Tuesday, December 13

White Rock 26.2 Race Report - When it's right, it's magic!

I’ll apologize in advance for the long post, but I want to have something I can go back to and read in ten years to remember how wonderful this experience was and this post covers much more than just the White Rock 26.2 race report.

As you can tell by previous posts, or if you are a friend, you know I have been pretty focused on Boston Qualification (BQ) for some time now (almost 3 years).  I started seriously training the spring of 2010 to run my first post-fatty marathon at White Rock last year.  That was a great experience and in hindsight was a pretty good race considering my fitness level there (I ran a 3:23 and hit the wall hard around mile 22).   That said, I failed to qualify there, at Big D, and at Chicago.  To make matters worse, the BQ qualification times dropped 5 minutes last year making my new time 3:15.  I was starting to believe it was just not in the cards.  However, all my running friends and coach Chris kept encouraging me to keep training hard and keep trying and my race would eventually come to me.
After Chicago, I came back with a vengeance and really started focusing on a lot of tempo and LT training.  Chris only had me doing a few Long runs going into WR.  I think I only had one 20 miler and a couple 16-18s.  What we agreed on is that my weakness was just hitting the wall and Chris changed the focus to LT training to push the wall out.  I was nervous about this because conventional wisdom says that my aerobic capacity was weak and typically you attack that with big miles and long runs.

Chris really threw some doozy workouts my way.  One day we did 2 wu, 1 @ 5k, 4 tempo, 1 @ 5k and 2 cd.  Another was 2 wu, 3 tempo, rest, 3 tempo, rest, 3 tempo, 2 cd.  Not only are these pretty long workouts, but it is a lot of quality and I really had to dig on some of them.

My friend Jayna had just run what I consider my perfect marathon.  She went out with steady 7:25s and then hammered a big negative split with a bunch of sub 7s to get her first sub 3:10.  When I asked her about it, she said that it was not even hard.  The last miles were strong and she felt fresh to the finish.  I just could not believe this was true or possible, but if it was, I WANTED IT REALLY BAD.

I ran the DRC ½ at a 1:29:37 in hot conditions about a month before White Rock as a fitness test.  This gave me a VDOT score for the marathon that showed that a 3:15 was definitely doable and in good conditions a 3:10 was possible.

I also did a 19:07 5K PR 10 days before White Rock at the turkey trot in College Station and got a 1st AG further boosting my confidence.

Lining up with the "elites' in College Station.

Also, to set things up even better, Edgar Martinez (THE HONEY BADGER) asked me if I wanted a pacer for White Rock.  I could not believe it.  Edgar knows me well and knows I don’t have much pace control.  At Chicago, I imploded at 22 because I had wild pacing all day.  Mile 16 was a 6:21 and my first 3 miles were sub 7s.  Edgar knew that I needed steady and conservative pacing the first 20 miles and then I would be set up to BQ.  When my friend Carolyn found out Edgar was pacing me, she decided to join the fun and target a 3:15 as well.  NOW THIS WAS GETTING SERIOUS!!!  It was fun training hard with Carolyn the month before the race.  I think we went form good acquaintances to brother/sister mode during this process.  That’s what happens when you run hundreds of miles with someone and hold their hair back when they puke.  (sorry Carolyn)

Anyhow, enough about training and backstory, let’s fast forward to White Rock Marathon 2011.  The week of the race was good. I had no injuries and over the week progressively felt more and more fresh.  On Saturday, we did a 4 mile shakeout and Nick and I did a ½ mile at mile 2 at 5K pace.  He says this is the Aussi carb loading and it opens up receptors to accept carbs all day.  We had pancakes after the run and then, taking Nick’s advice, I drank about 70% of my carbs that day.  Endurox, Accelleraid, Gatoraid were the “table steaks” and I finished off the day with a bowl of rice and tomatoes and the roof of the gingerbread house.

I woke up on Sunday feeling great, ate a cup of oatmeal and brown sugar, took a really good poop and was ready to roll.  My only concern was the weather.  It was 41 and raining.  The rain was shifting from drizzle to downpour and I was worried it would be a huge factor.  I changed clothes about 5 times trying to decide what to wear.  I settled on a short sleeve shirt with my windproof vest and put a throw away sweatshirt on top.  Edgar, Carolyn and I left from my house and Carolyn’s dad took us to the start.  Luckily, the rain stopped until after the start. The best thing about White Rock is that you can hang out inside before and after the race so you do not get too chilled.

 Edgar, Me, Scott, and Carolyn at the start in our Little Black Dresses

We lined up in Coral A-2 pretty much right behind the elites.  Scot Manis found us and ran the first 5 miles with us (he was doing a relay/full combo).  I also saw a nervous Jen Smith who was about to embark on her successful sub 3 attempt.  Most of the rest of my friends were in the elite start for the ½ including Shaheen, Chris, Steve H, and Natmer and all of them ran amazing races and were on TV!
The start was uneventful and off we went.  We were actually slow the first mile at 7:45 and I got nervous.  I did not want to run too fast, but did not like the idea of being 17 seconds in the hole after mile 1.  Then mile 2 through downtown and downhill flew by at 7:08 and I got more nervous about us overpacing and repeating Chicago!  Edgar’s calm demeanor reassured me and we then settled into a long series of 7:2X up the gentle grade to mile 9.  The rain really started pouring on Beverly.  Beverly is around mile 7 and is a big uphill.  The only point in the race I got worried was here.  Would it keep raining this hard?  Would I get so soaked that I went hypothermic?  Then the rain backed off and we were on the downhill stretch to the lake.

 Feeling good around mile 5.  You can tell it is starting to rain hard.

I was just in cruise control from here to mile 16.  I took a couple GUs, but nowhere near as many as I planned and was just barely drinking at the water stations because I knew I was not losing hardly any water to sweat.  In fact, around mile 13 my temperature really stabilized and I realized that the rainy cold weather was going to be a net benefit and I really had no excuse not to make BQ.  At a couple points, I started pulling away from Edgar and Carolyn and then thought better of it as it was too early to start pressing so we rolled into mile 16 together where I saw Sheri, loaded up on GU and did a big checkpoint.  I remember thinking – I feel great, no pain, no energy issues, and good friends by my side and looking ahead about 100 yards, I started to fixate on the 3:15 pace group.
Carolyn, Edgar and I on cruise control around mile 14

It was here that I decided I was going to start pressing and I almost imperceptibly picked up the pace.  Within about 10 minutes, I caught the 3:15 group near Stone Tables.  The leader was totally obnoxious, telling stories of his running glory (irony), and after a couple minutes of that I decided to press on.  Around mile 18, I started to take the governor off a bit to see where my body was and 7:1Xs were still coming easy.  I decided to just hang there and see how the Dolly Parton hills went, remembering last year how those hills just knocked me completely down.  I went by the Hooter’s station at 20 confident and still a bit conservative and then tackled the hills.  Those two miles going into Lakewood were 7:30s and my legs stayed fresh.  I run Lakewood all the time and know exactly where the apex point is on Lakewood drive.  From there it is all downhill to the finish and the second I got there, I completely took the reins off.  The next mile was a 6:54.  I could not believe it.  I was doing what I did not believe possible and it was easy.  I was not even pushing that hard.  Mostly I was just not holding back.  When I hit Swiss, I ran by a bunch of Sheri’s students yelling “Go Mr. Bordelon” that gave me even more drive and I was able to stay right at that sub 7 pace.  It felt absolutely amazing.  I know it sounds impossible, but mile 24 felt like I was at the end of a ½ marathon, not a full, and I was not even breathing hard.
Carolyn and Edgar around mile 19 on their way to a strong sub 3:15.  Still really wet!

I turned onto Haskel and could now see the mile 25 marker and more importantly Fair Park.  I looked at my watch, ran the math and realized I was going to crush my 3:15 goal.  I was overcome with emotion.  All of those 4 AM runs, the hard track workouts, the tempo till you puke, the 65+ mile weeks, the failed BQ attempts.  It all hit me and I was literally crying like a baby as I was flying at a sub 7 pace down Haskel toward impending glory!

As I turned that final corner into the finish lane, all my running friends were there screaming my name.  I have never felt so amazing in my life as I crossed the line at 3:12:19.  Most of those guys saw me go down hard at the Big D finish and on this day saw me roll in at a sub 6 pace pumping my arm and yelling.  Honestly, if I died right now, that is how I want to be remembered – It was pure joy!
I rolled through the finish still pumping my fist as you can see in the photo.  This photo does a pretty good job capturing how I felt and so I did what I said I would never do and paid the outrageous fee for the pictures.


I am writing this two weeks out from the race and have had time to reflect on what it means.  Of course I am proud of finally BQing.  I am also proud of running such a smart and strong race (with a little help from friends).  But you know what?  The best part of all of it has been the journey.  I ran 2200 miles this year.  Most of that was with great friends.  We have all had successes and failures and we have done it together.  

I loved training for El Scorcho with DRP on hot summer nights and my intro to trail runs with Nick at Grapevine, and hauling ass with Edgar at track and chasing Jen down Katy trail and running hills with Dalton and getting up at 3:45 to go easy with Shaheen and Mark and running all the way to oak cliff with Caty and Dave and taking off too fast on long runs with NatMer and watching in awe as Steve H sets PR after PR and getting amazing advice from Dan and seeing Steve P set the standard for pain threshold and running through the hood with Carolyn and going to Chicago with Craig and Tami and my first sub 8 loop of the lake with Scott S and running my first post-fatty ½ with Pedro and seeing Dawn go pro and getting awesome upgrades from Andrew and  watching Elizabeth come back to finish her first full and watching  Kevin, Scott, Ken and Cliff build to the ½ and seeing Blake win AG in the ½ and Bob and Carolyn’s marathon wedding and seeing Jayna finally run her perfect race and eating banana pancakes with Manis and slipping on ice in February and Joe’s perfect pacing and talking with Chris Strait on the front porch on Sundays about the plans for the week and race strategy.

I almost feel like this race was a bit poetic for me.  We are turning the page now as we are moving to Houston and I am going to be jumping into the next chapter with family, work, friends, and fitness.  I hope I can find a circle of running friends in Houston like my running family in Dallas.  I am going to focus on shorter races in 2012 and see how fast I can get under the continued training from Chris Strait.  Who knows, a 1:26 ½ Marathon may be possible.  In September, I will be sitting nervously at my PC hoping beyond hope that my White Rock time is fast enough to make the Boston cutoff.  Then the Boston training starts.  With the right coaching, support, focus and weather, I am hoping Boston will be as magical as White Rock was this year.

Garmin Data:

Monday, October 10

Mile 20, Why you no love me? - Chicago Marathon 2011

Although I knew it would be hot, I went out yesterday mentally ready to BQ.  I needed a 3:14:59.  My race strategy was to be on MP at mile 20 and then figure out what to do from there.

The start was warm at 64 degrees, but was pretty uneventful.  I am amazed how well this thing is organized and getting 44,000 runners out there without a hitch is a miracle.

I was in B coral and everyone around me was doing my pace so I was not having to weave or pass.  The Garmin went crazy for the first 3 miles due to the underpasses and buildings so I just checked pace off the official time and I was just slightly fast.  After mile 3, I basically bounced around from 7:00 to 7:30.  I don't have good pace control, and was largely just running off feel.  Up until mile 20 I felt great.  This was by far the fastest I have run the first 20 in a marathon and it was really cool to be able to keep the hammer down like that.

I did 5 GUs up to 20 and alternated water and Gatoraid.  Every station I dumped a little water on my hat to cool off.  I definitely think wearing the hat and shirt and keeping them wet helped with temperature control and sweat rates.

The think about Chicago is it very homogenous - Flat with tons of spectators the whole way.  So, I don't really remember many landmarks and there were no tough spots - UNTIL 20.

As I rolled through Chinatown, I did a pace check and saw that I still had a bout 1 minute in the bank at mile 20.  I also realized I was starting to get hot and dizzy and my breathing was getting elevated.  I deliberately backed off a bit and used a little of my bank to see if I could get things back under control and decided to wait another mile to commit or not.  I rolled into 21 and was feeling worse.  My legs felt strong and loose, but my head and heart were giving all the wrong signals.  I've been here before.  I know that this is dangerous and I definitely have the ability to outrun my hydration and aerobic capacity (hence the hospital visit at Big D).

I decided to walk through the water station somewhere along mile 21.  This definitely helped and I jumped back in for a minute, just to realized that this is not going away.  It was here that I realized today was not my day and I needed to back off to Plan B - PR.  This was a huge mental relief  to know I had 7 minutes to burn over the next 5 or so miles.  I thought there was no way I would use it all up, BUT...

The sun kept beating down and the temperatures kept rising and I kept getting dizzier with spotty vision. All I could think about was how mad Sheri would be if I went to the hospital again and so I walked the remaining stations, dumped lots of water on my head and just went into cruise control.  While I was running, I was still doing an 8:00 pace, but the walk breaks took me down to 9 min.  At 26, I started to pick it back up until that stupid hill just before the end.  Shaheen warned me about this thing.  It is probably just a 40 ft climb over 50yds or so, but my legs cramped half way up it and I was forced to walk to the top.  Then I was able to start running again and finished the last 200 yds at a brisk pace to a 23 second PR.

I would like to blame it all on the weather and I know that played a role in it yesterday.  Everyone at the finish was talking about the 15 minute heat.  I would probably call it 5 minute heat.  If I am honest with myself, I went out a bit too fast.  I should have been averaging 7:25s, not 7:20s.  Would a slower first 20 and 20 degrees cooler gotten me a BQ yesterday?  Who knows.

What I do know is I am a big sweater and loose a ton of water and salt in a hot marathon.  I really need to do a cold one.  I mean mid 30s cold, where I am not sweating at all.  I need to start looking for a spring fast and cold race.

As for training, I probably need to push myself out on some longer runs.  My longest this cycle was 22 and I usually still feel good at that point.  I need to train past the marathon distance and get my body more comfortable with the final miles.

Here's the Garmin Data:

Sunday, September 25

Getting Ready For Chicago

I have not posted in a long time.  Since Big D Marathon, I have not been racing, but I have been training like crazy.  This summer I averaged over 50 miles per week and the last month I have been hitting mid 60s.  The only "race" I did this summer was the all night El Scorcho 50K.  That was more of showing myself I could do an ultra than racing.

I decided to get a coach to help me train for Chicago.  Several of my friends use Chris Strait and I have looked up to him for his positive spirit and amazing running capabilities since I met him last year.  Over the last 2 months, I have been following his training plan to a T.  This plan was very different from what I had been doing in the past.  The three biggest changes are:
  1. Much more tempo at 1/2 marathon pace
  2. Much much more track and interval work at a wide variety of paces
  3. Much much much more rest before and after long runs
I just had a 15 miler today with 8 at marathon pace (MP) and felt great.  Nothing hurt and the last 4 miles I was able to easily hold 17 seconds faster than MP hitting consistent 7:08s.  This is following a new 20K PR race at TDF11 last weekend where I ran a 27:00.

I am starting my taper this week and feel great.  No aches or pains.  Lots of energy.  Huge confidence.  There are no hard or long runs left.  As Chris says, I just gotta keep the engine running now.

So, I don't know what will happen as I sprint/run/walk/hobble into Grant Park in 2 weeks, but I feel like I could not have possibly trained smarter and feel like the only variable that could keep me from making my 3:15 BQ is weather or illness.

Tuesday, May 24

Letter from Grant (10) to Older Borther Blake (13)

Grant Bordelon

                                                                                Blake---My Brother, My Friend

                Persistent.   Leader.  Honest. Loving.  Loyal.  These are just a few words to describe Blake Bordelon.  Blake is a phenomenal human being.  He is my brother.  He has lived with me my entire life.  When I think of Blake, I think of a hero because he has always been there for me, and he seems to always do the right thing.  The first time I rode a roller coaster, I was with Blake.  Even though I was not sure, he made me feel safe and gave me the “it’s all going to be okay” look.  The first time I went on a camp out, Blake was with me.  He showed me the ropes.  He showed me how to pitch a tent and how to make a fire.  As early as I can remember, Blake has always been there for me.  He constantly shows his love and compassion for others.  When I am down, Blake is always there to lift me up. He makes me feel so loved and makes me believe that I can do anything I choose.  Blake takes such good care of my brother and me.  We both look up to him and trust him so much.
                Blake is one of the most generous, giving people I have ever known.  He will share all of his things with anyone who wants to use them.  He will put others in front of his own needs.  He has shown me how important it is to respect others, serve others, and to be a leader.  Blake is also a great role model for me.  He lives his life with integrity and is one of the hardest working people I know. Blake never just sits back, but he always takes on a leadership role. He has been the Student Council president, the N.J.H.S. president, and a Boy Scout—almost an Eagle. He also spends many hours helping friends with projects and is always there for his friends.
                The more time I have spent with Blake, the deeper and deeper our relationship has grown—for we are brothers, and brothers are forever.  I know when most people think of brothers, they think of fighting and hatred, but that does not define my relationship with Blake.  There is a special bond…. A special friendship.  There is love, brotherly love.  I know I can and will always be able to count on Blake.  I thank God for my brother, my friend, Blake.  

Monday, April 11

2011 Big D 26.2 Race Report

Before I get too wrapped up, I would like to throw this out there.  My running team - Dallas Running Project has a saying they use all the time before races.  I used to hear them saying it and I would think - "nice title for a motivational poster."  I can now say I not only understand it, I feel I have earned the right to use it...


Now to the report...
I am not sure where to start here.  I guess I will start at the beginning.

I decided to run this one as a last ditch effort to BQ before the qualifying times drop 5 minutes.  I figured it would still be cool enough as it was still early April.  Big D is a bit notorious for being a slower, tough course.  It is really hilly and wind on the lake can be challenging.  The upside is it is a week before Boston and I was able to sync up training with all my Boston training buddies.

A month before the race, Nick Polito told me he would pace me.  This is a big deal because there are no pace groups in this marathon.

For those that don't know Nick, this organism is not human.  He consistently runs 80-90 miles a week and recently ran a 3 hour at a hot Houston Marathon.  Nick has been a huge mentor and friend for me.  Also, as race week approached, I was thrilled to find out that most of my running friends and family planned to cheer me on around the course.  I estimate over 20 people were cheering for me.  AMAZING!!!!

I feel like I had a great two week taper and was well fueled and completely injury free and fresh at the start.

PHASE I - Mile 1-10
The start was a nice change up from the big mega-marathons where you have waves and corrals.  Basically we just lined up and started.  I was across the start in 8 seconds.

The first few miles ticked off nicely.  I had a new ipod thumpin and ran into a guy I know that was running the 1/2 so we chatted a bit.  There were two big hills on the way to the lake and I was thinking I needed to slow down, but was just feeling really good.  By the 3rd mile, my splits were 7:20 and I was starting to sweat.

I saw My dad and Grant and Jayce working the water stop at Garland Road at mile 4.  That was cool to see Jayce passing out water.  My ipod totally died from sweat shorting it out here so I had to go on "thump free."

Mile 4-6 was super easy at 7:20s with the wind at my back headed north up the east side of White Rock.  I connected with Nick at mile 6 and was glad because I knew I was running too fast and had almost no pace control.  Nick and I chatted a bit and we settled into a 7:30 pace.

At mile 8 I saw Sheri, Mom, my sister Rebecca, and most of my DRP friends.  I think I took my third GU here.  Edgar jumped in and ran a couple miles with us.  Edgar has amazing form and he talked me through the 1/3 mile climb from the lake up to Peavy.

From when I saw Nick to Mile 10, Nick was reeling me in with "Take it easy cowboy" encouragement.

At the end of mile 10 we were still at a 7:20 avg pace and I had 3 minutes in the bank.

I mentally see this point as phase 1 complete.

PHASE 2 - Mile 10-16
Phase 2 is through the hilly neighborhoods to the east of White Rock.

We headed down Peavy which is downhill and really picked up the pace.  I think this was a 7:10.  The next five miles are a long series of gradual ups and downs.  1.5 mile climb up Creekmere.  1 mile down Sinclare.  1 mile up Lippit.  1 mile down Fernald.  Then one last nasty climb up Country Club.  These hills are taxing and we probably went too fast through them.   Nick says we passed about 10 people in this second phase.

We were taking it easy on the uphills and picking it up downhill.  We actually had a 7:00 mile somewhere in there.

It was cool seeing Steve P and Steve H all over the place back in these neighborhoods.

I was feeling great coming down Van Dyke and getting back to the lake at Peavy/Mockingbird.  It seemed like everyone was there cheering.  There is a steep downhill on Buckner and it is nice to clear the legs out a bit at mile 16.

At this point, It had all been fun and games.  I was still feeling strong, but starting to get a little tired.

PHASE 3 - Mile 17-Finish
I knew the wind was going to be a factor when we headed south on the west side of White Rock.  That was a huge understatement.  It was blowing "stink" out there.  My guess is 25+ mph.  It felt harder than hill climbs.  Nick was so cool trying to let me draft him, but I am twice his width and it was only marginally effective.  This went on forever.  Fortunately, we were able to hold 7:40s through here and I remember telling Nick " I have never been happy to get off White Rock before" as we turned onto Tokalon.

This part was easier than I expected.  Going up Tokalon is much more gradual than Lakewood.  It is still hilly but not bad.  Cliff Welch was biking and taking pics.  I got a chuckle because it seemed like he kept catching us at the end of an uphill when we were slowest.

As we crossed Abrams and headed over to Swiss I saw all the DRP guys again.  It seemed like they were everywhere.  Shaheen and Steve gave me bottles and I just dumped them on my head to cool off.

At this point, I was starting to get hot and really tired.  My calves were threatening cramping a bit, so I slowed it down.  Our pace dropped to 7:50s and 8s on Swiss and Haskell, but I still had 3ish minutes in the bank and felt confident that I had the BQ sewn up.  As we approached Fair Park, I saw the gang again and was starting to get a little hazy, but this was mile 24 and you are supposed to be hurting at this point.  I remember my breathing coming up a bit and I was grunting a little.

