Blog # 3: March Edition
The Road to Orlando: A Monthly Running Blog Chronicling my Training and Racing Leading up to the U.S. Marathon Olympic Trials
This installment of the blog covers my training and racing for the whole month of February and the first week of March. The end of my blog recaps how I first got into running. I also have details at the very end for a speaking engagement I have for a running clinic at Xcel Sports Medicine. For those of you who are short on time, here is a quick recap of the last five weeks:
Completed my ninth consecutive week of running 100 or more miles
Finished my speed phase of training and shifted my focus to 5K specific training.
Won the Frostbite 5 Miler in Centerville on February 12th
Ran a personal best mile time of 4:15 at a college track meet at Wittenberg University on February 18, finishing 2 nd out of 53 runners. My previous best time of 4:28 was set in 2009 (not a typo).
Won the Bockfest 5K in Cincinnati on March 4th , setting a personal record of 14:38 on a long(3.15 miles) and hilly course. My effort might have also broken the course record. My previous best 5K time of 14:42 was set a decade ago in 2013. This race marked the first of five races in the Ohio Elite Racing Series competition between Dayton Track Club Elite, Columbus Running Company, Cincinnatus Elite, and Dave’s Racing Team (Toledo).
One day after racing the Bockfest 5K, I won the Little Miami 10 Miler in Yellow Springs for the second consecutive year.
Continuing to serve as a volunteer coach for the track team at Tippecanoe High School.
Frostbite 5 Miler in Centerville
After two months of not racing, I was itching to toe the line with competitors and don the Dayton Track Club Elite singlet again. This was a local, low-profile race. The day before I did a 22 mile long run with Charles Rodeheffer where we did 4 miles at 5:09 pace, followed by 2x2 miles at 4:57 pace with a 1 mile job between sets. So I entered this race on tired legs. I paced Paul Krebs through four miles and then pulled away in the final mile. I don’t enter these races to flex on the local competition. I genuinely try to help pace the competition to a good time, and running a workout on tired legs helps to improve my fitness. This race gives out a huge rotating trophy that has the names and times of past winners engraved into the side. Very cool!
Mile at Wittenberg University
I have rewritten my running resume since turning 32 years old by setting personal records in the mile, 5K, 8K/5 mile, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon. It feels very rewarding to see my hard work pay off. I am especially proud of my mile race at Wittenberg. While the result is not as impressive as my times at longer distances, the fact that I can run a fast time in a short distance event while training for the marathon gives me goosebumps. To be honest, I was intimidated about racing such a short distance and initially didn’t feel that I could be competitive in it. With some encouragement from friends, however, I decided that I might as well give it a go and see what I could do. It was exhilarating to compete against 18-23 year old college students. Minutes before the race I could sense another competitor sizing me up and looking at my racing singlet. He asked me who I ran for. I understood his curiosity—he knew I looked too old to be in college and wanted to know what the heck I was doing in the fast section of the mile. I told him that I ran for Dayton Track Club as a post-collegiate runner. When he asked me what my goal was, I told him that I wanted to demolish my personal record from 2009 when he was probably 6 years old. He got a good chuckle out of that.
For those of you who have never been to an indoor track meet, the energy is electrifying. Spectators, coaches, and other athletes were able to watch the race on the turf field inside the track. There were people literally inches away from lane 1 who were shouting encouragement as we ran by. With this indoor track being 300 meters (in comparison to a standard 400 meter outdoor track), we had to run 5 and 1/3 laps. I raced purely off feel and didn’t wear a watch because I didn’t want to waste mental focus for such a short race.
I started aggressively to avoid the elbowing and jostling for position that normally accompanies the beginning of a race. Someone called out 61 seconds for the first 400 which is way too fast, but I settled into an appropriate pace shortly after that. For the first three laps of the raceI was in 4th or 5th place. The lead Cedarville runner was pacing his teammate to try to qualify to D2 Nationals in the mile which would require a time of 4:05 or faster. The pacer dropped out after 3 laps, and his teammate who won the race fell just short of the qualifying mark by running 4:06. So it really was a battle for second place because a 4:06 mile is not quite in my wheelhouse. With 2 laps (600 meters) to go, I surged into second place. I knew the guys I passed had better raw foot speed and could easily beat me in a 100 meter sprint finish, so I tried to do what I’ve historically been good at, which is an extended kick. I maintained my form and focus and powered through my strides as best I could and was able to hold on for a respectable second place finish, less than a second in front of third place.
