Thursday, March 27, 2008

Goodbye winter

Is it really Spring?

Taking a few days off. See you next week.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Week of March 16-22

Sun: 12.5 miles total, with 11.5 at an marathon pace (7:18/mile) with SERC
Mon: 5 easy (8:32)
Tue: 9 easy (8:25); with 6x strides
Wed: off
Thur: 7 easy (8:04)
Fri: off
Sat: 13.5 easy (8:45)

Total: 47 miles on 5 runs

Another week in the books and once again the weather became the story. A Friday night clipper dropped more than six new inches of powder snow, limiting the planned Saturday 20 miler. With fours weeks to go to Boston, I'm starting to accept that I've haven't had the training season nor am I in shape as like last fall. It's time to lower expectations a little, but to continue training on and run the best Boston Marathon that I can. I'll maintain the goal of bettering my one and only Boston of 3:16.

Training-wise this upcoming week, I plan for a longer set of cruise intervals at T-pace (40 minutes worth) and a weekend long run at the ING Georgia Marathon. This second year marathon in Atlanta supposedly offers a hilly and challenging course, which is just what I need in preparation for Boston. I plan to have fun and run it like a long run. If I negative split or finish fast, I can live with that too.

The reason for the trip is to attend a coaching seminar hosted by the Road Runners Club of America. One of the instructors is an accomplished ultrarunner and coach. I anxiously look forward to learning more about this sport (running) that I've come to enjoy. I hope to take away lessons on how to better convey and inspire adult runners to achieve their goals.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

April Fools FA - information post

April Fools Fat Ass 25k and 50k

Join the Vertical Runner Sunday morning trail group for the 2nd Fools FA.

Who: Trail runners
What: April Fools Fat Ass fun run (25k and 50k)
When: Sunday, April 6. Meet 6:45a, Start 7:00a.
Where: Starts at the Happy Days parking lot in the CVNP.
Why: To run some of the best trails in the Cuyahoga Valley not named Buckeye Trail.

For those familiar with the area, the Fools FA course is the same as last year with two loops: a 12.5 mile long and a 3.25 short loop. Click here for link to map. Order of trails:

Long loop (12.5 miles)
Start Happy Days
Ledges trail (group photo at Overlook)
Pine Grove
Connect to Kendall Lake
Lake trail
Cross Country trail
Salt Run
Lake trail
Connector to Ledges trail
Ledges trail
Return to Happy Days

Short loop (3.25 miles)
Boston Run trail

History: Last year on April 1st, a few runners joined with the Vertical Runner Sunday morning trail group for a trail run. We called it the Fools FA. Sixteen runners started on a rainy morning. Most ran one circuit (25k) and three runners finished the entire 50k or more.

This year we plan to do it again. It's a trail FA run with no aid provided. Runners can easily use their vehicle for resupply.

All loops start and finish at the Happy Days parking lot. Bring your own fuel and drink. Mid-way through the long loop is the restroom/water point at Pine Hollow parking lot on Quick Rd. The course is FA friendly and most runners will be fine carrying one water bottle and a few calories. The long loop will take the faster runners around two hours to complete. Mid to back-of-pack runners closer to three hours.

This course is entirely on trails with a mix of rocks, dirt and mud likely. Between the Cross-Country and the Salt Run, the course spans the entire elevation change that the Cuyahoga has to offer. This course is also parts of miles 64-75 of the Burning River 100 mile race.

Everyone is welcome. A late start is possible at Pine Hollow, meeting the group at the 6.75 mile mark at 8:15-8:30a.

Though challenging, most runners could finish the Fools FA 50k in five to seven hours. There will be a clipboard to record your finish times. I imagine there'll be a post-run gathering at the Winking Lizard.

Click here for the link to the maps, or click the map below to download. The color coded map illustrates the route.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Week of March 9-15

What a difference a week makes. Better weather = better running.

Sun: 13 easy, post blizzard
Mon: 5 easy (8:34) Cooled down with 5x strides.
Tue: 10.5 total, with ~5.5 @ T-pace (7x 5 min cruise intervals; with 1 min recoveries) Pace 6:30-ish
Wed: 4 easy (10:08) Bonked! Walked for 10 minutes.
Thur: 8 easy (8:02)
Fri: 4 easy (8:32) 4x strides.
Sat: 10 miles, with 5k time trial (6:09 pace)

Total: 54 miles on 7 runs
5k splits: 6:04, 6:14, 6:14, 0:34 = 19:06

Bonus Sunday run this morning with SERC: 12.5 miles, with 11.5 at marathon pace (7:18). Crazy fast running club; at least two dozen runners finished ahead of me. I got to chat with both the men's and women's winners of the Burning River 100 mile, as well as long-running E-Speed.

I can't complain with the quality this week. Good 35 minute threshold pace set on Tuesday and the time trial on Saturday. Initially, my plan was to join the NEO Trail club for the Covered Bridge FA 50. The other natural choice for a race was Cleveland's biggest 5 mile race (St. Malichi) which took place at 9:30am, but last week's blizzard postponed a CPR re-certification class to this weekend. My Saturday was booked. I recruited two others to join me for a pre-dawn 5k time trial. Since the local track was not yet clear from snow, we opted for my local 1.5 mile road circuit. Well-lit and free of traffic, the stretch of Edgewater drive just east of Lakewood Park makes for a fine road racing course. Having run numerous tempo runs here made it feel like home turf. Marked quarter-miles gave the feel of a track run.

Essentially a solo trial (the others finished 20:35 and 24+) with no one to push/pull me along, I'm satisfied with result. I held a better finishing kick than at the Chili Bowl race four weeks ago, but the last 5 minutes felt hard. I'm not completely used to the strain of a 5k race. Like last season, I might race another 5k during the the weekend before the marathon. We'll see.

This week is a week off from the Tuesday quality. I hope for more decent weather with the goal of another 50+ mile week.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Time trialing

An informal poll for my running & training friends out there:

I missed a 15k tune-up race last weekend due the blizzard. I'm rearranging the plan this weekend to include a time trial.

My question is this: For those who've done time trials as a fitness test, what is your preferred surface and distance?

Surface: Track or road course
Distance: 5k, 4M, 5M, or 10k

I have one training partner recruited and possibly one other. It's going to be an early run on Saturday morning. The farthest I've raced on the track is 2M.

My first inclination is to run 5k or 4M on the track. Not sure I can handle longer. I have a good 1.5M road course, with the 400s marked, so that would be the option if run on roads.

The purpose of the trial is a fitness test to set the intensity levels for the next phase of training. What would you do?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Week of March 2-8

What a crummy week. Although I discovered that OR gaiters continue to rock, the recent weather royally sucked.

Last Tuesday's ice storm was followed by a weekend blizzard that left me cooped up for the better parts of the weekend. My YMCA closed on Friday night and did not open until Sunday resulting in two missed runs. The anticipated 15k race yesterday was not to be. Though I chose not to drive down south, I was amazed to learn that the footing was fine for the Shamrock 15k. A few of my friends did well and I can imagine where I would have placed. I'm disappointed that I missed it.

Sun: 5 miles easy (8:01)
Mon: 4.5 easy (7:54) Cooled down with 4x strides. Temperature 52F!
Tue: 10.5 total, with 5.75 @ T-pace (4x 10 min) Nasty out, TM run.
Wed: 4 easy (8:45)
Thur: 7.5 easy (8:24)
Fri: off
Sat: 1.5 miles in the insane blizzard. (Heck, I tried)

Total: 33 miles on 5.2 runs
Tempo interval pace (TM): 6:58/6:44/6:58/6:58

The thing about Tuesday's indoor quality workout was the heat. I am not climatized for heat. As this was only my second indoor run of the year, overheating negatively impacted my T-pace. This indoor run nearly equalled my treadmill PR of 11 miles. Considering that I was shut out of the Y on Friday and Saturday, I pledge not to speak poorly of the TM again. I needed that conveyer belt!

Now six weeks to Boston. Some things are out of my control, like the weather. Though I missed the tune-up race, there's still time to build fitness. I'm wishing for a quick thaw and return to faster outdoor running.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Blizzard weekend

It's a blizzard here. Sustained wind and snowfall since Friday morning. Local government offices closed early Friday afternoon. My YMCA closed too. It's still closed today and I'm searching for a place to run. I might have to brave the elements.

I've snapped a few photos from yesterday and this morning. With a forecast for more snowfall into tonight, tomorrow's 15k race ought to be interesting. Click here or the pictures below to view the weekend blizzard album. I'll add to the collection when the snowfall stops and the digging begins. I can use snowshoes.

This morning's view from my front door.

From the driveway.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Week of February 24 - March 1

Sun: 6 miles easy trails (10:37 pace)
Mon: 5 easy (8:17) Finished with 4x strides.
Tue: 6 easy (8:37) Cooled down with 5x strides.
Wed: 5 easy (8:31)
Thur: 10 total, with 4 @ T-pace (4x 1 mile cruise intervals; with 1 minute rests)
Fri: rest
Sat: 17 miles (8:34)

Total: 48 miles on 6 runs
Tempo mile splits: 7:04/6:22/6:19/6:17

Frigid temperatures and snowfall continue to dictate the training. Lately, 20F seems mild. Tuesday was to be a fourth, and final, week of Interval Pace workouts. The plan was a workout of 5x 1200m @ I-pace, but the all day snow did not provide a clear surface for a quality run. To fill the training void, a few others gathered with me for a Thursday night tempo run. The streets were clear enough for "cruise intervals" at threshold pace. I did not wear a heart rate monitor, nor did I feel like I was going too fast for T-pace, so I'm surprised at the pace. 6:20 was my T-pace in the peak of marathon season last fall. I am not in that kind of shape right now. Perhaps it was just the group; young Andy is running well and pulled me along.

Saturday was meant to be twenty miles, but a few new inches of powder snow changed that. Lots of slushy roads, packed snow, and even some ankle deep powder. Gaiters would have been nice. I brought the camera - see below.

For the month, 196 miles is the lowest February in several years. Although I ran 26 of 29 days, my weekday and Sunday runs have been shorter. Partly because of the weather, but also due to work. Since December, I've taken on some additional duties with my job. Five extra hours at work per week means less time running. I hope March brings less frigid weather and not as many hours spent on the job.

Now 7 weeks to go to Boston. Looking to the week ahead, next Sunday is the Shamrock 15k. The course has it all. A wicked fast descent into the Cuyahoga Valley NP, a flat stretch along the valley floor, a heart-stopping uphill, and a long 3 mile ascent before returning to the finish. I'm not sure how a performance on this course will rate on the VDOT chart or McMillian calculator, but I imagine I should better my previous 15k PR. My one and only 15k was this same race in 2004, where I ran 1:08. Considering last summer's 10 miler in under 64 minutes, I ought to set a new 15k mark. We'll see.

A few photos from the Saturday run, on a 25F and windy morning: