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

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