March 1, 2008

A Race and A Brick

This morning I ran the Knights of Columbus 5k in Birmingham. I should start by saying that I felt great going into this race. My legs were fresh - ha, maybe too fresh considering they only had an hour of running in the last 6 weeks. And I felt skinny. Now I know this sounds like a chic thing to say, but I guess the last few days I had been eating a little less than normal and a little more healthy than normal, and it made me feel - well, skinny.

Anyway, I woke up at 653 and walked the dogs, then ate my mini-bagel and banana, and then fed the dogs. Grrr, the dogs. Mars is, well, in the doghouse. So they are eating their food and Mars walks to the front door and poops on the hardwood. They NEVER do that! So he and I had words, and I the day was not starting out good.

I got to the race in a little bit of a hurry after being delayed by the clean-up. I registered and did a warm-up mile, and then got in line to pee. After waiting for a few minutes they called the runners to the start line, so no pee. Didn't really become an issue, but it still would have been nice to go!

I positioned myself on the 3rd or 4th row of people and the gun sounded. I quickly made my way to the front in the 2nd pack. The lead pack of 5 was about 50 yards ahead by 1/2 mile, and our pack of 6 was another 50 or so yards ahead of the next group. By the 1 mile marker, our pack was spread out and the lead pack was about 100 yards ahead of me. My watch said 5:53.

Now my goal was 6:25 pace, and when I saw 5:53 I knew I had blown the race. I was breathing pretty hard and I knew my legs would start to feel heavy soon. I slowed the pace while trying not to wither completely.

No one was passing me, so I still felt good about things and knew I was still close to or in the top 10. The 2nd mile came at 12:52 and I knew a sub 20 was now out of the question. Now I would just try to salvage race positions.

The 3rd mile had a longish gradual incline that seemed to slow me even more, but I was trying so hard to keep my legs turning over as fast as possible. I got to what I recognized as the last few straights and checked my watch - 18:10, but I wasn't sure exactly how far was left. 2 people passed me in the last half mile, the only 2 that passed me the whole race.

I crossed the line in 20:38, 14 seconds/mile slower than what I needed. So, once again, pacing is everything!! I think the 6 weeks off to recover from the broken heelbone didn't really affect my speed or aerobic ability too much - I did tons of cross training and flexibility/strength stuff to try to maintain that. But it definitely affected my ability to race smart and know how fast I was running.

After the race I was surprised to learn I had finished 1st in my age group, and 12th overall. Not sure how many total racers there were - I'd guess around a hundred. I even got a spiffy plaque to take home, my first real award for running!

I went home after the race, took the dogs to the park to play, and then loaded my bike in the SUV. I drove about 75 minutes to Weaver, the start of the Chief Ladiga Trail. This is a rails to trails success story, a 33 mile paved trail in eastern Alabama that (hopefully) will extend further into Georgia soon and become even longer.

I rode 25 miles out in 1:12, and then cruised back in 1:30. I then topped the 50 mile bike with a 1 mile run to officially make it a brick and then I called it a day.

Riding the trail was extraordinarily nice. I especially appreciate not having to constantly wonder if a car is about to mow you over. And although there were several road crossings, I never had to come to a complete stop to wait for traffic - I was able to pedal the entire time.

Rails to trails rocks!

Next week I travel to western Alabama for the Camp Partlow Duathlon, a 2m/17m/2m race and my first multisport race of the year! Woohoo!

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin...


Matt said...

Oh man, so close! But really, after being "off" for so long, your head may not have fit your blog's pic any more if you'd gone sub 20 with out running much. Good luck this weekend.

IronJenny said...

Dude! That is awesome!!!!!!
Glad you are back running,

TJ said...

Awesome race after the long layoff....and following it up with a brick...sounds like you are back on form.

Triteacher said...

I LOVE feeling skinny. Glad you can relate.

Other thoughts: Nice race, poor Mars, and yes, rails to trails rock!

Iron Eric said...

Way to go man!!

Robin said...

Sounds like a pretty darned good running recovery to me! Congrats on your strong finish.