Saturday, May 26, 2012

Race #4 of the Season: Colorado Rockies Home Run for the Homeless

Oooohhh boy, I'm late with this one.

Anyway, this year was the third year we've done this race. We did it back in 2008 and 2009, but haven't done it the past two years. It's a deceptively tricky downtown course that begins and ends at Coors Field and you get to run the warming track before finishing, which is kind of cool.

It was a cold morning and, given that we hadn't registered beforehand due to finances/schedules, we briefly considered not running before dragging our butts out of bed, eating breakfast and driving downtown. We parked, registered, ran into my friend Liz, dropped our stuff back at the car and left again, ready to run.

We lined up with a vague race plan - one not quite as solid as the Cherry Creek Sneak - and took off.

The first mile is pretty fast - probably the flattest and we nailed it in 9:20. Mile two is deceptively crappy. It's fairly straightforward - only two turns - but it's ever-so-slightly uphill and has the water stop, which means congestion. We hit it at 18:40 - so holding that 9:20 pace, but I started losing Brandon at the uphill that ends mile two and starts mile three.

I was holding on at this point and couldn't keep up with Brandon. As we curled back toward the stadium, I let him go on ahead. I kept to the pace as best I could going into the stadium, trying to pick it up a bit on the warning track and then really kick it once I got back out on the street.

Just after I started my final kick, a guy next to me picked it up as well, probably trying to out-kick me.

Ha. Not possible, bud, sorry. I've chicked quite a few guys in quite a few finisher's chutes. You didn't have a shot.

Even better? I broke that 29:00 barrier and finished in 28:27 ... which I think technically hits my goal of a 28:00 5K, so woo!

Final Numbers:
Chip Time: 28:27
Overall Place: 525/2733
Gender Place: 181/1553
Division Place (F25-29): 42/213
Pace: 9:10/mi

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Race Recap: Rockies Home Run for the Homeless 5K

This 5K is one of my favorite races.  Aside from getting to run around the warning track of Coors Field, you get two tickets to a Rockies game in the future.  Combine that with a fun downtown course, and this is a pretty cool 5K.  I haven't been able to do it the past couple years, so I was very grateful that I got this race off and was able to do it this year.

We woke up early, hit the snooze a few times, and eventually rolled out of bed.  It was a really cold morning, especially for mid-May in Denver.  We mentioned bagging the race for like one second, then decided against it and headed downstairs for breakfast.  We both mentioned we would need to dress extra warm for the race.

When we got downtown, we parked in the usual parking lot we do for this race and headed up to get registered.  Purple shirts this year.  Woo!  After registering, we saw one of T's friends from college.  We said hi, etc. then we hung out in the car for a few minutes, sending out happy Mother's Day tweets and Facebook updates, trying to stay warm.  Then we decided to head up and wait for the race to start.

I was trying to think of a strategy for this race from the moment I woke up.  I knew I could beat my previous PR of 28:56 in this race, but I wasn't sure how.  This course, for a 5K, is surprisingly tricky.  The first mile is arguably the fastest mile, so you have to go out pretty aggressive.  Mile 2 is a slow, plodding along mile, where it can get congested as well.  Mile 3 is pretty fast, but it's got some turns and can be very grinding.  I blew up in this mile in 2009, so I knew that was a possibility.  So you can understand that leading up to the start, I couldn't quite get a race plan going in my head.  

T and I decided we'd shoot for a 9:30 in the first mile, no slower then 9:45.  Then we figured we could pick it up slightly in mile 2, and in mile 3, basically push all our chips in the middle.  When the gun went off, we found some open areas and off we went.

Mile 1 was great, quick as I expected it would be.  The crowd seemed light, or maybe it's the fact you can run across 3 lanes of a downtown street.  Regardless, we blazed through the first mile and hit it at 9:20.  Not bad. 

Mile 2 was even more of a grind then I remember.  Maybe it was the cloudiness that day, or maybe the construction in that area.  I don't know.  It was just a long, slow, grinding mile.  I thought for sure our pace had dropped, maybe to the point that cracking my race PR wasn't going to happen.  However, when I saw the mile 2 marker and looked at my watch, I was shocked.  We would be able to hit it in under 10:00 per mile and keep my goal intact.  When we hit mile 2 at exactly 18:40, I knew it was going to happen if I wanted it to.

Mile 3, as I said, is deceptive.  You think it's a quick flat mile, but it's way too easy to start kicking it, then blow up.  I knew I'd have to rein it in until I got close to Coors Field before I kicked it.  And that's exactly what I did.  At some point, T gave me the green light to go ahead of her, as she said she couldn't keep my pace.  

