Sunday, April 26, 2015

The numbers last two weeks of training, taper and recovery. April 13 to 26, 2015


PM road 4 with Melissa and Uta, 32 mins total 4

XT whartons, yti, rubberband, ankle drills


PM road 9 solo, 57:23 strides total 9 plus

XT whartons, yti, rubberband, ankle drills


PM road 7 solo, 41:16, strides total 7 plus

XT After run did 90mins bikram yoga, whartons, yti, rubberband, ankle drills


PM long day lots of outside running stuff, so this was later around 7pm, bear hill 4.2 with Uta for warm up 26:12, jogged a quarter mile after dropping her off to start of workout. Not much time before darkness and I wanted to get dinner on the stove so we could go to bed at a reasonable hour so couple quick strides and I was off, 3 miles at around MP effort (15:17.27), splits 5:13.00(uphill), 10:10.95 (4:57.95-downhill), 15:17.27 (5:06.27 flat) Hamstrings were very tight from either over recovery with the taper or getting after it a bit too much at yoga last night, 1/4 mile or so jog home for a 'cool down' total around 8 ish. 

XT whartons, yti, rubberband


PM road 5 with Uta, 33:24, strides

XT whartons, yti, rubberband


AM dale 4 solo, 25:58, strides

XT wharton, yti, rubberband, ankle drills, added new isometric scapular stabilization exercises(will just call scapular isometrics from now on. video with exercise here . 


AM Dale road 4 with Uta, 25:11, skipping warm up and drills after, felt much better control of mid back after isometric exercises pre run. total 4 miles

XT wharton, yti, rubberband, scapular isometrics

I already did a full blog on this so no details just the nitty gritty.

AM 15min warm up, light strides, whartons, rubber band, scapular isometrics light drills, light strides. Race BAA Boston Marathon, DNF at 19 miles in 1:44:20 NO COORDINATION problems. Piece of shit run otherwise. But when you haven't done specific work or even long runs for 8 weeks this is what you get.


PM road 3, first 1.5 with Uta and Melissa- banged up and sore but not nearly as bad as after finishing marathons. total 3 miles

XT whartons, scapular isometrics, rubber band



XT 90mins bikram yoga, whartons, scapular isometrics, rubberband


PM 5 miles around Phillips fields, 35:05, with Uta, first 10mins with Melissa who was warming up for a workout, 3x100m strides after 16.4, 16.2, 15.9- felt 100% on jog but I noticed tightness and fatigue  on strides.

XT whartons, scapular isometrics, rubberband



XT 90mins bikram yoga, whartons, scapular isometrics, rubberband


PM around 4ish on trails with Uta and Melissa, 4 strides after, jog felt very slow, strides felt great. total 4 plus

XT whartons, scapular isometrics, rubberband



XT 90mins bikram yoga, whartons, scapular isometrics, rubberband


  Certainly not as tired or sore as after doing a full marathon.  Will do two weeks of light building up as I would after a marathon but I'm gonna skip the 2nd week of 'full' rest like this past one as I feel better now than I normally do after 2 weeks of full rest post marathon.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Boston Marathon Race Recap: DNF and a huge success.

  Most of you who read this certainly know by now I was a DNF in Boston on Monday.  This was disappointing but not nearly as much as you might think or perhaps as it should be.  My focus for a late winter or spring marathon since beginning to work on the upper back and shoulder posture was to see improvement in the coordination problem.  So to me everything else was secondary.  In this frame Monday was a huge success. In my last two marathons, NYC 2008 an the IAAF World Championships in 2009, I lost coordination completely at almost exactly 10k- just before in one and practically on the marker in the other and it was 'threatening' to go before there.  In the 19 miles I made it Monday I never lost coordination and I held goal pace range for more than 20k and reasonable pace for 16 plus miles.   This was HUGE for me.  Everything else is a regular problem I am not afraid of.  The coordination has been an unbeatable unassailable wall for almost a decade and to have concrete success in cracking it feels like a miracle!

  So what went wrong, why did I dnf etc..

  So I'll start with the events of the day and then I'll get into possible causes and that sort of stuff.

  I had no real set pace plan going into the race.  I was fit but I haven't been able to do a ton of specific work or get on the course.  Ruben wanted to go out at around 2:16 pace and there was a group that was going for that.  We figured given the weather that was quick enough to give a shot at sub 2:18, the trials standard and for Ruben the worlds standard, even if the wind was real bad in the second half but not so fast as to be a all eggs in the basket hammer out attack.

  The first mile is very downhill particularly the first K, we were like 3:01 at the K but really relaxed and hit the mile in 5:06 (I'll put all the splits at the end of the blog).   This felt great and Ruben and I were in a nice little group.  I noticed the leaders got out very fast and I noticed that we were already into a head wind which I had hoped not to feel until at least half way.

  I noticed Fernando Cabada had gone out conservatively just in front of us a bit and was already in no mans land.  I really felt for the guy and hoped he would find a group soon.  A 2:11 is much harder to run now than in decade past because so often you have to chose between running 2:05, or faster, pace or running alone.  Going out in 2:09 and holding on is reasonable but going out in 29:35 for 10k is not for most guys.

  I was thrilled how easy the first 5k was and how perfect my shoulders felt and that my leg was barking in the least.  We hit 5k in 16:08.  I know 16:00 are 2:15:00 pace so I figured we were right on.  Already it the wind was quite noticeable and I was trying to stay in the pack but kept finding myself on the outside.  Aerobically I felt incredibly easy and actually was wishing we were running a few seconds per mile faster.

  Sage Canaday was the most aggressive in our pack and did a ton of leading.  Really awesome job by him to run 2:19 in that wind.  No doubt in my mind that was a 2:15 to 2:16 effort  and to come on the heels of a 2:20 in hot weather in LA I really feel for the guy who I'm sure thought he would go to LA and qualify easy and get back to focusing on his Ultra stuff.

  I was super pumped to pass 10k in about 32:21.  I felt easy but to be honest I was VERY stressed as we came up to this point that I would suddenly lose coordination and this whole thing would be a failure.  Rationally I knew that wasn't likely but it has been nearly a decade of failure and so it is easy to lose the rational side.  After 10k I just told myself every step is an improvement and I really felt totally confident I would make 15k as I was not feeling any symptoms what so ever in the leg.   I noticed after 10k the wind getting very tough and it was really hard to run into.  We were running times in the low 5:teens but you knew the effort was 5 to 10 seconds a mile under that even in the pack and a strong head wind was my number one fear for the coordination so this was very tough mentally too.  I rolled by 15k and was not thrilled with the 48:42 as I knew we had slowed a bit but with the wind what could you do.  I felt strong and was thrilled the leg wasn't threatening at all.

  There was a short little hill before 10 miles and suddenly my legs, quads really, were burning like hell and I got dropped off the pack.  I tried to force back on because with the wind running alone was a sure to fail plan.  It was no use my legs were shit.  I was shocked.  I have never had trouble like this in a marathon.  This mile was a 5:22 my slowest so far and all I could think of was that Deek quote about how if you are hurting at 10 miles in a marathon you are in trouble.  This was not good.  Still I hadn't lost coordination and so I focused on running hard and seeing how far I could go without losing coordination.

  I had a couple bad steps in the 11th mile where the leg felt like it was threatening but I realized I had let my shoulder/upper back position slip and I refocused on that and the leg quickly felt much better.  I hit 20k in 65:43 which was just awful.  I knew back in February running through snow and worst wind than we had out there today I had run 20k of alternations in 66:23 so to only be 40 seconds up on that was awful.  That said I also knew that was fast enough to be right in my trouble pace for the coordination and I was still running strong.

  It was a weird space to be in.  Aerobically I felt great and I had full control of my leg which was awesome but my legs were completely dead just weak and hurting.  I kept hoping as the aerobic effort was so easy things would get better but they just kept getting worse.

  I tried to make the best of an unpleasant situation  high fiving spectators including the Wellesely girls, so many of them my arm hurt after, and pushing on.  Mostly running in the 5:30's  Then mile 15 I ran something in the 5:50's and knew I was in deep crap.  Still I had control of the leg so I tried to soldier on.  16 has a screamer of a downhill before you face the Newton Hills.  I managed another mile in the 5:30's and told myself if I couldn't keep it under 6 mins I would drop out at 17.  I ran 6:02 but by the time I got there I had figured out that if I ran about 6:00 to the finish I could manage a 2:26 or so which is pretty bad compared to what I wanted but not embarrassing and I decided 6:02 on one of the slowest miles wasn't that bad.  Mile 18 was worse, 6:15. But I thought I could rally on the flat 19 mile but I was feeling very weird by this point.  It was raining and I was very uncomfortable and my thought process wasn't too clear.

  I started getting caught by folks from behind me and I was feeling very poor at this point and realizing I was looking at a very slow finish time.  I also was realizing that though I hadn't lost coordination running at over 6:00 pace is not much stress on the system and wasn't telling me much if anything about the coordination issues.

  As I said I was not all that clear headed at this point so exactly why I chose to stop just after the 19 mile mark.  I think I was thinking I might drop out and I might just collect myself.  As I stopped a group went by and I was surprised by them and sort of turned as I stopped and went woozy.  As I stepped to the side of the road I blacked out for just a second and was caught by some of the very nice water stop folks.  I realized my day was over.  One of the volunteers walked me to the med tent. The pic below is me heading towards the med tent.

Photo by Chris Spinney

  In the med tent I was evaluated by a doctor and was a bit hypothermic, my heart rate was low considering I had just stopped running, 50, but my blood pressure was also low again considering I had just stopped running hard at 108 over 60.  I was realizing how cold I was.  They gave me some hot broth and a blanket and then I took the tour of sag wagon busses back to the finish area.

  In the med bus I was a hurting unit but I was also actually quite excited because I felt the enormous weight of the coordination issue being lifted off my shoulders.  I felt guilty getting all this support when I was not dejected or in need of serious medical care.  I mean don't get me wrong I wanted a hot bath and dry cloths like a man in the desert wants water but it still felt wrong to be happy in the dnf van.

  Post race I felt really bad for not finishing for all the people who supported me and I felt badly for all the press I had received in the build up to Boston.  I have had mixed feelings about the press from the beginning. Obviously by putting out this blog I had invited it and I wanted enough to get some shoe support and I got that.  I however have from the beginning figured this was a long road back and knew there was a good chance there would be serious bumps in the road.  On top of that all the press started to really happen just as I was hitting one of those bumps and it was an uncomfortable place to be.  I always try to be as honest as I can with press people, with most everyone really, but in the end you can't control what is written and so a lot of times the public information out there isn't a fair assessment.

  The point is I get, and appreciate, a ton of support from so many people out there and though I was happy with this race as I accomplished my process goal which was most important to me, I realized that I had fallen way short of any and all outcome goals and for people watching from the world around me that was a pretty big failure.  As a fan myself I know what it is like to root for someone and have them fall short and fail and it hurts.  It feels like you failed too.  Or at least like you have suffered a loss.  So I came up with a great idea to post an apology on Facebook.  That was stupid.  A few hours later I get back online to discover that the whole running world thinks I'm practically suicidal and they are saying some really nice things which made me feel all the more guilty.  Oh well…


 First to tell you that I know for sure 100% what was the problem would be a lie.  I have my theories and I'll address them but I could be wrong and only time will tell.  I will list every thing that I think could have been the issue.  I'm guessing that a few things together were the problem.  I will list them in order of how likely I think it is each was the issue or a major issue in my failure from the things I'm sure were at least part of the problem down to some things that I very much doubt were an issue but heck it could have been.

1.  My last good specific workout was February 18th.  Two months before the race.  I had hoped that with a couple close to specific workouts, 15k around mp and a 16 miler at about 85 to 90% of mp would be enough of a bridge to carry that specific work fitness to the day.  But the reality is I hadn't even been able to run long runs during this period and by the time I was 100% healthy it was time to taper.  I was able to train in non-marathon specific ways which meant that I am VERY fit but not ready for a marathon.  I never even made it to where I ran out of glycogen because my muscles were so unready they quit first.  I think if I had been doing regular 20 to 22 milers I would have at least been able to go 20 or so before running out of glycogen and then struggling.

2. conditions.  I doubt very much these were the only issue I had but at the same time had the wind been at our backs I would have been running the same splits but with even less effort and I have no doubt I would have gone 16 miles, I was going to say 15 but the downhill 16th is a very easy mile to run, without any issues then I would have fought through the hills and really been hurting at 21 but running downhill with the wind at my back and salvaged a 2:20 or so.  I did end up hypothermic.  I tend to think it was a symptom of slowing down and struggling but it may have been something that was causing my body to work harder than it should and caused some of my struggles.

3. lack of long runs over the last 5 plus years.  As a symptom of the coordination problem I have not been able to do much running over 10 miles since 2010 or so.  I can do it now but I need to get a lot more in and that will help with muscular endurance.  I started in that direction but with the hiccups the last couple months not having those in my background became a much bigger problem.

4. Food.  I am eating a plant based diet now and I don't eat enough.  I don't think I ate enough the morning of the race.  I was STARVING after I dnf'd.  I'll have to address this and may add some animal products back into my diet.  If I had fallen apart at 18 to 20 miles I would think this was a bigger part of the problem I have a hard time believing I was struggling at 10 because of a poor breakfast though I have little doubt the poor breakfast played a big part in me passing out when I stopped.

5. Toughness.  I may not be as tough as I once was.  I was in a worse way in Berlin in 2009 and I didn't stop.  I wasn't really that bad off in NYC but still I lost coordination at 10k and I finished.  Now I dnf.  Try to remember I had powerful reasons to finish both those races.  At NYC I had a small by their standards but huge by my financial standards at the time appearance fee and I only got paid half if I didn't finish.  I'd post the amount but I think there was a non-discloser clause and thought I doubt very much they would sue me or anything I really like the NYRR and would like to do their events again and have no desire to piss them off.  At the world championships I was representing my country.  I was going to finish that race if I had to crawl to the line.  I am at my core a mediocre nobody from a nowhere town with little talent who trained hard for 10 years with no real prospects of success and suddenly I am wearing the Team USA kit, hardest national team in the world to make, on the second highest stage available.  There was no way under the sun I was going to drop out as long as I had anything I could do to prevent it.  For Boston I was there to test the coordination first and if things were going well try to run an OT qualifier.  Honestly I would have been happy in those conditions to run anything in the low 2:20's but that wasn't happening and I felt no strong need to fight a war just for the sake of finishing.  DNF or 2:30 something for a time look about the same to me at this time.

 Finally I'd like to respond to a couple of comments that I thought were fair and probably represented what a lot of others were thinking but maybe not writing.

  One poster asked something like what happened to you guys?  I assume referring to both Ruben and I.  Given the conditions I thought Ruben ran well.  He was a bit banged up as well and wasn't able to do great specific workouts but was able to do some pretty solid long runs.  He ran 2:21.  I feel looking at the top finishers the course was probably 4 to 5 minutes slower than a Dubia or Berlin or Boston with Tailwind.  Given that Ruben ran 2:16 to 2:17 type effort which is very good.  For me I think I have addressed what I think happened.

  Another poster put up a nice well thought out thing on why not quit teaching.  It kinda pissed Melissa off but I thought it was a good post.  He pointed out that working with kids you give them a lot of energy even if you don't realize it.  Believe me I realize it.  I don't work a very long day.  I'm at work from about 7:45 to about 3:15, some days I have to stay until 5 or later but not often.  I leave TIRED.  I don't sit except at lunch and emotionally you put a lot in.  There are just no breaks.  So why not quit and focus a 100% on a sub 2:12 like the poster suggested.

  Well some reasons are financial.  My best year I made about $18k from just running income.  If I ran a 2:11 right now I would guess I would struggle to get a shoe contract for much more than 10K.  I made those sacrifices but I don't want to set myself, and my family, for financial hardship or even just more difficulty down the line just to chase a PR.  I spent a number of years doing that and paid my dues and paid my financial price.  I have a nice life now and I don't want to sell my house and put Melissa through all that for a second run.

  Would it make it easier to run fast?  sure.  But this is the real world and that isn't an option for me in my current life.  If I do run very fast while teaching and the chance to run full time and make a real living doing it arrises I would consider it.  I have also considered trying to find a less stressful job but frankly I like my work and every job has its advantages and disadvantages.

  I want to run fast but I am living a normal life now and I like my life.  I'm not in a place where I want to gamble our home or financial future on a time chase that would be purely about personal satisfaction.  In the current state of international running for a guy my age quitting my job to try and run 2:11 or even 2:09 is like a man quitting his job to run 2:30.  You can do it if it really means that much to you but if you are doing for YOU and your own personal satisfaction.  I'm not satisfied with my running but it is a rare night I wake up NEEDING to run 2:10.  I can live with the few nights it happens because my family and our security is worth more to me.

Splits from Boston
2-5:14.92 (10:21.86)
3-5:12.40 (15:34.26)
4-5:12.65 (20:46.91)
5-5:16.88 (26:03.79)
6-5:10.22 (31:14.01)
7-5:15.16 (36:29.17)
8-5:13.15 (41:42.32)
9-5:18.06 (47:00.38)
10-5:22.54 (52:22.92)
11-5:23.45 (57:46.37)
12-5:31.07 (1:03:17)
13-5:31.19 (1:08:48)
Halfway 1:09:27
14- 5:37.32 (1:14:25)
15- 5:52.31 (1:20:18)
16- 5:33.77 (1:25:52)
17-6:02.83 (1:31.54)
18-6:15.13 (1:38:09)
19-6:10.64 (1:44:20)

 Some photos I snagged off Facebook that show me running upright! (this is key for me to hold coordination)

Photo by Caitlyn Germain

Photo by Danielle Brideau Lussier

Photo by Jeff Thelen

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Boston is Monday!

  A couple days ago I got what I thought was a well thought out and in depth comment on the blog.  I as reading it on my phone and had no idea who the poster "Kemibe" was but I decided I would like to use it for my race preview blog as a jumping off point.  So when I got a chance I got on a real computer with plans of tracking down this poster to get his permission.  Then I saw it was Kevin Beck, who I know a bit, and is a fairly well known running writer and a 2:24 marathoner.  Kevin said is was ok if I used his post as a jumping off and I have offered him the ability to provide a rebuttal or extension to anything if he likes down the line.  I will put Kevin's comment in its full glory at the bottom of the article but I will basically be responding to it in the main body and will put Kevin's post in red and my response in blue.  To keep things simple.

I understand your need to "run defensively" while still aiming to take clear advantage of your undeniable fitness. But I wouldn't necessarily expect that you can count on your performance being only as good as the extent to which you are *assured* of falling apart. You may actually get to experience the *ordinary* pain of taking yourself to the functional aerobic-plus-fuel exhaustion limit -- and wouldn't that be nice for a change! 
I love this part of the comment.  It highlights a fine line I'm trying to walk in my mental preparation for Monday.  I have no intention of running defensively  BUT I am very much going in with a 'defensive' mind set of expecting problems.  This is for a few reasons.  One based on how my training has gone and how early in changing my form and returning to this long fast running I am I honestly expect that I will lose coordination at some point in the race.  Might not happen but the best guess I have is that it will be an issue at some point.  Two I believe it is very important to not go into races expecting perfection and ease.  It almost never happens that way and if you are anticipating it then you are much more likely to crumble or at least slow down in the face of adversity.  I am a very big fan of visualizing all sorts of possible problems that may arise and visualize myself overcoming them.  

You said explicitly that your body isn't the biomechanical mess it was just five months ago. And you will be more comfortable than you've been at any time in recent memory because you'll be tapered and rested. You may be able to count on a pleasant surprise from the ol' chassis.
I am certainly not the biomechanics mess I was five months ago but I am still a biomechanics mess.  If you don't believe me watch the workout section of this runners world video from last thursday, ,  there is a point they show me working hard towards the end of my workout and my shoulders are all hunched up and my head is forward.  I'm a work in progress and I have come a very long way but I have a very long way to go still.  I have never viewed this race as an end.  This run is strictly a chance to see where I am.  I may indeed get the pleasant surprise from the 'ol chassis as you say and run  2:13 to 2:15 and be able to really fight in after Heartbreak.  However if I do it doesn't change my situation because I still need to get to where this form is MY form and I don't need to think about it and I don't have bad days.  

Hopefully you have all the bases covered in the usual ways and haven't let concern over your form going into the toilet overwhelm everything else.
  I'm well prepared.  The banged up foot prevented me from being incredibly well prepared.  I am super fit.  As fit or fitter than I was for the Olympic Trials in 2007.  Not as fit as I was for NYC in '08 or for my 5k PR but very very fit.  I would have liked two more specific workouts but I didn't need them.  Now to be honest much of the work needed to run a marathon is the work I needed to work on the coordination so this made not getting too wrapped up in the coordination a lot easier.  If I was prepping for 5k pb I would be screwed right now.

 I strongly doubt this is the case, as you strike me as more of a thinking man's marathoner than any fast guy I can recall reading about. But one more shell from the peanut gallery can't hurt.
I'm not sure if you are kissing my ass here or making fun of the rest of the Olympic Qualifiers out there but I'm good with it either way.

Maybe if you regard this as a stepping stone to sub-2:15 Nate (who was ready for faster than that in Nov. 2007 -- 1:42-flat-ish at 20 miles...well, you've done the math) (I have I think I would have gone around 2:13:40 if I hadn't lost coordination and don't forget that was a pretty hilly course) instead of the one real chance to get to that point en masse, it will help you. 
 I touched on this above but this is 100% how I feel about this.  I mean I have found a system that I can follow and stay healthy and I'm on the road to recovery with the coordination even if Monday is the worst day I have had since November and a total shit show the future looks bright and sunny.  My dreams of running two 2:10s a year for 15 straight years may have sailed but honestly I'm happy with my career as it stands today.  I finished top 10 at couple USA championships.  I qualified for USA indoors a couple times.  I qualified for a World Championships for goodness sake.  Don't forget I only ran 4:32/9:47 in high school and I was a walk on at a D2 school.  Do I have other goals I think could have been achieved or could still be achieved?  Of course. But if it never happens I can walk away knowing I did pretty damn well. 
  Point is my current goal is to see where I am.  If I have no need to PR or run the time I think I deserved along the way.  I would REALLY like to qualify for the trials, sub 2:18, but I'm not going to be too upset if it doesn't happen.  More than anything I want information.

You're far from old, even if you feel every one of those lifetime miles almost every day. I was feeling my age a bit before getting a good yoga routine going but now I feel like I did 10 years ago.  I'm starting to put half an eye on the master scene. Even a well-executed 2:18 to 2:20 would be a huge confidence boost -- if you do it the 1:06/1:14 way you've still done it but it'll smack of too much familiarity to be as useful to you as an "if only I'd gone out harder" mind-game. If I run 2:18 to 2:20 I'm going to be pretty happy regardless of if I go out in 1:06 or 1:10.  I agree I will feel better about it if it happens with a slower start and going longer without a problem but I'm just going to run the race as it unfolds and not go in with too rigid a plan.

Anyway, you have more than earned your fucking shot at being Nate again, and I will be proud as hell to be cheering you on with 3.2 miles and hopefully no more than about 16-17 minutes to go.
Kevin told me I should remove the fucking from the above bit but I like it so it stays.  I totally agree with that I have my chance to be me again.  I don't know if that will be Monday but if it is I'm ready to dig down and grab it.  If not I'm SO much fitter than I was a few months back because of the ability to do the long workouts again.  I know I can continue to get fitter in the coming months and that I will get many more shots at the marathon and that is so exciting to me.  My feeling is that I may or not rock one on Monday or this fall but even if the road ahead of me is long and winding road between me and a good marathon I'm cool with that.  Honestly if sometime in the next 5 years I nail a great one it is an awesome topper to a running career that frankly has exceeded what I honestly deserve if not quite accomplished the world domination I wanted.

This is Uta and I Running from the Runner's World article.

Kevin's original post without my interruptions.
I understand your need to "run defensively" while still aiming to take clear advantage of your undeniable fitness. But I wouldn't necessarily expect that you can count on your performance being only as good as the extent to which you are *assured* of falling apart. You may actually get to experience the *ordinary* pain of taking yourself to the functional aerobic-plus-fuel exhaustion limit -- and wouldn't that be nice for a change! 

You said explicitly that your body isn't the biomechanical mess it was just five months ago. And you will be more comfortable than you've been at any time in recent memory because you'll be tapered and rested. You may be able to count on a pleasant surprise from the ol' chassis.

Hopefully you have all the bases covered in the usual ways and haven't let concern over your form going into the toilet overwhelm everything else. I strongly doubt this is the case, as you strike me as more of a thinking man's marathoner than any fast guy I can recall reading about. But one more shell from the peanut gallery can't hurt.

Maybe if you regard this as a stepping stone to sub-2:15 Nate (who was ready for faster than that in Nov. 2007 -- 1:42-flat-ish at 20 miles...well, you've done the math) instead of the one real chance to get to that point en masse, it will help you. You're far from old, even if you feel every one of those lifetime miles almost every day. Even a well-executed 2:18 to 2:20 would be a huge confidence boost -- if you do it the 1:06/1:14 way you've still done it but it'll smack of too much familiarity to be as useful to you as an "if only I'd gone out harder" mind-game.

Anyway, you have more than earned your fucking shot at being Nate again, and I will be proud as hell to be cheering you on with 3.2 miles and hopefully no more than about 16-17 minutes to go.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mistakes I've Made a Few

 I think Ira Glass and I are the only two people in the world who don't like Frank Sinatra's classic song "My Way."  I also agree with Glass that the best line, only good line of the song, is "mistakes, I've made a few".  The one honest line in the whole song.  What I mean is if you are trying.  If you are going after something more than what you have been given then you are going to fail. You are going to make mistakes.  Suceeding comes in learning from them and moving forward.  Still those mistakes can stick with you a long time and sting in memory nearly as bad as in the doing.  So here I will highlight a very short list of some of my many many mistakes and what I learned from them and how often I repeated them.

  We'll start at the top.  Biggest mistake. I did core work off and on and with little or no direction.  I had some coaches who suggested it and others who left it to us to do it ourselves. I never had one who was all over it.  I don't think any old core work would have changed my life but I do believe if I had started doing a truly organized well thought out program, like the building a better running dvd stuff or John Cook's stuff I would have had fewer injuries and more to the point I would never have developed the coordination problem that has defined my career.  The answer to this problem was not dropped at my feet but I also didn't get out and go after it.

  To be honest if I could get in a time machine and go back and talk to my younger self I would tell him to go to yoga.  It works for me.  It is in balance it mixes flexibility with core strength and works all the joints in full range of motion.  I realize that me finding yoga back then is a long shot but again if I could go back in time that is what I would suggest to myself.  Oddly when I was in high school and not running nearly as well as I wanted I had a fantasy that an older successfully me would come back and tell me what I needed to do but it never happened,

  Strides.  I can't tell you how much I wish I had done more strides.  I think back to summer runs in high school and I would often do 10x100y sprints on the football field after the run but with 10 seconds rest.  It was a near vomit inducing session and totally not what I needed!  In fact it was everything I didn't need.  I was trying to make it HARD.  I though hard was better.  What did it accomplish?  It drove up my anaerobic fitness up but this was during the summer when I wasn't racing and any races I did were unimportant.  So a pointless gain there.  I was practicing sprinting in pain.  My form was failing apart.  I was building bad habits that would lead to injuries later.  Yet with such a small change this could have been exactly what I needed.  If I had taken full recovery between those 100's and focused on good strong form and feeling relaxed at speed it would have improved my form and my ability to relax a speed.  It would have built my running muscles up in a way that would have helped avoid injuries later down the line and would have helped me improve much faster as I developed aerobically later on.  Also more immediately I could have learned to be efficient at the faster paces and I would have run faster in high school as well.

  I kept up with this mistake through college and beyond.  At best I tended to do strides about once a week and rarely more than 10 of them.  I honestly think someone like me who has such speed issues and can handle a lot of work I should have been doing 20 to 40 strides a week from very early on.   When I have and do make them a priority my running improves but still I struggle getting them in sometimes.  I needed to make this a habit in the beginning and my overall career would have been a full notch higher than it was.

  Next up I was way late getting to aerobic work.  I don't think this hurt my overall development as I really got after this later but I think it did greatly slow my improvement and greatly hurt my high school and college careers.  If I had done more of this sooner, i.e. early in high school, and built my miles through high school in a steady way I would have run much better in high school and had a lot less injuries in college.   I ran at a jr/sr. high so I started training with the varsity in 7th grade.  I was running 30 miles my first week and my junior year in high school I was still running 30 miles a week.  I ran 10:22 for two miles my freshman year in high school but by the end of my junior year my personal best was only 10:06.  My senior year I upped the volume and ran 9:47.  So I improved 16 seconds in 3 years of steady low miles while trying to increase and improve workouts and then dropped 19 seconds in one year of increasing volume.  On top of that my improvement from my senior year in high school through college over the 3k from 9:10(estimated off 2 mile time) to 8:20 is greater than my improvement in high school!  There is no reason for that.  I was working hard in high school but to not increase your volume year to year is just stupid.  Had I increase my average weekly mileage by 10 to 15 miles a week each year of school I have no doubt I would have at least run around 9:20 for the two mile.

  Not only that but I would have been much much better prepared for the physical demands of college running and I would have avoided most if not all of the injuries I ran into there. Which means I would have likely run much faster there as well.

  Sadly my miles were largely low because of my high school coaches desire to help us avoid injuries.  As well intention-ed as this idea was, and it was EVERYWHERE in the 1990's it couldn't have been more wrong.  By doing more harder anaerobic work without building the aerobic system and the muscular system through steadily increasing easy mileage we were setting ourselves up for failure and injury in the long run.  So many high school coaches at the time were so proud that their athletes were 'under trained' and so would not be burnt out for college.  Thing is they were not ready to train in college. We were all two years of good training away from reasonable college training and that meant coaches at the NCAA level were forced to either risk injury by giving us the training we should be doing or to accept up front that we would only reach lower levels of performance because they were going to build us up like we should have been doing in high school for the first couple years.

  This isn't to say that more and harder is always better in high school it isn't.  There are a few very high profile programs that have great success in high school but who's athletes rarely have any success after school.  Even a quick glance at these programs shows they are doing high mileage with VERY hard high volume anaerobic work and very few athletes can sustain that physical pressure along with the emotional pressure to compete well.

  In those programs defense also.  When you have a really amazing program it is a community of success where each team member builds and helps all the others. Each team member has a part in creating the success of their teammates. Competing as part of the team has great meaning and value and this causes individuals to find their maximum best selves. It is very hard for an individual to succeed in a lesser program after being a part of something that 'magical'.  Suddenly the new goals seem cheap and the level of focus around them half-assed and as such sustaining it alone becomes very very hard.

  The last big mistake I want to talk about is a bit different.  The source of this failure is one of my greatest strengths.  As my coordination problem got worse and worse I refused to focus on other things and instead wasted season after season chasing a marathon return when I could have done better by focusing on other things and leaving the marathon until I was able to do some of the training.  Instead each time I had the faintest hope of a marathon return I would dive back in full force and re-enact my standard failure.  A few times I had real reason to do this but the rest were just silly.  The few cycles I stepped away I was rather successful.

  Don't get me wrong I was not going to make a national team at 5000m or anything.  I am however a guy who has run for running sake.  I have always been in it to get the best out of myself and as such a few more cycles to chase my best at the shorter distances though it would not have made me any more money or led to national titles could have produced a few real solid pr's and other 'neat' achievements.  The few cycles I did this on resulted in my short distance PB's, breaking 14' for 5k and qualifying for a couple of national championships indoors.

  In the end you will never avoid all mistakes.  It is about learning from your mistakes.  It is far far better to reach for the stars and fall short than to not reach for fear of failing.  Every great success in life has failed more times than you can count.  They have just learned from those mistakes and got up and dusted themselves off and moved forward.  That much smarter.  That much tougher and that much more humble for the experience.

  So yes mistakes I have made a few…  but I did it my way and unlike Frank I'm thankful for them all and I'm ready to make a few more.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Weekly Training Blog April 6 to 12, 2015 Starting to Taper


PM Road 10 in 63:59, first 2.5 with Melissa who was sick, first 5 with Uta, last 5 miles solo and a bit under 6min pace, strides total 10 miles

XT whartons, YTI, rubberbands, ankle drills.


PM 4 mile warm up with Uta in a bit under 27 minutes. Attempted Tempo run on a 2 mile loop by the house.  This was an mp tempo and I was thinking of trying to get 10 to 12 miles in but it was a crazy day at work and then Melissa was REALLY sick and I had to get Uta her run and I was a bit, ok a lot, distracted by some other life stuff.  Because of the Uta thing I needed to invent a new loop to do the tempo on and after some serious work on the computer I came up with this 2 mile loop that used the North Andover High Parking lot, sort of a zig zag through it.  I thought this loop might be a bit too hilly and it had some hard turns but I though as long as there wasn't anything going on at the high school it would be fine.  Of course there was a game and something else and I actually had physical contact with 2 cars on the first loop alone and came to a full stop 3 times on that loop only twice on the second loop.
  Anyway the first loop was a 10:23 and the second loop was 10:20, then on the third loop I stitched up and stopped at 5 miles in 25:48. 2 mile cool down. not a good day.

XT whartons, YTI, rubberbands, ankle drills


PM regular 10 loop, 60:10, strides after, very easy, felt good. 

XT whartons, YTI, rubberbands

this was a wierd day. Runners World wanted to film a day in the life but they wanted it to be representative of a 'normal day' not a taper day so we added in a morning run.  But it meant I had a couple of very nice guys with a video camera from when we got up at 5am until we went to bed. 

AM 4.2 miles with Melissa and Uta in light snow. 

PM 4.2 mile warm up with Uta, 26:53, dropped her off, skipping warm up and light drills, strides. Moneghetti Fartlek ( ) covered 4.125 miles which is the most I have done in this session.  It means I averaged 4:50.9 per mile/ 3:00.7 per k for the whole session.  Hard to know the paces of the on's and off's but I'd guess the on's were around 4:30 pace and the recoveries were around 5:10 but I am straight up guessing on that. jogged back to the house, about a quarter mile, went to the bathroom then did a 2 mile cool down in 13mins, then a few light runs across our causeway for the runners world guys and I was done.

XT whartons, YTI, rubberbands, ankle drills, skipping warm up and light drills.


PM started taper in ernest today which is a bit late for me so I only did 4 miles with Melissa and Uta, 30:17, very late run after another weird day for entirely different reasons.

XT whartons, YTI, rubberbands, ankle drills


AM went to bikram yoga

PM road 7, 43:13, strides

XT 90mins bikram yoga, whartons, YTI, rubberbands, ankle drills


AM regular 20k, hilly, 1:11:53, so 5:47 mile pace, very easy.  Just wanted to go fast enough to test the coordination a bit. strides after. 

XT whartons, YTI, rubberbands


bit more of a taper week than I was thinking it would be going into it but that is probably a good thing.  I have made my bed now I have to lay in it.  I'm not were I had thought I might be when things were clicking in early february but given the winter and where I was at the start of this whole thing I really have nothing to complain about.  
  I am very fit. My last couple of mona's and session of Aussie quarters show that.  Those are workouts you can't fake.  
  My coordination is worlds better than 5 months ago.
  My marathon fitness should be good enough.  I would have liked to put a few more of the marathon workouts a little closer to the race but that just isn't how things worked out.

  Predictions for marathon Monday?
Pain!- it is a marathon after all.  Sorry but I couldn't resist.  I love that line.

  Really my expectations are that I will have some coordination issues.  I will be very disappointed if I lose control before 20k and I'll be very happy if I hold coordination past 30k.  To put this in context at NYC in 2008, best shape I have been in when I raced a marathon I lost coordination at 10k and hobbled in to a mid 2:20's finish.  I also lost coordination at 10k in the world champs and ran low to mid 2:30's.  At the Olympic Trials I lost coordination at 30k and ran 2:14:56.  The last 10k there was 32:54.  So for a short while I can hold about 33min 10k pace while hobbling. I would guess I can do that for 15k or so now as I don't lose it as fully since my low back surgery.

  For expectations.  If pacing is good and the wind isn't too strong into the face and I hold coordination to 30k I expect I could run 2:14 to 2:15.
  If I hold to 20 to 25k I think 2:16 to 2:18.  
  If I have trouble before that it is going to be a really long day.

  Back in November when I started this journey this is about what I expected for my first attempt.  That I would be pretty fit thanks to a return to longer workouts but that I would be hoping to have about as much control as I did at the trials in '07.  I have been fighting this problem for the better part of a decade so it was unlikely it would just wash away completely in a short while.  I've made some huge strides and I feel pretty good about where I am but I do view this as just a stage in the comeback not the final finish line.

  I had for a while hoped that I would be at the finish now as things in January and February went much much better than I had anticipated but setbacks since than have me back on more of my original timeline which is fine. 

  I ended up getting a lot more press attention than I had expected which in some ways is nice.  Always good to feel the love.  But also feels very undeserved.  I am fit but I have done nothing to prove that and there are just so many really good guys out there.  It also makes you feel like you are making promises of great things.  Even if you don't want to.

