Sunday, February 12, 2012

Reflections on the 2012 Long Beach Snowflake Run

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

Ran the race, got the t-shirt
Yesterday's 4 mile PR was a nice surprise. I'm hoping it had more to do with my training than the fact that the race is run over a fairly flat course. As always, there are lessons learned after a race. Besides the obvious (don't wear threadbare Hattori's in freezing cold, wet weather) there may be deeper discoveries.

For one thing, I learned that my ideal pacing for a four mile race should be more similar to running a 5K than an 8K. Going all out on the first mile yesterday didn't hurt me and I was able to maintain a credible pace for the remaining three. On 8K's and 5 mile runs, a start like that would put me into bonk territory before the end (and it has).

Second, although I've run about 25 races since 2009, I had never taken advantage of following a "pacer." This is a fellow racer who runs a little faster than I would normally go. The pros use them and now I understand why. Locking in on a stronger runner, and blocking out everything else, helped me maintain a competitive pace through the last mile of the race.

On the same theme, I continue to exploit a lesson that Dave taught me a couple of years ago regarding start position. Even though I tend to finish in the 30-50% percentile, starting closer to the front (especially on races that don't provide a starting line sensor) is a great way to achieve a fast first mile. It's like the pacer concept, except everyone around you is helping. A high tide lifts all boats.

Despite everything I've read about essential rest after a race or a hard run, I continue to go out for easy recovery runs the next day. I did that today, in the 7 degree weather (with wind chill) because I was still a little wired from Saturday. I purposely maintained a pace that was minutes slower than yesterday's and it felt good for the first half hour. At that point the strain of the race (and poor rest overnight) caught up to me.

I toughed out the last half mile and was happy to have put in a couple of good efforts this weekend. Next weekend I will start my half marathon training where I'll need to complete at least one seven mile base run. The training never ends, and neither does the learning.

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