Sunday, October 18, 2015

Danville Half Marathon and a great training week.

 With the upcoming race I didn't want to train too hard but I also hadn't planned on tapering for this one. I wanted to race well but this was just another step toward the bigger goals.

 I started off with an easy 4 miles on Monday due to time restraints and that  I had just done the hard turn and burn on Sunday.
  Tuesday was an easy 6. Probably would have done a few more or hit the hills but I had big plans for Wednesday.

Another strong workout with Laura
 Yes, it was Wonderful Wednesday. Since I couldn't run on Friday , Laura and I still wanted to share a few miles so we met on Wednesday with a plan to run a few together and then she would go on and do more miles at her usual pace. It went great as we ran the first 3 together at a pace much better than expected. When I turned around I decided since I felt so good to just go with it and ended up with a new all time best for that 6 mile route. I timed the cooldown mile perfectly to be back at the start as she finished her extra 2 miles.

 I followed that up with and easy 5 on Thursday and then took Friday as a rest day and drove to Danville after work. Did I mention the weather was great this week! Cooler and lower humidity in the afternoons.

 Ok, so what about the race?

 I had raced here in 2007 but it was in Sept then and very hot. This morning it was 34F as I was making the short drive to the start !
 The course was quite different than then also but still much of the race was on the greenway along the Dan River and flat.

 I lined up near the front with about 140 others in this low key but well organized event.
 I had done a warm up mile and wasn't feeling too spiffy. I had a realistic goal of 1:46-1:47 range and a fantasy goal of 1:45 but as we started I was having doubts and thinking 1:49 might be the target.
 Although we started on the road, the contour reminded me of the first mile of my favorite section of the Neuse Greenway with gentle short hills. My stride didn't feel just right and I was expecting 8:15 to 8:30 so I was shocked when I saw 7:51 ! Wow, I'm running better than I thought !

 Mile 2 started with a qtr mile hill that was nearly as steep as cemetery in Umstead so I just relaxed knowing that there were no more real hills to come. Once at the top and the highest elevation of the course I had a 3/4 mile easy slight downgrade to the river which I used to settle into a strong relaxed pace. That mile was 8:11 and I was quite happy with that.

 For the next 3 miles we ran along the river on short stretches of gravel , broken pavement and sidewalk while weaving in and out of parking lots and behind buildings and shopping centers ! Not the most scenic route and way too many turns but at least it was flat. And then finally we made it to the greenway. I was very happy to be maintaining a very even pacing just about 7:55 average.

 Right around the halfway point we began an out and back section of the course on the greenway which would bring us back to the old railroad bridge that would take us to the other side of the river to the finish. In 2007 we finished about 100yds past the bridge in front ot the train station but this year we would have to circle under the bridge with another half mile to go.
greenway passing under RR bridge 

 Ok, back to the race. At mile 7 I was still running every mile within about a 5 second range. With 6 to go I was telling myself all I had to do was pretend it was my normal 6 miles with Laura which right now  we are running around the pace I had run for the 1st 7miles of the race.

 By mile 8 I was confident there would be no blowing up this time but I still kind of expected to gradually slow down in the last miles. I made it to 9.5 and did the loop around a field and then headed back upriver on the greenway. I thought this might be when I would slow some  but I remained focused and the 7:55 ish splits just kept coming and over the next couple of miles I started picking off quite a few that were slowing down. And then with about 6/10ths to go we came to the bridge.

looking across the RR bridge
 Running across the old 3 span truss bridge would be cool but in order to do it you have to run up a steep narrow wooden ramp, make a sharp 180 turn on a small landing losing all momentum , run up another ramp and then make a sharp 90 turn onto the narrow bridge. After crossing the bridge it is a series of 3 sharp narrow 90 turns then a sweeping 180 to finally circle under the bridge and get back on the greenway with 4/10ths to go to the finish line. I was pushing strong but all those short compact turns cost me time and mile 13 was 8:09 and would clearly have been under 8 if we had not had to run that maze of ramps. ( RD said next year that they would eliminate that).

view of RR beidge from greenway

 I was so thrilled to finish in 1:43:15, my fasted half in over 15 years and much better than I dreamed I could do at this point. I am officialy done with referring to the injury now !

 So, you would think in a small race like this with that time I would make it to the podium ? Ha !  Turns out I was in the toughest age group of all ! I was 5th !!! Even with a 23rd overall placing !
 I would have been 2nd in the 45-49 ag by just 4 seconds. I would have been third in the 50-54 and if I was just 2 months older would have won the 60-65 ! Oh well, I am just happy with the great personal performace and knowing I still have some great racing ahead of me.

happy 1:43:15 finisher

 Stay tuned  for more running excitement !

