Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reflections on Running With the Jets

Official Stats
Time: 1:26:34
Pace: 6:36
Overall: 10th place of 406.
Women: 2nd place of 234.

A few loose thoughts regarding the past weekend's half marathon, and regarding the comments on my recap.

First, I really appreciate every time I receive a comment supporting my race result.  Some of you are over the top nice, but I learned long ago that the best way to react to a compliment is to accept it, so thank you.

Now, I don't really know if anyone actually believes I am as rad of a runner as might be suggested from the number of exclamation points in a congratulatory comment.  In fact, a quick study of every running-blogger race recap will reveal that everyone thinks everyone elses race was incredible/awesome/ amazing/Herculean.  And I can get behind that -- a personal record for time or distance is a Big Freakin Deal no matter who you are.

Where am I going with this....I think I'm trying to walk a fine line between coming across as phonily humble, or rudely ungrateful.  Because what I want to say is that despite the gorgeous time on my Garmin reading 1:26:29, my reflections on this race still have me feeling....unsatisfied.

Hear me out.

I interpreted a couple reactions to my last post to suggest that the fact that my Garmin recorded a "short course" to be a problem.  I don't know whose problem this is.  I did go under one overpass, and my Garmin read 5 seconds shorter than my chip time (1:26:29 v. 1:26:34), making it possible the watch did drop out at some point.  But it still makes this feel like less of an accomplishment, when my 1:30:00 in Oakland was on a course that read 13.35 miles on my Garmin.  If I factor in all these discrepancies in distance, my pace improvement is.....meager.

Maybe my times aren't improving....maybe the races are just getting shorter.

Enough of you agreed that this photo is rad, so I am going to post it on my next 50 posts.  Deal?

Chillin before the race

Next, I am disappointingly not sore.  I say disappointing because for miles 8-through-12 of that race, my legs refused to give me more.  My legs were puttering out.  I thought for sure I had shredded through my muscles giving it all I could.  I thought my hip was dying.  And then I woke up the next morning to learn that as far as my legs were concerned, I had just gone out on a normal Sunday gentle jaunt.

My hip does feel tender.  I am hopeful it will recover on its own by being nice to it.  Sounds like an amateur plan, but I don't visit doctors because I have a 100% record of doctors telling me that as a birth-bearer, I shouldn't run -- stick to gentle activities, like the elliptical. 

But my bigger concern while reflecting on the race at this point is: why do I fade so hard when I feel so good during the first 7 miles?

I want to be stoked about the weekend's race, of course I do.  But I can't help feeling stagnant.  Same old thing: I can easily hang onto a 6:30 pace for 5 miles, maybe a couple more, and then jhdfljaheur.

Well, I randomly flipped to the back of my Runners World desk calendar to find this Racing Tip for the Half Marathon: "Every week should include three types of workouts: speed drills, tempo runs, and your long run.  Speed drills make you faster.  Tempo runs raise your lactate threshold, which will help you maintain a racing pace in the second half of the event..."

I have not had the pleasure of participating in any "tempo runs."  I cannot maintain a racing pace in the second half of a half marathon.

Thanks for the tip, desk calendar!  Now I need to ask you: what distance is appropriate for a tempo run while training for a half?  what about while training for a full?  And does tempo pace mean "Race Pace"?  I can't promise I will adopt the "tempo" into my unscheduled running life, but I may throw it in the mix at some point.

Finally, this post is meant to be reflective.  I'm just pondering.  It's not like I sat around all day wallowing in my post-race thoughts -- I had a busy and invigorating day at work, followed by a spontaneous and fun evening with the Gentleman. 

Now I leave you with a montage of the Famous Stick.  Vote for your favorite if you wish.


  1. I like the glowing #6 photo.

    Don't know much about tempo runs. I accidentally did one or two this year with a running group, it was fun, but just felt like speed work, I didn't feel like slowing down for the other half of the slow "bread"...get it...the speed is the meat in the middle and the slower stuff is the bread. Wish I knew what distance to recommend for optimal half marathon time improvement, I'm curious to see other comments.

  2. Training paces link on Runner's World: http://www.runnersworld.com/cda/trainingcalculator/0,7169,s6-238-277-279-0,00.html

    Plug your latest half distance, enter, go to the Training Paces tab and you'll find your tempo pace. There is also info on the various types of paces and how frequently you should run them.

    Out of curiosity I plugged in your last half time. I don't want to jinx you, but I think you'll meet your goal for CIM. :)

  3. I totally vote for the stick photo with the rad Jesus-halo.

    In case it's in any way useful, a good rule-of-thumb for tempo pace is "as fast as you can run for an hour" or ~25 seconds / mile slower than 5K pace. I think for a lot of people it tends to fall right about halfway between 10K & half marathon pace. 30-40 minutes is plenty to get the lactate threshold benefits.

    Good luck!

  4. Love your blog! I ran the Running with the Jets 5k on Sunday and my time was really fast(for me). I forgot my garmin and really wish I hadn't b/c I too suspect the course was a tad short.
    I've always been told that tempo pace is one you can hold for 1 hour, so I would say however far you can get in that time is the longest the run should be.

