A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Two Week 10K Training Program

I saw this post from a friend on Facebook this morning...

...and it reminded me of a post I wrote one year ago on October 1 called My Two Week Half Marathon Training Program. This post remains one of the top five most read posts on my blog. The funny thing is that it's not really a training program at all. I was making it up as I went along. I had signed up for the Denver Rock 'n' Roll half marathon two weeks prior to the race and was winging it. Two weeks later I ran my second fastest half in 146:43 (8:08/mile)!

One week ago today I ran the fastest race of my life following a similar training schedule, setting a new PR at the 10K distance (47:04) and the fastest per mile pace (7:35) of any race I have run. So now I present to you, my two week 10K training program:

click image to enlarge

Basically all I did was vary my mileage and intensity with longer runs on the weekends (5 mi.) and shorter runs during the week, mixing in one high intensity track workout the Tuesday (10/2) before the race. I did jog about a mile while marking the course on the day before the race but didn't capture it on my Garmin Forerunner. But I made sure to save up plenty of energy to give it my all on race day. And that's what I did!

The bottom line is I never really follow any training regimen. Never have. Maybe that's why I'm a mediocre athlete. But then again I don't make a living as an athlete. I travel a lot for work and really can't follow a rigid training schedule. Business travel with a bike really isn't practical. And have you ever tried swimming laps in Holiday Inn Express pool? So I do what I can when I can. When I'm on the road, I run. When I'm home, I ride. In the winter I swim at the rec center and run on the treadmill. In the summer I ride my bike to work.

Today I think I'll go for a mountain bike ride on the Ridgeline Open Space. I'm not training for anything at this point. Just having fun and staying in motion. Maintaining a base level of fitness is the key to my two week training programs. I'm not starting on the couch. But if you are, it's never too late to start moving!

Ride on...


Monday, October 8, 2012

Fighting the Devil on my Shoulder

Approaching the finish line!
Everytime I run a race a little devil appears on my shoulder, usually about two-thirds the way into the race. "You can't do this. You're too tired. Your legs feel like lead. Your lungs are burning. You should slow down. Maybe walk a little. Or just quit." That devil cost me a PR in last year's Denver Rock 'n' Roll half marathon.

Fortunately I have an Angel on my other shoulder who balances that out. "You can do this. You have trained hard. The pain is temporary. Think how good it will feel to cross the finish line knowing you reached your goal -- and then post it on Facebook!"

Yes, sadly, I actually think about that when I am running :)

This past Saturday I beat the devil at his own game. I used him as motivation to run harder. I was expecting him. And when he showed up my Angel was prepared to fight with words of encouragement.

One of the angels on my shoulder was my friend Sheila Ressler, who not only helped plan the race but also finished her first 5K!
Since I had helped mark the course for the Beefin' it up; Fuel for the Finish 10K, I knew the course. Between miles 4 and 5 in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park there was a nasty hill. A long, steady incline that ended with a steep, winding climb. To make it worse, a cold headwind blew down the hill. Having experienced it on the back of a four-wheeler the morning before, I knew this is where the devil would appear.

Yet another angel, Kathy Tokach, handled many of the details of planning her first race like a pro.
Saturday morning was cold, but not as cold as Friday morning. And a clear, blue, sunny sky greeted the 175 runners and walkers who showed up for the race. I took the sun as a sign the Angel would be strong!

Turns out I had several angels on my shoulder! Two Facebook friends, Sarah and Teresa ran their first 5Ks in identical times of 36:21. I'd have loved to see them cross the line together (but I was still out on the course!).
At the start of the 10K I took off fast. I wanted to lead out the group through the first turns to make sure everyone made it to the main part of the course. One young woman, who I now know as Brie, took off fast. And sure enough, she missed the first turn. I yelled to her as I made the turn and she quickly turned around then caught and passed me, with a guy in neon-colored shoes, who I now know as Jared) right behind her. I had held the lead for about .2 miles and now sat in third.

I kept Brie and Jared in my sights up the mile-long climb to the 5K turnaround point. But when I crested the hill into Fort Lincoln they were long gone. I hoped they could follow the markings we had made on the pavement. When the landscape opened up at the bottom of the big hill (the same brutal one we would climb on the way back) I could see them make the turn on the road that would take them to the turnaround point.

Brie and Jared were still running together when they passed me heading back from the turnaround. We high-fived as we passed. I was still in third. And when I made the turn at the 5K mark I was right on my goal pace. I had just run my fastest 5K ever!

I like an out-and back course because I think it's fun to see all of the other runners, give some high fives and offer words of encouragement. I saw my friend Calli on the way back and she said "nice work." I liked that comment. It reminded me that there was still work to be done. A hill to be climbed.

Turning back on the main road it hit me. The wind. The hill. The devil. But this time I was ready. I actually talked to him. "Shut up!" I said when the negative thoughts creeped in. "Go away!"

That hill sucked. But I didn't let it beat me. That mile was my only one over eight minutes and it was 8:00.10! At the top of the hill I checked my Garmin Forerunner 410. I was still on pace to break 48:00. In fact, I had a shot at 47:00! The devil bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat :)

After crossing under the road and turning towards the finish line I saw the clock was still on 46:00 and change. I heard the DJ announce my name and sprinted towards the finish. I was still in third. I was going to make my goal. I crossed at 47:04 and yelled. Something like AAAAAAGGGHHH!

It was a painful, happy, satisfied, ardurous sound. I had just ran the fastest race in my life. Not only the fastest 10K, the fastest pace at ANY distance (7:35/mile). Take that, devil! At age 48. I'm not getting older. I'm getting faster!

The Beefin It Up! planning committee: from left: Michelle Marohl, Sheila Ressler, Sheyna Strommen, and Kathy Tokach.

The first-ever Beefin it up; Fuel for the Finish 5/10K was a huge success and provided me with a memory of a lifetime. Thanks to the North Dakota CattleWomen for inviting me to take part. Congratulation on putting together a tremendous race.

Ride on!


P.S. Jared and Brie took first and second in the 10K. Check out the full results here.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm Not Getting Older; I'm Getting Faster

As I mentioned in my last post I was invited to serve as the official "spokesrunner" of the first-ever Beefin it up; Fuel for the Finish 5/10K. The race was being managed by two friends from the North Dakota CattleWomen's Association and I was honored by the invitation. However, I also was a little nervous. I am not an elite runnner. I have never had a "podium finish." I didn't want to show up and turn in a mediocre performance!

And I didn't just want to set a new PR for the 10K (55:29 set in my first 10K in 2007). I wanted run the fastest race of my life! By that I mean a faster per mile pace than any race I had run at any distance. This would mean I would have to run faster than 7:45/mile, a pace I set in the mostly downhill Trolley Run in Kansas City way back in 2004. So I set my goal at 48:00 (essentially 7:44/mile).

Keep in mind this meant I'd have to run 6.2 miles (10K) at a faster pace than I had ever run 3.1 (5K). My 5K PR is 24:09 (7:46/mile). After I announced my goal on Facebook and began having second thoughts. What was I thinking? I'm 48 years old. I haven't run a sub-8 race in two years!

So I started ramping up my miles but, more important, the intensity of my running workouts. I began pushing myself to run harder and faster, incorporating interval training and speed work. On several occasions I was able to run a sub-8:00 pace in training over the past two months but nothing to indicate that I was capable of running the fastest race of my life.

Sheila pounds in the mile marker "steaks" while Kathy waits on the four-wheeler. The 10K course followed along the Missouri River into Fort Lincoln State Park in Mandan, ND.
I flew in to Bismarck, ND, on Thursday and got up Friday a.m. to help mark the course with my friend Kathy and Sheila. The plan was to drive the course, which included sections of bike path and road, on Kathy's four-wheeler, marking the miles using my Garmin Forerunner 410 GPS-eanbled running watch. The plan did not include doing this in cold (28F), windy and overcast conditions!

After marking the miles I headed out to conduct a TV interview with KX News (CBS) in Bismarck. I was still shivering when I showed up for the interview. From there I met Sheila at the KFYR (NBC) TV studio for a live interview on the Noon Report. Then it was back to the course to mark key turns along the route.

Outside the KFYR (NBC) TV studio in downtown Bismarck, ND
We wrapped up the day with dinner at Montana Mike's steakhouse in Mandan, where I ordered my traditional pre-race meal of steak (filet) and sweet potatoes, two power foods that provide great fuel for the physical activity. I hit the sack early but slept fitfully in nervous anticipation of the race the next morning.

Could I pull off the fastest race of my life or was I overly-ambitious in setting such a lofty goal? Only time would tell.

To be continued...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cool Running

When I woke up yesterday morning and saw Facebook posts from friends in North Dakota (yes, I have friends in North Dakota) talking about snow I was a little worried. After all, the big race I have been training for since I parked the road bike and strapped on my running shoes is this weekend in North Dakota! While its not exactly like I'm on the Jamaican Bobsled team competing at the Calgary Olympics, the thought of running in the snow in October is a bit disconcerting, even for a guy from Colorado.

Heading out for the Turkey Rock Trot on Thanksgiving day 2007 is was 17F!
The good news is there was no snow on the ground when my flight arrived in Bismarck last night. It was cold and windy (temps in the 20s last night) but no wet stuff. And the forecast for tomorrow is sunny and cold (30s). Should be great running weather. I don't mind cold as long as the sun is shining.

I have run one race in extreme cold, the Turkey Rock Trot  on Thanksgiving Day 2007 in Castle Rock, CO. I have also run in pretty extreme heat. Temps topped out over 90F during the 13.1-mile run leg of the 2007 Vineman 70.3 triathlon. I'd take cold any day!

So I think things are looking good for me to make a run at setting a new personal record in the 10K. Actually, that should be fairly easy given that my best to date at this distance (I've only run two official 10Ks) was 55:29 at the Fans on the Field 10K in 2007. But my goal tomorrow is to break 48:00. That won't be easy. Given that my personal best in the 5K is 24:09, to break 48:00 I would essentially have to run two personal best 5Ks back-to-back!

I am now headed out to check out the course with Kathy Tokach and Sheila Ressler from the North Dakota Cattlewomen, sponsors of the race. Kathy and Sheila have done a great job planning the Inaugural Beefin It Up; Fuel for the Finish 5/10K race. Later this morning I will be conducting two TV interviews today as the official spokesrunner for this is a first-of-its-kind BEEF exclusive running event! Stay tuned for details and results.

Ride on!