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5ksandcabernets: When a 24-mile workout is not good enough.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

When a 24-mile workout is not good enough.

First the good news....

*I was at or better than marathon pace for each of the 11 miles that the 27-mile workout called for, which included two miles on the track after we'd already run 20 miles.

*I've been nursing a sore left calf/soleus muscle for the past few weeks and it did not give me one problem.

*I lived to write a blog post about this workout.

And now the bad news

*I only completed 24 miles of the scheduled 27-mile workout.

*Major cramping started setting in around Mile 22 and by the end of Mile 23, I was in full rigor. I was 3 minutes slower than pace for Mile 24 and our coach finally made me stop.

*Even though I completed a 24-mile training run for the first time in my life, and even though it was in the low 80s at the end of this workout and we ran through some wicked hills, I am now wondering if I have the stones to Boston Qualify (3:20).

Workout synopsis.

We had what turned out to be a 1.7-mile warm-up. Then we had to run a mile around the track at 5K or better pace. I ran that mile in 6:08.

Then we had like a 2.3-mile "cool down" to sort of recover our legs/lungs from that crazy fast mile.

Then the marathon-goal portion of the workout began: 5 miles at MGP, then a 5 minute rest, then 4 miles at MGP. I really really really tried to concentrate on not going too fast during MGP. My goal pace for my key marathon is 7:40 min/mile and on Saturday I tried to keep my paces between 7:35 and 7:45.

I nailed the perfect paces on the first five miles of the MGP portion of the workout (7:40, 7:39, 7:37, 7:37, 7:29). Ok, ok. I know you see that 7:29, but that mile was mostly downhill.

Where I began to screw up is on the 4-mile portion of the MGP workout. (7:33, 7:21, 7:32, 7:19). What happened to my patience? I'm all over the place, right? And I'm too fast, especially that 7:21 and 7:19. That's almost 20 seconds faster than goal pace. During that stretch, I knew we'd have an "easy" 5-miler coming up, and I believed that my legs would be able to recover.

Boy, was I wrong. First of all, that "easy" stretch was up some of the craziest hills you'd ever wanna see in Austin. So, even though I'm running 9-plus minute miles, my legs are actually taking a beating because of all the climbing we are doing. And the downhills were so steep that you spent the whole time trying to break for fear that you were going to fall on your face. This portion of the workout just killed my quads.

Second of all, that 5-mile stretch was actually 6 miles. So, by now, we'd run 20 miles and even though we'd run a fast mile on the track, 9 miles at marathon pace, and six miles of crazy ass hills, the worst part of the workout was still to come.

The hill portion of the workout ended with us at the track for 6 miles. We had to run the first two miles (8 laps) at marathon pace, the second two miles at half marathon pace, and the last two miles at 10k pace.

I wasn't too jazzed about having to run 24 laps around the track, but I took off. Some of the Team Rogue runners who were not running/injured/finished already played the role of cheerleader or helped give out water on the course. (Thanks especially to Ruth _ she is one of the coaches, and to Mike, who took me up on my idea to bring a spatula to the course to scrape the corpses (and there were plenty of us) off the track.)

My first two miles were a little fast (7:34, 7:31). At this point, however, I'm happy that I've run 22 miles and been at or better than pace for each of the key miles. I'm even more psyched because my hamstrings started cramping in the middle of Mile 22, but I held the cramps off to run that 7:31. The rest of the workout, I figure, is just gravy. I settle in for Miles 23 and 24, which I was going to try to run at 7:20 pace.

I hit Mile 23 in 7:22 pace. I stop for water and my legs decide they've had enough. The inside of my right quad, my dominant leg, balls up and forces me to stop and try to stretch things out. This is the same kind of cramping I usually have at Mile 16 or 17 of my marathons. The cramp eases just a little bit and I'm able to do a lap around the track. Then my left quad starts to seize and I try to work that cramp out and run another two laps. Then my calf starts cramping, and by now, I know I don't have much left. My pace has slowed so much that my lungs and heart were fresh and ready to go, but my legs are just not happy.

I get through Mile 24 in 9:45 and then try to gut out the last two miles (8 laps). I did 1 1/2 more laps before the coach saw my haggard looking gimp-limp and made me stop.

What I'd do different....

