Sunday, January 27, 2013

F^3 Lake Half Marathon race recap

I love reading people's race recaps where they walk you through the race, mile by mile. This will not be one of those recaps however, as I just don't recall things in that much detail. This will be more of a first half went like this, second half went like that report.

Training cycle
Duration - 12 weeks
Consistency of running during cycle - could have been better, very much could have been worse. I'm giving myself a C+. This is the first training cycle where I haven't been Injured. There were some niggling pains that I opted to treat with rest during this cycle but no capital I - need to seek professional treatment - injuries. A definite win in my books.
Adherence to actual training plan - massive fail (grade = F). While I am not overly fussed about strictly following a mileage plan, I am disappointed at my lack of stretching, strengthening, nutritional focus and workout variety. I am disappointed because these are the things that will help prevent me from getting injured. And with my 2013 marathon goal, I need to work on not getting injured.

Race Day
This is the most relaxed I have been heading into a race for a very long time ever. I was up late the night before listening to the Triple J Hottest 100. This has been a tradition for me on Australia Day, so I was reluctant to give it up, even though the time difference was a killer. Despite the count being barely past 50, I gave up at about 11:45. I didn't set an alarm for Saturday morning, as I naturally wake up somewhere between 5:00 and 7:00 (depending on when I go to sleep). See, how relaxed is that?!

True to form, I was awake by 7:10 and went about getting things together. A weather check revealed good conditions.

OK, so this is technically the weather at the race start.
You know what I mean though.
Oh, and it's in celsius because I still think better that way sometimes.

I needed to be on a 9:00am bus to make the start, so had plenty of time...until I couldn't find safety pins for my race number! And this is why it's best to prepare the night before. I managed to locate the pins and after three attempts to get out of my apartment (remembered to get my gel, then thought I should take ID and finally remembered I needed my bus pass!), with shoes untied and still shoving items in my bag I made it to the bus stop. 

Turned out it was the F^3 bus! Nearly every passenger on the bus was heading to the race.

I gear checked my bag at around 9:50, took a self-potrait to memorialise the day, and headed to the start line. I ran into the girls (Megan, Annie and Danna) from my CARA training group at the start line (got to love small races!) and was ready to go with virtually no "standing around" time.

Just to prove I was at least at the start line and there was snow.

The Race
As is typical, the first part of the race was a crowded mess. That we were running on a fairly narrow path with unstable footing on either side (aka snow) did not help. I ran with the girls at approximately 11:00 pace for the first couple of miles. We were joined by our training group pace leader for some miles between Mile 1 and 4 which was nice too. Highlight of this part was the first water station where ice had formed in the water cups because of the temperature - not something I'd get back home!!

By Mile 5 we had picked up to around a 10:40 pace which made me happy as I was aiming for a 2:22:xx finish (pretty much just wanted to beat my previous PR of 2:23:xx). I was the only one in my little group with a watch, so was unofficially pacing. This left me in a dilemma as I knew I wanted to go out faster than we had trained at (given the long run pace is supposed to be slower than race pace) but the group wanted to run more at our training pace. I figured that as long as we were sub 10:50 I could still hit my time, so just persisted with what felt like a comfortable pace.

The next few miles were uneventful (at least, I can't think of anything to report right now, so I'll assume they were uneventful).

Somewhere around Mile 7(?) we were joined by Megan's dad and by Mile 8 (past the turn-around and on the way "home") I decided I needed to go out on my own. I was feeling good and there was someone else there to pace the rest of them in.

My pace from that point was averaging 10:20. I didn't feel like I was flat out pushing myself but I could definitely feel more of a "race" feeling in my legs. I just focussed on passing the next person in front of me (an overall successful move). I got into a "pass - be passed" routine with a group of run/walkers for a mile which was a little irritating. They eventually got ahead of me and it was back to just passing the next person in front. Then in the lead up to Mile 12, when I was feeling tired, I encountered another "pass - be passed" person. She was, however, running. We were pretty close to the same pace but with water stations and my repeated need to stop to blow my nose (stupid pre-race cold!!) we were exchanging the lead.

Then she cut me off during one of her passes. As in, I actually had to pull up to avoid a collision.

The next thing that went through my head (at least, I hope it was just in my head):
"You're going down, bitch".
I lack patience at the best of times. When I'm tired, I become downright anti-social. 

I overtook her and made sure there was some distance between us. There was no way she was overtaking me again. I should probably thank her because Mile 13 came in at 9:38. That I managed that pace with 12 miles on my legs already...I'm in shock.

End result, after 13.1 miles:

Five minute PR. I'll take that!

I headed to the Cubby Bear after the race for the official After Party. I couldn't find anyone I knew but luckily a friend who hadn't run the race came to celebrate with me. My recovery schedule was pretty poor as I refuelled with only beer until around 3:30pm when I finally had a burger and fries. It was pretty much the best burger I have ever had in my entire life. Although, any food was likely to be the best food I had ever eaten in my entire life at that stage.

