Monday, June 30, 2008

Treadmill Marathon World Record Attempt

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of watching Michael Wardian attempt to break the world record for the fastest marathon run on a treadmill.

The event was held at Pacers running store in Fairfax. My good friend Michael Hayden is friends with Wardian, and he flew into town just to support Wardian in his efforts! Michael Hadyen and I got a chance to hang out and catch up while watching Wardian's treadmill efforts. It was really amazing to watch. He needed a 2:21, which is a treadmill pace of between 11.3-11.4 MPH. I can't even get the treadmill up to 9.0 MPH when I do my speed intervals! Anyway, I took quite a few photos of Wardian, as well as some video footage. One of my hobbies is video editing, and here is what I came up with.

And a photo:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Shoe Acquisition Syndrome

I'm a shoe whore.

In my closet, I currently have:

4 pairs of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 6 (two brand new, one in-use, one "dead")
1 pair of Brooks Adrenaline Trail Shoes
1 pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 7 (gave me lateral knee pain, I don't wear them.)
1 pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 8 (these are okay, but the fit isn't quite right)

1 pair of Brooks Trance (thanks Mike Hayden)
1 pair of Brooks Axiom (for racing)
1 pair of Asics Gel Evolution (because my PT recommended them)

Most of these shoes are fairly new, with less than 50 miles on them. This is because I have been in search of the "perfect" shoe ever since my GTS 6 was discontinued, and it takes about 50 miles to determine if a shoe will work or not (once you decided you liked it enough in the store to buy it). I track shoe mileage in my training log, so I know exactly how much each has been used. The typical life of a shoe is 300-500 miles. But mine typically only get 250 before they lose their support.

Someone recommended that I try Nike shoes, because they run narrower than most. My problem with the new Adrenaline GTS 8 is that the fit is sloppy, particularly in the heel cup. Additionally, it has far too much cushion, like running on a mattress. I like the shoe enough that I am going to continue to wear it, it's just that it's not quite right.

I had no intention of buying new shoes anytime soon because I have plenty! But I passed by a running store yesterday and could not resist the urge to just try a pair of Nikes, or even another pair that the store recommended. The guy at the store pulled out a pair of Nike Air Zoom Structure Triax +11.

I put them on, and they fit like a glove! I ran up and down the block while the guy at the store watched. He said that I looked well supported in them. They felt amazing. The fit was perfect. The ride was smooth and responsive, with just the right amount of cushion. I had no pain in my feet or legs.  As it turns out, these shoes are 0.3 ounces lighter than the Brooks Adrenaline, and every little bit adds up over a long distance, such as 26.2 miles. In other words, these shoes have the potential to make me go a little bit faster.

This morning, I took them to the gym for a treadmill run. My plan was just to test them out and break them in for 2-3 miles, and then switch the the Brooks Adrenaline. Even with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 6, I have to do a few short runs to break them in and prevent blisters the first few times. Well, to my surprise, I just didn't want to take these babies off my feet. I loved how they felt. I ended up running 8 pain-free miles. No chafing, blisters, or anything. I can't even do that with my beloved GTS 6 on the first run! I even did some 100m strides (per my training program), accelerating to a 7:00 pace, and the shoes were very responsive and supportive.

I'm in love! When you run as many miles as I do, a good running shoe makes all the difference in the world. So, I would rather have a closet full of barely-used shoes than a bunch of injuries and/or uncomfortable runs. I do, however, plan on using all my Brooks Adrenalines, including the GTS 8. But as part of a rotation with my new Nikes.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Let's Just See What Happens" is NOT a goal!

Today I ran my 4th consecutive Lawyer's Have Heart 10K in Washington DC. I was in no shape to race a 10K this morning, but seeing as I have never missed a year of this race since I started racing, I figured I should still get out there.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up extremely fatigued with muscle aches. I had to cut my workout short, and I felt so tired that I didn't even go into work. The same thing on Thursday and Friday. It felt like I had the flu, or mono even, because I was so extremely lethargic and exhausted. Only there was no accompanying sore throat or congestion. I didn't work out Thursday or Friday, and I was fairly sure that the 10K race wouldn't be possible for me on Saturday. This was really de-moralizing because it was my first "official" week of marathon training with my knee recovered, and I spent it sleeping.

I woke up this morning thinking I would do the race. I didn't feel fatigued like I had the past few days. Then I checked the weather and learned that it was already in the mid 70's and humid. I decided that it would probably be best to just do a slow long run on the treadmill. But then I stepped outside and it didn't seem too horrendous, so I decided I should do it.

