Sunday, February 26, 2012

RRCA Club Challenge 10mi -- Back to racing

I ran this morning in the Club Challenge 10-miler, a popular race among MD/DC running clubs. Ryan McGrath was a big factor in convincing me to do this race, and Todd went from encouraging me to do it as a workout to telling me to race it. I wasn't in great run form heading in as I've done 3 total "speed" workouts which really were only 22 total minutes of pick-ups... no tempos/hill/track work, just 30-35mpw and bike/swim workouts, so I tempered my expectations and simply aimed to get out there, run hard and see what my strong aerobic fitness could do for me.

I had previewed the course a couple times with the Falls Road team within the month leading up to the race and knew I had work cut out for me... it's a very hilly and technical course, with many sharp climbs and descents and turns to make it hard to keep a rhythm. I wanted to go out feeling conservative the first couple miles and then hold a solid tempo effort while racing for placement and thus helping my club, MCRRC.

My legs weren't fresh race morning as the day before I rode some hard miles in the strong winds preceded by a 30min run, but I felt better than I expected. Tom, Conrad and I warmed up for a couple miles, got my act together and headed to the start. I saw a lot of friends from MCRRC and Falls Rd and lined myself up a few rows back so I could commit to my conservative start. Race went off and I settled in, aiming to hit 6:00 for the mile, but instead found myself holding 5:45 but very comfortably... I kind of expected that to feel a little harder, but I just went with the conservative feeling rather than thinking about the pace.

And actually that's how the rest of the race went, even through the hills. I checked my miles just to be sure I wasn't getting TOO comfortable, but I felt I was putting in a good effort and passed at least 22 people, which was thrilling! My legs were strong on the harder climbs in the middle, which I was worried about as my previous hip/quad injury was magnified on hills. But today I didn't feel the injury once. Put in a little extra effort for the last mile since I didn't feel awfully winded at that point. Finished in 57:59 (I bush-league sprinted to the finish just to get under 58) and 23rd overall. I think that's not so bad for being out of run shape, also goes to show my bike/swim training has made me fit overall, which will hopefully make it easier to get faster in running. Splits were 5:45, 5:45, 5:46, 5:41, 5:43, 5:49, 5:50, 5:53, 5:56, 5:45. Conrad got a big win and other training pals / honorary teammates had great races too.

That was a lot of fun, a really enjoyable race. Competition with friends and foes. Paced myself well and had lots of energy and leg left after the finish. And both the result and effort has gotten me really excited for the Spring. Whereas last week I was worried about where I'd be by Cherry Blossom, I'm now confident I'll still salvage a strong running season.


Ok, maybe I was having too much fun, thanks Michelle

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Load the Spaceship with the Rocket Fuel!

Training is picking up and the quality of my workouts IS getting better, which means they are getting harder, especially in biking. Two long trainer interval workouts Tuesday and Thursday, in addition to my first run workout since early December (2mi easy, 4mi @ no slower than 6:15 with 6x1min pickups every 4 minutes, 2mi easy) left me feeling pretty weary by the weekend. But no rest, I had a 2 hour ride, 10mi run and swim meet scheduled.

The ride on Saturday was probably supposed to be somewhat relaxed, Michelle and I joining Snapple mates near Sibley. Pretty early on it became evident that it wouldn't be relaxed. Bart pushed the pace early on and the rest of us just tried to hang on... it was all we could do! He eventually pulled away with John Chambers in tow. The rest of us picked up the pieces and reassembled and just rambled to the end of the ride. Wow. We were absolutely crushed by Bart. But it was still a quality ride, I was able to take plenty of pulls and locked my legs in the cellar of pain. Nah, it wasn't quite that bad but it was a good wake-up. I need a little more fitness before I rejoin the roadies. Ride data:

Sunday was the DC Tri Club swim meet at Catholic U. I signed up for the 400free, 100free, 50fly and both relays, the 200medley and 200free. I wanted to really do well in the 400, but I started way too fast... I was just off of Matias in the lane next to me after 100. That was too close! I fell apart in the second 200, averaging about 1:22s in the second half. Bad Andy... I thought I was past that. 13 seconds slower than last year. I did fine in the shorter distances, a touch slower overall than last year, which I attribute to swimming about a fifth of the total yards this year that I swam in December/January combined last year. No speed work either, so I think my performance was pretty decent despite that. Aside from that poor pacing job in the 400, it shows my speed hasn't left me despite training much less. It's encouraging me to increase the effort a little in each practice, even if I'm not going to increase yardage. I will start masters practice 1-2 times a week in the next week or so... that'll help my speed. I also notice my form is really solid at the moment. My strokes are long and smooth, so I'm glad I have that covered and I can think more of building strength and endurance... lots of paddles and pull buoys in my future.

Right after the race Matias and I went for a 10mi run through DC. We started out a little quick, settled down and then dropped the hammer somewhat in the last 2 miles. A good run, made better by the fact that my hip did not hurt at all... despite swimming beforehand (flutter kick aggravated my hip woe) and lots of start/stop at intersections (which was a cause of hip problems during runs). It's great that I can start putting in more miles and quality together and not worry about injury anymore. I don't even think about my hip when I run anymore.

I have Allie at Schrier Physical Therapy to thank for that... she pointed out lots of weaknesses and really made things right with my hip. I know more about how the legs work as one unit and will keep working to make them stronger so they stay as one. So, anyone reading this who has unresolved or curious aches/pains, go to Allie, she's fantastic at what she does.

Swam Monday AM and ran with Wiggy Monday PM. Legs were tired but it was a good shakeout to wake them up.