What was the secret? They wanted to know, in a thousand different ways they wanted to know THE SECRET. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottom of his running shoes. - John L. Parker

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Race Recap: Rite Aid Cleveland 10k

After many miles and countless runs through ice, snow and subzero wind chills the big race finally arrived.

The whole weekend was amazing.  On Friday I went to the VIP reception at the Hyatt downtown (thanks Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!).  There was lots of great food there, and I ended up meeting Coach Jenny who is the official training consultant for the Marathon.  Later in the evening I met up with some of the other bloggers: Joe, Renessa, and Stephanie.  I think Karen and Christine were there but I did not see them.
Bloggers Renessa, Stephanie, Joe and myself along with Joan and Jen from the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon
On Saturday, Katie and I went to the expo.  I got my bib and swag and we looked at all the exhibits but we demonstrated excellent restraint and did not buy anything.

This morning I got up bright and early to make sure I got downtown with plenty of time to get a good parking space.  I ended up with a spot on W. 3rd very close to the start, which I was happy about, but I had tons of time to kill so I just waited in my car for about 40 minutes until it was time to start warming up.  After a truly awful winter we were rewarded with great weather for this race.  Cool but not too cold, and very little wind.  After the warmup and a quick stop in the port-a-potty it was time to lace up the flats and head to start.  On the way there I saw Emily and Joe.  It was my first time meeting Emily in person.  She was doing 10k the after doing a tough mudder the previous day!  Wow!

The start was divided into corrals, and I was in corral A, just behind the elites.  The system seemed very efficient and we had plenty of space at the start and I never got boxed in during the race.  I got a little cold waiting around in the corral.  I had gotten to the start a bit earlier than usual and they delayed the race by 5 minutes, but overall it was not a big deal.

My goal for the race was to break 35.  At the start I just tried to run a nice smooth pace as I always do.  We went down to Superior to E. 18th then past the CSU campus before turning onto Carnegie.  Somewhere along E. 18th a gap had emerged and I found myself leading a small group of runners with another group about 30m ahead.  As we went past Progressive Field I was feeling pretty good so I started pushing a little to close the gap on the next group.

I knew the Lorain-Carnegie bridge would be one of the toughest parts of this course.  It's a long gradual uphill as you go across the bridge, but you are rewarded with a nice downhill on the other side.  I really focused here on trying to close the gap so I wasn't running in no man's land.  Once we reached Ohio City on the other side of the bridge I could tell that I had gained some ground.

As we went up W. 25th I was gaining faster and just as we turned onto Franklin I had caught up to the next group.  The rest of the way through Ohio City and onto the shoreway I was just trying to hold my position and not lose contact.

The shoreway itself was definitely the toughest part of this race.  It was deceptively uphill and the Cleveland skyline seemed so close and yet so far.  I lost contact just a little at this point.  I reminded myself how in many of my previous races I was running completely alone by this point in the race and now I finally had someone to run with.  I just kept fighting with everything I had to keep it close and once we crested the final hill and passed under the sign for Lakeside exit I just let my stride out and let gravity carry me.

The last 200m was a frenetic sprint down Lakeside using the roar of the crowd to keep me going.  Not only had I held my position on the hills of the shoreway, but I had actually managed to catch two people in the final sprint.  My final time was 34:34, good for 21st overall.  I was very pleased with this time as it was well under my goal pace.  Also, in this race I felt like I really gave it all I had and ran up to the best of my ability, something I think I had failed to do in the previous two races.

After changing back into sweats and trainers I headed over to the VIP brunch (thanks again Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!).  I grabbed a few pastries and sat at a table by myself.  As soon as I sat down two of the elite Kenyans from the 10k, Robert and Robert, sat down at the table with me!  It was really neat talking to them about their background and there training.  One of them was in the same training camp as Wilson Kipsang!  We talked a lot about various elite runners: Bekele's and Farah's marathon debuts, medal hopefuls for the Rio Olympics, the possibility of Galen Rupp moving up to the marathon, and so on.  It was probably one of the coolest running experiences of my life.

I really can't thank the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon enough for this opportunity.  The race was great and the whole weekend was an amazing experience!

And a huge shout out to my fellow bloggers.  I loved reading everyone's posts the last four months and I just want to congratulate you all not just on the race itself but on all the hard work you put in to get to this day!

Can't wait til next year!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland 10k Training: Weeks 19 and 20

The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is almost here.  The last few weeks I have just been winding down the training and making sure I am fit for the big race.  On my last 1000's workout I cut it short because my legs felt dead and I figured I would be better off cutting my losses rather than trying to push through.  At this point you can't do anything but trust that the hard work you put in during the training will pay off on race day.

5 days to go!

