Saturday, May 16, 2009

The road to Belgrade

So, after a difficult race at MCM followed by a spectacular experience at CIM I realized a lot of what went right and wrong had to do with being able to control my pre-race situation.  For CIM, I was viewing the race as a throw away and changed just about everything possible to help me run a fast marathon.  The good news is that it all worked!  The bad news for me was that I knew I wouldn't have the ability to control my situation in Belgrade and I had to accept that.  
I work with a fantastic coach, Nicole Hunt, who designed a great training plan for me.  When we were working on my training plan prior to Belgrade, I told Nicole that I didn't expect to PR in Belgrade mainly because of all of the unknowns associated with traveling and racing in a foreign country.  I wanted this bout of training to push the envelope for me in terms of volume and intensity.  I wanted to really push myself as a training stimulus for a shot at the Olympic trails qualifying standard in October 2009 at the Twin Cities Marathon (TCM).  

As it turned out, I had another spectacular 3-4 months of training leading up to Belgrade.  My training went flawlessly and I was consistently pushing the upper limits of my pace ranges in workouts.  I exceeded all of my expectations and set personal records at all distances from 5k to the half marathon.  

I also tried some new things in my training.  As I mentioned above, I wanted to jack up my mileage this time around to prepare for even higher mileage in my prep for TCM.  My weekly mileage was as follows with long run mileage noted next to it.

Week 1 32/10
Week 2  56/13 
Week 3  62/13
Week 4  70/16+4  
Week 5  74/20
Week 6  80/16+4
Week 7  90/20 
Week 8  74/20 
Week 9  87/16+5 
Week 10 100/23
Week 11 66/16 
Week 12 81/16+4 
Week 13 100/26
Week 14 88/18+4
Week 15 80/17
Week 16 64/12 
Week 17 43 +race

This was a substantial increase from what I had done before.  As a matter of fact, I calculated my average weekly mileage for 2008 and it was around 56 mpw.  I, of course, average a lot higher during my build up for a marathon and then take the week after a marathon off completely.  I was actually surprised at how low that number was and realized I had a lot of room to grow.

In addition to overall mileage, during this training cycle I ran 23 days of 16+ miles per day either in one run or as a two-a-day but ran only 5, 20+ milers.  I also asked Nicole to throw in a marathon-length training run thinking that perhaps my running the Marine Corps Marathon prior to CIM may have been a good training stimulus contributing to my success there.   

Although I was completely pleased with the results, I did learn some les
sons.  I became a little worn down by the end of the training cycle.  I believe this was because I was trying to fit too much in.  I had a 4-week period in there where the first weekend, I got lost on Santa Cruz Island and ended up running a super hilly 10 miler with 1600+ feet of elevation gain.  More importantly it had 1600+ feet of downhill that trashed my quads for 5 days (elevation profile pictured above).  The following weekend was a half marathon race where I had a fantastic race running a 4 minute PR coming in at 1:19:45.  The weekend after that I did my 26.22 mile training run and pwned it, running the whole thing in 2:59:56.  The following weekend was a 10k race that I needed to do to keep up my point count in a local age-graded series.  I ran a 2-minute PR there and followed it up with a goal marathon paced workout totaling 22 miles for the day.

That was too much.  I felt a little burned out, but of course very pleased with all of the PRs and great training runs.  I felt ready for Belgrade.


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