Marathon of a training week

When I posted my previous update last Sunday evening, I was somewhere above Colorado en route from Falmouth back to Eugene.  I wrote about how much I was looking forward to finally sleeping in my own bed and getting back to a regular routine.  Well, United Airlines had other plans for me.  Rather than arriving in Eugene late Sunday night, I didn’t make it back until Monday afternoon around 3:30pm thanks to 2 cancelled flights and a lengthy delay on flight #3.

Certainly not the most ideal way to kick-off the biggest training week of my marathon block, but some things are out of your control.  Running 150 miles in a week is hard enough, so I wasn’t thrilled about beginning the week unnecessarily behind schedule.  I readjusted my goals for the week and chose to turn my focus to my two main workouts and if I ended up reaching my mileage goals, then great.

What followed this week, surprised even me.  I went to do my hill circuit in Hendrick’s Park on Wednesday and ended up doing the most repeats I’ve ever done before (13 loops) then yesterday’s 30-mile long run / workout ended up being probably the best workout of my life.  The plan was to try and run 30 miles as follows: miles 1-5: easy, relaxed; miles 6-16: @ 6:00 pace; miles 17-18, relaxed; miles 19-24, alternating 5:00 / 6:00; miles 25-28, @ 5:10 average; 29-30, easy.  As you can see below, it went pretty much as scripted…maybe even better than planned.  30 miles @ 5:53 pace, with the last 12 averaging ~5:30 — now that’s a marathon workout!  Being able to nail a workout like this gives me a lot of confidence as the Chicago Marathon draws nearer.  Most importantly though, I woke up this morning feeling fine and the legs were good for an easy 14 miles.

And despite the rough start to my week, I ended up reaching my goal of running 150 miles (*as long as I make it out the door for my afternoon run).  A lesson in life: you can either complain about the cards your dealt or you can work your ass off to change the narrative of the story that’s being written.  You get to control your attitude and outlook; make them performance enhancers, not inhibitors.

I became tougher this week.  And a better runner.  One step closer to a breakthrough in Chicago.

Distance Split Time Elevation Gain Elevation Loss
1 mile 1 06:51.1 24
1 mile 2 06:40.1
1 mile 3 06:41.5 10
1 mile 4 06:30.0 7
1 mile 5 06:14.7 5
1 mile 6 05:59.7 3 8
1 mile 7 06:02.9 32 34
1 mile 8 06:02.4 20 65
1 mile 9 05:51.5 56
1 mile 10 05:52.6 9
1 mile 11 05:44.3
1 mile 12 05:54.6 7 11
1 mile 13 05:55.3 9
1 mile 14 05:52.5
1 mile 15 05:53.6 24 29
1 mile 16 05:54.5 16 76
1 mile 17 06:07.1 64
1 mile 18 05:59.4 9 12
1 mile 19 04:56.6 5
1 mile 20 05:55.9 6
1 mile 21 04:59.1
1 mile 22 05:56.4 6
1 mile 23 04:50.5 11 13
1 mile 24 06:17.3 20 75
1 mile 25 05:17.5 52 23
1 mile 26 05:07.3 27
1 mile 27 05:08.7 5 10
1 mile 28 05:06.2 2
1 mile 29 06:19.3 6 3
1 mile 30 06:13.3
0.01 31 :04.2
30.01 Summary 56:20.0 389 407
5:53 avg.

 

8/18-24 AM PM Total
Monday OFF 16 miles; 45 mins S&C 16
Tuesday 14 miles 7 miles 21
Wednesday 4 mile warmup. 13 x Hendrick’s Hill Loop. 5 mile cooldown. 15 miles total. 7 miles 22
Thursday 13 miles; 45 mins S&C 8 miles 21
Friday 13 miles 7 miles 20
Saturday 30 mile long run / workout OFF 30
Sunday 14 miles 6 miles 20
150

Wait, it’s August 17th already?

It’s hard to believe that the Chicago Marathon is just 8 short weeks away. Where has the time gone? It feels like June just happened. And yet – boom! – we are already halfway through August! The summer months always seem to fly by, but this summer has been traveling at Audubon-like speed. These feelings may stem from the fact that I’ve slept in my own bed exactly 14 times over the past 52 days.

