Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Club Challenge report

I'm not going to lie, I wanted to have a good race for Club Challenge. I know I was nowhere near scoring (even all the scoring females on the team finished ahead of me). But, I spent all of 2011 grinding and I'm OK with that. But 2012 is going to be the year of some drastic improvements, in a last gasp attempt to see what I can do in my 'prime.' I put some nice mileage weeks including a 45 mile week that topped my peak week in 2011. I did a mini taper with two off days and a short shake out jog on Saturday. The race was Sunday morning. I did go out and have a couple of beers the night before, but that was really it.

The race itself is somewhat challenging. Not as much as the Lewis 10 miler a few weeks back, but still needs to be respected. Having done 2 workouts out on the course with my That's What She Said brethren helped a lot. It was nice running weather, somewhere in the mid 30's. I ran in the nice singlet courtesy of Falls Road, which necessitated my purchase of proper running shorts a couple of weeks back. The new pair of Sky Speeds I bought (to replace the exact same pair) were broken in and feeling fine.

Fully aware that I start all my races too fast I tried to start out reasonable pace around 7 minutes. Goal time was 70 minutes, so it would have been nice to start out at that pace. But I was a bit under that. I caught another member of the team and we were running together through 3 (somewhere in the neighborhood of 20:20 pace). At this point I told her something to the effect of 'if I settle in you should go.' Kinda silly, she was running strong and smart and didn't need any help from me...

I don't really trust the mile markers on the course, but I was through 5 at 34 flat. Even if it was off by a minute or so it still meant I ran the first 5 around the same time as Celtic Solstice in December. And that was a good race for 2011. So I can live with that. But two other members of the team had passed me, both on their way to sub 70 minute races. The rolling hills were toughest through 6 and as I climbed Jon caught and passed me. A bit demoralizing, but it did keep me from walking and I kept him in sight for most of the rest of the race. He finished a minute and a half faster in 1:10.30 or so.

I dropped in pace for sure the last couple of miles (a made an attempt to pick up the last mile, but when I went a quarter of mile and saw the mile 9 sign it confused me and broke my spirit a bit). But it wasn't a death march and I came home in 1:12 exactly on the clock. I looked up to see it with about 10 seconds to go before 1:12, so I picked up the last few steps to make the time. Still not as fast as when I was 13 (albeit on a tougher course), so I'll have to wait until Cherry Blossom in April in order to give that time a try.

Next up, however, is the Leap day 4k and Shamrock 5k. I seemed to catch something Monday which put me out of commission so I'm not optimistic about the 4k. Shamrock should see a recent era PR for the 5k, though.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Back on Track

Around June of last year the runs started crossing over the 4 runs a week threshold. Knowing myself and my attention deficit disorder tendencies I was looking for another 'thing' to add to my routine if I was ever going to stick with running almost every day. I already did City Sports on Wednesdays and long runs or races on the weekends. What I needed was a group that hit the track every week and Tuesday seemed like the best day. Luckily, there was not one, but two groups that met on Tuesday in the greater Baltimore metropolitan area. The first was up at Goucher and the other, at the time, used the Hopkins/Loyola shared track on 33rd across from where Memorial Stadium used to be. Naturally the location in the city was going to be the only one I could reach in time. Sorry TWSS friends, the truth is I landed with you all purely for the sake of convinence. But i'm glad I did...

Showing up was brutal, I have to admit. I was overweight, out of 'shape,' and it was hot. I was struggling to keep up just for the warm up. I left after the workout the first couple of weeks and went directly to the supermarket and bought copious amounts of fruit and vegetables. I had trouble just walking and overslept in the mornings. City Sports Wednesday went from the hard run of the week to a recover jog. But it was necessary to get back in shape. I made it a requirement to go every week. Beyond a week in June when I was travelling and another in August where I had a planned 'down week,' I was a regular through late fall. After a while I was able to finish workouts and didn't need to supermarket binge. And I think the results are starting to show the work i've been doing.

