Smooth Sailing

I’ve had an inkling of this thought a few times this week so I thought I’d spend some time fleshing it out.

I’m starting to actually feel like a runner again. I’m finally hitting some pretty decent mileage this week and feeling good while doing it. I’m not waking up every morning feeling like I ran into a wall out of fatigue from the previous day’s run. Even in this odd March heat we’ve been having I’ve been putting some good (longer) runs in.

I’m planning on racing tomorrow and I’m pretty excited for that. I’m going to hit over 40 miles this week (probably more like 45) for the first time probably since high school. I’m building my mileage base for this summer’s plans. Things are going well!

I know the ‘hit a wall’ feeling will come back once I’ve actually upped my milage to 60 or 70+ MPW but all in good time. Also I know my average mile pace for training runs could be up and that’s something to focus on soon too. For now I’m just gonna enjoy the fact that I’m feeling great about my running. This is definitely good motivation to keep my training going and not let it fizzle out like in the past.

Race Report: Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5k 2012

This morning was the Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5k hosted by Running Fit. It was really a fun morning and they did a great job hosting this race. This really was a big event – I heard estimates that about 3000 people participated. (UPDATE: There were 2113 finishers) The final results haven’t been posted yet for me to get an actual count but I’ll update this post when they are (This also means I don’t have my official time yet but I’ve got my watch time).

Before the race I met up with some friends from the Running Fit Monday run group. We hung around the race area a bit afterwards as there was a lot going on and it got really nice outside after the race. The weather today is beautiful and I almost want to go for another run!

I have mixed feeling about the actual race but this is more an indication that my training is lacking than anything else. My goal was to go under 20 mins today and I think that was within reach. It didn’t quite happen but I am showing progress in terms of average pace from the last 2 races.  You gotta focus on the positives, right?

I mostly succeeded in going out at the right pace. The first mile was a loop around downtown and then sent us down Main St. My first mile was 6:17 which I was pleased with at the time. The second mile really hit me hard it seems. We continued out on Main and turned around right at Stadium and came back down Main. There are a few rolling hills on this portion and I started slowing way down. My second mile was right at 7 flat and now I wish I would have done more to push harder but I know that during the race I was doing all I could to stick with the pack I was in. The last mile I was able to pull it together again get back into the race. This part brought us the rest of the way back down Main and for a set of loops around downtown to the finish. There was a hill immediately before the finish that I got destroyed by – but otherwise this last stretch was good. For the third mile I had a time of 6:19 and the last tenth I ran 0:43 (like I said, hill destroyed me). This got me a finishing time of 20:20. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but it IS an improvement from the past few months…

I really need to figure out what happened during that middle mile. If I could have held on a little better in the middle of this race then my goal time could have actually been met since I was able to actually have pretty consistent 1st and 3rd mile splits. I didn’t do any speedwork this week since I was already upping my mileage (I hit 40 miles this week) and I’ve already been worried about injury so I didn’t push it.

As I said after last race, I think mile repeats are going to be essential for me to smooth out the difference between these splits. I just need to find a good day to do them. I’m thinking that Tuesdays are going to be the day. This would be right between a probable long mileage day on Monday with the Running Fit group and the Wednesday A2Runners group that is generally an easy short run that could be good for recovery.

Overall, this was a great day and I will definitely be racing this again! There was lots of fun to be had and the course was pretty nice – except for the hill/turn right at the finish.

Update:Results are posted.

2012 Spring Running Plan

Yesterday I [grudgingly] took a day off of running. After waking up this morning I’m not sure that it really made a difference but we shall see tonight when I run. This was the first day I took off in the month and a half+ since I began training again. The hope is that I’ll be fresh enough this week to up my mileage after having 2 weeks of slow, bad runs and feeling on the edge of injury.

I have a number of goals for the coming few months which I have sort of referred to previously. This is my attempt at formalizing these goals and outlining roughly how I plan to get there.

In the immediate term (meaning the next 2-3 months) there are a number of races I’d like to  do and a certain level of training I’d like to be at by the end of this time. I don’t think any of the following is too unreasonable but I am definitely open to suggestions.

This week I plan on increasing my weekly mileage to 40 miles a week. Three weeks ago I hit 38 miles (maybe earlier than I planned on) and the previous two weeks have been 33 and most recently 29 miles. 40 miles, while not nearly what I hope to top out at, is a good place to maintain training as I get back into racing and more frequently do workouts. Additionally I plan on racing the Shamrocks and Shenanigans 5k this Sunday.

Where am I going with all of this?

Essentially, there are a number of races I’d like to be in between now and the end of April and I’d also like to begin increasing my milage again around the end of April. It is my thinking that while 40 miles isn’t *that* much, it should be enough to have a solid running base in me and begin my journey into regaining some real speed.

I’ve said before that my two big running goals currently are running a sub-17 min 5k and just racing a full marathon. My target marathon is the first ever Ann Arbor Marathon in the middle of June. In order to reach both of these goals I need to increase training volume by June and increase intensity so I can build speed.

I think that it is doable (by no means optimal) to race this marathon in June if I am able to increase my mileage to 50 mpw by the end of April and maybe even hit 60 before June. I’ll be spending my time between now and the end of April focusing on doing more workouts and definitely more races (almost one every 2 weeks between now and then):

  • Already mentioned Shamrocks and Shenanigans this weekend (5k)
  • Potentially Pantanal in the Arb III March 25th (or another race around that time) (5k)
  • Meteor 10k at the Martian Festival of Races April 14th (beginning to race higher distances in preparation for the marathon)
  • Maybe another race between the 25th and April 14th…

After that time I think I’ll plan just 1, maybe 2, races in May and then focus entirely on the two big races I have planned in June. I’ll be focusing on increasing my training volume from 40 mpw to maybe 60 by the first weeks of June before the Marathon.

I’ll be racing the Dexter-Ann Arbor Half-Marathon (I ran the 5k last year). I see this as a chance to see where I’m at two weeks before the Marathon. It will be my first half and should be a good gauge for my marathon training. I don’t really plan on racing it all out but I will say that I’m hoping for somewhere in 1:30 – 1:35 by that time. After this race I’ll be just holding steady until racing my first marathon just a few weeks later. The main goal is to finish but the competitive part of me also wants to do well. I’m thinking that maybe a target of around 3:30 is reasonable, but we shall see. If I can do better than that, great – otherwise I’ll just focus on finishing. I’m really looking forward to this. I don’t really plan on focusing on marathons after this, it’s just a goal to see how far I can push myself. Maybe I’ll try and qualify for Boston one day but I’m not too concerned about it.

Assuming I can get through all of this without any major issues and no injuries (something I’m being very cautious about), I’ll have completed one of my two big running goals! How will I complete the other? Well, I won’t plan specifics now but in general I’ll spend the rest of June recovering and building mileage back to whatever I was at before the marathon and will hopefully be racing again around the end of June.

I’ll reevaluate when the time comes and decide on a more concrete and specific training and race schedule after what I’ve just outlined. I plan on topping out at 70 miles a week and hopefully with that and some intense speed work I’ll be putting up some fast 5k times once again by this fall!

Now back to the daily training!

Race Report: Leap Year 4 Miler

Yesterday I ran the leap year 4 miler. It was in Willow Metro Park and was different from many of the races that I have run in that it was in the evening. The park had no streetlights on the course and it was quite foggy so it was actually somewhat difficult to see towards the end of the race but overall it was quite fun. The course was extremely flat (fast!) and the little bit of rain didn’t really bug me all that much.

My goal was to run under 27 minutes, which I was able to do. My splits were quite embarrassing though – just really inconsistent. I was looking for about 6:30-6:40 pace during the race but that really isn’t what happened. I went out feeling pretty good and thought I was right on pace; It turned out I ran a 6:08 for the first mile which was really quite surprising for how little I thought I was exerting myself and the shape I consider myself in. It turned out that was not sustainable at all though. I tried slowing down a bit but that mile caught up with me quickly.

The next two miles were 6:55 and 7:15 and were quite tough to keep the pace up. There was also a bit of rain but that actually felt kind of good. There was a turn around right before the 3 mile marker and that is where I decided to really start pushing again. I was able to hold a really good pace without feeling like I was about to fall apart for that entire mile. I even had a decent kick at the end which means I probably had more in me for the middle two miles – I just couldn’t find it.

I finished the last mile in 6:34 for a finishing time of 26:51. Overall sometime I’m happy with because I beat my goal. I do think that if I had been a bit more even in my splits that it could have been even better but it is no use worrying about that now. Full results for the race are here.

Some takeaways from this race:

  • I ran a faster 5k time than in the middle of this race than I did at the Super 5k earlier in the month
  •  My first mile of 6:08 tells me I’m getting some speed back but I know that progress will be slow
  • I need to work on pacing my miles a bit better. This is something I already knew that I used to have trouble with and something I continue to work on.

In order to help me keep a more steady pace as I train for some upcoming races I plan on doing more mile repeat workouts. I know in the past they’ve really helped my pacing and improve my speed over the course of a race.