Sunday, October 21, 2012

Army Ten Miler Race Recap

10 Mile Race in sub-59:00

2 mile warmup?
10 Mile race in 1:00:26 w/ splits of 5:43, 5:51, 5:49, 6:00, 6:05, 6:08, 6:12, 6:11, 6:14, 6:09
18th female
1 mile cool down

In 2011, Meagan and I used this race as a sendoff party for her move from Charlotte to Boston.  She felt out of shape and I felt fit.  The tables turned this year, however, in the attitudes going into the race.  Last year, my training had been going well and I was confident I could break 59:00. On the flip side, Meagan, as she outlines in her recap, felt unfit and unprepared to break 60:00.  This year, I felt unprepared and I knew Meagan was going to have a huge PR based on her training (which she did!).  Why didn't I feel ready for this race?  Well, my iron took a plummet in late August, and I spent most of September focused on staying positive while struggling through most workouts.  This took every ounce of mental energy and focus to stay positive, so when I say that I wasn't ready for this race, I mean it from a mental perspective.

Fortunately, on Monday this week, I was greeted with the good news that my iron supplementation program had worked its magic, and that my iron had reached one of the highest levels I've ever seen.  That information alone was a huge positive influence on my mindset going into the Army Ten Miler.  At least I knew that my breathing wouldn't be an issue.  So, that being said, I set my sights on breaking 59:00, in a similar time as to what Meagan ran last year. I kept looking at Cherry Blossom 2012 as my motivation because I surprised myself to run a 58:38 when I thought I wasn't in shape.

After a seven hour drive on Thursday, Garrett and I had two whole days in the district to enjoy with Garrett's sister Elyse, who lives in Cleveland Park and works at Georgetown as a nurse.  Having Elyse as our host not only made it much more fun, but it also greatly reduced the expensive nature of the trip. We picked up packets at the Expo on Friday, browsed one of the Smithosonian museums on the mall, and slept for 11 hours on Friday night.  On Saturday, we enjoyed the beautiful fall weather by eating outside at Open City with Meagan and Jilane and taking a stroll around the zoo, where I saw several of Cicero's long lost cousins like Tiger, Lion, Lioness, Cougar, and Cheetah.  By the time dinner came around, I was ready for the race to be there.

This year, we wanted to avoid the metro as much as possible since we almost missed the start of the race last year.  So, Garrett and I listened to George Banker's instructions for the elites, and parked in the Hayes Street Pentagon parking lot with a volunteer pass.  Somehow, Garrett and I managed to make it there without a hitch--since some of the roads were closed, we had to map out a different route in a city we don't know.  It worked.  Shortly thereafter, Meagan got dropped off and we hung out in the car, while I insisted that we take pictures to document the trip.

Soon it was time for us to make our way through the masses of people and through the baggage check. Garrett wasn't allowed through since he didn't have a race bib and I hope that we would find him eventually.  Meagan and I began our warmup together and discussed a brief race plan, which was to go out in 5:45-5:50 and then for me to try to maintain that while Meagan probably picked it up.  Right when we finished cooling down, Garrett found us as he was exiting a porta-john, so Meagan and I dropped our pants and gave it to him to carry until the finish.  I did some hip swings, and immediately felt my hamstring pull with tightness as soon as my leg reached hip level.  Not good.  I tried to disregard the feeling and headed to the start.

Once the cannon went off, Meagan shot forward like a bat out of hell and I was left in the dust, wondering how fast we really were going.  I kept myself a safe distance from Meagan, maybe ten to twenty meters back, hoping that what my body was telling me--that we were way too fast--was right.  While she thought that I was starting conservatively, I was thinking, "damn, she's going out for a 5k."  Sure enough, I almost couldn't see Meagan when she came through the 1 mile mark, and I came through entirely too fast as well in 5:43.  Mistake #1

