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Friday, April 4, 2014

Final KDF Marathon/miniMarathon DISCOUNT CODE!

Edit: The coupon code is good through Sunday, April 6th, and online registration is open until Tuesday, April 8th!

The time has almost come.

The Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon are now just two short weeks away.

If you're still on the fence about registering, or know someone who still needs to, make sure you use this code to save 10%:

Discount Code: AMBREF3
Good for 10% off
Valid Through 4/6/2014

Make sure you tell them Ambassador #11 sent you (that's me!).

If you've already registered, make sure you confirm your registration here.

Some Other Important Notes:

  • Today (April 4th) is the last day to transfer your registration to someone else
  • Online Registration closes Tuesday, April 8th at 11:59pm
  • April 14th - an email will be sent out with bib and corral assignments
  • Packet Pickup and Race Expo - KY International Convention Center, Hall 2D
    • Thursday, April 17th: 4:00pm - 8:00pm
    • Friday, April 18th: 11:00am - 9:00pm
  • Running Wild Pasta Dinner - Friday, April 18th: 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Also, don't forget to sign up for runner tracking (starting April 14th) for your friends and family!

I hope your training has gone well despite the weather!

Make sure you stop by and say "hi" at the packet pickup. I'll be handing out the race shirts from 2:15pm until 6:00pm on Friday.

And of course, I'll be out bright and early on Saturday, April 19th! Can't wait to see you there!!


I seriously can't believe that race day is only two weeks away!

It's been a long, hard winter, but somehow the time has still managed to fly by.

I did a few things differently this season, and I'm really happy with what I've been able to accomplish, so I wanted to take a minute and reflect back.

I started my training way back in November of last year, following the No Meat Athlete Marathon Road Map. Since I hadn't run in a while (aside from a handful of 2-4 mile runs leading up to the Biggest Loser 5K on November 2nd), I wanted to do the optional 8-week foundation-building part of the training plan to help ease my body back into running.

I think I was just really excited to be training again, because I actually stuck with my training plan this time. I think I've only missed a handful of runs total, which is incredible for me.

And early on I was even WAKING UP EARLY to go for a run. Yeah, never in my life did I think I'd wake up at 6:00am to willingly go for a run before I went into work. Especially not on those cold mornings.

But I did.

Comparing the numbers from this season to my Air Force Marathon training, some noticeable differences pop out.

  • I'm running more often for shorter distances, but hitting about the same total mileage, and
  • I'm getting almost ALL of my runs in, as opposed to just one or two per week.

Back in 2012, I was averaging just 7.5 runs per month! (That's less than 2 runs per week on average.)

This time around I've almost doubled that, averaging 14.2 runs per month, or just over 3 runs per week!

Even though my number of runs has increased significantly, my total mileage was pretty close (up until this past month, that is):

The 42 miles in Month 6 for the AF Marathon INCLUDE the 26 from the race

Of course, I REALLY slacked off on my training in the final 6 weeks last time, and I'm sure that's a big reason why I was hurting on race day. I thought the most important thing was to get my long runs in, so that was my primary focus. Aside from that, I really couldn't find the motivation to get out and run.

I've definitely learned my lesson, so I'm going to do whatever I have to to get all my runs in over the next couple of weeks.

Also, some of my really important long runs were done on the treadmill last time.

Overall, I've done more runs on the treadmill this time around. That's partially because the crazy winter we had, but also because it was just easier to do that with the baby sometimes.

But over the last two months I've only run twice on the treadmill (out of 27 runs), which is wayyy better than the 6/16 from 2 years ago. (And I didn't even have the baby excuse back then!)

Lastly, I'm doing more hills.

This new plan incorporates hill work, which I've never done before. But even though I haven't been getting in as many of those workouts as I should, I'm still logging a lot of climbing thanks to a couple of big hills at the park right by our house.

I just wrapped up my peak week this past weekend, and I've been "noticing" my left knee here and there. It doesn't hurt, but it feels as if it's on the verge -- like if I land the wrong way it'll start hurting like it has in the past. Luckily it doesn't happen often, and when it does it's brief, so I'm hoping that logging my runs and keeping up with my strength training will continue to keep the injuries at bay.

