Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mission Accomplished (for now)

     Now that I have had some time to recover and fill myself with pizza I can write this new post. Operation Qualify for Boston is COMPLETE!!! I finished this mornings 2012 Prairie Fire Marathon in 2:58:02. That is almost seven minutes faster than the 3:05 I needed to qualify for the Boston Marathon at my age. I needed 185 minutes or less and I achieved 178(.02) minutes.
Trying to finish strong while fighting off horrible cramping in my hamstrings. PHOTO BY JAIME GREEN
     The race started exactly at 8:00 a.m. in downtown Wichita, and the weather was nice and cool (around 55-60 degrees with a bit of wind). I positioned myself towards the front of the starting line, and as the Star Spangled Banner was played, my heart was racing in anticipation of the start.
     As the final seconds were counted down in choral fashion before the starting horn sounded, I soaked in the final moments of stationary living before I put my body through roughly three hours of different levels of agony.
     Mile one went fast (as expected) and then, even though I watered the parking lot prior to starting, I had to veer behind a car to piss some more during mile two (I blame it on the excitement). I finished the second of the 26.2 miles in 7:07, but then ran mile three in 6:30. I thought to myself, "Too fast! Slow it down a bit." The next two miles (four and five) were completed in 6:40 and 6:33. So much for slowing down. But I felt good and didn't feel as though I was going to hard as I kept reminding myself that there were many miles to come.
     Now would be a good time to say that I had a fantastic support crew. My mom and uncle were there from the beginning to the end, and my dad surfaced at mile 20. These three made it so much better, and I can't emphasize how much their support meant. (Pictured below with my mom and dad after the race, top, and with my uncle.)

      I felt good through the first 15 miles (I never really hit "the wall"), but a bad side cramp reared its head around mile 16 and I thought I might have to stop to fight it away. Luckily, a GU (I'm partial to "Espresso Love") and a well placed aid station with water bottles was enough to rid myself of the cramp.
     Upon reaching mile 20 my run was almost an isolated one. It was just myself and another guy that had ran by me for much of the race. I took one last GU around mile 23 (I took three throughout the race: mile 9, 16, and 23) and focused on a strong finish. With less than two miles to go my hamstrings began to cramp. And then the cramping worsened. And then the cramping almost forced me to stop because I couldn't bend my legs back. All I could think about was, "I've come 25 miles, please just let me finish this thing running!" My gate transformed out of desperation to keep moving to a straight legged movement (like when Forrest Gump runs with his leg braces on before breaking free, only I went from free to braced!)
     One last left turn and one last straightaway (the last .2 miles) was all that stood between me and the finish line. The running gods showed just enough mercy on me to allow me Gump myself to the finish line. The cramps then took over and I was unable to move for a few seconds, but I didn't care then because I had accomplished my goal. I crossed the finish line in two hours, 58 minutes, and two seconds. I qualified for the Boston Marathon. Overall, I came in 10th place and first in my age group (19-24).
     So now what? I plan on getting up and running four miles very lightly and gingerly in the morning to flush out the lactic acid and get my blood moving. After tomorrow I plan on taking two full weeks off of running to recover, and getting back on the bike and in the pool in about a week. The 2013 Boston Marathon registration was conducted in September so I won't be able to register until the 2014 race. I don't have any races planned for the near future, although I do have some in mind. The main thing right now is to let my body recover. It has taken a beating over the last five to six months. I have ran everyday since May 21st. Tomorrow will be 148 days of running in a row. I didn't give myself enough recovery time after last years marathon and I was injured until Valentine's Day this year.
     The journey to qualifying for the worlds most famous marathon has come to end, but the real journey is only beginning.
     All of the hard work, early mornings, many miles, and everything else that went into this race was worth it and I'd do it again. In fact, I will. 
     Until next time...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The final hours

     The 2012 Prairie Fire Marathon starts in a little more than 13 hours. I picked up my race bib and bag at the Fit for Life Expo at Century II this afternoon, and that's when the anxiety started to hit me a little bit. Up to this point I haven't been nervous or anxious about the race, but these last remaining hours have changed that. I have been thinking in my head about all of the miles and months of training that have gone into this one thing. Excitement, however, is what I am really feeling. I don't anticipate getting too much sleep tonight because my thoughts will be going crazy thinking about tomorrow morning.
     I woke up this morning and ran four fairly easy miles. I ran some errands with my mom around town, but did very little walking (at least as little as I could). Now I am going to have some pasta and two slices of toast, and then I will lay down to rest, and hopefully sleep.
     My alarm is set to go off at 5:30 a.m. The race starts at 8 a.m., so I want to give myself plenty of time to get up and moving, eat a little bit of oatmeal and honey and a small cup of black coffee, and to make sure I have plenty of time to arrive at the starting line.
     See you on the other side!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The hay is in the barn

