First Half 2016 Running Recap
It feels like yesterday that I wrote my running review for 2015, but sure enough half a year has passed. This will be a bit lighter on data, as I'll save that for a similarly detailed end-of-year review in six more months.
My main goal for the year was to run my first half marathon race. As part of the training for that, I ran the Freezer 5 Miler three weeks prior. It's a fun local race, but since it's in February you're obviously at the mercy of the weather for how much fun you might actually be having. As luck would have it, I prefer cold weather in general, but especially for running. My running club (the Taconics) hosts the race at FDR park, so I knew a few of the kind folks managing things and had a small group of friends to run with (all from the unofficial Thursday running group that I run with more or less every week; it just so happens we normally run 5 miles). We started out really fast (for me) and were more akin to my 5k pace than not. As a result, my average splits look like a nice bell curve! 7:13, 7:55, 8:23, 7:52, 7:36. I lost my running mates when I slowed up, but the race has enough runners that I had rabbits (or was the rabbit) for others as the race finished up. The race has a couple hills, the most noteworthy being one that you hit twice due to a loop. It's fun, if you're into that sort of thing. Overall my pace was 7:45, which I was pretty happy with.
My next race was the Celebrate Life Half Marathon. We had pretty good representation from my Thursday group, which was nice given they're the ones who talked me into doing a half! A few of us started out together at an easy pace (I really didn't want to let adrenaline override good sense like it did for the 5 miler). It was the first (and so far only) race I've done that had official pacers, so for the first mile we stayed around the 2 hour pacer. It worked out well, because my first split of 8:49 was my slowest by a comfortable margin. I caught up to the next pacer (1:50) pretty quickly and tried to stay near him for the next ten miles. After that I opened up some space ahead of him and tried to hold on for dear life. Two of my friends had been staying behind me and came up to pace me through the end, which was awesome. The last few tiny rolling hills felt like climbing Everest, so the support was welcome. I ended up going through at 1:47:51, which I could hardly complain about (well, initially they said my time was slower, which I did complain about!). Did I mention they had pizza right at the finish line? And hamburgers back in the building? Yesssss. Definitely recommend the race to anyone looking to do a half next year.
The last race of the first half trilogy was the local Hudson River 5K Run to End Hunger. It's in walking distance from my home and is a really flat course, so I was looking forward to seeing if I could improve on my time from last Fall's 5k (also flat). For the first half my rabbit was a young kid, which had the benefit of people cheering us on (okay, him, but I pretended it was for all of us in the pack). I passed him and managed to place first in my age group (2nd if you include the overall winner) and 13th overall. I broke 22 minutes for the first time at 21:47, so that was cool. Felt similar to the previous 5k, in that with more speed workouts I think I can still get faster.
I actually setup (and followed!) a training plan for my half marathon race. It varied a bit each week, but basically was 1.off 2.easy 3.hills/intervals 4.cross train 5.group run 6.off 7.long. The long runs gradually went up in time, peaking at two hours at an easy pace, then switching to different ratios of easy and race pace workouts at shorter distances. Overall it worked out pretty well; for my next half I'd like to work in longer workouts, as the last couple miles were just killer (both in practice and in race). I'd like to stretch it out to 15 or 16 miles in training at an easy pace. Well, in theory.
After that, I basically played things by ear as I had no near term plan. Some weeks I'd do distance, other times focus on speed. Mostly it was just for fun. Then, in mid/late May, the first heat wave of the year hit. I hate hot temperatures, especially for running. It just sucks the life out of me. Then I tweaked my knee. Nothing serious, but enough that I figured it'd be better to take days off rather than push it. Now with the heat only going to get worse, I'm dreading it. So, my main plain is to be opportunistic with medium and long runs, with at least two runs a week (in the other three seasons, it's 3-5 times a week).
The only race I have planned going forward is the Peekskill Brewery Mile in mid-August. I've never raced at the distance before, so it's primarily out of curiosity. I'll be starting track workouts this week or next, which will be “fun”. I'm really not sure what to expect for the race. When I self-time a mile on the track, I've been around 6:40 (once in the Spring, once last Fall). But once you have a crowd and other racers, everything changes; so I know I'll be faster, I just don't know by what margin.
Aside from that, I'd like to do something in the Fall. The most likely case would be a 10k, but another half is possible. Since I've only done somewhat hilly courses for both, I'm again tempted to find something local and flat to see how fast I can go.