Thursday, October 10, 2013


Now that I’ve had a few days to ponder my marathon, I’ve come up with a bunch of random thoughts.

Given that I ran fairly even splits and moved up nearly 200 places during the second half of the race, you’d think I’d be over-joyed. While I am pretty happy – especially given my last 2 year of running – I can’t help but think there’s more in the tank. If you think about it, I ran a half in June in 1:26:38. If you double that you get 2:53. For discussions sake I’ll say I ran 3:08 (my time without 2 pee stops). That means I needed 15 minutes – or more than 30 seconds per mile – to run the second half. That’s a lot.

The McMillan calculator says I should slow down 9 minutes, or finish in 3:02. Sure everyone is different, but I’ve never had a lot of speed and I tend to get better the longer the distance. Maybe my times actually behave as a bell shaped curve, where they’re below average at both ends of the spectrum – short races and long races – and above average in that 15K to 25K range. That just popped into my head, so I haven’t given it a lot of thought.

While I always try to run even splits, I wonder if it’d be worthwhile to go out harder and hang on. I mean when I look at other people’s splits, it seems like the majority of people are running the second half 5 minutes slower than the first half. Maybe if I went out in 1:31, I’d still come back in 1:36 and run 3:07. But honestly, that doesn’t sound appealing to me. I guess that’s why I try to be conservative during the first half.

I must say that my quads have never felt so good after a marathon. I have no idea if it’s due to the adidas boost that I was wearing or not. But maybe there’s something to their “energy-returning boost” midsole. In any case, I’m a believer right now. Even though my legs feel great, I still plan on taking at least a full week off from running. I think the recovery is the hardest part of a fall marathon. The weather is absolutely stunning and I’m forcing myself not to run.

While I still love everything about Grandma’s Marathon, I have to mention that TCM is pretty awesome in it’s our right. The course is terrific. I love starting down town, heading by the Walker then along the lakes, the parkway, and the river roads before hitting Summit and coming up on the Cathedral and the Capitol. And I had nearly forgotten how awesome the crowds are along the course – it’s all pretty hard to beat.

I’m sure I’ll have a lot more thoughts on this in the near future, but that’s it for now.

Monday, October 07, 2013


Looking back, here’s what I wrote the night before the marathon;

Tomorrow I'd like to go through the half between 1:33 - 1:34. That way if I'm feeling good I can negative split and run 3:05. If things are just okay, I can still hang on for a 3:10.

That’s basically what happened – I went through the half in 1:34:32 and after that, things were “just okay” and I hung on for a 3:09:38 finish. While the half as a little slower than I wanted, it’s because I had to stop to pee at mile 11 and that cost me 50 seconds. Without that stop, I’d have gone through the half in 1:33:42. So my pacing was exactly what I wanted – during the first half my fastest mile was 7:03 and my slowest was 7:15. Another stop to pee at mile 15 cost me 50 more seconds. Without those stops I’d have been just under 3:08. Unfortunately, the clock doesn’t stop when you pull off the course.
Looking back at what I wrote, I think it was a pipedream to think I could run 1:33 / 1:32 or 1:34 / 1:31. The second half of this course is a grid and in order to negative split, the first half would have to feel like a jog. While the first half did feel relatively easy, it wasn’t a jog. And, history has shown, increasing the effort on the second half usually still leads to a 1-minute positive split – at least for me. With that said, my fastest mile during the second half was 7-flat (twice) and my slowest was 7:26. My last 5 mile splits were 7:24, 7:26, 7:12, 7:18, 7:22. Although I slowed on the hills, I ended up moving from 603rd place at the half to 412th at the finish.

