Monday, June 24, 2019

Oregon SummerFest 10 Mile Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 13; 6th Edition 
31.35 miles run and 12.75 miles biked and 2550 meters swam in races in 2019 races
Race: Oregon SummerFest 10 Mile
Place: Oregon, WI
Miles from home: 1179
Weather: 65 degrees; sunny; dry

I was in Madison Wisconsin for a speaking engagement at the Dream Bank, a community space dedicated to the pursuit of dreams, run by American Family Insurance. I had been at this Dream Bank six years ago when I was running from Dane Wisconsin to Davenport Iowa in an event that I created called, wait for it, Dane to Davenport. It was hard to believe that it has been six years since I was there but when you get old time flies by.

As is the case whenever I travel, if I have time, I try to find a local race to take part in. As luck would have it there was an event just south of Madison in Oregon, Wisconsin. Because I strive for accuracy you’ll be happy to know that the pronunciation of this city is different from the pronunciation of the state. The emphasis being on the last syllable and pronouncing it "gone" was difficult for this former resident of the tate to say this when he had to stop his mother from doing that very same pronunciation all the time. But I persevered.

This small local race had usually only had a 10 or a 5K race in it, neither of which fit my limited skill set in running. Fortunately, this year they added a 10-mile race. That sounded pretty darn good to me so I signed up.

The weather called for 50s and 60s most of the week leading up to the race with strong possibility of rain. But as the morning broke it was clear that it was going to be rather sunny. In fact by race time it was in the low 60s with a bright sun ahead. This is obviously not “ideal“ but for summer it is hardly bad whatsoever. Throw in the fact that on Tuesday just four days before this race I had done in an aquathlon in Austin Texas where at 6:30 PM it was in the mid 90s and let’s just say I was quite happy with the weather. One thing that I was not happy with, however, was a breathing problem that I had the morning of the race.

This spring has been a very good training spring for me and I thought that my racing was going to come together at a marathon in Canton, Ohio in April. But I had trouble breathing that day and ended up tanking it just about three miles in.  In Wisconsin, I was experiencing the same thing I don’t know if this was allergies or what but it is quite a bummer to feel that you are trained and not have the results on race day. So I got to this race well in advance hoping to maybe jog out some of the crap in my lungs. I ran over certain parts of the course and got in a good two miles before the race started. By then my lungs felt much better but far from perfect. I noticed it was sparsely populated race for us 10 milers, as we started before the other events.  But I noticed one fella who looked quite spritely.


Within a quarter of a mile, after the start a very frustrating thing happened. I’m not particularly fast. I can win a race here and there but all it takes is someone with moderately good talent to show up and I don’t have a chance. In other words, the race has to be relatively small in order for me to maybe get a victory. Well this race was small but some ringer came down from the Movin Shoes store in Madison Wisconsin to show the locals and travelers like me who was boss. I could see that there was no way I was going to win this race and soon the leader was gone from sight. Also, another gentleman was between the two of us leaving me solidly in third place.

The race was well-organized for a small town race with wonderful markings on the ground for all four of the different races that were taking place. However, the one thing that was missing was mile markers. I found this out as we entered into what was the first of two loops of a park system. It was hard for me to tell if the gentlemen in front of me were running fast or if I was simply running slow. As my GPS watch was on the fritz, I was simply using a standard stopwatch which I thought would be enough if I had mile markers. That was not the case. As such I was now in no-mans land with no one really to chase in front of me and no idea of how fast I was going. Normally I have a good idea of my pace but as the past few years have been off, with me laboring in Texas heat, my inner sensors haven't been calibrated to what felt hard because it was hot or what was hard because I was running fast.

As i was hoping for a win on this day, it was difficult to keep myself motivated with that out the window and the thought that I wasn't running well at all. I run for a multitude of reasons.  But I race to run fast. When that isn't happening the fallback is to place high in the event, the thinking being that everyone is suffering. However, by the time we left the park and crossed a road into another smaller park I had a little bit of motivation.

There was a runner who I could simply not shake probably about 30 yards behind me. As we made little turns here and there, I was given glimpses o whomever was behind me and this young fella was doing a great job of hanging on. I figured I might not get first or second but I was going to be damned if I let him keep me from joining the podium. Especially since he was wearing baggy basketball shorts. I can't sleep at night if someone wearing basketball shorts of five finger shoes beats me. So as we ran down and started the second loop I began to pick up the pace. At least I think I did as a distance between me and my chaser grew.  My lungs finally opened up and even though I was drenched in sweat in spite of it only being around 65 degrees, I felt like I was running fast for the first time all day. However, I could see I was getting demolished by the first place runner. I wondered if he had not been there if I could have made a race out of it with the guy in second place. It didn't really matter now, as he too was also solidly in front of me.

By now runners from the other races were beginning to either exit the first park or enter it from another direction. So, while there was nary a spectator cheering out on the course other than the few that were manning the aid stations, it was still nice to see other participants.

I had a fair estimate of an idea of where the 8th mile was simply by extrapolating a course map I had seen for the 10K the night before the race. When I hit that spot it look like I was actually going to have a solid time for this race. As such, obviously not feeling that great about my effort, I figured that this might not be the right mile marker. As I headed down a stretch of road where I had run earlier in my warm-up I realized I was much closer to the finish than I thought. I knew the 10K and 10 mile course finished the same but doubting my own ability I figured the 10 mile course must branch off for an extra half mile or something somewhere.

However with about three minutes of running left I realize that I was on the right course and only had the finish line in front of me. I looked at my watch and was beyond surprised. If I had known a little bit sooner I might’ve been able to put a bigger push on to run a tad faster, But as it stands when I passed in third place and a time of 1:07:21 I had well over a one minute PR. I temper this excitement simply with the fact that I have run a faster pace for no less than five or six marathons and numerous halfmarathons as well. But the fact that I’ve only run a handful of 10 milers means I still set a PR. Can't argue with facts, people!

What was quite hilarious however is my desire to not be kept off the podium didn’t matter as the race only gave out awards for first and second place. I’m not complaining whatsoever as I have more than enough non-precious metals in my collection. It just tickled me that one thing that was spurring me on was one thing that I never ended up getting.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this small town eating some pasta from a place that after 40 years was closing its doors in just a week. While I always lament that I have not traveled internationally nearly as much as I would like, I do like how much I have seen of United States. Going to small towns like this and experiencing the local flavor has always made any travel woes well worth it. Seeing good friends and meeting new ones is also a plus. When you start a trip with a vocational opportunity that allows you to inspire some people and hear their own stories and finish it with a new race personal best all in about 48 hours then one must consider that a sincere success.

Now I just need to figure out this breathing problem and tackle some more races soon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Lifetime Splash and Dash Series 3 of 6 Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 13; 5th Edition 
21.35 miles run and 12.75 miles biked and 2550 meters swam in races in 2019 races
Race: Lifetime Splash and Dash Series
Place: Austin, TX
Miles from home: 13
Weather: 95 degrees; sunny; dry

I had set three consecutive PRs at this distance going into this race at I doubted that would continue on this evening as we neared the 6:30 p.m. start time and we were still hovering around 95 degrees. With water temperature at a posted 83 degrees the only thing that was going for us weather-wise was a nice breeze and relatively low humidity.


I had actually hit the pool a few times since the last swim race  so I expected to be a little faster than normal. I decided to push it a little harder this time because I figured I would wilt during the run anyway.

The swim is a clockwise pentagonal shape around five major buoys that is usually rather pleasant. Today wasn't too bad as it felt even a touch cooler than advertised. I found myself right on the tail of a young swimmer who almost has always beaten me out of the swim. In fact, by the time we hit the third buoy I had passed him. I figured I was having the swim of my life. Unfortunately, I brought a crappy pair of googles with me and as we turned and swam into the sun, I had an awful time seeing in front of me. My swim started to zigzag a little and I wasted precious seconds getting back on course. As we passed the final buoy and headed home, I saw I was in front of another swimmer that was normally in front of me. I must be swimming out of my mind.

Getting out of the water, I stumbled a bit putting on my shoes but figured I would be fine. Both the swimmer right in front and behind me transitioned quicker and were off to the races. I crossed the mat to start the run in 12:07. This was my second fastest swim and T1 ever but no where near what I thought it was going to be. These fellas must have been having an off night. All 14 and 16 years old of them. Damn yoots with their skillz.


So a little disheartened by a swim a tad slower than I expected I set off on my run. I saw the 14 year old had passed the 16 year old, whom is the one I am normally able to catch on the run. But I didn't seem to have much zip in the legs and as I was indeed catching him, it wasn't as quickly as I liked. The 14 year old began to pull away right when we hit the backside loop hill that I despise. But right then I felt a small slowing in the other runner and began to pass him. Right before the end of the first loop, he was behind me. I hit it in 4:25 which was not bad but wasn't great.

The second loop allowed me to get a glimpse of a new-found nemesis, a perfectly affable young man of 29 named Kyle. Now Kyle had beat me by 4 seconds in the first race of these this year, partly because I hadn't know he was on the same lap as I was and I hadn't kicked it in. Last month I bested Kyle by a time of 12 seconds. So this seemed to be the rubber match. However, throughout this loop I couldn't seem to make any ground on him. I crossed the second loop in 4:27 and figured I would have another slower loop to finish out. I just couldn't seem to find the will to run harder.

Suddenly, Kyle slowed just a touched on the downhill portion and I was just a few seconds behind him. He got mildly caught up in a narrow portion of the course passing runners behind us on their loops which allowed me to turn this into a tactical race. I love "racing" like this. Most of the time I am just pushing myself against the clock but sometimes it is fun to take down runners as well. The problem was I soon on his heels right as we began the backside hill.  I really can't tell you how much this tiny little hill slows me down but I knew I had to keep the momentum and pass him here.

Unfortunately, I made the cardinal sin of passing and I did not do it definitely. Energized by my passing him (Kyle's final loop was 21 seconds faster than his first) he saw me falter ever so much and suddenly had a five second lead on me. As we hit the final homestretch, which is shaded, and slightly downhill (and I always crush on each lap) I now saw he as fading a touch.  But I had given him too much real estate. I narrowed the margin with a 4:20 lap but ended up 2 seconds behind Kyle for 7th male overall. The PR streak ended with a 25:21 but this remains my third fastest time ever of all these races,  with those three all happening this year.

A new community pool is supposed to be opening soon in my neighborhood. When it does, I fully intended to try and re-find my gills and get my swim time down 30 seconds to a full minute. While I will never catch Kyle's brother Kasey, who routinely wins the entire race (with a swim and T1 2:30 faster than me) I should be a bit more respectable. AS it stands, I won the Master's Division for the second time this year and am looking forward to the July edition of this race when I am sure it will be 100 degrees and humid!