If you haven't been following the adventures of The Sean... (insert witty ego reference) I have NOT been training at any measurable degree for about 6 weeks. 5 miles here, 5 days off, 5 beers a night... this sort of thing. So I found myself standing on the starting line up about 3% body fat and probably 15 pounds... so results were expected to be somewhat lacking. But I would be racing and with any luck I'd be embarrassed to the point that training would soon follow.
Starting our Engines
I found my customary place at the starting line and then moved back 3 rows so as to avoid any "excitement" to race the first 250 meters. Some sort of signal was given and we all spontaneously began to run in a very organized fashion. I love the start of races.
For one thing, it is full of idealistic hopes and dreams of what is to come. Runners are elbow to elbow, competing for position, jumping over curbs and being sure not to "get boxed in"... ridiculous really. Fast forward 3 minutes and (on road courses) position is sorted out as runners spread out and the road is big enough for everyone. However it is worth noting that for top level racing, and trail running alike, position at the start can put the runner in a deficit he can't cover against otherwise evenly matched competition.
So there we were running the downhill first mile. I was thinking- what can I manage to do for 40 minutes? Am I at the edge now, can I go harder? I figured 6:20 was about right for the day as a conservative estimate, at least on the way out and then hopefully there'd be something in the tank. Mile one 5:48. Crap... but it was downhill and I felt fine- still let's settle down and let the surge go by.
Flowing like Water
And go by they did. One runner, 3 runners, 3 more runners... a string of guys streamed by like I was a rock in a river. One or two eddy'd out in front of me and we worked together on the flat mile #2. I had just slid from 15th to 20th and KNEW that I was going to be within 3 spots of wherever I was at the mile two marker. I might get caught by one or two guys holding back and I might catch a few who had been ambitious... but with my lack of fitness I have basically 3 gears in the arsenal. Warm-up, tempo (aka race) and sprint to the finish.
We had turned and headed for home and we could now see all the field on the way out. While a nice distraction I was doing my best to focus on the running. I kept on at 6:15 and then something like 6:30 for mile 5... with a slight headwind I was still catching people and did end up getting maybe 4 guys on the second half of the run. What helped greatly was the 3 guys who caught me.
We yo-yo'd 3 times before I was able to put them behind me for good and in the process we all passed a few runners. So their presence was a big motivator. As the 5 mile marker came and went I was well within my loose goal of sub-40 for the day but still had a good sized 1/2 mile hill to the finish to attack. As we turned right and the incline kicked up I was able to quickly catch a pair of runners. Another left hand turn brought the final aspect of the hill. Here the road kicked up again to its steepest grade at the finish line.
Going for it!
Ahead I saw a runner's back fading toward me. I was feeling alright and we had about .1 to go. I began to drive uphill and onward and soon caught the guy. He wished me well as I passed with a, "nice run"... which meant either: nice run... or jerk... not sure which unless we know who says it- but he sounded like he meant one of them... and that is all I can ask: mean what you say.
There was one more runner ahead of The Sean and I pushed a little harder but soon I knew I'd have to grab him by the shirt and drag him down to the ground (if I could even catch him) to cross the line ahead of him, so I let that one go. You'll be pleased that I did walk up to him afterward and say, 'nice run... jerk'.
All in all I finished in 38:51 watch time, good for 18/1000. (Full results) I nearly lost my breakfast at the finish line, surprising to me at that moment... so I know I put in a good effort during what I hope to be my slowest race of the year... I gained valuable experience which I can draw on later, and had a great workout.
- Even pacing throughout- good use of effort within fitness available.
- Fought through doubt and raced well- competed well.
- Had a good time, very focused and still relaxed.
- Did not have to trip any kids (always a goal of mine).
* The bus driver was very, shall I say... 'relaxed' on this early Saturday morning.