Week 11: BQ Training with Run Less Run Faster

Oct 7, 2013 by

Week 11: BQ Training with Run Less Run Faster

Here is my report for week eleven of sixteen of my Outer Banks 2013 marathon training. I am following the 3:25:00 Boston Qualifier plan outlined in the book Run Less Run Faster.

To review past weeks, click here.

Short version: I think this training is working.  Had another really good week and seem to be getting faster.  I could use a nap, though.  This is wearing me out.

For the long version, keep reading.

Cross Training. Tuesday and Thursday

Successfully completed the two prescribed swim workouts.  Pretty straight forward week.  4 laps kick, 20 minutes free, 4 laps kick.

Grade: Pass

Run workout #1. Monday

The track.  This week’s workout was a new one – 1000m in 3:56; 2000m in 8:11; 1000m in 3:56; 1000m in 3:56. 400m rest intervals between.


  • 1000m: 3:53
  • 2000m: 8:05
  • 1000m: 3:53
  • 1000m:  3:52

Grade: A+. Very solid workout.  Felt like I could do another 1000 or two at the end, but it was dark and I was hungry.  So, I went home. 🙂

Run workout #2. Wednesday

This week’s tempo run called for a warm up mile, five miles at a 7:49 pace, then a mile cool down.  After last week’s ten miler at the same pace, I was pretty confident about this one until Tuesday afternoon.  That’s when it occurred to me that I had a conflict on Wednesday night – a cross country meet.

Thanks to a Wednesday morning appointment, I would have time to do this one early.  This meant in the dark, though, so I’d have to stay in the neighborhood.  All of a sudden, those 7:49 splits got a little tougher because of the neighborhood hills and cul-de-sacs.  Not to mention being half asleep.

So, I set out at 6:06am to get my seven before sunrise.  I guess I woke up OK, here at the results:

  • Mile 1: 9:54
  • Mile 2: 7:52
  • Mile 3: 7:40
  • Mile 4: 7:42
  • Mile 5: 7:38
  • Mile 6: 7:28
  • Mile 7: 9:39

Grade: A+. That’s a 7:40 pace for the five tempo miles. It was also a negative split.  Great way to start the day.

Run Workout #3. Friday

This week’s long run called for twenty miles at an 8:19 pace. This is the fourth of five 20 milers, and I missed the mark on the last two.  I definitely wanted to get back on track this week.

One of the biggest challenges of a twenty mile run, besides the actual running, is  trying to come up an interesting, safe, and fairly flat route.  So, I spent some time on MapMyRun.com the day before trying to come up with something new.  I felt I’d come up with a decent route that had three parts – an easy first third, a tough second third, and a fairly flat to down hill final third.

Turns out, my route planning skills need some work.  Here’s the elevation map from my GPS watch:


You can see the route works its way down hill the first half, then is pretty much uphill the second half.  The bottoming out spot about the 1:21 mark was around mile 10.  At this point, I was on an 8:16 pace, but I could see the long hill climbs in front of me, and I knew a negative split would be tough, if not impossible.  Plus, the surprise early fog was burning off and the temperature was heating up.

With one mile to go, I glanced at the overall pace screen on my watch.  I had slipped to 8:19.  Just push it for one mile, I said to myself.  Pretend it is the last mile of the marathon and you need to beat the 8:19 pace to qualify.  So, I did and came in at 8:12 for that last mile for an overall time of 2:46:48.  This was right on the goal pace of 8:19/mile.

Grade: A. Despite slipping to an 8:22/mile pace on the second half, I met the time for my fastest twenty mile run yet.  I also never really hit the wall in this run, but last last few miles were quite the sufferfest.

Week Eleven Summary

Another really solid week.  I feel like I’m improving.  It was good to meet the twenty mile run pace.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wondering how in the world I’m going to hit a 7:49 pace for 26.2 miles when a 8:19 pace for 20 hurt so bad.  That’s why there’s five weeks of training left, I guess.

Here’s a graphic showing hit or miss on the workouts over the past ten weeks. For the tempo and long runs, I included mileage and pace targets (not including the easy warm up and cool down miles for the tempo runs). The actual pace result is in parentheses:


Up Next

Here’s what is in store for week twelve:

Run #1: Track work. 3 x 1600m in 6:31. 400m RI between each
Run #2: 10 minute warm up, 10 miles @ 7:49/mile, 10 minute cool down
Run #3: 15 miles @ 8:04/mile.

Cross Training: Swim – 20 x (Kick 1 length rest 15 seconds); swim 20 lengths non-stop.

Feel pretty good about ability to meet this week’s runs.  If you look at the scorecard, though, I have not met goals for three weeks in a row at any point.  So, I’d like to make that happen this week.  The current weather forecast is in my favor for the long run.


Stay tuned and POFIFOTO!

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Week 7: BQ Training with Run Less Run Faster

Sep 8, 2013 by

Week 7: BQ Training with Run Less Run Faster

Here is my report for week seven of sixteen of my Outer Banks 2013 marathon training. I am following the 3:25:00 Boston Qualifier plan outlined in the book Run Less Run Faster.

To review past weeks, click here.

Short version: One of the best weeks yet.  Especially satisfying after last week’s tough time.

For the long version, keep reading.

Cross Training. Tuesday, Friday, Sunday

Successfully completed the two prescribed swim workouts. This week’s swims were the longest yet, but complicated.  Had to do three sets of free style like this: 1 fast, 1 easy, 2 fast, 2 easy, 3 fast, 3 easy, 2 fast, 2 easy, 1 fast and 1 easy. There was a one minute rest between sets.  Also managed to get in an hour easy bike ride on Sunday.

Grade: Pass

Run workout #1. Monday

Track time.  6 x 800m in 3:08.  Being the Labor Day holiday, I was able to go in the morning to beat the heat instead of after work.  I did a leisurely bike ride the 4+ miles to the high school as a warm up, and used the return trip as my cool down.


  • 800 #1: 3:07
  • 800 #2: 3:03
  • 800 #3: 3:07
  • 800 #4: 3:05
  • 800 #5: 3:08
  • 800 #6: 3:06

Grade: A.  Speed work is tough at 8am, but I did it.  I was just about out of gas on #6 and had to dig deep.

Run workout #2. Thursday

The dreaded run of the week. Wanted to redeem myself from earlier misses on five mile tempo runs. This run called for eight miles total: one easy warm up mile, then six miles at a 7:34 pace, then one mile easy cool down. This target pace for the five middle miles was 15 seconds slower than last week’s five miler target Here are the results:

  • Mile 1: 9:26
  • Mile 2: 7:41
  • Mile 3: 7:24
  • Mile 4: 7:22
  • Mile 5: 7:22
  • Mile 6: 7:46
  • Mile 7: 7:30
  • Mile 8: 9:32

Grade: A. Finally a solid tempo run and one of the best of the seven weeks, averaging  7:30 per mile.  The temperature at 7:00pm when I started was close to 90, but the humidity was no where as oppressive as last week.  Did a new route for this run as my son swam at the gym.  This allowed me to treat myself to a Chick-fil-a chocolate milkshake afterward.  That was good.

Run Workout #3. Saturday

A short long run.  Yea! First 13 miler since week one and a welcome break from the 18’s and 20’s.  Goal pace was ramped up a bit, though, at 8:04.  A crazy schedule for the week pushed the run out to Saturday.  This turned out to be a good thing as  I headed out early to temperatures in the mid 60’s.

A nice solid negative split run.  Broke the 8:00 mark for each of the last four miles, including saving my fastest mile for last at 7:46.  Ended up 1:44:26, an 8:01 pace.

Grade: A.

Week Seven Summary

A  good bounce back from a disappointing previous week.

Here’s a graphic showing hit or miss on the workouts over the past seven weeks.  For the tempo and long runs, I included mileage and pace targets (not including the easy warm up and cool down miles for the tempo runs).  The actual pace result is in parentheses:


Up Next

Here’s what is in store for week seven:

Run #1: Track work. Bunch of 400’s for the first time.  Two sets of 6×400 in 1:32, taking a  90 second rest interval been each 400.  Take a 2:30 break between sets and do it again.
Run #2: 2 miles easy, 3 miles @ 7:04/mile, 1 mile easy.
Run #3: 18 miles @ 8:19/mile.

Cross Training: Swim 25 minutes any stoke and kick board.  Much easier to keep track.

The long run looks to be the toughest for me this week.


Stay tuned and POFIFOTO!

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Week1: BQ Training with Run Less Run Faster

Jul 28, 2013 by

Week1: BQ Training with Run Less Run Faster

As promised in last week’s post, Madness and Methods, here is my scorecard for week one of marathon training.

In case you missed last week’s post, here’s the basic background:  I am using the training methods described in the book Run Less Run Faster to train for the 2013 Outer Banks Marathon on November 10.  Despite not quite meeting the authors’ suggested speed for a baseline, I am attempting to train for the Boston Qualifier time for my age group and break 3:25:00.  In this program, each week I will attempt three runs at the prescribed lengths and paces and complete at least 2 cross training workouts.

In the book, the authors actually refer to week one as week  sixteen, since we are sixteen weeks out from race day.  I will reverse the sequence, though, and call it week one.  Here’s how I did.  I’ll grade cross training on a pass/fail and I’ll give the run workouts a letter grade.

Cross Training. Tuesday and Thursday

Successfully completed two swim workouts.  This week’s swims called for doing 20 lengths of the pool with a kick board and resting thirty seconds between each length.  I also added an easy (low heart rate) 18 mile bike ride on Sunday to shake out Friday’s hard run.  Grade: Pass

Run workout #1. Monday

This called for 3 x 1600m at 6:31/mile with a 400m rest interval.    I did this at the local high school track.  You probably know 1600m is four laps around the track (1 mile). So do this three times, with a one lap break in between the sets. Results:

  • Mile 1: 6:13
  • Mile 2: 6:35
  • Mile 3: 6:40

Grade: B+ .  Started after work at almost 7pm. Temperature was close to 90 degrees and muggy.  Not terrible for South Carolina in July, though.  I did take an Accel Gel at the house, then rode my bike very easy to the high school for my warm up – almost 5 miles taking about 22 minutes.  I went way too fast on the first mile (don’t recall ever running a mile that fast), which cost me on the third.  The last 1/2 mile really hurt.  Need to be more consistent on the splits.  Tough to do on the track, though.  For cool down, I rode my bike back home.

Run workout #2. Wednesday

Run #2 called for a six mile run: two easy miles warming up, then two miles at a 7:03 pace, then two miles easy cool down. Results:

  • Mile 1: 10:07
  • Mile 2: 9:04
  • Mile 3: 6:56
  • Mile 4: 6:55
  • Mile 5: 9:45
  • Mile 6: 9:37

Grade: A.  As you can see, miles 3 and 4 were faster than target.  Afternoon thunderstorms in the area cooled the temperature to about 82 degrees.

Run Workout #3. Friday

The last run for the week called for 13 miles at an 8:19/mile pace.  Can’t say that I was too optimistic about this one. I was tired, and, unfortunately, Friday morning at 6am was the only time I was going to have to run in the coolest weather.  So at 5:55am Friday, I hit the road.  At this time of morning, it was still pretty dark, so I stayed in the safer roads of my neighborhood for the first few miles.  This meant some bigger hills than I’d like, but  I just looked at it as an opportunity for a negative split.  Sure enough, I had a really great second half of my run and completed it in 1:47:29, an 8:14/mile pace. Surprised myself on this one.

Grade: A

Week One Summary

Overall, week one went very well, and I’m off to a good start.  Physically,  I have some muscles talking that haven’t spoken up for a while, but I feel pretty good. If week one is any indication, though, this is going to be as tough mentally as physically.  Work, family schedules, and weather all add to the stress of hitting the workouts.

In addition to the workouts, I worked hard on hydration, drinking plenty of water each day and cutting back my soft drink and intake significantly.  I’m working on eating better, too, but that’s pretty tough.  I did manage to cut out my morning drive-thru hash browns.  Baby steps, I guess.  I’ve also made sure to ice down my troublesome left foot in the evenings after runs, even if it feels fine.

Up Next

Here’s what is in store for week two:

Run #1:4x800m in 3:08 (2 minute rest interval)
Run #2: 1 mile easy, 5 @ 7:49, 1 mile easy
Run #3:15 miles @ 8:34/mile
Cross training swims: 12 x (swim 1 length, rest 15, kick 1, rest 20)

Run #2 worries me the most this week.

Stay tuned and POFIFOTO!

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Race Report: Hewitt 5K aka Blind Squirrel

Jul 2, 2013 by

Race Report: Hewitt 5K aka Blind Squirrel

The Cause

Normally, my spring running seasons ends with the Jailbreak 5K over Memorial Day weekend.  After that, the warmer weather and higher humidity do a number on my already mediocre speed, and the number of events to choose from drops dramatically.  This year, I decided to make an exception.

A new race popped up, and it was for a very worthy cause.  The Hewitt 5K was held on Saturday June 29th at Chapin’s Crooked Creek Park.  The race was to help raise money for a pavilion at Chapin Baptist Church that is being built in memory of Parker and Haley Hewitt, two children who lost their lives in a car accident four years ago.  Sounded like a great reason for me to put myself through the pain of a possible hot and humid 5K.

The Race

So, on Saturday morning, I set out to Crooked Creek Park.  In an un-Greg like move, I decided not to research the course route beforehand.  I knew some high school cross country meets were held at the park, so   I suspected the course might have some off payment sections.  I arrived in plenty of time to get my packet and warm up.  The good news was the sky was overcast and it was a bit breezy.  Bad news was the typical South Carolina summer morning humidity was there. Oh, well.  This was still better than I expected.

I could see the finish line was setup in the middle of a soccer field.  So,  the off pavement suspicion was confirmed.  During my warm up, I also discovered some white arrows on the pavement and decided to follow them.  They took me down winding paved trails.  I suspected this was part of the course.  I  followed them far enough to encounter some short steep hills and turned around to head back to the start area. During my two miles of easy warm up, I didn’t have any trouble working up a sweat.  I was ready to go.

So, there I was at the start.  A month had passed since my last race, also a 5K, and even a PR.  I’d been training hard, and really wanted to improve on that PR, but I knew that would be tough this morning.  I felt twenty-two minutes would be a victory given the humidity and course.

I’ll try not to bore you with too many details.  Here’s how it went.  I went out pretty fast with the lead pack.  After a half mile or so, we hit those paved trails I had found in warm up, and I couldn’t keep with the lead group.  I found myself in no man’s land, running by myself.  A few minutes later, my watch beeped for the first mile split and it said 7:12.  That seemed too slow based on that start.

Unfortunately, my brain cannot turn off the number crunching, and immediately I knew that I’d need to run 6:30 mile splits the remainder of the way to get a PR, if my watch was indeed correct.  About then, I hit that first short step hill.  It felt like someone put the brakes on me. Then there were some more rolling hills.  With no one close behind me, I just decided to try to keep a steady pace.

About the half way point, we looped around a couple of baseball fields.  Here, I could glimpse behind me and saw a guy less than 100 yards back.  He looked like a possible age group threat.  My number one goal now  became to not let him pass me.   I was fading, and I hoped he would, too.  Eventually, we emerged from the paved trails and headed back into entrance to the soccer field.  My watch said 19:00, and I could see the finish line.

Unfortunately, we still had to loop back to the far side of the field and back.  The guy behind me was now very close.  I was fading faster than he was.  We rounded the last corner and a spectator yelled ‘He’s gaining on you!’ I don’t know if he was lying or not, but I did my best to pick up my pace and held him off, managing a 22:13.

Turns out he wasn’t in my age group.

Satellite View of the Route













Blind Squirrel Finds an Acorn

If you aren’t aware, most races have an overall winner then  break up the field into age groups, usually in 5 year increments.  This gives us regulars a chance to compete.  Five years ago, in my first 5K, I actually won first place in the mail 40-44 year-old group.  I didn’t really know what fast was in a 5K back then, and I thought my 23:30 something was not bad, until they announced the overall winner .  He was my age, but ran the race in under 16 minutes.    Oh.

Over the past 5 years, I had not placed first in my age group again.  I did manage a third that first summer, but since summer of 2009, I’ve been shutout.  Until now.  My 22:13 was good enough for 1st place in the male 45-49 group and 12th overall.  As a bonus, they didn’t give out medals, but instead gave sugar cookies with the race logo in icing.  Much better than a medal.

My Prize. It didn’t make it through the afternoon!










Oh yeah, Heather Hunt finished first at 18:37.  Pretty darn impressive for a 38 year old, I think. For the complete results click here: http://www.strictlyrunning.com/results/13hewitt.txt.



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Race Report: 2013 Columbia Marathon

Mar 19, 2013 by

Race Report: 2013 Columbia Marathon

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” That familiar phrase, borrowed from the opening of Charles Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities, pretty much sums up my 2013 Columbia Marathon experience.  Let’s break it down.

The Best of Times

The Event

  • Good expo: The expo moved from the Columbia Convention Center to the Columbia Marriott.  No big deal there.  Easy bib and shirt pickup.  Then I wandered around the vendor area and made a couple of impulse buys – red Headsweats beanie for the forecasted cold start and a pouch n attachment for my iFitness belt.
  • Shirt: Hands down best event shirt I’ve ever received.

Participants Shirts. Image Courtesy of Columbia SC Marathon.

  • Weather: Good weather.  Sunny and a cold 32 degrees at the start, but it was close to 60 degrees by the end.  Perfect running weather, unless you were dumb enough to wear a long sleeve shirt (guilty!)
  • Course change down Main St = two thumbs up.   This made the 2012 finish seem little league.
  • Another improvement over last year: excellent course mile markers, complete with balloons.

My Experience

First, a tip: On race days, set a backup alarm.  I woke Saturday to my iPhone vibrating and playing music.  I looked at the regular alarm clock, and it was on, but the local radio station was out, so no music alarm!.  Had I not set the backup alarm, I may have slept through the start.

Pre Race

I arrived downtown around 6:30am, right on schedule.  The start change was near the Governor’s Cup start and also near a place I once worked.  I knew the area well and easily found a parking space right where I wanted.  I started walking around to warm up, and returned to the car to get my coat.  It was 32 degrees and windy.  Brrr.  By 7:10 I had warmed up enough with a 2 mile walk/easy run and returned to the car to drop off the coat and long pants.  Off to the start!

I came up with this crazy strategy where I’d run try to run at an 8:20 per mile pace on all miles expect the 2nd pass up Trenholm Road, where I’d like by closer to a 10:00/mile pace. This is called banking.  This is a fairly universal no-no in long distance running.  It just doesn’t work. I was going to try it, though.  No one’s life or livelihood was riding on my performance, so why not?  If I could manage this, I’d end up somewhere in the range of an 8:30/mile pace and a PR around 3:45.  If I bombed, I could write it in my blog and remind others not to use that strategy.

First Loop

My marathon race history told me this strategy was too aggressive.  Race time predictor charts said my marathon times should be closer to 3:35:00, based on my 5K, 10K, and half marathon times.  I felt really good on the first loop, and ran it around 1:48.  I clicked my watch screen over to show pace per mile and saw that I was at an 8:14/mile clip.  Wow.  That  was too fast, I thought.  I was going by feel, at this point though, and I felt great.  My play list selection for this section said it all – Carry On by fun.  On I went.  Perhaps a better tune would have been the theme from Jaws.

The Worst of Times

So here it is at halftime of the big game.  The home town hero is up 30 points on the defending champs and the locals are getting excited.  The half marathoners are gone and I make my way back down Sumter Street and hang a left on Blossom Street.  Just as I head down the steep hill,  my mile 14 split sounded and the time shows 8:09.  This is the same hill at mile 12.5 or so of the Governor’s Cup.  It is nice to be going down this hill for a change, instead of cursing it going the other direction.

After bottoming out as we passed Maxcy Gregg park, I hang a right on Saluda Street and the sleeping giant that is loop two of the Columbia Marathon woke up.  And it was not happy with the butt kicking I had administered on loop one.  The Saluda Street hill hits me hard.  I felt like I was walking.  I managed an 8:52 split for the mile.   Earlier I had managed 8:24 on the mile that contained this hill.  Those extra 30 seconds seemed like 5 minutes.  My wheels were not just a little wobbly now, I had run over a spilled load of nails, and my tires had holes.  I started leaking air fast.

At this point, I told myself, ‘OK, that is not too bad.  The first really bad mile, but your overall pace is still around 8:15.  If you can manage 8:45 or better from here on out, then the average will be 8:30 and the goal will be met.’  So, on mile 16, I recovered slightly and managed 8:39.   Problem was, this section was fairly flat.  My body was shutting down.  In fact, miles 17  through 19 didn’t have any scary hills. I needed to get back on pace, but I could only manage 8:44, 8:41, and 8:58.  Then the last section of the Lake Katherine neighborhood decided to throw in a couple of sucker punches before Trenholm Road and knocked me back to 9:18 and 9:48 for miles 20 and 21.  If my run was the televised game of the week, the network would be changing to another game at this point.

Mile 22.  My arch nemesis, and I don’t have any fight left in me .  I’m staring up Trenholm Road.  My overall pace is still sub 8:30 per mile, but now the beast is just playing with me.  I try to keep the keep moving, but I have to succumb to walking and some sort of foot shuffle that probably doesn’t resemble a run.  At the aid station in front of Westminster Presbyterian Church, I ask a volunteer if I’m winning.  She looks confused for a second, then laughs.  Delirium has set in.  Miles 22 and 23 are a brutal 10:01 and 10:26.    Overall pace 8:38.  Fans are leaving the stands.

There’s one last downhill section during mile 24.  I try my best to push it.  Landscapers at a house on Gervais Street look at me like I’m crazy.  They may be right.  Mathematically, I still have a chance to beat 3:50.  At this point, I’m too hot and regretting the long sleeve shirt.  Despite the downhill and thinking I was moving decent again, I can only manage 9:46 for mile 24.

Mile 25 contains the last hill – a short steep quarter mile or so up Gervais Street before turning right on Pickens.  I have to once again succumb to walking.  During this hill, I have a sudden onset of nausea and light headedness.  I manage not to throw up or pass out, and  I’m coherent enough to realize I’m in trouble.  I tried to breathe deep and just make it to the top of the hill.  I have some water in my water bottle, but I need Gatorade with sugar.   I take a sip of my water and pour the rest on my head.

I turn right on Pickens and hope to see an aid station.  Not yet, but the course is now flat again, and I’m feeling better, so I try to run again.  Eventually, I see the aid station and yell out ‘Gatorade!’ as I approach.  The young guy is kind enough to ask something like “Blue or Purple?” “I don’t give a crap” is my response.   At least they laughed. I down the two small cups of Gatorade and keep on.  Mile 25 split: An awful 11:11.  Only about a mile to go.    I start running again, and a few blocks later I turn left on Richland Street.  Just one more turn and it’s straight down Main Street to the finish.

At this point, my finale song is playing, Top of The World by Van Halen (Live and Sammy Hagar version of VH, of course).  Unfortunately, I’m not going to make my 3:45 goal.  I turn on Main Street, and there’s just over a quarter mile to go.  Mile 26 split goes off – 10:32. I can see the State House dome and there’s a bit more of a crowd thanks to some Saturday morning street market. My playlist starts over, and I try to push it.  My calves are starting to feel like cramps coming on.   The cramps hold off, and I complete the final .2 in about 2:29, right at a 9:00/mile pace.  Someone hangs a finisher’s medal around my neck and guides me to a photo spot.  They snap two pictures, and I need a banana…

My final official time was 3:52:57, an 8:55/mile pace.  I finished 8th out of 36 in the 45-49 age group.  My first half was about 1:48 and the second half was 2:05.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

For complete results, click here.


The Collapse in Chart Form


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