Base Phase – 14 Weeks Out From Boston!

14 Weeks to go and less than 100 days until the big one! I’m already trying to reign in the excitement for New Bedford Half, 5 Colleges Realtor 10 Miler and VT City… but honestly, Boston is the only race that really matters to me.

It’s quite nice to have that tangible goal picked out and training planned to get you there in the desired fitness to run at the pace you want to. Compared to the seasons that I have focused on general training and improvement to attack multiple races, building each cycle around a marathon is far easier. And even easier still when it’s your job to just put the work in and leave the training plan and coaching to the experts! ūüôā Now, onto what that training has been so far!

Two weeks back I logged around 70 miles of easy runs with one set of hill repeats and two core/strength training sessions. This past week the volume went up a bit but we kept the runs at easy to moderate pace and my legs felt fairly fresh on every run. I was able to get in another two quality core workouts, which is my goal number. I’ve tried for three a week and some more serious strength training in the past but found that I would not have the time and once I skipped one or two sessions it was far easier to skip more than it was to add them back in. My goal is to get in consistent ancillary work this entire cycle, rather than high-low periods that I’ve often been beleaguered in historically. I’m self motivated in my training, but I’m also quick to depart from¬†intelligent training in favor of grinding out the miles every day, usually at too hard of a pace. An advantage I’m quickly finding in having a coach is that I can set my self motivated hard work or die attitude on following the training and advice and stick that like I would previously stick to stubbornly running hard every day. Obviously that means adjusting for sickness/injury/etc. now, but also for me, that means keeping up with the core work too and forcing myself to run easy on the easy days, even when I’m bored and want to turn it into a tempo. So, that being said, here’s a quick breakdown of the past week and the start of the new one with today’s long run.

1/4- 14 mile long run. Felt okay at first and quite good after making a quick pit stop halfway through, averaged 6:38 pace, with mostly negative splits.

1/5- 10 miles easy and 6×10 sec hill sprints

1/6- 13 miles easy pace, first actual cold day. Felt decent, little bit quicker at the end.

1/7- 5 easy -pause- 5 easy. Ran with my buddy Austin that waited for a few minutes and went back out for another 5 with the run club. Didn’t do the 13 scheduled due to getting very chilled on the second half of the run. Got in 45 min. core work after getting home late. 10pm workouts, w00t w00t! Not planning on doing that very often.

1/8- 12 easy, made up for missing a couple the night before after feeling pretty good the first 10.

1/9- 12 easy pace, but moderate effort. Random poor mood and poor stomach combined for a wicked start to the run, but after 8 miles I cam around and finished feeling good. Core work/strength for 45-1 hour again, felt great.

1/10- 6 easy pace to finish up the week. Started out too fast, due to first sunlit run in awhile, made myself hold it in and stay easy breathing by the end.

1/11- 17 mile long run. Felt comfortable, ran with DJ and Austin up in scenic Groton Mass mostly, found a great state park and ran on some snow for a bit, then came back to Ayer. Finished up with a few solo miles where I worked down from 6:15-5:46-5:40. Only felt like I was really working a bit at the end of the last mile, overall definitely kept the run in the easy to moderate zones.

This week I’m going to get in my first easy workouts of this cycle with a fartlek and tempo by feel on Tues and Fri respectively. Will try to update again next weekend post first couple workouts.

Signing off now feeling confident, determined and excited for more!

Year In Review – 2014 Edition

Today officially kicked off my training for Boston 2015! Ran 7.7 @ easy pace with some teammates this morning with strides after and 8.3 with 5.3 of 400 on/400 off/800 on/400 off fartlek this afternoon at home. Such a beautiful, warm Boxing Day, probably last¬†day of running in the 40’s for awhile, I loved it! Before I get carried away with¬†training, though, it’s time to put a stamp on 2014 and send it on the way.

On Friendship and Training Companions and Teammates
I’ve been so blessed with amazing friends and family my entire life. I truly cannot imagine life without a great support system and people to confide in and challenge me when they see me going astray. From my parents flying up to Boston from Kansas to watch me at Boston, to my new and old teammates alike, to my awesome friends at run group; I truly appreciated the special people in my life this year (And sorry for those times I didn’t show it!) Out of all the great memories Boston and the XC season stand out the most in my mind. At Boston, all three of my sister’s came to watch, from NY, NJ and MA and my parents and many friends lined the course too, at almost¬†every mile. I’ve said it more than a few times, but Boston was a party, seriously one giant celebration from start to finish. I started out the year with the Greater Lowell Road Runners and so many fans and runners from the club lined the route that it sounded like a constant cheer for “Lowell” and “Go Dan”, a truly special experience. Despite that singularity, it was one of the many times this year when I was stunned and humbled by the support and love shown to myself and others running. I got to spend some great time hanging out with friends and family over late Spring and Summer as I was running less. In VT to take my turn at supporting others running, in PA at my cousins wedding and on many a weekend where a long run wasn’t dominating my schedule. In the fall I made the switch from Lowell to the Sisu Project and though smaller in numbers, it was like Boston all over again at every race with the support and cheering. I’m so happy to have gone from one enthusiastic and supportive group of runners to another. Outside of the club and my family I also had many friends to rely on this year both in and outside of running. After a few years of almost every Wednesday together, I highly value the time spent with my run group friends. Quick to put me up for a night or two and ready to have fun at non-running events too, solid friendships for sure. Like I said, I’ve been incredibly blessed with great friends and family and 2014 was a great reminder of that all year long.