I also like to combine my splits into 2 or 3-mile buckets because it eliminates some of the terrain. Looking at 3-mile buckets, here are my splits (they don’t include my two 50-second pit stops);

21:20 – 3 miles
21:27 – 6 miles
21:32 – 9 miles
21:32 – 12 miles
21:17 - 15 miles
21:20 – 18 miles
21:19 – 21 miles
22:02 – 24 miles
14:40 – 26 miles

I kind of forgot about this, but my last 4 of my last 5 marathons have been very consistent;

3:09:43 – Grandma’s 2009
3:10:36 – Whistlestop 2009
3:09:42 – Grandma’s 2010
3:24:41 – Grandma’s 2011
3:09:38 – TCM 2013

I guess the good news is that even though that’s a 4 ½ year stretch, I’m still running just as fast. And now that I think about it, the last 4 have been as a Masters runner, so yesterday’s race is my Master’s PR.

I should mention the weather. It was 45 degrees at the start, the flags were hanging, and the sun was coming out. I don’t think we could’ve asked for better weather – at least for anyone that broke 3:15. After that it started to rain, but I timed it well.

One thing that stands out to me in this race was running with this guy I didn't know, from mile 15 all the way to the finish. We were constantly passing each other back and forth and we never said a word to one another. Heck, I didn’t even know if he knew I was keying off of him. Once we finished and were in the chute we started talking about how much we helped each other. It was really cool – one of those things you can’t plan - they just happen.

High-fives at mile 24.  Thanks to Terrance Lee for the photo.

I’ll end by saying that this whole training cycle has been a blast; changing my diet, shedding weight, mixing in cross training, cutting my mileage, feeling great for workouts, getting in some solid long runs, and just getting back on the marathon “horse” has been great. After the last 3 years of training, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run a decent marathon again. So, it’s nice to be back.

Saturday, October 05, 2013


Here I sit the night before the race. I don't have much to report from the taper. It's been pretty normal, meaning I felt great for about 2 week, but the last week I've only felt so-so. In my last post I wrote about a great run 2 weeks ago that include 2 x 3 miles at MP. Well last Wednesday I ran 7 miles, including 2 at MP. Those 2 at MP were at 7:13 pace, which is slower than two weeks ago - and they felt harder. So like I said, my taper has been normal.

The forecast looks pretty good; 45 degrees for the low, 56 for the high. The biggest concern all week has been the rain. After not having much rain for like 2 months, it's been raining off and on for 4 days straight. Right now they're saying "spotty showers possible". Another concern has been the wind. It seems like it's been really windy all week long, but now they're saying a 5 mpw N/NW wind.

Mainly I wanted to get a final post in before the race to mention my goals and race plan. Some people like to keep this stuff to themselves, but I don't mind sharing. Heck, it's as much for me if I ever want to come back and see what I was thinkng leading up to a certain race. Anyway, everytime I've been asked this week what I'm hoping to run I've said sub-3:10, but I think I have a shot at sub-3:05 on a good day. Right now my race plan is to go out around 7:10 pace, which equates to just under 3:08. If I'm a little slow, like 7:20s for the first 2-3 miles, that's okay. I'd rather be a little slow, than too fast - like I was at the COL 25K where I was trying to run MP and went through the first mile in 6:50. Tomorrow I'd like to go through the half between 1:33 - 1:34. That way if I'm feeling good I can negative split and run 3:05. If things are just okay, I can still hang on for a 3:10. Besides, I can't see a crash and burn if I run in that range for the first half. I'll have to look it up again, but I think anything faster than 3:05:41 and it'll be my fastest marathon in like 5 years.

Just over 12 hours till the start. GO TIME!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Two weeks till TCM and I'm just gonna say it; I feel great. It seems like it's been forever since I had a decent training cycle for a marathon. I've really enjoyed this training cycle and I'm liking how things are coming together down the stretch.

Thursday called for 4 x 1200m, but there's this prairie loop at Hyland that is probably between 900 and 1000 meters. It's a great place to get back to my cross country roots, get in a fun workout that includes hills and leg speed.

I decided to head back to the trails for my last 20 miler. After the run I posted on Facebook that I don't know how fast I am, but I sure feel strong - especially considering that this training cycle has included an 18 miler and two 20 milers on the hilly trails of Lebanon Hills, plus a 22 miler on the TCM course.

