Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Recap

February 2010
Miles logged: 109 (up from 105 in January)
Longest Run: 15.25 miles
Race: Half at Hampton (13.1)

February was a great month. Adding speed work to the mix while training for the Half at Hampton has definitely improved my pace on distance runs. I ran my first official half-marathon in Hampton, and it was a PB for me for that distance, shaving around 10 minutes off my previous best!

The month ended with me heading out this morning for my longest distance since I ran the Kona marathon in 2001.

A few weeks ago, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for Stu's 30k (map here - a very challenging course around Wachusett Reservoir. I've been told -

Lot's of road sand, absurd road cambers, up hill finish, run it twice and both times finished in a snow squall, good race.

Most of the blog posts related to Stu's contain phrases like "race from hell", and "course was insane". Despite this, I plan on heading out next weekend to challenge myself.

So today found me attempting to bridge the gap between the half marathon last weekend, and the 30K staring me in the face next weekend. The longest time I've recorded since last fall (when I really began running consistently again) was around 2:15. Today I decided to target 2:45. I used the Daily Mile route mapper to chart out a nice hilly course around 15.25 miles.

The first 8-9 miles I felt strong. I kept having to slow down as I naturally fell into a pace that I really don't think I could maintain over 15, let alone, 19 miles. The hills came and went, and I meandered my way about town while it arose from its slumber and got moving. I drifted through the fog and mist, passing churches and donut shops along the way. I laughed when I pictured myself running with a cup of coffee and a donut. Instead, I decided to settle for the some water and a couple of GU's I had packed snugly in my fuel belt.

Miles 9-10 took me on a stretch of road that I will run on next week during Stu's, across the reservoir and near the Old Stone Church in West Boylston. If it is a clear day next week, the views around the reservoir are going to be fantastic!

After about 2 hours into the run, I had some slight ankle pain on the left side. I had to slow to an almost walk for a few seconds as I adjusted to the sensation. After a few minutes, I had worked it out and was moving along again. Just in time for the final ascent. I came up into our neighborhood and did my customary loop that I've come to love during my pre-dawn jaunts, and ended in the driveway, tired, but not spent. I am confident about next weekend.

I ended up hitting my mark, at about 2:46. I averaged around 10:50, which is great. I really want to slow it down. I've been climbing mileage each of the last 5 weeks without a drop down week. After Stu's, I'm taking some time off from climbing. After all, I'm not even really training for a marathon right now!

Last month, when I ran the Freezer Five, I got one of their trademark "reicycled" shirts.

Next week, I intend to earn one of these shirts, for real.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hampton Half

Well it was this past Sunday. The half-marathon at Hampton. What a great weekend! For me: great food before and after, a great day for a race, and a great finishing time. I completely surpassed my goal of 2:00 and came in at 1:55:52, for an overall pace of 08:50. I am very pleased.

Jenni's sister Sarrah was nice enough to let us crash at her place in Newburyport, a charming little coastal city Northeast of Boston that features a vibrant downtown life. Our time in Newburyport featured visits to: Cafe Di Siena, Fowles Cafe, Ten Center and Agave. Loved the sweets at Cafe Di Siena. The exclusive Ten Center is highly recommended. Agave was the perfect post-race spot for margaritas and their delicious Ceviche.

OK. Enough about fabulous dining.

The race started at 11 on Sunday. I got to the start around 10:30 and warmed up for a few minutes, jogging up and down the course, getting acclimated to the wind. I hadn't yet decided whether or not I was going to wear my outer layer (wind shell). After a few minutes outside, I decided to ditch the jacket and just go with my base layer + wind block layer, with a race tee over the top. Tights and running pants on the bottom.

In the midst of making my way back to the start, I bumped into Chris Russell, of Run Run Live podcast fame. Didn't exchange much but a hurried introduction and hand shake. But it was great to meet one of the guys in this welcoming running community that I admire. Mad Dog!

