334.4 miles raced, 5550 meters swam and 146.3 miles biked in 2011
Race: Deseret News 10k
Place: Salt Lake City, UT
Miles from home: 3 miles
Weather: 70+ degrees; cloudy; slightly humid
Take what you can get.
In this case what I could get was a solid showing and a new PR in the 10k. It was not, however, anything close to what I was hoping for. But that is fine because it leaves even more room for improvement.
That was the short version so you can pretend your read this and talk to me at parties. Read on for the longer version.
In a low key expo like this, I am usually afforded a great deal of time to have more one-on-one conversations with people. This always takes on an interesting aspect when it becomes clear to those there, either when they ask me what I at or anything else in those lines, that I am firm supporter of eating lean beef. More often than not the expressions are ones of happiness as you can see these fit people have had enough defending a perfectly healthy lifestyle to those who might feel otherwise. Working with the Utah Beef Council here in Salt Lake at this race was enjoyable as well as family recipes for beef dishes and nutritional information on the power of protein were swooped up in droves by the many family-friendly runners that the area is known for.
But the interactions I really relish are those who may disagree with what I support. In this instance, I had a lively discussion with a woman about "The China Study" - a book which concludes people who eat a vegan diet, which avoids animal proteins such as beef, poultry, eggs, fish, and milk, will minimize or reverse the development of chronic diseases. She was one who felt the book was correct whereas I obviously disagreed.
These discussions always intrigue me from a human interaction stand point, especially when "studies" by "they" are compared. I have never understood why the first person to cite "studies" is surprised when another cites "studies" back to them. In this case I mentioned that a large body of evidence exists that a higher intake of lean animal protein reduces the risk for a variety of illness including but not limited to, cardiovascular disease, obesity and osteoporosis. A "consider the source"-esque comment was the rebuttal to which I said "I always do. Do you?"
In an attempt to actually be a good little racer and go to bed at a reasonable hour, I was under the covers by 9:30 PM. I think the last time that happened I was six years old. Three hours later, after realizing trying to fight years of accumulated night-owlish was futile, I checked some email and went back to bed. Finally, around 1 AM I fell to sleep. My 4:45 AM wake-up call for the 6 AM race came far too quickly.
But I felt rested. I may not have been sleeping but I was taking it easy. I felt that this was just 6.2 miles of hard work- not 26.2 or beyond and the lack of sleep would have little effect. I was, however, a little more dismayed when I walked out of my door at 5 :15 AM and into 73 degree heat and a much more muggy than usual day here in Salt Lake City. Of course, today is the day where the weather gets all schizo on me. No matter- again, it is only 6.2 miles.
A bigger concern to me immediately was an achy left foot. Hurting for two months now, I hoped basically taking the week off from running would help it heal much faster. Of course, I biked and swam every day this eek to take advantage of the rare full week in my home with access to my bike and a pool. In hindsight, that was hardly resting.
|How in sweet merciful heaven was this 8 years ago?|
But that was my goal and I have no problem stating it, even if some may scoff. I was hoping to run between 5:30 and 5:45 for the whole race, eking out a 34:59. In my favor was a course which allows one to take advantage of some early downhill portions to build a slight cushion and also my ability to randomly pull races from my nether regions which I have no business running. Not in my favor was the lowest amount of mileage I have ever run in a year to this point (not using hyperbole here- I will show you my spreadsheet), the aforementioned sore foot and that whole not being fast thing. In my optimistic-on-the-race-starting-line outlook, the pros outweighed the cons.
First Two miles: 5:14, 5:35
The first two miles contain the vast majority of the downhill of this race. Running them hard will hurt your legs. Not running them hard means you waste what this race really allows you to do well at and that is bank a little extra time. In a longer race, I would say this would lead to disaster. In a 10k, running the downhills properly, you can do well.
I had done my darnedest to do some striders and sprints and get the legs firing before the start of this race- something I rarely do. I felt I had done about all I could and felt fine as we started out flat and then turned into the first hill. As runners flew by me on both sides, I held my ground. I felt a little fast but did not know if that was just my ingrained marathon legs speaking. When I hit the first mile I found I was just 15 seconds off what I wanted to average for the first two miles and felt good.
Oxygen4Energy prior to the race and was hoping it would provide me with the little boost I needed.
Next Two Miles: 6:04, 6:08
The third mile had the biggest uphill of the course and I was ready for a big slowdown. I was hoping to be under 6 minutes for this mile. Only four seconds over that goal, I was still quite bummed. I felt for sure I had pushed it enough on this mile, but left enough in the tank to make a solid grab for a 35:xx even if the "A" goal was off. My watch told me different.
|Tick slower! SLOWER!|
No problem - I am not going to get what I want. Simply run right around 6ish for the last two and a 36:30 will be my reward.
Final Two Miles (and change): 6:10, 6:30, 1:25
The fifth mile was right about on target. I knew it would come down to how hard I pushed it during the final 1.2. Running through the streets of Salt Lake I knew exactly how many blocks left I had until the finish and I began to make it hurt 10k style. However, even as I got closer, passing multitudes of runners slowing down, I thought that there were simply too many blocks left to run in the time I wanted or felt I could run them.
When I hit the 6th mile, the finish just a block away, I was quite dismayed. There was no way I ran that slow for the final mile. I was easily 30 seconds off the effort I was giving. All around me the body language of other runners echoed my sentiments. Could I still even break 37 minutes?!
I began to push with everything I had. It soon became quite clear however that I was not going to break even into the 36s and that also I was pushing so hard I was about to see the previous night's dinner. I laid off the throttle and eased back in he final few yards for a 37:06. This was a new PR by nearly 40 seconds but was also a huge disappointment at the same time.
|Please don't vomit.|
I began to walk through the finish chute and talked with runners as we usually do. The talk centered on the last mile and how it felt a touch on the long side. I did some measuring using my trusty runningahead.com and it does appear that the course was a 6.3 mile course (which would explain the extra 30 plus seconds on the last mile.) A little bit of a bummer if that held up but one you have to deal with regardless. In the aftermath of the race, as I punished myself for quite getting what I hoped I would, I began the long steep climb back to the start where I had parked my car. I got to spend a few miles running with a masters ace here, Steve Anderson who ran 33:00 exactly. That is just a blistering time; one Steve was not even happy with (!) We spoke more about the course and how it felt and found we both felt something was askew with the total times.
Later, results would show that virtually everyone had run a minute slower on this race than they had last year. Weather, length of course or anything else seemed to affect everyone equally. In fact, the top 10 women from last year's race would have beaten the female winner in 2011. The overall winner was nearly a minute slower this year than last.
Nevertheless, this race gave me many gifts. First, a new personal best - one cannot really ever complain about that. Second it allowed me to realize I can go much faster. Finally, it was a nice barometer for the work I have to do to get my new personal best in the marathon in St. George in October.
Remember - take what you can get. I got a celebratory steak dinner at Outback with my buddy Galen. That's a good day.