Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Love the Track

I'm going to try to begin maintaining this blog more regularly. It's relaxing for me. It forces me to think about things I enjoy. Lately, I've only been thinking about heavy stuff, and it's wearing me down to a nub. I love running, and I love it more with almost every run. So I need to spend some time thinking and talking about it to refresh my mind.

Before a month ago, I had never run 200 meter repeats. That first attempt nearly killed me! It was much harder than I expected. Twenty 200m repeats. How hard could that be? Pretty hard! I ran most of them at 37 or 38, which is quick for me.

Today, I was back at the 200m repeats. I did 24 this time. Wow! It felt great! Okay, it hurt and I was tired and grimacing, but it hurt good! My plan was to do 20. I was going to do 2 sets of 10 with an easy mile in between the two sets. But I was feeling good, so I didn't take a break. And I was feeling good after 20, so I did 24! I kinda liked it. Running fast is fun. I ran mostly 37 and 38 seconds. I got lazy and ran two 40s and a few 39s. But I did have a 33 and a 35 after the 40s to punish myself for being lazy!

My mileage is down this summer to 45-50 miles per week. However, I'm not missing my quality workouts. Almost every week since Boston has included track work and a tempo workout. I've also added some races as faster tempo workouts, getting two tempos in several of those weeks.  I'll probably start adding a few miles at a time through July to get a solid base for a late fall marathon.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Helen Keller 5 mile

Perhaps I should update this blog. I really have had good intentions, I just haven't gotten the updates done. Maybe today starts a trend toward more regular updates. Long time readers will remember that I've mentioned some personal struggles. Well I thought I saw light at the end of the tunnel. But, a good friend told me that it wasn't light I was seeing; it was only my eyes adjusting to the darkness. So true!

Anyway... Helen Keller 5 Mile...
I ran 32:55 (with an extra 0.14) which was good enough for 6th overall and 1st in the 35-39 age group. This just isn't an easy course. It's a far drive from Athens, too. But it's part of a series of events in Tuscumbia, AL, the birthplace of Helen Keller. It's really a nice way to make a day out with the family. There's a car show, a foot race, some kind of arts and crafts show, live bands during the day, and an excellent play The Miracle Worker in the evening.

Enough... How about the race?

This was a last minute show up and run type of event for me. Apparently it was for everyone else, too. The race day registration line was LONG! I wondered if I would get registered in time. I did, barely. I had just enough time to hit the port-a-potty and run a mere 1 mile warmup. YUCK! I wasn't ready for the start, but I had to go when the Race Director said "Go!"

The First Mile
This race starts on a flat section just north of the courthouse. Then, it slopes drastically down to spring park. I started just a bit too fast, but I was surprised by how many were ahead of me. When we hit the downhill, people kept passing. I was in like 20th place. Oh well. The race turns out of Spring Park and goes up the hill we just descended. It's a TOUGH uphill for the first mile! I passed back a few runners here, but I wasn't sure how many and I didn't know how many were ahead. I really wish I had kept track of this. I hit the first mile in 6:25. That wasn't bad given the uphill.

Mile 2
I have no idea what happened here. I just got lazy at the top of the hill and ran a 6:40 second mile. Nobody passed me, and I passed about 2 runners. But still, why was I running so slowly? Why did I just give back 15 seconds? Why did I hit this at 13:05? It gains about 50 feet, but I simply didn't focus. Ashamed. I took water and ran through a hose at the aid station here. It was starting to get warm!

Mile 3
I had a group ahead of me that I wanted to catch. I think they ran about a 6:05 first mile, but I could tell that they were slowing. So, I just kept working and working making sure that the distance was getting less all the while. This is a rolling mile, but doesn't really net that much. 6:28. That's a little better, but I'm not making up that ground that I gave up in mile 2. Just focus on the group ahead and close the distance. One runner fell out of that group, and I blew past him.

Mile 4
This is the good and the bad. That group? Well, another runner fell off the pace and I caught and passed him, but he didn't want to let me go and stayed on my shoulder. I was determined to catch the group ahead. I closed almost all of the distance. There were only 3 runners, and they were less than 5 seconds ahead of us.

Ugh. Why do I do stupid things when I know better? Why do I follow a crowd? I saw green arrows on the street pointing left. The race had been marked with both green and orange, and there was no sentry. Also, Heath White was just ahead of the group I was trying to catch, and he's a Shoals runner. He knows the course, right? He went straight. The group went straight. I said, "Hey guys, I think we should turn!" One guy said, "Heath went straight, that's the right way!" I followed. Ugh. That was an unwise move. I glanced at my watch and noticed the distance was 3.97. I looked over my shoulder, and I caught a glimpse of the 4 mile marker about a block from where we should have turned. I said to the guy on my shoulder, "We've got to turn around! They're going the wrong way!" So, we turned around and went back. He stayed ahead of me because he turned first! I crossed the 4 mile marker at 4.14 on my Garmin. I was MAD!

There were two people working the 4 mile split. I slowed down and told one of them to go to the intersection and that several had gone the wrong way. One said that she would take care of it and was walking that direction. I heard from later finishers that there was still nobody working that turn. Ugh. Race directors, please put sentries on your turns! I've never missed a turn before this year, and I've missed two this year! I suppose I should take the responsibility myself since it has happened twice now.

Well, I auto-lapped at 4 miles even and it was 6:30. Still a disappointing split. Mile 4 is very much a rolling mile.

The Finish
The guy I was running with said, "Weren't you in front of me when we made the wrong turn?" I said, "Don't worry about it, man. If you can take me from here, you should do it." I didn't want to move too early, but I didn't want him to think he could just hang on and out kick me, either. So I moved past him. As we went on, I saw the others who had gone straight joining back up with the course. WE WERE AHEAD OF THEM! Cool! They seemed to be upset that we had passed, but we had been angry and running faster!

Here, Stacey LeMay separated from the group and stayed on my shoulder. He should have known the course and not gone astray. He's a Shoals runner! I asked him if they had run extra. He said that they had a little, but wasn't sure how much. Stacey is known for sprinting at the end and passing, so I dropped the pace with about 0.6 miles to go to get enough separation to weather his kick. I ran the last 1.14 mile in 6:17 and :37.

What I didn't account for was two teenagers or twenty something sprinting at the end. Ugh. Remember that I thought I was in about 12th place? It just wasn't worth going with them for the difference between 12th and 15th place. BUT... This race was for 3rd place! I JUST MISSED a podium finish. Ugh. Disappointing. I had no idea. So... if I hadn't run an extra 0.14 miles, I would have gotten a spot on the podium. If I could have sucked it up at the end, I would have gotten a podium finish. ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!

The good news? The guy who did get 3rd place? He puked. That's what he gets. I hope it tasted bad. Really, I'm just kidding here. We spoke and he was a nice guy and we joked about it. He ran hard and deserved to finish ahead of me.

Overall, I didn't give race effort today, but still won my age group. I'm very much enjoying this twice per month race schedule I'm on. It was a good day and a very good 5 mile tempo workout with 11 miles total. I hope this more laid back approach to racing doesn't soften me up, but I'm liking it so far.