Sunday, March 24, 2013

Off to The Races

I waited a little longer to get started into the racing scene this year, but the racing hasn't really stopped since it started - 4 straight weeks in a row.  It'll be nice to do a little training next weekend.  The season started with my first ever trail race which was soon followed by some road races and team competition.  Time and time again this year it seem's I've been reminded of the wonderful weather that I'm missing in Georgia.  Every time it seems to warm up no sooner do we get hit with some wintry mix.  I can't say the weather has helped me get out the door and get down to training, hoping this helps come mid summer as I was starting to feel a bit burned out last year with starting my training in January.   The 4 races this so far this year have had some ups and downs, learning points and frustration points but all and all I can't be unhappy with it.

How has your 2013 season started off?

This year kicked off with a 5.5 mile Backyard Burn at Hemlock Overlook in Virginia.  I started running some trails late in 2012 but often get frustrated with the slower pace and started running sans watch and just hitting the trails for good times with friends.  I surprised myself at the BYB with a podium finish and learning a whole lot about trail running races.  When they say single track, they really mean single track.  If someone mentions they aren't very good at running downhill, they really probably are not very good at running downhill.  So far this year I've continually gone out on runs too hard, too fast so I told myself I wouldn't do that at BYB.  That left me stuck behind quite the group on some tough single track near the beginning of the course.  As the group spread out and some climbing started I was able to pass some people and finally get into a rhythm around mile 3.  Overall it was a fun race with a podium finish, 3rd in the 20-29 age group.  I'll definitely do some more early and late season trail racing in the future.

The week after BYB was St. Patrick's Day 8k here in DC.  I've run this course once, in December 2011 and had one of my best races ever on it.  I was looking forward to a chance to get yet another PR on this course and see all the craziness St. Patrick's Day themed runs seem to bring about.  I didn't use my Garmin at all -- I took off WAY to hard and fizzled out quite quickly.  By way too hard my first mile was about 1 min faster than goal race pace :/ whoops.  It was a great day with some warm weather followed by a great brunch.  No PR for me, but overall not a horrible day and a lesson learned in pacing.

Did you do any new/different races to kick off the season?

Just 5 short days later was my first long test of the season.  The Rock and Roll USA 1/2 Marathon.  I've only run 2 other free standing 1/2 marathons previously - the Publix Georgia 1/2 in 2011 and 2012 over the same weekend in March.  In 2011 I was happy with my result - it wasn't fantastic but it was under 2 hours and that was my goal.  2012 was a bit disappointing as it was within a minute of the same time as 2011, but my racing strategy was pretty horrible - I went out hard and tried to see how long I could hold on.  Not a great idea on the hills of Atlanta.  I had learned my lesson for 2013 at previous 1/2 marathons and the 8k the weekend before.  I picked a goal pace and tried to stick with it.  I was a little faster than goal pace for the first 10k of the run and slowed down a bit around mile 10 before picking it up again for the finish.  I PR'd my 1/2 marathon by more than 5 minutes ( I can't be too unhappy with that) but my "1/2 marathon" PR remains as my first 1/2 of the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon - I would like to smash that...someday soon.  Looking at the results and where I am at this time of year I should be happy and ahead of where I was this time last year, but I'm still lacking the speed I feel I had when I was still playing college soccer.

Are you having any early season struggle/frustrations?

This weekend was Tri Mania in DC and we had some friendly team competition - a trail-ish 5k and a computrainer 10k.  It was fun, I was sore from a brick the previous day and there was some tough and strong competition.  It was a good atmosphere to pick up some more motivation for the season and check out the local tri scene - but really I can only take so much tri talk and spandex in a short amount of time.

I've been looking at training plans and considering coaching options - as doing a lot of training (too much at times last year) and pure grit have seemed to hit a plateau.  As the weather warms and I'm able to get outside more I'm going to lock down a more normal training schedule and hopefully work smart - and hard :)