Sunday, February 17, 2013

Keep it fun.

Fast shoes and 6x used racing bib!
It's hard training through winter. This winter has been pretty mild overall but still that dark and wet and cold gets to me. I like to keep a spring race in focus but it's important to keep running fun during winter.  Usually that means I try to get out to trails but this year, I chose to run in the 2 mile Super Jock and Jill/New Balance Winter Grand Prix series.

fun?  Really?

Oh yes. It's been super fun!  Racing 2 miles is over before you know it and you recover quickly. I'd run a 3-4 miles before and 1-2 after and get a decent amount of miles in. I kept a midweek run of 8-10 miles a couple times a week to maintain mileage. I did no other speedwork besides the race fearing injury if I did.  Sometimes those mid-week runs were pretty dang slow and it didn't matter.

My goals for the series were to work on taking some chances in a race, going out hard and not being afraid of it and maintaining focus.  It took a couple races to get the hang of this and to understand how these races went. With a lot of fast kids, the field went out fast but those around me would really slow in the middle. if i were using just passing people as a guide, I'd slow too much.

The last race of the series was this weekend.  So that made three races in a row for the past three weekends. Fortunately this past week was a rest week and I cut my miles, took a couple days off from running and just generally lollygagged about.  Yeah right.

The trick with this race is that it is the chase race.  Those who are expected to be slower overall start first and those expected to be fastest start last. You chase those ahead of you and it is does make for an odd race.

I did my usual 3-4 mile warm up with some drills and strides.  We had to get to the start a bit earlier to line up according to our seed time.  This was based on previous road race finish times.  I've only been getting faster and faster. And as a result had moved up from 4th to 2nd in my age group.  With this race, i had a chance to win my age group.  I lined up and the other women in my age group were all seeded to start about 10 seconds ahead of me.

Turns out, they all knew each other and were really curious about me as I'd gotten so much faster.  It was really fun to meet them all and also explain the marathon I'd run between the first and second races of this series.  "Ohhhhh," yes, they all understood that.  In fact they understood it so well that we all exchanged email addresses.  Hey! Possible running partners!

And as the clock ticked down to my assigned start time, I went! And started a race all by myself with people ahead and behind.  It was very strange. I knew I was aiming for between 6:50-6:55 pace overall but I also didn't want to pass the women ahead of me too early. Since I didn't start with the crowd, it took me a bit longer to get up to speed. It was windy that morning and i used the tail wind for the first half mile and got a bit faster than goal pace.  I took the turn and headed into the head wind and did start passing the first people who had started ahead of me.

In a typical race, if it were windy, I'd try to tuck in behind someone to block the wind.  With this race, no way! The goal was to pass anyone ahead.  First mile 6:55. This was a little slow but felt right. And here I felt i could finally start to pass the women who'd started ahead of me.  It took a bit to work towards them. And just like I thought, passing one gal spurned her on to passing me back.  We battled back and forth for half a mile.  We hit much more traffic of those ahead and I took the shortest route over the gravelly area of road.  Trail running pays off again.  Everyone was avoiding that area because it is a bit tougher to run on.

We made the final turn and were still almost right next to each other.  This was it and finally i found some fast twitch muscles. Woohoo I finished ahead (a few seconds?), had run my own damn race and also PR'd again at the road distance.  13:45.

Yay! Eventually results were announced and I'd tied for first in my age group.  It was NOT the gal I'd battled with at the finish but another gal who'd finished behind me who tied.  I'd done my part though. I finished ahead of all of them, run my race and PRd. It can't get any better than that.

This has been a break through series for me. It propelled me to a breaking a long time 5k PR and got me very excited about what is to come this year.


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