Sunday, November 27, 2011

Learning something

I've got the lyrics of this song spinning around in my head. Bow River is the song — you can see it on Youtube. "I've been working hard, twelve hours a day; the money I've saved won't buy my youth again." Okay, I don't want to buy my youth again — I just want to work eight hour days, not the eleven hour ones that have been more common for me lately than sub-2:06 marathons have been for Kenyan runners.

I raced twice again this past week. On Tuesday a 5k and on Thursday a 1500. Both races were an education. Loved Tuesday's race! Decided beforehand my tactics and executed them perfectly. My goal was to finish ahead of my long-time rivals Charlie and Jim by starting 'slowly' and gradually picking up the pace. It was an exact 3-lap course of 1.7k per lap, about 1/4 on a bike path and the rest on reasonable grass. I started the race at a comfortable effort, running with Geoff and Tori early. The first lap felt pretty easy. There was a large finish clock so I couldn't employ my 'no watch' method of running. 8:04 for the first lap and caught Charlie soon after. The funny thing about the next two laps is that I thought I was picking up the pace quite a bit but they passed in 8:01 and 8:00. I now have a better understanding about how 'even paced' running feels. I caught Jim with about 400 metres to go. 24:05 sounds slow but I was more in the 'tempo' HR range for this 5k (AHR of 146) and it wasn't a quick course.

On Thursday I raced my first 1500 metre event since early 2010. It wasn't pretty! Had 27th (and last) place sown up after 50 metres. Throughout I was desperately trying to stick with Janene (and Roger ahead of her), while feeling very ordinary and realising early on the finish time was going to be outside six minutes. Janene broke the elastic with about 600 to go. I ran 6:13.60, possibly my slowest ever 1500 in which I'd been trying. Splits were 95, 101, 103 and 73 (300m). Thankfully I was wearing the heart-rate monitor. My average (143) and max (157) readings told me my body/legs were just too tired to run fast. I'd expect 153 and 160-163 in a normal 1500 metre race.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Barrenjoey Drive 5k

I enjoyed another good race last Tuesday evening at the YCRC 'Summer Series' event down by Lake Burley Griffin. It was a 3-lap course with about half of each lap on a smooth gravel road and the remainder on a narrow winding trail. No hills to speak of. In the comments on my last post Canute talked about racing 'in the moment' and Lize of leaving the watch behind for races. Well, I didn't leave the Garmin behind, but with the discipline of a Trappist Monk, managed not to look at it once, so ended up with an 'in the moment' race experience.

The afternoon was warm and balmy — about 26 Celsius (the BOM said the 'apparent' temperature was 22), so I was happy to jog a one-lap warm-up with Maria and Tori. I lined up one row back on the left side of the road and ran off at what I guessed was the correct level of effort for a 5k race. After a couple of hundred metres I settled in near Charlie and Ken. Susie and Lucy were just ahead with a fair gap to Hannah, Maria, Kym, Jim and Craig. We turned left onto the narrow trail and it was Lucy's blue shirt that I followed. The second lap saw us overtake Hannah while gaining ground on Maria and Jim. Onto the narrow trail for the last time I managed to slip by Jim before putting in a major effort to pass Lucy, doing so just before the trail turned right onto the (thankfully) shortest finish straight in history. My time was 22:22, so 26 seconds quicker than for the Boathouse 5k. Lucy and Susie were one second behind and Maria (who had been out of sight on the winding section) 3 seconds ahead.

Two days later I ran in the ACT Veterans' 1 hour track race. I guess I'm a sucker for punishment! Wasn't quite on my game for this one and ran 12,568 metres, 243 short of what I ran in last year's event. Pace works out at 4:46 per km (7:41 per mile), which for me is quite quick considering I wasn't feeling fully recovered from Tuesday's race.

I really think 'recovery' is the one aspect of training that I'm not managing well while on this weekly racing gig. Not sure exactly how to schedule my weeks in order to elevate recovery to its rightful place in the training pyramid. Perhaps follow each 5k race with three days of aerobic running, a workout day, then two days of aerobic running prior to the next race?

Where my Garmin ran while I didn't look at it!
We ran 3 laps of this course for the Barrenjoey 5k. After the fact, my Garmin said my km splits were: 4:18, 4:28, 4:32, 4:40 and 4:24.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Tale of Two Races

One negative consequence of weekly racing is that one runs a fair chance of not being fully recovered for the race. If the race goes badly one can tip off the knife-edge of 'satisfactory performance' in a big way. Such was the case for me in my most recent 3000 metre track event on Thursday night. I had one of those races most runners would have experienced — starting at what seemed like a reasonable effort (a 4:21 first kilometre), then feeling my speed agonizingly drain away prior to a feeble attempt at a sprint finish to break... no, not 12:40 or 13:00, but 13-bloody-20! 13:19.98 to be exact. A second km of 4:30 was followed by a 4:29. The experience of having runner after runner go by and not being able to do anything about it is fairly sobering.

The funny thing is, just a week earlier I enjoyed a positive race experience. This was in the YCRC 'Spring Series' 5k road event (Boathouse East), out and back by the Molonglo River. Strangely, I had a quite awful warm-up jog with Speedygeoff. Legs were so tired and lifeless that when Geoff suggested he was going to run a tempo effort "5 minutes per kilometre sounds good", I decided to tag along.

The start was on a wide sandy beach for about 100 metres before the course narrowed to a 2-person bike path. So there was a bit of a rush initially to position ourselves into a roughly sensible order. I felt we were running quicker than 'fives', but went with the flow, staying with a loose pack that included Geoff, Robert, Graeme, Bob, Lucy and Emily. My Garmin beeped at 1k and I took a quick glance — 4:26! "I thought you said 'fives' Geoff!" With that I decided to ignore the watch and to actually race the race. I'm so glad I did that. I really enjoyed myself.

I relaxed and thought about tactics. Do I stay with this group for a while longer? Try to bridge a gap now? That sort of thing. We were running with a tailwind (in our faces for the second half), which also made tactics important. Up ahead I could see my old rival Jim, ultra expert Pam, and a young girl named Hannah. I managed to keep what felt like a fast/smooth rhythm going to the turn-around while steeling myself for the effort against the headwind. Geoff meanwhile, had disappeared out of sight. Obviously four-thirties was too slow for his tempo effort! I gradually gained ground on Jim, catching him at the last little rise with 1k to go. Pam was next, then Hannah. The youngster rallied and we were virtually side by side for the last 500 metres. Rounding the Boathouse we met the full force of the headwind and the prospect of a sprint-finish on the beach. I could also see the clock relentlessly clicking over (as clocks do), and realised we'd be under 23 minutes. Wow, that's not bad in these conditions! I fired up the fast-twitch muscles and gave it all I had. Hannah was up for it though and with a final surge, beat me to the line. The nerve! We'd both run 22:48.

Us on Red Hill
A long run of 13k with Andy and Ruth yesterday included plenty of stops for phone photos.