Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Blue Ridge Half Marathon

2013 Blue Ridge Half Marathon
 Garmin Data HERE
The Blue Ridge Half Marathon 
2010- time 1:49:27 (chip) 1:49:37 (gun), Pace 8:22/M, Place 58/450 overall, 10/30 age group, 51/216 among men
2011-time 1:37:19 (chip) 1:37:22 (gun), Pace 7:26/M, Place 10/368 overall, 1/36 age group, 9/176 among men
2012- time 1:35:29 (chip) 1:35:29 (gun), Pace 7:17/M, Place 8/515 overall, 2nd place Master, 7/231 among men
2013-time 1:41:53 (chip) 1:41:55 (gun), Pace 7:47/M, Place 48/798 overall, 3/42 age group, 41/357 among men
 The Expectation
My training had been for the VA Creeper Marathon this past winter and this event is falling during the recovery cycle. Consequently I have no intention of running the course aggressively and recent Garmin stats suggest 1:45:00 to be on the high end of what I might expect. 

The Event
      With this event being held 5 days after the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon there was a lot of purpose and resolve amongst us race participants this morning. Nobody really knows for certain if marathons are being targeted specifically by a terrorist group or if the attack during the Boston Marathon was an isolated incident. Either way I appreciate Roanoke City stepping up the security and increasing the police presence for this event.

     The simple fact that I had not trained for this event this year was in no way going to prevent me from participating in it. As I posted last year HERE, this race has a special psychological connection to my recreational life as a runner and if it should happen to pass that a year comes along where the best I can do is walk it, then walk it I shall. Fortunately my residual training from the VA Creeper Marathon last month has left me in a good position to confidently tackle the course today with a hard and steady tempo effort. For me a tempo effort is characterized by a lack of aggression, a focus on holding 90-95% effort, and a willingness to yield pace and/or position in favor of staying comfortable.

     This course is easily broken down into 3 sections, so I'll just hit the highlights for each:

Start to Star (miles 1-4):I started out just a few steps back from the start line. After the starting gun fired I once again realize what focusing my training on long slow runs has cost me in terms of being quick off the line. Never had a clue what spot I was in as at least 50 racers of both full and half distances were well out in front by the time the first mile was knocked out and the strenuous climb to the star began. I had half way thought to be able to hold my own for the climb up Mill Mountain, but a good 20 or so more people blazed by me on this section too. No idea how many of those in front were doing the full and how many were doing the half. I was satisfied with my effort and a quick look at my Garmin when I reached the Star revealed that my avg pace was in the high 8's.

Star to Greenway (miles 5-8): After leaving the star the course grants about 2 miles of rapidly descending down hill followed by a rolling landscape in a tour of SW Roanoke. I passed a small handful on the sharp decent and found myself keeping stride with 3 or 4 other runners for the tour around that section of Roanoke. Garmin was showing an avg pace in the very low 8's at this point and I knew holding steady would secure me an avg pace in the 7's which was really the best I could hope for in terms of a numerical goal.

Greenway to Finish (miles 9-13.1): This section only hit the greenway for maybe 1/10th of a mile since race directors decided to use the flood route this year. After the quick exit from the greenway the rolling hills continue in a tour of one of old Roanoke's historical districts. By mile 11 I was starting to feel a healthy burning in my calves and glutes. I know whats coming when my legs start feeling like means I've got about 6 more miles where I can really pour it on and then burn out fast or about 10 more miles of steady tempo running. I decided to stick with the game plan at first, but I was ready to be finished also, so when I saw the sign for mile 12 I picked up my effort and passed about 5 people in the last mile. I hadn't done the math for an avg pace to finish time conversion so I was honestly shocked to see the timing clock still at 1:41 and change when it came into view. I poured it on to the best of my ability for the final stretch to keep it from turning to 1:42 before I finished. It was close, 1:41:55 was my official gun time, so I was glad to have it.

Post Race

     Similar to last year, Kneesee was walking the course, so I grabbed some food, checked the results screen, determined a high probability that I had secured a 3rd place age group award, went to my car, changed into my Vibrams and walking clothes, then followed the course backwards to walk my wife in. She was glad to see me and had been hurtin' a little but was holding a steady walking pace and finished up with a PR of her own!

     We waited around to pick up my 3rd place AG award and congratulate the other medalists at the ceremony. It was nice to see so many of the people I regularly race and run with picking up their own awards! With a day full of errands, eating and resting on the agenda we were quick to make an exit and get back home. 
Errand #1

Monday, April 15, 2013

2013 Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k / RNUTs 4 of 6

2013 Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k
RNUTs 4 of 6

Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k
(Old Course)
2010-time 53:45.62, pace: 8:32/M, Place 46/131 overall,6/7 in my age group,44/81 among men
(New Course)
2011-time 47:51.81, pace: 7:32/M, Place 8/133 overall, 1/11 in my age group, 8/80 among men
2012-time 49:25.72, pace: 7:47/M , Place 18/185 overall,3/11 in my age group,18/116 among men
2013-time 53:38.03, pace: 8:27/M , Place 34/186 overall,3/13 in my age group,29/109 among men

Garmin Data: HERE

The Expectation
     As usual, I approach the Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k as a referendum on how I'm going to do at the Blue Ridge Half Marathon which has always fallen on the following Saturday. This year needed to be different though because in previous years I followed specific training schedules that were geared towards PR's at the Blue Ridge Half and used the Mountain Junkie races as integral parts of the plan. This year I trained for a spring marathon, the VA Creeper Marathon, and with that race now history I find myself just "going through the motions" to get through my race schedule for the next month or so.

     With diminished expectations of doing anything remarkable today, it seemed a good idea to add some character to the race by making it into a duathlon (of sorts). At 7am I got on my Trek Bontrager road bike and cycled just over 14 miles to the race HQ. I tried to think of it as an extended warm up, so I didn't push for speed but just a steady low end effort (14.7 mph avg). Facing a 9am race start, I arrived just before 8:00 with plenty of time to cool down and get rested for the run. 

     Another factor weighing on me was the Angels Race triathlon taking place the next day. I didn't want to sabotage my chances of a PR at Angels, but I wasn't willing to do much in terms of energy management to make it happen either. As long as I didn't totally trash my legs I should be ok (that was the thought anyway). 

The Event

     Standing on the far right side of the front row I'm ready for about anything. When the start horn blasts I quickly come to terms with the fact that I'm not going to be breaking any records as scores of runners blaze past me. Sometimes I can keep up with what spot I'm holding overall and that usually keeps me motivated during the race, but this was not to be one of those days. It was somewhat expected and I didn't feel discouraged in the least. The first mile was steady uphill road climbing along the JP Fishburn Parkway to the Monument Trail head. By the time I reached the trail head everybody had spread out and I was comfortably running with one other person who was content to let me hold the pace for the entire Monument Trail portion.

     Exiting Monument Trail and heading up the "Old Road" to the Star I dropped my effort back and the runner behind me took the lead, but stayed in sight. Maybe 4 or 5 other runners caught us on this 1/2 mile section, some kept hammering till they were out of view, but I ended up entering the next trail section in a group of 4.

     We were all at the same pace for about a mile, but when the trail started getting steep again, I found myself running solo. There was a water stop about half way up this section of trail and some time after the water, but before the trail empties out at the Mill Mountain Zoo I did get passed once out of the blue. 

     From the Zoo to the Star and down the Star Trail to the finish I got passed three more times. I did take this section more conservatively than I had to, but I figured I wasn't fighting for a PR and with all the rocks in some sections I may as well play it safe, besides I doubted I was in contention for a medal and I still had the Angels Race the next day. I did try to push my pace and hold my spot in the last 1/4 mile, but it wasn't enough, so I got what I got.

     Given my recent "post marathon" training stats and the "duathlon" factor I was incredibly happy to see that I had finished in under an hour. As luck or good fortune would have it I also managed a podium spot for 3rd place for the second year in a row. 

Resembling a pirate, it seemed somehow appropriate that I should take "Tharrred place" as one insightful spectator to the awards ceremony pointed out.
     Having successfully adventured across the region, conquered the mountain, and plundered some booty I boarded once again my trusty bicycle and ventured back to my home, but at a more relaxing pace than the ride in (12.9 mph avg).
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Saturday, April 6, 2013

By The Numbers: 2013: Q1

     By The Numbers

Post workout weight. I like this number to stay below 170,

First Thing in the Morning weight. I like to see this number stay between 171 and 174.

BMI. Essentially irrelevant for folks who do regular strength training.

Blood Pressure: Meeting Targets-No Meds!
Body Fat %: The most critical number for health: I like this to stay below 15 and below 13 if I'm trining competitively for a race.

Cycling Mileage: It's been a tough winter for cycling, not many miles.
Run Mileage: I intend to hold steady in this range for all of 2013

Swim Mileage: Just doing enough to where I can complete a 300yd pool swim triathlon without feeling foreign to the water.