Saturday, October 29, 2005

Finally! The orange hi-liter

I have a bound day-calendar I use for a log, as many runners do. I mostly record the standard fare, similar to what you see in my online log. I enter miles, time, pace, what time I did the run, and usually something about the workout or how I was feeling. At the end of the week I total the miles, track the mileage on my shoes, and that's usually about it.

Race days are the only exception to this rather pedestrian task. Race days I break out the fabulous orange hi-lighter and trace a box around the days event. This makes it easy to go back and look at past race performances for clues on pace and other race notes. Today was one of those days, so I dutifully filled in the numbers. Then I go to the back page of the log and enter the date and the numbers for the race in my special "race" section.

This 10 mile race was a different course than last year's race, where I P.R.'d with a 57:43, but I know the race director well and he does a great job measuring so I call it accurate (though I think mile 7 was short, but a long mile 8 made up for it). Glenn McCarthy's advice of starting slow was fresh in my mind at the start. He mentioned that during the hill phase the legs are asked to do a lot, and that if I got too far into the red too soon it could be a very long day on the course. With that in mind, plus observing the 4-5 Kenyans and a few other unknown but very fast-looking runners on the line, I decided to let the first pack take it out, and settled in just behind them, pretty much the first goose in the inverted "V" formation.

My last 10 mile race was run at 5:45 pace, and my plan was to go out at 5:40 or so and try to run very steady, picking it up at the end if the legs would tolerate it. I came to mile 1 at 5:37, which was a relief since I usually go out way too fast. Soon a familiar masters runner came alongside me, and two good runners I knew fell in behind to make us a fairly venerable foursome. The route was out of the wind and away from the sun, so I had no problem taking the pace with the other masters runner (who is 52 by the way and regularly runs 120 mile weeks!). The two of us run very well together, even though I'm about 8 inches taller than him. Three more miles ticked by, 5:37, 5:39, 5:39. This was the pace, the breathing was good. One of the runners behind finally blows up, but we press on-5:38, 5:38. Finally, the masters runner fades off the pace, leaving only two of us (the other runner is the same one I ran the tempo run with a few weeks back). 5:21, 5:43 (think the marker between these two were off, and we're still rolling along. With two to go, the other runner starts to falter and falls 4 steps behind. I'd talked to this runner after our tempo run, and learned he completed this race last year in over an hour. He was set to take almost 4 minutes off his time, and he seems like a great guy. I had been talking to our group for much of the run, just the usual "we're doing great/they're coming back to us/nice and relaxed" and the like, but for some reason I turned around here and said something to the effect of "This is it, the perfect race, even splits for 10 miles! Get back up here and lets finish it off!" He seemed a little shocked, frankly, but sure enough he picked it up, said "thanks", and was soon beside me again. It's 2 to go, we roll a 5:36, and we're down to the final mile. My legs are really starting to feel it, but now my partner looks great! In the last 200 he opens up a sprint, and I can't hold him. We do the last mile in 5:36 for a 56:09, which gives me 16th overall and 5th in my age group with a 5:37 average pace. Last year my 57:43 was good for 5th overall, and the winning time was 56:10!

John, the other runner, had the run of his life and I was glad to be a part of it. This was probably one of my best races too, and while I'm a pretty fierce competitor, getting out-sprinted isn't the end of the world.

What's really rewarding is comparing this week to the same week last year, when I ran 57 miles instead of the 96 I'm doing this time around. Last year this race was supposed to be a benchmark to set me up for a marathon in January I never made it to. I ended up inadvertently peaking for this race, and I just couldn't maintain any upward momentum to get me to January. I feel most of the problem was joining a workout group last fall that immediately jumped into tempo (which always turned into faster VO2 max sessions) and intervals in early September. After about 9 weeks of this training without a sufficient aerobic base I was quite simply pooped. I never even made it to the Thanksgiving turkey trot. I woke up that morning and instead of heading to the park, I simply said "I'm done". The miles dipped in November from 60 down to 17 or so per week.

So last year at this race I was at my peak, where this year I am still really towards the bottom of the ladder, and I still managed to run 1:34 faster. Also, the breathing was definitely easier, something Mark Coughlin had mentioned he experienced while racing in his hill phase. This result makes trusting the Lydiard Method easy. I feel that I still have so many gains to make with the training, after all I'm only 15 weeks in to the program and I still have 11 weeks to go. I'm really excited about finally moving into the faster training, where I'm hoping I will see some more improvement. Thanks again to Nobby, Glenn and Mark for the sound advice, I'm hoping I'm starting to get it. Have a good weekend, here's a link to the results if anyone is interested. Tucson is turning into a fast town. Here's a link to a photo of me and my new running buddy and competition John (I'm on the right).

Training: a.m. 12 miles with a 10 mile race. Finished in 56:09, 16th overall, 5th in my age group
p.m. 4 miles easy shakeout with Haiden in the jog-stroller, right abductor a little sore.


Love2Run said...

Great race and report! I'm beyond impressed with the pace you held and you make it sound so easy. Hard work does pay off!

The Thinking Runner said...

That's a great pace. Looks like all the training is paying off handsomely.

Thomas Sørensen said...

Congrats of the PR, Mike. And in such good form. It seems you are much fitter then last year.

Lydiard does make Champions Everywhere.

I will head out for a PR attempt in 1 hour. Also on a, for me, high mileage week.
Wish me luck and look out for my blog during the next hours.

Zeke said...

Mike, way to go. Man, your splits are so even it's scary. Dang, what a confidence booster!!! Those results get me fired up to jump on the Lydiard "band wagon" too.

Oh, I'm having lunch with Nobby tomorrow.

robtherunner said...

I just discovered your blog and am glad I did. I am glad to read your experience with the Lydiard system as I have been planning on using it beginning in January 2006. I will keep following your progress. Thanks!

brian said...

Great race Mike! Bodes well for the marathon!

Mike said...

Thanks everyone for the good vibes. It was a fun race, and it was nice to feel fairly confident about holding the pace once we started down the road. I really appreciate you all reading, and I hope I can keep it interesting!