Friday, January 25, 2008
Man, that's some grey hair I've got there (I'm the smiling guy in the middle wearing bib #430)
As we hit the split buttons on our watches at one mile in, my friend Toby turns and says, "That can't be right, can it?" I'm intentionally running this race blind, trying to stay in the thick of it and trying not to get the jitters from whatever pace my pack is running. "I have no idea, so please don't tell me," I say between breaths.
Thanksgiving was my last short race, so I was really ready to get back in the ring and suffer this morning. While a P.R. would be nice, what I really wanted to do was put myself in the mix and see how many people I could beat. That smile on my face was a grin of anticipation, and I wore it pretty much from yesteday afternoon until the gun sounded at 9am.
We shot off the line, and by the time we were 800 meters in my friend Jason had taken a bit of a lead. A small pack materialized behind him, and I found myself in the grey area just behind them and just in front of the next pack. I knew we were running fast (for me at least), but I knew I'd have more to motivate me if I put myself into the first group. With a quick burst I was there, and by the time we hit the one mile mark where Toby and I had our conversation we had already burned a few runners off. I managed to step on two different runners' heels during the first two miles, but thankfully no one pushed me off the road.
I could tell we were slowing during the second mile, as the deck kept shuffling as runners started to make small moves both up and back. I got smart here and resisted the strong urge to push to the head of the pack to keep the pace honest, as I knew from experience that someone would put the clamp down soon enough. As we headed into the third mile a few at the front of the now smaller pack started to stretch their legs, and while I fought to stay on the tail we ended up stringing out into a long line. I was feeling it now, and the springiness I had in my stride early on that allowed me to follow the moves was starting to vanish. I put it into the highest gear I could manage here and just soldiered on, bringing one or two back only to find two others passing me.
During the slightly uphill fourth mile I could see the race taking its toll ahead of me. Heads were bobbing from side to side, and the pack I had struggled to stay with early were just single runners here and there. I passed a few more here and watched a runner in front of me abandon the race. I felt sorry for the guy, as he looked much leaner, younger and faster than me. When you allow yourself to drop out 2/3 through, it just makes it tougher on you to stick it out the next time.
We finally made the right turn onto Broadway and left the uphill behind us, and soon mile marker 5 was in sight. Another split to agonize over later, as I still had absolutely no idea on the time or pace. Just after the marker James comes up and passes, which puts me another place back in our Grand Prix. This stings, as I was just getting excited about making up more ground on Catlow, who promises to be hard to beat in the series. I stay as close as I can to James, but he's accelerating now and gets around Catlow. Now I'm battling it out with a high school runner as we try to keep our heads on straight while chasing Catlow and James ahead of us. When we make the final turn and approach the 6 mile mark, someone calls out 33:35, which wakes me up. I know sub-34 is now pretty much gone, but I grit the teeth and dig in for all I'm worth, finally dropping the high school kid as I do. I can touch Catlow's back as we cross the line, but he's there first.
34:14 for 9th place according to the results, but I think they're a little slow since I was two feet behind 8th place but they gave Catlow 34:11. I thought I had tied my PR, which isn't too bad given the time of the season, but apparently I was 3 seconds slower. I know Mystery Coach was thinking 33:40 or thereabouts, so I'm a bit bummed I couldn't live up to his prediction.
When I look at the splits it seems the first mile did me in, but damn it was fun.
5:13, 5:39, 5:20, 11:19 (2 mi.), 5:32, 1:05
Training: 1/27, 11 miles, w/10K in 34:11, 5:13, 5:39, 5:20, 11:19 (2 mi.), 5:32, 1:05.
1/26, 6 miles, 6 miles, around 7:15 pace
1/25, 6 miles, 51m, 8:35 pace
1/24, 10 miles, 1h12m, 7:07 pace
1/23, 7 miles, 2 miles in 10:28
1/22, 5 miles
1/21, 8 miles
Total: 53 miles