Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cruising Through Racing Season

Here we are in the meet of track season!  (I hope SOMEONE gets that pun.)

First two outings were solid.  3:52 in my season opening 1500 at ASU.  Considering the fact that I've done 0 speed work, I was relatively happy with the race.  It could've been better, but it also could've been worse. 

After that race, I hit a pretty hard wall in training, and it was definitely affecting me in my workouts the next week or so.  I found out that it's really not terribly feasible to run high volume weeks, and pair them with high intensity track work. 

Trying to push through those weeks set me back a bit and had me feeling a bit run down.  Luckily we took a day off, backed off the volume, and my legs came around in time to feel ok for the Stanford Invitational 10k. 

The 10k was a good effort for me overall.  Landed a 52 second PR, and ran 29:00.  (I actually PR'd through 5k as well, 14:25, but hopefully that one doesn't last long). 

I was with the pace until 8k, and then began to struggle a bit.  Ran splits of around 70-72 through the last few laps and closed in 65-66 to try and salvage a good time.  Thankfully it wasn't a fiery crash and burn, just a slow die off.  I think I can thank my current aerobic fitness for that. 

Check out the video HERE 

So we've backed off some on the volume, and am now hitting the pool a few times a week to supplement.  My legs are definitely coming around, and feeling much better.

Had my best workout in awhile down in Sedona this week, running 6xmile cruising from 4:43 down to 4:39, feeling relaxed and in control.  That bodes well for my fitness, and indicates that I'm ready to break through and run another good PR. 

Next week I'll be heading out the famous Mt. SAC Relays, the site of my best race of the 2013 track campaign.  We won't be backing off too much for this one, but I think that regardless of how my legs feel, I'm going to post a good time. 

After Mt. SAC it's two weeks to the Payton Jordan Invitational, where I'll chase down another big 10k PR. 

All roads point to Stanford on the 4th, than the US 25k Championships on 5/10 where I'll try to land my first top 10 US Championship finish. 

If you haven't checked them out, check out some of my recent blogs for other sites!

5 Reasons to Get Pumped for Competitive Running

Oiselle Rising: A Profile of the Women's Apparel Company that's Shaking Up the Track and Field Community

The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

Friday, March 21, 2014


Today kicks off an exciting time of the year...


This year we're going to pick it up where I left off last year, the 1500.

It's going to be UNcomfortable. For a few reasons.

1.) I'm training for the 10k-Marathon this season.  More mileage + less speed + 1500 = PAIN

Well that's actually the only reason.

Regardless of how unpleasant this particular race is going to be, I'm still very much excited for it.  Going off of how surprisingly well I raced throughout the indoor season, I'm hoping to at least run close to my PR tonight.

Even though the speed might not necessarily be there, I'm a lot stronger than I ever have been, and I'm hoping that carries me through this race.

As my coach likes to tell me Strength = Speed.

Funny enough, my last race was exactly ten times as long as the one I'm about to run.  That was the Mountain to Fountain 15 down in Fountain Hills, AZ.

That race was a pleasant surprise, as I took 2nd place (behind Olympian Andrew Lemoncello), and also brought home hundreds of beers (literally) and a pretty good pay day.  Giving me some confidence heading into 10k season.

On a side note: If you live in the Flagstaff-Phoenix Area, you gotta run the Mountain to Fountain 15k next year.  Fun course, GREAT prizes (Chipotle and BEER), and it's incredibly well organized.  One of my favorite road races to go to.  Awesome people.

While I'll miss the roads, I'm certainly excited to run some PR's and beef up my track resume a bit (it's pretty laughable in the 5k-10k column).

The schedule for the next 2 months:

Tonight: Baldy Castillo 1500
Next Week: ASU Invitational 5k (tempo run)
Week After That: Stanford Invitational 10k (Sub 29)
2 Weeks Later: Mt SAC Invitational (Sub 13:50)
2 Weeks Later: Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational (28:40)
6 Days after that: USATF 25k Championships (Top 10)

The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Start of a Great Year

Time to do some catching up.

In brief, here are my last few weeks.

BU Valentine: 18 sec. 3k PR: 7:57

USATF Cross-Country Championships: 19th Place

USATF Indoor Track and Field Championships: 3k- 13th Place.

