Sunday, November 17, 2013

The road to CIM

Only 3 weeks to go before I set my foot on the starting line of the California International Marathon, attempting my debut at the distance. Before I get into more details, though, there are some gaps I need to fill since my last update.

The last time I showed any signs of life was all the way back in January, when I was getting ready for the Cyprus national half marathon championships. I was unfortunately sidelined with injuries in both of my hamstrings, which ended up keeping me out of any serious training for almost 3 months. The rest of the season didn't have any highlights and I was really looking forward to being fully healthy again and getting ready for CIM.

I started to put in the miles in preparation for the marathon in mid July. I took a very cautious approach, though, and focused more on staying healthy instead of trying to pile on the miles. I was only running 5-6 days a week at first and included some biking to get some supplemental cardio work. I also started practicing yoga 1-2 times a week, which has helped my strength and flexibility. I did eventually get the mileage up to a decent number and had a few weeks in the 75-85 mile range.  I was on pace to hit 95 last week (I did reach a rolling week max of 94) but got sick and had to take a couple days off, thus falling a bit short.

In terms of quality my training has been pretty solid. On a typical week I would run a track workout on Tuesdays, a tempo on Thursdays and a long run on Saturdays, which would include a stretch of marathon pace in the middle. Here are my last workouts for reference:

Track workout: 3x3000m w/ 5' rest between intervals: 10:00, 9:54, 9:53
Tempo: 10K, 6' rest, 8K: 35:46, 28:30
Long run: 33K (~21 miles) with 14K at 3:43-3:44/Km (just under 6:00/M) between the 10th and 24th kilometer.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how my training has progressed. I would have liked it if the volume was a bit higher but considering where I was last spring I've managed to put in some decent mileage. My workouts have been really good, though. I've been consistently hitting or exceeding my goal times and still feeling like there's something left at the end of each workout.

With only 3 weeks left there's not much more I can add at this point. Only one more week with harder training and a couple of weeks of tapering. To some extend I'm not sure what to expect out of my race. The marathon distance is a complete unknown to me and a bit intimidating. My first goal would be to make it through the race without blowing up and hopefully feeling good at the finish. I will most likely start out at ~6:00/M pace and try to negative split the 2nd half, hopefully finishing in the 2:30-2:35 range. I keep reminding myself, though, that this is a just a new beginning. I'm more excited about the possibility of staying healthy over the next year or two and hoping that there's still some fast running left in my legs. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

41st place in 15:43

Splits: 4:54, 10:05 (5:11), 15:11 (5:06)

I drove down to San Jose on Thanksgiving morning to race a 5K in the country's fastest turkey trot. I was entered in the PA/USATF championship, which was run together with the elite race and was featuring a loaded field. I made it to downtown San Jose around 9am and had about an hour and a half to spare before the start of the race. It did take me a while, though, to pick up my race bib and figure out where the start of the race was. There was also an open 5K and 10K before the championship/elite events, which were ran in the same area but on a different course. Any information I could find about the race only applied to the open race and asking event staff didn't help much either. I ended up starting my warm-up and wondering around, hoping to find some indication of the race start. Fortunately I went by the start just as the elite women were taking off and I had some time to sit for some stretching and to run enough strides before the start.

The course was flat and fast, consisting a 200m initial stretch and followed by 4 loops around Guadalupe River Park.  I was expecting the field to go out fast and it did not disappoint. I was gaped by a big group up front early on and I had to turn back to check that I wasn't dead last. I did try to settle into my own pace but it was rather inevitable to get carried away and get out faster than planned. I didn't have a good sense of pace and was even worried that I might have gotten out too slow but seeing the clock as I was finishing the first lap was reassuring. I was shooting for sub 16:00 and coming through the first mile in 4:54 meant that I had put plenty of time in the bank. I was running alone after the first half mile or so and started losing focus after the first mile, slowing down to a 5:11 for the second one. I was still under my goal pace so I kept thinking that I would post a good time if I kept it together reasonably well. I managed to pick things up a bit heading into the 3rd mile and I started closing on one guy ahead of me, which helped me stay focused. I passed him with about 1K to go and made a push to the finish, trying to close up on another couple of guys ahead. I didn't manage to get close in the end but had a good finish, including a good kick at the end, which made me think that I still had something left in the tank.

