Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Almost Go Time

I’m getting excited.  Really, really excited.  It’s almost May, and May means it’s time to race again!  In fact, the first race of the season is in just 3.5 weeks—but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Last week I got a chance to sit down and meet with my coach over coffee.  We usually just converse via text or training peaks, and he’s usually pretty hands off.  He writes my workouts, I do them, I write notes, and if there’s something in particular noteworthy or needing comment/answering, he’ll text me.  I’ll get a Monday morning “nice week, good work!” text if it’s warranted.  We’re pretty simple.  Get workouts, do workout, repeat.  So, it was nice to take the time to just chat.
Fitness-wise, he’s pleased with where I am.  I think we are both surprised with how my running is suddenly progressing (KNOCK ON WOOD!!..that sounds really cocky, but I’ve seen improvement not only in things like speed, but also in my pacing and overall execution), but he is just happy about it and confident.  We talked about how funny it feels to be training for a half, versus a full.  He pointed out some data info, we reviewed what was coming up and started discussing the upcoming race season.
I think that’s when it hit me.  It’s finally here!  And so suddenly!
In  3.5 weeks, I have my first race—and 70.3 distance, “local” race.  It’s only “local” in the sense that I’m driving 5 hours to get there…but it’s a small event, so it’ll be really nice and laid-back (well, hopefully) and have that awesome local feel.  I’ll ramp up and hit it hard, but it’ll be there to work out the kinks, remember how to race, and hopefully get some of these nerves out.  :)
Because just 5 weeks later, it’s time to GO at the CDA 70.3!!  And THAT is a race I want to RACE.  We talked about that course, my strengths and weaknesses, and he told me how he thinks I can do there (basically:  he has a lot more confidence in me than I have, buuuuut we’ll go with it…).  It obviously isn’t my “biggest” race of the year, but it’s the next most important and the intent is to race it as well as possible.
I was also informed that, following CDA, I will be forced to purposefully lose a little bit of fitness.  Probably a good thing he gave me such a big heads-up..but it makes sense.  With another 2+months after that until Australia, it makes no sense to try to top out and then..keep getting better (or maintaining), so I’ll have a couple weeks to go down a bit, before another big build, and then… World Champs!
He said I could do some interim stuff.  I could do another 70.3 (possibly Canada, but I really want to just be a spectator, with Mac doing the full!) or just some local sprints/Olympics.  I’ll have to work that out in the next few months, but it would all be low key and with low expectations.
Other than short- and long-term season talk, there wasn’t much more to go over!  He reiterated being pleased with my numbers (and seeing improvements in my running form, hahahah), and thanked me for being so easy to work with!  This is probably we don’t meet too often—it’s all pretty straightforward, and although we communicate fairly minimally, we cover everything important.  Do the work, get it done, be through with it.  :)
Anyway, of course I left feeing super pumped up.  I’ve been having some great workout sessions and feeling myself really “ready,” but having that talk kind of made it real—no more of this pre-season and building, it’s just about time to see what’s there!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

520 Go Long 10K

Oh look, another post I wrote and never posted!  But, it was still a race and still a massive PR I’m pretty stoked about, so I figure it should be saved for posterity:



I’ll be honest—I was having some technical difficulties with my power meter (self-inflicted) a couple weeks ago, so I was distracted all week and kinda forgot/was in denial about this whole 10k thing.


As a whole, this was an “interesting” race.  There is a new 520 bridge, replacing the old, current bridge.  It’s not quite finished, and won’t be open to cars until later, but this weekend was the big “opening weekend” festivities.  The new one will be (now is) the longest floating bridge in the world, and while it will have a pedestrian trail, this was supposed to be the “only time” to get the chance to run over it (as far as closing down the bridge and running on it, and having a race and stuff).


As some background, this bridge has been in the works for YEARS, has created a toll, etc etc etc so basically everyone in the area is ACUTELY AWARE of this new bridge.  As such, apparently everyone wanted to go run over it.  Like, EVERYONE.


