Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gate River Run 15k 2015 in review + vacation

So just under 7 weeks until race day at the Pittsburgh Marathon, and man is the cycle flying by
already! With a solid base of running and workouts behind me, I am so ecstatic to report I am pain free and ready to rock the next 7 weeks of grooming workouts.

Gate River Run 15k: 

 This past weekend I really kicked off the marathon training with the Gate River Run 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. Pat (team founder) and I arrived into the humid, warm city on Thursday evening, joining the other 120 elite runners toeing the line at the 15k championships. I got an hour run in Friday morning after baked oatmeal and yogurt made with love by the Mathers couple in the hospitality suite. It was already in the 70s with uncomfortable humidity. I was accompanied by my boyfriend and the two other Zap Fitness runners and a formed athlete, Aly Morgan. It was great to get to know the other runners and talk about all of or variations in training locations and types. In the afternoon on Friday, a bunch of the athletes went onto an after school program at The Sanctuary to hang out with the kids and talk about hard work, teamwork, and the love of running. It was a short and sweet event that really was beneficial to all of us. 

Saturday morning was a 530am wake up call, 630am bus to the staging area, and 824am start time. It was 74 degrees and humid at the start line, and as the sun began to rise, it only got worse. I knew the race was going to be a quick one, and because It was my first race back in three months and at the beginning of my marathon cycle (where you tend to be running longer and slower, rather than faster and shorter), I knew I was going to be running against myself rather than the field. Every single woman in that starting corral was immensely talented and I am inspired by them all. 

I felt smooth through 5k, moving at 5:37, 5:41, and 5:39 pace for the first three miles. Based on my previous workouts, this was the goal pace I hoped to be consistent at. Unfortunately, humidity is like altitude, Dennis explained, which means if you're not used to it, it can hit you hard. At 5k my legs began the burn. I stayed mentally in it throughout the race, which I am happy about, but I had slowed about ten seconds per mile through 10k. Then "The Bridge" happened. Man, it's was like 1 mile totally uphill followed by 1 mile downhill to the finish. They even have a race for who can run that last mile the quickest! I struggled up that bridge hoping to not walk (or so it felt) and then pushed to the finish in 56 minutes and change. Not a thrilling time. 

My first reaction is to be upset. Why has the past few months of racing been so tough? Why can't I seem to maintain a fast pace through these 15k/10 mile races? The answer really is that my training hasn't been consistent and that I am still so new at these races. Dennis also mentioned that in order to maintain a pace above lactate threshold in the anaerobic zone (see previous blog from threshold determinations), you've got to train like a 10k runner, not a marathoner. He knew I wouldn't be able to have a break out day running faster than ever because I haven't trained my body to deal with the stress of that. This was a bit relieving. Plus, I came into this distance thing as a marathoner, I know I can chug along at a slightly slower pace and hold it. So, my head is still high and set on the A standard at the Pittsburgh marathon. 

Also, I was pain free the whole run, which is the first time since my stress fracture a year ago. baby steps are steps in the right direction. Richard Fannin did a fantastic job with the elite group, the meals, the hospitality, organization, and the after party. The race was so smooth and such a blast, all of it I am so incredibly thankful for. I also got to catch up with 6 of my fellow 2014 RunPro campers as well as meet tons of other new runners. I hope to come back with consistent fitness and a craving for that top ten in my future.

Savannah, GA:

(L) The Airbnb home we stayed in close to downtown (R) Fancy and delicious dinner date in Savannah
(L) St. Patty's Day in Savannah is HUGE! with a parade and a giant festival by the river (R) Green fountains!
(L) The Airbnb owners let us use their bikes to ride around town! (R) Tyler and I in Forsyth Park

I even used the trip to the warmer regions of the U.S. To take a trip with my boyfriend to Savannah, Georgia for a few days. The historic downtown is breathtaking and was prepared with St. Patrick's day celebration that we were lucky to catch on Tuesday. We started our first day there with an amazingly delicious southern meal at Elizabeth on 37th followed by a Ghost Tour at 10pm. Savannah is littered with burial grounds and homes with creepy ghost tales. We had a great guide (Topher) from Blue Orb Tours who was filled with history and stories about the city and its past. Tyler and I don't get to see each other that often, so we took advantage of the time together to get in lots of running (sweaty 22 miler on Monday (7:11avg/mile) that traced the top of McQueen Island by Fort Pulaski), dining, and walks along the atlantic at Tybee island. The St. Patricks day celebrations were really the topper to a great few days in the city, with loads of green, a parade, the River St. drinking fest, and plenty of cheer in the beautiful Georgia weather. We really had a great time together and made sure to make our time together count. 

Tyler and I at the pier on Tybee Island in Georgia (still working on my go pro skills)

Up next:

Dennis and I decided a solid period of time in Minneapolis is the best thing for me. I've done so much training with him so far which was remote (texting, phone, and Internet) that we want to be in close proximity so he can watch and adjust my workouts in order to maximize my Pittsburgh Marathon performance. I'll be racing 4 local Minneapolis-area road racing in order to get used to morning race preparation, running with and after people, and continuing to learn how to strategize in races. Plus it's a great way to make my workouts go by quickly! But more on those later as I continue to document my progress to Pittsburgh. 

Tune in this weekend for a Pittsburgh prep-specific blog, talking about my personal approach to nutrition and training in the marathon cycle! 

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