Sunday, December 10, 2017

Canova, Sondre Moen and the lack of marathon progress in the USA

  My training is still very much the same jogging 4 miles once or twice a day so it hardly seems worthwhile to post it here so instead I figured I would talk about something else.

   At Fukuoka last weekend Sondre Moen of Norway ran a European record of 2:05:48.  This followed up a sparkling 59:48 half marathon in October.   Sondre has been a successful runner for a few years having run in the 62 minute range for the half marathons each of the last few years and he had run 2:11 before he started working with Renato Canova last fall.  I want to talk about him because of two factors.  First the jump from 62/2:11 to 59/2:05 is shocking and almost unheard of outside of the rift valley.   When I see a jump like this mid career my first thought is sadly drugs.  In this case it is certainly possible.  Despite my personal admiration for Canova I do not know him well enough to say for sure that he and his athletes are totally clean.  I am also aware that some of the released schedules from his athletes have recovery intervals are shockingly short.   That said my personal experiences of breakthroughs with his methods tell me that huge breaks are possible without chemical enhancement.

  It is also not that I think Canova has a corner on great running training, I don't.  In fact I think an argument could be made that the best training for the 1500 to 10k is currently available from coaches in the US.  When you consider the success that USA athletes have had at the Olympics and world championships in those events over the last couple of years and that many of the coaches in charge of those athletes are working with very small stables of athletes thanks to are inability to find a financially viable way of creating large well funded training groups, in comparison to Ethiopia, Kenya and Japan where literally a thousand or more post collegiate age athletes are able to give professional training a go and training groups of 30 or more are fairly common. 

  What I do think is that as a country we have massively underachieved in the marathon. Rupp and Flanagan's wins this fall notwithstanding.   There are a number of factors that I feel have a play in this.  The first is that most americans run marathons in the US and there are very few fast courses with consistently favorable conditions.  According to ARRS Houston is the fastest marathon in US based on race time bias, http://www.arrs.net/TB_Mara.htm, and it is only the 16th fastest in the world and it is one of only 3 USA races considered faster than the average or break even time point.   So often we have great American marathoners who is not viewed as being as successful and fast as they would be if they were running races like Berlin, Dubai, Tokyo or Fukuoka instead of New York, Boston, Twin Cities or, with the dropping of pace setters, Chicago.  Also when Boston gets a tailwind we are quick to dismiss a fast time by an american, IE Halls 2:04:58, while we don't tend to put non-american times under the same scrutiny.  I actually read an article once that made a point in saying that Hall's real PB was 2:06:17 from London and then went on to refer to Gebre Gebremariam as a 2:04:53 man.  This is funny because that time for Gebre was run at Boston the same year as Hall ran his 2:04. 
 
  This judging of americans by time when they generally run on much slower courses means that often very good americans are judged as being less than they are.  To think that calling Meb a 2:08 guy or  Rupp a 2:09 runner, or Jason Hartmann a 2:11 man is a fair assessment of their success as a marathoner is ridiculous.  These men could easily have PB's 3 to 5 minutes faster if they had focused their energies on the very fast pace set races that the africans dominate. 

   That said there is little doubt that we are underachieving in the marathon as compared with the track.  I think that a parallel can be drawn between current american running and the level that the Kenyans were at in the 1990's.  At that time many, many kenyans were running under 27:30 and 13:20.  A good number were under 61, 27 and 13.   Yet almost none were running inside 2:08 for the marathon.  In fact only a fraction of the number of Kenyans were under 2:10 as are today.

   What happened.  Well to listen to many in the sports media tell it the Kenyans stopped fearing the distance and started attacking the marathon.  This is to my mind the stupidest assertion I have ever heard.  The kenyans always attacked.  They had been roaring out at fast paces at marathons from the moment they turned to the roads in the mid 1980s.  The question is why did they stop blowing up?

  My arguement is that Renato Canova, and a couple other coaches, started to do professional development with coaches in kenya.  Traveling the country working with athletes and sharing infomation like this, http://mymarathonpace.com/uploads/Renato_Canova_Marathon_Training_Methods.pdf, with coaches.  This lead to a seed change in how the Kenyans prepared for the marathon.  I think the general fitness that came with this kind of work also lead to greater performance in the half marathon but there the difference was far less.  A 61 man was now becomeing a 60 man.  In the marathon however it was stunning.

