Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bombed Races, PRs and More!

I've done quite the 180 in how meticulously I've tracked my training of late.  Instead of fretting over every detail and every mile, I've taken quite a laid back approach.  I've got a training plan, and I know exactly what I need to do.  However, if I've needed time off, I've taken it.  If things have had to shift around, I've let it.

Something must be going right because I feel mostly in awesome shape.  Of course, that means I have barely been doing much tracking in my spreadsheets, or updating this blog very much.  No matter though, it's all about results!

So, here is a quick run down of where I've been since my last update:

The week following the A-10, I took it pretty easy doing no workouts during the week, but trying for a fast finish 19 miler the following Sunday.  The NCR trail turned out to be the Amazon rainforest and I was terrible at controlling myself.  When it was all said and done, I blazed through 17 miles at low 6:40s pace, partially drowning in my own sweat before I was forced by a tired body to take a break and jog in the last two miles.  Not a big deal... 60 miles for the week.

That week also contained my first attempt at a bicycle road race.  One word: FAILURE!!  Myself and 44 other morons took part in an 8 lap, 20ish mile race in Lancaster, PA.  I was basically freaking out before the race, being way, way too nervous.  After a terrible position at the start line, and even more terrible positioning in the pack, I watched an early break of 5 riders get away, never to be seen again.  The ensuing cluster fuck of riders was a crash waiting to happen, and it took all I could to dodge other riders while also trying to stay on the road.  Needless to say I quickly exhausted myself without being able to keep my wheel behind someone and got dropped like a bad habit.  Should of gone with that break....

So with that horrendous experiment behind me, I set out on the next week and put in another 60 miles.  My Tuesday workout consisted of 7 miles of tempo running on the track which I nailed.  According to a few people, it looked like I wasn't even trying as I started at 5:50 pace and worked down to 5:40 pace by mile 6, finishing with a 5:30.  I felt, really freaking good.  Sunday brought about my first 20 mile long run, which I opted to do at steady pace, finding every hill I could in Baltimore.  I nailed that one at 6:51 pace.

Unfortunately, my right knee did not approve of my choices and voiced its concerns the rest of the week.  Pain started in the knee itself, but eventually faded, to be replaced with tightness behind it.  Regardless, I pressed on in hopes of running a half marathon PR at the Philly Distance Run (now of Rock and Roll brand).  I took it easy for most of the week, save a 4xmile workout on Tuesday in which I ran in the 5:30s.

As race day drew near, I came down with a cold (and I know exactly who gave it to me too!).  Despite a bum knee and a sore throat, I went out Sunday morning with the intention of doing well.  After going out at 5:55 pace (I wanted 5:40) and feeling like shit, I realized the odds were not exactly on my side.  I fought through mile, but eventually had no choice but to back off.  I threw it on cruise control, which happened to be 6:18 pace and finished just under 1:20.  A terrible time for sure, since I wanted to go sub 1:14:44 but 6:18 pace sure felt easy, and that was a bit of a lift.  Hanging out in Philly Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday morning was also cool and made up for it.

My knee was none too pleased with me the following week, so I opted to just chill out and try and let it get better.  I was still peeved about my misfire in that race, my first poor performance essentially since Boston.  I had nailed all my summer races despite heat, hills, and monsoons.  When I finally got good weather and felt in PR shape, things didn't work out.

Enter...Race for our Kids.  This is a local big prize money race that has both a 5k and the elusive 10K.  After a friend offered me a chance for a free entry, I knew I had to do this race.  Towards the end of the week, my cold had passed, and though my knee was (and still is) not 100%, I decided I just had to do the race.

I was greeted with 50 degree weather Sunday morning, and legs that were very pleased to get going.  I had done 13 miles Saturday nice and easy, and felt ready to go after my 15 minute warm up.  A few strides confirmed that it was likely to be a good day.

With $750, $500, and $250 on the line for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the 10K, I knew I'd have little shot of placing, but should at least have people to chase after.  After taking my spot on the start line, we were off.  The course started with a sharp downhill lasting about 0.25 miles.

I immediately realized something was wrong.  Up ahead with the pace car was some fast looking guy.  Behind him was a pack of 6 people, and a few strides back was me.  In that pack was none other than Dave Berdan (injured, but still), and Alex B, a fellow TWSS runner.  Dave exclaimed the leader was a 28 minute 10K guy and that we should let him go.  This happened rather quickly leaving just that pack and me a few strides behind.

I told myself that I certainly shouldn't be anywhere near Dave or Alex, but I felt good and decided to "humor the situation" for a little.

Mile 1: 5:17

There was a downhill early, but I knew I was running just a hair too fast.  I let myself slow just a tad and let the faster runners get away, allowing myself to fade out of contact.  This course is notoriously challenging, and I had no intention of killing myself too early.  I could hear people behind me, but they were slowly fading.  It actually turned out to be the overall women battling for their top 3 spots.  It's pretty obvious when you run through an aid station and are largely ignored (being just some ugly dude in 8th), but then hear a massive cheer behind you for the overall females.

The course started going up, and would continue to go up all the way to the turn around at the half way point.  The hills never got steep, but were just enough to make you work.

Miles 2 and 3 were useless since 2 was clearly long and 3 was short.  All I knew was, I was working, and stuck running by myself.  The pack ahead had strung out and I could barely see anyone in front of me.  It would likely be a time trial the rest of the way.

After hitting the turn around, I was glad to be going back downhill.  I got myself at 5:07 for mile 4.  I have no clue if it was accurate.  I was hitting the downhill pretty hard, but wouldn't exactly count on it.

Off in the distance, I could see Alex ever so slightly coming back to me, but there was a ton of ground between us, and I would likely not catch him.  My only option was to just keep blasting downhill.

The 5K started 25 minutes after us and the course was fully contained on the 10K course, with the turnaround about 1.5 miles away from the original start.  I passed the turnaround before the leaders for the 5K came through, meaning I'd have the road to myself the rest of the way.

As I closed in on mile 5, I encountered the middle of the 5K pack and rather quickly realized the 5 and 10K courses actually intersect each other.  I barely realized I was supposed to go straight instead of turning in the direction the 5K runners were coming from.  However, a well placed Jim Adams (of Falls Road Running fame) yelled at me to keep going straight.

Disaster was quite imminent as the sea of 5K runners was now right in front of me, running perpendicular.  I had no interest in even slowing down, so everyone certainly had to get the hell out of my way.  Just as I was about to cross the path of the runners, a police officer stopped the 5K pack momentarily to let me sneak through.  Relieved, I continued on hitting mile 5 in an overall time of 26:59, a PR.

The last mile of the race was mostly uphill, much steeper than the rest of the race.  Were it flat, I think sub-34 was possible.  However, as I fought the hill, I realized I would have to settle for something between 34 and my PR.  I blazed through the finish in 8th overall, 2nd in my age group, and the last dude to finish ahead of the women (1st woman= 34:54, yea).

Time: 34:07, a 20 second PR.

Awesome, awesome stuff.

So through it all, I bagged another PR and am still in great shape.  My knee is still meh, but it's not getting worse.  It seems that if I keep my calf loose, the knee mostly cooperates.  For this week, I'm going back up to 60+ miles and will hit a 20 mile long run on the weekend.

Overall, I'm very pleased with where I am.

Oh...and there was some bike riding in this mix, but I don't feel like recalling much of it.

My next event will be the Baltimore Marathon, for which I am pacing the 3:10 group.  Then the Richmond full is on the horizon.  Fall used to be for cross country, but I'll settle for marathon season!!