I followed the miserable race with an equally miserable 5.5 miles around the National Harbor Saturday evening. I was volunteering at the finish festival of the Ragnar relay race to support the RUN LOVES. It was pretty darned hot by the time I arrived, though the trip itself was a pain- two metro lines, one of which was offloaded two stops away from the bus I had to catch and ride for a half hour to get to the harbor. I ended up running laps around a gravel parking lot near the river and exploring an undeveloped but excavated hillside. The volunteer coordinators sent Joanna and me off to a parking lot, where we had few instructions, so I rejected as many people as I could. Eventually we turned our stuff in and left.
Sunday morning, I slept in a bit before heading out for my last long run. Alex was supposed to join me for seven miles, but he was a little baby and slept in. So, I headed out in the rain. I carried a bottle half filled with solid ice and half with water until the four-mile mark and left it there and wasn't too into the run, but miles five through 11 went swimmingly. Shortly after mile 12, I started to get depleted, and it made sense, given my lack of breakfast. I started to worry, especially because I couldn't find Wolftrap Road, which was supposed to take me back through to Gallows Road. I ended up winging it at eventually heading down Follin and Electric, but right about when I passed the finish line from the Navy Federal 5k, a little more than 13 miles in, I felt sudden dread and didn't want to go on. I was several miles from home, so I had to. I just continued on my route until I found my water bottle. I scarfed down a Gu and had some water and dutifully followed the route I had regained. A few minutes later, when I hit the W&OD, I felt much better. Carrying the water was a pain, but I now had half-mile marks to guide me. I hit 6:20 for the next mile with a slight slowdown at the top of the hill climbing the overpass for I-66, then took the next mile, with a road bisecting the mile, and I finished in 5:52. I cut one of the loops from the course that would have made it 20, so I wasn't too happy with 1:57 for what I thought to be 17 miles- it would make my average pace 6:52. When I remeasured, however, I found it to be 18.2 miles, a much more palatable 6:25 pace.
I figured out my optimal fueling schedule for Chicago- eight miles, 15 miles, 20 miles. That is a big step. It might somewhat interrupt when I am getting in a good groove, but it will prevent those deep chasms from forming, like I saw after 13.
Monday I just ran an easy 5.1 around Capitol Hill, sweated like crazy with a lot of humidity.
Tuesday I ran 8.1 at 6:20 pace on Westmoreland.
Wednesday I went to the track for a light workout, felt a little light-headed. Did a mile in 4:58 behind Dickson and Wiggy, felt okay, after 300 meters of the second one, I thought to myself, "I don't want to run fast anymore," so I stopped and jogged the rest.
It was pouring Thursday morning, so I didn't run to work. Then I decided in the middle of the day to take a break.
I spent Friday morning waiting for results from the Paul Short invitational in Bethlehem, Pa. Richmond's men's team was opening its season there, and I was eager to see what the guys could do after hard summer training and being cooped up for the first month of the semester. After hours of refreshing the meet website and Steve's Twitter feed, I saw some good things: a sixth place finish, with a 3-6 by Andrew Benford and Matt Llano, with Tim Quinn in 24th (23:52, 24:01, 24:31). Levi Grandt was a little ill, coming in 89th (25:09) and Chris York coming in 13 spots back, despite trailing by only three seconds.
More than nine inches of rain fell before the race, and I believe it was still raining when the gun went off, though Molz didn't think the course was affected too much, though I don't think he was there to see how bad it was. They ran both open races first, so that certainly chewed up the course a little. Roads were flooded going into Lehigh's campus, so I believe our men got a ride from the Columbia team. Pat Barkhuff was there, and he said the rain during the race wasn't overwhelming. After watching the race video, however, I saw a pretty ugly course at some points. Lots of water on the course, a 90-degree turn in ankle deep water, etc. It was definitely slower than usual. Pretty much everything I saw after the 5k mark looked sloppy.
Our top three are outstanding- Benford, Llano and Quinn are all running soldily and equipped themselves well throughout the race. The glut of finishers started around 62nd place- at 25:00- 60 men finished in the space of 20 seconds. Unfortunately, two were our fourth and fifth finishers. Hopefully this reminder of just how brutally tight big races are will be a wakeup call for Levi and York. Ryan Lee had a decent collegiate 8k debut- he's seeing what racing is all about and will be better prepared for Pre-Nationals in two weeks. Skipper, well, I don't know much about Skipper. Jon Wilson raced again.
I'll close by paraphrasing what Steve told us after the 2003 William and Mary Invitational.
"That's what racing's all about guys, the unknown. What happens when you push yourself when it's all on the line? You don't know, but you need to know what you're made of. You can start off great, but you need to be ready to push when you get to the late stages of the race. It's like the Doors' song- you break on through to the other side. You look at the gateway of miles four and five and it's dark, you don't know what's in there, but then second you step in, all the lights come on and you're in for a fight, but you know..."
Then I started rubbing the back of TC Booyeah's thigh with the two navel oranges I had in a bag that I stuffed in my pants.