Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An update from the sidelines

As you may have guessed, there’s not much running going on in the Mainwaring household right now!

The “issue that hopefully wouldn’t impact my training too much” that I referred to in my last post became a rather large issue as it transpired! I ran the 5k (second amongst a throng of high school kids) on the Saturday and was sore afterwards, didn’t run Sunday then stubbornly insisted on running 11 miles on Memorial Day with Mike and Ben. The company was great but the run was horrible and this was where I really dug myself into a hole!

Since then I have run a little, spent time with Dr Duffy, swum a lot and last night received the most painful but hopefully beneficial massage and stretch of my life under the hands of my new Ukrainian friend Tim! Basically my entire left side is a mess of knots, adhesions, inflammations and what not. Pretty much my entire right side too, but not as manifestly bad as the left at this point! It appears that after years of pounding the roads and following that with sitting in my car and at a desk all day my body has finally had enough “right that’s it, you’re not doing much to look after me I’m going to have to give you some pain to stop you from running and do something about it!”

So the goal over the next few weeks and indeed going forward indefinitely is to get on top of these issues and make stretching, massage and strengthening a much more integral element of my training and lifestyle. Then maybe, just maybe, I can get back on track to run a solid marathon in Philly later this year and carry on running competitively as I get older!

I’ll keep you posted

Friday, May 25, 2012

A pain in the arse

Howdy folks, I figured an update from the Captain was in order as I emerge from my down time and get ready to launch into my next phase of training- hopefully….

As you know I took a whole blissful week off after Twilight. I still seemed to wake up early every morning but instead of having to groggily lace up and get out of the door I was able to make myself a proper breakfast, play my moves on Words With Friends and spend some time with my kids before I went to work. By the Saturday of course I was itching to get back out there and back out there I have been since then with a week of ‘easy’ running.

The first couple of days felt a bit weird as my legs adjusted to being back out there. Then for a couple of days I felt good; refreshed and eager. By the middle of the week however I just didn’t feel great. My legs felt heavy and achy and it was a chore to get out the door and run. I didn’t know what was going on. I soon realized the source of my problems though, hence the title of the post. It appears the glute issue I have been fighting and largely keeping under control on my right side has made its way over to my left side so it looks like the first few weeks of my new training phase I’ll be preoccupied with keeping on top of this and hopefully it won’t impact me too much. I felt good on my run this morning so am in a better mood than I was yesterday!

Tomorrow I am going to exert myself fully for the first time since Twilight. There’s a 5k in my local park and I rarely pass the opportunity up to run from my house, strap the flats on, get a good workout in and jog home after. Ben has alerted me that some of his all-conquering High School track team will be out there throwing down an end of season blow out so it should be fun mixing it up with the youngsters

Monday, May 14, 2012

A weekend of contrasting emotions

After Man City beat Newcastle last week leaving themselves just needing to beat a very poor QPR side on the last day of the season I decided that I wouldn’t even bother watching the final games yesterday as it was a foregone conclusion that they would win and clinch the championship. A few days later and the curious side of me had negotiated a deal with the pragmatic side of me that I could at least watch the games until Man City went 2 goals ahead and then I would switch off and do something else. How I wish I had listened to my pragmatic side now! The two goal lead never came, so I watched every single minute up to the agonizing inevitable injury time goals City scored to clinch the League title. As their winner went in I was sick to my stomach and in a complete daze, stunned that we had come so close only to have it grabbed away from us at the last. It being Mothers Day I realized that I couldn’t let this spoil Lisa and the kids’ days so I immediately got out in the yard and cut the grass so that I could focus on something else and not take my bad mood out on them. And with a heavy dose of irony the heavens opened just as I was finishing up, soaking me to the bones. Not a great day!

The weekend had started off pretty well with a solid showing at the Twilight 5k. I ran 16:18 to come 5th behind Bert, some kid I didn’t know, Greg (who had pipped me at Skyline but well and truly crushed me at this race- fit alert!) and just behind Brad who I had just pipped myself at the last GP race. As I hauled my tired body over the finish line I slumped down on the floor and lay in a heap for a while, completely spent and already looking forward to my training break! Since the race I haven’t run a step and don’t plan too until the weekend. My body and mind need the rest and I’ll be ready to attack my training with vigor when I start back up again next week.

Saturday and my weekend got better as Lisa and I were able to drop the kids off at a neighbor’s house in the afternoon for a sleepover and we were able to go out for the night and celebrate our 13 year anniversary together. After a nice long lie in and breakfast at our hotel on Sunday morning, it was time to head home and turn the football on……

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fall Marathon announced as season winds down

Philadelphia, Sunday November 18th

Yes, I have chosen Philly for my 4th attempt at 26.2. After weighing up a few other options, the pull of a bigger city marathon and the opportunity to run alongside Jay and a whole plethora of Charlotte’s finest distance runners who are also making the trip proved decisive. In my previous 3 marathons I have progressed from 2:43 to 2:38 to 2:35 and the aim will be to maintain that improvement in November. A long way to go and hundreds of miles to be run before then but I’m glad I’ve made the decision early and can focus the rest of the year’s training around it.

Speaking of which, I have just over a week of my current cycle to see out. After the knee injury that blighted October last year I went straight into Myrtle Half Marathon training and carried on after that race in February to take in Richmond 10k and Skyline 5k in April as goal races. The first two races both ended with 1 second improvements over my previous best US times, the 5k last Saturday was (as documented below) significantly less successful and the final evidence I needed that it was time to wind down what has been a six month block of training and regenerate before heading into the next cycle refreshed and ready to work.

After the Twilight 5k next Friday night the plan is to take one whole week off, follow it with a very easy week and then hit the next training block. This block will take me through to the end of July before I take another couple of down weeks, leaving me a 14 week build up towards Philly starting in mid August. The upcoming week of entirely no running will almost certainly be the first ever time I have taken some extended time off voluntarily and not because of an injury of some sort! I am looking forward to it and so is the family!

