Tuesday, April 24, 2018

2018 CORVALLIS HALF MARATHON RACE REPORT

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted, I was waiting for the photos to be posted and they took forever to come back! Anyways, onward! In the days leading up to this race I was pretty anxious and excited. I knew it would be a good test of my abilities and whether or not I was making any real progress. The conditions during Miami weren't really fair, so I was eager to see if I could beat my Holiday Half time and prove to myself that I was making progress, even if it didn't feel like it at times.

PRE-RACE PREP

Early on in the race.
As I noted in the preview, the race didn't start until 9:30. Thank goodness! I still had to wake up at 7 and boogie out of my house at 7:30, but honestly that's not bad at all. Once summer hits and races locally are starting at 8 at the latest, that is the case even if it is right down the street. I stopped at the grocery store real quick to get an energy drink and a donut, the race breakfast of champions! The goal was not to be a spouting fountain of urine like coffee can do, so I figured a more compact drink would be a good choice. I've had this combo before and it usually works out well.

I made good time to Corvallis and rolled in there about 8:45. On my way there, the further south I got, the harder the rain was. I was definitely driving into the storm. The forecast showed a good chance of precipitation, however, it can be hard to tell what exactly that is going to look like. Sometimes the forecast for off and on sprinkles and steady rain can look the same. 70% chance of what? Anyways, the closer I got to Corvallis, the harder the rain was and the darker the clouds were. I was mentally prepared to run in the rain though, so that wasn't going to stop me. As soon as the race started I knew I wouldn't really care about it.

After parking at Reser Stadium, where the race would start, I wandered toward packet pickup, umbrella in hand. That process was pretty smooth and then almost immediately I had the urge to "go" - which was awesome! Usually I don't have any issues during the race even though my body rarely cooperates like that, but it was still a nice mental relief to have that done and not have to worry about it. While other runners were huddling for shelter under the stands at Reser I went back to my car and chilled until 9:20, at which time I wandered to the start line.

FANTASTIC FIRST FIVE (8:16, 8:14, 8:16, 8:18, 8:30)

Sufficiently wet.
The race started on the field at Reser Stadium, which was cool. Again, I would have much rather finished there, but this worked too. The OSU Marching Band was there to play some tunes to get us pumped up, including the OSU Fight Song. Excellent. Anyways, after the national anthem, the race was about to begin. My friend Glenn found me in the chute and we exchanged wishes of good luck. I lined up halfway between the 8 minute and 9 minute sign, reflecting my desired pace.

Once the race started we had to run immediately up a small ramp out of the stadium and onto the adjoining street. Not an issue on fresh legs! After that ramp the race was given full right of way on the roads so there was plenty of room to stretch my legs. Crowding was not an issue at all. I settled into what I thought was the appropriate half marathon pace. Upon checking my watch, I would find my pace being somewhere between 8:05 and 8:10. I couldn't believe it - it felt so easy! I purposely tried to slow myself down, knowing that wouldn't be sustainable. While I still ran it too fast, it was a good sign it felt so easy. If you start a half marathon and the pace feels hard at the beginning... you are in for a world of hurt.

The first four and a half miles are pretty dang flat. A couple minor bumps but nothing major. I was able to get into a nice rhythm. I knew the pace I was running probably wasn't sustainable, I didn't have visions of averaging 8:20, but I knew it wasn't tragically fast. Again, in a half marathon you can get away with running a little too fast in the beginning. Marathon, no way, but in this race, I knew even if my pace fell to 9:00 toward the end, I would have built up enough of a cushion to still hit my goal. There was a decent, but brief, hill around mile 4.5 which is why that mile was a little slower. Rain at this point was moderate and I was definitely wet.

