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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2013 Angels Race Sprint Triathlon

2013 Angels Race Sprint Triathlon


Angels Race Sprint Triathlon  (300m/25k/5k)
2011 Time-01:27:13, (S-7:50, T1-4:46, B-49:42, T2-2:18, R-22:38), Place-92/187 Men, 2/18 Novice Men
2012 Time-01:29:09, (S-7:28, T1-3:05, B-50:40, T2-2:49, R-25:08), Place-79/190 Men, 9/22 Men 40-44
2013 Time-01:28:50, (S-8:26, T1-2:21, B-49:59, T2-1:45, R-26:21), Place-93/209 Men, 10/17 Men 40-44

The Angels Race is unique in triathlons and endurance sports in general for its theme of acknowledging the common bonds we all share with the passing of loved ones. The race was started in 2003 in honor of teenager Brittany Grover who had died in an automobile accident in Nov 2002. The tradition is to mark your arm with the name of your angel(s) and race in their honor. 

I don't always know the angels I race for as I often find myself grieving on behalf of others, but the ones I race for all have something in common in that their life, either directly or indirectly, made my life a better one and that in passing their lives will continue to serve as sources of inspiration and strength.

For 2013 I race in memory of 2 angels:
My uncle, Frank Hylton, who passed away last summer and will always be remembered for his strong demeanor.
Jessica Hart (17), daughter of Denise Alt whom I grew up a couple of doors down from. Words simply can not express the sorrow I feel for Denise and her family that such a devoted mother should have to lay to rest such a promising young child.

The Expectation

     I'm going to do this race every year that I can, but I've never really done much training for it and this year was no exception. I've done right at zero "bricks" and my swim mileage is pathetic. Somehow I have managed to find some consistent intensity with my cycling lately, so I'm thinking that with good transitions I might manage a 1:25:00 or at least a PR of 1:27:13 or better. This race has once again fallen on the day after a foot race, the Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k, so I won't be approaching it particularly well rested, but I'll give it what I've got and be happy knowing I gave it what I had. In previous years something has always prevented me from getting the numbers I feel capable of, so if this year is no exception I'll be ok with that.

The Event

 The Swim (8:26)
     In spite of this being my slowest tri swim to date and even slightly slower than my recent swim training stats, I did have a very comfortable swim. Pool swim triathlons are notorious for having congested swimming lanes and I saw a lot of that as I was waiting for my start. We start in 15 sec. increments and the person filling the spot before mine didn't show up, so that meant I'd have 30 seconds to make up for if I was going to pass anyone. I wasn't likely to make up that much time which meant the only passing to take place would be other people passing me. The lady behind me did catch up to me after 100m and while she didn't make a gesture to pass, I motioned her past me at the end of the second lap. In the 3-5 seconds that I gave up yielding at the wall I looked around and saw that nobody else was in the 2nd lane. This meant I was at least 50 meters ahead of any potential passers. I finished my swim without any additional passing and had plenty of room to execute what I let pass for flip turns at the far end of each swim lane. I couldn't have asked for better circumstances.

     Everything seemed to go smoothly. I know it can be done quicker, but I'm not willing to do anything different right now.
The Bike (49:59) Garmin: HERE
     As I started my ride I realized I had forgotten to grab a handful of gummy snacks. I usually grab a handful in transition, but had not laid them out in a convenient spot, so they got overlooked. No time to stress over it though, I had been logging some good cycling stats lately so I knew I had to make this part of the race count. As is typical in pool swim triathlons, a poor swimmer can do a lot of passing on the bike if he is a decent cyclists. I'm about middle of the pack with my cycling, so I hammered down and passed 10-15 people easily. 
T2 (1:45)
     Everything went as well as could be expected. I didn't bother wasting time with the missed gummies since the race would be over before the energy had time to get in my system. I was looking to keep it under 2 minutes and glad to see I got it. 

The Run (26:21) Garmin: HERE
     I had honestly thought that I had already ran my worst possible tri 5k here last year when I ran it still physically abused from the 2nd place masters Blue Ridge Half effort the day before. Boy was I mistaken...this run killed me. Possibly it was the missed fueling at T1 or the lack of rest from the day before, but after 1 mile in I just couldn't understand why I was out there or what I was hoping to prove. I wanted to walk really badly, but in my deepest thoughts I remembered the conversation my wife, Denise, said she had out on this course the one year she did it. About how she had wanted to quit, but was reminded by a fellow participant about the name on her arm she was racing for. I was fighting something mental on the run this year and I couldn't fully compensate for it, but when I remembered who I was out there to honor I knew I wasn't going to walk. I had counted on a 22-23 minute run, but for each agonizing step I was just glad to be alive. My strides were weak and the heat from the sun was starting to add to the torment. I climbed the monster hill towards the end and with the finish in sight I managed to add a slight uptick to my pace and lumber across the finish line with my worst tri 5k run to date. 

In Summary
  Too exhausted to think about stats, I crossed the finish line and started walking it off for a cool down. With no destination of consequence I decided to ease on back towards the transition area and start gathering my things. I had just got everything together and packed up when I happened across Kim Arbouw for a chat and photo op. She wasn't particularly happy with her run either, so it must have been something in the atmosphere. I still had to drive home, shower and work from 3-11, so I made a final effort to see if they had posted the results yet and after an additional 5-10 minute wait they posted updated results showing me where I had earned a 1:28:50. I was happy just to finish, beating last years time by 19 seconds was a nice bonus though. Missing my PR goal by just over a minute and a half is easy enough to get over considering the circumstance, so no disappointment here.
Shirt back: Please support Angels Race sponsors

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).
Please support Mountain Junkie Sponsors

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.