Could we now be in the final throes of winter here in Pittsburgh? Dare I say it, or would the mere utterance of this miraculous possibility jinx us all? Maybe there is reason to hope, after all spring is officially only about three weeks away, daylight savings time less than two weeks away, and according to Accuweather, my neighborhood has some temps forecasted in the FIFTIES within the next week.Maybe I should shut-up, lest I curse us all. My earlier, optimistic blog forecasting for the winter didn't turn out so well...
At the start of what I hope becomes the final push through winter, last week around the time of my last posts, I was quickly getting over my cold by way of massive ingestion of vitamin c, vitamin d, zinc, airborne, echinacea, green tea - anything I could get my hands on. You see I had planned on racing on Saturday (2/27) in the Spring Thaw to kick off my racing season and I wasn't going to sit this one out. Last Thursday night I did my "long ride" of the week by myself, as circumstance was conspiring against me to have any company for the ride. I built in intensity through three hours and by the last 30 min I was hanging on for dear life, suffering to Coach Troy and the Spinervals video he was dragging me through. I had planned to run then Friday morning as my running frequency was a little low last week, but with how my legs were feeling I decided to skip it and try to rest my legs for Saturday. I took Friday night's sprint swim workout easy and pulled and paddled quite a bit to rest the legs.
Saturday morning dawned, but not to as much snow as the weathermen were calling for. It seemed like the majority of the snow came earlier on Friday and hopefully the park staff at North Park could get the roads reasonably clear for the race. According to Elite's website the race was on and I set out with all of my gear, breakfast on the go, and Ballou Skies paraphernalia. I got to North Park and didn't have too much difficulty finding a reasonable place to park, met up with Joe, and proceeded to run a scattered two mile warmup between pre-race venues, even getting in about a quarter of a mile at open-marathon/~HIM run pace. Joe and I got our packets, timing chips, and met up with our other Ballou Skies teammate Kim, and recent/regular training partner Heidi. We had just about enough time to greet one another, pose for this picture, and then take our marks for the start.
I started the race a little too fast, as I seem to be prone to in pure running races, running the first mile in 5:50. I wasn't sure at all what I might be able to hold for this race, and I told myself that I would be happy with anything under 6:15 pace, but secretly I was hoping that it might be somewhere around my half-marathon pace (5:55). Time would tell where I was at and how well I might hold up, as I have really only run aerobically since Eagleman last June. This race would be a reintroduction to pain. The first three miles or so were pretty uncomfortable until I settled into my groove and started to adapt to the tempo effort. This would equate to about 5:53 pace and my heart rate was roaming through the mid-170's. This felt about right and I just tried to stay steady and run the tangents of the course while staying light on my forefeet with a quick turnover.
I came through the halfway point in 29:50. The second half of the race didn't seem that much more difficult, although I did remember a bit of a painful patch between miles 7-9 as I really tried to buckle down and surge away from a nearby runner. I think this picture was taken during this stretch. It looks worse than it felt, I promise.
I managed to come out of my funk as began to listen closely for the call of the finish line, and powered up the final hill on Pearce Mill road and let my heart rate climb over 180 for the first time of the day. I pushed down to the finish line and crossed in 9th place overall and 1st in the men's 30-34 division, for a second half of 30:08 and finishing time of 59:57 in the 10 miler. I liked what my garmin was telling me more than the official race timing, supposedly running 10.12 miles @ 5:55 pace.
All in all I was very satisfied with my performance, surprised that I ran so well with no speed or tempo running of any kind, but I guess this is just even more proof of the value of a good base and high volumes of aerobic training. Looking more closely, I think I still need to get tougher mentally and should have been running closer to HR 180 or above, but then again the capacity to do this only comes from more speed, tempo, and racing agonizingly short distances, rapidly. What to do? Do the Just a Short Run half marathon on March 27th, that's what.
Team Ballou Skies was represented very well in this first race of the 2010 campaign, with my aforementioned result, then Kim took 2nd overall woman just by a hair in a finishing sprint, and Joe taking 3rd in his age group in his leadup to Boston. Here is a shot of the team and most of our hardware (before Joe was awarded his medal)-
Heidi also did very well in the race, coming in third in her age group for the ten miler. After the race Kim, Joe, and I handed out some Ballou Skies bracelets and some informational cards, spreading the word about the charity, how to get involved and donate, and just making ourselves and the team known. Look for us again at future races and to be a major presence and player in events to come!
The rest of Saturday was all about relaxation, plus a little bike and gear shopping at the annual Trek of Pittsburgh V.I.P. warehouse sale. I got some sweet new tires for my mountain bike and I look forward to testing them in the slop this spring. And it's pretty much guaranteed that there will be plenty of that once all of this snow melts. Saturday evening Jocelyn and I decided to join Chad, Jen, and Co again at their place on Sunday for another long trainer workout. Having run the race the day before, I capped the day at a mere 3:15, but it was another good spin and definitely a challenge on tired and tight legs.From l to r: Chad (partial), Jen, Lisa, Ryan, Heidi (hidden behind my arm), and me. Jocelyn is shooting. Jocelyn, Jen, and Chad were going long again, and I just sat aside and watched the USA/Canada hockey match. Thanks for hosting once again guys, but hopefully that will be one of the last times and we will all be meeting up outdoors very shortly!
After the previous rough four days on the legs, yesterday's morning run and evening swim didn't feel so hot, so I just took it easy and then did the same this morning. Next up is another trainer ride this evening and then some much needed zzz's. The plan is to get through this week and hopefully to head outside Saturday for a long ride! As it stands now the forecast shows the weekend's temps approaching the historical averages for this time of year, and then even exceeding those averages next Monday and Tuesday. We're talking low to mid fifties! Keep hope alive, we're pushin' through.