Thursday, May 18, 2017

Return to Racing (Again), Class B Championships: Weekly Log- May 15 to 21

I became injured back in april and missed three meets because of it: two dual meets and the classic classic. None were important to me and I was racing at Schomp, so I wasn't worried. After becoming reinjured/hurt at Schomp, I then missed Southern Division Championships, the Loucks Games and the Moretti invite. All of those I wanted to go to. While it may be unlikely I'll PR or qualify for nationals this season, this week confirmed that I still do have some season left and it likely won't be interrupted by injury. Physical therapy stretching seems to be working, as my legs and back have been feeling really good while running.

Class B on Saturday at Home, 10 AM. No performance list released yet, but I know I will have competition in both of my races- 1500 and 3000. Hoping to win my first class title in the 3K, hopefully with a time of sub-9 that will get me into States. There are at least two guys capable of going sub-9:10 or faster, so I wouldn't say have a big advantage here. I would be okay with losing if it meant a fast time. The 3000's definitely my race, so the 1500 will serve more as a warm-up. I guessing Mars will run hard and I'll try to stick to him. I really am not sure of a time I want to run. I have no idea where my speed is at and whether I can pull a great race in 4:06, a strong one especially with my injury and go sub-4:10 or run another 4:13/4:14 (or worse?). I think sub-9 will be doable if its not too hot and hopefully I can go under 4:10 as well (may be my last 1500 of the season).

Monday: 8 Miles. Regular distance run + four Narragansetts, which were tiring. Pretty much skipped the cool-down altogether. Boring roads once again as I have used my pretty much any appealing route from the high school repeatedly. No back pain.

Tuesday: 6 Miles, Track Workout. First since early April. 10x400 @70 w/60s recovery and 3-min recovery between 6 and 7. Felt good right away and they didn't start to hurt until the 5 or 6th one. The break made me feel better as No. 7 was a 64. 9 and 10 were tough, but I got through them. Overall, this is a hard workout that usually I struggle with but this time I had no back pain and was more comfortable than I would have been pre-injury. Big confidence booster. Slowest split was a 68, most were around 67. Difficulty: 3/5.

Wednesday: 8 Miles. Another local roads distance run, this time extremely hot. Stopped several times, including in Library to pour cold water over my head and get a drink. Not an enjoyable run and not enjoying this heat.

Thursday: 7 Miles. Felt awful on warm-ups as it was scorching out. Relaxed myself as I knew it would be an easy workout with nothing longer than 400s and likely a set of 200s in there. I was correct in that prediction for everyone else, however I had 4x800 @ 2:20 w/90s recovery. I wasn't looking forward to it. They were more comfortable/enjoyable than expected, with one and two not feeling too hard. Third one hurt and was slower and the heat only stayed so coach allowed me to finish with 2x400 instead of the last 800. Surprisingly, it wasn't that much easier. Splits: 2:18 (67/71), 2:17 (68/69), 2:20 (69/71), 69, 67. Difficulty: 4/5. Really feeling it afterwards and had an extended cool-down. Ran to the library to cool-off before running shirtless and barefoot in the fields at Wilcox Park.

Friday: 6 Miles. Another scorcher and really felt this one. Just a couple miles in, was already really exhausted and taking breaks. Went to margin for some shade, but still felt really hot there. Shirtless gave some relief, but was so tired I dropped a 7-miler down to a five. I had sore/tight calves that were bothering me and my back was suddenly hurting again. Not a good sign. Hoping to sleep it off.

Saturday: 6 Miles, Class B Championships.

As usual, a long wait before racing the 1500. I ended up warming up earlier and longer than usual. My eating/drinking was off as I didn't know when the running events started and when I did I rushed both. It was very annoying constantly having to use the bathroom within half an hour of my race (even within 10 minutes). As I stated earlier, I didn't really know what I was going for in the 1500. I was hoping to run with Mars as long as possible, and hopefully get top three. Time-wise, I wanted to break 4:10, but really had no idea what kind of 1500 shape I was in and wasn't even sure 4:15 was going to happen. I was disappointed to find out both my coach and Mars expected me to lead.

