Sunday, March 26, 2017

BUS 6 Hour Night Crawler - Recap

While this race may not have been my brightest idea, in terms of where I am at in my training; it was most definitely a fun one!

Every time I think of training and running a road 26.2 I reject it. But ask me to do an ultra and apparently I am on board. Even though I am not really trained for one. 

I have been half-assing long running lately. While I do have a few LONG runs in - a 22 and an 18 miler fairly recently - other than that my runs have not been longer than I think 12 miles. 

My goal going into this race was simple, do whatever my body permits. I genuinely have no desire to injure myself and was willing to pull the plug on running if something didn't feel right or I was just shot. Walk if and when necessary, and also chill for a minute or so at the aide station each loop. 

The course itself was about 1.45 miles (love a good loop on a timed ultra) which meant you hit the aide station pretty frequently.

I didn't taper or anything since like I said, no goals and really didn't prep. Taking this seriously folks!

I liked that it was a night race. It began at 4pm and ended at 10pm, so I got a fantastic night of sleep, 10 HOURS, and also could be lazy ahead of time. A nice change of pace.

I got there and was happy to see a lot of familiar faces. This was my 4th event with the Broadway Ultra Society, and you walk up, they know your name, they know your race history and it is just a chill vibe. I debated what to wear - decided on a long sleeve under my team singlet, shorts and calf compression sleeves, and just hydrated a bit more and waited to begin.

I think there were about 50-60 or so participants. It is all very official in the beginning. Richie who runs BUS goes over the rules and the loops, lead us to the official start line and basically said, go! Brings joy to my heart how chill these events are. 

The course was comprised of 2 loops - a lower and an upper. It had one killer incline, which I walked each time, which then was a killer decline on the way back, plus one other pretty good decline. Other than that mostly flat with little bits of elevation. The park itself was nice and only a few miles from home so I am going to plan some long runs around it this spring for sure!

My race strategy was to just go at "all day pace". For me that means maintaining conversational pace and low heart rate. For reference my average heart rate for this was 127 bpm. 

I started running and got in a zone. For me with these timed events I feel like the most mentally challenging part is getting past the first couple hours. When you know you have a timed end vs a distance end, it is ticking down the hours along with miles. 

I felt good. As the miles went on I will say I was waiting for my body to just say no. When I hit a half marathon I was surprised I didn't feel fatigued. But again I was running really slow. From there on out I took it loop by loop. At 16 I started thinking that a marathon was doable. By 20 I knew there was no stopping, that no matter what I would make it to 26.2 even if I walked. 

It had also rained a bit on and off and was starting to get colder and windier - they had soup at the aide station and that was basically my motivation the last 10K to keep moving. 

The scoring volunteers are also your biggest support. Each lap they are routing you on and as I got closer to the marathon they were counting down the laps for me (18 was a marathon).

The last loop I did start to feel some aches and was thankful that I was just about done. I was definitely thinking, is this normal marathon aches or is something hurt, trying to keep myself honest. 

And then, loop 18 was DONE and a marathon was in the bag! In a not too shabby time if I do say so myself. In general this isn't a worst marathon time for me when I have been TRAINED. And I walked. And stopped. And was genuinely running slow. ALMOST tempts me to train to PR a marathon (mine is 4:26) but pretty sure I won't lol. 

I then stopped an got my very looked forward to chicken noodle soup with LOTs of noodles. Oh the salty goodness. I sat and stretched for a little while and then decided I would just walk in the remainder to keep moving for the 6 hours. 

I wound up finishing with a couple more loops for about 29 or so miles. We then headed for a little pizza and awards party after, and were able to warm up a bit. 

I would like to say that there are some AMAZING runners you are in company of in these events. The top male ran 49.5 miles. Let that sink in. A 7:15 or so pace for almost 50 miles. 

The top female I believe had 43 or so miles. So while I totally impressed myself with what I was able to do, there are some very awesome ultra runners out there. 

Two of my new teammates did it as well, running about 38 and 32 miles respectively. 

The aftermath? A solid 8 hours of sleep later and I woke up not feeling too bad. I am going to definitely spend the day not too anything more than some walking since sitting too long will make me stiff but not worse for the wear going beyond what I have done lately. 

What works for me is clearly not any sort of suggestion for what works for others. I am not injury prone, I have maintained a base for years. I literally have not had to "restart" training in several years. I have a great cardio level of fitness - this is not to sound like bragging but the fact that I was able to run for several hours, all at low heart rate, speaks to my current level of fitness. 

I genuinely think that one day I may wind up fully immersed in the ultra world. I think that I am totally made for long and slow running and enjoy it as well as the camaraderie. But I'm not ready to give up on my speed yet, and if I have learned anything it is that for me, when I start to focus on long I sacrifice speed. 

This probably will not be the last time I jump into a distance race without focusing on training for it. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues and Shamrock 5K - Recap

I've been forgetting to write recaps lately but I just happened to fold my shirt from this race and figured no time better than the present!

I have never run this race for a couple of reasons - it is pretty far from me, which makes it inconvenient to travel to - especially for a 5K and it is a notoriously hilly course - which also doesn't make for a great 5K. 

This year however, I am running for a team, Quicksilver Striders and this was the first points race of the year for NYRR so, obligations drove me to it!

I literally didn't have expectations. In fact the day before I took a bootcamp class and then ran 10.5 miles - so was thinking it would be painful. 

The morning was so so cold. So cold that I wore pants. Not quite sure who I am. Since I didn't have plans of "racing" I didn't warm up either (sorry coach!). My warmup was a half assed jog to my coral. 

My pace with NYRR (8:26) put me in coral F which would prove to be frustrating for a 5K but a bit of a blessing. 

The race began in waves which meant more cold waiting; and when we finally crossed the start I found myself having to weave and try to run to the outside to try and actually run. 

I haven't been running with my Garmin much but did throw it on for this race. I felt pretty good and thought I was running in the low 8's but honestly wasn't paying much attention and just tried to get to that sustainable hard 5K pace. 

I was consistently passing people the ENTIRE race which was a first for me. I felt really strong and with the hills was trying to make sure that I didn't kill myself too early on. 

The good thing about an out and back course like this is that you know exactly what is waiting for you when you turn around - so I made a mental note of that lovely down hill early on that we would be going back up it.

At the turn around I looked down at my watch and realized I might be running myself to a PR. Not going to lie, I was now motivated times 10 to keep up the pace. I kept on passing people and then the final hill came. It definitely slowed me down but at the same time I knew there was a downhill to the finish. 

As we crested the hill I just focused on making sure my breathing was under control and then gunned it again. I passed my coach about .5 from the finish and was able to yell out a greeting and was now motivated to move my legs as quick as possible. 

I crossed the finish line amazed, PR city! 

Garmin stats: 8:05, 7:37, 7:36, 6:54 (<--kick!)

I'm not going to lie, I was shocked. This is NOT a PR course. I was not rested. Technically my legs were shot. But I did it! AND with a negative split (not sure if I have ever negative split a 5K before).

That first slow mile was perhaps a blessing that held me back from going out too fast but I am thinking give me a flat course, smaller crowd and I can probably shave at least 30 seconds off of it. Coach said after that I looked really in control (and I felt it as well towards the end) and thinks I can run a 23 flat... I am not saying no but that's fast!

I still have shock as a former fat girl - and still not lean - that my 160ish pound body can run that fast. Breaking the 8 min/mile barrier has been HUGE for me, both mentally and physically. 

I do feel like I continually prove to myself that I know my body and what training works for me. I don't do mile repeats, specific intervals etc. I find the more structured I make training the worse off my results and the more in my head I am. That is not to say I do not do work, I just run by feel. My favorite hard workouts are long tempos (7-8 mile runs with 5ish at tempo) and fartlek runs. 

Also bootcamp. 2 -3 hours of bootcamp a week consistently for about 6 months now have paid HUGE dividends. The strength I felt going uphill made me thank all the trainers in my head during the race! 

I would be lying if I said I didn't plug in the results to see what they translate to for a half marathon (1:51 and my PR is 1:53). While I am 100% not in shape enough for a PR half - that does make me think that I shouldn't discount the idea of running a fast one this spring. If I can get back to 1:55 for spring to bounce off of I will keep my eyes on it for the fall! 

But then again, who knows. If the stars align and I have a good day, anything can happen!

Oh AND new NYRR pace, 8:09!! Woo hoo!