Archive for December, 2010

Race: LMJS 10K Dec 2010.

When I was starting out with this running lark, no so long ago, the 10K was my favourite distance. The 5K was pretty darned uncomfortable, and the half marathon might be an interesting thing to try. The full marathon was not even on my radar yet. So I used to run 10Ks fairly regularly at Lake Merritt, and PR’d as often as not.
This Sunday I realized that I had not raced around the lake in quite a while, what with marathon training and other racing. I did not really feel like racing, but showed up and first checked that there were enough volunteers. “Doing fine, thank you”. Oh well, better enter and put on the racing shoes. Off came the sweats. Warm up. The conditions were cool, but just OK for singlets and shorts. The old enthusiasm was coming back.
Since introducing chip timing this year the LMJS has experimented with different starting and finishing arrangements, and the current arrangement has the 5K and 10K starting on different lines as the same time, with the 10K being a few yards further back. This gets the distances exact on the loop course, and everyone crosses the same mat at the finish. The only snag is that the faster 10K runners have to go right through the 5K field, which makes the start somewhat interesting to say the least. Perhaps some further adjustments are in order.

After doing the requisite zigzagging, I attached myself to the tail of a loose lead pack of 5k and 10K runners. Going too fast? Probably. Mile 1 –  6:42 Hold this for the race? I wish! Slow a little. I kept a constant distance to the two guys in front. Mile 2 – 7:11 Oh, too slow. Just then a young woman came past. I accelerated a little and followed her as she passed the guys I had been pacing on. Yes, this is sustainable I think. I wonder which distance she is running? Mile 3 – 7:11 again. Those guys must have been slowing.

I ran the tangents well towards the end of the lap and was briefly in front of my new pace partner. White bib, she’s running the 10K, easily leading the women’s race. I grabbed a cup of water from the table as we finished the lap. There was a handful of guys in the 5K finish chute watching us go by. Hm, that has to be most of the people who were in front of us. It’s going to be a lonely second lap.

And so it was. No one visible in front, I glimpsed someone behind, but next time I checked he was further away. Then he was gone. Zeta, for that was her name, kept a steady pace, and it dawned on me that my division position was now immutable and I might as well try to beat her. I had let her get about 40 yards in front, so proceeded to close that gap. Once I had done so, I had to make a decision. Should I continue the surge and go on past, hoping she does not catch me at the finish? Or should I stay close behind and try to out-kick her? I decided on the latter, which in retrospect was probably an error. Miles 4 and 5 –  6:57, 7:02.

Zeta dealt with me expertly. As we went up a slight incline in the last quarter mile she strengthened her pace a little so I was getting extended just to keep up. My kick was getting burned away. Mile 6 – 7:05. When she kicked I did not have an adequate response, and she beat me over the line by 2 seconds. My chip time was 43:50, which knocked a minute off my 10K PR. Nice, although I probably still have some work to do there. I won the 50-59 age group by a pretty good margin.

Race: California International Marathon 2010

“Go three fifteen! Men’s thirty-five to thirty-nine Boston qualifiers! Yeeahhh!”

This information-laden cry of encouragement was shouted from the side of the road about mile after the start, and prompted a train of thought.

That’s a mouthful. No wonder he’s getting a little hoarse… Yes I’m running with all these younger guys… My BQ time is 3:45, what the **** am I doing here?

What I was doing was taking another crack at sub-3:15. This was the culmination of an 18 week training cycle during which I had felt pretty strong, although the mileage volume was not any larger that I had been doing in previous marathons. Perhaps this was a case of repeating the same actions and hoping for different results, but I was hopeful for a PR, and perhaps sub-3:15 finish. Unlike last year the weather was almost perfect. The threatened rain was holding off, and it was (just) warm enough to wear a singlet. I added some arm-warmers made from long socks with the toes cut off (warmer than expensive ones from running stores) and gloves. The idea was not to try and over-think the pacing over the terrain, but just to run flat splits. And so I decided to run with the 3:15 pace group.

