Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Southern California Christmas

Well, Christmas is upon us and another week has gone by. This was an interesting week to be back with my parents. It was also my first "real" week of training, as I finally got back to 100 miles for the week. And it didn't seem that bad, both mentally and physically. Of, course I didn't do any real workouts, just mileage. There's nothing too special to write about at this point. Two interesting things to comment about is the contrast of runs and weather I've dealt with this week. Thursday was a nice 8 mile run in the Foothills with Dana and Pat through a Snow Storm! The wind was howling up to 40 miles/hour with snow pelting us continuously. I believe the visibility was about 400m in the foothills, and the wind chill wasn't too pleasant, but it was a great run to put in the record books. Then I had a long run this Christmas day in Laguna Niguel, California with a sunny temperature of around 70 degrees. Since my pale Albuquerque winter chest hadn't seen sunlight since August, it felt nice to run shirtless with shorts on, under the sun. I ran in the Aliso Woods Canyon up to "Top of the World" and back. At around mile 16 I decided to drop a 5:01 mile for good measure and to see if I could. It felt good to finally move my legs, which was the fastest pace I've done since the marathon 3 weeks ago.

Mon - am. 8 mile easy
Tue - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 6 miles easy
Wed - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 6 miles easy
Thur - am. 6 miles easy / pm. 8 miles in a Snow Storm
Fri - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 8 miles easy
Sat - am. flew to Cali / pm. 14 miles med/easy
Sun - am. 20 mile Long Run

Total: 106

Thursday, December 15, 2011

29 days...

It's only 29 days until the most anticipated American road race takes place in Houston, Texas. The marathon trials have been my goal since graduating from Cal State San Marcos, yet I didn't even give it a shot until moving to New Mexico. I could say that the 60-80 mile weeks in Southern California were preparing me to become a better runner, but after many miles later, I now know that was a lie. I should have been running 100 plus mile weeks for about 2 years to see any real benefit in the marathon, which may be why I didn't attempt one until 2009. And that was a year after moving to New Mexico to pursue a running lifestyle, hidden behind a pursuit of a master's degree. But, I kept running low mileage and ran local races, never exposing myself to what other top runners where doing at the time. So, when Sean Brosnan convinced me that there were better places to train in the United States, and that a change of scenery would not only get me out of my comfort zone, but force me to focus on why I would be training there, I decided that I would need to move. Luckily for me, Kris Houghton wanted me to move to New Mexico and train with him and be coached by Henry Rono. This worked out, and the rest is history.

So, After 3 years of training and the casual injuries, I've finally hit a few PR's that are respectable, in my mind. I can finally say that I'm an Olympic Trials Qualifier, and will be toeing the line on January 14th, 2012, with the best Marathoners of our day. It's going to be a 26.2 mile victory race, and I have no idea how its going to play out. All I know is that I am excited and proud to be there, and can't wait to see what happens. I hope to be posting more frequently, now that school is over, graduation is upon me, and the trials are staring at me in the face!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nothing to Lose, and Everything to Gain... California International Marathon

Boom! It has all paid off... 2:17:19 for 6th place at the California International Marathon was something I can't even fathom!!! I knew I had it in me, but I just had to do it on the right day, with the right circumstances, and those circumstances can barely be transcribed, but I'm going to try...

This epic weekend starts off on a now winterish Friday with a cold front moving in on Albuquerque. I knew this, because I planed on teaching all day and would leave for Sacramento at 5:30pm to arrive there at around 8:45pm. In the classroom at S.Y. Jackson Elementary, the day is going as planned. Students are learning, and I'm learning how to become a better teacher from them... Once the day is over, I leave for home to an already packed bag and head for Sacramento. The flight was extremely delayed, and I assumed I was going to miss my connecting flight out of LAX. But, that didn't happen as the wonderful people at Southwest held that flight and I made it out of LAX and into Sacramento at 8:45pm.

Kris had an entirely different ordeal, as he left Abq in the early afternoon, flew into Oakland, rented a car and would drive to Sacramento. This, astonishing as it is, would save him time, and it did, as he arrived at the airport to pick me up. We zipped out of there in the spunky compact sized rental car as Kris handles it as a formula 1 racing car. We're weaving in and out of semi-trucks to get to downtown Sacramento so that we can grab something to eat. But, once we park the car in downtown, we had the unfortunate, and fortunate experience of meeting what I will call a "troubled" women. She had so much disparity about her, and the very detailed and long story she expressed only lead Kris and I to help her in what little way we could. Not to get into the detail of what we did, but to express the amount of emotion that came from this experience was very eye-opening. Here I am, fortunate enough to travel across the country to chase a dream of qualifying for the Olympic Trials, and this destitute of a women is here asking for help in more ways than one. The outlook I had on what I was there to do seemed to matter little to the struggle this women and her family would be experiencing. I decided to keep this thought as the weekend progressed... So, after a quick dinner, we headed to our hotel on the outskirts of Sacramento, checked in, and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

So, the next morning we went on a run and the theme of destitution arose once more. Kris and I ran along the American River Trail and ran by what is called "Tent City", due to the hundreds of homeless people living in tents along the river. One guy looked pretty cold and mentioned something about gloves. I didn't understand him, but Kris did, and decided to give him his favorite pair of gloves. That was an emotional detachment, that looked like it hurt. Well, the rest of the day was pretty mellow. We headed out to get bottles and drop them off, got our race numbers, had a nice lunch, picked up Solomon (another Dukes Track Club member and Kenyan) and went to dinner. Solomon and I went with my parents to Old Spaghetti Factory, and Kris went with his family somewhere else. After this, the real action starts...

Solomon and I got home and just relaxed and went to bed around 9:30. This is when Kris barges into the room with a panic stricken voice, stating that "We have a situation!". I thought that at this point, Maria was going into labor (his wife was due on the 12th of December and would most-likely be early), but Kris made it clear that there was a bat on the staircase. A freakin bat that wouldn't fly was laying on the staircase and Kris wanted to rehabilitate it back to health... I told him, "who cares, it's a freakin bat!". Solomon just laid there trying to sleep peacefully, and I knew this whole weekend was too good to be true with all the chaos going on in our room. Here's a little background history: Kris cannot relax before a big marathon! The past three marathon's I've been to with Kris have been an emotional roller-coster. The guy, simply can't chill out! It's the combination of tapering for a marathon, and Kris Houghton genetics. So why shouldn't he relax before CIM?!?! Well, he's frantically running around the room on his iphone trying to google: what to do if you find a bat, and I'm surprised it didn't tell him to pull his head out of his A$$ and leave the damn thing alone! They have rabies!!!! So, after an hour of running back and forth from the room to the staircase to his iphone, he finally made a bat bed, put the damn thing in it, and placed it in a cabinet in the hotel room until this bat lady showed up to take it to a conservation place or something... Just as long as everyone was in bed, and "trying" to rest for the morning ordeal, I would be a little more at ease.

Then, at around 2:50am Kris' phone rang, and Maria was on the other end explaining that her water broke and she'd be going into labor. Now, this was for real! Kris was able to get a flight out of Oakland at 7am and would be back in Albuquerque by 10am. He organized this in a matter of minutes, and told me sorry he wouldn't be able to race. He also told me to qualify for him, since he wouldn't even have the opportunity to... Those emotional words stayed in my heart as the morning went on.

Finally... it's 4:30am and my parents take Solomon and I to the host hotel so that we can get bused to the start. I get separated from Solomon and end up in the back of a random school bus sitting next to a nice girl who happens to work for Brooks and is attempting to qualify for the trials as well. The 45 minute bus ride goes by very quickly as we talk about running and Brooks as a company. Once we arrive at the start, the temperature seems colder and all the "elite" runners huddle in the Elite Tents. The thought of claustrophobia sets in, as a few dozen runners are packed into these tents. I leave immediately after I get my socks and shoes on for a short warm up. This lovely girl comes along, but I never see her after I sneak off into the brush to water the bushes from over hydration. I frantically get back to the tent and attempt to strip down so that I can get to the starting line. I notice how cold it is, and leave my gloves on, and I almost kept my watch on, but decided at the last minute that I would run back to my bag and ditch it. I'm thinking, I'm just going to race off of feeling and not worry about splits. So, with the luck of my entire 5th grade class and their signatures on my racing flats, I feel ready to go.

I am finally on the starting area and I still don't see Solomon or anyone else that I recognized. I thought there'd be a slew of guys that I knew, like: Paul Wellman, Nate Pennington, Mario Macias, Ryan Bak, Mario Mendoza... but I didn't see any of them at the start, only at the tent area. There was just too many people in this race, and I knew at that moment it was going to be a gagglefest of runners trying to hit the Olympic Trials Standard. A lot of dreams where going to get crushed, and a couple were going to come true. Well, the National anthem was sung and a quick count down was started right before the barrage of runners took to the streets! And the mayhem began!

In the first mile I could finally see everyone settle into a rhythm. There was two distinct packs forming and I was cruising behind the guys in the chase pack (2nd pack). The lead group of about 15 runners had Ryan Bak leading the group and Mario Macias in the mix of African runners. In this first mile with a slight downhill I decided to keep my composure and stick behind this chase pack of bobbling idiots. We come by the first mile and I hear an array of GPS/Watches clicking and beeping off all around me. One runner (who happens to be a Hansons runner) is directly to my left and is signaling to me as a police officer directing traffic, that he wants to move across my line of running to be next to his "teammate". He couldn't wait in this wonderfully long marathon race that he anxiously jumps across my path to get next to his teammate. I'm thinking that there's too much anxiety going on around these idiots and I have to get out of here. "5:14... perfect!" is called out by one runner. Another asks what pace they want to run, and a conversation of "Well, 5:18 pace, just what everyone here wants to run..." is going on right in front of me. Again, I can't stand this and immediately move to the right and leave the group of digglefucks, never to see a single one of these runners again until I finish. But, I didn't know that at the time...

