Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Jingle Bell 10k- Crash and Burn

A couple weeks ago was suppose to be my mid-OutSeason Run Test.  I knew I'd run faster in a race than on my own, so I decided to use the Jingle Bell 10k for the test.  Well, in honor of finals week leading up to the race, I will grade this test a big, fat F.

No, the lead up to the day wasn't great.  Stress, bad/little sleep, bad eating, bad workouts.  But I still was optimistic I could see a minor V-dot bump.  I woke up at 6:30, showered (silly to do before a race, but I hadn't yesterday...), ate oatmeal with brown sugar, drank a cup of coffee, and left by 7:40.  I got to the race around 8:20, picked up my packet, checked my bag, and headed out for a warmup.  Warming up before races is still a new concept for me, but I knew that if I wanted to go out at a hard pace, I needed to get my legs going.  I ran at an easy pace for 10 minutes, and my legs felt good.  I was a little disappointed that my easy pace was slower than 9 minute miles, but that is what a warmup is suppose to be, right?  I ended up getting a longer warmup than that when I was running to the water fountain to take a pre-race gu and visit the porta-potties away from the start.  I got to the corral with just a couple minutes to spare. 

The first mistake lied in the fact that I had looked at last year's results and seen that I should be able to place.  I missed the memo that last year had some treacherous weather, and probably slowed everyone down.  Even without that, it is always silly to assume the same people will show up as they did in the past.  Based on this, I lined up with the first few rows, and went out FAST!  The first time I looked at my watch it was showing a 6:45 pace.  Umm...  I slowed slightly, as there was no way I could maintain that.  When I was a half-mile in, I was already hurting.  Heart and lung kind of hurting.  How will I do this sort of hurting.  It would have been the smart thing to drastically slow down, but I didn't enough, or the damage had already been done.  My first mile clocked in at 7:10.

By mile two, I was seriously thinking about quitting.  I could just walk back to the start...  I told myself I could slow a bit, and I did.  That was just the start of continuously slowing down.  I thought of quitting so many times, but told myself I can run a 10k, even if it isn't the pace I wanted.  The silly thing is that I just sort of flipped a switch.  If I wasn't running at a sub-7:30 pace, I was barely running.  I should have instead adjusted my goal and still gotten in a good threshold workout.  Throughout the race I kept telling myself that at said mile, I would up the pace.  That never happened.  I finished in a disappointing 50:06.

Overall, my performance was very disappointing.  It wasn't a race, and really didn't show what I was capable of.  It did expose a couple things.  Pacing is key.  Going out too hard can sabotage you.  Mental toughness is also key.  Mine didn't show up today.  My main realization is that the 5k/10k distance is really tough for me.  I am more of an endurance girl, so I'm not sure how much this bothers me, but it is still a distance that highlights my mental weakness and I'd like to fix that.  In terms of testing my fitness, it is also a much easier distance to recover from, so much more feasible to do that on a regular basis than a 10 miler or half-marathon which can put a dent in your training while you recover.  All-in-all, I don't know what the result would have been had I paced better.  Or stayed strong.  Maybe I would've had a good race, maybe my legs just wouldn't have shown up.  Win some, lose some. 

Another lesson was how important it is to value a race and have a clear plan and expectations.  For instance, I targetted the Indy Half-Marathon.  I had a good goal for what I was capable of based on my training.  I made a plan for how to pace it.  And it worked.  I exceeded by goal.  Here, and at other races where I show up, hoping to hit some speedy pace but not having the training results to back it up, and just winging it.  I always come up short, and when I'm not doing how well my dream-self thought I might, I bail out mentally.  That was the case in New Orleans last February, at the Women's Half that I DNF'd, and it was true at this 10k. 

Looking ahead, my next race is the F3 Winter Half Marathon.  As of now, I am not planning on "racing" it.  I will do it for a fun 13 mile run.  I don't think I have the run training to do well, and I don't want to lose the training time before or after with tapering or recovering.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Outseason Half Way Reflection

When I was in PT school we were often told "You don't learn from the experience.  You learn from reflecting on the experience."  I really hated that saying, as it seemed we were forced to reflect on everything, but now that I am passed the forced reflection, I do find it valuable.  So I am wrapping up weak 7 of 14 of this year's OutSeason program (Endurance Nation's kick your butt into shape, focus on intensity), and with run and bike tests on the horizon, I figure it is a good time to reflect on how it has been going.

I started the OS in week 3, as I had done the Indianapolis Half Marathon in week 1 and taken week 2 as coach-mandated recovery.  I started with good enthusiasm- new run zones set by the half-marathon, and a starting FTP from a prior test I was happy with.  The beginning of the week went well, hitting my zones and feeling good.  Then I went out of town on Friday for a conference which through a wrench in the plan, and got me discouraged that I was already off track.

