Sunday, February 2, 2014

NJ Trail Series Half Marathon 2/1/2014: Ramping up for 2014

Kristen and I completed our second race in the NJ Trail Series yesterday, our first was the Watchung Run, this nameless race was our first >10 mile race of 2014, both aiming for the half marathon.  After a few weak runs and tweaking my fueling habits, I was feeling good and scouted the course a little finding the course profile from another runner's Garmin data to wrap my head around the runnability of the race.  Similar to the Watchung course, it was another 10K loop.

After feeling crushed after Chilly Cheeks, I felt like I made some significant progress during the week to recover and adequately prepare.  I logged some quality miles and ate well, at least I think.  Mentally and mechanically I was feeling pretty solid for a much flatter course and to target my goals.  My primary goal was to keep my heart rate under control.  I'd been noticing that Garmin suggests most of my runs are "overreaching" and I am not training effectively at my HR goes above 150 bpm.  Without too much deep investigation on where my HR should be, I wanted to keep it under 150 on average, based on Garmin Connect and a little digging in the Triathlete's Training Bible, keeping it a little lower that I had been running at was a safe bet.  Before my next long race, I'll be measuring my target hear rate zones to dial in a little better.
My half marathon HR data,  average was 151
My secondary goal was a bit of a reach but I wanted to hold around 11-minute miles.  A challenging trail run Thursday morning made me believe that was a legitimate target.  7 miles @ 10:45 and felt good, sure, I think I could manage that in a race twice that distance.

We arrived about 25 minutes prior to the 9:00 start time, checked in, hit the porta potty and met the oncoming wave of starting runners as we'd missed the start.  Whoops!  We fell into line with the pack about .25 miles from the start, kissed eachother good bye and started pounding snow.  The field looked pretty small compared to their last race with maybe a hundred people here or so.   The longest distance event this day was the half marathon so I imagine this didn't interest a lot of the longer distance runners as it looked like less than half the amount of racers from Watchung.
Part of the 1K loop at the start before 2 10K loops
These courses are well marked with orange spray paint in the snow
Conditions were great, at 25 degrees, I layered lightly and ran on my NB 810's with Ice Trekkers again: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  My Asics long sleeve from the Celtic Solstice 5mi, a light down vest, running tights, shorts, a hat, running gloves and my Nathan handheld bottle were all I had on me.  In my pockets I carried a Lara bar and 2 packs of baby food.  Yes, baby food.  Gels are awesome but not Whole30 compliant (10 days in).  These things provide a small amount of carbs and electrolytes and they did a pretty good job keeping me going and avoiding bonking.  I enjoy that they're larger and I don't feel hungry as they fill you up a little more.
I avoided the prunes, assuming they'd facilitate the old saying "shit happens"
Baby food compared to a Hammer Gel
I may not have bonked but the race did go pretty slowly.  I felt pretty solid but to keep that HR down, I found myself taking the climbs really easily.  After the "halfway" point (after a 1K loop plus the 10K loop), I was not very pleased with my speed.  I gobbled down a few orange slices at the single aid station at the start/finish line, refilled my handheld and focused on running the remainder of the event.  I caught another runner, also named Aaron, and struck up conversation which is not typical of me but I thought I could use the distraction, conversation would keep me from moving too fast and a few miles would tick by a little quicker and it worked and we were about 2 miles closer to the finish before we broke the same pace and he took off ahead of me.
Somewhere pretty and downhill in Jersey
First running cap as swag!  I've got enough shirts.
Not quite 13.1, maybe I should have made it to the starting line on time...
Off my planned pace, I stewed a little but took in the beautiful scenery and knocked out another race for 2014, meeting Kristen at the finish line.  After the race, I stewed a little more, displeased with my speed.   I am looking forward to a quick 5K next weekend and a lot of time to figure out improving my training.  

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