Getting it right

My absence from my blog doesn’t represent an absence from running, but there have been plenty of days when it has felt like that.

My self-perceived lack of running in recent months meant that I almost considered not even signing up for yesterday’s Miles for Music 20k. I felt enough pressure to do it from the combined force of being a member of RVRR, that this was the first USATF Team Championship race of the year, and that I am now a member of the 40’s team (which actually means I can be used on two teams as I count as a possible member of an Open team too).

Over the last few weeks I have taken part in some unofficial club track workout sessions, and the inaugural Pi Run (3.14 miles of fun on 3/14). During these endeavours I have felt slow – mainly through being unable to maintain the higher paces for long.

For the Pi Run, I had put together a team (called the “Pythagorunners”) so I ran this fairly hard, but failed to impress myself when it came to speed.

All of this lead me to have no real expectations for Miles for Music (combined with having had relatively few longer runs so far this year). Not that I thought I would do particularly badly necessarily, I just had no expectations. Even as we started and a fellow member of RVRR asked me what I was aiming for as I went past, all I could answer was “no idea, whatever feels right”.

So, it was with this attitude that I coasted along, not paying too much attention to my pace (the clocks at 5k, 10k and 15k gave me good perspective though), and generally enjoying myself. When my I saw my split times at each 5k I got concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to keep it going, but I felt good, and seemed consistent – even if I faded I thought I would be reasonably okay. As the race went on, and others faded, I was able to pick people off one at a time, frequently finding myself on my own as I bridged the gaps. One thing I did that I have not done in the past was stop for water every few miles. I grabbed a cup three times during the race, slowing to a walk because I haven’t mastered running and drinking from a cup at all (without choking anyway). In the past I would have worried about losing precious seconds (I suspect that my dramatic decline in the same race last year at the 10 mile point was potentially due to not taking in water).

Proof I was enjoying myself for at least one part of the run

Proof I was enjoying myself for at least one part of the run

Proof I took on water

Proof I took on water

The results show my finishing time as 1:27:57.89 (although I swear the clock said 1:27:55 as I crossed the line, and Strava is telling me 1:27:52, and I wasn’t that far back at the start).

Given 20k is not such a common distance (at least around here), this is only my 3rd time doing it, and while the pace was not as fast as my faster half marathons, it is still my best 20k race. 2 years ago at this race (my first race over 5k, and my first for RVRR) I ran 1:29:19, and last year I ran 1:30:58 (after fading a lot towards the end).

Comparison between 2013 (left) and 2014 (right) mile splits

Comparison between 2013 (left) and 2014 (right) mile splits

I got to hang around after the race, listening to the music (it is Miles for Music after all), impressed by these guys:

And then, after the family had arrived, I ran the one mile event with my 6 year old – not as fast as she was last year (not sure what happened then, I was riding bike lead for the 5k that time while she did that), but it was still a lot of fun.

Time to get started

As I mentioned in my last post I feel like things have been slower in my running life, both in speed, and in frequency/distance (and with keeping up this blog). With the first USATF NJ team race approaching fast I feel like I need to start focusing, so I have a plan.

Today I looked at what races I would try to do this year, and this is what I have so far:

This would be only 15 races for the year (if it stays like this, and counting 3 races at the Runner’s World Festival) which is less than last year but I am sure that others will come up.

As I can now be used for the RVRR Open and 40’s teams I am planning to run the majority of the races where that counts (annotated in the list with the USATF division for the race). Given my recent feelings of slowness (and heaviness) I had doubts about running Miles for Music in a couple of weeks, but perhaps I’ll surprise myself. It’s an all divisions race and I can run for both the 40’s team and the open team in the same race so that’s where I felt the pressure to run.

I’m feeling better about things already.

Now I just need a plan of attack, and hopefully RVRR can help with that too with their plan to organize individual track workout plans. It may be a slow start but I intend to try for those targets I set myself of 5k, 10k and Half Marathon personal records.

This sort of focused training may provide me with motivation to post here more regularly too.