Monday, June 27, 2016

Summer Runnin'

After a three month break from training, I decided to take some of my own recently dispensed advice and stop living like time won't run out. In March, after a pretty nice morning run in the local St. Patrick's Day five-mile Running o' the Green, I signed up for the July 9 2016 Utica Boilermaker 15k. To raise the level of personal significance to the race, my son also signed up with the intent of "running it with me." Of course, now that the race is two weeks away, I find myself needing to quickly catch-up, just to put myself in a position to finish.

Finishing 2008
Boilermaker 15k.
When speaking with friends at work about the probability of still running the race despite a lack of preparation, I reminded them that at this point it would be an issue of whether my pride would allow me to participate in a race I knew I would not be competitive in. It has been a long time coming, but after a few years of being a "pretty good" weekend runner, it is time to admit that the PR days may be behind me. (Yes, I am fully aware that were I to commit to a formal training regime, including speed workouts and repeats etc., I could be faster--but my own recreational interest in running is a matter of "therapy" rather than any desire to be an Olympian.) I have zero delusions that I have a 15k PR in me for 13 days from now, I am hopeful that I can finish in two hours, which while an absolutely terrible personal performance, could still be seen as a victory of sorts as it would represent a completed race.

This past Saturday morning, the first day of my summer break from teaching, I put in 3 workman-like treadmill miles (despite fairly pleasant weather outside) just to get jump started. This was followed by a miserable 1.5 miles of a planned 5 easy miles on Sunday. I walked the balance of the planned run, feeling a little demoralized. When I made it home, I decided to do my best to persevere and change focus slightly. Moving away from my standard training model, I looked up a Run/Walk Half Marathon Training Schedule, with the intention of picking up the plan at the seven week point. I have used a run-walk training plan before, and to pretty good effect, when preparing for the Finger Lakes 50k Trail Race wa-a-a-ay back in 2009. Given my current fitness level (I could handle a plan requiring a 10-15 mile weekly base), my new-found purpose, and the timeline, it seems my best bet to prepare for a 9 hazy, hot, humid and hilly miles.

This morning, I finished the first day of week seven, which calls for 4 miles in the following pattern of exertion: run for 3 minutes, walk for 1 minutes and repeat until the distance expectation is met. It went fairly well, and allowed me to feel a small sense of accomplishment after the prior day's aborted 5 miler. The mile pace was consistent with what I might hope to do on July 6, but over the course of 9 miles I may need to adjust expectation even more.

The desired optimal 10 min mile pace is much slower than I have run in past Boilermakers, but would result in a (literally) pedestrian 1:45 to 2:00 hour finish time. For reference, my prior Boilermakers (including last year's run after a seven year hiatus from the race are:  2015 1:19.40 (8:33 min/mile), 2008 1:07:27 (7:15 min/mile), 2007 1:08:52 (7:24 min/mile). The hilly and crowded course accompanied by potentially difficult weather (humidity and heat) make for a notoriously challenging race. The intent is that dialed-back and reasonable expectations will help avoid defeating myself mentally before crossing the finish line. For me, this year (in addition to being a small part of what I am confident will be a good run for my son) is about finishing. And, a finish is a finish.

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