Sunday, September 30, 2012

Brooksie Way Initial Report

In my 3rd half marathon and 2nd Brooksie Way Half, I finished in 1:49:09. This was a PR by 7 minutes and beat my goal of 1:50. More to report in the near future!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Waiting

Tom Petty sang about it back in '81 and it still holds true. The waiting is the hardest part.

There is a lot of waiting going on in our household lately. Top on the hit parade is this little lady:

Cute little baby face

 Baby girl is due in about a month. Mama is ready to go any time she's ready to make an appearance.

The other thing I'm waiting for is the Brooksie Way Half Marathon, which is on Sunday, September 30. I've been ready to go for a couple weeks now, and even more so after the past week.

Last Sunday, we had the Brooksie Way practice run. As I hadn't run the course since last year and because I hadn't run 13.1 miles since March (my recent long runs have been in the 10 mile range), I thought it would be a good idea to participate. I ran with a few people from my half marathon team from work. My goal was to run the course "easily" with steady pace, and that is what I did. Other than on a couple of Brooksie's infamous hills, I was never really breathing hard and just concentrated on my pace and strides. I was helping a teammate finish strong, so I tried to go up hills at a good pace and slowed on the down hill to let her catch up. It seemed to work pretty well as she set an unofficial PR in a practice run (and hopes to drop about 5 minutes next Sunday).

We ran the course in a little over 2:10, which is about 20 minutes longer than I hope to run next Sunday. I think I made the correct decision to not push too hard and not race the thing. I was able to get the confidence that the distance shouldn't be a huge issue, my legs got the work and I relearned the course.

I am as ready as I think I can be for this race. With Princess C on the bike Tuesday after work. I had a great 5k run. I felt really strong, my legs felt strong - I can only hope I get something close to that on race day. This morning I had a decent run as well, doing half of a half marathon at about 30 sec / mile off race pace. There is a balancing act between staying fresh and keeping "in practice" and not doing too much and injuring or straining myself. I really wish the race was tomorrow as I'm having "taper madness", even if it is only for another week. I need to get through the week, do as well as the race as I am capable of, and get ready for baby time. I think the race is keeping me occupied and I'm not as anxious about baby girl and the whole birthing process (believe me, I know I have the easy part in this) as I otherwise would be.

After the race, the rest of the racing calendar for the year is blank. I plan to race, but will do so as our family schedule allows. I still have 5k and 10k goals to hit for the year, but if mama, baby or the kiddies need me, running races is a very minor consideration.

The waiting is the hardest part, but I think I'm ready for it all. Ready as anybody can be. Sing it Steven!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Camp Lael Race and Good Tempo Run

There are two races that I plan to do every year because they involve causes my family and I support. The first is the Open Door Julie Run, which was in June and the Camp Lael 5k Run / Walk, which was on Saturday. A 5k race wasn't really in line with my half marathon training at this point, but I had no intention of missing it. This is the only race ever where I was the defending champion and I don't know if I'd ever have the chance to run a race like that again.

Out of the 30 or so person field this year, there were only 3 "competitive runners" including myself - everyone else either ran sporadically or walked. The other two were both men in their mid 20's and both looked to be in good shape.

I went to the race expecting not to need to run hard, based on last year's experience, but had a race on my hands. One of the guys was doing what looked like wind sprints in the parking lot and my wife said "Uh-oh, you're going to have to run". She was right.

The course was 3 laps around the camp, for the first loop, we were all basically together. I didn't feel like I "had it" at all, but I was holding on. Mid-way through the second lap, the young tall guy and I pulled away from the other guy. It was obvious to me that the tall guy was stronger than I on this day (he was the one running around before the race). I just tried to hang close and hoped that he'd tire. On the last half of the last lap, I noticed he was having some issues and decided to pass him on the downhill of the second to last hill and did. I tried to speed up enough to put some distance between him and me, but he was the fastest uphill runner I've ever seen and caught me on the last hill. He got a few seconds on me and despite my furious finish were I nearly caught him, he edged me out to win.

I wasn't "on" today and have been training for longer races at a slower pace, but I'm happy with how I did overall. The pace wasn't that special, but with the very hilly course (can I get a flat one someday?) and rocky terrain, it wasn't bad. This was the first distance race I have ever run where I was basing my pace on what others were doing. I'm not sure this was a good thing. This was a tough course, but my pace during the second mile, and overall, was slower than I would have expected. I thought we were going faster than we were - it was different actually racing against someone.

The cool thing about racing against someone is that there was strategy involved, at least on my part. I wasn't having a great day, but I hung around, hung around, hung around and then made a move. It wasn't enough to win, but I felt like I had the upper hand mentally and gave myself the best chance to win.