  In 1998 the 10th fastest Kenyan marathoner ran 2:08:52, this was a great year for the kenyans in the marathon at that time.  By 2008 the 10th best was 2:07:21.  A solid improvement but the bigger difference at that point was up front as the world lead had gone from high 2:06's to 2:03's.  This meant that big improvements were needed to win and so more and more athletes and coaches adjusted their training accordingly.  In 2015 the 10th fastest Kenyan ran 2:06:19.  A startling time that is under 3:00 per kilometer pace and that no man had ever run faster than prior to 1998. 

  My personal experience is what makes me believe so fully in this system.  In the fall of 2005 I had never run under 24:30 for 8k.  I had a 1:07:28 half marathon best.  I began training in the most rudimentary way with Canova workouts and systems and by the end of spring in 2006 I had run 23:26, 1:03:44 and 2:15:28.   Later on after the Olympic trials I was able to get Canova to send me a training schedule.  You should be able to view the schedule here, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m0aEpBDKhfjEmKKzGvWPBkxVZKx1qfYyxPqRLFiT0mw/edit?usp=sharing

  I was already struggling with my coordination issues and as such I never ended up racing off of this training.  I did however find myself in the best shape of my life by far at the end of a month of this training.  I cannot say for sure how fast I would have run I can say I felt confident I would be able to run under 1:03 for the half and in the 2:10 range for a marathon in reasonable conditions, not tailwind, at Boston. 
 
  So what are the Africans, and a guy like Moen doing that I believe that we Americans are not.  I think the four major things are, one, truly specific marathon workouts in numbers.  So not doing one 16 mile long run at marathon pace and otherwise training like you are getting ready for a half marathon or 10k.   In this type of marathon training the athlete runs a lot of marathon paced work every week, sometimes in multiple workouts per week throughout the training cycle with 15 to 30 miles of marathon paced work run each week during the specific phase. 
  Second long hard runs of around marathon distance run at 90 to 95% of marathon pace.  These workouts start much shorter, around 20k, in the base phase but build up to around 40 to 45k during the specific phase.
  Third alternation style workouts where the athlete averages marathon pace for 10 to 15 miles but does so by alternating between running slightly faster than and recovering slightly slower than marathon pace. 
  Fourth moderate medium length, 10 to 18 mile, light tempo runs at an effort slower than marathon pace but faster than a reasonable training pace. 

  Many top american groups are implementing some of these strategies.  The fourth one is very much like Schumachers' rhythm runs for example.  Meb did a marathon paced tempo run pretty much every week during his marathon build ups.  I think in the marathon the big one most americans tend to fall short on is the specific work.

  Finally I think that one area that the Africans excel at and that much of the rest of the distance running world fails at, myself very much included, is the balance between training very hard generally but not fearing to take complete rest or to half ass workouts. 
 
  I read an article where a 2:05 Kenyan marathoner was asked why he felt the Japanese could not compete in the marathon with the Kenyans.  He said he thought that if the Japanese trained like the Africans  they would be the best in the world.  When asked what he thought the Japanese were doing wrong he said they were training too hard. 

  Similarly when I followed the linked Canova plan, which was the first time I didn't have to figure out my own paces for the workouts, I was shocked how EASY most of the workouts were.  In a two week block there were 6 or 7 "workouts" but 5 of them would be barely harder to do than a basic training run.  Then one or two of them would be savagely hard. 

  This is not to say that I think we should make a return to the under training that plagued the 1990's.  I think the tricky key is that the athlete needs to train extraordinarily hard in the macro sense but that they need to be able and willing to reduce the effort in the micro sense.  Doing more workouts, and very high volume, but realizing that those workouts might be quite easy and that is ok. 

  I watched a documentary following an athlete who eventually finished 4th at the NYC marathon and the thing I found most different about him compared with myself was that when faced with hardship he opted to half ass his training for a while as a sort of compromise.  He skipped the harder workouts, mixed in days off and then when his body came around he got serious again.  My coordination issue has defied all my attempts to solve it so I doubt that a similar attitude would have saved me from it but I do wonder if I had been a bit more like this if I could have run more consistently well both during my short time of being on the national level and fully healthy, 2006/2007 and in the shorter distances over the years that followed.

