Mediocre Marathon ‘Training’

I’ve been somewhat preparing for the Bayshore marathon through the winter and into the spring. Realistically, my workouts have been more suited for 5k to half-marathon training but since I was coming off of injury, I think any workouts were better than no workouts.

As a result, I’ve had to scale back my goal expectations. Various calculators like the Daniels VDot and McMillan estimate I should be able to run under 2:50 even off of some of my more average 5k and 10k times, and something like 2:55 based off of last year’s Bayshore half time. I know I haven’t done equivalent marathon training to last year’s 5k and half marathon training so I’m hoping that I can run sub-3:05 to qualify for Boston, and would like to run 2:59 or so. I tell myself that if I qualify for Boston, that will be my first marathon on a ‘real’ training cycle.

I’m still not sure sub-3 is realistic. My long runs haven’t been long enough or frequent enough and I haven’t done enough marathon pace work or tempo runs. My longest run was 16 miles this past weekend. Tomorrow, I’ll do my last tempo run of 5-6 miles, probably around half marathon pace or just under it. After that there is nothing left to do. We’ll just have to find out what happens.

I could take the easy route out and just run this thing for fun but I’ve already done that for too many races this year. My fitness and weekly mileage may not be where I think they should be but that isn’t an excuse to shy away from running what I’m capable of for where I’m at now.

I’m going to shoot for a sub 3 hour time anyway, it could be a hilariously bad experience or it could go really well. If I don’t try, I’ll never know.

Winter and Spring 2014

Hopefully this is the last catch-up post I have to write!

Track?! Nah.

I left off the last post talking about how I was recovering from injury. While this is true, I wasn’t able to quite make it back into full shape in time for indoor or outdoor track season.

I was able to start doing some track workouts and long runs again after the beginning of 2014 with minor soreness in my foot resulting from them. I got more diligent than ever in stretching and rehab exercises and continued to make slow but distinct progress in the healing of my plantar fasciitis. I was extremely out of shape when I started doing workouts but they soon got at least a little better. I began thinking that maybe I could run a decent mile on the track before refocusing my efforts on training for the Bayshore full marathon that I happened to sign up for early in the year.

While I never quite ran what I would call a decent mile, I was able to run a 5:11 at an indoor meet at MSU. This isn’t close to my PR at all but at least I was able to start racing again! I also raced a 3k that went very poorly at Illinois – 10:49 for that. I later ran 18:10 for 5k at the NIRCA outdoor track nationals meet without pushing all out during the race. That’s one recent race that I can be happy with. Still not near my PR but it’s beginning to show some fitness – especially given the limited mileage I’ve been able to run.

Ultramarathon?! I guess so.

Somewhere between signing up for Bayshore and the end of the track season, I got the crazy idea to sign up for a 50k trail race. Over distance training for the marathon, right?!

A little over a week ago I completed this race. I ran 5:15 for the 50k, it was a trail race so the distance wasn’t exact. I enjoyed this race a lot – the trails were great! It was very painful after 20 miles – for context, I crossed 20 miles at just under 3 hours. I’d love to do this race again – but better trained. I knew going in that it would be  rough given my little winter training. My longest run was something like 14 miles and I hadn’t done many trail runs because of the harsh Michigan winter. Despite that I still gave it a go! I ended up 30th overall which wasn’t quite what I was looking for but was still good enough to win a cool clear-glass mug!Photo: 26 miles down, 5 to goMe, 26 miles down.

And another photo of the medal and the mug:Photo: So this morning I ran 31+ miles through the woods and when I got done some random people handed me this cup. Strange.

Onward to a Full Marathon!

My racing for the spring season doesn’t end at that 50k. Just 4 weeks after my first ultra, I’m still scheduled to run the Bayshore full! I’ve been focusing on trying to recover quickly enough from the 50k to get one more long run in before it’s time to taper for the marathon. That’s a tight schedule and I’m hoping it gives enough time.

My goal is to run a sub-3 hour time and qualify for Boston. We’ll see how that works but I’m telling myself that 20 miles in 3 hours on the Poto trails last weekend were pretty darn close to 26.2 in 3 hours on a flat road course. Only time will.