This week's workout was pretty simple--a set of 5 800's flanked by sets of 3 x 400. Having a pretty easy weekend I was super fresh and the times show it. All the 800s were under 3, including the 5th at 2:55 where fearless leader Ryan sent the others of my group early and I had to chase them down. I needed that because the times started at 2:57 and were heading south to 3:00 by the 4th interval. The 400 were unintentionally a progression with the first over 90, down to 79 on the very last one, where I again chased the others in my group.

Total workout miles - 4 -- total time 23:30 -- Average page 5:52/mile.

Friday, February 17, 2012

So, Roy, let me ask you--what have been doing all these years?

I ran the Shamrock Marathon in March of 2001. The next reported race result I have is the Executive Stampede in late 2008 (a somewhat respectable 21:30 5k). So what did I do in-between? Drinking, yes, but not just that.

Australian Rules Football
After spending a semester in Perth, Western Australia in 1999 I was hooked on footy. It took me a couple of years, but I found a DC/Baltimore team and gave it a go. I went to my first practice somewhere around August of 2001 at Swan Park (getting my full dose of arsenic and whatever else was in the dirt there). If I was practicing and playing regularly it meant I was in ok running shape. The 5k in '08 was after a particularly dedicated training summer. I had delusions that I would have been a good player had a played from an early age, but that was probably wishful thinking. It was still a good time and the team won a Class II National Championship in Vegas along the way (I had a pretty minor role, but was still a member of the team). Was there drinking? Is Fosters Australian for 'we don't drink that shit?' (yes!)

The Band
I think Scheduled Beating was started the next year in November. Typical hardcore punk. A couple of weekend playing shows in NC/PA/Long Island. Oddly, I was doing a lot of running when we were living in the 'Beating House,' a house we rented in 2004 in Catonsville so we could have a place to practice. Jon was living there and we ran together a bit. We also ventured in the city and ran the group runs at the old 5k store on Bond Street in Fells. But I didn't do any competitive races during that period. Just running for fun. So what happened during band times? Drinking, lots of drinking.

Greyhound Adoption
I bought my house in 2005. It wasn't long before I realized this meant I could adopt a dog. I was watching Westminster for the Ibizan Hounds (my brother's dog Jasper was an Ibizan). I wanted a similar dog, but not exactly the same (Ibizians are rare and expensive). Greyhounds are in the same group and usually are right next to the Ibizans (G and I alphabetically). I did always have a fascination with the breed, despite not really ever seeing one in person. I don't think there is much mystery why a runner would be drawn to the fastest dogs in the world. I spent some time getting my affairs in order and pulled the trigger to adopt Zuni, my first, in January of 2007. It only took about a year (and a job change) before I was fostering pretty much full time. And I continued to foster until 2011 when I adopted again (and again). But the question you are asking is--was there drinking? Well, I went to lots greyhound events (gathering of owners at various locations around the region). And the folks I associated with enjoyed a cocktail or a beer. So...

Monday, February 13, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

24 Little Hours
I make full use of the site mapmyrun. I was looking for a way to track mileage when I got serious last March/April and finding it was a bit of a revelation. It appeals to my map nerdiness which is fairly obvious due to my choice of career (Geography/GIS/Cartography). Just to give you an idea: I have 169 routes, which includes a bunch of warm up and cool down routes. But overall every time I go out to run, I tend to make a new route that needs to be mapped. And it hasn't gotten old yet.

Choosing that particular site had affected me in a subtle way. I am bound to the Sunday to Saturday week that they designate as a week. I could re-figure the week to include other days, but I'm a little too lazy for that. So, for better or for worse, this is my week. This week makes an perfect example. My Sunday recovery run was a mere 4 miles (but about right for the day after a race). So I was playing 'catch-up' the rest of the week. I had to hit over 8 on Tuesday, would have been happier with 9. 6 became 7 on Wednesday and Friday was 10. I wanted to have some legs on Sunday for the Club Challenge workout and doing 10 the day before would be counterproductive at this stage of my running progress. So the total for 2/5 - 2/11 was a moderate 40 mile week.

