Monday, May 17, 2010

A Day of “Firsts” – Chicago Spring Half Marathon 2010

What a great day with a number of "Firsts" for me:
  • Abigail's first race (she is 3 1/2 months now)
  • First time I've ever been in the lead at the start of a race
  • First time I've ever been in the lead at end of the race
  • First time I've led a race the entire time J
  • First time racing without socks (and I won a pair of socks … go figure)
  • First VDOT improvement in a year

The Race

I had a race plan in my head, but I really just kind of felt like racing and seeing what I could do. Like usual I started a few people back and let the lead pack go, but to my surprise no one really pushed the pace off the line. So after we made the first turn and started up the one and only hill, I slowly moved up to the front of the pack and was even with the leaders. I then saw Theresa and Abigail and decided it would be cool to have a picture of me leading a race (since I never have before).  So I picked it up to get in front and Theresa was there to get a few great pictures and Abigail was calm and let her take pictures of me.

All I thought about next was how soon until the pack goes by me and did I just blow my race to get a good picture. Last year I did this race and was in about 20th place most for the first half and then moved up to 3rd on the back half. I felt great though and it was pretty cool having an escort on a bike in front of me so I just settled in and figured I would go with it for a while and see what happens. I actually did pretty well holding myself back and staying within a few seconds of my goal pace. It was really cool having the few spectators on the course cheering for me as they cheer a lot more when you are in the front. Every time I passed a mile marker I wanted to look back but wouldn't let myself and just kept running until I hit the turnaround. Second place was about 20 seconds back and looked really strong, so I had to get back to work. After seeing him, mile 7 was my fastest of the race.

Well, things usually get tough for me in a half marathon around mile 10, but this time it was 7 and I got worried. There was enough of a head wind on the last 6 miles that it messed with my mind, but I don't think it actually slowed me down at all.

Up until mile 9 every one of my splits were within 3 seconds of my goal pace, then at mile 10 I was 10 seconds slow and hurting. I got really worried about being passed and sucked it up and started to push hard. This was the same point in the race that the half marathon course re-joined the 10k course. Having the 10k runners there was good and bad. It gave me the motivation to have people to catch and push myself harder, because of this mile 11 was back exactly on my pace.

However, I was getting really sick of weaving around the 10k runners and actually ran into a few that cut me off or were not paying attention. There was an awesome volunteer riding a bike about 25 feet or so in front of me yelling for people to move over, but with two way traffic on a bike path and most people wearing iPods, people still got in his way and in mine.

IF YOU INSIST ON RACING WITH YOUR IPOD, TURN THE DAMN VOLUME DOWN ENOUGH THAT YOU CAN HEAR THE VOLUNTEER AND ME SCREAMING IN YOUR EAR!!! I do not enjoy listening to other peoples music blasting as I have to go off the path to get around them because they can't hear me. Yes, I'm being a self centered jerk, but come on, people should at least have the volume low enough they can hear what is going on 1 foot away from them.

Now that my rant is over, mile 12 was 12 seconds slow because I was exhausted at this point and had literally ran around a ton of people. Since we were on a long straight away by the lake I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder for the first time in the race.

I saw that second place was not in sight and I was relieved and excited that I could actually win my first race. The problem was now that I knew I was likely going to win, I just couldn't dig deep enough to push the last mile and finished with another mile that was 12 seconds off pace.

My goal was to run 1:14:59 this year and I went 1:15:25.

Some Thoughts
Obviously, I'm thrilled with getting 1st overall as I have really wanted to win a race for a while now, but I'm bothered by my performance. I am convinced I had a 1:14:59 in me but I just didn't do it. The combination of going out just a little faster than I should have, getting caught up in being first and then not digging deep enough when it mattered most in the last 4 miles, cost me at least half of the 26 seconds. I'm guessing the fact that I did over 2 hours on the bike at almost HIM intensity the day before the race probably cost me the other 13 seconds. My plan for this race was not to taper and not to have to recover… both of which I stuck with as I already worked out today (Monday). Maybe I should have tapered, but hindsight is 20/20 and all I can do is move on.

The Year So Far
Well, the year started out a little slow with a foot injury, but I was able to recover quickly and my body probably liked the break. I've had a bunch of fun doing new races such as an Indoor Tri, the Boston Marathon and a Team Time Trial, all with results that I am very proud of. I also managed to set new Half Marathon and Marathon PRs with only following the Endurance Nation Out Season triathlon training plan and adding 3 long runs for each race.

