Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Recap & 2010 Plans

The year comes to a close, so it's time for the recap. First up, and most importantly, my first complete year of injury free running! Amazingly, I managed to listen to my body enough to not turn any small niggling pain into a full blown injury. Either this means I am maturing, getting stronger or have just run out of things to injure. Whatever the cause, it allowed me to run consistently for 12 months and do 2,805 miles for the year.

The year started with me rebuilding mileage after 2008's sports hernia surgery, and training for the Ottawa marathon in May. This ended up not quite being the race I wanted with a really unpleasant finish and a 3:03:33 time. I sensibly reduced mileage right afterwards, and then rebuilt for Chicago in October. This one was a great race and I got the sub 3 (2:58:13) I had been aiming for in a race where everything just went right on the day. As part of the training for that race I also had a kickass half marathon PR in San Francisco with a 1:23:47 time.

After Chicago I cut mileage way back and focused on some shorter races, and managed to PR in the mile (5:02 on a very downhill course), 5K (18:13 on a flat, fair course) and 10K 38:05 (on an accurate course with a pretty good hill).

I still feel that sub 5, sub 18 and sub 38 were all within my grasp with a little more focus, but I guess I have some goals for 2010 already set for me!

Here's the recap of my 2009 goals...

  1. Goal
  2. Stretch Goal
  3. Super Stretch Goal
  1. sub 3 hour [DONE 10/11 2:58:13]
  2. sub 2:55 - not attempted
  3. sub 2:50 - not attempted
Half Marathon
  1. sub 1:27 [DONE 3/16 - 1:25:28]
  2. sub 1:25 [DONE 7/26 - 1:23:47]
  3. sub 1:20 - not attempted
  1. sub 40 [DONE 4/23 - 38:38, 11/15 - 38:22, 11/26 - 38:07]
  2. sub 38 - attempted twice
  3. sub 36 - not attempted
  1. sub 19 [DONE 3/9 - 18:53, 9/27 - 18:23, 12/5 - 18:13]
  2. sub 18 - attempted twice
  3. sub 17:30 - not attempted
  1. sub 5:30 - [DONE 12/12 - 5:02* (downhill!) ]
  2. sub 5:15 - [DONE 12/12 - 5:02* (downhill!) ]
  3. sub 5:00 - attempted once
Looking forward to 2010, the plan is to only run one marathon, which will be Berlin in September. This is a fast, flat course and I'd definitely be shooting for a PR, and probably aiming to go sub 2:55 if training has gone well. With another solid year of training since Chicago, this should be achievable.

Along the way I'd like to see how close to 1:20 I can get for the half, and of course get those sub18/sub38 times for the 5k and 10k. I will also be looking for a steep enough hill to run a mile down in 4 minutes something! And one new race this year will be Bay to Breakers, which is 12k. Fortunately I am now old enough that my times allow me to join the seeded start, so I can race it Vs having to wade through 10,000 walkers, so that will most likely be another PR.

Other than that I'll fit races into the schedule where it makes sense, and try to run consistent mileage all year, probably coming in with a total of somewhere around 3,000.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Feeling like Roger Bannister

OK, so today was my first ever mile race. I figured I was in about 5:20ish shape given other races and some track workout times. Race was in Golden Gate Park, and billed as downhill and fast!

Got to SF early and parked at the end of the race and ran to the start. Definitely not a flat course! Got to the startline, which was on top of the hill on JFK drive. Not only was it downhill, there was also a healthy tailwind. If I can't run a fast mile on this course I don't think I ever will. Wasn't sure about pacing as the course was so "not flat", so decided to run quickly and try to keep the wheels on. Weather was perfect. high 40's & overcast.
  • Gun goes off, and a lot of people go out way, way fast. Unfortunately this includes me. First 1/4 in 1:09 (4:37 pace) - but this included a drop of about 50' and felt OK, so I kept going.
  • 2nd quarter was 1:15 (5:02 pace) and only dropped 19'. Still feeling OK, but HR is now up to 180.
  • 3rd quarter I try to keep the effort steady based on HR and end at 182, for a 1:20 quarter.
  • Decide to push for the finish and try to catch a guy ahead, but things are starting to hurt. As I approach the line I can see the clock at 4:50....4:51...4:52 and I don't think I can get there sub 5. Cross at 5:02 after a final crazy sprint with another runner (who got a 5:01).
So this is a ridiculously fast course, with a 140' drop. I think I could have pushed a little harder in the 2nd/3rd quarters and found those 3 seconds to go sub 5. I'll definitely run this next time around and will get that 4:XX - I now know how Roger Bannister must have felt when he was trying to go sub 4 in the mile and kept getting 4:01's (although I suspect he would have easily run a 3:40 on this course!)

25 minutes later was the 5K. The first mile was the same mile I had just run, but the other way, so I knew this was not a PR course. Decided to just run it as a tempo (6:15-6:20 pace) and put on a sweathshirt and my Santa hat. Ran 6:43, 6:02, 6:09, 0:52 (last .15). Ran the last .15 hard as it was an uphill finish and I got into a sprint with a couple runners who were determined to beat the guy in the Santa hat! Overall 19:48 (6:17 pace) so it was a solid tempo. Even without running the mile there is no way I would have PR'd on this course today, so I think I made the right decision.

I might run a DSE 5K next weekend, which is a SF low key (ie. not accurately measured) race as I will be up there for a party Saturday night. Alternatively I may not bother as I suspect I will drink too much.

After that is a New Year's Day 5/10K in Palo Alto Baylands. Not sure which race I'll run yet but whichever it is I'll be gunning for a PR.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Frosty Four Hundreds

Track day today, and it was a chilly 30 degrees when I got there at 7:30 this morning. The track and football field were completely white - a veritable winter wonderland. I had smartly decided to wear gloves and a long sleeved shirt vs the usual singlet. But there was no wind, and the sun was slowly rising over the trees, so not really too bad when you consider the crap people put up with elsewhere in the world this time of year!

Took a couple miles to warmup, and by the time I was ready to go about half the track was in teh sun and there was a little warmth, but it was still cold out there. Goal was 10x400 under 1:20 with about 2 minutes recovery. I figured a 45 second walk followed by a 1:15 jog would be about 300 meters, so that was the plan.
  1. tried to run a steady relaxed 400, not looking at the watch. 1:21.7, felt pretty easy
  2. need to go a little quicker, 1:18.1. still feeling ok
  3. 1:16.3. ok, getting a little too fast, and definitely more of an effort.
  4. try to slow this one down, and got a 1:19.3 - still feeling alright
  5. 1:18.6 for the halfway point. now it is starting to feel like a workout
  6. 1:20.6 - lost some focus and had to push the last 100 to get an ok time.
  7. focus on pace, hit 1:20 exactly. unpleasant, thinking that 8 is probably enough for today
  8. Ouch - 1:22.1. no way I can bail out with that one. gotta do one more....
  9. 1:17.2 - much better. so decided i may as well do #10
  10. 1:20.2 for a solid finish
Overall average was 1:19.4, which is exactly 5:20 pace and what I was shooting for. Recovery started at 2:00 and crept up to about 2:20. Heartrate was pretty flat, with each run hitting a max of 175-177. It was still cold at the end, and had only climbed to 35 degrees when I got back to the car. Definitely happy to have been wearing the gloves.

There's a low key, uncertified 5K this weekend in San Francisco, and since I'll be up there on Sunday morning anyway I will be using that as a pacing practice to see if I can start a race at the correct pace, and then not slow down in mile 2.

Then the week after it's the mile and 5k combination. Looks like the mile course is fast, and the 5K isn't, so I will be going all out in the mile, and won't worry about saving anything for the 5K. I have never raced a mile so have no idea what to expect except for unpleasantness.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bah Humbug 5K

Saturday morning was the Bah Humbug 5K in San Ramon. Billed as a fast, flat, certified course I was hoping for a PR (18:22 or better) and if everything went perfectly, maybe a sub 18 result.

Weather was almost perfect, in the 40's, overcast, with a slight wind. Got there early enough to warmup by running most of the course, which seemed pretty good as a figure 8. There were more people than I expected (about 600) but it was a very wide startline so I had no problem getting a spot at the front.

for a 5K, 18:22 is 5:55 pace, and 17:59 is 5:47, so I knew what my range should be.

Gun went off and I was off crazy fast. I was in about 5th place but running like a lunatic. The first quarter mile was 79 seconds (5:20 pace), which would have been great if this was a mile race, or some 400 repeats at the track, but not so smart for a 18 minute 5K. The rest of mile 1 was more like 6:00 pace which got me through the mile in 5:49, which was about right timewise, but I was obviously running slower than I should due to the fast start.

Mile 2 starts and I'm already out of breath and thinking it was going to be a really, really bad day. Managed to hang on for a half mile at about 6:00 pace then a guy about my age passed me and I was ready to bail. Then I said, "Hey, what happens if I speedup, and try and run with this guy?". So that's what I did. Next half mile went by at 5:45 pace and I was thru mile 2 in 11:36, which is just a few seconds off 17:59 pace. It hurt, but not that much more than running at 6:00 pace.

Mile 3 started up the hill (not steep by any means, but it was enough to make a difference when running right on the edge of my limited abilities). I decided I had to go for it if I was going to get under 18, and pulled up alongside the guy, then moved ahead. This was not fun, and I was only running about 5:55 pace. he was hurting too, but managed to hang on as I passed. Held him off for half a mile and then he caught me again and I lost concentration and slowed way down to about 6:12 for a quarter mile.

I'd run the final .11 miles in warmup and had covered it in 35 seconds, so I figured if I could get to the mile 3 marker by 17:27 I had a chance. I picked it up again at 2.5 miles, chasing the other guy, and managed to get back down to 5:50-5:55. I hit the mile 3 marker at 17:33 and I knew I couldn't close in 27 seconds but went for it anyway. It took me 40 (5:31 pace) and I was dead at the line. Crossed at 18:13, for a 10 second PR, which was good for 12th overall, and 1st in my 40-44 age group.

So I was happy with the result. Another stupid start (possibly my dumbest ever!), but I managed to stay strong in mile 2 for a change by staying with the guy that passed me (he beat me by about 5 seconds in the end). So the next race I need to focus on steady pace, a reasonable first mile (~5:50), a strong 2nd (5:47) and then a fast finish (5:45). Hopefully that will get me those next 14 seconds.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Racing a mile

As part of my "run some short races" phase I am going to race a mile. There's a mile race and a 5K on 12/20 in Golden Gate Park, and you can do both (mile is 30 minutes before the 5K). Now I expect that this may well screwup my 5K a little but I'm going to give it a shot. Various websites indicate I should be able to do a mile somewhere around 5:15-5:30, which sounds awfully quick to me. Now I rarely run anywhere near that fast except for strides so decided I'd better see what it is like.

So it was off to the track yesterday for some 400 meter running! Planned to do 8-10 x 400m at 5:20 pace (just under 1:20 for the lap) with a walk/jog lap recovery.

Decided I wouldn't really look at the watch, just run fast.
  • First one was too fast and I ran about 71! It was 4:45 mile pace, although I wasn't gonna be doing 3 more at that pace anytime soon.
  • Next was 75 seconds, so a little more reasonable at 5:02 pace
  • Next 5 were all between 76 and 79 for 5:06-5:19 pace
  • For the final one I went for it and managed a 73 for 4:54 pace
  • Average was 76.4 for the 8. So that's about 5:07 pace
I'm thinking that I'll do another round of this before 12/20 and see if I can run 10 of them consistently at about 77 (5:10 pace) with the recovery limited to 2 minutes (some were up to 2:45 yesterday) and if that works out, I will try to go sub 5:15 in the race.