Sunday, October 05, 2008
Run and Roll 8K
Me goofing off with the kids at a friend's birthday party after the race. Photo by Kiera
Ignoring the splits for the 8K this morning probably saved me a heart attack at the first mile marker. I know from past experience and discussions that it's probably a bit short (and definitely a bit downhill), but even so, seeing a 4 on the minute side of the watch would probably be more than I could handle (4:59). At this point I was still comfortable and running by myself, behind two groups of runners. I was probably in 16th place or so, and while I felt good I could tell the legs were just about at the max of what they could do without me bouncing all over the place.
The second mile typically finds the pack easing, which was the case for the second group just ten steps ahead of me. The first group continued to rocket away, I could tell I wouldn't be seeing them again. I was breathing and sweating now, but the legs still had their strength. I could see some heads waggling and shoulders tightening ahead of me, and while I held my distance and tried to settle in a few from the group came back to me. I hit the split at the second mile and imagined 5:20 (it was 5:15) before honing in on the tangent for another sharp left turn. The course snaked through the University's campus, and it was hard to keep the momentum up through all the turns.
Another two runners drifted back during the third mile, and it was taking a lot more effort to hold my ground behind the shattered remains of the group in front of me. For the first time I started searching for the next mile marker, which I didn't even spend the energy to guess on (it was 5:21), and I remember mentally marking the 5K point in an effort to rally for the last 3K. The fourth mile is really the killer on this course, as it features most of the uphill for the race as well as a tough concrete section through an underpass. The group ahead of me had dwindled to three (I think one more came back to me but it's hard to remember), and now one of them was pulling away from the other two. As I focused on them I could see that the two left behind were now pulling away from me. Unfortunately, I was really on the limit here and I just couldn't turn the screw. The legs felt full and the breathing was shallow, and I kept having to focus on driving my legs instead of following their lead (as I had during the first two miles). I sighed with relief when the marker for mile 4 appeared (5:38).
The last mile (well not quite a mile) found me doing what we all do for the last mile. From the cadence in the legs I could tell I was still on a good race, but it was really hurting now. The last half mile winds through a few more tight turns, and unfortunately the crowds on the sidelines started letting me know about someone coming up from behind. With 200 to go I started to feel his presence, so I surged and focused for the hard, right angle turn that appears 100 meters or so before the line. I pulled on the pavement and cut the tangent right along the curb, but as I made my pivot I catch an elbow and get pushed off the turn and into the middle of the road as the guy somehow muscles past me on the inside.
My eyes get big and I just lose it.
I'm digging into the road to pull this guy back in the 100 meters I have left. Arms are akimbo and flailing, and I feel like my torso is a half-step behind my legs. I remember looking at his right ear, wishing him to turn that head and look at me as I'm drawing close to even and giving it absolutely everything. When I get the step I get mean and get another two on him before crossing the line (5:18 for a 26:32).
Before they even tear our bibs at the end of the chute the guy is apologizing to me. I know it's hard to think straight in those circumstances, and I really appreciated him making the gesture. Later I look in the results and see he's 16 years old (yes, less than half my age).
It's a 23 second PR for me, which is especially nice after my recent grumblings about the static state of my list of bests. Knowing I can still get mean was the best part though.