Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tidal Basin 3k

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 2; 27th Edition
428.53 miles raced in 2007
Race: Tidal Basin 3k
Place: Washington, DC
Miles from home: 5
Course Difficulty: 2 out of 10
Course Enjoyability: 4 out of 10
Weather: Mid 70s, bright sunshine
Finisher's Medal: N/A

I knew I was going to set a personal best in this race.

I have been feeling absolutely great lately. I ran a high mileage total last week (as I reported in an earlier blog). I ran a semi-fast marathon. In spite of nagging leg injuries I have been cranking out some fast times on some training runs lately. I am feeling a little lighter and have a bounce in my step. Were any of these the reason for my confidence? Nope.

I have never run a 3k before. Voila. Instant PR. :)

Cheap? Sure, but oh well. I have always heard about the Tidal Basin 3ks as they are run once a month by the DC Road Runners club. But given I worked in Chevy Chase, MD I was never able to make it down there. As I no longer am working where I used to, the opportunity presented itself to take advantage of one of these 3Ks before my schedule filled again.

I expected a few people to be there (maybe 10) but was quite shocked when right before the race there were a good number milling around, taking their lunch break to run a registration fee-free low-key race in our Nation's Capitol. (Where do they all shower afterward, I wonder?) In fact, it ends up 60 people exactly ran this month's edition of the Tidal Basin 3k. I was stoked at the turn-out.

Amongst others I saw my new friendly rival Charlie Mercer, local mega-racer Ted Poulos, a chap I met at the International Peace Half-Marathon, Greg Ashe and a slew of others.

I knew Ted would be one of the front runners and would find out soon from a chap I just met (Dan Murphy) that the ordained favorite was Steve Kartalia. When asked my goal, I said a sub 10 would be great but two things kept me from knowing if I would achieve that.
1. I have a 65 mile Relay coming up in less than 72 hours which took precedent over anything else I did this week.
2. I have never run a 3k.

The latter evoked a "Never?" from Dan. I nodded. "Yep, never."

We lined up for the start and one nice gentlemen who had came down to run but instead volunteered as we were one volunteer short, started us off. Always a little bit of a fast starter, I jumped out ahead as I knew I was not 100% sure what the course was but doubted there would be much room to pass if necessary. I was right.

In front of me was Steve Kartalia who quickly made me realize there was no way I was winning this race. After a few hundred meters Dan Murphy passed me as we looped out of FDR Memorial Park and onto a DC street.

As we passed over a bridge and the Tidal Basin came into full view to our right, and the Jefferson Memorial erupted gorgeously into our view, Ted passed me as well. " Do NOT race them" I told myself over and over. Stay with them, maybe make a move at the end but you have a much more important race soon.

Around behind the Jefferson Memorial we went where taller runners like myself had to duck under the Cherry Tree Blossom branches which dotted the path we raced on. I long ago learned to not simply follow whether other runners ducked or not as being 6'1'' means most runners aren't my height and don't have to duck. Ergo, I take a branch to the head.

Quickly we passed the Memorial and I heard a few footsteps behind me. Sure enough Charlie has pulled up beside me. A few more meters and he pulled ahead. "Let him go" I told myself.

Past the little-known George Mason Memorial we trotted and Steve was long gone. Dan, who made it perfectly clear before the race he wanted to beat Ted has a slight edge over him and seemed to be in command. We passed over another bridge to begin the final long straightaway to home and Charlie lost one step. I leaped on this and soon was right next to him. We ran stride for stride for about 25 meters and I thought we had about half a mile to go. Charlie surged and I let him go unchallenged. I saw the Tourmobile Pagoda ahead which I thought signified the end of the race and figured I would hang back and if it did not hurt too much would make a charge.

However, I soon saw Steve stop running and realized the finish was a good 100 meters sooner than I had thought. Well, crap. I thought about a last minute surge but knew that last minute surges for no reason often end up in pulled hamstrings. So I lowered the gear, let Charlie sail away and came in 5th in a time of 10:16 (official results later say I was 10:18 but there is no way that is the case.)

Regardless it was a real fun race (Top 10 results below). This is definitely a distance I could run a 9:50 in or better and next month I may just do that (barring some events I am planning right now if they go through).

In an email exchange with Charlie later, I realized that he had set a PR at this distance, one he has run close to 10 times, by over 30 seconds! His words: "You pushed me to a P.R. for that course, by 30 seconds. I could only muster between a 5:40 to 6:00 pace the other 7 or 8 times I’ve run it, but today I was trying so hard to keep up with you that we finished under a 5:30 pace. " Makes me happy to help a fellow runner. So the unofficial Charlie-Dane tally stands at 3-1 in his favor. (I am unsure if we have ever run any other races other than the few we have done this summer. Will have to do some research).

After the race, some friends of Greg came over and asked if they could have their picture taken with me. Flattered they would ask, I graciously accepted. One of them mentioned how we were on a run with Dean Karnazes last year and I took a header into the road because, in the dark, I had stumbled over a root. I totally remembered this pratfall and reminded him how quickly I bounced back up!

So kudos to all who ran on a lovely day. Hopefully I will see you all again in a month!

1 Steve Kartalia 9:26
2 Dan Murphy 9:45
3 Ted Poulos 10:04
4 Charlie Mercer 10:11
5 Dane Rauschenberg 10:18
6 Patrick Walker 10:30
7 Tom Matzke 10:37
8 Gregory Ashe 10:56
9 Juan Calvo 10:59
10 Chris Miller 11:03

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great talking with you before the race Dane. When you pulled up beside me down the final straightaway, I wanted to do some of my usual trash talking, but I was just too dang winded to speak. All I knew was that if I let you beat me, I'd have to hear you say, "you shoulda taken more walk breaks, Charlie". If you go under 10 next month, I may have to trash talk from about 100 meters behind you. Great race, thanks again for pushing me to a p.r. Like I said in my email to you after the race, if I could chase you on a marathon course, I might just get that elusive sub-3. Good luck in NH! Just give me 2 or 3 good walk breaks up there, that's all I ask.