Saturday, March 23, 2013

Return To Racing: 1:08:51, 10th

After the Philadelphia Marathon last November, I was tired and a bit beat up.  I had gone 2 years straight of racing, and never had more than 2 months time in between races, with Philly being the end of that streak.  I felt I needed to start over, finally, and not just keep jumping into more post season 10K races following marathons like I had done previously.  The body, after all, gets stronger through not only training, but rest.  However, my immune system was also shot.  I got the flu in December, and also got a nasty stomach virus through the first week of January.  But I gradually built up my aerobic base again, and by the end of January and throughout February I was getting in good workouts.

From the month of January through all of February, I averaged 90 miles per week.  
The pool running once a week also has helped me build a strong base.   For the past 4 weeks, I dropped the mileage down to between 52-60 miles/week.  Still, with a solid base and workouts improving, I was unsure where my fitness was.  This is where the Shamrock Half Marathon filled that void.  As I looked at my yearly plan, I did not want to race earlier than March this year.  I thought about racing an indoor track 3k in January, but decided against it because I was simply not ready to race again yet.  I wanted to give myself time to just train and forget racing for a while.  I needed 4 solid months of no racing, and just training. So I decided the Shamrock Half would be the right race to start the year off.  My goal was to run strong(maybe PR), and get out there and compete well.  It was difficult to figure out what kind of shape I was in going into the race, but I figured realistically I would be close to my PR of 1:08:39, maybe even sub 1:08:00.  But I certainly didn't look at this race as my "peak" race of the season or year.  I am simply just starting to get things going...

The race started off 15 min late which sucked.  I don't mind when a race is delayed by a few minutes, but 15 minutes is too long.  It was cold and windy, and I had to desperately jog around a little bit more to keep my muscles warm and to prevent from cramping.  If I just stood there for too long, then going out at 5:00 pace from the gun would surely cramp me up!  I also put on some dude's sweatshirt that was lying on the ground.  It happened to be an XXL, which made me practically covered past the knees.  It kept me warm, though, as I jogged/shuffled around.  FINALLY, we got around to starting, and I threw off the gigantic sweatshirt.  The starter finally got us into position and we were off.

I hung tightly in a pack of 6-8 men and settled into a nice rhythm.  I don't remember many splits(and actually the first mile was way off anyway and I stopped paying attention and just ran).  I hate it when mile markers are off, but I honestly didn't care much about the clock.  I just wanted to compete and race, and try to earn a top 10 finish.  The highest I had ever placed in this race previously was 15th.  I went through the 5 mile mark in 25:56(according to results), which is 5:11 pace.  The pack broke down to 4 people shortly after that.  We had 5 people ahead of us, so I knew I could place anywhere between 6th and 9th.  Fort Story was a bitch.  While the temperatures were ideal for racing a half marathon or marathon, the wind was strong.  It blew against me and I stupidly led into it, doing a lot of the work for the pack of 4 men on my tail.  I actually was trying to lose them at this point(around mile 8 or 9).  My strength is pressing hard to make people hurt in the middle of races, and then hold or lengthen the gap to the very end.  But I could not break the other men.  As we neared mile 10(52:00 something split), our pack began to break up, with me trailing the other 3 men ahead.  Little did I know, that the guy in front of me, Brandon Cherry, was from DC.  He was currently in the top position out of MD/DC/VA.  I kept him in sight however and tried to key off of him.  I felt like I started to reel him in around mile 12, but couldn't gain any more after that.  I just wasn't quite sharp enough yet.  We approached the turn onto the boardwalk, and damn it was windy!  Then, Scott Mindel(from Connecticut) passed me with a pretty strong surge I was not able to match.  Goddammit I hate being outkicked!  I gave him a short fight but he outdid me by 5 seconds.  I ran strong through the finish however, and finished in 10th place in 1:08:51, a solid 5:15 pace.

I am feeling good about this race.  It was my first race back, and I feel like I got my feet wet again and competed well to earn the 10th spot.  The fine tuning wasn't there, but I was able to run a strong time in not the best of conditions.  This is only the second time I have run 1:08 for the half marathon.  I have more later this year that I am excited about.  But, the race I am really excited about now is Cherry Blossom.  I feel like the goal of this race was to get used to "the hurt" again, and my fitness is only getting better from here.  I actually recovered quite well and did a long cooldown (while cheering on other runners as well), to get in close to 20 miles for the day!  Travis ran a superb race(he ran the marathon), taking 15 minutes off his previous marathon PR, finishing in 3:00:56, and qualifying for Boston.  He's got a lot of potential and is only 26 years young.  I am excited to continue coaching him!

This week has gone well.  I kept my midweek runs short, and my mileage will only be in the 50s, but I got in a nice easy 16 mile long run on Saturday with Matt, running in DC and enjoying very pleasant weather.  

On Wednesday I had a really nice speedworkout: 

8 X 600 meters with a few min rest/jog recoveries: 1:48, 1:46, 1:45, 1:43, 1:42, 1:42, 1:42, 1:41.
This workout was an awesome 5K workout as well as turnover.  It totaled 3 miles of speedwork.  It really didn't feel that hard on my aerobic system, but more just focusing on getting POWER in my stride.  By the time I got to the 1:42s, I was running 14:10 5K pace!

I have high goals for Cherry Blossom, 4.07.13.


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