The race exceeded my expectations so I was fairly content with the result. I did feel that I wasn't race sharp, especially for something as short as a 5K but I put together a good effort. The field helped in dragging me to a fast time and even though I lost focus somewhere in the middle of the race I still managed to finish strong. This was my fastest race in the last 4 years so it's exciting to be getting back into competitive shape. It's still very early in the season and it's encouraging to see that my fitness is progressing well.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Week Recap (25 March 2012 - 31 March 2012) - 65 Miles

Sun: 11M.
Nob hill - GG Park. Not feeling very motivated today and ended up wasting  time on the couch until I finally dragged myself out around 2pm. Didn't really get into it much and put in a rather slow run.

Mon: 10M.
Bay Club - Presidio. This has pretty much become my standard loop these days. It's the only loop from the Bay Club that allows me to spend some time on trails and it definitely beats most other options by far. I also can't get through the Presidio with anything shorter than 9-9.5M so opting for this route doesn't hurt the mileage.

Tue: 10M.
2x(3x1000(3:05), 1x1000(2:55)).
3:05, 3:07, 3:05, 2:58, 3:07, 3:05, 3:05, 2:57.
This workout was similar to last week's but broken into 2 sets, with the last interval of each set at a faster pace. Rest was 2:00 between intervals, like last week, and 5:00 between the two sets. I worked from home today and had a bit of an adventurous trip to Kezar. I decided to run to the Civic center station and catch the N to Carl & Stanyan, just outside Kezar. I headed out in pouring rain with my sweats, a spike bag with my Hyperspeeds for the workout, my clipper card, which had just enough value for a one-way trip, and a $20 bill to reload it. I didn't account for the bill getting wet on the way there and I couldn't get any of the machines to accept it. Trying to find someone to trade $20 bills with me didn't work out either so I just headed out and hoped that I would find a way to get back on the MUNI after my workout. I guess the unexpected turn of events left me in a somewhat confused state as I ended up catching the wrong train and not realizing it until I was at the Church station. It's only a couple of miles to the track from there so I got out and run to Kezar for my warm-up. I would have preferred to get to the track first so I wouldn't have to run my warm-up with a spike bag on my back but it wasn't really a big deal. I didn't spend much time stretching since it was raining and I was already fairly soaked so I just wanted to get the workout underway. The rain kind of starting dying out during the workout but since it had been raining all day, the track was covered with a few inches of water. Despite the less than ideal warm-up and the adverse weather conditions I ended up running a good workout. For the slower intervals, I was right on my goal of 3:05 for 4 of them and pretty close on the other 2, mostly because of getting out slow on the first lap. Switching gears on the last interval of each set to get to a 2:55 wasn't an easy task in these conditions but I came pretty close. I got out in 70 for the first one but didn't hold it together in the 2nd lap, coming through the 800 in 2:23. I managed to close with a 35, though, to hit a 2:58. The last one was rather similar, out in 69-70, 2:22 and a 35 again for the last 200. I was pretty wiped by the end of it but content from having run a good workout in rather bad conditions. I ran a few laps on the grass for my cool-down and added a few strides before heading out to catch the N back. To my disappointment I noticed that the train wouldn't be there for another 20 minutes and of course I didn't want to wait around with wet clothes, especially not knowing for sure if I could pay for a ride back. I started running back but soon enough realized that running another 4 miles wouldn't be the greatest idea so I pulled over a cab and got a ride home. The wet $20 bill did come in handy after all.

Wed: 8M.
Started out from the Bay club as usual and headed towards the Embarcadero. Ran along the Embarcadero through Fisherman's all the way to the Marina and made my way back from there, going through the Broadway tunnel. Feeling a bit tired today so I was running fairly slow the whole time.