Since the race on Saturday I had a nice long run with friends on Sunday, took Monday off, did Miners Run on Tuesday, a mile repeat workout yesterday and Dowd run today and all things considered have felt pretty decent on each run. Coach was in town for the past three runs so it has been good to get some runs in with him. Yesterday we headed to the track to do his planned workout two and a half weeks out from the Cleveland Marathon that he is racing. I ended up doing 2*2 miles and 2*1 miles with one lap recoveries at an average pace of 5:17 which I was pleased with (Tim went on to run an additional mile and a half). It would appear that I’m in great 10k shape right now, just unable to convert it to 5k!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Skyline recap

Skyline is always one of my favorite races on the calendar. It is run on one of the faster (certified!) courses you’ll find in Charlotte, has good prizes and takes place in April when the temperatures are usually still amenable to fast running. Despite personally running a disappointing time on Saturday, the 2012 edition of this race impressed again, with notably fast times (the top 10 were under 16:40!), excellent t shirts included with the race entry, great post race food and drinks and very good prizes. A good start to the 2012 Grand Prix Series indeed!

I was pretty confident I could sneak under 16 for this race but immediately from the start of the race I could tell it was going to be a bit of a struggle. Bert shot off into the distance (a view we are going to have get used to over the next few months- come on John Compton, Bert needs someone to race against!) and I headed up the ‘chase’ group, alongside Brad Belfiore (Boston 2012 survivor) with Brad Popple (low 15s guy when fully fit I believe) just behind us and then the main peloton behind him.

The race starts up a sizeable hill and the first mile continues gradually uphill up 7th Street. If you can get through the first mile in good shape there’s a good possibility you can get a fast time as the second mile is largely flat and the third mile is mostly downhill. Unfortunately I was already feeling pretty labored through the first mile which I hit in 5:16 (last year when I ran 15:53 I had gone through at 5:09). As we turned back towards the city on 5th Street Brad was still alongside me which surprised me to be honest as he had just run Boston (expect good things from this guy when he’s fully recovered!). On Thursday we had done a recon of the course so knew that 5th Street was ‘under construction’, all rutted and ready to be resurfaced, so as planned I jumped on the sidewalk and ran on that instead of the ‘road’. Through two miles in 10:31 (last year 10:16) and stealing ourselves for the final descent to the finish line. Bert was now practically out of sight (he went on to win the race by almost a minute) and Brad (at last!) had dropped back a little. I didn’t look behind so had no clue what was unfolding behind me, I was just running as fast as I could towards the finish line which unfortunately for me wasn’t very fast

I turned on to Elizabeth and the fast descent to the finish line. Soon I heard footsteps approaching on my right and it was no other than Greg Isaacs who quickly floated past me passing on his encouragement as he went! I tried in vain to latch on but to no avail and now all I was concerned about was getting to the finish line in third place at least so that I could pick up the $75 on offer and the skyline print. Fourth place and I’d win my age group but no cash or print! The third mile was 5:10 (last year 4:59) and I finished in 3rd place in 16:12, just in front of Brad Popple and the fast finishing peloton! Billy Shue (PR!) and Mike Mitchell (1:14 recently at Race Fest) closed out the TrySports Ambassadors team so we notched the team award and free dinner at Chipotle!

I have to admit I was surprised as much as impressed by Greg’s run for second. Normally at this stage of the season Greg is running in the 17s and comes on later in the year; this year, having already run 4:44 at the Museum Mile last week, he clearly means business! In fact everyone looked in darn good early form and if this is a sign of things to come over the Summer then the Grand Prix Series should be fun and competitive (Bert excepted!). Next up, Twilight 5k a week on Friday. Always a war of attrition because of the evening heat and tough last mile, this year’s race could be even tougher and tighter than usual! Looking forward to it!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pre Skyline update

Training has continued to carry on pretty smoothly since the 10k. Last week I got my currently customary 60 miles in, including a longer run, a decent 5*800/4*400 workout and a second place on the challenging Run For The Money 5k course in 16:40.

This week I worked out on Tuesday on the Dilworth Speed Loop (mile-5:03, 2ks- 3:12/3:10, 4 quarters (70/70/70/72)) and the rest of the days have been easy 45-50 minute runs. Tuesday was harder work than I would have liked but a pep talk from Coach has banished all doubts that I can go sub 16 on Saturday out of my mind. Since I first went under 16 in 2005 I have managed to break that barrier at least once every year since apart from injury ravaged 2009 and this coming Saturday will provide as good an opportunity as any to notch my 2012 effort.

Last year I ran 15:53 at this race (having run 16:55 at Run For the Money a couple of weeks earlier) so the precedent is there. This race also signifies the start of the Grand Prix Series and anticipation is high that this plus the new cash prizes being offered will bring out a fairly competitive field. I’m looking forward to it!

Beyond that I need to start thinking about taking some down time. I’ve been hammering it pretty hard since December when I started training for Myrtle so I definitely need to recharge the batteries soon if I want to start thinking about running a fast Fall Marathon. Twilight 5k falls 13 days after Skyline but after that the 3rd GP race does not take place until the start of June so I’m thinking that Twilight may be a good swan song for this current block. Coach is in town next week so we’re going to kick around a few ideas about how to approach the Summer

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A surprising result

Saturday was a good day. The first good news came at about 7:28am just before the start of the race when it looked as though some fast friends of mine from Asheville had not made the trip after all so the cash available for placing in the top three appeared to be more up for grabs than anticipated. The second good news came about 35 minutes later when I broke the tape (for the first time ever in a race!) and realized that I had run just three seconds slower than my time at Ukrops two weeks previously on what on paper is a much faster course. I got out well with fellow high 30s year old Aaron and we ran through the mile together before I was able to gradually pull away and press on solo for the victory. Aaron followed closely behind in a new PR himself!

I’m feeling pretty fit right now. After the higher mileage and longer workouts and runs that I was doing for my Half Marathon and then 10k training I am consciously scaling back my mileage and ‘time on feet’ in favor of shorter faster runs and faster 5k type workouts. As a consequence my legs are feeling better on a day to day basis and I am getting some good quality miles in. This will be my continued approach for the foreseeable future.

