Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year on the Horizon

Well, as the new year approaches, I've been starting to hear a lot of people make affirmations that things are going to change once the clock strikes midnight.  I feel almost the same way as I sit here with a bout of sickness and lack of mileage being tallied away on the scoreboards.  But I do know, that after the last marathon I experienced and the minimal training that took place once I found out that I wouldn't be racing in New York City occurred; I should be stepping up my game and producing more miles.

I don't feel that there is a motivational factor going on, I feel there is a draining factor that sucks the life out of me.  Something sucking my will to live...  And of course it's stemmed to those ungrateful kids I teach...  I hate to type it, but I am exhausted after a day with them, and if I somehow knew how these kids were, I would have never taken that position.  It's a bad thing to say, but I can't comprehend how evil 9 year olds can be to one another.  I know I am the teacher, and I'm suppose to teach them right from wrong; which is why my soul gets sucked from my barely standing body each day I pry two children away from each other as they torment their lives just to make themselves feel better...

Well, I will try not to complain publicly anymore and express that the good news is that with the new year, I am halfway done with teaching, and fully aware of the problems parents have on their hands, or lack of parenting.  I just need to find a way to not be as drained from work, and run more!  Now that problem, seems to be a problem in itself...   Do I start to care less?  Do I just quit, as many staff members have this year?  Or, the one solution I've been missing - run in the mornings and evenings!  Run even when I'm tired, because it's only going to make things better!  My new plan of action will be to just run as much and as often as possible, and before I know it, Spring will be here and Freedom will be upon the Horizon

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Olympic Trials Marathon Standards

How do I start this post:

A) So, the new Standards are out, and many people are a bit discouraged with the bar being raised once again.

B) Why does the usatf want to cripple our sport when the options are right in front of their face to improve our fan base and public interest?  Does running a 2:18/2:43 really make those that are seeking participation and interest in our sport increase their efforts and rise to those new standards?  As if, because having an "easier" time standard will automatically make runners only run what's expected of them.  I don't think so.

C)  Bring it on!!!  Keep raising that bar, and just try to keep me out!  Cause, I ain't backing down and would love to hit that "A" standard to run another great race all on your dime usatf!  (Actually, it's the host city that pays for it, the usatf doesn't do jack shit for the runners, except tell us what to wear in the race).

D) WTF?!?!  Why excluded all those potential runners, families, and fans?!?!  Let's close down an entire city, block off all the streets and let 50 runners occupy it, because they felt that in the last 4 years all they wanted to do was have a chance to make the Olympic Team and represent their country!

E) All of the above wrapped and warped into one giant post.

Well, either way, all the talking and posting on Letsrun or tweets (I don't tweet) isn't going to change the time standards.  And, in a selfish kind of way, I don't feel impeded by the new standards.  I do feel disappointed though.  I knew this was coming, and knew the idiotic thought process behind the usatf and their perception of squeezing down on the lifeline that feeds them - the runner.  They (usatf) feel that by increasing the time standards, they are raising the bar, when in fact they are just pulling down the shades and blocking out the light!  The more they keep excluding runners, jumpers, and throwers, the less and less people will care about them and move onto more inclusive activities.  There is no need to push away all those talented runners.  And in my opinion, I'd rather see a bad runner have the opportunity to race in the trials, than a good runner out on the sidelines.

The new times are:

A Standard: 2:15 Men / 2:37 Women
B Standard: 2:18 Men / 2:43 Women
Alt. B Standard 1:05 half marathon Men / 1:15 half marathon Women

All I know, is that a lot of good runners will be left out, and I'm not going to wait until the last minute, or in my case, the last week to qualify.  My goal is also the "A" Standard.  So, when the window opens on August, 1st, there'll be a surge of runners going after it!  Good Luck to us all, and hope to hear that you're training hard and ready to race! 

Recovery and Reflection

Well, the worse performance of my life was this past weekend at the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon.  A combination of all events in my life from August until the finish of that race was the greatest indicator of how I felt.  Excitement, chaos, turmoil, frustration, anger, happiness, relief, and finally...... acceptance.  All this, crammed into 26.2 miles, is that normal or even possible?  Well, when you run that slow (for me), then yes!  I guess I'm not as down on myself as I could've been, since the New York City Marathon was cancelled, I was just going through the motions.

I've always been told, and have used this saying in my classroom that, "you learn more when you fail".  Well, I guess the only thing I learned was the fact that miles are VERY VERY IMPORTANT! As well as the motivation to race hard.  After the New York City marathon was cancelled, I guess my thought to run another race kind of floated away.  I thought I was excited to race a marathon, and hopefully win one, but once I re-upped my training, and fortitude to go one more month, I guess the fire was already dwindling away.  As for racing in Vegas, that city just isn't a place I'd want to be in for more than 24 hours.

So, as the long run soreness escapes my body, along with the self-pity, I am starting to refocus on my next training cycle and what I need to fix.  I finally wrote up a plan; actually, two plans, and will be running again by the end of this week.  Since I am still busy with school, and dealing with the fact that these 3rd graders need me more than I need them, I will attempt to keep my mileage at 90 miles a week.  It's not in the same neighborhood as most of the other "elite" runners out there, but it's all I can manage.  And I feel that with that, along with key workouts; the Boston Marathon will be a success!

A side note on the crazyness happening in my class...  One of my students' dad was found dead in a burning car in the Bosque (forest area by the Rio Grande).  That is the second family member death this year from one of my students...  It's a different world down there (Los Lunas), as most of these incidences are Drug related.  'Breaking Bad' is a reality, and I'm here worried about getting mileage in for a leisurely marathon.   

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sin City

As another marathon approaches, I wait for some kind of cancellation sign to warn me not to show up in Las Vegas.  Yet, the only sign I will be noticing is the iconic neon "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign that illuminates the strip.  And the Strip is exactly where I'll be at 3pm this Sunday.  It was a bit hard for me to pick another marathon, since I am already hyperactive about picking my next race.  So, once New York was cancelled, I had to, and got to, choose where I could race next.  The thought of not racing also entered my mind, but after the first couple of months at my new job, and the balancing act of training that goes with an Über crazy job, I somehow feel that I owe myself a race.

So, after my last tiny workout of the week, I feel very excited to get out there and just gruel through 26.2 miles.  I have no idea who'll be toeing the line, but I'm pretty confident no "big" names will be there.  The only thing I want to do, is run a conservative race, and enjoy myself out there.  I can only hope I have the fitness and fortitude to win this race, as I've never won a marathon in my life.  The Las Vegas Rock and Roll marathon will be my 6th marathon, and if I can pull off the "W", that would be an impressive accomplishment.  I guess, I could plan 100 scenarios, but once the gun goes off on the Strip, I'll make my best assessment and race with the best intentions to Win.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

17 days out from the 17th of October and Duke City Half Marathon

I am a little late posting this, but it was intended to be posted on the 17th of October...

Well, 17 has always been my lucky number, and on this iconic day of my birth, I look 17 more days until the New York City Marathon.  I think the one mistake many runners make is the constant self-assessment of their training.  I too have fallen victim to my own observation as I've created an eyeglass into the past months calculating what went well and where I went wrong with my training.  I've already pinpointed it to when I started my teaching job, and the immense amount of time spent at school.  I could go further back to the summer heat that kept me comfortably away from logging mega miles.  Either way, I still feel the fitness is there and I can run a great race considering the circumstances.  I will (and have run a half marathon) on October 21st, as part of the Duke City Marathon weekend, and my last big marathon workout.  I planned on racing it as a marathon pace workout, and the success of it couldn't have been better.

The Duke City Half Marathon:

From the start of this race I had two goals: 1) to run it as a workout, 2) win it.  Once the gun went off at 7:30 am, I took the lead and started to keep a comfortable pace.  My first mile in the Duke City was 5:23, and right away I could feel two Africans sitting on me.  I didn't want to worry too much about it, since I was just going to run my own race, but deep down it really bugs me, especially since there's no money involved in this race.  Why wouldn't you want to work together and run a decent time together?!  Well, this guy didn't want to help out at all.  I lead the next 6 miles in, 5:21, 5:19, 5:17, 5:12, 5:17 & 5:12.  After mile 7, and after one of the African's faded, the Moroccan put in a good surge on me over the next 2 miles.  I could only maintain a 5:21 and a 5:20 for the next miles.  Also at this point in the race, the half marathon flips around and runs back into the crowd of other runners.  So, after mile 9 and about 20 seconds back from the Moroccan, I decided I could still run a good effort and not kill myself before New York City.  I start to clip off a 5:19, 5:18 and another 5:18 for miles 10, 11 and 12.  By this point, the leader is slightly fading, but he still feels too far away.  All the 10k runners that we are passing on our way back to the finish are cheer me along with encouraging words to "catch him", as if by saying something will automatically create a hidden energy source in me.  Well, it kind of motivated me as I was able to drop a 5:09 last mile and attempt to kick towards the finish.

