"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fundamental failure

I had an opportunity to run a great half marathon this morning and I blew it by not being aware of where I was less than three minutes into the race.

I took Thursday off when I came home from work feeling exhausted. I ran a solid 10 miles the next morning on the Steelers loop at 6:28 pace. Got to sleep kind of early, then up at 8 Saturday to do a Fisherman's loop. The trip to Philadelphia with Dart, then the Millers, went smoothly, as did the packet pickup and dinner. I got to bed at nine, slept well until five, and felt great when I got up and warmed up to the start. I jogged a bit with Drea, Dart and the Butcher of Damascus, then waded around in the maroon corral (who was it who kept pronouncing it "coral" last year?).

After an unexplained delay, we got started. I had a significant blockade of women in the way, so I swung out to the right to get around them, but I was somehow behind some stupid little guy with his hair sprayed to look like an eyetalian flag. I caught up to a pack of dudes and settled in, and felt nothing out of the ordinary. I saw Wager, so I inched up to him and whispered "send 'em" and we exchanged a quick five. I slide back a little, and suddenly saw the first mile mark and looked at my watch- 5:02. JESUS H. CHRIST.

I immediately dropped back, terrified of the hole I had dug for myself. But in dropping back, I was firmly putting myself in no-man's land between the fast half-marathoners and the marathoners. This wasn't a situation like the GMU 5k, I made the right move in not trying to run with them. There were just so many guys up there, I didn't think they could all be running the half- I figured the majority of guys would be running the full to run 2:18. My plan was to just sit in a pack with them and cover real estate. I literally had no idea how fast I was running inthat first mile. I thought I might be cold and stiff from standing in the corral for so long and 5:17-5:19 was that fast. So, I ran by myself for four miles. 5:17, 5:19, 5:23, 5:31. I was pretty much on my five-mile goal time, but I got there the wrong way.

The group of guys chasing sub 2:19 passed me and I maybe hung on for 30 seconds, but I was tying up already. I hit another 5:31 and a 5:25 on a long straight. A pair of guys gapped me briefly, but I reeled them in and pulled away from them on a long uphill in mile eight, which I hit in 5:43. I was alone most of nine, hit that in 5:40, and thought I had a chance to at least match my 10 mile PR (54:24) with my 10-mile split, though my original pacing plan would have been more than 90 seconds ahead. Nope. Long uphill, mostly by myself, though I saw three guys in red ahead of me. Then, running down the road, with no pothole, my left ankle gave out and I yanked the hell out of it. I came though the 10th mile in 5:54, 54:50-- my second-fastest 10 mile, but not by much, and at this point, I consider my 10 mile PR to be my second softest, after the marathon.

The 11th mile was almost all downhill, but with my ankle probably sprained, I could bear only a 5:31. I came across a 180 turn, which, for some reason, this marathon/half-marathon had. That's ok in a little community 5k, but not in a metropolitan marathon, that's just lazy and unimaginative. I saw Curt Larimer, who I figured was doing the marathon, but did the half. Baressi passed me and I quietly encouraged him, but I was toast by this point. He was running the full, and him passing me was rough--he's very talented, but I should have been well ahead of most guys running the full marathon. I tried to hang, but it wasn't happening.

I thought maybe, with an 11-mile split of 1:00:21, I could keep things together for a pair of 5:30s and at least get in under 1:12. Nope. 5:48, 6:24 with the .1, and I lost ground to a guy in red in the last half mile. As it turned out, I had a healthy (90+) second lead over him at Freedom's Run.

It was just poorly done all around. One of the 13 splits was right. One was 15 seconds fast, the others were all slow. I was disappointed, but more embarrassed that such a stupid mistake, such unbridled enthusiasm led to my downfall. I was, for a while, a cockeyed optimist, thinking I could still run sub-5:20s on my own after a 5:02, but no. I tied up more and more as the race went on, and the last three miles, after stumbling, my calves got extremely tight, and following that, my shins. When I finished the race, I couldn't jog over to watch the marathoners go by.

Scott dropped out when I saw him, cramps forcing him to confront the misery of trying to push throug 13 more miles. We walked around, got some dry clothes and watched the finish. I saw Greg Byrnes, Brandon G., Michelle M., Dart, the Burhams, Mindy S., Katie Sheedy, Sam Howard (who qualified by a few seconds), and Jeff, though apparently I missed Cavanaugh, and left 30 secondds before Ali Belicose came by. I went back to the hotel, took a hot bath, packed and met the GRC people for a few minutes before Michelle Corkum and Andy picked me up. Michelle was eyeing a trials qualifier, having run 2:48 in LA earlier this year, but a last-minute cold left her feverish, achy and miserable and she dropped out at 13. Emily Ward thinks she broke her heel, and she was out at 14. Michelle M. felt the race slip away early and was out of it. Drea PRed in the half, and Dart PRed by more than six minutes, though she wanted to be two minutes faster. No men qualified, Kevin Pool once again coming close. In the marathon, the only person I think who made it was Sam Howard-- Liz Graham's protoge.

That all goes to demonstrate two things- Philadelphia is a hard course, and qualifying for the olympic trials is hard. As it should be. It's not something you can do on a lark, as a girl I met last year seemed to think when she said she and her sister were going to do it. You need to know exactly what you'll be dealing with as the race goes on, and I am positive that means overdistance training, a 30-mile long run. That all said, Hallinan and Blood ran under 1:05 in the half, which was pretty good.
That's disappointment right there
I rode in the backseat of Michelle's car, heading to Pittsburgh, knowing I let a great fall's worth of training, along with the summer full of misery while building my base, go to waste because I didn't figure out where a half-mile marker was so I could be sure I was going out appropriately. Part of what appealed to me about the race was that the marathon and half started together and shared the course for almost 13 miles. That seemed great to me, because I could run with Karl -- he'd have a good feel for the pace, and I could keep him company, help with the pace and he'd keep me calm. When he fell ill, the first thing I should have done was ensure that I had landmarks to check my pace, because I wouldn't know who was running 5:17s otherwise. It was simple preparation, and it was just as imporatant as the long runs, the track workouts, the moderate runs and progressions. A 5:02 mile, when I wanted to be runninr 5:17s, was devastating. I sat in the car, which was way too warm, wondering if I got too excited about club nationals after Richmond and lost focus, or if my heart went out of it when I found out Karl wouldn't be running--maybe I wanted to take responsibility for helping him out so I wouldn't focus on how easy it is to give up.

To be clear, I don't think I gave up, I think given what I did in the beginning miles, dealing with wind along the Delaware River in mile three, plus the trauma I put my legs through in mile nine, I was going about as fast as I could. And, in the end, I was 16 seconds off my PR. I should be happy that considering how much went wrong in several phases of the race, that I was a little more thana second per mile off my PR, but I just can't be happy with it. I was ready for more, much more, than I accomplished today. That PR, which I set when I was sick ,running alone in a cocurse that barely had a mile of flat stretch, let alone the 6.5 this had, in the rain, was from the hard 13-mile run Steve prescribed, it was more a time trial than a race, and I picked that course over Buffalo Creek because I wanted to be sure Philly wouldn't be harder and I would run faster if all went well. Getting congratulatory messages from well-wishers was tough, because if they took the time to care, I wanted to give them something worth seeing when the looked up my results.

Madeline suggested I peaked too early. Absolutely not, I feel like my training was spot on, but I just made the dumbest mistake possible, one that I had several opportunities to prevent, and the regret I feel going forward and the missed opportunity will go a long way toward ensuring I don't do it again. It will also haunt me until I take another crack at the half, probably in Pittsburgh. It starts on Thursday with the Gutbuster. As Mike Tomlin, whose quotations I relish for his locution, said after some boneheaded playing cost a few games in 2009, I'm about to unleash hell. That second loop is toast.

The fall is by no means a failure, I ran a great, strong race on my own at Freedom's Run and fough pretty hard in Richmond. If I had a blase attitude at all toward the race because I was looking ahead to nationals, well, time to seriously focus on that. It's a chance to make up for my failings in Philly.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No lobster tonight

Jason and I drove to Richmond Friday afternoon, got our bibs (and saw the JARRINs, Benford and Nicol), dinner at Pasta and Such and made it to Emily's. We checked the forecast- it was supposed to be about 30 at 7 am, and when I unpacked I realized I had forgotten my long running pants. FACK.

