CVS Health Downtown 5K Recap

After a week of delightful fall weather, today was back to 80% humidity and high 70’s, just have to start with that. I began to think I was getting pretty good at humid running, but this past week has made me forget all that and I felt weak and hot right away, while warming up. That being said, it was still a fun time and I felt like I put in absolutely everything I could, so no regrets.

Pre-race:
Another late morning wake up with an 11:15 start time and only an hour drive to the race, I definitely like these! I hit up Starbucks first for a breakfast sandwich and tall black coffee, per usual. Hopped on the highway and drove to the RI statehouse, claiming one of the last few parking spots on location. I wanted to get in a decent warmup as my lower back is still totally jacked and takes a good few miles to warm up and stop pinching my sciatic nerve. (I know, I know, but my chiro/Graston guy is on vacation until Monday) I ran around the ghetto that apparently is Providence; not hating, but if you can possibly move from there, do it. Anyhow, once I found the start line I did a solid 5 minutes of dynamics on a side street before fighting my way to the front of the corrals. Almost literally fighting too, I nudged a guy on the arm to go around him while saying excuse me and he started to talk all tough and told me the least I could have done was to excuse myself. I tried to laugh it off while explaining that I did excuse myself and he kept talking smack anyway. Didn’t let it throw me off my game though, I wasn’t about to not use my elbows and get stuck starting in the 20 min pace group. As it was I still had to dodge a couple randos in the first 400 meter who started up on the line with the pros while wearing the race day shirt…

The Race:
Mile one felt perfect, I tried to stay with most of the pro women per my plan, and hit the mile in around 4:56. A little faster than my goal pace, but the hill at the start of the race makes the first mile the fastest by far. By 1.2 miles, however, I was ready to quit. Felt like the humidity and quick initial pace zapped me completely and I just couldn’t deal with it. A guy next to me who I’d been chasing faded hard and pulled up onto the sidewalk, presumably dropping, and I instantly wanted to do the same. I caught sight of the lead pack coming around the loop near half way point and I had some more desire to keep pushing but my pace had dropped so significantly that I was already going to be short of my goal. I decided to try and stay locked in where I was, which I managed to do for the remainder, but boy did it hurt. Mile two should have been quite fast, being totally flat, but by hitting the two mile mark in 10:19, I felt like I was dying. I did pull up beside Amy Van Alstine of Northern Arizona Elite at about 2.5 and I tried to help pull her along, she looked like she was feeling even worse than me, small consolation. I did feel slightly better by the end of mile three, but it ended on the uphill from mile one, so my mile split of 5:29 looked even worse on paper. Last tenth or so I hit in 40 seconds, for a total time of 16:28, by the watch. Official time was 16:32 according to my chip, even though the clock read 16:30 after I crossed the finish and I didn’t start on the mat, but four rows back, behind all the pros. I suppose I have to go by the 16:32, which means I didn’t even technically hit my “easy” goal time of 16:30 and have now had to sign up for another 5k this weekend to try again. At the finish line I grabbed a couple waters and turned to hand one to the person behind me; Sara Hall… “Hey want a water?” She grabbed it in a daze and walked past, making me feel better about how crappy I felt. I liked the going out hard and trying to stick with it approach, something I would never risk in a longer race. I think I will go out slightly easier effort wise next time and try to speed up as I go. I definitely feel like the sticky weather and horribly out of place back were contributing factors to not being able to breath, which is probably what made my legs feel zapped, the lack of oxygen in the blood. I’m not actually that unhappy with the race though, I followed my plan, I just couldn’t hang on that day. Finished in 77th place, but it was a USA Championship race so I’m not complaining; very small minnow in a big ocean there. Official pace was 5:19 avg, watch pace was 5:17. Onward and upward, another breakthrough is coming soon, I can feel it!

Post Race:
I finished up with a couple easy cool down miles and some light stretching. I jogged back to the finish line area afterwards and watched the awards being given out, it was super cool standing there among the pros. I’m standing there drinking some water next to Matt Centrowitz, no big deal, Al Sal and I had already exchanged a head nod. I wish I’d stuck around a little longer to try and get a chance to congratulate Molly Huddle on her huge win, she seems like a total class act and is one of my favorite pros. If you have the chance to run this event or one of the other USA Championship races I highly recommend it. It feels very encouraging to be an avid runner racing beside (re: behind) the pros and milling about after the race with them. Runners are a close knit group that by and large understand each other and it’s pretty cool that due to the smallness of our sport, our pros can still fit right in that normal group. There are only a few things I like about running being such a small, fringe sport and the easy access to the pros is definitely a big one.

Second Workout:
With warm up and down, plus the race, I was only at about 9.5 miles and after warm down and a bunch of coconut water I felt ready to run again. I drove back up past Boston to my favorite trail in Lexington Ma. and planned on a fartlek at whatever paces I could manage. Decided on 8 miles with one warm up and one cool down; ran 400 & on 800 off, 800 on & 800 off, and than repeated until I was left with a mile and a half to go and used that to cool down. I was so depleted and tired by the end of the fartlek portion that my arms and legs felt shakey. It’s also been awhile since my legs were sore while I was still in a workout, usually have some post workout soreness, but not during. Definitely feel like I put in some real muscle building and endurance building work between the two workouts. 17.5 miles on the day, with close to 9 at hard or just under, effort level. Finished off the week with 71 or so miles, right near my goal mileage when accounting for taking Friday off with my back killing me. All this talk of my back killing me and I did finally have a chance to go to the chiropractor today and feel 100% better. Tonight’s recovery run was so good that I had to hold myself back for large portions of it.

Results and articles from USA 5k Championships:
Level Renner Recap
Let’s Run Results

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)

Level Renner 10k Recap

Race Thoughts:
Sometimes you need time to reflect on how a race went to get a good reading on it, sometimes you finish and are already ticked off at your performance. I’m no seasoned racer, as this was technically my second 10k ever and first on all roads, but I had a plan and I didn’t follow it, that bugs me. I only ended up 4 seconds a mile off my goal pace, but when I look at my last 3 splits and see 5:40 something I can’t shake the annoyance. A positive split marathon doesn’t bug me too much, but a positive split 10k where I hit a 5k PR in the first half is stupid; a conservative start could have saved me in the end. That being said, having miserable indigestion for the majority of the race was out of my control (mostly) and that was what kept me from actually being able to breathe at goal pace. I don’t believe in using excuses like that though. I am happy that I started to feel stronger again near the end (after some good burps… tmi) until the big ol’ hill to the finish nearly induced some puking. I would give my efforts a c+ at best, mostly because I just didn’t stick to my plan, but also because I didn’t buckle down and get back to work once I started to slow, but rather played mind games on myself. A PR is new baseline though, and even though I was hoping to break 34, I only have 36 seconds to go now, rather than two minutes, next attempt will be at the Lone Gull 10k.

Event thoughts:
The Level put on a top quality race, just as expected! The course was closed to traffic, of the automotive variety, plenty of walkers around, most of whom cheered for us. The swag was awesome, 3rd place age group still netted me a sweet mug and athletic bag. The entry price was CHEAP and I didn’t even register early, the post race food and raffle were also top notch. Not only did the Level do the race right, but they attracted some great talent too! I started on the line with Sully (James Sullivan) and we quickly watched 5 or so guys charge up the first hill at a much faster pace than we wanted! I ended up finishing 7th, but the difference in times was immense, then again… I don’t mind being beat by the likes of Amos Sang (63 min. half) and Nate Jenkins. (2:14 marathon) Many congrats also to Sully who set a PR a week after finishing third at the Paavo Nurmi Marathon in Wisconsin. Good to see many familiar faces of the underground keeping it on the level today. 

