Thursday, July 23, 2009

Double Trouble on My Birthday

I turned 42 on Tuesday. While this does not propel me into a new age group, it does mean my current 5k PR equates to an age-graded percentage of 86.82% rather than 86.16%. This means I gain a few more points in the local age-graded series for my upcoming races without having to run any faster. It’s the little things that make runners happy and keep us from obsessing about the fact that we’re getting older and (eventually) slower.

I had a double workout planned for the big day with 12 in the morning and 4 in the evening. I actually got up early enough to get the longer run in while it was still relatively cool out. The 12-mile workout included:

  • a warm up;
  • 20 minute progression run from “high moderate” effort to 10k effort, increasing effort every 5 minutes;
  • full recovery;
  • 15 x 60 seconds on @ 3k effort with 60 seconds jog recovery between.

I started the progression run after a 3-mile warm up and immediately fell into 6:50 pace for my “high moderate” effort. My moderate pace is supposed to be between 7:00-8:30, so I was a little fast but it felt really easy. The next two 5-minute segments were at 6:31 and 6:09 with a final 5 minutes at 5:54 pace. I was tired at the end, but jogged around for about 5 minutes before starting the 3k effort repeats. I ran these progressively faster as well and averaged 5:30 pace for the lot. This was a fun workout and I finally started to feel the increased fitness from the last few weeks’ workouts.

This is one of my favorite things to experience in training. You feel like you’re absolutely killing yourself for weeks. You’re tired. Your brain doesn’t seem to be functioning very well. You are sweaty and stinky all the time. Your legs feel dead. You are downright cranky. Then, you scrape just a little bit of mileage and intensity off the top, and you can actually feel the fitness improvement throughout your body during your workouts. You are suddenly able to leap tall buildings and run faster than you thought possible. This feeling is a good reminder that you need to work hard, but you must take a break (relatively speaking) to let your body absorb that training.

I decided to spend my evening 4-mile run with my fiancée, Tready Roosevelt, in the gym. As you may recall, I became engaged to the treadmill after my great treadmill workout last week. Our lovely 4-mile run included 8 strides and 5 minutes at half marathon effort, which penciled out to 6:11 pace at 1% grade for the evening. I kissed Tready goodbye and went home to enjoy a quiet evening with my vicious animals.

So, I get a little bit of a taper before this Sunday’s half marathon in San Francisco with only 75 miles scheduled for this week. I’ve not run this race before, so I am excited to experience it. I know that it will be hilly (though the elevation charts on the website mask that), but not as hilly as the recent half I did in Seattle. I am trying to formulate my three goals for this race and think I’m going to shoot for:

  1. Safe goal: run faster than I did at the Seattle half (<1:22:34).
  2. Reasonable goal: run the last 10 miles in 1:02 (6:10 pace). The first 3-4 miles are mostly uphill, so I will do what I can in those miles.
  3. If stars align goal: Set a PR. This would be <1:19:46.

The “stars align” goal was my reason for initially wanting to run this race. At the beginning of this cycle, my coach reminded me that, when I set my current PR, I was at a perfect place in my training to do so which was approximately 5 weeks out from Belgrade. I am currently 10 weeks out from the Twin Cities Marathon, so my recent training has not been specific to the longer distances. I decided then to lower my expectations for the SF half and adopt a goal to run the Buffalo Stampede 10-miler in less than an hour in September. I still believe I will run a fast half marathon this weekend, but I won’t feel disappointed if it’s not a PR.

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