This weekend (11/3/2012) I ran the Louisville Sports Commission mini-marathon. I had signed up for it with the mindset to use it as a training day to get some good numbers to work with to help guide my training through the winter as I prepare for 70.3 Panama the beginning of February. I had no intentions of tapering for the race.
Race morning was a bit brisk with temperatures in the mid to upper 30’s. If you know anything about me, you know I hate the cold and thrive in the heat. I got down to the race early so I wouldn’t have to fight for parking and killed some time before the race chatting with some friends that were also doing the 13.1 mile run through downtown Louisville and Cherokee Park. Everyone seemed to be excited for the day. As the sun rose over the horizon, the temperature seemed to rise as well. I made some last minute apparel changes to what I was planning to run in and worked my way to the front of the start line for a few last minute stride outs.
The count down for the race started and the gun went off. I found myself leading the pack for about the first mile or so, but I knew there were faster runners here. I quickly surrendered the lead to two guys that were wearing matching uniforms. By the second mile, I found myself in 5th place, but the other 4 guys were less than 10 yards in front of me. I wasn’t concerned about it, because I had a feeling that at least two of them were going out too fast.
We hit Lexington Road for the long gradual up hill climb for about 2 miles to Cherokee Park. As I was running up that 2 mile stretch I passed 4th and 5th place. The guy in 4th place was pacing off of me, running either beside me or just behind. I took notice of his breathing and could tell that he was running above threshold and wouldn’t be able to hold this pace for longer than a couple miles at best. I looked at my HR monitor. My HR was about 170-171… right at or just under threshold by a couple BPM. I figured I would just let this guy wear himself out on the hardest part of the course as we entered Cherokee Park for miles 4 through 7.
About half way through the park, it started hailing/sleeting/freezing rain for just a few minutes. I thought to myself that it would have been nice to have those extra clothes I ditched before the race… but it stopped after a couple minutes, leaving the road a bit slick. Me and the other guy started running up the back side of hill leading up to Hogan’s Fountain. If I remember right, he was a few meters in front of me at the base of the hill. I pushed the hill to just above threshold to catch him and put distance on him during the hill. I love running hills. Once I got to the top, instead of relaxing a bit to recover, I wanted to put the nail in coffin on this guy and mentally beat him by keeping the pace on the flats and use the down hill section to put more distance on him. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill about a half mile later, he was several meters behind. I thought to myself… I shouldn’t see him again if I can hold it together.
However, the other guy I passed first on my way up Lexington Road wasn’t about to give up so easily. He made his presence known as he picked up the pace to catch me on the long climb on Grinstead. By the time we reached Cherokee Road, we were running stride for stride and continued to do so for about a mile. I checked my HR. Still about 170 BPM… just under threshold.
When we reached the down hill section leading to Liberty Street, I picked up my cadence and leaned forward even more to use gravity to carry me down the hill. Once I hit Liberty, he dropped back several meters. I knew that the rest of the race was basically flat and would have to maintain good form if I wanted to keep him from catching me. I focused on the forward lean, landing on my forefoot, kissing the ground with my heel to let my calf muscle relax briefly, and running with my arms high but with relaxed shoulders.
Over the last 5 miles of the race, I would occasionally look over my shoulder to see if he was making any ground on me. Best I could tell, he was slowly fading. We ran all the way down to 25th street (I think) took a right hand turn and another on Main and had about 1.5 miles of straight road until the finish line. I started picking up the pace a little bit.
With about 1/2 to 3/4 mile left to go, my friend Ryan Althaus escorted me on his bike. He encouraged me to pick up the pace, get on my toes and kick it in. My legs and chest were hurting as I kicked it in. I gave on last glance over my shoulder to see where 4th place was and figured he was about 30 seconds behind. I was on my way to a 3rd place finish, and crossed the finish line in 1:15:28.
My goal for the race was to finish between 1:15 and 1:16. Place didn’t really matter to me so much. I was racing the clock and trying to get some good data to train with over the winter months. So, it was a successful day.
After reviewing my Garmin, my average HR was 169, and my first and second half of the race were almost equal in time. This tells me that my endurance is good, but still have need to work on speed. Realistically, I need to get my stand-alone half marathons down to about 1:10 so that my 13.1 mile run at the end of a 70.3 is about 1:15.
Thanks to my coach, Justin Trolle, for helping make such huge gains in the last 15 months of working together. Thanks to my friends that cheered for me along the race and my sponsors that help make my dreams a reality.