Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yo-Yos

I've decided to exploit the local terrain around my house more by using the hills even for ez training. I had largely been doing this with hill repeats but now I've decided that even my easy runs I'm going to pack with the local hills. No more (or at least, much less) back cove! In order to maximize the vertical, I've decided to avoid long stretches of flattish road by either repeating a hilly loop or just yo-yo-ing a particularly good stretch. For my long run last week, I did a 3 x 5 mile loop right outside my door on what I call the "top-o-Falmouth" because a little side road off the loop takes you to the top of Falmouth, which is a little higher elevation than the top of Bradbury.
I was planning on doing a variant of this loop yesterday for my long run but I stopped after loop 2 to deal with an emerging blister problem and the stop just made it worse so I bailed. I ran these two loops with Ian and it was nice to have his company except that he ran it faster than I was expecting - good thing I bailed after loop 2! I needed my long run so I took off today without any real plan and I thought briefly about a double woodville loop but ultimately decided on yo-yo-ing Field Rd. because this would allow me to really avoid all flat roads. The hills weren't as high as the Blackstrap loop but it was a fairly constant up-down-up-down (you can see the yo-yo between miles 3 and 11).

I've also done a hill repeat at faster than easy pace on a more local hill than Skillins. Its on the road but the traffic is pretty minimal and its a longer climb than Skillins
I'm hoping that by including more hills in my easy days, I develop a little more leg strength. Even if I don't, these runs should make racing flat roads feel like a breeze.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I came, I saw, I followed


The Bradbury Whiteout, race #2 in the Bradbury Snow series, welcomed racers with cold temps, bright blue skies, and a gnarly mix of ice, hardpack, and powdah. The course was moved from the mountain side to the bike side of the park in order to find some snow stashes. While the conditions weren't quite what they were for the first race, at least we were racing on snowshoes, unlike many racers in New England.

After 2 days off this week due to the perfect storm of ski-coaching, job, and family, I needed to get some miles in and I new I wouldn't have the will to get those in following the run, so I arrived to the race early enough for a 50 minute (5.6 mile) warmup on the snowmo trail. Other than the access trail, which was really icy, the footing was excellent and no screws or icespikes were needed and none were worn. I finished my warm-up with just enough time (10 minutes) to change into my race top and strap on my new Atlas Run snowshoes, which I had yet to try.

At the gun, I took one step and caught Ian's snowshoe. I grabbed a racer's shoulder on either side of me to keep from falling, was carried a step, landed, and started racing. I heeded Ryan's advice to Jamie from the last race and tried to keep up with Ian and Scott H. but I just cannot start that fast and by about 3/4 mile I was 10-15s back and pretty much stayed there for the rest of the race. George A-C was on my tail for about 2 miles but fell off, I think after I tried to pick up the pace on a downhill (in a failed attempt to catch Ian and Scott). At 2.5 miles I was toast but a rope tied from Scott to me kept pulling me forward and I simply moved my legs to keep from being dragged like Hector behind the victorious Achilles. In the last mile, on the old roadbed and in the Lanzo singletrack, I made my last efforts to surge and catch Scott and Ian but no can do.

The race was followed up by more good soup and goodies and awards and fires and friendly banter and all that.  Kudos to Ryan, race director par excellence, for finding enough snow to remind us that this is winter and trail races are meant to be run with floatation.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Peaked?

Last Spring I ran a 5K PR at the Mother's Day 5K and figured I'd have a long season of PRs given how little running I'd done before that. Indeed, I had already PRed at the Rivah 10 miler and a couple of weeks later I PRed at the Pineland 25K despite a run-stopping side-stitch. But the summer and especially fall races didn't pan out as expected, which really bothered me. How could my fastest running be in the spring with having run so little during the winter?

Fast forward to today. I ran for the first time the mid-winter classic 10 miler. It's a great course, superbly directed (by Chandra and Blaine), and it was fun to race with lots of friends. Still, I was pretty unimpressed with my time. To compare with other races, I'd have to come up with equivalents, so I used McMillan's calculator to compute my marathon equivalent (left axis) and 5K equivalent (right axis) for all of my road races on certified courses. I've color coded each race by distance.
(click image to enlarge)
Today's race is the black dot. The green dot is my one actual marathon race.
Thoughts:
1. I'm clearly fastest at 5Ks and get less fast with increasing distance
2. My poor races are generally because of either heat or side-stitches. That's not an excuse for today's race
3. I seem to have peaked
4. I've never not PRed in a 5K!

One possible cause of the peak is my aging. So I reanalyzed the data using WAVA age graded tables, which gives you a score, which I suppose could be compared among anyone. It's a little harder to see if the current trend is a peak or just a few bad races. Regardless, this plot really shows an amazingly linear progression (until my last few races that is).

(click image to enlarge)