Monday, February 17, 2014

Race Report: GW Birthday Classic 10k

Advertised as fast and flat, this is a race course on which a mere overpass stands out as a big hill and it was my A-race for the winter and a test case for my attempt to go sub-7 minute miles (faster than 43:30).

I set a baseline in November at 44:37 on an even flatter (but windier) course along the Potomac at the Run for the Parks 10k and have been going to the track all winter and doing increasingly fast mile repeats, among other distances. I was feeling pretty good in late December but when the weather turned wintry in January, the track I use was locked or covered in snow and ice most of the time and my speed work moved inside to the treadmill. This made me nervous, but there weren't that many options, so there you go.

 Bottom line: my treadmill results indicated I should have been able to make my goal, but I didn't trust them.

Early in the week it looked like it might be 17 degrees F at race start Sunday, which didn't sound like PR weather to me, but since there is nothing more out of your control than the weather, it seemed silly to worry too much about it. The pre-race mustering was inside a government office building with a big courtyard lobby, which is a really nice touch. Also, it turned out that it was closer to mid-20s yesterday morning, but with the sun out, I felt warm enough at the start to worry about being hot and take off my hat. Good choice.

I set up near the front of the crowd and there were a lot of women up there edging toward the front and I felt it might be a fast field. For the first time of several (many?) I reminded myself that I was not there to race them, I was racing the clock. I had a time goal and if these girls (women, sorry) are fasties, so be it.

The gun and go. The course started out with about 0.2 flat, then up over the biggish overpass and then a mild climb from mile 1 - 2.5, about. Then it flattens out and there is one short little climb to the turnaround and then back you come.

As predicted, a bunch of the women all around me shot off the front. After the overpass, a group of 4 of us settled in together and all were going the same pace: two men and one other woman. The guys were pretty tall so I tried to get behind them, but didn't get too much of a block, as the wind was coming at us more from the side. The 4 of us stayed together until about mile 4.5 and I stuck with the other woman until the last 0.2, where she managed to put some distance between us.

What I am going to remember about this race, I think, will be relentlessly watching my pace on my watch, constant self-talk ranging from the point above about my goal being my clock time, reminding myself that this is what all that time at the track all fall and winter was about, and, in the second half, just trying to get to the next mile marker on pace before thinking about the one after that.

Coming toward the finish, the overpass came in sight and somehow looked enormous. My miles had been, more or less, faster than 7:00 at this point, but I had been pretty sure I needed those banked seconds for the overpass and to account for any difference between my watch miles and the actual race distance, since it seemed like I was a little off. I didn't want to slow down on the overpass, but it was going to be inevitable so I was planning to try and get some of the time back on the descent to get the average back.

In the end, the last 0.2 was super painful and I had to watch the woman I had been running with run away and I got passed by another woman who I hadn't even known was there (and who, I learned later, turned out to be my new  Ignite Endurance teammate Brie - our kit doesn't have long sleeves and neither of us was in it), but my first sight of the clock was in the 41 minutes and it looked close enough. I finished in 43:02 with a official race results pace of 6:57 (my watch said faster since it claimed I had run 6.25).  

I was so happy that I managed it, and it took me almost the whole rest of the morning to think about how long it might take to get down to a 40 minute 10k. I have really liked having a run-focus winter, so maybe that will be next winter's goal. Hopefully after this winter's focus translates to faster run times on the triathlon course.

The one thing I haven't liked about a run-focus winter is that my left hip and my right knee have been bothering me. Carrying our baby on my hip for months and months last winter is probably the origin (or a key origin) of this issue and I tried to address it with some trips to the chiropractor in the summer with moderate success, but had fallen off the routine because I had trouble making it in every week for treatment.

When Airrosti, specialists in soft tissue injuries, because Ignite sponsors, I found that there was a doctor nearby in McLean and decided to give it a try. The treatment itself is kind of painful, but not much more than I faced at my chiropractor. And it really seems to work right away. the first day I found myself walking more smoothly. I am really pleased with my progress so far in 3 or 4 treatments and my running stride is much improved. So thanks to them for the help in this weekend's success.

The hip isn't perfect, but I noticed almost right away that I was running faster and my strides didn't feel teeny tiny, like they had been. The tough part is the homework, rolling and exercises 2 times per day at home. I am going to try to keep at it, but I am afraid of falling off when the treatments stop after this week. I think that with some diligence, I would be able to hang onto many of the benefits, which, of course is the point.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Swimming 1000 Yard Time Trial +

Time trial at Sunday evening Masters tonight. I've gotten to go to this 90 minute practice two weeks in a row and I have been very surprised that I am able to swim the 4000+ yards without much trouble, even though I never swim more than 3000ish yards and about an hour on my own. My arms are a little tired tonight, but I have been expecting to be totally exhausted and instead I am still up at 10:40pm.

Anyway, not much to report on that except that I managed a 15:01 on the time trial, even though we had a little bouncing around in our lane with positions. What I don't know is whether I will be able to be back for many of the future iterations, but this is one thing I can certainly do on my own, even if I would never manage the length of the whole practice if I were on my own, for weakness of mental toughness.

I have my second treatment tomorrow with Airrosti, a new sponsor of Ignite Endurance. It is injury treatment on this hip thing I have from carrying a baby on my hip for months and month last year and then being a triathlete. It has been achy and annoying over the last 12 months or so and I have seen my chiro a few times for it and other things, but I am focused on trying to make it go away now. After my first treatment last week, I noticed walking back to my car that I was moving better. I expected something, but not to realize that I had been kind of hobbling for months. More to come on that.