  Finally I think that the very top americans are making some changes.  Schumacher's ladies have run better in the marathon this year, though sometimes what is effective training for women in the marathon does not carry over to men because we are less efficient with glycogen, and Salazar has obviously had more success with the marathon of late, seen both in Rupp's very effective running but also in Suguru Osako's 2:07:19.   However I think that there is still an opportunity for one of the second tier groups to stun the US distance world and dominate the top of the USA marathon rankings and perhaps take the majority of the spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

  I think that if you are running more than 5% slower than your half marathon best on similar terrain in the marathon you are under achieving and if you have shown a predilection towards the longer events than that conversion should be closer to 3%.  So for a mid 1:01 half marathon athlete, of which there are now a fair number in the USA that means running in the 2:06 mid to 2:08 mid range.  Obviously in good conditions this would likely fall short of what it would take to beat a guy like Rupp but certainly you could take a spot on the team.  Furthermore a group that was slowing like this would expect mid 1:02 half marathoners to run in the 2:09 to just under 2:11 range.  Think of the impact on american marathoning if one of these groups with 3 to 5 sub 1:03 guys got each of them to run in the 2:09 to 2:10 range in the next year.  I also believe that Moen shows that if they make these changes it is likely that athletes will not only race the marathon closer to the equivalent of their existing pb's in the other events but it is quite likely that they will see a jump in general fitness as well.   In which case perhaps some of our consistent 62 minute half men could find themselves running 59:42 and 2:05:48 in a year or two like Moen has.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Training for last two weeks, November 6 to 19, 2017

   If you are looking for the cliff notes it is basically a whole lot of not much.  I see a specialist on the 27th but that will likely just be a meet and greet and a ticket to an MRI.  I had an X-ray which unsurprisingly didn't show anything.

Monday AM 4 miles, 29:58, with Uta
PM 4 miles, 29:10, with Uta

Tuesday AM 5 miles with Melissa and Uta, 38:13
PM 4 miles, 27:14, 6 strides

Wednesday AM road 4 with Uta in 29:00

Thursday AM 4 miles with Uta in 27:53
PM 1.6 warm up and 3x mile on Phillips fields, the watch may have been a bit wonky on these, 5:18, 5:14, 5:12, 3 mins recovery.  1/2 mile cool down

Friday AM road 5 with Uta and Melissa, 39:13
PM road 4 miles, 25:57

Saturday AM 4.2 miles with Uta, 32:06
PM 2 mile warm up, strides, some drills, some stretching, tried to do a 2 mile tempo in 10:00, felt great aerobically but hip started to hurt so I stopped after 8/10ths of a mile in 3:58 and jogged in.

Sunday 4 miles with Melissa, 27:53


Monday AM 4 miles with Uta, in 29:11

Tuesday AM 4 miles with Uta,  31:00
PM road 4 with Uta, 26:23

Wednesday AM 4 miles with Uta, 29:10
PM  5 miles with Uta, 34:07

Thursday AM 4 miles with Uta, 28:45
PM 4 miles with Uta, in 26:28

Friday PM road 4 with Uta, and first 1.2 with Melissa, 28:05

Saturday AM 4 miles with Uta and Melissa, 29:32
PM road 4.3 with Uta, 27:52

Sunday AM road 4 with Uta, 28:23
PM 4.3 miles, 28:30

Summary I guess it is what it is.  I'm happy to be running a little.  I really haven't lost much fitness.  Obviously the hip doesn't feel that great but it is liveable and hopefully in another 8 weeks or so it will be healed up...
  Hope your well.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Throw back 2007 Olympic Trials

  Just over 10 years ago, on November 3, 2007 I finished 7th at the 2008 Olympic Trials marathon.

   On November 2, 2007 I was very fit.  I had come through a very up and down year.  I started the year in the greatest shape of my life thinking I was ready to breakthrough to the upper echelon of US distance running.  Shortly there after I began experiencing my coordination problem, runners dystonia, and around the same time I came down with Mono.

  After 7 or 8 weeks of no running I started back with my fitness very much reduced.  Over the rest of the build up the dystonia was a problem here or there but not everyday.   By late summer I was again quite fit but had a spasm in my calf/achilles that lead caused me to drop out of the Falmouth road race and miss a week of training.   In October my fiance at the time broke off our relationship.  I was so focused on the trials at this point that my honest to goodness biggest worry was that being upset about that would hurt my race.  As I dealt with that I was also dealing with the dystonia.  I had lost coordination at the end of most of my hard marathon workouts.  I couldn't find a source of the problem or even anyone who had any understanding of what I was dealing with.

   The night before the race I was extremely worked up, like all the competitors I suppose. Around 10pm my roomate, Miguel Nuci, and I shut off the light and tried to sleep.  I actually fell right asleep.  Around 1am I woke up and had to pee.  After that I didn't fall back asleep and I could hear that Migual wasn't sleeping either.  Around 3am I suggest we get up and Miguel agreed.
 
  A couple hours later we took a bus on the empty streets for less than a mile to Rockefeller center for the start of the race.  I was sitting a couple spots behind Abdi Abdirahmen and it seem Nike had put posters of him in nearly every window along the way and I remember wondering what dealing with that kind of pressure was like.

  We went inside at Rockefeller center and we had plenty of bathrooms and it was warm.  I went out for a warm up. We basically had a 200 meter road that was blocked off and I did about 2 miles back and forth on it. It was actually a pretty neat experience with about a hundred runners who I knew by reputation and looked up to all going back and forth in this little area.  The best part was when a fan leaned over the barrier right into my face and yelled "Good luck beating Brian Sell!".   I went back inside did my stretching and made a bathroom trip.  Thirty minutes before the start they kicked us all out.  This was less than ideal for two reasons.  First it was very windy and the temps were in the 40's.  Second there was only one porto potty outside.

  I went out in just about all the cloths I had with me in hopes of staying warm to the start.  Very quickly we athletes decided that the porto potty was for sitting only and if you needed to pee you had to find an alley or bush, not easy in Rockefeller center but it was still dark out which helped.  I did witness a hilarious little dance where Ryan Hall who had to pee but was being followed by a film crew finally kneeled down and took a quick piss while his wife Sara stood between him and the camera as a physical block. Now Sara is five foot nothing and weighs 90lbs soaking wet so she wasn't exactly a wall which made it all the funnier.   All in all it was an extraordinarily well organized event I have no idea why there was only one porto john out there.

  Soon enough they lined us up.  I was shocked to see some of the B qualifiers or guys with qualifiers slower than mine elbow and push for a front row spot.  Mean while a few of the quite famous big guns took spots in the following rows.  I joined them. It was a marathon afterall.  I remember seeing one guy sort of shove himself in front of Meb and thinking, "dude, unless you push him two miles back he is gonna beat your ass."  In the end an official went by and pulled the big guns up to the front row.  I ended up in the second row next to Jacob Frey, another 2nd tier Saucony guy who I had hung out with a good bit at the Utica Boilermaker back in July.

  When the gun went off it was immediately slow.  Very slow.  It felt like an easy group run.  Mike Wardian jumped out to a lead while I was in the middle of this huge slow pack.   I thought about going out on my own and getting up with him as his pace seemed more reasonable but with it being so windy I thought better of it.  Also I was surrounded by some of the greatest runners in American history and figured we would get after it sooner or later. 

  On the city streets it was unbelievably windy and I remember thinking if it wasn't more broken up in the park we would be in for one hell of a hard day.  We hit the mile in 5:40 something.  Unimaginably slow.  We picked it up only slightly and Mike stayed out in front by a good bit.  About a mile and a half into the race we tucked into the park and I was relieved that the wind was reduced but unhappy to begin the hills.  For anyone who has run central park it isn't really hilly, it just doesn't have any real flat spots.

  As we moved onto the park roads the untenable nature of our slow pace started to become apparent.  With  more than a hundred guys in a 5 or 10 second span surrounded by motorcycle cops and camera men as well as dozens of bike riding course marshals on the tighter and very curvy roads things immediately started to get rough.  At one point I actually banged into one of the motorcycles with a cameraman sitting backwards on it filming.  I was fine but I was shocked the driver was able to keep them from going over.

  At three miles Mike Morgan and Kyle O'Brian of Hansons took the lead and drove the pace down to just under 5:00 pace.  They had both run the world championship that summer and it was pretty obvious they were leading to ensure a quicker pace for Brian Sell who would likely have little chance against some the other favorites in a race that came down to a very fast last 10k.

  Pre-race I had told myself that my speed limit was 5:00 per mile.  It was ok to dip under it here or there but not to stay there as I knew from my workouts I wasn't in shape to run under 2:11 and that things got hard fairly quickly when I was clicking off sub 5:00's on rolling terrain.  Mike and Kyle seemed to lock in at just under 5:00.  I think we maybe ran one 4:55 but really we locked in the 4:56 to 4:58 range.  Initially, though I was a bit stressed that the pace was a shade faster than I wanted, I was mostly just enjoying the whole event.  We had crossed the finish at Tavern on the Green and the crowd in the stands there was already quite large.  On top of that I was just blown away at the group of National champions, NCAA champs and generally amazing distance guys I was rubbing elbows with.  I had done a number of national level races at this point but to see this many super stars in one place and to be running with them was really something special. The reality of the Olympic Trials is that everyone there is amazing.  Generally speaking if you are at a race with 10 or 15 Olympic Trials qualifiers that is a big deal.  Well now the whole field is qualifiers and there were a couple dozen guys who had made at least one Team USA and a few american record holders and a world record holder. On top of that the spectators were over the top.  There were signs and screaming and just a huge number of the Brian Sell face on stick that Brooks must have mass produced for the event.  In additiona Mbarak Hussien was quite popular and as long as he stayed in the pack, which was out past 10 miles you seemed to hear someone yell "Age is just a number! Go Mbarak!
, every few seconds.  At one point Ryan Shay fell back suddenly for some reason I thought he had hurt his hamstring.  I didn't think about it at all.  I have thought about it uncountable hours since.

  Just after 5 miles I passed a blonde woman screaming and cheering her head off and realized just as I went by her it was 3 time Boston marathon champ, Uta Pippig.  This was no normal race.

  At this quicker pace the first real stressful moment was the "bubble" Just before mile 6.  To make the course hit the exact distance we had to take a 90 degree left off the road and onto a sidewalk go less than a 100 yards and take two quick 90 degree rights come back to the road and take another 90 left.  The pack was still 50 strong and we were banging into each other and the barriers.  It was really a remarkable piece of teamwork that no one went down.

  Shortly after that we turned back onto the main loop just past the finish line to do the first of 4 'long' loops. As we went up the first hill back on the main drag I felt a bit of acid in my legs.  It scared the hell out of me.  We had 20 miles to go and we had only been running at a decent clip for 3 miles and I knew damn well I was under my agreed upon speed limit for the those 3 miles.  I had to make a call.  Stay in the pack or back off.  I decided that if I had gone out too fast the damage was done so I had made my bed and now there was nothing to do but lay in it.

  After a couple of uneventful miles Abdi got sick of the 5:00 miling and shot off the front right at the 9 mile mark.  Hall, Meb, Ritz, Bizuneh and I believe Dan Brown went with him.  I hung back with the second pack.  The pace of the lead group seemed crazy fast and given that Sell, Khannouchi and Culpepper were in my pack I felt pretty confident.  Once again we passed Uta Pippig and as we did she shouted "stay with them cutie!" and I could have sworn she was looking at me. As we approached the 10 mile mark I was worried because I was starting to hurt a bit.  When I saw the split, 4:47, I knew why I was hurting.  We settled down but almost immediately I got a pretty bad side stitch.  I buried myself back in my head and put all of my focus on just trying to breath and staying with Culpepper.   As I stared at his back and rode out the stitch Khannouchi and then Sell with Lehmkuhle went off the front after the lead back.  Bizuneh, who I considered a threat to make the team because he had joined the Kimbia team, came back to us and we went right by him.

 All the while the side stitch was really all I could think about.  Running low 5:00 miles over rolling hills was actually pretty easy at this point but not so easy I could do it without breathing.   Finally just as we were coming up to the Tavern on the Green finish area marking two laps to go the stitch quickly faded out of existence.  Right about that moment Culpepper dropped out.  I was stunned.   Honestly I thought he was the single most likely guy to make the team.  Meb was better but had some calf problems in his tune up and I thought he might be hurt.

