"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

Friday, January 8, 2010

Best Races #10

YMCA Turkey Trot, 2003- I was disappointed yet understanding about my senior cross country season. I had improved only four seconds over 8k (though the initial PR the year before as on a course reputed to be short) and I struggled to find consistency, even on the easy flat course in Orlando. Part of it I attributed to my inexperience, even at 21. I ran in a dysfunctional program at against poor Division III competition where I coached myself--extrapolating my high school coach's teachings to a longer race, took a year off, then trained myself into both good shape and a stress fracture before running only one Division I race. When I balanced the need for an aggressive start against my propensity to start too fast to stay in position, I found mild success- I made big moves at the LaSalle and William and Mary races, but when it came time for the Atlantic 10 championships, I took the first half way too easy. I moved up significantly, passing 30-some runners over the last two miles, but I was too far back to make a difference. Although I finished seventh on the team, I found no fault with my coach's decision to race my friend who tended more towards long distances in my place at the regional meet two weeks later. I wasn't happy about it, because I failed to put myself in a position where keeping me in the race was a no-brainer.
I tell that story to set the stage for the race. I continued training past the end of the collegiate season, running a pretty strong mile workout on the track by myself. If nothing else, continuing to hammer away while my teammates took their time off gave me added confidence in the volume of my work.
My chance to make something of my training came on Thanksgiving, when the Greater Pittsburgh YMCA debuted its new five mile course. The old course, an out-and-back on the Jail Trail, was flat and fast, but awfully boring and crowded. The new course was much more scenic, albeit windy. It ran along all three rivers and was a wonderful change.

I started at a measured pace, about 5:20 through the first mile, which had a few dramatic turns in Point State Park. I was a good bit behind Brad Hunt, who was then an assistant coach at Kent State, who regularly came to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving. I tried to follow him, but focused more on keeping a steady pace while running alone. It was a pretty lonely 2.75 miles until shortly after the turnaround, when I started running into the crowds. Amazingly, they left room for me on a narrow sidewalk and I heard a lot of my name from friends in the crowd. I dropped a 5:05 in the next mile, but as I started to deal with the turns in the park again, my curiousity got the best of me and I started looking back to see where my pursuers were. Pharaoh Hounds (before I knew them) Jim Hommes and Hans Rottman and Roch Ferguiele were close behind, so I started running for my life. I ended up second in 26:15, a 35 second PR, and substantial for me, having run alone for the entire race. It remains my five-mile PR, but I don't run it much.

1. Brad Hunt 25:21
2.Charlie Ban 26:15
3.Jim Hommes 26:27
4.Hans Rottman 26:50
5.Jeff Haines 26:51

The above picture is actually from the 2006 race, when I stuck with Brad Hunt for four miles, he still beat me, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment