Saturday, January 25, 2014
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
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.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
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.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
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.
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
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.
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...
Monday, January 13, 2014
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:
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.
LDO continued a powerful spring with a PR at the Broad Street Run, breaking the only long-standing team record this year.
Drea left us for Seattle, and her fiance Paul.
In cooler environs, Evan ran a PR (2:30:42) at the Twin Cities Marathon, don’t you know?
The team did well internationally, withDutch Paul Zwama debut in the marathon at 2:22:17 in Holland and Nina Bekelmans' lucrative third place finish in a Jordanian 10k.
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.
In Alexandria, Luke Meyer finished among the professionals at the USATF 12k Road Racing Championships.Viking showed up and ran really well, too.
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.
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.
Friday, January 3, 2014
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
Below is how the women of GRC fared in 2013: