Training week 5 is almost complete, which means there’s just 4 more weeks until the Wings For Life World Run! As a refresher, I’m racing in Santa Clarita, CA on May 7th. Julia volunteered to be my support team out there, as I hope to push through 40 road miles before getting caught by the Chaser Car. As a token of gratitude to the love and support of my Sugah, I signed Julia up for the race, as well. I think she’s gonna love the race format, and since she’ll be up at 3AM on race morning, she may as well log a few, who am I kidding, a lot of miles!
All of the race entry dollars go directly to spinal cord research. It’s extremely motivating to know that a competition can have such a positive effect on research and rehabilitation for people suffering from spinal cord injuries.
So what’s up for this weekend? I’m racing!! Woo hoo! I was fortunate to get a last minute entry into the Platte River Half Marathon, a point-to-point race from Littleton to Denver. This race fits perfectly into my running calendar, as I ramp up yet another month of training. This month, however, I’ll focus more on speed training, rather than high volume miles, so I’m excited for the opportunity to race for 13.1 miles.
It’s Monday, and I’m already loosing my cool about the race on Sunday. I’ve been poised for race efforts each weekend, yet the thought of “race performnace” hits my switch triggering dreams of the dreaded “goal finishing time” and I get psyched out with nightmares of mid-race paralysis.
Chill. Relax. Do not care about finishing time or comparing yourself with anyone else.
Treat the race no different than your 1-hour Time Trials. The basis behind the TTs in my training was to maintain an anaerobic heart rate, or 80-90% of your max heart race, for an hour. Anaerobic HR is also called lactate threshold and provides a benchmark for interpreting performance potential at different heart rates.
I’m not a heart rate evangelist, but it’s nice to look back at data and gain some confidence and confirmation in my progress.
Snow day! Waking up to the sound of snow plows, Julia and I knew we wouldn’t be attempting a morning workout. Instead, we did what we are getting really good at: we slept in.
After work, the sun was out, it had warmed up considerably, and the roads had dried. I ran to the Eldridge neighborhood and set my watch to prompt me through 3-minute intervals with a 1:30 rest period.
I pushed through 8 reps with the hope of restoring confidence in my speed game. Coming off a down week that included a gallon of cookies n’ cream ice cream, I’ve been feeling a bit heavy.
With the half marathon looming on Sunday, 3-minute intervals were just long enough to remind myself what running fast feels like, while not overly taxing on my muscles.
As I sprinted, I focused on lifting my knees, hopeful to lengthen my stride. I was aware of tension in my shoulders, so I internalized relaxed shoulders and externalized a smiling face. It’s funny how often you hear about the positive effects of smiling to wash away negative thoughts.
While I sprinted, all the mechanics of running came to the forefront: stand up tall, engage the glutes, spring, bound, be light. Often, I feel the need to recite these phrases so I remember them while racing, but then I realize that’s probably what causes me to tense up… fear of forgetting one of the fundamental components of running, while running… tragic.
I’m excited to race mostly to get the rust off. Simple things like properly securing my shoes laces, so they don’t come untied or hit my other shoe during the race, is just one of a slew of simple prevent measures against race day annoyances which will quickly derail your focus.
I was pleased to cover a little over a half mile during the 3-minute repeats. My splits were not super consistent as there are sloping segments in the neighborhood, but I was encouraged by the splits: 5:41, 5:29, 5:41, 5:38, 5:17, 5:37, 5:42, 5:47
This test gave me confidence that I can reach for 5:45/mile pace on a gentle downward slope. And that’s my TT goal for Sunday.
More snow! The roads were super slick and icy. Julia and I passed on November Project (again!!) and opted for the shortest commute to work. I managed to slip and fall immediately on the sidewalk right outside our house, which was not an encouraging start for the 3-mile trek ahead.
We had a happy-hour work event off-campus, so I had a slightly sloshy-stomach evening run home. I tried my best to not gorge on chicken poppers, onion rings, and pizza, but hey I can’t say no to freebies.
PlayGldn on Dino Ridge, of course! I kept it lose, fun, & relaxed — logging miles the responsible way.
I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions how running with a metronome puts me in a trance of present awareness. It has helped me tune into each moment, and each step, without getting lost in the grand plan for the day. I hope to make my own beat in Sunday’s race.
I read a backpacker magazine article about buddhist monks incredible devotion and sacrifice on the path towards enlightenment through Circumambulation. The short of it: monks dedicate themselves to 10 years and 1,000 trips up a mountain in Japan. I won’t spoil the article, but it was an eye opening way of life.
Quoted in the article was the author of Dirty Inspirations: Lessons from the Trenches of Extreme Endurance Sports:
They seek discipline on the trail because the routine removes the clutter and chatter of “normal” life.
The repetition of moving forward for extended periods strips away everything until its focus becomes … moving forward.
I dig, you dig, we dig.
Julia and I cruised into Denver for the morning November Project session. Earlier in the week, I had hoped for straight hill running on Friday, but the NP workout location was Skyline Park. History tells me Skyline Park equates to lunges and body weight exercises. I can’t even remember when I last burpee-d! No problema, I ended up free loading vibes off of the 6:15 bounce and then escaping off on my own. I planned a route for 25-ish easy miles home to Golden.
It was a little sketchy getting out of Denver which made me nervous about lasting for 15 miles with limited supplies. The Platte River path was under construction north of Park Avenue, which forced me to recalculate and take Brighton Boulevard north — having to route find on busy roads. I finally made it to familiar territory, though it’s territory where automobiles rule and pedestrians are fools.
I used to live in the Sunnyside neighborhood and proposed to Julia in Berkeley Hills Park! It was a trip down memory lane, as I haven’t ventured through my old stomping grounds for over a year. A neighborhood firehouse came up for sale back in the day. I spent a few sleepless nights excited about the potential of transforming the firehouse into a studio/loft/workshop/gallery. Thankfully, I let the opportunity pass, though I think my vision was transferred onto the new owners:
The rest of the run was uneventful, as I had hoped. I managed 24.5 casual miles, 7:32/mile, average HR 137, cadence of 169-spm, and 948 feet of elevation gain, while listening intently to the Rich Roll Podcast with minimilast, Joshua Fields Millburn.
3-mile shake out run with Julia in Golden. I hadn’t run alone with Julia in months! It was nice to get out with her on a beautifully, peaceful morning in Golden. I had deja vu, as we passed the School of Mine’s Athletic Fields because it was here, not even a mile from home, that I was forced to turn back during our last run together.
During a similar shake out run prior to the North Face Endurance Challenge in Park City last September, I quit running after some nauseating pain radiated from my adductor. This was a recurring pain in my running at the time, however, I’d never felt that squeamish pain before, forcing me to walk back home.
Fast forward, a month where I had my gait analyzed (for free) at Boulder Running Company, in which I was fitted with a perfectly, neutral pair Nike Pegasus trainers. Fast forward six months, and this gait analysis was a dramatic turning point in my running life. Pain free running has developed from a combination of smarter running (make easy miles easier), better running form (land through the big toe), and unforeseen consistency.
Ok ok, so there is a race tomorrow, right Freddy!!??!! I don’t want to take it too seriously, but I only run a half marathon once every two years, so I want to make the effort count:
I’ve got a couple goals in mind:
- Don’t look at my watch until mile 7.
- Run relaxed, calm, confident, & composed.
- Run with high cadence, high knees, and a high heart.
- Finish fast, AKA negative split, AKA progression run, yada yada.
- Let the competitive juices flow in the final 3 uphill miles.
Our November Project tribe will be out on the course cheering and pacing. It’s such a boost to see familiar faces out on the course, and an instant reminder that every race is bigger than the individual.
Stay tuned for a quick Race Read following tomorrow’s 13.1.
Endurance Changes Time,