Week 18-- Vacation, lots of walking, plus some amazing runs!



So we were in Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, and Gallup, New Mexico for a week on vacation. I got all my runs in, however two stood out, one was my long run last Sunday right outside our rental in the Deem Hills, which ended up curtailed by the fact that trails were and up and down were much different then running on flats to my legs. So the first run below was supposed to be 10 miles but ended up being 6.5 since the last mile and a half was on trails. Which I enjoyed immensely but can see the need for appropriate trail oriented shoes for trail running.

The next run was along the south rim of the Grand Canyon at dawn. There is not much else I can say about this run other then it was along the south rim of the Grand Canyon at dawn, and spectacular. My Garmin was being a little flaky and recording me running straight out into the canyon on air. This was an amazing run. From the running perspective I ran on paved trails, with lots of little sharp ups and downs, and I must confess I stopped more then once to take pictures and selfies. The run was also at 6,500 feet and I felt limited distress from that and the 25 degree weather, which I strongly suspect is not correct, more like 40, since I ran in shorts and a tech shirt, with limited discomfort.

I had two other runs of 6 and 4 miles that were unremarkable, the only one of interest was in Gallup at 6,600 feet of altitude.

My daughter and I did a hike up to the top of Mount Sunrise outside Scottsdale on Saturday morning, with a gain in 1,300 feet over 2 miles to the summit which clearly counts as hill training. Fantastic
views and great company.

So on Saturday morning I woke up and realized that the marathon is 7 days away and I finally started to feel some nerves, I have been antsy and edgy wanting to run, which from my reading is normal while you are tapering. Never thought I would see the day I would be dying to run!

I ate as well as I could while on vacation and maintained my weight as of this morning back in Round Lake. This week I am going to focus on hydration and eating as cleanly as I can so I am ready to roll next Saturday.

Week 17-- A tapering we shall go!



So after 16 weeks of training culminated in my big 20 miler last Sunday. Week 17 brought a downsizing in mileage from the mid 30's of the last few weeks to the mid 20's this week and next.  The theory behind a taper is your body rests and recovers while your reduced training base holds your fitness in place, so on race day you are primed, rested and fit enough for a big effort.

It is interesting to note that one of the symptoms of tapering that you have to fight is the urge to go out and run, seeking the runners high, so to speak, which oddly enough despite being under the weather most of the week, I have had.

The residue of the long run was pretty much gone by Wednesday, with some significant soreness in the front, lower thighs from the hills at independence grove gone in 2-3 days.

So for the next week I will be training at altitude in Arizona on a vacation to visit the desert and most specifically the Grand Canyon, we are staying in a lodge right off the south rim of the Grand Canyon which I am looking froward to! So there will not be as much blogging from there.

I have a 10 miler Sunday in Phoenix and a few scattered 6-8 miles runs next week and then I return for the final push to the Wisconsin Marathon.

Help me, help Ronald McDonald House Charities this fall.



So even though I have yet to run my first marathon, I am already planning for my second one this fall. So on October 11, 2015, I will be representing Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon! As a member of Team RMHC, I will be training, fundraising and ultimately running 26.2 miles to help keep families close when they need it most.

My daughter and her bestie Dana turned me onto the great work this organization does for families through their college sorority where RMHC was their charity of choice. I have committed to raising a $1,000 for the RMHC, which given my ability to raise money for other causes hopefully will not be to hard to achieve.

I am going to seed the account with a few of my game checks from refereeing, probably the ones where the coaches think I stink, and are shouting at me about that the precise manner of my stench, and I while I am glaring at him from the field, thinking I am not doing this for the money you chump, that's the game I am donating from. Given my performances recently that might be every game!

But more to the point did you know RMHC helps nearly 9 million families stay close and connected to their children who are battling a life-threatening illness or injury each year? It costs approximately $60 to keep a family close by their sick child. Together, by reaching our goal, we can help over 21,650 children heal and cope better with their families by their sides. It’s incredible what we can accomplish together!

I am asking for your support to help me reach my fundraising goal and more importantly, to help more than 21,650 children and families stay close. Be a part of the RMHC network of HOPE, STRENGTH and SUPPORT. No gift is too small. Your donation, of any amount, will not only help me achieve my goal, but will make a difference to those who need it the most. Together, we can make a difference!

Click here to visit my personal page.
Thank you for your gift, together and with 26.2 miles we can accomplish great things!

Its all down hill from here! Week 16 is done!



So this week culminated with my final long run a 20 miler today, I was going to go do it at a special event in Kenosha, but since it was Greek Easter today I ended up doing it at Independence Grove. I felt great until about mile 18 where the sharp hills in the NW corner of the route finished off my thighs, with some cramping, I was able to walk it off, but deliberately did not push at all to the finish.

