Saturday, March 19, 2016

2016 CARA Lakefront 10 Miler Race Recap

This was my first time running the CARA Lakefront 10 Miler. It's a shame I haven't run it before, since it's such a good time and only a 10 minute drive from my house. I won't plan on missing this race in the future!


Goal: Since it's now only four weeks until Carmel, my goal was to use this race as a tune-up and also to get a good idea of what my marathon pace should be for the race next month. Since the weather was near perfect for racing (upper 30s, 8 mph wind), my goal was to run a smart race (i.e. start slow) and shoot for a 10 mile PR (sub 1:04:02).

Getting To the Race: At about 7:50 am I drove east down Foster until I reached the parking lot at about 8:00 am. 

Pre-Race:  I stopped my car near the mile 1.5 of the course to collect my BRC shirts from Annabelle who was working the aid station there. Then I drove another half mile south to snag a parking spot closer to the start/finish area. I sat in my car for 15 minutes drinking coffee until I decided it would be a good time to use the porta-potties.

After the porta-potties, I headed over to the Ragnar tent to visit Mo who was working there. I chatted with Mo and then Melanie came over to introduce herself, and we finally got to meet her IRL! Eric showed up and we talked a little more. I went over to bag check and bumped into Kim and we chatted briefly.

Me, Eric and Mo
After bag check it was off to the start corral. In the corral I bumped into Efriam and Janessa and we chatted a bit before the national anthem. The horn sounded and we were off!

The Race
Miles 1 and 2:  At the start it seemed like there were quite a few runners shooting off at a super fast clip and I had to remember that the race also had a 5k option, so I realized that the heavy breathing headphone wearing set were probably only running 3.1 miles and not 10. I might have held back too much as I saw my first mile was a 6:40. However, I told myself that there were plenty of miles to make it up. Annabelle cheered me on at the first aid station. 6:31/mile.

Miles 3 and 4: It was time for the first of two ascents of Cricket Hill. I knew this one would be easy compared to the one I would have to do during mile 10. After running up and then down the hill, things flattened out as we headed south on the Lakefront Trail. There was a nice tailwind which made life easier. 6:20/mile.
Having fun racing on the LFT  (source)
Miles 5 and 6:  We circled Diversey Harbor and headed north into the wind. I was passing quite a few runners. 6:18/mile.

Miles 7 and 8: I tried to keep a 6:15 pace, but the wind was not letting me. Nevertheless, I was still doing quite well in the passing department. 6:21/mile.

Miles 9 and 10: We then made our way up Cricket Hill for the second and final time. I bet I ran it twice as slowly as the first time and my gait resembled a shuffle. The only thing I was concerned about was to not let anyone pass me on the uphill or downhill. Once that hurdle was out of the way, I put the pedal to the metal and hauled towards the finish. I was passed unexpectedly by two dudes who were flying. Darn. On the bright side, I passed a guy right near the finish line - and he let out an expletive under his breath! 6:09/mile.

I crossed the finish line and got my medal about two feet later!


Overall: 67/1,276
Age Group: 6/75

Official finishing time was 1:02:47 for a new PR by over a minute! My main goal was to PR and I did that. My former 10 mile PR was set at the height of my fitness six years ago, so hopefully this means that I am even fitter now. According to the race conversion tables, If I play my cards right in the next four weeks and if the weather is cool for Carmel, I could get that coveted marathon PR in April!

Post Race:
I picked up my gear and headed back to see Mo at the Ragnar tent. Eric met up with us and he and I headed over to the Lagunitas beer garden. 
Post race with free beer
As we enjoyed our drinks, we stood by the fence and about three people on the other side handed us their extra beer tickets as they left. So we had a couple of extra beers and gave a couple more tickets to Mo and Jakre who met up with us in the beer garden.

Nice cool race conditions plus marathon fitness = PR. Also, lots of running friends and beer!

Next Up: Shamrock Shuffle in two weeks!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Carmel Marathon Training Update

Here's a quick status update of my Carmel (Indiana) Marathon training!

CARA 10 Miler
I have decided to run the CARA Lakefront 10 Miler on Saturday. If the weather and wind are agreeable, I am going to go out at a 10 mile PR pace and use my finishing time to predict my marathon pace. If the weather is bad or I'm not feeling it, I'll simply use the race as a dress rehearsal for Carmel and run the 10 miler at marathon pace.
Chicago Lakefront
After successfully shedding about five pounds this training cycle, I have stopped focusing on losing weight for Carmel. I'm stopping because last week after finishing up my first 70 mile week, I had some very intense almost animal-like protein cravings. For the entire day I devoured all of the meat/fish/nuts I could get my hands on. I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio in the Revenant after he finally was able to score some buffalo meat after weeks of scavenging for berries!

That episode (and my stomach) made me realize that I was not consuming enough nutrients for the intense workload I was doing. If I continued depriving myself just to lose a few more pounds, I would actually get weaker and my training would suffer. I also know that high mileage necessitates extra carbs for added fuel, so I have added in more bread and even a cookie here and there. I feel much better now and am using the scale for informational purposes only. I'm looking forward to gaining back a couple of pounds during taper time. Lots of healthy taper eating will make me stronger for April 16th which is the end goal!

Pre-Taper Madness
Also, last night I got a blister on my big toe which got pretty large. I must have been exhausted when I noticed it, because the idea of having a blister sent me into a "taper-madness" type panic mode fearing that the blister would sideline from running for a few days and even cause me to miss the CARA 10 Miler on Saturday. Anyway, at lunch today I put some moleskin on it and headed out for a few (pain-free) miles. Here's hoping it will clear up reasonably well before Saturday morning!

That's about it for now. Only 30 days until Carmel!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Next Marathon

By the lake this a.m.
Deciding whether or not to do a spring marathon was not easy. I love all out racing my annual spring races like the Shamrock Shuffle, Ravenswood Run and Indy Mini. Maybe not coincidentally those three races are home to my 8k, 5k and Half Marathon PRs respectively. Perhaps those PRs are a result of all the winter training that precedes them or perhaps it's the cool spring race temps. Or maybe it's a combination of both.

However, almost all spring marathons in the area take place right in the middle of those races. So, if I run a spring marathon, I'd either have to not run them at all, or pull back on the stick as far as racing them hard. I would just use them as training/recovery runs and what fun is that?!  Despite the allure of actually racing those distances fast, the allure of running another marathon was even greater. I have decided I will indeed run a spring marathon at the Carmel Marathon on April 16th!  In order to do that will have to forego running the Indy Mini and at best I will be forced to use the Shamrock Shuffle (2 weeks prior) as a fast training run and the Ravenswood Run (1 week after) as a post-marathon recovery run. I feel like I have kind of "mastered" distances from 5k to the Half, but have yet to break and master the marathon distance. The marathon distance is the white whale of my running life, and since I feel pretty good right now fitness-wise, I decided to set sail and once again try and hunt down a decent marathon.

 The lake 3/2/2016
As a bonus, there are a couple of other Chicago running bloggers including Xaarlin doing the race, so despite the 3 hour drive, Carmel will be kind of a local race.

I have my BQ and CQ (Chicago qualifier) for 2017 in the bag, so I am free to experiment with pacing at Carmel. My main experiment will be to try and overcome the sometime large positive splits of my previous marathons. I badly want to negative split a marathon, so that will be my primary goal. My secondary goal is to run a PR (sub 3:05:03) at the race. I think both goals are attainable. That is, if I can run a marathon where I feel in control at the end, I think it will bode well for a PR. So, the question is, should my negative splits be 1:35/1:30, 1:34/1:31 or even 1:33/1:32? I have a few weeks to figure it out.
Training Plan
My plan is pretty simple - put in decent miles, do four 16 mile long runs and then do a three week taper. I am not going to kill myself with track workouts and instead I will rely on my two year old training base to get me through the final 6.2 miles of the race. My plan includes fast finish long runs, so I am hoping to get some strength and stamina from those at least once a week.

Here are my training miles leading up to the marathon (completed weeks in yellow):


Week Start
F^3 Half:


Taper 1:
Taper 2:
Taper 3:

Since the Chicago Marathon in October, I've been focused on losing about 3 to 5 lbs. and I've been pretty successful on that front as I've been eating lots more salad while increasing my mileage at the same time. Right now, I'm pretty close to my "racing weight". Since I will gain at least two pounds during my extended taper, it would be nice to lose two pounds in the next four weeks, so I can feel guilt-free gaining them back in April!

Running Outdoors:
I've been lucky that I've been able to run all of my miles outdoor this winter.  It really is a magical time to run. I have the trail pretty much to myself and the views can be spectacular. Plus, I almost never over-heat, which is my biggest running nemesis. People have called me crazy for running outside this winter, but it's actually my favorite time of the year to run - so go ahead and call me crazy!
Crazy beautiful place to run!
No Pressure:
Anyway, we'll see how this goes. The pressure is off this time around. I do have time goals but my main goal will be to run relaxed and enjoy myself! Maybe that's the best way to approach a marathon? We shall see...