Monday, November 3, 2014

Ghouls and Fools + Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge 10K's 11/2/14

I've been lazy with my posting.  Thankfully a little less lazy with racing.  With 2 more races to report on, it's been a good 2 weeks.

It's been a while since we've done a trail race which is a shame.  Making the race a nighttime trail run made it pretty awesome.  We had to miss last year's race for a wedding or some other nonsense but Ghouls and Fools is a great time.  It would be the first of three 10K's in 15 days.

My best time for the G&F 10K was 1:04:35.  I only wanted to beat an hour and have fun.  We made sure we were going to have fun and bring costumes into the mix.  I was considering a few options but went with a Viking.  Kristen was a lovable Hooter's Girl spin-off of my own: a Scooter's Girl.

We lined up for the start and before sending us off, Ron, the RD named his costume winners.  My first race prize in over a year!  He took me for a member of the Mongolian Horde but whatever, it's a win!

Time for business and we started off into the dark woods, always an awesome sight watching the snaking queue of running conga winding through the woods.  something I didn't bother to try to take a picture of because you should go out and see that for yourself!  And it likely would've been a terrible picture.

A minor change in the course just prior to the race inserted a lollipop loop pretty early on that created a tiny bit of confusion.  Some packs of runners went left at the loop, some went right.  I followed the guys ahead of me and we went clockwise, encountering other packs that went the other way.  For most of the mile loop, there was a good amount of time spent dodging runners going the opposite direction on single-track.  Before long, that was over and we were onto the rest of the course and some brutal climbs.  I left my Garmin plugged in the wall at home so I don't have the profile or any normal race data I get to geek out on.  Tough cookies, this time.

I managed to finish in 1:01 and 31st overall which was good enough for me to enjoy a beer and wait around to collect my award.

A week of rest later and a few days of some "maintenance run" and I was feeling great for a road 10K.  The Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge across the Ben Franklin Bridge from Camden to Philadelphia, then back across for the first 5K and another 5K looping around Camden and the waterfront. 

I imagined and planned on running about 47 minutes.  This is based on my lack of confidence in holding 7 minute miles which was my real goal.  But I felt good, I made sure I drank a lot of beer all day the day before to celebrate my dad and sister's birthdays as they were in town to visit and my sister, Mandy, was running her first 10K.  It was a cold day for it around 39 but windy as all hell.  Never have I had the wind physically blow me around while running.  Running a huge arcing bridge with very whirling winds allows me to honestly say we did go uphill both directions with major headwind all the time.  I saw some kid in a sweatshirt get blown like a sail 5 feet to the right when the wind changed.  

I had anticipated a good race.  Closing in on the first mile marker, I could see the clock was approaching 8 minutes.  I thought "no way; starting out at a reasonable pace is a concept lost on me.  I probably ran that in 6:20 and their clock was wrong."  Negative.  My Garmin confirmed the 8 minute mile and I started to wonder how that happened and how I was going to do the rest of this race.  Would I be near my goal at all or should I think about just finishing under 50 min?

The 8 minutes was a little demoralizing but I sucked it up and knocked the next mile off in 7:20, still surprised because it felt like under 7.  It's tricky to really know what that 7-mile pace really feels like.  I got a little closer again the next mile with a 7:02 and I was halfway done.  Maybe I did actually get some tail wind coming back across to Jersey.
I never really noticed how much bridges arch until driving across on our way to start this race...

Running down the bridge felt great, I hoped for some shelter from the 30-40 mph gusts between the buildings.  The last few miles ticked off, I passed a few more runners, got passed by a few others... then hit the waterfront.  Direct, nonstop headwind at its strongest right by the Delaware... I felt like a human sail.  I ducked down to try to give the wind less surface area to push on and powered through.  For a 200 yard run, it felt embarrassingly hard.  I had very little race left to run and I was excited to finish, I tried to continue on and keep the splits descending.  
PR Day!
The course wrapped around a few buildings as we began the return to Campbell's Field and I was amazed I had enough in the tank to have a fast finish.   I must be finally learning to properly run these things!  I clocked in at 45:45 with my chip time, very happy.  I realize now, in November, how far my goal of a sub-40 10K would've been early this spring.

The 3rd of our 10K series is this coming Sunday in MD.  The inaugural Across the Bay 10K should be another fun race.  If being out on the Chesapeake on bridges is anything like this race, it's going to be hard with it's unique challenges.  While inaugural, I think the race is making a return.  The field is huge at 20,000 runners.  Thankfully I'm in wave #1 so I only have to deal with a few hundred of them.   To make it a little harder, I'll be running 5K, 3K and 1500m races the day before because... why not?!

Get out there and run.

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