Saturday, May 29, 2010

Race Report: Fair Oaks Volunteer Fire and Rescue 5k Ambulance Chase

After my last race, I knew of my single goal - don't run the 1st mile too fast! I repeated it over and over and over. I even practiced my race start with some strides in the days before to practice my goal pace for Mile 1. Fortunately, because this race took place less than a mile from our house, it was super easy to get to. I got to the race about 30 minutes prior to the race start to check in and do a quick warm up. Temperatures were looking pretty good (low 70s) for an 8:30 am start, but with the sun starting to come up, the air began heating up pretty quickly.


Ambulance chase - This is the view for the whole race for the 1st place runner

I seeded myself just behind the front row to ensure I didn’t have to fight for position at the start. The challenge with the first mile in this race was that it had 2 decent hills, both within the first .5 mile, so pacing was certainly a challenge. I went out at my comfortably fast pace, knowing I was holding back pretty good. Once we got past those 2 hills, I opened up just a little and tried to find some people to pace off. I noticed 2 people just in front that had remained in the same position relative to me since the gun, so I figured they would be a good set of pacers, since they had not faded and looked to be running smooth. We crossed the Mile 1 marker in 6:30, which was about 10s faster than planned, but my legs still felt like they had life and I knew the hardest mile of the race was behind me.

I made it my goal to begin picking up the pace as we started Mile 2, which coincidentally, so did my pacers. More or less, I just stayed on their shoulders. Mile 2 had quite a few turns and I was worried that it would take some kick out of my legs, but I pressed on. I opted not to grab water at the only aid station, because it was located out of the way from where we running (poor placement on their part) and would have cost me valuable time. I figured with 10 minutes to go, I can suffer. We came through Mile 2 in 6:15.

With the last mile to go, I picked up the pace a bit more and took advantage of a nearly .5 mile downhill, because I had to go up another hill, before turning around and back down it toward the finish and wanted to get a good pace rolling into it. I was still hanging on the shoulder of the two pacers and when we finally hit .25 miles to go, I began picking it up some more. I passed one of the pacers on the final uphill to the finish and hit Mile 3 in 6:11. With just .1 mile to go, I opened up my stride and sprinted home, finishing just behind my other pacer, who ended up being the women's overall winner, finishing with an identical time to me. Final time 19:31.

Like most shorter distance races, the biggest challenge is pacing and maintaining the mental strength to continue to push through the pain. In addition to my "don't run the first mile too fast" mantra, I also adopted another - "it's only 20 freaking minutes!". I nearly said that out loud toward the end, when I had to dig deep to keep pushing. Fortunately, I only needed to say it in my head

I think I finally learned a lesson about pacing! I find it funny that my Mile 1 splits were 50s apart between my 2 most recent 5ks, but the 50s slower split yielded a 34s faster finish time. Teach yourself the pace you want to run, so there is no guesswork on race day!

Post Race:

We stuck around for the awards ceremony after the race and I found out finished 1st in my Age Group (30-39) and 6th overall. The prizes were some free bowling games and a gift certificate to Target - woo hoo!

I Listened to Myself!

The short story:

- Finished in 19:31 (5k PR of 31 seconds)
- 1st in Age Group (30-39)
- Time to celebrate!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Repeat After Me

I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast. I will not go out too fast.

Ok, that should do it! After my last race, I don't want to make the same mistake twice. On the agenda tomorrow is a nice little 5k being held close to our house.

More importantly, is hopefully a sub-20:00 5k. I've come so close too many times and at this point it is all about race execution, because I am more fit now than ever before:

  • Start off comfortably hard through Mile 1 (6:40/mile)
  • Pick it up and run strong for Mile 2 (6:20/mile)
  • Give it everything I have for Mile 3 (6:15/mile)
In theory, I should beat this goal, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. Sub-20 is a realistic goal and then we can go from there. That should bring me in at about 19:55, which should be totally doable...if I execute correctly ;)

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Found on Google Maps

Lately I've been a bit busy - with work, life, training, etc. But one of those reasons I've been busier than normal is due to travel for work. When you work with the Government, you don't necessarily travel out of the immediate DC area too often. However, my recent project has required me to travel south to North Carolina. It's kind of nice to be able to get away and explore a new area for a few days, before being whisked back to reality.

So the point of this story is the fact that I've been using a combination of local running stores, mapmyrun, and Google Maps to find running routes near the places I've been staying. Its actually been a lot easier than I thought it would be to find decent places to run.

