Goal #1: Beat last year’s time. Check.
Goal #2: Beat two hours. Check.
Goal #3: Weather permitting, be close to 1:50. Uh, no check.
With very little speed work this summer, I knew heading into today’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon that I probably wouldn’t do any better than 9-minute miles, but it doesn’t hurt to wish, right? Usually for a race report I go mile by mile and recap different thoughts that occurred along the way. Today, though, there really isn’t much need.
It was a good consistent long run. All but one mile was slower than 8:45 and all but one mile was faster than 9:15. Final time: 1:59:18. That’s nearly 7 minutes better than last year’s heat debacle, so I’m very happy with that. A course record is always nice. But a mile into today’s race I knew there would be no extra pushing. At least not a lot of extra pushing. There were moments today in which I tried to go a little faster, but it just wasn’t going to happen. And I wasn’t about to go over the edge to do it. About half way through the race, my goal became simple – beat 2 hours. I knew if I kept the pace I was on I would do it within a minute or two.
The weather today was considerably better than last year, but there were parts of the course that were pretty hot in the direct sunlight. Then there were other parts that actually felt cool. All in all it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great either … it was just a good day to have a nice long run in Virginia Beach.
Today’s race concludes the way my summer has gone — slow and steady. As far as what’s next, that’s another post for another day. Right now I am content with celebrating my seventh half marathon in two and a half years. No matter what my time, there’s nothing better than crossing a finishing line and doing what so many people don’t get a chance to experience.
I know that I’ve been a little critical of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this year, but perhaps I’ve been a little unfair too. Overall, minus the last-minute deals for people who sign up late, this is a well-organized race and an organized series of races across the country.
The organization starts at the race expo, which I went to this morning — I was there for about an hour and a half, which is unusual for me. Usually I roll through quickly, get a few free items, maybe buy a new hat or socks and that’s about it. Today, though, I think I picked up just about everything free there was, entered to win registration to several other events, purchased three pairs of DryMax socks and bought a pair of shoes.
That brings up a question I’d like to pose to Asics – where were you today? Is 20,000-plus runners not enough to have a booth set up? Anyway, I walked away in a new pair of Brooks Ravenna (Washington Redskins/Virginia Tech colors included), which is a change for me. For the past two years or so I’ve been wearing either the Brooks Adrenaline line or the Asics 2100 series, but the new Adrenaline GTS 9 didn’t feel right and no Asics 2140 were around. In fact, the only Asics available were at a discount shop with not much to choose from. So with a nice 20 percent discount today, I now have something different for my feet. Whether or not I wear them tomorrow is something I’ll decide on in the morning. I’ve discovered in the past year or so that a breaking in period really isn’t necessary. And since I’m not out to set a PR, this run may be a good test to see if these are the right shoes for me or not.
Lastly, I got in a very short run this morning as the sun was coming up on one side and the moon was coming up on the other. There’s a small part of me that would love to live so close to the beach to run on the Boardwalk a few times a week. Anyone in Virginia Beach looking for communications/PR/social media help? I can make myself available.
In my few years of running longer distances, I’ve made it clear that I really don’t like 10ks all that much. I can’t really pinpoint why — to me that distance is just weird. For a 5k, you can just go all out — if you screw up at the start, there’s no way to make up for it. For a half marathon, there’s plenty of a time to make up for lost time or let yourself recover if you start too fast. The 10k … well, that in between distance just hasn’t appealed to me.
Until yesterday, I had only done four 10ks since I started running in 2004 – compare that to 12 5ks and six half marathons. Even when I train, I prefer the distances of 5 miles or 8 miles. But yesterday, my view of the 10k changed … slightly.
As I initially reported with a short entry, I set a PR in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. My chip time was 48:11, 21 seconds faster than my very first 10k at the end of 2006. After having a very satisfying race last week, this was the icing on the cake. I had no idea what to expect yesterday. Six days removed from a half marathon, I knew my legs felt rested, but still a bit tired. I ran only once during the week for a little more than a mile. I figured that after the first mile I knew I would either push it or just lay back and enjoy the scenery of Richmond’s Monument Avenue and the 26,000-plus people who finished.
Well, I hit the first mile in 7:43. I felt great, but I wondered if maybe I started too fast. The next mile was also 7:43. At this point I figured I would try to keep that pace to get to halfway and then see what happens. Mile three was a tad slower at 7:54, but I was still feeling good and was pumped that I was maintaining a sub 8-minute mile pace. It was the first time in a long time that I have felt an adrenaline rush in a race. I hit mile four in 7:46. At this point, my legs tried to tell me to slow down — they were screaming at me for doing two races two weeks in a row, but I kept pushing. I hit mile five at 7:57 — at this point I knew I had to push it if I was going to set a PR. I didn’t want to miss a PR by 30 seconds, but I knew it would be close if I didn’t step it up. Push it or walk and get nowhere near a PR.
With this race and so many people, there’s a lot of weaving in and out almost the whole time. There were lots of people in the first few waves that shouldn’t have been up there and there were lots of people in the waves behind me that should have been closer to the front. That made the last mile very interesting. I pretty much tried to keep pace with people as they passed me — I knew they were in that last mile frame of mind, so I blocked out my tired body and just went with the flow. I hit mile six in 7:37. With 0.2 to go, I knew I had this PR in the bag. I finished the last two-tenths in 1:29. My legs were hating me, but I was so happy.
At a 7:45 pace, this is my first race at a sub 8-minute mile pace since August 2007 in a 5k. While I did set a PR last summer in a 4-mile race, this one feels a lot more satisfying. I’ve come a long way in a year after being hurt and running this race last year in 51:43.
As for what’s next, I am content with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach being the next “big” race for me. Between now and then, though, I have some things I’d like to tackle with speed work and shorter distances to get me to what I really want this year — a PR in the half marathon at Rock ‘n’ Roll or later in the fall.
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Lastly, this race was a fundrasier for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. Donations are accepted for a while — if you’d like to donate to my efforts, click here. Both sides of my family have been impacted by cancer, so I’m not just raising money for the sake of raising money. Every little bit means a lot to me.
I’ve been waiting a while to say this — I set a PR today! According to my watch, I did today’s Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k in 48:12, which is 20 seconds faster than a 10k in late 2006. I’m sure my chip time will be different by a second or two. This is just my fifth 10k, but I am extremely happy (maybe an understatement) with how today went. Since I’m pressed for time right now, I can’t do a full race report, but I promise to get to it soon!
Today I got the e-mail I always forget will show up a few days after the big race — the photos from the Shamrock Half Marathon are posted! Click here to view my photos. I have never purchased any race photo ever. I’m not sure why. Maybe I keep thinking that next year I’ll miraculously be 20 pounds lighter and be running in a skin-tight shirt showing off my buff body … but that’s a far-fetched dream. I do like that photo with the lighthouse — it’s always the coolest looking one. What’s funny is I knew that’s where the photographer usually is, but I didn’t see him/her this year.
The photo of me looking down at my watch is making the turn onto the boardwalk. I can remember doing that too and realized that I was going to beat 1:50. It’s too bad I had already taken my sock sleeves off for the photos. That’s one of my highlights! Glad I took that one of myself in the bathroom mirror beforehand. These photos also serve as a reminder to me that maybe next year I should buy some new shorts — I’ve worn those same green ones three years in a row.
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Here’s a final look at the numbers from this year’s Shamrock Half.
Chip time: 1:49:30
Clock time: 1:50:05
(I was in corral one which was for runners 1:50 or better, so it’s reassuring to know I was in the right place.)
