Sunday, January 6, 2013

Distance Series Race 1

The 15.5 Mile 20K Training Race.

When does a 20k equal 15.5 miles?  When you run 3.1 miles before the race…  In prep for this years Shamrock Marathon I decided to use a local running clubs (Tidewaters Striders) winter distance series to train for my goal of a 9:00 minute mile marathon pace.  The Distance Series consist of three races;  20k, 25k and 30k races…since this series does not get you up to the 20 mile norm for marathon training, I add a few miles.

PRE RACE:  The Tidewater Striders have hosted this event for as long as I have been running in the 757 area code, and they always do an excellent job.  In the past this event was held on Fort Story, First Landing State Park and this year at the Great DismalSwamp Canal Trail.  And again they hosted a first class event.

I got on site about an hour before start time, I’m the early bird, and found everything set up and ready to go.  I picked up my race packet, including my race goodie (Striders beanie hat), the timing chip and headed back to my car to chill out.  To get the required miles in my plan going in was to add 3.1 miles to this race.  I set off 30 minutes prior to race start and knocked out the extra miles in hopes of rolling right into the start of the race.  This race (and the next two in the series 25k, 30k) would provide an excellent opportunity to stage tempo runs at my goal marathon pace.

Being a cool January morning, the biggest decision I had to make this day was to go out in shorts or long pants.  The temps were not expected much above the mids 40s, but at start it was closer to 30.  I chose long pants, wish I was brave enough for tights but ghosts of George Constanza keep me more modest.  Ha ha ha  

I went out in lose fitting long pants over my shorts, two long sleeve tech t-shirts, a fleece top, my Garmin 201 GPS, gloves, beanie hat and my hand carried water bottle.

RACE:  Held at the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, This multipurpose-linear nature trail threads through some of the most uniquely historical and ecologically-significant habitats in the United States. The Dismal Swamp Canal Trail is an historic, environmental and outdoor recreation delight.  The trail/race course is an out and back loop, which is nearly flat with only slight crests in the road.  This is the same course used for the Dismal Swamp Half Marathon held in April and is extremely fast.  The trail runs along the canal and is lined with trees which provide a natural wind break and shade during the hot summer months.  If you have not raced or trained at Dismal Swamp, I would give it a try.

Opening:  3.1
Mile 1  9:44 / Mile 2  9:05

Mile 3  9:10  I attempted to time the extra 3 miles so I could roll up to the start chute just as the gun went off. Today I arrived just a bit early but I did not have enough time to move up to my normal starting spot in the middle of the pack.  I started today’s race near the very end.  The start was uneventful but it took a minute or two to make my way forward to the timing mats.

20k Distance Series Race 12.4
Mile 4  8:41  My plan was to go out conservative for the opening half of the race, keeping the pace around the 9:00 mark, but my legs were feeling pretty good.  As the miles went along I decided to pick up the pace some and catch up with the middle of the pack.

Mile 5  8:41 / Mile 6  8:33 / Mile 7  8:34 / Mile 8  8:39

Mile 9  8:29  At the turn around, I was feeling good even with the faster then planned opening miles, I decided to play a running game with my mind to keep me focused.  During the longer races it is helpful to come up with something to focus on to not allow yourself to get off of your race plan when fatigue sets in.  Today, I decided to play, “catch the runner in front of you.”  The object of this game to catch the runner in front of you, no matter what.  At times this is easy and only requires a slight adjustment to pace and at other times it is a major effort to chase down a runner off in the distance.  I scored a few easy kills early on, but also had a few that took some effort.  In the long run the game paid off, I was able to tackle the closing miles in bite size chunks and it kept my mind focused on my pace.

Mile 10  8:13 / Mile 11  8:15 / Mile 12  8:12

Mile 13  8:16  As we passed the 10k turn around sign I may have been short on oxygen, but my brain figured out I only had 3.1 miles left.  I felt like I picked up the pace and began to make up some time, but looking at my GPS I realized that even if I was not going faster…maintaining my pace was a WIN.

Mile 14  8:18 / Mile 15  8:18 / Mile 15.5  7:57

This being a flat out and back run, the finishing line was visible for the last ¾ of a mile or more and this allowed me to really keep the pace up and focus on finishing strong.  By race end 17 runners fell victim to the runner behind them, ME!

Total Elapse Time:  (15.5 miles): 2:12:53/Avg. pace 8:36
Official Race Time  (12.4 miles): 1:44:43/Avg. pace 8:26
4th in my age group

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