Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon & Big Sur Training

I happened to be in front of computer when they opened registration for Big Sur marathon last year and some how got in within seconds. After NYC marathon in November I did rest my running legs for a while but did some amazing hikes in mighty national parks of Utah (Zion, Bryce & Capitol Reef) in December for couple of weeks. During my time in Utah I also did get few trail runs at various elevations ranging from 5000-9000 ft. It was almost New Year when I returned and my legs felt ready for another marathon training.
Most of my trainings are heavily focused on cross and strength training and running only takes up about 30% of workouts. I did invest a lot of time in January and February building strength & trying to get some leg speed in parallel.  Cold weather and icy conditions kind of forced me to do all speed workouts on the Treadmill. On Tuesdays & Thursdays I spent about 90 minutes to 2 hours beating myself with various strength, core, balancing and plyometric workouts. Then step on the treadmill to do some intervals, hill repeats or tempo runs. Idea was to simulate running on tired legs scenario. For first few weeks they were dreadful and I had hard time keeping 10 min/mile pace on the treadmill. Gradually I embraced the torture and was able to get things going.  I made sure to run long runs on Saturday outdoors (irrespective of the weather) and mapped routes with tons of hills.  All my long runs had about 1000+ ft of ascent and somewhat equal amount of quad busting downhill.
 I invested in lots of cross training like speed intervals on Spinning, Elliptical and stair master machines and a long bike ride the day after long runs.  Swimming and Yoga became great active recovery workouts on Mondays. Weather improved in March and I was able to get few weeks of out door track workout, hill repeats and tempo runs. I was surprised I was able to run about 90 sec-2 min faster than Treadmill and certainly lifted my confidence a little bit.
I felt the need to test myself by running a hilly half marathon and River town runners put up a great race in Sleeping Hollow NY. I ran this race on Mar 21st the day after a big snowstorm. It was cold and windy but roads were quite cleaned up.
I had beaten myself with killer track and tempo workouts and went into the race on tired legs with no expectations. But my goal was to go slightly below my tempo pace for first half and then try to go bit faster. Guns went out and my first mile was flat and my pace was around 7:50 min/mile and I realized if I don’t slow down I’ll regret it.  Next few miles had some ridiculous climbs and my pace naturally fell closer to 9 min/mile. After that I seem to have gotten used to running both uphill & downhill and maintained a steady 8:30-8:45 pace for the rest of the race. I noticed I could never go all out during the whole race due to hilly nature of the course.  Just after mile 13, I wanted to give 100% but that’s where they put a huge climb of over 10% grade. I ran like hell and by the time I was finished I was gasping for air and almost felt like passing out. I looked up my time and it was 1:53:49 seconds and avg pace of 8:37 min/mile.  That was a PR by 70 seconds since my half last year at Adirondack’s half marathon.  For a moment I felt like celebrating, as this was much harder race with 1100+ ft of climb and 1000+ ft. of downhill.
I just wrapped up two more weeks of hard training. Yesterday’s 17-mile long run was mentally and physically hard. I was ridiculously sore and stiff from my track workout on Thursday and throughout the long run it felt like I was running at mile 20 of a marathon. I was glad to be done and I’m very much looking forward to taper for next couple of weeks.  Flying out to San Jose on 23rd and eagerly looking forward to run Big Sur Marathon on the 26th. I’m still nervous about those monster hills & road camber at Big Sur. We’ll see how it goes… Goal is to stay calm and enjoy the race and see what happens.