Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sunday Long Run - Sycamore Landing Road @ 9:30am

Dickson and I are meeting at Sycamore Landing Road tomorrow at 9:30am for a run on some country roads. 

We will meet and park at the "B" HERE .

I'm still working on the loop, but it will somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 miles with the possibility of an add on (I know Dix is running 16). We did a similar run back in February of 2010...when there were few places to get in a long run due to the snow. So, if you want to avoid crunchy/icy bike paths and major road traffic, feel free to join us. 

As always, try to let us know if you're coming in advance so that we know to wait.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

GRC Snow Day

The Feds may have closed up shop today, but the BCC track was open for business as several GRC harriers took to the oval for a snowy workout. Both Heather J. and Sean B. were right back at it after their race wins on Saturday. Clearly success didn't get to their heads.

Photo credit to Amber

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Breuters wire services -- Houston, Texas.

Beth Young and Kieran O'Connor both ran huge PRs at the USATF Half Marathon Championships in Houston, Texas today and proved that they belong in the top echelons of national competition. Both Club and Federation were well-represented by their efforts. The conditions were favorable with high 40s and a slight wind. O'Connor finished in 1:05:59, good for 43rd place. This race was the second fastest half marathon in club history and was the latest in a huge string of PRs and a meterioric rise to national caliber competition.

Young finished in 1:17:18, which was 42nd place. Today's result lopped more than a minute off her last PR of 1:18:36 and set a ten-mile PR of 58:50 en route. She got out fast, stuck with a pack, and didn't let the competition push her around. This was the third fastest half marathon in Club history.

Benedict Sloane defied rumors that he had defected to the British Track Federation and ran the race of his life today in Houston by finishing in 1:07:29 (56th).  This is a PR by over a minute and he also set a 10-mile PR en route with 51-very low. He looked very strong in the homestretch. 

The strength of talent in the National Capital-area running scene was definitely on display in Houston. 

PRs and Proposals

Heather Jelen had a big weekend.  Moments after hitting an indoor PR of 10:31 in the 3k of the Terapin open, Dean, her boyfriend and Georgetown Run Co. manager, made a trackside proposal captured here.  Jelen said "yes."  Although she did not run yesterday, Club 3k record holder Hilary May also got engaged up in Boston.  Avril and Susan, who are already maried, ran great races with 10:09 and 10:34, respectively. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weekend Results

USATF Half Marathon Champs

Live splits:
10k: 30:59 (1:05:22 pace)
Finish: 1:05:55 !!!
Kieran knocks 56 seconds off of his half PR, he's now less than a minute from the OT standard!

10k: 36:22  (1:16:43 pace)
Finish: 1:17:15 !!!
Beth takes 1:21 off of her half PR.

Terrapin Invite

Tina runs a solid 18:31 in her first 5k

Sean Barret closes in 63 en route to a 15:20 heat win.

Big City runs 1:58 to open his season.

In the 3k, Avril runs 10:09 for what Jerry dubbed "her best race in a GRC singlet". Heather wins her heat in 10:31, good for a 14-second PR and then promptly gets engaged trackside. Susan and JR both run strong season openers in 10:34 and 9:03.

Away from the track, Hilary May also gets engaged. 'Tis the season!

More to Come...

Friday, January 17, 2014

GRC Set to Ring in 2014 on the Roads and Track

The men and women of GRC begin the 2014 season in earnest this weekend, at a range of distances from 800m to the half marathon. The marquee event is Sunday's USATF Half Marathon Championships in Houston, but a solid track contingent will get things started on Saturday at UMD's Terrapin Indoor Invitational.

Sunday's half-marathon champs will give GRC stars Kieran O'Connor and Beth Young each a great opportunity to improve their PRs. Great fields are lined up for both the men's and women's races, and the fast Houston course played host to Ryan Hall's 2007 American record in the half.

