"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2009 in review -- part one -- racing

Inspired by Jake, I am looking at my 2009 in running. I don't like what I see.
Also, I started this two weeks ago and didn't finish.

I failed miserably in regards to my racing- only once being satisfied with my effort in competition. Running itself fared a bit better. I'll save that for the new year, to start off optimistically.

I started with intent to put dents in my two-year-old 10-mile PR, with races in North Park and Washington, DC. My Schenley Park tempos were great, as I averaged 5:17s for five mile, hilly courses in cold weather. Training with Steve Strelick was great- he kept a solid pace and was fast. At the Spring Thaw, however, I got too aggressive early on and after a 5:15 second mile, I began to wear down in the fifth mile and after a decent first half (27:39), I struggled in the second half, giving up the last mile to finish with a 29:04 split to finish 56:42, almost a minute slower than my PR, which I set running alone the second half. My second attempt at the distance ended a few days before the Cherry Blossom race, when I woke up Thursday morning sounding like a car without a muffler.

My 5k racing started off poorly- showing up late for Just a Short Run and racing without a warmup. My first two miles were great, averaging 4:58 pace, I think, but my third mile -- when I lost focus in the long stretch -- was horrendous, and I wound up at 16:15. In April, my 4:42 first mile in Scituate, Mass. didn't do much good when traffic and a train on the course slowed me in the third mile when I again finished 16:15 (right). I took the Race for the Cure too easily in the first mile, hoping to run a massive negative split where I had been worn out the year before. I ended up running a mediocre time in no-man's land (above).

I planned to do the bare minimum to win the Ohio Valley Hospital 5k on my birthday, given the wear and tear I had put on my body the night before, but worries about high school kids who didn't make the WPIAL final provoked me to be more aggressive in the beginning and put myself in a position to be easily picked off by a kicker -- luckily there were none. And I won money for running 17:15. Kind of embarrassing, but I still won. I managed to cut a little time off at Kevin Gatons, to 16:07, but I wasn't competitive in the last mile and was even further from my runaway 2007 victory pace. I let people get ahead of me on a downhill, one of my weaknesses.

The Twin Boro race seemed like a great opportunity to recapture some "just plain fast," but that was before it was scheduled for 1:30 pm. Steve Strelick was in New York, so I figured I wouldn't have to deal with someone that fast, but an NA kid who runs at Penn State showed and dropped me from the beginning. The heat and humidity hammered me and the almost total lack of shade caused the sun to just sap all of my vitality. Another 16:07, and the NA kid broke my course record. Michelle told me the following Friday that the Riverview Park 5k was that afternoon, and I figured, why not race it? The problem was that I had biked to work and would not finish my work until after the bus left, forcing me to bike home. I sprinted, until a car in East Liberty forced me into a parked car, badly bruising my forearm. Michelle picked me up and we idled in traffic from the arts festival, pride week and Pirates game and made it to the course three minutes before the gun. I rushed in with a check, grabbed a number and thanked a high school kid for singing the national anthem so slowly. With enough adrenaline pumping, I decided to just burn everyone from the gun. I did it. Then the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Good day, besides the bruised arm.

I was actually satisfied with the Father's Day 5k (left), despite a mishap. Steve dropped me in the first mile, but I started to claw my way back up to him after the turnaround. Shortly after, though, we hit the wall of walkers headed out way and had to practically jog. He said we should just jog it, but I told him to keep going and push me, because I wanted to run a fast time. He thought there was no way we'd run a fast time, but he obliged me, then dropped me, but we both broke 16, and I ran 15:47, the best I had ever felt after losing a race and not PRing.

That race gave me confidence to shoot for sub 15:25 at the Brentwood race, and I planned to start conservatively and hammer on the way back. I ended up starting slow and getting slower. I had no energy, despite holding back at 5:05 pace (compared to a dozen or so people who ran 4:50). I hemorrhaged places in the race, and after mistiming my kick to try to catch Larry Quinn, I was totally gassed. I wound up 25th place, more than 80 seconds off of my goal, compared to 2008's third place in 16:00.

I recovered slightly with a guts-out race at the BLAZIN 5k in Penn Hills, just pushing from the very beginning and totally wearing myself out in the heat and sun. I managed to run faster alone on the hills and in the heat than I did in the competition-aided Brentwood race.

When Ryan Sheehan showed up at the Run for Roch, it let me off the hook in terms of realistically trying to win. He jogged a 15:39 in trainers and a long-sleeved shirt, and I went with him for a half mile, while Timmy Wu fought everyone behind me. I ran 16:25, as I had a year before, but this time I was a lot more relaxed and not as serious about the race, since I had to drive to Dave and Jess' wedding right after.
I had another race mishap in Wheeling at the Debbie Green 5k. Despite my poor training the week before and the heat during the race, I ran intelligently, picking it up in the second mile and reeling in Africans, who puzzlingly dropped out when I approached. That opened a huge stretch between Jeff Weiss and me, and by the time we rounded the last corner, he was so far ahead that I couldn't see him through the sweat in my eyes. I did, however, see a large arch of balloons over the street, so I sprinted to it and stopped. Thinking I had crossed the finish line. I hadn't. After standing around for a while, people started yelling at me, I looked back and saw people coming at me and sprinted in, just holding off the women's winner and former Miami runner Jerry Claunch and adding at least 20 seconds to my time.

