Week 4 has the same schedule as week 3 – five easy runs and two off days. After this, we get into the different tempo and speed work sessions.
The first part of this week was in Tampa/Clearwater, Thursday and Friday in San Antonio, then the weekend back home.
When I’m in Clearwater, I run the Ream Wilson trail (see map at the bottom of this post), but on this trip it looked like they had finished the hike and bike trail across Highway 60, also called Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. It is probably 6-7 miles across for a 12-14 mile round trip…which is quite a bit longer run than desired 4 weeks into the program. But the part I ran on was a great trail (even though they were still putting some of the barriers and rails up) so I will definitely run it again for a longer run next time I’m back in town for business.
I must comment on the Podcast I’ve started listening to during running. I’ve always listened to TodayInIOS podcast to keep up with iOS related topics, but Rob from that podcast listed his favorite podcasts, and Hardcore History has become my go-to running audio. Currently I’m listening to his description of WWII, a long four-part series called “Blueprint for Armageddon.” If you like history, I cannot recommend it more highly.
Plan total (5+3+3+5+6) = 22 miles
Actual total (4.5+5.35+6.56+4.13+5.32+6.7) = 32.6 miles, quite a bit more than called for, but I’m feeling good on the long easy runs.
Next week, week five, starts something other than “easy runs” with a Tempo Run on Thursday. It is also the last week with Monday off, and since it falls on the Labor Day holiday, I’m good with that.
Week 3 has the same schedule as week 2 (previous week’s post here) – five easy runs and two off days. And both of the Hanson’s strategies (half and full) have the same distances (4 miles four days and 5 miles on one day).
This week moved from April into May, and in April I racked up 110 total miles. I feel like the longer distances are easier, and assume it is because I’m going through the program a second time. But when I look back at the numbers, I did run quite a bit in the months before the first Hanson program.
The first time through the program, leading up to the December 7 SA Half Marathon, monthly totals were:
May 2014: 52 miles; June: 88; July: 100; August (first month of the program): 97; Sept:: 152; Oct: 187; Nov: 191: Dec: 76
January 2015: 32 miles; Feb: 44; March: 68; April (first month of the program): 110
I did a lot more “warming up” before the program last time, trying to make sure my knees could handle the six days out of seven running. And I did crash a bit after the first time through the program, reflected in the low January and February numbers.
I’ll update this periodically.
The previous week’s post (week 2) is here.
Total recommended: 21 mi (4+4+4+4+5 easy)
Actual: 28.7 mi (all easy), a bit less that last week. Last Hanson training week 3 was 21.9 miles
The week 1 post is here.
Week 2 is five EASY RUNs with Monday and Wednesday off on both the Hanson Half and Full/Beginner training plans. This is the same basic schedule through Week 4 on both plans. Week 5 adds a tempo run on Thursdays. Week 6 starts the “run 6 days out of seven” putting a easy run on Monday and speed work on Tuesday.
My previous Hanson’s training started in August and ended in December, all in Houston…i.e., it went from too hot to run to good weather.
This time, I’m starting in April, running in Houston through the end of June, then running in Denver in July and August.
That previous week 2 post had some charts on running in the heat, which I won’t need this time (unless we get one of those Houston June heat waves) but you can review them at the link.
Total recommended: 15 mi (2+3+3+3+4 easy)
Actual: 29.4 mi (4.34+5+3.5+4.52+4.01+8.01 easy) (last time through – 22.5 miles in week two)
Next week’s schedule (week 3) is a total of 21 miles (5 easy runs, two off days) on both plans.
For those interested, the introductory strategy post (A Hopefully Logical Approach to the Insanity of Running up a Mountain) is at the link.
As I described in that post, I’m going to follow the Hanson’s Half plan, but lengthen some of the runs where I have time. Since the Hanson beginner Marathon plan is very similar to this idea, I’m going to track that plan (found on Hanson’s website) as well.
Total recommended: 10 mi (3+3+4 easy) but the scheduled didn’t start until Wednesday
Actual: 26.5 mi (3.5+3.59+4.51+4.16+4.01+6.75 easy). Last time through the plan, 20.5 miles in Week 1.
Next week’s schedule (week two) is a total of 15 miles (5 easy runs, two off days) in both the half and the full/beginner schedules. I plan on keeping to my 20+ miles per week, and will match up with the Wednesday off days.
