Monday, December 10, 2012

Execute a Plan

John McKay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers football coach from the '70s, was asked what he thought of his team's "execution." He replied, "I'm all for it." They weren't all that good as the expansion team went 2-26 in their first two seasons....

Well, I had a plan for my final race of the 2012 season, the Jingle Bell 5k, and hoped to execute it as well. This was my first race since the Columbus Marathon. I've enjoyed the down time....perhaps a bit two much according to the scale in our bathroom. But, over the past few weeks I got my mileage up into the mid-20's and also did a 6 x 400m workout each of the last two weeks to remember what it was like to run fast (and not embarrass myself).

The plan for this flat, fast course was to be conservative in the first half of it and negative split. Where would that get me? Under 18 maybe? Who knows.

Where's the snow? It's December!

I met up with Chad and Eric A on the North Shore and we ran the course together as a warmup on a beautiful high 40s/ low 50's, partly sunny December morning (normally it would be snowing). As we ran, I showed them where I thought the turnaround was based on the online map and directions, right by the Heinz Plant. We finish stretching and get to the line for the start of the race.

The female starter from a local TV or radio station yells a "ready" command in a big, loud voice. But, then she nearly whispers a "go" and caught nearly everybody off-guard. Chad, was on it and went out like he was in the PIAA XC state championship (he mentioned after the race, his first mile was 5:10). I went for the more conservative approach and settled in around the top 12 or so and came through the first mile in 5:26.

Chad's WAY up in front after his start
We go down along River Road and I see ahead of the police motorcycle escort a police barricade across the road WAY too early from what I saw on the map. But, I figured since everybody in front of me was turning I needed to turn, too. From the turnaround to the "2" mile marker, I was starting to work my way up....10th place.....8th place....7th place....then beside two other runners for 4th-5th-6th. I split my watch at the marker and saw that my "2nd mile" was 4:25. Ha, ha. My theory about turning too early had been confirmed. But, knowing that everybody was doing the same course and also recognizing that I was going to race even a shorter distance, I put on a surge to get ahead of the other two runners into 4th.

We go up a short hill to get back up to the main road, do a 180-degree turn at a switchback and head for home. I took a TERRIBLE line coming off the path and swung WAY wide, but recovered enough and kicked to hold off the runners behind me.

It took me 3 lanes of the road to make the turn. Oops!
The winner was WAY ahead, then it was Eric J (another triathlete) 2nd and Chad 3rd. I came across 11 seconds later for 4th AND A FINISHING TIME PR OF 14:10!!!!!! US Olympic Trials here I come!!! Okay, so it maybe was 2.58 miles.

I'll take that and file it under the "race executed as planned" category. Picking off 7 or 8 places in the last 1+ mile was rewarding and suited my fitness.

The scary thing is that I probably would've been right around my 5k PR of 17:06, in spite of it being the "off-season." Here's the calculations (I am a math teacher):

According to this, it would have projected to a 17:01 or 17:02, but should you add a second or two since it's a longer distance by a half mile? Could I have found a little burst to get my first every sub-17? I guess we'll never know. However, it probably could have at least PR'ed.

Big thanks to Beth who, after biking 27 miles down to the start from home that morning, was cheerer, coach, and photographer extraordinaire! It was also fun seeing a lot of fellow teachers out. They all did great jobs and I'm excited to see how they do leading up to the marathon/half marathon weekend here in Pittsburgh in May.

All in all, a good finish to a satisfying season of racing. Most importantly, I FINALLY hit the 3:00 mark in the marathon. However, also looking back, I noticed that, if you take out the two marathons and the 8,000-person Great Race (finished 54th and 3rd in my age group), all of my other races I managed to finish in single digits: 9th Spring Thaw 15 mi, 2nd Freeport Flash 5k, 9th Man Up 5k, 3rd Hampton 4th of July 5k, 4th (Saturday).

The plans are coming into shape for next season so I'll have to post about them soon, too.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Come a math teacher you couldn't "find" a few extra seconds in that equation to go sub 17???? :) Great job on a race well run!!!!