Green Bay Half

This article was originally posted by Charlene at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

To say the very least this was a stressful week.

Warning This race report contains a lot of grammar mistakes but i am tired and am poorly educated.

Sunday Night- Little ones came down with horrible cold

Monday Morning- Husband cut of part of finger at work….in Missouri

Monday Afternoon- Took daughter to ortho for possible Stress Fracture- got the yellow light for her to continue track

Tuesday very early a.m.- Husband returned from Missouri and discovery that maimed finger makes husband very crabby

Tuesday morning- Off to the ortho with Husband- No surgery required

Tuesday Afternoon- A stop at husband’s place of work where they frown on Workman’s comp and fingers maimed by saws

Later Tuesday afternoon- Relief that Daughter’s metatarsal survived Conference meet. Hopefully only 3 more to make it through

Wednesday- Crabby Husband, progressively sicker son, and a tight calf that threatens half marathon on Sunday

Thursday- Crabby Husband, sick son with a fever, and tight calf that takes 2 miles of "running" before stride is normal. All need TLC

Friday- Crabby Husband, sick son with a fever, and tight calf that only takes one mile of slow running to function correctly. All need TLC.

Saturday- Off to Green Bay, 11th Wedding Anniversary. Calf is good to go. Children still sick and husband is still crabby but all seem to be tolerating Water Park well.

* Husband is a very good guy and I do not mean to pick on him. A maimed finger makes anyone crabby. He was great this weekend to put up with my half marathon.

As for the race. This training cycle has been okay. I was able to add speed work in for the first time since I had PF two years ago. I admit my MLRs were lacking due to the cold wet spring. Long runs were all successful and I did not have a single one that I wanted to hitchhike home from. I did a consistent weekly tempo run but found week to week that their range of pace was much larger than normal. I somewhat suspect that the tight calf that I did not notice til this week may have been impacting this. I tend not to notice knots and tight muscles til they make something else hurt or it is totally undeniable that it is affecting my gait. I think I averaged around 55 miles a week since the 1st of the year. I did a 19:06 5k a few weeks ago that was almost a solo effort on crumbly streets that rivaled those of Columbus. But I just did not feel that magic that one feels when they are ready to throw down a really great race. This worried me but I felt really confident that I was going to finally break 1:30 for the half. Achieving this milestone has been really hard for me as I am not very good at races this long. I am very consistent though with my last 4 being either 1:30 or 1:31. But I have not been able to improve even though I train much better now than 4 half marathons ago.

This morning when I headed out to walk to Lambeau Field it was already warm out even though I was just dressed in a sports bra and shorts. I was expecting to be a little bit cold since it was just a little past 6 in the morning. I jogged to the Stadium and immediately found almost everyone I knew from this area that was running the half or the full. This is no small feat with a crowd of 8000 but this always seems to happen.

I settle into the preferred start corral next to my friend Rick who was signed up for the full We planned to run together as he was going to attempt a sub 3 just a month after Boston. The race started and we settled into a 6:51 pace for the first 6 miles. It was confusing though as the mile markers were really far off from our watches. We were not sure what was off but I think after talking to others after the race that both were. And then the 5 mile mat was short of five miles by at least a tenth of a mile or more. That is why online my average pace for the first 5 is 6:44. My real aprox pace of 6:51 felt really easy and we hooked up with another guy attempting sub 3 and we passed a ton of people. It felt powerful to pass as a group of 3. It was sunny and quite warm. The first 5 had a fair amount of shade though. After six though we all drifted apart. I took a gel about then and it did not go down that great and I fell a bit behind and my pace settle into the high 6:50s. Rick took off ahead and the other guy fell far behind me.

These miles were sunny with a headwind that did offer some relief and gentle inclines and declines that I was feeling a bit more than I should of. As I got to nine miles I passed my first walker. I have never passed someone walking in a half before. Once I got to ten miles I knew that I had no chance of breaking 1:30 and my pace suffered with this knowledge and I slowed to a range of 7:06 to 7:08 for the remaining miles. It was nice though to not have any miles slower than 7:08. I still passed more people than who passed me. I was surprised at the number of walkers the last two miles. Going through the stadium was a bit of a distraction though. This is the second time I have done a lap through a stadium to then finish outside and each time I think it has negatively affected my race as it seems to be just an obstacle that distracts me from focusing on closing to the finish. Any lap right before a finish line is a tease for me.

I finished in 1:31:27. Rick was waiting for me as he decided that he did not want to try to complete the full. I think lots of people decided that. I ended up 3rd in my age group, 18th woman overall, and 88th out of around 5500 half marathon runners. We found my family and then went for a post race massage. I felt a tad bit sick and my brain was not working right so we went back to the hotel where I changed and ate a few slices of pizza.

