Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Race Report: Wharf to Wharf Six-Miler

I've known about Wharf to Wharf for a long time, but I don't think it was until last year that I learned enough about it to realize that it was kind of this crazy historic beach party thing that people fight to get into.

I also think this was right after Boston, when, after having finally achieved a big goal I'd been after for a while, I was feeling sort of adrift in terms of what big goals I wanted to chase next. Box-checking goals such as running a certain distance in every state, every continent, running all the marathon majors, etc. have never appealed to me; I wanted something performance-based, but I was also feeling really done with double-digit races for a while. The short fast stuff was calling to me, so when I heard about this top 100 business and looked up past race results, I thought, You know what, why not chase this for a while.

Of course, "Top 100" means there's not a particular time cutoff; it just depends on who shows up and how fast they are, and there tend to be a lot of really fast people! (Also it's gun time, not chip time, so if you're not in the elite corral, you need to be right up at the front of corral 1 to even have a chance.)

Looking at past years' results, the cutoff had usually been somewhere between ~6:50-7:00 pace, which, depending on the year, has been somewhere in the 5K-8K pace range for me. Meaning to snag even the 100th spot I'd need to run six miles faster than I've ever run six miles in my life, but not by all that much. Unlikely? Yes. Completely and utterly beyond the range of possibility? No.

So I decided, what the heck. I've got one year to become a beast at short-course racing, let's get in the gym and out on the track and do this.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Race" Report: Across the Bay 12K

I've been aware of this race in its various incarnations for the last ten years or so and always had it in the back of my mind, but never actually run it. It starts in Sausalito on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, then runs over the Bridge to finish on the north side of SF. The race has been around in some form or another since the early 80s so it's sort of a classic, but any year that I considered it, something didn't work out. Either the timing was wrong, or I wasn't into the distance, or was out of town, or just had other things I wanted to run.

This year as I put together my summer of short, fast racing, it popped up again, and I added it to my short of list of nearby events that might be fun if the timing worked out. When I decided on Wharf to Wharf as my peak race, though, my coach suggested that I not try to race Across the Bay just two weeks before because it was unlikely that I'd be fully recovered & ready to race 6 miles just two weeks later. But if I wanted to do it as a tempo workout, that was fine.

I'd gone back and forth about it because it's hard to spend money on a race, especially a local one with a route you could run any time, just to do a workout. On the other hand, the tempo workout I'd have on tap for that week was one I know I struggle with (3 x 2 miles at HM pace / 2:00 jog) and I thought that maybe the race atmosphere would keep me motivated and honest (and maybe make it more bearable). At the last minute Represent Running Race Ambassador Erin gave me a comp code she wasn't going to use, and I figured, "What the heck. Let's do this." (That would also mean getting the run out of the way early in the day, which would be nice since we had plans to spend most of the day at a birthday barbecue.)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Race Report: SF PrideRun 5K 2019

(**Quick Editor's Note** No, I have not stopped blogging--for behold, a blog post appears before you!--but it's been hard lately to find time to do it regularly, so I've been posting more frequent quick/short stuff--micro-blogging, if you will--over on Tha Insta. Just, y'know. If you ever start wondering what I'm up to when I'm not over here.)

I had a pretty sweet May of training with close to 180 miles, which is a lot for me these days. However, in June, work stress & travel was back with a vengeance, and while I did do *SOME* training, including several workouts and long runs, it wasn't the month I'd hoped for. PrideRun had always been one of those "maybe" races on my summer list; I'd been planning to target a fast July 4th 5K (PrideRun is NOT a fast course), and racing a hilly 5K five days beforehand seemed not conducive to running my best possible race on July 4th. On the other hand, PrideRun is *SO* much fun, cheap, really close to home, and always benefits a good cause (this year it was Gender Spectrum); since I wasn't in peak shape or anything & didn't feel like I'd be blowing a chance at a PR on July 4th, I decided what the heck, let's go have some fun on Pride weekend.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Race Report: Statuto 8K

I ran across this race, put on by the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club, when I was looking for stuff 10K or shorter close to home that fit my summer schedule. Despite the fact that it's one of the oldest road races around (run every year but once since 1919), I'd somehow never heard of it. But hey, small, short, community race three miles from my house? Sign me up!

I always felt a little wishy-washy about what to shoot for at this race and what to reasonably expect fitness-wise. The first four months of 2019 were kind of a hot mess, training-wise, but in May actually got my act together and ran nearly 175 miles and never missed a single workout or long run (though I did miss a couple of short, easy runs). Also, I'd never run an 8K, so I didn't have a good sense of what pace to shoot for. RunCoach predicted 7:03 pace for a 35:03 finish, so I decided, what the heck, let's shoot to break 35:00, and if I can't do it, hey! Information!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Last Workout Before Statuto Race + Race Preview!

