Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Little Miami Half Marathon Race Report

I ran the 2012 Little Miami Half-Marathon this past Sunday, August 19th, as my second half of the year, and part of my training for the Columbus Marathon. The race was conveniently held on the weekend that my schedule called for a half, it was only a couple hours away, in Morrow, Ohio, just North of Cincinnati, and the price was right: $40.

It was not huge race, a half and 10k combined, with less than 500 runners for the half. Nor was there a race expo, pasta dinner, goody bag, or other such thrills. None of that really mattered to me anyway. However, I was a little frustrated to pre-register and then watch the last shirt in my size be handed to someone else. I don't usually wear technical shirts from races, but I did pay for it.

The course was out-and-back along a nice scenic bike trail, surrounded by trees and overlooking water. There were a few road crossings, but police were present and directing traffic. The start took place on a city street, a block or so before runners hit the trail. This seemed to help keep the start from being too congested.

The weather was great, with temperatures in the low 60s at the start, and the trail was relatively flat, which made for a fast race. It seemed that much of the first 6.5 miles was a gradual incline, but it also meant that the last half was slightly down hill. I think the ideal conditions were a key factor in helping me to improve upon my last half by over 6 minutes, with an official chip time of 1:36:12, a 7:18 mile pace. I met and surpassed my goal of running sub 1:40. Hopefully, that this means my training is going well.

The food at the race was okay. There were a several aid stations that had water or sports drink. I believe it was Gatorade and Heed at the turnaround? After the race, they had a several vegan options, including bottles of sports drink (though I think they ran out later in the race), plain and cinnamon raisin bagels, boxes of Wheaties, and bananas and oranges. I stuck with the fruit and later ate vegan brunch (a bit of a rarity) at Melt in Cincinnati on the drive home.

My time of 1:36:12 was good enough to place in the top 40. I was 39th overall, out of 403 finishers, and 7th in the 20-29 age group, out of 30 runners. I think the race was just about large enough to divide the race into 5 year age groups, rather than 10. However, I was glad to meet my personal goal and set a PR.

Plant Power!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fastest Kid in Town

My 3 year old son, Taegan, ran his first official race last night: A Midsummer Night's Run in Lexington. He "competed" against other 3 year olds to be the "Fastest Kid in Town". 

T has been a part of my running since he was an infant, riding in a baby jogger. As soon as his legs developed, he started sprinting home at the end of our runs. His current big running related activity is putting on my Garmin and Road ID, while carrying a water bottle, and running laps from the front to the back of our house. Needless to say, he was excited for his first race.

However, being the toddler that he is, nothing is simple. T woke up at 6:00 in the morning, and by the time his race rolled around, over 12 hours later, he was tired and cranky. Then he had to wait in a long line of 3 year olds on an ashpalt road, with the sun beaming down. Multiple heats of 1 and and 2 year olds raced, while T was taunted by an inflatable playground off in the distance, that was more tempting than racing down a grass field. Yet, he made it to the starting line, and as soon as he was given the green light, he raced to the finish line, with his mother chasing behind him.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Columbus Marathon Training Plan

For the first time in my running career, I am following a set training plan. Previously, I avoided following a schedule, created by someone else, for a number of reasons. Most importantly, I worried that running would feel too much like work, and not in a good way. I run for fun, not a paycheck. I also told myself that training plans are too rigid, lacking needed flexibility that is required for whatever life might throw my way.

Running by feel, without a schedule, allowed me to get started and build up a base. It got me through 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and even a full marathon. My running, including endurance and speed, has also continued to improve without following training plans. Yet, after running my first full marathon, I decided I wanted to run another and I felt that I could make a substantial improvement. A runner gets better by training, and though I trained enough to finish my first full marathon, my training mileage was on the low end for the distance. My long run peaked at 20 miles on one ocassion, and my weekly mileage maxed out at 39 miles.

If I was going to add more miles to training, I wanted to ensure that I do it intelligently. Though I enjoy running, I do not want to feel obliged to run x amount of miles for training, unless they serve a purpose. Perhaps most importantly, I do not want to put myself at risk for an oh-so-common running injury, particularly due to overuse. At this point, I decided to find a training plan, created by somone with more experience and knowledge.

After doing some research, I debated between plans by Pete Pfitzinger and Hal Higdon. Eventually, I opted for Higdon's Intermediate 2 Marathon Training plan, but will perhaps try Pfitzinger's in the future. Higdon's plans, especially his beginner plans, are quite popular, and have assisted in getting hundreds of thousands of runners to the finsih line. His intermediate 2 plan should provide me with more structure and include just enough increase in miles, peaking at 50 a week, to build upon my previous training.

Similar to the logic that I previously followed, his plan is built around a rotation of days that are easy-hard-easy, with a gradual increase in weekly and long run mileage. What I didn't do before, but this plan prescribes, is incorporate step-back weeks, reduced mileage every few weeks, to allow time for rest. Conveniently, much of the mileage is also concentrated on the weekends, with medium-long marathon pace runs on Saturdays and long slow runs on Sundays. The plan lacks speedwork, which is included in Higdon's advanced marathon plans, but at the moment I believe I can improve by simply continuing training and increasing mileage.

Hal Higdon's training plans can be found in his book Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide and his website at www.halhigdon.com.