Overall I am very pleased with the run, the fueling went well, the clothes I wore were fine, I need to tighten up my heart monitor a wee bit since it slipped a few times so I am not sure of my actual HR during the run. I did Clif Shot Bloks throughout and had zero stomach distress. so after 20 miles I do know something, and that is I can finish a marathon! It would be brutal if I was cramping from mile 18 to the finish line but I could stagger home from there. In addition I got a PR for a half marathon today by 13 minutes no less.

Overall my week was 32 miles, and now I am in my taper!

So here are my mile splits:
11:00, 11:55, 12:44, 11:43, 11:55, 11:59, 12:03, 12:01, 11:46, 11:45, 12:07, 12:11, 12:01, 12:02, 12:20, 12:35, 12:47, 12:35, 13:39, 13:04

Mile 1-5-- 59:17
Mile 6-10-- 1:00:00
Mile 11-15-- 1:00:00
Mile 16-20-- 1:04:40
13.1-- 2:37:00
Total time 4:06:40

Local Races on local races!



So I became aware of this new site called localraces.com they do some nice things listing races and resources for, wait for it, local races!

They appear to aggregate upcoming race event information from 3rd party registration engines like Active.com and others. They also have some area trails, running clubs, and cycling clubs, Plus content and event management software, and secure online event and membership registration capabilities.

Chicago area runners can:
  • Search and sign up for upcoming Chicago area race events across all major registration engines
  • Find Chicago area running and cycling clubs and even register online for club membership
  • Discover group runs, rides, and social activities
  • Browse and learn about local trails
  • Explore a community resource directory of running retailers, bike shops, and more
  • Manage their activities, including their race itinerary, race results, event photos, personal records, and goals.
I would suggest you check it out, the more traffic and information this site has the better it will become.

My time for Wisconsin? You heard it here first!



So today at lunch, I plotted out my fitness curve, my times in training, and in races as well as road work. I have been using my own variant of the Galloway Run Walk, running for .35 miles and walking for .15 miles. Rather then using a time equation it made it easier to calculate my mile splits.

However it works out to about 3 minutes and 30 seconds of running and 2 minutes and 25 seconds of walking with a few seconds variance in the walking portion and a 10-15 variance.

So extrapolating my training times I am able to run at the 10:40 mile with reasonable ease for the run portion and the 16:00 minute mile walk is brisk but well within myself.  I used a handy web calculator to come up with my pacing for the 10:40/16:00 pace and it came up with 5:21. I would be very happy with this time. To be candid I would be happy with anything up to about 5:45 in terms of time.

I jotted the pacing numbers down and they are pictured above, I am going to be able to evaluate this number a little bit better after the long 20 mile run on Sunday morning.

Week 15 is done! With a 15 Mile easter egg hunt!



So after this mornings 15 miler I have one big week left and then I start my taper after next Sunday's 20 miler. I ended up doing my run today on the treadmill because I wanted to focus on going slow. Which I was able to do, although I kept itching to dial up the speed, the whole time. Next week outdoors on pavement without fail!

The goal was to keep my heart rate low and to exercise below my ventilatory threshold which I was able to do for about 90% of the run. I felt good throughout, however I was feeling a little bit hungry near the 13 mile mark, so I might think about including a small snack about 60 minutes before race time, or carrying some extra Clif Shot Bloks on me (I am very partial to Citrus) and adding a few more calories to my fuel stops or perhaps both strategies can be incorporated. I need to decide before next Sunday for my dress rehearsal for the marathon.

Coupled with the Yasso 800 workout from Friday mentioned in the last post, and the running I did via refereeing and other scheduled runs this weekend, I hit 35 miles for the week, my highest ever! Next week is 39 miles and then I taper until race day.

Crushed the Yasso 800 workout



The theory behind Yasso 800s is that your time in minutes and seconds for a workout of 10 times 800 meters (two laps of the track) with equal recovery time is the same as the hours and minutes of your marathon time. For example, if you can run 10 times 800 meters in three minutes and 20 seconds with three minutes and 20 seconds recovery, then this predicts that you can run three hours and 20 minutes for your marathon. Run 2:40 for the 800s and you can run 2:40 for the marathon. For more information go here.

So while you are supposed to do them about 3 weeks beforehand I was unable to do mine in that time frame given my personal schedule. So today was the day and I could not have been more pleased. I had to do them on a treadmill which was not ideal, but I had no access to a track today with most local schools in session.

