can i taper yet? (new haven 20k race report)

Ugh.  The New Haven 20K yesterday was quite the task for my tired marathon-training legs!  First off whoever said this course was flat and fast LIED!!  As this is the elevation graph from Mr. Garmin:

Why yes, those are hills you see.  If anything, I’d describe this more as a “rolling” course than a flat course…

So anyway, my day began way.too.early.  Wake-up call at 4:30 AM.  Make coffee and put in thermos and make my bagel to eat on the train.  Out the door a little after 5.  Desperately searching for a cab on duty to take me to Grand Central.  I think this may have been the earliest I have ever been en route to a race…yep there were still people out after their night at the bars.  Thankfully an off-duty cab decided to stop for me and take me crosstown.  Hit up the 5:35 train outta town.  Just relaxed, ate, drank and listened to music.  Got off the train a town away from New Haven where TB (aka the other half of the Dynamic Duo) lived…thankfully she had gotten my race stuff so I didn’t have to worry about that-all we had to do was drive there (nice to have the car as our personal baggage check!), jog over to the start area, make any last-minute preps and line up (arrrghhh no pace markers!) and wait for the starting gun (yes, there actually was a gun!)

So you can guess what mile 1 was like for me…arrrggh frustrating!!  For god’s sake, this is a national championship race, there oughta be better lineup control at the start!  The first mile was definitely slower than I wanted, but the next 3 seemed to go much better.  Oh and in these early miles, there were 2 women just yapping away.  I don’t know if I was more annoyed by the yapping or the fact that I was actually working at this pace and it definitely was not conversational for me!!  The course was very pretty and the town really got into it-between cheering and working the water tables.  However, even though the weather was relatively cool, it was very sunny and I felt it affecting me as there was not enough shade.  I actually took fluids more often than I normally would in a half.  So I hit 10K just under 49 minutes and hoped to be able to run the 2nd half stronger…

…which didn’t happen.  Miles 7 and 8 were barely under 8, with 9 and 10 being slogs.  I think there was some hilliness in those 2 miles, and a few others thought that Mile 10 was long but I was starting to really feel tired…moreso the effects of marathon training and not a full taper-the legs just couldn’t seem to turn over.  I was barely under 1:20 at mile 10 and I knew I had to get to it if I wanted to at least finish under 8 minute pace.  Miles 11 and 12 accomplished that, and that last .4 mile…I swear that stretch seemed to last forever!!  But finally there’s the finish line, and the announcer was saying racers’ names as they crossed the finish line (my name got totally butchered tho!!  I guess thats one thing that NYRR has on the rest of the world…lol)

Final time 1:38:51, 7:58 pace (10K splits 48:53/49:58-ouch!)  Splits:

(another thing-some of the mile signs were off of where the mile markers were painted on the road so I know a couple of my splits were short…)

I grabbed 2 bottles of water afterwards and downed them in record time, I needed it.  TB and I found each other and we hit up the finish festival and boy what a spread it was!!  Fruit, ice cream, hot dogs, BEER!!  And a loaf of ciabatta bread too…thats something you never see…lol!  Of course, I had 2 cups of beer…I was “dehydrated”!  TB and I just chilled out and watched the awards ceremony-was a beautiful day to hang outside, maybe not to run a race tho 🙂  After the awards, chilled out at TB’s CT pad for a little bit before I headed to the Metro-North to go home sweet home (and get a much-needed nap!)

So, my race.  Yeah, I know I could have done better.  I didn’t feel as strong as I did in the Brooklyn Half (and the splits reflected that-as I was able to negative split Brooklyn.)

On the other hand:

  • Well, this *was* an automatic PR as I never ran a 20K race before.  (My fastest recorded 20K split in a race was 1:41:01 in that disaster of a race known as MCM.  There were no 20K mats at the Philly Distance Run, so I’d guesstimate my 20K split then was 1:32-1:33 and change?)
  • Looking at the heart rate data, the numbers seemed kinda low, moreso than normal for a long race-average 158, max 171.  Compared to some other races: Brooklyn Half 2010-avg 166 max 179, Cherry Blossom 10 miler-avg 165 max 178, Philly Distance Run 2008-avg 166 max 182.  So I am interpreting that to mean if my legs were more rested, then the results would be more in line with what I would have been hoping for…
  • And just like Cherry Blossom last year…if sub-8 pace is a “bad day” for me I guess it’s not that bad (funny, quite a bit about this race reminded me of Cherry Blossom…the uber-sunny conditions, the way my legs felt…)
  • And I don’t think 4:30 am wake-up calls and 2 hour train rides are condusive to a good race performance…just seemed to throw off the routine a bit.

So as the post title says-can I taper yet?  Yeah I know…2 weeks away.  But I am hopeful that with a taper things could maybe go my way because…McMillan sez:

actually, I sorta prefer the RunWorks/Jack Daniels prediction of 3:37-but how funny was this? 🙂


16 thoughts on “can i taper yet? (new haven 20k race report)

  1. It’s always tough to get in a “great” race in the midst of marathon training,the long mileage of training doesn’t always mix well w/ racing but it sounds like you’re on course.
    It’s your call on the taper{I’m about to taper for 5th Avenue Mile & Syracuse Masters 5k}just remember as runners we seldom subscribe to the”less is more” mindset when in reality we should.
    Keep the faith

    • I guess I was spoiled the last 2 years getting all those PRs in the midst of marathon training.

      2 weeks til taper for me-I know a lot of people think a 3-week taper is too long but I don’t…my body needs it at that point. And it’s not like a taper is “stop running completely”…it is what it is-tapering down mileage so the legs can come back.

      • It took a number of years b4 I embraced “the taper”,I wish I’d tapered for more of my final marathons,I might’ve gotten better times….”if I knew then what I know now”!!
        Having said that even w/ track I’ve learnt there comes a time to reduce mileage this is my final week at 50 miles as I wind my season down w/ 5th Avenue Mile and Syracuse in 2 and 3 weeks time

  2. I too was surprised with the number of hills/overpasses in this race since it had been billed as flat. It wasn’t a problem per se since I race in Central Park, but unexpected nevertheless. I was on pace till the half way mark but fell apart in the second half. Seeing as how I’ve only raced up to a 10k before, I tried not top beat myself about it too much. Plus I PR’d the 10k time by 1:44! Congrats on the 20k PR!
    I took the train up the night before and stayed in the race hotel; kudos to you for getting up so early!

    • I know right? I train/race in Central Park so hills should be like nothing to me but still wasn’t welcome 🙂 Congrats on your race-sounds like you did well with a jump to a longer race distance!

      As for the transportation logistics…my original plan was to stay at my friend’s place the night before but that wound up not happening and I just didn’t want to put down the $$ for a hotel (considering I’m already spending a pretty penny for Chicago between hotel and flights!) This wasn’t ideal, but at least I know for next time. 🙂

  3. what a great race!! congrats on a super time! hang in there for another 2 weeks–the taper will be here before you know it.

  4. Don’t forget when trying to predict your marathon time that you ran that 20K race in the midst of your training, you are not rested with taper like you will be for the marathon.

    Congrats on a strong race in the midst of all of your training!

    I’m curious, what sofware do you use to upload your Garmin data?

    • Thanks!! 🙂 In past years, I’d actually add 5-10 minutes to what my half time predicts because usually (1) I’d taper a little for the half and (2) the half I’d usually run (Philly Distance Run) was really flat whereas my goal marathons (NYCM, MCM) had some hills and would have to adjust for that. This time seems like it’s the other way around…I’m not really tapering for races during the training cycle. Let’s see how it plays out on 10-10-10!!

      I use several programs to upload my Garmin data: SportTracks is my favorite, as I like their charts and graphs the best and it gives you more options to slice and dice your data (even if your autolap is on 1 mile, you can even break your splits down by every half or quarter-mile!) The bad news is that it looks like the new version will no longer be free 😦
      There’s 2 web-based ones I use-Garmin Connect (which is where I screencapped my splits from) and RunningAhead (I only like that one because it captures all splits with the “extended” times…which I like for short intervals.)

      • Okay thanks! I will check them all out. I use running ahead to log my workouts mannually. I’m nervous about uploading my Garmin data to it because I didn’t want it to monkey up my past entries. So I’ll try SportTracks and Garmin Connect first.

  5. It was indeed very funny! I was like “wow, was she running this intentionally as a MP pace run?” LOL! Glad your race went well! Very excited for you. Taper time is close enough to taste.

  6. I like Hal Higdon’s very simple marathon time predictor:

    5 X your (recent) 10K time.

    It’s been really close to my actual times for the previous couple marathons.

    Weather and course terrain notwithstanding!

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