I see the original leader Ryan Bak relinquish the lead and ease up behind the lead group. I figure I could catch him so that I wouldn't be alone, and neither would he. We could work together in-a-sense. So it takes me a little less than a mile and I run up beside him. At this point I feel like the old school marathoners from the 70's, especially since Ryan's wearing the nostalgic Oregon Track Club singlet, and I've got the Dukes Track Club singlet on, and we are about to have an unnecessary conversation.

He looks over with a questioning tone and says "Jesse?".
I acknowledge quickly with a "Hey Ryan.".
And now a quick question of, "What are you looking to run?" is asked.
And I reply, sounding like a tool, "Something FAST...!".
He nods his head, and I continue my with another quirky response of, "Lets do this!".

We are now stride for stride, watching the lead pack gain ground on us, over, and down, and up hills. With each mile marker being past, I can hear Ryan's Garmin beeping. I never bother to ask him what pace we are on, but it was a curious thought. At each designated elite aid station, we grab our bottles and take in the desired fuel. Miles start to come up quickly and the lead group is still putting ground on us, but only at the cost of a few African runners fading off for us to overcome. The crowds are cheering us on and the pace feels great. The lead pack is now shedding guys from their pace and the winner of this marathon is being determined right in front of us.

Ryan and I turn a bend and head up a slight hill that leads us to the half way spilt and a clock ticking away. I see 1:07:10 as we approach, and we ran pass the mat in 1:07:16. This meant nothing to me. I felt pretty good and under control at this point, and that split could have said anything. I guess at halfway, the time doesn't matter, and the effort is all that matters. It was a complete arbitrary number. I just knew I had to keep the same effort for the next half of the race. Well, after coming up on mile 14, I started to feel really good. The leaders where coming back to us, and I had these thoughts of grander... maybe I could pick all these guys off and win this thing... this performance could change my life! Well... I started pressing harder and harder at this point. A few Africans fell off and I started feeling better! Ryan must have kept his cool, because he was now a few meters behind me. I tried to keep pressing, then at around mile 18, I couldn't push the pace anymore. I was overcome by Ryan and couldn't respond to the continued pace I had started. I started to fade a little, but not much...

Mile 20 came up pretty quick after that mess, and I just kept cool and looked forward to my last aid station at mile 21.5. I may have been slowing down, but I had no idea by how much. Mile 21.5 came and I saw my bottle, but failed to grab it tight, so it slipped out of my hands. I could hear the aid station crew regurgitate what just happen by saying, "oh, he dropped his bottle.". Yes, I dropped a bottle of precious fuel, oh no, the world is going to end... not exactly! I just kept going, and kept my cool, grabbing whatever was offered at the water stations. Things would be fine. The next couple miles were painful as I hoped I didn't just screw up this race by sprinting my brains out from mile 14-17. Oh well, time would only tell.

By the time I got to mile 23, this buster comes up on me and tells me to come with him. I attempt to move my legs, but I can't match his stride for more than 400 meters. He takes off on me, and I think to myself that if this guy just flew by me, then the whole train of guys are coming soon! It turns out that he was on the relay team, but I didn't know that at the time. Now, some guy on the street is looking at his watch and tells us we still have a shot at qualifying for the trials. I am in denial at this point, there is no way we are going to hit a sub 2:19. I also think, I might run an okay PR. About two miles or so go by, and I start to hear more foot steps. I look at the street signs and still see 30 something street, as the finish is closer to 9th or 8th street, so this only means I am going to get passed by more guys. Well, once those footsteps come next to me, a familiar voice with a Kenyan accent tells me, "hello, lets go.".
It's Solomon! Now, I have to go with him. I can't let him down. I also think, I still have a shot at a PR. His momentum and stride is very smooth, so I muster myself together to stay with him. My muscles are pumping nothing but battery acid at this point, and are as heavy as bricks. But, I still must stay with Solomon. The finish line is near, as we pass the capitol building on out left and mile marker 26 appears! 400 meters is all that's left! Solomon's speed is increasing, and the steeple chaser in him is coming out. I try to go with him and think to myself that I have plenty of pain to push out of this body to finish as strong as I can. With about 100 meters to go, a clock is on the corner of the street with the lucky digits of 2:17:00 clicking away...! My heart and lungs suddenly open up and take in that emotional feeling that I've already accomplished everything I wanted. And with this flood of emotion overcoming inside of me, I start to sprint harder than I've every felt; maybe not faster than every, but gut wrenching and teeth grinning fast! I lose control of my senses and start fist pumping and screaming inside! Arms are waving and the last reaction I have is of victory as I am looking to the heavens and just thanking God from my heart with my hands held high!





And it didn't stop there... I saw my parents, and my mom screaming her brains out with joy. My dad was practically speechless while a volunteer place a medal over me and I was trying to catch my breath. I could feel all the emotion pouring down on me that I couldn't even breathe. A slight bit of hyperventilating was occurring as I was so freakin excited. I also had a stupid grin on my face for hitting the time, but I didn't care. I went over to my mom to give her a hug as tears of joy were about to stream down my face. Needless to say, she was very happy, as well as my father. I was so glad they were there to share this with me. I love them with all my heart, and thank God I have such wonderful parents to support me throughout all those years of training and being there for me when it counted. They are my motivation, inspiration, and keep me determined to do the best I can! Like the rest of the Armijo's in my family, we always do things at the last minute and up against the clock, as this was literally the last chance to qualify for the trials!

To everyone else that has supported me through this crazy ordeal:

And baby Alma Rose Houghton was born on this same day during this race! Congratulations Kris and Maria!


Monday, November 28, 2011

End of the Line

Less than a week till marathon day in Sacramento, and what have I done? Well, considering last week was Thanksgiving week, meaning loads of turkey and stuffing being shoveled into my month at my own will, I haven't been doing much. Although, I did start my: taper, peaking, mileage decrease, laziness or whatever phase it's called when you gear down towards a marathon preparation. Also, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, and heading back to my parents house in Laguna Niguel, I decided to run my favorite Turkey Trot race in Dana Point. The 10k at the Dana Point Turkey Trot is always stacked with fast guys that can carry you to a sweet road PR, which is what I was intending 10 days out from my marathon. Instead of another marathon workout, I was going to get 10,000m worth of speed to get me ready for C.I.M..

Well, after a couple days of easy running, and a quick flight home, I would be ready to go on Thursday morning. It had rained the night before and was clearing up in the beach city of Dana Point. I decided not to wear a watch and just go with the flow. After getting out pretty comfortable, I stayed with the top pack until I got dropped at around 4 miles. I stayed in 4th relatively comfortable, but couldn't make up any ground on 3rd place. And to my amazement I came through the finish in 29:19 for 4th place! I usually get 5th at this race, and usually run in the 30:00's on this course, but things turned out pretty good on this day. I also credit the notation that this course was slightly different than the previous years, and could have been 100m short... Nevertheless, I am sure I would've still been well under 30 minutes on the roads.

The following days, I took easy since I was extremely sore, and finished up the week with my last "long run" of 15 miles back in Albuquerque. I don't really know how I'm suppose to feel at this point. I remember the last few marathons vaguely, and can't recall how this taper feels. I know my mileage is extremely low, and I feel pretty rested, but very eager to race the full 26.2 miles! It's only Monday, and I want the end of the week to come. And I know I have a lot of other things on my mind besides the marathon, which I hope is a good thing. Let's go down the list: I have a rigorous class presentation on Tuesday along with a few projects that I just completed before this blog posting, one last week of teaching my full assumption (which I can't believe is already over, since these kids were a blast!), and my late flight on Friday after a full day of teaching. I guess it isn't that bad, now that I have it written down...

Well, here's to a great marathon build up which all started in March when I was just coming back from an injury. I had planned to run the New York City Marathon, and changed my plans countless times which concluded in me to still run a marathon before the Trials. God only knows if this was a good choice. I feel that it is! Good luck to everyone else out there gearing up for a winter marathon!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hypothermic Shock, And A Few Weeks To Go

Well, another week in the books, or actually my running journal... Yes, I actually have a hand written running journal that I've kept up to date since college. I actually have every workout I've done since my junior year of high school. I may have to document them onto this blog someday, but until then, you get to read my thoughts instead of quickly referencing them in my trusted running journal. Besides, my workouts and mileage was about half as much as I am doing now, and very unimpressive.