  5. Can I just say your frame of mind resembles the way I think almost to a 'T'! I like #2 or 7

  6. I was told tempo is 30 seconds faster than your goal marathon or half marathon pace. I could never really figure that out, since ideally your marathon and half marathon paces aren't the same. I guess it depends on the distance for which you are currently training.

  7. Tempo is a pace you can hold for 45 minutes or so. For the recreational runner, that's usually 10K pace. However, since you likely run a 10K in like 40 minutes, your tempo pace might be a smidge slower than your 10K pace.

    I am also very guilty of the "great fade" in the second half.

  8. The wonderful thing about running is that it gives us so much to ponder and doubt. Am I doing THIS right, or THIS wrong? You are a runner, so telling you not to think about this too much is like telling grass not to grow. The VDOT tables I sent you a link to have a slightly different way of splitting up your weekly training, and I like the variety. But I'm lazy and just go along with the weekly track workouts and call it good.

    I wouldn't put too much faith in your Garmin. Mine lost its signal in the big trees at Humbolt and didn't measure .75 of a mile or something but it's a certified course so I trust it was accurate.

  9. While I don't think the fact that your Garmin registered the course as short detracts from your achievement, I do understand the focus on numbers, and them 'needing' to be correct in your mind. I would be annoyed too if my Garmin said something was short, and probably try to keep moving until it read 13.1 or more because I'm compulsive like that :P I did do a 10 mile race that came up as 9.78, but that was a trail race/assault course and for some reason that didn't bother me so much.

    I 'just run' and never do tempos etc. I used to, but after my stress fractures I've been too scared to really push things on training runs, because both of them occurred during tempos. I also never really properly understood the concept to begin with!


  10. Tempo runs...ugh.

    Re: the Garmin discrepancies. I know it's frustrating, but I would try to let it go and just take the performance for what it is. Back in the dark ages (a.k.a. five years ago, before everyone had a GPS on their wrist) it wouldn't have even been an issue...ya know?

  11. Those things are confusing to me too. I used the FIRST method which is basically those three kinds of runs each week. So here is the schedule for the half: http://www2.furman.edu/sites/first/Documents/Half%20Marathon%20Training%20Program%20-%20metric.pdf It might at least give you some ideas on where to start. It's also only in km so I hope you can do math or own a calculator.

  12. AMAZING race!! going out fast is so fun...until you realize you went out a little too fast ;) I can't help but start out with the speedy boys in the beginning too! I have missed reading about your amazing running!! I hope all is well! xoxo!

  13. Yay!!! Ask and you shall receive! Hahaha. I like photo #2 best. It just does it for me. Ask the Gentleman if he'll do 15 different versions of a photo of me next. Thanks.

    I think I can totally relate to how you are feeling about the race. I know it has nothing to do with running, but the only thing I can really compare it to in my life is cooking. Sometimes after cooking for a group of people who say it was good or great even, I still am left feeling dissatisfied for one reason or another. It's totally normal to judge your performance more harshly than others. Just don't get down on yourself too much because you are an amazing runner and should feel very proud of how well you do in all your races!!!

  14. I just read in Runner's World (Dec. issue) that your tempo run should be up to half of the racing distance. Nothing more. I'm going to try a tempo run tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

  15. Didn't you know that you're not allowed to be unhappy with something you did well? Sorry.

    There's a better way to phrase that, but it doesn't matter, because I'm kidding. I think the difference between people who are great and people who are fucking amazing is wanting to do better. It would be great to look at a race time and be 100% happy with that.

    But to do well (and you did well) but know you can do better, and want to do better, makes you better than great.

    Does that make sense?

    Some philosopher talked about contentment being the something of something. If you're happy with how things are you may as well just kill yourself. Striving for constant betterment is the purpose of life. Something like that. I don't remember much from college. But the exact person and phrasing are far less important than the general idea: The strive to constantly do better is what X should be about, whatever X is to you.

  16. SERIOUSLY INCREDIBLE!!! You are my idol. Hope your hip heals up quickly and boo to your legs not letting you go like you wanted to! Amazing pictures and you better keep posting that running picture:)

  17. Hello RR,
    You are are such a talented runner. You have been running for many years and you have a fantastic base for long runs. That being said, have you thought about hiring a coach? Or perhaps meeting up with a track club for speed work? I think you are barely scratching the surface of what you are capable of.

  18. While I understand that you would like to be faster, I'm not sure that you could have ran a better race than it sounds like you ran. I guess if you really want to climb into the realm of the super elite, you may have to hire a coach like Dolly said above. Though if you hire and coach and start following structured workouts, doesn't that lead you away from your sort of random style workouts that you like to do? I don't know - I think you are running just fine right now, and I wouldn't change a thing.

    As for the stick pictures, I like #2 and #4, lol

  19. I forgot to mention that I know a great sports med doc who is a runner himself. He will definitely NOT tell you to stop running. When I was injured and asked him what sort of weight training I should be doing he said, "Do you like doing weight training?" When I said no he said, "then don't do it," and talked to me about how to recover while running a small amount, and what else I could do in the meantime.

  20. Overthinking alert! Didn't you say you were running with the wind going out and against it coming in? That might explain your splits, maybe, huh?


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