I had a busy racing week last week. I ran a 10k, a 5000m on the track and a 400m just for good measure. Suffice to say that I took it easy the rest of the week.
On Monday morning I laced up to run the Scripps Ranch Old Pros 10k. This is a pretty competitive race, usually the fastest 10k in San Diego. It runs the 5 mile loop around Lake Miramar (aka The Lake) and then screams down through a neighborhood to Hoyt Park. When I say screams, I mean the last half mile is extremely downhill. So much so that I was slowing my legs down at the finish, not kicking.
We start on an uphill stretch to get to The Lake and I was immediately boxed in even though I was only 2-3 deep at the start. So I swing wide and pass to get around and within 30 seconds I find myself getting boxed in again. It was frustrating to say the least. I always go out at race pace, so I deal with the crowds who sprint the start every time. This race was worse than usual. When I finally broke free I picked it up to get some room. I went through the first mile in 5:37. I was shooting for low-5:30 pace so it was a few seconds slow but there was also the hill.
It was a warm morning and humidity was high. I ran my warmup and immediately felt dehydrated. I was looking for an aide station before we even hit mile one. It was shaping up to be a tough day. I settled into a rhythm and clicked off a 5:31, 5:28, 5:29 so I was dead on. When I went through the 5k point, a guy called out times “17:31!” and I was not pleased. I didn’t even look at my watch, but I didn’t think it was right. The pack of 4 I’d been running with broke up and a high schooler took off and I was left to chase. As usual, I was picking off people the entire race. I saw Tom Bache up in the distance, surprised he was so far ahead of me. I know he’s in good shape based on his recent race times, but I thought we were close to equal.
Miles 4 and 5 were tough. I just kept telling myself if I make it to mile 5, I know the last mile will be cake. So I HTFU’d but posted a 5:35. At this point I was just breathing too hard. My legs felt great but I wasn’t sure how much longer I had before I’d be in oxygen debt deep enough that there’s no escape. It’s a game I play in nearly every race. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I could’ve run faster but I was being smart and trying not to bonk. The last mile comes off the dam, whips around down into the neighborhood and gives you two inclines before the slot car finish. I wasn’t expecting the hills. Meanwhile, I had caught up to Tom so that he was only 20 or so meters in front of me. When we hit the downhill I stopped picking up ground. I was seriously just trying to stay in control and keep the legs moving. We were flying to be sure, but it didn’t benefit me in terms of racing. Then finally it flattens out for the last turn and you’re at the finish. That’s when I made my move, kicking hard enough to pass Tom before the finish. I swear I crossed around 34:29-30 but the official time was posted as 34:15 and that jives with my mile time.
34:15, that is a new PR my friends. My old PR was 34:34 and I’m happy to see it go. I was hoping I’d get a little more out of the downhill and be closer to sub-34 but I can’t complain. I ran a good race, I have to be happy with my efforts on a warm day. It certainly wasn’t optimal racing conditions. I took water cups and both aide stations in a 10k, that says something.
After the race I ran into Dan and Derek, who I’d met at a party over the weekend. Both ran in the 32s (nuts!) and were pretty happy about their races. I cooled down with them and some other fast guys, which really loosened up my tight legs. (Why haven’t I made a point to cooldown properly before?) On the cooldown I ran into Charlie, who’d had a rough day. He ran a 38 (at 53!!) but was hoping for sub-37.
All in all, a good race. First time I’d set a PR in over a year. That means I’m back to business.
Then on Wednesday I took my tired legs to Cuyamaca College for Summer Nights #3. I ran the 5000m and signed up for the 400m like last year. Cuyamaca College is in Rancho San Diego, think south of El Cajon. It was hot as hell and the humidity was bad. I was going to run hard since I had nothing to lose. I was thinking 77-78s until I couldn’t handle anymore. Well.. went through the first lap in 81 and thought I was flying. I knew then it was going to be a death march. Went through 1600m in 5:20, 3000m in 10:00 and 3200m in 10:39 and then promptly died off. I ran 16:49, which isn’t a terrible race, but nothing to write home about. Then there was a second heat which allowed me some recovery before the 400m. The gun goes off, I take off, the gun goes off again.. and then a third time. WTF? I thought maybe I’d false started (I did last year on the 400m) but I found out later it was a timer malfunction. It really threw me off. The second start, the gun wouldn’t fire. By the time we got started, I was pretty anxious and was looking for visual cues to make sure the race was started. I lost a lot in my reaction time. My legs also weren’t up to the challenge. I limped home in 62 something, giving what little I had in the final 100m. I should run a 400m on fresh legs some day. I’ve never broken 61s but I know I have the speed.
Now that I’m raced out, I’m going to do some solid, consistent training so I can break 16 at the AFC 5k and build a solid base for my half marathons this fall. If I can stay healthy, I see good things!