Training Update - End March
|San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge from the East Bay|
First, I thought it would take too long to recover from. In the past, I have noticed my body seems to recover much slower from short and fast races. My hamstrings took at least 10 days to feel normal after running the Berkeley Half last November. This fatigue could be due to my lack of more formal speed work, like intervals or tempo runs, in training, which I have done very little of, if any, in the last few months.
Secondly, I wasn't sure how the Oakland Half would fit into my San Diego goal, which is my main focus, not Boston. A fast half marathon with a little taper beforehand and 10 days of sore hamstrings, obviously doesn't sound ideal for 100 mile training or even marathon training.
|Rodeo Beach, Marin Headlands|
Finally, I questioned the idea of a tune-up race. Boston will be an all-out effort, regardless of weather or other external factors. A tune-up race would just give me an idea of my potential at Boston, assuming similar conditions, which could be used to determine my goal splits. However, this somewhat goes against my racing philosophy. I have never raced with splits before, and in fact, my best marathons have all been run by feel, without a watch. For example, my marathon PR at CIM 2012, I ran as hard as I could for 26.2 miles without a watch or knowing a single split through torrential rain and strong headwinds. The first time I saw a clock was 100 yards before the finish, 2:52, and after crossing the line, I collapse into the arms of the medical staff. The whole race I kept questioning myself whether or not I could hold on and seemed to be on the verge of blowing up. I don't want to get too philosophical in this post, but I race to find my true potential and that feeling at the finish knowing I gave it every ounce of my being. I want to feel 100% depleted with nothing left in the tank. In my opinion, if one is constantly trying to hit splits, racing becomes all about time and competition, which is not why I run. Perhaps my racing philosophy is a great subject for a future post, but to me, racing is all about trying to get as close as possible to one's true potential at that given instant. If you hit all your splits, one must wonder if they could have gone faster. If not, then you are disappointed because your fitness is less than you thought, even if you gave it everything you had. Of course, time goals and race strategies are important, and it is important to recognize your ability to determine your general strategy. However, more times than not, my strategies go right out the window before the start due to weather conditions, stomach issues or something else unexpected, and this usually leads to my most memorable and meaningful races, regardless of time. For CIM 2012, it lead to a PR against horrific weather conditions.
Although $95 might be reasonable for a big city half marathon a week before, I would rather spend the money on shoes or gear!
88.6 miles with 7,900ft of gain in 12:19
Since San Diego is my focus this season, my training will be ultra focused, meaning back-to-back long runs, more hills and more miles rather then traditional speed work. During the week, I commuted to and from work adding a little climbing in the Berkeley Hills. For the weekend, I had a great 20 mile run with the San Francisco Running Company Saturday. The first 15 miles had 2,200ft of climbing, and I was holding a comfortably hard pace both up and down. I finished the last four miles (flat) at 6:40 pace, which felt really good. This run gives me a ton of confidence for Boston and even makes me think 2:50 could be possible depending on the weather and the next few weeks. On Sunday, I went for 30 miles with my friend Dario. We did a 30 mile East Bay loop (Strava) through Wildcat Canyon, Tilden Park, Vollmer Peak, Claremont Canyon, downtown Berkeley, Berkeley Marina, Albany Bulb and Point Isabel. I felt a little bonky around miles 24 to 27, but only fueled with UCAN 30 minutes before and a couple gels to that point. At mile 25, I took a Pocket Fuel nut butter, which made the last few miles much better. This run was the first time I tried Pocket Fuel, and I thought it was great.
Training Week 3/24 - 3/30
90 miles with 13,500ft gain in 13:51
90 miles with 13,500ft gain in 13:51
|Tennessee Valley Beach|
In the past weeks, I have been steadily increasing mileage, but have keep the climbing between 7,000 and 8,000ft. It felt great to have a higher mileage week with a lot more climbing this week. I have been feeling very strong lately, with some awesome runs at hard efforts up and down. I hope to keep the mileage fairly high, in the 90 - 100 range, for the next couple weeks and continue increasing the vertical. Then, a mini taper for Boston.
|Mt. Tamalpais (Tam for short) from Vollmer Peak|
Over the last two weekends I have been running back-to-back long runs of 20 - 30 miles each. Before each run, I had a minimal breakfast consisting of a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter, and then, about 30 minutes before each run, I took one serving of UCAN Sports Drink Mix as instructed. UCAN claims to supply a steady flow of energy to your muscles over a longer period of time without spiking blood sugar, which avoids a potential energy crash later on. In contrast, gels typically spike your blood sugar and offer quick energy, but often lead to a crash afterwards. On Saturday 3/22, I ran 20 miles with just water and no calories during the run. I felt great for the first 18 miles, and for miles 19 and 20, I felt in the initial stages of a potential bonk. However, I ran the last four miles of this run hard at 6:40 pace. So I think it was probably of combination of a hard effort and lack of calories. However, even the UCAN Guide suggests another serving around mile 18 or 20 anyway. The next day was similar, pre-workout with UCAN, and then I ran 30 miles taking a gel at mile 15 and 20 along with a Pocket Fuel nut butter at 25. This past weekend, I ran 20 and 24 mile back-to-backs with UCAN pre-workout, and again, felt sustained energy. As a first impression, I am impressed with UCAN and very excited to continue using the product.
|Mt. Diablo from Vollmer Peak|
Although Vitargo is also a super-starch, it appears to be quite different compared to UCAN. Vitargo claims to be absorbed much faster than typical maltodextrin gels, which allows you to consume more calories in a given period or time. This rapid absorption may help reduce the calorie deficit in long ultras (compared to standard gels and sport drinks), and also allow for quicker restoration of glycogen stores as a post-run recovery mix. After each of my back-to-back long runs, I immediately took one serving of Vitargo. Again, my first impression is very positive, and my legs felt really good, almost no soreness in the days after the long back-to-backs. I definitely noticed a substantial improvement from when I did not take anything designed for recovery. I almost always take Mondays off from running, but even after 44 and 50 mile weekends, I felt I could run, albeit not very hard, and actually, wanted to. I only took one serving of Vitargo, but the packages claims you can take up to three.
|East Bay from Mt. Tam summit|
My initial experience with these super-starches, UCAN and Vitargo, has been very positive. I have bought a few single serving packets to see if I like the products and to try the different flavors. This way, I avoid spending a lot of money on a huge tub of product I don't want. So if you are interested, I highly recommend purchasing the single serving packets to see how they work for you. As a disclaimer, I am in no way sponsored or affiliated with any of these nutrition products, and I am just reporting my limited knowledge on the subject from online sources and experience.
I will post again before Boston to provide a training update and my specific plans for the race!
A few more photos for good measure!
|Northern Tam summit view|