Wednesday, March 30, 2011

AHCHM Race Report

I was "disconnected" the final days leading up to Angie's Half Crazy Half Marathon so I didn't have any other training reports to offer. As we flew to Houston Friday I reviewed my race plan, got psyched up about being in warmer weather and decided to just go with what the day provided me.

Without further delay....let's race.

The race start was scheduled for 7AM which meant we needed to get up around 4:30AM to get ready and drive to the venue about 30 minutes away. To get primo parking we needed to be there by 6AM before they started shutting down the roads we would be running on.

I had prepped most of my gear the night before so I didn't have much to do race morning. Aimee and I got in the line for the crappers to be as light as we could for the run. Once I was done I pealed off my top shirt, stuffed it in my bag and handed it off to our friends who were doing the relay. I gave everyone high fives and Aimee a kiss before heading out for a short warm-up.

We wouldn't be needing much of a warm-up today. The morning temperature was already 75 degrees. The humidity was also a little on the high side. Considering we had been training in temps below 35 all winter I was praying to acclimate quickly. The temp difference between Cleveland and Houston was 45 degrees.

With my estimated finish time I was seeded in the first corral. I positioned myself about three rows back from the front and got ready to run. With the ringing of the bell we were on our way.

I was able to settle in pretty quickly with my pace and breathing. My race plan called for a quick start for the first 1.5 - 2 miles, my first mile was 6:49 and number two was 6:54, then settle into a good pace that was a fast rhythm until the midway point.

During mile 2 I was a little concerned. My feet were already starting to burn. The balls of each foot were on fire. They weren't quite ready to race yet. I pushed the feeling out of my mind and pressed forward. Mile 3 ended with a 6:59. I was running with another guy at this point and we were pretty much alone sitting in the top 50. We hung out a bit together through mile 5 at 35 minutes and mile 6 with a 7:23. I think I lost him at the mid-way point. I powered through the aid station and he might have stopped to get something to drink.

Looking at the race results I was the first person in the age group to reach the half-way point with a 46:17 running a 7:04/mile pace. I was happy with that. The 7 min/mile pace is what I was hoping for based upon my training.

After the halfway point lies the "Go Zone". In my plan the "go zone" would last until mile 10. The final three miles would be the "get time" zone where I push for what it's worth and capture what little time I can while hanging on.

My feet were still burning and the heat/humidity were starting to take their toll.....on everyone. Mile 7 was 7:23 and I could feel the energy being drained from my body. My mind was also taking a beating from the course. I didn't know the course. Normally I would have wanted to drive the course the day prior, but considering who we were with Aimee and I were probably the only ones that would have been interested in doing that. So without a course preview I wasn't mentally prepared like I should have been. Several sections of the course were long which added to the mind games of an already long race.

I was running alone since the half-way point. I had no one to work with. I had to keep bringing myself back into the race and not let my mind wander too far from the immediate task of completing each mile.

My feet were still burning. My legs were getting heavier. My knees were starting to ache. I was hot even though the sun was hidden by some thin clouds.

A couple guys caught up to me and I just couldn't go with them.

Mile 8 = 7:26
Mile 9 = 7:44
Mile 10 = 7:36

The "go zone" is over and the final 5k is when I need to be pushing myself for the last 20 minutes of the race. Time to leave it all on the course. Unfortunately 90% of me was already on the course.

Mile 11 = 8:05
Mile 12 = 8:16

Near the end of mile 12 I saw a guy ahead of me walking. He had passed me a couple miles back. I was going to offer him some words of encouragement when he started running again. He was still 50 yards ahead of me.

The final mile is on the campus of the community college we started in. After we made the final turn I heard footsteps behind me. Next thing I know a 5'2" woman is passing me. Now I don't mind being chicked at all. If she is a stronger runner than I that's fine. In fact I was going to use her strength to pull me along.

I dug in and started to push myself to stay in her wake. She pulled me past the guy in front of me. Then she kept pulling away, but I kept up the effort knowing the finish line was getting closer with each stride.

She helped me pull a 7:47 for the last mile and I reached the finish line 45 seconds later.

My finish time of 1:37:21 landed me in 3rd place for the 40 - 44 age group. Having the 1st and 2nd place masters coming from my age group also helped with the standings. My overall ranking was 33rd.

