Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Taking the Good with the Bad and Then Taking Action to Improve

When I started this blog my biggest fear was the thought of blogging after a bad race. So far this year I have been lucky enough to have solid performances that I have enjoyed blogging about. My race at the Penn Relays this past weekend is the farthest thing from a solid performance. It was downright ugly.

So here I go facing my biggest fear...This is my post-race blog after my worst race of 2013.

Taking the Good with the Bad.

The Good: I saw my mom for the second time in two weeks and we had a fun bike/run in the wildlife refuge outside of Philadelphia before I flew back to Florida. Also, I was able to see my coach for the first time in months and it was great to catch up on stuff besides just training.

Despite having such a poor performance I had several solid workouts in the two weeks leading up to this race. I take confidence from those workouts especially since they were on the track and this year track workouts have been a rare occurrence with the few times I have stepped on the track resulting in some pretty rough sessions. I know the solid sessions I put in the past few weeks and the other work I have put in this spring can still help me in future training and racing.

The Bad: Every step after mile 2 in my race.

I could go into the long list of why I ran so sub par and how awful I felt, but that won't get me anywhere. Instead my course of action is identifying areas in my daily life where I could improve so that my next race will be back in tune. The first step is making more time to be able to fit in the following improvements.

Cross Training (swimming/aqua jogging & biking) I have a pool in my complex and I plan to use it. Also, I own several different bikes so I need to get out the door and hit the roads and the trails. (I've actually already started on this since I've hopped in the pool after my last 4 runs for a nice, easy 15 minutes of aqua jogging and I plan on taking one of my bikes out for a real ride before the weekend is over.)

Going to the Gym (weightlifting/general strength) During the year I have gone to weightlifting with the team, but it doesn't always fall on the best day for my training or racing schedule so I have neglected some of the exercises I used to do. In the coming week I plan to join the gym that is in walking distance from my condo so that I can get in 2-3 weight lifting sessions per week and have another space to hold myself accountable for doing my general strength work/additional forms of cross training  (such as the elliptical, yoga classes).

Injury Prevention/Maintenance (stretching more, active stretching/drills, icing, sports massage) Although I feel I have done a decent job of doing these things I still went into my race with two nagging injuries. I think part of the solution is adding in the weightlifting/general strength I have been neglecting (If I can strengthen some areas that will help prevent some of these minor nagging injuries) while simultaneously increasing the time I spend stretching/doing other injury prevention. I also plan on scheduling an appointment with a chiropractor I know that has a great reputation with athletes to check my alignment to see if something in my stride is off causing my hip pain.

With these new training goals in my mind I look forward to a solid training cycle over the month of May. My next definite race on the calendar is not until June 22nd at the Half Marathon Championships, but I will be researching to find a race for approximately a month from now. In the mean time I will be training smart and staying positive!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pumped for The Penn Relays 10,000m

The 119th running of The Penn Relays is finally here! I am so excited to be heading back to one of Track & Field's premier events. Unfortunately, I will be flying out early Friday morning after my race so I won't get to stick around and enjoy being a spectator of the other races. I am most excited to be a competitor though spectating would have just been a bonus to the trip.  Below is the start list for my race. 
Will be run in conjunction with the College Women's 10,000m

The entries for the College Women's 10,000m have not been released yet, but I am confident there should be a decent sized field.

I love the days leading up to a big race. So much preparation is about to be put to the test and I especially enjoy clicking off splits in my last pre-race workout. Last night's workout was no different as I felt smooth running some 600m repeats at 10k goal pace. I was pleased with how I felt after a busy ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championship weekend. Coaching the lady Noles in Raleigh this weekend was exhilarating and watching the ladies hit some PR's while giving their all to score team points was inspirational.  Coming so close to beating Clemson for a team title made for a thrilling Saturday and after their solid performances I can't wait for the rest of the season. It also peaked my own excitement for seeing how all of my hard training will pay off when I test myself Thursday night.