Bockfest 5K in Cincinnati
I really shouldn’t be telling you this, but my current phone password is based on my 5K personal best time from college a decade ago in 2013. I had an up and down collegiate career, but I’ve always been proud of my 5K time. The fact that the time is incorporated into my password tells you that I didn’t anticipate ever improving upon that mark for a long time. Rest assured that I will be changing my password and it will have no association with running.
With this event being part of the Ohio Elite Racing Series, I figuratively circled this race on my racing calendar as an important one—so much so that I took the prior two days completely off running to ensure I was well rested. Most of the runners from the different clubs know each other and follow each other on Strava and social media. It is fun to interact with them at races and social events, but we most certainly have a friendly rivalry, and bragging rights were on the line for this race. To put into perspective how competitive this race was, there were 8 runners who ran under 16 minutes last year when the event was not part of the elite racing series, and 24 runners accomplished that feat this year.
I didn’t have a time goal going into the race. I knew there was a big hill approximately halfway through the race and that we would get the corresponding downhill during the final mile. My goal was simply to win, and my plan was to relax and tuck in behind people the first mile and then make a decisive move to claim the lead shortly after that. I quickly discarded this strategy 10 seconds into the race. What I hadn’t factored in was the possibility that someone very fast outside of the four running clubs could be in the race. While past results give you some indication of how competitive a race will be, you never know who is going to show up. In this case, it was a senior collegiate runner at Eastern Kentucky University, a Division I school. His teammate even volunteered to pace him the first mile to help him stay on 14:20 goal 5K pace. So the two Eastern Kentucky runners jumped out to the lead, and I made a quick decision to go with them which was a little nerve-wracking because I knew nothing about them nor what they were capable of. I told myself to relax, focus on staying in close contact, and not to count myself out of contending for the win. My first mile was a 4:39—4 seconds behind the leaders. I fell a few seconds farther back as I climbed the 100+ foot hill around the halfway mark, but I was able to catch up once the course flattened out around the 2 mile mark.
The last mile was downhill which suits my strengths. I don’t know why, but I’m pretty speedy with downhill running. I made a surge into the lead just to see how the Eastern guys would respond. The Eastern guy who was being paced went with me and stayed on my shoulder until the 2.9 mile mark which is when I sensed him falling off a bit. Although I only won by 3 seconds, it was not a sprint to the finish. I pretty much just maintained my speed during the final stretch. The course ended up being a tad long at 3.15 miles, so my time converts to about a 14:24 effort. Splits—4:39, 4:46, 4:30, (4:46 for the final 0.15). I’ll get the opportunity to run a track 5K or two in the upcoming weeks at a college meet and hopefully will improve upon that mark.
Little Miami 10 Miler in Yellow Springs
Later in the day after Bockfest I ran a 20 mile long run which put me at 31 miles/50 kilometers on the day (the second time I’ve had a 30+ mile day during these 5 weeks). The next morning I jumped into a local 10 mile race. My motivation for doing this race was to do a workout that simulated the muscle fatigue during the late stages of a marathon, and my muscles were definitely sore from the day before. I’m doing my best to simultaneously train for a 5K and a full marathon. The course was an out-and-back on the bike path. The first half was a slight downhill, thus making the second half a slight uphill. I paced with friend and training partner Matt Lemon during the first half and managed to maintain the same pace during the second half despite running solo and on an incline. My official time was 52:59 which is 5:18 per mile. Matt joked with me after the race that he purposely did not run with me during the second half so he wouldn’t push me to break his still standing course record from 2019.
The official term for the style of training that I do is called reverse linear periodization. After a base building phase I transition into a speed phase focusing on 200, 300, and 400 meter repeats around mile race pace. After the speed phase my workouts become more endurance focused with longer reps at slower paces. I progress from 5K workouts, to 10K workouts, to half marathon workouts, and then finally marathon-specific workouts. The main focus during the last five weeks has been 5K training. I’m very methodical with how I approach these workouts. A standard 5K workout for me is 6x1,000 meters at 5K pace, and I usually do some 200 meter repeats afterwards to maintain the speed that I built from the previous training cycle. I choose to do 6 repetitions instead of 5 to better simulate the 5K race fatigue because I’m taking rest breaks between each 1K repeat. There are several ways to make a workout harder from one workout to the next: run faster, increase the number of repetitions, increase the distance of the repetitions while maintaining the same pace, or decrease the rest. I like focusing on
decreasing the rest and maybe getting a tad faster on each rep. So my first workout was 6x1K with 2 minutes rest. The next workout was 1:45 rest, then 1:30 rest, then 1:15. I plan to do this workout one more time on one minute rest. Being able to hit the same paces or slightly faster from workout to workout on shorter rest is proof that my fitness is improving. I have been doing these workouts at Wittenberg’s indoor track with Charles Rodeheffer, Ashton Hall, and Matt Lemon as my main workout partners.
