Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crunch Time...3 Weeks and Counting

I'm starting to get that "kid on Christmas Eve" excited feeling now.  Since I got hurt about 5 or 6 weeks out from Boston, its been a while since I've been this close to a big race and I've forgotten about the giddy feeling in the weeks leading up to it!

This week was largely successful as I continue to sharpen for the goal race.  My left leg has still been troublesome, though to a lesser extent.  I only had to skip one run this week as oppose to the 2, 3, or 4 that I have been in weeks past.  It never affected any of the runs I did complete.  So as long as I keep stretching, and stay on top of it with compression, it should hold up.

The week:

Monday: AM: 4 miles, easy
                PM: 10.5 miles total, with about 3.5-4 miles at 5:40 pace or faster.  This was supposed to be an easy run, then some of the people I was running with dropped the hammer about 1/3 of the way through.  At first I held back, then my ego took over as I said something along the lines of "Man fuck this, I didn't come out here to get dropped."  Of course, by then these guys had about a half mile gap on me and had started at 5:40 pace, so I had to haul at 5K pace just to catch up, and managed to stay with them until about 3/4 of a mile to go when I ran out of gas.

In the future, I'll keep in mind that Monday afternoons may not always be easy...

Tuesday: Rest.  Got in a sports massage, which I have never done before.  I believe it did help, though it certainly wasn't some kind of magic bullet.

Wednesday:  AM: 9 miles, 5 moderate, 4 easy
                      PM: 7 miles, easy/moderate

Thursday: AM: ~9 miles total.  I ran about 4.5 miles around the city, met up with some friends who were doing 800s at 3:00 minute pace, did a few of those, and then ran back home for about 9 miles total.  Speedwork for them, marathon pace pickups for me, but we appreciated each others company on a rather dreary rainy morning.

Friday: AM: 3 miles. moderate

This was the first day my leg started bothering me.  I canned my easy afternoon run and opted just to keep compression on my leg.  It paid off because my weekend went really well.


10 miles at marathon pace:  6:38, 6:07, 5:58, 5:55, 6:00, 6:07, 5:52, 5:53, 5:46, 5:53
I'm rather happy with this run, even if the last few miles were fast.  Baltimore got hit with its first winter storm even though it was October 29th.  Despite 33 degree temperatures, a mix of snow, rain, and ice pellets, I managed to run pretty evenly.  I used the first mile as a warm up and then hit it.  The 4 were a bit fast because I was getting really cold and needed to get back to my car!  Its rough to get hit with such cold weather so abruptly.  Most importantly, after feeling like shit for the first 3 miles, I settled in really nicely and just kept knocking off the miles.

16 miles in the following format:  2 mile warm up, 2 miles at tempo pace, 6 miles easy, 4 miles at tempo pace, 2 miles easy.  I have actually never done a workout like this and wanted to give it a try.  I actually liked it.  The second tempo interval was a bit tougher with 10 miles already on my legs, even if 8 of them were easy.  I can see why people do workouts like this.  In the future, I'll experiment more with changing the length of the on/off intervals.

The first 2 mile tempo was at 5:40 pace, the second at around 5:30-5:35.  Overall, I felt strong.  I've got a 10K coming up next weekend where I both PR'ed big time and won last year (Rockville 10K) and will try to repeat both of those this year.  I'm thinking going out at 5:25-5:30 pace is not out of the question one bit.

Total Mileage:  68.5 miles...yea its not 70+ but what's more important is I still feel sharp, and my leg isn't killing me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sticking with Philly...Just a Few more Weeks!

I have ultimately decided to stick with the Philadelphia Marathon as my goal race.  It's amazing what two weekends of no racing will do to make me feel better.  My left leg continues to occasionally be troublesome; I've concluded that it is 100% muscular.  Whether something is strained, or just tightening up on me, I can keep it at bay with heat and compression.  If I stop for a couple of days, I get bad tightness in my inner left thigh.  I can also tell my left quad, hamstring, and glute tend to tighten up before my right leg on longer runs.

Hopefully a sports massage (which I have never had done before) will clear it up.  In the meantime, this was an interesting week so far....