With about 200 meters to go, both myself and the Moroccan are finishing strong, and I was able to gain on him to finish 1 second behind him.  It's a bit discouraging to lead a race for that amount of distance, only to be used.  I distinctively and deliberately remember slowing down to grab water and allowing this Moroccan to take the lead.  But instead, he would slow down to a pace that I didn't feel was honest.  At times, I would run next to him to work together instead of right behind him, as he would do, but the pace would still falter.  As you can tell, I am a bit frustrated with this, especially since NO money was at stake.  I wish I had another gear to out kick him at the end, and snag a hidden prize purse; but in reality, neither scenario happen.  My time of 69:45 was a solid effort and indicator of where I am at.  And of course, the only indicator of a marathon, is to run one...  Which is what is going to happen in 12 days!

More to come on my thoughts on how to race this thing!                 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mt. Taylor 50k Race Report

First off, I'm not sure how much you want to use this information for a "race report", as I've stolen that title from the more seasoned ultra runners out there.  Nevertheless, I will do my best at a recap from my perspective...

The Mt. Taylor 50k!  When the abbreviation of Mountain is included in any race, it would be wise to note that you'll be racing up a mountain, and in this case an 11,306' mountain.  I was completely aware of this, as I visited the website more often than I checked my email in a day, but it was hard not to as the website [] was gorgeously and simplistically made.  I must include that the race director, and lofty ultra runner himself - Ken Gordon, put together one of the greatest races I've run in New Mexico!  Every detail was taken care of, and all the runners had a remarkable time.  I couldn't have asked for a more well organized race.  Thank you Ken!

So let's talk a little bit about the race, or in this segment, the pre-race.  As usual, I had a wonderful amount of company going into this race.  My two roommates, Loren Wohletz and Chris Peverada were entered in the race, along with Dana Patton.  A new member to our club, was a youngster by the name of Alex Peterson.  I say new member to our club because we've had this approach that, "If you're not against us, you're with us" mentality, which I'm sticking to it.  It's kind of an absorption thing... Anyways, there were five of us and we were all ready to take on the mountain.  The course profile is something like this:

Where the first 3 miles is straight up, but in reality it wasn't that bad.  So, as the gun went off at 6:35, the race organizers planned it so that once we made it to La Mosca Lookout, we'd have a perfect view to the east of the Sun rising over the Sandia Mountains.  This view was surreal!  And before I even got there, one of the Navajo runners who was far ahead of me, yelped out an Indian War Cry, which got the race field excited to see the sun rise that laid ahead.  Also at this point of the race, Chris broke away from the field and took charge of the pace.  After about 5 miles, I never saw the top 2 runners until the finish.  I decided to run a more comfortable race since I wasn't use to this type of terrain or elevation change.  I was pretty comfortable in 8th place, but I could see the other runners gaping me as the downhill section to the second aid station was approaching.  Alex and I ran together for a little bit, but I couldn't keep up with him along the downhill sections.  Also, my Camelback was bugging me.  I think I was the only idiot in the top 10 to wear a hydration pack, but I didn't want to risk blowing up out there.  I was finally able to fix the comfortableness and plot along on the course.

As the fall season just hit New Mexico, the Aspen trees were already spouting off their bright yellow leaves. At some points of the course, it felt like it was raining large yellow droplets all around.  This was very hard to ignore, but I couldn't quite embrace the poetic beauty just yet.  I had to stay relaxed and keep hydrated so I could finish strong.  I also had a piddling thought that I could get top 5 for an "award" of some kind.  So, holding on to 6th place, and running with Alex, we ran on towards the 10 mile aid station at Spud Patch.  I started to realize that in the ultra running community the aid stations all have names of their actual location, unlike the road where they are just given mile marker numbers to make it easy and boring for the runners.  Anyways, I was excited to grab a quick energy GU to replace the Powerbar Gels I used for my pack.  At some points of the race; I found it very arousing to add another element to the race experience, which was the method in which you carried your fuel across the course.  I really got a kick out of literally unzipping something and eating on the go.  Very weird, I know, but it's a requirement for the even longer races.

Well, after 10 miles passed, and the course was more suited for my stride, I was able to get moving and catch some guys.  I eventually made it into the Rock Tank aid station; where the race starts, and got to see Arlene and Lauren hanging out waiting for us to come through.  I slipped off my pack, filled it up and got rid of some trash.  By that point, I was in 3rd place, but the other two guys that I just passed came into the station and one was able to take off before me.  I guess I wasn't too concerned at the moment as I was drinking a coke and attempting to get ready to leave.  This aid station was the halfway point of the race, with the hardest part yet to come.

Once you left Rock Tank, it was a nice gradual climb out on a single track trail until you hit a wide jeep trail. That portion of the race I was moving along fairly quickly towards Gooseberry (mile 21.2).  I came up on that station quickly, but for some stupid reason, I didn't stop to get anything.  And, as soon as you leave Gooseberry, it's all up-mountain from there.  Luckily, the tree cover hid some parts of Mt. Taylor Peak, but if you were sick enough to stare through the trees, you could spot the top of the mountain.  At that point, I had a doubt I could hold a top 5 finish.  And as soon as you got out of the tree cover and made a slight left north towards the peak, my heart fell into my already empty stomach.  This portion of the race I could only manage a slow hike/walk up the mountain.  It was nearly 1000' of climb over the course of a mile.  Not something I can do compared to these other veteran ultra runners.  Alex came up on me pretty quickly, then 2 more guys passed me.  But, once I summit the peak, I was running again and slowly catching the crew that passed me.

At the Caldera Rim aid station, I grabbed a quick coke and speed off after the 3 guys.  As soon as I caught up with Alex, his knee that he had surgery on started to bother him and he slowed down.  He eventually felt better and finished very strong.  But I was just plotting along at a good pace when I passed the other 2 guys who seemed to be working together.  I later found out they are both from Las Vegas, Nevada and train together.  The rest of the race had it's ups and downs, both literally and physically.  The last set of switchbacks were tough, but the last 2 miles were even tougher.  So, with only 2 miles to go, it became a downhill ski adventure.  Those miles were the steepest quad-killing miles I had ever run in my life.  Partly because I had just run 29 miles prior to it.  Nevertheless, the race was nearly over, and I was pretty happy to finish in 3rd with the award of a hand painted portrait of Mt. Taylor, which I will get it framed!

After running that race, and thinking about it compared to all the other races I've done, I would have to say that I am not only satisfied with how it went, but excited to do more of these events.  The community, the course, and the challenge of navigating that course made it one of the most amazing races I've done.  My roommates and friends always talk about Ultra's and how awesome they are, but until I did one, it was truly an experience worth suffering through.  I had a good idea of what to expect after having the opportunity to crew for Loren at Hardrock, and it's a whole different ballgame when comparing a 50k to a 100 miler, but I think I will venture into more of these races in the future.  Don't get me wrong, I still have New York City Marathon, which will only go well because of this race, but I think in the spring I want to attempt a 50 miler, just to see if I can do it...

At the finish.
The DTC crew! (From Left) Me, Loren, Chris, Dana, Alex

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chips and Salsa 1/2 marathon recap

Race Recap:

Just another wonderful Albuquerque fall morning in the valley, even though fall is just a few days away.  The half marathon was set to start at 7:00am, but as we all know, it was a little late.  The course was the same course as last year, but with the help of high school volunteers, our half marathon race would have a little detour.  This slight detour would add about seven-tenths of a mile to the course.  Nevertheless, I was okay with the mishap, and just kept my effort consistent as well as my pace.

After the mishap in the first mile, I ran the rest of the race on my own.  I clocked off my splits at around 5:15-5:24 per mile (more precise splits below).  With that effort, I finished the 13.8 mile race in 1:13:22.  All-in-all, it was a pretty good day.  This race was a great tune up, and fitness indicator for New York City.  With that long of a "tempo" run under my belt, and with about 6 weeks left, I'm starting to feel pretty good about New York.  Just a few more weeks of marathon specific workouts, and the only test of this teacher/runner will be assessed on November 4th.  This race distance would've put me in the ballpark of 1:09:40 at 13.1 miles at altitude.  With that time, it's nothing to be too proud of, but it proves to me that I still have the strength to continue marathon training and perform at New York.

Sorry for the short recap, I'm just a bit tired these days.

