Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Before my marathon predicting gets too out of control here, I need to take a step back and calm myself down. At the end of my last post I mentioned that my goal marathon pace is creeping closer and closer to 3 hours. Well, that statement got me thinking about my past marathons, the races leading up to them and how well the McMillan calculator did of predicting.

If, for example, I run a 1:26:38 half marathon and McMillan predicts that I’ll run a 3:02 marathon, AND I actually go out and run a 3:02 marathon, that’s awesome! However, what does history tell me?

Looking at my last 6 marathons or so, every single one of them was 5-7 minutes slower than what the calculator predicted. As an example, one year I ran a 15K in August that predicted a 3:01, but in October I ran 3:06. So, if my latest half marathon currently predicts a 3:02, based on history it really means I’m in 3:08 shape.

Now I’m wondering if there’s something missing from the Pfitz plan that I typically follow. Is there something I could add into my routine that will get me more in-line with the McMillan calculator? Or is this just normal for some runners? Anyone else out there experience similar results?

Long-time readers may know I’ve run a lot faster than I did on Saturday, so maybe you’re wondering why I’m perhaps overly excited. I mentioned that this is my fastest half in three years. But what really stands out is comparing my MPW between now and then. Here’s my weekly mileage for the 6 weeks leading up to my 1:26:08 in 2010; 64, 72, 77, 51, 80, 80. The 6 weeks before this year’s 1:26:38 were; 42, 40, 44, 35, 41, 35.

I know there’s more to training than just a comparison of weekly mileage, but frankly I was shocked to see the differences; three years older, 44% less miles and only 30 seconds slower. I think where this could really payoff is in the middle of August when I usually start getting the running blahs. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Man, where to start with this race report? I guess I’ll start with my goal. The only thing I really had to go off of was my recent 19:14 5K. According to McMillan’s calculator, that projects to a 1:29-flat half or 6:48 pace, so I wanted to at least run sub-1:29.

I love the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, but since it’s held in conjunction with Grandma’s Marathon, I’ve only run the half three times; 1996, 2002 and 2013. Given that it’s been 11 years since the last time I ran this race, I had forgotten how much different it is than most half marathons that I run. With an expo, pre-race pasta dinner, bus ride to the start, drop bags, long lines to the biff and not much opportunity to warm up, it felt more like a marathon than a half. I had to keep reminding myself that I was only running 13.1 miles.

Before I jump into the race itself, I should mention that conditions were perfect. The temp was 50 degrees and foggy with a slight tailwind. For those that don’t know this course, it’s basically a straight line for 12 miles and then the last mile has a bunch of turns. So a tailwind at the start means a tailwind for the majority of the race.

Because my goal pace was 6:48s, I wanted to my first mile to be closer to 6:50 than 6:30. After the gun, I thought I settled in pretty quickly and was running very comfortably. The first mile passed in 6:40 and I settled in with Kim, one of my Saturday morning training partners. We stuck together for two more miles and I felt really comfortable. I remember another training partner, Scott, running a 1:28 half marathon last month and mentioning that at mile 3 he wasn’t sure he could hold his pace. He did hold it, but his thoughts on his perceived effort stuck with me. My race effort wasn’t feeling like that at all, so I was really pleased because I was still running low 6:40s.

Unfortunately, the memory on my watch is full, so it didn’t store my splits, so I’ll have to post based on memory and the results website. After my first mile, I didn’t look at my watch until mile 5. Leading up to that split, I told myself I wanted to see anything from 33:20 – 34:00 on my watch because that’s between 6:40 (my first mile) and 6:48 (my goal) pace. When I saw 33:28 I was really please. I was at the lower end of the range and I was feeling really good. Post-race results show that I ran the first 5K and second 5K BOTH in 20:46.

This was turning into one of those races where each mile marker seems to pass very quickly - and where no matter how much you pick up the pace, you never seem to get tired.

The only thing I remember during the third 5K is really trying to take advantage of the down hills on the course. That, and I started to focus on catching people.

Lemon Drop Hill is right around the 9-mile mark and that came and went quickly. As I approached mile 10, I tried to predict the time I wanted to see based on doubling my 5-mile split. Again, I had been hit my lap split at every mile, but not looking at my splits. Based on my 5-mile split of 33:28, I wanted to at least be at mile 10 in 1:07. I was pretty confident that I picked up the pace and was eager to see how much under that time I’d be. I ended up crossing that mile marker in 1:06:27, meaning I ran than 5-mile stretch in about 33-flat or 6:36 pace.

I also happened to glance at my mile split and saw that I ran up Lemon Drop (and down the other side) in 6:30. By now I’m doing some quick math in my head and I figured if I can run three 6:40s I’d be right around 1:27.

