Monday, November 30, 2009

Mistletoe Half Marathon race plan

So I was running with Cindy on Saturday and telling her that she should map out her half marathon on the usatf map site( ) or another that allows you to see the elevation and do it mile by mile so you can get a sense of the elevation changes. I also told her I used to write out a plan for each mile and review it each day leading up to the race so mentally I knew what was coming on each mile. I haven't done the writing it out part in a while because I've gotten better at the visualization so I now can just map out the route and save it and just go back and view it each day. I've decided that I would write out again and do it as blog post so I can go back and look at it after the race and compare the plan to what I actually did to see if/how it helped. I just noticed the Hybrid functionality will allow you to see the satellite image and street names at the same time, making the visualization even better. Note, while mapping this, the mile markers on the mapping site do not line up with the markers on the race map, but here goes...

Mile 1: Looks fairly flat, starts outside the YMCA bldg. Remember to hold back a bit and not get caught up in the adrenaline of the start. Want to do a 9:00 minute pace here to make sure I'm warmed up before getting to any bigger hills. Elevation goes up about 70 feet with a small bump at the .5 mile mark.

Mile 2: This mile is mostly uphill, about a 125 feet of elevation change up with only two small downs to recover. Looks like we will be running by some nice houses to help distract from the climb. Want to remember to not push too hard this early in the race on the hills, so a 9:15 - 9:30 would be good here.

Mile 3: Is a rolling out and back so after recovering a bit, need to get into race pace. If I can hold an 8:50 for this mile I should be able to keep that up the rest of the way, if not I need to remember to be more conservative. Remember the goal is to break 2:00 for the half and that takes a 9:08 +- a second or two so if you're not feeling it, don't push it.

Mile 4: Another rolling mile, but not a lot of elevation change. Should be able to hold a sub 9 here. Looks like a hill is starting at the end of this mile as we approach the turn onto Forest Drive. Warwick and Arbor would be a good place to drop any extra clothes so I can pick it up on the way back.

Mile 5: Oaklawn is a very long straight road for the first .75 of this mile, looks fairly flat with a false flat up, then a quick down up down over the last half mile. Might be a good place for a gel if they have a water stop somewhere on this mile.

Mile 6: Looks like we are entering Wake Forest University here. If I didn't get my gel on mile 5, definitely do it here as this mile so far appears to be the easiest of the bunch, a slight up, followed by a long gradual down. Should be on sub 9 mile pace now if feeling good, otw, stay at 9 - 9:05.

Mile 7: This appears to start off on a trail similar to the umstead fire roads before reconnecting to streets on the other side of WFU. Starts with a long climb then a short down and finally flat. Stay strong on this hill as the downhill after will allow plenty of time to recover. Do a time check here, should be less than 64 minutes, if not, time to pick it up. Also looks like we will be crossing with the leaders who will be on their way back at this point so remember to cheer them on.

Mile 8: This is an out and back on Faculty Rd. the out is gradual up, the back is gradual down. Good time to gauge how I am feeling and try an 8:40 if feeling good or if just holding on, stay with a 9 to save it for the end.

Mile 9: Heading into the meat of the university, take some time and look around to distract from the pain that will start any time now. Once again this mile starts with a hard uphill, but followed by a long gradual down, if stomach allows take a gel here, stay strong on the first part, try to pass some people if possible.

Mile 10: This is an important mile, really pay attention to how the body is feeling during this mile. It starts with a nice downhill, then ends with a long uphill. We are now back on the trail and the return trip to the start. If you see the trailing runners keep cheering them on. At the end of this mile do another time check to see what kind of 5k is needed to get your goal.

Mile 11: at the start of this mile we have a 5k to go. Anything under 1:33 minutes is good, meaning we have a 27 minute 5k to break 2 hours. If I'm feeling good, pick up the pace, if bad, just keep it steady and hang on. After the long uphill end to mile ten we have an easy downhill to recover once again. Then we leave WFU and head back into the city.

Mile 12: This mile looks nice. a couple climbs, but mostly downhill. Time to pick up the pace. Near the end of this mile keep an eye out for the sweatshirt I dropped at mile 4. If time looks tight, don't stop for it, just keep going. With two miles to go should be able to keep at least an 8:45 pace.

Mile 13: Last mile before the finish, adrenaline should be kicking in now, but don't start to sprint yet, control the pace, pick it up, but don't over do it, there is still a mile to go. This mile is mostly downhill, so an 8:30 or better is in order. That is, if the legs are feeling good still of course.

Mile 13.1: Looks like there is a little bit of a hill before the end, push up this hill, make it a goal to pass some people here then when you see the finish line give it all you got.

When I mapped it out,, it came out to 13.4 miles and the mile markers didn't quite line up with what was on the event websites map, so I'm a bit nervous about that part, but it is registered as an official half marathon on usatf site, so I'm hoping the mapping software is just off.

The McMillan running calculator, ( ) says that based on my 5k and 8k times I should be able to break 1:55, but my original goal was 2 hours so that is still my goal. I will adjust my race, before and during based on weather and race day events but since I have a 5 minute cushion I feel very confident that I will break 2 hours finally for the half marathon and should beat it by even more.

Current half marathon PR = 2:10:16, back in 2007 so I'm psyched to get yet another PR broken this year.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Trot 8k Race Results

It's just not thanksgiving until the turkey trot is run. I was a little bummed as my nephew who has beaten me every time we've done the same race was not going to make it. I was ready to kick his butt this time. I've PR'd all my short course distances this year and the legs have been feeling good. The last race we did was a 5k back in July and he beat me by only 3 seconds. I ran this same race the last 2 years and I know the course well. It's hilly and hard with a tough climb on the last mile. I had entertained the thought of breaking 40, but then remembered how hilly it was and changed my goal to 41.
First up was the 1 mile fun run. Lined up with the girl, her two cousins ( 9 and 13 ), and her grandma and grandpa. When the gun went we all took off. I was just going to use this as a warmup and since I love to run with the girl was quite happy to do it. She ended up with a 13:10 which was a 40 second PR for her for the mile. She did much better this race than the last on Halloween too. I was so proud, especially of her finishing kick :-).
After we finished, I had 15 minutes to get ready for my race. I needed to use the facilities and they were about a 1/4 mile away so I ran over, got in line, and ran back with 2 minutes to spare. I was looking for Cindy and Frank, figured they were in line already and close to the front, so I squeezed in and tried to work my way forward. Didn't get very far, but I did see Eric W. ahead and new I had a good carrot to chase.
Mile 1. 7:56 - planned to run this about 8, so right on target. I was a bit too far back at the start, so I was weaving in and out to get a better position. I kept thinking I was going to pass Cindy and Frank as I thought they must be ahead of me, but I guess they ended up behind. Felt really good at the marker but knew that 2 and 3 were the toughest miles, so eased up a bit.
Mile 2. 8:24 - This is a hard mile and I felt really good about that pace. Jordan H, passed me here, he is the son of a good friend of mine and a freshman in college, I thought he was running well as he was able to talk to me as he flew by.
Mile 3. 8:26 - I saw Eric ahead at a turn around point here and he was still about the same distance ahead, I thought I might be able to catch him on the downhill of mile 4 but this was another tough mile. I picked up a few pacers here and was able to keep a good solid pace on the hills. At this point I was trying to do math to figure out what I needed to do to get my 41 and I figured an 8 for the next mile which is mostly downhill would leave me an 8:15 on the last mile to shoot for.
Mile 4. 8:02 - right on target, I was leap frogging now with a couple people but still feeling really good, even though I just ran an 8 minute mile it was mostly downhill and I was able to recover so my confidence was high that I could make the 8:15 for the last mile.
Mile 5. 7:53 - This mile starts with a tough uphill, before rolling to the finish. At the top of the hill I caught Jordan again, he looked like I felt, said hey and he said he was going to run with me for the last mile. I said cool, but I wouldn't be able to talk as I was in extreme pain. When we were about a quarter mile left I looked at my watch and knew I had to give it all I had left to make the 41 so I left him and started passing people. I made it to the final turn and heard my coach yelling for me, and the surprised tone of seeing me this early, I told her I was going for 41 but she thought low 42's was where I would end up, then I saw the finish line clock which said 40:40 and sprinted with all I had left to cross the line at 40:59. My watch time was 40:39 so I was super psyched and ready to die all at the same time. Jordan crossed right behind me so I congratulated him on his race and set off for some water.
This was a great race for me and I'm really excited about the half marathon I have coming up on the 5th of December. I am hoping I can finally break 2 hours for the half, and then take the rest of the year off before starting all over again next year.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Born to Run

I stayed up late Wednesday night to finish the book "Born To Run" by Chris McDougal, I think that's how you spell it, because I wanted to return it to the library and because it was such a great read. If you are a runner, want to be a runner, think you can't be a runner, READ THIS BOOK. If you know someone who wants to run but always says I can't run because my knees/feet/ankles always get injured when I try. Get them to read this book. Really it's just that awesome.
It's been raining in the Raleigh area since Tuesday and I had a tough looking tempo run scheduled for Thursday. I was thinking I would have to do it on the treadmill since I didn't want to have to deal with the wind gusts up to 30 mph and rain and the flooding that always happens on my on "flat" route when we get this much rain. I ended up sleeping in until 6:15 Thursday morning and when I woke up I saw that the rain had subsided and was supposed to stay away until lunch. I decided I would just go out and run the neighborhood hills and try my best to make the times my coach said I should get. My workout was:
7 miles total-
Miles 1, 2 @ 10:00,
Mile 3 @ 9:30,
Mile 4 @ 9:00,
Mile 5, 6 @ Sub 9:00,
Mile 7- Cool down

