Sunday, September 9, 2012

Camp Lael Race and Good Tempo Run

There are two races that I plan to do every year because they involve causes my family and I support. The first is the Open Door Julie Run, which was in June and the Camp Lael 5k Run / Walk, which was on Saturday. A 5k race wasn't really in line with my half marathon training at this point, but I had no intention of missing it. This is the only race ever where I was the defending champion and I don't know if I'd ever have the chance to run a race like that again.

Out of the 30 or so person field this year, there were only 3 "competitive runners" including myself - everyone else either ran sporadically or walked. The other two were both men in their mid 20's and both looked to be in good shape.

I went to the race expecting not to need to run hard, based on last year's experience, but had a race on my hands. One of the guys was doing what looked like wind sprints in the parking lot and my wife said "Uh-oh, you're going to have to run". She was right.

The course was 3 laps around the camp, for the first loop, we were all basically together. I didn't feel like I "had it" at all, but I was holding on. Mid-way through the second lap, the young tall guy and I pulled away from the other guy. It was obvious to me that the tall guy was stronger than I on this day (he was the one running around before the race). I just tried to hang close and hoped that he'd tire. On the last half of the last lap, I noticed he was having some issues and decided to pass him on the downhill of the second to last hill and did. I tried to speed up enough to put some distance between him and me, but he was the fastest uphill runner I've ever seen and caught me on the last hill. He got a few seconds on me and despite my furious finish were I nearly caught him, he edged me out to win.

I wasn't "on" today and have been training for longer races at a slower pace, but I'm happy with how I did overall. The pace wasn't that special, but with the very hilly course (can I get a flat one someday?) and rocky terrain, it wasn't bad. This was the first distance race I have ever run where I was basing my pace on what others were doing. I'm not sure this was a good thing. This was a tough course, but my pace during the second mile, and overall, was slower than I would have expected. I thought we were going faster than we were - it was different actually racing against someone.

The cool thing about racing against someone is that there was strategy involved, at least on my part. I wasn't having a great day, but I hung around, hung around, hung around and then made a move. It wasn't enough to win, but I felt like I had the upper hand mentally and gave myself the best chance to win.

I planned to so a "long, easy" run today of about 11 -12 miles, but I just didn't have time, so I scaled it back to 8 and it ended up more of a "tempo" run. I was still planning to take it easy, but starting out I felt surprisingly good considering I raced the day before. My legs felt good and the cool weather (around 50F to start), certainly helped. I didn't look at my watch but once or twice, but except for the first two miles (where there is a big downhill on the first mile), I got faster mile after mile. The splits were: 8:43, 9:01, 8:37, 8:36, 8:23, 8:21, 8:16, 8:03 and there was a sub-7 minute pace finish for the last .13 miles. I couldn't have planned negative splits any better. This run was right at the pace I need to hit my half marathon goal. Very happy with the run and a good confidence builder.

Do you ever race against someone rather than against the clock or yourself? How'd it go?

Before a "big" race, do you ever have that run that makes you think "I'm Ready!"? Were you?


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