Monday, May 31, 2010
The Gatons race has become a great chance for high schoolers, fresh off of the state meet, to come out and take a shot at a 5k after months races of two miles or less. The result is a 4:40 first mile every year.The last three years, I have been at the head of the pack through the mile, and three years ago I surged ahead and dropped everyone else. The last two years I have made it into the third mile before I fell off when we hit the downhills.
This year I was facing a little more intense heat. I got a late start heading out to Greensburg and arrived about 40 minutes before the race started. After hitting the bathroom and getting registered, it was 30 minutes. Having been stymied by the course last year, I wanted to run it completely as a warmup. Shafer accompanied me for the first mile, then turned back. When I got to the second mile mark, I told some girls managing the water stop that I wanted someone to throw water in my face when I passed by, because I would likely need it. The weather was rough...After changing into my flats, I saw who I would be up against. No Moravec or Becker this year, but the trio of Mt. Lebanon guys who made states had shown up- Rad Guzenhauser (9:07 3200m), Sean Staltari (9:27 3200m) and Alex Moran (4:20 1600m). As proud as I was that they made it to states, I was loathe to be beaten by them, so that ratcheted up the pressure. When Rad introduced me to a kid from North Hills who ran 9:15 a few days before, I realized that the race was only getting tougher and I would have to run beyond what I had displayed a capacity to do previously this year, if I wanted to win. All I could do was go out with the leaders and hope their orientation toward shorter races would come to the surface and my long-distance training would pay off.None such luck.
The gun went off and I, as always, was far behind. I moved up swiftly, but the effort to do so drained me. I felt like my legs were gone not even a half mile into the race. Bobby Wolfe from Baldwin took it out hard. Everyone chased him. They had the legs to do so. I had four 400s under 72 seconds to my name in the last year- I was not going to be running 4:40 this year.
The first mile was a warm mess, and I split 4:59. I knew that wouldn't last, with the course's main hills coming up in the second mile. I started to drop back, realizing I was putting myself in jeopardy, not of losing the race, but of putting myself through more pain than was necessary. This wasn't a race to try to win, it was a workout with other people. 10:35 for the second mile. Yeesh. I started to jog toward the top of the hill. Shafer came up on my left. We reached the water stop. Nothing. They didn't throw the water on me. Finally, pointing to my face activated the last teenage girl to fling the cup....right into my stomach. Great, none of the relief for my face, but plenty of water added to the sweat in my shorts and shoes, which were starting to sound like sponges.
It did provoke me to speed up a little and use the downhills. I was more aggressive in the third mile this year, though the uphill near the stereo store flummoxed me. At this point, I knew sub 15:30, sub-16 and 16:25 (my typical 5k time, sadly) were out of the picture -- I just wanted to fend off Shafer, Jim Hommes and Brandon G so I could be the first Hound across the line. My kick was nonexistant, I just kind of faded into the finish line, as some Norwin runner outkicked me.
I snuck under 17:00- 16:59.1, and held off Shafer (17:05) Jim (17:06) and Brandon (17:14). I was just a little less than one minute behind Wolfe, who won. The slower winning time (about 23 seconds faster than typically) made me feel a little bit better later on, but first, I wanted to get a four-mile cooldown so I could have 11 for the day. After heading off with the Hounds and some of Jim's runners, I immediately fell back and struggled through a rough time. I ended up cutting it off at three miles.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Sunday morning, after a thankfully dry wedding, I went out to Robin Garber's place in Ingram to meet her for a run. We set off to explore the Montour Rail line that runs parallel to Chartiers Creek. She turned back after three miles, and after some missteps, I found the trail, but not exactly as I had envisioned it from the satellite map. I kept following the train tracks, until I looked at my watch and saw 45 minutes. I should have crossed the creek and been halfway through McKees Rocks by now! I climbed up a hill and looked over the trees to the creek- but it was a good bit wider than I expected. Oh dear, it was the Ohio River... I backtracked until I saw the Radcliffe bridge in Esplen, crossed it then found the Linden Bridge to McKees Rocks. There were no trees along the route, and the sun was starting to get to me, so I scrapped the plan to run along the west bank of the creek and took the Windgap Bridge back into the city and through Windgap and Fairywood back to Robin's place.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Wednesday was five miles in the morning, then a parallelogram loop of southeast, during which my good mp3 player shorted out.