Through the next two miles, I was doing great.  I relaxed into a steady cadence of 5:50 for miles 2/3, and then missed the 4th miler marker, but came through 5 miles in 29:30, which meant that I had slowed down considerably. I told myself that if I just maintained 6:00 pace, I would still break 60, which would still be very respectable given all that's been going on.  I felt pretty optimistic at that point.  Then, things changed.  My leg didn't want to cooperate and I felt the tightness seize the left side of my leg in a way that prevented me to get the leg lift I needed.  The last 5 miles were a very slow, painful death for me.  Every time I passed a race clock, the seconds crept closer and closer to being above my goal pace.  I was hitting over 6:10s.  Dozens of men passed me; eight women passed me.  it was demoralizing.  I couldn't help but think that my last 10k at Twin Cities Marathon was faster than this.  I questioned:  What has happened to me?  Am I the same runner that I was 2 years ago?  Where is my confidence?  Clearly, not in this race.  I fought every urge within my body to drop out.  A part of me wanted to see the (in)famous Grim Reaper as we made it onto the interstate ramp, so I kept going. I even encouraged one guy that had helped me a lot and finally made it to the finish, not out of breath at all.  Good, at least I knew it wasn't an aerobic thing.  I looked for Meagan and hoped that at least she made up for my lackluster performance, which she did, setting a HUGE pr and placing 6th overall.

What I love about this blog is that it allows me to reflect on my running, both in training and racing.  To be clear, I'm not totally injured.  I can still run.  My leg is like 95% healthy, but I need to be 100% healthy to be race ready.  My butt doesn't have enough strength, okay.  But in the end, I think that 95% of my race result today stemmed from my mentality. Having low iron always wears me out physically, but even more so mentally. It's a game against yourself, believing that you are still in great shape even though your workouts would indicate otherwise.  Over the past couple of months, instead of practicing positive self-talk, I have been practicing negative self-talk.  My mind isn't in race shape, and that's the bulk of the issue.  The other slim issue is getting my hamstring back up, but I don't think that is where my attention should be focused right now.  It should be focused on getting back into the mindset where I am fired up to race and where I believe that my training has been quality.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pre-Race Workout

3 mile tempo at 6:00-5:50 + 4x400m

3.5 mile warmup
3 mile tempo in 6:10, 5:56, 5:56 + 4x400m with 1:00 rest.
3 mile cool down

4 miles in the pm

This felt harder than it should have, but I've had other workouts where I could barely break 6:00 pace before a race and then really crushed the race, so I walked away feeling pretty good about my effort, and confident about the prospect of a race in DC.  Caleb, Laurie, Eric and I all met up at the Speed Loop way before the sun came up, and started the workout without much thought.  For the first mile, we were all in a comfortable little pack, talking a little too much, and it was eerily similar to my Army Ten Miler pre-race workout last year.  Except, this year we went through the first mile much more slowly and then Caleb and Laurie took off and I tried to hang on desperately, but my leg wouldn't do it.  Then I hovered around the same pace for the last mile, watching Caleb and Laurie run smoothly about 30 meters ahead.  After a half mile jog, we started the 400s and again, my legs felt heavy to lift, but I completed them feeling strong.  On the cool down, I enjoyed the cooler weather and felt really positive about the weekend.

Then, in the afternoon, I felt my hamstring revert back to where it had been a couple weeks ago--exceptionally tight.  When I really thought things were starting to get better in my hammy, a little workout went ahead and threw it all off.  It really all comes down to the fact that I was slack on my glute exercises. Like most runners, I've got a weakness in my left glute, which is causing my hamstring to do a lot more work than necessary, therefore causing my hamstring some wear and tear.  Hopefully it will hold up for Army Ten Miler!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week in Review

