Due to injury and work overload, I had to cancel my plans to run the Erie marathon in the fall. Instead, I ran a couple of half marathons and some 5ks. I PRed in both distances and I won my first race (sure, it was only 70 people running it and everybody was hangover from new year’s celebrations, but I am still counting it and crossing it off my bucket list).
This is it folks. Only two taper weeks remaining before the Pittsburgh Marathon. Other than a week I got the flu, and a week I had a lot of business related travel, I was very faithful to my planned schedule. I hope it was enough. Two things I know for sure: (1) it has been fun, but (2) I am so ready to take a little marathon-training break and switch to not having to do a super long run every weekend, at least for a little while.
I feel proud of my effort, but I don’t think it will be enough to qualify to Boston. I would have to run at a 7:00 pace, and I think 7:10 is a much more realistic expectation. We’ll see. I will wait until next week when my legs aren’t this sore to make a pace plan for race day.
Originally, it was supposed to be peak week. But, as usual, I had to make some adjustments along the way. With longer runs and bike rides, I haven’t had time to do as much strength work and swimming as before, which I guess it is ok at this point. Instead, I totalled close to 40 running miles, which is a lot for me. Also, I’m riding my bike everywhere now that the weather allows it.
I planned a half marathon for Tuesday and a 20+ miler for Sunday. In the end, I cut the half marathon short, and I dropped the + of my twenty miler stopping exactly when my Garmin read 20.00. As a result, I was half a mile short from doing my first ever 40 mile week. Still, I had some seriously good runs, and I am satisfied with my performance and proud of my effort.
Week 13 was as busy as it can be. But, at this point, cancelling my long run would have amounted to giving up a lot of my expectations and ruining a lot of my effort. So, I scheduled the run for the only time I could fit in in my schedule. I set up my alarm for 3:00, put on a reflective vest my wife got in Ikea, and I managed to finish my 19 miles before dawn. To be honest, I really enjoyed the last part of the run. As the sun was coming out and I was pushing the last two miles I felt like a breathing walking (running?) inspirational quote 🙂
1 year of progress
This is it, the longest run and the last really tough workout of the cycle. I’m happy I started early, because Spring suddenly arrived and the temperature was already in the high 70s by the end of my run. I felt strong for most of the run and I almost met my target time of 2 hours 30 minutes (I was short by less than 2 minutes).
The last two miles were extremely hard. So hard that I almost want to wonder whether I am ready to do 26 miles in two weeks. But I know I am, because this is not my first time around. Last year, two weeks before Pittsburgh, I did a 20 miler, almost like this one but with a couple of differences. Last year, my pace was 8:52 min/mile and not 7:32, and it was the last 4 miles that I struggled and not just the last 2. So, I know I’m ready ad excited to run Pittsburgh once again!!
A lot has happened since I last posted! Since I started physical therapy for my foot, I have been progressing quickly. My goal was to get to bike and run as quickly and sensibly as possible.
I was nervous about standing on the bike, since there is a segment of each revolution during which one foot is bearing all the weight. First, I tried an upright stationary bike with programmable workouts (not a spinning bike) during PT. That didn’t go so well… I could not get the resistance to go up high enough to support a real standing climb. So, I took it upon myself to try it on a spinning bike at a local YMCA. I did 8 minutes, then 10, then 15, and tried standing for bits in between. I started with regular training shoes, then my cycling shoes with SPD cleats. This progression built my confidence enough to try riding outside for the first time!
The ride was 7.3 miles at 12.3 miles an hour. It was the windiest ride I’ve ever been on, so I was uncomfortable, cold, and nervous. I broke off from the route Bruno had planned and cut it short a bit. Close to the end, my body had relaxed a bit and I remembered that I really love cycling. I’m excited to try again tomorrow! I’m not quite (mentally) ready to get on my road bike and clip in, and I have a feeling my foot will be ready faster than my head will be 🙂
On the running front, I told my physical therapist early this week I was ready to start running. I have been doing some stuff on the elliptical and some fast walking, and I felt it’s time. She had me try the treadmill and run at a comfortable pace, and I discovered it was actually less painful than walking! So, we’ve been upping the speed and distance since, and today I completed my first outdoor run of 1.83 miles!! I’m feeling very accomplished.
The focus this week was more on strength and speed and less on distance. I ran my first race of the season: a 10 miler with a tough climb right at the beginning to prepare me for the tough climb up Mt Washington at the middle of the Pittsburgh Marathon (only one month left to go!). I’ll post the race recap later this week, for now let me just say that I managed to win my division and bring a trophy home 🙂
Monday — Mile-long swimming workout with tons of 100s
My mileage was very low this week considering that it is week 12, just 23 miles. This is partly because I did a 10 mile race instead of a longer run, partly because I wanted to rest my legs before the race so I could perform well, and partly because I am doing a lot of cross training. I hope this works out, because I have my first triathlon scheduled for June, which means that I have to start spending more time cycling and swimming 🙂
The bike ride on Thursday was particularly special. My wife had foot surgery last November, and this is the first time she is able to ride since then!! It was a bit unfortunate that it was a ridiculously windy day, which made the ride really hard, but I think she still enjoyed it. I will let her tell you the details.
It is that stage of the training cycle with the really long, really hard runs. I am trying to allow enough rest for my legs to keep up, but this week I was too ambitious and had to cut my long run short. Still, I feel it was a productive week overall and I there is enough time left to get my legs ready for Pittsburgh.
Monday —Morning: 1.9k swimming workout. Afternoon: Les Mills Grit™ HIIT class
I’ve been cold many times, but this is my first time getting the flu. It knocked me out for 5 days, but I think I’ve been able to make up for it and I am right back on track. Here is the summary of my last three weeks of training.
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I can’t believe more than half of my training is done and there are only 6 weeks left! I am feeling mostly strong with my runs. I was very surprised my legs aren’t sore at all after an 18 mile run on Sunday. But I am not being as fast as I would like to. So, it is not clear whether I will be able to meet my BQ standard. There is still some time to try to get stronger and faster. The next three weeks are going to be tough, with 20 mile long runs, and an extremely hilly local race.
As the training intensifies, my legs are starting to feel fatigued. So, I’ve been reading a lot about heavy legs and I decided that my legs needed some rest, and some long easy-pace runs. That was my focus for this week. I cancelled one of my scheduled runs, and I slowed down my pace. Also, I did my first brick workout of the season looking forward to my first (!) sprint triathlon in June.
With my first ride of the season, a very intense long run, and two HIIT workouts, last weekend was a killer. And I could feel my legs (rightfully) complaining. So, I decided to do a little flushing, with long low-intensity intervals to freshen up my muscles. First thing I did is schedule a rest day for Tuesday, and cancel an easy run I had scheduled for Friday. Also, I replaced a scheduled tempo run with an easy pace five miler. Finally, I slowed down my pace for my long run on Sunday to 7:49 mins per mile instead of my 6:50-7:05 pace from previous weeks. I hope this flushing pays off. Next week I plan to bring the focus back to speed.
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A so-called “brick” consists of a full bike workout followed immediately by a full run workout; in other words, it’s a session in which each part could stand alone as a complete workout
I’ve only attempted to do two brick workouts before this season, and I haven’t been very successful. The first time, my legs felt completely exhausted after I started running and had to walk half the way (some people say that this feeling is the reason why they are called “brick workouts”). The second time it didn’t really count because I did a stationary bike workout instead of an actual ride. So, I guess this week I did my first successful brick workout ever!
I chose to do an approximate sprint-distance brick with a 12.6 mile ride followed by a 3.0 mile run. I managed to keep my transition in under 4 minutes. Which is not bad considering I had to walk up to my apartment to change my shoes, leave my bike, get out of my thermal clothes (winter wind on the bike is no joke), and kiss my wife. In fact, I did much better than I expected. It looks like I will definitely be able to finish my first triathlon (scheduled for June) in under 1:30, and maybe even under 1:15.
Menu of the week
Mexican-style steaks and lentils
Baked pork chops with mashed sweet potatoes and arugula salad