  As I absorbed the shock that I had outlasted Culpepper I also became aware that my huge pack was now quite small.  Only a small handful of us were left and they were all guys I knew.  Or more correctly knew of. Peter Gilmore who was on a string of really top notch marathons took control of the group with myself, Matt Downin, a two time National Cross Country Champion, and Josh Rohatinsky a sub 28:00 10k guy who had won an NCAA cross country champion who many thought would be a dark horse to make the team in his debut, following behind.   I was both excited and in awe that I was in this place and frankly feeling really good.   Over the front side of the course the hills were a little tougher and things seem to happen fast.

  Peter Gilmore who was leading our crew suddenly seemed to lose all steam and come to a crawl.  Downin took over and surged a bit but in less than a mile he seemed to pick up a limp and it was just me and Rohat.  At this point the adrenaline was really kicking.  First these were big names falling by the waste side.  Second we were running decent splits on a very tough course and third I felt GREAT!

  Shortly after Downin dropped back I decided to push.  I had read that Rohat had done some great workouts in the build up including a very fast 20 or 22 miler so I didn't think I could get away from him only 17 or 18 miles in but I was thinking we were in the top 10 now and others had been more aggressive and there would be bodies on the road so perhaps I could jump start our pace and we could work together to go after the lead.

  It is important to note I had no idea that Ryan hall was dropping 4:30 miles out front!  I was basing a lot of my expectations on the previous trials, where a 2:11 on a very flat fast course was good enough for the win, and the results of the top americans over the previous couple of years, which were significantly better than the past but still left me thinking if you ran in the 2:12's on this course you would make the team, particularly with Culpepper already gone.  I also was feeling like 2:12 was still on the table for me.

  I pushed the pace back down under 5:00 pace.  I think miles 18 and 19 were 4:57 and 4:54 respectively.  It felt like Rohatinsky didn't even try to stay with.   At about 18 miles I could see a guy walking on the course in front of me and as I closed up on him it was apparent that it was Abdi.  This played right into my thoughts that the super fast middle miles would tear apart the lead group and a guy like me could do some damage picking off the pieces.  On top of that I wasn't just soldiering to the line I was flying.  I couldn't have been more pumped.

  Then, in what could be a microcosm of my whole career, it all came crashing down around me with a funny sensation in my hip and hamstring and then the loss of control of my right leg right at the 19 mile mark.  My mind raced.  I had only one recourse.  I needed to stop and stretch.  Sometimes stretching would bring the coordination back for the rest of a hard workout, sometimes for only a few miles and sometimes not at all.  Just past a water stop I stopped suddenly and stretched for 10 or 15 seconds until Rohatinsky caught me.  I jumped in behind him as he went by and almost held my breath.

  My darkest nightmare was visiting me on the road.  The coordination was still gone.  I had little control of my right leg.  Running even this reduced pace was suddenly impossibly difficult.   I  locked on to Rohatinsky back.  It was all coming apart.  Very quickly my motivation went from having the race of my life to promising myself that if I was going to fade back through the field I was going to make everyone who was going by me bleed to do it.

  I had Rohatinsky to control pace and I was going to limp, peg leg and fight with everything I had to stay right on his back.  It was a bit of a dark moment.  Then we went by Uta Pippig again.

  There was no doubt this time, she was talking to me in her german accent "Stay with him cutie!  Race of your life, cutie!!"

The race might be going to shit but it was sure one hell of an experience and a day I would never forget already.

  As we came by Tavern on the Green to enter the last lap I got final confirmation that I wasn't going to make the Olympic team.  The jumbo tron at the finish showed Brian Sell who was flying and it said 4th place.  If Rohatinsky and I were going to limp up through the field at our speed they would have to be completely cracked.

  Entering the last lap the task seemed completely overwhelming.  I was limping.  I had little control over my right leg and felt like I could fall with every right foot landing.  I was doing everything I could do just to hang on Rohatinsky's shoulder.  I was taking some confidence from having stayed with Rohatinsky for a couple miles but the task in front of me, 5 more miles like this with every stride awkward agony, seemed impossible.

