Week 2 Training Update

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My return to training is right on pace with an increase of 10% over last week’s start. I’m not putting up blistering numbers by any means, but this is the first time I’ve run 5 days in back-to-back weeks since the first two weeks in August, 2014. That’s a really long stretch, and it’s all thanks to too many races and the resulting Achilles issues. Considering how many days and miles I missed by trying to accomplish too much, it’s safe to say I’ll be much more aware in the weeks, months, and years to come.

As I said, this week’s sessions were nothing to write home about, just an attempt to get accustomed to certain training practices that I once considered no big deal. I started off the week with a rest day that followed last week’s long run of 8.5 miles. Tuesday was an easy run of 4 miles. On Wednesday I did my first tempo run in months. I had no idea what I’d be able to do, but was pleasantly surprised. After a short warm-up I ran 3 miles at an average of 8:03 per mile and then a cool down mile-plus. I’m hoping I still have faster paces in me, as well as more distance at those paces. We’ll see as I continue to experiment.

Thursday was another 4 easy miles. After a rest day on Friday, I opted for a pair of longer runs for the weekend, with 7 on Saturday and 6 on Sunday. While training for the Dopey Challenge I made a habit of back-to-back long runs as Dopey includes a half and full on consecutive days. No, 7 and 6 mile runs aren’t really long, but I needed a good feel for how tired my legs would be after 10 days of running in two weeks. I think with just the running I would have been fine, but my legs did have some fatigue from 11 hours at Universal Studios on Friday. Maybe not the brightest idea, but your birthday only comes around once a year and that’s where I decided to spend it. Still having trouble comprehending the fact that 46 years have passed me by already, but I feel great.

The upcoming week will only include 4 days of running because I have a 10-mile race at the University of Central Florida on March 29th. I’m very much looking forward to this race. I ran the inaugural race last year and put up a time that still baffles me. I was shooting for 1:35 in my first 10-miler and hoping somehow to finish in 1:30 or under. Somehow I finished in 1:23:10 and it was only my second race over 10k. Honestly, since I’m just getting back into the swing of things, that time may stand as my PR for another year. If I feel good race morning, though, I’m going for it!

So the Storm the Campus 10-miler will be my long run for the week, and I’ll have two shorter easy runs as well. I will also be doing another tempo run, which I’m going to try to  stretch to 3.5, perhaps 4 miles. I’ve also returned to doing planks, push-ups, and squats to round out the training a little. Soon I’ll be adding in some weight training as well. Things are getting serious because I’ll be transitioning from training for a goal half (Echo Half) to training for a BQ time (Space Coast Marathon) in mid-June. I have a lot of improvements to make and there’s no sense in doing it half-assed.

#BQinTraining

Some Actual Training has Happened!

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It really seems like it has been forever since I have done any training. Literally, the past 4 months have been taper, race, recover, race. In some places there has not even been enough time between races to recover AND taper, and in one spot (Dopey Challenge) there was time for little more than a nap between races. Yes, this is something that I did to myself and was a brilliant example of “You don’t know what you don’t know”. I even cancelled two races in February because I could tell that running them was going to create some long-term problems. I just needed the rest.

Rest doesn’t include training, at least in the sense of running workouts that lead to improvements. I probably wouldn’t have had as big a problem if all of these races had been 5k or 10k in length. Could I be that smart? Have we met? This poorly done schedule included my first, second, and third marathons, 5 half marathons (plus the two that I cancelled), a 10-miler, and the 5k and 10k that were part of Dopey. Yes, there was a logical explanation for each and every one of the races that were on my schedule; each had a purpose. Suffice it to say that I severely overestimated my capabilities and underestimated the amount of recovery needed after some of these races. My calendar is much lighter in the next 12 months. I have learned something!

As I did not expect all of the additional recovery time, I also did not expect to lose so much of my speed and endurance while I was recovering. Running truly is a use it or lose it type of thing. I have not lost everything that I had, but I sure couldn’t compete with the times and distances that I was capable of just a few months ago. In addition to all of the recovering that I have been doing, I have also been working on strengthening both Achilles as I have had issues with them recently. It’s almost like my body wants me to accept the fact that I’m as old as I am rather than continuing on as old as I feel.

