Monday, April 25, 2016

Ravenswood Run 2016 Race Recap

Okay, so THIS was the fastest race of my life...

As a rule, I don't run at all in the eight days following a marathon. I ran the Carmel Marathon eight days before the Ravenswood Run 5k, but since the Ravenswood Run is within walking distance of my house - and therefore takes place on the same streets I train on on a daily basis - I made an exception. Since running so soon post-marathon was definitely uncharted territory, I had little idea of how my legs would respond.

I took four whole days off of running post-Carmel, and my legs were typically sore/stiff but otherwise fine. I did a two mile shakout on Thursday, and another short run on Friday, but my legs were still stiff. I began resigning myself to relegating Ravenswood as a "fun run" if I could not get proper turnover out of them by race day. To my relief, my legs started to loosen up after a couple of "puppy sprints" on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Feeling more confident that my legs would respond on race day, I wrote and stuck up a Post-it Note on my computer monitor:


= PR pace last year (18:10)

5:45/mile PR pace (18:09)
5:42/mile 17:59!

To be totally honest, I was only looking at the bottom line: 17:59! 18:09 and a PR would be nice, but nothing compared with going sub-18:00. Since my first "competitive" 5k 20 years ago, I've always dreamt of breaking 18 in a 5k. I knew I had the fitness since three weeks prior I had run the final 5k of the Shamrock Shuffle 8k, somewhere around 18:00. It was just a matter of how much turnover I could coax out of my legs.

Again, I was not overly confident I could go sub-18, since running at a 5:42/mile clip for 3.1 miles blows my mind when I look at it on paper. However, I've been to enough dances to know that race day adrenaline mixed with a little running magic, can make the previously unattainable quite attainable.

I would just have to show up and see what happened...

I woke up at 6am for a two mile shakeout run around Welles Park. When I returned home, I had my standard pre-race fare: a cup of coffee, and a bagel with peanut butter. I took my dog out for a half mile jog, packed my backpack, slung it over my shoulders and ran a little over a mile to the start area.

I spotted Annabelle and the BRC, then went over and checked my bag with Eric and we both downed some electrolyte drink at one of the booths on the way to the start line. In the corral, I spotted Annabelle and John and I joked about looking for mayor Rahm Emanuel at his viewing spot on Berteau. John said that I wouldn't see him there because he was standing right behind me. So, I turned around and directly behind me was Mr. Mayor in his running attire ready to race! 

Anyway, a prayer was said (I guess they don't only do this in Indiana) and the national anthem sung, and we were off!
The Race:
Mile 1:  The starts of 5ks are typically mayhem and this one was no exception. 70-year-olds and 10-year-olds alike sprinted by me at sub-5:30/mile pace. I don't know why people try to win the race in the first 100 yards, but there you have it. Once they got winded and their pace slowed to 6:30+, it created a wall of runners that I had to weave around. It's frustrating, but I guess I have to deal with it since my style doesn't mesh with theirs. About a half mile in, I was in the clear and made my way up front with the team runners doing more even pacing. I glanced at my Garmin and I was on a 5:50/mile pace so I sped up - attempting to land between 5:42 and 5:45 by the mile 1 marker. 5:43/mile.

Mile 2: I was right on target pacing-wise and did a mental inventory of how I felt and after close analysis I knew that I felt fantastic! In fact my legs and lungs felt better than they've ever felt at this stage of a 5k. I got a little teary-eyed and choked up because I absolutely knew I could at least hold a 5:42 pace for the rest of the race and that in a matter of minutes my "life-long" quest of a sub-18 would happen. Runners started fading around me, but I felt strong and decided to push myself a little harder and stop looking at my watch. 5:37/mile.

Mile 3: We ran into the quaint shopping area of Lincoln Square and the Chicago Brauhaus. The course headed into the wind as we turned south on Damen, but it was only four blocks before the next turn out of the wind and into the homestretch. I made the turn onto Wilson and spotted a guy with gray hair about 25 yards ahead who was potentially in my age group. 5:40/mile.

