Category Archives: Half Marathon Training

PR-ing the Purdue University Boilermaker Half Marathon

Today was the 3rd annual Purdue University Boilermaker Half Marathon. I signed up for this race last year right after running the soggy 2nd annual Purdue University Boilermaker Half Marathon. Today’s weather was a cool 47 degrees and overcast. If you are unfamiliar with the West Lafayette and Lafayette, IN area that surrounds Purdue University’s campus then let me tell you the course is a bit hilly.

The course starts out on the edge of campus near Ross-Aide stadium and heads out toward the Purdue golf courses. The first 5-6 miles are very pleasant with a few rolling hills and even includes a great deal of downhill grade running as you cross down into the Wabash river valley to the Lafayette side. Once into Lafayette you run around the downtown Lafayette area and then begin your trek back to the shores of the Wabash around miles 7-8.  It is very picturesque and filled with memories for those returning alumni, like myself, who spent our formative years at our ol’ Purdue.

Do you remember me saying a few sentences ago that you were running DOWN into the river valley? Holy hell, you have to get back to campus! Mile 8 to 9-ish is all uphill. You think a bridge would be flat. NOPE!  It looked flat from the other side! …optical illusion apparently.

Up until then I had been maintaining a nice sub 9-minute pace and feeling great! I was fueling on a strict schedule and running through the water stops without slowing down. I used the crush top cup method to pour water and gatorade down my gullet and kept running never breaking stride and surprisingly getting most of the life giving liquids into me without too much spillage.

That “last” hill felt like it went on forever and it took a lot out of me. We climbed and climbed and climbed. I passed many a runner who was brought to a walk, but I had trained for this hill as I run most all my treadmill runs at a 1% incline so I am used to maintaining pace on an incline.  By the time I was at the top of the hill I felt like I was moving so slow, but my Garmin was still telling me that I was well below a 10-minute mile pace even though I was over my 9:05 needed to come in under 2-hours. At the top of the climb we made a turn to take us over to the Purdue University hotel and through the heart of campus to head back toward the stadium.

Passing the 10-mile marker I remembered where the course goes next and I remembered I was mistaken on that “last” hill comment earlier. The course doubles back on itself to go back by the Purdue golf courses toward the finish line in order to avoid running up that enormously steep hill that is right next to Ross-Aide stadium.  In order to accomplish this the course goes up Stadium Avenue to McCormick Road, passed the fraternities near Slater Hill…yes, it’s called Slater hill because well, it’s a big hill…like the kind you can sled down in the winter time…with a couch if done correctly.

The good news! It’s not that long of a climb. The bad news! It’s steeper than the bridge I mentioned earlier. This time my Garmin told me that I WAS over the 10-minute pace for a short period. I caught more and more runners as many walked up that hill. At the top of the hill was the 11-mile marker. I had 2.1 miles to go on relatively flat terrain and I was about 95+ minutes into the race. I realized I could do 10 minute miles the rest of the way and still beat 2-hours!  However, I didn’t come here to run 10-minute miles so I pushed it to keep a pace closer to 9:20. After passing the 12-mile marker I enjoyed the last 1.1 miles. At about a quarter mile out three Fleet Feet guys passed me and I decided to stick with them. They were running an 8:22 pace which felt surprisingly good to me! I cleared passed the three as I sprinted to the finish looking at the clock right as I crossed the line.

The clock read 01:57:08.  I know a few more seconds will be shaved off since I wasn’t toeing the start line at the gun.

Afterwards I was prepared for the smile, but I was unprepared for the emotion as I’ve chased this sub 2-hour goal for a couple years through unbearable heat and more than one very chilly race. Today’s race was perfectly set with a cool temperature, a sun under cloud cover and otherwise dry conditions. I cannot be happier right now and I’ve already put my new PR medal in it’s place of honor on my PR medal holder!

In two weeks I have the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. This is a training run for The Dopey Challenge and I am excited to run it! Next weekend I will still do a long run of close to or right at 20 miles. Looking forward to it!

Happy Training!

Brian

It’s all for charity…

Last week someone (Matthew Thomas) over at Team DAWS, the charity dedicated to ridding the planet of the horrible genetic disease known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA for short, came up with the crazy idea of challenging myself and a friend of mine (Mitch Brannen) to a little fundraiser for DAWS to raise some cash for a good cause.

The Challenge:

This is a very simple event.

Assuming a certain threshold of fundraising is met Mitch and I will dress up and run as Anna and Elsa (From Frozen…but you knew that) during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend if people donated money.

After the fundraising goals are met, we will be dressed in full costumes that are being designed including a matching tutu or skirt. But who could forget complimenting makeup and a full wig to ensure authenticity…jeesh.

Donate money today and see us run around Walt Disney World in full regalia.  You never know what surprises may be in store.

What are the minimum donations for the two of us to run?

  • At the $500 total donation level, we will run the 5K in full costume.
  • At the $700 total donation level, we will run the 10K in full costume.
  • At the $1000 total donation level, we will run the Half Marathon in full costume.

When does the race take place?

  • Walt Disney World Marathon weekend is January 8-11, 2015

How do you know we ran in costume?”

  • Pictures will be taken along the way and posts on all of our social media including a Go-Pro video of the race!

Do you get a tax receipt?

  • Yes, 100% of your donation will be tax deductible and a receipt will come from DAWS.  

Upping the Ante: …but wait, there’s more…

If we raise $2000 in total donations, I have reluctantly agreed to shave my legs for the event…how do I get myself into these things? I keep remembering it’s all for a good cause.

Wait, it gets better!  Again at the same $2000 total donation level, Mitch will shave his head! No joke, we have video of him saying he would and you can see it here on my Facebook page!

Something for YOU the donor!

For every $25 you donate, you will be entered into a drawing for a free pair of new running shoes.  Donations must be made by November 30, 2014.  The drawing will be held on December 1, 2014.  Emails will be sent out to receive information on Brand, Style, Size, and Shipping Address.  Brooks, Asics, Nike, Saucony, and New Balance are all available.

I didn’t realize training for Dopey would make me so…well, you know.  Uh, happy to help out a good cause!

Happy Training!

Brian

Running Secret #262: Cycling Makes you a Faster Runner

You’ve heard it before. Cross-train, cross-train, cross-train, but you may not have the desire nor the equipment or time to do so…or at least that’s what you tell yourself. After all, how can you fit in cycling workouts along with your interval work, tempo runs, hill repeats, base mileage, LSDs, and recovery runs each week, right?  It’s a busy training schedule going for that PR or just trying to hit that new distance and they say you should get a rest day in there too or “run the risk”…see what I did there? …of over training.

Cycling however is a g-r-e-a-t, GREAT way to compliment your run training and will improve many aspects of your run. This is why if you see any current program I create for someone or just look at a plan that I’ve created for myself you’ll notice that I’ve put in at least one day of cycling whether it be a road bike, spin class or ye olde gym bike.

Here’s Why:

1. Mental Recovery

This isn’t usually listed as a cycling perk, but let’s face it, there are times when we need to take a break from running. Please hear me out before you start to warm up the tar and pluck the chickens. Running is a great time to think and solve the world’s problems, but there are times when we do dread going out that door with our kicks knowing that for the next few hours we’ll be pounding pavement. So let’s get a little variety to save our sanity and at the same time improve upon what we love to do the most, running, by spinning out a few revolutions in the saddle.

2. Improvement in Foot Turnover

If you are new to running or just haven’t done a lot of reading on running form then you may not know that increases in speed come from faster foot turnover, NOT by elongating stride length. What can help you with a faster foot turnover?  You guessed it, cycling. If you are hitting the bike try to go for a 90+ rpm rate and then build into a more difficult gear as you improve strength on the bike.

3. Works the Same Muscles in a Different Way

The primary muscles for the “power phase” of cycling are the glutes and quads.  On the “recovery phase” the primary muscles are the hamstrings and tibialis anterior on the front side of the lower leg.  The hip flexors are used at the top of the cycle going into the power phase while the calf muscles are used at the bottom of the cycle going into the recovery phase. So if you know your anatomy then you know these are very similar to the primary running muscles which include the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calf muscles and iliopsoas.

