This weekend turned out to be an unexpectedly big weekend on the training front. On the plan was a long ride on Saturday and the Patriot's Cup 8k race on Sunday. This weekend was definitely billed as a training weekend, with no intent to "race" the 8k, since I would be running on wasted legs from the long ride the day before.
Saturday, I loaded up the bike and drove out to Glen Echo to meet the other HIPsters who were doing the planned ride. The ride called for options of 30, 40, or 55 miles. You can guess which one I chose. I rode 40 miles last week (and suffered through it on a flat course), so I needed to progress in my training to be ready for the Crystal Ride road race in a month. However, I was not looking forward to it, because the planned ride was pretty hilly, through Potomac and out to Poolesville and back. If I was going to feel anything like I did last week, I would be in for a long and painful day. Below is the route:
Because my longest ride to date this year has been 40 miles (and I felt terrible on it), I didn't want to go too hard out of the gate on this ride. I knew there were hills, which have burned me in the past toward the end of my rides, so my plan was to go out comfortably and ride in easier gears than I typically would for the first half, and then see how I felt and try to ride a bit harder for the second half.
About an hour or so into the ride, with the miles clipping by pretty quickly, we ran into a sheet of rain coming down. This was just as we were hitting the hills of River Rd and on our way out to Poolesville, so we were at the furthest point from the cars. Despite the thoughts in my head of just turning around, I realized that turning around was no different than finishing the ride! So into the rain and hills we pressed. It was ugly, windy, and wet but eventually the rain stopped and to roads started to dry out a bit. I was glad too, because the return ride back on River Rd has a lot of big hills and without being able to fly on the downhills due to the wet roads, that would mean I would actually have to work to climb the whole hills, rather than coast into the hill with some good pace and spin up the rest of the way. So we hit the turnaround of the ride in "downtown" Poolesville and I was really feeling great. I pressed on and starting increasing my level of effort. Turns out, I was able to hold a strong effort for the rest of the ride, passing a bunch of other cyclists on the roads and seperating myself from the group I was with, who seemed to be hitting a hall at about 40 miles into the ride. With only one slight wrong turn, we rounded out at an even 56 miles, with an average pace of about 18 mph. Not bad for a hilly course with some rain mixed in! Workouts feel so much better when you negative split them, don't they?
Sunday brought about more rain! And I had a race to run. I'll save the details for a formal race report, but my legs felt awesome, despite the long ride the day before. While I didn't "race" the course, I ran it pretty darn hard. My unofficial time from my watch was 33:19, which turned out an average pace of 6:42/mile. Though I've never run another 8k race (an automatic PR!), my splits and average pace would have also worked out to a 10k PR from my recent time at the Ukrop Monument Ave 10k. Using the McMillan Running Calculator, my projected 10k time would be 41:59, which factors in a slowdown in my pace over the remaining 2k that I would have run. I try not to read too much into these predictions, but in a race so close to the distance, I have figure I would hit a time close to that, if not slightly faster. I felt great in the race and as I was coming to the finish line I was thinking to myself that I could definitely have held this pace and even put in a stronger kick (Remember - I didn't race this, it was a training run, so I didn't want to completely waste myself) for 2k more. So while I can't claim this race as a 10k PR, at least I know there is a high likelihood that I could crack 42 minutes in the 10k, without honestly doing any speedwork. I'll save that for next time I guess.
I'm also not sure of my final standing, as I ran a good chunk of the race alone between pack groups. After the first half mile, nobody passed me and I probably passed about 3 or so people total. It was a well paced effort by myself and those around me. I'll have to wait till the final results are posted, but my work's running club, which was one of the sponsors of the race won the overall co-ed team competition. We took home a trophy and smiled for the cameras on stage. And I got a few other goodies. Details and maybe a photo or two to come!