Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Castelbuono 10km recap and hitting the track in Belgium

The Giro Podistico di Castelbuono was one of the more interesting racing experiences I've had to date. Castelbuono is a special place, and one that I probably would have never visited had I not been invited for this race. Even though the race holds IAAF Gold Label status, the race organizers were very relaxed and care-free. Communication was limited as most organizers did not speak English, but this made for a fun weekend of charades. It was a true Sicilian experience with loose timetables and looser traffic laws. The small town of Castelbuono takes you back in time with an interesting mix of Arabic and Norman architecture. You are surrounded by mountains, making running extremely challenging as all roads head up for miles and miles away from the town center. It was challenging to hold back from the plentiful food available three times per day at the hotel. Breakfast meant a buffet of various sweet breads, and lunch and dinner offered a pasta appetizer followed by a main course of meat and vegetables. After the race, my wife and I celebrated with a seafood feast at a restaurant next to the castle.

As for the race itself, the field was very impressive, as expected at a Gold Label race. In spite of this I knew the challenging course would be an equalizer for me just as cross country has been in the past. The course consisted of a cobblestone loop that was slightly longer than 1km around the town square, starting and finishing in front of the castle. It was essentially 500 meters up, and 500 meters down. I consider myself a strong hill runner and made up ground each time heading up the hill, but I struggled trying to sprint back down the hill. Over the final few laps the wear and tear began to show, and my strong uphill pushes allowed me to catch and pull away from several racers, leaving me in 4th place. It was great to be able to put myself into cross country mode and focus only on the racing without any consideration of time. The brutal course has left me quite sore through the quads from the downhill pounding, but I have a week to recover.

I have one final race left in Europe for the summer before I end my season, take a down week, and then start preparing for a fall marathon. I will be traveling to Ninove, Belgium for the Memorial Rasschaert - Flanders Cup. I don't have much information regarding the field at this point, but in the past it has been a strong 5km. Regardless of the field or the conditions, I will be looking to run fast, and I'll be looking to win. There is not enough time left to postpone my track 5km effort, so I will be leaving it all on the track on Saturday before taking a short break. While Europe has not gone exactly according to plan, I am meeting my goal of competing in some shorter races before heading back to the marathon. It's been refreshing to get the wheels moving in training and in racing, and the lower volume with increased intensity over the last month has been a great change of pace.

Feel free to check out last week's training below. It was another very light week heading into Castelbuono, but there is nothing more that can be done at this point in the season other than resting. I had an excellent couple months of track workouts that will get me through my final week. Thanks again for reading, and follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 15 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11 4
15





Tuesday 10+drills and strides 5 40 minutes 15





Wednesday 3 x 1km @ 2:55 + 1km (37, 35, 33, 31, 29 per 200 meters) w/1 minute recovery

11





Thursday 8.5 easy Travel to Castelbuono, Italy
8.5





Friday 6 easy + drills and strides off
6





Saturday off 10km race
12





Sunday 10 easy 4.5 easy
14.5





TOTAL


82

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Looking ahead to Giro di Castelbuono

Unfortunately the 5km in Heusden did not happen for me. After very poor communication by the race director, I didn't find out until the night before that I had been placed in the 'C' heat. Given my 10km personal best and recent 3rd place finish at the US Champs, I do not know how this occurred, but politics are the name of the game when it comes to racing in Europe. I showed up to the race knowing that pulling the plug was a possibility, but I did not make a decision until the last minute. I was still hoping to get moved up once I arrived at the venue. This did not happen, and temperatures were in the 80s even after dark, solidifying my decision. All heats went significantly slower than hoped simply due to the weather. I only have time for a couple more races before preparing for a fall marathon build up, so I decided not to waste an effort last weekend. It was disappointing to fly over to Belgium and waste a down week in training, but it was the right decision, and sometimes unexpected rest is a positive thing.

Looking forward, I am honored to have been invited to the Giro di Castelbuono in Italy on July 26th. This 10km is one of the oldest road races in Europe and is an IAAF Gold Label event, meaning the field will be absolutely loaded. Looking at past results will give you an idea. The course is a very challenging 1.1 km loop through the town, and anyone who is caught is out of the race. This is my kind of race. Times are always slow, so I only have to focus on competing. I expect it to be a memorable experience to say the last.

The following week I am planning another shot at a 5km on the track. Right now the most likely option is the Memorial Rasschaert in Ninove, Belgium on August 2nd. If that does not work out there are a couple of back-up options, but let's hope that will not be necessary. This will still give time to take a full week of rest before heading to Flagstaff for a month of altitude training.

Last week's training is below. It is a low volume week due to the belief that I would be racing Saturday night. My coach and I decided to go with some over-speed work the next day which still added up to 5 miles of running on the track including the rest intervals. I'm starting to get antsy with the lower volume, but that is the nature of racing season.  I will have plenty of time for volume over the next few months. The rest is also necessary with the frequent flying I am doing at the moment. Fortunately with Prague at the center of Europe, all flights will be short and smooth.

