Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pre Skyline update

Training has continued to carry on pretty smoothly since the 10k. Last week I got my currently customary 60 miles in, including a longer run, a decent 5*800/4*400 workout and a second place on the challenging Run For The Money 5k course in 16:40.

This week I worked out on Tuesday on the Dilworth Speed Loop (mile-5:03, 2ks- 3:12/3:10, 4 quarters (70/70/70/72)) and the rest of the days have been easy 45-50 minute runs. Tuesday was harder work than I would have liked but a pep talk from Coach has banished all doubts that I can go sub 16 on Saturday out of my mind. Since I first went under 16 in 2005 I have managed to break that barrier at least once every year since apart from injury ravaged 2009 and this coming Saturday will provide as good an opportunity as any to notch my 2012 effort.

Last year I ran 15:53 at this race (having run 16:55 at Run For the Money a couple of weeks earlier) so the precedent is there. This race also signifies the start of the Grand Prix Series and anticipation is high that this plus the new cash prizes being offered will bring out a fairly competitive field. I’m looking forward to it!

Beyond that I need to start thinking about taking some down time. I’ve been hammering it pretty hard since December when I started training for Myrtle so I definitely need to recharge the batteries soon if I want to start thinking about running a fast Fall Marathon. Twilight 5k falls 13 days after Skyline but after that the 3rd GP race does not take place until the start of June so I’m thinking that Twilight may be a good swan song for this current block. Coach is in town next week so we’re going to kick around a few ideas about how to approach the Summer

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A surprising result

Saturday was a good day. The first good news came at about 7:28am just before the start of the race when it looked as though some fast friends of mine from Asheville had not made the trip after all so the cash available for placing in the top three appeared to be more up for grabs than anticipated. The second good news came about 35 minutes later when I broke the tape (for the first time ever in a race!) and realized that I had run just three seconds slower than my time at Ukrops two weeks previously on what on paper is a much faster course. I got out well with fellow high 30s year old Aaron and we ran through the mile together before I was able to gradually pull away and press on solo for the victory. Aaron followed closely behind in a new PR himself!

I’m feeling pretty fit right now. After the higher mileage and longer workouts and runs that I was doing for my Half Marathon and then 10k training I am consciously scaling back my mileage and ‘time on feet’ in favor of shorter faster runs and faster 5k type workouts. As a consequence my legs are feeling better on a day to day basis and I am getting some good quality miles in. This will be my continued approach for the foreseeable future.

A significant factor in my relatively better performance at this week’s 10k was no doubt the weather. Whereas Richmond had been overcast and humid, Saturday in Charlotte was absolutely beautiful, a sunny, crisp Spring morning with no wind at all.

Oh, the vagaries of Mother Nature. Fast forward to Monday and we all know what happened in Boston this year! If 2011 will go down as having some of the fastest possible conditions for this race then it was of course the complete opposite for this year’s race. I started feeling sorry for my many friends who had trained so hard for this race towards the end of last week when the forecast started indicating the possibility of some awful heat arriving on race day and it was with resigned expectations that I signed up online to track them all on Monday morning. Sure enough it was sad to see most of my friends having inevitably difficult races on Monday. Marathons are ridiculously hard races anyway, adding heat into the mix is downright unfair and needless to say time goals went out of the window. Notable shout outs I have to include are to Jay Holder, 2:41 finisher and, incredibly, 96th overall, at Boston... and also to Dalena Mae Custer (Run DMC) who actually was speeding back up towards the end of the race, finishing in 2:58 high and an unbelievable 24th overall. But to mention just these two performances would be harsh on my other friends who battled away yesterday. Heroes and heroines all!! Proud of you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Running to stand still

In advance of Saturday’s upcoming 10k I looked back at my training diary around the time I last ran this race in 2006 (my first full year in the US) so that I could get some perspective for this year’s race. I came 5th in 33:41. Based on my 33:01 that I ran on a flat and fast course with competition a couple of weeks ago and the fact that I am ‘training through’ this race, that time would seem to be a pretty reasonable reflection of what I should be able to run this year considering the relative difficulty of Saturday’s course.

However, reading my training leading up to the 2006 race brought it home to me how much my training has changed over the years! The week before the race I commented after my ‘long run’ of 11 miles “good 40 mile week!” Yes that’s right folks, 40 miles was pushing the envelope for me back in the day!

