Thursday, October 15, 2015

Back Into the Fray (10K RR)

My last race (not counting Ragnar) was July 4th. THREE MONTHS AGO!

Clearly it has been too long. But I have finally shaken the injury bug and got back to normal running. So that means racing about every month. This week was the Manhattan Beach 10K, an old favorite local race that I have run 15 times now. Many of my local runner friends were there, especially from my speedy track group, Club Ed. It's a rolling course with one nasty hill in mile 5 and several other ups and downs. And the finish is along the beach, where this kind of stuff was going on.

My goals were modest. I knew I wasn't ready to shoot for a PR or course record yet. Two years ago I ran 43:14 here, but last year was 45:33 on tired legs the week after the Grand Canyon. This year I figured I could shoot for 45:00, about 7:15 pace, but I figured I would be happy with anything under 46. The plan was to try and start out slow, maybe 7:45, and gradually speed up and try to have an enjoyable race, without all the suffering and agony of trying to "do my best".

But who was I kidding, right? Once the race is underway I'm always pushing my limits. Well, I would try.

I positioned myself a little further back, behind my club mates, and went out at an easy pace. I was relaxed. I wasn't weaving for no reason. Just right. First peek at lap pace showed 7:55. Great!

But then I began to pass people. I saw a few club mates that I knew I should be passing. And would be passing. But I cruised along patiently and tried to relax. Still, by 1/2 a mile my lap pace was down to 7:30's. As I hit mile one I checked my watch. 7:23.

P1160014 - Copy
 Well, fine. I still felt good.

Of course that trend meant I was really going much faster. Early in mile two I checked lap pace and it was 6:48. Oh, hell no! I dialed it back and tried to relax. Long way to go. It may be fun to run fast and pass people, but I had to consider the 5 miles yet to come, and the hills and my lack of training!

So I tried to stay within myself. A teammate who is 67 and always wins his age group (M) was just ahead of me. I knew I would (probably) catch him at some point, but for now I was happy to keep him in sight and trail him. Made it over a few hills and wasn't dying yet, so that was good. Mile two was 7:09. Waved hello to the wife. See, I'm still having fun!

In mile 3 I started passing a few teammates who had gone out too fast. But M hung with me for about two miles before I dropped him, It helped to have the company. Mile 3 was 7:15 and mile 4 was 7:10. So I figured I was pretty close to pace. But with the big hill coming in mile 5 I knew I would give some back. But I also knew that I always do well in the last mile along the beach. So I was holding out hope to still finish about 45:00.

Of course the pain was now aboard for the ride. But, not too bad. I was still running to plan - hard, but not "crazy I think I'm going to die to get a PR" hard. "In control" was my mantra. So as the hill approached I tried to just keep running until I was over the top. It's nasty.

mb10 I shuffled over while gasping for air, but as I crested I immediately felt better and opened up my stride for that big downhill. Mile 5 included the up and down and was 7:33.

Now we were on the beach bike path with a flat mile to go. Again I tried to save something. Long way to go. Too soon to "kick". I was accelerating, but I calculated that sub 45 was not likely. No need to kill myself. But I was certainly working hard, and eventually I found some people to race and kicked it in. Mile 6 was 7:08.

The finish is down a little hill to the pier. DW's camera shutter jammed a little, but I think it makes for an artistic shot.

 Here's another view.

Last .25 was 6:08 pace for a 45:07. I'll take that as a win. Finished 196th overall and 15th in my tough AG.

Here's a shot of the finish area at the beach - what a great course.

And here is a group shot of my team, many of whom picked up AG medals.
 Fun times! And just the beginning of a fun and busy day! After refueling and a glorious nap, DW and I went out to a party hosted by a chef in beautiful Palos Verdes, where the food was amazing. Then we also managed to head over to the Hollywood Bowl to see Idina Menzel in concert. She was very entertaining and sounded fantastic.

Life is good.
Postscript: Got some official pics that are pretty good. I seem to be levitating over the finish line!


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