Greetings, runners. Just a quick check-in this time.
Training has been going well this spring, although I had a very slight L hamstring tweak--about as small as a tweak can get and still be considered a thing. I've been able to train normally, but cut out anything faster than 3K pace. A range of workouts, including 3 and 4 mile tempo runs, 5 x 3:00 at CV pace, 3 x 1 mile at 10K pace.
Yesterday in all paid off. I ran out local race, the Double Decker 10K in Oxford, MS, which has lately been rejiggered with some crazy hills (total vertical 396, according to Strava), and managed to run almost 2 minutes faster than last year (6.14 miles by my Garmin in both cases). That's 18 seconds a mile faster, as I aged from 64 to 65: from 8:25 pace down to 8:07 pace.
In many decades of racing, I've rarely made that kind of one-year jump, especially as age happens. So I've been pondering what might be responsible. The weather this year was cooler--55 rather than 63, and overcast rather than partly sunny--and that clearly made a difference.
But so did a number of other things:
--running the entire course once, a few weeks back, as a moderate tempo run, which helped me approach the race itself with full and vivid knowledge of the sequential challenges
--all those tempo runs, almost weekly, which, during the race, felt as though they helped me recover from the hills more quickly as I glided and then pushed down the backside
--a fair number of hills in general during this training cycle, including some ski-slope-angle rollers near Lake Keowee SC one weekend.
--3 x 1 mile at 8:00 w/90 second rest, six days before the race, which I sailed through without much trouble
--as per my second point, a tactical decision to run by feel and HR, paying no attention to pace (i.e., on my Garmin); to keep cadence high but not hammer the hills; and, as soon as possible on the backside of the hills, to push back up to full speed. I exploited every downhill like that, although the steeper downhills forced me to sit back on my haunches.
One more thing: Since I returned to running a year and a half ago, I have remained uninjured. Whatever I did in last year's race was done on six months' training. This year's race benefited from the slow accumulation of miles over the intervening year, and a number of other races (although only one other 10K, run last spring).
FWIW, I averaged 28.5 mpw for the 8 weeks prior to this race, and 29.5 mpw prior to last year's race. So this year's result isn't due to more mileage.
Stay healthy, y'all