I slept pretty well and got up at 5:15, and we drove down to the start. It might have been cold, but I didn't really notice. We warmed up, changed out shoes and headed to the starting line. I saw Ryan Lee, Pat Love and Paul Myer wearing the sharp new Richmond uniforms. Some dude in Vibrams tried to sneak up to the elite start, but he was appropriately shooed back. I mean, this guy's standing here, wearing little rubber toe shoes, expecting to be taken seriously...

The masses started fast, but things settled down within a minute and I moved into a nice pack with a tall VCU runner and a shorter Galen Rupp. We cruised up a slight hill heading west on Broad Street, watching the Afro-centric pack ahead of us and thankful we weren't trying to keep their pace up. We came through the mile in 4:57, though with the delayed start it was actually
4:55, and I felt pretty good. It was nice running with a pack. An African dropped off the lead pack and I pushed the pace to catch him. We got him right around two miles, crossing in 9:57. He tried to struggle and take the lead a minute or so later when we turned on Mulberry and Grace streets, but eventually he fell back again. Shortly after this turn, the tall and short guys pulled away from me slightly, along with a guy in black. I held on as much as I could, but I was losing ground.

My third mile split was 5:14, and I was not pleased with it. As the course started rolling, I put on a long surge to try to catch someone so I'd have a race on my hands at the finish. Every now and then, little Rupp would come back a little, but I couldn't close the gap. I was pleased to see my pace move back the way I wanted it with a 5:11, but I was hoping to be under 5:05. We made our turns onto Cary Street and I really made my move a little early. By the time I reached the .4 mile downhill stretch to the finish, I was kind of floating.
Spectators were cheering for Georgetown when I ran by,and it killed me not to be able to correct them, let them know I was a Spider. That compounded my frustration with the end of the race. I heard Emma Berry and Erin Lunny cheering halfway down the hill, but I wasn't kicking the way I expected and hoped to. You can see in the video both little Rupp and the guy behind me charging into the line, but I just kind of float. It's aggravating to watch. I just kind of stopped when I crossed the line, turned and watched people come in. Jason PRed by 20 seconds and Nicol was chasing him down, running 26:35.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I finished. From the four mile mark to the finish, I only ran 4:55, with a downhill like that I was expecting to be in the 4:40s. I feel I could have broken 25, and I blame it on my third mile- that's when the other guys, who did run in the 24s, got away from me. I'm not great at sprinting by myself, that's why I was pushing so hard to catch up with someone else for that last stretch. That all said, it was a 56-57 second PR, from my 2003 YMCA Turkey Trot. I can't believe it took almost eight years to break that PR, but I did it. I never slowed past 5:14, even when I was hurting, and I don't want to try to run faster than that next weekend. As fast as I ran relative to my previous PR, I wasn't exhausted at the end, and I definitely wasn't smelling lobster, my body's signal that I've pushed myself to exhaustion. I hope that means I have room to improve based on my overall training. If I smelled lobster under 25 minutes, I wouldn't be worried, but if I did at 25:18-19, then I would be a bit concerned about my chances to run fast for 13 miles. I left the race feeling pretty good, and the cold never bothered me.

We drove back to Emily's and cooled down from there, running out to Monument Avenue to watch the marathoners pass. Dave Miller looked pretty good at this point, but he was on his own. Of all people, I saw former Spider Sam Beese, then bumped into Julie Rechel, who was waiting for her roommate to run by. I jumped on the course after I ran out of grass median and joined the runners until they got to Cary, then I turned back and headed to Emily's. The weather was gorgeous, and even though I don't want to run a marathon, I think it would have been a good year to run Richmond. I couldn't stop smiling, regardless of my own race, to be in town for such a great day. I've thought this since 2009, but when it comes time to run a competitive marathon, Richmond is it for me. I love racing down here. I'm almost positive I will do the Monument Ave 10k next year, rather than the Cherry Blossom race. It will mean back-to-back weekends down there, following the Spider Relays, and I can't argue with that. I'll definitely do this 8k again.

