Category Archives: GMAA

Race Report: GMAA Mini Meet 3K

GMAA started hosting these mini-meets last year and I never managed to get to one so I made a pact to try to make all of them this year both to work on my speed and to get a chance to keep working on my pre-race nerves. I went into this race hoping to run around 11 minutes for the 3K. However, 20 mile per hour winds from the Southwest and 80 degree temperatures decided that none of us were moving that fast. I even had a moment while rounding the first curve where a gust knocked me off balance and I stutter-stepped not to fall over the rail.

Having never raced a 3K and been away from any kind of track race for 15 years, I barely remembered how to do it. I ended up not wearing spikes because they hurt my feet on the warmup so found myself on the 200 line in my trainers, surrounded by men. Literally. There was one other woman in the race. Kasie yelled go and we were off. The lead pack of men shot off and I was left by myself to work through the 7 1/2 laps. I kept my eyes on the guy in red ahead of me and just tried to focus through the first half of the race.

The first 1000 passed without much drama and by the beginning of the third lap, I’d closed the gap on red shirt. When I went to go around him, he fought a bit so I jumped behind him instead since we had plenty of the race left. After sitting on him for about 600 meters, he started to fade and I passed with confidence. With two laps to go, I focused on keeping my form together and tried to pick it up. At the bell lap, things got a little crowded as Eli and Binney were finishing while I was lapping a runner. I ended up squeaking through on the rail but put my elbow out so I wouldn’t get stepped on. Sorry Pascal! The last lap was hard but I still felt like my form held together. I crossed in 11:20, a little frustrated with the time but happy with the effort.

All in all, a fun way to get a hard effort in. I can’t wait for the next meet in July! Thanks to GMAA for a great idea.

When was the last time you raced on the track?

Race Report: Labor Day 15K

Short Version: Felt horrible, had a meltdown (inside), 1:02:55, 19th place.

Long Version:

The farther away I get from Sunday, the less upset about this race I get. Reading race reports from Laurel and Dan helped, especially since they had similar reactions to the humid, miserable conditions. Seeing similar pace trajectories from the New Haven 20K where there were also similar conditions helped as well. I came out of the race on Sunday feeling like maybe I needed to scrap my cycle and take some time off. By this morning, I’m feeling fine and ready to finish up this cycle.

I went into Sunday on very tired legs, with a 13 mile workout earlier in the week and 60 something miles on my legs already. Even without tired legs, however, the humidity (upper 80s), temperature (78 by the end) and dew point (70) conspired to make for a tough environment. Starting from the warmup, I felt sluggish and exhausted.

One of the nice things about a USATF Championship Race is that women and men have separate starting chutes. In this case, we just split the road in half. This is nice, however, for those of us who don’t enjoy steeplechasing over-eager men who can’t believe a woman could be faster. I ended up having to dodge and weave some women anyway, but it was still a pretty smooth start.

Having learned from my experience in the wind and rain at VCM, I was determined not to get left behind the back and ran a far more aggressive first mile than I usually do to hang on to the top women. I wasn’t wearing a watch and have no idea what my pace was, but I didn’t “ease” into anything. I settled into a little clump and tried to tuck in for a few miles but the head of our line was grumpy about being a wind block and instead of trading every mile like most normal people, kept sprinting ahead of us. We would all beat him eventually. (Race Lesson: Take turns, it’s way easier than going it alone). Throughout the whole first 5K, I kept encouraging myself to be patient and to let the race play out in front of me.

Given my familiarity with the course, the hills were probably my favorite part. I eased up and just got through them. My only challenge was that there was mud on the road from construction and rain had made it really slippery. It was right around mile 4 where I started to feel really, really hot, conveniently just after an aid station where I could have dumped water on my head.

As we got onto Dorset Street again, the cramp that had been threatening since about a half mile in the race just took over. It felt like a band across my entire abdomen and nothing seemed to resolve it. I’ve had about two cramps in my whole life, so I didn’t know how to deal with it. I tried poking at it, changing my form, altering my pace and as many breathing patterns as I could think of but I couldn’t shake it. Anytime I tried to run faster than about marathon pace, my stomach just seized up and I couldn’t breath. Perfect.

When I was previewing the course, I was super excited for the last 5K that starts after the hill up to the golf course. When I got there on race day, however, I was anything but pleased. My stomach hurt and I felt like I was jogging through what was one of my goal races for the summer. Quitting crossed my mind. When I went through the 10K at 41 plus, I really started to meltdown. Prior to that, with no watch, I’d retained a hope that I was running fine and just feeling the humidity. That 10K split brought me back to Earth.

The last 5K was just misery. I worked at passing the few people in worse shape than me, but my cramp had reached a point where I couldn’t even pretend to kick it in. I jogged to the finish in just under 1:03 and it took all of my grown up powers of control not to burst into tears of frustration. Thankfully, my friend Jill was the Volunteer Coordinator and is maybe the best post-bad race friend ever. Instead of offering “good job,” she admitted that I didn’t look great and just let me be grumpy. We decided to start making a new bumper sticker that says “I Don’t Train This Hard to Cross the Finish Line.” I love that girl.

The good news is that I felt entirely fine yesterday with no more soreness than I would normally have from a workout and my mood has lifted. All our races can’t be good and I’d rather have the Labor Day 15K be miserable than the marathon.

Takeaways/Positives:

6:45 pace is really becoming comfortable for me, for better or for worse.

I need to be better about adjusting for performance in humidity.

Age is just a number and if the people I raced on Sunday were any indication, I have plenty of running years left.

GMAA put on a heck of a race; the volunteer support was outrageous, the course really is a great one in good weather and every detail was attended to, impressive for a race in only its second year. If you find yourself in Vermont on Labor Day next year, it’s highly recommended.

The Olde Bones Girls had their first complete team at a USATF event, impressive since there were only 3 of us running against teams with a bazillion more members.

Race Schedule Early 2014

It feels so good to type that. On December 30th, I had all sorts of panicky thoughts about losing the first half of 2014 (in addition to basically losing all of 2013). By being aggressive about recovery and cross training, however, I find myself in a really good spot and ready to pick out some target races. I can’t expect all of them to be personal bests or even race bests, but they are all part of building back towards my ultimate goal of an Olympic Trials Qualifier. I haven’t picked my target half or full marathon for the fall yet because I don’t know which standard I’ll aim to hit and won’t know if I can handle the volume required for a solid full over the summer for a few more weeks.

Champlain Classic 15K: The goal is to just put a race number on and do a progression run. I won this last year and would love to defend my title. Plus, the rest of the Olde Bones are running as a fitness check in and I hate to be left behind. If things aren’t feeling ready for a 15K, I’ll do the 5K instead.

Capital City Stampede: I’ve missed this race for a few years because I’ve been recovering from VCM, but looking forward to returning to my hometown for a first crack at the 10K since last fall.

Paul Mailman 10 Miler: I LOVE this race but again, due to VCM, haven’t been able to get here since I ran it a few years ago.

Stowe 8 Miler: This race and I have unfinished business after an abysmal run in 2011. Weather dependent, hoping to get back down to about half marathon PR pace by early July.

Labor Day 15K: As a USATF Grand Prix race this year, this should be a fast end of summer race and is one of my target events for the summer.

Downtown 10K: I’m great at being 4th at this race and would like to improve upon that this year. Hopeful for a 10K PR to kick off the fall season.

Then, TBD.

 

Can’t even walk

Hi I’m Tim, I’m stepping in to blog for Sarah for a few months.  I met Sarah this year at a GMAA team race where I finished 3 seconds behind her (net time) at the New Bedford Half Marathon in March.  Going into the Vermont City Marathon we had a friendly match to see who’d beat who and Sarah won again, by 13 seconds.  And even at a fun 5K this summer at the Clarance DeMar, Sarah beat me again by 9 seconds.  So we kinda got a little rivalry going.  Sarah owned me in 2012 but I’m determined to beat her at least once in 2013.  So when I read that she was stepping away from her blog for a while I sent her an email asking if I could sub in with the hope that maybe I could steal some Mojo for 2013.  So here I am.

And this morning I couldn’t walk.  The past two weeks I’ve been teased with a mild pain in my Plantar on my right foot and this morning it was on fire.  It’s humbling to have to put all my effort not to fall over and create a racket as I limped around the house in the early morning, trying not to wake my wife and kids.  Even after the PF has warmed and stretched a bit I can’t walk without pain in every step, which is not good.

But as bummed as I am, given that I’m 9 weeks out from the Hartford marathon, I see these painful steps as my first steps in my new journey with running.  What will happen I can’t predict, but I plan on being optimistic, listening and finding expert help to get me through this and come out stronger.

Cherish your runs everyone, do you realize how lucky you are!!!

So Much For Relaxing

I had grand plans to take June off to recuperate from the MCATs, the semester, pulling together my AMCAS application and the marathon, but that plan never came to fruition. Instead, I’m working two jobs, coaching and trying to get back to training, all well trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to keep up with friends and enjoy the summer in Burlington.

The bad news is, I’m exhausted. 70 hour work weeks plus coaching mean I have limited time for all the random things that need to get done, like laundry and coordinating team racing for GMAA. It’ll be worth it, however, to be able to take time off next summer right before medical school.

The good news is, I’m getting back into running and despite still experiencing a lot of fatigue that is out of line with my training load, everything feels good and strong. I did a mile repeat workout last Saturday for my first workout back and despite some seriously awkward form for the first mile managed a 5:54 and a 5:41. It was nice to have the second mile feel much better than the first! I’m aiming for about 30 miles this week and then will settle in at 45 to 50 for the rest of the summer.

My first race is next week too, at the Clarence DeMar 5K on the 4th. While I’m excited to take a crack at a PR, I’m more excited because I get to share the race experience with my sister and aunt who will also be joining for the event. Last year, Clarence DeMar was hot and humid, making for a miserable slogfest. I’m fully prepared for another hot, sticky day but excited to do some short, fast running again.

One of the reasons my training load is relatively low this summer is because I’m focusing on re-building (or perhaps building for the first time) strength in my legs. To do this, I’m hiking and trail running. Both build strength and stability which will come in handy as my miles build again through the fall.

Despite my exhaustion, I’m excited to be feeling recovered and to find that nothing was permanently broken. Now if only I can find a few hours to sleep…

Saturday Smarts

I am a voracious reader of research on a variety of topics from public health to running science. I have file folders full of the newest articles about endurance sports, which I pour over and over as I try to integrate the new with the old to better inform my coaching and my training. As such, I’m going to experiment with sharing an article I’ve read over the past week every Saturday. After all, running is a science and evidence-based is the way to go!

This article was interesting because it espouses on a theory I’ve pondered myself as a competitive runner who opted to take college off from running. Sure, I’m missing much of the race experience of my peers, but I’m also missing the repetitive injuries that plague many of my training partners. I’m also consistently amazed at the performances of many of the master aged men in my running club, many of whom were not runners in their early decades. They are consistently below national age group standards and seem to get faster with time.

When did you start running? Have you always been a runner or were you a “something else” before you switched?

New Bedford 2012

(I figured I’d write this post as soon as I wasn’t sore anymore, but that seems like a fleeting goal as my hamstrings still rival piano cords a week later.) 

In short, we had a blast at New Bedford last weekend and had a great team performance. I was initially upset with my run, but a much wiser (and more talented) friend reminded me that “the process is the goal, kid” so I’m letting it go.

Race morning was sub-optimal. As Team Racing Coordinator, I spent a lot of time going into the race organizing the trip and working with the Race Director to get registered as a team. When we arrived on Sunday, however, we were not on the  list and had no numbers assigned. Needless to say, the stress from that was not a great start to the morning. Thanks to my much more level-headed teammates, I managed to get through the warm-up and shake it off. Despite conversations at breakfast about whether we’d wear capris for the race, it warmed up considerably by 11 and most of us ended up in shorts and singlets only, which would prove to be a good call by mile 8 when the sun was beating down.

