Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Now that's why I like racing!

I'm still thinking about the race I ran last Tuesday — 5k on the cross-country course at Stromlo. It was the final event in the YCRC 'Summer Series' of races. For once my legs felt okay during the warm-up — they weren't springy and raring to race, but just as importantly, they weren't dead tired and lifeless. After five or six strides I lined up a couple of rows back in the field of 58 runners. Weather was about as good as it gets for summer racing in Canberra, about 14C with a light breeze.

I started my Garmin (didn't look at it during the race) and ran up the first gentle hill at what I guessed was the appropriate effort, ignoring my 'competition'. After 100 metres I noticed that Speedygeoff had bolted (an unusual tactic), keeping pace with Maria and Helen. Brian was running barefoot a few metres ahead with Phil, Charlie was behind (already) and Janene was about 20 metres up the course with Miriam. Brian was despatched after 500 metres, then I ran down the first hill in the company of Phil and Greg. At this stage (1k in) I felt like I was in control, but close to my limit. On the next uphill section Phil dropped back, followed by Greg. I wanted to race Miriam and Janene, but they were 30 metres away. Miriam is an old rival (38 for 10k as a pup and 90 for the half as a Master), while Janene is a new rival. I  gradually clawed back metre after metre during the first 2.5k lap and noticed the digital clock reading 11:18 at half way. Now that's a good split! Can I catch the two ladies?

Janene seemed to tire a little on the next hill and I managed to catch up. Miriam was a few metres ahead. On the next downhill stretch the speed came on again. I was breathing hard, pretty much at my limit, so sat behind Janene down the next hill and along the bottom of the course. I needed a rest! Would have liked to 'help out' with the pace if I could, but that would have put me into anaerobic territory. Anyway, as we raced up the next hill I managed to pass Janene, then Miriam on the flat part after the crest of the hill. After that I ran as hard as I could beside the dam for the last 700 metres to the finish. Caught Daniel with 500 to go, ran with him, but his finishing kick was stronger. Don't know what it looked like, but I felt like I was sprinting! Finished 34th in 22:41, thinking to myself "now that's why I like racing!"

Criterium and cross country course at Stromlo Forest Park

Sunday, March 17, 2013

An ordinary 5000 metre race

I raced in the ACT Veterans' 5000m Championships last Thursday evening. Must say that it was exciting to line up for a 5k track race which had 22 starters. Usually 5000s are combined with a 3000 and most runners 'bail out' after seven and a half laps. My race was pretty ordinary — finished 19th in 23:07.27 — quite a bit slower than the 22:17 I ran last November. Back then I was hoping to be in 21:45 form by March, but it hasn't happened. I'm not exactly sure why. I suspect it's down to two things: My training needs to improve and my recovery needs to improve.

I'm not hugely disappointed with the race because on the previous evening's 7k jog my legs had felt 'sore all over' — I seriously considered a DNS listing for the 5000. The race ended up being a bit of a solo time-trial. Kathy sprinted off to a 10 metre lead in the first lap (she would run 22:09) — my legs just weren't feeling good enough to go with her. She'd dropped from a faster group who were running about 21-minute pace. Weather conditions weren't ideal for solo running — it was cool enough, but there was a fresh southerly breeze to push into up the home straight. I tired pretty badly in the fourth kilometre and was caught by Pete with one k to go. He just went straight past! He ran 22:53. My splits were 4:26, 4:39, 4:43, 4:45 and 4:34.

On Saturday morning I jogged in the Ginninderra 5k Parkrun. If I can ever get used to racing hard early in the morning, this event (or the Tuggeranong version) could be worth lining up for a fast 5k attempt. After the race we walked around to the local retirement village's cafe and enjoyed a coffee, cake and chat. The perfect morning!

Great prices at the retirement village cafe!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How bad do you want it?

My recent training has been okay — not exactly where I want it to be, but not too bad. I should say that the idea of taking one, two, or three rest days per week (that I talked about in Bob and Janene Recovery Days), is not one that I've taken up with fervour. I put it out there as an idea that may work well — my main problem with it is that it makes for some very large mileage days if I'm to hit the weekly and monthly kilometre totals I need to maintain (or improve) my aerobic base. I've been averaging 72k per week (45 miles), which is about my 'tipping point' — any less and my aerobic condition starts to fall away.

Recent training:
Monday - 15k of easy running with the Speedygeese.
Tuesday - 10k very easy (6:25/k) during and after the YCRC race.
Wednesday - 8k with 5k at tempo pace (5:11/k) on the grass track.
Thursday - Rest day.
Friday - 17k long run, easy effort (5:43/k).
Saturday - 10k slow Mt Ainslie trail run.
Sunday - 10k Stromlo 4 x 1k intervals: 4:55, 4:50, 4:38, 4:33.

My tempo and interval sessions have been moderate. I've been holding back quite a bit with the Stromlo intervals — my legs are too creaky early on a Sunday morning to run hard. I don't want to pull a hammy or calf. I've been running 4:30 to 5:00 for the kilometre repeats (10k to half marathon race pace), so they're not anaerobic at all.

I read an online Running Times article last week which made me think I should do more — especially in terms of mileage. It was about Sheri Piers, a 41-year-old runner from Massachusetts Maine who is training to run a sub-2:35 marathon (her PB is 2:36:59). What struck me about the story was the relentless way Piers attacks her training. She never misses a session, runs 145 to 209 kilometres per week, and fits it in around motherly duties and a full-time job. She also does some crazy-sounding sessions — like 10 x 1 mile with 1-minute rests, 22 miles on an indoor track (176 laps!) and a 24 mile long run on a treadmill. An amazing lady. However, I thought it a little sad that she intends to retire from competitive running once she can no longer improve. She said "I'm not going to be falling off the cliff. I don't want to go and run a 21-minute 5k."

Balloons at Stromlo distracted from the subject of my photo - the BMW R1200 GS