Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wrapping up March/Speedwork

After running long, slow, & on trails for the majority of my 2013 running, I've finally started moving my way back to the pavement & into some more speedwork during the month of March. I had a really great time exploring so many new trails and giving my body a break in preparation for the Way Too Cool 50k, but I'm feeling ready to go back to my roots... road races. And mayyyyybe shooting for a goal marathon later this fall. We'll see, though, as I'm kind of just dabbling with higher mileage and more speedwork again. I'll come up with some solid goals once I figure out where I want to be with my running. (Which I am kind of not in a rush to do at the moment.)

As strange as it sounds, I really learned to love running slow -- I figured this out during ultra training. Sure, "slow" is a relative term, but one of my favorite things about Way Too Cool training was the complete lack of speed work. I loved all of the casual paces -- both on trails and off -- and I'm kind of not sure how much speedwork I want to add back in quite yet. 

I know ultra training and all the elevation gains I covered probably did pretty well for my endurance. But my speed? -- Yeah, that's another story. What used to be a casual pace for me now feels like a hard sprint. On days when I'm actually trying to push the pace, this is discouraging. But on days where I'm not trying to run hard, I kind of couldn't care less about how fast I'm slogging along.

Sooo, figuring out my goals for the rest of the year will be interesting with my now-blase attitude regarding pace.

But for now! That speedwork I am trying to add back in. I am already finding that on my speedwork days, I'm not very good at pushing myself. So to hold myself accountable, I've added in the most-dreaded race distances: 5ks and 10ks.

Last weekend Cate and I ran the Walt Stack 10k in the Marina district of San Francisco. It's relatively flat except for the mother of all hills, Fort Mason, where I actually felt like I was having a heart attack at the top of the hill.

But the payoff? 6 solid miles of sub-7:45 pace & a fun day with a friend.

This morning I ran the Easter Roller Coaster 5k for the second time. The first time I ran it was back in 2011, and this was the fateful day where I met Alisyn and Tony the Endorphin Dude. 

As the name implies, the course goes up and down 2 large hills, turns around, and heads back on the same hills: Essentially 4 hills, 500 feet of of elevation, all in 3 miles. It doesn't look like it in graph form, but it's a bitch when you're trying to go fast. 

Last time I ran this race I stopped to walk the hill after the turnaround. With an 18.4% grade, even walking is a challenge. I managed a 4th place finish with 25:59. 

This year I went back -- the day after a long run, no less -- to push my tired legs with some more speed. I finished in 24:55, a personal course PR by more than a minute -- and a 5th place finish. I imagine the hill training I did in preparation for the ultra is serving me well, but clearly I've more work to do in the "going fast" department. 

I'll get there. Just not sure when...

And a promise is a promise: I met a nice runner from the UK who kindly introduced himself to me after the race. He shook my hand & said "he recognized me from the internet" -- kind of funny and not at all awkward. ;) Paul finished in a blazing fast 18 minutes, good for second male, I think.

Save travels back home, Paul, and thanks for introducing yourself at the race! I hope San Francisco treated you well.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Race Report: Way Too Cool 50k

First things first: The price increase for The San Francisco Marathon is tomorrow, Friday, 3/15/13. Use discount code DSC10AMBAY2013 (exp. 3/17) to save $10 on registration & see you there!

Second things second: This past weekend I finished a 50k ultramarathon.

I had a fun weekend with friends who also became ultramarathoners and/or who PR'd the crap out of their existing 50k times and/or gave up their entire day to cheer like crazy people at a kinda-far-away race. I ran smart (whatever that means), I ran strong (once my legs finally woke up at mile 17), and I finished quite a bit faster than I anticipated (6:12 instead of my estimated 6.5-7 hours).

I crossed the finish line with a huge feeling of accomplishment & with tears in my eyes when I was enveloped by so many friends -- friends who came up just for me! Amazing. 

But I also crossed that finish line with the feeling that this isn't something I need to do again -- at least not in the immediate future. I felt instant gratification from finishing, but I'm not feeling that urge to "better it" like I have with other distances.

The rest of my race report, I'll maybe save for another time. For now, some pictures can tell the story better than I have the desire to.
I wish all race photos happened within the first 30 feet. (From Cate)

So many paparazzi friends at Mile 8, I didn't know where to look!

(From Alisyn)

(From Jana)

(From Inside Trail)

Where's Waldo?
I am an ultramarathoner! (From Jana)

Hugs from Jana, Michaela, Jess, & Cate

Me with Jess & Aron (PR queens) and Kristen & Layla (new ultramarathoners)

Overall, the race was well organized and supported, and it's one I would recommend entering the lottery for if you want to run a trail ultra. I had a good race out there, and being supported by my friends was the best way to top off a great day.

Official time: 6:12:52
Average pace: 11:59 min/mile
Overall place: 504/853
Gender place: 164/342
AG place: 66/114