*Though I'm getting better about pace, I still have work to do. The two miles where I was 20 seconds faster than MGP are just absolutely unacceptable. I'll crash and burn if I do anything like that during the first 20 miles of the marathon.

*My nutrition, I thought, was perfect. I got up at 3 a.m. for the 5:30 a.m. run and had a bowl of dry cereal and some coffee with cream (probably should not have had dairy creamer, though). I took a GU at Miles 5, 10, 14, 17, and 20. Where I could have done better was my salt intake. During all of my training runs, I usually take two thermolyte tablets at Mile 4, then every 5 to 6 miles after that. On Saturday, I got screwed up on where the water stops were and didn't take my first salt tablets until Mile 10. And I could tell the difference. My legs felt real tight for much of the run - I just could never get lose. And the salt I took after that was not enough to undo the harm I'd done to myself in this 80-degree weather for the first 10 miles.

*I'd bring more salt on the run. I took 8 tablets. I took my last two before the beginning of the final track-portion of the workout. If I had brought more salt, I would have stopped after Mile 22, taken salt and proceeded. Maybe I could have finished the workout,and maybe not. But I'll never know.

*Start stretching earlier. When I first felt the cramps coming on, somewhere around Mile 22, I should have stopped and done my stretches for my quads and calves. I waited until after Mile 23 and by then, it was too late. I tried stretching my right quad by pulling my leg back to my butt and it just made things worse and so the stretch I did was an incomplete one.

Where this run leaves my frame of mind....

*Scared shitless. The marathon is on Oct. 4. And yeah, it is going to be in Portland with much favorable weather, and yeah, the course is going to be flat, but cramping the way I did is a little worrisome.

Still, I ran 24 miles. I keep saying that to myself over and over. I ran 24 miles and the total time was 3:17 with the average pace being 8:13 min/mile. If the marathon had been today, I would have PR'd by more than 15 minutes.

But the marathon wasn't today.And if I want to go to Boston, I need to PR by more than 30 minutes.

I've got a lot of work to do.



Blogger Phil said...

You did great Kevin. You are psyching yourself out. 20 seconds faster than MGP isn't that bad. Don't run every mile like that, but one or two won't hurt. If I could guess, starting your run with a 6:08 mile is what did you in at the end - that's not what the marathon will be like. Take the salt early, you need it before you start feeling the cramps. Portland will be flat and cool with crowds cheering you. You'll have no trouble at all hitting 3:20.

August 29, 2009 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Sadie J said...

Props to you for being so consistent on the 5@MGP. And you see that the next 4 miles were probably one of the factors that hurt you in the end. Of everything, the salt is likely what got you. With the right salt intake, it looks like you could have finished all six track miles at MGP, if not at the HMGP or 10k paces.

I think you did great considering. Your miles on the track were could have even been slower. Cramping sucks, but that is something you can control better outside of the hot conditions and with a good race nutrition plan.

You are doing great and don't think your run was not a success. You did many things well and learned a lot from the things you didn't. Good on you!

You have the stones for Portland. You are going to run well. No doubts here.

August 29, 2009 at 3:28 PM  
OpenID austinmetronome said...

Getting your BQ should be a breeze. You had quite a few
miles at almost 10 seconds a mile faster than MGP (I'm not looking at the 2 that were 20 over). With that in mind this wokouts would be impossible to nail the track portion (my opinion). If you can keep under control till mile 18 to 20 in the race you're golden ... and remember negative split. You totally have it in you, it's a matter of the right race plan and executing to it.

August 29, 2009 at 4:13 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

That workout is practically a race in itself. Hope you're recovering well. The nice thing is that few marathons will have hills as bad as Austin, so I think you will surprise yourself in the race.

August 30, 2009 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Allison2 said...

be careful about stretching your quads during long runs...they are probably stretched out already (or they are for most people). Try jostling the muscles instead (grab quads, shake muscle), or do a loose fist tapotement (make fists, not clenched, pound lightly on your quads).

August 31, 2009 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger lindsay said...

i wouldn't beat myself up if i were you. 24 miles is still quite the long run and you had a lot of quality miles mixed in.

think about it, you never ran 24 miles in previous training, and i doubt you did your long runs with as much quality work as you are now. i'd still aim for that 3:20, just beat into your head to be patient (like you said)!

August 31, 2009 at 10:33 AM  

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