Week 19:

Monday: AM - 5 mi easy
               PM - Track workout - 5x600m w/ 600m tempo recovery - 1:54, 2:00, 1:58, 1:56, 1:54

Tuesday: 5 mi easy

Wednesday: 5 mi easy

Thursday: AM - 5 mi easy
                PM - 4 mi tempo, 6 mi total

Friday: AM - 5 mi easy

Saturday: 3.1 mi tempo, 4 mi total

Sunday: AM - Race to Empower 5k - 16:37, 8 mi total
             PM - 4.8 mi easy

Total: 53.2 miles

Week 20:

Monday: AM - 5 mi easy
               PM - 5.4 mi easy
Tuesday: 5 mi easy

Wednesday: 5 mi easy
Thursday: AM - 5 mi easy
                PM - Track workout - 2x1000m w/ 200m recovery - 3:30, 3:38

Friday: 4.8 mi easy

Saturday: rest day

Sunday: rest day

Total: 33.7 miles

Race Recap: Race to Empower 5k

About a week and half ago I ran the Race to Empower 5k, which is the fourth race in the Hermes Road Race Series.  It is also the first and only 5k of this training cycle so I really wanted to PR. I also really wanted to break 16.  After, Malachi I felt that I was in shape to break 16, but I knew that this course would be tough.  It's basically downhill the first mile, flat the second mile and uphill the last mile.  The race took place near the Cleveland Clinic main campus and went down MLK through Rockefeller Park.
Everyone at the start; I look very confused.
The race started by immediately making a left turn on to Euclid.  I stupidly allowed myself to get boxed in around the the turn and couldn't run free until about 200m in.  From there I got into a rhythm but at the first mile mark I was at 5:08, too slow to break 16 considering it was downhill to that point.  The second mile was a bit slower and I was 10:27 (I think) at the 2 mile.  The third mile was of course the slowest as we came back up the hill.  I finished in 16:37, 2nd overall and first in my age group.  I was also 2nd among race series participants which now puts me in 2nd overall in the race series.

I was a little disappointed in this race because I really feel like I'm in better shape than I was when I ran my PR and I'm not running another 5k again for a while.  I think that breaking 16 will probably one of my main goals in the fall.

Next race is the Rite Aid Cleveland 10k!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland 10k Training: Week 18

The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is getting ever closer.  This week was pretty busy and I only had time to double two days.  On Monday I did mile repeats and it was a struggle.  I crashed pretty hard and the last one was barely faster than tempo pace.  Still, I feel like these workouts are helping.  The fact that they are so tough for me makes me think that they are really getting to the core of my weaknesses as a runner.

On Wednesday we had another blogger meetup.  Steph, Jamie, and Renassa, were there along with Joan and Jen from the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.  It was unfortunate that we couldn't get a bigger gathering but it's tough since we all have so many commitments.  Some had work conflicts, others live out of state, and one blogger was busy touring New England after her husband tore it up at the Boston Marathon!
We were a few bloggers short but it was a fun time!
Two representatives from Carb Boom were also there.  Carb Boom is supplying the gels for the aid stations in the marathon.  I'm no gel expert, but apparently Carb Boom has a higher complex carb to simple carb ratio than other gels which should give you more sustained energy.  The primary source of carbohydrates in these is maltodextrin, which is basically a low molecular weight starch.  Anyway, you can get a 20% discount on their gels if you use the code CLEMARATHON when ordering.

On Saturday I ran in the Cleveland 10 Miler.  You can read my race recap here.  I was really sore for the rest of the day but after sleeping 12 hours last night I felt fine today!

Just three weeks til the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!

This weeks runs:

Monday: AM - 5 mi easy
               PM - Track workout: 4x1600m w/ 400m jog recovery: 5:25, 5:44, 5:46, 5:55 - 6.6 mi total
Tuesday: 5 mi easy
Wednesday: 5 mi easy
Thursday: AM - 2.5 mi easy
                PM - 4 mi tempo, 6 mi total

Friday: 5 mi easy

Saturday: Hermes Cleveland 10 Miler - 58:39, 14 mi total

Sunday: rest day

Total: 49.1 miles

Race Recap: Hermes Cleveland 10 Miler

Yesterday was my first foray into longer distances with the Hermes Cleveland 10 Miler.  I really didn't know what to expect in this race and didn't have much of a goal in mind.  Basically, I just wanted to make sure I relaxed in the first half of the race and didn't die in the second half.

The course starts at the upper, western tier of Edgewater Park and ends in the lower eastern tier.  The course is primarily an out-and-back through the Edgewater neighborhood and along Lake Ave. in Lakewood.  There was a strong western wind which meant the course would be upwind to start and downwind on the way back.

My legs felt a bit sluggish during the warmup, which is unfortunate because they felt really good on Friday morning's run.  There does not seem to be any discernible pattern in when my legs feel good vs. bad.  Someday I will figure this out.

I got to the start, did a few strides and off we went.
There's me front and center at the start
The first few miles I tried to relax and just find people to run with in order to save energy.  After the first mile I was running with one other guy in 4th/5th place.  We stayed together until just after the second mile when he dropped off so I was running alone in 4th.  By this point the top three had already established a considerable gap so I was basically in no man's land.

