Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A cherry on top: my Philly RR

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I had a couple of rough spots this summer. For a while, I was not even sure I would be able to run Philly at all, let alone re-BQ or PR.

From the last week of May to the first week of August--11 weeks--I averaged just over 21 mpw. Just couldn't get out there. I didn't force it...just read a lot of books and waited for the motivation to return. It did and I started building back up in mid-August. I followed a 12-week Pfitz plan for Philly and averaged ~63. Training was a bit more sporadic than it was in the spring--I got sick for several days and this factor and that disrupted my running. I missed some key workouts and but felt pretty good about the cycle overall. I ran a tune-up half in October in 1:37. I figured this would make a 3:33-3:35 doable for me, with a good chance at something closer to 3:30. I figured I would shoot for 8-8:10s in the race and just see what happened. The pressure was off since I didn't have any real need for any certain time.

I did exactly one MP run in early September (8 miles), at about 8-minute pace. At the time, it felt too fast for MP. I dithered so much about what pace to shoot for that I just didn't do any more pace work.

DH and I flew into Philly on Friday and met our friend who we stayed with. She ran the full also. She made us a ton of awesome sweet potato falafel. Then we polished off an entire box of cereal. Got up and got in a short run, then headed to the brunch FE with the BQ ladies from the RWOL forums. Expo after that, where my friend and I bought each other early Christmas presents. Headed home--she went to run a couple more errands and I got dinner started (Tofu-sundried tomato-artichoke concoction with rice--she's made it for us before so I knew it would be okay for pre-race. And it's AWESOME.) Watched some TV and went to bed around 9. Didn't sleep well thanks to the guys who stood below her window screaming all night. Literally.

Up at 4, and had some chocolate soymilk, two bananas, a mini bagel with almond butter, and half a bottle of Gatorade along with water. A major race morning eating PR for me. We walked to the start, got gear check and bathrooms taken care of, gave cell phones to Mark, and then hugged each other good luck and split off for our respective corrals (my friend started in purple and ran 4:13, a 7-minute PR). I found my way to green, then found that there was no barrier and it wasn't terribly crowded, so I moved on up to get the 3:30 pace group within sight. I wanted to start near them and then let them get a little ways ahead so I would know I wasn't starting out too fast. This worked well...I just ran with the people around me, so no weaving or dodging, and my first mile was right where I wanted it.

Splits from my wristwatch, using the course's mile markers:

1--8:15--Getting started, feeling good, just concentrating on running with the people around me (since I started near the 3:30 pace group). The pace group got ahead and I let them go, not wanting to push it so early.
2--7:48--Slow down, stupid!
3--7:54--A little better but come on, you still have 23 miles to go!
4/5--16:20--Heeere we go. Starting to settle into a groove and feeling very comfortable. Had my "morning coffee" (Expresso Love GU).
6--8:03
7--7:49
8--8:08--Somewhere in here my right hip started bothering me. I don't think it was a true factor, but it was just bothersome. This lasted the rest of the race, but didn't get much worse.
9--7:53
10--8:04--I think there was a hill in here somewhere. Another GU at the top of the hill.
11--8:04
12--7:56--I wish I had sunglasses.
13/14--16:19--Crossed the half in 1:45:17 on my watch. I was feeling comfortable and not breathing hard, but something told me that I had used up too much to maintain this pace for the second half.
15--7:58--One more mile at pace, but I was having to work a little too hard. Legs, especially quads, really starting to feel it, already. GU #3.
16--8:23--Oh crap, really? I was disappointed to see this split, which was the result of even effort.
17--8:16--Mir's stomach: I hate you. I quit.
18--8:16
19--8:20--Some dude making the most horrendous puking noises on the side. Stomach seriously NOT happy now. More GU out of the question.
20--8:20--Maintaining a pace about 10-20 seconds off original pace. Miles 15-17 are a little to early to start really pushing, so I just went with it. By now though I could hear myself breathing and knew I was in a for a long last 10K. My stomach was in knots and just the thought of taking another GU made me seriously consider stopping to vomit. I took Gatorade from then on in and hoped I wouldn't throw up.
21--8:11--Well, that wasn't so bad.
22--8:34--Death knell. Ouch. Mir's legs: We hate you too. We quit. I think it was in here somewhere that my friend went by on her way out and shouted at me. I turned around just in time to see her but didn't have a chance to return the favor.
23--8:41--I had the legs = bloody stumps of raw meat feeling and oh how I wanted to walk. I realized that if I could just run 10-minute miles, I could still sneak under 3:40, and secure my BQ for 2011 and a small PR. The temptation to walk was alluring, but I knew walking would mean no BQ.
24--9:07--Okay, that's one. Maybe 3:38:xx? Must not walk. Must not walk.
25--9:12--The only thing that kept me from walking this mile was the thought of seeing Mark at mile 25. Maybe I can pull off a 3:37:xx?
26--8:38--Got a boost from seeing Mark and hearing the BQ ladies cheering! Under 3:37?
26.2--1:30--Great crowds in the last quarter mile carried me home.

Finish time: 3:36:11

I am really happy with this race. I'm not sure what went wrong, but I'm chalking it up to an off day. Especially after the summer I had, I'm THRILLED with a PR. I'm especially proud of hanging on in those last miles. It's awesome to be able to say I didn't have a good day, but still come away with a handy improvement. I'm totally okay with improving a few minutes at a time...that just means more celebration.

Sometime soon I will analyze and plan my schedule for Boston training. But for now I think I will just give thanks (oh how much there is to be grateful for), and savor the clear horizon.
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