Half marathon splits: [9:22 (1.7ish miles), 5:12, 5:17, 5:22, 5:24, 5:17, 5:21, 5:11, 5:14, 5:23, 5:18, 5:22, 5:01, 35 seconds) 1:13:22 - 13.8 miles - 5:19/mile average.
Pre race with Jesse Espinoza (National Guard Team Member)

Finishing the race.

Our little awards ceremony: (from left) Todd Nickerson, Kelly Nickerson - 2nd place female, Me - 1st place male, Arlene Espinoza - 1st place female 10k, Dana Patton, Lauren Patton

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chips and Salsa, and the Lobo Invite

Well, it's that time of year again in New Mexico, when all the roasting of Chile occurs and the smoky sensation fills the air.  Fall always brings such invigorating tastes to our palates.  The idea of roasted green chile added to every salsa dish is more of a treat than anything else.  I got my first taste of fresh chile this season when one of my students made me a pint of homemade salsa.  The school I'm at is considered a rural area - Los Lunas, so you can only image farmland and openness.  Well, there's farmland, but I'm pretty sure most of my students DON'T live on a farm milking cows at 4 in the morning.  But I am sure they make a lot of their meals from scratch, as well as the tasty salsa that was brought to me a few weeks ago.

That jar of salsa will be a precursor to this weekend's events!  The Chips and Salsa half marathon is an event I've done 3 times since living in Albuquerque, and have had a great time out there.  Two 3rd place finishes and a 1st place finish are notched onto my belt from that race.  And this year, with the slight lack of training, I still plan on claiming the title and all it's perks that come with it (a pay check).  Either way, it's going to be a great race, and another workout towards my New York City Marathon.  A race recap should follow quickly. 

Another race that happened without mention was the 2012 Lobo Cross Country Invite on August 31st.  That race was an eye opener for me and a few other guys on the Dukes TC.  I was more nervious going into that race than most other races I've done.  One reason for that, was the fact that I felt out of shape, and unprepared.  The other reason; is the idea that with shorter races I am more out of my comfort zone and cannot keep up with the speed needed to race against these young college kids.  But the "veteran" running experience I have would play to my advantage.

The race was originally going to be an 8k cross country race done at night, "under the lights".  Well, being a cross country race was all that was correct about this invite.  Many people called the race "a great success", but the men's 8k ended up being about 3.9 miles long, and not the proper distance.  No one really knew that until after the race as the results would show an incredible time.

Allen Wagner flew out from Hawai'i to race this thing, and was hoping to whip on some college kids.  The race strategy was to go out conservative and pick off all the whippersnappers that went out too fast.  I was going to follow this plan, but once the gun went off, everything just flew out the window.

After about 800 meters, I found myself towards the middle to back of the pack with a slew of idiot college kids in front of me.  I knew I was better than this and decided to move up towards the front, after all, cross country is my specialty.  I ended up racing pretty well and pushed through the hard parts as best as I could.  With the leaders just in front of me I knew I could finish in the same position as last year (5th place), but I was hoping to finish higher as I assumed we had more ground to cover.  But of course, I was wrong and the race was ending before I even knew what was going on.  It felt a little anticlimactic, especially since the entire cross country race was in the dark, and not many people were out on the far ends of the course.  However, there was a sudden roar of people towards the finish, but I was expecting the race to last a little longer, so the enthusiasm from the crowd didn't force me to "kick" to the finish.  I was a lot more happy with the idea that the race was shorter, and a marathon runner (whose almost 30) can still keep up with these whippersnappers...  Until next time.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ides of August

Well, it's not as bad as Julius Caesar had it (and it's not even the same month), when he got stabbed 23 times, but this has been a crazy month, and as his fate was forewarned, so was mine...

Our lease at the infamous Dukes Headquarters in Downtown Albuquerque was coming to and end, and I was still jobless.  I had a feeling I would get some interviews as the 1st day of school approached, but I wasn't too concerned about it.  And finally, the interviews came rushing in, and I got a job offer to teach 3rd grade in a small town just outside of Albuquerque called Los Lunas.  I took the position with 2 days until school started.  And, with my classroom a complete mess, my loving girlfriend - Arlene and her family came to the rescue.  I got most things situated within the class, before the chaos of the first days of school began, and then before I knew it, school was already in session.

Most 1st year teachers are never prepared for everything that lays ahead of them.  And I completely agree with that.  Right now I'm trying to stay afloat and hope I can generate the best educational experience for these kids as possible.  After the first day of school, we had a quick staff meeting, and we were informed that on a normal A-F grade scale, my school is performing at a "D", and more than 50% of the students are BELOW proficiency, when compared to the rest of the state.  I'm thinking to myself how completely different this year is going to be when compared to the experience I had student-teaching at S.Y. Jackson elementary school and their nearly 92% proficient school rating.  It's like night and day.  Raymond Gabaldon Elementary school is on a completely different level, but it's going to be my new home for the next 180 days:

As you could imagine, my running that very first week of school (August 14th-18th) was, lack there of.  And because of that, my sanity was starting to fluster with overwhelming amounts of emotion.  I almost lost it with the amount of unpreparedness I had for that first week of school.  But, I got through it, and this last week without incident.  In fact, this past week went very well with school and with running.  Almost an erie parallel between the two.  And today, I got my 22 mile long run with mile repeats with 1 minute rest. It went up on Tramway (6000 ft. alt.):

4 miles easy, 4x1 mile, 8 miles easy, 2x1 mile, 4 miles easy [5:27, 5:22, 5:19, 5:17], [5:17, 5:11].

I know this year is not going to be easy, and I know I won't get the mileage I really want, but with proper fine tuning of my daily schedule, I think I can mange some good training, and preform well at New York City.  It'll be interesting!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Next Endeavor - NYC Marathon

After a nice week off of running, and allowing my legs to get back under me, I am now setting my sights on the Big Apple.  The  ING New York City Marathon is 4 quick months away, and I am already pinning up the race route on my bedroom wall.

I have never been to New York City, so this should be a very interesting trip.  A brisk 26.2 mile tour of the 5 boroughs lies only a few months away, and as these summer months are still sizzling away, I know the race is just around the corner.  I've finally started to do some workouts, and increase my mileage a bit.  It's going to be an interesting marathon build up, as my base mileage wasn't as big as it's been in the past, but I think I'll be adding more speed into my workouts, and some more hill running to better prepare me for the hills/bridges in New York!  The Big Apple - here I come!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grandma's Marathon Recap

I wouldn't say it was a GREAT race, but it was a great effort for me!  A 2:22:44 finishing time, and a 15th place finish are in the record books for the 2012 Grandma's marathon.  And of course, I wish it went a lot better...

After the race(from left: Dana, Lauren, me, Arlene)

The entire trip was another great experience, as Arlene and I flew into Minneapolis, MN. and drove up to Duluth.  We also had some really great friends in Superior, Wisconsin that were excited for everyone to be up in Duluth racing the marathon.  John and Ariel Heitzman use to live in Albuquerque with their manly 2 yr. old baby, but decided to move back to the midwest to raise another child (Ariel is pregnant and will be due in August) in the fertile lands by lake Superior.  So, it was great to see them the entire weekend.

Well, I guess I could talk about the race now.  I had my usual, half-awoken nights rest, until about 3 hours before the start of the race when I can official get out of bed and begin the pre-marathon routine.  It's nothing special; just oatmeal, coffee, and enough liquids to stay hydrated, as the forecast would be warm and very humid.  Arlene and I went to the Starbucks downstairs for breakfast and nervously ate in our hotel room.  Over 90 percent humidity would be waiting for us at the starting line in Two Harbors, so the required guzzling of water and Powerbar drink was essential during breakfast as well.  I would find myself nibbling nervously on a Powerbar as well.

Once we had all our gear ready, we headed downstairs to the shuttles.  The "Elite" shuttles were scheduled to leave at 5:45am, along with the other shuttles, but I just rode with Arlene and we enjoyed the long bus ride to the start.  It almost brought back some memories of CIM, but it wasn't cold enough for me to be shivering as much as I was on that December morning bus ride to the start.  Once we got off, settled down, and completed a short warm up to sweat even more, the start would only be seconds away.

Now, since it was warm, I was going to start off conservative and attempt to finish strong.  My first mile with the large pack of runners was hit in 5:33, and felt much slower than that.  Once many runners around me saw that split, they took off and started pounding each other over the pavement.  I tried to keep my cool, and stay within myself until at least halfway.  Even trying to keep it easy, the next mile was 5:12, and I found myself in the company of 3 other runners.  Mubarak, and 2 other runners with Utah running stores printed on their singlets composed our little 4 man pack.  I took advantage of being around other runners to share the work, and we cruised along the river road clicking off the miles between 5:11-5:17 pace.

