Monday, January 26, 2009

3M Half Marathon Race Report

After nearly throwing in the towel with post-holiday depression, I came back from the time off strong to complete the 3M half marathon yesterday. It was an early cold start and I didn't find my friends until I got to the starting line. Just a lot of chilly runners pacing around in the dark. I wore my hat and gloves and a thermal shirt, which I had taken off before we left the arboretum. I started further up in the pack than I normally do, and was off to the races with a speedy first few miles. This was NOT my plan. My plan was to hang back and run 12 min miles and save my legs for the end of the race. Totally not happening. On the long downhills on Mesa and Spicewood, I would glance at my watch and see my pace steadily below 11 min miles. It was the same feeling when you are up at the slot machines..."I've got this much ... and it can do all these things with it." Consistently I was hitting my pace or exceeding it. Instead of pacing myself, I just used the watch and did the math. After the halfway point I could start calculating..."if I can keep this pace, even if I run 14 min miles for the last 3 I will beat my estimated time." That was entertaining, a little further down the road and slightly more tired and delusional my inner voice reverted to an oft quoted line in our household "It's still good!" It's in the Simpson's episode when Lisa sends Homer's BBQ flying through the air. He picks it up off the ground "It's still good. Just a little slimy" As I was running every time my pace would start to slip (like on that HATEFUL hill by Epoch and the Parlour) I would tell myself, "It's still good, just a little faster."
As I came to the 10 mile marker I came to a moment of reckoning. I was losing speed and becoming fatigued, but I still had 2:30 within my sights. When I came off my holiday training layoff and registered for the race, I was thinking I could be happy with 3 hrs. After a successful 8 miler and 10 miler I looked at my pace predictor which had listed 2:32, and at some point during the week I had boastfully told a running friend I was gonna beat 2:30. At mile 10, I was pretty certain that I was. Even if I ran 12 min miles (a pace I had not slipped to the entire race) then I would indeed. As the street numbers grew lower (51st, 38th, 26th, campus) I realized I could see the finish, it was NOT up another hill. I carefully tried not to look like a stampeding rhinocerous (which is always how I look when I try to pick it up for the finish) but stayed the course I had been on all day. And I did. 2:28 Ta-da! I'm sure the familiar downhill course (made of of parts of my usual tempo run) helped me too. Overall, my first half marathon experience was a positive one. I think it's a good strategy for me to line up with the 10 min milers at the start, I'd rather be pacing off faster folks in front of me than stuck behind the run/walk ladies at the back of the pack. Really my only regret was weather related, and purely beyond my control. I ditched my long sleeve shirt early, and I really could have worn it the whole time. The sun shined briefly on the Burnet rd. stretch, but retreated on North Loop and downright disappeared on Duval. It was cold and gray at the finish and I was getting a chill very fast.
I feel pretty good, minus a few random aches and pains, and have already started scheming on my next race, the Camp Eagle trail runs at the end of Feb. I'm thinking about a trail running training group and racing the Rogue trail series later in the spring, but for now I'm going to think about getting down the stairs at my office building and to yoga yoga in time for some gong therapy. Thanks to all my running friends and their own individual successes on the course yesterday. Namaste.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I cannot believe this..

So I rush home to get 3 miles in on the treadmill before a 7:30 yoga class. But I still had to jack with my ipod and by the time I was ready to run, there was no way I was making the class, which is cool, because I really wanted to run.
When I was putting on my running shoes, I noticed that my ankle was sore where my sock had been all day. On further inspection I noticed a HUGE purple bruise. I was puzzled for a moment, then remembered I had snapped the kick start from my motorcycle back against my ankle bone on saturday night. So 3 full days later, my ankle is f*cked. Totally weird. I blow it off and get on the treadmill.
I really suck at running on the treadmill. My normal turtle pace is like a minute SLOWER on the treadmill. Maybe I need to have someone watch me run? I don't know. I suck at the treadmill so I never run for very long. Last night was no exception. I ran for about a mile and the ankle really hurt but I figured eh, its a bruise, suck it up. After a half mile, my ass/hip area felt like someone was pushing on it with the fat end of a pool cue. Something from my ankle bone was irritating my hip and IT band. Lovely. I limped along for another half mile and called it quits after 1 mile.
Completely stubborn about sticking to my running schedule I suited up this morning to attempt the 3 miler again, this time in the cold. (32 degrees) It's hard for me to pass up an opportunity to bust out all my fancy technical gear and run in the cold. I can tolerate cold way better than heat and when I'm when I am sitting on my back porch in August, waiting for the temp to fall below 100 so I can go for a run, I will be glad I got my run in when it was 30.
I shuffled through the run. It felt great to be out in the cold, and I have already noticed an improvement in my lung function since I saw the allergist on Monday. With the pain in my foot I just couldnt get my stride to open up. I still had the throbbing pain in my ankle and the corresponding pool cue feeling in my hip but I pressed on enjoying the cold and the winter sunrise as I headed eastward, home. I'm going to put heat on the bruise today, keep it elevated at my desk and do some (seated) kundalini at home, in hopes that I can get it to behave and finish my last few training runs in before the race.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

back at it

So after shaking the doubts and demons created by holiday overindulgence, I got back to training last week. I neatly completed my 3, 6 and 8 mile runs. I'm also getting the hang of the Garmin. When it wants to it gives you pretty useful data. I can see my splits for each mile. I've learned to take the pace times when actually running with a grain of salt, since there can be a delay. It was actually this phenomenon that caused me to stop running altogether. You run up a hill and your pace drops to like 13 min miles, then you run down the hill and you are haulin ass and it still gives the uphill pace. I really let this get in my head, but now I am over it and I realized that it's right more than it's wrong. Like on Saturday, my feet were moving at the same speed, but the nasty headwind and long uphill run back home had me standing still. The half in two weeks will be downhill with a tail wind, so I feel like the brutal uphill run was good training. I took off pretty much from Thanksgiving to New Years so I've got to make the few runs I can squeeze in between now and the race as productive as possible. Having taken a break my legs do feel much fresher, I was wiped out from my long run, but no serious soreness in the usual spots (knees, feet and IT band.) Of course my lethargy could also be attributed to the record breaking cedar pollen count (11,000)!!!! I'm looking forward to each and every one of my runs from now until Jan. 25 when I run my first half marathon. I'm even looking forward to getting this race over with and having some unstructured time to do some mountain biking and some trail running. I really wanted to do a trail run for this weekend's 10 miler (Barton Springs to Sculpture, anyone???)but I am not willing to risk running this fun and easy half marathon with stabbing screwdriver pain in my foot like the last 3 miles of the dirty du.
Since I took the long lay off realistically, I shouldn't get my heart set on a particular time, but as a runner, it is my obligation to be completely OCD, sooooo I am hoping to run it in about 2:30 or 2:40. The course actually follows my Thursday evening "quality" workout course, then follows the route I take when I ride my bike downtown. I've run the entire course many times before both directions (uphill and down) and in my pre-running days, I rode the course on my cruiser with a friend who was racing. It's a local race with lots of familiar faces. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun.