A Cold 21 Mile Run to Cap a 72 Mile Week

Yesterday I did a 21 mile run in the morning before going to work. What made the run particularly daunting was that it was -2 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

There was once a day when I was a fair weather runner. I lived near Phoenix, AZ and I generally wouldn’t run in the winter there because it was too cold. Ha! (For those of you that don’t know, the Phoenix area rarely even reaches freezing in the winter.)

I’ve come a long way since then, and now that I’m training for the Boston Marathon, I’m trying hard to stick to my schedule. That means a lot of snowy and cold runs during the past month here in Meridian, ID. This has been a particularly cold and snowy winter. Boise set the all time record for snow-pack this year, and we’ve had at least one record setting low temperature. I’ve done a few runs in the snow and many low temperature runs. I’ve also hit the treadmill — doing as much as 45 miles on it one week.

This week is cold as well, but the roads were clear (from snow) and I really wanted to do my long run outside. Right now I’m doing my long runs on Monday before work. This week the schedule called for a 21 miler. So in the morning I bundled up and headed out at 4:57am. I wore:

  • Shoes
  • Knee-high socks
  • Tights
  • Jogging pants
  • T-shirt
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Hoodie
  • Ski mask
  • 1 pair of knit gloves
  • 1 pair of gardening gloves
  • 1 pair of socks over the gloves
  • Reflective vest
  • Hydration belt

I looked pretty ridiculous.

But, I finished my run.

I was quite happy after finishing. The pace wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad and I had a strong finish without hitting The Wall.

I was even happier when I logged my run on my spreadsheet and saw that I had run 72.85 miles during the past 7 days! That was my highest mileage ever in a 7 day stretch, and my first time crossing 70 miles in a week.

I’m mostly sticking to the “Up to 70 Miles” plan in Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger. It’s going well for me so far, and my knees and ankles seem to be holding up to the heavier mileage demands.

Long runs can be scary and daunting, but it’s always awesome when you finish one. Especially before work. Especially when it’s -2F. But here’s to hoping that it warms up around here sooner rather than later.

2016: Running Year in Review

2016 was a great year. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from my running.

Miles ran: 2024.4 miles in ~227 runs

2016 was my highest mileage year by far, surpassing the 1359 miles I ran in 2015 by nearly 50%. In January Cyndi and I made the goal to run 2016 combined miles during the year. We hit that on November 11. About that time, I started increasing my weekly mileage to prepare for a new training regimen. I soon realized I could hit 2016 miles solo, and sure enough I hit it on December 30. I couldn’t help squeezing in 8 more on New Year’s Eve.

Miles raced: 140

My 2016 race schedule was similar to 2015, but this year I did a mid-summer relay instead of a half marathon, and an October marathon instead of a 50k. I’ll be starting off 2017 a little heavier with a 20 miler in January (weather permitting) and a half marathon in March.

Races completed: Ten

  • Three marathons
  • Two half marathons
  • One 8 miler (~12k)
  • One 10k
  • One 5k
  • One 1 mile time trial
  • One relay — about 16.5mi over three legs

Worst training run: 20 miler on 3/4

My second 20 mile training run of the year was rough. One month earlier, I had completed a 20 miler and finished strong in the last couple miles. On this run I bonked really hard at mile 17. It served as a reminder that I needed to eat right and bring sufficient fuel for long runs. It was a bit of a wake-up call to me and shook my confidence as I was training for a marathon.

Best training run: 21 miler on 4/29

My confidence was restored in late April on my last 20+ miler before running my spring marathon. I didn’t hit the wall, I picked up the pace in the last third of the run, and everything seemed to click. It gave me a nice confidence boost before my marathon as this run was at a Boston Qualifying pace.

Most awesome training run: Pi run on 3/14

10+pi miles with 1x2mi and 1xPi mile intervals.

Best race: Layton Marathon

Just about everything clicked for me at the Layton Marathon. My pace was solid, and I actually accelerated during the second half. I didn’t hit the wall. I was able to finish 1st overall after passing the leading runner at mile 22. It ended up being a new PR. The one thing that went wrong was I had to take a bathroom break, but that wasn’t enough of an issue to ruin my race.

Running towards the end of the Layton Marathon
Running towards the end of the Layton Marathon
Runner-up: Famous Idaho Potato Marathon

The Famous Idaho Potato Marathon was the one that got me into Boston and my first sub-3:00 finish. I stayed right on my target pace and I was able to have a decent finish.

Honorable Mention: Zeitgeist Half Marathon

My performance at the 2016 Zeitgeist Half Marathon was a little slower than my expectations, but I ended up winning, so I can’t complain!

Worst race: ?

I really didn’t have a race that was a disaster for me. I didn’t get lost in any races this year — like the Idaho Falls Half Marathon in 2015. I didn’t have a big bonk in any of the marathons I ran — like the Newport Marathon in 2015.

The one race where I didn’t quite hit my target time was the Zeitgeist Half Marathon, but it was still a solid race and the circumstances were a little unusual (I didn’t have any other runners within sight to push me at the end).

Most memorable experience: Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay

I’m still not sure if I like running in relays, but they are definitely memorable. It was fun to be able to run Wasatch Back with my wife, Cyndi, and spend some time with her and a few crazy guys in our van. I’ll never forget sleeping in the van because everyone was too tired and confused to get out and use our sleeping bags. I made some new friends and I’ll get to run with them again this year.

2016-Ragnar-Wasatch-Back_Exchange-6-Cyndi-and-Blake

Summary

Overall, 2016 was a spectacular running year for me. Once again I was blessed to not have any significant injuries during the year. My training went really well and I was able to run several races and improve my times. I qualified and registered for the Boston Marathon, which was my top goal.

I’m hopeful that 2017 will be a great year. So far I’m signed up for a marathon, 20 miler, half marathon, and two relays. I’m sure I’ll fill in the gaps!

Race Report: 2016 Clark County Turkey Trot 10K

For the past few years I’ve had the tradition of running the Clark County Turkey Trot in Vancouver, WA. This year the tradition continued.

Unfortunately the weather was not very cooperative this year. I’ve had good luck with Thanksgivings in Vancouver, WA, but this year it was rainy every day we were there, including Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, Cyndi, Paisley, Cosette, Fielding, Kara, Breeana, and I all laced up and headed out early on Thanksgiving morning to do the Turkey Trot. I was the only one signed up for the 10k. The kids were all signed up for the 5k, and my wife and sister-in-law also ran it so they could provide real-time support for the kids.

Huddling to keep out of the rain
Huddling to keep out of the rain

The Clark County Turkey Trot course was pretty much the same as it has been, with a slight alteration of the start and finish to make it more of a straight-shot and spread out the finish from the snacking area. This was a good change for sure.

I lined up near the front of the pack. I hoped to win but was unsure what the competition was like. I also hoped to beat my 2015 time of ~37:27.

Once we started there were a few guys that really took off. I reeled in a couple of them after a half mile or so, but I was still in 3rd or 4th. They looked strong and there was no way I could hold that pace for 10K. My first mile came in at 5:51, and that was about as fast as I was willing to go. I hoped to settle somewhere under 6:10/mi.

There were lots of puddles and combined with the rain it made for a very wet race. I was pretty wet not long after starting. Fortunately it wasn’t very cold, so I could get away with a short sleeve shirt and gloves.

As we came up to the 5K turn-around at Mile 1.6, the guys in front of me began coming back. I had forgotten about the 5K, and I was very happy to see all the runners ahead of me turn around so that I was left in 1st place for the 10K. I was still feeling good, but now the pressure was on.

Cosette at the 5K turn around
Cosette at the 5K turn around

The next couple miles were pretty uneventful. I hit 5:50 for Mile 2 and then 6:04 for Mile 3. At the turn-around I grabbed some water. I had a decent lead on the next runner of perhaps 50-100 yards. There are tiny hills (more like bumps) during miles 2-4. It was nice to have some changing terrain to push up or coast down.

I hit 6:05 for Mile 4. I was very happy with my pace and that I was holding at sub 6:10 this far into the race. It’s interesting to me that I have started to be able to naturally find the right pace to run — whether it’s a 5K or 10K or even a marathon.

Around Mile 4.5 there is a sharp turn and an opportunity to see how close the next runners are. I was hoping to look back and see no one, but sure enough there was a runner maybe 40 yards back. I tried to pick it up a notch so he wouldn’t catch me. It scared me that there was someone that close behind this far into the race as I wasn’t sure I could out kick him.

Soon I came upon the 5K walkers. The main issue with the Clark County Turkey Trot is that the out-and-back course is on a fairly narrow trail. It’s enough for ~4-5 people to walk side-by-side, but when you have walkers coming and going it can easily fill up the route. This results in a lot of weaving, dodging, and running on the grass/mud for those of us trying to make a good time.

That said, I realize that this isn’t a “PR course” Turkey Trot. I try to be respectful and I understand that it’s really not a big deal.

Due to the walkers, I couldn’t see if the runner behind me was closing in or not, so I just went as hard as I could given the weaving. I did see my wife running with our 5-year-old, so it was fun to give them a yell.

The walkers eventually thinned out and I was able to finish strong. Miles 5 and 6 were 5:57 and 6:02. I ended up finishing in 1st place with a time of 37:04.

Full results: http://resultsdb.com/results/ClarkCountyTurkeyTrotResults2016.pdf

I was happy to see my 9-year-old daughter Paisley waiting for me at the finish (from the 5k). She was able to run the whole way and I was very proud of her (and she was proud of herself).

We waited for everyone else to come in. We ate donuts and hot cocoa and the kids got to hit the pinata.

Fielding with a pocket full of pinata candy after the 5k
Fielding with a pocket full of pinata candy after the 5k

It was another great Turkey Trot and a fun way to start the holiday.