Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Less than a week to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training.



We are 5 days from the TCS NYC Marathon, and there is really nothing left to do but get to the starting line. Last week was the last of the harder workouts with two threshold type efforts on Sunday and Thursday. Overall, the 12 week build-up has been another step forward. After my first 4 week stretch at altitude in Flagstaff, my threshold efforts, long tempos, and long runs were all slightly faster. I also put more time in on pavement to prep my legs for the extreme pounding of 26.2 miles on November 2nd. These are only small differences in an otherwise consistent block of marathon training. It is very difficult to predict one's exact fitness in the marathon, as opposed to the 10km for example. What I can say for sure is that my fitness and preparation are better than when I ran 2:10:57 in London this year, and that puts me in a position to do big things in NYC this weekend.

Over my short marathon career I have so far proven to be a consistent racer at the distance. Much of that has to do with maintaining a certain comfort level during the first half of the race, this may have to be tossed out the window come Sunday depending on how the rest of the elite field decides to race. In New York, the second half of the course is quite a bit more challenging than the first, so it is very difficult to make up a lot of ground if you've lost contact with the front pack. I would like to be a little more aggressive this year, and put myself in that top 10 group early on and attempt to fight and hang hold on over the second half. With that said, I am not suicidal, and I will make judgement calls on the spot depending on how severe a particular move or push is. I attempted to race intelligently last year by letting the front group go and running with a second pack that ended up dissipating and leaving me on an island on a cold and windy New York morning. I will try to avoid that this year. I do not care what my overall time will be, and I will not try to predict one; I want to compete. The anticipation is building as I imagine the NYC startline, the massive crowds lining the entire course, and the atmosphere of the city. Check out the NYC promo video put together by Startling Line Designs and get excited for 6:45 AM EST Sunday on ESPN2!

While I'll be spending most of the week resting and focusing on the race, you can find me on Friday  at Paragon Sports at 1:00 PM as well as the NYC Expo with Brooks at 3:00 PM, so come by and say hello. I will also be at the opening ceremonies at the finish line at 5:30 on Friday. Thanks again for reading, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.


Week 11 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Sunday 3 mi warmup, 3 miles (4:43), 2 miles (4:38), 1 mile (4:37) on road + 10 mile run @ 5:48 pace off
19





Monday 11 5 30 minutes 16.5





Tuesday 12 + drills and strides off
12.5





Wednesday 10 5 30 minutes 15





Thursday 4 x 2 miles @ 9:24-9:26 off
14





Friday 8 7 30 minutes 15





Saturday Planned day off

0





TOTAL


92

Monday, October 20, 2014

2 Weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training.

It seems like the taper stage of a marathon training segment should be something to look forward to, but it brings its own challenges. As the volume decreases in terms of weekly mileage and workout length, the training tends to get faster, bringing on a different type of fatigue than the earlier stages. This is planned, but that doesn't make it any easier. The real rest will come the final 10 days when volume and intensity drop significantly. While the rest is certainly welcomed, it also means the start of a little anxiety and restlessness as the race approaches. I'd love to say that as soon as the marathon is over you can finally relax, but the truth is that I spend the next day or two analyzing every detail of the race in my head trying to figure out where mistakes are made. That is why I have made it a habit to travel ASAP following the marathon. It's important for me to completely remove myself from the environment for a few weeks. This year I'll be heading to South Africa 3 days after the NYC Marathon. Our first week will be spent backpacking in the Drakensberg Mountains, and we will then take a more relaxing approach by hitting Cape Town and Kruger National Park. After the backpacking trip, I'll slowly easy myself back into running and take advantage of the summer weather and beautiful terrain. In all, I plan on about a full two weeks away from running. After only taking a week off after London, and a few days off after the track season, I think the break will be overdue.

I'm already getting ahead of myself here. Another great week of training is in the books, and I'm confident that I'm ready for the best marathon of my career come November 2nd. After a successful 4 weeks in Flagstaff at the beginning of the block, my tempos, intervals, and long runs have all been faster, and I've put more time in on hilly roads than before any of my previous marathons. I feel that I am significantly more prepared for the tough New York course than I was last year. I'll discuss more specific goals and race strategy in my blog next week.

I recovered well from the tough 16-mile tempo in Victoria and had a solid workout on the track on Thursday hitting a fairly even pace for all 8 miles of work. The next Thursday will be my last challenging workout (4 x 2 miles) before I enter full rest-mode. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and thanks again for reading. Follow me here on Twitter for more updates.