A few weeks ago when I was on a trip to Greensboro, NC, I went out and started figuring out my run course. Once I had the route figured out, I used the street view feature to get an idea of the intersections so I know where to turn and what to expect. I'm sure you've seen sites that provide random things found in google maps, such as this one. Well here is another one for the collection, because this is what I came across:

At this point, I'd to open up the floor to anyone who would like to propose the story behind this, because I think the whole thing is just awesome. Any ideas?

BTW - I did not have the pleasure of seeing this same sight when I ran through it, though I secretly hoped I would.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's Just Not The Same

Today is "Bike to Work Day" for a lot of cities throughout the country. Here in DC, we set a new record for the most people registered (more than 8,500 people!). I was one of those people. But unlike previous years, where I would just go for a morning ride out to one of the central spots, grab my t-shirt, snack on some stuff, and head back, this year I ACTUALLY planned on biking to work. It's funny too - because I used to live right close to a trail that would drop me off only a few miles from work. Now, I'd ride virtually the whole thing (approx 14 miles each way) on roads with cars. I guess I just wanted to give it a try after all these years of "faking it".

We'll I had my route planned and was starting to figure out the logistics as far as bringing work clothing, "showering" after the commute in, where to stash my stuff in the office, etc. And then I got the news just 2 days ago that I'd have to head downtown for a morning meeting.

Once my meeting was over, I watched lots of folks out on the roads with their bikes, as I drove myself back into the office. I really wanted to be one of those people. It was truly motivating. In fact, I saw people riding everything from cruisers with baskets on the front to your standard commuter bike complete with panniers. The weather couldn't have been more perfect either (mid 60s in the morning up to low 80s).

All may not be lost though - I am trying to convince myself to just give it a try on a random Friday. And I will! I'll just have to work out when. It sure would make it easier though with lots more folks out there on the roads to let drivers know that cyclists deserve the same respect of the roadways. Who knows...maybe it will turn into a semi-regular thing ;)

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Weekend of Triathlony Stuff

I wrote this up last week, but due to travel and other issues, it sat in draft form waiting for me to post...

No – I didn’t throw any surprise races into the mix. I am still staying true to my break from tris this year. However, that doesn’t mean I can be involved in any of them. Last year, I officially became an official. Well this year, it is time to up the ante. Not only will I be working quite a number of events, but I am also movin on up by serving as the Head Ref for a handful of races as well.

My triathlony weekend began by fighting traffic to make it down to Lake Anna State Park for the Kinetic Half and Sprint races. Normally, this would be a simple shot down 95, taking no more than 1:15 or so. But making the trek on a Friday typically involves traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. Rather than taking the straight shot approach, I went the long way, which took about 2 hours in total, but I’m pretty sure I A) Took less time than if I had gone on 95 and B) Kept my sanity, because I encountered zero traffic. It was shortly after 9 pm, by the time I got down to the park.

Due to some unforeseen logistical issues, I could not manage to get the key to the cabin I was originally going to stay at, which was in the park. So I called up Lindsay, who was also officiating (she was Head Ref on Saturday, I on Sunday) and she was nice enough to offer me a space at the house she was staying at. It became even more fun when I got to sleep on the top bunk of a bunk bed…better than sleeping in my car!

Saturday morning came about rather early, waking up at 4:30 to be in transition by 5:30. It was dark, but warm outside, so it wasn’t that bad. The biggest issue with Saturday’s conditions, which for anyone who races on the east coast last weekend would know, was the winds. It actually wasn’t too bad in the morning for most people out on the swim, unlike what happened at some other races that weekend, but it got worse while most were out on the bike course.

It is at this point, that I must offer a word of advice. Just because you have a disc wheel, doesn’t mean you should use it at EVERY race! The cross winds out there were ridiculous. I was out there on a motorcycle monitoring the course and we were getting blown around! I saw so many folks out there fighting the crosswinds and getting blown all over the course. Most of them had rear disc wheels.

In the end though, the race was great. Some major age group competition showed up, with many folks trying to qualify for the 2010 ITU Long Course World Championships in Immenstadt, Germany and the race also served as a Halfmax Championship qualifier.

So with Saturday’s officiating in the books, I went for a nice hour and half run through the park, running most of the run course and a whole bunch of stuff out in the woods. It’s amazing how enjoyable it is to be on endless trails and have no idea where the trail is going to go, versus being able to see the next mile of road ahead when running on pavement. I may have to explore some of this trail running a bit more in the future ;)

Saturday, I was able to (finally) get the keys to the cabin, so I had a place to stay within the park (and with some sweet rocking chairs that looked out onto the lake!).

I went to bed, woke up, and had déjà vu all over again. Except this time, I was able to sleep in a bit more till 6:00 am so I could make it down to transition by 6:30. It was kinda nice to be able to roll out of bed and the race was only a short stroll down the hill. This would be a good idea to remember in case I ever decide to race this.

In my head, being Head Ref brought about a whole set of new responsibilities and ownership of the decisions made on race day. But in reality, my day went a lot like any other officiating job, but tack on a few more responsibilities. Plus, I got to wear the Head Ref jersey (think NFL zebra stripes), which was pretty cool and made me the most recognizable person out there.

It looks something like this, only minus Ed Hochuli's guns

The extra role included measuring the water in the morning (70 degrees), assigning jobs to the officiating crew for during transition in the morning, and out on the bike course, conversing with each official regarding their findings out on the course to verify any penalties that were observed, and writing up the Head Ref Report, which identifies all penalties for the race and is posted next to the results at the race. It may sound like a lot, but it really wasn’t that much extra work (or at least less than I felt it would be in my head).

I guess the biggest thing is the responsibility that comes with posting the penalties next to the results. Typically, once they get posted, a handful of people will come up and argue that “there was no way I was doing that”. Well, here is when the role of an official gets the test. When we write up penalties, we try to be as descriptive as possible.

For example: “#135 a male with age 45 on his calf, wearing a red top, with black bottoms, riding a blue and grey Cervelo, and a grey helmet was observed riding less than 1 foot behind another rider for 30 seconds and did not make a pass.”

Usually when you describe something like that, they still dispute it, but in reality, it was you dude. We aren’t out there to nail people. We are trying to ensure a fair race. And there has to be sufficient evidence of the penalty, such as the one stated above. The individual must be clearly identified in order to issue a penalty and so must the behavior. If it isn't, there is no penalty.

So with that, my triathlony weekend was over. I enjoyed being out there and WATCH the race. I’m still very much enjoying the break. I love the sport, but am not ready to come back….yet.

On the agenda for this weekend...another triathlon

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Race Report: 5k Run for Celiac Disease

So this wasn't on my calendar, but it was sort of planned. Its been 3 years since we've run this race and it was 3 years since I remembered how painful a hilly 5k can be! They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. If you remember my last race report, one of the big mistakes I made (pacing), well you ain't seen nothing yet! It seems that I need to learn these things the hard way.

Let's get to the race:

I seeded myself just behind the front row to ensure I didn’t have to fight for position at the start. With the sound of the gun, we were off and moving pretty quickly. After only 3 short blocks, we took a right onto a 3/4 mile long hill. Still trying to push the pace, I moved up the hill pretty well, with the race leaders only 10 ft in front of me. Once we crested the hill, it was a short downhill before hitting the 1 mile marker. As I approached the Mile 1 marker, I started hearing the splits. I was afraid to look at my watch, because the feelings in my legs as we crested that first long hill told me all I needed to know. As I got closer to the timer, I heard my split. Mile 1: 5:50 – WAY too fast, given ¾ of that was spent climbing a pretty steep hill.

I knew after that first mile split, that I was in for a treat of pain today, because after a very short flat section, most of Mile 2 was also spent climbing to the turnaround, before heading back down that hill we just moved up. My legs were really starting to fatigue and I felt little juice left. The combination of the hill and the act of turning around at the cone, made it a challenge to pick the pace back up. I struggled on and came through Mile 2 in 6:39, a sharp contrast from Mile 1.

Based on my descriptions of Miles 1 and 2, you can probably guess that Mile 3 also included a hill. Actually, it was 2 hills, because you climbed 1 hill for about 4 blocks, took a left to another street, only to find that you have to continue climbing an equally long hill for another 4 blocks. The good news was that the last ½ mile was all downhill. You just had to get there. I got there alright. I just had nothing left. I tried to pick up the pace and did finish a little stronger after I crested the hill, averaging out the last 1.1 miles at 7:53 (6:53/mile pace) and 20:05 overall, which was a 5s improvement on my 2007 time. I crossed the line knowing that I placed well overall, but that I could have done better. After the race was over, I felt fine. I was tired, but the legs felt ok.

Post Race

We stuck around for the awards ceremony after the race and I finished 3rd in my Age Group and 9th overall. Not bad, considering the lack of race execution. I know I could have moved up a few spots with some better pacing and significantly improved on my time. I do plan to run another couple of 5ks in the next month or 2 (hopefully less hilly), so look out for some applied lessons learned and the end to this insanity!


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