Sunday, August 26, 2012

Week in Review

102 miles
11 runs
15-mile long run
2 Frappuccinos
3 meals from Life Alive (#obsessed)
3 AFDs (oops)

It's hard to believe, but this marks 7 of the past 9 weeks at 100 miles or higher. For most elite and professional runners, this is bordering on mundane. For most "normal" people, this is bordering on insane. For me, someone whose ability and mindset resides somewhere in the middle of those two groups, it is unquestionably the longest stretch of self-proclaimed "high mileage" training I've ever been able to string together at one time. I would be lying if I didn't admit I'm pretty surprised I've been able to do it. Not necessarily from a logistical standpoint--although trying to fit in the miles while working full-time and traveling here and there and everywhere in between has presented its share of challenges--but simply because I've never been able to maintain a volume level even close to this without physically breaking down. This time, things could not be more different. Despite bouts of fatigue and tiredness--the past seven days being a salient example of this--overall I've found myself feeling stronger, fitter and, inexplicably, faster as the weeks pass, despite doing very little in the way of structured workouts or races. Don't get me wrong; I am keenly aware that many weeks and hurdles separate me from my end goal of the Philly Marathon, but I'm convinced that my summer training has provided me with my best base fitness ever leading into the fall season.

Battle Road: the site of another stellar Sunday long run with Jordan, Jenn, Emily, Caroline, Wayne, Terry and Kevin
Looking ahead, I've got one more week of 100+ on tap before taking a slight break. I plan to frontload the week in anticipation of the Labor Day weekend and the inevitable debauchery of the Smith-Tarpy wedding on Saturday (which unfortunately means I'm unable to participate in the Chrisman bachelorette debauchery in the California wine country). With a busy first week of September ahead, including four days of event/expo madness at the Chicago Half-Marathon, it only makes sense to anticipate a decrease (if not altogether halt) in my ambitious mileage pursuits. Since plenty of marathon-specific intensity awaits me come late September, I have no doubt the reprieve is well-timed. Until then, however, I'll carry on with the new normal.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

No Rest For the Wicked 5k: At Least I'm Consistent

AM: 8 miles easy
PM: 2.5 mile w/u
Target: 5k tempo
Actual: 4.99k in 17:16
1/2 mile c/d
Daily total: 14 miles

The last time I ran this 5k fun run almost a month ago, I finished in 17:17. The week before that, 17:20. So I suppose I shouldn't be entirely surprised that tonight I finished within a few seconds of both of those efforts. I've got consistency going for me, which is nice.

Unlike those other two instances, however, this one was special due to a particularly high concentration of Karhu and Craft participants. In honor of our new hire, Stacy, being in town for training, Jordan and I also convinced several other of our coworkers to attend. (Potentially this was accomplished by luring them with the prospect of beer and food afterward.) It was definitely cool to jog up to the triangle after our warmup and see Stacy, Scott, Chris and Jenn in addition to the increasingly familiar faces of the regular Thursday night contingent.

To be honest, as for the run itself I felt pretty beat. I've been especially tired this week--I'm assuming it's not good when your first thought upon waking every morning is the mental calculation of how many more hours until you can return to the inviting folds of your comforter--which I'm guessing is due to residual fatigue from last week's trip. (Which trip, you ask? The one I promised to regale you with in great detail in my most recent Week in Review? What can I say...I'm even too tired to blog.) I had an amazing time soaking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest summer weather and running in some great locations--Forest Park in Portland, Greenlake in Seattle and the exquisite Stanley Park in Vancouver, to name a few--but I honestly think my body is still recovering from the combination of hours upon hours of driving, Friday night's restless redeye flight and the time zone difference. Oh yeah, and running 100+ miles somewhere in between. At any rate, despite my best attempts at recovery I just haven't felt superb on a single run this week, and tonight's tempo was no exception. I let Jordan drag me around and managed to hang on with mounting dismay as the screws gradually tightened from a lackadaisical opening kilometer to a seemingly all-out final one. The only time I've been more relieved to finish this run was the week when my lunch found itself barreling through my digestive tract like a high-speed bullet train with an indecorous one-way ticket. At least on that night I had something to distract me from the discomfort of the actual workout. Given how I felt tonight, I was actually pleasantly surprised to see the final time flashing on my watch at the finish. And with the rest of the Karhu crew following closely behind, there was little time to dwell on how terrible I felt. No rest for the wicked...especially when it's dinnertime!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

(Pacific Northwest) Week in Review

102 miles
11 runs
3 states and 1 province (MA, OR, WA, BC)
12 hours on airplanes
5 AFDs

Badass view from my hotel in downtown Vancouver. Stanley Park is the huge wooded area between the buildings and the mountains.