Thu: 11M.
1x5k(17:30), 1x3K(10:00), 1x2K(6:20).
16:49, 9:58, 6:22.
I was supposed to be in the office at 8:30 this morning so we could get an early start for our company trip to Lake Tahoe. I knew that I wouldn't be able to run later in the day, let alone try to run a workout in Tahoe, so I had to get up early and get my workout out of the way. My alarm went off at 6am and I was up without much trouble. It always amazes me that I can easily wake up in the mornings if I'm meeting someone or if I must absolutely get my run out of the way but if running later in the day is an option, waking up early becomes an almost impossible task. I walked over to the office first to drop off my bags before heading over to the Bay club to start my run from there. I did the usual warm-up along the Embarcadero to AT&T park and didn't spend much time stretching or running strides before getting the workout underway. The goal for the 5K was 3:30/km but I was fairly confident that it wasn't a very ambitious pace. I was at the 1K mark in 3:22, feeling fairly relaxed, and more or less maintained that pace the whole way. I had 5:00 between intervals which was plenty for me to be recovered before the next one. The 3K was fairly relaxed too and since it was only slightly faster than the 5K it didn't feel like I had to switch gears  much. I had to make a more conscious effort to get out faster for the 2K but managed to get the legs moving fast enough to finish off the workout with a good last interval. I felt pretty good at the end of the workout and I could have added a longer cool-down but I didn't have enough time for that so I just ran straight back to the Bay club for a quick shower before heading back to the office. It definitely felt good to get a good workout out of the way early and not have anything to worry about for the rest of the day.

Fri: 3M.
I didn't get to bed until around 3am last night so waking up early this morning wasn't an easy task. I managed to get myself out of bed around 9:30 and thought I'd have enough time for a decent run before meeting everyone else at 11 to head to Squaw valley. Unfortunately after checking my work emails I realized that I had some urgent work to do and I wasn't able to get out for a run until around 10:30. I only had time for a quick 3M, out and back from Granlibakken resort. I stayed on the roads for the most part but had to run for a bit on snow when I tried running on a bike path. I'm not sure when the last time I had to run on snow was, probably 4-5 years ago. It was sunny and in the low 40s though so I had no trouble still running with shorts and a t-shirt. It was only a short run but I felt pretty good and I was wishing I had some more time to extend it. I was considering going for a second run after coming back from Tahoe but I didn't make it home until almost 10pm and I was just too tired to lace up my running shoes again.

Sat: 12M.
Started out from Nob hill and made my way to Crissy Field along the Marina. Continued on to Lincoln Ave and picked up the Bay trail towards Park Blvd. Went down park trail to Presidio Blvd and made it to Golden Gate park before heading back home. It was a relatively short run for the week's long run but I kept the pace faster than usual and worked the hills well. I'm racing the 10,000m at the Cyprus national championships on April 20th so over the next 3 weeks I'll be focusing more on quality over quantity.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Week Recap (18 March 2012 - 24 March 2012) - 78 Miles

Sun: 12M
Nob hill to Golden Gate park.

Mon: 9M.
I had to be in the office at 9:30am and I knew I wouldn't be able to run in the afternoon because some other work commitments so I had to get my run out of the way early in the morning. I set my alarm for 7:20am and surprisingly managed to get myself out of bed right away. I walked over to the Bay club and started my run from there, doing the usual Presidio route. It was already after 8am by the time I started and  realized that I'd be cutting it close so I tried to keep the pace fast. The second surprise of the day was that I felt great, something which rarely happens in the mornings. Finished the run in one of my fastest times for that loop and managed to make it to work just on time.

