Monday, February 1, 2010

"THE WALL" 30k Race Report

What is hard? As these races have increased in distance, my average heart rate has degreased appropriately. Over the past two months I have made a dramatic shift from running / racing by heart rate to running / racing by pace. In the short distance races I have seen average heart rates that would have had me holding back – scared to blow up. In these longer distance races I am trying to stay at a pre-defined average pace, never looking at my heart rate. For these longer races it is the muscles in the legs that fatigue well before the cardiovascular system is tapped. So, in all of these races over the past 2 months I have walked away from each of them thinking that each one was the hardest race I had ever run. I chalk that up to racing smarter and racing better. My average heart rate for the various distances is as follows:
7.45 - 6:39 - 181
13.1 - 6:50 - 178
15.5 - 6:53 - 172
18.6 - 6:55 - 168
This was a hard race but not as hard as the previous races. This makes me think that I could have raced harder – should have racer harder. But, I believe that I was racing the correct pace. I slowed a little bit during the 2nd quarter of the race and that cost me a few seconds. This was, however, running directly into the wind. I think it is becoming easier to race at distance. Maybe I am just better suited for running further.

On to the race report.

I awoke at 3:30 AM and it was in the high 20’s low 30’s. That is damn cold for Mississippi – the spring like temperatures left us on Friday. In fact, I went for a brief walk on Saturday and the wind plus the cold made the outside miserable. I know I am soft when it comes to the weather but I did live in the Midwest for a dozen or so years so I do understand miserable. I had several layers of clothes picked out for the race. The last race that I did in New Orleans was two weeks ago and it was windy but the temperature was a good 10 to 15 degrees warmer. In that race I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt. At the Mobile half I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt with a long sleeved shirt on top (with gloves) – that race was 23 degrees. For ‘The Wall’ 30K it felt colder than Mobile. I know that is not possible but we were chilled to the bone. I wore the same outfit that I wore in Mobile and that proved to be about perfect.

I arrived at Charles’s house at 4:40AM and Terry met us there a few minutes later. He joked that he had brought a propane heater for the trip. Charles and I were laughing until he pulled one out of his car. The drive to New Orleans was uneventful and we talked race strategies and what not. Terry had been ill the past couple of weeks and was using this as a training run (Terry PR’d the half marathon last month with a 1:23: XX). Charles and I would be running the race hard – in part to test the paces and, just as important, to build the confidence required for our marathon goals.

We arrived an hour early and checked in. We stayed in the car and kept warm. Terry fired up the heater and kept warm outside. It was cold and windy. This would be a tough race. Terry donned a disposable poncho while we waited for the race start.

I had set my ‘virtual nemesis’ for a fast pace. In fact, I was hoping to improve upon my 25k time. I wanted to run somewhere between my half marathon PR (6:50) and my 25K pace (6:53). I set the pace at 6:50. I started out near the front and tried to run an evenly paced race. The first mile clocked in at 6:49 – I really have learned about going out too fast. There were a ton of people in front of me at the start of the race but I knew that they would come back to me. I was cold and I could not feel the asphalt. My feet were like blocks of ice. This was uncomfortable. The wind was also alternating between blowing right in my face or on my left side. The levy that we were running on follows the Mississippi and sways back and forth – causing the wind to have the effect of an oscillating fan. A fan in a deep freeze that is.

During mile 2 I had to speed up a little bit to get out of ‘no man’s land’ There was no wind block and I did not want to be all alone. I sped up some and caught a shoulder of a runner. I think this was much more psychological than physiological. The wind was from my front left and I did not get much of a drafting effect. However, holding this shoulder cost me some time – it is hard to tell whether it was the wind or me just slacking off but mile 4 – 7 were some of the slowest of the race. It was during these miles that Terry passed me. Terry asked me jokingly if “I would be pushing the second half of the race?” He was insinuating that I was running easy. I passed a couple of people and caught someone running close to my goal pace. I hung with him for the rest of the race. I always say that I am too chatty during these races but the intensity is such that I can maintain most of a conversation. Mike and I talked for the rest of the race. We tried to gain on Terry and tried to keep any would be attackers at bay.

The leader of the race passed us on the out and back course. The leader had covered 10 miles in about 59 minutes. I was pleased to see the turnaround coming up and hoped for some relief from the wind. Terry was still just ahead of me. The rest of the race I would watch Terry pull away and he eventually passed the next racer in the last few miles. After the race he told me that he ran the race completely even and that I must have slowed down some. I did not feel like I had slowed but looking at my splits post-race he was correct. My pace crept up by a few seconds per mile even though the wind was not as tough. The cross wind was still brutal but it was not in your face. At the end of the race the next competitor was just out of striking distance but the guy that I was running with put in an attack. He would not even remotely catch the next guy but he did gain the position from me. I did not have much of anything to kick with – I thought I did and for a few seconds I managed a 6:30 pace. Terry finished in 7th place with at 2:06:xx with an average pace of 6:46. Charles had one of the best races that he has ever had - his confidence is running high. I finished the race in 9th place with at 2:09:21 for a 6:56 pace. I wanted to be a couple of seconds per mile faster but this was a tough race. With 4 weeks until the Mardi Gras Marathon my confidence is high. Now time to determine my pacing for the best possible marathon I can run.


Mike Russell said...

Great race -- top 10! All of that work is yielding the results you want!

Bachelor Reform said...

cool report & great finish!

Jon Gilchrist said...

solid job on top 10. U will rock the Mardi gras Mary!