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San Diego Hot Chocolate 15k 2018

Shorter stride, faster cadence. That’s what I was telling myself as I was struggling to grasp a rhythmic movement. The leading ladies were spread out relatively far apart by mile 2 and I was having a hard time keeping any them in sight. Breathing heavily, from the ups and downs that were already run in the course, I tried to relax into the long climb ahead. This race was again going to be about effort, but I didn’t want to fall away from fourth female.

The San Diego edition of this race starts downtown on a hill, then takes you through a winding course among some neighborhoods and parks full of elevation change, and then throws you back downtown, where for the last .3 miles you finally get to remember what it feels like to run level. 

Yeah, it’s a really fun course. But taking it back to mile 2, I could hear the 5th female coming up beside me. I immediately recognized her from a half marathon last April when I chased her down to try to take second place, but hesitated for too long and she beat me by 33 hundredths of a second. I couldn’t let her overtake me, but we weren’t very far into the race and I didn’t want to pull away and waste energy that I knew I needed later. She stayed with me for another mile and then let me lead by mile 4.

But she was right behind me, and coming from behind in a race gives you the advantage at the end (if you’re willing). Mentally, I was exhausted from racing. I didn’t want to do it. I was tired for several reasons, but as much as I love racing, it’s HARD and all I wanted to do was sleep.

What I wanted and what I didn’t want weren’t lining up, so I had to choose. I didn’t want to give up and just run the rest of the way. However, I knew that if she remained close enough behind me, she could attack and I didn’t feel like I had it in me to counter that move. My best option was to slowly pull away and try to create a gap big enough that would discourage her from making a move at the finish.

It was working, but we were about to go on a nice size downhill and then immediately up up UP. This was my third year doing the course so I knew what was about to happen. She caught up to me at the bottom of the downhill and then I dropped her hard on the uphill. My legs recovered, and I continued to increase the gap with just two miles left. I felt like I had her, but I really needed to push the downhill finish. I threw myself down the 9th mile in 6:02 and demanded more from my lungs for the last .3 for a strong finish.

Forty-five seconds ahead – it was enough.

I had hoped for a sub 60-minute and a podium finish. I didn’t get either, but I got more experience racing and a really good workout. Right now, those latter things are  much more important. Since moving to Utah and recovering from injury, I haven’t been able to find a good training groove. It will come, but I need a little more time. My lungs continue to be what’s lagging behind. For the most part, my legs felt great with all of the ups and downs on the course. My cadence was better this race at 182 steps per minute. I got to see more running friends and walked away with a bowl of chocolate. What do I have to complain about?

Final Stats

Time – 1:00:54

Overall – 15th of 3665

Female – 4th of 2588

Age group – 2nd of 320

 

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SLCTC Winter Series 15k

Whew! Racing in this series made me feel like those times when I took exams in college without studying. But it was fun, it’s done, and I’m ready to take it to the next level.

The predicted weather for this race was a snowstorm, but I was pretty happy that it did not snow and remained sunny without wind. Still, 25 degrees! The race didn’t start until 10 AM, which was nice for sleeping in, and from the previous races in the series I knew I didn’t have to worry about parking.

The most physically prepared for of the three, I had a time goal of under sixty minutes. I also felt like I could give the other competition a race, but I wanted to start out going by feel and not mind my watch. The 15k is a funny distance. So as planned I started out relaxed, noticing two other contenders in the leading pack (one of whom already bested me at the previous 5k and 10k). The first female led the way about ten yards ahead for the first mile, but I could tell by her form that she would fade. The other female and I caught up to her. I tried to stay right with the woman who had beat me before, but I wasn’t able to hang on yet. I let her go, thinking I could maybe catch up later. The woman who started out too fast and I leap frogged each other until the halfway turnaround point, and then I left her behind. I steadied my pace, and settled into second.

I hadn’t looked at my watch until mile 7, when I began to see the first woman slowing down, though she was still pretty far ahead. I had more doubt than hope in me that I’d be able to catch her. At mile 8 I closed the gap a little more, but I still didn’t feel like I could go for it. In hindsight, I wish I would have at least made it a little closer. She finished twenty-five seconds ahead.

All in all, it was a good run. I didn’t hit my time goal of sub sixty, but I still nabbed my first personal best of the year. I’m hoping it won’t last long, because I have another sub 60 15k attempt in a few weeks.

Final Stats

Time: 1:00:15

Overall: 22nd of 386

Female: 2nd of 195

Age group: 1st of 19

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Spooktacular San Diego 15k 2017

A “prep race” may not be part of a typical marathon training program, but I tried it once before and liked it. The idea is to complete a longer shorter race two days after my peak long run before a marathon.  For this training cycle, it was a 28-mile run – my longest to date. I start my taper two weeks out, after completing this prep race. It may seem short, but my weekly average mileage really isn’t that high, so I don’t think I need as much.

Half the goal of this 15k was getting to the start line without tight or sore legs (from the long run). The other half was to see what I could do on tired legs, and still keep good form. I thought this would give me a good idea of what pace to shoot for in the marathon.

This was a tiny, flat race that kept you on a paved bike path, so you didn’t have to worry about traffic. There was a 5k and 10k option as well, but it seemed like only about 300 people total. The morning of, I felt good – no tightness or soreness. I knew once I started running, my legs would be tired once I started running, but I hoped to find a steady pace and run with a constant, mild-ish burn after the first few miles. I had a good warm up with some dynamic stretching and then it was go time.

  • Mile 1 – 6:58
  • Mile 2 – 6:53
  • Mile 3 – 6:52
  • Mile 4 – 6:36
  • Mile 5 – 6:34
  • Mile 6 – 6:36
  • Mile 7 – 6:34
  • Mile 8 – 6:34
  • Mile 9 – 6:38
  • and a kick at the end!

Reminding myself that my legs were just tired, and nothing else, I was able to steady the pace and finish strong. I was pretty happy with the results and how I felt. Though a prep race isn’t typically the time to PR, I ended up shaving 9 seconds on my previous 15k best. But there’s always room for critical analysis. After seeing my splits, the third mile should have been a bit faster. Cadence was slow (average 172), but was expected on heavy legs.

Marathon training is a work in progress. I’m searching for the best plan for the best results my body can give. But the human body adapts, and there’s so many changing variables that even if you find your perfect formula, it won’t work for forever. Though in theory, I suppose if you hit your race goal with a good plan and then considerably lose your level of fitness afterwards you would probably get good results again with the same plan. I know the plan I just completed may seem a bit crazy to a lot of runners, but I feel like I’m on to something. I’m ready to see what I can do in New York.

Final Stats

1:01:40

3rd of 94 overall

2nd of 67 female

1st of 6 in age group

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Jack-O-Smash 2016 15k

This was my first time running a “prep” race before a marathon. The intent was to practice pacing, see how my recovery regime was working, and get a little competitiveness out of my system before the marathon race. My last two marathons I got caught up in the racing aspect and went out too fast too soon to hit the wall hard. I had a 20-miler two days before this 15k prep race so I got to see how quickly I could recover.

After a cup of cheerios drizzled with Honeystinger gel, I left for the start line sipping some yerba mate. I had planned out what I wanted my splits to be beforehand. I didn’t hit a single one. My legs weren’t sore, but they were tired. The race also had 3,800 feet of elevation change that I didn’t expect. My hopeful splits are on the left; my actual splits are on the right.

Mile 1 6:50 7:04
Mile 2 6:45 6:37
Mile 3 6:40 6:34
Mile 4 6:30 6:32
Mile 5 6:20 6:34
Mile 6 6:20 6:50
Mile 7 6:20 6:51
Mile 8 6:20 6:41
Mile 9 6:10 6:36
Last .3 1:30 1:57
Total Time 59:45 1:02:21

As I said, the course was much hillier than expected, but no major climbs – just constant up and down.

20161030_105912

I may not have hit my goal time, but I still feel like it was a productive race. Not a PR but it was a good effort on tired legs, and I was still happy with a 6:41 average pace coming off of a long run. The finals results were 5th overall and 1st female (it was a tiny race). I think this was beneficial for my marathon training, but we’ll find out soon!

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