Therefore, you can work these same (or similar) muscles without all of the pounding of running so your joints will thank you for the occasional change of pace. I like to do a short bike ride at times putting in 5-10 miles on the bike before doing a run.  This is referred to as a “brick” in triathlon/duathlon training, but you as a runner can use it too!  This way you can get in the feel of a long run in less time….you still need to do long runs though.  😉

4. Active Recovery

Remember how you are supposed to rest occasionally?  Well this is 100% true.  You do need a day off now and again where you are doing NOTHING, but you may also choose on occasion to take an “active recovery” day where instead of laying on the couch all day (yeah right…I have yard work to do.) instead you choose to NOT run, but instead go for an easy bike ride.  I like to do this after a long run or any other run where I might have a bit of lactic acid build-up.  Just moving the legs helps to flush out the lactic and speeds recovery by improving blood flow in comparison to just resting.

The Dopey Challenge

Are you Dopey enough?  Of course you are!
Are you Dopey enough? Of course you are!

It’s already started. People are asking that very important question.

How do I train for the Dopey Challenge?

For many, the Dopey Challenge may be the closest they ever get to running an ultra marathon…it seems I may have said something similar to this about a piddly little race called the Goofy Challenge a couple years ago…I’m joking obviously as both are very much a challenge! However, now we can officially be Dopey!

An ultra marathon is defined as any distance beyond the 26.2 mile marathon distance in a single day, BUT most ultra marathoners will tell you that the respect of ultra runners start at the 50 mile marker and not a step before. Anything less is just a “marathon plus”.  The Dopey Challenge will cover 48.6 miles across four days while the shortest official ultra will cover a minimum of a 50K (31.069 miles) in a single day. However, I digress as this post is about the Dopey Challenge.

I’ve decided to post “unofficial” training plans for the Dopey Challenge for my personal use. I’m basing the plans off my experience from training for relays (64 miles), two Goofy Challenges, multiple marathons, half-marathons and other shorter races. My educational background is in Movement and Sport Science double majoring in Exercise and Fitness.

Disclaimer: You should always consult your doctor before beginning ANY exercise program regardless of previous experience.  If you want to use a plan posted here then it is your choice. It’s freely posted on the web and you use the plan at your own risk.

Here are some general guidelines to get you started before I post my training plans:

  1. Start now or as soon as you consult your physician.
  2. Don’t wait or only wait until after you consult your physician.
  3. Start slow regardless of previous experience
  4. Start slowly building your mileage to 50 miles per week over the next several months. (Dopey = 48.6 miles)
  5. Get yourself used to running back to back to back to back days with increasing distance. Start this process slowly and take a few months to build your base miles and consecutive running days.
  6. Cross train. Bike, lift, spin, row, swim, whatever, but do something more than just run and do it weekly until December.  Preferably cross training should use something else besides your running muscles.

Happy Training!

Brian

Indianapolis Mini Marathon Tips

The start of the Indy Mini
The start of the Indy Mini

It’s that time of year when close to 35,000 runners from nearly 50 states and multiple countries around the world are all training for the same reason, to eventually descend upon the The Circle City, aka The Racing Capitol of the World, aka Naptown, aka Indianapolis, Indiana to run the nation’s largest half marathon. Though there are other mini-marathon races in the US, the Indianapolis version locally known simply as, “The Mini,” is a flat and fast course that includes one lap around the Indianapolis 500 race course prompting some running race fans to drop and kiss the yard of brick from which the Brick Yard gleans it’s name.

I thought since this will be my sixth running of the mini-marathon and my 17th half marathon overall I would impart a few tidbits of information to “newbie runners” with less mileage under their belt. Some tips will be for the Indy Mini-Marathon while others will be generalizable to any race.

mini-tips:

1. If this is your first race then just enjoy it. You’ve trained to go 13.1 miles. Don’t worry about the finish line or the medal. That’s just a trade-off for the registration fee (and a nice one I might add!). Your feeling of success for setting a goal and  going the distance will long outlast the luster of any one medal.  You’ll never forget your first mini.

2. Packet pick-up is in the convention center so come downtown Thursday or Friday before the race and enjoy the buzz of downtown Indianapolis. There are plenty of local restaurants in which to dine and shopping galore both at the expo and in the Circle Center mall.

3. The mini expo is anything BUT mini!  Save time to be able to walk through the expo as it is LARGE. With Indy being the largest half in the nation a lot of vendors set up shop and you’ll find discounts galore for upcoming races around the Indianapolis area.  Stay and play!

4. If you are not staying downtown then arrive early on Saturday.  There’s plenty of parking as outlined on race website and in the packet, but thousands of locals still drive in so be prepared by arriving early.  It will appear as if there is no traffic UNTIL you are within a couple miles of the race THEN it will be gridlock as hundreds of drivers try to see what parking is left.  I personally park in a pay-for-parking location and walk 3-4 blocks to the corrals.  The reduced anxiety of not having to be in that line of traffic is well worth the $20. I’m happy to donate it to the racing cause!  Metered parking a little farther away is lots cheaper, but then be prepared to walk back after the race!

5. Keep a close eye on the weather for the Greater Indianapolis area right up to the day before the race.  I have ran the Indianapolis mini marathon in freezing sleet as well as in blistering heat and humidity on the first weekend in May.  You never know so come prepared for anything! It is common for the weather leading up to the week before the race to be completely different than the weather for that first Saturday in May.

6. Entertainment abounds the race course from local high school bands and cheer squads to cloggers, line dancers, DJs, and local music talent. I’ve even witnessed a “beer stop” once you are on the home stretch on the backside of the Indy 500 Raceway!

7. Make restaurant reservations WELL in advance if eating downtown!  Remember, largest half marathon in the nation.

8. I sort of mentioned this before, but there is NO race day packet pick-up.  This is the largest half marathon in the US so there is no way to handle THAT many people Saturday morning.

9. The Indianapolis 500 Track is about the half way point so you are on the back half of the course once you exit the track.

10. If you are new to racing then consider this race to be a potential annual event for you.  It’s flat & fast and a good place to PR!

Have a great race in May!  I’ll be there with my WDW Radio Running Shirt on as usual!

Happy Training!

Brian

A Week in Review

What a great week for training! I am making a concentrated effort to drop another 15-20 pounds by April 20th for my next full marathon. So far so good as I am down ~6 pounds since my initial weigh-in 2 weeks ago. Here is an update on my training from this week culminating in my long run today!

A Week in Review:
  • Monday: Cycled at the gym for 10.25 miles for high RPMs to work on foot turnover
  • Tuesday: Interval training.  6 x 800m at an 8:44 pace
  • Wednesday: 2 miles walking
  • Thursday: Tempo run for 6 miles + 2 miles warm-up & cool down.
  • Friday: Insanity Workout – Insane Abs
  • Saturday: 13.1 miles at MP+15sec
  • Sunday: Rest

Hard to believe I completed the Goofy Challenge (Unofficial) just five weeks ago and now I’m back into full marathon training for April. I love running!

Happy Training!

Brian

2012 Indianapolis Mini Marathon Recap

There are certain things in life you will never be able to out run.  Some would cite death and taxes as the inevitable, but to add to this short list I would also say you cannot outrun time, police radio and the heat during any length marathon as many discovered on Cinco de Mayo this past Saturday for the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

The Stats

According to the local paper the men’s top finisher this year had the slowest time in two decades due to the heat at 01:05:08.  The women’s top finisher came in about 10 minutes later at 01:15:22 and then was removed from the finish area by stretcher due to heat exhaustion. My own experience also saw the effects of the heat. I was feeling fine 5-6 miles into the run and then realized my pace had slowed drastically around mile seven on the Indy 500 Motor Speedway 2.5 Mile Track. Overall, I am happy with my time of 02:19:52 which was still good enough to get seeded for next year’s race. The heat slowed me down by 14 minutes as compared to my 2011 PR.

This year I started in Corral D.  To give you some perspective the Indianapolis Mini Marathon is the largest half marathon in the United States selling out the last 11 years. The 35,000 runners come from all 50 states and quite a few other countries to run the flat and fast Indy course. I started the run at a good pace hoping the heat wouldn’t bother me as much as I actually like running in the heat, but while the heat wasn’t so bad for me ranging from the upper 60s to upper 70s the humidity was over 90% with a dew point of 68 making it difficult to dissipate heat from your body. Otherwise the day was very nice and I even felt comfortable on the run once I slowed my pace to a speed that was more manageable for the day’s weather.

