Monday, November 12, 2007

Workouts - Week of November 12, 2007

Settling into the new house, the Higdon-inspired white board is now up in the mud room. Each day has a bright red number, XT or off written on it, and it gets a check mark at the end of the week. It's always most satisfying to check it off before breakfast, but with the cold and darkness having arrived, the daily schedule may change a bit.

I should note that yesterday was my running club's first post-season group run. We had over 20 folk show up for runs of 5, 7.5 or 11 miles, with the courses ranging from hilly, to hillier, to bring-your-ropes-and-crampons. I went in the slower of the two 11-miler groups, and we went up a treacherous stretch, steep and covered with 6 inches of fallen leaves. Good sense won out and we walked a stretch, mostly out of concern for our ankles. I had the pleasure of running with two of the areas top Master's runners, a woman who wins a lot of 40+ races (until she turns 50 next year and will take that division by storm), and a New England running legend, a 50-something fellow with a 2:22 marathon PR (which he ran in 1991 when he needed 2:20 to get to the Olympic trials). It was a joy and a privilege to run with them, chat and just soak in all their passion and experience. It's nice to be looking out as my 40th birthday inches closer and closer, and realize that I've chosen a sport - unlike my old one - which holds a future for as long as its faithful disciples wish to participate.

Monday - Off due to work and Y closure

Tuesday - 5 miles at lunchtime

Wednesday - 6 miles in the mountains (will be traveling overnight for work)

Thursday - 5 miles easy in the woods

Friday - Elliptical and XT

Saturday - 6 miles easy

Sunday - 13 miles easy, maybe with some company during the first half and some good music during the second

I'm looking forward to a colleague's run in Philadelphia on Sunday. He's looking to go under 3:00, which is nearly incomprehensible to me. Granted, he was a high school and college standout who's thus been running seriously and regularly for more than half of his 30 years. I was a semi-competitive (i.e., mediocre) soccer player who just started running last year. Baby steps . . . baby steps.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Workouts - Week of November 5, 2007

This won't be a memorable week training-wise, since my wife is away for work from Monday through Thursday. Will call it a "rest week" and let myself off the hook. Just registered for the Keybank Vermont City Marathon on May 25, 2008. Have heard great things, and I look forward to having a chance to run a marathon under conditions which do not simulate the outer gates of hell (i.e., the 2007 Chicago Marathon).

Monday - off after Sunday's half-marathon

Tuesday - pliometrics at home; abs & core; stretch

Wednesday - a quick 5-miler in the woods after dropping the kids at school but before work

Thursday - 5-7 miles at lunchtime, possibly retracing some of the half-marathon route to start attacking the hills which got the better of me

Friday - Elliptical and weights circuit

Saturday - 6 miles on the trails (weather permitting)

Sunday - 10+ miles, nice and slow, depending on the weather, family and work obligations

Manchester City Half-Marathon

On Sunday, November 4th, I tried to salvage what's left o my Chicago Marathon fitness into a half-marathon PR. I'd run 1:40:12 at a half on a cool March day on as close to a perfectly flat course as one can get in this part of the world. While I was hoping to go 1:38:30 (7:30/mile pace), anything under 1:40 would have sufficed. The Manchester course is very hilly overall, rising from the end of mile 1 to mile 5.5, with major hills at miles 2-3 and 7-8.5. The poor marathoners had to run with us halfers for one loop, then bear right for another 13+ miles, as we bore left on Elm Street for a screaming quarter-mile straightaway.

Since I was not sure about my fitness and I had a healthy respect for the hills, I went out conservatively (which is to say pretty darned slow). For the first 5 miles, my splits ranged between 7:44 and 7:59. I covered mile 6 in 7:20, using the downhill to make up a little time, but by then I knew that 1:38:30 was not happening. I saw a guy right in front of me at around mile 5 pull up with what might have been a ruptured achilles tendon. I stopped to see if he was okay, and he said he was. Don't think he ran another step, and I hope he's okay.

The biggest hill on the course started just as we hit the 10K mark, and continued until just shy of the 8 mile mark. I kept my head up and back straight as I passed runners up the steepest climb, nonetheless logging my slowest mile of the day, 8:26. Knowing the course, I decided to attack after that, unconcerned with the modest hills which remained. The next five mile splits were 7:36, 7:27, 7:19, 7:24 and 7:36. Once I crested the last hill, I had plenty of gas left in the tank, and I ran mile 13 in 6:35. As the race gods would have it, the last major downhill was offset by a strong headwind, but I didn't care.

As I pushed towards the final 400 meters, I thought that maybe, just maybe, 1:39:xx was still possible, and I ran as hard as I could. My Garmin Forerunner 305 recorded a peak pace of under 4:30 per mile, which was probably off, but I'm sure I was running around or under 5:00/mile pace in that last stretch. Sadly, I was all alone, with no one within 20 seconds of me in front or behind. Gun time (no starting mat) was 1:40:13. I came up with 1:40:03, since I started about 5 seconds back and didn't press the stop button for about 5 seconds after crossing the finish line. Between the water stations, the Achilles guy and a shoe tongue adjustment at around mile 10, there went my sub-1:40. Oh well . . . I'll run another half in late winter/early spring and atone.

Funniest moment of the race (and possibly of any race I've run) was the ear-piercing, blood-curdling shriek as a male runner opened a port-o-potty door at around mile 2, only to find a female runner taking care of business. She was in such a rush, she didn't latch the door. :-)

Looking back, I wish I'd been a bit more aggressive on the hills, especially early, and I plan to do hill repeats at least once every 10-14 days during my winter mileage base maintenance. I also hope to make 40-mile weeks my norm, building up to a 60-mile peak during the next marathon training cycle.

Truth is, I hope I never feel like I had a perfect race, or I may walk away feeling too satisfied and leave running behind.