Before heading out I went to the usatf website to remind myself of where the mile markers would be for the 5 mile loop I have mapped out. My plan was to do the loop, then do the 1 mile loop that is not as hilly for mile 6. I was most concerned about mile 5 as that features a very long hill. I was not terrible excited about this workout or running in the 48 degree windy overcast morning, but thought that if I didn't go now I wouldn't get the run in, so out the door I went.
Mile 1 starts off with a slight uphill and today it was into the wind. I was just not feeling it today and was not happy, but then I started thinking about the people that want to be able to run but can't and how they would give anything to be able to run and started to change my attitude. I remembered many times in the book how the author describes people running with a look of joy on their faces so I started to smile. I had no GPS, no Heart rate monitor, no IPod, just my clothes, shoes, and watch. Amazingly I started to feel good, I focused on keeping my form good and just ran comfortably. When I hit the mile 1 spot I was at 9:55. I thought that's odd, I've never done that mile this fast and waited until my watch hit 10 to hit the lap button.
Mile 2 starts off downhill before rolling during the middle and up at the end. At this point when the wind was really gusting I could feel some water pelting me in the face. It was cold, but I didn't care. My run was feeling so good I had to hold myself back to stay at 10 / min miles so I could save some for those last two sub 9 miles. I'm running uphill into the wind with some drizzle hitting me and I have this big smile on my face. I just had to laugh at how this must look to the people driving by me. I saw the mile 2 spot and saw I was at 9:30, this just made me smile even more. I decided to take a 15 second walk break and still had a 9:45.
Mile 3 is uphill first, then flat then down. At this point I'm feeling the runner's high big time and concentrating on my form and thinking about some of the lessons learned from the book and trying to run slow so I can get a 9:30 mile. I was still concerned about that 5th mile. The best I've ever done on this 5 mile loop is 48 something and when I did that I was dying. Other that that I've never broken the 50 minute mark. Mean while I'm about to finish mile 3 and the world is a better place. 9:04! I'm shocked, this mile felt so good, how could it be 9:04?
Mile 4 is supposed to be 9, but mile 3 was supposed to be 9:30 so I decided to switch them. This mile has a lot of downhill so I have to really concentrate on slowing down. This time it's easier because mile 5 is looming ahead. I am still feeling really good, I take time to evaluate the different spots that normally give me problems, feet good, ankles no pain, knees a little pain since I'm going downhill but I wouldn't notice if I wasn't paying attention, hips feel good. Now I am thinking about my foot strike. Keep the stride shorter and let the feet land under you and don't land on your heels after 100 of so yards of this my slight knee pain is gone again. The shoes I run in are not meant for my foot type, but they are the only shoes that I can run in and not hurt my knees. I remember in the book about a study they did with a group that wore shoes that cost over 95 dollars and another that were under 40 and found that the expensive shoe group had over a 2x injury rate. They claim that the cushioning in the high tech shoes cause you to run incorrectly by hiding the pain and if you run barefoot or in harder shoes your feet will tell you that you are running wrong and you will adjust. It's starting to make sense now, but enough of that for now here comes mile 5. Mile 4 - 9:33.
Mile 5 - I've run this mile many many times, it's part of the 5 mile loop and the 5k loop that start at my house. The first 3/4 miles of it are long steep up, short down, long gradual up, then the last 1/4 is gradual downhill. It's still cold, the rain is drizzling, the wind is gusting and the hill is rising ahead of me, but a quick reminder to myself of how the best runners in the book always smiled and enjoyed the hard parts got that smile back on my face and while the pain was there it still felt good, made the first hill and started to ease up to recover on the short down but then realized I didn't need to recover so I pushed down before starting back up again. I concentrated really hard and kept my pace up this next hill. When I made it to the downhill section I opened up the stride again and snuck a peak at my watch. I was at way ahead. This just made me smile even more and slow down a bit to save some for the last sub 9 mile, Mile 5 ended up 8:52, and my time for the 5 mile loop was under 46! And I still felt good.
Mile 6 - I've done this 1 mile loop many times as well since it's part of my day before race brick. It starts off gradual up, then a nice downhill/uphill combo before the gradual down to the finish. I've done this in the 8's before, but never after 5 miles, but now my confidence is so high with mile 5 done that I just decided to go for it. I noticed that while going uphill there was a part of my brain that was telling me I was feeling pain and I should go slower, instinctively I slowed, but then a quick check from my logical side found no pain, sure it was hard, but it didn't hurt, so back up to pace. When I got to the next and final hill I expected the pain signal, but when it came I just ignored it and half way up it went away, more eye opening and something to remember for later. Finished with that nice gradual downhill and an 8:14 mile.
I wanted to do the full 1 mile cool down, but I was already late for work and running slower I got cold faster so I called it a day at 6.5.
With my half marathon coming up on Dec 5, I only wish I can bottle up this run and take it with me for that day. I broke my GPS by swimming with it a while back and I think it was the best thing that could have happened. I am really enjoying running technology free, it makes you focus inwardly and really tune into your body. I can't say I won't ever get another GPS, but for now I'm good.

There is so much more in the book that I really didn't cover or even touch on, but I do want to say it was very eye opening and challenged a lot of what the shoe companies are trying to sell us. It also tells a really entertaining story about some great people. It inspired my run above and hopefully more to come.