Mar 25, 2012

Race Report: NY 13.1 Half Marathon: 2:07:31 (PR)

From my GPS Log
This is a cool race!

I knew my Half-Marathon PR - 2:12:55 - was kind of soft. I didn't bother setting ABC goals for this but if I had, my "C" goal would be a PR. The course - flat and fast. The weather - perfect. The venue: Nice, if small for a half-marathon.

Since WorldVision had a big presence here, I unexpectedly ran into a bunch of old friends at this race from churches I've attended in the past. In fact, no fewer than three of my former pastors were there, including the pastor who married Alex and I! It was great to see them. And, of course, it was great to see my tri club friends whose participation is what prompted me to register. Best of all, everyone that I know about - did great.

The course is silly on paper, and it's silly on the GPS log - and.. I guess at mile 10 when I ran by the starting line for the third time, running it was kind of silly too. But it was all good. Given the venue, they couldn't have done much more. They managed to figure out a course without intersections, without cross-traffic, without closing any non-park roads, and without front-runners catching back-of-the-packers on repeat sections. There were a few overpasses, but those overpasses were literally the only hills on the course. And I am strong enough on the hills that I usually passed a bunch of people going up and over the bridges. So I have no complaints.

I secretly hoped I could get a 2:05 finish (that would have been my "A" goal) but I also wasn't going to kill myself one week before a 100-mile race. Really, I just wanted to test my ability to maintain a pace, and to harden up that half-marathon PR a bit.

My  plan was to go out with an aggressive pace for a half-marathon: 9:30 per mile. It's a pace that would have finish a 5K in about 29:30. I doubted that I'd be able to maintain that for the entire 13.1, but I wanted to know how long I could go at that pace. I also know the risk to reward ratio was low - if I crashed and burned too hard, it's only a half-marathon and I could always jog it in.

As it turns out, I maintained it for about 15K. At the 10K mark I caught up to Pastor James, who I hadn't seen in probably 5 years. We ran together for a few miles. As an aside, he was the only other 6'6" guy on the course that I saw - but much thinner than I. We must have looked funny running together. Anyway, by mile 7 I was starting to struggle a bit. Even though we didn't talk much, I found that merely having a companion helped me push an extra two or three miles before it just got too difficult to continue. It was in the tenth mile where I finally thanked him and said I'm going to back off a bit. Looking at my splits, we inadvertently ran a 9:15 in the ninth mile, and that may have pushed me over the edge.

At mile 10, I actually started walking at the water stop. Grabbed a couple of poweraids and a couple of waters and walked for about a minute just to get my composure back so I could finish out the last 5K strongly. A half mile later I was feeling a bit better, but not so good that I didn't repeat this at the mile 11 aid station (though the walk break was considerably less than a minute.) As you can see from the splits, I returned to a sub-10 minute pace in the thirteenth mile and had a good finish.

splits from GPS log

I was a bit alarmed by a little bit of pain in my right foot. It flared up in the last couple of miles. I've been training pretty hard lately, and I'm wondering if this last week before Umstead isn't coming at a perfect time. I ran 5 miles at 9:30 with the tri club early the next morning, but the rest of the week is all fake zeros until Umstead. Training is over, hay's in the barn, and there's nothing I can do at this point but rest up, hopefully heal up, and prepare myself for the task at hand next weekend.

But that is another post..

Mar 23, 2012

Pushing My Buttons - Previewing NY13.1

I sometimes think of myself as a computer with buttons that you can push to get a predictable response. The better you know me the more you can push those buttons. For example, if I say, "Oh I better not have any pizza," you can very easily change my mind. Push the button by putting a pizza in front of me. That was easy.

Such is the case with the NY13.1 half-marathon. I heard about this a few months ago and took a look at the course.
what is this i don't even
Not that Flushing Meadows is a beautiful venue but if you're putting on a large half-marathon there, it's kind of.. small.. Anyway, add to it the fact that it's an hour away, it's a half-marathon, it conflicts with the NJ Ultra Festival and I thought I'd drop by, it's not the cheapest race in the world, and oh yeah it's a week before Umstead and - well - the odds of me signing up for it are remote at best.

That is, until somebody inadvertently pushed my button. I call this button the "Do it because friends are doing it button." Sure enough, there are three or four tri club people going. They didn't even have to invite me. Oh I'd like to join you guys! Umstead shmumstead - lets go run a half!!

