Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shamrock 4 Miler...But Wait, There's More!

AM: 2 mile w/u
Target: 5 mile predator @5:50-5:45
Actual: 4 mile race @22:52 (5:43 pace); ~5 mins. rest; 1 mile @5:41
~2.5 mile c/d
Total: 9.5 miles

PM: 2 mile w/u
Target: 800m race @don't drop out

Actual: 2:28 (in trainers sucka)
1 mile c/d
Total: 3.5 miles

Start line of the Shamrock 4 Miler. Photo courtesy of Ben Hovis and FB.

More later. I just got home and I need a shower, a snack and a glass of wine. In no particular order.

Update: Okay, it is now Sunday evening and I have a bit more time to update this entry. First, let me say how much I enjoyed the Shamrock 4 Miler this morning. I haven't done a road race in a very long time, and I'd almost forgotten how much I appreciate the atmosphere of an early Saturday morning spent with a few thousand fellow runners.

From the start, my plan was to run this at tempo effort, then to add on another hard mile at the end so I could approximate the five-mile effort that Simmons desired. I'd spoken to Caitlin Chrisman the night before and she said she was hoping to run between 5:55 and 5:45, so I figured I'd tag along at the same pace. Paul Mainwaring was also looking for a tempo-ish effort and agreed to be our escort/bodyguard, so it appeared a though a good group was shaping up. I learned from Paul and from our pre-race warmup that this course wa
s ill-suited for a predator run, as the first two miles were gently rolling downhill followed by two reciprocal miles of gently rolling uphill. Oh well. On the flip side, it was a gorgeous day for a run: sunny, cool but not cold, and absent any traces of wind. As we toed the line, I felt excited to spend the next several minutes enjoying a hard run.

From the start, I could tell that the pace was quick. I wasn't laboring but definitely wasn't comfortable, yet the noticeable downhill of the first mile prevented us from reining in the pace. Caitlin, Paul and I passed the first mile marker in 5:41, then continued to press the pace. Just after the 180-degree turnaround we hit the second mile marker in 5:35. At that point I knew I was in trouble, in the sense that I wouldn't be able to continue cutting down the pace for the remainder of the run. We were returning uphill and I didn't want to feel the effort crossing the threshold from tempo to full-on race mode. Caitlin was running strong and she and Paul began to pull away from me slightly, and I made the conscious decision to keep my effort where it was instead of pressing. The third mile was my slowest--I think my watch read 5:49--and this was also the section that felt the hard
est. It was also when I was blown away by the number of people cheering for Caitlin and me from the opposite side of the road. (Since we were re-tracing our steps at this point, that meant the majority of race participants were still heading down the hill in the opposite direction.) At one point I asked Caitlin aloud if she personally knew all of these people, as I lost track of the number of "Good job, ladies!" and "Way to go, girls!" that were shouted in our direction. Their support provided a much-needed boost during the toughest portion of the race.

The final mile was neither easier or harder than the third; we were still running uphill, though not quite to the same degree as the third mile. Caitlin and Paul were still just ahead of me at this point and running as strong as ever, and it became clear that I would have to throw in a serious surge if I wanted to catch her. Instead, I kept the effort where it was, crossing the line before 23 minutes and notching a huge 4-mile PR (although, let's be honest, I didn't really have much else to compare it to). I took a few minutes to stretch, drink some water, congratulate Caitlin, chat with Jordan and Dr. Duffy, and catch my breath before embarking
on another hard mile. After that I barely had enough to cool down and enjoy a slice of the coveted Great Harvest bread before I had to head home and get ready for the track meet.

Doing work (sort of) at UNCC

Flash forward to three hours later. This entry is already long enough, so I'll spare you the sordid details of my parched and sun-chapped afternoon at the UNCC track. I will say that I broke 2:30 in the 800 in trainers, which I consider more impressive than both my recent All-American placing and my four-mile effort this morning. This says less about those efforts and more about my complete lack of speed. But seeing as my goal was to not drop out (I like to shoot for the stars), I'd call this a rousing success. In fact, let's call the entire day a rousing success. I ran five miles just slightly over the pace I need to run for the 10k next weekend, and the best part is that there are no hills on the Stanford track (unless they've been added since I was there last year). I'm confident that unless something goes horribly wrong, I can hit the auto time next weekend. Today was also the first time I saw a glimpse of what the racing scene might be like once I graduate from Queens this summer, and it looks pretty darn good. Great people, positive attitudes, competitive performances, and did I mention Great Harvest? Nice work, Charlotte. Nice work.