Week 10 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Sunday 3 mi warmup, 16 mi tempo (4:56 avg) on Victoria Marathon course, 1 mi cooldown off
20





Monday 10 Off – drive from Victoria
10





Tuesday 13.5 + drills and strides 4.5
18





Wednesday 5 10 30 minutes 15





Thursday 4 miles @ 18:53, 2 x 2 miles @ 9:23, rest = 4 min, 2 min, on the track off
15





Friday 12 5 40 minutes 17





Saturday 5 10 + drills and strides
15





TOTAL


110

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Less than 3 Weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training.

I'm getting this post out a bit late due to the travel surrounding the Victoria Marathon this past weekend. I made the short trip up north to play the athlete-support role for my wife's first marathon. Based off her training, we both thought a sub-2:50 was possible, even in her debut, but her 2:45 finish was quite a surprise to both of us! Those kinds of surprises are quite rare in the marathon, especially in a debut. It was also good enough to place her as the 2nd female in a competitive and established field. Most importantly, it was a positive experience, and Eva is already looking forward to her second marathon. While I did put together a training calendar for her, she was independent and took most of the training into her own hands. It is a dangerous game to coach your wife, but fortunately for my sake, training went without a hitch and the race exceeded both our expectations! The experiment can continue.

The trip to Victoria was also a great experience on my end as the elite athlete coordinator allowed me to do my final long tempo for NYC during the marathon. I started the first few miles with my wife as a warmup in order to give the leaders plenty of space, and I then started the 16 mile tempo in which I averaged 4:56. The course was more challenging than I expected. It has rolling hills the entire way. There aren't any long sustained hills like the bridges in New York, but it is definitely enough to mess with your rhythm each mile. I actually thought it was a great simulator for the NYC course, so I'm very pleased with my average for the tempo. I was also allowed to place my fluids on the course which made for an excellent race-day simulation. Since I ended up stopping my workout a little after 20 miles, I was left quite a ways from the finish, so I carried my credit card in my gel pocket and grabbed a taxi in order to make it back in time for Eva's finish.

There was one small snag the evening before the race. I was placed in charge of packing the PowerGels which my wife and I would mix into our bottles for our race-day fluids. Somehow, I left them by the door on our way out, and I did not realize this until Saturday evening as I began to prepare our bottles. What an amateur mistake! All the local running shops were closed, and I didn't know anyone there with extra gels. Since my wife had been practicing with these fluids for her entire build-up, I obviously did not want her to experiment with something new on race day. I got up very early on Sunday morning hoping that there would be a booth setup near the start line selling nutrition products, but there was none. I then looked up the 3 running stores in town and starting running towards them in the hope that one of them may open early for race day. The first shop, about 2km from our hotel, was shut, but my second attempt was successful. Not only were they open, but they carried the Tangerine, caffeine enhanced, Powergel that we had been practicing with! A big thank you to the Running Room in Victoria for saving the day and potentially my marriage.

November 2nd and the TCS NYC Marathon is closing in, and the volume is consistently dropping. Last week marked the end of my longer marathon workouts, and I will now finish the training block with threshold workouts of approximately 6-8 miles in length. Feel free to check out last week's training below. Thanks again for reading, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 9 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Sunday 22 miles in 2:02:42 w/ 3 mile push from 17-20 (4:57, 4:54, 4:55) off
22





Monday 14.5 5 30 minutes 19.5





Tuesday 12.5 + drills and strides 6
18.5





Wednesday 12 5 30 minutes 17





Thursday 3 mi warmup, 4 miles @ 4:46, 4 miles @ 5:50, 4 miles @ 4:46, 4 miles @ 5:40 continuous on road off
19





Friday 12.5 Off – drive to Victoria 30 minutes 12.5





Saturday 12 4.5 + drills and strides
16.5





TOTAL


125

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Less than 4 weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

We're down to just under four weeks to the TCS NYC Marathon, and I've completed my last big week of volume for this marathon build-up. With last week being at 140 miles, each week from now on will drop by 15-20 miles per week heading into the race on November 2nd. I still have several hard workouts in front of me, but they will ideally be getting progressively faster as I drop the volume and start to freshen up.

Sunday's long run consisted of my pace job in Berlin, which I discussed in last week's blog. The other workout for the week was a 6 x 2km repeat workout followed by an hour of moderate running (averaging around 5:40 pace) with a 200 meter jog recovery. While the 2km repeats were slightly faster than I have run before, the hour run preceding the workout was significantly faster than my last attempt at this workout in the spring and the recovery shorter. It's fair to say that I recovered from the pace job and travel from Berlin very quickly.

