Saturday, September 18, 2021

It was my best Plaza 10k, it was my worst Plaza 10k

The short:

I nabbed my best ever overall placing with what was by far my slowest time at this race, with 2nd overall female in 38:15.  Due to various factors (the heat, peak marathon training, seeing two friends suffer devastating losses in the days before the race), my expectations for the race were not high.  In retrospect, I am quite happy with the place and quite meh about the time.

Results are here.

My Strava activity is here.

Better together
The long:

I continued my hot weather racing streak at the Plaza 10k, with no clouds in the sky and 80 degrees on race morning.  Because the race fell 3 weeks before my season goal marathon, I planned to train right through it, and the forecast made me confident that was the right decision (i.e., I won't run a fast time at 80 degrees no matter how rested I am).  The week before the race I had workouts that never felt good but that I hit my paces on, which is typical for me in the throes of marathon training, and a few days before the race I saw 104 miles on my rolling 7.  I don't think racing without a taper necessarily hurts my performance, but I certainly don't feel as fresh; I just grit it out when feeling tired like I do in a lot of workouts during marathon training!

Before things went downhill in the days leading up to the race, my goal was to place as high as I could.  The best I'd ever placed at the race previously was 6th overall female.  I also hoped to win overall masters female, and to break the Missouri age 40 state record of 38:04.  Race morning I warmed up with friends and tried to enjoy the moment, but had a really hard time getting my head in the game.  In the few days prior to the race, I had a friend who lost her son unexpectedly and another friend who lost her husband, so it was difficult to place importance on the race.  My heart wasn't in the race, it was with them.

We all saw the photographer on a ladder at the start!

I saw several fast Kansas City women on the starting line, and knew they would push me in the race.  From the gun a woman I didn't know was ahead for the first half mile or so, then me and the ladies I was running with (Chandler and Amy) passed into the top 3 female positions.  I knew both Chandler and Amy were talented runners, and I was hopeful for a top 3 finish because our start felt very conservative (6:13 on the flat first mile) and no other women were around.

Race instinct took over to some degree, and I slowly upped the effort.  Like every Kansas City race, this isn't an even split course, though this is the flattest course I run in that area with about 170 feet of elevation gain.  Mile 2 was 6:03 and mile 3 6:11, though as usual I didn't look at my watch during the race.  Typically this race has a clock at the 5k but this year they didn't have a clock or timing mat, which I missed!  Sometime around the halfway point, Chandler and I pulled away from Amy.  I felt confident that I could hold onto 1 and 2 with Chandler; I had no pep but the pace also didn't feel that hard, and I knew Amy had to be feeling a lot worse than I was to let us gap her.

Running with Chandler is always a pleasure!  I really enjoyed sharing most of this race and most of Rock the Parkway with her.  She is kind, positive, and helps me get the best out of myself.  With where I was mentally and emotionally for this one, running with a friend beside me was extra helpful.

Mile 4 is downhill and usually my favorite mile of this race, but this year they were doing road construction in that area and it was all rivety.  It was not ideal terrain for Next % shoes, that's for sure!  My friend Andrew, who went out faster than me, hopped up on the sidewalk for a moment to avoid the crappy road, and I considered following him but it cut a corner off the course slightly so I didn't because I sure wasn't getting disqualified in my one chance of a top 2 finish at this event!  He realized the situation soon and jumped back on the I'm-going-to-twist-an-ankle road, and shortly after that Chandler and I passed him.  I encouraged him to go with us, but his faster start had caught up with him a bit.  My 4th mile was 5:51.

Laughing at Brent around mile 4

Mile 5 goes back up the incline the course goes down in mile 4, on the opposite side of the divided road.  Some years I have loathed that climb, but it was okay this time, possibly because I was running so much slower than I ever have at this race!  The split was 6:13, which is about even effort to our other miles with the elevation gain.  Chandler and I were still side-by-side.  Shortly after we passed mile 4, there was an aid station on the side I was on.  She mentioned she was going to get a water, telling me because she was going to have to cross either right in front of or behind me to grab it.  I told her I'd grab it for her since it was on my side.  I picked up a bottle and passed it to her, and it was caught on camera.  Despite the shot being unflattering of me, I absolutely love it!

Team work makes the dream work!

We passed mile 5 together, and right after Chandler began pulling away.  I tried to stay with her but I didn't have any get up and go.  She gradually extended her lead, and I tried not to give up but my heart really wasn't in it and I settled to some degree.  If I'd kept at it mentally, she'd have still gotten me, but not by as much - she finished 15 seconds ahead of me and my last mile was 6:02 and final kick 5:45 pace.

Clock shot

I ended up finishing in 38:15 gun time.  They didn't give chip times to the overall winners (i.e., results have chip and gun time as the same, since that is how overall prizes are awarded), but I figured since I started between Christian and Andrew, whose chip times were -10 seconds and -12 seconds respectively, my chip time would have been 38:04 (tying the state record).  State records go by gun time so gun time is all that matters there, but of course that would happen to me!  Much like in the half marathon, I know I can run significantly faster than the record time, but I cannot do it in 80 degrees.

