2015 USA XC Championships Race Review

Generally speaking, this is a somewhat out of the ordinary race review. However, due to a lack of road races during these colder months, and in light of the recent Disney film McFarland, I have decided to review the 2015 USA Cross Country Championships which took place on Saturday February 7th.

Read our race review of the 2015 USA Cross Country Championships.

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Running Two Races in One Day – Crazy, or Ingenious? | Fast Friday

Have you ever finished a race and realize you could have given more? Or finished and realized you were having so much fun, you wish you could just keep going? Whether from finishing a race with more in the tank, or finishing in the middle of a good runner’s high, I think every runner has had the thought, “let’s do it again.”

Ok . . . Maybe not every runner. Maybe not even most runners; but if that has ever been you then this article about double road racing may be worth a few minutes.

The concept of two competitions in a 24-hour period with a break in between creates a different way to race.

When Tina Kefalas, just four months removed from the 2012 Olympic marathon, where she competed for Greece, went looking for a Bay Area race to serve as a pre-Christmas time trial workout, she had no idea she would be a world-record holder before noon.

She found something called the Double Road Race in Pleasanton, California, drove across the San Francisco Bay from Hillsborough and entered.

Turns out, Kefalas had stumbled across the world premiere of Bob Anderson’s latest brainstorm—a 10K, followed by a 5K, with a Recovery Zone period in between. “Running with a halftime,” Anderson calls it.

Read More from Running Times

5 Tips for Scheduling Your Races

Whether you just made your new years resolution to finish a 5k, 10k, or Marathon, or you have been running races for years; choosing which races to run, and finalizing your race schedule can be a daunting, and time consuming task. As much as race calendars like Running In The USA, RRCA and (shameless plus) Runners On The Go help. Sometimes having all that race info at your fingertips can make the process even more time consuming.

As January ends and you start putting the finishing touches on your race calendar, consider these 5 tips.
1. Know Your Running Goal
Before you decide what races you are going to do this year, you have to know what you want to gain from the experience. Do you want to run a PR? Do you want to finish your first Marathon? Do you want to run 50 Marathons in 50 states?
It doesn’t matter what your goal is. Any goal is a good goal as long as it is challenging but achievable. However, before you go around choosing your races and checking your shirt size you have to think about things on a macro scale.
Write down what your goal is for the year and then attack your race scheduling with that goal in mind.
2. Timing of the Race
Not the literal timing of the race, but the time of year. A successful race calendar builds. Of course this depends on when in the year your target race is and when you start your training cycle. For example if you are running the Boston Marathon, then your Schedule will look different than if you just want to finish a 10K in 2015.
Either way the concept is the same though. The Schedule builds. Running and racing are like anything. Practice makes perfect. If your goal is to finish your first 10K this year, and you can’t do that right now, you wouldn’t expect to step out the door tomorrow and trot a nice, easy 6.2 miles.
You want to asses the shape you are in now, and assess your goal. You want to set intermediate goals that you think will be stepping stones on the way to reaching your goal.
Pick a race at the time of year when you expect to be able to reach your primary goal, then set intermediate goals at checkpoints during the year that will help you to reach your primary goal. The first step to setting your race calendar is choosing the dates that you will attempt your primary goal, and then choosing the dates that you want and expect to be able to achieve your intermediate goals.
3. Pin Down the Racing Logistics
Once you have your goal in mind Consider the details of the race. What is the race distance? Do you need a fast course? Do You want to travel or make a vacation out of it? Do you want to achieve your goal at any one particular race? Does your goal involve more than one race?
Pinning down the race logistics may be easy to do, or it may not be. For example, if my goal is to beat last years’ time at my local 5k, then pinning down the race logistics is simply a matter of finding out the race date, and time, etc.
However, if You are trying to achieve a Boston Qualifier then there are all sorts of logistics to consider. You will have to have a course that is an official Boston Qualifying course, you will want a fast course, you will want a group of people, or pacer going the pace you need, etc.
Based on your goal decide what kind of race you need, answer the classic 5 W’s and 1 H who, what, when, where, why, and how. You don’t have to pin down exactly what race you are doing, just think about what you will need and where you will need to be to achieve your goal.
You may not be able to pin down all the logistics. For example, if you live in Alaska and you know you need to run a Marathon in December, you may not know exactly where the race is going to be. That’s OK, work out as many of the details you can.
4. Do Your Running Road Race Homework
Now that you have a general idea of when and where you are racing, and what type of race you need to be in. It is time to start actually investigating races. This is where you will use Road Race Calendar websites. Use them to search out the time of year and location (if you know it) that you will need.
Don’t just choose the first race you come to that will be sufficient for your needs. Do your homework. Does the race have a website. Check the online reviews of the race. Check the results. Have they been having more and more finishers each year? Growth is a sign of a quality race. Look at the course, will it be sufficient for your goal? Check the results to see if there will or will not be a group of people to run with if you are trying to achieve a certain time.
Just like you would do your homework before making a purchase of a certain product, you want to do it before committing to a road race.
5. Create the Rest of Your Race Calendar
Essentially step 5 is to repeat steps 1 through 4 for the rest of the races that will lead up to your key race. For all of your lead in races you will have to consider what goals you need to set to be able to achieve your primary goal. You will then decide when you would like to achieve those goals to give you the best chance of achieving your primary goal and seek out races at those times.
Runners use many different methods to put together a race calendar. Also, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to running. Some people may need to run a race every two weeks for the months leading up to their goal. Others may not want to run any races. If you have a coach or running advisor, I would strongly urge you to consult with them when putting together your race calendar. Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy it. Running can be a physical and mental struggle, and you don’t want to make it stressful by sweating over your race calendar. Remember that you are setting goals, and putting together a race calendar because you enjoy running.

5 Tips For Running a Race In a New City

If you have been into running for a while, or if you have run a few marathons, chances are you have taken a look at some races you would have to travel for. Many runners have run races in cities that they are unfamiliar with. It can have its own set of challenges.

It’s true that 26.2 miles is the same distance in Boston as it is in your hometown. However, if you expect to have the same experience running the Boston Marathon as you did in your local marathon, prepare to be surprised. Here are 5 tips that will help you prepare for a race in a new city.

know the city you are racing in1. Get to know the city you are running in

If you are running your first ever out-of-town race, I would suggest a city you have been to before and feel somewhat comfortable and familiar with. A city you have spent some time running in is even better. Most importantly, make it a city you enjoy. The reason for this is because your whole view of the city will be skewed by your race. If you have a super painful race and things don’t go well. You are going to have a negative association with that entire city. By the inverse logic, a city you have been to before, are comfortable with, enjoy, and have enjoyed running in before is more likely to yield a good race result because of the positivity associated with that city.

The even more obvious reason to pick a city you are familiar with is to manage stress levels. If you are traveling out of town to race for the first time, you are inevitably going to be stressed. A brand new city that you are unfamiliar with will most definitely add to those stress levels.

figure out what and where you are going to eat before a race2. Figure out what you will do for food before and after the race

Most runners figure out their nutritional needs long in advance of a race. If you are about to opt to travel for your first race of any distance, chances are, you have run a race of that distance before. If that is the case, chances are you know what kind of food you will need the night before and day of the race. I would highly recommend finding a place where you can get that type of food in your race city in advance. If you like a good steak the night before a race, find the nearest steakhouse to your hotel, if you need pasta, find the nearest Italian food.
Personally, I love to eat local when I visit a new city, but before a race is generally not a great time to experiment. While a chain restaurant might be a little boring, it provides, continuity and reliability. You want as much of these things as possible leading up to a race in a new city. My rule is; eat familiar before a race, eat local after.

Crowded running road race3. Figure out how crowded the race will be

If you are travelling for a race, it is probably a more popular race than your local race at the same distance. Generally the reason people travel for a race is to try and run a PR, experience a different location, or run a more popular race.

