Thursday, July 16, 2015

Marathon training begins, and a quick 5K race report

The transition from "not marathon training" to "marathon training" in the winter always happens so suddenly for me - I'm always training for Boston, so the timeline is the same, and the start of January = the start of marathon training. Done. Fall marathon training, on the other hand, tends to happen more gradually, and this training cycle is no exception. I've been racing a lot for fun this summer, which I think has been great in terms of forcing me to run hard once in awhile, but my weekly mileage hasn't exactly been stellar (an average of about 28 miles/week tends to be the comfy point that I revert to when out of marathon training season). But this week, when I added up my planned mileage and it came mighty close to 50, I realized - holy shit, I'm actually marathon training, AGAIN. Sadly, that means a lot less "racing for fun" type situations and a lot more of what passes for structured training in my book.  But before I reverted back to marathon training, I decided it would be fun to run a random 4th of July 5K. It had actually been 2 years since I raced a 5K (unless you count 5K's with my dog, which I don't. My 25 lb pup's 5K PR is 21:56 though, so it's at least a tempo run) and the last 5K I ran was an extremely ill fated 4th of July race which involved 85 degree temps with ridiculous humidity at the start, along with an extremely hilly course. Needless to say, I picked a different race this time around. Joy and I headed over to Lynnfield, picked up our amazing cotton shirts (another $20 race with an amazingly hideous cotton shirt? Perfect!), warmed up a little, and headed to the start. I immediately picked out a couple of women who looked fast, including one woman who would turn out to be a professional runner for Puma and who went on to run a 17 minute 5K...I mean, whoa. The national anthem was sung (kind of can't get away without that on July 4th) and...we were off!

I can sum up this race pretty briefly in stream of consciousness style:
Mile 1 - "OK, this is kind of hard, but it's not SO bad. There are only like 4 women in front of me, hard to complain about that. Gah, I wish I could pass this woman. I wish it wasn't so humid. 6:20. Hey, keep that up, and you can run a PR!"

Mile 2 - "SWEET BABY JESUS WHY ARE WE RUNNING UPHILL?! Why do I feel like I just jumped in a swimming pool? Why is my breathing SO LOUD? I am going to dump that cup of water on my head. This humidity is stupid. I still can't pass that damn woman. I hate 5K's." 6:49...alright, I'll take that.

Mile 3 - "OH GOD WHY DID I DO A 5K WHAT IS THIS? I sound like I am actively dying! This guy in front of me must be ready to murder me! That woman in the purple shirt is long gone. Whatever, she looked out of my age group anyway. WHY IS IT SO HUMID? I think I'm going to throw up. Why am I still running, up a hill no less?! Wait, is that a downhill. We must be almost to the finish. GO FASTER LEGS! 6:53.

My finish time was 20:44, which I believe is my 2nd best road 5K ever. Yup, ever. I was super OK with that. And I am VERY happy to report that my Garmin measured the course as 3.1 miles, on the dot...nice work, Lynnfield. I like you. I also wound up 1st in my age group, after you took out 1st place future Olympian woman. This cemented this summer as my most winning race season of all time, as I took home some sort of award in all 5 races that I ran! Being able to crack the age group placings really will never get old for me, especially when it comes with a decent performance. But man, 5K's? That is a whole different kind of pain. In a longer race you have all kinds of time to play around with pace and solve your problems. In a 5K? It's go out, try to hold on, and see how little you can die. And given the complete lack of speedwork of any sort in my life recently, I think the amount of death I died after going out in 6:20 really wasn't too bad at all. In fact, this race got me thinking that maybe if I wanted to train specifically for it, I could actually run a 5K PR one of these days.

Just livin' the dream

So now, back to the marathon training situation. I like to marathon train on a very 'general' plan - I plan out my long runs in advance and I have a general idea of the weekly mileage/days of running per week I want to shoot for, but other than that? It's kind of a free for all. I generally try to throw in something resembling a workout most weeks - a lot of times, I'll do the workout recommended by my club coaches, but I'll be the first to admit that that doesn't always happen. Sometimes, my legs just feel good and what was originally planned to be an easy run turns into a tempo. Sometimes I just have no desire to do a workout, and so I don't. It's a little bit haphazard and I'll admit that there are times that I wonder whether I couldn't be better if I had a little more structure to my training life, but this "the only thing planned is the long run" situation got me a 5 minute PR in craptastic weather in Boston a few months ago, so it can't be totally horrible. Every training cycle, I do add a couple of new things/goals into the mix to see if they work. For Boston, that was doing strength training 2x/week, which I hope to continue with throughout the summer. This cycle, I have a couple of goals in mind. The first is higher overall weekly mileage, which should be helped significantly by the fact that I really want to get in a midweek medium long run of 8-12 miles, everrrrry week. The other is that I live ~2 miles away from Fresh Pond, and every Saturday they host very informal races that are either 1 (2.5 miles) or 2 (5 miles) laps of the pond. I really have NO excuse for not going over there and doing some marathon pace running at least every other weekend.

So that's pretty much the situation here. My next race on the schedule is the Falmouth Road Race, which is kind of a big deal around these parts. After missing the deadline last year, I decided this year to apply to run for the Brain Injury Association of MA team (a cause that, as an outpatient physical therapist working mainly with people who have had a brain injury or stroke, is pretty near to my heart) and I got in! So, for the 2-3 people who read this blog, I will shamelessly plug my fundraising page: . Falmouth will also be an insta-PR for me, since it's a totally weird distance of 7 miles. New England tradition + instant PR..can't argue with that!

1 comment:

Gracie said...

Sounds like this unstructured training works well for you: it got a PR in rough conditions, and you're still able to race fast 5ks. Nice.