Monday, March 24, 2014

The Year of Yes I Can

Moving a bit stiffly this morning after my Caesar Rodney Half-Marathon adventure yesterday.  As I mentioned earlier, I decided to "shock the system" a bit and just jump into a half.  The last time I had ran more than 7 miles was on 9/22/13 when I competed in the Ironman at Lake Tahoe.  So, over six months without a run of any length.  Further, I'm really just 6 weeks or so into triathlon training after I arrived back in the states in early February from my climbing adventures in Argentina during January.  One last complicasting factor, I had 45+ hours of training over the prior two weeks in my body and my legs were heavy and tired come Sunday morning.

However, with a 4/14/14 H-IM looming (NOLA), I decided I needed to get at least a couple of longer runs in before it.  I have very modest expectations for IMNOLA70.3 and I know my run will not be in good H-IM form from just a couple of long runs, but at the least I'll probably endure less discomfort at that race by "putting money in the bank" in the form of some longer runs.

On Saturday night before the race I compounded my lack of race readiness by having some friends over to watch my two Alma Maters (Michigan State and Harvard) play for a NCAA Sweet 16 birth (how cool is that?).  This late night affair was accompanied by 2 IPAs and half a bottle of Tiganello and 4 slices of pizza.  I awoke Sunday morning feeling all of the above but happy for the fun of Saturday night--btw, I was hoping for the mighty Spartans to win and win they did--bring on Virgina!

Anyways, it's probably a legit question to ask if I'm crazy to do this race on such little training (it's probably always legit to question my sanity!).  In my defense, I'm in my 14th year of serious triathlon  training and racing and with that I believe I have developed a deep endurance base that safely allows me to do things like this half-marathon.  I had no illusions about my performance or about how my legs were likely to feel during and after the race, but I felt confident the race would on balance be a good thing for me both mentally and physically.

This is The Year of Yes I Can and I vowed to continue the positive mental attitude that I copped on Aconcagua and continue to apply it to my life and all of my athletic endeavors this year.  Who knows, I might make it my new modus operandi long-term (no snickering allowed!).  So I "hopped" out of bed and eagerly made my way to the starting line.

This was the 51st edition of this venerable race.  I had done it once before in 2005 (back when I could run pretty well) and finished in 1:37 (btw, as you will see, this is one heck of a tough run course).  Today, my goals were to finish (with a smile on my face) what I was treating as a training run with some 1,400 friends.  I expected to finish somewhere in the low 2s...

The race had a late-ish start at 9:30 and the temp was 37 degrees with a modest (10 mph) wind and overcast skies.  I had a long sleeve technical top, some running tights, a baseball cap and light gloves.  I plugged my urbeats into a killer Armand mix and bopped a bit to stay warm as I waited for the gun.

Off we went and my plan was to keep my HR in my high z2/low z3 range (150-160) and hopefully run between 9:00 and 9:30 miles.

  The first part of the course is much faster than the last half as the course is generally flat to down hill through the first 6+ miles where a series of challenging hills kick in.  Here is a course profile:

I hit mile one in 8:29 and my HR averaged 148bpm.  This seems too fast but was probably pretty reasonable given the downhill nature of the first mile.  Miles 2 and 3 were 8:53/155 and 9:10/156 so a pretty good job of tactical control.  However, my legs were noticeably heavy from my recent training surge and I knew tougher times awaited me.  A great song spooled up on my iPod and I just smiled and cruised through the next couple of miles: 8:58/158 and 8:56/158.

After heading down to the river and crossing the 6th mile in 9:18/159 the real fun began.  We began the long climb up the hills to Rockford Tower, the highpoint of the course just before nine miles.  It was tough work and my legs really felt it but I was pumped because this training stress was precisely what I was looking for on this Sunday morning.  Miles 7-9 were very challenging and I slowed considerably: 9:42/156, 10:20/154, and 9:52/153.  My declinning heart rate is a clear indicator that my legs are not as enduranced hardened as my cardiovascular system--my legs were unable to stress my CV system enough...this also means that with some more investment in longer runs I'll be able to go quite a bit faster.

After Rockford Tower the course was considerably easier (not to say easy) and I was content to cruise along in the mid 9s.  Miles 10-13 were: 9:03/155, 9:36/152, 9:40/151 and 9:43/151.  The last part of the race actually has one of the toughest hills as we ran up from the river and back to the center of Wilmington.  It turned out that the course was 0.1 miles long (by my Garmin) and I crossed the finish line with a final time of 2:03:44 (my official time).  Here are some more summary reports from the run:

Tough course for sure--my GPS had the elevation gain at 1,850 feet, which seems a bit high to me but there was a lot of climbing for sure.  I was pleased with my decision and my effort yesterday.  Even though my run is the weakest of the three triathlon sports I was thinking (positively) today that in one sense it's my best discipline.  Nine years ago my orthopedic told me I had to stop running due to the deterioration of my meniscus and articular cartilage in my left knee.  Since then, I completed numerous tri, running and biking races.  I've done another 10 Ironman races and climbed some pretty big mountains.  It's hard for me on the run--especially in LC triathlons when I start the run so fatigued.  I endure more pain than most (I believe--given my knee) but I'm still out there doing it.  As the old saying goes: "Someday I won't be able to do this, but today was not that day".  This is a source of pride, satisfaction and optimism for me.  

Days like yesterday fill me with positivity and optimism--even though I'm an old, slow runner.

Onward and Upward! 

No comments: