Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tour de Pain Extreme: 3 Races, 24 hours-Part 2 the Half Marathon

The Tour de Pain Extreme, put on by Jacksonville’s largest running store, 1st Place Sports, pits the runner in a three race series: a 10k at 7pm on a Friday night, a Half Marathon at 7am Saturday Morning, and a 5k at 6pm Saturday night. Result are compiled and awards are handed out based upon the combined finishing times. This account stands as the second of three. For part one, visit here, for part three here.

The Half Marathon:
State of Mind: Pleasantly Pained (minus the strange proposition during mile 8)
Shoes: Skora Forms with Injinji 2.0 compression socks

            First off, this race was the longest distance I had run since the end of the Disney Marathon in January. While I had maintained a 9-11 mile run a week, as an assistant track coach, I have an opportunity to run with the kids on a daily basis, and have been running with them, mostly a track based regimen. These workouts have been training me for the mile and the two mile, not the half marathon, and I was well aware that the two month layoff of long distance training could result in falling off a cliff somewhere in the race. As a fellow Skora Ambassador, Peyton Hoyal said here, do training specific for your race. Track training can translate to a 5k or 10k, but tends to be less beneficial as the distance lengthens.
            On to the race—my legs felt solid going in, not too much of a hangover from the previous night’s 10k. Tight hips, but that was about it. I had refueled the night before, a smoothie that beyond strawberries and bananas, included high fat sources in hemp seeds and coconut oil plus chia, flax, tart cherry juice and almond milk. A few capraflex, a bunch of ginger, and a normal dinner before watching the Gators win in the Sweet 16. Race morning, I consumed Spirulina, a banana, green tea, and a bottle of water containing chia and honey. From there the morning was odd: I left my road ID and GPS watch at home (not having the ID seemed more concerning, I used my phone as a GPS to look at post race splits) and then threw up a bit of my chia drink in the parking lot. Normally the drink goes down perfectly; I drink it while running during long runs, but this day was different. Feeling off and seeing as the race was long, and speed can be averaged, I went with the slow warm-up. Dynamic stretching, drills, enough to get the blood moving before going, but not a lot of running.
            When they fired the mini-cannon that doubles as a gun, I leapt forward and headed off into the darkness of the 50 degree morning. Miles one and two, run before sunset, involved the same two bridges from the night before in reverse, first a 85-90 foot climb, then a more modest 35 feet, and you could hear collective groans from the pack as the went over. From here we had essentially and out and back for miles three through eleven, before finishing up along the river walk like we did during the 10k and descending the dreaded corkscrew down ramp. That said, I took the first six miles smoothly, 7:22, 7:17, 7:16, 7:26, 7:25, 7:26. Everything felt fine, there were no thoughts about the night before, no thoughts about the night to come, just a steady race to be run, clipping along at a nice, steady pace. Then, somewhere in the midst of Evergreen cemetery, and yes, we ran through a cemetery, my legs fell off. The analogy was a gift a competitor who I beat the night before, beat in the 5k later in the day, but was shocked to see me fall apart.
            So amongst the ghosts, running by feel (I never checked the GPS pacing once, only leaving the time check for every ten minutes) I fell off the pace. Mile seven came upon me, and my cadence dropped. It became more difficult to drive me knees, and as it turned out I hit a 7:49. I knew I had dropped, people were passing me that shouldn’t have, but in the end, you run how you train, I had only been training for the track, a fact that changes in the middle of April when I gear up for a multiple marathons. Mile eight was more of the same, an 8:05, minus one bit of humor, the out and back course, went through a few of the older, more dilapidated sections of the city. It was in one of the sections that woman stood on her front porch gyrating and screaming out, “After your workout, come by for some after workout sex.” For the record, before anyone asks, there was no returning.
            Thus I vacillated in this state. Mentally, I wanted to shatter my PR of 1:40.22, set on a relatively flat course after a tapper, physically my lungs felt great, but my hips didn’t lie (sorry), and I had struggles turning over. I already started planning the remedy, more consistent leg work (clam shells, donkey kicks, donkey whips, leg lifts, squats) and a return to long distance tempo driven training post track season. I tried to push back down, would get a good stride going for a few minutes, before falling off the pace yet again. Mile nine 7:50, mile ten 8:00, mile eleven 7:55, mile twelve gave a nice onramp hill toward the riverside area and an 8:10. Then I hit the river walk area, a
About 200m from the finish, trying to shake off the cramp.
great early morning sun lit scene and decided to give it one last push. Unfortunately, the push did me in—for the first time in my racing life, training included, I cramped up. My left leg tightened on the lower hamstring, just behind the knee. No, I didn’t stop, but yes, I did slow, dropping to a pedestrian 9:14. Somewhere in the corkscrew, the tightness abated, allowing me to finish okay, but all-in-all, the race felt like a lost day.
I could have done more, I know it, could have made up time in my age group at least, but instead fell into a more distant 6th.  Yet, one must be realistic. Twelve hours after a solid 10k and without proper long distance training for over ten weeks, I had to be semi pleased. Race three to come.
Results, two races in.

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