Monday, October 02, 2006

The Real News

Finish line in sight

While a puny PR at the 8K distance is nice and all, the real news today comes from Downeast Andrew, who after many attempts finally crushed the three hour mark in the marathon with a stellar 2:57. Andrew PR'd by six minutes, and negative split the second half by running it three minutes faster than the first half. Andrew's was the first running blog I ever read, and I've been delighted to see the progress he's made over the past year through hard work and intelligent training. Andrew also won a 5K outright during his build up to this race with a 17:06, which is funny now after looking up a comment he made to me awhile back where he said he hadn't run 5:30 pace since either high school or college. Nice to see some "glory days" for someone in the 30+ crowd.

As for my race, the results are posted, and I stand in awe of the new course record by Ernest Kimeli, who ran a 24:08 for 8K (4:51 pace), beating local Abdi Abdirahman's old mark. My friend Lucas was a stellar pace-setter for the first 3.5 miles or so, and he really helped me get through the toughest parts of the course. I felt worlds better during this race than I did a few weeks ago for the 8 miler on Labor Day, and whatever tenacity or will I lacked during the last mile at that race magically returned for my last mile yesterday.

I was nervous at the starting line, but once we were on our way I felt very calm and relaxed while blowing through the first mile. I always run this mile too fast, so Lucas and I were intentionally holding back, and I fully expected to hear a 5:30 called out by the timer as we approached the first mile mark. Turns out as we passed we heard a "5:12" and I couldn't help but smile. I knew at this point a good day lay ahead, as this pace usually puts my heart firmly up at the top of my throat and instead I was still calm and relaxed.

I fell in behind super-tall-windbreak Lucas for the next two miles, only edging ahead of him if I felt any slowing, and the next two miles ticked off right on 5:24 pace, which was our goal. Mile 3-4 is the toughest, as it's bookended by two underpasses, which always slow things down. Inbetween these was a long stretch on a slight uphill, where we squinted into the sun and ran into the wind. This is where the race is lost. Lucas started to struggle here, and as he dropped back a bit I took up the pacemaking along with Toby, another local runner who seems to be improving daily. Together we hit the four mile mark and I was dismayed to see that we'd run 5:40. At this point I turned to Toby (who I had urged to run with us during the first mile by announcing our goal) and said we could still break 27 if we stepped on it. I was a little on the edge, but week after week of two mile time trials where I'd gotten used to suffering just to see how quickly I recovered left me ready to suffer to beat the clock. I also had to lose Toby, mostly because I knew he was an old guy like me and beating him could be the difference between a free pair of trainers and a $25 gift certificate I'd never use. I used an old bike racing tactic and decided to make one strong surge out of a sharp turn that left us with about 1200 to go. Sprinting out of a corner works well because it gives the illusion of more space between you and your competitor. Unfortunately it also hurts like hell. A few turns remained through the winding campus of the University, and while my legs were getting wobbly I tried to hold as much as I could of my acceleration. I crossed the line at 26:53 after a last mile of 5:11, and was later glad to hear that Toby had also squeaked under 27.

All in all the race was a nice way to end 8 weeks of Lydiard conditioning, which means today started my three week hill phase. I headed back to good old Sabino Mountain, where I pretty much just went through the motions of my typical hill day. Four times up and down the hill, four time through sets of 3x100 strides, plus a long, slow warm up and a short cool down. 10 miles never took so long.

Training: 10 miles with four hill sets, 1:23:00 or so.


Dusty said...

Great race report & thanks for the comments. I LOVE the fast out of the turn technique... learned that one in running camp and is GREAT, also if you make sure you have good form as you round the corner so you don't look tired since the people behind you are watching you at that moment. :)

Congrats again & I'll have to check out Andrew's blog.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

woo hoo!!!!

what a fun race. congrats on the PR and winning your age group.

and brunch was a blast:)

Wayne said...

Great job and congrats on a new PR. Seems like you'll be ready to run a fast marathon with still 3 months of training left.

Curious to know why you don't do a recovery run after a race.

Blaxabbath said...

That photo makes you look old. I don't remember you looking that old in person.

Dallen said...

Very nice race. Congratulations on the PR.

Mark said...

Way to give credit to Andrew. He ran hard especially after I dogged him from his post Race of Champions Marathon we ran in the Spring.

BTW, Andrew's was the first running blog I ever read!

tb1 said...

Congratulations! I knew you'd PR. Have fun with the hill work.

Zeke said...

Great job, congrats on the PR!

robtherunner said...

Way to go Mike. Glad you got that 8k PR out of the way. I think that means you have all new PR's since switching over to Lydiard and I hope you break them all again in year 2 of Lydiard training.

Marc said...

Mike - well done on a race well run!