried because I was starting to sweat a bit more than normal and I was afraid that was going to be an indicator of me fading at the end. I think I ended up running a 5:33 mile. At mile 4 everything started to kick in now and I was starting to warm up. I was running in the 5:2x's pretty effortlessly but I decided to ease up a bit to save something for later and ended up running 5:32. At mile 5 I was starting to feel a little thirsty and tried to pick up some water at the water station but I missed it(I need tips on how grab a cup and drink it while running). I was a little peeved but I told myself not to worry about it and just finish the race. I was starting to get a little tired between miles 5 and 6 but still felt I had plenty of fuel in the tank. The last part of the race I just played out the string and finished under control and ended my workout! I placed 5th overall and finished in 34:40 and my splits were pretty even. I've been taking a lot of ribbing for calling this race a workout, but it is what it is.

A couple of things to take away from this race. I should have confidence in my endurance because I am pretty fit right now. I need to go back to doing workouts next week to regain some sharpness. I should be able to do at least 1 workout a week now because my body is very used to the mileage I'm doing and now it is craving some speed!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Joining the Luke's Team

Luis Armenteros offered me the opportunity to run for the Luke's Locker Team. If you don't know who is Luis is, here is some background info on him. He is one of the fastest guys in the area. When I say one of the fastest, I mean fastest among a handful guys in Houston distance running. I would be hard pressed to find guys locally that can run with him. I got to know him through the Kenyan Way as he works with Sean Wade as an assistant coach. I excitedly told him one of my race times one day and he just nonchalantly said, "Well, you know... now you qualify to run for Luke's". The way he said it made it seemed like it was no big deal, but it is a big deal. Because now I get to comp races and I think I get some free shoes as well. I definitely could use the assistance on the race fees and shoes, and now I can justify my running hobby to my wife (Cheaper)! Between this and my Strider race comps, I should be running for free more often than not!