Fitness Update: (Modified) Half Marathon

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Well, This past week I ran my second half marathon, sort of, but sort of didn’t.

The Kansas City Corporate Challenge half marathon was scheduled for this past Saturday. The route started at the Southcreek Business Park and after a loop around there ran down through the Overland Park Community Park and the Tomahawk Valley Trail.

But rain Saturday night had either washed out, or flooded, parts of the trails at the further end, so they had to modify the course. We ended up with two loops around the business park and a “short” run down the trail and back, for a total length of 9.8 miles.

Now, the Saturday before, I had run a long run of 7.5 miles, but between that long run and the Half Marathon, I didn’t do any running. I swam once, did a lot of biking, but mostly I slept in each morning. The week before the race I was suddenly very tired, and opted to rest over train.

Which turned out to be the right option.

It rained the night before the race, but was dry and overcast the morning  before the race started. The humidity was above 90% and the temperature was about 60 degrees. The 700-some of us lined up into sections based on our expected running paces. And then we were off.

This was the first race this year that I ran without having run some of the course to check the terrain and know what to expect. So the first loop around the business park seemed a little long. It was also a question about setting a pace, and being comfortable with it.

The pavement on the upside of the loop felt better to me than the downside, but I enjoyed going downhill more than uphill. Except that we did get some breeze, and it ended up being a headwind while going downhill. That is one of the things I like the least while riding a bicycle, and I found I don’t really like running into a headwind either, whether uphill or down.

On the second loop around I heard someone behind me talking to the person next to her about her fitness device, and how it was telling her we were at about a 9 minute mile pace. I asked back, did you say a 9 minute mile? When she assented, I said, “Good, that mean’s I’m not running too fast.”

Because the 9-minute mile was the pace I had wanted to set.

Which bring me to an aside. Many times during the first two loops of the race I was being passed by people, and I could hear them breathing hard as they did so. I was always able to talk to them, say hello, good job, go for it, etc., but many of them didn’t have enough breath to reply. As long as I was running at a pace where I could talk, I knew I wasn’t overpacing myself. Many of those people I subsequently passed later on down the trail.

After the second loop, we took a left turn onto the trail section of the route, and started heading both into headwinds, and a scattering of sprinkles that continued to get more misty and persistent as the rest of the race went on.

Running the 2+ miles down the trail to the turnaround, I kept expecting to get to the turnaround sooner than I did. At first it was only a few people coming back and me, but as the numbers thickened, I kept on feeling like I  had to be close. When a pack of people from my company came back by me, I found myself encouraged, just as I did when my friend Paul Mast ran by and we gave each other a high five slap on the exchange.

Then finally the turn was made and I was on the way back. This was the stretch where my passing of people became a slow but consistent reality (along with a few passing me still).

It was also where the heat from my own brow, and the moisture from the air and rain around me, started fogging up my glasses enough so my visibility actually began to decrease. Occasionally I would look over the glasses to verify what I was seeing. But mostly they kept the rain out of my eyes.

There were a lot of long stretches on the way back. Here’s the last turn back toward the business park — but, oh yes, I forgot about this long run back up to the turn-off. And then when we got back to the loop it was several stretches and turns before they actually brought us back into the final stretch where we could actually see the finish line.

I had been running right behind one guy most of the way back up to the pack and around those turns, but as we got to to the penultimate turn I started stretching out and putting on my last speed. As I passed him, I expected him to put on his own burn of speed, and still stay ahead of me. But he didn’t. Instead I found myself passing about 5 more people in my final sprint to the finish line — always running through the objective before slowing down.

I saw that the clock was somewhere before 1:27. When I checked the stats my time was: 1:26:22.5 with an overall place of 371 and a Gender Place of 287. I probably won’t know until later today how I actually placed within my division of the Corporate Challenge.

Many of the other people from my company talked about how they just weren’t ready to do a half marathon on Saturday, and glad it was shorter. For me, I came in with trepidation, but between the rest, and the weather, I felt like I could have kept my pace up for the full distance — but was just as glad that I didn’t have to.

Fitness Update: between half-marathons

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Last week was the week before the week of the Kansas City Corporate Challenge half marathon. It is the second half-marathon I am doing, four weeks after the first.

I have been trying to get guidance on how to stay in condition from hone half-marathon to the other. The basic guidance I have received is to keep my regular mid-week runs (currently two 4.5 mile runs), and do a long run on the weekends, but not up to the full 10 or 11 I should have right before the first half marathon. Keep working on the cardio to keep it up, and I should be fine.

So this weekend I ran 7.5 miles for my long run, and ran two shorter runs earlier in the week, along with biking and swimming. For one of my short runs I actually ran a 4-mile route to the NKC YMCA, swam 1,000 yards and then ran 2 more miles home.

On that short run I got my average speed down to 6 mph. On my long run I was at 6.06 mph. My first half marathon pace was 6.41, which was slightly slower than i wanted for my intended goal to finish in 2-hours.

On my first half marathon I had a basic goal to finish, and a time goal to aim towards. I seem to be keeping my endurance up, but not necessarily the pace, in the interim, so I may just be focused on finishing this second one. I am sure the adrenaline will help me get some extra speed, but I am not sure whether I want to get to much extra speed from it, and burn out too soon.

To put up some stats:

  • Total miles run in 2017: 237.8
  • Total miles biked in 2017: 1,314.76
  • Total yards swum: 10,000

From the half marathon I will need to keep a more general condition for the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon, which is in June on Father’s Day. And after that a lot of vacation travelling breaking up the schedule. Trying to decide how I track and keep fit on the three categories while traveling. We will see what I do. But that is conjecturing about something quite a ways ahead. I’ll let the subconscious brew thoughts on that before I decide.

Fitness Update: Corporate Challenge 5K

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Last week reached its fitness culmination on Saturday morning at the Kansas City Corporate Challenge 5K.

After completing the Progress Series of races, which included the Cupid 5K in Febrary with a time of just over 24 minutes, I went into the 5K with the intention of finishing in 24 minutes, yet feeling that I had reached a sense of plateau right before the Northland half marathon and was in a slight decline in my performance, with a gentle up and down wave.

The morning itself was a beautiful, clear morning, around 53 degrees. The race was started in 4 waves. In prior years I had used wave 2 for times of 25-28 minutes. This year I started at the back of wave 1 for 24 minutes and less runners.

Unlike the half marathon, where I had a very good feeling on the start, here I didn’t find a comfortable pace with confidence. I was running, feeling slightly slow, but also wondering if I shouldn’t be going faster for the pace I wanted. At the same time, my breathing was fine, yet I could sense the sort of cough congestion in my lungs that I haven’t managed to fully clear yet since the cold that made me take off work at the beginning of March.

But the route was familiar, and the pace finally settled into something good. I made it past the mile marker, and then the gentle climb began. About halfway up the grade I caught up to one of my teammates, and asked her if she knew what sort of pace we were doing. 8-30s she said. Since I was planning on a pace of 8, I knew I was slow. I made sure to not slow down, but didn’t feel the momentum to actually increase the pace.

The course goes down hill at the turn, and then back up, with the water station right after the turn. I grabbed water, drank half, and tossed the rest into the garbage back being held by one of the volunteers.

After getting to the top of the hill, and starting the descent, I felt like I was picking up pace, ever so slowly. At least I was in a passing people mode more than being passed.  By mile two it was starting to flatten out, and came to the long flat stretch at the end. You know the finish line is up ahead, but you keep running and running and don’t see it. Street signs go by, but no finish line. And then suddenly it is there.

I had been putting on small increases in speed along this stretch, while trying not to overextend and burn out before the end. But when I saw the finish line I put on my final burn pace, which is never much, but extends stride and passes a few people. I could see the clock somewhere in the 25-minute, but someone was in the way for seeing the seconds. So I kept pushing, until I crossed the finish line right after it flipped to 26 minutes.

So I assumed I had at least made 26 minutes, since it had taken me a few seconds to get across the starting line from the back of wave 1. It took until late Saturday afternoon to find the unofficial numbers on the chip providers website (stats  for the KCCC won’t be up until probably Monday sometime). Those stats were:

Overall Place: 722
Gender Place: 590
Time: 25:13.7

So, while I didn’t make the 24 I wanted, I did better than the 26 and change I did last year. And when I checked my personal running log, my pace for Saturday’s 5K was the fastest running pace I have done since the Cupid 5K in February, which was my fastest pace. So, didn’t make goal, but satisfied with improvements. Now hopefully to be satisfied with my rankings for the KCCC.

In other activities, I did get to swim last week, and I hit my May mileage goal for bicycling on Sunday. So I am a few weeks ahead on biking mileage.  Since I have a summer trip where I probably won’t be doing any bicycling, I’ll need to be ahead if I intend to keep my goal for the year.

A Look Ahead …

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This past weekend, along with the next two weekends, is the BBQ and Brew Festival at Worlds of Fun. So I’ve chosen a look back, at last year’s festival, as a way to look forward to this year’s.

This coming Saturday, like when I posted about last year’s festival, is also the Kansas City Corporate Challenge 5K race. Located at the same place, same time.

So this weekend is going to be an interesting and busy one.

Enjoy the blog, and video, from last year.

Fitness Update: Progress Series Recap

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Last week was somewhat of a respite from fitness goals. After the final race of the Progress Series, weather and buildup called for a more relaxed approach.