Thursday I did a short workout in the morning, but had to add three+ miles around the Capitol after work, which was sweltering.
Friday, I got into work early and did a half marathon around the Tidal Basin and Hains Point, during which I saw Dickson running.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I ended up offering to help the Striders stuff bags for their race instead, then Laura O'Hara suggested I run with her. She would be ready at 6:15, so I started off down Massachusetts to Potomac and Pennsylvania in Southeast and added a lap around the Capitol and the Botanical Gardens.
Laura took me down the mall and over the 14th street bridge to the Mt. Vernon trail and a loop around the Iwo Jima Memorial. At this point, I was reaching about 10 miles and the heat and humidity had me worn down, but she kept me going. We ran into Klim and Dickson near the Lincoln Memorial and headed around the Capitol and then I headed back to the office for a cold shower. I felt pretty darn good, having totaled about 16.75 miles in the conditions prevalent that afternoon.
I unfortunately did not remember my calf compression sleeves, which I have come to really enjoy. I think they'll work wonders after long runs, though I am making it a habit of wearing them after most runs of six miles or longer.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Short story: I shelved the race about 4k in because things were looking increasingly bleak in terms of both hitting my time and remaining conscious while maintaining a competitive pace.
Long story: I spent the last few months preparing for a race- my first at the distance but one that was certainly within reach. My races prior to it trended toward me being able to meet my goal. The race, the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, was in my home town, where dozens of my friends and acquaintances would be watching and cheering. After seven months away, I wanted to demonstrate that I had made a significant jump in my fitness, able to keep a solid effort up over 13.1 miles. I wanted each of the cheers I heard from my friends to keep me speeding up as I charged for home, dipping under 5:20 as I covered the last 5k.
I woke up at 5:30 to prepare for my 6:00 shakeout run with Matt Ciccone around Chatham Village. I ran shirtless and sweat was rolling a half mile in. When we drove downhill to the Strip District, the air was even thicker. I warmed up along Liberty Avenue and trudged back to the starting line on Smallman Street and met up with a few familiar runners. Sheehan and Weiss warmed up with a little more focus, meanwhile I turned around and saw Chris Geddis charging toward me with a smile and a hearty handshake. Kristin and Kara Price were there, along with my Hound teammates- Brandon G, Jim Hommes, Eric Laughlin, Rirch Crowley, Greg Byrnes, Ryan Erdley, Timmy Wu!
We're all pressed back behind the line. It was getting awfully warm. Sweat poured off of my body. This is the most uncomfortable I have felt in a long time, and besides a few strides I hadn't made any strenuous movements. It wasn't blazingly hot, but it was so humid I am amazed the air could hold the moisture.
HERE WE GO
The gun goes off. Everyone charges ahead. I stay cool, glad to suddenly be out of a crowd of 98-degree bundles of muscle, respiration and perspiration.
Not a half mile in I come up on Andrew Sutherland's shoulder.
"What are you aiming for?"
"1:11, but starting out at 5:30."
"Well, we're not going to hit 5:30 this far back."
The Canadian made a point. I sped up a little, but carefully. I wanted to stay fresh...
Hallie is on the right side of the street, the same place as she was last year. I give her a thumbs up and a smile. I'm biding my time...
Eric Shafer limps off the course! What's going on? Jim runs over to him, grabs something and gets going. I pass him, Rich Crowley and a few other Hounds who I expect to be running in the 1:15-1:18 range.
One mile- 5:26 high. A little fast, but alright. The rest of the lead pack is far ahead, and a lot of the people I figured would be farther back are going out hard. I'm running close to even splits for a 1:11, I know they can't all be...
