So here we go again. John Phelan and I play "race chicken"... where I basically call him up with something ridiculous, tell him I want to do it, he says me too, then we see who bails first. Generally neither of us bail so we end up running stupid stuff for no reason. In this case, I just ran a 50 miler and John has NYC next week. Running two races in one event just seems excessive and unnecessary so we decide to do it. :)
Well, in this case two guys I am coaching wanted to run a local race. My guys don't need me to go to their races with them, but they know if I show up I am going to race. I had initially told them I would likely not race because I have a 50 mile run the Sunday before and I will be tired. I also knew that I didn't really need the races for my USATF-NJ Grand Prix scorecard. Right now, I am leading the state-wide, year-long series, but that will all change in a few weeks. Even if I won both of these races it would not make any difference at all and I will get dropped down the rankings as soon as a few better runners fill their cards.
Friday I ran with Joe and Andrew. They were excited about the race and I just felt like I needed to be there. It occurred to me that sometimes people just need a witness. They need someone who has some understanding of what they are trying to accomplish to be present, attentive, and to watch them shine. People need more than their Mom or their significant other (who cared but really doesn't get it) to stand there clapping and cheering out Good Job honey. Dont get me wrong, that is all wonderful and necessary, but I think people sometimes need someone who understands things a bit more deeply to be present and to genuinely say "OMG, you really are amazing!" Sometimes this is person is a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a peer, etc... and it means something.
I didn't care how tired I felt and how "un-recovered" I was, I was going. My guys also know I have "issues"so even if I go tired, that meant I was racing. I think it meant more to them for me to race with them than only cheer anyway since I would get to see them out on the course more and witness the whole event along side them when possible.
John was apprised of this plan Friday night and by Saturday he decided he was IN for the double. Well Great! Now I HAD to run the double. Joe was planning on running both anyway. Andrew is a smart guy and decided the 15k was enough for him. Although Andrew has been training with me longer than Joe, Joe has been running longer and can easily handle that type of race mileage. Andrew wanted to see how fast he could run 9.3 miles and did not want to start it too tired.
As often is the case with races that offer two options, the "better" runners usually register for the longer race. So I lined up behind all the children running the 5k and hoped that maybe I could minimize the damage and try to hold off a few little girls by the finish. I pointed at two youngsters and told Joe... I bet one of them win's this thing... they are so little and they are wearing racing flats! Joe looked at his shoes and said he probably needs a new pair. John asked "When did you get those?! Back in 9th grade?" LOL. Joe says "No, they are only about 3 years old." Oh Boy. LOL. Joe and I already talked about him getting some new sneaks when he started up with me but he really like his shoes and just hasn't had time yet. He laughed and said that he plays golf in them and wears them everywhere. He says they are really comfortable. Clearly Joe doesn't need fast shoes to run well :)
The gun goes off and the children are gone. There are many more adults in this race, but for some reason, like it tends to happen, all the kids line up at the front. Thank goodness not many can pace themselves evenly so they all blast off the line.
Joe and I take off and soon he is pulling away. We pass all the kids by mile 1, but I can't help but wonder if my two runners are going to watch me get beat by some little girls today :). I hit M1 6:17. It is slightly declined so I know I will be slower on the way back. He pulls aways slowly and steadily until he has quite a lead on me.
At the turn around I tell him he looks good and to stay relaxed. He looks fine and I am not sure I will be able to catch him. By Mile 2 I am already feeling the fatigue in my quads. This course is fast, but I simple don't feel very peppy today. M2 - 6:30
I try as hard as I can to reel Joe in, but he is moving well. He is passing all those near him and I am following his lead. M3-6:32. By the home stretch he is moving well and I simply don't have the speed to catch him. Last 0.13 - 0:48 (6:24 pace). Joe beats me by 5 seconds. Good for him!
About a minute later John is finishing up too with a nice effort considering he is trying to be cautious today.
Gender: 1st Female
Overall: 8th Place
By the time we catch our breath and get some drinks, we have about 30 minutes until the start of the 15k that started an hour after the 5k. We go to our cars, get out 15k bibs and head back out. John has the NYC Marathon and was a little worried about being a jackass here. He decided to take it easy which was very smart. I tell Joe I want to run about 7 minute pace unless my legs just can't do it. Joe has no idea what he can do. I do know that Joe can run far with ease. When I measure the routes he runs on his own, they are always miles longer than he guessed them to be.
The gun goes off and Joe starts with me. He starts to pull ahead early. Andrew comes cruising along side, saying he just wants to have fun. He looks great and like he is really enjoying racing fast. He decides to settle down to his planned pace. I pick it up and catch Joe. We hit M1-6:57. I can sense this is too slow for Joe so I tell him to just run his race and he doesn't need to stick with me if he wants to run faster. He didn't even sound like he was working hard. He pulls away.
I am hoping to just stay around 7's for this but I seem to pick it up as Joe pulls ahead. M2 -6:50. I dont feel much like myself. Everything feels sluggish. My legs feel very heavy and hard to move. I try to get comfortable, to the best of my ability. The ladies are spread out and I am in no man's land with a large gap already btw me and the ladies before and after me. I feel unmotivated to work any harder than I have to today. M3-6:54
But by Mile 4, I already feel like I am working. I have run fast 10 milers the week after an ultra, but today I just dont have it. I was still very happy to be holding my pace. M4- 6:55
At 4.5 miles, I pass Joe and he says he has a cramp. I tell him to slow down until it passes, and that he will get a second wind. I tell him to focus on relaxing and it will pass. I pull ahead. It didn't take him long to catch back up to me. By mile 5 he was passing me again. M5-6:59
I start to hit the wall of fatigue. My legs have cried mutiny. I feel like I am running in quick sand. I just want to be done and it feels like there is so far to go. The end gets to be into a light wind and up a mild incline but at that moment those minor challenges were so not welcomed. LOL M6- 6:59
We hit the turn around just after mile 6 and now we finish into the (light but annoyingly present) wind! Yay! (Sarcasm :)). I am done. I fade hard. But most around me do as well. I see John and Andrew at this point. I tell Andrew that Joe is breaking the rules! He is not supposed to beat me! ;) Andrew tells me to go get him! LOL. (I am trying!). I feel some twinges in my calves that I dont like. I rarely get those. I dont want another strain. I back down since there is no women near by for me to catch or be passed by. M7-7:11
I just want this to be over. Everyone is fading. I could have possibly used a gel out there. I was tired and only had a few shot glass sized cups of water on the course. Maybe a gatorade could have helped? M8-7:12
The last mile hurt. I worked hard to just stay even. I tried to reel in Joe. I was gaining on him, but he was making it hard for me. M9-7:14. Last .3 was rough. I did kick a little, felt my calves feeling odd and slowed. I caught up to Joe as much as I could. Last 0.37 -2:32 (6:56 pace). And just like in the 5k, Joe beats me by 5 seconds! LOL!
A few minutes later John comes through and shortly there after Andrew unleashed a full sprint to pass anyone between himself and the finish line. If you are ever in a race with Andrew, you better beat him early b/c he will crush you in the last 50 meters. Usually I yell "Kick!" In this case I found myself yelling "Holy Crap!"
At the end of the day, John, Joe, Andrew and I all took home awards for our performances. It was a great day and I was so glad get to be a witness to the greatness these guys demonstrated out there on the courses doing something new to them and something they are just figuring out. Next time, I will introduce them to some hilly trail racing. :)
Gender: 6th place Female
AG: 1st in Age.