A significant factor in my relatively better performance at this week’s 10k was no doubt the weather. Whereas Richmond had been overcast and humid, Saturday in Charlotte was absolutely beautiful, a sunny, crisp Spring morning with no wind at all.

Oh, the vagaries of Mother Nature. Fast forward to Monday and we all know what happened in Boston this year! If 2011 will go down as having some of the fastest possible conditions for this race then it was of course the complete opposite for this year’s race. I started feeling sorry for my many friends who had trained so hard for this race towards the end of last week when the forecast started indicating the possibility of some awful heat arriving on race day and it was with resigned expectations that I signed up online to track them all on Monday morning. Sure enough it was sad to see most of my friends having inevitably difficult races on Monday. Marathons are ridiculously hard races anyway, adding heat into the mix is downright unfair and needless to say time goals went out of the window. Notable shout outs I have to include are to Jay Holder, 2:41 finisher and, incredibly, 96th overall, at Boston... and also to Dalena Mae Custer (Run DMC) who actually was speeding back up towards the end of the race, finishing in 2:58 high and an unbelievable 24th overall. But to mention just these two performances would be harsh on my other friends who battled away yesterday. Heroes and heroines all!! Proud of you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Running to stand still

In advance of Saturday’s upcoming 10k I looked back at my training diary around the time I last ran this race in 2006 (my first full year in the US) so that I could get some perspective for this year’s race. I came 5th in 33:41. Based on my 33:01 that I ran on a flat and fast course with competition a couple of weeks ago and the fact that I am ‘training through’ this race, that time would seem to be a pretty reasonable reflection of what I should be able to run this year considering the relative difficulty of Saturday’s course.

However, reading my training leading up to the 2006 race brought it home to me how much my training has changed over the years! The week before the race I commented after my ‘long run’ of 11 miles “good 40 mile week!” Yes that’s right folks, 40 miles was pushing the envelope for me back in the day!

The year I was probably my fastest and fittest ever was 2005, just before I moved over to the US. As you can see in the side bar on the left, most of my‘shorter’ PRs were set at this time. A brief glance at my training during that time reveals an average weekly mileage of around 30, with 9 miles considered a long run. I was running 6 days a week but literally every other day was a hard workout! On top of this my ‘easy’ days in between were usually 6 minute miling.

This, of course, was in the days when I had just given up playing soccer competitively and I was new to all this running lark but still I think it makes interesting reading. I wonder what I would have been capable of running then if I was doing the same training as I do now. Would I have been faster then and faster now? Who knows? All I do know is that I spend a lot more darn time running now than I did then and I’m basically running the same times! Oh the joys of ageing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Post Ukrops recovery week

Last week was a fairly low key recovery week. From Monday to Friday I managed to hit my four fave CRC group runs all in one week (Case of the Mondays, Miners I, Thursday Dowd, Miners II) covering about 40 miles in all. Saturday I was ready to stretch the legs again, so I decided that I would combine my long run and workout in one go. (Note that Coach has left me to my own devices for the next few weeks so he won’t have to associate himself with anything I decide to do workout/racing wise for a while!!)

I headed to the Race Fest 10k course in Southpark (in anticipation of racing there next weekend) and proceeded to run the somewhat hilly course twice with a 1 mile jog back to the start line in between. What I had originally anticipated being a ‘steady state’ run actually turned into more of a tempo effort as I covered the first loop in 36:30 and the second in 36:34 (5:53 pace). I was pretty happy with how this turned out as I was wearing trainers not flats and didn’t look at the watch at all during the second loop. The only downside of the run was that it reminded me what a brute of a course this will actually be to race on next week, miles 2,3 and 6 in particular! I’ll have no expectations for this race other than to race competitively. There are rumors of cash prizes for the top three but I already know of two faster guys than me that will be toeing the line so I may be fighting for the scraps. Whatever, it should be a good race and it will be nice to be racing in Charlotte again.

That left me on 55 miles for the week and I had earmarked an arbitrary total of 60 as my goal for the week. I ended up doing the requisite 5 as a recovery run later in the day which meant that I could keep Sunday completely free for Easter fun with the fam and large slices of sports watching (UK soccer and US Masters).

The next few weeks will be very busy on the racing front and I’ll try and put the fitness I have gained training for Myrtle and Richmond into good use and have some fun taking on some lower key races. After Race Fest I’ll be doing my annual philanthropic visit to Gastonia for the Run For The Money 5k and the week after that the Skyline 5k. I’m targeting a fast race at Skyline as last year’s race provided me with easily my best road 5k performance of the year and it should be a highly competitive race with cash prizes this year for the first time and it being the first race of the Grand Prix series. With that race in mind I am going to try and hone some speed over the next three weeks, planning the same workout each week leading up so I can get a gauge of where I am leading into the race. Fun times…

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Well at least I ran faster than last year....

I like cutting things close. You may recall that in my last goal race I scraped a new PR by 1 second. Well, in my second big race of the year I beat my time from the same race last year by, yes you guessed it, one whole second! Despite initial disappointment that I hadn't quite dipped under 33 minutes, never mind got anywhere close to my initial target of 32:30, my feelings coming out of this race are definitely positive.

I raced well and enjoyed the race much more this year and had fun running alongside the two leading elite women for much of the race (beating both in the end). My 5k splits were not too disproportionate (16:26/16:35) and I placed 19th out of 40 plus thousand, first in my age group. I've raced three major races in Richmond and won my age group each time which is a record I'm pretty proud of actually!

BUT, the fact is I should have run faster. Mile one was close to 5:10, miles four and five were 5:25/5:24. Again I was a little aggressive out of the gate and paid the price later. I know I'm frustrating my Coach with this approach as the training I am doing is being compromised by my inability to get my pacing strategy right on race day. Always learning.....

