It's Officially Taper Time!

Today's 20 miler was the final 20 miler I will do before my first marathon in just 3 weeks. The run was not as good as my previous three 20/20+ milers. It was the slowest (but not by much) of the 4, but I think for good reasons.

A few of the reasons, I believe, that made this run a bit harder and slower are:
  1. I have not been running on the Saturday before my long runs, but did yesterday. - about that
  2. Last night was the homecoming dance for my two daughters meaning a very late night and only about 5 hours of sleep.
  3. It was colder than it had been in all my previous 20/20+ mile runs. 42 when I left so long pants/sleeves/hat/gloves were in order.
Today's run was also a bit harder than the last couple 20/20+ milers. It took everything in me to keep going at mile 15, I just felt like quitting. I pushed through and it got better.... but not till mile 17! My last couple miles were good, but that always seems to be the way it is with me on my runs, I run conservatively enough that I kill it at the end..... not in races, just in training.... races I kill myself throughout :)

Today I also tried a new product that I was sent from SPIbelt. The SPIbelt is a small personal item belt. I was looking for options and different ways to carry items, especially Gu's or Sport Beans because they seem the hardest to get out of an arm band carrier. I have been carrying my cell phone and any other items in an arm band which has worked OK for items that I just need to carry while I am running, but if I needed to carry anything that I needed to access while running (Gu, Sport Beans) it was a major ordeal. I was pleasantly surprised and more than willing to take a look at the SPIbelt when the opportunity came up.

I was very pleased with the ease of use and simplicity of the SPIBelt. I only put my Sport Beans in the pouch but it is really cool how it is very small but will expand to fit almost anything you would want to carry while running. I put the belt on and quickly forgot it was even there. The way it is designed it fits snuggly and doesn't bounce at all. Now, I was not carrying anything too heavy, but the way it felt I don't think it would have done any bouncing or been any more noticeable if I had. When the time came for the beans I was able to open the pouch, get the beans, and close the pouch with one hand without any issues. This will be my belt of choice for the marathon no doubt.

I honestly can say this is a day I have been looking forward to for a few weeks. I think I hit a little bit of burnout a couple weeks back and was exhausted constantly. I was not getting much sleep due to early 4 am wake up times multiple times each week to get my mid week 8-10 mile runs in. I even missed a couple runs during this time when things got the worst.

As I mentioned, today marks the official beginning of my taper. I am really getting excited for November 14th and my First Marathon, the Chicamauga Battlefield Marathon. I feel like I am ready, but wish I could have gotten to the full 26.2 distance before the actual race. I know that the majority of the training plans do not take you past the 20 mile mark, and the Hal Higdon Intermediate II that I followed was one of those. I did modify the plan a bit to better fit my schedule, and also because I wanted to get a bit further than 20 miles. In the end I only got to 21 miles one time, instead of the 24 I had hoped, but did get to 20 miles 3 other times for a total of 4 times in the 20+ area.

I just found out this past week that the Chicamauga Battlefield Marathon will probably not have pacers. It is a smaller race (field of 600) so I was concerned enough to ask. I was told that they were trying to get some pacers but it didn't look good. Oh well, good thing I have my MyTach GPS Watch to help me keep on pace.

Thank you all for reading my blog and for the comments I love so much! This has been a long journey, and it is exciting to near the first 26.2 completion.... My 26.2 Quest is nearing it's goal, thanks for coming along for the ride!

Tim Wilson - - subscribe - follow - virtual4now

A Quick 4 Miles

I Normally wouldn't run on Saturday with a 20+ mile long run on Sunday morning, but Payton, my daughter, needed to get 4 miles in today so I went running with her. I let her set the pace and she was pulling away from me a bit. I asked her if she always ran her 4 mile training runs this fast and she said.... no, that she was cold and wanted to get warmed up and get it over with.

She is getting really fast.... way too fast for me, but by the end she said we were going a bit fast (I already knew that.... I am old!)

Hope this doesn't mess up my long run in the morning!

Our pace was quicker than I thought we were going with an overall pace of 7:37.

Mile 1: 8:02
Mile 2: 7:31
Mile 3: 7:38

Better Than Fridays Run - My First 21 Miler!

Today's run was much better than Friday's run. I knew that Friday's bad run was not signs of things to come, but rather just a bad day with bad planning, but it is always nice to have that confirmation run the next time you go out. Today's 21 miler was that run.

I had a very long day yesterday, leaving the house at 7:30 am for Birmingham, AL for my daughter Payton's XC meet and straight to Commerce, GA for my other daughter Ashlee's Band Competition with only a 5 minute pit stop in between. The day didn't end for me till almost midnight, after a total of 8 hours driving between the two trips!

Based on the schedule yesterday and the time we got home I knew 4:00 am was not going to happen for a 20+ miler before Sunday School and Church. I decided that a 5:00 am wake up would have to do and that I would just go to Church. 5:00 am came and every ounce of my body wanted to stay in bed instead of getting up to run. I talked myself into another hour of sleep (it wasn't hard) and went back to bed. I woke up again just before 6:00 and drug myself out of bed..... this time I knew I had to do it if I wanted to stay on track with my Marathon Training Schedule.

I got ready to go and ate a couple small whole wheat bagels, drank some Gatorade and water and headed out the door about 6:20. I was pretty sure that this was going to put me back home just before 10:00 am, but I figured I could sneak into church a little late this one time.

I carried a water bottle and a bottle of Gatorade. I also had a pack of sport beans in the armband with my cell phone. I started off nice and slow and decided this would not be the day to try to lower that pace at all, but to rather just get the run in. I sipped on the Gatorade every two miles until it was finished at mile 14. I pulled out the sport beans at mile 16 and continued the every two mile hydration with the water bottle.

The first 9 miles of the run were fairly slow, hovering at a pace between 10:00 min and 11:00 min. This was the slowest I had run in a long time.... even on my long runs! Following the 9th mile I sped up a bit and was running more of the pace that have in the past. The last couple miles were difficult mentally, but I kicked them up a bit because I just wanted to finish. I ended on a mile with an 8:06 pace, and a negative split on the entire run to boot! So far this run has been at the fastest pace of all my long runs since hitting the 14 mile mark - not by much, but still at a faster pace.

Runs like this are the ones that give you the confidence to keep going! (that and the community and comments received on this blog, on Facebook and Twitter)

Just a couple quick notes:

Payton ran a good race yesterday - she finished 7th for her team and 32 overall with a time of 21:46:52 - not her best time, but very respectable.... and faster than me :) She is running in the #7 spot on Varsity and if she keeps consistent over the next couple races she will be running in State!

Ashlee, my oldest daughter is in the Color Guard in the Marching Band - her team won a lot of trophy's last night at the Band Competition including the biggest trophy :) with an overall win!!

Tim Wilson - - subscribe - follow - virtual4now

Went out for a 10 miler...... then quit

I had the day off today and really wanted/needed to sleep in because of what the weekend has planned for me. For this reason I decided to put my 10 mile run off till early afternoon.

This gave me the opportunity to get up when I was good and ready and have a nice breakfast with my wife and kids (they are off school today as well) Payton, my daughter that runs Cross Country, was leaving at 1:00 to head to an out of state meet tomorrow so I figured I would eat lunch and then take her to the school before my run. This would give my body a chance to digest the food and I would be ready to run when I got back home.

This is when things started to go wrong. I got back home and ready to run about 2:00. I had been hydrating all morning so I knew I would be well hydrated for my run, but I only had one bottle of Gatorade left and needed to save that for Sunday's 20+ miler.

The temperature wasn't too bad at 81 degrees, and the humidity wasn't too bad at 72%, but the part that concerned me was the sun. The sun was out in full force, and I don't do well running in the direct sun for too long. The last time I cut a longer run short was because of the sun. I train almost 100% of the time in the early morning with an occasional evening run, but almost never in the middle of the day when the sun is so hot.

The run started off pretty good and I eased into it with a slower first mile like I always do. I had taken two bottles of water with me because I knew the sun would be taking it all out of me. I started to sip at the water about 1.5 miles and things were still going pretty good. At about 3 miles I was getting close to the end of my first bottle of water trying to fend off how badly I was starting to feel. I was starting to feel pretty lousy. I knew it wasn't a hydration issue but was really starting to wonder about the lack of electrolytes and the hot sun.

My legs were getting heavier with each step and I was nearing the longest/biggest hill of my run. I was also running on the busiest road I run on, and it doesn't have a sidewalk so I am running right on the white line. The sweat was pouring into my eyes and it was stinging and making me dizzy. I knew this wasn't a good combination with how close I was running to the traffic so I decided I needed to get over on the grass. The grass is very uneven and I was worried about twisting an ankle so I decided to walk for a little bit.

Walking for even that little bit did me in. I was not able to get myself going again. By the time I reached the top of the hill, try as I might, I couldn't get myself running for more than a couple hundred yards at a time. My legs felt weaker than they have in months of training.... including all my long runs up to 20 miles.

I decided to cut out a 2 mile loop and attack the 4 miles I had left to get home. I ended up run/walking the rest of the way home feeling completely defeated. It has been a long time since I have had to cut a run short or walk this much during a run.

What do you do to keep for falling into the same trap I did?

Tim Wilson - - subscribe - follow - virtual4now

13.1 Marathon Atlanta Race Report - A New PR!

The Inaugural 13.1 Marathon Atlanta is now officially in the record books.... including mine!

This past Sunday morning was a great day to run a half marathon, or any race as far as that goes. I was really looking forward to this race as I mentioned in my last post. There are many reasons for this, with the two top reasons being:

  1. It was my second half marathon (following a long 18 month delay)
  2. It is also a training run leading up to my full marathon next month

Race preparations started on Saturday with me trying to eat right and drinking lots of fluids. I tried all day but didn't really get the eating right till dinner time when my wife made me a grilled chicken/pasta dish from scratch. We really didn't plan all that well but she still came through with a winning combination... as always! I finished the evening out with a small whole wheat bagel with crunchy peanut butter, one of my favorite bedtime snacks.

As evening hastened I decided I would get everything laid out and ready so I wouldn't have to deal with it in the morning.... the morning would come too early the way it was. I decided what I would wear (sorry ladies.... wasn't too difficult for me) and attached my bib to the shirt. I laid out the rest of the cloths, socks, and shoes with the chip attached, as well as my fully charged MyTach GPS watch, cell phone with arm band, ID, sport beans, and a little bit of cash. I also went ahead and set the bagels out so I wouldn't forget to eat in the morning as I rushed around.

Even though I am used to getting up before 4:30 many days throughout the week the 4:30 wakeup still came very early, especially following a rough nights sleep. I never sleep well before a race, I toss and turn a lot from the excitement,
anticipation, and nervousness. I got dressed, applied some Aquaphor Healing Ointment that I was given some time ago to all the right places to try and keep the chafing away..... I didn't want to have the unpleasant color change to my shirt like I did in my first Half Marathon.

My neighbors met me shortly after 5:00 am for the trip to Atlanta. As you can imagine at 5:00 am on Sunday morning the trip was quick and easy. We arrived at a Marta station about 1 mile from the start/finish line and used the mile to warm up the legs a bit before the race. We arrived in plenty of time and had some time to wander around and get a warm-up run in. The weather was wonderful, it was a little humid and 53 degrees.

Official gun time was 7:13 so shortly after 7:00 they started calling for us to line up in the starting shoot. They had time slots marked for anticipated finish time to help everyone line up in some kind of order. We lined up directly under the 1:50 sign with high hopes and anticipation. I knew I needed to run 7.1 mph according to my watch to hit my goal of sub 1:50, around a 8:23 pace. Right before the race began they started bringing us forward and I was worried that I was now going to have to run a 1:20 half marathon as I was now under that sign :) 15! came and the race was off. It took me around 20 seconds to cross the starting line. We were on our way and it felt great! we made a turn out on to the main road (Peachtree) and looped back. This is when we saw just how many people were running the race (close to 3,000) We were running past the starting line, but just on the other side of the fence.

As we neared our first turn, just a short couple hundred yards we saw a runner go down in front of us. This brings back some bad memories for me. It wasn't too long after this that I left my neighbor and started running my own race. After a couple miles I looked down at my pace and I was running quite a bit faster than I had planned with a first mile just over 8 min and the second mile around 7:45. I felt good and was getting into my groove so I decided I would run based on how I felt and not worry about the pace unless I started to notice too much of a swing either way.

