Published on by Andrew Lemoncello
I'm writing this blog from my hotel room in Peoria, Illinois where this morning I ran the Steamboat Classic 4 mile race. This was my first race back after the marathon last year and I was really happy with the result as I had a lot of speed and the race and time came very easily to me. This year was a little different as it feels like my body hasn't quite settled into a rhythm of the daily rigors of training but I think this morning's race will help a lot with putting my legs back in the place where I want them to be...running well.
Last week was the first time in a long time that I had done a true speed workout and I think that is why it left me tired for so long afterwards. On paper, the workout seems pretty normal: 10 x 300m with 90 seconds recovery. Add in the fact that this was run at 7,000 feet on a very windy day and running with my track fit training partners destroying me on every rep, I came out toasted but feeling great about it. Everyone else was running 6 x 300m with 4 minutes recovery (running 45, 44, 43, 42, 41, 40) as they would be racing at the weekend so it was designed to get their legs going and feeling good. I didn't have a race so I did an extra rep in the time they took for their recovery. I ran the extra rep at the same pace as the one I did with the guys and I didn't realise how quickly my legs would tire doing this. I wasn't quite able to run the 41 and 40 second reps as I was maxing out at 42 seconds over the last few reps. It felt great to run with that sort of turnover again no matter how difficult it felt. The next few days were spent running very easily in order to recover but come the long run on Saturday I was still beat. Luckily for me, Martin and Brett were also tired so we called it a day after 2 hours of running. The rest of the day involved slobbing out in front of the TV and watching the NCAA champs and the NYC Diamond League and then having a nice dinner out in town with some friends and their newborn son. Sunday's recovery day rounded off a 120 mile week for me and it felt good to be getting up near marathon mileage again.
We ended up having to change Monday's track workout as it was, as usual, incredibly windy and the only track that we have access to in Flagstaff is built on a mesa so you are always hit with the worst of the wind. I was supposed to run 3 x 1600m and then some 200ms afterwards but after the first mile, we decided to cut the reps down so that I would be running faster as the workout went on. 1600m, 1200m, 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m was what I ended up with and it reminded me of how much I love to do workouts like that. I used to do them a lot as a steeplechaser and they were always a good indicator of what stage my speed was at. I came away happy but again, very tired. I took Tuesday very easy and then did a light farltek on Wednesday just to get my legs turning over. I felt sluggish throughout the whole workout but I got a good massage later on in the day so I knew that would help with my recovery. I left the next morning to travel to Peoria for my race so only managed to get a slow 20 minute run in as I would be leaving at 7 am. The journey was uneventful (the best way to travel!) and I got in right as the race committee dinner was starting. These are always good occasions to catch up with everyone and we were treated to some good food so I left there pretty happy. Friday was nice and relaxing with a couple of easy runs and lots of laying about.
I got up at 4 am on race morning for the 7 am start. I was surprisingly awake for that time in the morning and it felt really good to have some coffee again (I stop drinking coffee in the 4 days leading up to a race). The humidity was already pretty high when we walked over to the assembly area but it wasn't as hot as last year so that would be a nice change. After my usual warm up and rituals I was ready to go but I still didn't feel much spark in my legs. The start of the race is on a hill, which doesn't last long but it certainly takes the breath out of you for the remainder of the first mile. I was just hanging onto the lead group of seven and they kept gapping me a little but they weren't going so fast that I couldn't catch back up after a few seconds. Apparently there was a $500 bonus for hitting the 2 mile mark first in under 9 minutes and this had been mentioned briefly to us but no one really knew that it was still on the cards. One of the guys hit the front and tried to get it (He was the only person that knew about it for sure) and I figured he was just feeling great but his effort was in vain as he missed the time and then he quickly fell off the pace. The last 2 miles was a long straight road with only a couple of turns with 800m to go. Again, I was being dragged along by the 3 guys in front and then the 2 Kenyans made a bit of a break which just left Martin and I together. I tried to get around a few times but then decided to save it for the last half mile of the race. With about 600m to go we turned left onto a downhill on which I was able to pass Martin and make up some ground on Macdonald Ondara, the Kenyan in second place. There was one more turn with 100m to go so I saved my last effort for the home straight and managed to pull out a 2nd pace finish in18.06. This was only 2 seconds slower than the previous year, feeling no where near as good as I did then so I came away very encouraged with the result. Hopefully the pace of the 4 miler will make the pace of the half marathon I am doing in 2 weeks feel easy and I can have another good result.
I start marathon training next week so I am looking forward to getting back up to the high mileage that gets me really strong. We don't go that high until after the half marathon (in Sapporo, Japan on the July 3rd) and then I have a 9 week block of solid training to get ready for the World Champs. I always like to race but we wanted to see how my body would react to a long period of high mileage so have decided that that the half marathon will be my last race before the marathon.