So, this week started off pretty well with some decent mileage and early morning runs. I was a bit sore and tired from last weeks Sunday long run workout, so I postponed any real workouts until Thursday, which turned out to be a bad decision. I was planning on hitting one more high mileage week, but towards the end of the week I brought it down a bit. There was a lot of other things going on this week such as: a field trip to the ballon museum, a Thanksgiving luncheon, and another field trip to Kris' job at the Court of Appeals, and I had to house sit up in the Foothills. So, I was mentally burned out in an attempt to not lose any kids on these field trips... And I am proud to say, I have not lost a student yet, and we've had a lot of field trips this year (4 total). So, back to running... Thursday's workout went fairly well. I did 4x2 mile tempo repeats on the river. When I woke up at 5:20am, I did my normal routine of checking the weather and saw that the thermometer read 26 degrees! I didn't take much note to it and layered up, NOT according to the weather, but to limited clothing so that I would not be weighed down. This would be a huge mistake. I got out the door at around 5:35am and headed to the river to start my repeats. It was cold, but nothing too bad as I jogged very easy. Once I started my first rep in the dark, I hit a comfortable time of 5:23 and 5:13.

I don't know if you've ever done workouts in this temperature, but when you start breathing in that cold of air, while running, it doesn't make for the most pleasant feeling in your chest. I kept debating if I should cut the workout short and do the rest later, but as an overbearing and self conscience runner, I decided to just finish it. The next two sets where hit in (5:21, 5:23) and (5:19, 5:15). At this point I lost all feeling in my hands and had only one more set to complete. The pain in my hands was unbearable, but the next set would put me 2 miles closer to my house, and only leave me with a 2 mile cool down. I ran an unimpressive (5:21, 5:23) and once I finished I thought I had frostbite in my hands. I ripped off my watch from my left wrist, which inevitably was cutting blood circulation to my left hand and tried to hold the watch as I hobbled home in pain. I was actually fearing for my hands not to be lost to any type of frostbite. I knew it couldn't have been that serious, but when you are in that situation, you only think of the worst. I managed to get to my front door and pounded for someone to let me in, as I could not grip the door handle to open it. Scotty was still home and saved my life! I rushed to the stove, and Scott turned on the kettle to boil water for tea, and I stood in front of the heat, hoping to gain some kind of sensation back in my hands. At this point, my stomach was lurching up towards my throat and I felt as if someone had just done a jump kick into my stomach! Well, to make a short story long, I stood there for about 15 minutes, got some tea and laid down crying like a little girl, not really, but I might as well have. I finally composed myself, took a hot shower and felt the cold burn in my hands as they attempted to get blood back into them, and got ready for my 5th graders and their last field trip of the week.

After that ordeal on Thursday, I took the next few days easy and got ready for Sunday's long run workout. The long run would be an out and back run of 10 miles easy, turn around and complete 2x2 miles at tempo pace, then whatever left over to finish up a total run of 20 miles. I ran from my house heading north with a nice tailwind. Once I turned around to start my workout, I had that lovely tailwind turn into a headwind. I hit those 2 mile repeats in (5:13, 5:13) 2 minutes rest, then (5:18, 5:19). It wasn't that bad, but I sure felt like I was working hard into that wind. I think it was only going about 6-10 mph, but I could sure feel it! So, all and all, another great week. I'm looking forward to my peaking phase and running a great time at CIM!

Mon - pm. 10 miles easy
Tue - am. 10 miles easy
Wed - am 10 miles easy / pm. 10 miles easy
Thur - am. 4x2 miles at tempo (5:23, 5:13), (5:21, 5:23), (5:19, 5:15), (5:21, 5:23) total:12.5 miles / pm. 6 miles easy
Fri - pm. 14 miles med/easy
Sat - am. 12 miles easy + 2x hill strides / pm. 8 miles med
Sun - am. 20 miles in 2:10:28 w/2x2 miles at tempo (5:13, 5:13), (5:18, 5:19)

Total: 112.5 miles

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marathon Training (recovery week)

Well, after toiling in my own pity and realizing that I actually had a good race last weekend, I took this week as a recovery week and a time to mentally think about my next race, the California International Marathon in Sacramento. This race is about a month away and I am all set for it. So, this week only consisted of mileage and one long run workout on Sunday. There isn't much to write about the weekly training details except that it has been getting cold but the daylight savings has helped the morning runs as there is more light out between 5:30 - 7:00 am. So that is a nice treat. Well, I managed to get in 118 miles and a nice 24 miler on Sunday with some repeat miles in it. Sunday's run was a little torturous as I ran it on Tramway, which is up by the Foothills and is a rolling course at an elevation between 6300' - 6600'.

I ran an easy 7 miles with Kris and Pev, and then turned around to start my out and back run with 4x1 mile tempo repeats with 1 minute rest jog in between. The first 4 repeats were: [5:08, 5:13, 5:05, 5:14], then I ran an easy 7 miles and started another set of 4x1 miles over slightly hilly section of the bike path in [5:15, 5:18, 5:14, 5:38], yeah that last one sucked. I guess I could blame the massive hill for that one, but I wasn't too concerned about it as my effort was pretty similar to all the others in that set. I finished up whatever mileage I had left to round out the day with 24 and a quarter miles, or actually round down to 24 miles. So, that is that. CIM here I come!

Mon - am. 8 miles easy / pm. 8 miles easy
Tue - am. 10 miles easy
Wed - pm. 16 miles med/easy
Thur - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 12 miles easy
Fri - am. 12 miles easy / pm. 8 miles easy 2x hill strides
Sat - am. 8 miles easy / pm. 10 miles easy
Sun - am. 24 miles in 2:36:20, w/4x1 mile (5:08, 5:13, 5:05, 5:14), 7 mile easy, 4x1 mile (5:15, 5:18, 5:14, 5:38)

Total: 118

I've also figured out that in the last 20 weeks I've averaged 109 miles per week! It might not seem that high of mileage, but consider that I had some race weeks of 70's and 80 mile weeks, and some UP weeks in the 130's and a lifetime high of a 137 mile week. This isn't as high as some competitors that I know, but I am getting there.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

California International Marathon

The California International Marathon is coming quick, and I am still registered to race this 26.2 mile race. It was first started in 1983 as a marathon course for those looking to qualify for the USA Olympic Trials, hum... sounds a little familiar. Well, this is seriously the last chance to qualify, and I am sure a slew of guys and gals will be attempting to make their mark at this years event. The race is on December 4th, 2011 and as I sit here in my 5th grade classroom while my students work quietly, I am pondering how this race will transpire.

I have debated over and over again what the best method of approach would be to qualify and run a PR at CIM. At this point those lousy running formula calculators all give me a false sense of achievement. I know I can run a quick marathon time in the neighborhood of 2:17-2:19, based on my training and race performance at the half marathon. However, the full marathon is a completely different story than running a fast half and plugging that number into a calculator and BOOM a sweet time is not as easy as that. In order to achieve what I plan on doing, I could either attempt to run an even pace and hit the first half in around 69:20 and come back with about the same time to run a qualifier... Since I've been able to run a half all out in 65:26 by myself under this marathon training, running a smart half in the marathon at 69:20 could prove to be the best outcome. Although, every other time I've done this, it hasn't been good. I tend to fall apart and run about 3-5 minutes slower in the second half. So, that would be one way to race it and hope that I am much more stronger than I've been in the past.

Another approach that fits my personality better, would be to just GO FOR IT! I could go out with the leaders, or at around 67:30-68:30 pace for the first half and just hang on for dear life! I will be expecting the painful wall and lack of energy in my muscles, which is almost inevitable no matter what happens in the marathon, and just fight through it as I've been doing in all my training and racing! I've always looked at the marathon as a giant beast and I've failed at it because I've attempted to think about it too much and logically "pace" the race according to certain calculations that actually don't pertain to my abilities. This race is the last chance to make the trials for 2012 and I am not going to passively race it. I am going to do it. I'm going for it and if I fail, or even end up walking in the end, then so be it.

"Do or do not, there is no try."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon


Well, when you look at what I was attempting to accomplish, then it was a failure. Many great and positive things came out of this trip, but ultimately I did not succeed in what I was set out to do. I can also cry about this, but after a few days of thinking about this race, I tend to realize that there are more important things in life than a race. However, this was an important aspect in my life, and I wanted to succeed in it. So, what I will reflect on is the positive events, and throw in a few cynical comments to ease my suffering.

First, I can start by explaining how the week turned out. Monday was Halloween, and of course my little 5th graders were amped out of their minds for our party, which consisted of copious amounts of sugar! Candy bars, popcorn, donuts, super donuts (I don't need to explain), punch with ice cream sorbet in it (as if it doesn't need more sugar), fruit that was drowning in carmel, chips, junk, junk, and more junk... All and all, it was great for them, and I already decided to take the day off of running and attempt to mend a sore throat I had. Tuesday would be the only workout of the week, as I did a Fartlek on the River. The rest of the week was easy as I flew out to Indy on Thursday for the Saturday race. Kris Houghton and I left for one heck of an adventure.

Once we got into Indianapolis we got to the host hotel... but left shortly after to find a Whole Foods to stock up on provisions. Friday morning started off with a nice 5 mile run along the canals and some strides in front of the NCAA Hall of Fame Museum. That afternoon, Kris and I drove all over town looking for some racing flats for Kris. After that, we headed over to the Expo to get our race numbers, and meet Bill Rodgers. After Bill gave a nice speech, we stood in line to get autographs. We were about 4th in line, and Bill, as nice and outgoing as he is would talk to each person for nearly 5 minutes each. Once we got to Bill, I asked him about his experience with Henry Rono (my current roommate). Bill started talking to us about their race in San Blass, Puerto Rico and all sorts of other stories. He gave us some words of wisdom, and he's now one of my favorite runners of all time, just because of how sincere he was towards us. So.... as the night came to an end, and Saturday morning came I was ready to run a great race! Before the race we chatted with some old friends: Paul Howarth and Nate Pennington (who I finally got to meet, and is a great guy). I of course was ready to run a sub 65 minute half marathon, but things would prove differently.