So tomorrow morning I'm running the NY13.1 Half Marathon. It'll be fun. Actually - it's going to be a friggin' great time. Alex and Joe are coming along, and after the race we'll go to the Queens Hall of Science and spend half-a-day there, and then maybe we'll get a gyro at Fontana and perhaps maybe visit some family in Brooklyn if they're around. Definitely going to be an awesome day.

Oh, and Umstead? Check out this rationalization. If this doesn't make you roll your eyes, then I don't know what will:

"You see, this is actually a good fitness test and tune-up run. I'm going to run this race nice and hard, but without killing myself. And since Umstead is 8 12.5-mile loops, this 13.1 mile race will tell me how I should pace myself in the first lap or two. You see, I'll add a half-hour to this race's time. So if I run 2:05, I'll aim for 2:35 in the first lap of Umstead. If I run 2:15, I'll aim for 2:45. Where did I get the half-hour figure? I pulled it out of my ass! What about subsequent laps at Umstead? Glad you asked! I figure I want to slow down by about ten minutes per lap. So lap two will be 40 minutes slower than the half, lap 4 will be an hour slower, etc. Where did I get that ten-minute number? I pulled it out of my ass!"

Mar 3, 2012

The De Facto Training Schedule

Inside the Sweat Lodge
As you can imagine, joining the Triathlon Club at my YMCA has colored my entire training schedule. In fact, it has largely taken over, and I have noticed in the last month or so of training with these guys a routine that I have fallen into. It's been great for me, because not only do these guys motivate me to work harder than I normally would, but I also have a bit of long-missing structure to my exercise routine.

I also have been successful so far in maintaining my running streak, which stands at 431 days today.

7:15AM - Tri Club run. One of the members of the club puts together a route. We meet at Market Basket in Franklin Lakes, NJ. The route has ranged from 6 miles to 9 miles, and it's getting a little longer each week. I think tomorrow we're doing 10 miles with hills.

Lunch - I take this as my recovery-from-aerobic-exercise day. I do a mile or two running, nice and easy, usually on the treadmill, and then lift weights for 30 minutes to an hour.

6-7AM or Lunch (or both) - Run on my own, 4 to 6 miles.
6PM - 1-hr Masters Swim at the YMCA. This was suggested by the guy who runs the Tri Club there. For $7.50, I get an hour in the pool, with a coach who corrects mistakes in my form (of which there are many. Swimming is hard!) This is great because the class to coach ratio was 2:1 this week!

(odd weeks)
6-7AM - Run on my own, 3-4 miles
Lunch - 40-minute Boot Camp Group Class at work. This is often the toughest workout of the week!!
(even weeks)
6-7AM or Lunch (or both) - Run on my own, 4-6 miles.

(ALL weeks)
5:30AM - 75-90-minute "Lake House" Spin session - we bring our own bikes and trainers, and go through a spin workout, lead by YMCA staff.
7:40AM - After spin I drive straight to work, and run on the treadmill for 20 minutes until I have to shower and, um.. work.
(even weeks)
Lunch: 30-minute Boot Camp Group Class.

5:30AM - 1-hour YMCA Tri Club Swim session. Again, a coach is there to correct form, but unlike the Masters Swim coaching session, it's sometimes a 25:1 class to coach ratio. So the coaching is still valuable, but the real value in this workout is camaraderie.
6:40AM - A bunch of us go right to the gym there at the YMCA and run on treadmills for an hour or so. I usually do 4-5 miles on this run.

5:30AM - 2-hour "Sweat Lodge"Spin Session - we pack our bikes and trainers in the two-car garage of one of our tri club members, and we follow a workout generously provided by a top age-grouper who is acquainted with our club. This or Boot Camp is always the toughest workout of the week.
Later that day - I run, usually really short just to keep the streak alive. Today I ran immediately after the (really tough) 2-hour spin session.

7 days of running - 30 miles, 5 hours or so
2 days of swimming - 2 hours
2 days of biking - 3.5 hours
1 day of weights - 30 minutes

So that was my schedule for February and March will look really similar. I expect that as the weather improves and the light returns, things will change. We'll probably bike outside instead of on the trainer, there will be open-water swimming, and track workouts.

And yes, I am missing long runs. This will be a factor at Umstead. I have to count on the residual training effect of 150 miles at ATY + 11 hours/week of training to compensate. I will probably be walking most of the second 50. Mike Henze pointed out on the ultra list that when he does a month of walking at 11 minutes per mile, then walking 15 minutes per mile in a race doesn't feel very hard. To that end March I also am going to add a few hours of walking per week, and perhaps replace some running miles with walking, and I'm going to try to keep it either 5MPH or faster, or 5% or steeper.