Monument Ave 10k
In the past when we raced the Monument Ave 10k, we'd go down the day before and stay with a friend who lives right on the course. Last year, with Rebecca pregnant, we didn't think sleeping on an aero bed in someone else's place made sense, so we we drove down early that morning. Now with Z, we still didn't think sleeping on an aero bed in someone else's place made sense, so decided to do the same thing and hope for the best with the Z man. We woke up at 4 am, packed everything up, and made way for the trip south to Richmond. Fortunately, at that hour of the morning (or night, depending on how you look at it), there wasn't any traffic. We made amazing time and were there in about 1.5 hours.
|Ready to run Richmond!|
|It's called Monument Ave for a good reason|
|Rockin the shades!|
|Support Crew Ready For Action!|
|Having a little too much fun racing|
|Halfway home and looking strong!|
While coming back on the Mile 6 mark, I found myself running alongside them for more than a mile, since there was a parallel trail. I hadn't planned on that, but with the flow of runners so thick and nowhere to cross the road to head toward the finish, I just kept running along until I reached the end of that trail and had to turn around. Eventually, I found a gap between runners and slipped my way through, headed back toward the finish.
As the girls continued to push on, I was following along on the online race tracker. With each 5k split, I could tell they were executing perfectly by slowly picking up the pace and were right on target for my predicted finish time. While playing with a finally awake Z man a bit off from the main finish area, I had just checked my phone and it updated to show Rebecca finish with a 30 MINUTE PR! Her last 5k split was her fastest on the day and she couldn't have ran the race more perfectly based on her fitness - and with a slight negative split to boot!
|Little cheering squad|
After searching for a bit through the finishers area, we all finally met up. It was so exciting to see all these ladies finish strong. Everyone who ran, either set a new PR for the half marathon distance, or conquered the distance for the first time. Such a great way to cap a fun training cycle!
|Team Fight 4 A Cure|
While I'd certainly like to take some credit for their success, they obviously each had to put in the work to make it to the start line. Here are a few key takeaways that I think helped work:
- The backgrounds of these runners varied from those who have been running for 8+ years, to only a few years on an off, but with minimal distance training. While I had them work off similar plans (they all had to run 13.1 miles!), it was important for each individual to work within their current abilities, which is sometimes easier said than done with them temptation to keep up with each other!
- A little less than halfway through the training, I had them run a time trial to both get a gauge of their fitness adaptations, but also reset their training paces based on the results. What we learned was that they had all significantly improved, so we slid their paces a bit faster to adjust. This ensured their training continued to be in line with their fitness progression.
- I made sure to include a systematic progression of workouts that moved them from more general to more specific training. This had two purposes - to adequately prepare them for the race they were training for (specificity), but also to create variety within their training workouts. Doing the same thing week after week, while adding a mile, or an extra 5 minutes, or an extra rep is boring. A bored runner isn't motivated to do the work you ask of them, so I wanted to make sure they had variety, while simultaneously progressing them through more race specific preparations.
- They largely trained as a team. I think there is most definitely something to the group training mentality that helps bring out the best in others. Whether its the pressure to show up when you might not want to, or the drive to keep up with others, it works. These ladies met most weekends for their long runs and got it done. I was always excited to have Rebecca come home and tell me how everyone did. (As a brief side note, for those local runners, now is the time to sign up for our =PR= DTP, where you'll be able to take advantage of a group setting!)
- With a few tweaks and setbacks throughout the past 16 weeks, it was all about managing what could be done when issues cropped up. For example, assigning strength routines and targeted exercises with the onset of new pains. Or implementing cross training to ensure a lighter impact to let nagging issues heal, while keeping aerobic fitness steady. At the end of the day, they each made it to the start line knowing they would finish, which is what you must feel in order to race well.
I had to laugh at the fact that within only 1 day of finishing the race, I was already receiving emails about next races to sign up for. As I do for everyone following a peak race, I gave strict orders to take a short break from running (1-2 weeks) and we can discuss further once we know recovery has set in.
If you want to run optimally, you have to recover enough to allow your body and mind to give it everything the next time. Continuing to train or race when you haven't reached that point will frequently lead to sub-optimal results.