Friday, January 25, 2008

Just Race

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


Chris Field said...

Good race Mike. It has to be good to know that more even pacing would probably have lead to a new PR. This racing season should bring good gains for you. I'm interested in watching your training over the next few months to get some ideas on what I should do following my marathon in three weeks.

Congrats again on a nice race.

Gregg said...

Nice Job Mike... it sure makes me envious to see all of you guys in singlets and shorts in Jan. You won't see me dressed like that until mid March at our grand prix opener.

Grellan said...

Great race report Mike. Sounds like you had more fun not looking at the pace and just following your central govenor.

Mark said...

Love the photo, quite envious of the "warmth" as I just came in from shovelling more snow.

Nice race and report, it's going to be a good year for you.

Dusty said...

GREAT race report, sounds like a fun time! I felt like I was running right along with you (of course, not as tired tho)

I agree with Gregg - I enjoyed my race in AZ wearing a singlet, next weekend I'll probably race in a fur parka! haha!

running faster with the ALIEN LIZARD said...


Marc said...

A very nice race and a great approach freeing yourself from the watch.

Thomas said...

You do remember that this was two weeks after your 3rd marathon in a row, don't you? Keeping that in mind I'd say you had a great race.

by7 said...

Good race. Congratulations. It is good sometimes to try to push beyond our "standards".
The PB will come for sure once you recover fully from the marathon

Love2Run said...

Nice race report Mike and a great race without watching the watch. I've always wanted to leave the watch home but have never been that brave.

Michael said...

Congratulations on a great race Mike! Much like gregg said, very envious of the singlets and shorts (it snowed 2" yesterday).

Ewen said...

That's a great photo. The little girl in the blue top is keen, lining up on the front row!

Just racing sounds like fun. Good report Mike - you did well.

Greg said...

Not sure the if the runners ahead of you were in a similar situation, having run a marathon only 3 weeks ago, but being within 40 seconds of the win on less than 100% recovered legs bodes well for your chances in the series this year.

Nice job Mike.

Mike said...

Ewen, I think there's always one little person on the front line. As long as I'm not tripping over them I think it's fun to see.

I know showing a bunch of runners in singlets and shorts in January is a bit cruel, but if it makes you feel any better it rained the rest of the afternoon after the race.

Greg, three weeks would have been even better for me, I was stuck doing this after only two. Still, it was fun and the fact that my motivation was there seems to be a good sign.

Thanks for all the comments. Geez, no admonishments for going out too fast? I don't attack every critique now, do I?

Eric said...

Not all of them, but enough to chill dissent. And you did go out too fast. =)

Nice race, Mike. Should be a good spring. Cheers.