Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inaugural CRC Winter Classic 8k

The day dawned bright and cold for Charlotte Running Club's first official race. My usual pre race rituals were thrown off a little as Lisa was in VA for her Mom's birthday and I had to drop the kids off at the neighbours. Still I arrived in plenty of time to pick up my number and chip and get three miles of warm up in on the course. I noted the excellent course markings and the smooth registration/packet pick up process. Changed into my new TrySports singlet and Wave Ronin 3s, did some strides and was ready to roll.

The race got off exactly on time. A quick scout of the front runners and I’d ascertained that favourite John Compton was present, along with Aussie Dan and newly engaged/birthday boy Chris. I figured these were the guys I would have to mix it up with if I was to place top 3 and walk away with some nice Gore running gear! We settled into a comfortable pace early on, I sat in behind John, with Dan alongside and a big group still around us. I was getting a bit antsy (as usual) but figured if I was close to John then I must be running a decent enough pace so just settled in. I had resolved to not look at my watch during the race at all as I wanted to use this as a race not a time trial. At about half a mile, my impatience got the better of me and I stepped around the side of Dan and started pushing the pace a little alongside John.

As we approached the mile marker I took a quick look around and was able to ascertain that the 4 expected protagonists had formed a lead group now and it was likely that the top three would come from this bunch.

just after the mile mark (I'm hidden)

There was loud crowd support here and again when we looped back to near the same point 400 metres later before hitting the infamous Mcalpine hill for the first of what would be two times. I felt good running up the hill but as usual lost some ground on the steep downhill the other side. While the other three seemed to head down there with reckless abandon, my lanky, uncoordinated frame stumbled down and I lost a few yards. As we came past the lake for the first time we were strung out in a line of 4- John followed by Dan then Chris then myself.

We turned off the path across the grass and back to the start line, just the usual 5k course to go now. At this point of the race I was feeling okay but the other guys were looking solid too. Doubts started to creep in that I would be able to stay with the three of them so I made the decision to try and banish these doubts by making a move myself. I consciously started to drive harder and passed Dan and Chris on the long straightaway. John was a further distance ahead and looking stronger and stronger, not an unexpected development. Now it was just a question of focusing on John up ahead and holding off Dan and Chris from behind. As we hit the hill the second time, el Presidente Aaron was halfway up barking encouragement and I made sure to drive well up the hill, knowing I could pick up a few seconds here.

driving up the hill second time round

We came past the lake again, the four of us strung out a lot further apart than we had been the first time round.

coming past the lake second time around

We were now catching back markers and getting ready for the final push around the back mile. As we hit the 4 mile mark I glanced at my watch so that I would know how fast I covered the last mile afterwards. It read 21:26 which was a pleasant surprise as it looked like I was going to come in comfortably under 27 minutes which I would certainly have taken before the race. This spurred me on for one last push and I was able to hold off an equally fast finishing Dan to secure second spot and a sweet Gore long sleeve for my troubles. I finished in 26:34 which is actually not far off my 26:28 PR from the roads a few years back.

glad to be done

I was happy with the race and it had checked all the boxes I was hoping for at this stage of Myrtle training. I had a decent competitive race outing under my belt and a nice top to go home in. Congrats must go out to the event organizers. For a first time event, everything seemed to go off very smoothly and this will hopefully be the first of many CRC Winter Classic 8ks. The ‘unusual’ distance and terrain to your usual 5k road race fare was very much appreciated and a great addition to the racing calendar.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Looking at the big picture

Training for Myrtle continues apace with no significant roadblocks so far, hitting all my prescribed weekly mileage and long run goals and hitting most of my workout time goals. Since coming back from injury/down time in November my weeks have gone thus- 42,45,51,57,60,61,68,50 (down week),65,70,71,75 and this week will be 50 (down week). I’ve also knocked the 5 extra lbs I was carrying off my frame! Most of those weeks (certainly the last few) have contained two workouts and a long run and also a complete day off most weeks where I have been able to recover and get ready to maximize my training the next few days.

Since my last post I got my final 20 miler in the bag and have run 3 workouts, two of which were actually fairly mediocre, sandwiching a very promising AT effort at the weekend (10m @ 5:45 average). The old me would have been really pissed having run two bad workouts out of three but I’m learning to look at the big picture more and more rather than workouts in isolation. I’ve just come to the end of my heaviest and hardest section of this training block so have been running on pretty tired legs lately but will hopefully be reaping the benefits of this hard work in the upcoming weeks.

