Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trolley Run Race Report

What: Trolley Run
Where: Kansas City
When: Sunday, April 26, 2015
Goal: Sub-29:00
Finish Time: 27:06

Over the last three weeks I have ran two trail marathons, both of which were challenging for different reasons. During the marathon last weekend, my left hamstring became really tight and I ended up with some hip pain due to all the slipping and sliding. Last Sunday I had a little bit of calf pain, but nothing major. I did a short three mile shake out run on Tuesday which went OK, but I could feel my hamstring a bit. I did a five mile run on Thursday and was feeling a bit better. Saturday morning I ran a seven mile run and it felt good, but I felt my hamstring get tight at around the five mile point, but as I picked up the pace a bit, the hamstring felt a bit better. I spent some time foam rolling the hamstring and quads so I wouldn't end up injuring myself during the race.

Race Morning:
All week ling I've been debating whether or not to actually "race" the Trolley Run, or just run it as a tempo run. Well, on the way to the race I put on my race mix CD and decided to race it. I started to warm up a bit and my hamstring was already tight. I spent some time massaging and stretching it, then went for another short jog to loosen it up. I repeated that cycle several times prior to the race.

One good things about the race, I always see quite a few of my friends there. I was surprised that saw quite a few fellow Trail Nerds at this road race. I guess it just shows how much fun this race can be, it also doesn't hurt that it's a fast course. At about 7:30, I went over and lined up in the red wave, which is for those who plan on going sub-30:00. I chatting with a friend and fellow Trail Nerd, Rick, while we waited for the race to start.

The Race:
I decided that I was still going to race it, but start off a little easy to test the hamstring, then pick it up if I felt it was safe. Sometime around 7:45 the race started. The first mile starts on a downhill, so I try to reel it in and not go out too fast. Before too long, another one of my friends, Jenna, passes by and we wish each other good luck. As she passed me quite quickly, I decided to pick the pace up some and try to hold it. I looked down and realized I was running a 7:11 pace and decided the hamstring felt OK so it was time to pick it up even more. I ended up finishing the first mile in 6:53. It felt tough, but I decided to see how long I could hold the pace. I had the song "This is Gonna Hurt," by Sixx AM, playing in my mild to help me keep pace.

Mile 2 was more the same. I started to pick people to use as "rabbits" and pull me along. I started breathing a bit harder during this mile, but the pace still felt sustainable. I just kept plugging along. The song "Bring It," by Trapt, was playing in my mind during this mile. It must have worked since I finished Mile 2 in 6:52.

Mile 3 was mostly downhill and I struggled to keep the pace here. I was passing people, but one of my "rabbits" had pulled quite a bit ahead of me. I dug down and started to pick it up a bit to close the gap. Up ahead, I saw a gal that started in front of me that was hoping to get a 26-27:00 time. I figured if I could catch up to her, I could get close to a PR time. Since I started thinking about the time during this mile, the song "Got the Time," by Anthrax, started playing in my mind. I did end up closing the gap on my "rabbit" and the other gal, finishing Mile 3 in 6:48.

Mile 4 started and I was really struggling to hold it together. I started fighting with my mind, it kept telling me to walk and I kept telling it to shut the F@*# UP! I then started to have the song "Blow," by Atreyu play in my mind. Instead of walking, I picked up the pace and passed the gal that was hoping for a 26-27:00 time, and started to really close the gap on the "rabbit." Just a half mile to go now and I'm reeling them in so i try to find another gear. I see the final turn up ahead, after that we have maybe a quarter mile to the finish. I pick it up a bit, then after the turn I try to kick. With about 100 yards to go I finally passed my "rabbit" and just focused on the clock. I knew I had a chance a getting a PR, but I couldn't go any faster. I crossed the finish line, stopped my Garmin and saw that it would be close, depending on chip time. I finished Mile 4 in 6:33 and ended up with a finish time of 27:06, tying my PR set in this race back in 2012.

Since I thought I would struggle with going sub-29:00, I am ecstatic that I tied my PR! Then again, I know I could have gone sub-27:00 today if I had just believed that I had the endurance to do it. There's always something to learn from every race, with this one, I learned I am in better running shape than I thought. Things are definitely starting to look up. Now it's time to take it easy and rest up for the big challenge next weekend!

If you made it all the way through, thanks!


Monday, March 9, 2015

Run Hard Columbia Marathon RR

What: Run Hard Columbia Marathon
When: March 7, 2015
Where: Columbia, SC
Weather: 30F-50F, sunny
Why: To meet some awesome friends!
Goals: Mainly to just finish, but I did want to at least finish sub-5:00
Link to Race Data: Suunto Ambit 2 Race Data
Official Time: 4:29:15

I registered for this race as soon as registration opened, about a year ago. I had a decent running year in 2014, with my longest, and most fun race being a 50K in October. After October, I took a little down time and reduced mileage to let nagging issues recover. I had planned on starting training for it December by getting my long runs back to 13 miles, but it didn't workout that way. My longest run in December was 9.3 miles.

I did make a good push in January, with the first few weeks having long runs of 9.3, 11.3, and 13.5 miles. However, a quad issue, not running related, stopped my training after that. As the quad issue healed, I dealt with a bad case of bronchitis for roughly three weeks. I believe the last two weeks of January consisted of maybe a total of 10 miles, with just about three of those being from walking. Basically, ever time I started to make gains in training, I had either an illness or non-running related injury halt my training for 2-3 weeks. Whenever I started back up, it felt like my cardio endurance was shot. Ultimately, I really only had 10 days of training for the race after I had fully recovered from the effects of the bronchitis. My highest mileage week was the week before the race with 40 miles and a long run of 16.5. Not what I would really call ideal. Overall, I think my average weekly mileage for the year is less than 20 miles/week.

Race Weekend:
I decided to drive to SC and camp out before the race. I've camped out before all my longer races and never had an issue. Well, camping wasn't really the issue this time, it was the drive down there.  I woke up at 12:30a.m. Thursday morning and started my drive at 2:00. It was going well until I hit Kentucky. A major snow storm had hit earlier and wrecked havoc on the road conditions. Here are a few pictures to show what I mean:
Traffic was stopped at this point. Pretty sure this was in Kentucky.

In Kentucky while trying to find a way around the blockage of I-24. I'd later find out that it was shut down for about 65 miles.

This was around Mile Marker 8 on I-24 EB in Kentucky. While taking a different road, I was informed they had one lane open all the way to Nashville. This is what the highway looked like until about Mile Marker 65, I was the only vehicle travelling east on the roadway.
Due to the road conditions, I didn't make it to the campground until around 9:30 Thursday night. Wouldn't you know it, the gates to the campground were locked. Thankfully, after waiting about 30 minutes, a park ranger verified my reservation and let me in. I was then given the lock combination so I could let myself in and out after the gates had closed, it would have been good to be given that when I verified my registration earlier in the week.

Luckily, the new tent only took me 5-10 minutes to set up, but by the time I got to sleep, I've been awake for nearly 23 hours. Again, not ideal for a race.  I managed to get a good six hours of sleep and woke up to the sounds of birds, one of my favorite ways to wake up!

I went for a short 2.5 mile shakeout run along the campground roads in the morning, then around noon I walked a two mile loop around the campground lake. It was a gorgeous day. I eventually made it to the race expo to pick up my race packet and ended up seeing one of the good friends I was going to be meeting earlier, Jennifer! See, the whole reason I registered for this race was to finally meet some of my good friends from an online running team, the Free Agents, that I've been a member of since 2008. Jennifer was leaving the expo, but parked and came back inside so we could chat some. Talk about good southern hospitality! After I picked up my packet and we talked with one of her friends, we went our separate ways until meeting up with the rest of the gang at dinner.

I made my way to our pre-race dinner spot, the Mellow Mushroom, and soon met with two other friends from the team, Mallory and Wendy. Shortly thereafter, Jennifer showed up. Us four made our way in and got seated at a booth. We would later be joined by one of Mallory's friends, Joe and then finally our team captain, Susan. The food was good, but the conversation was better. By the end of the dinner, it had seemed that we've all been good friends for a long time and you wouldn't have guessed that this was the first time we've met in person.

Here's the gang! From left to right we have Jennifer, Susan, me, Wendy, Mallory, and Joe.
After a night of great conversation we said our goodbyes and made plans to meet up pre-race. Since Jennifer had some runners that she was coaching, she was unable to make the pre-race meet-up.

Race Day
After about six hours of sleep, I made it to the race start after a short 20 minute drive. I mixed up my the Tailwind in my bottles, then headed out to the starting area. Once I left the parking garage I met up with Mallory and Wendy, but realized I forgot my shades in the car and told them I'd meet them at the starting area.

Once everyone arrived, we had a pre-race photo taken:
Mallory, Wendy, myself, Joe, and Susan
It was chilly at the start, but didn't feel too bad. According to, it was 30F near the time the race started. Thankfully, there really wasn't any wind. When it was time to line up, Wendy, Mallory, myself, and Joe found a spot in the small crowd and lined up. Wendy and Mallory were running the half while Joe and I were lucky enough to experience the course twice as the marathon was a two loop course. Susan and Jennifer ran the 5K and started 30 minutes later.

