April 26, 2015

Kickin' Back

Friday, mid-afternoon, E and I snuck out for a weekend combo of date night, family catch-up, and the SLO half marathon.

The views from Highway 101/1 near Pismo are gorgeous.

We took the drive (ugghh, Friday bay area traffic) to catch up, relax, and start to reconnect.  I read us some articles from Vanity Fair to add to the entertainment, including a hilarious exposé on Dinesh D'Souza -- always interesting to get some insight into the crazy of your country that you don't really know.

After checking in to our date night hotel, we headed to the bar patio for a glass of wine (which meant we could stare at the ocean and continue to unwind).  One glass turned into 2, and we decided we couldn't be bothered to go anywhere else for dinner.  So we sat and chatted, and ate, and sipped, while watching the beautiful sunset.

Seriously. California.
We went back to the room with plans of putting on bathing suits and heading out to the hot-tub.  But much like walking somewhere else for dinner, it just seemed like too much trouble.  So we spent the rest of the evening lounging in the hotel room and went to bed.

Saturday AM, I really didn't want to get up when my alarm went off.  But I had my standard day-before a race routine to do, so I was conflicted.  Except it was raining!  And I wasn't that conflicted.  Boom, extra rest day.

And boy did we rest.  No work at all.  I visited a friend and caught up, E&I had lunch with views of a different beach (the rain stopped by noon), we went to the expo, we checked into our near-the-start motel, and we lounged in bed and read before meeting my Aunt for a delicious dinner of Japanese food.

Going into the race, I wasn't exactly in a great place.  I hadn't really done much in the way of hill training or quality efforts and my weekly volume since Oakland has been an average of 23.08 miles with quite a bit of walking (thanks work!).  The weather called for an oh-so-awesome 18 mph headwind on the second half of the race, and the elevation profile is a doozy.

So, after doing some research (holy moly Gallowalking is more controversial than I can comprehend), I decided that this race was a perfect opportunity to try Gallowalking.  I knew I could finish the race, but I really didn't want to blow up (like I did at Kaiser), so I figured forcing myself to take some walk breaks earlier than normal was probably a good idea.

Despite putting in earplugs at 11 PM or so, sleep was fitful and full of nightmares of missing the start, which is always super annoying.  How many times do I need to wake up and check again that my phone is actually set to get me up at 5:45?

After waking one last time at 5:30 AM (hello, runners, not *everyone* is leaving the motel to go the race at the same time as you, do you really need to *slam* your door?), I fell asleep one last time to be woken at 5:45 by my phone (see, it did work).

I walked about 0.75 miles to the start via the portajohns, taking coffee from the hotel room and then stopping for another coffee at a cafe on the walk.  It was in the mid 40sF and I was in a short sleeve shirt and capris, but I run hot, so I figured mo' coffee, mo' better, and no complaints about the cold.

We started on time and I ran the first mile, blind, knowing I was going to stop to walk a minute, so if I went out a bit too hard due to the downhills, no big deal.

M1 running: 8:55/mile

Hmmm...that's actually bordering on a big deal at my current fitness with all of the hills and the wind.  So I took a nice solid 1 minute walk break and headed out for a more reasonable 2nd mile.

M2 running:  10:00/mile

Perfect.  Except, unfortunately, I needed a pit-stop.  So, approximately 3 minutes later, after walking through the aid station and waiting in line for the bathroom, I was back on the course.

S3 (segment) running:  0.75 @ 10:20/mile

If you look at the elevation profile, you can probably see why it seemed like a good idea to drop in a walk break here.  So I did, for less than a minute.

S4 running: 0.31 @ 12:22/mile

I think this is very interesting.  Even with the walk break, I was *really* struggling to get to the top of the hill.  Given everything I'd read, I decided to drop in one more walk break to the apex, this one, only 43 seconds (but man were they gloriously pleasant).

S5 running: 0.6 @ 10:43/mile

This is the minor drop after mile 3.5ish and back up the hill 'til I felt my heartrate climb again.  When it felt smart to do so, I opted into 1:30 walking uphill to the apex so I could start running well on the downhill.

The rest of the run is more or less a give and take between walking when I felt my heart-rate/effort skyrocket; taking in fuel; and doing my best to push on the downhills and flats.  One of the more interesting side-effects of this approach is that while I felt like I made an even effort throughout, due to the course profile, I actually finished the last 6.9 miles almost 12 minutes faster than the first 6.2 (some of this can be attributed to the pit-stop, but at most only 3 minutes).

Oh, one other bonus?  The headwind of 18 mph after the turn-around.  That was an unwelcome surprise!

IntervalTime of DayChip TimeChip PaceGun TimeGun Pace

10K Split8:06:10AM01:20:3412:58 min/mi01:20:5913:02 min/mi
Finish9:14:55AM02:29:1911:24 min/mi02:29:4411:26 min/mi

(Garmin: 13.24 @ 2:29:22 ~11:17min/mi)
So, I guess the big take-home is, yes, if you walk early and often, you will be able to save energy and finish strong (my last 0.37 miles was at 8:57/mile pace).  But, really, let's be honest.  I totally took it easy here and just wanted to fit in a good long run.  I hadn't trained to race, so I wanted a good run, but I didn't want it to hurt too much.  I'm very pleased with how it turned out (9:57 AVG for the last 6.9 miles?  That's just fine, thank you.).  Effort-wise, it felt relatively comparable to Oakland, but in Oakland, I didn't have to be smart, I just got lucky with the course and weather, hence why, despite roughly the same lackluster training, it was 7 minutes faster (although not a negative split at all).  In SLO, I was approaching smart, but I'm sure I could have done some things better.

C'est La Vie.

Wishing you a lovely, relaxing, mellow, kick-back week.


Cathryn said...

We're off to SLO for Memorial Day - any recommendations for hotels/restaurants etc?

Nice work on the race, I've always fancied SLO.

bt said...

@Cathryn -- If there's availability, the Madonna Inn is a California classic (VERY QUIRKY) and probably the most well-known hotel in the area. In SLO proper you have all of the typical business motel chains. In the beach towns just south of SLO, there are resortier motels and hotels with views of the ocean, Spyglass Inn is a great value. The Cliffs Resort is our go-to. The biggest issue you'll probably run into is that since it's a holiday weekend, you may have trouble with availability.