Saturday, October 29, 2011

Devils Chase Race Report: Following the plan

Coming into the last mile of the Devil's Chase this morning I had one thought in my mind: My coach was right. He was right about the pacing, he was right about using the virtual partner on the watch, he was right about what to wear.

This was my best running race in I don't remember how long. Like many good races, then pre-race had a few hiccups, but I'll get into that later. First, the race. 1200 people, at least half dressed in some devil-themed fashion, including a guy in a red speedo and body paint and many variations of deviled eggs (unofficial pictures here).

The plan was to run 7:34s throughout the race, monitoring my heart rate and reducing pace if the heart rate rose too much. I didn't want to go out too hard like I had in the Somerville Homeless Coalition 5K. I've spent a lot of my run training in low heart rate/ low pace zones, so I was a little worried about how fast 7:34 would feel. Turns out, it felt great. Comfortable for the first few miles, then hard, but not impossible.

I love using my garmin for to manage my run. Because the plan was pretty straightforward and because I can only program 1 "advanced" workout into my run, I had uploaded the warm up workout. Unfortunately, I had cut it a bit too fine and didn't have time to reprogram the watch for the actual race. So I just had the instantaneous pace displayed to work with. I hadn't appreciated just how much this metric varies. I'd look down and see a pace of 8 minutes then of 7, then back to 7:20. I knew I wasn't varying that much, so I tried to keep it fast and consistent. Next time I'll definitely use the virtual partner for this type of run.

Just past mile 2, a woman caught up to me. I held with her for a bit, then saw that we were some where near a 7:15 mile. Too fast. I thought about what my coach had said about catching people holding my pace and catching people at the finish. I let her go. She never got out of sight, and I caught her and held her off around 4.5 miles. :)

At mile 5 I was still feeling good. We came around a corner close to 5.2 miles, and I decided it was time to see what I still had left in the legs. I started picking people off. I got passed by one guy between there and the 6 mile mark. After that no more.

I did the 6th mile in 7:17, then sped up a bit more and did the final 6 tenths at a 7:04 pace. (Note: the first lap is 3 miles.)

I did the first 10K in 45:47 which is right around my best 10K time. I was so happy with this. I was the 104th person out of over 1200 and the 6th in the women 30-39 age group. So pleased.

Ok, back to the start. We got to the course a bit later than planned. You see 95 and 128 are pretty much synonymous in Boston, but apparently as you get to the north shore, they diverge. Andrea and I were engaged in a very in depth conversation about cords of firewood and missed the split. We still got to the course well before the start, but with registration and port-o-potty queues and dropping our warm, outer layers at the car, there wasn't a lot of extra time. So as we were dropping our clothes off, I thought I'd rather just run into the bushes to pee, rather than risking missing the start waiting for a port-o-potty. I searched out a spot that wasn't visible from the road and squatted. Then I noticed there was a bur on my gloves. Wait, there are burs on my jacket. Oh, no there are burs everywhere, outside and inside my tights. I did my best to de-bur-ify myself, but those were some scratchy tights. Luckily, the cool temperatures were numbing.

This little guy followed me home:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What to wear for cold weather running

Double post today!

One other factor I'm thinking about for the race Saturday is weather. It's supposed to be 35 degrees And sunny (it's sleeting right now - hooray, Boston). I was talking with my coach last night about how best to dress for that weather.

Coach Alan sent this link along to me that I wanted to share with you:

My plan is tights, long sleeves, gloves and newly purchase headband to protect my ears. And I'll bring a light windbreaker as well.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Race prep: Salem Devil's Chase 6.66 miler

After five days at the beach and a visit to my coach in DC, I'm back and settled in to my routine and ready to take on the 6.66 miler this weekend.

The trip to Galveston for Paul's family reunion was fantastic. I still did some training: one open water swim, a little over 20 miles of running and a fun bike, but mostly it was about hanging out. My days looked like this.

Catch the sunrise


This weekend is the 6.66 mile Devil's Chase in Salem. I've been training for the Chilly Half Marathon coming up in 2.5 weeks. This weekend's race is a fun one, to practice for the half.

The plan is to not go out too hard (again, just like the 5K, except this time, I'll follow the plan). I've got a pace to hold and heart rates to stay under. I'm feeling good about it.

This weekend is also R's second 5K. I'm looking forward to cheering her on Sunday at the Superhero 5K.

Finally, I was a little nervous about working with a coach at a distance, but it's been great. Getting to run and swim with him last week was definitely a highlight. And then today, I got my feedback on my last run, including this:

Look at that cadence improvement. Yay.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Anti-Social Triathlete

It's been four weeks since I started working with my new coach. I have a few thoughts on how it's going.