On Thursday, packet pickup began at a running store in Bellevue.  I was heading out the door after work to go grab the packets, when I luckily checked my email and saw that they had “closed packet pickup early” and now I was forced to go to Seattle the next day to pick it up.  I later learned they had to “close early” because SO many people were there to pick up packets that it completely overwhelmed the traffic in the area, and police were called to fix the situation.


Friday, we braved the Seattle traffic (on a gorgeous day, to boot—and if you’re from around here, you know that means extra traffic), finally made it to Green Lake, finally found parking, and finally got to the store to get our packets.  There were signs everywhere saying the race had sold out.  (NOTE: they had a timed and untimed option; I think this just meant they were out of bibs, since the total number of timed participants was only 4,000+, as opposed to the “13,000+” total number of people that were “registered.”  I only point this out because technically yes it was a race of 13,000+ people, but really only 4,000+ were “racing”…if that makes sense)


Anyway, after all that we were ready to get this thing over with!  After the Mercer Island 10k, where I admittedly felt terrible, executed poorly, and was a pretty tough course…I was looking forward to this.  I knew I really “should” be able to go sub-45:00, but you never know.  7:15s are hard sometimes, and while race day is always different…let’s be honest, I’ve never done that!  5k’s are short enough, but 10k’s are a bit longer (I know, that’s a really profound statement) so wasn’t sure.  But, that was the goal.  7:15’s or faster, if possible.


Saturday morning, bright and early, and we were out the door ASAP.  Because the bridge was now closed (both the old and the new), we had to drive all the way around.  Plus find parking.  Luckily, we left early and also took a pretty good way to get to UW, and managed to get into the lots relatively early and avoid a lot of the traffic until we got right down to the parking lots.  We parked, sat a bit, but I had to go to the bathroom and was anxious to get moving, so soon enough we started walking over to the start line.


And walking, and walking, and walking.  Parking was so far away, it seriously took about 15 minutes to get there!  Porta-potties were super far away too.  After dealing with all that, a quick little warm-up shake out, and yet another bathroom stop, I still wasn’t entirely sure where the start line ACTUALLY was (“up there somewhere”) so I insisted we go.  Easy enough, and we stood around waiting.  They had three little “groups” partitioned off—under 6:00/mi, 6:00/mi-9:00/mi, over 9:00/mi.  The start line was literally on another little bridge, which was narrow, down a street, then a sharp downhill turn on a very narrow off-ramp before getting to the freeway where there was more space…so really, the times were just to try to get people through the little funnel.  I suggested we hang right at the end of the 6:00/mi group.  Even though I didn’t intend to really run that fast (the whole time), I knew the start would be very fast, and would settle out after that.  Plus, I just did NOT want to get stuck behind the crowds, and figured everyone would move up anyway.


A few minutes before the start, there was an announcement—due to so many people still trying to park, they were going to delay for another 10 minutes.  We were cold again by now, so left the corral and went and jogged a bit again to try to warm up, before ducking back into our places.  Come on, let’s GO!


Ok, this time, we really were about to start.  Suddenly there was a 1:00 announcement, so I stepped forward a bit (and realized I needed to turn on my garmin.  Quick, find satellites!), said goodbye and goodluck to Allen, and….go time!