  I just kept taking it literally one stride at time.  Then on an uphill just after the 22 mile mark Rohatinsky began to slow noticeably.  I almost didn't know what to do.  I was so convinced the most I could hope for with the peg leg was to stick to his back but I could still taste the blood in the water so I pushed by and he had no response.

  The after the elation of that moment the stress of the hobble and the pain it was now causing and the reality of how far I had to go settled in.  My left calf started to spasm and I had to start forcing myself to land on my heel, as if my stride wasn't awkward enough already.  I also was worried by the pain in the front of my hip from pulling my leg through, as I was almost doing that with my abs, because at least I had control of them. 

  As I crossed over and began the journey on the back side of the course coming up to 24 miles I saw a diminutive man coming back to me.  With Abdi out it had to be Meb.  I was sure he had hurt his calf, as that was his recurring injury to that point in his career.  I had no idea his hip was far worse than mine.  Inch by inch I closed the gap but it was so far and I was limping so badly.  It seemed time would run out but it gave me a target and a job to do and when you are trying to convince your body to do something beyond its limits that is something you very badly need.

  Again I went by Uta Pippig, she was jumping up and down screaming "You are doing it cutie!! Go get Meb, cutie!!"  Shortly after that I passed Glenn Stewart on the side of the road.  Glenn was president of the Greater Lowell Road Runners who I had run for after college and who I did some coaching for.  He was a friend.  I was hurting in bad way knew I looked bad.  I wanted to give Glenn some sign that I would finish.  So I did all I was capable of, a weak thumbs up.  Glenn went wild!  I didn't understand.

  He thought I was trying to tell him I would catch Meb.

  Though that was not my intention it was reality.  Just as we hit the sign that said 800m to go I caught and passed Meb.  The man who had just four years before won Olympic Silver.  He was in a bad way and I was going to hobble by.  I had a moment of elation.

 A few yards later Meb went back by me.  I was crushed.  This man was too damn strong.  I didn't know then just how strong, but I had a moment where I wanted to quit and let him beat me in.  Then I realized here I was on the home stretch of the Olympic Trials Marathon fighting with the reigning Olympic Silver medalist.   I had no doubt Meb would beat me but I was going to go back and forth with him as many times as I could and make the most of the moment and so I lifted myself for another peg-legged push.

  Back by Meb I went, I was shocked he didn't go back by and now I was climbing up the final bit of the course.

  I don't remember finishing.  I do remember Meb a bit after he finished.  I thanked him for returning Americans to the world stage.  I did an interview or two over the barrier.  Then I began to shuffle to the gear collection area.  I couldn't believe I wasn't being drug tested.  I mean I was the 20th qualifier and basically a complete nobody and I finished in the thick of the big guns and yet no one thought, hey lets get that guy to piss in a cup?

  I got to the area where our cloths were and began to get dressed.  As I did I saw a young guy on the other side of the barrier almost shaking and he seemed painfully familiar.  It took more than a few moments to figure out he was my brother.  I was so destroyed that I didn't instantly recognize my only brother.
With the Moulton twins in the recovery zone

  That seems like as good a point as any to stop.  It was a great day though tinged with regret because it should have been more.  Again a microcosm of my career as a whole.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Training Blog October 30 to November 5, 2017

