Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beat The Heat 5k

Hey Everyone!  This past Saturday night I competed in the Beat The Heat 5k in Winston Salem, NC which is also the NC USATF 5k Road Championship.  It always draws a great field of runners from across the state and this year was no exception.

I drove up with my Mom and Dad and little brother and sister (gotta bring my cheering squad) late Saturday afternoon as the race was set to start at 7:00 PM.  The weather was pretty typical for this race and for NC in late July.  The weather app on my phone showed a temperature of 86F and dew point of 64F at the race start, pretty warm and sticky, but not bad by NC standards and it didn't feel too bad.

On Friday, my Dad and I sat down and came up with a game plan for the race.  I haven't done that much speed work so far this cycle, coming off of Grandma's Marathon last month, so I wasn't sure how I'd do in a 5k race, but I knew I was plenty strong.  We wanted to be sure I didn't start off too quick with my lack of speed work so far, but we figured I could close well the second half of the race with my strength.  So we turned my Garmin to the kilometer setting and came up with a target pace range for each km.  This is the way I have been doing my workouts recently so I felt confident with this approach.

After adjusting for the course here was our plan:

1st km:  3:20-3:25  (slight up-hill)
2nd km:  3:15-3:20 (downhill)
3rd km:  3:35-3:40 (long uphill)
4th km:  3:25-3:30 (first part uphill)
5th km:  3:15-3:20 (downhill)
Target time:  16:45 to 17:15

By 7:00 PM all the competitors were on the starting line and we were off!

Here is a video of the start:

It was crowded but I worked to get in my rhythm and made it the 1st kilometer in 3:20 - right on the fast end of my target range - awesome - but that put me in 5th place, a little further back than I had hoped.

Here I am coming through the 1 mile marker:

The second kilometer is downhill so I let it roll some and came through in 3:16 for that km and 6:36 overall. and had moved up into 3rd place.

The 3rd kilometer is a long gradual uphill and so I knew this would be a tough one.   I stay focused and powered my way up and my watch beeped 3k in 10:13 / 3:37 for the 3rd KM - right in range.  At this point I had started to close in 2nd place and made it my mission to catch her by the 4k point.  It was hard as the first half of the km is uphill but I managed to catch her and take over 2nd right as my watch beeped again.  The 4th km was 3:32 and 13:45 overall.  I was 2 seconds out of range that km but knew I had worked hard and hit several of the early splits on the low end of the range so I wasn't worried.

I knew several of the girls I was racing had collegiate middle distance backgrounds, so now I had to keep pushing the pace so that I didn't find myself in a kick with a college 1500 runner.  That last kilometer is downhill so I worked hard and hit my fastest split of the night with a 3:11, 4 seconds faster than my plan.  :)

This put me at 5k in 16:56 and the faster half of my goal range. WooHoo!  But the problem with pacing by your Garmin is that the course may measure differently and that was the case today.  It ended up being 5.13k on my watch so when my watch beeped for 5k, I still had 130 meters to run.  That took me 24 seconds so my official time was 17:20 and 2nd place female.  I know the course is accurate, so that is my time, and I am sure my Garmin was off because of not being able to run the tangents because of the crowded race and maybe because of a few big sweeping turns that Garmin's usually has accuracy issues on.  But I am OK with that.  I trained by my Garmin, we used that training to set-up my race plan and I was able to execute my plan as I wanted.  While I would have liked a faster official time, I am happy with the way I executed the race and being able to hit my pace targets, especially on a warm summer evening.

Here is a video of me in the final 100 meters:

Congratulations to Andie Cozzarelli (former NC State runner and current Oiselle elite team runner) on getting the overall win.  She ran a strong race from start to finish and hit a road PR of 16:53.  This is my 3rd time finishing 2nd in the NC USATF State 5k Champs - hopefully I'll get to win it one year. ;P

Here is a picture of the top 6 women at the awards ceremony afterwards (Andie and I are the 2 shortest)

I got an extra special award though from my little sister in the form of a ginormous hug! :)  Rosie hugs are the best!!

I have a couple more races planned before a fall marathon.  I am beyond excited about my fall marathon but can't announce which one quite yet.  Hopefully soon.

And then it is on to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials / U.S. Marathon Championships in Feb 2016.   I am officially signed-up and looking forward to the opportunity to race against the best in the country in the distance I specialize in.

I had a meeting with my parents this week and am making a few tweaks to my training (adding in more quality) to help me be as competitive as possible in these upcoming marathons.

Stay tuned for more on my fall marathon and for training updates.

Happy Running!

Alana :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Events & Future Plans

Hey! Wanted to get everyone up to speed on some events that have happened this summer and my plans for the fall and winter.

First, I GRADUATED high school in June! WooHoo!!! :D

I will be attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the Fall under Pre- Kinesiology.

At the end of June I went up to Duluth, MN for Grandma's Marathon.  While I was there I interviewed with Carrie Tollefson (interview link on my media page) and participated in the press conference!  Unfortunately for the race I had an upset stomach that morning I made it to mile 12 before getting sick (yuck :P) and then was sick multiple times until I had to stop at 18.  I was devastated to not be able to display all the hard work I had done in preparation.

The disappointment in Duluth really has doubled my motivation to have a strong fall as I race another marathon (have decided on which and hope to announce that soon) and work towards the Olympic Trials in February.  I really want to raise my game heading into these 2 events and get to that next level (top 10 at the Trials) so have gotten back to work with a vengeance.  I am hitting the track regularly for speedwork, doing my tempo runs on hillier routes and attacking my strength training (see my picture page for videos of my drill circuit).  And I am working hard to take full advantage of the heat and humidity that is Poor Man's Altitude during a Charlotte summer.     

To help me get to the next level, I have also taken the time to start reading some sports psychology books to help build up my mental toolbox when it comes to races and training.  Below is one I just finished and really enjoyed; it's a good starter book that helps to break down the overall psych of competing and training. 

I am excited for the future and will keep you all updated on my training and racing here on this blog, on my Facebook page, and over my social media accounts.  

 Thanks for all the support! 

Great things ahead!

- Alana :)