Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Age Group

Yesterday was Memorial Day and I ran in the YMCA Civitans 10K for the first time since 2010.  I decided that I needed to run a race sometime before July 4th, and my last race was the Blue & Gray Half-Marathon. Charlie was thinking about racing this weekend too, so we both signed up. I essentially tapered for this race because of life, running very little on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday of last week.  Friday I did a pre-race workout with Charlie that went a little bit too fast for me, and may have been the root of my race problems (see below).

I was feeling pretty conservative about the race, nonetheless. I just wanted a rust buster. The 10k isn't really my thing, and the workouts we've been doing haven't really been giving me any sense of what kind of shape I'm in, so I thought if I tried to run around 17 minutes for the first 5k and then come back faster, I'd be happy to run under 34 minutes. Very conservative. I knew Charlie would plan to run a lot faster than that, and that he'd likely be out on his own doing so, so I resigned to running for 2nd alone. Kind of like running with Tim in the race...

The weather was perfect. There have been plenty of Memorial Days with high temperatures and thick humidity, so we were very lucky. There was no breeze. I was cold warming up. It was good to see some friends. I had a student come up to before the race, and that was great.

There was a 5k and a 10k going on, with the 5k starting behind the 10k. I thought they might move up on us at the beginning, but it never really happened. The gun went off and Charlie and I got out to the front. I had to tell myself to let him go, sort of like we do in workouts, and then just tried to settle in. Gene took a video of the start, which you can watch here.

I got to the first mile in 5:29. I was happy with that, but it felt a lot harder than I would have liked. Charlie was way ahead already. The second mile was a little less comfortable. Again I wondered if any 5k runners were going to come up on me before the turn, but no. Nate Lasker was leading that race, and was likely way ahead of the next 10k runner, but no where close to us. I could still see Charlie the whole time as I got to the 2 mile mark on the Canal path with 5:32. Still surprised, because it didn't feel very easy. I could tell that I hadn't raced in a while, as I had a little tightness in my lower back. I haven't felt that in a while.

I got off the Canal path and onto Little Page and tried to relax again. I could see Charlie in the distance, and he didn't look as smooth as usual. I thought to myself, "Maybe he's having a bad day and I'll close this gap some. Stick with it, you're doing fine." Gene ran up to the corner of the street after Charlie went by and took some pictures. He missed Charlie and I figured he'd probably miss both of us at the finish.

I got to the third mile in 5:25. Right on. I don't know where the 5k mark was, but I was running just under 5:30 pace so I was feeling good. I got onto Kenmore and the Canal Path feeling really good. I called out for water when I passed the stop on the Canal and started working my way through the oncoming traffic. Just after the Rt. 1underpass, I passed the 4th mile in 5:16. Alright!

Then I got onto the bridge into Normandy Village. It was pretty slippery and I almost fell. I felt a little pull in my right hamstring. Back into the Village, I was still doing alright, feeling good. Crossing Fall Hill Avenue, there was a little bit of downhill. I felt another pull. Getting closer to KFC, there was a bigger downhill and a big pull in my right hamstring. Opening up my stride was really painful. My lower back started to hurt a lot too. I slowed down, and felt like I was walking down the hill under the Rt. 1 bridge on River Road/Caroline Street. Mile 5 was 5:37. Not only was I hurting, but that number didn't do much good for my mental state. The total time was in the mid-27s and I thought, geez I have to get a lot faster by July 4th. I could still see Charlie (mostly the lead bike wearing a bright yellow jacket in front of him), but he was just getting farther and farther ahead, and my pain was getting worse and worse. I resigned to settle in for the next mile. It's not worth it.

As I passed 5k runners & walkers, I did start to wonder what was going on behind me. I never looked though. I tried to stay smooth and in control, reducing any extraneous motion. The pain was in my butt too, right where the hamstring meets the muscle I guess. Rounding the corner by my dream home on Pitt Street, the road to the finish looked as long as ever. I saw my 6th mile split, 5:41, and thought I'd be ok. Then out of habit, I looked at the total time when I got to the 3 mile mark for the turkey trot 5k. 33:27. I'd never make it under 34 minutes, and it didn't matter. I didn't want to get out-kicked at the end though, so I tried to pull in smoothly. 34:09, without hobbling into the shoot. The next runner was almost 3 minutes back. Charlie had finished in 32:53.

I got through the finish, talked to some friends and family, and then went out to get cooled down. The two mile cool down was like a death march, because I was so tight. I was running well over 8-minute pace and might as well have been walking. The pain was pretty bad. Now, on Friday during the part of our pre-race workout, I did feel a little pull in my right hamstring. I didn't pay any attention to it though, and spent the whole day Friday on my feet volunteering at the Northwest Regional Track meet at UVA. I should have done something though, because that was definitely when this started.

At the post-race celebration, I sat on the ground with my stick, trying to work things out. I saw a cackle of women mocking me as I tried to get into that challenging area right underneath the butt check. Charlie, Pat, Jack, KC, Scott and I stood around eating junk food and drinking beer while they called out the awards. I shouldn't say "called out," I should say "spoke quietly into a muted megaphone," because that is what happened. I didn't hear them call my name, and a bunch of people around me but closer to the front told me it was my turn to go up and get my prize; 1st place, Men 30-34 years old. My first age group prize out of my 20s. I didn't realize (because I didn't read it) that the race was only going one-deep overall (but it was on the form.) So today was the day I earned that new age group. Thank goodness Charlie won, or else we would have been in the same age group now that he's 30 too.

Charlie's race went fairly well for a time-trail alone on streets he's unfamiliar with.  The last race of his spring racing cycle ended with a win. His splits were pretty even, 5:17, 5:19, 5:16, 5:11, 5:28, 5:15, 65. He asked me if I thought the miles were marked correctly, and I do think so. They've been pretty consistent over the years. While his 5th mile was a lot slower than the rest and so was mine, I know that mine was from slowing down a whole lot. And that 5 has been written on the pavement for a long time anyway.

So I haven't run yet today. The team had a workout on Ridge Road which I wasn't going to participate in, but I decided this morning upon waking up in pain that I shouldn't go run on those rolling hills anyway. I'm getting a massage in the afternoon to try to work this problem out, and then I'll go run somewhere flat, probably Riverview. I'll take it easier this week to get through this. Probably no workout Friday. I'll still run long this weekend with Graham though.

Wrapping up the race, I know that my fitness is getting there. A few weeks ago Lee and I did a tempo run that was no where near as successful as the first 4 miles of that race. Heck, even the last two miles of the race were probably more successful than the tempo run. So I'm in better shape than I was a month ago (duh), but I've still got a ways to go before I climb back into that ship to go whale hunting on July 4th. I might run the Charlottesville Men's 4-miler in a few weeks to get another one under my belt, but we'll see.

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Race Photos