Saturday, November 23, 2013

Western States 100 Lottery, CIM...

The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run lottery and CIM are a little over 2 weeks away (December 7th and 8th, respectively)!  The odds of being selected to run Western States are surely not in my favor, but I have a chance and that's exciting.  I can't imagine what will be going through my head during the CIM if I am picked... well, okay maybe it will be something like this:

"Why am a standing outside in the dark at 5am on a cold December morning?  I'm freezing."

"Oh YAY!  Pre-race speeches and songs, I'm pumped!  Let's do this!"

"Here we go, settle into pace, settle into pace, don't go too fast, ignore the adrenaline."

"Wow, can't believe it's already been 8 miles, only 18 more to go!"

"OH LOOK!  Family and friends!  look happy, look happy... HI GUYS!!!  SEE YA!!!"

"Ugh, everything hurts, I'd be totally OK if this run was over right now."

"Focus, focus, this isn't THAT bad, make it hurt, this is what a PR feels like.  8 more miles, 8:20's"

"8:10's 3.5 miles to go.  Feed off the crowd, smile, make eye contact, BE HAPPY"

"BAM!  3:3x!!"

"Yikes, in seven months, I need to do this four times... in one day."

I'm happy to report that in spite of a recent calf injury, which did prevent me from running for ~8-9 days (during what should have been the highest mileage week of my California International Marathon (CIM) training), I am back on track with my training and am feeling confident and healthy enough to maintain my current marathon goal time of 3:39!  I think my recent workouts have shown that it's still in reach for me.

Sunday - 23.5 miles.  Paced my friend, Helen, to her first 100 mile finish at Rio Del Lago 100!  This was essentially my first run back from my calf strain (I also ran an easy 3.5 miles a couple of days earlier to test it out).

I jumped right back into my scheduled training after pacing at RDL:
Thursday - 10 mile run w/ 8 x 800m and 400m recovery.

Saturday - 10 mile run at GMP.

Sunday - 21 mile run w/ "fast" finish (last 4 miles @ ~7:40/mile)

Monday - 5 miles w/ Lucy

Tuesday - 8 miles w/ Lucy

Wednesday - 5 miles w/ Lucy

Thursday - 4.25 miles w/ 6 x hill @ ~7:00 min/mile

Saturday - 20.75 miles w/ last 4.5 @ GMP.  Last long run!  CIM is in 15 days!

Weekly Totals: 65 miles in the last 7 days

Friday, November 8, 2013

Race, race, race, speed work, ouch.

I haven't updated in a while, but many a thing has happened.  I've averaged a hair over 52 miles per week, listened to 6 or 7 audiobooks, have enjoyed what, for me, were three great race performances! (, and sustained a mild injury)
  1. 09/28: Run for Courage - 10k - A new 10k PR for me!  I was aiming to average 6:59 minute miles and my official time was 43:29, 7:00 min/mile.  Success!
  2. 10/06: Urban Cow Half Marathon - I was hoping for my first sub-1:40 half marathon at this race and based on my recent 10k performance, I figured I had a good shot at it.  If one wants to run a 1 hr 59 min 59 sec half marathon, the pace to run is 7:37 per mile.  Since officially measured half marathon courses are purposely measured a bit long, to ensure the actual distance is covered by runners, my plan was to run each mile in the low 7:30 range.

    I lined up in the vicinity of the 1:40 pace group leader, enjoyed the surprise of listening to my friend Paul sing the National Anthem, waited for the gun, and got to it.

    Mile 1 - 7:33 
    Mile 2 - 7:21 
    Mile 3 - 7:30

    I was paying close attention to my effort level and pace and quickly realized that the pace group leader had started out too fast for my style.  Mile 2 was ~10s-15s too fast and 1/4 way through the third mile, we were on pace for a 7:10 split.  7:10's are what you run if you're gunning for 1:33, not 1:39:59.  Knowing that my best race efforts have been those with conservative starts and negative splits, I forced myself to back off the pace and let the 1:40 pace group run away from me.  This took a lot of patience and confidence in my plan and ability.  I wondered if I was letting them run away for good, but did my best to remain confident and quelled such thoughts.  Falling back from the pack, I focused on getting back to my plan and bringing my average mile splits back to the low 7:30 range I had planned.

    Mile 4 - 7:35 
    Mile 5 - 7:42
    Mile 6 - 7:36 
    Mile 7 - 7:28 
    Mile 8 - 7:24

    Miles 8 and 9 of the race run atop a levee, along the Sacramento River.  The span on the levee afforded me an unobstructed view of the course in front of me.  Some distance ahead, I saw the 1:40 pace group sign bobbing around.  I was feeling tired, but confident.  There were no signs that I was fading or that I would not be able to maintain my current pace.  Over a span of 2-3 miles, I reeled the 1:40 group in.

    Mile 9 - 7:31
    Mile 10 - 7:33
    Mile 11 - 7:36

    I caught up to the 1:40 group in mile 10 or so.  I chatted with the pace leader for a while and settled into his pace, which at this point meant I was able to back off a bit and slow down.  We came off the levee and back into the streets around Land Park.  I thanked the pacer, said some goodbyes and put my foot back on the gas.  I knew that in less than 20 minutes, my discomfort would subside and be replaced by feelings of joy, pride, and accomplishment.  I knew I would get my sub 1:40.

     Having run the Urban Cow Half a few times in the past, I was quite familiar with the last couple miles of the course.  I ran down the winding streets, through Land Park, passing old growth oak trees,  large green, grassy fields, hitting the tangents as well as I could.  I was passing tens of runners.  I pushed myself uncomfortably hard, not 100%, but at an honestly hard effort that I felt I could maintain to the finish.  Before long I was on the home stretch.  I charged to the finish line, accepted my cowbell medal, enjoyed my accomplishment, and got on to mingling with my fellow runners.

    Mile 12 - 7:27
    Mile 13 - 7:11
    Mile 14 - (0.30 mi.) 7:19 min/mile

    Super happy. :)

    Garmin time: 13.25 miles, 1:39:23, 7:27 min/mile
    Official result: 1:39:19
  3. 10/26: That Dam(n) Half Marathon - Running through the trails of Cool and Auburn, this half is quite a change of pace from the Urban Cow.  My goal was to match the effort I put forth at Urban Cow.  On this course, with ~2,000 ft. of elevation gain (including a climb known locally as knickerbocker, which gains ~1k ft in 2 miles), I figured that would result in a 2 hour finish.

    My plan of attack was simple: recklessly charge the downhills and struggle as consistently as possible on the uphills.

    With an extremely fast downhill start, followed by an extremely slow uphill section, the course is setup perfectly for a half marathon suffer-fest.

    Mile 1 - 7:56 
    Mile 2 - 7:10 
    Mile 3 - 7:15 
    Mile 4 - 6:53 
    Mile 5 - 14:08  
    Mile 6 - 11:50 

    Sparing you all the rest of the splits and details, for the second half of the race, I settled into 8-9 minute miles with a 7:36 mile 13 and cruised in for a 1:57:39 finish.  Good for 15th overall and 4th in my 10 year age group.  Based on finishing times of some of my friends at last years race, I had some serious doubts about whether or not I would manage a sub-2hr race and was really happy with my 1:57!

Tuesday - Feeling good about my recent racing, I decided to incorporate some speed work into my scheduled 10 mile run.  10.13 miles w/ 8 x 800m, 400m recovery.  I was tired and my calves were sore from Sunday's race.  I ran the 800's at a ~7:30 min/mile pace.  I shouldn't have added the speed work, I should have rested, but I didn't.

By Thursday, I realized I had pulled/strained my left calf and was unable to run.  I missed ~8 days of CIM training, including a 10 mile goal marathon pace (GMP) run and a 20 mile long run.  I'm bummed to have missed these key workouts, 5-6 weeks out from my goal marathon!

Thursday - I got out and tested my calf for the first time in over a week.  5k run with Lucy at ~9:30/mile.  The calf felt good.  I'm glad I made the smart decision to rest up and let it heal, rather than force myself through workouts with an injury.  I'm hoping to be able to salvage my training for CIM, which is one month away!

Some pics:

Urban Cow
*I do not own rights to this photo

That Dam(n) Half... had a blast!

Happy Halloween y'all.

One of my favorite stretches of the Pioneer Express Trail.
Lucy, throwing one back at the horse trough near Avery's Pond.