Monster Dash 10 Mile

>> Monday, November 02, 2009

Or “Trying a New Race Strategy”

Or “You’re Never Gonna Shut Me Up”

Friday night, Pharmie and I made homemade pizza. About 70% of the pizza was ham and cheese for me, and the other 30% was veggies, shooms, and other gross things for Pharmie:

The next morning, we were up EARLY. Pharmie had to be down to Savage MN by 5:45 am. My race was much closer (just 10 miles away in Minneapolis) and later, but I got up with her. I was at my race, with my chip and number on, with more than 2 hours to spare. But I’m crazy like that, so I LOVED it that I was early.

I parked about a quarter mile from the starting line, and I had the street to myself. Here’s my headlights shining showing no one else around:

I had to go to the bathroom, and there were a few porta potties near my car (as part of a water stop). So I did my big morning #2 prior to all the crowds converging. And it was chilly, so I didn’t take off anything more than my pants to do my business:

I'm pantsless and pooping at this moment

Right behind where I parked, there was this sign next to Lake Harriet:

The starting line wasn’t set up yet. In fact, there was no one else around. But between a row of porta potties and some barricades, I knew I was in the right area:

So now that I was there and knew where everything was going to go down, I went back to my car. I set the alarm on my watch and passed out for 20 minutes. I got up and jogged to the Lake Harriet Bandshell where people were gathering for the half marathon start (the 1/2 mary and the 10 mile had different starting lines). I ran into Jen who was warming up for the half:

I checked out the festivities around the Bandshell, looked for anyone I knew, and then headed back to my car. I checked out the 10 mile start before stopping at my car, and the starting line was emerging:

I went back to the car, stripped down to my Sugoi compression tights and warm long-sleeve top, and headed for the starting line. I took time to take care of one more #1 at the porta potties. Then I chatted with Tracie Kent as we waited for the start. We tried to stay warm - the air temp was OK, but there was a strong breeze coming off the lake. We lined up and waited for the half marathon to start nearly a mile up the road. There were 4 guys right in front of me in racing flats. I smiled and thought they’d be the first 4 finishers, and I’d just try to keep up with them. Soon, we were underway.

I HAD A NEW RACE STRATEGY FOR THIS RACE. There’s been discussion on my blog that I maybe don’t start off hard enough. I did the TC 10 Mile in 1:02:43, with 5 mile splits of 32:09 and 30:34. I chatted with a few people in the first part of that race, and I didn’t know how much that was slowing me up. At this race, I was going to go out harder. Instead of constantly building my pace, I was going to go out harder and just try to hold on. I was nervous to try this, but I knew this was a good race to experiment.

So I took off harder than usual. I HAD to quickly chat with a man just after starting - I can’t just STOP talking. I need to stay friendly!! We talked about how the wind is really going to slap us in the face from miles 6-9. We couldn’t wait. Soon, I was running in 3rd place.

Running past where the half marathon had just started, I heard my name a few times. Amblyn cheered as I went by, and so did Kerry Y (who was wielding a big camera, of course). I tried to keep running strong. I was still running in third: first was a block up ahead, second was 75 feet in front of me, and checking over my shoulder I saw that I was in third by over a block.

Around mile 2, someone from Kerry's crew of photographers snapped a photo of me:

I missed the first 2 mile markers, so I didn’t know how hard I was running. Soon, I’d find out.

Mile 3: 18:29 overall. Compare that to 19:23 at mile 3 at the TC 10 Mile. I was running FASTER! Nice!

Right around the mile 3 marker, I saw Andy N on his bike (we recently cheered him on to a sub 10:30 IM WI finish). He shouted “Hey Steve!! Nice work!” I said “Andy! How are you?” “I’m good! How are you Steve?” I smiled: “I’m doing good! Thanks!” Andy’s closing remarks had me smiling for the next 1/2 mile. He ended with “I’m glad to see you’re still talking!!” I learned I can’t just shut-up and run. I want to be personable. I WANT to smile, say “hi,” and wave to people cheering for me. I’d have so much LESS fun if I just stayed “in the zone” and ran. Thanks for the great comment, Andy!

Just before mile 4, the guy running in second really started to slow up. I passed him as we exchanged well-wishes.

Mile 4: 6:12. “Nice pace. Hold this, Steve!” Right after hitting mile 4, I saw Manny (who also just finished IM WI) in the distance. I smiled as I got closer, and he saw it was me. “Hey Manny!” He shouted back: “Go Steve! Yeah man! Go get em!!” He ran out onto the street to give me a high-five.

Mile 5: 6:08. Half way split: 30:50. Nice! That was 1:19 faster than when I was at mile 5 of the TC 10 Mile.

The “turn-around” wasn’t until after mile 5.5 being we started the race by running around the lake, and we didn’t have to run around the lake on the way back. We made a couple of left turns to go around a block (where there was a timing mat), and then made a right turn to get back on the same course we ran out on. (Of course I had to say “good morning” to the guy running the timing mat!) Here’s the course map:

BEFORE the turn-around, I saw 1st place was a few minutes in front of me - we said “nice job” to each other as we met. AFTER the turn-around, I saw that I had 2nd place by nearly 2 minutes over 3rd place. That guy I passed was WAY back there.

Mile 6: 6:13. Good... but I was starting to hurt a little. For the next mile, as I was running “back,” I was meeting those running “out.” I said hi to those I knew. Lots of people were cheering for me, too. The little rolling hills were getting annoying. Oh, and before mile 6, we turned back into the wind. It wasn’t cold; it just felt like I was REALLY fighting against it. Suck-fest.

Mile 7: 6:17. Hurting a little, getting a little side-stitch, and just trying to hold on. Just after mile 7, the trail split. Shortly after, I saw Manny again. He was ready for me this time, and snapped a photo on his phone. Here I am running past a surprised mailman:

Thanks for the photo, Manny!

Here’s where the “wheels fell off” as they say. Bucking the wind was taking its toll, I had a decent little side-stitch on my right side, and this next mile had the biggest hill of the race course. Leading up to the hill, there was a straight stretch with big trees on either side, and it was like I was in a wind tunnel. And then there was the hill. It felt like I was walking up it. Yuck. A few blocks on the other side of that hill was the next mile marker. I KNEW this was going to be a nasty slow mile...

Mile 8: 6:31. Yep... ugly. Slowest mile of this race AND the TC 10 Mile. During the TC 10 Mile at this point, I was running 6:00 miles. At this race, I was spent. Shortly, the road was filled with 2-way runners again. I heard my name (or “Steve in a Speedo”) SOOO many times!! Thanks for the cheers everyone!! So many spectators and racers were cheering for me! THANKS EVERYONE!!

Right around mile 8, Andy appeared on his bike again. He trailed me or led me for the last 2 miles. He didn’t pace me, he just hung around and cheered for me now and then. Thanks again, Andy!

I hit the edge of the lake and turned right. As I was coming up to mile 9, I checked over my shoulder. That guy I passed around mile 4 (who I had a 1:40 lead over near the turn around) was gaining on me, and QUICK! I turned around, lowered my chin, and gave all I could.

Mile 9: 6:17. “I’m beat. But I can NOT let this guy behind me catch me.” ...but I knew I was going to be caught. The trails along the road were filled with people getting ready to start the 5K race, so LOTS of people were cheering. I heard his footstrides behind me, and I knew I was going to be passed like I was standing still. Sure enough, in the blink of an eye, I went from 2nd to 3rd with about a half mile left.

I headed to the balloon arch, heard Amblyn cheering for me again, and hit the finishline ready to die.

Mile 10: 6:08.

Total: 1:02:19
Pace: 6:13.9
First 5: 30:50 / Last 5: 31:29

3rd out of 937 overall
1st out of 48 in M25-29 age group

I grabbed some water and walked back down along the course to find some friends. I said hi to Kerry Y and chatted with Amblyn for a few minutes. As I was talking with her, I cheered some friends across the line. I couldn’t linger - I had to get going so I could get down to Pharmie’s race and cheer her on! I jogged back to my car and quick snapped a photo with 10 milers and half marathoners running in the background:

So, what do I think about this new race strategy? I dunno. Here are some pros and cons.

- I PRed, taking 24 seconds off my 10 mile time over the TC 10 Mile. The numbers don’t lie.

- I didn’t “finish strong;” I finished nearly dead. I was SO ready to be done.
- I enjoyed running this race MUCH less than the TC 10 Mile.

So, I WAS faster, but I didn’t enjoy myself as much. There’s a “line” somewhere between enjoying the race and turning in THEE fastest time possible. I always want to be faster, but I don’t know that those 24 seconds were justified. This race was the first in a long time that I did not negative split, and it hurt. It hurt bad. Was it worth 24 seconds? I’m just not sure it was. But, I WILL try racing hard in the beginning like that again. We’ll see what the next longer race holds for me!

So anyway, I hopped in my car, drove 30 miles south to Pharmie’s 50K race, and ran part of one of the trail loops with her! She did SO GOOD!! I’ll have photos from her BEAUTIFUL race in a day or 2!


Jumper 2.0 5:27 AM, November 02, 2009  

I think you would have run faster anyway and that you need to stop listening to people that don't know what they're talking about.

Maria 6:59 AM, November 02, 2009  

First off, congrats on the PR. Second, I think it's great that you experimented with people's input about your running, that shows that you're flexible and really open to feedback. However, I agree with Jumper, you know what's best for you and if starting out slow and talking works best, then stick with it!

Nat 7:39 AM, November 02, 2009  

Ditto to what everyone has said. You need to do what feels right to you and decide what you want out of the race and the best way to get it. Great job steve!

jen 8:07 AM, November 02, 2009  

Congrats Steve!! Great race and report. I'm glad you tried the other strategy so you can evaluate. Either way you post amazing times so I don't think you can go wrong. :) Well done! And congrats to Pharmie!! :)

GoBigGreen 10:35 AM, November 02, 2009  

Like Jumper said, "race your race."
The TCM 10 mile is a bit more challenging ( not meant to sound like Sunday wasnt, i know it was windy! ) but less concern over seconds or PR's is a good thing. Glad you are looking at the big pic of "did i enjoy this?" etc....congrats to Pharmie. That is a long day!

Regina 11:05 AM, November 02, 2009  

Congrats on the PR! I don't know. I've been a competitive athlete my whole life. I am kind of at the point (age!) where I really want to enjoy the sport I am participating in. That is not to say I don't want to improve or just lolly-gag my way through a race. But like you said, there is a line. I prefer to be on the enjoyment side of that line, otherwise, I may not continue. But, that's just me.

I want a post with a lineup of every indoor porta potty shot in sequence. It's a small dream, but you gotta have one, and that is mine.

B. Kramer 1:14 PM, November 02, 2009  

Congrats on the PR and third place finish. If I were you, I think I'd go back to negative splits but try to balance the first half to get a little faster. But you know you best. Cheers!

Janet Edwards 1:16 PM, November 02, 2009  

First off, the pantsless and pooping was too funny!

Great going on the PR! I may have to force myself to try your strategy one these races as I always go out to hard and have the sufferfest towards the end like you did there!

Irish Cream 1:34 PM, November 02, 2009  

Congrats on the PR and 3rd place finish! But I totally agree with you . . . you get to a point where if you are THAT concerned with racing your guts out, it just takes all the joy out of it. And if that's the case, what's even the point? I agree with everyone else . . . you and only you can know what racing strategy is best for you. Great job, Steve! You are awesome! :)

Coach Liz 4:00 PM, November 02, 2009  

Congratulations on the PR.

Now that you know for sure that you want to be a social and fun-loving racer who annoys the crap out of the other racers at the end when you pass them and ask them how they are feeling, you should be able to set up your next race plan.

You have been doing the right thing by keeping up with your track workouts to get faster and they have been paying off. You got an opportunity to feel the hurt this time and you got to experience what it does to you mentally during a race so you will know what to expect in the future.

Find your 10 days of flat out goof-off recovery time with no major workouts (light fun ones are ok) for this winter and then begin the process of building again. You might be surprised to see what happens to your speed over those 10 days when you allow your body to get a good rest. Keep it to 10 and no more than 14 or you will be fighting to come back.

Good on ya and Congratulations to Pharmie as well. I look forward to reading about her run.

Jumper 2.0 4:20 PM, November 02, 2009  

I agree with Maria and the others! And thank you everybody for assuming the positive about what I wrote earlier. I just read it and kind of winced but I met exactly how you guys responded.
Congrats on the great run Steve.

Bootchez 5:16 PM, November 02, 2009  

One might say that running without talking is like pooping without smiling . . . what's the point?

Seriously, how can you poop with a smile on your face and not get all squinty and stuff? I remain amazed.

Missy 7:13 PM, November 02, 2009  

Thanks for the poop shots, always appreciated, well, thanks for being waist up anyway. Sounds like a very successful day to me, congrats! Oh, and that Jen always looks way to nice for her races;)

tri-mama 7:17 PM, November 02, 2009  

Fun Seeing you out there! I think I passed you going out on the half course when you would have been coming into mile 7- you looked great and I'd say I like to see the smiling, having fun Steve-so maybe just save the PR races for once in awhile. :-)

teacherwoman 8:05 PM, November 02, 2009  

If you don't like going out fast, then don't do it! Especially if you didn't enjoy the race.

Nice work, though!

Unknown 8:15 PM, November 02, 2009  

Congrats on many levels! First for being open to tying something new. You will never know where your current limits are until you test yourself. "Embrace the pain" it's coming, learn to enjoy that little bit of suffering at the end, when you can work through fatigue pain and overcome it, it will open new doors for you. You accomplished that in this race, or at least started to. Work on your pacing strategy during training now. Your avg pace was 6:13 for the 10 miler so when you are training for longer distance races, shoot for 6:10-6:13 pace, that's your threshold. Take this race and use it for the learning tool it is. Practice your 6:10 pace for mile to two mile repeats, as well as fast finishes in a longer run. You can hold 6:10's, and if you practice the right way, you will do that in your next race not feeling quite so bad at the end. Good luck! You can do it! I'm psyched that you tried! Great effort!

Unknown 8:23 PM, November 02, 2009  

and to jumper 2.0- don't be so quick to say others don't know what they are talking about if they don't agree with your opinion.
I am a 15 year veteran coach and exercise physiologist of age group winning and podium finisher triathletes at the Hawaii Ironman, Boston qualifiers and professional bike racers.
I know what I'm talking about. Stepping out of the box and testing yourself a bit is great and you can enjoy the process of becoming fitter all the way. Steve managed to try something new and still enjoy himself so kudos to him!

Runner Leana 8:27 AM, November 03, 2009  

Congratulations on your great race Steve! You know, I think there is something to the art of a nice negative split and a lot of us have trouble achieving it. If it makes your races more fun, then go for it!

E-Speed 1:49 PM, November 03, 2009  

Glad you got the PR! In my experience the best way to run a race is even splits, so maybe next time try for some middle ground :) And I still think at any distance over 10 miles you should be able to chat a bit without really affecting your time. Those paces are naturally at an aerobic level that you can sustain for longer periods, hence you aren't going all out, and aren't at a pace that you can't put in a few good words to your neighbors. I thrive off saying good job to many late in the race, and I know for sure it makes me feel stronger and helps me to continue to run fast. I think we are similar in that manner, and that it brings us enjoyment to feed off and help others during the race.

Jumper 2.0 7:08 PM, November 03, 2009  

LOL at the porta potty "ad"

it's all about pace 1:28 PM, November 05, 2009  

nicely done on the PR... I think it's good that you changed your strategy... If you try nothing new... you don't have much chance to learn what is possible.... and *that* I think, is what it's all about.

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