Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Eugene Half Marathon Race Report- 1:16:40 PR !!!

(final mile grit)
On Sunday I ran my first half marathon since having a blood clot in my lung in November, 2016. The last 6 months have been hell. I have been battling with anxiety since this time. With that being said, I really used running over the last three months to help me feel like myself again. Over the last 12 weeks I have averaged 75 miles/week. With each step I run, I am able to prove to myself that I can move on. I am not done yet with running and have more to accomplish.

Selected workouts:
3/21 Michigan 1 (full) mile track 5:15, 1 mile bark 5:54, 1200m track 4:03, 1 mile bark 5:53, 800m track 2:34, 1 mile bark 5:54, 400m track 67, 1600m track 5:38
4/9 8 mile tempo 47:25- out in 24:15, back in 23:10. 6:04, 6:01, 6:09, 6:00, 5:53, 5:54, 5:49, 5:34
4/12 3 mile tempo 16:56- 5:41-5:46-5:29, jog over to track (3:30), 10 x 400m (78.0 avg- 76-79 on the reps) w./ 200m jog :55-57, jog to 3 mile start (4:00), 3 mile tempo 16:53- 5:44-5:42-5:27
4/17 5 mile tempo 28:55 + 4 x 400m
4/21 8 x 1600m w./ 1:00 standing rest 5:34 average (1st rep 5:39, last rep 5:25)
4/26 3 x 2 miles w./ 2:00 400 jog 11:17, 11:16, 11:15

Tuneup Races: 9:24 3k, 16:36 5k, 58:19 10 miler (controlled)

In short, the workouts were there for a good one. After the 8 x 1600 workout I thought 1:14:59 might be possible but I probably needed a few more weeks of similar workouts to make 5:40-5:45 a little more comfortable. The 3 x 2 mile workout was good but it felt a little too hard to be half marathon pace. I went into Eugene with a time in the 1:15 range as my A goal, with a secondary goal of running a PR (previously 1:17:48). On the day of the race I woke up to low-40 degree weather and sunny skies. Great for racing! My plan was to take it out no faster than 5:50. The first four miles have some incline so I wanted to conserve some energy. I executed pretty well in here. On my Garmin I went 5:40, 5:51, 5:51, 5:58. The Garmin was a little off. I ended up getting 13.2 miles and they were clicking the miles off just a few seconds early each mile. The course gave me a 5:45 mile 1 and 11:35ish at 2 miles. I went through 5k in 18:07. After mile 4 I made a conscious effort to try to pick things up. The Garmin gave me 5:42, 5:43, 5:39, 5:43. I went through 10k in 36:04 (17:57 2nd 5k). 8 miles in I was averaging 5:45 pace and on target for a 1:15 finish time.

(hanging with Andrew Wheating post race)

After mile 8, the course climbs college hill. The half marathon is tough because you are basically red lining the whole time and the pace you are trying to hold becomes increasingly difficult the farther into the race you get. I split 5:57 on the uphill mile 9 and my race got a lot more difficult. I took a gel at this point and then clicked off 5:53, 5:57, and 5:54 miles to reach 12. I hit 10 right at 5:50 pace or so. My Garmin gave me 57:5x. I was knocked off of 5:45 pace in here and lost more than 40 seconds. I reckon I could have kept my pace in the 5:40-range had it not been for the hill. I worked hard during the final mile (5:50) to reel in 2 runners and put in a decent kick during the last 200m where the race finished on Hayward Field. I crossed the line in 1:16:40 for a new PR on more than one minute. I finished 18th of 2500 and 2nd in my age group. Look, 6 months ago I did not know if I would ever run faster than I had pre blood clot. On Sunday, I proved to myself that I am not done yet. With that being said, the workouts still tell me that I can break into the 1:15 range. I know that time is possible and have something to shoot for next time out. I had a blast running in my Team Stop the Clot jersey and got a lot of love on the course. I can tell you that the feeling crossing the finish line last weekend was awesome. It is among the happiest I have been in 6 months. I've battled a lot with anxiety the last 6 months and was happy to run well.

Next up is the Newport Marathon on June 3rd. That's right! I'm not slowing down. I ran a half now it's time for a full. I am going to keep up the mileage the next month and try to run between 2:38-2:42. I want to thank my family, friends, running buddies, and the blood clot community for encouraging me, inspiring me, and supporting me over the last 6 months. I am feeling more like myself thanks to a lot of amazing people.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

4 weeks 4 races 4 personal bests just 5 months after a blood clot

I had no idea what running would look like after I had a blood clot last November. I did not know if I would be racing this spring, next fall, or in the years to come. I did not know if I would be able to push myself in the same ways I had been able to before. I did not know if I would be able to run as fast as I had before. In February I really started to feel like myself again. My mileage was getting closer to what I would consider normal and I was able to do some workouts again. I hopped in an early March 5k and ran 16:51. Not bad. I followed that up two weeks later with a 9:24 3k which had me pretty excited. It is a much stronger mark than the 16:51. This started a string of races over the last 4 weekends. I did not taper for these races or back off my mileage so they were sort of a mixed bag. I feel like I could have gone faster in all of them but each one served a different purpose for training. Here is what I was able to manage:

3/18- 9:24 3k in a college meet- I was close to 5:00-flat pace for just under 2 miles. This is a very good time for me. I hung onto a small pack early and ran a strong/consistent race with k splits of 3:07-3:08-3:09.

3/26 Couve Clover 10.3 miler- I had tickets to the Blazers on 3/25 and stayed with a buddy who was running a 5k the next day. I had a long run with some tempo miles planned so I hopped in the 10.3 miler. I averaged 5:50 pace for the whole thing, running consistent splits the whole way. This came at the end of an 80+ mile week with a hard 4 x 1 mile workout the Friday before (3/24) and 7+ miles on Saturday (3/25). I hit 10 miles in 58:19. The only 10 miler I had ever run before this was a 59:06 at Pear Blossom last spring so this is a new pr on some tired legs. My thought is that I can roll through 10 miles of a half at this pace or faster on tapered legs. We will see.

4/1 Linfield 10k- It might have been too much to ask for running a 10k just 6 days after a decent 10 miler and with a mid-week workout. I wanted to run 34-mid, something that seemed possible based on the 3k two weeks previous. I, however, ran like an amateur and went out way too fast in this one. It was a small field and I went with a small pack of guys and ran 5:20 for mile 1. This is more or less 5k pace for me and I had 5.2 miles to go. I ran 5:30 for mile 2 and was in over my head. I slowed to reach 5k in 17:22. If I could do that again I would have had a time I would be satisfied with but I was trending in the wrong direction. I ran 5:50s the rest of the way and finished in 35:31- gross. My road best is 35:32 so this technically is my PR now even though I think I can go much quicker...

4/7 John Knight Twilight 5k- 8:50pm on a Friday night under the lights! There were only 11 in the field and it was a D2 meet with some D1 runners in the field. The pack went out hot and I hung off the back in last. There was a pacer up front going through 2 miles in 10:00 which is close to my 3k pace so I was in over my head. I went through the first 1600 in 5:05 and was already a few strides back from 10th. By 2 miles (10:28-30ish), I was about 10 seconds from 10th and this gap would stay the same to the finish. After a much too fast 5:05, I ran 5:23-25 for the next 1600. I was basically where I wanted to be a 3200- 5:15 pace- but trending the wrong way after a hot first mile. I wanted to run 5:15s but ran a 5:30 third mile. I hit the last 200 in 36 to go 76 on the last lap. I feel like I left some time out there with some bad pacing but you can't say that I didn't go for it. I need to be in a 16:10-30 race. I was on 16:00 pace through 2k and 16:10 through 3k but then faded hard because I went out too fast. I want to be in a race where I come through 3k in the same time but do so with even splits. 16:36 beats my old 16:37 road time. That came on a downhill course so it is good to have a more official PR in the 5k.

4 weeks. 4 races. 4 PRs. I don't know what I was expecting post blood clot but I have proved to myself that I am a fighter. I will not quit. I will not give up. I did not focus on any one particular race here and am excited that there is more room for improvement. The goal right now is the Eugene Half Marathon. My training over the next month will turn more half marathon specific. I am optimistic that a 1:14-1:15 time is within reach.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Some semblance of normalcy (March = Blood Clot Awareness Month)

I finally am starting to feel like myself again. The anxiety still comes and goes in spurts but I am slowly convincing myself that I am okay. I have been able to do this largely due to running. The more I am able to run and get through each day, the more I feel like I can get through each day- if that makes any sense. Over the last 5 weeks I have averaged more than 70/week with a high of 84. This is what normal looked like to me pre clot. I have been able to race twice this March: one 5k and one 3k- both on the track.

On 3/4, I raced the Willamette Opener in Salem. Workouts in February showed me that I was getting closer to pre clot form. My weeks in February generally included one tempo of 3-4 miles, 1 short speed workout, and one long run. The tempos were all done on the bark at Amazon so I was mostly going by feel instead of for time but I could tell that I was getting stronger from week to week. I was originally thinking of doing the Willamette 1500 on the 4th so I was doing things like 2 x (k-200-200) or 1k-800-600-400-200 all at mile pace. The long runs really helped me with the anxiety as I was going 15-18 miles every Sunday. I did a 3k time trial on the track in 9:38 and then a couple days later ran 5 x (1k, 400m) averaging 3:16/k and 75/400. Those two results made me switch to the 5k at Willamette. I was definitely fit but pulled a classic marathoner move before the race. In the few days leading up to the race I ran 10 miles, 8 miles, and 7 miles. I did the 5 x (1k, 400m) workout the day before the 10 miles. I should have cut the mileage in half the three days before if I wanted to run faster but I kept the volume up and the race played out accordingly. I wanted to go through 3200m in about 10:30 or so to give myself a chance at 16:15. I, instead, ran my first 1600 a couple seconds under 5:20 and the next 1600 a couple seconds over 5:20. I was locked into 5:20 for the first two. I could not move and quicker and my legs felt very heavy. I slowed to a 5:30ish on the final 1600 and then brought it home in 16:51. This was a college meet so the race was hot from the start. I was near the back of the field and went through the first 400 in 74ish. I went through 800 in 2:35 or so. I started too quick and then my heavy legs had to endure the full 12.5 laps on the track. I beat a few college kids and ran under 17:00 so not all was lost. I'll be honest that I was a little nervous before the race, attempting to run all out just four months after discovering a blood clot. This race showed me that I can run fast again and not think about the clot at all.

I put in some solid training for the next two weeks and ran the Lane Community College Preview 3k on 3/18. There were two heats for this one, as the first heat featured two University of Oregon runners and two elite Japanese runners. In between the 5k and the 3k, I got in two solid workouts that made me feel like something good was coming. I did a 2 x 1600m workout w./ an 800m jog and hit 5:05 and 5:02. I then added on a fast 600, 400, and 200 to cap off that workout. The Tuesday before the Saturday race I did a big double workout. In the morning I did a 2 mile tempo, an 800m, and another 2 mile tempo. In the evening, I got to workout at Hayward Field with the UO Running Club and did 3 sets of 600-400-300-200. I ran faster splits in that evening workout than anything I had ever done before. I ended up with 18 miles that day. I was smarter Wednesday through Friday as I ran 8, 7, and 6 miles. The 6 on Friday included 4 x 200m averaging 34. The race on Saturday was in the afternoon so I did 2.5 mile VERY EASY in the morning around 8am. I got to the race and warmed up around 3:15 for the 4pm race. I tried something a little new during the warmup and did a 2:00 tempo about 1.5 miles in. The segment was at 5:40 pace and then I finished nice and easy around 2.25 miles. I then did drills and some strides before changing into spikes. There were maybe 8-9 runners in our heat. I went out in 74 for the first 400 and felt like I was in control. We were single file but everyone was still in contact as the leaders were 71-72 or so. I maintained the pace on lap 2 and hit 800 in 2:28-29. I was sitting behind a Western Oregon runner and a UO Club runner was just in front of him. The UO Club runner started to gap us on the third lap but we were consistent and were 3:43-44 at 1200. I wanted to maintain contact with the UO runner because we had done the workout together on Tuesday night at Hayward but I did some quick calculations and figured it might be best if I stay behind the college runner in front of me. We passed 1600 in about 4:59. That's 9:20 pace for 3k and was consistent with our first 3 laps. My race plan had been to go out in about 5:00 and then try to hold on/see what I could do. I moved around the runner that had led me through the first 1600 on lap 5. When I got to 2k, however, I was maybe 5-6 second off of the UO runner who I wanted to try to stay on. It's tough to make up that kind of ground in a 3k. For the final k, I basically just maintained pace. I did not catch the UO runner but he picked off somewhere around 4-5 people to finish close to the top. I passed one more runner and was closing in on two more but just ran out of ground at the finish line. I missed the runner in front of me by 1 second and another person was just ahead of him. In retrospect, I should have worked harder to maintain contact with the UO runner who ran 9:13. I finished in 9:24 which I am really happy about. I don't think that I would have run 9:13 but maybe could have dropped under 9:20 if I wasn't running alone on the last k. My splits were very even- about 3:07-3:08-3:09. 9:24 equates to just over 10:00 for 2 miles and about a 16:20 5k, 34:00 10k and 1:15-flat half marathon. I still have to do the training but the potential is there this spring for some solid times and PRs.

I finally ran a race in a time that I feel like represents my fitness pretty well. I'm excited to race on the track some more this spring. I'm signed up for a track 10k and 5k in April. I then have a 5 mile road race and the Eugene Half Marathon to look forward to. I'm still going through some good and bad but I am starting to realize that a lot went well over the last several weeks.