Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Mini-Break Training Week

Training….I was so on track with my training schedule; however, last week I was rewarded with only 15 miles of cycling and 4.3 miles of running – the result of a stomach bug, rain (no excuse since the one 4.3 mile run was in a torrential downpour) and visiting family.  Other than the stomach bug there are no excuses here.

However, overall it was a good week to take off.  I hadn’t built in any rest weeks in the training schedule, which I normally do, so as long as this doesn’t become a habit I will be fine.

The one run I did do was with my workmates on our regularly scheduled lunch run.  I am finding that this has been a great addition since it has really helped with my pace.  We have a couple of really fast runners here (one just ran the Berkeley Half Marathon in 1:20 and the other in 1:27!) and they don’t mind bringing there pace down for the rest of us mere mortals.  Our last run came in at 9:07 with several of the splits in the 8:20 to 8:40 range which has been great since I was having trouble getting out of my 9:47 rut for a while now. 

It was pretty rainy that day, even more than Tuesday which I had managed to talk myself out of pretty easily.  However, the company made the run go pretty quickly and we were done in no time.

I had a plan of getting up early on the weekend with company here; however, with a delayed late night flight on Friday/Saturday which meant we got home in bed around 2:00 A.M and back up 5 hours later, and then not having the required will power for Sunday my long run was out, oh well.

This week my cycling will be low also since it is a short work /commute week; however, I am planning on taking the extra days off to catch up with my miles.  In fact I did do an 8 mile run today with some pretty solid splits in the 8:30 range so I think finally my pace is coming back down.  The challenge was more getting my motivation up.  I had planned a longish run; however, almost turned around at the 0.25 mile mark.  I pushed through and was rewarded with a wonderful view of the Golden Gate Bridge with very light winds so I am very happy I persevered. I will see tomorrow when I run with the group again.

Short training update this week….

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Surf City Marathon Training has Begun!

Well, I really meant to begin my training for Surf City three weeks ago to give me a full 16 week schedule.  However, due to other circumstances, strep throat (how many times can I use this excuse in a post before it gets old?), BART strike, etc., I am now on a compressed 13 week schedule.  And if my performance at the Diablo Trails Adventure half marathon is any indication, I have a bit of a uphill battle to be at peak performance.

This being my seventh road marathon, my primary goal is to PR my Napa Valley Marathon time of 4:42:29.  I am pretty sure I can do this; however it will require me to really bring my speed down past my current 9:30 per mile road pace, really increase my running endurance, and improve my core fitness.

So this is my schedule:


I have a very supportive wife and my kids are great with my training.  The challenge is that this is the first marathon after the first six that I will not actually be running with my wife.  And while she will be there with me on most of my training runs, she will be riding my bike with the kids.  Yes our kids love marathon training because of the amount of time they can spend on the bike.  So I will not need to focus as much to her aches and pains and getting her through a training session as a diversion to my own aches and pains.  Not to suggest that she in anyway would complain about her pains in training, we are both mentally tough people especially when it comes to training; however, my concern for her and getting her through a long run or a marathon allowed me to ignore my own challenges I was facing.

The second challenge will be that this will be the first marathon training schedule that I will not be pushing a double jogging stroller. I don’t know why I am psychologically fixating on this; however, while the training with the jogger was a bit of a hassle pushing it for the full 22 miles, it was also nice to know that I could pretty much carry as much water and food as I needed.  I know also that pushing the stroller contributed to my running mechanics which will be different this time. But training on long runs, not holding onto a handle bar for 4 or 5 hours is going to be fun.

My third challenge has more to do with my commute.  When we did 5 out of six of the last marathons, I was riding my bike between 30 to 50 miles a week.  I am now riding between 48 to 83 miles a week.  While this will be awesome cross training, I am not sure how the overall mileage is going to affect my training.  I have read that 3 miles of cycling is roughly the equivalent of 1 mile of running.  There are a lot of other factors (hills, weather, traffic, gearing) that go into the actual ratio so it far from perfect. However, to ignore this aspect is looking for another injury.

What I do not want to do with my training is to stick to the roads.  I need some input here.  Basically, my training during the week will be on the road here in San Francisco.  And it has been suggested that my long run should also be on the road to match the event.  My schedule does not take into consideration any trail runs which also throw in some hill would work to break up the monotony.  I sorely desire this.  I even was considering dropping my long run for a more time based run (5 hours no distance limitation on Mount Diablo for example)  I know that is how quite a few ultra-runners train for most of their distances, timed over mileage, however they do cover greater distances because their pace is much more efficient than mine.  The problem is that I know I will finish the race, if it means walking however many miles, which is how I know how to pull out an event.  This is different though, I need to be able to run the entire event as I have for the other 5 out of 6 (our last Napa Marathon was a fun challenge with walk/running on the last 5 miles).

So I am ready to go, have my shoes laced up, and a sound training schedule.  The challenges are less about obstacles and more about adjustments to how I have trained in the past.  But I am really looking forward to a nice run, Beach Boy, Jan and Dean, and the Ventures music blaring and a great trip to Surf City U.S.A!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Update: Cannondale Quick 3 - 5K Miles and Counting!

So I have been meaning to this post for some time.  While this blog has primarily taken on a trail running tone, I would be remiss to say that I also do a lot of cycling. Since I use my bicycle to commute to the train station, I typically put in anywhere between 45 to 78 miles of a week.  So my bike is pretty important to me.

One of my earliest posts on my blog was a review of my Cannondale Quick 3.  I love this bike!  It has really been a stalwart bike, letting me to put on an easy 5K miles before any major work.  That said, it was time for me to replace the drive-train, the rear tire (should have been replaced over 1,500 miles ago), and some brake work.