What’s Next:
Next post will most likely be on the Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon. I’m flying out Thursday to run in the legendary (and original) 200 mile relay from the top of Mount Hood to the Oregonian coast in Seaside. I’m not planning on killing any of my relay legs, but between the sitting in a van and traveling, my legs will probably be shot by the time I get back on Monday. Labor Day weekend I’m planning on racing the GMAA 15k in Burlington, VT, another dead legs from 3 hr+ drive to get there will make that one a challenge too. Now to munch on some Tums or something, seriously, what is going on with my stomach today!?

Thoughts From an Injured Runner

Could it just be the Beatles 1 that’s put me in this good mood? Nope, it’s definitely me being almost okay with not being able to run, finally! Okay… that’s actually a lie, I did core work tonight and push-ups to exhaustion (weak 42) After 10 days of no exercise, talk about a mega endorphin rush and bringing the pain that my masochist mind has SO missed! I am still fretting about my knee, of course, but the pain is mostly gone and the swelling seems to be also. I can’t say that I’ve had a day where I noticed no stiffness or awkwardness yet, but I’m feeling confident that by the next professional look on Tuesday I will be given the go ahead to test it out. I hope the lesson here is just one on patience in rehabbing and getting proper rest and that I will learn not to hike on ice and move on; with only the two weeks off. For now, no more thinking about how bad it felt when I tried to run last week, banishing those thoughts!

On to more positive happenings! This past weekend was the Vermont City Marathon and I had so much fun spending it with a delightful family of Vermonters. (cliff notes: we only ate waffles once, and we did use a ton of real maple syrup) Burlington Vermont is beautiful, or would be anyway, if the area around it wasn’t so beautiful that it relegated Burlington to merely the ‘quite nice’ category. I tried out some cool eateries and had a surprisingly good time cheering on my friends, without being too insanely jealous. I did feel pretty morose about not running when the leaders went past, not that I’m a 2:20 guy, but it looked so fun to just cruise through the streets. It was nearly a complete consolation when I got to scream for my friends though, some of them first time marathoners! Grats to Mark, Kurt and Dick for completing that first one and doing it well! Makena and her family were fantastic hosts and real a pleasure to be around and Makena finished in a great time and then walked around like it was nothing afterwards! Impressive. Also, big ups to my club Greater Lowell Road Runners, we had 6 strong runners out there, proudly repping the Angry Chickens! Still awaiting official scoring results in the first year of the Club Competition, but I’m sure we’ll have placed well!

Lastly, time apart from anything is a perfect opportunity to evaluate that thing and this injury has been no different for my training. I’ve been so eager to get back to training that I know this injury is the only thing that could’ve convince me to actually take a break. That is one of the positives to take away from this. I planned on taking a two week rest after Boston, but ended up racing 16 miles through brutal mud and hills six days later (stupid) In trying to determine where my training is during this downtime I’ve lookes back to what I’ve done in the last 5 months. I put in more work between last December and Boston than I ever have in anything. Running 1600 miles in training for Boston and running 20 milers or more nearly every weekend, with hard workouts twice a week, not counting the long runs. I ran at paces I didn’t even dream of a year ago, because I decided to stop worrying and just believe I was that fitness level. Despite all that work and time invested, I don’t feel even a little burned out, just eager to get faster. I’m ready to re-commit to eating right, doing core work, training my mind and body as smart, and not just as hard, as I possibly can. I know that the key when returning from injury is to go slowly and carefully so you don’t end up sidelined again for even longer, but I so badly want to be back up to peak training and volume again. I’m ready for beast core/weight sessions and 100+ mile weeks with 2-a-days, whatever it takes to get there! The smart plan has a goal at the end of it, so I have to have a ‘there’ to work towards. Right now that goal is to be healthy and fit, so it is my primary concern. However, with the desire to get faster and stronger much more exciting, I’m going to set that goal too, I’m just not going to give it a delivery date of any sort until I start training again. I’m not going to share that goal, partly because it’s not clearly defined in my own mind yet and partly because I’m going to keep it private until I’ve actually put my training plan together and signed up for a race(s)

Silly Injury and a DNS

DNS-Vermont City Marathon
My last post was written with lots of enthusiasm and the excitement of unexplored potential. This post, a few short days later, comes with all of the somber disappointment of a running life put on hold. I don’t know exactly what this is or how long it will sideline me until I have it looked at again next Wednesday, but for now, I’m a definite DNS for Vermont City Marathon and bitterly disappointed. I do know that my knee is still quite sore and stiff, I know that it was very swollen and had tons of fluid and I know that it isn’t able to be run on at all. I’m not too upset to be missing this race in particular as it isn’t a goal race, but I’m unhappy to not be able to run for Greater Lowell RR in the club challenge or run with any of my friends who are running. I will still be a spectator CHEERING SQUAD and will try to help everyone else racing however I can.

The Injury
I took a really hard fall while hiking on Saturday, bruising ribs and landing with lots of force on my knee. Good news; I was able to continue my hike and then get back down the mountain safely. Bad news; with a mile of descent to go it really started to bother me, swelling and stiffening up, I kept it as loose as I could though and drove home thinking it would be good in the morning. On Sunday I scrapped my planned 14 mile run, just to be safe, and by Monday evening I felt good enough to put in a few easy miles. My right leg was incredibly sore after bearing the brunt of my weight on the descent from my hike, so I was hoping to help it recover faster by running at least 4-6 easy miles. After a half mile of very easy pace my left knee was already starting to feel funny and I paused to feel it out, assuming that it would just take some working out I continued the run. After one mile I knew I was in a bad place and stopped running again, my knee felt like it was constricted and was already starting to swell up again. I’ve never experienced that feeling in any joint before and thus went through every stage of panic and feeling that I would never run again until finally having it looked at on Wednesday. The prognosis isn’t complete as I haven’t had an MRI done or anything, but my ART and Graston guy thinks there is a contusion behind the patella somewhere and between that and the hit that the bones took, it created tons of fluid and swelling which were combining to not let the knee track properly. That made perfect sense based on how it felt when I tried to run. He did some work to help the fluids drain and put some KT tape in place to assist with the tracking and gave me strict orders to rest and ice it. I’ll go back to let him see how it’s progressing and I guess go from there. If it hasn’t improved we’ll know there is some other more serious issues going on. It has steadily felt better the last couple days and the swelling and fluid seem to be mostly be gone, I’m just trying to be positive about it now.

What’s Next
It is very, very difficult to not feel that all of your recent hard work and fitness have been wasted when something like this happens. I’m sure any serious athlete or runner can relate to the feelings of helplessness and lost training. I’m trying to stay positive, because after all, Boston was amazing and my training over the past six months did lead to some big PRs. The only place I’m really not satisfied is the marathon, I know my fitness could have put me a few minutes faster had I raced an easier course on a less hot day than Boston and now I can’t prove it to myself. I guess that is a good sign though, when I’m fully content with my running it’s time to stop competing. I am still pleased with how I raced at Boston, I’m just itching to be even faster. Trying not to think about when I can start training and how long and slow that process to rehab this might be, I am still desperately hoping and praying that I can save most of the fitness I have right now and work back into a good place by the fall season. On the flip-side of that, I know there are some good lessons to be learned right now so I’m trying to seek God. Every time a trial hits me God has used that to pull me closer to Him and teach me big things. I do feel as though I’m am being trivial and selfish to some extent when I talk about it, because I can still walk around fine and my health is still great, but running is very important to me and I really want to improve so much.