The Races
A year of trying new things and getting better at old ones! It’s hard to believe that some of the races I enjoyed so much actually happened this year as March seems so long ago, but Stu’s 30k and New Bedford Half Marathon are certainly in that category. They both changed my perception of my own ability in some way. At Stu’s I learned that my goal pace for Boston Marathon was totally feasible and maybe even conservative. At New Bedford I shot for a big PR and went one better for a minute under my goal time. Stu’s was a solo effort that started as a steady effort¬†and ended up being a solid tempo feeling run. New Bedford was a case of getting soft 1/3 of the way through and having a teammate pull up beside me to push me until the end for a great time for both of us. Boston was, well Boston, I’ll simply link to my recap and leave it at that.¬†A hiking injury a few weeks after Boston closed the book on my plans to run Vermont City Marathon on Memorial Day weekend, and consequently rendered me solidly out of shape for the first few races of the summer. But by Late July I had some good miles underfoot and was able to start checking off new personal bests. After getting a new 5 mile best at the Marathon Sports Weston 5-miler, I jumped right into shorter races and the quest to get faster! There were a couple slight detours, USATF-NE 15k in Vermont being the biggest of them; HOT weather and poor fueling combined for a brutal day. Mayor’s Cup 8K was another less than stellar day, despite feeling okay in the race, I realized afterwards that I did not push nearly as hard as I should have. Other than that, every XC and road race in the fall was just extra validation that a season off of marathoning was just what I needed. The final race highlight of the year was XC Club Nationals just a couple weeks ago, without question. One of the best weekends in awhile and one of my better race efforts this year to boot! I forgot all about running Hood to Coast Relay and just had to come back and add this. Another weekend that’s up there with Boston this April and Club Nats. The trip back to Oregon was everything I hoped for and then some, my awesome relay team were a blast and we killed it at the race. Not only did I have some very fun races this fall, I also ran workouts after many of them to work on speed/endurance with tired legs. The workouts combined with no tapering for any races but XC Club Nats, might have left me tired at times, but I can only imagine it leaves me stronger for marathon training.

The Records
As I mentioned, my goal this fall was to get faster over shorter races, having hit my goal times in the half and full marathon in the spring. Though at times it didn’t feel like I was getting a lot faster, I was very happy to notice the other day that every PR I have was set in 2014.¬†I might not have broken 34 in a 10k as I so wanted to, but a 34:01 will have to be my mark to beat as I try to skip 33 altogether next year and go right to the 32’s. The same story was true in the 5k where I really wanted to get very close to 16 minutes if not break it. I did only race 5k on very hot and humid days and still managed to get into the 16:30’s multiple times, so once again that mark will be there to beat next summer or fall (or maybe next month when I try my first indoor race, hey, who knows!) Apart from personal time records, I also hit quite a few “PRs” in other areas this year. In mileage, I once again hit a new high number for yearly volume, where I will finish somewhere around 3575 miles. I also hit my first 100 mile week and then repeated it a few times, peaking at 102 a few weeks before Club Nats this fall. A fact that gives me great pride when I consider that the first week of 2014 was my first week of 70+ miles. Through early season core work and smart stretching, dynamics and hill sprints I was able to stay healthy for almost the entire year, except for the one big injury that had nothing to do with running when I fell while hiking. At the beginning of the year I printed out a list of goal times for this year and hit every one except the mile, which I never raced anyway, apart from a relay when I had just resumed training again this summer. I have already picked out my goals for the half and full marathon in 2015 and a plan to get there, and I can’t wait to try and one up 2014’s successes.

The Highlights, The Whole Year
Friends, family, teammates, epic races, big personal bests, traveling to races, meeting so many amazing runners. How can I fully recount one of the most thoroughly enjoyable years of my life, I simply can’t. I’m just ready for 2015 where I get to do it all over again, with bigger goals and new races to run and new friends to make and old ones to grow with.

XC Club Nationals Recap

The XC season has now concluded for me, as has my training in 2014. Only recovery and easy runs from now until Boston training starts in a few weeks. On no better a note could I have ended, what has been my favorite and best year of running yet. XC Club Nationals might have been the most competitive XC race in the US this year and certainly had the best party and atmosphere! Only Christmas could dull the sadness of this weekend being over, I now understand the scheduling of it in mid December. It would be impossible to accurately sum it up in words¬†so¬†I’m just going to¬†touch on some highlights as I think of them.

The Team
The recap has to start with this, because the entire trip is owed to my awesome teammates for planning, logistics and support. I set my season up with this race as my peak, back in August, but I had only planned on racing it individually at that point and never dreamed I’d be going down with a new team! Sisu has already been responsible for some big improvements in my running and I feel like that potential to get better has barely been tapped yet. We certainly had people talking at the race and afterwards, with our enthusiasm and matching attire/mustaches game on a high level. No longer just a New England club, we are officially making our national presence known, not at the front of the race pack yet, but definitely at the front of the fun! So incredibly proud of our entire team at nationals, we bravely faced the best in the country at the biggest XC Club Nats in history and had a blast doing it. Next year should be a fun time out in San Francisco!

Team picture before coming home

The Race
I’m not sure if the intimidation level of¬†an event with a deeper field than NCAA D1 Nationals, or a bigger field than XC Nationals should be higher or lower when you’ve never run in college or even high school. I do know that, having run in a the five XC races of our New England Championship as my only cross country experience to date, this was incredibly intimidating for me, but equally exciting. After doing a few miles as warmup with the guys, while cheering on the girls team, I went through some dynamic drills and jogged over to our starting box for bib/uniform check. As if the intensity of the race hadn’t hit me already, none other than Matt Tegankamp should walk up to have the official check the numbers for Bowerman Track Club next. We were casually placed in a box just down from Asics Aggies, Bowerman and Zap Fitness, among others. Not to be too intimidated by it all, Matt led us in our standard pre-race huddle though; “What is our middle name? PASSION! What are we gonna do? GO FOR IT! Who is gonna stop us? NO ONE! YAHHHHHH!” Then we got in some final stride outs to add to the affect.
I often have a tendency to start way too hard, but that wasn’t even a worry here, when keeping up with the leaders would mean starting off at 4:40/mile pace. Instead I started out within a few seconds of goal pace and kept it there for the first two miles. I slowed down much more than I expected going up the hill in mile three that amounts to close to 700 meters, but cranked it back down in four and five. The hill got me bad again on the second loop in mile six, but I surged hard over the last 1.4k, passing a slew of other guys and even had some left for a flat-out kick at the end. I was fairly pleased with my race afterwards even though I was 20 seconds or so off my goal, the course had some muddy parts and the decent hill, but the smooth flats and even downhills definitely made up for it. The Paul Short Course at Lehigh might actually be my favorite XC course yet. I feel like with some more work I could really do well on it, it could also be the fact that it was a 10k and not an 8k; here’s to longer races! My official time was 34:19 and I finished in 376th place, considering the level of my competition, I’m absolutely thrilled with it. In few sports can a guy who took it up at 24 be in the same race as a cadre of professionals and sub-elites. It truly was an honor to be there and be racing against such great runners. But before I get too effusive in my thanks to the sport¬†of running, I will say that I fully intend on beating a lot more of those guys in this race next year. Here are some great shots of our women’s and men’s teams off of the Sisu FB:

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The Rest
I’d love to explain the rest of the amazing things that happened and fun times experienced this weekend, but I’m honestly not sure how to. Here are some high points though. Pre-race dinner and pretty much every other meal this weekend. Meeting so many great runners. Getting to know my amazing team better. Mustache compliments from the winning team. PAINFUL DAY AFTER, 12 miles of the hardest ‘easy’ running I’ve ever done, ugh… And last but the opposite of least, THAT AFTER PARTY THOUGH!

What a season, what a sport, what a team. Loved it all! SISU UP!

Catch the XC Nationals Recap Video here- Awesome work by Caitlyn!

NEXT UPDATE: Year end recap. Another best year yet, by a long shot!

The End of One Season (Coaching was a blast!)

Happy to report that we had a great time at NCAA New England DIII Regional’s at Williams today. Definitely reinforced one of the main things I have (re)learned this season; college kids are crazy. Haha But on a more serious note, there is a lot positivity in that craziness too. Life gets far too serious and boring, far too quickly for many of us post graduation and that makes it so fun to be around these kids with everything ahead of them and little reason not to be crazy, wild and happy. Our girls and boys both ran the races they were capable of on a moderately challenging course and everyone seemed positive afterwards. I’m honestly not sure who gets more out of it, the kids or the coaches, but I know for sure that this assistant coach had a blast all season long. I can’t wait to pursue more coaching opportunities and learn more about coaching and helping others with their running in the future. I’d love to help out through the indoor and outdoor seasons this year, but the reality of marathon training and working full time might render that an impossibility. It was easy enough working in my own cross country workouts while running the team workouts with them, but marathon workouts are pretty far removed from indoor distances.
That being said, this past week was week one in my transition from building work and volume¬†to sharpening over the next 3-4 weeks as I prep for Club XC Nats in 28 days. Started off with USATF-NE XC Championship 10k at Franklin Park, where I excised some slow/weak demons from Mayor’s Cup and ran much better. Even though I had the worst cramp or muscle spasm that I’ve ever had in my side on a run before in the race, still came away with a solid time. It naturally occurred on the last downhill with 1000 meters to go and though I was able to work through it and it subsided, my last mile was painful! My time was 30 seconds off my 10k PR, which doesn’t thrill me, but given the cramp and the difficulty of the Franklin Park course, it doesn’t make me cringe either. (ok, only a little, I did want a PR after all)¬†I felt great after a large post race brunch and decided to double down on the workout when I got home. There was just enough daylight left to get in a 6x1k on my favorite hilly grass loop and my splits were closer to 5k goal pace than 10k, felt strong. After a nice recovery run and hill sprints, I ran 14 on Tuesday with 9 of it fartlek; just went off of effort level and didn’t follow my pace, but felt like I was pushing it. Thursday was 3 miles at 10k goal pace followed by 5x1k at 5k goal pace. I couldn’t quite push to the right pace in the 3 miles after losing focus in mile two and ended up with a 5:31 avg, hoping for mid 5:20s. On the 1ks it was a similar story, should have been in the low 3:1x’s but avg. 3:18 per k. Still felt fairly happy with it considering I’ve only been working that kind of volume into a hard workout on race days, like last Sunday. The rest of the days this week have been easy days and tomorrow will by a tempo workout. I’m at 72ish miles for the week, starting on Monday, and should finish up with 86 or 87 after tomorrow. I would be grossly understating how happy I am with the volume I’ve been able to keep up since September if I simply called it satisfactory, but I’m not sure it’s helped me get much faster anyway. It has certainly given me plenty of confidence to hit higher mileage in my next marathon training cycle though, after I peaked at 91 miles in a week last time around and have already hit 100 in 7 days a few times in the past month. Now I just need to keep my mind focused on cross country for a few more weeks, before I let the marathon training and planning begin, but boy am I itching to get started!

So, here’s what’s next:
11/27 XC 5k tuneup with an untimed Turkey Trot in Moorestown, NJ
11/30 XC 2.8 mile race, USATF-NE Gran Prix final race and best chance for us to move up in the team standings and hopefully finish in second or higher! Brookline, MA (possibly followed by a hard workout afterwards)
12/7 Road 5k Winter Classic, tuneup for XC Club Nats in Cambridge, MA (probably followed by workout afterwards)
12/13 Club XC Nationals 10k in Lehigh, PA (followed by an epic party afterwards!!!)

Big Plans for Club Nationals and Beyond

Was listening to favorite radio station on the way into work (92.5 The river) and heard the Old 97’s Designs On You and it just popped into my head as I started typing this post. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had designs on 2015, but I still have one last ax to grind in 2014 and it starts on Sunday. (For the record, none of the other lyrics in the song, but that line in the chorus have any correlation to this post, just to put that out there)

The USATF-NE 10k Championship on Sunday will be kicking off my final phase of¬†hard training over the next month; as other commitments are coming to an end with coaching, it’s time to fully focus on my own workouts again. The other DJ Bash Bro and I have plans to try and get in as many workouts together as we can to get fully prepped for Club Nationals on December 13th. Sisu Project is gonna show up in PA and be ready to rep New England at the National Level, hopefully with stacked teams from some other local clubs too. I’m not psyched with how my last race went or my last couple hard workouts either, but after taking a day off for the first time in a couple months today, my body is already feeling anxious to start moving again. I’ve been really cranking out the volume with 520 something miles in the last 6 weeks and now it’s time to start cranking out the quality to match that. I don’t know how Sunday will go, I expect to do slightly better than at Mayor’s Cup where I just couldn’t get it going where I wanted pace-wise. But the real goal is in December, one last all out hurrah before I turn back to marathon training and some enormous goals for Boston 2015. I’m done trying to pick goal times for cross country races, I’ve learned my lesson with that, but I’m going to try and finish as high up as I possibly can in these last two races. Placement is paramount with championships and team scoring on the line! Oh… and I haven’t even mentioned the most exciting part, I will officially be a scoring member of Sisu Project on Sunday, which means my placement could actually help a team now! That will be my mantra as well, run for the team and SisuUp!

Short post as I have to get to bed, but two final shout-outs here. First, to everyone who ran NYC Marathon and Manchester City Marathon yesterday, the conditions were brutal, but everyone I know hung tough and made me proud! Second, to the XC team at Lasell, you all made me proud running strong and finishing hard in equally tough conditions at GNAC’s on Saturday, two more races this season to prove just how tough you are! Let’s do this!

Loving XC and Training Update

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La-dee-da, just skipping along through the woods. Credit to Ray Cloutier for the perfectly timed shot just before the finish line.

I’ve mentioned more than a few times that my running life didn’t start until my post college, boring adult life, necessitated a change in interests. I’ve often wondered what I missed out on by not running in the high school and college years. I usually console myself with the idea that I’d probably be burnt out by now, or by assuming that the person I was then wouldn’t have excelled or enjoyed in running much anyway. On the topic of cross country though, I thoroughly missed out; who I was then, who I am now, irrelevant in comparison to the pure fun that is cross country racing. There is no way I wouldn’t have loved this at any point in my life. It’s much more of a party atmosphere than other road¬†racing and much more of a team sport, at the club level. That being said, I am so happy that I’ve found it now! As is often the case, trying something new and out of my comfort zone led to a new favorite activity. I’ve been volunteering as the assistant XC coach for a local DIII college in addition to racing XC myself this fall and both activities have increased my love for running and the XC/Track and Field community in general. It’s been a lot of fun working with and helping train the kids and supporting and helping them at races. And as I suspected with my own racing, XC is surely my strongest department, having grown up running through the woods and hiking.

After hitting a new personal best over 5k in the first race of the USATF-NE XC Gran Prix, yesterday was another solid breakthrough! The last two weekends I raced road 5ks in brutal hot weather, so my plan going into the 8k yesterday was to try an run at close to the same pace as those races and hope that my effort level would be sustainable, given the more comfortable temps and mild¬†course. ( for the TLDR crowd: It was!) Before I break down the race though, I’ll briefly share what my training has looked like over the past few weeks.
Week of Monday Sept 15: Ran 7 times with one day of doubles, one race and one day off with a sore back. My workouts were on Tuesday and Sunday, the latter was a race and a tempo workout. Tuesday I ran 5 sets of (1×1200, 2×400 on hilly mixed loop) pacing the college guys (the 400’s were definitely all out, around 70 seconds on dirt in trainers) Sunday I ran a muggy and hot 5k in the morning at a 5:18 pace, PR for me. Legs didn’t feel too fatigued considering I had run almost 14 the evening before and ran 4 that morning to warm up. After my cooldown and some lunch I drove back up to Lexington, MA and ran a second workout consisting of fartleks. Started with an easy 1.5 and than ran 800 on, 800 off, 400 on, 800 off and repeated until mile cooldown for 8 miles total and 17.5 on the day, ended the week with 71, lighter mileage due to the missed workout.
Week of Monday Sept. 22: Ran 8 times with one day of doubles, one race and zero days off. Workouts on Tues, Thurs and Sunday. Tuesday paced college guys again, this time the workout was 1.6 miles hard tempo around Chestnut Hill Reservoir followed by 6×200. Ran first set in 5:33 pace for the 1.6 and 30 seconds avg. in the 200’s, second set was 5:30 and 31 sec avg. for the 200’s. Ran 1.2 easy before running a final solo 1.6 at 5:19 pace. 11.5 total with warmup and cooldown. Thursday was a big one too, 2 sets of 1×800, 2×400 hard on grass and 4×400 tempo on long hill with jog down recoveries, 11 miles total. Sunday was a 90 degree miserable 5k, but I still managed to run a 5:22 pace on the slightly long course. My afternoon workout was much better though, ran 1.2 warmup followed by tempo 8.5 (6:05 avg.) and 1.3 cooldown for 11 total and 19.3 on the day, with 80 miles for the week.
Week of Monday Sept. 29: Ran 8 times with one day of doubles, one race and zero days off. Workouts on Tues, Thurs and Sunday. Tuesday 2 mile warm up + dynamics (as with every Tues/Thurs workout) followed by 15 minute tempo from 6:00 down to 5:45 pace. Than 3×1200 hard, 1×1200 med and 1×1200 all out. Ran 7.5 as a long cool down. Thursday was one set of 4×800, 4×400 and 4×200, on the second set I only ran the 4×800 as my hamstring had start bothering me. Sunday was the aforementioned 8k XC race with a 5 mile tempo as the evening workout, 19 total on the day and 85 for the week.

