Wednesday, November 4, 2015

RACE REPORT: SPINX RUNTOWN USA HALF MARATHON 2015


Not an A-race, since my focus is on the California International Marathon in early December, but this was a good check on fitness, a distance close enough to the 16er that I was supposed to do that weekend, and a great hometown half.

Training Lead-up:

Tuesday, Oct 13:
Up in Charlotte for work.  Did 5.0 in 40:45, 8:09 average, at 2 degrees = 7:50 effort after a dinner of Nashville Hot Chicken with awesome garlic and herb tater tots and a beer flight.  The little gym room felt really hot.  My legs were fresh, although my body was probably using up energy with digesting, because my upper body was not super energetic.

Wednesday, Oct 14:
Drove back to Greenville.  My dad had dropped off his car at the airport, so I was going to pick it up.  Night time was best, since there would be less traffic to deal with on the shoulder-less roads, and by picking it up this night, I could save another $4/day of parking fees.  I ran 3.5 in 32:09, 9:09 average there, and that included not stopping my watch while I stopped to let cars go safely by me.  I wore tons of reflectors and lights all over me.  And epic run.  Felt mostly uphill.  Pushed the pace a bit, since I wanted to limit my time on the road, and because it was going to be pretty short overall, anyway.  The road was bumpy only in a couple of parts.  The rest of the time, it was smooth.  Cars weren’t too bad.  A 10pm run.  The goal for this run, which I recorded in my paper running log, was to not die by car.



Friday, Oct 16:
55 min body weight strength session, at 2am (I had slept from 8pm to midnight)

Over the weekend, did some geocaching, and I found my first Letterbox Geocache, which is a cache that contains a stamp that you get to stamp in your notepad.


Also painted a picture (acryllic), based on a photo that I took in Yellowstone, the night of the Supermoon, when we happened to run across some elk.

Sunday, Oct 18:
Long run of 16.3 in 2:34:36, 9:27 ave, at the park.  It was late at 11am, so I wore my long sleeve tech tee mostly for sun protection, although a bit to ward off cold, too.  This was after breakfast and snacks.  I felt tired beforehand because of a lack of rest, since my sleep schedule has been off with the naps.  The idea was to just go slowly, and listen to fun podcasts.  It ended up being better than expected, though my legs were pushing it in the last 6 miles, although it wasn’t a death march.  Tempo-y, maybe.  No food or water necessary, although I did crave apples towards the end.  Stretching and foam rolling felt so good afterwards.

Tuesday, Oct 20:
At first, I would’ve considered any run at all a victory, but my legs started being in the mood for speedwork as I walked to the fitness room.  I ended up with 5.0 of intervals in 37:19, 7:28 average, at 1 degree of incline.  After half a mile or so, the treadmill suddenly stopped after losing power.  My body absorbed the sudden shock, but that’s not safe!  It’s the second time that particular treadmill has done that to me.  I switched treadmills and re-started and began the distance counter back at 0… I guess at least my legs got a warm-up. 
The workout: 1 mile warmup (on top of whatever I did on the first treadmill) in 7:58, 3x [0.5 mi in 3:20 (9mph), 0.25 mi in 1:59 (7.5mph)], 0.75 mi recovery in 6:08, then 1 x [0.5 mi in 3:20, 0.25 mi in 1:59], then 0.25 mi in 1:51.
Couldn’t believe the run was so difficult, and that I needed to take that extra 0.75 mi recovery before doing the fourth rep.  I did feel like I had to slap myself awake during the first mile, because I was so tired.  I was oddly thirsty, too, so I drank during the 7.5mph sections.  The gym keeps the temps at 72 degrees in the winter, which is hotter than the 70 degrees that they set in the summer.  Boo heat.
My legs were in no mood to run for the next couple of days, as they needed to recover. 

Friday, Oct 23:
55 min strength session.  My legs were still not good enough for a run, and I had rather save them for the next day’s 20 miler, which would be my second out of three, for this marathon training cycle. 

Saturday, Oct 24:
With the half marathon the following weekend, I didn’t want to do anything crazy and push the pace… just keep it slow and easy.  Morning run, after a breakfast of some lentils and onion stew with fat free cheese, garlic, and black pepper… one of the few “dishes” that I cook.  20.0 in 3:14:20, 9:43 average.  Went well.  Did about 25 x 0.75 mile laps around the park… yikes!

The next day, went back out to Charlotte, this time with my mom, who was visiting.  Along the way, we stopped by a few geocaches…  two sections of the Berlin Wall transported from Germany and erected at a German company’s campus, a rest stop where I picked up a travel bug, and a giant peach-shaped water tank.  That made it a fun drive up. 


Could’ve maybe exercised that night, but wasn’t really in the mood after dinner... not even in the mood for biking.  I figured that I’d do it Monday morning, instead. 

Monday, Oct 26:
I did make it out to the gym at 6am, although that was an hour later than originally planned, because my feet weren’t initially in the mood and were creaky, so I snoozed for a while to see if they would wake up.  The biggest impetus for getting up and out was that I knew I’d feel sluggish all day at work after eating out and having popcorn last night, if I didn’t get this in.  After a while, I felt good enough to try biking, but when I got there, I felt ok enough to try running.  Putting on my compression socks really helped, I think.  I did have to stop after 3 miles to re-tie a shoelace, but other than that, 5.0 in 42:23, 8:29 average at 2 degrees of incline = 8:08 effort.  Hot in there, but at least I got in the run.  I had probably only gotten 4:30 hrs of sleep last night.

Wednesday, Oct 28:
Last run before the half marathon, so nothing too crazy.   5.0 in 42:26, 8:29 average, 3 degrees of incline = 7:49 effort.  During the first two miles, my tummy still felt full from dinner and was digesting, so I was forced to keep it slow, which was good for my legs’ sake, anyway.  Didn’t feel too hard, other than overcoming the tummy fullness, since I had kept it wasy.

Visited Charlotte again.

THE RACE:
It’s so nice to have a decently sized HM so close to home.  This was my third time doing it, so I knew where to park, and where to go.  I liked the touch of the trolley ride from the parking lot.  It saves a bit of walking, but I also liked that it kept me warm, and it’s fun – it feels like a big-time race.  I had my pre-race supplements, and I nursed a regular coffee (provided by Spinx at the race) while waiting for the start time.  It was great to be able to use the Ballpark’s bathrooms, too, instead of porta-potties.  They had space heaters out, which was great, too, although it was warm enough in the inner part of the concourse.  When it was 5 minutes till the full marathon’s start, I checked in my bag (great to have this service) and went out to watch the marathoners start.  I pitied them, haha, knowing they had 26.2 miles ahead of them, when I only had 13.1.  I thought they were crazy.  Yet, I’ll be doing the same in a month… it’s a bit different when a race is just a full vs. a runfest of various distances. 

There wasn’t much lag time before the HM start, which was nice… a little more than 5 minutes, then we were off.  I had a sports bra, compression socks, and arm sleeves for a good blend of warmth and coolness.  My lower legs were numb from cold for the first couple of miles, though, especially my feet.  I couldn’t feel it, but the fact that I couldn’t control my feet meant that they must’ve been taking a bunch joint shock with each hard stride.  I figured that it was a big dose of eccentric loading plus joint stress, which I’d feel later, if not post-race, then later in the race when my feet re-gained feeling.  At around mile 3, I felt my legs fully, and they had started to get tired.  That’s not unusual, so I wasn’t too worried.  And I was able to start counting down from 9.X miles left to go.  

The course went through random parts of downtown, including a small bit on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, but much of it was circling around various roads in Cleveland Park.  I wonder why the course was designed this way… fewer cars to contend with?  Cheaper to have fewer road closures?  Ease of spectating?  Anyway, the impact was that there were two lanes at certain points, based on whether this was your first or second time through the park, and you had to get a wristband after completing your first trip through.  The park has hills, so the course was hilly.  It was nice to “earn” the wristband after the first pass through, though, and that gave me a boost.  I had a half a gel at mile 6, and the rest at mile 10.  Oddly, they had no Gatorade this year, and even the water stops weren’t as frequent as what I remember them being in the past.  Not a big issue, since I’ve been able to train myself to go 18.5 miles without food or water, but it’s odd.  

This race was all about running on tired legs.  I went by feel, for my pacing strategy, which meant PR speeds (by 0:05/mi) early on.  I felt like it could be possible.  I did fade a bit in the second half, and ended up getting passed by a few people.  Normally, I’m the one doing the passing.  It was good to practice pushing on even with tired legs, though, since that’s the feeling I’ll get during the last 6 miles of the marathon (times two, pain-wise).  I kept it up for the most part and didn’t blow up, so it was ok.  

Finished 13.1 in 1:36:46, 7:23 ave, third in my age group.  Probably 0:46 off my PR.  Not bad, given the hills and the previous weekend’s 20er.  Perfect weather.  Could’ve done better if my feet were warmer, I suppose, and if I hadn’t roughed up my legs so much in the early miles.  Nice, sleek medal, though.  Oh, the shirts this year were advertised as “we’re bringing back the dark blue, with the white panels”, but they failed to mention that this was only for the mens’ shirts, and that the women were going to get pink.  Maybe I can give it to someone else who likes pink.  The thumb loops are nice, feature-wise, though.  Good race, as usual.  Great post-race food.  Great atmosphere.  No real “swag” in the Swag bag. 


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