Post-race fist bump caught on film

After the race, I headed out on the Trolley Trail for 11 more miles, which is too long to call a cool down.  I felt fine running very easy, and finished up my final 20+ mile day before my next marathon.  Andrew accompanied me for the whole addendum as part of his Chicago Marathon training, which was quite helpful.  

I'm not sure what the future holds for my next race or for everything else in life, but I know who holds the future!  God's plan often doesn't make sense to us on earth, but it's always best.

Miles from Mentor


Friday, September 3, 2021

Rock the Parkway: Heat Advisory Edition

The short:

I ran my fifth Rock the Parkway half marathon on 8/28/21 - the first time the race took place in August! I placed 3rd overall female for the third time; I can't seem to move up in my placing at this race (I've also been 4th), but I'm not fading at age 40, so I'll consider that a win.  I didn't have a time goal since it was over 80 degrees at the start and nearly 90 by the finish.  However, based on my Hospital Hill performance I figured if I could run 1:25ish it would be a good day, so I was satisfied with my 1:24:19 finish time, though I missed the Missouri state record for age 40 by 34 seconds. This was also my first time running a half marathon during a 90 mile week, but I really don't think that hurt me and blame any and all difficulty on the heat and humidity.  Racing is always a blessing, and I enjoyed myself greatly, but I also didn't feel super stoked about this one before or after, which I of course blame on summer!

Official results are here.

My dad's video of the start is here (enjoy the race officials yelling that only waves AA and A were supposed to be in the chute or starting, and a lot of people ignoring it, hah!).

My dad's video of the finish is here.

My Strava activity with splits and elevation is here.

Smiles for miles with Chandler

Pain face near the finish
The long:

Rock the Parkway is one of the races I return to year after year.  2021 was my fifth time running it.  The April 2020 event was postponed to August 2020 and then cancelled.  When race organizers cancelled they noted they were rescheduling for August 2021 with the hopes that COVID would allow them to hold a normal event by then.  After my heat debacle at the USATF Masters National meet in July, I wasn't particularly excited to run an August half, but I really love this race and knew I would have fun no matter what!

I'm loving my rabbit elite kit!

This race was 5 weeks out from my first fall marathon, and there was no reason to "waste" a taper on an 80+ degree half, so I trained right through it, including a workout with almost 7 miles of sub-6:00 running on Tuesday, 13 miles on Thursday, and 90 miles total during race week.  I've run solid halves during 80-some mile weeks before so this part didn't worry me.  I tend to feel worse if I taper too much!

I never expected the weather would be good, but when told me it was 79 degrees when I woke up on race morning, I knew things were going to be even worse than I'd expected by the 7:00 a.m. start.  My goal was to place as high as I could, and while I'd thought that I could probably just barely break the age 40 state record of 1:23:45 at 70-75 degrees, I knew it would be a stretch at 80-90 degrees.  I race by effort anyway, and this course is hilly in a way that you really need to run by effort instead of splits, so I figured I'd just start off about marathon effort and see what I got!

Not the best temperature to 
see at 4:44 a.m.!

I warmed up for a little over 2 miles with my running buddies Casey, Christian, and Andrew, we all complained about the weather, and we lined up in the elite wave.  I greeted my fast friend Chandler in the corral, saw another fast Kansas City area runner Connie, and had a brief conversation about the course elevation profile with a runner I didn't know, Kristen (names were on our bibs).  I was open about my plan to go out very easy, since the heat sneaks up on me if I don't, and I also told the others that miles 2 and 3 of the course have a lot of elevation gain so it's best to keep things really in check for the first 3 miles.

Miles from Mentor teammates

After the start, Connie was quickly out front for the women, followed by Kristen.  Chandler, Casey, Christian, and I were all together, with Andrew and several other men around as well.  Chandler and I ran most of the 2019 Grandma's Marathon together, and she told me that she was going to stick with me in this race since she thought I was the best pacer (aww).  I shared my course strategy mile by mile with her, and after getting up the climbs in miles 2-3, we notched down the effort and started trying to chase down Kristen.  At that point we lost the others who'd been running with us.

This must have been right after
an aid station, because Chandler 
was never behind me

Running with Chandler was great.  We chatted a bit, I gave her a heads up on course hills and upcoming turns, and we encouraged each other that we could overtake the woman ahead of us.  We gained on her, but I could see she was also passing men who'd gone out fast so I didn't think she was dying.  I kept my eyes on her, and before a hill around mile 8, I told Chandler we should ease up the hill then really chase her down.  At this time we were 3rd and 4th females behind Connie and Kristen.

