Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Training through the holidays

After CIM, I wasn't sure if I still wanted to run the Houston Marathon or not.  I have already paid to register, but there's not much point in running a marathon if I'm not motivated to do it.  After a few weeks of post-CIM recovery, I decided that my weakness at CIM was insufficient training for the hills (and not excessively aggressive pacing, which may or may not be true), since my slow-down was associated with my glutes giving out.  I then decided that, assuming I can ramp my training back up effectively, that I still have a chance to PR at Houston.  So I'm running Houston. 

I eased back into my training plan on the third week after CIM, but missed the tempo workout, then went home to see the family for Christmas (and also missed the tempo workout that week).  I ran my long run (intended to be 20 miles) a day after playing two hours of basketball with my family and a group of guys with whom my dad typically plays.  The long run ended up being 18 miles of hilly misery.  My feet had been aching immediately after the basketball game, and they were pretty painful throughout my long run.  In addition to being painful, the run was ridiculously slow (but I didn't worry about it too much, since I didn't have a target pace).  Not a confidence builder.  I then had 3 full days of inactivity associated with Christmas and traveling, and then jumped on my bike yesterday at lunch.  For some reason, I was really weak on the bike, and my heart rate vs. power output was way higher than for the same ride last week.  I was pretty frustrated.  I went out and ate a heavy lunch of mexican food, then went back to work.  After work, I went to run my track workout, and found that I had no motivation to run.  I went out on the track and ran my 1 mile warmup.  Then I decided I was done for the day- my lunch was not sitting well, and I felt very unmotivated and slow.  On my way off the track, I decided that it was silly and a waste of time for me to bail on the workout, and turned around and set off on my first set.  About 100m into the set, I decided that, indeed, I would bail.  And I did.  I'm not sure if I did the right thing or not, but I do know that letting myself bail is a very slippery slope.  Discipline is key to success.

Today it is rainy and nasty outside, and I still have a track workout that needs running.  Here's hoping I'm man enough to show up.

Monday, December 6, 2010

California International Marathon

We arrived in Sacramento Friday evening for the Sunday race. A and I met my sister and some friends from Houston at the airport, then crammed into a tiny rental car and headed for our hotels. We dined well on Italian food and went to bed.

Throughout the night we were entertained by the drunkards next door, and were relieved to find in the morning that they would be checking out. We got up, had breakfast, and headed enthusiastically to the expo. There's nothing quite like a race expo, packed with vendors selling running/tri paraphernalia, and with other athletes. It's guaranteed to get you excited for the race!

After the expo, we walked over to Old Sacramento and had lunch overlooking the river. We wandered through the shops, then headed back to the hotel to watch the VT game. At halftime we walked to a nearby brewery, where we ate and watched the end of the VT game. Then we went back to the hotel and got our stuff together for the race.
Race Day: we got up at 4am, grabbed some breakfast downstairs (I had oatmeal), and went to meet the buses departing for Folsom at 5am (the CIM is a point-to-point from Folsom to the Capitol in Sacramento). The day was much warmer than we'd expected (uh-oh), with temps starting in the low 50's (instead of high 30's, as predicted). I spent the 45 minute bus ride with my head on the back of the seat in front of me (just like in school!). We arrived in Folsom, took advantage of the longest line of porta-potties I've ever seen (the race organization was flawless), and lined up for the start. I lined up next to the 3:10 pace group, and planned to run 7:06 pace for as long as I could, with the goal of finishing below 3:10.
I may have gone out a little fast (I was still with the 3:00 pace group after a mile), but I felt pretty good, and resolved to just take what the course gave me. The course was way hillier than I had expected, and judging the pace was very difficult when always running uphill or downhill. I finished the first 6 miles at just over 7:00 pace, and finished the Half at 7:06 pace (a 1/2 Marathon PR... Uh-oh!). So I went out a little fast, and I slowed down a good bit between miles 10 and 13. After the halfway point, I started having issues with my left glute/IT/piriformis (not sure exactly what it is, but it's been bothering me on both sides on and off for the last six weeks (although it's been improving of late). Anyway, the one on the left stopped working, and where I had been effortlessly holding 7:00 pace early on, I was now struggling to keep it under 7:40. I had a surge of energy and another fast mile at mile 19, and then the wheels were completely off, and I was running over 8:00. The day had warmed up considerably, and the sun was out for most of my race, which certainly didn't help (at mile 3, a spectator yelled:"the sun is coming out for you guys!", and I thought: "not for me!!").
I ran the last few miles pushing as hard as I could (but not getting much speed for the effort). Nonetheless, I was passing people by the scores. As I rounded the last corner and the finish line came into view, the guy I was passing decided he didn't want to be passed, and we both accelerated into a wild sprint to the finish (just how I like it!. I'm pretty sure I won by a nose, but will have to await the finish photo to be sure. I finished in 3:13, nit good enough for a PR.

After the finish, I hobbled around cheering for the finishing runners until the rest of my crew trickled in. No one was happy with their race (it's hard to be happy after a marathon), but post-race Mexican food lifted our spirits!