Monday, March 25, 2013

That Was Unexpected...

Went back home to run Francie's Family 5k over the weekend.  I did this race last year (and then did another race later in the day) because it's back in my hometown and it honors a former teammate from high school who passed tragically.  I think I was eighth in something like 20:50 in 2012, finishing behind a 12 year-old girl.  This year I finished behind no one.  Apparently there was a high school meet that conflicted this year, and the kids that finished at the front last year were not there (I checked and my time would have been 4th last year). 

The course is not particularly flat, with a hill around mile one and a mini Hereford 'dip' right at mile two.  I have less-than-fond memories of doing hill workouts on that spot back in my salad days.  As a result, I think the 18:35 time is in-line with my shamrock time, combined with the fact I ran a brisk paced 8 on Friday night through hillier parts of Baltimore which capped a 65 mile week. 

The race itself was not that interesting.  A few folks went out quick and I was sitting back in 3rd or 4th until the first hill.  I held the 5:50 pace past mile one and that was too much for them.  My pace dropped above 6 minute pace by the end but overall it was enough to finish in front.  My first win since 1996, maybe longer?  On to the next one.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dela-who? Dela-what? Delaware.

Finally did away with my soft half marathon PR up in Wilmington.  With a 1:34 that really was more like a 1:32 (Octoberlauffest half in Pennypack Park in Philadelphia), it was time to keep lucky 2013 rolling up north again.  I consider Wilmington like a cute little Baltimore, with it's waterfront and similar fall line topography.  And i'm quite familiar with the town since I spent a summer post graduation doing field work up there.  Not much of the course was going to be a surprise.  Although that didn't make the hills on the back half any easier. 

The half is an odd distance to me (probably other folks, too?).  I like to say I don't respect it, which is maybe not the best way to put it, but that's never stopped me before.  It requires patience and a strategy which are not parts of my running repertoire. I have done several now, going out at what feels like a comfortable pace and dying way early, somewhere around mile 6.  This time I was determined to not really start racing until around there, possibly even posting a negative split on a course where it would be an impressive feat.

Caesar Rodney is a historic race that draws a quick crowd.  Top 100 looked to be around 1:28 studying the past results.  It's not a mega race with 10,000 plus, and it's not piggybacked on a big marathon.  In short, it's a real race.  Weather is probably an issue from year-to-year, but it was pj weather this year.  The car thermometer said 36 degrees when I arrived, and pretty much 36 degrees when I departed several hours later.  No complaints there, but the wind I could have done without. 

After a brief warm-up, I lined up at the start, where they read proclamations (it was a half-mile marathon!) and sang the anthem (O!).  And we were off.  People went out quick, and I was content to let them go, trying to stick with the plan.  Not in the plan was my failure to start the watch, which threw off all my splits.  But I shouldn't have been that concerned with splits anyway.  I even looked down at least twice in the first half mile, but I was just checking pace and didn't notice all the zeros.  When I finally realized it was maybe 2:30 in the race.  There was a ton of clocks on course, so I had a pretty good idea of my progress regardless.

At the beginning they introduced the course record holder (from something like '83) and for a while I was running behind him.  I didn't feel great, but the course was flat and I was hoping I would loosen up after several miles.  There was also a guy surging and dying every 100 feet or so, which was supremely annoying.  I surged to get past him, only to have him come surging back a minute later.  I surged again and then that was the last I had to deal with him.  At some point my shoelace worked its way loose and I had to stop somewhere around 4 to tie it.  An inauspicious start for sure.

By the time we reached mile 5 either the legs loosened or the folks in front of me were already dying.  I started passing people 3 and 4 at a time.  According to the (imperfect) garmin splits I kept a rather steady pace, so I think I actually picked it up a bit.  The hills were gradual at first, and then after 7 they were rather steep.  I passed the area where my company has an office (along the Brandywine) and I was still passing people, but it was down to one by one.  Sometimes folks surged back and I let them go.  I don't think anyone stayed ahead of me except maybe one person that passed up the hill to the finish.

The hills turned to flat and I had rested a bit on the last of the large ups.  Garmin shows pace had dipped to 6:50 or so, acceptable if I was then able to pick it up.  So I left the folks around me behind and tried to get back on 6:30 pace.  There were a lot of turns on the course, probably not my favorite thing.  An out and back from mile 10 to 11 was probably the worst part.  But it was nice to see the field in front of me so completely.  With the benefit of the hills that I had just climbed, I managed a garmin recorded mile at 6:21.  The clock at mile 12 had a shade over 1:20 and I though I might have a chance at sub 1:27.  But the final hill killed that and I was passing under the finish line clock at 1:27:35.  With a couple of seconds from gun time, 1:27:31 was the official time.  Some 6 minutes and change faster than October.  But pretty much inline with the races i've had so far in 2013.  If anything, even a little off from Club Challange.

You were mostly kind to me Wilmington and I enjoyed a post race soft pretzel. Maybe someday i'll stop calling you a smaller, cuter version of Baltimore. But probably not.

The next races on the schedule are the fast Cherry Blossom 10 miler, and the even faster Main Street Mile.  Times from those will not equate to anything since they are flat and fast or net downhill and even faster.  So I have my 10 mile and half marathon times, which point towards being able to BQ at Flying Pig with a 3:10 or faster.  Both Club Challenge and Caesar Rodney are hilly courses, so I don't feel like i'm making a huge assumption for May 5 using those times.  And i'll have a group running my actual goal pace for the first time.  And probably the last time.