Saturday, January 1, 2011
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
I had everything ready, or so I thought until I dug through my workout bag and couldn't find my gloves. It was 31 degrees outside and I really wanted to keep my hands warm. With less than 45 minutes before the start of the race, I got in my truck and headed back home just to get my darn gloves.
This diversion cut into my planned warm up time. It was my race strategy to start off the line rather aggressively so I wanted to warm up for about 10 minutes before. Warming up before a race isn't something I usually do, but with the cold weather and early fast pace planned, it seemed a good idea. That opportunity lost by being a dunderhead, instead did some jogging around the Sherwood High School where the race was starting and then headed to the start line.
Randy was running this race with me. Initially he wasn't going to be able to because his family was gathering out of town for the holiday, but his son's football team had made the playoffs so the two of them were staying home. We walked right past the line of runners already in the chute and boldly took a position right at the front of the group. I looked up and saw a sign that stated "5 to 7 min runners here" and backed up a full step. I looked behind and saw another sign for 8 minute milers and eased into an area between the two. Randy, true to form, never gave up his position in the very front. I turned on my Garmin and kept an eye on it as it acquired satellites just a moment before the start.
Off we went. Somehow, and this always happens, it seemed like there were way too many runners ahead of me. Didn't we just leave and I was at the front? Where did all these people come from? I told myself that the first 500 yards does not a race make and let these guys go out too fast. I had a plan. Stick to it.
I spent a lot of time watch watching in this race. It's a short race and if you fall asleep and don't track your pace the whole time there is little opportunity to make it up later. My overall pace needed to be 7'14" to meet my goal of a sub 45 minute race and in the early going, which was supposed to be aggressive, I did a 7'11" during mile 1 and 6'55" on mile 2. So far so good.
But the early speed and spirited downhills took their toll on my quads right away. Before mile 3 I felt my legs fade away on one of the last of the rolling hills on this back stretch. By the time I got through mile 4 I had used up nearly all of my early cushion of time. Later I would see that my heart rate was maxed out during almost the entire race, averaging 175 and hitting 185 at the end. I was working hard and I was conscious of my labored breathing. I had run with or ahead of Randy up to now but at 3 miles to go he was just ahead of me.
During my early exuberance I had shouted back at him "This is our house!" in an encouraging way of reminding him that other runners had come to run in our town and we were about to enter Brookman Road, our favorite training route in town. Defend our course. But that zeal had ebbed quickly and I struggled just to push on down the road. A road so familiar to me. I run it at least once a week and is my favorite route from my house. The horses, cows, goats, llamas, orchards and barns are all old friends. This was our place and we needed to run well.
The group I ran in remained constant nearly the entire race. There was a lanky guy about 30ish who seemed to lope along effortlessly and woman about the same age who seemed very fit and was able to rear back and hawk one off to the side with extreme confidence and skill. I'm always impressed by that, maybe because I'm so lousy at it.
The plan was to "race" the final mile and a half. It seemed reasonable before we started but now I wasn't so sure what was going to happen when I tried to push. I thought I might be able to pick it up just a bit but I was feeling pretty spent and was laboring to keep up. We made a right turn off the street and onto a bike path that runs along a green way.
That turn seemed to help. The narrower route, change of scenery, and knowing we had just one more mile to go gave me a boost. At one point, when I sense him drifting, I even managed to be able to ask Randy to speed up as we hugged the left side of the trail, walkers from the 5K now on our right. I was also finding inspiration from my watch that showed that we were a full second behind the pace. Doesn't sound like much, but it really does translate into meeting the goal or not. Not much route left to make up the lost time.
At the end of the path there are a couple of short but very steep pitches to be dealt with and then we popped back up onto the subdivision roads. The high school was just a few blocks away.
This confines of the path were gone and now had room to sprint to the finish. I gave it everything left...so did everyone else. We made one last turn back into the school yard where we had started and ran for it. I crossed the line and someone reached for me and tore a tag off my bib and handed it to the timekeeper as I clicked the stop button on my watch: 44'51". Nine whole seconds to spare!
I actually felt kinda sick after this one. Maybe I hadn't eaten very well beforehand, maybe I'm just not a speed guy, but I felt a little queasy and the right side of my face around my mouth felt sort of numb. It all went away quickly but this type of thing for me is more typical after a marathon, not a stinking 10K.
I wandered over to the football field area where the snacks and drinks were being given out and talked to some people that I knew about how I did. I walked back to my truck to get a bag of food I had brought and put it into the back of a U-Haul truck, this is a charity event after all, and headed for home.
The next day the results were posted on the website: 38th overall (ain't ever going to catch those kids), 31st man (got chicked 7 times!), 1st in my 50 to 54 division and set a 10K PR.
Not bad for an old guy on a cold Thanksgiving morning.