Thanks again for reading, and I look forward to writing about my experience in Castelbuono next week. Follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 14 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11 Traveling from Portland to Prague
11





Tuesday Traveling from Portland to Prague 6 20 minutes 6





Wednesday 5 x 1k @ 2:54-2:55 w/1 min recovery, 2 x 400 @ 62-63, 2 x 200 @ 29-30 w/ 200 meter jog recovery 5
15





Thursday Off – travel to Nijmegen, Netherlands 9
9





Friday 6 + drills and strides 1.5 mile shake-out
7.5





Saturday 1.5 mile shakeout 9 easy
10.5





Sunday 5 x (200, 200, 400) w/ equal jog recovery. 200's @ 29-30, 400's @ 59-61. Recovery jog kept at 6:40-7:00 pace Off – travel back to Prague
12





TOTAL


71

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The start of a month in Europe and last week's training

I made it to Europe successfully, although I must say I'm having a harder time than usual getting over my jetlag. I left Portland Monday, arrived in Prague on Tuesday, and then hopped on a flight to Dusseldorf on Thursday morning. From Dusseldorf I made the short trip to Nijmegen, Netherlands where my management company (Global Sports Communication) has their offices and training facility. I'll be spending the next couple of days here before my 5km in Heusden, Belgium on Saturday. The travel has left me completely exhausted, but I still have a couple days of easy training to bounce back, and that is plenty of time. The training facility in Nijmegen has access to amazing trails, a track, and a full kitchen; it's everything I need to help myself recover. It's not often that I am able to cook for myself the days leading up to a big race, so it is a nice bonus. As for race day, I'm simply looking for a big PR. The heats will be quite full, it looks like it will be hot, and the pacing is still unknown, so it is difficult to put an exact time goal out there. I think I am in sub-13:20 shape, but we will see if Saturday will be the place to make it happen.

I'm enjoying the short track season in between marathon build-ups, and there will only be a couple races left. After the Heusden 5km this weekend it looks likely that I will be running a Gold Label 10km called Giro di Castelbuono in Palmero, Italy that following weekend. This will give me plenty of time to rest before starting a big fall marathon build-up which will start in Flagstaff in the middle of August. This means I will be flying back to Portland for 2 days to repack, and then head to Arizona. It's going to be a challenging but exciting couple of months.

Last week's training was not particularly interesting as we did only one workout, but it is below if you'd like to take a look. We have cut back on the workouts since the 10km at the USATF Champs in order to keep the legs fresh for the remainder of the short season. Thanks again for reading, and I look forward to posting again next week after the race. Feel free to follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 13 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 10 5 40 minutes 15





Tuesday 10 + 6 x 150 meters 5
15





Wednesday 5 5
10





Thursday 6.5 6 x 200 meters @ 29 w/200 meter recovery, straight into 2km @ (69, 67, 64, 63, 60), 300 (45), 200 (28), 100 (14) w/1 min recovery
15





Friday 10 5 30 minutes 15





Saturday 5 + drills and strides off
5





Sunday 14 off
14





TOTAL


89

Friday, July 11, 2014

Off to Europe: Heusden 5km and Beyond.

It has been a busy week with the launch of Prevail Coaching, but the interest after a little more than a week has been fantastic. I'm looking forward to a fall and spring full of PRs. We have room for a couple more runners, so if you're interested, visit the website and reach out to us at prevailcoaches@gmail.com.

This last week of training remained fairly conservative following the USA Track and Field 10,000 meter championships last week, but I did feel recovered enough for a solid 5km prep workout at the end of the week. While the rest was not short, all reps were at or under goal 5km pace. I will be looking for a big personal best in Heusden, Belgium on the 18th of this month. My travel begins Monday when I head to Prague for a few days to recover from jet-lag before heading to back west to Belgium. The organizers are still busy putting the heats together, but I'm sure I'll land in a group that can pull me along.

I plan on putting in at least one more race in while in Europe to top off my short track season, but that race has yet to be determined. My agent and I are working through a few different options, and I'll throw it on my calendar as soon as it's finalized. Racing in Europe is a tricky endeavor as circumstances can change dramatically based on one performance, even at the very last minute. After about a month in Europe I will be stopping in Portland for a day and a half before heading down to Flagstaff to give altitude training an honest go as preparation for a fall marathon. I'll be staying with Nick Arciniaga, who has clearly mastered life at 7000 feet, and I'm looking forward to some guidance. Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below. Follow me here on twitter for more updates!

