Competitive Jerks Racing and Training - 2023 (Read 574 times)


Intl. correspondent

    Steve - you've got it. Just go out at PR pace and never look back.

    PRs: 1500 4:54.1 2019 - 5K 17:53 2023 - 10K 37:55 2023 - HM 1:21:59 2021

    Up next: some 800m race (or time trials) / Also place in the top 20% in a trail race

    Tool to generate Strava weekly


    Cobra Commander Keen

      Merkle - Once again, great job out there at JFK.

      Longboat - I'm sorry to hear the rehab isn't going as well as you'd like. I do hope you're having a blast on that trip.

      Flavio - Whey protein! My scrawny wirey runner's self needs an ironic "bro, do you even lift?" shirt to wear to the gym.
      Good week with the bug. Feeling better now?

      DKT - I know this is late - About 5 days between noticing symptoms and it really hitting me, yeah. Turns out it was RSV - DDs 1 & 3 shrugged it off, while DD2 and I were hit pretty hard. DW has completely avoided it thus far.
      Great job in Philly, especially with that ill-timed bug! Far better than any of my marathon attempts while sick.

      Mark - Nice week. The drop in mileage could be good to help clear out whatever hit your system.

      Fishy - Congratulations!

      Steve - Solid week. How far is a lap of the park?

      My apologies for not wishing all of our racers good luck late last week as I spent most of Thursday and Friday doing some combination of sleeping and coughing. My affliction turned kinda nasty Wednesday afternoon/evening. I'm certainly on the mend, but it's taking longer than I care for. Easing back into things means that I won't hit my yearly mileage goal, but I suppose that's alright. Nothing but short and easy runs for the foreseeable future until this has cleared out of my system.

      5k: 17:58 11/22 │ 10k: 37:55 9/21 │ HM: 1:23:22 4/22 │ M: 2:56:05 12/22


      Upcoming Races:


      OKC Memorial 5k - April 27

      Bun Run 5k - May 4



        All right gang. I threw together a race report on the train ride home.  I’ll give fair warning it is long so I may break it into multiple posts like RP showed me!  TLDR- great training block and great race.


        Philadelphia Marathon race report

        11/19/2023 7:00 AM start



        A goal: sub 3

        B goal: Faster than Sugarloaf

        C goal: PR sub 2:58Tight lippedx


        Finished: 2:56:42 new PR and 2nd place in my AG




        Finished Sugarloaf in May with a sub 3 race.  Goal as to train for summer and target Philly for another sub 3 attempt.  Honestly wasn’t sure I could PR but just wanted to at least maintain fitness and have a shot.


        May - September: 

        I pretty much jumped right back not training and averaged 70 MPW with a LR 18-20 most weeks.  This was the first time I had trained through a summer since 2014 and I was not expecting how much paces sufferer.  I found the only workouts that went well were the ones that targeted shorter intervals.  Track workouts very early in the AM were the best.  I basically gave up on the idea of long stretches of HMP and MP during LRs and concentrated on just putting in the miles and work.  Hoping that the cooler temps would bring this aspect back later.  I can honestly stay this was the most mentally challenging part of the journey.  At times questioning if I had reached my potential given my age.  


        I never wanted to quit …but I was considering adjusting expectations. Raced a 10K in August at 6:30 which is slower than I hoped my HMP would be at the time. Huge shoutout to my RA forum friend here. It was amazing to be able to vent and hear others handling the same stuff. Very helpful to hear others reassure me that the work WILL pay dividends in the fall.


        September- November: 


        Cooler weather absolutely brought back the mojo.  Most weeks in the mid 70s with 2-3 workouts.  What was most encouraging at this time were my HMP workouts hitting 6:20 pace comfortably (sometimes faster) and I actually had to concentrate to slow down the Tempo segments of several workouts.  Larger blocks of T and MP work were all of a sudden manageable and felt great. I tried to do 2 MLR of 13 miles each week.  I really like these and I think they have huge fitness benefits.


        Ran the Baystate half in October in 1:25Tight lippedx.  I had set an aggressive goal of a PR and although I didn’t achieve it the results gave me confidence that I was in sub 3 shape and could make a run at Philly.  2 weeks later I had a LR with with 2 x 5K scheduled for Sunday and just felt amazing.  Changed it up on the fly and ran 10xMP fast finish.  It was just the confidence booster I needed.  Couple workouts and it was time for taper.  I did a steep taper going 80, 50 then 40 (including the race).  I wanted to make sure I was fully recovered.




        Train trip down was uneventful any relatively easy.  I wanted to get there early and not rush.  Also planned on meeting some RA imaginary friends.  I had arranged with the hotel for an early arrival and had booked in July so I was a little bummed (actually quite pissed) to find that my room wasn’t ready an they would call me when I could check in.  I decided I was not going to let it get into my head so I dropped my bags off and headed down towards the expo.  


        The walk to the expo was nice.  I walked the outdoor fair they had set up and found my first Cheesesteak of the trip.  Expo was uneventful, grabbed my bib and headed back to the hotel.  My room was still not ready.  I kept calm and eventually checked into the room.  Headed back out to meet up with DKT and Dwave from the RA forum.  Had a great conversation and headed back to thee room.  Pizza for dinner and an early bed.  

        5K 18:36 (2023), 10K 39:40 (2022), 1/2 1:24:37 (2023), full 2:58:36 (2015) 


          Race Day:


          Woke up at 4 AM for coffee and a blueberry muffin. Shower and ready for thee race.  Given the temps in the 40s I opted for shorts, long sleeve shirt and throw away gloves.  I had also picked up a pair of sweats and sweater to ditch at the start. Walk over and security was over and I lined up in the Maroon corral at about 6;40.  Plenty of time.  I spotted the 3 pace and was planning on sticking with that group for at least 13 miles then adjusting from there.  I didn’t get too close because I wanted to use the group as a reference not to actually run with them.  Drop the clothes, national anthem and were off!!


          Miles 1-4 (7:01, 6:49, 6:38, 6:46)


          Very crowded and I basically kept up with traffic.  There was not room to pass or maneuver here so I concentrated on not getting tripped up.  There wasn’t anyone monitoring the corals that I could see so there were quite a few runners who lined up way to far in front and had no business trying to run a 7min pace.  I was happy with the splits given I wanted to start slow and controlled.  I stayed away from the crowd by the 3 pacer and was still annoyed that people were “jockeying for position” at mile 3 of a F-ing marathon. It was clear that this group was going to be spread across the whole road and I could either deal with it or get the hell away and I chose the latter.      


          Miles 4-8 (6:37, 6:46, 6:37, 6:44)


          I passed the mob and was treated to open road!  I was happy with the decision and the pace actually felt easy.  This section is run through the city and the crowds were awesome.  I fell in with runners that seemed to be going the same pace and just enjoyed the city and scenery.  Weather was perfect and I ditched the gloves. I hadn’t looked at my watch and the only pace feedback I had was the mile splits as they came in.  I noticed that Garmin was a bit behind but that is to be expected. Took in Gatorade and 2 caffeinated shot blocks at 4.


          Miles 8-12 (6:34, 6:51, 6:34, 6:32)


          I was a bit concerned with mile 9 coming in at 6:34.  It still felt easy but I was worried I was going to fast and would pay for it later.  I slowed it down for a bit soon settled back into what felt right.  I remember reading in Pfitz that the first 13 should feel easy and I was surprised to discover that it still did feel relatively easy.  My legs in particular felt great.  No fatigue to speak of so I kind of decided to go with the flow and run by feel.  I hadn’t looked at my watch and decided “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Took in water and 2 blocks at 8.


          Miles 12-16 (6:40, 6:40, 6:36, 6:26)


          I knew that this was the hill section and just went with it.  On the uphills I shortened my stride a bit and on the downs just ran at a comfortable pace. I was stating to feel the effects but honestly still felt really good.  I recalled (also Pfitz) that this section I should just try not to drift.  It is easy to drop 10 seconds in pace and not even realize it.  Still wasn’t looking at the watch and the splits kept coming in very consistent.  Mile 16 is mostly downhill to the river and the out and back section to Manyuk. I was a bit alarmed when I heard 6:26 but I inured it’s worked so far… Gatorade at 2 stops and shot blocks at 12.

          Miles 16-20 (6:40, 6:33, 6:47, 6:37)


          Onto the river and the out and back.  I reach for my mile 16 blocks and WTF they are not in the back pocket.  I thought for sure I had resolved this issue by putting them in the back zipper pocket but there not there!  Small bit of panic starts to seep in.  I must not have zipped it.  FUCK!!  I remember there will be shot blocks on the course so I’m now hyper focused on not missing the stop where they give the out.  I always bring my own so I’m not used to having to concentrate on this.  Luckily mile 19 I see the right before the water stop.  I grab and realize they only give a half sleeve so I greedily stuff them into my pocket and grab another at the last station.  At this point I’m mentally back and have my fuel.


          Miles 20-26.2 (6:38, 6:34, 6:37,6:48, 6:43, 6:41, 6:35)


          Crowds at turn-around are awesome.  At this point my non-functioning brain understands that sub-3 is going to happen and that a PR is possible if I can just keep the pace for the last 6.  I keep telling myself this is shorter than a lunch run. Mile 24 is really hard, nothing specific but I just want this to be over. I try to speed up a bit but there is really not much left.  I decide to wait and “sprint” the last .2 (.5 on the garmin).  I give it all I have and see the finish line and the clock says 2:56:50…I literally can’t believe it and sprint (felt like a sprint) and crossed seeing 2:57 but my brain didn’t compute that it was not CHIP time so I was under 2:57.


          It’s over:


          Staggered and grabbed some water (multiple bottles) and made my way out.  I was thrilled but needed a shower, food and to just sit down and absorb. 

          5K 18:36 (2023), 10K 39:40 (2022), 1/2 1:24:37 (2023), full 2:58:36 (2015) 



            I see your race recap, Fishy, and I raise you mine ;-)

            But seriously, nice recap. It's kind of cool to see a recap for the same race I ran, and great to see your race broken down like that, especially the parts that remind me it wasn't all sunshine and easy miles. Congrats again on your awesome, well-earned PR and 2nd AG! In a race this size, that's a real accomplishment.


            Thanks so much for all the well wishes and congratulatory notes, everyone. I really appreciate/d it.


            I needed to collect all my thoughts from the past few days to figure out some of the reasons why I went from thinking I could run 3:25, then 3:23, then barely going sub 3:30. But I’m happy with the result. It’s a bit of a magical thing that the PR happened despite everything, and I learned a lot from this experience. Even with being sick, I had struggles that had nothing to do with the illness (as far as I know), and looking at what other people did/have been doing, I realize that I have been treating my running like I do many things in my life: a lot of everything, but not enough true consistency or focus on one thing (yeah, I wrote a dissertation, but many people don’t realize it’s really just a bunch of long papers put together). What follows is a bit of navel-gazing about the training, overall, but I continue with the race recap below. 


            Some of my strengths that I’ve built on over the past year that I want to continue: 


            Ultra endurance:  Knowing I can handle the pain of a 50k or 40-miler means that I have more faith in my ability to take marathon pain. My mental game is stronger, and I’ve learned that it’s all about relentless forward motion, no matter how one is feeling. 


            Weight: I am/was at an ideal race weight.  It may not be the best distribution, but weight is not an issue for me. 


            Cross training: I did some strength training and cross training. I hadn’t done that during my Jacksonville training cycle, and it’s what served me in Berlin, where I got my last PR. 


            Heat adaptation: I really benefited from training in 80-degree weather and 90% humidity to the cold, dry weather of Philly. Unfortunately, due to being sick, my heart rate was elevated above where I’d like it to be early in the race with this kind of weather, so it wasn’t as helpful as it could have been. 


            A good training plan: Even though I interrupted it, I had hired a coach and had a solid training plan. It challenged me in all the right ways and gave me practice in the things I needed, like hills. 


            Support: Believe it or not, having a group of people to share in the ups and downs of the training and the race, both virtually and in-person, makes a big difference in mental strength. It’s more than just knowing there are people out there who will see you if you fail— always a motivation, it’s that there are people even watching you and care how you do. For example, I’ve only known y’all on this forum for a only a little while, and I have my support networks outside of this too, but coming on here a little under a year ago has made a difference to my running and competition. 


            I know I need to work on my weaknesses: 


            Mileage: While I know women who throw down 3:20s running 40- 50 miles a week, I may be someone who needs a bit more miles. I also don’t know how smart it was to run an ultra in the middle of training, and I only built up for 3 months. I probably needed a few more weeks, if not another month, of consistent mileage. 


            Workouts: my coach gave me more intervals, hills, and shorter tempos this cycle. I was missing MP runs, long tempos, and long-runs/fast finishes. I know that missing out on 3 weeks of workouts, with the exception of a race, did not help.


            Nutrition: Even when I’m not limited in my eating by a sickness, I’ve been eating less the last few years than I used to. I’m not consciously doing it, or purposefully losing weight, but it’s been happening and I didn’t do much to stop it. I also probably drink too much alcohol during training. It inhibits my recovery and it’s empty calories, which is especially a problem if I’m not getting enough quality calories to begin with. I don’t eat totally unhealthily (fruits and veggies make up the majority of 2 out of 3 meals a day), but I could probably put more emphasis on better nutrition. 


            Muscle imbalances: In the race Sunday, I noticed that I wore down my quads way too early, likely because I don’t have enough strength in my other muscles. This has only been a problem for the past 2 years, and I don’t know why now and not before, but I want to do something about it. I know my quads are too tight and my hamstrings lack stability. I learned this two days before the race, when I saw a PT last minute and was asked to do a stabilizing exercise activating my hamstrings, and I was shaky.  He told me I generally have too many muscles that are too tight. And I could probably strengthen my glute muscles too. Could I do more strength training? Yes. I need to commit to doing it 2 times a week; once is not enough. I need to combine that with stability training. 


            Hills: While it’s good I was proactive about the hill work, and I think the hills affected me less than they would have someone else coming from flat lands, overpass workouts are not enough. Or they were done at too slow of a pace. If I practiced running faster, I probably wouldn’t have been fatigued by the hills as much as I was. I am also thinking I need to do more stairs, which may also help with hamstring issue. 


            What went well before the race: 

            The optimism, the commitment, the weather, the fact that I could get some fuel in me morning of, that my RHR went steady and my HRV raised a bit, that the cold part never manifested in a cough or sniffles, that I made it to the starting line, that I had a free course for about 500m before others started catching up and I caught up with the last corral, that things felt pretty okay until mile 11, and that I was able to get some fast miles after that too.  I was dressed appropriately for the occasion, not too warm and not too cold. Had sunscreen on my face and my sunglasses on (pity the folks who had nothing to protect their eyes when they ran straight into the sun). I also have a knack for knowing just how much to hydrate, so that was never an issue. I had a lot going for me.


            What did not go well:

             Feeling sick starting Wednesday. All the classic cold symptoms: I had a hard time eating breakfast, I got chills during classes, my eyes were watery and I was kind of tired, but not able to fall asleep that evening. I took zinc before bed on Wednesday, and that may have done something to my stomach, because I woke up nauseous Thursday, and still felt the fatigue and beginning-of-cold symptoms. Friday I felt sick during a lot of my classes. Almost thought of leaving the day halfway through. Barely got six meals in Thursday and Friday. I was not carb-loading the way I would have liked. I started noticing the back of my knee was really sore Tuesday through Thursday, maybe because of not wearing the running shoes (with the inserts, that provide stability) as much because of the taper, maybe because of the driving Veteran's Day weekend (note to self: do not agree to any out-of-town trips the week before a marathon). Saw a PT to get something done late Thursday. It was kind of helpful. Saturday was similar with fueling. Did my best, but I couldn’t finish a lot of the foodstuffs I started. I may have done too much walking, but I also didn’t do a shakeout run, so I don’t think that significantly impacted me. 


            Race recap: 


            OT: 3:29:40. Off original 3:25 goal by 4 minutes and 40 seconds. Still a PR by 59 seconds. 


            While I was running, at least still early on, I was thinking that I’d be able to write that the drama before the race was a lot more than during. I guess I found a way to add some drama to the race itself, as well. 


            Here are my splits: 







            8:00 /mi



            7:52 /mi



            7:45 /mi



            7:45 /mi



            7:48 /mi



            7:57 /mi



            8:00 /mi


            As one can see, the race started well enough. I did start 12 minutes later than I should have, because I missed my corral start. Although I left my place at 5:17 (after going back up the stairs twice because I keep forgetting something), I didn’t get to the race start until around 5:50am. The time it took to get through the security, then the bathroom, then the gear check was too much. I was still in line for the gear check at 6:55am, seriously contemplating if I should just say goodbye to my change of clothes and carry my phone, and I heard them call my wave as I was handing off my bag. Next time I’m a solo traveler,  I’ll book closer to the race start, so I don’t have to worry about gear check. 


            Once I got to the corrals, I figured out how to be at the start of the next one going, so I had the road to myself for about 500ms. I tried to keep myself slow, but I also didn’t know if I could trust my watch. It felt way too easy. As I caught the trail of the next group, I was forced to slow down, which helped bring the average of the first two miles to where I wanted it to be. Overall, starting with a slower group was perhaps mentally helpful, as I was constantly passing people, very rarely getting passed—even those last miles when I slowed down. 


            I honestly don’t remember much of the early miles. I remember trying to tell myself to stay slow, looking for darkwave around miles 1 and 6; I remember a blur of important national monuments but not taking them in the same way I did the day previously; I remember thinking, well, this is going better than expected; I remember my watch telling me that my early activity fitness was above baseline; I remember crossing the 5k mark and feeling good about the average pace, but knowing now I need to start picking it up; I remember lots of bobbing and weaving, though I did try to also just announce myself to that I’d be squeezing in gaps, to avoid too much lateral running; I remember taking a gel around mile 4 and also being grateful it stayed down. 


