Friday, August 16, 2013

Fun at the Stroke-n-Stride

1500 meter swim/5 k run
Boulder Reservoir

I'm recovering from Race #2 of Race-O-Rama 2013 season of 3 races in 4 weeks so I know the perfect training strategy - enter another race!  Makes perfect sense.  But I can't let summer go by without doing a Stroke-n-Stride out at the Boulder Rez and the last one is next Thursday which would be even stupider seeing as I have my longest regular season Xterra race on the following Saturday.  So tonight was it.  Also, I wanted to get a hard run workout in this week and it's hard to push myself when I'm recovering.  If I put money down for a race I know I'll push myself.  Also, the swim is 1500 meters, the same as my upcoming Xterra and close to the mile swim at nationals so I can work on pacing.  When I go to the Rez for morning masters workouts I typically swim 3000 meters straight, sometimes 2000 but pretty much never 1500 so it's good to see what that distance feels like in a race situation.  So Onward Ho with Race-o-Rama 2013.

Things started off a little iffy with a small storm front blowing through.  If there's thunder or lightning they shut the beach and make everyone get out of the water for 30 minutes.  Race start is at 6:00 p.m. and almost right after I buy my entry at 5:00 there's lightning.  It's not a proper storm, just some stray clouds blowing over but there's the occasional rumble of thunder and lightning all the way until 5:30.  Then thankfully it stops so we're on schedule for the 6:00 start.

Please to go away

However the lifeguards at the Rez won't let us have a warm-up.  A bunch of us get in the water a ways from the start line so we can at least swim to the start.  It's not the warm-up I was hoping for but it's good practice for those times when you can't get in a good warm-up at a race.  Water temp. was supposedly 70 degrees in the morning and now is supposedly 77 degrees.  I'm worried at first because I've got my full wetsuit on but there's no way the water is 77 and I'm glad for the full suit.

We line up for the start and the race director tells us that if we hear a siren we'll have to get out right away.  This sounds like it could be dangerous if everyone turns around and starts swimming every which way for shore.  The start goes off and I throw myself into the crowd.  If I can get used to swimming in a group I can take advantage of drafting in the group start at nationals.  It's a typical washing machine scenario at the start, arms flailing, people going all over the place.  But there are only 87 people so after a few minutes I have a little space to swim.  Then I hear sort of a siren sound but no one else is turning around so I keep going as well but I start sighting more to keep an eye on the crowd.  Eventually I figure out it's probably the start horn for the shorter course athletes.

By the first buoy of the first 750 meter lap I latch onto the feet of someone swimming my pace.  It's a guy with a nice strong kick and he's swimming straight so I follow along catching a nice draft.  But after the turn back to shore at the third buoy he starts swimming too far off course and I lose sight of him.  I'm on my own for the rest of the first lap.

There's a short beach run to get back to the start for the second lap and this year I run it more aggressively than last.  I want to prove to myself that I can get back in the water with my heart rate up a bit.  A woman in a pink cap gets out of the water with me and passes me on the run part but when we get back in she's not that far ahead of me.  I catch up and try to pass but realize she's swimming about my pace so I fall in behind her and draft.  She doesn't have a strong of a kick and she's not swimming as straight as the other guy so I lose her now and then but I manage a nice draft until the final turn.  About half way to shore I decide to pick up the pace and pass her.  For a while it seems that I've lost her but when I get to shore I see someone with a pink cap on my heels.  But when I stand up to get out of the water I realize it's a guy and someone who swims in my lane at masters.  At the beginning of summer he was a bit faster than me but today he ends up beating me out of the water by only 2 seconds.

Transition area is very informal.  Just throw your stuff down where ever and hope you can remember where you put it.

Thankfully I spot my stuff right away (had trouble finding it last year) and I have a mostly quick transition.  I didn't think to bring a race belt so I have to pin my number to my shirt on the fly but no big deal.  My masters lane mate takes almost twice the time I take in transition.  He catches me on the run but it takes him over 6 minutes and about 3/4 of a mile.  It's no matter anyway, I'm running my own race and going by perceived heart rate.  I don't like to mess with the gizmos when I race but I practice with a heart rate monitor so I have an idea of what a particular heart rate feels like.  My strategy is to run as hard as I can since it's a flat, fast course.  And about 3/4 of a mile into it I remember how much I hate 5 k's and running on the flat.  It's mostly a dirt trail with some paved roads at the start and finish but still, hardly the fun of trail running.  This is so not my thing.  Nonetheless I have done some track work this past spring with boot camp and I've even done some fartlek running out at the Rez after early morning masters swims. 

I'm thinking my last timed mile on the track was 10 minutes or so, horrible slow, so I'm shocked when my first mile split clicks in at 9:25.  I have a random goal of breaking 30 mins. for the 5 k but I until this first split I have no idea how realistic that is especially since I'm not exactly recovered from Xterra Lory on Saturday.  So excited to see a split in the 9's.  If I can keep up the pace I'll easily break 30 mins.

So I keep at it, breathing very heavy  but keeping it controlled.  Sometimes I think that my way of running fast is to start breathing fast so instead I calm down my breathing and pick up the pace.  I find myself running in bursts of speed and recovery.  Soon I can see the turn around point - it's an out and back course - and my split is 9:26.  Again, excited to see I'm holding my pace.  Last year I was running 10 minute miles so I'm very happy.  After the turn around I hear some feet behind me and I pick up the pace until they become fainter.  I ease off to recover and as they become louder I pick up the pace again.  I can feel myself starting to tire but I want to stay strong until the end.  It seems someone is always passing me at the end of the race and though I can't control other people I'm determined to keep up my pace this time.  When I hit the paved road with about 1/2 mile to go it feels like the feet are right behind me so I pick up the pace even more and see how long I can hold it.  There's a nice downhill and I pick up a bit more speed.  I hit mile 3 in 9:11, the fastest split yet, and I don't hear the feet behind me at all.  That last .1 mile takes 49 seconds and the feet never catch me and I hit my goal of a sub-30 5k in 28:49.  Very very happy with that.  This is not a fast time for a 5k by any means but it's a milestone for me, especially on tired legs.

There's a cool gizmo at the finish that you can type your bib number into and it spits out a receipt with your results.  So cool.  I'm a sucker for stuff like that and I'm happy that I don't have to wait around for my results.  My final time is 1:03:11 which is 3 minutes, 19 seconds faster than last year.  My run is 1:41 faster which doesn't sound like much but is a big improvement for me especially since I don't train for that type of run.  Feeling optimistic for Xterra Buffalo Creek in a week and a half.  Will get in a few more short, hard workouts and then next week I'll rest up.  Meanwhile I have an agility trial this weekend but only 2 runs per day and it's a small trial so I should be able to get some training in in the afternoons.

I have 2 more swim races at the Rez, one is the Bare Bones next Wednesday night put on by my masters group and the other is a 1.2 mile swim on Aug. 31st put on by the Without Limits folks who also do the Stroke-n-Strides and 2 of my Xterras.  Thought I was going to miss that last race because I also have an agility trial but I didn't sign up for Saturday's runs so turns out I can do it after all.  Hopefully I can pick up the pace a bit, I know I can swim faster than 1:58 and while I don't want to go too crazy on the swim at my Xterra's I'm sure I can go a bit faster and these upcoming races should help convince me of that.

Final Stats

Total:  1:03:11  (Last year 1:06:30)

Swim:  33:08 including beach run, 32:08 pure swimming (1:58/100 yards),  (Last year 34:13 including beach run, 32:59 pure swimming time (2:01/100 yards))

Lap 1:  15:53 mins./1:56 per 100 yards,   (Last year 16:38)
Beach Run: 1:00 guesstimate  (Last year 1:14)
Lap 2: 16:16 mins/ 1:59 per 100 yards  (Last year 16:21)

Transition:  1:16  mins.  (Last year 1:46)

Run: 28:49 mins. (Last year 30:33 (9:52 min./mile))

Mile 1:  9:25  (Last year 10:02)

Mile 2:  9:26  (Last year 10:05)

Mile 3:  9:11  (Last year 9:32)

Mile 0.1:  49 seconds  (Last year 54 secs.)

6/8 age group
23/40 female
64/87 overall

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