Friday, August 31, 2012

Rock n Roll Providence

(1:22:01 for 5th, 19 August 2012) When I started running, our coaches taught us that when you get faster, improvement is incremental: as a fifth-grader, you might improve your two-mile time from 19:00 to 17:00 in one week, but as an eighth-grader you should be equally happy with a seemingly smaller improvement from 13:10 to 12:50.

Sometimes I think that I am fast enough now that improvement will be incremental, as in my 5k: 17:17 --> 17:12 --> 17:04. That is why I was very surprised to run a three-minute PR in the half marathon on Sunday.

For some reason, I have decided to do a slow, intentional buildup to a goal half marathon in the fall. So I decided (after I saw who was signed up, and saw that it was unlikely I would be able to win money) to run 6:00 pace for as long as possible, with a goal of 7-8 miles, and then jog it in the rest of the way. That is what I did.

At the beginning, I paced off someone (Hilary) who was running faster than 6:00 pace, so the first few miles were a little quick before I backed off to right around 6:00. I went through 5k in 18:20 and 10k in 37:12. Obviously, the second 5k was 30 seconds slower, but in fact neither of those times is too shabby -- the 10k time is faster than I have ever run at Tufts!

It felt like a long, hard way, but I made it all the way to 8 miles in under 6:00 pace, dipping under with 47:54. At that point, I had played lots of mind games to get me to that point, and I happily slowed to a jog. Katie was nipping at my heels and passed me within yards of the 8-mile mark.

"All right," I thought, "I'll just jog in the last five miles, and I won't be tempted to pick it up. When women pass me, I will just let them pass me and not worry about it." I expected lots of women to pass me. But as it turned out, my jogging pace was about 6:45. Fast, but it felt easy! A good sign.

When I got to 10 miles and no women had passed me, I did a quick calculation: 48 minutes for 8 miles plus 35 minutes for the last 5 miles (assuming 7-minute pace) plus 1 minute for the last 0.1 miles would put me at 1:24:00 -- that would actually be a really legit time. I guess that's why women weren't streaming past. Oh, and it would be a PR. I could still PR in this race!

Well, that was exciting. I got to 10 miles in 61:24, which was indeed a new PR already. (And the 11-mile mark was definitely in the wrong spot, so the 10-mile mark may well have been in the wrong spot, so perhaps my new PR is even faster.) I realized that if I did the last 5k in 20:00, I would run 1:21:24! That would be really fast! Wait -- calm down. We are jogging it in.

You may wonder why I was jogging it in. This race was on Sunday, August 19. I had signed up for two 1500m races in Europe -- in Belgium on August 25 and in England on August 28. I did not want to embarrass myself in those races by destroying myself in a half marathon six days earlier.

In the twelfth mile, a guy passed me and said hello, and it was my high school teammate Ross! I hadn't seen him since 2001, and yet he had recognized me from the back, and I instantly recognized him. He was much faster than me in high school -- something of a celebrity, in fact -- but he hasn't been running for a long time, so he's just getting back into it now.

Anyway, I accelerated in the last mile in an attempt to break 1:22. Ah, well. I am not too sad about 1:22:01, because I plan to run much faster in my next half marathon, the one where I run hard the entire time. Stay tuned for that one.

I placed fifth among females, separated by about three minutes from both the 4th and 6th place finishers. Last year I ran 1:25 and was fourth overall and second in New England; this year I ran three minutes faster and was fifth overall and fourth in New England (just out of the money). Ah well; I feel like I was a winner.

After the race, Christian and I partook heavily of the awesome breakfast spread in the VIP tent (one of the reasons why I felt like a winner). Oh yes, another awesome thing about this race was that I had an elite number! (Hence the VIP status.) My bib number was F6. I have a goal to someday get #1, or at least F1, and this is a step in that direction.

I am once again glad that I participated in the RNR Providence. See you all next year!

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