Towards the end

I've learned that in the heat, instead of a slow burn to fatigue, it often hits me all at once.  Instead of going from feeling good to feeling okay to feeling a little tired to feeling pretty beat, I go from feeling good to feeling pretty beat all at once!  This happened around mile 9.5 of this race.  I began struggling to stay with Chandler, and hung on for maybe a quarter mile but then she gapped me.  Shortly after,  I saw Connie standing on the side of the road, having dropped out due to overheating.  She'd gone out pretty fast for the conditions, and of course I'd hoped I could catch back up to her, but not like that!  At that point I was 3rd female, with Chandler looking strong.  I hoped that Chandler could catch the first woman, and better yet, that both Chandler and I could catch her.  She still had a significant lead on us, but heat is an X factor for everyone.  I felt myself fading but reminded myself that the heat could hit the others hard at any time so I should keep pressing.  Sometimes I wish I could try a run in someone else's body and see if it feels different!

How the final 3.5 miles felt

I'm pretty good at negative splitting long races in cool weather, but it's much more difficult for me to do in the heat.  I had a far weaker final 5k than I typically do in this race, but I fought with all I had and didn't let myself settle for 3rd until I saw Chandler crossing the finish line.  The final mile of the race is downhill, though you've earned it after climbing the same hill in mile 2, and normally it's a relatively smooth mile, but this year it felt like the longest mile ever!  I just kept thinking, "when am I going to see the finish line?!"  I'd looked at my watch at mile 11 to see if I had a chance at the state record to try to motivate my tired body and my mind that was telling me 3rd was just fine, and by my very loose calculations I thought I could get it if I ran the final 2 miles at about 6:00 pace.  I have done that on this course in 45 degree weather, but it wasn't to be on this day.  I know I can break the record significantly in decent conditions, but I don't have another half in Missouri planned before I turn 41 so it would have been nice to sneak by in this one!

Clock shot!

The announcer announced "another top female finisher coming in" as I crossed the line in 1:24:19.  After bending over for a moment and congratulating Chandler and Kristen, I turned around to watch for my friends coming in.  Andrew came through in 1:25:58 (I think he is in better shape than me but the heat bothers him more), and Casey in 1:28.  We snapped some pictures and I knew I'd better get moving pretty quickly or my 6.5 more miles for the day weren't going to happen!  Christian came through in 1:34 then I jogged to my car to change my shoes, drink multiple bottles, and grab a gel and chews.  I'd planned to take a gel in the race since I had a 22 mile day, but the thought of stomaching one was not appealing!  Generally I don't take a gel in a half, but I've learned that when I'm tacking on a lot of miles after the race I need to take one to stay on top of my fueling, and I later paid for not taking it.

Casey showing how we all felt, Andrew staying on
top of hydration, & my awesome parents

Andrew ran the 6.5 additional miles with me, which was much appreciated!  We ran back on the course since the road was closed to traffic, and I ended up picking up water from two aid stations along the way, and when I started bonking I stopped and drank 3 cups of Gatorade, which saved the rest of the miles.  The extra miles were quite easy paced, but we successfully finished them off, another step towards our next 26.2s!

Please refer to age percentages ;-)

All in all, I'm content with this race.  I'm not super pumped or proud of it, but I'm also not disappointed.  I don't really think I could have done anything differently to improve my performance.  It's always a competitive event, and I'd love to move up to 1st or 2nd some day, but this wasn't my year for that.  The two women who beat me both competed in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials and are currently training for fall marathons, so I had my work cut out for me.  I also think it was a take-what-you're-in-shape-for-and-add 5:00 kind of day for most!  Strava said this course had 525 ft of elevation gain, while it said Hospital Hill had 590 ft, but it was nearly 10 degrees warmer for this race so I think that means I ran better than at Hospital Hill - and I definitely ran better than at Masters Nationals with a non-flat middle 10k of about 38:30 in this race.  I also think I'll get some nice training gains from the race and from gutting through the miles afterwards.  And as always, any day we can run is certainly a God-given gift!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August Angst

August 2021 in review!  

Total mileage for the month:  402
  •  August 2-8:  86.3
  • August 9-15:  100.5
  • August 16-22:  85.1
  • August 23-29:  90.0
  • August 30-Sep. 5:  97.0
We love our #augustangst photos!
  • August 28:  Rock the Parkway Half Marathon in 1:24:19 for 3rd overall female, which was about the best things could have gone when it was almost 90 degrees at the finish, but was hard to get too excited about.  Race recap coming soon!
  • I was registered to run the Riverside 5000 on August 14, but it was cancelled due to increasing COVID cases in the Tulsa area.  I got a high mileage week in that week instead, which I preferred over a 5k anyway!
Watching friends race post-long run
  • August 3:  3 x 1 mile with 0.25 recoveries in 5:42, 5:49, 5:53 (3.2 warm up, 3.5 cool down).  I really should have run these splits in the reverse order, with a progression instead of a positive split, but a regression is what happened!  I coordinated with Colin's tempo for the first two reps (his tempo pace being 5:40-5:45), which was really helpful, but I didn't have him to hang onto on the third rep and it was a grind (Christian ran the same workout and we started each rep together, which was also very helpful).  This is a pace zone that is hard for me, and my legs sure let me know they weren't the happiest with it, but it was good for me!  It was about 65 degrees for this workout, which felt amazing - and I knew I wouldn't be getting those conditions for my upcoming 5k race that this workout was targeted training for.
  • August 6:  5 x 6:00 tempos with 1:00 recoveries at paces of 5:52, 5:51, 5:52, 5:50, 5:49 (2.8 warm up, 2 cool down).  I jogged the recoveries after reps 1-2 and stood for them after 3-4 because Christian made me run a bit too fast and I needed to get my heart rate down.  It was a great workout for both of us; goal pace was about 6:00 based on last week's tempo average of around 6:10 in warmer weather (it was 64 degrees for this one!).  We ran a flat fast course.
  • August 10:  3 x (4 x 1k at MP, 1 x 800 m at tempo) with 1:00 recoveries between reps and 2:00 recoveries between sets - paces of 6:21, 6:26, 6:23, 6:23, 5:52 / 6:16, 6:19, 6:15, 6:20, 5:54 / 6:14, 6:18, 6:20, 6:16, 6:12.  The early morning weather was gross for this workout at 77* and 73* dew point, and my coach told me to use a heat calculator to adjust my paces.  It said to add 19 seconds/mile, so I added 10 seconds/mile to start, but worked down to about my original pace goals on everything but the final 800 m (decent weather pace targets were 6:15 MP and 5:50-6:00 tempo).  The first two sets felt pretty easy, then as per usual the heat hit me suddenly and on the final couple of 1k reps I really had to work, then on the last 800 m I didn't have much left.  I think having the recovery jogs in there really helped keep me from overheating until the end; a continuous marathon pace run or tempo would have been a lot harder in these weather conditions.  Christian ran the same workout, and although our paces didn't quite match, it was nice to have someone else grinding out 9 miles of work with me (we also warmed up with Colin and Elise before they did different awesome workouts on this morning)!
  • August 14:  16 easy, 4 goal marathon pace (6:41, 6:32, 6:25, 6:15), 3.4 easy (23.4 total).  My average for the marathon pace miles was about right on with heat/humidity adjustment and I kept up with Colin so I considered it a success despite the pace average not actually being 6:15.  I felt strong but not fast on this run, which is pretty typical for me during peak mileage.  Christian and Colin did similar workouts, and David joined us for many miles of the run too.  I started this one at 4:52 a.m. (to run 1 mile before the others started at 5:00 a.m.).  I later realized that this was actually the fastest I've ever run this workout, just slightly bettering what I did in April in good weather.  It's just one of those workouts that makes it very difficult to wrap my head around ever running the pace for an actual marathon!
  • August 17:  2 x 2 mile tempo at 6:08, 6:09 / 6:14, 6:07, 1 mile at 10k pace in 5:48, 6 x 0:25 hill sprints at average 5:39 (2.3 warm up, 2.8 cool down).  We ran a rolling hill route for this one, so I was thinking about 6:10 for tempo pace and 5:50 for 10k pace (though when the time came for that mile I decided I'd be happy with 5:59!). I was happy with the outcome, especially since I'd checked my rolling 7 day mileage the evening before and saw 105. I'm really happy that in 2021 I've been able to still hit workouts when my mileage has been 100+ (in 2020 I couldn't quite).  It was 69*, dew point 67*, which felt pretty good for August!
  • August  21:  20.7 mile long run with 3.5 easy, 20:00 at tempo (6:31 average), 4:00 easy, 15:00 at tempo (6:19 average), 5 miles easy, 10:00 at tempo (6:23 average), 2:00 easy, 5:00 at tempo (6:14 average), easy to the finish.  This was definitely a effort-based and not paced-based day!  It was warm and humid (expected) then it monsooned during the first tempo effort (not expected).  We questioned whether we were running or aquajogging for awhile there, but even had the weather been great I don't think I'd have knocked this one out of the park based on how my legs felt.  I looked back at my training log and I hadn't had a day shorter than 9 miles for over 4 weeks, and only 5 runs of 9 miles (e.g., all of the other days were double digit mileage).  My coach had scheduled a day off for me on August 19 and I asked to switch it to August 22 due to travel plans, but I think I needed the original schedule to nail this workout (especially considering August 19 changed from a day off to 12 miles).  Christian, Colin, and Casey also ran this workout, and Casey hit her tempo paces with no weather adjustment (!!), but Colin and Christian suffered like me.  Any day we can run 20+ miles is a great one though!
  • August 24:  7 x 5:00 at tempo with 1:00 recoveries in paces of 6:00, 5:51, 5:53, 5:52, 5:54, 5:55, 5:50 (2.2 warm up, 2.8 cool down).  Another sweltering workout, and recovery jogs that prevented me from overheating!  I was targeting 6:00-6:05, but Casey pushed me to run faster and it felt [mostly] good.  We had a great workout group on our flat fast workout room this morning - Casey, Christian, Rebecca, Elise, David, and Colin.
  • August 31:  Mixed system workout of 20:00 at tempo, 1.5 miles at 10k, 1600 m at 5k, 4 x 300 m hard (3:00 recoveries between everything except 200 m jog between the 300s).  I ran this by effort, which ended up yielding paces slower than I'd have preferred, but I was able to get faster each section (vs. dying off, which would have happened had I pushed the pace to what I wanted it to be early on).  I averaged 6:14 for the tempo, 6:07 for the 10k work, and 5:56 for the 5k work, then my 300's were all 1:00-1:01 - couldn't quite crack 60 seconds!  It was 67 degrees, so felt cooler, but my legs were tired from my hot half with a long cool down.  Casey and Colin ran the same workout at different paces, but it was nice to have them to commiserate with!  Elise and David also did some tempo work on the road plus faster work on the track with us.
  • Strength work: I was consistent with 2 full strength workouts and 3 core workouts a week, plus daily PT work/pre-run activation.
  • Strides: 2, 5, 8, 9, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30.
  • Doubles:  August 1, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 20, 23, 24, 26, 30, 31.