The Spiders were at the regional meet, and it obviously didn't go as well as last year, but things are looking up.We had three freshmen in our top seven, and Ryan Lee redshirted. He had run 24:16 at the 8k, so he should be ready to go next year.
I headed over to campus to replace my hate that I left at Wiggy's in May and he apparently fed to his turtle. Then back to DC that evening.

The next morning, I was up just in time to grab my stuff and bike and get to the metro so I could watch the Veterans day 10k. I biked from
the first mile mark to the 5k, then back to the finish to watch the GRC go at it.

Around 3:30, I headed out for a longish run and did a shortened Brook. I was averaging under 6:00 pace through six miles, and I started to feel some intense abdominal pain. I slowed down a bit and jumped into the woods at mile seven to alleviate that pain, then got back to work, keeping things under 6:00 pace through 10 miles. Traffic got a little tight for a while on Old Dominion, as it always does, and I slowed a bit. I also missed the turn I wanted to make onto Mayflower and instead took Dolley Madison to where it crossed Mayflower. As I ran through the neighborhood between Westmoreland and Great Falls, I thought my timing must be off, and I must have slowed significantly, or really gotten lost. I hit the point a mile from home in 1:25 and thought I had slowed down completely. I jogged in, mapped my route, along with my intended route that was not much different, and I realized that I had mapped a 15-mile loop, not 14. Oops.
Monday evening I did a pretty sedate eight miles around Westmoreland. Tuesday I planned to do a peppy 13 miles in Annandale. Things were going pretty well, faster than 6:10 pace through six, then I hesitated and turned back when I wound up on a street that turned out to be correct, and added an extra mile to the loop. I knew I was way off and didn't a second longish run, so I stopped when I got to Grove and walked the rest of the way home after running 13.5.

Wednesday didn't go as well as I would have liked. Karl isn't running Philly anymore, so now I will have to latch onto strangers if I want to run in a pack for the half. I was looking forward to helping him pace the first half of his trials attempt -- having his goal in mind would have given me extra motivation to stay with the guys running 5:17-5:18, and it would have been fun. I still should be able to find people with whom to run who are staying loose in the first half of the marathon. I went to BCC to do my now-solitary race-pace run. I planning initially to do three miles, then when I came through the first in 5:16, decided to do 3xmile. I got in the back of the B pack when they started a mile, but didn't really feel like fighting to the front of the group and stopped after a lap. I didn't feel like running, said that to Jerry, and he said in that case I probably shouldn't be running, so I cooled down and headed home. On and off I started feeling some discomfort along the outside of my right foot. It's the first time I've felt anything like that, and though I immediately assumed the worst and decided it was a stress fracture (like I diagnosed with my right hip the days before I went to Oregon), it's probably just the hypersensitivity that comes with tapering and focus for a big race. Luckily the scheduling technicality makes this the penultimate race, decreasing a little pressure.

Philadelphia's Saturday night low is 43, a little warm, but after Chicago, I can't complain. No rain is in the forecast as of Thursday afternoon. Then again, I did fine with rain at the Freedom's Run race. As much of a breakthrough effort as that was for me, and the fun I had doing, I am looking forward to running a pretty fast course with other people this weekend. I, for one, am happy the half and full marathons use the same course for 13 miles, though I'm sure the marathon runners won't be pleased to see the half guys splitting off and heading home.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Late October, early November

I let this go for a while, so I'll hold off on most of my elaboration.

Tuesday I did another Annandale loop for 13. I didn't enjoy it as much as last time, but I didn't dislike it, either.

Wednesday's workout was 2x2k and 4x1k, which I did in 5:04, 5:00, 3:00, 2:55, 2:55 and 2:52. It was pretty damp and cool, and everyone had steam pouring off of their bodies, which added to the light fog on the track.

Thursday night I ran a Thomas for 13. The weather was still great. Friday I ran up to and around Catholic after work.

Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:45 to get a ride from Dangerous Dave up to BCC to run. I stumbled around and tried to tie my shoes, but to no avail. I was too tired to even get dressed. I told Dave to leave me, and I went back to sleep for 4.5 hours. I woke up to what Dave, Dart, Michelle, Sam and Scott ran their workout in- freezing rain. After waiting it out, I bundled up and ran a Park Plus for seven miles and was cold for hours. The rain turned to snow halfway through, but I was already soaked.