We then returned so I could cheer in my friends in the full. I watched the full about a mile and a half from finish. I started watching about 3:20 into the race and there was plenty of suffering to behold. I would say that almost half of the runners were walking at this point. Many people looked like they wanted to cry. It was not as hot as last year but it was warm and humid for a mass of runners that trained in 30s all spring. My friend Heather was walking when I saw her and I jumped in with flip flops and a diet coke in hand and ran with her to the finish. This actually felt really really good on my calves. Running through Lambeau Field the second time was a lot more fun and Heather finished right around 4:08.

We then went to wait for everyone else back at the point I found Heather and two friends were passing by right then. One was crying and Heather’s husband ran with her to the stadium. The next two came by an hour later and I cheered for them and then hurried back to the stadium as we had to get home as husband still had to drive to Missouri tonight. I did stop and snag my Age Group medal and it was gigantic. Each child now had a medal and all was good in their world. They really enjoyed Lambeau Field.

What I take away from this is that I have failed to improve at this distance for a long time now. It sucks to never improve even though I know I am fitter, have more endurance, and have came a long way since a few years ago. I have no races to prove any of that though. I think a lot of my problem is that I have a short attention span and lose focus easily. Or maybe I just focus better when I am alone. Other things I do wrong are not mixing up things enough in training and just the fact that I just may not be as suited for longer distances as much as I am for 5k. I think I will put off my next half marathon and just focus on short stuff for awhile and hopefully bust through a few old PRs this summer and fall. I always seem to do best when I race into shape and it makes me mentally much together.

Race report: Run the Bay 5K

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

The story of this race actually starts 8 days pre-race. On the Friday of the week before the race, I hit the training wall a little earlier and harder than intended. As a result, I started my cutback/taper week 3 days earlier than planned and cut back more than originally planned. I also put plans to run the race on hold. I’d only run the race if I felt like I was recovering well enough to race well and to do so without compromising my next phase of training.

Fortunately, after 3 very easy days of training, I came back fairly well on Monday and Tuesday. A workout Tuesday left me a little more drained than it should have but I hit good splits on the workout and a few more very easy days left me ready to race…or so I hoped. So off to the races I go. I made a few comments to people about seeing what my cranky legs would allow me to do, which is really how I felt. My legs were being cranky for a little over a week. Would they treat me well or make me regret the decision to race?

Before warmup, I heard someone say the course is long, their Garmin measured it out as 3.3 miles. To me, this was a good sign. The course wasn’t short. Knowing how Garmins work and how courses are measured, I figured this was a sign that the course was accurate.

On the warmup, I started very slow, which isn’t a bad thing of course. As I went on, I loosened up some but not as much as I had hoped I would. I did a few strides that felt good but not great, then we lined up for the race.

I wanted to get out good in this one, with a 90 degree left turn about a block from the start. As the horn sounded, though, my legs just weren’t cooperating. I found myself with probably about 7-8 guys in a lead pack ahead of me. Is this going to be the story of my race? Do my legs just not have it today? Well, after about 1/4 mile, my legs snap out of it and I find myself picking up the pace. I reel the pack in, just as I notice one guy slipping out of the front of the pack. By probably around 1/2 mile, I find myself at the front of the pack with the one guy out front. I figured it was time to see if I could chase him down so I pushed the pace. My pushing the pace broke up the pack and, by 1 mile, it was down to myself and 2 other guys chasing the leader. One was falling off a bit but the other was breathing down my neck, it seemed literally. At this point, the leader was getting away so I was more focused on ensuring this guy breathing down my neck didn’t remain there. How to do that, though, seemed to be to continue trying to chase down the leader. While I wasn’t chasing him down, I could hear the labored breathing of this guy breathing down my neck. The only problem was that my breathing was also labored. Who was hurting more? Who would be willing to hurt more? One thing I knew for sure, this guy had the backing of the locals. It seemed like, throughout the course, I kept hearing "Go Cam!" This guy appeared to be a recent grad of the high school. Before the race, I saw him and picked him out as potential competition. He was wearing Whitefish Bay T&F warmup pants and a college T&F warmup shirt. Is he a collegiate runner just coming off his season and doing an early post season race to support his high school alma mater? If so, I could be a sitting duck but why wasn’t he trying to chase down the leader? Why was he letting me do all the work unless he was either waiting to out kick me or hurting so badly he felt he couldn’t take the effort of leading me?

