Spring Race Training: Week 11


The mileage drop in Week 10 helped me quite a bit this week. I felt great all week despite the problem of March winds, which asserted themselves on Tuesday morning and again, overstaying their welcome, today for my Sunday race.

With the exception of one slower treadmill session, all of my recovery runs were on the quicker side. I may be getting fitter and faster, or it may just have been a spell of temporary freshness from the relatively low-demand days of the previous week.

In any case, all of the hard workouts went exceptionally well. Tuesday’s midlength easy+tempo effort was a surprise. With bad wind, I figured I’d be lucky to get below 7:00 pace on the last four miles. But I was able to run pretty close to goal pace for two of the four miles, then had to slow down for the other two headwindy ones. Still, eight seconds off pace per was fine with me.

Considering how difficult these longish easy+tempo runs have been for me so far, I felt as if I’ve made a real leap in endurance. That will be put to test next Sunday, when I run a 22 miler with the last three at 6:50 pace.

Thursday’s track session featured delightful weather: 50 degrees and a wind of merely 4mph. The goal was 4 x 1000m in 4:05 each (6:34 pace) Splits were a little uneven, but they averaged out to 4:06: 4:10, 4:03, 4:06, 4:06.

On Thursday afternoon I finally got in to see our orthopedist/sports med guy. After an unnecessary x-ray (performed without even having looked at my foot; no wonder our health care costs are so high) he diagnosed a cyst or “thickening of the sheath” of a ligament. One painful cortisone shot later, I was on my way. The foot feels great now.

On Friday I ran a 10 mile recovery run in a steady downpour and was soaked by mile two. But it was actually enjoyable, with temperatures around 50 — once I accepted that I was going to be wet (and very badly chafed, as I soon discovered), it was sort of fun running straight through six inch deep puddles. I felt great and ended up running 9:07 pace for that one. I did seven strides too, but they were a joke in those conditions.

Once again, I loaded up on carbohydrates on Friday and Saturday to prepare for today’s big sandwich run/race out on Long Island. That went very well — historically well, even!

Week 12 is another 100 mile effort, with a plain vanilla 15 miler on Tuesday and a monster track session on Friday (or maybe Thursday, depending on weather): 16 x 400 in 1:37 with 45-50 second rests. Eep!

And yet…and yet…I find myself looking forward to it. I want to see what’s possible. Or, rather, see if what I think is possible is actually doable. I’ve also got that 22 miler on Sunday, but (and maybe this is a mistake) I’m almost treating it as an afterthought to that beeyotch of a track workout.

What remains to be done between now and May 30th is a great mystery. I’m eagerly awaiting the final eight week schedule from Coach Kevin. If it weren’t my birthday, I’d say I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve.

Race Report: Jack Dowling 10 Mile Long Island Half Marathon Tuneup

I won’t bury the lead: I won the women’s race by three and a half minutes. And, boy, was that fun! They even had a little tape for me to run through.

So now that you’re impressed, I’ll instantly deflate things by including some crucial information: There were only 20 women in the race, and lots of them were walkers. So it wasn’t exactly a NYRR race. But, a win is a win, so I’m taking it, little plastic trophy and all.

I ran this race as yet another sandwich run: four miles at aerobic pace, then the race, then another five at aerobic pace. I ran the four early miles too fast, mostly because my legs felt great and I was excited (having seen the winning women’s time from last year).

It was insanely windy, actually windier than forecast. I’m guesstimating the wind at around 15-20mph steady, with gusts near 25-30. For the majority of the course, we were battling headwinds or sidewinds (which were almost as bad; I managed to kick myself in the calf during one gust, as my foot was blown into my other leg on a turn). For one glorious three-quarter-mile stretch, the wind was at our backs. It’s pretty obvious when you look at my splits what the wind was doing.

The wind explains my finishing time of 1:13:09. I was hoping to run something between 1:10 and 1:11, but it was not to be. Still, I was in the lead within the first 50 yards and upon hitting mile four, where I could see runners coming from the opposite direction, it was pretty clear that unless I fell apart, I’d stay in the lead. So I spent six miles feeling the little thrill of my impending victory, however modest.

The race was organized by the Long Island Road Runners Club in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. It was surprisingly quick to travel to and is a great park for running: lots of paved paths, grass to run on, and mostly flat. It was a well-marked race (and it started on time), and everyone was very friendly and welcoming. The LIRRC has races nearly every weekend, so I’m sure I’ll be back.

Like the 15K a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t race this one all out. But I did apply myself throughout and my pace was again very even. Heart rate average was 89%. My watch read 10.08 — it’s amazing what you can do when you can actually hit all the tangents — which equals a 7:16 pace. If only it hadn’t been so windy…

One final note on that wind. When I was doing my final five miles, I ran along the course. There was one unmanned water table and I noticed that there were no cups of water left. Since there were still people on the course, I thought I’d make myself useful (and give myself an excuse to stop for a moment) by filling up some cups. I filled five cups and what happened next was comical: A sudden gust of wind blew all five cups right off the table! I gave up and kept running.