Monday, March 28, 2011

Boulder Spring Half: Lessons

In the end, despite the fact that I started it late, my Garmin time for yesterday's Boulder Spring Half was only about one second off my actual time. That time was 1:57:19 (the Garmin time, linked below, was 1:57:20).

The associated numbers: my average pace was 8:57/mile; I was 39th out of 100 women in the 35-39 age group; I was 145th out of 573 women (damn--woulda been nice to be top 25%!); and 396th out of 1017 people.

This performance would have elated me last fall, when my only goal was to break two hours. But this time I was disappointed. I was hoping to run this one about 20 seconds/mile faster, which would have shaved five minutes off my total time. So in the end, I was able to meet only my "not-my-day" goal of beating my old time. Not super satisfying. I was much happier with the Snowman Stampede in February.

After some moping last night--which Dan talked me out of; some of his reasoning is below--I'm going to take this as a learning experience. Here is what I'm taking away from it:

1. Don't get sick the week of a race. In my defense, it wasn't like I could do anything about my kids bringing home a cold that, it turned out, I had no immunity to! But I could have been more careful in other places about hand-washing. And I *certainly* should have skipped the wine that interrupted what may have been the night's sleep that could have helped me avoid getting so ill.

I'm still reeling from this cold. Last night's sleep was poor because both kids woke up around 12:30 a.m. and I could not go back to sleep until 3:30. In the morning, my ears, which had cleared during the race, were stuffed up again and my head had re-morphed into an echo chamber. Blech! I hope this is my last cold for a long long time.

2. At the beginning, line up closer to the front. If you look at the Garmin results, you'll see the first mile, when I was caught up in the herd, was by far the slowest. I told Dan that I'm paranoid (especially in Boulder) about getting in the way of truly fast runners at the start of a race. He pointed out that this alone cost me a full minute. I was quite close to being in the top third of finishers. Therefore, he said, I should have stood in at least the top half of the starters. When he put it that way....

3. Do tempo runs on hillier courses. Because of the winter's darkness and cold, I did most of my tempo runs inside on the treadmill. That has to change, so that I can learn to maintain speed when the going gets tough, as it did at the end of this race.

4. Continue to work on fueling. Maybe I let the cold cut into my appetite a little too much this past week. Maybe Jelly Bellies aren't enough for a long race. I'm going to keep weighing my options. I enjoyed having no twinges at all from my gut. Surely there's a happy medium.

Here's another point that I'm unsure about:

Throughout this training cycle, I attended bootcamp classes most Tuesday and Thursday mornings. These always came after my scheduled speed workout and tempo runs for the week, which I did on the same days. I intended for the bootcamp classes to be my strength training component. But Dan thinks maybe they were too much, and I'm sure the authors of the FIRST program would consider it too much. Does anyone out there have an opinion? They never slowed me down (at least not that I could see) during subsequent training runs, though I do think they might involve more extra cardio than I need.

I'm going to keep going with bootcamp at least until summer, when I will start marathon training. Doing it will help me get my weight down and keep my muscle mass a bit ahead in my body's eternal battle with fat. But I will revisit this question when June rolls around.

Alright! It's time to move on. To quote Runner's World Editor-at-Large Amby Burfoot (who won the Boston Marathon in the 60s): "A champion understands that running performances are like roller coasters, with many ups and downs, and that you have to accept the good and the bad...A champion has vision. A champion dreams of things that haven't been and believes they are possible. A champion says, 'I can.'"

Next post: what April and May hold.


  1. Good advice, re: moving on. This was just another step in the journey to qualifying for Boston; if it was your end goal to run a sub 1:50 half on March 27, 2011, then you could justifiably be disappointed. But that is not your end goal, and your performance was a step forward that shows that elements of your training are working. This is great feedback that you can use to propel yourself toward your final goal. Good luck and keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks, Steve! Hey, do you still need a Utah marathon? You could join us in Logan on Sept. 17....Just a thought....:^)

  3. Terzah, you have everything to be proud of. Running with an upper respiratory infection is a major undertaking (I doubt that I would have crawled out of bed). The first mile was a serious bottleneck - worse than last fall. Also my Garmin gave me an extra .1 mile too, even though I ran fairly straight. As for nutrition, I'm still chuckling about how well my mini Milky Ways and squeezable applesauces kept my energy even. I doubt that is a running diet for the journals.
    You are making great progress, keep on pushing!!

  4. Terzah, I would love to join you in Utah, but events have conspired against that. Alyssa, my wife, is due with our first child on September 12th, and I don't think they make jogging strollers for five day olds . . . . Maybe next year?