Kieran is coming off a banner 2013, where he was named team MVP thanks in large part to a huge 1:06:51 PR at Wilson Bridge that netted him top American honors. Coach Jerry adds that "his outstanding 46th place at USATF Clubs Cross Country shows that he can run on the national level, and as fit and confident as he is, nothing Kieran does would surprise me."

Beth too enjoyed a great year in 2013, lowering her PRs to 2:49:30 and 1:18:36 for the full and half-marathon. She had to miss the Cal International Marathon last December thanks to a gov-shutdown related conflict at work, but has looked extremely fit in recent weeks. Jerry stresses that "Beth gets better every race, and I have every confidence that this race will be another step in her progression to national class."

Any NFL coach will tell you that momentum is key during championship season, so both Beth and Kieran looked poised to Send-em come Sunday morning.

If tight ovals and Landover, MD are more your thing, GRC's track squad will come out of hibernation Saturday against an array of local college and university teams at the Terrapin Invite. Tina starts off the day's racing in both her GRC and 5000m track debut. A mid-d specialist in college, Tina hopes to make a splash in her first longer distance race. A strong trio of Susan, Avril and Heather finish up the individual events in the women's 3k, looking to get their track seasons started off right.

The men's side of the meet features Sean "What Off-Season?" Barrett in 25 laps of 5k goodness, Chuck Kacsur running a rare 800, and JR Roberts making moves in the 3000m. This should be the first of many track meets for these gents this year, so Saturday looks to be a great rust buster.

Stay tuned for updates as the weekend progresses. Oh wait, this is where I say...


The Line @ 9:30am

I'm going to run there and then for approximately an hour...if anyone would like to join?

Monday, January 13, 2014

For hard training of Washingtonian- the GRC in 2013

We trained hard and raced harder in 2013. And we had a lot of laughs along the way!!!!

There's no doubt that the team has set up basecamp higher than ever before as we all ascend to the pantheon of greatness. Our numbers are strong- nearly 50 runners on the team, the times notched by men and women  this year have been among the best in our history and enthusiasm is palpable. We're bringing out the best in our teammates, and having a few laughs along they way, as Exhibit A will demonstrate:

Before we get started, here are the team's superlatives:

Mens MVP--Kieran O'Connor

When Kieran arrived in the summer, it was obvious that he had talent, but he appeared to be a long term project, given his spotty training in the previous year when he was living in Cairo. Despite an arduous work schedule that included working the night shift for an extended period, Kieran ran 1:06:49 on the difficult course at the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, the second fastest time in team history.  He followed that up by placing 46th at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships the highest finish ever by a GRC athlete, male or female, in his first cross country race since high school.  

Womens's MVP--Lindsay Donaldson O'Brien

LDO's first full year with GRC was one for the record books, as she set new records for 10k and 10 miles, running the outstanding times of 34:38 at Pikes Peak, and 57:47 at Broad Street.  Lindsay also ran the third fastest time in GRC history for 8k with her 28:43 at St. Patty's Day, and the 4th fastest half marathon time with her 1:18:53 at Wilson Bridge. In 2013, she also assumed a leadership role off the track, serving as race director for Lauren's Run, and agreeing to serve on the team board in 2014. 

Men's newcomer of the year--Paul Balmer

Oregon Paul PRed at every distance from 5k to 10 miles.  Heran 15:22 for 5,000 on the track at Maryland, 25:32 for 8k at St Patty's Day, 31:55 for 10k at Veterans Day, where he finished second, and 51:58 for 10 miles at Army.  Paul capped off his year by placing sixth for GRC at USATF Clubs Cross Country, in front of his adoring home state fans.  Paul is just beginning to tap into his talent, and he will be an A team stalwart for years to come.

Women's newcomer of the year--Julie Tarallo

Her relaxed few years of running changed when she joined the team in January. In less than four months of training, she ran 1:22:04 at the National Half Marathon, an eight-minute PR, and 2:52:50 at Boston, the fourth fastest time in GRC history, and an astounding 17 minute PR.  In the fall, Julie ran 1:01:02 at Army 10, a PR of more than three minutes.  