As the gun went off, I found myself with 3 other Kenyans. I was planning on starting off slower than in San Jose, and work my way down. The first mile was 5:00, Perfect! Then I just kept it around that pace. The 3 other Kenyans didn't want to take the lead, and I was forced to lead since I was more concerned about time than place and money. The following splits were for the 2nd mile to the 10th mile are: [4:55, 4:56, 4:51, 5:09, 4:44, 4:52, 5:06, 5:06, 5:01] I came up on the 10th mile in 49:44 and felt 10 times better than in San Jose. I was on pace to break 65, and was ready to run this next 5k faster than the first 5k of the race. But to my complete and F***ing surprise I clicked off a 5:26 mile. When I saw that, I flipped out! I knew I hadn't slowed down that much, and there was no change in elevation on the course. It had to be wrong! It had to be too long! Either way, there was no explanation for it. I ran the next mile at 5:02 and knew I was out of it. Nothing was going to bring back 20 something seconds. My last mile I decided not to give up and blitzed my brains out for a 4:45 mile and a finishing time of 1:05:27. I missed it again. It was a course record, and I won some pocket money, but that's not what I wanted. Now I have to do CIM and qualify with no excuses!

Not as happy as I should've been, but a win is still something to be thankful for!


Training (week unknown...)

With one week before the Indy race I have quickly regained some speed and some solid workouts... all done before the sun rises of course. This was a relative "light" week, as I wanted to be fresh for the half marathon, as suppose to running 130 miles the week before San Jose. I want to have no excuses for this attempt at the "A" Standard! The only workouts this week were a track session of 1000m repeats, followed by a Saturday Tempo run at Anderson Fields, a favorite of mine, especially during the cold winter months.

Mon - am. 10 miles easy
Tue - am. 8 miles easy
Wed - am. 8x1000m w/400m rec. [3:14, 3:00, 3:05, 2:57, 2:54, 2:58, 2:54, 2:51] total: 10 miles / pm. 6 miles easy
Thur - pm. 14 miles easy
Fri - am. 8 miles easy / pm. 6 miles easy w/3x strides
Sat - am. 6 mile tempo [5:30, 5:23, 5:17, 5:19, 5:20, 5:11] total: 11 miles / pm. 6 miles easy
Sun - am. 14 miles medium effort

Total: 93 miles

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On the Bubble

At this point in the season, I've started to produce some decent workouts and feel like a different runner. I've also managed to get one rest day completely off of running during the week, but this is usually not planned, as I feel too tired to start my day off at 5am, get a run in, head to school to teach all day, then attend class all night. So the past few Tuesday's have been a "rest" day, as I only juggle two things around throughout my day, instead of three things. Although, I am still able to get in around 115 plus miles a week in 6 days, so I feel pretty strong.

The workouts are also going very well. On my easy days I feel like a slug, especially in the early morning darkness that starts each day. Just as the sun rises over the Sandia's, my pace increases and I start to feel energized by the coming of a new day. The soreness also dissipates from the body as I finish an easy 10 miler nearly every morning. I guess you could say I am a boring runner, but I feel completely happy getting in the miles needed to produce a fast marathon. I start to think about the most random things while running in the darkness. Most of the time it's about getting to the Trials, and getting to toe the line ready to run the race of my life. I know I only have 2 more chances to get there this year, but I would much rather prefer to make it 1 chance. And that 1 chance will be in Indianapolis.

At this point in my running career, I feel that I should be in Houston, running the US Olympic Marathon Trials, and be 100% ready to race. And just as most of my qualifying attempts in life; from qualifying for CIF prelims in high school, to getting the "B" standard in college to compete at the NAIA Nationals, to being one of the last runners to qualify for the USA Track and Field Championships, my sole goal was just to make it to Nationals. So, if I am forced to run a full marathon one month before the Trials to qualify, I will be the same runner I've been since high school... Just trying to make it into the big meet, and not in contention of doing well there. Although, things could change in the next 2 weeks...

I have an opportunity to control my own destiny by hitting the US Olympic Trials "A" standard on November 5th in Indianapolis for the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. If I can hit the time there, then I will not have to worry about running a full marathon to qualify, which I feel completely positive I can do, but don't wish to do one month before the trials. I would like to save a good marathon effort for the trials, and actually do very well there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

(Week 14) A new Path

So, outside of running, I've been leading my kids on some field trips and have been allowed to take over the classroom with more liberty. It's been a great experience, and allows me to venture away from running, which is very hard to do. When I'm in the classroom I think about running, when I'm running I think about lessons, so its a good trade off for now. I still feel pretty strong running hard and being at school and class all day, so this is a good sign in my opinion.

This week, I was very sore from the race. I decided to change the training up a little, so that it was geared towards running a fast half marathon in a months time. These next few weeks were suppose to be focused on peaking for the marathon and getting in some marathon specific workouts, but I need to shave 46 seconds off a 13 mile race... So I've kept things relatively simple. Some track workouts, and maintain the tempo runs and long run workouts with enough time in between workout days. This week of course is just a recovery week, and a time to watch the Chicago Marathon without having to worry about being there to gruel it out!

I ran easy all week and threw in a staple long run workout in on Saturday morning. A 22 miler with 4x1 mile at tempo effort with 1 minute rest, then 10 miles easy, and another 4x1 mile at tempo effort with 400m rest. I only got the first set of splits as my watch died, and they were (5:21, 5:14, 5:20, 5:20). It was a great workout and really put some crap back into my legs, which is just wanted I needed, but not what I wanted. I've also been obsessed with running 1:05 or fast, so that's all I've been thinking about, and all I've been trying not to think about (yeah, try to wrap that around your head...).

Week 14

Mon - am. 10 miles easy
Tue - am. 10 miles easy
Wed - am. 12 miles easy
Thur - am. 8 miles easy / pm. 12 miles easy
Fri - am. 10 miles easy w/3x strides / pm. 10 miles easy
Sat - am. 22 mile Long Run w/4x1 mile at tempo, 10 miles easy, 4x1 mile at tempo
Sun - am. 12.5 miles easy

Total: 106.5 miles

(Week 13) Re-Thinking the Trials... and San Jose 1/2 Marathon

Well, one of the fastest half marathon's of the year was at the end of this week. I should have been a little more serious about the last few weeks, but I was just excited to get out to California to race on a flat and fast course at sea level. I decided to take Monday off, as I usually do, and complete a pretty good workout on Wednesday, leaving the rest of the week for recovery leading up to the race.

Wednesday's workout was 2 sets of 3 miles easy - 3 miles at tempo. This was done at the river and some math was needed to figure out how we were going to get a warm up in from the house and complete this thing with enough time to get back home without overdoing the mileage. Well, the splits were (5:35, 5:17, 5:12) then the easy 3 miles and the other tempo was in (5:18, 5:18, 5:10). The first one was done in total darkness and it felt very weird trying to tempo without any idea of what was going on around us. Chris, Kris, Pat and I did this together, so we at least had each other (no homo!). Then the rest of the week was easy miles leading up the race that Kris and I went to.

I flew out to San Jose a few hours before Kris, and got a ride to our shady hotel, which was about 2 miles north of the starting line. Kris got a rental car and arrived a few hours later to pick me up so we could head over to the Expo and get our bibs. Once we arrived at the Expo and received out bibs, we had a chance to check out our comp! I thought, that since these Rock and Roll races bailed out on brining "elite" guys out to race and putting them up in hotels, and only paying 3 deep, that not many guys were competing. Boy was I wrong. Meb was here along with a whole slew of guys were racing! This was a good thing for me, since I figured these guys were going for the Olympic Trials Standard of 1:05:00. I could just hang on to the pack and go for a PR and a ticket to the Trials! So that got me pumped up.

We went out to dinner after my old roommate Robby Nelson came down to hangout with us from San Francisco. My parents also made the trip out to San Jose, so it was a great evening. I had to hit up the Old Spaghetti Factory, as well as the rest of the people racing in the half marathon. We also got a glimpse of Meb at one of the booths eating with his agent, whose also his brother. He was also sporting his new sponsored kicks - Skecters!

Once race morning came, the three of us (Robby, Kris and I) did a little shake out run and got ready to head down to the race. We got lost getting there, of course, but once we did we searched around for the elite VIP area, and posted our gear there. One funny thing happened when I was in line about to use one of the VIP porta-potties... Meb's brother/agent was in front of me, then decided to leave the line, at that moment I saw someone leave a porta-potty, so I approached it, but was called back by the brother/agent of Meb saying he was in line holding a spot for Meb... I just laughed on the inside and watched as Meb walked on by. I guess Olympians have special privileges. I wasn't bothered by it at all, as I thought it was funny, but I decided to turn the awkward situation around and introduce myself to Meb's bother, whose name was Howie. He was a nice dude, and after I told him who I was, he thought he heard of me before and also recognized me from last night at the restaurant. Either way, it was a neat little story I had.

So, one the race started I went out too fast and ended up leading my little pack of guys looking to qualify for the trials. Meb and a few other idiots went out hard, as Meb would be the overall winner. Most of the guys that went out with him died. I on the other hand ran like a fool! Out first mile was hit in 4:48, and the guy next to me, also named Jesse, asked if that was the first mile. I said, "yup", and he stated that he only wanted to run 4:55's and that, that last mile was okay for some "time in the bank". I agreed and decided to run with this guy and hit my goal. I could sense a gaggle of guys behind me, but didn't want to look back. Out next mile was hit in 4:59... much better. The pace was good now and I took water whenever I could. Once we crossed the 3 mile line I clocked off a 4:59 and heard about 20 other guys click off their watch splits. At that moment, I felt a strong clip on my foot as I got tripped up almost making contact with the San Jose pavement! I took a few awful stomps to the ground to regain balance so I didn't have to eat pavement and composed myself. Once that happened I took a fucking 180 look at who the hell did that and found out it was a guy I knew from college training with Meb in Mammoth. I don't think he got the message as he continued to draft off of me. I felt like hanging back and tucking into the pack after the 3 mile mark, but after the trip up, I had a stupid urge to "run away" from the traffic of guys all bunch up together. The 4 mile spilt was hit in 4:56, as well as mile 5. I got a small clip on the bottom of my shoes 2 more times by the same guy, and decided I had enough of this shit. I moved away from the pack to let some other dingleberry lead. And right at that moment, I had a feeling that I was leading for 6 miles and thought that these guys were going to hit their mark because of how stupid I was to lead them through on pace. Well, no one really took over, so I stayed right next to the other Jesse as we hit mile 6 in 4:54, then 4:57 and a 4:54. I started to fade after that, which forced someone else to lead and I attempted to hang on... It didn't work. I kept fading, and fading as I saw the group leave me to qualify for the Olympic Trials. I ended up in 11th place with a time of 1:05:46. 46 seconds from the standard, and it was all in the last 4 miles.

That group ended up hitting 1:04:42 - 1:04:52 with 6 new guys qualifying for the Trials, including the guy who tripped me, and the other Jesse. And, to cap the story off with a heart-warming-dream-come-true, the guy who tripped me proposed to his girlfriend at the finish line... How perfect!

Well, from that race I was expected to gear up for the New York City Marathon. I would have about 5 weeks to peak, but after coming soo close, I've decided to chase another qualifying time in the half marathon, and if need be, run a marathon in December. I've picked the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon in November, and the California International Marathon in December. I think it's a better decision than running New York City, so here goes another 8 weeks of marathon training. Marathon season is here, and has been extended!!!

Week 13

Mon - Off Day
Tue - am. 10 miles easy
Wed - am. (3 miles easy 3 mile tempo)x2 total: 14 miles / pm. 6 miles easy
Thur - am. 10 miles easy
Fri - am 10 miles easy / pm. 5 miles easy w/3x strides
Sat - am. 4 miles easy, travel to San Jose / pm. 4 miles easy w/4x strides
Sun - San Jose Half Marathon, splits (4:48, 4:58, 4:59, 4:56, 4:56, 4:54, 4:57, 4:54, 5:03, 5:11, 5:05, 5:21, ?:??) 1:05:46. 4 mile cool down. total: 20 miles

Total: 83 miles

Week 12

It's been a long time since I've updated this thing, but training is still going very strong and I've decided to compile the past few weeks into separate postings. This week is as follows with only 1 workout, on Thursday and a long run on Sunday.

Thursday's workout was done at 5:30am as usual, and on the bosque paved river path. It was a simple 4x2 mile with 2 minute rest jog. The splits were (5:26, 5:19), (5:17, 5:23), (5:15, 5:11), (5:19, 5:19). I felt really good and didn't want to push the last set too much. It's nice running at this time because when we head south on the river, we run past the Hispanic Culture Center and a Chile Roasting facility, which the aroma makes the air smell like chile heaven!

Sunday's run was just a 24 1/2 mile run from Nature Center to Corrales and back. I also got the time to Ice after the run once I got home. This week was designed to be a recovery week from the race, but it turned out to be a big mileage week for me, totally 131 miles. After looking back on it, I may have over did it, since the following week was a very important 1/2 marathon in San Jose, Ca.. Nevertheless, it was a good week and will only help me in the long run.

Mon - am. 8 miles easy / pm. 8 miles easy
Tue - am. 10 miles easy
Wed - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 10 miles easy w/2x hill strides, 2x strides
Thur - am. 4x2 miles total:12.5 miles / pm. 8 miles easy
Fri - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 10 miles easy w/5x strides
Sat - am. 12 miles easy / pm. 8 miles easy
Sun - am. 24.5 mile Long Run

Total: 131

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chips and Salsa Half Marathon & the road to NYC (Week 11)

Race week! Half Marathon race week that is, and it's at altitude, so it doesn't really feel like a race, but it fits in perfect for my marathon training, as I wanted to get in about 13-15 miles at marathon pace. Granted, this half marathon wasn't paced perfectly like workout, and money was on the line, so I raced it to a certain degree...

Well, the week starts off pretty easy with some mileage and one workout of an 8 mile continuous tempo run on the river, then a few regular mileage days followed by the Sunday extravaganza!

The workout on Wednesday was good old fashion tempo run of 8 miles. The pace was pretty even, for the most part, and the splits were (5:33, 5:22, 5:15, 5:26, 5:17, 5:16, 5:24, 5:18). That left me pretty tired for a few days, but with just enough energy to be ready to go on Sunday... The Chips and Salsa half marathon has turned into a classic meeting place for me since I've moved here. It's been a great experience and usually pays top 3; which I've come in 3rd the last two times I've run it in 2008 and 2010. This time, I was looking for a bigger check and a faster time; hopefully the better time would come first and the check would just follow. And it did, as I ran away with the victory and lead our Track Club to a 1-2-3 overall sweep! The Dukes Track Club ran a great race that day as Kris Houghton put's it best in our Dukes Track Club Blog. I have my splits as follows (5:06, 5:00, 5:06, 5:09, 5:14, 5:16, 5:07, 5:15, 5:25, 5:21, 5:26, 5:06) and one mile in there is missing...? Well, I finished with a time of 1:08:22, and good enough for that 1st place victory, a nice check, and a sweet metal plate made in Turkey!

Week 11

Mon - am. 10 miles easy
Tue - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 4 miles easy
Wed - am. 8 mile tempo (5:33, 5:22, 5:15, 5:26, 5:17, 5:16, 5:24, 5:18) total 12 miles / pm. 8 miles easy
Thur - am. 8 miles easy / pm. 12 miles easy
Fri - am 8 miles easy / pm. 6 miles easy
Sat - am. 12 miles med / pm. 4 miles easy
Sun - am. Chips and Salsa 1/2 Marathon 1:08:22 / pm. 6 miles easy

Total: 116 miles

Marathon Training (Week 10)

Another solid week of training, balanced with other hectic things in life...

Starting on Monday, I decided to sleep in a bit till 7:00 am and take the day off of running. This was planned, as I usually take one day off every three weeks. This week only called for two basic workouts, which would take place on Wednesday and one in the middle of the long run on Sunday.

Wednesday's workout was a somewhat complicated 3 mile tempo, 3 mile tempo and a final 2 mile tempo all with 3 minutes rest in between each tempo run. As usual, it was done on the river. Now, at 5:30 am it's starting to become hard to see as the sun doesn't rise this early anymore... This week wasn't too bad, but I'm sure the weeks to come will be pitch black as we're running our tempo runs. Nevertheless, it was a good workout with times of (5:30, 5:23, 5:16) for the first set, then (5:16, 5:14, 5:24) for the next 3 miles, followed by (5:16, 5:19). I usually slowed down on the last mile because I felt that I didn't need to push it and was really relaxed. The next few days were just mileage and recovery with some strides here and there. Sunday's workout was tough, but much needed to simulate the marathon. It was a 22 miler with about 3 1/2 mile warm up, followed by 2x2 miles at tempo pace with 2 minutes in between, then 10 miles easy and another tempo of 3 miles... Those splits for the tempo portion were: (5:14, 5:16), 2 minutes jog rest, (5:10, 5:20), 10 miles medium-easy effort, (5:14, 5:16, 5:22). Now, that was one of the toughest workouts I've ever done.

All and all, this was a great week filled with crazy workouts that make me want to stay in bed, but force me to rise to the occasion and stay the course!

Week 10

Mon - Off Day
Tue - am. 10 miles easy
Wed - am. tempo run: 3 miles, 3 miles, 2 miles w/3min rest (5:30, 5:23, 5:16) (5:16, 5:14, 5:24) (5:16, 5:19) total 13 miles/ pm. 10 miles easy
Thur - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 10 miles easy w/3x strides
Fri - am. 8 miles easy / pm. 12 miles easy
Sat - am. 9 miles med / pm. 10 miles easy
Sun - am. 22 miles w/2x2 miles at tempo (5:14, 5:16) 2 min jog rest (5:10, 5:20) 10 miles med/easy 3 mile tempo (5:14, 5:16, 5:22)

Total: 112

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Marathon Training & Cross Country (Week 9)

A little over due, but nevertheless, it's here... cross country season that is. Well, at least college cross country, the "real" cross country season doesn't start until the winter. So, to clarify some things, our Dukes Track Club put together a pretty solid cross country team to go up against some local colleges including the UNM Lobos. The Lobo Invitational, as it is rightly named, was held on Saturday. Before that, I had only one workout leading up to the race. The rest of the days were just easy miles and some strides here and there.

The workout was conveniently held around the Lobo cross country course, which is held on the UNM North gold course. The cross country course is a nice well groomed grass golf course with many angulating hills and quite a few turns. But, the tempo workout we planned was not on the course, but rather around it on a 2 mile dirt perimeter loop with some hills. The plan was a simple 20 minute tempo, then 10 minutes jogging rest, then another 20 minute tempo. I wore a garmin to get some mile splits, which were: 5:51, 5:26, 5:43, and 5:45 pace for the remaining half mile in the 20 minute segment. After that, we had a nice 10 minute rest and hit the 20 minute tempo again, with mile splits of: 5:46, 5:26, 5:41, and 5:32 pace for a little more than half a mile. It wasn't that fast, but a good workout over some different terrain.

The rest of the week leading up to the 8k cross country race consisted of easy runs and some strides. Once race day came on that Saturday, the Dukes Track Club had a full team, along with a few more guys totaling 10 guys. The meet wasn't scored, but we knew were going to score it once the carnage subsided. In my opinion, this was one of the best teams I've ever been on for a cross country team! The team consisted of the following with times and placing:

4th - Jesse Armijo 25:20
11th - Allen Wagner 25:47
12th - Neal Holtschulte 25:50
14th - Kris Houghton 25:56
17th - Soloman Kandie 26:04
37th - Chris Peverada 26:56
51st - Loren Wholetz 27:57
52nd - Mark Pepple 28:02
76th - Trevor Manzanares 31:05
79th - Dana Patton 33:58

With a 1st man to 5th man spread of only 44 seconds, this team beat out: Utep, New Mexico State, UNM and a few other's that aren't that significant... The race itself was pretty sweet, since out track club is a bunch of rag-tag road racers that don't give a crap of what other people think! So, as the race started, Kris took the lead with about 800m into the start. Allen and I crept up to make it a Dukes TC 1 through 3 through the mile. But after that, I got a little excited and took over for about a mile and got taken over to settle in 4th place. Most of the hilly and tangly course I remained in 4th, while getting past by some guys here and there. Towards the end, I was in 6th and was kicking with about 800m to go. At that point, I managed to take over 3 guys and found myself in 3rd place, yet once I got to that point another Kenyan/Utep runner flew by all of us to take 3rd; leaving me in 4th place. Nevertheless, after crossing the line in a time faster than my previous attempt on this course, I watched as more and more Dukes TC guys came barreling down the straightaway! After everyone came in, we tallied up the score and figured out we won... unofficially, since the meet isn't scored. Oh well, we had our glory. The next day was just an easy 22 miler, which felt hard as I was very tired.

Week 9

Mon - am. easy 10 miles / pm. easy 4 miles w/3x hill strides
Tue - am. easy 4 miles
Wed - am. tempo workout, total 12 miles / pm. easy 8 miles
Thur - am. easy 8 miles / pm. med 12 miles w/some strides
Fri - pm. easy 8 miles
Sat - 8k xc race, total 10 miles / pm. easy 8 miles
Sun - med/easy 22 miles

Total: 106

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Edmonton Half Marathon and Training (Weeks 7 & 8)

Well, it's been awhile since I've written anything, mostly due to a much more hectic schedule of Student-Teaching 5 days a week 8:30-3:50, one and final grad class on Tuesday nights, a thesis that hasn't been worked on in over a month, and pounding away 100 plus mile weeks! Either way, no excuses to get in the quality marathon training and posting. First and foremost will be the Canada trip a few weeks ago, then the training sessions that lead up to it and that preceded it to culminate weeks 7 & 8 of my New York City Marathon Training.

Edmonton, Canada.... that's all I have to say about that. Well, I guess I had a race, and I guess I got to wear a U.S. Jersey in what was considered to be an International Exhibition at the half marathon distance. This was a great experience for me to finally test my fitness after being injured over the winter months, and not getting a true gauge of my race fitness, until now. I was planning on racing the AFC Half Marathon, but decided to race Edmonton due to the flatter course, possibly better weather, and an opportunity to wear a US Jersey.

After the hectic ordeal of getting to Canada, going through customs, and not getting a ride to the hotel, I attempted to relax till race day. On race day, the weather was slightly warmer than expected, but the course was awesome! A nice out and back on relatively flat streets, made for a great race. A couple of Kenyans, Ethiopians and 3 Americans consisted of the elite field and for some decent times. Since we where in another country, they had kilometer marks, so I attempted to get 2k splits, but once the race started getting hard and my pace fell off my goal pace of 65 minutes, I started taking 1k splits. I also managed to miss a couple kilometer splits and got a 4k split. The following times are my splits:

[6:21, 6:28, 5:51, 6:12 (24:53-8k), 6:12 (31:06-10k), 12:49, 2:54, (46:50-15k), 3:19, 3:13, 3:05, 3:18, 3:19 (1:03:12-20k), ?:??] Total time: 1:06:28

It didn't go too bad, and I was happy with my performance. Again, it's a great indicator to where I'm at and how I'm progressing towards the Marathon.

Week 7 Training:

Mon - am. 6 miles easy
Tue - am. 4x2 mile at tempo pace (10:53, 10:49, 10:40, 10:42) total: 13 miles / pm. 6 miles easy
Wed - am. 12 miles easy / pm. 6 miles easy
Thur - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 4 miles easy w/4x hill strides
Fri - am. Travel to Edmonton / pm. 6 miles easy
Sat - am. 4 miles easy w/3x strides on the grass
Sun - am. half marathon race. Total: 18 miles / pm. Travel Home

Total: 85 miles

The next day I couldn't believe how sore I was. I was lucky enough to get a massage on Monday after teaching, and the soreness would slowly subside throughout the week with more miles. I was a bit hesitant to do a workout this week, and didn't think I'd be able to finish the planned tempo session. But, the body can prove the mind wrong. The workout was scheduled on Thursday, which was ample time for my quads to stop aching, and the session was 4x1 mile at tempo pace with 1 minute rest, followed by 5 minutes rest, then 3x1 mile at tempo pace. With "only" 7 miles at tempo pace, I still thought I should just do the first 7, and call it. Yet, once the workout started with the help of Kris Houghton and Soloman Kandie (Kenyan), we were able to get it done quite fast... At least, fast for me.

Sunday was another workout in our long run. Again, the temperature crept into some dangerous highs, but we were able to get it done before it got too hot. The long run would have us: warming up for 4 miles, then straight into 4x1 mile repeats at tempo pace/effort, then 60 minutes easy to medium pace, then a 3 mile continuous tempo, and whatever remained of the 22 miler, which was about 1 1/2 miles.

All in all, this week was a little tough as I had to get back into the teaching rhythm and recover from the race along with some workouts. But, I'm feeling strong, and the workouts are transitioning towards more marathon specific workouts without much "speed" oriented work. The only speed work will be done through strides, which I'll be combining both hill strides and flat fast strides. Most of this stuff will be at goal mile pace, or in my case, dream mile pace (4:00 minute mile). This is actually pretty easy as they're done at a distance of less than 200m.

Week 8

Mon - am. 8 miles easy
Tue - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 4 miles easy
Wed - am. 8 miles easy / pm. 10 miles easy
Thur - am. 4x1 mile at tempo, 5 min rest, 3x1 mile at tempo (5:24, 5:13, 5:17, 5:18) (5:14, 5:07, 5:10) total: 12 miles / pm. 8 miles easy
Fri - am. 2 miles dead tired / pm. 12 miles med/easy
Sat - am. 12 miles med
Sun - am. 22 miles w/4x1 miles at tempo, 60 min rest, 3 mile tempo (5:30, 5:25, 5:30, 5:25), (5:32, 5:27, 5:26)

Total: 108

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Edmonton - Canada (Canadian Derby Edmonton Half Marathon)

Well, it's day 2 here in Edmonton and it's been a pretty pleasant ride. There hasn't been too much to talk about after being here for about 24 hours, but it's definitely a nice place. The flights here were fine without incident, and getting a ride to the hotel could be the only adventurous event that occurred since I had no idea which hotel I was going to, and no one was there to pick me up. But, other than that it has been fine compared to the other Americans getting here. My roommate, Joesph Chrilee is another story. His flight arrived at midnight and had no one to get him. Fortunately, he bummed a ride to the hotel, but had to pay for his night. I met up with him at around 11am when he knocked on my hotel door. After I heard about his late night experience of Canada, we went for an easy run on some grass fields. A much different run, from what I experienced yesterday. This was a nice and easy 30 minute pre-race day run with some strides, as oppose to the scavenger hunt run I went on yesterday.

Yesterday, I planned on running by some quintessential Edmontonian landmarks and a few other general spots I might find useful, such as a grocery store and a restaurant. The path I plotted out on google maps seemed simple on the computer screen, but once out on the roads, it was a little more hillier than I'd prefer. Nevertheless, I found what I was looking for and ended up out of the town, across a river and onto some nice rolling trials through the forest. One thing I didn't expect was the abundance of mosquitoes here in Edmonton, and neither did the locals. On the last two runs, which totaled less than 90minutes, I've been bitten 6 times. I figure they haven't had some American blood in a long time...

Well, tomorrow is race day and I'm feeling good, we'll just have to see how good I'm feeling once the gun goes off.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Marathon Training (Week 6)

Boom! Another week in the books. This was also suppose to be a slight down week with two decent workouts, an easy long run, and my first week of student-teaching at the elementary level. Well, the student-teaching started midweek and it was just setting up the classroom and a few parent teacher conferences. Although, it was a bit demanding as my daily routine will have to start even earlier now. Either way, I decided to take this week slightly down and the following week of the race a bit easy as well. I capped the week off with 111 miles and some confidence with those two workouts.

