Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Hello all!  It's been a busy last few weeks, so lets not waste any time with pleasantries and get down to the good stuff!

Since I last wrote I've competed twice.  Let's start with race number 1.

9/27: Rock and Roll San Jose 1/2 Marathon

-4th Place, 1:03:43.

Came away from this one with mixed feelings.  I came down with a mean chest cold saturday morning, and this caused me to adjust my race plan a little bit.  Instead of going out aggressively and running at the front of things, I made the decision to run a little more conservatively early on and try to maintain more even splits.  Danny (Mercado) and I were in the chase pack for most of the first 10k, and ended up catching the leaders around 5 miles.  We hung with the front group of Meb, Jordan Chipengama, and Daniel Tapia for about 2-3 miles until they made a surge that I wasn't able to cover.  Ran in the chase pack of four for much of the remaining race, until kicking in the last 600 meters to take 4th.

Considering how I was feeling in the few days leading up to the race,  coming away with my 2nd best time and a top 5 finish wasn't bad.  I felt like I competed well in my group, and didn't let my bad patches ruin the day completely.  With that said, I still feel like it was a missed opportunity, as I was very confident that I was in sub 63 minute shape.  Sometimes you just have to grind out the tough days and survive, and hope that the next time you get out there, you'll catch that great day.

Splits:  4:45, 4:48, 4:44, 4:47, 4:48, 4:46, 4:48, 4:47, 4:59, 4:55, 4:52, 4:56, 4:50

10/11: Chicago Marathon


So this one has many many mixed feelings associated with it.  I did very little marathon specific work going into this one, and instead focused more on 1/2 marathon speed and strength.  So I can't say my expectations should have been high, but I had some confidence that I could still turn in a good race.  I didn't have much of a race plan, and wanted to just run by feel and see where that got me.  I ended up going out faster than I wanted, but decided to go with it and see where I ended up.  Sometimes you gotta just go for it a bit.  Felt strong and ran consistently through the first 8-9 miles.  Caught a pack around 8 whom we decided to work with a bit to try and buffer the headwinds a bit.  Ended up see-sawing the pace a bit, and lost some time.  Came through 1/2 in 66:50 still feeling ok, albeit a little more fatigued then I would have liked.  Held steady for 15-16 miles then started to fall off a bit.  5:05's turned to 5:10's, which turned to 5:20's, then 5:40's, then the wheels fell off.  By 19 miles it was pretty much over.  I struggled for a few more miles, then decided to pull off course as to not compromise my recovery.  Definitely a disappointing finish.

Disappointment aside, I still learned a ton through this race.  I know the kind of training that I need to do to maintain that kind of pace.  It gave me some clarity as to what I need to do in my build up for the trials.

I lost my splits on my watch, but here is the info from the runner tracking: http://results.chicagomarathon.com/2015/index.php?content=detail&fpid=search&pid=search&idp=999999107FA30900001756E7&lang=EN_CAP&event=MAR&lang=EN_CAP&search%5Bname%5D=Hilton&search_event=MAR

I received a TON of well wishes and notes from people in the lead up to Chicago, and it reminded me of how incredible my support group is.  Thank you to everyone who reached out before or after the race, I wouldn't be able to continue doing this without all of you.

I'm blessed to be a member of such a supportive running community here in Flagstaff, and without the likes of that, I don't think I'd be seeing the success that I am.  So despite my disappointment in recent finishes, I'm still incredibly grateful of the community that I am a part of.

I was given the chance to speak to some young athletes at the BASIS school here in Flagstaff, and that reminded me that our sport is SO much more than just a sport.  It's a lifestyle, a way to meet lifelong friends, and a wonderful community.  Thanks to them for letting me tell my story, and answer their incredibly detailed questions!  So if you're from BASIS and reading this, consider it a shout out! Best of luck with the remainder of your season!!

Nick Hilton
The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Eyes on LA: Week of 9/7-9/13

Fall is here in Flagstaff!  Definitely my favorite time of the year.  It's also the start of racing season!

I'm starting off my season in sunny San Jose, at the Rock and Roll San Jose 1/2 Marathon on 9/27.  I'm really pumped to get the racing going, and to get back out on the roads again.  I think this fall has the potential to be a big one for me, and I'm hoping to start building some momentum going into LA in February.  Just gotta stay healthy, and get the work in.

Here's what went down the week of 9/7-9/13.

Weekly Mileage: 120

First Workout: 5 mile warm up, 10 mile steady state on Lake Mary Road, 3 mile cool down.
This one was tough as myself and Kiya went out and back this time instead of straight out.  Lake Mary Road is net downhill if you go straight out, and has some daunting climbs on the way back.  Considering that, I was pretty pleased with how this one went.  I definitely didn't knock it out of the park, but that is OK, sometimes you just have to get on base and be happy with a good effort.