Needless to say, it was an exhilarating few weeks there.

The PR was great, especially considering the lack of specificity at this point in the season.  We've been focusing on strength, so to get out and run a huge PR gave me a big dose of confidence.

The next 2 weeks were OK.  The experience was great, and getting the opportunity to run with the big boys was great, but the finishes were not.  Next time I line up at a US Championship, I want to contending for a top spot, and not just running off the back.

I'll have to wait until May for that opportunity though.

The performances of the winter, I think, set me up for a great spring.  Originally, my goals were to crack 14 min. in the 5k, and 29 in the 10k, but considering recent times, I think I need to raise the bar a bit.

How about, 13:45 for 5k, and 28:40 for 10k.  That seems a bit better.  '

Training continues to go well, and I continue to stay healthy (knock on wood).  If those trends continue, than I'll be heading into outdoor with a lot of confidence.  I've been able to get many weeks over 100 miles while continuing to have good workouts, so I just need to keep this momentum going.

Next up for me is the Mountain to Fountain 15k in Fountain Hills, AZ just outside of Phoenix.  It has a strong field, but I believe that I can hang in contention and put up a good fight.  My strength is definitely there, I just need to translate it onto the roads.

If you haven't checked it out yet, take a look at my weekly blog for the iRunnerblog.  I write the column titled "The Running High", and its an opportunity to see me write about something other than myself.

I've heard from a lot of people after my run at the US Indoor Champs, and it was fantastic and I can't thank everyone enough for just being out there and following.  Hopefully I can keep it up.

Also I want to thank the companies that have been helping me out thus far this year.  I've been added to the Powerbar Team Elite roster for 2014, and I'm truly exciting to be representing such a great brand.  Also a thanks to Swiftwick, for keeping my feet happy, and supporting me!
The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

Monday, February 3, 2014

Train...Train...Train... RACE RACE RACE

Hello all!

I'm not too sad to say that the winter out here in Flag hasn't been nearly as rough as the one that my east coast brethren are dealing with.  There's not much better than a 50 degree day in late January to get you pumped up for training.

Not that I need anything to help me get pumped.

Left to Right: Adam Vess, Forrest Misenit, Me
Training is going excellent.  Been putting in some really good weeks (past 3 were 105,110,115) and getting in some really good workouts.  Not to mention a solid little mile race at altitude. 

Last weekend me and a few of my TRF pro bros decided to have a little fun and knock some rust off, so we entered the mile at the recent NAU Invitational. 

I haven't touched much speed work, so I was just hoping to compete with the guys and have some fun with it.  Video is below, I'll spare you the details and let you check out the action for yourself.

Since then I've just been grinding out some miles and good workouts, getting ready for a fun series of races. 
8 mile SS @ Buffalo Park: 5:17 avg.

This weekend I'll head out to Boston to run a 3k, with none other than Adam Vess, and attempt to run under 8:03 and qualify for the US Indoor T&F Champs.  I'm not keying up for this one too much, just want to get a good quality race in.  At the very very least, I hope to knock off an old PR of mine (8:15). 

What I'm really getting ready for are the US Cross Country Championships in Boulder on 2/15.  I've been putting in the miles, and a lot of strength work to prep for this one.  I've had some of my best tempo efforts since I've been up here, so I think I'm really rounding into form at the right time

After that is hopefully US Indoor, which would be a nice bonus to finish off the winter season. 

Just want to stay healthy, and stay fit.  A big spring is to come.

If you haven't seen it yet, and want some different insights from yours truly, check out my other blog: 

My column is titled: The Running High

The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Look Back and a Look Forward

Well I guess now is the time that everyone is looking back on 2013, and looking forward to 2014, and I guess I shall join them as well.

2013 was a good year for me.  I ran a PR in the 1500, met and moved in with my girlfriend Sarah, hit the Olympic Trials "B" Standard in the 1/2 Marathon, and ran my first full marathon.  I was top American in 2 relatively major road races, posting two top 5 finishes, won a 10k in California, and even ran some XC again!

While 2013 was good, it also had plenty of bumps in the road, and growing pains.  Learning how to be a professional athlete with a job hasn't been easy, and getting that down played a crucial role in beginning to post better performances.  Along with that, I also recruited the help of an experienced coach, Trina Painter, who has led me to the successes of the fall.  Her ability to take my ambitions and turn them into reality has been nothing short of incredible, and I can't thank her enough for what she's done for my career. 

There are tons of people to thank for 2013 and I'll try to list as many as possible: Vince and Sarah Sherry (for employing me, and guiding me through the maze that is professional running), Sarah Grothe (for being my biggest fan), the aforementioned Trina Painter, Kym Wilkens (for keeping me healthy), all my teammates and friends: Adam Vess, Steve Soprano, Forrest Misenti, Ryan Blood, Becky Belanger, Matt Walsh, Forrest Boughner, Julian de Rubira, Rivers Puzey, some other groups that have helped me out: Swiftwick Socks, and of course my Parents who put up with my relative poverty and support throughout whatever I'm trying to do.  I'm sure I've missed some people, which I don't mean as an insult, sorry.  I can't thank any of you enough for the support and help. 

So now 2014. 2014 is the year where I begin to make my mark.  If 2013 was the year of gaining experience, than 2014 will be the year I gain some scalps.  I'm more motivated than ever to make big things happen on the track and on the roads.  This will be my year. 

Keep an eye out for some familiar faces in Runners World in the coming months, and keep an eye out on my blog because some big things are hopefully coming here in the next few weeks.  Below is my tentative 2014 racing schedule.

Nick Hilton
The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

2014 Spring Racing Schedule

1/24 NAU Invitational (Mile or 3k or Both)
2/7 NAU Mountain T’s Invite (3k)
2/15 USATF Cross-Country Championships 12k Boulder, CO
3/9 Mountain to Fountain 15k Fountain Hills, AZ
3/21 Baldy Castillo 1500 Arizona State
3/29 ASU Invite 5k
4/5 Stanford Invite- 10k
4/18-4/19 Mt. SAC Relays 5k or 10k
5/4 Payton Jordan Invitational 10k
5/10 USATF 25k Championships at the Fifth Third 25k
6/21 Grandma’s Marathon
7/4 Downtown Mile
(Several of the Flagstaff Summer Series Trail Race through July and August)

9/3 USA 20k Championships at the Stratton-Faxon 20k

10/5 USA Marathon Championships at the Twin Cities Marathon

11/16 USA 12k Championships in Alexandria VA

12/13 USA Club XC Championships Bethlehem, PA

Monday, December 16, 2013

Some thoughts, plus a quick Club XC wrap-up

So I’m on a flight to San Francisco, and I’m getting a bit tired of reading, so it seems like the perfect time to type out a blog post. 

I had a dream last night that I was, for all intents and purposes, fully sponsored by Saucony.  It was certainly a fantastic dream.  What runner in my position doesn’t dream of being fully sponsored by someone?  To have all your gear taken care of, travel money, cost of living stipend, and everything else involved with being a fully funded representative of a shoe company. 

I’m sure that there are some pressures involved with that as well.  I can’t imagine what it’s like when your contract is about to be up, the gut wrenching feeling of not knowing if your main source of livelihood is about to be taken away.  That is a pressure that I don’t believe I have felt yet, and one I’m not sure I want to feel. 

I remember waking up this morning, and being pretty disappointed at the fact, that no, I’m not a Saucony sponsored athlete, and that nope, there is no check in the mail from a shoe company on the way to pay my rent. 

I could quit being a distance runner and go get a full time job that makes 40k+ per year.  Be way less stressed about my expenses, and when my prize money is coming because well, I have a car payment due, and student loans to pay.  But what fun would that be?

I have the best day job in the world.  Regardless of what people say, I’m still a Professional Athlete, and what kid doesn’t dream of being that at some point?  Maybe I’m not doing it the most glamorous of ways, but shit! I’m still doing it. 

Maybe I live paycheck to paycheck, and maybe every race I run that has prize money involved is a critically important race, because that $300 pays for the next trip. Maybe living like this is stressful, but it’s LIVING at its finest.  Here I am, on a plane, sitting next to one of the best runners in the USA, on our way to a National Championship race where we’ll go mano-a-mano with some of the other top runners in the country.  How is this not wonderful?  How is this not life at it’s finest, in its full glory?  Who needs handfuls of the green stuff, when at 12:45 Saturday morning I’ll be spiked up, amped up, and running balls to the wall in the mud, hurdling hay bales.  Sounds like living to me.