11 o clock approached, and I took my place toward the back of the pack. The gun sounded and we were off. The first few minutes were very slow, as 1100+ people made their way out of the gates. I noticed I was behind the 10:00 pace runner, and decided to pick it up a bit. By the time I hit the first mile marker, I was running around an 08:40 pace. I totally missed the mile 2 marker. Somewhere between mile 3 and 4, I found the 09:00 pace runner, who was admittedly a bit above pace. I passed him and vowed to stay ahead of him, acknowledging that if I encountered him again, I'd really pick it back up.

The next 5-6 miles were a steady, dare I say, comfortable 8:35-8:45 pace. As I cruised past mile markers I checked the watch. I was averaging anywhere between 2-4 minutes "in the bank". Running about 2-3 minutes below the 9:00 mile pace. Here's a picture from about 1/2 way through the race (I'm the runner in red on the far right)

The last 4 or so miles of the course took a turn and led between large estates and the vast ocean. The last 4 also featured the worst of the wind. All the while, I checked my watch at the markers, and kept plugging along, pretty happy with my progress. As I approached the mile 12 marker, I realized that I had enough time in the bank and enough gas in the tank to come in well under my goal of 2 hours. The last mile was euphoric. I knew I could practically walk the last bit and still finish nicely. I just ran at a comfortable pace, with an ear-to-ear grin, as I knew I was about to shatter this supposed stretch goal.

Here I am, with a photo finish -

Afterwards, I had to get out on the beach. First, to walk on something soft. Second, to stare out at the Atlantic in total awe of both it's beauty, and what I had just accomplished. Last year on race date, I weighed 252 lbs, and couldn't dream of finishing a half in under 2hrs. What a difference a year makes!

Post race, there were bananas and smoothie drinks and soup and Smutty Nose. After all that, here I am, with my medal.

Today, it was in the mid-40s. I know. I said I'd rest. But I just couldn't resist getting out for a recovery run. Ended up going around 5 miles at a 10:00ish pace. Quads were sore at first, but loosened up toward the end. Tomorrow morning, I return my pre-dawn 5k ritual. Stu's 30K is two weeks away, and I need to keep moving.

Until next time: run, run, run.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Training Recap (Feb 8 - Feb 14)

Feb 8 - Feb 14
Total Mileage: 30 miles
Runs: 6
Long-run: 12 miles (@09:35)

I had a pretty strong training week. My 5k comfortable pace runs became progression or tempo-runs. On Thursday, I had some margaritas at lunch and decided to get in some double time. Saturday, I went out for a 5k race-pace, and it turned into a PR over that distance for me! I finished in 25 minutes, averaging around 08:08!

Sunday's long run was 12 miles. It is a very hilly route that takes me over and around Wachusett reservoir (sharing some stretches of road with the Stu's 30k route). I averaged about 09:35 and finished in 01:55. I figure if I can average sub-10 on a hilly course over 12 miles, I might have a shot at a sub-2 hour half-marathon next week at Hampton.

Ice bath was rough this week, but I'm feeling pretty good right now, so I think that there is some definite value there.

Hope you get out there this week and give it your all.

Until next time: run, run, run.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Training Recap (Feb 1 - Feb 7)

Feb 1 - Feb 7
Total Mileage: 26 miles
Runs: 5
Long-run: 11 miles @09:22

Had a good week last week. My easy 5k runs in the morning on both Tuesday and Thursday both turned into progression runs. My tempo run on Wednesday was fun - I broke it up a little differently than I had before (1/2 and 2/3 mile segments). Saturday's 5 mile race pace run ended up being a really fast pace (08:42) and I felt really strong on the hillier sections. My LSD this week was an 11 miler. I surprised myself with an overall sub-10 time (09:22) over a somewhat hilly course.

My big toe on my right foot was bothering me early in the week, but I haven't really noticed much since Wednesday's tempo session.

Also, I tried something new this weekend that I believe helped tremendously: ICE BATH. I think I may spend 10-15 minutes in the chill after each 10+ mile run. I expected to be completely sore today after yesterday's quick 11 miler, but I don't. I think the time spent in the freezing water helped!

On tap for this week:
Tues/Thurs - easy 5k
Wednesday - speed work
Saturday - 3 mile race pace
Sunday - 12 mile LSD

The Half at the Hamptons is 2 weeks from yesterday. Can't wait!