Thursday, April 8, 2010

Papa Johns 10 Miler Race Report

A little late, but better late than never. My training has been in the toilet of late because of increased workloads at both home and work. This is not a bad thing mind you but a simple reality of anyone trying to figure out how to balance family and work with a healthy lifestyle.

Having said that I was pretty nervous heading into this race. Planned to do some hill training all winter long and just never could find the time to do any hill repeats. Just takes to much time to drive to one of the parks that offers some of the hills to work on when I can get home and just go for a run from the house and be back home in an hour, hour and a half.

In addition to not spending anytime on the hills I had really not been getting my runs in at all like I should. In my head I was doing 20 miles or so a week, but upon closer inspection of my logs I am realizing it’s closer to 12-15. Ackk, with my long runs rarely exceeding 7 or 8 miles. I begin to review my training plan that I had so carefully thought out and planned each weeks run and tried to match it up to my logs. The plan looks great but the execution was terrible. Either way, enough of that, on to the race.

We are in the process of finishing our basement and to keep on schedule with the drywall crew that was coming on Monday had taken off from work on Thursday and Friday. Going from a desk job to actual work that requires you to be on your feet, up and down ladders, stooping, bending and generally doing everything that I don’t normally do made for a long 2 days leading up to the event. My plan was to work long on Thursday and then finish up by 5 on Friday. Head to my parents for an early Easter dinner on Friday night and then get to bed early. Honestly, it all went as planned and I was in bed by 11PM that night, which is early for me.

Alarm goes off at 5:30 AM, nice aroma of freshly brewed coffee from my new machine the Wife gave me for my Birthday, thanks honey. Quick shower and then almond butter spread on a deli thin for breakfast. Downed a quick glass of water along with 2 Advil to help with hydration and then it’s time for some morning brew.

Head down to the event and have time to stop by Kroger for all to use the restroom prior to the start. Find myself staring a bottle of 5 hour energy and wondering if it would help my performance. I had tried this stuff once before but not prior to exercise and split it with my wife so that we could stay awake for date night. Pathetic, I know. So I made the decision to pick up a bottle and finished roughly half of it. Phew, that was not bad and I feel better already or at least that is what I was telling myself after committing a major race day error. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY! More on this later…

Off for a short warmup run of a mile or so then time to stretch. Met the family near the start and said my goodbyes. Since I have not said it yet, I love that they always come out and let me tell you some of these races have had brutal weather conditions. Cold and miserable would be an understatement. Love you guys and thanks!

I walk to the start and realize I waited to long, I am near the rear of some 7000 people. Head to the sidewalk and try working my way a little closer without much luck. Fireworks go off and now I realize that I am going to spend a good part of the beginning dodging, bobbing and weaving my way through traffic. Which is quite a bit of fun on shorter races but longer runs it takes to much energy and I just did not want to use up any excess as my terror of finishing at all was still in full affect. In addition to my typical race fears I am now starting to feel the 5 hour energy that seemed like such a good idea at the time begin to work it’s way back out of my system. Every other step has me burping this stuff up. I moved to the side of the road for fear of vomiting and continued on.

First 3 miles were going great, 8:30 pace which was right on target to finish below 1:30. Once I hit the park all bets were off. First hill was pretty uneventful. Did not pace by speed but by heart rate as I knew keeping it at or around 160 at the peak of the hills was critical to keeping me below my lactate threshold. Second hill was not quite the same challenge as the first and I managed to eek my way over the top HR now at 162. Ackk. Long slow grade down and then comes the 3rd and final hill. It was easy to see from the lack of leaves on the trees that this one extended quite a ways and eventually out of site around a bend.

Made it to the first turn of this one and had slowed to what probably looked like crawling to onlookers but thankfully I was not alone and actually managed to pass a few that had given up. Finally made the turn and could see it was still another 100 yards to the top. Quick check of the HR and I am at 172. Pondered for a moment and decided to walk it as I did not want to risk doing more damage than I already had knowing there were still roughly 4 more miles to go. Again the 5 hour energy is still trying to find a path out of my system and I debate on several occasions on whether I should just stop and ram a finger down my throat to force it out and get it over with.

About this time I pass a guy on the side of road getting medical attention and as bad as I feel I am reminded that it could be worse. Crest the hill and now HR is back down to 135 or so and I am ready to go. Legs still a little sloppy on take off but eventually they begin to cooperate and start making that familiar pendulum motion that would be runners are so reliant on. Pretty steep downhill as well so I really only need to lean forward a little to continue my decent. Great for the heart but not so much for the knees. Trying to keep my speed down I was landing pretty hard so I eventually gave in and just let my body go about as fast as it wanted to go only limiting it when I started to feel out of control.

Out of the park and back to reality. My legs were really feeling it at this point. The only thing that felt good was knowing there were only 3 miles or so to go. The wind had picked up considerably since exiting the park and the protection of the foliage and you could feel and smell the moisture in the air. As quickly as the wind picked up the rain came and it was a huge relief. As my pace picked up a bit from the cooling effect of the rain my thoughts turned to my wife and kids sitting there at end of the race waiting in what were likely miserable conditions for them.

On to the last mile and I can see that overpass that once haunted me coming up. Made the right turn to cross over the hill and my pace quickened with the sound of Rocky playing in my head. Probably looked a little foolish as I felt like I was perhaps dancing a bit on my way to the top but this little tiny overpass once forced me to stop for a rest en route to a football game. Now I am crossing over it after already running 9.5 miles.

I can see the stadium and my pain is gone. Make the last turn into the parking lot where the football team is hard at work to my right so like any fan I let out a “Go Cards!” as I pass. Then the final jaunt into the stadium and hitting the soft turf that I have spent so many Saturdays…and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and I think even a Sunday once. Such is life of a Louisville fan, but I digress. Round the turn and hop, skip and jump on the finish. It’s over and I finished a race that had me ready to throw up the night prior. See my wife and kids along with my Brother, who also ran, and his family at the finish as well.

No time to waste as we were rushed off the field I assume to allow those other 5000 people to cross as well. Bottle of water and off to find and hug my family. I truly could not have done any of this without them there to support me. For my wife I know it has to be difficult to see me come home with lots to do and I do a quick change and back out the door I go for a run or swim. So glad she is understanding of this and supports me. Thanks Honey, I love you.

Finished in 1:34:57 pacing at 9:30. My goal was 1:30 or a 9:00 pace. However, looking back I ran this same distance on New Years day and finished a minute slower on a flat and fast course. So there had to have been some improvement. My Brother kicked my butt at around 1:26 or something. Maybe next year, for now just happy I had the opportunity to participate.

Next up, pacing my Son this Saturday for his first ever race. The Goose Creek 5K. It’s a much smaller race and if he pushes he might have the opportunity to podium. No time goals for me on this one as my only concern is that Tyler finishes and feels good and has fun.

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