I slept pretty well and got up at 5:15, and we drove down to the start. It might have been cold, but I didn't really notice. We warmed up, changed out shoes and headed to the starting line. I saw Ryan Lee, Pat Love and Paul Myer wearing the sharp new Richmond uniforms. Some dude in Vibrams tried to sneak up to the elite start, but he was appropriately shooed back. I mean, this guy's standing here, wearing little rubber toe shoes, expecting to be taken seriously...
The masses started fast, but things settled down within a minute and I moved into a nice pack with a tall VCU runner and a shorter Galen Rupp. We cruised up a slight hill heading west on Broad Street, watching the Afro-centric pack ahead of us and thankful we weren't trying to keep their pace up. We came through the mile in 4:57, though with the delayed start it was actually
4:55, and I felt pretty good. It was nice running with a pack. An African dropped off the lead pack and I pushed the pace to catch him. We got him right around two miles, crossing in 9:57. He tried to struggle and take the lead a minute or so later when we turned on Mulberry and Grace streets, but eventually he fell back again. Shortly after this turn, the tall and short guys pulled away from me slightly, along with a guy in black. I held on as much as I could, but I was losing ground.
My third mile split was 5:14, and I was not pleased with it. As the course started rolling, I put on a long surge to try to catch someone so I'd have a race on my hands at the finish. Every now and then, little Rupp would come back a little, but I couldn't close the gap. I was pleased to see my pace move back the way I wanted it with a 5:11, but I was hoping to be under 5:05. We made our turns onto Cary Street and I really made my move a little early. By the time I reached the .4 mile downhill stretch to the finish, I was kind of floating.
Spectators were cheering for Georgetown when I ran by,and it killed me not to be able to correct them, let them know I was a Spider. That compounded my frustration with the end of the race. I heard Emma Berry and Erin Lunny cheering halfway down the hill, but I wasn't kicking the way I expected and hoped to. You can see in the video both little Rupp and the guy behind me charging into the line, but I just kind of float. It's aggravating to watch. I just kind of stopped when I crossed the line, turned and watched people come in. Jason PRed by 20 seconds and Nicol was chasing him down, running 26:35.
I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I finished. From the four mile mark to the finish, I only ran 4:55, with a downhill like that I was expecting to be in the 4:40s. I feel I could have broken 25, and I blame it on my third mile- that's when the other guys, who did run in the 24s, got away from me. I'm not great at sprinting by myself, that's why I was pushing so hard to catch up with someone else for that last stretch. That all said, it was a 56-57 second PR, from my 2003 YMCA Turkey Trot. I can't believe it took almost eight years to break that PR, but I did it. I never slowed past 5:14, even when I was hurting, and I don't want to try to run faster than that next weekend. As fast as I ran relative to my previous PR, I wasn't exhausted at the end, and I definitely wasn't smelling lobster, my body's signal that I've pushed myself to exhaustion. I hope that means I have room to improve based on my overall training. If I smelled lobster under 25 minutes, I wouldn't be worried, but if I did at 25:18-19, then I would be a bit concerned about my chances to run fast for 13 miles. I left the race feeling pretty good, and the cold never bothered me.
We drove back to Emily's and cooled down from there, running out to Monument Avenue to watch the marathoners pass. Dave Miller looked pretty good at this point, but he was on his own. Of all people, I saw former Spider Sam Beese, then bumped into Julie Rechel, who was waiting for her roommate to run by. I jumped on the course after I ran out of grass median and joined the runners until they got to Cary, then I turned back and headed to Emily's. The weather was gorgeous, and even though I don't want to run a marathon, I think it would have been a good year to run Richmond. I couldn't stop smiling, regardless of my own race, to be in town for such a great day. I've thought this since 2009, but when it comes time to run a competitive marathon, Richmond is it for me. I love racing down here. I'm almost positive I will do the Monument Ave 10k next year, rather than the Cherry Blossom race. It will mean back-to-back weekends down there, following the Spider Relays, and I can't argue with that. I'll definitely do this 8k again.
The Spiders were at the regional meet, and it obviously didn't go as well as last year, but things are looking up.We had three freshmen in our top seven, and Ryan Lee redshirted. He had run 24:16 at the 8k, so he should be ready to go next year.
I headed over to campus to replace my hate that I left at Wiggy's in May and he apparently fed to his turtle. Then back to DC that evening.
The next morning, I was up just in time to grab my stuff and bike and get to the metro so I could watch the Veterans day 10k. I biked from
the first mile mark to the 5k, then back to the finish to watch the GRC go at it.
Around 3:30, I headed out for a longish run and did a shortened Brook. I was averaging under 6:00 pace through six miles, and I started to feel some intense abdominal pain. I slowed down a bit and jumped into the woods at mile seven to alleviate that pain, then got back to work, keeping things under 6:00 pace through 10 miles. Traffic got a little tight for a while on Old Dominion, as it always does, and I slowed a bit. I also missed the turn I wanted to make onto Mayflower and instead took Dolley Madison to where it crossed Mayflower. As I ran through the neighborhood between Westmoreland and Great Falls, I thought my timing must be off, and I must have slowed significantly, or really gotten lost. I hit the point a mile from home in 1:25 and thought I had slowed down completely. I jogged in, mapped my route, along with my intended route that was not much different, and I realized that I had mapped a 15-mile loop, not 14. Oops.
Monday evening I did a pretty sedate eight miles around Westmoreland. Tuesday I planned to do a peppy 13 miles in Annandale. Things were going pretty well, faster than 6:10 pace through six, then I hesitated and turned back when I wound up on a street that turned out to be correct, and added an extra mile to the loop. I knew I was way off and didn't a second longish run, so I stopped when I got to Grove and walked the rest of the way home after running 13.5.
Wednesday didn't go as well as I would have liked. Karl isn't running Philly anymore, so now I will have to latch onto strangers if I want to run in a pack for the half. I was looking forward to helping him pace the first half of his trials attempt -- having his goal in mind would have given me extra motivation to stay with the guys running 5:17-5:18, and it would have been fun. I still should be able to find people with whom to run who are staying loose in the first half of the marathon. I went to BCC to do my now-solitary race-pace run. I planning initially to do three miles, then when I came through the first in 5:16, decided to do 3xmile. I got in the back of the B pack when they started a mile, but didn't really feel like fighting to the front of the group and stopped after a lap. I didn't feel like running, said that to Jerry, and he said in that case I probably shouldn't be running, so I cooled down and headed home. On and off I started feeling some discomfort along the outside of my right foot. It's the first time I've felt anything like that, and though I immediately assumed the worst and decided it was a stress fracture (like I diagnosed with my right hip the days before I went to Oregon), it's probably just the hypersensitivity that comes with tapering and focus for a big race. Luckily the scheduling technicality makes this the penultimate race, decreasing a little pressure.
Philadelphia's Saturday night low is 43, a little warm, but after Chicago, I can't complain. No rain is in the forecast as of Thursday afternoon. Then again, I did fine with rain at the Freedom's Run race. As much of a breakthrough effort as that was for me, and the fun I had doing, I am looking forward to running a pretty fast course with other people this weekend. I, for one, am happy the half and full marathons use the same course for 13 miles, though I'm sure the marathon runners won't be pleased to see the half guys splitting off and heading home.