I hate to consider this a sub-par performance due to me making the podium but I was 7 minutes off my goal time. Everyone was suffering so I will say it was a fair result against some good competition.

Both feet got blisters on the balls, my left got the worst of it. My right knee is tight and sore, time to rest, ice, stretch and electro-stim to repair.

Below are some pictures from race day.

Okay I'm looking not too bad here.

These three are in the finishing chute. See how quickly my demeanor changes.

Finishing strong

Finish line in sight

Shoot me now!!!!!

5-Hour Energy was a sponsor for the race. I took a picture for the girl handing them out. I don't use the product but the post race picture was great. The guy next to me was 2nd in the 40 - 44 age group.

Aimee and I post race. Somehow we were managing smiles.

Aimee showing off the Texas sized finishers medal. It was a baseball theme for the race.

Accepting my award from Angie the race director. She is doing Ironman Texas in will be her first.

Showing off my awards to Aimee. Also notice the Great Race Nutrition shirt I am wearing.

Back at our friends house I started icing my legs, especially my right knee. The beer also helped with the pain.

My left foot had a very nice blister started. It was more blood than water in the blister. I just left it alone.

Here is my left blister Wednesday morning. The fluid and puffiness is gone, just some discoloration.

I forgot to add a picture of the swag we brought back with us. This years theme was baseball. Angie is a huge Yankee's fan. Starting in the bottom left corner and going counter-clockwise:

In the packet pickup bag was the beer coozie, oval sticker, socks that say "suck it up cupcake", technical shirt, and tech hat.

After we crossed the finish line you get the towel soaked in ice water and medal.

I received a plaque and baseball signed by Angie for my 3rd place finish.

The "Perfect Game" on the back of the shirt is Angie's hope for the race to go perfectly for everyone..whatever goals they may have and for everyone to enjoy the race she has organized for the past 4 years.

All she has to do now is include shorts with the swag and a person could run the race decked out in Angie-wear.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Change is inevitable

The training for this half marathon was going to kill me if I didn't make some changes. And those changes needed to start from within.

The Snakebite spin sessions were out. The intensity of the spins wouldn't allow me to recover for my next run workout. The sessions were starting to get intense but I know that those who attended will be ready for outdoor riding when the weather gets better.

My crossfit workouts were the worst part of cross training. The mentality of crossfit is to go hard or go home. Move big amounts of weight. Complete as many rounds or reps as possible. Push yourself to become better with each workout.

My problem was that I needed to balance the running, swimming, cross-training and what little biking I could fit in. Working out at Coca only twice a week was proving to be a detriment, not a benefit. The unspoken competitive nature of crossfit filled my mind each time I stepped through the door.

Unfortunately several workouts fried my legs, ripped up my hands, strained my back or just simply put the hurt on me. It would be several days to a week before I felt back to normal.

I finally had a sit down with Kate and we agreed that I needed to back off. Crossfit was not my primary means of fitness. Triathlon is my first sport which I am training for. I'm not looking to be a competitive crossfit competitor or make it to the "games". I wanted to build my strength so my swim, bike, run would benefit.

I told her I would be scaling back and slowing down during the WODs. I needed to focus on form and endurance. The strength would slowly build up and help my other training. We have both kept me in check before each workout making sure I'm not pushing myself unnecessarily.

It was a major shift in my thinking but one that is better for me. Despite the change I can still tell that crossfit has made me stronger in the pool.

With the reduced training load I was able to focus more on the run. But even with the added rest the pace of the workouts was kicking my ass. I needed to back off on my goal times before I hurt myself on the treadmill. At times my legs were barely keeping up. You definitely reach deep down to keep yourself going so as to not get spit off the back in front of everyone around you. Then you have to reach deep down to not throw up.

My legs were not coming around to the training. The speed was just not there. Was it my age? Was it too many years in long course? Was I coming out of the off season too fast?

Now I needed to make changes to the training plan and that meant the paces needed to adjust. I found the right speed where I would be pushed but not obliterated.

Speedwork would be done at 6:00 min/mile. This was for 400, 800 or 1600 repeats. Maybe a little faster for the 400's since they were shorted.

Tempo would be at 7:00 min/mile. This would be the new race pace. My thoughts of a 1:26 or better finish were becoming dreams despite the goal with a plan.

And the long runs would be at 7:30 min/mile. These still proved to be doable but definitely not easy.

I approached the training and the impending race with a new enthusiasm. I felt good about the changes I made to the training. I would still race the half marathon but I would just need to adjust as needed.

And I'm okay with that.

Game On.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is it possible to do it all?

I forgot to post some pictures I had taken of our training plan. This is our calendar showing what our training was to consist of.

This is the detail of our calculated paces for this training.

The training plan talked about including some cross training. Swim, bike and crossfit would be my cross training.

I wasn't spending a lot of time on the bike. The team, Snakebite Racing, was holding a group spin class at one of our sponsors, Ride & Workout. These Tuesday classes would be conflicting with my speed workouts so I had to back off on those. Aimee and I were leading some indoor ride sessions at Coca Crossfit on Sunday mornings and that would become my weekly ride time.

I had to keep up the swimming at least a little because of the Cleveland Tri Clubs Big Swim Challenge. So I had to be ready for tackling 10,000 yards.

And I wanted to keep the weight training going at crossfit. I could tell that it was helping with my swimming and I wanted to keep building a strong base for the tri season.

Of course it didn't take long to realize that this training plan was not going to work well with my normal triathlon training schedule. Things needed to change.

Early learning

Before the training plan officially started Aimee and I got super organized....well Aimee did at least. We made up two big sheets of paper with the plan laid out. We had done the same thing with her Ironman St. George training and it worked great last year.

We knew what our paces would be for the speed, tempo and long runs. We even figured out what the MPH would be for those paces when we were forced to the treadmill.

One thing I learned early on is that our treadmill in the basement only goes up to 10MPH, 6 min/mile. My super aggressive goal had me running at 11.4 MPH for my 400 repeats...roughly a 5:20 pace.

Ummmm....okaaaaay. Guess I will need the treadmills at the YMCA for some of my runs.

Once we wrote down the training plan we saw that the official start was the third week in January. So we had some time to ramp up. We were able to ease into the training with some "sample" speed repeats and tempo runs. This is when I started wondering about the paces I was supposed to hold.

But I pushed aside the doubt and held faith that my body would respond to the efforts and rest up for the next workout. We need to talk about that post.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Time to Plan

"An idea without a plan is just a dream."

Okay so back in December we found a race in Houston. Angie's Half Crazy! Half Marathon. Aimee was excited about the unique Texas sized medal. I liked the idea of running somewhere warm. My sister-in-law has friends where we would be able to crash. The Ohio delegation would be about 6 in strength.

Angie's course is very flat with elevation change of about 25 feet. Total gain over the 13.1 mile course is 102 feet. So it should be fast...right?

Aimee and I found a training plan on Runner's World. The FIRST Half Marathon Training Plan.

FIRST stands for Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training.

The training plan caught Aimee's interest because you only run three times a week. This could be an interesting plan since we are used to swimming and biking during the week also. We both also have additional cross training with her Body Sculpting and me doing Crossfit at Coca.

With only three days of running the plan is rather aggressive. Very aggressive. The example in the training plan shows the paces for a 1:30 goal. I calculated the paces for a 1:25 AND 1:30 finish. As I looked at the training I told myself to suck it up and just do it. The speed workouts are fast but short in duration. The tempo runs are shorter but more intense than my training runs from the summer. It's....doable.

It didn't take long for me to start re-thinking my goals. Perhaps it was the 4 x 400 on the treadmill at 5:37 pace that had me feeling like I would get spit off the treadmill and through the window. Or the tempo runs at 6:37 pace that left me gassed after one mile. And these are the paces for the 1:30 finish...forget about the 1:25 pacing.

I haven't done any real speed work in several years due to all the long course racing. Also coming out of the off season with some lofty goals may not be the best plan of attack, especially since this race is about 4 weeks earlier than anything in the Cleveland area.

So we had our goals laid out and a plan to achieve those goals.

Time to execute.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Great Idea?

“Everything begins with an idea.” – Earl Nightengale

In December it seemed like a great idea.

Train for an early season half marathon.

Do said half marathon in a warm locale.

Train over the winter and get some of that speed back.

Maybe even set a PR at the distance.

What the hell was I thinking???

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring has Sprung

Or at least we want to think that in Northeast Ohio. Yesterday was a beautiful day and I saw several cyclists out about about. Now everyone needs to get used to seeing us on the road again with our bikes.

Please be careful out there.

After I saw Christi's comment I realized I should have included the following.......

Share The Damn Road