I'm now working on my fifth consecutive week of 70-plus miles. My leg turnover has returned. I'm able to power up the hills in the Chagrin Valley--hills that were kicking my ass in the days and weeks following the North Coast 24-Hour Endurance Run on Oct. 3-4. I haven't felt even a hint of discomfort in my once-ailing foot. Except for some minor aches in my hamstrings (what else is new?), I'm feeling mighty good and am primed for a big 2010.
So far, 2010 will include the Boston Marathon (already registered) in April and the Mohican Trail 100-Mile Run (comped) in June. I'm planning to run either the Buckeye Trail 50K (already registered) in mid-July or the Burning River 100 later that month. The 2010 BR100 will host the USATF 100-mile national championships and if I'm healthy from Mohican I'd like to join in on the action. Nothing stokes me more than a 100-miler.
Between now and then, I'm just going to enjoy running and train as hard as I can. For the rest of 2009--only about three more weeks--I'm avoiding anything really fast and am instead just training at about 7:15-7:45 pace. I did 21.4 miles a few Sundays ago and it was easy. I did 17.5 miles last Sunday and it felt like 5 miles. Time off from speed is really paying dividends. I feel very strong.
I'm also doing some cross-training and am continuing with my core strengthening. Every Monday I cycle on my indoor trainer for about 35 minutes and feel a nice burn in my lower quads--historically a weak spot for me that I plan to address this winter. Right now I'm not running at all on Mondays and thus on Tuesdays when I go for my first run of the week (my weeks are Monday-Sunday) I feel fresh as a daisy. I'll resume running seven days a week and will start upping the mileage come January 1 when my training for the Boston Marathon starts in ernest.
In terms of running, I think right now--as I log 70 miles a week and am enjoying a little extra leisure time that would otherwise be spent on a second run of the day--I'm exactly where I need to be. The goal is to be strong, fresh and well-rested by January 1, and then start amping it up to get ready for Boston. I may add a super-easy week somewhere between now and New Year's Day just for added effect.
One thing I've learned over the past few years is that what you're doing now will play a major role in what you do this summer. I'm emphasizing the enjoyment of running and not pushing myself too hard while still logging decent mileage and attempting to eat well.
The plan for Boston is simple--and it revolves around tempo runs and hills. No one approach works for everyone. For me, I've found that tempo running is critical. I'll be cranking out weekly tempo runs on my treadmill, unless Mother Nature allows me to go fast outdoors. I'm also going to do intervals but my treadmill maxes out at only 6:00/mile so going really fast will not be possible. I may try to get to an indoor track or club treadmill a few times to crank out 5:35s. We'll see. The plan revolves around tempo running and hills of the uphill and downhill varieties.
The hills will help me in Boston--and also at Mohican. Many may not know this, but Chagrin Falls is an amazing place to run and become a great hill runner. Everywhere you turn there's a long hill. I used to do zig-zags from Chagrin River Road up to Som Center Road/91 via the very hilly Jackson and Miles roads and will start doing that again soon.
I'd like to run a 2:55 or better at Boston.
Looking back on 2009, here's how I see the year:
Mohican 100--taking the lead at mile 86, not stopping at the mile-95 aid station and ultimately winning the race by 22 minutes.
Most surprising result
17:39 at the Aurora 5K. I was in much better shape than I'd thought.
Most fun race
This is tough, but I'd have to say the Lt. JC Stone 50K. This race was planned and executed flawlessly and I really enjoyed the whole experience.
Most frustrating race
Cleveland Marathon. I never got in a rythym and the wind really took a toll on me. I didn't have much in the bank when I crossed in 2:59:02.
130.67 miles at the North Coast 24-Hour. I left at least 5 and maybe as many as 10 miles on that course. I had a meltdown in the early-morning hours of Sunday and was finally able to regroup after covering only about 2-3 miles in one hour.
Most rewarding race
Through the North Coast 24-Hour, I raced over $2,500 for University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital to support its child-life programs. Rainbow cares for every child who enters its doors; no child is turned away. When the going really got rough at the NC24, I thought about all the kids and parents at Rainbow for whom I was running...and I found a way to keep going.
Crossing the Mohican 100 finish line with my arms raised.
The last 7 hours of the North Coast 24-Hour were hell. I went to places in my soul I've never gone before--and hope never to revisit. I'm not sure when my next 24-hour will be, but at least I'll know what's coming.