Tuesday, September 9, 2014

8 Weeks to the TCS New York City Marathon: Last Week's Training

The field has officially been announced for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, and I'm pumped to be a part of a deep and talented field. While I did not have a bad day there last year, I left feeling the result did not fully represent my fitness level, and I was very much hoping to return and make up for it this year. I'm already getting goosebumps re-imagining the starting line, the energy from the overwhelmingly massive crowd, and international superstars I'll be toeing the line with. Having one NYC Marathon under my belt is an asset that will change the way I approach this year's race.

We're already less than 8 weeks away, but if you've followed the previous blog posts you know that my preparation is into the 5th productive week following my track season. I'm now finishing up my 4th week at 7,000 feet in Flagstaff, AZ, my first long stint at altitude, and each week has been slightly better than the previous. My coach, Dave Smith, put a great deal of time into planning my training for this trip, and it has paid off. I have to give a lot of credit to Nick Arciniaga, Scott Smith, Matt Llano, Ben Bruce, Guor Marial, Jordan Chipangama, and Coach Ben Rosario for helping me with the adjustment, the pacing, and learning the training routes in Flagstaff. With their help I was
Downtown Flagstaff
able to get dialed in almost immediately rather than learning from my own mistakes and digging myself into a hole. My time in Flagstaff has been great for my New York preparation, and I have really enjoyed getting to know the town and the beautiful surroundings. I definitely plan on returning in the near future.

Last week included two pretty major workouts for me. After having a few weeks under my belt, I felt adjusted and ready to push the effort a bit more than I had previously. I also brought the mileage back a bit, but I will return to 150 this current week. Wednesday included a 5 x 2 mile workout on the hilly Lake Mary Rd. with a half-mile recovery jog in between, bringing the total to 12 miles. Scott Smith and I started in the 10:00 range and maintained through 3 reps, picking it up on each of the last two down to 9:43. I still don't have workouts to compare these times to, so it's hard to know how excited to be, but Scott and Ben Rosario were happy, so I was happy. Again, it was difficult for me to feel the pace out on this type of workout without the experience, so it was great to be with guys that knew what the effort should be early on.

Sunday was another big day, and we had a very talented group together for it (Llano, Marial, and Chipangama). The workout started with a 3-mile warmup before hitting a 4-mile tempo at 5:06 pace. After switching shoes and taking fluids we jumped right into a 10 mile, moderate effort run,
Llano, Vail, Marial, Chipangama
before switching back into flats and jumping into a second 4-mile tempo at 5:00. This was again on Lake Mary Rd. This type of workout has been a staple for me during my marathon training, but the tempos have usually taken place on the track, so this was a whole new challenge. It's a tough way to get 24 miles in, but the second tempo forces you to experience the latter stages of the marathon for a short period of time. Even long tempos are normally finished in the 16 mile range, but this workout starts the second tempo 17-18 miles in.

While I've thoroughly enjoyed my time in Flagstaff, I'm looking forward to heading back to Portland. After being in Europe for a long chunk of the summer, I've been away for quite some time. Hopefully the training here will allow me to have my best month of training yet when I get back to sea-level. I'll be heading into Portland Integrated Health and Sports Medicine on Thursday to get my blood drawn again and see the before and after altitude comparison. I'll share the results next week. Feel free to check out last week's training below. Thanks again for reading, and follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 4 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 14 6 40 minutes 20

Tuesday 14 5 + drills and grass strides

Wednesday 5 x 2 miles on Lake Mary Rd. w/ half mile jog recover (10:01, 10:00, 10:05, 9:55, 9:43) 5 easy 40 minutes 22

Thursday 12 miles easy Off – hiked around Grand Canyon

Friday 12 miles + 8 x 200 meter hills 6

Saturday 12 6 30 minutes 18.5

Sunday 3 mi warmup, 4 mi tempo @ 5:06 pace, 10 mile run @ 6:15, 4 mi tempo @ 5:00, 3 mi cooldown – Lake Mary Rd. off



