Sunday, February 14, 2010

PolarBear 5k

I heard the term "Sandbagger" used in the same sentence as my name just before the race on Saturday. A bunch of us were standing around talking about what we thought we could run and I said that I'd like to go "sub 20". Somebody (can't remember who) said something like "you should, after you sandbagged us last weekend, hahaha" I remarked that I truly had no idea what I could run last weekend but that I had a pretty good idea what I could do THIS weekend. SO, I threw down the gauntlet and said "I am going to run precisely 6:26.4242! That's 20 minutes for a 5k. Actually I'm going to run 6:25's so I can be under 20" Eyebrows raised and eyes rolled and I waited to hear some of the same people who were jabbing me tell me EXACTLY what they would run. Could've heard a pin drop. See, I'm not one of those guys that gets weird about telling people where I'm at or how my training's going, some people get a little cagey on that stuff. Why? I just say, this is what I think I can do and I go out and try to do it. If I succeed, great, if I fail I'm not ashamed to have given it my best and come up short. If you want to come after me you'll know what you're going to need to do to get there and if you're running from me you'll know how hard I'm trying to catch you. So we hit the starting line and I lined up right behind Owen Lisa, Brett Helstedt and Al Bugbee. I didn't have thoughts of beating these guys but I wanted to see how long I could keep them in my sights (not long! hahaha). Sheri Piers was there too and I turned and congratulated Angela Bancroft on second place. Not sure that was very nice but it took a little pressure off her - she won the race for the women last year. I knew she'd have to run 6's or better to win today and this was her first race back after a foot injury. I didn't see another woman capable of beating Angela. The gun went off and we headed down over the hill toward Marginal Way. I was running right beside Owen and Co. but I knew they'd be taking off soon. Angela wanted to try to run sub-20 too so we stayed together through the first mile. We hit the mile 1 marker in 5:56 - whoops. Actually that was a pretty good pace given it was mostly downhill. We hit the East End Trail and I started to move ahead of Ange but she was still running great. Mike MacDonald wasn't far back either. I spotted Rob Martin up ahead and started chipping into his lead. I passed him in about the middle of mile 2. I think he was a little surprised too. Rob's an excellent runner and was laying down 6:30's. I was able to still hold a pretty good pace through mile 2 but it slipped a little due to the rollers by the treatment plant (maybe the smell too!) Mile 3 starts with a huge hill coming up form the East End Trail - boat launch area. That's a nasty hill. My heart rate hit 183 at the top and I turned onto the Eastern Prom and took a peek back to see where people were at. I sam Ange and the Mike, yelled at them and put my head down for the finish. I looked at my watch and did the math. I had a sub 20 race going but only had two minutes to get in and I felt like I was quite a ways out still. I turned up the volume one more time and hoped I could hang onto my breakfast. I hit the line in 19:45. 11th place. Good run, well executed. Funny though, not even good enough to place in my age group! Guys like Al Bugbee, Kyle Rhoades and Jeff Fisher took care of that! The big boys beat me, Sheri won the thing outright and Angela took second for the women in 20:15. She was pleased with her race. All the boys from the Speed Lab did a great job too. Kutzer ran 7:44's and Greg ran under 9's so they are improving immensely.
I met Angela's parents after the race. Great people. It made me think of my folks who NEVER missed any of my games or events. Here she is 40 years old running a 5k and Mom and Dad are out there cheering for her. That's the way I hope to be when Bailey is competing. I'll never forget what it felt like to look up in the stands and see my parents - and I don't care WHERE the game was - they were there. Good stuff. So that's the PolarBear 5k. Oh, and just to wrap things up for you.....19:45 computes to a 6:21 pace. So I guess the boys were right after all, I AM a sandbagger! hahahahahahah

Lace 'em up tight, take no prisoners.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

10-Miler, Race Report

What a day! Can't even believe it. So I showed up about 50 minutes before the race start and got signed up. Interestingly, they handed me #869, the very same number I wore when I DNF'd Lake Placid in '08. Was this an omen? Bah, forget about it. Saw some friends and started getting changed. Contemplated bagging the warm-up but went out about 15 minutes before race start with Mark Bancroft, Steve Tenney and Dave Brackett. We jogged around for a bit but more or less were just waiting to run. Headed to the start line and saw Jeanne, Rob Smith and Tim Keene as well as Stacy, Mary, Mike MacDonald and Rick Ackermann (with two "N's"). Found myself standing next to Tenney but lost track of him when the race started. I assumed he'd jumped out ahead and put him out of my mind. Before the race I told Mark I was going to start easy and see how it goes, try not to rip of a 6:30 in the first mile and then pay for it for nine more. He told me to just run the first one whatever I felt like and not worry about it as it is mostly downhill anyway. Good point. I'm a listener so I decided to give that a try. He was right. As I clipped through mile one at a 6:20 pace I noticed I was pretty close to Rob and Tim. I knew this wouldn't last long as they are both in great shape and training hard right now. After about a 1/2 mile Mark Bancroft pulled alongside me and asked me how to work his Garmin GPS. After a few moments I told him to give it me and I got it going for him so he could see his pace. In the meantime, we had settled into a pretty comfortable 6:40 pace and agreed we'd run together as long as it worked for both of us. We hit the 2 mile mark in about 13:45 and we both were feeling great wondering how long it would last. We both were very aware that the wheels could come flying off this buggy at any time. We said "screw it" and just kept running what felt good. I told Mark that I wasn't worried about miles nine and ten because I could run those "sub seven" on heart alone - cocky little bugger huh?. hehheeh......I almost lost Mark after about four miles when we hit a little roller. He runs hills from his house and it was obvious every time we hit an incline. He's pull slightly ahead and then I'd recover and catch up and fall back in. This was the way it went for the next several miles as we managed to stay right around the seven minute mark or a little below. We passed our wives at different spots, Mine was taking pictures and surprised to see us at sub 35:00 at the 5 mile mark. His wife, Angela was surprised to see us running together and running so well. We were having a freaking BLAST and were starting to get geared up for the last two miles. we kept looking for Steve Tenney but figured he was way out ahead of us and we weren't going to catch him. We saw Doug Welling out there on the course on his bike, he yelled at us and gave us a boost. As we strode through mile nine I said to Mark that we were going to get a little recovery and then rip it up for mile ten. It was about that time I felt something on my right shoulder. I took a quick peek and caught a glimpse of the only thing I did not want to see in my rear view mirror at that point in the race - STEVE TENNEY! WTF? Where'd he come from? Oh, SHIT! I said to Mark, "we got company". He looked back and realized Steve was there. Mark said something to Steve and got no response.....OK...I can tell he's serious. This was shaping up to be a classic finish. WHY does this always happen to me?!?!?! I knew that Mark and I would probably be finishing near each other and would likely be sprinting the finish but now Steve was in the mix, pushing the pace and I started to wonder if I could hold on. I decided to pull hard going up the hill toward the school entrance as we worked our way through mile ten thinking maybe I could crack one of them - no dice. Heart rate 180, pace 6:20. We crested the hill and leveled off on our approach to the school entrance. They were both running strong and I slid in behind them to get out of the wind hoping I could just hold on a little longer. I started to feel a little something strange "inside" and realized I was probably getting close to my max effort, in fact I was sure of it. As we turned into the school Mark and Steve surged, I pressed a little harder to close the gap back up. They were now going to crack me and I wasn't going away easily. I started to lose the stride again just as I started to feel that strange feeling again. It was just about then that had a violent uncontrollable urge to puke and that's exactly what I did. HARD. Nothing came out but it was a message from my body saying "knock it off, or I'll shut you down for good next time". I looked at my GPS and the pace said 5:20! So here I am running 5:20 pace, hurling, and these guys are pulling away. I dug in a little deeper and surged again. Owen Lisa spotted me closing on Mark and Steve and hollered at me to catch them. Had he only seen me five seconds earlier! We hit the finish, Mark, Steve, then five seconds later ME. Unreal race. I had set a PR by almost a minute! Couldn't believe it! I had no idea I could do this today. I was impressed with Mark's ability to run like that and Steve's competitiveness in running us down late in the race. And I am pretty proud of myself for hanging tough with them. We headed inside, changed up, hung out for a bit and then went to lunch. Jodi and I enjoyed a nice lunch with the Bancrofts and the Wilsons at Flatbread - awesome place. Everybody had a great day today. All my friends did well and many posted PR's. SOOOooo glad I decided to race (see pre-race post). I got to know Mark a little better and also see where I stacked up with Steve. I was impressed with Mary, Stacy and Erin. Dave Brackett had a PR and Jared Buzzell ran strong too. Mike MacDonald had a solid run. Owen Lisa, Brett Helstedt and Al Bugbee toasted me and they should. They are very talented and tenacious runners - all doing Ironman this season. Tim Keene and Rob Smith both beat me and did so in fine fashion. No problem there, I know I can mix it up with them in the spring and look forward to the challenge. So it was good to get the juices flowing in the middle of the winter and get recommitted to my training. So glad I raced today, I'll remember this one for a long time. Hadn't really planned on turning myself inside out but hey, what the heck - it's a RACE BABY!

Looking forward to spring!


I Race Because I Can...

So today is the "Ten Miler", the Cape Elizabeth Mid-Winter Classic. I plan to run. I am up early this morning and I got thinking about WHY I am running. I'm not in what I would call "race shape", I have done NO speed work (it's February), it's going to be COLD, I'm 175 - not 168, I tweaked my knee a few weeks back and I can still feel a little something going on with it. So what time does the race start? Who else is running?
My wife asked me last night if I planned to run and I said yes. Then I started thinking that at times, it is more about the event than the actual miles you run in the race. Today I will get to see a bunch of friends, people I have come to know through my participation in triathlon and running. Some of them I haven't seen in months. I have heard people say that they won't race because they don't want to put up a "slow" time and see it in print. I think that's a shame. That's reality, that's WHERE YOU ARE AT right now - simple as that. If you want it to be different than do something about it. So I will race. I will race because I want to see WHERE I'M AT. I will race to support my friend Dave Brackett in his Ironman training. I'll race to see just how much faster Steve Tenney is right now, and where Jeff Small is at. I want to beat Brackett, and Mike MacDonald, see how fast Angela's husband Mark is and watch Tim Keene and Rob Smith destroy the course. I want to see if Stacy beat Erin or if Erin beats Stacy. I'm looking forward to seeing all my new friends from the Midcoast Triathlon Club. So I will race, and I'll have fun. I'll be glad I can because there will be a day I can't. So lace 'em tight boys and girls and take no prisoners!!! Here we go!!!!!