WEEK #14
Monday: Day Off
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 7 miles on the trails
Thursday: 10 miles with 5 x ~1K run on the Hyland trails
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: BIKED 12.5 miles
Sunday: 20 miles on Lebanon Hills trails

Total:47 miles plus 12.5 miles of biking

Nothing to fancy this last week. Wednesday I hit a dirt track at one of the local middle schools for some 600m repeats. I tried to focus on 5K race pace, rather than going all-out on every repeat. Then today's long run just called for 17 miles, but I added a little twist. During the run I stopped at a high school track and ran 2 x 3 miles at MP. The first set was at 7:15 pace and felt really comfortable. Then I dropped down to 7:01 pace for the last set. I could tell I was working harder than the first set, but it still felt comfortable. So now I'm pretty confident with my plan of going out in the 7:10 - 7:15 range.

WEEK #15
Monday: Day Off
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles with 6 x 600m on track
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Day Off
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 17 miles with 2 x 3 miles at MP on track

Total: 40 miles

Sunday, September 08, 2013


Would it be a marathon training cycle if some doubt didn’t creep in? Things have been sailing along pretty well for 3 month, but then I got a cold and scaled back my training for a couple of week. On Labor Day I ran a 10K that was so-so. While I felt fine, I just couldn’t go any faster. At mile 5, I seriously thought I wasn’t going to break 40 minutes. I figured I had to be at 32-flat at 5 miles and when I saw 32:15 instead, I thought it was over. I was able to pick it up and run my fastest mile of the day to finish in 39:50.

This morning I ran the Jeff Winter City of Lakes 25K. My plan was to treat this like marathon race day and go out at the exact pace I want for TCM, which is in the 7:10 range. I thought I was holding things back, but I still passed 1 mile in 6:54. I settled down a little after that and ran everything between 6:58 and 7:11. If you look at my 3 miles splits, they’re 21:01, 21:19, 21:12, 21:08, 21:07. Overall, my pace was 7:03. What’s the problem, you ask. Well, it didn’t feel like marathon pace. I don’t think I could run another 10.7 miles at that pace.

Of course, there are some factors (read excuses) to keep in mind; I ran 10 miles yesterday, this race came at the end of my biggest week yet, conditions weren’t awful, but not ideal either, blah, blah, blah.

Maybe backing off to 7:10 pace, carbo loading and tapering will be enough come October 6th.

Given that TCM is on a Sunday, and so was today’s race, I’m transitioning from Sun – Sat weeks to Mon – Sun weeks. Not a big deal, but it means I’ll run my last few long runs on Sundays, instead of Saturdays.

WEEK #13
Monday: 10K race, 39:50, 10 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 11 miles with Scott and Lance
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Day Off
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: 25K race, 1:49:30, 18 miles

Total 58 miles

A couple of weird things. How can I love half marathons, but hate 25Ks? And how can a couple of guys that I beat by minutes in the 15K, beat me by over a minute in 10K. I don’t get it.

Sunday, September 01, 2013


I’m happy to report that I’m over my cold – and that I survived last week’s heat wave where the heat index was over around 105 degrees a couple of days. Given my cold and the weather I decided to keep things easy this week, then I can make a push for 2 more weeks before tapering.

WEEK #12
Sunday: Day off
Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: 5miles
Wednesday: 8 miles with Scott at Hyland
Thursday: Day off
Friday: 7 miles at Lebanon Hills
Saturday: 13 miles

Total 38 miles

Finished August with 171 miles, plus 88 on the bike.

It’s been a while since I mentioned anything about my diet. I still haven’t eaten meat since April. I join a CSA (community supported agriculture) and I get a bunch of fresh veggies every Tuesday night. Each week I feel overwhelmed by the amount of veggies I get, but somehow I’ve seemed to get through most of it. The biggest challenge is figuring out how to use veggies I’ve never eaten before, like fennel and eggplant, as well as how to get through a head of cabbage 3 weeks in a row.

When it comes to my weight, I always try to weigh myself every Saturday morning after my long run. Typically, I’ve been in the 145-150 pound range. Then, from Halloween till New Year’s I probably gain 10 pounds. At the time I switched my diet I weighed 148 pounds. Within a month I was below 140 pounds and I haven’t seen 140 all summer. After yesterday’s run I weighed in at 135 pounds, which is the lowest I’ve been since high school.

Given my new diet – and the fact that I haven’t had a physical exam in 6 years – I thought it’d be a good idea to go see my doctor. I met with him last Friday and here are my vital signs.

August 2013

Total Cholesterol 123
Triglycerides 80
HDL 41
Chol/HDL Ratio 3.0
Non-HDL Chol 82
LDL 66
Blood Pressure 100 over 70
Height 5’ 9.5”
Weight 139 lbs 6 oz
BMI 20.3
Pulse 56
Glucose 96

September 2007

Total Cholesterol 132
Triglycerides 85
Chol/HDL Ratio 3.4
LDL 76
Blood Pressure 90 over 60
Height 5’ 10”
Weight 146 lbs 10 oz
BMI 21.0
Pulse 68

A few things that stand out to me;

Six years ago my HDL (good cholesterol) levels were low, but so my total cholesterol, so my ratio between the two was okay. Now my HDL levels are up and my total cholesterol is down, so my ratio is even better.

I’m six years older by 7 pounds lighter and my Body Mass Index is down a point.

My pulse dropped from 68 to 56.

Oh, it just occurred to me, the spring of 2007 was when I set all my post-college PRs, so this is only 4 months after I was super-fit.

My doctors one suggestion is to take a B12 supplement due to my vegetarian diet. If nothing else, things aren’t getting any worse, so I guess I continue down this road.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

WEEKS 10 & 11

As TCM draws closer, I’ve been trying to come up with a goal time. I’ve been thinking somewhere in the 3:06 – 3:10 range would be nice. That got me thinking about the last few marathons I’ve done. I looked back at my results and found that my best time since 2008 is 3:05:41. It sure would be nice to run my best time in 5 years.

Week 10 of this training cycle had me feeling confident about reaching that goal. After my solid 15K on Sunday I used a 7-mile trail race as a tempo workout. Then I closed out the week with a 22 mile run along the TCM course. Every time I run TCM I try to do this long run where I start at the St. Paul Cathedral and run the course in reverse to Minnehaha Falls and then turn around and come back. This allows me to run miles 15 to 26 of the course, including the hills, when I’m tried. This run went great. I ran the first half just a hair under 8-minute pace, before dropping to 7:40s until I got to the hills, where I dropped down to 7:30s.

WEEK #10
Sunday: 15K race – 1:01:31 (6:36 pace), 12 miles total
Monday: Day Off
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 7 mile trail race at tempo effort (7:09 pace), 10.5 miles total
Thursday: 5.5 miles
Friday: 37 miles of bike commuting.
Saturday: 22 miles

Total: 55 miles, plus 37 miles on the bike

As I looked at the last 2 weeks of training or so, I knew I was cranking things up and that I needed to be careful. I still haven’t been running a ton of miles, but the intensity has kicked up a notch; 4 x 1K on the 7th, 15K race on the 11th, tempo run on the 14th and 22 miler on the 17th. In addition, after that 22 miler I ended up volunteering to help set up a local triathlon from 1-5, so I was on my feet for 4 more hours. And I was up the next morning at 4 AM in order to help with parking and a water stop.

It turns out, all that combined to be too much. By Tuesday afternoon I had caught a cold. Normally, when I get a cold, I feel the best when I can get out for a run. However, this week I was just exhausted. So I took a bunch of days off and didn’t worry about my mileage.

WEEK #11
Sunday: Day Off
Monday: 14 miles of biking at lunch, plus 2 miles with x-c kids
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: Day Off - COLD
Thursday: Day Off - COLD
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: 11 miles

Total: 25 miles, plus 14 miles on the bike

The good news is I’m feeling a lot better. The bad news is that is supposed to be brutally hot and humid this week. I’ll get some runs in, but I don’t see anything being fast or long.

6 weeks from today!