3 Weeks to Go!

The week started off with Cole and I traveling to the Twin Cities for a course preview/long run. On Sunday morning we did a relaxed 13 miles in the Park followed by drills and strides. Then in the evening, we hopped on a plane bound for Minnesota. A few months prior, Cole had floated the idea to Pete, and it made sense to get a feel of the course before racing it.

On Monday, Cole and I ran out and back on the last few miles of the course before having a lazy day around the hotel. I ended up walking to the Minnesota State Capital Building and looking at the monuments to political and cultural leaders of Minnesota, along with memorials for World War II, Korean, and Vietnam Wars. My favorite was a statue honoring Charles Lindbergh that had some inspiring quotes engraved into the path. There were also monuments dedicated to Herbert Humphrey, Minnesota Senator and Vice President to LBJ, and Roy Wilkins, a leader in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.

Great talk with the folks from Savage, Minnesota!

Great talk with the folks from Savage, Minnesota!

Later that afternoon, Cole and I headed to Savage, Minnesota (How awesome is the name “Savage”) to have a Q and A with a group run lead by fellow Reebok athlete, Katie McGregor. It is always fun to talk to other runners who are just as dedicated to running, but are not able to do it for a living. They seemed very excited to talk with us and hang out for a bit before their run. Also it was really great to see Katie again, as we all became friends when she spent last summer training at ZAP.

Tuesday morning was an early one. We wanted to try and avoid as much traffic as possible. (They wouldn’t close the streets down for us, figure that!) At 6 am we met two members of Team USA Minnesota, Eric Finan and Jon Peterson, at the 4 mile mark on the course to start our run. They ended up being our tour guides for the first 6 miles of the course before they turned off. They had raced a few days prior, so they were not so keen on working out with us.

6 miles at normal pace; 5 miles at a tad slower than marathon pace (~5:10);
1 mile float (45-50 sec slower); 4 miles at marathon pace (~5:05);
1 mile float; 3 miles at tad faster than marathon pace (~5:00); 1 mile float;
1 mile faster than marathon pace (~4:50)

At the 10 mile mark, we met up with Katie and she hopped in our support car driven by Ryan. From there it was all about our workout. Cole and I started out just a bit fast, but we settled to the paces we were supposed to run, for me that only lasted a mile as I picked it up for the last three miles. Even though I was running faster than what I was prescribed, I felt very comfortable, so I went with it. I was a bit surprised by how easy it was to run around marathon pace. This gave me some confidence for the rest of the workout.

"The accumulation of knowledge, the discoveries of science, the products of technology, our ideas, our art, our social structures, all the achievements of mankind have value only to the extent that they preserve and improve the quality of life." - Charles Lindbergh

“The accumulation of knowledge, the discoveries of science, the products of technology, our ideas, our art, our social structures, all the achievements of mankind have value only to the extent that they preserve and improve the quality of life.”
– Charles Lindbergh

The 4 mile section went off with out a hitch, but I knew that coming up was the hardest part of the course. From miles 20-23 there is a steady climb of nearly 200 feet. While a hill like this would not be a problem if it came early in the race, since it comes in the later stages, it can make or break the race. I charged up the hills, not really slowing down from my previous pace. I felt good and did not really feel the effects of the hills until the end of the second mile (of three). When I crested the summit, I picked the pace up for the last half mile. I finished the last of the workout well, and had a mile cool down.

Looking back, I am very happy with my effort on Tuesday. I think that it shows that I should be able to run a very good marathon in a month’s time. I feel that I did not get too beat up running 16 miles at nearly marathon pace, all within my longest run ever. Also I know that I will be much more even and relaxed when racing in a pack. I tend to run well when I am able to just relax and let the race unfold, then just race the last half. I have done this in both my 10,000m and Half Marathon debuts.

I am glad that we went and ran the course. I now have a few things to keep in mind when I race the course in three weeks, places where I should push and places where I should relax. I think that making the trek out there was very insightful, and I will benefit in a months time when I get to race it.

One more thing, I would like to thank Eric and Jon for getting up bright and early to met Cole and me. Without them helping show us the course, I am sure we would have gotten lost. Also I would like to thank Katie. First for inviting us to talk with her group on Monday evening and then getting up and helping Ryan be our support.

5:04, 5:13, 5:00, 4:57, 5:00 (25:14);
5:45;4:53, 5:00, 4:55, 4:50 (19:38); 
5:40;4:59, 4:53, 4:57 (14:49); 5:38; (Up the hills!)
23 miles; 2:11:19 hr. (Hopefully that will be my debut time!);
5:46 avg.5:06 avg. for the 16 workout miles

We had a camp this weekend, so the next few days were spent with some easy running and preparing the ZAP campus. We were cleaning the lodge, making beds, and mowing the lawn. While it is always busy and tiring to get ready for and host a camp, it is only for a few months a year.

7/7 x 1000m, 2 min rest, 3:30 min between sets

The camp that we hosted this weekend was one of our marathon prep camps, so that meant a trip out to theVirginia Creeper Trail. Once again, Pete had scheduled a workout for Cole and me. We had 14 1000 meter repeats, split into two sets of seven (the most I have ever done!). Unfortunately, I did not feel fantastic. My legs were still quite tired from the big long run a few days prior. I thought that I had recovered, as the easy runs in between had felt very good, but when I tried to run faster, the pace was harder than it should have been.

So after a few reps, I decided to not focus on hitting splits and just run the workout by feel. I still kept my split for each rep, but I was not looking at the splits for the intermediate distances (200m, 400m, etc). One think that is apparent when looking at the splits is how even I was, consistently running within a second each rep. During this I was focusing on keeping my stride rate high and my stride low. One of the things that I have been working on for the last year or so is to lessen the amount of bounce that I have in my stride. If I can lower the amount of energy that I use pushing myself up, I can then transfer it to propel myself forward. I try to think of it like the Roadrunner from the Wile E. Coyote cartoons. His legs just move in a circle and all his energy is used to move forward, no wonder he is always able to out run poor old Wile! Eventually I found a good rhythm and the rest of the workout went by pretty quick.

3:02, 3:04, 3:03, 2:57, 3:02, 2:57, 3:00;
2:57, 3:01, 2:57, 3:01, 2:55, 3:00, 2:55

Even though I felt tired and sluggish from the beginning, I think that I was able to still get a solid workout in. I did not hit the workout out of the park, that cannot happen every time, but I think it ended up being at least a single. To keep with the baseball analogy, with three singles in a row the bases are loaded and ready for a grand slam, which is the best possible outcome for a race. As long as I keep hitting singles and doubles now, I know that I will be able to hit that home runs and grand slams when it counts.

Here is another video of Cole and me doing a workout as we prep for Twin Cities! It was the hill cycle workout from a week ago.