Sunday, April 24, 2011

How I Earned My Cadbury Eggs

I have been looking forward to the local spring 10 mile race for some time. I have always really liked the course and I feel like I'm ready to start taking down my old pr's. My 10 mile pr, at 1:05:21 was definitely one of my best pr's so I knew it wouldn't be easy. G said he wanted me to run 1:05:30 (6:33) or better. I felt confident I could do that.

The weather here has been crazy. It was cold, rainy and windy all week. The night before the race there was a crazy wild thunderstorm and poof, by morning it was a balmy 60 degrees. It was still windy, but the rain and cold were gone. I'll take it!

I met up with my friend and fellow G-trainee, CV for a warm-up. We got in 1.5 plus bathroom breaks before hitting the starting line for strides. I did 4 100ish meter strides and hit the line. G came to see us and gave us a little pep talk, which basically amounted to relax and don't be wusses.

The gun went off and so did we. The start is downhill so we were flying a little too fast. I wasn't watching pace at that point and CV told me what it was, but I only heard 41, so I thought we were going too slow. Oops. She meant 5:41! I backed off a bit once I realized that and CV got a bit ahead of me. A guy that was running near me said, "Don't worry. It's 10 miles. There's a lot of time." Ha! I don't think he realized we were friends and training partners! I saw her pass the mile in 6:07 and I passed at 6:13. Oops. When I passed the mile marker I heard a dude behind me yell, "Good job, Salty. Now settle in!" I still have no idea who that was! But thanks, dude :)

The next mile was a little slow: 6:32. I was reeling in CV though and by 2.5 I had caught her. As I was just about to catch her, the guy who told me not to worry said, "See!" Ha! He cracked me up. I guess he had his money on me that morning. She stayed with me for about .5 miles, but then she fell back. My mile 3 was 6:24. Mile 4 was really windy. Maybe it was because I no longer had CV to focus on to keep my mind off of it, but it was really bugging me. I drafted off of a couple of dudes when they were around, but mostly I just tried to not fight too hard and just roll with it. I was still doing pretty well with the pace: another 6:32.

Right around mile 4 is a turn around. I love races where I get to run back and see all the people behind me. Sure, it feels good to see so many people behind me! But it is also nice to look for friends and just generally have more people around to keep me company. I so often end up racing alone and this race was no different. Since I was the first woman at this point, I was getting crazy mad love from the other runners. I had a perma-smile on my face for this mile and a half. I slapped friend's hands and was so happy to see so many others. It was just great. Mile 5 was 6:30.

Once the crowds dissipated and I was back on my own, I was really alone as there was a pack about 10 seconds ahead of me and no one else around. Even the spectators kept telling me I had NOBODY behind me! To make matters worse the sun was out and with the wind mostly out of my face it was HOT. I started to struggle a bit to stay focused and committed. I thought it might help to switch screens on my Garmin and work off of the pace settings, but I think it made me more depressed as I was struggling to run in the 6:40's. Before the race I had a solid plan for the first 4 and then a plan for the last 2, but I didn't really make a solid plan for miles 5-8. These were the hardest miles and without a mantra or an idea of how to get through them I slacked off a bit and started to feel discouraged. Miles 6-8 were 6:46, 6:48 and 6:42. UGLY!

But my plan was to do a gut check at mile 8 and if I could go faster to do so. I made a turn and saw I was gaining on that pack and went to work. I switched my Garmin display back to time and off the pace setting so I could just ignore the watch (which was depressingly informing me I was now off pr pace) and to just go. I passed one guy and then a couple of others and then some more. I passed mile 9 in 6:14! Woo!

