Sunday, April 24, 2011

Horsetooth Half and the Fast and the Furriest 5K

We had beautiful weather last Sunday for the Horsetooth Half Marathon which has to be my favorite local road race. I woke up feeling good, ate breakfast and had a nice warm-up run through Pineridge over to the start by the stadium. I ran well throughout the race and other than my legs feeling a bit heavy on the hills, I felt strong right to the finish. . . but I ran my slowest time on the course of the last four years. I ran 1:34:02 averaging a bit over 7 minutes per mile. I went in to the race with a goal to run in the low 1:30 range and if all went really well to go 1:29:xx. I'm not exactly sure what happened, I just couldn't run any faster. After a 7:51 and 8:23 first two miles going up to the reservoir, I needed to run 6:30-6:40 for the rest of the race to hit my goal time. I did run 6:35s for miles 3 and 6 and a 6:46 for mile 9 (these are the miles with a lot of down hill), but everything else was 6:57-7:08 and I that was all I had. I guess there is no way around the lack of speed work and intervals in my training over the last few months. I have been running plenty of miles but without the 800s, 1000s, and 2000s at 10K pace and better, I don't have the speed to maintain sub 7:00 min pace for 13.1 miles much less 26.2. I realized at the finish that I needed to reassess my goals for the Colorado Marathon.

I had a great time as always at the Horsetooth Half. I saw and ran with lots of friends. I enjoyed the course along the reservoir on a beautiful spring day, I got to cheer on Chris and Molly as they each finished their longest race ever, and I celebrated with beer and music and the post race festivities at New Belgium.

This morning, I woke up groggily far too early for a Saturday to take Maddie downtown for 7:15 am team pictures before her 8:00 am volleyball game. The Fast and the Furriest 5K was starting at 9:00 am at the CSU Oval and I really wanted to run. I thought it would be fun to run a race with Shadow and I thought a 5K would be a good final hard effort the week before the marathon. The race is a benefit for CSU's Veterinary Medical Center's Companion Animal Care Fund and the Professional Veterinary Medicine Class of 2013 and the race director is FCTR and Queen of the Hill, Jen Malmberg. I knew that it would be a fun race for a good cause with lots of friends so I really wanted to run, but didn't see how Maddie, Shadow and I would be able to get from her game to the race, get registered and get to the start by race time. On top of all that, as Maddie and I headed out to volleyball, it started to snow.

Maddie played three great games of volley ball with a bunch of great returns and several sets of nonreturnable serves including her newly perfected overhand serve that she has been working hard on and is very proud of. The last game ended at 8:36 and I thought that maybe it could happen.

Maddie and I walked quickly to the car where Shadow was patiently waiting. It continued to snow as we drove through town to CSU. We found a parking spot and were heading to the registration tent by 8:47. I normally prefer to arrive at a race, even if I am preregistered at least an hour before the gun goes off, so I was a bit stressed. As we jogged to the tables, we saw that the line for preregistered runners to pick up their packets was stretched around the building and there was almost no line for race day registration. I saw Nick waiting to get his number with a borrowed dog, Chester, that he had just met a few minutes earlier.

I got my race number and heard the announcement that the race start would be delayed by at least 15 minutes. I relaxed and stopped to talk with Pete, Scott, and Celeste who each had a dog with them. Scott, just one week post 2:53 marathon PR, was planning on an easy run with Duke. Pete had just run 40 miles and some ridiculous amount of vertical on Friday at the InSanitas birthday run in Boulder so he and Misty were planning on a pretty easy pace as well. I went back and forth thinking about running easy with Pete and Scott or going for it and seeing what I could do. It was still snowing and I didn't have tights or a long sleeve shirt to run in just shorts and short sleeves under a jacket and long pants. I consulted Shadow, who thought the weather was perfect, and he had already decided so I handed Maddie my jacket and long pants and moved up to the front of the pack of 400+ runners (probably closer to 800 including dogs).

At the signal for go Shadow took off and I had to hold him close on the gentle leader. Sarah and I laughed as we watched Nick try to run forward while Chester was anxiously trying to run back towards his person. Within 100 yards, Chester came out of his collar and took off across the grass back towards the start and Nick jumped the curb and ran after him empty leash in hand.

I was feeling good and Shadow really wanted to run, so we pushed on at a steady pace around the oval and out through campus. We passed dogs and runners and hit the first mile in 6:13. I watched a runner just ahead of us trip over his dog's leash and go down hard on the wet sidewalk, so I continued to hold Shadow's leash close to keep him right beside. Shadow cooperated pretty well, but he wold have liked me to run a bit faster. There was a pack of 6 or 8 dogs and runners about 30 yards ahead of us and Shadow was determined to catch them. We took all the sharp sidewalk corners pretty slow since it was wet and I had to keep the leash from crossing in front of me. Sarah flew past us just before mile 2 and Shadow kept pushing the pace. Mile 2 was 6:21 and I started to think that a sub 20 minute 5K was very possible. We kept going and passed a couple more dog/runner teams as we headed back in to the oval. Mile 3 was a 6:23 and Shadow was starting to pull a little less on the leash. I glanced at my watch as we went around the bottom of the oval to see it hit 19 minutes and I knew we had to keep pushing to make a sub 20 minute finish. Shadow was game and we kicked it in passing one more dog/runner team 25 yards from the finish. We crossed the line in 19:52 for a new Colorado 5K PR for me and an all time best for Shadow. It was the most fun I have had in a 5K or any race in a while and Shadow seemed very happy. We jogged around the oval to cheer on Scott and Duke, then Celeste and Ziggy then Jennifer and her dog and then Pete and Misty (who had needed to make a potty stop early on but ran well after that). Nick had managed to recover Chester and finish in 21:xx. Shadow and I were 9th overall and 3rd in my age group. What a great morning of animals and running. This race gave me some new confidence for next Sunday's marathon. 3:15 should be very doable and if all goes well I think I can safely aim to go sub 3:10. Maybe I should bring Shadow.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Global Heroes

