Sunday, October 19, 2014
I can never cram everything into one blog. Today's blog is a collection of things that didn't make it into yesterday's race report, a few comments triggered by replies to yesterday's blog, and a bit about how today went. Some of this will be old news to experienced runners, but I'm given to understand that several people who don't have much running experience read my blogs.
I said in advance that the race course was flat. It turned out not to be as flat as I had thought. There wasn't anything that could properly be called a hill, but it did go down from the start to the lake shore, and back up to the finish. The inclines weren't steep, but this made the second half of the race a bit more effort than the first half.
The most noticeable inclines were on the two overpasses over the Lake Ontario State Parkway. I don't think the up and down from those showed up on the elevation chart I saw in advance, and they probably didn't make it into the Garmin report that draws elevation from map location for my equipment.
I expected to see Long Pond, Cranberry Pond, and Lake Ontario. I never saw Long Pond, as there was too much between the race course and that one. I ran on something like a barrier island between Cranberry Pond and Lake Ontario, but there were residential houses between me and the lake. I saw glimpses of a brooding gray lake, but to get a good view I would have had to stop running and perhaps move across the stree to get a better look between houses. Wasn't going to happen during a race. But I did have a great view of Cranberry pond, with just a few feet of bank and a guard rail between me and the pond.
I can't complain. While it wasn't as scenic as I expected, it was still a very nice looking course.
In-race nutrition: Doctrine is to take something after 45 minutes. I had been following doctrine on long runs and in prior races, and couldn't really tell whether it made a difference . . . until a week before this race. On a 10 mile paced run, I forgot to take my GU at 45 minutes. I was feeling it 1:10 into the run, and took one then. And I felt better.
Doctrine is also to use the long runs to experiment with strategies, and don't do anything new and unknown during a race. Well . . . during the 15K, I got that feeling like at 1:10 the previous week. Except I got it a bit past mile 5, at 36 minutes. So I took my GU early, at 36 minutes. Same results as on the long run, I felt better and finished the race. Score one point for listening to the body instead of following a rote strategy.
Post-race nutrition: After most races, I grab a banana and half a bagel. If there is yogurt, I grab some of that. Finish Strong did not have bananas, or bagels, or yogurt. It had a buffet. I had some pulled chicken with barbecue sauce, some chicken nuggets, some ziti with red sauce and parmesan cheese, and a small slice of pepperoni pizza. I didn't pull out the iPhone to track it, but I tracked it when I got home. I was figuring on being over calorie limit for the day, and not worrying about it in light of having run 9.3 miles pretty hard.
Got home, and the calorie estimate wasn't as high as I had expected. Had my usual salad for lunch, but skipped the additional BBQ chicken wrap that I might add. Adjusted my snack to recognize what went before, and by some magic I don't understand, came in needing to eat a few extra calories in the evening to hit the minimum of my range. Granted, I have a range that looks unrealistically high to a 120 pound female; but still, I put a big dent in it with that post-race buffet.
Such is maintenance. Although common wisdom is that a runner can eat anything he wants, I know that this doesn't mean I can eat *everything* I might want. And I took a lot less from that buffet than I would have, pre-Spark. Then again, pre-Spark I wasn't able to run 9 miles.
SPINNINGJW asked if I have a bling wall like ONEKIDSMOM does. No, I don't. Trophy-type bling is sitting in a hutch, and medals are hanging from the hutch door handles. There are enough of them that this isn't terribly artistic or attractive. I think I want something to better display the bling, even if I have to pick which bling to display; but I don't really know exactly what I want. I'm passively looking for something, and if I see something that looks good I'll buy it on sight.
A few comments mentioned that I was fast. I'm aware that I'm fast for my age. But this does have to be put into perspective. Something every runner below world class needs to remember is: There is always someone faster. There is always someone slower. And no matter what pace you run, you are lapping the people who stay on the couch.
Someone faster: The winner of the 15K was Kip Tisia, with a time of 49:46. That's an average pace of 5:21 per mile. I could not hold that pace for a mile, and there is some doubt that I could achieve it even for a sprint.
Someone slower: There were five men in the 70+ age group. The slowest of them was also the oldest, finishing in 1:46:36, for an average pace of 11:28 per mile . . . at age 81. And he wasn't in last place overall. The man finishing 86th of 86 was 66 years old, and won his age group.