There’s the back story.

I’ve split my training plan into two parts, the first of which will get me to the Echo Half marathon in June. I’m calling the Echo Half “Goal race #1” for this training cycle. The second part of the training cycle will take me from Echo to Space Coast marathon in November AKA “Goal race #2”. The goal for Echo is sub-1:40 (current PR is 1:48:57) and the goal for Space Coast is 3:25, sometimes referred to as BQ time for us older guys.

Week one of my training was designed to do two things: To run five days in a week for the first time in months and to save the long run for the fifth day and see how I felt. The first three runs were Tuesday through Thursday, 4, 4.5, and 3 miles, all between 9:20 and 9:25. Definitely not going after speed or distance with those runs, just getting out and getting my sweat on! A comfortable pace and felt no ill effects as a result. So far, so good. Saturday I ran with Christin to help her complete the Pi Day 5k from Gametiime. We did a run/walk at her pace, finishing in 33:31. A half hour later we walked a 5k march for Autism Awareness so I had my longest cool down ever!

Sunday’s run was a much shorter “long run” than I’ve done in quite a while, but in my current state of training, still a long run. I ran a total of 8.5 miles with the first 4.5 done as 5×1200 at 9:28 with the help of my Moov training device. The final four miles were at about a 9:10 pace and I really felt strong at the end. And accomplished. I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m not at the same point in the training cycle as I was last November when I ran a 7:08 pace for a 5k. If I try to do too much too soon right now, nothing good is going to come from it. Patience is not my strong suit!

So week one is in the books. I accomplished what I set out to do and am ready for more. For week two I’ll be adding in a short tempo run and will shorten my long run a little. Total scheduled distance is 25.5 miles.

Two race weekend

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The string of (what seems like) a thousand races in a couple of months has finally come to an end. Last spring and summer I used an interesting form of logic to convince myself that there would be no issue with running a lot of races, mostly based on the fact that I was signed up for the Dopey Challenge and nothing was going to stop me from completing that challenge. And since I could do that, I could run pretty much whatever I wanted to, forgetting that I am human (and old) and might need some rest. So in three months, starting with my first full marathon, I was signed up for 3 marathons, 7 half marathons, a 10-miler, a 10k, and two 5k’s. Let me say it for you…. Moron! At least I was smart enough to cancel two of the half marathons in February knowing I needed a rest.

My first race as a Half Fanatic!

My first race as a Half Fanatic!

As I said this past weekend was the end of that streak with the Best Damn Race Orlando half marathon on Saturday and the Excalibur Run 10 miler on Sunday. I love the Best Damn Race series and was back for the Orlando version for the second time, having run the 5k and 10k challenge last year. Of the three BDR half marathons that I signed up for this year, Orlando was the most expensive at $10. Call me thrifty. We started our 13.1 mile trek at 7:15am and ran the first couple of miles on the brick streets of downtown, later going around a lake, and interrupting a lot of traffic. During the run I saw my first barefoot runner and pondered that concept for a while. Nope, couldn’t do that. Shortly after that I passed a blind runner and felt really bad for doing so for some reason.

Finisher medal. One down, one to go!

Finisher medal. One down, one to go!

I felt good and kept a steady 9:00 pace through about 8.5 miles. I wanted to stay around that pace in order to save my legs for a possible PR run the next day. Factor in reality: I hadn’t run more than 6 miles in the past 5 weeks due to marathon recovery and a couple of sore Achilles. Around 8.5 miles my quads started letting me know that I was a bit out of practice and subtly suggested that I might prefer to do some run/walking. The final 4.5 miles saw my pace drop to around 10:45/mile. I was frustrated but not surprised. The lots-of-races-and-no-training schedule since late November had caught up with me. I finished in 2:08:36, grabbed my medal, some food, a beer, and headed home to get ready for the next challenge.