Giving them the Zoolander-Blue-Steel look!

Giving them the Zoolander-Blue-Steel look!

Despite trying to keep up with the chaotic schedule, which included working a trio of middle school and high schools camps (always fun to do!), travels to Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, Washington, Massachusetts and around Oregon, and an action-packed week of hosting the Eugene Marathon and the World Junior Championships in Eugene, I’ve somehow found a way to string together a pretty solid last 4 weeks of training.  The average weekly mileage over those 7+ weeks? Right at 120 miles per week.

I left Oregon for my last trip of the summer this past Friday. My destination was the Massachusetts cape for the annual Falmouth Road Race. Although my training has been pretty good, especially these past few weeks, I traveled with a bit of uncertainty as to how my body would respond on race day because of my recent nomadic lifestyle, which usually doesn’t lend itself to racing well. With modified expectations, I looked forward to breaking up the monotony of marathon training by taking in one last change of scenery and soaking up the local residents’ infectious pride they have for their prestigious race and quaint town.

Kathy and I post-race

Kathy and I post-race

One of the unique aspects of the Falmouth Road Race is that the race staff matches elite runners with a host family, who graciously open up their homes to us. Don’t get me wrong, I stay in some really nice hotels throughout the year, but being able to enjoy a home-cooked meal and have a bedroom to yourself is a nice change of pace. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people.

My host this year was Kathy Scadden, who actually lived in Woods Hole about 2 blocks from the start line. Kathy, along with her two daughters, were Amazing-with-a-capital-A hosts! They truly made me feel like I was a part of their family; it was as if they were meeting this long-lost nephew/cousin for the first time. We had some great conversations over several wonderful meals and they did their best to show me around town, even taking me out on the water in their boat. More than anything, it was invigorating to be around ambitious people. They set the tone for Sunday’s race.

As for the actual running part of my trip, it was more good than bad. I finished 8th overall and ran 34:04 (4:50 per mile) for the rolling and scenic 7.1 mile course. Along with being my highest finish at Falmouth (I was 27th in 2011 and 22nd in 2012), it was also my fastest finishing time. And of the three years I’ve run Falmouth, this was easily the warmest, with the sun beating down on the runners as we made our way along the coast from Woods Hole to Falmouth. Running these shorter races in the middle of marathon training for me is always a bit of a crapshoot because there’s really just not any spring in my stride. But doing well gives me a lot of confidence because I know if I can run fast during my heavy training cycles, I’ll be in good position when it’s time to peak. And it’s been fun to be somewhat competitive this summer at these shorter races (referencing both Peachtree and Falmouth).

Top 5 American finishers with the ALL-Americans: Frank Shorter, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, and Meb.

Top 5 American finishers with the ALL-Americans: Frank Shorter, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, and Meb.

So that’s the update. I won’t be leaving Oregon again over the next 2 months and I’m really looking forward to 8 consecutive weeks of normalcy: run, eat, work, run, eat, sleep; repeat. I’ve set the Chicago-marathon-bar high for myself and know that there is lots of work to be done between now and October 12th, but weekends (and races) like this only fuel my fire.

For those of you nerdy-runner folk (not an insult, I’m one of you!), below is a look at my past month of training. I won’t post weekly updates like I did for Boston, but I’ll make sure you see behind the curtains as Chicago approaches. Enjoy!

**I’m posting this message somewhere above Colorado on my flight from Boston to San Francisco – how cool is technology!!

8/11-17 AM PM Total
Monday 12 miles 6 miles 18
Tuesday 3 mile warmup. 25 x 400m, :45 rest. 3 mile cooldown 6 miles 19
Wednesday 12 miles 6 miles 18
Thursday 3 mile warmup. 8 mile tempo. 8 x 300m, :45 rest. 3 mile cooldown. OFF 16
Friday 12 miles OFF 12
Saturday 7 miles OFF 7
Sunday Falmouth Road Race: 34:04 (4:50/mile @ 7.1 miles). OFF 15
105
8/4-10 AM PM Total
Monday 23 miles (miles 17-21 @ tempo pace). OFF 23
Tuesday 11 miles 6 miles 17
Wednesday 13 6 miles 19
Thursday 3 mile warmup. 6 x 1 mile hard / 1k float, continuous. 3 mile cooldown. 15 miles total. 6 miles 21
Friday 12 miles 6 miles 18
Saturday 4 mile warmup. 8 x Hendricks Hill repeats. 4 mile cooldown. 6 miles 18
Sunday 20 miles OFF 20
136
7/28-8/3 AM PM Total
Monday 11 miles 7 miles 18
Tuesday 12 miles 6 miles 18
Wednesday 3 mile warmup. 4 x 400m / 2 mile tempo / 4 x 400m / 2 mile tempo / 4 x 400m. 3 mile cooldown. 6 miles 19
Thursday 12 miles 6 miles 18
Friday 6 miles 12 miles 18
Saturday 3 mile warmup. 3 mile tempo / 6 mins of 100m on/off. 3 mile tempo, 4 mile cooldown 6 miles 21
Sunday 13 miles 7 miles 20
132
7/21-27 AM PM Total
Monday 12 miles 7 miles 19
Tuesday 16 miles: 12 miles (4 easy, 8 @ threshold). 10 x 100m strides. 1 mile hard. 3 mile cooldown. 6 miles 22
Wednesday 15 miles OFF 15
Thursday 6 miles 3 mile warmup. 4 mile tempo, :90 rest, hard 1 mile, :60 rest, hard 800m. 3 mile cooldown 17
Friday 10 miles 5 miles 15
Saturday 7 miles w/ drills OFF 7
Sunday Pace Eugene Marathon @ 5:12 for 18.5 miles. OFF 23
118

Giving Chicago Another Go

Over the past few years, the 4th of July has served as my mid-year alarm clock; a reminder that a fall marathon is on the horizon and it’s time to get refocused.  July 4th hardly seems like the appropriate time to start thinking about October – seriously, summer just started here in the Pacific Northwest! – but marathon runners live by 3-4 month training cycles.

Shortly after crossing the finish line in Boston – honestly, it probably happened before I had even sat down for dinner that evening – I found myself piecing together a fall marathon plan.  My one goal for 2014 was to run a marathon under 2 hours and 13 minutes.  Despite running well in Boston, the disappointment of not accomplishing the goal on the first go-round had a major impact on my fall marathon decision.

I thought about jetting over to Europe to chase a fast time at one of the German marathons – Berlin or Frankfurt – and considered what a plan would look like if I waited until December for either CIM (Sacramento) or Fukuoka (Japan), but ultimately I felt my best chance to run a fast time was to return to the flat, straight roads of Chicago for a third straight year.  Runners like routines, and I know the drill for Chicago – from the training, to the course; the race committee, to the travel and all of the race weekend logistics – I’m comfortable being in a familiar place, surrounded by familiar people.

2013 Chicago Marathon

2013 Chicago Marathon

I’ve been fortunate to find success in Chicago.  In 2012, I ran a then-personal best time of 2:15:38 and last year was able to run my current PB of 2:13:52.  Both times I walked away pleased, but knew I left some time out on the course.  I’m confident that I can continue progressing come October.

With the Olympic Marathon trials just a short 18 months in the future, it’s important to me that I run a time under 2:13.  Even though I’ve strung together some great finishes these last few years, I’m not sure anyone could be considered a serious threat to make the team in 2016 without running a time below 2:13.  Having a PB of 2:11/2:12, or faster, next to my name entering the Trials would be a huge confidence booster on race day.

Today is 12 weeks until the Chicago Marathon.  This might end up being my last shot at running a fast time before the Olympic Trials, so I am totally committing myself to leaving no stone unturned these next 83 days.  It’s hard to say you can do more when you see 150 mile training weeks in the squares of your running log, but you can always do more.  I know that in the past I haven’t committed myself to doing every little thing possible during a marathon block: I’ve missed some post-run striders and skipped out on some strength and core sessions.  Not this time.  Not this fall.  Not this Chicago.

2014 Boston Marathon: Taking Back Monday

On a fittingly perfect New England day, 36,000 runners, along with the entire city of Boston, reclaimed what was taken from them a year ago: Marathon Monday.  We routinely hear how sport has the power to unite and heal, and Monday’s Boston Marathon was the perfect testimonial as to why there is no equal to sport’s power.  Being able to return to participate in such a meaningful sporting event this year was both an honor and a privilege.

As for my personal performance, I’d give myself a B+.  I ran 10-seconds faster than in 2013 and it’s hard to be too discouraged about finishing 12th at the Boston Marathon, especially given the field was much deeper than last year when I placed 10th.  It also marks my third consecutive top-13 finish at a major marathon (12th @ Boston 2014, 13th @ Chicago 2013, and 10th @ Boston 2013), but my inability to hold it together over the final 50-60 minutes of that race is why I can’t possibly give myself a better grade.

Running the Newton Hills with Abdi.

Running the Newton Hills with Abdi.

I did exactly what I set out to do: be aggressive and put myself in the race.  My 5k time this year was almost :45 seconds faster than in 2013, and for nearly 20k, I ran with the main pack.  My half marathon split of 1:05:21 was :40-seconds quicker than any of my previous marathons.  I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say the pace was a little quicker than what I was hoping for; in fact, I knew I was in trouble just before the hills.  However, the alternative was to run the entire race solo and I considered the faster pace with company a better option.  It’s one of those decisions that can only be made during the race.  Did it cost me a faster finishing time?  Probably.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely.

I learned way more about racing, and myself, by taking that risk.  I finally have a good understanding of where my ‘red line’ is for the marathon and that’ll undoubtedly help me this fall.  But the best part of taking that risk and running with the main pack was that I somehow found myself involved in some of the racing tactics that might have led to Meb building such a big lead.

When Meb and JB made their break, the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners were content to let them go, slowing the pace down to almost 5:20 at times.  This allowed myself and Jason Hartmann, who had fallen off the pace at the time, to re-engage with the main pack.  I can’t speak for Jason, but when we caught up to the group, my thought was to just keep maintaining my pace; I find it much easier to lock into a rhythm and run than to have the pace yo-yo, especially in a marathon, where energy conservation is at a premium.  As Jason and I made our way to the front of the pack, Ryan Hall looked at us and told us to take it easy.  He knew that if any of us [Americans] were to poke the hornet’s nest and infuse some pace at that point in the race, it would allow the top runners an easier opportunity to catch Meb and JB.  So we played along with them and ran the pace they wanted to run.  As a result, Meb was able to extend his lead to over 90-seconds.  By the time the top guys decided to pursue the chase, it was too late.  Even the best runners in the world couldn’t cover that kind of a gap.  There is a more detailed account of what happened on Letsrun.com, if you are interested.

All the credit in the world goes to Meb, who went out there and won that race with his own aggressive and fearless running.  It’s been 31 years since there was a US champion in Boston and it was more important than ever to have an American win this year’s race.  And Meb delivered!  Trust me when I say that the last few miles of that race were painful, but when I found out after the finish that Meb won, I could have done a damn cartwheel – and I can’t even do cartwheels!  He’s the consummate professional in our sport.  There’s a reason why, at age 38, he is still around.  Clearly he’s talented, but Meb is also incredibly smart about how he takes care of his body, doing all the little things.  If you have some time, check out the series ElliptiGO did with Meb leading into this year’s race.  Meb Minutes was a weekly series of videos that gives an inside look into Meb’s preparation for Boston.  It covers topics from his mental approach and training philosophy to workouts, cross-training and “the small things” that have made his career long and successful.

But I also left Boston with a ton of respect and admiration for Ryan Hall.  He knew how important it was to have an American win this year.  And he also realized, with how the race was playing out, that we could maybe help give Meb a shot.  His selfless actions speak highly to the kind of person Ryan Hall is.  He’s taken a lot of criticism these last two years, but our sport is much better with Ryan Hall out there racing.

I’m a little more beat up than usual, which is probably a result of over-extending myself so early in the race.  Marathoners often joke about how if they could predict their finish time prior to the race, they would often run differently – as in, it would have been better to run 67 minutes at the half and not 65:21!  As a result of the soreness, I’ll work back into running and workouts a little more cautiously.  The focus for the next few months will then shift to some shorter races, before pacing the Eugene Marathon in July, and then ultimately finding a fall marathon.

I’ll be back in Ohio this week as a guest of the Capital City Half Marathon and I hope to see some familiar faces!