So this week’s fitness post will look at the Progress Series, and do a bit of retrospective on the series as a whole.

The series garnered me 5 new T-shirts for my already full drawer of logo’d shirts. But these would by my first race themed shirts.

PR Mile

Held on a very flat route in Parkville, the Personal Record Mile got delayed one week due to icy weather. The weather was cool but bearable that morning. And the breaking of the race into heats was a helpful mechanism. I remember picking up my packet and changing my seed time to put myself into the second heat, since the original time seemed way too fast to my practice times on the treadmill at the Wellness Center at work. Yet when I got to running the mile, I found myself moving toward the front of my heat, and ultimately beating my original seed time with 6:51 — but I was still glad to be toward the front of the second heat, rather than trailing at the back of the first heat.

The PR mile was also the place where I first met Jason Thomas. I hadn’t observed him during the heat, but he had observed me, and commented when we were at the table waiting to pick up our time stats.

Cupid 5K

The 5K also took place on a very flat course — along the streets of North Kansas City. Here I ran into Jason again, and also talked to some other runners to get their feel of the race. It was a good course, and I found runners along the race to help me pace myself, each of which I eventually left as I pulled ahead. But I didn’t realize until after the end of the race that I had started too far back in the pack of starting runners. I needed to learn how to place myself in the right group of runners.

Sham Rock and Run 10K

The 10K had a more rolling course, but still nothing extreme. It actually had the most elevation changes of all the races within the Series. It also had the coldest race temperature. But the air was calm and the day sunny, which made the race temperature very good for running. The 10K was basically a 5K track twice. I’m sort of mixed on how I felt about that. It would have been nice to not have to loop around. But at least it wasn’t more than twice. This event was also the one where I actually came in first for my age bracket. I think that 10Ks aren’t as popular a distance. People tend to run shorter or longer. But it was a neat perk to me to actually take a first somewhere. But I still didn’t start far enough forward in the beginning starting pack.

Northland Half

The buildup of my training for the half really peaked about 2 weeks prior to the race itself. But it worked well enough to put in a good time.  This time I ended up being close enough to the front of the pack when the race started, and actually started pacing myself with someone who was running a little too fast for me (a 5K pacer not a half pacer).

This was also the fourth race where I saw Jason, and this time I was the one who started out ahead and then he caught up to me and we paced each other until he ended ahead of me. This time having him to help pace me was one of the things that kept me in the race and going as well as I did for so long.

Overview

I really enjoyed this series. It gave me something to look forward to, and to work forward on. I wasn’t into races before, and not really sure how much I am into races at the moment. I think I am more into them than I was before, but not sure I will find enough time to do any without some overarching structure to encourage me.

I have two more races coming up, both for the Kansas City Corporate Challenge. Without that framework I probably wouldn’t be doing additional races. The four races of the series gave me something structured to commit to, and practice for.

I would definitely recommend trying the series if you haven’t committed to a racing program previously. But despite enjoying it, I am not certain if I would commit to the series again. Will it be good to practice through the series again, trying to improve, or will it be a let-down? I haven’t decided on that yet.

 

UPDATE to UPDATE:

This morning I got an e-mail from the Running Well Store, where it gave Progress Series Stats. Of those who did all four races, I was in 12th place overall, with my friend Jason Thomas in 13th place overall. Both of us were first for our age categories, and 7th and 8th place respectively in our gender. My total time was 3:26.53 and Jason’s was 3:28:53. My total pace was 50:23 and his was 50:52. I was competing in a pool of 13 runners in my age group, while Jason was competing in a pool of 9. So coming in first, overall, across four races, makes me feel even better.

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Fitness Update: Northland Half and 5K

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Sunday was the final race of the Northland Progress Series sponsored by The Running Well Store. Perhaps next week I will do a post on the series as a whole, if something else doesn’t come up of more topical interest. Today, however, I am going to concentrate on this week, and specifically the half marathon.

Last week I mentioned my overdoing it attempt to run the half solo, the dehydration, etc. So this week I ran two 4.5 prep routes, but nothing longer, before the half marathon on Sunday. I also swam 2,000 yards, skipping my Friday swim to sleep in. I was highly sleep deprived this week by Friday, but managed to get a lot of sleep on Friday and Saturday nights, hoping to be recharged for the half marathon.

But I don’t think I was quite up to the quality I was two weeks ago when I did the 12-mile run.

Because of family car arrangements, I rode my bike the 7 miles to the race course. There I met several people I had seen before and come to know. The person I knew the longest was Paul Mast, who was running the 5K, not the half, because he had just done a 10K on Saturday. We discussed our expected times: his was around 22 minutes, mine 2 hours.

I also saw the “young man” (lower 40s) I had been seeing each of the other races, Jason Thomas, and actually got to meet his wife and daughter before the race. In each of the previous three races I had managed to finish and stay ahead of him.

I was also looking for Deidre Eilts, who would be singing Sunday afternoon with me in the Songflower Chorale concert that was my Sunday afternoon gig, but didn’t manage to spot her.

This time, I started near the front of the pack, and managed to end up running with some of the 5K people. I struck up a conversation with one guy, and about a mile in found I was at a 8 minute pace, instead of my intended 9. So when he took the turn back, I tried to alter my tempo toward what I thought was 9. But I wasn’t feeling overextended, it felt right. (I’ll have to remember that tempo for the Corporate Challenge 5K on May 6).

When I reached the 2 mile marker I saw the lead person looping back and hitting the 3 mile marker — so about 50% faster than me.

There were “plenty” of water stations, and I was well-hydrated, so I didn’t have issues with that. I didn’t feel the multiple times to walk, but as I got onto the gravel levee at mile 5 I did sense a change of my pace.

Up to this point, and through most of the rest of the race, I was getting passed periodically, and passing very few people. So the tempo and dynamic of this race was different than the other three races.

I made it to the end of the levee, and did the turn around the circle and started back. That was about 8.5 miles, and around 9 miles I found Jason Thomas coming up alongside me. He was apparently close behind me at the turn, and finally got up to there. The two of us used each other as pacers from mile 9 until mile 12. I had enough energy for spurts; I walked at the water stops and got going again, syncing with him, while he didn’t stop, not thinking he could start again if he stopped walking.

We kept a good pace, and I hope encouraged each other; I know he kept me going. I finally wasn’t able to catch back up to him after the water station at mile 12. I kept behind him, and the distance separated slightly until about mile 12.5 when I started walking until the tingle and dizzy went away, then ran the last quarter mile.

It is possible I wimped out, but though I didn’t make my 2 hours, I was satisfied with my gun time of 2:02:43.30 and chip time of 2:02:38.98 That was an overall rank of 79, age rank of 5 and sex rank of 40.

If I had made my 2 hours, and nothing else had changed, I would have been rank 70, still age rank 5 and sex rank 36. To change my age rank I would have had to carve off 6 minutes; so from the stats perspective it didn’t make a real difference.

So, while I finished before Jason on the first three races, he finished before me on the half marathon, with a time of 2:00:05.50 — just five seconds over 2 hours, and right at the pace he was planning. He placed 69th overall and 4th in age group.

I feel fortunate to have struck up that friendship; won’t know when/if we will cross paths again, but it was a blessing for me, and I hope for him.

I didn’t see Deidre on the course, but she apparently saw me. She ran a good race, and was third in her age category.

But both of us were feeling it at the concert, though the music gave us our second adrenaline rush of the day, and we had an excellent performance, that I might write about somewhere else.

I did take 15-20 minutes to recover with the refreshments at the finish line before taking a quite leisurely bike ride back home. I had the endurance for the distance, but not the strength for the speed.

Summary: first half marathon was a success, but I want to train to a slightly better edge before the Corporate Challenge Half Marathon on May 20.

Fitness Update: Overdoing It

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This week I want to address the question of overdoing it? How does one know if one is overdoing it? And what does it mean to overdo it?

This week I swam 2000 yards, ran 17 miles and biked 120 miles, so it isn’t the total amounts of things I am talking about, but specific events.

The event I was thinking about was 13 of the 17 miles ran.  I was doing a test run of the route for the upcoming half marathon on April 23. It was morning, warmer than I’d been practicing, a very stiff wind, and I was apparently less over-hydrated than normal.

About halfway through the run I started feeling dry in the mouth. Well, not really dry, but so my mouth was sticking to itself and could seal my lips shut. I don’t normally need to drink on my long runs, I’m usually so hydrated, so this was an obvious sign that something was different.

I’d been waiting to find my second breath, but it never came, and when I found myself, about 9 miles in, almost starting to walk for the third time in the run, I finally gave in and started walking.

Of course, this happened when I was on a point the furthest out from the end of the route, where I had left my water bottle and bicycle. So I had to walk all the way to the end.

I had enough energy to make a leisurely ride back home. But later that afternoon I ended up with sudden diarrhea that lasted throughout the afternoon. Since I didn’t have any other symptoms besides tiredness, I am assuming it was a stress-induced incident, from overdoing, and probably not being hydrated.

That shouldn’t be a problem during the race coming up, since they should have some hydration stations, and I will also be more hydrated to begin with.

So, obviously, I could have run more, but the run that I did created a stressed situation. So was it overdoing it, or not? How do we define it?