Tag Archives: Running

Philadelphia Marathon 2011

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3:06:06, I have mixed emotions from this one. I “technically” qualified for the 2012 Boston Marathon, it just happens to already be sold out which I knew ahead of time. So that means I would have to meet the new 2013 qualifying times which for me meant 3:05:00 which as you can see I just missed.

This is an hour faster than the last Marathon I did in 2008 but I had some bigger goals and thought Boston Qualifying was going to be a no brainer. In the training leading up to the race we had targeted at 2:57:30 or 6:46 pace and all my workouts had been built around that.

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The build up for the race was a quick month and half crash course after the Poconos 70.3 in October and the inability to fit in the ideal number long runs was the one of the things that contributed to my demise the last seven miles.

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But I think the first thing was my inability to trust the plan and that I wasn’t going to blow up. The idea was to run my 6:46 pace and let the HR build as the race went on but not to exceed 181. I went through the first two miles and was bumping up against my HR limiter so I backed off the pace and my HR settled down, but from looking at the graph I was probably too conservative in what I did and my HR went way down, I probably could have been 5-6 seconds per mile faster and been fine. I made it through the first half in exactly 1:30:00 so I was only 1:15 behind “A” goal even with backing off the pace a bit and was feeling fine.

The next 9 miles are when I think I let things get in the way and doubted my ability to hold up the pace. My HR went way down, 6-7 bpm compared to earlier in the race and my pace slowed which means I was easing off the effort. Usually if the pace was going down and my HR was going up or staying constant (which happened later) that is a sign of getting tired, or if the HR is going down and you feel low on energy it means you need more calories but I was on top of my plan so I don’t think that was issue.

 

The last five miles were very frustrating as the wheels seemed to fall off and paces dropped to 7:18, 7:30, 7:38, 7:45, and 7:26. A slowdown is almost certainly going to happen at the end of a Marathon it was just extremely frustrating to see the pace drop off 30 seconds per mile and doing the math in my head to see the Boston Qualifying slip away and not be able to run any harder.

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I thought the race was very well run. I was able to stay downtown and walk to the start line which I found to be very organized and I had plenty of space to warm-up. There was tons of crowd support out on the course and all the aid stations had plenty of supplies. For a race that has the half and full shares the course up to mile 13 the second half of the run can get lonely sometimes but I didn’t find that to be the case here. There were still plenty of crowds and the out and back of for the second half helped some too.

One thing that I always find interesting is to look at my GPS data and see how far I actually ran during the race. A marathon is 26.2 miles but you almost never run that exact distance do to crowds, moving over to get water at aid station, etc…there is an interesting right up of it here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2009/03/racing-line-understanding-how-courses.html

So I was very happy to see that I ran 26.33 miles which for a race this long is about as good as it gets.

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2011 Georgia Half Marathon Race Report

1:29:15 115th overall

This was the 4th time I have done this race (2009 report here), with last year’s National Half Marathon being the only time I have missed the Georgia Half. This result was good for a 6 minute PR overall and a 10 minute PR for this course.

I stayed downtown near the start which made race morning a breeze. I took care of all my morning stuff at the hotel and walked the 1/2 mile to the start with 30 minutes till the start. I got in a warmup around the Georgia Dome to get the legs and heart pumping again.

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With my predicted time I was in the sub-seeded “B” corral towards the front so I didn’t have any trouble getting to the right spot with a couple minutes to spare. That’s a big deal because a race with more then 10,000 people can become very hectic when it gets close to start time.

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As for the race itself I had a plan from my coach which was based on heart rates instead of pace because the hills on this course make trying to maintain a consistent pace counterproductive.

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The start was a bit frustrating and more crowded then I would have expected, I got boxed in behind slower runners a few times and then was stuck behind a big group following the 1:30 pacer. But I guess it’s just another lesson learned to make sure I’m closer to the front.

The first 2.5 miles were suppose to be at a lower HR to ease into the race  and take advantage of the initial downhill section but I had lots of trouble with my HR monitor and was getting some bad readings. I spent some time messing around with the strap but backed off the pace a bit just make sure I didn’t go out too fast and sabotage the rest of the race. This is the section where I probably lost at least 30 seconds in my overall time because my perceived level of effort for this section was not very high.

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After the first 2.5 I bumped the HR up and got into a good rhythm by keeping the HR in check and not going to hard up the hills and then bombing down the hills. I got into a good flow and the miles just ticked away.  One interesting note is I finally figured out how to drink from the water cups at aid stations while still running which is something I’ve never been able to figure out until now.

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Atlanta was a lot hillier then I remembered it being. The hill out of Piedmont park was very tough and then running through tech was very hilly as well. There are hills in Maryland that I run so I wasn’t unprepared, but the difference is Maryland is more rolling hills on a gradual incline and things in Atlanta are usually shorter and steeper.

After the hill on Tech Parkway at about mile 11 I bumped the HR up again. This is where they played a mean trick with the race clocks (was probably a just a mistake and not intentional). I was only using HR on my watch as that was all my plan cared about so I wasn’t seeing my total time. When I came to the clock at mile 12 I saw 1:17:xx which mean if I ran a 7 minute mile I could break 1:25:00. The problem was I should have recalled that the mile 11 marker was 1:13:xx and I didn’t just run a 4 minute mile, but I will blame that lapse on being tired from the race and not wanting to do mental math. That meant the mile 12 was several minutes behind so I was very shocked and disappointed to see 1:29 on the clock as I entered the finish chute.

This is the table my coach made for me about how well I was able to execute my race plan and it looks really good. The only exception being .5-1 where I got caught up in the crowd and spent a lot of energy trying to pass people and find open road.

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With the half marathon done it’s time to recover for a couple days and then start the build up for the triathlon season. Eagleman is three months away and the first race of the year is less then one month away!

George Washington Birthday 10km race

Net time: 40:00.04, so close to hitting that sub 40 goal. It’s better then my last 10k and still a PR but taking that time in context it is much better then it looks because today was not a good day for running fast….

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The plan for this race was to run a 6:20 pace until the turnaround capping my HR at 193 and then run 190-193 the rest of the way back regardless of pace.

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I got in a warmup and it was very obvious to see the first half of the out and back course was going to be slow since it was right into the wind. Because of this trying to run with a group and having other bodies to block the wind would be a big deal.

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The race started and I was able to stay in a pack and get through the first mile right at 6:20 without going over my HR limit but a quarter mile later I started to bump up against my limit so I backed and fell off the back of that group.

I hoped another group would catch up to me but it never happened. I got one or two people coming past me I could draft but I ran mostly by myself until the turnaround,  and it’s easy to how that impacted my race, with 6:54 and 7:02 as my mile 2 and 3 splits.

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Coming back was obviously faster with the wind at my back  and I was actually able to run a wind aided 5k PR if you used just the second the half of this race.

The last .2 miles went over a bridge and then a short straightaway to the finish. After coming over the bridge I saw the finishing clock and thought I still had a chance for sub 40 but…

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I got hit by a nice swirling gust of 50mph wind that brought me to a stop and almost knocked me over, and yes that is sand, dirt, etc getting blown around by all the wind

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So I missed sub 40 but 4 1/100ths of a second.

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2010 Candy Cane City 5km

This was my first 5k in 10 months so I was curious to see how much faster I have gotten over the last year, and comparing it to the same race last year. It was in the high 30s/low 40s so it was chilly but I got a warmup and got to the start line with 5 minutes until race time.

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The course is a mostly out and back course in rock creek park with a slight downhill for the first half.

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The start is very narrow along a jogging trail so to make sure I didn’t get boxed in I started towards the front and got to my desired heart rate very quickly.

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The first mile was a little bit downhill and combined with the fast start I went through the first mile in 5:55 which was a bit fast but my HR was where I wanted it to be and I was feeling good.

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The race plan was to run at a certain HR until the turnaround at mile 1.4 and then bump up the effort. I made it to the turn around with a 6:04 pace, and then up the effort until mile 3. I averaged a 6:12 pace from mile 1.4 to 3 which is a drop in pace but some of it was uphill so I’m fine with that.  

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Then the last 1/10th of a mile  was a hard effort to the finish line where I averaged a 5:45.

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I finished in 19:02 on my watch  which is just under a 6:10  pace and a PR of 1:17. That doesn’t sound like a much, but for a race this short it’s about a 25 sec per mile improvement. I’m hoping I was able to sneak in under 19 minutes on the official time.

5km races aren’t to bad because you are settling into pace for the first mile and it’s only the last mile- mile and half that are difficult but it’s over so quick you mentally know you don’t have put up with the discomfort for long and just keep going.

But it is a hard effort and I think these two pictures right after the finish do a good job of capturing that feeling.

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Home Stretch

This was my last big training week for Ealgeman and my two week taper started today. Thursday I went out for a long trail run, since I hurt my ankle this winter I haven’t been trail running much so this was a nice change of pace. It was scorching hot out and when I got done my shorts were so soaked with so much sweat it looked like I had hopped in the pool.

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Saturday I had a “race rehearsal” work out which is a 56 mile bike ride at race pace followed by a six mile run. I wanted to go back to Cambridge and ride the course like I did a few weeks ago but the weather was predicted to be thunderstorms so I decided it would be better to stay at home and ride instead of driving for two hours just to get caught in a thunderstorm.

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The problem with riding at home is that the terrain is very different so it isn’t a great simulation of what I’ll see on race day, which just miles and miles of flat. But this where the powermeter comes in handy, I just ride to the watts I need to and don’t worry about the speed because it will obviously be less then on race day. I had a good ride, hitting all my watts and I had a solid run afterwards. The bad news was the weather was perfect all day. That’s not really bad news, but it means I could have gone out to Cambridge and rode the Eagleman course again without getting rained on.

Sunday I got another bike ride done at a good pace.

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Looking back at my training for Eagleman this spring I been much more consistent with my long runs and bikes compared to last year and I’m about 15 pounds lighter. Based on my training and race performance this year if I get good weather I should be capable of sub 5 hours and a 4:50:00 race is the goal.

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Report

I finished a big training week the cherry blossom 10 miler today. I had my long ride yesterday so I really wasn’t sure expect. But I finished in 1:11:22 which is a four minute improvement of last years ten miler so I’m happy.

I took the metro to the race and got to the start area with plenty of time to spare. IMGP0141_edited-1

So I was able to walk around and snap a couple of quick monument before I went to warmup.

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For a warmup I ran over to the Lincoln memorial which was really cool looking at this time of day.

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I got back to the start area and took care of some last minute stops (secret: the bathrooms by the 5km start are a lot less crowded) and got into my assigned corral.

One benefit of getting faster over the years is that I usually get to start in the first corral at these big races and I think it makes a big difference in terms of enjoyment and ability to have a good race. It’s a lot less crowded and everyone tends to know what they are doing so wasting energy weaving through crowds is not an issue.

For the race itself the weather was perfect and I think I did a good job with my pacing. I didn’t go out too fast and settled into an even pace. The drop in miles 3 and 4 is due to a lost GPS signal when we ran under the overhang by the Kennedy Center not an increase in pace. I didn’t really have a “goal” for this race I just wanted to put in a hard effort and what every was left in legs at the end of this week is what the results would be so I was surprised to see myself running low 7’s relatively easily.    

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I thought the course was ok. It’s stays along the water most of the time which is nice but I found the Hains Point portion of the race to be kind of boring and without a lot of spectator support. The sections by the mall and Washington Monument were fantastic and packed with cheering spectators which is always nice. 

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The longest part of my day was the trip home. I decided to walk back to the metro center stop so I could get on the red line and not have to transfer trains. The walk took me by the White House and I was able to see all the extra security at the Willard hotel for the delegates coming in to town for the nuclear talks this week.  But the bummer was the metro ride home. Apparently there was a fire on one of the tracks between rockville and shady grove (my stop) which caused the trains to run on a single track. This means long waits at every station and the ride home took forever.  

National Half Marathon 2010

I ran the National Half Marathon in DC this weekend. As you recall I sprained my ankle about a month ago and lost out on several high mileage weeks so I knew my sub 1:30:00 goal was realistic anymore.

But here is what I did do:

Overall AG Gender 10 km time 10 km pace chip time pace
402 106/605 335/2909 43:34 7:01 1:35:11 7:16

 

This is a five minute PR on a course that I think was hillier (ie slower) then the course in Atlanta which was a surprise to me. And the weather was absolutely perfect today.

The race starts at RFK which was painless to get to in the morning and then makes a clockwise loop around DC.  I really the liked the course, the first few miles involved a trip by the Capital building as the sun was still rising which looked awesome. And then the rest of the course had great crowd support from the neighborhoods and aid stations. 

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The start wasn’t much of a hassle and I was able to settle into my pace but I was up towards the front so it might have been different further back.

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There was a slight downhill on the second mile that I picked up some time and then I settled into a 7:10 pace for a while until the hilly section. I took things easy going up the hills but looking at my chart for pace I didn’t make up as much time going downhill as I should have.

After the hills I keep chugging along and passed the 10 mile mark in 1:12:00 (which is a PR). I tried to pick it up for the last 3 miles but that didn’t happen. Instead I lost focus around the 11 1/2 mile mark and slowed down quite a bit. 

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I still put in a good effort and think I paced the race well based on my splits time remembering that the middle miles are a bit hillier.

And here are the obligatory finish photos of me looking like I am going to throw up.

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I milled around the finish area getting some food, drinks, and then took a photo at the start line. Looking back it’s been nice to see the progress in my half marathon times. I’ve gone from a 2:02:04 to a 1:53:50 to a 1:40:54 and now a 1:35:11.

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This race signals the end of my running focused winter and now it’s time to get back into full triathlon training mode and ramp up for the Eagleman half ironman in June where I think the plan is going to be to shoot for a 1:45:00 half marathon.