The year I was probably my fastest and fittest ever was 2005, just before I moved over to the US. As you can see in the side bar on the left, most of my‘shorter’ PRs were set at this time. A brief glance at my training during that time reveals an average weekly mileage of around 30, with 9 miles considered a long run. I was running 6 days a week but literally every other day was a hard workout! On top of this my ‘easy’ days in between were usually 6 minute miling.

This, of course, was in the days when I had just given up playing soccer competitively and I was new to all this running lark but still I think it makes interesting reading. I wonder what I would have been capable of running then if I was doing the same training as I do now. Would I have been faster then and faster now? Who knows? All I do know is that I spend a lot more darn time running now than I did then and I’m basically running the same times! Oh the joys of ageing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Post Ukrops recovery week

Last week was a fairly low key recovery week. From Monday to Friday I managed to hit my four fave CRC group runs all in one week (Case of the Mondays, Miners I, Thursday Dowd, Miners II) covering about 40 miles in all. Saturday I was ready to stretch the legs again, so I decided that I would combine my long run and workout in one go. (Note that Coach has left me to my own devices for the next few weeks so he won’t have to associate himself with anything I decide to do workout/racing wise for a while!!)

I headed to the Race Fest 10k course in Southpark (in anticipation of racing there next weekend) and proceeded to run the somewhat hilly course twice with a 1 mile jog back to the start line in between. What I had originally anticipated being a ‘steady state’ run actually turned into more of a tempo effort as I covered the first loop in 36:30 and the second in 36:34 (5:53 pace). I was pretty happy with how this turned out as I was wearing trainers not flats and didn’t look at the watch at all during the second loop. The only downside of the run was that it reminded me what a brute of a course this will actually be to race on next week, miles 2,3 and 6 in particular! I’ll have no expectations for this race other than to race competitively. There are rumors of cash prizes for the top three but I already know of two faster guys than me that will be toeing the line so I may be fighting for the scraps. Whatever, it should be a good race and it will be nice to be racing in Charlotte again.

That left me on 55 miles for the week and I had earmarked an arbitrary total of 60 as my goal for the week. I ended up doing the requisite 5 as a recovery run later in the day which meant that I could keep Sunday completely free for Easter fun with the fam and large slices of sports watching (UK soccer and US Masters).

The next few weeks will be very busy on the racing front and I’ll try and put the fitness I have gained training for Myrtle and Richmond into good use and have some fun taking on some lower key races. After Race Fest I’ll be doing my annual philanthropic visit to Gastonia for the Run For The Money 5k and the week after that the Skyline 5k. I’m targeting a fast race at Skyline as last year’s race provided me with easily my best road 5k performance of the year and it should be a highly competitive race with cash prizes this year for the first time and it being the first race of the Grand Prix series. With that race in mind I am going to try and hone some speed over the next three weeks, planning the same workout each week leading up so I can get a gauge of where I am leading into the race. Fun times…

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Well at least I ran faster than last year....

I like cutting things close. You may recall that in my last goal race I scraped a new PR by 1 second. Well, in my second big race of the year I beat my time from the same race last year by, yes you guessed it, one whole second! Despite initial disappointment that I hadn't quite dipped under 33 minutes, never mind got anywhere close to my initial target of 32:30, my feelings coming out of this race are definitely positive.

I raced well and enjoyed the race much more this year and had fun running alongside the two leading elite women for much of the race (beating both in the end). My 5k splits were not too disproportionate (16:26/16:35) and I placed 19th out of 40 plus thousand, first in my age group. I've raced three major races in Richmond and won my age group each time which is a record I'm pretty proud of actually!

BUT, the fact is I should have run faster. Mile one was close to 5:10, miles four and five were 5:25/5:24. Again I was a little aggressive out of the gate and paid the price later. I know I'm frustrating my Coach with this approach as the training I am doing is being compromised by my inability to get my pacing strategy right on race day. Always learning.....

That being said, the plan initially had been to shut it down after this race and chill out for a while. Well, having come out of the race feeling pretty decent, I've decided to prolong this cycle for just a few more weeks in order to try and take advantage of my current fitness and run fast at the Skyline 5k at the end of April. So an 'easy' recovery week this week before hitting it hard again next week. Excited.