We didn't see any pace markings or groups, but it turns out we were behind the 4:45 pacer. The pacers had a bib on their back showing the time they were pacing, but unlike any other race I had run previously, they didn't carry any flags to help you find them in the crowd.  I contemplated moving up as my goal had changed to sub-4:30 with a "if the planets aligned" goal of sub-4:00. Ultimately I stayed put and just decided to run what felt comfortable for as long as I could and just see how the race shakes out.

Some pictures of the crowd pre-race:

lined up, facing the starting line.

Facing behind me.
Race Fueling Plan:
Based upon my 16.5 mile run the previous weekend, I made changes to my fueling plan. I still used Tailwind that I carried in my Orange Mud VP2 vest, but I supplemented it with an S!Cap every four miles to ensure I got enough electrolytes in during the run. Since I cramped during the 16.5 mile run, I knew I wouldn't drink enough on the run to get all my needed electrolytes from my Tailwind, especially since the bottles wouldn't be refilled during the race. The Tailwind was mixed at two scoops (200 calories) per 24 ounce bottle. This fueling plan worked great!

The Race:
Once the race started, we wished each other good luck then set off to run our own races. I started moving ahead, then was abruptly stopped when I ran into the woman in front of me because she had dropped her phone and stopped to pick it up, creating a pile up. I started running again, but quickly noticed that one of my bottles popped out during the pile up. I retrieved it without interfering with others, then started again. Definitely not a good start to the race.

Overall, the course wasn't too challenging, some rolling hills, with one steep hill around mile 11. With that said, I think some tectonic plates shifted and the hills became steeper on the second loop. It surely couldn't have been my lack of hill training, well lack of training of any kind that made it feel worse on the second loop.

I'm not too much for recalling every mile of a race, so here are my basic feelings of the race as I remember them now:

The first half of the race I felt very comfortable and never felt like I was pushing too hard. I had worn my gloves for the first few miles, but they felt like they were making my hands colder so I took them off and let my hands warm up on their own. By Mile 5, they were no longer cold. I had originally planned to run two miles and walk 30 seconds, but never really followed that plan. I started that after Mile 4 and then it was more sporadic with my walking. I finished the first loop in right around two hours.

The following pictures were taken during the first loop:
Mile 1

Mile 2

Mile 2

Mile 3

Mile 6

Mile 11

The start of the second loop went well, and starting from Mile 15, I started following my original plan of walking 30 seconds every two miles. Instead of watching the time during the Mile 15 walk break, I just walked up the long hill. I didn't remember it being that long or steep the first time around. It really wasn't that bad, but my legs were getting a bit tired. It also started to warm up. I started having the sweat drip from hat around this point and tried to remind myself that I needed to drink more often. By this point, I had drank about 24 ounces. It was a good thing I was taking the S!Caps, otherwise I'm sure my calf would have started complaining.

After the Mile 15 walk break, I felt good again up until about Mile 20. My quads started to get quite tired and sore. I kept pushing until the 20.5 mile point, but then I had to walk. My quads just didn't feel like they could take any more. Truth be told, I probably could have continued running, but erred on the side of caution and started walking. The longer I walked, the deeper of a funk I put myself into. I had let myself use the excuse of, "this is only a training run and I need to train my walking for an upcoming race" and just kept walking. Then I was sure that I lost the 4:30 time goal and started to get pissed at myself.

Since I was walking, during Mile 22 I made a pit stop at one of the aid stations since there wasn't any lines at the portapotties. At about the 22.5 mile point, I was passed by the 4:30 pacer. He asked how I was doing when he passed and it brought me out of my funk a little. I decided to try and keep up with him and just talk with someone to get my mind back into the race. When we got to a hill, I decided to walk the hill and thanked him for pulling me along for a bit. My quads were a bit sore, but not bad. I started to think of the wise words from one of my good friends, Danny. What were those wise words, "No pussyfooting." That became my mantra from that point on. I had found my second wind and realized that I still had a shot at a sub-4:30 time. This ignited another fire in me and I started passing people. It felt good. No, it felt GREAT!

It was also around this point that I started to sing some Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty. I can thank another one of my good friends, Brandy, for that one! She shared this gem of a video with me which is always good for a laugh:

Marathon Thoughts

That also helped to improve my mood. Mile 26 ended by run in under nine minutes and was my 3rd fastest mile of the race. The final 0.45 miles was run at a 7:16 pace, so needless to say I was defunkedified!

When I crossed the line, Susan was there to cheer me in. It was a fun race, fairly poorly executed, but I still met my sub-4:30 goal. One of these years, I'll actually run a marathon when I am truly trained for it. Well, maybe. :)

The following pictures were taken during the second loop:
Mile 14

Mile 14

Mile 15

Mile 16

Mile 16

Mile 16

Mile 16

Mile 17

Mile 19

Mile 19

Mile 20
I had hoped that they would have a massage booth at the end of the race, but it turned out that it was only for those needing medical assistance. Instead, I walked around a bit, stretched the quads, then about 10 minutes later I was finally able to sit down on the curb. I was shocked that I still hadn't started to cramp up. I waited to cheer in Joe, then we checked our finish times. All they showed was gun time, but it still showed sub-4:30 for me, 4:29:57. I'll take it!

After getting cleaned up, Joe and I decided to walk to our post-race lunch meeting spot, Thirsty Fellow. I had thought it was only going to be a few blocks, but it was probably close to two miles away. Oh well, it's good to walk after a race to keep the muscles from tightening up, right. 

The gals were texting us wondering where the heck we were. They didn't realize we decided to walk there. LOL  Thankfully, Jennifer was kind enough to shuttle us back so we didn't have to walk. Thanks, Jennifer!

At our post race meal (Jennifer, Susan, Joe, me, Mallory, and Wendy)
This was a great weekend with amazing people that I am very happy to call my friends!  Thanks to Jennifer, Susan, Joe, Mallory, and Wendy for making this a very fun trip!

Almost forgot....

Jennifer surprised each of us with a goody bag! Once again, talk about that southern hospitality! Thanks for being an awesome host, Jen!

Goody bag contents. The bottle is Serrano pepper vinegar.
Finally, here is a picture of the medal:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A nice, crisp, cool morning for a run

This morning I had a long run of eleven miles planned. The temperature when I left for the park was shown to be a feels like of three degrees with an air temp of 9F. I dressed appropriately, grabbed my Orange Mud VP2 hydration pack, my mp3 player, then headed to the park. This would be my first double digit mileage run since I tweaked my quad about two months ago. My plan was to take a walk break every mile in order to drink, then get back to running. Including the walk breaks, I wanted to average about 9:30/mile for the run.

When I got out of the car and put on my pack, I could feel the cold air on my legs. I had a pair of CW-X endurance generator tights with a thin pair of pants over the top. This would be only my 2nd run in the tights, which admittedly are a bit too small for me, but the next size up would have been too large. I put on a  pair of mittens over my gloves to help protect from the wind, but after two miles, my hand were too warm so I took the mittens off. The wind was never too bad and pretty much calmed down to a light breeze by the end of my second mile. It was a very comfortable temperature for running, but it did make it problematic to drink out of the bottles. The spots on both of my bottles had frozen closed so I had to unscrew the top every time I wanted to drink. It did make me slow down more than I had hoped as I had to stop moving in order to drink, but I still held myself to the stopping once a mile routine.

At about the four mile point, I noticed some sweat dripping from my hat. As the run progressed, I was able to see an icicle form on the bottom of my shades. At first it was just a small dot, but after a few miles, it started to get larger. At about the nine mile point, I could feel my legs getting tired. I suspect it was more due to the tights causing my legs to work harder than the mileage, but can't prove that at the moment. By this time, I could see the icicle had ended up connecting to my mustache as well as spread along the bottom of the shades. Thankfully, I had covered the exposed skin of my face with a thin layer of Vaseline and couldn't really feel the cold of the ice. The Vaseline also worked to prevent the ice from sticking to my skin.

My legs never did get too tired, but never felt like they had any spring in their step either. I ended up finishing 11.35 miles with an average pace of 9:26/mile. All in all, I call the run a success. When I finished, I took the following photo to document what I like to call the oakleycicle.

I warmed up with coffee and good conversation with friends and am looking forward to doing it all again next weekend, with above freezing temperatures.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

KC Corporate Challenge 5K - RR

What: KCCC 5K
When: May 3, 2014 @ 7:30
Where: Kansas City
Goal: sub-21:00
Finish: 21:45ish (unofficial) ETA: 21:28 official

I've been dealing with back issues that have hindered my running. To try and counteract those issues, I used a tennis ball and rolled my lower back and deltoids. I also self-applied rock tape (kinesiology tape) to my lower back. I must say that it is difficult to apply the tape to your back by yourself. I arrived to the start of the race about an hour early and sat in the car for a bit listening to some tunes to get me pumped up. After a bit I went out for about a half mile warm-up, met up with some friends, and just relaxed until the start.

