Sunday, January 15, 2012

And that's a wrap!

Trees around Maple Leaf after snow.
The goal race was this weekend.  We've had an extremely mild winter so far.  What are the chances that winter is going to show up on that weekend I have a goal race? After many years of lucking out, the Nookachamps Winter Run Events got weathered!

I was all prepared to run a half marathon, really I was.  I knew what pace I planned to go out at and what I was aiming for overall. A front was moving through with a mix of cold rain/slushy snow and temps in the mid-30s. Drizzle and temps under 40 I can handle.  Drenching rain in those lower temps?  I had my doubts.

There was a large group of us from plus friends of friends and that was fun!  It was great to see/meet everyone including one very new runner who was going to be running her first 10k.  I met up with EC who I did a lot of marathon training with last year.  We went out for a warm-up together and the rain was awful.  And as we turned back towards the start, I realized there was a pretty good wind coming from the south.  Really?

The start was even more chaotic than usual with this race.  All three races (5k, 10k and half) start at the same time with no helpful hints from anyone that slower paced runners and walkers should move to the back.  I couldn't hear anything with the heavy rain.  And without warning, I realized those in front of me were moving!  I guess the race had started.

My goal was to go out at 8:10 for the first mile and keep it feeling easy.  This is a crowded start and as usual, i did see someone trip and go down.  Careful!  I hit 8:09 and realized my shoes were completely soaked.  Hmm.  And oh yes, i was still really chilled even with a tailwind.  the second mile has a long sweeping downhill and I kept it easy (7:45) and was even colder.  And I was soaked. I could feel the crosswind and knew we'd be turning into it after another mile.

And here is where this course is perfect.  At just over 2 miles, the 10k turns off and goes up a hill.  There was no question, I made the turn off and ran a 10k.  It's a really hilly 10k (more hills than in the half i think) adn I didn't worry about pace at this point.  I just wanted to keep it steady and not have a repeat of last year were i fell apart the last mile and realized I had some running form work to do. Much better this year and I kept even splits even with all the hills.  That last mile on the squishy trail wasn't easy but I held it together.  I was a minute faster this year.  If I'd been aiming for the 10k, I'd have started faster too so I'm happy about that.

What was the big challenge with this race?  Taper!  Coach really wanted me to do a proper taper for this half marathon.  I was a little doubtful about how it would play out but decided to go ahead and follow it.  What did I learn?

I completely see the need to cut miles although I doubt I need to cut quite so many miles if I am not running that many overall.  I have been typically running about 30-35 miles per week with either 1 or 2 rest days erring on the side of caution (and weather!). Coach wanted me to cut about 25% of my miles and keep more rest days.  Now she gave me the option of doing some cross training  (bike or row) but as I've had some odd little back issues, I was hesitant to add that in when I haven't been doing much. And, I got so ridiculously stiff that it got hard to run.  I'm not kidding.

I'm on my feet a fair bit at work (going up stairs and walking around) and we debated how much of an impact that has on training recovery.  personally, I think it is a great thing because when I get tired of sitting and need a stretch, I can get up and attend to some other duties.  Coach has been concerned that the extra time on feet takes a toll and I need the strict taper with full rest days for this reason as well.  Again, I have my doubts that this is the case.  I am very used to being on my feet a bit more than the average office worker.  

And then race day, after two weeks of dealing with this, my low back was grumpy and tight the morning of the race.  This never bodes well for having any sort of power on the hills and my hamstrings always feel tight if this happens.  So lesson learned.  I'm "challenging" with taper so obviously we'll be playing with this.

So the race itself was disappointing from the standpoint of I was looking forward to racing a half marathon.  Both weather and taper challenges meant running a hard 10k was a better choice.  Overall it's been a great year though and I've learned a lot.  After that awesome 12k where I was a LOT faster than I expected and held that race pace, I know good things are happening. I'm looking forward to the coming year for a lot of reasons.

And as usual the beer and burger at Skagit River Brewery with even more running friends was wonderful.  We came home and the next day, SNOW!  Woohoo!  Winter, finally.

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