Running smarter

Leading up to today (Thanksgiving), I faced a tough choice between running the Ashenfelter 8k race with 2500 other people, or staying at home and hanging out with my family. I’d already signed up for the race, so I decided to go with a plan to run, then escape as soon as I was finished.

My goal, once again, was to try to run an even paced race (my first post on this blog was a result of taking this approach in a race).

Ultimately, I was really pleased with the race I ran. My Garmin splits showed what, in my mind, was a smartly run race – a 6:53 first mile, followed by 6:51, 6:44, 6:38, and the last almost mile at 6:44 pace (there was a threat of a stitch coming on for the last mile and a bit, which thankfully held off enough for me to finish without having to take a break). My official chip time was 33:37 which is pretty pleasing, as my goal was actually a little slower.

However, there were a couple of people I have regularly beaten this year (not always by much) who beat me quite convincingly today. Earlier in the year this probably would have bothered me as I would have seen it as a failure on my part. Today though I feel like I easily had one of my better runs, not necessarily in terms of speed, but just in terms of getting it right for me.

I left soon after I finished, as planned, and despite getting caught up in a bit of traffic due to what looked like a pretty bad accident (only one car by the looks of it, somehow colliding with the concrete divider between the north and south-bound Garden State Parkway), I was glad to be home at a reasonable time to spend the majority of the day with the family. I look forward to a time when the kids are older and can come and participate in an event like this so we can do it as a family.

Running in the cold

As it’s starting to get cold I’ve been struggling to get into the routine of what to wear on winter runs. It’s not that I don’t have the right clothes, or enough of them, it’s just that I don’t remember what I ran in last year at varying temperatures.

I do remember one rule I came up with last year – shorts and short sleeves are fine down to about 48°F (about 9°C). This worked out well for me last night when it was pretty much exactly that temperature when I went out. I remember doing a race back in March which started off with temperatures in the 30’s, and I wore shorts for that. It was tough at the start line, but I soon warmed up (as did the weather a bit if I recall correctly), so it is possible to wear shorts in colder temperatures.

I have been having problems over the last couple of weeks working out what to wear in lower temperatures, and have felt that I have been over dressed on a couple of runs.

I’m sure I’ll work it out over the next few weeks as I get used to the weather patterns again. I’m happy to run in any temperature (pretty much) thanks to a set of clothes I got for cycling a few years ago. I have managed to cycle in 15°F (-9°C), and that doesn’t include the wind chill, and have stayed relatively warm which is more that can be said for the water bottle I carry which has a tendency to freeze shut during rides in those sorts of temperatures.

Does anyone have any “rules” they live by to determine what to wear for a run based on the temperature outside?

Update: the first of the colder weather updates is here – Running in the cold part 2.
Another update: Running in the cold part 3

First marathon?

This year saw my first half marathon (and my second – although I felt less prepared for the second), and my aim was to work towards a marathon in 2014, but today my facebook feed was full of updates from the Philadelphia Marathon.

RVRR puts on a strong showing for this event, with many people going down to cheer our runners, and they even arrange an after party. All of the excitement is enticing me to possibly do this next year, so maybe I should go on the record now, and say that, all being well, I WILL run the Philadelphia Marathon in 2013.

I’d already been planning ahead, and I was thinking that my first marathon might be the Reykjavik Marathon in August 2014 (Joy has always wanted to visit, and it would be a good stop on the way to visiting family in England). That would be a much smaller race, and it’s unlikely I would know anyone there, but I think that will still be a goal for the time I would like to achieve (under 3:30); now Philly will be a good start in getting to that goal with the support of the many friends I have made through running with RVRR for the last year.

Race volunteer

Today was my first time volunteering at a race.

I had to be there by 7:30 and decided to cycle there because this was the time I would normally do my longest workout of the week. It was cold, around freezing at home, but slightly colder at the race location (Colonial Park, Somerset, NJ – Colonial Park Turkey Trot, 1 mile and 5k).

I was wrapped up warm enough, except for my feet (which are always difficult to deal with, unless I’m riding in my winter cycling shoes – and, of course, as this wasn’t just a ride, I needed more practical shoes). When I got there my toes were frozen, but luckily there was a toilet block with a hand dryer, so I lifted my feet to get blasted by the warm air from that.

Volunteering meant a lot of standing around in the cold, and then putting out some cones on the course. There were more volunteers than were really needed, but it was all good fun as we cheered on the runners as they ran the course, while also trying to keep them on the left hand side of the road (the course was entirely within the park, and was basically up and down the full length of the park twice) – this part was pretty easy as the majority managed this without a problem, but there was one guy who seemed completely oblivious to everyone shouting for him to keep to the left.

On a side note, it always amazes me how many Brits I bump into our here (one of the other 20 odd volunteers was a Brit too), and I met an older guy who was originally from Bethnal Green while he was warming up.

After the majority had finished I cycled home along the Delaware and Raritan Canal path, making a round trip of just over 20 miles on my single speed hybrid (I would have stayed longer, but had to get back for various things including a family trip to the Cirque Chinois at the State Theatre this afternoon – the kids loved that).

Next year, when Rebecca is 6, I think she may be ready to run the 1 mile at this event.

I knew it couldn’t last

If you’ve read any of my other posts, or my Past Races page, you will know that this year has seen my race calendar explode (from a couple of 5k races in my two prior years of running, to all sorts of distances this year).

This is also my first year as a USATF and Running Club member, and what I had no idea about early in the year was the USATF NJ NBGP Series. I only really found out about it when someone pointed out at the end of May that I was second in the Men 35 – 39 Age Group. Now, I knew from looking down the results that it was mainly because I had completed more races than some clearly faster guys, but who knew – maybe those guys wouldn’t complete them all. Points are gained from running 3 races in each category. Most races would give a maximum of 500 points to the winner, but championship races give 700 points, and you’re allowed two of those races in each category to count towards your score.

  • THREE RACE DISTANCE CATEGORIES
    • CATEGORY I           3K TO 4 MILES
    • CATEGORY II         OVER 4 MILES LESS THAN 15K
    • CATEGORY III       15K AND ABOVE

Somehow I crawled into first place in early September by virtue of actually completing enough races in all categories when nobody else in my age category had. Still only a matter of time until I slipped down.

By October I had managed to gain more points simply by running the Newport Liberty Half and others started to fill in their races, but I was hanging in there and maybe, just maybe, with some luck, I could finish in the top 3 in the age group.

I planned ahead and looked at what races were coming up that could give me a few more points, and the only one is coming up on Thanksgiving – the Ashenfelter 8k (all other races were unlikely to give me extra points).

The latest standings however show that 3rd place is now out of my reach, and I’m likely to lose 4th too. I knew it would happen, and I can’t really be disappointed given that I’m still proud of what I’ve done this year.

Right now I’m not sure what next year will bring in this competition (I’ll be in the next age group as I will turn 40 during 2013, but then so will 2 out of the 3 currently ahead of me this year). My focus is going to be very different (see http://runninginnj.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/the-day-i-became-a-runner/), so even though I may do the races, I don’t think I’ll be so obsessed with checking the status of the NBGP.