Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Montvale Park 5 Mile Trail Race

 2013
Montvale Park 5 Mile Trail Race
RNUTs 3/6

     The 3rd timed event that Faith and I are hiking as part of the Mountain Junkies RNUTs events was the Montvale Park 5 Mile Trail Race. I had done the 10 mile course for 3 years in a row, but had never tried the shorter 5 mile course before, so this was a 1st for both of us. 
Course Map and Elevation Profile
  


       Our goals and strategy remained the same as in our previous efforts this year. Finish uninjured, appreciate nature and being outdoors, keep a steady pace and have a good time. Faith did choose to run ahead a few times for maybe a half mile total and I support her decision to do that if she's comfortable with it, but I'd like to see her more focused on holding a faster hiking pace before she decides if she wants to run or not.
Heading to packet pickup
Add caption

Crossing the foot bridge.



Race start!

Tree down.






Faith finishing strong with a good 1/8th mile sprint!
Hugs from mama.


Walking it in for the prestigious DLF!



 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 VA Creeper Marathon

2013 VA Creeper Trail Marathon

     I've only ever ran 2 other marathons, the 2010 Richmond Marathon and the 2011 Richmond Marathon. Both times I was looking for a Boston Qualifier and I pushed myself hard in training and I ran the race hard and even though I did have respectable finish times of 3:35:xx and 3:34::xx I still came up a little short of the 3:15 goal. I skipped marathon distance races in 2012 and decided to train through the winter and run a spring 2013 marathon instead. I decided on the VA Creeper Trail Marathon because I had enjoyed the small town feel of the Iron Mountain races when I ran the 16 mile option back in Sept 2011. I also liked the fact of the nominal 100 racer limit since it would give participants plenty of room to spread out and not encounter crowded conditions while racing.
Every idiot with a toothbrush seems to be taking a self photography shot of themselves at a bathroom mirror, so I figured "What the hell, I can be as stupid as everyone else".


     The weather in Abingdon was very nice for our ride down Saturday, but that would end soon enough as a steady rain began around 4 am on race morning and lasted for the majority of the race. Rain? Not my favorite. Especially in 40 degree weather, but I knew it wouldn't be anything too hard to overcome once the adrenaline started flowing. I've actually had some rather good race times in the rain, so I just went with the flow and made the best of it.

     Waiting for the race to start in the rain was less than desirable though. 80-100 of us huddled up under two small leaking tents, cold and anxious, but otherwise in good spirits. I looked around and realized I was only 1 of just a small handful of people who had decided to race in racing shorts and sleeveless shirt. The temp was right at 40 and thats usually where I ditch cold weather gear, but I had to question my strategy when I saw how many people where trying to protect themselves from the elements. 

     The race director made some announcements while I got my headphones set up and got some music playing. I hardly ever train with music except on a treadmill, but I have done a few races with my mp3 player. This was my first time doing a trail race with tunes and I'm not likely to ever do it on a technical trail, but the VA Creeper Trail is non technical fine crushed gravel so I figured the music would not distract me in a dangerous way. As soon as I turned the tunes on I knew the rain would be much less of an issue.

     With the announcements done we quickly get the race underway and I find myself comfortably holding 7th place for about the first 8 or so miles. I wasn't working hard for it, just focusing on feeling good and not pushing the pace. I had been hitting a good string of miles in 7-7:59 range, but I knew it wouldn't be sustainable. When the 7's started getting hard I thought about fighting to hold the pace till mile 13 and calling it a half marathon training strategy, but I knew if I did that I would crash and hit the wall hard by mile 16. I decided to drop the pace to the high 8's which felt sustainable and the first few at that pace felt very comfortable.

     Somewhere around miles 12-15 some passing started and that was to be expected since I had dropped my pace. I believe it was 3 or 4 passed me, but I wasn't sure. One of them was the first place female, so I guessed I was in 10th or 11th. At this point place didn't matter much...in my mind a marathon is a 20 mile warm up and then a 6.2 mile race...that's how I was playing it anyway...

     By mile 15 the 8's were starting to take some effort and I found myself running in surges...letting my pace drop into into the low 9's then surging for a while to pull it back down to a mid 8 and letting it climb again. I had just finished listening to a long string of Slipknot tunes and when Limp Bizkit and Megadeth started playing "Nookie" and "Peace Sells (But who's buying)" I found myself refreshingly energized by the new tempos and sounds so I started singing along as I was running...got a few odd looks and a few interesting smiles too...

     I kept my intermittent surge strategy going all the way to mile 20. If I had anything in the tank to race on now was the time to pull it out. Disciplined runners behind me would be looking to pick up a spot or two at this point, but I wasn't sure what I was capable of since mile 20 in my previous marathons had always started a rapid collapse of pace and even the dreaded walk intervals. I looked back and didn't see anyone. I was feeling some enthusiasm for a strong finish, but I wasn't ready to hold a surge. A long string of Slayer tunes had just finished playing and I was finding the familiar sounds of Disturbed's "Down with the Sickness" and Limp Bizkits "Phenomenon" so I started singing out loud again. Holding the 8's was starting to feel easy and by mile 22 I was getting excited for a strong finish...

     I find myself looking for some 7's to finish strong with and knock out an 8:21 and an 8:09...it was too much...I went back to the high 8's and got passed by 1 right before mile 25. I had been thinking how great it was to have not fallen into the 9's or 10's at all this race, but I thought to soon...wham...a tiny "wall" I finish mile 25 with an 8:59 and find that I'm starting mile 26 in the 11's ...I needed the down time, I took it easy for about a 1/4 mile, but I knew I couldn't afford to be complacent if I wanted to hold my spot. I managed to progress the final full mile into the high 9's.

     I guess the guy who passed me right before mile 25 was hitting his own wall of sorts and had started walking. I passed him back in the final 2/10th and finished that 2/10ths with a pace back in the 8's. I forgot to turn my Garmin off and ended up having to delete that partial mile, but the other 26 are garminized and accessible with the link below.

     Crossing the finish line, I found myself slightly disoriented and unwilling to move much. The race director ushered me across the street where I found some friendly volunteers who gave me a nice cup of coffee. My wife. Denise, had been doing her own self timed training walk of 13 miles and she wasn't back yet, so I took a seat on the warm shuttle bus and rode around talking to the driver while he hauled finishers to their cars parked a mile away at an elementary school.

     All in all this was a great race. The volunteers will dedicated and helpful, Their was plenty of water stops, and the Creeper Trail made for a very comfortable running surface. It is a low key event with just a $10 entry fee, so the lack of an awards ceremony or awards for anything other than 1st place in 10yr age groups did nothing to take away from the race. I look forward to doing it again...hopefully on a warmer, non raining day in future years...
 2013 Va Creeper Trail Marathon
Time-3:42:46
Pace-8:30/M
Place-11/76 Overall, 4/11 in my age group, 10/46 among men

Thursday, March 21, 2013

VA Creeper Playlist

VA Creeper Playlist

     Running 26.2 miles over an estimated 4 hours has the potential to get tedious so I've assembled this playlist to help me break through any demotivational effects of monotony for the upcoming VA Creeper Marathon. Some of it I'll have never listened to before, but most of it is reliable motivational music.


 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Training For VA Creeper: Week 16/16

Training For VA Creeper Marathon
Week 16/16

     Mon: Treadmill 4 Miler: Entering the final week of training with high intensity and low mileage. I've haven't hit the middle 6's in a while so I gave the 3rd mile a hard push into the 6:30's and held it for a full mile. Exact mile splits aren't possible, but it was essentially low 7, high 6, mid 6, low 7. A good run to start the last week with.

     Wed: Home to App Trail O&B: 8 Miles: Final run before Sundays VA Creeper Marathon. My house to the Appalachian Trail via Salt Pond Rd. Its a nice 5/3 asphalt/trail hybrid run. No need to push it today, the hay is in the barn, just need to stay uninjured.

     Sat: Montvale Park 5 Mile Trail Race: Hiking this one with my daughter on Saturday. It will be our 3rd RNUTs event this year. Race report HERE when available. Given the weather forecast and our standard hiking pace, its safe to say this will happen, so I'm logging the miles and publishing the post today (Wed).

PaceTreadmillTrailAsphalt
Total
5




6  2
1
3
7 212
5
  8




  9
22
4
  10




  11




 12




 




Walking  15

6
 




  Total585
18
 


 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Training For VA Creeper: Week 15

Training For VA Creeper
 Week 15/16

     Mon: Treadmill 6 Miler: Started at 7.7 mph and increased the speed by 1/10th every half mile to wrap up at 8.8 mph. In generally accepted pace terms this represents starting out at a high 7 and finishing up in the high 6's. Final time was 44:15. Good run. I'll be dropping my mileage by a considerable chunk this week, so I want to see plenty of 7's.

     Wed: Alt Parkway 10 Miler: Settled into the mid 7's and stayed there for all but the 2 uphill miles at the end. Not quite a PR for this route, but not far from it.

     Fri: Full Mountain 12 Miler + 2 mile cool down: Having spent plenty of time pacing in the 7's for the past week and a half, I just wanted to take it a little easier on myself and promote injury free running. I only pushed the pace a little on the uphills and took it extremely easy on the down hills. No need to risk injury this close to race day.

 

      

PaceTreadmillTrailAsphalt
Total
5




6  1


1
7 5
8
13
  8

12
12
  9

4
4
  10




  11




 12




 




Walking  1




6
 




  Total7

24
31
 
 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Training For VA Creeper: Week 14

Training For VA Creeper Marathon
Week 14/16

     Sun: Hood Intervals: 8.73 Miles: Did the first 8 laps using a 9-7-8-6 pattern, but found the 6's to be harsh, so I backed off to an easy 10-8-9-7 pattern for the last 8 laps. I'll be tapering off a little this week, but I've felt the traditional 3 week taper I've done before was a bit too much, so I won't be tapering as much for week 14 as I have done with past training schedules. Looks like some serious snow in the forecast too, so I'm doing some things different this week to avoid running in snow. Not that I have anything against it, I just don't want to do my key workouts in it.

     Tue: Alt Parkway 12 Miler: I'd have rather done this on Wednesday, but the forecast called for snow, so I squeezed it in a day early. Didn't much feel like running, but after 7 miles I didn't really want to stop...I did slow down some though...tried to hold each mile just under an 8, but the two hard uphill miles on the back end proved to be a bit much so I kicked em in at just under 9 instead.

     Fri: Greenway 16 Miler: Just wanted to see how long I could hold a pace in the 7's. I had only planned to run 16 miles, but if I was still kickin' it at a sub 8, then I would have kept going...I made it 15 miles and then started fading fast. Had I been doing a longer run I probably would have wrapped up alternating between 10's and 8's. The winds coming off the river were brutal, so that contributed to my fatigue significantly.

     Sat: Recovery Walk: 3.5 Miles: Planning a slow 4 mile family walk, but not sure if its gonna happen Sat or Sun. Publishing this post Friday but will edit it to add the walk or delete this paragraph.

PaceTreadmillTrailAsphalt
Total
5




6 

1
1
7

27
27
  8

5
5
  9

2
2
  10

1
1
  11




 12




 




Walking 
13
4
 




  Total
139
40
 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

VA Creeper Expectations and Training Review

VA Creeper Expectations and Training Review

     16 weeks ago I devised THIS training program with some aspiration of achieving a marathon PR on March 25 in Damascus. To some extent PR chasing will always be one source of motivation when I sign up for an event, but when I look at the numbers I don't see much reason to think it will happen. Yes, I do have the knowledge that my training for VA Creeper, my 3rd marathon, has been less taxing than my other two marathons, but its also been slower and less consistent.

     My key strategy of  4 runs at 30 miles 4 weeks apart never really materialized due to inhospitable weather, I stopped trying to meet pace targets, and I found that incorporating planned walk intervals into my long runs actually makes me want to walk more. I had even considered using a run 5/walk 1 strategy on race day and approaching the VA Creeper with a just finish attitude.

     Not that there is anything at all wrong with just finishing an event...its actually a good attitude to have...I do usually like a challenge though. Looking at the numbers in all honesty I'd have to say that a 4 hour finish will be a challenge that I'm likely to be up to. My previous marathons a 3:35 and a 3:34 at Richmond in '10 and '11were fueled very much by a desire to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The VA Creeper is a USATF certified Boston Qualifying course, but I never approached this event looking to run it for a BQ. I did think in terms of a PR for a while, but thats just not realistic right now either. (BTW a Boston Qualifying time for a 40-44 yr old man is 3:15, at 45 it drops to 3:25 so I'm looking to BQ in 2016 depending on how things go, but it's too far down the road to be planning for it).

     Still, I have to call my training leading up to the VA Creeper a success for the following reasons:

     1) I knew when I signed up for an early spring marathon that winter training was going to be tough. I've never been a fan of bitter cold and even since I started year round active living I've still usually spent the winters more focused on weight lifting and 12 mile long runs. It was a harsh at times, but I got in most of my 20 and 20+ milers and all of my scheduled mid week 12 milers also!

     2) LET ME STRESS THIS WITH CAPS AND BOLD PRINT. Running is not a good weight loss strategy. Running performance might arguably be called a good performance indicator for a weight loss strategy, but in and of itself weight is controlled mostly by food. I had been steady gaining since May of 2012, not much, but I had let myself drift above AMA guidelines by almost 10 lbs. I like to wake up in the morning first thing and weigh myself before I do anything else. I had gotten up to 183 and AMA guidelines per THIS website is 174 MAX. I am happy to say I am back to about an average of 170. If for no other reason keeping this number steadily below 174 makes it ALL worthwhile.

     (Historical Note: I was peaking as a runner when I was waking up at around 163-166. I did an experiment over last summer with gaining muscle mass so I had convinced myself that my weight gain was healthy muscle. As part of fueling muscle growth I allowed myself to eat more "garbage" type "zombie" foods. Of the 15 or so lbs that I had added back on since reaching an adult low of 163-ish in Aug 2011 I can estimate that it was probably just 5-ish lbs of muscle and 10-lbs of fat. When I picked up my running mileage and still wasn't losing weight I was forced to remember what I had already learned and started eating with more discipline. Then the fat and water weight started falling off again. Eventually I will start fighting for PR's again and I will see how much muscle I can keep or if it's all just dead weight to a competitive runner)

     3) I really enjoy running right now. I look forward to maintaining my current 40-50 mile weekly mileage base. I couldn't say that approaching the past 2 marathons in Richmond. I had actually started dreading some runs. I may be a little slower right now, but it feels good and I'm enjoying the time I'm spending running. That's a big win no matter how you slice it.       

Saturday, March 2, 2013

2013 Explore Your Limits 5k

2013 Explore Your Limits 5k
RNUTs 2 of 6

History

Faith
2012-time 1:23:32, pace 26:57
Me
2010-time 24:27.87, pace: 8:09/M
2011-time 22:27.18, pace: 7:15/M
2012-time 22:06.82, pace: 7:08/M 

The Course

Course Map
Course Elevation Profile
 The Event

        It was a cool, chilly morning with cloudy skies and temperatures hovering just above freezing. Faith Renee and I set out to complete our 2nd of 4 trail hike events with the Mountain Junkies. Our goals were simple and modest...start together, finish together, have a good time appreciating nature while hiking 3.1 miles, snag a couple of event shirts and score a couple plates of food. 













      Happy to say all goals were met! No complaints at all and Faith said "This has been a really nice morning." as we were finishing the course. Getting outside, being active, and spending time around similarly minded people is the true value of participating in these events. We are registered for the Montvale Park 5 Mile race (hike) in 3 weeks, and then plan on hiking the Trail Nut 10k on May 4th to finish our race series requirements!
     

Friday, March 1, 2013

Training For VA Creeper: Week 13

Training For VA Creeper
Week 13/16

     Mon: Parkway/Stewarts Knob 8 Miler: Tempo: 4th time running this course with the other 3 times being kinda close together right at a year ago. I did get a course PR today, but I'm not certain what it really means since the other times I ran this course I had ridden my bike to the start location and this time I drove my truck. Still a PR is a PR!

     Wed: Greenway/Mill Mtn 12 Miler: Tempo: I only ran this route once before back in March 2011 and I was faster today by about 80 seconds. I was looking for something in the 1:35 range, but the numbers still suggest a strong, steady uphill and an ability to hold a sub 8 pace

     Fri: Salt Pond Loop/QOL 20+ Miler: Long/Recovery: Just set out to continue my exploration of Salt Pond Rd. Happy to say I have now ran all of Salt Pond Rd west of the Parkway. With two tempo runs under my belt I saw no need at all to push the pace on this one. I hiked a 3 mile section and did some walk intervals here and there at other points along the course. Very relaxing way to spend the morning and get in some time on my feet.

     Sat: Explore Your Limits 5k: 3.1 Miles: This is another hiking event with Faith, so I'm going to add these miles into my grid a day early knowing in advance that my pace will qualify as walking miles in the grid below. I'll link to a race report after I write one. 




PaceTreadmillTrailAsphalt
Total
5




6 




7
212
14
  8
35
8
  9
15
6
  10
33
6
  11

3
3
 12

1
1
 




Walking 
60
6
 




  Total
1529
44