Saturday, July 30, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #61 (Blessing of the Fleet 10 miler)

Yesterday was day #61 in the streak and the fourth time I have run the Narragansett Lions' Blessing of the Fleet 10 mile road race. This year wasn't the fastest I have ever run this race, but I thought it might be neat to look at the times I've run it and how this year stacks up. These numbers all come from my recorded data on various devices. The official chip times vary slightly, but not by too much.

My first run on this course: July 26, 2013

By the numbers:

Distance (mi): 10.19
Avg. Pace: 7'38"
Duration: 1:17:47
Avg. Heart Rate: --
Elevation Ascent (ft): 62

Back when I started running, I used Nike+ to log my runs on my phone. I kick myself about this a bit now, because I wish I had all the data in one place (like Strava) and that I'd consistently used the same stuff to record. But I wasn't really sure how long I was going to be into running, and so it made sense to do things on the cheap using what I had. I trained in bad weather in old hoodies, I bought my singlets and shorts on clearance at the local hardware store, and I used my phone to record data. Live and learn.

This first time is my fastest time recorded on the Blessing course. It is worth noting that I'd been running for about a year, was at my lowest weight, and had just run my first half marathon the previous May. I wasn't using a heart rate monitor, so I wasn't obsessed on effort, just covering miles.

It's also worth noting that the weather is recorded as rainy, but my memory is that it was overcast and a bit cool. Like, comfortable. That is not really common.

My second run on this course: July 25, 2014

By the numbers:

Distance: 10.1mi

Elapsed Time: 1:19:30

Pace: 7:48/mi

Heart Rate: --

Elevation: 130ft

Obviously this year was a bit slower. A respectable time, though. It was a bit warmer than the previous year, and I was also experimenting with what a good warm up for this distance would be. Given that it was warmer, I figured I would put in a five miler earlier that day to help adjust to the heat. It worked out OK but I probably would have been just as well served to cover three miles in the midday heat, and save something for the race later.

My third run on this course: July 24, 2015

By the numbers:

Distance: 10.1mi

Elapsed Time: 1:19:27

Pace: 7:48/mi

Heart Rate: --

Elevation: 124ft

For some reason, this one doesn't give me an average heart rate. It'll give me a rate for each mile, but not so much for the whole event. Oh well. I did another five mile warm up for this race, because it had served me fairly well the previous year. The five miler I did before this one, however, was much slower, taking in easy and just covering the distance.

This one was a good race. The time is only three seconds better than the previous year, but it was a great race that really lives in my memory and defines me as a runner. I headed down early, freaked out in traffic, got to the check in just in time and got set up. We had a storm pass through earlier in the day, but were expecting a clear race.

Went out fairly strong, figured I might as well see what I could do so I was putting in a really good effort. At about mile four there are some rolling hill climbs, all the way up to mile five, then another gradual climb of about a mile or so. I went into those comfortable, and by the time I got to mile five we heard the first crack of thunder. The race volunteers looked at us and said, "Now it is time to go fast."

I did, I guess. We got rained on and the deluge cooled us all off a bit. I actually was enjoying running in the rain, at six miles in you may as well have fun with it, because otherwise you're just in for four more miles of drudgery. I took my sunglasses off, carried the hat I had been wearing, and focused on form and playing in the puddles. The rain broke by the time I got to the finish line, and I saw some friends from work and caught up for a bit before heading back to the car.

Great race.

This year's run: July 29, 2016

By the numbers: 

Distance: 10.1mi
Elapsed Time: 1:24:30
Pace: 8:19/mi

Heart Rate: 170bpm

Elevation: 240ft

This year it was HOT. We have been having a heatwave in southern New England, so I've spent a lot of time in the house, going out for my runs late at night. I neglected a real warm up this year, which I think really cost me. I also have been having issues with my nutrition lately, and sleep (as comes with being a new parent.) Next year I will try to work to get those things back. It shouldn't be really hard, it just takes focus, and I know I can do that. I have been building a better base, and I know my body better now than I did three years ago, so I should be able to PR on this course in the next couple of years. I also ran a pretty grueling trail race last week, so I'm sure that may have some effect here.

That said, I still had a lot of fun on the course gritting it out through the stretches where the sun was really beating down. The other great thing about this race is that the crowd of spectators it attracts is really big -- it is a lot of fun to hear them and see them all cheering on the runners. Many of them will hand out water and orange slices, and the very kindest of them turn their hoses and sprinklers on the road for the really hot days like this. I ran through every hose in the last five miles. It made life a lot better.

At the end of the race I met up with my friend who was watching baby girl, and held the baby as we watched our friends and my wife come in. She was, as predicted, really upset by us being gone for awhile, but was OK after I came back. She was mad at me when I had to put her back in the stroller for the mile jog back to car, but at that point I think it was more from being sleepy and wanting to go home. All in all, it was a successful day out for our little family.

Next year I will try and plan for this race better. I'll focus on eating well starting weeks before, controlling my weight, and putting in a good warm up. Five miles may be too long of a warm up, but it served me well in the past.

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