This Saturday I am excited to be racing the inaugural CRC Winter Classic 8k Race. It will be my first ‘proper’ race since September and my first in my new Try Sports colors. It will be good to bust some rust and get the competitive juices flowing again. However, as usual Coach inserted a dose of pragmatism and realism when we were discussing the race last week, “I know you want to race well, but I'm more focused on MB and MB only…..”

I’ll give you an update after the weekend, in the mean time I am excited to be getting a massage after work tonight followed by a couple of nice and easy days before Saturday!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Marathon Trials stalking

On Saturday morning Lisa had some errands to run with the kids so I was able to take advantage of a couple of hours 'freedom' and follow the Trials races via Lets Run and Runners World updates. Enjoyed both races immensely and had some personal involvement in the ladies race with three good friends of mine toeing the line. Megan Hovis (who beat Desiree Davila at the last Trials when finishing 12th) was an unfortunate DNF while Caitlin Chrisman and Meagan Nedlo both completed great races which are brilliantly summarized here and here. All three ladies so hard working, dedicated and inspiring to me. I'm a fairly decent runner I guess in the grand scheme of things and dedicate a lot of time and effort to this great sport, but these ladies are at a completely different level to me- after all I'm over 15 minutes away from reaching the pinnacles these girls were able to get to this past weekend! Great job Megan, Caitlin and Meagan...

Sunday to Sunday 90

The advantage of doing back to back weekend long runs is that you can squeeze lots of miles into a week without actually realizing or meaning it! By the time I had jogged home happy with my Sunday workout I worked out that from the previous Sunday I had notched 90 miles, including 2 20 milers and 2 workouts.

Following the Tuesday workout, Wednesday was a recovery day before Thursday's planned 20. Thursday I typically meet up with the Dowd crew for a 9 mile loop that is always good fun and good company, so I decided to incorporate this run into that time. I went to bed at the same time as the kids and forced myself out of bed at 4 for a 4:35 start from the Dowd. After 3 solo miles I looped back to the Dowd for the arrival of my first support crew- Jason, Danielle and Dalena. At 5:30 we circled back again and picked up Shenna and at 6:00 we came back again to meet up with the main crew. I had time to change into some dry clothes and take in a gu before heading out for the last phase of my run. It was a nice and relatively easy way to get over 2.5 hours of work in and worked out so nicely that I'm planning the same deal for my 20 miler this week.

I asked Coach the reasoning behind setting me three 20 milers in successive weeks when I wasn't training for a marathon and was advised that as long as I ran them nice and easy and didn't try to kill myself completing any of them they would be invaluable elements of my training mix for the Half build up. A point I was able to pick up on in the latest Running Times issue
where in an article about Peter Snell it talks about Lydiard's theory of the longer slower runs being a key promoter of fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment. Good stuff!

Friday and Saturday saw another couple of easy days before my next workout on Sunday which was 4 miles, 2 miles, 1 mile, 1 mile all with half mile jog recovery which I completed on the trails of Mcalpine before finishing off at the track. I ran 23:14, 10:49, 5:14 and 5:06 which was pretty much as prescribed although Coach did want me to try and dip under 5 minutes for the final mile, a feat which proved elusive. Regardless it had been another good workout and the culmination of my second successive 70 mile week.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Catching up with Coach!

Tim paid an unexpected visit this week! Though sick as a dog we were able to get some miles in together this morning as I headed to the track for my 2*4*1000 workout (first 4 in 3:20 with 200 jog- felt smooth, second 4 in sub 3:10 with 400 jog- felt hard but still under a semblance of control).

Spada joined us too and was able to help me through the first 800 of each of the first 4 and the first 600 of each of the second 4 while Tim took over from Spada to run the last 400 of each of the second 4 so I was lucky to have good company for this one.

It was great to see Tim again and the conversation flowed and flowed until I realized I had better say my farewells and get to work at some point!

Training continues to flow nicely at the moment, I got a good 2:20 plus run in on Sunday, today's workout, 20 more of the same on Thursday and a hard tempo workout ahead this weekend. Five and a half weeks until Myrtle....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Doing work

This week and the first week of July are always the busiest work weeks of my year and this past week was no exception. I went straight to work after my 16 last Saturday and was working past my girls' bedtimes every day until yesterday. These weeks are always a challenge to my training. My life basically becomes wake, run, work, eat, sleep, repeat. Having said all that I managed to get a good 24*400 workout in on Monday morning and ten mile runs the other mornings leaving me on course to hit 70 miles in the week for the first time in ages even allowing for a day off today. Tomorrow I'll be hopefully bringing up that 70 mark at the end of my planned 20 miler. Meeting up with a good crew so it should be fun and hard work.