Monday, December 5, 2011
Spring 2012 Racing Thoughts
I have most of my races set in stone for 2012...but there are a few I am still on the fence about and I will need to make some decisions at some point...
After looking at what made 2011 such a success, part of that success was good planning on the right races. In 2011, I jumped back into some track races, and in addition to PRing, it translated well to my longer distance races. They were also competitive, as I had several college guys to race against. This I need to continue to do. I need to continue to get on the track.
The track is an area where I have a lot of room for improvement, and I need to continue to work hard at getting my times down, because it has helped my half marathon time improve immensely. I do think it is also why the full marathon is not my strongest performance yet, because I am working on certain systems that my body needs to develop this point in time in order for me to become a better marathoner as I mature. My goal long term development is towards the marathon but all of these shorter races and building blocks are part of a bigger whole.
If I want to improve to, let's say, 1:06/sub 1:07 in the half marathon this coming march, I need to get my 5000m time down to the 14's. My PR from 2011 was 15:13 last May, and I am confident that I can run high 14's this indoor track season...and perhaps faster later on in the year. I have decided my first race of 2012 will be the UMD Indoor Invite 5000m on January 21, in the PG Sports Complex. It's the same opening race I did last year(last year I finished in 15:26, 10th place). This race will also be a small way for me to contribute to MD's track and field program, as unfortunately there has been a proposal to cut men's track and field and cross country. Danielle, the assistant MD track coach and one of my roomates, generously waved the fee for me last year, but I will be happy to pay it this year to help support the program. MD has had some great runners and it is a shame for all of the athletes and coaches on that team to have to go through this.
In addition to the UMD invite, there is another 5000m indoor track race I am thinking about doing, which is at the former college I ran for, Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech Elite Meet is held 2 weeks after UMD, on February 4th. The track is banked, and awesome to run on. I am still on the fence about doing it though. The important thing these 2 meets can do is to develop my speed for the big race in march: The Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon on March 18 in Va Beach. I also need to make sure I do not overdo the indoor racing before Shamrock, because my goal is to develop my speed only as much as I need to in order for me to run as well as I can in the longer distances. What might happen is I may shoot for a PR at MD, and then run the VT race more of as a tune-up/workout, and take that weekend in Blacksburg to get in a solid long training long run at the pandapas pond trails. Blacksburg is an awesome area to train, with hills pretty much everywhere, and trails that go for miles...and I miss training out there.
After Shamrock, there is the top-notch best DC race of the year...CHERRY BLOSSOM 10 MILER on April 1. This is the area's best spring race and it is so well organized. I think runners around here can easily forget to recognize what a great job DC does until they race in the hot chocolate 15k(which is done by a company NOT from DC!). They do a terrific job putting on Cherry Blossom(and though mile 4 was on the wrong side of the road last year-I'm sure they will make sure it is correct this year). Cherry Blossom is certainly a clash of the area's best runners and you get world class runners as well to make it insanely competitive and fast(I was 32nd last year). It will be 2 weeks after Shamrock so I will not have more training time between then/barely enough resting time, but hopefully if my training goes well I will be prepared to attack the 10M distance and rest enough between races to do it. I did it last year.
After Cherry Blossom I will be able to get some more training in before the latter part of April. I will also dive back into shorter races again(10k on down to the 5k). There are a few really competitive track races in April. One is the Larry Ellis Invitational 5000m at Princeton University on April 20-21. But there are also 2 big races the following weekend(and again I need to make sure I don't overrace!). One is the Pikes Peek 10K on April 29(a PR course and one of the most competitive 10Ks around)-and I run well on that course...I ran my PR there the last 2 years and last spring ran 31:26. BUT...there is another racing opportunity that weekend for me...and that is to run in the Penn Relays(April 26-28) in the Olympic Development 5,000m or 10,000m on the track. That would be a really great experience for me and just plain...awesome. Between all of these awesome races it will be a very hard decision to make...I can't do them all. I guess I'll have to see where my 5000m time is at after these indoor races and choose what to do in April based on my progression. These spring track races are highly competitive races to enter. And again, I need to be a 14's guy to be somewhat competitive.
May is easy-will be a repeat of last year, I will do the Swarthmore College Outdoor Track Invitational in PA on May 14, where I'll run the 5000m again. Set my PR of 15:13 there last year. A fun meet and last year I rode with a bunch of Georgetown guys in a van we took up there. It was a blast.
Last year the Swarthmore Track race ended my Spring season. This year, I will extend it to June. Duluth, Minnesota is hosting the USA Half Marathon Championships on June 16. I realized that my half marathon time from Philly this past Sept has qualified me to get an entry and also get free lodging. If I progress to sub 1:07 in March, I will also get most of my plane ticket paid for as well. But that aside, I want to run this race because it is a good race for me to run this point in time. The competition should be strong and it will give me a great chance to compete in a strong field of top U.S. runners.
The year looks exciting. I am beginning a new chapter of running in my life and am on a new level, ready to make some strong statements this spring. I think the latter part of 2011, and especially my philadelphia half was a small preview of what 2012 will bring. This year will also mark the first step of beginning 4 hard working dedicated years of training towards my bigger goals, which is qualifying for the 2016 trials...and beyond.
And of course, I appreciate any tips/suggestions/comments on racing ideas!