We got across the line a few seconds after the gun or horn or whatever it was, and had to weave past some slowcoaches who had positioned themselves near the front. These folks often seem to have buddies with them, and run two or three abreast. Oh well. I connected with the 3:15 pacer who at this point was only a few yards behind the 3:10 guy. The combined group made for quite a crowd, so I held back a little and got some elbow room. The first mile was mostly downhill.

OK. This feels fine. Not super-easy but OK. It’ll be easier when I’m warmed up.

The 3:10 pacer seemed to be taking it easy for the first couple of miles. This is a reasonable approach, but seemed to be cramping 3:15’s style a bit. We stayed right on their tail until the mile 2 marker when they abruptly accelerated. Our average pace should be 7:26. First two miles 7:38, 7:36.

We were now clawing back that time and more: 7:08, 7:03, 7:09. This was not comfortable. After an aid station I found myself next to the leader. “Um, we did a fast couple of miles there.” “Yes, sorry about that. I get a little carried away on the downhills. I’ll pay it back.”

So much for flat pacing. Running three consecutive miles at close to my half-marathon pace may just have dropped my 3:15 goal into the Cuisinart, and we haven’t even reached 10K yet!

I was carrying a small disposable water bottle which was a boon at the early aid stations. I simply ran down the middle while everyone else ducked in and slowed for their cups. It lasted until the first relay handover at mile 6. I would usually come out in front of the group and let the leader gradually come by me. The arm-warmers? A spectator ducked as they flew past his head. I was getting over-warm, if anything. The pace settled down: 7:22, 7:19, 7:25, 7:25. I thanked the leader for these last two, and we promptly ran a 7:19 before dialing it back: 7:26, 7:34, 7:25.

The big experiment of the day were the road flats on my feet. Brooks T6 Racers are only recommended for up to half-marathon distance, but I find running in them so pleasurable that I took the chance. Apart from being lightweight they give tactile feedback of how my feet are landing which helps me to run efficiently. That’s the theory, anyway.

I reached the half in 1:36:41, about 49 seconds ahead of flat pace, so things were not looking too bad in aggregate, The goal was now simple: Stay with the group as long as I could, and to the end if possible. My legs and feet felt fine for now.

A fellow Brooks-ID member in the group, Tony, asked me how I was feeling. “OK, not terrific. You?” “Not too good”. He did seem to be working hard, and I wondered how long he would stay with the now-shrinking pace group. I suppose the faster Boston Qualifying pace groups attract more than their fair share of optimists. Miles 14 through 20: 7:29, 7:23, 7:19, 7:32, 7:21, 7:34. I fell a little behind the group in mile 18, but reeled them back in during the next mile. Tony was gone and we were now down to a half-dozen or so. Next two miles: 7:32, 7:33. He was paying back some time, but this provided little relief. At around mile 22 I fell behind again, my fade was starting in earnest.  The group was now small enough that they were weaving through the slower runners as a unit There were plenty of slower runners to pass. mostly young guys. I kept my attention on the group and tried to ignore the other runners, in order to keep my own speed up. 7:43, 7:50 – losing sight of them now. This really hurts. I’ll give up marathoning, or at least give it a rest for a while (I always say that) – 7:58, 8:03. Ah, the blessed 26 mile marker and turn to the finish. I managed a slight kick, covering the last .2 at 7:39 pace.  Chip time 3:16:35

50 yards to go

50 yards to go

So I missed my 3:15 goal, but I’m not upset about it. Most of the shortfall was due to the pacing which was less than ideal for me.  I’ll run solo in future, and I need to work on that fade. I’ll up the miles in the next training cycle. The shoes? The firmness was not too welcome in the final miles, so I’d say that the advantage of light shoes is diminished at the marathon distance. My calves are still sore days later, which might well be the shoes. I’ll try going up a notch, to the Brooks Green Silence next time.

Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)


December 2010
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