2018 Race Recap #9: CMS 52-Week 5k

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I like small races because it allows me to say I had a “top 10 finish” despite being slow and paunchy.

As it happens this was also Week 9 of the 2018 52-Week race.  Over the last, we’ll say 30 hours, the weather has been a touch sketchy.  A Nor’easter blew through the area beginning yesterday, with threats of upward of 12″ of snow for Central Massachusetts. Winds whipped around all day yesterday, knocking out power lines, downing trees and on the coast high tides flooded significant swaths. For all the threatened fury, however, Central Massachusetts received some decent winds, but a mere dusting of snow.

By 8:00 AM, it was perhaps 37-38 degrees, a stiff breeze blowing on occasion, and cloudy as though more rain threatened.  Just the kind of day where I look around, look up, and wonder if I really want to run this race.  Chilly, but not cold. Gray,  but not dark.  About as middling as you can get.  Even as I showed up at Worcester State, I wasn’t sure if I was going to run or if I was just going to hang out and volunteer: after all, I do have a bit of a race coming up tomorrow and I’m not entire sure I’m ready for it.

As I walked in the room, the lone Central Mass Striders (CMS) volunteer greeted me, and wrote my name down. Whelp, I’m registered. I guess that means I’m racing today.  I was a little concerned because I woke up a little stiff this morning, so I went and did a warm up mile to shake out the cobwebs and that helped a lot. It was surprisingly fast; I thought I was moving far slower than I actually turned out to be moving, more stutter steps than outright strides, but it felt good.

Today’s race was Counter Clockwise, so that meant rather than finish at the Aristotle statue, we start there.  The first couple of miles felt pretty good. Not only was I moving at an historically fast pace for me, I maintained it pretty well through those first two miles.  Of course, “pretty well” is a relative expression – there’s an 8-second pace difference between the two miles, but for me to maintain that sub-8 minute pace for 2-miles it’s a personal victory.  Mile 3 is the one that ALWAYS gives me fits because it’s uphill and it was especially difficult today with the headwind blowing from the remnants of the storm. Again, I found myself traipsing up part of the hill because I’d burned so much fuel trying to maintain the pace on the first two miles. I’m going to have to get more mentally strong there because I know I missed a sub-24 minute race because of it…or at the very least gave up a shot at a personal record on that course because of it.

Overall, I finished with a 24:30 time – historically a great time for me so I can’t be too upset with myself, but I am upset in as much as I could’ve been faster and I hate that I settled for less.

Counter Clockwise (Last 5):

March 3: 24:30 40-ish degrees, cloudy
February 17: 24:22
October 21, 2017: 25:13
March 18, 2017: 24:42
February 11, 2017: 26:17

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2018 Race Recap #8: CMS 52-Week 5k

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Aristotle and me.  We’re tight.  My self timing skills were a tad off this week it seems: the official time was 24:16.

I tried something a little different for myself today. I have been doing some quick warm up jogs recently; before the last race I did a mile around the Worcester State campus. Today, I went out early and ran the entire 3.1-Mile course counterclockwise. I didn’t burn myself up doing it, but I did have a nice little 8:20 pace going which is actually faster than some of my race times so I wasn’t sure how I would perform today.

As it turns out, I gained 8 seconds on my previous personal best in this direction on this course – and 6 second on my previous best on this course in either direction. This one didn’t feel as fast as the previous two races, but it turns out I conserved a little more energy instead of blowing the doors off the first mile. I thought I just felt a little sluggish, but the second and third miles were faster.

Over the last few weeks, my resting heart rate has come down quite steadily as well; by mile 1 my heart rate had spiked far above what might be considered 100% at my age, but came down to a more manageable rate when I slowed down just a little bit. While I knew my conditioning was getting better and I knew it should play out in my race time, I didn’t know how it would play out.  I’m encouraged. Slower first mile made for a couple of faster miles thereafter.

I’m hoping to get a long training run in tomorrow, so no racing, but the weather may have something to say about that (in which case, it’ll be the treadmill). I’m scared and excited about the Stu’s 30k Race next weekend, which will be my longest street race ever.