Peak week for me ended on Sunday with a pretty good 20 mile run at the park.

For my past few long runs, I've really had a hard time getting going. The thought of running 16, 18, or 20 miles seems so daunting that I don't even want to start.

Fortunately that feeling goes away after a few miles, but pretty much every weekend I question why I ever wanted to do this again. And while I'm happy to be tapering, I'm pretty nervous about the big day. Somehow, I just don't feel ready.

But I know I've trained, and I know deep down I'm ready for that redemption I've been craving.

I honestly have no idea how close I'll be to hitting my 4 hour goal. That would be a 9:15/mile average pace, and I know that long runs are supposed to be around 30 seconds slower per mile, but mine have been averaging even slower than that:

Date Miles Average Pace
2/16 14.00 10:30
3/1 16.02 10:11
3/15 18.01 9:51
3/30 20.18 10:06

Ultimately for me, the most important thing is finishing this one strong.

For funsies, I'll leave you with a map from my last long run. It's safe to say I know the Beckley Creek Park very well! (I can't wait for them to open some of the other sections!)

This is what 20 miles looks like. Make sure you click it so you can see it zoomed in a bit. :)

If you're ever worried about not being able to finish a run, remember that the most important part is starting. In my book, it's okay to stop early if you have to -- you can always make it up on another day. But usually once you start you find reasons to keep going.

And it really is amazing what our bodies are capable of.

As always, thanks for reading!

Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Papa John's 10 Miler - Race Recap

Unlike the 10K a few weeks ago, I actually had a plan for this race.

Basically, I wanted to keep my first 6 miles as close to 8:00/mile as I could. I didn't want to go out too hard for the first few miles, but I didn't want to lose too much time on the hills in Iroquois, either. Then I was hoping to push as hard as I could for the last four miles, hopefully averaging around mid-7:00s to make up the difference.

I was really hoping to finish under 1:20:00, which meant I needed an average pace of 7:53/mile or better overall.

Although we left pretty close to when we should have, we got down there just a few minutes before the race started because of traffic and street closings. I ended up being about 8:40 behind the clock.

Walking to the start line

I was hoping to get a bit further ahead for the start, but I wasn't too concerned about it. If anything, the traffic would help me hold my pace back some.

The first few miles were really crowded. I tried to stay on the road, but I ended up having to jump up on the curb and into the grass a few times to get around people.

Mile 1: 8:41

Ouch. Quite a bit slower than I was hoping for. I tried to push the pace without expending too much energy, looking for gaps so I didn't have to keep weaving in and out of people.

Mile 2: 8:07

Much better!

Mile 3: 8:16

Once again, slower that I would have liked. I didn't want to drop that much until I was in the park.

As I turned onto Taylor blvd I saw the leaders coming out of the park. Normally, they pass by somewhere out on Southern Parkway, so they were a bit behind this year. (That was confirmed by the finish times -- this year's winner finished in 51:11 compared to last year's winner with a 47:25.)

Even so, they were FLYING!

Since I'm normally really bad about fueling, I decided to eat a GU before I headed into the park. I knew I would need the energy for the hills, and especially as I made my way back up Southern Parkway.

Mile 4: 8:20

Not bad. This was as we entered the park and got into the hills, so that's right around where I wanted to be.

Mile 5: 8:10

Perfect! Turns out, the hills weren't nearly as bad as I remembered. Maybe that's because I've been doing hill work and running a lot more hills during my long runs. There were also some nice flats and even some good downhills in the park.

Mile 6: 8:12

Again, right where I needed to be.

Coming out of the park I looked at my Virtual Partner to see how far behind I was. I had it set for a 7:53/mile pace. Turns out I was about 2 minutes behind, or roughly a quarter of a mile.

Ouch. Four miles to make up 2 minutes is a pretty tall order. I was hoping I could hang on and average around 7:30/mile for the rest of the race, but it would be tough.

Mile 7: 7:26

Well that's a good start! As you leave the park you're running downhill for a little more than half a mile, and from there it's relatively flat on Southern Parkway. I tried to keep the momentum going and push the pace without using too much effort.

Mile 8: 7:37

Not bad, but not great. I was wearing out, so I tried to eat another GU. I only managed a couple bites of it.

The wind was also pretty brutal.

"Only two more miles. Just hold on," I told myself.

Mile 9: 7:23

I really was leaving everything I had out there.

I tried to push through the pain and the negative thoughts, knowing it would be over soon, but the overpass about broke me. It was HARD to not stop and walk. My pace briefly fell to around 9:00/mile, but I managed to push a little harder and get it back up.

My heart rate was making a steady climb, nearly hitting 200 as I crested the hill.

Coming down the back side, my speed improved back into the low 7:00s and my heart rate recovered a bit. I kept checking my watch. It was going to be close!

As I turned into the stadium I had about a minute and a half left to hit my 1:20:00 goal.

Mile 10: 7:28

Coming into the stadium I was oblivious to everything around me. All I knew was that I had about 30 seconds to get the to the finish line -- an impossible task, but I pushed as hard as I could.

I felt like I was slowing down, but according to my Garmin I really wasn't! I was holding 6:00s and even dipped into the mid-5s!

The last little .12: 5:44

Official Time: 1:20:23

Even though I missed my goal, I certainly can't be mad at that time.

After all, it is a PR of 5:41!

But yeah, it was just 5 seconds behind Kara's PR. That's okay -- maybe I'll get her on the marathon!
Thanks for being my rabbit again, Kara!!

Instead of falling over and dying right there, I made my way back to where Jennifer and my in-laws were waiting in the stands.

As soon as Baby G saw me, he came right over and cuddled up

Of course, I went and grabbed some pizza and we watched as Chris finished his longest race (and run!) ever! Then we went out to brunch before going home and passing out.

For anyone interested, here are the charts:

Notice that TINY little bump around the 9.3 mile mark -- that's the dreaded overpass!!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Looking for Another PR this Weekend

This Saturday marks the third and final installment in the Triple Crown of Running with the Papa John's 10 Miler.

This race is always a bit tougher than the Anthem 5K and Rodes City Run 10K because a) the distance, and b) the hills through Iroquois Park.

Since I didn't really have a plan for the 10K two weeks ago, I thought I should at least look back at this race from the last two years to see where I might struggle, and use that to create an action plan for race day.

The Course

The race starts on Southern Parkway just a couple blocks away from Central Avenue. It's basically a lollipop course -- heading down Southern Parkway, looping Iroquois park, then heading back up Southern Parkway -- except the finish is about a mile past where the start line was (turn right onto Central and cross the dreaded overpass, then left onto Floyd, and finally left into the stadium).

Tough Spots

Iroquois is obviously the toughest part of the course. From around mile 3 to about mile 6, you're climbing. Actually, it's a lot of up and down, but somehow you only seem to notice the ups.

The craziest part is that you feel like you climb for close to three miles, but as you leave the park you only seem to descend for about a quarter of a mile!

Here's what my Garmin picked up as the elevation profile for the last two years. I'm not sure how they're so different!



The end of the race is actually pretty tricky, too. Right after mile 9 you cross an overpass that's no joke. So you think you're done with the hills in Iroquois and you really step it up as you make your way back up Southern Parkway, only to find yourself with nothing left in the tank to take on this beast:

The real salt in the wound is that once you make it over this hill and you're excited that the finish is "right around the corner," you've still got a good half-mile until the actual finish line.

I made the mistake of going all-out on the backside of the overpass the first year, only to find myself crashing before I even stepped foot in the stadium.

And of all races, you definitely want to finish strong for this one because a) not only are you running on the field with everyone watching from the stands, but b) they also show you on the big screen.

Game Plan

This year, I'm going to try to stick to the plan I had when I set my current PR back in 2012 -- start off easy, hold back through the park, then pick up the pace for the last 2/5 or so.


What? You hate fractions? Well sorry, but it's less than 1/2 and more than 1/3!

Actually, I pretty much did the same thing last year, only slower.