It’s been a great few years of racing for me and I truly appreciate all the support I get from everyone.  I am beyond blessed to have the backing of so many great people and there’s no doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the many helping hands along the way.

Boston Marathon mile splits – presented by Garmin

  • Mile 1 -
  • Mile 2 – 946
  • Mile 3 – 454
  • Mile 4 – 452
  • Mile 5 – 459
  • Mile 6 – 455
  • Mile 7 – 454
  • Mile 8 – 458
  • Mile 9 – 459
  • Mile 10 – 509
  • Mile 11 – 510
  • Mile 12 -
  • Mile 13 -
  • Mile 14 – 1508
  • Mile 15 – 509
  • Mile 16 – 452
  • Mile 17 – 515
  • Mile 18 -
  • Mile 19 -
  • Mile 20 – 1554
  • Mile 21 – 530
  • Mile 22 – 509
  • Mile 23 – 516
  • Mile 24 – 512
  • Mile 25 – 526
  • Last 1.2 – 653
  • It’s GO! Time

    Today is my travel day.  Before I board my coast-to-coast flight here in San Francisco, I wanted to go live with some final pre-race thoughts and also provide information on how to watch/follow Monday’s race.

    It’s hard to believe that a year has already passed since the 2013 Boston Marathon.  As I wrote last year, that Monday included irreplaceable highs and unfathomable lows.  I’m glad, in a way, that this year’s race comes 371 days after the events of 2013.  With Tuesday’s day of remembrance and memorial services behind us, the attention now shifts to the actual race – and if I want to perform well, that has to be my focus.

    More specifically, my focus is on running faster than I have ever run before.  That’s the goal I set for myself when I begin each marathon cycle.  And so far in my career, I’ve been able to execute the plan; outside of doing a one-off marathon in January of 2013, where the goal was to race for place, not time, I’ve improved on each of my first 6 marathon performances:

    1. Eugene Marathon – 2:23, 1st (May, 2010)
    2. Twin Cities Marathon – 2:18, 10th (October, 2010)
    3. USA Olympic Marathon Trials – 2:15, 26th (January, 2012)
    4. Chicago Marathon – 2:15, 20th (October, 2012)
    5. Mississippi Blues Marathon – 2:16, 1st (January, 2013)
    6. Boston Marathon – 2:14, 10th (April, 2013)
    7. Chicago Marathon – 2:13, 13th (October, 2013)

    Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 6.38.08 AMAs you can see, I’ve been able to consistently move forward for 3.5 years.  Most of that has been a result of harder and smarter training, but considering each of those 7 marathons have been run under good weather conditions, I’ve gotten a little lucky as well.  No matter how good your training has been leading up to a marathon, if the weather turns sour, so does your race.  But once again, it appears the running gods are looking out for me.  Forecasters are now confidently predicting near ideal conditions for Monday’s race.

    With the most crucial, and uncontrollable, component to racing well shaping into form, I’m able to really lock in on doing what I set out to do when I began training in January – PR!  A lot of runners shy away from expounding upon pre-race goals, but I can say that if I didn’t run faster than 2:13:52 on Monday, I’ll be a bit disappointed.  And that’s because of how well the training has gone this cycle.  I’ve been able to run more miles, with better quality, than any previous marathon block.  And most importantly, the last 6-weeks of training has been superb.

    After running last year’s Boston Marathon, I truly believe that if the weather cooperates, it can be a fast course.  Sure, there are some challenging parts to the course – you get a couple of tough miles around 10-12 and then the undulating 10k from roughly 25-35k.  But, the first 10k and the last 8k are some of the easiest miles of marathoning in the world.

    So yeah, given there are no pacemakers, people always want to make Boston about your place finish.  But my focus for 2014 is on time.  I want a better PR than 2:13:52.  And I also suspect that if I run a PR, I’ll be happy with my finishing place.

    Last week of training:

    Throughout this cycle I have been posting weekly updates on what marathon training looks like from my point of view.  I have links to each of the previous posts, which include the past 12 weeks worth of training.  The emphasis for this cycle was on building a bigger base.  I ran roughly 130 miles more (approximately 10 additional miles per week) than during my training cycle for last year’s Boston Marathon.  Included in that were several workout-focused long runs and an over-distance run of 28 miles back on March 1st.  You can’t grow if you don’t change.  Hopefully there’s some measurable growth come Monday afternoon!

  • Post 1
  • Post 2
  • Post 3
  • Post 4
  • Post 5
  • Post 6
  • Post 7
  • Post 8
  • Post 9
  • Below is what my final week leading into the marathon has looked/will look like…

    4/14-20 AM PM Total
    Monday 45 mins S&C; 10 miles 10
    Tuesday 3 mile warmup. 5 x 1000m, :60 rest; 8 x 400, :45 rest. 3 mile cooldown. 11
    Wednesday 8 miles 8
    Thursday 3 mile warmup. 5 mile gentle progressive run. 8 x 100m striders. 2 mile cooldown. 10
    Friday OFF 0
    Saturday 5 miles 5
    Sunday 1.5 mile warmup. 2 x 1 mile, :90 rest. 6-8 x 100m striders. 1.5 mile cooldown. 6
    50

    How to watch/follow:

    Before I get into all the ways you can follow the race from afar, let me begin by saying if you were ever going to attend a Boston Marathon live, this would be the one to attend.  The folks at GQ agree with me.  If you are in the area, find a way to get to the course.  Take it all in: the energy, the passion, and most importantly, the patriotism.  There will never be a more grand Boston Marathon.

    For those of you who can’t make it to Beantown, there are several ways to follow all the action.  The 2014 Boston Marathon will be broadcast live from Boston, Massachusetts Monday, April 21 via Universal Sports television network and UniversalSports.com. Many providers will be carrying Universal Sports as a free preview April 14-21. Check your local listings for the channel number (complete coverage schedule listed below).  Universalsports.com will also feature a live finish line camera showing runners as they complete the race.  WATCH ONLINE HERE

    You can also sign up to receive text updates here.  I’ll be bib #29.  It looks like you’ll get splits from 10k, half, 30k and the finish.  I’m sure the Boston Marathon webpage will also provide links to live results on race morning; so if you don’t want to go the text messaging route, you should be able to get all the info on the website.

    Finally, despite being without my social media guru, Aadam Soorma, this weekend, the plan is to still provide some live updates from on the ground through my twitter page @cleonrun.  For those who have followed my last two marathons in Boston and Chicago, Mr. Soorma provided some great material.  His forthcoming graduation from Carnegie Mellon University has precluded him from joining the festivities in Boston, but I can guarantee he’ll be back on the payroll soon enough.  For those of us who know Soorma well, we couldn’t be more proud to see him graduate with his Master’s degree from one of this country’s best schools.  His absence leaves a big void in my race day coverage, but I’ll try my best to find a viable solution.

    Full Universal Sports Boston Marathon Coverage:

    DATE         EVENT                                                  VIEWING INFO

  • 04/19    2014 Boston Marathon Preview Show (LIVE)    TV: 4:00pm ET
  • 04/21    2014 Boston Marathon Pre-race Show (LIVE)    TV: 8:30am ET
  • 04/21    2014 Boston Marathon (LIVE)    TV: 9:25am ET Online: 8:30am ET
  • 04/21    2014 Boston Marathon Finish Line Stream (LIVE/VOD)    Online: TBD ET
  • 04/21    2014 Boston Marathon Post-race (LIVE)    TV: 12:30pm ET
  • 04/21    2014 Boston Marathon Wrap-Up Show (LIVE)    TV: 4:00pm ET
  • 04/21    2014 Boston Marathon (encore presentation)    TV: 8:00pm ET
  • Final Thoughts:

    The Boston Marathon has been, and always will be, the greatest footrace on the planet.  Nothing that happened last year did anything to change this.  But the 2014 Boston Marathon will be more than just a race; it will be celebration of human resiliency.  Before I head out the door for a run each day over the past year, I’ve been reminded by the poster (see right) that hangs on the wall at my house that “we will finish the race”.  In an interview with ProForm, makers of the official Boston Marathon treadmill, I talked about how important crossing that finish line means to this particular race.  Even for those of us who finished the 2013 Boston Marathon, there has been a sense of incompletion to that day.  It’s time to finalize that chapter.  It’s time to finish that day.  It’s time to finish that race.

    Whether  you are running or watching, I hope you have as much fun on Monday as I plan on having!