Saturday, January 14, 2006

Back from vacation and the 20 miler!

As you can see from the multiple posts, I am back from vacation. Actually, I was back home at the start of the year. Lot of blogging to catch up with...

During vacation :

Had a lot of fun and actually relived moments of my childhood :). In between sessions of old stories and a lot of unregulated fun, I could manage just one 40 min. run. I thought it was good enough!

Training :
Back to training in Jan 1st week. My quality workout was excruciating as expected! We had to do 12 laps in the 400 mtr track. All 12 at 5K pace and a recovery of 200 mts after each lap. I walked through the last two or three recoveries and it was not enjoyable !!

On Jan 8th we ran the runtex 20 miler. The longest 'official' race we will do before the marathon! I did reasonably well at approx 2hrs and 52 mins. I lost my chip on the way and not to mention the extremely crazy winds at an ambient temperature of 80 F!! The winds actually pushed the runners back as it was acting against us through most of the course.

What was the highlight ? Not my run..It was the amazing efforts of my team. I am really proud to be a part of the team whose members have time and again proved that nothing can stop them! Arvind and ashwini need a special mention here. They have never run a marathon before and here they were braving 'extreme' conditions that any runner wouldn't like to be in! Ashwini had extreme back pain and had to drop out at mile 10. She really wanted to push further. But, I am thankful and proud of her decision to not take the risk. It really didn't make any sense to injure yourself before the big one. I know how bad she felt and how much she wanted to complete it...

But, nothing is lost. A battle lost for the higher goal is a strategic move and a very sensible move. I am sure she will face no such problems during the marathon. As I had mentioned earlier, the whole marathon effort is not about running fast or creating a record. If that were the case all of us ..even if we run sub 4 marathons are losers!

Its not just about being fast or finishing in a good time. Its about giving your best for a good cause. With that in mind all the members of team asha are true champions! They braved all the tough conditions to get out there and do the deed..

To understand how tough the conditions it is in the words of our coach, one of austin's (maybe america's) best runners..

Why were these runners thankful for the soul crushing “defeat” of the RunTex race? Because they learned a number of invaluable lessons in the race that helped them prepare for their main goal, the Freescale Marathon. Y’all should look at yesterday’s race in the same light. Maybe you needed a spanking, & you got it. Now let’s learn form the experience & start making the necessary adjustments before race day.

Lessons Learned
I was not out at the race but I can hazard a few guesses as to what might have derailed you off the race plan:

•Weather: You can never change the weather, but you can change your race plan to accommodate for hot or windy conditions. In my experience, a heavy wind is the absolute worst weather to run in; it saps your energy, which crushes your will & drive, it raises your heart rate precipitously, & requires a greater effort to run through. The best plan of attack in windy weather is to change your mindset to one in which you try to cut through the wind with as little effort as possible, this is a useful adjustment when there are sections on the course where you can tuck out of the wind but on a course where you are confronted with long stretches facing in to a 20+ mph headwind, your only choice is to adjust your pace to one that doesn’t shoot your heart rate skyward & soldier on. I believe that you can expect a pace per mile differential of between 30-60 seconds when running directly into a brutal wind. One of the posters (a dreaded anonymous poster, use your real name damn it…we’re all on the same team) mentioned that they averaged over 30 seconds per mile slower than MGP over the course of the entire race. This is certainly NOT a bad showing given the conditions. I would have expected much worse, especially if you shut it down over the final 5 miles due to wind & the overall race plan. You cannot expect to maintain MGP in these kinds of conditions.

•Starting Too Fast: Our goal was to run MGP for 14 miles. How many of you were successful in keeping your pace at MGP in the first 5 miles? This is the critical period where you are in dire need of being patient & keeping your long term goal in sight. Once you have gotten through the first 15-16 miles at MGP you can determine if faster than MGP will be feasible. Do not run faster any earlier. If you did & were not successful then you know your main culprit.

•Hydration/Nutrition: You cannot always count on the aid stations to have everything you need to keep properly hydrated & balanced. A day like yesterday is the type that usually gets folks forgetting to stay hydrated. It starts a little cool then heats up quick; it was very, very dry & the wind can make even getting the water into your mouth a struggle. For these reasons you need to have a sound hydration & nutrition plan in place to meet an weather or aid station failure. I recommend that you take electrolyte pills/tablets/capsules with you in the race to ensure that you get the correct balance of electrolytes (at least 2 per hour) & that you carry your own energy gel in case they have only water on the course. With electrolytes & energy gel you can be confident that you have what you need in terms of hydration & nutrition in any race that has water on the course.

