Sunday, March 9, 2014

Countdown to the Boston Marathon

I hope this update finds you well and able to get out and get some fresh air as part of your fitness routine. I am 6 weeks away from Boston and am feeling good about where my training is headed.
I ran my first 5K since November this past weekend in Salisbury, NC on a hilly route and was lucky enough to place 3rd overall (18:20) and was only 11 seconds off my 5K personal record (18:09). I had forgotten the feeling of running at 95% of my max heart rate. My only goal going into the race was to hold a 5:50 pace for the first 2 miles and see what happened. After the race, a couple of us ran another 12 miles and did 12 "big boy" hill repeats (90 seconds, 8% grade and 4th of mile each). I am trying to get my legs use to the feeling of running up hills while tired. Miles 16-21 are where dreams are crushed at Boston.

I am running the Corporate Cup Half Marathon in Charlotte this weekend. It is Charlotte's largest race (non-marathon) and there will be a lot of good regional runners. I am interested to find out where I am at fitness-wise. I always seem to have better races when I have others to pace me. Ben Hogan (great golfer), once said "friendly golf and tournament golf are completely different." I feel the same way about running with my buddies and how I perform in races. Update: 1:25- 14th overall and 1st Masters Winner. Big hills, tough course going through the nicest neighborhoods in Charlotte. The finish downtown is on top of a huge hill you have to climb back up. Great training for Boston in 5 weeks.

Some of our running group at the Corporate Cup Half Marathon
I have been spending approx 50% of my running miles on the dreadmill as the weather has been severe. The dreadmill has helped me with my leg turnover and interval (mile repeats) workouts. I have noticed my heart rate is not rocketing upward when I get into the 6:30 tempo pace as it was in November. My body is getting stronger aerobically. The lower the heart rate and faster pace equals better race results. I have to remind myself to increase my aerobic capacity I need to do 85% of my runs in the aerobic zone which tops out at 150-155 beats per minute (bpm). I still have 2 workouts a week where I run at my marathon pace goal. Most of my other runs are in the 7:30 to 8:00 minute pace which comes out to around 140 to 145bpm. 90%+ of a marathon is run at the aerobic heart rate so that is what I need to focus on.
Myrtle Beach Marathon Update: I started the race off running with Aaron from Winston-Salem and was striving to hit a 6:35 pace. The wind was blowing 30mph the entire race. By mile 7, I was getting into the lactate heart rate zone and just was not able to hold the pace any longer. Instead of doing what smart runners do and adjust my strategy based on the conditions, I tried to show Mother Nature that I could handle whatever she threw at me. She won. I decided to turn the race into long run and coasted in. My time was 3:23 and still qualified me for Boston in 2015. It was 22 minutes slower than last year. It was just not my day. On a positive note, I was able to get back into training 2 days later instead of pushing extra hard and losing a week of training for Boston due to recovery and soreness. I was happy for many of my friends who had a good race at Myrtle Beach.
They wisely adjusted their expectations and times. Some of them were smart enough to run their fastest miles at the end. I can only imagine the patience I would need to run my fastest miles at the end of the marathon. Maybe one day. I am working on being more process driven than focused on race results as there are many things I cannot control such as weather. One bad race does not take away from the training I have done over the winter. I have to trust that if I continue to do the work each day, the results will take care of themselves. Focus on today.
 I have been doing more cross training (box jumps, squates, lunges, kettle bells, wall sits, etc) as I ramp up my miles to the range of 65 miles a week. I am running in the morning before work and doing cross training at the gym at lunch to help get my body stronger and reduce the likelihood of injuries. I have really enjoyed jumping rope since weather has prevented me from dragging my tire BOLO. Jumping rope is so hard and rewarding. The most turns I have gotten to is 76. I started out with 10 minutes before my runs and am now up to 20 minutes. I am jumping rope 3 times a week. My heart rate gets into my aerobic heart rate zone of 150's. Jumping rope is helping with balance, foot turnover, and calf strength. I purchased a speed rope from Amazon and it is so much easier to use than cheap ones from Walmart. Best $9 I have spent in a long time. Give it a try. You will feel like you belong in Special Education Classes the first couple of times until you get the hang of it. I just focus on the amount of time I am going to do it and don't worry about the number of times I have to start over. Last night while Anne attended her Pilates class, I jumped rope in the corner for an hour. Jump rope is a mega fat burning activity, almost 2 times as many calories as running per hour.
I just read a great running book, "The Extra Mile" by Pam Reed. Pam is an accomplished runner and race director of the Tuscon Marathon. She has won many races, was the first person to run 300 miles without stopping and won back to back Badwater 135 (Death Valley Races) over the male racers too. She details her mental approach to life, family, work and running. Very inspiring story of what is possible when you deal with your demons. You don't have to be a runner to enjoy the book. Pick up a copy!
Free Running Podcast: Endurance Planet
I drive 2 hours each day and listen to a lot of Podcasts. One of my favorites is Endurance Planet. They put out a podcast on a weekly basis that covers topics related to running, triathons, sports nutrition, gear, interviews with top athletes, etc. You can listen to the podcasts through iTunes or the website link below.

My workouts leading to Boston:
Monday: 75 minutes easy
Tuesday: Track day- 60 minutes at Marathon Pace
Wednesday: Midweek long run easy- 90 minutes
Thursday: 75 minutes tempo with 45 minutes at Half Marathon Pace
Friday: 60 minutes easy & cross training
Saturday: 3 hours with 12 hill repeats at the end
Sunday: Cross Training

I read a quote the other day that got my attention, "we make our fitness gains when we rest not when we are exercising." I have to remember to take time to allow my body to catch up by sleeping 8 hours each day, and short naps on the weekend. The amount of rest for recovery only grows as I get older.

Special shout-out to Bill Shire in Charlotte who celebrated 10,000 days (almost 28 years) of running without a rest day . Bill's running blog link is listed in my favorites section second on the right, "Cool Down Runner." Bill goes out of his way to encourage others and always answers my silly questions with kindness. I want to develop dedication like Bill has when I grow up.
Video of Bill celebrating his 10,000 days

Spring is around the corner. Get out there and make it happen!