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week 3 in Flagstaff

Another week at 7,000 feet is in the books with a couple of solid workouts in the middle of a 150 mile week. On Wednesday I decided to make an early trip to Sedona Red Rock High School in order to drop to 4,500 feet and allow the legs to move a bit quicker. I had to be off the track by the start of school at 8:00 AM which meant leaving at 5:30. The drop in elevation and trading the hilly terrain of Flagstaff for a track obviously made a world of difference for my legs and lungs. The workout consisted of
3.5 miles, 2.5 miles, and 1.5 miles with a 4.5 minute and 3 minute recovery. While the recovery seems long, it's necessary to extend it beyond the normal 3 and 2 minutes I would normally do at sea-level. While the pace was not overly impressive, it was close to my threshold efforts at sea-level when using an altitude conversion. Most importantly it gave me confidence to continue to push through the tough days in Flagstaff and look forward to some incredible sea-level training in the near future. Sedona is a beautiful town surrounded by magnificent rock formations. I had the privilege of refueling with a smoked salmon omelette from a place called the Coffee Pot which has 101 omelettes on their menu. I'm looking forward to heading down again this week for another workout and another dining experience.

Sunday's long run was also fairly successful. Doing an out and back on Lake Mary Rd. in Flagstaff was challenging as the first 11.5 miles were into the wind with a net elevation gain, so it was a slow start. After turning around I was able to get moving and also put in a 4 mile push from 16-20 at 5:11 pace, bringing the overall average to about 6:05. Again, nothing outstanding, but it's nice to see consistent improvement each few days up here.

I'm already down to my last 9 days here before heading back to Portland to continue marathon training. There are still trails to explore, restaurants to test, and the Grand Canyon to see. Feel free to check out last week's training below. Thanks again for reading and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 3 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 15 7.5 40 minutes 22.5

Tuesday 13 + 8 x 200 meter hills + drills 7

Wednesday 14 6.5

Thursday 3.5 mile, 2.5, 1.5 @ 4:54, 4:53, 4:51 w/ 4.5 & 3 minutes rest. On track in Sedona (4500 feet) 6.5

Friday 12 + 8 x 200 meter hill repeats 6.5 40 minutes 20.5

Saturday 12 6.5

Sunday 23 miles in 2:20:03, pushing miles 16-20 @ 5:11 average on Lake Mary Rd. off



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Week 2 in Flagstaff

After nearly two weeks in Flagstaff I'm slowly becoming more confident in my training at 7000 feet. That's not to say that I'm not exhausted, but I'm learning to pick my battles by creating a greater distinction between easy days and hard days. Altitude has forced me to take my easy days significantly easier than I'm used at sea-level. It has also forced me to take recovery and rest more seriously than I have in the past. Without the usual distractions of home, I've managed to get into a healthy rhythm of training, eating, napping, training, eating, sleeping. It is helpful to be in a town where it is the norm to be in bed at 9:00 PM in preparation for the next morning's run. I've really enjoyed exploring the town and getting to know the hangout spots and dining options such as Diablo Burger, Martanne's, and Bellavia. I have quickly learned that Diablo Burger exclusively employs elite runners, Martanne's breakfast/lunch should only be eaten if you don't plan on running again for at least 12 hours, and Bellavia is the only restaurant in Flagstaff where you won't have to wait an hour on the weekends. There is still a great deal to see, and with trips planned to Sedona and the Grand Canyon in the near future I will be able to check a couple major sights off the list.

Last week included my first two structured workouts since coming to Flagstaff. I introduced myself to Lake Mary Rd. with a fartlek consisting of 10 x 4 minutes hard and 90 seconds rest. I started off a bit too quick and suffered the last couple of reps, but that was the reason for starting with a fartlek as opposed to specific intervals or specific paces. This was followed by a 12 mile tempo run on the same road Sunday morning. Fortunately I had the opportunity to jump into the workout with the Northern Arizona Elite crew and tag along with more experienced guys like Scott Smith, Ben Bruce, and Matt Llano. Coach Ben Rosario was also on hand with splits and fluids. Being only my 11th day in Flagstaff, I was still nervous about overdoing the workout, so I was grateful to play the part of the rookie and let the NAZ athletes set the pace. While 5:16 pace was certainly challenging, I didn't dig myself a hole. The effort was right, and it gives me confidence heading into this week's workouts.

I took a big leap in volume this week, although it didn't feel as big as it looks on paper. After taking only a short break after the track season, I'm entering this marathon training segment with a great base, so I didn't feel the need to slowly build back up. I also knew that the intensity last week would stay somewhat low, so I wanted to take advantage of the altitude by putting a good deal of time on the legs. After 145 miles last week, this week will bump up slightly to 150 before backing off for a week and upping the intensity of workouts. With only 2 and a half weeks left in Flag, I'm anxious to get more quality in before heading back down to sea-level and resuming my normal marathon training.

The day before heading up to altitude I had my blood drawn by Dr. John Howell at Portland Integrated Health and Medicine. I will will have it analyzed once again immediately after returning to sea-level in order to determine the effectiveness of the trip to 7000 feet. While this blood work is common among athletes, the response to altitude is extremely individual, so the specific results will be meaningful. I will post both the initial and follow-up blood work on my blog as soon as I return. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates. Thanks again for reading.

Week 2 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 15 6

Tuesday 14 7 + drills and grass strides 40 minutes 21.5

Wednesday Fartlek – 10 x 4 minutes hard, 90 seconds easy 6

Thursday 14 7 40 minutes 21

Friday 13 + 8 x 200 meter hills 6

Saturday 10.5 6 30 minutes 16.5

Sunday 12 mile tempo @ 5:16 pace 4 mile shakeout



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Week in Flagstaff

After another long week of traveling, I'm finally feeling settled in here in Flagstaff. After taking much of the previous week off in preparation for marathon training, I squeezed in as many miles as I could between the flights. I started the week with a 10 mile tempo run, which sounds early to throw in, but we wanted to get some kind of hard effort in before traveling from Europe to Portland, Portland to Flagstaff knowing that I would not be able to train hard for the rest of the week. I spent a day and a half in Portland which was enough time to unpack from Europe and repack for Flagstaff. I'm living with Nick Arciniaga for the month, and I'm getting connected with the huge running community here.

I arrived in Flagstaff on Thursday, and after a canceled flight, a delayed flight, and a missing bag, I was exhausted. The evening run that night felt terrible, but each day since has been a slight improvement. The Sunday long run was the first real test, and I was pleased with how it went. There was an excellent turnout for the run, so I had plenty of guys to key off as I learned the ropes of the A1 road. Fortunately for me, the marathoners decided not to hammer the run which kept me in it and kept me from digging myself into a hole early into my altitude experience. We got through 21 miles in 2:08, respectable on the tough course, but I know these runs will be getting significantly faster. I got to tag along with veterans Scott Smith, Andrew Lemoncello, and Nick Arciniaga. It's great to be up here with guys with so much experience. My first training experience at this elevation is off to a fairly smooth start, and I'm looking forward to a high volume week with a couple of workouts thrown in. Feel free to check out last week's training below. Thanks again for reading and follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 1 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday off 10 mile tempo @ 4:59

Tuesday Off – traveling from Prague to Portland 5 easy shakeout following overseas flight

