Monday, March 18, 2013

Run of the Irish

Fun Fact #1: Adidas' North American headquarters are located in Portland.

Fun Fact #2: Adidas is the major sponsor of the Shamrock Run, which is the largest running event in they city. (Yes, I'm just as shocked as you that it's not the Portland Marathon.)

Fun Fact #3: I ran the Shamrock 15K (there's also an 8K and a 5K).

The race started at 7:30, but because I'm a nut, I set my alarm for 5:15. Of course, I hit snooze a few times, and it dawned on me around 5:45 that I had to get up for this race. Despite my idiot move error, I still had time to eat my pre-race millet porridge and do my dynamic warmup.   

I arrived around 7:15, and my first thought was, "I paid money to give up sleeping in on a Sunday? #runnerprobs". It was freezing around the start (about 41, felt like 36), and the first time since last year's Shamrock Run that I opted to race in tights.
I saw my friend Jeff enter the starting corral, and chatted with him before the start. After the US and Irish national anthems (yes, they played the Irish national anthem), the race started. I had planned on shooting for an average pace of 6:40-6:45. Due to bottlenecking, etc., I hit the first mile at 6:53 (which I expected - the first mile is usually slower than goal). By mile 2, I felt a little more warmed up, and I ran that one was 6:40. Mile 3 brought this gradual uphill through downtown. I knew it was coming, but it still slowed me down (mile 3 = 6:52). At that point, I might've let my nerves/slightly stiff legs/slower pace get the best of me, because my mile 4 split was 7:28 (and the big hill didn't even come until the mile 4 marker). 

Miles 4-6 brought the Terwilliger hill, which I knew was going to be a bitch. 

During the 5th mile:
Jeff: *passes me on my right*
Me (upon seeing this): (to myself: Aw, hell no!) *surge ahead*
Him: I saw that.
Me: Don't think I didn't see you pass me.

He passed me again, then I passed him again, and we were neck-and-neck until the top of the hill, at which point I used that downhill to my advantage. From there on, I told myself that I just needed to beat my official 15K PR (1:04:54; my 15K split from the Chicago Marathon). After mile 7, I told myself, "Only 16 minutes," and after mile 8, "Only 10 minutes." That last mantra also made the nauseating bacon scent easier to deal with. (I kid you not, some guy dressed as the devil was handing out strips of bacon.) Eventually, I saw the finish line and went for it.
My hands were so cold/numb when I crossed the finish line that it took me a few seconds to stop my Garmin (#raynaudsprobs). Got my chip clipped off (yes, despite being such a large race, they still use plastic shoe chips), got my finisher medal, and turned around to see Jeff cross the finish line.
I had the time from my Garmin, but I still wanted the official results because that's what counts. After waiting roughly 6 hours, the official results were posted: 1:04:03 (6:53 min/mi). Overall, I gave it what I had, and this was an 8+ minute improvement over last year, which I'm quite happy about. Furthermore, it was a 53 second improvement from the first 15K of the Chicago Marathon (which was much flatter). Still, I feel a bit disappointed. Disappointed that I let my nerves take over during miles 3-5. Disappointed because based on the numbers, my splits from those miles are what killed me. But the more I think about it, I realize that these are just lessons for future races, and goals for future 15Ks.

Monday, March 11, 2013

If You Can Dream It...

Recently, I told one of my PFR teammates about the Kaiser Half (aka, Operation 1:30), and he asked me about the sub-3:00 marathon. Running sub-3 is on my bucket list, but I've thought of it as a secondary goal to the elusive BQ. (It seems less scary/more feasible if I make 3:05 my "A" goal, and make 3:00 my "A" goal for a future race.) After Operation 1:30, I started wondering if 2013 could be my year to do it. Still, I erred on the side of conservatism and figured I should stick to my original plan.

Fast forward to this morning. It’s the end of the term, and to top it off, I have thesis deadlines looming. To say that I’m stressed is a bit of an understatement. (On a scale of 1-10, I’m currently ranging anywhere from 9-15, and have had about 7 "I'm losing it" moments in 24 hours. But that's another story.) Naturally, these were the main things on my mind when I set out for my 5M run this morning. After about 2 miles, I decided to ignore my Garmin and just run. (I’ve run the route dozens of times and know how long it is.) Somewhere along the Eastbank Esplanade, my thoughts drifted away from my thesis and to the sub-3 marathon. Which led me to wonder, “Would it be crazy if I tried to do that in Eugene?” 

I ended my entry on dailymile with “Am I crazy here for thinking about running a BQ-5 when I haven’t BQed yet?” A few hours later, my friend Erin commented with some very encouraging words and advice. Her advice: “If your fitness indicators point to that as a capability right now, man, don’t think twice...particularly if everything is right on race day.” 

For the analysis (because I'm a math nerd, and clearly, analyzing data for a thesis project wasn't enough), I decided to look up race time predictors, and make a prediction based on the Kaiser Half (that’s my most recent race). I’ve used McMillan’s before, but wanted something else to serve as a comparison, so I found the Runner’s World Race Times Predictor. Based on that race time, McMillan predicted a marathon time of 3:06:17, and Runner’s World predicted a time of 3:04:33.

Okay, so that points to about a 3:05. But based on a 10K time from September (on a fairly downhill course), it told me I'd run Chicago (which was 4 weeks later) in 3:18, which was 7 minutes slower than my actual time. 

Compared to previous marathons, my training has felt really good. I'm not sure what my sweet spot was before, but now, it seems to be around 40 miles/week (based on my last few weeks of 38-45 miles/week). So long story short, predictions look good, and it's possible to beat estimates.

And now onto the mental portion (because as I've learned, there's a big mental game involved with racing). Do I think it's possible? Yes. Does the thought of running sub-3 scare me shitless? You bet. But the thought of crossing that goal off of my life's to-do list is nothing short of exciting. And as Walt Disney once said, "If you can dream it, you can do it."

Erin also sent me this fine graphic from the SF Marathon's Pinterest board
Sidenote: She only had a vague idea of how freaked out I was/am when she sent this. We're obviously on the same wavelength.

As I type this, I'm recalling my conversation with Erin, where she expressed hesitation about her goal, and I basically said to just go for it. Maybe now's the time for me to eat my words and say, "Fuck it; I'm doing this shit."

What are your thoughts?