Posts Tagged ‘10K Training’

As much fun as I had last weekend racing at the Harvest Fest 5K, I have to admit that I was a little more than disappointed in my performance.  Finishing second overall and first in my age group was fine from a “results” standpoint.  But as I’ve said numerous times over the past two years – the only person that I’m really “racing” on race-day is me.

First, Second or Fiftieth is pretty much irrelevant.  It is more a matter of me being happy with whether or not I race up to my capabilities.

Frankly, running a 19 minute 5K time on a flat course in near perfect weather just wasn’t good enough last weekend.  Now, I’m not about to go all “Reese Bobby” and declare that “If you’re not first, your last”, but I knew that I was capable of a lot more last weekend.

Sure I had a tough week of training leading up to the event and yes, running out front for the first two miles of the race was “different”.  But as I thought about the Harvest Fest Race this week during my training runs, the thing that stuck with me was that I don’t think I stayed as “mentally tough” as I would have liked.

I allowed my mind to wander during the middle portions of the race and with it, my pace “wandered”.  That kind of effort is simply not going to cut it this weekend at the IBM Uptown Classic.  If I am going to in fact break that 40:00 minute 10K time, I needed to toughen up.  Get back that “Eye of the Tiger” that I had back in Pittsburgh making my Boston Time in 2009 or at numerous times this summer as I posted PR after PR at the 10K and 5K distance.

Next Sunday is go time and the only thing that can stop me from achieving my goals next week frankly is me.  It was time to “get right” from a mental standpoint and with my last two “tough” training runs scheduled before race day – now was the time.

Saturday morning’s workout was my last real chance to log some “tempo” miles as I don’t want to push pace too hard too close to IBM.  There is a delicate balance between training hard and training foolish.  Leaving my best race out on Brushy Creek Trail a week before IBM didn’t make a lot of sense.

But that said, I needed to dial-in, focus and run strong.  Eye of the Tiger.

Saturday’s workout called for 6.2 miles :20-:30 seconds slower than IBM Goal Pace which is 6:26/mile.

I took “to the hills” for this workout, and decided to run the recently reopened Brushy Creek Trail.  The run would have a little bit of everything designed to slow me down.  The route featured lots of ups and downs, a climb over the Dam and back as well as a “soft course” with all of the new aggregate that the county has spread in trail repairs. 

Saturday’s run was a dress rehearsal as I wore what I expect to race in next Sunday with the exception of my Brooks T6 Racing flats.  I ran in my trainers which are a good 6 ounces heavier than my race shoes.

Splits were just about perfect at:

7:04, 6:38, 6:57, 6:50, 6:39, 6:38 and a closing 2/10 at 6:16 pace.  

Saturday Tempo

Total time 42:05 over the 10K course 6:47/mile, :21/mile slower than goal pace.  The best part of the run was the feeling that I could have clipped off another 2-3 miles at 6:30 pace with little trouble. 

My legs “were back” and I was loving it.

The rest of the day Saturday was spent with Dawn and Landry.  We ran some errands, picked up a new scarecrow, hay bale and pumpkins for the front yard.

We also managed to somehow lock the baby in the running truck (seriously) and made it home in time for the South Carolina vs. Alabama game.

Now as far as the truck-door locking incident, I will say this. 

Sh#% happens. 

I was not too worried as the air conditioning was running and we were only 20 seconds from getting in by me cracking through the sliding rear window in the Ford – but the local EMS guys were quick on the scene and able to get us in before Landry even batted an eye.  A little stressful obviously, but I think it is a rite of passage for new parents.

Landy playing "under the sea" at home

An added bonus was the fact that I didn’t have to spend  the rest of the day getting the window in the truck repaired – instead, Landry and I got to watch the Gamecocks take down the #1 team in the nation for the first time in football history at the school.  Maybe between the Phillies and Gamecocks, Landry arrived on the scene at precisely the right time in 2010.  Hopefully she will not have to endure the years of suffering that I have over the years rooting for those two star-crossed sports teams.

Sunday morning was equally glorious – tremendous weather, although a bit overcast at 6:00 a.m.  The roads and the trail were quite dark until sunrise around 7:00 a.m.  I was going to run this workout “by feel” and try to bring it in at a comfortable pace something right around 7:25 felt right after Saturday morning’s tempo work.

At mile 2 my Garmin started acting very peculiar and was beeping at me incessantly.  When I glanced down under a street lamp, I could see that the display that has stared back at me faithfully for more than two years and 3,500 miles was in disarray.

I decided to “run quiet” from that point on and did not bother to play around with the device.  I’ll figure it out later when I get back I thought – no sense ruining a great run.  The miles ticked off and before I knew it I was back climbing up and over the dam at Brushy Creek Park.  With no technology to rely on, I decided to let me legs dictate pace and push through the end of the run.

When I hit the final mile I had the feeling that I was running strong, but really didn’t know if I was running at 7:30, 7:15 or 7:00 pace.  All I knew was my legs felt great, my mind was focused and breakfast was going to be on the table in a matter of moments.

As I heard the familiar beep as I approached the house, I knew I had reached mile 12 and I shut down the run.  Coasting to a stop I felt perfect.  No aches, no pains, no heavy breathing.  Perfect.  One week to go.

Sunday Long Run

After I was able to reboot my GPS, I saw that the run came in at 7:18 pace.  1:27:43.  A great Sunday run on the heels of a great tempo workout the day before.  As I cooled down and started to kick off my shoes on the front porch I realized that it was back.  I felt like I had found my “mojo” at exactly the right time.  The run went even better than I had thought when I took a look at the mile by mile breakdown:

7:29, 7:19, 7:15, 7:07, 7:28, 7:22, 7:24, 7:28, 7:22, 7:20, 7:16, 7:04, 7:02

Now if I could just remember to wear shorts with pockets in them to the store so I don’t end up locking the truck by accident we’ll really be ready for next weekend! 

Dadathoner, always learning.

I just had to know.

As I woke up on Tuesday morning and glanced at the outdoor thermometer in our bathroom, the readout showed 54 degrees.  Making Tuesday the coldest morning in Austin since May 5th.

On the schedule was a 10K tempo run.  A workout that I have had in my training plan for the past two months with the specific goal of breaking the 40 minute mark at the IBM Uptown Classic 10K on October 17th.

39:59 equates to a 6:26 pace for 6 miles, 385 yards.

Based on my recent 5K time of 18:12 posted twice this summer at the Cougar Country Classic and NOCC Balance 5K, a sub 40:00 minute 10K should be possible given all of the hard work we have been putting in.  My confidence has been growing with each passing week of training.

I’ve been running strong, hitting those hill repeats each and every Thursday and comfortably finishing each workout before moving on to the next.  All recent signs have been very positive.

But still, when I would think about IBM the same two questions would arise: 

Can I? 

Will I?

In the past I have written about the fragile mental state of the distance runner.  As my good friends Sean, Winston, Bob, Brian and others are firmly in their marathon taper for races on October 10th, I think about what they are going through right now. 

No matter if it is your first marathon like Sean who is running for Dom at Chicago or Winston running his 29th marathon with the goal of running a sub 3:00 hour marathon at the age of 50.  Pre-race “jitters” affect all of us.  You spend so much time preparing for a single race, as that day approaches, the enormity starts to really sink in.  There are no “do-overs”, just a single moment for it all to come together – or not. 

In most cases marathoners will run 90 training runs covering more than 700 miles in preparing for race day.  As those workouts shrink in length and intensity closer to marathon morning, your mind starts to play tricks on you.  You start to question every little snap, crackle and pop from your knees and ankles.  You also start to wonder about your carefully crafted training plan.  Did I work hard enough?  Could I have done more?

For me, the true source of this uneasiness comes from the difference between thinking I can do something and “knowing” it.

The only way for me to absolutely “know” I can achieve a race day goal is by previously hitting that mark.

From the time I spent stretching on the family room floor, to letting Kayla outside and finally stretching my calves against the garage, I could not shake loose from the number – 39:59.

I just had to know.

So with very little fanfare, I decided that Tuesday morning was the time.  Avery Ranch was the place.  I was going for it.  Thinking about it, there was not a whole lot of downside.  The course I was going to run was the same as my hill repeats.  It would not be “flat and fast”.  I would have to climb up and down more than 185 feet of elevation changes.