Tera Moody at the 2013 Ravenswood 5k (in front of the
 Chicago Brauhaus)
Mile 3.15: I finally started to red-line - as I could feel the lactic acid building in my legs and my lungs begging for mercy. However, I was slightly gaining on the guy in front of me and this gave me the motivation to dig deep and find another gear in my gearbox -and I let loose with a fury. I was still behind him as we went down the dip under the Metra/Brown Line bridges at Ravenswood Avenue and started up the incline on the other side. I gave it all I could.
Sprinting up the incline.
Shadow on the left is from the guy in front of me (src).
Gaining on him...
... even
At the line...
My lungs and legs were flying on pure adrenaline and I got him by a hair at the line as we both stopped our watches. 4:07/mile.


Official Finish Time: 17:37
Official Pace: 5:41/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:36/mile

Place Overall: 39th out of 2,984
Place Age Group: 2nd out of 158

PR and my fastest race ever! Never in my dreams would I have thought I could lower my 5k PR by 33 seconds in a single race. I passed the 18:00's, 17:50's, 17:40's completely and it's now down to the 17:30s. I simply can't believe I ran this fast.

BTW: I realized later that the guy I nipped at the line wasn't actually in my age group, but my final push helped me move from third to second in my age group because my chip time beat the third place guy's by one second!

Post Race:
In my endorphin-fueled euphoria I skipped over to bag check and began blabbing to the volunteers that I broke 18:00 and they high-fived me, but they were probably secretly hoping I would shut-up and leave them alone! Soon enough, I met up with the BRC and Chicago bloggers and we were snapping pictures:

Emily, Erin, Eric, Annabelle and Me (src)
While Annabelle (who also got 2nd AG) and I waited for the awards ceremony we got this picture:
2nd Place finishers!
Finally, they called my name and for the second time in my life, I podiumed at a CARA race:
On the podium
After the awards, Annabelle, Eric and I walked to Lincoln Ave, where we all went our separate ways.

I'm going to take a few weeks off from racing, despite the temptation to try and lower my other PRs while the iron is hot. It's probably best to have some lower mileage weeks out of respect for training cycles and not overstay my welcome in my marathon build-up cycle. I have four PRs already this year and three were in the month of April, so I think I will rest on my laurels for a little bit!

I have my eye on the Humboldt Park Mile at the end of May and the Grim Mile once again in June. After slow marathon training all winter, they will be motivation to work on my speed this spring and early summer.

Next Up:
Humboldt Park Mile in May!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Carmel Marathon 2016 Race Recap

I could look at this one as "the one that got away" as I posted an "oh so close to a sub-3:00" finishing time. But, you know what? I ran 26.2 faster than I have in my life and that alone was worth all the time and effort I put into training. For three solid magical hours I felt like I was truly "racing" a marathon.

I'm proud of myself for not giving up near the end - when I pretty much knew that I'd need a miracle to finish the last few miles fast enough to go sub-3:00, I still tried my damnedest and hung on somehow for a pretty big PR and an age group win. During most of my 10 weeks of training, the goal was to simply run a confidence building sub-3:05 PR. My attempt at a sub-3:00 would be reserved for Chicago in October. It was only in the past few days that I had changed my goal from 3:05:00 to 2:59:59. 

I've run enough races that I realize that sometimes I'll beat my goal by a few seconds and other times I'll come up short by a few seconds. That's the way racing works. A PR is still a PR and should be celebrated. I may never run another marathon this fast again, so I should savor the memory.

This was going to be my first small town marathon. I've only ever marathoned in cities with over 600,000 residents (Chicago, Boston, NYC and LA) so with Carmel, Indiana having a spread out population of 85,000, this was going to be a completely different experience. It was also different in that I've also never run a marathon where there were other distances running on parts of the marathon course. This one had a 5k, 8k and half marathon as well. Trying to weave around the half marathon walkers would provide obstacles during the latter half of the race. 

In any case, my friend Dan and his brother (who were both running) picked me up at the hotel at about 6am. In about 10 minutes we were in the parking garage listening to tunes killing some time before we needed to use the facilities. At about 6:30, we made our way to the lobby of the building we parked in and used the indoor bathrooms and when we were finished we sat on the floor of the lobby. I spotted Erin and a college friend of mine and we all briefly chatted, before I headed out to bag check.

After checking my bag (except for my small bottle of pickle juice), I made my way over to the start corrals, where they impressed upon us how international the race had become by having participants from different countries wish us luck in their native tongue. They also mentioned that Carmel is Indiana's second largest marathon. Then a prayer was said (Ed. they pray before all races in Indiana) and then 8-Time Boston Marathon wheelchair champion Jean Driscoll started the race and we were off!

The Race

First Half
I wanted to start conservatively and gradually pick up the pace. The plan was to run 7:20, 7:15, 7:10 for the first three miles. So I lined up alongside the 3:10 pacer and just ran relaxed and tried to fight off the urge to over-speed too early. Erin's husband Jason cheered me on at the mile 1 marker and snapped some pictures:

At Mile 1 (src)
Hello! (src)
The first three miles were net downhill, so my actual splits were faster than planned at 7:14, 7:10 and 7:03. I sped ahead of the 3:10 pacer and spent a few more miles on the meandering course as it wended its way through suburban subdivisions. We eventually separated from the half marathoners (for the time being), and I spotted the 3:05 pace group ahead. I decided that I'd try tuck in the middle of them for a few miles. That way, I could knock down some relaxed 7:00 minute miles and let them do the pacing for me. However, I had to speed up to actually catch the group as their pace seemed to be about a 6:55/mile. The two pacers were having a jovial conversation trying to help the runners relax and keep their minds off of the stresses of the race. After a half a mile, I glanced at my watch and realized that their pace had dropped to 7:15/mile. The pace swings were too much for what I needed. I could do yo-yo pacing on my own! So, I took off and left the group behind. I was in about 65th place overall at the five mile split according to the results.
Running through the woods with my
pickle juice in hand (src)
Finally it was time to get down to business and lock in the 6:42/mile pace that would get me to my sub-3:00. So after a 7:02 mile six, I sped up maybe a little too much and ran mile seven in 6:48 and finally got to my 6:42 for mile eight. So at that point I just needed to hold onto 6:42 until the finish. At the aid stations I'd grab a cup of water and pour it into my bottle which contained what remained of the pickle juice, so the concentration of the drink got diluted over time. Anyway, out of nowhere I heard someone yelling "Go Pete!" and it was Violetta from my team the Bootleg Runners Coalition waving a giant BRC flag! A side-five with her helped energize me and miles 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 were all perfectly done to plan at 6:42/mile. Before I knew it, I stepped on the half marathon mat at 1:30:02 and was halfway home. At this point, I would have been about 10 seconds behind a 3 hour pacer (if there had been one). Unfortunately, the race organizers got rid of the three hour pacer just a few days before the race, which for me (and a few other pace-challenged runners) became a major issue. For 3:00 tracking purposes, I'm going to call this non-existent pacer my "Imaginary 3 Hour Pacer" or "IP" from here on out.

First half split: 1:30:02 (6:52/mile)

Second Half
Mile 14 was another perfect 6:42/mile but after that I sped up. This meant that I was now ahead of "IP" because I ran a pace of 6:37 for the 15th mile. It was a needless acceleration, and the extra effort was close to imperceptible at the time, but there was no need for it. It was my fastest mile of the day and probably took more out of me than I would have liked. At that point I was 11 seconds ahead of "IP". I was passing quite a few runners and had to weave around the half marathon runners and walkers as we ran on a narrow trail. I also had to weave around the third place female (who would go onto win $250) and her bicycle escort. Over miles 16 through 20, I gained even more time on my "Imaginary Pacer" by averaging 6:48/mile which put me 20 full seconds ahead. However, at the time I thought I had more time "banked" than there was in reality. At the mile 19 aid station, I almost missed getting a drink of water due to an angry dad having a bad water and banana exchange with a boy who I presumed was his son. Luckily I was able to squeeze around him and grab a cup of water from the last outstretched hand and topped off my pickle juice with some glorious fresh water. 

Miles 21 and 22 were in a nature park near the Monon Center which included two ascents and descents of this bridge:
Bridge at Monon Center (src)
The sun was starting to heat things up and there was no shade in the park. I could feel myself slowing slightly, and climbing the bridge two times took just a little more out of me than I would have liked at this stage.  Even though I was slowing to a still speedy 6:53/mile for 21 and 22, it was enough for me to drop 5 seconds to the IP. I was 15 seconds ahead of IP, but losing precious seconds by the mile!  At the mile 22 aid station, I spotted a race clock and finally my head cleared enough to do some pacing math and I realized how dangerously close I was to losing my quest for a sub-3:00 with only 4.2 miles remaining. I was thinking a final time of 3:02 (or worse) might be in the cards if I continued to fade like I was. I told myself that I'd come this far and was going to give myself a chance to break 3:00. After taking my final swig of pickle juice, I ditched the bottle and was now "hands free". After cresting the bridge for the second time, the course left the park and headed back through an industrial park area towards the town of Carmel and the finish line. I passed a couple of runners who were throwing up in the heat. I was fading albeit not nearly as badly as them, and felt the race slowly slipping away from me. By the mile 24 marker I'd fallen a whole 30 seconds behind "IP" after struggling to lay down two 7:05s for miles 23 and 24.

Suddenly, I could hear the footfalls from a group of runners from behind who were gaining on me. One of the runners was obviously coaching another runner in the group. The coach was yelling at him that his sub-3:00 goal was still realistic and that it was "now or never for the glory". I knew that I needed to stay ahead of that group, for falling behind them meant that I would likely miss sub-3:00. So I turned on what little energy I had left and buzzed through downtown Carmel's Arts and Design District. My mile 25 pace improved to 6:56/mile. Although it was enough to stay pretty far ahead of the group of runners behind me, I sensed it was not enough to make up the time deficit I was facing. I was given a boost when Erin and Jason cheered me on as Jason snapped these pictures: 

Trying to find speed as I head uphill (src)
I had to swerve around a few half marathon walkers and did so like a man possessed. One of them swung their arms out just as I was passing and I brushed them. They shouted out a loud "jeez!" or something like that, but there was no time for apologies, because I was trying to dart through the razor thin openings between these groups of walkers in order to save a few seconds by not weaving. I pumped my arms and continued to haul up and up towards the final turn. Xaarlin's husband L cheered me on took these of me running the "kick killing" uphill portion near the homestretch: 

 Going up the final hill (src)

I finished mile 26 in 6:55. As much as I had wished this mile would have been net downhill instead of net uphill it was not to be. It almost broke my will as the incline would not give me the leg turnover I needed to fly. I didn't quit however, and was determined to speed up even more. The speed came at long last after the final turn where there was a 300 yard downhill stretch to the finish. As I neared the finish line about 100 yards away, I could hear the announcer say "we have just passed the 3 hour mark", which was deflating, but I still flew down the hill and finished the final 0.3 miles at a 6:34 pace.
Finished! (src)
 Second half split: 1:30:18 (6:53/mile)

Finishing Time: 3:00:20
Overall: 18/686
Age Group: 1/65

Analysis: My official time was a 3:00:20 for an official pace of 6:52/mile. I missed 2:59:59 by 21 seconds, but PR'd by four minutes and 43 seconds. I got first place in my division and the prizes were a 1st place medal and a $20 gift card from a local running store. My Garmin shows that I ran 26.3 miles for a 6:51/mile pace average. So, I probably got an unofficial "Garmin sub-3 hour marathon" because I likely passed 26.2 on my watch in the 2:59:40 range. I BQ'd by 24+ minutes, which means I can register on the first day of registration for Boston 2017 - if I so choose. After looking at the results, it appears that the entire group of runners who were also gunning for sub 3:00s that tried to pass me during mile 24, all missed 3:00 by less than a minute. what if we had all banded together with a pacer, would we all have been on the "happier" side of that number?

I ran pretty much even splits 1:30:02 and 1:30:18 which I feel is also a major accomplishment. I was in 65th place after mile 5 and finished in 18th place, so I passed at least 47 runners from 5 to 26.2.

I feel relatively good over 72 hours post-race and made it through the entire training cycle (including the race) injury-free. I'll be starting the next training cycle at a better place physically than I did the last one. Coming up short in this one makes me more excited than ever to start my marathon training for Chicago - since I'm confident now it's within my reach.

Post Race:
I didn't know if I wanted to cry or throw up after I grabbed my medal after the line. Part of me that wanted to cry because I had put so much into training for this race, come so close to my goal, and now it would be back to the drawing board and a wait of six more months to try and run 21 seconds faster at the Chicago Marathon. I might have felt sick from the heat/dehydration that I was finally feeling the effects of. Still reeling from the shock of missing by such a close margin, I managed to down a bottle of chocolate milk shake and felt just a little better. Then I headed over to the indoor bathrooms to change. A flood of congratulatory tweets and texts flooded my phone, including Mo whose sage advice was to "wait till tomorrow to beat yourself up over those 21 seconds!" which made me laugh and I told myself to stop the pity party. I went back to the finish line to watch Xaarlin's finish and was turning on my camera when she came blazing by - yelling something about a city on the East Coast. Check out her blog and she can elaborate!

Xaarlin, Erin and I met up near the chute:
Erin, Xaarlin and me
We chatted for a bit and planned to meet in the beer garden. I met up with Susana (who BQ'd), Andreas, and Violeta and we chatted and took a picture.

Susana, Andreas and me (photo by Violeta)
Then my friend Dan, his brother and I went over to the post-race beer garden, but they were sold out of beer! I guess the half marathoners had drunk it all before us marathoners could finish. So, we went over to the Union Brewery instead and met up with Xaarlin and crew. After a beer, it was off to Upland Brewery for lunch and more beer with the Chicago contingent. We toasted Jenny and Manny's engagement with some fancy schmancy beer. Then it was off to the hotel to take a long nap! All-in-all it was a fantastic day spent running and celebrating with many friends. Looking forward to doing it again soon!

Next Up: Ravenswood Run on Sunday!

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Carmel Marathon Pre-Race Thoughts

Shamrock Shuffle 2016
So the big question heading into the Carmel Marathon on Saturday is what my race strategy vis-à-vis what my marathon pace should be. Yes, I know I should know my marathon pace by now and for most of the training cycle it has been around 7:00/mile which would pretty much net me a shiny new PR of 3:05.


I have been running out of my shoes lately, setting a 10 mile PR three weeks ago and an 8k PR last week. Based on both of those runs, the pace equivalent charts show that I should be able to comfortably run a sub-three hour marathon which would be about a 6:48/mile pace.


what to do? Part of me just wants the 3:05 PR, but another part of me says: "I may never again be in this kind of shape again, so just go for the damn sub-3:00!" If the weather is conducive to a fast pace that latter part of me will probably win out and I will just go for 2:59:59.  Regardless of which pace I choose, I know that I run best when I negative split, so I will still take it relatively slowly over the first six miles to leave myself feeling fresh for the back 20. If at any point after mile six I feel like the faster time isn't gonna happen, I can slow down and hopefully still crawl to a PR. I realize that this goes against the "don't bank miles" philosophy, but a PR is still a PR.

I've also kicked around running with a pace group. From what I've read, running in a pack is beneficial to faster times and I've yet to run an entire marathon with a pace group. If I do run in the 3:00 group, they will likely start at a fast clip and try to hold it for all 26.2, which may be outside my comfort zone. However, the course has a net elevation drop over in the first half, so maybe an early fast pace would not be as hard as I think?

In any case, I'm really looking forward to the race, which I take as a good indicator that I'm ready to line up and get running. My main mantras are "no pressure" and "just relax". We can never know how much magic a race has in store for us until we start running.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Shamrock Shuffle 2016 Recap

Fastest race of my life

That statement summarizes my 2016 Shamrock Shuffle, but it's not something I expected to be writing here. That's because I've been training for so long at slow marathon mile paces and also because I was running this race just for fun. It's also strange that I did so well, because I'm at the age when I should just be kicking back and reminiscing about my speedy PRs from bygone years, not running faster than ever before. Anyway, I am still trying to accept the fact that I seem to have been underestimating the upper-limits of my running abilities.

Pre Race
I woke up at 5:45am and went for a two mile shakeout run around my neighborhood. After changing and eating a bagel, I drove down to the race, used the porta potties and made it just in time for the 7:45 Mikkeller group picture with Xaarlin and crew on Columbus Drive. I chatted with a few people including Lauren. Then we all walked over to bag check.

After checking my bag and crossing the security gate for the "A" and "B" corrals, I ran another 1/2 mile to warm up. The temps were hovering around 35 degrees with a slight wind, so it felt good to keep moving. After finishing the warm-up it was off to the "A" corral where I bumped into Efraim and Janessa who I had met in the corral of my previous race. I could also see 2012 and 2016 Olympian Desiree Linden warming up just ahead in the elite area. I knew that Lynton K had flown into Chicago for the Shuffle, but I did not see him among the masses. I also chatted briefly with Xaarlin and Eric. Then the national anthem was sung and I flung my disposable clothes over the fence and we were off!

The Race:
Mile 1: Last year, I ran this mile in 6:40, but my aim this year was to be a little more aggressive and run it in 6:20. I had started a little too far back and had to weave around quite a few slower runners who had for some reason positioned themselves near the front of the pack. I spotted Lynton up ahead and made it a point to try and get near him so I could say hi. However it was so thick with runners at this point in the race that it was not an easy task. I crossed the mile 1 marker at 6:10 but the race results say 6:05. Either way it was faster than plan, but I felt really good. 6:10/Mile

Mile 2:  I was finally able to catch up to Lynton and we chatted about his half marathon PR a couple of weeks ago. One of his friends joined us and we all discussed a goal of trying to break 30:00 for the race. However, our pack dissolved shortly thereafter because as we ran down State Street I saw a huge opening in the crowd and darted ahead of them. Jenny P cheered me on and I waved to her. 5:58/Mile

Mile 3: We wound our way through the loop and I picked off quite a few runners and was making my way up to the packs of club team runners. 5:53/Mile

Mile 4: I stepped on the 5k timing mat at 18:30 which is only 20 seconds from my 5k PR! Stunned by this development, a flood of thoughts went through my head:

  • "Could I really be running this fast?"
  • "Am I going to blow up in the last mile?"
  • "Do I belong up here with all of these young fast club team runners? I certainly shouldn't be passing them, they are faster runners than I am!"
To answer these questions, I took a mental inventory of how all my "systems" were doing to determine if I had 1.87 fast miles left in me. I knew that I did, and gave myself a confidence boost by telling myself that I belonged with the club runners. I still thought that at top speed I would only be flirting with a 29:59 finish, so I resolved to not look at my watch and just run. A headwind was blowing against me and I thought it would be a good idea to tuck behind other runners, but as soon I'd tuck behind someone, I would notice they were fading and all I wanted was to run behind someone who was getting faster.  Since seemingly everyone was fading, I quickly gave up on the "tuck idea" and just ran straight into the wind solo - picking off other runners left and right. 5:45/Mile.

Mile 4.97: I kept waiting for one of the fast club members to throw down and challenge me as I passed them, but not one of them did. I was looking for a footrace to help push me faster, but did not find anyone who would do one with me. So instead, I sped past handfuls of runners down Michigan Avenue and easily crested the hill at Roosevelt Road. I made the turn onto Columbus Drive and spotted the clock in the distance and it was nearing 29:00! I then started my descent towards the finish line and it was a mad dash down the final 200 yards. 5:36/Mile.


Analysis: This was my fastest race ever and I crushed my old 8k PR by almost a minute and a half. The final 5k would have been a 5k PR by itself! I got 6th in my age group, which for a race this size isn't too bad!

Post Race: 
I walked down the finishers' chute stunned by my result, and suddenly standing right in front of me was Desiree Linden and her husband. It was surreal to know I'd just finished a race a couple of minutes behind a legendary runner and we were in the same chute. In a couple of months she'll be running the Olympic marathon in Rio! Anyway, I could not work up the nerve to high-five her and besides, isn't it cooler just to let her hang out and chill? After my brush with fame, I turned around and waited for Lynton, but did not see him. Instead I met up with Efraim and then Annabelle.
Hanging with Efriam post-race
We walked back over to the gear tent got our bags and proceeded to put on lots of layers. When Lynton spotted me he asked me my time and he started saying: "Dude you were running freaking 5 minute miles"! That made me feel good. Then a group of us went over to the Buckingham Fountain post-race party. We scored some beer (duh). I chatted with lots of friends including Mo, Eric and Zoe. I also met a few of my neighbors and chatted with them. I had invitations to three awesome post-race brunches, but was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to take a hot shower and a nap - which I did once I got home. Later that day, I tweeted about seeing Desiree Linden and she liked my tweets!

After the 2014 Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon, Shalane Flanagan liked one of my tweets, so I now only need a "like" from Amy Cragg, to have one from all three 2016 U.S. female Olympic marathoners!

About to go home...
The Future:
I'm looking forward to the Carmel Marathon in 12 days. That is the day when I'll see if I can finally put to rest my long time quest for a new marathon PR. Although there is a world of difference between running 4.97 miles vs. 26.2 miles - I'm hopeful for a marathon breakthrough! 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Shamrock Shuffle 2016 Pre-Race Thoughts

Another Shamrock Shuffle 8k takes place in less than 48 hours. However, my race strategy is still up in the air. My main goal this spring has been to run a PR marathon at Carmel (in two weeks), which means that doing well at the Shamrock will take a backseat to my marathon goal. So, although I'll start the Shamrock at a relatively fast clip - if things aren't feeling right during the race - I'll simply slow down and enjoy the course and accept a positive split with a smile. No sense in forcing something that isn't there or forcing my legs into an injury. If I have to slow down, I just need to finish the Shamrock in order to score team competition points and possibly some team CARA points as well. So at least there's that!

If I wanted to "race the race" on Sunday, how fast could I run it? Well, I would say I am in better shape than last year when I ran it in a second fastest PR of 31:13. I've done a lot more miles leading up to this year's race:

Shamrock 2015Shamrock 2016Difference
8 weeks prior to the race total393 miles543 miles150 miles
Average miles per week49/mpw68/mpw

So in 2016 I've put in exactly 150 miles more in the eight weeks leading up to this race vs. 2015. That makes sense since last year I was only training for a spring half marathon, and this year I've been training for a full marathon. Could I run faster than last year? Maybe, but those extra 150 miles have been at a slower marathon pace, so my legs might lack speed this year. My estimated 8k pace is only 11 seconds slower than my 5k pace (6:09 vs. 5:58). It might be hard to coax that kind of speed out of my legs since they haven't had to run that fast in quite awhile. In fact I haven't run a race this short since July 4th!  Bottom line: Last year, I may have had less training, but I had more speedwork which may have been more conducive to a faster Shamrock.
Shufflin' in 2015
I guess we shall see if I even have a race strategy on Sunday, or if things stay up in the air and I make pacing decisions on the fly once the starting gun goes off!