Lauren Woodall Roady Award--David Wertz

Dangerous Dave continued his transition from hobby jogger to elite athlete by running major PRs at several distances. Dave's goal for the spring was to break 15:20 for 5k on the track, which was ambitious indeed given that at 37 years old, Dave would be competing against athletes literally half his age, and that going into the season he had run less then five track races in his life. Despite the long odds, Dave exceeded his goal, running 15:16 at Swarthmore.  His plan for the fall was to peak for the USATF 12k on Nov. 17.  In August, Dave committed to serve as a guide for elite visually-impaired athlete Aaron Scheidies at the Wilson Bridge Half, which was scheduled for October 6.  When the race was postponed until November 10th due to the government shutdown, Dave kept his commitment to guide Aaron, knowing that by doing so he would sacrifice the centerpiece of his fall season because he could not run the 12k a week after a hard half marathon.  But Dave made the most of the situation, guiding Aaron to a huge PR of 1:16:26, and a month later running perhaps the best performance of his career with his 25:39 at the Jingle Bell 8k.  Dave's remarkable development despite his lack of background in the sport, willingness to confront new challenges, and selfless service to others truly exemplifies Lauren's enduring spirit.

Now, in case you don't remember 2014:


Chris Bain finished third at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, with Breezy picking up a 12-second PR. In the half, Drea led the women with a sixth place finish and Sam led the men in eighth. In Richmond, Outlaw frosted the competition to with the Snowflake 15k.


While running the Langley 8k in McLean, Charlie did a mental coin flip when he gets to an unmarked intersection and he picked wrong. Most of the field followed him and added 2k to the course. Nice play, Shakespeare. He thanked his lucky stars the race was free for most runners and it was so cold nobody wanted to hang around and tear him to shreds.

Meghan Lockett ran a strong race against many college freshmen at the USA Cross Country Championships in St. Louis.

Kerry Allen debuted for GRC with a PR in the half and 10 en route in Birmingham, Ala.

The Have a Heart for Boston-Hoffman Elementary School 5k continued to serve as a scrimmage for the team, with men sweeping the top five spots and notching seventh and five women finishing in the top six, attracting a long-term recruit in the process. Chatty Cathy and Viking lead the way.

For the first time in his life, Wiggy’s heart was truly broken when he didn’t get a big check for winning the Country Roads Five Mile in Olney.


Meghan finished third in the 3k at the New Balance Indoor Championships.

Sean Barrett represented the Armed Forces team at the World Military Cross Country Championships in Serbia, where he finished 40th, in the third place for the U.S. men's team.

Sam and Oregon Paul led the men and LDO and Cathy pace the women at the St. Patrick’s Day 8k. Look, everyone, it's Sebi.

Wiggy continued his spring reign of terror, winning the Shamrock 5k in Baltimore and following in Sam (2011) and Jake’s (2009) footsteps.

Teal and Julie’s big PRs at the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon made the big news, but on the less-attended half of the full marathon course, Scott Koonce humanely dealt with a mouse infestation.

GRC Presents the Van Metre Five Miler
The GRC team at the Van Metre race continued to grow and dominate, with the top seven men and top four women. The Viking continued to plunder, including some door prizes, and LDO ran a strong race to win the women’s competition.

Still Fluffy After All these Years
Sam Luff won the MCRRC Runner of the Year award, once again forcing Chicken Tender to collect another bridesmaid’s dress he’ll never wear again. Sam then rested on his laurels for the rest of the year.

Jimmy Daly laced up his flats for the first time in 15 months at the Scope it Out! 5k.

Raleigh Relays in Raleigh
Hilary broke 17, running 16:56 and setting the team record in the 5k. For the first time in his life, Wiggy’s heart was truly broken when he found himself racing outside of Maryland, also in the 5k.

Right on the heels of Teal’s PR, Julie breaks hers by 18 minutes at Boston, running 2:52:50. It’s, like, a special race for her or something. Stefan leads the men in 2:34:01.

