Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon Race Report

Well, I am honestly not sure where to start. I added this race to the schedule (without coach knowing it) a few weeks ago. I figured there is nothing wrong with a half…even if it is 6 days after the 10k. Ideal? Probably not…but since when do we do things the easy way?

I drove down to Litchfield on Friday night and stayed with the parents of a Greenville teammate. It was a quick, easy, and uneventful drive. I stopped in Bloomington for dinner—all pre-race meals should include something (Pad Thai w/chicken breast ) from Noodles, and a sugar cookie from Potbelly’s. (It’s a Greenville track thing.)
I woke up at 5:30 on race morning. I always like to be up at 3 hours before a race to give my body time to go through the normal morning routine. Coffee, oatmeal, shower, and head to the race. I was lucky and stayed about a mile from the start line, so this morning was very easy. I realized around 7:45 that I had never run a half before, and I wasn’t quite sure how to warm up for it. Do you warm up for a half? How? I figured a progression mile should do the trick—start easy, end a little quicker than race pace & then some strides. I felt good and was ready to go!

The air temperature was low 40, but it was very windy. On this two loop course, first 3 miles would be into the wind, followed by a bit over 3 miles back with the find. Repeat. The course is on a section of the old Route 66, and is pancake flat. It is definitely a fast/PR course, but the wind could definitely make it a tough day.

Somehow I got a low # again! No pressure!
The gun went off and I took off running. I wasn’t sure who was in the race, but I wanted to find out if anybody was going to try and work with me. In the first 400m I found myself out front. At this point I had to make the decision of keep going, or fall back and try to find a group to work with. I decided that if they wanted to catch up to me, we’d work together, but I had no plans of slowing down. The first stretch is out into the wind, so my goal was just to keep it under control for the first 3ish mile section, before making it to the first turnaround.

The first 3 miles flew by and I was feeling good. It was at this point that I would not be able to see the rest of the runners and decided if I needed to push it a little harder, or if I could back off. Coach and I had decided to aim for high 5:40s for my first loop, low 5:40s for the out section on loop 2, then whatever was left for the return trip. I came through the first 3 miles in 17:03, so I was already ahead of pace, but feeling great. I knew the wind was at my back for a little over 3 miles now, so I felt like I could left off the effort a little but still run a quick pace. I used this section to go through my checklist: knees up, hips high, head steady. All systems a go!

On my way back, I felt like I was flying and had to tell myself to dial it back a little bit. Part of my problem in the 70.3 run is I can get overly excited during the early miles and start to fade the last 5k. I wanted to make sure I ran strong the whole time today! I came back through my first 6 miles in 33:42 and thought, “this could get interesting.” At the second turnaround I noticed the wind had picked up.  At this point I knew the next 3 miles would make or break the run. Could I hold on? Could I take on the wind alone? The good news is those thoughts left my brain as quickly as they came. All I could control was my form and breathing, so I figured focus on that and the rest will happen—I can’t control the wind.
Racing down memory lane--Old Route 66!
The next few miles seemed to take forever. The course had plenty of spectators and people to cheer you on, but that wind was brutal. I didn’t look down at my watch too much, because I figured it was better to just run strong and see what happens…turns out I was dropping high 5:30s to low 5:40s into the wind! I finally made it to the turnaround and was a bit over 3 miles from finishing AND the last few miles were with the wind. Sweet! It was at this point that I really did want to open it up and see how I was feeling, but, to be honest… I wasn’t feeling “great.” I Felt good, but not as good as before. I managed to run low 5:30s the rest of the way and crossed the line in 1:13:05! I was shocked. My debut open half marathon, ran 1:13:05, and won by 8 minutes...I couldn’t have been happier.
Finished :)
I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the volunteers out on the course. I have done some big WTC/Rev3/USAT races, and I would say the volunteers here were just as good as any of those races! The energy from the crowd/volunteers?RD was electric! The other racers were also VERY supportive and encouraging as I was running by. I may have been out front, but I never felt like I was alone. There were also businesses along the way that had music playing, which was another huge plus! So, for course layout, support, and atmosphere, I would definitely give this race an A+! Racemaker Productions always puts on a great race, and this did not disappoint! I would definitely recommend putting this race on your schedule for next year. You also get an awesome hoodie.
The Greenville crew...these twins are FAST!!
I am still kind of shocked to have run 1:13 and honestly was not expecting that. I think the past 2 weekends have taught me quite a bit in terms of racing. First, to run the 32:44 10k last weekend essentially solo after the first mile, I had to focus on running my race and the things I could control. Coming off a great race, I decided to apply that to the half marathon. Run within myself and focus on a few key things; the rest would take care of itself. I was also able to quiet the voices in my head the past 2 races—and for me that is huge! I am not a patient person. I like to try and blow the doors off the race from the start. The past couple weekends I was able to quiet that side of myself and just run. I believe there is a time for both styles of racing, and the past couple races definitely worked out well.
Elvis was even at the race!
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Canal Connection 10k Race Report

Sunday Nov 3,2013

I was not nervous for this race, but I was very excited to race. This is one of my favorite fall races. I ran it for the first time in 2004 and had dreamed of winning this thing someday. Last year I won. This year my goal was to defend my title, as there have only been 3 guys in 31 year history of the race to win it multiple times…and they have all done it back to back years. I honestly was not sure of my fitness going into this race, but coach and I decided if I could run 33:00-33:10, it would be a good day.

