Sunday, November 4, 2018

Monumental Effort

Four weeks ago I ran the Half at Fort Ben in 1:53. Yesterday, I ran the Monumental Half-Marathon in 1:39. Let's see, that's a 14 minute improvement in 4 weeks. Not bad! Strava called my effort "historic" based on heart rate. I call it "monumental." I'm happy. It was not my personal best half-marathon, but it was a solid race from start to finish. I had to keep pushing at the end just to maintain pace...and I did. At Fort Ben I faded. The main difference between the two races? Weather. Warm and humid at Fort Ben, cool and crisp at Monumental. I dislike the heat.

Since my wife couldn't travel with me (sick pet at home), I treated this race as more of a business trip than a fun vacation. I was here to race. Nothing more. Drive to Indy and check-in at hotel, walk to race expo, dinner, back to hotel. Sleep. Wake, warm-up, race, shower, check-out, drive home. No shopping, fancy meals, or tourist attractions. 

My hotel was only about 2 blocks from the starting line so I stayed in my room doing light dynamic stretching until about 10 minutes before the start. No reason to get cold standing in my coral (temps were around 36F). After a short jog to the starting area I nudged my way into the back of coral A as the race began. Lots of people ahead of me, including the 1:40 pace group I planned to follow for the first half of the race. Like last year, I was dodging runners, jumping up and down curbs and sidewalks, and trying to avoid any potholes for the first mile. Too many slow runners in this first coral. I managed to maintain a reasonable pace and caught the 1:40 pace group. I stayed with the group, sometimes ahead, sometimes just behind, up to mile 10. At that point the group passed me and I couldn't respond. I pushed harder, but still fell about 100 yards behind them. Negative thoughts bounced around my head. Last year, this was my time to shine. I crushed the last 3 miles! I also started very slow last year--this year was better pacing from the beginning. But I was tiring. I needed to dig deeper and push harder. Time for loud music. I kept hitting 'next song' on my iPod, and finally, AC/DC 's "Highway to Hell" started to play. Adrenaline surged, my heart raced, and I ran faster. Caught the pace group in about 2 minutes. Continued past them and held them off to the finish. I was done. Business was taken care of and it was time to clock out and head home. Mission accomplished. 

Official finish time: 1:39:02
Overall place: 660/7408 
Age group place: 25/298 
Heart rate avg: 161 (177 max)  <= same average HR as Fort Ben Half

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

3 Races Down, 1 to Go

Over the last 4 weeks I've run 3 races (5K, half-marathon, 5K). Now I have one more race to finish my self-imposed series. I'll do the Indianapolis Monumental half-marathon on Saturday. Not sure I'm ready, but the race is here. At least I'm not injured like last year at this time (fall on a dark morning run leading to hand/wrist and knee injury). I'm healthy, uninjured, and training OK. Not great, but OK. I think that is improvement from last year! Unfortunately, my lead-up race times are worse than last year. Here is a quick comparison of 2017 vs 2018 on my races leading up to Monumental (I didn't do the extra 5K before Fort Ben last year so I'm leaving it out of this chart):

Half at Fort Ben
Monumental Half

Based on this table, the prediction for Monumental would be something like 1:43. Not bad...but I want better. So, how fast can I run the Monumental half-marathon? I'm planning on a 1:39:59 finish (7:38 pace per mile). A bit optimistic, but doable. I think. I hope. We shall see. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Run as You Feel, But...

"Run as you feel" is a great mantra. I use it a lot (sometimes to justify my lazy ass slow pace). It tends to keep me injury-free and stress-free. I've now revised my mantra: "Run as you feel, but if you feel good, run faster!" If you are running nice and easy, feeling great, why not pick up the pace? Doesn't have to be a sprint, but slowly pick it up. You'll get an increased training stimulus and likely still feel great at the end of the run. Maybe better than if you stayed at your "comfortable, feel-good" pace. You still need to work yourself into that faster pace. Start slow and easy ("run as you feel"), but eventually you'll feel pretty darn good...then pick up the pace! If you never feel that great, keep at your comfortable easy pace for the whole run.

Easy, eh? Run as you feel, but if you feel good, run faster.

I was looking at running posters the other day and found one that said "Run until you feel your lungs bleeding." That seems a bit extreme. I'll just stick with running a little faster when I feel good. Maybe I'm just soft, but I like to keep my lungs from bleeding.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Half at Fort Ben: Personal Worst

Ran the half-marathon at Fort Ben yesterday in Indianapolis. Finish time of 1:53:10 (205/1609 total finishers, 17/94 in age group). My personal worst for a half-marathon. Funny, last year at this same race was my personal worst (1:51:30). This is not my race! Hills with hot and humid weather both years. Sunny too. Not a good combination. I won't be back for round three next year. Too risky with the weather. They start the race at 8:30am. Why not 7am or 7:30am? An earlier start would keep temperatures down and probably be welcomed in terms of traffic control (less cars out at 7am than 9am). Oh well, this race is not for me. Pretty course and well-organized race (nice shirt too), but still not for me.

I ran this race mostly under control based on heart rate (average HR = 161). As I got hotter and tired, my HR stayed high while I slowed down. That's to be expected. I'm not a good hot weather runner. Or warm weather. Or humid. Just give me cool and crisp weather and I'll perform! Maybe in 4 weeks at the Indy Monumental half-marathon.