The finish is tough because you have to run all the way around to the back side of the park.  I was really slipping from mile 25-26.  According to Nick's splits, that mile was an 8:30.  I was starting to get really light headed and just remember locking on to Nick and don't remember anything on the periphery.

Then we turned the last corner and I heard a woman's voice right on my side tell me I had a 1/4 mile to go.  It sounded like Dalton and I thought it was her until she cracked and inside joke about me popping her on the tush and I realized it was Tami Darlington.

PHASE 4 - Last 200 Meters
Then all of a sudden everything stopped.  I mean EVERYTHING.  I don't remember anything from here to the finish.  The anecdotes I have gathered go like this:
1.  I collapsed at 200 out.
2.  Nick and Tami help me up.
3.  I start moving again with a wobbly shuffle and almost fall again.
4.  Nick and Tami support me to the finish line at a walking pace.
5.  I cross the finish and puke on my sister.

PHASE 5 - Recovery

Within a minute, I was rushed to the EMT tent and they went into serious action.  I don't remember the details, but I know I threw up more and my calves totally cramped and they gave me salt (which is the last thing you want  when you are that thirsty).

I think I got the first IV while still in the tent and next thing I know, I am in the Ambulance, in the Baylor ER and getting a lot of attention.  Every Vital was out of whack.  Temp was 102, BP was 70/33, HR was 150+ and I was still sweating like crazy.

After 14 bags of IV fluid, I felt normal again.  The doctor decided to admit me for the night to make sure my kidneys restarted OK. 

This whole incident really freaked Sheri out and she has been by my side the whole time.  Poor thing had to sleep on one of those crappy hospital bed/chairs.

I am typing this on Monday after the race and I am feeling fine.  Nothing is hurting and I am not really that sore.  In fact I got up and stretched for 30 minutes this morning.

I was really surprised to learn that I got 13th overall and 3rd in my age group even after completely falling apart.  Also, I got a PR at 3:23:30.  The bad news is I missed BQ again.

The crazy thing is my GPS says I was at 3:18 at 26.2mi.  It looks like the finish was at 26.47mi at 23:30.  So it took me 5:30 to go .27 miles.  CRAZY!

As it turns out, it was just a really hot day and everyone was slower.  Over 1/2 the field of 700 ran in over
5 hours.  I cannot imagine running in those conditions for 5 hours.

I learned that on hot days you cannot set audacious goals.  You have to have a plan B and be willing to back off and live to fight another day.  Nick has been trying to tell me this, but I did not want to hear it.  This race was not just hot (over 80 degrees at finish) but hilly, windy and humid.

I am definitely wiser now.  It is hard to think about running another 26.2 right now, but that always wears off with time.

Cross Post to Martina's Post on The Race

 I want to thank so many people for cheering me on yesterday and especially Nick the "Pace Master".
-Steve P
-Steve H
-Elizabeth & Todd
-Matt T

Special thanks to Cliff Welch for the amazing pictures at the finish.  I will look back at those before every future race to do a sanity check.

Plus all the well wishers at work and FB and email.

Sunday, March 27

Rock n Roll 1/2 Race Report

I went into this one with 2 goals:
  • PR - Accomplished
  • Sub 1:30 - Accomplished

I had an important third goal.  I started the race injury free and needed to stay that way for the marathon BQ attempt in 2 weeks.

I can pretty  much say that this was the best race of my life.  Not only do I feel like I crushed it, I felt absolutely fantastic the whole way and was giddy after about mile 8 when I hit the downhill run to the finish because I knew then that I "had it in the bag."

Here is me at Mile 11 having a ball:

The weather was absolutely perfect.  50 degrees and overcast.  Tech shirt was perfect.  Very cold at finish though.

We did a 1.5 mile warm-up with strides before the race.

I started with Dalton and we sent out pretty strong.  The first real hills start about mile 2.5 and I felt great and decided to keep the sub 7 pace until I got cardio constrained or some kind of muscle issue cropped up.  Neither happened.  I made it to Mockingbird at around a 6:55 avg pace and was not breathing hard.

Nick, Sunny, Josh and Shaheen's sister were cheering everyone on and I saw them 4 times.  I also saw Jen, Dan Tracy, Sheri and Blake and Matt and Ken.  All the cheering makes a huge difference in attitude.

The last 6 miles were a breeze in the 6:30s.  I barely felt winded and my form stayed clean.

I really picked it up rolling into fair park and was seriously in the 5s for the last 800-900 meters.

Dalton and I ran 1.5 miles after the race to loosen back up.  I felt loose and energetic all afternoon.

This was a nutrition test for the marathon - Oatmeal before and GU during.  Perfect.  I only did 1/2 cup oatmeal and one GU though.  Also, I hauled ass through the water stops using the squeeze technique.

I was pumped to see Scott Rosa run a beautiful 2:07 first 1/2 and just be ecstatic about his future in running.

Although the splits look even, the energy expenditure was much higher in the first half due to the uphill.  I really like this course, because when you hit that downhill, you know it is easy sailing to the finish...

I finished 12th in age group, 116 overall out of about 11,000 runners and 99th out of the men.

1  6:59
14 1:37

Sunday, March 13

Close Call?

I went out for our weekly Wednesday hill run last week.  We have started doing a 12 mile double loop which adds more hills and basically eliminates the warm up and cood down.  On the second loop, I really put the hammer down and was having a big time surging up the ascents with Steve Phiffner (one of the fastest guys I know).  On the last surge up Flagpole Hill, I was really going for it and at the top of the hill, my calf tweaked.  I stopped immediately and did not try to run any further. 

I have not felt this calf pain since last year.  I lived with it most of the year last year and I hate it because although I can run through it, it puts a governer on my speed and I generally cannot go faster than a 7 min pace.