Long Runs:
  • August 7:  20 miles easy (7:51) on legs that were fatigued from the August 6 morning workout plus evening strength workout.  20 miles passed quickly; Colin ran all of them with me, and Rebecca, Christian, and David did most.
  • August 14:  23.4 miles (7:46) with 4 miles at marathon pace, described above.   I actually think the faster miles would have been easier if I'd have run the first 14 faster; I was with a group running 8:00-8:15 pace, but I felt like I was going to have a hard time dropping so much from there so I went on my own for miles 15-16 around 7:30 pace before the MP miles.  If I run this again I'll probably keep it closer to 7:45 for the first 16 so I'm not so into slog mode or on my feet as long.  This run took 3:02 so was hopefully my longest time on feet for the season.
  • August 15:  13.1 miles (8:10). I love back-to-back long runs and get to do a few this marathon cycle!  I also had some Thursday 11-13 milers this month but I didn't include those here.  The line on at what distance long runs begin has become blurry yet again!
  • August 21:  20.7 miles (7:26) with a very wet workout, described above.
  • August 28:  22 miles, including Rock the Parkway.  The 6.5 miles I did after the race were slow and HOT!
Running Highlights:
  • Watching the Olympics, of course!  My running group watched the women's marathon together live on Friday and the women's 10,000 m followed by replays of every other distance race, after our Saturday morning run.
  • I hit 105 on my rolling 7 day mileage for August 10-16.  I was telling Jon about my workout scheduled for August 17 and said, "plus I am going to do it with about 100 miles on my legs", and then looked at my total to clarify.  My highest ever on the rolling 7 is 106.1, so clearly I should have run 1.1 miles more, but I did not.
Kitten Frisco kept jumping on my lap
at the second Olympics watch party
Life Highlights:
  • We spent part of a weekend in Eureka Springs with my sister's family before school began for all of the kids (including my niece starting college!).
  • Albani started 8th grade!
Farmers Market selfie

OMRR picnic
Beaver Lake fun

Beaver Lake dam

8th grade (bus comes before dawn!)

She allowed me 1 take of this pose -
oh, the pressure!
My 4:45 a.m. buddies!
  • The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive by Jim Afremow
  • Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller
  • The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
  • Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
  • Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman
  • We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
Theme for the month:
Heat advisories!  And I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing me complain about summer killing my paces.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Jumping July

July 2021 in review!  

