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My winter marathon experience: near debacle to salvation

I’ve been running marathons for some time now, for about a decade. However, since 2011, running has been tough. I broke my foot and femur, dropped out of the US Olympic Trials, and just struggled overall to get my own running back on track.

My femoral stress fracture was in June of 2013, just when I thought I had figured out what my problem was. It just shows that sometimes you gotta ride out the storm, even if it seems like it will never end! Long story short, it healed and we (my coaches and I ) started to try again. However, in order to move forward, I had to accept my diminished capacity and basically start over. So the plan was to build my mileage, do reduced workouts, and stay healthy! The Chicago marathon ended up being my goal focus for the fall, not to race rather pace my teammate mike Morgan as far as possible. I was able to take him through 14 miles at 5:05-5:06 pace so it was a success. There was improvement, consistent training, and I was healthy!

After a lot of thought and discussion with my coaches, we decided to continue to build on the momentum and train for the next marathon that made sense- Houston in January. We thought we’d be ok, because December is usually still pretty decent here in southeast Michigan. Of course, this would be the winter of the Polar Vortex.

Training for Houston went really well, until December 23. Then the “avalanche” opened up. I remember the day because it was the day of my Simulator workout (26.2 km at goal MP). We drove to the course where I was going to run, only to find it a sheet of black ice. For those of you who don’t know what black ice is, it’s basically asphalt that is frozen, but it looks like it’s just the road. Talk about a work hazard. So throwing up a Hail Mary, we drove to a parking lot loop about 20 minutes away. Luckily the loop was clear and the biggest workout of my segment could take place. It was cold and windy, but it had to be done. There really wasn’t any wiggle room on this one with Christmas and the travel to different places coming up. So, we did it and for about 18km, it went really quite well. The last 8km though, was a completely different story. Everything caught up to me and I am pretty sure I ran 6:00 miles for the last few km’s. However, I finished it and thought I would shake it off.

From that afternoon, of December 23, all the way to the afternoon of the 29th, I felt off. Not really too sick, but off. When my family and I got home from my parents house on the 29th, it was like somebody flipped a switch. I was down for the count. Over the next three days I thought it was all over. I lost nearly 10 pounds, was malnourished and dehydrated. To add to the scenario, it was the coldest air temperatures I had ever been in (below zero before the windchill) and the snowiest/iciest since I have lived in the Detroit area. “Great” I thought. Here we go again.

So, December was finally over and January blew in with a direct northerly wind, straight from Santa’s workshop. After regaining some strength, I decided I was sticking to the treadmill for the few days before I left to finally get to Florida. When I got to the Sunshine State, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders- literally, because I didn’t have to run in my snowmobile suit! Seriously though, it was a game changer. My mood lifted and runs were instantly easier. I was convinced that I could now at least have a same day finish at Houston.

When I got to Houston I was in a precarious position. I was really fit at the beginning of December, but with everything that had happened, who knew anymore. Kevin and I talked for about 5 minutes at 5:30 AM on Sunday. The basic conclusion was to err on the side of caution. To the athlete’s I coach- I followed my own advice I always give you. I was at a point where if I were going to have a successful day (which at this point meant to a) finish and b) get an Olympic Trials standard out of the way) then I had to put myself in a good position at half way. What I mean by that is to a) be fast enough to even have a chance at a Trials standard and b) to be slow enough to have the opportunity to at least maintain my pace.

The morning was perfect- about 50 degrees, some sun, and barely a breeze. The course is very nice. Pretty flat, but a few little rollers in the second half. I actually prefer this because it breaks it up a little and they aren’t significant enough to really take anything out of you! I was lucky enough to find myself immediately in a small pack. Fortunately,one was a former Hanson’s-Brooks teammate and an athlete I coach, Tim Young. It was the perfect scenario for me!

The first half was low key and uneventful. I was completely able just zone out and wait until I absolutely needed to focus on the race. My 5k splits were 16:08 (5k) 16:12 (10k) 15:58 (15k) and 1:07:56 at the halfway mark. Tim and I came through the halfway mark and I said, “Well Tim, the good news is that we can run 1:10 for the next half and still qualify!” He laughed, and said, “Thanks, boss.” By then our group was down to 3 guys and the group ahead of us was feeling the consequences of going out way too hard for where they were at, fitness wise. Again, it was a perfect scenario.

Tim and I continued on, though I had to keep calming Tim down. He was really fit and itching to make a go for it. I held him back because I had ruined a lot of my own potentially amazing races between miles 14 and 20. We kept right at pace with 16:05 and 16:08 5k splits.

At this point, between 35 and 40 kilometers, I slowed down. It was my slowest split of 16:28 for that 5k. I’m not really sure what happened. I was feeling it, for sure. There’s no real way to completely avoid that feeling of, “oh man, I still have a ways to go.” However, I didn’t crumble. Mentally, I was still making coherent thoughts to myself, but I panicked a little bit. It had been so long since I had run a marathon that I just forgot how that feeling is.

