A Week In the Life

I googled "running" to try and find a pic for this post. Found this from the running of the bulls and while it has nothing to do with my post, it was just too cool of a pic not to use. I'm guessing the photographer that snapped this photo had some laundry to do later that day.

With a little over a week to go until my next big race, the half marathon in Charleston, I’ve been pulling the running equivalent of cramming for finals.

When I got sick a couple of weeks before the Shamrock Marathon last March, I nearly panicked.  What do you do when you haven’t been able to run for a week, with a big race looming on the horizon?  Enter Jordan’s coach, Jeff Gaudette.  He sent me a road map on how to pull it together, a week’s worth of workouts designed to  quickly maximize fitness.  It seemed to work pretty well – I felt fine by race day.

Fast forward to 2010 – I was very ill the week after Christmas and missed a week of training.  Prior to my sick week, I hadn’t done any stress workouts in quite some time since on December 5th, I ran the Dallas White Rock marathon, and then on December 12, I ran the half at Thunder Road.  After Thunder Road, I was in recovery mode – I ran nothing but slow, easy runs right up until Christmas when the entire Strickland, Rivers, and Hester families caught the bug that was going around.  I had a self-imposed quarantine for days.

So here I was in a familiar place, trying to recover from illness with only 2 weeks left until the Charleston half.  I needed to pull it all together quickly if I had any shot of breaking 1:30 to get the automatic qualifier into New York.   I decided to try Jeff’s plan, again.  Here’s how the week fared.

Sunday (Long Tempo)

Sunday, I met up with a fast crew of runners at Davidson.  We could have put together a pretty strong cross-country team out of this gang (I’d have to be relegated to water boy or assistant coach or something) that included Kevin, Leonard, Adam Mayes, Chris Jones, John Compton, Jordan, Meagan, and Caitlin.  I’ll be honest – I was a little concerned about running with this gang.  If we had a race, I would have come in last, guaranteed, by a considerable margin.  Just take a look at the resume here – among us was a 2-time Thunder Road marathon winner, an Olympic Trials qualifier, and an NCAA All-American.  I could hang with these folks only if everyone took it easy – as soon as somebody decided to pick up the pace, I’d be dropped like an old toy on Christmas morning.

Kevin wanted to meet up early, so Leonard and I obliged him.  Then Adam and Chris showed up.  We warmed up for a little 3.5 mile jaunt before the rest of the gang showed.  I hung on, barely, as we dropped a couple of 7:30 miles, and then a sub-7:15 for our last split.  If we ran this fast when the other folks showed up, I could get in trouble in a hurry.

Caitlin and John rolled in, as did Jordan and Meagan shortly thereafter, after they gained their bearings around the Davidson campus.  Meagan had to make a quick pit stop which I was grateful for since it gave me a few more precious moments to recover from that quick last mile. 

We started running and Meagan asked, “Can we start out slow?”  God bless you Meagan Nedlo.  Leonard replied, “We can remain slow!” and everyone laughed.  So we cruised at the fast crew’s slow pace which turned out to be my marathon pace.  But I felt okay by this point, even well enough to carry on conversation. 

I chatted with John Compton about the Blue Ridge Relay.  A few miles later, Jordan peeled off for a pit stop of his own and when he returned, he eased into the back of the pack with me.  I told him how I recently had an epiphany – I suddenly realized that almost to a man, all the guys who beat me were putting in more mileage than me while all the guys that I beat were running less.  “Maybe this isn’t the great mystery we make it out to be”, I said.  He gave me some pointers on safely increasing mileage.

A little while later, Kevin, needing to rush home (I may change his nickname from The Gypsy Kid to Spada Jr. – Steve is notorious for rushing home after workouts), and I peeled off from the group to head in.  We finished up with just over 10 miles for the day and I felt good, confident, after running with some of Charlotte’s fastest.  I’ve come a long way since my first run with the Charlotte Running Club.

Tuesday (Explosive Hill Sprints)

Jeff, Brad Hudson, many other coaches, and myself, are big proponents of incorporating explosive hill sprints into your routine.  I really started  improving when I added these to my workouts.

So Tuesday, on my otherwise easy run, I threw in half a dozen of these on the steepest hill on the University trail system.  Again, I felt fine.

(Just an interesting aside for my fellow gadget-geek pals out there.  I forgot my Garmin 310XT this day so I downloaded the RunKeeper Pro app onto my Iphone and used it instead.  Normally $9.99, the app is free this month.  How’d it do, you ask?  In a word, sucky.  Every time I got into the least amount of tree cover, it lost me until I emerged into a clearing where it would find me again.  In essence, my Iphone became a $5 Target stopwatch – the GPS part was absolutely worthless.)

Thursday (Track Workout)

I was planning to do Yasso 800’s either Thursday or Friday.  The problem with doing them on Thursday was that I would most likely have to do them on the treadmill after work – I was not looking forward to that.

Enter Todd Spears, my long time friend and training partner.  He walked up to my cube at about 4:30 and said, “Let’s go run.”  I asked him what he was planning to do – 4 x 1 mile with half mile recoveries, then 2 x half mile with quarter mile recoveries.  Sounded good to me – company, no treadmill -sold.  I told my boss I was departing and I met Todd on the little .44 mile gravel-loop-trail behind the University Y.  (This little track-like loop makes a good place to do speed work in my opinion – the crushed gravel and steady incline on the homestretch make for a little tougher workout than a true 400m track).

I felt great (frozen hands notwithstanding) throughout this workout.  My splits were 6:33, 6:28, 6:37, 6:44, 3:15, and 3:15 respectively.  And I felt like I had to throttle back throughout (until the halves anyway) so as not to overdo it (Todd had prescribed 6:45 pace for the miles and a little faster for the halves).  I’m grateful to Todd for this one – I think Yasso’s on the treadmill would have been infinitely less fun.

The Rest of the Week Upcoming

So that’s it for the tough stuff.  Nothing stands between me and Charleston except a long run, some junk miles, and maybe a little fartlek early next week.  Last week gave me confidence that I’m still relatively fit.  I ought to be able to take a good shot at sub-1:30.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Talk to you all next week.  I hope to see some of you in Charleston on Saturday!


3 Responses to “A Week In the Life”

  1. Paul Says:

    nice training week! Sub 1:30 here we come

  2. Michael Kahn Says:

    Should be a great race! Look forward to seeing you down there. At least we get to stop after 13.1 no matter what. 🙂

  3. caitlin Says:

    Don’t sell yourself short…The best thing about Charlotte’s “finest” is that we can run with anyone! Great job this past week!

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