Sunday, February 3, 2013

Another race, another PR!

I'm amazed! Race #5 in the Winter Grand Prix Series is on the track.


I've only ever raced once before on the track.  It was this race in 2009.  I was nervous then and I was nervous now.  they divide the field into heats and you self-seed into a heat based on your expected finish time.  The goal is to have people fairly close together so that can eliminate the need to count laps for the scorers/timekeepers.  So you have to be honest about your pace.  I worried about having an off day and being really slow.  I worried about seeding into a faster heat and going out way too fast.  I worried about counting laps.


In the end, i just showed up and did my warm-up as usual.  That was three very slow miles on the roads around the high school.  I came back to the track and met up with K (who was coming for moral support, cheering and curiosity).  He'd hold my warm-up clothes and had been enjoying watching the faster heats.  I did a final bit of warm-up on the in field with some drills etc and tried not to run into any other runner who was doing the same thing.  We were all watching the earlier heat.

I'd felt really stiff and blah when warming up.  This is the second week at higher mileage for me and my legs aren't exactly feeling fresh.  Once properly warmed up though, i felt better, looser and more relaxed.  Those drills help!  High knees, butt kicks, short sprints, grapevine (why is it called this?) all got my legs and hips moving well.

The announcer called us to the start after we'd checked in with the clerk and without any fuss, we were off with the start of a gun.

What was my plan?  My goal for this series was push myself, go out harder, make it hurt and see what was possible.  I'd run the last race at 13:50 (6:55 pace overall) and knew I could be faster on the track.  The surface is better, it's easier to pace and there are not the tough turns that there are on the road course.  So, i aimed to go out fast and settle into a 6:45 first mile.  I'd then use my expeience with these races to make sure i stayed at my goal pace while using feedback from how i was feeling to maintain pace.  There are a lot of little kids in these races.  They go out fast and fade in the middle.  My goal was to stay in the game and stay focused on my race.

It was a big heat.  The largest according to the announcer as the overall time was supposed to be 12:16-14:00 minutes.  It seemed like a lot of people as we made for the first turn and i worried about if anyone was wearing spikes and if there would be contact.  No worries.  Everyone sorted themselves out quickly.  It was crowded for the first turn but then almost immediately we started stringing out.  I, as expected, was towards the very back.  I think i did the first lap in about 1:37.  That is as fast as i'd normally do 400s at the track for training so i kind of snorted to myself about that and told myself firmly not to freak out!  

No worries, i knew i'd settle into pace for the next three laps.  There were a couple guys running ahead of me and i made sure to stick with them.  They seemed to be going steadily and I knew the contact would help.  We were really getting spread out.  First mile - 6:39!

And here is where I started passing people.  The fifth lap, i kept just under 7.  It was a bit slow but if I hadn't monitored my pace with my watch, I'd have been slower.  I passed a kid here and there.  One of the guys was slowing.  I passed him.  Each lap, there was a lap counter (not sure what this person would be called) who was holding up a number of which lap we were on.  This was helpful.

Three laps.  That is less than 6 minutes.  You can do anything for 6 minutes.  There were a lot of parents and other interested parties calling out to the runners.  "Relax"  "Stay in contact." "Lengthen your stride."  None of these admonishments were directed to me but i took them in and used them.  Two laps.  Pass another kid. He stayed with me then. One lap and the winner of the heat came in just then.

Two hundred meters! Take the turn and GO! And the 44 year old legs who have run 50 miles for the week don't exactly have a lot of pep.  They don't have many fast twitch fibers in the best of times so I got passed by the kid and an older guy.  It didn't matter.  I could see the clock from 100 meters back and it was just at 13 minutes.  GO!

13:29 by my watch.  A 20 second PR from the last race and an unbelievable overall pace of 6:45.  I never, ever thought I'd see that sort of speed.  I'm not exactly getting younger.

I bounced over to K who was just as bouncy and grinning just as much as I was.  Mission accomplished.  Take a chance, go for it and push hard.  You may just surprise yourself.

The 13 easy miles this morning was pretty slow but it didn't matter.  I am still marveling about that race.

Coming up: some changes I've made the past year which i think have helped.  

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