California Round Two

from Tyler Pennel Running

Week of Training April 26 – May 2

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 16 Drills, 6 x 150m
Monday 10 Core
Tuesday 10 6 Workout, Core
Wednesday 13
Thursday 11 Travel to CA, Drills and Strides
Friday Shakeout 7 Drills, 400, 3 x 200m
Saturday Shakeout 11 Race
Week Total 84

The week started off with a dialed back long run out at Watauga River Road. It was just a steady “time on feet” (a Peteism) long run. We had instructions not to run too fast because of our race the next weekend, but at this point we all knew the work had already been done.


The New River in Todd. This is one of my favorite places to do a workout.


That also meant that the workout for the week was going to be very relaxed and laid back. To make things simple Pete had us do a Fartlek from Todd to Fleetwood along the Todd Railroad Grade Road. The road is built on an old railroad line that follows the South Fork of the New River, so it is flat and good footing. On the ten mile trek to the Fleetwood Post Office, Pete had us do 3 x 3, 2, 1 minutes with no real defined rest. So with that in mind, after a few miles Joe set the tone of the workout with, “We’ll start at the third mail box we pass.” After that each of us took turns defining when the next rep would start. Making a game of the workout definitely helped the time fly by and before we knew it, we were in Fleetwood. With the workout finished, the next few days were all about getting relax and recovered for Payton Jordan on Saturday.

The Race

Before the race, I was feeling both mentally and physically ready to go. Training had shown that I was in great shape. Unlike the last two years, I felt that I was coming in to the race on the rise. I had recovered from the little Achilles injury set back in the winter and each race had been an improvement from the last. With all signs pointing to a good race, it was a bit of a disappointment to only walk away with less than a second PR.


My game plan coming in to the race was to find a spot on the rail and “ride the train” to a PR. Not being too worried about being a few seconds slow the first couple of laps, I went out conservative and found myself at the back. From there I just tired to my best to shut my brain off and run, but that ended up being harder than I wanted. Basically from the gun, my legs felt terrible. Just over a lap in, they started to slightly ache, and I realized I was in for a long haul. At that point I figured I was not going to be able to close well, but instead just try and run an even race and hope that I could negative split.


The crew at Stanford this year!


A rabbit was assigned to run 13:52 through 5000m, so I figured I could be somewhere around 14 flat at half way, which was going to be perfect. Unfortunately for the field pacer was slow (14:07 at 5000m, I was 14:11ish), which pushed any hope of a very fast time out of the window. But since I was not feeling great, the pace ended up being better for me. Also since the pace was slow, there was a lot of jockeying for position, just like two weeks ago at Mt. SAC, but being the caboose of the train saved me the trouble of fighting for position. Several times in the first half, the field would speed up and I would be left a few steps off the pace. I felt like I was running more even, but would have to surge to catch up.


After the pacer dropped out, the guys up front began to pick up the pace, and not wanting to be running in no man’s land, I went with them. A few laps later, people began to fall off of the pace and I went around them, but I figured I would eventually hit the wall myself. That happened just before 8km when the leaders threw in a 2:09 800m. My next few laps were a struggle and I lost focus. I think I lost about 12 seconds in those three laps. Eventually I snapped out of my inattentiveness and rallied for the final two laps. I found a second wind and with a lap to go I realized that a PR was possible and pushed the last 400m.


My initial response to my race was frustration at seeing guys I race against on the road and cross country run under 28 minutes. I am able to race well against them on other surfaces, why would the track be any different? I guess it just comes down to who feels good on the right day. There have been plenty of times where I have had a great race and others did not.


After a few days reflection, I have a much more positive view of my race. While I did not feel fantastic, I ran a smart race for how I felt and was able to control my blow up at 8km. During the entire race, I was running that extra one percent than I wanted, but still was able to hang on for a PR. Also I was also able to refocus for the last 600m and close a bit faster after slowing down.


Another thing that hit me after the race was some advice form Mike Aish. Mike ran at Western, and was assistant coach my first year there. He is the school record holder in the mile, 5000m (indoor and outdoor), and 10,000m. He is a two time Olympian for New Zealand and has run 27:46. I was talking to him before my race and mentioned my goal to break 28 minutes. We got to talking a little bit about his career and that it took him six years to finally break the 28 minute barrier, but when he did, he flew right by it. His words are just another reminder that running is not linear. There are up and downs, plateaus, and injuries. Success is measured by one race, but whole careers.


The most important takeaway from my race is that it lit a fire inside me. I may have had one bad race, but that does not mean my season is finished. Pete and I have a tentative schedule that takes me through the USATF Outdoor Championships in late June, but first I am ready to get back to training knowing that I can run faster!


I believe that I have used this one before, but one quote that always has stuck with me from Coach Vandenbusche. I feel that it is appropriate for the tone of my blog. It’s a reminder that each day is important, but it is the sum that will be remembered.


“Great days turn into great weeks; Great weeks turn into great months; Great months turn into great years; Great years turn into great careers.”

Race Results

Race replay

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