Wednesday, November 25, 2015

RnR Vegas Race Recap

  I would like to think that I am not one to complain, who am I kidding, I complain a lot.

  I went into Vegas on a high, I had just ran my first sub 6 minute mile in 24 years. My training was looking promising and I was sure I was going to PR. Things didn't turn out they way I wanted them too. In fact the entire race weekend turned out to be a huge nightmare. In all honesty this is the worst RnR event I have ever attended.

 First Vegas is not a very family friendly town, unless your a hardcore gambler or partier, it has nothing to offer you. Seriously all the prices are high and hotels give you very little in amenities. The strip is terrible to navigate and taking a cab or the monorail could leave you broke quick. Maybe its because I'm not into gambling and I'm not rich and I don't drink or party that Vegas was no fun. All I know is this was just the tip of the iceberg.

The expo was the worst expo I attended, outside of meeting Meb keflezighi, Da_shyt and a nice Scottish couple, it was a big let down.

The 5K race had the worst layout of any 5k I have ever run. Everything about it was wrong. Being a sub 21 5k guy gets me access to the elite corral. All the elites complained that the course sucked as we waited for the race to start. As we took off a couple of the serious contenders shot off while a handful of the elites flat out stated they weren't racing it and jogged it in, their jog is still 7:00 pace. Basically the first mile was like an out and back and as we were running back at sub 6 minute pace the rest of the racers were running towards us, some of them in our lane running directly at us. A couple of us yelled at a few who removed to move, I mean were running in a race here people, move!!! Mile 3 was the worst mile ever, they brought us into a parking lot and zig zagged us back in forth in front of the finish line 3 times. I am not a 5k guy but was really pushing myself to break sub 20. After the third time I ran past the finish line my mind just shut me down. It took me 40 seconds to get myself to run again and I was back up to pace but the damage was done. 20:30 finish time, the walking killed my first sub 20 in over 20 years.

The Half marathon got bad weather, it was cold and windy. This isn't RnR fault and I understand that but at this point I was already angry so uh sorry RnR. We started out in the second corral just behind the elite runners. We planned to go out with the 1:35:00 pacer and attempt a huge PR. The legs had a different plan altogether thanks to the 5k effort the night before. That and running into a 25mph headwind off the start is no fun. First mile 8:05 and that kind of set the tempo for the rest of the race. My body was at a limit and 7:30-7:20 was all it wanted to hold so I kicked it into cruise control and ran it out. The strip was not as exciting as I imagined, the lights were nice but the crowd wasn't that into it. Honestly this was the least active I have seen a crowd at a RnR race.

The course itself wasn't that special, basically an out and back with one weird loop at the 7 mile mark. Lets talk about that loop, they take you off the strip down this road that is more like an unlit alley. Its dark, creepy and your just waiting to get mugged. Then there is a light in the distance, you see it, you run to it, then, your blinded by it. Literally it blinds you, you are in the sun itself for a moment. Then back into the darkness. At this point we run through the Toyota experience or whatever that was. The people were super annoying with bullhorns but they had GU's. I didn't need the Gu but that was their only highlight.

We turn back towards the strip and the coolest thing happened. We ran by some club with a huge praying mantis on the roof. The thing spit flames, hot enough that you could feel it running by, that was awesome!!! Back onto the strip around mile 10 and were in the home stretch and it starts raining. Freezing rain, yay for me, I am just loving it! Deion who was running with me at this point begins to get a lactate acid buildup in his right leg, he can't run. Like the loving father I am, I look back, I give him a reassuring smile, ask him if he wants to quit, he says no, I drop him!

After dropping Deion at the 10 mile mark I have my mind set on one thing. I just want to finish this god forsaken race and go home. My wife, who's 34 weeks pregnant is walking the half, yells at me from the other side of the strip as we pass. She would later say that I had the worst look on my face she had ever seen. She said it looked like I was having no fun at all. She couldn't have been more right as she was right there. I keep moving ignoring her cheers and find a person moving faster than me and latch on to him like a parasite. Mile 12 and he drops off but I keep going, the lactic acid building in my legs, they want no more. I scream at the top of my lungs "No, Shut Up Legs, I own you!" People look at me as if I am possessed but one woman get its, looks me in the eyes and says "Lets Go." She pulls me along for the last mile, when I see the finish, I pull up in front and tell her to hold on. I have a huge kick, I have never been out sprinted since high school and now is no different. I am flying past people as I begin to hit my max speed. I cross the line spent, home girl unable to hang on comes across 10 seconds later and we embrace. Were both wet and sweaty and I notice she doesn't smell too good and I actually do. I push her away, not today lady, Im a married man.

I waited for Deion to limp across the line but couldn't find him. We eventually meet up after the medals. I go back and walk with Mandy to the finish, we jog the last mile. Peoples jaw drop as my pregnant wife drops them, I smile a bit afraid to stop because I know my legs will lock up. In the end I ended up doing around 20 miles with the race and going back for her. I finished in 1:39:17 13.3 miles. Strava would later give me a PR time of 1:38:23, thank you Strava.

In the end we head home and I vow to never return or run another RnR 5k. Seriously the entire race experience sucked. If your looking to party and not really run maybe its for you. If your a serious race than I would suggest skipping this race. Everyone I talked to hated this race only this who don't care about their finish times liked it. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

1 Week Out 2 RnRVegas

  Today marks the final week before #RnRVegas Half Marathon. It also marks the ninth week of official training. With these two thoughts in mind I have had to reevaluate my goals for this race. Originally I had planned to run a sub 1:40:00 to either match or best my RnRSanDiego results. after looking over my training and receiving some good advice I have had to change that. Instead I am going to focus on the 5k on Saturday and use the Half as a training run.

  Multiple things have led me to this decision, weight, fitness level, time spent training and training results. At this time I believe I am closer to a 1:43:00 finishing time than a sub 1:40 and I don't want to push myself. Yes I got my weight down to below what it was at SanDiego and my diet is better but its not optimal. At this point in time my longest run has been 10 miles and only have two of those in ten weeks and neither were pleasant. I also am lacking in consistent running mileage per week over a 4-5 week period. I am currently topping out at 30 miles a week consistently and thats not where I am comfortable at for a fast half marathon race. Overall this last 9 weeks of training haven't been optimal.

  There were some positive things that have happened through this training block. I did get my weight down and I am a lot healthier. I posted my fastest mile in over 24 years and believe this could be the key to me breaking a sub 20 5K. I have gotten my speed up and my heart rate down but still not where I need it to be. So yes this training block has produced some positive things but not enough to make a sub 1:40 effort. 

  #RnRVegas also isn't a race that plays to my strong suits. I am a much better morning runner than I am evening runner and the race is at night. The course while very much downhill with very few feet in elevation, the layout works against me. The first 9 miles of the race appear to be a nice steady drop in elevation with the last four miles being a slight uphill. This works out for a nice 10k or 15k pace but its that last 4 at race pace that can make or break the race. 

  In the end #RnRVegas doesn't seem to be a good race for me and I need to treat it like a training run. I will use the 5K to fine tune my training and get a better idea of my fitness levels. I will try my best to run the race and just enjoy the good times of the strip at night. Besides I still have #RnRArizona in January and I would much rather post a good time on my new home field. Theres also the IMS Marathon I signed up for in February to consider as well. Both of those would be better suited for me. 

  I guess we will wait and see because once I toe that line anything can happen.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

24 Years Later

   Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.3
Haruki Murakami

   I was once a decent runner - I have already covered that in a different blog post. I traded my natural given talent to chase unfulfilling dreams which, in turn, soiled my talent. When I began to regain my sanity and started to run again, I did it for the wrong reasons. I set unrealistic goals, trained haphazardly and acted like a jerk. It took injuries, patient friends and what seemed like years to begin to run with purpose again.
   As I began to race I crushed most of my running goals with ease, very few of my goals have eluded me. The first, to run a sub 20 minute 5k, I ran a 18:50 in high school and would love to run that pace again. Second, to run a sub 1:30:00 half marathon. Third, to run a sub 3:30:00 marathon. And finally, is the major goal of most runners, a Boston Qualifier.

   Those goals require hard work and a solid training plan. They require grit and determination, they will require pain to achieve. So, I have been working on changing my training program and my diet. I have been losing weight and building strength. Slowly I have begun to ramp up my mileage while running consistently. All this with the hopes and dreams of regaining what I lost 24 years ago. To fulfill my goals and become the runner I believe I was destined to be.

   Yesterday, I took my first major step towards those goals. I had gone out that morning and ran an easy 10 mile progressive pace run. I came home and noticed I was one mile away from a 135 monthly total. I also noticed I had crossed a segment on Strava that I believed I could take. So I asked my wife if she would drop me off so I could run the segment and I would meet the family at the park.

   I had wanted to see how fast I could run a mile if I dedicated myself to just run 1 mile all out. Now was the chance to see exactly how fast I could go. Having done some speed work in my training block I knew I could run in the 6's. My fastest recorded mile to this point was a 6:18 but I also knew that was assisted with a downhill course I was on. This attempt would be on a mostly flat stretch with a slight bit of elevation and a downhill finish under Rt 51.

   I believe I started out a bit too fast and as I hit the ¼ mile mark my lungs began to burn. I tried to get control of my breathing and adjusted my form and pace. I looked down and noticed I was running a 5:15 pace. I was at a half mile now, I was half way there I couldn't let up now. My mind began to tell me, its too late, you've blown up, you idiot you went out to fast, maybe you can at least not embarrass yourself. I shouted defiantly, ITS MINE, and my body responded with a surge. As I passed the ¾ mark and I began to feel myself redline, its possible this is where I fail. I entered the finishing tunnel and I begin to have trouble seeing. I close my eyes for a second and will myself forward, I give a final push across the line. Not knowing where the exact finish is I had to go an extra 10th and stopped my watch and breathed.

   I checked my watch, I needed to go under 6:30 to get the segment. My watch showed 6:16 average pace for 1.16 miles. I quickly saved the run and as soon as the watch finished, I connected to Garmin and check my stats.  The stats don't lie, I ran the segment in 5:38. Not only taking the segment, but taking a giant leap towards my major goals. I had done something I hadn't done in 24 years, I ran a sub 6 minute mile.