So it has begun. The time of the year when everyone gets back on the road and trails to push and train for the plethora of running festivities in the fall. I for one, have not missed this and am back on the training regiment. After my 50 miler at the end of April, I stuck to strength training and not much cardio during the month of May. The one thing I realized during that time was that when I did go for a jog, I felt stronger and faster.
This has led me to start an aggressive marathon training plan. If I can push myself, and really stick to a plan, I can attain a sub 3:00 time, a full 60 minutes faster than my current marathon time. Speed is where I lack because, honestly, I have reached a point where my endurance has allowed me to go for 50+ miles in a day, which is in itself amazing but at the same time I can only cruise at a jogging pace. So this is the summer of speed strengthening so that I can finally PR in a landslide at my marathon time but also so the next time I run a 50 I can cut my time by 3 hours instead of 30 minutes.
So how am I doing this? I am sticking to the Asics 3:00 Marathon Training Plan. I used to mentally layout my training plans which were nice because they were flexible. Though this time around, I need something a bit more rigid and visual, and the pre-populated training plan provides that for me. I have also taken the act of using marker to write out my run for the day on the inside of my forearm, so that when I check my Epson GPS for time I can visually see where I am at.
Some of this is probably very elementary to most runners, but I am gunning for the next level in my running career and even though it is elementary, I need to learn and implement the practices that work. Unfortunately, the increase of summer projects and other summer activities have made it slightly difficult for me to stick to the plan. Although I am missing the longer runs, which I am fine with, I am complying with the various speed workouts that the plan outlines. So even though my mileage per week is low, I feel that with the increase of a more focused track type workouts I will attain that speed.
I find that I can easily finish these races but I keep running away from actually writing this post. Writing can't be that hard. I did finish though! Amazingly fun course, perfect weather, awesome race organizers and crew, inspiring runners, and of course a new 50 mile PR.
I am just going to run through the day. We camped out the night before, where we made friends with the local raccoons. Morning of it was light drizzle, dark, and mid 40's. When we toed the line I just felt a shear awesome feeling that I was going to have for the next couple of hours as I embarked on a journey.
Throughout the run I met so many awesome and incredible people from all walks of life. I ran the first 10 miles with a teacher from Vermont, another 5 miles I ran with a guy from North Carolina who just got into Boston, another 5 miles I started pacing the current 1st place runner of the 100 mile race who turned out to be a really inspirational man from Seattle, another 2 miles I got passed by who I found out later was the first place runner for the 100k, and the last 15 I ran and finished with a lady from Indiana who was running her first 50 miler.
That is the thing with these races and really the whole running community. Everyone is out, no matter the weather, ready to sweat and push themselves. Then you have a wide range of people from different walks of life that no matter who you are, you are welcome on the course. Even though it is an individual sport, it is very much so a community sport.
They have moved the race date for the Indiana 100 to the fall for the following years, however the course is fast and rolling and I if you find yourself in Indiana I recommend you try the race or visit.
Well here we are. Only 6 days until my 50 in good ol' Albion Indiana for the Indiana 100. Although I am only doing half of the event, I am glad I am venturing outside DC. My family is coming out to help crew for me and frankly, it is a good excuse to go camping!
I haven't been too active with these posts lately but I will summarize the past couple of months: eating, lifting, road running, and not nearly as much trail training as I hoped. The weather has cleared up and with spring here, it has drastically altered my outlook on training.
Last week, I was feeling a bit anxious about the run since my training has not been 100% but I have realized a few things recently:
I by no means am going to place 1st in the event, but I am really going to enjoy the run. Heck, it's an adventure and the only one stopping me is myself. It's the mental game that I most look forward to. How will I overcome the distance, the pressure of the environment, and the effects of prolonged exhaustion. This is where it is at.
I will take some pictures, maybe a video or two of the race and post them here in the coming weeks. If you are curious, you can track me HERE. I also can't wait to try out these awesome Salomon trail shoes, love the neon yellow!
This post is not running related per say, but I wanted to write this up because it was quite a surprise. As with most people in the big city, I do in fact live with roommates. A couple weekends ago I was eating a snack on the couch and one of my roommates, Jasmine, popped out of the kitchen and said "Hey Dan, I put the drawing I did of you on my website". And it isn't too bad: jisforjasmine.com/2017/02/27/d-is-for-dan/
Now, this drawing was a couple weeks back. I was just warming up food in the kitchen in a hoodie with all the roommates and Jasmine was just sketching something in the corner. I didn't really pay too much attention to it at the time. But lo and behold the sketch is actually pretty good and captures my really boring quotes. And by "watching tv" I really mean watching "The Expanse" because that is the most incredibly awesome show out there right now. It is a must watch.
Jasmine does a lot of other art pieces and most of her work can be found on her website: jisforjasmine.com
What's Going On?
Probably the worst part of living in the mid-Atlantic is the weather inconsistency. One day it could be bright sunny 50+ degrees and the next it will snowing. The winter here in DC has been just that and as a guy who prefers consistency and regularity of weather, my training as been thrown off.
My typical training has been equal parts running, lifting, and eating. However, with the inconsistent weather patterns my drive to get my mileage in has decreased. As a result, I have been increasing my strength training to compensate for less running. If I do get a run in, it is at least 6 miles and even this maxing at 42 miles a week I am in no means adequately prepared for the 100 miler in April.
I have not thrown in the towel though. I have transferred my registration to the 50 mile version of the same race as I really want to experience the Indiana 100 course and I have previous experience with the 50 mile distance. The race staff have been incredibly understanding and I am grateful that they have allowed me to transfer my registration to the shorter distance.
What's the Point?
So what is the takeaway here? Well, I think the lesson is that we can push ourselves and dream large but when the time comes you have to be able to take stock in how much more you can push yourself. Sure, I could still run the 100 and most likely have finished, but I would not enjoy it nearly as much as if I fully trained for it. On the other hand, with the 50 I have experience and I know my body can hit that distance on the type of training that I have attained so far.
Moral of the story. Take stock in where you are at and if you will have to push 200% then it probably isn't the safest, but when you can probably push 110-120% then it is probably a safe bet. In the end, this is all about me challenging myself physically and mentally and I hope to finish a 100 one day but that day is not today.
After successful completion of The North Face 50 Miler here in Washington, DC earlier this year I realized the pure resiliency of the human body. As a result, though my body was depleted, both mentally and physically, I wanted to see how much further I could go, so I signed up for the Indiana 100. Somewhat removed from Washington, DC but is familiar to me. I have family and friends that can quickly get to the course which would be nice as it is my first 100. Better to have more support and crew than necessary.
The race takes place at the end of April 2017 so that gives me about 4 months of training. I have just recently put my running shoes back on after taking a nice little hiatus after New York and it appears I still have a solid base. Over the next couple of months I will partake in cold weather trail training as well as strength training while tailoring my nutrition to be healthier.
Along the road I will periodically add blog posts, most likely every month, detailing my progress and how I am feeling. I learned alot from training for The North Face 50 and I will be taking my experiences and lessons learned to hopefully have an exceptional first 100.
I did it! I completed back to back marathons. It is probably not the greatest idea to push your body to this extent over a short period of time but it was sure worth it.
New York was, although the same as any other marathon, quite a different beast. Who knew that I would walk a half marathon the day before just getting to the expo center, picking up my bib, and getting to my hotel. That alone threw me off, not even counting the interesting timeline the day of the race. I came to run New York to write it off my bucket list. It is one of the larger races in the world and it is an honor to be a part of it. If I could PR, that would be awesome, otherwise I am content just having a fun run. Spoiler: It was my slowest marathon time.