I did a one mile warmup and then ran these 4:53, 4:46, 5:01, 4:50, 4;53, 4:46, 4:52, 4:47, 4:52, 4:54 AVG Pace 4:51 with a 2 minute rest between the intervals. Considering my goal for the Wisconsin Marathon has always been 5:15 to 5:30, hitting a 4:51 average pace is very exciting. I am not changing my marathon time goal, but this workout showed me that my goal time and the finish line are within my reach.

So while I have 29 days to go to the marathon, I only have 3 significant runs left, a 15 miler this Sunday, a 20 milers the week after, and a 10 miler the week after that, as I taper my way to the start line all my other runs are less then 10 miles.

Very pleased but while the Yasso 800 says a 4:51 marathon is within reach, I am targeting a 5:15 to 5:30 one. I will leave the sub 5 hour marathon until Chicago this fall.

Week 15 Report-- The Home Stretch!



So I am about to kick off the last quarter of my 20 week training program, and using a horse racing analogy is apt. Since my marathon race is on the "First Saturday in May", "The Run for the Roses", "The most exciting 2 minutes in sports" or the Kentucky Derby day! I am coming down the homestretch so to speak.

Have 6 games this week, plus a 5, 8, 6 (Yasso 800's) and a 15 miler to do, then the next week I have another big effort for 6, 8 and 20 miles, with 3 games thrown in the mix.

My mileage figures for the last few weeks have been pretty close to what I wanted, although somewhat lower, generally. The last few weeks counting backwards have been 24, 19 (3 games of about 2.5 miles per game), and 29 miles.

The soccer refereeing is disruptive, although I enjoy it. I am not sure I am going to continue in the fall, since I am targeting the Chicago Marathon and will need to be very focused on that, since I want to make a significant move forward in fitness over the summer. I have been reading some excellent books by Matt Fitzgerald on racing weight and training methodology, that have given me some definitive ideas on what I want to do in my next marathon in terms of nutrition and training.

Since this the dawning of a new month as well,  a report on my mileage figures for the month have seems appropriate, its been climbing as well, counting backwards, with months of 110, 91, 72 and 46 miles. Surprisingly other then a few blisters on my feet in the same spot on each foot, no physical ills at all.

By the way the picture I got off the Wisconsin Marathon Facebook page and is the numbers for the various races taking place that day, so now I have to coordinate with my colors with black, not a problem.

Race Report: Shamrock Shuffle



So yesterday I ran the 2015 Shamrock Shuffle, on a windy gray day, interestingly the Garmin had me looking like I was spider man. If you look closely at the map below you see I took some direct paths to certain spots on the course. Mostly through sky scrapers, there was no breaking and entering, since I also got 3,061 feet of elevation gain as well so I was clearly swinging from place to place. By the way, Chicago is flat, my guess the high point of this race was about 100 feet higher then the start, so much for GPS in high rises!

As for the race I did very well, felt strong throughout, focused on mimicking my marathon start process, which is to run a slow mile to warm up which I did at 13:43. Then my Shamrock race plan kicked in and I tried to hold a good solid steady pace for the middle 3 miles (11:17, 11:20, 11:25) and then run as strong and fast as I could to the finish line (9:43) so I was able to accomplish all my goals, plus I got the sense of the start of a big city Marathon for one of my long range goals this fall.

I had a small blister on my left foot start around mile 4, which I attribute to wearing a pair of socks that protected my ankles rather then my feet because I was afraid of the cold. Lesson learned there! Did not eat at all during race, had a bagel about 3 hours before race time, and a nice large lasagna the night before. So all in all a great time!

This week also went well with 24 miles of good solid running, I elected to pass on a 4 miler on Thursday so I would be a little fresher for the 11 miles on Saturday and then the race on Sunday and I think that paid off quite well!

Hardest workout? Or hardest workout ever?



So on Wednesday afternoon when I got home from work I did an 8 mile tempo run with a half mile warmup and cool down factored into the distance so 7 miles at my goal pace which was 15-30 seconds faster then my goal marathon pace. I wanted to do the first 2 miles at 30 seconds faster and the next two about marathon pace and then the next two at 15 seconds faster then marathon pace, then one mile at my marathon pace. I was able to do the entire run at the goal paces (treadmill speeds tend to be different for some reason) and felt solid throughout the run. You can see the data on from Garmin Connect below.

As far as a workout goes in this 20 week program its was in the top 5 for difficulty but not excessively hard or over the top. Yet two days later my legs are still feeling it! So much so that I did not run the 4 miler I had scheduled for Thursday. This is the first significant soreness I have had during this whole program. Not sure exactly what it means, but I am taking it seriously and my two runs this weekend are going to be at a relaxed pace for sure. My resting heart rate is not changing (I use a BASIS watch to monitor my heart rate and it gives me my waking heart rate every day) in fact it trending downwards.