The last long run workout will be coming up next weekend in Victoria, BC. My wife will be running her first marathon at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, and after writing her training for the last three months, I will have to be there to see how it turns out! The course will be flat and scenic, it will be very well organized, and the weather will be exactly what we're used to; it's the perfect place for Eva to debut in the marathon. I have a 15-16 mile tempo planned for that weekend, and Jonathan Foweraker, the Elite Athlete Coordinator, has generously allowed me to enter the marathon in order to practice my fluids during my long tempo. He has been extremely accommodating, and I'm looking forward making the short trip north and being part of the race weekend.

As the mileage slowly starts to wind down, I have more time and energy to think about the TCS NYC Marathon. My coach, Dave Smith, and I are chiseling away at a race plan based on the various scenarios that my be presented. My travel is sorted, promotional material is being put together, and I'm beginning to slightly feel the reach of the pre-race jitters. These next few weeks will fly by, and I'll be jogging around in Central Park before I know it. I've got to make the next couple of weeks of training count in order to take another big step forward in my marathon career. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates. Thanks again for reading. Big shout-out to Starting Line Designs for the new Blog, Twitter, and Facebook artwork!

Week 8 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Sunday Warmup + pacemaking Berlin @ 5:19 pace off
27





Monday Off – travel from Berlin to Portland 14
14





Tuesday 15 6 + drills and grass strides
20





Wednesday 14 5 40 minutes 19





Thursday 1 hour moderate run, 6 x 2km (5:54, 5:52, 5:52, 5:52, 5:52, 5:52) w/200 meter jog recovery 4 mile shakeout
23





Friday 12.5 6 40 minutes 18.5





Saturday 10 5 + drills and strides
18.5





TOTAL


140

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Less than 5 weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

Last week was a planned down week in terms of volume and workouts. The down week was originally planned for a week earlier, but after committing to pace Shalane Flanagan at the Berlin Marathon, we decided to swap weeks for obvious reasons. We had a 2 x 4 mile workout planned for Wednesday, but I could tell during the warmup that my body was not ready for the prescribed pace of 4:40-4:42, so I opted for a fartlek instead. The previous week was probably the toughest week of marathon training I've ever had (see previous post), and I felt it for a few days. I backed off the intensity and volume for the second half of the week, and I bounced right back. I generally have one or two brief points during my marathon training blocks when I push a little too hard and am forced to recover for 2-3 days. I have learned not to become frustrated when these come up. I simply give myself the required recovery, and then I am ready to continue where I left off.

While Shalane did not meet her goal of setting the American marathon record, she did achieve a huge personal best as well as a top-3 finish at another Marathon Major. She requested an aggressive pace through the half-marathon (69:36), and she gave it everything she had the last 10km to try to hold on. She was hurting so bad at 20 miles, I am astounded at the mental toughness she showed to power herself to the finish line. I was thankful to have Rob Watson by my side for the pacing. While I was confident in my ability to hit the pace, having a partner really helped take some of the pressure off.

My original workout planned for Sunday was a 3 mile warmup, 4 x 2km @ 4:40-4:42 w/200 meter jog recovery, 10 mile moderate effort run, 4 x 2km, 3 mile cooldown. Even though pacing for 41km was a tough day, the planned workout would likely have been more challenging and added up to almost the exact same volume. I handled the travel very well in both directions, so overall I think it fit right in with my NYC training. I do hope to run the Berlin Marathon at some point in my career, so it was beneficial to get a feel for the course and meet the organizers.

On a side note, I hope you will all take the time to check out this video from Matt Llano and NAZ Elite. Matt came out as an openly gay athlete in December, and he has now given a touching and in-depth interview regarding his experience. I was able to spend some time with him in Flagstaff during my altitude training last month and he is a phenomenal runner and a fantastic person. Matt is looking to help other athletes in the LGBT community with his story. You can help by watching the video and sharing it with others.

Thanks again for reading. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 7 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Sunday 24 off
24





Monday 14 + drills and strides 6.5
21





Tuesday 14 6 40 minutes 20





Wednesday Fartlek 4 x 10 minutes hard travel to Berlin
15





Thursday travel to Berlin 7 miles easy post flight
7





Friday 12.5 6
18.5





Saturday 10 5 + drills and strides
15.5





TOTAL


121

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Less than 6 weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

I am back to solo running for the most part after returning from Flagstaff, but it has given me more time to focus and reflect on the coming NYC Marathon this year:

The New York Marathon is the biggest marathon in the world, and New York is one of the greatest cities in the world. The participants, the crowd, and the New York Road Runners come together to make this event unimaginably massive, incredibly inspirational, and absolutely intense. It is arguably the world's most competitive race on the most challenging World Marathon Majors course. To place well at the TCS New York City Marathon you must be tough, you must execute a well-thought out race plan, and you must be competitive. It is the cross country of the marathon world, and that is definitely my style.

