Wednesday, May 25, 2011


This is my post-marathon recovery week. I have been scheming like a mad scientist, planning out what and where my next adventure will be. However it all pans out, it will be challenging, but fun! That doesn't necessarily mean that it will be just some leisurely through a field of daisies either.

In the mean time...I love to share pictures of my running routes. I haven't found anyone to run with around here and the scenery is too cool to keep to myself. Here is a little video that I whipped up from pictures during today's run.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Aftermath

Marathon # 4 is officially in the books, there were no unicorns or glitter in this thing, only sweat and pain. Ok, maybe that's a little dramatic but it was pretty damn tough. The Coach and several others asked what I thought went wrong. Great question.
I worked my ass off training for this thing and had at least a couple of training runs where I managed to run 24 miles in 3:15 running in zone 2 heart rate or less (that means I was running at an easy pace). Maybe it was partially mental, maybe it just wasn't my day. I don't recall doing anything different or out of the ordinary that would have caused the meltdown.

Quick Race Summary.
Felt great at the start, it wasn't raining as had been forecast. Temperature was in the mid to high 50's and felt good. I never once felt like I was overheated or dehydrated, in fact I was trucking right along but when I checked my heart rate at the 10K split it was a little higher than I thought it should have been. I didn't panic but I was a little concerned because we still had 20 miles to go. I focused on being relaxed, face, shoulders, arms, breathing....nice and easy. This worked for a little while but it still continued to creep up and by the time I hit mile 12 I was into zone 4 and I knew I couldn't maintain the pace for another 14 miles. I kept it going until mile 15 and then it was all down hill from there, mentally and physically. My back and my feet started hurting (this is not typical at all for me), and then after 20 I was pretty much done. My calves and feet were cramping and it was a miserable slog to the end.

I was pretty mad about the whole thing for awhile during and after the race but I am over it now. I know I did the work, I ran a fair race, and I do see another marathon or more in my future.

For now...I am going to focus on recovery and getting back to the basics...enjoying running. I feel my strength is in the half marathon or less, I want to get better, stronger, and smarter at the marathon plus.

I know this still doesn't answer the question....what went wrong? Here are possibly a few reasons, no excuses, it's all water under the bridge now but these are some things that I will change.

  • Sleep number bed at the Radisson - I didn't like it the night before my half mary in Springfield and had it again in Fargo. That's the only thing I can think of that caused my back pain. Sleep number beds are out of the race plan.
  • Mental - this whole BQ thing seems a little heavy. I like to set and reach goals, but I am not sure that this one is for me. I don't mean to sound like a whiny giver-upper because I am not. But I am not going to hang my entire reason for running on a BQ, it's not worth it. I run for me.
  • Tactical - Next marathon will be on my time at my pace. No pacers, no pressure, just a nice relaxed pace with the goal of finishing with a negative split and not wanting to die afterwards.

If you would like to know more about the Fargo Marathon, Jim Weatherly gives a pretty spot on review on his blog 50 after 40.

Here's the rest of the story.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mental Preparations

This is my visualization....thanks to Photoshop!

The Fargo Marathon is now just a few days away. The marathon is not a task to be taken lightly. Not only is running 26.2 miles a challenge within itself, but now I will be trying to do it in less than 3 hours and 20 minutes. There will not be anything easy about it. It's interesting how distorted the perception of time can be. Spending 3 hours relaxing with loved ones can go by in a flash while the same 3 hours while running a moderate pace can seem like an eternity. The physical work is done, it's mostly mental now.

You always reap what you sow.
I have put in well over 700 miles of training so far this year. I have worked hard to get to my current level of fitness. I am stronger than I have ever been as a runner.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not and act, but a habit. - Aristotle
Long runs, intervals, hard tempo runs, speed work. Sometimes it sucks but the fact is, you have to run faster to get faster....and that's not easy.

Happiness - the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.
As one of my Dailymile friends once said "Training isn't all unicorns and glitter". It's easy as hell to find excuses not to get in a run, but it feels ten times better afterwards when you do it anyway.

You can do anything you want to do, if only you believe with sufficient conviction and act in accordance with your faith; for whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.
7:30 - 7:38 average pace - 26.2 miles - I am ready, it will happen.

Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can.
I know I can.

You have to believe in yourself when no one else does, that's what makes you a winner.
I believe.

A huge thank you to Coaches Jeff and Diane at PRSFit for kicking my butt into shape, and all of my Dailymile friends for the daily confidence and support throughout. It just wouldn't be the same without you.
My post race visualization. Ahhhhhh!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Countdown to Fargo

The taper is on! There are now 17 days until the Fargo Marathon and there has been a lot of hard work and sweat created along the way. I am feeling good mentally and physically. There have been many ups and downs while training for this marathon and it's been a long tough winter / spring of training. I am ready to roll!

So, what have I done to train for my fourth marathon and what have I learned?

My training officially began on January 3rd. Coach had me on a plan of three build weeks followed by a week of recovery. My three build weeks consisted of hard tempo runs, hill repeats, and a long run to finish of the week, not to mention two days of strength training that includes lots of ab and core work. The recovery weeks are not necessarily easy, but they are not quite as intense as the build weeks and he encourages a race at the end of the week.
My first race of the year (which was not on a recovery week) was a trail run that I could not resist. Run Toto Run is a 10 mile, 20 mile, 50K race through Wyandotte Park in the Kansas City area. I ran the 10 mile race, it was very difficult but it was amazing! Snow, mud, hills, creeks, hills! It was all a pretty awesome experience and seemed to go by quickly. More trail running is definitely in my future!

Living in rural Missouri and having a job that requires a lot of hours does not make it easy to find "local" races. So my next race didn't happen until March 26 where I ran the Frisco High Line Trail run in Springfield, MO.  Springfield is a 4 hour drive, so I made a quick trip up the night before, raced hard, and drove home. The High Line Trail is a former railway bed that has been paved. It is flat and fast! I smoked my half marathon PR finishing in 1:33:45 and ended up placing tenth overall!

There were many times throughout my training that I became frustrated about the difficult runs and trying to juggle my training and my work schedule. I have missed some runs and workouts throughout this period but with a lot of careful and creative planning I was able to get most of them done. There were a lot of days when I seriously asked myself why I was doing this. People think we are crazy for what we do let along getting up at 4am some days just to get in a planned run.

So, with all of this hard work and the mental and physical struggles that I have put myself through, I have to stop and ask myself why. Why do we run and train and suffer like this? Is it some form of addiction or insanity?

Yeah, it's probably a little of both. But I can tell you that the sense of accomplishment after completing a tough workout or obtaining a PR in a race is fantastic.

I am pressed for time, as usual, as I am writing this and I realize that I didn't really give any great tips or advice on how to train for a marathon. It doesn't take any more than the usual things that anything worth doing takes. It's about commitment, dedication, hard work, sweat, and being humble but confident in your ability for growth.

With this being said, Fargo will be my fourth marathon.

My goal is to qualify to run the Boston Marathon next spring.

My goal time to finish in Fargo is 3 hours and 15 minutes.

This is a little better than 7:30 / mile pace. It may be a little aggressive, but I do think that it is possible to finish in 3:15 or very close to it. My Boston qualifying time is 3:20 so I have to give myself a little cushion. You never know what will happen over the course of 26.2 miles.