Thursday, September 29, 2016

My 2016 Chicago Marathon Training - By the Numbers

After wrapping up my miles for the week, I have officially finished "training" for the Chicago Marathon. With less than ten days remaining until the race, all runs from here on out are "just-keep-the-legs-fresh" type of runs. My fitness is 100% locked in now and no workout, no matter how difficult, is going to improve things enough to push that number to 101%.

I thought it would be interesting to see how my training for the Chicago Marathon compares with my training earlier this year in preparation for the Carmel Marathon (3:00:20). Here is a comparison of cumulative mileage over both 20 week cycles:
I ran 547 more training miles for the Chicago Marathon (1,607) versus the
training miles for Carmel (1,060) - over 50% more miles. This is by far the most I've ever trained for a single race. 

Some more stats:

Training By the Numbers: 2016 Chicago Marathon vs. 2016 Carmel Marathon

Chicago 10/9/16 Carmel 4/20/16
20 Week Mileage Total1607 1060
Average Weekly Mileage
Number of Runs in 20 weeks211
Number of 80+ Mile Weeks14 0
Number of 50 to 79 Mile Weeks6 14
Number of Weeks Less Than 50 Miles0 6
Last Race Before MarathonOui Run 5k Shamrock Shuffle 8k
 Last Race Finishing Time/Marathon Equivalent Time17:54/2:54:25 29:11/2:52:34
 Actual Finishing Time?? 3:00:20

The predicted marathon equivalent time for Carmel was (surprisingly) almost a full two minutes faster than what is predicted for Chicago (2:54 vs 2:52). Why does the last race before Carmel appear to be so much "faster"? There could be a few reasons for this:
  1. I wasn't racing the Oui 5k as hard as I was the Shamrock Shuffle
  2. Since my mileage was higher in the weeks before the Oui Run 5k, I had less of a "taper" than I did for the Shamrock
  3. I had a lot more cumulative fatigue going into the Oui Run (i.e. more miles = heavier legs)
  4. Race temps were more favorable for the Shamrock
No matter what the reasons, I'll take a gander that a 2:54 marathon time with an average weekly base of 80.4 miles is a more accurate prediction than a predicted 2:52 supported by an average base of 50.3 miles/week. Therein may be the problem with my frustration in predicting marathon times using shorter distances. Marathons demand a higher base mileage so you can "hold pace" from mile 20 through mile 26.2. I can always count on race day adrenaline and leg speed carry the day for races 13.1 miles or less. However, the adrenaline in a marathon wears off for me after mile 18 or 20 and I need to "fall back" on my base mileage for the remaining handful of miles. Yes, a 50 mile training base can let me run a decent and even marathon pace for 20 miles, but then things start gradually slipping away. For Chicago '16 I'm putting my chips on the fact that my volume will allow me to hold onto that adrenaline fueled pace for the remaining 6.2 miles.

We shall see....

Monday, September 26, 2016

Oui Run 5k Race Recap

I'm in the middle of my four week Chicago Marathon taper and I normally like to reserve my tapers solely for rest and recovery. However, I couldn't pass up running the inaugural "Oui Run 5k" during my taper since it was taking place so close to my house. Besides - I figured running a 5k during this time frame would not only inject some life into my tired legs, but at the same time it would be a confidence boost if I could run a 5k in a sub three hour marathon equivalent time (sub 18:28) heading into October.

Over the last two months I have pretty much run all slow, marathon training type miles and not anything near the speedy miles that a 5k demands. In fact, I hadn't run a fast (i.e. sub 6:00) mile since the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in July. Would I be able to run three in a row at this race?

After walking the dog, I ran a 5.3 mile shakeout run. Then I got my dad and we ran another mile over to the race. Once there I ran around the block and used the facilities which surprisingly had no lines.

The Race:
The Oui Run 5k starts and finishes on the campus of the Lycée Français de Chicago on Wilson where the students speak French all day in each of their classes.

"Oui Run" Start (I'm on the right side of the middle pylon) (src)
Lining up at the start line, French was essentially the only language I heard as I was packed in with the students from the school. It was strange to hear so many American kids speaking to each other in French. I sensed a lot of excitement in their voices as pretty much everyone knew each other and were anxious to tear down the street and race right in front of their school. I stepped forward right behind the line and then the race director sounded the horn and we were off!

Mile 1:
So many kids shot out in front of me at a 5:00/mile pace that I intentionally sped up so I didn't get passed by too many more. I knew it was foolish for me to start so fast, but I really don't like getting boxed in by runners who had gone out too fast. After the initial mayhem, I wove my way up to about sixth place by the half mile mark. As I settled in behind the runners ahead of me, I started to evaluate my competition. The fourth and fifth place runners were wearing headphones, so I immediately took them off of my mental list of those that would be competitive and passed them with confidence. I tucked in behind the second and third place guys, and as I glanced at my Garmin, I noticed that we were actually starting to slow down ever so slightly. This was a good sign for me, as I knew I could easily hold my current pace for another two and a half miles and that they were already slightly fading. I passed them and was soon in 2nd place. The lead runner was still out in front of me as we passed the "Mile 1" marker in Lincoln Square and we headed east on Lawrence. 5:46/mile.