So my current PR is 1:26:04, set back in 2012 when everything seemed to be clicking for me.

I know I can beat it.

The question is by how much?

1:26:04 is an average pace of 8:36/mile.

So far this year, I've been able to average under 8:00 for both races (considerably faster than I was back in 2012):

Anthem 5K 24:14 (7:49/mile) 23:12 (7:27/mile)
Rodes City Run 10K 51:53 (8:22/mile) 49:00 (7:53/mile)
Papa John's 10 Miler 1:26:04 (8:36/mile) ???

If I keep up with my current trend of averaging about 30 seconds per mile better, I'll come in somewhere around the 1:21:30 and 1:22:30 mark.

But why stop there?

Once again, I noticed that I'm pretty close to Kara from It's a Dog Lick Baby World's PR. She set a 7 MINUTE PR in the pouring rain, literally running through puddles!

To beat her this time, I'd have to come in under 1:20:18, which is around a 7:53/mile pace (yeah, that's how fast I ran the 10K, although I was hungover for that one).

I guess we'll just see how it goes.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Another KDF Marathon/Mini DISCOUNT CODE!

Use code KDFLUCKY through 3/18 to save $5!

The big day is only 32 days away, and registration is filling up FAST! Don't miss your chance to be apart of this awesome event!

If you've never done the mini before, it's not only one of the cheapest half-marathons around Louisville, it's also a very flat and fast course.

Plus, it's the ONLY race that takes you straight through the infield at Churchill Downs!

Here's an actual picture I took last year of the Derby horses doing a morning workout during the race.

(Sorry the pictures aren't very clear -- in the first one I was on my way to a PR and didn't want to stop, and in the other two I had my phone is a plastic baggie since there was a chance of rain.)

Needless to say, it's an experience you won't soon forget.

Not sure if you can make it 13.1 miles by yourself?

No problem! Get a few of your friends together and do the Marathon Relay! Each participant will do somewhere between 5 and 9 miles, and you'll all meet up and finish together. Plus, everyone gets all the standard perks -- tech shirt, medal, beer coupon, etc (you know, all of the important things).

And yes, the discount code applies to that registration, too!

Here's a look back at some of my race reports from the last couple of years that will give you a better idea of the course and where the tough spots (for me) were:

2013 - miniMarathon Recap
2012 - miniMarathon Recap (where I set my half PR)

I really hope to see you out there! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Click here to register! And don't forget to tell them Ambassador #11 sent you!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


If you've been following along with the Triple Crown of Running series this year, you already know that the interstate construction downtown forced course changes for the Anthem 5K and the Rodes City Run 10K.

Well, they weren't the only races that were affected; the Derby Festival full Marathon has to do a little re-routing as well.

Luckily, the changes are minor (only affecting the last 4 miles of the course), and the miniMarathon is not affected.

Here's a map of the new route:

2014 Course:

Click here for the full 2014 map

Just for comparison, here's the old course:

2013 Course

Since this is my first time doing the full marathon, I don't really have an opinion on the changes. But those that I've talked to who have done it before say the changes will make the course a little bit easier and flatter, since a nasty hill around the 23/24 mile mark has been removed.

2013 Elevation:

2014 Elevation

Note that the rest of the course is the same, even though the new chart looks way more jagged than the old one. I kinda hope the old one is more accurate when it comes to Iroquois. Either way, how bad is that hill going to suck??

As always, if you have any questions you can visit derbyfestivalmarathon.com, or just ask me!

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 Rodes City Run 10K - Race Recap

"Matt, get up, it's already 6:40!"

Saturday morning was rough.

It all started Friday night when the "KY Bourbon Boys" got together for a little bowling and bourbon.
I don't know that I've talked about the Bourbon Boys on here before -- it's a big group of family friends of ours that formed a couple years ago. We started by visiting all of the distilleries along the KY Bourbon Trail, and now we get together for various socials like the one Friday night. Oh, and we're legit, too -- we even have membership cards and t-shirts!
I knew I was in trouble when they had over 150 types of bourbon and BBC's Bourbon Barrel Stout on tap...