Maura made her long distance debut at Cherry Blossom. Viking did well enough that he dropped the mic and moved back to upstate New York.

Big City improved on his team record 800 with a 1:53.85 at Shippensburg.

The swift downhill course and a stiff tailwind propelled 10 GRC runners to PRs at the Pikes Peek 10k. Wiggy led the way for four sub-31 finishes, and LDO finished well under 35 minutes and drew blood from one of the team’s friendly rivals for the first time in recent memory. Heading the opposite direction, LTO and Chaz fared far worse at the GW Parkway Classic.

In a herculean effort, Beth finished second at the Eugene Marathon, running 2:49:30. She accomplished this despite not stopping to eat a hot dog this time. Kerry followed in 2:59:24.

Outlaw set his sights on Liz soon after he moved to DC in 2010, and his pursuit culminated in an early-May wedding in New Jersey. In Maryland, Jimmy Daly took his new wife, Kelly, for a spin on the dance floor, glad he wasn’t the one spinning.
(sometimes you just need a photo of Ryan Hanson) 

LDO continued a powerful spring with a PR at the Broad Street Run, breaking the only long-standing team record this year.

If it hadn’t worked, it would have been a really stupid move. Kenny Rayner ran the Lincoln Marathon three weeks after Boston and managed a two-minute PR. The race served as the National Guard Marathon Trials. He then disappeared.

Witty, Wertz, Fridge and Sebi all set big PRs in the 5k at the nomadic southeastern Pennsylvania last chance meet, this year held in swanky Chester.

Koonce won the Mercy Health Clinic 5k.

Drea left us for Seattle, and her fiance Paul. 

Murph takes care of business at the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon to ensure his entry in the 2014 Boston Marathon.

The most successful Father’s Day 8k dodges a storm and sees 266 finishers. Witty defends his title with ease.

Chatty Cathy took a vow of dentistry and moved to Philadelphia. Noodles shipped out to Japan to teach English and ride his elliptigo. 

Not too much happened during a toasty July, though Wiggy took to the track a few times, running 4:17 at the DC Road Runners Track Championships. Also, Hilary beat a woman up at Lia's

After pressuring him for a long time and assuring him we’ll still care as much about him after he joins, Evan Jurkovich finally relents and joins the team. He then teams up with Sean and team debutante Kieran to sweep the Leesburg 20k.

Well that was a surprise. Miler Tom Kelly gives the Annapolis 10 Mile a try and equips himself well, running 57:26.

I think this was when Cora Marren was born?

There was a lot of water polo.


We welcomed Jack Woodall, Sharon Boyce and their son Nicholas to participate in Lauren’s Run, honoring the memory of our teammate Lauren Woodall Roady and raising money to help maintain her favorite part of the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. On a course LTO and LDO designed for its proximity to the Meadowbrook Stables, Lauren’s husband Peter demonstrated some of his fitness from his triathlon training and her mother-in-law Celia, who has participated in the Father’s Day 8k, won her age group.
The effort yielded more than $10,000 for the Friends of the Great Smokey Mountains and drew together many of her friends, family members and friends of the team who came to support the memory of someone we miss so bitterly and about whom we have told so many sweet stories. We shared sweet, home-baked treats, grew as a team and had a chance to catch up with her and Peter’s relatives.

Demonstrating why races have chip timing, the Navy Five Miler started several minutes ahead of the published gun time, leaving several teammates scrambling for the starting mat. Mike “Risky Business” Franklin won the men’s race, and both Hilary and Maura shared the women’s title, Hilary on gun time and Maura on chip time.

In Philadelphia, Beth Young scooted to a three-minute PR in 1:18:36. Catherine rejoined the team for one last race.

Kristie Nunez returned after an almost-two-year injury/pregnancy layoff to run a strong Clarendon Day 5k.

Breezy wins the DC Road Runners National Capital 20 Miler….easily.