Relive ‘CMS 52-Week 5k’

 

Clockwise (last 5):

February 24, 2018: 24:16. Mid-40’s,  clear
January 27, 201824:24. 34 degrees, sunny. Just beautiful.
January 13, 201825:14   53 degrees, cloudy, 22 mph wind, rainy
November 25, 2017: 24:55 Sunny and 28 degrees.
October 28, 2017: 24:53 Sunny and 56 degrees.

2018 Race Recap #7: Old Fashioned Ten Miler

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I’ve known this guy since 1984.  34 years. Hard to believe that there was a time that neither of us had gray hair.

February races in New England are always a crap shoot. Last night, there was a predicted 3-6″ of snowfall expected in Foxborough, Massachusetts but temperatures by race time were expected to be in the 40’s.  Crap shoot.

Come race time, it was as predicted.  Snowfall had been pretty on point, temps had been on point, and therefore the expected snow melt and patchy streets were pretty much on point.  To be perfectly honest, I was actually really impressed with the work the Foxborough Highway Department had clearly put in to street clearing.

The OFTM is but one race today. I wouldn’t call it a “running festival” (like anyone really likes running or considers it a festival), but it is a combination event: a 5k, a 10-miler and a combination event. So you have a choice between the “Flat 5k,” “The Old Fashioned Ten Miler,” or doing them both for a combination half marathon dubbed the “Badass Combo.”  I do wonder how the residents feel about having “Badass Combo” signs plastered about, but that’s not my circus (or festival as the case may be).

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It’s good to have friends .

I did the “Badass Combo” last year: Crushed the 5k for what was then a personal record, but bonked hard on the ten miler.  I hadn’t eaten properly so my nutrition was off, I was cramping up and it felt like I walked far more than I actually ran.  I don’t know if it was the 20-25 minutes or so between races or, more than likely, a combination of a bunch of deleterious circumstances. The end result was a 1:36:00 (or so) finish for the OFTM and just over 2:00:00 for the combo.  I was trying to decide what to do this year, but in the end decided that I wasn’t going to spend $40 on a 5k entry just to get a swanky medal, so I went strictly with the 10-Miler.

I ran at a pretty quick pace for the first 2 miles or so, settled into my pace for the next five miles or so, but at mile 8 I just hit a mental block and decided I had to walk for a bit.  No real explanation: I was running at about an 8:48 pace for the previous 2-miles, the first of which was generally flat, the second was a gain of all of 26′, mile 8 had a gain of 26′ as well, but I just couldn’t carry myself over that hump.  By mile 9 I had pulled myself together back to an 8:40 (downhill again!) and mile 10 was my fastest of the day at 8:05.  It was a struggle at the end though, because I knew I was burning fuel pretty good, but I really wanted to smash the finish.

There were a  few finish line shots I could have used here that were technically better pictures, but this one doesn’t show my pudgy belly quite as ostentatiously as the others. Also, it does a nice job of demonstrating I didn’t finish last.

At days end, it wound up being my third fastest 10-mile effort (according to Strava), so not a complete bomb. Not as fast as I had hoped to be, but even my half-assed effort at mile 8 didn’t keep me from hitting that.  I really needed to be at about 8:20 pace and that wasn’t happening today.  I feel good about it though, I haven’t been running nearly as many long runs as I know I should, so this was a personal victory. My muscles felt good, and I still had some juice after 9 miles to hit that 8:05 pace – no small victory for me.  In the greater scheme of things, I finished pretty much in the middle of the pack. I’ll take it.

 

Weather: Averaged about 40-degrees, clear, breezy, but sunny.  Some melting snow.

Place:  174 of 435 (39.7%)
Gun Time: 1:26:33.84
Chip Time: 1:26:17.85
Gender Place: 115
Age Grp: M 40-49  30 of 49

2018 Race Recap #6: CMS 52-Week 5k

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This is the first time this year I’ve raced the course counter-clockwise. I’m usually much faster going clockwise: the first mile or so is downhill, and then the elevation gain is slow and gradual. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s a relatively flat course anyway, but there is some elevation change.  Running clockwise gives me that pronounced elevation loss to get my pace up and just burn through the first half of it.  Running counter-clockwise has always posed me some issues.  It starts out pretty flat, the elevation loss is gradual (the reciprocal of the clockwise course, obvi) and then a half mile of the last .8 of the course it just up.  Again, not “UP”…but up.  Suffice to say, the better runners in the group seem to like the counter-clockwise better; the less well heeled runners, the clockwise direction. As you’ll see below, my track record going in this direction is spotty and erratic.  At least one of the times – February 11, 2017 – was affected by a snowpacked course: I wore obstacle course specific shoes to maintain some traction on the street, but even without that outlier my paces are uneven.

It was pretty chilly to start – about 28 degrees: when you’re standing around a sweatshirt leaves you still a little cold, but warm enough that choosing gear is a bit of a challenge. Should I take off the Under Armour? Will a cold weather shirt suffice?  Gloves? No gloves today, sweatshirt and cold weather shirt.  Athletic pants.  All of which seemed to be the right choice for me as I was neither overheated or cold.  One caveat: while running the Upton State Forest Half Marathon last year,  I wiped out and skinned my knee and (I think) broke my left pointer finger. It hasn’t felt right since, and it has been the first finger to get noticeably cold since.

On the “go” command, I was off at a decent clip.  I had my watch under my sleeve as I was using the sleeve to cover my hands in lieu of gloves so I really couldn’t see the pace or time. I was just running.  I kept up with the fast kids for a short moment, but they were gone pretty quickly.  At the first mile the watch vibrated, so I pulled up my sleeve to see and it was about a 7:20 pace.  That astonished me.  The second mile was about a 7:40 pace, quite astonishing to me.  Ah, but June Street.  That point when running clockwise is a nice shot down, is much less friendly to me when it’s a harrowing shot up.  I just couldn’t maintain my pace, and slowed way down.  I finished that mile with an 8:20 or so pace, so not horrible in terms of my usual pace, but certainly enough to kill my shot at a sub-24 minute race.

The upshot is that I ran a pretty strong race overall, faltered a bit toward the end, but still wound up with a personal record for the Counter-Clockwise direction and truly for the course in either direction overall.  It was a good race day.  Overall, I finished in the middle of the pack, 10th of about 21 or 22.  9th was within my grasp, but I was outflanked by a far better runner – finishing as close behind him is a personal victory to begin with,  never mind having had the chance to finish ahead of him.  So, I’ll add that to my awards case too.

Weather

28 Degrees and Clear.

Counter Clockwise Direction (Last 5):

February 17: 24:22
October 21, 2017: 25:13
March 18, 2017: 24:42
February 11, 2017: 26:17
January 28, 2017:  24:48

2018 Race Recap #4: CMS 52-Week 5k

cms_logo_smallToday stood for the proposition that sleep, good nutrition and perhaps a bit of rest during the week are helpful to running a race, but also that a healthy, positive internal dialog is probably THE most important aspect of good performance.  Hardly news, indeed, but sometimes reminders are helpful.

I got a really good night sleep after an emotionally draining day of work – such a good night that I woke up a little too late to work my planned run to Worcester State to volunteer for the weekly race, and run back. I took my time, ate breakfast, took the dogs out, and then headed over.  I even stopped at Starbucks on the way.

How come when I look in the mirror I don’t look this fat?

Since Clearwater last week, I hadn’t run at all, to my shame.  My plans have been to do 28-miles a week, and to this point I’d been either on point or close and had missed only two days of running this year.  I basically missed all this week and I was feeling guilty about it.  Arriving early today, I took the opportunity to do a quick warm up run of a mile or so and was surprised by the pace I clocked myself doing: a 7:49 pace.  Unusual in that I don’t usually push myself that hard warming up or really outside of a race – and oftentimes not even then.

Then there was the crowd today: a lot of fast looking people showed up.  It’s an informal gathering, so people show up on a whim, and the people who felt the whim today “LOOKED” like the kind of people who run fast.  I know, a total stereotype or so it would appear. More on that in a minute.

A few announcements and what seemed like a quick “GO” we were off.  I ran the first mile at a ridiculous pace – a personal best for a mile.  I knew I had gone off too fast, but I’m working on my internal dialog to keep myself on task, to keep my thoughts positive (“if we can keep this pace…”) instead of the negative (“You’re going to bonk out if you keep this up…”), so I kept reminding myself of the distance I’d come, and that a personal best awaits so just keep going.  I was feeling reasonably strong, but the second mile was considerably slower.  First Mile: 7:09. Second Mile: 7:57.

As soon as the second mile clicked off as completed on my Garmin, I had to slow down.  I was zapped.  Picked it back up and ran…and slowed to a walk again.  I did that a few times, but ultimately sucked it up.  I had lost focus on my inner dialog: it’s not that I was saying “I Can’t,” it’s that I wasn’t having one. As soon as I realized that absence, I was able to control my pace again. I picked up my pace and hit mile 3, finishing with a rather surprising 8:20 pace for the mile.  When I was running I was running strong.

I finished the course in 24:24 or a 7:49 overall pace.  The last 0.1 mile was 7:29 – I’m guessing the last 0.6 mile of the race was actually about that pace.  It was tough carrying my carcass over the line, but it felt good when I did.  My friend Mike had finished perhaps 90-seconds ahead of me and he was waiting at the finish to cheer me in…a fact to which I was apparently oblivious as I came across the line.  It was a bit of a struggle bus ride, but I finished with a personal best for the course and my second fastest 5k.

Now, not to take the shine off my pace today, there may have been something in the air; the top finisher came seconds away from a course record with a time just under 15-minutes, and second came in about 45-seconds later at 15:36.  Perhaps a good rest, decent nutrition and positive internal talk all influence race performance, but sometimes the day just carries itself.

Clockwise (last 5):

January 27, 2018: 24:24. 34 degrees, sunny. Just beautiful.
January 13, 2018: 25:14   53 degrees, cloudy, 22 mph wind, rainy
November 25, 2017: 24:55 Sunny and 28 degrees.
October 28, 2017: 24:53 Sunny and 56 degrees.
September 16, 2017: 25:56  Cloudy, humid, 60’s.

 

2018 Race Recap #3: Clearwater Half

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoorI wasn’t sure how well this race was going to go. I hadn’t run more than 7 miles at one time since December 7 and the last time I ran longer than 10 miles was the Cambridge Half Marathon in November.  Being laid up in an immobilization boot for the better part of December, I went from December 7 to December 31 without running.

Since then, I’ve run every day in 2018 except two – January 4, the day of a blizzard that shut down just about everything, including the gym, and yesterday when I just couldn’t get my stuff together to run the weekly 5k before I headed to the airport.

So, it’s race day.  The thing that saved the day from ignominy is the fact that Florida is as flat as a pancake.  The only elevation gain was from the two bridges and the out and back course.  344′ of gain.  It saved the day, and cursed the day, but more on that later. The race started at 7:05 and about 58-degrees.

I wasn’t sure what to make of the race. My night sleep was sketchy, but my nutrition was on point.  Up and out to packet pick up by 5:30 AM, with a cup of coffee and an ill fated trip to the porta potty set the stage.

About 0.5 mile into the race was the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge.  I wasn’t sure I was going to accomplish this in the time I wanted, yet the next song to come up on my playlist was “Barometer Soup” by Jimmy Buffett.  Feeling the Margaritaville vibe with the view of Clearwater was magnificent.

I wasn’t sure what the race held, but I was happy I was there.

The coffee helped get my metabolism going, but unfortunately caused some other issues for me, which wasn’t immediately a problem but about 4 miles in they began.

Just before the second bridge, there was a breakfast place that had obviously just fired up their offerings with the net result was all I could smell was bacon…for like a mile. THAT would’ve been AWESOME if I weren’t battling the GI ninja.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sunglasses and textIts also the day of the AFC Championship Game – Patriots vs. Jaguars.  So, ever the master of race couture, I wore a TB12 jersey…the whole race. Not one hater on the course, some fist bumps, high fives, hoots.  It was fun and served the purpose I set out to achieve wearing it.

