BAA Half PR Recap

This past weekend I ran the BAA Half for the first time, which is a race I’ve registered for twice. Last year a stress fracture caused me to drop out the week before.

This year, I’ve been working with a coach and I’m “in-season” as Steven puts it, so I didn’t have much of a taper week prior to the race (also my fault for mixing up the dates on the program). My shakeout run on Saturday was a 20:03 5k, which would’ve been more than a 4 minute PR this time last year.

The night of the race I laid out everything I planned on wearing and eating, as has become custom. It helps to make race morning easier if you don’t have to think about anything. I had quinoa, a salmon burger and stir fry veggies for dinner, which is a bit different than normal (usually sweet potato instead of the quinoa).

Race morning we drove to UMass Boston to park and took a bus to Franklin Park. The porta potty lines were absurdly long, which was my only negative feedback regarding the race.

When I asked Steven about my goal time, he said I was to run a 1:28-1:32. My previous two half marathons were 1:37 and 1:50 (1:50 was during Heartbreak Hill Half weekend, where I also raced a 5k and 10k the day before). This worked out to around a 6:50 pace which scared me a bit (a lot).

I saw a quote from Shalane Flanagan earlier in the week where she mentioned sharing and being proud of your goals and the work that it takes to get there. I hadn’t wanted to share my goal time since it was such an aggressive PR, but after seeing what Shalane said, I did. I’m very glad I did, since it helped hold me accountable when I wanted to slow down later in the race.

I did my 10 minute warmup run and dynamic stretches and lined up with the 7:00/mile pace group. I set out too fast, as I always do. I started chatting with a couple of other November Project runners and when my watch beeped to note the first mile down, it was at a 6:40 pace… Too fast for my own good. I slowed it down a bit for the next mile or two, and then came the turnaround. We started running the opposite way, right towards the runners previously behind us. I ran one of my fastest miles of the whole race, since I was watching for friends and cheering on anyone I recognized which included quite a few November Project people. The next few miles were relatively uneventful. At the 6 mile mark I checked my watch and realized I PR’d my 10k by over 4 minutes, which gave me a confidence boost.

I had a serving of both ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits pre race, and refueled with 30 ENERGYbits at the 10k mark, according to plan. A few more miles ticked away, and then came a climb at mile 9. I saw a few friends, picked up the pace and passed a whole bunch of people going up the hill. Thanks November Project Fridays. Training on Summit Ave every Friday has incredible benefits come race day. There was another climb around mile 11, where I started to slow down. It was the biggest climb of the race and then we ran towards the Franklin Park Zoo, which was mile 12. I started to slow down and decided I needed more ENERGYbits, but I didn’t have any water.

I chewed a half serving and managed to swallow most of them. That gave me what I needed to pick up the pace. My last full mile was at 6:25, and the final .2 (I need to mind the turns more) were at around a 5:30 pace. The last ~200 meters were around White Stadium (a track) where the stands were full. I found myself in a full sprint towards the finish line with everything I had left, and crossed in 1:28:43, good for a ~9 minute PR.

I did not do a cool down run, and paid for it the next day with some soreness and hamstring tightness. Hit the track again the following Tuesday and ran my 9 miles of speed work at a slightly slower pace than normal, but was able to get through the 12x400m workout with no problem.

Fuel plan/hydration:

ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits 15 minutes prior.

Half cup of water every 2 miles

30 ENERGYbits at 10k (41:20), ~15 at mile 11.

ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits immediately post run.

No stomach cramps, minimal energy issues which may have been more mental than physical, as it was my longest run in 4 months.



Training update: PR’s, #RaceEverything and #TrackTuesdays

With the 2nd of 4 consecutive race weekends being this weekend (Rugged Maniac 5k, 1 Mile, BAA Half, 5k) I wanted to provide a bit of an update. I’ve been focusing on speed a lot lately and my coach’s workouts have been pretty tough lately. I’ve been used to hitting all of my splits and recently I’ve had a couple workouts where I didn’t even come close. His response: “It’s not supposed to be easy,” which I suppose makes complete sense. My last 5k race was on 9/18, and I PR’d with an 18:42, good for a 13 second PR.

Seconds before the finish line

I’ve added another morning group workout to my already 3x a week routine of November Project. Every Tuesday a group of us (from NP) have been going to the Harvard track for speed work. It started out as just one or two of us, and has grown into 5-10 people that regularly show up. Most people do different workouts, meaning everyone’s on their recovery laps at different times, which is great. It helps a ton to have that positive reinforcement right when you need it most. It’s much easier to speed up along the last 100m of the loop when you have a group of friends standing at the end.

My last track workout was 8×400 at 77 goal pace, and I ran most of the workout with a friend. My previous pace was 81, and then 83 before that and I was relatively close for all of those workouts. While running with a friend, I nailed 7/8 of the goal paces and was under for most, running at a sub 5 minute mile pace.

I’ve been doing more of the myrtl routine afterwards, which has been helping for hip strength/mobility. I definitely recommend checking it out and doing it 2-3 times a week.

After more than 2 months of showing up to the Wednesday November Project stadium workout and just hanging out, my coach has finally given me the green light to get back at it, since he’s interested to see what happens. I normally do speed work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so Wednesdays have been an easier rest day with just a run to and from the stadium for about 3 miles total. He wants me to alternate easy and hard efforts, which will eventually mean a half and full tour, although at first I’ll go with a half and a quarter (at speed). I walked 5 sections the other day and still had the wobbly legs afterwards that normally happens after a full stadium run, so I’ll definitely ease back into it.

Today’s race was “just” a mile at Franklin Park. I went out quick (75 seconds for the first 400m) and hit a small hill near the half way mark which slowed me down by about 6 seconds overall. The middle half mile was done in ~2:40 (which was my goal pace), and the final 400m was at 72 seconds. I saw a friend right around the 1200m mark and she gave me the motivation I needed to push a bit harder. I finished with an official time of 5:13, which is good for a 10 second mile PR!

A bunch of November Project friends ran the race (as always… #raceeverything) which was awesome motivation whether it was from a friend on the side, or chasing the guy in front of me.

Next weekend is the BAA Half, and my coach has said to go for a 1:28-1:32, which would be another (big) PR. I’ve been slacking a bit on my long runs lately due to all these races, so I’ll be running my last long run tomorrow before my 4th half.

Nutrition/fueling update:

Perfect for hill sprints…

After a meeting with an NHL strength coach a while ago, we (ENERGYbits) began looking into the performance and recovery benefits of our RECOVERYbits, a different type of algae. What we found is that they have the ability to help with lactic acid buildup/muscle fatigue (among many other benefits) during anaerobic exercise (sprints, intervals, etc). I’ve been experimenting with taking RECOVERYbits both pre and post workout (along with ENERGYbits that help promote endurance and longer term energy) and I haven’t been getting the muscle/lactic acid burn towards the end of harder workouts like speed intervals or hill training, which has gotten harder recently too. Steven (my coach) now has me doing 5×30 second intervals up Summit Ave, which ranges between 9-17% grade. I look like a crazy person “sprinting” that hill but it’s a blast.

Rosa: “Wait, I didn’t get that on camera. Do it again!”

RECOVERYbits have been helping me push through these harder interval/speed sessions and next week’s workout will be a good test. Next week is 4×200, 5×1000, 4×200 (9 miles including warmup/cooldown) and I’m going to need all the help I can get. I’ll likely also have another serving of ENERGYbits after the second 1000m since it will be longer than an hour’s worth of speed work.

Shoes: I just started running in New Balance 1400’s for speed work and love them so far. I PR’d my 5k and mile in them, and they’re so much more lightweight than the Altra Torin’s, which I love for distance but feel a little clunky when going fast.

Have a great week!