Ryan's Marathon Training Blog - Part Deux

Monday, October 23, 2006

Running Down Our Dreams

Hi, welcome to my blog. Yes, I am redirecting you away from this temporary blog back to my original blog. I had to move away from this blog temporarily until blogger beta fixed the commenting bugs, which is now resolved.

My newly updated blog is back up and running and the link is below. Please visit to read my Chicago Marathon race report!

Running Down Our Dreams

Sunday, October 22, 2006

BOSTON BOUND! Marathon PR: 3:10:04

Today, I accomplished my goal. I qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time at the Chicago Marathon of 3:10:04. I ran a positive split of 41 seconds.

It was a phenomenal experience. It hurt like hell at the end; as I knew it would, but I did it. I held on for dear life. My last 2.2 miles were my fastest.

My friend Steve accomplished his goal as well to run under 3:00. In fact, he shattered is planned time by running a 2:57!

I am exhausted and need to go to sleep now. More later. Hope everyone's marathon experience today was a positive one.

BEFORE... a mere marathoner

AFTER... a Boston qualifed Marathoner

And after.... celebrating with my wife, Jennifer in front of the Buckingham Fountain -- with my mylar turban, as I was freezing my arse off.

By the way, I was able to take care of some itinerary planning for this coming April...

Dear Ryan:
Your entry for the 111th Boston Marathon has been received, and your credit card has been authorized for payment in the amount of US $101.00. Your credit card will not be charged until your entry has been verified and accepted.
Please make note of your Submission ID #: 7005171.
You will be notified of your acceptance by email and first class mail. Your notification of acceptance will be sent as soon as we verify your official results from your qualifying marathon. When you are accepted, your name will be posted on the "2007 Boston Marathon" pages of the B.A.A. web site,
www.baa.org, under "Entrants."
Please contact the B.A.A. registration office at
508-435-6905 (or send an email to
registration@baa.org) with any questions regarding your entry.
We look forward to your participation on race day!
Boston Athletic Association

Friday, October 20, 2006

Pre-marathon reflection - 34 hours to go

It's Friday night before marathon Sunday. I am ready for bed. Not much new to report. I am ready. Did an easy 4.25 miles yesterday. Going to do a steady, slow 3+ miles tomorrow.

The time has come to see if I have prepared myself a rite into Boston. It's going to be close. But, psychologically, I am there.

Reflection on some KPI's of my ability to run a 3:10.

- Steady adherence to the Pfitzinger 18-week 55mpw plan
- 5k race in June: 19:32 - hung over and in high heat/humidity - could take off at least 10 sec's
- Four 20-mile runs: one just shy of marathon goal pace, one 19-mile run and one 18-mile runs
- Chicago Distance Classic Half marathon in August - 1:30:24
- All out mile - 1.5 weeks ago: 5:36
- 400m repeats workout - did 12 repeats at 1:23 avg with 45-sec rest in btw
- Yasso repeat workout: Ten 800m repeats of 3:04 avg w/2 min rest
- LT training - I think LT is around 6:50

All right, enough justifying my efforts to chase a BQ. I've developed the aerobic capacity needed. I've put the right training in. I can do this. I just need go out there and get it done.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Excitement is building - 4 days to go - My itinerary

After yesterday's 6 mile recovery run yesterday, Pfitz said I should put in a dress rehearsal 7-miler w/2 miles race pace at lunch today.

I dunno, I think I am ready. That's all I can say. I wasn't sure if my HR was supposed be as high as it was during the race pace miles, but I think it was wind and incline impacting it. Maybe it's nerves.

I'm not even going to comment on the weather forecast. What can we do. Nothing.

Here is the draft agenda for the weekend.


6:00 AM Rise
6:30 AM Easy 3 miler - 8:50-9:00 pace
1:30 PM Leave to go downtown
2:15 PM Arrive downtown to park for Expo
2:30 PM Pick up number and mindlessy shop running gear at Expo
4:00 PM Meet Steve and Aaron (Pittsburgh friends and Boston co-hopefuls!) - Peer pep talk and race strategy
5:00 PM Drive back home - Pass on the Italian dinner invitation at Maggiano's with the guys and their wives, because I am deathly afraid of a bathroom issue on race day
6:00 PM Make own, special dinner consisting of:

Grilled chicken sandwich - mmm... with BBQ and Red Hot, L, T and O
Rice-a-roni - Rice Pilaif flavor - plenty of it, too - high in sodium to prevent hydration and loaded with carbs!
Small salad with almonds and lite ranch dressing
Half gatorade/Half water beverage

7:00 Watch World Series Game 1 - DETROIT TIGERS HOSTING ...???
8:45 PM Lights out


4:45 AM Rise & shine
4:45-4:48 AM - Visualize success, face my fears and hop out of bed for the biggest running day of my life
4:48-5:01 AM Bathroom time
5:01-5:05 AM Make breakfast consisting of:

3 slices of toast with honey
1 Quaker low-fat granola bar (mmm... Smores flavor)
Plenty of gatorade

5:05-5:09 AM Eat breakfast
5:09-5:14 AM Suit up
5:20-6:05 AM Leave house -- Arrive at Monroe St. Garage and Park
6:20 AM Meet Steve, Aaron and CARA Group in Charity Village

6:45 AM Stretch / more bathroom time / hydrate carefully
6:45-7:15 AM - ANTICIPATE!
7:35 AM - Head over to Preferred 1 Start corral
7:45 AM - Lock in my position with the New Balance 3:10 pace time
8:00-8:05 AM Hear the horn - walk to the start - and run into my own personal history
8:05-11:10 AM Run steadily and intelligently with dedication, poise, pride and passion - not to be wavered or impeded from success - at any point in the race - Celebrate with the city of Chicago, my fellow runners and spectators
11:15 AM - Cross the finish in 3:10, shed tears of joy and personal disbelief, find my wife

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Race week plan - Our time of glory is near

I've detected that the blogging activity among our Chicago trainees has picked up (myself included). I think it's beginning to dawn on all of us that we are less than one week away from our goal. It really started to hit me tonight.

I can't explain it really, but for some reason I seem to be more emotional about this goal than any others I have chased. Maybe it's because, if I do accomplish my goal to qualify for Boston, that it truly will exceed my wildest dreams.

When I was 17 years old, I couldn't run a 10-minute mile -- or even finish a 5k. I never dreamed I would even consider flirting with a marathon time that would get me into the most prestigious marathon in the world.

I've accomplished a lot of goals and, if I can achieve this one, I feel it would be among the most special. The mystique of the taper will not shatter my confidence. I can do this. I'm going to give it my all out there on Sunday.

Mon 10/16 - 6 miles recovery
Tue 10/17 - Dress rehearsal: 7 miles including 2 at marathon race pace
Wed 10/18 - Rest - need to travel to CT for the day for work
Thu 10/19 - 4 miles recovery
Fri 10/20 - 3 miles recovery
Sat 10/21 - Attend expo - Visualize, meditate, pray, etc.
Sun 10/22 - GOAL MARATHON: Qualify for Boston

Preliminary race plan by the mile pasted below.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Week 17 complete - Preparing the mind for the mission

After today's run, my 17th out of 18 training weeks is now complete. I am currently staving off a cold with all of my might. I believe Wednesday night's run in the very cold and windy conditions helped me catch a cold. I am downing Airborne for its major vitamin C content every four hours. I will not let this minor ailment stand in the way of my goal.

I completed a total of 30 miles this week, which seems like decent taper mileage for this week. For today's run, I decided to cut the 12-miler on the Pfitz calendar down to 10. The CARA team was only doing 8. It again was very cold this morning but not quite as windy.

There is exactly 7 days and 20.5 hours until we line up in the starting area for the Chicago Marathon. The 10-day outlook suggests the past couple of day's cold weather will let up and we will see average temperatures for next Saturday's start.

I am now concentrating on how to prepare my mind for successfully running a 3:10 marathon. I have brought myself tears on numerous occasions during the past several weeks while visualizing myself running the final 0.2 of the marathon.

I can hear the cheers of the Chicago crowd in my head as I approach the finish at 3:09:50. This has happened today while listening end of the live version of the song "Marathon" by Rush.

I am inspired by the energy and emotion of music. Whether lyrically or instrumentally, I've listed songs that I could find in my computer library that are most inspiring to me as I condition my mind for success at next Saturday's race. Here the top 8 with lyrical excerpts that will keep me running toward a 3:10.

What are your inspirational marathon tunes? Let me know.

1. All Fired Up - Pat Benatar

"I believe there's comes a time when everything just falls in line..."

2. Marathon - Rush

"More than just blind ambition. More than just simple greed. More than just a finish line must feed this burning need. In the long run..."

3. Rusty Cage - Soundgarden

"I'm gonna break my rusty cage and RUN..."

4. (Can't) Slow Me Down - Default

"Oh, stop steppin' in my way. Not quite what I thought you'd say. Never find, never mind, never peace, God at least give me strength just for one more try... Can't hold me down, can't slow me down..."

5. Cut to the Chase - Rush

"It is the engine that drives itself. But it chooses the uphill climb. A bearing on magnetic north. Growing farther away all the time. Can't stop moving..."

6. Are You Ready? - Creed

"Hey, Mr. Seeker... Hold on to this advice, If you keep seeking you will find - Are you ready for what's the come?"

7. Hero - Foo Fighters

"Don't the best of them bleed it out while the rest of them peter out..."

8. Run - Collective Soul

"Have I got a long way to run?" (rhetorical question, of course)

Recap of Week 17

Mon - 7 miles w/strides
Tue - Off
Wed - 8.3 miles with 3 miles at 6:13 avg pace (2 min slow jog in btw)
Thu - recovery 4.7 miles at 8:50 pace
Fri - Rest
Sat - 10 miles at avg 7:42 pace

Total: 30 miles for the week

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Week 17 update - We cannot control the weather

This marathon thing is getting really close now. I cannot believe I've been training for just about 18.5 weeks. (To clarify why the heading says week 17, I did two week of "pre-training" before starting the 18-week Pfitz program).

I took the opportunity to contribute to the USA Today Marathon Blog last night.

The taper is in full effect as I scale down to 32 miles this week. I've hit 15 miles WTD.

On Monday, I did the planned 7-miler with some strides. Average pace was 7:39/mile. Did not wear the HRM. After a 1/2 day in the office, I flew to LAX in the afternoon for work.

For Tuesday, it was a planned day off from running to concentrate on work. I went to my meeting in LA in the morning, had lunch in West Hollywood and then flew back to Chicago.

On to today's run, which I had planned to do in the evening. The plan was to do a total of 8 miles, which included 3x1600m repeats at 5k race pace with 2 min rest in between. The track team was on the HS track so I opted to rely on the Garmin to track my mile paces on the open subdivision roads.

NEWSFLASH: CHICAGO WEATHER CAN BE BRUTAL. After tonight's run, I am seriously concerned about the Chicago weather. The wind was wicked, people. The temperature was about 39 degrees with head winds that approached 30 mph.

If we get these kind of conditions on marathon day, we can plan to give up multiple minutes. That's a fact. Boston would be a pipe dream. That's not being pessimistic. That's just being honest. It would be the same if it were a freakishly hot day. Mother Nature and God will have to decide how they want to plan weather for our big day. I hope that they are both in pleasant moods come 12 days from now.

Despite the head winds and being COLD the entire run, I did manage to hit my 3 mile splits at faster than 5k race pace. I finished up my run for a total of 8+. I was freezing by the end of it.

I am done with speed work. I am going to blow off the strides that remain this week and concentrate on easy miles.

I am tired tonight. My legs feel a little sore and I am ready to really rest. I've got a recovery run lined up for tomorrow evening and then I save up for 10 or 12 easy on Saturday.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Week 16 recap - My first all-out mile and 13 days of focus

It is Sunday evening of my 18th week of training and I feel tired. The irony is that the fatigue is not from running. It's from all the extracurricular activities in which we have partaken this past 10 days.

Yes, I've been putting in the mileage without any issue. I am hitting every single mile and every single workout. It's the social/work life that's been tolling me. Between our friends in last weekend, the party we hosted last night and the Chicago Bears game today, I feel like I need some down time. Admittedly, I was a bit hung over today from our party.

I tapered down to 42 miles this week, which was right on target with my plan. Now I am really ready to rest up. For the next 13 days, I want to keep my mind focused on the goal to run my best possible race. Yes, I have a day job and there will be work to do outside of running. But Success in Chicago on 10/22 is a vision that is constantly in view for me.

The highlight of the week was the self time trial of 1 mile. My new (and first ever) unofficial PR for a 1 mile speed run: 5:36.
McMillan says this points me to a 3:09 marathon. This is right where I want to be.

I am ready. I am prepared. I need to relax, recover and plan for the best day of running in my life. I will do this over the next 13 days.

Recap of the 2nd half of the week's runs:

Thurs 10/5 - 5 miles at recovery pace of 8:46

Fri 10/6 - Total of 8 miles - Did the 2nd mile hard as a time trial in 5:36. Ran on a pancake flat sidewalk on Van Dyke for a straight hard mile. Remaining mileage was around 8's.

Sat 10/7 - 16 miles on the Prairie Path. Beautifully cool morning in Western Chicago and this was an easy 16 miler. I did the 16 in about 7:46 per mile average. Heart rate was in check around 150 bpm.

Week 17 plan:

Mon 10/9 - 7 miles w/8x100m strides

Tue 10/10 - Rest - need to swap with Wed due to travel to L.A.

Wed 10/11 - V02 max - 8 miles w/3x1600m @ 5k race pace

Thu 10/12 - Rest

Fri 10/13 - Recovery + speed 5 mi w/6x100m strides

Sat 10/14 - 12 miles

Sun 10/15 - Rest with 1 week to go

Mileage target: 32

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Week 16 - Start to taper - 18 days to go

I am ready. I just wish it wasn't 18 days away. I want to run Chicago 26.2 now. But I know patience and rest will help me accomplish the feat that I have chased. 3:10.

Mon 10/2 - 8 miles with 5x600m repeats

I warmed up with 2 miles before I began the repeats. I was not happy initially about this since I didn't think I was totally recovered from Sat's 20-mile run. But the intervals went well. I call them "pseudo-intervals" since I didn't do them on a track (locked up!). I rely on Garmin to read of 0.38 of a mile, which is about 600m, and I ran them on a straight sidewalk. My goal was to do each of these in about 2:18 to 2:20 per 600m, which is around5k pace.

Total distance: 8.0 - Time: 1:02:26 - Avg pace: 7:48 - Avg HR: 147

Tue, 10/3 - 5-mile recovery

I hit the Quick Trainer on Garmin and went out for 5 miles at 8:50 pace.

Wed 10/4 - Rest & cross-train?

Today is a rest day. I've decided I may head to the gym tonight to get on the bike. I could also do some stretching and light strength training.

I weighed in this morning at 171.0. I'm up a couple of pounds up from late last week. I really need to watch my weight over the next 2.5 weeks 'til race day. My goal race day weight is 169 lbs or less. Every extra pound could mean extra seconds.

Rest of week plan

Thu 10/5 - Recovery + speed - 5 miles w/6x100m strides
Fri 10/6 - 8 miles w/ 1 mile speed test- 1-MILE - GOAL: 5:35 - Warm-up mile + Easy 6 after hard mile
Sat 10/7 - 16 miles
Sun 10/8 - Rest
Mileage goal for week: 42

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Week 15 complete - Downhill stretch to race day

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. We had our friends, Kim and Mike, stay with us for three full days, which was fun, but it is hard to keep your routine when you're trying to entertain. We went downtown 3 times out of the last 4 days.

The fact that the marathon is 21 days away is exciting. I am dying to get out there and rock this 26.2 mile course. Whether or not I achieve my goal of 3:10:59.

Fri 9/29 - Easy recovery run of 5.5 miles @ 8:39 pace. We went off to Wrigley with our friends to watch the Cubbies lose.

Sat 9/30 - 20 miles long - our last 20-miler of the training. Pace was an average of 7:25 per mile. Recap below.

I was up in plently of time on Sat AM, but I left late to arrive at Running Ambitions in Wheaton at 6:55. Usually, they head off at 7, but I guess they're were chompin' at the bit to run. That's what happens when you live 20 miles away.

So I missed the group. I was furious with myself. I headed east on the path on my own wondering if they headed the same way, but I saw no one. I did 2 miles out and then back towards the store to get some Gatorade at the meeting point. I then headed north on the Prairie Path resigned to being alone and mentally preparing for 20 strong miles in solitude.

By good luck, I ran into Jim and Matt coming back from there first 5-mile leg. It worked out perfectly as I had just completed my fifth mile. Amazingly, our mileage was in sync. So I turned 180 degrees and ran with them.

My first 5 solo miles were around 7:40. I was hoping these guys would keep it to no faster than 7:30's, as I didn't want to go race pace. Inevitably, there were some fast miles, but all and all we had an outstanding run. Another solid 20-miler.

I feel like I can do this 3:10 marathon. I know it will be tough. As I long as I keep even pace, my gut tells me I'll be in position to get that BQ time through 21-22 or so. I've got results that suggest that. It's really whether or not I can hold pace for the last 4-5 miles. I really think that's what it will come down to.

This week's schedule - as written by Pfitzinger:

Mon - 8 miles w/5x600m at 5k pace
Tue - 5 miles recovery

Wed - Rest
Thu - Recovery + speed 4 miles w/6x100m strides
Fri - 8-10k tune-up race
Sat -
Med-long 16 miles
Sun - Rest

I'm somewhat skeptical of the 8-10k tune-up race, especially since there is no race for me to do. (Read: I don't feel like "racing" a pretend race alone again). Not sure what I will do on Friday. I'm also not thrilled about the Monday speed work - right after a 20-miler with only one day's rest?