Wednesday I had a great track workout with my alma mater, Augustana College. We began with a 5 mile warm up outside and then did a fast 800 in which I ran 2:14. I was slower than most of the distance guys in my group but I haven't done an 800 that fast in a LONG time. I also need to start brining my flats for workouts like these so I can run a little faster. After the 800 we did 2x 600's at 4:55 mile pace with 90 seconds rest. We then ran 4x 400's and I was 74, 71, 71, and 69 with rest intervals of cutting down after each one starting at 70 seconds and dropping 10 seconds after each. We then finished with 2x 200's in 32 and 31 seconds. It felt great to get some good speed work in. Many coaches would say it is too early to be running speed workouts like this but I have found my body adapts really well with workouts that are fast. My threshold ceiling is dramatically improved when I train with speed in the run. When my body does workouts like this at 4:40 mile pace or faster I feel super comfortable when I get to 1/2 marathon race pace and want to run 5:45's. That pace feels easy because I've gone so much faster in workouts. The key is that I also have to build the aerobic engine so my body holds up for the long runs like the 1/2 and full marathon. It is why running long every weekend is so important to me. Today I went my longest yet at 14 miles and I had the GPS watch on because I did a new route from home. I went on the hilly county roads from my house which gave me a total of about 15 hills in the run. The route has some big climbs and is pretty constantly up and down which I will benefit from when I compete at St. George for the Ironman on May 7. That course is entirely up and down. I averaged 6:40 pace for the 14 miles today and it felt easy. The toughest part is that there is no protection from the wind out on the county roads and it was REALLY cold today.
My best workout of the week was on Saturday. As I stated last week I will begin to design workouts that will build my confidence as I get closer to the racing season. Saturday's workout was designed to be that kind of confidence booster. I began the day with a 2.5 hour ride in the morning at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care. Dr. Kaminski has been kind enough to open up the workout room at his clinic for anyone who wants to bring their trainer and bike every Saturday from 7-10 a.m. There is room for up to 20 riders and you can come ride as long or short as you want to any time in that window. We've had great turnouts for these rides. If you want to attend contact me and I'll get you in touch with the RSVP contact for these rides. We put a movie on the big screen and the rides go by much quicker with good company and a movie. This week's was the movie Ironman...not the triathlon movie, but the Superhero one. Following the ride I went home and got the kids ready to go with Jen to a 5 mile road race at Scott County Park called the Frostbite Footrace. My plan was to run the first 4 miles at tempo effort between 5:45 and 5:55 mile pace and then run the last mile as fast as I could. The course had some really nice hills which made me think over and over about how well I'll be running hills with my leaner body. When the gun fired we took off at a very slow pace. Jen asked me why we were running slow and I said, "Because it's January and most people are not in shape right now." I had no intentions of being in the lead at tempo pace so I let about 5 other guys set the pace and we went through mile 1 at 5:55. I didn't want to get any slower than that. It felt too easy. At about 1.5 miles in we went up a really big hill and I started to pull away from the pack. I really didn't want to lead but I also wanted to make sure I stuck to my plan of running 5:45-5:55 and I found myself alone at the front. My next mile splits were 5:45 for 2, 5:44 for 3, and 5:43 for 4. Just before the 4 mile mark there was a big hill and I thought that may make it tougher to change gears in mile 5. When I hit the 4 mile I dropped the pace down and ran the last mile fast in 5:08. It had one big downhill and then a big climb back uphill going into the finish. I finished in 28:17, about 1:45 ahead of the 2nd place finisher. Jen won the women's race which was awesome. I felt great when I finished...like I was finishing an interval in a workout. The Super Smile was out in full effect for the post-race picture with Jen. The race was a big boost to my confidence. It felt almost too easy running 5:45 pace which will be my 1/2 Ironman goal run pace in San Juan on March 19th. The key will be whether or not I can do that in warm conditions after a really tough bike effort...and continue it for 13.1 miles. As easy as it felt I think I'll be ready with 9 more weeks to prepare for it. Congrats to everyone who did the race and braved the cold weather for this one!
Lately I've gotten a lot of the same responses when I tell people I'm doing Ironman St. George on May 7th. I get two responses that have become pretty common. The first is people asking me why I would want to do a course as tough as St. George. It is rated the toughest Ironman in North America. My answer to that is pretty simple: I want to race St. George because it is the toughest and I believe my greatest strength is my mental game. I'm fully aware of how tough that course is and I believe it will play to my strengths as I'll be stronger and lighter than ever before in a race. The second thing that seems to be asked from everyone is "Why would you do an Ironman that is in the spring when you live in Iowa and training through the winter is tough?" It's almost become comical to Jen and I to hear this one from people. They have no idea how much training I do week in and week out. I have no doubts my volume is high enough to compete well in a spring Ironman. Someone asked me after the race if I run outside this time of year...Here's a couple pictures that come from the end of my Sunday long runs. I don't care how cold it is...how hilly...how tough...yes I know that's ice hanging from my hat...I know I look like a ninja in my new thermal hat Jen bought me so I don't get any more mild frostbite. Those conditions are the very ones that will prepare me best for St. George. Mentally it makes me tough.
And finally, the highlight of the week for me...watching Owen take his first steps! Payton was more excited than anyone. She'll soon have somone other than mom and dad to race down the hallway. Owen better get used to hearing his sister say, "On your marks...get set...go!"
Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!