And then at mile 9 the plan was to do another gut check and to decide how much I had left and to let it all out. LEAVE NOTHING ON THAT COURSE! So, I decided I could go even faster and started to hammer. I was FLYING! I felt amazing. There is a long windy downhill as the course meanders down a bike path to a park where the finish is. I seized that downhill and blew past a few more guys. As I came to the bottom I saw G who was encouraging me to let it all out. I was still feeling great and then I turned to go on the last loop around the park and that lakefront wind just socked it to me. I kept pushing though. It sucked, but I pushed as hard as I could through it. I pushed all the way to the finish passing dude after dude and finally I saw the clock and new I had that pr. 34 seconds baby! I rolled in with a 1:04:47.00 and the win!

I checked the split and I ran the last mile in 5:59! I am so proud of that, especially with the insane wind. I realized that I actually had a lot left those last 2 miles and I'll remember that when I hit a rough patch in my next race. I definitely need a game plan for running alone during those late middle miles when it's too early to push the pace, but too early to give up!

Anyway, this pr makes me really happy. As I said, my 10 mile pr was one of my stronger ones. This pr takes me to a new level when I look at the predicted equivalent performances at other distances: if the predictors are right, I am in shape to pr at every distance!

So with a pr, I kicked off a great weekend. It was #2's first Easter and the first time peanut really got the whole concept of a holiday. He has been telling the Easter bunny decoration on our kitchen window what he'd like him to bring in his Easter basket for a month now. When peanut wanted to throw his veggies on the floor, we would point to the Easter bunny and explain that he doesn't bring goodies to little boys who don't eat their vegetables! I am going to miss that bunny in the window!

Yesterday, peanut was so excited to come downstairs and see the Easter bunny brought him the "enginths" (Thomas the Train engines) he's been asking for. I guess eating all those vegetables was well worth the trouble, eh, peanut?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Racing with the Heart

I've been thinking more about myself as a trainer versus myself as a racer. To me, there is something beautiful about putting up a solidly consistent training cycle. I like to look back at my log and see workout after workout achieved. I think I'm realizing that at least until now I have enjoyed that training process way more than racing.

It's so easy to get lost on the path, to revel in each everyday accomplishment.

"Woot! I just ran six 800's at THAT pace!"

"What a blazing tempo!"

"I finished my long run how fast?!"

But when it comes time to race I don't get that sense of self-satisfaction. I feel like the world is watching me and no matter what I do I feel like it should have been better. I feel judged. It's weird, because who the heck cares what I do?! Yet, I don't carry that joy of accomplishment to the race course. I focus on the external stuff and not what I enjoy.

The fact is, if I didn't like running hard and fast I wouldn't be doing this. I love it, in fact. I love whipping around the track. I love those tingly post-workout legs. I love the logs they become after taking a post-workout nap. I love the high after effortlessly exceeding my workout goals. It's time I brought this joy on the race course.

So on Saturday I am not racing to prove how fast I am to anyone else. My goal for the 10 mile race is to run fast because I love to run my heart out.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ghost from my Running Past

Woo! Another good week in the books! I am really enjoying Coach G's program. I only have two truly easy days and in theory it sounds crazy to have 5 medium to hard days a week, but it's really a whole lot more fun than the other way around. The real counter-intuitive kicker is that I've never ever felt better.

I am a little (probably irrationally) worried that I am going to turn into myself as a high school runner. I loved running, but raced every workout and always beat my teammates on intervals. Then when it came to races they creamed me. I remember doing 20 400's on grass with 90 second send-offs and running each one under 90 seconds. Yet, I never broke 22 for a 5k. Sure, I know a heck of a lot more about running, what a training run should feel like, how to really race, etc. But I can't quite totally shake the fear that all this good training is just good training and it won't translate to the race times. I'm not doing this to get good at training runs. I'm doing this to race faster!

I know all I can do is race my best when the gun goes off and let it flow. I also realize that either one of my two key races coming up might not go as well as I hope, but I do know as I have said time and time again here that it's just a matter of time. I'm not in a rush.

Anyway, here's what I did last week for those interested :)

M: 6 @ 8:26 on TM

T: 9.5 with track. CRAZY windy! Super hard to pace.

