Friday, November 25, 2016

Foot Locker XC Regionals preview and training update

 A bit strange in a way that I am here but I'm pretty excited about it. In case you don't know, this race is a qualifier for the National Championships for HS xc and has been held now for 37 years. So what am   doing here? Well turns out they also have an open and master division race the same day and actually my race is the first of about a dozen races.

 Back in the 90's I used to commute to Charlotte every other week for 2 or three days and I discovered McAlpine Creek and its xc course and over that decade I logged 300 to 400 miles in workouts. Then last year Laura brought her daughter Isabella here to race and that when I heard about the open race. How cool would it be to actually race on this course that I trained on so many years ago. The only problem was it is held on the same day as the Derby 50K. After a 12 year streak of fun there it was going to be hard to miss but since I had already committed to no ultras this year I knew it was time to do something different.

 And so her I am, ready to race hard on a xc course. Thing is they don't even have age group awards. I will be competing with everyone from age 40 and up and most of the guys that run these events are hard core xc and short distance guys. They don't even list the ages of the competitors in the results. But I'm here to have fun and run as fast as I can and if I can finish halfway in the field I will be thrilled.

 The course follows the same route as I use to run but it is all a wide crushed gravel surface now where there used to be some natural dirt and a few roots and a short section of single track. Only one hill but its short and hard. Otherwise a flat course so times are pretty fast.

Looking down the only hill. Pretty steep ! About halfway in the 5k course

 And after my race I get to hang around and watch some of the best youth and highschool runners in the South and especially Isabella and Sophie in the 11-12 year old race. So exciting !

 Here is a link to the race website.

 As for my training since OBX, I took a couple of days off and just easy running for a week with only 21 miles. This week I've just done 17 but I did get in a pre race track workout geared toward this event. And I sure wasn;t slack in my cross training. since I was not running much I made it to 6 Bikram yoga classes last week and 2 so far this week. In addition over that time period I made it back to the gym for a couple of weight sessions and another 8 body weight or stretching workouts. Feeling strong and ready to roll !

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Boom ! Nailed it ! OBX Half Marathon

 I was trying to come up with a title for the race report and those three words summed it up as well as any.  At the end of last year as I was planning my racing schedule for the coming year I had already made up my mind that this would be the goal race for the Fall and nearly all of the 2nd half of the year was geared toward being in top shape for this one.

 The race is along the beautiful Outer Banks and was started in 2006 to bring tourist into the area during the off season. I was there for that first race  running the full marathon and returned on 6 other occasions. I couldn't go to the 10th anniversary for personal reasons but made up my mind I was going back but do the half for a change. After all, this was the year of running shorter distances anyway.

 In my mind I had set a goal of running 1:40 and hoping that would be enough to get me on the podium and as I like to put my goals out there, I made that prediciton in my January looking ahead blogpost.  But I knew it wouldn't be easy. Last Fall I was running in the 1:44 range but felt I had faster in me if things went well.

 But, things sure didn't start off well this year as I missed almost all of January with a recurrence of my nagging hamstring/hip/glute injury. I slowly returned and was happy to see  a quick recovery but in March at Myrtle Beach I woke up with a fever of 101.2 and an upper respiratory infection. I ran like an idiot anyway  and somehow ran 1:50 and then felt like I had a truck parked on my chest.

 Two weeks later after antibiotics and pracically no running in between I ran  a 1:47 at Wrightsville Beach. Finally after that everything began to fall into place. My injuries were finally gone in part thanks to beginning yoga at the first of the year and I was finally able to train with confidence. But I had my work cut out for me if I was going to drop my time that much. I had some pretty amazing things happen after that and achieved every goal I had set for myself over the Summer and early Fall.

 After having a great race at the NCRC event, ATT 10 miler in late October, three weeks before OBX, I felt in my heart that I could do what  I  had set in motion  last Winter. I messaged my training partner Laura and told her 1:40. It's going to happen.

 So finally the weekend of the race arrived and I had a plan.  The course is about pancake flat other than going over the Baum Bridge over the sound into Manteo at mile 10.   I just needed to run smart and stay within a few seconds of goal pace so I could get to the bridge feeling strong and once  I hit the top then throw myself off the bridge ! Ha, thats a joke from one of our training runs. Not literally jump off but use the downside to start the push to the finish with a strong fast last 5k.

 The weather on Sunday morning was near perfect. 44f at the start and only reaching a high of 50F and only a slight wind of 6-7 mph, mostly a tailwind ! Everything was falling right into place. I did the usual warmup routine and then lined up near the front, eager to be underway.

 At the gun I fell into a comfortable pace ignoring those around me as always and hoping my sense of pace was strong today. Goal was to maintain between 7:35-7:45 and I hit mile one in 7:31 so I eased off just a little bit. I felt good but did not want to get too excited. About that time Charles Akers passed by and we spoke for a bit before he moved on ahead.