This race is a point to point race. You check in at the finish and they bus you to the start. I picked up my packet about 90 minutes before the start of the race. You have to stand in line by last name to pick up your bib. My last name starts with a “W” and all of the people around me were picking up numbers in the 500-600s. I tell them my last name and the lady says, “Oh, you’re the random #1 in with all these high numbers. You must have been waiting on your computer at midnight to sign up as soon as it opened.”  I got a good laugh out of that.
Such a low number!

My Garmin 310xt was being a pain in my butt, and would not turn on. I tried doing a soft reset and it still would not show anything besides the normal Garmin starting screen. It was fully charged. After messing with it for a while I decided to ditch the Garmin, because I would rather focus on something I can control, rather that something I couldn’t. There would be clocks on the course, so I would be able to figure out where I am based on that.

As I finished my warm up and put on my Brooks t7 racing flats, I noticed Bryan Glass was also racing. For those of you who don’t know who Bryan Glass is, he is the 2013 USA Masters 15k Champ, along with the now 10x winner of Canal Connection, and course record holder, & masters course record holder. I knew I would not win the race, but I knew a fast time was definitely possible! I had to remind myself that this race was supposed to be about running smart and fast, not about winning.

The race went by pretty quickly. The first mile was 5:11 and there were 4 of us within a couple seconds of each other.  I knew I had gotten out quicker than I wanted to, but there is a bit of a downhill in the first mile, so I wasn’t worried that I got out a tad fast. Shortly after mile 1 we were down to 3. I decided to let the 2 other guys go, because I really wanted to run fast and didn’t want to risk blowing up between 5-8k and suffering the last 2k home. I came through 2 miles in 10:25, perfectly relaxed.  At this point I just said, “Hey Coree, you’re running great. 10:25 is over a minute slower than your 2 mile PR. Just stay relaxed and it will be a good say.” I could see the other guys up there, so I had motivation to keep running. I came through the 3 mile in 15:36. At this point I was no longer worried about pace; I just wanted to run a strong last half of the race I knew I was on pace to PR unless something big happened.

I was pretty happy to make the final turn!

From mile 3-4 the gap started to get pretty big and I wondered if I was slowing down, or they were speeding up. I made the decision to back off the pace a little just to be safe.  I ended up coming through 4 miles in 21:01. After doing some quick math in my head I was positive I could PR. I knew the guys were already 30 seconds or more ahead. At this point I really wasn’t hurting like I was expecting to be, so I picked it back up. My 5 mile split was 26:20. I told myself, “drive with the knees,  keep the hips high, focus.” This was the hardest mile of the race, because this is where I finally lost sight of the leaders—there are a few turns in the last part of the race.  I kept plugging along, and say 31:30 for 6 miles. At this point I knew I could go farther into the hurt box and pull off a nice PR. I closed the last .2 in :74 to finish in 32:44. My 10k PR was 33:17 from last year, on this same course, so I was very excited!

Lookin' pretty strong on my way to the finish!
Mile splits:
5:11 – 5:11
5:15 — 10:25
5:11 — 15:36
5:25 — 21:01
5:19 — 26:20
5:10 — 31:30
:74 — 32:44

So, what do I take away from this? Well, I think I ran a smart race. I knew I could not win, but a fast time would be possible. Instead of going with the leaders and seeing how long I could hang on, I decided to pull back and run something I felt was more manageable. Did I negative split? No. But I honestly feel this is the best possible race I could have run for the day. I feel I did a good job of running off feel and managing my pace to set myself up for a good race. The overall win would have been nice, but a huge PR is even better!

I have had a lot of people ask me what my training was like leading into this race and how I had such a breakthrough day. Honestly, we have not done anything different or special for this race. After Branson we pretty much went into “off season” mode. I have been running almost the same as I have been all year, but without the workouts. A lot of easy days—some long, some short, but nothing too intense. I’ve been biking. I’ve been swimming. So for me to run sub 33 for the first time, I am thrilled.

Next up? Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon on Nov 9. I’m pretty excited to see what I can do in my first open half marathon. Once again, the goal is just to run smart. Hope to see some of y’all out there!

Well, thanks for reading. If you have any questions, ask away! Train hard and stay safe out there!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Litchfield, Oglesby, & Bradley RR. Canal Connection 10k/Route 66 13.1 Preview

I have been slacking when it comes to race reports--here is just a quick wrap up of the last 3 races, and a preview of the next 2 races.
Litchfield Lou Olympic (2:04:17, 3rd)
This was a last minute decision to race. We had just finished up the last 19 hours of driving from our Western Adventure.  I got home at 8:00 am Saturday morning, talked with coach, and decided I was going to race the next morning. So at this point it was 70.3 Vegas, Litchfield, and Rev3 Branson all in a 14 day span. I love Racemaker Production events, so it really was not a super hard decision to race—the only thing I worried about was the fact that I had taken the previous week off, and I had Branson a week later…but hey, I’m young…right?
Swim: 20.30, 6t
T1: :45.45, 1st
Bike: 1:06:48, 22.3 MPH, 3rd
T2: :21.40, 1st
Run: 35:53, (5:47/mile), 1st
The swim was wetsuit legal. I was actually hoping it would be non-wetsuit legal, so I could use my Xterra Velocity-M speedsuit. I was feeling great in the water, and found some feet to follow. I felt like I was swimming quick and had a good feel for the water...a nice change. I felt like time just flew by and I exited the water in 20:40... ...When the RD saw me come out of the water in 20.xx he knew something happened. Ha. I guess a lot of people ended up turning 1 buoy too soon, making it a .7 swim course rather than .9. Oops. The bike course is a nice out and back—pretty uneventful. The roads were chip and seal, so you had to be careful cornering. Other than that, fun course. The run is a 10k out and back with a couple rollers. I enjoy this course, and will hopefully be back again! A studly 17 year old that won the race (2:01)--Jack Klekamp is a name you are proably going to hear a lot of in the future (and now)! Also, any race that gives out beer as a prize is a pretty dang good race in my book!


Oglesby Holy Family Shuffle 3 Mile (15:53, 1st)
A lady at work talked me into running this fundraiser for her kids school. This course also happens to be the same as the Turkey Trot 3 Mile on Thanksgiving morning. I figured this would be a good way to get some practice on the course. I have been known to do some reckless things in racing, and today was one of those days…Took it out at 5:00 first mile (had not done any hard running since Rev3 Branson). I ended up winning in 15:53 (first time sub 16 on this course—and it’s a tad over 3 miles) and I was happy with it. There is a not so nice hill in the final mile of the race—it sucks (in the best way possible)! I thought I was going to be able to hold on for a little bit quicker time, but that hill just crushed me. Can’t wait til the Turkey Trot!
Looking "great" right before the finish. Ha.

Bradley University Classic 8k (27:08, 22nd)
I have never been a huge fan of cross country, nor do I ever think I have run a great cross country race.  I think I have had some good races, but never great races. I had no idea what kind of shape I was in heading into this race, so I just decided to go out with the front pack and try to hold on. Well, first mile was 5 flat with a pack of probably 30 people. But 5k we were still in a pack of 10ish @ 16:11. And then the wheels fell off. I had been doing a lot of just easy runs for a while (since Vegas) so I was lacking speed, and probably didn’t make a good decision by going out 5 flat the first mile. The next 2 miles were ugly, and I crossed the line in 27:08. So a bit over a minute off my 8k PR, but I can say I finally had fun during a cross country race! It was also great to see some of my old Greenville teammates and coaches.
...And this is where it starts to get ugly...

So what’s next?

Canal Connection 10k (Sun Nov 3)
This is an awesome race put on by the Starved Rock Runners! If you are looking to run a fast 10k, this is it! The race starts in LaSalle, IL and ends in Utica, IL. I am looking forward to racing it this year, because these guys always put on a quality, fun race. They also have some delicious pizza and muffins after the race. I won the race last year, and people keep asking if I am going to defend my title this year…I guess we’ll just have to wait til Sunday to find out! I can't say that I have had "awesome" training leading up to the race, but a well executed race should still produce a time fast enough to leave me happy for now.
Can I repeat? We'll find out!

Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon (Sat Nov 9)
I have never actually raced a half marathon before. I run the distance in practice often, and I have run it in 70.3s, but never just a half marathon. Racemaker Productions informed me of the new race this year, and I had to sign up! Instead of the typical t shirt, they give out awesome hoodies! This is a 2 loop, 13.1 mile race in Litchfield, IL—sounds like it should be flat and fast race. What kind of half marathon shape am I in? I really don’t know. I will just go and try to run a smart race. *gasp* Did I just say I’m going to try and race smart?! I can suffer through a poorly paced 5k and 8k and still run "okay," but that doesn’t sound too fun in a half marathon. I think I just need to be realistic about my fitness and go from there. But, before I can focus on the half, I need to get through Canal Connection! Also, there is a discount code for this race right now. Check out the Racemaker Production Facebook page if you want it!

Well, thanks for reading! Hope you are having a great “off season” (if you want to call it that). If the season is not over for you, good luck!