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5ksandcabernets: January 2011


Sunday, January 30, 2011

3M Half Marathon Race Report: Too hot for a PR, but 1:32 is nothing to sneeze at

3M Half Marathon Results

A quick synopsis: I ran the first three miles about 10 seconds slower than my planned pace, then the next four miles a little faster than pace. By Mile 8, the 70-degree temp had taken its toll on my legs and all the fight out of my mind. My legs started getting a little tight, and knowing I still have a marathon to run in three weeks, I took it easy the last three miles.

So, not fast enough to qualify for New York (I needed 1:30. I wound up with 1:32:29), and not even a PR (1:31 and change on this course last year), but it's a time I'll take.

1....... 7:02
2....... 7:04
3....... 7:04
4....... 6:56
5....... 6:38 (downhill)
6....... 6:47
7....... 6:53
8....... 7:05
9....... 7:06
10..... 7:22 (stopped for water)
11..... 7:11
12..... 7:10
13..... 7:02

Kevin Lyons #3273
Austin, TX, USA
Age: 42 Gender: M
Chip Time 1:32:29
Overall Place 241 / 4515
Gender Place 200 / 1915
Division Place 27 / 311

First 10K Rank 263
First 10K Time 43:18
Final 6 9M Rank 241
Total Pace 7:04/M


Friday, January 28, 2011

Running in altitude: My lungs don't like Denver

I spent a few mornings in Denver due to a business trip. Made sure I brought my running shoes and trusty Garmin because I wanted to see what it would be like to run at altitude.

Let me say this: It didn't feel good.

On Thursday morning, I ran about 7 miles on this paved trail that runs along Speer St. in Denver's downtown district. It wasnt too cold (mid 30s), so I ran in shorts and a long sleeve technical shirt. My goal, since the entire route was basically flat, was to try to hit cruising speed (7:40s) and hold it.

I was good to be hitting 8:40s. My legs were just dead. I couldn't get any air in my lungs. And then about two miles in I had to go to the restroom in the worst way (thank God the King Sooper grocery store had a nice, clean bathroom).

They say running in altitude is a great way to train, and that eventually you get used to the thin air. But since I was only in altitude for one day, it was sucky. Sucky. Sucky.My pace for the seven miles turned out to be 8:50 min/mile, and I swear it felt like I was running harder than that.

I'm glad I'm back in Austin. I'll take our humidity and warm temps any day. At least I can breathe in them.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Taking stock: Austin Marathon training

This is from my 22-mile run Saturday, my last 20-plus mile run before the Austin Marathon. As you can see from the map, its pretty much the Austin Marathon course, and its the second time I've run this route in training, so I know where all the hills are (there are plenty!) Funny thing is that my time from Saturday (7:50 pace for the entire run) is pretty much the same time as it was two Saturday's ago (7:52 pace).

So, at least I've been consistent.

This is what I know: I can run this course. Period. No excuses. The last 8 miles are mostly downhill, and when I'm tired, downhills are my friend. The last two times I've gotten to Foster and Great Northern streets (which is mile 18 of the Austin Marathon course), I've been able to drop my pace to between 7:20 and 7:30 min/mile and hold it until the end of the long run, and that includes Saturday's run. (I know you see slower times at Mile 14 and 21 - but that's because I got held up by some traffic lights and didnt stop my Garmin).

Nutrition: It's all a go. The last two weeks, I wake up four hours before the run starts, eat a 390-calorie protein bar, down a bottle of Gator/Powerade. And that's it. I dont eat during the run. No Gu. No Gel. Just water and whatever powerade they have out on the course. Energy-wise, I've felt great in the latter stages of my last two long runs using this strategy. Tired? Yes. Hurting a little. Heck yes. But there is still something in the gas tank. And I think a good taper and carb-loading would easily carry me the last four miles.

Pacing strategy: Definitely gotta do the negative split thing. The hills from Mile 1 to 3 (south on Congress) and from 10 to 13 (north on Exposition from Town Lake to 35th St.) can take it out of you if you go out too fast.  I plan on running slower than mgp pace for the first half, then pick up the pace when we cross Mopac on the 35th St. bridge and up Shoal Creek, then pick up the pace for the final 8 miles.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Not impressed with a 2:35 Yasso 800

Did Yasso 800s today.

This is sort of a benchmark run, to determine what kind of leg turnover/potential you have to run the marathon. If you wanna run a 3:20 marathon, you need to be able to comlete 8 to 10 of these 800s in 3:20 or better. If you wanna run a 3:10 marathon, you need to be able to complete each of the intervals in 3:10 or better.

