Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lager Run 5k, Glen Ridge, NJ 6/28/15

Photo by Rich Timlen
When I work up the morning of this race,  I felt an odd sensation in my hip, butt, lower back that concerned me.  I ran 16.2 the day before and didn't notice anything but fatigue.  But Sunday morning I felt twinges of sharp pain when I bent forward.  At first I thought it was my hip joint and panicked a bit. But later I realized it was more likely that something was inflamed or pinched and I was having nerve tingling rather than pain. I really hope this passes soon.  I am not used to having pain.

My last race went better than I expected and I was very happy.  I have been working to get back in shape. I feel like I am seeing good results.  I am back to Long Runs, a little Speed Work, Progressions with a lot of easier paced running.   I am just building my system and my volume first and soon I will add back in some intensity.  The short races, right now, are giving me that element.

As I stood at the starting line, just like I do at the start of almost every 5k, I just wanted it to be over.  5ks are not my best race in comparison to my race times for my age.  They hurt and I can never run as fast with ease as I wish I could.  I am sure I write this same sentence in every 5k race report.

But I know this course well.  I feel like nothing about it will be a surprise to me and this helps me prepare mentally for my approach.  Knowing the course is almost as important as being prepared to run it.

I set out fast because I know 1M lends it self to a naturally fast start. I also know that mile 2 is slower. I take advantage of any descents it the first mile.  I am feeling a little floored by how many women are hauling.  I have no idea how many are in front of me but it is a lot.  I look at my watch and the pace is low 6 and I still can't believe how fast the pack is moving.  I try to settle down to my target pace but still come through M1 a little fast: M1 6:17

In an ideal race I would attempt a 6:20, 6:35, 6:20 and kick hard hoping to sneak in sub-20. I am a little fast here but it is ok.  I feel much better than I thought I would and now I work on staying focused through Mile 2.  I start passing people on the uphill even with the pace slowing. The slower pace is a product of the incline and not a reflection of the effort at all.  The hill starts at the start of M2 and does not last the whole mile.  But it can feel soul crushing after a fast mile 1.  I know we get a reprieve soon and I am just trying to hold it together until the descent. M2 6:38  

We have already started to descend and most of Mile 3 is downhill.  I am running as fast as I can and I can start to feel the wheels coming off.  But I am running fast so this is ok.  My pace is dropping.  I feel like I am getting a side-stitch.  It has been a long time since I have gotten that.  I believe stitches happen to me when I am running faster than my fitness supports.  Today this seemed to be true.  I am passing people and running hard. It feels awesome! I glance at my watch and my average pace is 6:27.  I feel like if I can just run a little harder I might break 20. I know there is track finish.  I am hoping I have a kick today!  M3 6:28 

Rich is at the M3 mark. I remember last year watching Rich from a distance break 20.  I would like to do that today.  But I saw the time on the clock and I was sure I did not have enough time or not.  I decide that slowing down won't get me to sub-20 so if I want a chance I had to sprint.  I feel a person running me down. I don't now if this runners is male of female.  I am sprinting as fast as I can. I know I will get passed despite my effort.  Just as I am getting passed I am relieved to see this runner was a guy.  I can see the clock ticking from a distance .. 19:58… 59… 20:00…20:01…etc.  I am not there yet. I am  too late.   Last .1 in 43 seconds. 

I finish this race and feel a bit shocked it went so well.  I am a little ahead of where I expected to be.  But Lager is one of the fastest courses of the series.

After a few months of down time, where I feared that I might not be able to get my speed and endurance back,  I am very happy to see that my training is working well, at least for now.

Time: 20:07 (6:27)
OA place 101
Gender 11th F
10 yr AG 5th 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sunset Classic 5 Miler, Bloomfield NJ 6/22/15

I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed racing this race.  I was so happy to meet up with Anthony because he makes things fun!  He has great energy and such a love for our sport!

My biggest stress before the start, and most likely Anthony's as well, was the fact that I needed to find a bathroom at 10 minutes to gun time.  We knew the port-o-potty line was going to be too long.  I decided to just skip it and hope everything would be ok… but with 8 minutes until the gun, we were warming up and passed a Quickcheck. I decided to see if I could make a quick pit stop.  I am certain Anthony was thinking "OMG, really… we don't have time for this!!!"  But I was quick and we made it to the start with plenty of time to stand around and chat with others.  Thank you Anthony for being patient with me :)

The last time I raced Sunset was 2013 and I was in good shape.  Right now, I am starting to feel really good again!  My training volume is up with out being forced. I met Anthony for Speed Work last week and got to open up the stride for some fast 300's.  I ran 21 miles on Sat and then another 14 on Sunday without excessive fatigue and no soreness. I logged 75 miles last week.  My immune system feels strong. My fingernails are no longer brittle (which has been a reliable signal to me about how healthy I am:  No fingernails = racing is bad… Healthy fingernails = racing is good).

Last Monday I raced President Cup.  I used that race to run hard but to focused on Pacing myself and sticking to a plan.  I ran 6:50 pace with control, but I did suffer a hard fade in Mile 3.  I felt like I hit a wall and was not able to dig there for anything more.  But after a week, I felt stronger.