•Mental Toughness: This running business is not just about putting one foot in front of the other or keeping on a certain pace, it is about being mentally unstoppable. Until you adopt the attitude of a warrior who will not be stopped in the pursuit of your goal, you can count on failing to meet your goals. Experiencing a race like the one you ran yesterday should have shown you that you absolutely must have your head right before you start the Freescale Marathon. There will be little voices in your head telling you that you cannot go on, that it is OK to slow up, that you are not tough enough to meet the goals you have set, or even that you should speed up now to make up any future failure. Your defense must be fierce stubbornness. An uncompromising refusal to fail. You have to practice that attitude, folks, you have to be ready to go into battle with the course, with the weather, with yourself. You can be victorious if you are prepared.

Post-Race Blues
I know some of you are disheartened by the RunTex 20M. You may feel like your MGP is too ambitious, that you cannot hope to maintain that pace through a 26.2 mile race. If your MGP has seemed to be accurate throughout the program thus far, do not abandon it based on yesterday’s race. The conditions were such that you cannot expect to maintain MGP throughout the entire race. If you were able to hold MGP for 14 miles yesterday, then I can assure you that your pace is right. If you were unable to hold pace through the wind but were able to find MGP on any sections of the course were the wind was behind you or it was still, and then be encouraged. Your pace is still within grasp. Once we begin our taper & you have the 3M race to assess your fitness I think you’ll be recommitted to your MGP. Do not abandon your MGP.

Some of you may have only been able to hold MGP for 6-8 miles or were forced to walk sections of the race due to the wind. Yes, you have reason to be concerned, but do not beat yourself up. Be gentle with yourself & recognize that you finished a race that was 20 miles long. For many of you this is further than you’ve ever run before…you should be proud that you stayed the course, that you were able to keep the principle goal in mind of finishing the race & staying the course. There is absolutely no shame in this. You will be significantly more prepared for any difficulty that rears its ugly head on February 19th in the Freescale Marathon.

For those of you unable to finish, accept it, learn from it & move on. There is work to be done to get prepared for the Freescale Marathon. We still have 6 weeks to work out any sickness, fix injuries, & shore up mental defenses. You need to ask yourself a few questions:

•What happened specifically to take you out the race? You need to assess the damage by determining the cause. Be very honest with yourself on this account. We need to determine what went wrong if we have any hope in getting it fixed.

• What do you need to do to fix the situation? You might be able to answer this yourself, but maybe you need to talk with your coach, perhaps you need to make every effort to come to the injury clinic or see a sports doctor to assess the issue. Get help in determining how to ensure that this does not happen at the Freescale Marathon.

• Are you committed to getting back on track? Without making a decision to learn form your failures you cannot hope to improve. But also essential is determining that you want to meet your goals at the Freescale Marathon. Do you?

If the answer is “Yes!” then you are halfway there. We still have plenty of time to get you where you need to be before the 19th of February.

If the answer is “I don’t know…” please talk with your coach. They have been through all of this before & they are a wonderful resource to help you get back on your feet & excited about accomplishing your goals. The Rogue coaches are more than cheerleaders. They are experienced, compassionate, inspiring individuals who are committed to your success. Let then help you meet your goals.

If the answer is “No!” then send me an email ( & let me know why you don’t want this anymore. After 18 weeks of determination, hard work, focus & commitment I can’t believe that a little more encouragement can’t help you recommit to this process.

What Now?
It is time to get recovered from this event, lick your wounds & wounded pride & search your soul. Then it’s back to work. We have a recovery week this week & then 3 weeks of good quality workouts before we begin the taper process & the goal is in sight. The next workouts are hard but they are designed to begin to really build your confidence & help you tune in that MGP. Make the commitment to keep your eyes on the prize over the need 3 weeks & all your sacrifices will be repaid on race day. I know you can all do that. Yesterday was a good day to die, now just pick your selves back up, wipe off the dust & keep moving down this long road to the Freescale Marathon.

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