What really surprised me is how I reacted. I really thought I would have caved in a little bit, but  I didn’t! I saw some of those guys coming back that had went too hard. I was catching them still and I used that to regroup. Looking at my splits, the last half mile was under 5:00 pace! I knew I was a little slow, but I knew I still had a good one going. I just had to keep it together and finish as strong as possible.

I crossed the line and sae 2:16:3x. It wasn’t my fastest time, but it was a race I could be proud of! It was a testament to just staying the course and doing what you can. It was a time that qualified me for my 3rd US Olympic Trials and a time that motivated me. It convinced me that I am still at a high level and there’s so much room for improvment. This race made me so excited for the next few years. I can’t wait to be in LA in February of 2016!

 

Coaching Options Changes

As some of you may have noticed, we have created some changes in coaching process, and are in the middle of (hopefully) simplifying some things around here!

The biggest change is in what coaching options are available now. The goal has always been with our business to provide some form of coaching to any level of runner out there. Before, we offered custom schedules and coaching based on how long a runner wanted to train for. Ultimately, I had two lingering problems with that. The first problem was that with a custom schedule, the runner was really limited to initial consulting and then sent on their way. For many runners, issues would arise along the way but were fairly stuck as to how much I could do for them, while being fair to the runners who had paid a premium price for actual coaching. Cost shouldn’t dictate getting help and that was something that i had struggled with ever since coaching! The second problem I had was that runners were penalized financially by staying short term, and not going with a long term coaching option. My philosophy with coaching was, and still is, that a system takes time. To reap the full benefits of coaching, their is an adjustment period and then a growth period. So, my intent was to make longer term coaching less per month to encourage the long term sign-ups. However, with the new system, you are really in our system as long as you want to be and having that freedom is important to most runners. I feel that ultimately, runners will continue on longer term if they aren’t reall “forced” too.

With that, we changed how we operate in an improved attempt to make coaching a better option for all of those runners who need help! What has been done is the custom schedule option has been infused with the coaching option and made a mid level coaching option. So, you have three options, the basic, intermediate, and advancd options. All coaching levels are month to month subscriptions. You have the control to say when you are done. I will help you as long as you want the help.

The Basic Level:

The simplest and least expensive option at $9.95/month.

What you recieve:

-Access to any of our pre-designed schedules from 5k-marathon. As long as you are a subscriber, you have free reign on these.

-Members only content

-Our own social media content- profiles, friends, groups, messaging, etc! All within our own site.

-Online chat- chat with other runners and chat with our coaches when they are online.

The Intermediate Level:

Where the old custom schedule option dissolved into. The cost is $74.95/month.

-Same stuff as the basic level, PLUS

-Free Training Peaks account. This is where we keep your training log/program and you can log all your workouts, gear, nutrition, resistance training, etc.

-MONTHLY schedule updates and feed back. So, if things come up, you aren’t left on your own. We’ll keep you on the right path.

The Advanced Level

The most extensive level of coaching at $129.95/month

You get everying above, PLUS:

-Upgrade to a premium Training Peaks account. If you were to subscribe through them, it would be a $20/month cost. We cover it for you! The premium account gives you much wider functionality uses and some perks for those who really want to in depth training analysis. (Plus you don’t have ads on the screen with a premium account)

-Nutrition Analysis- with the premium training account we have acces to perform a very detailed diet analysis and give you tips/ideas as to what you are doing well with and where you could use improvment.

-Annual Training Plans- We can map out your entire year, where you need to be, what you need to do, etc. Again, this is thanks to our premium Training Peaks account!

-Individual race planning- we’ll decide what and where you should race, as s well as how to approach each of these races.

-Unlimited contact/schedule changes

-Form analysis. We now have the ability to take video that you send us and use it in our software. From there we can tell you what needs work on making that form a little bit better!

Everything above for the Advanced is part of the monthly cost- nothing extra to pay for. This is where the value comes in. It’s an in depth full fledged coaching opportunity.

 

The overall benefits of the new system are numerous. Obviously it allows for at least some form of coaching for any level of runner. I believe this will further promote the idea of long term development. The goal for this site is to be a place of community and learning, so having as many members that we can, will only add to that community. Hopeful

 

 

 

Hanson’s Yellow Team

Hanson’s Running Shops has always had a local presence in Southeast Michigan, and Hasnon’s Coaching Services has always wanted to establish their roots in the local running community. Well, now we have teamed up to provide our local competitive group runners a chance to show their local Hanson pride, too. We are calling it the “Hanson’s Yellow Team” and is open to those who run the local road races year in and year out, want to improve their times and places, and do so while being part of a team.

We are pleased to announce that you can register to be part of this team for a nominal fee ($20/individual, $30/family, $15/student, free for 14 & under). In return, you will recieve:

A racing jersey or tee shirt

free group training

team competitions

team nights/Hanson’s Running Shops discounts

Discounts on HCS coaching/training programs/schedules

For full details and to register, please visit the Hanson’s Yellow Team Page