Today's plan was to target 7:00 pace or better, with the ultimate goal to conserve on the Mile 2 hill so that I could really find a Kick this time.

M1: Gun goes off and I try to count ladies to have a sense of where I am.  I see at least 3 ahead of me.  Over the course of the first mile, I am passed by 3 more. I figure I am 7th. I am remembering my good pace work from President's Cup and I settle in to just sub-7:00 pace.  I am a little concerned because this effort doesn't actually feel as easy as I had hoped it would.  I was concerned that I would fall about after 3M where I hit the wall last Monday.

I know we make a left turn and CLIMB in mile two. This concerned me.  I look to my left and notice these houses are sitting on top of lawns the consist of steep down hills. I make a comment, "OMG, those lawns are so steep they must be impossible to mow. I would just grow MOSS!"… that makes runner near me LOL.  My comment about the lawn was really more about me knowing that those steep lawns represent the exact grade of the hill we are about to run up.  I settle down and mentally prepare to climb.  M1 6:57

M2: We turn left just after Mile 1 and the pain starts.  I let people go.  I feel tired.  I know I don't want to leave it all on the hill.  I think about Anthony and how I told him he should sit back in mile 2 and let people go.  I told him to plan for a 20 second fade. I follow my own advise to him because I believe it is the smartest way to handle this course.  I pass one lady just over the crest. I suspect I am 6th now. M2 7:20

M3: Just like what I told Anthony… as soon as we crest the hill we need to work to get our paces back down to our goal average pace over M3 and M4 and but plan to be ready to CRUSH mile 5 to make up for Mile 2.  I had forgotten that that climb we survived at the start of M2, comes back to us as a descent at 2.6 miles…  This is the place where everything started to go right for me!  A small pack was ahead of me, 2 ladies were in there.  Runners were somewhat conservative on the descent.  I decide to so the opposite and just let go. I run as fast as I possibly can using gravity in my favor, flailing my arms like a maniac!  If my quads hate me then so be it.  This move was amazing and I FLY past at least 6 runners on this short descent. I suspect I am in 4th.  M3 6:44

M4:  I didn't feel like that blazing descent too took much from me at all.  I think, hmmm, maybe downhill racing is my thing? ;)…  Mile 4 is simply not as fast as Mile 3. There is a little inclining along the way that slows pace in the early part of the mile. This mile is hard.  I focus on a few people I know run well that I can see ahead of me and I try to reel them in.  There is one more female in my sight and I want to be able to get ahead of her before the sharp turn on the way to mile 5. I want to be out of her sight at some point so that there isn't a target on me during the fast final mile.  I am not looking back so I don't know if any other ladies are coming for me.  Just before the drop off at about 4.5M, I pass her and again blaze downhill to put some distance on those I am passing. I am hoping this moves me to 3rdM4 6:52 

M5:  I am already up to speed since the very last part of Mile 4 starts us off with a short steep descent.  The final mile is mild downhill to the track.  I feel really strong. I am reeling in men now.  There are no women in sight, but I am afraid to look back… but I want to look so bad!  I am hoping the cheers from spectators can help me know if there are ladies behind me running me down. I won't turn to look.  Where is Jim O when I need him?  He always gives me the information I need to race hard.

I just run as hard as I can and turn on to the track… 3/4 of a lap and I can stop.  I feel good and then with 150 meters to go, right on my right shoulder I see her in my peripheral vision… she was like a running ninja… silent and sneaking up to kick past me with 100 to go… I didn't even her her breathing.  I only knew she was on me once she was there.

I remember the last 100 meter of the final 300 meters I ran with Anthony on the track when we ran a 1:01 300 meter split.  I had to dig hard to pull up on him and it was the fastest my legs had moved in a long time.  I also remember telling Kim during our final kick of our long runs that leaning forward is like pressing the gas, lean in, drive the arms, lift the knees and the speed will happen…. I do it all and I find that I do have another gear!  Yes! I pull away and she doesn't come with me. I am running as if it was 100 meter dash and I feel awesome!  M5 6:34  

This is the best race I have had since October and I really needed this to start to feel like myself again!  Thank you Anthony for reminding about Sunset. I am so glad I went!

Time 34:39 (6:56 pace)
OA place: 27
Gender: 3rd (by 2 seconds)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

College Ave Mile, New Brunswick 6/6/15 and President Cup 5k, Millburn, NJ. 6/15.

I owe myself two race reports.  I need to post them before I get too behind so here they are!

College Ave Mile

Somehow a 1 Mile race acquired 700 points Championship Status as part of NJ Long Distance Running Grand Prix Series.  In case that snuck by, I repeat, this is the LONG DISTANCE RUNNING Series.  :)  This is funny to me.

I had not run a mile in a long time so I was curious and terrified at the same time. I must admit, the 700 pt status did help me to justify the 30 minute drive for a very very short run.  There was an additional one mile relay race at the end and this helped too.  A while ago, Nikki asks if I would partner up with her for the relay. As soon as she asked me, I knew we would make a great team!

The race was at night.  I had a conflict. I had scheduled 20 mile group run for the morning. Nikki was ok with me showing up to race on tired legs so we registered and decided to give the mile a shot. I was hoping to break 6 minutes.

I hated the mile in high school.  It was too long for me then. I loved the half.  I once ran a 5:40 mile only because my coach told me we needed a 4th for the relay and it had to be me.  I am sucker for stuff like that so I did it. I was probably 15 years old then.  A few years ago, maybe 5 years, I ran a 6:08 mile just before a 5k race. I was running 21-22 minute 5k's then.  Beating that time was more realistic than expecting to run my fastest mile ever.  

As Nikki and I warmed up we worked out our relay order by deciding that we would race each other in the Mile to decide who gets to anchor. :) I think were well matched and we both probably wanted to anchor so this was the fairest way I could think of that would also motivate us to run harder.

Nikki and I lined up in our corral, after getting some advice from Ben to hug the curb, because that is where the course is measured. The course was a 2 lap course around a square block. LOL! A square! 8 90 degree turns at top speed.

Gun goes off and we go out fast! By the first turn of 8 turns, my Garmin read 5:26… LOL! I yelled for Nikki to slow down since she was ahead of me.  LOL at Nikki!  We both backed off, came to our senses and came through the half way mark just sub 3 minutes, I suppose.  I wish they had a mat for splits.  I was hoping to have some type of kick at the end but I already knew that I was toast from this morning's 20.  All I could hope for is that Nikki's fast start would catch up with her so I could have a chance to anchor. I chased those bright pink shoes for almost another half mile before she solidified her lead on the last turn! I know we both worked hard out there. By the end she ended up 3 seconds ahead of me, which is a lot for a mile! I did not reach my goal but it was close enough for me to feel good about the effort!

M1 6:07

Our relay was the last event. I can honestly say that by the time the relay arrived I had enough of fast running on tired legs. If a thunderstorm rolled in and cause it to be canceled I would have secretly thanked the universe for that gift ;)

My legs were simply toasted by the time the relay started.  But I know I ran my best. I wish they had a split mat because I failed to stop my watch and Nikki failed to start hers… so we have no idea what we ran for our half mile splits. I don't even know the final time but I know were were solidly sub-6:00. Phew. If not, then we know who the weakest link was :)    

President Cup 5k.
As this is my "come back"season, I did not expect to race as fast I was racing last year. That is a good thing, because I can't do it and it would stink to actually feel bad about this.  Instead I want to enjoy to climb back to good shape, whatever that ends up being.

To decide what to do at Presidents Cup, I using my mile time to help me set a goal of 6:50 per mile. I ran a faster 5k on Mother's Day, but today I wanted to just practice self-control and see how things turn out. After all I ask a whole bunch of runners to control their paces each and every day. If I expect others to run specific paces, I better be able to do it myself when I decide to.

My plan was to run M1 6:50, M16:40 and then to see what I could do in the last 1.1.  If I was lucky I would find a kick sleeping inside me somewhere…. but I knew the last mile was uphill.

The weather was in our favor.  It rained a few hours earlier and it cooled everything down.  This was a lovely gift from the years prior.  It may have been humid, but to me it did not feel as humid as it has been lately.

The gun goes off.  First I need to find some actually room to run without falling down.  I am pretty sure Rich  Timlen elbowed me for no reason at all… or maybe that was the other way around. ;) … It was a tight start.

As we start to reach the first decline,  I look at my watch I was moving at 6:32.  This was too fast so I settle down.  I end run running with Jessica and I explain my plan.  M1 6:49 (close enough).

I must say that running 6:50 pace for mile one when I felt I could run faster was a wonderful experience.  It almost felt too easy and I was glad to have spent the first mile in complete control.  This gave me hope that this 5k would go well for me today.

During the second mile, I picked it up.  Jessica went with me.  We could see Nikki up ahead and we discussed trying to catch up to her if it was possible.  As Jessica and I ran a strong Mile 2, I still believed this we might be able to catch her.   M2 6:37

Even as we started Mile 3 I was confident that I would have a great run.  I knew the hill was coming and that it was going to be exhausting.  I was working hard at this point.  I never felt that my race got a way from me in any way.  I knew I did not go out too hard.

But just about Mile 2.5, I distinctly felt a sense of hunger pangs… as if I needed sugar, or food, or maybe just to STOP running as fast as I could... I was running out of steam.  My stomach felt odd, not nauseated, just empty.  I cannot recall the last time I felt this way in a race except for Clinton 15k, when at 7 miles to go I suddenly felt overwhelmed with the need to eat meat.  I am not sure what that is about but I can bet it is just related to me being less fit than I was in the past.

Fom 2.5 to 3.1, I simply fell apart.  My body just wasn't used to that pace.  It is clear I need to get back to the track and also increase my volume.

I push myself to finish strong and watch Jessica pull away over the last few tenths.  We can see Nikki kicking hard in the distance.  Both ran such a fantastic races!  Clifton Women are looking good and this isn't a goal race! I faded a bit as we crested the hill, tried to find a kick M3. 6:50, with a faster  Final .1 to finish.

Time: 21:05
(I have to update this later… I have a 5 miler to get ready for!)