Posts Tagged ‘matt fitzgerald’

2013 ING Miami Half Marathon

Travel & Lodge

IMG_20130125_093053My wife and I flew into Miami, Florida on the Friday before the race at approximately mid-day.  We were greeted by a beautiful blue sky filled with popcorn-like, white puffy clouds, and a $40 cab fare from the airport to the hotel.  I booked our hotel several months ago based basically on a single criteria, its proximity to the start-finish line.  Luckily for us, the Holiday Inn Port of Miami was 3 blocks from the start line and 2 blocks from the finish.

My stomach had started feeling a little uneasy the day before our trip but I wasn’t too concerned since I wasn’t suffering from any other symptoms such as headache, fever or sinus issues.  I already had enough on my plate stressing over the recent shin splint appearance, not to mention the normal first-time big race paranoia over training, fitness, and whatever else could theoretically throw a wrench in my plans.

IMG_20130125_134858We arrived too early to check in to our room so we headed across the street to the Bayside Market Place where we decided to have a single, large splurge meal before I had to go on pre-race lock down.  We settled on the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory and while I didn’t necessarily care for the over the top Forrest Gump theme or the lack-luster service, the shrimp scampi was filling and tasty.  We also each enjoyed a Corona-Rita, which is a bottle of Corona beer suspended upside down over a glass partially filled with margarita mixer. If I wasn’t registered to run a half marathon two days later I could have sat right in that chair for the duration of the weekend.

Unfortunately, my stomach’s previous rumblings were not a false alarm and for the next 3 days, no matter what I ate or drank, I would have to make a direct path for the bathroom within 30 minutes or risk public humiliation.

The Expo

I had planned on just relaxing after lunch on Friday and heading over to the Expo on Saturday afternoon so I could catch a talk by Matt Fitzgerald, co-author of one of my favorite books on running.  But as it turned out, the hotel employee who was checking us in was also running the half marathon and we struck up quite the conversation, during which he constantly recommended that we go to the Expo immediately so we could register my wife for the Tropical 5k, scheduled to be run at 7:30 am on Saturday morning.

We took the free shuttle over to the Expo and it was a nicely laid out event with all of the typical and expected vendors hawking their goods and offering free samples of their products. I was adamant about not trying any of the energy gels, shots, gummies, etc so as to avoid any bad reactions, and instead we focused on purchasing a few items of clothing and other memorabilia.

And then it happened! While I was collecting my registration packet my wife told me she was walking over to sign up for the 5k event.  I was excited for her but honestly also slightly concerned about the logistical issues since the race did not start or finish near our hotel.  We wrapped things up fairly quickly at the Expo and headed back to the hotel turn in early after starting the travel day at 3 am.

Tropical 5k & Expo Day 2

We woke up at 5 am on Saturday, choked down some coffee and a PowerBar headed out on our adventure hunt to find the 5k race. We ran into another couple about 15 minutes into our trip, and then a runner visiting from Germany, and then another couple, from Brazil. No one knew how to find or get to the Miami Children’s Museum on foot from where we were. I knew we were in deep trouble when a BMW pulled up beside us and the occupants rolled down the windows and asked us if we knew how to get to the race because they were official event media personnel and were lost.

IMG_20130126_165115We walked about 5k through less than ideal neighborhoods and highways overpasses before running into a shuttle service at Parrot Jungle that took us to the race.  I stayed on the bus and rode it to the finish line of the point to point race so I could wait for my wife. She cruised through in a personal best for her, all smiles, and looking great. Congrats baby! Great atmosphere at both the finish line and the after-party which took place at Nikki Beach.

We left pretty early to get back to the hotel, clean up and shop a little for the kids and extended family before heading back out to the Expo so I could catch Matt’s speech about the “art and science of pacing.”  He gave a great talk, took questions after and I even managed to pin him in a corner for some last minute strategy advice as well as an autograph for my copy of Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon.

Rookie Mistakes

I did the best I could avoiding common pitfalls that sabotage unsuspecting or undisciplined racers.  I didn’t drink any alcohol other than my single beer on Friday. I stayed away from sampling new and exciting products from highly energetic Expo vendors, and then I let my goofy, dumb-ass pride kick in.

There was a beautiful blue, race-themed tech shirt for sale. And I started rationalizing how it might be easier for my wife to spot me in the race if I wasn’t wearing the official orange shirt like 25,000 other runners.  Plus I could then puff my chest out and wear the orange shirt during our flight home on Monday, bragging to the world about my exploits.

IMG_20130127_051338Well, what do you know?  By about mile 7 my nipples were raw. So raw that I was occasionally grabbing at my shirt to pull the fabric away from my chest rather than let it drag across my chest again.

Since I was feeling flat from all of my digestive issues I made a last minute to decision to abandon my strategy of running with a pace group targeting a 2:20 finish.  Instead I decided to program a 13.1 mile workout into my Garmin, and assign various pace ranges to several segments so I could be reminded of an overall strategy without feeling the pressure of running with a group or constantly glancing at my watch.

Unfortunately, I did not realize or forgot that this would cause the Garmin to not give me 1 mile split times but instead provide only 3 splits referencing the 6 mile, 4 mile and 5k segments I had programmed.  A real bummer not to be able to waste a few hours staring at my first ever half marathon split times from start to finish.

The Race

Finally! We get to what you came here for.

The corrals opened at 5 am and I walked outside the hotel with my wife at about 5:15.  It was literally 10° hotter than it had been the past 2 days and I immediately shed my jacket and took a few last sips of water.

We walked around a bit together as I jogged and performed some dynamic stretches. She snapped photos and did a great job of capturing the atmosphere.  I decided to search out my corral and she climbed the stairs of the American Airlines Arena to stake out an observation post for the start.

IMG_20130127_054044After the requisite opening ceremonies, we were off and walking…..shuffling….walking…….the wait wasn’t too bad however and by the time that I made my way to the timing mat I was actually running.

Maybe the best decision I made the entire weekend was to abandon the pace group idea and just let the race come to me.  I didn’t feel great and the adrenalin wasn’t jacking me up either.  I felt ok, but guarded and cautious, and I was happy that I had programmed a somewhat more conservative approach into my Garmin, as opposed to hitting my goal pace right out of the chute with a group of strangers.

It literally took me until mile 3 before I felt somewhat relaxed. I also made a promise to drink at every aid station, thinking that my constant bathroom issues plus the higher temperatures would drain me faster than I had prepared for.  At the first aid station I grabbed a cup of Gatorade on the run and promptly spilled the majority of it down my shirt on over my face. From that point forward I would walk whatever distance was necessary to drink the actual contents of whatever cup I decided to grab.

As a big race rookie, navigating the aid station mayhem was a bit disconcerting. Large groups of people mobbed the first table at each aid station creating human blockades that obstructed runners who were caught on the inside lane.  Timing my dash into the later tables at each station became a fairly technical game of guess-timating angles, speeds and distances in order to successfully hydrate while avoiding crashing into other runners.

There were a couple of aid stations throughout the course that were not prepared or re-stocked by the time I came rambling by, but for the most part I’d have to say the volunteers, aid and effort were great and I can’t really complain that anything they did or didn’t do had any effect on my results. They had a hard job all day and performed it well. Thanks!

My only other critical observation during the race is in regards to the Galloway, run-walk interval participants. They were strong, disciplined and plentiful.  But they also seemed to insist on running shoulder to shoulder, spanning a large width of the available course at any given time.  And of course, just like clockwork, they became a walking roadblock.  If you’re in a group of 6 plus people who know that you’re going to walk every 4 minutes or whatever your schedule is, can you please be aware of the fact that a long narrow rectangle of people is easier for other racers to navigate than is a wide, unyielding mass of elbows and backsides?  Please?

ING Miami is a beautiful course!

ING Miami is a beautiful course!

I was determined to follow the advice of going out slow and running the first half of the race conservatively.  I ran the first 6 miles without even considering an increase in pace.  And interestingly enough I felt better physically at mile 6 than I did at mile 2.  Over the next 4 miles I knew that I wanted to make a slight effort at increasing my pace but each time I tried to hold a new pace I’d find myself zigging and zagging among the crowd and feeling like I was wasting a lot of energy.  So instead I decided to start surging between every second or third stoplight.  I was feeling great and noticed that I was seeing mostly 10:xx + on my watch instead of 11:xx.

It was during this 3 to 4 mile stretch that I began fantasizing about what it would take to still hit a 2:20 or better finish.  Could I turn a fartlek style second half into a respectable finish?  Or if I found an opening in the course could I sustain a smooth transition to another gear and cruise through the final 5k at a 30 minute or better split?

I’d never find out.  Somewhere between mile 10 and 11 my right hip began to tighten significantly.  It was becoming harder and harder to drive my knee through, and I felt like I was leaving my right leg behind me at times.  I’m proud that I didn’t panic or just give up but it would be a lie if I said that I wasn’t frustrated knowing that my chance to turn an average effort into a respectable PR was disappearing quickly.

Garmin 610 Run Data

The final 2.5 miles or thereabouts were really just about not slipping into crash and burn territory.  I kept trying to remember a quote I read somewhere along the lines of, “the runner who can run the longest, and the fastest, while in the most discomfort, while staying the most relaxed will be the winner.”

My idea of winning at that point was digging in for a final, sub 10:00 mile or squeezing through the 2:20 window somehow but it wasn’t to be.  I just lacked the extra gear that more focused training wold have provided and I lacked the mental fortitude to ignore my hip for the final 5k.

IMG_20130127_095205I’m not necessarily disappointed. I beat my realistic goal of 2:30 and I did so knowing that there’s a lot more potential waiting to be exposed. But it won’t happen magically or just because I want it.  I have to make it happen.

Running may very well be the most honest game on earth. It won’t give you anything that you haven’t earned but it will give you exactly what you deserve.

The After-Party

Bottled water. Bananas. Bagels. Fruit cups. Medals. Pictures. Some band playing. Rice and beans. A beer tent that was too far away. A bright sun and green grass. Stretching against a tree. Finally finding my wife. A shower and change of clothes. Three cheese ravioli x 2. A 3 hour nap.

Gear

Brooks PureConnect

CEP Progressive Compression Socks

Garmin Forerunner 610 w/ HR monitor

Splits

Split 1, 1:07:07, 6 miles, avg pace 11:11, avg HR 156, max HR 171
Split 2, 42:09, 4 miles, avg pace 10:38, avg HR 170, max HR 177
Split 3, 32:07, 3.1 miles, avg pace 10:27, avg HR 178, max HR 182

ingmiami2013

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The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.

Well, it’s official. 2012 has come to an end. Maybe not quite as dramatically as the Maya had allegedly predicted, but it’s over nonetheless.

As best as I can tell from my records I began my running experiment in late July, completing 5 runs between 1 and 1.5 miles each. Things started picking up quickly come August, and despite numerous injuries and setbacks early on, I’ve maintained a fairly respectable schedule (by my fairly lax standards as a former couch potato.)

August: 57 miles

September: 81 miles

October: 57 miles

November: 56 miles

December: 74 miles

561884_367390530006994_782436028_nSeptember’s significantly higher volume came as the result of never taking more than a single day off between runs, as well as running on quite a few consecutive days.  In addition, 13.2 miles of the 81 came on a run-walk effort on 9/11. It’s ironic that since my A goal is the ING Miami Half Marathon in January, that the 9/11 run is the only time I’ve ever covered the full distance.

September’s miles came with a high price however as I was constantly plagued by plantar fasciitis, bone spurs and Achilles tendonitis.  Eventually I was forced to receive a series of corticosteroid injections in my ankle and the sole of my foot. Fortunately I discovered that via aggressive stretching, primarily the heel-drop protocol, as well as daily rolling of a tennis ball under my arches, I could eliminate a majority of the issues.

2012 monthly totals

I participated in two official races: the ECO RUN 10k and the City Tour Race.  The Eco Run surprised me by taking us off road for a stint over the sand of the Pacific coast beach at Playa Herradura. Combined with some major late race elevation climbs and the heat and humidity, I was happy to survive and struggled through in roughly 68 minutes.  The City Tour Race was a 10k that wasn’t. The day before the race some logistical issues shortened the race to 6 miles, but along with an obstacle free and mostly flat course, the shortened route provided a great confidence boost as I felt like I was finally ‘running,’ crossing the finish line in 54 minutes.

