Thursday, September 8, 2016

Roosevelt 5k and 17 miles - which is better?

As I'm writing this, I have less than 2 weeks to go until the Navy-Air Force Half marathon (9/18). I've put together some really good weeks, with at least four or five weeks of at least 40 miles, and over the summer, put in some consistent long runs between 11-15 miles. While my training hasn't been as solid as it was 5 years ago, it has been much more consistent than it was 2 years ago. I've been making up my own schedules, becoming much more flexible than I used to be (mentally - beyond touching my toes, I'm not that flexible). I don't quite have a firm idea of how the half will go. My PR is almost 5 years old: 1:32:35 from the 2011 Philadelphia Half Marathon. A few months later (March 2012), I ran 1:34:03 as a workout in the Rock and Roll DC Half, and that was the last time I ran a half marathon. Based on how my training has been going, I think these are my following goals:
A Goal - break my PR of 1:32:35 (7:03 pace)
B Goal - somewhere under 1:34:00 (7:10 pace)
C Goal - under 1:35 (7:14 pace)
When I was racing ten milers and averaging below 6:35, I always felt that the half PR was in reach, and I do wish I had tried to go for it back then. But I think this upcoming half will be a good benchmark, and if I don't quite nab the PR this time, it means with a few more months of consistent training, I'll be able to get it in the spring. But I digress.

I did another midweek race on Thursday night - the Roosevelt 5k in Arlington, which ran along the Mt. Vernon Trail in Virginia. This was another chance to get in some speedwork. Having run 20:15 in the NOVA 5k the week before, I was hoping to get within shouting distance of 20 minutes. I chatted with another woman named Jessie who looked fast, and we both said that we were hoping for similar time goals, and I was hoping to just draft off her.
Before the rain and the race!
It didn't quite work like that in reality. While the middle 2 miles of the race took place on smooth Mt. Vernon trail, the first and last .5 mile went down a corkscrew ramp that then spilled onto a wooden path. My warmup showed that I wasn't going to be able to run down this recklessly. I must add, about 2 minutes before the race started, it began to rain fairly hard. While it was refreshing, I was really worried about the wooden section of the course, and ended up holding back on the first mile, trying not to fall, and to make sure I had enough at the end that the corkscrew ascent that would be waiting for me would be manageable. I totally let Jessie, the other woman, go ahead, hoping to make up the distance between us later on. I never caught her. I did manage to blow by two guys, but I didn't quite have the fresh legs I needed to make that happen. I had run 15 miles on Sunday (race was on Thursday), and while I got through the first mile in 6:30, that would be the fastest mile I would run. I managed to pass a couple of guys, but Jessie was about 30 seconds ahead, and was never quite in my reach. Motoring up that last hill was hard, and I was just happy to get to the finish line. I ended up finishing 2nd woman in 20:53 - the slowest 5k I had run in almost 2 years. In running my cooldown with Jessie, I learned she was an 800m specialist who had tried to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the 800, but just missed the mark. With this in mind, knowing that she has the kind of speed that I just don't, it certainly softened the reality of my race. It was a race that I ran fine, and that's it - it was a B race, and just part of the building block leading up to my half marathon.

3 days later, I did my last long run - the longest run, in fact, that I had done all year. 17 miles on the Capital Crescent Trail at 8:40 pace. I saw this as a big improvement from the previous week's 15 miler (run at 9:10 pace - although it was about 10 degrees warmer then). While the last couple of miles felt more like a shuffle, it was actually a big confidence builder, particularly when compared to the 5k. Knowing I could put a few extra miles in my legs felt good, and next week I won't need to go as far in my last long run.

I think ultimately both the 5k and the long run are working together to help prepare me for the half. However, it is clear that I favor, enjoy, and succeed in the long run more than the short race. Looking forward to doing a few more solid workouts leading up to the 18th!

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