When I turned into Coors Field, I ran like a man possessed.  I tore around the warning track with such ferocity I couldn't believe my legs were kicking the way they were.  I saw the finish, and quick looked at my watch.  Realizing that I was going to shatter my PR, I kicked as hard as I could to the finish.  My watch said 28:01

I waited less then a minute, and then T finished.  We got water, then headed up into the stadium to enjoy hot dogs and squishies.  Yay ballpark food for post-race!  We also talked to her friend a bit more; a runner herself who I'm sure we will have adventures with this year.

At first, I was slightly disappointed in my time, and I don't really know why.  I mean, a 28:01, or 9:02 per mile, is nothing to sneeze at.  Yet I was wondering how much more I could have done.  Could I have cracked 28 or even better, a 9:00 per mile?  I don't know.  I won't know.  I ran as hard as I could that day, and ultimately, I have to live with that.  It is just another thing to keep working on and building on. :-)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

April Recap

April started out with a lot of promise.  March was a great month.  We worked hard all month and had great results.  April was going to be bigger and better.

Then T fell off her bike.

It's funny how your priorities shift after something like that happens.  My only concern when she was hurt was to get her better.  I didn't care about anything else, including our races.  If our season got derailed, so be it.

But we bounced back strong after some long off days to nurse her back to health.  It wasn't a great month in terms of totals, but the fact we were able to rebound strong is a good sign.  

Let's go to the board, shall we?

Totals:

Swim - 4050 meters, or 2.52 miles
Bike - 40.6 miles
Run - 27.68 miles
Strength training - 2 hours 9 minutes
Yoga - 7 minutes

It's kind of funny.  Like I said, the numbers aren't great.  But I feel very very good about them.  Unless May involves some sort of derailment like we had in April, it should feature our biggest numbers yet.

Race Recap: Cherry Creek Sneak

Ok, blogger changed their format, so this will be interesting to work with.  Bear with me here.

I had a great week of training leading up to this race.  However, with Theresa's bike injury and the time off we had to take due to that, I was not expecting much from this race.  I thought beating my previous P.R. was possible (51:23) but other than that, I wasn't planning on much.  I figured we'd take it easy, ease back into serious running, and go from there.

We woke up with no sense of urgency.  Not a bad thing, actually.  We had breakfast (I only got one egg, boo) and then headed down to Cherry Creek.  With them adding an early 10 mile race, it was surprisingly busy in terms of getting to our usual parking spot, the Cherry Creek Mall parking garage.  However, we made it eventually.  We walked to pick up our bibs, and from there just settled into a pre-race routine, which involved a lot of walking and more or less hanging out.  I bought a banana from Safeway and we just waited.  Then soon enough, the 5 mile race was corralled.  

From running this race before, we knew the start got crowded quickly, so our plan was to run the first mile at around a 10:15 mile.  We hit it in a 10:07.  From there, things only dramatically improved.

Mile 2 - this was a nice downhill mile.  T mentioned to me as we were closing in on the sign that she thought she might have to walk but I told her we could dial it back and we did.  When we hit the mile 2 sign, she didn't have to walk and we kept going. 9:08

Mile 3 - this involved a very slight climb which we kept slow and steady.  We both started settling into a nice groove.  Also, I rolled up the sleeves of my long sleeve technical T which I wore under my Sioux technical T. 9:32

Mile 4 - this was an interesting mile.  Pretty much flat or so I thought; turns out it was very slightly downhill.  However, we continued to dial it back.  Also, the course had slightly changed since we last ran it and therefore we were a bit surprised.  We also started mumbling how a PR was in sight.  9:26

Last Mile - at this point, we knew we had it.  Not only were we going to crack our PR, we were going to crack 50:00, and even potentially squeeze our way into a better qualifying BolderBoulder wave.  We hit the water stop, walking through it.  I also made the determination that while I knew I was going to crack both the PR and my 50:00 goal, why the hell should I not push it faster and run as fast as I could???  I was hurting pretty good, not in my lungs, but in my muscles, which surprised me a bit.  However, I wasn't going to stop.  Something switched off in my head to just keep going faster.  T kicked it at the end and I couldn't catch her, but I didn't care.  I finished strong and stopped my watch at 47:45, which was just awesome. 

My official finishing time was 47:44, which was just amazing to me.  I ran hard, I ran well, and as I said to T later, we ran the perfect race for us.  I know a 9:34 per mile might not seem all that speedy, but compared to two years ago, where I ran a 51:23, this was a vast vast improvement, and something to quite frankly be very proud of.

After the race, we rode our bikes to the Rockies game.  Somehow running a 5 mile race wasn't enough exercise for the day, I guess.  :-)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Race #3 of the Season: Cherry Creek Sneak

When I first planned on doing this race, I was hoping to be able to run fast enough to get a different BolderBOULDER qualifying wave. With my goal of speed this year, I figured it would be possible.

And then I got injured and had to essentially take two weeks off.

My runs coming back from injury weren't anything special and were definitely slower than they had been pre-bike crash. As a result, I didn't have any expectations going into the race. Which, thinking about it, was probably why we did so well.

We woke up a bit later than we had hoped race morning, but still with enough time to eat breakfast, load up the bikes, get down to Cherry Creek and find a parking spot. We missed our early packet pick-up (dang work) so had to pick everything up race morning. We got our packets and went back to the car, while the 10 mile race went off. In prepping for the race, doing our pre-race business, grabbing the hubby a banana and whatnot, we also heard the guns go off for the 5K, the kids' fun run and the 1.5 mile sprint.

Eventually, though, it was time for us 5 milers to start. While we didn't have many expectations for the race, we were still hoping to do better than the last time we ran the 5 mile (51:24 for me). We figured we could take the first mile easy-ish (no more than a 10:15) and then try to speed it up from there.

The plan? Worked perfectly. The following splits are as best as I remember from Brandon's watch ... (and will be edited once i get them from him)

Mile 1: 10:07. Perfect. Faster than we expected, but still good.

Mile 2: 9:10. Holycrapfast. Near the end of this mile, I mentioned to Brandon that I might need to walk soon. We slowed it down after that, but didn't walk.

Mile 3: 9:20something. Early in mile three we had a slight incline that we slowed down for and then picked it up again on the subsequent slight downhill. End of this mile started getting warm.

Mile 4: 9:30something. Probably due to the new 10 mile addition, they changed the course this year. I liked the change - slightly in the neighborhoods as opposed to running in Cherry Creek North. When we went into the residential area, we also went into the shade and that gave me a bit of a boost. As we were turning back on Speer, however, my legs started to hurt. The thought popped into my head, but I refused to voice it. At this point, hearing the split, I also knew a PR was in the bag.

Mile 5: 9:something. We slowed to a walk for a moment to take some water; otherwise, we just tried to maintain our pace. Fatigue was definitely building in my muscles, but I pushed through it to the finish, leaving Brandon at the end only to kick to the finish which OMGhurt but worth it. My watch didn't stop immediately - dang thing switched modes under my arm warmers - but I stopped it at 47:46 ... a HUGE PR.

Actual race time? Better than that, even.

Final Numbers:
Gun Time: 48:10
Chip Time: 47:40
Overall Place: 1133/2890
Gender Place: 479/1730
Division Place (F25-29): 93/229
Pace: 9:32/mi
Cherry Creek Sneak
Us post race!

The day wasn't over for us, though. If you recall from the beginning of the post, I said that we packed our bikes before leaving for the race. That was because the Colorado Rockies had one of their "green games" where you could get a special deal on tickets by biking to the game. They also had free, guarded bike parking where you could leave your bike while you were in the game.

Given that we haven't quite figured out how to get downtown by bike by trail from the new place yet, we figured it would be a lot easier (and less of a time crunch) to just leave from Cherry Creek right after the Sneak and bike downtown that way.

Super easy and super fun and a great way to work the legs out after the run.

Ginormous PR in the 5 mile plus an almost 11-mile ride afterward? I'll take that for a great day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April Round-Up

(first off, crazy new blogger format! hopefully this is more user-friendly ...)


Anyway, I ended March's recap saying that I was happy with the progress and hoped that April would bring more.


Well, it kind of didn't. Obviously most of that is due to my bike crash, which put me out of commission for about two weeks. Oops. But, the good news is, I got back on track by the end of the month and finished strongly, with a new 5 mile race PR and a wonderful ride to the Rockies game (post forthcoming).


In any case though, here are the numbers:


Running: 20.71 mi
Swimming: 3.23 mi
Cycling: 35.77 mi
Lifting: five sessions
Other: a whole lot of walking, 10 minutes on the recumbent bike


As you can see, a down month compared to March. But hey, I got injured, and I'm working on coming back from that injury stronger than ever (which, so far, is working out).


The main downside to said injury is the associated costs that come along with it (radiology bill due to my multiple x-rays and ct scans, anyone?) that make it slightly harder to sign up for races before they sell out. First things first: Rockies 5K. Then BolderBOULDER. Then 5430 Sprint, Boulder Peak and Tri for the Cure. And RnR Denver Half. And ... ugh. Stupid racing costing stupid amounts of stupid money.


In any case, May is off to a good start already, just two days in. The goal for me this month is to continue to get my base back, lift a crapton (it's helping me out, I can tell) and RUN. I'm on pace for my swim goals and the bike goal will get there easily enough, but I need to log the miles ... particularly if I still hope to crack 60:00 in BB10K this year. Which I should be able to do, if the Sneak is a sign of things to come ...