24 April 2012

Wet and Wild in Northern Virgina (Parkway Classic 10-Miler)

Scroll to the end of this post for the shorts.

I’ve decided to follow a standard/focused plan for racing; I will concentrate on shorter races (read speed) during the Spring, roll that into added base training over the summer, and focus on marathons in the Fall. Rest. Repeat. I can’t remember where I got this idea (it is not original), but I liked it as soon as I heard it. As such, my goal race for this Spring was the GW Parkway Classic. This is my favorite race, put on by my favorite LRS. They keep the crowds low (less than 8000), the course has a slight net downhill, is on rolling hills, and only has two turns along the whole course. Please remember that this report is about me; all paces and qualifiers are relative. Understand that what is fast/slow to you, may not apply to me and my perception of my own fitness.

Training: I’m pretty blessed to be a part of Pacers as an Ambassador and Fun Run Leader. I’ve found a family here with the elite team, retail and event staff, fun runners, and ambassadors. Being a part of Pacers has transformed my running through added accountability, and as an added spring board for questions and tips. Basically it’s RW, IRL.

I followed a Hudson 10k plan with an emphasis on speed. In all honestly I didn’t get in as much speed work as I’d like, but I did run hilly routes at least twice per week, more often than not many more times. I know that it isn’t the same, but it worked well enough. Most importantly I ran more mileage. Since the beginning of the year I ran around 522 miles (about 130/month and 35/week) with a peak of 62mpw. If that mileage seems low it is because it is. This includes taper, four full months instead of 11 weeks, and three weeks of this year that had an overall mileage of 12 miles( for the whole three weeks, not per week). I had eight weeks over the weekly average (35). This included three in the 49.5+ range. My average run was 8 miles, and there were 16 individual runs over 10 miles, not including days that I doubled (usually every Tuesday/Thursday because of fun runs).
Pre-race: I did a 10 day taper. I abstained from alcohol the last week; except for Saturday. The taper was only supposed to be 7 days, but, life happens.

Race morning: I got up at 3:30a.m. to help a friend get to the race start early; she had to work there. Had the obligatory cup of coffee (well two – to help with #2). I made the n00b mistake of forgetting to grab water and Gatorade from home but luckily the race provided coffee/water/food/space blankets at the start. I’d also gotten a bagel the day before to eat that morning, but I forgot it too. So my breakfast consisted of one egg, two cups of coffee and half of a Clif Bar; it was sufficient. I experiment a lot with my diet, so as long as there aren’t extremes with weather or course; I can fuel any way that is convenient. Admittedly some ways are better than others.

Race: This is a beautiful course along the Mt. Vernon Parkway. I did a 1.5 mile warmup (should have been two w/ strides, but I mis-timed the start) and was ready to go. I lined up in the front of the 7:00 min pace section and waited for the start. Rather than hit every mile, the point is simple; I went out to fast, got stuck in a slow pace in the middle miles and couldn’t recover sufficiently late in the race.
The first and last miles were sub-7, but the interim miles were far off. After about three miles I thought that I was cruising along until I peeked down at the watch and saw 7:30-something on the screen. I was really set aback. There was no reason for me to be running that slow three miles in. If nothing else, I should be able to hit 20 seconds off 5k pace, through the first three miles. I should not have been working this hard and running so slow. From this point on the race just fell apart. There were paces in 7:40 range and even one in a pedestrian 8-flat. I was kinda defeated when I saw that. Also, some knuckle head (who I think beat me) was doing this weird run (with goofy form) at sub 7 pace; walk until I was nearby, then run at sub 7 pace. He wasn’t a Gallo-walker; he was just not well paced/trained.

I was able to muster some composure at the end (due to a guy with a shirt that had the super-common phrase “Someday I will not be able to do this; today is not that day”). I was able to kick down from a 7:47 mile 9, to a 6:50-high mile 10.

Post-race analysis: I either really mis-judged my fitness or had a really bad day; and I’m not exactly sure which one it is yet. I can accept that I wasn’t in 7:15 shape, but I still find it hard to believe that I wasn’t in 7:30 shape. All of my workouts and races pointed to 7:30 being dialed in and not a challenging goal. I had a hard positive split as my 5mile split was 7:30 pace (37:28). I can pinpoint a few things that I need to do better:

-Follow my plan; and changes need to be smart and not on the fly. I know how to do this, but I still didn’t do it correctly.

-More race pace workouts and longer tempos

-Start out slower. This isn’t usually a big problem, but this time it was.

A few of my friends from my running group think that I am better at the shorter distances, but I don’t know if I accept that yet. I want to like the longer distances and I want to run the longer distance, but not if it is not where I am at my best. I have been re-thinking my marathon this fall….

Next up? Redemption. I have a hot and hilly HM next weekend that I was gonna go out and jog. Now I’m going to race it. I need to put my legs out there again. Yesterday felt a lot more like a hard workout than a race. Even after; I didn’t experience any of the post-race soreness that should be expected from giving maximal effort. And the sub-7 mile at the end of the race makes me know that this was a subpar performance. After that it is back into base training and some fun races while I decide where I want to focus and if I want to run the marathon. I’m not afraid of the training. I love the training. I think of training as school and the race as graduation. One positive thing that came out of this whole ordeal is that I realized that I really do like (and respond well) to higher mileage.

Training: Hudson Advanced 10k (with modifications)
Support: Best.Folks.Ever - Pacers, RWBF, RW Mammals – my adopted run club, and a few special friends that I can’t really hyperlink… (Jenn, Kayla, Tripp, and all of my Awesome Sock Clan).

Time: 76:30
O/A: 520/4827
A/G: 189/781 (10yr AG)
Gender: 426/2141
O/A Male Winner: 51:03 – which is a bit slower than races past which is usually sub-50. CR: 47:30
O/A Male Winner: 58:50

01 April 2012

Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler Race Report

I will try not to waste a lot of time or space on this race report (didn’t actually happen so skip to the end for the briefs). This is the biggest (15,000 strong) 10-Miler that we have in the DC Metro; part of the Big 3 for 10 Mile races (Army Ten Miler, Credit Union Cherry Blossom, and Parkway Classic 10). I wanted to run this race just so that I can say that I did it; although I was duly warned about the crowds. I figured that I’d give myself a ‘gimme’ for the first mile and that after that it would surely clear up…

I ran with my Garmin but without the GPS because of battery issues, I can’t say that it really affected me much either way, except that I don’t have more reliable splits.

Mile 1:  I expect crowding and I’m not shocked. In all honesty, this was partially my fault and partially CB’s fault. They seeded runners based on their best 10-mile time so I was in the 8:30 (1:22.30) group of runners, although my goal for this race was 7:30 (1:15). I probably could have asked to be moved up, but I figured that I would be able to clear traffic by a mile in. 8:03.16

Mile 2: I realized that I can’t be upset with the runners around me (except for the ones that move laterally without looking first). It seems that everyone is truly running ~8:30s. Great for them, not so much for me. I was very cognizant of trying not to push too much to make up for lost time. I’d see little pockets of air that I would try to hit, but I didn’t want to surge forward; in some ways I question my wisdom of this decision. I moved up slowly, I thought, but the lap time didn’t show it. As I went past the 2 mile mark I started a decline and had to remember to hold back and not to let the clock and decline dictate my pace. 8:03.10

Mile 3&4 (didn’t press lap button): Still crowded (no seriously), but I am able to find a little air by pulling little surges. I did move up noticeably here. It is considerably crowded and these streets, 2 lane roads, don’t really give much space. Hi Jenn! I saw bingo_jenn in the middle of her run and near my turnaround point somewhere in mile 3. 15:10.82; significantly faster.

Mile 5: I can actually see that it is clearing up nicely but not much else going on. I realize that for a race of this size and for this amount of money it is silly that they don’t have timing mats on the course. I would assume that there would be mats (they have signs and clocks) at the 5k, 5Mile, 10K, and 15k. I meant to check my over all time but I was still miffed that there were no mats. Also, this was about the time that we passed the elite runners going into the last mile (women started 15 minutes ahead, I believe). 7:46.7

Mile 6: This mile was where I truly decided not to ever do this race again; although I was already on the fence. The timing clock was about 10-15 meters ahead of the mile marker. That may not seem like a lot, but it can be. This area was a two-lane road with two-way runner traffic and they decided to put a water stop here, then about 50 meters later, a hairpin turn. I mean really? RD, are you serious? Move the water stop up or back .25 mile. Put the clock next to the mile signage. Separate the turnaround from the water stop. Damn you!!! 7:38.68

Mile 7: We go into Hains Point. I truly hate running and racing here. A lot of people in this area don’t like to race here, but enjoy it for running. My personal hate aside (my second ever 10 mile training run was down here and it was an epic fail, I ended up in a cab; also, my first ever race here I DNF’d). This area basically comprises mile 6.5-9.25, that is almost three miles of nearly completely abandoned road. There was a non-sponsored band (some HS kids and their parents; which was cool), a DJ who was using obviously borrowed equipment, and a guy handing out beer. I appreciate all of them and their support; but that is all that was around for almost three miles. This part of the course goes along the water, but there were not even boats in the water! I would appreciate if CB used fewer volunteers to cheer on the course (where there are always friends and family) and use those same volunteers in Hains Point. Better yet, sponsor some bands. I’m sure many would play for free; Hell I feel like I need to set up there next year. 7:40.60

Mile 8: Not much of note here, more of Hains Point. A lady did come up and asked me to run strong because she had been keying off of me for the last few miles. She said that she got nervous when she didn’t see me and had to speed up… I looked for her at the end. I hope she finished well. (If you’re reading this: “Good Job out there”). 7:43.40

Mile 9: Ending of Hains Point. A guy went down here and was being tended to by medical personnel; I said a little prayer for him, but the rumor was that he didn’t make it and I truly hope that was incorrect. I saw another guy who seemed to have tripped over the sidewalk and fell. Medical folks were there super quick! I have to give two big thumbs up to the first responders!
Mile 10: Meh… They had little signs that read 1200/800/400 to go, which was neat. I was ready to be done. My watch was all wonky here so I don’t really know what split I have for the last mile. (1.50, 4.94, 7:22.46=7:28.9?)

All-in-all I had a good race and I know that this wasn’t the goal anyway. This race did make me very excited to run my goal race at Parkway in four weeks. I have a 5k series to race between now and then. Thanks for your attention. I’m still waiting on official results, but my Garmin said 1:17:14. I kinda hope that I was 15 seconds faster than that…

After the race I changed clothes and met up with some of the people from our Fun Run group. They all seemed to do well and laughed at me while I was complaining; we are really spoiled by our LRS’s races. They ran this race last year and knew what was up. Silly, me. This is where my Fun Run co-leader commented, “You are much faster than you act,” after asking me about my time. I took it as a compliment; I think that she means that I don’t always go out and do our fun runs at 8:30 pace…

ETA: They posted results. Gun time. That is it. I am still waiting for Chip time. The site shows that it is supposedly Net and Gun times, but all of the times are the same. I think that I need to go run now... The only people who care about gun time are the O/A placers, who would know where they are instantly, and the A/G folks. BTW, Net time is NOT Gun time, Credit Union Cherry Blossom! Oh and my 5 mile split is not my gun time (or net time) divided by 2. Ridiculous. This is seriously ridiculous.