     I completed my longest training run this morning, 22.22 miles. It is now three weeks until the Prairie Fire Marathon and I have finished the hardest part of my training (in theory). The last several weeks I have been putting in 80+ miles a week, including 87.88 this week (if you add today's run that would be 110.1 miles in eight days). 
     My plan now is to decrease my mileage to about 78 miles this week, 64 miles next week, and about 35-40 miles the week prior to the race. The vast majority of these miles will be done at a very easy pace, but I'll make sure to add intensity throughout to try and stay sharp. This is all liable to change as I will be paying close attention to what my body tells me for the next three weeks. 
     Tapering is often talked about as much harder than it seems because the decrease in mileage can make you feel as though you're losing fitness, but I am believer of lessening the load going into the marathon as long as some of the tapered mileage is at a reasonably high intensity. 
     Three more weeks!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Two months to go

     It has been a while since I have posted, busy summer. I finished an internship at The Gillette News Record at the end of July and made my way back to the "Sunflower State." While I was working 10+ hour days working as a photojournalist, I made sure to get up early enough to run everyday while in Wyoming. Before moving there, I was excited to have a somewhat cooler summer than I would if I had stayed in Kansas. As we all know, this has been one of the hottest summers in history (July was THE hottest month in U.S. history).
     One positive about running in Gillette was the "altitude". The "Energy Capital of the Nation" has an elevation of 4,500 feet. It took me about two weeks before I felt fully acclimated on my runs, but I hope two and a half months up that high will prove beneficial (so far it has since my return to ICT). I ran between 50-60 miles a week in Wyoming.
     I officially registered for the Prairie Fire Marathon last week. The race is on October 14, roughly two months from now. I have increased my mileage to about 70-80 miles a week since getting back to Kansas, mostly because I have had the time to do longer runs. I'll take it back down to 50-60 miles a week when school starts later this month (I'm attending Wichita State University to pursue another degree). 
     My long run for the week is at about 14.5 miles right now, and I am planning to max out on a 20-22 mile long run three weeks before the marathon. My body feels good and my endurance feels good. I need to concentrate a little more on my pace and I want to do some track/speed work before October. My goal, obviously, is to finish under 3:05 and qualify for Boston, although my bigger goal is to finish under 3:00.
     Thank you for keeping up with this little running journal and check back later, please! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

2012 Johnston's Wichita Half Marathon

Finish line at the 2012 Wichita Half Marathon
     This morning I ran the 2012 Wichita Half Marathon. I woke up at 6 a.m. to, what else, a thunderstorm. I've just made rain a part of my races now, so instead of being mad or surprised, I just expect it.
     The race started at Riverside Park, near downtown Wichita, and, for the most part, ran up and down the Arkansas River. The rain wasn't too bad, it felt good actually, the problem was puddles. Rain throughout the night created many, many puddles that were unavoidable throughout the race, therefore my shoes became saturated with water, doubling, perhaps tripling in weight.
My unofficial splits from my Garmin watch.
     My realistic goal heading into the race was to run a sub-7 minute pace throughout and get as close to 1:30 as possible, thinking I would be around 1:34-1:38. I started strong and held a comfortable 6:40ish pace for the first 6-8 miles, but by mile 9 I was starting to feel a lack of energy. Luckily, I ran with a gel in my pocket (I never run or train with gels or GU's, but I did today just to be safe), and used it at the 10 mile mark. This gave me a noticeable boost and I decided to push myself a bit out of comfort zone.
     I crossed the finish line in 1:26:07 at a 6:35 min/mile pace. This was much better than I expected, even better than my loftier goal of 1:30 before the race. I train alone and therefore only have my Garmin watch to "pace" me. But in races it is easier in a sense to run faster and harder, because there are so many people to help set a pace. Plus, for me, nothing is more exhilarating than race day.
     This will be my last race for a while. I am graduating from Kansas State University and moving to Gillette, Wyoming, all within the next two weeks. But I will continue to run/train and hope to find a race sooner than later.
     As always, thank you for checking out my blog!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

2012 Easter SunRun 10k

After finishing the 2012 Easter SunRun 10k in 39:19.
     This morning I ran the 2012 Easter SunRun at Sedgwick County Park in Wichita. I woke up at 6 a.m. and did a very light 2-mile run around my neighborhood to get my blood flowing, and to wake up. When I got ready to put on my racing singlet and shorts for the 10k, a clap of thunder followed by rain began to make its presence over the Wichita skies. Rain has seemed to be an omen when I run in actual events, because it poured the day before the Prairie Fire Marathon in October. All was well, though, because, the Running Gods and Rain Gods spoke, and like the marathon in October, conditions became almost perfect when it came time to toe the starting line.

My medal for finishing first in my age division.
     More than 680 runners participated in the 10k race (there was also a 2-mile race and 2-mile walk, so around 1,000 people altogether). They gave us a hand drawn course map, but I really didn't know what the course would present. It was cool and overcast, my favorite, but because of the rain it was a bit slick in certain spots. My goal was to finish in under 43:00 and run a sub 7:00 pace. They had people at each kilometer giving the time. When I reached 5k, I heard 18:53, 18:54..., so I began to think maybe I could push myself and run a sub 40:00.
     As I turned the final corner and ran to the finish line I had enough in the tank for a strong kick. I heard the announcer say something like, "Here is Logan Jones coming in with a strong finish." That motivated me a bit more (plus I didn't want anyone to pass me at the end). When I stopped my watch I saw that I had indeed finished under 40:00 I was pumped! For me, nothing gets me in as good of a mood than finishing a run (runners high?), let alone one of the best runs and best paces I have ever done.
Not official, but here are mile splits from my Garmin FR410.
When I checked the results, I saw that my official time was 39:19 at a 6:20 pace. I placed 24th overall and first in my age group, 19-24, although I really placed second because the second overall finisher is in my age group.
      Overall, it was an exciting, thrilling morning. I LOVE the energy at races, everyone is just buzzing. I have my eyes loosely focusing on the Wichita Half Marathon in 3-weeks. It would be my last race before graduating college and moving to Wyoming. So, stay tuned and thank you for checking in on my blog!


Friday, March 30, 2012

New Running Blog

Crossing the finish line at the 2011 Prairie Fire Marathon.
     Hello and thank you for checking out my new blog about running. As you may or may not know, I am an avid runner. I would describe running as endurance legend, Lance Armstrong, did in an interview, saying, "I view running as a hobby and a necessity. It's a hobby in the sense that it's not a job, it's just something that you go out and do. But a necessity in the sense that I feel like I have to do something everyday, I have to stay fit, I have to be involved in some type of exercise, and running does that for me."
     I've been playing sports all of my life, mainly basketball, but running long distances used to be something I would dread. During high school conditioning the thought of running more than a mile (26.2 was not even close to registering) was exhausting just to think about. When I graduated and began college, I needed something to take the void basketball once filled. I turned to running.
     After a while I began to enjoy it more and more and I felt the positive affects it was giving me physically, and mentally. Endurance sports became something I craved.
Refueling and studying the route during the 2010 Triple Bypass.
     Two years ago I signed up for a 120 mile bike ride in Colorado over three mountain passes, the Triple Bypass. My training was done at my home in Wichita, KS, where mountains are nonexistent, and existed of more running than cycling. So, when it came time to partake in the bike ride, I had never rode my bike more than 40 miles in one ride. However, I was running more than 80 miles a week at the height of my training so I felt I had the endurance to make it through. After nine hours on the saddle, beginning the day in Evergreen, CO, I rode my way into Avon, CO completing the Triple Bypass. After that day I was full-fledged into endurance events and running was the new priority.

After the Race for the Cure 5k.   
     Last September, I entered the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k in Wichita, just to run it. When I crossed the finish line, I found out I finished in eighth place and my time was around 18:50. This was much faster than I expected, and I certainly did not think I would place in the top ten. At this time, I was consistently running 50 miles a week. My weekly routine was: 10k Monday through Friday, 8 miles on Saturday, and 10 miles on Sunday. After the 5k, I was, perhaps overly, optimistic that I could finish a marathon (at this point I had been wanting to run a marathon but not sure if I could do it). The Prairie Fire Marathon was three or four weeks after the 5k, but still feeling good about the 3.1 mile race, I signed up for the 26.2 mile run. I remember my dad asking me the night before the marathon if I could do it. I told him, "I know I can finish a half marathon (13.1 miles), so I don't want to finish and think I could have done a full (26.2 miles)."

With my mom and dad after the 2011 Prairie Fire Marathon
     On the morning of the marathon, a Sunday in early October, the temperature was perfect. It had rained nonstop throughout the night, but a clear sky greeted all of the runners in downtown Wichita. As all of the runners gathered in the starting area, the buzz and emotion was like nothing I had ever experienced or felt. When the gun was fired to begin the race, my life began to change. I ran a very cautious pace throughout the marathon, not knowing what to expect (I had never ran more than 12 miles in a single run up to this point). I had the support of my family, including signs my top supporter, my mom, created the night before to further encourage me. I felt amazing through the first 13.1 miles (making me feel good about choosing the full marathon and not the half), and continued to feel good through mile 23. But then pain and exhaustion began to set in. I ripped open a bag of sport beans to help me finish, and all of a sudden I was a half a mile from the finish. Because I was running such a conservative pace, I began a dead sprint, giving everything I had, until I crossed the finish line. My official time was 3:39:02. A pace of 8:22 per mile. That was better than I had expected, hoping for a sub-four hour finish.
      After several months of a nagging injury, runner's knee, I am now recovered and back to running. Now I have a goal, like many marathoners, to qualify for the legendary Boston Marathon. I am 22-years-old, and "Boston" requires qualifying times categorized by age groups in order to run. At my age, I have to complete a Boston qualifying marathon in 3 hours and 5 minutes, or 185 minutes.
     I am trying to be smart with my training and not rushing into any races until I prepared. This blog is another way to keep myself motivated and to keep a diary of my training.
     Once again, thank you for coming to look at my new blog, and I hope you come back!

     P.S. Blog posts in the future will be WAY shorter than this one!