5 Mile split: 41:13
Overall place: 1,044 out of 5,996
Gender place: 741 out of 2,577
Age division place: 109 out of 356
Why do races have such an emotional draw to them? On Sunday there was the big excitement of completing the race. My thoughts were immediately on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half that’s not until September; I was thinking about next March’s Shamrock; there were thoughts on other races this year; and there were, briefly, marathon thoughts.
On Monday I was sleepy, but sad to leave the beach. Despite Virginia Beach looking like a ghost town, I really wanted to stay another couple of days. It’s like I didn’t have enough time to just do nothing. Maybe that’ll happen in September. Today it was back to work. With my legs still a tad sore, sitting all day long was not my idea of fun. While trying to concentrate on working and happily telling stories about the weekend, my thoughts race back to “What’s next?” and when I can I take time off again to run. I really want to run; I have fallen back in love with running and I can’t wait to continue.
As I mentioned yesterday, the infamous question of “What’s next?” gets answered pretty quickly. In my quickest turnaround time ever for an event, I am doing the Monument Avenue 10k this weekend in Richmond. Like last year, I am doing this as a fundraiser for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. To date, I have raised $0. I avoided promoting this just in case something bad happened this weekend and I wouldn’t be able to run. Now that I have survived, I know I can run the 10k in a few days just fine. I might not run it hard, but the fight against cancer keeps me going.
Last year I raised $1,000; this year my goal is just $500. With a short time frame (although most of my donations last year were in the final days) and a weaker economy, I didn’t want to set such a high goal again this year. This is your chance to prove me wrong! To donate, click here (this site has been very sketchy tonight, so if it’s not working, try again later). Donations can be given for a few weeks after the race. For more on the VCU Massey Cancer Center, click here.
My goals for this race will not focus on time – I just want to have a good run and enjoy my surroundings. I have led the way at work to having a 10k “team” – we won’t be running together as a team, but we’ll all have T-shirts – and I’ll be representing the Lynchburg College “team” as well. The great thing about this race is that I don’t feel so selfish doing it. Rain is in the forecast – last year it rained almost the whole time. It’s the only race in which I’ve experienced rain too. Go figure.
So after Saturday, I have the “What’s next?” question all over again. Originally I had planned to do the Charlottesville 10 Miler on April 4, but I think I want to enjoy a break from long running for a short time. Cross training has been kind to me, so I think the next few weeks will focus on that and not running so much. But like I said, I fell back in love with running this weekend, so don’t expect me to stay away from it for too long. My pattern with running seems to be that I get into a very analytical stage for about a month after a race, but I do need some time to think about things.
If I can take a non-racing approach to every race, I might just be able to get back to my 2007 form pretty quickly. Despite being 23 seconds slower than last year and just less than 5 minutes off my PR, this year’s Shamrock Half Marathon is by far my most satisfying race to date.
In looking back at last year’s race report and several posts leading up to the race, it’s easy for me to realize why I’m happy with this year’s time of 1:49:30 — last year all I thought about was breaking my PR from 2007 (which came just before I started blogging). This year the PR was not important. It did, however, cross my mind around the half-way point. But I know my body and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to maintain my pace or pick up the pace to set a PR. I didn’t exactly fully back off the gas pedal – I just settled in and stayed focused on beating 1:50, doing the math in my head each mile.
This race started out fairly cold. The low the night before was 30. Instead of wearing long sleeves, I cut holes in the bottom on two old socks and used them as sleeves for much of the race. I also wore gloves that stayed on until about mile 11 or so. It was frosty for much of the race, but, thankfully, there was no wind. A rarity for this race.
Like usual with the Shamrock, the first couple of miles started a tad slower than I had hoped, but with the mass amount of people it’s out of my control, plus it’s probably a good thing to be in a group that’s at a steady pace. I wonder if the organizers should consider having smaller corrals to spread out the field a little more at the start.
The first 5 miles of this race were perfect. Each mile was better than the next and it was at this point the thoughts a PR crept in my head. My mile times were 8:34, 8:22, 8:13, 8:06 and 7:58. In the next couple of miles, I kept a steady pace with times of 8:03 and 8:05. At this point, being a little more than half way and the miles just ticking away with no problems, I KNEW that I could not keep that pace. Or could I?
I backed off a little bit intentionally the next mile because I could feel myself getting tired — legs, lungs, everything felt tired. I wanted to slow down enough to have a recovery and then see if I could pick it back up. When I hit mile 8 at 8:22, I did the math in my head to a PR and knew that physically it wouldn’t happen. So I pretty much ended the race in the opposite way I started — slowing down for each mile. It’s as if I started a recovery before the race ended. I didn’t want a repeat of last year when I had to stop and stretch. And I didn’t want the rest of this month and April to be like last year in which very little running occurred.
I said heading into this race that I wanted Shamrock to set me up for a good rest of the year, and all this came back to my mind in those last few miles. I hit mile 9 in 8:31; mile 10 in 8:32; miles 11-12 were in 17:17 (I forgot to hit the lap button at mile 11 due to a water stop); mile 13 was in 8:36; and the last tenth was in 49 seconds. As I rounded the corner to finish the race on the Boardwalk, I knew I was going to break 1:50. After a year of injuries and running not going anything like I had wanted, all I could think about was how great this race had gone.
Also during this race I thought a lot about my son, Conner, who is just 4 1/2 months old and seeing the beach for the first time. Four months or so ago, this race was kind of a stupid thing to just think about doing. But, as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, one reason I decided to do this race was because of him. It wasn’t always easy getting to the gym at night, or going out for an after-dark jog with my dog, or running in nearly a foot of snow in Ohio in January and here earlier this month, but I did it. This experience of doing a “big” race as a new father is the most satisfying experience in all the running I’ve done in the past five years. My time means very little to me right now; the experience is priceless.
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As for what’s next, that’s an easy answer. I’m doing the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k this coming weekend. Details to come in the next day or two. For now, I’m enjoying a brief, but enjoyable, two days of no training, no working out and no worries about what food to put in my mouth.
This may be the least that I have to say about an actual race, but for the time I was running there’s really not much to say. I finished today’s Sweetheart 8k in 40:01, just a tad more than 8 minutes a mile. Like last year, the initial half-mile uphill was the make-or-break point for this race. I handled it OK, getting the first mile in at 8:17. The next mile was mostly downhill and I was rolling along at just over 7 minutes. The rest of the race was up and down, as were my times. In the end though, I felt good about what I had done despite not breaking last year’s time. For me, this was a test of my race shape. I’ll give myself a B-minus. I feel good about what I can do in the next five weeks to have a good half marathon. A PR may be out of reach at this point, but it may set me up for a good rest of the year.
On the flip side of things, I’m not trying to use this an excuse for running slower than I wanted, but the temperature at race start was about 30 degrees. It felt flippin’ cold after near-record highs earlier this week. It was nearly a 30-degree swing in temperatures from running outside last week. Another issue that I couldn’t control was the start of the race — it started 10 minutes late. WTF?? I have NEVER started a race that late … two, maybe three minutes, but 10 minutes? After warming up, I was ready to go … not stand around and wait for the thing to start.
I hate to talk bad about the local running club’s races, but this isn’t the first somewhat unorganized event I’ve attended. On top of the late start, there were only two portapotties for more than 300 finishers – fortunately I didn’t have to pee, but … and there was a long line for water and the usual after-race treats — something I had not seen before at a community race. Usually water is pretty accessible, but not today for some reason.
All in all, though, today was a very good day. I got in some speedwork, but I wasn’t as fast as I’d like. I ended up getting in 6.3 miles total today and after another run tomorrow, I’ll have more than 20 miles for the week. After taking off time from thinking about racing for a while and resting up my body, I think I kind of expected today’s results. I hit the reset button on my own with running, and it’s up to me to stay focused and get back to where I was a couple of years ago. It will be done …
(Funny thing… after writing all this I just went back and read last year’s post about this race. Eerily similar, including my use of bold and italics, minus the race complaints. Click here to check it out.)
For those of you who only like long-distance races, you’re missing something special in your community. It has taken me a long time to realize this, but 5ks have a way of bringing together a lot of different people.
There’s the fat dad looking to get into shape; there’s the mother of three who runs no matter how busy her life is; there are runners who run so fast that it doesn’t make sense; there are people who run so slow that they get passed by walkers; there are the teenage girls who have on way too much make-up at 7:30 a.m.; there are kids who walk after a half-mile, but keep on trucking it; there are cross country teams; there are neighbors who join together to pass out water … this list could go on and on, but the thing I like most is that there’s nothing wrong with any of these people. We’re all there for the same reason.
Today was one of those races (5k Eagle Challenge in Bon Air) in which people of all shapes, sizes and ages were well represented. There were probably way too many kids up front , but this was their event at their school after all. I actually didn’t mind too much (except for the one girl who decided to stop a half mile in and turn around and let her friends catch up) and nobody else seemed phased either.
Like I said in my post last night, I just wanted to have fun. In my head I wanted to beat 25 minutes and hit close to 8-minute miles — actually putting that down in words last night seemed difficult. Well, at the first mile I was at 8 minutes exactly. I was kind of surprised considering how slow the first quarter mile felt, but I was feeling great. The first mile was essentially flat until about the last tenth, which was uphill.
The second mile was up and down some hills — for what I’m used to, they weren’t that big. If you live in the Mid-West, they might have looked like mountains. I ran between miles 2 and 3 just under 8 minutes. Still felt great. Between miles 2 and 3 weren’t too bad either — I’d have to say it was relatively flat. I hit that mile in exactly 8 minutes. The last tenth was as smooth and consistent as the first 3 miles. I probably could have pushed it a little harder, but considering it wasn’t anywhere close to a PR, I wanted my first 5k experience in 420 days to be one that would have me happy to be doing a 5k again. I didn’t want to do anything stupid, in other words.
My finishing time was 24:45 (7:58 pace) — good enough for third in my age group (out of eight, unless one of the unnamed runners listed in the results is in his 30s) and 48th out of 301 runners (should I be happy that I beat so many kids?). While it’s a couple of minutes off my PR, it is a new mark to beat for my 30s. I’d love to get back to where I was last summer with my speed. Eventually I will, but considering my injuries in the past year and my focus on longer distances, I’m certainly happy with what happened today.
To close this post off, I highly encourage everyone out there to take part in a community 5k. If you can get your mind off racing for 10 minutes while you’re there, take a look around you and you’ll quickly realize what a great experience it is.
Last August in the middle of marathon training, I ran my first 5k under 23 minutes. It was part of a streak of PRs in a 5k. I had a 23:03 the month before and 23:49 in November 2006. It was my 11th 5k since late 2004 … little did I know it would be 420 days later that I would be doing my next 5k. That’s my longest drought without a 5k since 2006 when I went about nine months without racing that distance.
The check is written and the entry form is filled out to run a 5k at 8 a.m. tomorrow. It’s looking like temperatures will be a bit nippy with lows forecast in the mid-40s tonight. It was 85 degrees two days ago. For the record, this race is called the 5k Eagle Challenge, which benefits St. Edward-Epiphany School on Huguenot Road in the Bon Air area of Richmond.
As you know it’s not like I haven’t entered races. Since that time I’ve done a 4-miler, an 8k, a 10k, a virtual 8 miler, three half marathons (Lynchburg, Shamrock, Rock ‘n’ Roll), a 30k and a marathon. But I’ve gotten away from this great distance, and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t really have any goals — how can I when it’s been that long? I just want to have fun, and that’s what 5ks have always been for me. I’ve missed it … just how much is something I’ll find out in the morning.