Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Running into Winter

When I'd venture out for a short run over the last eight weeks, after a few slow miles, I would inevitably want to speed up, but was not able tap the power that I used to have earlier in the year. When I would ask my legs to move faster they resisted and I felt that forcing them to do something they weren't ready for would only set me back. So, although I was happy to be out running in the cooler temps, it was frustrating knowing that I really only had one gear - slow. It's only been over the last few days that my hips are starting to feel "normal" once again and I have actually run a couple of fast miles without too much difficulty. So, my "time off" from running may be winding down just in time for my favorite running season!

Suburban running today
No sooner was I feeling slightly better than I started to contemplate racing again. I was even kicking around running the F^3 Half just for fun. I think if I do sign up for a race over the next couple of months it will be more "spur of the moment". That way, I can keep training easy and then just jump into a race without having followed a plan. I know myself too well - if I have a goal race I tend to train like a maniac and that's definitely not what I need to be doing right now. I need my inner coach to tell me to do less intense workouts, keep my weekly volume low and just enjoy the "off season". Otherwise, I'll have to pay a real coach to hold me back!

Anyone else doing the F^3?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 2016 10k Race Recap

For the first race in a long time, I was running the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot without dreams of a PR. I'm in the midst of taking a "time out" from running so my fitness is less than stellar. I've run this race seven times before, so it's an annual tradition for me. Therefore, I'm willing to take a break from my running break to keep the tradition alive. That said, I also enjoy racing and trying my best at a race regardless of how much or little training I put into it. Part of the fun for me is determining where my fitness is at the moment and then come up with a pace per mile that corresponds to that fitness so I don't leave time on the table by running too slowly. Conversely, I don't want to overdo it and run some "painful" positive splits. As for a race plan, I hoped that I still had a sub-40 still left in me somewhere, so I'd try for a 6:24 average pace per mile. 

The weather would be a factor however. Just like last year, an arctic chill set over Chicagoland the day before the race. Temps were 25º. For the first race since last year I wore long running pants to cover my legs and three layers for my upper body. It would probably end up costing me a few seconds but since I was running this race for fun and not a PR, I was hardly concerned about the aerodynamics of my outfit. 

Luckily, I had picked up my bib on Friday, so I didn't need to get to the race early for packet pickup. My dad and I left the house at 8:15am for the 8:45am start. 15 minutes after leaving home, we scored a street spot, then waited in the heated car for a few minutes. Then with about five minutes left, we slow jogged over to the start line. Once in the start corral I talked with John B who was running the 5k. Over the PA system, the mayor of Lincolnwood announced that whatever we do, we shouldn't finish last and that he was too old too run. The race started with a countdown and then several confetti cannons sprayed the lead runners with confetti right after they crossed the start line.

Start of the race (src)

The Race
Mile 1: Some eight year old kids slipped in front of me just before the gun sounded so in order to pass them I decided to floor it and weave around them. I also got caught up in the 5k rush so my pace was too fast for the first quarter mile or so. There was a strong tailwind which also tempted me to over-speed.  6:26/mile.

Mile 2: The wind was now a headwind. I became concerned as my pace slowed and my effort noticeably increased. I wondered if I was going to die a slow death of positive splits, but put my head down and hoped for the best. 6:39/mile.

Mile 3: I started to settle down and locked into what I thought was a manageable pace that would take me to the finish hopefully under 40 minutes. Tried unsuccessfully to tuck behind a couple of runners to draft off of them.  6:27/mile.

Mile 4: We were briefly joined by the 5k walkers. This is the perennial problem with the LWTT: The 5k walkers and 10k runners meet up a few times during the race. Oh well, what can you do? 6:26/mile.

Mile 5: My lungs started to open up, but my legs were tight and just didn't have the turnover that I'm used to. I realized at this point my dreams of a sub 40 were out of reach unless I pulled off a miracle final mile. 6:32/mile.