I catch up with Greg before the turns onto Butler Street and Penn Avenue. There's Matt Hannigan! 5:38? uh oh, I hadn't felt myself slip so much, but I guess I need to start pushing. About two and a half minutes later, I started to feel some numbness in the back of my neck. What???? Are you serious? Steve Strelick yells for me "COME ON CHARLIE, YOU CAN DO THIS!"
He's right. I can. We ran harder than that for our tempos last year on a hilly-as-hell course in Schenley Park. 5:20s after a 5:05 first mile uphill. I miss training with him, his self-deprecating humor matched mine pretty well. I remember that we ran those times in below-freezing temperatures. Big difference. Brian Quinn is on a bike, cheering. I start to look around and see black splotches in the bottom halves of my eyes. It reminded me of the Rock and Run 5k in 2004, which I decided to run eight hours before and nearly passed out at the end. I wasn't even 5k into this race. About three minutes later, I couldn't run any faster.
That was it.
I thought about what it would take to catch back up to my pace. I thought about what it would take to do the bare minimum to hit my goal. They were all too far for me. I cursed myself for not being able to push through it. Despite all my training, I wasn't prepared to do everything. I couldn't force it. At the very basic, I couldn't do it. I was incapable. My head had suddenly gotten very warm, too much to handle. I was getting dizzy, my scalp was itching from the inside out.
Bradon G passed me, told me to come on. No. I won't.
I saw Hallie, gave her a thumbs down. I dropped to a jog. I think I figured I might as well run the course, as long as I was there. Also, I wanted to make sure the results reflected the number of participants, so I was somewhat committed. Rachel Yacono was there on Penn Avenue, but I gave her a thumbs down, too. Paul McCaffery ran by. So did Mad Dog Jones. The Wildfires, such great supporters, were there right before the 16th Street Bridge. I talked to a blind veteran running the race with an attendant. As I hit the North Side, Ryan stopped for a few seconds so I caught up with him. Pat Fisher passed me some time around then. Then Kristin Price. Timmy Wu sometime around then. I caught up to Andrew Sutherland, and he started struggling at this point.
I saw Matt Meurer in West Park and I made some faces at him. He had guessed I would run 1:29:30 as a joke, but it was coming true. Doen't'at beat all?
Phoebe Ko got me coming back around the park. I saw Jeff Hains, not-so-fresh off of his race in Boston two weeks before, chasing me down... well, not really, but it was happening. There goes Dave Masse...
Javed Gangjee, the most mobile and enthusiastic road race cheerer, got me coming off of Allegheny Commons.
"KEEP YOUR HEAD UP! YOU CAN DO IT CHARLIE!"
Not what I wanted to hear, but I can't fault him for trying. When you are running well, you want the entire world out there to see it. When your presence on the roads makes it smell like an open sewer in Bogota, then you want the roads likewise deserted from people trying to escape the stench. Despite the water falling from the sky, people were out there. It wasn't rain, it was more like the sky was just bleeding. Rain relieves the ambient humidity and cools you off. This wasn't rain...
I crossed the bridges to get to the North Shore and saw a digital display outside of a bank- 72 degrees. It was a little past 8:10 a.m. At this point I was regretting my choice to keep running. It was no longer even fun. I wanted to go home. As I passed the Hyde Park Steakhouse, on one of the stretches I thought would be fun and fast, I looked over and saw Michelle Corkum. Her pace was blowing me away. I tried to keep up to help keep her company, but I gave up on that and started cheering instead. Someone else passed me then. I can't remember who. As I climbed the West End bridge ramp, Jess Gangjee passed me., so did Carl Hubel. I cheered my lungs out for her as we crossed the bridge and she faded from my sight. A crowd lined Carson Street at the end of the bridge, and I thanked the West End for coming out. Brooke Smith saw me and yelled, though for a while I thought it was Beckie Hollerman. Some dude who was running without a shirt wished me luck and I said "Oh, I'm not racing, I'm just enjoying a run."
