Monday, December 15, 2014

Fa La La Half Marathon

Last race of the year in Westminster. The course was a mix of concrete and gravel on a slightly rolling course. I have the tendency to go out a bit too fast at road races, so I was determined to keep the pace even throughout. I tucked into 3rd place within the first mile and kept the effort within reason. I was content to let two people pass me during the 2nd mile. A 6:17 average for the first three miles felt reasonable. I was in 7th place by mile 4 and was running just behind 6th. Given the effort I felt like I could hold 6:30 for the remainder of the race. I continued to run just behind 7th place up until the turnaround on the second out and back around mile 8. I could see that 1-3 were well ahead, but could sense some potential carnage among places 4-6.

Just before the turnaround I surged to move into 6th, feeling certain that continuing to click off 6:25-6:30 would allow me to pick off another place or two. My legs were certainly hurting, but my breathing wasn't completely out of control. I took whatever small sips of gel or sports drink I could without having to slow down too much. I continued to run in 6th up until the 11th mile. The perceived effort felt much more than the 6:37, but I was reeling in 5th. I eventually passes 5th and could see 4th just ahead. I kept grinding as I approached the 12th mile. I ran side by side with 4th for about a quarter mile, then made a move coming up a small roller. After passing I cranked hard down a gradual downhill as I spotted the finishing area. I could sense that I was continuing to distance myself, but that 3rd was out of reach. I was hoping to dip under 1:25, but finished in 1:25:18 for fourth overall. I was happy to be able to move up in the field the entire race and have consistent energy throughout. The half marathon distance is always very challenging and requires a great deal of focus.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

HRCA Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon

I realized within the first couple miles that it wasn't going to be my day. Everything was more labored than usual and I couldn't find the gear I needed. Everything felt flat, so I was content to just grind until I hopefully found some sort of rhythm. Less a few short downhills, the first half of the course is essentially all uphill. I was somewhere around 20th just before the halfway point and had just been passed by a couple folks.

This motivated me to push a bit harder, hoping my body would respond. I was feeling a bit better and regained the places I had just given up, as the course briefly spread out onto a gravel road right around the halfway point. The second half of the course was for the most part singletrack, less a bit of pavement just before the finish. I entered the singletrack determined not to give up my place and hopefully make up some time along the way. It was muddy and technical in spots. I was having fun again. One last climb from miles 9-11, which I crested finally viewing a couple other runners not too far ahead. Although my climbing was flat for the day, I was running the downhills well enough. I picked up one more place within the last mile, but couldn't quite close on the next runner ahead. 16th place in 1:35.

This was one of those days where a longer race likely would have benefited me. I appreciate the days I struggle though. There is always a better mile around the corner, but sometimes it is a longer grind than usual getting there.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Louisville Trail 13.2 and Kooky-Spooky 10K

Louisville Trail 13.2

This would be my shortest race in at least two years. I spent a couple weeks after Run Rabbit Run getting back on the bike, reducing my mileage, and focusing on proper workouts. I lined up for Louisville not really knowing what was going to happen, but figured I could at least hold 6:30 for the race. It is by no means a trail race with the majority of the running on fine gravel and concrete. There was probably a .2 mile section of single track for the whole race.

The course consisted of one loop to the west of the start and an out and back to the east of the start, each to be run twice. The western loop was a very slight uphill grade for the first half and a very slight downhill on the back. I tucked into fourth from the start, while a guy running with a book bag was sprinting beside me. Surely enough he dropped off after the first 400 meters. The leader was clearly going to dust everyone, while 2nd and 3rd were a bit too fast for me. My goal was to hang on to fourth if possible. Kept the first four miles between 6:10 and 6:30.

The out and back part of the course had the only hill of the day, short and steep on one side and a bit more moderate on the other. Enough to slow you down for sure.I was running 6:40ish for this part of the course for the most part, just trying to stay where I was without exploding. Now fifth place was steadily behind me for most of the race, but finally passed me around mile 10 towards the final out and back. I didn't have much at the time and my late surge across the final mile didn't real him in much. A strong finish, coming in at 1:26:20 for fifth place.

Happy with how the race played out. My lack of work on surging up and down rollers was evident as the small hills took a lot out of me. That's to be expected though when you shift gears from long/slow grinds up big climbs to the faster stuff.

Kooky-Spooky 10K

The race starts from the stadium just off of Hwy 93 and north of N Table Mtn. The race starts with a mile completely downhill, then a downhill to flat mile, a 300 ft climb spread across the next two miles, a mile downhill to flattish, then a flattish to slightly uphill final mile. It was a dynamic course for sure that tests just about everything. Just what I was looking for. It was also a fairly warm day, given the 9:30 AM start.

Looked down at my watch during the first half mile and was running 4:50 pace, so backed off slightly as third pulled ahead of me. One of those races where I knew within the first mile that I would likely not contend for anything beyond third place, but sure wanted to try. I hit the first mile in 5:29. Mile 2 came in 6:03 and I was already working too hard. The next two miles uphill took a lot out of me as 1st and 2nd moved just out of sight, steadily widening their gap. Time to hold on and not give up third. I grunted up to mile 4 and was already toast. Miles 3 and 4 ticked off in 7:29 and 7:30. Feeling pretty wasted at this point! I knew I needed to bomb the next downhill mile to prevent any late surge from 4th, as mile 5 came in at 5:57. I widened the gap between myself and fourth  and felt comfortable at mile 5 with my place. The final 1.2 miles show a couple short uphills, with a steady uphill finish. I hit the final mile in 6:47, with a time of 40:58 and third place. They originally switched 1st and second and gave me fourth, but have since corrected the results.

This was my first 10K and it was definitely intense. My weakness on really driving up the hills showed, but I have definitely improved since the last race. It is fun when you do a race that tells you exactly what you need to work on.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Run Rabbit Run and Catching Up

No matter how good you feel leading up to or during a race...something can always pop up when you least expect it. After running a seemingly effortless 30 miles at RRR my left Achilles flared up, enough for me to make the decision to drop. It's always tough, but the potential to really injure myself and be away from something that gives me so much on a daily basis made the decision an easy one. I called it a day at mile 42 after having to walk the previous 5 miles.

I've had Achilles injuries in the past and don't plan on going down that road again.

I've been back running without any issues and have been biking quite a bit as well. It's good to shift gears and focus on intensity for the next couple months. I've signed up for a couple half marathons and 10ks.  Hoping to keep up with the structured work while gearing up for the long stuff next be determined, but I really did love the vibe up in Steamboat..might have to get another under my belt in Bryce Canyon before then.


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