Monday, September 27, 2010

Great Morning, Great Race

Great Race number three is under my belt and I'll definitely say it was a successful morning. I didn't hit my PR from two years ago, but I was pretty close. The weather was near perfect, starting out in the upper 40's/lower 50's when I went out to walk Roxy the Dog in the morning and was probably in the upper 50's at race time.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me throw in the obligatory disclaimer about the downhill topography of this course. It's a point-to-point course that has a layout like so:
I drove straight to the starting area and did the usual pre-race rituals. I met up with my cousin K and Uncle J after they got dropped off. After a pit stop, we set up camp at my car and did our warmup. Now, the lines at the port-o-jons at the Great Race are typically expansive, so when K and I found a construction site (with port-o-jon and no other people to form lines) during our warmup AWAY from the start, we took full advantage of it. We finished the jogging and stretching and off to the start line.

Since I didn't race last this year and didn't have any speedy 10k times to submit, I was back in the unseeded area. But, from my experience three years ago I knew exactly how to weave up to the front of it and put myself in a position to be right behind the seeded runners.

However, I must say I am still dismayed at the 50-year-old ladies (with headphones!!), 250-lb 'corporate' guys with cell phones, runners who "were" fast, and little kids that line up right near the start.

Dudes! Congrats on getting in line early and being near the front, but you're about to get run over unless you get out at sub-6:00 pace! I had this 60 or so year old guy beside me ask me why some of the people got to be in front of the yellow tape (oh, my friend, if you're asking that you REALLY shouldn't be standing beside me). Yoi!

With the record crowds (14,000 between the 5k and 10k), there was about a 10 minute delay getting everybody across the start line and up the hill to the back of the pack.

Finally, it was race time!

The gun goes off and I weave around a few people, but was in my rhythm by the first hill into Squirrel Hill. I catch K (the big time seeded runner) a little before the first mile and wish her good luck (not that she needed it with the day she had!).

Mile 1 came and went in 5:46. (2008 I was 5:33 and 2007 I was 5:59 with a lot of weaving). Right about where I wanted to be. Now, for the downhills to commence to Oakland.

Mile 2 was 5:33 (5:22/5:32 in 08/07) and find that I'm sighting off the seeded women to give me some targets among the hundred or so people ahead of me. Work hard to catch up to one and then set sights on the next one.

Mile 3 flattens out into Oakland and was 5:59 (5:57/6:05) so 17:18 through 3 miles and probably around 18 or so for the 5k.

Mile 4 takes us past Presby (Beth's work hangout) and towards the Boulevard of the Allies. Still feeling good and split a 5:29 (5:30/6:04) with 3 more females ahead of me.

Mile 5 goes up the Boulevard of the Allies past Duquesne University and is the only true uphill of the course and I wanted to keep it under 6 minutes...and I did--5:55 (5:57/6:30).

Mile 6 arrives after a plunge down to downtown and a couple of 90-degree turns to get out near the river. I pass the #2 and #1 females and split a 5:25 (5:42/5:50). The last two years I started developing stomach cramps in the last mile. Fortunately they didn't show up this year and I was able to breathe normal and it showed up in the time.

I pass Beth just past the 6-mile mark and then bring it in to the finish. With it being a point-to-point, nearly straight-line course, there wasn't much spectating for Beth to do. However, she made the most of her one chance by being really visible leaning over the fence, cheering loud, and snapping this great action photo.
So, finishing time on my watch of 35:15, but I guess I musn't have started my watch exactly when I crossed over the starting mats because the computers had me listed as 35:20. Regardless, not too far off of my 35:07 from two years ago. Good enough for 5:41 pace, 44th overall out of 7958 finishers, and 9th in my age group out of 570 finishers. I was hoping to be under 6:00 pace and be in the low 36:xx neighborhood, so I'll take it.

I wasn't sure how it would go since I wasn't training with the XC boys every day this year. But, coming off the solid half ironman training from the summer and I was pretty consistent with either running or swimming in the mornings 3-4 times/week and long runs with Beth on the weekend (In fact, I had a 1650yd pool PR last week and I'm getting close to cracking 30 minutes!!). I guess that showed up in my splits, not faster for the first half, but a great finish. If you go with 18 minutes-ish for the 5k, that's a negative split. I'll definitely take that.

K had a huge PR and finished in the top 10 females!

We also had 8 teachers from my school (plus another 5 or so from other schools in the district and another 5 or so wives/daughters/etc) that ran and a lot of them had great days also, hitting PR's and time goals. We had these big plans to rondezvous for a group photo after the race, but the whole 10,000+ people derailed that and we were only able to snap a shot of a fraction of the group.
A big congrats to the gal in the middle who went from not really running since high school, to running 55+ (9 minute pace) two years ago, to running the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2009, to having a kid, and coming back to run 50:03 (8 minute pace). Great job!

One other loose end to tie up.....Racer X took me down 22 seconds. I never really saw him ahead of me during the race because of all the people, but Beth saw him and told me about it after I finished. He was 8 places ahead of me. Oh well, maybe next time.

Once we got our cars and stuff, we met up with K and Uncle J (and the spouses) for lunch at Mad Mex. Yum! We took some post-meal photos, lining up all kinds of different combinations. It was starting to feel like a wedding photo shoot!!! Here's a just a small sample:
The three racers.
The "kids"

The quads were a little sore today, but that's to be expected with the downhills. The high school guys were doing some crazy 400 repeats today. One of them asked me if I was joining them for the workout today. I laughed and grabbed a stopwatch and told them I was just being "coach" today.

6 days until Beth leaves for Kona. 9 for me. 12 until the big race on the big island!


Steve said...

Congrats on the race. I saw the time, and did the math. 6x6=36... WOAH!!!!

Pretty competitive field to get 9th place with that time.

Good Job!

Beth said...

What a great race - no pun intended!! :) I didn't realize how much faster your last mile was this year as compared to others. Back to my theory of how much stronger you are!!! You looked awesome finishing too! take down Racer X... hmm.... ;)

runningyankee said...

first - congrats on a spectacular race! second - you said YOI. I love that.

Kim said...

Nice Job! That is a lot of downhill.. yikes.. those hurt after! Glad you met your goal!!

m said...

Congrats on running a great race...ha ha! Pretty impressive to do the negative splits.

I never understand why people who aren't fast line up in front when they are just going to get run over. It is comical and annoying at the same time.