Week 4 started with the continuation of being away for the conference.  I got in a couple good runs, but was feeling behind.  I got in all three bike rides this week, but missed the long run.  Since I'm doing a January Volume Camp, biking is a priority so I can survive!

Week 5 was Thanksgiving week, where again my plans fell apart.  Some is my own fault of not getting workouts done while traveling, some was not possible to predict due to family schedules.  I was proud of my Sunday workout when I got back.  I warmed up on the bike for an hour with some Z3 work to get some more bike time in, and then had a great 10 miler with 4 miles done at a good pace. 

Week 6 was plagued by a lot of stress at work with preparing for my first final exams in the teaching role rather than student role (it isn't much better on this side of things).  This was coupled by a bum knee (and hip?).  I went out for a run on Tuesday, and my whole left leg killed, but mostly my hip.  It felt very similar to the hip pain I had on my right side last spring/summer, so I was very nervous about heading down that long road of injury again.  Thankfully the hip pain was short lived, but I spent the rest of the week with knee pain.  And not just the "hurts when I run" pain but hurts when I walk, go up and down stairs, have any added weight I'm carrying (backpack- ahh!).  I think it was a round of colitis arthritis, as I was having some very minor GI issues as well.  So I had the excuses of working non-stop and pain, but I will admit to just calling it quits.  I was able to get on the bike Saturday (FTP workout) and Sunday (VO2 workout), and with no pain! 

I went into week 7 knowing it was the last week before testing, and wanting to do it right.  Unfortunately finals week brought me some long days that tried to derail me, but more than causing missed workouts, just exhausted me.  I got home late Tuesday, and definitely didn't have time to both bike and run.  I decided to go out for a short run at least, and surprised myself with a lovely 5 mile run.  On Wednesday I learned that while 15 minute FTP intervals may have felt manageable last week, 18 minute intervals are killer.  I came home exhausted yesterday (Thursday) and the same holds true today.  I took today off because of 1) so. freakin. tired; and 2) race tomorrow for run test- need rested legs! 

A few things I've noted on workouts:
1) Apart from this weeks 2x18' FTP intervals, I've been finding the FTP bike workouts quite manageable, but feeling like I was going to fall off the bike and die on the VO2 work.  This seems to be opposite of what I remember in past years.  A minute and a half has never seemed so long in my life.
2) I doubt my ability to hit run paces, but can rise to the occasion when I don't let myself off the hook.  Even if a run feels cruddy at the start, some fast paces can make it actually feel better!
3) I have difficulty locking into a pace on runs.  I have slow (normal) and then fast.  I have tended to overachieve on most running intervals just due to being a horrible pacer, even with a Garmin!
4) I am starting to use heart rate and amazed/scared at how high mine is during workouts.  I think where it is during tough intervals is to be expected, but it seems higher than I would've thought for warm-ups and easy runs as well.  I've been good at biking with the HR monitor, but still haven't found a super comfortable way to wear it while running.
5) I tend to really enjoy the challenge of these workouts once I am doing them.  Getting myself to start them is the bigger issue.  

Apart from specific training observations above, I am reaching this half-way mark somewhat disappointed.  This was the start to my season and I wanted to start this "big dreams" season off well.  Looking at TrainingPeaks and writing this up shows a lot of holes.  I am disappointed both because I feel like I've missed out of the benefits of these training sessions, and because I am disappointed in myself for not having better habits to get workouts in.  Two doses of travel definitely through me off, but that is real life and I need to learn to adapt.  Same with being busy at work, as that will just become a bigger problem as workouts get longer.  Eating also needs to be cleaned up.

The good news is that this is early- just half-way through the first training block of the year.  There is time to improve my habits and myself.  The two things I really need to focus on outside of training is sleep (6 hours is my norm and not good!) and eating.  Within training, I need to hold myself accountable and trust that I am capable.  I need to stop telling myself I can tone down the intensity without trying the prescribed zones first, but remind myself that a workout at a lower intensity is better than none at all.

Tomorrow is the Jingle Bell 10k.  I'll admit I chose this race looking at last years results and realizing I can be competitive.  I am nervous because, well, 10k's hurt, and I am unsure how it will go.  I truly have no idea if I can expect a gain since Indy, or if I've lost run fitness (don't think this is the case).  My goal, rather than time goal, is to really push hard, and be ok with being uncomfortable.

Next Tuesday will see a bike test, which I am dreading, and the start of the second half of the outseason plan.  I am resolved to do better, and have the good motivation of getting myself in shape for the January camp.  I will be doing an additional bike ride each week and extending time on the others to get ready for more volume at camp.  I also need to get myself in gear for some 90 minute swim sessions at camp, so next week (or this weekend) will see a return to the pool.  Lots to do, but so much to gain!