Another classic runner's saying: Dead Last Finish beats Did Not Finish, which beats Did Not Start.
On winning the age group: Part of this is picking your race, and part is who shows up. Rochester has a fairly large and very active running community. A guy I work with says the secret to being competitive in the age group is to watch the races. He recommends identifying the Runner of the Year races, then running somewhere else on the same date as a ROY race.
I had kind of chuckled at that strategy, until I saw the Finish Strong 5K results. If I had accepted the 5K registration as a fait accompli instead of getting it fixed, I likely would have finished as 3rd Overall Male in the 5K. Both my time last year and my first 5K split in yesterday's 15K were faster than the 3rd Overall Male in the 5K, who was actually 5th overall total because two women finished ahead of him.
It seems the serious runners all went for the 15K. Perhaps that makes me a serious runner; I prefer my result in the 15K to an overall finish in a weak 5K.
The day after: Doctrine is to do an easy 3 recovery run. I am faster than the average recreational runner. I figure my easy 4 is comparable to an easy 3 for the average runner. But I couldn't let it go at that. I set out to run a recovery 5 miles.
Temperature was 45° F, 7° cooler than race time yesterday. There was more wind, about 12 mph; but there was no precipitation. It looked like I could get some spots of sunshine, but the sun managed to stay behind clouds. And of course, I would be running slower than during the race. The combination of these factors was enough to put me into light tights, a heavier long sleeve tech shirt, and light gloves. This turned out to be perfect for today's run.
The plan was to start out ridiculously slow, then let the speed build naturally but not let it get faster than an 8 minute mile. Amazingly enough, the plan worked. I started out feeling the need to take it easy, and the pace was slower than 9 minutes per mile. Of course, that wouldn't last.
I ended up running 5.18 miles in 43:59, for an average pace of 8:30 per mile, slower than most of my solo easy runs. Mile splits were 8:58, 8:44, 8:25, 8:13, and 8:10, with an 8:25 pace for the last 0.18 miles. I hardly sweated at all, and had to remind myself to stretch because it didn't feel like I did any work. But this was just what I needed today. Tomorrow will be a non-running day, and Tuesday I'll be back on a normal running schedule with either a hill workout or some trail running.
And now I've run out of things to ramble about, so it must be time to wind down for the night.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
The weather forecast was accurate. I drove through varying amounts of rain to get to the course, and it was 52° F with a light shower at gun time. Some of the less experienced runners doing the 5K opined that the weather could be better; the more experienced runners agreed with my statement that there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.
As predicted, appropriate clothing to run in this weather was running shorts and a tech tee shirt. I was comfortable as long as I was running.
Went to sign in, and they had me registered for the 5K. Oops. My confirmation said 5K, and I didn't notice that until sign in. I probably clicked the wrong button when signing up. But this turned out to be easy to fix. The race director took my name, age, and bib number and put me into the 15K.
It was a smaller race than I had expected. Shortly before the gun, the race director said there were 120 in the 15K. I didn't hear a participation number for the 5K, but when the results hit the internet they said 86 finished the 15K and 129 finished the 5K.
The race size being what it was, there was no timing mat at the start. We would only get gun time, not individual chip time. I lined up two steps back from the starting line, so my gun time should match what chip time would have been.
It was a bit different running in a longer race that is this small. Sorting out who runs where at the start was not as cumbersome as it is in a more crowded race. It was pretty much sorted out in the first quarter mile or so. I had to remind myself to let the younger runners pull ahead. I could keep up with their 15K pace for a mile, maybe; but doing so would not be good for my race.
Along about a half mile, I caught up with one of the faster starters. I told him I thought I went out too fast. He thought he did, too. Average pace at that point was 6:23 per my Garmin, faster than I can sustain over 15K. I backed off. He backed off further. I looked at the clump of fast starters, and thought I wouldn't be passing any of them.
By mile 2, the clump of fast starters was out of my view. It began to look like a solo training run. That is a bit of a mental challenge, for a race. I played my mind games and kept my pace up. Later, on long straight stretches, I could see two runners who had fallen back from the fast start clump; but I lost view of them on parts of the course that had more frequent turns.