We ran a loop through a couple neighborhoods and past a golf course. There were some really nice homes and some young families out to cheer us on. We had some hills that were challenging in this part of the race, but nothing like we were going to see later.

It wasn't too long before we were back out onto Peachtree to head to the second loop a few miles up the road. We came past the starting line at about 5 1/2 miles with the best part still to come! This was the point we started seeing a few more of the promised bands playing along side of the road.

We were coming up on the 10k mark and I noted based on the clock at the 6 mile mark and what my watch said that I had run the first 10k at a sub 50 pace (a good Peachtree Qualifier for those familiar with the Peachtree Road Race) and I still had more than half way to go. The half way point came and to my surprise they had a mat to read the chips (my time 51:50). I have never seen this before. I looked at my pace and I was running about 7.5 mph. I was still feeling good so I kept running at the pace I had for the first half.

The second loop took us through a couple more neighborhoods with bigger and more hills. It was getting tougher to keep the pace I was running, but still not so much that I was breathing too heavily. I was waiting for the 9th mile because according to the elevation chart the biggest hill was in mile 9. I knew once we passed that the worst hills would be over. Once we passed through the neighborhoods they funneled us off into a park where we ran the sidewalk trail through a wooded area and around a couple soccer fields. It wasn't too long till we were leaving the park with the welcome sign that said "only a 5k left!"

Before too long we were back on Peachtree and in the home stretch. Just around 2 miles left and I was ready to die. I wanted so badly to give in and walk for a little bit, but based on my pace and the current time I knew I had a chance to break 1:45 and I would never forgive myself for coming so close and not making it. The final 1 mile was coming up and I was able to pull past one more lady that I had been following for the past mile. We came back to the starting point and to our delight we had to run down a long hill and then finish on an uphill.

I was coming up the hill approaching the finish and knew it would be really close to the sub 1:45 I was now hoping for. As I got nearer I could see the official clock time as it ticked over to 1:45.
I knew I had somewhere around 20 seconds to cross that finish line..... 10.... 11... 12.... 13..... 14....
and 15 as I crossed the finish line! I stopped my watch as I crossed the timing mat and looked down at my watch to see 1:44:53.... I HAD DID IT!!!!!

For a brief second I felt dizzy but quickly gained composure as I grabbed my medal, water, and a banana. They had a lot of food in the finish shoot, but I couldn't hold any more. I walked out and started to cool off and enjoy the moment as I refueled. I went back to get a bagel and a little later they had a BBQ sandwich for the finishers. I was a little irritated because they had no other water or Gatorade other than what was in the finish shoot.

We hung around a little bit and got our official chip time and rankings. According to the stats I officially finished in 1:44:53 - Officially Sub 1:45! An 8:01 pace!

264th Overall (out of 2600)
53rd Age group (35-39) (out of 251)
12th 39 year old (out of 122)
208th Gender Place (out of 1148)

These splits are based on my MyTach GPS watch but it seemed to beep just before every mile marker and got a little further each time. It showed the course was 13.2. I am not 100% on the accuracy considering that. Not sure why, it always seems to be really consistent any other time.

Mile 1 8:14 8:14
Mile 2 7:43 15:57
Mile 3 7:50 23:47
Mile 4 7:36 31:23
Mile 5 8:01 39:24
Mile 6 8:11 47:35 (+ .2 would still be sub 50 10k)
Mile 7 8:02 55:37
Mile 8 7:50 1:03:27
Mile 9 8:02 1:11:29
Mile 10 7:54 1:19:23
Mile 11 8:07 1:27:30
Mile 12 7:50 1:35:20
Mile 13 7:37 1:42:57
.2 1:57 1:44:54 (GPS Registered as .2)

There are not yet any pictures available, but once there are I will update the post with a few pics.

I took Monday off, my legs were still hurting quite a bit, but Tuesday I went out for a 5 miler. I plan on getting up bright and early for a 10 miler tomorrow..... if I can drag myself out of bed after staying up too late to finish this race report.

Onward on my Quest to a Marathon.... the 26.2 Quest!

