Archive for ‘Race Report’

October 1, 2014

Shut Up and Run

Five Borough Series: Bronx 10-Mile

Sunday was the Bronx 10-Miler, and with it I ticked off borough number four on my list.  I planned to run it with Long Run Buddy, and we decided to shoot for an 8:15 pace, which was my distance-adjusted equivalent marathon pace.  Rationally, I knew I should be able to do it, but 8:15’s sounded fast and, truth be told, I was a wee bit concerned about keeping it up.  Sunday was fairly warm and I was coming off a hard week of training with only one rest day before the race.  If there’s been an emergent theme to this season though, it’s that I’m tired of being scared to run fast*.  As I shuffled up to the starting line, I decided that I was not really interested in listening to any more neurotic self doubt.  My new motto was shut up and run.

With almost 10,000 people running down Grand Concourse, the first few miles required the usual NYRR bob-and-weave techniques.  Eventually we found a pack running at our pace and tried to settle in.  The course was shaped like an arrow with very short arms, with the first turn around mile 4 and the return to the vertical leg at mile 5.  About 3 1/2 miles in I heard a wave of applause from the runners ahead, and cheered as the leader (and eventual winner) passed by.  A minute or so later we passed another lone runner, and shortly thereafter, a larger pack that included the first two women.

I wish I could add some interesting local color of the Bronx here, but I really completely failed to take in any of the scenery.  The course was rolling enough that a lot of runners weren’t holding a steady pace, so between the crowd and the grade changes, I was primarily focused on holding my speed and not tripping myself and others.  At the halfway point I was still feeling good and not really registering the uphills too much.  I had been fighting a slight side stitch since the first mile, but I tried to stay relaxed and belly breathe as deeply as possible.

By mile 7 I definitely felt like I was working, though, and that was where the mental game really began.  My brain was making a very good case for slowing down–I had Marathon Hell Week coming up, it was hot, who was I to think I was fast enough to run 10 miles at 8:15 pace, and why did I really need to pass these people, anyway?  As all of this was running through my mind, though, I noticed that my legs seemed strangely unaffected.  I was holding pace just fine, nothing hurt, and my breath was even and controlled.  Sure, I would preferred to have the whole thing be over at that point, but it was really going perfectly well.  I repeated “Shut up and run” to myself, pulled it together, and enjoyed a few blissful minutes of brain silence.  I wasn’t in the Zone exactly, but I did feel a bit like my body was doing what it already knew how to do and I was free to experience the ride without the incessant chatter from upstairs.

It was up and down a few more small hills, and then I was in the chute before I knew it with a good crowd cheering us in.  I tried to pick off a few more people as I approached the finish line, and then it was over.  As soon as I was clear of the runners coming in behind me, I checked my watch. My average split was 8:14–right on target.  I’d like to say that I’m over the race and pace anxiety and I now fully trust my fitness and the training.  The reality is, though, I’m already worrying over my last 20-miler this weekend.  I’ll continue to work at building my confidence, and I really want to have the courage to lay it all on the line on race day, Shalane Flanagan-style.  From here on it, the gameplan is shut up and run.

*Yes, I know that 8:15’s aren’t actually fast in the grand scheme of things.

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September 17, 2014

26 and Change

Old Crotan Aqueduct Trail

 

Unlike most things in adulthood that I look forward to, this weekend actually exceeded my expectations.  Saturday the Caveboy, Long Run Buddy, and I met up at Grand Central and headed north on MetroNorth to Tarrytown.  It was a beautiful day for a trail run, and though the leaves haven’t really started to change yet, it definitely felt like fall was in the air.  Running southward, as we were, the trail is slightly down hill and it made for a perfect easy run to just put on the cruise control and enjoy the scenery.  The Old Crotan Aqueduct trail is now part of the state park system and is wooded for most of the section we ran, but there were a few clearings that overlook the Hudson as well.  After just about 8 miles we reached the northern end of Yonkers and turned off the trail at the Greystone train station on MetroNorth.  One the way back I stopped at NYRR headquarters at 89th St. and I picked up my Tune-Up race number in the hopes of buying myself a little extra time and sleep in the morning.  The race started at 7 AM at the northern end of Central Park, so a few extra minutes of sleep was a precious commodity on Sunday.  I was up at 4:30, at the park before 6:30, and still had to rush to my corral thanks to extra long lines at the porta potties.

 

My approach for the Tune-Up was to really use it as a dry run for the marathon and approximate as many conditions of race day as I could.  I planned to run at goal pace, wear my race day gear, and not to carry my own fluids and test out how I did with Gatorade.  I’ve written before about my struggle with pre-race anxiety, and I fully expected to feel the pressure to perform on Sunday in all its shaky, stomach-churning splendor.  I slept surprisingly well the night before, but I told myself that I wouldn’t try to talk myself out of any anxiety I felt before the Tune-Up, as I knew it would be there on marathon day, too.  At the starting line I did feel some jitters, but they were mostly physical and not the Plague of Doubts that I’ve struggled with in the past.  Mentally I was actually incredibly calm and clear on what needed to be done.  I would simply go run around Central Park three times at an 8:50 pace.  No drama.

 

My legs did feel a little tight and nervous for the first few miles of the race, but I figured that was to be expected and so it didn’t concern me.  The course started just before the Harlem Hills, so each loop began with a short downhill followed by the longest climb of the circuit.  I spent the first lap finding my pace, trying not to charge the hills too much, and making mental notes about where the aid stations were located.  As I passed the starting line for the second time, I really settled in and relaxed.  I figured that if I could turn in a solid second loop, even if I got tired, I could take the third lap one hill and mile at a time and just focus on holding my pace.  The amazing thing was, I wasn’t getting tired. The hills just came and went.  It wasn’t that it was effortless, it was just unencumbered by worry, second-guessing, and emotional baggage.  It was actually fun. The last lap felt no harder than the first miraculously, and I finished right on target at 8:51 pace.

 

I think the biggest factor, though, may actually have been my attitude about pre-race nerves this time.  I didn’t fight it and actually welcomed it as a training tool.  I’ve always read that the secret to beating anxiety is just to accept it will be there and do whatever you want anyway.  It’s much more easily said than done, but I think I actually did it this time.

 

~ModC
June 24, 2014

Week 2.1 Recap and Queens 10K Race Report

I made it back from Florida on Thursday night, having gotten in two 5-ish mile runs while I was there.  Friday after work I went out for another easy 5, primarily to celebrate being reunited with my running bra collection.  (It was glorious.)  We had the Queens 10K for the Five-Borough Series on Sunday, so I planned to get in a cross-training session on Saturday to wrap up the cut-back week.  As it turned out, the Caveboy decided he needed to shake his legs out a bit on Saturday morning, though, so instead I joined him for another easy 4 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

 

IMG_1877

On to the good stuff:

Race Stats:

Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Finishers: 8,410
Weather: 67F / Overcast
My Course Rating: 6.5/Perfect Day in Central Park

The Pros:

+ Flat, fastish course
+ Proximity to Queens’ amazing ethnic food
+ Baggage check was conveniently located between Registration and the starting line
+ Plenty of parking

The Cons:

– Course itself is not particularly scenic
– Tight turns on crowded paths slowed the pack down a bit
– Despite abundance of parking, getting in and out of lots was incredibly slow

Sunday morning, after a sitting in a 15-minute traffic jam to enter the parking lot, we arrived none too early at the start.  The Caveboy and I were in different corrals, and we had decided to run this one separately.  I really had no plan for this race going in, but when I don’t have a particular time goal in mind, I usually just make a bargain with myself about how much I’m willing to suffer. That gives me some threshold for what counts as a cop-out without being too results-driven.  This time I decided that I was willing to practice dealing with a bit of pain during the race, but nothing that might linger and hamper my training schedule this week.  I had forgotten to check what my 10K PR was before the race, so to kill time in the corral I looked back in my Garmin history and determined that it was 51:11.  That was an 8:15 split, so I figured I would try to hold an 8ish pace for the first few miles and see how that felt.

I loves me an Olmstead park, and Flushing Meadows seemed lovely, but unfortunately the race course stayed mostly on the perimeter.   There really wasn’t much to see, so I mostly just focused on slowly picking off runners ahead of me.  I seemed to be able to hold about an 8:05 pace pretty comfortably, so I tried to hang there and push it to 7:55 when the field opened up a bit.  The weather was about as perfect as one could hope for this time of year–high 60’s with a light breeze and overcast for most of the race.  I felt good throughout, and really only had a bit of discomfort maintaining the pace for the last mile or so, which was an out-and-back with a pretty tight lollipop turn.  I still gave some guy who tried to pass me in the chute a good sprint to the line, and finished feeling tired but not wrung out.  My official time was 49:45, which is on pace with my last half and the predicted marathon finish I’m aiming for.

This week is pretty jam-packed if I do everything on the schedule:

Monday: cross-train
Tuesday: Intervals –
1200m @ 7:13 pace
1000m @ 7:09 pace
800m @ 7:04 pace
600m @ 6:58 pace
400m @ 6:53 pace
Wednesday: 8 miles with Caveboy’s office crew
Thursday: Tempo – 1 mi easy, 5 @ 8:24, 1 easy
Friday: Strength training with Kali the Destroyer
Sunday: 17 mi @ 9:32