Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rockin' 'n' Rollin' in Denver

     Well, quite a bit has happened since my last post, and since I completed another marathon today it seemed like a good time to update this blog. I'm sitting in my hotel room in downtown Denver and just finished watching the Chiefs win and improve to, 7-0!! The reason I'm in the Mile High City, however, is the 2013 Rock 'n' Roll Denver Marathon. I love Colorado and a marathon was the perfect excuse to get back out here.
     I put in the strongest and toughest training block I've ever done leading up to this mornings race. The biggest changes I made in my training this time around is higher mileage and speed work. The heaviest part of my training was six consecutive weeks of 100+ miles per week, maxing out with 121-miles for one of those weeks. Going to the track and doing speed workouts is something I had never done before, but definitely helped me reach a new level in my running.
     This would be a good time to write that in early June I started a new (dream) job at First Gear Running Company in Wichita. The people I work with are amazing and have truly become a second family to me. Working with such great and experienced runners has given me the ability to pick their brains and get great advice. The track workouts I started doing is also because of my employment at FGRC. I've also met a lot of great people working there, not to mention a lot about the running industry and how to properly fit someone for shoes. Great, great place to be... but I digress.
     Running in Colorado and  at altitude is something I had done before, but I couldn't say the same about racing at altitude. I figured I just needed to try and be as fit as possible and hope for the best in regards to the elevation gain.
     This morning (and the entire race, really) was beautiful, perfect running weather. The start and finished was in downtown Denver, right by the capitol building. My initial goal for this marathon was to try and PR and run sub-2:55. However, as my training progressed I starting thinking about a possible sub-2:50. The idea of running 6:30 min/mile pace was something that made me nervous, though. With that said, I toed the staring line with a plan of holding 6:30 pace as long as I could. I was feeling really good through 10k and kept feeling good past the halfway point. Checking the splits on my watch I knew I was below 6:30 pace, but it felt comfortable. I ran with a guy from Boulder through 16-17 miles and then he dropped back a bit, so I was solo for awhile. It's much better running with a group or someone than alone. A little before 10k to go, I hooked up with another runner and we tried to work with each other to get through. The last 10k was pretty brutal. I was starting to think I might be paying for going out too fast (I went through the half at 1:23:? with a plan of going through at 1:25:00). It's all mental at this point. I heard the marathon described as a 20-mile warmup and then the toughest 10k you can imagine once, and that was true for me today. I don't know if the race director wanted to make the ending "challenging" or if they wanted to give a slap in the face to the runners, but at mile 25 there is an uphill that is STEEP. Yes, a large part of it is because it's mile 25 and you're running on fumes, but it was just about debilitating. The finish, the final .2, is the exact opposite. It is straight downhill. Too downhill. Like, out of control I'm about to face plant and somersault to the finish! Anyway, enough complaining. It was gorgeous and fun to run in a big city (there were 15,000 runners).
     I crossed the finish line in 2:48:25 (6:26 min/mile). 10th overall and first in my age group. Blew away my expectations and gives me a lot of confidence going into April.
     Speaking of which... I got into Boston!!! That's the purpose of this blog so I should probably mention that! Tomorrow I'll go for an easy (and sore) shake out run and then take two weeks off of running. I want to make sure I fully recover, give my body a break, and go into my training for Boston feeling fresh and healthy.
     I'm celebrating today's PR, though, with a pig out session at my favorite place to eat ANYWHERE... Woody's Wood-Fired Pizza & Watering Hole in Golden. There's usually a wait and the Broncos are playing Sunday Night Football, so I better get going... (I'll be decked out in Chiefs gear, so hopefully I make it out alive...)
     Thanks for checking out my running ramblings and until next time... RESPECT THE DISTANCE!!!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spring Racing

      It has been quite a long time since I have written a new post for this blog. Needless to say, a lot has happened in regards to the purpose of this online journal since the fall. A long entry could be made solely on the tragic, horrific terror attack that occurred on April 15 in Boston. I have decided not to do so, however, because my thoughts and emotions are quite likely not too different than the majority of others, in general.
     The attack did affect me, though. When I first heard about what had happened, I felt a sense of numbness throughout my body. At the time, I knew of one person (that I actually know) that was running the Boston Marathon that day (later I discovered several acquaintances that were there taking part). Thankfully, they were all unharmed (physically, anyway).
     Am I still wanting to go to Boston and run next April? ABSOLUTELY!!! It seems as though each Boston Marathon is magical, amazing, awesome, etc. according to those who have taken part, but I expect next year to something quite exceptional. On April 21, 2014, I desperately hope to be in Boston and experience that magic.
     Now for some updates of my running since the fall Prairie Fire Marathon. I battled some patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner's knee) for a month or two during the winter, so I didn't put in a lot of miles. A lot of cross training kept me in decent shape, though (swimming and cycling). After the new year I was healthy enough to start running more, but I still swim and get out on the bike a couple of days a week. As much I would like to run every day (like I usually do), I know the cross training is a smart choice (it also keeps the thought of testing the triathlon world before too long). 
     I have raced in four races since the marathon: a 5k, 10k, 2-mile, and half marathon. A PR has come out of each of them. The first was the "2012 Thanksgiving Say Grace 5k." I finished with a time of 17:47 at 5:44 min/mile pace. Running a PR was nice, but since I never do track or speed work it definitely showed my lack of speed at shorter distances. I'd like to run a sub-17:00 5k at some point.
     Next, the "2013 Easter Sun Run" where I raced in the 10k and 2-mile. My focus was on the 10k, and I finished with a time of 37:03 at 5:58 min/mile pace. I was super excited to knock more than two minutes off my previous 10k PR (39:19 at 6:20 min/mile pace). The 2-mile started about 30 minutes after I finished the 10k, and after a quarter of a mile into the race my legs turned into cement. I halfway expected this since I gave all my effort in the 10k, and was racing the 2-mile just to see what kind of time I'd get. I finished with a time of 11:18 at 5:39 min/mile pace, fourth overall. And since I didn't have a previous 2-mile race PR... that was a PR! ;)
     This morning I raced in the "2013 Prairie Fire Spring Half Marathon." I've been putting in 55-60 miles a week lately (again, two days are either in the pool or on the bike), but I certainly wasn't "training" for this race. The weather has been beyond bipolar in Wichita lately (yes, even for Kansas), so we had a chilly, wet morning with some wind for our race conditions. My only goal was to, hopefully, PR. My previous half marathon PR was 1:26:07 at 6:35 min/mile pace. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:23:25 at 6:22 min/mile pace. Another PR!!!
     A lot of times I look at my Garmin to see my mile splits during a race, but for the four races I've written about here, I've just been going on how I feel. It makes me feel a little "freer" to not be constantly checking my pace. 
     Overall, I feel good about where my fitness is at. I look at how all of my times have improved from a year ago, and can't help but think I'm a better runner than I was at this point last year. I don't have anymore races planned for the near future. A fall marathon will be my main focal point moving forward. Since I've raced in the Prairie Fire Marathon here in Wichita the last two years, I'd like to go somewhere else this fall. As of now I'm targeting the Denver Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on October 20, or the St. Louis Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on October 27. 
     As always, thank you for checking out my online soliloquies about running!