Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Irishman Race Report

The Irishman, 3 races, 1 day.  Sioux Falls doesn't have too many competitive road races so you don't want to miss them when they come along.  The St Patty's Day Mile and the associated Irishman didn't disappoint.  I went over to the All Sport Central offices at noon on Thursday to pick up packets for the race team and running club.  It took me about a half hour to get through the line that was about 5 people long.  Not a good start for the event from an organizational standpoint.  The next day, the day before the race, they sent out and email telling us of course changes.  Major course changes.  The Start/Finish would be the same but otherwise the 5 mile and 5k would be entirely different.

Race day began with a bang, literally, and the 5 mile field was off to little fanfare.  Early on, in the first 3 blocks, it became evident that this was going to be a 3 person race between myself, Dan Allen, and fellow 605 race team member, Chris Gruenhagen.  Dan was questioning me about my fitness early on and I didn't know exactly what to tell him.  I did run 127 and 134 miles to close out February but little Cleo Susannah was born on March 2nd and my running had gone down a but since then.  I also haven't found the motivation to do many workouts besides attacking a few Strava segments per week.  I did perform a solid tempo run leading up to the race where Strava informed me that I ran a 5k in 15:46 so I was fit enough.  After about a half mile, I knew that I could handle a boost in pace and started to push.  That's how it was for the next 4.5 miles, push. There were enough confusing points in the course and sharp turns that I felt like I was always trying to regain my momentum.  The lead bike was way too far ahead of me and the teenage volunteers on their cell phones out on the course didn't help matters either.  I felt like I ran an even pace for the whole race but it's hard to tell with no mile markers of any kind.  I finished the race in 25:44, about 35 seconds in front of Dan and more in front of Chris.  After watching family and friends finish up, it was time for a cool down.

I ate 1/3rds of a banana and drank water between races.  I don't know if I didn't have enough or what my deal was but I was nauseous on the 5k start line.  After the 5 mile, I knew that I would have a good chance to pick up another win.  The race was largely the same with a few of us out front together for a little bit then me pushing it and creating a gap at about the same point.  The courses were identical for nearly a mile.  The rest of the race unfolded pretty similar to the 5 mile.  Speeding up after bad turns and pushing, just at a slightly faster pace.  I finished in 15:38, 10 seconds off the course record.  Chris turned the tables on Dan and they would be only one second apart heading into the final race.

The time between the 5 mile and 5k was about 2 hours and the time between the latter and the mile was a full 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Again, I didn't eat much and I was feeling nauseous once more.  I was hoping to puke during the race to create a spectacle, and relieve myself.  The whole wait time between the races really dragged on.  There was little motivation for me to run this last race hard.  I had the Irishman all but locked up while there was little chance that I would be in contention for the win in the mile.  605 Race Team member, and brother in law, Benny was the heavy favorite.  He was fresh as was 605 store owner Logan.  The race played out in an interesting fashion.  Nobody took it out very hard and as soon as I found my legs, I very nearly took the lead by accident.  Soon after, Logan took the lead around 14th Street and began the long push for home.  Benny, Marty Wennblom (mile record holder), and former 1:52 800 runner Lee Irvine followed closely.  I was content to lead the next pack with Dan and wait to see what was going to happen.  Having not eaten all day and having run two longer races earlier, my body was in shock.  It was simply not happy about running again, much less about running that fast.  The race out front fizzled out as quickly as it began with Benny taking a 9 second win over Logan.  Dan kicked his way into 3rd, just ahead of Marty and I took down Lee in the last few blocks for a respectable 5th place.  By every indication, the race course was long and ASC messed up timing adding 4-5 seconds onto everyone's time.  I ran 5:09 and 5:02 pace for the first two races and only managed a 4:57 according to the official results.  My watch had 4:52 and many GPS watches had this straight race course at 1.05 or longer.  Besides the course length, the race was fun and I was happy to come away with the 2nd fastest Irishman in race history.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Beresford Frostbite 4 Race Report

Since January is done, I thought that I better give a quick recap of my running and racing for the month with the highlight of this post being the Beresford Frostbite 4.  I ended the month with 431 miles!  I think this is my biggest month ever, I need to look at some old logs from the fall of 2011 to make sure.

I raced 3 times this month, pretty good for January.  My first race was a free 10k put on by the City of Sioux Falls.  It was 0 degrees at the start so the turnout wasn't huge or too fast.  I ran down to the park and then waited around too long before the race got started.  I was off by myself immediately and ran a comfortable 38" 10k.  Two big weeks of training later, I found myself on the starting line of the SDSU Alumni Mile.  I was feeling over confident in my abilities and that showed in my first lap time. I went through 409 meters in 64 seconds!  I was passed by Chris and Benny around the 1000 meter mark and gave up on the race.  I should have held on better and ran a faster time but I just preserved my third place.  I will be back on the track sometime soon to make up for my poor tactics.

My final race of the month came on the last day of the month.  It was a fairly nice day for January in the mid-20s for a temperature.  It was pretty windy out but due to the nature of the race, it was just a crosswind during the race. The race started out with 4 of us who knew each other.  We all were somewhat healthy but all had a little injury or illness baggage as well.  This resulted in a very slow early pace.  We ran the first mile in nearly 5:35.  Soon after, Jeremy VanVeen decided that he was to be the "sacrificial lamb" and up the pace. I ran about 5:10 for my second mile and he probably ran about 5:00.  Alex and Michael were behind me by a few seconds.  The gaps between us would grow as I maintained the same pace for the 3rd mile.  That one seemed like it took forever and included a few small inclines.  Overall the course was very flat and fast but the third mile was probably the slowest.  I was still feeling ok at 3 so I decided to push it to at least maintain my 2nd place.  I didn't think that I would catch Jeremy but you never know.  I ran 4:56 for my last mile.

The overall feel of this race was more of a cutdown tempo than of a race itself.  There were no big moves or sprint finishes.  I ran a long warm up and cool down and logged 30 miles in the 2 days before the race.  I don't remember there being much pain except a few of my fingers were numb in the early parts of the race.  I think I'll only race once during February.  It will be a indoor track 5k on the 13th at SDSU.  I'm trying to not be too optimistic but I think I can run near my collegiate times.  I'm going to run a conservative race so we will see how it goes.

Monday, January 19, 2015

2015 is Here!

2014 was a poor year of racing for me both in the quantity and quality of my performances.  They started to come around at the end of the year and I am carrying that momentum into the New Year.  I am planning on racing as much as possible at a variety of distances.  I am running the SDSU Alumni 1 Mile race at their invitational this weekend.  I have never been fast at this distance and surprisingly, I am hoping to run my best time at the distance.  My current best time at the full mile distance (as opposed to a converted 1500 or 1600) is only 4:33.  I plan to set a good pace through 1000m to ensure a fast time.  Hopefully my speed endurance holds out and allows me to run at least 4:33.  After this weekend, I am going to truly begin training for the ultramarathon distance.  I plan to run the Lean Horse 50 in August.  I am going to incorporate some higher intensity work as well so I can run more road and track races in the meantime.

2015 is also the second year in a row that I have set the goal to average 10 miles per day for the entire year.  Last year was pretty bad.  I haven't tallied up my yearly totals but I would guess that I ran about 2000 miles.  Since Danielle and I are expecting very soon, I am in "Money in da Bank" mode.  I am stockpiling as many miles as possible right now so that I can take some days easier or off later.

In the last part of this first blog post of 2015, I want to reflect upon a few running lessons that I have learned in the last few months.  Despite having run for a long time, I seemingly had no idea what my body actually needed to run fast and stay healthy.  While looking at my collegiate results and mileage, you can tell that it is very sporadic.  I would run 100 miles a week for a few weeks then be down to 50 then back up to 90.  My performances too, were all over the place.  Sometimes I would have a great race but I had some bad ones too.  Most of them were consistently below what I thought that I could have and should have been doing.  When I finished college in 2012, I wasn't sure what was out there for me as far as racing.  I had done a lot of miles in high school and college and improved slowly.  I thought that I may have peaked and wasn't going to see much more for improvement.  In the last few months, I have found a few sources of motivation that lead me to believe that I have more in me

First, I have truly found meaning in rest and taking easy days easy.  In college and high school, I ran fast every day.  When you are fit, there isn't too big of a difference, aerobically, between 6:30 and 8:00 minute pace.  The real difference is allowing your muscles the time to heal and grow stronger.  Now, I spend a lot of my running time at paces around 8:00 or even slower.  I also run trails as often as possible and that slows me down while providing stimulus in different ways.  Hills, turns, snow, uneven terrain do a lot to slow you down but have a ton of benefits too.  I have found that for me, rest applies more to effort than to volume.  I can run 100 miles per week over and over as long as the effort is something that I can manage and recover from.  Now, with freedom of schedule and no consistent running partners to pound into the ground, I can apply more intensity as needed but not too much.

Next, I am learning the value of healthy eating and body weight.  In college, my weight varied from 154-177 lbs.  Even on the lower end of that, I didn't feel like I was as lean as most of my teammates or competitors.  Right now, I am at 157 and feel that I have at least 7 lbs to lose to get to an ideal racing weight.  150 is still plenty heavy for a 5'10" distance runner.  In order to reach this weight, I need to be able to train consistently.  So far that has been easier to do with less hard efforts and more freedom to do what I need to do on a daily basis.  The other thing that I need to do is eat less sweets.  Ice cream to candy to gatorade, it all adds up.  I could also do without the frozen pizzas and cereal.  Eating healthy should be easier for me now than it has ever before.

Finally, I have found the right workload for me to succeed.  First, I need to trust the long run.  In college, it was too easy to cut it short after a long bus ride the day before or after a night of drinking with friends.  Now, I make sure that whatever I do the day before, I am out there for a long time.  Time is more important than mileage and I always try to get on some softer surfaces for these runs.  My other key workout is hill training. Doing this on treadmills is especially good for getting my heart rate up while keeping my legs healthy and fresh.  Consistent high mileage with just a few hard efforts is going to propel me to success in 2015.