Tim Wilson - - subscribe - follow - virtual4now

The Coming 13.1 Marathon - Atlanta

I still think it is a strange name for a half marathon, but I guess I understand the angle they are coming from as far as marketing goes. Their tag line is:

"It isn't half of anything"

This Sunday, October 4th, I will be running the Inaugural 13.1 Marathon in Atlanta. The half marathon is the premier event and that is where their name and tag line comes in.

13.1 Atlanta™ is one of the latest craze in themed half-marathons so come ready to experience some of the best Southern Rock and Southern cooking. This race is about the run, the fun, the sights and the experience. It will be truly one of a kind and the most fun running experience of your life! Don't miss out on this inaugural event, register now to insure you will be one of the first to start, finish, and rock 13.1 Atlanta™...Where the Party meets the Pavement!

I am excited as it will be my second half marathon, after my first one back in February of 2008, the Run The Reagan Half Marathon. I finished that half marathon in 1:55:46 and just a few short months later was tripped in a 5k race and broke my collar bone, taking me completely out of running and any hope of completing my first marathon later that year. It took 8 months to be able to start running again, and even longer to get anywhere near being able to run the half marathon distance again.

Running this half marathon is not the goal, in fact I have not been training for a half marathon at all, but rather I am training for my first Full Marathon, the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon on November 14th. This half marathon just happened to fall in a great place on my schedule when I am completely ready and able to run a half marathon....... and also falls on a step back mileage week when I am supposed to run a 12 mile long run on Sunday as opposed to the 20 milers I have been doing..... What perfect timing!

I am really looking forward to this race, it looks like it will be packed with entertainment and a lot going on, much different from the low key Run The Reagan Half Marathon. I do have a time goal, but it is not really aggressive because I don't want to hurt myself so close to my marathon. First and foremost I want to beat my last half marathon time of 1:55:46, which I shouldn't have any trouble doing. The second, and more aggressive goal, is to run under 1:50:00. I am not sure I will be able to keep the 8:24 pace for that long, but we will see. Either way I will be happy since ultimately this is just another training run for the ultimate goal in November!

Wish me luck!

Tim Wilson - - subscribe - follow - virtual4now

The Last 20 Miles..... for these old shoes

This past Sunday was the last 20 miles that my shoes will see. It was time to retire those old shoes as they had nearly 500 miles on them. It seemed like I went through this pair faster than any previous pair...... notice I didn't say I ran any faster in them..... just that I went through them faster. I guess that is what marathon training does to a pair of shoes.

My new shoes, which I purchased from Gerald AKA RaceSpeed over at showed up at my doorstep on Saturday with the new pair that I ordered for my daughter who also was in need of a new pair. We both stayed with the same model that we currently ran in, the New Balance 769's. Mine are identical to my last pair, while my daughters are the next 1/2 size up. This is my forth pair of New Balance, all within this same model line. 767, 768, 769, 769...... will I ever try another brand or model..... Who knows!

We were both starting to feel that it was time to change them out. I was starting to get some ankle pain as well as other misc soreness like in my hips and muscles. This is the same trouble I have started to have each time my shoes were due to be replaced. My daughter was starting to feel pain in her right arch, which we were not sure was caused by the shoes, but it was time for replacement anyway.

I decided to hold off and run in my old shoes for my 20 miler on Sunday - not a good run to break in some new shoes. Monday I ran in the new shoes, but without putting my inserts in. I wanted to see the difference. My feet and legs hurt some the rest of the day so Tuesday I went ahead and put in the inserts which felt much better. This week has been a step back week for me in my marathon training schedule so it was a great week to introduce some new shoes.

My daughter spent this past weekend in Richmond. VA running the Freshman race at the U.S. Army X-Country Festival at Maymont, one of the premier running festivals in the country. This worked out pretty good as well because Monday she was ready to go with some new shoes. We also are trying her new shoes out without the inserts to see how they feel. She has run the entire week so far without the inserts and they are still feeling good. We will probably for-go the inserts unless at a later time we feel she needs them again. Her arch does seem to be feeling a bit better, but that could also be related to her coach intentionally lowering her miles this week.

A friend of mine mentioned that I was probably due for an oil change when he saw how many miles I had been running. To a runner new shoes = oil change.

Looking forward to my Half Marathon this Sunday - it is a race, but also just part of my Marathon Training..... I will be blogging about it soon!

Tim Wilson - - subscribe - follow - virtual4now