Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ragnar Relay test run(s)

So, I'm doing the Ragnar Relay Del Sol next weekend, and just completed a pretty sweet simulation this morning. For those who don't know what a Ragnar Relay is, it's a 12 person relay race covering about 200 miles. They have them all over the country. The Del Sol relay runs from Prescott to Tempe on Friday and Saturday.

I had started to get a little nervous a few weeks ago that I wouldn't be able to do it at all because my ankle started to really bother me. I think there was something going on in my peroneal muscle and tendon. But after wearing a brace and taking almost 3 weeks off, I was able to get back into it with enough time to get some final training in. I really wanted to simulate the relay as best I could to see not only how my ankle would hold up, but also to see how it would feel to run three times in a little over 24 hours.

My plan was to run Friday morning, Friday evening, and Saturday morning. My legs for the relay will be 5.5 miles, 8.8 miles, and 8.4 miles for a total distance of 22.7 miles, so I did runs of 4.2 miles, 6.3 miles, and 5.0 miles for a total of 15.5 miles. I wanted to be able to run 8 minute miles and not push it at all just to play it safe on my ankle.

Run #1, 4.22 miles, 33:22, 7:55 pace
I got up at 5 AM for this run. I don't think I've run this early since before Christmas. It was dark and a little chilly, but not bad at all. I started out with my first mile around 8:20, but I really picked up the pace without realizing it and kept the rest under 8:00. I even ran one mile in 7:33. I was a little worried that I was going too fast, especially since I still had two more runs to do, but I was feeling really good, so I just went with it.

Run #2, 6.34 miles, 48:53, 7:43 pace
I wasn't able to get out last night until after 9 PM. I had gotten my girls to bed by 8, but my son was still awake, and I had already offered to take care of him while my wife had a friend over. By the time I got him to bed, it was pretty late, and very dark. But there was a beautiful starry sky to enjoy. I really wasn't sure how this run would go after having dinner only a couple hours earlier. I'm not used to running in the evening, especially with so much food in my tummy. The first couple miles or so, I was really feeling it, but after that, I felt great. I felt strong and had lots of energy. I did a two loop course. The first just over 25 minutes, and the second in 23 and some change. I really felt like I was in a groove, and was tempted to do another loop, but knew I still had one more run to do in the morning.

Run #3, 5.02 miles, 38:21, 7:39 pace
I stayed up a little too late last night, and couldn't stop thinking/dreaming about my next run. So I was pretty tired this morning, but I did get up looking forward to this run. As soon as I started off, I knew this wasn't going to be as good as last night's run. I felt really slow and like I had no energy, so I was very surprised when I kept looking at my pace and seeing that I was well below the 8 minute pace I was anticipating, thinking that can't be right. And it turns out that my average pace for this run was the fastest of the whole weekend.

Was this little experiment a success? I'd definitely say so! My ankle held up extremely well. I was able to increase my pace with each run (although the last one didn't feel as easy and comfortable as the first two). Plus, it was exciting to do something I'd never done before. I'm getting more and more excited to do it again next weekend! Expect a race report and hopefully some pictures then.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Desert Classic Marathon volunteer report

"I should have been running this race," I kept thinking.

I had been planning to run the half marathon last weekend, but had to change those plans a couple weeks ago when I started having issues with my ankle.

"Well, if I can't run it, I might as well volunteer and help out."

Volunteering for races is a lot of fun. It's a different experience being on the other side of the water station handing out the water instead of running by and taking it. I've volunteered for a few races before, but this was my first time at a water station, and I gotta say the water station is a lot more exciting than the registration table.

I was teamed up with Rio and her daughter, and we made our way to water stop #1, 1.5 miles from the start. When we got to the stop, the supplies were already there, but we had to get it all set up, which was a little difficult in the dark (trying to read the directions on the sports drink package and calculating how many ounces are in 5 gallons), but we managed with time to spare before the runners got to us. While we waited, we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise in the east, and a sweet moonset (is that a word?) in the west.
As it was my first time at a water stop, I had to work on my hand-off skills. My hands got spilled on a few times starting out, but it didn't take too long getting the hang of it. I think I only missed one hand-off the entire day. That's if you don't count handing sports drink to my friend who called out water (in my defense, though, he did reach for the wrong hand). Luckily, he was only 1.5 miles from finishing his first marathon (in stellar time, by the way), that he didn't mind at all.

Hopefully, this ankle thing will take care of itself really soon as I've got lots of running plans. But if not, I'll be back to volunteering, that's for sure.