Saturday, March 22, 2014

Race Report: Lucky 13.1

The plan was pretty straight forward for this race.  Take it easy going out of the gate, cruise through the middle miles and race the last few miles.  Let's see how well I can stick to the plan....

I've completed 7 half marathons up to this point.  Each one of them had a feeling of running for 13.1 miles and that I would start, hang on the hip of a pace group leader, zone out for a while, then in the last few miles I'd pick up the pace and finish.  

This one was different.  For one thing, there were no pace groups.  So I was going to have to focus on my own pace.  Another thing was this race did not seem like it was going to be a 13 mile run.  Maybe doing 7 half marathons have made them an attainable distance.  Maybe it's because my last major race was a full ironman. 

I'm not saying it was going to be easy.  I just had the confidence of my last hard run and now I'm looking to add another 5k to the end of that 10 miler.  Putting it that way, I was looking at doing just over four 5Ks at an easy 5K pace!

Another thing coming into this was that I had a chance at a podium for my age group.  Knowing that, I was determined to bear down and stay focused for the entire 13 miles.

Packet Pickup
They offered Friday packet pickup at Gary Gribbles, so TKB and I stopped in.  Since they offered a 5k distance, TKB decided to sign-up and join in on the fun!  I love it when we get to race together!

With the race in Peculiar, MO it was going to require some travel time.  It's about an hour away from Parkville.  Even though the race was at 9am, we had to leave by 7:15am to get there with time to warm-up.

Temps were in the 40s and partly cloudy with some wind.  Aside from the wind, it was really a nice day for a race.

After a run around the parking lot and a bio break, it was getting close to toe the line.  A friend from Master's Swim class (who I actually got to know through Dailymile initially) was their supporting her boyfriend Donny who was using this race as a prep for Boston next month!

The race started on the track inside the stadium.  After lining up and a few words from the race director, we were off with a boom!  Literally.  I mean... I had been in the stadium for about 20 minutes and I never noticed one thing, the freaking huge canon sitting right next to the start!  I was NOT expecting that boom!  

We did about 350 meters on the track before releasing to the parking lot, around the school, and then off onto the roads.

Mile 1 - 3
These are the slow start miles, which I'm pretty hit or miss.  I was planning 7:30 for the first mile and I was cruising along at 6:30.  I did my best not to focus on the people around me but I have a feeling I got swept up.  I slowed myself down but still logged 6:45.  

Mile 2 saw us leaving the school grounds onto the road and kept trying to keep the brakes on.  7:02 for mile 2.  With mile three at 6:58, I was starting to get into a good pace.  During mile 3 I got past buy a guy and girl who seemed to be pacing pretty well.  I kept them within my sights.

Miles 4 - 6
These miles were mostly uphill but I managed to keep my paces between 6:46 and 6:56.  I was starting to catch-up to the guy and girl again.  The hill was impacting them more than me.  

The end of mile 6 marked the beginning of the loop to the turn around.  It also marked the start of the real race.

Miles 7 - 9
So as the turn around began, I started pushing the pace a bit. I had caught the guy and girl that had passed me earlier and there was another set of female/male runners (what's with the pairing?!).  I slowly caught up to them around mile 8 by taking advantage of the down hill.  

At this time we were starting to meet many of the other half marathoners because they were still on the "out" leg of the race.  One of them was counting off lead runners.  The girl was 12, the other guy was 13, and I was 14!  

In the next mile I had edged the two (putting me in 12th).  The girl, who I assumed was a high school cross country runner, had snuck in behind me.  There was a nasty headwind blowing and she had tucked into my slipstream.  Smart move... until our legs connected.  Luckily I didn't break form and she apologized... and moved ahead.

Miles 10 - 12
These miles brought on more hills and the pounding of the race was catching up on me (and likely my fast start).  6:59, 6:53, and 7:08.  The guy and girl I had caught had pulled ahead.  I was in 13th overall as we had passed by someone during mile 9.

Eventually I made a 90 degree turn and looked back.  The path behind me was clear.  

