Monday, May 16, 2011

Race Review - Lakes Area Endurance 5k

This was the first race in Minnesota this year, it was loosely established that my wife would be taking it easy with the kids, and my brother and I would be going for personal bests.

The Training
I'm full into Triathlon training this year, and this year's focus is the bike, so running has been taking a distant second place priority wise, and soon will be in third place after swimming, although that piece hasn't become a reality yet.

Having said that, I have been splitting time pretty evenly between running and biking with 30 miles of running over 4.5 hours running and 73 miles of biking over the same amount of time. I've also put in about 2,000 yards of swimming.

Packet Pickup / Race Day
Packet pickup was the evening of the race and this race was only a few miles from my parents house, so we went to Alexandria the night before, sort of hung around the house all day and then made our way to the site. It was only about 50 degrees with on and off rain. It felt downright cold, but I was comforted that I was not the only person who thought it was cold. We got our numbers and ankle chips and headed inside.

The Start
The start pretty cramped, they put us in a pen of sorts said a little prayer, and let us know the start was going to be a gun time and not a chip time. After the initial jostle of the start we settled into a pace that was probably faster than I could hold. It was me, Levi, Dan and Anderson. I was looking for a pace that felt comfortable, but checking with my brain to make sure I wouldn't have an "easy out" later in the race and be able to rationalize going out too fast with slowing down too much. The first 1/4 mile we ran at about 7 minutes/mile and then settled in to what was a pretty stable 7:50 pace.

The Run
The course was through a neighborhood with a bunch of turns, maybe 10 or so. The course was pretty good and had plenty of volunteers out. They even had a water stop, which wasn't getting too much action when we passed it. I thought to myself: "can't feel my fingers, cold water isn't going to help."

The rest of the race was pretty steady, we talked a little, joked a little, and made goals like "don't let the 12 year/old in front of us finish before us." After we passed the second mile markers Anderson picked up the pace and left us behind, and while I did not match his pace, I did pick it up a little. It was good motivation. At 2.5 miles I asked how Levi was doing, I could hear him breathing pretty hard, he was said "almost there" and I said "1/2 mile to go" and then picked up the pace to finish strong.

The Finish
My wife says I didn't look like I was going that fast coming into the finish, but according to Garmin I ran the last little bit sub 7:00. Again it was nice to have people at the end cheering, my wife and sister-in-law and various other people. Apparently someone I had just passed was trying to close the gap, but I held him off. I grabbed some water, turned in my chip and then hung out waiting for others to finish.

The Results
Time 24:05
Overall Place 24 / 135
Division Place 7 / 19
Pace 7:46

The Garmin has my splits

The splits sort of describe the course. The first mile was sort of fast, and downhill. On the second mile we had two small uphills that had some impact on the pace I was trying to hold. It was funny, when we got the top of the first 40' elevation change the race emcee was saying "it's all down hill from here" and there was a small downhill and then a turn, and then another uphill. We all commented on his lies :)

Closing Comments
This time is a PR - by two minutes. So I'm very happy with the results. It was chilly, but not cold and in the end the lack of heat probably helped keep me moving. Running with the three other guys was a lot of fun, it's hard to say if I would have kept that pace on my own or not. When Anderson started to pull away it was pretty motivational, and now afterwards I wonder if I could have stayed closer than I did; he ended up beating me by a full minute.

This event was pretty good, I like chip timing, it feels very official, though to have ankle timers felt weird, I am used the chips that are built into the bibs - but that's just an observation. I'll probably do this race again next year, hopefully the course is the same so I'll have an apples to apples comparison.

Next up - a 10k in two weeks.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Race Preview - Lakes area Endurance 5k

The second 5k of the year coming up tomorrow. The last one I did was in March, and the overall goal for this one is to do better than that one. There are some big differences between the two. First - this one is in MN and looks like it runs through a neighborhood, the first one was in FL and ran next to the ocean. Second, I've never run this course, the other course I ran weekly. Third I probably won't be running alone (in my little group), the last time my sister and wife were pushing kids in strollers. My wife will be pushing kids in stroller, but I'm thinking her brother and I will be shooting for similar times and will be close to each other.

