Consistent running 20-25 miles a week produces results. Who knew?
Quick pre-race mojo check:
After last week’s race, my legs felt sludgy. My easy runs were slower than normal. However, I know that my body doesn’t respond that well to a full week of complete rest, so I tried to just take everything easy pace (75 miles of bike, 5.5k of swimming, 17 miles of running) and not reduce overall volume, and hope for the best. Well, I did one dose of swim speedwork, but that almost doesn’t count.
I had some twinges in my heel and ankle, and a little weird pain in my hip Friday after my last run and they maintained into Saturday, but I tried to just not acknowledge them – they weren’t bad, but a bit of a bummer after being completely healthy for a month.
Day before – we ate a sandwich and soup for lunch (I am part of the fast eaters club, Zliten is not), watched Captain America 2 (really great), and had a slice of pizza for dinner. Then, our next door neighbors were having a party, so we stopped by (nommed on some veggies, meatballs, and rice krispie treats), but the people partying and champagne cocktails were too tempting, so we went home and tried to go to bed.
Our bedroom is really near the fence to their yard, so when the TV got quiet we heard them. No ill will, if it wasn’t for the race we would have been over there partying it up, but it kind of made us sad. I tossed and turned for a bit and then finally got up, went to the guest room on the other side of the house and read until I got sleepy.
Zliten woke me up – and I got about 5 hours of sleep total. At least it was 5 hours of SOLID sleep. I got a cliff bar and some purple stuff in me, and did my normal morning stuff. I wasn’t PUMPED but was awake and good to go by the time we got there.
The race is right next to our work, so we took our badges and used the super nice bathrooms there, got a little half mile jog warmup, and then got in the corral and it was GO TIME.
The plan was to stick with Zliten, who had a garmin. I had mine this time too (charged – natch), but put a bit of athletic tape on it so I could start it, but not see anything until I wanted to. However, he got antsy at the start and did some parkour to get ahead of the people in front of us, and I wasn’t willing to do that (re: niggles that I didn’t want to aggravate) so I let him go and decided this was a good test of my own internal pacing.
I was feeling sludgy. I’ve felt sludgy all week, I didn’t get quite enough warmup (probably half a mile), I slept crappy, and no taper, so I just took what I had and kept myself honest. Every so often, I’d check in and ask myself if I was hurting enough, and if I was hurting too much. Depending on the answer I’d adjust my pace, but most often, I found I kept myself in the right effort zone naturally. Not that it felt natural, it hurt, but it was the right hurt, if that makes sense.
I thought I remembered they had a clock at 5k and 10k last year, but they didn’t, so I resisted the urge to peek at my timepiece and just kept running. Downhill felt less good than normal, but I know lately I’ve been feeling my best mid-race, so I was hoping for some love there.
Looking at my splits after the fact, I’m really happy with how consistent and on goal pace for a 1:35 they were. I didn’t bomb the downhill portion, which meant I saved a little more for the uphill. Consistency. Yeah.
I saw Zliten on the first turnaround. He was significantly ahead of me. I was NOT ready to try and make up that ground yet, so I just went on with my steppin’.
Mile 1: 9:32
Mile 2: 9:24
Mile 3: 9:21
Mile 4: 9:33
This is kinda how I felt…
Around mile 4.5, it starts going back up. I threw down my visor so I couldn’t see much but feet and just focus and could just go make camp in my own little pain cave. The uphill didn’t feel nearly as uphill as it has in the past (yay lots of false flat training) and I rounded the corner for the little loop and was actually feeling… kind of decent?
And then there were cold towels. Ahhhh. Did I mention it was 70 degrees and 90% texas humidity? Bahhhh. NOT MY WEATHER. 45 degrees, please.
I hit 10k and peeked at my average pace – it was 9:34. Ok, great, on pace for a PR, just about what I expected/hoped, and I was starting to feel a little more decent. Let’s do this… and then another uphill, a pretty big one. Visor back down, and push push push.
Mile 5: 9:46
Mile 6: 9:39
Mile 7: 9:51
Back to focused.
The rest of the race was on a) home turf (this is part of my work loop I run weekly) and b) the most hills of the course. I chugged the uphill out of the Domain as fast as I could, visor down, flag in the cave, and then hit the nice long flat frontage road strip.
After mile 8, I ripped the tape off – and hey – 9:35 average. I had only slowed 1 second per mile. Cool. Let’s try to see what I can do the last two miles. I gave it my all at that hill, and while I saw my pace slow a bit (low 10s), it didn’t slow much.
Sadly, once I came off the hill, I didn’t have much left in my legs, but it was the last mile so I just gave it what I could. I could have definitely used some nutrition there (probably about mile 6-7 to kick in there), but it was so close to the finish and I don’t tolerate solids that well running in hot soup, so I just willed my legs to keep it up.
The last uphill to the finished surprised me like it does every year, but I sprinted the best I could and crossed the finish.
Mile 8: 9:34
Mile 9: 9:47
Mile 10: 9:28
.13 and change: 8:54
1:37:08. A 2:49 PR from last year. Racing 8 days ago hard, with zero taper, in terribly hot and humid weather with sludgy legs. Last year I had probably the race of my life here. This race was simply a good representation of my mental and physical training in the weather and the circumstance of the day. With amazingly consistent splits. As expected. I will so take it.
I’ll also take my results in the field: overall place 1005/3415 (top 27%), gender place 435/2437 (top 18%) , AG place: 87/434 (top 20%).
Let me also note that Zliten ran a 1:33:59. Over a 10 minute PR, and he beat me again. He rocked the shit out of this race. He must have an AWESOME coach.
A year ago, after I had the race of my life here, I got really, really hurt a week later, ruining the run leg of most of the rest of my triathlon season. It’s taken the greater part of a year to claw my way back, but I’m not only back now, but in the best run shape of my life. Feels good, man.
The swim and bike training has not gone too shabbily either, but another “feels good, man”? I’m not going to be dreading the run this year. All signs point to me having a pretty strong swim and bike leg, and then getting off the bike and DESTROYING the run in a way I haven’t been able to in my triathlon years.
Three weeks to the first triathlon of the year. Bring. it. on.