Mile 6: The miracle was not going to happen with my flat legs and the 1.2 miles of wall-to-wall with 5k walkers. Running past the walkers, I felt like an el car barreling past a platform of commuters. I used a 10k runner to act as my "guide" and when she would find an opening within the walkers, I would dart through the same one. It was like an obstacle course with oblivious walkers taking up the road as our fast race was going on around them. 6:18/mile.
Turn at mile 5.5 last year
Mile 6.29: My legs were burning since they hadn't run that fast in three weeks. Some walkers were taking selfies at the 6.0 mile marker so again another swerve. Luckily the end was in sight and for good measure I passed a couple of 10k runners near the finish line!  5:48/mile.

Race Summary: 
  • Official time: 40:18. Official pace: 6:30/mile
  • Overall Place: 13th out of 477
  • Age Place: 4th out of 71 (these are 10 year age groups)
  • Slowest 10k in 3 years
  • AG medal attained! 

I picked up my finisher medal, met my dad then headed over to the tent to have some hot soup. Then it was back to the car and was home by 10am. The entire excursion only took an hour and 45 minutes! 

Race Takeaway:
I'm happy to have almost hit my sub-40 target, but slightly disappointed that I ran the first mile too fast which may have dashed my hopes of attaining my goal. The extra layers and the cold wind probably also cost me a few seconds as well. In any case, it was a fun time close to home, and I look forward to running the race again next year!

Next up:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Time Out

Over the last 90 weeks I ran an average of 57 miles per week, which got me in physical condition to set multiple PRs this year. Over that time-span I also trained hard for three marathon PR attempts. In between those three marathons - I took only a handful of days off before ramping up once again for the next one. All the while, I stayed injury free, so I started to feel somewhat invincible and impervious to whatever training load I demanded of myself. However, during my post 2016 Chicago Marathon break, aches and pains surfaced that had been previously masked by daily doses of endorphins over the last 90 weeks. What also became apparent - without those daily runs to get my blood pumping - was that I was physically exhausted. Not only did I not have the energy to run, but forcing myself to jump back into my old running regimen so soon, seemed counter productive to my long term running health.

So, as much as I don't like running blog posts about people who aren't running, here I am with one of those posts. This break may last a week or it may last three weeks. I may do a spur of the moment turkey trot "just for fun" in a couple of weeks, but will be going in without any expectations or training for that matter. So far, I have even resisted signing up for a spring marathon and also for signing up for the 2017 Chicago Marathon. Not having any pressure of getting ready for a race is a welcome break after so many weeks with one looming on the horizon.

I know when I'll be ready when I feel my legs start to hunger to sprint again, and the fog has lifted from lots and lots of sleep. In the meantime, I still plan to continue to eat "healthier", catch up on sleep, do some yoga/stretching and strength training. My long term goal will be to resume training at some indeterminate time in the future, hopefully before my endurance fitness fades. I'm not going to let myself go completely, but just enough to get back "that feeling".

Monday, October 31, 2016

Hot Chocolate 15k 2016 Race Recap

This was my fifth time running the Hot Chocolate 15kAs always, it's an opportunity to use some of my residual marathon fitness for a potential 15k PR. However, as I mentioned previously, going into the race I was dealing with some major post-marathon leg and hip soreness. Luckily in the days since that post, I did a handful of recovery runs and was able to work out a couple of the kinks that were hobbling my legs. 

The Expo:
The expo was on the west side of McCormick Place. I paid for 45 minutes of street parking but was able to run up the escalator to packet pickup and grab my bib, hoodie and visor and get back to my car in about 15 minutes flat. The race organizers have had years to smooth out the packet pickup process and it shows.

Pre Race (Run in with the jerk once again!)
I paid in advance for a $13 SpotHero parking space in my normal pre-race parking lot underneath a downtown skyscraper which is about three blocks from the starting line. There is typically a line of cars to get in the garage as the attendant scans your driver's license and does a security check of your trunk. Before last year's race a woman in running attire waved her building ID badge out of the window as she drove ahead of the line and forced her way to the front. At the time, I yelled at her for cutting the line. Well, as I was waiting in line once again, who rolls up behind me, but the same woman waving a badge out the window! This time I leaned my head out my window and stared her down. I wonder if she remembered me from last year, because she didn't cut in front of me thankfully.