I was fully on pace for a personal record right up to Mile 12, right where the last bridge started inclining and I just couldn’t push any further.  For that half mile, I pretty much walk-ran the bridge.  The second half was down hill, including a ramp down into the park.  I’m pretty sure that mile split was 13:00 m/m for the first half, and 7:00 for the second.

Ultimately, I finished with a 1:56:32 time.  Not my worst by a long shot, and about 3.5 minutes shy of my best.  Much like Cambridge was in November, this was an opportunity to PR – an opportunity lost.  BUT, it was a personal victory; I’d not had a long run in months, I haven’t been running well at all.

A sub-2 hour half marathon is, in my book, a good race.  It didn’t feel like a good ending, but over all it felt like a good race.  I wound up with an 8:56 pace, with the last three miles taking their toll on my pace.  Lessons to build on.

Addendum:

I was disappointed and not a little salty that the Half Marathon finisher medals weren’t available at the finish line, but the communication around that really was top notch.  It was a regrettable situation, and the RD clearly regretted it.  We got a note at the finish, an email to follow up and I received this by week’s end.

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It’s a really slick medal, and truly the reason it wasn’t available (beyond the shipping issues) was that they had a custom medal for each distance; whatever happened behind the scenes, the public face of it was handled well and appreciated.  Not every race does that (I have two “Half Marathon-5k” medals and one “Marathon & Half Marathon”)   So while it was a drag at the time, it’s pretty sweet swag overall.

Results

Clearwater Half Marathon: 1:56:32
Cambridge Half Marathon: 1:57:38
Upton State Forest Half Marathon (Trail): 2:18:01.9
Worcester Half Marathon: 1:51:56
Black Goose Half Marathon: 2:00:48

 

2018 Race Recap: #2 CMS 52-Week 5k

cms_logo_smallWhat a weird day.  I woke up to 59-degree weather, perhaps a touch overcast, but otherwise a very pleasant January morning.  Now, it was widely reported that today was going to be strange, going from a high of about 59 to a low of 7 – or there about – so I was paying attention to the weather forecast, but my iPhone was telling me it was going to be about 57 and overcast through about 11 AM or so, so I figured I was good to go.  Put on a short sleeve shirt, a pair of shorts and a light fleece.  ‘Ret to go.

At about 8:20, it was still about 58-59 and overcast, to script, when I went into the Worcester State University building to register.  I came out to a noticeably colder day – I’m guessing it must’ve lost 4 degrees in the time I was inside.

I went for a quick warmup run, during which it started to rain on me.  Back at the University building, I took off the fleece after deciding to run in shirt sleeves – after all it was still very much in the mid-50’s.

At about 8:50 we headed out to the starting line, and I quickly decided shirt sleeves was not going to be my thing today – according to Apple, it was now about 47-degrees and it was pouring.  Back on went the fleece, as I regretted having registered for this.

Here’s the start. Note here, I’m comfortably ahead of the pack – this doesn’t stand very long because I’m a terrible runner who knows nothing of pacing.

Running the course clockwise today probably helped as it’s mostly downhill, but there was a strong headwind during mile 2 – there were times I find myself unable to breath the wind was coming in so hard and fast at me, but by mile 3 the sun was out again  and it was probably in the low 40’s.  Just flat out crazy weather.  I’m sure my perception of the temps is off, but the story does play itself out in my splits with mile 2 being the slowest of the 3.

Note the lack of anyone near me at the finish (there’s a 0.1 mile overlap on the course to complete the 5k, which explains the Similar angle). Not really hard to tell the start of race pic from the race finish pic is it?

Official time: 25:14, not my best, not my worst.  It’s another minor victory for being the fastest 3-miles I’ve put down this year after having been laid up in December. I figured I’d  be chasing 26-minutes today, so I felt good that I didn’t.

Clockwise (last 5):

January 13, 2018: 25:14   53 degrees, cloudy, 22 mph wind, rainy
November 25, 2017: 24:55 Sunny and 28 degrees.
October 28, 2017: 24:53 Sunny and 56 degrees.
September 16, 2017: 25:56  Cloudy, humid, 60’s.
February 25, 2017:  24:36 cloudy, warm and 52 degrees.