Total mileage for the month: 320.8
  • June 28-July 4:  65.9
  • July 5-11:  86.2
  • July 12-18:  74.8
  • July 19-25:  51.3
  • July 26-August 1: projected at 86
God Bless the USA!
  • July 3:  3.1 on the 3rd in 18:09 in an unofficial 5k race put on by my running group. I decided in advance that I wouldn't count this as a PR, though I was sure I was going to run faster than my 5k PR, but I didn't (whomp whomp) so that was a non-issue! But I did run my second best 5k time running solo on rolling hills, so it wasn't The Worst.
  • July 24:  USATF Masters Outdoor Track and Field National Championships 10,000 m in 39:39 for 2nd place in age group 40-44 and not nearly what I was hoping for!
  • July 3: 5k at race effort in 18:09 (3 warm up, 5.4 cool down).
  • July 4:  9 easy, 3 progressive (6:16, 6:11, 6:12), 2.5 easy. I was aiming for 6:20, 6:10, 6:00, but I couldn't get the final mile down. This run in combination with the July 3 "race" showed me that I need to work on my power in regards to going uphill, but lucky for me all of my upcoming goal races are flat or close to it!
  • July 6:  5 x 1600 m with 2:00 recoveries in 5:48, 5:59, 5:57, 5:55, 6:01 (2 warm up, 2 cool down). My goal pace for these was starting at 5:48 working down to 5:42, but the temperature/humidity adjustment was +13 seconds (5:55-6:01).  In my stubbornness I wanted to try the 5:48 working down thing anyway, but as you can see that was a mistake and I ended up hanging on the best I could, and just squeaked them all into the adjusted range.  My first rep was the most fun for a lot of reasons, the biggest being that I paced my friend Abby to a new mile PR of 5:49! Colin ran a 4:59 mile time trial, so clearly the two of them succeeded for the day.
  • July 10:  3 x 2 mile progressive with 5:00 jogs in 12:25 (6:12, 6:13), 12:23 (6:09, 6:14), 12:23 (6:18, 6:05), 2.2 warm up, 3 cool down.  My original goal paces by rep were 6:00, 5:55, 5:50, but my coach had me use a temperature/humidity calculator to weather-grade them, and it said to add 18 seconds/mile, so I was aiming for 6:15, 6:10, 6:05 (yes, I do realize that was 15 seconds added).  The first rep felt easy, the first 1.5 miles of the second rep felt good, then all of a sudden it did not feel good anymore!  The humidity usually sneaks up on me like that.  I was happy to get the final mile back down to goal pace, but I really had to work for that.  We ran this workout on a rolling route (my Garmin said 246 ft of gain, Christian's said 571 ft, Colin's 387 ft - I'm guessing it was 300-something), so the hills also cut into the paces, but it was a better strength-builder that way...though to be honest, I wanted to run it on the fast loop but got outvoted, hah.
  • July 14: 9 x 1000 m with 2:00ish recoveries in 3:39, 3:39, 3:36, 3:38, 3:38, 3:38, 3:38, 3:39, 3:35 - that's 5:46-5:52 pace (2.3 warm up, 2.4 cool down). My original pace goal was 5:42-5:48, but my coach said to use the temperature/humidity calculator, which said to add 13 seconds/mile. That seemed like too much, and I also didn't have time to convert mile paces to kilometer paces that morning, so I mostly just went by feel and after the first few decided that high-3:30s was a good goal. Although I felt somewhat "out of gas" going into this workout, I felt fine enough and was happy that I finished with my fastest rep, which is always more challenging for me in warm, humid conditions (73*, dew point 68* for this one).
  • July 20:  2 mile threshold (road) + 8 x 400 m @ 10k pace (track) in 12:05 via 6:03, 6:02 and 1:26, 1:23, 1:24, 1:23, 1:23, 1:22, 1:23, 1:21 (2.3 warm up, 1.5 cool down). I seem to often run my final tune up workouts too fast, and this was no exception; my 10k pace target was 1:26 and my threshold target was 6:10-6:15 (threshold defined differently than tempo).  Every workout has a purpose and running them faster than written isn't necessarily advantageous, but running the 2 mile portion with Christian, testing out my race shoes, a morning that was cool for July (64 degrees), and reduced mileage on my legs made it happen.  About halfway through the 400s I just accepted that I had settled into 1:23ish and didn't try for anything different.  I felt controlled, like I had a lot still in the tank, and ready to race.
  • July 27:  3 x (0:30, 0:45, 1:00) hill sprints within a 10 mile run.  "30 seconds feels like 30 minutes" was the quote of this workout, which I did with Christian and Colin.  Hills are a great way to make less than 7:00 total of effort feel really hard.  I also did plyometrics and lifted legs right after this workout, oof!  I was sore for 2 days.
  • July 30:  Tempos of 15:00, 12:00, and 10:00 with 2:30 recovery jogs (2.7 warm up and 5.2 cool down for 14.2 miles total).  My instructions were to run the tempos by feel, and my paces were 6:07, 6:09, 6:06 / 6:08, 6:10 / 6:15, 6:11, which I was pleased with.  It was 72*, dew point 72*, but after my 10,000 m experience 6 days previously, the weather actually felt pretty good (though I finished extremely soaked in sweat).  I felt strong and like myself on this workout, which was also good for my ego after my sub-par race performance in Ames.  Colin, Christian, Claudio, and Casey also tempoed this morning, and though none of us are currently pace matches it's wonderful to start a 5:00 a.m. workout with others!
  • Strides: July 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 13, 19, 23, 26, and at least a couple before workouts and races.
  • Doubles: July 1, 5, 7, 8, 13, 15, 18, 19, 28 (scheduled for July 30 but I ran all of my mileage in the morning due to the afternoon heat advisory).
  • Strength work: I was consistent with 2 full strength workouts and 3 core workouts a week (reduced the week of my 10,000 m race), plus daily PT work/pre-run activation.
  • Favorite workout: I loved the July 10 and 30 tempo workouts, but the easiest relative effort was the July 20 one. I'm pumped to move into more marathon-focused work!
Long Runs:
  • July 4:  14.5 miles (7:20) that included a 3 mile progression, referenced in workouts above. Colin and Casey ran this with me, though we separated on the progression, and the miles flew by and the 4th of July was good.  God bless the USA!
  • July 11:  12 miles, with a workout, described above.  My running group's team singlets came in the afternoon before this run, which was exciting!
  • July 12:  16.3 miles easy (8:07), which was a normal enjoyable group run with Elise, Casey, Colin, Austin, and Rebecca.
  • July 17:  13.1 miles light progression (7:41). My coach said to start a 8:15 (MP+2:00) and gradually drop to 7:15 (MP+1:00), which is how I run about every easy long run anyway!  Christian is being coached by Nichole now as well, and had 10 miles of the same. Most of our workouts are coordinating partially right now.  After the run we celebrated Amy's 50th birthday with a Lululemon cake at 7:30 a.m.!
  • July 24:  11.7 miles of warm up, 10k race, cool down (this barely counts, and I was going to do 12 but got back from my cool down a little early and was just done).
  • July 31:  18 miles (7:53) that flew by!  We had a great group and my first 7 miles were supposed to be super easy (8:15+) then the rest were 7:30-7:50, which really didn't feel any faster.
  • Favorite long run: July 31, since it was the longest!  All were very enjoyable aside from July 24.
We celebrated Amy's 50th with Lululemon cake at 7:30 a.m.!