With about 15 minutes until the start, we headed to line up. Finally, people start moving forward in preparation of the first wave getting ready to start. The announcer counted down and we were off! Well, I thought we were. We had not crossed a timing mat and everyone was still basically walking. Since I didn't see a mat at the finish, I decided to start my watch.  I don't know how long it took, but I finally crossed a timing mat. It took about another 10 seconds or so before I started to be able to pick up the pace. It wasn't until about 1/4 into the first mile that I was able to start settling into my planned pace. My plan for the race was to try to hit mile 1 in 7:00, mile 2 in 6:45, and turn it on for the last 1.1 and hope for the best.

Mile 1 is starts out with a gradual incline for the first 3/4 of a mile or so, then increases to about a 3% grade. I ended up finishing Mile 1 in 6:45 according to my watch. Mile 2 continues with the 3% grade raise for the first half mile, then has a 1/4 mile descent followed by another quarter mile climb. My back started to give me issues and forced me to slow more than I had planned. I realized my pace was dropping, but I could not do anything to prevent the pace from slowing. I finished Mile 2 in 7:22. Mile 3 is basically downhill at a 3% grade until the 3/4 mile point, then it starts to level out. I tried to push the pace, but didn't feel like I could push the pace like I wanted to. I tried, but had to slow every now and then when the back flared up. It was all I could do to prevent from stopping to walk. I finished Mile 3 in 6:38. According to my watch, I finished the last .18 miles with an avg. 5:33 pace. I did all I could, but still fell short of my goal. I am still pleased that I didn't walk and that I performed better than I did during the Trolley Run last weekend.

Once again I took advantage of the free ART and finally came away with the cause of my back pain. For some reason, my right calf is having issues and causing my glute not to fire. This in turn is causing my back to work much harder than it should, hence the back pain. I was told to roll the calf with a foam roller or tennis ball for 1.5-2 minutes before every run. I'm hoping that this will start improving my back. So event though I didn't have the race I wanted, at least I came away with a faster time than last year and a plan to start solving the back issue.  All in all, I'll take that as a pretty good day.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shamrock & Run 5K

What: Shamrock & Run 5K
When: March 16, 2014
Where: Liberty, MO
Start Time: 11:30 a.m.
Weather: 32F with 17-20mph winds
Goal: Sub 22:00
Finish Time: 21:53
AG Placement (M40-49): 1/12
OA Placement: 9/136

Race Week:
I was going into this race knowing that the running I did during the week would not set me up to have a shot at a PR. Since I wasn't treating this as a goal race, but more as a time trial, I ran my normal mileage the week prior to the race. Truth be told, two of the 10K runs I did during the week were run at a faster pace than I had planned. My legs wanted to run hard, so I let them. In total, I had three runs during the week, two group runs on Saturday, and finally the race on Sunday.

Race Morning:
I loved that the race started at 11:30. I was able to sleep in, get a full 7-8 hours of sleep, and felt rested upon waking. Since I had plenty of time before the race started, I ate a full breakfast and drank plenty of water.

I made it to the race location at about 10:15, picked up my packet, and sat around talking with friends before the race. With about 15 minutes until the start of the race, I went outside to get acclimated to the cold winds. I was wearing a 180S long sleeve quantum heat shirt, race ready shorts, and my yellow knee-high "BEER" socks. For the most part, it didn't feel too cold except for while the wind was blowing, which was all the time. I was bouncing around and laughing with other runners at the starting line. It didn't feel like a real race to me as the feeling of "butterflies" never made an appearance. I actually missed it, as the feeling of nervousness/anticipation before the start of the race is one of my favorite moments.

The Race:
The race is an out and back course which takes us south for the first quarter mile, turns southwest until the start of Mile 2, then takes us west to the turnaround point.

It starts on a short flat section, goes downhill for about the next half mile and then climbs again for about another half mile. We then make a right turn down another road, run a relatively flat section to the turnaround point, then do it all again.

The race started on time. I tried to start my watch when the gun went off, unfortunately, I realized I forgot to set it in exercise mode. I quickly remedied the situation and within about a tenth of a mile I had GPS lock and started the watch. I ran the first mile at a comfortably hard pace using gravity, and I'm sure the wind, to help me finish it in about 6:45. Mile 1 was basically uneventful. Nobody passed me after the first quarter mile or so.

Shortly after the start of Mile 2, we take a right turn and start up a quarter mile long gentle climb as we head to the turnaround point. This section was slightly protected from the wind. I was closing on the woman ahead of me and passed her before we reached the turnaround. I then set my sights on the three runners in front of me, one of whom I knew. They were about an eighth of a mile ahead of me. The biggest obstacle in my way was the strong headwind that awaited us as we made the turn back to the northeast at the end of Mile 2. I slowed down this mile due to the headwind and finished in 7:03.

Mile 3 begins with an approximate 0.4 mile descent, then is uphill the rest of the way. I pushed during the descent and started to make up ground on the runners in front of me. With the strong headwind, I couldn't pick up much speed. Things got worse as we started the climb back to the finish. Running against the wind, it felt as though I was running in slow motion. I saw I was making up more ground and tried to pick up the pace. I can't say that it felt as if I was going faster, but I was at least closing quicker. At this point, it became real hard to catch my breath. Not only was I getting real tired and my abs were getting sore, but with the full force of the wind coming at me, I could only take short breaths. I was finally within 10 feet of the first of three runners and decided it was time to make my move. I pushed harder and passed him on the left. It was getting really difficult to hold pace and I figured I would be passed again at any moment. Then I saw I was gaining on the other two runners. They made it around a woman who was starting to slow. I passed her and continued to slowly gain up the hill. Unfortunately, I just could not find another gear. I was giving it all I had and ran out of room. One of the runners finished two seconds ahead of me and the other finished five seconds ahead. While running the last mile, I figured I had slowed down to about an 8:30 pace, surprisingly, I finished Mile 3 in 7:24.

Since I started my watch late, it only measured 3.02 miles. However, one of my friends had the course measured at an accurate 3.11 miles. According to my watch, I did really have a kick and finished the last 0.02 miles in 7 seconds for a pace of 6:00/mile. As I crossed the finish line, I was greeted by the RD telling me I had a top 10 finish. I couldn't believe it, figured he had miscounted somehow, but it turns out he was right.

I watched my friends finish, then we went inside to warm up and get some food. When they posted the results, I saw that I had finished 1st in my AG and 9th overall. I decided I had to head to the awards ceremony at the Rock & Run brew pub, the organizer/sponsor of the race. I met some friends at the brew pub.  We were finally able to get a table and ate lunch while waiting for the awards. One of my friends won the race, another finished 2nd in her age group, and another finished 3rd in his age group. All race entrants were given a $5 coupon toward food/drink, so I used that to get my lunch. For winning my age group, I was given a $20 gift certificate for the Rock and Run brew pub. Since it's good for five years, I have no doubt that I'll be able to use it.

I had a much better race than I had anticipated and was very happy to have met my goal of finishing under 22:00. I have no doubt that if I put forth the same effort in a flatter course with less wind, I will be able to set a new PR and finish under 21:00. My first attempt will be the beginning of May.

One thing I learned during the race, I need to work on my stamina so I can hold speed over a longer distance. It's now time to beginning running strides and longer repeats and kick my running up a notch or two.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alternate Chili Run - December 14, 2013

What: Alternate Chili Run
Where: Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas City, KS
When: December 14, 2013
Distance: 10.35 miles
Weather: cold and windy with a feels-like temp of 13F
Goal: to push the pace a bit and have fun
Finish Time: 1:47:47

Warning: There will be some profanity in the last part of the report. Please continue reading at your own risk.

Between October 19th and November 2nd I ran a 50K, covered 50.5 miles in 24 hours, and ran a trail 5K. After that stretch I took a short break from running longer distances and kept my weekly mileage closer to 20 miles. I started to get into a rut and decided to register for the Run Toto Run 50K on February 8, 2014. Now I knew I had to start ramping up my mileage and started meeting friends on the weekends to run the Run Toto Run course. Somewhere along the way I decided to register for the Alternate Chili Run since it is the same loop and would allow me to get a better idea of what time I should shoot for as a goal for the 50K. I started running the loop once per weekend, but starting the week of Thanksgiving, I started to run the loop on both Saturday and Sunday.

Race Day:
I've been having so much fun just running the loop easy with friends that I haven't really tried to push the pace at all. With that in mind, I decided to push the pace a bit during the race, but not run it at race effort. My plan was to run the majority of the hills up to the dam (5 miles) and then walk the steeper hills that I know I will walk during the 50K.

I had wanted to get to the race between 6:30 & 7:00 so I could get a decent parking spot, pick up my packet, and relax. I arrived to the park on time only to find a short line of vehicles stopped at the closed gates. Since I would still get a decent parking spot, I took the time to relax and enjoy listening to music. After about 45 minutes, I was beginning to wonder if the gates would ever be opened up. Eventually, the cops came and opened up the gates allowing the long convoy of cars to finally enter. I parked the car, waited until I saw people picking up their packets, then braved the cold and picked up my packet.

