13 March 2012

City-Pier-City Race Review, Part Two

Here I am at about 19 kilometers into the race looking at the camera on the wrong side of the road.

If you clicked on the link in my previous post and looked at the results from my race, you'll see that my first 15k was run at pretty even splits.  My 5k splits for that 15k were 22:43, 22:48, and 22:44.  I then ran my fourth 5k in 21:51, allowing me to negative split the race, especially after running my last 1100 meters in 4:31.  My first 10k was run in 45:31 and my second in 44:35.  This was exactly the pattern I was looking for, but I did end up running the first ten miles about ten seconds faster per mile than my goal pace.  Running this quickly put me in an awkward position because I was never really able to feel comfortable with my race.  Often, I felt nervous about how my faster pace would make me feel in the later miles.

If you take a look at my mile splits, Guerrilla Race by scarbellyracer at Garmin Connect - Details, which I've posted below, you'll see that my first mile was run at the fast end of my goal pace.

Avg Pace

However, that mile started slowly as it took a couple of minutes for runners to spread out and get some running room, so I may have actually run a good chunk of that mile at 7:00 to 7:10 pace rather than 7:20.  All in all, though, I felt relaxed physically through that mile and the next five or six.  As I said, though, running relaxed physically but anxious mentally never allows you to settle into the race.

After completing the first 10k, I thought to myself that I could probably manage a sub-1:36 on the day.  I would just have to repeat my first 10k time and then pick up the pace just a little during the final 1.1k. I then calculated what I'd have to do to run under 1:35.  At the 10k mark, that seemed out of reach.

I should mention here that beginning sometime after the second mile, I had to pee.  I told myself to wait until at least half way, so that I could use the lost time as motivation to negative split the course.  At half way, I didn't want to stop and told myself to wait until just before the last 5k so I could get a small break before running hard to the finish.  By the ten-mile (16k) mark, the need to pee left my body.  In fact, I didn't pee until after riding my bike back home.

I almost did stop during mile nine, however.  At some point during mile eight and through mile nine, I started having doubts about my ability to hold my pace until the end.  My eighth mile split surprised me because I thought I hadn't been running as hard as 7:11, at that point my fastest split of the race.  My nine-mile split also surprised me because I didn't feel like I had slowed up much from how I ran my eighth mile.  However, during mile nine I felt my strongest desire to use my need to pee as an excuse to take a quick break.  Remember, it had been 16 months since I had run this many miles at this speed, so I think my body was just feeling some shock over the experience.  I can't remember why I decided not to stop, but I didn't stop and I'm proud of that decision.

Sometime during the tenth mile, I stopped feeling the need to pee, even though I did drink some water and some sports drink at the 15k aide station.  When I saw my split for mile ten, I was happy to see that my pace was back in that 7:10 to 7:20 zone, and I didn't feel like I had to work too hard to get there.  At the same time, though, I saw that I had gone through 10 miles in under 73 minutes, eight minutes faster than I had run ten miles since before surgery, so I started having more doubts about being able to finish the race strong.

Nonetheless, I picked up my pace and tried to find runners in front of me to either run off of or pass.  The nice thing about running in the 1:30s for a half is that many runners can run this pace so you're never alone and never without competitors to assist your performance.

I was afraid to commit right away to too agressive a final 5k, but the tenth mile climbed for a bit and then came back down a gently graded hill.  I took advantage of the downhill, relaxed, and opened up my stride.  This helped me get my first sub-seven minute mile of the race.  As the course flattened back out during the 11th mile, I tried to maintain the same effort I had during the tenth mile.  I still wasn't sure how long I would last if I tried to negative split the final three miles, so I maintained a consistent effort for longer than I probably had to.

I was disappointed when I saw that I ran a 7:05 twelfth mile.  I was hoping for a surprise, for something a touch faster than my 6:59 tenth mile.  I decided then that I would make sure my final mile was sub-seven, so I picked up the pace.  To help me focus, I started either picking people to pass or road signs to run to.  My breathing became deep and my eyes focused solely on either a person or a sign.  After passing the 20k marker, I knew I only had 1100 meters to go and I had more left.  I pushed the  pace slightly until I saw the 500 meters-to-go sign.  I knew at any minute I would hear my watch tell me that I had run 13 miles and I knew that I had even more to give the race.  I opened up my stride and felt my forefoot drive through the ground, as my knee drove forward.  At this point, no more signs were left to run to and I was only focused on passing as many people as possible.  I am proud to say that I did not get passed in that last 500 meters, but I did pass a good number of folks.

I forgot to mention also that I was driven to push harder at the 20k mark because it was at that point that I realized that I could run under 1:35 with a good push.  With about 200 meters to go, I could see the race clock.  I knew I was about 40 seconds behind that clock, and I was watching it as it changed from 1:34 to 1:35.  I ran the last two-tenths of a mile at 5:40 per mile pace to ensure that I would run sub-1:35.

During the race, I took in fluids from each of the three aide stations.  I first drank a couple of gulps of water and then I took in an equal amount of sports drink.  This was all I needed, and at a couple of points in the race I could actually feel when the sports drink put me in a better mood and energized my muscles.  I did not suck down either of the gels I was carrying with me.

Another nice thing about this race is that I never felt hindered by my cell phone or the arm warmers and bandana sitting in the back of my shorts.  Not once during the race did I even notice that I was carrying those items.

Overall, I ran about as good of a race as I could have.  And although I ran faster than I had planned, I executed my race plan almost to perfection.  I do have one question, though.  I was within 21 seconds of El Doce's PR and within 35 seconds of The Jewish Stallion's PR, so I do wonder, "What if?"

I took yesterday off, and I ran easy for one hour this morning.  The link to today's run is below. Thanks for reading this race review, and if you have any questions or comments about my racing or your own, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Today's run: Guerrilla Race by scarbellyracer at Garmin Connect - Details

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