  1. Holy running, batman.
  2. I'm becoming an anti-social triathlete.
  3. I'm officially hardcore.
1. Running.
Fall running season is upon us. The Newton Chilly Half is just 5 weeks away, and as a result I've run 74 miles in the last 4 weeks. That's not a lot for real runners, but for me, let's put this in perspective. Prior to starting with the new coach, it took 10 weeks to get to 74 miles. Over the last 4 weeks running has made up 38% of my training time.

I've been struggling to balance this volume with my low shin splint. It hurt a lot in the warm up before last week's 5K. I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel on the half. But, Coach Alan gave me Tuesday off from running to help it recover. That meant, I didn't run from Saturday until Thursday of this week. The rest in conjunction with some ART and my own "squatting stretch" has helped immensely. (This stretch is one I made up a few years ago that seems to help with my shin splints. It's just squatting down with heals off the ground and shifting weight from one side to the other. I think it's stretching my tibialis posterior. At a minimum it feels good. Do you have any suggested stretches of your own?)

Thursday's run felt ok. Not pain-free, but it was the first run that was actually better than the previous one. I ran again yesterday, and it seemed ok again. So, I'm hopeful that the half marathon is still in the cards.

2. The Anti-Social Triathlete

I've done a lot more of my workouts over the last four weeks on my own. Sure, I've done my Thursday runs with Lauren, a ride with Chad, a few swims and a trainer ride with Andrea, but I've done a majority on my own. I was worried that I might get bored or lazy without that local person to be accountable to, but instead, I sort of enjoy having a few workouts all to myself.

You see, the workouts are very prescriptive. An 80 minute run with a heart rate between 151 and 159 means that the only people I can run with are those who are willing to run at the pace that gets me to that heart rate. Sometimes it works out, like it did yesterday with some BTT folks out by the river, but sometimes it's just too hard to make the logistics work. And, other times it's nice to just tune into my workout, no distractions.

And that got me thinking. My friend R who's just started running doesn't like to run with anyone else. When I first started running, I didn't want to run with any one else either. But slowly, as I developed confidence in my running, I started wanting to run with people. And, as I started running with people, I started getting faster. Now I'm not superfast, but it is interesting to feel this shift away from the social element of my training.

And then the consultant in me had to make a visualization.

3. I'm hardcore.

If you're still with me, thanks! I promise this is worth it. Yesterday, I was running the river with two other people. At almost 8 miles in, something hit my eye. What was that? I wiped my eye and came away with bird shit. EW!!!

But here's the thing. I kept running. Didn't even mention it to my running buddies. There's not much that could be done about it at the time. When I finished the run, I went into a Dunkin Donuts and washed up.

Told you it was worth it. :)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

SHC 5K Race Report: Jack rabbit starts always hurt

This 5K felt like a race, which was weird. How did I know it was a race? I made a morning schedule:

  • 6:45 - Wake up, check heart rate and weight, eat, bathroom, warm up ankle, bathroom, grab wine (as you do... see below), water
  • 7:10 - Leave home
  • 7:30 - Arrive at R's, assemble strata for brunch (hence the wine)
  • 8:20 - Head to the race
  • 8:39 - Warm up
  • 8:55 - Water + gel
  • 9:00 - Race
I usually approach road races as just fun training, but yesterday I was out for a PR. Then again, it's also been 18 months since I've run a 5K (I know, I was surprised by this as well), and I've gotten more competitive in that time.

This being the first race with the new coach there were several new elements to it. Like a warm up. Coach gave me about 2 miles with progressively harder effort to get warm and ready. I've been struggling with the development of a low shin splint (originally occurred just before nationals, but keeps acting up). It hurt on this warm up, but the combination of the adrenaline and the warm up made it pain-free during the actual race.

The race strategy was to not go out too hard and to negative split the race. I got to the start line just as the gun went off. I tried to stay with friend D. But within a few yards, it was clear that keeping up with him was out of the question. I tried to keep the feeling of pushing hard, but not crazy. And then I passed the 1 mile mark. 6:52. Shit. That's way too fast. Ok. now I'm trying to maintain a hard effort, but still have something left in the tank for the last mile. Not the plan.

The second mile was 7:19. Gah, over-correction. Ok, all out for this last mile. This hurt. And then it was over. In fact, that was the thing about this race, the time felt like it went fast. And it was fast 22:17. A new PR (and 5th of the 116 women aged 30-39). But Coach says if I had followed the race plan, it would have been even faster

But that's not the end of the story. I wasn't the only one with PR. Coworkers D, J and K all posted PRs too. And as I mentioned in my last post, my officemate R was running as well. I've been playing fake coach and real cheerleader to R over the last 6 weeks. This was her second attempt at the 5K distance. She ran the whole thing and smashed her goal of running in twice my time. In fact she ran sub-40 minutes. (We're gearing up now for the Jingle Bell Run 5K in 9 weeks.) To celebrate, we enjoyed a homemade brunch crepes, coffee, potatoes, fruit salad, banana bread and, yes, strata. The only thing we were missing was some post race photos.

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