Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rounding Out The Series

Yesterday marked the final race in the Salt Lake Track Club Winter Running Series, and we were finally graced with a clear and sunny day. Oh yes, and windy! I don't think it was as blustery as the 10K was two weeks ago, but what seemed like a fairly innocuous cross-wind to begin with turned into something to be dealt with as the race progressed. My goal once again was to build up the pace throughout the run; in a perfect race each mile would have been progressively faster. That ended up being a tall order on this particular day, but I was still able to produce a solid negative split (running the second half of the race about 30 seconds faster than the first half). It also was my best time for an open 15K (although I've only ever run 4 of them), and I took 4th place among the women with a 1:02:56. The week leading into the run hadn't really gone very well training-wise so I was pleased to be able to pull it together for a good effort.

Now if you read my post about the 10K two weeks ago you must be wondering...did I catch Mel this time? And the answer is yes! Of course it's all in good fun, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be in the same ballpark as Mel at this point. Since I'm working really hard on perfecting the negative split technique I let a lot of people go early in the run, including Mel and my client Jed and his training buddy AJ. Once I hit the turn-around I started picking it up and tried to reel them back in. I ran out of real-estate with Jed and AJ, but I managed to pick off Mel with about a mile to go. It took me a long time to catch him, but then I saw him falter slightly when another runner passed him and I knew that I had to make a move right there if I wanted to have a chance at crossing the finish line ahead of him. It was a real internal battle for me but I'm really pleased to have recognized the situation and faced it head on. So thank you Mel for unwittingly taking part in helping to make me a mentally stronger runner!

Albert also had a decent effort for the day. He had been a little off kilter this week and felt crappy during the race, but was pleased with his time end effort under the circumstances. The series has been a really great training tool for both of us in preparation for the Canyonlands Half Marathon in three weeks in Moab. That's always a fun trip, and this will be the first year that we're both running it. The week after that will mark my triathlon season debut at the California 70.3 race in Oceanside. But first, a few more weeks of solid training are in order!

Neff's Canyon

Here are some pictures from a recent hike in Neff's Canyon. I love going there in the wintertime because there's something really magical about the place. It's good for hiking, running, skiing and sledding...and we even saw someone mountain biking up in the snow once!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Winter 10K

Oh how the week has flown! We've been so caught up in watching the Winter Olympics that little else has gotten done, including blogging. So here is a quick catch-up: last weekend was the Salt Lake Track Club Winter Series 10K, the second of three installments. Just like the 5K, my goal was to build my pace throughout the run and finish strong. Unfortunately I was not able to entirely achieve this goal but it was still a pretty strong effort for this time of year. All of the races in this series are out-and-back courses on a frontage road sandwiched between I-80 and the Great Salt Lake and the winds can be really fierce out there. We were lucky to have a nice tailwind on the way out...which in turn translated into a beast of a headwind coming back home in the second half. I was pleased to be able to beat the wind and maintain a building pace throughout the first four miles, but the wind eventually won out in the last 2.2 miles and my pace slowed. I was still able to hold onto 4th place for the women with a 40:49 time, which is actually one of the faster open 10Ks I've ever run. Things are looking good for some fast half marathon times this spring!

I'm beginning to have a friendly rivalry with one of the local male masters runners, Mel Lemon, who we know from the Wasatch Athletics running group. He has always soundly beaten me in the past, but with the improvements I've made in my running over the last six months I've been getting closer and closer to him in each run. I actually passed him soon after the turnaround in this race, but he tucked in behind me for a couple of miles and conserved enough energy to be able to swing around me with maybe a half mile to go. Argh! Maybe next time I'll get him. One of my swimming clients, Jed Brain, is also doing the series this year and he watched the scenario unfold from about 10 seconds behind. He said jokingly afterward that Mel should give me half of his trophy from winning the Grand Master Champion state title at this race, since I pulled him along for a good part of the race. :)

While there were fewer participants than at the 5K, there was still a good turnout and lots of familiar faces were there. Albert took third place again, just squeaking in under 35 minutes with a 34:59 effort. He was really pleased with that. Jed ran well, and his training buddy Randall Cooper (also a triathlete) had a solid performance too. They will both be racing at Ironman Canada later this year.

Next up, the 15K! My goal again will be to build up and negative split the run. And see if I can best Mel this time! Until then, it's back to putting in consistent solid training and laying a strong foundation for the rest of the season.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter 5K

Albert and I ran in the Salt Lake Track Club Winter Series 5K over the weekend. This is a great little training series which includes a 5K, 10K, and 15K run, each 2 weeks apart. It is a great winter motivator, fitness gauge, and training build up for an early season half marathon, which is convenient because we're both registered for the Canyonlands Half Marathon in late March. It was a solid day for both of us with Albert taking 3rd place male (16:56) and me landing in the 5th spot for the ladies (19:22). I was really pleased to run a smart race---in a 5K nonetheless!---building up gradually so that each mile was faster than the previous one. This is the third consecutive running race that I've managed to negative split, and over three vastly different distances. Maybe I’m starting to figure this running thing out! It certainly feels much better to run this way than to go out too fast and end up in the inevitable death march.

Overall the training is clicking along. All three disciplines feel good right now and I’m just working on staying consistent and not getting too carried away early in the season. I visited Glen at Wasatch Running Center over the weekend and he helped me get fitted into some good training shoes for the start of the season. We had a really good conversation about training and nutrition, and he told me a great quote that someone once said to him: “There is no such thing as overtraining, only under-resting.” What great words to keep in the back of my mind! If nothing else, I’ve really learned the value of proper rest in the past two seasons and I’m so excited to apply this knowledge to a full racing season and see where it takes me.