Monday, September 24, 2012

Racing my way into shape

I am essentially cramming. It is not ideal and I know the limitations of this approach but it is what I need at this point.

After slacking off since Baystate 2010, and hardly racing at all in that time, I have strung together a minor build up of mileage over the summer and in September I have simultaneously turned up the intensity on workouts AND raced three times with plans for a fourth race in the month. The results of these races has not been my primary concern--getting out and really running hard has--but it has been tough at times to turn in results that are well below my expectations for myself, and made worse by the fact I am running them on tired legs that are still in shock from the increase in training intensity. All three races have been on courses I have run multiple times, by design so that I could also get some sense of where my fitness is.

The races so far:
Street Faire 5k --17:49 for 4th. This is not a fast course (it starts up hill for the first 2/3 mile) but I have run 17:18 here when I was in good shape and it runs through my neighborhood so I basically have no excuse not to run it. I ran fairly even splits but just had no pop in my legs. My main goal was to make sure I was back under 18 minutes so mission accomplished, I guess.

Lone Gull 10k -- 37:35 for 7th. Blech. Close to if not a personal worst. This IS a fast course but I was in no condition to take advantage of it. I did two big LT workouts during the week after the 5k the Sunday prior, so my legs were just barely hanging on. I ran okay through 5 miles--I was on sub 6 pace to that point--but then the week caught up to me and I kind of imploded. I was running hard the whole time and never gave in, but the 6th mile was about a 6:30 and I was about done. It was my third really quality workout of the week, though and capped my first 70 mile week in ages (maybe since 2010?) so no complaints. This was a very different experience from the last time I ran this race in 2009 when it was part of the Grand Prix. That day I ran 35:59 but came in 79th. This time, a minute and a half slower was good for 7th and I was alone for most of it. It's still a great race on an absolutely beautiful course in Gloucester.

Wilmington Half Marathon -- 1:21:08 for 8th. Also a fast course and one that I have run a few times when in good shape (including having won it in 2010.) I came into this race feeling much better than the two previous weeks. I am starting to adjust to the training load and I unintentionally skipped my big Thursday workout due to meetings at my daughter's school so I was well rested by comparison. I had hoped to be around 1:22 so was pleasantly surprised to be clicking off miles in the 6:10-6:15 range (after the first mile which is probably short) with relative ease. I went through 6 miles in 37:05, which means I ran remarkably even splits, and felt good almost the whole way. The weather didn't hurt as it was a spectacular early fall day. This was faster than I ran on the same course in 2008 (1:21:29) when I was arguably in the best shape of my life though not nearly as fast as when I won it in 2010 (1:19:12). At least I am within the range of previous results instead of in personal worst territory, so that's good. And there's really no better workout in the world than a hard run half marathon.

The plan right now is to try and close out September with the Paddy's 5k on Sunday the 30th and then move on to October where the results will start to matter to me a little more.  Onward.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Training through

He came home to an almost empty house (he could hear the faint sound of music from his teenage daughter's room upstairs) and immediately set to work making an egg sandwich. He ate it with some re-heated coffee and fruit juice. Then he sat at the laptop and entered his warm up and cool down mileage, then his race--such as it was--into his running log.

Alas. He gave himself the requisite pep talk about trusting the process then looked at the time. He had 90 minutes before he needed to be at the field to coach micro soccer. 

"Fuck it," he said to the empty room.

Then, if for no other reason than to declare emphatically that he was, in fact, training through, he changed his t-shirt, put on his trainers and headed out the door for another 5 mile recovery run. "Besides," he thought, "those runs when you're bonking and having protein sweats from the first step are the ones in which the money gets made." 

He wasn't entirely sure it was a great idea and his knees and ankles protested for a mile or so. But despite the light headedness and sweating the run served its exact purpose--he felt much better when he finished, than he had when he started.