Friday, June 08, 2018

training update and 5k track racing

  Now the that Grand Prix is over the next phase is to get back to training for marathons or at least that's the plan. But before that starts I had something else I wanted to do. Two summers ago when I was focused on trying to get my mile time down to what I ran in 1999 I had wanted to use that speed and try to run a fast time in a track 5k. There just aren;t that many opportunities to do that other than the Wednesday night Godiva track meets and the schedule of nights that had that distance just never worked out for me.

  So, I was happy to see that the first week of the Summer of Miles Podcast pop up mile series which is put on by the Sir Walter Miler folks would have a 5k as the bonus event. Speed wise I'm not close to what I was two years ago and really haven't done the speedwork at the paces that I need to do for my goal but I figured it would still be fun and I could try and give it my best shot.

  I haven't run a sub 22 5k in 5 years when I did it 3 times in a row in summer of 2013. I seriously doubted that I would be able to this night but  all I could do was go for it and see what would happen. Sometimes miracles do occur.

 The meet was held at the beautiful Cary Academy Campus and I arrived in plenty of time for socializing and a proper warmup. There would be 90 plus runners for all the events combined and a lot of family and friends spectating and it was great to see so many that I knew along with a few former co-workers from the running store days. We were lucky with the weather as there was lower humidity than normal and by the time the 5k started , half the track was in the shade. I didn't feel too spiffy in my warm up but with 5 minutes to go as I was doing the usual 4 x 10 second strides, on the last two I felt a little zip in the legs. Maybe this was going to be ok.

 I guess there were 20-25 runners in the 5k and I tucked in behind the faster younger runners. As far as I know there was only one other senior in the race and from the word go he was on my heels. My goal pace was about 1:46 per quarter mile and I nailed the first one but by the half I had dropped off that pace to 1:50 and thats about what I would run for the remainder of the race.

 The coolest thing was having so many people call me out by name and cheer for me each lap as I came around to the front stretch. George, the other senior was right there for the first mile which I passed in about 7:15 but he was slowly falling behind now and by half way I couldn't hear him anymore.  I was feeling good and locked into the pace now and slowed down a bit in mile 2 to about a 7:25, or 14:40 for 2 miles.

 Now it was just dig deep and try to pick it up a bit the last mile. Of course it was getting harder to hold pace but I pushed on knowing I could endure the pain a bit longer. With half mile to go I was making the death noises. I ran the last 800 meters in 3:34 and finished strong in 22:39 which tied my fastest 5k since 2013. I ran that exact same time at the Foot Locker XC Regional year before last.

on lap two I think with George right there

in the first mile with George Howe on my heels

representing Raleigh Yoga Company !

woohoo, airborne

yes I was being lapped here

half mile to go
was a fun night of racing and spectating and I appreciate all of the people from Sir Walter Miler for putting this series on for the local running community. And thanks to Jason Honeycutt for taking over 500 photographs and posting them publicly for us to share. I think there was at least 15 or more with me in them but I chose these because they make me look halfway decent !

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Cotton Row Run 10K 2018

  I have been following this race since the beginning of this 39th annual event in Huntsville Alabama and always hoped to run it some day ,but I was always finding it hard to spend the money to travel for just a 10k. But with my focus on shorter distances in the past couple of years and with it being the final race of the Running Journal Grand Prix, it was time to go for it. The race is one of the Premier 10k races in the country, not just the Southeast and has seen many world class competitors over it's history.  I had found while running the Rocket City Marathon that the great reputation of the Huntsville Track Club and community was well deserved and this race was proved to be  a great one.

 Being on Memorial Day you can always expect warm and muggy conditions and this year was no exception with tropical moisture hovering over the State. 70F and 100% humidity guaranteed it would be a sweatfest but how well would I be able to handle the conditions?
 I did my usual warm up routine of a one mile easy run followed by 4 strides finishing up about 10 minutes before the start. I tried to get pretty close but then waited for the ceremony honoring the fallen heroes on this Memorial Day. I have to say its the first race I began with tears welling up inside after the invocation, 3 gun salute and the playing of taps. But finally it was time to go !

  Despite starting near the front I still was being held up by some really slow people that always want to jam things up so I just patiently waited for ways to make my way around as things begin to spread out. By 1/4 mile it was not bad and I knew I could make up the time later, probably only losing 10 to 15 seconds. My  fantasy goal pace was 7:30 but realistically 7:45 so when I passed mile one in 7:35 I was satisfied and feeling pretty good.

  Mile 2 had no major hills but mostly a slight incline and I felt my cadence and stride were ok so I was a bit disappointed with  it taking 7:56. So much for fantasy goal but at least I was still feeling good. I knew what was coming soon so I was trying to go as hard as I could on the next mile without going into oxygen debt.  Mile 3 continued with the mostly up but did have a little bit of downhill to help with that until we came to the turn onto Mountainwood Dr, aka Mt. Wood, the infamous hill I was warned about.

 Wow ! Talk about steep ! I thought the hill in Riverside Park at the VA 10 Miler was tough but this is much harder. For my friends familiar with North Turkey Creek in Umstead, yes it is even worse than the worst on that trail ! Immediately after making the turn the road rose sharply with the 3 mile mark maybe another 50 yards ahead. I passed that mark in 8:16 for a 3 mile split of 23:48 and then began walking with hands on thighs for support up this monster ! At this point I'm running in the top 300 of 1,800 and already practically everyone is having to walk !

 Disappointing that I had to walk but I was moving about as fast as the ones trying to run in most cases and when the grade finally eased off to just a normal bad hill I started back running. We made a turn and had a slight downhill before continuing to climb to the high point of the course at around 3.6 miles.

 I knew I had about 1.5 miles of sweet downhill ahead and after a minute I was recovered and began to push the pace. Even with the bit of downhill mile 4 was 8:52 thanks to that soul crusher of a climb but I was up to speed now, feeling ok and passing a lot of runners. I passed mile 5 in 7:32, not bad but with the huge gravity assist I was hoping for better. The goals were not going to be achieved and now I was just hoping to break 50 minutes and maybe, just maybe make the podium.

 The  last mile was mostly an ever so slight decline with a couple of small hills, the last one  at about 5.8 mile mark just before the final turn onto the finishing stretch. I was giving it all I had but had still slowed to a 7:52 and even with a kick which I didn't have in me, sub 50 was gone.   I pushed on until I made it across the line in 50:08. A volunteer handed me a water bottle which slipped out of my hand and I just bent over looking at it when a medical person walked over and asked me if I was alright . I assured her I was but I was too sweaty to hold onto the bottle ! She picked it up and opened it for me.

 Now I had to wait for the results to see how the competition had fared.  After doing a cool down mile the results were posted and I had finished 4th out of 66 in my age group of 60-64 year olds. On top of that, three others in the 65-69 group had put in great performances dropping me to 7th in the Senior Grandmasters division so I made 20 points in the series.

 Although I didn't make any of my time goals or make the podium I am satisfied that I gave it everything I had out there on the course. I was making the death noises for pretty much the whole 2nd half of the race as I pushed myself to the max. As for the placement, I salute those hard working fellow seniors that had to run in the same miserable conditions as I did and earned those podium spots. Over an hour after the race I still had sweat dripping off my shorts !

 This concludes my 9 month long journey  through the Grand Prix Series. I'll be doing a wrap up soon so stay tuned.