Splits: 5:24, 5:18, 5:18, 5:18, 5:17, 5:15, 5:15, 5:22, 5:14.

Second Workout: Planned: 12 mile run into 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 fartlek, with a 2 mile jog at the end.

DNF'd this workout.  Was having some pretty bad stomach issues through the fartlek, and had to call it 1/2 way into it.  Ended up being a little crunched for time after the bathroom break, so just decided to cut my losses and rest up for a big session on Tuesday.  I was just generally feeling crappy during the whole thing.  Don't think that I gave myself enough to recover from the first session of the week.

Long Run: 20 miles, 6:30 average.

Overall this was a good week.  Bad workout aside, everything else went smoothly, and I was able to get in my desired volume.  I'm lucky to have such an awesome support crew who helps me get through some of the tougher parts of the week.  Working full time and trying to run higher mileage can sometimes strain me a bit, and makes me a little sullen throughout the week. Sarah is always brilliant about it, and does her best to make me smile and make my days a little easier.  I wouldn't trade my life for the world, sometimes its tough, but when things come together, it is always worth it.

I'm hoping to just keep chipping away throughout the next few months and to whip myself in the best shape that I possibly can.  Everyday I believe in myself a bit more, and raise the ceiling a little higher on what I think I can achieve in this sport.  I know there will be some tougher times between now and the trials, and certainly some moments of doubt.  It's time like that when having such a great support system can make all the difference in the world.

I think I'm going into Rock and Roll San Jose in the best shape of my life, and I hope to showcase some of the work that I've been putting in.

Nick Hilton
The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Eyes on LA: Weeks of 8/17-9/6

Three more weeks of training is in the books!  The first two of this edition were impacted by a vacation that my girlfriend and I took, so the volume wasn't ideal.  But it was good to get out of Flag and enjoy some time with Sarah.  Definitely needed the mental break, and it'll be the last real break before the trials.  So overall, I think it was very needed.  Here's what the weeks looked like!

8/17-8/23: 80 miles

1st Workout: 8 mile steady state @ Lake Mary Road.
- Definitely my best 8 mile effort at altitude.  Progressed really well, and felt strong and in control throughout.  Splits: 5:20, 5:15, 5:14, 5:14, 5:09, 5:04, 5:02, 4:55.  Always pumped to close any workout under five minutes, and to run the last four miles in that range was really exciting!

2nd Workout: 10 x 1k repeats on the track.
- 1k's are always tough for me, and tend to be the bane of my existence.  This time I tackled this one with ease.  The goal was to start around 3:00, and get a little faster.  I felt incredibly smooth at 3:00 pace, and was able to drop it strongly through the end of the workout.  This one, and the previous workout this week were probably two of my better workouts that I've done here in Flagstaff.  Splits: 2:59, 3:02, 3:01, 2:59, 3:00, 2:59, 2:58, 2:57, 2:55, 2:47.  Ran these with 1:30 recovery between intervals.

8/24-8/30: 80 miles

1st Workout: 1min.-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 Fartlek, with 1/2 the time of the next interval as rest.
- Ran this one while on vacation.  Wasn't my strongest effort, and didn't feel great.  Just glad to get out and get the work in.

2nd Workout+ Long Run: 20 miles total, with 4 miles faster from 15-19.
- This one I think I was still shaking off the vacation rust.  Felt pretty good through the first 15 miles, and my pick-up was ok. Ran 5:14, 5:08, 5:14, 5:17 for the faster section.  I like getting work in during long runs, to simulate that mid-race "dead leg" feeling.

8/31-9/6: 110 miles

Back onto some real volume this week!  Always feels good to get back into the routine and to post a good mileage week.  Definitely was an up and down week in terms of how I was feeling, but that's just how it goes sometimes.  Felt strong through the last few days of the week, so it'll be good to carry that momentum into next week.

1st Workout: 4x2mile repeats @ Buffalo Park. 2:30 rest between intervals
- This was really a grind for me, as it usually is.   2 mile repeats just hurt, and there's no way around that one.  Still had one of my better 2 mile sessions, so I'm happy to walk away from this one with a positive state of mind. Splits: 10:22, 10:08, 10:14, 10:10.

2nd Workout: 10x2min. on/1 min. off @ Buffalo Park
- Always a sneaky workout.  I tend to go into this one with the "this one isn't so bad" mindset.  Then I'm always rudely reminded how much it hurts.  was running between 4:45 and 5:00 min. pace for my hard sections.  Felt markedly better on this one then I did on the 2 mile repeats.  Definitely recovered off of that one well.

Long Run: 22 miles w/o fluids or carbs
- Always good to simulate burning fat through the latter stages of the long run. Averaged 6:31 pace on a hilly course.

Thanks for following!  Looking forward to some bigger mileage weeks and some racing on the horizon!