I planned to so a "long, easy" run today of about 11 -12 miles, but I just didn't have time, so I scaled it back to 8 and it ended up more of a "tempo" run. I was still planning to take it easy, but starting out I felt surprisingly good considering I raced the day before. My legs felt good and the cool weather (around 50F to start), certainly helped. I didn't look at my watch but once or twice, but except for the first two miles (where there is a big downhill on the first mile), I got faster mile after mile. The splits were: 8:43, 9:01, 8:37, 8:36, 8:23, 8:21, 8:16, 8:03 and there was a sub-7 minute pace finish for the last .13 miles. I couldn't have planned negative splits any better. This run was right at the pace I need to hit my half marathon goal. Very happy with the run and a good confidence builder.

Do you ever race against someone rather than against the clock or yourself? How'd it go?

Before a "big" race, do you ever have that run that makes you think "I'm Ready!"? Were you?


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Milford 10k - Third race in four weeks


On Saturday, I ran the Milford Labor Day 10k. This race wasn't planned very far in advance, as I won the race entry from Renewal by Anderson (check out their Facebook page). This was the second race entry I won from them, the first being the Big Heart, Big House race this spring. Thankfully, this one was much less rainy.

The race was one of several offered. I could have entered the 30k, but (probably wisely) decided it wasn't a good idea to go from 10 mile long runs to an 18 mile race. There was also a 30k bike race and a 30/30, which was the 30k bike race followed by a 30k run.

Upon arrival, I was surprised at the turnout. I knew this was going to be a popular race as they have run it for several years and because of the distances offered, but it was a bit bigger than I anticipated. Besides the Crim, Brooksie Way and maybe the A2 Turkey Trot last year, this seemed to be the most "happening" race day, with many vendors and a fair-like feel to the proceedings.

My race wasn't until 8:30, so I wandered around and waited for the 30k race to start. I saw Ty (from This is How Ty Runs) and Irina and talked to them a bit before Ty's 30k adventure. After the 30k runners got out of sight, I started to warm up a bit and got ready to go.

Soon, we were underway. My legs felt really tight. Not sore at all, but more stiff. I'm guessing this was mainly due to last week's race and that I really haven't been training to run "fast". My training has been geared towards a half marathon and I haven't done much any speedwork lately. Even my last run that was supposed to be fast was slower than a 10k pace. I was near the pace I was shooting for (to finish in 48 minutes), but knew I needed to go faster early due to the upcoming hills. It didn't happen and even the minor hills early slowed me a bit.

Once we hit Hill Road, the hills kicked in. Not as bad as the Crim or Run Thru Hell hills, but they were significant and several. I realized that this was a main reason why, in my pre-race studies, that people who ran 48 minutes in this race ran a couple minutes faster in other 10k races (yes, I look uo "the competition" in Athlinks prior to many races to see how fast I should run and where I should finish.) I thought I handled the hills fine, but there was no way to keep the same pace over these hills as I did on flat ground. The other hill phenomena is that, once the hills are done, even if they don't take my legs out, is that I never seem to be able to resume a pre-hill pace. They just throw off my rhythm.

I did get back to an 8ish pace as the hills lessened a bit, with more downhills than up. My legs actually felt better after 4 miles, but I didn't speed up much. I really wanted to break 50 minutes and finally managed to turn it up in the last 3 quarters of a mile. I was running by myself at this point and there was a pack of runners ahead. I was never able to catch them but came close. My finish time was 50:16, a PR but obviously short of 48 and 50 minutes, my "A" and "B" goals.

It was 12 seconds off my previous best, but that was back in March. I think I've come a long way since then. I was good with how I did considering the differences in courses (286' elevation gain vs. 52', weather (warmer on Saturday than in March) and because the March race was a "target" race, where this one was only on my radar for a week.

Finishers received a nice medal and after a little while, the race provided burgers and beer. Both were welcome as we waited for Ty to finish her 30 k. I think she did quite well and ended up 3rd in her age group.

Free races are among the best races, so I have no complaints with the Milford Labor Day 10k. I ran pretty well and had a nice time. I would even consider paying for this race next year and would likely choose the 30k if my 2013 Detroit Marathon plans remain in effect.

I have one more race scheduled before the Brooksie Way Half Marathon on September 30. It is the Camp Lael 5k, where I am participating as the DEFENDING CHAMPION! Yes, it is true, I won this race last year (which says more about the competition than my great speed, but you can only race who shows up, right?) I just want to do well and WIN AGAIN! :) If I race older people and kids again, I have a good shot. If a camp counselor or two decide to participate, it will be more of a challenge.

 How have your races gone lately?

How much racing is too much (or is there such a thing)?