Saturday, July 30, 2011

18 Miles Is Far

I've had a couple of good weeks in a row now. I'm expecting that I'm turning the corner and getting past some things that have been hindering my running. Also, cooler weather can't be too far around the corner, can it? And, I took a look at the calendar yesterday... If I'm going to run a fall marathon, I have to start getting in marathon shape!

This summer has been admittedly a struggle. I've had some lingering personal issues that I just haven't been able to shake. Those have ZAPPED my motivation. I've been substituting 12-13 mile runs for long runs. While those are okay, they are no substitute for 18-22 milers. My weekly mileage has been in the 45-50 mile range. While that isn't terrible, it's not where I need to be if I want to run a 3 hour marathon.

One positive thing about this summer so far... I have been doing most of my quality runs. I've done tempo and track work and several races as additional tempo runs for the week. I'm probably in as good of 5k shape as I've ever been in (not the best I could be, but as good as I've ever been in). I don't think I could have dropped a sub 19 at this time last year. I think I have a very good chance to break 18 minutes this fall.

So, today, I decided I'd just run far. I planned for 15, then to just see what happened after that. Well, I was feeling pretty good at 13, so I thought I'd try for 16. Late in a run, my math gets pretty bad, so as I was trying to figure out where to run to get 3 miles before I got home, I got all mixed up and ended up running 18 miles. 18 is a lot farther than 12. But, I needed a good, long run. I was exhausted, but it was a good exhausted. I'm glad I did it, and I need to keep doing that.

It's time to get ready to run a marathon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Paint the Streets 5k

I had no idea what to expect today. I haven't raced a 5k since October. My fitness has been on again off again. And it is hot!! I had two terrible weeks of training leading up to this. I've just been discouraged. I'll probably post on that later. But last week I had 10 miles for the week. Yep. 10 miles. This week I had 40, so that's a little better. I have to get better and more consistent. Anyway... the race today.

The numbers... 18:58 which was good enough for 8th (of 433) overall and 1st (of 27) in the 35-39 age group. It wasn't a PR, but it was a reasonable performance for July. I'll call it a July PR.

The Start
This event was very well organized and very well supported. It reached the limit of 500 runners and had to turn some away. It has grown since the inaugural event last year. There were so many co-workers from ADTRAN there and I know that several ran their first 5k today. Nice!

I need to get up earlier. I just didn't quite have enough time to get warmed up like I wanted. I got 2.25 miles and just a couple of strides. It had to be enough. After some nice welcome announcements, we were on our way at about 7:04 AM. The early start helped with the heat.

I really had no idea what I had in the tank today. I probably had more than I gave, but I always think that afterwards. But at no time during this race did I feel absolutely horrible, so I didn't run hard enough. I started at about a 6 minute pace and backed only slightly off of that the rest of the way. There were so many who went out WAY too fast today, but the roads were wide so it wasn't a problem.

The first mile is slightly downhill, the very slight breeze was in our face, and the sun was at our backs. So, there was really no excuse for running this mile in 6:04. But, I honestly had no idea what my splits were at any time during the race. I barely looked at my watch and I just didn't know was running. I was going by how it felt. And, the first mile actually surprised me a little. I glanced at my watch and saw 1.11, so I missed it. I had to look at the data post-race to know the split. There was no split caller. That is something this race needs to add. Before the mile marker, we had pretty much settled into our places.

Mile 2
Mile 2 starts back up the slight incline that we descended in the first mile. The small breeze was at our backs, but probably not as fast as I was running. The air was barely moving! And the sun was in our faces. It was a hot second mile. I don't know why I ran it in 6:05 if I could only run the first one in 6:04. I caught and passed one guy before the mile marker, but I didn't know him.

Mile 3
The third mile is just plain flat. Again, the sun was in our face and there was no breeze. I had two guys in my sights. One I passed at about 2.5 miles. The other was Dink Taylor, and I just couldn't gain any ground on him. Really, the passing I did was by just running a steady pace. I didn't speed up. In fact, mile 3 was slower than I wanted and slower than it should have been at 6:11.

The Finish
Near the finish, I heard footsteps. I thought it may have been the guy I passed in the third mile. It was not. I later learned that this was fellow Athenian Ben Greene. It was a realization that I'm still not very competitive with others in running. I didn't really care to chase him down. He could have the next place. But when I saw the clock, that's when I poured it on! I saw 18:49... Can I make it sub-19? That's when I just turned on the jets, and almost caught Ben. But really, I didn't notice how close I was to him because I was just thinking sub-19. I even let up a little when I saw that I was going to make it. I nearly caught Ben and didn't realize it until I looked at the results and saw that we had the same finish time!

Maybe one day, I'll learn to compete with fellow runners. For now, running is purely me against myself and the clock.

Nice race. I'm pleased with sub-19 on a very hot day. It was tons of fun. I had a great time just hanging out with friends and running fast. I ran the course a couple more times for 11 miles total.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another Summer Week in the Books

It's a typical Alabama summer: hot, humid, and afternoon thunderstorms. I've been moving some runs to the lunch time and afternoon, hoping that my body will make some adaptations to the heat that will result in faster race times in the morning races. Also, I'm hoping that it will result in some really fast times when the temps cool off. We'll see. I'm hopeful and I'm hanging in there.

HTC Weekly XC Runs
On the 4th, I really tried not to overdo the food. I ate some bad stuff, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. I still had a bit of a food hangover on Tuesday when I ran the HTC Cross Country race at the John Hunt running park. It was especially humid. Yuck.

I was undecided about how to approach these. My stomach wasn't right, so I decided not to race and just do a 3 mile and a 2 mile tempo run. For the 3 mile, I tucked in behind Dewayne Satterfield and kept him in sight for most of the run. I had no intentions of passing him, but I also didn't want to let him get a way. He was a pretty good pacer for that 6:40-ish pace. I ran 20:08 or so.

For the 2 mile, I was feeling horrible and ready to just mail it in. I was going to run 8:00 to 8:30 miles. But then I got caught up with Jon Elmore and Timothy Pitt. I decided to just hang on to these guys and see what happened. We were running just under a 7:00 pace. Maybe 6:50 or so. Good enough. I felt like I could hold that, so I did. At the end, I could tell that they were going to make a race of it, so I joined in and out-kicked them down the final stretch to the finish line. It was fun. Maybe those 200m repeats are paying off!

Thursday Track
Thursday's track session was miserable. I planned 5x 1200m intervals. I could not do it. I could only do 4, and the 4th one nearly killed me. I ran 4:24, 4:26, 4:30 and 4:35. I knew that it wasn't my day and it was best to just mail it in and not even attempt the 5th. So, I added a couple extra easy miles to the cool down run. It was just a miserable workout, but I believe I accomplished some good. I got some positive stimulus without destroying my confidence.

Saturday Long
Today was a ho-hum 16 miler. I just wanted to get the miles done in the heat without coming apart. Mission accomplished. It wasn't pleasant. I have a lot of base to recover before marathon training begins. But I am surviving the summer without weight gain and without significant speed loss.

It's weird. I had a week where that I didn't feel good on any single run. But I still consider it a good week for some reason. Oh well, maybe I'm delusional. Definitely I'm delusional. I've always thought I'm faster and fitter than I really am.