Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pictures from my Lakefront Run during Bike the Drive

I did my long run today and little did I know it, but it was also the morning for Bike the Drive. It was nice to run along Lake Shore Drive and not hear the roar of engines and smell car exhaust. It was also a picture perfect day for a run. I bumped into Lauren who was running the other direction, so I turned around, and we were able to run and chat for about a quarter mile. The Lakefront Trail was mostly bike-free since pretty much anyone on a bike was riding on LSD.

Me and the Bikers
Cruisin' along Belmont Harbor
"Empty" Trail
Lakefront Dandelion Field
Wavin' at my Camera
Got to run with Lauren for a little while
Biker taking a break
Dandelion and Skyline
View from North Ave. bridge
Another View from the Bridge
I ended up running/walking/picture taking for 15 miles in just over two hours (for 8:06/mile). It would be nice if "Bike the Drive" was every weekend. Hopefully these mild morning temps stay around for awhile (like through August)! :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Summer Race Schedule

Good news! I am still running. However, I am going to physical therapy tomorrow to work on my ankle/PF issues. My main goal from PT is to learn some strengthening exercises for my plantar fasciitis. If I happen to get some relief from the sessions as well that would be a bonus.

My Wurst Track Club workout last week (number of attendees: 1)
In years past, around this time of the year, I would get a nice break to heal from my injuries because I would stop racing from mid-June until late August mostly due to not wanting to run in the high temps. However, there are now more and more fun summer races, so it is harder to sit on the chaise lounge sipping a Mai Tai waiting for fall race season to start. If I do run summer races, I want to keep my focus on getting in PR shape for the Chicago Marathon in October, so I don't want to overdo it with too much summer speed, however I figure as long as I try and play it smart and not kill myself (i.e. get put in injury jail) during June and July, maybe I can have some fun and fast shorter races. So, I came up with a list of races that I am either registered for or strongly considering running:

My (potential) summer race schedule:

  1. Roselle Run for the Roses 5k 6/1/14 (May run) I would run this one mainly to try and score some CARA points for my running team - Bootleg Runners Coalition. However, since it's only a 5k, it will be a popular race and lots of speedy runners will be there, so I may not place too high. The trek all the way out to the burbs for 19.5 minutes of running might not be worth the effort for a single point or two.
  2. 13.1 Half Marathon 6/7/14 (Registered) also a CARA race. I ran this last year after winning a free entry, and as luck would have it, I won another entry this year! I initially had some lofty goals of besting my 2014 Indy Mini Marathon time of 1:29, but since I have not had much mileage lately, I may use it as a fast training run and just be happy with a 1:30 to 1:35 instead.
  3. Run for the Stars 5k 6/14/14 (May run) I may trek out to the 'burbs to run this 5k with my dad. I would not taper for this one = purely be for fun.
  4. Dennis Krzykowski Memorial 5K Run 7/4/14 (May run) I've run this four years in a row and am looking forward to the fifth installment. It's in Wisconsin and there are plenty of brats grilling and there is a raffle afterwards for cases of Wisconsin beer. Another draw to this race is that there is a massive uphill over the last half mile. Completely a lung buster, but it's unlike any 5k I've run in Illinois.
  5. Rock and Roll Half Marathon Chicago 7/20/14 (Registered) Despite being held in the late July heat, this is my favorite half marathon, since the course winds its way through downtown Chicago. I had an absolute blast last year running with Xaarlin and Sara.
After that, I am going to keep August open to focus all of my attention on Chicago Marathon training. My goal for August will be to try to pound out as many PR marathon pace miles as possible. I may throw in the Chicago Half Marathon in September as a tune-up race. 

Anyone else have any fun races planned for the summer?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon 2014 Race Recap

I believe this was my sixth running of the Indy Mini Marathon. It is the largest half marathon in the country and it's the home of my half PR set way back in 2010. There was a time when I would train all winter almost solely for this half marathon. I would do bunches of 15 mile long runs and once a week run half marathon specific track workouts that built my speed for 13.1. But since then I've discovered full marathons, and shifted my winter training to marathon workouts and thus my half times have suffered. This year, however, I did not plan a spring marathon since I was dealing with an injury December through February. Once I was better, I targeted my training specifically for this race over the last eight weeks.

So, what would be my race goal? Well, based on my Ravenswood Run 5k finishing time from last week, the McMillan calculator put my fitness at just above a 1 hour 30 minutes for a half marathon. So:

 "A" goal was go sub-1:30.
 "B" goal would be to go sub 1:33 (especially if the conditions on race day weren't favorable)

I knew that in Minis past, I would run about 13.30 miles for the race, so I would need to get close to a 6:45 average mile pace to go sub-1:30. I wanted to start conservatively, since I saw that we would have a slight headwind for the first third of the race and a tailwind for the last third. So I targeted a 7:20, 7:10 start with a progressive drop in pace to around 6:30/mile over the last few miles. The main thing was to have confidence that I would run some fast finishing miles, so that I could relax and run a few early, slow miles.

Indianapolis is less than a three hour drive from Chicago, but it is in the Eastern time zone, which is an hour ahead of Chicago time. So, waking up at the hotel at 4:45 ET am to get ready for the race meant that my body thought it was 3:45 am. I downed a cup of coffee, along with a peanut butter bagel and a banana. I packed my race bag and drove from the hotel to the race. I found a $10 spot about four blocks from the start line. I used the ample facilities, and checked my bag. Recently, the race instituted wave starts (15 minute apart). In races past, when everyone started at the same time, thousands and thousands of runners would mill about pre-race in the park adjacent to the corrals. However, this year it seemed only like a few hundred were milling around. This is probably due to the fact that some of the later start waves did not start for another hour and those runners had not even arrived yet.
Pre-race hanging out. Where is everyone?
I made my way to corral "B" which closed at 7:30 am. Then we had to wait about 18 minutes for the race to start. During those 18 minutes, I realized the conditions were near perfect, that I felt fantastic, and that I would almost without a doubt be able to hit my "A" goal. The one caveat would be to start conservatively. If I did that I told myself my race goal would be mine for the taking. The National Anthem was sung, the wheelchairs started, and we were off to the roar of the engines (over the loudspeakers)!
Time to play: "WHERE'S PETE B?"
Picture of me crossing the line at the start of the race.
(Hint: See guy with white hat at the tip of the red arrow).
The Race:
Miles 1 through 3:  I headed across the start line at 7:48:26 am (see pic above). Then headed by the Indianapolis Zoo and people in animal costumes waved. I believe there was an actual elephant that they brought near a fence to watch the race too. I looked at my watch and noticed I was going too fast, so I slowed down. A preacher was proselytizing and several kick-ass bands were jamming along the course. I flashed them the devil horns. I felt fantastic. 7:03/mile
Having fun during mile one!
Miles 4 through 6: These are some laid back miles through industrial areas. The wind was in our faces for most of the time, so per the plan, I did not push it. I kept reminding myself to leave something for the tailwind at the end. We passed a two-steppin' dance troupe! 6:44/mile

Miles 7 through 9: We entered the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by running down a steep ramp. Since it was steeply downhill, I put on a small speed exhibition and whizzed by a dude with headphones on. I think I must have startled him because he shouted something like "hey! hey!". Sorry dude that you couldn't hear my footfalls behind you! Anyway, this is the coolest part of the course - needless to say. The race track is pretty flat on the straightaways, but banked on the turns. Fortunately, if you ran low enough around the inside lane, it was not too bad on the ankles. Some people kissed the "Yard of Bricks" as they made their way toward Turn One. We left the course and headed back to the city and ran by a group of square dancers! 6:41/mile

Making my way around the Indy 500 track
Miles 10 through 12: I started doing mental calculations on what I needed to run for the last few miles to reach a sub-1:30. I figured that I needed something around 7:00/miles for the remainder and I would be okay. I did an endurance check and felt confident (barring a sudden injury or shift of wind direction) that I would easily be able to do sub 7:00s. The wind was a tailwind, so I picked up my pace and focused on pounding out the last few miles with conviction. 6:33/mile

Miles 13 and 13.25 There was a long up-hill over a bridge for the final 1.25 miles, then a nice little downhill to flat ground which starts the mile long sprint to the finish. Over the loudspeakers they played Jim McKay announcing the end of a Indy 500 race from circa 1969: "He's going around the last turn and Andretti will win the 500 mile race!" By the large clock over the finish line, I saw that a sub-1:29 was not within reach, but I knew that I would go sub-1:30. I ran by the grandstands of cheering spectators and my race ended! 6:27/mile

Update:  Just found a video of my finish. I appear at the right of the screen at about 10:16 (I'm wearing a gray shirt and white hat). The "red clock" on the video says 1:29:15 I finish at about 1:29:29:

I stopped my Garmin after I crossed the finish line. A few seconds later, a man handed me a medal and said "This is a special medal for the top 500 finishers, congratulations!". I said thanks and  then looked down at my watch for my finishing time. 

Official Time: 1:29:13  ("A" Goal accomplished!)
Official Pace: 6:48/mile
Garmin Pace: 6:44/mile

Place Age Group: 12th out of 1,396
Place Overall: 351 out of 28,936

Analysis: Sweet negative split. It felt fantastic to set a goal and then simply nail it. An A+ race day!

Post Race: 
I walked down the finishers' chute and collected my second medal for finishing. I grabbed some snacks, got a photo with my medals and headed back to the hotel.

Post Race with my two medals
Near the finish line

The Future: Post-race, my legs feel like they have rebounded nicely. So after a couple of rest days, I will set my sights on training for the Chicago 13.1 Half Marathon which takes place in early June. I should be able to get in a couple of more high mileage weeks in until then. So if conditions are right, I'd like to shoot for a sub-1:28 half for that race.