And I couldn’t ask for a better life.

I won’t say no if Saucony comes calling though, they have some pretty sweet shoes.

In news, I was honored to be a part of the first EVER Team Run Flagstaff Pro XC Team at this years USATF Club Cross Country Championships.

We finished 3rd Overall with a stud team (Ben Bruce, Nick Arciniaga, Matt Llano, Adam Vess, Forrest Misenti, Steve Soprano, Rivers Puzey, and myself).  It was a truly incredible experience.

The course was tough, (thanks Max King) as was the competition, but overall was a great time.  The best part by far though, was the feeling of being back on a team.  We had a great synergy, and I think we certainly developed that sense of belonging to something.  It was definitely a piece that I’ve missed since college, and I’m glad to be back a part of a team, with fantastic teammates.  I look forward for what the future holds for this fledgling organization.  I think there are going to be some really great things coming out of this.

Good things are a-coming.

Nick Hilton
The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Marathon

First off, Thank You.

Thank you to everybody who reached out before the race, Thank you to everybody who came to the marathon, and Thank you to everybody who reached out after the race.  I can't express what it really means to me to hear from all of you.  You provided the emotional energy necessary to go the distance, and the continuing motivation to move on the next race.

With that said, let us talk about the race itself. 

Beforehand I was pretty nervous.

A. Because I couldn't poop.
B. Because 26.2 miles is a long way to run hard. 

It was actually a relief when the gun went off, because all the waiting was finally over, and I could just freaking run the race. 

The first 7 miles were very controlled (5:15-5:20ish) and were run with a big pack.  At times it was hard not to just burst away, as we were running through the incredible crowds of downtown Philly, which were LOUD. 

After 7 you hit a series of hills through University City and Fairmount Park, and let me tell you, we ran these cautiously.  My instinct is to pick it up and work up a hill, but apparently, I was the only one.  We ran anywhere from 5:32 on the ups, to 5:14 on the downs.  And after we hit ten miles, I was still feeling very good, and very antsy.

At this point I just wanted a consistent, faster pace.  5:15's or better.  I was hesitant to get out in front and push, because of my inexperience, and opted instead to sit in the pack and run 5:20's.

We hit 13.1 in 1:10.35, comfortably, but it was at this point that the race changed.  Everyone got more aggressive, the real racing was about to begin.  We hit 14 in 5:10, our fastest split yet, and our group was beginning to string out. At 1/2 way we had 9 guys, that would whittle down to 4 by 17. 

After 14 miles the surging began.  We would run a 5:10-5:12, than the eventual winner would throw in a 5:05.  We'd settle back for a mile, where I would lead and not let it slow too much, until the next surge.  This time it was back to back 5:05's.   Coming through 17 miles, I was still feeling pretty good, but the surges were beginning to take their toll. 

We were down to 3 by 19 miles, and facing a long gradual uphill climb to the turnaround in Manayunk at 20 miles.  The leader threw in a sub 5 (I ran 5:08), and finally broke away from Dube (runner-up) and myself.  I ran with second place through 21 and 22 splitting 5:10 and 5:12.  But definitely was no longer an aggressor, I was in hang on mode.  23 was 5:22 and I fell back from Dube, and was running by myself in third.  This was where I began to hit the wall.  At this point I told myself to "just hold 5:20's!"

24 was 5:32, and I thought to myself, "just hold 5:30s!" 

25 was 5:42, and I thought "Just make it to the finish without being passed you bastard"

Those 2 miles were loooooooong.  I didn't take water, I just stared straight ahead and focused as hard as I could on putting one foot in front of the other.  It was there I saw some familiar faces, which gave me a MUCH needed shot in the arm and kept me inspired to keep pushing.

26 was 5:48 and then I was in the home stretch.  The noise of the crowd brought me home, and I crossed the line, grabbed my knees, and tried not to cramp.

The race was emotional as hell.  Seeing everyone out on the course was fantastic, and every bit of encouragement through that 2nd half of the race was sorely sorely needed, and incredibly appreciated.

I can't wait until the next one. 

Nick Hilton
The Moderately Talented Distance Runner