This sucks because I have been healthy since the new year and I was trying hard to keep it that way.  I took Thursday off and ran a really slow 9 mile loop on Friday.  It did not hurt too bad on Friday, but I took Saturday off as well and did Chest and Back.

Today I took it out for a real test drive.  I started at 5AM and went almost 22 miles.  About 10 of those were sub 8s and 6 were sub 7:30s.  My calf was sore (read dull pain), but not tweaky.  I was listening really closely and never let it get close.

Chris Strait gave me a pair of compression socks and I have been wearing them all day and I can tell a huge difference in recovery.

When something like this happens, you have three choices:
1.  Be stupid and keep running too hard and get really injured.  I did that last year.
2.  Stop running and let it rest, but risk loosing some fitness.  This is a bad idea 4 weeks out from the Marathon.
3.  Keep running, but stretch like crazy (yoga), eat lots of protien, and listen very closely and keep the speed well within the safety zone.

I am trying #3 and so far so good.  We will see how things play out with hills, and a little more speed work this week.

Monday, February 28

Big D Marathon - Next BQ Attempt due to Qualifier Rule Changes

The new Boston Qualification rules totally messed up my marathon plans this year.  I signed up for Chicago for my next BQ attempt.  But now, with the new rules, that race will fall into the 2013 qualification cycle and I will need to run a 3:15 to qualify there.  If I run a marathon before september, I need a 3:20 to qualify.

SO....  I needed a new race.  Anything past early April was probably going to be too late to to higher temperatures.  Also, I am watching my fitness expenses and connot afford to fly to two marathons this year.

The decision came down to either Oklahoma city on May 1 or Dig D on April 10.  If I did OKC, I would not be able to do Centennial 1/2 and it will probably be hot.

SO...  Big D it is. 

The Pros:
  1. The race is close enough that I can really focus on it
  2. RnR 1/2 will be a great sharpening race two weeks before
  3. I know the area and the course well
  4. I do not have to travel
  5. It is a smaller race so I will not be fighting crowds too much
The Cons:
  1. I have been working on middle distance and speed lately and have only a few weeks to dial in longer distance
  2. The weather could still be hot
  3. The course is hilly and I will still have to battle the "Dolly Partons" at the end
 Regardless, I am now committed and here is my plan for the next 6 weeks:

  • Sundays run 20ish
  • Recovery loop on Tuesdays instead of track. 
  • Slower on hills on Wed (8:15 pace). 
  • Hard on Tempo on Thursday. 
  • Target weekly mileage at 50 miles.
  • Three Day Taper (take off Tempo)
  • Race RnR 1/2 hard on the 27th.
Train med-hard week after RnR - Target 35 Miles

Taper week of 4th - Target 13 Miles (not including Marathon)

The only thing I need to overcome (other than staying injury free) is this light headedness I get at mile 19-20.  It hit me hard yesterday.  I know I underfueled yesterday.  I want to do some experimenting next week.  I am going to try oatmeal and raisins before the run and then alternate between GU and bananas every 3 miles. 

Sunday, February 13


A few of my running buddies talk about hardening every now and then.  Usually it is in the context of trying to get folks to show up for sub 20degree or rainy runs.  For a long time, I have to admit that I did not really understand this whole thing and chalked it up to machismo.  Shoot, just going out and running in good conditions felt pretty tough to me. 

Lately, deliberately developing mental hardness is starting to make sense. 

This winter, we have had a long series of really cold runs.  Until today, I don't think I have run in above freezing temps in several weeks and some of those runs have been in the teens.  Also, on longer runs, I am not taking water breaks like I used to.  In fact, the last two 13 + mile runs have been waterless.  Not a drop.  If you told me I would run a 1/2 marathon without water a year ago, I would have told you that was just stupid.

The last hardening factor is sustained speed on long runs.  The last three or four DRP long runs have been some of the strongest of my life.  On Sunday DRP long runs, I get that race feeling - 1/2 dread - 1/2 excitement.  I know I am going to push myself and hurt a little, but will also grab another gear.  Doing this repetitively for many weeks has made a huge physical difference, but more importantly, I feel like it is giving me a mental edge.

So, where is all this going?  I hypothesize that this mental toughness will pay off in a big way in races.  Last year, I think I would mentally sych myself out way too easily and back off if I was fatigued, thirsty, cold or discouraged.

Right now, I feel like I have a new mental fortitude that I really want to test in a race.  At the Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon, I am going to really go for it and try to run a sub 1:30.  That is just a number, but to get there is going to take some real mental focus and will require me to push through the "hurdles" that held me back last year.  I am really looking forward to mile 11 and being on pace target and getting a chance to throw down two last 6:45s and just crush my goal.

If it happens, it will not be about the physical shape I am in, it will be all about mental hardness.

Friday, February 4

Chris M is as great a presenter as writer...

I almost forgot about Insanity

Sheri and I did Insanity Max Cardio Circuit today.  It kicked both of our butts.  I think it is good to sub this out for a run because it works some of the lateral muscles and stabilizers that pure running doesn't.

Tuesday, February 1

Chicago Marathon

Just registered for the 2011 Chicago Marathon!  October 9, 2011 is going to be a day to remember.  1500ish miles from now I hope to be prepared for a solid Boston Qualification.

Monday, January 31

Slow Carb Diet

I hit 200 lbs about a year ago and have not been able to get any leaner.  I would like to get in the 8% BF range and hold it for running efficiency and because it looks really good.  They say every pound you take off is a minute off your marathon.  I figure I have about 10 lbs I can drop and that should get me near 3:10.  So.  I am back on a lean, protien centric diet.  I have been looking for something simple that I could experiment with and last week I tripped on the new "Four Hour Body" book.  Tim has developed a very simple "slow carb" diet that is basically just protiens, veggies and beans six days a week and then a full on Bacchus level cheat day.

