Thursday, August 1, 2013

Beverly Yankee Homecoming 5k Race Recap

AM: 4 mile shuffle
Lunch: 10 minute shuffle
PM: 1.5 mile w/u
Target: Win, 17:30ish?
Actual: 2nd place, 17:24
Results; Salem News article
1.5 mile c/d
Daily total: 11 miles

Last year at this race, I totally surprised myself by emerging from the depths of high-mileage summer training and finishing in a course record time of 17:06. This time around I knew there would be no similar outcome, with my woeful lack of fitness being the lesser of my worries. On Wednesday morning I'd been pleasantly surprised by how decent my legs felt after the 10-miler the night before. Maybe this whole two-races-in-48-hours thing wouldn't be so bad after all! But that optimism came crashing down on Thursday, when DOMS set in full force on my morning run. Actually, "run" is too strong a word for what I was doing out there. I felt horrible. So bad, in fact, that I went out again at lunch for another 10-minute shuffle with the desperate hope of shaking out a few more meager drops of lactic acid from my lifeless legs. It was entirely possible that I wouldn't be able to break 18 minutes, much less defend my title, at this rate. I was fervently hoping no one else would show up.

Race time came quickly, as Jordan and I spent the better part of the afternoon preparing for the event (which we sponsor this year) and setting up the Karhu Airstream trailer near the finish line. The race would double as a company BBQ, with many of our coworkers and their families participating and spectating before sitting down to a picnic table dinner. As silly as it sounds to say I wanted to win the race because it was the company cookout, well, I wanted to win the race because it was the company cookout. My hopes were still delicately intact until I spotted Larissa Park on my warmup jog. I don't know her--she lives in Somerville and doesn't run with the BAA--but I was well aware of her speedy reputation and saw her break 35 minutes for 10k at one of the New Balance Twilight meets a few months back. Technically speaking, I was screwed. As we trotted toward the start, I sidled over to Jordan and asked what I should do. His advice: "Let her take it out hard if she wants but stay close behind, run relaxed up the hill in mile two, then close the gap in mile three." So simple! It had to work!

Believe it or not, I followed his directions to the letter. I followed her out comfortably hard, trying not to panic when she opened an immediate gap or when I split the mile in 5:26 (my first "fast" mile in...months?). I was easily 20 meters back but felt totally in control, seemingly gaining a few steps on her during the rolling second mile. I knew I could make up more ground during the third mile, but would it be enough? "It doesn't matter whether you can actually beat her," said a Yoda-like voice in my head out of nowhere. "It only matters that you believe you can."  So I continued to believe my little heart out, willing my wearied legs to follow suit. It was a valiant effort, but it wasn't enough, and in the end she bested me by a full 10 seconds. I finished nearly 20 seconds slower than last year, firmly in second place, but given how depleted I felt this morning it was probably as good as I could've hoped for. And my lackluster performance aside, it was well worthwhile to see so many of our coworkers and their family members competing--a few finishing their first ever 5k!--and hanging out to enjoy a beautiful night by the ocean. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, I'd call my second race in 48 hours a resounding success.