I was able to place 8 tiny 8ounce sport top water bottles on the course, and consumed them with ease.  I also taped 4 Powerbar Energy Gels to the bottles that were located at mile: 7, 11, 17 & 21.... I think.  There were a lot of aid stations, and I don't remember exactly which ones had Powerbar Energy Gels tapped to them.  Regardless, I found myself grabbing water, ice and wet sponges at all the aid stations to stay cool, and keep my head wet.  By mile 11 the small pack started to fade, and I could sense the other 2 guys, who appeared to be from Utah start to lose contact.  We came through that mile in 5:22, and knew I had to make the decision to run my own race at my own effort.

Once I ventured on for another mile, I would see that Mubarak stayed in contact, and was running strong.  He came up beside me, and we worked together until I lost contact with him.  I started to feel that bogging sensation and checked my watch after I had missed the last 3 mile splits.  15:59 for 3 miles,  that's 5:20 pace, so I guess I wasn't slowing down much.  Mubarak still carried a decent lead on me, but I wanted to stay comfortable for the next 4 miles, which would get me to the 20 mile mark, and then I would reassess myself, and start to "hammer".  But that mentality wasn't a smart one to have.

The next 4 miles were significantly slower, and I started to lose my rhythm.  And even though Mubarak stopped ahead of me to stretch out his tight Achilles, as I passed him, I went from a comfortable 5:20 pace, to 5:30's, then 5:40's and finally running 5:50's.  The 20 mile mark came, and I knew I couldn't quite "hammer" it home.  I started to think about how to bring the pace back down, and stay positive.  I was thinking so much, that when I came up to my bottle at mile 21, I passed by the table without even noticing it.  I was about 15 meters past the table, and realized that I needed that fuel, and turned around to run back and grab it.  Believe me, it was easy to stop, turn around to run backwards on a marathon course, then grab the bottle and resume pace.  I think I ran a 5:56 that mile, so I knew I could stay strong and not hit any miles in the 6 minute range.  Only 5 miles to go, and the weather started to cool as I entered Duluth.

The clapping, and screaming of a few people felt candescent, as suppose to the silence that occupied most of the point-to-point race course as Duluth approached.  The light mist of a thick cloud loomed over the last 4 miles or so of the course, and felt amazing.  I was fading, but with the help of the cooler temperatures I was able to finish stronger that anticipated.  I was now in the 5:40 range, and actually ran a 5:28 mile for my 25th mile in the city.  I was also doing the math and calculating my finish time if I could maintain a certain pace, and knew I wasn't going to venture into 2:23 territory.  And in most cases, when you attempt to do the math, it's usually a very bad sign.  But I sorta kept it together and finished relatively strong, with a 2:22.

I was a little disappointed at first, but after realizing that this is just another race, and I have many more to prepare for, I became more content.  I also was hoping that Arlene would PR, and when I saw John and Ariel, they told me how amazing she was doing and should be on 3:15 pace.  We watched by the finish, and I saw her come in at 3:14, which is a 14minute PR!!!  So, that was exciting.  And after thinking about the course, I have come to realize that I really enjoyed that course.  It's nice a slightly rolling, but can be very fast with the right conditions!  I would definitely do this race again as a late spring marathon.

Mile Splits:

1- 5:33
2- 5:13
3- 5:11
4- 5:13
5- 5:12
6- 5:11
7&8- 10:34
9- 5:22
10- 5:12
11- 5:22
12, 13&14- 15:59
15- 5:27
16- 5:19
The joy of a marathon
17- 5:27
18- 5:35
19- 5:28
20- 5:52
21- 5:56
22- 5:42
23- 5:50
24- 5:42
25- 5:28
26- 5:40

The home stretch
The pain of the marathon

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ending the Marathon Cycle

I guess it has been awhile since I've written anything worth posting, which is mainly due to the summer laziness I've experienced and the lack/taper portion of my marathon cycle for Grandma's Marathon.  Either way, this is the final stretch of training and another marathon to tackle since the Trials.  All plans have been established, and the only real obstacle is just getting to the starting line.  I already completed my last workout a few days ago, and the mileage has decreased, leaving me with only one medium long run and a very light workout to accomplish.

Now, I can talk/write about race strategy as much as I'd like, but with this race, I think the weather is going to play a deciding factor.  In recent history, the weather has usually been warm and unpleasant for marathoners; with the exception of last years phenomenally perfect conditions.  As of now, race day should be in the 60's along with some cloud cover.  This isn't too bad.  If is does stay relatively decent, I think I have an excellent chance to run a PR and place in the top 10.  Otherwise, I will have to race the weather and play it cool.... No pun intended.

Grandma's Marathon will also be my 6th marathon, and I still feel like a novice.  I still don't know how I will feel after 18, 20, or even 24 miles.  Things could go smoothly, and as all people know who have run a marathon, it can turn rough in a matter of seconds.  I want to get the best effort out of this race as possible.  I know what I am capable of, and I feel the best strategy would be to run within my ability and shoot for a nice PR!  Another great thing about this trip is the fact that many friends will be there, and some who have never even run a marathon before will make Grandma's their debut.  My lovely girlfriend, Arlene will be shooting for a PR, as well as my buddy Dana and his wife Lauren.  The USA Half Marathon championships will be at the same location, so many great runners will be there to add to the atmosphere!  It's going to be a great weekend!    

Lost Training:
Starting on 5/21

Mon - Off
Tue - am. 8 miles / pm. 10 miles
Wed - am. 4x2 miles w/2min rest [5:24, 5:14], [5:11, 5:19], [5:13, 5:14], [5:19, 5:14] total: 12 miles / pm. 8 miles
Thur - pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. 10 miles / pm. 8 miles
Sat - am. 10 miles w/6 miles of pacing Arlene in a 10k! / pm. 6 miles
Sun - am. 22 miles w/20min tempo, 9 miles easy, 20min tempo

Total: 104

Starting on 5/28

Mon - am. 10 miles
Tue - pm. 8 miles
Wed - am. 20min tempo[3.80 miles @ 5:18, 5:15, 5:17, 5:15pace] 5 min rest, 20min tempo [3.84 miles @ 5:12, 5:15, 5:22, 5:09pace] total: 12 miles / pm. 8 miles
Thur - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - Off Day
Sat - am. 12 miles / pm. 8 miles
Sun - am. 20 miles w/3x1mile [5:13, 5:12, 5:12]

Total: 98

Thursday, May 31, 2012

25k Reflection and Update

Well, the USA 25k Championships was over a week ago, and I have already thought and forgot most tangible reflections from that race...  I have circled that race date on my calendar since the marathon trials, and have been aiming to do well there, yet I have little to write about once the dust has settled.  I wouldn't say it was one of my greatest accomplishments, but in this sport of running; and all the ups and downs that occur, I can proudly say that finishing in the top 10 has been an up for me.  PR's don't come very often, and in a new distance; no matter how obscure it may be, it comes as a default.

So, a 1:19:17 finish and a 10th place spot are written in black and white, yet the course and the people that came from this race are great gifts to remember.  The race catered to my marathon fitness, as it was just the right distance to mix strength and a dash of speed all rolled into one event.  The hills towards the end of the race helped change things up as well, and the great downtown finish are a perfect mix for an incredibly well organized race!

Now, it's time to just cap off the training and rest up for Grandma's Marathon in 2 weeks.  This has been my last real week of training, and then the peaking phase begins.  It will be nice to see the same guys at Bloomsday and the 25k at Grandma's, and if things go well, I should see a brand new PR on the clock.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bloomsday 12k (Week 9)

The most exciting thing about this week is being in Washington and racing the Bloomsday 12k road race in Spokane.  This was a great week in preparation for an even longer race next week - the USA 25k Championships.

Although the Bloomsday race was excellent, I knew I wasn't quite as sharp for this distance as I could've been.  In the past, I've felt that this distance would be right up my alley for fast times and bumping elbows with the competition.  Yet, with my training geared for the marathon, a 12k race would be great for some "speed" work.  Which is exactly what happened after the first two miles were clicked off at under 4:50 pace, something I rarely do in workouts back at home.  Now, the course isn't the best course to run fast times on, as there's a large hill in the 2nd mile, rolling hills leading up to mile 5, with a 1000m climb up what is called, "Doomsday Hill", and then it levels off to the finish.  I was happy to hit off [4:42, 4:46, 9:58(2 miles), 5:25, 5:09, 5:01] for the race to finish in 37:11.  It's about 4:59/mile average, so that's comforting...