Sheri is doing it too.  I will check in in two weeks and see if it has unlocked my frustrating plateau.

Friday, January 28

Day: 26, Calories: 1620, P90X Shoulders & Arms

Log EntryDaily Note:
Kinda taking a week off running. Seeing vessels in arms again. Must be back around 10%

Nutrition1620 Calories
2 X 6 egg whites | 200 cals
2 X 2 slices turkey bacon | 200 cals
Pizza 700
1 X 8 oz. non fat plain yogurt | 120 cals
1 X 1 medium apple | 100 cals
1 X 1 oz. nuts | 200 cals
1 X 1 medium apple | 100 cals

WorkoutP90X Shoulders & Arms
Status: Completed
Worked out with Skip. He puked. Oh yea!!!!

WorkoutP90X Ab Ripper
Status: Completed

Wednesday, January 26

The Dare

I want to throw down a little smack tonight. I am going to dare you to do some things. If you just take on two to three of these as a challenge your life will be better for it.

I Dare You To:
1. Go to bed without watching TV and try to be asleep by 10 pm.
2. Get up by 5 am and finish your workout by 6:30
3. Make breakfast the biggest meal of your day
4. Ruthlessly seek out protien and treat white carbs like poison
5. Try a new workout variant every week - yoga variant, focused resistance, running model (speed, distance, hills), core, skiing, p90X, Crossfit, whatever
6. Challenge a buddy - make a bet on weight loss or race time or some other common goal and hold them accountable.
7. Find a running group and make them your pre dawn family a couple times a week.
8. Enter a race and plan to run a PR at least two times this year.
9. Test conventional wisdom. Will running make you skinny? Is fat bad? is it all about calories?
10. Force yourself to take a rest day once a week.
11. Pig out once a week ( not on the rest day ).
12. Write down everything you eat ( except on pig out day ).
13. Start a fitness blog and tell everyone about it.
14. Don't let bad days derail you for more than 5 minutes - ever
15. Figure out the big thing that is driving your fitness plans and write it somewhere you will see every day.
16. Make it a habit to spend your first waking minute in bed convincing your self that this will likely be the best day of your life. Assume that nothing will get in your way to having a phenomenal day.
17. Stop hanging out with negative people. Find positive people and use and feed them.
18. Say something encouraging and nice to someone every day (even if you do not like them)
19. Make it your mission to learn something meaningful every day. Ask dumb questions. Read. Read more.
20. Figure out your SO's love language and talk to her in that language at least once a day. The 5 love languages are - touch, quality time, gifts, service and encouraging words
21. Stop watching TV. There's nothing but little people making chocolate and hoarding 19 kids at Sarah Palin's Alaska anyhow.
22. Cook something. Try to make it yummy.
23. Patiently Learn a new hard skill like guitar, programming, woodworking, sailing, public speaking, knitting, painting, etc...

That's a good starting list. I will add more as I think of them.

Thursday, January 20

Lactate Threshold Analysis from Craig Walker - A Lot To Digest

Here is my run data from this morning:

Here is Craig's Analysis:


To calculate LT, we use the pace from the entire 30 minutes and your average HR for the last 20 minutes. The reason for this is it sometimes takes a few minutes for your HR to climb up to the threshold, so we allow a 10 min buffer where your HR may be lower. We want the higher (generally) number that you get from the final 20 minutes. I say that's generally higher because there are times where the first 10 min will have a higher HR than the next 20. I'm a good example of that. When I did this test, my 10 min HR was 180, but the 20 min rate was 179. That's close, but still lower. Interestingly, my 20 min pace was 15 seconds faster than the 10 min pace, even though my HR was lower.

Anyway, for you, let's use an LT HR of 165 and pace of 6:42. Because you were so consistent today, we have pretty good number for pace. HR might really be 164, but we'll do 165 for now. It's close enough that it won't make too much of a difference.

When you look at the spreadsheet, sometimes you have to adjust the math a little where the zones overlap. I've done that for you here. You'll sometimes get the same number for the high of one zone and low of another. Or sometimes there are two beats between zones. I just round up the high and make the low of the next zone one more beat than the previous zone's high. Here's what we have for you.

Zones – LT HR 165


Paces — LT Pace 6:42



So what's this mean?
It means when you are doing zone training, you want to keep your HR average for each mile within the range for the targeted zone. At the start of a training season (like right now), you spend about 6-8 weeks doing base building. 90% of all your runs during this time should be done in zone 1. So for you, you'll want to keep your HR at 140 or below mile after mile. The "pace" chart is a little more nebulous. It's really a guideline, rather than a rule. What the pace chart mean is, in general, when you are in zone 1, you'll be running 8:38 or slower. Zone 2, you'll run between 7:38-8:34. As you know, there are A LOT of variables that determine your pace for a particular day. With perfect weather and being well rested, you may find you are running 8:15 or faster and still have your HR below 140. That's perfectly OK. HR is the driver; pace is just a predicted range. Always run your HR, regardless what pace that works out to be. Many times it will be faster than what the chart predicts. If you are tired, sick, hot, etc, you may find yourself struggling to hold a 9:00 pace while keeping your HR at 140. That's OK too. Just run HR; it NEVER lies.

So why do you care?
You've probably read and heard a lot about VO2max. This is maximum volume of oxygen the body can deliver to working muscles per minute. It's a great measure of how "efficient" your body is working. Many people mistake VO2max as the holy grail measure of how fit you are. But although VO2max IS a clear measure of fitness, it's a poor measure of performance. By itself, knowing your VO2max will do little to help you in your training. If you line up a bunch of elite athletes and only have their VO2max number as a data point, it would be impossible to predict the winner.

