Rain Man: The Rocky Mountain Bank 10k Race Report
Today was yet another adventure in the life of a dedicated (or obsessed, depending on who you ask) triathlete. While it seems that its been more than a week since my last race report, my body is reminding me that Ive been relatively busy. I feel like Ive been hit by a bus tonight. Luckily, I have a fine Riesling and a fuzzy cat within reach to soothe the pain.
As you may have seen from my blog, northwest Montana has been blessed with some beautiful weather in the past few days. Mid 60’s, sunny skies, little breeze. It’s been a welcome break from the winter gray. So of course, I was stoked that the 10k was going to blessed with a warm sunny day…at least that’s what the weather report said. I was even more pleased when I awoke this AM and found myself blinded by the sunlight coming over the Rockies.
Of course, this is Montana, and there is a saying about the weather here:
“If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.”
You know where I’m going with this already. Sure enough, as I finished breakfast, a huge cloud bank rolled in, the temps dropped, and the rain started. Ironically, this is the first PURE rain I can remember this year. Usually its a mix of sleet and snow. In any case, I welcomed the classic raining run challenge and had no plans of letting a little wet get me down.
I have been struggling with what I should exactly eat the morning before one of my events. It’s ranged from a huge coffee with a danish to a handful of Sunchips and a Redbull. Nothing has really worked well. I always end up hitting the wall somewhere in the run. So today, I decided to start from scratch and eat what I normally eat.
So that included breakfast with 2 eggs sunny side up, some veggie sausage patties, and a few cups of coffee. Followed that with an early filafel sandwich at 11:00 with a big bottle of Pellogrino. With this timing, I found myself energized yet not bloated feeling by the time warm up started at 12:20.
Luckily, this race started at my work’s gym, where we have an indoor track. I put in a good 15 minute jog, dotted with 3X 20 sec sprint accelerations, some skipping, and some fast cadence. No, not that kind of skipping. Ive been trying to lengthen my stride some, as its been pretty compact, even for a triathlete. Skipping along helps my hip flexors stretch out a little.
After a good warm up, I ditched the my clothes for a singlet, race shorts, light weight Brooks socks, and Newtons. I had wanted to run sockless, but I figured the addition of wet feet would greatly increase the chance of foot pain/blistering. Ten minutes before race time, I lined up near the front of the 10k group, which I would guess somewhere like 40-50 people. There was also a 5k today, with some 750 participants starting 30 seconds behind us.
With my prior course test runs, I had run around a 24-26. My goal was to always break 50 min, but after last weekend, I decided to be more realistic and settle for anything less than 52 min. This would be somewhere a little over the 8:00 min/mile pace. After ten minutes of dancing on my feet, off we went. Rain was coming down steadily, temps in the mid 40’s. My plan was to take it easy on the first mile and then slowly rev it up. Immediately after starting, I settled into a rhythm behind a group of runners. Glancing at my watch, we were running about a 7:15 pace. I always have a tendency to see the leaders run off and trying to catch them, with subsequent blowing up mid race. For this race, I was making a strong conscious effort to run against myself only, and I ignored the leaders of the pack heading out. After a slight downhill, we turned into some flat residential neighborhoods. As the grade leveled out, I found myself almost tripping over the person in front of me, and it dawned on me that I was in a good position to move pass the threesome I was in. I looked up and was doubly shocked to see that the lead runners had not zoomed off into the sunset, but were perhaps 50-60 yards ahead. With the realization that I was somewhat running with the lead pack, adrenaline kicked in, and up went my pace.
Within the first mile, we had a small, but significant blimp in the course. As I detailed in my earlier posts, I have been researching hill running technique, and I was determined to put the reading to good use. In particular, I made sure to lean into the hill, use exaggerated arm swing, and short chopping steps. Sure enough, even though I looked like some reject from the Twilight movie, I made it up the first speed bump in much better shape than I was used to. Still near the front, this is where things starting getting really “classic.” Rain coming down, soaked, huge puddles that I plowed through with amazing water effect. We darted in and out of some more flat neighborhoods before coming out onto the hill section, which is roughly mile 2-3 of the loop. You can see the elevation change here:
Not steep by any means, but still annoying. Just one of those long hills that just hurts you to the core. Using the same techniques above, I actually made some ground on a few other racers. Cresting over the top, things were feeling not too bad. I made the turn for the finish of lap one, and my split time was roughly 23:00. I was on cloud nine at this point, as I knew that even if disaster struck and I ran a 27, I would still break 50:00.
Before this race, I had made a promise to let myself go in the second lap. I didn’t care if I looked like I was dying or if my breathing was louder than a jet engine. I just wanted to once say I left it all out there on the course. So I kept on cruising as hard as I could. Luckily, I had a lot of help from the other racers, even the ones from the 5k that we ran into on our second lap. Hearing parents tell their kids over and over “Look, they’re on the second lap!” was motivating. In addition, the were ever closer foot steps coming behind me.
After holding a group off for a while, I got pulled in by a group of about 3 guys just before the last big hill. I settled in behind one and decided to hold his pace until the hill, where I hoped he would be less adept in getting up. Unfortunately, we were about evenly matched, and I didn’t make much headway against him. As we crested the top another two guys came suddenly shooting by me. I tried to surge with them, but was only able to stay for about 50-100 meters. Within the last 75 meters, they surged by and took two more spots from me.Unofficially, my Garmin says 46:43. Needless to say, I was thrilled. Its been a while since I felt I made some progress in any of the races, and today was a welcome moment of satisfaction. Don’t get me wrong, there are some much faster bad asses out there, but I’m not about catching them…for now. I’m just happy to be faster than I was last year. If I compare to last year’s results, which was the same course, I would be somewhere around 10-13 overall in the 10k field. In addition, last year I would have been the 1st male in the 30-34 age group (if they were breaking it down by age group). I’m still waiting for the official results.
In the tradition of my previous race report, I need to learn from each day of racing/training, even on the good days.
Things I Learned:
1. Make sure to keep including some 20-30 seconds surges in the warm up.
2. Do not surge to early at the end.
3. Pick the right person to pace with.
4. Eat a regular meal on race day.
Things I Need To Work On:
1. Spending more time in the 7:15 zone during intervals.
2. Lengthening my stride more, but not too much more.
3. Combining the longer stride with faster cadence.
4. Keeping my body position more forward.
I’ll post the official results as I get them. Knowing my luck, this will be the year the entire 30-34 age Kenyan Olympic team decided to enter the race, and the only reason I didn’t seem them was because they were gone before I looked up from my watch at the beginning of the race. Next up is the WAG race in mid May. I’m already starting to dread keeping my pace even on that nine-miler. I guess there is only one way to learn.