The New York City Marathon is the pinnacle of road racing. It is home to some of the greatest marathon performances in the history of the sport. Combine this with the atmosphere, the terrain, and the competition and you have the recipe for the word's greatest marathon. No matter your credentials or personal best times, New York is the true test of a marathoner's metal. 

Every marathon gets tough around the 18-20 mile mark. If you have prepared accordingly and executed your race plan well, this should be where the real race starts. This is typically the gut check point for marathoners and a point when I begin to question myself. While I've improved in each of marathons at having confidence at this point in the race, NYC will be a whole new mental and physical test as I plan to be more aggressive and mix it up with the lead pack. New York throws in it's own twist on this barrier as you enter Central Park at around the 23 mile mark. Central Park is hilly and full of turns at exactly the toughest part of the race. So much can be lost or gained during this short segment: minutes, places, glory, money can all go from bad to great or great to bad in the telling last few miles of the New York course. 

With just under 6 weeks left to the TCS NYC Marathon, I have another big volume week in the books. I ended up hitting back to back 150 mile weeks in preparation for having a few down days with travel to Berlin where I will be pacing Shalane Flanagan through the majority of her American  marathon record attempt. I had some recovery time built into the schedule already, it was simply pushed back until this week. Not only was last week high volume, but I also had two quality workouts on Monday and Friday. I was pleased with both workouts, but I was especially pleased with my ability to run those paces in the middle of back to back 150 mile weeks. I'm looking forward to seeing what I'll feel like with a few lighter days under my belt. After returning from Berlin, I will still have about 5 weeks of training leading up to New York, and that is still a lot of time when it comes to a marathon block.

The Monday workout was a 17 mile tempo. My legs felt tired and awkward going in the workout, but after shaking off the rust over the first few miles, I started hitting the 4:55 pace that I had originally set out for. I still have one more long tempo planned 3 weeks out from NYC, and that one will be slightly shorter, and hopefully slightly faster.

Friday consisted of tempo efforts of 4 miles, 3 miles, 2 miles, and 1 mile. I opted to do this workout on the track so I could really get rolling since the last month of training has been mostly on the hilly roads of Flagstaff. I have done this workout leading into most of my previous marathons, but this was by far the fastest. Again, coming off of Monday's effort and in the midst of so much volume, I was surprised that I could nail these times. With several weeks to go, we need to be careful not to get too far ahead of ourselves and put it on ice for a week or so.

Thanks again for reading. My training from last week is below, and follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 6 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Sunday 6 13
19





Monday 3 mile warmup, 17 mile tempo @ 4:58, 2.5 mile cooldown off
22.5





Tuesday 14.5 6 40 minutes 20.5





Wednesday 13 + 8 x 200 meters on the track @ 30-32 7
22





Thursday 15 7 40 minutes 22





Friday 4 mile, 3 mile, 2 mile, 1 mile tempo (18:51, 14:07, 9:24, 4:38). Rest = 4 min, 3 min, 2 min 6
23





Saturday 12 9
21





TOTAL


150

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Less than 7 weeks until the TCS New York City Marathon: Last week's training

The first bit of weekly news is not directly related to the New York City Marathon, but I have been asked by Jerry Schumacher and Shalane Flanagan to help pace her to the American Record (2:19:36) at the Berlin Marathon on September 28th. It means a great deal to me that they consider me trustworthy enough for such an important task, and it fits very well into my training plan. My schedule had a long hard run planned for the exact same day, and I am experienced with European travel. I am put at ease by the fact that I will be setting the pace with veteran marathoner Rob Watson. I would also like to run the Berlin Marathon in the future, so this is an excellent opportunity to preview the course and meet the race organizers. I'll be leaving on Wednesday, arriving to Berlin on Thursday, and returning to Portland in the early morning following the race.

If you look at the calendar below, you'll notice that I've shifted my week to start on Sunday. With the schedule we have laid out from now to New York, this will make it easier to hit my mileage goals. This means that the Sunday workout shown on the schedule is the same as was described in last week's blog. I took this week a little lighter due to the travel and readjusting the legs to sea-level. The Fartlek on Wednesday occurred before flying back to Portland. We decided to go with a Fartlek due to the intensity of the Sunday workout and the hope to leave Flagstaff on a positive note, even if I was a little tired. The transition back to sea-level has been a bit more challenging than I thought it would be. Aerobically I feel great, but the legs have felt a bit awkward adjusting to the pace change as I'm trying to run quite a bit faster even on easy days. I have a couple of big workouts this week that will put my legs to the test.

