Archive for February 7, 2010

Today’s long-run marked what I consider to be the real “meat” of my training for the Boston Marathon – and in honor of that event – I’ve got an 11 lb. brisket cooking on the grill which should be ready right around kick-off.  In the past I’ve talked about how no single workout or run is really any more important than any other as you condition your body and mind to race 26 miles 385 yards.  It is the cumulative effect of all of your pace runs, recovery runs, tempo runs, hill work, long runs, strength training and even your taper period in the final weeks before race day that conditions your body and prepares you for the rigors of the marathon.  All very, very true.  However, when I get to this stage of my training, 10 weeks before race day when the miles start to build and each Sunday I find myself running farther than I have since the previous marathon – I can almost feel myself getting stronger week by week.

Sunday Long Run

On the schedule today was a 14-mile run which would be the farthest I had run since May 3, 2009 at the Pittsburgh Marathon.  My goal was to run smart this morning, stay within myself and target a finish time around 1:45:00 (7:30 pace).  My day started a little earlier than usual as I had to get the Beef Brisket on the grill prior to my run (more on that below) – so at 5:30 a.m. after getting our Superbowl dinner started it was time to lace up and go.  Near perfect conditions this morning – temperature of 39 degrees (perhaps 4-5 degrees below optimal) – and we were off.  It was one of those mornings where the miles seemed to come in bunches and I was at the 8-mile mark in just under 1 hour – very close to perfect pace.

As I worked my way back through the trail system behind our home I realized I was going to be about 1/2 mile short of my 14-mile distance – I was going to have to add a switchback or loop to hit the mark spot-on.  Through mile 12 I was really feeling strong.  My pace was solid and I decided to add the large hill that takes me up over the dam on at Brushy Creek Park.  This hill which is just under 1/2 mile serves as a great simulation for the climb up Forbes Hill during the Pittsburgh Marathon which ironically comes at mile 13 on the course.  The chance to simulate race conditions seemed just too perfect to pass up this morning and I decided to add the extra hill work to my run.  The detour added an extra 1/2 mile to my long-run today finishing 14.5 miles in 1:48:47 (7:26 pace) – almost a perfect run – just :04 faster than goal pace.

I’m still having a little bit of trouble staying at that 7:30 goal pace – but being a rocket ship and all, I guess that is to be expected.  When I looked back to last year’s training log for the same workout in preparing for the Pittsburgh Marathon I had covered my 14-miler in 1:45:26 (7:32 pace).  Looks like a year later and more importantly a year older we are still holding our own pretty well and have a shot at posting another Boston qualifying time on April 19th – great stuff.

Williams Sonoma Waffle Iron

Now on to the more important topic of the day, food.  I have failed to mention another reason I love to run and that is because I really LOVE to eat.  Absolutely love it.  Marathon training does require that I eat smart – especially before key workouts and races where carbohydrates (fuel) and proteins (recovery) become critical dietary elements.  But running 30-50 miles a week really allows for a lot of “wiggle room” when it comes to how much you can “put down” so to speak.  During today’s workout I burned approximately 1,530 calories.  I consumed 300 calories in gels during my run giving me a “negative 1,200 calories” start to the day.  You can do a lot of eating if your daily caloric intake increases from 2,500 to 3,700.

Mmmmmm Waffle ....

On deck this morning for my post-run breakfast was one of my all-time favorites – homemade waffles.  Dawn a.k.a. “superwife” was kind enough to get the batter prepared while I was cleaning up from my run and we took our new waffle iron from Williams-Sonoma for its inagural voyage.  Wow – worth every penny – light, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside heaven on a plate is the best way I can describe it.  1 1/2 waffles later it was time to head outside and check on our beef brisket.

Admittedly I am a transplanted “Yankee” so I am by no means a brisket expert – but I’ve picked up some tips along the way watching the legendary Mike Clark cook a few briskets as well as the folks down in Driftwood, TX at the Salt Lick.  I still have a lot to learn, but I’ll say this much – my brisket ain’t bad.  The key is to cook the brisket very slowly for a long period of time and incorporate smoke/steam providing indirect heat.  You want the brisket to cook over a period of hours so that all of the muscle has time to dissolve turning a “tougher” cut of beef into a soft succulent decadent feast.  12-hour cook time today for an 11 lb. brisket should put me carving meat right before kick-off.

Brisket Dry Rub

A key step in the process is to place a dry rub all over the brisket, wrap it up and let the beef sit overnight.  This allows all of those spices to soak deep into the beef which will create a thin “Texas Crust” on the outside of the brisket letting all of the natural flavors and juices of the brisket “self baste” the meat while it cooks.  There are a lot of different recipes for dry rubs that include brown sugar, salt, different kinds of pepper.  For me I have not been able to surpass the dry rub that the Salt Lick produces – so I take the easy way out and simply use theirs.  It is the right mixture between spicy and sweet and creates a great outer crust.  Like marathon training, if you find something that works – don’t mess with it.

Water Pans for Cooking Brisket

To simulate a “smoker” with my weber grill I place two pans of water above the flavorizing bars of my grill just under the actual grill grates where the brisket will cook.  A little bit of liquid smoke in the water and you get a nice smokey, moist brisket – topped with Salt Lick Lauren’s sauce and it’s about as close as I can come to reproducing their fantastic brisket.

All in all a pretty great Superbowl Sunday – and a great way to wrap up week 6 of Boston Marathon training. 

Thanks for visiting everyone!

Beef Brisket 2-hours in - 10 hours remaining