Jack Daniels 10k Plan – Week 1

I've decided to start doing the Jack Daniels 10k plan to try to get some structure to my running, and, hopefully, be on top form for Ebersheim Adventslauf on December 13th, where I want to try to go for the win.

I haven't followed a running plan before, but as I have the Jack Daniels Running Formula book, and I have heard good things about it, I chose that one.  It will also be a stepping stone towards Rotterdam marathon in April 2016.  The problem was that I have to select my VDOT.  My garmin showed that my 5k time recently was 18:20 (VDOT 55), though the course was long so I actually finished in 19 (VDOT 53). I also ran a bumpy 10k in 40:08 (VDOT 52) but I was tired post Ironman and it wasn't so flat, so I have decided to go for a VDOT of 55.  My PB half marathon scores best on the VDOT system, and that would be a 57.

Now that I have selected my training paces, I can follow the plan.  The week starts with a long run, but only up to 25% of the total mileage I run per week.  This week I just did a normal 11.5km run to ease into things, in the future it should be a 16-20km run at easy pace (about 5:00/km pace).  On Monday I had a day off as I was climbing for several hours during the day and was pretty tired.  Tuesday was the first workout day: 2 sets of 8x200m in R pace, i.e. 40 seconds for 200m.  I went to the Willy Wacker track to do the workout and was consistently under 40s for the intervals, apart from the first interval, where I was basically guessing the pace needed!

I felt good post-workout, but I had really bad muscle ache in my calves for a few days afterwards (along with arms, chest and shoulders from climbing!!).  On Wednesday I did an easy run with strides, 10.9km with 8 strides.  My guts weren't happy with the gap left between eating and running, something to remember for future runs.  On Thursday I was exhausted, but got out to run 7.3km, it was actually at a decent pace, even though I was planning a really slow run.

Friday was workout 2. 4x200m R pace, then 2×1 T pace, then a final 4x200m R pace.  I had seen this in advance and knew that Jack meant for me to run 2x1mile at T pace (3:56/km) but as I am easing into the quality sessions, I went for 2x1km instead.  I also messed up the paces so ran 3:41 and 3:46 for the 2km.  My legs were still feeling tight before the workout, but actually felt better afterwards!  The T pace was ok, though I was still happy to cut it short this week.  Next week I will have to push through.

Today I ran an 11.5km route at E pace with 8 sets of strides.  I feel like I am getting into my rhythm already as today was much better than the other E days.  I ran at a decent pace (4:55/km) but my HR was quite low at 145.

I plan to follow the plan as closely as possible for the next 11 weeks.  I did 62km in the first week, that will rise to at least 66km this week, maybe 70km.  I will keep the day off for a few weeks, then add in a 7km run, then increase it to a normal run, so I'll be up over 80km by that point.  I don't want to do too much too fast, so increases will be gradual.  I want to try to lose a bit of excess weight too.  I have started well this week, my appetite isn't so high when I just run, cycling always seems to be the killer!

Tomorrow I will run 16km or so at E pace. I think my calves are recovering well, my Skechers Go Ultras are on their way too, so I am confident I will start hitting all of the prescribed workouts in the very near future.

Race Report – Landskronberglauf – Wingertscup

Part two of my stupidly planned two post-Ironman races was on Sunday in Oppenheim.  It is part of the Wingertscup, and I wanted to run it as a back up race, in case I am injured, ill or busy for one of the last two races of the year ( I need 4 results from the 6 races to be in the final leaderboard)  In the morning I was in Worms supporting Katja in her half marathon, where she ran a big 5 minute PB and won her age group too!  We waited after the race until she got her prizes, then had to quickly leave to get to my race for 15:30.  I had put the 'address' into google maps and 'Turnacker' came up with an address somewhere not far from the station in Oppenheim, on the Rhein side.  We got to the station at 14:50 and went to the Turnacker, except that wasn't where the race was.  After some descriptive chat about where the run is, we were told that it is on the other side of town.  It was 15:10 at this point and Katja's legs were tightening up nicely!

She couldn't run up the steep hill and stairs, so I decided to go on up the hill to the race alone, though it was a forlorn effort given that it was 15:20 by the time we got back to the station.  I went as fast as I could and found a restaurant with some people parking.  I asked if a race was being, or had been, held there? They said there was, but pointed me towards some trees, apparently I had to go through the forest to get to the run.  I arrived at the start sweating like a pig at 15:28, but as so many people had had problems finding it, they had moved the start to 16:00!  Lucky me!

The route was a bit unclear, even though they had drawn a nice map!

I had seen that the guy that always wins was there, along with the guy who was 1 place behind me in Wallertheim (the challenger).  After a name call of every runner on the start line, we eventually started at about 16:10.  Immediately 3 people went ahead, but that was all, the fastest, the challenger, and a girl.  The girl fell off the pace after about 800m, leaving 2 ahead of me.  They were running together about 5m ahead of me.  I felt in control and was hoping that the challenger would over-do it trying to get away from me, and blow near the end.  Just after the first lap, they started to edge away from me, I couldn't do much about it.

