Monday, April 16, 2012

Race Report: Point of Honor 5k

Not a lot to say about this race. It was my first 5k on roads since last year. I was nervous and I tried not to think about the race at all. Whenever I did think about the race I would get this overwhelming surge throughout my body, it felt like electricity pulsating through me. Nerves.

I ran a four mile easy warm-up. I lined up. When the gun sounded I took off. I ran as steady as I could, I raced somewhat well. I finished in 22:20 which is a 5k PR for me even if by only 3 seconds. I'll take it. I was also 3rd Female Overall which is the first time I've ever placed top 3 overall in a road race.

It was a good race, lots of great runners and volunteers out there and I was glad to be a part of it.

2012: Week 15

Monday: Ran 4 miles alone in Wyndhurst. Knee gave me some trouble, think shoes have seen better days. Biked 35 minutes on machine.
Tuesday: Knee ached all day, ice, ibuprofen. Ran an easy 6 in different shoes.
Wednesday: Trail run Montrail Rogue Racers having toe/foot pain cut run short at 8 miles though 12 planned.
Thursday: Rest. Bought new shoes.
Friday: 2 miles in new shoes, felt good.
Saturday: Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k in new shoes, felt pretty good. 8 miles.
Sunday: Promise Land training run. Got blisters with new shoes about 2 miles in, Todd tied my shoes really tight at two miles and I was able to finish the loop of about 16 miles. Bad blisters on little toe and side of big toe on my left foot. Other wise a good training run.

Miles ~ 44

Having some trouble finding shoes. I have been in a series of Brooks Defyance for the last year that I loved but when I tried the 5 I did not like them as I had liked the 3 and 4 series. I got a pair of Ghost 4 but still the jury is still out on them after getting blisters in them yesterday. Need to find a shoe I can run Promise Land in, less than two weeks from now!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Race Report: Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k (Todd)

AKA The most painful recovery run every.

For those of you just tuning in, I ran Terrapin Mountain 50K the Saturday before this race.  Sunday I tried to run a short easy recovery run and ended up crying like a baby and limping back to the car after 23 steps.  My quads were shredded.  Wednesday I managed an easy paced trail run, and I thought that my legs might be loose enough to pull off a 10K, so we set off to Richmond.

Saturday morning Alexis and I parked 2 miles away from the start line so we could "warm up" before the race started.  I swear that woman is obsessed with warming up.  During the warm up my left leg still felt a little sore, but it loosened up as we ran.  I was actually feeling pretty good when it was time to queue up in our waves.  I was one wave ahead of Alexis, which gave me a one minute head start.

I felt good but sluggish as I started out.  This was my third year running Monument Avenue, so I knew what to expect from the course, but I had never really raced it hard before.  Last year I was suffering from some sort of Achilles/Shin Splint issue, and the year before I was new to running.  But I'll tell you this:  flat does not mean easy.

At the half way point we make a U-turn and you can see the thousands of people behind you.  There was Alexis, maybe a little more than a minute behind me, and looking stronger than I felt.  By mile four my legs were screaming for me to just stop and sit down for a few more days, and my pace began to decline.  At this point I started looking around for her to be passing me at any minute.

The race actually ends with a little bit of a down hill which was somewhat of a saving grace.  I was able to manage to keep running the whole way, and pull out a PR with a finishing time of 45:35.

This is a great race for any runner looking to PR a 10K, but other than that I'm not overly impressed with the race itself.  Maybe it's hard to do too much with 34,000 runners, but I felt we were treated like cattle at the start and finish lines, with race workers actually yelling at runners to "keep moving" and "get out of the way". I'll take a good local race with 500 or less runners any day, where I can collapse in the shoot without fear of being scolded.

2012: Week 14

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Track/speed work, 6 miles
Wednesday: Trail run, loads of hills, 12 miles
Thursday:  Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 4 miles warm-up, 5k race, 3 mile cool down
Sunday: 10 miles of I am tired...

Miles~ 38

I decided when I was drawing up the weeks plan to make Wednesday a little longer of a run because with Easter and a race on the weekend I wasn't sure I would get a long run in. Glad I did because 12 ended up being the long run. Really need to focus on getting in those long runs as I head towards a 50k and marathon in the next three months. I don't feel as though I am on target for those races because my long runs are lacking in length.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Race Report: Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k (Alexis)

A.K.A. Now I Know Why the Hare Needs that Nap.

In January when all of my running friends were training for Holiday Lake 50k (or so it seemed) I decided to choose a goal race. I decided, having never really raced a road 10k, to focus on the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k in Richmond at the end of March. It was my first ever 10k in 2010 when Todd paced me to run it in 51:13, almost five minutes faster than I thought possible at the time. Last year I registered in the 48 minute wave, hoping to run it in sub 47 when I found out I was pregnant. Morning sickness overcame me in the weeks leading up to the race and laziness had me pouting on the couch instead of running but I still managed to run it in 53:01 last April.

This year I started out just wanting to run it in under 50 minutes. I had not raced in a road race yet this year and was not sure what kind of time to expect at the 10k distance. I ran a trail 10k in January in 54 minutes but I knew that I had improved and gotten stronger since then. This race on my calendar was the reason I started looking for a group to do speed work with each week. However, other than speed work I wasn't really doing anything to prepare me for this flat (by my standards) road race. A few weeks ago a fellow runner told me I should try out Tempo runs. I managed two tempo runs into my schedule over the last few weeks, the first run at an 8 minute pace and the second at a sub 8 for six miles. I began to think I could run Ukrop's even faster than anticipated, maybe even somewhere between 45:30-46:30.