Miles 11 and 12 are both sub-6:30 by a second or two and now I know I’ll run sub-1:27. Not sure if that caused me to let up a little bit or if turning into the wind slowed me down, but my last mile was back around 6:40 pace. I ended up crossing the line in 1:26:38. That was good enough for 130th place out of 6,626 runners and 11th out of 323 in the 40-44 age-group.

Afterwards someone asked me if this was a PR. I said it wasn’t, but it was probably my fastest time in like 5 years. Of course, that got me thinking about my recent half marathon performances and how this ranks. It actually turned out to be my fast half in 3 years. Back in 2010 I ran 30 seconds faster than this race. Prior to that, in 2007, when I was racing really well leading up to my marathon PR, I ran 1:21:49. I also ran a 1:20, right after college, and a bunch of 1:23-1:25’s prior to turning 40. So this isn’t my best time ever, but based on age-grading it ranks up near the top.

It also means that my goal pace for TCM is creeping closer and closer to 3 hours.

WEEKS 2 & 3

Here’s a quick recap of Weeks #2 and #3:

June 9th – 15th

Sunday: Day Off
Monday: 8 miles on Hyland trails
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 10 miles on Hyland trails with Scott
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: 2 x 20 miles of bike commuting
Saturday: 13 miles with 8 @ MP – averaged 7:15 pace

Saturday’s workout is the only one worth mentioning. I wanted to hold 7:10 pace. Typically, I find these workouts difficult, especially if I’m running solo. During the warmup I was telling myself that it’d be okay to start a slow as 7:30 pace and then work into a faster pace throughout the workout. However, my first mile ended up being 7:02 and then I backed off to 7:08s. I went through the first 5 miles at 7:07 pace – then the big hills hit and my last 3 miles slowed, including a 7:45 up the biggest hill. Overall, I was really pleased with how my first MP workout went.

June 16th – 22nd

Sunday: Day Off
Monday: Day Off – drove 4 hours to see my parents
Tuesday: 10 miles on Whistlestop Marathon course
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Day Off
Saturday: 14 miles, including half marathon in 1:26:38 (race report to follow).

I felt a little guilty taking Monday off, but with a half marathon on Saturday, I wanted to make sure I was rested – especially after my MP workout.

Sunday, June 09, 2013


As a marketer, we constantly talk about testing 1 variable at a time in order to figure out that variable's impact on the results.  Anything more than that and it's hard to tell what change led to the results you're seeing. The same thing goes for running.  What if you increase your mileage and add speedwork at the same time?  Then it's hard to know why you're running so great (or why your injured).

That's kind of the boat I'm in with my dietary changes.  I pretty much cut meat and reduced processed foods at the same time.  So I'm wondering which is more important.  I think I was originally leaning towards cutting meat, but, then again, I didn't eat a lot of meat to begin with - especially red meat.  Now I'm definitely thinking that cutting processed foods is much more important. 

I'm by no means, perfect.  I still find myself grabbing a handful of potato chips, throwing pretzels in my lunch, and grabbing a granola bar in a pinch.  But I've definitely reduced the amount of processed foods I'm consuming.  When you reduce those high caloric, nutritionally poor foods with low caloric, nutritionally rich substitues you are going to see, and feel, a big change.

The more I learn about this stuff, the more scared I get.  Did you know that kids born after 2000 are the first generation ever - EVER - predicted to have a life expectancy LESS than their parents?  That's my kids' generation.  I wish I could say I disagree, but then I look at what they are eating.  My youngest daughter is the worst.  If it weren't for apples, I swear she wouldn't have anything nutrional in her diet.  She lives on chicken nuggets, frozen waffles, cinnamon rolls, potato chips, string cheese and yogurt.  Of course, her yogurt has to be the kind with M&Ms or Oreos on the top.   

The other day I happened to look at the "individual" sized ice cream snacks in our freezer.  They're only 10 ounces - that's indivdual, right?  WRONG!!!  According to the nutritional label, that's 2.5 servings - at 150 calories per serving.  So my kids get home from school and immediately grab nearly 400 empty calories.  Maybe worst of all, my wife had no idea.  No, worst of all is that we're no different than the majority of parents.  We gravitate to what's quick, easy, cheap, and taste good.  Unfortunately, that's processed foods put out by major food manufacturers.

I can't say that this blog will get anyone to change their diet, but hopefully it'll get people thinking, talking, reading nutritional labels, etc.

If you're interested, here's one of the first videos I came across on this topic.  It's chef Jamie Oliver's TED talk.  If you subscribe to Netflix you can also watch it there, plus there are 13 other episode of their "Chew on This" series.

