Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Florence Forth 10k

As I started back running last Fall I was determined not to repeat my 2014-2015 cycle wherein I work my way back into running only to get injured again and have to start all over. In a couple of shorter Fall races I was seeing paces in the 9:30's, which was really exciting for me. I decided a good and realistic (albeit slightly scary for me) goal to get through the winter was to shoot for a sub-60 10k. I could keep my mileage a little lower and have time to focus on my much-needed strength work as well. I would need to run 6.2 miles at 9:39/mile to clock a 59:59. I hit that pace in the Bull City Race Fest 5 Miler in October and in the Gallop and Gorge 8k in November. My goal was to be able to add one more mile and, most of all, not re-injure my hip.

I started seeing a new physical therapist in December. I decided to start going when I wasn't actually injured as a preventative measure to strengthen my glutes and correct all of my imbalances in order to avoid having to take 4 months off for the third year in a row. My new PT is amazing. She is also a runner and understands my desire to do whatever it takes to keep running. So with a focus on core and glute strength, I set out using the Another Mother Runner 10k Own it Plan as a guide. I followed the plan's weekly interval and tempo runs. I added one or two easy runs during the week when I did my core/hip work and then long runs on the weekends.

The training cycle went well but I still wasn't very confident going into this race. I struggled to maintain tempo pace in a few runs and just wasn't sure I had it in me to go sub-60. As the race approached I was most grateful to have made it through the winter without any major hip issues. I've missed March races for the past two years so I was primarily happy just to be at the start line. I was hoping that some race day magic would get me to my time goal.

I got to the start early and did a very easy 2 mile warm up around Duke's East Campus and some strides before the race. I was nervous about keeping the pace because I've heard that the course is hilly, particularly in the second half. I was comforted by the fact that this is my home town and I was vaguely familiar with most of the route. When the gun went off I just ran and told myself to do what I can.

Mile 1 was mostly uphill and I was surprised to find myself running a bit faster than my planned race pace while chatting with an acquaintance. When I saw my Garmin beep at 9:14 I knew I had to back off and settle down a bit. Miles 2 and 3 are a net downhill with a few rolling hills. I slowed down but was still hitting paces in the 9:20's. My watch hit the 5k mark at 28:56, which is a PR time for me. I started to get a little excited but knew I still had half the race to go and the biggest hills were still ahead of me.

Mile 4 had a pretty steep and long hill. I was certain I would have to walk part of it, but I shocked myself by making it up the whole thing without ever stopping. It took a lot out of me but my mile split was right on target at 9:35. The last big hill came in the last mile or so and by this time I let myself walk for a few seconds knowing I had a little time in the bank. The last mile is part of my weekly tempo run route so I knew exactly what to expect. I was pretty tired by this point and just wanted it to be over.

As I crossed the finish line my watch said 59:00 and I was so excited!

I found out soon afterwards that the race only counts the gun time, so my official time was 59:32. I was a little disappointed in that, but it is still sub-60 and knowing I can go faster than that will give me some added confidence in my next 10k.

Monday, March 14, 2016

2016 Goals

In the beginning of the year I made several running goals for 2016.

1. Run through the year without a major injury.

In both 2014 and 2015 I missed 3-4 months of running thanks to the same running injury. This year I am determined not to let that happen again. I have been seeing a new physical therapist since December. She is also a runner and understands my desire to do whatever it takes to keep running. The difference this year is that I started seeing the PT as a preventative measure to keep an eye on my hip and core while I am not injured. To this end I am making more of a commitment to the ancillary work than I ever have. It seems to be working as I am runner stronger than I ever have. I am listening to my body and backing off when need to.

2. Sub-60 10k

In the Fall of 2015 I ran a couple of races that made me think that this goal was not out of my reach. It seemed like a good way to test my body's boundaries as I started getting stronger.

3. A fall half marathon.

I want to see how my body responds to the increased mileage and if nothing hurts I want to run another half marathon. My last half marathon was Philadelphia in the Fall of 2013. When I first got injured in the Spring of 2014, my PT said I would never run long distances again. I refuse to accept that. Plus, as I've said, I am running better than I ever have before. I just want to see what I am capable of. The temptation is just too great for me at this point.

I think these goals are all attainable but they will take some hard work and consistency in all areas. I have to focus on the quality of my workouts and not get hung up on the amount of miles I am running. I will have to run less miles than I would prefer in order to have time to get my core and strength work done. But if it means that I can continue running without being injured, there really isn't a question about it. I also need to focus on cleaner eating. I think a large part of my progress is my 20 pound weight loss over the past couple of years. Less stress on my body is key.