Monday AM road 4, 26:58
PM road 4, 26:13, dead lifts

Tuesday AM road 4.1, 26:46
PM 4.7 miles on road, 30:15

Wednesday PM 28:04

Thursday AM 4 miles, 28:50
PM 4 miles 25:50, massage with Anna after this run

Friday AM road 5 with Melissa and Uta, 41:09
PM road 4, 27:02

Saturday AM 4 miles on road in 26:21, squats
PM road 5 with Uta, 31:47

Sunday AM road 4 with last mile at tempo effort (4:58), 25:22

Summary  Happily took a small step in the right direction this weekend  and am now able to run 5 miles at a normal pace without the hip area locking up.  I was also able to do the tempo mile and have that feel fine too.  I didn't run in the afternoon today just because I had a ton of crap to do and basically never got around to it.  I had so much to do because after my run this morning I spent close to 3 hours screaming at the TV screen for obvious reasons.  It was amazing to see a girl I remember from HS win at NYC and to see an amazing run by Abdi and Meb's last go.  Where exactly Meb and Abdi belong on the USA all time marathon great lists may be up for debate but they have to be 1 and 2 for American Masters marathoners without any question. 
  As an odd extension with Shalane's win Melissa and I may be the only married couple who have both scalped NYC champions of their respective genders.  I'm not sure if Abdi and Diane Nukuri are married yet, I would assume that they have done it.  Maybe Ryan and Sara Hall?  Anyway I keep loose tabs on my odd life accomplishments and this one sure fits that category.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Training Blog October 23 to 29, 2017

Monday AM road 4 with Uta, in 30:22

Tuesday AM road 4 with Uta, in 28:00
PM 4 miles with Uta in 25mins then strides

Wednesday PM 4 miles in 27:27, attempted a fartlek but after the first effort the hip didn't feel so hot so I just took it easy the rest of the way

Thursday PM 4 miles with Uta in 25:27

Friday AM 5 miles with Melissa and Uta in 39:04
PM road 4 with Uta, 25:20

Saturday AM 3.5 miles with Melissa and Uta, 28:23
PM 4 miles solo 26:03

Sunday PM 4 miles with Uta, 27:33

Summary so last Sunday turned out to be really stupid and set me back a good bit.  I'm hopeful to be back to sneaking in some quality this week but not certain at all.  If it is a stress fracture I basically set myself back to start by being stubborn when it started barking last Sunday.  So we'll see how this week goes.  It got a bit better towards the end of last week. I also have a doctors appointment coming up and can get some more info then.   Other than that just doing a lot of body work and some lifting and trying to stay the course.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Training blog October 16 to 22

Monday AM hurting couldn't drag my ass out of bed...
PM road 6 with Uta who was in the mood to hammer, had to stop around 5 miles to stretch hip. 37:16.

Tuesday AM 4 miles with Uta, 29:14
PM 5 miles with Melissa and Uta, in around 40mins then 8? strides with jog back recoveries.

Wednesday AM 4 miles, 28:07
PM 6 miles light fartlek, 38:18, light jogging first mile then light fartlek efforts, not even sub 5 min mile pace mixed in for rest of the run.

Thursday AM road 4, 28:33
PM 1.5 mile warm up with a couple of strides, then 3 x mile in cemetery with 3 mins jogging rest, 5:08, 5:05, 5:06, these are a light effort kinda tempo repeats.
Anna for some light xt'ing and massage

Friday AM 4 miles, 27:48
PM 6 miles 38:07

Saturday AM 5.4 miles with Uta and Melissa, 39:57
PM 2 warm up, bunch of drills, 5k threshold tempo run on part of Phillips' fields,  15:57.

Sunday AM on Chelmsford rail trail, 5 mile light progression run after a bunch of drills for warm up, 5:35, 5:33, 5:24, 5:15(with a few seconds lost to a stop to stretch the hip/glute), 4:59

Summary- this is basically how I would like to approach my running until the hip heals up.  The progression run didn't work and because I ran while the hip was locked up pretty good the last half mile or so it left me feeling I had done a bit of damage instead of really feeling fine like I did after all the other runs so I likely won't do this next week.  I may try a couple of 5 mile runs with a 5:00 last mile instead.   We'll see though...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Training Blog October 9 to 15, 2017

Monday AM 6 miles 41:39
               PM massage for hip.

Tuesday AM 5 with Melissa and Uta, 42:24
PM 6 in 40:20

Wednesday AM 4 with Uta in 30:16

Thursday AM 4 with Uta, 29:18

Friday PM at Phillips with Melissa and Uta, 41:21

Saturday AM 4.3 with Melissa, 34:20

Sunday PM 4.5 miles pacing Melissa through the last bit of her longest run ever, 19 miles, 34:58

Summary Hip is about the same which is to say not so great.  Feels fine for 4 or 5 miles then gets tight and locks up.  I don't really know what is going on.  I did get a basic hip eval and it seems to be totally ok.  So I shouldn't have a labral tear.  I still may end up getting an MRI down the line to be sure.  My money is a stress fracture in something not weight bearing but regardless my plan is light running until it improves.