So I concocted a plan, I would aim to run a sub 23:30 5k split, or as close to 7:30 as possible and then get progressively faster over the second 5k getting a negative split, hoping to work my overall pace down to 7:20 by the end of the race. That was my plan. Why I decided at the starting line to throw it out and just throw caution to the wind? I have NO idea. I've been asking myself what happened every half hour I've been awake since the race commenced.

I mean Felix warned against going out too fast minutes before the race started. I, myself, am always warning Todd about going out too fast. I NEVER go out too fast (Ok, there was that ONE time at the Bedford Christmas Classic 5k but even then I swore I would never do that again!). I am the Turtle. I pride myself on being the Turtle, slow and steady. And yet I'm standing there in my wave at the start line and my iPod won't work, I stuff the silly thing down my bra and begin to get so worked up about not having Cat Stevens and Conor Oberst to help me through any trials and tribulations that might arise during the run that my race plan apparently got buried. I mean they let my wave go and the next thing I know I'm running and passing people and thinking to myself, "This seems fast Self, too fast, what is this pace?" 

A quick glance at my watch to verify what I already know, I'm running faster than planned. I wasn't sprinting but I was keeping a 7:02 overall pace at this point. "That's too fast!!!" One side of my brain said to the other. "You can do this at this pace, just see how long you can keep this up, it doesn't feel that bad" said the other side in defense. So I trucked along, passing others and running hard for just about two miles when I started to get exhausted. Both sides of my brain tried to console me and told me just to slow and recover. And that's what I did, but it was mental anguish. I hadn't hit the halfway point and I was feeling as though I'd ruined my race with a rookie mistake. The thoughts that I'd ruined my race, that I was too cocky, that I knew better than to race this poorly overwhelmed me as I crossed over the 5k marker. I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to have a negative split and was wondering just how badly I had effected my race. I felt awful and slow as dozens of people flew by me looking stronger and smarter. It was possibly the worst race experience I've ever had, I wouldn't give myself a break and I just couldn't push any harder during miles three and four. At four miles I started wondering if I should just call it and walk. I ran my slowest mile here, but did slow for some Gatorade at an aid station. At the five mile marker I tried to convince myself that it was just over a mile and I began to pick the pace up, but just a little. I would run a little harder for a minute and then worry that I was going to pass out. At the last aid station I grabbed a cup of water and poured it on my head, it felt warm, You just poured that over your iPod, do you really have no sense left in you? I further berated myself. I wanted so badly to quit. I wanted so badly to start over. It's something terrible to be in something and know how badly you failed it and yet have to continue on or risk further failure.

And finally I knew we were coming in to the finish and I managed to run, according to my Garmin, the fastest quarter mile split of the entire race. And just like that the race was over. However, my mental torment was just beginning. Despite the knowledge of a PR I just couldn't get over the feeling that I'd not raced smart. I want to be fast and I am at somewhat of a loss as to really make that happen, and that is frustrating, and yet it is even more frustrating to know I could have run better if only I had run smarter.

I finished in 46:52 which I should be ecstatic about, I was originally hoping for anything sub 50. It isn't my time that I'm unhappy about but rather the fact that I took the time to devise a race plan and then go all Willy-nilly at the starting line.  I don't know how much faster I could have been if I'd started slower or even if I would have been any faster had I started more reserved, but I know that personally I do not like to slow down during a race unless I'm running up a hill. 

I downloaded the splits from my Garmin and I didn't race as poorly as I felt at the time, the first eight quarter mile splits were between 1:44-1:47, the next four miles were mostly 1:54-1:56 with a few 1:58, 2:00. 2:04 was the slowest when I slowed for Gatorade. The last quarter was 1:38. On a graph, it doesn't look so bad. If only I could get a reprieve from the voices in my head. I am my biggest critic.

At least my shoes didn't come untied.


Monday, April 2, 2012

2012: Week 13

Monday: 5.6 running the Point of Honor race course with Brodie in the stroller.
Tuesday: Track session sort of cancelled due to lack of access to a track, ran with the group and then got in some stairs and hill repeats at Wyndhurst, 6 miles.
Wednesday: Trail run, good amount of climbs, felt good and strong. 10 miles.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Ukrops' 10k in Richmond, 8 miles.
Sunday: Rest

Miles~ 29.6

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Terrapin 50K

This was possibly the hardest race I've ever run.  The course seems to somehow defy the laws of physics, even though you start and finish at the same location, it feels like you climb for 80 percent of the time.  The downhills are steep and technical, while the uphills are long, drawn-out grueling battles.  I doubt that there is more than 2 miles of flat running in the entire race.

I set my goal for this race based on the accumulated wisdom of other Ultra runners who told me to add 30 - 40 minutes to my Holiday Lake 50K time, so I set out to finish in 6 hours.

At times I felt like I was running really well, but at other points during the day I felt like I was hiking way too much, and that the mountain had beaten me.  I was evidently not ready for this kind of a mountain race.

By the time I reached the last aid station at the bottom of Terrapin Lane, I was ready to just stop.  My legs didn't want to run another step.  But I grabbed some food, hiked a short uphill, and set out at a painful jog to meet my wife and friend who were supposed to be "running" in with me.

Through the next 5 miles of rolling hills I set my mind to the task of running in it's most basic form.  Focusing on picking one foot up after the other I battled through to the final downhill section to the finish.  That is where my "crew" met me.  I hurt too much to talk much, I told them to make me keep running.

I somehow managed to get down the last 2 miles of road and finish in 5:51.  Nine minutes faster than my goal, but much more painful than I had bargained for.  It was over a week before I could run again.  And I have Promise Land 50K++ to look forward to next month!