I ran 8 Yasso 800s with a two-minute rest in between each interval.

My splits of the first 7 800-meter intervals were all between 3:09 and 3:03.

I ran the last split as hard as I could and eeked out a 2:35.

So what.

I mean, I've had great track workouts before and bombed at the marathons. So, I'm really not too high about this one, though that last interval was 5 seconds faster than my previous fast 800.

But again, woop-tee-friggin-do. I think there are other workouts that determine your marathon fitness, such as long tempo runs or how you perform in a 10-mile to half-marathon race. Besides, my speed is much more developed than my aerobic capacity.

I'll only be impressed if this translates to a stellar Austin Marathon.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Austin 3M Half Marathon tune up run: Getting the nutrition right.

On Saturday (1/15) I ran 14.5 miles with the Gilbert's Gazelles gang. The first 13.1 miles were pretty much the same course that we will run the 3M Half Marathon on in two weeks. I've said here before that I plan on running that race and need 1:30 or better to qualify for the New York Marathon.

My plan was not, of course, to try to run 1:30 for the first 13 miles of this run - though somebody did yell out to me as I passed them around Mile 4 "Kevin, are you racing?" No. But I was running my pace. Getting familiar with the course, understanding when to pick up the pace and when to preserve my energy.

The course was mostly downhill, so you couldnt help but pick up the pace. Each of my last 10.5 miles were done in sub 7:15 pace, and I was sub 7:00 pace the last three miles.

Total pace for the entire run was 7:20 min/mile. And though my heart rate ticked toward 85 percent of maximum as I "droped the bomb" the last three miles, my average heart rate for he entire run was 80 percent - not even close to anerobic.

What I'm most heartened about is my nutrition. I know I need to do a better job about eating before long runs. In the past, I've tried eating one, two, and 2 1/2 hours before a long run, and felt sluggish on all those runs. This morning I tried something different: For the 6 a.m. run, I got up at 2 a.m., ate an Art's Original ProBar.

This thing has 370 calories. 18 grams of fat (including only 3 grams of saturated fat), 48 grams of carbs, 10 grams of protein and 270 mg of potassium. I chased this down with a glass of water and went back to bed.

During the run, I felt strong the entire way, no lack of energy, no brain drain.
I drank three cups of water and a swig of powerade the entire run. No GU. No salt. Nothing. I also ate tons the week leading up to this run and had a bowl of spaghetti the night before.

I'm hoping I've figured out the nutrition formula to my marathon training. I will try this equation out the next time I go 20.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Austin Marathon Training: I'm out of excuses

On Saturday, I ran 22 miles, 18 of which came on the course that the Austin Marathon will be run on - basically, from Mopac and Lake Austin Blvd. until the finish line on Congress Ave. downtown, with about four more miles added on (two at the beginning of the run and two at the end).

I took the run as an opportunity to see where the worst hills were (Exposition Boulevard) and when and where to to conserve energy and when to expend it (the final stretch down Duval, of course!)

My goal was to run the first 11 easy and then try marathon goal pace the last 11 miles.

The numbers: 8:12 pace the first 11 miles and 7:28 pace the second 11 miles. And I still had enough in the tank where I could have gone the full marathon distance if I had to - and thank God I didn't - my hips were killing me!

I feel like after this run that I have basically run out of excuses to not have a solid marathon on Feb. 20. (Unless its 70 degrees of course).

I feel like my nutrition was solid. I ate a ton the week before the run. Drank only once the whole week (aren't you guys proud that I went wine-free six out of seven days of the week?). Ate a few bites of an oatmeal protein bar and some powerrade an hour before the run, then had a GU on the way to the run. During the run, I just drank the water/gatorade they had on the course. No GU. No salt. Nothing else.

I've determined that my body just WILL. NOT. PROCESS. FOOD. during a run. I've tried all kinds of GU and gels and most of the time, they make me feel worse. Or they do not add to my energy output. And they certainly have never "saved" me late in a long run/race. And even eating that close to the run Saturday was a little tricky. I felt very sluggish the first five or six miles. Heavy. Nothing like the energy I have for my 8 to 10 mile runs during the week - when I don't eat anything before or during my workout.

I still think I can do better about the nutrition issue. Eating two or even three hours before the run would be more ideal. (But when my iPhone alarm went off at 4 am Saturday, I decided I needed more sleep than calories.) I can also make sure I eat more during the week, carb up as much as possible. I bought two boxes of my favorite cereal to work with me Monday. Each box has 7 servings and 31 grams of carbs per serving. If I eat two boxes a week, that's 410 carbs on top of all the eating I do everyday anyway. (Getting kinda sick just thinking about it - but, hey, a marathoner has to do what a marathoner has to do).

The Big Day is still about six weeks away. That leaves plenty of time to fine tune a nutrition plan. A race plan.

And a head plan.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Brooks Launch and Adidas Boston: The shoes for me

I've written here many times about how I can't seem to figure out a shoe I want to run in.
Well, I think I've finally finally finally found the shoes for me. Lately, I've been running in Brooks Launch and Adidas Boston's.
I have come to love both shoes and they serve different purposes. The Adidas Boston's are very lightweight and very responsive. When you put these shoes on, your hips better be ready to handle the quick leg turnover. These shoes are fast. Fast. Fast.
You may want to buy this shoe at a size or two larger than your other running shoes. Adidas makes this shoe very narrow and I got blisters on the end of my toes until I wised up and bought a bigger pair. And now, with the bigger shoe, I've not had any problems.
And I wouldnt recommend wearing this as an everyday trainer. There is little cushioning in this shoe and on runs lasting more than 90 minutes, your legs can kind of get beat up a little bit.
Of course, I didn't figure this out until recently, as I ran in the Bostons all last summer and wore them in my Chicago Marathon. Around the first of December, I noticed that the nagging leg/abductor injury I'd been nursing for much of summer still hadnt gone away and figured the soreness/pain was because my legs were just beat up from running in the Bostons so much.
Anyways, I ran into the Austin Luke's Locker off Lamar and a nice salesman named Richard set me up with a pair of the Brooks Launch. Now, as I've written here often, I grew up on Brooks, ran each of my first six marathons in the Brooks Adrenalines, which are as responsive as the Bostons. The Brooks Launch, though, were a little more cushiony than the Adrenalines and the Bostons. I worried a little about whether I'd like the cushiony feel. I mean, I'm used to putting my foot on the ground and taking off. Instantly.
And I'll admit, the first few runs in the Launch felt weird, like I was running in quicksand. But my feet and brain have synced up and the soft-landing in the Launches has actually been good for me. My leg soreness is slowing going away, and I've already put a 16-, 18-, and 20-miler on these shoes and they've held up.
So, right now I am rotating the shoes. For tempo, track work and short races, I'm wearing the Adidas Bostons. For long runs, recovery runs, and other easy workouts, I'm wearing the Brooks Launch.
Soon, I'll have to make a decision about which shoe to run the Austin Marathon.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Trying to hold a 6:50 pace on hills: Its doable.

Still plan on breaking down why I struggle in marathons with a later post, but figured today I'd take a detour and tell you about my plan to try and qualify for the New York City Marathon in November.

New York lets you qualify based on your half-marathon time. For me that means a 1:30 (6:52 pace). In 2009, I ran 1:31 at Austin's 3M Half Marathon and then 1:32 a few weeks later at the Austin Half Marathon.
So, I'm close.

On Mondays twice a month, a group of us from Gilbert's Gazelles run tempo/mgp up and down Exposition Boulevard, from Barton Springs to I-35 and back. This is a very hilly section of the course that is used for the Austin Marathon yearly. I like these runs because its the hardest part of the marathon and figure it will give me the confidence on race day.

We did about a 1.5-mile warmup, then six miles at a comfortably hard pace, followed by a 1.5-mile cooldown.

My paces for the comfortably hard portion:

7:29 - Just getting warmed up.
7:09 - I'm warm, but hating the hills.
6:54 - Feeling a groove, and halfway done.
6:51 - Staying on pace and my breathing is fine.
6:34 - Found myself chasing a guy in front of me. He wouldn't slow down. So I didn't.
6:15 - Might as well pass the guy.

Ok, things got a little competitive at the end, which they always do on these runs. My heart rate (yep, started wearing my heart rate monitor again) hovered between 86 and 88 percent of maximum for the first five miles of the run and then skied to about 90 percent for the last mile. That's just a little slower than my 5k pace, so I know I wont be running that fast at either the half marathon or the marathon.


Things felt really comfortable around the 6:50 m/mile pace range. My breathing was good and I could talk. My legs felt strong. So i hope to keep this pace for the Austin 3M Half Marathon in a few weeks, which would easily help me qualify for New York.

Again, I'm not at all surprised I could keep this pace. My aim, of course, is to be able to have this kind of energy when its time to run a marathon. And right now, I'm still working on my aim.