     AM: 4 miles, easy.
     PM: 10.5 miles total, mostly easy.
     Legs were still sore from Saturday, though after each run, they felt a little better.  I had no tightness issues

     Early PM: 50 mile bike ride, relatively flat, easy pace
     Evening, Track workout (~8 miles total with w/u, c/d): 3200, 400, 2x100 stride, 800, 1600, 400.  At least I think that is what it was.  I nailed it pretty well with the 3200 at 5:30 pace and the 1600 near 5:20 pace.
    The soreness had subsided substantially by this day.  Unfortunately, the bike did not agree with me very much and left my lower back rather sore.  I don't know if it's because my legs were already tired, or if something about my riding position has changed, but I've been all of a sudden getting a lot of lower back pain lately.  For now, I'm going to stop riding the bike all together until after Philly.  With the end of the Duathlon season, I can really focus everything I've got left into the marathon.
     I could feel my left quad tighten up a bit later that night, and by Wednesday/Thursday/Friday, the pain was back.

Wednesday: 4 miles, easy
Thursday: 5.3 miles, easy
Friday: 3 miles, easy

I eventually discovered that heat/compression do the trick to clear the pain up.  Once I started doing that hardcore on Friday, I was good to go by the afternoon, but still opted to not push it any further.  The tightness gets substantially worse if I stand in the cold, as I found out Friday.  After being outside 20 minutes after my run ended, I literally could not step off the curb.  I know it wasn't just the easy runs that did the trick, because it was only getting worse until I finally applied the right mix of treatment.

Saturday: 22 miles @ 6:30AM.  I was really glad my leg cleared up, because I was looking forward to this run.  Thanks to my new connections with the faster people in Baltimore, I was set up to do a long run with someone else also looking to run around a 2:40-2:42 marathon in NYC, so we both had a similar pace.

We started at Sparks Elementary, ran 2 miles on the roads, and then hit the NCR Trail just as the sun was coming up.  We didn't skip a beat and started off at 6:45 pace.  I usually start in the 7:20s, so it was nice to get going sooner.  The miles also go by when you have more company than your own voice (no headphones for me!!).

Ultimately, my bowels conspired against me (not sure why this is happening to me more now than it used to), so I couldn't quite keep up over the last few miles, but i ended up with a 6:14 average per mile.  1 week after a marathon, with no water (by design), and no food during the run (because I'm an idiot), is damn well good enough for me.

This is just what I needed to prove to myself that I have the capability to maintain 6:07 or better for a full marathon.  Doing it after having only done a 14-15 mile run the week before, with water and food (stingers, the next attempt at finding what works) should be a hell of a lot easier!

Tomorrow will probably just be an easy 7ish miles.  The total mileage for the week will be a bit low, but with my splits, its hard to justify needing more miles.  I'll skip a 20+ mile run next week (26.2 and 22 back to back is certainly enough) then do one more the first weekend in November if my body cooperates.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

To change my goal race?

I have been presented with an interesting set of circumstances.  I have a bib for the Marine Corps Marathon in two weeks.  Originally, I was supposed to be pacing someone, but that is no longer happening.  I know I'm in peak shape now, and have already posted about how I was trying to "bridge the gap" to Philly.

Now though, I'm wondering if I should take this opportunity to just taper off now and race MCM.  During the week of the 10th, I only ran about 15 miles (all hard miles) because of my leg problem.  I did about 75 this week, but no workout, except for a slight 10 mile progression the day after Baltimore to shake my legs out.  So with a couple of easy weeks, I could easily be fresh; I do recover quickly when I give my body the opportunity.

I feel ready, maybe just slightly concerned about endurance, if only because I never really surpassed 80 miles per week or 20 miles in a long run.  However, I then wonder if a couple more long workouts are really going to make or break anything.  I've completed 11 marathons since March 2008, so I'm not new to this and I know the possible risks of racing a marathon before being ready.  But, if I'm peaked now, why draw it out?

