Monday, December 05, 2005

Thank you Arthur

First, a few disclaimers-the course is downhill, there was a slight tailwind, the weather was cool and perfect (33 degrees Fahrenheit at the start), and I had a good pacing pal in Lucas, who I did last week's marathon pace run with. That being said, as I commented to Yvonne after her great race at Chicago, if you don't make excuses for bad conditions, then you don't have to make them for good conditions either.

So I had my best race ever, I guess in a fit of adrenaline I even said so to a reporter from the Tucson Citizen. My quote turned out wrong though-where I say "It's the hardest I've worked at a run in my life", I really said "It's the hardest I've worked at my running in my life". It's a small thing, but I do think it's important to make the distinction. Following the Lydiard method has been a real challenge, and I owe my great day to my cumulative efforts before the race (the 20 weeks I've been following Lydiard's training), which allowed me to P.R. and execute what I felt was my best race. God that sounded pretensious, sorry about that.

I was on the start line well-rested, though worried about my self-doctored neuroma pad. Kiera had done two feedings with Finn the night before which allowed me to sleep well so I was ready. With the sound of the gun three runners, two of which were decked out in full Hanson's garb, took off at close to 5 minute pace. I found myself leading the chase pack along with Lucas, Dave (the masters runner from Tucson I've mentioned before), Chris (another runner I ran a half-marathon with in March), and a few unknowns. We started out as 10 or so, and I felt like we were running around the pace I did the 10 miler in a few weeks back, 5:35 or so. We hit the first mile in 6:25. Immediately, a few people start to panic and make goofy surges, but the runners I mentioned and I start talking about how the markers must really be off. Still, it's disconcerting when we hit mile 2 in 5:49, which seems very slow given the effort. I miss the mile 3 split but I hit the watch at mile 4 with 10:08, which meant we apparently averaged 5:04 for two miles. It was all quite absurd, but I just tried to maintain my rhythm as we started to shed runners from the pack. After mile 5 (in 5:25 which seemed semi-plausible), the course detoured into a rolling out-and-back section, which is regarded as the most difficult part of the race. Lucas took the lead into the wind, I tucked in, and after changing places with him I noticed that we were the only two remaining from our pack, even though mile 6 was 5:43 (though who knows if this was accurate). As we started the "back" portion of the out-and-back Lucas lagged a bit while I continued the same pace. I felt like I was on my own for mile 7, which passed in 6:19 (the markers were clearly set out by a drunkard), but I could still hear Lucas's footsteps in the distance. He is a great runner, and does very well with an even pace, so I was happy to hear him coming back up to me. He arrived and was now in front of me at mile 8, which we hit in 5:33. Just 8K to go now, though I was starting to get just a little strained as Lucas put about 4 steps on me. I tried to stay calm as mile 9 arrived in 5:32. I wasn't slowing, so I wasn't too worried at this point. Mile 10 at 5:26 found us hearing footsteps, as a runner had somehow come up behind us. This must have been a huge effort for him to make, since he wasn't one of the guys in our pack earlier.By mile 11 he had passed us, even with our 5:30 pace, and it was a new race.

Two miles to go in a race that had until this point stretched what I thought I was capable of for the distance. I didn't dare look at the total elapsed time on watch, I really didn't want to know. Getting passed so late in a race when you're at the limit is hard, and is also something I'm not used to. As the runner stretched his lead to more than 40 meters I had to make a decision. I had read Pete Pfitzinger's article on surging in the last Running Times, and I thought if I ever needed to surge it was now. I told Lucas that I was going for it, and that this was our chance to beat this guy. Then I just tried to accelerate slowly, though my legs were a little unwilling at first. At first the runner didn't seem to be getting any closer, and when mile 12 ended with a 5:18 I knew it was probably over for me. One more surge. I've come so far this year, and I knew with all the miles I'd run that I could live with falling apart the last mile, but I couldn't live without giving chase to this runner with everything I had. Fourth place was on the line, my best finish ever for a race of this size. He was getting closer, there was still time. I was coming even with him, there was still at least a half-mile to go. As I got on his shoulder, I somehow opened up my stride and ran that last 800 repeat I skipped on Thursday. I could hear him falling back and I simply couldn't believe it. I gave it the maximum with about 400 to go, and with a 90 degree turn at the 13 mile mark I glanced and saw I had it. I crossed the line at 1:12:49, with a 5:03 last mile.

This really was a great day for me, and I want to thank everyone for all the kind comments after the race. It's pretty neat to post your time for a race and wake up the next morning to see so many "good jobs" and the like after the post.

I'm confident that training with the Lydiard method made today possible, and for those following similar training or considering it, I'm here to tell you the results are amazing and quantifiable. If you do the work, your running will never be the same. After stagnating racing times, since I've been running the Lydiard way I've set bests in the 5K by 9 seconds, the 10K by over a minute, the 10 mile by 1:34, and the 1/2 marathon by 2:36. So thanks again Arthur Lydiard, Nobby, Mark, Glenn and all who have helped me on my quest to be the best runner I can, I feel I am on my way.

Training: Sunday, 17 miles, including the 1/2 marathon, warm-up (too short), and cool-down)
Today: 10 miles, 1:16:06, 7:37 pace. Very easy on tender legs and some new arch-blisters
Total for the week: 87 miles in seven sessions

13 comments:

Thomas Sørensen said...

Good race report. And so exciting....I was afraid that you would not get the guy. Congrats again. How are the legs feeling today? :-)

Andrew said...

Great report and great finish!

Scooter said...

"the markers were clearly set out by a drunkard" - drunks everywhere are gonna be pissed at you!

Your description of going after that guy who passed you was one of the finest stories of pure racing I've read recently. Thanks for an excellent recap.

tb1 said...

Congratulations on your effort and also thanks for your description of the race.

Zeke said...

Great report. It sure would be nice to have accurate mile markers. Is it really that hard or too much to ask in the days of high-tech gadgetry? Do you think that 5:04 last mile was accurate?

Mr Carter said...

wow. what a run. that's something special for sure.
good luck with the last few weeks of training. looks like you're right on track for a sub 2:40.
cya out there.
ty

robtherunner said...

Great job Mike and thanks for the exciting report. It is nice to read about your success with Lydiard and I look forward to the final progression to the marathon.

Marc said...

Mike - Wonderful report and a well-run race. Well done!!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Great job! I read the article in the Citizen yesterday and smiled when I saw that you were mentioned - very cool.

Love2Run said...

Great race report and love your description of passing the last guy. Just another 800m repeat... Think I'll use that sometime ;-)

brojoe said...

Nice run. But just so you know, I let you pass me ...

Johnny Lyons said...

Thanks for the nice report and huge congrats on the race!!! Your stuff is inspiring even if I don't plan on getting to that level, it's just the idea of achieving your personal goals. Awesome Mike!

Dallen said...

I'm a month late, but awesome race.