1500
After a good wait, it was time. Gun shot off and the usual sprint for positions occurred. For the first 100, Mars had a slight lead but wasn't going hard so I took over. Unfortunately, he was content to sit on me. I struggled keeping the pace even. Started out in 64/65, but dropped down to 68/69. There was some wind on the backstretch that didn't help. I was tired, but not totally dead. I tried to go, but never really had the energy, strength or motivation to put a real surge in the pace. And with Mars just running for the win, I couldn't rely on him. As usual, I was dog tired in the last lap and had nothing for a kick. Mars passed me with about 300 to go, but it was clear he still wasn't even pushing. He looked back frequently, as if he only wanted to have a slight lead to win as easy as possible and conserve energy for his next race. I hadn't felt contact from anyone else the entire race, but soon enough the outstanding Classical freshman Conor Murphy (I race his brother Joe last year frequently) caught up and blew by me. With 100 to go, I had thought I had third locked up but then I heard a 3rd guy coming up on me. I really wanted that 3rd place, all-class. I may have settled for losing to both Mars (inevitable) and Conor (probably couldn't have done much), but I would be very disappointed with a 4th place finish. I mustered up every ounce of strength I had. Chariho's Ed Golas was right there. I saw him right next to me and was ready for the pass, but I had just enough ground to hold him off. 3rd overall in 4:13.7. (Mars-4:11.0, Conor- 4:12.3, Ed-4:14.0).

I thought I had finished a little bit faster. I was neither thrilled nor disappointed with the performance. I certainly would have preferred to run faster, but it's clear that I lost a good deal of fitness with missing so much training. I felt that it went okay. I was somewhat happy I took top three and beat my time from Schomp, but also a little frustrated that Mars and Conor took me down easy and I ran more than 3 seconds faster last year while placing second.

The 1500 was decent, but largely forgettable. I had now raced two 1500s post-injury, and it was clear that I wasn't going to have any progress in the event. I wasn't sure if I'd fare better when dropping down to the 800 or bumping up the 3K, but was glad to have the chance against some strong opponents. However, I completely underestimated how much racing the 1500 would take out of me. I was absolutely exhausted with a burning chest pain and difficult breathing/dead legs. I knew I had some time, but was hoping to have as much recovery as possible. I wanted to drink some water and Gatorade to help recover/rehydrate before the 3K but I was still dead, and even half an hour after racing I knew I would throw up anything I drank almost immediately. After 45 minutes the sun came out and made everything hot again. I found some nice shade, starting to slowly sip water and tried to relax in the time I had left. I was very tired and had lost a lot of enthusiasm for the race. Originally, I wanted to attempt to crack 9 and pull off a win, but now with my new exhaustion and the heat, I'd be happy with sub-9:10 and top three, maybe a little slower. I stretched for a while in the shade, drank some water and Gatorade and tried to recover. I did a couple laps around the quad to see how I felt/warm-up for the 3000, and as expected, they weren't easy at all. Got final bathroom breaks out the way, some more stretching/shade with Aaron (also racing) before finally heading over.

I was nervous because I wasn't feeling great at all. Strides felt okay. I was hoping I could feel good/run a decent pace until at least two go and then gut it out as much as possible for the rest. I was anticipated a difficult race, but feeling tired pre-race doesn't always translate into feeling awful during. As far as I knew I had at least 5 other guys looking for a 9:10 performance: Kyle, Garrett, and Evan from Chariho, Hayden from Barrington, and Andre from North Providence. The two I was really worried about was Kyle and Hayden.

3000
Part of my performance in the 3K usually depends on what point in the race I stop feeling comfortable. My best races (sub 8:50 performances at Yale and New Englands Outdoor) came from feeling great the whole time and even having a rare kick. I still had good performances (8:57 at Hendricken, at Outdoor States with 8:54, 9:03 at Indoor Division) feeling good until 1200-800 meters left. Sometimes I can even tough it out if only the 1K is comfortable. However, any race where I'm overly tired/feeling it in the first 800 usually does not end well. The first 200 has always been comfortable and easy. Until this race. Right from the gun, something was off. We went out in a 33, but it felt fast. Hayden took it out, which wasn't surprisingly because I predicted he would win the race. After 300 meters, the pace had slowed down and I took over. When we went through in 72 (38s-39s 200), I knew sub-9 was already not happening, at least for me. I was already uncomfortable. I wasn't going very fast at all, and Kyle took over from there. He picked it up from but wasn't running a blazing pace, yet it took a lot of effort just to stay with him. Over the next two laps, I became weaker and weaker and realized how dead my legs felt. Eventually, I was so tired that I couldn't run with Kyle anymore and he opened a gap. Since 5 to go, I had considered dropping out and my pace only got slower and slower. At a certain point, I had slowed down so much that Evan caught me (never lost a single race in HS to him) and opened a gap as well. I didn't even have enough to maintain top three. Garrett (never lost to him period) flew by in the last lap as I closed in a pathetic 77. I was pretty sure Hayden was next, but I actually had a bigger gap on him than expected. 4th overall in 9:21.00. The 3K is usually tough, but this was downright brutal and one of the hardest I have ever run.

Initially, I was extremely disappointed, almost devastated. This was the race that mattered, and I was so far off. I was destroyed by people I rarely lose to in the distance. Instead of taking my first class title or a respectable runner-up, I couldn't even get top three in a race that I probably could have won freshman year. I couldn't hang on to a slow 73s pacer. My time was slower than what I ran as a freshman. I was nowhere near the 9-minute barrier and wasn't close to 9:10 either. In indoor, my time from Yale ranked 2nd in the state. This season, I'm 26th.

After a few hours of reflection, I realize while far from a great race, my performance was not quite as bad as I thought at first. All three of the Chariho runners were completely fresh, while I had done the difficult 1500-3000 double. I still ended up beating Hayden, who had a similar struggle finishing 5th in 9:37. Most importantly, I had missed almost 4 weeks of essential training and racing. I didn't have all the past experiences of doubling up at meets. I didn't have the races or training to be able to go under 9:10 comfortably, like in indoor. I don't see how I could have run much faster in the race.

This was a defeat, but I was clearly expecting far too much out of myself without realizing how much doubling up and missed training would limit me from running fast times. This 3000 was tough, but a learning experience.

I don't know what's next. It's difficult to expect much progress in my remaining meets but also difficult to accept that I don't even have the fitness now to match any of my goals or even my fitness from last year at this time. This season I wanted to run 1:58, 4:04, and 8:35 but times of 2:05, 4:11, and 9:05 are more likely. Hendricken invitational next Saturday will likely be my next meet, but I don't know what I'm running and it could be my last this season.

Sunday: 7 Miles, Groton X-Town recovery.

Super fun trails in several different parks/preserves but got weak in the final miles and was happy to finish. Was surprised at the amount of spider-webs and small bugs out in the woods, but then realized that's part of the summer (almost) trail running. Glad to get back to trails, and these were certainly some good ones.

Weekly Total: 48 Miles
YTD Total: 764 Miles

More Reflection/Thoughts:

This was a very up/down week. I got past some struggles I've been having for a while, but unfortunately brought some new ones. A listing below:

Pros:
  • Finally past the back injury
  • Able to race again
  • Got through two track workouts without much difficulty
  • Legs felt mostly smooth and loose throughout the week
  • Full, regular week of running without any interruption (first since early April)
Cons
  • Back still hurts bending/straightening (doesn't affect running)
  • 3000 felt short of expectations, both time and place wise
  • Fitness is clearly not what it used to be/where I want it to be
  • Heat is back, and more draining than ever


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