The race itself is amazing.  The beautiful course rolls around Spokane, and gives you a feeling that spring is definitely in the air, as the wintery white spectators are lined along the course in shorts and T-shirts.  It's a happy feeling, even though it's tough to catch your breath over the rolling hills.  Another exciting part of this race, was the fact that many Americans come out to vive for the prize money being offered to both American's and Washington residence.  I got to meet up with a couple old buddies and meet some new running competitors.  All-in-all it was a good week, as I prepare to peak for the 25k Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The race should be live at: It should be a good one!

Week 9

Mon - am. 8 miles
Tue - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Wed - am. 5x1000m on the track w/200m jog recovery [2:55, 2:55, 2:55, 2:57, 2:54] total: 7.5 miles / pm. 6 miles
Thur - am. Travel to Spokane, WA. / pm. 8 miles
Fri - am. 9 miles
Sat - am. 8 miles / pm. 3 miles
Sun - am. Bloomsday 12k Race - 37:11 total: 13 miles

Total: 81.5 miles

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Bell Mile (Week 8)

Well, as my urge to transform my marathon training onto the track will never come true, I can still fantasize.  And in all reality, I do fantasize a lot when I'm out on the roads pounding away at the pavement, and especially on my last repeat of my workouts.  They remind me of the bell lap in a track race...

It's the void of running a track race and being in the lead group with one lap to go that I will always remember.  Just as the curve approaches and the excitement of the runners, as they get ready to unleash a fearful kick; that you hear the loud sound of the bell, indicating one lap left.  The echo of this bell is repeated in your brain, and before you know it you have about 300 meters to go.  The group starts to lengthen their strides, and you have no choice but to increase your pace.  The sound of that bell, the bronze piece of metal that was forged with molten Copper and Tin to create it's own age in Human History, bring out the viciousness amongst these humans on the track.  It becomes clear that the violence that erupted during the Bronze Age is translated onto the track for one last lap.  Some start to "kick" too early, but others cherish this last lap and wait for the the next curve to strike, the last 200 meters.  Just as swift as the bell is rung, it is dissipated on the back stretch, and those runners who started too fast, are commenced to their fate of being beaten.  With no chance at all, the final curve of the race is upon you, and you search for another ounce of strength to pump more blood and oxygen into your muscles.  The end approaches, but the joyous pain is still there.  Only when the end is seemingly near, that I feel an urge to exert even more energy and lunge towards the Finish Line, or the invisible indicator that tells us all to stop fighting.  Once the carnage is over, an anti-climatic pause awaits and then I search for a time, and hope that I will be satisfied with it.  In most cases, you can't help but be satisfied, knowing that you committed yourself to Race.  Although its been about 2 years now since my last bell lap, I can't help but think about all those emotions as I start and finish my last mile repeat...

It's not quite the same, but it can be as emotional in it's own way.  It's a lot more lonelier on the roads now, compared to a track race, but I expect 26.2 miles of the same type of carnage to occur in a small Minnesota town in June.  And when the last mile marker comes, I'll be thinking of something to get me to the Finish Line, my very own Bell Mile.        

Week 8

Mon - pm. 10 miles
Tue - am. 10 miles / pm. 8 miles
Wed - am. 3 mile tempo, 3 mile tempo, 2 mile tempo [5:41, 5:28, 5:15] [5:15, 5:18, 5:14] [5:11, 5:07] Avg. 5:18 total: 13 miles / pm. 8 miles
Thur - Off
Fri - am. 12 miles / pm. 10 miles
Sat - am. 11 miles / pm. 10 miles
Sun - am. 24 miles w/ 3x1 miles @ tempo, 10 miles easy, 2x1 miles @ tempo.  [5:18, 5:14, 5:01] [5:06, 5:10]

Total: 116 miles in 6 days

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Marathon Training (week 7)

Not much to post about in this week of review...  I guess one exciting piece of information could have been the Albuquerque "Half" marathon on Saturday.  I use that term loosely, as most of the races in Albuquerque tend to be longer or mis-marked.  This is due to the la se faire attitude that Albuquerque has towards road races.  Just show up and follow the group in front of you... although it's problematic when you are leading.  Which was the case at this race.

As to be expected, the half marathon race did not start on time, but that's a good thing as most runners are still gathering to the start and performing their pre-race shakeouts.  The race takes us through the lovely Rio Grande Valley, which are predominately Spanish style homes that weave along the old Spanish irrigation channels (Acequias).  Mubarak and I ran the entire race together, as well as the minor detour that made our 13.1 mile half marathon turn into a 13.5 mile road race.  It wasn't too much of an inconvenience as we tied and split the race earnings equally with a finishing time of 1:10:43.  Of course, I was extremely happy and pleased with the time and the fact that I got to lace up with some Brooks T6* (yes, the old red pair) racers.  And in these types of races, its always good to practice taking in nutrition, which I did, as I slugged down a PowerBar Energy Gel* with the 2x Caffeine content.

*Do you like how I plugged in my sponsors...?

The next day was a leisurely jog to aid in our recovery after running a great workout on the roads.  I promise to write something interesting for next week... The attention of having a long term substituting job this week has cut into writing time.  More to share after the weekend!

Week 7

Mon - am. 6.5 miles
Tue - am 8 miles
Wed - pm. 4x1 mile tempo, 3x1 mile tempo.  Total: 12 miles
Thur - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - pm. 12 miles
Sat - am. ABQ Half Marathon [5:16, 5:08, 5:03, 5:12, 5:16, 5:13, 5:24, 10:34(2), 5:17, ??????] 13.5 miles in 1:10:43. Total: 19 miles
Sun - am. 12 miles

Total: 89.5 miles

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Historical Running - BOSTON BABY!!! (week 6 of marathon training)

THE BOSTON MARATHON! I'm not running it, but I have been in love with this event for as long as it's allure has captured all marathoners alike. After my debut marathon at Twin Cities in 2009, and a modest finishing time of a 2:24, I was contemplating on signing up for the 2010 Boston race... yet, for some stupid reason I picked a "low-key" marathon rather than the major event with all it's hype and glory. I still regret that decision every spring when Boston fever hits everyone.

In 2010 I actually had a good time on the track that spring and got the unparalleled opportunity to race in the USA Track and Field Championships that June in the 10,000m. However, it was followed by an April marathon, that should've been Boston, but was the lesser known Country Music Marathon... I guess you live and learn. I learned that I wanted to run the major marathon's, so the next one would be Chicago. To summarize the ensuing months; a couple of us signed up, trained poorly for it and when the race came on a warm morning we either dropped out or ran awful! Another lesson learned. And unfortunately for me, I was hurt for a long period of time and wouldn't be in any shape to run Boston that spring.

This year is a different story... After the trials I figured I needed some time to recover and a later spring marathon would be better for me, hence the Grandma's Marathon that I've been gearing towards. But I can't help but think about Boston, the one that got away. It'll always be there every spring, and I vow to race it next year! And to make matters more exciting, a slew of us Albuquerquerans will be doing it next year. So, mark your calendar's for Boston - 2013!!!

As for training leading up to that glorious race, and a few other marathons in-between, I can say that this week has gone by fairly well. One decent track workout and an excellent long run that wasn't tarnished by the gusty winds of the Albuquerque Spring. To juice up my week, I only did 4x1 mile on the track in [4:54, 4:52, 4:48, 4:45]. Nothing too impressive, as it gives me a good indicator of how I am not fast this year, but rather a bit stronger. I guess, more of a marathoner, and less of a 10k runner that I use to be. It's a bit sad, but I'll have to work on my speed at a different time of the year.

My Jack Daniels workout on Sunday went smoothly. Again, it's been a slight challenge to adjust my effort at altitude to the correct paces I want to hit for my tempo workouts. I found that I just have to trust my body, and know that threshold of going into oxygen debt, without crossing it. The effects of altitude have seemed to help drastically when I venture down to sea level to race, especially in the shorter events. If I'm doing proper speed workouts and hitting the goal paces I want with minimal recovery, it tends to correlate to a projected race time.

A good friend, Jay Hyung (pronounced: Young) who is now 41, but owns a marathon time of 2:10 from his prime has been showing up and running some of these workouts with me. The schedule for the day, was 24 miles. About 5 miles warm-up, 4x1 mile at tempo, 10 miles easy, then 3 miles at tempo pace. They were hit in [5:22, 5:17, 5:12, 5:08] & [5:22, 5:16, 5:13]. You can only imagine how your legs feel after 19 miles, and then knowing you have to hit another 3 mile tempo. It's a perfect taste of the marathon, and simulates that feeling. Either way, with a few more of these, I should be in decent shape.

Next up, watching the Boston Marathon Live tomorrow morning, and then the Albuquerque Half Marathon next Saturday! Should be a good week.

week 6

Mon - am. 12 miles
Tue - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Wed - am. track 4x1 mile total:10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Thur - am. 12 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. 6 miles / pm. 14 miles
Sat - am. 11 miles / pm. 8 miles
Sun - am 24 miles w/4x1 mile @ tempo, 10 miles easy, 3 miles @ tempo.

Total: 137 miles

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Crescent City Classic (week 5 of marathon training)

Who Dat?!?! Well, for some of you who have been fortunate enough to venture into the Crescent City, you'll know that saying. Last week was something I call, "An Awesome Week!". Training went alright, but the real reward of traveling to New Orleans came at the end of the week, along with a decent 10k road race.

The week started off fine, decent miles being plotted around throughout Albuquerque with an occasional workout along the Rio Grande River Path. This week, I decided to run a moderate tempo workout of 3x2 miles on the path. Let's just say it went well, as I hit them in (5:14, 5:16), (5:09, 5:21), (5:18, 5:10) with 2 minutes rest between sets. A nice effort leading up to the Saturday 10k race in NOLA.

Thursday, the adventure begins. I knew I wasn't in top shape to run a road pr (sub 29:19), but I viewed this weekend as a quasi vacation along with a, below sea level speed-work-session. After an early flight, Loren (my roommate) and I arrive in NOLA and head to Sonya's (Loren's sister) apartment in the Irish Gardens District. A quick run along the famous St. Charles street and our morning run is checked off the day's list of activities. Up next would be: a Po-Boy lunch, a trip to the Swamp Lands, another run, dinner at Dante's Kitchen, Daiquries, and live music along Frenchmen Street. Bedtime was only pushed back until 3:00am.... but who's keeping track?

The next day was a little more historical, as we spent the majority of our awake time running and touring the World War II museum. The day seemed a little more mellow as we had dinner at the Elite hotel suite with the other athletes. At this point, the race director has informed me that I am the only American Elite athlete on the men's side. Loren and I decide to make things easier, we'd stay at the host hotel instead at his sister's place, so that in the morning we'd be right at the start with the other Elite athletes.

Race morning. I get up early for my usual shake-out run. This time I decide to run by Bourbon Street, thinking that at 6am, no one would be there. Well, aside from the cleanup crew and a few gutter punks roaming around, it's still busier than what I'd expect. The morning goes uneventful as we get to the start and begin the race from the French Market to City Park. I decided to take my splits, which were: [4:48, 4:57, 5:01, 4:59, 5:02, ?:??] and a total time of 30:56 for 15th place. It's a bit slower than my fastest half marathon pace, but I'll take it considering the amount of fun I had leading up to the race. I was actually surprised I didn't run worse. I'm not happy with it, but I am definitely not disappointed. New Orleans proved that it is unquestionably a great town, and wasn't going to give me a horrible race for me to discredit the entire weekend! Thank ya'll for a great time in NOLA and for the lovely memories and artwork that I got to take home!!!

So far, any town or place with a "New" in it, has proven to be a great place! I can only imagine how New York will treat me...

Week 5

Mon - am. 12 miles
Tue - am. 8 miles / pm. 12 miles
Wed - am. 3x2 miles total:12.5 miles / pm. 8 miles
Thur - am. 10 miles / pm. 4 miles
Fri - am. 10 miles
Sat - am. Crescent City Classic 10k - 30:56, total: 15 miles
Sun - am. 24 miles

Total: 115.5 miles

Monday, April 2, 2012

Marathon Training (week 4)

What more can I write about in a running blog, besides workouts that leave me with a sense of self-satisfaction? Should I bore you with the weather.... or what about the glorious trails that I've run on countless times, since I don't want to venture off onto new territory with the risk of the unknown. Sometimes, it seems like too much to try and find something new when I've been completely happy running on the same trails, day-in and day-out. The simple notion of trotting around town keeps me happy and entertained through the 100 plus miles a week. Sure, it would be nice to run on some exotic trail, to smell the pine needles in the air, as suppose to the spring barbecue grills that perfume the air. But, to be honest, I just love running and find the most joy just leaving my front porch.

From our house, I was able to get in plenty of the needed, but unvaried running that consumed my weekly mileage, along with a track session, and a pavement-pounding long run along the river. We (Allen and I) lost Kris this week after our track session. I know the track can take many lives; as it has in the past, and it was relentless against the guys who haven't started track workouts. It was a short; 6x1000m workout, and I thought it went well. After the carnage, Kris would be sidelined due to an achilles injury, and Allen cut the workout short from his 12lbs. of lost body weight after his NYC half marathon debacle. Sunday's long run went well, and I was able to get 22 miles in with another Jack Daniels workout in it: 3x1 miles and 2x1 miles towards the end.

All and all, it was a pretty satisfying week. I think I consumed nearly 50 Powerbars and used 1 gel in the long run.

Week 4

Mon - am. 7 miles / pm. 8 miles
Tue - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Wed - am. 6x1000m [3:18, 3:10, 3:01, 3:09, 3:07, 2:56] total: 9 miles / pm. 10 miles
Thur - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. 6 miles / pm. 12 miles
Sat - am. 12 miles / pm. 8 miles
Sun - am. 22 miles w/3x1 miles @ tempo [5:09, 5:07, 5:05], ~7 miles easy, 2x1 miles @ tempo [5:15, 5:09], ~5 miles cool down.

Total: 134
Year to Date: 1305 (100 miles per week average since the beginning of the week!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marathon Training (week 3 - Slight Debacle)

Well, last week wasn't as impressive as I would've liked it to be. I started off the week by taking two off days due to a hamstring issue. Basically, it was too tight, and created pain in my left leg.... boring!

So, to continue the featureless week of recovery and the little amount of miles I have crawled through; I can boldly state that after a much needed massage from my wonderful massage therapist - Laura Bresson, that I am fully recovered. The small set back in my hammy, wasn't due to the presumably high mileage that Bresson insisted was the case, but the fact that my groin was extremely tight. Sure, it could be due to the high mileage.... or it could be a number of factors that occurred after my first race back after the trials (Gate River), and the fact that I didn't recover from it. So, with that aside, and the resolution of my hamstring, I was able to only miss one workout and attempt my Sunday long run with the gang.

As far as running goes, Sunday was the highlight of my week. An easy 22 miles with 4x1 miles at tempo effort, followed by 10 miles easy, then one last set of 2x1 miles to pound the legs into oblivion. It was a pleasure to have Allen Wagner out there with us (Kris and I) for the first time, in what felt like ages. The temperature in Albuquerque is starting to get warm, which was a nice change of atmosphere, literally. The entire workout went well, as we hit (5:17, 5:05, 5:15, 5:10) for the first 4, and after the 10 miles the last 2 miles were hit in (5:18 & 5:18). A very nice way to end the low mileage week.

This week as been going well, and I hope the weather will hold up.

Remember, it ain't high altitude training unless you're up at Cloud City training with Lando Calrissian!

Week 3

Mon - Off
Tue - Off
Wed - am 8 miles / pm. 8 miles
Thur - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Sat - am. 12 miles / pm. 8 miles
Sun - am. Long Run: w/4x1 mile @ tempo, 10 miles easy, 2x1 mile @ tempo [5:17, 5:05, 5:15, 5:10], [5:18, 5:18]. total: 22 miles

Total: 98 miles
Year to Date: 1171 miles

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gettin' High (Marathon Training week 2)*

Yes, I'm finally getting into some high mileage this past week. It was my first "real" week of training, gearing up for my spring marathon in June on the shores of Lake Superior. This week was a little more structured and actually had some continuity with each passing day. The numerical trend was 22, which I was hitting each day until the weekend approached. The weather here in Albuquerque was quite beautiful, and I took pleasure into every sunny day as I was finally able to wear shorts/half-tights. I've been pondering as to what the weather may be like for the Grandma's Marathon, but I guess it is completely out of my power. The only thing I can do is train and keep pounding the pavement, or the track, which I attended to this past Tuesday. I can also attempt to control the amount of miles I do, and after completing Frank Shorter's book: Olympic Gold, A Runner's Life and Times, it only validated the fact that higher mileage is the key to success. 140 to be exact!!!

