Sunday, February 26, 2012

10 Mile Club Challenge Race Report

I've gotta get this up quickly, since there are celebrations to be had.  This particular race, a tough 10 miler held in Howard County is scored team style with all the various local clubs running against each other.  The past two times I did this race, I ran for the Baltimore Road Runners Club.  Although it was nice to be able to do the race, they had very little chance of ever winning.  My second time running it, last year, when I posted a 56:54, put me a full 2 minutes ahead of the 2nd fastest BRRC runner.  It was at that moment I knew it was time to join one of the faster groups.

So this year, after having run with them since August, I ran the race for Falls Road Racing, a group who is always in contention for top honors.  This year they really brought their A team with a very strong showing on all fronts.  I was hoping to just score for the men, and put up a respectable time.

This race is notorious for inaccurate mile markers.  In fact, I've decided that I won't take mile splits next year because the information is next to worthless anyway.  So, I'm only going to save my 5-ish mile split and my final split, just to get an idea of the two halves of the race.

On an ideal day with the right combo of tempo work and hills, I could have probably run somewhere in the 55-56 range.  I had that in mind, but knew full well that I'd take whatever I could get.  Unlike last year, my mileage is lower, and I have done fewer workouts/races leading up to this day.  All of that is in an effort to peak later to coincide with my actual goal race.  Generally, I end up peaking about a month early and then fizzle out towards the end of the season.

So with that said, I ended up with a 57:26, good for 17th overall and by my count, the 11th scorer for the Men's team (first 12 score).

After a very crowded start in which I cut more than a few people off, the pack quickly thinned out and by about mile 3, I was in no man's land.  People were ahead of me, people were behind me, and I was stuck right in the middle.  As the race wore on, I could tell that I was not nearly prepared enough for the hills.  It was taking me way too long to recover back to "normal effort" after cresting each hill, and it was only getting worse.  I decided to just try and hold on as best as I could.  My 5 mile split ended up being 28:17.

Over the second half of the race, I would get passed by a few people, but all of them (thankfully) were fellow Falls Road runners.  The first guy to pass me, Seth, did so somewhere after mile 5.  I stuck with him for a little bit but couldn't keep up.  As we continued on past mile 7, the course started to flatten out but the wind would prove troublesome.  Two more guys caught me, Brennan and Chris.  After Chris passed me, the three of us were separated by a few strides a piece, with Seth and a Howard County runner (the team most likely to beat us) off in the distance.

I finally started to feel a little better with most of the hills behind us, so I decided that I should be running with these guys rather than behind them.  So I picked it up (it helped that I could hear people who may not have been Falls Road behind me) as best I could.  I caught up to Chris, who matched my pace, and we both caught up to Brennan.

From that point on we stuck together for the last 1.5ish miles.  That Howard County runner in the distance proved to be a good carrot, as I made it my mission to give whatever I had left to close the gap.  As we neared the finish, our pace quickened but it was clear we didn't have enough ground left to catch the other runner.

In the end, Chris passed me, and I finished right behind him with the 57:26.

I tried to be disappointed after crossing the line.  But, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't shake the feeling of being "content."  So I just accepted it.  I may have been about 30 seconds slower than last year, and close to 2 minutes slower than what I was probably capable of.  However, I still gave it a strong effort and was able to close strong on the flatter ending of the race.

At this time last year, I was putting in a tempo or speed workout plus hill repeats nearly every week.  I also ran 5 races leading up to Club Challenge, and put in much higher mileage.  I also got hurt...

This year, I've done 2 races in the time leading up, and really only started a second formal workout last week.  I'm sure after a few more weeks of hills, I'll be able to handle them better.  I've got a chance to find out in mid March at the National Half Marathon, and of course, at the ultimate prize (which is the entire focus of my running existence right now)...Boston.

So with that said, I'll chalk today up to a slightly off day, but a good solid start to my "spring" racing season.

It was also great to see my various running friends out there, as the race always brings everyone out, even Mark all the way from North Carolina.  Check out his blog if you don't already!

And finally, it helps that I was part of the most successful showing of Falls Road ever with a clean sweep of all awards:
-Male Overall
-Female Overall
-Coed Team Winners
-Male Team Winners
-Female Team Winners

1 comment:

  1. Nice work, on all fronts-especially with minimal formal workouts. Enjoy the celebration and use this one as a benchmark for much more to come!