The first few miles of the race were a breeze. Megan, Christine, Abbey and I hung together and tried to chill out over the uphill sections of the first four. Somewhere out there is a great picture of the four of us cresting the hill at four, but I’ve yet to find it. Megan pulled ahead around 5, Christine at 6 and then the wheels came off the bus for me. Because miles 5 through 9 are downhill, I’d planned to cruise but found myself with seriously flat legs. At some point, I whined to Abbey who informed me that it was the wrong time to fall apart and that I was getting overheated. Add to that some serious wind at mile 8 and I was all sorts of grumpy. Fortunately, the race photographer only captured 15 shots of me wrestling with a Gu packet and none of my six mile hissy fit. At mile 9,I finally dumped some water over my head…and instantly felt better. (Stupid human.) Having finally cooled my system down, the last few miles were markedly easier. I was happy for the finish line, but not dying for it.

Ended up 17th overall, with Gun 1:26:02, Chip 1:25:50. Women’s Open ended up with 6, 11, 17, 19 and 38th for 3rd place.  (Last year, I was 43rd, Gun 1:28:00, Chip 1:27:51 and we were 7th as a Women’s team.)

Upon reflection, my lungs felt great for the whole run and I never felt like my conditioning was lacking. Instead, I felt limited by legs that had no “pop.” This is supported by my general experience over the last 8 weeks, where Tuesday quality workouts have thrashed me for my Friday quality work, which happen to be the longer efforts. This could explain great conditioning, but poor adaptation to longer pace work. As such, I’ll be focusing on longer pace efforts between now and Vermont City and dropping most of the low end speed work until after the marathon.

Splits:

1: 6:25

2: 6:30

3: 6:40

4: 6:39

5: 6:20

6: 6:24

7: 6:12

8: 6:31

9: 6:42

10: 6:34

11: 6:26

12: 6:35

13: 6:45 (that hill is grim, no matter how much I try to attack it)

Race Season Again?

It’s hard to believe, but it’s the beginning of race season again. Next weekend while everyone else is drinking green beer, I’ll be on a coach bus bound for New Bedford, MA and the New Bedford Half Marathon. I had a blast at this race last year and I’m excited to return to the course and attempt a new PR.

New Bedford is a deceptive course. Although it is mostly flat, there are a few places where you can get yourself into trouble. For one, there’s a 5 mile downhill between miles 5 and 9 that can thrash your quads. There’s a not-insignificant hill at mile 4 and another at the end of mile 12. And then there’s the wind. I’ve been “lucky” this winter to have plenty of wind to contend with during runs and I’m learning to relax and not fight the gusts. As for the hills, we did an enormous quality hill workout last Tuesday and although it hobbled me for much of the week, I’m hopeful that it will pay dividends both climbing up and hammering down.

Kasie thinks the way to run the course is to run conservative opening miles, use the downhill section to really gain time and hang on through the twists, turns and wind of the last few miles. In reviewing my race report from last year, it seems like I had the most trouble at mile 9 with both GI upset and some lack of focus. With that in mind, I’m using mile 9 as my “mental” transition mile where I go from comfortable to grinding in the last few miles. I hope that with something for my mind to latch onto, I’ll stay focused instead of staring over the sea wall.

I have a quiet week this week in terms of workouts, with a short quality workout on Tuesday to test out how I feel at my target race pace, which is between 6:30 and 6:35. I also get to try out my new racing flats and make sure they don’t rub, chafe or blister. Besides some easy running, I’m laying low, hydrating and trying to get enough sleep at the beginning of the week to accommodate poor quality, pre-race sleep.

Has your 2012 racing season already kicked off? How did it go?

Burlington Area Run for Sherry 2/11 at 8 am

I mentioned this in a post last week, but a few of us have talked about getting together to do a run for Sherry next Saturday (2/11) and have picked 8 am at the Echo Center in Burlington. All are welcome (walkers, runners, bikers, yogis) to just take a few moments or miles to remember another runner and think about our greater active community. If you’re inclined, print out a bib to wear and join us on Saturday. Please share this widely on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter etc.