My best long run workout during this stretch was a solo 18 mile run where I did 6x1 mile on the Tipp City track at half marathon pace (averaged 4:55 per mile) with 75 seconds rest. Splits: 4:59, 4:58, 4:57, 4:55, 4:52, 4:46. Doing this workout by myself gave me a lot of confidence leading into Bockfest. Normally Charles would do this workout with me, but he was racing a half marathon that weekend (He ran an impressive personal record of 1:06:34). While I much
rather prefer to do workouts with others, being able to run a good workout by yourself helps
tremendously with building mental toughness.
My plan is to compete in the 5K at two collegiate outdoor meets and then shift my focus to the Toledo Marathon which is on Sunday, April 23 rd . My next race will be on Friday, March 17 th at Miami University. After that I’ll be racing on Saturday, March 25 th at Cedarville University.
How I got into running
It would have made a lot more sense for me to write about how I got into running during my first blog, but here we go. My dad and mom (Jim and Amy) both helped to ignite a passion for sports at a young age. My parents met at Wright State University and were teammates on the cross country and track team. In fact, I was born when they were seniors in college. Despite the extra life stressors with me being born, they both continued to run. My mom ran a marathon during the offseason while being pregnant with me, although she didn’t know it at the time. My dad was the captain on the team, and his teammates nicknamed him “pops” that final year. My mom went on to become a health and physical education teacher, and my dad became an acquisitions project manager at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
During my elementary and middle school years, I played travel baseball and basketball and would go to summer camps to improve my skills. Even though my dad was the coach for most of these teams, I like to think that I was somewhat talented. I was always extremely competitive and at times a sore loser. I can remember being on a coach-pitch or tee-ball All-Star team. I was positioned at the pitching mound, and I had my glove over my face to hide the fact that I was crying because I was so distraught at our team’s lack of success during a game where we were losing 16-1. The umpire had to pause the game because I was at risk of getting injured. My dad called out to me and asked what was wrong. I removed the glove, tears rolling down my face, and responded, “We suck!” My dad had to remove me from the game (LOL). I’m still competitive in many aspects of life, but I have learned how to graciously accept defeat.
While my passion at the time was in baseball and basketball, I knew that I had some talent in running from the annual mile time trial at gym class during the Presidential Fitness Challenge. Year after year I would win those races, and I would win other races during Field Day on the last day of school, or at the local Mum Run Festival race. I also remember my mom taking me to a fun Ghost and Goblins road race where you dress up in a costume and run a 5K. Once I got to middle school I joined the cross country and track teams, but I continued playing basketball and baseball. Unfortunately, I stopped growing in 7 th grade, and my peers simply became better than me at the popular sports. I stand at a towering 5 feet 8 inches. During my freshman year of high school I had to make a decision on whether I was going to focus exclusively on running. My parents did not try to influence my decision—they were supportive either way. Ultimately I decided to focus on running. I was good enough to make the high school teams in baseball and basketball, but I would have most likely sat on the bench a majority of the time. Many runners can relate to this story.
I had early success with running, and my parents and family were my biggest supporters. My
teammates thought it was funny that I would have a big entourage at each race. I am so thankful for my parents and family for helping to instill in me the tenacious mindset and strong work-ethic that I have today. While there is no denying that I have inherited some natural talent, I admit that it frustrates me when others imply that I’m simply good at running because my parents were runners. As the years have gone by, I haven’t sensed that vibe as much from others as they became more aware of how dedicated I am to improving and maximizing my potential.
I cannot thank Runners Plus enough for their continued sponsorship. A good rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles. With me averaging about 100 miles per week, I need a brand new pair of shoes every month. Runners Plus takes care of that for me. I remember living with my in-laws for 6 months before moving into my new home. They are not runners, and I can only imagine what they were thinking when they saw a brand new pair of shoes arrive at their front porch each month. They probably thought I had a spending problem or was a shoe collector.
I also cannot thank Xcel Sports Medicine enough for providing physical therapy sessions that keep me healthy and give me the confidence to train more aggressively at a high level. For the most part I have stayed injury free, but I recently had a minor groin injury pop up that they have helped me work though.
Speaking engagement at a running clinic at Xcel Sports Medicine
What? Nutrition talk by Dr. Paul Krebs. Training talk by me. Injury prevention and management presentation by Xcel Physical Therapy Staff.
When? Thursday, April 20 th at 6PM
Where? Xcel Vandalia Clinic. 830 Falls Creek Dr, Vandalia, Ohio 45377