I keep talking about the track; as I apparently have a love-hate relationship with it, but so seemingly feel that it is an intrinsic part of my training. After many successful training blocks, I've decided that I need to build up my speed first, so that when I practice marathon pace or tempo runs, it becomes more achievable. (It's a simple Jack Daniels Phd. training philosophy) As well as a training concept that many other coaches have adopted. The notion of speed first, has been something that has been inundated into my running career as the legendary Steve Scott (my college coach) would serve us VO2Max workouts on a regular bases. I've always kept true to maintaining a decent kick, or some kind of turnover, but as the miles rack up on my legs, I may have lost a few strains of that beloved Type II muscle fiber. Oh well, I guess no one is going to be running a 60 sec last quarter in a marathon anyways...

So as the beginning of this week pasted, as well as the track workout, I began to look forward to my lovely long run workout. It was only going to be a short one since my left hamstring was feeling a bit tight or knotted up. Kris and I were able to get in 19 miles with 4x1 mile at tempo effort along the windy Rio Grande this past Sunday. I've started to look forward to these workouts and have been very excited to lace up some racing flats and hit some fast miles. The only discouraging thing was of course the tight hammy. Other than that, the repeats went exceptionally well, and I can't wait to do more of these workouts!

Thought of the week:

With so many marathons out there, which one am I going to do next.....? Well, I already know I've got one in June, but what about for the fall.......?

Week 2 Mileage:

Mon - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Tue - am. 10x400m [70, 72, 70, 68, 69, 68, 68, 67, 66, 64] total: 7 miles / pm. 13 miles
Wed - am. 12 miles / pm. 10 miles
Thur - am. 10 miles / pm. 12 miles
Fri - am. 12 miles / pm. 10 miles
Sat - am. 12 miles / pm. 8 miles
Sun - 19 miles w/4x1 mile @ [5:23, 5:17, 5:15, 5:08]

Total: 145
*highest mileage ever!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Flo - Rida (Marathon Training - week 1)

Well, the Gate River run didn't quite go as planned. As most disappointing races turn out, I will walk away with a lesson learned as suppose to a blissful performance...

The few things I've learned have not changed since my high school days. I went out too fast for my own fitness. You would think, that with this much experience I would know how to race, but once you start and are caught up in such enthusiasm, you can't help but go with the flow. Which is exactly what I did for the first mile and paid for it. I felt; at the time, that I didn't go out at a blistering pace, but apparently it was a little too fast for me. 4:39 isn't really that fast... but I guess for a 15k race I was in over my head. Mile after mile I faded off the lead pack and was getting passed by everyone.

Once the race was over and I got a few beers in my system to num the embarrassment, I soon found myself in conversation with many other "elite" runners who had bad races. The egotistical consensus from my other elite compatriots is that; those of us who ran in the trials hadn't quite recovered and that this race was a bit of a shock to us.... comparatively of course. So now that I've added some fuel to the fire, I can refocus on the main goal of running a PR at the Grandma's Marathon. But this weekend wasn't over yet...

After the race I had a wonderful wedding to attend to in Jacksonville Beach. The beverages and dances seemed to have taken my worries of the race away and refocus on more important things, at the current moment. So, after a fun filled weekend in Flo-rida, I was happy enough to actually race my first Gate River Run and attend an awesome wedding! My mileage for the past week was very unimpressive, but I did get in one track workout. Hopefully things will start to pick up in the next couple of weeks as I hit the roads more and get ready for the 26.2 mile tour of Duluth, MN.

Week 1:
This wasn't a great way to start off my marathon training, but it's a starting point.... I guess. I have introduced some core, if that means anything.

Mon - am. 4 miles easy
Tue - am. 5x(200, 200, 400) in [31, 31, 68], [31, 31, 67], [31, 31, 65], [31, 30, 64], [31, 31, 64] total: 9 / pm. 10 miles
Wed - am. 8 miles
Thur - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. Travled to Jax - no running
Sat - am. 15k Gate River Run [4:39, 4:49, 4:54, 5:09, 5:11, 10:33(2 miles), 5:43, 5:36] 48:14. total: 14 miles
Sun - am. 8 miles

Total: 73

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gate River on the Horizon - Base training is OVER!

Well, another week in the trenches has gone by and I still haven't poked my head out to test the speed I've been hibernating away since the Olympic Trials. I think I hit a pretty decent amount of mileage this past week, and expect to feel the sluggishness in my legs when I venture to the track this coming week (tomorrow to be exact). I keep telling myself that I've been doing "base" these past few weeks and that this phase will end and the track portion of my training will begin. But, in all reality, my mileage will remain the same and I will just introduce some quicker stuff into my mundane training weeks. I'm typically overtly amped about running more miles than I drive in a week, but adding in some quicker stuff may bring some weight to my eye lids throughout the day. Either way, I'm excited to touch the track, as its been an obscurity to me since October.

As for interesting news; I've just been in a mileage daze to be aware of anything out of the ordinary. Most days seem to blend together, and are only broken up by the appearance of the different schools I substitute at. Although even the students at these indistinguishable schools blend together, as I attempt to fill the void of their teacher. I can't image how they feel. Aside from all these other interactions I make throughout my day, I have seemed to have met a wonderful person named Arlene, she oddly enough shares the same obsession of running as I do along with a balancing act routine in life. Her presents in my life has made everything more interesting and pleasant, as I attempt to achieve some kind of greatness in the sport of running.

So the next stop on this running circus is the 2012 USA 15k Road National Championships, or better known in Jacksonville by the locals as, the Gate River Run! This is going to be another stacked USA Championship race where it has been posted that 21 guys have run under 29:00 in the 10,000m or better:

Fasil Bizuneh - 27:50
Bobby Mack - 28:11
Mo Trafeh - 28:17
Charlie Serrano - 28:24
Mike Sayenko - 28:25
Sergio Reyes - 28:29
Nick Arciniaga - 28:29
Christo Landry - 28:30
Sean Houseworth - 28:33
Scott Smith - 28:35
Jimmy Grabow - 28:35
Tim Ritchie - 28:37
Dustin Emerick - 28:41
Jeff Schirmer - 28:42
Matt Llano - 28:43
Antonio Vega - 28:47
Danny Mercado - 28:53
Chris Chavez - 28:54
Ben Bruce - 28:55
Jake Schmitt - 28:56
Jesse Armijo - 28:59

Yes, that is my name at the bottom of the list... But, irregardless I don't consider myself a huge contender in this field, which only plays to my advantage as I will be pressing hard to stay with some fast guys that are more prepared for this race than I am. Coming off of pure mileage is going to be bit of a a shock when that gun goes off and the leaders blitz a 4:30 first mile and blow the doors open, leaving me and a good amount of guys behind. I can only hope to hold on and attempt to run a hard race that's redlining insanity! But, once this carnage is over, I will have a pleasant evening at my friend's: Pat and Laura's wedding in Jacksonville. This coming week should be interesting, with a fun-filled story to go along with it! Until then, happy trials!

Weekly Mileage:

Mon - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Tue - am. 8 miles / pm. 12 miles
Wed - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Thur - am. 6 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. 6 miles / pm. 14 miles
Sat - am. 12 miles / pm. 10 miles
Sun - am 20 miles

Total: 138 miles

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Football and Running (base training)

As the winter weeks dwindle by, the base period for a marathoner seeks the warmer spring months and the hope of track workouts on the horizon. At least, that's what I'm thinking right now. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy getting in twice as many miles than I drive in a week, but some variation in speed could be nice. I'm still holding true to the idea that a massively huge base is good, and that miles are only going to help with the marathon, but that track is looking ever so tasty along with the millions of miles!

Aside from my celebrity appearances into the local Albuquerque school classrooms to substitute "teach", this past week was very uneventful (I guess I shouldn't say that, as I should embellish my week to create more blog readers/ here goes nothing). Well then, to reemphasize how amazing my week was, I'll tell you this: The highlight of my week could be pinpointed to Friday's cross-training session on the field as I was the all-time-quarterback for the 5th graders at S.Y.J Elementary. Yes, I threw 23 touchdowns, only 1 interception, and a coveted hail-mary pass to win the game! It's a good thing for an all-time-quarterback, that I was destined to be on the winning team from the start. Fortunately, no children were hurt diving for my incredible passes. I think I deserve the game ball, a trophy, or a holiday named after me after that display of athleticism!

As for running, I can break it down for you day-by-day in one word. Twenty. Just about twenty miles a day for the entire week. It hasn't been too difficult, and I am feeling incredibly strong. Creating this anabolic state on my body doesn't give it time to worry about injuries or aches and pains, just constant happy stress. This should prove to be helpful once I start my marathon workouts and long run workouts next month. It's getting exciting thinking about Duluth, MN. and I'm praying that the weather will be nice and not a summer meltdown along the lake front. But, if it is, I guess I'll have to run faster than the heat.

Weekly Training:

Mon - am. 11 miles / pm. 10 miles
Tue - am. 6 miles / pm. 14 miles
Wed - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Thur - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. 8 miles / pm. 12 miles
Sat - am. 11 miles med. / pm. 10 miles
Sun - am. 20 miles

Total: 142 miles

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Oval Beckons

Well, I think it's about time I sat down and figured out what exactly I'm going to do this Spring, as far as races go. One thing is for sure, I am hooked on the marathon and have had my eye lids peeled wide after the Olympic Trials. Not only was that a wickedly fast race, but I have fully accepted how I finished, and even if I would have run the same time I qualified with, it still wouldn't have been an impressive finish. But like I said, I'm accepting of it, and truthfully... happy. This brings me great hope for American distance running, as that race was the most stacked field in the history of Olympic Marathon Trials! It also makes me think of all the disappointment that race produced amongst many runners. Hopefully they fell the way I do - reenergized and excited to get back into training and test their limits on this wonderful running quest.

Which brings me back to a spring journey. I've pondered it many times before, and even though it's going to be financially tight, I want to hit the oval and improve on some unfinished business. I've said it before, and feel that it is very true how the track doesn't lie, which is why I want to see where I am at as a runner and how I stack up in the stringent record books that our sport is so desperately based on. The merit of a runner tends to be defined by their ability to conquer the track, and even though I love the roads, I still have a place in my heart for the track. After all, this is where most runners get their first taste of pain. There's no hiding behind how difficult the course is, just pure running. Which is why I'll take my crack at at-least 2 track races.

The elusive 5000 meters hasn't been on my radar for a couple of years, and I feel it's time to dramatically improve on my abysmal 14:35 (or 14:24 as that has been the fastest I've covered the distance in the 2nd half of my 10,000m PR). It should be exciting, and I'm looking forward to toe the line amongst young college kids with all their amped up energy and impatience. And, after I get a few track races out of my system, I shall return to the roads and to the glorious Marathon in the Spring. At this point, it's looking clear that I want to run the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. If my math is correct I have 17 weeks until the Marathon. Let the countdown begin...

With all these dreams of grandeur aside, my base mileage is coming along, and I will have a nice rust buster race at the Gate River 15k US Championships in Jacksonville, FL., and immediately following that race, I can celebrate a wedding that evening! Cheers to Love! And the love of running!

Here is a taste of my weekly mileage, which I am proud to say I still managed to get a decent amount with a day off:

Mon - Off
Tue - am. 14 miles easy / pm. 10 miles easy
Wed - am. 6 miles easy / pm. 14 miles easy
Thur - am. 12 miles easy / pm. 12 miles easy
Fri - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 12 miles med. w/4x strides
Sat - am. 10 miles easy / pm. 10 miles easy
Sun - am. 20 mile Long Run

Total: 130

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Running Tourist

All I can think of, is how this week is creeping along. I took my first day off since my marathon break, and I still feel the need to put in more miles than ever before. I also can't help but notice what the other runners are doing throughout the country, from breaking American records, to spending their race earnings on meaningless junk, to traveling the globe in search of their perfect PR. It shouldn't get to me, as I keep thinking how our sport is still falling through the cracks (in the US). So, to keep my mind preoccupied, I continue to dream about how exhilarating it would be to race in other countries, to become a running tourist, so-to-speak. Actually, I don't even have to run in another country, I haven't even seen this country in it's entirely. But, across the oceans is where I would like to race one day. Touring the globe in search of; not a perfect PR, but a race that will bring my memories back to that country and to those people who I would hope to meet.

So, where shall I go first...? At this point, I have already scheduled an exotic trip to Michigan, later in the spring. The bird sized mosquitoes, with the thirst of blood as any Twilight movie can produce are sure to await me when I arrive for the USA 25k championships. I know the competition will be excellent, and making the podium is a huge goal of mind, but I think Michigan isn't exactly what I'm looking for as a running tourist. Breaking this term down to its core is what I should focus on first. Well, I got the running thing down, now I just need to dissect the tourist part. I want to visit and tour different avenues of running, but I think as a History buff, I should really focus on the great races that have shaped our running history. I'm thinking Boston, New York and Fukuoka Marathon in Japan. That is one (Fukuoka) that has always been in the back of my mind. The glamor, the excitement, and the people are what make a Japanese marathon come to life! With people shouting at you with every step you take, pushing you to limits you probably had no idea you could reach, and being in another country are all the things I expect from a Japanese marathon. And, from few people that I know that have run over there, it sounds amazing.

Again, the race itself is one aspect that I hope to experience, with many different emotions that come from completing a marathon as fast as you can, but meeting a different culture and then mixing your passion with theirs has to be sensational! Of course, I will never know, unless I take that leap over the Pacific Ocean and embrace the unknown.

I have plenty of time to think about this one adventure, as many, many more races and towns are to be discovered this spring on the roads, and on the track! I definitely do not want to waste any opportunity I have in the near future to experience something of this magnitude (either it be domestic or foreign), so my eyes and ears will be open so that my heart and mind can fully embody a great experience. After all, I love running, not only to run fast, but to travel and meet new people...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's Coming...

Spring is almost in the air in Albuquerque... Yet it didn't feel like it this morning for a local 5k race, as the mercury floated around 30 degrees. It was time for me to shed the rust out of my legs and run a road race, and get the feeling of pounding the pavement again. So after a few weeks of just running mileage I was able to cruise a solo 5k at altitude in 15:12. This, by no means is impressive, but since I don't run many 5k's at altitude on the roads, this was actually the fastest I've ever covered the distance at altitude, and I felt pretty good about it.

I have many more weeks ahead, and much, much more work to do, but I feel that this is a decent starting point. The first real test will come on March, 10th in Jacksonville as I toe the line at the USA 15k Championships. There will be no hiding behind altitude times, weather, or the mystery of fitness. It will be a Championships race, where no one cares what your excuses are, and I will have only myself to race against. Sure, they'll be other guys around, but I see it as a chance to push myself even harder and use the competition to gain another pr.

So, with Spring almost here, and track races upon the horizon, there will still be more miles to cover in an attempt to run more PR's. Cheers to everyone getting ready for their own important races!

Mon - pm. 10 easy
Tue - am. 10 easy / pm. 10 easy
Wed - am. 12 easy / pm. 10 easy
Thur - am. 10 easy / pm. 12 easy
Fri - am. 8 easy / pm. 12 med
Sat - am. 11 med / 10 easy
Sun - 5k total: 5 miles

Total: 120 miles

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Roads Will Always Be Open, But The Track Never Lies

After a much needed break from 2 marathons in 41 days, I am back running again. I decided to take about 8 days off, and it was an abysmal attempt of laying low and doing nothing with myself, as I felt the need to get back into reality ASAP. Without running, and by choosing not to run, created a void that could only be filled by planning my next training cycle and reevaluating my goals in life. I'm now armed with a Master's degree and soon will have to chose to teach full time or become a running bum... what choice shall I make?

Well, after some metal debating, I feel that many runners surround themselves with other runners and work at running stores to fulfill they running potential. Not many runners at the Olympic Trials had full time jobs, or teaching full time either. For the most part, they work part-time, and train full time. Yet, I felt the strongest and the most determined when I had a class of students to educate and my mind focus on other things besides running. So, at my current point in life I've determined two things: (1) I may not have the opportunity or ability to race in the track trials ever again, which I will attempt to do this spring, and (2) I am going to substitute teach so that I may still train, and hopefully find a full time teaching position.

I still feel the desire and passion to compete on the track this spring as I prepare for another marathon or if I qualify for the 10000m on the track for the Eugene Trials. To me, the marathon is such a great race, as it parallels life. The amount of work and time put into it, just for one race, creates countless memories and truly expresses how the journey is just as fulfilling as the destination. Each marathon I've done, I've learned something new, and have embraced the pain and joy that came with crossing the finish line, as to put the final punctuation of a chapter.

The many races that lead up to a marathon create different emotions, but at the end of the marathon cycle awaits 26.2 miles of a seer testament to your physical ability. However, with track races, there are many to choose from, and hopefully you can achieve your goal of hitting a qualifying time. In this years 10000m Olympic Trials at Hayward Field the "A" standard is 28:15 and a "B" standard of 29:00. In my opinion, no one slower than 28:25 will be allowed to compete. To run that fast, I need to pr by over 35 seconds... So in life, nothing is certain, which is why I want to seek the opportunity to toe the line at Hayward Field and actually be in shape to compete amongst the best Americans in the 10000m distance.