I would be running by myself.  No crowds, bib number or timing chip.  No race day “mojo” to get the competitive juices flowing.  Just me, my garmin and 6.2 miles.

If I missed the 39:59 I could explain it away pretty easily that it was the course, the fact I was running alone, that there was no one to push me, no one for me to chase, no real reward waiting for me at the end of the ten kilometers.

But if I made it.  What if I actually made it?

I just had to know.

I ran a short little loop in front of the house to shake loose a bit, less than 3/10 of a mile.   Not a true warm-up, not like I would run on race day, but enough so that I would not risk straining anything over the first mile.

As I reached the driveway I punched the GPS on my wrist and thought to myself – “you wanted to know, so let’s find out”.

The cooler morning temperature really agreed with my stride and my breathing.  I felt strong immediately heading up the 44 foot climb over mile number 1.  As I hit the top of the neighborhood I heard the beep on my GPS watch and glanced at the dial under the street lamp.

A 6:17 first mile.  Not a bad start.

Mile two essentially backtracks to our home, then starts the ascent into mile number three.  My breathing and leg turnover still felt good, but I decided to back off just a hair as we would have to climb a bit in both mile 3 and 5.  I didn’t want to burn out to quickly.

Mile number two came in at 6:24.  Two seconds faster than our race goal.

Mile three is a 4-story ascent into our neighboring subdivision.  The climb is very gradual which makes it feel a bit easier than it is.  I knew that managing mile three and four just like on race day would be key.  I wanted to hit it hard, but still stay in control.

6:21 for mile three.  Can I really do this I thought?

Mile number four is a mixed bag as the first quarter-mile is still uphill, then a nice 4/10 of a mile downhill section where we run our hill repeats on Thursdays.  I wanted to back down the effort just a bit on mile 4 so I would have some strength left to make the climb back up on mile 5.  That was going to prove to be the really challenging part of the run.  It was all about mile 5.

Mile four came in at 6:24.  Another :02 in the bank.

As I started mile 5 I mentally broke it into three parts.  The first climb would last about 1/5 of a mile, followed by a short downhill section to catch my breath.   From there I would be staring at 4/10 of a mile straight uphill to the top of the neighborhood, “Hill Repeat Hill”.  If we could keep it together here and not lose too much time we had a shot.

Mile 5 frankly felt like a race.  I tried to pick out the landmarks that I use on Thursdays.  The black stripe on the road ¼ of the way up the hill.  The bushes that mark the half-way point.  The neighborhood mailboxes that are ¾ of the way to the top and then the final street lamp that marks the end of our hill repeat.  At the top of the hill we made our right onto the road heading for home and the GPS sounded.

6:33 for mile 5.  It was all downhill from here.

I felt both my legs and my breathing start to change.  What had felt “comfortably hard” was now simply “difficult”.  This is where the lack of “race day mojo” was really going to hurt.  I passed a neighbor walking their dog on the side of the road and managed a “good morning” and pushed on.

I felt “fast” but it is amazing how different your feelings are from reality at the end of a tough run or race.  The GPS beeped marking just 2/10 of a mile to go.

Mile 6 came in at 6:19, only :02 slower than our opening mile.

Just .20 miles to go and I searched for my finishing kick.  This was very encouraging as there actually was something there when I reached back for it.  I covered the final 2/10 of a mile in 1:14 – 5:57 pace.

As I hit the stop timer on my GPS and slowed to a jog I glanced down at my watch.


20 seconds to spare, 6:24 pace.

Sub 40:00 10K

It was like Alice traveling through the looking-glass as what once seemed only “possible” became “achievable”.  I am smart enough to know that one run does not mean that all future runs will go as smoothly.  A lot of things have to come together on race day for you to truly run your best.

Last year’s Boston Marathon taught me that and then some.

But I have to say I will be pinning on that bib at IBM with some serious confidence.  Now I know that I have that kind of race in me.  It is just a matter of channeling that “mojo” on race day and preparing for an uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful 39 minutes and 40 seconds.

Now if Dom can pull a few strings for me and arrange for cool temps and low winds I feel like we really have a great shot at this thing. 

Thank you in advance Dom!  I know you’ll be there for me at IBM, I’m sure you wouldn’t miss it for the world.