Sunday morning I woke up in a motel room in Melbourne, Florida just a few miles from the site of the Excalibur Run 10-miler. This race featured a middle ages theme and entertainment from Medieval Times, a dinner show in Kissimmee.

Excalibur fight

Pre-race battle between knights

The pre-race show was great to watch, though the battle ended in a draw. Runners had chosen either blue or maroon for their bib stripe color to show their support for one of the knights. So now it was up to the runners to “charrrrrrrge” and win the battle for their knight. That was the cue to start the race. I was too busy taking pictures and videos that I didn’t have my app ready for the race.

Mile 4 selfie with Megan

Mile 4 selfie with Megan

Once I got organized I was off, this time around a 9:30 pace to start with. I could tell after the first mile that a PR was not even a possibility. My quads started in on me by mile 3 and I quickly realized that I had left my breakfast items in the hotel room and was running with no gels or snacks of any kind. Such a little detail – food. Might as well take it easy and enjoy the race. Just after mile 4 I caught up to Megan and we chatted for a few minutes while walking since we both needed a rest. From that point on we stayed together and did the run/walk thing for the rest of the ten miles. Pace was not a concern!

Excalibur finish

Excalibur finish line

My daughter was waiting for me at the finish line/castle. She just arrived back in Orlando the night before. I finished in 1:54:23, a solid 31 minutes off my PR time. I accepted my crown instead of a medal and headed straight for the food. The “round table” pizza was great but I had to pass on the dragon soup. I’m less than adventurous when it comes to eating I guess.

Excalibur Crown

Ever get a finisher crown?

After running 28 races last year and starting 2015 with Dopey, I think I surprised myself when I was excited to have some time to do some training with no races in the next couple of weeks. I don’t like going into a race knowing I am not prepared enough to give it my best effort. I do not regret any of the races that I ran, or any that I withdrew from. After all, that mess of races is what got me into Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs at the same time. However, I will not be cluttering my schedule again anytime soon. It’s time to focus on getting better, especially at the half and full distances.

Race Discount – Echo Half Marathon

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Better than two months of 2015 have passed already. Before you know it summer will be in full swing and (finally) nobody will be complaining about all the snow that they got. Here in Central Florida the snow isn’t an issue and we’ve been running all winter. So maybe you’re looking for one more really good race to end the spring running cycle. The Echo Half marathon is just what you need.

Echo Half

2014 Echo Half medal

A year ago I heard about this race and thought the same thing that you’re thinking right now… A half marathon in June in central Florida? Are you crazy? Honestly I just wanted a race on my calendar to work toward and September was too far away. I ran the Echo Half and was pleasantly surprised. The course was almost entirely run in the shade on a newly paved trail through the trees along the East Central Regional Rail Trail in Volusia County. Because of the extra shade and the smooth, relaxed environment I was able to put up a PR at this race as well. A 16-minute PR. That’s not meant to be a brag, but rather to give you the idea that the conditions were better than expected for the first weekend in June.

Running on the Volusia County trail system

Running on the Volusia County trail system

I have been chosen by Jennifer at Final Mile Race Management to act as an ambassador for this year’s race, a position that I nearly begged her for. Of the 28 races that I ran in 2014, I am only returning to 4 of them in 2015 and the Echo Half is one of them. Not only is the race one of the best that I’ve seen, but the proceeds from the event go back to the trail system in order to help maintain where we run. It’s a win-win! This year’s race will once again start in Osteen, FL and end in DeBary and there will be free shuttle buses to take you back to your car, after you eat #AllTheFood of course. The race is set for June 7 at 6:30am and there will also be a 5k race that will begin in DeBary at 7:15. If you’d like to learn more then you can visit the official race website here. As an extra incentive (plus a big thanks for reading all the way through this) you can take $10 off of every half marathon registration by using the code BILL10 before you checkout. I look forward to seeing you on June 7th!

2015 Echo Half medal preview

2015 Echo Half medal preview