Monday, August 31, 2009

Windrunner 10K Race Report

Let's cut to the chase, here's the lowdown on yesterday's race. Whoa! Don King got a hold of my keyboard for a second.

It was a really cool morning, right around 60 out in the Western Suburbs. I got down to the course at abour 7:25 for the 8:00 race. I went and grabbed my bib and talked to my former boss (from a previous job) for a few minutes. His running club puts on this race every year. The race is really well run, the course is nice and they have the best post-race food I have ever had. Fresh fruit, bagels, pizza, and a restaurant also provides some finer foods like brie cheese, roasted duck, roasted chicken breast and some fresh salmon. It's really amazing.

So, I had some time after I went back to my car and pinned on the bib and changed into my shoes. Then I took down a nice vanilla Gu, did an easy warm up mile and was running by the start line area when I heard that the race was going to start 10 minutes late. No problem, I thought, it'd give me enough time to get another easy mile in. So I finished my second mile and headed over to the start line.

I was chatting with a couple guys at the start line as we were waiting for the race to start. The younger of the two was wearing some nice, tight, blue shorts and a running club singlet. Pretty serious stuff. The other guy was a bit older, but was a nice guy. As we were chatting, the younger mentioned that he blew up in the last six miles at Grandma's Marathon and ran a 3:0X. I suppose blow-ups are all relative. The other guy said he was trying to hit a 1:19 half the following weekend. I decided at that point to make sure I did not run with those two out of the gate. Just before the race started, I asked the younger guy if he was going to win this race. He replied, " Don't know, that guy (nodded to his left to some other guy) is pretty fast." The results are not officially posted yet so I don't know his time, but the younger guy did finish first overall.

With that, the horn sounded and we were off. The first and last 75-100 yards of the race are in grass. It was a very wet at the beginning, so I was trying to make sure I didn't lose my footing. After the grass ends, there's a sharp left turn. As we're coming out of the turn, a group of guys pull away. I am being very cognizant of not going out to fast. I look down at my Garmin and see 6:0Xs, so I back it down a touch. I wanted to hit a 6:25 first mile. This allows a decent group of guys to pass me. Before the passing stopped, I think I counted about 22 guys in front of me. As I get to the half mile mark, I see I hit it at 3:05. Whoa, slow down! So I am reigning it in at this point. I feel like I am holding myself back the rest of mile 1, running very easy and hit the 1st mile marker at 6:24. Nice. Right where I wanted to be.

Somewhere near the end of that mile, I started running in a group of two others. One was about 40 and the other was 12 or so. No lie. This little dude was motoring. I made a mental note to myself that I will not lose to him. I think this is probably the equivalent to losing to someone dressed as a superhero in the marathon. I ran with these two for all of mile two. Again, it felt nice and easy and my breathing was very under control. I have found that's the key for me in these shorter races. I hit the 2nd mile marker at 6:27. I was thinking I'd try to be in the 6:20-6:25 range for miles 2 and 3. There are definitely some turns and slightly narrower parts in this section of the race. There was a lot of single file running as guys were trying to run tangentially as much as possible. I was feeling good and my breathing was still very solid.

Somwhere during mile three, I picked off a couple runners from the pack and my little friend fell off the pace too. I felt I was holding this 6:25ish pace. As I hit the 3rd mile marker, my Garmin (manual lap) read 6:30. Hmmm. I wasn't disappointed, just wondering a little bit as I felt my effort level hadn't changed. Maybe it was turns and curves on the course. At that point, I decide it's time to pick up the pace a bit. Not a ton, but I need to start putting up some 6:20 miles here. I basically have a 5K left at this point, so I am feeling good.

So I start passing guys, without really using too much effort to go around them. I'd sneak inside when I could or just follow the natural flow of the course. I think I passed 5 or 6 guys in this mile and hit mile marker 4 with a 6:21.

Okay, that's more like it. Still feeling pretty strong, although I am focusing more on my breathing. The last thing I need at this point is a cramp or my breathing to get out of control and I fall off of my pace. There's a guy in front of me that is hugging the inside of every turn and I am breathing down his neck. He won't give me an inch. So after about a quarter mile of these shenanigans, I bite the bullet and pass him on the outside. Still focusing on my breathing as it's becoming slightly more labored. I made it a point not to look at my HR throughout the race. There's nothing I can do about it, so why even bother?

Somewhere around mile 4.5, the course turned and I was running into the wind. I was starting to feel it a little bit as I saw my Garmin go back up from the 6:1Xs to the 6:2Xs. I hunkered down and decided that there was only about 1.75 miles left, so any pain I was feeling was only temporary. I hit the 5 mile marker with a 6:11. Nice!

Just about a mile and a quarter to go and there's no one anywhere close behind me and a shirtless guy off in the distance in front of me. I decided to see what I have left in the tank and run it as hard as I can. As if I would have considered anything else. My breathing is becoming very labored by the 5.75 mark. I hit the 6th mile marker with an even 6:00 on my watch. Awesome.

Just .2 to go and I have made up considerable ground on the shirtless guy. As we make the final turn into the grass, I am giving it all I have. So is this guy, so I never do catch him. I think I finished a second or two behind him. I ran the final .21 (Garmin measured) in 1:11 (a 5:36ish pace) and hit the finish line with a 39:07!

What a great feeling. I remembering struggling my way to the finish line last year in a 43:54. Yep. That's not a typo. I beat my time on this course from last year by 4:47. And beat my November PR of 41:48 by 2:41. I am pretty sure my days of 10K 2 minute PRs are over now, but it was fun while it lasted. I finished 2nd in my age group and received a nice fancy medal for my efforts. I am not sure where I finished overall and I did lose track of how many guys I passed. I am guessing somewhere in the 10-15 range. I think I may have left a few seconds (10-15?) on the course in miles 2 and 3. Not positive though. No regrets here at all.

I also learned my max Heart Rate is 200, not 195. I hit that in the last .2. Here are the splits and AHR for the race:
1-6:24 (176)
2-6:27 (182)
3-6:30 (184)
4-6:21 (187)
5-6:11 (189)
6- 6:00 (194)
.2- 1:11 (197)
The 39:07 translates into a 6:17 overall pace . Average HR for the race was 186, or 93% of my new max. I'll make another post over the next day or two chronicling last week and previewing this upcoming week.

Thanks for reading,


ExSoccerGuy said...

Ab. Solutely. Awesome! Great pacing and self-awareness. Phenomenal splits. You are way ahead of where you thought you'd be at this point in your Chicago prep. Can't wait to run Boston "with you" (though it feels like I'll be the last 3:20 thread member finishing). Now, be smart and just ride it in to Chicago.


Puerto Rican Kenyan said...

Dude. I'm so psyched about your awesome performance yesterday. Congratulations--you have totally earned every PR that you have gotten this year. Everything looks good for your attempt at sub 3:10 in Chicago. I'm probably more excited about your BQ attempt than I am about my own race at this point!

TexasTaxMan said...

That's awesome Zab! Great pacing and control over your adrenaline there at the start. Good job backing off and saving yourself. I couldn't agree more that everything is looking good for Chicago. Did you walk by the 12yr old after the race and give him the ol' fist pump? You should have. Great job and great report. That was fun to read!

Mir said...

Nice work! You paced that race wonderfully. The key was backing off like you did in the first mile, I think. That kind of patience in the marathon will bring even greater rewards. :)

Kimberly said...

Flippin awesome Paul. A youngin' (i'm guessing between 13-14) kicked my butt at the Oshkosh Triathlon this year. She was awesome but I was certainly bitter.

Jeff said...

I got lost in a web of reading running blogs...came across this, because I ran in this race. Great race, you ran really smart. We'll see you in Boston.

screaminzab said...

Thanks for stopping by and for the compliments, Jeff. Did you BQ in Chicago?

Jeff said...

No, Grandma's in June.

screaminzab said...

Wow, great job, I heard that Grandma's was a scorcher this year.

Jeff said...

Indeed it was, I can't avoid the heat...I had done the previous two chicagos and did not do it this year, and wouldn't you know it...perfect weather.