Sunday, March 22, 2009

Off The DL, Pacing for Boston, and
Race Report for the NY Colon Cancer 15K Challenge

Injury Update
First off, thanks for all of you who left supportive and/or insightful comments on my injury report. It was appreciated…even if it weren’t so justified. You see, two thing that my real friends know that my virtual friends don’t is that 1) I am a hypochondriac, and 2) I don’t run through injuries. What this translates to is that I will freak out (sometimes irrationally so) about every ache, pain, and scratch that is out of the ordinary for me. I will diagnose, research and seek professional opinions of others in order to find the best cure for my ailments. Instead of pushing through, I’m more apt to take unplanned rest days and temper down the training if it will help resolve the situation. Some will say I’m a wuss when it comes to marathon training because I don’t run heavy mileage, I tend to take too many rest days, and I don’t run if there’s a suspicion of pain/injury. I just think because of my profession, I know my body and my own physical limits all too well to jeopardize my health or my running longevity for false bravado or a few minutes or seconds off a race clock. The risk-to-benefit ratio just isn’t there for me to push beyond the capabilities.
As a result, I decided to take a short break after I had my latest injury scare. I knew it wasn’t really a serious problem since I felt well enough to complete an 8 miler the next day, but given that I had just ran in excess of 60 miles the previous week (by far my highest weekly mileage ever) and have a history of nagging injuries as a result of high mileage, I felt it was safer to take a few days off to recover rather than compound the damage by running another 50+ mile week. Although I was extremely frustrated to be sitting out during the peak of Boston Marathon training, I trust myself to know this is the right course of action for me.
So I took off Thursday and Friday last week even as I was kicking and screaming to anyone who would listen. I ended up missed a 16 mile long run and a planned hillwork session, but my hamstring improved significantly over those two days. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was walking and climbing stairs without any traces of pain and was ready to head back to training. I debated on running 16 miles on the first run back, but since I knew I had a race the next day and needed to know if I was in good physical condition to run well in it, I decided to forgo the long run in favor of 7 mile light test run around the park. Once I saw I was able to complete that distance comfortably (HR avg 145) at an average pace of 6:58 min/mile and felt little to no residual pain in the affected area, I gave myself permission to run my scheduled 15K race the next day as the last official training race before Boston.

Race Report For the NY Colon Cancer 15K
Although for some this race may have served as nothing more than an appetizer for the upcoming spring road racing season, this peculiar distance race on a familiar course was saturated with significance for me for many reasons. For one thing, as mentioned before, this will be my longest distance race before the marathon. As such, I wanted to use it to not only gauge my fitness and predict how I’ll finish, but also to develop a pacing strategy that I can use on the big day. For another thing, because the course will be two loops around Central Park, I wanted to use this opportunity to practice running up and down the rolling hills at a simulated race pace. Also, since I hadn’t yet run any miles faster than easy pace since the hamstring injury, I wanted to test them out on the 15K to see if any residual pain/soreness arises while I’m running at race pace.
As I jogged over to the starting line and thinking about the 15K, I set forth three goals for myself on this race today: Goal 1 was to finish the same way I started, i.e. injury free. Goal 2 was to PR (previous best was 1:01:30; 6:36 avg pace established a month after 2007 NYCM, when I BQ’d for the first time). Goal 3 was to run sub-60 minutes for the 15K. Because I was fairly certain that Goal 2 would come naturally as long as Goal 1 was achieved, I was seriously banking on Goal 3 as a confidence booster for a sub 3 effort in Boston.
Actually, given the events of the past few days, what was even more important to me today than the final finishing time, was the development and implementation of a new pacing strategy. Because I was going to run this race without knowing fully the condition of my sore hamstring, I developed myself a game plan to use for this race which would give me leeway to judge and alter the effort halfway through. Since the course is two loops of the park (lower five followed by the middle four), I wanted to divide the run into five miles at tempo pace and the next four at race pace. My hamstring hasn’t yet been tested at race pace since the injury so I wanted to use the first loop simply as an introduction.
As an incentive NOT to race the first mile, I purposely positioned myself in the far back corner of the blue starting corral. There was some excitement in the front as Mary Wittenberg made comments about the Boston Marathon coming up in five weeks. After a soulful rendition of God Bless America by a recording artist (forgot who) and some quick race instructions from the race course director, the starting horn sounded, and we were off.

The rest of the story, from here on out, can be summarized just by seeing my splits:

Mile 1 – 6:19; Avg HR 158 (Max HR 171)
Mile 2 – 6:24; Avg HR 166 (Max HR 169)
Mile 3 - 6:25; Avg HR 167 (Max HR 170)
Mile 4 – 6:24; Avg HR 163 (Max HR 169)
Mile 5 – 6:23; Avg HR 165 (Max HR 170)
Mile 6 - 6:18; Avg HR 168 (Max HR 174)
Mile 7 – 6:14; Avg HR 169 (Max HR 171)
Mile 8 – 6:23; Avg HR 169 (Max HR 173)
Mile 9 - 6:01; Avg HR 172 (Max HR 176)

Mile 9.3 – 1:53; Avg HR 177 (Max HR 180)

I won’t state the obvious, except to say that not only did my pacing strategy worked to perfection as I held myself back and kept running at tempo pace 6:20-6:25) for the first five miles, I was also able to speed up significantly in the second half and had enough to sprint the last 1.3 miles at an amazing 6:00 min/mi pace! My pulled hamstring did not bother me for the entire race and by running a huge negatively split, not only did I feel extremely strong towards the end of the race when usually I’m fading fast by this point, I satisfied all three goals I set for myself and earned a huge PR in the process. Looking back, I think this may have been the best tactical race I’ve ever run. Easy and loose at the start, holding steady in the middle and then fast and furious at the end. If God be willing, this will be exact pacing strategy I’m going to be using for the Boston Marathon!

Not too shabby for my first race coming off the D.L. So, yes, in case you’re wondering, Sub 3 in Boston is back on track! I’ll deal with the “other” issue sometime later in the week. Right now, I’m throwing my hammy a big congratulatory ice bath party. Wahoo!

Hope you all had a splendid weekend.

Final Statistics
Finishing Time: 58:49 (2:41 PR!)
Average Pace 6:19 min/mi
Overall Place: 45/2339 (1.9%)

Age Group Place: 10/231
Age Group %: 70.3
NY Flyer Males: 1/23

16 comments:

Andrew is getting fit said...

Congrats on the fantastic PR. I saw it earlier on Facebook!

bill carter said...

Congrats!! I honestly believe those couple days off might have helped you a whole bunch more than you think. You have been training at a high level for a while now and a little rest is probably just what your body needed.

Congrats on the supa fast PR!

Michelle said...

WOW! Amazing Lam!!!

Congrats to you on your great PR!

J said...

That is an awesome time for the 15k! Great job!! I am just so happy for you! And I am super glad that the hamstring is feeling better!

Spike said...

glad the time off helped and congrats on an amazing race and huge pr!

Susan said...

Woohoo, congrats on the PR! Glad to hear the hamstring is feeling better, and hopefully this race means big things are to come in Boston!

Irish Cream said...

Awesome job, Lam! Congrats on the huge PR and I'm so glad to hear that your hammy is doing better! I agree that you have great things ahead of you in Boston!! :)

X-Country2 said...

Awesome job! The Boston countdown is on!

Running and living said...

Well, no empathy for you in the future...Just kidding. So happy for a happy ending (and beginging) on so many levels! Ana-Maria

Xenia said...

Congrats on the healed-up hamstring and the fantastic PR! Way to go, Lam.

aron said...

YAY great news all around!!!! healed hamstring AND a smokin PR!! CONGRATS!!!!

Chic Runner said...

Congrats on the great PR! That is a great new time and glad your strategy worked out for you!

The Happy Runner said...

Holy macaroni! That is GREAT! Nice job with the pacing, I could definitely learn from you.

It makes me happy to know I'm not the only hypochondriac about running "injuries" out there! Glad your hammy is doing well.

joyRuN said...

Great job on the PR! Glad to hear you were just being a hypochondriac, & everything's back on track ;)

sRod said...

Way to stage a comeback Laminator! Many congrats!

Run For Life said...

Awesome job!

 
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