Friday, November 14, 2014

Bouncing Back for a Half (Yet another RR)

It was a busy week.

After finishing the New York City Marathon Sunday, I had 5 days to recover before doing a Pikermi on Saturday on the other coast. Just living the dream.

Monday my legs felt not too bad for day one. I went for a long walk with DW and SIL to enjoy the Fall colors in New Jersey. Then I put the calf sleeves back on for the 6-hour flight back to LA.

Tuesday was my one day at work to catch up, and then I went out that night to celebrate my son turning 21. So I met him at a seedy bar and bought him a beer and watched hockey. First time we drank together. Kind of strange. I remembered the first time I had a beer with my Dad at a party. It signifies a subtle change in the relationship. Like we are now more equal.

Anyway, it was fun. And the start of another long weekend. Because it was time for my annual reunion with my high school buddies where we play golf, eat good food, drink a lot, and do a race. This year we were going to Santa Barbara. The guys all showed up on Wednesday and we drove up from LA to SB together to our wonderful rented house near the beach.

Thursday and Friday we played 18 holes of golf in beautiful settings. Like this.

My legs were recovering very well. And we used golf carts so that helped a little. Still, that's a lot of time on my feet and in the sun. Plus drinking and stuffing myself every night is probably not the best taper plan. But we were having fun!

Saturday was race day. Did I mention we were in the middle of a heat wave? Highs of about 80. But it was nice and cool and low 50's for the 7:15AM start. I felt bad for the marathoners starting at 7:30 and having to run past Noon.

The course meandered around town before a pretty good hill at mile 11 and then a downhill finish to the beach. Parts of it were on a nice bike path. It was very scenic and pleasant.

There were six of us running, and one goal was to beat the rest of them. Last year I was suffering from Plantar Fasciitis and two of the guys beat me at Savannah. This year I had my marathon recovery excuse, but I still I thought I could run under 1:40, which meant only one guy posed a serious challenge. M had a similar sub 1:40 goal so we started together.

The start was a bit of a cluster. It was on a wide road but the start chute was in only one lane to go over the strip and through the arch. They had a sign for "sub 10-minute pace" very close to the front! And we entered from the back. So we fought our way up as far as we could, but still had to maneuver around a lot of people the first half mile. But we settled in and went through 1 in 7:32. Perfect. Felt pretty good! But probably because it was all downhill (see above for elevation).

By the end of mile 2 I was already feeling heavy legs. Ugh, this must be marathon fatigue. I was maintaining pace, but it was harder than it should have been. I let M slip away ahead of me and that took the pressure off a little. 7:32 again.

The next few miles were flat and fun on the bike path. I settled in with a group of three other runners as a kind of peloton and it helped. Two had ponytails which helped too. M was maybe 30 yards ahead but I was staying about the same distance behind and felt OK. Legs felt heavy, but cardio felt good. 7:23, 7:21, 7:28

I slipped ahead of my group in mile 6 and I started to catch more people. M started coming back to me, so I used that goal to go catch him. He was huffing and puffing pretty hard, so I knew he wouldn't be staying with me long. We were starting to go up some long gradual hills here too. I dropped M and kept moving up. Six and Seven were uphill, 7:34 and 7:52.

The hill had me pretty tired, but I was channeling my marathon spirit from 6 days ago; where I would just ignore the fatigue and keep plugging. This was nothing compared to 26 miles! Endurance experience really gives you the mental strength to push through limits.

Miles 8-10 were mostly downhill so my pace picked up. 7:40, 7:27, 7:36. I knew there was one big hill to come, so I was trying to conserve and stay relaxed. Then we turned a corner and saw the big rise. I settled in to big-hill-shuffle pace. Kept my breathing under control and plugged on up. Before long I was over the top and catching my breath, ready to push it on in. Mile 11 was 8:24 up the hill.

The downhill let me naturally pick up speed, and I was just really enjoying myself. (Maybe I'm just remembering the joy now, and forgetting about the painful fatigue) But it was a beautiful day, I could see the ocean from the cliff, just wonderful. Mile 12 - 7:19

Then there was a big banner that said, "Run 25.2 miles for yourself, and the last mile for the veterans". And there was an old guy in uniform handing out little flags. Then the whole last mile there were hundreds of full-size flags lining the road. This was a Veteran's Day race. The last mile was downhill along the coast and I was moving along with another guy who was also pushing the pace. I waved my little flag and I thought about all the pains that veterans have suffered - lost limbs, burns, PTSD - and it made it easier to push through my little race pain and accelerate even harder that last mile. Mile 13 - 6:59

The last tenth was at 6:16 pace as I waved my flag and celebrated. 1:38:51!

 and then I relaxed

 I love racing.

Happy to beat my sub 1:40 goal (and my rivals) and have a great time doing it.

Later we all went out wine-tasting in the local wineries to wrap up the weekend. Life is good.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!! You had a great race for so soon after a marathon! This really shows how important mental strategies are in racing.
    Love the flag and the visualizations you made while running. Congrats on a super race!
    Have a great Thanksgiving!