Monday, August 10, 2009

An Award I Never Thought I'd Win

It's been awhile since I have updated my blog, but I have definitely not stopped running! I averaged between 50-55 miles per week in July, with a total of 226 miles for the month. This is my second highest month ever, with the first highest being in March of this year.

I've made some major changes to how I train:

- I train using the Heart Rate Zones that I tested for in my VO2 max test. Instead of training based on pace, I let my heart rate be my guide. This means going slower on hills and slower when it's hot and humid outside.

- I train primarily outside--but this is a luxury that I have for just a limited time. I am a morning runner, so it gets light early enough for me to do most of my runs outdoors before work. However, it's starting to get lighter later now, so I don't anticipate I will be able to do this much longer. It's nice when my boyfriend runs with me in the mornings, because then I can run in the dark and feel safe.

- I am focusing more on speed work. Now that I know exactly how hard I need to be pushing the paces based on my heart rate zones, speed work is much more effective, and I have the confidence to go faster than I have ever gone before. My intervals are typically in the 6:xx range, which I had never seen before this cycle. I do speed work twice a week (typically) in exchange for the medium-long runs I used to do.

Now for the race report. I ran the Leesburg 10K on Sunday. I had originally registered for the 20K, but given that the forecast was for 90% humidity with race temperatures in the upper 70's, I decided that wasn't smart. I raced in that kind of weather at the VA Beach half marathon last summer and I ended up very sick for weeks. I transferred my registration to the 10K and decided to run with my friend Lindsay. Lindsay and I used to train together all the time, but she recently moved to Atlanta. She was in town on business and also to run this race. My boyfriend Greg was also running the race, but he was going to go at his own pace.

My coach told me that she thought I could set a PR even in the hot, humid conditions on a hilly course. This

is mainly because my 10K PR is very soft. In fact, my fastest 10K pace is slightly SLOWER than my half marathon PR pace. It's just that something always seems to go wrong when I try to race a 10K-- the weather, an injury, I don't pace it properly, whatever. Lindsay and I decided to go for a pace of 7:55. We would start the race together and stay together as long as possible, but we agreed we would separate if one of us couldn't hold on.

Everything started out okay. We naturally went out too fast because the course starts with a big downhill. We averaged a 7:46 for the first mile which was faster than we wanted, but of course it felt easy. The second and third mile were both uphill, as well as the first half of the fourth. I decided to ease up on the pace toward the end of the third mile and Lindsay pushed forward.

We reached the turnaround point at mile 3.5 and it was mainly downhill from there. Knowing that it was all downhill going forward gave me an extra mental push, so I caught up to Lindsay, and eventually passed her. By this point, I really felt like I was going to pass out. I kept glancing at my heart rate monitor thinking that I should be able to be working at a higher heart rate, but the feeling of being so close to passing out overwhelmed me. I grabbed a cup from the volunteer and poured it all over myself. It turned out to be Gatorade! As I approached the end of mile six, Lindsay caught up with me and we exchanged a few words. Then she pulled ahead of me and I felt like I had nothing left, so I stayed back. Lindsay crossed the finish line about 15 seconds ahead of me, and I came through at 50:35. This race was a PR for Lindsay, so I was excited for her, but not the PR that I had been hoping for.

They had these wonderful ice cold clothes at the finish line and I grabbed three of them. About a minute later, my boyfriend Greg came through the finish area, setting a three-minute PR! He's certainly gotten a lot faster since the 10K we ran back in June. I told Lindsay I thought she might have won an award because I didn't see many women who looked our age ahead of us. But she didn't think it was possible with her time, and such a large race. The three of us left, and went to breakfast.

When the results were posted, that's when I learned that Lindsay placed first in our age group and I placed second. I was thrilled for both of us! Even though I didn't PR and I really struggled in the heat/humidity, my training had earned me something. Apparently we won awards that will be mailed to us. We were kicking ourselves for not staying for the awards. Typically in these large "Capital Running Company" races, the winning times are in the mid to low 40's. I guess not when it's that hot out. And of course there were many talented runners in the 20K.

I placed 2 of 56 in my age group (30-34)
I placed 31 of 354 women

My average pace was 8:09 with an average heart rate of 182, which is near the top of my Lactate Threshold zone. My coach says that I didn't run this at race effort because race effort would have yielded and average HR of 184 or higher, but I gave it all I had while feeling like I was about to pass out. I felt like I had the fitness to go faster, but not the energy. Plus, when I realized I wasn't going to PR, I didn't have as much motivation during the last mile.

I'll have another shot at a 10K on September 12. Hopefully it won't be as humid or hilly.


  1. Congratulations on your new training! It's certainly working for you! Congratulations, too, to you and Lindsay for taking the top 2 spots! I loved the matching outfits!!

  2. Excellent job! Wow, that humidity was crazy! It was good to read a ZZ blog again. Nice outfits, btw.

  3. You and your running pal look TERRIFIC! Front cover of runnersworld, right there!


  4. Don't beat yourself up over not getting a PR for the 10K. Try to enjoy the run more, wear the gear but let yourself go in the run.

  5. Good to see you updating the blog.
    Hope your running continues to go well.
    PRs in your future.