Race Strategy
My 15k PR is relative to other races, my slowest PR and thus it's tempting to try and smash it by a wide margin. However, due to my still recovering legs, my main goal was to have fun. My secondary goal, was that I wanted to finish feeling strong. Since my last memory from a race was a painful and demoralizing run/walk to the finish, my strategy would be to run the first 5k by feel and err on the side of running too slowly. Then I could see how I felt and make a mid-race decision on how to proceed.

On arriving in Grant Park, I used the porta pottie. I have never seen as many porta potties in one place in my life. They were seemingly everywhere. They even had about 50 to the side of the corrals so people who lined up early in the corrals would be taken care of if nature called.  Once I was in my corral, a woman sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, and then three cancer patients were interviewed including a 13 year old girl with leukemia who was running the 5k. Her family was going to bring a wagon along so that if she couldn't finish on foot they would pull her in the wagon to the finish. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house and it put all of my fretting about my legs in perspective. Here's a moving video of her story. Anyway, the DJ then played "Go Cubs Go!" for a few minutes, and all of us runners sang along at the top of our lungs until the gun sounded.

The Race:
First 5k:
The Hot Chocolate 15k and the Chicago Marathon share the same start and finish lines, some of the same streets, and with almost 40,000 runners and walkers, the two races are comparable in size. However, for the Hot Chocolate race there are hardly any spectators, so the race is surprisingly peaceful way of running the same streets that were so loud and crazy only three weeks prior. The first half mile was relatively uneventful. Once we found our way on Lower Wacker along the river, I finally checked my watch and discovered that I had run a relatively slow first mile of 7:00/mile. I tried to determine how my legs felt and tried to predict how they would be able to handle the remaining 8.3 miles. All systems seemed to be "go" so I decided to speed up, which wasn't too difficult as we had a nice tailwind for the next two miles. We ran through the Loop and onto Michigan Avenue headed southbound. It was already time to bid adieu to the 5kers as they made their way up "Mt. Roosevelt" to the finish line. 
20:22, 6:34/mile

Second 5k:
Aided by a tailwind, we continued running down Michigan Ave on the marathon course in reverse. Once we got south of Roosevelt Rd. Xaarlin was standing on the right hand side of the street and L and CB were off to the left cheering me on. 
Running down Michigan Ave.
(pics courtesy of Xaarlin)
I started running alongside another guy and we started chatting about race goals. He said that his goal was a sub-60. I glanced at my watch and told him that if we kept up at our current pace, we would have a sub-60. So we continued on chatting and then he started to take off ahead of me and I wished him well. He said I was welcome to draft off of him, so I sped up a little as well and tucked in behind him.
19:36, 6:19/mile

Third 5k:
As we headed eastward and into the wind at the 10k mark, I noticed my buddy was starting to fade ever so slightly and I realized that if I wanted to go sub-60, I needed to separate from him. So, I gradually sped past him into the headwind by myself. The McCormick Place tunnel was a nice respite from the wind, but I had to take off my sunglasses in order to see the potholes. I had no idea how close I was to a PR since I stopped looking at my watch and just put my head down and kept running. As we went up the final hill and made the turn onto Columbus drive, I made a mad dash down the hill and my legs were moving fairly fast but never found their all-out sprinting gear. Anyway, I saw the clock quickly moving up towards my PR time of 59:45. I knew I had an 8 second differential between my chip time and gun time so I gave it all I had and as I crossed the line just as the clock hit 59:45 on the nose!

 19:39, 6:20/mile.

PR by eight seconds! 

Basking in the glow of my new PR and candy bar medal!

Time: 59:37
Overall: 27/11,100
Age Group: 3/379
Official Pace: 6:26/mile

 5k Splits:
1st 5k: 20:22
2nd 5k: 19:36
3rd 5k: 19:39

This was my fifth year running the Hot Chocolate 15k and my fifth 15k PR set at the event! The headwind for the last 5k was a challenge, but my marathon endurance helped me maintain the pace I set after the 5k mark until the end. I also won 3rd place in my age group for the second year in a row, so once I get my AG award in the mail I can display it next to last year's award!

