Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Road to Chicago, coming soon?

I know I have another month until the Big Sur Marathon, but I am already thinking about my next race. Of course. My plan until recently had been to sign up for Richmond before the next price increase this Thursday, but plans have changed. 

Last night, I entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon, which is October 9th. Another lottery?!? Though having a race entry submitted and done is nice, so is running in a big city, with all of the excitement of a major marathon.

That, and friends! Five of my friends on the Bull City Track Club have cashed in previous marathon times for a guaranteed entry spot. With this being the final year for guaranteed entry by time qualification, it seems a good time to put my name in the hat to tag along.

Will my next challenge be Chicago? The answer, coming to an inbox near me on April 21st!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Race Report: Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon

A month or two ago, I decided it would be a good idea to run the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon as a tune up for the Big Sur Marathon, which is coming up April 24th. Up until the morning of the race, I hadn't really decided how to approach it, however. Marathon pace? Try to race it? What do those even mean? Ack!

The last half I raced was in October 2012, about 8 weeks out from the California International Marathon, and 2 weeks before I broke my leg. I finished in 1:39:43 and was very pleased. Fast forward to fall 2014, when I was finally able to train for the City of Oaks Marathon, and ran the Bull City Race Fest Half as a tune up. At the time, I had the same quandary as with Wrightsville: what does race pace mean for me right now? I finished that race in 1:46:23.

Fancy new singlet! Yay!

So, back to Wrightsville. As Big Sur is a hilly marathon, and my mileage base was absent leading up to this training cycle (you guessed it, injury), I have opted to focus on quality miles and some hills over dedicating the time to track workouts. Is this a good strategy? I'm not sure. I do know that I'm unlikely to run fast at Big Sur due to the killer hills and killer views, so neglecting track is what I'm going with.

My tempo-ish runs have been in the 8:30 range, and my long runs have been pretty strong, so I was confident that I could likely hold 8:15 for the half. I know, not fast, but that is where I am. Could I do faster? Maybe. Ellen and Anna were planning on marathon pace or faster, so I decided to go out with them to see what I could do. 

Going out too fast? Yeah, kinda. But it sure felt good. It was rainy and cold, but it sure felt nice to keep a pace well under 8:00 for the first time in a while (i.e. since I was 28). I was a bit stressed about going too fast, and quickly succumbed to the (very slight) hill on the Trask Drawbridge, slowing down ever so slightly and falling behind my fast friends at the mile 3.3 Wolf Pack aid station. 
Mile 1: 7:53
Mile 2: 7:46
Mile 3: 7:46 

For the next several miles, I still managed to keep my pace under/right at 8:00. I felt fine. I had Ellen and Anna, and their lovely BCTC singlets, in my sights for some of this time. 
Mile 4: 7:48
Mile 5: 7:58
Mile 6: 8:02
Mile 7: 8:03

Up until the halfway point(ish), I really felt that I would be able to pull off an 8:00 per mile pace, which I was pretty excited about. I've doubted my fitness and ability as a runner since I began trying to come back from my broken leg in early 2013. It has been tough to build speed when I'm constantly having some recurring issues. I digress. 

To further digress, I was pretty starving by the time we got to dinner on Saturday. I hadn't brought enough snacks, and didn't bother to buy any before dinner. I was hungry when I woke up before the race, and still felt hungry after eating my oatmeal. Even after a Gu at mile 4 or so, I didn't feel properly fueled. At about the 8 mile mark, I started to feel nauseous. It wasn't terrible, but it certainly slowed me down.
Mile 8: 8:11
Mile 9: 8:15
Mile 10: 8:08

I kept at it, took another Gu, and hoped for the best. When we were winding out of Landfall, the 1:45 pace group swallowed me up. I'm not a big fan of pace groups. I seem to get caught up in them and can't find my way out. Needless to say, I wasn't upset when I wrenched my way free, aside from the fact that they passed me, taking with them my hope of a strong (for me) finish. I slogged out onto the main road, into the headwind, and ran a few disappointing miles to the finish. 
Mile 11: 8:26
Mile 12: 8:19
Mile 13: 8:27

I had enough left to put some gas into the finish, and was happy to be done. 1:46:59 for an official pace of 8:10/mile, or 8:04 according to my watch (which said I ran 13.27). Either way, it was just about 25 seconds shy of my fall 2014 Race Fest finish, and not too shabby for my lack of trackwork. I'm not thrilled, but I'm happy to have run a decent workout with lovely friends, and stuffed my face with good food over the weekend. 

Onward to Big Sur!