Sunday, September 30, 2012

Race Report: Blues and Brews 10 Miler

The Blues and Brews 10 Miler was placed on my race schedule back on May 31st as a final "tune up" for the Chicago Marathon.  My expectations was to go for a pace run for the 10 miles and work out any kinks in my race plan.  As I mentioned in my previous post, 8:00 minute miles are my target for Chicago.  Stay tuned to see how that that panned out.

Does 17 weeks of marathon training work as prep?  The only concern was after my last long run on the previous Sunday, my left heel and ankle have been a bit sore.  I didn't really do much for it until Saturday when I started icing it and took some anti-inflamatory meds.  Sunday morning I woke up for the first time to no pain.  That was quick.

TKB had a long run scheduled and wanted to stick to the trails up north, so I went solo.  For a few of my last long runs, I've been picking up a latte at Starbucks so I gave it a shot today.  I'll be honest, it's Pumpkin Spice Latte time and I'm going to take advantage of that whenever I can.

I got to the race around 6:30 and got an awesome parking spot.  It was literally 15 feet from the start line.  I think I made my own parking spot though, but no ticket when I left.

I hit the port-a-pot and found Aaron and Jenny in the lines.  We chatted for a little bit and around 6:40 I took off for a warm-up run.

My pre-race photo.  It seems to be the thing to do if you are an athlete blogger these days.  Why should I resist?
Once in the start line I found Kristen and another co-worker, Kim, waiting for the start.  It wasn't until now that the sun started to peak over the horizon so I decided to switch to sunglasses.  5 minutes before the race and I needed to run back to the car to get my prescription sunglasses?  No problem since I found an awesome parking spot.

The start was rather anit-climatic.  A taped version of the nation anthem.  No start line banner and a quick, 3-2-1 and GO!  I was about 20 feet back from the start line.  I wanted to stick to an 8:30 pace for the first 2 - 3 miles.

Naturally, I went 7:44, 7:23, 7:35.  Oops.  But to be honest, I felt like I was hitting a great starting pace and miles 2 & 3 were downhill.  I'm pretty shocked to see those paces because they felt SLOW.

Miles 4 - 6: 7:40, 8:00, 7:11 (mile six be referred to as the Slurpee Mile)
Pressure is on at this point.  I'm feeling great and the miles are flying off.  One thing I don't understand is why does every race try to incorporate the Hospital Hill?  Doesn't the Hospital Hill Half-Marathon have a copyright on using those hills or something?  That's the 8:00 mile.

I'm still feeling great.  I'm having fun on the course, thanking the cops and volunteers, joking with the other runners, high-fiving the kids, and yelling at the guy hitting the cowbell, "I NEED MORE COWBELL."

Mile 7 - 7:47 (the airplane mile?)
I was actually concerned about this mile as it was mostly uphill and it always hurts during the Hospital Hill Run (granted, it's only 1/3 of that hill for this race).  I bunkered down because I knew what was coming...

Mile 8 - 7:00
Actually about mile 7.5 to 8.75 is all downhill.  I don't have the exactly split for this section but it was fast.  At the start of the downhill I was thinking "keeping your arms inside the car" as I was using gravity to ride down the roller coaster. I past about 5 runners here because they were holding back.

Mile 9 - 7:04
Most of this was on the downhill so it was still faaaaaaaast.

Mile 10 - 6:54
No more downhill but what I couldn't remember was whether there were any uphills on the map.  At this point in the race, it doesn't matter.  Run your freaking butt off (but don't forget that you are running a marathon in less than a week).  There was a 100 foot incline on the mile but I can't remember it.  I was just picking off runners, hoping they were in my age group.

I turned the corner to see the finish chute and took off.  I thought I heard footsteps behind me but I never saw them.

I hit the finish line, grabbed my medal, gatorade and into the "concert" area.

Within 10 feet of the finish line is the results printout booth, so I picked mine up to see this:

7:24 pace?  Whut?!

4th place!  Did you notice the asterisks?  There was a chance for me to get an Age Group award!

Official Numbers:
Overall: 34 of 625
Age Group: 4 of 39

I met back up with Aaron and Jenny, as well as Kristen, Jeff (Kristen's hubby), and Kim & Michael (also a coworker).  We accepted the fact that there was NO post-race food.  Nothing.  In addition, you would think that a race that includes "Brew" in the name would offer post-race adult beverages.  Well, they did but you had to pay for it.  They did have food available, but you had to buy it from Grinders.

Eventually it was just Aaron, Jenny and me waiting for the post-race concert (the Blues part).  They nailed it quite well by having Blues Traveler headline the concert.  We gave in and grabbed some food from Grinders.  They announced the awards between the opening act and Blues Traveler.

5k female, 5k male, 5k overall, 10 mile female, and finally the 10 mile male.  Something that was pretty evident during the 5k awards was that the KC elites must have slept in on this race.  The fastest 5k time was 20:54, which I beat at my last 5K. This actually concerned me thinking that maybe my age group didn't have one of the top 5 overall.

As it turned out I they did.  I got 3rd place!

I'm going to need two or three beers to fill this up.  Darn.

Race Thoughts
I feel absolutely fantastic with this performance!  I am planning to adjust my Chicago plans but only slightly.  I never thought like I was "dying" out there, even with the fast pace.  My left ankle never hurt (but I plan to continue icing it).


Kristen and Jeff -- Running the 10 miler as a relay.

Jenny and Aaron.  Post-5k.  I think Aaron should have worn his bib upside-down.

The medal is also a bottle opener.  I will use it to fill that glass!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chicago Marathon Goals & Training Lessons Learned

Where Have I Been? blah blah BLAH
I was definitely a lot better posting about my training during the lead up to last year's half-ironman.  This year I've been busy working on a couple personal web site projects plus lots o runnin', so I really haven't been visiting the blog-o-sphere or the twitteverse much.  It's been heads down coding and posting my training on Dailymile.

But, hey, you get TWO posts in THREE days!  Missed my previous post from the week?  Check it out HERE!

"A" Races Through The Years
Compared to the previous major events that I have trained for in the first two years of my endurance career, Kansas City Marathon in 2010 and Beach-to-Battleship 70.3 in 2011, my training for the Chicago Marathon has been spot on.  The last month of my KC Marathon training got sidelined with a bunch of overtime at work.  I got all my weekend runs in but missed about 100 miles of midweek runs.  Last year I broke up my September and October half-iron training due to a broken rib.  Once again, weekend long runs/bike were completed but I rested during the weeks to heal the rib. I only managed three swims during September and October.

I Would Run 500 Miles
This year I could probably count the missed runs on one hand.  According to Garmin Connect, I've logged 550 miles of running and cross training (37 miles of cycling and one mile of swimming) since the training program started June 4th.  This does include a handful of races.

Where Are We Now?
So how has training really gone?  Sure, I'm hitting the mileage but didn't I have some goal for this year?  Yes.  The plan for this year was to Boston Qualify.  I resolved about 8 weeks ago that it wasn't in the cards.

All Time Low?
The training plan called for a half marathon race at week 9.  While I didn't have a half marathon event scheduled, I visited our downtown airport and completed 4 loops on the outer road and it took over 1:50 hours to complete.  I hadn't planned to run the 7:14 pace needed for a BQ but targeted 7:30.  This lasted about 4 miles and officially blew up after 8 or 9 miles.  The temps were probably upper-70s for the run, so that was definitely working against me. This training run lost a lot of confidence in BQing at Chicago and so I decided to reset my expectations.

Proof Is In The Pudding
It wasn't a hard decision because I really hadn't seen any indication that it was a possibility.  I could definitely keep BQ pace going for 3 or 4 miles, if I knew that was all I had to run.  3 or 4 miles at that time doesn't make 26.2.  Twentysixpointtwo miles is a long freaking way.  At some point it's pure mental and I had lost it at that point.

