Wednesday, June 25, 2014

6.2 Lessons in 6.2 Miles: BAA 10K (6/22/14)

Right about 9km with Neil
photo by Tom Cole

Race: BAA 10K
Location: Boston
Goal Time: 40:00
Actual Time: 40:40

Lesson 1: Come early, travel light…
The race start was 8:00.  I decided running down like I did for the BAA 5k would be a great warm-up and I wouldn’t put myself at the mercy of the MBTA or parking issues. (Apparently, one can avoid all parking issues by getting into Back Bay at 6:30 like Kimi did.)  So I left the house at 7:10 or so and was at the start line ready to go at 7:40. I met the usual suspects at the start line: John Hadcock, Bradley Harris and Paul Clark.  Bradley and I pushed our way to close to the start.

At the gun, I felt great.  I found a comfortable pace as we ran down Commonwealth.  I didn’t make the mistake of following Bradley again like Ribfest.  My first mile was in the ±5 second range of my goal.  Anytime, I can Avoid my ownpersonal Noid of dashing out too fast in the first mile, I will have a good day.

Lesson 2: …but bring a bag to check
The second mile pointed to the errors of following Lesson 1 too much.  I wore my “marathon racing shorts” as I term them.  They have reasonably big pockets.  (Most racing shorts don’t or just have a back pocket large enough for a car/bike key, a $10 bill and an ATM Card – Not that anyone who thinks they should steal my racing shorts would find those items in mine.)  The pockets in the marathon shorts are great for putting in a package gummy bears and Gu and what Bex once termed “energy cubes.”  What they are not designed to carry is a cellphone, wallet and keys when you are running at 10K speeds. 

I spent the second mile switching the 3 items around the two pockets.  It was like some obscure Nash game theory puzzle.  Eventually, I settled with wallet in right pocket, phone in left pocket and keys in my hand.  If one is concerned with running form and efficiency should never do this.   I probably wasted so much energy – both physical and mental attempting to solve this Gordian knot of a problem.  Next time, I bring a small bag to check my keys, wallet and phone.

Aside: Efficiency breaks the “I before E except after C rule” – just in case you try to spend 3 minutes making the squiggly line go away.  Is it one F and two Cs? Is it two Fs and two Cs?

Lesson 3: Don’t get too amped up around family and friends
In reality I probably should have learned this at the Providence Marathon in 2012.  At Providence, all my miles from 1 – 23 were within 10 seconds of 7:12 – EXCEPT mile 9 where I passed the boys: Anthony, Tim, etc who were cheering us on.  That one was a 6:50 because I got amped up and ran with some over-hyped adrenaline for that portion.  Between the actually running too fast and the extra jump of heart rate, I’m sure those 25 seconds cost me 2 minutes on the back end.

The turnaround of the BAA 10k was about 4 blocks from my parents’ apartment in Allston.  They made their way down to the 3 mile mark to cheer and take pictures.  Knowing they’d be there got my heart racing and got me once again running too fast.  Despite mile three having the two hard hills on the course – up to the BU Bridge and up to Allston – it was my fastest mile.  Oops.

Lesson 4: If you expect good things, train for them.
This might seem obvious.   But my early season had gone so well when I trained for the BAA 5k/James Joyce Double.  I had a hard time getting back into training for the Ribfest/26 x 1/BAA 10K Triple.  And by mile 4 that started to show.  The legs that had carried me to a near PR at BAA 5k and a PR at James Joyce now failed me as I went back up the hill to the BU Bridge.

It was my slowest mile; and, while I thought I was running well, it was obvious I just didn’t have the ability in my legs to race for a PR or near it. 

Lesson 5: Remember to have fun!
I run for fun.  I like to do it.  I like to race.  I like to converse with the crowd – if I can breathe. 

Somerville Road Runners were manning the water stop at Mile 5.  (Once again Lesson 3 applies here as well.)  I came running in and “Iceland” Tommy, who is not in SRR but a friend, was the first in a long line of friends cheering as they handed out water to the runners.  I grabbed a cup from either Tom Bok or from Megan Hyland who were the first two in line.* I took a sip as I ran past many others cheering – who I can’t even name them all.  I dumped a bit over my head.  And then there was still a little left…

To have fun with the last half a cup, I threw it on Tim Harden as he stood with another cup to hand off to runners.  It got him pretty well just off center-mass on his left side. It would have counted as a hit in BRM.

SRR Volunteers at the Mile 5 Water Stop

Lesson 6: Dig Deeper, there’s something there.
Right before the 9km mark, I heard someone yell out: “Go Neil.”  I looked ahead and twenty feet up in a yellow Arsenal jersey, I saw my friend Neil Cronin.  I thought to myself, I’m gonna catch him.  And while announcing my intentions to him, I caught up with him and briefly posted myself behind him while I regained my breath.  (Classic cycle racing move.) I caught my breath right at the 9km mark.  I pushed a little ahead of him.  Then I could feel he caught up with me.  I died a bit and felt like I was all done for and said something to the tune of: “Go for it, I got nothing left.”

But, I did have something left.  And, for the next 600 meters to the two of us pushed past each other and then back four or five times.  Each time I thought I couldn't run anymore I realized I could race a little bit more.  Maybe there are those races I can find more when I thought I had nothing? Maybe I can dig into the well a little sooner and maybe more often?  Maybe I’m starting to understand the difference between merely running a race and racing a race?  I don’t know, maybe there is an arc to come.

Lesson 6.2: End on a High Note.
To borrow from The Oatmeal: “When you see the finish line, start sprinting like a coked-out orangutan.” The six mile mark is on Boylston right before you turn onto Charles for the longish straight stretch into the finish line.  Right as we hit 6, I picked up the pace.  Neil told me to “get it!” 

I had learned to not start all out sprinting with 0.2 miles left from the Lone Gull10K last year.  But, in a steady progression I built up speed until about 2/3 of the way down Charles street I started sprinting like a coked-out orangutan.  I came in at 40:40.  The pace was better than Ribfest had been last week.  It placed me 188th overall/ 14th in my age group.

I dropped a place in my age group in the Distance Medley rankings to 4th.  So, I’ll have to have a great half marathon to finish in the top 3 (rather 2nd or 3rd because 1st currently has a 4 minute lead).  However, I’d would have had to have a great half marathon, even if I did run close to my James Joyce time.

Jenn Fonda had a PR
Mark Duggan had a PR
Liz Cooney finished 3rd in her age group
John Hadcock finished 3rd in his age group and stands in 1st in the age group in the Medley.

*- Bonus LessonGrab Early, grab often

When going into the line at a water stop, try to grab as early as you can – as long as there is no huge back up at the first few people.  Point to the water you intend to grab – hopefully getting eye contact with the person holding it.  If you grab early then you can try again if you drop it.  Last year at the Derry 16 miler, I hadn’t grabbed water yet and near the end of the line I was going get one and some guy jumped in and out of line taking the last water right in front of me.  No warm Gatorade for me for another 3 miles – jaggoff!

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