The next weekend was another fiasco, this time at the Brookline Breeze. After mowing down three guys in the second mile, I followed the second place guy down the wrong way, and by the time we realized it we were far behind. I only managed to catch a few people who passed me in the meantime, finishing fourth in 16:25.

Two weeks later, after a long, successful training week, I bombed the Run Around the Square in 17:02, a race I so easily dominated last year. I should have rabbited the first mile for Remix to give him a good workout, but I didn't think of it until it was too late.
I had a measure of redemption at the Steelers race, where I ran a second faster than I had the year before and held off Paul Zimmerman for the third straight year. I was fast out of the start, running with Fitzgerald through the mile in 4:50. I then started to push it, and he sat on me until it was time to go. After running by myself, I was gassed and he, Steve and Remix passed me, though Steve caught him at the end. The Richmond alumni race also went better- 16:15, compared to 16:37 in 2008.

I had planned to run a 5k in Sewickley instead of IKEA, but it was cancelled, so I instead wasted my time and knees with the Ohio Township 5k, with a blazing 18:10.
After a month of partial time off, I ran an even-split race in Shadyside, but lost in the last mile.

Then I moved, took time off, started up again and ran some pretty awful races as I got back into shape.
Alex convinced me to run the Candy Cane City 5k in Chevy Chase, where I started the race with both shoelaces untied (right) and stopped twice to tie them, finishing in 18:33.

A few weeks later, I ran 17:33 at the Pittsburgh YMCA Turkey Trot, and 17:08 at the Ryan Jobes 5k.

I didn't race many 10ks, just the Great Race, Martha's Run, where I ran away in the first mile and had a big cushion at the end to win my second title there, Genesis, where I switched at the last minute from the 5k and ran 4:42 and 9:45 for the first mile and two mile splits to win easily.

By the time I got to the Great Race in September, I was running three or four times a week and was amazed to have broken 34 (33:39).
The Pittsburgh Marathon relay dominated my spring training. The Hounds had never lost a relay, and I was focusing my training to optimize the 7.1 mile first leg. I practiced the leg as tempo runs and managed 5:30s with traffic on the roads, but two days before the race I crashed my bike and bruised most of my ribs. The first three miles, around 5:00 pace, were okay because the adrenaline covered up my rib pain, but as it wore off I felt every breath and started looking like a guy who was trying to race with freshly bruised ribs.

Generally, I was in good shape this year, but I rarely put that together for good races. I probably erred by switching my Genesis race and could have contended for the win and a fast time there, and wish I had entered the BAA 5k before the Boston Marathon, so I could have had good competition when I was in peak condition. My exhaustion caused by my sleep apnea got worse this year, but I have high hopes for my lifestyle once I can have my tonsils removed.

I clearly raced a lot, but after a certain point I knew my plans were somewhat scrapped, so I just decided to have fun with it. In a more serious approach, I would have eliminated the following-Spring Thaw, Just a Short Run, Patterson, Ohio Valley, Riverview Park, Blazin, Brookline Breeze, Run Around the Square, Ohio Township.
I would have run the Genesis 5k if I couldn't have run the BAA 5k, and I would have run Cherry Blossom.
Racing summary (* serious efforts):

Feb 28 Spring Thaw 10 mile, North Park, Pittsburgh 3rd 56:42*
March 28 Just a Short Run 5k North Park, Pittsburgh 1st, 16:15*
April 12 Martha's Run 10k Mt. Lebanon, Pittsburgh 1st: 34:58
April 19 James Patterson 5k, Scituate, Mass. 1st, 16:16*
April 25 Genesis 10k, North Side, Pittsburgh, 1st 34:18*
May 3 Pittsburgh Marathon Relay, leg 1- 7.1 miles - 2nd 38:42*
May 10 Race for the Cure 5k, Schenley Park, Pittsburgh 3rd 16:30
May 16 Ohio Valley Hospital 5k, 1st 17;15
May 25 Kevin Gatons 5k, Greensburg 4th, 16:08*
June 7 Twin Boro 5k, Oakmont, 2nd, 16:07*
June 12 Riverview Park 5k, Pittsburgh, 1st 17:06
June 21 Fathers Day 5k, 2nd 15:47*
July 4 Brentwood, 25th, 16:49*
July 10 Blazin 5k 1st, 16:27
July 18 Run for Central Park 4 mile did not register, 22:12
July 25 Run for Roch 5k, 2nd 16:25
Aug 1 Debbie Green 5k, 7th 15:56*
Aug 8 Brookline Breeze 5k, 4th, 16:25
Aug 22 Run Around the Square 5k, 3rd 17:03
Aug 30 Steelers 5k, 6th 15:44*
Sept. 5 Richmond Alumni Race, 12th, 16:15*
Sept. 12 Ohio Township 5k, 1st 18:10
Sept. 27 Great Race 10k, 16th 33:39
Oct 3 Run Shadyside 5k, 2nd 16:41
Nov. 7, Candy Cane City 5k, 23rd 18:33
Nov. 26 YMCA Turkey Trot 5k, 14th 17:33
Nov. 26 Gutbuster 4 mile, 4th, no idea, pretty slow
Dec. 20 Ryan Jobes 5k 4th, 17:08

1 comment:

  1. Is your alter-ego Aaron Gemmill? Because that's your name at Candy Cane City!