My general goal is to compete in the front pack of the race and break 34:00 minutes for the second time. I also have some tougher time and place goals, but for now I am going to stay focused on staying relaxed the first few miles and then turning on my competitiveness. I can't wait to be back in Philadelphia and absorb all the energy The Penn Relays has to offer.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Getting Calloused on the Track

Photo by Amanda Winslow
The primary goal for last night's track 5k was to get out there and run 10k goal pace. I did that for almost two miles before it got ugly. I managed to salvage the last 600m, but I was not prepared for how tough laps 9-11 felt. That aside it was a great night. Nothing beats having your athletes and friends cheering you on and I was blessed to have a great group out there. It was also fun to be in the same race as some of our FSU Striders as they went after their 5k goals. I definitely feel more prepared for my 10k at Penn Relays even though my finishing time was only 17:01 last night. As my coach always says we need to get a bit calloused and that is precisely what I accomplished last night. I am now more calloused for racing on the track. Penn Relays should be an amazing experience and I can't wait to get in there and race. First it's time to re-charge and put in another good workout. Plus we're off to ACCs next week; which I can hardly contain my excitement about. I just love conference weekend! It's only a few times a year that an entire track & field team really comes together and I'm hoping for something special for the team, but no matter what the distance Lady Noles are ready to get after it. It doesn't get much better than being a coach and athlete; last night I was lucky to get to do both within an hour.

Friday, April 12, 2013

From Hilly 10k to Track 5k in 6 Days

Weaving through 5k traffic at the finish. Photo by  Fred Deckert
Despite the many warnings I received about the difficulty of the Springtime 10k course I definitely underestimated how hilly and tough the course would be. I got through it though with a solid time of 36:05 and a 1st place finish. It's 6 days later and I'm excited for tonight's race that will be quite opposite from Saturday's  (NO HILLS!). I am hitting the track for the first time in 11 months and will be running the 5k at the Seminole Invitational at FSU at 8:05pm.

My New Saucony Velocity 4 Spikes
The main goal is to run 10k track goal pace for 5k with hopefully a nice pick-up the last mile. This will be just the physical and mental practice I need before the Penn Relays 10k in only 13 days! I'm also excited to give my new Saucony Velocity 4 spikes a test run. I did some strides in them yesterday and I think I had almost forgotten how much lighter spikes are than my road flats. Ultimately, I am feeling pretty rested after a week of just mileage and the weather seems to be cooperating so far. Hopefully, it's a bit cooler by 8pm and the wind and heavy rains stay away. But in the end that doesn't matter since the whole point is to get out there and feel out the pace while also getting in a hard effort! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Springtime 10k Goals

With my final workout in the books, a nice, short 5.5 miles of work with some great company, I am now focused on Saturday’s race. From what I've heard the Springtime 10k is one of the best road races in Tallahassee with 38 years of history. So I am definitely excited to race the course myself and experience the event. I also keep hearing how tough the course is. Hills, lots of hills, and “don’t go out too fast” have been the common themes repeated by everyone I've chatted with about the race. 
All that considered my main goal is to win the women’s race while also challenging myself with a few time goals.

Time Goal 1
Break my previous road 10k best of 35:24. (Yes, every course is different, but I am still determined this spring to keep bringing down my road 10k PR).

Time Goal 2a
Break 35:00 Minutes. (As runners we always see each minute mark as a barrier designed to be broken so of course I want a finishing time that starts with 34).

Additional time goals inspired by some Springtime 10k history:

Time Goal 2b
Break 35 Minutes. In Springtime's 38 year history only 5 female winners have broken 35:00 minutes in route to their victory. Only 4 more have broken 36:00 minutes. So breaking 36:00 minutes would still place me in the top 10 times of Springtime 10k female winners; which would be a nice accomplishment as well.

Time Goal 3(should probably be called ‘far out goal’): 
Break the course record.
The course record is an impressive 34:09. This is quite a lofty time goal considering my track PR is only 12 seconds faster, but why not put it down! Ultimate/dream goals are what make boring runs go by faster. So I’m going to let myself indulge in a little fantasy racing with this one.

The over arching goal though is to continue improving my fitness as I prepare for the Penn Relays 10k, my first track race in 11 months. And of course have some fun!

Springtime 10k History can be found here: http://www.springtime10k.com/history.html