The left side of my view. Not too shabby.
Ahhhh I'm overdue for an update as promised and I don't have time to provide an adequate one right now...but I wanted to at least get the stats down (and share a few sweet pics) before I forget. I'll do my best to fill in the details ASAP!

Charles River Tempo

~3k w/u
Target: 12 miles @6:00 pace
Actual: 5.5 miles @6:00 pace; 5 min. bathroom/jog break; 2.5 miles @6-5:45 pace; 3 mile c/d
Total: 13-14 miles

Despite being fewer than 24 hours removed from a busy week on the west coast and a redeye flight (all of which I will recap in my "Week in Review" if you can stand the suspense until then), I was excited to get up early and head into the city for this run. The air was cool, the group promised to bring a positive vibe, and I would finally be reunited with Emily after a summer apart. Never mind the fact that this would be my longest tempo run attempt in many months by a healthy margin; I was game to fall in with the group and hang on for as long as I could. That said, as we drove toward the Charles and discussed the week's training, Jordan was insistent that I not "go to the well" in this effort. In addition to my general state of fatigue, I'd also run 90 minutes/13+ miles uptempo on Friday morning in Vancouver's Stanley Park and I was wear testing a brand new pair of pre-production lightweight trainers for Karhu R&D. In other words, all signs pointed to me not feeling fantastic.

And yet, from the outset, I did. I fell comfortably in line behind two male BAA runners, then Jordan, then Emily and Jenn Donovan. My breathing was comfortably even and my stride felt smooth and relaxed. We were tracing the "fast" tempo route, a new (to me) section along the Charles that felt more conducive to finding a rhythm to the 4.25 mile route I've always run with the group. I intentionally didn't look at my watch or try to deduce splits, as I wanted to neither feel emboldened nor intimidated by the numbers displayed there. I was simply along for the ride, feeling out my alleged fall marathon pace. All was going well until just past five miles when I felt some rumbling down below. No sooner did I begin to despair than we (literally and figuratively) turned a corner and I spotted a Dunkin Donuts tucked in a strip center across the street. Proving myself to still be worthy of the "Green Lightning" moniker, I stealthily slipped off the back of the group, darted across the four-lane road and into DD, took care of business, and was outside casually jogging toward the group by the time they reappeared from the opposite direction after the six-mile turnaround. I hadn't intended the break, but once it happened I was hopeful I could keep up with the group until the end. That plan promptly went out the window when Jordan hit the front and the pace palpably dropped. In the span of a few minutes I went from completely at ease to decidedly out of my comfort zone--a telltale sign of my recent lack of workouts. Sure enough, after the next symphony of Garmin beeps I heard someone mutter "5:45," and that confirmed what was becoming increasingly obvious: it was time for me to shut things down. Meanwhile Jenn had already dropped back a bit but was still chugging along faster than 6-minute pace, and Emily was doggedly matching the guys step for step. Part of me yearned to keep pressing and see how much farther I could go, but I reluctantly yielded to the more mature, sensible part that knew I'd taken on enough for this particular day. I slowed to a stop, gathered my breath for a few seconds, then set off on a loping jog toward our start/finish spot. By the time I arrived everyone had scattered off in the directions from which they'd originally come, leaving only Emily, Jordan and I to set off on a half-hearted cooldown jog before deciding it would be much more fun to stop running and go get breakfast. So we did. And it was.

All in all, not a bad morning.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

(Record High!) Week in Review

106 miles
11 runs
16-mile long run
4 days in ATL
4 AFDs

Knowing that I spent the entire weekend in Atlanta, one would assume that the title above referred to the temperatures. But no--the weather was unseasonably, unreasonably mild--and, indeed, I'm happy to report that I set a new all-time high mileage record! To be honest--and I hope via type I'm able to convey this in a way that sounds adequately incredulous and not the least bit boastful--I was actually shocked by how easy it was. I'm starting to realize something that real elite runners usually say but that I always doubt, which is that over time the accumulation of miles no longer acts as a mechanism that wears you down, but rather one that builds you up stronger from one day to the next. This summer "base" building period is literally that; the foundation upon which every day you layer another brick, until one day you step back wide-eyed and look around in awe: I built that. My summer house isn't quite finished yet, but after seven straight weeks of high mileage training (including one down week), it's well on its way. 

It was perhaps fitting that I came to this realization while spending the weekend in Atlanta, working and running and spending time with my bestie Brooke. After all, the ATL is where this now world-famous, critically-acclaimed blog got its start, way back in the summer of 2008. Back then I was just beginning to dabble in "serious" running and had enlisted Jeff to coach me in my first ever marathon training block. Before the Olympic Trials, before the All-American honors, before Queens, there was my then-ambitious goal of trying to break three hours at the Marine Corps Marathon--which, for the record, I failed to do, dropping out at mile 20 due to stomach problems. I was just learning the running vernacular, discovering what it felt like to "double" (also part of the vernacular) and feeling like hot stuff for nailing mile repeats at 6-minute pace. This weekend, as I cruised around some of my old familiar streets and running routes, I marveled at how far I've come. Six minutes is now my target marathon pace, and it doesn't scare me.  

It is interesting, if purely coincidental, that this trip and that pivotal summer both occurred during the Olympics. Four years ago I wouldn't have considered qualifying for the 2012 Trials, much less placing in the top 50. Who knows how much I can accomplish between now and Rio? I am not a dreamer but a realist, and I know I have zero chance of ever making an Olympic team. But do I think that at the next Olympic Trials I'll be able to toe the line with more experience, more confidence and the ability to mix it up with the nation's best? I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't. And sometimes all it takes is a reminder of where you've been to reinforce your commitment to where you're going.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Week in Review

100 miles
11 runs
17-mile long run
2 runs with Dad
1 5k victory
3 Frappuccinos

By all accounts, this was a successful return to high mileage after last week's relative break. I'm still equally pleased and perplexed by Thursday's near-PR 5k despite having done no tangible workouts in several months. Heck, I ran a full five seconds faster than at the BAA 5k in April--arguably a faster course and better weather--when I was crushing 5k and 10k workouts left and right. If anything, Thursday reinforced my commitment to stay the course with this "Summer of Malmo" training for at least another month. I feel surprisingly fit and stronger by the day, and I can only imagine how this will benefit me in the fall if I can stay healthy and stick with it.

Tied with the 5k for the best part of this week's training was the weekend mileage with my dad. Jordan and I had a great time hosting my parents in our new condo and showing them some of our favorite spots in Salem. Unfortunately, despite my assurances about the mild New England summer, the miserably hot and humid weather indigent to my home state seemed to have followed my parents across the country. For my dad, who has suffered through countless sweltering runs over the past few months, I'd hoped Mother Nature would provide a much-needed reprieve. Instead he was forced to slog through a few tough morning runs, which he did without (much) complaining because he's pretty darn tough. Weather aside, as always it was a treat to share some miles with him.

I'd love to continue sharing my thoughtful recap and training musings, but I've got to go eat some ice cream. All this running is making me hungry, and tomorrow will bring more of the same. Time to top off the tank!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Beverly Yankee Homecoming 5k

AM: 45 mins. easy (6 miles)
PM: 2.5 mile w/u
Target: 5k race @17:10-17:20
Actual: 17:06

I don't have time to write about the race now, so hopefully this article from the Salem News will suffice: I will say I wish they'd posted my chip time, as in that case I would've actually tied my road PR set two years ago at Greek Fest. Why is this important? Simply because it strengthens my running resume to be able to list a PR more current than 2010. Of course, the easiest solution is just to hurry up and run sub-17, a goal that still eludes me. All that aside, given this week's ambitious frontloading--60 miles on my legs as I toed the line tonight--and the dog day summer weather that finally made its presence known in New England, I'm pleased with tonight's effort. Special shout-out to the other half of Team KinLo for his successful return to the road race scene!