The one word email response I received from my brother, he of the many marathons include Boston and others, states the reaction of most when I inform them I have signed up for the Pikes Peak Ascent (PPA).
He is, as usual, probably right.
For background, I just set a PR in the San Antonio Half, which I used for my qualification run for the PPA. At 53 years old, setting PRs is not difficult, since I didn’t start distance running until basketball and rugby killed my knees.
And I truly love hiking in the mountains (see the Grand Canyon app for perilous adventures).
So this is just combining the two, right? A half-marathon with an uphill hike.
After the PR I was looking for the next mountain to climb (poor pun intended).
We shall see.
Any other runners who read this and have run the PPA, and have further suggestions or comments, I would certainly appreciate the advice.
This is certainly not a race that one can just “go out and run” (well, a much younger and faster person might). A familiarity with the course will certainly help. There is a nice description on the web site and several folks who have run it have posts. This is the most relevant description:
From the Manitou Springs City Hall, the races proceed west on Manitou Avenue for 0.42 miles to Ruxton Avenue. At Ruxton, the course turns west for 0.8 mile to (and past) the Cog Railway Depot to Hydro Street. At this point there has been an elevation gain of approximately 300′ for an average grade of 4.5%. At .23 of a mile past Hydro Street, or 1.45 miles total, the asphalt ends, and the course continues on a dirt/gravel road which parallels Ruxton Creek. At the end of the dirt/gravel road, there is a fenced area, and the course stays to the north side of the fence before meeting up with a small trail on the right. This trail, commonly referred to as the “spur trail,” connects to Barr Trail in .1 of a mile. From this point to the summit at 14,115,’ the course follows Barr Trail. The width of the trail will vary as will the grade (steepness) and surface (footing).
From Hydro Street to No Name Creek is 3 miles with an elevation gain of 2,150′ for an average grade of 13.4%. From No Name Creek to Barr Camp is about 3.3 miles with an elevation gain of 1,450′ for an average grade of 8.3%. This is the fastest section of the course and even includes several slight downhill sections roughly 1.25 miles above No Name Creek. Barr Camp to the A-frame shelter at treeline is another 2.6 miles and 1,800′ in elevation gain for an average grade of 13.1%. From the A-frame to finish/turnaround (~14,050′) is about 3.1 miles with an elevation gain of 2,050′ for an average grade of 12.4%
Altitude – I am, by definition, a “flatlander.” There’s air down here near the Gulf of Mexico. The elevation here in Tomball is 187 feet above sea level. The ascent starts in Manitou Springs at an altitude of 6,300′ (1,920m) and the summit is 14,115′ (4,302m). My new math tells me there is a big difference between where I am normally training and where the race is.
There is a great albeit technical article by Tony Eckels written specifically about this challenge and for this race. In it, he uses the graph here to show the amount of oxygen your body is used to (100%) and what it will experience at the start and finish of the Ascent. Basically, since I am near sea level, at the start of the race I will be sucking in 80% of the oxygen my body is normally accustomed to, and at the Peak a whopping 61%.
This could suck (or suck wind).
So I have a couple of choices to face this challenge:
This third selection is actually easier for me. My work requires an airport and wifi (and an occasional change of clothes) and my wife’s BFF lives just south of Denver. Several of the articles I’ve read state a couple of common rules for training at a higher altitude: (a) don’t run hard once you get there, as it takes your body a few days to produce more red blood cells to carry the oxygen; and (b) it still takes a while to adjust. So we’ll head to the area a few weeks before the race, curtail the hard part of the training for the first few days there, and hope that helps.
Elevation and grade change - The other part about being a flatlander is…well…it’s flat. And I am normally the runner who curses any hill put on the track (are they just trying to slow us down?). The normal course that I run is along a bayou, with an elevation change of maybe 20 feet when I cross the bayou.
The relocation piece toward the end of the training will help. But I’ll also add in a bunch of quad work, as suggested in several of the articles, like step-ups (one guys say find a car bumper to step-up on to prepare for the “Golden Stairs” at the end; sounds up-lifting) and knee lifts with leg weights after my flatlander running. Just gotta be sure and protect those knees.
Time duration – Though this is a half-marathon in distance, the time it will take makes it more like a marathon. The suggestions for predicting your finish time are to double your half-marathon time…and, if you are a flat-lander, add 30 minutes. My recent half time (which is my PR) is 1:47:44, so doubling is about 3:30ish. Add a half hour and that’s four hours…so I put in 3:50 as my projection.
I really enjoyed the Hanson Half Marathon training program I used for the SA Half (blog posts for the entire 18 weeks start here). Not only did I PR, but I avoided injury, and did not feel completely wiped out after the race.
The question for the PPA is: train for a half (which is the distance) or train for the full (which is the time)?
Unfortunately I have to work for a living. The Hanson Half program was a pretty large time commitment, and the Hanson full program is even more so. Therefore my current plan is to use the same Hanson Half program…though I may either (a)crank up the mileage on the easy runs or (b)use the “Advanced” plan (vs. the Basic plan I used before).
The 18 week program will begin April 12.
Trail surface – this is a trail run that changes surface types many times. Because of past knee problems, I’ve changed my gait and my shoes, and now run in Newtons. Newton makes a trail shoe called the BOCO, which I plan on adding to my rotation. I may wait until I get to Colorado to add it in, as that will still give about six weeks of break-in period for the shoes.
Dehydration – I’ve been to Denver for work, and always need to drink more water. Humidity down here in SE Texas is almost always high, quite the opposite of the location of this race. I have a bad habit of not drinking enough water, and need to get in the habit of over-hydrating during training here in Texas, and carrying that habit over to Colorado. The first part of the training (mid-April through June) I’ll do here in Houston where it will be quite humid. I’ll carry more water and work on a habit of over-hydration.
Weight – I like beer….a lot. But, if I have to make a choice between carrying five extra pounds up Pikes Peak or cutting back on the beer….well, it will be a tough decision. My previous PR at the New Orleans Half, I weighed 169. My current PR at the San Antonio Half in December of last year, I was about 175. And most of the poundage is beer weight, many of them blamable on Packers games and the Untappd app (and me drinking the beer…but let’s not get personal). The PPA is before Packers season starts, and I just hit my 1,000th unique beer on Untappd. So I’m out of excuses.
Lack of tunes – the PPA is a “no earphones” run, for obvious safety reasons. This should not be a major issue, though I do run while listening to music or podcasts. I’ll have to get used to listening to the sounds of my own panting for breath.
Yoga, Chi and other esoteric add-ins – when I did Karate, I was much more flexible. And I believe that flexibility helped avoid injuries and to recover sooner after workouts and runs. My beautiful wife has me going to yoga class with her. Not only does it seem to be helping with my flexibility, but also helps with core strength. Hey, if it works for Aaron Rodgers and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it can’t hurt.
I’ve also been experimenting with using the Small Circulation of chi while running. Mostly this involves keeping my tongue pressed up against the roof of my mouth and being mindful of the chi passage. This is hard, as it gives me one more thing to think about (gait, breathing pace, etc.) while running. I’m not certain if this will be helpful, as the usage of the chi while running is mostly in the legs, and the Small Circulation is all upper body. But the chi circulation path that goes through the top of the mouth and through the tongue is key. I will at least concentrate on that part.
I’ll continue updating as the training goes, and would, as always, appreciate any comments, advice and support. The first week’s training post can be viewed here.
Race day. After 18 weeks following the Hanson’s Half Marathon training program (and two months of running before that to determine if my knees could handle running six days out of seven), it was time to put the wheels to the test. I’d targeted this race for several reasons: it was familiar territory, as I went to high school and college in San Antonio; and this course kicked my butt in the heat three years ago…granted, it beat down several runners in that heat wave. But it was good motivation.
My target was a new PR, a sub 1:50 half. My previous fastest (1:52) was in the New Orleans half in early 2012, when I was a spring chicken of 50 years old.
After running this race twice (my first half marathon ever with Bert in 2009 and with my brother in the heat in 2011), we knew not to try the “commute” route, as neither the congestion of being dropped off nor the park-n-ride from the AT&T Center options were enjoyable, relaxing or in any way conducive to a good pre-race routine. So I traded one of my free night coupons for a night at the Mansion del Rio hotel on the river, within easy walking distance of the starting corrals.
A not-so-quick (everyone had the same idea) pasta dinner at Paesano’s across the river, and in bed by ten led to a decent night’s sleep.