Tue: 11M.
 2x200, 8x1000 (3:05).
33, 34, 3:03, 3:07, 3:05, 3:06, 3:07, 3:07, 3:05, 3:01.
I got out of work around 6pm and took the MUNI from Montgomery to Church station, which is only a couple of miles away from Kezar. I ran to Kezar for my warmup and did the usual stretching and strides before my workout. The conditions were a lot better than last week so I didn't have to rush my pre-workout routine. The two 200s were at a gradually increasing pace so they were basically two longer than usual strides. I would start at a casual pace and gradually increase the pace until I got close to full speed in the last 20 meters or so. I took 45'' after the first 200 and about a minute after the second, before getting into the meat of the workout. I was fairly consistent with my splits throughout the workout and I would usually come through the 400 in 74 and the 800 in 2:28/2:29. I took 2:00 of rest between the intervals, which was enough to recover aerobically but my legs were definitely feeling it by the end. My calves were already feeling a bit sore before the workout and probably still feeling the effects of last Tuesday's workout. I hadn't run anything as fast in a while and I was fairly sore afterwards, plus I had a few hilly runs afterwards so I didn't really let my legs recover enough. I was starting to hurt a bit on the 5th and 6th one and decided to take off the t-shirt for the last two. The benefits of the reduced weight started to show right away. I was back on my goal pace on the 7th and started the last one feeling strong. Came through in 72, 2:25 and thought I could perhaps kick in for a sub 3:00 but reminded myself that this was just a workout. My legs were pretty tired at the end but aerobically at least I felt like I could have run another couple intervals at the same pace. I ran a few laps around the infield, on grass, followed by some strides and didn't really feel like adding more mileage for cool-down so I tried to catch the N just down the street from the track. Unfortunately I saw the train going by as I was running over and the next one would take more than 10 minutes to show up so I decided to run back. Kezar is about 4 miles away from the Bay club and I was dreading a bit having to run that far but I didn't want to sit outside and wait for a train after just having finished a workout. I ended up running to the Van Ness station and catching the MUNI there, saving myself about 1.5 of running. It still ended up being a fairly long day and definitely a good one.

Wed: 10M.
Bay club - Presidio. My calves were pretty sore from yesterday's workout and running a hilly route didn't help much.

Thu: 10M.
4x2K (6:20)
6:27, 6:23, 6:26, 6:24.
Same workout as last Thursday and once again I headed down to AT&T park along the Embarcadero, did some stretching and strides by the Willie Mays statue and started my workout. I wasn't feeling that great on the warm-up and my calves were even more sore than yesterday. Since I had gone out in a 6:10 for the first one last week, I wanted to be a bit more conservative but got out a bit too slow. I came through the 1K in about 3:18 and had to pick things up to finish in 6:27. Rest was 4:00 between the intervals and it was sufficient to recover aerobically but my legs were feeling the burn and I knew that things wouldn't get any better. I tried to get out faster on the remaining intervals but I struggled to get close to my goal pace. Not my greatest of workouts but not too bad either I suppose. I guess my legs need some time to adjust to running some faster intervals on the track.

Fri: 9M.
Nob hill - Presidio. Ran in the morning and thought of doubling up but I decided that my legs could use some recovery.

Sat: 17M.
Nob Hill - Crissy Fields - Lands End - GG Park. Felt very good today, cruising at a good pace the whole time.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week Recap (11 March 2012 - 17 March 2012) - 73 Miles

Sunday: 12M
Nob hill to GG Park. Back to longer runs after a recovery week. My legs definitely appreciated the lighter load.

Monday: 10M
Headed out from the Bay Club around 6pm and thanks to daylight savings time I was still able to get a run with daylight still out. I took advantage of it and ran the usual day route to Presidio, down park trail to Crissy Fields and back up Colombus Ave.

Tuesday: 9M
66, 72, 68, 71, 71, 71, 71, 71.
69, 69, 70, 70, 69, 70, 70, 68.
Rest was 45'' between the 400s and 4:00 between the sets. I started my workout around 6:30pm and the track at Kezar was still pretty crowded. I got out fast in the first one to go around a big group and got too excited, coming through the first 200 in 30-31. I eased up to finish the first interval and still hit a 66. I overcompensated on the 2nd one and only ran a 72 then overcompensated again in the other direction for the 3rd one. I finally got into a consistent pace after than and hit 71s for the remaining intervals of the set. The goal was to run 70s but since it was rainy and windy I was content with running a second slow. After 4:00 of rest I was feeling almost completely recovered and managed to run the second set better than the first. With the track clearing up I didn't have to run through the crowds any more and I was able to get into a nice rhythm. On most intervals I would come through the 200 in 34 and focus on maintaining a good turnover to the finish. Pretty happy with how the workout turned out, especially considering the conditions. Not too long ago I would almost need to go all out to run a sub 70 quarter so it's definitely encouraging to be running 16 of those with short rest. Definitely excited with how my fitness is progressing.

Wednesday: 8M
Out from the Bay club to the Embarcadero, continued along the water to the Marina and back through some random streets. Rather uneventful run.

Thursday: 9M
6:10, 6:36, 6:32, 6:30.
Headed out from the Bay Club around 5:30 and ran a 2M warmup to AT&T park. I wanted to find a bathroom before starting my workout but I couldn't find anything nearby so I just stretched out, ran some strides and started the workout. I measured a distance of 2K from AT&T Park north along the Embarcadero and went back and forth for 4 intervals. I started the workout well, although I could sense my stomach getting uneasy early on. The goal was to run 6:20s and I was a bit surprised to see a 3:04 at the 1K mark. I didn't want to slow too much for the rest of the interval and managed to hit a rather comfortable 6:10. I ran straight into the ferry building after the first one and tried to find a bathroom for a quick pit stop. Managed to find one and came out to start the 2nd interval about 5:00 after I had finished the first one. I started the 2nd interval well, coming through the 1K mark in 3:07 then things started going bad. I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my stomach and I inevitably slowed down for the last half of the interval.  I thought about stopping the workout right there and spent a few minutes walking around, hoping the pain would go away. I did feel a bit better and decided to continue the workout but I was nowhere near the pace I had originally started the workout at. My legs were feeling ok but it felt like I was running with a full stomach and had trouble moving fast. I was pretty disappointed at the end of it but in retrospect it's not a horrible workout. I did put in a fairly hard effort, which in reality was the goal of the workout. I guess I'm more disappointed thinking that I could have ran a very good workout, considering how well I felt after the first interval. These things happen every now and then, though.

Friday: 10M
Out from the Bay club to Golden Gate Park, ran a small loop in the park and headed back. It was pouring rain at times, which I started enjoying once I was completely soaked. Felt pretty good and kept the pace fast the whole time. I forgot that the Bay Club closes at 8:30 on Fridays (as opposed to 9:30 the rest of the week) and I casually walked in around 8:40. Fortunately there was still someone at the front desk and they were kind enough to let me jump in for a quick shower. While I was still out I was contemplating adding another mile or two so it turned out to be a good thing that I didn't. Not sure what I would have done if I was locked out with nothing but a soaked pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

Saturday: 14M
Started from my new temporary apartment in Nob Hill and picked up my usual route towards the Presidio. Continued west on the Bay trail instead of going down towards Crissy fields and eventually picked up Lands End trail and continued on to Golden Gate park. Ran up the north side of the park to Presidio Blvd, headed north from there and started making my way to Nob Hill after Geary Blvd. Felt a bit tired today and I was running slow, especially on the hills.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A whole new beginning.

Once again, I'm back after a long hiatus from blogging to give you a long overdue update. You probably expect to read the same old story; a few months with little training but an improvement in consistency as of late. Well, that's sort of true I guess but things are a bit different this time. On quite a few occasions over the past 3 years, I was getting excited and optimistic about a return to competitive running once I started running close to 40-50 miles a week. This time I've actually had 2-3 fairly solid months of training and even competed in a couple of national championships. I've been running consistently over 60M/week over the last 3 months and close to 80M for the last 3 weeks. In the beginning of January I competed in the 10K at the Cyprus national XC championships and placed 4th in 35:42 (probably 300-500m longer than 10K though). Three weeks later I raced at the half marathon national championships and finished 3rd in 1:13:37. Having put in another month of training since then, where I've been increasing the mileage and running progressively faster workouts I can definitely say that I'm getting fairly fit and I really look forward to racing again.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that my training is back on the right track is that I'm now a member of Dromea Racing , one of the few running clubs in Cyprus. Dromea was founded about 3 years ago and has grown to a few hundred members, including people with a wide range of running abilities. There's a social part to being member of the club but I also get to train with a couple of pretty fast teammates, at least while I'm in Cyprus. I'm also being coached by George and Stavros Loukaides and having a coach has definitely helped me structure my training a lot better. I took a VO2 max test as soon as I joined and we based my training on the outcome (my VO2 max was calculated at 69 ml/kg/min). My first workouts were at a pace where I was getting a good workout but also feeling like I had more to give at the end of it. I hadn't run any track workouts in a long time and it definitely helped my confidence to come out of the first ones feeling strong instead of struggling to run an ambitious pace. The workouts have been gradually getting faster and more challenging but I'm still feeling strong at the end and I haven't had a bad workout yet. My race results also reflect the leap in fitness as I went from running a 35:42 10K (albeit a long one) to running a 35:05 10K enroute to a 1:13 half, only 3 weeks later. Having put in one more month of training since then I'm getting pretty excited and I'm thinking that I could be getting close to PR territory in another month or two.

So what's in the plans for the future? There's nothing definite yet but my long term goal is to pick things up where I left them before my Achilles surgery and move up to the marathon. That's not gonna happen in the immediate future, though, as I want to build up a solid base and have a few months of consistent training before I attempt to race a marathon. In the short term, I'll focus more on shorter distances, try to run some 5Ks and 10Ks and return to the track for the national championships. Interestingly enough I've never ran a 10K on the track and haven't really trained to run a 5K either so it will be good to see what I can pull off. One thing is for sure; I'm motivated, I'm having fun running and I can't wait to be a competitive runner once again.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Week Recap (1 May 2011 - 7 May 2011) - 40 Miles

Sunday: 15M
Started the week off with a nice 15 miler. Headed out from home and to the Presidio up Arguello Blvd. Picked up the bay trail towards Lincoln Blvd, then continued along the Coastal trail and finally headed home through Golden Gate Park. Averaged right around 7:00 pace which is pretty decent for this loop since it includes a fair amount of rolling hills and some slow parts on the trails along the coast. Felt pretty good too, probably the best I've felt in a long run in quite a while.

Monday: 8M
Pretty slow run at golden gate park.

Tuesday: 0M
Day off.

Wednesday: 10M
Hill repeats, 2x up Hayes St, 4x back and forth on Divisadero. I decided to run some hill repeats, partly in preparation for Bay to Breakers. I started from home and made my way to the botton of Hayes St hill after a couple of miles. The B2B course includes a rather brutal climb up to the top of Hayes St by Alamo Square. This workout brought back memories of workouts we used to run up Summit Ave in Boston and it was surprising how similar Hayes St and the long side of Summit ave are. They are both close to half a mile with similar elevation gain. Hayes St starts out a bit more gradual though and is a lot steeper near the top, making it pretty hard to top well. I started my workout as soon as I crossed Laguna St and started working the hill well. I slowed down as I was getting closer to the top, as expected, but I managed to put in a good effort. My legs we already feeling it though and I wasn't looking forward to heading back down and running another repeat. Even the downhill part was rather brutal and I was running on tired legs on the second one, making it noticeably slower. I was feeling pretty tired for the rest of the workout and I didn't feel like I was running very fast but it was a somewhat decent effort. I was considering adding a couple more short repeats but opted for a longer cool-down instead. I even stopped by Kezar and ran some barefoot strides before heading back home.

Thursday - Friday: 0M

Saturday: 7M
10x400 with 200m rest: 75, 76, 73, 73, 73, 70, 69, 70, 69, 67. Some speedwork to close out the week. I wasn't expecting a very challenging workout since I was taking 200m of rest between intervals and my head wasn't entirely in it when I started. I came through in 36 on the first one but relaxed too much on the second half. The second one didn't go much better and I was a bit surprised to see a 38 turning to a 39 at the 200. At that point I starting getting worried that it was going to be a rough day and even thought about cutting the workout short if the next interval continued on the same trend. Fortunately I managed to get into a better rhythm from then on and pulled off a decent workout. The last half, especially, felt pretty good and it was good to see that I still have some kind of speed in my legs.