 The mile 2 marker was off and had me a bit angry but I just kept going and hoped that things would even out at mile 3. It seemed to and I had slowed down too much at just over 8 mp for those two miles.  By now I was really feeling relaxed and smooth so I picked up the effort just a little and hit 4 in 7:41. After that it was almost too easy and I began to roll off a series of 7:33 and 7:34 miles. By mile 6 I just knew that I was going to have a great day. Just stick to the plan and don't get greedy.

 The spectators and volunteers were all saying I looked great and I was feeling it. My stride which I have worked on the past couple of years felt long and strong and I was just on cruise control. By mile 8 I began to steadily pass people and then I hit mile 9 with the bridge looming ahead. I wanted to run about 8 flat to mile 10 and just keep the effort steady.

 The recent weeks of hitting the hills in Umstead were paying off and I hit mile 10 in 7:58 ! Right on schedule and then it was hammer time. I did throw myself off the bridge and in my mind I was starting a 5k race.  Trying to redline as close as possible, I could feel the effort but still relaxing and already excited for the celebration to come. 2 miles to go and its really starting to hurt now and soon I turn into the bit of headwind but I just dig deeper. 1 mile to go. Lungs are starting to burn and I'm starting to make my death noises but I keep pushing. I got this ! And then finally there is the finish line and I know the goal is waiting for me. 1:40:35 ! Boom ! Nailed it ! Just as if I'd had a premonition of the day. And the last 5k? 23:11, exactly 7:30 pace and the fastest 3 miles of the race !

  As I passed through the chute a volunteer said I was the first of the "young guys" but I know a lot of people don't look their age but it was encouraging. Although they had my results up quickly there was nothing on placement yet so I went to change into dry warm clothes. Yes, even at 50 degrees I was sweating a lot at that effort. I got changed and then  I pulled out my phone and went online to check the results. Woohoo ! Yes !! 1st in age group out of 40 finishers and 66th overall out of 1954. I did it !

 After that I walked back to the finish and found Charles so we talked while waiting for Blanca to finish. Then I went to enjoy some post race food and wait for the awards ceremony. The finish line amosphere in downtown Manteo is about the best of any road race I have particiated in so it was worth waiting around for.

 So there it is Boom ! Nailed it !
 A goal, a plan and a lot of hard work and smart training all came together to make a dream come true. On to the next one !

Friday, November 11, 2016

OBX Half Marathon Preview and training update

  I'm feeling quite a bit of excitement as I start my road trip to the Outer Banks to race this Weekend. As I was planning my year of racing for 2016 I had chosen this one as one of my big goal races. Starting last Fall and in the early Spring of this year I had been racing well at the half distance so i was curious to see if I could put things together progressively moving up from the mile over the summer and building up to this event.

  I have raced in the Full Marathon here 7 of the first 10 years. Five of those were for fun with friends but twice I was going for a BQ and blew up miserably !  I'm hoping that my attempt at a fast time will not end up as an epic failure as those two races did !

 The course is flat and fast with the exception of the Baum Bridge across the sound to manteo which is between mile 9 and 10. If  get to that point in good shape then I am confident of a good race.When I was signing up for the race not only was I looking forward to a fast time but I have high hopes of winning a spot on the podium in my age group. That will depend on not only having a good race but depends on who shows up as always.  This race usually has well over 2,000 finishers so if i am successful it will be the biggest race by far that I win an award. So hold on and wish me luck !
 The race does have live tracking so if you're interested just google OBX marathon for info.

 As for the training the past two weeks, I had one of my best weeks of running last week with 36 miles and a strong track workout. This week I've only put in 12 so far but I  had another another good track workout focusing on race pace.
  I'm still getting in a lot of yoga with 8 regular Bikram classes, one  advanced class and some more work at home. The free weights are still not happening right now but I am still getting in a couple of body weight sessions every week and I am feeling fantastic !

 Stay tuned for results and more !

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Training is great and lots of Yoga ! W/e 10-29-16

 So after the race I took a couple of days off from running and then a couple of easy runs. On that Friday, I got in my longest run since running Boston in April, a 14 miler on the hills of Umstead. I felt great and my pace was about what my easy short run pace used to be on flat ground ! Gotta love the way things are going! Only 28 miles for the week but it was a recovery week.

 In addition I had one of if not the biggest yoga week so far. I made it to 5 Bikram classes plus went with Laura to a special Yin Yoga class and did another couple of 1 hr sessions on my own gving me about 11 hours worth of yoga. Really loving the classes and the benefits I am gaining from it.

 Not much in the way of hard training coming up becuase i have my big goal race of the Fall, OBX Half Marathon coming up in two weeks so hold on for more on that soon !