Saturday, June 08, 2013


Week #1 is in the books:

Sunday: 8K of roller skiing
Monday: 8 miles w/ 4 @ LT on Hyland trails + 12 mile bike ride
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 10 miles on Hyland trails with Scott
Thursday: Day Off
Friday: 2 x 21 miles of bike commuting
Saturday: 12 miles on Lebanon Hills trails

For Monday’s lactate threshold workout I thought about running on the treadmill in order to maintain a steady pace. However, it was so nice outside that I decided to run Hyland instead. I ran hard for 27 minutes in the middle of the run and called it LT.  At lunch it was so nice out that I went for a 12 mile ride.

Wednesday’s run with Scott was comfortably hard. I ran this loop solo the previous week in 82 minutes. With Scott it took 77 minutes, so 30 seconds faster per mile.

Thursday called for an easy 5 miles, but I woke up and felt like drinking coffee and planning some projects I need to get done. So I did.

The past 2 Fridays I’ve been commuting to work by bike. Typically, I drive to Lake Nokomis or Fort Snelling and then ride the Parkway to the lakes and then hop on the Greenway to get to Eden Prairie.

Here's my new road bike I bought last fall.  Love it! (Sorry for the crappy picture.)
Saturday was a great solo trail run on the hiking trails near the Lebanon Hills mountain bike trails. This is one of my favorite trails runs as it’s not nearly as busy as the main trails at Leb. Plus, it has some great hills!

There you have it, only 35 miles of running, but if you add up the skiing and biking, that’s nearly 9 hours of cardio for the week.

Sunday, June 02, 2013


I think the older we get, the faster we used to be. I’m not talking about PRs. Like most runners, I know all my PRs by heart. I’m talking about all those other races throughout the season, and career, that aren’t run when you’re super fit.

I have all my race history written down somewhere. The problem is that it’s not in one convenient place. Anyway, after my recent 5K I started to wonder how that time compared to others I’ve run over the years. I remember one summer when I was racing a lot and I ran 17:40 and 18:15 within a couple of weeks of one another. However, I don’t think those courses were certified. After doing a little digging, I found out that that was way back in 2004. And in 2007 I remember running 17:52 at the Brian Kraft 5K. I was really fit the first 6 month of that year, leading up to my marathon PR. I ran a 37:47 10K and a 1:21:49 half before running 2:57:29 at Grandma’s.

So those are the outliers. What about all the other years? I know I didn’t run sub-18 any other years, but I must have been low-18s, right? Wrong! Just looking at times from the same race here’s what I found;

2002 – age 32 – 18:44
2004 – age 34 – 18:39
2007 – age 37 – 17:52
2008 – age 38 – 18:44
2009 – age 39 – 18:58
2013 – age 43 – 19:14

None of my other races were sub-18:30 - I was a little surprised by that. Of course, my 19:14 isn’t sub-18:30 either, but what if we look at my age-graded percentages over the years? It turns out that my recent race was my second best – only behind that great year I had in 2007.

2002 – age 32 – 69.25%
2004 – age 34 – 69.56%
2007 – age 37 – 73.89%
2008 – age 38 – 70.96%
2009 – age 39 – 70.57%
2013 – age 43 – 71.62%

I keep harping on it, but what I find most amazing is that I’m not running a lot of miles. I only had 151 miles in May, along with 25K of roller skiing and 125 miles of biking. Maybe placing more emphasis on cross-training is leaving me fresher, but I think my new diet has even more to do with it. I mean, when you’re lighter than you’ve been in 25 years, it’s going to have an affect on your race times.

As you can imagine, all of this has combined to fire me up. So I said what the hell and signed up for TCM. That happens to be 18 weeks from today. Long-time readers know I like Pfitz’s marathon training plans, one of which happens to be 18 weeks long. Normally, I’d shoot for the 70 MPW plan, but this time around I’m going with the 55 MPW plan because it includes 1-2 cross-training days per week, so I’ll be able to get on my bike or roller ski. Hopefully, that’ll help keep me fresh and motivated throughout the entire summer.

I don’t have a goal yet, but if you believe all the calculators out there, 3:05-3:10 appears to be the range I’m in right now. One of the downsides of WAVA is that you start to play with it and see what the possibilities are – or aren’t. For example, a sub-3 marathon for a 44-year old man equates to 73.45%. That’s means I have to get back into the shape I was in 2007 to even have a shot at that kind of time. Of course, that reminds me of the scene from Dumb and Dumber.

Lloyd: What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me... ending up together?

Mary: Well, Lloyd, that's difficult to say. I mean, we don't really...

Lloyd: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?

Mary: Not good.

Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?

Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million.


Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance... *YEAH!*