That's okay, I've run hungover before -- I can rally. It's just carb-loading, right??

I got up and got ready as fast as I could, popping a couple extra strength Excedrin and chugging as much water as I could stomach in the process. I grabbed a bagel and hit the road.

I was actually feeling okay by the time I made it downtown. Not great, but not too bad.

I was certainly not ready to run a race, though.

To make matters worse, I didn't have a plan going into this race like I did for the 5K.

I wanted to break 50:00 minutes, but my real goal was to beat It's a Dog Lick Baby World's current 10K PR of 49:26. Apparently I missed her 5K time by just 20 seconds; had I known I feel like I could have pushed a little harder. :)

After a little smack-talking on Twitter, I was worried I might have spoken a little too soon.

I knew I couldn't just go out hard and try to hang on, and I knew there were some hills I'd have to contend with, but I couldn't remember exactly where they were. I decided to try to hold as close to 8:00/mile for the first half, but still keeping it comfortable. Then hopefully I'd still have enough energy to make up the difference during the second half (to break 50:00 I'd need an average pace of 8:02/mile, and to break 49:26 I'd need to average at least 7:57/mile).

Mile 1: 7:49

Perfect. Flat and fast down Broadway. While there was a pretty good amount of "traffic" (I was about 5 minutes behind the gun), I was able to go out strong but not too hard.

Mile 2: 8:14

Oh, there's the big hill I remember! Mile 2 was a solid incline, gaining 70 feet total (50 of that was in the first .2 of the mile). I pulled back a little and kept it slow and steady.

Mile 3: 7:36

As we worked our way around Cave Hill Cemetery, we descended almost as much as we had climbed in mile 2, so I was able to pick up the pace and recover my heart rate.

Since I'm terrible with figuring out times and paces in my head, I decided to try out the virtual partner feature of my Garmin. Basically you set a target pace, and it tells you if you're ahead or behind, and by how much (both time and distance). I had it set for a 7:55/mile pace (which you can barely see):

When I checked it somewhere around mile 3, I was .01 ahead -- a lead of 7 seconds. "Okay, not bad," I thought. "Just gotta hold it."

Mile 4: 7:44

There was a little more climbing along the back side of the cemetery, but nothing too bad. I was still able to hold pace pretty easily.

Mile 5: 7:49

Heading back toward downtown is where this race always seems to fall apart for me, mostly because I go out too hard and I'm not prepared for the rolling hills. Since I was ahead of where I wanted to be, and since I knew we'd be finishing on Broadway, which is flat, I eased up a little.

Mile 6: 7:56

About halfway through mile 6 we turned onto Broadway and it was a straight shot to the finish. Under normal circumstances, this is where I would have opened it up. But I wasn't in that kind of condition on Saturday. I could see the finish line far off in the distance and knew I just didn't have it in me. Looking at my watch, I saw that I was close to 30 seconds ahead, so I just told myself to hold the pace I was going (which was actually pretty hard -- I was definitely ready to be done and felt like I could puke at any minute).

Even though my pace was falling, my heart rate was climbing:

The last .26: 7:14

Even though I was hurting, I was able to push my pace into the mid-6's to cross the finish line.

Official Time: 49:00!!

I PR'd by nearly 3 full minutes!

That's about 30 seconds per mile, which is right about what I did with the 5K!

I don't think I'll be making the mistake of drinking that much before a race again for a long time.

I want to give a huge thanks to my amazing wife for making sure I got home safe on Friday night, and for waking me up so I didn't miss the race. I seriously could have slept through it and not even cared.

I also want to thank Kara over at It's a Dog Lick Baby World for the smack-talking. If you haven't read her, you should. She's entertaining and sarcastic as hell, and (when she's not hurt) runs A LOT and does crazy things like 50 mile races. I may have won this battle, but she definitely wins the war.

Looking ahead to the Papa John's 10 Miler that's coming up in a little less than two weeks, it looks like I'd have to PR by 6 full minutes to beat her (which is about what she did when she set her PR!)... that would mean a 36-second-per-mile improvement...

Yeah... I'm not really sure if that's even possible!

As always, thanks for reading!