Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day 10K

Back from a Father's Day weekend in Rockport, MA. Ran a 10K there Sunday morning; no breakfest in bed for this Dad. Mixed results. I really wanted to officially break my 24 year old PR of 39:30, which I ran at a Pickering Wharf 10K in Salem, MA in 1982, at the tender age of 22. 10Ks seem now to be a relatively rare distance, so I haven't run one in the past couple of years since I've been racing again. But after my recent 5 mile PR (30:35) and 39:40 10K time within an 11K race last fall, I figured I had it in me to dispense with that PR from a previous life.

But it wasn't to be. I ran a 39:49. The excuses: the course was rather hilly; it was rather hot, over 80F for sure by mile 4; virtually no shade on the course, and no hoses, and little water. Definitely tougher than 1982. And, the Garmin actually claims that the course was long, by at least 120 yards - factoring that in, my time should have been more like 39:20 to 39:28.

That gives me small some solice on the quantitative side — emotionally I've broken my old record, but not on paper, so it's still a todo. Qualitatively, it was also a mixed bag. A weird race. Of 133 runners, I came in 2nd! Obviously the fast guys stayed at home for breakfast in bed for Father's Day. Not only that, I was in 1st place, exclusively, and by a good margin, for the first 4.2 miles of the race. How very odd! Almost unnerving.

Right at the outset, I'm with the leaders, and pulling, with little effort, into the lead. Apprehensive, I turned around and yell and motion something like "c'mon guys, let's go, I have a terrible sense of direction!" Part of my apprehension is being simply in a position where I have to take the correct turns on the course, etc. (I'm not at all a leader type.) Of course, there are volunteers guiding the way, but I've done enough races to know that they don't always know what's going on, and I hadn't looked much at the course map.

The good news is that, for the first 2-3 miles, I'm feeling great, low 6:00s, and even feeling like I could hold on. And being out in front is slightly exhilirating, but it's also just weird, and lonely. One thing I like about racing is the multitude of people, eyeing someone up ahead, pulling them in, overtaking them. Out in front, you're alone, being pushed by fear, the occasional look over the shoulder, rather than being motivated by the chase. I've never considered this, 'cause I've never been a front runner, but it's interesting.

I've no idea, but I'd bet that the temperature rose from mid/high 70's at the start to mid/high 80's by mile 4. This with a 9:15am start, it was hot. At least that's what it felt like. Virtually no shade, and no wind, even along the shoreline. I ran shirtless, perhaps a white dryfit and a painters cap (ala Jim Beardsley) would have been better.

At about 4, I'm really starting to fatigue, there's a fork and a volunteer there, directing, or not as it turns out. I'm still in front, I say "which way?", and he says, honestly, "I don't know", wtf! I totally slow to a trot, ambivalent, losing seconds, and decide to the right, and go, checking behind me at the gaining few runners to see if they follow me. (My wife remarked, I shouldn't have even worried, just run, I was the front guy, they would just follow wherever I went, good point.)

So very soon after 4 is where I start dying. Heat, and a another hill, and the slowing at the fork also helped to interrupt my rhythm/momentum. I'm caught, and guts and doubt dual it out in my head for the next mile or so while he and I take turns at the lead. He finally takes the lead definitively around 5, second isn't bad, right? And I still have a shot at breaking 39:30 (and he's 16 year my younger it turns out.) Excuses, excuses. But shit, I'm dying, I'm pushing, I really am, fatigue is taking over. It's f-ing hot, I used to love the heat, but it affects me more now. I'm driven in this case, randomly, by the thoughts — You're alive, not dead, be grateful and run your ass off — Make your kids proud, shit, you had a shot a first, don't lose second! — Don't waste the work you've already done!

Securely out of the first position, I'm just trying to hold on, avoid being embarrasingly overtaking by a flock of runners, after running in front for 4 miles. A sadistically placed final hill, for the last half mile secures my misery. I'm dying, I want to stop, how can I go on, I don't know how I can make it the final half freaking mile. But I'm still, somehow, in second, some random guy/spectator, sees me struggling, and yell's something like — c'mon, let's go, push, lean into the hill — like he's a runner, and knows. Thank you. It does motivate me. I push, I lean, and I see the finish. Feel like my heart's going to explode, just do it, it'd be a fine way to die, it's not pain, exactly, just sensations, in another part of the Einstein's Universe, I'm already done.

My wife asks if I'm okay, she says I said "Idunno", I don't remember. Sadistically, I'm happy to hear that the winner looked equally beat. The heat got to all of us, I think. I congratulated him, of course. We were both flabbergasted that we placed so high, he said he'd never won a race. Typically, both of us would've placed barely in the top 10 of a race this size.


At 4:31 PM, Blogger psbowe said...

2nd overall!! That's amazing, congratulations.

I say you broke your PR no doubt, but I can see how frustrating it is that the course wasn't marked very well. Next time, you surely have a clear unquestionable PR.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Mike said...

In the lead is a position 99% of us have never found ourselves in. It's happened to me only once, thankfully on the second loop of a two loop course so I had some clue as to where to go.

A race beats breakfast in bed anyday, well done getting out there.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Running Rabbit said...

Came in 2nd? That's fantastic! You are super speedy! I definitely can't hang with you!

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Lisa said... ROCK!! Awesome finish, and I enjoyed reading your perspective from the FRONT of the pack. Kind of a neat twist on things.

Great job. :)

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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