This is where the LT comes into the picture. Lactate threshold is defined as the intensity of exercise at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood at a faster rate than it can be removed. This is problematic because as a result, unbuffered acid is added to the blood, a condition that makes you feel like you have to vomit and stop right away. With knowledge of your LT, you can fairly accurately predict your finish time for any given race because you know exactly what your body is capable of sustaining before your heart and brain shut you down. With the information you gave me today, I can predict if you were to run Too Cold this weekend, the perfect race for you would be to target 156 HR putting you at about a 7:05 pace. You'd finish in 1:06. Of course, there are factors that could skew that a little, but it would really close.

That's all well and good, but our goal is more than understanding where we are; we want to get faster. Well you know one key piece to that puzzle. MILES ARE KING! If you run more miles, you WILL get faster. But here's the thing… When you start running 50, 60… 80 miles a week, you are putting A LOT of stress on your body. And in order to get the most benefit from your next workout, you need to be fully recovered from the last. Your HR is your barometer. If you are not fully recovered, your HR will be elevated. Slow down and stay in your zones so you don't do more damage. Once you start training in an unrecovered state, a snowball effect takes over and you are essentially logging junk miles.


That last sentence is something people rarely understand. People think if they kill it on a training run they'll get stronger. But the truth is training runs make you weaker by destroying muscle fibers. Your strength comes from these fibers rebuilding themselves shorter and stronger than they were before. If this process is not complete when you go out and do another hard run, you just wasted the benefit of the earlier session. Much like with children where growth occurs at night when they are asleep, runners get stronger and faster when resting and recovering.

Build a better engine.
So we know we want to run more miles, and we know we want to be recovered between sessions. What else can we do to get faster? Well, just like your internet connection will be faster if you increase your bandwidth pipe, you will run faster, if you can increase the blood flow to your muscles. There are three ways to do this. The first is obvious. Run faster. When you do, your HR increases and blood is pumped faster. The problem with this is we want our HR lower, not faster, because the faster your HR is, the quicker you are to tire. So how can we deliver more blood to our muscles without increasing our HR. The answer is we increase the size of our heart and increase the stroke volume of blood pumped through it. These two items combined are what give that elite athlete the ability to go on an "easy" 7:00 run with you and keep their HR down in zone 1 (for them), while you are struggling to keep up because you are in zone 4.

The irony here is the only way to increase the size of your heart so you can run faster is to run slower. Weird, huh? But it's true. When you run in zone 2 or above, your heart is working in a capacity to keep up with demand. When you run in zone 1, though, your heart has some extra time on its hands. If you could hear your heart thinking, it might sound like "Huh, this guy keeps running and asking me to deliver more blood. I'm really built for walking, and I think he might do this running thing again. I think I'll do some upgrades." So your heart starts expanding and increasing its capacity to deliver blood more efficiently. This is also one of the reasons your resting HR plummets as you get more fit. As stroke volume increases, you simply don't need as many pumps to get what you need. That's all really good stuff, but the only way to do it is to run in zone 1.

So… Use your zones. Every run should have a purpose. The bulk of your early season miles should be base building, heart expanding, stroke volume increasing zone 1 miles. Each week, you might sprinkle in one tempo zone 2 (or really low zone 3) workout, but everything else should be zone 1. Then when you are about eight weeks from your race, you start running a little more in zones 2 and 3. Marathon pace is in zone 3 for most people. If you look at the chart, you'll see the predicted paces for your zone 3. You goal marathon pace is at the slower end of zone 3. That's great! It means you are more likely to actually achieve your goal. When you start that tuning phase eight weeks out, you will add longer stretches of zone 2 and 3 to your long run. You still have that tempo each week, and everything else… Still zone 1. Finally, about four or five weeks out, you start sharpening (speed work). This is when you get serious on the track and push into zones 4 and 5. These workouts are short in duration because you are really tearing up your body and still have that requirement of being fully recovered before the next workout. Luckily, if you back off your zone 1 max 5-10 bpm, you can benefit from Active Recovery, meaning you are running and recovering at the same time. You get the best of both worlds if you are disciplined enough to slow down and do it.

I know all of this is a lot to digest. It's hard to slow down. And it's counter-intuitive to think you can get faster while running slower. Elite athletes will tell you, though, that 99% of people run their easy runs to fast and their fast runs to slow. There is a time for running fast; it's in the sharpening phase. But you CAN NOT build capacity/endurance and speed at the same time. Speed is easy to get. That's why the phase is so short and close to your goal race. The rest of your training should be focused on upgrading that engine so when the time comes to ask it to work at full capacity, you are have more to work with. 

When people say they just don't get it, my challenge is to just try it for one season. You're only investing one marathon season, 16-20 weeks. I've never heard anyone who gave it an honest shot report they didn't have the best season of their career. For most, once you start training this way, you think it's ridiculous to train any other way. Especially as we get older, our heart is an ideal governor of effort. We're getting too old to simply muscle through. At some point, injury or worse (eg: heart attack) will happen. Your heart will not lie to you or steer you wrong. Listen to it, and I promise you'll be rewarded. Good Luck! I'm happy to answer any questions.


ps: I'm currently reading a pretty good book on all of this. As with most books, I don't subscribe to 100% of what the author says, but for the most part, it's inline with what I've learned elsewhere. The author is a well know triathlete coach who's been doing sport science for 40 years. It's an easy read and does a good job of explaining when, why and how to use each zone.

Total Heart Rate Training: Customize and Maximize Your Workout Using a Heart Rate Monitor
Joe Friel