And Beyond:

After Bayshore I think I’ll take a little time away from long distance running and focus on building mileage again with some 5-10k races. And GLR, can’t forget that!

Then I’ll be moving to SF soon after that for a new job! Exciting! Maybe I’ll return to the trails when I get back to California.

Summer Running Recap 2013

This post has been a long time coming… and has morphed into a recap of all running I did between summer and the end of the year in December

Summer 2013: In which I learn about trail running, run more miles per week and per day than ever before, have some crazy trail running adventures, and become injured.

Summer Training

I’ll start with my summer training. I picked my training back up after taking a little time easy after the Bayshore Half and began to ramp up the mileage again. It was a little more difficult to do this than expected: I had a few nagging aches and pains despite the time off and moving to San Francisco for the summer on a new work schedule disrupted my running a bit, but overall, I was pleased with the ramp up period.

I was able to start hitting 40-60 mile weeks again fairly quickly. My goal for the summer was to ramp up to consistently higher weekly mileage than I had done before – I wanted to run 80 mile weeks. By the end of July, I had run my first 80 mile week. That was exciting! More on that week in a bit.

Training was going well. I was enjoying my internship and enjoying my running. I was hittings the mileage hard to have a great last NIRCA cross country season. What happened?

At the beginning of the summer training cycle I started using new shoes for some of my runs. The Saucony Mirage 2, I actually really love that shoe and it took a beating this summer and was still in great shape.

There were a few problems though, mostly my fault. The first was that I probably ramped up the amount of mileage I was doing in the new shoe too quickly, especially since it’s way less of a shoe than my normal super supportive Asics. Next, while I wasn’t doing a lot of running on the San Francisco hills, I WAS walking up and down an extremely steep hill to get to the bus each day. One of the steepest in the city, I’m told. While this isn’t really a big deal, it probably didn’t help my already too-tight calves. Lastly, I started playing weekly games of Ultimate after work with some other interns. While that was a lot of fun, I played barefoot much of the time and I think that also contributed to my situation.

In the end, it all culminated into an injury. It was relatively minor at first but progressed to the point where I couldn’t put any weight on my foot in the morning before I finally accepted that I needed to stop running. Plantar Fasciitis. Fun times. I’ve learned my lesson as I’m still dealing with it.

Summer Races and Adventures

Over the course of my summer in California I  met some great people and had some fantastic adventures, all thanks to running!

I was convinced to go race Table Rock with new friends who were into trail running. I did the 10k while they ran the 27k. This just happened to be at the end of my first 80 mile week.

It was a great race and I had a lot of fun. Going in I knew that there was a crazy hill at the beginning of the race but I was confident that I could compete for the win – and the possibility of a course record. For context, nobody has gone under 60 minutes on the 10k course. The winner was able to set a new record of 60:07 which was a few minutes faster than the previous record. I didn’t really know what I was getting into but still managed to eek out a 68:26 which was good enough for 4th place after I took two wrong turns. What an introduction to trail racing that was!

As far as racing goes, that was the only serious race of the summer for me – and turned out to be one of the few races I ran seriously for months after.

Ultras and Mountains and Glaciers, oh my!

I did manage to have a few other running related adventures. On a whim, I agreed to pace and crew for my friend Lucas for part of his first 100 miler since one of his other pacers had to back out last minute. This was an interesting experience for me and Lucas ran a great race (and won)! I had a lot of fun and this was my first introduction to ultras.

I could write much more about that day but I’ll just say that running on the trails in the Marin headlands was simply fantastic and running through those hills with no light but a headlamp was both eery and peaceful at the same time. one of the fantastic views during the SF 100 miler

Later in the summer that same group of us went to Alaska and did some running. Through the woods and in the mountains and even up Exit Glacier.

Exit Glacier!

This trip was essentially the end of my summer running adventures. After this point I started trying to rehab my foot a bit because I realized that I would have not even a small part of my cross country season if I didn’t attempt to take care of it.

I started taking days off and biking instead. I started stretching more. However when I got back to Ann Arbor I got caught up in getting in shape for cross country again. I began running higher mileage again, did a trail half marathon for fun, and did the first track workout of the year. The next day I couldn’t put weight on my foot – I had to accept that it was time to take more drastic measures.

I eventually started going to physical therapy. Through I wasn’t told I had to take off completely, I took about 3 weeks off and then began running maybe 20 miles a week again. This didn’t completely heal my foot but I was able to run. It wouldn’t hurt while running but still got rather tight after runs. Uneven ground such as trails and grass was even worse than flat pavement.

In the end, my lesson was that I didn’t listen to my body when it was hurting and then was too stubborn to do what was right. As a result I missed out on both cross country and track. I ran some races but was doing them non-competitively. Thankfully, now I’m well on my way to recovery.


All said, by the end of 2013 I had run 2246.9 miles. To reflect a bit on 2013 and some of my running goals for the year: The only main goal that I achieved was to complete my first (and second, trail) half marathon. I did that at Bayshore. The other two goals of sub-17 and of running a 100 week didn’t happen partially due to my inability to train.

Some of my secondary goals were a sub-36 10k, 3000 miles for the year, and to finish a marathon. None of these were completed either. I was on pace for 3000 miles until I had to reduce training volume in the late summer. Hopefully in 2014 I can run a few more total miles for the year than in 2013!

Sencha Tea

This week when I was at Sweetwaters (a common occurrence), I tried some Sencha tea as it was their tea of the day. I liked it. I looked up more information about it and apparently the taste varies based on the temperature of water used to steep it which is really amazing to me.

P.S. I’ve been really busy with school but I have some running related posts from my adventures this summer queued up to go out soon!

Bayshore Half Marathon Race Report

This weekend was finally the day I’d been training almost six months for: the Bayshore half in Traverse City!


The Training

I began base building at the end of December after taking time off from Fall cross country / road races. I was consistently hitting 50 and 60 mile weeks with a weekly tempo run. By mid February, I was consistently hitting 70 mile weeks with down weeks in the mid 60 range usually. At that point I mostly transitioned from tempos to weekly indoor track workouts with MRun because running workouts with people is better. I maintained that mileage through outdoor track season which I competed in, and then just a couple more quality weeks before getting to Bayshore. The week leading up to Bayshore was probably among the worst of my training weeks ever – I never felt fresh or healthy and the small nagging injuries didn’t seem so small anymore.

You can view my training long for more details.

The Race

We woke up early. Very early. The shuttle from our campsite to the race’s finish area left at 5am so I was up at around 4:30. I ate a poptart when I woke up and then about an hour before the race had a granola bar. When we got to the race’s packet-pickup/staging area we then had to take another shuttle out along the bay to the half marathon’s starting point (it’s a point to point race). It was a pretty cold morning and we got to the start line too early to start warming up so it was kind of cold standing around. When it was FINALLY time to start warming up I just did some light jogging for about 10 minutes and then changed into my flats and did just a few strides to make sure they were tied tight enough. When I got to the start line I finally saw the rest of my friends on MRun!

The start was a bit weird since they had to synchronize with the marathon that started 15 minutes earlier and then we were off! The first mile I was left wondering if I was really on pace since it felt so easy – I was right on pace but almost none of my training miles felt quite so easy as that.

For about the first half of the race I was right on target of staying between 6:00 and 6:10ish with splits of 6:05, 6:08, 6:06, 6:11, 6:14 through mile 5.

About 5.5 miles in I started slowing down a bit and it also happened to be about the same time that I got stuck in no-man’s land with nobody to run with. It wasn’t that I was dead or even felt that tired but my legs were heavy and I didn’t know how I should be feeling and was worried about crashing later on at mile 10 or 11 so I just tried to keep my effort up. The number of “Go Blue!’s” that I got from wearing my MRun singlet from both spectators and marathoners once we crossed paths with them was astounding and helped me keep going. I even got a “Go Blue!” from the 3rd place marathoner!