I have now PR'd in every distance I've raced this year: 1 mile, 5k, 8k, 10k, 15k, 10 mile, half marathon and marathon!

My "buddy" caught up to me in the finisher's chute and asked me if I got my sub-60. I said yes and he congratulated me. I asked him if he did as well, but unfortunately he came up just short but was pleased with his time anyway. Gotta love the instant comraderie at races! After that encounter, I got my gear and then feasted on some fondue and hot chocolate.

This race has everything: Easy parking, thousands of porta-potties, beautiful finisher medal, and a chance to run down Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive. Keeping my 15k PR streak alive will be an even bigger task next year, but that's the way it goes.

Next Race:

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pictures from my Wrigleyville Run this Morning

Since the World Series comes around these parts once every 71 years, and I only live two miles from Wrigley Field, I thought I'd do my morning run around Wrigleyville. I was excited to see the sights before game three of the World Series tonight.  My run was at around 7am and it was already a beehive of activity:

World Series at Wrigley? Believe it!
Hundreds of people in line to see if last minute World Series
 tickets become available.at the box office

At least 40 people were already in line at 7 am to pay $100 to
watch the game on tv at the Cubby Bear Lounge at 7 pm

The Bleachers decked out with World Series flags

A dancing Cubs fan outside the bleachers

Murphy's Bleachers with about 100 fans drinking outside
 in 45 degree temps at 7 am.
I can't imagine how crazy things will be near Wrigley Field tonight and especially on Sunday if they win the next two games and are on the verge of clinching. Go Cubs!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

2016 Hot Chocolate 15k: Pre-race thoughts

Hot Chocolate 15k 2015
I've only run four times in the past three weeks. After taking 11 days completely off from running, my first run post-marathon was a laborious and uncomfortable three miler which resulted in me to taking another four days off. My legs (especially above my knees) and my hips have been extremely tight and sore. I only have a few fleeting moments during my runs where I am not absolutely focusing of all of the micro tears and tightness in my muscles. So it's not an especially fun place to be right now, but on the bright side I can still run.

Last week, I figured all of my maladies would disappear by this week, so with one dose of optimism and another dose of habit - I decided to sign up for the Hot Chocolate 15k which takes place on Sunday. However, the condition of my legs has not improved at all since last week and I'm somewhat regretting my decision to pay to race on Sunday. I'm sure that 9.3 miles at race pace is too far and too fast considering it is only three weeks post-marathon. Typically my legs bounce back about two weeks post marathon, but I fear that this time around my recovery may take two months or longer.

If the state of my legs doesn't improve by the end of next week, I'm considering not signing up for another race again until my legs unwind and heal up. That would mean passing up running the Schaumburg Half and the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot both in November. That doesn't mean I won't run at all however. My self-designed recovery plan includes doing short runs five days a week with the sole goal of stretching and strengthening my legs. The speed and distance of those runs will be based on how I feel and not according to a plan, since I won't have the pressure of a race looming on the horizon.

With that said, I am going to see if I can show some restraint on Sunday and just have fun at the race instead of punishing my legs to go fast before they are completely healed. I love (most of) the Hot Chocolate course since it's primarily on downtown Chicago streets, and it's already paid for, so I really don't want to pass it up. If I can keep the pace relatively slow, I might not set back my recovery too much and also have a fun at the same time.

On a lighter note, I may have to dodge still-celebrating (or passed out) Cubs fans in the streets if the Cubs win on Saturday night. Let's hope that's the case!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Chicago Marathon 2016 Race Recap

Race Highlights
BQ-minus 13:57 minute time of 3:11:03 for 26.5 miles
* CQ-minus 3:57 time (Chicago Qualifiying)
* Post-race with fellow BRC team members
* Weather was pleasant

My only goal for this race was to break three hours. Although I failed in this endeavor and am still processing how that happened. I could say that all was going well during the race then gradually I understood that it wasn't going to be my day. Once I knew that my goal was out of reach I even considered dropping out and doing a "revenge marathon" a few weeks later. Anyway, I stuck with it and crossed the finish line with a pretty hellacious positive split.

