Making the most of setbacks

Throughout my running career, I feel like I’ve had my fair share of good fortune.  I’ve never missed time with a serious injury and, generally speaking, I’ve found myself on the right side of the outcome ledger.  However, no matter how lucky you might be, not everything is going to work according to plan.

Since my last post, I’ve had 2 races.  One was chaotic and did not end the way I would have hoped.  The other was comfortable and went better than expected.

While accompanying three OU girls to the Stanford Invitational, I had an opportunity to run the 10k myself.  I felt like this was a great opportunity, since the high level of competition in the distance races is hard to find on the East coast.  After watching all three OU girls run well in their races earlier in the night, I hopped on the starting line with 53 guys, all hoping to run a fast 10k.  Unfortunately, I got spiked in the shin pretty badly by another runner with 8 laps to go and had to drop out.

I knew things would be crowded on the track, especially early on; after all, there is only so much space for people to run – think of it as the Daytona 500 of track races if you will.  From the start there was a lot of pushing, shoving, and jostling, as everyone was fighting for position.  During that time, I managed to get spiked a handful of times, but it wasn’t anything too serious.  I found myself on a solid pace (and a likely PR) as the race progressed, but the blow to my leg with 2 miles to go left me unable to finish, and a little frustrated at how physical the race was.  In hindsight, I probably made a few tactical errors that led to some poor positioning and made getting spiked more likely.

Having only run a little over 4 miles in my race out at Stanford, I didn’t need the usual post-race recovery period.  Back in Athens, I hopped right back into the training this week and, as previously planned, raced in today’s Athens half marathon.

The weather in Athens this morning, although a little cold at daybreak, was ideal for the annual marathon/half marathon.  Today’s race was also a chance to run with a friend, former Bobcat, and training partner, Steve Ragg (I credit Steve with helping keep me sane in Athens).  As we planned before the race, Steve and I ran together for the first 7 miles, averaging around 5:04 per mile.  I finished up with a time of 1:07:02, my 2nd fastest half marathon to date.  Steve ended up with a big PR as well, running just over 68-minutes; I was happy for him, as he’s worked really hard over the past year and deserves to see that work rewarded with some fast times.

I’m pleased with how things went today.  Being able to run close to 67-flat in the midst of a heavy training week gives me confidence for my upcoming races.  I want to also say thanks to everyone who makes the Athens marathon/half marathon possible.  As long as I can fit it into my schedule, I’ll continue making it a priority to run this race.

All in all, it feels good to be back racing again.  Although things didn’t go according to plans at Stanford, I was happy with my effort up until I had to drop out.  Because of that, I didn’t get too worked up about not being able to finish.  I figured out a while back that it’s good to learn from the past, not dwell on it.

Godspeed!

Cali

Well, we’ve been in the Bay Area for a couple days now we’ve probably seen the sun for a total of an hour, maybe 2.  Yesterday was a real soaker, with some strong winds to boot.  To be honest, before this trip I almost thought it never rained in Palo Alto.  But lucky for us, the weather is clearing up for tonight’s distance races.  The forecast is looking for temps right around 50, with little wind and only a chance of rain.  Ideal weather for distance races.  I’ll be racing the 10k tonight at 10:48 PST.  Whether you just can’t sleep, or you happen to be coming back from the bars on the east coast, you can tune into Flotrack and watch the race (they won’t be showing races live, but should have them up once the race is complete).

I’ll give a post-race recap this weekend.  Until then, Godspeed!

Heads Carolina (Wake Forest). Tails California (Stanford).

Hello again!  It’s been a while since my last post, but I’ve managed to stay busy.  I’ve spent many of last 6 weeks or so on the road, including trips to South Bend, IN (twice), Seattle, WA, Bowling Green, OH and Wake Forest, NC this past weekend.

Since the USA Half-Marathon race in Houston, my racing plans have taken a backseat to some of the OU runners who I help coach.  The 2010-11 indoor season was one of the best ever for the Bobcat distance runners – and the record books will reflect that!  The girls set new school records in every distance event: 5k, 3k, Mile, and DMR.  It was both inspiring and exciting to see their hard work rewarded with great results.

As for my training, I encountered a few small bumps along the training road in February, which included a bout with the flu and a nagging foot issue.  However, things have taken a turn for the better over the last 3 weeks or so.  And just in time, because it looks like the Spring weather has arrived in Ohio – we all hope, at least!

I’ll be back to racing this coming weekend, running the 10k at the Stanford Invitational on Friday night.  In a little tune-up workout this past weekend, I paced an OU senior during the first 5k of his 10k at the Wake Forest meet.  On a very warm (80s) night in Winston-Salem, we ran the 5k in 14:50.  That’s a pace I feel comfortable with, so hopefully I’ll be up to running that pace or faster.  It’s been a while since my last 10k on the track (April of 2008 was my last one), so I’m excited about getting back to the 400-meter oval and running a fast time.

Check back later in the week for more details on my trip to Cali!  I’ll be traveling with 3 of our OU girls who will be competing as well.  Until next time, Godspeed!

USA Half Marathon Championships post-race review: another PR!

It’s been a while since my last post, so let me catch everyone up on the last few weeks.  It’s been more than a week since my latest race.  My trip to Houston was marked by a new personal best time in the half marathon, where I ran 1:06:28 and placed 23rd at the USA Half Marathon Championships.

The natural tendency after a race is over is to grade your performance on the finishing time.  But rarely does your finish time tell the whole story. Sometimes you have a bad time, but you raced well.  Sometimes you have a great time, but you finished further back than you wanted, place-wise.  So I like to give myself a few days to reflect on a race before I settle on my final assessment.

Obviously, I was happy with a new PR.  Whenever you set PR’s, it means you are heading in the right direction.  Initially however, I was a little disappointed because one of the goals I set for myself prior to the race was to break 66-minutes.  However, after a few days of scanning post-race results and interviews, I’m more encouraged with my performance.

My main goal when I enter championship events is to place well.  When I look at where I finished and who finished in the places around me, I am really excited about the race.  The guy who finished just ahead of me was the USA Marathon Champion this past October at my race in Minneapolis. The guy who finished in 8th place at the Twin Cities race ended up 25th in Houston.  Leading up to the race, I felt like my fitness level was better than in the fall, so it’s gratifying to confirm those thoughts.

The race was also a chance to run what is scheduled to be the Olympic Trials course for next year.  Houston is known for pretty flat, fast courses, but the course we ran was tougher than I expected.  There were 3 180-degree turns (slated to be 7 turns next year) during the race and it really slowed things down on those particular miles.  Afterwards, my left foot was feeling the effects of those turns, as my sock and shoe were turned red from some bleeding.  There seemed to be some chatter that the course for next year might change because of some negative feedback from the runners, so we’ll wait and see.

All in all, I had a great time in Houston.  I was lucky enough to have some familiar faces cheering me on, as my aunt, uncle and cousins were in town for the weekend.  A big thank you goes out to y’all for all the support and I had a great time spending some time with y’all (there from the South, so they’ll be addressed accordingly!).

I’ve spent about 4 days recovering from the race with some easy running, but I’m back into some serious training now.   I’m hoping to race once more this indoor season, before my attention is turned to the track this Spring, and hopefully some more PR’s!

Houston Bound

We are getting closer to Saturday, which means we are getting closer to race day!  I’m writing this entry from the terminal at the Columbus airport.  I thought I would take a short break from people watching, which is single-handedly the greatest thing about flying, to update everyone on how you can watch/find results from the race this weekend.

The half marathon start time is set for 8 a.m. (CT) – that’s 9 a.m. for all my east coast followers.  Because this race serves as the US Championships for the half marathon, there should be a live webcast at the website listed below:

http://www.runnerspace.com/USA-Half-Marathon

The folks at Runnerspace generally do a pretty good job with this, so hopefully if you make plans to wake up early and watch, it will work for you.

Like I said in a previous post, the field for this race is filled with talent.  This will arguably be the toughest competition, from top to bottom, that I have ever run against.  Saturday will be my first chance to race against some guys who I have looked up to as an aspiring distance runner: Ryan Hall, Abdi, and Jorge Torres.  I’m also looking forward to a little battle of Ohio that will take place between myself and fellow Ohioans Josh and Jason Ordway, Matt Folk, Chris Reis, and Leo Kormanik.  I guess you could say state bragging rights are on the line.

Somehow I’ve made it through the last 6 weeks of winter in Ohio uninjured and without any flu bugs, so all systems should be a go.  I’m also looking forward to an extra boost from some of my family who will be cheering me on at the race.  It’ll be the first time that the Halls will get to see me run and I’m looking forward to spending some time with them over the next few days!

My feet will be on the ground in Texas in a few hours.  Thanks to everyone for all the good luck messages.  Godspeed!