Normally I post a race report after every race I run, but in the early part of 2011 I fell off the wagon so to speak. Not with my running; that proceeded as always, but rather my reporting here. I could make lots of excuses but what would be the point? Instead I’ll just quickly bring everyone up to date.
Basically I’ve cut back on overall racing this season. After running the New York City Marathon last fall, I needed to dial back the intensity a little bit and focus on rebuilding my fitness. So the early months of 2011 saw a lot of base-building mileage and almost no speedwork. I still raced, but only about once per month, nowhere near my normal competitive volume. In March I finally started adding some speed to my training, but largely have kept to the lighter racing schedule. That may change as spring turns to summer, but I’m not sure of that yet; time will tell.
In any case, here’s the wrap-up of my in-progress spring season (I still have one more big race to go).
1/15: JFK 20k, Washington DC. This was one chilly day, about 30 degrees at the start. That may have kept a few people home and in bed but after doing nothing but easy runs I was eager to get a gauge on my fitness as I began to ramp up training. I had no particular expectations but ran quite well on the day anyway, going 1:25:45 for the distance and getting a new PR in the process. Thanks to the somewhat smaller than normal turnout, I also notched my highest finish at this event, coming in 6th overall and first in my age group. All in all a nice start to the season.
2/27: RRCA Club Challenge 10 Miler, Columbia MD. Throughout February I really ramped up the distance and added in some tempo training but the lack of trackwork was something I knew would handicap me in this highly competitive race. Not surprisingly I was a little flat this day. On a course where I had once set a PR of 66:42 (since broken), I only managed a 68:46. As with the previous month’s race I looked at it, however as an opportunity to assess what I now needed to do. The target races in April in May still loomed and those were the true objectives.
3/6: Burke Lake 12k, Fairfax Station VA. This was never a target race, more of just a hard workout on one of my favorite trails. I had modest expectations, not only because I had run the 10-miler in Columbia just a week prior but also because the weather that morning was awful. The temperatures weren’t bad for this time of year – mid-to-high 40s – but it was raining steadily, sometimes quite heavily. The skies calmed a little bit while I warmed up, only to really open up just as we lined up at the start. But off we went, slogging through deep puddle after deep puddle. It was actually kind of fun, even if the finish time was nothing special at 50:58. And the finish was good for 8th overall.
4/3: Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, Washington DC. Finally one of my target races arrived. I trained very well in March and felt ready to rock in this race. Unfortunately, I was undone by a logistical nightmare of a journey to the race. The Metro train from Vienna to the Smithsonian station took what seemed like forever and I arrived at the Washington Monument grounds with barely enough time to strip off my outer gear and get into a corral. The corral I had been assigned near the front had already left and I was now near the back. Throughout the race I weaved my way through slower traffic, probably passing a couple thousand runners, but never really settling into a consistent pace. It all made for a very frustrating day as I ran a 68:50 and was barely even tired after the race. Frankly the highlight of the day had nothing to do with my own performance but rather that of my wife, who completed her first ever 10-miler. After my finish I jogged back out to the 9-mile mark and waited for her; we ran most of the final mile together with me pulling off the course just before she headed to the finish.
4/23: Race to Stop the Silence 8k, Washington DC. This was another non-target race, one that I jumped into with fairly short notice. I did so mainly to get a tune-up for my race the following weekend, the Broad Street Run. This was a downtown affair that had a course that was flat but loaded with turnarounds, 7 in all. It was also another rainy day. I didn’t expect a PR and didn’t get one, but got a solid 32:39 result out of the day.
5/1: Broad Street Run, Philadelphia, PA. Finally the race I’d been really pointing to arrived. I had long wanted to run Broad Street but with Boston on my race calendar in previous years, I never felt I’d be sufficiently recovered in time to enter Broad Street. I had heard of Broad Street’s fast “net downhill” course and envisioned a big result in the form of a smashing new 10-mile PR. Throughout April I had sharpened my pacing and I had a good taper week leading up to race day. But sometimes even the best-laid plans can be undone and that’s what happened on Sunday morning. This time the culprit was intestinal issues that had me making numerous visits to the bathroom in the early morning. When I finally toed the line I felt dehydrated and warmer than I should have felt. On top of that the corral was extremely crowded and when we got off the line the start was slow. I only managed a 7:20 first mile, then was able to pick it up a bit, but the events of earlier in the morning limited my ability to really get after it. By Mile 6 I was starting to slip again and I fought hard to beat back a crash. I continued to struggle and very nearly slipped back over the 7-minute mile barrier in Mile 8 at 6:59. But in the final 2 I put it all back together and finished strongly, going 6:33 in my final mile. I came across in 67:32, which was 1:04 off the PR I was initially so sure I would destroy this day, but given what I had dealt with, I was pleased with the performance.
As mentioned earlier, my spring season continues. The official capper of it will be on June 5, when I run the North Face Endurance Challenge‘s half marathon trail race. To be honest I’m not really sure what to expect of this one. I certainly have no illusions of threatening my road half marathon PR. In fact I think if I break 2 hours that will be quite an accomplishment. That said I will do my best to be prepared to run well. I’ll be increasing my emphasis on trail runs, but will keep up the track work and fartlek runs. I’ll also probably knock down some long bike rides on my cross-training days. Ironically my other cross-training activity, soccer, will probably also be a help for this race because of its emphasis on quick turns and varying speeds. I’ve only done one truly “hard” trail race, so this will be something of a learning experience. But if it goes well, I wouldn’t mind adding the occasional trail race to my repertoire.
After I finish my post Broad Street recovery week, let the training begin!