Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A need for Speed

After marathon number two, I decided to get serious and learn more about what I need to do to improve my time beyond logging 500-600 miles per marathon in training. The need to lower my time probably has something to do with my combination of OCD, Type A, and un-natural competitive skills (stupid competitive stuff like the time we did time trials on the water slide at President’s Club in Hawaii—we spent all afternoon figuring out who could get to the bottom the quickest—my nickname after that day—the “Pink Torpedo” due to the red hair, fair skin, and freakish water slide speed.)

Logical components to add to the routine include; speed work, hills, tempo runs and Fartleks--okay…true confessions, I still don’t know what a Fartlek is—too many things that pop in my head, but none seem to have anything to do with running. Anyway, I digress. My last marathon (Chicago ’08) and training for CIM in December have introduced speed training to my regimen. Having never run at any level, showing up a high school running track was a foreign concept to me. I must admit, I had to ask on the first day, “what’s a 400?” I eventually figured it out—essentially, 400 meters is one lap on a standard track and a ¼ mile (1 mile = 1 609.344 meters.)

Part of the “stable” of experts I try and glean guidance from includes my speed coach, Maureen Roben. Maureen is one of the few American women who has qualified for four Olympic Trials for the marathon, and was the #1 American woman (marathoner in 1987.) Maureen runs a group of runners that meet twice a week for speed interval training. I catch the “o’dark thirty” session on Wednesdays at Cherry Creek Middle School. Maureen has a wide range of runners (skill, age) and does a great job of mixing it up with a variety of different intervals each week. She’s helped me improve my time and has helped tweak different form issues—leaning forward and not running with my arms in front vs. flinging behind my back.

Maureen does a good job of “mixing it up” with 200’s, 400’s and 800’s with recovery laps in between. As mentioned above, there’s a wide range of runners so there’s always an elite runner or 20 something in front of me pushing me to go faster. Overall, I’d give it a “thumbs up” to integrating speed/track work into your regimen.

Ten weeks to go to see if I can “shave” two minutes off my last marathon time of 3:32. Oh so close….

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bubble Boy

I'd begun my night before pre-race ritual of preparing for Denver's Labor Day Park to Park 10 Miler. I looked forward to the race for many reasons; my first race test of my stress fractured leg and one of my (track) running coaches, Maureen Roben was one of the race organizers.

Going through my "night before" checklist, I started laying out my "racing shrine" preparing for the next morning's race. Charge the Garmin (and make sure it's not on draining batteries.) Check! Attach Bib Number to running shirt. Check! Layout complete running outfit (socks, shorts, shirt, Gel Asics.) Check! Layout the goo snacks and pre-race boost meal. Check! Double check race time, and time to hit parking. Check! Set alarm. Check! Pre-night pasta dinner. FAIL. Poor planning lead to a very tasty, but not "evening before a long race" meal.

Relax...FAIL! This is where it started to go sideways...

I had run seven miles the day before (Saturday) and did a light cross training day on Sunday. The cross training was clearly a "check the box" that I'd done the work, but I was feeling rather run down. Nevertheless, I got through the work--elliptical at the 24 Hour Fitness where I do much of my indoor work and cross training.

Between "feeling off," pushing a bit on the Saturday run, I was starting to feel it. I decided to kick back to watch the CSU vs. CU Football game, and although I was enjoying the outcome of the game, I starting to feel my temperature rise. My wife often calls me "Inferno Man" (insert joke here) as my engine often runs a little warm during marathon training--I attributed it to that. As the game progressed, so did my engine temp. By the end of the game, I commented, "I'm not feeling so good." A check of the forehead revealed, I was burning up. We took my temperature, and sure enough, 101 degrees.

This is where the Darwin effect kicked in. I reasoned that I'd run a fast seven miles the day before and that often, my engine runs hot. Get a good night's rest I thought and you'll be fine in the morning. Chills started to set in and I covered myself in blankets and sweat through the night.

Race day, I wake up and feel a bit drained, but the temp was down. I started to go through my morning of race day ritual. I was thinking, "I can run it, but just won't go for my 10 Mile PR." Delusional...perhaps. My wife and queen of Google gets up and searches the internet to find the advise from Runner's World and David Nieman, PhD., "Symptoms below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, body ache) require time off, while symptoms above the neck (runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing) don't pose a risk to runners continuing workouts." This was below the neck, since my entire body ached, and chills is not an above the neck thing.

Begrudgingly, I threw my race shrine into my Nike run bag (I didn't want to see the reminder when I awoke) and went back to bed. Obviously the right move, since I have run a 101 temp for two days since and can only imagine my fate had I tried to run a fast 10.

With age comes wisdom. Now, I only have to wrestle the running demons in my head on how soon I can back out in the Asics.

About Me

My photo

Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine