Friday, September 28, 2012

Chicago Marathon Goals & Training Lessons Learned

Where Have I Been? blah blah BLAH
I was definitely a lot better posting about my training during the lead up to last year's half-ironman.  This year I've been busy working on a couple personal web site projects plus lots o runnin', so I really haven't been visiting the blog-o-sphere or the twitteverse much.  It's been heads down coding and posting my training on Dailymile.

But, hey, you get TWO posts in THREE days!  Missed my previous post from the week?  Check it out HERE!

"A" Races Through The Years
Compared to the previous major events that I have trained for in the first two years of my endurance career, Kansas City Marathon in 2010 and Beach-to-Battleship 70.3 in 2011, my training for the Chicago Marathon has been spot on.  The last month of my KC Marathon training got sidelined with a bunch of overtime at work.  I got all my weekend runs in but missed about 100 miles of midweek runs.  Last year I broke up my September and October half-iron training due to a broken rib.  Once again, weekend long runs/bike were completed but I rested during the weeks to heal the rib. I only managed three swims during September and October.

I Would Run 500 Miles
This year I could probably count the missed runs on one hand.  According to Garmin Connect, I've logged 550 miles of running and cross training (37 miles of cycling and one mile of swimming) since the training program started June 4th.  This does include a handful of races.

Where Are We Now?
So how has training really gone?  Sure, I'm hitting the mileage but didn't I have some goal for this year?  Yes.  The plan for this year was to Boston Qualify.  I resolved about 8 weeks ago that it wasn't in the cards.

All Time Low?
The training plan called for a half marathon race at week 9.  While I didn't have a half marathon event scheduled, I visited our downtown airport and completed 4 loops on the outer road and it took over 1:50 hours to complete.  I hadn't planned to run the 7:14 pace needed for a BQ but targeted 7:30.  This lasted about 4 miles and officially blew up after 8 or 9 miles.  The temps were probably upper-70s for the run, so that was definitely working against me. This training run lost a lot of confidence in BQing at Chicago and so I decided to reset my expectations.

Proof Is In The Pudding
It wasn't a hard decision because I really hadn't seen any indication that it was a possibility.  I could definitely keep BQ pace going for 3 or 4 miles, if I knew that was all I had to run.  3 or 4 miles at that time doesn't make 26.2.  Twentysixpointtwo miles is a long freaking way.  At some point it's pure mental and I had lost it at that point.

Runnin', Runnin' and More FREAKING Runnin', Runnin'
The thing about this decision was that around week 9 or 10 I had lost much of the joy of running.  It was getting really monotonous.  Joe and I tried to mix up the weekend runs by going to Shawnee Mission Park and running different parts of the park.  One day we did 9 miles of the Brew-to-Brew route.  Once I made this decision to PR instead of BQ, the mental aspect greatly improved but mental anguish turned to physical drain when the 50 mile weeks appeared on the training plan..

The Days You Never Want To Happen
For example, I had one run in September that was only about .2 of a mile long.  I got up at 4:15am, started on one side of my neighborhood and by the time I reached the other side I noticed my pace was so slow I might as well be walking.  I was worn out.  I put my tail between the legs, walked home, and passed out on the couch for another hour.  This did also occur following one of the most extremely emotional days of my life by attending the funeral of my grandmother.  She was an amazing woman who warmed my heart and especially my belly with noodles, cookies, apple butter, apple jelly, home made frozen pudding pops, home grown veggies, ham and beans, apple dumplings, and many other treats.  It's amazing I made it through the the years as lanky and thin as I did.

20 Miles At A Time
Joe and I continued to add variety to our long runs.  We did our first 20 miler on our own, which I ran up to the Kansas City International airport and back at 8:30 pace!  Joe completed his on a treadmill, which I can't imagine ever doing.  The second 20 miler started at Joe's house in Roeland Park and finished in Parkville.  It was a rough 20 miler because the middle 6 miles include a bunch of hills: 9:07 pace.  Our last 20 miler was from my house in Parkville to Joe's house.  8:38 pace!  We avoided some of the hills but there were definitely a lot at the start.  My average heart rate was a beautiful 148 bpm too.

It Doesn't Compute
I still have quite a bit of frustration.  My mid-week runs are in the 8:30 - 9:30 range for the 5 to 10 mile runs.  How can I do run 20 miles over hilly terrain at 8:30-ish pace but do a mid-week 10 mile run at 9:15?  I noticed my last big midweek run of 8 miles was a horrid 9:15 but my HR averaged 131.  My previous mid-week runs followed similar patterns: slow pace with slow HR.  131 isn't even in the aerobic zone for me.

Learn Something New Every Day
I learned a valuable lesson that I subconsciously knew but simply rejected.  When you are targeting a time goal, you just can't mindlessly get the runs in.  They need to be effective and have a purpose.  I've heard many times not to bother with junk miles.  Each run needs to have a purpose and I let a few of my runs turn into junk runs each week recently.  Getting up at 4am to get in 10 miles so I can get to work on time may allow me to get miles on my legs but being half asleep doesn't train for speed.

Things Are Looking Brighter
This week I have changed my mindset even though I'm officially tapering.  My 8 mile run on  Sunday was at a great 8:00 minute pace, my wide awake and focused Tuesday AM 4 mile run hit 7:49 pace and today's 5 mile run was at 7:38 pace (granted, it was on a treadmill and I was doing a HR test... more on that on another post, I hope).  Things are definitely improving on the mental front, but that's the point of tapering!

Chicago Goals
So I'm thinking my chances of an amazing PR at Chicago is very high.  I'm not planning for a BQ but shooting for a BQ if I had the girly parts (under 3:35 hours).  Officially I'm shooting for a 3:29 marathon, which is an 8 minute pace.  My ambitious goal is 3:25.

My biggest concern with Chicago is the pacers are doing even pacing.  I've proven to myself that having a slow first three miles and making up that time over the course of the marathon makes it much easier for me to manage a faster pace, so I may be on my own for the first 7 or 8 miles.

Joe, on the other hand, has a great chance at hitting the goal.  He has been kicking some crazy pavement lately and can't wait to see how he does in his first marathon.  Go Joe Go!!!

By The Numbers
Occasionally I look at Dailymile to see how my mileage is.... looking.  As I mentioned early, 550 miles logged on Dailymile since the 18 week marathon training plan started.  For the year I have logged 914 miles running.  Including all other training, 1161 miles.  Definitely hitting some all time highs here.

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