A little before 2 miles, it sounded like Cam was falling back a step or two. When I first noticed this, I tried to push the pace a bit. I thought this was my chance to break him. It didn’t work. He was still hanging around. Through 2 miles, he was still right there. Into the last mile, it still seemed like he was not right on my back like before but he was still around. I kept pushing, thinking I don’t want to let a college age guy hang with me to the kick or I’m in big trouble. Somewhere just past 2.5 miles, I still heard people cheering for Cam but I couldn’t hear him directly behind me. I had to push. If he comes back on me, I don’t have a lot of fight left after pushing so hard for essentially the whole race. Push now or regret it later. I kept pushing and pushing. Around the last turn, with probably just over 1/4 mile ago but already able to see the finish sign, I was giving it all I had. Closer and closer, he isn’t coming back but every block I go I get more concerned that he could be coming. I’m pushing as hard as I can and just hoping he doesn’t come back on me. Finally, I can see the clock at the finish line. I watch it tick through the 16:40s. I’m going to be very close to 17 flat. Can I get under? I try to sprint, not just to go under 17 flat but also to preempt any last second attempt Cam may make at passing me at the end. I see the finish chute right there for me in the mid-16:50s but I know it’s still too far to make in time. I push with everything I have even though I know I’m going to be just over 17 minutes. I’m not going to miss sub-17 by this little and get passed in the final steps. I see 17:03 on the clock as I go past it.

In the final results, I was 2nd in 17:04. A guy I was talking with before the race was shooting for 19 minutes after having some piriformis issues and not racing for 9 months. He got across the line in 18:45 so it was a successful day for him. I was also taking this as a success. We cooled down together and had a great talk. He’s a local high school coach and a former college teammate of a guy who went to the same high school as me about 10 years earlier.

I hung around for quite a while after the race. As I was about to go, I was informed by a race official that the course is indeed a little long. So I guess I already technically got my sub-17 5K for the 18th consecutive year. I don’t want this streak to continue on a technicality, though. I’m still shooting to cross a 5K finish line with the clock reading 16-something.

A full week and a 5k!

This article was originally posted by Charlene at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

My week does not end until Sunday but I already got all my workouts in for the week and with a 8 or 10 mile easy run tomorrow I will be up over 60 miles for the week.

I had a good tempo run on Monday, a fast finish 15 miler in 80 degree temps on Wednesday, and a race on Saturday. The 5k was a last minute decision. It was one of those little town races that are more of a charity walk anyway. The course was flat and traffic free and it’s only drawback was about 13 turns which is a tad bit excessive for a 5k. It ended up to be an almost solo effort with the 1st place man almost a minute ahead of me and the 2nd place man over a minute behind me. The 1st half I felt great and was wondering if I would accomplish great things. I cannot say I felt bad the second half but a tad bit unmotivated to push to the limit. I have this fear that I will crash and burn and that fear can hold me back from really taking off. This is a good fear to have in a half marathon but not a good fear during a 5k. I also misjudged how many blocks I had left near the end due to all the turns and ended up closer to the finish line than I wanted to be before starting to kick. But anyway I finished in 19:06 which is an alright time for me for a 5k. I always prefer to be under 19 but as long as I am under 19:20 I am happy. My PR is 18:44 for 5k. I have ran this PR 3 different times over the past 5 years. I am quite optimistic that this will be the summer that I finally lower that PR. I have a fast 5k in June and another in July and I think that those will be very good places to attempt to push myself to the limit.

Just 2 weeks until Green Bay and I admit that my only plan is to latch on to whatever pace my rhythm falls into that morning. Hopefully it will be a pleasant surprise. Like when you have to force yourself to slow down at the start as the "way too fast pace" feels too easy and you settle in right where you want to be. This would be much better than when you start out right at goal pace and it feels hard already. I am kind of hoping to just stay within the 6:40s.

Clues & Lessons (race recap)

This article was originally posted by Andrew A. at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Yesterday, I donned my BTC racing kit for the first time — first race this year and first race since October ’12 — for the Boulder Distance Classic 5K. Overall, training had seemed to be going well, though it had admittedly been diminished the past few weeks. Regardless, I was excited to finally get to race and the weather was getting really nice. My race execution was what I had planned: get out to an aggressive start and cruise through the first mile, pick it up for the second mile, and then push hard in the third mile. However, that plan left me with a finish that was not at all satisfactory, even given the slow nature of the race course: 35th overall in 18:57. I laid it all out there, showed up and ran the best I could on the day. I make no excuses, yet I am wondering about what reasons might be holding me back from racing faster. First would be the aforementioned flimsiness of my recent training. The structure itself is sound, it could just use more volume, which I will be correcting. I am also reminded of the ancillary strength training I have not yet implemented. Aside from those details, I have been feeling significantly low in energy lately (including the morning of the race) and in reading a NYT article today that mentioned symptoms of sleep disorder it occurred to me to start being more disciplined in getting sleep. The other possibility (which lack of sleep would lead to) is adrenal fatigue, so I will also be cutting out coffee and alcohol for the next few weeks to see how that helps. The good news is that I am confident in both pinpointing clear issues and knowing steps to take to work on eradicating them. It was also good to be around the team at a race, there was a really good group energy there to keep my mind off my disappointment. The great news is that two guys I coach had really good races, plus I now have photos of me racing in my new club uni!

http://acountrecourant.blogspot.com/2013/04/clues-lessons.html

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Race report – Deer Run – 5K

This article was originally posted by Ed at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

My reports are not nearly as good as Ryan’s are but here goes.

I made sure to get to the race early – I like being very early so I can be relaxed. After getting my race packet I went back to my car and ditched my warmer clothing. The weather was very nice and the winds very light – I was happy with the weather conditions. I pinned my bib on (glad I brought my own pins as they only provided two) and the turned on my Garmin to go for a 2 mile warm-up run.

I ran at about an 8-8:15 minute per mile pace for the warm up and was sure to run the final half mile of the race to end my warm-up. I noticed they were setting up timing pads at the start/ finish line and I checked my bib. There was no chip! I went to the check-in area and they directed me to a spot behind day-of registration where they were handing out the timing chips. (I wish he told me that when he gave me my packet at check-in.)

I strapped the chip to my ankel and did some light stretching. As race tiome drew near I did a few strides at about 10 MPH – just a bit faster than I planned on racing. I lined up near the front and had the usual flashy dressed folks that looked like big time runners but I knew they were not – but that didn’t stop them from lining up at the front. They started counting down to the start from 10 but said go on what would have been five. Not cute buddy!

I jockeyed around the wanna bes and the "I led for 2 seconds" people and found a nice place to lock in my pace. I kept checking my Garmin (bad habit and bad to do) but I would catch the pace dropping a bit and I would push it a bit to stay in the 9.5 MPH range or better. I held well through the first two miles passing a couple people here and there.

Right around the two mile mark some guy pulled up right next to me and was very close – I mean close! Like in my personal space close. I shaded right a bit and he followed – I slowed a tiny bit and he did as well. I turned my head slightly towards him and then kicked about a block before a turn. I gave it a pretty good kick thinking I would leave this guy with a hint of stay away from me. As I went into the turn I looked and saw the guy had fallen WAY behind. Mission accomplished but at what price?

I had planned on trying to pass as many people as possible in this last mile and then give it my all for the last quarter mile. There were not to many people ahead of me but I worked my way up on one guy but he was fading becuase the guy ahead of him was pulling away from him (but not me.) I passed him with very little race course remaining and was about 10-15 seconds behind the next guy. I started pushing it very hard trying like mad to catch the guy in front of me but needed another 30 feet to do it.

He got me by 4 seconds – dang it! I might have been able to gain those seconds earlier in the course but I don’t know. I worked very hard for this one. 11th overall and 3rd in my age group at a 6:15 pace. Not too bad for an April race!

Race report: Pike Lake Trail Run

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

I was looking for a race to test out my legs some but not worry about times or beat myself up too badly. When I saw this race on the calendar, I couldn’t resist. Times mean nothing when running at Pike Lake due to the extremely undulating terrain so I wouldn’t find myself worrying about running a certain time. No matter what time I run, it doesn’t matter. Further, I figured the trail aspect would save my legs a bit and, this time of the year and with the recent large amounts of rain we have had, ensure times would even mean less. So I signed up and was off to the races.

In the past week or so, I got to the point of expecting a very muddy course. As the race neared, I noted the forecast overnight temperatures in the 20s and decided a bigger concern may be ice. Still, a good reason to break out the cross country spikes either way. So that was my decision. With the cold forecast, I also made some race uniform changes. When I got to the race and felt the biting wind, it was settled. Tights and a long sleeve shirt over a short sleeve shirt. Add in a hat and gloves and I had my racing uniform set.

At warmup time, the temp was 25 and I don’t want to know what the wind chill was, given the strong wind coming off Pike Lake. The only saving grace was that most of the race would be in the wooded hills of the park so I’d be sheltered from the wind. It’s hard to warm up in that but I managed. Unfortunately, I believe the start was a little late so it was hard to keep warmed up but I managed with some additional strides and form drills.

As the race started, the 5K and 10K/half runners went different directions, which allowed me to at least figure out who was in the 5K. A couple of 10K/half runners jumped out in front of me and, while my legs weren’t too anxious to get off to a fast start, I didn’t want to lose contact so I hung with them. After a bit of time to loosen up, the legs decided to get going and I think the guys in front slowed down a bit and I took over the lead. Pretty quickly, the lead was growing to a fairly significant margin.

Then the start of the climb up to the top of Powder Hill. This is roughly a 450 foot climb from the start of the race to the top of the hill so we’re not talking a little climb. It also had a few downhills included so, while the net climb might be 450 feet, the gross climb was more than that. I began encountering 5K participants, some of whom even though they looked back and saw me coming did little or nothing to give me space to pass. Fortunately, it was on the mostly uphill portion of the course so I had more control and was able to work my way through with little to no trouble.

As we approached the top of the hill, we split from the 5K. They leveled off, relatively speaking, while we continued the climb to the top. As I was approaching the 55 foot observation tower near the top, I felt conflicted. The sign at the base of the tower said turn around. However, I remembered the course instructions from the website, specifically:

…towards powder hill tower, up tower, turn around, back down and out…

So what do I do? I have about 3 seconds to decide. I’m in the lead by a fairly significant margin. It’s still early enough in the race that, even if I lose the lead, I have time to gain it back. I don’t want to win partially by cutting the course. So I head up the tower. I start running but, on the first flight of 8 steps, I nearly trip because the steps are so small. So I walk the rest of the way, 2 steps at a time. On the way down, again because of the small steps, I walk down, 1 step at a time. As I’m going back down the tower, I see 6 runners turn around at the base of the tower. Either they missed the message I saw online or I chose to follow the wrong instructions. After the race, I asked the RD and he said we were not supposed to go up the tower but I didn’t know that at the time…obviously.

So now I gave up what I figure was at least 2-3 minutes, very possibly 4-5 minutes, and I went from a very solid lead to 7th place. I have time to make this up, though. So off I go to make it up. Right now, I’m somewhat mad at the guys who didn’t go up the tower because, remembering the very clear instructions online, I was sure we were supposed to go up the tower. I think I fed off that anger a bit and brought all 6 of them back in fairly quickly. Then I was back in the lead and extending it fairly quickly. Then the fun of the course began. I remember some snow and ice from the winter that hadn’t yet melted on the course somewhere but I can’t remember quite where. More fun than that, though, was the biggest "puddle" (more like a pond) on the course. We had already run through some mud spots and a couple of places where a boardwalk was laid out so we could avoid the mud pits. Now, though, I was staring at a small pond on the trail. It extended the full width of the trail and into the woods on each side. After the race, I was told there was a path around it with small flags signifying that was the path for us to take. I didn’t see it while out there, though, so through it I went.

This small pond had about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of ice on top from last night’s solid freeze and was nearly knee deep. When I first hit it, I didn’t know what I was going to hit. I knew it had ice on top but didn’t know if it was a thin film of ice or thick enough to trip me up. It turns out it was thick enough to trip me up. I crunched into the ice for about 2-3 steps at full speed, heard the guy behind me say fairly loudly "oh shit", then my foot got hung up on the ice. I kept my feet under me but I had to slow down to keep from tripping on the ice the rest of the way. By the time I got out, I was soaked from waist down and freezing. Fortunately, the freezing part only lasted about 1/4 mile.

From that point on, the worst was over. A few mud patches but nothing bad. A few hills but mostly downhill. As I had been doing whenever the opportunity presented itself, I opened up my stride whenever I could and tried hitting a nice race pace. I cruised through the remainder of the course, knowing I had a solid lead so not pushing to the full extent I could but at the same time trying to give an honest effort. I encountered some 5K participants along the way but they were spread out enough now that they weren’t too hard to navigate around. Essentially, other than one unmarked turn that I slowed a bit for before just taking a guess (and, fortunately, guessing right) it was a pretty uneventful last 1-2 miles. I cruised in with a pretty healthy lead for first place. I have no idea what my time was. Between the challenging course and adding on a fair amount of time climbing the tower, I honestly don’t care what my time was. I went there to race with no worries about time and that’s just what I did.

It was a good first effort of the year. It’s always nice to start off the year with a low key win and it’s nice to start off the year not having to truly redline it out there and without beating yourself up too badly.

While the race has some organizational challenges to improve upon, I love the course (and I now know it…as long as they don’t change it on me next year) and that to me overrides the problems. I’m never certain I’ll be going back to any race except Al’s Run but I’m reasonably certain that, barring scheduling problems, I’ll be back next year.

Sorry I don’t have any pictures. The mud I picked up on my back alone would have made for some classic images but it wasn’t meant to be I guess.