Marathon Taper Time

Received my official runner passport for Boston, ready to pick up the bib in two weeks! I’m over the moon that it’s finally here! It seems crazy looking back to when I didn’t have a specific training plan in mind last November and had such lower goals than I do now, even back when I started training in earnest, last December. I gave Brad Hudson’s adaptive training style an honest effort this time around and I’m so happy I did, good race day or not, it has brought me so far already! As for the goals adjustement, I’m very happy I met some of the Greater Lowell Road Runner guys and joined the club, they’ve definitely helped give me the confidence I needed to bump up the training and the mileage to big boy levels.

Image

It’s officially taper time! As of today I have wrapped up my biggest week yet, 92.6 miles run and feeling better than I did a week ago. Some nagging aches and pains sustained from too many hours sitting in cars and meetings were worked out by the ART of Dr. Mui, once again! I had started to feel the miles and sitting catch up with me mid way through last week and made an appointment for this past Wednesday to get some good preventative work, rather than injury recovery. Within a few days I was back to feeling pretty good, though a little fatigued from the high mileage and still carrying some soreness, I think proper recovery with foam roller and the stick can get me over the rest of it. On to the training log, it’s been a while since the last update, so here goes!

Sun 23rd- (Planned) 24 mile easy pace run. (Actual) Ran 15 @ easy pace 6:30-7 min. + 10 @ 6:19 avg. Ran close to 7 by myself to start the morning, then paused for 10 minutes and ran another 8 with a local marathon training group all at an easy pace. 8 miles in on the group run two Greater Lowell guys came cruising past us at the base of Heartbreak Hill, of all places. After resisting the initial urge to keep pace with them when one of the other guys joined up, I caved in a few minutes later and sprinted the last half of heartbreak to stay with them and on into the city, finished by running up around the Charles on the Cambridge side and back to Boylston St. (25.1 total)

Mon 24th- Easy pace 7 @ 7:00/mile + 10x10sec. hill sprints (7.5 total)

Tue 25th- Progression 2m easy + 6 accelerating from marathon to half pace + 2m easy. This was my first day of travel on a work trip and started with a 7 hour car ride. The run was in biting wind and over epic hills in Valley Forge National Park. Ran at the right effort level even if my pace was slower than I wanted at times. (10.2 total)

Wed 26th- Easy pace 14, ran in Valley Forge again and than discovered an amazing flat and 40+ mile long rail trail for the last half of my run. Only a mile from the hotel to the park and the rail trail. Next work trip I will have a much better attitude about my running there! (14.2 total)

Thu 27th- Easy pace 10 planned. Got home after 8PM and another 7 hour car ride. Everything felt tight and awful by then, ran very slow and tried to stay relaxed. (7 total)

Fri 28th- (Planned) Threshold Run 3m easy + 4×10 min. @ half w/4min. active recoveries + 3m easy. (Actual) Workout skipped, complete rest day. GASP! It took everything in my mind to make myself take a zero day and let the body relax a little, it was much needed.

Sat 29th- (Planned) 7 miles easy. (Actual) Ran more; the farther I went, the better my legs felt. Did my rest day actually pay off? Am I finally training somewhat smart!? (11.2 total @ 6:52/avg.)

Sun 30th- Hard Long Run planned on 20 with 18 hard buffered by mile warm ups and downs. Realized that 20 would bring me to the base of Heartbreak in Newton when running on the course and couldn’t resist a final surge up and over with a mile back to the shuttle bus. I went into this run with slightly low confidence after the tightness and fatigue all week, but ended up feeling great! I ran the first 4 miles easy 6:39/avg. then hammered out the next 18 @ 6:16 avg. with miles 16-21 down to a 6:08 avg. Final mile was around 6:20 as I came back down the hill easier pace to cool down. Never felt like I was really at race pace even with a 6:00 mile over heartbreak. Fastest miles were on the toughest part of the course, too. I did have a couple brief stops throughout the run, for water, stoplights and traffic, but this really was a confidence booster! (22.1 total)

Mon 31st- Easy pace 10 plus 10x10sec. hill sprints. (10 total @7:00/avg.)

Tue 1st- Fartlek 12m planned with 8x2min. @ half pace. Did not feel great and cut it a little short, didn’t even get to half pace on the “on” sections, just wasn’t feeling it. (10.6 total)

Wed 2nd- Progression 14 with last 7 moderate, ran all 14 easy pace. 7:10/avg. Had my hips worked on prior to running and was trying to take it easy. (14.2 total)

Thu 3rd- Progression planned 10 with last 5 moderate. (9.1 total, last 5 moderate) Ran on my lunch break, on very little sleep, too much fluid and low fuel. Felt like garbage all run, and was happy to finish. Did 1.5 hours of recovery on the legs Thursday night.

Fri 4th- Marathon Pace run, 2m easy + 10 @ marathon + 2m easy. Ran the 10 @ a 5:55/avg. It felt okay, but more work than I could sustain over the marathon at that pace. Not too worried though as I was carrying soreness, fatigue and high mileage. I’m assuming that with a full taper and smart racing, I will be somewhere close to that pace on race day. (14.1 total)

Sat 5th- Easy pace 5 at noon + 7.5 pm with a friend on some trails, all nice and easy 7:00-8:00 min. pace (12.5 total)

Whew! Two big weeks of running to cap off this training. Very happy to have the hard work out of the way, now it’s time to be smart and prepare mentally! Total mileage two weeks ago was 75.2, this week was 92.6. Also reached a mileage milestone this week, I’m currently at 1041.5 miles for the year, first 1k is complete!

And What a Year It Was – 2013 by the miles and milestones.

It’s a prerequisite in the running blogosphere to write end of year reviews, so here goes! I normally hate on these things and poke fun at them, but I have to be the cliché one this year. 2013 really was something extraordinary, full of ups and downs and totally amazing. I’ve gone chronologically with the recap after scrapping my original plan of listing everything by importance and significance.

January
I got settled into life in Massachusetts by running a 5 Mile race on the first! Found a fantastic Wednesday night run group (Way up there on the ranking by importance list, btw) Made some excellent new friends. Saw my first professional runners up close in the indoor circuit. I took some time off to prepare for the next marathon cycle. Signed up for my first ultra (promptly bailed on it when the time came though and ran my fastest road marathon yet)

February
I bought my first race flats. Started training for spring marathon. I met and fell for a wonderful girl. I fell in love with running all over again too as I ran 212 miles in the month. Ran a 20 mile race in ice and sleet on an island and made many trips to NH. Got lost on a long run… ended up running 27 miles that day, oops. Saw the Lumineers for the second time and they were even better!!

March
Continued a high weekly mileage volume and started the month off with a super-fast 3 mile race, also truly learned the joy of running with someone else, many times over. I did ignore some nagging injuries that should have been dealt with (It wasn’t all fun this year 😦 ) I did finish in 2nd place in a ¼ marathon on a challenging course. I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading the Bible, as well.

April
How can I even recap April with any proper justice, it certainly deserves a post of its own, I will simply make an attempt. The month started with the welcome warmth of spring and boundless joy on every run. I started making a better work of my recovery sessions and running my ‘easy runs’ at an easier pace and managed my longest training run yet, a 50k training run. April 15th 2013 will not easily be forgotten, nor should it. As evidenced by being the most searched for thing on Google this past year, the whole country took it as a shock, tragedy and horror. I watched the marathon from the halfway point and still vividly remember the events of that day and nearly every detail, I’ll leave that for some other time though. Between sustaining my first 60+ mile weeks I also saw The Milk Carton Kids in April, second time and just as good!

May
Marathon madness for me! I ran Sugarloaf marathon and came away with a 6th overall and a big shiny new personal best as well as a nifty ceramic plate for taking first in age group! The last few weeks of training were typically underwhelming, but the race went well and I was very happy with the result. Vacationed in Maine and NH and had a blast. The month did end with a mutual breakup… and thus my summer began, full of questions and learning.

June
This will be the shortest recap as June was indeed the most boring month of the year for me. I started the month with a much needed multi-day hike with some good friends. I selected a fall marathon, chose a new training plan and started training. I did do a lot of reading, running/coaching focused and otherwise. The One Run for Boston came through on a muggy June 30th and was an excellent experience, full of positivity and resilience!

July
Started the month with injuries and the dreaded visit to a Dr. I only needed a week off  though and was able to rebound fairly quick. Saw the Bosstones! Ran a fast half-marathon on a very hot day and came in 2nd overall! In keeping with the year theme, the half-marathon was a PR, too. I really started using the adaptive running style advocated by Brad Hudson of the Performance Training Group and enjoyed a relaxed but focused training period.

August
Learned to embrace running in heat, no really, I didn’t hate every single run this summer. I had a good guy’s weekend in Portsmouth with K-West and Shirley Temple, always a highlight. Hit my “older 20’s” officially and instantly felt older. I finally bought a Garmin, life changing! Ran another half-marathon as a spec test for my fall race and came away with a big PR on a course with 2k’ of elevation gain! I finished the month with an epic quest for Heady Topper all over VT. Mmm… Heady Topper…

September
INJURIES! My first real injury and subsequent recovery time happened in September. Remember that lack of rest and proper recovery I mentioned back in March? No? Well, at any rate, my hip had been a problem off and on all year and it finally flared up so bad that I needed a couple weeks off completely and a few good ART sessions. Got in about a week of easy running again by the end of the month to prep for a now goal-less fall marathon. I learned the joys of proper recovery and back up races, too.

October
I ran a 2:54:30 marathon in some rain after a week and a half of training coming off injury. Got beat by my friend and still managed 7th place though. All sorts of lessons were learned on that one, most importantly, how to run a marathon just for fun and finishing. I made good memories all month with good running friends and non-running friends. I worked back up to full training, safely. In October I started seriously considering a move out to Oregon and spent lots of time and prayer on the idea, I also decided to book a trip out there. My good friend, Sam came out to Oregon with me and we spent a week at his brother’s house in The Yaak, Montana, too. The trip cemented my interest in moving west and though it hasn’t come to fruition yet, I’m anxiously searching for a job in Bend, OR. I learned the joy of running at higher elevation and with bear spray in my hand when I was out west and saw a million amazing and beautiful things.

November
The month started with my back-up fall marathon. The course was absolutely brutal and the weather tried to best the course’s hills for brutality. I ran out of gas worse than I ever have at 20 miles and had to grit my way to the end, my pace was all over the place due to the elevation changes. I was able to stay within 2 minutes of my PR and did not lose heart, just realized that my goals were not accurate for the course and based on my fitness level. I took a short break after the race and did some hiking and relaxing. I ran my first indoor track workouts and first track workouts with a group, something I will always look forward to now! Bounced back fast from the marathon and was able to get back to 50 a week for the second half of the month. Finished the month by Turkey Trotting across some icy fields.

December
Continued to hit 50 a week and finished a strong month of Thursday night track sessions with Greater Lowell Road Runners. I was able to get a huge PR in the 5k after all the track work and strong base building! Kept my eye loosely fixed on my mileage goal for the year that had seemed so out of reach post-injury, but now appeared reachable. On December 16th I started my training for Boston Marathon and consequently kicked off my fundraising for World Vision. I finished the year with a couple 60 mile weeks and no injuries to report. Crushed the mileage goal for the year by 47 miles, 2347! I’ve now gained 800 miles a year since I started running in late 2010!

