Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sioux Falls Half Race Report

Sprinting to the finish!

While training for the marathon, every fourth week coach gives me an easier mileage week with a race at the end of it. It's a great test to see where I am at in training. Last weeks race was the Sioux Falls Half Marathon. With my heart rate training zones adjusted and the recent progress that I have been making I really felt like I had a solid chance of running my fastest race ever at this distance. Discussing my race goal with Coach the day before, I had told him that I wanted to finish under 1:38 which was my previous PR (personal record) at this distance. Coach agreed and thought I could pull it off, then he used one of his motivational tricks and tried planting a seed in my mind. He told me that one of the people he coaches (who shall remain nameless) had just finished a half the week before in 1:36, I thought that would be pushing my luck and pretty much blew off that competitive jab he gave me. So here is how it all unfolded.

The Race
With my goal time set, coach had me break down the race by 5K times. He told me that it was much easier to break the race up into 5K goals than to think about how many more miles there were. I took his advice and the morning of the race I wrote on my hand where I needed to be for every 3 miles. My goal was to average 7:25 per mile or better so my 3 mile goals were 3(22:15), 6(44:30), 9(1:06:45), 12(1:29:00).  When my first 3 mile split came in at 21:24, I didn't feel like I was pushing the pace too much and was happy that I had banked a little time in case I started slowing down a little. As I write this, I see that I ran the second 3 at exactly the same pace 21:24. This put me almost 2 minutes ahead of my goal pace at 6 miles, I has banked a little more time, I was still feeling good, things were going great! I did my best to focus on keeping my arms and shoulders relaxed and trying to keep a good running form. At mile 9 my time was 1:05:03, I had run the last 3 miles at 22:15 (goal pace) and had not lost any of the time I had banked. This meant that I had to just hang on for another 4.1 miles and I even had a little wiggle room. I was still feeling good but I also knew that could change at any moment. Upon reaching the 12 mile mark I was still running some strong miles. I reached 12 at 1:27:16 which meant that I was still running fairly consistent splits and had run the last three in 22:13, pretty much goal pace. At this point I knew that I was going to decimate my goal of coming in under 1:38! My plan was to try and kick hard the last 1.1 miles but I didn't know how much kick I had remaining and I was not sure exactly where the finish line was. Mentally, I really like to know where the finish is so that I can gauge just how hard to kick to the end. I completed mile 13 in 7:25, right at goal pace, and then kicked it down for the final sprint to the finish. My final time was 1:36:18, I smoked my previous best by over 2 minutes! This was one of the better races ever for me. I felt good the entire run and I really believe that breaking the race down into 3 mile segments helped too.
I finished 67th overall out of 1137, 10th in my age group, and the 51st male.

Tech notes: 
I chose not to wear the compression leggings on for this race. I had only worn them once during a training run and wasn't ready to try them on race day yet.

I did not use any gels or other fuel options for this race. It was a cool morning, the weather was perfect and I was pretty sure that I could run my goal time without needing to take anything considering the conditions and actual running time. I did take a little water and Powerade throughout the run but not much. I had made sure to drink lots of fluids the day before and the morning of the race so that I was well hydrated. Other than being slightly cramped in the calves, I felt great after the race. I was planning on taking some Endurolytes before the race but I didn't get them set out the night before and forgot to take them.

Once again for you runners, I highly recommend breaking your next race up into 3 mile or 5K splits. It is so much more mentally manageable for long runs. This was great advice from the Coach.

Daily Mile
Daily Mile is a social media network for athletes. The greater portion of athletes are runners but there are a good variety of other endurance athletes on this site as well. It is an extremely supportive online community where I post my workouts. We comment on each other's workouts, share triumphs and tribulations, and can ask or answer a variety of training related questions. Here are some great Daily Mile members that I have had the pleasure of meeting from the Sioux Falls area. It is such a great thing it is to spend time with like minded people that understand the allure of running as you I do. Non-runners just don't understand why we would torture ourselves with chaffing, cramps, muscle soreness, and running through the various crazy weather conditions.
Awesome group of Daily Mile friends!

Me with Angela and Matt. This was their first half and they both ran a fantastic race!

Trying to finish strong!

Monday, September 6, 2010

47 to 3

It's been just over a month since I have updated the blog and a lot has happened since then.As I write this, there are 47 days until the Mankato Marathon, which will be my third marathon. I am at the point in my training that running a fourth does not sound very appealing. It's been a lot of hard work to get to here and I still have just over a month of training to go. Here is my long winded story of what has happened within the last month.

Century Ride for JDRF
What an amazing event! Because of my limited cycling training, I was very concerned about being able to ride then entire 100 miles. My longest ride prior to La Crosse was only 50 miles and when I told some of the other riders this, I could see them trying to mask a look of concern on their faces. My Coach had assured me that this would not be a problem, but I was not 100% sold on it. When race day came, it was not nearly as difficult as I had feared. The last 15-20 miles my feet started to get a couple of hot spots on them, but overall I was feeling good. With stops along the way for food and stretching, it took about 7.5 hours to finish. More importantly, it made me realize what a fantastic event this was. JDRF is a great organization that is funding research throughout the world to not only find a cure for Juvenile Diabetes but make lives easier for those that have it. The Wisconsin ride raised over $600,000 for JDRF and all rides combined last year raised over $4 million. It's a great feeling for me to be a part of this; helping someone with their fight against diabetes. Throughout the weekend I was able to meet many people who had children or siblings with Type I diabetes, it was truly inspiring to hear their stories and to know how thankful they were for us being there for them. I will definitely be participating in this event again!
About 60 miles into the ride at a rest stop right by the Mississippi river.

Marathon Training Update
Yesterday I told my good friend Jeff Pickett that I wasn't very happy with him for getting me started on these stupid marathons. Just over one year ago he suggested that we train together for the Twin Cities Marathon. Half way through the training he developed an injury that kept him from running it, for some crazy reason, I keep doing them.
Maybe it's knowing that they were not perfectly executed and with a little work I can finish faster and with less pain. Maybe it's just that I need to have a goal ahead of me in order to keep running and challenging myself. Nevertheless, marathon training is no cake walk. There is a huge time commitment and many sacrifices along the way.In a nutshell, 18 - 20 weeks of training, all for three and a half hours of running your ass off.

Enough bitching already...

My training is actually going very well. I have been putting in some solid weeks of training. I finished the month of July with 150 miles and August with 143 miles of running.
I am still struggling with my endurance on the long runs. After 2 - 2.5 hours I really start to go downhill. My calves get cramped, I begin to run out of energy, and at times I struggle keeping hydrated enough because I sweat like like a beast. I have been experimenting with my hydration and electrolyte replacement on these runs and I feel like I have made some improvements, but still feel like I am not 100% there yet.
First, I have been using Endurolyte capsules for about 3 months now. These are electrolyte replacement capsules. They are easy to swallow and seem to help reduce my calf cramping. I generally take 3 capsules before running, then about 3 every hour during my run.
For yesterday's run I tried two new items in addition to the Endurolytes. I finally broke down and purchased a pair of Zensah compression leg sleeves. I have been wearing some cheapo compression tights from Walgreen's for several months now for recovery after runs. I finally splurged and purchased the Zensah's and I am glad I did. I hardly noticed that I was wearing them and I have absolutely no calf soreness after yesterday's long run. They may not be the sexiest things in the world, but my calves were happy!
Zensah compression leg sleeves.
The second thing I tried out for my long run was a new fuel replacement. I have been using gels for quite some time and really don't mind them; but I don't believe that I have been getting everything from them that I need for endurance, so I tried another Hammer Nutrition product, Perpetuem. I was a little concerned about the flavor and consistency of this product prior to trying it, but it is actually very good. For my first trial I mixed it a little light, I made up a 2 hour bottle using 3 scoops in an 8 oz bottle for my fuel belt. I premixed it in a measuring cup before pouring it into the bottle. It had some lumps when I poured it into the bottle but they disappeared after I shook it up. The flavor was great, not too strong, and the consistency was similar to that of a thin protein shake. For this run I took a mouthful every 20 minutes and followed it up with some water. The early consensus, I like it! It is much easier to use than trying to tear open a gel and get it swallowed down and I didn't feel hungry during my run either.
Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem

Last but not least is my coaching. I must say, Coach Kline from PRSfit really knows what he is doing. He gives me my weekly workouts, answers my annoying questions, and gives great feedback from the workouts. He is definitely a teaching coach who along with his wife Diane, are very supportive of their team and others. It is obvious that they love to see others grow and succeed.
When teamed up with the coach he had me run a lactate threshold test. This is a test to determine your anaerobic threshold and help set heart rate training zones. Coach had me run this test again on Monday and my LT was much lower than the initial test back at the beginning of June. This means I have made some progress! Because of this test, Coach set up new training zones for me that kicked my butt this week. Aerobically, they were not too bad to run, but physically, my legs have some work to do. I had a difficult time running a fast pace to get to and stay in zone 4 or even the top of zone 3 during my last two runs. I am sure it will come in time, but it is currently quite a challenge. I am sure that the cooler weather helped, but yesterday's long run was scheduled for 2 hours and 15 minutes. I completed 17 miles in this time which is just a hair under 8 minute miles for the duration. This has been my strongest long run to date and I was not completely wiped out when I finished either. I love seeing progress like this!  I have my first half marathon in quite some time scheduled for this coming weekend and I am excited to see how it will turn out!

If you actually made it this far reading through my blog without falling asleep, I thank you. When I look at the road ahead and behind me, my training it seems a little daunting at times, hence the whining at the beginning of the post. I do love running and the challenge of the training and the races. In life, seeing progress and growth is a great motivator for all of the hard work we do whether it be running, working, or raising a family. The fight is the journey, the results are our rewards...never stop fighting.