Not bad for after a long run (David says he doesn't
jump anymore & Colin also hates jumping post-run)
Running Highlights:
  • I got my new rabbitELITE race kit and my running group's Miles from Mentor singlet.
C- photo of A+ singlets
Life Highlights:
  • We spent the 4th of July in SE Kansas at my in-laws.  Albani loves fireworks and cousin time!  My parents were able to join us as well, making it even better.
  • My parents accompanied me to Iowa for the USATF Masters Outdoor Champs, and we had a great vacation along with the meh race.
Albani is almost as tall as my mom now!

Ibbetson crew doing rock, paper, scissors for 
firework lighting duties

ABA parties are hard to match!

Iowa State mascot + downtown Ames

Capitol building in Des Moines

Des Moines Art Museum

Pappajohn Sculpture Garden in Des Moines
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
  • The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
  • Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell
  • Artemis by Andy Weir
  • Hidden (Lost and Found #1) by Ferm Michaels
  • The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg
Theme for the month:
  • Summer of speed, continued...I mean, I raced a 5k and a 10k, plus look at all of those track workouts!

Monday, July 26, 2021

USATF Masters Outdoor National Championships 10,000 m: That was Terrible!

The Short:
I ran in what I hope will be my first of many USATF Masters* Championship races!  I also hope it is the worst race performance I produce in a competition like this; though I was able to hang on for a 2nd place finish in age group 40-44 and 5th overall female in the race, my time was a huge underperformance in relation to my fitness.  I'm sure no one is surprised that it was hot and humid in Iowa on July 24.  I went to compete without expecting a fast time, but I didn't expect to suffer as much as I did, finishing in 39:39.  I think the heat slowed me down about 2:00, but my performance being equivalent to 37:39 in good weather doesn't really make me feel any better, especially because I couldn't dig to compete like I typically can.  I really enjoyed training for this race - the day-to-day training was awesome! - so I'm still glad I did it, but it's going to take some time for my ego to recover from it.

*I also learned that although masters division typically begins at age 40, USATF starts it at age 35, so I have missed 5 years of masters championship road racing.
My medal was silver but my parents are gold
The Long:
As part of enjoying being a new masters runner, earlier this year I looked at the USATF masters championship race schedule.  As part of being crazy, I love racing 10,000 m on the track and thought doing it at the end of July in Iowa seemed like a great idea!

I didn't have a time goal going into this race, because I knew that weather and strategy could be big factors.  However, my speed block leading up to the race went well - the best speed block I've ever had actually - and I felt fit and tapered leading into the race.  The race day forecast was warmer every time I checked it, and by the time the race began at 8:45 a.m. the heat index was 90* with the sun radiating off the track.  I told myself that I die less than most in the heat, shoved ice into the crop and shorts of my new rabbitELITE race kit, and went to the starting line hunting a national masters win.
Shorts with the elite logo came a few days later!
My heat of the 10,000 m had 4 women's age groups and 2 men's age groups in it, so there was a crowd!  My plan was to run the first 2 miles conservatively to try to avoid overheating, then progress the pace downward from there.  While I didn't have specific time goals, I thought I was in shape for a 35:59 in ideal weather on a good day with good pacing, so I figured high-36/low-37 in the conditions we had.  I have been heat-adjusting my workout goal paces when it's been over 70* and humid, but by only 50-75% of the amount this heat calculator recommends.  I came through each of the first 8 laps right around 1:30 (I ran by feel but it's very difficult not to look at the clock when it's a huge display in front of your face each lap), and it didn't feel fast but it also didn't feel good.  I told myself I'd feel stronger as the race went on, and to reel in the women ahead of me.  At that point I was leading my age group, with two women ahead of me in the 35-39 division.  
This is pretty much how the entire race felt
Around 2 miles I started feeling worse, and a man who'd been running right behind me passed me.  I told myself to latch onto him, which I did briefly, but I couldn't maintain contact.  By the 5k I really started worrying, but I reminded myself that in most 10ks I've run I've passed the 5k thinking there was no way I could run that again, but I always did, often faster.  At some point another woman passed me, and I tried to stay with her even harder than I'd tried to stay with the man, but much like earlier, I just couldn't.  Our age groups were on our backs, so I knew she was in 45-49 and I was still leading age 40-44.  I knew I was slowing despite my best efforts not to, and at that point my goal became hanging on to win my age division.