I made it a point to thank all the road marshalls. Without them, I would not have found all the correct turns.
The light shower tapered off to a few drops. Then from about 3.5 to 4.5 miles as I ran between Cranberry Pond and Lake Ontario, there was a noticeable wind carrying more rain or spray off Cranberry Pond. After the race, another runner mentioned that as difficult; I was plenty warm enough from the pace I was keeping. Once I got past Cranberry Pond, there wasn't any precipitation in the air.
I didn't pass any other 15 K runners. I gained some ground on a runner who had fallen back from the fast start clump, but never came close to him. At around 5.6 miles, a girl passed me; she turned out to finish as second female overall. At around 7.3 miles, she passed the next guy ahead of me that I couldn't catch.
A bit before 8 miles we rejoined the 5K route, and I was passing the slower 5K participants for the rest of the course. (The 5K started 30 minutes later than the 15K.) Got to the finish line, stopped my watch, and saw my unofficial time of 1:04:33. The official time turned out to be 1:04:32. That's as close as I've come to matching official time in a race.
The view from the Garmin:
As I stopped the watch, it told me I had achieved a new maximum heart rate, 197. I did not regard that as good news, and looked at the heart rate chart. It showed a typical pattern that means I didn't warm up well enough before the race:
There's no help for that. I ran a half mile to warm up, plus ran easy everywhere I needed to go because of the temperature; but we had to stand around for quite a while before the gun. At least the heart rate stabilized around 150 for most of the race. That's higher than I usually see, but I was running faster than I usually do, as evidenced by the splits:
My time of 1:04:32 was faster than the 15K I ran in March, and thus a PR. On the one hand, I don't think I'm as well trained physically now as I was then. On the other hand, the course was easier and I'm more experienced in managing a race than I was then. In any event, it was good enough for a medal in an event that doesn't give medals to all finishers:
The best news is, the limit on how fast I was running was my cardiovascular system. I had to manage the race to have the endurance to finish. My feet did not complain about the pace I was holding. My right calf muttered a bit late in the race, but I gave it a bit of extra stretching afterwards and it's quiet now.
I am pleased with today's 15K. I was able to run it as a race, and I should be able to run an easy 4 tomorrow. I expect by Tuesday I will be back into my regular running schedule.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Yesterday I got an email pointing at a featured board post titled, "You Runners Are All Crazy." You may have seen the email and/or the post; the title comes from something a spectator said to the writer as she walked toward the starting line of a 5K, in the rain.
I know the feeling. I am a runner, and yes, we are all crazy. The forecast for tomorrow at 9 AM is 52° F with showers. That's good. I can wear shorts and short sleeves, and I won't need gloves. I don't really care whether "showers" means overcast with a few drops spattering here and there, a steady light rain, or anything in between. It's good running weather. This is something I wouldn't have understood before I became a runner. The showers will be no big deal for running, and a heavy rain would be good for bragging rights.
Oh, and why is the forecast for 9 AM relevant? Because that is gun time for the Finish Strong 15K:
If you follow the link, you'll see the course goes between bodies of water labeled "Long Pond" and "Cranberry Pond". The large unlabeled body of water on the right as we pass the 4 mile mark is Lake Ontario. It should be scenic.
I've also seen the MapMyRun route for this course. As the saying goes, it makes a stack of pancakes look hilly. I expect it to be arguably the flattest race I've ever run, with the only argument coming from last year's Finish Strong 5K that shares part of this course.
This is only my second 15K, though I have run two half marathons since my first 15K. With the favorable weather forecast, this should be a routine thing. But I somehow manage to have given myself the pre-race jitters.
I've checked the maps. I know where I'm going, and I went there a year ago. I've got my registration material. I know what I'll wear, and I know what I'll carry for mid-race nutrition and hydration. What I don't know is how fast I'll run. The Rochester Half indicates I should be in good shape to hold a 7:20 pace for 9 miles; the open question is whether I can hold something faster, maybe about a 7:00 pace. The lungs and heart will support that, the feet might or might not. I probably won't decide how hard to push until after the gun goes off.
And now it's time for my evening snack and to get to bed on time. It wouldn't do to go short on sleep before a race that doesn't start till 9 AM.
Tomorrow morning, the jitters will be gone. They might not be gone until 9:01, but they will be gone in the morning.