I experimented with quite a few different training ideas and theories, everything from low heart rate training, run-by-feel, to more aggressive pace based plans. They all provided some benefit and unsurprisingly also had their distinct shortcomings (all as a result of my execution, not their design.) As I continue to grow in both practical experience, knowledge and theory I’m sure I will find or create the recipe that respects my limitations while still challenging me to progress.

2012-11-11 city tour race 10kMy strength training was more consistent but not necessarily any more effective because I mostly remained focused on the same, basic strength exercises that I’ve performed for general fitness. They certainly did not hurt or inhibit my progress in any way. But from the perspective of becoming a better runner, in 2013 I will fine tune my efforts to more closely match my specific running goals.

Diet and nutrition improved but were not consistent; a recurring theme in my year in review analysis. I made a concerted effort to implement a Paleo inspired diet, and lost about 20 lbs.  When asked, I describe my approach as 80% paleo, 80% of the time. I am carrying 170 lbs on a 5’10” frame, but am still a bit soft and know that my body fat percentage is higher than it should be or needs to be.

As far as shoes, apparel, gear and accessories are concerned I spent way too much money.  But on the other hand, the monetary commitment is a motivating factor in my desire to now reap dividends from properly utilizing my tools, toys and indulgences.

I have a high-end GPS watch with heart rate monitor, and enough shoes, shirts, shorts and tights to last until this time next year before considering any additions or replacements. The priority now (as it should have been all along) is on making it happen!

I will save my 2013 goals, plans and aspirations for another post. But I would be remiss if i failed to mention and thank some of the people who have made my running a positive and life enriching experience.

Let me conclude by offering my sincere wishes that everyone can look back on 2012 and if not necessarily happy with every race, result or effort, can at least recognize what happened, why and how to make adjustments that will improve your chances for continued and greater success in 2013!

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Ancient geometers proposed a challenge known as Squaring the Circle, in which one had to construct a square with the same area as a given circle, using a compass and a straightedge, and within a certain number of finite steps. By 1882 the task was proven to be impossible.

As the expression is used in causal conversation and more specifically in regards to my running it may be interpreted to mean that success will prove impossible if I limit myself to the proverbial aids of only a compass and straightedge, and a finite number of steps. No pun intended.

And with that observation tucked away in my magician’s top hot, it’s time for a major adjustment in my training. You might say I am coming full circle.

I have improved noticeably over the past 8 months in terms of fitness and performance. The progress has come however at a substantial cost calculated in time lost due to multiple injuries and lesions, including bone spurs and plantar fasciitis.  As best I can determine, these injuries were the result of the common runner’s plague of trying to do too much too soon.

My primary influences up to this point have been the POSE Method for technique, combined with the knowledge, tactics and strategy employed by the likes of Jason Fitzgerald at Strength Running, as well as what I consider a running bible: Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon, a book by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald.

There is no fault to be laid at the feet of these individuals or their methods for my injuries and setbacks. Those are all completely and entirely due to my negligence, ego and contempt for one the most basic tenants of running success: build a proper foundation via base training.

My eagerness to run farther and faster bypassed the basics and I paid dearly for it. Instead of learning from my mistakes I compounded them. With each new injury or week of recovery I felt more desperate to make up for lost time, and though I might give a cursory acknowledgement to ‘easing back into my training,’ I would inevitably overextend my current level of fitness and experience only to find myself in the same situation three to four weeks down the road.

Enter stage left: Phil Maffetone and heart rate training. As per his biographical intro at naturalrunningcenter.com:

Dr. Philip Maffetone is an internationally recognized researcher, educator, clinician and author in the field of food and nutrition, exercise, sports medicine, and biofeedback. He was named coach of the year by Triathlete Magazine, and honored by Inside Triathlon magazine as one of the top 20 most influential people in endurance sports.

Following Dr. Maffetone’s method I can attempt to build the base and foundation that I most likely never acquired while playing ping pong between running too fast and too far, and recovering from aches and pains. Read the specifics regarding Dr. Maffetone’s method known as The 180 Formula.

Being the supremely hard-headed, wanna-be athlete that I am, I could never completely commit 100% to the 180 Formula and run at an uninspiring slow pace on every run. So below we shall review my new and improved bag of tricks.

Each week I will alternate running either three or four times per week. Weeks that call for four runs will be broken down into the following schedule: 3 runs that implement Dr. Maffetone’s heart rate monitoring, forcing me to remain below 150 beats per minute. One run per week will be at any pace I desire based on how I feel that given day, and it may include any of the techniques advocated by Jason and Matt Fitzgerald (no relation) and Brad Hudson such as negative splits, strides or hill sprints. The distance of the four runs is to be considered short to moderate and should be completed in a time ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour.

During weeks in which I run three times, 2 runs will be short or moderate in length and will fall under the 180 Formula. The long(er) run of the week will be approached via the methods of Fitzgerald and Hudson.

My expectations with this approach are to address my need to build aerobic fitness and efficiency via slow, controlled running within a certain heart rate percentage of my max HR. In addition, with 5 of every 7 runs conducted at a more conservative pace I am much less likely to self inflict stress injuries on my bones and joints. In contrast, a single shorter run and the long run both will be conducted on a perceived effort basis, allowing me to continue to build strength and the ability to improve and sustain pace.

Wish me luck.

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A detailed training log for the week is here.

This weekend was host to three major events, the Leadville Trail 100 Run, the Pikes Peak Ascent and the Pikes Peak Marathon.

The Leadville 100 is based in the Colorado mountains, and is a 100 mile out and back course with elevations ranging from 9200 feet to 12,600 feet.  This year’s male winner was Thomas Lorblanchet who posted a finishing time of 16 hours, 29 minutes.  My personal favorite, Anton Krupicka lead the majority of the race but ultimately finished in fourth place crossing the line in 17 hours, 21 minutes.

Pikes Peak Ascent, Simon Gutierrez

Take a look at this excerpt from the Pikes Peak home page, describing their events:

The Pikes Peak Ascent® and Pikes Peak Marathon® will redefine what you call running. Sure, they start out like a lot of races on Any Street, USA. But your first left turn will have you turning in the direction of up! During the next 10 miles, as you gain almost 6,000 vertical feet, your legs, lungs, heart and mind will be worn to a ragged nothingness. But it won’t be until the next three miles, with still over 2,000′ of vertical to go, that you will realize where the Marathon got its moniker—America’s Ultimate Challenge.

There’s a reason trees don’t bother growing above 12,000′ on Pikes Peak. They can’t! Makes one wonder if trees are smarter than runners. Above treeline most runners take 30 minutes or more, some much more, just to cover a mile. What little air remains can’t satisfy the endless stream of zombies hoping only to survive their next step. It’s a death march right out of a scene from Dawn of the Dead. Adding insult to injury it might start to snow!

It’s at this point if you are on the deluxe tour you must turn around and run back down the mountain for the second half of the Marathon. Along the way protruding rocks and roots are waiting to send you crashing to the ground mangling flesh and only temporarily masking the pain of blood filled blisters. Meanwhile, the temperature has often risen by more than 30 degrees since the start of the race. After all, it’s always best to cook raw meat.

The Pikes Peak Ascent is 13.32 miles in distance with a vertical climb of 7,815 feet. The 2012 overall winner was Jason Delaney with a chip time of 2:13:18, while Sage Canaday, a former member of the Hanson-Brooks training team continues to impress as a recent convert to trail and ultra races. Canaday took fourth overall, clocking a chip time of 2:21:16.

Killian Journet, ultra, trail and mountain marathon legend, took first place in the Pikes Peak marathon.  Killian is a member of the Salomon Trail Running team and you can follow a series of video production documenting his training and races here.

Reading List

These are three books in my Kindle library that I highly recommend.  Instead of doing the author’s an injustice by trying to review each book here, I’ll provide links to the books and author’s pages instead.

101 Simple Ways to be a Better Runner: A Short Guide to Running Faster, Preventing Injuries and Feeling Great 

Jason Fitzgerald

Daniels’ Running Formula: Second Edition

Jack Daniels

Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon: How to be Your Own Best Coach

Matt Fitzgerald and Brad Hudson

 

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