I still kept telling myself I was going to feel better and speed up, and that everyone else was dying just as much.  I was trying to take 1600 m splits on my watch to look at later, but I missed one of them and then started really struggling to remember what lap I was on.  My brain felt foggy, my legs wouldn't move, and I just felt gassed.  At some point a woman with AG 40-44 on her back passed me and I really tried to hang onto her but my body felt felt shut down and I couldn't respond.  The possibility of a national championship slipped away and my goal mostly changed to just making it through, which is not a very inspiring race goal.
About to get passed
I was lapping people, some multiple times, plus two women and two men lapped me.  With the number of people in the race, the officials had their work cut out for them with telling people what lap they were on, and several times they didn't tell me my lap count when I passed.  My pace was so off what I'd expected to run and my brain was extremely cloudy, so the best I could do at times was "somewhere between 8 and 10 left" and "either 4 or 5 laps left!"  It started to not really matter, as the race began feeling more like a survival thing than a competition.  Finishing was a relief, though also a huge disappointment.
New rabbit teammate!
My official lap splits were:  1:29, 1:31, 1:29, 1:29, 1:30, 1:30, 1:31, 1:30, 1:32, 1:35, 1:36, 1:32, 1:36, 1:39, 1:39, 1:36, 1:35, 1:36, 1:40, 1:40, 1:38, 1:40, 1:40, 1:40, 1:33 (i.e., don't pace like this!).  I thought that starting at 6:00 pace was conservative, but clearly it wasn't adequate for me that day.  At the end of my 50k, I felt like it was the distance that got to me (not the pace), but in this race it felt completely like the pace!  Oddly, 25 laps on the track didn't seem very far.
I am really not sure what happened.  Yes, 90 degrees and humid (dew point 72*) on a hot track is miserable, but surely that can't account for slowing down 37 seconds/mile from what my workouts indicated I could run; I am also generally really good at knowing what I'll realistically run in races.  Most of the field ran about 2:00 slower than their seed times, but I was 3:05 off of mine (my heat calculator also gives me about +20 seconds/mile in the conditions, which is 2:00 - but remember, for hot workouts I've been using only 50-75% of the calculation).  All of my track workouts and strength-based workouts this season were faster than when I ran 36:34 on the road, so even in the heat I thought I'd be in the 37s on the track; I also ran a 36:52 on the road in not ideal weather of 71*, dew point 68* when I was at similar fitness to what I am now (though now those conditions seem okay, haha!).  I couldn't respond in a competitive situation, plus I felt awful and not at all strong, which I think is what makes this particularly discouraging.  There was just nothing there.  Maybe it's just time to retire from summer racing!
I'm trying not to dwell on this too much, because I am really thankful for the opportunity to compete in this event, and to take home the silver in my age group.  I'm thankful my parents came to the race with me, and for the vacationing we got to do along with it.  I'm thankful that my training for this race went so well, and that I'm 100% healthy.  But this was sure a hit to my confidence!  I also had to laugh about it; it was like my body said, "You think an 18:09 5k wasn't good enough, I'll show you a bad race!" Related note: my HR was higher during this 10k than it was during that 5k time trial, showing that I was right about that 5k effort being more like 10k-half effort.  This race was a 10k effort, it just wasn't the pace or place I thought that effort would produce!

But!  During my final tune up workout 4 days before the race, one of my running buddies was on a recovery when I was running a rep, and said "Go, coach!" (I coach several of my training buddies), which was the perfect reminder mid-400 that THAT was really what it's all about.  I love running and competing, but that is the selfish piece and surely not the primary reason God gave me a passion for running - though I believe He wants us to be happy, and running certainly makes me that way!  I love coaching, cheering for, supporting, and pacing others in this sport, and I really feel in my element when I'm doing those things.  I don't think I'll ever be anywhere near content with how this race went, but it doesn't change how much I love running and everything associated with it.

Now, onto a 5k, a half, a road 10k, and 26.2 between now and October 3!