After taking a much needed rest day on Monday after that God Forsaken La Luz trail "race", I had a pretty productive 6 mile tempo run on Tuesday on the river, followed by some rest days, a speed workout on Friday and a medium effort 20 miler on Sunday. The tempo along the river was great, especially since I got to allow my legs some turnover from beating myself up on that trail race. I averaged 5:22 for the distance and got to steeple a few barriers along the way. The mornings here in Albuquerque are starting to cool off and stay cool for a longer duration of the morning. It's either that perception, or that fact that I'm starting earlier... But, summer is winding down, and the beautiful months of fall are approaching, along with the tempered climate. After a few easy days of running and some strides, Friday's session was an exciting one. Getting back on the track is nice, and the track never lies. So the workout was 8 x 1000m with 400m recovery jog. The last time I was on the track I did 1000 meter repeats, so naturally it would be nice to hit them faster. You can really get caught up in time and comparison to other track workouts, which I may have done. However, I had a great workout and felt good for the rest of the week, including the long run, which was done at the river. The long run took place at Alameda, and we headed north into the Bosque trail, which is shaded and has plenty of turns on soft pack dirt. The 20 miler was a nice run to end the week.

Next week is the Edmonton Half marathon, and I'm getting pretty excited for it. I know it's going to be fast, and there'll be plenty of fast guys to hang with. Since the USA uniform arrived on Friday, I'm very anxious to put it on and get after it! Nothing like some friendly competition to get the blood flowing for a PR.

Mon - Off Day
Tue - am. 6 mile tempo (5:20, 5:19, 5:18, 5:25, 5:24, 5:23, 5:14) total: 12 / pm. 8 easy
Wed - am. 8 miles easy / pm. 12 miles med.
Thur - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 5 miles easy w/4x hill strides
Fri - am. Track 8x1000m w/400m jog recovery (3:08, 2:59, 3:00, 2:59, 3:00, 3:00, 2:59, 2:56) total: 11 miles / pm. 10 miles easy
Sat - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 5 miles easy w/5x hill strides
Sun - am. 20 miles med.

Total: 111

Monday, August 8, 2011

Training (Week 5)

After seven more days of running, I've finally finished my highest mileage week ever. Not much excitement occurred this week as I just did mileage, one speed workout, and an uphill race which was incorporated into my long run on sunday. The only speed workout this past week was a fartlek workout at Bullhead park. The usual 5-4-3-2-1 done twice was a nice bit of change from the usual intervals done in the past. Bullhead park is a nice 2 mile loop (1.8 miles to be exact) over wet grass, dirt, and very few bits of pavement. This speed session was done on Wednesday with a pretty decent group of guys. After that workout, the rest of the week was just mileage leading up to the famous La Luz Trail Run on Sunday.

When the Trail Run came around, I was planning on warming up a few miles, then racing the 9 mile up-the-mountain "race", then add on at the top. The race starts at 6000' and climbs up to 10,678'. This was my second year doing it, and it's a very nice thing to be a part of. Kris Houghton won the race, of course, and I have trouble climbing and running over the rock slide but ended up finishing 4th overall. The Dukes cleaned house with a 1-4 finish on the mens side! It was pretty sweet, even though we didn't have our new uniforms yet... Well, once we got some fluids and food in our systems at the top, we added on about 5 miles then headed down the mountain to an after race party, which was very nice with more delicious food and beer with great people. Later that afternoon, I added on 5 more easy miles to shake out the days work, and ended the week with 137 miles! Now begins a slight taper for a very exciting race...

The exciting race was kind of a last minute thing as I've been selected to represent the US at an unofficial USA verse Canada international challenge road race! This will be my first time putting on a USA Jersey and competing on a USA team! The race will be held in Edmonton, Canada, in the Providence of Alberta. The race distance will be a half marathon, and it's suppose to be flat, fast and cool on August 21st. I've checked out the course, and it looks promising! But, what's more promising is the fact that I get that coveted USA jersey. Since this isn't an "official" USA team, I don't get to wait for the elusive brown boxes that arrive on your doorstep full of USA Gear... I just get a pair of shorts and top, but that's all I need to race in!

So, all in all, this has been a great week and now I start to freshen up.

Mon - am. easy 10 / pm. easy 5 w/4xhill strides
Tue - am. easy 10 / pm. easy 10
Wed - am. fartlek 2x 5-4-3-2-1 total:12 / pm. easy 8
Thur - am. easy 12 / pm. easy 8 w/3xhill strides
Fri - am. easy 10 / pm. easy 10
Sat - am. med 12 / pm. easy 8
Sun - am. 17 up La Luz / pm. easy 5

Total: 137

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Marathon Training (week 4)

One month of solid training has proven to been very successful so far. A couple of milestones occurred this week, which I feel proud of. First off, I finished up my summer school classes for grad school and only have my thesis and student-teaching to finish up by December. This summer encompassed 2 huge classes that I never thought would end, but thank God it's over... for now. I guess it was slightly easy to focus these past few weeks, as Laura is in Europe on vacation, which gives me sometime to sit in front of a computer and get shit done, as well as nap, since this weeks mileage tied my highest week ever.

So, after starting the week off with some easy miles, I only had 2 major workouts for the week. 6x1 mile repeats on Wedesnday and a long run with 2x2 miles at tempo pace on Sunday. I've been playing around with caffeine before major workouts and instead of focusing all my research attention towards my thesis, I decided to find some articles that supported caffeine consumption before endurance activity. As everyone knows, caffeine is a psychoactive ergogenic stimulant that helps with endurance athletes. My question was how much is beneficial, and how much is too much for what can be considered a dependent stimulant? Since I don't consume much caffeine on a daily, or weekly bases, I figured I might as well start! As of a few weeks ago, I started double brewing black tea for my pre-workout caffeine consumption; and in long runs, I'd use GU with caffeine, as I have in the past. The black tea only produces about 40mg of caffeine per brew, so it totals about 80mg of caffeine. The GU has about 35mg of caffeine in it. So what the heck does this mean...? Well, the scholarly study that I found (2007 Sports Medicine Australia) basically made it clear that with "well trained" athletes in the 5km would have a 1% improvement with the use of 5mg of caffeine per kg of body weight 60 minutes prior to their time trial. Well, that doesn't quite help me if I want to do well in a workout that may last 4 times that time frame, or in a race. With my weight I may have to consume around 300mg of caffeine before any type of "hard" workout or race. But, regardless of the caffeine intake, there's staggering amounts of evidence that show with any amount of caffeine consumption provides benefits, as caffeine is a psychoactive drug that acts as a blockade to the central nervous system receptors and effects perceived levels of fatigue. So, basically, it's helping when I use it during and before workouts.

So, with all that, the mile repeats on the river where great. A bunch of us met at Nature Center at 6am, did a little warm-up and started the workout. I was able to hit them in (4:59, 4:53, 4:53, 4:53, 4:55, 4:51) with 4-5 minutes jog rest in between. The next workout was actually a sushi eating "contest" Saturday night before the long run... 5 of us: Mark, Chris P., Pat, Dana and myself went to this sweet all you can eat sushi place and just pigged out while tallying how many pieces we ate. The final tally over the 3 hours and to the best of my recollection: Chris P. - 50 pieces, Pat - 50, Mark - 45, Me - 38, Dana - 32. Then of course Sunday came around and we had a 20 miler with the 2x2 miles at tempo pace/effort. A nice and easy 5 mile warm-up was followed by the first segment in 10:30, then 2 minutes easy jogging and a 10:25 for the final 2 mile portion, followed by the remainder of a little more than 10 miles. All and all, it was a nice week of 130 miles.

Mon - am. 10 easy
Tue - am. 12 easy / pm. 8 easy
Wed - am. 6x1 miles (4:59, 4:53, 4:53, 4:53, 4:55, 4:51) total: 12 / pm. 8 easy
Thur - am. 10 easy / pm. 10 easy
Fri - am. 10 easy / pm. 10 easy
Sat - am. 11 med/easy / pm. 9 easy
Sun - am. 20 w/ 2x2 miles at tempo w/2min recovery (10:30, 10:25)

Total: 130

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Marathon Training (Week 3)

Another week for the books. This was a down week and felt really nice to recovery all throughout the week. I got a good 60 hours of sleep this week, and still managed to get some work done towards my Master's Thesis. This week only had one real workout on the track, and an "easy" long run on sunday. All and all, it was a good week and now I'm already into full swing towards another "up" week.

Mon - off day
Tue - am. 10 easy / pm. 8 easy
Wed - am. 12 easy / pm. 4 easy
Thur - am. 10x1000m (3:09, 3:07, 3:06, 3:07, 3:03, 3:05, 3:02, 3:00, 2:59, 2:54) total 14 / pm. 4 easy
Fri - am. 12 easy / pm. 4 easy
Sat - am. 9 med / pm. 6 easy
Sun - am. 21 med/easy

Total: 104

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Marathon Training (Week 2)

Well... another good week under my belt. This week topped out at 122 miles for the week for the 2nd week of this 18 week cycle (that's a lot of "week" words in there). It seems to be going very well with my trusty Daniel's Running Formula at my side, along with the support of our Dukes Track Club runners! This week, aside from miles, were two major workouts: 10x800 meters with 400m jog recovery on Thursday, and a Long Run with 5x1 miles at Tempo pace/effort; since we're at altitude, on sunday.