After being so focused for IMWI last year, It's been fun to just kind of do whatever I want and not worry much about any of my performance for the last few months. It's working for me as I seem to be getting stronger so I'm going to stick with it and keep having fun for a little while longer. I'm thinking this year I will only truly focus and train for a race for 12 weeks and see how it goes, so that I can be recharged and ready for next year.

Thank You
I can't even begin to say how much more I enjoy racing when Theresa and Abigail are there. They help me so much and mean the world to me … plus it looks like Abigail brought some good luck and Theresa is becoming a great photographer.

Jake and everyone at Zoot are awesome and keep sending great products so I have whatever I need to race.  I ran in the Race 2.0's this time and they were awesome, light and fast but with enough support that I didn't have any foot problems at all.  Plus I went sockless with no issues what so ever and haven't worn socks in weeks.

Thanks to GU Energy I have enough nutrition to last me all season.  For this race one Roctane Gel right before the start was all I needed.

Of course my training partners at Endurance Nation, Marathon Nation and Fast Tracks Racing Team always motivate me to do my best and I continue to improve because of all of them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Two Person Time Trial Race Report

I while ago I decided I wanted to just have fun this year, so when Jim Uemura asked me if I wanted to do a team time trial with him in a week and a half I said yes and signed up.

After signing up I relazed a few things .... I have not riden in my aerobars since November, I was still waiting to get my new TT bike, my old TT bike was setup on the trainer and not ready to ride outside.

I decided that I needed to at least get a ride or two in before the TT, so I scrambled to fix up the old bike and I was able to get two rides in before the race.  I felt decent in the aerobars for the first hour or so of each but after that my neck was definitely not used to the position.

Of course, a few days before the even, my new TT bike shows up at my door so I start to build it up to.  I decided I was better off not rushing though and just racing on the old bike.

The morning of the race was well, not ideal.  It had poured over night, was under 40 degress and there was a really cold 25mph+ wind.  At least the road was dry and the rain had stopped.

Not only had I never riden a TTT before, I had never done a TT that didn't involve swiming before or running after.  Plus I have not rode with Jim since last May, so we talked on the phone for about 20 minutes on the drive to the race to figure out our plan.

At the race we warmed up for a about 15 minutes practice switching postions for a few minutes and I attemped to get used to my Zipp 808 front and Disc.  Figures first time I'm on these wheels there are 25mph winds (and I'm not exactly a big guy).

Before I know it we are in line and starting in about 2 minutes.  The first 20 minutes was pretty uneventful.  I had a side/tail wind and we quickly caught up to the few teams that started in front of us, then we did the first u-turn and had a direct cross wind.  I was pretty much riding leaning as far into the wind as I could (like pictures on the Queen K).  At least is was a steady wind so I was able to control the bike and still ride decently stong.  We did however hit a pretty big bump which was not cool as my bike left the ground, the wind pushed it even more out from under me and it was not exactly a smooth landing and recovery.  After a big swere and a few choice words I was just glad I was still on bike and put my head back down and keep pushing.

We then turned and got the tailwind again for just a few minutes before the final u-turn and then riding into a headwind all the way back to the finish.  We ended up coming in at 57:53 for a 40k TT.  I really figured we should have been faster, but the wind was pretty bad and it was the first time we route together.  To my surprise we did end up with the fastest Cat4/5 time, however there were a number of teams that went faster in other division.

After reviewing my power file, I made a classic time trialing mistake and went out too hard.  I was a good bit over my FTP for most of my pulls early on and I think I also pulled for too long at first.  Plus, when I dropped back I was not good at getting into Jim's draft quick enough as I oftern drifted a few feet behind him and had to work really hard to catch back up and get on his wheel.  Because of this I really suffered on the way back in and Jim did much more pulling than I did in the last 15 minutes.

The power numbers were pretty disapointing as well.  I ended up with only an IF of .85, not sure if my legs just didn't have anything that day or what the deal was.  Since then I have done an 2:15 ABP ride at .82 (in the aerobars) and also a 1:10 ride with 50 minutes at FTP (inside on new bike).

Eitherway, I really enjoyed the experience and my competitive side says that I know I personally could have rode better.  Also, I think if Jim and I rode together a few more times we (meaning mainly I) could learn to be more effiecent at our chagnes and ride better overall as a team.

On a side note, the new bike is all built and I just did a first workout on it.  As soon as I get it dialed in and it looks presentable I'll share some pictures.

Here is the bike setup for this race with my Argon18 from last year: