Monday, December 23, 2013

Boston Training Week One

The 2014 Boston Marathon was 18 weeks from this past Monday.

After two serious failed attempts to qualify, including one near miss at New York in 2010 where I crossed the line thinking I had a minute to spare only to find out two months later that they planned to change the standards (I ended up missing by a minute instead...)

Needless to say, I can't think of another race that has had quite this level of buildup for me.  After the tragedy of last year and all the emotional response, the BAA decided to expand the field by another 9,000 runners.  Nonetheless, I was sure I would get edged out again, but I applied and thankfully made it in.

So now it's time to start training for the darn thing... 

I'm not used to spring marathon training, which means early wake-ups in the dark and toughing out long runs through rain and cold, but I'm hoping this writing in some small way keeps me more motivated.

I won't have many pictures or a great deal of wit like some of my peer running bloggers.  You can take or leave my music suggestions at the end of each post, but I hope this is at least insightful and supportive for other runners - whether it be those who run for fun or health, or others training for Boston or some of the more "outlandish" but popular trail type races or ultras of the winter (Uwharrie or the Umstead Marathon or 100 - which yes... all filled up quickly again...)

It also helps to start with some goals.  So here are mine in descending order of importance:

1) Have fun training and with the entire 18-week process
2) Make it to the start line (no season ending injuries!!)
3) Run across the finish line
4) Run a personal best

If I accomplish #1, I am sure #2, #3, and #4 will follow.

#4 is particularly ambitious, particularly since the weather and crowds could make this one tough.  A personal best would be under 6:55 per mile pace.  After a really good fall where I ran times I hadn't seen since high school in some of the shorter races, I know I have the speed to get in the 2:55 to 3:00 range IF I stay healthy.  But I need to mix it up a little - and try some new runs and drills to get there.

Week 1 (Dec 16-22) in summary

Total Miles:  36

Monday:  I met my usual group at Brixx at Meadowmont for our 6 miler through the neighborhood.  Typically, the run is like clockwork.  The group has many fast runners, but usually everyone takes it easy - it is more of a social run.  Normally we finish at about 8 minute mile pace then eat pizza and drink beer.  I don't even bring my watch any more, because it tends to be very predictable with the same route and pace each week.

This week was different.  I guess our friend Jim C had other ideas.  A mile out he starts pushing and no surprise, Bart, who is usually the culprit pushing the pace, goes with him.  I am well rested after 2 weeks of light training so I say "screw it" and go with them.  So much for easing into the training cycle.  We're coasting down Pinehurst Drive by the million dollar houses in the darkness at what is easily sub-7 pace.  We turn on Nottingham and pick up the pace again.  With about a half-mile left, I realize this is getting way too hard for my first day of training, so I let Jim and Bart go.  "Today is not a race" I remind myself, but I am happy that Jim is healthy again.  We finished in just over 40 minutes, but the last 5 miles of the run were probably close to 6:30 pace.  Afterward: pizza and beer - a well earned White Street Brewing Baltic Porter and Rogue Hazelnut.

Tuesday:  rest day, work "catch-up" day...

Wednesday:  Met Ronnie and Karen at Duke in the evening for a track workout.  The holidays and the summer time are a great time to be on the campus, because it is so... quiet.  This time of year, however, it is almost too quiet... and dark on the track.  

Ronnie and I made up a workout on the fly.  I knew he wanted to go longer, and I of course wanted to go shorter, so we reached a compromise.  We started with a 1600-1200-800... and then he did longer intervals from there and I went shorter, another 800 and 2 400s.  It was more of a "zen" type workout because I could not read my watch in the dark of night on an unlit track, I just had to feel the pace and hope I was staying on target.  I did a pretty good job at this - the 800s and above were all around 85 seconds per lap for me, the 400s closer to 79-80 with minute to 75 second recoveries that felt short and made for a tougher workout.  I felt pretty good, although I didn't have much left on the 400s.  We did a warmup and cool down around campus, which is always like a trip down memory lane.  Usually I'm at UNC on Wednesday nights, but it was good to get one in at my alma mater for a change.

Thursday:  I'm trying to get better about getting in some runs during the day on my easy days when it's still light out, so I took a quick lunch break to get in a 3 mile run on the greenway where the Parkruns are held (Third Creek Fork Trail).  Prior to the summer, I never knew this route existed.  After 8 years living in Durham, it's always good to find new places.

Parking at Southern Boundaries park off Archdale

If you haven't done Parkrun yet and live in the Triangle - go ahead and check it out, Parkrun is free (Parkrun-Durham).  I use them to get in tempo runs on Saturday mornings if I don't quite feel like racing but still want to have someone there to push me.  Unfortunately, I guess I forgot I was supposed to be taking it easy today and ended up running around 6:30 pace listening to some of the more up tempo Neko Case songs from her latest album.

Friday:  3 miles on ATT near my house up to Renaissance in the AM on tired legs... did keep pace easy this morning...

Saturday:  5 miles starting at East Campus at Duke over to the Chapel and then across Duke Gardens and by Sam's back to East.  I can't make a trip to this part of town without stopping at Sam's...

Sunday:  I met a couple of the Bull City Track guys at the fire station off Whitfield early... I had heard of this group for a few years, but never made it out before recently since they start at 6:30 (when I am usually just waking up) and I always thought the group was probably a little too fast for me - but per goal #4 above... I figured I needed to give it a shot to hang with some of the fastest runners in the area.

The weather this morning was surreal - it was about 70 in the dark of night and humid.  A slight breeze and light drizzle disrupted the thick air like one of those first heat waves of the spring... but it is still late December.  Weird.

I ended up going 12 total, even after the other guys stopped at 10.  After the 10, I ran down and back up the big hill from the New Hope Turkey Run that almost reduced me to walking in that race back in November.  I ran a couple sprints up the backside of the hill to close out my workout.  I've only been back on those trails in races (New Hope and Hard Climb), but it's a good training spot for some long grinds.

Anyone who has done Hard Climb is familiar with some of these hills...

Good run given the weather, but I was spent the rest of the day...

One week down, 17 left...

Running song of the week:

See It My Way, by Mikal Cronin

Mikal Cronin is another in a long line of Merge Records artists I've run to... and speaking of Merge, I'm excited for Merge Records 25 year anniversary events... first the 25K in late March and now this... I'm marking July 23-26 on my calendar now #merge25

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