Week 12 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 16 off 40 minutes 16





Tuesday 11.5 + drills and grass strides 4.5
16





Wednesday 9 5 40 minutes 14





Thursday 15 x 200 @ 28-30 w/200 meter jog recovery 5
15





Friday 10 5 30 minutes 15





Saturday 10 5
15





Sunday 4 x 1km (2:40, 2:39, 2:39, 2:39), 2.5 minutes rest, 2 x 800 (2:05, 2:04), 2 minutes rest, 2 x 400 (59, 58), 1 minute rest 5
15





TOTAL


106


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

USA Outdoor Recap and PreVail Coaching

Before jumping into my recap of the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, I want to announce the launch of my personal coaching business, Prevail Coaching. Our team includes University of Portland alum and school record holder in the 10km, Mike Kilburg, and my wife, Eva Vail, who is currently the assistant women's coach for the University of Portland track and cross country teams. This is remote coaching only, as my focus remains on my professional running
career. We are excited to take on anyone from beginners to Olympic hopefuls at any distance from 800 meters to the marathon. My goal is to take the experience that I have had being remotely coached over the last four years by Dave Smith and transfer that experience to others. I have earned personal bests for 10 consecutive years under Dave. The patient, consistent progression is no accident, and I am passionate about sharing this simple philosophy with other runners. We will not offer templates. Coaching is a give and take between the athlete and coach, and each runner is unique in terms of their response to certain types of workouts, weekly volume, and race schedules. I know the workouts of other elite athletes, but that doesn't mean that I can simply copy it and run well. I have also never had a training cycle that has gone exactly according to plan; adjustments are made based on how the body is feeling, minor injuries, and even weather. The process is far more important than the plan. Check out the website, done by Starting Line Designs, at www.prevailcoaching.com and contact me at prevailcoaches@gmail.com.

Now, on to the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. First, I am very happy to break my streak of 6th place finishes at the track championships with a 3rd place finish in a tough field. Given the temperatures and the field, most of us expected a slow pace for the first 5,000 meters, and it was. One of my weaknesses in the past on the track has been closing gaps as they form in front of me. I feel that I kept myself aware and moved up when I needed to. The fourth mile picked up significantly, and Aaron Braun, Sean Quigley, and I went with the move. Rupp and Derrick began to pull away and I was faced with a decision to hang with Braun and race for third, or go with the leaders. I was not sure where I was in terms of fitness coming off the marathon, so I opted to hang back. I saved a lot of energy not leading and felt great heading into the last lap. I was able to close in 58.1 and secure 3rd place. Looking back, I wish I would have had more confidence to go with the leaders, but I made a decision and stuck with it. My confidence is high heading into the 5km race in Heusden, Belgium in two and a half weeks. I know I'm ready for a big personal best. Everything I'm doing right now is geared toward the Olympic Marathon Trials in February 2016, and this short track season is accomplishing the goal of changing pace and training for a couple of months. I am pleased with how quickly my track fitness has returned after the London Marathon.

Feel free to check out last week's training below. It was a low week in terms of volume due to resting for the 10km and then recovering, but the volume will boost back up this week. Thanks again for reading; follow me here on twitter, and check out the new coaching website at www.prevailcoaching.com.

Week 11 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11 off 30 minutes 11





Tuesday 30 minutes + 4 x 400 @ 66-67, 2 x 200 @ 30 w/200 jog recovery 10 minute shake-out
8.5





Wednesday 30 minutes + strides 10 minute shake-out
6.5





Thursday 2 mile shake-out 10km race
12





Friday 6 off
6





Saturday 11 off
11





Sunday 12 off 30 minutes 12





TOTAL


67

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Days from the USA Outdoor Championships: Last Week's Training

I am preparing to head to Sacramento today for the start of the USA Outdoor Championships. It will be my first 10,000 meter race since the USA Championships last year in Des Moines. While it will be hot in Sacramento, the 10km does not start until after 9:00 PM, and it will cool to a more reasonable temperature as the sun goes down, unlike Des Moines where humidity keeps temperatures high all through the night.

My first trip to Sacramento was for the Golden West Invitational back in 2003 as a high school athlete. Getting there a couple of days early, we were able to watch the end of the NCAA Championships. Those two days were a rare glimpse of running outside my home state (or even home conference) and solidified my desire to compete at the Division 1 level. This will also be my first race back at Hornet Stadium since the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Qualifying for those meets and watching the older guys do incredible things (Chris Solinsky closing in 4:00 for his last mile in the 5km to pull away with the title for example) drove me to take my running to the next level. Rather than being excited to simply qualify for the meet, I wanted to be an All-American and shoot for a national title. Returning after 7 years, I'll be one of the veterans this time, and hopefully our 10km race will inspire younger athletes the same it did me.

I'll be trying out another twitter contest looking to drum up some excitement heading into the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Anyone who retweets the contest tweet and follows me will be entered to win the pair of Brooks Wire 3 spikes that I'll be wearing during the race. For those who can't be in the stands in Sacramento, check out the live feed for all events here.