Western Mass Distance Project XC Festival
Now, to go just a bit deeper into the race yesterday. I carpooled down to Holyoke with some members of the Sisu Project (cliff notes: super fun, super cool) I ran about 3 miles to warm up and did some easy dynamics before the race. Started off at goal pace for once, rather than going too hard and told myself to stay focused on running fast and ignoring everything else. First few miles ticked off really well and I still felt like my breathing was controlled (5:20, 5:21, 5:24) Mile four I did briefly lose focus a bit, but thought of Dennis Kimetto and¬†Emanuel Mutai¬†at Berlin and the big engines that they are, their hearts and lungs and told myself I was a big engine and also reminded myself to run tall and swing my arms well. That helped me tuck right in behind Matt Germain from Sisu again and try to stay with him as we were picking off a few others. Mantra’s for me aren’t something I plan out or practice, but if muttering in my head about being a big engine and thinking of Kenyan world record holders helps me run faster, I’m not going to stop it. Mile four was a 5:29. The last .97 I was able to increase in pace and find another gear finally, something I’ve been trying to work on very hard. Despite two of the only hills on the course (bumps really) I managed to get back to a 5:15ish pace and kicked up the hill at the end through the finish.¬†Official¬†time was 26:41.3, Avg. pace of 5:22¬†I’m psyched to have a good time to work off of in future 8ks and what would have been a definite PR for 5 miles, had it been .03 more. Looking forward to Mayors Cup in Franklin Park on the 26th and a well deserved little break from racing until then. I know Franklin Park will be a bit tougher course, but I’m hoping that the next couple weeks of training go well and I work towards another PR anyway.

GBTC XC Festival 5k Recap & Training Update

It’s been a while since I provided a training update, so here goes!

I know we’re already more than a week into September, but it feels like August has hardly ended. August has ended though and it was my biggest and most consistent mileage month to date! I put in about 350 miles and only one real long run, kept my daily mileage around 12 and got in some quality workouts, both on the track and in the xc spikes. It seemed to go by easy enough and my schedule did not seem too tight, a good indication that winter marathon training of 15ish miles a day should be doable. My schedule has been built around races on Sundays, XC workouts on Tuesdays and lighter track workouts or tempo runs on Thursdays. The rest of the days are pretty standard easy/recovery pace runs, except for Monday where I add in 10-12×10 second hill-sprints after the easy run of 7-10 miles. Sunday is the only day I’ve been running doubles, tossing in a short easy run in the evening after the morning race.

Since I last talked about training, I’ve run two races, both USATF-NE Gran Prix events. The first of which I detailed in my Labor Day 15k Recap, the second was this past Sunday. The first race in the XC Gran Prix series was hosted by GBTC at the beautiful Elm Bank Reservation in Wellesley, along the Charles. I’ve run through the woods there a few times and knew to expect lots of roots, but it wasn’t really that bad where they routed the course. The race played out in a fairly predictable manner for me, start too hard, pay for it later. I’ve become a much smarter runner in longer races, usually coming closer to even splits now, but with 5k’s I like to live dangerously and go out like a rocket. Since it’s not my chosen race distance, I’m not too worried about strategy and I like to take the Kenyan approach of trying to hang with the leaders and hoping it eventually sticks. This race almost did that for me, my goal pace was 5:20 average and I hit 5:22, despite going out in close to 5 flat for the first mile. It might sound like I bonked, but in reality, mile two had the one significant hill and mile three was half full of roots, rocks and a log. I felt like my effort was fairly consistent and I had enough left in the tank that I could kick at the end. I battled with a few guys over the first mile, two of them ended up beating me, but it was a quick intro to what XC is all about! My total time was 16:38, a time I’m very pleased with in my first ever XC race, but more fun than the time was the confirmation that I freakin loved it! (Article on the race with highlight videos on Level Renner) I finished my cool down and decided that my evening run would become another workout too, 5k is just so far removed from a marathon! I waited a few hours and then started with an easy mile before working down over the next 5k; 5:48-5:42-5:28-.1@ all out.I cruised back to the car and ended with about 8.5 total avg. of 5:59/mile. Legs felt like junk on Monday, but after 6 easy miles (with company for a change, thanks Nick!) and #10x10sechillsprints I was feeling fresh again!