Nick Hilton
- The Moderately Talented Distance Runner.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Eyes on LA: Week of 8/10-8/16

This week didn't hit the volume that I was hoping for.  Missed a double or two for a few different reasons.  Starting to get into a good rhythm with the mileage, and feeling good on a daily basis.  Reintroduced the "medium long run" back into the weekly regimen, and it felt good to start getting into the my marathon training routine.  You can check out most of my runs and workouts HERE.

8/10-8/16 Weekly Mileage: 102

Workout #1 @ Buffalo Park: 3 mile warm up, 2 mile tempo, 2 min. rest, 10x 200 meter hill, 2 min. rest, 2 mile tempo.  Hit the first tempo in 10:18, feeling smooth.  Powered through the hills, and got through the second tempo in 9:54 with a strong second mile.  Felt good about this one, I haven't gone sub 10 in Buffalo Park very often, so to do so this early in a training cycle bodes well.

Workout #2: Integrated this one into my long run this week.  Did 18 miles, with 5 miles of 3min.-2min.-1min. fartlek from miles 10-15.  90 seconds rest in between each interval.  I like integrating fartlek into my long run to mimic changing pace and running faster while being fatigued and depleted deeper into my long runs.  I didn't take any fluids or carbohydrates through this one, and felt surprisingly good on my hard sections.

So far so good on this cycle of training.  Just need to keep getting the miles in, and building up a little more volume through the next few weeks.  Excited to get racing soon, and will be hitting the roads for the first time this fall at the Rock and Roll San Jose 1/2 Marathon!  Will be looking to run somewhere near my PR, or at the very least cracking 64 minutes again.

Until next time!

Nick Hilton
The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Eyes on LA: Weekly Write Up 8/3-8/9

We're about 6 1/2 months out from the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.  From here on out, that is the sole focus.  Every other race is secondary, and every run, workout, gym session is done to prepare myself as best as humanly possible for that race.

The next 3.5 months will be spent putting together the biggest strength block that I've ever done, followed by 12 weeks of lower volume and sharper workouts to get me ready to handle 26.2 miles of running at close to 5 minute pace.

So, after years of inconsistent blogging, I had the amazing idea (that dozens of others have also had) to write a weekly blog (instead of random 6 month updates).  I wanted to chronicle the final few months of training and racing going into my first Olympic Marathon Trials.  These weekly updates will go in depth into my training, racing, and my mindset going forward as I prepare for the most important race of my life.  So without further delay, let’s get started.
Week 1: 8/3-8/9. 
Note that this isn’t my first week of training in this build up.  I actually began about a month ago.  It is my first week of substantial (100+) mileage, which seems like a natural place to start.  

Weekly Total: 104 
- Didn't get all my runs on my watch this week, but you can check out the Strava data that I do have HERE

First workout of the week was a 6 mile progression run at Buffalo Park.  Two mile splits: 11:02, 10:48, 10:24.  Danny Mercado and I closed it in about 5:09, definitely a nice way to end the day.  I think the progression was a good way to get back into the steady state running, and I felt pretty good about the effort.  

Workout #2 was the Dave McKay Memorial Big Brothers Big Sisters ½ Marathon up here in Flagstaff.  Happy to say I got the win in some muddy conditions, and was about 30 seconds off the course record!  Pretty solid day on the whole. 
Always fun racing this guy in the Run Flagstaff Summer Series
Long run this week was 18 miles, averaging 6:30 pace. Ran with a big group on Forest Road 700 in the little town of Mountainaire.  Hilly, but beautiful run.

Also hit the gym once this week.  My sessions are mainly plyometric based, with some kettle bell and body weight work included as well.  We’ll see how the gym feels once the volume starts to increase.  I haven't done this type of gym work during a big marathon bulk block, so I'll be curious to see how my body handles the specific strain of this type of work.  I think it's beneficial and it allows me to hold on to some speed, so I'm committed to keeping it in the regimen. 
I feel like every time I come back off of a break my baseline fitness is better than the previous time, and I’m able to get into the meat of my training a little quicker.  This time is certainly no exception. 
The first big week of training is always a bit tough, and it takes a few weeks to get into the full work day-big mileage groove.  The first few days were a bit rough, and I probably wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around (sorry Sarah!!) but I think I’m getting into the groove now, and am ready to dive head first into the good stuff! 

All I can think about on many of my runs, especially the solo ones, are the trials.  I've been in Flagstaff for almost 3 years now, and all this work is starting to pay big dividends.  I know that as long as I'm smart and can keep myself healthy, that I will line up in the best shape of my life.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Build-Up

If you guys have been following any of my social media posts recently, you'll know that it's been going pretty darn well for me since my last blog. 