If you are travelling for a larger, more popular race, there are probably a lot more people than there are at your local race. This may not be the case for you if you are from Chicago, New York, Boston or another city with a major marathon or other large race. However, the higher likelihood is that you are travelling to these large races. Know how crowded the race will be. Look at how many finishers there are and compare that to your previous race experience. Look into the previous years’ results and see how many people finished around your expected finish time. If 20 people finished within seconds of when you hope to finish. Chances are, it’s going to be crowded out there.

A crowd can change the game. It is more of a mental change than physical, but it is a change nonetheless. On one hand, having a lot of people can push you to faster times. On the other hand, many people who run the Boston Marathon lament that they are not able to take a full step for the first half of the race.

The main point of knowing how crowded the race will be is mental preparation. You want to know how crowded it will be, how many footsteps you will be hearing, and how much labored breathing will be around you. This will likely be in contrast to your isolated training. You want to know what is coming and be ready for it.

road running race course map4. Know the course

If you are doing a race you haven’t done in the past. I would highly recommend getting to know the course. If you are doing a shorter race like a 5k or 10k, I would run the course or as much of it as possible prior to the race. You don’t have to run it hard at all, it can be nice and easy, but this will give you the best possible simulation you can get before the race itself.

If the race is longer like a half-marathon or marathon, I would recommend running a key section of the race. I cannot necessarily say what a key section will be. This is up to you and it depends on your race plan, but get as familiar as possible with as much of the course as possible. For the sections you don’t run, try and drive as much of the course as possible.

Sometimes logistics make travelling the course impossible. Delayed travel, lodging arrangements, or road closures can stand in the way of course exploration. In these situations, study the course map and the elevation profile. Google maps is also a good tool in these situations to help you get a visual of what things will actually look like when you are out there.

run conservatively, run happy5. Run conservatively and have fun

You get better at running by training. However, more than just getting better at running, you get better at running routes. So, that 8 mile tempo run you do every other week to get fit for your marathon does make you more fit. However, it also makes you better at running that particular tempo run course. You get familiar with the intricacies of it.

You will not have this luxury in a city you are unfamiliar with and a race you are doing for the first time. That is why I recommend a conservative start. That doesn’t mean that you need to go out slowly, just conservatively. I would recommend starting about 10-15 percent slower than your goal pace for the first 25-35 percent of the race. You can make up the time in the last 25-35 percent of the race, as you will likely be feeling good from your conservative start.

Most importantly don’t get stressed because of your conservative start or the crowds, or any other unfamiliarity. Don’t start to jones for that next mile marker. If you find yourself indulging thoughts along these lines, you can easily distract yourself. Remind yourself that you are running in a brand new place. Look around, take in the scenery, build curiosity about what is around the next turn. Have fun, you are there to enjoy yourself, so don’t forget to do that.

Divina Pastora Marathon in Valencia, Spain

Finish Line Divina Pastora Marathon Valencia, Spain
The finish line area of the Divina Pastora Marathon in Valencia, Spain!

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Running on water? Not really, but the start and finish lines of the Valencia, Spain Divina Pastora Marathon make you think you are. There’s more than a cool start and finish to attract runners from around the world to Valencia on the third Sunday in November.

This year the weather was cold and windy on Friday when we went to the Expo at the complex of buildings near the finish line where the Opera House is located. But on Sunday, the temps moved up to the low 60’s and it was a great day to run.

Running kilometers instead of miles is a real difference and seemed to enhance the experience of running in an interesting foreign city. Among the memorable sights along the course were the America’s Cup Port and the IMG_9468beach along the Mediterranean, the University of Valencia, the Royal Gardens, and the Plaza de Toros.

Water stops? They were pretty much like in the U.S., except that hardly anyone spoke English, and being given dried apricots during the later miles was an unexpected treat. Crowd support was great and spectators yell your name on your race bib when you pass by from start to finish.