Monday, March 17, 2014

Time to Go Back into the Woods

After 4+ months of focusing on road racing, it is time to go back into the woods.  Hopefully by the end of the week my favorite trails will have thawed out enough to get some trail running in before I start my ramp up next week.

Perspective Change
Coming from a track background, I always favored speed over distance, but after the last year of training and racing I think that I am officially a convert.  Over the past year I have increased my volume by nearly 50% and looking at the last 4 months of racing, I must confess that I am happy with the results.  As I continue forward in my running career I will be putting more and more focus on volume over speed.

New Bedford Half Marathon
Location: New Bedford, MA
Date: 3/16/2014

Distance: Half Marathon
Goal Time:  1:23:01 (6:20 / mile) (Previous PR 1:27:42)
Actual Time: 1:21:41 (6:14 / mile)
Place: 75 / 410 AG, 211 / 2872 OA

This past weekend I obliterated my half marathon PR by 6 minutes and 1 second.  It has been over three years since I last ran a half marathon, but needless to say I was quite happy with the result.  It has been so long since I competed at any intermediate distance road race that I had two other PR's en route (10K now stands at 38:37 and 10 mile stands at 1:02:09).

I originally selected New Bedford for a couple of reasons.  First I was looking for something to keep me training strong through the winter and second was looking for something fun that I would know a bunch of people at.  I heard New Bedford was on the flatter side and it was selected as both USATF and SRR Grand Prix race so it seemed to satisfy both of my categories.

Jump ahead 3 months and 500ish training miles later and we arrive at race day.  It was a little chilly at 31 degrees and had a little bit of NW wind.  My goal for the race was to see if I could hold 6:20 pace, which based on my recent racing and training appeared to be slightly on the conservative side.  Still not having attempted a run of 10 miles or more at that pace I figured better to start off easier and pick up then to burn out.

The Course
The course was broken up into 3 parts:
Miles 1 - 4: Slight head wind, rolling hills
Miles 4 - 9: Slight tail wind, slight downhill
Miles 9 - 13.1: More head wind with good climb from 12 - 12.5

Miles 1 - 4
Between the excitement of the race starting and and some down hill I knocked out the first mile in 6:02.  Luckily I was able to find my composure and slow down to 6:19 over the second mile.  Miles 3 and 4 were a little tougher with some head wind and a couple of short climbs, but nothing that I had any trouble handling.  At this point I was still feeling pretty good and had already built up a nice 22 second buffer under my goal time.

Miles 4 - 9
The next section of the race felt almost like when you are on an airplane and have reached cruising altitude and it is time to undo your seat belt and relax.  As I enjoyed the slight downhill and tail wind I ticked off a the next 5 miles at roughly 6:10 pace and felt at these conditions I could keep doing this indefinitely.

My relaxation was briefly interrupted around mile 5 when an ambulance was making its way across the course, but luckily the runners were smart enough to scoot behind it instead of forcing the police officer to stop the race (while it is inconvenient to have an emergency vehicle cross our path, they are there for a reason and when they have their lights on, get out of the way). 

As I hit the 10k mark, the clock read 38:37 and I had successfully knocked off my first PR of the day (32 second 10K PR). 

With just over 4.5 miles to go, Tom caught up to me and in a thick British accent said "Its time to dig in."  Feeling pretty good I just smiled and thought lets hold back a little longer. 

Miles 9 - 13.1
Roughly 3/4 of a mile later is when the race really began.  As we reached the end of the peninsula and began working our way back we were greeted with a nice headwind.  I flipped my hat backwards and started to dig. 

As I gathered my thoughts for the next 20 minutes of battling mother nature, I thought of the Prefontaine quote, "Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it." I had successfully convinced myself that I had come to far to give in. Knowing I had already won the mental battle, I just smiled as I began passing people.  As I ticked miles 10 and 11 off at 6:18 and 6:19 respectively I could see Keith in the distance.  

By the end of mile 12 I was almost on top of him as we turned off the water, out of the wind, but straight into a hill.  As I caught him a quarter of a mile later, I yelled "You coming" and he just said "I'm spent." 

So I pushed up the hill and as I crested it I just closed my eyes took a deep breath and began blitzing the descent.  As I turned the course onto the last straight away I put it in 5th and hammered by a few more people.  

There isn't a much better feeling any sport then being satisfied with your performance.  Whether it is a hard fought soccer game, completing a new distance, or setting a new personal best, it is the satisfaction that comes that proves your training was worth it. 

With this race all of my running PR's from 1 mile to 50 mile have been set in the last 15 months and this only increases my appetite for more.  

 Picture complements of Joe O'Leary


75 Straight Days of Running
Yesterday's race was also my 75th consecutive day of running.  As I mentioned above, with my new philosophy that volume is king, I am going to keep the streak alive as long as I am physically able too.  Today, will I ran a nice 1 mile recover run to pick up beer to celebrate St. Patty's day. 

Charity Update
Neil and I have been busy on the charity front so far this year.  For January we helped out a bunch of people that are fundraising for various charities while training endurance events.  Some of these included the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, Beth Israel, the Liver Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and New England Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In February, we were able to knock out 210 frigid miles and we contributed to Citizen's Energy (Joe Kennedy Foundation).  This month our beneficiary is PBS as Neil is getting older we want to ensure that their programming sticks around. 

Back into the Woods
With the completion of yesterday's race it is time to start focusing on trail running and racing again.  Leadville is just 16 weeks out and I have quite a bit of training to do if I am going to survive 50 miles at an altitude of 10, 000 ft.  Next up is the TARC Spring classic 50K, which is just a short 5 weeks away.

- The Multisport Maniac

Neil Ready for Spring

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