Splits for miles 6-12: 6:31, 6:29, 6:29, 6:43, 6:46, 6:42, 6:41

I wouldn’t say that I ever felt good during this time but I never felt exhausted either. I guess I’d say I felt pleasantly exerted. After how I felt for the last 1.1 miles and the day after, I now know that I could have probably pushed these miles much more.

Right at the 12 mile mark my friend Caspar caught up with me. We picked it up for the last mile and I told him we were going to catch the guy that was up in front of us (who had passed me earlier). My 13th mile was my fastest mile with a split of 6:04. After I picked it up for that mile I knew that I had been going to slow for the second half of the race – I felt like I could have hung on at that pace for another few miles at the finish.

I ended up finishing with a time of 1:23:57. It wasn’t quite in my A-B goal range of 1:18-1:20 but I’m not disappointed with it either. My fallback goal was faster than 1:25 and I did just that. In any case, it left me wanting more.

The Analysis

I’d say that I ran the first half of the race very well. I went out conservatively and felt pretty good because of it. I now know that I could have hung on at that pace for the rest of the race but this one was a learning experience. A number of friends told me they dropped about 5 minutes between their first and second time racing a half. That’s exactly what I intend to do next time I do one – even though I don’t quite know when that might be. Some people are trying to convince me to do the Detroit half in the Fall but I may just want to focus on cross country then instead since it’s my last chance to race cross country with MRun.

I ended up finishing in 28th place overall and 3rd in my age group. I’m reasonably happy with my result but not completely satisfied. I just keep reminding myself that I’m still less than a year in to training competitively again and that I don’t have that aerobic base from years of running high mileage in anymore. I’ll improve with time and patience.

The Aftermath

After the race we hung around downtown Traverse City for the day and even went to the beach! It was a fun day involving pie and other delicious food. The day after the race we packed up camp and headed home. When I got home I did what I planned to be an easy 5 miles for recovery around argo (which just so happens to be my last run in Ann Arbor until I get back there from San Francisco in the Fall). It started off nice and easy but I ended up picking up the pace for every mile with the last two miles in the 7:00 to 6:50 range. I guess I felt pretty good by the end! Afterwords I felt well enough to go play a couple hours worth of volleyball and frisbee with some friends (and even biked there). It was fun but was also yet another sign that I could have run harder during the race. I just never got that sore after the race – in fact I felt better immediately after the race than I did during most weeks of training towards the end of the cycle.

I’m now going to take a week off of running (maybe try to squeeze in a long bike ride or two before I fly to California on Friday) and then the next week will just be easy running every other day. After that, I’ll jump right back into training! It will be time to start thinking about cross country season and I intend on taking full advantage of summer training! I’m hoping to run more than I ever have with a peak of high 80s or low 90 mpw to try and have the best season possible.

Winter Training Recap



Now that we’re leaving the cold months and entering the final stretch of my training for the Bayshore half, I thought I’d take a look at my winter training.

Weekly Mileage
My weekly mileage since late Fall. I’m very pleased with my ramp-up after some rest. That most recent week is still in progress and should be in the 55-60 mile range…

Early in the winter through early March I got some very solid base miles in with a few encouraging early tempo runs. I’ve managed to keep my weekly milage above 50 for every week of this year with the average closer to 60 miles per week. So far I have only taken one day of for the year. I also managed to hit a new weekly high of 75 miles a few weeks ago.

I had been trying to avoid racing for a while but sometimes it’s just too hard to resist. I ran the Ice Cube 10k in February and then the Chili-Heart 5k later that month. It was early in the year still and I mostly used those races as tempo efforts. I ended up coming in 1st place for both of those races and won some cool trophies:

Finally, I have been putting in some good workouts with MRun through the cold weather on the indoor track. We recently moved back to the outdoor track and I could not be happier – as nice as it was to do speedwork all winter, it was rough on my hips and legs.

I also was fortunate enough to be able to participate in Race Across Michigan with MRun which was a 24 hour relay that we held that started in Detroit and ended in South Haven that we used as a fundraiser for the special olympics. It was an incredible experience and worth the lack of sleep and many miles run – I ran 18 miles across 3 runs that day including a 13 miler. Some others ran even more than that breaking 20 or 25 miles for the day!

