Monday, June 18, 2012

Dam to Dam Race Report

Well this report is long overdue.  The race was over two weeks ago, but due to an extremely busy work week and then a nice relaxing vacation in Michigan I'm just now getting around to this.  Dam to Dam is a 20k race (12.4 miles) that starts at the Saylorville Dam and ends in downtown Des Moines.  I haven't been able to run this race since 2008, which was when I first started doing the running/triathlon, so I was pretty excited to run this.  Plus the 2 weeks leading up to the race the training had been going fairly well.  I felt due for a good race.

I was upp at 3:30 for this one. Ugh! I had to make the drive to Des Moines and the shuttles started taking people to the start at 5:00. I always like to give myself plenty of time. Probably more than necessary, but I've done races where I've had to scramble to get to the start on time and I really don't need that stress. So I kind of hung out and tried to time my last bathroom trip so I could get out of there and make my way to the start close to when the gun would go off. As I started wading through the sea of people in the corral, I realized that it was going to take far too long to get there so I hopped the railing fencing everyone in and jogged along the embankment up to the front of the line. I made it with a few minutes to spare so I chatted with a coworker of mine until the gun went off.

I went out fast. It's hard not to. My coworker said he wanted to hang with me for a while, but I didn't wait around for him to keep up. Such a nice guy I am. The legs felt good and the slight downhill sections in the first few miles were fun to cruise on down. I was running 6:40-6:45 pace for the most part and kind of in shock at how much easier this felt than the last half marathon I ran when I tried to hold the same pace. I was working hard, but not overly taxing the system. Maybe the training is starting to pay off?

There were plenty of spectators along the route to keep things interesting so the first half went by pretty quickly. There was a slight wind out of the south in our faces so I tried to tuck in behind a couple of people running about the same pace. I hit the 10k mark at 41:36 and was satisfied with the split, knowing that the second half would have a couple of climbs mixed in whereas the first half was mostly downhill or flat.

I took the first climb pretty well and the next couple miles still felt good. Around that point in time some guy caught up with me and said, "Let's go pick some people off." "Sounds like a plan," I replied. We did just that and ran hard together for at least a mile. Turns out he was friends with one of my old college roommates (who ran a blistering 1:20:26) and they both ran Boston in April. So we talked running and triathlon for a bit until he started to pull away. I tried my best to keep up, but my legs couldn't move any faster. I told him to go on ahead and I did my best to keep the pace as high as I could. There was only a couple of miles left and I gutted them out. When that finish line came into view I sprinted in as best as I could, happy to cross, and thrilled with the time. 

Time: 1:24:36
Pace 6:48 min/mile
Overall Place: 177/6895
Age Group Place: 36/589

Afterwards, I had a chocolate milk and beer (not together) and walked for awhile. Chatted a bit with the coworker I left at the start (he finished less than a minute behind me) and my late mile running buddy and my old roommate.  It ended up being a pretty darn good day for a race.  I can't believe it has has doubled in size since I last ran it four years ago. It's still well run and I liked the slight course change and the finish area is much better than before. First race this year where I've felt like things came together and I've been really pleased with the result. It was a 4.5 minute PR for me and nice to finally see some payoff with the high training volume. Now I just need to get to work the next 18 weeks so that pace feels easy in Chicago

Friday, June 1, 2012

Records, Recovery, and Racing

Well it's the eve of my fourth race of the season.  Tomorrow is Dam to Dam, a 20k run that is Iowa's largest road race.  I'm excited to run because I haven't done this race since 2008.  That was the year I started in endurance sports so I'd like to see if all the miles in the past four years have had any sort of positive impact.  I did take a look at my time and I ran a respectable 1:29 so if want to PR at this distance then I am going to have to run pretty hard.  It's an overall downhill course so if I have a good day it's doable.  I think I'm recovered from my debacle last week so that helps too.

So a little more on that debacle.  I once again learned (I guess maybe "again learned" is not the proper phrasing if since this happens from time to time) how important recovery is.  I had my race on Sunday and started to feel a sore throat coming on at that time.  The sore throat lingered around during the week.  My Tuesday run did not go well.  I had a hard time at the end of the run and chalked it up to the not being used to the heat.  So Wednesday was a recovery run, but I tacked on a couple of extra miles because I wanted to hit 55 miles for the week.  55 is the starting point of my official training plan for Chicago which I start next week and I wanted to make sure I could handle that volume.  Well the recovery run was nothing of the sort and I was forced to walk at the end.  The Thursday morning run to work was just as bad.  My legs felt overly fatigued, my heart rate was way up and more walking ensued.  The run back wasn't any better.  I finally took a much needed rest day on Friday.  Slept 9+ hours instead of 6 or 7 that night.  I had an easy Saturday with a short 5 miler that actually felt like a recovery run.  By Sunday I was feeling much better and hammered out a 16 mile long run around the lake that felt phenomenal.  In hindsight I really needed to focus on working that recovery and rest into the middle of the week instead of cramming crappy miles in.  All the signs of fatigue were there, but I got caught up trying hit that 55 mile mark and ignored.  Lesson learned hopefully.

The only good to come out of that was that my junk miles helped contribute to a record month of running.  I logged 184 miles in the month of May, despite a week of recovery after the Cap City Half the first weekend of the month.  June should be even bigger once the official training plan gets under way so that should be fun.  I'm looking forward to it!