Wednesday 14 6 40 minutes 20

Thursday Off – travel from Portland to Flagstaff 8 easy following flights

Friday 14 5 40 minutes 19

Saturday 13 6 + drills and grass strides

Sunday 21 miles, progressively faster, 2:08 overall off



Friday, August 8, 2014

Ninove, Belgium: Ending the season with a PB

I had no idea how my legs would react following the brutal 10km course in Castelbuono, Italy the previous week. I did my best to get in a fair number of easy miles and no workouts to speak of other than a few rhythm 200 meter repeats. Each day was a little better, and on Saturday I felt ready to go again. Since I've been traveling every week for the last month, I decided not to leave to Belgium until the day before the race. The race wasn't until late Saturday evening, and it was a simple 70 minute direct flight. I opted to spend one more night in a familiar environment rather than restlessly sitting around the hotel room for another two days. The race itself was fairly slow through 5km, but this was expected as the majority of the field was only worried about running 13:30 for the European Championships. This has been the case for all European 5km's this summer, so it has been extremely difficult to find a race paced at 13:20 or better. This uncertainty is what comes with having a late track season as opposed to going for the dependable California races in April and May, so I decided that no matter what the pace was I would simply race to win. After the slow first 3km (I believe 8:12ish), the pace started to pick up the last 2km, and I looked to put myself in position with the leaders. I was with the leaders until the last 500 meters in which I was dropped pretty hard by Tahri (who recently ran 13:12). While I was hoping to get into a race where I could be pulled to a big 5km best, I have no regrets. I accomplished what I was looking for, and that was to get the wheels moving in between marathon build-ups. Coming off the London Marathon in April I was able to achieve my highest ever finish at the US Track Championships at 10,000 meters (3rd) and came away with a PR of 13:28 in the 5km. Onto marathon training!

Since the last month has been very low mileage for me in between races, I don't feel like I need much of a break. I am taking this week very easy by only run a few days and only with my wife. I'm confident I'll be able to hop right into marathon training next week. I'll be heading back to Portland on the 12th and then heading to Flagstaff on the 14th to start a month long training session. I'm looking forward to giving altitude a full go and seeing how my body reacts when I come down. I'll be heading into Portland Integrated Health to have my blood drawn and get initial readings before heading up to 7000 feet. I will then have it checked again right when I come down. Based on these results as well as how my body reacts to the changes, we will see if this will become a regular part of my training.

My down week has been spent in the Austrian Alps where I've been able to get some nice hiking in, as well as some gorgeous runs with my wife as she prepares for her first marathon in Victoria, BC in October. This part of the alps is only a few hours drive from Eva's parents' village, so it makes for an easy trip. I'm looking forward to getting back to work in another set of Alpine mountains in Arizona next week! Feel free to check out last week's easy training week below, and follow me here on twitter for more updates. Thanks again for reading.

Week 16 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 10 5

Tuesday 10.5 + drills and strides 5 40 minutes 15.5

Wednesday 9 4.5

Thursday 6 miles + 6 x 200 meters @ 29-30 w/ 200 equal jog rest off

Friday Travel to Brussels 5.5

Saturday 2 mile shake-out 5km race at Memorial Rasschaert – Flanders Cup (13:28, 3rd place)

Sunday Off – end of season off



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Castelbuono 10km recap and hitting the track in Belgium

The Giro Podistico di Castelbuono was one of the more interesting racing experiences I've had to date. Castelbuono is a special place, and one that I probably would have never visited had I not been invited for this race. Even though the race holds IAAF Gold Label status, the race organizers were very relaxed and care-free. Communication was limited as most organizers did not speak English, but this made for a fun weekend of charades. It was a true Sicilian experience with loose timetables and looser traffic laws. The small town of Castelbuono takes you back in time with an interesting mix of Arabic and Norman architecture. You are surrounded by mountains, making running extremely challenging as all roads head up for miles and miles away from the town center. It was challenging to hold back from the plentiful food available three times per day at the hotel. Breakfast meant a buffet of various sweet breads, and lunch and dinner offered a pasta appetizer followed by a main course of meat and vegetables. After the race, my wife and I celebrated with a seafood feast at a restaurant next to the castle.

As for the race itself, the field was very impressive, as expected at a Gold Label race. In spite of this I knew the challenging course would be an equalizer for me just as cross country has been in the past. The course consisted of a cobblestone loop that was slightly longer than 1km around the town square, starting and finishing in front of the castle. It was essentially 500 meters up, and 500 meters down. I consider myself a strong hill runner and made up ground each time heading up the hill, but I struggled trying to sprint back down the hill. Over the final few laps the wear and tear began to show, and my strong uphill pushes allowed me to catch and pull away from several racers, leaving me in 4th place. It was great to be able to put myself into cross country mode and focus only on the racing without any consideration of time. The brutal course has left me quite sore through the quads from the downhill pounding, but I have a week to recover.

