Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review: A Great Year of Running

It has been an amazing year for me in terms of running. First, here are some statistics that I kept track of on excel over this past year, followed by goals for 2012:

2011 Stats / 2012 Goals
Total Miles Run: 1389.85 / 1500
Average Miles Per Month: 115.82 / 125
Average Miles Per Week: 26.62 / 28.85
Average Miles Per Day: 3.81 / 4.10

Apparently I could run from NYC to Lincoln, NE with a few miles to spare. Either that, or I could run to the southern tip of Florida with almost 100 miles to spare.

Also, here are my PRs as of today, along with my 2012 goals:

2011 PR / 2012 Goal
1 Mile:     7:04 / 6:59
5K:          27:27 / 23:59
4 Miles:   32:44 / 31:59
5 Miles:   43:40 / 41:59
10K:       54:27 / 52:xx
15K:       1:19:54 / 1:17:xx
HM:        1:54:27 / 1:49:xx
Marathon: NA / 4:29:xx

I don't know how realistic some of these goals are, but any improvements made will be a good things. I know that as a newer runner, improvements would come very quickly, but I know that eventually, it will take much more work to see even any improvements at all.

But numbers don't tell the whole story. The other day, while my mom and I were running, she asked me what I liked most about running, I realized that it wasn't just about the PRs and the numerical data, no matter how much I enjoy analyzing it on excel.

I find that running has done the following for me
- keeps me healthy and in shape
- gave me a whole new circle of friends
- gives me goals to aim for
- has given me the means to accomplish what I never thought I could do.

I have also learned a few critical lessons that will help me when it comes time for marathon training
- Listen to my body
- Don't try and increase quality workouts and mileage at the same time
- Running is part of my life, but don't let it be my entire life. There must be balance

I also have other, non running related personal goals that I hope to achieve, and this includes being more aware of what I'm eating and making sure I make healthier choices. Losing weight would be nice, but being healthy is even more important. It is also a goal of mine to incorporate more cross training (1-2x per week) and strength training (2x per week) into my life.

Thanks to everyone who supported me throughout this year, and I look forward to another great year of running, starting off with the Emerald Nuts 4 mile run to bring in the New Year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Ted Corbitt 15K: A Surprise PR to end the racing season

Short Version
Distance: 15K (about 9.3 miles)
Previous PR: 1:23:21
Time: 1:19:54 (8:36mm) - New PR
Overall Place: 1551/4287
Gender Place: 471/2247
Age Place: 134/611

Long Version

The last several weeks of running had gone pretty well for me. After taking a cut back week following the Cape Cod Half, I kept to my goal of running at least 30 miles per week, and even managed to get in just over 37 miles last week. Other than the Race to Deliver last month, I didn't race, and just focused on maintaining my base around my busy schedule. 

I signed up for the Ted Corbitt 15K a few months ago because I wanted to break my 15K PR of 1:23:21, which was set in March. NYRR only offers two 15Ks per year, and I had enjoyed the Colon Cancer Challenge, which had a similar course (but a different start/end point). I figured that since my HM best pace was an 8:45, I should be able to crush my previous 15K PR of 1:23:21 (8:57 pace) pretty easily.

However, this past week I ran into a major roadblock. I started getting the sniffles on Monday, and by Tuesday it developed into a full blown cold. I ran on Tuesday and Wednesday, but it wasn't pretty, and on Thursday I had to take a USRD. I made up the mileage Friday, but all throughout the week, I had a hard time keeping up my easy pace, so I started to worry about whether I'd even feel well enough to participate in the race, much less do well.

However, after taking Theraflu for a couple of nights, and drinking a couple of glasses of wine at my office party, I woke up reluctantly yesterday morning feeling a bit tired, but decent overall. After getting ready, I walked about a mile to baggage check, and met up with a couple of friends, as well as a new running friend, before heading to the corrals with them.

My race bib
I had considered starting back a corral if I didn't feel well, but in the end I started in my usual corral with my friend Abbey. It was chilly standing around, but after the national anthem, the race started right on time, and I quickly warmed up. 

The course consisted of a four mile loop and a five mile loop. The only difference between the two loops was that the five mile loop took us all the way to the bottom of the park, while the four mile loop cut the bottom part out. As a result, I faced two sets of hills twice during the course of the race. 

We got off to a slow start, but after the first mile it was easier to speed up. The west side rolling hills (set #1) took place during mile one and continued into mile two. After finishing the first mile at close to 9 minutes (my garmin always hit the mile marker earlier), I sped up to finish a mostly downhill mile two about 15 seconds faster. The one thing that bothered me was some guy who ran past me was loudly complaining about how he had to pass all of the "slow pokes". Thanks for that remark, random rude guy.

Mile three had Cat Hill (set #2) so I slowed back down a little, but I still felt good after finishing the hill. My pace was still well under my PR pace of 8:57, so after doing mile four in about 8:30, I felt confident that I was at least going to get a PR unless I fell apart in the second half of the race.

We were briefly slowed down at the start of the second loop since the transverse was split into a finishing lane, and a lane for those doing their second lap, but my pace wasn't too affected by that. I was in the middle of the second round of the west side hills when I approached the mile five marker and I realized that I hit it at almost exactly my five mile PR of 43:40.

I couldn't really eat much before the race, so I had a shot blok before starting, and I would take two more along the course before water stops. I got water a third time simply because I was really thirsty and I figured that it wouldn't affect my time too much.

I don't remember much about miles six and seven, other than the fact that I was thinking that once I did Cat Hill for the second time, the rest of the race would be easy to deal with. But then I hit the mile seven marker and then I realized something very interesting that would change the tone of the race for me...

I hit the mile seven marker at almost exactly 1:01. After doing some quick math in my head, I realized that if I completed the last 2.3 miles in under 19 minutes, I would not only PR, but I would get a sub 1:20 time. I asked myself the following: would you be as happy with your time if you didn't push it and get a sub-1:20, or would you be wondering whether taking that one extra water stop was a bad idea? Being the type-A person that I was, the answer was pretty clear.

At that point, I sped up as I started mile eight, but I knew that keeping a fast pace would be tough now that Cat Hill was coming up again. The last two miles would be very tough for me, but I just refused to slow down for any reason. I knew that it would be very close, but after completing Cat Hill I was able to speed up slightly and my last full mile ended up being my fastest. As I took the final turn towards the finish, I knew that I was going to make it, and when I crossed, my garmin said 1:19:56

Someone clearly did not do a good job of
running the tangents 

My official time ended up being 1:19:54 (8:36 pace). Considering I wasn't even hoping to PR the day before, this was the best outcome I could have hoped for.

I met up with my friends and we went to Starbucks to celebrate our great race times and drink lattes (and show off our nice race shirts, which for once wasn't white).

 When I got home, I realized that based on my HM best time on a flatter course, McMillan predicted a time of 1:19:42 - on a hillier course, I was off by only 12 seconds.

Overall, this was a great way to end my 2011 racing season, and I look forward to seeing what 2012 will bring.