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>> Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Three days. That's how long it took for the Boilermaker 15K to sell out this year. I feel like every year there's this huge hype around how many people will register and how fast it will happen -- I know it was quick in 2012, too, but most every other year, we had at least a month or three.

We heeded warnings and secured spots on the first day.

Is anyone else running this race? It's one of my favorites, not just for the after-party, which is -- truth be told -- pretty incredible. And the beer. Yeah. Beer is definitely a plus. But I love the neighborhood spirit. So many fun things to see and hear along the way. Llamas, people. Llamas.

It's a challenging course, and all the activity helps distract the mind from all those hills.

The 15K is giving the half marathon some competition for my favorite distance. It's long enough to be satisfying, but short enough to allow me to get some speed. (I consider anything under 8 minute miles speedy.) Recovery time is a breeze and it never cuts much into my running schedule. I also think I have a lot of room for improvement.

Now, I will also be running a half marathon in the spring, but I'd like to make the Boilermaker my ultimate goal race. My PR is 1:13:45, set back in 2010 (race report here). Obviously, my goal would be to PR in the 2013 race. I'd like to go under 1:12, if possible. That means paces that hit about 7:40.

A lot will be dictated by the summer heat and humidity. In reality, I just try to finish feeling good because I absolutely hate summer running.

Registering for a race (I haven't had anything on the calendar for some time) got me motivated to run a steady long run on Sunday. I should be able to shave 7 minutes off this time, right? Which leads me to a question I've been asked before. Most recently, Cassandra asked it:

"How fast do you run your long runs?"

My answer won't be very helpful because I often don't keep track. I do my long runs mostly to get in the distance. I map out a route, and put one foot in front of the other. Completing the distance at a comfortable, steady pace -- without taking walk or rest breaks -- is usually my goal.

I only once a month or so wear a watch. Or if I'm running with some of my runners club friends, I'll usually find out at the end how we fared. Of course, it depends on the distance, but for training runs involved with 15Ks to half marathons, I'd say it ranges between 8:15 and 9:15 pace.

Lucky for me, I found this great article -- "In the Long Run" -- by Hal Higdon, from way back in 2002. Though it's specifically about marathoning, it's actually the article from which I based my own, and still current, long run method for all distances. Higdon writes: "Speed is of limited importance during long runs . . . they’re more about time spent on your feet."

He continues, "Experienced [runners] who do long runs at race pace risk both injuries and over-training." And then, "Generally it’s better to err on the slow side. Not every long run needs to be done at the same pace, nor does the pace within each run need to stay the same."

For those who need a number, Higdon suggests 30 to 90 seconds slower than goal race pace. It's a wild range, but just lets us all know that -- AGAIN -- speed is not the point during long runs for most of us. Other workouts on the track and elsewhere are for that purpose.

In the coming months, I'll be writing more about my plan to bring my pace down from 7:55 to 7:40 (Stephen says this is a very conservative goal, but we'll see).

All I know is that the last time I ran this race, we didn't have a cuddly toddler to worry about. I think my biggest anxiety is figuring out where we'll stay the night before. At home with a 2-hour drive to the start the morning of? Or cram the three of us into a crappy hotel room and risk not sleeping at all?

We're planning to book a room today and figure out if we'll cancel or not in the next couple months. Any racing parents out there have tips for away-game races? What should we do? We're considering leaving Ada overnight with a set of grandparents, but even that sounds like potential for disaster. Or if we bring her and drag the grandparents with us, that -- too -- could cause issues for everyone.

Hmmm . . .

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