            Apropos gels: I had 6 Gus, 4 un-caffienated and 2 caffeinated. I took a gel at 6:30am before the race, anticipating that I’d be starting at 7 and want that fuel to kick start. I also kind of wanted to see how my stomach would react. The gel, still warmed by my pre-race triple-layers, was delicious and while I had to burb a few times in the minutes after that, it stayed down. During the race, each time I took a gel, I had a phase of burping, and a stomach ache or nausea a couple miles later. After the first time, I reminded myself of a mantra that I’d developed Saturday, as I realized the sickness was also impacted by my mood: “Your mind is stronger, Trotter.” I came back to that multiple time, sometimes preceded by telling my body to “shut up.” Every time I had body discomfort, I just said, “your mind is stronger.” I don’t think it always makes sense—some things one cannot mentally determine, but it worked for me to a point. [edited to add:] After I'd taken my 4th gel around mile 16, I realized I'd miscalculated, and that I'd want more fuel between then and the end than the last gel I had, so I did grab a half a Clif's sleeve and ate those between miles 18 and 20. I'd trained with them, I just don't like chewing while racing.


            There were some beautiful stretches in the race; I solidly remember a point where we were on the road to where the parks were, and runners had the whole street to themselves. Both sides of the street were lined with big yellow, orange and red-leaved trees and the sun was shining through the leaves on this colorful mass of people, more visible because it was part of the rolling hills and that moment we were heading slight downhill. It felt really good to be alive and running in that moment. Too bad the whole race can’t be like that. 


            I’m sure there’s something to calculate about where the hills were and where my quads starting feeling sore, but I remember I could already feel it during mile 11. I had the same problem last year during Jacksonville (a little later, though, more like mile 13), but this time I decided it was normal, and I remembered others on the forum mentioning that they also had a phase around the middle where things got harder, but then easier again. So I had faith I could keep going. Still, my splits show that I slowed down around mile 14. I managed to not psyche myself out, though, and keep a steady rhythm as much as possible. I just moved myself up hills and let gravity carry me down. I got a little annoyed when people were slower than me on the downhills, and I did wonder if I was maybe taking them too fast sometimes, and whether I would regret it later (not much of a spoiler alert, but I did. At least a little).   


            I managed to have pretty good control over my thoughts and just stay optimistic, but that wavered at mile 18. The quad soreness was getting really uncomfortable, and more and more muscles on the back and front of the upper thigh were starting to make themselves known. I did have handle on pushing the negative thoughts away, but all of a sudden it didn’t work, and I think it’s also where I may have hit “the wall.” It didn’t help that we had yet another uphill at that point, and the power I was feeling all through the first half was long gone before the turnaround in Manayunk.


            Still, I had "I am not throwing away my shot" written on my hand, so I was digging deep and relied on some of my stubbornness and all the optimism people showered me with these last few days to just keep it going. Can’t forget all the virtual wishes, but meeting up with darkwave and Fishy was great. Plus, I’d met Lauren Fleshman at the expo and gotten her to sign my bib. I did try and channel the power of Fleshman a few times throughout the race, especially at the end, but I was not able to do an impressive kick like her. The music helped too, at this point. 


            I had turned on my music around mile 7 or 8, where it became more rural. I turned it off at Manayuk, and then on again in the quieter bit between Manayuk and the city proper, turning them off when the crowd support got really strong again. Heard lots of people say my name, some even correctly!  Turns out I did pick some of my music judiciously. Boston's "Long Time" is always great, but then Halsey’s “Graveyard,” The Script’s “Hall of Fame,” One Republic’s “How Does It Feel to Be Human?” and so on. I did skip a lot of songs that were either too slow or not hitting right. Nickleback’s “Last Day” came on mile 21 or 22 or so, and that was very helpful committing to the last miles when I’d convinced myself that I wanted to still go sub 3:30 and I would push through the end, even with some of those discouraging last splits. 


            I went through the 20-mile mark thinking of what Fishy said about it just being a 10K, but there’s no such thing as “just a 10k” when it’s the last 10k of the marathon. I think I had another lapse at 35k (knowing I had 7k left), but I was able to convince myself to just keep pushing for it—I just told myself how mad I’d be at myself after the race if I gave up now. Somehow, I was more motivated by my post-race self than anything else. My quads and hamstrings started getting borderline crampy, but never actually turned into one—I don’t know what I would have done if I’d gotten one, I was spitting in the wind at that point. 


            Despite being  absolutely uncomfortable and really just trying to keep relentless forward motion, the beautiful fall day and glorious stretch along the river miles 22-25 did not escape me. I could imagine myself running or riding along there during training runs. It reminded me of running along the Elbe in Hamburg or the Havel in Berlin. 


            When I went through mile 25 with 3:18-something on the cumulative time, I tried to do running math and ended up with thinking that if I did the mile in 10 minutes and the last 400 in 2 minutes, I’d still be under 3:30. I didn't actually do anything to follow that (probably thank goodness) In those last miles, I had avoided looking at the splits or the total time, because I knew if I started calculating a minimum, I’d probably go for the bare minimum, and knowing me, I’d miscalculate  and risk it. So I just pushed the absolute limit at that point. It’s a good thing I did, because all of a sudden, the finish was there, and I’d made it just under 3:30.


            I barely registered the finish… I had kept looking for the 26 mile marker and the finish seemed so small, so nondescript as I ran through it. But then when I saw the runners before me stop, I felt a rush of relief, hit my watch, and came to a standstill. I had an immediate dizziness, which I don’t recall from previous races. So I know I was on empty at that point. I wanted water mostly, and collected my medal with a little burst of happiness of how cool it was with its ringing bell. Walking was hard, but I collected anything and everything that looked appealing to me at that moment— the chicken broth most of all. You would never offer hot chicken broth at a Florida race, but man does it feel good up north. I made a straight shot for the gear trucks, collected my stuff and changed as well as I could (had to ask someone to use their chair to put my stuff on to avoid bending down in any way). I was so relieved to be done, to have gone sub-3:30 after all, to have not given up. I found my Florida running friend and we chatted for a bit in the soul-filling Philadelphia November sunshine before I said I needed to head off to get to my room, take a shower, and head to the airport. Her fiancé joked that I was having quite a day. 


            I made it to the airport with enough time to finally get a Philly cheesesteak and use functioning internet to get some grading done. I typed the majority of this report on the plane, though had to edit a bit due to marathon fog. 


            Moving forward, I have a few races on the calendar, but I’m starting to worry that it’s too much. Or maybe that’s just the race-weary me talking. Right now I don’t want to think about running anything. I can’t believe I ran a marathon, a 40-miler, a 35-miler, and another marathon in the same year. That’s the most race miles I think I’ve ever done in a year, and it’s not done yet. There’s Palm Beaches in 3 weeks, and then there’s the Miami Half 6 weeks later (though technically a new year). I also have an 100-miler in four months. I think it’s too soon, and I don't know if I want to do it (even if I'm able to). I want to take a break, but I also maybe want to use the spring at another Boston '25 qualifying attempt. Not deciding anything in the marathon hangover, though. Trying to enjoy the PR and having finally met a goal I've had since 2015, which was the first marathon I ran all the way through.  


            Also, just because someone has to say it, Fishy, darkwave, and I enjoyed our conversation so much that we didn’t even stop to think we should take a picture… I guess it just means we’ll have to find a way to meet up again to prove that we've actually met.

            Qualifications: I like to run. In Florida. In the summer. At noon.  

            Last race: April 28, Glass City Marathon, 3:29:53. Saw deer; cried; didn't melt in rain or heat. 


            Are we there, yet?

              fishy and Dorothea:  great reading the race reports. PBs are always great. Some come easy, some are a struggle.


              On mileage:  this is cumulative which is why I have a low opinion of most 16 week training programs for the marathon.  Training really starts a year or more before the race.  Running 40-50 mpw for several years leading up to a marathon is far different from running 40-50 mpw for a 16 week schedule.


              Had my first fartlek workout yesterday after months of only easy running. It felt great to run a little faster, though not yet ready for real intervals.

               2024 Races:

                    03/09 - Livingston Oval Ultra 6-Hour, 22.88 miles

                    05/11 - D3 50K, 9:11:09
                    05/25 - What the Duck 12-Hour

                    06/17 - 6 Days in the Dome 12-Hour.





                Fishy - phenomenal! Outstanding race and thanks for the detailed report. Getting 2nd AG in a race that size is really something to crow about. A few comments:


                • I totally feel the age thing—every time I hit a rough patch, I think “is this it?” Always encouraging to see people who can keep it going!
                • The benefits of training when it’s warmer and racing when it’s cooler are real! My top 5 marathon times are in fall races. Great job pushing through the summer torpor, really proving that in training it’s the effort not the pace that matters.
                • MLR—two 13s per week? Impressive. Those are long enough that they don’t wear you out too much, but you definitely feel the time on your feet, at least mentally. My plans used to have a Wednesday 15 every week; I always felt good about that, it was my message to myself that I was in marathon training. For some reason my more recent plans have gone away from that though.
                • On the hotel check-in—funny, the same thing happened to me at Boston. I just went to dinner and got into my room after. They made up for it by comping my breakfast in the hotel restaurant the next morning (I arrived 2 days early), which was about $30.
                • You shower before a race? Do other people here do that?
                • I always enjoy an uneventful report on the actual race! Everything came together and you were just cruising. (Other than the shot block near crisis—dodged that bullet.)
                • There is truly nothing like the feeling of being late in a race, just knowing your main goal is in the bag, and still being in enough control that you’re seeing how much more you can get. I wish that for every marathoner. Doesn’t happen often enough!

                So what’s next?




                  Also, just because someone has to say it, Fishy, darkwave, and I enjoyed our conversation so much that we didn’t even stop to think we should take a picture… I guess it just means we’ll have to find a way to meet up again to prove that we've actually met.


                  Dorothea—FE fail! 
                  I can appreciate it—when I met up with dw and Ian at Chicago, we just sat and chatted for probably 2 hrs at least. We did remember a pic though!


                  OK, off to read the actual meat of your report now…MTA, done. 

                  Huge congrats! A PR is a PR and is to be celebrated, regardless of original goal. Especially with everything you went through—illness, physical issues, ultras, life stuff. Thanks for the great report. Other comments:

                  • LOL on going back upstairs due to forgetting things. At least you didn’t get too much farther! In the days leading up to a marathon, I create a note on my phone listing the things I need to be sure to remember to do/bring, no matter how mundane or obvious. Including things like charging my watch.
                  • Ugh on the gear check. That would be so stressful. I have heard so many horror stories at various races, I’ve tried to avoid it whenever possible. I have been pretty fortunate to get away without it in most cases, due to hotel situation and/or race day weather.
                  • On the Gu—is 6 typical for you? I only do 4 for a marathon. I’m pretty lucky though, that they don’t give me any stomach issues, and just always taste yummy to me.
                  • The mental game—appreciate the look inside your mind. I definitely tell my body to shut up sometimes. But more often I try to tell my brain to shut up. Which is what I recommend to people sometimes. Your legs have been trained to do this, it’s your brain that’s trying to tell you how stupid the whole idea is, and is just screaming at you to stop and walk.
                  • I really felt I was there with you in the late miles! We’ve all been in that mode. You’re on fumes, you run out of mental tricks and you’re just doing everything in your power to keep yourself going.


                  I’ll be interested to see what you decide to do moving forward with races! You definitely have a faster marathon time in you, if everything comes together.




                    Dorothea—FE fail! 
                    I can appreciate it—when I met up with dw and Ian at Chicago, we just sat and chatted for probably 2 hrs at least. We did remember a pic though!