W: 6 @ 8:25 on TM

R: 10 with tempo

F: 6 including strides outside for once! Averaged 8:01.

Sa: 12 @ 7:30 (1:29:56!) Ran with E-speed for 5 which was nice!

Su: 17.12 averaging 7:06 with CV. First 10 @ 7:19 and 6 @ 6:42 and then caught up with CV for one more with her @ 6:57 before trotting back to the car.

Track:

Goal: 400; 800; 1200; 1600; 1200; 800; 400 with half rest @ 6:06 pace more or less.

Actual:

89.25
(:37)
3:02.63
(83)
4:35.22
(2:11)
6:04.62
(2:58)
4:34.27
(2:10)
2:58.68
(1:27)
83.23

Tempo:

Goal: 2 x 3 @ 6:35; 6:35; 6:25 with .5 @ 7:00 in between

Actual:

6:36.26
6:37.03
6:22.56

.5 in 3:31

6:38.35
6:35.50
6:22.09

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Commitment

It was just any other training week. Tough track workout, 7 mile tempo, longish run yesterday and then today I had to race! I was pretty psyched up to get out there and see what I could do. I feel very good about my running these days and super confident my pr's are all going down really soon! Just not today.

My training partner CV and I lined up for our first race together since starting our training with Coach G. We decided to go out together and target 6:10 pace. We ran 6:06 and it felt pretty easy even with a stiff headwind. After the mile CV fell back a bit as I tried to maintain the pace. I was doing well until we came to a big ugly hill. I pushed up to the top, but that mile ended up being 6:23.

I managed a 6:13 for the next mile, but the fourth mile was hilly and full of turns and according to my Garmin was 6:22. The previous 3 miles markers were all right on with my Garmin, but for some reason mile 4 was way long and if I went by the race my 4th mile was close to 6:50 pace! Definitely not!

I came up to a corner and was excited to hammer home and go for a pr. I knew it would be close, but I felt like I could do it. I turned the corner and saw a sea of walkers--again! Just like the last race. Drat! I didn't sweat it too much. I just ran around them. I pushed and pushed and had to run up a driveway and onto the high school track. I had to do almost a full lap, but with a little less than 200 to go my watch beeped. And then as I came around the turn I saw the clock and decided it wasn't worth puking to run 31:4x. I still pushed, just nothing crazy and came in with an official 31:45. UGH.

I checked my Garmin and it showed I ran 5.10 and CV's showed hers was 5.09. My Garmin showed I ran 31:10 for 5 miles which would have been a 4 second pr. My fifth mile was 6:03 and my fastest, which always makes me happy. I know that might not have been accurate either, but it still stung a little bit. At the same time, I met my goal of going for it. I committed to that race even when all my time goals went out the window. I was the first woman (one of just a handful of wins for me, yeah!) and was even third overall. I know I am getting in the best shape ever and that I will be logging big pr's this year. Just you wait and see!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

No Fear

Over the last few weeks I have been training faster than I ever have before. In 2007, when I set most of my pr's I struggled to get through 6 miles 7:00 pace. Last Thursday, I ran 6 miles @ 6:28 pace and didn't struggle at all! Right before I set my 5 mile pr I ran 3 x 1600 @ 6:25-6:26 pace. Last week I ran 4 x 1600 @ 6:11; 6:15; 6:10; 6:06 and it felt like total cake. Also around that time in 2007 I ran a workout that was 6 x 800@ 3:10-3:11 pace. Yesterday I did 5 sets of 800's and 400's with just :30 seconds in between reps and 1:30 in between sets. All but one of the 800's were under 3:00 and that was with an insanely crazy swirling wind.

So, with this in mind I am tackling a 5 mile race on Sunday. If I could run 6:15 pace for 5 miles running those training paces, I KNOW I can run a substantial pr on Sunday. I am working hard not to be intimidated to run low 6's and maybe even a high 5:50 or two. I will not be afraid. I'm going for it! Can't wait!