Sunday, February 21, 2016

Blacksburg Classic 10-Miler

Grandmasters winner Trish and Masters winner
(photo by Trish's running superstar daughter Mikayla)

Subtitle: Taking an unhappy stomach for a ten mile run

Yesterday was my 6th running of the Blacksburg Classic 10-Miler, put on by RunAbout Sports, an event with a 31-year history! It's always a tough early season race but a good barometer of fitness and fun time to reconnect with local running buds!

I'd been running pretty well and feeling fit for this time of year so I was ready. I woke up Saturday with a very noisy, sloshy, burpy, upset stomach, but with a 1 pm race start figured it would have time to settle. I popped an Imodium and wasn't too worried about it.

The early clouds of the day cleared to about the most perfect sunny warm winter day you could ask for, a dramatic improvement over the bitter cold temperatures of the prior Saturday, the day the race was originally scheduled.

I felt pretty relaxed at the start where my foot pod apparently helped itself to pairing with friends Jordan's and Heather's Garmins! At the sound of the airhorn we were off and I hit my first two miles on pace (just under 7:30) and at that point just went by effort. I appreciated and heard all the cheers and encouragement along the way; I am just not so good at responding during a race! I constantly reminded myself to stay relaxed and seek a state of flow - working hard but smooth without unconsciously braking or holding back.

The Huckleberry Trail is under construction and there was a sizable section of mud and gravel we passed through on the way out and back that I did not enjoy, but other than that the path was good with wet spots, but no ice aside from what lined the sides of the path in some of the shady sections.

At the turnaround at mile seven I could see a number of women behind me, including Trish and Marcia who are both strong runners. I'd taken a gel at mile 5 and my stomach was not happy but thankfully it was not much of a distraction. I knew I had to keep pressing forward or risk being passed. I went on the wrong side of the construction fence at the 460 underpass and had to backtrack, losing some time but not feeling particularly upset about it. Classic "racer brain" move - not thinking!!

In the last mile my calves began to cramp which is unusual for me. I saw I had enough of a lead that I could back off some and hold my position. The last little climb to the finish is tough but I kept my eyes on the runners ahead and just soldiered up behind them.

The final hill, heads-down, just get the job done.
photo by Kristen Chang


After passing through the finish I thought I might really get sick. I could hardly look at the post-race food. I ate two orange slices, drank some water, and my friend and swimming lane-mate Janet gave me crystallized ginger to help.

Janet :-)

Post-race I met fellow racer John (#1390) who said he worked hard the last few miles to keep up with me, and it was then that I realized how interconnected the "train" of runners becomes out there! We are focused on keeping up with the runners ahead, and those behind are focused on keeping up with us. I had never really thought about that unspoken force that keeps each of us going!

I finished in 1:16:56 - my slowest time by quite a bit - but I can say I gave it all I had (results).

Not long after the awards (1st Master's for the 5th time; I was 1st overall in 2010), I made my way home and and spent the rest of the day and night down-and-out coping with a GI system in total revolt. I'll spare the details but it was rough. Today I feel like I was run over by a herd of stampeding buffalo but I am at least functional, and it seems I got a great "ab workout!" Not much happened in the way of post-race refueling (maybe 600 calories total since the race), but I think I will live to train another day ;-)

My giant appetite sometimes drives me crazy but I will be glad to have at least some of it back.

Always an adventure, this racing stuff!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"Are you training for anything?"

I don't know about you, but during the winter I get asked on a pretty regular basis,

"Are you training for anything?"

My answer is, "always."

I'm always training for races whether they are in days or months, but I'm also just training for life, training for me. I'm training to know myself better, to improve my skills, to work out my mental game, and to get a respite from my computer work and the day-to-day of mom life.

February training for a lot of us is not very blog-worthy. It's not glamorous. It's just heads-down training but in its own way it's rewarding to just make it work despite things like snowstorms, short hours of daylight, and cold temperatures.

I've been on the treadmill and bike trainer quite a bit. Cold is not an issue, but each year I am less willing to take a chance on black ice nor do I want the distraction of the worry.

 Some of our recent weather

This morning I finished my fourth workout in a 21 hour span from Tuesday noon to Wednesday morning and felt pretty pleased with myself for that! Due to road conditions, I did not even attempt to get to Tuesday's 6:30 am swim group, and as I looked at my daily training schedule later that morning, and saw that it included the swim, a 45-minute run with strides, and the gym, I thought there was NO way. No way. This would be one of those very rare days something would be skipped. I was justified, right? With a big case of cabin fever I had no motivation for at-home strength training or at-home swim Erg.

So I did what I thought I could. I started with the treadmill. After my warmup I did my "strides" by alternating between 5 mph and 10 mph every 30 seconds. The upside was some great neuromuscular training as there was no way I could have convinced my legs to turn over that fast without the threat of a treadmill face-plant!

Then the roads became passable and I saw a small time window to get to the gym. I very quickly changed, headed out for what turned out to be a very satisfying workout, and got back in time to drive kid 1 to cello and kid 2 to Japanese. Yay!

I was 2 for 3!

I thought maybe I could still get a swim in, but lap swim didn't start till 8:15 at the community pool and that would be too late. But then the Aquatic Center director Lynne messaged to let me know due to a group cancellation lap swim would start at 6:30 pm. It was destiny! I arrived at 6:30 and got in the most quiet, peaceful, soul-restoring 4000y swim. It was just what I needed. Thank you bad morning roads!

I was 3 for 3!

I was asleep before 10...and then up at 1:30 am to feed my ravenous hunger, and back asleep until a late-for-me 6 am.

At 7 am I was on Zwift Island for a 90 minute ride, where I was rewarded with a Queen of the Mountain Jersey and a Sprint Jersey. (My virtual bike got a wheel upgrade recently, so fun!)

QoM on my new Zipp 808s.

My lazy audience

So, 4 workouts in 21 hours.

(If you were wondering about work, I've spent most of my non-training, non-family time for many many days glued to my computer working on projects including a new athlete website. I was overdue for a break.)

This time of year more than any it can be extra challenging to get the training in. Having the accountability of Coach Jim, his structured training plan, and his feedback on how each workout is contributing to race-readiness is vital.

"Are you training for anything?"

Yes, I'm training my commitment, I'm training my time management, and I'm training my adaptability.

Winter is for building up those little caterpillars to become strong and beautiful spring butterflies :-) Just do your best and have faith in the efforts of your little caterpillar!