Whether it was because of the fact that I signed up for this race very early on (since I was planning an 18 week running program around some race) or because my target time was sub 1:50, i was assigned to corral 2. We walked down Commerce street from the hotel, a nice warm-up walk in the 50 degree weather. Rain had been in the forecast, but a front that came through not only made the temps perfect, but cleared out any chance of rain. We started out under a few clouds. There was a train at the St. Paul’s Square outside the Alamodome that was decorated for the season…and yes, in spite of the pre-race anxiety, I did stop for the photo op.
Now we all know that the corrals are more like “guidelines”, and all that really matters is the time when the chip on your shoe crosses the starting mats. But the setup for the race was “skinny” to say the least…when we came up from Commerce Street, we hit corral 8 or 9, so we had to wade north through tons or runners and watchers. This took a while, longer than it should have – there was limited walking space on the side of the corrals, and a lot of that was taken over by poorly placed trash cans.
We were close to my spot when the starting gun went off. No matter….but my wife (who did outstanding work as gear pack sherpa and cheerleader) didn’t know the “guidelines” rule, and got anxious. I freaked her out by taking a side detour into a porta potty (light on the feet!), popped back out…and we were off.
Some gent at the start, not a runner, was running beside me holding a large video camera and “interviewing” me….I have no idea who he was…could have just been a guy who like to jog holding a large camera.
In an earlier post, I discussed (and over thought) my race strategy. In the end, I listened to my big brother (there’s a first time for everything), and “trusted my training.” During the tempo runs, I’d trained to maintain a cadence of 180 steps per minute. Before changing my stride to accommodate a bit of knee arthritis, I ran with long strides, with much fewer steps per minute. I’d used a metronome program for my iPhone to help me keep pace during the tempo runs. Though I thought it might drive me slightly more bonkers, I had the metronome pinging in the background through the entire race…and, in the last few miles, it certainly was a big reminder to keep on pace.
Except for the one hill (did I mention the hill? Trust me, I will), the course ran through many familiar places and old haunts. Of course , after heading north from the congested confines around the under-utilized Alamodome, we headed east towards downtown and ran it by the Alamo (see the sure-to-be Oscar worth Alamo running video below). The course zig zagged roughly north out of town, past new condo and townhouse developments, and went through the site of the old Pearl Brewery, now home to shops and cool book stores. It then turned up N. St. Marys, home to many of the bars and pubs that, as a college student at Trinity University, I heavily invested my hard earned dollars. After crossing under 281, I laughed out loud, much the the confusion of the runners next to me: we were passing by Bombay Bicycle Club, the bar where after final exams my friends and I held our near infamous “bar exams”…and now I was running by it.
Then we got to the one hill on the course. To a flatlander like myself, who training in Southeast Texas has to run the gullies to get any hill training, this was a large elevation change (in reality, it was a little over 100 feet). I’d driven this hill almost everyday commuting to Trinity for several years, and my old car could barely get up it. But the Trinity faithful lines the course, many of them wearing oversized Trinity Tiger paws which made for a nice fuzzy high five…about a hundred high fives…thanks for the support and motivation.
After winding through the Trinity neighborhoods, there was a nice straight shot down Main Street back toward downtown – about a three mile shot that at mile 10 dumped us out somewhere in the King William district, amongst all the old buildings. I’d set myself up on the runner tracking so I could see the official times (my lovely wife was texting them to me as well). At mile 10, I needed to be under 84 minutes to hit my goal; I was at 82:28, so I had a minute and a half to spare….not a lot of slack.
My brother had suggested I check myself at 10 miles to see if I could push the last 5K. It was a great idea, but I contented myself with keeping to the 180 beats per minute pace…and I’m glad I did, as maintaining that pace (which was around 8:13) the entire way was a lot by the time we got to the Finish.
The Finish area was straight, for a change. The last layout of this run had you turning a corner and seeing the Finish right in front of you. With this layout, there was about 3/4 of a mile straightaway to the Finish banner. I pushed with what little I had left to be certain I was under the 1:50 banner, and was done.
Below is the oscar-worthy Alamo-while-running video.
I did indeed meet my race goal, as per the stats below. The fact that there were 48 other old farts in my division that were faster is a source of amazement and motivation. My wife looked at the clock time, and was ecstatic that I’d beaten my goal…then we got the text with the chip time, and the party was on.
After 18 weeks of training, using the Hanson Half Marathon program, the targeted half marathon (the San Antonio RnR Half) is tomorrow. During training, my targeted race pace has been to finish in under 1:50 (my previous best is a 1:52). At a steady pace, this would be about an 8:23 pace.
