I do most of my running on my own, but racing by myself isn't as fun.
When I realized, a half mile in, that nobody at the Van Metre Five Mile was running my pace, I reasoned that I could run way over my head to stick with the lead pack or drop back and fend for myself. I chose the latter and hoped my tendency to run fast even when I felt like garbage would continue. I came through the long first mile in 5:16, feeling pretty good.
I lost sight of the lead pack during the second mile when they wove through a neighborhood. The only target I had was an african in a blue singlet who dropped off, stretched for a second, then started chasing the lead pack. I thought I could run with him for a bit, but then he dropped out for good. The second mile included some downhills, but the wind held me back a bit. I came through two in 5:20, About five seconds slower than I thought I was going. The third mile started with a long uphill, a turnaround and a long downhill. I saw Karl racing Gurmessa and the Platypus and yelled for him, but realized quickly that was a bad idea if I was trying to run fast myself. Coming down the hill was harder than climbing it, because all of my expectations were geared toward being able to roll down it. The wind once again prevented me from really enjoying myself, and to be honest, I stopped racing. I just got lonely. I saw Jerry at about 3.5 and he told me to aim to catch the people in front of me, but I had no idea where they were I wen 5:30 and 5:35 in miles three and four, and as I passed the four mile mark, the guy calling out splits kept going. I wondered if I had anyone close to me and to my shock I did. Even though there was nothing at stake, I got competitive again and held him off to finish seventh in 26:55. Far from a PR, even farther from a good race, but 28 seconds faster than my race at the St. Patrick's Day 8k in 2010.
I was hoping to go out there and surprise myself, but honestly it was pretty hard with nobody close to my pace. Sixth place was 25:17, so nowhere close to me. After a cooldown and trip home, I took a nap and went out for an easy five, totaling 20 for the day and 90 for the week.
The next morning, I went out to Edward's Ferry with Matias, his buddy Mike, Outlaw, Karl and Sam. We started fast, and hung between 6:30-6:40 for most of the first 15 miles. I started to have some intestinal issues, so my last three miles were slower as a result, plus I noticed a but of blood soaking my shoe thanks to a bit of trail debris that had gotten into my right shoe. I also just felt tired, but it kept me from getting out of control at the end of the run. 38.5 miles in two days is no joke. The nap after that run was absolutely perfect.
Monday, I had the battery replaced in my heart rate monitor watch and I went out for a simple 12.25 mile run around Fairview Park. For the most part, I kept my heart rate around 145-150 and averaged 6:38 pace. It was pretty humid, and I got a good preview of what the summer is going to feel like on a good day.
Tuesday morning I did my first morning run in as long as I could remember, a 3.25 Fisherman.
In the evening I grabbed my flats and headed out to George Marshall High School for a 4xmile workout with a faster quarter migrating throughout the workout. When I got there, 2.5 miles later, I was dismayed to find two soccer teams taking the field. I thought about giving McLean High School a shot, so I ran another 2.5 miles there, finding another soccer game in progress. I ran two more miles to the Greenwich Road Mile, but I knew it wouldn't suffice. As much as I love that loop, it isn't a substitute for a fast, precise track workout. There is no real flat stretch to speak of, and three quarters are rolling, with a steep uphill toward the end. It would clearly not work for these miles, but I gave one a shot. My rudimentary splits came out to 75, 70, 78, 75 for a 4:58 high, but honestly the effort was equivalent to a much faster mile on the track. For all the progress I have made in my track pacing, and it has been a lot this year, I am useless on that undulating road mile. I tried to do a second mile a few times, but rarely made it more than 300m. I decided to bag it and, with Lindsey's suggestion, try again in the morning.
Wednesday morning went a little better, if only because I didn't bother with McLean. When I got to Marshall at 8 am, a gym class was making its way to the track. For God's sake, who has gym at 8 am? So, I'll scrap the workout this week. I'll rest for the Fred Hardy Invitational 5k Friday night. Despite my disappointing race on Saturday, I feel much better about my chances. It's an evening race, and I tend to do better running then. It's on the track, so even if I am alone I can get feedback from splits. I'm unlikely to be alone, hopefully I can tuck into a pack and get two miles out of the way under 5:00 pace. Also, it's a track, no hills, it's well protected from the wind, and I really haven't been training for five miles lately. Hopefully the good and the bad from Van Metre will figure into my approach to running a 5k close to my expectations.
Friday night's 5k will be my first track race in six years. I have no idea if I am ready for it.