Monday, April 28, 2014

The Jay Lyons 5k...don't look at the watch, just run.

The Jay Lyons 5k is a local race I enjoy doing every year and is normally a good azimuth check on my fitness and how I'm progressing. My fitness track given the last few months. Considering the 5k I ran last month was a sub-21 (not what I wanted either but acceptable) I thought for sure this one would be better. I mean right? Right?! Ugh. I know this course really well too. I've raced it 4 times and I drive/run part of the course often. Granted the weather was sub-optimal at best (it was raining...and cold...and in the low 40's. Really, it's almost May for crying out loud!) I thought I'd have a good day.

At the start, I seeded myself back in first third (there were around 550 runners) in order to keep me from my usual of taking off at the gun and I told myself to not look at my shiny new Polar v800 heart rate monitor during the race. Instead, I should just focus on running strong and chasing down people. 

I looked decent...
After the gun went off, I quickly found myself within sight of the pace car. Oh crap, I'm going too fast! I tried to settle in and focus on what "felt" like a good pace. Even though I wasn't looking at my watch and the course mileage wasn't marked (which I could've sworn it was in years past) my v800 vibrated at each mile. So I didn't know what's pace was but I did know where I was in the course. 

The first half mile is a slight uphill to a right hand turn. I wanted to establish a good rhythm. Then flat to sloping down road to catch my breath and recover before another right hand turn. Flat road to another right hand turn and I kept telling myself "run strong...and catch people". Then....the steady uphill climb to mile 2. By the way, I HATE this hill! I tried to focus on good turnover, driving myself trough the hill...and passing more people. The right hand turn at the top of the hill allowed me to catch my breath and then try to pick up some speed (and pass more people)...then the sun popped out and it got humid and hot (really?!) as I got to the final right hand turn. There's a slight rise to push through...then it's downhill to the finish. Once I saw the finish, I was surprised that I had enough gas to "kick" and pull away from the runners around me to head for home.  I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch and was handed a commemorative glass (which is handed out to the first 50 finishers). I knew I hadn't run fast but figured I'd ran in the high 20's or maybe a 21 flat at worst. 
That smile came before I looked at my watch

As I walked and tried to catch my breath, I glanced down to my watch to see a 22:16. Twenty two minutes?! Are you kidding me?!?! Ya, my fitness level is off and yes there was that killer hill...BUT I haven't run over a sub-21 minute 5k in four years! I was crestfallen. I went to the overall results and saw the winner only ran an 18 which is slow by 5k standards...but still! I didn't feel like I was running slow. I had a good training week and other than being nervous at the start, my body felt good. And, and, and, I had handily ran a sub-21 just a few weeks ago. Shouldn't I have been faster?! Shouldn't the training between then and now ensured I at least ran a sub-21?! All questions I don't have an answer or explanation for. All I can do is pour over the data and try to figure out what went wrong. I have a solid training week coming up and then my first Duathlon of the season next Sunday (one in which last year I had a top 10 finish, won my age group AND qualified for Nationals). Let's hope I can pull it together by then. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why I train like I do...

I'm often asked about why I train the way I do and why I smash my bags when I train. As a young soldier I had this weathered old platoon sergeant that use to scream "the more you bleed in training the less you blows in war". Well, my life the last few years hasn't been that great (host of reasons not worth getting into here) and I see training as a way to suffer more than what life can throw at me. 

Problem is, when you slack off from training the life sucking pile gets too big to overcome. The last couple weeks has had me focusing on the problems and not a solution. So, I decided to throw on a BAA shirt and go out and run hills to inflict some pain on myself. Trust me, it makes total sense in MY head. That 5 plus miles was not fun at all...felt like a had the weight of the world on my shoulders (or around my waist) but it was just the kind of bag smashing, snap-out-of-it I needed. Today...turned out to be a pretty good one. Now to stretch a few of these together and get back on track...