Sunday, October 30, 2011

RACE REPORT: Spinx (Runtown USA) Half Marathon 2011

Lead-up week:
I mostly followed my usual race week training patern.
Sunday: Intervals, to try to sharpen and peak at the right time. 
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Strength - Monday would've been better, to give more recovery time
Wednesday: 5.0 in 38:50, 7:46 ave.  I haven't done a 5er training run that fast in a while, so I wonder if I over-spent myself.  It didn't feel difficult, so I thought it would be okay, but 3 days before a race, I maybe should've taken the pace a bit easier.
Thursday and Friday: Rest

I stretched almost every workday this week.  Towards the middle of the week, my body felt inflamed/used... like it was busy breaking down and rebuilding from the strength session.  It had been 2 weeks since my last srength session due to the Mexico trip, so maybe it had more adpting to do than normal.  And who knows how going back to normal altitude after 2 weeks at 1.65 mi does to you.  I would've thought that your body would be stronger than ever back down, with higher RBC counts, but I think that it's possible that your body freaks out a little at the changes. 

Sleep this week wasn't ideal, either.  4, 4, 7, 4, 6, 3+4.  The 3+4 is because I tried to sleep at 8pm the night before the race, but I woke up a little while later, cleaned my apartment a bit, ate a bit, then went back to sleep.

Friday fuel... maybe more fibery than it should've been.  Soymilk, bit of broccoli, butternut squash for breakfast, hoping that the broccoli would have plenty of time to digest.  Apple, sprouted grain tortilla with PB, tofu chocolate moussse for lunch.  Tofu chocolate mousse, more butternut squash for dinner.  Granola bar late night.  Other stuff, too, that I probably forgot.  Lots of decaf and tea.  Not bad... no real issues the next day, but next time, a bit less fiber, just so that I can feel completely all set to go the morning of the race.

Race Morning:
The usua hot shower to warm up, although my body was already warm since it had been active 4 hours before that.  Had a bit of oatmeal for breakfast - not really hungry, since I had eaten a fair amount late night.  I decided to wake up 1.5 hrs before the time I wanted to leave the apt, rather than the usual 1 hr, so I ended up watching local news for 0.5 hrs... eh... 1 hr is best.

It was cold, "feels like" 36 degrees at the start, so I brought plenty of warm clothes, which was a move I really appreciated, especially post-race when my body temps dropped.   I parked and got on the Trolley.  I LOVE the excitement of seeing everyone on race morning with all of their gear and the knowledge that we were all prepared to do something great that day... warriors ready for battle, ready for glory.


I walked around the pre-race area a bit, went to the bathroom.  I might've walked around  a little more than I should've.  It didn't hurt to stay warm, I guess, but I was wearing plenty at that time, so warmth wasn't an issue.  I got there at 7am, and I watched the marathoners set off at 7:30am.



After that, I had maybe 20 minutes to strip off my extra clothes, drink a cup of coffee (for warmth and for the caffeine boost... I only drink coffee before long races... never normally), go to the start.  I was originally going to wear a singlet, but the air temp would be 41+, which is plenty fine for a sports bra, which I prefer even in sub-freezing temps on training runs, when my body isn't producing as much heat as it does on race day.  So I re-pinned my number there... lots to do, and I felt rushed.  Took off all my warm-up gear, ran a few steps and did a bit of dynamic stretching, downed the coffee, checked in my bag, went to the start.  There was plenty of room at the front of the start, thankfully (wouldn't be able to tarry that much at a big race).  Saw an old summer camp friend from HS years AA at the start, which was really nice.  She's super speedy, and despite not really training for it, ended up winning 1st in our age group and ran a 1:29 or something.
And we were off...

The Race:
I was fine with gloves and a sports bra (and my calf sleeves) temp-wise, although it was right at about when we started to run that my legs got cold and lost a bit of feeling.  So I could move them, but I was more moving my feet from my hips.  It was similar at my first half in Philly in 2008, where it was sub-freezing during the race (water stations were treacherous) and it took me a couple miles before I could feel my feet.  Here, it just took me maybe 0.6 mi. My legs probably went too fast... mix the numbness with the race excitement with the downhill.  One of my legs threatened to cramp up a couple of times (from the numbness?), and I thought "oh no, you don't", and it was fine, but man... never had that happen before.

Splits> 6:39, 7:22, 7:12, 7:03, 14:42 for 2 (7:21 ave), 7:25, 7:31, 7:46, 7:42, 7:35, 7:52 for 1.1. 

The race is downhill for the first half and hilly+uphill for the second half, so positive splits are somewhat expected if you're doing even effort.  But I probably still went too fast at the start.  It felt good the first mile.  I guess until I get the first split, it's hard for me to judge how hard I'm going at the start.  Eh well.

During mile 3, we could go on pavement or spongy rubber trail, and I normally prefer pavement during races to not lose energy return and to go faster, but I got boxed in a bit.  It was better for tangents, and perhaps saved my legs a bit, so I dunno.

During mile 4, I talked a bit to a guy who was aiming for around the same time, and I think he was looking to run together, but it didn't really work out, since I had gone out too fast, and my body needed to slow down. 

Mile 5 - some hills as part of the revised course that was supposed to remove another hill.  I don't know...

A colleage/ running friend from work who beats me at almost every race ended up being with me for the middle 10ish miles of the race, which was nice. 

There were water stops at the 3.1, 4.2, 6.2, 7.8, 9.5, 10.5, and 11.3.  I knew from last year that this would be plenty, especially since it was so cold outside.  One swallow per station was plenty, maybe even too much.  I took 1/2 a Powerbar Gel (double latte flavor) at the 6 and 10 or so.

Mile 7 is supposed to be the big hill.  It's part of my weekly long run course, so I know that part very well.  I didn't realize it was so uphill, and my up and downhill splits are always almost exactly even.  So I think it's really the part right at the end of and right after my turn-around point that it gets really tough.  On the course elevation map, it looked like that was the only real hill, and that once you got over that part, it was more or less even, but the remainder of the course has like 4 hills.

After 8, you're just ticking dow the miles.  I got passed by several for the rest of the course, and I caught a couple of people.  More passed than catching. 

In the last few miles in the race, you're just pushing yourself mentally.  It's a different feeling altogether.  You're going, you know you've got this.  Just keep pushing.  Last year, I hit a bit of a wall in the last 0.8 mi, and the last bit was tough.  This year, I was more or less doing ok right up to the end, not that it was easy, but I wasn't in great pain.

And the finish... there was a girl maybe 15 ahead of me, who had passed me at maybe mile 10 or 11.  Didn't have a reasonable shot at catching her at that point, but I did do as much of a sprint as I could at the end.

The chip time was not very accurate last year for some reason, and I think they had me at 1:35:15 when my watch time was 1:36-something.  I finished with a watch time of 1:36:30 this year, so who knows whether I set a course PR.  The official race results haven't come out yet.

// Results came out 10 minutes ago:
Chip time: 1:36:32
Gun time: 1:36:32... so it thinks I crossed the start line immediately, which I didn't.  I was close enough that it read my chip, but I think there was probably a 7s delay or so. 
Overall: 57/1266 (4.5%)
Women: 11/682 (1.5%)
20-24F: 3/63 (5%)
Post-Race:
I love the post-race food provided at this event by the Spinx gas stations.  It's healthy!  Whole wheat turkey sandwhiches and many kinds of fruit were my favorites.  They also had yogurt parfaits.  I wasn't super hungry, but I craved the turkey most of all.


I knew that AA had beaten me.   I saw her go out fast at the start, and her red shorts soon disappeared from my sight, even within the first mile.  So I wasn't going to do better than 2nd in the AG.  I didn't know if I'd place.  I ended up with 3rd in the AG, and Jeff Galloway came to give out the awards, which was cool.



Watching the marathoners finish is always incredible.  It's insane that they just pushed themselves through 26.2 miles.  Those guys are superheroes. 

After the race, I had to resort to doing a post-marathon shuffle.  I don't know why my legs were so used up.  They're usually fine after HMs.  Oh well, it was a fun race with a good effort. 

Reflections:
I seem to have plateaued.

Here is my history of HMs:
Nov 2008 - Philadelphia Half Marathon, 2:00:19, with almost no running in the 6 weeks before due to a sprained ankle.  No sleep and a good bit of walking the night before.  Longest run in my life up to that point - 11 miles.
Apr 2010 - Country Music Half Marathon, 1:46:09, finally with about 16 weeks of decent running after a 6-mo layoff from a hip injury.  Very happy with a PR.
Oct 2010 - Spinx Half Marathon, 1:36:01, we'll say.  I had no idea where 1:36 came from and was sooooo excited.  I had gone out too fast and kind of held it somehow.  In the early weeks of marathon training.
Apr 2011 - Greer Earth Run, 1:36:00.  Curious to see how much completing my first marathon had helped me improve.  Good to see that Spinx wasn't a fluke.
Oct 2011 - iRecycle Half Marathon, 1:38:53.  Not able to really do long runs all year since the marathon.  Finally able to do a couple, planned to do another this weekend, so signed up for this race for fun but couldn't help trying to be competetive.  A hilly course, and I hadn't trained much, so the time was good.
Oct 2011 - This one, 1:36:30. 

So I had bit PRs at the start, but now I've had 4 races within a year at what I'd say are exactly the same speed. 

How I can improve:
- More mileage overall
- More quality/variations of workouts? 
I do 1 intervals session every 1.5ish weeks.  I do 1 LR a week.  I do progressiony runs the rest of the time.  Not bad variation.  I don't do tempo, really, because I feel like it's about the same as race-effort, and I don't want to race my training runs and waste it there, or get injured.  I could do more hills.  I could try other types of training that are similar to the ones I'm doing now, like farleks instead of normal speed, part tempo/part LR, etc.
- Better sleep

I do pretty well on:
- Strength
- Nutrition
- Stretching

So... I can try more mileage and other workouts.  It's tough b/c you have to be careful not to overdo it, or to ramp up too quickly.  So we'll see.  But I want to do better.

Any other suggestions?

1 comment:

lindsay said...

i think more quality workouts would be the best bet. total mileage -- varies for each person (in my opinion). some people can run amazing on 40mpw and others 120. but, definitely gotta progress slowly - some people are more prone to injury with extra speed work.

another thing i've read about people doing to get faster is to slow down more on recovery runs. it seems backwards, but enables you to have the proper amount of energy for quality days. (that's my interpretation anyway).

congrats on the spinx ag award and 1:36!! i was going to spectate but then had to work. ugh. (still have some work to do today from home too) yippi