Unfortunately, I lost my heart rate monitor.  This happens to me occasionally if I don't tighten it up.  While I don't have data heart rate displayed on my watch during a race, I still wanted to the data.  It had been falling on me most of the race, so I just let it fall and rested around my waste (I had a hydration belt on, so it was trapped above that under my shirt).

Mile 13
We wind back through the Ray-Pec School parking lots (surprisingly big, so they must have all the schools together).  I kept pushing and pushing.  I was probably 10 seconds behind the guy in front of me and we were booth trying to push the pace.  The girl had taken off and no longer in sight.

As I entered the stadium, Donny had taken to the track with me.  I kept pushing and pushing and using his encouragement.


For being a small race, there wasn't much of a finish line.  You enter a chute to have your chip removed and hand you your medal.  

I finally checked my watch: 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 7 seconds!  ARGH!!  


No sub-1:30 but I'm still thrilled with the race!  After another 20 minutes, they finally posted results.  My official time was 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 6 seconds, which was good enough for 3rd in my age group!

It wasn't until about 5 seconds after this photo that I realized it still needed to be filled out...

Not bad starting this season out with a podium spot!  Overall I ended up in 12th place.

They had a good variety of food from fruits, bagels, granola bars, water, and they also had pasta in the form of Mac & Cheese.

We decided to wait for awards since, you know, I was getting one and cheered on more of the finishers.  We ended up staying another hour in order to wait for the award announcements but the sun had come out and laying on the field turf was rather comfy.

I was happy with my time, even though I do wish I had cut out another 6 seconds.  The 7 minute PR is pretty sweet.  I justify this by saying I went out way faster than I had planned.  So even of those 45 seconds did not translate into 51 seconds regained later in the race, I wouldn't have beaten the sub-1:30 anyway. 

I did like this race and would recommend it.  It is a challenging enough course with the 550 feet of elevation gain (which comes in chunks) plus some nasty headwind on the return trip.  The road was a asphalt country road and, with the nasty winter we had, the roads had some rough patches.  As long as you were paying attention, they were manageable.

The course was well marked with mile markers and Ray-Pec Cross Country flags at each post.  Aid stations were about every 1.5 miles with only one station containing gels; however, with the out-and-back nature of the course, you would hit it twice.


Our support for TeamHelm during the race.  We wear these shirts at Head for the Cure. Our friend Mark just had his 5th surgery to remove brain cancer and he rocked it!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lucky 13.1 Race Goals

First race of 2014!  Should be an interesting one because this race historically has had a small participant list.  The last three years it's been about 120 to 130 participants, about 2/3 of which are men.

Since this is a tune-up for Louisville, I debated between treating this as a half marathon race or the first half of a marathon.  Talking with Coach Ken, the plan will be a little of both.  Just like one of my favorite quotes:
"First half of the race, don't be an idiot.  Second half of the race, don't be a wimp." 
Scott Douglas
I'm going to treat the first 3 to 4 miles just like I would my marathon, smart.  With the few number of participants, it will be extremely easy to get sucked into the speedy Ray-Pec High School Cross Country kids that this race supports.

From 4 to 9, fast but steady.

9 to finish, leave it all out on the road!

In this past weekend's 10 miler, I was able to keep sub-7s for most of the run and I want to do the same on Saturday.

My half marathon PR is 1:37:08.  Going sub-1:35 is a definite.  Can I go sub-1:30?  We'll know about 10:30am on Saturday!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

2014 Race Schedule!

Lucky 13.1 - This is my tune-up run for my April marathon.  I'm hoping for a massive PR.  It's this weekend!

April - Official
Brew-to-Brew Relay - I think this is the 5th year of my running in the Stompin' Sloppy's team.  Since I have a 15 mile run scheduled that day, I'm taking the 3rd leg and the running to Linwood after I pass-off the baton.

Louisville Marathon!  This is my "A" race for the spring and my attempt at a Boston Qualifying time.  I haven't set my official goals yet, but I definitely want a 3:08 marathon to ensure a Boston bib.  My current plan is to line up with the 3:05 pace group as that is the pace I have been training with when I need to do a "marathon race pace" training run.