At the turn on the 2nd loop, I saw that 4th place was actually only about 50m behind me, so 3rd wasn't in the bag yet.  At the turn on the 3rd and final loop he was maybe 15m further back, and 1st and 2nd were well gone, so I thought 3rd was mine barring a blow up.  I didn't blow up, and cruised in 3rd place in 40:07.

My heart rate was sky high again, I think my body really needs a break after the ironman.  I can't usually run a 10k with a 181bpm average, but I did it today!  I am happy I did the race, for 4€ I got 3rd place, a medal and a bottle of wine, so I can't complain!  I can complain about waiting over an hour and a half for the awards though!  I actually had to leave just before they finally got to doing the podium, otherwise I would be stuck there for an hour before my next train arrived.

Now I will take at least a week off, then a week or two of just very easy running, then I will try to pick it up a bit.  I want to get some form going for Zornheim in late October, and really be on it for Ebersheim to try for the win.

Zornheim should be my next post in the blog, unless someone persuades me to do some stupid run in the meantime!

Have a good one!

Race Report – Firmenlauf

I wasn't sure that I would run in the 5km firmenlauf after last Sunday's Iron distance Tri, but I was feeling pretty good by Tuesday and the run wasn't until Thursday evening, so I decided to give it a go.

The course is a good one through the middle of Mainz. Last year I was still really anemic, but a 4.85km course helped my secure a sub20 minute time, running 19:40 or so. I fancied that this year I could get about 18mins on that course.

There were 7000 people signed up for the fun, including about 15 from TRON, where I work. We had our team photos and they went to the back to get in position, I decided to push to near the front, otherwise the first 2km would be a write off. I started about 10m from the start line, but there were still lots of slow people starting ahead of me. The gun went off and the first 200m were difficult with so many people going slowly, luckily I got through the masses quickly and could run my tempo. After maybe 800m I saw Arne, who wasn't sure he would make it to the race, but apparently walked into the starting shoot from the front just before the start, so was on the start line when it started.

The race was pretty uneventful, I felt controlled and was constantly passing people up until 4km or so. The course was a little changed from last year, adding an extra loop near Romisches Theater. Soon enough I was on the long home straight. I decided not to sprint it in, as the home straight is probably 600m+ long, so that is a quick way to blow up! The TRON supporters were on the right hand side of the road and cheered my on as I passed by, I crossed the line in 19mins on my GPS, but also 5.18km due to the extra loop.

I was pretty happy with how I ran, even if the time was a bit slower than I had hoped. I was pleased to find out I was 20th from 7000 entrants, so I must have done something right. I was feeling fine after the race, so got my alcohol free beers and went to cheer on the other runners.

I was pretty amazed when I saw my heart rate that I had touched 191, my all time highest HR ever recorded!  I guess I was pushing quite hard then, though it really didn't feel tougher than other runs I have done where my HR is 180 max..

I feel like I have recovered well from Köln, even though I have some bruising on my arms and shoulders. My saddle area is still not great, but getting better by the day. I will most probably run the 10km in Oppenheim on Sunday as part of Wingerts Cup, then a week or 2 of near complete rest, then I will kick off training again. Near term goals are going to be running related, but I want to try to keep up a bit of cycling and keep on swimming as much as I can.

I think this blog in future will be for occasional updates and for race reports. The week by week minutiae will be dropped, though I can still look back at what I did this year to look for future improvements.  I might try to do some more product review stuff, like the shoes I try out etc, but I don't try out too much new stuff, so that would be pretty sporadic at best.

Race Report – Köln226 – my first long distance Tri

Finally it was time for the big race of the year, my first Iron distance race, Köln226.  Me and Katja arrived in Köln on Saturday afternoon with the weather wet, cool and windy.  I had to meet up with Christian Hafner pretty quickly, so we could check in our bikes at fühlinger see.  I cycled over and met him outside his hotel next to T2 and we went to the start.  After picking up my start numbers and chip, I checked my bike it in the absolutely torrential rain, not good for the bike, or the roads the morning after.

On the morning of the race I had a breakfast of croissants and bread after getting up at 4:20am. I slept surprisingly well!  There was a shuttle bus from town to the start (it wasn't very full when I got on – see below), I got the 05:20 bus and was at the start in good time.

The mass start time was 7:05 and at about 6:50 I was in my wetsuit and ready to go, the water temperature was pretty nice and comfortable.  The countdown started, and we were off!  The swim is in a rowing lake, with lane markers that are one metre underwater, perfect for staying on course!  I found the line after about 200m and stuck to it like glue!   I was pretty tentative in the swim, as I have never swum 3.8km before, so I kept it steady and ticked off the 250m markers as they came and went.  I had a peeing plan, which was to do breaststroke near the end to allow me to pee, then start to crawl again.  In Hannover I wasn't able to pee whilst crawling, so this seemed like a way to save a toilet stop early on the bike.  I was surprised after 1k that I could crawl and pee at the same time!  Soon enough I was at the turn, I looked at my watch and it showed 37:11, not bad, not great.  There were no lane markers on the way back, so I stayed near a group and pretty uneventfully got to the end, with an empty bladder too!  My end time was 1:16:xx, about what I expected, but not a dream time.

I ran through T1 and found my bike.  Everything went smoothly until I realised that my cycling glasses weren't there.  It isn't too important, but not ideal either.  I started cycling, hoping to hold about 220w for the ride, except that my fxxking piece of sh!t power meter from 4iiii decided not to work, today of all days.  It is the ONLY reason I bought the power meter, so they will be getting a nice email from me.  I quickly decided that 140bpm heart rate would have to suffice, so I set off.  The first 15km are into Köln, then there are 3 loops of just over 55km.  The start was a bit chilly, but I settled into a rhythm, with a slight tail wind.  The turn around in Köln was quite technical and cost a bit of time, then on the way out the head wind was more noticeable.  I was riding behind someone who had passed me, a comfortable 12m behind him when a motorbike ref came to me and said I needed to watch out as I was borderline drafting… I really don't think I was!  The next 60km or so went well, but after 100km my ass, that I had forgotten to butter up, was hurting quite a lot.  Even worse were my triceps, they were agony every time I moved in aero-position.  The road surface wasn't very good either, so every bump hurt 2 body parts a lot!  With my average speed dropping, the last loop out of Köln against a strong wind was pretty bad, I had to sit up due to my arms, so survival was the name of the game.  I was behind someone again a bit later having caught them, I sat in again well back, when a ref came again and gave the guy in front of me a black card i.e. a 5 minute penalty.  He was at least 6 metres behind, not exactly on the wheel of the guy in front.  The ref then came to me and said I was borderline, I said I would be careful.  The ref came past again 5 mins later, when I was well clear of everyone, and again 5 mins later, giving me the thumbs up!

The last part of the ride after T1 was filled with middle distance riders.  I was trying to be careful to stay well away from slipstreams, but the roads were now very full.  I had to brake a few times, and had no more issues getting to the end, though I saw some real packs of riders in the other direction.

Now I hadn't peed since the swim, so knew that I had to go in T2.  I got in after riding 186.5km according to my garmin, and after nearly 7 hours total time, well behind goal schedule.  After a quick change, I went straight to the portaloo, sorted out everything, and set off on the run.  I knew that it was going to be bad, but after 1km I looked any my purposely slow pace was 4:30/km, far too fast.  I tried to slow, but failed!  I decided that I should make hay whilst the sun was shining, so carried on.  Soon enough my pace drifted to 4:45, 5:00, 5:15 and slower.  After 10km I was slowing and getting worried, there was still 32km to go, and who knows how low my pace would fall, maybe I would have to walk the rest! That'd take 6 hours!  I kept on plodding, walking to get drinks at almost everyone of the very frequent drink stations.  My pace was still slowing, but the rate of slowing was falling, I seemed able to hold faster than 6m/km even though I was feeling awful.  The 2nd loop was like purgatory, the 1st loop took 1:12, the 2nd 1:25, pretty much 1 min per km slower.  On the last lap at least I knew that I was on the home straight, after getting over the bridge I looked and saw that a 60 minute 10km would get me an 11h finish time, but I also knew that it wouldn't happen.  I kept plodding, not really feeling any worse than after 20km.  I started to think that my pace was near irrelevant, as with 7km to go, even running at 7mins/km instead of 6 would cost me pretty much nothing.  I won't lie, beating Jochen's time from last year was a goal, but with 5km to go, I knew that was a shoe-in.  With 3.5km to go, I saw Katja making the turn for the half marathon, I shouted for her to come back for a kiss, then sent her on her way, I knew I couldn't even nearly keep pace.

After the spiral staircase and slight uphill over the bridge, I knew it was all over bar the shouting.  I enjoyed the last 500m, fist pumping and just so happy that it was over!  I got over the line in just under 11:07.

After the race I felt a bit sore, my knees were hurting, my triceps were incredibly painful and I was very tired, but generally I felt better than I had feared I would!  Even though I didn't break 11h, as was my goal, I am putting it down as goal achieved, especially as I would have broken 11h if the bike hadn't been extended by 6.5km!

I am not sure that I will be rushing to do my next ironman.  Something that I thought about during the run was that I struggle to run well off the bike.  That obviously is made worse after longer bikes, with longer runs to follow. Until that problem is solved, I don't think Ironmans should be my main concern!  I will definitely (quote me on that) NOT do a long distance in 2016, who knows what 2017 and onwards will bring, but it isn't a dream of mine to do a second ironman!

So that's that. Project 2015 is over.  It has been a long hard year. I really think that a not extremely hot ironman in late July would have been about perfect for me.  I think I over-cooked it a little at the end, and stated to lose fitness and the will to train, just as I should have been ready to go.  That also corresponded to me not doing my weekly updates, that was partially due to work getting really busy, but also due to constant tiredness and the stress of needing to get out to train all the time.  I think my need to hit my weekly goals might actually have been a bad thing, I would cycle an extra few hours when I was exhausted, instead of resting and getting in more quality.  The next updates will be my next races, let's see how I feel after a bit of rest and recuperation time..