That being said, the plan initially had been to shut it down after this race and chill out for a while. Well, having come out of the race feeling pretty decent, I've decided to prolong this cycle for just a few more weeks in order to try and take advantage of my current fitness and run fast at the Skyline 5k at the end of April. So an 'easy' recovery week this week before hitting it hard again next week. Excited.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ready to run up and down

Tomorrow I'll be toeing the line at the Monument Avenue 10k, 3 miles out, 3 and a bit miles back. I hope to run faster than last year's slightly disappointing effort and the training block leading into this has been solid. Last few days have gone thus...

M- 6 easy after work
T- 10 including 3*1600 in 5:14/10/11 and 4 400s in 71
W- 7 easy
Th- 6 easy

Drove up to VA yesterday and will run a few miles and strides at some point today before chilling out in advance of the race. Let's do this....

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Monday- off
Tuesday- Miners am (8)/8*1000 on trails pm (12)
Wednesday- Recovery run (4)
Thursday- 13 Long with Dowd crew and a surprise guest in Tim!
Friday- Miners (9)
Saturday- 2 @ 10k pace, mile jog, 5 @ AT (11)
Sunday- Easy 4

A pretty low key week with some ups and downs. Tuesday's workout was solid, helped enormously by the presence of CL. Unfortunately during the last couple of reps my knee started acting up a bit and I was very conscious of it on my warm down. Since then it seems to have stabilized again and wasn't an issue during my long run or yesterday's workout but definitely keeping my eye on it!

Yesterday was a bit of a slog on the sloppy trails and boardwalks of McMullen but I got it done. My legs didn't feel all that great to be honest so hopefully they will bounce back before the race next week!

I definitely don't feel as confident going into this race as I did before the Half but that may be a good thing as a more cautious approach may reap better benefits after my late race struggles at Myrtle! I also received news that Tim is going to be jumping in the 10k too which is awesome!

This week will all be about getting to the start line in the best possible shape. I have a last workout (mile repeats and 400s) on Tuesday, followed by a massage and easy miles the rest of the week. We travel up to Richmond on Thursday, so a nice short and hopefully stress-less work week! Wish me luck!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Redemption Run

After the race on Saturday I was planning on doubling in the afternoon so that I only needed a few miles on Sunday to close out over 70 for the week. However, two hours of yard work (first of the year and it's only early March!) was more than enough exercise for me that afternoon so I decided I would do an easy 5/5 double the next day instead.

So I left my house at 5am on Sunday morning to make sure I had plenty of time to get back to the house before the kids woke up so that Lisa could sleep in (or 'lie in' as we call it!).

2 miles in however I had a decision to make. Either I could turn round soon and get my first 5 miler of the day in or carry on and do all 10 in one fail swoop. Before I knew it I had crossed Providence Road and was committed to knocking out all 10. This gave me a slight problem as now I would be pushing it to get back to the house in time to look after the kids when they woke up. I was feeling good however and clicked off the next mile in 6:40 and carried on rolling progressively until the end, closing with a 6:12 and a smile on my face. The miles had clicked off at a good comfortable clip and at least some sort of redemption for the previous day's efforts had materialized.

I opened the back door and there was no sign of the kids yet either- a second positive development of the day and it was only 6:10! I could feel it was going to be a good day, a feeling subsequently confirmed with news of several friend's successful races coming throughout the morning (including a remarkable 4 minute PR from last week's training partner Jay at the NYC Half) and with Man U winning 5-0 at Wolves to go 4 points clear at the top of the Premiership. Yes, Sunday was a good day....

So 70 miles for the week and a down week ahead. I'm writing this on Monday which will be a no run day and am certainly looking forward to the rest of the week and time before Richmond with more excitement and anticipation than I was at 8:20 on Saturday morning!!

Pauses for thought

There is no doubt Saturday's race was a sub par, disappointing effort. I ran 6 seconds slower than I did on a slightly different course last year. Not much difference then you may think. However, last year's race was run less than 12 hours after I had run a 15:31 PR on the track!

Immediately after the race I was trying to seek some positives from the race but was struggling to find any! I sent off a concerned email to Coach, even questioning whether we needed to reevaluate goals and change the training plan for Richmond in two weeks! The race had definitely given me pause for thought....

By the evening however I had started to look at things a little differently and sent off another, less pessimistic, email and waited for the wise words of my coach to see what he thought about everything.

The race itself went thus...I had a good warm up and was feeling good on the start line. I had spotted and chatted with Bert Rodriguez so knew a win was out of the question but at least I would have someone to chase after. Other than that the competition looked few and far between- taking this race off the Grand Prix schedule definitely had a big impact on the number of racers Saturday morning and the quality of the field.

Immediately I fell behind Bert but was fine with this as he appeared to be running way under 5 minute pace! I went through the 'easy' mostly downhill 2 mile marker in 10:25. I had been running alone the whole way. Given the nature of the course the time was probably just about right if I wanted to attack sub 21 as planned but I was already starting to tire and was just about to start the notorious long climb of mile three. I held it together pretty well on this mile (5:26) but was not able to pick up the pace any during the final mile. Bert was out of sight and I was comfortably ahead of the chasing pack myself. I came home 2nd in 21:25...

So what to read into this? I'll leave it to the rational/detached words of my coach who replied to me shortly after the second email.

1) Absolutely no need to change the schedule with two weeks to go- trust the training!

2) I had gone out at a faster pace than I have been training for. IF I start out at the right/goal pace at Richmond then I will be able to close the race more effectively!

3) I will have people to feed off at Richmond and will not be running solo the whole race!

So all in all a disappointing race but I'm not writing off my chances of a good race at Richmond yet!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bad day at the office

2nd in 21:25. Ouch! Recap/reflection later

Wednesday to Friday

Off to race soon! Looking forward to a tough test of the fitness! The kids also get to 'race' after!

Wednesday- 9 including 8*600 off 1:30 on the roads (av 1:47/48)

Thursday and Friday- 15 miles total with the usual strides and drills on Friday

Feeling pretty good. Two weeks till Ukrops

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Quick update

So yeah I've already fallen behind recapping day by day. Oh well here's what has happened since the Thursday long run...

