Saturday, June 27, 2020

Virtual Race Report: Indianapolis Monumental Mile

Yesterday I ran the Virtual Indianapolis Monumental Mile on the track with Greg. I had been training to run the mile distance for about 4 weeks.

Time Trial #1
On May 25th, I ran my first ever timed mile. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for. I've read many 1-mile race reports over the past few years and I even spectated a 1-mile track race about eight years ago. However, I never had the desire to race this distance. In the spirit of taking on new challenges during the Covid era, I decided now would be the time.

We decided that Greg would go first and I would time him using my phone's timer. I would collect his lap data and cheer him on. Then it would be my turn. He would take photos and videos and cheer me on. You could make the case that we would have been faster if we ran at the same time, but I wanted to "run my own race" and not be distracted by what he was doing.

My biggest fear was totally blowing up and running far slower than my capability. So I decided to start on the slower side and finish with a hard sprint.  My goal for the first time trial was simply to get a baseline for future time trials, but I decided I would shoot for 6:00.  My splits for each 400m lap were:

1:32 (1:32)
1:33 (3:05)
1:30 (4:35)
1:26 (6:01)

My time was 6:01.8. I was good with this time, although given how fast my last lap was, I wished I had gone out faster. Greg ran 5:46.

Time Trial #2
Our second time trial took place one week later on June 1. I should note that the weather for both the first and the second time trials was unseasonably cool. Mid 50s with low humidity.

Now that I had some practice under my belt, I decided I would try to go out more aggressively and run sub 6:00. I also knew that my mental game needed to be stronger. During the first time trial I kept having visions of stopping and not finishing the whole thing. For time trial #2, I vowed that I would stay positive the entire time and remind myself to push as hard as possible while staying relaxed.

1:30 (1:30)
1:32 (3:02)
1:29 (4:31)
1:25 (5:56)

My time was 5:56.0.  Over 5 seconds faster! Once again, I felt like I was flying during that last lap and I wished I had gone out faster. Greg ran 5:40, so we both shaved nearly six seconds off of our first attempt.

Time Trial #3
Once again, we waited one week and ran another time trial. It just so happened that Mondays offered the unseasonably cooler weather. It was in the upper 50s and sunny, but the humidity was low. I promised myself I would go out even faster and I would push, push, push all the way through. With two time trials behind me, I was much more confident in my abilities.

1:30 (1:30)
1:28 (2:58)
1:28 (4:26)
1:26 (5:52)

My time was 5:52.5, a PR by 3.5 seconds! I was so thrilled with this. And for the first time, I felt like I really gave the run everything I had in me. I was totally and completely spent by the end. After the first two time trials, I felt like I still had more to give. Greg had similar gains, running 5:37.

The Race
I wore briefs for the first time. Felt so free!
For the virtual race, we were allowed to run on any date between June 22 and June 30, so the race is still going on. We picked yesterday, which had the coolest weather. It was 62 degrees, compared to all the other days that were around 70. It was a humid 62, though, so it was definitely not as nice as any of the previous 3 attempts. I had no idea how much of a factor the weather would be for a race that lasted less than 6 minutes. I mean, how much can the humidity really get you in such a short time span?

Turns out, both Greg and I felt flat. I didn't feel like I had the power that I had during my previous attempts. My goal was to break 5:50 and run the first lap in 1:28. I think it was partially the weather but also partially that I just didn't feel great. Training in the heat has a cumulative effect so even if the actual race has good weather, if you've been training in crappy weather in the week leading up to the race, you likely won't feel your best.

Ironically, this is what happened at the Indy Monumental Marathon in 2017. I trained really hard during an unseasonably warm autumn. The race weather, however, was ideal. And yet I totally crashed and had a horrible race. My splits were:

1:31 (1:31)
1:31 (3:02)
1:30 (4:32)
1:26 (5:58)

My time was 5:58.0. When I saw my split for lap 3 I knew I needed to book it just to break six minutes! It seems like I am consistently able to run 1:26 in the last lap, but I can't seem to get myself to push harder earlier. I don't know if that's lack of confidence or that my legs need to warm up more. I was really, really hurting by the end and it took me a while to feel recovered after I finished. I felt like I pushed harder in this virtual race than the other time trials, and that is supported by the heart rate data below.

Before these time trials, I do drills and a few 100m strides, so I feel loose and ready to go.

In any event, I was happy that I ran sub-6:00 but disappointed that I didn't reach my goal of sub 5:50. And just like in the time trials, Greg was slower than his PR, too. He ran a 5:42. Both of us were faster than time trial #1, but slower than the other two trials. It was just not the day to PR.

Because I love charts:

 Lap 1 
 Lap 2 
 Lap 3 
 Lap 4 
 Average HR 
 May 25  
June 1
June 8
 June 26

As for my training, my has been relatively low, as it tends to be in the summer. I plan to take the month of July very easy and then start adding more volume in August.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

160 Days of Running

Today I hit day 160 of my run streak! Not having a marathon to recover from makes it possible for me to run every day and I am lucky that I can do so without injury or illness. I have no idea when I will end the streak, but I hope it's by choice when it happens. Here are some highlights of the past 30 days.