I submitted my application a couple days ago for the Medtronic Global Heroes program. Global Heroes is a program through Medtronic (the makers of my insulin pump) and the Twin Cities Marathon that selects and brings together runners from around the world that benefit from medical technology like a pacemaker, a spinal device, a neurological device, or an insulin pump to run the Twin Cities Marathon and provide some inspiration and hope for others with medical conditions. The 25 runners selected, get travel, accommodations and race entry for the October 2 race in Minneapolis/St. Paul. If I am selected, Medtronic will also donate $1000 to the patient organization of my choice. My donation would go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to assist with their work to "prevent, better treat and ultimately cure Type 1 Diabetes".

This is my third year applying to the Global Heroes program. Selection is based on a couple of questions in an online application. The announcement of who is chosen will happen in the next couple months. I'll let you know what happens.

Monday, April 4, 2011

1000 Miles

In keeping with my recent numbers based posts, here are two of my latest important numbers:

Total running miles for March: 400

Total running miles for the year as of today April 3: 1000

This was certainly my biggest March mileage and only my 2nd 400 mile month ever. My previous 400 mile month was last July when I spent 8 days running 200 miles on the Colorado Trail and then a couple weeks later ran the first 65 miles of the Grand Mesa 100 and I was on summer vacation, so I could go out and run as much as I wanted whenever I wanted. I am encouraged to know that I can train at this level and still work and spend time with my family and sleep (and not much else) - although I did still manage to host a few running events. I guess that is part of the secret. Any social life must be held in conjunction with running. But that's the type of social life I prefer anyway. Runners are the best people to hang out with.

I'm not sure when I hit 1000 miles last year or in the past several years, but I am sure that April 3 is the earliest I have ever reached this annual mileage milestone. All the running volume has definitely done good things for my running strength and fitness. I have not however done the necessary speed or pace training to realistically expect to run a marathon 4 weeks from today in under 3 hours. I still have hopes of coming close -- a sub 3:10 could still be possible, but 26.2 miles at 6:50 pace probably is not going to happen on May 1st this year. I'm really not all that upset about this realization because my bigger goals for the year are to run strong mountain trail races in Bighorn and Leadville. And there will be another opportunity to run a fast road marathon (look for another post soon on the Medtronic Twin Cities Global Heroes program that I will be applying for again this year).

In other exciting running news, today was the 7th and final race in the FCRC Tortoise and Hare Series. Final points were added up and 1st and 2nd place went to Maddie and Ean respectively. They won $100 and $75 to be spent at the Runner's Roost, so we went there directly from the post race bagels and the chapmion running women enjoyed a shopping spree for clothes, bags, socks and Gu.

The middle school track season starts tomorrow and I am excited to again be coaching the distance runners and long and triple jumpers. I am also coaching a BolderBoulder Racers Club with students at my school to prepare them to run in this year's BB 10K.

Springtime is here full of crazy Colorado weather and lots of good running.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

First Pineridge Downhill Mile Results and Analysis

A group of 17 brave trail runners showed up last night for the first Pineridge Downhill Mile. It was windy many were unaccustomed to the rigors of running a hard effort all out mile, but the results were strong and some fastest of all time miles were run.

Here are the results:

--------- 3/31 -- 4/28
Alex A.---- 6:03 --- 5:38
Alex M.-- 5:45 --- 5:54
Brian ---- 7:00 --- 7:00
Cat----- 6:19 --- 6:11
Celeste -- 6:45
Chris H.-- 7:00
Dave ---- 5:08
Erin ----------------- 8:39
James ---- 6:15
Jennifer --------------7:25
Joselyne ---------- 7:01
Mary ---- 6:39 --- 6:39
Matt -------------7:20
Michele -- 8:05
Mindy ---- 7:58
Molly ---- 8:35 --- 8:20
Nick C. ------------- *
Nick M. --- 5:10 --- 4:58
Pablo ---- 6:29 --- 6:13
Pete ----- 5:22 ---- *
Shawn --- 6:35
Slush ---- 5:45 --- 6:20

Below is a scatter plot of last night's mile times vs. Towers PRs. Each point on the graph represents one person who ran last night with their mile time on the x-axis (horizontal) and their Towers PR on the y-axis (vertical). The line is the trend line that shows the average correlation between these two values for this group of people. Only 12 of last night's runners had Towers times and some of the times from last night are estimated due to lack of watch.

Click on the graph to see it full size

If your point falls above the trend line, it means that your mile time is fast proportional to your Towers Time (or you can read it as your Towers time is slow compared to your mile time). A perfect example of this is Nick M. Nick has amazing leg speed on flats and downhills compared to his time on Towers which is still pretty fast.

If your point falls below the trend line, it means your Towers time is fast compared to your mile time (or your mile time is slow). Slush was the perfect example of this last night. Mr. Slusher is a monster on Towers seemingly running faster and faster on each attempt; his mile time last night however was comparably average (hey, he tied with me).

If you look at the point between Nick M. and Scott you find Mr. Consistent himself, Pete, whose data almost defines the trend. What this means is that in relation to the group, Pete is equally strong and fast on both the Towers ascent and the Pineridge Mile.

With only 12 data points and some timing and weather irregularities, this plot is far from perfect, but it does provide an interesting way to assess your strengths and weaknesses in two very different running events.

The next running of the PDM will be Thursday, April 28. Come out and attempt to improve your mile time or set a new personal mile record.