Sunday, June 3, 2012

Corrida de Toros (Ocho Kilometros)

The 8K is a somewhat unusual road racing distance, but strangely enough 3 of my last 4 races have been around this distance.  And all 3 have been run in times within 3 seconds of one another.

11/24/11:  Inside Out Sports Turkey Trot 8K (road):  31:23

12/11/11:  Couch Mountain 5 Miler (4.9mi, hilly, some trail):  31:26

6/2:12:  Running of the Bulls 8K (road):  31:26

On the surface, that is remarkable consistency, but in reality all 3 races had completely different circumstances.  

The Turkey Trot I was actually specifically training for, with the hopes of breaking 30 for the first time officially (I once split 30-even in a 10K... to the day have no idea how I did that).  Leading up to this race, my mileage was closer to 35-40 mpw with speed work once a week.  Then I went out in about a 5:45 mile and at that point, any hopes I had of finishing well were toast.  I 'mailed it in' the rest of the race, and just tried to salvage a catastrophe.  At that point I swore off road racing for a good amount of time.

At Couch Mountain, I was not well rested, and had no real goal of finishing fast, so I took it out conservative and tried to have fun with the low key 'race'.  I hammered the 2nd mile, and ended up hanging on through 3 and 4, and hammering the last one.  This turned out to be a good strategy.

From that experience, I learned to deliberately try not to go out too fast.  The same could probably be said for any distance, but particularly for these 'longer than 5K' but 'shorter than half marathon' races it seems like the best thing for me is to attempt to run the first mile at a pace just slower than my expected overall.  I figured a good result for me Saturday would be around 6:30 pace.  As it turned out, it was a cooler morning than expected, but I still set the goal of hitting 1 mile in 6:30 and then speed up if I felt up for it.  Coming back from injury, and with no speed work to speak of, I had no idea what to expect.  

1 mile in:  I was exactly where I wanted to be -- 6:30.  The second mile had a good amount of downhill, so I picked it up a fair bit.  By mile 3 I was in a good rhythm, and pretty much held even pace until the end which was a sprint onto the ballpark.  Even though I was passed by 3 guys in the last quarter-mile, I felt like I ran a smart race and had just the right amount left at the end: not so much that I wanted the race to go longer, but not so much that the last mile felt like death.  Good crowd energy and the downhill finish helped.

The common denominator in all of these races was fellow Godivan Jeff Hall, who was been on a tear lately (probably one of the only people to PR at an 80 degree+ day at Boston this year).  After having the upper hand in each of the first two races, on Saturday, I figured it was a good thing if he was at least in eye sight, which he was until the very end... but I had no chance of catching him.

I don't have any more races planned until the Ridge to Bridge Marathon in October, although I'm sure I'll jump in a 5K before the fall.  The rest of the summer will be trying to build up a good base for that race.  With a really fast course and good weather, I'm hoping to easily best my time from New York from 2010, so long as I can stay injury free and motivated.

The Spaniards have a far less litigious society...

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