The past two weekends I raced some track meets with MRun racing the 5k. Neither of those races went particularly well but they were my first two times racing a 5k on the track. I ran 17:56 at our meet with MSU and then 17:49 this past weekend in Indiana at NIRCA track nationals. I also ran a 4:52 1500m after my 5k at NIRCA but that was more for fun and I didn’t even bother wearing my flats for the race. I went out in a 70 second 400 and just decided to hang on and see what I could do after going out hard (on purpose).

What’s next? The next two weekends, I will race twice more. This coming weekend I’ll race  the Martian 10k which was a race I also did last year when I was barely in shape – this year I hope to go about 36:30s or even sub 36 if things go well. I’ll use it as an evaluation for my half marathon fitness since that will be just under half marathon pace – if I can’t hold that pace now then there are some serious issues with my half marathon goal. The following weekend I’ll race another 5000m on the track at EMU with MRun. It’s a varsity track meet but I’ve been told that it’s still possible that we’re competitive. Either way, it should be a cool experience and I hope to finally break that 17 minute barrier in my 5k.

After those two races, I’ll refocus on training for my half. I’ll have 5 weeks until Bayshore and will be getting rid of much of the speedwork and transitioning back into tempo runs and workouts at half marathon goal pace. I’d like to do a few more 4-6 mile tempos at pace and one time do a 3×20 minute workout at goal pace (6 minute pace). If I do well in that workout then I’ll be very confident in my goal for Bayshore and if not then maybe I’ll start out the race with a pace 5-10 seconds slower than that and try to hold that and maybe work down to a faster pace if I feel good later in the race…

That was my winter in a nutshell! I’ll be passing 1000 miles for the year in another week or two which puts me in a very good place to hit my goal of 3000 miles for the year!

Ice Cube 10k Race Report

Today I drove up to and ran the Ice Cube 10k with some fellow a2runners (they actually did the half). The highlights are that I took first overall with a time of 38:12. Also, I got a really awesome race award. It was handmade and now I have a collection of unique race awards (including the one from my first win)!

This is my second ever race win and my first race of the year – looks like things are off to a great start!

If you want to read more details, I’ve posted a more in-depth report here:


Open Run Log

Since getting some extra time over winter break I was able to dig up a project from earlier this year. I’ve posted a few previews of my progress on Twitter over the past few days – but today I’m ready to open up the site for others to test and use.

Open Run Log is a website that I built to use as a training log. I’ve built in some auto-generated graphs and have ideas for other things in the future like goal setting and tracking, public profile pages and sharing, custom graphs, or other fun things. It is at a point where I felt comfortable switching to it for tracking my runs and so today I imported my old training log into the site so that I didn’t lose that data. It is only going to improve from here on out and I’m very excited by the possibilities! (Yes, I’m a data nerd when it comes to my running log.)



So why not use one of the many other run tracking websites? Because I didn’t want to miss the chance to mix my two passions (running and coding). Also I was excited about all the different ways in which I could analyze run data in the future so having control over the code and data was important to me – and I wanted to give that freedom to others as well which is why I made the source code available. I think that projects like WordPress and ThinkUp provide great software and have a great model of making both the software and code available to anyone interested and I wanted to do the same.

If you give it a try, be sure to let me know what you think!


2012 Race Review

I wanted to take some time to reflect on my year of racing, it was prompted by me finding the data for this tweet:

(and, yes, pun partially intended)

This is mostly going to focus on late Summer through Fall since that’s when I was the most dedicated and began to start reaching for goals I’ve had for a long time. Who doesn’t love data?

First, let’s look at those 18 races: Color=PR

Date            Race                                                 Time              Pace
1/5/2012     Super 5k                                           21:44:00       7:00:38
2/29/2012   Leap Year 4 Miler                             26:51:00       6:42:45
3/11/2012   Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5k         20:20:00       6:33:32
3/24/2012   Passion for life 5k                             20:54:00       6:44:30
4/14/2012   Martian 10k                                      42:53:00       6:55:00
5/26/2012   Bayshore 10k                                   42:06:00       6:47:25
8/11/2012   Run Thru Hell 10 miler                     1:15:20         7:32
8/26/2012   Run For the Corn 5k                        19:28:00       6:16:46
9/16/2012   Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo 5k       18:18:00       5:54:11
9/22/2012   Michigan Fall Classic 5k                  18:54:00       6:05:48
9/29/2012   Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational 8k  31:05:00       6:15:15
10/6/2012   Run Scream Run 5k                        17:57:00       5:47:25
10/14/2012 MSU Spartan Grand Classic 5k      18:47:00      6:03:32
10/27/2012 headless horseman 5k                    17:19:00      5:35:09
11/10/2012 A2 Turkey Trot 5k                            18:23:00      5:55:48
11/13/2012 Wayne lightfest 8k                           30:15:00      6:05:11
11/22/2012 Detroit Turkey Trot 10k                    37:34:00      6:03:32
12/1/2012   Holiday Hustle 5k                            17:12:00      5:32:54

That last PR is the one I’m most proud of both because it has been a goal to improve my 5k since high school and because it compares most favorably against my other PRs. (It’s my “best” race)

Additionally, I ran a number of new race distances this year. I ran my first 4 mile race – but was just getting back in shape then and that distance is not too common. I ran my first three 10k races (and improved on each one – arriving at a PR I’m pleased with for the time being). I also ran my first two 8k races, one of them being during cross country season with MRun. Lastly, I ran a 10 miler. That race, of all of these races, was by far the most difficult. I clearly was not prepared for a longer distance race at the time and the soreness I had for days afterwards reminded me of that.

I only really got back into training at (what I would consider) a high level in the end of August. Noting that, I can be nothing but pleased with what I was able to accomplish this year. Additionally, it makes me extremely excited for what I can accomplish with a full year of quality training during this coming year.

Now comes the part where I set goals for next year. I have 3 main goals and an additional set of milestones that I think will happen if I’m able to accomplish my goals.


  1.  Race my first half marathon. Time goal: ideally sub 1:20, will be happy with sub 1:25
  2. Finally run a sub-17 minute 5k
  3. See what running a 100 mile week feels like

Other things I think are achievable on my way to meeting these goals:

  • Sub-36 minute 10k
  • Run over 3000 miles in a year – I think even close to 4000 is possible
  • (maybe) Complete a marathon

The goal that will make me happiest is the sub-17 5k but I think that the combination of all of these things are possible on my way there. I feel that I am finally improving as a runner again, picking up were I left off 4 years ago. I want to see how far I can take this.

Holiday Hustle 5k: Race Report

Yesterday I ran the Holiday Hustle in Dexter.

I’m just going to say that i think the mile markers were placed a bit off but am pretty certain the course was still 3.1 based on a few different measurements. Given that, I think that my mile splits were something like this: 5:35 or maybe a little faster, 5:45ish, 5:30. I wish I knew exactly what they were.

This course was deceptively hilly and tough. There were lots of rolling hills and there was a pretty long hill right before mile 2 that was very rough. I’ll admit that for a little while around that 2 mile marker I was thinking that this PR wasn’t going to happen. I just kept telling myself to stick with the people near me and not let them get to far. To just to hang on. It Worked.

I finished at 17:12 which is 5 seconds faster than my previous best set 4 years ago! I have been working so hard this Fall to achieve that goal and all of the hard work and many many miles have finally paid off. It may not be a sub-17 which was my other goal but I now know I’m well on my way there.

Full results here.

I’m now done racing hard for the rest of this year. I plan on taking about a week off entirely after this morning’s long run. After that I’ll start training again for indoor and outdoor track with MRun this winter and spring. I also signed up for the Bayshore Half-Marathon yesterday morning (it sold out in less than 2 hours)! This will be my first half and the longest race I’ve ever done. The distance doesn’t scare me too much because I’ve done 12-14 mile long runs regularly but racing the distance is a whole other deal. I’ve got time to train for that thankfully.

I’m 3/3 in PRs in my last three races and that’s awesome! I’m finally faster than high school me from four years ago!

Runner. Developer. Student.