Race #8: Injury Recovery on Stalin Island

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The Park Run event at Teddy Roosevelt (Stalin) Island made for eight race of the series. Crisp weather and smooth trails made for near-ideal conditions and Stephany, Steven, and Garrett joined me for this morning’s 5K!

Race Goals:
1) Test and don’t aggravate hamstring injury. ()
2) If pain-free, keep a pace at about 60% of lactate threshold. ()

After taking a few days off and doing a few days light running, I wanted to test out my hamstring injury. The good news: It’s only a strain. The bad news: It’s a true musculoskeletal hamstring injury and not just soreness. 

I probably should have just taken the whole week off, but this race was scheduled and I was determined to run (damn it!). So I suited up a pair of leg/knee braces that made me look like half of a bionic man and I biked a few miles to the start line to warm up.

I was nervous running the first mile as my hamstring felt slightly tight, though it loosened up a bit as I cruised through the halfway point. The middle of the race felt pretty good, but in the last half mile, my quad began to hurt. Compensating.
I finished the race without too much pain, pleased that I could get my heart rate up to about 151bpm and average about an 8:30/pace.

I got lucky. I didn’t seem to aggravate my injury, but I need to be smarter and take some time for this injury to heal. I feel like I’ve just begun to accomplish a few early season goals and started to enjoy these long, slow runs. Taking time off will be much more psychologically frustrating than physically hampering, but I need to try.

Maybe I’ll try biking.

Either way, I’m frustrated about having to slow down my training, but I’ll give it a shot. I am not a patient person.

Next race scheduled is the Welles Crowther Red Bandana Run in Boston. Come and join me if you’re in the bean!


A Little Workout Motivation…

Need a little exercise motivation?
Check out this short video below. An oldie but a greaty. 

I love this video because:
a) Ashton Eaton is (one of) my idol(s).
b) We look identical with our shirts off. 
c) This is absolutely preposterous. About 45+inches per jump.

Sub 7 on the Runway!

Perfect weather (sunny, low 60s) for race number eight – the Dulles Day 5K/10K on the runway at Dulles Airport! Shoutout to Steven Couper, who crashed on my couch the night prior and woke up at 5:15 to join me. Also, shoutout to adult sleepovers, while we’re on the subject. 

The perfectly flat (?) runway course meant it was a good day to race hard and try to finally break 7min/mile pace. 

Race Goals:
1) Don’t get injured. (/X)
2) Break 7min/mile pace. ()
3) Negative split each mile. ()

Overall, a big success!

Despite still feeling under the weather, I ran 21:40, averaging 6:59/mile, barely breaking the 7min barrier. This was good for 28th out of 1,413 runners (26/651 men)!

Racing on the runway was an awesome experience! The only downside was the grease?/tar?/burnt rubber? black tread-marks the airplanes leave behind were actually kinda sticky. I contend that I would have averaged about 4:15/mile if not for the stickiness. Also, it’s concrete, not asphalt, which was a bit tougher on the legs than a road race. 

While I did negative split each mile, my splits had way too much variance. Not wanting to go out too fast, I was hoping to split just over 7-7:05/mile for each of the first two miles, and then try to pick up the pace at the end, dipping under a 7min average overall. Instead, my first mile was way too slow, and I had to up the pace earlier than anticipated. 

My app was fast by a few seconds (my total, not-straight-line distance covered was just over 5K, at 3.18 miles), but the split differences are reliable metrics:

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Love the last mile split! Can’t stand my inconsistent pacing.

One of the hangovers from competing as a sprinter is that I am terrified of being in a distance race and running out of gas too early. Starting out slower and attempting to negative split is a great hedge, but I still struggle to feel comfortable running on pace at the beginning. After going out in about 7:04 a few weeks ago and feeling tired, I am nervous about moving too quickly. I need to get better at trusting my fitness and that I can hold a 7min even pace for a 5K. Hopefully this race will be a confidence booster, but more long tempo runs are probably the best medicine. 

Speaking of medicine… my hamstring felt pretty tight at the end. It was still sore from Wednesday’s hill sprint workout, but it feels tighter-than-normal-post-race-tight. So for the next 48 hours, it’s lots of ice + sneaking into the hot tub at the hotel across the street. I don’t think it’s anything more than a minor strain. I hope.

Fresh off a recent triathlon, Steven came along and ran/jogged the 10K event, rocking the black-on-black footwear like a Wizards bench player at a “funeral game”:
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After the race, Steven and I got to check out part of the Dulles Air & Space museum, which is essentially a giant hanger packed with old planes, including an SR-71 Blackbird – the fastest plane ever built:

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Also, special shoutout to PRR’s Keira D’Amato, who dominated the ladies 10K and won two round trip United Airlines tickets! (Keira, where are we going?!). 

Next weekend is an easy, free 5K in DC that I may use as part of a longer training run. Join me if you’re in the area!

Workout Recap: 10x30sec Hill Sprints


Today’s hard workout involved a 20min warmup bike ride over to the steepest hill in the area, followed by hill sprints. 10x30seconds maximum heart rate sprints uphill with 90 seconds recovery jog between each rep. After that, a slow 25min bike ride home.

Less than fun. 

The good news is that my recovery time is improving – it only took about a minute or so for my heart rate to drop a few zones. 
The bad news is that my legs are heavy and slow and I’m still carrying a bit too much weight. 

This better pay off because I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. 

Alumni Weekend 5K

Race #7 took place over the Becket-Chimney Corners Alumni Weekend in nearby Lee, MA. Perfect running weather for the small event put on by the local cross-country team on the reasonably-hilly streets of Lee.

I was joined by a few troopers repping some serious BCC pride. Jessie, Marisa, Stevo and Cody woke up early for the run. Special props to Marisa for finding and flaunting some camp apparel. 

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Stevo’s uncanny resemblance to New Zealand running legend, Nick Willis, went largely unnoticed by the Lee High School running community. Surprising. 

I had been slightly under the weather all week and had low expectations for the race. 

Race Goals:
1) Don’t get injured. ()
2) Use the race as a hard workout. ()

The result? I thrive (only?) under low expectations. 

The race was (barely) my fastest 5K to date, with a time of 21:56 (7:04/mile) that was good for 7th overall and first in my age group. I was very surprised and pleased given my health and that my only running for the past week had been long, slow miles at over 9:30/mile pace. The course had a few hills but nothing devastating.

Despite making a last-minute decision to run while recovering from injury, Jess was the first overall female finisher (8th overall)! Cody ran terrifically and finished 3rd overall while Marisa and Stevo each took second in their age group. Really cool that they all woke up so early to come out and race. 

Next weekend is a neat race on the tarmac at Dulles Airport. 

If you’re in Boston or New York, be sure to check the schedule as there will be an October 5K in each city!


Big Announcement: New Coach & Sponsor

I am very excited to announce that world-renowned sports writer, coach, nutritionist and athlete,
Matt Fitzgerald, has agreed to support the 30@30 campaign!

Beginning in late October, I’ll be working with Matt to refine and execute a training and nutrition schedule that will hopefully lead to improved times come this spring. 

I’ve been inspired by Matt’s books and the empirical results of his approach to training and conditioning. If you’re interested in improving your fitness, I recommend starting out with his books Racing Weight and 80/20 Running.

Check out Matt’s work and let me know if you have any questions.

Labor Day 5K: Who Put Those Hills There?

Race number six was the Great American 5K – right outside the Potomac River Running location in Fairfax. Great weather and a perfectly executed event.

Pre-Race Goals:
1) Don’t get injured. ()
2) Break 22min. (X)
3) Break 7min/mile pace. (X)

Today was tough. I went out too fast. The first half-mile was largely downhill and I went out at about a 6:20 pace, only to ease up and settle into a 7min/mile pace through the first third of the race.

It felt much faster.

Conscious of my first 800m split on the downhill, I expected that even though I ran the first mile faster than intended, I would have come through in about 6:40, giving me ample breathing-room (pun intended) to ease up and still break 7min/mile by the end. When I saw the split for my first mile was already over 7min, I was in trouble.

The second and third miles had many loping, twisting hills and I didn’t slow up too much, and matched my 5K time from a few weeks ago at 22:09. It was painful, though, and my hamstrings started burning much earlier than I anticipated. The time was good for second in my age group (44/354 overall and 33/193 for men) which netted a sweet gift certificate to Potomac River Running, which I’ll use to stock up on my depleted stash of RunGum.

Savi provided the bright spot for today’s race, running his first race (of many) in the 30@30 campaign and finishing second in his age group (27/354 overall and 23/193 for men) with a solid time of 20:59, breaking the 21-min barrier as he set out to do before the race. Chasing middle schoolers around the soccer field for hours has its benefits.

Jess and Russell joined from the sidelines and Russ wanted to pose for a race picture with Savi and I in front of the Ambulance/Potbelly (chosen on purpose/not exactly sure of that purpose).

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The event also featured a “First 5K” section, encouraging first timers to get out there and run. It was awesome. So many folks pushed themselves through a tough 5K and it was so impressive to see so many taking up a race for the first time.

This week marks the start of a new high-volume/low-intensity training regimen that I’m beginning, so I’m not sure how much my times will improve in the next few weeks, but I’m eager to see what this training cycle is like. I’ve never enjoyed running long, slow distances so this should be an interesting challenge.

Next race is over Alumni Weekend at up camp – the Founders Day 5K in Lee on Saturday morning. Let me know if you’d like to join!