April - To be determined
Garmin Marathon - Was going to be my Boston Qualifier but elected for Louisville instead due to course concerns.  While I'm registered, I may adjust it to the half as a recovery run.

May - Official
Kansas City Triathlon (Long) - Last year this race was cancelled while we were in our wetsuits waiting for storms to pass.  I'm giving it a shot because it ended up being extremely cheap after a black friday deal and the race organizers offering 2013 participants some good deals.

May - To Be Determined
Kansas City Corporate Challenge 5k - This is the same weekend as a camp that Coach Ken is holding.  So if I can manage that days activities with the 5k, I'll get signed up.

Kansas City Corporate Challenge Bike Race - I did this last year and it was a blast.  I ended up being the fastest participant for my company, so I'd hope to be a good shot for this year too.  Of course, I'm also a co-coordinator for the event, so I might have a good "in" :)

June - To Be Determined
Kansas City Corporate Challenge Track - I always seemed to get suckered into this.  Probably the 1 mile event.  I did the 800 meter event last year but I don't think they'll do it this year.

Kansas City Corporate Challenge Swim - I have always turned this down but with the swim class, I am willing to participant.  My Master's Swim class coach, Doug Hayden, used to be my company's coordinator for the event but he moved to another company this year.

Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon - I enjoy doing this event and am planning on it this year. I'm also the company coordinator for this event but not going to slot myself immediately.  If someone faster registers in my age group, I'll be more than happy to give up the spot.

Grandma's Marathon - My backup BQ race.

June - Official
I have not officially registered for any June events yet.  Every year I have registered for the Hospital Hill Half Marathon but I don't think I'm going to do it this year.  I will honestly say that I'm not really focusing on this race because I'm trying to save a few dollars this year on races.

July - Official
Non registered but I'm looking at Kansas 5150 as a July triathlon.

August - Official
Matt Mason Cowboy Up Triathlon - Sprint distance triathlon.  It takes place in Smithville Lake, which is where I grew up.  So that should be fun.

Chicago Triathlon - This is the "A" race for the second half of the season.  This race should be a blast!  We have a bunch of friends in KC participating as well as a bunch of friends from North Carolina.  I think we our up to 8 people total?  This race is a bucket list item because it's one of the largest triathlons in the world in terms of participation count.  My goal is to PR and finish in the top 10% of my age group. I think that will be easily obtained.  So I'll nail down those goals closer to the event.

September - December
Nothing planned.  I'm sure I'll put in a race to focus on and it may end up being another marathon or a half ironman (Redman Tri?).  I actually do have the Bay State Marathon in my race schedule for late October.  This is a race in Massachusetts that typically BQ's 25% or more of its participants.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Training Updating

Swim: 6700 yards / 2:16
Bike: 17 Miles / 1:00
Run:  44 Miles / 5:31
Strength: 1 Session

Total: 65 miles / 9:47

I had a couple challenging run sessions this week, one of which was a 10 mile goal marathon race pace.  It worked out that I needed to take the truck to the dealership, which happens to be about 10 miles from my house.  I took off at 7:18 pace for the first mile and then proceeded to stay under 7:00 pace until I hit mile 9 and 10, where I hit 30% of the course's elevation gain in about half a mile stretch.  Those miles were still 7:10 and 7:11 pace, still under my minimum Boston Qualifying pace.  To clarify, I need to run a marathon at a 7:14 pace as a minimum qualifying pace but I'm shooting for 7:03 pace.

What I found interesting about this run is that it didn't seem hard to stay at this pace.  I say that in the sense that when I do a run at 7:45 pace, it seems like 7:00 pace would be hard.  I think it's a lot mental but also when you get yourself into a groove, it's not that hard to stay in that groove.

My 20 miler was the next day and it went well.  I had one hiccup, which I hope isn't a new problem.  When I first went to the doctor about my foot neuroma, he installed metatarsal pads (met pads) in my shoes.  I haven't really had any issues with that until today when it created a blister on the bottom of my foot. I could tell something was going on and when that soreness turned weird, I stopped and took off my shoe and confirmed the blister.... and that it had broken open.  I was able to finish my run with no problems.  The fact that the neuroma wasn't an issue after a hard 10 miler on Saturday and a 7:42 pace 20 mile run on Sunday makes me think I can start running without the met pads too.