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
It's Tuesday, a work at home day and the day of the weekly Cobbs Hill run at 6 PM. After a rather busy work day, I dashed off a quick blog on my maintenance anniversary then went off to get dinner and go to the Cobbs Hill run.
The run was pretty routine. I misjudged distances again, and ended up running 5.58 miles when I had planned to run about 5. I let myself run at whatever pace felt good, without pushing hard. That had me run for 43:53, for an average pace of 7:52 per mile. Mile splits were 7:54, 8:04, 8:10, 7:40, 7:36, and a 7:41 pace for the last 0.58 mile. Okay, that's what will pass for the hard run this week. Thursday I plan to go to a trail running seminar at 6 PM. That shouldn't have me running fast, and I'll see how much work it turns out to be.
The interesting thing about this evening was that Fleet Feet had a marketing part for Superfeet Carbon insoles. Try them out, and enter a drawing for a $50 gift certificate. It wasn't terribly surprising that there were no demo insoles in my shoe size, but that wasn't the interesting part.
There was a free dessert table. They had cake, and root beer floats, and Guinness floats. I never heard of a Guinness float before I became a runner, but they seem to be quite the thing with some of the younger runners. You know the kind, they have never had to worry about being overweight. Yet.
I looked at the cake. I thought about the root beer floats. I could have fired up the SparkPeople app and figured exactly where I was with respect to nutrition, but I didn't. Today was not an unusual eating day, and I knew I could handle 200 to 300 calories of dessert. I looked at the cake, and thought about it. I thought about a root beer float. I thought about going home to have an apple and a banana.
Went back outside and stretched. Came back in, and looked again at the cake. There was a small piece that would fit into the plan pretty easily.
And I walked out without having a float or a piece of cake. I decided I'd rather have stuff I normally have in the evening when I need to eat more calories for the day. It wasn't a very hard decision. I just couldn't convince myself that the Superfeet Carbon party was a social event worthy of eating 200 calories of dessert.
And I suppose this is what successful maintenance looks like, after a while. The good nutrition decisions have become easier over time. Two years ago it would have been remarkable and a real struggle to pass up free dessert that could fit into the day's plan. Today, it was more of a decision that I wanted my routine food more than the free food. Perhaps in another year or two I won't even have to think about it.
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Today is my three year maintenance anniversary. I would have overlooked it, but the At Goal and Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team sent me a spark goodie commemorating the date. Then the comments on my Spark Page started rolling in.
This is one of the nice things about Spark People. Just when I'm engrossed in Life Happening outside fitness and weight maintenance efforts, I get some reminders of how far I've come and how well I've been doing.
My maintenance anniversary commemorates the date I achieved my initial goal weight on SparkPeople. On that date, I wondered what my real maintenance weight would be:
By my first maintenance anniversary, I'd determined that my goal weight would be 162, 13 pounds lighter than my initial goal. Maintenance still required a lot of attention, and I blogged about the process of getting from that initial goal to a goal that I still wasn't sure would be final:
By my second maintenance anniversary, I noticed that maintaining the weight was more routine, and I was more focused on the fitness side of the equation:
Today I weighed in at 162, right on goal. That's a fluke. Tomorrow I am likely to be a bit over or a bit under; but I stay close. This is routine, and my concerns with weight revolve around when it is appropriate to change my nutrition range.
I'm still running, and focusing very much on that part of the equation. I'm looking forward to running four half marathons in 2015, having deferred the dream of running a full marathon into 2016. Meanwhile, there is a 15K a week from Saturday and a 10K on Thanksgiving Day. That may be as full as I want my race calendar to be.
And today? I was focused on a fire drill for work that will bleed over to tomorrow. With luck, Thursday will be calm before I wrap things up for this project on Friday. That kind of took my mind off writing SP blogs, till I saw that spark goodie.
So that's my state of maintenance at the 3 year mark. I'm maintaining the weight. It requires that I pay attention, but it does not require total focus. I'm still working on the fitness. Right now, staying uninjured has much of my fitness attention. And life takes my attention away from the online world much of the time.
But I lived through the work day, and found time for a quick anniversary blog. Now I need to be moving to get supper and go run 5 miles or so of hills this evening. That's where my head is, on this three year maintenance anniversary.
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