Steady paces are not negative splits, though. All the folks I’ve spoken with, all the material I’ve read, talk about negative splits as the strategy for setting PRs. The theory behind it is to do the first half so that you have gas in the tank for the last half. The Hanson’s program talks a lot about training you to “run tired” which would tend to lend itself to negative splits.
With this in mind, several strategies are possible:
This last one is from my brother, and it makes sense: if you’ve been training your body for 18 weeks (longer for me) to run at a certain pace, just get into that rhythm, check at halfway and at ten miles, then push it for the last 5k/3miles.
As long as I am near 55 minutes halfway and just under 84 minutes at ten miles, this strategy will work.
As far as other race day planning, unlike the last two SA Halfs I’ve run, we will not be experience the thrill of driving to the event from my mom’s house north of town. Not only is this a royal pain, but it is too hectic and taxing; when I’ve had my best times, I’ve gotten a hotel room close to the start line and walked over. It’s quite a bit more calming. I used one of my free nights to get us a hotel within a mile.
Weather is shaping up to be near perfect – low 50s, low humidity, small chance of rain. It may not be cool enough for me to wear my special PACKERS running outfit (the receivers gloves make it sharp), but we will see.
The race has one hill, a hill I am quite familiar with as it goes up to my alma mater, Trinity University. I drove up that hill many times, and it is a steep sucker. But the downhill slope on the other side will be nice. Short stride up, longer stride down.
I’ve been getting into the habit of eating the same meal before runs to get my stomach used to it: a scoop of peanut butter and a yogurt (plus coffee, of course). We’ll match that pre-race tomorrow.
Thanks to all who have sent in support through this blog or various other social media. All that’s left is the race…and the next one…and the next one…
With all these miles, I’ve been really wearing down my shoes, even though I’ve been alternating them. I got a new pair on Newton’s (Sir Isaacs) on Wednesday, which should give me enough days to break them in before race day.
This week the strength run is a 4 x 1 mile on Tuesday, tempo run on Thursday is 5 miles. As we go into the taper, there is no Long Run on Sunday. Total target mileage 40 miles.
Plan total: EASY (5+3+3+5+6+8) = 30 miles + TEMPO 5 + 4 x 1 miles = 40 miles
Actual total: EASY (5+3+3+5+68) = 30 miles and TEMPO 5 miles + 4 x 1 mile (5.5 miles) = 51.25 miles
Next week, week number 18, is the TAPER and RACE DAY!!!!
Race day is not far away – received my confirmation sheet for the Dec. 7 San Antonio RnR Half. This is the last hard week before the taper (48 miles this week, then 40 and then 37 race week). Extended this week to 51 miles, most I’ve done in one week in many years.
This week the strength run is a 4 x 1.5 mile on Tuesday, tempo run on Thursday is 6 miles. It also has a 12 mile Long Run on Sunday. Total target mileage 48 miles.
Plan total: EASY (5+3+3+5+6+12) = 34 miles + TEMPO 6 + 4 x 1.5 miles = 48 miles
Actual total: EASY (5+3.25+3.25+6+7.25+13) = 37.75 miles and TEMPO 6 miles + 4 x 1.5 mile (7.5 miles) = 51.25 miles
Next week, week number 17, has a 6 x 1 mile Strength run (the bottom of the ladder), goes down to five miles on the Tempo and there is no Long run. Total is still 40 miles, the start of the TAPER!!!!
This is the “IS THE TAPER WEEK SOON?” and “I HATE TREADMILLS” post all rolled into one.
This week the strength run is a 3 x 2 mile on Tuesday, tempo run on Thursday is 6 miles. It also has a 10 mile Long Run on Sunday. Total target mileage 47 miles.
Plan total: EASY (7+3+3+6+5+10) = 34 miles + TEMPO 5 + 3 x 2 miles = 47 miles
Actual total: EASY (7.25+1.7+1.5+0+7.5+11) = 30.3 miles and TEMPO 5.5 miles + 3 x 2 mile (7 miles) = 41.5 miles
Next week, week number 16, has a 4 x 1.5 mile Strength run (going back down the ladder), stays at six miles on the Tempo and the Long run goes back to 12 miles. Total is still 48 because the easy runs are all lengthened. One more hard week and then we get to TAPER!!!!
And yes, since it is Packer’s game day, below is what I wore on my long run. If it is cold enough, that will be the SA Half dress code.