I have one final race left in Europe for the summer before I end my season, take a down week, and then start preparing for a fall marathon. I will be traveling to Ninove, Belgium for the Memorial Rasschaert - Flanders Cup. I don't have much information regarding the field at this point, but in the past it has been a strong 5km. Regardless of the field or the conditions, I will be looking to run fast, and I'll be looking to win. There is not enough time left to postpone my track 5km effort, so I will be leaving it all on the track on Saturday before taking a short break. While Europe has not gone exactly according to plan, I am meeting my goal of competing in some shorter races before heading back to the marathon. It's been refreshing to get the wheels moving in training and in racing, and the lower volume with increased intensity over the last month has been a great change of pace.

Feel free to check out last week's training below. It was another very light week heading into Castelbuono, but there is nothing more that can be done at this point in the season other than resting. I had an excellent couple months of track workouts that will get me through my final week. Thanks again for reading, and follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 15 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11 4

Tuesday 10+drills and strides 5 40 minutes 15

Wednesday 3 x 1km @ 2:55 + 1km (37, 35, 33, 31, 29 per 200 meters) w/1 minute recovery


Thursday 8.5 easy Travel to Castelbuono, Italy

Friday 6 easy + drills and strides off

Saturday off 10km race

Sunday 10 easy 4.5 easy



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Looking ahead to Giro di Castelbuono

Unfortunately the 5km in Heusden did not happen for me. After very poor communication by the race director, I didn't find out until the night before that I had been placed in the 'C' heat. Given my 10km personal best and recent 3rd place finish at the US Champs, I do not know how this occurred, but politics are the name of the game when it comes to racing in Europe. I showed up to the race knowing that pulling the plug was a possibility, but I did not make a decision until the last minute. I was still hoping to get moved up once I arrived at the venue. This did not happen, and temperatures were in the 80s even after dark, solidifying my decision. All heats went significantly slower than hoped simply due to the weather. I only have time for a couple more races before preparing for a fall marathon build up, so I decided not to waste an effort last weekend. It was disappointing to fly over to Belgium and waste a down week in training, but it was the right decision, and sometimes unexpected rest is a positive thing.

Looking forward, I am honored to have been invited to the Giro di Castelbuono in Italy on July 26th. This 10km is one of the oldest road races in Europe and is an IAAF Gold Label event, meaning the field will be absolutely loaded. Looking at past results will give you an idea. The course is a very challenging 1.1 km loop through the town, and anyone who is caught is out of the race. This is my kind of race. Times are always slow, so I only have to focus on competing. I expect it to be a memorable experience to say the last.

The following week I am planning another shot at a 5km on the track. Right now the most likely option is the Memorial Rasschaert in Ninove, Belgium on August 2nd. If that does not work out there are a couple of back-up options, but let's hope that will not be necessary. This will still give time to take a full week of rest before heading to Flagstaff for a month of altitude training.

Last week's training is below. It is a low volume week due to the belief that I would be racing Saturday night. My coach and I decided to go with some over-speed work the next day which still added up to 5 miles of running on the track including the rest intervals. I'm starting to get antsy with the lower volume, but that is the nature of racing season.  I will have plenty of time for volume over the next few months. The rest is also necessary with the frequent flying I am doing at the moment. Fortunately with Prague at the center of Europe, all flights will be short and smooth.

Thanks again for reading, and I look forward to writing about my experience in Castelbuono next week. Follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 14 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11 Traveling from Portland to Prague

Tuesday Traveling from Portland to Prague 6 20 minutes 6

Wednesday 5 x 1k @ 2:54-2:55 w/1 min recovery, 2 x 400 @ 62-63, 2 x 200 @ 29-30 w/ 200 meter jog recovery 5

Thursday Off – travel to Nijmegen, Netherlands 9

Friday 6 + drills and strides 1.5 mile shake-out

Saturday 1.5 mile shakeout 9 easy

Sunday 5 x (200, 200, 400) w/ equal jog recovery. 200's @ 29-30, 400's @ 59-61. Recovery jog kept at 6:40-7:00 pace Off – travel back to Prague