Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Racing Fun

Although there has been a lack of blogging about my NYC Marathon training, that doesn't mean I haven't been working my butt off (literally) with the team! This season has shown incredible progress and confidence boosting for everyone involved. My training runs with Team in Training have often been the highlights of my weeks - from hill workouts, to exploring new terrain on long runs, to exciting early morning races, to enjoying a sweaty, after practice drink and carb fest with my friends.

There is no denying that the beginning of the summer was brutal weatherwise. We stomached some intense heat, and I think that made us stronger now. Pair that with early hill workouts to build strength and high mileage to build confidence, and our season is as strong as I've ever seen team in training! It feels REALLY good to see improvement in my running and strength in general. I haven't seen PRs in races in over a year- and being able to obtain them effortlessly not only feels incredible, but natural.

I have run two races with New York Road Runners (and team in training) in the past month: The "Run for Central Park" 4-miler on July 17th (which I ran with an 8:16 min/mile pace- not bad for the beginning of the season), and the "Bronx Half Marathon" on August 15th. Lately, I have been questioning my love for endurance running. I really love running fast and hard, and you can't really do that during a marathon. Why do I run marathons then? For the mental aspect. The feeling of accomplishment in running a long distance or finishing an endurance event with confidence does so much for your mind and soul. As I've mentioned before in this blog: "Marathoning is a microcosm of your life- the strength and effort you use to push through this achievement is the same willpower used to fight through hard situations in life." The amount of struggle and speed doesn't reaallly matter so much- the point is that the person who begins a marathon is NOT the same person who ends one. Without fail.

That being said, it is a bit more fun when the run is easy. For the first time in a year and a half, I PR'd (PR=personal record) in a half marathon. I ran the Bronx in 1:55:15, which is an 8:45 min/mile pace and a 7 1/2 minute PR from the last Bronx half marathon in February of 2009. I think that is an impressive improvement, but it is even more impressive when you look at the time of my most recent half marathon: the Staten Island Half Marathon in October of 2009: 3:09:36, with a 14.28 min/mile pace. Wow.

Yes, it is nice to see improvement. However, I kind of just want to run fast all the time. We have been focusing our Tuesday night workouts on hills for the past month and a half. I cannot begin to express the joy I feel running REALLY HARD up a hill for a short amount of time. Running fast is fun and satisfying! It is impossible to run a half marathon or marathon at a sprint, or anywhere close to a sprint. I hope to get my marathon and half marathon times faster, but I don't expect to ever get that out of control "being chased by a wild animal" feeling when running an endurance event. Maybe for the last half mile (which is definitely fun!), but not throughout the race.

Which is why I would like to start focusing on adding some shorter races to my race diet. I signed up for the "5th Avenue Mile" on September 25th. That race is known for vomit inducing fast times, and I'm nervous and excited to see how much I can push my body! Sprinting is hard- and a mile is NOT a short distance to sprint.

I will also be running the Fitness Games 4-miler on September 11th- I am using it as a "test" - to see how much I can push my body at the end of a long run (I will be running do a 12-14 mile "long slow distance" previous to the 10AM race).

It is fun pushing my body. I am excited to see where this adventure takes me!