Last night was my last workout before Sunday's Statuto Race on the Embarcadero, an 8K put on by the SF Italian Athletic Club going back nearly 100 years. (The first running was 1919, but there was one year during World War II that it wasn't run.) I have never run an 8K, but something small and cheap and right in town in the 5-10K range seemed like a nice summer racing kickoff. It's new distance for me but one I'm kind of excited about, and I can't deny feeling just a bit giddy to race again as I put this last workout away.

The workout was nothing fancy, just some mile repeats at race-ish pace. RunCoach is predicting a 35:06 / 7:03 pace finish for me, but I think I can do a little better than that. Originally, I'd planned to run this race as more of a workout than an all-out race, but after a pretty decent month of training, I decided, what the hell. Let's just race and see how my fitness is. My target race (Wharf to Wharf 6-miler) is still nearly two months out, so there's no risk of blowing that race, and nothing else between now and then that I care all that much about. Also if you're going to get a shiny new automatic PR, why not make it a good one, amirite?

8K is 4.97 miles, close to halfway between 5K & 10K, which is sort of interesting in terms of trying to come up with a goal time/pace. Back in December I ran a strong-for-me 5K at 6:51 pace, even though I had not been training that much or that seriously, but it's been a very, very long time since I ran a fair 10K course in good shape. (I ran Shamrock Shuffle 10K in March in 43:05, though I think we can all agree that that course was closer to 6 miles than 10K, so maybe ~7:10-11 pace.) I think it's going to be a bit of a guess no matter what, but since my training for the last month has been going well, I don't think it's unreasonable to shoot for 7:00 pace for five miles, which gives a nice round 35:00 total.

Tonight's workout was 4 mile repeats this time with 90 second jog recoveries, so I basically went into it viewing it as a sort of 8K race simulator (just 4.36 miles instead of 5--4 hard miles plus the recovery intervals). Since I'm shooting for 7:00 miles on Sunday so I tried to stay pretty comfortably in that wheelhouse, with interval times of 7:01, 7:01, 7:00, and 6:57. I think that's the fastest set of mile repeats I've ever done, so I just hope I didn't push it too hard & am able to recover well enough by Sunday!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Cut-back (ish) Week

On paper this was a cut-back week, though since last week's 46 miles became 40, it didn't *exactly* work out that way. On the other hand I did have a shorter, easier track workout and no real long run.

Not that I've really done anything truly big lately, but this was my last "big-ISH" week before tapering for Statuto 8K next Sunday, and I'm pretty happy that I've been able to run 40+ miles for four weeks in a row leading up to this race. You never know what will happen but I'm feeling pretty excited to go into a race feeling like I did *some* kind of real training (the first time that's happened in several months).

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

One More Gear

It's cut back week over here, so today's track workout was a luxurious six miles, just a handful of 400m's at increasingly faster paces to work on turnover and I guess the neuromuscular stuff:

    1.5 warm up

    2 x 400m @ 10K pace / 1:00 jog
    400m jog
    2 x 400m @ 5K pace / 1:00 jog
    400m jog
    2 x 400m @ 3K pace / 1:00 jog
    400m jog
    2 x 400m @ mile race pace

    1.5 cool down

Really, not bad at all. A quarter mile at 5 or 10K pace is not a big deal. 3K pace is pretty fast but still shouldn't be TOO awful for just a 400m. But man, I'd be lying if part of me wasn't a *little* nervous about those last two 400ms.

I haven't raced a mile all-out since high school but, extrapolating a bit, my (very) theoretical mile race pace is probably somewhere in 6:10ish range. AKA, a pace I haven't seen in my workouts in quite a while. Every now and then 300m repeats show up at 6:11-6:14ish, and on a good day my 200m repeats are usually in the low 0:40s / ~5:30ish pace, but what I'm saying is IT'S BEEN A WHILE and I was curious what it would feel like (if it were even possible).

I became even more curious when I found myself struggling more than I would have expected to run even a 400m at 10K pace. I mean, like, I could do it, but part of me was definitely going, "Wow, I feel like this should be easy and it is definitely kind of work, I am so confused." I also kind of felt like I wasn't even sure I could run any faster than 10K pace that day for whatever reason, but hey, I was there to try, so.

And, funny thing, if this workout had a theme, that theme was called, "Surprise! You always have just one more gear." After the two 10K pace laps (7:01 & 7:03 pace, OK FINE NOT 10K PACE), I hit the 5K pace laps just fine (6:50 & 6:45 pace) but definitely was thinking "Well, that's it; no way I can run any faster than that." Yet a 400m jog later, I hit those two laps at 6:31 & 6:28 pace. "OK fine, but that was *definitely* the top speed I'm capable of today," I thought, before running the last two at 6:10 and 6:02 (!) pace.

Honestly, at the beginning I was thinking that if somehow magic happened, *maybe* I'd eek out a couple of 6:15 pace laps.

So, yeah. Apparently there's always one more gear, so don't count yourself out til you're out.

"What just happened. You know what, who even cares, someone just get me some better sunglasses."