Sunday, February 24, 2013

You Don't Spit...or Run Fast...Into The Wind

Yesterday my friend Dan and I made the drive up to the quaint, artsy town of La Conner, WA...

Boy, that sentence didn't quite sound the way I intended it to. Let's try again, this time with more testosterone:

Yesterday, Dan and I kissed our wives goodbye and drove his massive SUV to the rustic seaside fishing village of La Conner, while drinking our strong, black coffees and discussing the ins and outs of home-brewing beer.

Trying too hard now, I know.

So...we ran a 10k there (the Smelt Run 5k/10k). We arrived with plenty of time to get our race bibs, use the facilities, and run a little over 2 warmup miles in the sprinkles and wind. By race time, the rain had stopped, but the wind had increased.

The course was nice and flat. The first three miles flew by. I held back and was running at a very comfortable and sustainable pace, but just past the 5k mark, the wind became an issue. It was a very persistent side wind which, after the turnaround, suddenly became a frustrating headwind. I intentionally backed off the pace during mile four, but by mile five, it wasn't so intentional any more. The course turned a couple of times, still either into the wind, or with the wind coming from the side. There were a couple of stretches where I had to lean while running so as not to get blown over.

Not great conditions for a fast race.

The final mile was brutal. Most of it was directly into what I would estimate to be a 20-25 mph constant wind. By the time I reached the last turn that lead to the finish, I was beat. I had very little kick left.

By the numbers:
Final time - 44:39
Splits: 7:04, 7:08, 7:07, 7:12, 7:17, 7:16, 1:32 (for final .2)
5k splits: 22:10/22:29
Average pace: 7:11

I was hoping to break 44 minutes. Minus the wind, I think I would have had a pretty good chance of doing so.

I haven't seen the official results yet, but I'm pretty sure I finished 32nd overall and 8th or 9th in my very tough age group (40-49).

My aforementioned friend Dan ran an amazing PR of 39:29 (his first sub-40 10k) to win our age group.

Next up will be a 5k PR attempt in Arlington, on March 23rd. Guess I better keep doing some speed work.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ye Olde Myle Tyme Tryle

After running a non-satisfying 10k race on January 12th (Nookachamps, in Mount Vernon, WA), I decided to write myself a 6-week mini training cycle, in preparation for my next scheduled race; the Smelt 10k, in La Conner, WA on February 23rd. The first three weeks was my base period, building up to just over 34 miles (last week), then backing off on the mileage in favor of some added speed work the final three weeks.

This week is the first speed week, meaning—in this case—track time.

I hadn't run on a track since August 4th, when I ran a slow 3 miles with my sister, before throwing in a 2:58 800m for good measure. About a week before that, I ran a mile time trial on a different track in 6:26. Since then, though, it's been mostly roads (and, recently, my favorite hilly dirt & gravel trail once again.)

I woke up yesterday to a very blustery morning. No rain, but the wind was gusty, and I wasn't sure I wanted to try to run a fast time in those conditions. Fortunately, the wind died down considerably, so I ventured to the track.

After running two clockwise warmup miles on the track, I changed shoes (from my Brooks Defyance 3's into my Brooks Pure Cadence), shed my warmup jacket and long-sleeve tech shirt and stood ready to test the watch in just my shoes, shorts, visor, tank top and gloves. A bit chilly, but streamlined and unencumbered.

I've been running well lately, but haven't done any real speedwork, so my expectations were rather vague. My dream goal was to break 6 minutes, but I knew I wasn't ready for that. I thought that maybe I could go 6:0-something, but even that was wishful thinking. Realistically, I thought I'd have a shot at 6:15.

There was a bit of a tailwind on the back stretch, meaning I'd have to finish each lap running into a headwind. I intended to run my 400m splits as evenly as possible. I crossed the line for the first time in 1:32, which felt hard but relatively sustainable. Lap two came in at 1:35, for a 3:07 half. Doing the math in my head, I knew I'd have to finish strong to even break 6:15. Lap three also came in at 1:35, but I knew I had a little left in the tank. Not much, but I figured I could kick the final 100m to maybe run even 800m splits.

Not having run fast recently, a full-out sprint to the finish felt awkward, but I managed to close out the final lap in 1:28, for a 3:04 second half and a final time of 6:11. Not my dream time, but still 15 seconds faster than last summer's mile time trial, so I'll take it.

After walking a quick 400m, I added 2x800m at 5k race pace...or that's what I intended. I clocked 3:17 and 3:15, both a bit quick. I closed out the session with a clockwise cooldown mile, for five miles total on the track.

The day after, I'm a bit sore in a couple of areas (calves, hip flexors and upper glutes), but otherwise I feel fine.

I fully intend to break 6 minutes in the mile before this year is over.

I've always loved running on the track. I enjoy the roads and trails, of course, but there's something about the track that gets my competitive juices flowing. The variables are minimized (aside from the wind), and it's you against the clock...or other opponents. Boring? I can see how some runners would think so, but being a numbers geek, the track suits me as well as other venues. Maybe it's also the nostalgia factor that appeals to me.

And since I've made this public already, I might as well post it here. At nearly 46 years of age, I still apparently don't have the maturity to leave my high school 5:01 mile in the past. I'm going to take a shot at the stars to see if I can hit the moon (or, tilt at one big windmill, if you will.) One of my goals is to run a sub-5 minute mile by the age of 50. That gives me four years. If I can train consistently and without injury (those are HUGE "if's"), then I believe I can do it. Even if things go perfectly, it'll be incredibly difficult. I do have a couple of things in my favor, though, that I didn't have as a high school runner. I'm physically stronger now, and I know quite a bit more about training, nutrition and recovery. If I fail to reach the goal, I won't be disappointed, but I'm going to give it a full effort. I won't devote the entire four years to doing track intervals, but I'll gradually build a (hopefully) huge base and create "seasons" for myself, during which I'll focus more on speed. It should be fun! If I stay healthy, and even if I fail to reach the goal, I'll be a much faster, fitter runner.

As always, I'll post the incredibly exciting updates right here.

Run happy, my friends!