Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Clinton Lake Race Turns 11

The Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Run turns 11 this weekend! Happy birthday to this fantastic event. Whomever started it back in 2007 had courage, passion, and vision. They knew how great the Clinton Lake Northfork trail would be for an ultra race. Nothing wrong with 33 small hills on each 10-mile loop. Repeat 3 times for the full ultra experience (and 99 hills). No need for an extra mile to make it a proper 50km race. On this course, 30 miles is enough. No need for a relay event to water down the true ultra vibe. No shorter companion race either. Ultramarathons draw a particular crowd. They are different (in a good way). Why dilute that intensity, and ultra community feeling, by offering shorter race alternatives? An ultra is an ultra. Done.

Congratulations, and gratitude, are deserved by all the race directors...past and present. And that race founder? The guy who started this whole thing in 2007? Special props! Good luck to all the racers this weekend. I'll be volunteering at the canoe aid station.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Balanced Training

I'm finally settling into a nice, balanced training schedule. Not really a schedule, more like a challenging and reasonable weekly set of runs. No formal plan. Run some fast (with variety), run easy, and toss in a long run. Leave the ego for races. Training is meant to prepare you for races. At times that means I run rather slowly. And maybe not that far. All good. There are times for fast paced runs and times for long runs. Everything needs to be kept in perspective and balanced.

With 5 weeks left to the Illinois Half-marathon race, I'm feeling good about my fitness. I've managed to build a solid aerobic base, with a touch of speed, and I've thrown in a 5K trail race. I'll have a 10K race in 2 weeks. I'm backing off speed work for this week to rest and push the endurance side a bit more. More miles at a slower pace. Probably more hills too. Again, I'm balancing endurance, stamina, speed, and strength workouts. Balance is crucial to remain injury-free and improve race fitness.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lost My Killer Instinct

I ran the Pi Mile (3.14 mile) trail run today. I finished in 22:17. Not terrible for a 5K trail race. I think I finished in 6th place (among about 40 runners). Definitely first in my age group (almost everyone was a college student). It really is hard to beat runners that are 30 years younger than you! After about a mile, people settled into their paces. I passed one runner that was slowing down and settled into a rhythm that had 2 runners just in front of me. A young male and young female (they were _all_ young!). At that point, I felt confident I'd take them both before mile three. Young and inexperienced racers tend to go out too fast and come back to the pack. Not today. Not these two. The female kicked my ass and the guy held on to keep me about 10 seconds behind all the way to the finish chute. I completed the race with an average heart rate of 166. A good tempo run at lactate threshold pace. Not a race.

Around mile two, I basically gave up and decided to make this a tempo run. I would push a bit, breath hard, and hold my pace...but not really race. Essentially, I threw in the towel. I had lost my killer instinct. If this was 5 years ago, or even 2 years ago, I would have fought hard to catch at least the one guy in front of me. And I would have done it! Today, negative thoughts entered my head and I turned a race into a tough training run. Older? Yes. Wiser? Maybe. But not tougher. I have mental work to do before the half-marathon in 6 weeks. And another test race in 3 weeks (5K or 10K in town). Practice makes perfect, right? Or it hardens your weaknesses.

PS: At the finish line there were pies from a local farmer and hot chocolate. Plus, I won a medal and a coupon for a free calzone! I'll be back next year to prove my mental fortitude...and eat more pie.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Time to Move to Strength-Speed

It's now time to move into a new phase of training for the half-marathon. From a focus more on speed to one based on strength and stamina. The 400m, 800m, and mile repeats are replaced with race-pace tempo like runs (4-6 miles at 7:01 pace) and longer tempo repeats at slightly faster than race pace: 2 x 3-miles and 3 x 2-miles (at 6:45-6:50 pace). Only 7 weeks to race day and the Illinois Half-Marathon. Still hopeful for a 1:32 finish, but it's looking harder each day. If I ran today, I think I'd notch a 1:37 or so. Good thing I still have 7 weeks to train! If I finish around 1:38, that sets me up for a reasonable chance at a 3:25 marathon later this year.

Time to train. Endurance plus stamina.