                    OK, off to read the actual meat of your report now…

                    I realized this too late...Even if I did get a pic I'm not sure I would have been able to figure out how to post it here...if it wasn't for flavio's tool you might not even see my weeklies 


                    Dave- The only thing for sure is Boston 2024.  Not sure what's next after (or before) that as I'm still processing.


                    Cal Your last week looks suspiciously similar to your training in the old days...Super solid with plenty of 13 milers.  I might have stolen the idea of doing multiple mid-week 13s from you 

                    5K 18:36 (2023), 10K 39:40 (2022), 1/2 1:24:37 (2023), full 2:58:36 (2015) 


                    Intl. correspondent

                      JMAC - You are now the only one not doing strength training. You are surrounded. Put your hands behind your back and slowly walk out of your fortress while doing split squats.


                      Keen - It's strength that matters! You aren't getting buff, at least not while running the mileage you run heh.
                      I'm feeling better now, thanks for asking.
                      It sounds like you got a nasty bug!
                      The RSV hits babies younger than 12 months, older people, and those immune compromised. So yeah, stop that ultra nonsense 🤡


                      Fishy - Thanks for the race report. It seems to me that if you hurt really bad at mile 24 it means you executed it perfectly!

                      Your training had been very consistent. I'm impressed that you didn't think to train through summer before.


                      DK - Kudos for a PR. Here's something else to add to what went well:
                      - You didn't fade dramatically nor did you suffer from cramps even though you were very near your absolute limit.
                      I cannot emphasise enough how amazing that is!
                      Re: your visit to the PT
                      I think it's pretty standard that all runners will have tons of tight muscles. That's definitely my case, the PTs are always shocked.
                      Careful with the stairs, I tweaked my back once overdoing them.
                      Also stability training is strength training.
                      I'm amazed that you managed to down 6 gels, even if they caused some discomfort. That's a strong stomach!
                      The part that I enjoyed the most in your RR was when you mentioned that at some point you can't just will the suffering away.


                      Cal - I wanted to comment on another thing you said Re: training without fuel. Like I mentioned I (and probably most) do my long runs without any fuel. IIRC the principle is that your body will learn over time to use more fat as fuel, which provides a steady but lower level of energy.

                      And just like with everything else, we humans are vastly different from one another in that ability to turn fat into fuel.

                      Just like we're so different when it comes to jumping ability, strength, mobility, flexibility, recovery from training.

                      PRs: 1500 4:54.1 2019 - 5K 17:53 2023 - 10K 37:55 2023 - HM 1:21:59 2021

                      Up next: some 800m race (or time trials) / Also place in the top 20% in a trail race

                      Tool to generate Strava weekly


                      Cobra Commander Keen

                        Fishy - Thanks for the great RR.


                        DKT - Excellent RR as well. So impressive to run a PR that big while you had a cold. I really think your original "A" goal is well within reach for you.

                        Dave - I also shower before races. Oddly, these are the only runs before which I shower.
                        And you only take 4 gels for a marathon?? I usually have 7 with me (1 as a spare), plus take one right before the start.



                        I felt noticeably better upon waking this morning, though I'm still not 100%. Hopefully that'll come in just a day or two.

                        5k: 17:58 11/22 │ 10k: 37:55 9/21 │ HM: 1:23:22 4/22 │ M: 2:56:05 12/22


                        Upcoming Races:


                        OKC Memorial 5k - April 27

                        Bun Run 5k - May 4



                          Great race reports fishy and dk! I'll come back to comment on them in a bit.


                          JFK 50 Race Report


                          Since the start line is an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from where I’m living in Fairfax, we decided to get up early and drive to the start instead of renting a room. We rose at 2:50 am to ensure we had enough time to get coffee and breakfast in us, and double check that we had packed everything we needed for the day. Instead of my usual pre-marathon breakfast, I instead had a couple of these oat bites filled with apple pie I recently discovered at the store (very addictive lol), and a hefty spoonful of organic peanut butter.


                          There was obviously a pretty thick crowd walking to the start line in Boonsboro, which is one of those adorable small towns that gives you that “cozy” feeling. Before the start, while doing my stretching routine, I saw Russell, who came third in the Rivers Edge Endurance Challenge I did a month ago. It was nice to chat with him for a minute. It eased the nerves. Russell is such a nice guy.


                          Start-5.5 Miles

                          As 6:30 am approaches, they do the National Anthem, a 10 second countdown, and then we are off with an explosion of cheering and all of that usual race energy. I started off too far back. The first mile I am fighting to move forward through the crowd, sometimes being that guy that uses the shoulder of the road. I’m not too stressed though, because 50 miles is a long way. The first couple miles involve some steep climbing on roads until you reach the Appalachian Trail. I strangely find this part relaxing. It’s a nice morning and I’ve been running a lot of incline lately.The only annoying thing is I can’t stop thinking about how heavy my vest feels with the fuel, the two 17-ounce flasks, and two cellphones; one for this dumb heart monitor an arrhythmia specialist is having me wear for a month, and my phone so my parents and girlfriend can use the tracking app to see where I am.


                          The first part of the trail isn’t too bad and doesn’t last long. Just a couple of rocks here and there. Then we are back on pavement for a couple of miles featuring BIG hills. Hills that you just walk because it’s not worth it to run. After a few of these I get irritated, I’d like to start RUNNING again please. I end up next to Russell around mile 4 and we chat a bit. Then we hit the section of the Appalachian Trail that we will be on for the next roughly 10 miles, from about 5.5 to 15.5. Russell pulls ahead since he is much more comfortable with the terrain. At 15.5 miles you come off the trail at Weverton cliffs, and this is where I planned to meet my crew for a shoe swap. So the mentality for road runners like me is, “just survive until Weverton”.