In reality, I took my bike for some work on the front brake (the cable had broken), the rear tire (down to the mesh), and a tune-up; however, other work was found that needed to be done.  Since this is a commute bike, the work is more of a necessity than something that could be put off.  This meant however, that the bike would be out of commission a couple of weeks – until the parts were ordered and it could be fixed.

The great news, if you call it great, I put the bike in at the beginning of the BART strike which was followed by my down time due to my strep throat which meant the downtime didn’t have that much of an impact.  However, this further impacted my performance at the Diablo Trail Adventure.

I will say though that now that I have my bike back, it rides like a new one.  It is a solid bike, rides smoothly, and is very stealthy along the Canal Trail.  While I had been doing regular tune-ups, the fixes have really made a noticeable impact in the ride and feel.

Like I have said before, while this bike is now a couple of years old, is worth the investment.  It is definitely not a high end bike; however, it takes my commute abuse in stride and I can easily see another 5K miles being put on it before my next big investment in it!

Now if I can only figure on how to have a more efficient cadence and increase my speed on the bike, I can really say I am taking the full advantage of all of the features of this bike!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Awesome Weekend at the Diablo Trail Adventure

We had an awesome weekend setting up and participating in the Diablo Trail Adventure!  This Brazen Racing and Save Mount Diablo event is held each November right in our back yard in the Castle Rock Regional Park and Mount Diablo State Park.


It started on Saturday where we meet up with the race directors, Sam and Jasmin, and the other volunteers for the setup.  If you have ever volunteered for Brazen Racing, you will know that they are an extremely organized well-oiled machine, which meant that we got set up relatively quickly.  Since this is a Save Mount Diablo event, there is a greater than normal number of participants especially with the family hike that started in Borges Ranch and finished at Castle Rock Regional Park.  All went well on the setup and we headed home to get our rest for the following day.

We awoke to a lovely chilly (41 degrees at the house) but sunny day.  Emma would be running the 10K (pretty much doesn’t run the 5K’s anymore), Sophie and Myles would be running the 5K, and I would be running the half marathon.  Beth would be Myles motivator so that he would keep moving and having fun so that he would be wanting to do another run.

This was Emma, Sophie, and Myles second run in as many weeks, so they were in a good mindset.  In fact they all PR’d over the previous week.  

My run, well, was a good run and I am happy with the results keeping in mind that I hadn’t really done any training, or exercise for that matter, for the previous three weeks.  In fact, figuring that I wasn’t a 100 percent from Strep throat as of Wednesday, finishing the half in 3:07 was good. 

Mind you, I had been telling Beth all week that my target was to beat my Lagoon Valley half time of 2:28.  That would in itself be a lofty goal since this course is 0.5 mile further and has 500 more feet of elevation gain.  I even downgraded my expectations to closer to 2:38, similar to a race I did a couple of years back; however, even with that time, that course was a little under a mile shorter than this one.

At the start line I positioned myself in the middle of the group.  My strategy was to power hike the climbs and make up time on the downhill.  I would make up the majority of the time on the longest climb in the last 4.5 miles reasoning that I could sustain my flat road pace of a 9:30 minute mile through this final section.

I can say that this strategy was working for me.  I made it to the first climb, Sunset trail, a nice single track I am normally running down than running up on time.  Arriving at the second aid station and knowing that the next would be 5 miles after the longest climb, I picked up two Gu’s.  My thought was that I would need to refuel twice on the climb and if I could keep my blood sugar levels up then my downhill strategy would be fine.

I also began the climb up Dusty Trail and then on to Wall Point ahead of schedule.  Here I met up with a fellow runner, Sam, and we talked about running.  This was his first trail half marathon; however, he was having problems with his knee going downhill (which I got really concerned for him knowing what mile 9 looked like).  He was making a good pace up hill and took off.

I made it to the Curry Station aid station at 1:50.  By this time I knew my 2:28 was out the window; however, I was still on target for 2:38.  I drank two Dixie-cups of Coca Cola and took another Gu for the run back.  When I look at my stop times, I spent no more than 2 minutes combined at the aid stations which I feel pretty good about.

When I made it to the point of the long decent, I had lost another 5 minutes.  I still felt this was ok since it would be easy to make up on the downhill.  Well after the first mile, pace going pretty good, I started to feel the drain.  Very subtle at first but about 1.5 miles into the decent I had lost my energy.  I started feeling a slight amount of hamstring tightness and pulled it back a bit. 

Once I got to the bottom of the steepest grade I was spent.  I was now being realistic with my finish time; however still wanting to be less than 3 hours.  I found myself alternating between running and walking trying to keep my overall pace under 13 minutes; however, was really finding that a struggle.  By the time I was a mile out and with 9 minutes to spare, I realized that I would be just happy with my time and finish.  I came across the finish line at 3:07, being met by my wife and kids as well as our friends the Berhens.

Like I said before, I am happy with my time.  I was sick a short time before, and even with the suggestion of my wife to downgrade to the 10K I went for it.  While it wasn’t my best performance, I have set a good baseline for the next time I run this race.  

Also, I have to (as I have done a lot with my runs lately) rethink my refueling strategy.  I was concerned with the distance between the second and third aid station which revised my normal refueling.  I also typically stay away from Gu’s unless it is a last resort.  I think in this case I started a cycle of carb loading that I wasn’t sustaining at the level of exertion and caused my blood sugar to drop.  In a lot of ways, if I had waited until I got to aid 3, then had a Pay Day Bar and the soda (like I normally do) I would have probably have done better.  I really need to nail my nutrition down.  If I am going to be carb focused I either needs to keep more gel’s or sugar with me or stay more fat adaptive and focus on lower glycemic options.

That said, this is an awesome event and a weekend that our family will be enjoying hopefully for years to come!


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