Friday, October 31, 2014

It's Almost Here!!

Race day is fast approaching. I am excited, but it also doesn't quite seem real.

After my half marathon two weekends ago, I took my prescribed eight mile run Monday. Close to the end of the run, my left hamstring felt not right, which continued into the next day. Combined with weird foot pain that started late in the race, I figured I should stay off my feet for my taper.

The plus side of not running during taper is the taper crazies don't feel so bad. The "I'm injured- will I be able to race?" crazies set in, but that is an entirely different animal. More of a worry than a crazy, I'd say.

Last Saturday, I went out for eight miles, and my hamstring was awful. My feet weren't so bad, though. More time off, it is! I went out yesterday for an easy five miles, to decide if I'd be running the full marathon, switicng down to the half, or not running at all.

The run went fine, so I guess I'm racing. Yikes! Time to get my outfit ready!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Making Plans!

Race Day is fast approaching. In a little more than a week, I will be running my first marathon since July 2012. While I've been planning in my head for months, I think it may be time to get a plan down on paper (or pixels, as it were).

Enter this helpful article from Runner's World, which reiterates what I already knew about race strategy and pace planning. Plan to run the race 30-60 seconds faster than your long run pace. Test your pace on a run a few weeks out. Don't try anything new. Practice, practice, and show up early.

Admittedly, I should have been running my long runs around 9:30 per mile according to the Hansons, and my previous estimate that I should run somewhere in the 3:50 neighborhood. I never did that, not even once. I run with a faster crowd, and most of my long runs were closer to 8:30 (the long run pace for a 3:25 goal). My tempo runs we around 8:15 or a bit slower, putting me closer to a Hanson-approved 3:40 marathon goal. My speed work earlier in the training also put me close to the Hanson pace for a 3:40 goal.

To further complicate the matter (or clarify it?), Runner's World suggested I use their handy pace calculator, plugging in a recent race time to predict my marathon finish time. Well, I just happen to have run a hilly half marathon last weekend, and I will be running a hilly marathon, so let's do some plugging and predicting. I plugged in my 1:46:23 finish at last weekend's race, and the calculator predicted a 3:41:48 marathon finish.

I'm no expert, but it sounds like all signs are pointing to a 3:40 goal finish time, or around 8:24 per mile.

But wait! That sounds fast! My PR is 3:50, at my most recent race in July 2012. I felt pretty comfortable during that race, and I am arguably better trained this time around. That course is also very hilly, like the one I'll face in Raleigh. So, maybe a 3:40 goal finish isn't too far off?

Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Race Report: Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon

The reward: A shiny new metal and a koozie to boot!
My return to racing is complete! I ran my first road half marathon on Sunday, slightly shy of two years after I broke my leg and derailed my running obsession. While it wasn't my fastest half marathon, it does rank 4th out of my 12 attempts, despite being the hilliest road half I've done yet!

It would be an understatement to say that I was nervous leading up to the Bull City Race Fest on Sunday. I've been less than confident about my training, after a few small setbacks and generally feeling the cumulative fatigue big time throughout the past month or so. Not having raced for two years, I was a bit rusty on race strategy, and was wondering how fast I should go and what I should eat.

I showed up in my shiny new Bull City Track Club singlet at 6:30 on Sunday, found the lovely array of Port-A-Johns as they are called here, and then found some friendly faces. As 7:30 approached, I ditched my jacket and headed for the start line.

My original plan, being two weeks from marathon day and all, was to run this as a tempo run, so around 8:20-8:25 per mile. My marathon goal will be somewhere in the 8:40/mile range (I think), so that has been my tempo pace. On Saturday night, after thinking about my numerous long runs under 8:20 so far, I figured that I could go faster. I decided on 8:00 or so for the first half, with the goal of dropping down to 7:50 or so for the second half.

The race started, and it was a fast start! I clocked a few miles under 7:55, and felt fine, so I figured I'd go with it. It felt manageable. Knowing that the race is supposed to be hilly, I assumed that I would lose those banked seconds later anyway.

The first eight miles felt fine. The course seemed to this flatlander to be rolling hills, and I seemed to take them all in stride. Around mile eight, I felt a bit tired, and queasy. That passed, as did a slightly slower mile. No matter, I had this one.

Once miles nine and ten came, I realized that I had arrived in the hill zone. I just couldn't seem to get back up to speed at the top of each hill before I hit the next one. The few downhills helped, but I still logged several 8:30 miles.

I had enough left in the tank to finish strong-ish, but with seriously aching feet. That one was new for me, and has me a bit worried for the marathon. I decided to take today off, since my left foot still doesn't feel right. I hope it is better by tomorrow, because I need to get back to it!

All in all, the Bull City Race Fest half marathon did not disappoint. It was fun to run through Durham, actually through several places that I've done many of my solo shorter runs on since moving here. I wouldn't mind to try my hand at a flat half right now, to see how my fitness compares to two years ago, but I think I performed well, considering.

Final result: 1:46:23, or 8:07/mile.