                          AT Trail to Weverton Cliffs: 5.5-15.5 Miles

                          This part absolutely sucked. I completely lost my cool. It’s almost nothing but rocks the whole way. At no point could I find a rhythm, my splits are very slow, and I’m constantly worried that at any moment my IT band might become irritated again. I wish I could have enjoyed this part but I just didn’t. On top of that I’m getting dropped by a lot of people. I curse them in my head, “Enjoy it while it lasts, I’ll see you on the fucking towpath!” I latched on to a runner who seemed to be navigating the rocks well and ran a pace I liked. After a little shy of 15 miles, we begin the infamous switchback section. This is a very steep descent with multiple switchbacks and of course nothing but huge rocks. Up ahead, or I guess below, I hear a loud holler. Some guy had a nasty fall and is bleeding, but he is able to get up and start running again. Yikes. I’m losing my mind. We are hiking down these rocks, I can hear the crowd at Weverton below and this is taking forever. I’m absolutely pissed. I planned on making it to Weverton in about 2.5 hours. I finally made it and found my crew in 2:52. I have thus far consumed some water, and one sleeve of Cliff Bloks. I vent to my parents and girlfriend as I switch from my Hoka Speedgoat 5s to the Hoka Mach 5s I wore during the Erie marathon. Then in a huff I speed off to the towpath.


                          Towpath Miles 15.5-25 (give or take)

                          In my head I think “it’s hunting season… trail runner hunting season!” And it was. I start passing people on this towpath like it’s my job. “You like me now? This is called SPEED”. The towpath is completely flat and winds as it follows the C&O canal. After a few miles I catch up to Russell, we chat a bit, he said I looked nice and springy. Then I’m off and soon alone actually, for several miles. Unfortunately, my left hip flexor starts to hurt soon after I hop on to this towpath I had so looked forward to. But I put up a fight here. Here are my mile splits for miles 17-25, the only ones I’m proud of:


                          7:52, 8:08, 8:16, 8:04, 8:03, 8:07, 8:15, 8:02, 8:16


                          Sometimes it’s hard to remember the fueling, but I know I had a Honeystinger waffle, another sleeve of Cliff Bloks, and a Cliff nut butter bar, and of course more water. I’m fairly certain I didn’t use any of the aid stations during this part.


                          Miles 25-34.4

                          To some extent the hip flexor feels better. But now my IT band is showing signs of irritation, as is my right hip flexor now. I pass the Antietam aid station around mile 27 which had real food, hot dogs and the like. I was tempted but I wanted to keep moving, so I passed on this station as well. The first time I stopped since entering the towpath was at a small aid station a little after mile 28. They had chicken bone broth which I grabbed. This was incredible! Really hit the spot. A couple of other runners took shots of fireball from this station. I decided not to. I pass a couple more people and work my way to the aid station at mile 34.4, which was Christmas themed, a play on The Miracle at 34th Street. I grabbed a pretzel stick which was dipped in white chocolate and a cup of Gatorade. The dipped pretzel stick ended up being the last of the solid food I consumed for the rest of the race, and I only ate half of it. My left patella is starting to hurt, and of course a good bit of overall fatigue is setting in. Things are starting to look grim.


                          Miles 34.4-38.4

                          At this point I am really uncomfortable. My knee hurts, as do both hip flexors and my calves a bit. Clearly something is wrong with my knee at this point, and I start to wonder if I should just drop out. I decide I’ll probably drop out at the aid station around mile 38. During this stretch I ran along side another runner and we chatted a bit. I told him about my knee issue and my desire to drop out. As we approach mile 38, I am dying for this aid station. My flasks are empty, and I feel like dogshit. There was a tease about a half mile before the aid station. There was a crowd but no aid station. Then, finally, the aid station is in sight. I tell the other runner that I am going to stop for a few minutes to take in fluid and decide whether to continue. The last thing he said to me was “think long and hard about it”.


                          I come to a stop. Immediately grab some more bone broth, then Gatorade, then refill one of my flasks with water. The volunteers are asking what I need. I’m hesitating to answer. “Tell them you’re done. You’re hurt and miserable. You have 12 miles left.” Also “No, I can’t do it. This feels wrong. Is THIS really how this ends?” I decide to just walk to a trashcan that is just a bit ahead. Is that… Mom and Dad? Holy shit it is. They surprised me at this stop. I told them everything. They said they are proud no matter what. I had been running for 6.5 hours and I’m limping slightly. Then a spectator, who had run the race in the past, comes up and says this is the most difficult part of the race, and that if I can just make it to the road at mile 41.8, then I’m “done”. This kind lady and my parents all start walking with me and encouraging me. I decided to at least run to the road. I’m off again.


                          Miles 38.4-41.8

                          Awful. This hurts so much. I’m so sick of this towpath, which by the way, you are on for 26.3 miles of the race. There’s no way I can make it to the finish. I finally reach the aid station at 41.8, just before you leave the Godforsaken towpath for the road, in about 7 hours even. Clearly going under 8 hours now is not in the cards. I slam Gatorade and Coke. Some sick part of me looks at the road around the corner and feels compelled to keep going. Off I go. I’ll quit at the next aid station.


                          Miles 41.8-Finish

                          The last 8.4 miles are on country roads with rolling hills. I oddly welcomed them after a marathon of flat towpath. They have signs up that count down the miles remaining; 8,7,6… I stop at each aid station for Gatorade and/or Coke, and I walk the steep hills. Walking/running uphill actually hurts the knee less. With about 5 miles left, I chat a bit with another runner, Robin. We are both in the same boat. He told me he was shooting for a sub 8 since he has been under 3 hours for the marathon, but at this point that clearly won’t happen. He reminded me that finishing is itself an accomplishment. I had forgotten that. At the last aid station, 1.5 miles from the finish, I was informed that the rest of the way is downhill and then flat. When I reached the marker that said 1 mile to go, I was near tears. I had nothing left mentally or physically. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. Approaching the finish line, I put on a very small “kick” to finish strong, as you can see in the video.


                          Official time: 8:23:31.9

                          Some Splits: Mile 15: 2:51:58 (11:28 avg), Mile 27.1: 4:33:37 (10:06 avg), Mile 38.4: 6:22:16 (9:57 avg), Mile 41.8: 7:01:21 (10:05 avg), Towpath segment: 4:02:52 (9:14 avg)


                          I’d like to think that I’m capable of a much faster time than this. This was a long, difficult, and frustrating day. One day I will have my revenge; both with the distance and the race itself.

