Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rocky Balboa And Lizzie Lee From Ireland (not me)

My neighborhood hosted a 5K and a 10K this weekend, Run-A-Muk. I wanted to avoid the 5K. Being in the middle of my speed training (week 4) I was afraid of finding out that my 5K training plan was not working. A 10K time was not on the hook, so I was about to push the button to submit my 10K online registration when I looked above my computer, and reminded myself that my training plan called for a 5K test race.

For me the testing was nothing else but knowing how my speed was going, but... I didn't want to know. Not now. Then I looked over again the plan, and asked myself: What else can I test? What am I really afraid of?. I hit the "cancel" button.

Instead of testing my speed, I could test a racing strategy, or something else. Why don't I go and test that "something else"?

While googling for a strategy I got McMillan's Go-Zone. He divides the race in approximately four quarters/zones. I pretty much use to run the first half of the race as his strategy tells, but never the last two. The third zone, the Go-Zone, calls for putting the hammer down, step up the intensity of the attack, and expect pain. The fourth zone, the Get-Time Zone, calls for a sprint. Not for the last tenth of a mile as I always do but for the whole last quarter.

I bought into it, and decided to test the strategy. Went back to the race site, and registered for a 5K. A test race.

On Thursday I had two 'revelations' that would support and complement the Zone strategy. The revelations came from Rocky Balboa and Lizzie Lee from Ireland (not me). In a "close encounter" with Rocky Balboa, who I love, he reminded me the words he told to his son: "It doesn't matter how much it hurts... It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward (*). That's how winning is done!". I carved the lines in my brain.

At the same time, Lizzie Lee from Ireland was winning a 5 miler in her country in 29:13 min. Yes, a 5:49 min/mile. From her own words in a recent aquathon, she dug deep, gritted her teeth and really really hurt herself to catch the one running on first place. She won by 12 seconds and "it hurt like hell". Then she told me yesterday, "Lizzie, pain is temporary, PRs are forever".

Could I emulate Lizzie? Not physically because she runs under 6 min/mile, but definitely mentally. Her strategy applies to everyone. Her 5:49 is to 6 what my whatever 'number lower than my PR' is to my PR.

And there I went. Nervous as always, got my bib # 439, reviewed the 4-zone strategy, got a gel (never do for short races but L. Lee recommended it...). Get ready, set, go.

The "Start Zone" went smooth as I always have avoided to "Run-A-Muk" at this stage. Second quarter was tough as was hilly, and I wasn't sure if I had a good fast leg turnover. Besides, my watch is distance wise out-of-sync and couldn't tell me what my real pace was. Third quarter was the time to put the hammer down. I did, and thought of Lizzie's comments: Grit your teeth!!! And then, the last K, sprint time. I ran as fast as I could, and when I was able to see the finish line, about 200 yards away, my Ipod started Gonna Fly Now, Bill Conti - Rocky Balboa. I thought of Rocky and Lizzie. How much you can take and keep moving forward... Pain is temporary, PRs are forever....

Then I saw this lady and I targeted her. I passed her and told her "come on". She accelerated. When she started to loose speed, I yelled at her, "come on, come with me..." I wanted to share my winning attitude, I didn't want it only for me.

I tested it. I got it. It worked. I got a PR by some seconds. Not three, not four, but 44!!!!

Official time 27:38
, for an 8:54 min/mile pace...

Division 1/29 - Overall Female 27/158 - Overall 87/282

I won my division!!!

(*) Tomorrow August 31st is Luis birth's anniversary. Rocky's advice is more valid for life than for running. I have taken the challenge of moving forward no matter how hard life gets.

Meeting Donna Vitellaro after sprinting together...She was my target!!! She came few seconds behind me with also a new PR

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stolen Runner Identity

When I went to pick up my package at Seafair Torchlight 5K Race on July 25th, this didn't exist.

In a very well disorganized race, a volunteer told me to do the line for the 8K and if it wasn't there either, then go to the "registration issues" table. The line for the 8K pick up had more than 100 people. I asked him if I had to do the whole line as I already did the 5K line, and he said: Yes.

After some to-myself cursing, I went directly to the registration issues table. There was no chance that I was going to do the 8K line.

They registered me again and I got bib #4625. Two weeks later, surprisingly, I saw in my athlete link site two results for me for Seafair.

...and everything fell into place. Somebody picked up my package and ran with my name. Bib #6769... I checked the pictures and found the impostor. A case of Stolen Runner Identity!!!


Training is going good. Doing it to the fine print. Today I ran a 10K in 1:00:39. Funny thing I have never ran an official 10K before, so a PR.. ha!. I reminded myself that I didn't need to race but to run faster than regular training... But would I listen? I tried to hit under 1 hr, and though I missed the goal for 40 seconds, it was a wonderful race. 58F, a perfect running temperature and around beautiful Lake Union in Seattle.

I ran for the fallen
Spec. Jeremiah W. Schmunk, and Sgt. Travis D. Pfister, both from what I consider my hometown, Richland, WA. (Thanks Chris for letting me know!)

Division 11/21 - Overall Female 203/430 - Overall 400/690

Judy Fischer (65) who I happen to meet in almost every weekend's race, is a world class runner. She won today the Grand Masters with 46:45. This means an age-graded time of 33:15. Pretty amazing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Veteran Of The Running Wars...Or A Racing Fool

Hal Higdon has a 5K training plan for the seasoned "Veteran Of The Running Wars", those that have numerous 5K races under their belt and have raced other distances... Well, I decided that I am one of those veterans, or ... a "racing fool" as Chris put it last week.

Tomorrow this serious 8-week 5K plan will begin to see how many seconds can I shave off my PR of 28:22. The race selected will happen on Sep 27, in one of my favorite Seattle's spots: Alki Beach.... Ah, and in addition, it supports breast cancer, so here I go.

The strategy is:
  • Intervals (Tue) ~ 8:34 min/mile
  • Tempo (Thu) ~ at 9:30 min/mile
  • Sat Fast Run will be done in 10K races. I have proven to myself that I don't run fast in my regular training. I will not run with all during these 10K races, but I will run faster than what I usually run.
  • Sunday Long Runs will be measured exclusively by time NOT BY DISTANCE.
  • Strength workout on Mon and Wed
I feel better. I have a plan!!!

My race of the week, the Footzone in Redmond Town Center. It was hot 75, and I didn't do as good as I expected, especially for a course with only half foot elevation gain... Last week I ran 8 sec per mile faster in a muggy day, and in the Alaskan Viaduct that has some elevation... oh well!!!

30:21 -
Division 10/19 - Overall Female 75/158 - Overall 259/367