Stop digging…

Dig deep. ~ The laces on my Brooks Launch shoes

The ramp-up to the San Francisco Marathon has been less than stellar and the past couple of weeks have produced efforts that put me in serious question-mark-mode for the race. I’m still going out and will still run some portion of the event, just not sure how much actual racing is going to get done.

Though I haven’t felt particularly snappy since Boston, the first big warning sign came a few weeks ago when I “raced” the Slacker Half Marathon. This race wasn’t on my radar but my teammate, Susan Nuzum, was racing it so I thought I’d join her in the fun and/or games. She went on to win the women’s event (at least her second OA win this year), and I hung with her for about 3 miles before starting to really wonder what the hell I was doing at the event. I raced hard for another two, stopped briefly to see if that would help me feel better, then raced for another mile or so before packing it in and just jogging down to the finish. Not a good day, to say the least. Susan was quite nice to throw out a lot of excuses for me (altitude, downhill course, wasn’t my day, etc.) but clearly something wasn’t right. I felt great on shorter, intense efforts (repeats, tempo runs, and the like) but anything with a sustained, maximal effort was not working well for me.

So I got some blood work done and scheduled one final “test” run before setting any goals for SFO. This was to be a paced, half-marathon-distance run in Boulder with Susan and Mark Plaatjes teed up to pace me to what would hopefully be a 1:26ish half. Susan and I started on the Boulder Creek path and ran into difficulties early on due to path closures caused by flood conditions along the route. No sweat, slightly slower pacing and route adjustments could accommodate these set-backs but fairly quickly it became evident that I was just not able to sustain the kind of pacing needed to log a fast time. By about 6 miles in I was struggling to maintain marathon pacing and soon thereafter called it a day. The way I was feeling was corroborated by my blood work which indicated low ferritin levels. So we assessed the likelihood of my being able to have a satisfactory go at a good time in San Fran and decided a goal adjustment/race switch was in order.

Of course, a week later (and a ton of supportive food from Rach ingested) and I am starting to feel a LOT better so things are still a little up in the air. I may switch races and run the first half as a race, stay in the marathon and just run it, or do a full experiment and run by feel with zero expectations. I do know that I can wait until the last minute to make any decisions and so, at this point, am going with that option so as to not rule anything out. I do know that whatever decision I make will be done with the goal of not putting myself further in a hole from which I won’t be able to dig out.

As always, I’ll keep you posted.


Thinking about running…

Okay, here we go. Focus. Speed. I am speed. One winner, forty-two losers. I eat losers for breakfast. Breakfast? Maybe I should have had breakfast? Brekkie could be good for me. No, no, no, focus. Speed. Faster than fast, quicker than quick. I am Lightning. ~ Lightning McQueen

When people find out I am a distance runner, the question I usually get first (after the look that says, “This guy is nuts.”) is, “What do you think about while you are running that long?”

I have pondered this question and realized recently that when I am having a good run/race, what I usually think about most when I am running is, well… running. Certainly my mind wanders a bit but ultimately when things are going well, I am pretty focused on what I am doing: Form checks, body assessment, relaxation, pacing, terrain, where the contours benefit/hinder my progress, if there is a moose waiting to pounce on me around that next corner, etc.

So there you have it. I think I’ll go for a run.


Quick update…

I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more. ~ The Narrator

Been a bit swamped of late but that hasn’t stopped the shenanigans. Raced in a 2K event last Thursday (Uni-Hill 2K in Boulder). Placed 8th with a time of 7:19 which is a little slow for 2K but not too bad on this hilly course. Training is going well and I have been logging solid 50+ mile weeks with some cross training thrown in the mix (yoga mostly, but I actually swam at the gym on Sunday for a bit). Did a really hard workout with the Gijima crew yesterday. Give this a whirl if you are in the mood for a killer run:

  1. Warm up for a couple of miles
  2. Find a long, steady hill
  3. Run up at a sustainable, but soul-crushing pace for 3 minutes
  4. Jog down for 3 minutes
  5. Run up for 4 minutes. Try not to cry.
  6. Jog down for 3 minutes
  7. Up 5 minutes. Don’t worry about what others think of you openly sobbing.
  8. Down 3.
  9. Up 5 again. Start to question your own sanity.
  10. Down 3.
  11. Up 4. Same pain, less duration.
  12. Down 3.
  13. Up 3 but then really stretch it to about 4:30 to finish on top of some heinously steep hill. Puke on your teammate’s new Hokas.
  14. Cool down for a couple miles.

Yeah. Marathon training is fun.


[edit]: No Hokas were harmed in the production of this post.

Hedge your bets…

It’s always good to have options. ~ Ned Braden

BB10K: 40:07.18, 480th OA, 13th in AG

I like to look at every race as a learning opportunity. Two weeks ago, I would have thought it far-fetched to expect to break 41-minutes on the difficult Bolder Boulder course given how my speed was coming around following Boston (read: it wasn’t) but as race day drew nearer, my turnover improved and I actually thought I had a shot at a sub-39 at today’s race.

As you can see, that was not to be but the overall experience of my very first BB10K was very positive. I got some more “big race” experience, I got to race against some fast gents (and ladies) and I got in a great tempo effort without breaking myself. What may outweigh all of these, however, is that I got to fully appreciate the benefits of setting intermediate goals.

Big race: One would think that running with 54,000 of your closest friends would result in a fair amount of cluster fuckery, particularly in the early stages of the event. I have to give the BB10K crew props on this one for sure as their seeding system and overall organization proved to take a bit of the “big” out of my “big race” strategy. I was expecting to have to battle my way to my corral and then work through the frustration of crowds throughout the event (and much more so in the first couple of miles). The event start system was structured in such a way, however, that I was able to stroll up 8-minutes before my wave started, find my teammates running in the same wave and genuinely enjoy the early going of what I expected to be a chaotic start. Sure, there were some spazzy maneuvers and occasional crowds with which to contend, but nothing near what I was expecting. Kudos.

Speedy: The BB10K is a world-class race that draws fast runners from around the world and getting the opportunity to run among some of the world’s best is a treat. Throughout the week leading up to the race, Boulder streets were filled with world-class talent and it was terrific to get to see their prowess up close and personal. It was also quite nice to be able to run with others throughout an event vs. starting too fast, trying to hang with the front group, deciding that you are being an idiot and going out too fast, then dropping back into no-man’s land between groups for the remainder of the event. Not like that has happened to me or anything. *cough*

Effort: My race strategy was to stay in control and glide the first four miles then try to punch the last 2.2. I was able to accommodate these goals for the most part though I went a wee bit hard on the Casey hill just after mile 4 and had to recover on the following downhill and my punch lacked much… well… punch in the final 1/2 mile but I felt fine immediately following the race and am confident I will not miss any training volume due to the effort. Which probably really means I didn’t go hard enough but I certainly didn’t want this training race to get in the way of my training so I suppose I’ll chalk that up  in the “mission accomplished” column. Or something.

Goals: The biggest takeaway from the BB10K is that I neglected to set intermediate goals and my motivation suffered toward the end of the race. I left 7 seconds on the table for a sub-40 race and that is just lame. My only time-goal for the event was my ambitious sub-39 and once that became a statistical improbability, I had no other goals targeted and my focus waned. Poor planning on my part for sure but certainly something to take into consideration for future events. It is always a good plan to have something for which to strive even if your primary goal slips. Lesson learned.

All in all, I had a great day and am excited to give it another whirl next year. Hopefully by then I’ll have a faster qualifying time so I can race with the big dogs in the A wave. Since I am not really a 10K kind of runner, I suspect I will have to remain happy to finish 3+ hours in front of the elites.