Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fort Collins T-Day Run 2011

Perfect day for today's Thanksgiving Day run, finished well ahead of my < 23 goal in 22:22, but still finished well out of the pie range, since at least 6 M30-34 were faster.


Mostly, this race is a celebration of fun, running, and community in Fort Collins. The centerpiece is a great course right in the middle of Old Town Fort Collins, which heads uphill in a loop toward City Park and back down the classic, gradual downhill down Mountain Avenue. Proceeds go to the Food Bank, a worthy and well-run local charity (J has some friends that work there).

We had only done this race once before, a couple years ago, but vowed that any time we spent Thanksgiving in town we would certainly want to do this run. J lined up to run with her friend Nora, and her mom signed up to walk. I learned my lesson from the first time I did this run, and lined up near the front so as to avoid the maelstrom of ipods, strollers, and 5-wide groups of gapers that prevent smooth passage in the narrow starting area. A few rows from the front, I was happy to see a good group of friends and fellow runners all ready to go.


This was a solid 2 minutes off of my previous time, so I was quite happy with it. Still not close enough in the very competitive age group -- I would have had to run better than 5:02/mile to have won a pie -- but I look forward to future runs and improvement in this race.
Being a shorter run, I laced up my Brooks Green Silence shoes for this one. I've pretty much worn these shoes out, but have gotten a solid year of some speed work and a few races (half marathon and marathon) in them.

Meanwhile, J and Nora ran together, and I had told her that 10 min/mile was within her reach. Unfortunately, they got stuck farther back in the swarm of humanity, and said their first mile took an extra 3 minutes or so. After that, each mile was well into the 9's, and when I saw them in the last quarter mile, they dug deeper and sped up to the finish line. J's been getting up before sunrise several times a week for the last month and running with a friend, and it shows! Hope she keeps it up and keeps having fun. Finally, almost exactly at the hour mark, Debbie finished up with a fast walk, having met and talked with an out-of-towner visiting for Thanksgiving.

Overall, a fun morning at one of the funnest races of the year. Check it out!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More running, and on track

Been really happy with the last few workouts (some of them on the Aurora Central High Trojan Track) focused on speedwork in preparation for the Thanksgiving Day run, and generally staying healthier and running better/more focused with less miles and some stretching and strength. I've been playing with stride and breathing a bit as well: after running for a few years now, I feel like I'm still learning.

I don't like to post workout numbers -- this isn't a training blog! -- but I'm starting to forget what I did last year (or last month), and then I curse myself for not writing things down. And, I like learning and getting ideas from other people's workouts.

I've never broken 24 minutes in a 4M race, which is a nice, round number which I feel I should be capable of reaching. That's still a goal, but my A-goal for next week is to aim for 23 (5:45/mile). That won't be pie-worthy, but I can't fully control that. Hopefully I can set a new baseline for myself now and improve next year as well.

Whether or not the recent runs are sufficient training (this close to the event) vs. prediction is debatable, but here are some key workouts:

Week -2:
Mon: 5k@sea level (Corona del Mar Track): 17:10 (PR)
Wed: 8x800, ~2:20 RBI (complete rest to add up to 5:00 so I can keep my watch running): 2:33-2:36-2:38 (min-avg-max)
Week -1:
Tues: 5k@Aurora Central Track: 17:42 (Colorado PR)
Thurs: 4x1600, 400m slow jog between intervals. Goal: 5:30 avg. pace.
5:27, 5:26, 5:26, 5:23
* Hit the track again when I knew I wouldn't be able to make Towers tonight. Otherwise, really enjoyed this, wanted to bag it on the 3rd repeat when the wind picked up, and thought I'd be above 5:30 with a slower start, but pushed it and negative-split each of the next two 400m. After experimenting with stride, pushed it even harder in the last repeat.

Pretty stoked about these, I forgot how running hard and short can actually be fun, rather than chugging around slow and beat up all summer!
If weather or crowds aren't highly unusual, my prediction is that a 3M/5k training pace should predict 4M race pace, and that a 4x1600 cumulative time is roughly 5% faster than race time. We'll see!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Squaw or Bust!

Western States 100 lottery registration today, drawing on Dec 10th.

Good luck especially to the other Colorado folks on the list!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Quick sea-level running weekend

Orange County, CA

We were fortunate to have a quick weekend visit out to Orange County to visit our good friends, Todd and Andrea. We always have a great time with them, and the weekend went by too quickly. Unfortunately, the weather was as about as bad as it gets in sunny So Cal, with rain and cool temperatures 2 of the 3 days we were there.

But there's nothing to complain about, as we still had a great time with them, and did have a nice day to get some surfing in, which was one of my main goals.

Rain, rain, go away!
We used to live in So Cal, and I remember how the infrastructure just...isn't...built...for...rain. That is, the roads get slippery (noticeably so on a bike); bacterial levels get high in the ocean so you can get sick if you surf afterward (although I'll pay for that check when it comes in a few days, if it does); and the trails are caked in thick mud. Al fresco dining is ruined, and the coffee shops don't have the requisite character, generally. Everyone gets crabby, and doesn't know what to do with themselves.

Strangely, though, it was a perfectly welcome relief.

I went for a run a couple mornings in the rain and grey, something I rarely did while living there (I ran less, so I'd just do some sort of indoor workout or something else). Instead, I found it quite enjoyable to go for a run in the morning when it was calm and traffic was light. The people that were out in the rain were, as a percentage, more friendly.
So I did a couple of 1.5-2 hour jogs from downtown Newport to areas around the beach, Corona Del Mar, and Irvine.
This one's for Alex!

Sea Level Run Tests
But first: one of my goals was to do some sort of quick sea-level test to see how noticeable the extra oxygen density might be. So, the first morning I headed out to the track at Irvine, home of the UCI Anteaters.

This, however, happened to be the absolute heaviest part of the storm.
I decided to run 8x800 anyway, but used Lane 5 so as to avoid the worst of the puddles:

This meant I had to think about the staggered start lines and such.
First lap was OK, in the mid 2:30's. The same or a little faster than I've been lately, though not the fastest.
The rain picked up a bit.
I thought I'd be OK as long as I didn't slip or anything, but in the following laps, my shorts, socks, and shoes were absolutely soaked. I was easily 5, 10, then 15 seconds slower than my first lap, with times all over the place. I stopped in the middle and wrang the water out of my socks.

So the workout was absolutely worthless in terms of testing-the-fitness at sea level. This bothered me as both a runner, and a student of exercise physiology. Shoot.

In the afternoon of our last day, a few hours before we left, I hadn't run during the day yet. Todd said he'd be OK with a quick jog to the local high school track in Corona Del Mar. Then I could do a quick workout and he didn't mind waiting or stretching, etc. It was near sunset now, due to Daylight Savings Time ending, but the weather was absolutely perfect.

I ended up having about 20 minutes, so I just decided to do a 5k.

Everything felt awesome and I hit 5000m at 17:10. Holy crap (in my world, anyway). I wasn't dying at the end, and finished another 400m up at the same pace to make it an even 13 laps. Todd was timing as well and said he was impressed (very kind of him to say so) about clicking off tight 5:30 splits with regularity.

I was pretty stoked by this -- I've never even run sub-18 in a race.
Is this a PR? Does it "count" since I didn't pay money for it? Who knows. AK is running his own self-timed marathon, and I think it's an awesome idea.
In any case, it's the fastest I've ever run that distance, and it felt awesome.

I don't know where that came from exactly, but I felt like a few things were key:
1. I've been doing less mileage (planned and unplanned) and am pretty well rested
2. I've been stretching with some regularity, and some niggling pains are getting better (fingers crossed)
3. Sea level doesn't give you any speed that you don't have already, but it makes the speed you do have easier to maintain for longer periods of time

Regarding the last point, I realize I could also benefit from some occasional very short stuff (100m, 200m, 400m), because my leg speed in this case was the limiter, whereas my heart and lungs felt like they had a bit more to give.

Anyway, it was a memorable workout and a fun scientific test.
Now back home, where our motto might was well be "A mile higher and a minute slower!"
Next up is the FC Thanksgiving Day Run, so it's fun to do the short stuff for a change.