I have a race announcement, which I will post in a bit.  I'm also hoping to publish my 2014 race schedule too.

That's all for now!  Check back this week for a couple extra posts!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

From Couch to Coach

I think there is a natural progression to this racing thing when starting as an adult.  First you lace up some old tennis shoes and go for a run.  Then you sign-up for a 5k.  After a few of those, you decide to try something different.  A 10k?  Maybe even a half marathon.  Now you've been bit by the running bug.  You try to see what your body can do.  Shoot for a full marathon!?  Sure!

Possibly preparing for the marathon you realize you need some cross training.  Maybe just running isn't enough.  Or you're looking to get more fit in other ways.  So you buy a bike.  Someone then invites you to go swimming. Sounds great!  Will there be beer at the pool too?  Nope, it's hovering above a 25 yard long black line in this pool while trying not to drown.

Might as well sign up for a sprint distance triathlon... then a long course.  Survived that.  Eventually a half ironman enters the picture.  Maybe a full ironman?  Why not!  Let's see what this body can do!

OK.  You've conquered all those distances.  Now what?  Boston?  Kona? 50k? 50 miles?!?!  Trail runs?  Bike Across [Enter State Name Here]?

This is essentially my story.  People ask me why I did an ironman or marathons or the Goofy Challenge.  My stock answer is simply to see if I could.  It's a life challenge for me.  I literally worked my ass off for it and no one can take it away.  So if I've met my goal of an ironman, should I sell my bike?  Throw away the swim jammers?  Tie my running shoes together and throw them over a phone line?  Heck no!

I want to get better. I want to get faster.  I want to push my limits.  I want to run Boston.  Earn a spot to Kona (and TKB wants a vacation to both of these places).  Can I do this on my own?  Very possibly.  Will I do it effectively and injury free?  Who knows.  Could I do it with a generic training plan that's geared toward the "every" person on a forgiving schedule?  Maybe.

So this is the year I hand over the reigns.  I have written about joining Doug Hayden's Masters Swim class.  I'm already seeing some great improvements from it.  I just hope it translates to open water.

You may have noticed in my post about the bike test that I met up with Ken Welsh of Midwest Triathlon Coaching.  Well, I am in fact signed up with Coach Ken.

The conversation started a few months back as he had put out some feelers on Facebook for someone with web developer experience to make some changes for him.  That's right up my alley, so we started the conversation from there and it quickly moved to signing on to his team.  There are a lot of coaching options out there but after a coworker had recommended Ken, I started to seriously consider it.  Even my coworker's husband used to work with Ken as well.

When I initially met up with Ken, I could quickly tell that we had the exact same philosophy about training and racing.  It felt like a good fit.

Ken is helping me finish up the final months to my April marathon for a BQ opportunity (more on that soon).  Then we will focus up on my "A" triathlon race in August (more on that soon).   Then we'll start looking at a big race for 2015 (more on that soon.... uh.. eventually).

It's been a great experience over the last few months.  I've enjoyed the change up in the workouts from the lame "60 minute ride" and "6 mile easy run" to specific drills for swim, bike, and run.  I'm definitely seeing benefit to this new regimen too.  I'm more focused when someone is looking over my shoulder and more likely to get that training session in.

Ken has helped me align my race schedule with my goals as well.  I ended up changing my goal marathon race in April based on his insights and trying to focus on specific races instead of loading it up.

If you want to learn about Ken's coaching business, check him out here!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekly Training Update

Swim - 6000 yards / 2:15
Bike - 43.04 miles / 2:30
Run - 28.8 miles / 3:43
Strength - 1 Session

Total: 75.19 / 8:43

I did another "fast finish" run this week.  It was a 6 mile easy effort then 6 miles at goal marathon race pace.    I managed 7:03 pace this week on the last 6, so feeling good about that.  I did this Saturday morning in order to beat the nasty weather that arrived later Saturday.

Not really much to report this week.  I think everything is on track.  While those 6 miles felt good, I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out over longer distances!