Monday, April 4, 2011
(Matt, Caitlin and I just after the finish. Caitlin had just left her breakfast on the finish line!)
As indicated by my last update, Saturday didn't exactly go to plan. The day started off REAL early as I was unsure what the traffic/parking situation would be in such a big race. As it was I was WAY early and the first car in the parking lot at 6am. No problem though at least I was situated. It was very cold at this point. I walked down to check out the start area and the finish and just generally wandered around a bit trying to keep warm. I got in touch with fellow Charlottean Caitlin who was running the race and we arranged to meet up to warm up. We headed out and covered 2 or 3 miles of the course, noting the flat layout and all the bands setting up!
I got back to my car, changed into my race gear and headed down to the starting corrals. It was still cold but it looked like it was going to warm up pretty quick and that we had caught a break with the weather as there was none of the forecasted rain in the air. After some strides and drills I was able to march pretty much straight up to the front of the corral.
The anthem was played and we were off. The elite guys headed off into the distance and I got into a good early groove quickly passing the elite women and settling into a group of about ten guys. We turned on to Monument Avenue and I was feeling pretty good, running the pace I was looking for and with company to boot. Mile 1 5:09 just under goal pace, no problem, mile 2 5:14. Still heading out in a straight line up Monument, mile 3 was when I felt myself starting to work pretty hard. A couple of guys had dropped off the group and I had slipped to the back of it but was making sure to keep contact. Mile 3 5:17 but knew I would soon be turning and heading towards the finish with a slight downhill and tailwind.
Through 5k in 16:23 and mile 4 5:14 (unofficial 4 mile PR of 20:54) but feeling a lot more uncomfortable than I was expecting and now having to negative split big time if I was to PR. It was during mile 5 that the race began to unravel. I had developed a really painful side stitch and couldn't shake it. WTF? This had never happened to me in a race before. Every step sent a sharp pain through my side. I had to alter my gait and try and ignore it. The group headed off away from me and I was now on my own to the finish just trying to relax and feed off the crowd support and bands (I noticed one of the bands was playing a great rocking rendition of "Wanted Dead or Alive" which was awesome but also an indicator that I had now lost focus on the race itself!)
Painful mile 5 passed in 5:29, the stitch eased a little during mile 6 (5:24) and I was able to finish pretty solid down the last slightly downhill stretch with the crowds cheering. I could see the clock ticking towards 33:00 and was just unable to squeeze under it. Just as I finished I heard the ladies winner being announced so at least I had held her off and it meant my family were able to see me on the local tv network which was showing the race live!
Caitlin followed soon after in a PR of 35:45 and yet another great race, Matt in 37:10 and very happy too. We warmed down together and grabbed some breakfast before going our separate ways.
My immediate reaction following the race was one of disappointment. I had not met my goal and in running it's black and white, I'd failed in the goals I had set myself for this race and this training block. So you come to terms with that and resolve to get back to training and continue improving and enjoying what you do.
The next few weeks I have a few races lined up and hopefully I can kick on. The calf problem I had right after my 5k put a brake in my training just when I didn't need it but also meant that the last couple of weeks have been very low key so I can now ramp it up again after the enforced 'break'. I'll spend a few weeks just jumping into runs and workouts as I see fit and not following such a rigid schedule before thinking of next goals. Looking forward to it!
(I officially finished in 20th place out of over 41,000 starters. I was first in my age group which makes it two for two in that category for big races I've completed in Richmond).