Runnin', Runnin' and More FREAKING Runnin', Runnin'
The thing about this decision was that around week 9 or 10 I had lost much of the joy of running.  It was getting really monotonous.  Joe and I tried to mix up the weekend runs by going to Shawnee Mission Park and running different parts of the park.  One day we did 9 miles of the Brew-to-Brew route.  Once I made this decision to PR instead of BQ, the mental aspect greatly improved but mental anguish turned to physical drain when the 50 mile weeks appeared on the training plan..

The Days You Never Want To Happen
For example, I had one run in September that was only about .2 of a mile long.  I got up at 4:15am, started on one side of my neighborhood and by the time I reached the other side I noticed my pace was so slow I might as well be walking.  I was worn out.  I put my tail between the legs, walked home, and passed out on the couch for another hour.  This did also occur following one of the most extremely emotional days of my life by attending the funeral of my grandmother.  She was an amazing woman who warmed my heart and especially my belly with noodles, cookies, apple butter, apple jelly, home made frozen pudding pops, home grown veggies, ham and beans, apple dumplings, and many other treats.  It's amazing I made it through the the years as lanky and thin as I did.

20 Miles At A Time
Joe and I continued to add variety to our long runs.  We did our first 20 miler on our own, which I ran up to the Kansas City International airport and back at 8:30 pace!  Joe completed his on a treadmill, which I can't imagine ever doing.  The second 20 miler started at Joe's house in Roeland Park and finished in Parkville.  It was a rough 20 miler because the middle 6 miles include a bunch of hills: 9:07 pace.  Our last 20 miler was from my house in Parkville to Joe's house.  8:38 pace!  We avoided some of the hills but there were definitely a lot at the start.  My average heart rate was a beautiful 148 bpm too.

It Doesn't Compute
I still have quite a bit of frustration.  My mid-week runs are in the 8:30 - 9:30 range for the 5 to 10 mile runs.  How can I do run 20 miles over hilly terrain at 8:30-ish pace but do a mid-week 10 mile run at 9:15?  I noticed my last big midweek run of 8 miles was a horrid 9:15 but my HR averaged 131.  My previous mid-week runs followed similar patterns: slow pace with slow HR.  131 isn't even in the aerobic zone for me.

Learn Something New Every Day
I learned a valuable lesson that I subconsciously knew but simply rejected.  When you are targeting a time goal, you just can't mindlessly get the runs in.  They need to be effective and have a purpose.  I've heard many times not to bother with junk miles.  Each run needs to have a purpose and I let a few of my runs turn into junk runs each week recently.  Getting up at 4am to get in 10 miles so I can get to work on time may allow me to get miles on my legs but being half asleep doesn't train for speed.

Things Are Looking Brighter
This week I have changed my mindset even though I'm officially tapering.  My 8 mile run on  Sunday was at a great 8:00 minute pace, my wide awake and focused Tuesday AM 4 mile run hit 7:49 pace and today's 5 mile run was at 7:38 pace (granted, it was on a treadmill and I was doing a HR test... more on that on another post, I hope).  Things are definitely improving on the mental front, but that's the point of tapering!

Chicago Goals
So I'm thinking my chances of an amazing PR at Chicago is very high.  I'm not planning for a BQ but shooting for a BQ if I had the girly parts (under 3:35 hours).  Officially I'm shooting for a 3:29 marathon, which is an 8 minute pace.  My ambitious goal is 3:25.

My biggest concern with Chicago is the pacers are doing even pacing.  I've proven to myself that having a slow first three miles and making up that time over the course of the marathon makes it much easier for me to manage a faster pace, so I may be on my own for the first 7 or 8 miles.

Joe, on the other hand, has a great chance at hitting the goal.  He has been kicking some crazy pavement lately and can't wait to see how he does in his first marathon.  Go Joe Go!!!

By The Numbers
Occasionally I look at Dailymile to see how my mileage is.... looking.  As I mentioned early, 550 miles logged on Dailymile since the 18 week marathon training plan started.  For the year I have logged 914 miles running.  Including all other training, 1161 miles.  Definitely hitting some all time highs here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Race Announcement: The North Face Endurance Challenge Road Race!

Remember this?

And Finally...I signed up for another "big-ish" race but more on that later....  I promise...
It might have been from a post... a while ago.  Well, I try not to break promises so here it goes... it maybe six weeks late...

On November 17 I will be participating in The North Face Challenge Road Race again!

Click Here to Register for The North Face Endurance Challenge

I'm really excited about this race.  Not only do they put on a good event and they are environmentally conscious but I'm going to be adding a new line to my endurance resume... Ultra-Marathoner!  I have signed up for the 50K race, which is a whopping 31 miles!  So maybe it's not one of their 50 mile races or some 100 mile race in Death Valley but it's more than 26.2 miles.

If you remember from last year I put together a marathon relay team of Joe, Kristen and Mike.  Stompin' Sloppies represented by coming 7th out of 40 teams.  Very impressive!

Pre-race Photo. Kristen, Joe VI, Dork, Mike.
Yes, I made everyone get up way earlier than they needed to be.
Coming to the finish line! (OK... we had already finished, just running through again for the team photo op)

It's @TriJayhawkRyan running his 2,000th marathon of the year.  I might be miscalculating...
My partner-in-crime, Joe VI, will be joining me on this year in the 50K.  If you aren't up for the distance, then you have options.  This race is one of the few that covers all the popular distances in one event.  Last year it was spaced over two days, this time it is all in one day.  They have a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Full Marathon Relay and my new favorite, the 50K.  I know you'll be bummed out that they don't have the GORE-TEXT 50 Mile race as The North Face Endurance Challenge has in their Off-Road/Trail races.  Maybe if there is enough interest, we'll finally get that one.

Lucky for you they still are in their early-bird pricing, so you can nab one of those races at a great price.  The next bump is October 18.

Another Shout Out for Ryan...  he has put together an interview with the winner of last year's 50K race, Michael Wardian.  This guy started the race 30 minutes after everyone else and yet still won the race by 36 minutes (chip time).  Don't be a hater, he was using this race a training event for the olympic trails... I think.

What's even more thrilling about this race?  It's in November and not August like last year.  If I remember, we actually had really great weather for it.  I kind of think they should keep it in August to keep make it that much more of a challenge but it's probably a wise decision.

My next big race is in 11 days, I should be posting some pre-race thoughts on the Chicago Marathon in a few days.  After I take a few days off from the marathon, I will be 100% dedicated to the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Race Report: Head For The Cure

Head For The Cure

Last year was the first time I participated in this race.  TKB and I joined the “At The Helm” team then to support our friend Mark, who has battled brain cancer, and we ran with the team again this year!  The Helm family is one of the families I have known the longest of my life.  I went to school with Heather (Mark’s sister) from kindergarten to graduating from undergraduate college.  She's also the person who brought TKB into my life, so I guess I can blame her.  Additionally, Heather taught at the university where I obtained my Masters degree!

I wanted to repeat last year’s performance and hopefully be faster by 3 seconds so I could complete a 5k in under 20 minutes, but I know my legs just aren’t as strong as they were last year.   My hope was to get under 21 minutes, which would be my second fastest 5k time.  I found this interesting knowing that my legs were not as strong this year considering I have been doing nothing but running since mid-June training for the Chicago Marathon.  Last year I was doing a lot of cross-training with swimming and biking training for my first half ironman.

What was quite interesting about the race this year and last year was that I was hitting the peak of my base building for both training plans.  This meant that I was doing a true test of what cycling and swimming does to my running fitness.

TKB and I arrived around 7:00am at Corporate Woods.  We easily found a parking spot and then left to find the Helm family.  The weather was OK.  It was cloudy and the rain had just stopped.  I was wearing my blue singlet (to match the team t-shirts), so I was actually a bit chilly.  We hit the port-a-john and meandered through some of the booths. I was a bit hungry still, so I picked up a banana and bagel.  The race didn’t start until 8am.  It might be a bit late to be eating this much but it turns out to be a smart decision, as I will discuss in a bit.

Shane and I took off for about a mile warm-up around 7:45.  The hope was to get back in time to get in the first few rows of participants.  Last year I lost my sub-20 5k in the first quarter mile of the race as I couldn’t get close enough to the start line and ended up wasting time and energy dodging people.  For the record, I didn't try to get close to the front either.

During our warm-up I noticed a huge line of cars still trying to get into the race so I wasn’t shocked to hear that they had delayed the start of the race “a few minutes”.  A few minutes turned into 24 minutes.  The biggest reason for the delay was the timing company was having issues.  We were told that the timing system worked but they wouldn’t be able to provide race results at the race.  I’m glad I did grab a bite to eat because I would have been starving by this time.

The gun finally shot at 8:24.  Shane and I started our race about 10 feet back from the line.  I just tried to stay behind the fast looking people so I wouldn't cause a traffic jam.  Soon after crossing the start line, I began hitting my stride.  Since I'm 6'4", my stride has a long kick behind me.  Unfortunately, some one behind me apparently thought I was going too slow or was shooting for a better “lane”.  He crossed to the other side of me; however, he did this by going through my legs.  I tripped up, but saved myself at the last millisecond.  It wasn’t Gabriel Douglas pretty, but I did raise my hands to celebrate my “dismount”.

1st Mile
My goal for the first mile was to not go out too fast.  6:45 would be optimal.  Naturally, it clicked off in 6:32.  There is a 60 foot incline during this mile.  I could tell I was in trouble as I was already breathing hard while the other guys around me were just hopping along like it’s a Sunday stroll.  Time to buckle down!

2nd Mile
Legs are burning now as I finish mile two at 6:55.  There is another hill in this mile but just like before, it’s not that bad.

3rd Mile
A slight downhill and I’m trying to do everything I can to not break.  Hearing cheers from TKB and the  Helm and Mecham families as we double backed was awesome.  I tried to wave but couldn’t.  I finished the 3rd mile in 6:51.

.1 Mile
I kicked it up and ran as hard as I could, which apparently was an average 6:33 pace.  I could see the clock was still under 21 minutes, so I booked it!!

Finish: 20:53

I knew pretty early that sub-20 was out.  So the goal was to survive a sub-21.  I just needed to keep the lap times under 7 minutes and I accomplished that.

My original plan was to then run the course again because my marathon training plan had called for a 6 mile pace run.  Well, it actually called for that on Saturday and a 12 mile run on Sunday.  So instead I had planned to flip-flop the days.  I was so gassed after running that 5k that I decided it was enough.  I walked around for 10 minutes to cool down and take in some post-race grub.

I watched TKB and Karen cross the line and walked the booths with them.

Heather was running with her kids, as was Mark and his wife Valerie, so it was going to be a bit before they finished the race.  The reservation time for our brunch was coming up, so TKB and I took off for the restaurant.

Last year I did actually wait around for the award ceremony.  Since I already knew that they wouldn’t be doing one, I didn’t mind leaving early.  Either way, my time was 52 seconds slower and I got 8th place in my Age Group that time.  I wouldn’t have waited either way.

…Later That Day
While I had checked a few times to see if results were posted, TKB and I had a busy day planned.  I wasn't at my computer the rest of the day to check the results.  I got a text from Heather saying “HFTC results are up. You ROCK!”.  I pulled up the race results to see that I got 3rd place in my Age Group!!!

My 3rd Place Medal and Race Shirt

I was absolutely shocked!!  Of course I immediately went into the mode of comparing this to last year and played down the achievement.   Sure, I got 3rd but the overall winner was in my age group (Dale Dexter), so I really got 4th. I was behind 2nd place by almost two minutes and I was ahead of 4th place by 40 seconds.  So a majority of the group of fast runners that put me in 8th last year simply had something else to do.

I’ve finally resolved that I showed up and I got that position in my own right.  I still fought through plenty of pain and mental anguish to finish.  I was the 3rd fastest age grouper that day, and that is still amazing.

The whole At The Helm crew.  I guess I was taking the photo :)
Actually, I was waiting for the race to start... apparently 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

Link to the start.  
Check about 15 seconds in.  I'm on the other side of the street.  Look for the white visor and blue singlet/tank top.  It's ok to laugh.  I always do.