                          Running Problem

                          Problem Child

                            Fishy wait…that’s it? What happened when you realized you were UNDER 2:57?? Also, is this a moose mug for you? Was there an age group aware other than bragging rights??


                            DK I remember being where you are now. Getting support from the people here elevated my running and kept me motivated which helped me continue to improve. It sounds like you had a lot of fun OVERALL this year even if the ultra kinda sucked.  Youre learning a lot about yourself and what works. Big improvements can happen when running is enjoyable, and running seems to be enjoyable when you see improvements. I personally like to stay around 40 mile weeks during non-race training. 45-60 minute runs during lunch and a 90 minute weekend run seems to make returning to race training easier.  I need to keep some type of speed workout.  Stick with it. Ask questions. Try new things. This may not be a thesis, BUT you can do research and experiments to see different results.

                            I’ll tell you not drinking during marathon training helps. I had plenty of late nights ruin Saturday long runs.  Also plenty of ‘maybe hung over’ long runs. I quit drinking alcohol a little over 4 years ago and it’s given me time to recover, and also get better training in. I was ‘one beer per mile’ acceptable levels of drinking which was easy when I made my own beer. Now…Athletic Brewing and Coors Edge seem to fill the niche of having a beer. 

                            If you’re going to do so many ‘races’ you might burn out.  Darkwave said not to make a decision about another race for 2 weeks after your current one.  This applies to great races and poor races.  If some of those upcoming ones become ‘events’ it might change your passion. Events are just for fun. Races are ‘I want to train hard and sacrifice things in life so I can do my absolute best.’ Events, to me, are going out there and giving it a solid effort knowing you’re not pushing absolute max. 

                            In the pain…been there. I’ve told myself quitting isn’t allowed. I’ve even gotten so deep into the pain cave at Revel Mt Charleston I had myself telling myself ‘all of this pain will go away. Everything will stop. All you have to do is quit right now and everything will stop hurting.  It’s hot. It’s hard. Everyone will understand. Just give up and quit right now and the pain will go away.’ I have that voice the most violent ‘FUCK. YOU.’ and started talking shit to that voice about how hard I’d worked and how much others gave up as well as how much joy I’d rob THEM of just because I quit when things got hard. So just know you’re not alone in pushing through the hard times. I even told my buddy last night ‘that part of me comes out during every training cycle and every time there is a run where that part of me (the quitter) dies a painful death.’


                            cross training/stairs/workouts don’t have to be hours long.  I have TRX bands for home use and I’ve started the AMRAP AB Workout in Garmin.  10 minutes.  I get myself off the couch knowing I don’t even have to change for a 10 minute ab workout. Give it a shot. Set a personal goal of 2 times a week and pick the time.  If you do it at 9pm or noon or 4am.  It’s the consistency you’ll see makes the best improvements.  Heck…look at my sit up journey.  I went from never doing any to getting 4-5 more just in a month. Now I’m trying to focus on form and make sure I’m using my abs instead of my legs because ‘the purpose of the workout’ is abs. 

                            congratulations on the PR. Be happy. Rose this high through December and January. Build the base for an improved 2024 version of yourself.  


                            Steve yeah…what Flavio said.  Checkers or wreckers.

                            Cal if I don’t see you at CIM I wish you the best of luck. I’m glad you’re back to the asshole no nonsense runner we know you are. I think I’ll be crossing the line in the 3:30-3:40 range but I’ll have my phone on me if you want to text a meet up. I’d like to meet you and your sub-par competitive rival.

                            Many of us aren't sure what the hell point you are trying to make and no matter how we guess, it always seems to be something else. Which usually means a person is doing it on purpose.

                            VDOT 53.37 

                            5k18:xx | Marathon 2:55:22

                            Running Problem

                            Problem Child

                              mmerkle congratulated you on the Strava thing.  Kudos here for finishing and making it through the struggle.  What you encountered is common when you don’t know what you don’t know.  People actually feel that way during marathons. When you get the positive encouragement from friend (new, imaginary or old) and family to do what you want it really helps.  Knowing you’re not alone suffering also helps. I totally think you could go sub-8. Knowing the course you could find a way to run rocky stuff.  I had to learn this myself. Perhaps you can find a shoe for both technical rocky terrain AND roads.  I’m sure your brand makes something you could get along with. Just know, FOR ME, those knobby lugs so wonderful for rocky stuff can suck dick for roads and feel like running in cleats without the ‘I’m going to slip and eat shit’ feeling. Just painful on the foot for the few I’ve done it with. Oddly, the Nike Pegasus Trail seems to work good enough for me.


                              so what sucked more….sub-3 marathon pace with a 20 mph headwind in a shit storm, or the worst part of the 50 miler?


                              hopefully the knee has become less swollen. Don’t always take your road speed for advantage.  It could help at JFK, but there might be some folks better at hills with enough of a lead you can’t catch them. Also, they might be doing this as a training run for an upcoming 100 miler. Brazil’s Bend 100 miler is in Texas at the beginning of December. Across The Years is in Arizona at the end of December. 😘

                              Many of us aren't sure what the hell point you are trying to make and no matter how we guess, it always seems to be something else. Which usually means a person is doing it on purpose.

                              VDOT 53.37 

                              5k18:xx | Marathon 2:55:22


                                Mmerkle—holy shit that was a gripping tale. If I didn’t already know you finished it, I’d have been sure you dropped. It’s pretty insane that you were able to push through all that agony. Mad props. I don’t have a lot of interest in ever running an ultra anyway, despite a number of run buds who do them routinely, but this report is certainly not much of a sales pitch, lol. You are going to need some serious recovery time I’m guessing.

                                I was going to comment on the 2:50 AM wakeup, but I’m guessing that was the easiest part of your day. I had a marathon about that distance from home, and instead I opted for a hotel near the start, for one less thing to worry about in the morning.