Race Info
The run looks like a loop through a neighborhood with no major hills, and a bunch of little turns. My plan of attack is to take it out strong and see how far my legs can take me. I don't have a good feel for how many people will be there so I'm not expecting throngs of people.

My goal - again is under 26. I clocked myself at 27:05 last night as part of a 4 mile run, and my previous best is 26:03.

Closing Comments
This is only the second time I've had a time based goal on a 5k, my plan of attack is the same, take it out around 8 and hold on. Hopefully my brother will be nearby and we can push each other, I'm just hoping I can keep up the whole time :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Land of the flat vs. Land of 10,000 lakes

The Move
This week we moved from FL to MN and while my training has been impacted some, I'm doing my best to stay on track. We packed up the house on Thursday, and spent a few days at my sister's place and had a great time there. The plan was that I'd do some running, and then a brick on Saturday and a long ride on Sunday. The reality was I did the running, forgot my helmet on the brick, and slept through the long ride on Sunday. Monday we hopped in the car and logged a quick 1,800 miles, we got to MN Tuesday morning, and I squeezed a quick 3.5 miles to top that day off.

End of an Era
When I started training in FL for triathlons and running I found Runkeeper. And I can remember thinking it was the bees-knees. It was easy to use, and seemed to do a great job. Fast forward 10 months or so, and I really hated that thing. I swear the more updates they did the worse it got, and at the end I was just hoping to get through runs/bikes and have it still working. Along came my birthday, and my sister and wife had put their heads together and got me a snazzy  Forerunner 405 from Garmin. To try to compare these (in my head) is like trying to compare monkeys and humans. Sure they're similar, but one is just a million times better at doing what I want than the other. So the Runkeeper is no longer keeping my runs, and the Garmin has taken it's place.

Training in MN vs. FL
There is a certain amount of temperature shock going on. When running at my sister's I would drink 15 oz of water per run and sweat through my clothes and then have to towel off. When running in MN I wear a long sleeve shirt, and it doesn't get sweaty. On the one hand I can churn out 7 miles without having to pack 40 oz of water, on the other hand it's chilly. Then there's the bike. In FL you wear, shoes, shorts, shirt, helmet. In MN I have a long sleeve shirt, windbreaker, full fingered gloves, and tights over my shorts. -- I'm looking forward to the warmer summer :)

There's also a bit of  topographical adjustment going on. In FL there are no hills, and it's not really an exaggeration. When I knew I was moving up here I asked around in FL where I could work on some hill work the answer was "find bridges." And I did, but without doing hill-repeats it's not really the same. Example: When I did a 27 mile ride in FL the elevation graph looks like this:
You can see, there's only a 40' or so elevation change, and it happens over the course of miles. This I'd say is no hills. (The rapid elevation changes here I'll chalk up to crappy Runkeeper, there were definitely no big hills on this ride)

When I did a 24 mile ride in MN the elevation graph looks like this:
Here you can see a 180' elevation change and some of it happens suddenly. My legs were burning, they are just not used to those hills, and having them pop up all over the place. At one point a guy who was riding with me said "it's not that hilly, maybe some rollers" and I thought "where I came from not hilly means you can't tell there's a hill, I can see three hills from the top of the hill we're on"

Bugs vs. Bugs
In FL people kept telling us how bad the bugs were. And my son and daughter did get some bug bites, but in 13 months of living there I'd say I never was bothered by the bugs.

On the other hand, I did a run the other day around a lake, and it is no joke that I probably ate 12 small flying bugs during that run. There were swarms of mosquito/gnats/see-ums. It's not even bug season here. If you're from FL, trust me, you don't have much of a bug problem.