Mile 2:
As the first place runner and I began to head eastward on Lawrence, I decided to make my move to get into first place. I stepped on the gas and slowly passed him. He sped up to match my surge, but when I noticed this, I poured on even more speed. Suddenly I was leading the race all by myself! I then tucked in behind the four bike escorts. Since I occasionally like to chase after bikes as a fartlek exercise on the Lakefront Trail, I locked my gaze on their rear tires and started to fly along with them, just like I was running on the trail. As we headed south on Ravenswood Avenue, a car from the east started to make its way onto the course. One of the lead bikers sounded a really loud horn and chased the car down and got it to turn around. He rejoined the other bikers soon thereafter. Whew! Most of the volunteers along the course were shouting encouragement in French: "Allez Allez!" 5:36/mile.

Mile 3:
Once I had established the lead - the pressure was on to not relinquish it. Not knowing how far ahead I was, and not wanting to look backwards, I mentally timed how many seconds it took for spectators who cheered for me to once again start cheering for the second place runner. At first it was a few seconds, but as I kept up a fast pace, eventually I could no longer hear cheers for the second place runner behind me. Since I hadn't run a sub-6:00 mile in over two months and was in the middle of my third consecutive one - my lungs started to feel the strain! However, my legs felt great and I knew I could at least hold on to my pace until the finish. 5:46/mile.
Making the final turn (src)
No one behind me (src)
Starting to raise my arms (src)
Mile 3.1
Still by myself, I made the final turn back to the campus and saw the finish line ahead. I poured on what remaining speed I had because I didn't want someone to come out of nowhere to challenge me. Before I crossed the finish line, the announcer said, "there is no one behind you at all!" and "dude, were you wearing roller blades out there?" I raised my arms up and was done!  4:45/mile.
La victoire! (src)

  • Official Time: 17:54
  • Age Group: 1st out of 36
  • Overall: 1st out of 559
Second fastest 5k ever and the third time I've ever won a race in my life. 10 seconds per mile faster than plan, but I'll take it, especially since I won the race. I think the mid-race surge to take the lead explains my (somewhat) uneven splits. In any case, so much for worrying about how slow my "marathon legs" had become! 

Post Race:
The race director ran over to congratulate me and to make sure I was okay. After telling him I was fine, I grabbed a banana and Gatorade and watched a few runners cross the finish line before I headed back out onto the course to run with my dad. I caught up with him and ran with him to the finish.

We had to wait about an hour before the awards ceremony due to the three kids races that were being held after the 5k. So we enjoyed some of the post-race goodies which included french pastries, ham and cheese baguette sandwiches and cold foamy espresso on tap! Finally the ceremony started and they called my name and I accepted my medal on the stage. My prizes included a free entry to the 2017 Shamrock Shuffle, a gift certificate to a running store and a three month pass to the local gym! 
Accepting my Medal
My dad won his age group and got his medal on the stage as well. After he got his award we walked home. 

It was fun to race a local 5k and was a great feeling to attain and actually hold onto the lead for a mile and a half for the win! However, my real goal race has always been the Chicago Marathon. My 5k time bodes well for a sub-3:00:00 marathon, but it doesn't mean I will definitely do it. Racing 26.2 miles is completely different than racing 3.1, so I need to keep that in mind when I do the conversion. Over the next 13 days I am going to focus as best I can to be rested and relaxed so I can set myself up for success on October 9th!

Next Up: Chicago Marathon in 13 days!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Oui Run 5k: Pre-Race Thoughts

Yes, you heard it correctly: I'm running a 5k on Sunday - a mere two weeks before the Chicago Marathon. Just like the Ravenswood Run which took place only one week after my PR at the Carmel Marathon, this race course winds its way through my neighborhood - hence I couldn't pass up running a race so close to home - regardless of how few days separates it from my goal race. The Oui Run 5k course not only runs along Welles Park, where I run with my dog every morning - but it also runs down the east side of Ravenswood Avenue on the Chicago Mikkeller Running Club "course".

The race is being hosted by my neighborhood French immersion school Lycèe Francais de Chicago and it starts and finishes on their campus - hence the "Oui Run" name. Anyway, it will be fantastic to actually run through more of my stomping grounds on blocked off streets.

Speaking of the course, check out this cool video:

I have 10 to 12 training miles on the docket for Sunday, so I will have a seven mile shakeout run prior to the race and then do a couple miles after for a cool-down. During the race I will try and keep my pace at around 6:00/mile. I am capable of running faster than that, but that's not the goal of this race. If I can run somewhere around 18:35 that will give me a little confidence boost for the marathon, but at the same time I'll still be respecting the fact that I'm in taper mode. That said, I will pull back on the stick if I need to. No use in overdoing it so close to my goal race just to finish a few meaningless seconds faster. In short, my main goal will be to have fun and remain healthy for the marathon. À dimanche!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Rock & Roll Half" Age Group Award

After finishing third in my age group at the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in July, I've been waiting patiently for my age group award to arrive. It finally came in the mail yesterday. I know some people were curious what an RnR "trophy" looks like so here's a picture of mine - a pretty decent sized wall plaque:

RnR Chicago 2016 AG Plaque (quarter to right)

In other news, my taper for the Chicago Marathon is on. My last big run will be my 20 miler on Sunday, then it's all easy medium and short runs until October 9th! The excitement builds...