Miles 3 and 4 were tough.  We were running right into the teeth of the wind.  I was just doing my best to hold my pace and run strong but also stay relaxed.  The turnaround was just before mile 4 and I actually took water at the water stop there, which was the first time I had taken water in a race in many years.

On the way back I got a lot of support from the runners still on the way out, which was awesome.  I was still 4th and the 1st women was now in 5th.  I could tell how far behind me she was by the cheers.  I would get a little cheer, and then about 20 seconds later I would hear a big cheer.

As I got into the later miles there were no more outgoing runners and I was basically by myself and would only pass the occasional spectator.  The top 3 were well out sight now and I still had a decent lead on the 1st woman.  It was weird feeling, being isolated in a race like this.  I had never really experienced it before.  At certain points I got worried that I was going to go off course.

Around mile 8 I reentered Edgewater Park and then went out for the loop through Battery Park, which is the last part of the course.  Somewhere in middle of mile 8 I got worried that I was going to get caught so I started picking up the pace.  On the last mile there was a brief stretch were you turn west and had to go directly into the wind again.  That was rough.

Finally, I went through the tunnel under the shoreway and back into Edgewater for the final part of the race.  The wind here was really coming strong off the lake which made for a tough finish.  I gutted it out and managed a decent kick in the last 100m.
First 10 miler finished!

Final time was 58:39, 4th overall, 1st in my age group and a PR (by default).

Overall, I think I did ok for myself.  I paced it about as well as I could have with near even splits (29:16 first half, 29:22 second half).

My next race is in just one week: the Race to Empower 5k.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland 10k Training: Week 17

Hard to believe it but the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is now less than a month a way.  Today marked the end of an inadvertent 22 day run streak.  I wasn't really meaning to go this long without a day off but it just sort of ended up that way.  I had to juggle workouts this week since we got snow(!) on Tuesday.  I changed up the track workout this week, doing a faster workout (400's) with longer recovery but running the recovery at tempo pace.  The goal was to get used to some faster pacing but still keep the workout aerobically focused.  Between these different track workouts and my Summer of Malmo plan, I've really been experimenting with a lot of new things in my training.  It has paid off already with a big PR at Malachi.  Hopefully, it keeps paying off in the coming month!

This week begins the start of serious spring racing.  I'm planning on running four races over the next five weeks and then I'll be taking two weeks off before I resume training again for the fall season.  At this point it's all about staying healthy, refining speed and racing fast!

This weeks runs:

Monday: 5 mi easy
Tuesday: AM - 5 mi easy
               PM - 5.5 mi tempo, 7.5 mi total

Wednesday: AM - 5 mi easy
                    PM - 6.8 mi easy

Thursday: AM - 5 mi easy
                PM - Track workout: 6x400m w/ 400m tempo pace recovery: 74, 77, 75, 76, 76, 74
                       - 4.8 mi total

Friday: AM - 5 mi easy
           PM - 7.8 mi easy, 5x 10 sec hill sprints

Saturday: 10.3 mi long run

Sunday: rest day

Total: 62.0 miles

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rite Aid Cleveland 10k Training: Weeks 15 and 16

I finally got back on track these past two weeks (pun intended).  I got my mileage back into the 60's and I did my first track workout of the season.  I'm trying a new approach for my workouts this training cycle.  Inspired by this article, the plan is to mix in workouts where I go on shorter rests but run smoother more relaxed intervals.  Hopefully, this will keep things more aerobic and help in longer races.  The first week I ran 800's mostly in the 2:45-2:50 range but with a quick 200m recover (all the recovery 200's were 55 sec or less).  The old Brian would have tried to hammer each one in 2:30 and then slow jogged a 400 in between.  Hopefully, this approach will work better and keep me healthier.

My next race will be the Cleveland 10 Miler in two weeks.

Week 15:

Monday: AM - 5 mi easy
               PM - Track workout - 6x800m w/ 200m recovery - 2:47, 2:45, 2:47, 2:49, 2:52, 2:49

Tuesday: AM - 5 mi easy
               PM - 3.1 mi easy

Wednesday: AM - 5 mi easy
                    PM - 7.8 mi easy

Thursday: AM - 5 miles easy
                PM - 3.3 mile tempo, 5.3 mi total

Friday: AM - 5 mi easy
            PM - 4.8 mi easy

Saturday: Bob Kahn Invitational - 1500m: 4:33, 800m: 2:16 - 5.5 mi total

Sunday: 5.7 mi easy

Total: 62.6 miles

Week 16:

Monday: AM - 5 mi easy
               PM - Track workout - 6x1000m w/ 200m recovery - 3:36, 3:34, 3:32, 3:29, 3:30, 3:26

Tuesday: 5 mi easy

Wednesday: AM - 5 mi easy
                    PM - 7.8 mi easy, 5x 10 sec hill sprints

Thursday: 5 miles easy

Friday: AM - 5 mi easy
           PM - 5.5 mile tempo, 7.5 mi total

Saturday: AM - 4.8 mi easy
               PM - 7.8 mi easy, 5x 10 sec hill sprints

Sunday: 10.7 mi long run

Total: 69.7 miles