My blood results have come back since returning to sea-level, and not surprisingly, most relevant indicators have increased. My iron has dropped, but this is simply due to the altitude and high mileage I was putting my body through. It was good to go in with such a high base ferritin level.  Feel free to check out the stats below. The first number is my level followed by the normal range; my apologies for the scattered layout. It may seem a bit strange to publish these numbers publicly, but when I have been considering altitude in the past, it was extremely difficult to find specific data, especially from elite runners. Everyone has a very different response, so the numbers from one athlete are not nearly enough to draw conclusions, but it's the best I can do. The numbers themselves do not predict exactly how my training will be impacted, but the next month of training will be the test as to how much benefit I was able to gain out of the 4 weeks at 7,000 feet. A huge thanks to Dr. John Howell at Portland Integrated Health and Medicine for getting the tests done, helping me analyze the results, and help plan my future altitude endeavors.

Last week's training is also below the blood work. Thanks again for reading, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

BEFORE ALTITUDE (4 weeks in Flagstaff, AZ @ 7,000 feet)

CBC (INCLUDES DIFF/PLT)                                      RANGE
WHITE BLOOD CELL COUNT                  6.8          3.8-10.8 Thousand/uL
RED BLOOD CELL COUNT                       4.58        4.20-5.80 Million/uL
HEMOGLOBIN                                            15.0        13.2-17.1 g/dL
HEMATOCRIT                                            43.5         38.5-50.0 %
MCV                                                             95.1         80.0-100.0 fL
MCH                                                             32.7         27.0-33.0 pg
MCHC                                                          34.4         32.0-36.0 g/dL
RDW                                                            13.6          11.0-15.0 %
PLATELET COUNT                                   155           140-400 Thousand/uL
ABSOLUTE NEUTROPHILS                    5392         1500-7800 cells/uL
ABSOLUTE LYMPHOCYTES                 1020          850-3900 cells/uL
ABSOLUTE MONOCYTES                      231            200-950 cells/uL
ABSOLUTE EOSINOPHILS                     129            15-500 cells/uL
ABSOLUTE BASOPHILS                         27               0-200 cells/uL
NEUTROPHILS                                         79.3 %
LYMPHOCYTES                                       15.0 %
MONOCYTES                                            3.4 %
EOSINOPHILS                                           1.9 %
BASOPHILS                                               0.4 %
FERRITIN                                                  204             20-345 ng/mL

AFTER ALTITUDE (4 weeks in Flagstaff, AZ @ 7,000 feet):

CBC (INCLUDES DIFF/PLT) NW
WHITE BLOOD CELL COUNT      4.6              3.8-10.8 Thousand/uL
RED BLOOD CELL COUNT           4.72            4.20-5.80 Million/uL
HEMOGLOBIN                                15.6            13.2-17.1 g/dL
HEMATOCRIT                                45.7             38.5-50.0 %
MCV                                                 96.8             80.0-100.0 fL
MCH                                                 32.9             27.0-33.0 pg
MCHC                                              34.0             32.0-36.0 g/dL
RDW                                                 13.7            11.0-15.0 %
PLATELET COUNT                        172             140-400 Thousand/uL
ABSOLUTE NEUTROPHILS         2461           1500-7800 cells/uL
ABSOLUTE LYMPHOCYTES       1656           850-3900 cells/uL
ABSOLUTE MONOCYTES            202            200-950 cells/uL
ABSOLUTE EOSINOPHILS           258            15-500 cells/uL
ABSOLUTE BASOPHILS               23              0-200 cells/uL
NEUTROPHILS                               53.5 %
LYMPHOCYTES                             36.0 %
MONOCYTES                                 4.4 %
EOSINOPHILS                                5.6 %
BASOPHILS                                    0.5 %
FERRITIN                                       149             20-345 ng/mL NW

VITAMIN B12                                522             200-1100 pg/mL NW


Week 5 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Sunday 3 mi warmup, 4 mi tempo @ 5:06 pace, 10 mile run @ 6:15, 4 mi tempo @ 5:00, 3 mi cooldown – Lake Mary Rd. off
24





Monday 15 7 40 minutes 22





Tuesday 15 6.5 + drills and strides
22





Wednesday 10 x 5 minutes hard, 1 minute easy 5 easy – travel back to PDX
22





Thursday 14 6 40 minutes 20





Friday 14 3.5 + 10 x 200 meter hills
20





Saturday 14 6
20





TOTAL


150