Last race for me was the Aramco Houston 1/2 Marathon, which served as this year's USATF 1/2 Marathon Championships.  It was there that I made my first big step in the right direction in quite some time.  Dropping my 1/2 marathon PR from 1:04.41 to 1:03.23.  

I may seem underwhelmed about the result, but for me, it was just a step toward where I want to be in LA, not the end result.  The LA Marathon is the basket where I'm putting all my eggs this winter.  

Training has been going really well.  I'm handling the volume and the workouts MUCH better this time around, and have been able to really nail a few good ones.  The key for me at this point is to just keep my eyes on the prize, and keep this consistency going through February.  

It can be scary knowing that you're in the best shape of your life.  Terrifying in fact. It's comfortable here in my moderate performance world.  There's no pressure or expectation when no one knows your name.  But comfortable is not where I want to be.  Uncomfortable is where my dreams lie, it's where the glory is.  

From now until March, I need to come to terms with the fact that I'm ready to take the next step in my career.  I'll stand on that line in the city of angels and be ready to embrace the discomfort.  I'll be ready to weather the grinding pain and agony that comes with the marathon.  I'll be ready to start that race one man, and finish as a different one.  

I just have to get to that line in one piece.  Only a few more 130+ mile weeks stand in my way.  I am so ready.  

Nick Hilton
The Moderately Talented Distance Runner

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chocolate Milk, Diamonds, and Clubs!

Being an unconscientious blogger is not a good thing.  So I apologize for my lack of updates over the past few months. 


Radio silence aside, it’s been a good few months since the last update.  When you last heard from me I was down for the count with a stress fracture in the sesamoid bones (who knew those even existed?) of my right foot.  Well after four weeks of cross-training and chomping at the bit, I was able to start training again!

Albeit, cautiously at first.

After a few light weeks, I was able to ramp it up and get in some workouts, and actually stick to most of my fall racing schedule that I set up pre-injury.

First, I was honored to be able to compete in the Run 10Feed 10 event in NYC on September 21st.  If you don’t know what Run 10 Feed 10 is, then look it up (or check out the link above). Essentially, it is an awesome series of races that raised millions to feed hungry children across the country.  I was partnered up with Chocolate Milk for the event, and was honored to be able to promote smart recovery as well being able to attend a fantastic event.  If you haven't seen it, look for yours truly in the December issue of Men's Health.

The Rock and Roll Savannah Marathon was next on the schedule.  Post Run 10 Feed 10, I was able to really put together a solid block of training, which led me to believe that I was ready to handle the marathon distance once again.  The point of Savannah for me was to erase the memories of Eugene from my brain, in order to line up at my next marathon ready to go after a fast time.
I must say, it was certainly a successful venture.  I ran 2:21:33, not a PR, but a very good day considering my build up.  I spent much of the race running 2:17-2:18 pace feeling very strong,  which I think bodes well for my future marathons.   Along with running well and feeling good, I was also able to take him the victory and course records, which to me were the cherries on top of a positive day.  There's a good article on the event linked above. Post race interview HERE

The people of Savannah were incredible, and I was fortunate enough to spend some time talking with the crowd and taking pictures, along with sharing our stories from the race.  Always good to connect with other runners.  Thanks Savannah!

Post Savannah was all about recovering and trying to run some easy workouts to prep for the next race on the schedule.  For me this was a big one.  I cut my post-collegiate running teeth in Northeast Pennsylvania, and had to opportunity to meet many great people and run some awesome races in the greater Scranton area.  First was Dino Oberto’s Run for the Cannoli, second was the Berwick Run for the Diamonds on Thanksgiving Day. 

I lined up that day ready to run hard, and I did, but got out kicked in the final mile of the 9 mile race and lost by under a second.  It was the closest finish in the race’s 100+ year history. Ouch.  After that, I knew I would be back to secure that win.

I went into the race this year with the mindset that I was going to run hard, and not give anyone the chance to outkick me.  I pushed the first four miles, opened up a gap, kept pushing, and was able to feel the glory of crossing the finish at the Run for the Diamonds in first place.  To me this was a big one, and one that I’m incredibly grateful to experience. 

Now, I’m back in Flagstaff, looking forward to the next event.  For me, it’s the 2014 USATF Club Cross-Country Championships, which will be held at Lehigh University.  This event is incredibly important to me, because it is one of the rare occasions that my club, Team Run Flagstaff Pro, gets to line up and competes as a team.

We’ve been spending a ton of time together on the roads, trails, and off getting ready for this event, and there is some really positive energy on this squad.  I absolutely can’t wait to line up next to these guys. 

That will all go down on December 13th.

Thanks to the incredible outreach of support following my wins at Savannah and the Diamonds.  I can’t truly express what it means to me to hear from all you guys, and how it continues to motivate me to keep pushing my limits.  Thank You.

Nick Hilton

The Moderately Talented Distance Runner.