MIDDLING MIDDLE MILES (8:57, 7:56, 8:22, 8:31, 8:43)

This bridge is actually around mile 11.
Alright, now was the time for the real test, the big hill! Honestly, it wasn't bad at all. It was pretty gradual, even more so than the Shamrock Run, so I just kept a consistent effort and plugged my way up it. You could definitely see the road rising in the distance but it wasn't a hill that totally pooped you out. Toward the end of the hill mile (it basically ended right at the mile six marker) I looked at my watch and noticed I was right on a 9:00/mile pace. I pressed a bit to get it below 9. Now, if I could hold on the rest of the way under 9, I would have another feather in my cap, as during the Holiday Half my final few were above that mark.

After the uphill mile was a completely downhill mile. Basically the same thing I did just in reverse. I didn't look at my watch once during this mile and just let my body dictate the pace. I knew if I got too focused on a certain time and pushed myself I could blow out my legs. So steady as she goes, even effort. It was the perfect kind of downhill, gradual, so it gave you extra speed but didn't hit your knees too hard. I was very pleased when my watch beeped and I saw I went below 8. Excellent! The question now would be what my legs felt like after going up and down that hill. When would the race start catching up with me?

As you can see, I nearly resumed my previous pace once things flattened back out. However, I definitely could feel the miles accumulating and my legs tiring a bit. The next couple of miles included some minor uphills, and that coupled with the building fatigue led to the 8:31 and 8:43. Still pretty good though! 8:43 was still below my "A" goal pace! During this time a man was pacing right behind me, I could hear him breathing pretty well. After about a mile he says "sorry, I'm not stalking you, you are just running the perfect pace," haha. Eventually he ran past me. Rain at this point was steady and hard. Totally soaked, head to toe.

ENDURING ENDING EXHAUSTION (8:40, 8:47, 8:51)

Must... finish... strong...
Okay, these alliterations are really becoming a stretch. I was definitely tired at this point. The minor, rolling ups and downs of the Bald Peak Natural Area seemed to take the final bounce out of my legs. It made sense. Thirteen miles right now is my limit. During most of my training I ran ten on the weekends, and threw in a twelve here and there. This is not like when I run a half during marathon training and thirteen is no big deal! So, despite my legs tiring, I was determined to finish strong. These final three miles were very gently downhill, I never really noticed it, so I made a goal of finishing them all under 9:00 mile.

My body was screaming at me to walk, but I ignored it. I've been through much worse and kept running. Just keep chugging Thomas. The rain at some point had LET LOOSE. It was seriously like a tropical thunderstorm, only there was no lightning and it was 45 degrees. You could see the rain hitting the ground and bouncing back into the air. The sound of the rain was almost deafening. It was crazy. Definitely the worst weather I have raced in. But you know what? It was fucking fun! I was already a drowned rat, so bring it on! Made you feel alive, running in that weather, and it was definitely memorable!

Overall, these miles were a slog but doable. My cardio felt great, that wasn't holding me back at all, it was all the conditioning in my legs. Again, thirteen miles is a stretch, but it was doable. I had to watch check a little in that last mile to make sure it was below nine, but otherwise I just kept my head down and ground it out. Unlike five years ago, where you were a couple blocks from the finish line but they routed you around to add an extra mile, this year the finish was pretty direct. You saw it and you ran toward it, right oustide Gill Coliseum next to Reser Stadium. I finished that final tenth of a mile at an 8:06 pace, so my legs weren't completely dead. A couple pumps of the fist and I was through the finish line. 1:51:30 on my watch! Holy hell! I blew it out of the water!

AFTERWARD ACTIVITIES

Steps from the finish and a PAPR!
Even though I drank at every aid station along the way, I chugged a bottle of water as soon as I finished. I was thirsty! I also wandered around and ate a couple chunks of a bagel. I was going to wait for my friend Glenn to finish, but I was so wet and it was pretty cold... I knew within a few minutes my core temperature would begin to drop drastically. No beer garden for me this year, and I'm going to bet they had a lot leftover!