On a hot weekend, Franklin led a top-three sweep at the George Mason Invitational, Oregon Paul led the way at Paul Short, and Charlie defended his title at the Great Allegany Run 15k in Cumberland. 

In cooler environs, Evan ran a PR (2:30:42) at the Twin Cities Marathon, don’t you know?

The team did well internationally, with Dutch Paul Zwama debut in the marathon at 2:22:17 in Holland and Nina Bekelmans' lucrative third place finish in a  Jordanian 10k.

On this continent, Susan won the Boo! Run for Life 5k (shortened thanks to shutdown contingency), Kristie and Elyse went 1-2 at the Run for Jerry 5k and Matias won the Patent Office’s 5k by more than two-and-a-half minutes…pushing his son in a stroller.

For the first time in his life, Joe Wiegner's heart is truly broken as he just barely breaks 40 for a 10k and the Black Hills park race. Michelle Miller makes a quiet return to running and almost beats Joey.

Aunt Drea married Uncle Paul.

The women win the team title at the Army 10 Miler, with Beth and LDO setting the standard for the team in the 59:40s. After two years of searching the high seas, Jerry finally found his blond whale- Luke Meyer finally got a job here and after a rust-buster, showed what he was capable of with a few weeks of hard training under his belt, running 50:23 for 15th place. Kieran and Maura provided the warmup act with victories at the St. Rita 5k.

Jimmy Daly moved to Arizona, his defection crippling an already-weak North Bethesda Distance Project. Meanwhile, the Capitol Hill Distance Project is able to regain a once-again-healthy Kate Dart.

Mike Franklin continues his winning streak, intact only because he missed the Army Ten-Miler packet pickup, at the Run for the Parks 10k on a breezy day on Hains Point. David Roche wins the Murat Kayali award for shortest GRC career, running this race before tearing his labrum.

In what has become an annual rite of fall, though usually earlier, Witty breaks the course record at the Run! Geek! Run! 8k, winning for the third straight year.

After a warmup in a downpour, Breezy and Charlie PR at the Richmond Half Marathon.

In Alexandria, Luke Meyer finished among the professionals at the USATF 12k Road Racing Championships.Viking showed up and ran really well, too.


Breezy took the marathon by the horns at the Cal International Marathon with a huge PR.

The faces changed, but the dream remained- top 10. Finally, a strong race by a set of newcomers achieved our goal in Bend, finishing ninth. And Sam like fell or something. 

Three years after an embarrassing pair of marathons, Charlie snuck up on one near Charlottesville- the Three Bridges Marathon, staffed by and benefitting the Ragged Mountain Racing Team.

Dirk de Heer and his wife Brooke welcomed their daughter Lila. Dirk assured Brooke that childbirth would be a breeze in Holland. Instead, Lila was born at altitude. 

Sean finished up the year with a win at the Bumble Bee 5k in San Diego.

Along with the wins and achievements, we suffered some losses, too. Alex Benway, Jimmy Daly, Stefan Kolata, Drea Garvue and Catherine Campbell departed, and Nina Brekelmans went off to Egypt, then Jordan. We also had a huge year recruiting-wise, bringing in Erik Anderson, Sebi Devlin-Folz, Mike (Risky Business) Franklin, Evan Jurkovich, James Frick, Tom (The Taxman) Kelly, Kevin (Johnny Running) McNab, Luke (the Blond Whale) Meyer, Kieran (Rube) O'Connor, Dave Roche and Justin Snair. On the women's side, we gained Kerry Allen, Julie Tarallo, Mary Grace Pellegrini, Heather Jelen, Breanna Deutsch, Tina Morrison and Emily Young.

With a fertile track season, an emotionally-charged Boston Marathon and cutthroat-competitive Have a Heart for Boston-Hoffman Elementary School 5k, the spring season is looking to be a great opportunity for everyone on the team to show of what we can do, running-wise. Off the track, we have the looming birth of (Anything but) Scarlett O'Hara to look forward to. 

