Sunday, February 26, 2012

Money In The Bank

Yesterday marked the second installment of the 2012 Striders Winter Running Circuit in Ogden, UT. It is so marvelous doing a series that is practically in our backyard! The low-key race mornings are awesome---I could get very used to this. Start time was 8am, so we woke up a little after 6am to have a quick breakfast, walk the dogs, and take care of the usual business before hopping in the car and driving to the Dee Events Center. Packet pick-up was a breeze and we were able to get in a nice 2+ mile warm-up before the gun went off.

It was an overcast morning with a pretty stiff wind that initially was coming from the south but that at some point during the race miraculously changed directions, so we ended up having a "friendly" wind both ways. The 10K course starts with a short uphill, then is mostly downhill for the first 3 miles. It's essentially an out-and-back course on parallel streets, meaning that the second half of the race is mostly climbing. What goes down must come back up! There's a really nasty hill around the 5 mile mark that would have been absolutely defeating if there had also been a headwind---thank you to the weather gods for that little piece of luck! It was tough enough as it was, but I felt strong and was able to conquer the hill and have some left over to kick it in at the end. The overall times were not very fast (thank you hills) but it was a good effort and I can see an improvement from the 5K two weeks ago. I took 3rd place among the women; overall results have not been posted yet but I think I'm doing pretty well in the cumulative series too.

Albert also nabbed 3rd place, but went about it in an entirely different fashion. Despite knowing how difficult the second half of the course was going to be, he decided to take it out HARD and see if he could drop everybody from the beginning. He ran the first two miles in less than 10 minutes (!!!)---but unfortunately the strategy did not pay off for him as another runner was able to hang onto that pace and then turned the tables on Albert and dropped him when he began to struggle on the uphills. Apparently the "nasty grade" was something of a death march for Albert and kicking at the end was out of the question. Oh well, live and learn. The 10-Miler in two weeks starts with the exact same course for the first 6 miles and then goes on to climb some more, so hopefully he learned his lesson and will be more conservative in the opening miles next time around.

All in all, it was a really solid morning of training: physically, mentally, and strategically. Money in the bank, as we like to say around here!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blowing Out The Cobwebs

Yesterday Albert and I both got a chance to blow out the cobwebs and get back into racing mode at the Striders Winter Running Circuit 5K in Ogden, UT. One down, four to go in the series! Overall awards will be given out at the end of the series for the top 3 males and females who have the lowest combined times over all five races. The events get progressively longer (5K, 10K, 10-miler, half-marathon, 30K) and are used by many people as training runs building up to the Ogden Marathon in May. For me it's a great way to ramp up my running miles leading into the triathlon season and to practice pacing and racing tactics in a low-key setting. The best thing about it is that 3 of the races start at the Dee Events Center, a mere 10 minutes from our house! Gotta love that. Striders running store in Layton produces the event, and proceeds from the first three events this year are going towards helping the families of the Ogden police officers who were involved in the tragic shooting last month. If you live in the area and have not already registered, please consider signing up or otherwise contributing to help show support for our police department.

Striders does a great job putting these events on, keeping it simple yet professional. But be forewarned: if you're looking for a flat & fast 5K, 10K, or 10-miler, you're not going to get it at these races! They are the most hilly and challenging running race courses I have ever experienced. I would call them "strength" courses; pure foot speed is not necessarily going to help you here, you've got to be strong and know how to manage your energy. Previewing the course before race day is a good idea so that you know what to expect and can plan where to spend your energy. It also helps with winning the mental battle if you are familiar with the course. I usually catch myself singing "What Goes Up, Must Come Down" at some point during these races to help me tackle the hills.

Albert won the household bragging rights yesterday, nabbing 2nd place to my 3rd. I ended up in a tight race with two other ladies at the end, and we all ended up within one second of each other. Despite being on the "losing" end of a sprint finish, I was pleasantly surprised at how strong I felt throughout the run and how good I felt afterwards. I was able to make some moves on the uphills which is a good indication that the base strength I've been doing is on track. Afterwards Albert and I ran a preview of the 10K course which is coming up in two weeks. It'll be interesting to see how the running fitness progresses in that time.

Happy running!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Things I've Learned

I was outside running my "10 Mile Lollipop Loop" this morning, thinking about the upcoming season and reflecting on things that I've learned or that have been reinforced over the past 12 months. These are not necessarily original observations, but sometimes they don't mean much until you personally acknowledge them. I've decided to share a few of my thoughts here today:

~ Belief is a powerful tool...belief in your training, your ability, and your dreams can carry you a long way.
~ Recovery is an art.
~ The small stuff matters and can make a big difference.
~ Assume the best in people until they prove you wrong and even then, give them a second chance.
~ Consistency is key.
~ Distance and volume is all relative.
~ It's entirely possible to go to bed by 9pm every night. Just make it happen!
~ Foam rolling really works. The harder the roller the better.
~ A few pounds less on the body = a few minutes faster on the run.
~ Having your heart in the right place helps to keep your head in the right place.
~ Mental gray patches are temporary, and so is pain. But you know the saying...pride is forever!
~ Training is the bread and butter, racing is the icing on the cake.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and successful season!