There are a few knowledgeable runners that read this blog.  If you were in my situation, what would you do?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Baltimore Marathon...3:30 pacer, 3:29:44 overall time

This was the second year in a row that I participated in the Baltimore Marathon as a Geico Pacer.  Someday I may race the marathon; I could actually place quite well, but this is a really unique opportunity to give back.  I used pace groups when I first started marathoning, and thanks to this specific group, my third marathon was the first that I ran from start to finish in just under 3:30.  2.5 years later, I have been able to return the favor, twice.

In the future, I will try and pace a faster group, but the main advantage of going 3:30 is a quick recovery.  8 minute pace is a tad slow for long run pace, but its good to stretch out the endurance legs a bit.  Also, once you get to 3:20, 3:10, and 3:00, the groups get significantly smaller.

We had a total of 4 pacers in our group, 3 returning from last year (including me) and one new guy.  Baltimore is a pretty tricky course to pace evenly as we are supposed to, but we were never more than 8 seconds in either direction from 8 minute pace.

Through the first 8 or 9 miles we were a tad fast, about a minute faster than overall goal pace thanks to all the downhill running through the Zoo and St. Paul street.  With the flat area around Federal Hill, and the interesting run through Underarmor, we managed to dial it back to anywhere from 0-20 seconds faster than overall pace.

We essentially held that the rest of the way, through the merge with the slower half marathoners, the hills, and the nasty winds around Lake Montebello.  Our group stayed rather cohesive, though you always lose and gain people along the way.

As we began to approach the finish, mile 23, 24, 25, we encouraged people to go on ahead, though some did on their own.  As pacers, we are obligated to stay even, but heavily encourage others to push ahead if they have anything left.  We received many, many thanks from runners who charged on to smash 3:30.  Others held on for dear life sticking right behind us as we tucked in tight whenever the winds picked up to try and shield people.

Down the last stretch we had some half marathoners, and a couple of marathoners with us.  It took a bit of yelling on our parts, but we got the last of the marathoners around us to stay on pace and eventually charge ahead.

We crossed the line smooth, steady, and quite relaxed in 3:29:44, well within our allowed 59 second window, and nearly dead on.  More people thanked us as we made our way through the finish area.

Overall, it was an extremely successful and rewarding day.  We were told more than a few times along the way about how good we were at keeping pace.  Anytime we supposedly came up to a mile marker more than 10 seconds too fast, everyone assumed it was short (they probably were...).  I am the marathoner I am today thanks to a couple of pace groups that showed me what it means to hold on at the end.

Hopefully, a few other marathoners out there today learned the same lesson.

I did this last year as well, also pacing 3:30 and feel like it was much easier this year, which hopefully puts me in better shape!  My left leg tightened up on me again before the race yesterday, but I managed to get it under control before the race.  It feels pretty good now, considering I just spent over an hour more on my feet running than I usually do.  The last time I spent 3:30 running was when I paced last year.

Some more running and hopefully a bike ride are on tap for tomorrow.  I'll see how I feel before committing to an effort level.  It was certainly nice to kick back and not race this weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thinking I need to Listen to my Instinct

Being roughly 6 weeks out from the Philly Marathon, I'm pretty content all things considered.  I never thought I would so fully recover from my Spring stress fracture to the point that I've PR-ed at the 5K and half marathon distances (along with some nice track races thrown in there).  My speed and 10k-half marathon range of paces are certainly back.

This is further evidenced by the splits I've been putting down in my track work/tempo runs.  Furthermore, these workouts of late have been much tougher than what I usually do, now that I run with a group.  Add to that, the many, many races I've run in the last two months, essentially every weekend from the beginning of August to this week, with a week missed due to Hurricane Irene, and it is clear I have done a lot of hard running.

On top of that, I've put in some good bike miles, and have been running more mileage this year than I did at this point last year.  Now being so close, I feel like I won't get a whole lot more speed/tempo out of myself and I need to focus on anything lacking.  The only aspect of my running that I feel slightly uncomfortable with is my endurance.

To that end, I'm thinking of trying to focus on that more over the next few weeks, just throwing in an extra mid week semi long run (10-13 miles), and getting my easy runs consistently above 7 miles.  It almost seems backwards to base build last, but it seems to be exactly what I need.  I'll still have to do some fast running to stay sharp, but I don't know if I see a point in killing myself with many more tough workouts.