This run was everything that I haven't prepared myself for, other than the 26.2 miles, and many people ought to know what the run entails. Typically you get to the race maybe an hour or so before the official start so by the time you get through security and prepared you have 10-15 minutes to spare. To get into the mental zone. Typically, at least runs I enjoy, are curving with turns and cut backs where you can't see more than half mile ahead. Typically, there are sections where it is quiet. And finally there are typically sections of the run where the runners get thinned out. New York was not like this.
Firstly, I made the mistake of getting to the start line as I usually do. That's a no no, because I ended up waiting around for 2+ hours in the windy cold of Staten Island due to some travel time miscalculation. That is a serious motivation zapper. Secondly, this run was literally straight lines of miles. I understand it is New York and it is The City, but I suppose I am so used to trail running and suburban running that the mentality of seeing literally 2 miles of runners ahead of you is quite an eye opener. This really zapped me at the half-marathon point. Lastly, at no point during the course was there any thinning out of the pack. This was frankly amazing. It was jam packed basically elbow to elbow the whole way to the finish. Looking ahead you see miles of runners and looking behind you see miles of runners.
At the half-marathon, my motivation got zapped. It was combination of my mental fortitude of "when is the turn?" and "does this ever end?". Two statements you never want to go through your mind when you are running. I think the reason my mental fortitude broke down was that the course was so straight, which I am not used to. I enjoy and train on trails with the curves. Additionally, on the trails you can "zone out" quite easily. But with the constant running population and non-stop cheering, it was extremely hard to "zone out".
If you are thinking of running New York. Go for it. It really was quite an amazing and remarkable race through the greatest city in the world and amazing how so many people of various ethnic and culture backgrounds came out to cheer the multinational running population. I ran into folks from the Netherlands, Mexico, Germany, and Australia. But bear in mind that if you are partial to the trails, this course is quite different and if you have the ability to super meditate to build up your mental strength before the race, you ought to. It will really help.
All in all, I finished. I don't think I will run New York again. However, I am glad I ran the course and am happy to report that I ran with 50,000 of my closest friends. And with that, another one in the books.
Ever since my debut 50 miler at the North Face Endurance Challenge this past April, I have been itching to get back to run the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) again. The MCM is an extremely exciting course with twists and turns and is not entirely overwhelming. You have the ability to zone out and meander through our nations capital. So the week leading up to MCM the last Sunday of October this year I kicked up my tapering, prepared my marathon strategy, and upped my cross training at the gym.
This year was much different from last year. My parents came out to visit me and cheer me on at the race, found more appropriate running shoes, and more dedication to cross training the week of. Usually for longer runs I have became reliant on my camelbak however I wanted to wean myself off it to see if it will lead to a faster time due to reduced weight. The night before came and I faced a big decision. Marathon day here in DC was to approach the mid 70s. Obviously one who is extremely concerned with hydration I decided to stick to the use of my camelbak to ensure adequate hydration. I just can't run as effectively without it in the heat.
Day of. After a mix up of getting to the start line, honestly getting lost and stuck on the course, I finally made my way to the start. It was a beautiful day and just like last year the start ceremony was awesome filled with Marines, a flyover by Ospreys, and 20,000 of my closest friends.
I was keeping a good pace, on track to hit a massive personal best on the course and a personal record, yet the heat racked up in the past hour and it was now hovering around 70 at mile 20 which drastically slowed me down. Regardless, I was chugging along better than last year where I got a massive charlie horse in my left quad at mile 20. This year was just the heat, not as bad but just enough of a running hindrance.
Some time later I crossed the finish, setting a personal best for the course and personal record by shaving 20+ minutes off my time. Although I certainly am not a super fast runner I am extremely happy that I was able to finish with a faster time on this awesome course.
If you have not considered running the MCM here in Washington, DC you certainly should. It is a beautiful course and the atmosphere is filled with patriotism and pride in our military, specifically the Marine Corps. This is one race I will run again and again for the forceable future.