Here is where it gets crazy. If you shift the count one day, 5/6 - 5/12 thanks to a 13 mile Sunday become a 49 mile week. It's my highest 'week' in recent memory, and possibly ever (sadly). But I'm not going to count it, I'm sticking with my Sunday to Saturday weeks. I do get a nice to start to the current week, of course. But it's something to think about when trying to reasonably raise the miles in a 'safe' manner.

Or maybe I just wanted to brag about those 7 days....

Friday, February 10, 2012

2011 Highlights

According to Athlinks, I ran 13 races in 2011 (it was 14, the Bauer results aren't showing up). Oddly the first race of the year was my best numerical finish, but probably my worst performance. Also contradictory--the Marathon was a highlight but two races I ran in the two weeks following that race had the best time results. I will mention a few of the notable races, highs and lows.

The Cylburn 5k was first, but the MCVET 10k was supposed to be my real return. I had trained up in April and May and picked a 10k to challenge myself. It was probably too soon for a race of that distance. I had run 7 miles the previous week, but running and racing are different animals. It's also an odd race logistically, with a 5k prior to the 10k on the same course. I got there early to register and then warmed up for what seemed like an hour as I waited for everyone to finish in the 5k. Unknown at the time, a bunch of my future running mates were there claiming the top spots in everything. Perhaps because of all the warming up I went out too fast (just under 7:30 pace, seems funny now that it would be too fast) and doomed myself from the start. It was also approaching 10 am on a hot morning in late May, and shade was not a feature of this course. I made the turn on the simple out-and-back course and wasn't able to hold it together. I walked a lot in the last two miles and came home in 54:00 flat. Pretty terrible time, terrible experience. But you have to, er, run before you run so it was a start.

Quadzilla 15k
I was still in the 'trail races would be fun' mode when I found this race. Also, it has the extra benefit of being near Allentown where a friend from college lives (and who I hadn't seen a while). This race has a disclaimer (and a twitter account) that was warning about the hills. And there were hills. Long, painful ones at first and then short steep ones that defied gravity. The kind of hills that one would struggle to climb using all fours. Again, went out too fast and it was a warm morning and before long I was taking walk breaks. But so were a lot of people. It became not a race, but an exercise in survival. The last 3 miles were arduous. I finished in a time that was longer than the half a ran later in the year 1:46.55.

Baltimore Grand Prix 5k
A nice little race that followed the course of the Baltimore Grand Prix. A full loop, plus some extra, this race was not able to be certified for a couple of reasons. After spending all day at the race (walking over from my office in the morning and returning home around 4 to walk the dogs) I was not expecting the best performance. Furthermore I was hanging with my brother before the start and was near the back of the pack as they waved the green flag. I passed an insane amount of people (probably a thousand) and probably ran the full 3.1 because I was on the outside of all the turns. Came home in a respectable 21:10 on the nearly flat course. I don't know if this race has a future because the Grand Prix might not have a future. But I hope it does as it was neat race.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Going Back to Frederick

If you are around me for more than 5 minutes I will probably mention that I was born in Frederick. If you're a running friend I will will probably tell you I was born with running shoes on and did my first fun run shortly after said birth. This is an exaggeration, I was the advanced age of 4 when I 'ran' my first race. I think I still have the finisher ribbon somewhere. It was a Steeplechasers race (Steeplechasers.org) and for the next 14 years I ran just about every local even they put on. We were regulars at the Thursday fun relays night (and would put one at least one ourselves every year). After high school I dropped off and moved a hour or so away (except for the Rockville year). And, more importantly, I did not run a formal race between the years of 2001 and 2008.

