Sunday, July 22, 2007

Disappointment at Blazing Saddles 5k

Today was my first 5k as a runner. The race was the Blazing Saddles 5k at White Rock Lake in Dallas, TX. It's a duathlon (run/bike/run) and a 5k, so the 5k field was pretty small (the field was also small because there was a BIG 5k/15k the day before).

My goal was to break 24:00, which meant a 7:44 pace. I felt confident about hitting that considering some recent training (I did two miles tempo this week at 7:35 and 7:40).

Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned, and I'm not sure why. My first mile was too fast. I did it in 7:40, but that doesn't reflect that at one point I was on track for 7:18 (according to Garmin) and had to slow it down. So that is probably my problem, going out way too fast.

My next mile was 8:04, so I knew I was in trouble as far as my goal was concerned. The third mile was a very disappointing 9:20; I actually had to take some short walk breaks. I just didn't feel like I was getting enough oxygen.

I had enough gas left at the end to sprint for about .2 miles; my final .11 miles was in 0:42, a 6:22 pace. Final official time was 25:49. Because the 5k was so small, I actually came in 5th in my age group and got a medal; if I had met my goal I would have come in 2nd. Oh well.

This was a test race; I just completed week 4 of the 8 week Hal Higdon Advanced 5k program. So I've got four weeks to continue working on my speed and my base before my goal race. Why, you might ask, did I choose the Advanced 5k program? Good question. Since I had a lot of experience racewalking long distances, I couldn't see dropping back to short easy runs. I felt like the speedwork would give me the challenge I needed. Maybe this wasn't the best decision, but I'm halfway through now and don't want to switch. I'll just keep up the training and see what happens in four weeks at my goal race.

On a positive note, I got out this afternoon and did a few miles on the trails. I was fast in the beginning, slow in the middle and fast at the end. This was my first run on trails and really my first time on the trails in a long time due to all of the rain we've had. It was over 90 and sunny when I started, but the trails offered enough shade to keep the temperature bearable.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ready for my debut

This Sunday will be my first running race, a 5k that is part of a duathlon called Blazing Saddles. It will be a pretty small race, and even smaller because the duathlon is the main event. I'm hoping to break 24 minutes (7:44 per mile), and I think that is very realistic based on today's workout. Today a 35 minute tempo run was on the schedule: 10 minute warm up, 15 minutes pace, 10 minutes cooldown. My goal today was to do my tempo miles at or below race pace.

I did my ten minute warm up at a 9:35 pace. Then I turned up the speed and did the next almost two miles at 7:35 and 7:40 paces. Then I did my ten minute cool down at a 9:33 pace.

That's the fastest I've ever run for any length of time, and it felt good. Considering that those miles were in the middle of training, in the middle of my training cycle with no taper, I feel pretty good about Sunday. I'm taking off Friday and Saturday so I'll be rested and fresh. I'll post my results here Sunday.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Loans That Change Lives

Today I was out running errands with my daughter and listening to Marketplace on NPR (KERA, my local station). They interviewed Nicholas Kristof about a unique opportunity to participate in the practice of microlending (also known as microfinance) through an organization called Kiva. From the Kiva website:
Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

I was impressed enough by the program (you can read or listen to it here) and by the information on the website that I made my first loans to four different people. You can see my portfolio here.

I don't believe that microcredit alone can save the world, and I don't believe that charitable organizations and government programs are wrong or ineffective. I support anti-poverty organizations financially, and I support government anti-poverty efforts politically. But this is one more potentially powerful tool for empowering people to follow their dreams and gain a greater measure of independence.

If you can part with as little as $25 for a year or so, you can help an entrepreneur in a developing country increase his or her self sufficiency. Given the incredible wealth and opportunities that we have here in the United States and other "first world" countries, doesn't this seem like the right time to check out

Have a happy July 4th!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Quick Weekly Recap

This week I picked a training plan and picked my goal races. It was a big week for me because I love to have a plan! I debated what type of training plan to choose. I want to run a 5k and test my speed; then I want to work hard to increase my speed while starting to add some distance. I chose Hal Higdon's Advanced 5k program. I probably shouldn't have chosen the Advanced program because as far as running goes I'm not advanced. But I liked the fact that this plan had two days of speed work and more mileage than the Beginning or Intermediate Plans.

My test race will be the Blazing Saddles 5k on July 22nd. My goal race will be the Watermelon 5k on August 19th. After that, I'm going to transition to Hal Higdon's Intermediate Half Marathon program. My goal race will be either the Miracle Match Half Marathon (in Waco, TX) or the Houston Half Marathon, both on October 28th. As part of that training program I will race a 10k and 15k. After the half I plan to work on speed and do some more races in the 5k to half marathon range. I don't plan to attempt my first marathon until next fall.

Here's what happened this week:
  • Monday: Rest day (not normally a rest day according to my training plan, but I didn't pick the plan until Monday afternoon.
  • Tuesday: 5 x 400 intervals. Fastest split: 1:34, a 6:16 pace.
  • Wednesday: Rest day.
  • Thursday: 4.02 mile tempo run at 8:39 pace. Started out faster but couldn't maintain.
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: 4.07 miles at 8:27 pace. Felt good, no walking or stopping, even pace. Then TNT training. I had some time before training so I did two easy miles at 9:17 pace. Then 10.08 training/racewalking miles at 16:55 pace. Tough day: very humid, our course was flooded so we did the North course, which we've never done this season (and I've never done at all), and several of us made a wrong turn. It was supposed to be 8 miles but ended up being 10.
  • Sunday: The schedule called for 60 minutes of easy running. I did sixty minutes, but I had to keep stopping and walking. I just couldn't maintain energy, and I was trying to go slow. I ended up with an average 10:27 pace, but if you excluded the walking I probably averaged a 9:40 pace.
I'm on my way. I have a long way to go; I'm starting a new sport, in spite of my racewalking experience, so I have to respect the distance and stick with my training program. But I'm enjoying everything so far!