I never ran Club Challenge when I was 13. I did want to participate as a Steeplechaser, but I think a combination of the distance and the time of year meant I never was able to run. My first experience was last year running for Team TWSS, aka Falls Road Racing. While my 1:12 finish was probably about what I should have expected to run, I have it down as an off race, along with MCVET 10K, a couple of those random 5Ks, and, of course, Grandma's. I had visions of drastic improvement as I worked through 2012, upping my miles and hitting the track as many weeks that was humanly possible.
As 2012 turned to lucky 2013 I saw the signs that Club Challenge was going to be a bit of a breakthrough. Track workouts were fast and furious. I did the club challenge course workout with the team and was almost hanging with our fastest ladies (last year I was bringing up the rear). I decided to mini-taper and take it easy with house stuff the day before so I was not sore and primed for my best performance.
For the race last year I went out a tad hard, settled in by 3, and died on the hill at 6. Time was 1:12, with a place over 200. For perspective I ran 1:09 at Cherry Blossom about six weeks later, which is a flatter course, combined with slightly better shape. The field was a little smaller this year (but still really stacked at the front--winner ran 51 on those hills). Mostly missing was some folks from my team that were hurt, or in NOLA (running PRs and finishing in the top 20 of the half with people named Flannigan, Goucher, and Defar). My 1:05 put me in 90th place. I checked and that time would have placed 110 last year.
First miles I tried to not go out to fast (this is me in every race ever) and the downhill helped so I was 6:17, 6:17, and 6:22. I found myself running with teammates who I knew were going to finish faster than me so that helped keep the pace under control. Feeling good, when one surged a bit I went along and wound up a bit ahead for about a mile. She passed me back and kept going, but I could see her and through at least mile 6 which was a good sign.
Next miles were the hilliest part back in the neighborhood, and the pace slowed slightly for that reason. But I was still going quick and feeling good: 6:24, 6:22, 6:36. My time at the halfway was officially 31:43, which was faster than the 5 miler I did back in December a few weeks after my marathon. That hill on six was almost as bad as I remembered, but I pushed the whole way up and then rested a bit on the downhill and got out of the neighborhood portion in one piece.
The course does still climb from there, and consequently the pace dipped further--6:33, 6:48, 6:40. 6:48 meant I lost the chance at sub 65 in that mile 8. I was doing the math in my head in case I could only manage 7 minute miles and if that put my under 66 (which was my goal at the start).
But the lure of the finish was strong and I came back a bit and ran 6:30 for the final mile (plus those extra 5 seconds for imperfect tangents, which is expected). A guy kicked and tried to pass me right at the finish but I held on by a few tenths (they didn't do chip time, just gun time). I was not anywhere near scoring for Falls Road, but in the coed scoring they keep everybody in and I displaced 3 ladies from the second place team versus just 2 for us. So I contributed a point for us. It doesn't sound like much, but we only won by 2. Weirdly we lost both men's and women's individual team titles, but the displacers did our job just good enough to pull it out overall.
For the race I was awarded the prestigious Purple Drink Award for the team. I am humbled to be honored in the company of such special athletes. I would like the thank my agent, the academy, my TNT friends, and anyone who actually read all that post...
Monday, February 18, 2013
Found this while going through some old stuff. Only ran about 50 seconds faster in 2012 then when I was 7. I held the record for the oddly small age group until the mid 90's when it was broken.
1985 Market Street Mile. First place 6-7 Age Group, 6:24 (record).