Before I recap the race, there was a general plan for the weekend that kinda fell apart. Kristen and I would get down to Adam's (AKA http://swimbikerum.blogspot.com) in Baltimore Friday night, sleep, wake and run the 5-miler, assemble some friends for a beer mile (Yes, it's a thing. www.beermile.com) then Adam and I would spend the next several beers planning some kind of training plan to prep for the big stuff in `14. Why on earth I assumed that any plans would be cohesive after a beer mile is beyond me...
I hadn't realized getting settled at the Celtic Solstice race was how large this race field would be. I think I was #657, Adam was #222 and Kristen was in the 2000's. Results had 2952 official finishers... somewhat more than we typically encounter on the trails and still a far cry from something like the Philly Broad Street 10-miler at 40-some thousand people. While I don't like big crowds, we set up in the middle and walked our way to the starting line once the crowd started crawling forward and hit a slow running stride crossing the start line. It may have helped me that starting this way by slowing me down a little, I was unable to start off at a pace I couldn't maintain. While the road was congested with racers, I couldn't keep the glacial pace it felt we were moving at so I began sneaking my way up through the crowd gaining more momentum as I passed more and more people. Peeking back at my Garmin data after the race, it looks like the general pace of that crowd was around 8.5 minute miles and that just wouldn't fly with me. One of my short term goals is to have a sub-40-minute 10k time by April. This race was my attempt in that direction with a sub 40-minute 5 miler. I don't believe I've run a road 5-miler before so I looked at some 10K splits to get an idea of where I was and where I wanted this race to be. Two previous 10K's provided me a 43:02 and a 43:03 at the 5-mile mark to think about. I'd been holding 7:30's pretty well on training runs so I thought 40 minutes was reasonable, expecting to not hold that after the first 3 miles.
The course is really flat and stops short of the steep hills that are included in the 10K race held at the same park. The flatness was motivating for me to reach my goal time, which I had started to doubt in the morning for really no reason. I was feeling good, pretty well-rested, my last race was great, no reason to doubt I'd reach my goal time but nonetheless, there was some doubt creeping in. So rather than focus on every step of the race and monitor my progress, I tried to run my race with little information this time. The trail was marked at each mile and my Garmin was alerting me to those miles but I knew I should be able to not focus on the splits and not have to adjust if I ran a consistent race; I was experimenting with running only on feel.
The course is half out-and-back, half loop, so if you're quick enough you can see the leaders after the turnaround before the course breaks off to loop around a lake. I did get to see the leaders after they made the turnaround and they were blazing fast. I had a little fun playing the mental game, how far ahead are these guys from me? The answer was really far. Not like I was gauging whether or not they were in striking distance... These guys were putting down 5-minute miles, I was just trying to make sure I averaged under 8.
|Course map through the park.|
|I'm amazed that I was this consistent. Training must pay off a little.|
|Kristen, proud of her PR.|
|Reacting to my finish time, maybe happier than I was about it|
Race #2 was upon us. I'm not sure if I was more nervous about breaking 40 in the 5-miler or from embarrassing myself in the beer mile or possibly getting cited for an open container offense on the 1/2 mile loop we used in a public park. I assumed the worst and that included losing my guts somewhere in the last 1/4 mile. Nonetheless, the race was on. I had no realistic idea of how long this would take. I assumed I could manage 4, relatively quick quarter miles as I'd get 3 breaks in between to enjoy a tall, cold Budweiser. My thoughts on stomaching 4 cans of beer in under 15 minutes was something I hadn't done since college and that never included running. Whatever- time to put up or shut up.
Adam and Kristen declined to test their combined drinking and running mettle. I was up against Charlie and Christy, his girlfriend. With a simple countdown, we cracked open the first and went to town.
|Not hard to see who's going for gold.|
|A pretty awesome collage Kristen made with Google's AutoAwesome feature. This feature adds me to any picture, thus making it awesome.|
|The plateaus represent Budweiser-downing time. Predictably widening as the race progressed.|
The novelty of the event wore off pretty quickly. Will I do another? Only time will tell. I'm more interested in producing a sub-40 10K than a quick beer mile.