92 Miles
2 Doubles
22 Mile Long Run in 2:40
3 (Athlete) PRs

After enjoying a low key night out with our guests Thomas and Michelle on Saturday, I met up with Phil and a slew of other guys who were along for the ride for just an hour on Sunday morning at McAlpine.  I had a long run on the schedule between 2:40-2:50 in duration, which was really no big deal since I completed 23 miles a couple weeks ago at McAlpine.  Of course, I set out with the expectation that I would run at least 2:45.  Fueled by the fact that three of my guys set PRs yesterday (David -- 3+ min PR at 15k, Billy 30+ sec at 15k, and Brad - 2+ min at HM), I set off with a respectable pace after the second mile.  I was ready to make this long run feel awesome like it had with Laurie a couple weeks ago.  We ran 700-7:20 for the majority of the run, with a few slower miles when we turned around at the 4 mile mark. By the time 2:20 hit on my watch, I couldn't stop looking at my splits because the effect of running a workout on Wednesday and then again on Friday was beginning to take a toll on my body.  At this point, I was left alone with Charlie and I felt bad for my lack of ability to hold a coherent conversation, but it was all I could do to put one leg in front of the other.  Despite a fuel stop at halfway for some Honey Stinger chews and water, I still felt weak and lightheaded.  I willed myself to get to my car, which I did--just at 2:40 and as my Garmin beeped for 22 miles.  I stopped immediately and chugged a half gallon of orange Gatorade...not joking.  I still felt pretty awful and almost declined breakfast with T&M, but after 10 minutes, I think the gatorade started to kick in and I felt much better and met them at Owen's Bagel and Deli.

The main thing to remember is that my body was tired from two solid efforts back-to-back with less than optimal recovery days.  While I've spent the rest of the day feeling rather awful, I feel really positive about this week's events and am happy that I can at least finish out my week with a solid long run. Looking back at my past two marathon cycles, I've never done a run over 22 miles, and definitely not more than one run at 22 miles.  So far in this cycle, I've done 22 miles, 19 miles, 23 miles, 20 miles, and 21.5 miles.  Clearly I'm gaining something from these long runs and am looking forward to seeing the results manifest into something positive.  

On Friday, I was able to get some bloodwork done at LabCorp and I am eagerly awaiting the results.  I'm crossing my fingers that the results will come back with an improvement in my levels, which will likely serve as a catalyst to put me into a different mindset.

Friday, October 12, 2012

3x2 Mile Bust

3x2 Mile with 2:00 Rest at 11:30-1:40 (5:45-5:50 pace)

4 mile warmup
3x2 mile at:
5:55/5:45 (11:40) 2 min jog rest
6:08/5:57 (12:05) 3 min jog rest
5:56/6:08 (12:04)
1 mile cool down for 11+ miles total

I am really trying to stay positive here, but workouts like this really make me wonder what the hell is going on.  I've been on a strict iron supplementation program for the past four weeks and would expect that I could run 5:45 pace without sucking air.  Well, I can't.  Halfway through the second interval, I fought everything within myself not to stop and walk.  My muscles wanted it, my lungs wanted, and my mind almost wanted it.  But I didn't stop. I made myself push through it until the end, and then I took a longer rest between 2 and 3 so that my breathing could get back under control.

I would say that perhaps I went out too fast, but my first interval was practically all downhill from Mint to Morehead.  Hooray, I can run 5:45 pace going downhill.  I used to be able to run 5:45 pace on flat surface without thinking.  I can't image that it's just my iron that is affecting me right now, but whatever it is, it's not helping my frame of mind.  I've got Army Ten Miler in 9 days and I have no idea how to make a race plan if I don't even know what my body (mind?) can handle right now.  First plan of action is to head into LabCorp later today to get blood work done and see if my iron is finally higher.  If not, then I'll have some reevaluating to do.

The only thing I can think of is that I really need to slow everything down, kind of like what I did before Twin Cities.  For workouts like this, I would start at Marathon Pace for the first interval (6:10, 10k (5:50) pace for the second one, and like 5k-10k pace for the third one (542).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wave Tempo

10 Mile Wave in 5:55/6:25

2.3 mile warmup
10 Mile Wave in 5:55/6:45
2 mile cool down for 14.3 miles total
2:58/3:00 (5:58)
3:23/3:20 (6:43)
2:56/2:57 (5:53)
3:30/3:30 (7:00)
3:03/2:59 (6:02)
3:20/3:16 (6:36)
2:55/2:59 (5:54)
3:24/3:20 (6:44)
2:56/3:00 (5:56)
3:40/3:20 (7:00)

Aaron had a similar workout to what Mark had on my schedule, so I decided to go down to his neck of the woods and run with him at McMullen in the morning.  While my confidence is still coming back, I really practiced going into this workout with some positive energy and trust that I could accomplish a solid effort of work for 10 miles.  Fortunately, my mental planning paid off because I was able to hit a pretty decent wave workout. Contrast this to two weeks ago, when I set out to do a 10 mile tempo and really just ended up running a 5 mile tempo at slower than my goal marathon pace.  Figures how a 20 degree drop in temperature and 14 days of iron supplementation can really come through.  While I do feel like my iron is probably coming back to a fairly normal level, I still don't know for sure and my times still aren't reflecting that I'm 100% better.  Typically for this type of workout, my "slower" portion would be between 6:20-6:30 and I was a bit off of that today.  However, I am excited by my faster splits because this was the first time that I've run 6:00 pace and had it feel easy.  In fact, for the very first interval, I thought that maybe we were too slow, but we came through right on pace for 6:00.  Despite the small improvement, it's enough to keep me smiling.  Looking forward to my next workout 3x2 mile later this week.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Week in Review

~80 Miles
8 Runs
19 mile long run with 2 miles uptempo
2 Days in Nashville

After completing mile repeats on Tuesday, I set out on Friday to do a 19.5 mile long run at 5:15AM with Matt, Phil, Derrick, Brad and Charlie. We went on the greenway before picking up Brad and company and in those first 70 minutes, I felt like a million bucks.  The run went downhill after that.  My legs felt heavy and sore, and I account it fully to the asphalt.  My last three long runs have been perfect, perhaps due to the soft terrain at McAlpine.  I definitely don't like running long downtown as it results in much more wear and tear on my legs.  After the unforgiving long run, Garrett, John and I embarked on the seven hour road trip to Nashville, TN to reunite with several Wake Forest friends to celebrate the marriage of Molly and Jared, some of our former Wake teammates.  Most importantly, I was able to reunite with Merry, who was just three days back from a two year stint in the the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer.  With the help from Merry and Liz, I was able to get in 90 minutes of running in the morning in the frigid (for October) temperatures on the greenway of downtown Nashville.  Obviously, with a wedding and lots of driving, it made sense to make this a down week, and I did just that.  I didn't double on Sunday just so that I could say I ran 85 miles this week.  Instead, I got a respectable 80 miles, and felt good doing it.  It's late on Sunday night so I'm off to get some much needed rest...And I get to sleep in tomorrow since it's a holiday!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

MIle Repeats

6xmile with 2:00 rest at 5:26-5:34

2.5 mile warmup
6xmile with 2:30 jog rest
5:43 (2:30) (downhill)
5:47 (2:13) (turns)
5:48 (2:18)
5:47 (2:24)
5:48 (2:34)
2 mile cool down

This was an early morning workouts with at least 10 other people at the Dilworth Speed Loop.  Waking up at 5AM isn't nearly as rough when you know that you will be joined by several friends. 

Laurie, Caleb, Spada, Dalena, and Jason all met at the speed loop to do this workout together while several other people were running loops as well, just at varying speeds and distances than us.  While the fellowship was fantastic, the weather was weary.  Dismal clouds blanketed the sky and sealed all the humidity to the ground, making it for a hot and humid run in weather that felt eerily similar to August instead of October. 

We out with David and Billy, who were running 3x2 mile, and instead of going out at the goal of 6:00 pace, we went out at a 5:43, which immediately put my in oxygen depletion and gasp mode.  Instead of turning around on the workout, I slowed up my pace and tried to relax my breathing pipe to ensure I was getting as much oxygen as possible.  While my times weren't blazing fast, my consistency was there, and that's all I can ask for right now. I know that my fitness is there, it's just hiding right now through the cover of my ferritin. 

Laurie and Caleb absolutely killed this workout, so after the third interval, Spada and I trailed behind those two, with Dalena a couple of seconds back from us.  I look forward to when I can keep up with Laurie on our workouts!