The Race:
The race starts and everyone goes across a metal bridge, crosses a field, heads up a short section of road, and then hangs a left onto the trails. I ran at a conversational effort for the first couple of miles and was shocked to see that I was averaging under 10:00 miles.
During Mile 2
A frozen creek crossing during Mile 2 (taken the day after the race)
During Mile 3, we come to my favorite part of the course, the Wyandotte Triangle. The triangle is about a mile long off shoot of the main trail that exits back on to the trail about 25 feet or so from where you enter it. The conditions were slick during some of the many twists and turns in this section and had me taking it a bit easier than I had planned. My pace dropped during this section, but my focus was on not falling rather than meeting a time goal. I exited the triangle to cheers from the great volunteers at the first aid station.

Once back on the main loop, I picked the pace back up a bit and  ran relaxed. The footing was pretty good so I figured I would take advantage of it.
Around the start of Mile 5.
I soon get to a short, but steep downhill section that is basically an erosional gully. It's filled with leaves and a little snow.  I took it easy as I expected it to be fairly slick, but surprisingly, traction going down was pretty good.

Shortly after the downhill I get to the only hill in the first half of the loop that I walked. I power hiked up the hill, hit a flat section, then came to my second favorite section of the course, Fall Down Hill. I let gravity take me down the hill, but held back a bit due to the conditions. I could tell that an upcoming corner was going to be slick and mentioned it to the guy running behind me. As luck would have it, I fell on the corner. It wasn't too bad, basically I fell on my ass and slid around the corner. It brought back memories of sledding on one of those roll-up blue plastic sleds and hitting a bump, just a little uncomfortable. I had some pain in my left arm for about a half mile or so after the fall, but it just felt like a minor cramp.

Unfortunately, after Fall Down Hill is my least favorite section of the course, the Dam(n) Hill. The hill is at the beginning of Mile 6 and is a steep .3 mile section of roadway, with probably .25 of those miles being uphill.

Dam(n) Hill. Unfortunately you can't tell how steep it is from the picture.
As I plan to do during the 50K, I walked up that damn hill, ran the short downhill section, then walked back up the hill until turning back on the trails. This is where we reach the second aid station, also with amazing volunteers! I can make up some time on this section as it is flat to downhill.

After a trip through the "wind tunnel," I come to a short, steep, rocky downhill section and carefully make my way down it. It is during this section that I have hyperextended a knee twice (once during training and once during a race), today, I made it down with no issues. I turn left on a flat section of trail, and pick up the pace a bit since I know of the hills waiting for me at the end of the section.

The first hill after the flat section of trail near the beginning of Mile 7. Yes, I walked it.
I have now reached Fester's Wander. The next approximate 3/4 of a mile are mostly uphill with a only a short, steep downhill section to break it up. After making it through the hills, you are rewarded with a nice, relatively flat section of trail, followed by a downhill section. Unfortunately, you also have to go back up to the ridgeline.

I believe this is shortly after Fester's Wander.

Shortly after above photo.

During Mile 8. Photo Taken by Rick Mayo of Mile 90 Photography.
After Fester's, I make it up another hill and pop out at the back of the boat yard. The section of trails that follows is a fairly decent spot to make up a little time before you start hitting the toughest hills on the trails which are affectionately known as the Three Bitches! These hills are all within the last mile or so of the course.

The first of the Three Bitches I like to call Bertha, because she is big and unrelenting.

Note: Bertha is not named after a real person. If your name is Bertha, and you happen to be reading this, don't take it personally.

My goal at some point is to run each of the Three Bitches, right now I can only run up Bitch #2 and Bitch #3. I do not have names for these hills....yet. As usual, I walked up Bertha. Once at the top I made up ground on the runners in front of me. I ended up passing some runners during the stretch between Bertha and Bitch #2 and another as I ran up the second Bitch.

I almost always forget about Bitch #3 and think I am done with hills, then I get the rude awakening. This time, I remembered about it and pushed the pace until I reached the hill. Since running the hill zaps my energy, I power hiked up it.

Heading up Bitch #3
Once you make it to the top of the final Bitch, it's easy running the rest of the way. I ended up passing the first two individuals in the above photo and caught up to the guy in the red jacket at the top of the hill. I get to the last downhill section and decide to just ease it into the finish in case the course was icy. It turns out it wasn't bad and I could have sprinted the finish, but since I didn't treat this as a race I didn't really care. I was completely surprised to see that I crossed the finish line in under 1:50:00, last year under better conditions, I finished in 1:52:xx.

Now I'm still trying to narrow down my goal. I finished my first 50K in 6:07:xx and it was on an easier course (Lake Perry). Notoriously, the WyCo course takes longer to finish. I'm thinking that sub 6:30 is feasible, but would still love to get a sub-6:00. As I start running two loops of the course for training, I'll pinpoint the goal and try to make it happen.

I received the medal from Ben and then ate some chili and drank some homebrew beer that Ben brought as refreshments. As with all the Trail Nerd races, Ben, Coco, and the volunteers did an awesome job and made the race go very smoothly! A heartfelt Thank You goes out to them all.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Through the Woods 5K RR

What: Through the Woods 5K
When: Saturday, November 2, 2013
Where: Parkville Nature Sanctuary, Parkville, MO
Weather: 44F and breezy
Goal: Beat last year's time of 29:32
Finish: 27:40
Placement: 3rd overall

Past week:
I participated in a 24 hour event on October 26th and finished 50.5 miles . I had several aches and pains during the event, but seemed to recover fairly well. I never had any issues walking up/down stairs. I had planned on running Wed/Thurs, but decided I better play it safe and take more time off due the aches/pains encountered during the event. I didn't run until the day of the race.

Race day:
I decided I wanted to get a run in before the race so I did a 4 mile run around a local park. It went well and I averaged roughly 8:45/mile.  I felt pretty good, but could definitely tell my legs had no spring to their step. Since the 5K was billed as a fun run and was only going to give medals to the top three males and top three females, I figured I had no shot at an award.

This was a small race, but it looked like there were some fast people there. I still suspected I'd finish around the middle of the pack.I stayed in my car until about 30 minutes before the start of the race. At that time, I started mingling with some friends and getting use to the weather. With the breeze it was a little chilly, but still nice enough for shorts and a t-shirt.

Since nobody was eating any of the provided cinnamon rolls, I decided to eat one about 15 minutes prior to the start of the race. At about 10:00 we lined up and the announcements began. I figured people would line up on the starting line so I lined up about five feet back. To my surprise, the majority of the people lined up after me. Mark that as odd feeling number one.

The race started and one of my friends took the lead for about the first 200 meters or so. I soon found myself leading the race. Me, leading a race, mark this as odd feeling number two. I decided to push a bit and see how the race played out.

I was expecting several people to come rushing past me. I was finally passed by the first person near the half mile point. I suddenly had a sense of relief and the pressure was off. My legs still had no pep, but I kept pace with the guy for a while. There was a large hill during the first mile and I walked portions of it to conserve energy. During my walking breaks, the guy in first would pull ahead, but I would catch up during the flatter sections. I was expecting someone to pass me during the walk breaks, but it didn't happen. After cresting the hill, we turned right and started to run an out and back section. The end of the first mile came at about the halfway point on the way out. I ran Mile 1 in 9:28.

During Mile 2, we finished the out and back section and I was able to see my nearest competitors. They were looking strong, but still a ways back. However, I was fading. I decided to start running for placement and not time. As such, I allowed myself to walk the hills. It was shocking when nobody passed me during my walk breaks. I could feel myself fading, but still tried to push. I finished Mile 2 in 8:45.

Mile 3 started shortly after finishing the out and back section. My legs weren't getting tired, they just lacked pep. It was my breathing that was really hindering me during this race. My breathing was getting ragged. I still tried to push, but now I had a pursuer. He was running strong and closing fast. He finally passed me at about the 2.5 mile point. I kept him within striking distance, but felt that 3rd place was secure and decided to run smart and at least keep my lock on 3rd. We made it to my favorite section of the trail, a rocky descent. I normally just run down this section with reckless abandon. Today I was more careful, but still ran down it quickly. I thought about passing for 2nd, but ultimately pulled up as I almost stepped on the 2nd place runner's heels. He definitely knew I was there at that point. He picked up the pace after turning from the downhill and I decided to let him go. I knew I didn't have the energy to catch him and I didn't know if the runner behind me was closing or not. I finished Mile 3 in 8:15. The last 0.18 was run at a surprising 6:40 pace as I finished it in 1:12.

I actually finished a race in 3rd place, this was odd feeling number three. I was spent, but ecstatic. I beat my time from last year by nearly two minutes and finished 3rd overall! For finishing in the top three males, I received a 3rd place medal, a $15 gift certificate for Road ID, a bag that stows in your pocket but can carry 25 pounds of goods, and a plastic, collapsible water bottle.

I am glad I decided to register for this race. I had brought my camera to get pictures of the course, but since I decided to race it, the camera wasn't used. Since the blog post needed pictures, I took pictures of the awards.

Front of the medal

Back of the medal

The bag that was given as a prize

The plastic water bottle that was given as a prize.
Now it's time to rest up and try to decide what I want to do next. Likely I'll just be training for the Alternate Chili Run in December.