The 13th Annual NVRC Rodney Myers Memorial Run Around Egg Hill, aka Egg Hill 10 miler, coincided with the famous DC Cherry Blossom 10 mile race. Both races shared the date, the distance, and the crazy winds we got this weekend. The only minor differences are that the EG10 only had 53 solo-runners, two water stops, and no qualification standards, and the DC race is doesn’t have a brutal climb at mile 2.
It was a tough but great race for me. There were moments where I wanted to quit, but I finished in my intended pace range, I won my age group, and I had a good time.
The course is essentially one loop around Egg Hill. Most of the course consists of backroads and crushed gravel trails with great forest scenery. There are only four turns (all right turns) on the entire course, and all the miles and turns are properly signalled. The course was a bit short of 10 miles according to my Garmin.
There is a tough climb, as tough as they come, near the start. This means that your legs will be tired for most of the race. I guess this can can be a good or a bad thing, depending on what you like. But, regardless of whether you are a masochist or not, there is a good chance this won’t be your fastest 10 miler.
It is a very small race with a very nice family atmosphere and there are trophies for the first place on every age group, and medals for 2nd and 3rd places. So, there is a chance that you might get an award. However, the race attracts some of the fastest local runners. So, don’t expect a first place unless you can finish a very hilly 10 miler with a 5:30 min/mile pace.
Because the race is very small, there is very little crowd support, the roads are not closed to traffic (though traffic is very light and most local drivers know there is a race going on), and there are only two water stops at miles 3 and 8.
Given the time of the year the weather is usually great for running. This year it was a bit cold (36F) and very windy (25mph), but I would usually expect a nice sunny 40-60F for a central PA Spring day.
The race starts at 2:30pm making it my first afternoon race ever. It is nice not having to get up at 4:30 to eat breakfast, but you sort of lose most of the day if you chose to run it.
The focus this week was more on strength and speed and less on distance. I ran my first race of the season: a 10 miler with a tough climb right at the beginning to prepare me for the tough climb up Mt Washington at the middle of the Pittsburgh Marathon (only one month left to go!). I’ll post the race recap later this week, for now let me just say that I managed to win my division and bring a trophy home 🙂
Monday — Mile-long swimming workout with tons of 100s
My mileage was very low this week considering that it is week 12, just 23 miles. This is partly because I did a 10 mile race instead of a longer run, partly because I wanted to rest my legs before the race so I could perform well, and partly because I am doing a lot of cross training. I hope this works out, because I have my first triathlon scheduled for June, which means that I have to start spending more time cycling and swimming 🙂
The bike ride on Thursday was particularly special. My wife had foot surgery last November, and this is the first time she is able to ride since then!! It was a bit unfortunate that it was a ridiculously windy day, which made the ride really hard, but I think she still enjoyed it. I will let her tell you the details.
I’ve been cold many times, but this is my first time getting the flu. It knocked me out for 5 days, but I think I’ve been able to make up for it and I am right back on track. Here is the summary of my last three weeks of training.
I can’t believe more than half of my training is done and there are only 6 weeks left! I am feeling mostly strong with my runs. I was very surprised my legs aren’t sore at all after an 18 mile run on Sunday. But I am not being as fast as I would like to. So, it is not clear whether I will be able to meet my BQ standard. There is still some time to try to get stronger and faster. The next three weeks are going to be tough, with 20 mile long runs, and an extremely hilly local race.
Yesterday marked 12 weeks post bunion surgery. It’s incredible how easy it is to fall back into a normal routine and forget the recovery journey, and I find myself randomly longing for the early Netflix-and-napping-all-day days. I’m stuck between “still recovering” and “almost okay” which is a bit awkward.
These are the things that remind me that I’m still recovering:
I cannot drive yet
I cannot wear regular shoes
No exercise using my feet
I still have to wear a toe separator
My foot swells and tingles after being at the office all day
I have a limp when I walk
This are the things that make me feel almost okay:
I can spend 8 hours at the office with only some discomfort
I CAN SWIM (provided I am not barefoot around the pool)
I’ve been killing my upper body weight training
I can sleep normally
I can wear regular shoes (if they have thick, sturdy soles — so not my regular shoes)
I can paint my toe nails 😉
My next recovery milestone is driving and doing some form of exercise that involves using my foot. I am very happy with the pace of my recovery and the surgery results. My right foot does not hurt at all, and now I am noticing the bunion pain in my left foot (which was shadowed by the severe pain in the right foot).
I can’t yet say whether this will make running or cycling better for me in the end, but I can’t imagine how it could not!
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes
If you are anything like me, you are ready to do anything to avoid the treadmill, even if it means facing frightfully cold temperatures and grievous winds. We’ve had a pretty mild winter so so far in central Pennsylvania, but this week we are finally hitting single-digit temperatures (it had to be the week I have three 80min runs scheduled). Here is how I like to layer up to face the winter.
If the temperature is above 15F, I feel fine running in shorts (sure, I’ll be freezing before I start, but I won’t feel any cold after the first half a mile). For colder temperatures, I’ve found a good pair of thermal tights to be enough once I start going. I invested in two pairs of high-quality 2xu thermal compression tights, and I am not disappointed at all. They have lasted me two winters already.
That is exactly what I need to qualify to the Boston Marathon. Last year, I ran my first marathon in Pittsburgh in 3:31:43. This was nowhere neat my Boston Marathon Qualifying Standard of 3:05:00. This year, I plan to run my second marathon. It is exactly the same race, but this time I will try to shave 30 minutes off my time to quality to Boston. Here is my 5-step plan to accomplish this task, let’s hope it is enough!!
1. Faster cadence and better form
Last year, I was following a very long (30-week) training plan, but I injured my right hamstring 16 weeks before the race. It took me 6 weeks to come back to a regular training schedule, and another 4 weeks for the pain to subside entirely.
My physical therapist told me that what felt like a hamstring injury was actually a lower back issue caused by a weak core and bad running posture. He also told me that my cadence was too slow and my muscles were too tight, and gave me some pointers to improve my form.
I started doing more core strengthening exercises, stretching better, foam rolling, doing running drills, and taking rest days seriously, and I have focused on keeping proper form and fast cadence during my runs. Increasing my cadence hasn’t been easy. I have gone up from 155 steps per minute to 175, and I am consciously trying to push my normal-pace-cadence all the way up to 180.
I am happy to report that I have been injury free since then. I hope my improved form and cadence helps me continue to be injury free for a long time, and to be more efficient on race day!
2. Smarter race
Last year, I was hoping to finish under 3:30:00. I probably could have, but I made a total noob mistake. Since I was feeling great at the beginning of the race, I stuck around the 3:15 pacer for around 15 miles. At some point, I realized I couldn’t keep up any more, and then I hit the wall. The last 10 miles were absolute hell. I just wanted to stop and wait for someone to pick me up. I did my fastest mile in 7 minutes, and mile 25 took me more than 10. Starting out too fast was a terrible mistake.