Friday, April 23, 2010

Three races in five days

First race: The Brown Running Club mini-meet on Tuesday. Four people showed up, three guys and me. I was planning to do the mile and the 800 as a sort of interval workout, but no one else was interested in the 800, so we did just the mile and the 400.

Mile: The guys appeared to all be about the same speed as each other and as me, and one said that he didn't know how to pace a mile, so I offered to pace the first lap and said then they could all pass me. This is what happened. I led the first lap (409 meters) in about 79 and then all three went by. I passed the third guy (Simon) on the backstretch of the second lap, but he re-passed me half a lap later and we went through the half mile in 2:41. I had been planning on running about 5:40, so this was much faster than planned! I passed Simon on the backstretch again and ran an 85 for the third lap. Edward was running a few seconds ahead of me, and the gap had been relatively constant for the past two laps, so I harbored fantasies of catching him. I accelerated on the backstretch and caught him just as we came off the last turn. I kicked hard and had him by about a meter with 50m to go, but in the end he prevailed, 5:24 to my 5:25.

400m: Two laps of rest jog and then we were on the line for the 400. I am not even counting this as another race because I lost the ability to run fast about halfway through. For the last 100m I was just moving my legs but with no speed at all. I ran a 72. I probably would have run faster in trainers than in spikes!

Second race: The Red Rooster Ramble on Thursday.
This race was notable for several things:
(1) The first race I have ever run in a raincoat;
(2) Downpour with lightning for the first mile or two;
(3) Complete rainbow for the last mile!

Throughout the warm-up, the flash-to-bang time was between 5 and 7 seconds. Definitely not comforting. But the race went on regardless (with about 2/3 as many participants as usual). Alan and I both opted to wear our super duper lightweight rain jackets because it was pouring rain. Because I have an important race on Saturday, I decided to run 33 minutes for this week's race. At the start of the race, I was surprised to be surrounded by people! This was a nice change. I was running in a whole pack of guys until the 1-mile mark, which we passed in 6:28. I introduced myself to the guy nearest me (Russell), and he said he was trying to break 34 minutes. "Stick with me, and you'll surely break 34 minutes!" I said. He did so, and in the end he even broke 33 minutes.

Two college guys, Russell and I ran the whole race together. I shouted out our times at each mile marker because Russell didn't have a watch and he asked me to. At about 3.5 miles, a guy appeared up ahead and one of the college guys said, "looks like third place is up for grabs!" I was surprised that (1) third place was that slow; and (2) this guy was keeping track of what place we were in. If you had told me the guy ahead of us was fifth, I would have believed you. A little after 4 miles we turned a corner and saw a rainbow! I shouted to the others about it so that everyone would notice. We caught the third place guy shortly after getting back on the bike path. He was not pleased, but I was as pleasant as possible about it, talking about the rainbow. On the bike path, surrounded by water and flat land, we could see the whole rainbow, stretching from the horizon back to the horizon again! I have never seen a whole rainbow like that before. Reminds me of the disk model of hyperbolic space.

In the last 1/2 mile I could hear the college guys accelerating. I staged a couple of preemptive strikes, but in the last 1/4 mile they caught up even though I was kicking, and when I could tell that they had it, I backed off. It turned out that they were really racing each other. I want to save myself for Saturday! I jogged it in and finished in 32:42.

I was pleased during the race that I could maintain 6:30-6:40 pace without straining. I was able to run that pace with four steps per breath, not even needing the usual three steps per breath. This is good news for me because I want to run a half marathon at 6:30 pace next weekend, which will be 2.6 times as long as the Ramble.

Third race: Scott Carlson ALS 5k (results)
Well, basically I just went out and ran this race and that was that. I let Katie go after about 1/2 mile of the race, and for the next 2.5 miles I just watched her run away and finish under 18 minutes while I finished many seconds later. I ran basically 5:45, 6:00, 6:00 for the race, as has become standard for me. I did run a PR of 18:21, a PR by about 3 seconds. If I were getting a performance bonus each time I broke my PR, then chipping off a few seconds at a time would seem like a strategy, but as it is, it is just an indication of my extremely shallow slope of improvement. I won $100 for third place, and our team won the team division. There was delicious sherbet, and there were even lemon poppy seed muffins after the race.

I skipped the RI State Police Foot Pursuit on Sunday to do a long run of the half marathon course. I like the course very much; it basically does parts of all of the runs I do (the 8-mile loop, the River Road, India Point Park and the 14-mile loop are all represented). We only saw mile markers for 2, 5, 7, 11 and 12, so hopefully they will be marked better next weekend!

So far in 2010 I have paid $125 in entry fees and made back $225 cash, for a net profit of $100 (plus things like T-shirts and water bottles). But this will change next weekend, as the half marathon cost $50 and I am guessing there will be no profits.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Red Rooster Ramble 2010, #4

(Results) This Red Rooster Ramble was relatively uneventful. After the previous week's hard effort to run 31 minutes, I was ready to drop back down to 32 minutes this week.

I wore my older racing flats to see if it was the shoes that were making my feet fall asleep. This experiment was successful in a sense, because my feet didn't fall asleep this week. So if the trend continues, I'll stay with these flats.

I also didn't do strides -- I figured, no one else is doing strides, and I'm not going all-out this week, so I might as well not bother. This was a bad idea, because my legs felt heavy and slow for the first mile. Next week I'll do strides, even if no one else does them!

On the starting line, one guy said he was going to see how fast he could run the first mile. The starter said "go" and he took off across the parking lot, with Alan and me behind. I told Alan what the guy was up to, and Alan took off to catch up with him. After about 1/4 mile, Alan passed him. I could hear this guy Billy right behind me, and Billy passed me around 1/2 mile or so. Then we both caught the "fast mile" guy and almost immediately after, I heard breathing behind me. I was surprised, that the fast mile guy had accelerated and was right behind me! But no, this turned out to be Bob (the fast mile guy dropped very fast).

Bob, Billy and I all passed the mile in about 6:10. Over the next few miles, Bob ran fast and disappeared into the distance, and Billy slowly increased his lead over me. I harbored some fantasies of catching him, but I didn't. I had my chance before the 4-mile mark when he missed a turn, but I shouted ahead and he made a U-turn and got back on course. I was surprised that my third and fourth miles were within a few seconds of my time from last week, because last week I was really going for it and this week I was not so much. I kicked the last 1/2 mile and ended up in 31:44.

Alan won, the top five of us all went on a jolly cool-down together on the bike path, and there were tacos for dinner!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Red Rooster Ramble 2010, #3

This Ramble was less eventful, in that I drove there instead of biking. Alan and I chatted with the Jackmans a little and they said they planned to run together at a little under 7-minute pace. The main contenders eliminated, I discussed with Alan the possibility that he would let me beat him so that I could win the race outright instead of just the women's division. We left this possibility unresolved. I had already stated that my goal was to run 31 minutes (6:12 pace) as a tempo run. I had done a 5-mile tempo in about 31:50 the previous week.

I felt a little self-conscious changing into racing flats and doing striders because I was the only one doing it, but these things must be done. When the whistle blew to start the race, a guy in a green shirt took off, with Alan and me following behind. After about 50 meters, Alan said, "I guess it's just you and me." "And that guy!" I pointed out, not wanting to unfairly discredit a competitor. But we both knew that he would not hold his pace, and indeed after about 1/2 mile it was just Alan and me.

Alan ran the first mile with me, which we passed in 5:58. When we made the turn onto the road, he said "bye!" and accelerated away. He had told Bob he was going to run 29 minutes, so he had to run 5:45s to achieve that. I ran the second mile in 6:13 and was pleased that it was almost exactly the 6:12 pace I had desired (and that mile included a little hill).

I knew that the third and fourth mile would be the hardest, because my times have always been slowest on these two miles. I kept the pressure on, and it was gratifying that I could see Alan ahead of me for the entire way until about 3.8 miles (two weeks before, I couldn't see him after mile 0.8 or so). I ran these miles in 6:17 and 6:28, respectively. I was pretty shocked about the 6:28, because I didn't think I was running that slow. But after the race Bob and Alan were talking about it and they agreed that the fourth mile is long. I think this is probably true (map).

In any case, my elapsed time was now 24:56 and I had just over 6 minutes to get to the finish line. What was supposed to be a tempo run was definitely a race by this point. I got to the "1/2 mile to go" mark in just over 28 minutes, and the "1/4 mile to go" mark in 29:31. But I managed to kick hard and by the time I got to the finish line the clock still had "30" before the colon, so I was safe.

I finished in 30:57. The race director came over to me and told me I had set a course record! He told me the previous CR was 31:24 and showed me the sticker saying so at the top of his clipboard. I thanked him heartily for this but tried to correct him, because I knew that JoAnn M. had run 30:15 on the course last year and I had run 31:20 in a failed attempt to beat her time, so the course record couldn't possibly be 31:24 if I had run faster than that and not even won! But in any case I guess 30:57 is the new CR, at least until JoAnn comes back to defend her position. The guy in the green shirt who had gone out ahead of us finished in 38 minutes or something.

We did a two-mile cooldown, during which both my feet fell asleep and only one woke up, and chatted with the Jackmans over pizza.