Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Distance Series 30k

Race #3 in Tidewater Striders Distance Series 2013

For a few weeks it sure felt like spring was in the air.  At this point on the calendar I had run more times in shorts then in appropriate gear for a Virginia winter.  The Groundhog and I may have even fooled myself into believing that winter weather was yet only a vision in our rearview mirror no matter what the calendar said.  Then late January, the second race in the distance series (a 25k race) got snowed out.  This short snap of cold and snow was just a fluke, right?  I was running in shorts again in no time.  With only the 30k race to go it looked good to get this event in without much weather fanfare…then in mid-February it started raining.

Race morning was wet and cool.   Although the temperatures did climb to 44 degree at race start, the rain never let up.

Sitting in my car prior to start, watching the rain beat down on my windshield, I just knew the day would be a mental battle as much as a physical test.  This race would also not only be a test of my physical preparation but also a mental challenge to prove if I was ready for the upcoming Shamrock Marathon.  Any early spring race on the east coast, could prove to have race conditions just as ugly weather wise, if not worse.

Held at Dismal Swamp State Park, the route would be a straight out and back (10k out and 10k back) with another shorter out and back along the original route for the final 10k (5k out and 5k back).  The official race distance of the day was 30k (18.6 miles).  My test on the other hand would be 20.6 miles at 9:00 per mile pace.
After sitting in my car for a good 45 minutes watching the rain come down and debating on whether to wear shorts or long pants, it was time to begin my battle with the open road and the elements.  I opened up with two miles planned/timed so that I would reach the starting line in “Americas Cup” sailing fashion.  These opening miles were run slower, off pace, to get my legs and lungs warmed up.  These opening miles would also tell me if I was going to have to put up with a recent stomach issue, (pulled/torn muscle or pinched nerve).
Mile 1 9:58 / Mile 2 9:43

Mile 3 9:13 / The opening half of the race went well.  In all honesty, after the first mile or so the rain was not a factor.  It rained all day, but since I was soaked to the bone, its effect was neutralized.  My original plan was to wear long pants, long sleeve shirt and jacket.  With the constant rain, I decided to go with a long sleeve shirt, jacket and shorts.  Although on the cool side I choose shorts over pants because I really did not want to drag around water logged running gear and the extra pounds that go with that.  I also wore a pair of gloves and a cap which kept the rain off my face a big plus on day like this.  At some point during this segment I felt a bit uncomfortable, like something was missing.  I ran another half mile when it hit me…I had forgotten to put on my knee strap.  Over the previous summer I had battled my way past some patellar tendonitis, and today my knee strap was still tucked in my gear bag.  Previously I had run a few training runs without said strap to see if my troubled knee had healed completely.  Today would be a real test; 20+ miles at goal pace…we would see what my knee had in store for me.
Mile 4 9:10 / Mile 5 9:02 / Mile 6 9:01 / Mile 7 8:59 / Mile 8 8:32
10k TURN
Mile 9 8:29 / At the midway point, everything was going well, my knee was not an issue, my recent stomach pain was not bugging me.  I was rolling right along; my only issue was that in an attempt to protect my GPS from the moisture I wrapped it up in a sandwich bag.  This made it very hard for me to monitor my pace, the GPS digits were so distorted by the extra layer of plastic that I could not tell if I was running a 0830 or 0930 pace.

Although I’m only really racing myself, it is still fun to stage little “racing “ battles with the other runners out on the course.  Race wise my plan is simple; run a negative spilt and pass more runners after the midway turn then pass me.  Today, I passed a good number of folks and felt pretty good about my standing, when it happened.  Somewhere around mile 13 I heard what no racer wants to hear. I heard footsteps and they were closing in.  Within seconds…two people caught me from behind and passed me.  I adjusted my pace and focused on keeping them within in sight until later in the race.  If anything this little race allowed me to focus back in on my pace and made the midpoint of the day a bit more interesting.
Mile 10 8:35 / Mile 11 8:38 / Mile 12 8:28 / Mile 13 8:30 / Mile 14 8:39

20k TURN
Mile 15 8:44 / The 10k out and back loops were pretty easy, the route is flat and fast.  At this point a felt pretty good had a good leg turn over going and was under no distress.  Mentally it was a little rough to begin another albeit shorter out and back along a straight and a bit of a boring course.
Mile 16 8:53 / Mile 17 8:49

25k TURN
Mile 18 8:44 / The final turn for home and I was ready for this race to be over with.  At this point yes, I was tired; yes, my legs were beginning to feel drained and yes, my fuel reserves were being used up.  But MOSTLY at this point I was just so tired of being wet.  My saturated running gear was stuck to me like an impromptu wet suit.  My cap was soaked, my gloves were soaked and my running shoes were making funny noises with every foot fall.  And OH, My choice to wear shorts was perfect, as wet as my clothes were I could not have imagined wearing a pair of soaked pants/tights.

Other than the two runners who passed me earlier, I had not been passed by anyone else.  I was feeling pretty good about a strong finish.  At the 25k turn the closer of the two runners was coming back to me.  Maybe it was their pace falling off of maybe it was my cadence picking up, whatever the factor I was able to reach and pass them.  But unfortunately that was all I could do, even thou I passed other runners in the closing miles I could not catch that one lone runner who soaked me at mile 13.  I wanted to catch him, but it was not meant to be.  With every surge to make up ground the distance between us remained the same.   
Mile 19 9:14 / Mile 20 9:07 / Mile 20.6 9:57

20 mile time: 3:04:23 30k time: 2:44:04 crossing that finish line I was so happy to be able to get out of that wet mess.  But even in my pressing desire to get out of there, somehow my legs made me walk to the snack table that was set up about 200 feet back down the course.  There they had pretzels, bagels and Krispy Kreme dounts.  Oh and that donut tasted so good.  Then on a rush of sugar my mind snapped me back to reality and my desire to get out of my wet gear.

The Tidewater Striders always put on a great event, this was my third running of the distance series and I will be back!

The Best News of the Day, I finished over all 3rd in my age group for the combined 20k/30k Distance Series Race.  Not too bad considering I ran 5.1 extra miles…."Happy Dance” like Snoopy Dawg!

1 comment:

  1. OOH my. Just hearing about that race honestly sounds quite miserable. Congrats on finishing not only a powerhouse race, but finishing 3rd in the age group. You are going to do so well at Shamrock!