Monday, March 23, 2009

A Good, Tiring Test

Yesterday was the annual Human Race on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. As the unofficial start to the spring racing season in the Twin Cities, tons of runners came out for what turned out to be a pretty nice day on Summit. The 8K was the road state championship so many top local elite runners were competing. The course on Summit is gradually uphill for most of the first 2 miles, a block turn-around near halfway and the final 1.5 - 2 miles around downhill. And with the wind yesterday, there was a strong headwind on the way out and a very nice tailwind on the way back.

I fared pretty well in my attempt at the doubleheader of running both the 5K and 8K races at the Human Race. I placed 7th overall in the 5K, running 18:03. I negative split the entire race, something I've never done in a 5K before. My first mile was 6:02, slow, as I spent much of that mile breaking the wind for the pack I was in. I felt smooth and strong in my final mile, while trying to not push too hard, knowing I had 5 more miles of racing less than 90 minutes later. Many UWRF teammates were in the 5K race. Jason Quarford won it, Ben Kirmse was second, I was seventh, and 4 other UWRF alum, Matt Olson, Eric Nordgren, Jeremy Olson and Kevin McDonough were not too far behind me.

In the 8K, I tried to pace myself out early, but it was of no use. My first mile in the 8K was 5:52, 10 seconds faster than the 5K. The legs felt okay at that point but miles 2, 3, and 4 were a major challenge. I kept trying to get my legs to go, but there just wasn't any speed there. I managed to close with a 5:42 for the final 0.97 miles, equal to just over 5:50 for the final mile. My time was 30:11, placing 129th overall. I've run much faster in 8Ks before but I've never run one shortly after a decent 5K. The results for the doubleheader haven't been officially posted yet, but looking at the 5K and 8K results, I finished 3rd out of all those that ran both races.

Overall, the day was fun. I was able to get a good reading for where my body is at. I need to keep reminding myself that I'm not training for these distances, I'm training for a marathon. Still, I will be racing again in two weekends in my hometown of Coon Rapids, MN. The annual Bunker Hills Run is run on trails that I have been running on for nearly 10 years, only 2 miles from the house I grew up in. It'll be an 8K race and it will be good to see what I can do over that distance when my legs are fresh.

Until then, the training will continue. I have mile repeats this week and when the weekend arrives I will be on spring break!

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Do You Think About When You Run for 2 Hours?

Many of my students and some of my fellow teachers have asked me this question multiple times now and I finally decided to pay a little more attention to just all the things I think about on a long run this weekend. I ran 18 miles down at the chain of lakes and along Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon. Saturday was a beautiful day for a run, a little breezy but couldn't ask for much better.

So, over the course of my hours of running, here is a list of the different things that ran through my mind:

- amazed by the number of people out on the trails around the lakes (tons of them!)
- rethinking my tests I just finished taking (took 2 Praxis tests to renew my teaching license, 4 hours of testing)
- my races coming up: Human Race 5K & 8K doubleheader on Sunday
- Fargo Marathon in less than 2 months
- my girlfriend (who is currently enjoying running in the foothills of the Rockies in Boulder, CO
- my lessons I will be teaching over the next 2 weeks (only 2 weeks until Spring Break!)
- training plans and workouts with the WMHS track team coming up over the next week
- more than anything though, I think about what an amazing gift God has given me to be able to run, and I use my long runs as a way to worship and thank him for that

Needless to say, a lot goes through my mind, especially when I'm all alone on these runs. Towards the end of the run I was beginning to feel some discomfort along the front of my left shin, right where my foot flexes and relaxes. It was still sore yesterday so I took the day off (my first in 3 weeks) and it made the difference. Today, in the beautiful 65 degree sunny weather, I ran for over an hour and it felt really good. This week should be a good one with the warmer weather. I have an interval workout and a hill workout along with the two races at the end of the week.

Enjoy the beautiful spring weather in Minnesota!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good Training Week

This week I completed my first 70+ mile week in nearly two years. The legs are feeling pretty good at this point and I had some real good workouts this week. Yesterday I put in 17 miles the day after my first interval workout since September. The interval workout on Friday went well. I ran it in shorts on the WMHS track, doing 6x800m at 2:40-2:50 with equal time recovery. It is called Yasso 800s (see earlier post) and I felt really good about how it went. I ran faster on each interval despite getting wetter and colder with each interval.

I'm looking forward to this week. High school track practice starts tomorrow afternoon. It will be exciting to see what kind of athletes we get out for the team this spring. I have talked to a number of my students who will be out for the team and they are getting excited to get going on the season. The first outdoor meet isn't until the first week of April so we'll have a good amount of time to get the runners in shape for their first meet. I will be running with the team most days of the week but when I run with them it will usually be only the start of my workout because my short runs are now very similar to the high school team's medium to long runs. I might also start doing my main workout early in the AM before school and then put in some easy miles in the afternoon with the team. I haven't decided for sure on that yet but it's certainly a good possibility.

More snow and nasty weather is on its way to Minnesota this week. It wouldn't be the start of track season without it though! Enjoy daylight savings time being back, lighter much later, I'm liking it already!