Friday was the usual second Miners Run of the week. I added on a couple of miles to make 9 and did my strides and drills that I have been religiously fitting in on a weekly basis. For these I basically do 8*strides/butt kicks/skipping/side steps/high knee raises, etc. up and down a stretch of Old Bell Road. I think it is so important to keep in touch with these each week. It helps keep the fast twitch fibers and other neglected muscles happy and firing and definitely has some 'pre hab' injury prevention benefits in my mind too. This is always one of the first workouts I put on the schedule each week.

So I was pretty tired heading into Saturday's highly anticipated workout with Jay. Fresh off his first ever sub 16 posting on a tough course and having the best training cycle of his life heading towards Boston I was excited to be training with my buddy again! I hadn't seen Jay in a while so it was good to catch up with him during the three miles warm up and it would have been nice for this to be longer but we had work to do!

The workout was 2 miles, 4 * 400, 2 miles and we did it at Mcalpine on what was a beautiful cold and sunny morning for training! Jay provides a more detailed review here but suffice it to say we nailed it and worked hard together as we had hoped we would be able to. My training would be 10% better than it is right now if we could run together more often.

After a quick recovery including a splendid visit to Yoforia with Lisa, the kids and Jay and his better half, we laced up our shoes again for some recovery miles through the Providence Road neighborhoods in the afternoon. Aaron also joined for this one, fresh off a 5k victory earlier in the day himself and it was a trip down memory lane for the three of us who had trained together for Richmond Marathon in 2010.

These easy and enjoyable miles closed my week out at over 70 miles and I celebrated that evening by meeting up with Jay (common theme here??) and a bunch of other friends at Selwyn Pub to share some beers and laughs. Michael Jordan just happened to be present at our choice of venue too, although I never actually got the chance to see past his entourage and check if Guinness was his beverage of choice also.

Sunday I was able to take off and spent a great day with Lisa and the kids. Man U rose to the top of the Premier League for the first time since October and after watching that I spent the afternoon at the Schiel Museum of Natural History in Gastonia which ended up being a great choice of venue by Emily who had been on a Field trip there two weeks previously! We ended with pizza at Brixx and any day that ends on this note is a good one!

After Sunday's 'rest day' it was time to get back at it on Monday morning as I intend to hit 70 plus miles again this week, including the Shamrock 4 Mile race on Saturday.

I ran an easy 8/6 mile am/pm double on Monday and another 12 plus miles this am with the other Miners crew to start the week off on a good note. Working out tomorrow (8*600 on the roads), then a mini taper into Saturday's race which should be able to provide a good indicator of what I might be capable of at Richmond, my goal race, in two weeks time.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thursday 16

And so on to the aforementioned 16. Lately I have started to get my weekly long run in on Thursday rather than at the weekend. Gone are the days when I was able on a weekly basis to knock out a hard race or workout on Saturday without compromising the quality of my 2 hours on a Sunday so this is a good option to have. It means I get at least 9 (and usually more) of the miles in with a great bunch of people and frees up Sundays to spend more time with the family. Win win!

Today was no exception. I left the Dowd at 5am for 7 miles just me and my ipod before circling back for a Gu, dry shirt and a bathroom break to join the 6am group for their miles. By 8am I was showered, re-fuelled and at my desk, long run out of the way for the week. Legs felt very reasonable today considering yesterday’s workout. They’re going to need to be in fine fettle for my workout on Saturday when I actually have a workout partner! That he is merely visiting from New York is by the bye….

I need training partners!

Since Myrtle I have not been able to find anyone to do any of my workouts with me. I’ve done after work, Saturday morning and Wednesday early morning but no takers in spite of the range of hours I have offered. Surely someone else in Charlotte does hard workouts from time to time?? The main problem I have is that most of the local competitive runners who I should be training with have far more flexible or different working hours than me. I seem to be the only 8 to 5 office based runner in Charlotte! My teacher friends often work out after school with their teams and my friends who work from home can usually find a nice slot in their day to get a workout in at a ‘normal’ hour

Anyway, train hard I must (and want) so I’m just getting on with it. Yesterday I headed up to PDS track at 5:30 am and cranked out a workout of 3*1k,4*400,2*1k. Apart from the last k which I was struggling through, I hit all the prescribed times and didn’t feel I had gone to the well like I had on Saturday’s mile repeats so that was satisfactory, although as I told my coach afterwards I think the satisfaction was more down to actually having got another solo workout out of the way rather than with the results themselves. I had spent ten minutes at home thinking of alternatives to doing the track workout before sucking it up and leaving the house but there was no other time. I couldn’t leave it until after work as I had 16 miles planned today and I couldn’t leave it until today as, well, I had a 16 miler to fit in somewhere!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Small Miners' Group

With the temperatures dipping back into the 20s again, it was a small but hardy trio that headed into Mcalpine this morning. Mike B, Jason and I did the usual 6.9 mile loop (7.7 total for me). I sported tights for the first time in ages for this run and am hoping it warms up for tomorrow’s planned track workout!

Monday Double

I’m going to start trying to post my daily runs again. We’ll see how long this lasts.

I took Sunday off so was fresh and ready to start this week off with a double. With 70 miles the aim in 6 days it was good to get over 12 miles in on the day without undue stress on the legs. I ran solo in the am in Mcalpine for just under 6 miles. Nothing to note other than I felt good, the trails had held up very well after all the weekend rain and the only other soul I saw out there was the guy who rides his bike with the brightest light ever shining directly into your face.

After work I headed to the Dowd to attend my first CRC ‘Case of the Mondays’ run with my work colleague Ryan. We joined up with Caleb, Jocelyn, AJ and Jay B for a nice evening’s run around Freedom and Latta Parks for 6.5 miles. On my way home I noted that at 6:30 it was still pretty light out and that next week it would be this light at 7:30. All well and good but not much help for me when I am not an evening runner and the mornings will be darker again for a while.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Back at it

After a recovery week I was able to get back into some harder training last week as the focus builds on a good race at Richmond at the end of the month.

I got 65 miles in including a 15 mile long run and 2 sessions (16*400 with 30 second jog recovery averaging 76-77s plus 5 * a mile on the trails with 400 jog in 5:24,23,11,25,12). Both of the workouts were solo as will be my upcoming one on Wednesday but at least at the weekend I will get some company as my buddy Jay will be in town. Fresh off a brand spanking new 5k PR and deep in training for Boston it will be great to have Jay's company for this!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Recovery week

Coach insisted on 40-ish miles this week, no workouts or long runs. I was happy to oblige. Ready to get back after it next week- patiently awaiting my new schedules!

M- 5 on the beach
T- off
W- 7.6 solo on the trails
Th- 9 with Dowd group
F- 7.6 with Miners
S- 4 very early and easy before volunteering at 10 mile race
Su- 9 with a huge group which included 3 Olympic trials qualifiers and the fastest 15 year old girl in the country!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Week in review

M- 4.8 easy
T- 8.3 including 3 miles at goal pace and 2ks in 3:10/3:11
W- 6 and 6.2 easy am/eve double
T- 4.3 easy
F- 4.8 easy am/2 easy on arrival in Myrtle
S- 17.5 including new half pr 1:12:17
Su- 4 recovery miles

Next goal 32:30 at Ukrops. It's probably my strongest relative PR and one I've never come close to since I ran it back in 2005 but I'm up for the challenge!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Myrtle Beach Half recap

Time (chip)- 1:12:17
Position- 9th (3rd in AG)

Let's start at the end. My immediate feeling upon crossing the line was one of relief. I had just about managed to get a new PR in spite of spending the last 2 miles of the race feeling like I was crawling through treacle, in more agony than I can recall feeling in a race since the last few miles of my first marathon back in 2006. I was so out of it that I thought I had seen 1:12:07 on the clock as I passed underneath it. I got myself together and chatted to a couple of the other finishers, chugged down some Endurox and managed a 10 minute shuffle warm down with Ben before heading to the food and beer tent!

It was only an hour later when I checked my chip time that I found out I had actually run 1:12:17, a mere one second improvement on my previous PR but a PR nonetheless! The official results have my gun time of 1:12:18 as well but I'll go with the chip time! (Most of the other runners had a discrepancy between chip and gun time too so I presume they started the clock too early). Despite initial disappointment that I had not managed to hold on to my agressive early pace and notched a time closer to 1:11, the overall feeling was satisfaction and accomplishment. My solid training block hadn't been wasted and the groundwork is in place for a few more prs down the road!

16 hours earlier the Mainwarings had arrived in Myrtle. After a brief stop at the expo to pick up my and Ben's race packet it was off to the hotel which was to be our home for the weekend. I went for a 2 mile shake out run while Lisa cooked us some pasta and meat sauce for dinner. A post dinner swim in the pool with the kids and I was ready for an early night.

I slept well (for me) and woke to calm/cold conditions, it looked like the weather was going to be great for the race. I quietly exited the hotel room and had plenty of time to drive most of the course before heading over to Broadway on the Beach to park up and get ready to race. After a couple of miles warm up with Ben, the Anthem and some strides I found myself on the start line, excited to race but also a little nervous- I had trained well for this race and now I needed to make sure I executed, no excuses.

Looking around it was clear that the race was going to be highly competitive with lots of fast looking guys! The gun went off and I immediately settled into the back of the lead group. All systems felt good and I got into a good rhythm. Through the first mile in 5:19, faster than I perhaps should have been but not entirely unexpected given the conditions, terrain and competition. Two guys had broken off the front including the African who I had presumed would win the race when I saw him on the start line (he did), then there was a group of 4 a few yards up the road then me and another guy Upchurch (everyone had their names on their bibs). I knew he had run 1:11 here last year and recently broken 50 minutes in a 15k so he was good company to try and stay with.

Mile 2 I had settled down a bit and hit 5:29. We turned parallel to the beach road and the next three miles were to be spent running straight along this main road, the only break in the monotony being provided by the pockets of spectators (including a very brightly pink clad Megan Hovis cheering loudly) and the ever changing road surface. Winds were light, there was a slight chill in the air and the sun was rising, no doubt these were conditions to try and take advantage of.

Mile 3 5:23 and now pretty much into my rhythm, focussing on the group ahead, Upchurch on my shoulder, the pitter patter of our shoes on the highway, our gradually quickening breaths and the occasional cheers from spectators the only sounds breaking the silence of the calm morning.

At mile 5 we eventually turned off the highway and headed towards the Common Market where I had been told there would be some bands playing and more crowd support. These distractions provided welcome relief and encouragement as I could feel myself starting to work pretty hard already and we were still not at the halfway point of the race. I knew at this point that it was going to be a hard morning's work but I was trained for it and ready to give it my best shot.

After the Common Market we headed back towards the ocean and were passing the other runners heading up the other side of the road. This was a good section of the course as I heard many a shout from fellow CRC runners all setting out on their own quests. We hit Ocean Boulevard and started heading parallel to the coast back towards the finishing area. There was Megan again cheering and I knew that at mile ten my kids and Lisa would be standing outside our hotel giving their support.

Upchurch and I were still stride for stride, knocking off the miles in the 5:25-5:30 range. Each mile was getting harder but I was holding it together. At mile 9 another guy joined us and stayed with us for a bit before heading off into the distance. Upchurch made a move to try and go with him but I found myself in no position to respond and it was clear to me at this point that damage limitation was in order and it was going to be a question of just holding it all together for as long as possible.

getting dropped- quickly

trying to hold it together

Mile 10 passed in 5:33, the first 5:30 plus mile of the race. Cumulatively I was at 54:18 at this point, almost certainly a 10 mile pr. I passed the kids and Lisa and tried to look as happy as possible to see them but my body was already revolting. I forced a Gu down me on the off chance that 100 calories of sticky gel may be the answer to my impending melt down but alas my troubles continued. Mile 11 5:35, Mile 12 5:43, Mile 13 5:40 and I'm not quite sure how. My form at this point was ragged and I was just imploring my body to get me over the line, shouting obscenities at myself as a last resort. My average time was increasing rapidly from 5:26 towards the 5:30 I needed for a PR but as I turned at last towards the finishing straight I could see that I hadn't completely messed it up after all and was going to get a PR at least. It was only an hour later that I realized how close it had been!

