Sunday, April 5, 2015

Week 10 and Another PR!

This is the first week that I get to start tapering slightly. At 59 miles total, it wasn’t exactly easy but the scaling back was certainly welcome, especially on Wednesday.  Monday started with 6 miles with some strides. It was pretty warm but I was still able to do 7:53 pace without pushing it too hard. Tuesday was another hot one and it was 9 miles total with 5x600m intervals. It was a hard workout but it went well. I did the intervals at an average of 6:15 pace and the total run was 7:42 pace. My legs felt pretty tired on Wednesday but 11 miles is so much better than the 15 I’ve been doing so I just pressed on. The weather was better than it had been with some breeze and cloud cover. I did 8:03 pace which felt fine during the run but I was pretty spent and completely salt covered afterward. I got up early on Thursday morning to do my 5 mile recovery run. My legs were tired but not completely sluggish. Without the sun, it was cooler but it was in the mid 60s and pretty humid so not great. I did 8:11 pace and then rested up until Saturday morning which was the Capital City Classic 10k.

This is a fast flat race that has been around for something like 30 years. Most agree that it is a great course and perfect for a PR. I actually set my PR there, 41:44, in 2011. 10k is hard for me. It is a long way to run that hard and I get mental and physical fatigue around mile 4 in a good race and even earlier in a bad race. It’s one of those glass half full/half empty type things. If you feel good at the 5k point in a 10k, thinking about being half way done can sound great. It can also sound like torture if you aren’t doing too good. Most 10ks I’ve done end up in the glass half empty category. The Chile Pepper XC is an exception. I typically run faster there than we think I can even though it is XC. I believe it is because of the multi loop course which helps me break things down mentally and the XC spectator atmosphere which I just happen to love. These fast flat courses which are great in theory, tend to get monotonous to me and I just kinda give up around mile 3 or 4. I knew this was an opportunity to PR and I really wanted to capitalize on that for once.  I looked at recent race paces, used some race converting calculators and talked it over with Brian and came up with a realistic goal. I really wanted to try for 6:30s but Brian pointed out that I really shouldn’t be able to do 6:30 flat if I could only do 6:21 on a net downhill 5k. He is right of course. Hillrunner’s race conversion calculator (which doesn’t take into account course elevation) predicted a 41:04 based on my 19:42 5k from a couple of weeks ago. Usually, race conversions over estimate your ability if you are using a shorter race to predict a longer one. I find them to be helpful tools but they must be taken with a grain of salt of course. I often will set more than one goal for a race I really care about. I decided that my main goal was to PR which meant a pace faster than 6:43 but I also wanted to break 41 minutes if I was having a good day which meant at least 6:36 pace. Brian felt that I could do something in the 6:30s but probably on the higher end like 6:38 or 6:39. I decided that I’d go out at 6:40 for the first 2 miles and then try to drop to 6:35 for the next two and then try to do 6:30 for the final 2. This strategy would actually be pretty difficult and I didn’t expect to meet it exactly but I liked the idea of it to guide me. On Friday, I thought a lot about the race and knew that it would come down to me staying focused. I needed a mantra to get me through. In Lincoln, when all my joints were aching but I otherwise felt good and had perfect weather, I said to myself over and over again “If not today, when?”.  That really helped me seize the opportunity. The weather for the Capital City Classic was supposed to be perfect and here I was in great shape and poised for a PR. Overall, I decided to stay calm and keep the first miles relaxed and to remind myself what a 6:40 mile feels like on a training day which would likely be a lot harder than what I would feel on race day. I also decided to remind myself at mile 3 or 4, when things start to hurt, that I’d already done 3 or 4 miles at a fast pace and that it would be a waste and a shame to just throw those away. I got up at 5am on race day, had some coffee and a Cliff bar and then did some final strategizing. I got dressed and the whole family took off for the race. It is only about 15 minutes from here. I already had my chip so I didn’t need to register or pick anything up that morning. Brian wasn’t running but the boys were going to do a kids’ race after mine. I left him with the kids and hit the bathroom and then did an easy 2 mile warm up. After one more bathroom stop, I was ready to go. The race does a loop in the park and then goes out onto the roads so I saw Brian and the boys at the starting line and then again about ¾ of a mile into the race. I built up to the 6:40 pace I wanted slowly and felt good. (My Garmin went off a few feet before each mile marker so the splits I’m going to post are what my Garmin said while in reality, they were probably a few seconds slower.) The first and second miles both came in at 6:36. I was feeling good and had already passed all but the super fast females that I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch. I was racing my watch anyway. In mile 3, I started to pass lots of guys and I did try to speed up a little. The Garmin went off at 6:31 and I pressed on. I was just starting to feel a little tired but it wasn’t anything to worry about. I told myself that I felt tired because I was rockin it and to just keep going. The Garmin had me at 6:31 for mile 4. When I turned back onto the main road, I knew I’d have the wind at my back. It wasn’t a strong wind, but I had noticed it on my way out. I stayed focused and hit mile 5 in 6:28. It was starting to get hard at that point but it should be. I was pretty much alone but I could see a teenage guy in front of me so I worked on catching him. I came up to him at the entrance of the park which probably meant about ¾ of a mile to go. He stayed with me at first but I lost him on a tangent when the road curved. Why do people not run tangents? I really felt like I was slowing down and I did let myself ease up a little. I knew I would easily PR and I thought I could still break 41 so I told myself to take a little breather and then kick it in at 5.7 miles, which would mean about half a mile to go. I hit 5.7 and couldn’t quite muster the motivation to do anything big. I took the final curve and could see the finish. I finally found my kick and pushed. The clock came into view and it said something like 40:30. I watched the seconds tick by and at first I thought I had plenty of time but it is amazing how fast it goes when you don’t want it to! I crossed the line at 40:47. The Garmin had me at 6:26 for the last mile and 6:02 pace for the last .2. The official overall pace was 6:35! Even better was that I had a great race. I felt absolutely fine until mile 4 and didn’t really start hurting until well into mile 5 and I got faster as I went. This is a huge victory for me since I’ve had a little mental block at this distance. I shattered my old PR by 58 seconds! I cooled down for 2.8 miles and ran a total of 11 for the day. 
The boys at the starting line.

The boys both ran the kids’ race and did great. In the past, we’ve tried these runs and they have refused to wear the numbers and had to be carried for a lot of the race. They both did great this time. I ran with Darwin. His race was a little over half a mile. He ran the whole time. I could tell he was tired at the end but he pushed on and even kicked. I teared up several times watching him. There was just so much joy present and it was emotional for me to see him enjoy something that I love so much. Brian ran with Leo and said he did great too. His race was about a third of a mile and he apparently ran the entire distance too. 

Brian had to work Sunday and since it was Easter, we couldn’t find a baby sitter so I had to wait until he got off to do my last long run. He got home a little before 5pm and I set out. It was pleasantly cool-upper 50s and overcast with a breeze. My legs were certainly tired but I’m not sure if this run was harder physically or mentally. The very last long run done at 5pm on a Sunday? That’s just cruel. I threw a couple of hills in the middle of it just for good measure and ended up running 8:12 pace. The hardest part was finding something to eat afterward. It was too late to cook and all 3 Subways in our town were closed. Lame! I ended up with Taco Bell. Gross. Thankfully Starbucks was open.

Next Week’s Plan:
M-General Aerobic + Speed 8mi w/10 x 100m strides
T-VO2max 8mi w/3x1600m@5k race pace
W-General Aerobic + Speed 7mi w/10 x 100m strides 
R-Recovery 5mi 
S-Med Long Run 13mi 
S-Recovery 5mi

At 46 miles total there will be no way that I don’t notice the lessened work load. The mile repeats on Tuesday will be tough because they always are but that’s it, it is the last speedwork. I’m most excited about 7 miles on Wednesday. The least I’ve run on a Wednesday since January 28th is 11 miles. 7 will be amazing! Saturday will bring the last double digit run and then the real taper will start the next week. It is getting so close!

Reading wise I finished The Narrow Road to the Deep North which was long, boring and pretty depressing. This is the first book I’ve read in a long time that I really didn’t like at all. Now I’m reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I like the book but I am so over the WWII novels. Nothing against that particular genre or era but I’m burned out on it. I failed to read the synopsis of this book before I started it or I would have skipped it altogether simply because I can’t do anymore WWII stuff right now.

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