1st race since 2008 – smarter & faster, but still need to be smarter/faster

Posted on May 15, 2010

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October 2008 was the last time I ran a race. I had been running (just normal person running , no elite running here!) since 2003 & have done every distance up to & through a marathon. At the end of 2008, work life was taking a big turn & something took me away from running. I still couldn’t tell you what exactly, but I lost “IT” for training for running. Too busy/focused with other areas of my life, blah blah blah. Well, 2010 brought me to a new career focus, a group of new friends, colleagues, and clients – and these things combined to fire me back up to start running competitively again.

Oh yeah, & the fact that my 66 yr old client found a 1/2 Marathon in Iceland this August for us to do was a bit of motivation to get my A into G asap!

Again…no 6 min miles here…if you want that, go to my client Jen’s blog as she’s the elite sweetheart around here…but competitively to me means focusing your daily workouts toward an end result that you are passionate about achieving. It means going out to do a race to finish hard, not just do it for the sake of doing it.

So I’ve been training for this 1/2 Marathon in Iceland, and thought, maybe I should do a few races before hand to get the kinks out & figure out just what I’m capable of. On Tues of this week, I found a 5K to do on Saturday (today) & showed up.

I chose to go ipod-less, after reading Jen’s post about beating a girl who was wearing an ipod. There was plenty to think about with form & race pace. The weather was PER-FECT. Light sun & clouds. A little breeze. Mid 50’s temps at race time. I dressed correctly in a technical t-shirt & my fave Nike running shorts. I met Drew & our friend/client Pete at the race. It was Drew & Pete’s 1st 5K & they’d decided at 8:30 the night before they were going to do this race. Love it!

We warmed up then went & stood in the area where 9 min milers start, figuring that would be a good average time for all 3 of us. I told Drew & Pete what Jen told me, “be smart on that 1st 1/2 mile so you don’t totally kill yourself & have a hard time with the rest of the race.” I was also telling Pete about trying to pace correctly so that you didn’t end up getting slower as the race went on. We all agreed that we should be around 200 bpm for a heart rate when we finished (full on, way uncomfortable, leave it all out there pace).

The gun went off & we were off! Drew & Pete immediately got ahead of me. I felt awesome keeping my HR in the mid 170’s. Surprisingly, I didn’t really think about the arm swinging I’m supposed to be doing, and I definitely wasn’t thinking about my breathing through the diaphragm thing that Jen tells me to do. But I was doing them both! I guess all the arm-swinging-breathing-right practice is becoming more natural for me! There was lots of heavy breathers -not me!- in mile 1. I thought, ‘these people are in trouble if they’re breathing this heavy now!’

Here are my splits – way better times than I used to run, but when I tell you what I was feeling at each mile, you’ll see right away what I need to improve on.

First mile: 8:39   HR: 179

Second mile: 8:38  HR: 191

Third mile: 8:39  HR: 196

My AT is somewhere in the mid-180’s so for a short distance, these HR’s are survive-able. 1st mile, I felt great. After the first mile, I thought, ‘ok, time to get serious, how hard can we do this & still survive to the finish?’ I started pushing harder. Second mile, I found a guy who was wider than me, and got right behind him to draft. (Jen was right, get on someone’s ass & let them take the wind – worked awesome as I was able to recover myself a bit while behind him for a 1/3 of a mile). When we hit the marker for the 3rd mile, you could see where runners ahead of you were going, & I was looking to see if I could see the finish so I could eye-ball how hard I’d need to go to survive to the end. I was now paying attention to my breath & it was getting heavier. I tried to just run hard, no real lactate building, just breathing heavy. I felt like I was working harder, definitely harder than mile 1 – ‘good I thought, I’m going to be pushing hard to the end, rather than dying out like so many others are doing right now.’

We came around a bend & I thought, ‘we’ve got to be close, but how close? When should I take it to the 6th gear? Too soon, and I’ve gassed myself out before the finish in previous training runs & too late and I’d only have a 100 yards or so to pump it, and I knew I wanted about 1/4- 1/3 a mile to run in that 6th gear. I was now only thinking about swinging my arms hard, squeezing my butt to push my legs for a faster foot strike, picturing my diaphragm expanding to give me more O2. Ok, I see walkers who did a 1K, we must be close!!

I came up on another guy, way too much cologne on! Looks like I’m going to race him to the finish! It was full on now as we could hear the announcer at the finish line. The only lactate I get is in my deltoids. I know I’m almost maxxed when my shoulders get this cold feeling in them that spreads down to my elbows. I get the feeling of either I’m going to puke, pee, or explode & I just try to hang on for dear life till it’s over. Once I could see the finish line ahead, I was able to dial in & ignore everything except finishing as hard as I possibly could. It was like tunnel vision & I saw the time board & thought, ‘c’mon Kate as close to 27:00 as you can!’

Final time: 27:02. Three seconds from getting a time next to my name starting with 26:xx – damn! I finished, hit my Garmin lap timer & proceeded to walk to the grass so I could spit like a lady. 🙂 I found Drew, who of course, beat me (he’s competitive beyond belief, I had no doubt he’d run a sub 24 min race). We found Pete, who had to laugh because he got beat by a 7 year old in jeans (awesome run Pete! You beat 30 mins which rocks for your first race!). So what does Kate need to get better at? I realized that I thought I was running harder each mile to go faster, and in fact I was running HARDER, but I was not running FASTER. Look at my splits! They are almost the EXACT same time each mile – but my HR was jacked higher in each one! My running economy obviously needs work since I felt like I was doing more work to run faster, but in fact, was only doing more work to keep the same pace. Not good. Needs fixing.

Now I know what I need to work on. And I know the time I’m motivated to beat (26:xx or less next time!). All in all, it was a fun morning, and a necessary eye opener for what needs to be modified in my training program so I get better. Can’t wait for the next challenge! Pete said he’s up for a 10K, and I think Drew is too, I just need to get him off his dirt bike long enough to do it! Hope to see some of you at a 10K soon!

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