Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Long Recovery

Well it's been 3 weeks since the race in DC and I am only now beginning to feel back to normal.  Recovery from that one took way longer than expected.  These early season efforts on minimal training just take it out of me.  I felt pretty good the days following the race but still took three days off as a precaution.  When I did finally try to run tight hamstrings let me know I wasn't quite ready.

So more rest ensued.  I bailed on a 10k I was thinking about running while in Clear Lake visiting the folks, the second year in a row I've skipped it due to slow recovery from another race.  I did a few more test runs in between rain (and snow) showers that next week, but still was not feeling 100%. It was a little frustrating since in my mind I needed that week to continue building up mileage so I could comfortably start a marathon training plan the second week in May.  Eventually though you have to tell yourself that getting healthy is the most important thing to worry about.  It doesn't matter when you start a specific plan if you're not healthy enough to execute it.

Two weeks after the race I set out on my routine Sunday long run.  I had a decent short run the day before, but was pretty uncertain as to what the day would bring.  I still wasn't feeling all that great so I was ready to accept that the run could be 5 miles or 15 or somewhere in between if my hamstrings were still upset at me.  It's funny some times how the body will protest for so long, and then out of nowhere all the soreness you've been carrying around for the last couple of weeks just disappears.  I cranked out 14 miles that afternoon and felt great the entire time. I was back! Finally.

Following that run, I managed a decent week of workouts despite logging some long hours at work.  Today's long run went even better than last weeks.  I decided against racing again at the Drake Relays Half and instead just focused on putting in some quality miles.  I really didn't need to deal with another 2 week recovery so soon.  I am hoping that the next two weeks get me to where I need to be to comfortably start marathon training.  I am excited to get back on a plan instead of making things up as I go and hoping the hard work will actually get me to the starting line in Boston next year.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Race Report: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

Well my first race of the year took me out to Washington D.C. It was really a trip to see the kiddos (and my sister and BIL for that matter). As long as I'm traveling I like to squeeze in races to experience something new.  The weekend was filled with the wee ones' sports but I managed to weasel my way in via a lottery to the annual Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in D.C.  It was a great scenic run and the cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom so I felt very fortunate to be running such a race.

The day began early.  Up at 5 to eat. Out the door at 5:30 to the race site. Thankfully my sister agreed to head in with me so she drove us to the metro and we rode in with the other thousands of runners. It was nice not having to worry about navigating my way in to the city or bag check that morning. She was an excellent sherpa. Thanks! We got to washington monument with plenty of time for me to hit up the bathroom, take a few pics and make to the corral with plenty of time to spare.

Not much time for a warm up.  After I left my sister I jogged to the corral for maybe 50 yards. Not sure that really counts.

To say I was jazzed for the first race of the year was a bit of an understatement. I was coming off another off season injury so there was a little bit of uncertainty involved, but I was really just excited to run and see where I was at from a fitness perspective. This would be a pretty good indicator of where I was and how much work needed to be done before kicking off marathon training. Plus this was a pretty kick ass run around DC in great weather. How could you not be excited for this?

Because of the injury I wasn't real sure how to approach pacing this. I had only done a couple of runs over 10 miles up to this point and very little speed work. I figured heading out at half marathon pace for the first half and adjusting the pace based on how I felt after that would be a safe bet. No need to kill myself early on.

Thankfully it being such a large race keeping myself in check early on wasn't too much of a problem. There was a crowd for the first couple of miles. Across memorial bridge and around the roundabout things were tight. I held back until the way back across memorial where things started to spread out and I decided to stretch the legs a bit. Hit the first out and back and back along the tidal basin and we were already halfway done. My garmin had decided not to turn on before the race start so I was over a mile in before I got it up and running. I had to go off clocks at the mile markers to get a semblance of pace. Not knowing may have been a blessing in disguise. I went off feel and made sure I was staying within my means. Comfortably hard was probably an adequate description. Hit the halfway mark at 33:49 and then the 10k at 42:06 and was happy with the splits.

Heading south along Potomac park was a little windy. I tried to tuck behind other runners to minimize the impact, but at that point my legs were feeling good and I was starting to pass quite a few people. Once we got around the point the wind was at our backs and I was thankful for that. A little over two miles to go and I decided to open it up even more. I was surprised how good I felt and decided the weather had a lot to do with it. Time to just put the foot on the gas and bring it in. That stretch back up Potomac park I was just cruising past people, making it a game to see how many people I could catch and pass. I was so focused I missed my sister cheering at about mile nine. I heard my name called out but wasn't sure if it was her or a random stranger since we had names on our bibs. With a mile to go I really cut loose. The legs were sore, but I knew I was on pace for a decent time so I fought to see how fast I could finish things off. There was a little climb before the finish, really the only incline of the day, and it sucked hard, but I was kind of in the zone and just kept on pushing. Eventually the finish line showed up and I crossed, crazy happy about the time. Some guy next to me blew chunks after finishing and I wondered if I could have pushed a little harder. I've never puked after a race, but maybe not from lack of trying. I think this was a first long race I have ever pulled off a negative split. I was at a 6:47 pace after 10k, but finished at a 6:44 pace for the entire race. Actually kind of fun finishing things off with a little something something in the tank.

Time: 1:07:21
Pace: 6:44/mile
Overall: 506/17530
AG place: 106/1455

The race site had some interesting stats post race. I finished ahead of 99% of the women, meaning I only got chicked by a small percentage of the field. I also passed 83 people in the second half of the race and was only passed by 8. Thanks you very much Mr. Negative Split. The pace also translated to an 8.9 mph pace. They also showed where I was on the course when the men's and women's winners finished. That is still humbling. I think the winner ran a 46:XX. Craziness! 

After I walked down and picked up food. Waited for my sister and some warm clothes. Then we walked to the Jefferson memorial and watched the back of packers finish up. For being injured in the offseason and my tubby butt still needing to lose about 10 pounds to lose to get down to a reasonable race weight I was happy.  I was super stoked with how things went. I am in much better shape than I anticipated I would be at this time of year. Things are looking up for marathon training and setting more PRs this summer if I stay healthy. This was a great course and quite scenic when I remembered to take a look around. I feel fortunate to get in through the lottery and to have my sister there to cheer me on.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's almost race time!

First race of the year is finally on the docket for this weekend.  After having to opt out of the New Orleans half in February I'm finally healthy enough to run and race this weekend and super excited to do so.

I hopping on the plane bright and early in the morning to head out to Washington DC.  I'll be visiting my sister and her family and just happened to get in to the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  It was the second time I've entered a race that had a lottery for entry (the first being escape from alcatraz three years ago) and the second time I've been selected. Maybe I should enter a lottery that's giving away money instead of essentially volunteering for a supervised pain session?

I'll embrace the pain like always though, especially since just a couple of months ago I was suffering the pain of injury.  A strained tendon in my foot sidelined me for much of the winter months, but since the end of February I've built my base back up from essentially nothing to hitting my first 40 mile week last week. After that build block I have been thoroughly enjoying the taper this week.  I needed the reduced mileage to recover a bit so I'm ready on Sunday. 

I've never run a 10 mile race before so the good news is that this will be a PR regardless of how I finish.  While my mileage is up I'm not sure my race legs will be under me or not.  I think I'll pace it like a half marathon and crank it up the last three miles if there's anything left in the tank.  That seems like a conservative approach, which I'm not really known for. Whatever happens it will sure be a fun romp around the capitol.

Short post. I'm off to bed soon.  Something about getting plenty sleep before a race and whatnot.