Since I've been back training again I've had the urge to go back and do a Steeplechasers event. I circled the Market Street Mile last fall, but in the end I couldn't make it. Half was because I wasn't sure about driving an hour for a race that I had not preregistered for, the other half was for other reasons... I also wanted to run the Goodloe Byron 15k which was another race I did in my youth, but it turned out to be the same weekend as White Rock. Obviously that one was out. I settled on the John Lewis 10 miler early this year as it was a nice 10 mile distance and good training for Club Challenge. Furthermore, I used to run with John Lewis when I was a running fetus so it only seems right to run his memorial race.

Originally scheduled for a chilly day in mid January, an ice storm postponed the race a week and messed with my schedule. It was moved another week until February 4 due to clubhouse availability. I bumped up my expectations and maybe that wasn't a great idea. The Lewis race is an always-interesting prediction time run and I put down 1:12. I thought I was adding a couple of minutes for hills, but that was probably my level of fitness on a flat course right now.

Training since the 26.2 has been rather schizophrenic. I spent most of December taking it easy during the week and racing on the weekends. I did a nice time for a 15k (1:07 and change) and probably my best result of the year in the Celtic Solstice at 34:34 (and that's a legit 5 miler unlike some other races). I then ended the year on a 35 mile week because I wanted to hit 1000 for the year (really a few miles more than that, I started tracking my mileage on March 30). First couple of weeks of the year were lower mileage (23 and 21 respectively) as I tried to shake a lingering heel pain. But I went back to last year's training levels and jumped over 30, and then 40 to close out the month. So I felt like I could race a 10 miler and do reasonably well. I was aware of the hills in the area, having grown up on Braddock Mountain.

Not willing to properly taper I ran a full week except for an off day Friday. I woke up in plenty of time but somehow I was leaving the City only about 1:15 before the scheduled start. Every cop and his mother was out on route 70 and I was not able to do some crazy speeds the whole way, just part. But I arrived with a solid 15 minutes to spare. I waiting in line to register and this cut into precious warm-up time. I think I managed about 5 minutes of jog time and then stood at the start for probably 15 minutes (not complaining, just how these things go). Being fairly competitive I charged up the moderate hill at the start and didn't look back. I think I was in 5th at one point (it's a club run, but part of the Grand Prix series so there is some competition).

The rolling hills for the first 2.5 or 3 miles were tough and I felt myself settling in and letting the folks in the top 10 go. Since this was prediction run, watches were not allowed and it's probably for the best and there were no mile markers so it's moot anyway. The only flat section was down to the first water stop and back and then you began to climb. I was already feeling a bit fatigued. I walked a bit (there was someone in front of me that walked as well, this is a bit of mental thing when that happens) on a steep little hill and then I was back on the horse and past the next water stop. It was another out-and-back section and when I saw the leader come back the other way, it was bit demoralizing. But I knew from logic that I was past 6 and that kept me going a bit.

I was not prepared for 7 to the finish. It was all uphill. I joked that it was a course by MC Esher and all directions were uphill. I would rank it second behind the Quadzilla 15k last July in terms of total climb (mapmyrun is somewhat unreliable in this regard but it puts it second with 466 feet of climb, I would think maybe closer to 700 or 800). A few people came past and I fell to 15th as I started down the last mile. A bit mentally defeated I came home in 16th and the time was at first glance 1:16.something. The result I saw today was a bit better, 1:15.47, and I think maybe 4 minutes slower than possible due to the hills.

I gave myself a bit of a scare, I didn't pick the right turn around for the the second out-and-back section of the course when mapping it for the record. If the race was .4 or .5 short of 10 then I was really off the pace. But I realized my mistake today and it mapped to a near-perfect 9.99. Well done Steeplechasers.

For the week:
Aiming for over 40 this week as I'm 19 weeks out from the next 26.2. If I was following a 18 week plan it would begin next week and I wanted to be over 40 for the start. But I'm still not sure if I'm going to follow a plan. It seemed to work to build miles and hit track on Tuesdays, combined with strategic races along the way. Next up is Club Challenge, making this the spring of the 10 mile race. Bring it...