Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The LEAD UP: Almost to Philly

   The build up to the Philly Marathon was starting to take shape about 6-7 weeks out, I have reached the magic fitness line of 60 miles in a week and I was progressing. As a lead up to the week of our “Training Camp” at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia I came down with something pretty rough in the form of a cold. It was a rough weekend of riding and running, my veins were flowing with all kinds of western medicine to knock out this nasty sickness. 2 weeks passed by and I was still holding onto this sickness, body aches, headaches, running nose, coughing, it was time to finally rest. 3 days off in a row made a big difference and it appeared to finally subdue my ill-timed body draining sickness.

    Just days after making vast improvements I thought it would be a great idea to jump in with a workout with Billy and Paul. Up to this point I had basically done almost all of my long runs solo and hadn’t been able to do any hard workouts with any of the top marathoners in town. The morning was chilly but I knew I had to treat it as a race in itself, so I went to bed early, woke early and went through my race morning routine. We set off for 10 miles with a large group to get the wheels moving along, it was quite nice to run with a group again, I really miss that dynamic. Once we hit 10 miles Paul, myself and Billy took off to run the next 10 at Marathon pace. Running through the center city was difficult with construction and lights so our first mile was slightly off of pace but we kept pursuing on. The 3rd mile consisted of a long line of people dressed in pink whom where participating in the Breast Cancer walk, kudos to them for being out in large numbers walking in the cold and raising money for a great cause.

    Billy kept pushing the pace down further and further, “I feel good” is a familiar phrase Billy has always said and today was no different. We were at 6:05 pace for a couple miles then just under 6:00min pace, after 5 miles we were in the 5:50’s, then over the last 3 miles I was struggling to keep up with Billy as he appeared to be hammering home to simulate the finish of Thunder Road. 5:49, 5:41 and 5:47 were my last 3 mile splits and Billy was moving away from me! On the last mile I was making a hard push to catch Billy but I could tell something was off and I was swinging my left leg out wide, something just was not right. Later after numerous visit to Laura at Carolina Sports Clinic, she reiterated the fact that I needed to take a couple days off because my body was just rebelling against the training I wanted to pursue. 3 weeks out from the race I had to accept the fact that I was not going to run a PR L and perhaps not even finish the marathon. Two weeks out on an easy trail run with Matt Jaskot and Mike Beigay my right Achilles locked up on me 10minutes in. After this happened, I began to really think about the road to running a properly peaked marathon, I have never been there and I am not sure that I ever will.

   Lucky for me I actually listened to the advice from Doctor Laura and essentially aqua jogged or rode my spin bike over the last 3 weeks with 2-3 days of running per week. As any runner knows this is the LAST thing that you want to be doing while leading up to a goal marathon. My last 5 weeks of training were pieced together as if I literally had no experience running in my life. Though I ran very little, the goal was to focus on keeping fitness, not gaining fitness. Each of these days I was trying to hit the foam roller while also doing some of those irritating minimal exercises to work on lower leg stability as well as a major focus on glute strengthening.  The last thing to figure out was what to wear of course, I had numerous options concerning clothing and footwear, now what to do.
   As any seasoned runner would do, I packed quite a few options for the marathon, including pre-race throw away gear, race attire and post-race clothing to keep warm. One of the shocking last minute decisions that you never make is tossing in a brand new shoe into the mix. Fortunately for me, the Under Amour sales rep sent me a couple pairs of their latest gear to test out and one pair really hit the spot. Perhaps the best racing shoe I have ever worn, well after one test, I thought so. This speaks wonders to the innovative design team at Under Amour given that I have been fortunate to sample the industry’s best running shoes over the past 10 years.

  The shoe in question is the Under ArmourSpeedform and I have provided some of the bullet points concerning the shoe. One interesting factor that I found with a visit from our sales rep is that this shoe was the first to be approved for racing by the legend Chris McCormack and the 2 nd, the upper was created in a bra factory to form fit to the foot, giving the shoe a stretchable concept.

The fundamentals
  • Regular: A slimmer athletic cut that delivers better mobility by eliminating the bulk of extra fabric.
  • Seamless heel cup for anatomical fit
  • Silicone heel grip for a more streamlined feel
  • Smooth, ultrasonic seaming so you feel nothing but fast
  • Micro G® cushioning in the heel rebounds your impact into forward momentum
  • UA Light Speed Grip is strategically placed on outsole for the ultimate in ultra-lightweight traction
  • 6 mm drop
  • Super-lightweight: 6 oz.
   As I firmly decided that this was in fact the shoe to race in one week out from the marathon, many were shocked and disapproved but I honestly thought this was an amazing shoe. At only 6 ounces this was a very lightweight shoe but the thing that stuck out to me was that this was not a minimal shoe per say. The “zero drop” concept was not incorporated it is in fact 6mm which in my opinion could be possibly the perfect drop.  The “Speedform” is more aggressive than a standard training shoe but not as aggressive as most of the racing flats in the industry. This I thought would be very beneficial in the later stages of the race, as it would not stretch my calf or Achilles like some of my other shoes. Another factor that stuck out for me was the snug fit of the heel cup, it is very minimal as it is lined with a thin piece of fabric BUT is has an embedded silicone heel grip with works exceptionally.

Take a look yourself at the Speedform RC

   After deciding on such an integral part of my race concerning footwear, all I had to do was select my outfit. On the table were my brand new “EC3D- Compression Shorts” as well as the trusty “2XU Compression Shorts” that have served me very well over the years. My sock choices were the sweet new “EC3D- twist compression socks” vs“ 110% compression sleeves” the pair that worked so incredibly well at Wineglass last year. The accessory choices consisted of “Mizuno- breath thermo gloves” vs. “ Gore Windstopper gloves” and concerning my head gear I had 3 choices in “Mizuno- Breaththermo winter cap”, “Timex Dri fit hat” or a fitted “2XU- winter cap”. What to do what to do….Next update coming soon, I promise!(laptop broke while flying hence the delay)