I hurried toward the car and along the way I definitely started to get cold. It was still pouring. In a brilliant flash of foresight, I didn't bring a change of clothes or even a towel. So once I got to the car I just blasted the heat as high it would go. It would have to do. I texted Glenn to say I was sorry I couldn't wait for him, then headed out of town. Along the way I stopped at Dairy Queen and got a Bacon Cheeseburger. Yum!

The drive home was pretty uneventful. NPR and the heat so hot the LCD panel on my dashboard started to freak out. Good times. I was home shortly after 1:00pm and all told my legs felt pretty good. Definitely worn, but I was able to go up and down stairs without too much complaint. Took a long bath and then had a lazy Sunday before going to a birthday celebration for my aunt. More guilt-free food was consumed there. In the days after the race my legs were somewhat sore but nothing out of the usual. I am getting faster despite not focusing on speed and my legs are feeling back to normal - very encouraging! A very enjoyable and memorable race, despite the weather, and it felt good to finish cap the training cycle by smashing my goal.

Official Chip Time: 1:51:27, 8:31/mile. 206/958 overall, 147/458 male, 24/56 M30-34.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2018 CORVALLIS HALF MARATHON RACE PREVIEW


I can't believe it has been FIVE years since I last ran this race! Crazy. In 2013 I had a great race and ended up with my first sub 1:40! Looking back, it was actually my second ever half marathon. So much has happened since then! Anyways, I'm looking forward to going back. I had been meaning to do this race just about every year since and even signed up once but had to give my entry away to Alejandro. Finally, I'll be back in Corvegas and ready to rumble!

Thankfully the half marathon doesn't start until 9:30am. You hear that all other races? Quite the reasonable hour! Unfortunately, since Corvallis is nearly 90 minutes away, I'll probably be leaving around 7:30am or so. Still, could be a lot worse. The weather for race day isn't looking so great. Right now it is predicting showers and mid-40s for temperature. I'm sure it will be fine once we get going, but waiting around in that and the first mile or two might suck. Saturday is supposed to be dry and low 50s. That would have been perfect. There is still time for the weather to shift, but even if the forecast stays the same it shouldn't be too terrible.

When I looked up the course for this year I thought "Wow, it's almost exactly the same as five years ago!" until I realized we are actually running the course backwards from when I first ran it. So that will be interesting. The good news is that the finishing three miles now are generally downhill. Not much, 110 feet down over three miles, but hopefully enough to make a difference. Otherwise, the major climb remains in about the same place, halfway through the course, just going the other way. 140 feet over 1.2 miles. Not too terrible, much better than Shamrock, that's for sure. There's another hill of 100 feet over 1.5 miles, but not too much later after that. Hills of any significance are done after mile 9.

One of the major differences is that the race will START in Reser Stadium instead of end inside of it. It ends on the road right outside. That's kind of a bummer. It was fun to run down the ramp into the stadium and cross the finish at the 50 yard line. I'll miss that for sure. Don't know why they couldn't run us back into the stadium to finish. We're right there! And obviously accessing the stadium isn't an issue if we are starting there. Whatever. It'll be fun to be back either way.

As for my goals.. I am still not entirely sure what I am capable of. I know what a half pace should feel like, I just have no idea what pace that will be come race day. I did just do a tempo run last week and ended up at 8:36 over three miles. I'm pretty sure I can't maintain that pace over ten additional miles. The question is, how much slower do I have to go? Back in the day my half pace was usually just a hair higher than my average tempo run, so I'm right in that Holiday Half territory I believe.

"A" Goal: A new PAPR (post-arthritis PR)! This would be 1:56:33, or 8:53/mile or less. On a good day, I know this is possible. This would be pretty sweet and encouraging. My focus since this race has been building miles, not getting faster, but still, I feel like I should be faster after five months!

"B" Goal: 1:59:59 or less. Gotta be in "ONE"derland. This is 9:09/mile or less. I'm going to be pretty disappointed if my time starts with a 2. I was really feeling it during the Holiday Half and maybe Corvallis won't be my day, but dammit, I need sub 2.

"C" Goal: 2:06:17 or less. This is 9:39/mile. If I can't beat my Miami time from January then I quit running.

Monday, April 02, 2018

TWENTY SEVEN

Weekly mileage since December 2016.
That is the number of miles I ran this week. It was my first week over 20 in five weeks. Now, if I were coaching someone, I would absolutely not tell anyone to go from the high teens to 27 in one week. However, I've been running for over six years so I am pretty sure I can get away with it. Nothing these old legs haven't seen before. I really wanted to start running four days a week and the weather cooperated so getting out there wasn't too hard. I even ran 12 miles on Saturday to get ready for the Corvallis Half Marathon in two weeks. I'll taper next week and then look to get back to sub 2 halves in my long awaited return to that race.

One major thing I wanted to test this week was running on sore legs. I've been avoiding that due to my association of it with my arthritis flaring. However, now that my arthritis is being treated and near remission, I needed to test it out again. When I am marathon training I'll be running on sore legs many times. So last Tuesday I ran with Sunstone on tired legs after 10 and 5 the Saturday and Monday before. I'm happy to report my legs responded like they used to; well, before the arthritis that is. After a mile or two they warmed up and the run felt pretty great. It was even a killer hill route. The next day they even felt pretty good; mostly I could just feel soreness going up stairs.

My next test was playing soccer the day after my 12 mile run on Saturday. Soccer has long been a nemesis for my knees. I haven't been able to play it appropriately since before the arthritis crept in years ago. Even when my knees were feeling okay, when I went to play soccer, I was reminded that they weren't normal. Even when I could run just fine, soccer was a whole different level. Well, I'm VERY happy to report that soccer felt normal. I could kick the shit out of the ball with ZERO complaints. It felt good to go out there and seemingly have no restrictions... another step forward!

Anyways, between this and the weather finally starting to turn (as long as I don't look at the current 10 day) I'm feeling pretty positive. I ran the most miles in a week since my arthritis flared up, played soccer without issue, ran the Shamrock way faster than I thought I could... everything is going pretty well! A far cry from hobbled and broken Thomas in late 2016. Hopefully I can continue feeling better and strong the year progresses and I eventually start training for the marathon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I'M IN!

Marine Corp Marathon course map. Click to embiggen.
Alright, I finally have a target marathon this fall! After a couple of failed attempts to get into Chicago and New York, I have secured a spot in the 2018 Marine Corp Marathon (MCM)! So late this October I'll be packing my bags and flying to Washington DC to make my marathon comeback - three years in the making. I'm actually pretty excited! I feel comfortable enough with my progress that running a marathon definitely seems like an attainable goal at this point.

As I've mentioned, the MCM has implemented a lottery system. It used to be the first 30,000 to sign up got in, but after it became so popular and the spots were gone within hours of registration opening, they implemented this lottery system. The odds are fairly good, certainly much better than New York or Chicago. However, I didn't have to enter the lottery. Why? Well, I knew the lottery was open from 3/21 to 3/28. I had checked every few weeks just to assure myself. Well, a few days before the lottery opened I checked to make sure once again. And upon this visit of the website a new option appeared... "rush registration." Apparently the first 11,000 people to sign up the morning of 3/21 would automatically get in!

I guess they snuck this option on the website about a week or so before it opened up. They expected it to sell out within 25 minutes and from what I can tell that's exactly what happened. It opened up at 6am Pacific on 3/21, and if you know me, I'm not a morning person. So what did I do? I enlisted a generous East Coast friend (thanks Jon!) to sign up for me. So I woke up at 8:30am with a spot secured. That was easy! I'm in! No need for a lottery or anything. My friend ran the 17.75k over there a few weeks ago to secure his spot, so I'll actually have a friend at the race to run it with. Wohoo!

