Sunday, March 24, 2013

Scope it out 5k

I've finally been in DC long enough that I've run most of the big courses and races. And while it is nice to try new things, it is also great to return to familiar races. The Scope It Out 5k was the first time last year that I broke 20 minutes. While last year, it was my goal race for March, this time it is just a tune-up race en route to my big April races (Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and Pikes Peak 10k). So there was no taper this time: I trained through this one, with a difficult workout just prior:
I had a great, hard workout on Tuesday that was a brand new one to me. Many of my workouts that I've done are similar iterations of each other. Mile repeats, or 800s or progression runs: I have been doing them all since 2010, and only the times have changed. It's rare these days to have a brand new one, but I got one sent to me that I was so anxious to try out:
20 x 400m with 100m jog in between each, starting at 99 seconds and work down to 94 seconds, knocking off 1-2 seconds per "mile" (4 x 400). So, in a way, it was like a 5 x 1 mile progression run, just broken up differently. I think the most 400s I had ever done was 10, and here we go doubling that and picking up the pace. I was anxious: both excited and nervous for this mighty different workout. There was a sense of duality about the whole thing: both nervous and excited. It looked both long and short (after all, each interval would be done in under 100 seconds). The recovery was the shortest, but the number of intervals was the greatest. But I averaged 1:35 for them (6:20 pace) and even got the last one in 88 seconds!
It overall was a success. Standing at the start, it seemed daunting. And there were moments throughout, lap 6, 12, 17, for example, when it just felt arduous. I was constantly toeing off and it was literally flying by. My mind shut off the rest of the world, the rest of my day, the things to be done. It was just e and the track. In the field, the women's lacrosse team was practice, and occasionally my eye wandered over to them. And in the baseball field behind me, the men's team had a baseball game, and so sometimes my ears picked up on the cheers or the crack of the bat. It was a great workout, but definitely not an easy one right before a race. I also was helping my boyfriend move across town and got in some good lifting in the days leading up to it, and that wiped me out a bit.
I had a nightmare the night before the race that I missed the start of the race and had to just do it as a time trial all alone. But was very relieved to wake up and just have it be a dream. I did my warmup from my house and got there with plenty of time to spare.
Last year, I was the fifth woman, and as a result, I figured I could get up to the front this time. No Olympians or trials qualifiers. Just a couple of other fast looking women. One woman told me, "You look serious," and then proceeded to move a few rows back. When the gun went off, I tried to take off as fast as I could, but it was hard to get the legs moving. I saw a few girls go out way in front, but a couple who were more in reach. I came through the first mile in 6:25, which was a little slower than I had hoped. I started to pick things up a bit...but things were pretty spread out, so it felt almost more like a solo run with a few scattered guys around me. I couldn't even see the women in front of me. Mile 2 was 6:17, so I was definitely picking things up and working my way through it. Last year, I felt so light and easy doing it. Not this time, but I was making progress, and mile 3, 6:11, the finish line was in sight. I did my best to finish strong, and I did in 19:50 flat.
26/2280 overall
4th woman
So while this was not a PR (off by 30 seconds), I was really pleased with the effort. This was not my goal race, but now I am getting to the point where I am running sub 20 in the 5k with some degree of consistency. I am learning to push at the end when it is uncomfortable, and I look forward to using this speed in my April races!
(These pictures are from my last race, the St. Patrick's Day 8k, but on the same course. Weather was much sunnier that day!)
Making a run on the Capitol!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What a difference a month makes: St. Patrick's Day 8k

Exactly 4 weeks ago, I had my rust buster 5k, which I averaged 6:33 pace. It didn't feel great, and I was in the middle of a yucky stint in training. A week after, I finally got on track, and had 3 weeks of very consistent, near-perfect training. I was ready and excited for my 8k today. Sarah told me to aim for somewhere between 6:30-6:25 pace. Part of me was a bit dubious: a month ago, I couldn't even average that in my 5k. But, as I reflected on some pretty good runs, I decided I needed to just go for it.
Spring ahead! Really, on race day, I had to lose an hour? Oh well. I actually got a pretty good night's sleep for spa change and even woke up before my alarm. Always a good sign. The weather was absolutely gorgeous: sunny, low 40s and no wind. Perfect perfect. And the race was close enough to my apartment that I could run there and have that serve as my warmup. I made a friend (someone else running to the race) and we ran most of the way together. Still amazing how that world of running can just open up so many conversations. It served as a nice distraction, and before I knew it, it was time to toe the line. I positioned myself in the fifth row. I knew our local Olympian Clare Hallisey was there, as well as a few Olympic trials qualifiers and it was my hope that I could just hitch on behind them and go. Looking at last year's results, I was aiming to come in between the top 20-30 women.
I came through the first mile in 6:20, which was too fast, but I've come to expect that. It doesn't freak me out anymore, and it just means I pull back in mile 2. And that is exactly what I did, getting through it in about 6:30. I was feeling good, and while it was a fast pace, and faster than my workouts, I was hanging on fine. There were a lot of people around me, and I was using them as motivation. Yeah, it is nice to be up in front and place really high, but it is much harder/lonely. You end up doing much more work. But that was not the case. I felt myself holding back a little, and I knew I would start aiming to pass people at mile 3, with a second kick at mile 4. And that's exactly what I did, slowly picking off person by person and moving up. The final mile (well, .97) was hard, and there is a point when you can see the finish from far away. But before you get there, you go around a block, and then back to the finish stretch. It definitely plays with your mind. At this point, I had been getting closer to another girl, but could not catch her. I didn't care: there was only so hard I could push at that point. As I was getting closer to the finish line, I could see the clock in the 31:50s ticking. I was hauling ass, and the announcer even said, "Is she going to make it?! She's so close!"
Woooo! 6:26 pace and right where our plan had been. Yes, that was my 10k pr pace too, but this is still early in the spring season.
20/2214 women
120/3772 overall
I came in the top 20 women and the fact that some of women ahead of me were elite runners...I will take 20 just to be within shouting distance to them. It was a beautiful day for a spring race and a great confidence booster. Yes, 2013 started off slowly, and with some bumps, but I am in a groove now! Last month, I pushed to run 6:33 pace for a 5k, and I ran this month faster in a longer race. These things take time, and I look forward to getting in some more races this spring.