Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring Forward- Race Review and Results

This past weekend, I had my first race of the year. The word 'race' is used loosely as I knew going into the event that I had absolutely no hope on winning. I was competing against myself, the clock, and last year's performance.

Here's how the day went down:
The race itself was well organized in conjunction by the awesome folks at Fleet Feet and Yellow Jacket racing. They have put on and will continue to put on high quality, low budget types of races. I like the event distance as there are not many 15k's in the area. They have a nice route and gather the nicest volunteers. Since the race was on a Sunday, the volunteers were as much as cheerleaders as there was not much work to do. I can't imagine getting out of bed at 7:00 am to hand out water to sweaty, smelly, gross guys in the cold. Yet, there where tables and lines of friendly faces yelling and screaming. I love the volunteers at such places. I fed off their energy and appreciate all the work that goes into such an event.

The race start was 8:30 am. I set the alarm for 5:15 with the intention of getting out of bed, getting in a morning beverage and eating in time to not want to yack during the run. This was pretty much what happened. I'm a bit methodical when it comes to race preparation, having made my mistakes years ago. Now, I pack the bag the night before and have everything laid out ahead of time. Experience has taught me that I'm not a good thinker in the wee hours. It has also taught me that the piece of mind that accompanies neurotic bag packing is far better than the middle of the night, 'Oh crap, I forgot to ______.' I slept easy.

Race time temperature was a blustery 37ยบ with the wind out of the WNW. There was this weird anomaly in the sky, off in the east, creating a blinding yellow light. I have patches of memory of that thing but I was struggling to recall it clearly. I had planned for cooler and made sure to wear shorts under my jogging pants. I, at the last minute, chose to drop the pants and stick with the shorts. My legs yelled at me. Not because of the temperature, just because they had not seen the outside world in months. They were uncertain how to behave in an exposed environment and snarled like vampires being exposed to the sun's (?) harmful rays.

Review of the Plan
Having set specific goals for the race, I established a race plan with the hopes of beating a 7:30 pace (under 1:10). If you want to read the entire plan, along background and extraneous information, you can do so here. If not, I applaud your laziness and took the liberty of copying the plan. Comments for each layer of the plan can be found below.
  • Thoroughly warm up. I hate warming up for distance events. I would rather use the first mile or two as a warm up. But, since this is a non-priority race, I'll probably use it as a long run day. Warm up will probably happen before 7:00 and consist of about 2-3 miles on the treadmill (of which I also hate). It should get the juices flowing and adequately clean out the system.
Status of the Plan: Failed
The Wife did not get out of bed. Since it was the weekend, it was early, and the treadmill reverberates through the bedroom, I granted her the gift of sleeping in. And since it was cold outside at 7 am and I am a pansy I think that warming up in a cold environment defeats the purpose, I hung out on the Lazy-Boy until it was time to go. I arrived on site at roughly 8:05, had to pick up my chip then off to the potty. Then, I went back to the car to hydrate, caffeinate, and sit. I emerged from the car at 8:25 and made it to the starting line with about 2 minutes to go. This meant that I had much more running to do post race to achieve long run status. It also means that my motivation to warm up (displaced as it is) has gone way down for distance events.
  • Control the first 4 miles. Given that the race starts out mostly downhill, I need to keep my HR down. I don't want to see much of Z2 until after mile 2. I don't want to see Z3 until after mile 4. Build into the process.
Status of the Plan: Failed
The hill profile meant that there was an early hill which spiked my HR. My legs don't appreciate the morning and neither does the heart. Either that or the Garmin was playing the first of its evil tricks for the day. If it was physiological or Garminological, I was being mocked. The hazing was to ensure to give me n+5 kinds of numbers for comparative perceived effort. I was well into z2 by mile 2. Zone 3 found its way into my life by mile 3 with spikes into z4 on the uphills. I may have seen z5 on multiple occasions. Not at all what I planned.
  • Keep the ego in check. Yes, I want to beat that 5'4" girl running in pigtails and pink clothes. Yes, if that 11 year old boy beats me it will be a blow to my manhood. This is not about them. Let it go. Try and pass them at mile 9, not mile 2. Passing them at mile 9 still means I win. Remember that.
Status of the Plan: Fragments of Success
I was beaten by not 1, but at least 2 girls in pink. Sadly, they were not in pigtails but were sporting nice ponies. Since I was a gentleman this morning with the Wife and her sleeping in, I decided that I would continue this behavior and "allow" these women to beat me. I am sure I could have beaten them. I 'chose' not to. They were definitely not better runners than me. I swear. And, I did not see any teenagers on the course, so I assume that I beat them. I refuse to analyze the results searching for kids' times. (Sorry, I let the ego take over the keyboard for a while. I held it in check during the race and it demanded to have some computer time.) I will admit that a pair of older runners (not sure how old, but they had ample amounts of gray in their hair), one male and one female passed me at the 9.2 mile mark. The ego flared up. I may have sworn at them. I was required to out-sprint them to the line which I did so dutifully.
  • Accept that I haven't done much speed work lately and 7:30 is lofty. The biggest success will come from building on last year's information and using that to my advantage. I will not accept walking. I will accept beating last year's time.
Status of the Plan: Acheived
In this section of the message, I had envisioned a detailed play-by-play/ mile-by-mile recap of HR, pace, hills, etc. Fun to write and even better to read. I have an auto-beep every .25 mile and an auto-lap every 1 mile. The auto-beep reminds me to look at the watch and check for HR and pace. At 7:30 per mile, I need to subtract about 8 seconds off every beep to achieve my pace goal. This happened way more often than not. I was a bit concerned about the first mile. I wanted to start off slowly. Last year, mile one was 7:12, which I deemed overboard. I was thinking that 7:40 would be appropriate and build into my race. What happened at mile one this time? 7:08. I thought I was going to implode. Still, I only remember 2 split times being higher than 7:30 (one was 7:32, the other was much slower). When the race ended, I checked my time. Under 1:10 for the race (1:09.18 on the watch). Goal time achieved! I grabbed some water and some sports drink. I reset my watch and went for an easy 5-miles to finish off my long day of running. Then I got home, excited about the effort. I connected the ANT+ device and downloaded my data. Race data- Gone. Easy 5 mile run data- available. I tried to re-download, re-upload, and was very near tossing the device out the window. Quite grumpy. No race data. No HR. No laps. No new hill profile. Nothing. My Garmin failed me.
  • Caffeinate. Modestly. I do like the jittery feel and how it hides most non-bowel related pains during the peak. Since I plan on using caffeine later in the season, I should start experimenting now on how it will serve me. It's better to get the system on line now than on the big day.
Status of Plan: Inconclusive
I have 2 versions of caffeine at my disposal. Version one is hidden inside of my morning ambrosia (homemade mocha latte). The espresso and chocolate are both caffeine donors. Since I sipped this elixir around 6:00, the jittery punch had long since receded by race time. I needed a booster shot. I have a caffeine supplement. They are little, horrible-tasting yellow pills each providing about 125 mg of good-vibrations. I take them with me when I travel to races and when I camp for training. Because I am lazy and do not wish to carry a separate container for my multivitamins, I have mixed in some MV with my yellow pills of power. Two pills+one container= efficient. Looking back, I have a sneaking suspicion that I was still sleeping around 8:10 when I popped my stimulants and may have taken 2 light-pink vitamins instead. With the sun's glare, everything looked the same to me. I have no recollection of any of the usual side-effects of being heavily caffeinated. This may provide evidence that I don't need them. But, again, I have no idea if it had actually happened.

In Conclusion
I achieved all of my goals for the day. Sub 7:30 pace- achieved. Sub 1:10 race time- achieved. No near-death experiences- achieved. Despite the condition of the race plan, the morning was an overall success. I did not hit the wall at any time and I felt adequately prepared. I might just be a sucky planner. It was a good day and I will probably include this event on my next year's schedule.

This race just goes to prove that I am not much of a runner in terms of adult, amateur, recreational athletics. The guy who won the race (I did check his age just to ensure he was not the prophesised teenager) beat me by more than 20 minutes. WOW. I can even imagine going 20 minutes faster even if the entire race was downhill. I did not place in my age group. I 'allowed' several woman to outrun me. Out of 550+ people, I just barely broke the top 100. Still not bad. Also, not great. I, comparatively speaking, am a much better triathlete than raw runner. I have great respect for the guys and gals out there who can excel at these races. Come on summer, or spring for that matter. I want the water to warm up and start the swim-bike equalizer which transforms my race results from average to awesome.

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