Training: Nov 27 – Dec 3

Blah blah blah.

Another week of 5K training. But a light week, owing to a 5 mile race today. My legs felt trashed after the previous week’s 5K race. But they were snappy again for Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday I headed to Edgemont High School for what would be yet another aborted attempt to train there. This time around, it was the wind (and cold) that stopped me. The weather websites were delusional, claiming it was around 48 windchill. It was actually somewhere in the 30s. So I was under dressed. But, mostly, the issue was wind. A steady 15-20 mph number.

I drove there, arriving at prime high school arrival hour (which meant a clogged road and parking lot), ran 100m on the track and knew I’d have a terrible workout. I’d run too hard. I’d freeze. I’d be demoralized. I knew this. So I left.

Drove home and put away all the crap that’s been sitting on the treadmill over the summer. And I cranked that machine up to 6:30-6:35 for some 1K repeats. I have long suspected that our treadmill is slightly fast. I went by effort. If the effort was a little low, that’s okay. Better slightly too low than slightly too high. Plus I knew I’d be racing today, so the workout I’d get on the hills of Central Park would make up for any unintended slackery earlier in the week.

On Thursday I did a slow run, again inside (because it was a long work day and after dark by the time I was free to run), around 9:50 on the treadmill. Then a day off, which I’m going to make a habit of two days before races now. Then another zippy 3 miles 24 hours pre-race, with 3 strides yesterday, Saturday. 8:22 pace for that one.

I’ve got two more test races before Houston. That’s all I could find. But it’s also all I have room for. I’m hoping it’s all I’ll need.

One another note, in case it hasn’t been obvious, the Houston Hopefuls project has been shelved (or, a kinder word would be “concluded”). I just don’t have time for it. And Houston’s just a few weeks away. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still keeping an eye on the women I didn’t get a chance to interview. Two of them ran California International this morning in search of an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. Neither one made it. One dropped out with stomach issues halfway through; this after missing a qualifying time by 10 seconds in the spring. The other missed it by 10 minutes after having run a sub 2:48 at Grandma’s in June. In addition, this morning I had a fairly long conversation with a Harrier teammate about his meltdown in the last 10K of the New York Marathon, despite having done everything right.

I really hate the marathon sometimes. It’s just such a bastard.

Race Report: NYRR Join the Voices 5M

This race, a 5 miler (this is known as stating the bleeding obvious), was NYRR’s final race in its 2011 club points series. They swapped it with the Joe Kleinerman 10K, which was moved to January. Good thing, too, because I’m a 5K runner now. I can barely race for 3 miles as it is. Racing for 5 miles taxed all of my systems today.

But. I PRed by 47 seconds (my 5 mile best being admittedly soft, an excuse I figure I can milk for at least another year). My previous 5M PR was also set on a hilly course, although not Central Park’s.

I learned some things today. One of the biggest things I learned is that I don’t necessarily need to do a “proper” warmup to race well, at least not for this distance. I was rushed after picking up my bib and checking my bag. I did a grand total of 90 seconds warmup jogging before heading over to the start corrals. No race pace running, no strides, no dynamic stretching. Just a stupid, barely-qualifies-as-a-warmup warmup. It didn’t matter.

This may have been partly the case because, as is the case with many NYRR races, the course was crowded and I was hemmed in and running slower than I wanted to for the first three-quarters of a mile. But this means that I got to have a nice chat with Hilary, who sidled up to me in the first minute of the race with a hale and hearty, “Excuse me, sir!” This, a reference to a thread we had on Facebook last night about the gender misidentification that having an extremely short haircut can cause, made me laugh. We chatted for a bit, but I said I’d stop being able to talk in about 30 seconds and she politely sent me on my wheezing way earlier than that.

Along the way I saw some Harriers, both on and off the course, and met a few new (to me) ones at the finish line, and reconnected with others whom I know already. But I probably missed others. I had a strange kind of tunnel vision this morning. It took a lot of mental and physical effort to race 5 miles hard. Now, after several months of mile/5K training, 5 miles seems like a very long way. I wore my no frills Timex and didn’t bother hitting the lap splits or even looking at it. I could tell from the course clocks that I was doing okay.

It was a good day. Temperature was 44 degrees (still a little warm for me), it was overcast and there was virtually no wind. I took advantage of the good conditions since I had no excuse for doing badly.

My chip time was 34:39, or about 6:56 per mile. That’s almost down to my best 4 mile pace on this course (6:53). I believe it was also a slightly stronger performance (relatively speaking) than was my 5K in Flushing Meadows a week ago. I took a day off on Friday and ran just 3 miles yesterday, after a week that featured just one hard workout. I’m becoming convinced that doing a mini taper (and no warmup?) is the way to go.

Aside from the warmup and mini tapering lessons, I also learned that I should ignore weird phantom injuries that crop up a day before the race. Yesterday, there was a weakness in my left leg. The quad felt like it was going to fail a few times, just while walking around. This morning, as I made my way down the stairs at 5:45 am, the left knee felt shaky. I was relying on the handrail to get downstairs. WTF. Well, you know what? Nothing TF. It’s just weirdness. It means nothing. Usually. Sometimes it means you’re about to get a catastrophic stress fracture. But most of the time, it doesn’t mean anything.

I remain grateful to have remained uninjured since July. Knock wood. It has been such a shit few years in this regard. I think that remaining uninjured, more than anything I’ve been doing training-wise, has been the key to my “sudden” improvement. If you can’t run, then you can’t train consistently, and you can’t get faster. But I also think doing a lot of different kinds of speed work (and a weekly tempo run) has been a crucial element in this training cycle. Jack Daniels’ training comprises about 80% of what I’m doing, but I’m substituting other workouts, like 1K repeats, that I have felt would help me more, given my training history. These are turning out to have been good instincts, I think.

Next up: a 5K in Bethpage on Long Island in two weeks. I hope that one doesn’t have hills or 23 right-angle turns. But if it does, I’ll be ready.