Recovery

After the race I continued drinking Gatorade and water, ate a banana, a cookie, and two fruit snacks offered at the finish. I knew I needed to keep nutrients and fluids flowing to my system to combat the effects of the heat.  Once I got back to my car I had my traditional EAS Chocolate Myoplex Shake. My family had a BBQ that afternoon and I indulged a little for a race well run and to kick off the summer right!  I kept drinking fluids the entire afternoon to work on rehydrating my body.  Many people stop because they already have had a bottle of water after the race.  Please don’t make this mistake.  The best indicator that you are rehydrated is when you finally urinate a light yellow to clear color after the race.  For me that didn’t happen until over 11 hours after the end of the race. This tells me that I was very dehydrated after the race.  It took over 11 hours to even feel the urge to go!  Once I got home I wore my Zoot Compression Socks to help the blood flow back to my heart and to assist in vacating any lactic acid build up in my lower legs. Planned recovery efforts can make a big difference between enjoying the days after a race and suffering for several days. I’ll take Sunday off and then do a light workout on Monday most likely hitting a short 2-3 mile run and a light full body weights workout.

Next Race

My next run is the Hendrick’s County Park 2 Park Relay where I will join five other teammates to run 60-miles to raise money for the local Hendrick’s County Park system.

Moving Forward

This coming week starts a ramp up to my ultra marathon training which will officially begin in two weeks. I’m excited to start training for this new challenge!

Happy Training!

Brian

Goals…have more than one.

A wise person once said that it is important to write down your goals. This same person said that it is also important that you write them in pencil.  I have a goal of breaking the 2-hr half marathon mark this year and I still plan to do it yet. One thing though is that I am uncertain whether that will happen on May 5th. This realization does not deter me from trying, however, all evidence points to me having slowed down a bit since last year or rather I’m just peaking at a different time.  Today I completed the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon Training Series 15K in 1:33:34 (unofficial). I am happy with this time, but it is over 5 minutes slower than last year’s time of 1:28:06 (official time). So, there are 12 months in a year and this one isn’t a third of the way done yet. In another words, I have plenty of time!

Including the warm-up and cool-down I ran an extra 3.4 miles beyond the 15K today and I feel great!  So it’s interesting to see that while I have slowed a bit in 12 months my endurance is high. Today I am 4-weeks away from the mini-marathon. I know what I have to do for training.  It’s all written down…in pencil. 🙂

Over the course of the next 4-weeks I am concentrating on cutting weight and maintaining my speed and endurance.  One easy way to get faster (to a point) is to run lighter. I am very much enjoying learning more and more about how my body responds to training and seeing the effects on a weekly basis.

I’ll keep you all updated on the mini marathon training over the next 4-weeks and then I switch to my ultra training plan for the remainder of the year. I am so looking forward to this next training cycle!

Happy Training!

Brian

Happy Trails to Me

I was looking over my race schedule for the year and realized it was kind of wimpy so I went in search of a few races to beef it up. Realizing I’ve never done a trail run event I decided to sign up for my first at Eagle Creek State Park. The 3rd Annual Planet Adventure Eagle Creek Half/Full Trail Marathon will be held Saturday, August 4, 2012. I’ll do the half marathon since this is my first significant trail run.  I’m excited to start training for trail running after the Indianapolis Mini Marathon is complete. Of course, I’ll need a pair of trail running shoes and some bug spray for this new adventure!

I also added a 15K which is a part of the Indy Mini Marathon Training Series and a 5 mile race which to be honest is just for fun!  The Wine at the Line 5 mile race has free wine tasting and pizza at the end of the run and takes place at Mallow Run Winery. What more could you ask for?  Also, this is a day before my birthday so what better way to celebrate than to run 5 miles, drink wine, and eat pizza!?!?!?!  I’m still looking to run a few more 5K/10K races throughout the summer and possibly one other more significant distance race toward the end of the year, but that is yet to be decided.

Until then…

Happy Training!

Brian

And hope springs forth…

Okay so the half marathon is still 7+ weeks away, but I had an awesome 6-mile Tempo Run this morning at a pace that’s 15 seconds faster than my HM PR. I even pushed it to sub-8min pace for the last half mile. I know I could have done at least one more mile, BUT…STICK TO THE PLAN!

Basically I felt really good and I can now see the possibility of a PR at the Mini Marathon. My goal for 2012 is to break the 2-hour half marathon mark, but I don’t see that happening in May. I DO see the potential for a PR though.  My current PR is 02:05:49 so if under 2-hours doesn’t happen in 7 weeks then I’d be ecstatic with A). Any PR, but B). Really want to break 02:05:00 so shaving an extra 50 seconds off would be enough to make me happy…it’s the little things sometimes!  🙂

Happy Training!

Brian