Coincidentally or not I have also lost 2 pounds this week, from 221 to 219, I tend to hover at a weight for a few weeks then drop 2-3 and then hover again. sort of like stair steps. So that's a positive. But I would guess dropping weight would not lead to soreness in my legs, unless the 2 pounds I loss were cushioning my legs.

THE 2014 NEW YORK CITY MARATHON by The Ginger Runner



I love this guys videos, this is one of my favorites, he is genuine and enthusiastic about what he does! If I ever get good at this marathon thing, his ultra-running videos will likely inspire me to do an ultra marathon some day. Because naturally if you can do a marathon, why not do more?

Week 12 was not as bad as it seemed



So with refereeing kicking off and my weeks running schedule seemingly in chaos, it actually will turn out okay. I have been able to get my mileage in, this is a lower mileage week (22) in any event. After Wednesday's slow stationary game I did a center between Lakes HS and Evanston HS and was quite energetic getting in close to 4 miles (Garmin Forerunner 10 lost signal at some point during first half so not entirely sure). Think speed training when you think of refereeing, lots of wind sprints.

Overview of the program so far

I was looking at my wall calendar and noticing that I seem to miss Fridays' weightlifting quite a bit, (4 times in 12 weeks) which I am okay with, since the weightlifting was more general fitness related then marathon training related.

My sense is that I am doing okay with the training, while initially dreading the long runs. I have been able to do three of 15, 17, and 14 without to much difficulty, averaging a 12:30 per mile pace which I am happy with. On the horizon I have three more significant ones 12, 15 and 20, then I taper down. There is no dread with the long runs now, just a question to myself, since they have all been on a treadmill of how to keep my concentration up, since its oh so boring!

I am very happy with the 12:30 minute per mile pace I appear to be able to sustain, that equates to a 5:30 marathon which I would be very happy with. My pace for the Madison Half last November was 13:01, and I have to say my fitness has improved quite a bit since then, I am 4 pounds lighter, but visually more trimmer throughout the legs, arms and waist. This improved fitness I think translates into the ability to shave 30 seconds off my regular pace. Having said that I would be happy to sustain a 13 minute pace for the marathon as well!

In two of my long runs I was able to check my half marathon time as a split, and got a 2:47 and then a 2:42, and while both are unofficial, my official best is a 2:50, that's a nice feeling!

Refereeing injects chaos into the my running!



So this week I started refereeing high school, and of course once I started that, my well thought out marathon training plans went to crap. I had a JV game on Tuesday, which is generally anywhere between 2.5 to 3 miles of running. This game was so one sided, I basically stood in the same spot for the entire game, getting less then 2 miles of actual movement (could barely count as running) in during the 2, 35 minute halves.

Wednesday I had another game where I got the miles in, I think, but my other Garmin (Forerunner 10) decided that sun spots would not allow it to link to GPS satellites and stop midway through the game, and refuse to engage, fortunately I always wear two watches when I referee.

So today is Friday and I am off, but I have a game Saturday morning with 10 mile training run scheduled as well, so I am likely to do that in the afternoon, then I have an all day clinic for USSF refereeing on Sunday and need to do 5 x 1 mile speed work that day, and have no idea where I will be able to slot that in, given those clinics go on forever.

Week 11-- Report



So after an okay Week 10, with a missed run, and rested legs, the downward half of the 20 week program began.  With a run outdoors no less! I had an early morning meeting on Wednesday so I left the run until the evening. I was able to get it in brilliant sunshine and 45 degree weather as well!

The next day was interesting because it was 8 miles and I had just run the above mentioned 4 miler less then 12 hours earlier, I did not feel it during the run, but I felt it later that day going up and down stairs at the office. I ran both runs slightly faster then my goal marathon pace and felt decent throughout.

I then did some speed work on Saturday coupled with a  Mile  at 9:22  and some Yasso 800's  at 4:56, 4:59, 5:04, and 5:01, I was very pleased with both sides of the workout. If I can only do 10 of those 800's at that pace, since the ability to do 10 in the same range is the Yasso 800 premise as a predictor of your finish time. I would take something near in that 5 hour range in a heart beat.

I did my long run the next day, and other then being sore, nothing to report of interest, although I think I am going to use Clif Shot Blok's for my fuel on race day, those seemed to work best for me. I am also going to incorporate some more lunges into my weight training as well, to strengthen my lower core a bit.

So for the week just under 30 miles with limited issues!