 

I’m sure I’ve missed thousands of awesome, terrible and surprising; boring, fun and memorable happenings. This year was just too much to process at times, but so worth it for the lessons learned. As I wind this post down with Norah Jones quietly cooing on the speakers, I start thinking again of all the amazing things that 2014 will bring. I could not be more excited for this year to begin and though I’ve said that every year for a while, it’s still the truth. The west coast beckons, Boston Marathon awaits and many, many miles of running must be covered. BRING IT ON!

Big props in 2013 go out to my friends and family, both new and old; you helped get me through some very tough times and were a big part of all the good times. The shoes of the year were New Balance for racing/speed-work and Mizuno on the easy runs. Garmin came into my life and helped me with mileage and pacing. Chocolate milk and cottage cheese were the go to post run recovery foods until lactose intolerance barged into my body. Chicken was the go to food, usually in burrito or taco casings and I can’t count the number of new IPA’s that were tried. Well, that about wraps up the shout-outs and honorable mentions, so I bid you goodbye and goodnight, 2013.

Black Bear Half Marathon – Right Where I Should Be…

When you set a big enough goal, just being near it is a form of affirmation! I didn’t quite hit the time I was looking for this weekend, but falling 41 seconds short on a course with 1800′ of elevation does not make me feel like my training isn’t working. Contrary to feeling defeated, I feel resolved to get even stronger and work even harder. I love the fire it stirs in me. With consistent higher volume and aerobic training I’ve managed to work my 10k pace from a year ago into my half marathon pace now. The endurance wasn’t even the major challenge in this race. It was telling myself it was okay to start out at the speed I did, rather than trying to slow down.

I went into the race yesterday planning on using the energy and fellow competitors to help me reach a time goal, but the last mile was truly a battle to win it. Something I am still quite unfamiliar with. I ended up losing by seven seconds to a 15 year old kid running his first half marathon. To my credit and his though, we both dusted an accomplished runner from England and a pack of guys from Northeastern. This kid will have an amazing year of cross country if he has a 1:20 half in him at the end of the summer off. I was using the race as my spec test for my upcoming marathon, so I ended the day with about 18 total and I’m feeling all of them today.

My training from last week, leading up to the half:

Monday: Easy run 5 miles @ (7:10/mile) was slightly achy after a 20 the day before

Tuesday: Fartlek Training- 3 miles easy + 8X3 min. @ half marathon pace / 2 min. @ easy pace + 3 miles easy — 12.4 miles total (5:50/mile avg in the “on” sections)

Wednesday: Easy run 5.5 miles @ (7:11/miles) Easy run 5.5 miles @ (7:23/mile)

Thursday: Easy run + hill sprints 8.3 total @ (7:18/mile) Very muggy trudge

Friday: Fartlek run- 1.5 mile warm up + 5 miles with 9×30 sec. @ 5k-400m pace every couple minutes in. Plan called for 4 total with the fartlek, but I felt like adding on.

Saturday: Cheered on my dad and a bunch of friends in a local 5k, they all ran hard and two of my friends snatched big PRs! I ran 2ish total @ (7:00/mile) just to keep my legs feeling okay.

Sunday: Race day called for an early morning drive to the course up in the mountains. Arrived early enough to register and get in some good dynamic stretching and a 2 mile warm-up @ (8:07/mile) I ran a few strides to clear nerves and tighten up my legs before the race and my joints and legs felt just okay. They did not feel totally great, but that’s usually a good sign for me. I ended up running closer to 13.2 with crossing the street multiple times, etc. My pace on the watch was (6:07/mile) one second off of my goal pace, felt alright! I did feel like puking as I ran the last tenth to the finish, preventing me from putting in a strong enough kick to even go for first place. My last mile was a 5:58 though, so that was nice. Finished up after the race with another 2+ miles @ (7:30/mile) and some more easy stretching and a little rolling on my hips.

Total weekly mileage was 63+
(All runs were in New Balance 1080s and 1400s on the easy to medium runs and 1600s for the race.)

Song of the Post

Picture of the start/finish area of the race. Spectacular!

 

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