Would I do it again
Definitely. It was pretty well organised and the small field makes for an enjoyable race. The best part is, this year I ran it for the novelty of a proper winter race (namely, in Australia a winter race just means you wear long sleeves on the way to the start line). Next year I'll be doing it because I love running in winter. And I love Chicago and just want to be involved in as much as I can.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fast week

Today was my last long run before the F^3 Lake Half next weekend. I have been looking forward to this race for a while and after this past week, I'm even more excited.

Despite being sick this week (poor me), I have had some solid, fast (relatively), effortless runs.

After last weekend's 11 miles with a severely reduced run group (there were only two of us), I was confident with the distance. Well, I was confident before the run but it's reassuring to put that last long, long run in. After last weekend though, I am not confident about summer. At around 50 degrees (F, or 10 degrees Celsius) it was warm for January but probably not what would be classified as warm weather generally. But it was still too warm for me and I did not come out of that run feeling well. I need to come up with plan to fix this.

Anyway, back to fast week. I put in 5 miles on Tuesday - it ended up being an unplanned progression run. And by unplanned I mean I didn't have a plan going into it, other than run and I didn't have a plan during it, other than keep on running. I love running with a watch but very rarely look at it while I'm running. I especially love coming home and seeing how I've done.
This run was amazing on so many levels - I love how I just kept getting faster and faster. And I LOVE my mile 5 time of 9:12. The day I have a mile that's under 9:00 (and I know it will happen) I think I will probably lose it.

Wednesday was 4 miles (supposed to be 3 but I got a bit excited). Hello 9:50 average! Another unplanned progression run. Another run where I wasn't pushing myself as much as I can.
Training is awesome - you run consistently (or semi-consistently) and you improve!!

Finally, Friday was another 5 miles. Technically another progression run and yet again, three sub-10:00 miles.

After my best week of running yet, I am so ready for next weekend. And I am ready for more in 2013. I hope to unveil my race plans soon - there's plenty more 13.1 mile/21.1 km runs in my future!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A case in point

A whole two days ago, I posted my learnings from my recent streaking attempt.

Today, I reinforced point number 3: I am capable of more than I sometimes give myself credit for

I would like to bring your attention to mile 5. 9:39min/mile. Or 5:59min/km.

A pace in the vicinity of 10:30 excites me. A pace of 10:15 is cause for spontaneous dancing. A pace of 9:39 is something I didn't think I could do.

This is one of the reasons I love to run. While I do complete against others, I mostly compete against myself. And I love seeing myself get better, grow and exceed my expectations again and again.

I know my pace is slow for some. But I think I'm awesome.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Three weeks out

The past week was not an ideal running week.

This can be translated to mean I did my long run and not a lot else. Perfect training for a half marathon, don't you think?

These guys had a lot of time off this week

What did I do? I pulled 10 miles out of the bag on Saturday. They were not great. I was planning an escape within the first mile. But I made it. And, as always, it was not as bad as I had imagined. My stomach was off for most of it and my legs were T-I-R-E-D by the end. On a positive note, the company was great (as always).

A few of the girls in my training group and I have made tentative plans to run the half together. I am a little apprehensive with this plan as I'm not sure what this might mean for my pace. The F^3 Half is not my "target" race for the year. This race went on my calendar as something different and something I couldn't do at home. But my inner competitor wants to do well. Of course, if we run the whole race at our training pace I'll only be one minute off my PB, which is awesome. So it is likely that we'll go out a little faster. But what if we don't? Every race can't be a PB. But I so want it to!!

What do you think - is it a good idea to run a race (especially a half marathon) with a few other people?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What I learned by streaking

I made the decision to participate in the Runner's World Run Streak last year. It was not my most successful endeavour.

But I learned a few things (or at least had some things I already know reinforced) from what I did do.

1. Routine is my friend
While I had my routine I was feeling good and in control.
While I had my routine I knew what I was doing and where I was going and what I was going to eat and when I was going to run.
While I had my routine running was easy.

Once I lost my routine - thank you parties and injuries - everything became so much more difficult.

Action plan:
Use my calendar to plan when I can run
Spend time each week to plan my meals
Have fun but do my work first

2. Big plans excite me but also overwhelm me
I love having a plan. A plan motivates me to get out and give things a go.
Self-doubt leaves me questioning whether I can achieve what I have planned.

Action plan:
Keep dreaming big
Break the big dreams down into smaller parts
Believe in myself

3. I am capable of more than I sometimes give myself credit for
See point three above.

Action plan:
Look back on what I have done and learn from the past - I have always achieved what I was aiming for when I truly believed in what I was seeking
Believe in myself