Checking In 1/24/2022

I have finished 4 weeks of Vancouver 2022 training, and this was a stepback week. I ran a 10K at Floyd Lamb Park on Saturday, then an easy 8 miler Sunday.

I’m not really all that sore, and the 10K not only went about as well as expected but somehow I finished 3rd male overall.

I had not done any focused training for the 10K and it was just a ‘show me’ race to see where I was at. Though my right hamstring hadn’t bothered me at all the last couple weeks, I also wanted to be careful about aggravating it with a faster pace.

Like the Triple Crown races late last year I ran the 10K by power, monitoring my Stryd readings and looking to maintain a minimum power level. After having run out the last 10K in the 240’s, I believed I could at leats maintain the low 250’s, though I wanted to see if I could go a bit higher. Going by pace is tougher at Floyd Lamb with part of the course on dirt, plus it was somewhat windy with 15+ mph crosswinds.

Incidentally, because it was blustery outside and given the timing of the year, we didn’t have many starters. So unlike previous races I was almost immediately by myself on the course. Often I would ran a bit harder out of the gate to navigate and create space between others before settling down. But with immediate space, I just settled immediately into a comfortably fast rhythm, and was pleasantly surprised to notice that a 260s watt pace felt rather comfortable.

Plus, with the cold air and the high wind, I had virtually no risk of overheating, the most likely thing to slow me down early. Even with the stiff crosswind I simply focused on maintaining a consistent effort and cadence.

The hard part was the back end of the course loop (the race was two laps on a 5K course), which turned north directly into the wind for a bit before a turn back west into relatively easier stiff crosswinds. My effort stepped up into the 280’s and up for these sections but that didn’t feel too much tougher. It might have actually been harder to dial back my effort as I’d have to work that much harder against the wind to stay upright and moving.

After clearing the first loop in well under 28 minutes (I had run my last 10K on this course in 58:26), I found and kept a steady high 260’s effort back through the course again. I don’t think I looked at my watch for anything beyond the distance covered, the wattage readings, and the mile splits as the watch beeped them off.

I actually started feeling a bit weak in the last mile, probably from the sheer effort of maintaining my effort in the stiff crosswinds all that time. But I just kept moving at pace and decided that I’d only slow down if it felt really dire. It never did.

Once I saw the finish line I just went for it and actually had a pretty good kick that last 100 meters or so, crossing in 55:18 for a substantial improvement on my last effort. However, my watch only showed 6.18 miles, and Garmin unfortunately won’t count a 10K PR unless you run a minimum of 6.21 miles, so I ran a bit past the finish to get at least 6.22 and ensure it counted as a Garmin watch PR (even if it’s not my actual 10K PR of 52:39). My prior 10K PR on the watch was pre-Corona and wasn’t particularly fast, plus my previous races hadn’t counted because Garmin measured all three of them slightly short. I got to 6.22 in the grass with little trouble and stopped the watch at 55:41.

Unlike the previous races, while certainly gassed from probably my toughest effort ever in a 10K, I didn’t feel physically beat up much at all. Best of all, my right hamstring never bothered me at any point in the race. It was never an issue.

The next test was the following day. Even though 8 miles is a big stepback from the double digit long runs I had done previous weekends, this was the first time in a long while I was taking a long run the day after a race. Common among scholastic athletes, I had done it now and again in Chicago but had yet to do it in training here in Vegas.

Unlike previous runs I decided not to monitor my wattage or pace effort, as I typically try to start slow and then make sure the finish is a faster easy pace. I’ve been following the Pfitzinger approach of starting at 1.2 times my goal marathon pace, then finishing at 1.1 times the goal pace, and it had worked quite well each time. But this time, having run the race the day before, I took it purely by feel and the pace would just be after-data.

It turned out the hardest part of the run was running past the church near my starting point. It was Sunday and this church incidentally was letting out a service as I started (bad timing!). So I had to carefully avoid foot and vehicle traffic while also trying to avoid running through the nearby shopping center, where there was more vehicle traffic. Once I zig zagged beyond trouble, I just had to deal with breathing a bit harder than I would have liked. But 8 miles went fine and again I had no soreness or serious fatigue.

Stryd tells me my critical power has substantially improved, from a measured 257 to 268. Stryd’s race calculator believes I could run Vancouver in under 4:10:00. I’m not totally sure about that. I did average a steady 9:38 in a pace workout a week ago (which would be a sub 4:15 pace), but while do-able over 6 miles I have my doubts about sustaining that particular effort over 26+ miles, and that course was a bit flatter than usual. My goal pace is in the 9:40’s-9:50’s and that’s felt more comfortable. I’m still working on settling naturally into pace range, even though hitting the pace hasn’t been super difficult.

Today is a rest day, and I’m a bit surprised at how much energy I’ve consistently had the last few weeks, even though I’ve run 5 days a week and not missed a run workout. This may be because this is the first marathon training cycle where I’ve minimized everyday competing stressors like having to walk everywhere like Chicago, because I’m eating probably the cleanest and most consistent diet I’ve eaten on a training plan, and because I’m making sure to take rest days, follow the plan and just the plan, and not do much of any extra anything.

Over the last couple years I’ve been doing a lot of cross and strength training, and this month I’ve cleared out anything that isn’t specifically related to the training for this race.

Now, that said, I’m looking to resume strength training this week with two easy 20 minute sessions in the mornings, and chasing them with the yoga sessions that I’d been getting results from.

This will also be a tougher volume week, as I stretch out the midweek mod-length run, the Saturday run that’s been hanging at 6 miles for a while, and push the long run into 14 miles, past the half marathon barrier I somehow haven’t pushed past in three years.

Making all this go according to plan is this week’s hurdle in training. More to come.

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