Now that the mystery of where is solved, I can start focusing on my training. I probably don't have to start ramping up my training until the beginning of June... that would give me five months to get ready. More than enough time for someone like me who is in half marathon shape. So until that point, I'm just going to keep staying in half shape and try to generally increase my mileage. Instead of 4-5-3-10 weeks, I need to try and establish 5-7-4-13 type weeks. My body is currently used to around 15-20 miles a week (mostly because I've only been going out 3 times a week). So I hope to get out there 4 times a week and gradually move the needle toward the mid twenties in terms of mileage. That will be a good leaping off point into marathon training.

So that's the update! I think I'll really like this race... lots of other runners and lots of sights to be seen along the way. One thing I really need to do is try and adjust my sleep schedule before this race. I cannot go out there with my body used to sleep at 3am Eastern. Really need to dedicate myself to that this time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

2018 SHAMROCK RUN 15K RACE REPORT

Lining up, taken through Ziploc bag. This wasn't actually our start line, we had to walk forward and do a 180... ours is the
one you see in the distance to the left of us, so we started by running toward the camera here.
There is nothing like the home bed/timezone/climate advantage. What a stark difference from the Miami Half Marathon this race ended up being! This was one of those rare races where everything fell into place, felt easier than it should have been, and blew my expectations out of the water. With Daylight Saving Time now in full effect and better weather hopefully on the way, I'm feeling much better about this whole running thing now.

Thankfully the 15k didn't start until 8:55am this year, so I didn't have to wake up too early. I got a decent amount of sleep, probably seven hours, and then headed downtown at 8:00am. I was thinking about taking the MAX like usual, however, now that they've rearranged the courses to only use Naito downtown, it really opened up a ton of parking garages. No more getting stuck for hours like what happened to Katie and I back in 2016! So downtown it was, parking at a garage about eight blocks away from the start line and getting there with plenty of time to spare. Easy peasy!

Sporting my now traditional Shamrock outfit.
I felt really calm before this race. Time wise I know I am slower than I used to be, so I don't feel a huge pressure there, and distance wise I knew I could handle the 9.32 miles. Hell, I wasn't even too worried about the hills. I've done them before and I could do them again. The only thing I was slightly worried about what the amount of coffee I had before the run... probably a good pint or so. Was I in for pee city? The last time I drank so much coffee before a race was the Half Boring Half, and I smashed my expectations there but I had to pee a lot. So I was just hoping my bladder would hold out (it did).

Getting in the chute was much easier than previous years. I had no problem finding a gap in the fencing and everyone in there seemed to be more spread out so it was easy to move to the appropriate pacing. I worked my way forward until I was behind the 9-10 minute sign, which might have been a little slow, but I didn't want to get roped into running faster than I should have. The weather this year was great... sun breaks, little wind, and mid-40s. Perfect racing weather really. I decided to ditch my gloves and beanie in the car and was glad I did, as I was perfectly comfortable without them.

UPHILL ADVENTURES (8:20, 8:43, 8:39, 9:30)

Just moments after starting!
As I detailed in the preview, the Shamrock 15k course is now run backwards in regards to its historical direction. So instead of flying to the finish on the gentle, constant downhill of Barbur, you start by running up it. I tried not to look at my watch and just went by feel. I'm a grizzled vet by now, so I know what a 15k pace should feel like. I was surprised as all get out when my first mile came in at 8:20. I ended up having to weave around some people too based on my starting position, so overall I was feeling good and doing well.

However, I knew it was a long race so I just kept going by feel and only occasionally looked at my watch. The beginning part of that first mile was flat and the race adrenaline was pumping so I had to make sure I didn't go crazy. What I didn't anticipate was how good those uphills were going to feel. I was worried about doing them under 10:00/mile, and it turns out that was no issue. They are gentle uphills for the first three miles, so if you have any sort of hill shape and adjust your pace accordingly, you can zip up them pretty easily. Honestly, they didn't feel that hard. I've done Bald Peak and Zena enough times to know these hills are in the minor leagues.

So when 8:43 and 8:39 miles beeped on my watch, I was pretty excited. If I was able to do the uphills at a pace faster than my overall goal pace it meant I had a chance to really smash my expectations. However, I knew there would be a sharp uphill at some point because I remember running down it in previous years. And sure enough, there it was, looming before us. I knew it would be short though and it was the finale of the uphill, so get up it and you're pretty much done.

That 9:30 mile included a good amount of time at 10:45 huffing and puffing up a steep incline. My body was screaming to walk but I was still easily passing all the people walking. I'll walk if a brisk walk isn't much faster than a jog, which definitely happens on some uphills and can actually be smart in terms of saving yourself for later in the race. However, I just kept my even energy output, chugged up, and got it over with. My hill training really came in handy, because not only was I able to scale it without too much issue, I was also able to recover pretty quickly and move on with the race.


DOWNHILL(ISH) TO THE FINISH (7:53, 7:56, 8:02, 8:08, 7:43)

Chugga chugga choo choo!
Finally, my reward... downhill miles! The bagpipers were at the top at the Chart House again, so that was a welcome auditory signal that the elevation had been conquered. The downhill direction on Terwillager isn't quite as good with this course arrangement, as it's a little steeper and has breaks of flat and even slightly uphill. My main concern was that my legs would be trashed from the uphill, but I was pleasantly surprised at how they reacted to the downhill. I felt strong! I was hoping to hit these under 8:00/mile and that's exactly what I did. My breathing was comfortable and all told I really felt good.

There were two miles of pretty much nothing but downhill and those clocked in at 7:53 and 7:56. The 8:02 mile include about a half mile of downhill, a flat portion, and a quarter mile of uphill. At the Duniway track they now route you back onto Barbur for a long out and back to get the mileage in. About halfway into this out and back you hook into Barbur where you came from downtown, so you're retracing your steps a little. At one point there were three lanes of traffic, halfers heading up, 15kers headed up again, and 15kers going down to the finish. It was pretty creative of them! When the 15k finally turned downtown toward the finish you were in the middle of the three lanes smugly looking at all the idiots running uphill on either side of you.

Not quite as excited as the other guy.
Luckily, on this smaller uphill portion, I still felt spunky and was able to resume my same uphill pace as before. The 8:08 mile ended up being about half up and half down. Once the out and back was over, it was all downhill on Barbur to Naito for that classic Shamrock finish. I started to fly (at least for me now). 7:43 mile nine (included beer "aid station" stop) and 7:21 pace for that final third of a mile. By this time I had assumed I'd get a sub 1:20 but I never paged over on my watch to see my overall pace or time. I wanted it to be a surprise. Rolling into the finish, I finally switched over and was blown away with what I saw. 1:16 and sub 8:20? No way!

FINISH LINE AND AFTER PARTY

I felt great at the finish line. Exhausted, yes, but my body and legs felt good. Worn, but good. My energy level between this and Miami was like night and day. The first thing I wanted to get, after my medal, was a water. The only fluids I had on the run was that 3oz cup of beer a mile from the finish line (a YOLO last second decision which I don't regret). There were plenty of aid stations, but honestly, when it is the mid-40s out, you don't need fluids for a 15k. Hell, even a half you're probably fine. However, once I found the water I sucked a bottle down because I was definitely thirsty.

Another Shamrock 15k complete!
I then wandered toward the beer garden, at least, wandered toward where I thought the beer garden should be. I was a little confused at the lack of people and it wasn't until I hit the Saturday Market that I realized I went the wrong way. So another eight blocks or so to retrace my steps and I finally found it. Bastards put it on the other side of the festival this year. Anyways, no Brandon this year, so I was able to partake in the post-game festivities. I couldn't enjoy it too much though, as I did promise Brandon I'd go to his soccer game and I had to leave pretty quickly in order to make the kickoff. So I drank my beer, ate my soup from Bob's Red Mill (delicious!) and then headed off.

Getting out of the parking garage was a breeze. Definitely an upgrade over the MAX. Same price, $5, and way quicker and more convenient. As long as they keep these same routes, I think that will be the plan in the future. Overall, I felt great. I absolutely shattered my expectations and ran faster than I thought possible. While it was technically a PW, it wasn't too far off from not being a PW. Certainly gave me a bump of confidence after struggling through the winter feeling like I hadn't made much progress!

Official Results: 1:16:44, 8:13/mile. 582/3516 overall, 450/1626 male, 93/257 M30-34.

Friday, March 16, 2018

2018 SHAMROCK RUN 15K RACE PREVIEW

New route as of last year.
Well, this Sunday the Shamrock Run is upon me once more. I've ran this race ever year since I started running, dating back to 2012. So this will be my SEVENTH year running this thing. Crazy to think about; it doesn't feel like it's been that long since I started running. It will also be my fifth time running the 15k. I will never run the half marathon, I detailed why in this blog post, so barring injury or feeling the need to mix things up, I hope to be in the 15k yearly for many years to come.

Last year I had just been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and was only two weeks into treatment. I ran the 8k with Brandon and was actually able to finish it at 10:20/mile without stopping. It was a pretty good accomplishment at the time! This year, however, it is back to the 15k and a chance to set my PW. How bad will it get? We'll just have to wait and see! I'll be able to finish it, no problem. Obviously I did the Miami Half not too long ago and I've been keeping up the weekday and weekend runs. This last weekend I did 10 miles at 9:15/mile pace and felt pretty strong.

Some things have changed since the last time I ran the Shamrock Run 15k. They are still doing the modified courses they instituted last year due to the police staffing shortage. I really liked the previous route, not only did it mostly stick to the course of the historical Cascade Run Off, it broke the run into easy thirds. The first three miles were flat, the middle three were uphill, and the final three were downhill. With the changed course, you are basically running in the opposite direction. Instead of going up Terwillager and down Barbur, you run up Barbur and go down Terwillager. However, the course doesn't quite break down into easy thirds like before. The first three are uphill, the next three are generally downhill, and the final three are generally flat,but there is some variation in those final six.

I don't feel like I've gotten much faster since last fall. Honestly, I can't complain about it that much, I am not doing any targeted speedwork on purpose. I'm just trying to get my mileage up and see if I am able to build to a marathon again. If I can, then maybe next year I can think about getting faster. However, the meantime, I am kind of stuck where I am. So I have to set my expectations accordingly. I think the Holiday Half was my current "peak" of fitness, I don't believe I am any faster, so I can kind of set my "A" goals by extrapolating from that.

This race is shorter than the Holiday Half by four miles but is also much hillier. The first three miles uphill are going to be killer. Which is kind of why I am thinking a pace right around the Holiday Half pace is a good target to go for. I am hoping I can do the uphill around 10:00/mile for those three miles. If I can do that, then the rest of the race I need to average 8:20/mile to get my overall pace at 8:50/mile, which is around the Holiday Half pace. Hopefully I can go below 8:00 on the downhill parts and then manage 8:40 or so on the flat stuff. We'll see.

Anyways, I'm just going to try my best and whatever it ends up being, I'll be happy with that. Still just glad I am out there running pain free.

GOALS:

"A" GOAL: 1:22:48 or quicker. This is 8:53/mile, which is my Holiday Half pace. Everything seemed to go right that day, so if I am able to match that pace on this hilly course, then I will consider it a victory.

"B" GOAL: Under 1:25. This is 9:07/mile or quicker. I really think I should be able to at least get this time. I just ran 10 miles at 9:15 pace for training. I should be able to get 9:07 in a race, even if it is kind of hilly. Assuming my legs feel decent, this should be an achievable result.

"C" GOAL: Under 1:30. 9:39/mile or quicker. I can only see this coming into play if I absolutely kill myself on the hills and then bonk out. I want something starting with a 1:2X. Anything less is a failure.