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.

17 comments:

by7 said...

excellent !! it is like a low 33' on 10k and it was not even flat.
your training is right on spot

Ewen said...

Great read Mike. That kid did you a service by unearthing your mean inner self!

Nice improvement, but you can't be as happy as Thomas or you would've updated your PR list already ;)

Mark said...

True Grit. nice read and congrats on your new PR!

RICK'S RUNNING said...

Great race description,yeah them short races sure can be tough!
More MEAN is what we like to see! congrats on a well earned p.b.

Thomas said...

Great start, great finish, and a pretty good effort in the middle. Wow.

I find it hard to believe, though, that you would find yourself only in 16th place or so after a 4:59 first mile! Must have been an awesome field.

brian said...

Congrats Mike! Great race! Just watch out you don't get mean around mile 4 in NYC and take off...

Greg said...

So that's the secret. We just need to piss you off more often. I promise to do my part from the comment section.

Great effort Mike. Is this really your first PR since May, 2007?

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

Wow, I didn't realize you are back blogging again. (Yes, I've been under a rock so to speak).

Great race report! Nothing like teaching the youngster a lesson. The best part is that a 16-year-old actually showed some class at the end. Great job with the PR! You still have it.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

way to go!!! yeah, the burros afterwards were yummy but not the best thing to eat :)

Love2Run said...

That's great! But at least you didn't punch him out on the run and instead showed him your heels. What a huge PR too!

Yvonne said...

I loved reading that report Mike! Amazing job. I only do my best when people annoy the hell out of me in races/training too!
And way to go for us old folks :)

Michael said...

Congratulations on the run Mike, well done. Like others have said, you must be feeling really proud and your training is spot on!

Great race report, I felt I was there and your description brought a smile to my face as I've done the same thing... running too fast for your torso. Keep it up!

Andrew said...

Great race Mike! That first mile sounded mean too.

Dusty said...

AWESOME!! Way to get those juices flowing! GREAT RACE, REPORT & PR!

Go Mike!!

Grellan said...

Very gutsy finish Mike, you're no pushover....and as for the start - a sub 5 minute mile with 15 in front of you, wow!

Ron said...

Wow Mike 4:59 is smokin' man. I just think it's awesome that you're training has been going so well. After that race you have to be feeling good about it too. Nice work on the finish too :)

by7 said...

but who were the first 4 runners ? University stallions??
because running 25' or 26' on 8k is already damned fast, but to go under 24' is really already real Elite level..