"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

Monday, August 29, 2011

I remembered how to race

My workout race Thursday evening was okay. It was extremely humid, and my decision to run in my gray GRC shirt was questionable. I blazed from the start, a little too fast, because I let up in the last minute of the first mile, which I covered in 5:00, I think. I eased up for a minute, during which an Ethiopian passed me. I would catch him on my fast minutes, then drop when I slowed down, and he was visibly confused as to what I was doing. He left me behind in my third recovery, and I definitely slowed down on my own, though my last 30 seconds were great. I won a gift certificate to the Chris Sloane Running Company. During my cooldown with Laura, a delightful cool breeze transformed the climate, something we could have used 30 minutes prior.

Friday morning was just an easy seven miles on the Pimmit Run Trail. I should finally be able to do some more work on it Tuesday afternoon.

My Megabus trip back took 6:40, thanks to traffic escaping Hurricane Irene. By the time I got to Pittsburgh, my knee and hip joints were about ready to fall out. Dad made linguine with clam sauce and I got to play with Arnie.

The weather was cool but humid in the morning for the Run Around the Square. I knew it wouldn't be an easy race when I saw Curt Larimer. The course isn't very fast, with a flat first mile, an uphill mile+ and less than a mile downhill. Only former Hounds Joe Mahoney and Dan Lesser have broken 16:00 there, and some good runners have raced there. It's a good course, though, and a wonderful race, usually boasting more than 1200 finishers.

We started out fast, and even the mile that is on the road is hard, because the bricks on Milton Street are really uneven. There are dips three feet away from a rise, and it really pays to know the road's contours. It's almost like running through a field that's been torn up, despite the brick surface. It's a fun element to the race. I tucked into the pack behind Playmaker and a dude in red. Some guy in green was directly to my right and someone else was on my heels. My heart and lungs caught up with my legs when we made our first turn.

We turned down the steep hill into Frick Park and Red came hurtling down the hill, almost like he had tripped and was constantly catching himself and we descended, but he was moving with enough confidence that he thought he was going to break the race open. Well, he didn't. Within 30 seconds, the pack, which I was leading by that point, swallowed him up and left him behind, because whoever he was, he didn't break 17, unless he was banditing. He couldn't have run the race before, because nobody in their right mind would try to run away from the pack we had that early in the race with two long hills ahead of him. Playmaker and I started dueling up with hill, and I had a step on him, as we came through the mile in 5:00. When we crested the hill, I put on about seven fast steps to get the flat stretch off on the right foot, and I think I moved a few times to block a pursuer. "Gamesmanship!" Dave Wilson said later. I maintained a slight lead as we rounded the ballfields on South Braddock Ave, wanting to be in position to speed up when we hit the second uphill trail and blow it up with a mile to go, but felt a little worried when we turned onto the sidewalk, whoever was on my tail wasn't interested in running with me.

I swung a little wide on the left turn onto Forbes, and stepped onto the street, for no reason apparently. A few seconds later, Curt and t-shirt passed me, then Playmaker. I jumped back onto the sidewalk before we crossed the bridge, which had a knee-height cement barrier protecting the sidewalk. T-shirt hurdled it, now in a battle with Curt. The pack was moving away from me and I thought I saw Green out of the corner of my eye, but evidently not. I let the three leaders pull away, but once we turned back onto the trail, I just moving again. I remembered how broken I felt in 2009 when Remix and ERF Chaunce dropped me, and I realized I wasn't going to gain anything jogging it in. I couldn't see anyone directly ahead of me, but I knew he was up there somewhere. I hacked away at the hill, and wondered when I'd see the two "mile" mark, which is more like 2.1. When I crossed it in 6:28 (I know... but the whole mile is uphill) Playmaker was about 50 yards ahead of me. We had more climbing to do, and I kept after him.

When we crested the hill, my left foot slipped and I yanked my ankle. It hurt like hell, and I decided that maybe it would make the heavy breathing I was about to do feel a lot less terrible. I launched myself down the hill, intent on catching Playmaker. It's pretty darn hard to catch someone down a hill, but I decided I wasn't going to let him beat me. I didn't know it at the time, but I had a comfortable lead on Andrew Bell. I just started running recklessly down the hill, with a late-race intensity I haven't felt in a long time. I passed Playmaker with about a third of a mile left and put some distance on him. I was shocked and how I was able to fight back there. I eased up a little with about a minute left and I heard him on my tail, so I pushed again and held him off by two seconds to finish in 16:24. It was a second faster than I ran when I won it in 2008. I checked old results later, and only once or twice was my time not good enough for second place. T-shirt (Pat Dantzer) and Curt had run 15:57 and 15:59, by far the best top two the race had ever seen, and Playmaker (Chris Stoddard) was two seconds behind me, so if anyone could see the race in the woods, they got two good shows.

While I'm not crazy to have lost -- had I at least stuck with the leaders in mile two I would have had a chance -- I was pleased to have been able to recover and run Playmaker down in the last mile. It seemed for a while like it would be a lost race, but I recovered well. When I think back to the time I started chasing him in earnest and when I caught him, I'm amazed that I was able to do it, and as fast as I did. If nothing else, I regained some resilience and courage that I had been missing for a few years. The prize was a gift certificate to New Balance, but they didn't have much worth buying, so I picked up some socks and bodyglide. At least it wasn't another Elite Runners and Walkers gift certificate...
Dan Holland raced, the only Hound to compete.

Sunday morning I headed to the West End for my favorite long run loop- 20 miles. I made a few changes for some turns, so the mile markers were very general.

I woke up at 7:30, not terribly excited to run. After dropping my bottle off, I finally got started at 8:30. I was hoping to get going early enough that I'd be heading down Noblestown Road when Nate and his gang were heading up, but that would have required me to start much earlier. I definitely felt the race still in my legs when I got started, somehow the flat stretch on Wabash Street felt the same to me as when I started climbing Steuben and Chartiers. My first change was turning onto Stafford and Stadium, a long downhill and a steep uphill. When I got to the top and hit Motor Street, a nice breeze cooled me off. Sheraden Park looked really nice, as did the hillside near the pool for which I coordinated the landscaping work in June. I picked it up, relatively, a bit in the Sheraden Park coop, then slowed down when I climbed Kelvin and Mutual, another slight change.

I didn't exactly roll down Chartiers past the cemetary, and I knew it wouldn't be a fast run. My calves were really sore, so I decided to just finish it and not try to run too fast. I grabbed my bottle or raspberry lemonade propel that I found in a cabinet, took a few swigs and dropped it at the top of Broadhead Fording. The Ingram section was uneventful, and someone said hi to me on West Prospect when I got into Fairywood. Man, that neighborhood is just so run down and isolated. I ran through the project and past the Giant Eagle distribution center, the most hopping place in the area, and jumped on the tracks. I had to walk over most of the rocks near the railroad yard fence. The weeds had grown pretty tall and dry near Napor, but they didn't itch too much when I ran right through them. Someone was walking along the Industrial Highway, which seemed to fly by, but also look like it was hilly for some reason. The sun wasn't terribly hot, and when I got to Mazette, it was overcast enough that I didn't notice it. Some blonde girl almost hit me with her car in Emerald Gardens.

I grabbed my propel and headed up Clearfield, which was completely overgrown- I had to slow to climb it, which gave me a good chance to drink more. It's a ridiculous hill, really. Middletown Road was no better, though I really didn't have any trouble climbing it. When I got to the bottom of Stratmore I left the bottle and my shirt and just kind of cruised in the last few miles, not going too fast and not having any doubt about finishing, unlike last week's sweat box. I noticed a little trail between Clearview and Crafton, maybe that would be better than the brick laden, and uneven,Clearview. I explored a bit in Crafton Heights, and when I hit Noblestown, I just cruised it in, giving my legs a break, though I love to just tear it up for those last two miles. I finished with 20.75, averaged 7:01 and was tired for the rest of the day. The hills were rough, but I was never too tired to keep going, I was just beaten up from the bus ride, the race and almost 21 miles of climbing and descending.

Monday morning, I ran at 5:15 before taking the bus back to Washington. I just did eight laps of Chatham Village- 3/4 mile. I was surprised to run 5:29 for the first, then 4:58, then six 4:45s.

No comments:

Post a Comment