Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Soggy Trot RR and the weekend

Normally they're called Turkey Trots. This one was a SOGGY Trot along the North Shore and Downtown. Upper-30's and LOTS of rain. But, it's the same weather for everybody (at least the 50% of the registrants that decided to show up), so onto the race.

After warming up (in the rain) but finding a dry covering by the FSN Pittsburgh studios building to stretch it was time for the race. Of course, when lining up, there were the usual suspects of people who SHOULDN'T be lined up in the first 5 or 6 'rows' of runners - the group of four wearing the elf costumes, the lady with the headphones and 80's warmups, the 'rookies' wearing their bright yellow Turkey Trot long-sleeve t-shirt for the race (a 'true' runner fashion faux pas), the couple with the turkey hats, and the list goes on and on....

The gun goes off and I weave around this group and settle in to see 'Racer X' (see background story for that) only a quarter mile into the race. I figure I'll just hang out on his hip for the first 5k and see how things go from there. The night before, I was studying the course map (so I wouldn't get lost again) and plugged it into to see where the mile markers were. Good thing I did because there were no mile markers on the course. So, I split my watch at about the points where I thought the mile markers were. I checked out the map after the race and adjusted my splits.

Anyway, the course is mostly flat other than going over the Clemente Bridge and back. So, it went out fast, but staying on Racer X's hip helped me stay under control for the first mile in front of Heinz Field and around PNC Park--5:50-5:55-ish. Up over the Clemente Bridge and hang a right past the KDKA studios over to the Boulevard of the Allies. The hands were pretty cold, but I figured wearing wet gloves wouldn't make much of a difference (other than being heavy) so the hands were bare for the race.

There's a turnaround around the two mile-ish mark by the old YMCA and I was able to see how many runners were ahead (though it didn't really matter yet since the 5k runners were with us still) and see who was behind. I saw Charlie among the group on their way back in his usual racing red top. It looked like there were 20 or 30 or so people ahead of me, but not much to learn from that yet.

We go back over the bridge (with Racer X still right around me) and hit the 3 mile mark. I was right around 18:00 at this point. The 5k-ers turned in to the finish by the home plate entrance to PNC Park while us 5-milers moved on to go around Heinz Field and turnaround at the casino.

In my vicinity, there was a group of three runners and then me and Racer X. I started sizing things up at the casino turnaround (mile 4-ish) and thought I felt pretty good considering the circumstances of the weather and everything. So, with about a half mile to go, I put a surge on before the final U-turn. I planted my foot hard at that turn and sprinted a couple of strides. Then, we had a right turn onto Art Rooney Ave and I planted the foot and sprinted a couple of more strides. Next thing you know, it was no longer about holding off Racer X but realizing that group of 3 in front of me just may be catchable. We make the final turn onto General Robinson St and I'm sizing up how far away PNC Park is off in the distance and how soon and how hard I should make my kick.

I go for it and pass the first runner, putting on a surge so he wouldn't hold on. This transitioned me right beside runner number two so I just kept it up and went past him. I'm closing in on runner 3 and laying it out there. Unfortunately, I didn't catch him by surprise because I think I let out a few grunts of effort in my attempts to close the gap on him. He looked over his shoulder, saw me, and put in an extra little kick to where I couldn't catch him.

But, it was a fun time trying to chase him down. We talked after the finish line and he was in town from Denver, Colorado visiting family. Real nice guy....and I couldn't believe from hearing the results that he won the masters division. I looked in the results when I got home and sure enough there he was. No way this guy was 42! But, I guess staying in shape pays off and makes you look younger.

The final tally was I ended up a soggy 30:43 on the chip (6:08 pace) good for 10th overall and 1st in my age group (30-39). The first picture is from the race website photos. It's funny because that diagonal copyright text flowed down the screen--very fitting analogy for how it rained all day.
Also, I posted the picture of the bobblehead award on facebook and it earned a description of 'creepy.' Can't say I disagree with that....especially when the head starts bobbling and those eyes seem to follow you around the room.

Another thing, I'm not a big fan of when the age group is 30-39 because the next number after 39 is 40 and that just seems OLD (just kidding and apologies to those great athletes already in their 40's--not that I'll mention names and call you out since you don't look like you're 40. You know who you are!). I'm real excited about a top 10 finish in this big of a race. Also, I was really happy about how the race played out. Staying conservative at the beginning and not getting pulled in by the top 5k people left enough in the tank for a strong half mile surge to the finish to pick up three spots. Other than the rain, a real fun, fast race and I'll definitely consider doing it again next year.

Congrats to all the people who toughed it out and showed up and raced in that weather including Charlie, Jeremy & Jocelyn, Tara, Shelly, and a handful of the students from my school. Up next, we're doing the Trot for Tots next weekend and then I'm going to shut it down for December before ramping it up in January for the Pittsburgh marathon.

I ended up sticking around for the awards, which of course weren't done in a timely manner despite there only being about 30 people standing there inside the PNC Park garage. I thought it would be most efficient to just ask each person still there to state their name and give each poor, soggy soul their award so we could go home to get dry and warm!!!, Although a little tighter on time than originally planned, I stopped at home for a really quick (and very HOT!) shower and, thanks to Beth's exemplary driving (that officer was targeting someone else for speeding!), we made it just in time for the Thanksgiving lunch at my parents house.

Then, Thursday night we went down to Uniontown to save a drive the next morning when they were calling for a wintry mix. After a nice, chilly (although thank goodness dry!) hour run around downtown Uniontown in the morning, we caught the Pitt-WVU game. What was up with those uniforms? I read something about it paying tribute to the miners and steelworkers, but...ugh!

We then went down to Fallingwater. That was my first ever time there. Pretty impressive structure. It would be amazing to live there in the summer and fall asleep to that running water every night.
After an amazing dinner at Nemacolin (Beth and I only managed to make ourselves look like country bumkins a handful of times), back home.

Saturday, we saw an amazing movie called '127 hours' about Aaron Ralston and his fight for survival after getting his arm pinned underneath a rock while hiking. I heard his interview on Dateline NBC a few years back and it was amazing to see that story be placed on the big screen. Amazing is all I can say. If you're looking for a Christmas present, he wrote a book telling the story. It's called 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place.' At least the man has a sense of humor with that title.

Back to school on Monday and the start of indoor track practice, but Christmas will be right around the corner I'm sure. That's how December usually works!

Good luck to Kim competing at IM Cozumel today!

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving!


Beth said...

Racer X goes DOWN!!!! :) Great job in some seriously nasty weather!

Steve said...

You know I read this last night, and I wasn't sure if you ended up beating Racer X. I was tired though. Congrats. You silently get your training in, and boom you hit a huge race.

Also I thought about this morning about you shutting it down in December to ramp it back up. I assume that means you have been training pretty hard.

So you got Racer X. No Racer X in my vicinity. I guess my Racer X is the clock. :)

Congrats again. I bet you had to be more excited then you let on.