I'm on Christmas Break this week so I will try to post a few blogs. If you want the pure training blog that will be next. I'll give my training of the last few months but for this one I'll just talk about what I have been up to since my dnf at Boston in April.
After Boston my recovery was pretty quick. Both physically and mentally. I think that the mental side was key. Keeping control of the leg that long was a huge emotional boost and so I got back to some moderate running after a couple of weeks. However there were some troubles looming for my running.
Melissa and I had decided to sell our town home. We bought it as a short sale at the bottom of the market and the condo market where we were was flattening out a bit while the single family home market was showing no signs of slowing. Our realtor showed us a bunch of comps that told us if we could update our kitchen, very out of date, we could get a much higher price. To max profit we did a lot of the work ourself. This dominated our life. I even had to take a week off from running to get the job done which I NEVER do. Also during this time frame I was more and more feeling run down and exhausted. Even after we finished the reno I just couldn't seem to get the ball rolling. As summer arrived I just was flat as ever. I only worked part time all summer but I wasn't really able to train at all. I was running but only 60 to 80 miles a week most of the time with almost no workouts and almost no races. I ran a 15:17 5k at the York Days 5k on July 26. That is a flat fast course and I had great competition the whole way and actually lost. What was worse is that I was surprised I could run that fast based on what I had been doing. I just kept chalking it up to the stress of selling the house and trying to buy a new one.
At the end of the summer I got a horrible stomach virus. Already living at the low end of my race weight, 162. I dropped 13 pounds in a week. Obviously some of that was water weight but the point is I was wrecked. During this time I went to the doctor. I see a doctor in Melissa's office. The two of them had been arguing all summer about my vegetarian diet so he ran some extra blood work when I was there. It turned out he was right. I had stripped my body of pretty much all its creatine and was deficient of proteins as well.
So around labor day I began supplementing with creatine and eating meat again. Steadily I felt better. Still easy to exhaust but with a little bounce in my legs. I had a couple good weeks of training and then ran a 31:39 for 12th at the cow harbor 10k but given the conditions, hot, and how I had been doing just a couple weeks before this was a big step in the right direction.
Also by October we had sold our town home and made enough money to pay off Melissa's rather excessive student loans and still be able to buy a single family home complete with fenced in yard for Uta and have less monthly expenses then we had in the town home. A pretty big win all around. Over late September and early October we moved twice, out of our place, stayed in Melissa's parents house and then finally into our new place. Despite this I was doing some decent workouts, though my mileage was low. I raced a few races over this stretch culminating in a solid 14:40 5k, 13 straight years with at least one sub 15, and a 31:12 effort at the USATF-NE cross country championships.
At this point I was actually happier with my training finally coming around and how I felt in workouts, not totally dead, then I was with the racing which though better than it had been was obviously sub par. I had originally planned a late fall half marathon but I decided instead to begin looking for a winter one as I needed to actually train for a little bit.
I found the Jacksonville bank half marathon scheduled for January 3rd. Richard Fannin was putting together a field for this usually sleepy race so I asked to be added in.
I didn't have a ton of time but I was already fairly fit. Most importantly I had been able at this point to do a 25 or 30k fundamental tempo run which was really helping my fitness. I would soon stretch that out to a very strong 36k, about 22.5 miles, at under 5:30 mile pace. In that weeks that followed I did a few decent workouts, a monaghetti fartlek where I covered over 4 miles, a 24:33 8k tempo and a 30:43 10k tempo. Then I got sick and and though I was able to keep running I didn't do any workouts for the last three weeks. Finally Sunday, now a week out from the half marathon, I did a 13 mile run with the last two miles at half marathon pace. I was able to run 9:41 without it feeling too bad so hopefully I'll be alright next weekend. Though in the long run I don't really care if I am or not. I'm healthy. I have found a training cycle that I can maintain around my job and with yoga I am healthy. Also in the last few weeks I have got some exercises that are helping continue the improvement in my posture while running which should continue my progress forward on the coordination front.
Looking to Jacksonville I am aiming to run with the main pace group which is going at 4:55 a mile. The course is flat and with 60 men entered looking for a sub 1:05 there should be just a huge group to hang in with. A sub 1:05 from the front on even a 'fast' New England course is a really tough effort but on a super flat course in a large pack running together it is not nearly as high a bar so I am optimistic that despite my poorly timed cold I have a decent shot at qualifying.
I'm also equally excited that Melissa has had the breakthrough of a career over the last couple of months and I have paced her through some sessions that tell me she is ready for an absolutely huge PB so I figure even if I am not able to slip under 1:05 it should be a good day.
After Jacksonville if I qualify I will do a few marathon workouts. I have done enough fundamental tempo's that I should be able to do some good workouts without any problems. Actually if I qualify I will be quite optimistic about running well in LA. Being a natural marathoner combined with my training if I can hold coordination for the full race, which seems increasingly likely, I should only slow about 5 to 6 seconds per kilometer over the marathon distance. For example I averaged 3:08 per k in my tune up half for the Olympic Trials and averaged just under 3:12 per k in the trials on two courses of similar difficulty. So a 1:04:59 would mean targeting a 2:13:30 to 2:14:12 marathon. I know that sounds crazy but keep in mind the '08 trials was a hilly course. Had it been flat I would have targeted a 2:10. Also even with the loss of coordination I think I would have run 2:11 high or 2:12 low on that day had the course been faster.
Point is I'm not saying I am fitter than I was in the fall of '07. I am saying the LA course looks faster than the NYC course and it is possible I could run a faster time than I did on that tougher course if I hold coordination the whole way, which I did not in NYC.
The last part is key. Based on workouts leading up to the 2008 NYC marathon I thought I could run 10 seconds per mile faster then I had at the trials the fall before. The NYC course and the trials course were of similar difficulty and I used the same courses and same workouts to get ready as I had the year before only I was running 10 to 12 seconds per mile faster. Thing is the coordination was getting worse and worse and by shortly after 10k I was peg legging and my day was all done except the crying.
There are three keys to running a fast marathon. 1. the general fitness to do so. 2. marathon specific fitness-this is the achilles heel of most americans. You really, even if you are not a natural marathoner, shouldn't slow down more than 5% from your half marathon pace to your marathon pace, if you are properly prepared and the courses are similar. This means a 1:02:14 is equal to a mid 2:10. Think of how many americans run in that range for the half and just how few are sub 2:11. Before people go crazy on me for this look at the top kenyans and Ethiopians of the last decade since switching to the Italian system in the lat 2000's the 5% slow down is pretty standard. Also a guy like Meb has a bigger slowdown but on different courses. He would run 1:01 on a flat fast course then 2:09 at NYC a tough course. Certainly in an apple to apple comparison he would only slow 4 or 5% and he is quite explosive, 27:13 10k. Of course if you are still judging Meb by his marathon PB and not recognizing that he ran his best efforts on tough courses and in tough conditions your a lost cause. Obviously if he had focused his career on rotterdam and berlin instead of Boston, NYC and the Olympics he would have run in the 2:05 range at some point along the way and been sub 2:08 many times.
3. you need to be physically healthy enough to mechanically run up to your fitness for 26.2 miles. This has been my achilles heel. Though over the last 13 months I have begun to see the light at the end of this long long dark tunnel and whether I'll take my first step out of the other side on February 13th or if it will wait a bit longer I feel confident I'll be back in the long race, in a real and effective way, this year.
Hope your well and I'll try to put together a blog of my training tonight or tomorrow.