The 800's went well as we averaged 2:23.8 starting at 2:30 and coming down to 2:15 for the last one. Then friday came, and a couple of us decided to head up to Taos for a nice midday run through the busy tourist ski town. It was hot, and none of the trials were open as Chris Peverada and I ran on some side roads. Unfortunately, this side road took us straight towards the Taos Pueblo. Once we got to the entrance of their Pueblo with a Native Taos Pueblo Indian directing traffic and collecting money for parking, we decided to turn around and head out. But, we were quickly stopped, as we are not allowed to: walk, run, or ride bikes on the Taos Pueblo land. We had to wait 40 minutes for public transportation to take us off their "land". Once that ordeal was over, we finished our run around town and called it a day with only 8 miles in. I was livid! So, sunday finally came along and a decent group of us did our long run tempo workout. 20 miles total with a 4 mile warm-up before the fun began. Four of us worked together for about 3 1/2 of the 5 miles. The first one was hit in 5:29, then 5:23, 5:17, 5:17 and 5:08 for the last one. This was all done on the Bosque Bike Path by the river, so it was flat and nice. Once we finished our tempo, we ran 1/4 mile to make the total distance of 10 miles from where we started. We had a nice 10 mile cool down back to end the week.

All in all, it's another great week, with a recovery week coming starting on monday.

Mon- easy 10
Tue- am. easy 10/ pm. easy 8 w/4xstrides
Wed- am. easy 12/ pm. easy 6
Thur- am. 10x800m total: 11 / pm. easy 8
Fri- am. easy 8 / pm. easy 10
Sat- am med/easy 11 / pm. easy 8
Sun- am 2o miles w/5x1 miles @ tempo w/1min rec.

Total: 122

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Marathon Training 18 weeks till NYC (week 1)

So, last week was a great week of training with some good workouts in it. I had to reassess my mileage plan since our new roommate Chris Peverada moved in with an all time high mileage count of 229 miles for a week. So, I had originally planned my peak mileage to be 120 miles with my first week of marathon training at 95 miles... That changed in mid week. I had one track session of 16x400m on thursday and a long run with 4x2 miles at tempo pace/effort. I increased my easy runs and got to 118 miles last week for my first week of marathon specific training.

It felt pretty good as I was only going to hit that mileage 3 times during my previous marathon plan. This plan is going to be great with a few half marathons leading up to NYC marathon! I'm hoping to hit the OT marathon qualifier in either a half or in the full this coming fall. We shall see how it pans out as I'll try to post weekly reflections on my training. As of now, its going well, and I already feel strong. Looking to run very fast this coming fall, thanks to Jack Daniels the PhD. guy, not the drink. His training has influenced me, and my 18 week build up for New York City is based on his running formula.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another Crazy Week

Well, after a decent track workout on Tuesday, I was ready to put in a hard effort on the trails for a half marathon in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This was looking like a pretty good week, with a tune-up speed work at the UNM track. Just some 400's in 65 seconds, and the rest of the week as mileage leading up to Saturday's race as a Tempo effort, since it will be on the trails.

So, after not having class on Friday, my roommate Loren and I head up to Colorado to camp, race and meet some nice mountain folk. A nice 4 hour drive and we are in Pagosa Springs checking in to receive our race packet. After that, we head out of this quaint little town towards the race start, and park my 4Runner at the designated trailhead for an easy 8 miles on the course. The altitude is at a lush green 7300' with lovely pine trees and single track trails heading up to about 7800' to where the cows are at pasture. We run easy, spotting a few wild creatures on the trail, and hope to see some Turkey, since the name of the half marathon/marathon is the Turkey Track Marathon and Half Marathon. But, none are spotted. We turn around and head back to my truck to get the camping gear, as we are going to set up camp by the start on a nice little snipers hill... Once that's accomplished, we head back to town for dinner.

We narrowed it down to two options for dinner, (1) go to the pre-meal dinner for ribs and pasta at a outrageous tourist price, or (2) head to the grocery store and pick up provisions for dinner and post race munches. We decided on the latter, and grabbed a bunch of grub for a reasonable price. The next few decisions would turn this trip into a crazy adventure...

We had the food for dinner, but needed a place to eat. So instead of just eating in the parking lot, we found an open pasture. We finished up our meal, and had to find a place to dispose of our trash. The most logical place would be the nearest gas station. We see one a discription cross the highway and head through the intersection. This is where some; for lack of a harsh description, women, coming from the opposite lane decided to turn her car directly at us and slam into my driver side door and wheel well! She had no turn signal, and zero thought of braking as she haphazardly struck my vehicle. The police showed up instantly, and took a report, as they suspected her of being under the influence, as her last known location was a restaurant bar. Luckily, no one was hurt, but I'm sure she just didn't know what the hell was going on, since her drunken ass stayed in the car for over 30 minutes as she complained that she's on new medication for her high blood pressure. Anyways, the police wrote her a ticket for negligence, and who knows what else.

After that ordeal, my truck got towed to a auto shop at around 11pm. The damage was a busted up driver side fender, a door that won't shut all the way, and for some apparent reason, my rear tire blew up and deflated. So, I needed realignment done to the front tire, and a spare tire on the back. I would make due with the door. We were out of there and barely driving back to our campsite by midnight. I parked my truck were the start would be, and we hiked up to hill to the tent for a brief nights rest before the race.

About 6 hours later, we woke up to race volunteers setting up and rocking out to some music. We broke down the tent and marched down the hill in plain sight as the early race participants and volunteers were snickering as we packed our gear back into my beat up looking Toyota 4Runner. By the scrutinizing eyes scanning us and the damage of my truck, all they needed to see was our New Mexican license plate to make sense of the entire situation. Once that ended, Loren and I warmed up and got ready for the race to start.

Once the signal for us to start occurred, we headed up the longest hill of the entire race within the the first mile. I took over the lead and kept it all the way to the first aid station at around mile 4.8. I kept looking at my watch and to figured out my pace as I made it to the aid station. With the hill and the gradual downhill and other slight hills, I figured I would be around 6:10 pace or so and be at the aid station in around 30 minutes. And I was there as estimated. This is where things continued to worsen for me. I was suppose to make a turn to start a loop, but missed it and ran off towards the Full Marathon course. I didn't see any markers until it was too late, and I was at the wrong aid station. At the time, I thought I was at the right station and asked which way to go, instead of asking them "is this the half marathon course?". They sent me off in what looked like the correct route, with landmarks described to me in detail. I kept running, and running, looking at my watch wondering when am I going to see some familiar trails? The watch kept ticking away well past my project time of around 1:20 for the 13.1 miles on trails. Once I got to about 1:26 I just figured this course could be much harder than I anticipated. But I finally reached another aid station. A full marathon aid station...

The volunteer there told me they've been looking for me and that the quickest way back was to follow the trail directly to the right heading south. I ask how far is it back and he told me "5 miles."! I had easily gone 13 miles at that point, and just figured this might as well serve as my long run... So I got on the trail and headed back to the finish. I was greeted with very apologetic race crew and congratulated me on winning the "30k race". It was pleasant to be back and see that Loren won as he was getting a massage. I knew, that if I couldn't win, at least Loren can win this thing! And, only after a few moments of refueling, I started to feel pretty tired. So, I stubbled back to my self reflection of a motor vehicle, as my truck looked the way I felt. Slightly leaning to one side, with a tore apart frame, a borrowed tire, and a look of satisfaction that it's finally over... but not quite. We still had the drive home, which was uneventful and windy. All in all, it was still a grand adventure, and Loren and I took home some hardware, as the winner received a small statue of a man running, made out of railroad iron stakes and Turkey looking feet! I got just got a Coke for my first experience of a trail half marathon!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Another Week

I've finally got some decent mileage in and can't wait to get ready for a good marathon build up for the fall. I've only got the rest of this month to mess around with mileage and whatever races I feel like doing until I'll follow a specific Jack Daniels Marathon plan that I devised, which will not involve drinking heavily amounts of the Brand Whisky... I believe it's going to force me to train specially for the marathon and not allow me to venture off on another tangent of random races; which I've done in the past and ended a "season" on a marathon. This time, starting July, I'll just pound our marathon workouts, and the end goal will be a nice race finishing in Central Park in November.

Although, this week didn't go as well as I'd liked, I still got some good workouts in. The track workout on tuesday was a pleasant taste of some speed, which I haven't touched in a very long time. My tempo workout on friday was a little hectic as a large forest fire in easter Arizona created massive smoke inhalation throughout New Mexico. This forced me to save my lungs form inundating them with smoke, and move my tempo workout onto the treadmill. This wasn't something I was completely pleased about, but it was kind of nice to try something new. I just ran 6 miles at tempo effort, and it went really well as I started off at 5:40 and came down to 5:22. I averaged 5:34 pretty comfortably, and was very happy with that. Although, this hard effort would take its unknowingly toll on my long run on sunday with some of the guys. That long run was only 17 miles; the longest I've run since my injury, and by the time we hit 14 miles, I started to fade as the rest of the gang started to hit their stride and drop some quicker miles on me. Nevertheless, I was still happy with it and will continue to increase my mileage as the USA Outdoor Championships approach.