Monday, January 10, 2011

A good start to 2011

On January 2, I competed at the BU mini meet, and ran PRs in both the 3000 and the 800. What a way to start the year!

Last year, my goal was to break 10:15 in the 3k so that I could join NBB. I ran 10:22.25 in my first race of the season, seven seconds from my goal. A few weeks later I tried again, ran a hard-fought 3k with much of the race in the second or third lane, kicked for all I was worth over the last two laps, and ran 10:21.95. Working so hard and taking off only 0.3 seconds was very disappointing.

However, it seems that I just needed to be patient. With another year of training, another 3000 miles on my legs, breaking 10:15 came naturally. Given the amount that I have improved in other distances over the past year, I thought I could run somewhere between 10:00 (40 sec/lap) and 10:15 (41 sec/lap), so when I visualized the race, I visualized running 40s and 41s.

Running the 3000

My seed time of 10:15 put me 4th in my section, so I was surprised when the gun went off and seemingly everyone passed me. I was content, though, as I went through the first lap in just under 40 seconds. I clicked off the first few laps in 40 seconds, then relaxed a bit and ran a few 41s. The race went by very quickly. Alan was at the far end of the track, and after 7.5 laps he told me that I was halfway done, and then I was shocked to realize, very soon after, that two laps had passed since Alan had made that remark, because usually each lap is very difficult. I was basically running alone; after the first lap, I passed one guy (actually lapped him) and one guy passed me. I went through 2k in about 6:48 (which is a new 2k PR) and I felt like I had the race very well in control. With two laps to go, I started kicking, and ran the last two laps in 39 and 38, for a final time of 10:07.56, a PR of about 15 seconds. I was thrilled with the race.

I cooled down, watched Alan and quite a few of my friends race the mile, and then after a few hours I warmed up for the 800. I added it up later and I had done over eight miles of running before I got to the line for the 800. I was also wearing brand-new spikes that I had just been given that day, after the 3k (thanks, NBB!). I had seeded myself at 2:30 because that is my PR. Both Alan and my coach said that I should have seeded myself much faster, and that my goal should be to win my section. I was in section 8 out of 9, the second-to-last race of the entire meet. I reminded myself that the 800 is a very short race, so you have to run hard for all four laps and not worry that it's too fast.

Running the 800

We started in lanes, a two-turn stagger, which was sort of weird. I went out at what I felt was the right pace, and when I cut in there were two men and two women ahead of me. I passed the two women on the second lap. On the third lap I intended to pass the two men, consistent with my goal of winning the section, but they seemed to speed up, so I was content to speed up and stay behind them. In the last lap I kicked past one guy and gave it everything I had to catch the last guy, but he finished ahead of me. Still, I ran 2:24.76, a 6-second PR. My lap splits were 35, 36, 38, 35, which is pretty much the canonical pattern for an immature racer (a mature racer runs even splits), but the 800 is not my specialty, so it's fine with me.

All in all, a great start to 2011. I am looking forward to racing the mile as my next event, and seeing what I can do.

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