Looking back a couple of days later I am pleased overall. The first ten miles gave me a sight of the runner I want to be- agressive, strong and competitive, the last three miles was all about guts. I've learned many things from this race (as you always do from adversity and mistakes) and will, with the help of Coach Tim (who once again I cannot thank enough!!) address these points in the coming training cycle and races. For now it is a week of very easy running before hitting the roads hard again next week. Less than 6 weeks until Ukrops 10k!!

5:19,29,23,26,24,27,21,27,29,33,35,43,40,1:00 for 0.18 miles (Garmin measured course at 13.18)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

1 week to go

5 more days till Myrtle and taper in full effect

Since last post...

Tuesday- 7.6 easy with the Miners
Wednesday- 8 miles in 45:56, 1 mile jog, 1600 on the track in 5:06
Thursday- off
Friday- 7.6 easy with the Miners
Saturday- Cupids Cup 5k in 16:03
Sunday- 14 frigid but fun miles with a great group

Another good week and feeling good for next week's race!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The week after Winter Classic

This is how my week after the 8k played out…

Sunday- 4 miles solo (7:00 pace) in the evening once Lisa had got back from VA

Monday- 9 miles in the evening with Coach at Mcalpine (7:17 pace). It was great to have Tim in town for some runs this week!

Tuesday- 10*1k with 200m recovery on the track (averaged 3:19-20 per rep). Was pleased how this went considering the short turn around after the race. Very grateful for Tim and Brad’s help throughout though!!

Wednesday- 6.4 mile recovery run on the trails (7:13 pace)

Thursday- 18 mile long run. Got up very early, ran 4 miles solo, picked up Tim for the next 5 and finished off with the Dowd group. Average pace was 7:19 and felt pretty decent. Longest remaining run before Myrtle out of the way

Friday- My usual Friday am drills and strides before 8 miles with the Friday Miners at Mcalpine (7:27 pace)

Saturday- Cut down workout of 4 miles, 2 miles, 1 mile, 1 mile with half a mile jog between each. Goal paces were 23:00, 10:40, 5:10, 5:00 and I hit 22:54, 10:39, 5:11, 5:06. Did this on my own in the park in the cold and rain. Last mile was at the track. Another solid workout and confidence remains high heading into Myrtle

Total mileage- 70

Sunday I took off and this morning I ran an easy 5.35 at 7:00 pace and felt good. I have an 8 mile tempo plus 1 fast mile planned for Wednesday am and Cupids Cup 5k on Saturday. I will be taking Thursday off and my long run will be 14 on Sunday. Just hoping I can hold all this together for a couple more weeks and be ready to roll at Myrtle

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inaugural CRC Winter Classic 8k

The day dawned bright and cold for Charlotte Running Club's first official race. My usual pre race rituals were thrown off a little as Lisa was in VA for her Mom's birthday and I had to drop the kids off at the neighbours. Still I arrived in plenty of time to pick up my number and chip and get three miles of warm up in on the course. I noted the excellent course markings and the smooth registration/packet pick up process. Changed into my new TrySports singlet and Wave Ronin 3s, did some strides and was ready to roll.

The race got off exactly on time. A quick scout of the front runners and I’d ascertained that favourite John Compton was present, along with Aussie Dan and newly engaged/birthday boy Chris. I figured these were the guys I would have to mix it up with if I was to place top 3 and walk away with some nice Gore running gear! We settled into a comfortable pace early on, I sat in behind John, with Dan alongside and a big group still around us. I was getting a bit antsy (as usual) but figured if I was close to John then I must be running a decent enough pace so just settled in. I had resolved to not look at my watch during the race at all as I wanted to use this as a race not a time trial. At about half a mile, my impatience got the better of me and I stepped around the side of Dan and started pushing the pace a little alongside John.

As we approached the mile marker I took a quick look around and was able to ascertain that the 4 expected protagonists had formed a lead group now and it was likely that the top three would come from this bunch.

just after the mile mark (I'm hidden)

There was loud crowd support here and again when we looped back to near the same point 400 metres later before hitting the infamous Mcalpine hill for the first of what would be two times. I felt good running up the hill but as usual lost some ground on the steep downhill the other side. While the other three seemed to head down there with reckless abandon, my lanky, uncoordinated frame stumbled down and I lost a few yards. As we came past the lake for the first time we were strung out in a line of 4- John followed by Dan then Chris then myself.

We turned off the path across the grass and back to the start line, just the usual 5k course to go now. At this point of the race I was feeling okay but the other guys were looking solid too. Doubts started to creep in that I would be able to stay with the three of them so I made the decision to try and banish these doubts by making a move myself. I consciously started to drive harder and passed Dan and Chris on the long straightaway. John was a further distance ahead and looking stronger and stronger, not an unexpected development. Now it was just a question of focusing on John up ahead and holding off Dan and Chris from behind. As we hit the hill the second time, el Presidente Aaron was halfway up barking encouragement and I made sure to drive well up the hill, knowing I could pick up a few seconds here.

driving up the hill second time round

We came past the lake again, the four of us strung out a lot further apart than we had been the first time round.

coming past the lake second time around

We were now catching back markers and getting ready for the final push around the back mile. As we hit the 4 mile mark I glanced at my watch so that I would know how fast I covered the last mile afterwards. It read 21:26 which was a pleasant surprise as it looked like I was going to come in comfortably under 27 minutes which I would certainly have taken before the race. This spurred me on for one last push and I was able to hold off an equally fast finishing Dan to secure second spot and a sweet Gore long sleeve for my troubles. I finished in 26:34 which is actually not far off my 26:28 PR from the roads a few years back.

glad to be done

I was happy with the race and it had checked all the boxes I was hoping for at this stage of Myrtle training. I had a decent competitive race outing under my belt and a nice top to go home in. Congrats must go out to the event organizers. For a first time event, everything seemed to go off very smoothly and this will hopefully be the first of many CRC Winter Classic 8ks. The ‘unusual’ distance and terrain to your usual 5k road race fare was very much appreciated and a great addition to the racing calendar.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Looking at the big picture

Training for Myrtle continues apace with no significant roadblocks so far, hitting all my prescribed weekly mileage and long run goals and hitting most of my workout time goals. Since coming back from injury/down time in November my weeks have gone thus- 42,45,51,57,60,61,68,50 (down week),65,70,71,75 and this week will be 50 (down week). I’ve also knocked the 5 extra lbs I was carrying off my frame! Most of those weeks (certainly the last few) have contained two workouts and a long run and also a complete day off most weeks where I have been able to recover and get ready to maximize my training the next few days.

Since my last post I got my final 20 miler in the bag and have run 3 workouts, two of which were actually fairly mediocre, sandwiching a very promising AT effort at the weekend (10m @ 5:45 average). The old me would have been really pissed having run two bad workouts out of three but I’m learning to look at the big picture more and more rather than workouts in isolation. I’ve just come to the end of my heaviest and hardest section of this training block so have been running on pretty tired legs lately but will hopefully be reaping the benefits of this hard work in the upcoming weeks.

This Saturday I am excited to be racing the inaugural CRC Winter Classic 8k Race. It will be my first ‘proper’ race since September and my first in my new Try Sports colors. It will be good to bust some rust and get the competitive juices flowing again. However, as usual Coach inserted a dose of pragmatism and realism when we were discussing the race last week, “I know you want to race well, but I'm more focused on MB and MB only…..”

I’ll give you an update after the weekend, in the mean time I am excited to be getting a massage after work tonight followed by a couple of nice and easy days before Saturday!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Marathon Trials stalking

On Saturday morning Lisa had some errands to run with the kids so I was able to take advantage of a couple of hours 'freedom' and follow the Trials races via Lets Run and Runners World updates. Enjoyed both races immensely and had some personal involvement in the ladies race with three good friends of mine toeing the line. Megan Hovis (who beat Desiree Davila at the last Trials when finishing 12th) was an unfortunate DNF while Caitlin Chrisman and Meagan Nedlo both completed great races which are brilliantly summarized here and here. All three ladies so hard working, dedicated and inspiring to me. I'm a fairly decent runner I guess in the grand scheme of things and dedicate a lot of time and effort to this great sport, but these ladies are at a completely different level to me- after all I'm over 15 minutes away from reaching the pinnacles these girls were able to get to this past weekend! Great job Megan, Caitlin and Meagan...

Sunday to Sunday 90

The advantage of doing back to back weekend long runs is that you can squeeze lots of miles into a week without actually realizing or meaning it! By the time I had jogged home happy with my Sunday workout I worked out that from the previous Sunday I had notched 90 miles, including 2 20 milers and 2 workouts.

Following the Tuesday workout, Wednesday was a recovery day before Thursday's planned 20. Thursday I typically meet up with the Dowd crew for a 9 mile loop that is always good fun and good company, so I decided to incorporate this run into that time. I went to bed at the same time as the kids and forced myself out of bed at 4 for a 4:35 start from the Dowd. After 3 solo miles I looped back to the Dowd for the arrival of my first support crew- Jason, Danielle and Dalena. At 5:30 we circled back again and picked up Shenna and at 6:00 we came back again to meet up with the main crew. I had time to change into some dry clothes and take in a gu before heading out for the last phase of my run. It was a nice and relatively easy way to get over 2.5 hours of work in and worked out so nicely that I'm planning the same deal for my 20 miler this week.

I asked Coach the reasoning behind setting me three 20 milers in successive weeks when I wasn't training for a marathon and was advised that as long as I ran them nice and easy and didn't try to kill myself completing any of them they would be invaluable elements of my training mix for the Half build up. A point I was able to pick up on in the latest Running Times issue
where in an article about Peter Snell it talks about Lydiard's theory of the longer slower runs being a key promoter of fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment. Good stuff!

Friday and Saturday saw another couple of easy days before my next workout on Sunday which was 4 miles, 2 miles, 1 mile, 1 mile all with half mile jog recovery which I completed on the trails of Mcalpine before finishing off at the track. I ran 23:14, 10:49, 5:14 and 5:06 which was pretty much as prescribed although Coach did want me to try and dip under 5 minutes for the final mile, a feat which proved elusive. Regardless it had been another good workout and the culmination of my second successive 70 mile week.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Catching up with Coach!

Tim paid an unexpected visit this week! Though sick as a dog we were able to get some miles in together this morning as I headed to the track for my 2*4*1000 workout (first 4 in 3:20 with 200 jog- felt smooth, second 4 in sub 3:10 with 400 jog- felt hard but still under a semblance of control).

Spada joined us too and was able to help me through the first 800 of each of the first 4 and the first 600 of each of the second 4 while Tim took over from Spada to run the last 400 of each of the second 4 so I was lucky to have good company for this one.

It was great to see Tim again and the conversation flowed and flowed until I realized I had better say my farewells and get to work at some point!

Training continues to flow nicely at the moment, I got a good 2:20 plus run in on Sunday, today's workout, 20 more of the same on Thursday and a hard tempo workout ahead this weekend. Five and a half weeks until Myrtle....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Doing work

This week and the first week of July are always the busiest work weeks of my year and this past week was no exception. I went straight to work after my 16 last Saturday and was working past my girls' bedtimes every day until yesterday. These weeks are always a challenge to my training. My life basically becomes wake, run, work, eat, sleep, repeat. Having said all that I managed to get a good 24*400 workout in on Monday morning and ten mile runs the other mornings leaving me on course to hit 70 miles in the week for the first time in ages even allowing for a day off today. Tomorrow I'll be hopefully bringing up that 70 mark at the end of my planned 20 miler. Meeting up with a good crew so it should be fun and hard work.