Saturday, March 24, 2012

NYC Half - Wicked Fast Report

(Me in my new Spanish cycling jersey)

In my last post, I explained WHY I chose to run the NYC Half with Team Continuum.  Now, you get to hear HOW I ran so danged fast!

I went into the race wondering if I could somehow pull off a 1:37.  I haven't tested my stand-alone long distance run legs in years.  My half-marathon PR was 1:44, though that was after a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike.  All of my previous half-marathon times were about 2 hours with the races having been completed BEFORE I figured out how to run fast.  With a 1:44 HIM run and my 3:54 marathon in a 140.6, I thought *maybe* I can kill this thing.  Having a time goal made me really nervous about the race, especially because I hadn't trained for it and had only run about 10 times since 2011.  I was depending on my general fitness to punch this ticket for me.

On race morning I wrote my goal splits on my arm and asked John a bazillion questions about how to pace myself.  He said to run the first 10 miles at a fast but conversational pace and the last 3 I could push.  The gun went off and 8 minutes later I was through the start! (Gotta love big races in NYC).  I went with my usual crowded run tactic, which is to have fun bobbing and weaving through people and climb past the other runners as if they are rungs in a ladder.  There is always someone to set my gaze on, catch, and pass.  This had my mind preoccupied and when I got to the 1 mile marker I was a minute ahead of schedule even though I felt like I was running easy!  I continued at a faster pace than planned and kept reminding myself to hold back - even though I felt like I was going too easy.  I held onto that minute that I gained in the first mile and put it in my pocket, just in case I needed it later.  I never needed it.  I ran at an easy 7:15 pace through mile 10.  At mile 10 we were running into a head-wind and it felt a bit harder to hold pace but I pushed a bit more anyway.  With a mile to go I gunned it.  I finished in 1:35:04, about 2 minutes ahead of what I hoped for!

As I ran this race I got lost in my thoughts and asked myself, how the heck did I get to be such a fast runner???  I came up with 3 good reasons.

1)  I watched Pro-Triathlete, Cait Snow, in awe as she ran in the RI 70.3.  She is insanely fast and she makes it look so easy!  I noticed that she was taking tiny steps and her cadence incredibly high.  I started to mimic this in my own training by shortening my stride and increasing my cadence.  Whenever I'm running, if I check in with my cadence and make my turn over faster, 2 things happen - I go faster and my perceived effort is much easier.  In a race, if I want to speed up or catch someone I pick up my cadence.  If I feel tired and like I need to slow down, I pick up my cadence to help hold my pace.  An added benefit of learning this has been that I am not needing stability shoes anymore.  I'm not over-pronating.  If you want to try to increase your cadence you can use a metronome to get a sense of where you need to be. And beware of subconsciously matching your stride with the people you're running with!

2)  I learned a lot about form from Jessi Stensland and gained a lot of run knowledge from all of the coaches at ZenTri Camp.  There are a few things that Jessi taught me that I regularly focus on while running, such as lifting my knees, pushing the ground away with my feet, and strongly swinging my arms.  These things have made an enormous difference in my running.  You should check out her MovementU training programs!

3)  Lastly, I just got WICKED fit destroying myself on my bike in Spain at SLB training camp.  I didn't run at all while I was there but I definitely got super strong.  I wasn't sure if this would translate to general fitness and not just bike fitness (which I knew had improved) but it definitely built me up!  I didn't even train for this half-marathon and I felt like a 7:15 pace was effortless.  Strong Like Bull gave me super powers!

Next up, I'm racing the 111 at TriStar Nevis next weekend, Saturday March 31st!  Check out this race course!  The bike is 3 loops that start with a 5k climb called "The Anaconda".  I ain't even skeered!

(Random last thing: I happen to love this e-card)


PJ said...

You go, girl! Awesome pacing and a great time. Good tips as well. Adding to your cadence point: for those who run with an iPod ALL the time, it's good to throw a run in there here and there without it so that you can focus on what your body is doing. I've found that when I run with music, my cadence ends up matching the beat of the song I'm listening to, which isn't really a good thing! These people get to race day without their music and their body is unsure of what to do!

HolisticGuru said...

Agreed! Good advice, PJ. Sometimes, if I am supposed to do a slow "recovery" run, I purposefully play music with a slow beat to make me run slow. And fast songs definitely help me push!

Elle and Webb said...

Both of us have switched to high cadence running and saw an increase in pace and decrease in injuries. I do the same thing you did in your race: Need to speed up? Increase cadence? Feeling tired? Increase cadence.

It is not unlike on a bike. Force and cadence dictate power. Stensland's advice about pushing away from the ground is all about the force you apply. You can vary that based on your fitness and current fatigue level. If you drop your cadence, you'll need to increase your force to maintain the same pace, which is far more fatiguing.

Congratulations on the PR and overall improved fitness. Have fun in Nevis.