That brings us up to Tuesday’s workout, first workout as volunteer asst coach for the Lasell College XC team! It seems like this will really be a blast and after the first two workouts (again today) I’m starting to get a feel for how I can help out. Going to my first meet with the team on Saturday, will be a welcome distraction from thoughts about racing the Lone Gull Gran Prix 10k on Sunday! After a good workout on Tuesday I was planning on a midweek medium long run last night, but opted to skip it altogether to go out with coworkers and celebrate one of our favorites moving on to new opportunity in Chicago. First skipped workout in awhile, but my legs felt good in the 16 miles of easy running I did tonight. Tomorrow I’m planning on an easy 12, followed by easy pace 10 at some point on Saturday and then aiming for my first sub 34 minute 10k on Sunday!

Almost forgot, congrats on making it through another summer everyone! Enjoy the best season for running and life in general; go eat all of the pumpkin everythings!

Almost forgot, double down! I registered for Boston Marathon 2015 on Monday, right at 10AM! See you on April 20th, Boylston St!

Training Through Discomfort

On Tuesday I was going strong¬†on one full night of sleep out of the last six and was suffering from day two of a head cold. God delivered up a nice dose of humidity to really challenge my motivation, too. All day at work I was just thinking about how excited I was to go try a new workout and then trying to convince myself that I really was. I ended up leaving work with every intent to workout still in place and arrived at the park down the street from house with my ambition still intact. I set a wider goal pace range in my head to account for sickness and humidity and tried to be okay with the probability of running a slower workout than last week. I often try to mentally trick myself when I’m not feeling 100% by coming up with acceptable margins of error on my paces. I realign the goals for the workout, the trick is, I still fully intend to run the original pace. It doesn’t always work, but I can often start repeats easier when I’m telling myself that it’s okay to be slower and then charge to the finish to hit the desired pace.¬†

The selected workout is recommended by one of my favorite coaches, Brad Hudson, as a good 10k sharpening workout, best run at goal race pace 3-4 weeks out from¬†a peak race. As I am preparing to race Lone Gull 10k in a few weeks and then some XC 10k’s after that, it seemed like the perfect time to do it. I elected to run on the rolling grass fields of Flerra Meadows¬†in Boxborough, I wanted to get some more experience running hard on the grass in spikes. The target pace was 5:29/mile or in this case, 3:24/k, the workout is 4x2k @ race pace + 1k @ max effort, with only 1 min active recovery.
Repeats went as follows:
1- 3:15-3:17 (too fast!)
2- 3:19-3:22 (okay, now hold it here!)
3- 3:24-3:23 (good, good)
4- 3:26-3:22 (eh, close enough)
5- 3:12 (close to puking on mucus build up, pleasant, I know)

My total pace including the 1 min. recoveries ended up being right at 5:38/mile average for¬†6.1 miles. My current PR in the 10k is at a 5:34 pace so I was very pleased to hit my goal pace or just under on the grass, with some hills no less. It was a great confidence builder to go into a workout with multiple things not being optimal and still hit the pace I wanted. It seems like I’m getting in shape to possibly break 34 minutes after all! Still felt a bit stiff on tonight’s 6×800 track workout, but ran under goal pace anyway to get some speed in, averaged right around 2:38 per, with 400 recoveries and 1 mile at goal 15k pace at the end (5:38) Because, yes, all of this speed will not be put to the test for another week, this weekend I’ll be racing a 15k and I need to remember the right pace so I don’t go out crazy hard and fall apart! Next weekend is the first NE Gran Prix XC race and it will be a step down for me to 5k. My hope will just be that I can hold my 10k goal pace over the 5k XC course and use it as a starting point for XC racing. Tune in next time to read about some other new and exciting running happenings in my life and hopefully a positive race report from the GMAA 15k in Burlington, VT this weekend. Go Angry Chickens! (Greater Lowell Road Runners)

Hood to Coast Relay 2014

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This group of amazing, lovely people just shared a fantastic experience.

Where do I even begin? Honestly, there is no possible way I can remember every noteworthy quote, event or laugh from this weekend. I simply must write down what I can though, so more of it isn’t forgotten, this was the kind of weekend you never want to forget.

Wednesday, August 20th 2014
Started shenanigans early by crashing at my friends apt after run group the night before flying out, to make carpooling easier. Pre-travel excitement and talking meant a 2AM bedtime and only a couple hours of sleep (precursor of things to come!)

Thursday, August 21st
Another awesome run group friend brought three of us to the airport for 7AM flights out west. My flight was supposed to be a double layover in Salt Lake and LA, but Delta found room on a direct to LA, saving me some hassle. Continental flight passed without note, uncomfortable and long as always. Layover in LA was quick and I found some delicious burrito fuel in the terminal. Had my first LA celebrity spotting on the flight to Portland (Craig T Nelson) and arrived at the Budget rental car outfit with two hours to kill before the rest of the team started arriving. I stowed my luggage in the back due to the kindness of the people working there and went for a nice 9 miler after some good dynamic stretches. It felt so good to be out running in the dry western air after traveling all day and I ended up running at a quicker pace than most easy runs. Once the team arrived I succumbed to a quick bee (or was that wasp… maybe yellowjacket?) sting and we were on our way to Hood River for the night. We made a quick stop at Multnomah Falls¬†before arriving at the cleanest and nicest 2 star hotel I’ve ever seen. The second van with the rest of our team met up with us at the hotel and we set out to find a great dinner spot. Hood River was simply too cool and thus every restaurant was packed, so we took the bridge over to Washington and drove up a bluff to find a perfect little brew pub with great food. Of special note: the best sweet potato fries in the world. Exhaustion quickly set in and we hit the bunk as soon as we got back to the hotel.

Friday, August 22nd (Hood to Coast Day 1)
With a 2PM start time we were given the luxury of sleeping in, a rarity when racing! Up by 8AM anyway a couple of us wandered into town and found some hip breakfast spots. We then rendezvoused with some teammates to stock up on food and supplies at the Safeway across from our hotel. Van number 2 had an interesting collection of snacks as the two self proclaimed selective eaters of the van ended up doing the shopping. Makena and myself came away with some real home runs though as it turned out. I also bought myself some sweet “Ironman” sunglasses to wear having left mine at home. We loaded the vans and departed for Mount Hood around 11AM, only one LED laden sword was left at a gas station on the way and Van 1 reclaimed it in time for check in at the Timberline lodge and van decoration on the mountain (I’ll include some pictures of our epic vans once they are posted) We got groovy to the start line music and explored the mountain a little before the start time was upon us and the real insanity had begun.

Run group besties, Makena and Trish. These girls came all the way to Oregon to race with a bunch of strangers! Love them! haha

Run group besties, Makena and Trish. These girls came all the way to Oregon to race with a bunch of strangers! Love them!

Friday, August 22nd Cont. The Race Has Begun!
Our fabulous team captain, Emily started us off as runner number one. The first legs was a quad busting huge elevation drop over a few miles down the mountain, but the elevation shouldn’t have affected the Denver resident at least! We quickly distanced ourselves from the trials of running down Mt. Hood as we proceeded to the first van exchange point at the end of leg 6. Tim came up with the great idea to start tagging other vans with paint pens after what someone else had done at our last relay together. He and I went around writing R DUB ( for The Road Warriors) on the windows of every decorated van we could hit without getting caught, it was quite good fun! After getting in a good 3 mile shakeout run and walking around we started to prep for actual racing and Tim got warmed up for his first leg as runner number 7, we screamed as Brian wrapped up Van 1’s first leg and passed the baton to Tim. Arriving at the transition, Makena was rearing to get started, Tim came through covered in sweat as the sun was just then starting to descend a bit. We pitied the 80’s van 1 had to run in, but we were ready to bring in the gorgeous Oregon sunset as we looked forward to running into Portland. I was so excited to run again that I didn’t even spot where my leg started from and ended up throwing in a loop through a parking lot when the baton was passed to me. I was planning on running a tempo for the first leg and after a mile on the roadside I started to really move on a nice paved bike trail. I don’t remember how that first leg ended, but for the feeling of euphoria and endorphin high that accompany every hard run and relay run. Ariel and Steve continued down the same path I had been running on, through mostly blase scenery as the night fully set in, but Trish was lucky enough to run on the trail as it wound into Portland, passing animals, strange people and general Portland oddities. Thus concluded leg 1 for The Road Warriors!

Saturday, August 23rd
We drove on ahead to the next van exchange and we starting to feel the affects of it and looking forward to 3 hour naps… Or more accurately, awkward movements and the constant shout of, “Coming or Going?” from the man directing traffic next to our van. Near 3AM we started prepping for leg 2. Some of us shoveled down some hot food at the relay, most of us had some coffee and before we knew it, Tim was standing in the transition zone being hugged by Brian and handed the glowing sword. Tim began the ascent of his leg o’ hills and we drove ahead, hoping to beat him to the transition. Makena was ready with a few minutes to spare and also accepted the sword as she continued up what we believe to be the hardest single leg of the relay ANY RELAY, It was 5 miles up the side of a mountain on the dustiest gravel road. With warm food and coffee in my stomach, I was totally ready to tackle leg two when the sword came into view. The road of dust continued, mercifully flat on my leg, but still just as dusty. The transition zones from here until the end became giant clusters, and runners and vans were rarely at the same place at the same time. I did manage to find Ariel and hop back in the van dazed and covered head to toe in dust. Running with that sword was epic and the dust made it all the more surreal, though I’m convinced I can still feel it lining my throat. Ariel had a rather hilly leg and we were able to find the transition in time for Steve to take over. Steve brought it in strong on leg 2, but little did we know that was the end of smooth roads for the vans as we sat in traffic for the next 4-6 hours. After being passed by Steve, Trish wisely hopped out to walk on ahead and eventually run some extra miles to meet Steve at the transition. We did find Steve again, but poor Trish had to wait forever at the van relay as we spent our first hour+ in traffic to make it the few miles to her. After grabbing Trish we had a van full again and spent the time between van one’s leg three and our’s in a long line of vans, blasting music and having fun. We passed Mike as he was on his leg and were FINALLY able to make it to our relay point before starting the final push to the beach! The sun was back with an intense heat by midday and we decided to leave Tim standing in it as we forged on ahead. We wanted to actually get ahead of the traffic, transition area, organizational disaster that was the second half of the race. Things did not improve too much, but we did beat Tim there. Makena took the baton and stuck it to some guys on her leg, including an epic sprint up a huge hill to hand off to me just ahead of another team. I was pumped to start the final leg, and the first one with scents of salt water, the end was getting close! I really started to feel the heat, but pushed on ahead and soon it was Ariel out there in the thick of it! She held on like a trooper and passed off to Steve, who was more than ready to go on leg three. After swapping out a dry runner for a sweaty one for the last time, we drove into Seaside and awaited the arrival of Trish! Okay, that’s not entirely¬†what happened, we drove on ahead as Trish finished the epic relay by herself while we were stuck in traffic again and team one was on the beach already. We all hugged it out on the sand and tossed medals over our necks and then jumped in the ocean! Well, Tim and Matt jumped in and some of us waded around a bit, it was freezing! The desire for a hot shower and soft bed were just too great and the struggle was so real at that point. We loaded back into the vans and set ourselves towards Vancouver, Washington and a La Quinta. The drive took 72 days approximately, and the hotel had only given us three beds… but we hardly cared, time to sleep! Or rather keep the party going long into the night, after all, “Life is hard” was the quote of the weekend.

Sunday, August 24th
Up just in time for hotel breakfast, than cab to the airport to stow our luggage before wandering into Portland to explore and eat! The group was down to Tim, Brian, Makena, Trish and myself at that point, the others had earlier flights. We had an absolute blast in Portland and I just made my connection to LA before hopping on the flight back to Boston overnight. No sleep on the plane, but new friends were made. What a trip…

Monday August 25th
Is this even a real day? What is a sleep cycle? Where am I? Life is so stinking hard! I hardly remember getting my car and driving home, but I know I owe Brian big time for the ride from the airport. I had great intentions to only take a brief nap, post shower today, but six hours of sleep later and I barely had time to get a run in before sunset. So here I sit as my body now thinks that it doesn’t need sleep before going to work in 7 hours. Most fun race yet, can’t wait for the next one. The Road Warriors were the best, great people and great runners. This was a very condensed version of the weekend in a story format and I left out most of the funny, memorable and quotable bits to protect the parties involved. ūüėÄ I’m sure reading it will prompt me to remember all of the great parts in between that made it so special and that’s what writing it down is for in my mind. I could never tell the full story of such a ridiculous trip, but I will update with more pictures and shenanigans as they come to me.

Epsom OHD 4 Miler Recap

There I was getting all psyched up to write a post about my passion for running and recent race and I get sidetracked with a discussion on one of my other great passions, personal liberty and federal government abuses. I will now try to recap yesterday’s race without too much muttering on cover-ups and unlawful domestic spying…

Setting:
I raced a fun 4-miler in New Hampshire on Sunday; the course is slightly challenging with some quick, steep hills and a few rolling hills as well. The competition was solid due to the race being part of the¬†NH Gran Prix series. The weather was a little muggy, but quite cool, low 60’s, close to perfect for early August.

Race:
I started on the line and took off with a group of 10 or so, that quickly became 5 by the first turn 2/10’s of a mile in. There was a tall young guy to my right and a group of three in front of me for most of the first mile, we were all within a stride or two of each other and firmly in the race. The second uphill of the race and first steep one, is right at mile one and either before then or about that time I surged slightly and drew ahead of the guy¬†I had been next too. He looked legit in splits and a singlet, so I was a little worried that he might have eased off to save some for a later surge. But I quickly settled into a comfortable stride after seeing that despite two hills I had clicked off mile one in the exact time I was hoping to hit it (5:25) I opened up my stride¬†on the short downhill and focused on the three runners strung out ahead of me as mile two went began. Left to chase down were; basketball shorts-shirtless kid, the old guy and a BAA runner. I figured that I could reach the basketball shorts dude and possibly the old guy, so I made a plan to surge on the next longer uphill (the longest of the race, I believe) Sure enough, at the base of the hill I caught the older guy and drew past b-ball shorts kid who sounded like he was really working after trying to keep pace with the BAA guy. I even started to close the gap on the blue and yellow clad runner and somehow still had oxygen to breathe after the effort! I kept working hard up to the turn around at mile two and drew within 10 feet of the leader (mile two was run in 5:30) By then the old guy had dropped b-ball shorts though and was hot on my heels. Soon after the turnaround the old guy’s quick, shorter strides started sounding louder¬†and I moved closer to the edge of the road on my left out of courtesy. I was not looking for placement, but a specific effort level and hopefully hitting a goal pace. Sure enough, that move was all the motivation he needed and on past me he flew. I tried to focus on breathing and form and having fun, because it really was fun! At the top of the steep short hill at the three mile mark I did a quick watch check and saw that I was at 5:25 pace again, that really gave me some good vibes as I expected mile three to be the slowest. I started to work hard again after a complacent couple of tenths on the hilly bit at the start of mile four, I knew that I had only a long flat downhill left before the short uphill and crappy pavement of the finish. As my stride became longer and I was working all out I drew even with the older guy and then eased past him before the final downhill, a half mile out. From there until the end it was a max effort of restricting puke while still running hard. I did start to fade a little as I ran up over the messy bit at the end of the race, just as the leader started to surge too, he ended up beating me by a full 18 seconds or so as I covered the fourth mile in 5:31.

Closing thoughts:
My goal pace was 5:22-25/mile and I ended up with a 5:28 average. With the moderate difficulty of hills on the course though, I think my fitness level was right where I thought it would be at. I did feel¬†recovered as soon as the race was over and put in a tiring but easy paced 9 mile run later in the day, for total mileage of 17+. I finished the week with close to 80 miles, so it wasn’t a tapered race by any means, and definitely not with two track workouts in the last 5 days on my legs going into it.¬†I am looking forward to another hilly course at the Level Renner 10k this weekend, I will attempt to run a similar pace of just under 5:30 and sustain it for two more miles. I think it should be doable and I should have plenty of fast people to chase down on the way, too.