Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fall Racing Season

It is November and the fall racing season is here! I dropped a fat wad of cash this week signing up for the Charlottesville Men's 4 Miler, the Kelly Watt Memorial 2 mile, and the YMCA Turkey Trot 5K. I've taken a big break from racing since July 4 to focus on being a husband, father, and employed contributing member of society. But I love racing, so I had to lace 'em up.

Leading up to the 4 miler, there had been much discussion about the race with my new regular training partners, Matt and Alec. Our 5:15 AM runs 4-5 days a week cover an average of 8 miles. We've tried to throw in some long runs and workouts when we can, but the mileage (and the level of seriousness) has been low. In the last two weeks of October, I only ran 6 times and less than 40 miles. I actually thought I might have a stress fracture last week, but the x-rays came back looking good. (How you get a stress fracture off of low mileage is beyond me, but I avoided it.) I'm just doing what I can right now, and I'm rather indifferent. I know that I'll get back to it, but right now I'm just happy living the life that I have.

So naturally a lack of training correlates to a lack of confidence. I did not think that I would run very well in the 4 miler. We were doing workouts and I was struggling to run close to marathon pace. I figured I would go out very slowly and hope to finish well. We formed two RMR teams this year, so I made it a goal to finish in the top-10, but also hoping not to lose to anyone who wasn't an RMR member. I forgot to mention that this race was today! Yes, the fall racing season officially started this morning and runs for the next 19 days. RMR+ had a big group of people out to warm up together on a perfect morning in the mid-40's. I was tired and my back was sore as it usually is before races now, but I did a lot of extra stretches to loosen it up. We all got to the line and heard some pre-race instructions and the national anthem and were off.

Charlie, who ran a huge PR in the half marathon YESTERDAY in Indianapolis (67:03) sprinted off the line ahead of Sean and Brandon, who had already done a 6 mile tempo run as their warm up in preparation for their Richmond Half in six days. Charlie's bold move got everyone going, and I went through the classic CTC 200 (37), 400 (75), and 800 (2:38) meter splits way too fast. My goal of finishing in the top-10 looked like it was going to be out of reach already though, as I was running just near 10th and could already sense my impending doom. There weren't a lot of changes in that first mile after the first 400 meters, expect that I passed Steve Rosinski (local triathlete star who I finally met last week) and got passed by Bob Thiele, who was matching with me wearing the black RMR singlet. My first mile was 5:15 and I worried that I was going to die. I told myself to relax and just stick with it and we headed down Rugby Road. I could see that Charlie wasn't in the front anymore, and we were a long string of people running largely single file down the road. KC and Henry were close to the 1.5 mile mark across Beta Bridge and I loved seeing them there, smiling and cheering and clapping. I gave him a little wave so he'd know that I saw him. 

Taking the right hand turn uphill onto Grady, I started to gain a little bit on Bob, who in turn was gaining on Dan (also in RMR black), but Steve was right on my heals. I clipped Bob a little bit on accident coming around the next turn off of Grady, and over the hills the four of us grouped up just in
time to get back onto Rugby at 2 miles (another 5:15) and break back up again. Steve powered up the hill and I thought I could bide my time because I was very tired, but cresting it he pulled away even further as we gapped Dan and Bob. I started to realize that I was only half way there and the suffering started. I kind of lost it a little bit mentally heading back downhill on Rugby Road and started thinking about how I needed to relax. Steve became a distant target but I noticed that the other two guys in front of me not wearing RMR were starting to come back so I was hopeful. Crossing University Avenue and passing the Chapel, I was reminded of Bob's presence by Dana's cheering (but it didn't prevent her from taking this nice photo on the right!). I tried to regroup going down the hill towards the bridge approaching mile 3, but a 5:27 split crushed me mentally. I tried doing the math but was too tired to realize that I was still OK... Steve was close enough in front of me that I could hear his three mile split and heard mine somewhere under 16:00, but I had no idea that I was about to go through 5K in 16:30! I recognize that this is terribly, terribly slow, but I didn't realize that I could run that fast right now!

The excitement of the 5K split was short-lived as Bob Thiele went by me. I was mentally defeated. I watched him run away from me as we came back up McCormack towards O-Hill and I just thought about how much farther we had to go. It seemed like an eternity. He rounded the corner way ahead of me and I just tried to take the tangents and get there as quickly as possible. After all, the team competition was based on times, not places, so I still needed to cross the line as fast as possible. I know I was ready to quit because I took a quick peak over my shoulder as I turned left onto Alderman. I was looking for Alec. I didn't see him, but instead saw someone in an old orange Nike singlet way behind. Somehow, knowing that I wasn't about to get passed made me feel better about being so far behind Bob and I was able to pick it up. I took the left at the AFC down towards the back of the stadium and found myself moving closer to him. At the turn onto Stadium Road, he still had a big gap but I really leaned into it on the downhill and by the time we were entering the parking garage, the gap was much smaller. I knew we didn't have much left so I just went for it right there as we entered the straightway to the tunnel and I felt like I flew by him. I knew I needed to get past him before entering the field because I had no clue how close, or far away, the finish was going to be. So I surged by him and hung on for dear life, running all the way through the line as hard as I could go. I hit the tape in 21:14, running a 5:16 for my 4th mile. (I probably was on pace to run a 5:25 or something like that until the last 300 meters and made it all up right there...)

I was spent. I turned around to congratulate Bob and stumbled through the chute. Many of my teammates were waiting around at the bottom of the stadium steps to congratulate everyone, but I had to get out of there immediately in case I threw up. I'd rather it be in the parking lot than in the stadium where some volunteer would have to clean it up. Luckily that wasn't an issue. KC and Henry arrived in the parking lot just in time to see me before the cool down. The team regrouped and I went for 4 more miles with Matt Barresi, after which I was so drained that I ate about 5 whole oranges.

I ended up getting 9th place (Results), which was good for 3rd in my age group behind Matt and Steve. Alec finished right behind me, and Matt Thomas had a great race too. It was the fastest I've run in the 4 miler by a few seconds, which was surprising because I remember being very pleased with my performance in 2013. I was happy with what I did today even before finding that out. Team Mark (me, Alec, Matt, Sean) lost by 9 seconds to Team Harry (Brandon, Charlie, Thomas, Lee, Dan), but each team was awarded a $100 gift certificate to the Devil's Backbone Brewery. I'm sure we'll manage to spend over $200 with that group. RMR ended up with 11 finishers in the top-19.

Matt (4), me (9), Dan (19), Charlie (3), Lee (17),
Thomas (5), Alec (11), Sean (1) & Brandon (2).
MIA: Bob (10) & Dave (14)

Aside from having a good race today, it's made me much more excited about Kelly Watt and the Turkey Trot. I'm going to continue to talk a lot of trash to the boys cross country team at Monticello in hopes that they'll come out to Kelly Watt and race me, and maybe I won't embarrass myself in front of the home crowd on Thanksgiving like I'd been fearing earlier this morning. Regardless, I just had so much fun today. Racing is so much fun, I love it!

1 comment:

  1. Good race and effort. The Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k should be really competitive.


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