I was talking to a runner today who agreed that the last few weeks should be focused on fine tuning.  I guess I just have some slight reservations about turning the intensity down a notch since I'm used to going hard pretty often.  Of course, what usually happens is that I get in a few more hard workouts, sort of fizzle out, and then have no choice but to take it easy.  Maybe now I can avoid the fizzle and just get sharper going into these last couple of weeks.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Back Into the Swing of It? Probably

No run today, but I did go for a hard 31 mile bike ride.  It was basically an interval workout, which is rather interesting on a bike.  I've got a course that has a bunch of challenging hills and a couple of flat sections perfect for sprinting.  The entire loop is 35 miles; I've been slowly working my up from 24, adding another section on each time.

With the sun going down sooner during the week, I can't ride as far but I can certainly ride harder with the time I do have.  Once winter rolls around, I've got a rather ambitious idea to keep my riding up at least a couple of times during the week (assuming it is not icy out), but it requires another bike so it may be a pipe dream for now.

Regardless, I sprinted twice, each time for somewhere near 1.5 miles.  It's certainly a struggle to hold the harder effort, but I'm slowly inching my way further along before fading.  The first section which is truly flat, I managed to top out at 27-28mph, but slowed to about 24 by the end.  For the second section, it goes up and down ever so slightly.  On the uphill section, I topped out at 27.  With the gravity assist, I got to 32-33 mph and managed to hold upper 20s to near 30mph all the way through to the finish of that section.  This particular stretch of road has a speed limit of 35mph, so riding with the cars makes it exciting.  All of this was in drop bars, no aero position since its practice for group rides when they start again!

There are also two big hills and then a bunch of rolling hills the rest of the way.  The big one of them all, Ilchester road always does a number on me.  I certainly needed a breather at the top, but all in all, it was a successful ride.

Most importantly, my leg feels nearly 100%.  I've kept heat on it most of the day and though it is still slightly tighter than my right leg, if it could survive that ride, than it is certainly good to go.  Time for a running double tomorrow.  Rain on Wednesday will prevent me from riding unless the weather changes, so Thursday will probably be my next chance on the bike.  So, more running it is!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cape Henlopen Duathlon: A Success of Modern Medicine

Despite the fact that I could barely walk all day Saturday, a clutch disposable heating pad and some ibuprofen forced my left leg and back to be compliant for my Sunday morning race.

Going into the race, I ran a whopping total of 10 miles and biked 31 for the week, pitiful to say the least.  Though, I guess some recovery never hurt anyone.

This particular duathlon, a sprint distance was to be quick with a 1.5 mile run, a 13 mile flat course bike ride and a 3.1 mile run.  Temperatures were absolutely perfect at the start.  I racked my bike in a rather large transition area, warmed up, and went to the start hoping for the best from my uncooperative body.

Both run legs took place in Cape Henlopen State Park, on the paved trails which made for some good running.  The bike leg went out on the roads in the surrounding area.

This was the first duathlon in a while where I actually got a fight out of some of the others on the first run.  I went back and forth with two other guys and came flying into transition in 8:49, 5:52 pace which was honestly a little slow.  I can blame it on the fact that I was a bit rusty coming into the race.

The other two runners were hot on my tail, but I got out of transition in 57 seconds, still in the lead.  My glasses had fogged up while sitting near my bike, so I was completely blind as I ran out of transition.  After mounting my bike, I did manage to clear them.  Certainly made things exciting...

Before this race I had bought a water bottle with a straw that sits between my aero bars to make drinking easy.  I only took a few sips the whole way on the bike, and didn't eat anything.  With the flat course, you just need to keep going without any interruptions.

I got passed by two people early, but it turns out they both went off course and lost the lead.  I think I could have still caught them both on the run.  Regardless, as we continued on, I got passed by someone else who then proceeded to crash right next to me.  I saw it coming, as he didn't take a corner hard enough, drifted out into a hedge and then fell into the road.  I moved over just enough so he wouldn't take me out too.

I thought of stopping for a moment, but realized if that had been me and someone stopped, I would have told them to keep going.  These are top spots we're talking about, even if none of us are elite athletes...

As I continued, I slowly got more comfortable on the bike and was able to increase my speed. Instead of hovering in the 21-22 mph range, I was able to keep it over 23mph for most of the second half.  I'm not sure why it always takes me nearly half the race to get into a bike groove, but hopefully with more training it will get smoother.

I got passed by two more bikes along the way (frustrating isn't it!!).  When I finally got back to transition, after blowing through a rather technical part of the course, I dismounted cleanly and ran into transition, dragging my bike for a moment as it fell while I was running.  I knew I had runners to catch, so I was dragging that bike if I had to!  It was on grass, so no scratches.  The bike leg took 35:12, at 12.75 miles as measured by my computer, it works out to 21.7mph.  I really wish it was faster.  It was good for 14th overall.  With the exception of the fastest time of less than 31 minutes, most of the times were not that far off from mine, just a minute separated the next 10 riders.

I was out of transition in 49 seconds, just behind someone who finished on the bike right next to me.  I made quick work of him and came through mile 1 in what seemed like a real slow split.  My legs were exhausted as I clearly pushed it on the bike.  My left leg was cooperating, so I at least had that going for me.  I managed to track down and pass another runner at about mile 1.5.  I got a glimpse of the leader on an out and back section, and I knew there was not enough ground left for me to catch him.

Regardless, I knew I was in second and thought things were locked up.  Then as I was approaching mile 2, I could hear foot steps getting closer, and closer, and closer....

I've done many duathlons to date and have never been passed by anyone on either run leg.  I was shocked to hear someone catching me.  It turns out it was one of the guys from our early pack, so I knew he could run.  Clearly, he had run a better second leg than me to this point, and apparently, we were even on the bike.  The only problem for him was that as a runner, I have way too much pride.

He passed me and got about 5 strides on me.  I was still stunned that I had even been passed at this point.  I hesitated for the briefest of moments, only to summon all available energy I had left.  I then told myself I was going to break this guy, I would run him right into the ground, and he would regret ever trying that move.

I surged, closed the gap and passed him cleanly.  He let me go by opting to run behind me instead of alongside.  He fell right into my hands.  I held the surge the rest of the way, and picked it up even more with 1/4 mile to go.  He was barely holding on as it was, and with the second surge, I could hear him back off as I ran hard down the final straight in an open grass field (cross country finish!).

This guy ended up just a few seconds behind me.  My 18:55 second run was good for third on that leg.  This guy I just raced had 2nd, and the 1st place runner was one of the cyclists who went off course, got back on, rode real slow back in, then with fresh legs, was able to run the second leg hard.  I don't know if I can count that time!  But, I'll take 3rd on the second run.

Overall, I finished 2nd with a time of 1:04:44, just over 2 minutes behind the winner, with no crashes or going off course.  Not bad.

My leg seems to be moving in the right direction, so I am going to attempt to resume normal training this week.  Either the NSAIDs and heating pad did the trick, or time has healed it.  I'm really anxious to get back on the band wagon.  One down week is fine, but two is pushing it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Slight Frustration

I am no doctor, but I think my left leg pain is due to an aggravated nerve.  It is certainly not bone because I sure as hell know what that feels like.  It also is not really behaving quite like a muscle strain, since I also know what that feels like.

My only possible conclusion is that a nerve has been pissed off, which is causing pain to radiate a bit in my left quad.  I ran and biked once a piece this week on Tuesday and Wednesday, about 10 miles total with 1 mile at 5K pace, 2 miles at tempo pace, and 1 mile at faster than 5K pace (5:16, 11:19, 5:06).  I also biked 32 miles at 20mph the following day.

I can run and bike on it, the bike seems to be more agreeable, but regardless, I threw caution to the wind and took Thursday and Friday off.  I can't really tell if its getting better.  I also spent 8 hours total driving today, which probably didn't help.  I certainly have no interest in taking 2 months off after suffering a significant injury, so I'm listening to my body now in hopes that it will work itself out soon.

I have decided not to change my weekend plans.  On Saturday, I've got 3 hours of easy riding for a charity event and a sprint duathlon Sunday, 1.5 miles running, 14 on the bike, 3 miles for run 2, all on flat terrain.

I'll reevaluate again Monday morning.  I've got no more races currently scheduled between this Du and the Philly marathon, though I may try for at least a 10K in early November.  Additionally, I am in wonderful shape right now and a few days off isn't going to kill me.  I can only hope that whatever this issue is will work itself out sooner rather than later.

I also have no plans of dropping out of my marathon pacing duties, 3:30 at Baltimore as a Geico Pacer next weekend and 3:25-3:30 at Marine Corps as someone's "personal" pacer.

I've been very smart about my training this season, running more than I did at this time last year, but still much less than what led to my stress fracture in the Spring.  Just as the weather was getting perfect, this mysterious issue had to come up, but I have to just take it a day at a time....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I am not a slave to my training schedule...I am not a slave to....

I had a pretty solid workout tonight, the perfect workout to compliment a good weekend.

2 mile warmup, followed by a 1600meter right around 5K pace, followed by a 3200m at tempo pace, then another 1600meter with whatever was left.  Rest was a real slow 400m jog.  Certainly easier than last week, but hard enough to make you work to get it done.

5:16 for the first mile
11:19 for the 2 miles
5:06 for the last mile

I was chasing someone for the 5:06, but regardless, it felt surprisingly "right."  I didn't feel like I was murdering myself to hold that pace which shocked me.

Unfortunately, despite taking Monday off completely, and not running this morning, my left leg is still not very happy with me.  It is definitely muscular.  My glutes are fine now since I haven't been sitting on my ass driving or flying so I am hoping that with a couple of days off from running that my leg will get better.

I certainly will not make the same mistake of trying to run through recurring nagging pain.  A few days off won't do anything to my running, but another two months off would be unthinkable.  I've got something real, real good going for me right now and I won't ruin it!  Training is a means to an end, and not something that should get in the way of what matters...the times....

I'll take the bike for a spin Wednesday afternoon and see if my leg approves of that activity instead.  I hope it does, because the weather is supposed to be awesome the rest of the week, and I could use some bike miles with only one ride last week.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another day...another half

This weekend was certainly one of the more interesting ones I've had in a while.  I got back from New Hampshire Saturday night, watched a couple of episodes of Futurama on Netflix, and then just passed out for about 7 hours only to wake up at 5AM to get ready to do it all again.

This time, I was to be the runner on a triathlon relay team covering the half Ironman distance; though the Ironman phrase was no where to be found since this was not one of their events.  Its a good thing there is not a company that owns the phrase "marathon."  Anyway, this race, the Half Full Triathlon had the half, as well as an olympic triathlon, and relays for both races.

The half required 0.9 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking, and a half marathon run.  My team was "sponsored" by Cerasport, a small company that makes its own rice based electrolyte drink.  We got a free entry ($270 for the team) and tri jerseys to run in, as well as a bunch of free cerasport mix.  It actually tastes pretty good; not as sweet as Gatorade.

Of course, 0.9 miles of swimming and 56 miles of biking takes a really freaking long time.  So although I got to the race at 6:30 (advantage: parking near the start), I didn't actually start my run until about 11:15.  It was also rather cold to be standing around outside waiting, not to mention I needed a big breakfast to actually survive until the race.

After having an awesome breakfast from one of the race day vendors: eggs, bacon, hash browns, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cheese, I went to my car and basically slept in warmth until 10:20AM.  Maybe not the best pre-race meal but like I said, I was hungry!

By 11:20 my cyclist handed the chip off to me and I was off to the races.  It was hard to tell of our exact position (turned out we were 5th off the bike), and I had no idea who I even needed to pass.  There were individuals, a couple of relay divisions, and the course was two loops.  I figured if I just passed a lot of people, we would gain a few spots.

I went out rather relaxed since this was basically going to just be a marathon paced run.  I got an awful lot of comments about how strong I looked (some of them in a very condescending tone, because apparently running well is offensive) even though I wasn't really running an earth shattering pace.  Silly multi sport athletes...

I actually started my watch in the wrong place inside should have been when I got out and a couple of the mile markers seemed like they were off, not to mention that the whole course may have been slightly short (though running out of transition probably made up for it).  I've actually noticed this a lot in multi sport events; courses don't always seem quite as accurate as road races.  But whatever, it was close enough.

My average ended up being 6:09 pace for a 1:20:35 overall.  I actually continued to feel stronger as the race went on and slowly picked it up as I was not on marathon pace initially.  I felt rather refreshed at the end of the race, which is how I should feel if this were a marathon paced run.  Combine my 1:18:45, and I've got a "2 day marathon" time under 2:40.  I have no idea what that means, but it certainly shouldn't be a bad thing, and can't be any more worthless than Yasso 800s for measuring marathon readiness (yea I said it).

As it turns out, I pretty much sandbagged the shit out of this race.  What I intended to do Saturday actually happened Sunday in much more dramatic fashion.  Our team ended up winning, and apparently the next closest relay runner's time was in excess of 1:40.  Yea....

We got some beer mugs and got to stand on top of a podium, so that was fun.

Overall, I'm pleased.  My only concern is my left leg.  My left quad which was tight last week seems to have been re-aggravated by all the flying/driving I did this week (lots of car ride time in NH).  It might be my left glute that is causing the issue since it hurts to sit down on it sometimes.  It may be so tight that it is pulling on my leg or something.

Regardless, it felt better during today's race than yesterday's.  Stretching helps, as does staying warm and not in freezing cold rain; recently I've been lax in stretching.  I'll probably take Monday off unless I suddenly feel better and see how it is Tuesday morning.

Mileage for the week...Mid 60s for running, only 55 on the bike; no time for cycling...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Check your Ego and Hubris at the door!

So I managed to run that half marathon up in Bristol, NH.  The scenery was awesome, the weather was ok (cool and rainy), the race was cheap ($45 for race day registration), and it was well organized.  It was also good to go up and see a friend who is busy teaching at Dartmouth for the fall.

As it turned out, I wasn't the only arrogant SOB who tried to swoop in for an easy win.  Three other competitive runners toed to the line with me.  After our 5:42 first mile I thought to myself: "Shit, this is a race."  Two of the three runners dropped off the pace by mile 3.

The hills also started at 3.  I should have known better that a race in New Hampshire though beautiful, was going to be a roller coaster of despair.  By mile 5, I had realized that I was going to have to kill myself and ruin my step back week to keep up with the remaining runner.  He was able to bust out the downhills better than me, and each time I had to work twice as hard on the flats and uphills to catch back up.  By 5 or 6, I realized that was it.  It also didn't help that I probably should have gone out at about 5:50-6:00 pace and then eased into the 5:40s on the second half of the course when it flattened out.  This was definitely a strategic race and not a time trial race, though I tried to run it like the latter.

So I backed off the pace, which had already slackened thanks to the hills and cruised through the rest of the race at roughly 6:05-6:15 pace (one slow mile thanks to a hill).  That allowed me to actually admire the scenery a little bit.

I crossed the finish in 1:18:45 by my watch; the official timer was off as they had tried to start the half at the same time as the full even though the half start was at the half way point of the course, so it was off by about 15 seconds.  The winner finished in a rather impressive ~1:15 and change.  I would have needed my A game to beat him if I even had a shot, not my "I just did a really hard workout Tuesday, signed up for this last minute, and thought it would be an easy win game."

I did end up 2nd overall.  My legs felt a little shot, partially because I was not prepared for such a hilly race, and partially because I've had 4 plane rides in the past 3 days which I have never, ever done!  I actually don't know if I got cash or not because the timing company was unable to present the final results due a malfunction of some kind, so all awards are being mailed.  I guess I'll find out...

Now off to half marathon #2, which is just going to be a run that happens to be during a triathlon, in which I get a free tri top and didn't have to pay anything thanks to Cera Sport, a company that has a line of electrolyte replacing drinks.  Since it's a triathlon relay, I won't even have anyone to race so I really won't get tempted to get away from my plan!  Just a shake out run at this point...