Training for the Mile
I'm training for the Indianapolis Monumental Mile. This is a virtual race when I can run at any time between June 22-30. I'm planning to run it on Friday or Saturday and will blog about it once I do. The beauty of training for a virtual mile is that I've never raced the distance non-virtually. So I am only comparing apples to apples where a PR is concerned. My goal is sub 5:50.

My coach has prescribed some high-intensity speed work on the track which has really helped build my confidence and ability to pace. I've done 3 time trials on the track, which I will write about in more detail when I recap the virtual race. I've managed to get faster and faster each time, which I mainly attribute to knowing how to pace it and gaining the confidence to start fast. My biggest fear with this distance is crashing and running far under my capability.

Strength Training
I started working with a running-specific strength coach at the end of April. We have weekly sessions over Zoom and in between those sessions I have a program I do on my own. I really like the accountability of a coach (since I always seem to have an excuse for not strength training) and I like having the feedback on my form. Plus, she has been able to identify my areas of weakness and build a personalized program.

Most of the exercises are compound exercises which require a very stable core while I am lifting a weight or pulling a band. Glutes and hips are a big focus, but also the lats and the shoulders of the upper body. I do feel like I have more power when running and that I can get my knees higher and drive forward more efficiently.

Snake in the Basement
My run streak almost ended on day 150. I woke up feeling abnormally tired. I felt lethargic and like I didn't have my normal energy. That was a "yellow light" for me, meaning that I might be on the verge
This snake was in our basement
of full-blown mono, so I decided not to run that morning. I figured that I could always run later in the day on the treadmill if my energy level improved.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had planned to run on the treadmill, but since I didn't, Greg went down to the basement first and he saw a snake! This prevented me from having to see the snake, or run on the the treadmill with a snake nearby. I was able to find a local snake expert to come by and help, but by the time he arrived, the snake was nowhere to be found.

The adrenaline of the snake situation really perked me up and by the end of the day, I felt completely normal. I decided to run just 2 miles outdoors to keep the streak going. No way was I going into the basement! Thankfully, Greg heard the snake moving around two days later, called the snake expert, and he was able to come over immediately and remove the live snake with his two hands! It was a lot larger than I had imagined. We think we identified how it could have gotten in and sealed up that area.

Poconos Mountains
The Lodge at Woodloch
We dealt with the snake just in time to leave for a mini-vacation to the mountains. We were so worried that we'd be gone for four days and that snake would just be hanging out. Greg and I booked a 4-night stay at the Lodge at Woodloch-- and all-inclusive spa retreat in northeastern Pennsylvania.

We really just wanted to get away, take some time off of work and focus on relaxation. We didn't do much while we were there other than relax, eat, and take in the beautiful scenery. The running situation was challenging. It was the mountains so all of our easy runs had insane elevation gains and losses. One of the runs was only 5.4 miles but had 540 feet of gain! I usually don't even run that much gain during a long run.

Thankfully, two of the four days were prescribed track workouts. We found a high school track that was relatively close to our resort and we were able to run on a flat surface. The weather was amazing. Each morning it was in the low 50s with low humidity. A dream come true! During the day, it would rise to the low 70s, still with low humidity. We were truly blessed, particularly because we had to eat all of our meals outdoors.

Lucky Leprechaun
When the St. Pat's 10K was canceled last spring, I signed up for a smaller race: Lucky Leprechaun. But 24 hours after registering, that race got postponed to June. And then at some point in May it turned into a virtual race.

I had pretty much forgotten about it, which was kind of a shame because we had unseasonably cool and non-humid weather on the morning when the virtual race was to occur (June 13th). Instead, I had a long run on the calendar. So I decided to run 11 miles at my easy long run pace, and then restart my Garmin for 3.1 at the end.

The 11 miles averaged 8:28 and then I ran a 5K in 22:41. Splits were 7:18, 7:19, 7:15 and 6:50 for the last 0.11. This was good for 5th female out of 190. Not to shabby, given my 11-mile warm up! I was encouraged that my endurance was still in a good spot if I could start hammering really hard at the end of a long run.

Fall Races
I am still undecided about my fall race plans. I originally signed up for the Rehoboth Beach Marathon because I wanted to run a late fall race. But now that we are no longer going to be in Africa at the end of August and into early September, I could start training earlier and run an earlier marathon. I am actually looking at running the Marine Corps Marathon for charity because it's local and I have not run it since 2006. As of now, the Marine Corps Marathon is not canceled so I am optimistic.

Another choice would be Philadelphia. That has been on my list for a long time and I've never done it. It would not require a flight and the weather is likely to be cooler than Marine Corps. Pennsylvania, however, is one of the the strictest lockdown states, so I am not as optimistic about that race occurring.

I do have a hotel reserved in Indianapolis. I ran really well there last year for the half marathon and was hoping to return. But it does require hopping on an airplane and it will not be a new experience. Indy Monumental is currently planning to have both a real race and a virtual race. Indiana is not as strict with their lockdown as other areas, so it could actually happen!

Rehoboth is still a possibility, but I might want to save that for 2021 because we are planning to go to Africa in August of 2021 and we will need a later fall marathon. I've heard that Rehoboth Beach is very strict with their lockdown, so that race might not actually occur.

We're coming up on a particularly warm and humid week here in the DC area, so I need to take it easy in preparation to race the virtual mile this weekend.

It's pretty humid here!