And then I told myself that no real good could come of the race. I knew I would get tired quickly in the heat and not even come close to a PR. So what would the point be? It was a disaster waiting to happen, that would only end in me feeling badly about my time. Well, this went back and forth at least 10 times until I finally decided that I wanted to go to the race. I would stop by the gym for a 1.5 treadmill warmup, and then do a 1.5 cooldown on it afterwards, so I could make up for some of the miles I missed earlier in the week.

I decided not to wear my iPod for this one. And I'm not sure why. I think that if I had it, it might have actually helped motivate me. A few weeks ago, I was thinking that my target goal would be a course PR: sub-50:59. Not a distance PR because I have been doing almost no speed work, thanks to my knee injury. But now with the mystery illness and the muggy heat, my plan was simply to use the race as a tempo workout. And my goal: "let's just see what happens."

"Let's-just-see-what-happens" really doesn't motivate you when times get tough in a race. I went out at a pace that I considered conservative (8:30) with plans to speed up later in the race. I clocked an 8:20 for the second mile, so I was on target for getting faster. But then the heat really started to get to me, my back began to ache (like it had been earlier in the week), so I slowed back down to an 8:30 for the third mile. I have to add here that I saw a woman running in velvet pants. Yes, navy blue velvet pants. My only thought was that she was using this race as some kind of hot weather conditioning.

After the third mile, I sort of decided that I was done with the race. I was really tired, I knew I wasn't going to get a course PR, and I didn't even have a goal other than "let's-just-see-what-happens." I clocked an 8:49 for the 4th mile, and told myself that I just had a nice 4-mile tempo run. (Actually, my "tempo" pace should be a lot faster, but given the heat, it was certainly tempo effort).

During the 5th mile, I walked through a water station, and just couldn't get going again. I didn't really want to. I couldn't believe I was walking during a 10K, but it felt so good to walk! After nearly a minute, I reminded myself that I was in a race. Oops. I began to run again, but at a very easy pace. I was so hot and tired that I just wanted to get to the finish line.

My last two miles were both at a 9:38 pace (including the walking). This doesn't really make sense to me because I walked during mile 5, but not mile 6, so the pace shouldn't be the same. But it was. I crossed the finish line in 55:25 for an average pace of 8:55. Yeah, I ran the Shamrock marathon at a faster pace. It was pretty upsetting to make the realization that I couldn't even run 6.2 miles at the same speed as I ran 26.2 in March.

I know that I lost two months of solid training because of injuries and am just now getting into it. And that I had been sick for most of the week, But still. This is the slowest I have ever ran this race, by over two minutes.

To regain some confidence I have registered for a 4-mile race next weekend. It's an evening race, and I typically don't have much energy at night, but I need to redeem myself! I'm not terribly disappointed because I did end up running a total of 9 miles today, 4 of which were at a tempo effort. Additionally, my knee was pain free! I used the taping technique that my physical therapist showed me, as well as the patella strap. I'm feeling pretty good now, so I hope to be on track with week two of marathon training.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Road to Boston Passes Through Hartford

Hartford, CT, that is. In order to run the prestigious Boston Marathon, I must first qualify, and I plan on doing that at the Hartford Marathon on Saturday, October 11, 2008. I need to run the race in 3:40:59 or faster.

Why do I think I can qualify?
This will be my 8th marathon, but my first attempt to qualify for Boston. I'll need to shave 11 minutes off of the time I ran last March-- the 3:51:49. Looking back on my training log leading up to this race, there was only six weeks of consistent training. I was injured for the second half of December and the first part of January. I only trained from late January to early March, and then I tapered. If I extend that out to an 18-week training program, I think I will see a faster result. Additionally, my weekly mileage (a large factor in marathon performance) was about 40-45 when training for Shamrock. The program I plan to undertake has me running an average of 45-55 miles per week.

Why Hartford of all places?
At first, I thought I would use the Steamtown marathon to qualify. It has a net decrease in elevation, and most of the race is downhill. But then I thought twice about that. I would have to do a lot of downhill training, and there isn't really proper terrain for that around here. Additionally, all of my marathons have been flat or slightly hilly. I know what I am getting into with a flat course, so I figured I should veer away from Steamtown and find something flat.

My next thought was going to Chicago. About as flat as they come! I earned myself a position in one of the faster starting corrals, so I wouldn't have to worry about weaving through people in the first few miles. Plus, I was supposed to run that last year but I ended up dropping out due to injury. But then I realized that Chicago would be somewhat of a "production" with the travel, getting to the start line, etc. And I wanted something a bit lower key.

