Saturday, March 13, 2010

40 MPH Winds, Pouring Rain, and an 8-K race, all in the middle of a 20 mile training run

My Wisconsin Marathon training schedule had me scheduled for 20 miles today.  My training schedule has me run 6-8 miles a day 4 of the 5 weekdays, a long run on Saturday, and a recovery run (usually 6 miles) on Sunday.  My 3.5 year old daughter Mikayla has a gymnastics class every Sunday morning at 10:30 AM at Chelsea Piers, so I don't have enough time to do my long runs before it, so this forces me to do my long runs on Saturday (I love going to all of Mikayla's classes and refuse to miss them for running).  When I trained for my first marathon (NYC 11/2009), I had the luxury of being able to alternate my long runs between Saturday and Sunday to compensate for bad weather or other scheduling conflicts (any marathon runner will tell you how this flexibility makes an already tough marathon training schedule more bearable).

Over the last few days, the weather forecast for today was poor.  1-2 inches of rain, 35 degrees, and 40+ MPH winds were in the forecast.  I run my schedule rain or shine, no matter what.  About a month ago, I signed up for the NYC 8000, an 8-K race (4.98 miles), without knowing what my long run schedule would look like today.  I needed to be home by 10 AM, so this meant that I had to awake at 5:15 A.M. on a Saturday in order to get to Central Park to start running at 6:15 A.M.  It took me a little longer to get ready as I needed to put my race number on my racing jacket prior to leaving the apartment (something I can't do the night before because of the zipper on my jacket.

The race was scheduled to start at 8 AM on the east side at about 100th street.  My goal was to run until about 7:55 AM, get in the corral for the 8-k race, cross the finish line, and then run the remaining miles to get to 20.  As any regular marathon runner in Central Park will tell you, the key is to calculate a path that will get you as close to your mileage goal as possible without having to run extra, ending at the same place as you started (which presumably is as close to your aparatment as possible).  Last night, I put my plan together assuming that I would start running at 6 AM.  I hit snooze an extra time this morning, so I didn't get to the park until 6:15 AM.  A 15 minute late start meant that I had to figure out my path as I ran.  I decided to do a 5 loop first (no great hill), then the middle loop (which would have been 4 miles), but then I would have been about 2.3 miles away from the start line and I wasn't sure that I would make it there by 7:55 AM.  Therefore, I ran the 5 mile loop first, then back up the west side, across the 102nd street transverse, then south on the east drive.  I ran to 70th street, then back to 102nd, and then back and forth between 102 and 98th streets until I hit 11 miles at about 7:55am.  Perfect, 11 down (8:39 pace), 9 to go.  I got into the corral and ran into my friend BGR, who I learned later ran a great race at a 7:16 pace (a PR for him).  Great job BGR!!

My gameplan for the 8-K race was to take it easy (8:30 - 9:00 pace), just get in the miles, get the race credit, don't race it.  I knew that I would still have 4 more miles after the race.   I felt ok at the start of the race, not great.  It was extremely wind (easily over 40 MPH winds and it was absolutely pouring the entire race).  It was so windy that I almost lost my hat once to the wind.  Other racers were actually yelling when the wind gusts happened.  Runners are usually a tough and very quiet creature, so hearing people outwardly react told me how bad the conditions were.  I went out very easy with a 8:47 first mile, felt good.  I really enjoyed watching the race around me.  My second mile was a 7:45 split, still felt good but was working a little harder and had to remind myself that getting the 20 in was more important than running a fast race (a couple of months ago, I ran a PR at 7:11 per mile for a 4 mile race and am looking forward to breaking 6:59 per mile in the future, but today wasn't the day to do it).  Mile 3 was an 8:14 split, felt comfortable.  Mile 4 was an 8:20 split, was definitely slowed by the strong winds but also wasn't pushing.  I was almost done.  I ran by a bunch of the 6 AM Flyers and they cheered me on, which motivated me to push during the last mile, when I ran a 7:22 split (also into a strong headwind).  Overall, ran an 8:06 pace, felt great, definitely had more in me, and was ready to run 4 more.    I stopped for a minute to eat a Powergel and drink some water and I was on my way for my remaining 4 miles.  I felt good.  I ran across the 102nd street transverse, south on the west drive and ran the lower loop to end exactly at my starting point (by the place formerly known as Tavern on the Green).  My last 4 miles were run at a clip of 8:46 per mile.  Mile 20 was tough, but I was extremely proud to have gotten my 20 miles in on such a crappy day, at the same time getting a race credit towards my 9 qualifying races to get me automatic entry into the 2011 NYC Marathon.

Overall, ran 20 miles at 8:34 pace.

Summary of all of my Wisconsin Marathon training Long Runs - very interesting to me

My goal during my long runs is to be comfortable, which to me means not running too fast but also not too slow.  When I run, I set my watch display to show me only what my current mile pace is.  I never know what my overall long run pace is until after I am done.   I try not to look at my watch too much in order to make sure that I run how I feel (and today I had saran wrap around my watch to protect it from the rain so I didn't know what my pace was at all until after my 20 miles).  After today's long run, I looked back at my other long run training times (see below).  Based on these stats, it is clear to me that my comfortable long run pace is about 8:34 per mile. 

Today - 20 miles at 8:34 pace

Last week - 15 miles at 8:15 pace

2/22/10 - 20 miles at 8:35 pace

2/15/10 - 15 miles at 8:34 pace

2/8/10 - 18 miles at 8:34 pace

2/1/10 - 15.4 miles at 8:34 pace

1/25/10 - 15.5 at 8:35 pace

1/18/10 - 15.4 at 8:31 pace

The fastest 20 mile pace that I ran during my 2009 NYC Marathon Training was 8:54 per mile, and most of my long runs were between 9:00 and 9:39 pace (and those training runs felt harder than my current runs today).  Many of my running friends have told me that it takes a few years to get your body in long distance running shape, and I feel like I am improving, which is exciting to me.

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