Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Austin Distance Challenge
So after a major injury, a weird last semester of college, and a stressful summer of looking for a job, I've settled into a lifestyle routine again. Teaching turns out to be time-consuming, more than I thought it would be, but what helps my running schedule is that it's predictable; I have about the same amount of stuff to do every day and it generally gets done at the same time.
So over the summer I started running a little, and in August managed to start a solid routine. For the last few years, I'd been eyeing the Austin Distance Challenge as my next personal challenge. Injuries and whatnot had been keeping me out, but I think this is the year I could have a good run at it.
The Austin Distance Challenge is a series of six races spread out over about four months that starts with a 10K and ends with a marathon. Since it's six races, most of which are small potatoes, the pros don't fly into Austin from other places to do all six races. So this is truly an event that an amateur can win, and usually does.
I'd looked at the results from last year and the guy who won my age division (M 20-24) wasn't any faster than me in the marathon, but was much faster in the shorter ones. So I knew my training would have to focus on speed a little more if I didn't want to fall behind early in the Challenge.
My idea is a weekly training schedule of one long run (12-15 miles), a few mid-lengths (9-10 miles), one speed day (3 miles), and one "event day." At first, my event was 10K, so I'd do that once a week. As the distance of the next event in the Challenge increases, my "event day" will go up. That way I'm focusing on shorter runs at first and longer runs later.
My marathon pace is roughly a seven minute mile, which would put me at somewhere around 43:30 for a 10K. I figure with a shorter distance, I could push that down to 40 minutes even. A big challenge is just that I don't know how to pace at anything but my marathon cruising speed. One day I was doing my "event day" (a 10K) and decided I'd run on a track so I could keep my eye on my pace. I was gunning for 40 minutes, but I'd be OK with a little bit more than that. I finished in just under 38 minutes! Apparently if I try, I can actually be fast too...
By the day of the first race, I'd whittled my 10K time down to just under 37 minutes. I was hoping to hold a 6 minute mile pace in the race, which would have me finishing in only something like 36:30. Could I really hold that kind of pace? Especially when the race would be on semi-hilly roads instead of a flat track? Time would tell.