Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Maybe, just maybe, starting to come around

I've had a rough comeback from my short break in December. I'm not quite back to the level of fitness I had last November, but I think I'm getting there. On Sunday I had a marathon-pace run on the calendar.

Last year, marathon pace was 7:15 per mile. On Sunday I decided to go for 7:30. After a 3-mile warm-up, over 9 miles, my splits were as follows:

6:45 (for 1/2 mile)
7:05 (1/2 mile)

This run included two half-mile stretches at "tempo pace" -- 6:45 was what I was trying for. Other than fading a bit at the end, I pretty much hit my splits.

Then yesterday for just the usual DART run, Chad and I decided on a hilly route and I managed an average 7:46 pace without feeling too winded.

Finally today I had a 6.3-mile tempo on the calendar. I haven't uploaded my splits yet, but as I recall, they are as follows:

6:50 (1/3 mile)

That works out to around a 6:50 pace overall, so just off my 6:45 goal but pretty close, and those 7:03s came on some fairly decent hills.

It's not ideal, but it's better than it's been for quite some time. Next race is the Myrtle Beach half on February 16, so just under 4 weeks away. I had been hoping for a really fast race there. I might have to settle for a sort of fast race, but who knows -- maybe I'll continue to improve over the coming weeks and surprise myself.

Details of Sunday's run are below:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mini-recap: The Salem Lakeshore Frosty 25K

I should be in some of the best shape of my life. I've just come off a fall season where I hit a huge 5K PR. But my most recent race was a disappointment due to bad weather. Or maybe I'm not really in the kind of shape I think I'm in.

After Rocket City I recovered fairly quickly, but then took a 10-day break from running as I travelled across the country for the holidays. When I got back in town, I struggled to get back into running shape. I've heard runners say that taking a week or two off of running shouldn't affect you much, but it certainly affected me quite a bit. Those five pounds I gained over the holidays didn't help much either.

But by the middle of last week I was starting to feel a little more like my old self, so I thought maybe I'd be able to summon up a decent performance for Saturday's Salem Lakeshore Frosty 25K. I had been in shape to run a marathon at a 7:15 pace, so surely I could handle that pace for just 15.5 miles, right?

I started out at that pace, and things went well for roughly the first half, but once I turned around and headed back towards the start, I could tell it was not going to be my day. Laura Gray, a DARTer who was running a 12.5K leg of the 50K relay caught me and passed me. I tried to keep up with her, but she gradually moved farther and farther ahead.

Now it was a struggle just to keep my pace under 8 minutes per mile. By the water stop at around 12 miles, I gave up on that and just hoped to keep it under 8:30 per mile. Chas and Bobby passed me, even though they were doing the 50K event. I tried to keep them in sight, but it was no use, and they disappeared ahead of me.

Several more runners I didn't know passed me, but one mile from the finish, I finally got a second wind and managed to hold off the man who was on my heels. I finished in 1:58:50, about a 7:40 pace overall. As it turned out, I didn't even beat the guy I held off, because he had started 15 seconds behind me.

Hopefully this is all just a minor blip in my training as I get over a cold and brush off the cobwebs from my vacation. I'd really like to put up some fast times over the next few months. I'm signed up for the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon, and I'd like to try for a PR there. That will require a much better effort than what I've done lately.

There's only one way to do that: Put one foot in front of the other in training, repeating as necessary.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Back in the saddle again

After my disappointing finish at the Rocket City Marathon, I continued training as I had planned for December -- slowly building up mileage for the week following the race, then taking a 10-day break from running while I travelled out west for the holidays.

The hope was that I would return home refreshed and ready to start working toward my next goal, a fast half-marathon.

However, my first few runs upon returning were not exactly "refreshing." They were actually very hard. At times I struggled to maintain even an 8-minute pace, which is supposed to be an "easy" run for me. Could I really have gotten that out of shape in just 10 days?

I don't think so. Instead, I think I probably just had a cold. For about two and a half years, since I started running seriously again, I've not had the flu or even a cold to speak of. Even this time around, I didn't have a lot of cold symptoms, just a couple sniffles. But when I tried to run, my body ached. I had to slow down. Last Saturday I wanted help my friend Brian by running the last 8 miles of his final long run before he runs the Charleston Marathon January 20. He was doing great, running a 7:30-7:40 pace, but after about 5 miles, I just couldn't keep up and had to let him finish up on his own.

Finally on Sunday I managed a 10-miler at an 8:13 pace. By Wednesday I was able to run the DART loop at a 7:39 pace while keeping up a conversation the whole time. Today I ran 4.2 miles at a 7:40 pace, including a 7:21 on a steadily uphill mile.

Why just 4 miles? Because tomorrow I'll be competing in a race, the Salem Lakeshore Frosty 25K. If I was in peak condition, I'd be trying for at least a sub-7-minute pace in this race, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to dial it back quite a bit. The smart thing to do would be to run with some of the folks doing the 50K event. My friend Chas is trying for a sub-4-hour PR, which is roughly a 7:40 pace, so maybe I'll just stick with him for a while.

At least I finally seem to be getting to the point where running feels good again, so hopefully next week I can do some speed work as I start to prepare for the Myrtle Beach Half next month.

Details of today's workout are below.