Our new leadership team of President Sam Luff, Vice President Lindsay O'Brien, Secretary Patrick Murphy, Men's Director Sebi Devlin-Folz and Women's Director Maura Carroll is ready to place the organization in a position to excel, leaving it up to each of us to carry last year's momentum and follow it up with a better 2014. People are taking notice of what we're doing and how we're conducting ourselves in every race we enter and they are efforts we can be proud of.

Friday, January 3, 2014

This Time Around

On December 9, I finished the California International Marathon (CIM) -- my eleventh marathon -- in 2:42:24, a six-minute PR. With this many marathons under my belt, I can attest that it doesn't take many races before the marathon PRs start becoming fewer and farther between and one quickly reaches a point where a personal best of mere seconds becomes a milestone. Eleven marathons give a runner the chance to make mistakes and adjustments. And while I do not pretend to add anything new to the field of training theory, I thought I'd write a post about some of the things that I did differently this cycle in part to share some ideas with other marathoners but mostly because I know that readers of this blog are a bunch of wonks who like to debate the minute details of their training logs. 
Speed first...
I have typically begun marathon cycles by building an aerobic base consisting of a large volume of miles at much slower than marathon pace before launching into speed work in the weeks leading up to the marathon. I've seen many authoritative sources that recommend a similar approach, such as Pfitzinger and Douglas, who, aside from regular strides, do not recommend true track workouts until eight weeks before race day. See Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas, Advanced Marathoning, 2d ed. (Human Kinetics 2009). I know this method works for many runners, but I don't have great leg speed and my 5k times are downright pedestrian.  So in July and August, before I started ramping up the miles, I focused my efforts on getting to the track every Wednesday to do short repeats ranging from 400m-1200m at 5k pace or faster. This was a good way to improve turnover and as the leaves started changing (but still before starting marathon-specific work) Coach Jerry prescribed longer repeats beginning at about 10-mile pace and cutting down to 10k pace. For example, 3200m, 2400m, 1600m, 800m (August 28); 5 times 2k (September 18); and 4 times 2400m (October 9). The progression to longer repeats got me comfortable running at faster than marathon goal pace (MGP) for relatively long distances and laid the groundwork for marathon-specific tempos later in the cycle.
Then goal pace work -- and lots of it
By September, I was really hitting my stride on the long intervals and was confident that the faster stuff would make MGP feel sustainable. My first marathon effort occurred on September 14, when I ran the Navy Half Marathon at ten seconds per mile faster than MGP. Although I definitely felt some rust, this race confirmed that my speed work made marathon pace feel achievable. After Navy, the rest of the cycle centered on two goal pace runs designed to sustain MGP at increasingly longer distances. On September 29, I did a long run at the National Capital 20 Miler in which I warmed up for the first four miles and then churned out 16 miles at close to MGP (2:06:19 round trip). Then on November 2, I did a monster goal pace running on the Capital Crescent Trail consisting of 20 miles at MGP (2:03:30) with a very brief warmup and cool down.

Before this cycle, the longest continuous marathon goal pace effort I had ever completed was 14 miles (consisting of 21 miles total with 14 at goal pace) and I'm convinced that the increased volume at goal pace was the single biggest factor contributing to my PR at CIM. While 14 at MGP is nothing to sneeze at, for me, it was a bridge too far from 26.2 -- in my experience, you need to build up to 16 or more miles at MGP to simulate the stress of the marathon and practice concentrating for the extended period of time that it takes to complete this distance. I'm no expert, but if you are considering incorporating these sorts of long, Canova-style tempos into your plan, I have three observations.

The first is that these efforts will eat up a big chunk of recovery time and will require a training plan that affords a high degree of flexibility. Although you can be sure that you won't be at Workout Wednesday after one of these big tempos, one cannot predict with any degree of certainty how long it will take to recover. You need to play it by ear and get back to it when the time is right, whenever that may be: I blocked off on my calendar an entire week after the long run so as not to tempt myself to do a workout too soon just because it was on the schedule. Because of the long recovery times, a runner needs to resign himself to the fact that there will be large gaps in the training log and that he will not be doing much speed work while doing these marathon-specific runs. Although I had to go long periods with little or no time on the track, I found that doing 8-10 strides once or twice a week helped to maintain turnover while not taxing me as much as traditional speed work. The second thing I learned is that I'm not really capable of just waking up and grinding out 20 miles at goal pace; rather, I had to treat these efforts as races, including a mini-taper for three days leading up to the weekend. My run on September 29 was during an actual race, which helped keep me focused. And Dickson Mercer ran the back half of the November 2 run with me which helped me to focus and pretend I was in a race situation. Finally, when you have a training strategy that hinges on just a handful of runs, you need to really nail each one. And to do that requires a fair amount of luck in terms of conditions and health because there isn't much room in the calendar for do-overs.

In addition to the marathon pace runs, I did a handful of efforts at closer to my threshold pace, which I think built some strength. Coach Jerry oversaw a couple of 5-mile tempo runs at half marathon pace on the track and on November 16 I ran the Richmond Half Marathon in 1:16:21, thereby setting a PR that had stood for 2.5 years. It's been my experience that a good half marathon does not tell you much about how you will feel at mile 19 of a full, but Richmond gave me some confidence and provided an indication that my marathon goal pace was sufficiently below my threshold to be realistic.   

Race strategy: negative splits
In a few previous marathons, my strategy was to get out quick and hold on for dear life during the last 10k. The authorities that I've read differ on the most efficient pacing strategy. Pfitzinger and Douglas recommend generally even pacing with a slightly positive split: "your running economy will tend to decrease slightly during the race . . . The result is that your optimal pace will be slightly reduced during the latter states of the marathon. . . If you ran negative splits for the marathon, chances are that you ran more slowly than optimally during the first half of the race and could have had a faster finishing time." Noakes, on the other hand, says "you should never listen to those who advocate that you must run the first half of an race faster so that you will have spare time to cushion your reduced pace in the second half. My personal advice is that you should always aim to run [negative splits]. This gives the impression that you are running much faster than you really are." See Tim Noakes, The Lore of Running, 4th ed. (Human Kinetics 2003). Before CIM, Coach Jerry advised shooting for a negative split by starting out a little easier, sinking into race pace during the first few miles, and then maintaining that pace to the finish. I know people who have had success with different strategies, but I am sure that negative splits were the right call for me. I went through the half in 1:21:37 and 20 miles at 2:04:07. I closed in 12:06, the fastest two miles of the race. Having had a number of prior blowups at around mile 22, I think that holding back early and picking it up around mile 18 is a pretty good way to run a race. It's been my experience that I can summon more determination when I'm running well late in the race but still holding it together than I can when I'm far ahead of PR pace at mile 20 but struggling not to hemorrhage too much time over the final 10k. This is especially true because people like me with limited leg speed have much less margin for pacing error in a marathon than guys or women who can run a blazing 5k. Even assuming that positive splits are the most efficient strategy from a physiological standpoint (which Noakes disputes), the marathon is not a purely physical event and it felt great to be on PR pace at mile 22 while passing other runners.

Every once in a while, lightening strikes
Looking back, I'm confident that I made a number of tweaks from previous cycles that helped put me in a position to run a PR. But more than anything, I was just "on" this time around (the goal pace work helped, but one still needs to be running well to complete these workouts). The last time that I was able to nail every workout for weeks on end was the winter and spring of 2011. I had just started training with GRC and was able to hang with the B group at BCC almost every Wednesday night (which doesn't happen all that often). In March of 2011, I ran a huge PR at the National Half Marathon. That PR stood for two and a half years, during which I did not so much as come within 90 seconds of my time until setting a new PR at Richmond on November 16. For two and a half years, I tried everything to break the PR that I set at the National Half, including attempts to recreate the buildup that yielded it. And I nearly resigned myself to the notion that I had realized my full potential at the 2011 National Half Marathon. Sure, I had races during that time period where things outside of my control made a PR impossible -- heat, injury, illness, wind and breeze, etc. But I also had a number of golden opportunities -- perfect weather on fast courses preceded by weeks of injury-free hard training -- on which, for whatever reason (lack of effort not among them), I didn't capitalize.

Then comes a season like this when, after two and a half years, I set a new half marathon PR at Richmond and had a breakthrough at CIM. Why did everything fall into place this cycle, when so many others yielded lackluster results? I have no idea other than to say that things just "clicked" this time around. Hard work, flat courses, and perfect conditions are not guarantors of success in this unfair sport. This cycle gave me an appreciation for the vastness of the constellation of variables -- tangible and intangible, within your control or otherwise -- that must align to run a great race. When I think about all that must go right and all that can go wrong, two and a half years is not a long time to wait for a breakthrough on the roads. If my next banner season doesn't come until the middle of 2016, I will count myself very lucky.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Top Women's Times in 2013

Below is how the women of GRC fared in 2013:

1500 meters
1. Hilary May - 4:32.1 - Hopkins Loyola Invitational  *CLUB RECORD*
2. Susan Hendrick - 4:37.1 - Maryland Twilight  *#2 GRC ALL TIME*
3. Avril Kaplan - 4:43.3 - Maryland Twilight  *#3 GRC ALL TIME*

1. Avril Kaplan - 5:06.6 - MCRRC Midsummer Nights Mile *GRC CLUB RECORD*
2. Susan Hendrick - 5:07 - Loudon Country Street Mile *#2 GRC ALL TIME*

3,000 meters
1. Hilary May - 9:52.9 - Columbia Last Chance  *GRC CLUB RECORD*
2. Susan Hendrick - 10:03.1 - Princeton Sam Howell Invite *#2 GRC ALL TIME*
3. Catherine Campbell - 10:06 - Princeton Sam Howell Invite *#3 GRC ALL TIME*

5,000m (track)
1. Hilary May - 16:56.2 - Raleigh Relays  *GRC CLUB RECORD*
2. Catherine Campbell - 17:08 - Raleigh Relays *#2 GRC ALL TIME*
3. Beth Young - 17:41 - Raleigh Relays

5k (road)
1. Kerry Allen - 17:58 - Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot
2. Catherine Campbell - 18:01 - Kirby's 5k
3. Maura Carroll - 18:05 - St. Rita's 5k

8k/5 Miles
1. Lindsay O’Brien - 28:43 - St. Patricks Day 8k  *#3 GRC ALL TIME*
2. Catherine Campbell - 28:47 - St. Patricks Day 8k  *#4 GRC ALL TIME*
3. Laura O'Hara - 29:35 - St. Patricks Day 8k

10k (road)
1. Lindsay O’Brien - 34:38 - Pikes Peak 10k  *GRC CLUB RECORD*
2. Maura Carroll - 36:28 - Pikes Peak 10k
3. Beth Young - 36:36 - Run for the Parks 10k

10 Miles
1. Lindsay O’Brien - 57:47 - Broad Street Run *GRC CLUB RECORD*
2. Beth Young - 59:30 - Army Ten Miler *#5 GRC ALL TIME*
3. Julie Tarallo - 1:01:02 - Army Ten Miler

13.1 Miles
1. Beth Young - 1:18:36 - Philadelphia Rock 'n' Roll Half *#3 GRC ALL TIME*
2. Lindsay O'Brien - 1:18:53 - Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half *#4 GRC ALL TIME*
3. Drea Garvue - 1:19:20 - Phoenix Half

26.2 Miles
1. Beth Young - 2:49:30 - Eugene 2013 *#2 GRC ALL TIME*
2. Teal Connor - 2:52:35 - Boston 2013 *#3 GRC ALL TIME*
3. Julie Tarallo - 2:52:50 - Boston 2013 *#4 GRC ALL TIME*