Saturday, March 24, 2012

ARR South Mountain 20K Classic Race Report

I ran this race last year knowing that there would be hills, but when I actually encountered them out on the course, it deflated me a bit. I had no strategy for hills and no expectation for having a fun successful race. I finished in 2:12 and change, not too bad at the time. This year, I had expectations to beat that time, and possibly come in sub-2:00.

I got a 2:00:05 on the chip time, and sub 2:00 on my Garmin --Personal Record!

The Boring Runner had advised me to survive the hills as best as I could and attack the downhills to get time back in the bank. The course goes by mentally quick, and the out and back route makes it seem like it's going by even quicker. I was at mile 8 before I really started yearning for finish line, and after mile 9, it eases up a lot. If you aren't familiar with the San Juan South Mountain route, it looks like this
So, up a bit, down down down, then up a bit, then all of it in reverse. The nice part is that you finish on a downhill for about 2 miles, so you get to come through the chute looking good. Last year, the downhills were in the 9:30 range. This year, there were some miles in the 8's, and not so many super slow miles.
Splits were (numbers in parenthesis are the splits from last year):
9:23 (9:40)
10:10 (11:00)
9:38 (10:26)
8:39 (9:20)
8:28 (9:28)
9:32 (10:09)
10:19 (10:59)
10:47 (11:43)
11:43 ouch (12:09)
10:44 (12:15)
8:58 (9:40)
9:10 (9:59)
9:08 final segment (9:16)

A big improvement over last year. I've lost about 18 pounds since Jan. 1 on a sweets-free diet, and have also logged  many more miles per week on average. Last March, I ran 4 times total (including the race) for a total of 30 miles. This March, I have logged almost 90 miles in 15 runs so far, and this will be my first ever +100 mile month.

This event was designed to be a litmus test for the Pasadena 1/2 Marathon in May. My main 2012 running goal is to break 2:00 in the half marathon distance. The Pasadena course hills look like this:

A relatively benign set of hills in the first half of the race, then a monster uphill moving away from the Rose Bowl, and a nice downhill finish. If you have been reading this blog lately, you know that my mind is centering around hills and how to improve on them. Almost all of my runs are on flat roads around here, so when I have to run on real elevated routes, I get a big dose of "I told you so's" from one of my alter egos.
Come on in loonies! Plenty of room in here!
A big thanks to Arizona Road Racers for another well-organized event. As much as I didn't want to face the hills again, this was fun, and I will be back next year to record a time that has "1" as the first number.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Slope = Rise Over Run

This morning's long run made me think about hills that are soul-crushing steep vs. those long slight rises that people in Phoenix refer to as hills. My typical long route starts out very flat, rises slightly over 5 miles, peaks at about the 5 mile mark, descends ever so slightly over the next few miles, and I'm not sure after that because I've only run further a few times and had to retreat to my inner Jeffy safe zone when I did.
Boy ants can carry a lot of... OUCH OWIE OWIE OUCH OUCH OUCH!!!
To put this in perspective, I ran it through the trusty Mapmyrun application and found that the route rises 100 feet between mile 1 and 2 and another 35 feet until it peaks. Not exactly Heartbreak Hill. So why does it seem so ominous when looking up and seeing a steady rising for as far as the eye can see, and, conversely, feeling huge relief when returning and the basking in the feeling that I am in some running dream where all is effortless and fast, the temperature is always around 45 degrees, and the SUAR's of our world only shit in established bathrooms?

I have a 20K race planned for March that includes some of the most challenging hills available in Phoenix at South Mountain park. This 12.4 mile race starts out with 2.5 miles uphill, then goes downhill for a looooong time, and you guessed it, turns around and comes right back up that hill. I ran it last year, and remember walking quite a bit on the uphill while 8 year old kids flew by me pushing double jogging strollers. What ARE they putting in milk these days? My plan this year is to include the race as part of my hill training plan, and to mentally capture a positive hillattitude. My term. Do not try to claim it Nitmos, you already have "Nitmos".

I'm running in the Pasadena 1/2 marathon in May, and there are a couple of doozie hills on the route. You run downhill to to the Rose bowl and then miles 6.5 to 9.5 are right back up that MF'er of a hill. Then the survivors cruise down a slight hill to the finish. So, to do well, I have to practice/train on some hills, and the ones around here are polarized into: long and gradual and short and steep. But they will pretty much prepare me at least mentaly for the challenge. I'm trying to break the 2:00 barrier this year in the Half marathon. My current 1/2 marathon best is 2:10, so if I can cut it down to 2:05 in this race, I'll be well on my way to a sub 2:00 by December. But I have to be ready for the hills.
Pasadena Half Marathon Elevation

Oooohhhh sexy!
My running has been improving since Jan. 1. And except for one "cheat desert", I've been sweets free since the beginning of the year and have lost a whopping 14 pounds. Running seems easier at this weight, and the times are greatly improved. I've also been running more miles than ever and feel pretty good about the progress. My legs are feeling pretty good. Normal wear and tear of 20+ mile weeks, but my toes on the left side are getting trashed again. It's just 2 and 3, and though they look bad, only the second toe hurts when I pee. So, while I have seen major improvements in pace and weekly distances, I need to ensure that I am challenging myself with some hills. What do you do you use to prepare for hills? Is one hill workout per week enough to really get ready? Is it a mental thing? Are safe spankings a part of your "routine"?