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Friday, March 22, 2013

Boston Marathon Taper time!

Well, the last 20 miler is officially in the books and it's time to kick back, relax, and TAPER! Ah...if it were that easy. Unfortunately, I have BIG goals for Ironman 70.3 Raleigh so I have a feeling the bike and swim volume will be increasing. Not necessarily a bad thing. I feel like my biking has been going pretty well, although swimming is another story. That said, it won't take me too long to get into decent swim shape and a few key workouts and I'll be good to go (hopefully).

Raleigh appears to be a bit hilly so it's going to be a whole new ball game compared to Eagleman where it's as flat as a pancake. Literally ZERO hills. Even the bridges are completely flat. From my Garmin data from last year, over 56 miles I gained 223 feet and lost 210 feet. So yeah, FLAT. When the weather warms up, I'll be a fixture over on the Columbia Triathlon course working the hills there. That should be good prep work as it appears to be hillier than Raleigh will be.

So the last long run is out of the way and not a moment too soon. I'm still dealing with the damn achilles issue and I probably pushed through too much pain today, but I HAD to get that 20 in if for nothing else, than just mental prep. I'm icing/heating/stretching/rolling every chance I get and hopefully it survives Boston and then final 70.3 prep!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rock n Roll USA Half Marathon Race Report!

Originally we were scheduled to head down to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock Half Marathon, but due to a stress fracture Chrissy has been dealing with, we deferred until next year and I signed up for the hometown Rock n Roll USA Half Marathon. Much closer and free accomadations, not to mention my own bed to sleep in. Packet pickup was easy as well with my next door neighbor doing the leg work for me. All I had to do was wake up, get downtown, and run.

I slept pretty well Friday night and woke up 10 minutes before my alarm was to go off (4:50). I had a bagel with Trader Joe's Natural PB and some coffee. As usual, things just do not go down well for me on race morning. I really struggled to eat it and didn't even finish the whole thing. I met my friend Dan at his house. We drove over to the Rockville Metro, I left my car there, and drove down to the race site. Another great decision. We parked about a block from the start...just before a cop blocked off the road. We couldn't have had better timing. We sat around stretching for a minute and then headed over towards the race. Luckily for us, some porta-johns had been setup for the next day's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Unfortunately, they were locked with pad locks! Fortunately, the next set over had one without a lock. SCORE! Another great decision as not even a block further down, the line was easily 20 deep (only to get worse as we got near closer bathrooms). We decided to head to gear check (we had about 45 minutes til the start) and that was another block or so past the start line. We took care of that (it took longer than I expected), I downed a Clif Shot, and I was soon heading towards the start with another friend I ran into.

Before we knew it, it was go time. No sooner had we made it into Corral 1 that they started playing the Star Spangled Banner. And then we were off. To back track a bit, I've been dealing with an achilles issue (most likely tendonitis), but it is slowly feeling better. By race morning it was feeling good and I taped up with KT Tape for some extra assurance. I was gunning for a PR and more specifically, sub 1:29. I figured I would go out at my goal pace (after a slower first mile or two) and figure out if I could go for it, or if I should back off and take the more conservative route and run my Boston Marathon goal pace. Soon enough as I fell into my groove, I was feeling pretty good and decided to go for it.

For such a big marathon (specifically the Rock n Roll series), this was a clusterf*4#. Water stop 1 had water...but NO ONE PASSING OUT THE WATER! Luckily we were in the front of the pack so to speak, but I can't imagine what the corrals in the middle and back had to deal with. This only pales in comparison to the issues with picking up your gear bag post race (thankfully it only took about 5 minutes to get mine where other's I heard took over an hour and a half). I grabbed a cup off the table and continued on with only a slight slow down. That was really the only "issue" I encountered in the race. I hit the 5k mark in 21:28 (13 seconds slower than goal pace, but I felt ok about this) and feeling pretty good. By mile six, I had caught up to another friend of ours and ran with him for a couple minutes. Just past the mile 6 marker came a BIG surprise. The course this year was slightly different than last year and given the elevation maps I didn't expect anything out of the ordinary other than uphill from about mile 5 through 7. Unfortunately, it didn't really show the true grade/elevation gain just after mile 6. It was probably about a quarter mile long and the hill was pretty damn steep. I looked at my garmin and it was quickly slowing the lap pace from high 6's to 8's. Not what I wanted to see! I made it to the top of the hill and soon hit the 10k mark in 42:49. Now :39 seconds behind schedule and out of breath with heart racing. Not what I was hoping for. At this point I figured I'd still shoot for sub 1:30, but it didn't look good. I used the next downhill stretch to work on getting my pace back down and my breathing and heart rate in check. Soon enough I was feeling much better and back in my groove. By the time I hit mile 11, my achilles had started tightening up. That said, I don't believe it was limiting my race. Just something I may need to deal with post race. I passed up the gel at mile 9ish as I was feeling fairly bloated throughout the race for whatever reason (drinking too much liquid pre-race???). I hit 10 miles in 1:08:39 and was in the final 5k. I knew by the final turn it was mostly a long downhill stretch and I could make up some time. I took advantage of it and soon had RFK in site. The only problem is that final turn UP the hill to the finish. As I approached the last turn and climb I could feel myself about to lose my lunch. This is pretty typical for me so I just fought through it, made the final climb and hit the finish and my watch read 1:29:23 (official time was 1:29:20 - always be quick on the start of the watch and slow on the finish!) so while not my big goal, still a PR and gave me some much needed confidence as Boston approaches. I grabbed some chocolate milk and a smoothie, hit the gear buses, got dressed to warm up, got my free beer, and then headed to the DC Armory Metro solo. As I look back at the race, I'm pretty pleased with it all around. I could probably have found those 21 seconds somewhere along the course, but towards the end with a PR in sight and a tight achilles, I wouldn't change anything. Nutrition wise, I'm not sure. I normally have a gel mid-way or so through a half, but I didn't feel it. I didn't drink much Gatorade either. Maybe twice? I can't even remember. I fell like I'm in a good position for Boston if I can keep my achilles in check and get it close to 100% by April 15! For now, another half marathon and PR in the books. I'll take it!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Am I working hard enough???

Time will tell, but a big test is coming up. I'm still dealing with some achilles tendonitis (self diagnosed) so that's sucked, but I don't think it has limited me too bad when it comes to actual training. I have taken some days off here and there as a result though, but when I'm actual running or on the bike, I don't think it has hampered me too badly. That said, next Saturday is the Rock 'n' Roll USA Half (and full) Marathon. I'm running the half and I'm planning on shooting for a PR. I'm not sure if I'm there or not, but I'm going to go for it and I'll assess myself about a quarter of the way in to see if I can get there. If the achilles feels like an issue, I'll drop down to marathon pace and just make sure I'm feeling good there so hopefully I can get in a good mindset as the Boston Marathon approaches. A 20 miler is in the works for this weekend so a big week of training a week out from a race will make it tough, but I'm going for it. We shall see... I just really hope my "injury" isn't an issue. Only 6 weeks til Boston. Crazy!