A total lie. I wasn't enjoying this. I was regretting it and hating myself with the same thoughts. The dumbest thing I did was keep going. Whoever said there was any kind of honor in finishing everything you start was a moron. Larry Quinn, his wife Liz and their dog, Little Donnie Iris, were at Station Square. Gillian Sowray was handing out water near the incline and for the second straight year, she saw the look of dejection on my face during this race. I saw Breen Masciotra a few blocks later, then Ed Koontz passed me. The last two miles were nothing but misery and more misery. I was tired, depressed, devastated and furious at the same time. I saw Javed once more as I was crossing the Smithfield Street Bridge. He had skillfully toned down his cheering, just letting me know I was close to the end.
Scores of cheerleaders from Plum lined the street in front of Kauffman's and I wanted to punch every one of them. Everyone who cheered for me was a total effing moron. They clearly didn't know good running if it kicked them in their moronic faces. I was fed up by the last turn, and then I saw Coach Wright and we made eye contact. He reached for me when I crossed the line and asked me if I was okay. All I could ask was if Ryan had won- he had! I let out a whoop and he told me to be serious- was I okay? Be honest... I tried to explain that 'it' wasn't happening and I just gave up on the race... He handed me off to a volunteer, saying "he doesn't usually finish back here, keep an eye on him." I led the volunteer around as I wandered the finish area. I saw Michelle and Heath. Jack Hartnell told me I'd be glad I did this someday. Someone gave me a medal. I tried to throw it into the Allegheny River in an act of defiance, but it hit a fence three feet ahead of me and fell to the ground. Dr. Eric Anish turned around and the volunteer told him I needed to go to "the tent." He led me in and a nice group of pediatric nurses took over. I begged them not to use a rectal thermometer and they had me lie down on a cot, packed my head and neck with ice and I watched and laughed as people tripped over the median in the road.
My long run workout one Sunday afternoon in March, during when I averaged 6:00 pace for almost 15 miles, would have taken me through the half marathon point in 1:18:39, good for 21st place, and the day I ran that I stopped for traffic on the road!
There was no honor or character building in finishing the race as I did. My name is etched in results that I want to forget. I do feel smart that I didn't keep racing. I was so hyped for this race that if I had tried to race, balls out, with a hope for achieving my goal when the likelihood was so slim that I would achieve it, I would have been devastated. I would have probably hurt myself or exhausted myself in weather that was too much for me. What the day amounted to was a short tempo run and a long cooldown. Granted, it ended up being slower than a distance run on a normal day.
The part that hurts the most is that people, either not knowing any better or trying to be helpful, tell me good job. They're trying to help and be supportive, but it is depressing to hear that repeatedly when I know it was the slowest pace I have ever run for a race. My marathon, when I ran like a clown and started in the back, ended up 20 seconds per mile faster.
There ya' go...
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Saturday, May 1, 2010
It's time. The weather might be a little warm, but that will just keep me from feeling too spry at the start. If I going to feel good, I'll need it 40 minutes in.
When I see this church ahead of me, I'd better be feeling like I'm running too slowly. My last 5:17, 5:13, 5:05. I don't want to be anywhere near those times. 5:30. 5:25 at the fastest.
I took Thursday off, I was toast. I ran an easy 9.5 Friday afternoon, to get adjusted to running in warmer weather. An easy three on the Mt. Lebanon track and cross country course followed by some drills within an earshot of Coach Wentzel instructing some high school hurdling girls on their form. That man's voice always makes me chuckle...
I'm excited by some early results at the Atlantic 10 track championships. Matt Llano won the 10k in 29:43, Tim Quinn earned his first medal in the 10k with a third place in 30:23 (who PRs at a conference meet?) and Chris York earned a point with a 31:26. Julie Rechel finished second in the women's 10k in 36:00 after a long battle with balance issues and Erin Lunny snuck under 37 to finish fifth. Garrett Graham hit 9:35 in the steeple, which I didn't realize he even did, and he'll be rarin' to go for the 1500 tomorrow. It's a good day to be a Spider, I'm ready to make tomorrow one, too.