Feel free to check out last week's training below. The workouts and volume have really tapered off since the Portland Track Festival from the previous week, so I'm hoping to feel mentally and physically fresh heading into Thursday's race. Thanks again for reading and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 10 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 90 minutes off 40 minutes 14





Tuesday 9 + drills and strides 5
14





Wednesday 4 4 mile tempo (18:37) + 4 x 200 (29.1, 29.0, 28.5, 27.3)
14





Thursday 6
40 minutes 6





Friday 10 + 6 x 150 5
15





Saturday 10 4 30 minutes 14





Sunday 5 x 1k @ 2:57 + 4 x 200 @ 30 off
11





TOTAL


88

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Portland Track Fest recap and Looking ahead to the USATF Champs: Last Week's Training

Sunday at the Portland Track Festival was my first race back since the London Marathon, and it was quite a drop in distance. I haven't run a 1500 in a couple of years, so I knew it was going to be painful. I ran evenly, but I didn't have the wheels to close on the last lap and ended up with a 3:43. My PR is only 3:42.8, so I can't be too disappointed with the result given that it was my season debut. Deep down, I would have liked to get a new PR, but looking back, it just wasn't realistic. While my track training has been going very well, I needed hard effort like this to shake the rust off. It was excellent preparation heading into the 10,000 meters at the USATF Outdoor Championships. Following the 1500 I paced the 5000 meters for 5 laps at 65 seconds per quarter, which ended up making it a well-rounded training day. The meet overall was a huge success; all events went off on time, pace-makers were in place for the Sunday events, and the crowd turnout was great. All you have to do is take a look at the starlists/results to see that the Portland Track Festival is turning into one of the country's premier distance events. 

The entries are settled for the USATF Outdoor Championships, and the 10,000 meters looks strong for an off-year. By off-year I mean that there is no World Championship or Olympic Team to qualify for. You can check out the startlist on the USATF website; you'll see plenty of familiar names. It will be interesting to see how the pace plays out, but no matter what the pace is, I think fans will be in for an exciting finish. I haven't had the opportunity to race in Sacramento since my sophomore year at Oklahoma State for the NCAA Track Championships, and I'm excited to return. I have fond memories from the Golden West Invitational in high school, and two NCAA Championships as a college athlete. The weather is suitable in the later evening, the stands are big enough for an excellent crowd and atmosphere, and the warm-up facilities are the best I've encountered at a track meet. 

Airfare cost and hotel availability are also a bonus when compared to previous locations. The athletes who will benefit the most from this are those just out of school or those just on the cusp of making the championships. Since the USATF only funds the top 4 athletes in each event for travel, it is very expensive for a young athlete without support to travel to a meet like this. It's also important to note that the top 4 ranked athletes in an event usually already have some kind of travel support from a sponsor or club, so they typically aren't the athletes in the greatest need of the funding. After plane tickets, hotel, entry fee, and meals, an athlete can easily be looking at well over $1000 in travel expenses. While it is still expensive, having the meet in Sacramento will help mitigate these costs and help those younger athletes who will be vying to make US teams in the near future. 

Feel free to check out my training from last week at the bottom of the page. The workouts have continued to progress, and I've been enjoying the lower volume training. This week was a 90 mile week and is dropping all the way to the outdoor championships. 90 miles is a far cry from the 150 I was hitting just months ago, but the higher intensity of the track workouts still has me plenty exhausted. Thanks again for reading and don't forget to go see the Brooks PR Invitational at Renton Memorial Stadium this coming weekend. It will feature the fastest high school athletes in the country in a rare opportunity to see them in the same place at the same time. Also, if you'd like, follow me here on twitter for more updates. 


Where                                  Renton Memorial Stadium
When                                    June 21st, 1:30pm-4:30pm (doors open at noon)
Why                                       Come watch the fastest and deepest high school meet of the year in our backyard!!
                                                1000 technical PR Invite t-shirts to the first spectators arriving
                                                Come Meet the Brooks Beasts
Cost                                       $10 per person, kids 6 and under will be FREE (all proceeds go to the Renton School District)

Reply on Facebook                                          Meet Entries                                      Blog

Week 9 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 10 + drills and strides 5 40 minutes 15





Tuesday 3 mile tempo @ 71.0, 4 min rest, 3 x mile (4:17, 4:15, 4:13) 4
16





Wednesday 12 easy off 30 minutes 12





Thursday 30 minutes easy, 6 x 200 (29-30), 25 minutes easy 5
14





Friday 8 5
13





Saturday off 8+drills and strides 40 minutes 8





Sunday 2 mile shake-out Race 1500, pace 2km @ 65 for 5000 meter race
12





TOTAL


90