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Finally some decent weather ! And that helps make for a great week of trainng

 Yes, after last weeks off the charts high humidity, rain and unseasonably warm weather, this week has been downright pleasant but still not quite what you expect. But hey, it was still nice !

 I got off to a great start, expecting to be tired from last Sundays long run but instead I had a really good 6 miler at home Monday.

 On Tuesday I went back to Umstead at the same time of day and ran the same route as last Tuesday. Wow, what a difference ! Just because of the much lower humidity I was a full 3.5 minutes faster and instead of dying on the last uphill mile I crushed it !

 Wed and Thurs were just more easy miles but I felt good although Thursday got hot and the humidity had crept back up.

  And then there was Fun Friday ! Yay ! I met Laura at the same 6:30 but for the first time in two weeks it wasn't raining ! Here is how I described the run in a facebook post.
"We start of slowly or it seems so. I look up at the crystal clear sky with the crescent moon and Venus lighting our path and it makes me smile.
That warm up mile is a full minute faster than my normal. And then it is time to work and we hit the lap button and up the pace. She soon says it is too quick but we hold pace and nail the first split. Then surprisingly the recovery is at my current marathon race pace.
The next several repeats are magical. Everything clicks, my stride is smooth and the breathing is strong and even as I am in the zone. We even share some laughs as each interval is faster than planned.
And then we cooldown enjoying the conversation and I notice our cooldown 1.5 miles is at my marathon pr pace.
We finish and high 5. Another quality workout in the log book. And I see it is over 1:40 seconds faster than I have ever run this 6 mile route"

 I was almost planning to take off Saturday but I felt good and had a great 6 miler from home.

 I have a race  next weekend so instead of doing a long run I wanted another shorter quality effort so I planned a turn and burn 10 miler. It was nice a cool at the start but I didn't have the zip I wanted on the easy 5 going out although I did feel ok and the pace was alright. Funny thing was I didn;t really start to feel good until I got mad  at mile 7 and really picked up the pace and ran strong over the last 3. Negative split by 5 minutes ! 

 So, another great week in the book with 46 total miles. Stay tuned and we'll talk more about the upcoming racing soon !

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Where is the sun anyway? Or training in the dark, rain and humidity.

 Considering the nasty weather I have actually had a pretty good week of training again.

  Everyday had at least some rain and the first of the week some unseasonably warm temperatures. Monday Tuesday and Wednesday were just miserable with the high humidity, warm temps and the dewpoint matching the temperature. Just some easy miles at home on Monday and Wednesday. I made my way out to Umstead to get in some hills on Tuesday. Just horrid conditions but I was running a decent pace. 5 miles in a deluge fell for the next 15 minutes and the trail was a flowing river almost immediately due to everything being saturated. I really struggled up the last uphill mile.

 I decided right then that Thursday would be a rest day. I was feeling worn down, legs were dead and I wanted to be fresh for  Fun Friday am.

  Yes, Fun Friday. 6:30 start in the dark again and the temperature was great at 54F but not so great was the wind and pouring rain ! No worries, there was work to be done and fun to be had !

  Laura and I did a slow (for her) warm up mile in 8:29. Then the plan was for a descending run from 8:00 down to 7:30. Well, another fail. Got off to a fast start. Hard to judge in the dark and the rain you know and even after backing off the 2nd mile was 7:41. So why not just keep it rolling from there? Next one including the turn was 7:36 and then 7:31.  Since we were faster than planned she tells me I can just jog it in if I want to. And I was feeling like that was a good idea but I always try to give 100% plus when I get these chances to run with her so I just kept it going. I think it made her happy !

  The whole time she is keeping up the encouragement and little tips to squeeze out as much speed as possible out of me. I was trying to make it last one fast one but with a headwind up over the 3 rolling hills in that mile I just missed with a 7:33. Awesome workout as she always brings out the best in me.

 Saturday I got in more muggy miles and then finished up with 14 on Sunday am. It was off the charts muggy again. 100% humidity, 63F with 63F dew point. Just took it easy for the 1st 10 and then picked it up finishing with the last mile in 8:03, about 8 seconds faster then marathon pr pace.

 So, finished up with 43 miles, some good workouts and looking forward to some much improved weather in the coming week. Stay tuned !