Things were moving.  Things were moving fast.  The bridge we ran over first is a short little bridge over a canal, but it’s entirely grated.  I instantly found out how difficult it was to run over!!  I was wearing my race flats and felt my toes slipping into all the spaces in the grating, making it pretty hard to push off and, you know, run.  I had to pay close attention and try not to roll my ankles.  Unfortunately, Allen was not so lucky and turns out he tweaked it while running…and is still pretty injured from it :(


Once we were back on actual pavement, it felt like a gradual little downhill.  Everyone was running quickly, I glanced at my wrist and kept seeing reallllllly low 6’s…   Patience, Rosanne!  I kept trying to isolate things, block out the adrenaline of running in the fast crowd, and pay attention to how I felt.  Good?  Good.  I could feel the beginning tinglings in my legs, which usually just means lots of adrenaline and BE CAREFUL DON’T GO TOO HARD, but I kept it in check.  It’s amazing how you start to really listen and feel how everything little thing in your body is reacting, and can decipher what it means!  As we turned to get onto the freeway (a pretty steep, very quick little downhill which raised the pace even more), someone in the crowd jokingly yelled “so I guess this is really the 5:00/mi group, huh?!”


As we got onto the freeway, things settled out a little more.  People were passing me, but I forced myself to block it out, and get into my own little rhythm.  Especially after the last 10k a couple weeks ago, when I never got into any rhythm at all, this just felt good…and I was ticking off pretty quick pace, too!  1 mile in, at a 6:17/mi average.


I was still being passed by a pretty steady stream of people.  Where are they all coming from?!  Geez!  How slow am I going?!  I kept checking my watch, though, and seeing mid-6’s.  Wait, reel it in.  Why are you going that fast?  Is that right??  How does it feel?  I had to be really deliberate about assessing how my pace felt, since I often get caught up in those around me (and wanting to keep up; I don’t like to be passed) and didn’t want to go too hard and then pay for it.  But every time I asked myself how it honestly felt, I was surprised that my answer was always the same—fine.


I stayed far to the right shoulder, let people pass me.  One guy passed me then kinda settled in right in front of me, so I tried to pace off him.  I’m awful at pacing off people in races.  I just..don’t.  So I tried, because how else do you learn (or practice).  He pulled me a long a little, and I know it helped, until we got to the first “hill” which is really just….the bridge going up.  He basically maintained the same 6:45 pace, and I….did not. I chipped away uphill but didn’t want to kill myself.  I kept it under control.  SO MANY people passed me going uphill, what was going on?!  But I stayed with myself, kept at a pace I was comfortable of, and as soon as I got to the top, I tried to push it on the way down.  If there was one thing I felt I did well last race (relative to me), it was pushing it and gaining some speed running downhill, and I think I did the same this time.  NOT saying I ran particularly fast downhill, but I didn’t stay the same slow uphill speed, which means I didn’t wear myself out too much going up. Which is improvement, for me ;)  2 miles in, at a 6:55/mi average…which included that hill!


I did some math.  I was counting how much “spare” time I had. I’m not sure I ever really figured it out (I CANNOT DO MATH IN MY HEAD WHILE RUNNING) but I knew I was making good time, and that even if I slowed down and hit my 7:15 goal paces from here on out, I was in good shape to break 45:00 and get that PR!  Woohoo!


Flattest part of the course was here, about 0.75 miles maybe of flatish, before uphill and then turning around.  It was a really windy day, and being out on an exposed bridge certainly made it worse…but I tried to just run.  And I did.  I just ran.  I somehow pushed it all out, I ignored everyone who was STILL passing me, and got into that zone.  I LOVE that zone!  So intently focused on one thing (racing) that you aren’t focused on anything at all.  I don’t even know how it works, but it’s great.  I was moving.  It was hard.  But, it wasn’t hard.  The other end of the bridge was looming, and I could see the turnaround up ahead—literally UP because of course, we had to run up it.  Head down, get it down.  3rd mile done at 7:13/mi average.


Ok, close enough to halfway!  I pushed the little downhill again, and started scanning people still on the way out.  I knew Allen was there somewhere…..but man, look at all those people!  Finallly I saw him.  He didn’t look super great (later learned it was because of his knee) and I don’t think he saw me…  But suddenly I heard a “GOOO ROSANNE!!!!” and turned just in time to realize it was Crystal!  I didn’t even know she was running.  That perked me up, and I focused on getting this thing done.


This long flat part was the boring part, and knew it might be the hardest--mentally.  There would be a hill in the 5th mile and the 6th mile you’re just excitd to get to the finish…but the 4th mile was long and flat and monotonous, and people were STILL PASSING ME.  Where are they all coming from? Am I slowing down? I’m not going THAT slowly, am I??  Kept checking, things looked ok.  How do you feel Rosanne??...I think it’s ok.  Just keep running… 4th mile was done, and was happy to see I wasn’t slowing down after that halfway hill, and was right back at a 7:08/mi average.


Wait a second.  I’ve beaten that 7:15 goal every single mile.  There’s only a little over 2 miles left!  And,’s only been ~28 minutes?  I started thinking about it, and quickly realized I was well on my way to not only making that sub-45 goal, but also set up to beat it by a lot (relatively, for a 10k)!  Without doing the exact math, which I can’t do, I realized I could run 8 minute miles and still hit 45….so if I was running faster, well, that was just an extra bonus!


By now, the crowds still going the opposite direction were HUGE.  The walkers were still starting, and with that came the kids, and strollers, and people who didn’t know that there was a reason why there were cones separating the two directions!   They spilled over, into our lane, so much to the point where we were basically running single file!  I know it wasn’t intentionally obnoxious on their part, but it was maddening.  When you’re running hard, you have 2 miles to go, you just want to run….you don’t want people running into you and pushing you to the side, etc etc etc…especially when it’s your lane, not theirs!  If you don’t pay for a timing chip, it means you aren’t concerned about your time.  So why is it ok for you to go around (into oncoming run traffic) and pass people?  UGH. Probably the most annoying part of the whole race.


Anyway, I stayed pretty calm all things considered.  One more big hill before the last little off-ramp hill, and it seemed to be done pretty quickly—the descent was a little more gradual which meant I had a little more time to try to work the downhill and get some free speed.  5th mile was a 7:06/mi average.  NICE.


You’re almost there,  Rosanne.  Just 1 mile, plus a bit.  How are you?  Fine?  Fine.  Everything is fine.  Why do I feel so fine?!  Don’t question it!!!  I started to get dizzy looking ahead at the cement, with the fresh scrape marks in it…very odd. But we were suddenly back on the old bridge, and it as just a matter of getting back to the main road and to the finish line!


The last little hill was…tough.  It was really short, but it was STEEP, and I was finally feeling it.  I looked at my watch.  I had time.  I slowly, slowly made my way up and got a big cheer from people on the sidewalk (yeah yeah, I’m fineeee), and the 6th mile was already over.  7:21/mi average, for my slowest mile, and the only mile that was slower than my goal.  I was ok with it.


With 0.2 miles to go, it was just a few blocks and that last, darn, grated bridge to get over.  The finish line was a straight shot.  Time to RUN, Kelley!!!  I knew I would be under 45 minutes, and now it was time to see just how much under I could get.  I knew I would miss a 41:xx, but 42:xx still had a chance!  GO, GO, GO!!!  That darn bridge slowed me down again, as I carefully ran it and, again, tried not to break my ankle (so hard to push off!).  But I got over that, went for it, and clocked in those last 0.2 miles at a 6:18/mi average! (ish…garmin data is a little off).




YES!!!  I didn’t have the official time until a little later (I stopped my garmin at exactly 43:00 but wasn’t sure how accurate I had been), so see that my time was actually under 43 was pretty amazing!  It may not seem like much, but it was a huge win in my book and some major redemption.  Mostly, I was so thrilled at how GOOD everything felt the whole time.  Yes, it was hard, but I just WENT and did it and felt hard in a really good way.  Just the kind of way you want to feel when you’re racing.  Best of all, no more 10Ks!! (unless I do one in May.  HAH!  We’ll see)   They were good for me, I learned a lot, I had a good one and a bad one, I saw some speed I didn’t really know I had, and got a huge boost of confidence in myself.