So, I did my research and I discovered Hartford. It's a quick flight (which I assumed would be inexpensive, but it's not) and I was able to get a hotel right next to the start/finish area. It's a small enough for there not to be crowding on the course, but large enough to have crowd support (about 1500 runners). It's flat, and has a great reputation. I convinced my friend Jenna to run this one with me, and we are hoping that our friend Randi will join us as well. Also, the race is on a Saturday, which I prefer to a Sunday race. Hartford in October should be ideal race weather (upper 40's - lower 50's in the morning), but I guess you can never be sure!

What are the possible roadblocks?
Injury. My knee is about 99% recovered (I ran 8 pain-free miles yesterday). In order to stay injury free, I plan on monitoring my resting heart rate in the morning when I wake up. I will continue with my core strengthening routine, as well as lower-body strengthening. Most importantly, I will listen to my body for signals that I am doing too much. If I don't get injured, I am fairly confident I will qualify.

What about a training philosophy?
I'm approaching this marathon very differently from those in the past. In the past, I was very goal-focused, and now I plan to focus more heavily on the training, itself, as its own reward. I am only doing two races between now and the marathon (one of them is next weekend) so I won't have that kind of "high". Instead, I am highly enthusiastic about my training, acknowledging the benefits of training-- not just the "reward" of getting a good time. I'll probably blog more about my training than I have in the past-- simply because training will take the place of all the races I used to run. And I need support from you all! Anything can happen on race day, so if I focus all my energy on that particular day, I could be really let down (bad weather, illness, injury, etc.) So I need to stay focused on the benefits I am getting from simply training.

Track my Training!
If you go to the right hand colum on the page, there is a link to view my training log. You can click on that and get an up-to-date view of what I've been doing. Right now, all you will see is someone who's been gradually ramping up miles with short/easy runs, accompanied by a great deal of cross training. A month from now, this will be a bit more exciting!

The program starts tomorrow. I'm standing at the unofficial start line of my BQ journey. Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Come What May

May has been quite a unique month for me. There was no single big "event" but rather a lot of changes and adjustments.

Injury Recovery
Instead of my traditional "running" training, I have been training for overall fitness this month. My main focus has been injury recovery and prevention.
Injury recovery (from patellar tendonitis) has involved cutting way back on my mileage and slowing down the speed of my runs. Additionally, I have been icing my knee several times a day and going to physical therapy weekly. As for prevention, I have been stretching every day, and doing a lot of strengthening exercise. It's possible that weak quad muscles caused my injury, so I have been doing a lot of exercises for my quads.  My recovery is coming along well. I would say that my knee is about 90% healed, with some days being better than others.

Strength Training
To prevent other kinds of injuries, I have also been doing a lot of lower body strengthing, with a major focus on the abs, lower back, glutes, inner/outter thighs, calves, and hamstrings. After a month of hard work, I think I have established the strength needed to begin marathon training in June. My hope is that my strength training will also result in the ability to run faster. It will be a challenge to maintain this strength as a pack on the miles, mainly because I only have a limited number of hours in the day to dedicate towards working out-- but I need to make it a priority.

Cardio/Endurance Training
On top of all of this, I have been swimming and biking (stationery bike). Due to "plica" I discovered during last summer's bike ride in Italy, I know that my maximum bike ride is about 20 minutes. Otherwise, the inside of my knee hurts. I have mainly been using biking to warm up prior to my stretching and strengthening. The bulk of my cardio has come from swimming. It was amazing to see myself improve so quickly with the swimming! Back in April, I could only swim for about 15-20 minutes before I needed to stop and take a break. And now I can go for nearly 45 minutes non-stop. I've also increased swimming speed. My waterproof iPod case and headphones have really helped make swimming more enjoyable, as well. Here are the monthly totals:

Miles Swum: 14.7
Miles Biked: 33
Miles Run: 39.2
Strength training sessions: 17

It's been disheartening to watch my mileage go from 91 in March, down to 66 in April, and now 39 in May. My monthly totals for last year were all well above 100! (I typically average around 150).  Anyway, I do feel really good about what I have accomplished this month in terms of balancing my workouts. I really, really hope my knee is ready for the rigorous training program I have planned for it. I guess that all serious runners need some down time and these past three months have been mine. True-- I did run two marathons. But only one of them was at full effort, and my monthly mileage has been an all-time low. 

June, here I come!