Sunday morning, I woke up to Fishstick's voice in the hallway as I lied on the floor of the unfurnished apartment above the GRC store on M Street. I slept there after going out for Halloween in Georgetown, though I just stayed at one party. Chicken neck and Murphy were outside, ready to go, so we jogged across the Key Bridge and waited for the throngs to come along. I jumped in with Breezy in the second mile and tried to keep him under control in the mid 6:00s through the nine mile mark. I headed back to the store to drop off his gloves and hat, then caught Caitlin and ran with her to the 11 mile mark. I then chilled out with Brian Quinn and his parents while we waited for Larry to come through 16 miles. I ran over to the Smithsonian building and waited until the Notorious E.L.I. came through with Emily in tow. I ran with her to the finish, then back to the store for 19 miles total. I felt a little weird when I crossed under the bridge where I sat down and dropped out last year, but didn't mention it to Lauren at the time, she had another mile to run and her calves had been cramping since 16. Both she and Breezy PRed by a minute, so I was pleased to have accompanied them on their runs.

Monday night, I took care of the track work I delayed from Saturday. I had a zipcar for the evening and drove out to McLean to pursue a 10 mile progression, starting at 6:00 and getting five seconds faster per mile. I thought about doing it on the road, the W&OD, the CCT or the towpath, but opted for the consistency and feedback I would have with splits I could check as frequently as I wanted.

I wasn't feeling terribly spry when I started, I think I had heartburn, for some reason. It was dark by the time I started, and the track was practically empty. There were two people jogging, but they were gone a little more than a mile into my workout. I knew I was a little fast on each lap, but rather than slow down I just tried to stay consistent. I wound up generally running five seconds faster per mile than I had planned. I ran six seconds per mile faster for my last three, and the way I did it pleased me. My posture and form petty much the whole time was upright and "distance run," no lean into the curve, I didn't hug the inside, I just sped up. When I got to my eight mile and I went under 5:20, I felt really good about the way the workout was turning out. To finish it off under 5:10 felt great. Although it would have been a bigger mental boost to have done this in the freezing rain Saturday morning, I'm glad I did it this way
My splits were as such: 5:54, 5:52, 5:44 5:38, 5:35, 5:30, 5:25, 5:19, 5:14, 5:09.

The next day I did an Oak loop, I think. Wednesday I started the track workout with two miles at 5:16 with Karl. We got started slow because we talked too much on the first lap, but after adjusting, we came through right on pace. Then I did 800s in 2:24, 2:23, 2:21 and 2:20. While waiting for anyone to finish the last two 800s before moving onto 400s, I did another mile at 5:16 on my own. After that, I was kind of cooled down and decided to just run easily and skip the quarters.

Thursday night I did a Scott's Run for 11.5.

Friday I ran a little bit around Capitol Hill, but with no real focus, and just kind of passed 25 minutes.

Saturday was a cross country workout at the Cell Phone Tower field in Bethesda. We did the fartlek workout in flats, and the frosted grass was a little slippery. I would fall off the pace Sam and Witters would set, but most of the time kept fighting, though my quads went numb during the two-minute segment. They're both ready to go. After it was over, I discovered that my right nipple had bled like crazy through two white shirts. It was fairly embarrassing.

Sunday I did an Irvin, with some adjustments to keep me off Maple too much on the way to Crossing Creek. I wasn't terribly engaged through all of it, averaging 6:30s.

My department had a retreat on Monday that ended early, so I was able to get home and run in the daylight, so I did 8.5 miles on the Pimmit Run trail.

Tuesday night I went out to do an easy 13 on the New Virginia Manor loop. I was a little peppy early on, but wanted to just run relaxed. I knew I was moving when I split 24:46 for my first four-mile loop, but just kept cranking it up and did the second loop in 24:12. I ended up averaging 6:14.

Wednesday I did a 30 minute progression- 10 at 6:00, 10 at 5:40, 10 at close to 5:00, and wound up averaging 5:55, 5:35 and 5:08. I might have been a little worn out from my run the night before.

Thursday I managed to get up and rung before work- a Westmoreland. Friday I did a Park Plus, also early.