  In terms of tactics I will run according to how the race unfolds. I'm not going out at 2:10 pace.  I'm not there.  I think Ruben wants to go with a small group targeting around 1:08 for the first half, I need to check in with him as I will adjust my early pacing according to what he wants.  I would like a bit quicker but most likely I would go in that group unless the leaders crawl out or there is another group I don't know about yet that is looking at 1:07 to 1:07:30 as I would strongly try to talk Ruben into that.   Honestly I'd like to see him out in 1:06 to 1:07 but he has been burnt a few times in the marathon so I don't think I can talk him into that. 

  Right now the long term forecast looks good for race day but a 10 day forecast in New England is worth about as much as a fortune cookie prediction so we'll see how that goes.   

  I hope everyone is well.   

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Weekly Training Blog March 30 to April 5, 2015 Sick.


PM definitely sick but not too bad, did bear hill 4.2 mile loop with Melissa and Uta in 28:33 hoping this would hold off getting any sicker. total 4.2 miles

XT whartons, YTI, ankle drills, rubber bands, eccentric calf raises.


Off Pretty sick could have forced it but a big bad killer cold right now would be the final nail in the coffin for boston.

XT whartons, rubberbands, ankle drills

Off sick

XT whartons, rubberbands, ankle drills


PM I had parent conferences in the evening and didn't have time to go home and run and get back so I ran from school after the kids left.  Out and back road 8 miles, 49:58, only minimal coughing post run and though I felt very sluggish and a bit hot and cold it wasn't bad.  The only thing was post run my sciatic pain went through the roof.  Obviously I have some back issues and though thanks to yoga I rarely have any issues for some reason whenever I am sick I get really bad sciatica.  On this day it was not too bad until after the run then it was horrid.  I could barely breath during conferences. and then I got very very little sleep. not good. total 8 miles

XT whartons, rubberbands

Off felt about the same as yesterday but with the lack of sleep and how bad the sciatica was yesterday I decided to concede another day. 

XT whartons, rubberbands and 3 mile walk with dog.


AM road 10 mile, 57:56, did first 5 with Uta in 28:40, slowed down a bit on my own for the 2nd 5. very windy but warmer, 40's.  Felt ok, not great, and sciatica didn't kick up after so that was a huge plus. total 10

XT whartons, rubberbands, ankle drills, wharton foot stretches, dog walk.  still pretty sick so opted out of yoga- going in a dehydrated state is not fun.


8AM windy 13mph, about 39 degrees, cool with windchill. but there was a lot of melting the last few days so I was able to get on the North Andover Track, in all fairness they plowed it and if they hadn't it wouldn't have been fully clear but just plowing doesn't work in New England because you end up with an icy mess because of the high humidity-compairitively- So we wait for spring to come in as well.
anyway 5k warm up in 19:52, skipping warm up, light drills, strides, 200m in 31 then some jogging.  Also had to use 3 hurdles to hold back an inside lane gate that was being blown onto the track though by the last two laps of my workout the wind had knocked over all three hurdles and I had to go around the gate.  Did Aussie quarters (8x400m with steady 200m jog before every rep including the first one) did them 'marathon style aiming for only 70 on the reps and 40 to 42 for the recoveries.  Was surprised to be able to hit the paces with the wind which I would guess made it about 1 second per lap harder than the time shows.  Ran 14:50 which is pretty good for me even marathon style which favors my strengths and I get a faster overall time.  I felt very weak during the workout but other than that I didn't feel any effect from being sick.  It is unusual when I get sick for it to last less than a couple weeks so the days off and the light workout last Sunday paid off a bit though I really really wanted to be able to do a marathon workout today but based on how I felt after this one that would have been a really poor choice.
200- 39.29
                 400-70.09  (1:49.38-600)
200-42.15                   (2:31.53-800)
                 400-70.31  (3:41.84-1200)
200-41.40                   (4:23.24-1400)
                 400-69.85  (5:33.09-1800)
200-41.80                   (6:14.89-2k)
                 400-69.94  (7:24.83-2400)
200-40.65                   (8:05.48-2600)
                 400-70.57  (9:16.05-3k)
200-42.18                   (9:58.23-3200)
                 400-71.24  (11:09.47-3600)
200-40.49                   (11:49.96-3800)
                 400-70.84  (13:00.80-4200)
200-40.87                   (13:41.67-4400)
                 400-69.18  (14:50.85-4800)

2k cool down in 7:40

Summary- Yup that sucked again.  I really would like to have at least one last marathon workout.  I realize that it is possible to race a marathon on fitness alone but it is a gamble and I'm not a gambler.  I have to make a choice now.  Accept the lack of recent marathon workouts and trust that I have enough specific work from earlier in the cycle and just go into my my normal two week taper or do either a 3/4 length or full length marathon workout during the week.  Marathon workouts after school are less than ideal but I'm not comfortable doing it 7 or 8 days out next weekend so that means Tuesday to Thursday this week. 

  The positive is that I'm quite fit.  The negative is I would really like to have had one or two more specific workouts more in the last month.  I'll talk more about goals in the next two blogs but as a general guideline I'm quite fit.  I have some concerns that I may not have done enough glycogen work to get to the finish hammering.  I may have done enough but it is close.  I am confident I have done enough long and strong work that I don't expect muscular fatigue to be an issue.  In the end my biggest concern is just where is the coordination right now.  I think on a good day I can hold it for 30k, which is how far it held at the Olympic Trials in '07 but I think it would take a great day to hold it much past that.  I fear a bad day where I have trouble at 15k or 20k.  So I will likely do a long run or two to focus on form even though I'm getting very close to race day.