I called a cab (no Uber, I'm old school) at about 5:45 am, and made it down to Grant Park in about 20 minutes, a few yards from the Balbo gate. The lines through security were non-existant. I was able to secure a spot in the Balbo Hospitality Tent so I went inside and grabbed a breakfast sandwich, coffee and some fruit and then kicked up my legs.

In the Balbo Hospitality Tent
Some running celebs gave some inspirational words as well:
Running Celebs including
 Joan Samuelson and Deena Kastor
I checked my bag at the private gear check then used one of the 100 unused porta potties. Then I made my way over to the "A" corral without incident. Since my goal was to run a sub 3:00 I lined up just behind the 3:00 pacer and just in front of the 3:05 pacer. The horn sounded and we were off. 

The Race

First Half
My legs were stiff and sore as they seemingly never recovered at all during the taper, but I figured that they would loosen up eventually. They always seem to once the adrenaline kicks in and I put a few miles under my belt. I even figured that even if my legs didn't "unstiffen" eventually, I had run more that enough miles over the last four months to at least compensate for the soreness and will them to a 2:59:59. Anyway, for the first few miles I remained just behind the 3:00 pacer. Eventually, I made my way up to the group and tucked in behind them. There was much chatter and I was clipped by a runner here and there. I decided to swing out of the group and run to the outside where it was a little safer. I asked a runner or two to make way and was finally in the open. At mile 8 I high-fived my Aunt and Uncle and saw Ken from the BRC soon thereafter. I chatted with a guy who said he was running way too slowly for his capabilities, but that he would open things up later. As soon as he said this I started to evealuate if I felt the same way he did and I realized that at such an early stage, I really was feeling like I could be almost red-lining, that is my legs still felt sore and it was taking more effort that I would have liked to hold pace. However, again, I thought I just needed to have some faith that my training would take me another 16 miles at "pace".

I made it to the Blogger Press Box at mile 13 and saw Erica, Wendy and Marcia. I got a couple of side-fives and started to feel a little better!
Side fiveing the Blogger Press Box (src)

First half split: 1:29:35 (6:51/mile)

Second Half
After running through the "Charity Block Party" around mile 14, I tried took a mental inventory of how I felt and I realized I was feeling how I normally feel at mile 20. My legs were still tight and the soreness was getting slightly more pronounced. I also felt way more fatigued than I should have at running a (for me) pedestrian 1:30 half (I ran a 1:21 PR in July). For the final time, I tried to convince myself that I would be able to "power through" the soreness and mentally block out the increasing fatigue due to my huge training base.

Anyway, for the next five miles I was able to stay ahead or at least even with the 3:00 pace group. However, I couldn't shake the fatigue that was becoming overwhelming. At mile 18 the 3:00 pace group started to slowly separate from me and I could not muster a response. I knew at this moment what lay ahead for me - a slow fade and then a rapid crash. This was the point where I considered dropping out. If I did that I would be treating this race as a long training run and then sign up for a "revenge marathon" in November. However, I decided that I really didn't want to run another marathon in 2016 so therefore I might as well finish. So, I pulled way back on the pace in order to see if I could at least salvage the last 8.2 miles by not crawling to the finish.

On the back 6.2 I passed Lynton at about 21 then Xaarlin at mile 23. She took these pics:
(src Xaarlin)
The final miles were a slow fade into oblivion and I actually switched to a run/walk in the final four miles make sure I could keep moving and not prolong the agony by totally flaming out and having to stop completely. As I crested the hill on Roosevelt Rd. I spotted the famous guy who always runs marathons dressed as Minnie Mouse. I tried to catch up to him so at least my finish line photo would include him, but I couldn't quite catch him. Within the last 100 yards, my right arm and right side started going numb, but I was still able to raise my arm for my photo. I crossed the line and was mercifully finished!
Happy to be done!
  Second half split: 1:41:38 (7:45/mile)


Analysis: My official time was a 3:11:03 for an official pace of 7:18/mile. My Garmin shows that I ran 26.58 miles for a 7:11/mile pace average. It was my fourth best showing at the Chicago Marathon (out of six). I BQ'd by 13+ minutes, which means I'm pretty much assured of getting into the 2018 race if I so choose. I re-qualified for the 2017 Chicago Marathon next year, but also I'm still a legacy finisher and I can run Chicago without qualifying for the next four years!

 Post Race
After drinking water, a Gatorade shake and passing on the Goose Island, I headed over to the Balbo Hospitality tent, where I grabbed a bowl of chicken soup and sat down for a half hour. Then I made my way over to the massage tent and got a wonderful massage which helped at least temporarily with the soreness. I changed clothes, grabbed a ham on pretzel sandwich from the buffet and walked the mile and a half trek back through the race crowds to the Weathermark on south Michigan Ave.

Once at the bar, I met up with the BRC:

At the Weathermark (src)
After chatting, laughing and discussing future races for a couple of hours, I said my goodbyes and walked back through the throngs down Michigan Avenue to the Red Line station at Roosevelt.

Maybe in some future post I'll dissect what happened to me during the race. But, in any case I hesitate to call it "hitting the wall". I think all signs points to my not being fresh for the race, since mile 14 should never feel like mile 20 in a marathon unless you ran those 14 at half marathon pace! I am now in the midst of a two week break from all running. I'm catching up on my sleep, eating with abandon and taking care of other life things that I put on hold during marathon training. I won't start running again until I feel like it. No pressure, just rest and relaxation!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My 2016 Chicago Marathon Training - In Pictures

As I may have mentioned in my last post, I ran a lot over the previous 20 weeks in preparation for the Chicago Marathon. One thing that I didn't bring along for most of my many runs was a camera or even a phone. On really hot days the last thing I want to do is to wrap a tight Velcro band on my arm to hold an electronic device just so I could take a picture or two. It's much easier and comfortable to slip a camera into a jacket pocket. That means I'll probably be snapping more pictures on my fall and winter runs.

In any case, I do have a few pictures from this summer although they don't really show me training - unless you count races as training!

May (366 miles):
A quick fun jaunt around Humboldt Park in the Humboldt Mile
June (374 miles):
10k PR at the Run for the Animals in Wheaton
The Grim Mile at Luther North track

July (282 miles):
On the 4th of July at the DK5K
Breaking my "unbreakable PR" at the RnR Chicago
August (400 miles):
No races, but I ran 400 miles in August (a PDR). I only had enough
spare time that month to take one picture. This one was taken before a run.
September (312 miles):
Finishing the Oui Run 5k two weeks before
the Chicago Marathon (src)
October (20 miles so far):
My run on Sunday
I'm going through the typical taper stuff - struggling on runs that are barely a handful of miles and wondering if my legs will ever loosen up by Sunday. The scale is also inching upwards as I nourish myself with as much cheese, eggs, and fat-rich meat as I can possibly eat while washing it all down with several glasses of whole milk. I haven't even started carb loading yet, so watch out!  As for race strategy, I'm kicking around the idea of just hanging with the three hour pace group the entire marathon rather than trying to go it alone. I really want to run even paces or a slight negative split, so if I do go with the pacer I'm hoping that they'll have a similar strategy and execute it like a metronome.

Let's see how this all works out!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My 2016 Chicago Marathon Training - By the Numbers

After wrapping up my miles for the week, I have officially finished "training" for the Chicago Marathon. With less than ten days remaining until the race, all runs from here on out are "just-keep-the-legs-fresh" type of runs. My fitness is 100% locked in now and no workout, no matter how difficult, is going to improve things enough to push that number to 101%.

I thought it would be interesting to see how my training for the Chicago Marathon compares with my training earlier this year in preparation for the Carmel Marathon (3:00:20). Here is a comparison of cumulative mileage over both 20 week cycles:
I ran 547 more training miles for the Chicago Marathon (1,607) versus the
training miles for Carmel (1,060) - over 50% more miles. This is by far the most I've ever trained for a single race. 

Some more stats:

Training By the Numbers: 2016 Chicago Marathon vs. 2016 Carmel Marathon

Chicago 10/9/16 Carmel 4/20/16
20 Week Mileage Total1607 1060
Average Weekly Mileage
Number of Runs in 20 weeks211
Number of 80+ Mile Weeks14 0
Number of 50 to 79 Mile Weeks6 14
Number of Weeks Less Than 50 Miles0 6
Last Race Before MarathonOui Run 5k Shamrock Shuffle 8k
 Last Race Finishing Time/Marathon Equivalent Time17:54/2:54:25 29:11/2:52:34
 Actual Finishing Time?? 3:00:20

The predicted marathon equivalent time for Carmel was (surprisingly) almost a full two minutes faster than what is predicted for Chicago (2:54 vs 2:52). Why does the last race before Carmel appear to be so much "faster"? There could be a few reasons for this:
  1. I wasn't racing the Oui 5k as hard as I was the Shamrock Shuffle
  2. Since my mileage was higher in the weeks before the Oui Run 5k, I had less of a "taper" than I did for the Shamrock
  3. I had a lot more cumulative fatigue going into the Oui Run (i.e. more miles = heavier legs)
  4. Race temps were more favorable for the Shamrock
No matter what the reasons, I'll take a gander that a 2:54 marathon time with an average weekly base of 80.4 miles is a more accurate prediction than a predicted 2:52 supported by an average base of 50.3 miles/week. Therein may be the problem with my frustration in predicting marathon times using shorter distances. Marathons demand a higher base mileage so you can "hold pace" from mile 20 through mile 26.2. I can always count on race day adrenaline and leg speed carry the day for races 13.1 miles or less. However, the adrenaline in a marathon wears off for me after mile 18 or 20 and I need to "fall back" on my base mileage for the remaining handful of miles. Yes, a 50 mile training base can let me run a decent and even marathon pace for 20 miles, but then things start gradually slipping away. For Chicago '16 I'm putting my chips on the fact that my volume will allow me to hold onto that adrenaline fueled pace for the remaining 6.2 miles.

We shall see....

Monday, September 26, 2016

Oui Run 5k Race Recap

I'm in the middle of my four week Chicago Marathon taper and I normally like to reserve my tapers solely for rest and recovery. However, I couldn't pass up running the inaugural "Oui Run 5k" during my taper since it was taking place so close to my house. Besides - I figured running a 5k during this time frame would not only inject some life into my tired legs, but at the same time it would be a confidence boost if I could run a 5k in a sub three hour marathon equivalent time (sub 18:28) heading into October.

Over the last two months I have pretty much run all slow, marathon training type miles and not anything near the speedy miles that a 5k demands. In fact, I hadn't run a fast (i.e. sub 6:00) mile since the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in July. Would I be able to run three in a row at this race?

After walking the dog, I ran a 5.3 mile shakeout run. Then I got my dad and we ran another mile over to the race. Once there I ran around the block and used the facilities which surprisingly had no lines.

The Race:
The Oui Run 5k starts and finishes on the campus of the Lycée Français de Chicago on Wilson where the students speak French all day in each of their classes.

"Oui Run" Start (I'm on the right side of the middle pylon) (src)
Lining up at the start line, French was essentially the only language I heard as I was packed in with the students from the school. It was strange to hear so many American kids speaking to each other in French. I sensed a lot of excitement in their voices as pretty much everyone knew each other and were anxious to tear down the street and race right in front of their school. I stepped forward right behind the line and then the race director sounded the horn and we were off!

Mile 1:
So many kids shot out in front of me at a 5:00/mile pace that I intentionally sped up so I didn't get passed by too many more. I knew it was foolish for me to start so fast, but I really don't like getting boxed in by runners who had gone out too fast. After the initial mayhem, I wove my way up to about sixth place by the half mile mark. As I settled in behind the runners ahead of me, I started to evaluate my competition. The fourth and fifth place runners were wearing headphones, so I immediately took them off of my mental list of those that would be competitive and passed them with confidence. I tucked in behind the second and third place guys, and as I glanced at my Garmin, I noticed that we were actually starting to slow down ever so slightly. This was a good sign for me, as I knew I could easily hold my current pace for another two and a half miles and that they were already slightly fading. I passed them and was soon in 2nd place. The lead runner was still out in front of me as we passed the "Mile 1" marker in Lincoln Square and we headed east on Lawrence. 5:46/mile.

Mile 2:
As the first place runner and I began to head eastward on Lawrence, I decided to make my move to get into first place. I stepped on the gas and slowly passed him. He sped up to match my surge, but when I noticed this, I poured on even more speed. Suddenly I was leading the race all by myself! I then tucked in behind the four bike escorts. Since I occasionally like to chase after bikes as a fartlek exercise on the Lakefront Trail, I locked my gaze on their rear tires and started to fly along with them, just like I was running on the trail. As we headed south on Ravenswood Avenue, a car from the east started to make its way onto the course. One of the lead bikers sounded a really loud horn and chased the car down and got it to turn around. He rejoined the other bikers soon thereafter. Whew! Most of the volunteers along the course were shouting encouragement in French: "Allez Allez!" 5:36/mile.

Mile 3:
Once I had established the lead - the pressure was on to not relinquish it. Not knowing how far ahead I was, and not wanting to look backwards, I mentally timed how many seconds it took for spectators who cheered for me to once again start cheering for the second place runner. At first it was a few seconds, but as I kept up a fast pace, eventually I could no longer hear cheers for the second place runner behind me. Since I hadn't run a sub-6:00 mile in over two months and was in the middle of my third consecutive one - my lungs started to feel the strain! However, my legs felt great and I knew I could at least hold on to my pace until the finish. 5:46/mile.
Making the final turn (src)
No one behind me (src)
Starting to raise my arms (src)
Mile 3.1
Still by myself, I made the final turn back to the campus and saw the finish line ahead. I poured on what remaining speed I had because I didn't want someone to come out of nowhere to challenge me. Before I crossed the finish line, the announcer said, "there is no one behind you at all!" and "dude, were you wearing roller blades out there?" I raised my arms up and was done!  4:45/mile.
La victoire! (src)

  • Official Time: 17:54
  • Age Group: 1st out of 36
  • Overall: 1st out of 559
Second fastest 5k ever and the third time I've ever won a race in my life. 10 seconds per mile faster than plan, but I'll take it, especially since I won the race. I think the mid-race surge to take the lead explains my (somewhat) uneven splits. In any case, so much for worrying about how slow my "marathon legs" had become! 

Post Race:
The race director ran over to congratulate me and to make sure I was okay. After telling him I was fine, I grabbed a banana and Gatorade and watched a few runners cross the finish line before I headed back out onto the course to run with my dad. I caught up with him and ran with him to the finish.

We had to wait about an hour before the awards ceremony due to the three kids races that were being held after the 5k. So we enjoyed some of the post-race goodies which included french pastries, ham and cheese baguette sandwiches and cold foamy espresso on tap! Finally the ceremony started and they called my name and I accepted my medal on the stage. My prizes included a free entry to the 2017 Shamrock Shuffle, a gift certificate to a running store and a three month pass to the local gym! 
Accepting my Medal
My dad won his age group and got his medal on the stage as well. After he got his award we walked home. 

It was fun to race a local 5k and was a great feeling to attain and actually hold onto the lead for a mile and a half for the win! However, my real goal race has always been the Chicago Marathon. My 5k time bodes well for a sub-3:00:00 marathon, but it doesn't mean I will definitely do it. Racing 26.2 miles is completely different than racing 3.1, so I need to keep that in mind when I do the conversion. Over the next 13 days I am going to focus as best I can to be rested and relaxed so I can set myself up for success on October 9th!

Next Up: Chicago Marathon in 13 days!