Monday, April 30, 2012

The Old Switcharoo...Drake Relays 1/2 Marathon

2 weeks ago Jen and I decided to race in Des Moines the weekend of April 27th and 28th.  We both signed up for the Drake Relays on the Road 8k race and I registered to run a 5k on the track at Simpson College on Friday night against the young bucks competing unattached in a collegiate meet.  My thought was that I was in shape to PR and I wanted the chance to do that 10 years after running my current PR of 16:03.  A couple things happened that caused the old switcharoo as I call it.  Jen has been dealing with a foot injury and took about 6 days off running and didn't want to feel the pressure of going into a pretty competitive 8k without being on top of her game.  She decided she was out for the weekend and made other plans.  That left me with 2 race into the 8k that Jen would not be running and one the night before in the 5k at Simpson College.  Early in the week I began looking at the extended forecast and saw Friday night was supposed to be terrible.  I kept monitoring that but knew when I saw on Thursday that Friday night at 8:30 (race time) it was supposed to be 40 degrees with 25 mph winds and a 70% chance of rain I was going to make alternative plans.  I decided I would try to get my 8k entry switched to the half marathon and just run that hard instead of doing the 5k on Friday.  I drove up on Friday after school.  When I pulled into Des Moines Friday evening it seemed like the wind was letting up a bit and I almost drove to Indianola to race at Simpson.  I waited like 5 minutes and decided I was already excited about racing a half marathon for the first time ever without riding a bike 56 miles beforehand.  I went out to run a couple miles to loosen my legs following the car ride and while I was running they made an announcment to clear Drake Stadium due to a bad storm in the area.  I was glad I made the switch. 
My high school coach, Erik Belby was kind enough to let me stay with them so I was able to cancel my hotel room without getting charged and save on the hotel room.  I ate dinner with the PV track team and then headed for bed.  Coach Belby and I were able to catch up on overdue conversation and it was almost midnigt before I settled off to sleep.  The 6:00 alarm went off and scared me awake.  I had packed breakfast in the cooler...Wheaties Fuel mixed with yogurt and strawberries.  I also had a bowl of oatmeal.  Typically for a triathlon I like to be up 3 hours before the race to eat breakfast but I don't take these running races quite as seriously so I hoped 2 hours would be fine and I enjoyed the extra hour of sleep.  I drove to the stadium and got my entry switched to the 1/2 marathon.  I had forgotten my GPS watch but Coach Belby let me borrow his.  I wanted to have an idea of what kind of pace I was running. 

Add caption
When the gun fired at 8:00 am I took off wanting to run conservatively.   My goal for the race was to average between 5:40 and 5:45 pace with the hopes I would be under 1 hr. 15 minutes at the finish.  Immediately after starting I could not get this GPS watch to work how I wanted.  I took it off and started messing with all the settings.  I wanted to see my average pace and total time.  I was running along in the race messing with this thing and before I knew it I heard someone yelling mile splits...5:50.  I hadn't even looked at the road and was quite surprised I hadn't tripped yet since I was still messing with this GPS thing.  I waited about another 1/2 mile and God did me a favor by getting the thing to say "low battery" before shutting off.  Now I could focus a little on what I was doing.  I looked up for the first time in the race to see what was going on around me.  I went through mile 2 in 11:35.  I focused on getting into a good rhtym at this point.  Not long after the 2 mile mark the race split with the 8k turning while the 1/2 marathoners continued straight.  After the people around me turned I found myself next to this guy riding a bike.  Why is someone riding a bike right next to me during a race I thought??  Then it dawned on me when I looked up the road and saw a police car with flashing lights not too far ahead that I was running in 3rd place.  I asked the guy on the bike if that was correct and he confirmed it for me.  Where are all the runners I thought?  I don't consider myself a runner and after checking out last year's times I never dreamed I would be in the top 3 of this race.  It was supposed to be a good hard run that I could gain some fitness from.  I hit mile 3 at 17:00 flat.  The 4th mile seemed a little bit downhill and I went through 4 in 22:20 so right on 5:35 pace.  From this point on I got into a rhythm and just rode it to the finish line.  I locked in at 5:35 pace and the guy on the bike who happened to be triathlete Adam Ventling gave me mile splits.  I moved into 2nd place not too much after the 4th mile.  I knew first was well out of reach.  Adam started giving me mile splits...5:35, 5:35, 5:34, 5:36...the rhythm was consistent every mile.  When the course went up hill I just pushed a bit harder to stay on the 5:35 pace...when it went downhill I was able to relax a bit.  I never had more total time or I may have tired to drop the pace down a bit in the last mile.  I knew I had a big lead over 3rd so I just stayed on pace thinking about recovering faster this week so I can get back to normal workouts.  I crossed the finish line in 1:13:09 and finished 2nd.  My average pace was 5:35.  I was most excited because it never felt terribly difficult.  It was one of those runs where I knew if I had to go to the well I could have.  I did not want to go to the well in a road race.  Those occasions are saved for the most important triathlons only when "going to the well" will make a difference in the final place.  I got exactly out of this what I hoped for.  It will be a great training session as my body adapts to the stress of running 13.1 miles hard.  It was a great confidence booster knowing I can run 1:13.  It makes me feel like in a triathlon if I have to go to the well I can run under 1:15 if the course is mostly flat.  I also got to feel like a runner for one day.  I'll be racing the Bluff Creek Triathlon with some friends in 3 weeks.  From now until then I'll be working hard.  I had a VERY tight piriformus (butt muscle) today but a trip to Kaminski Pain and Performance Care seemed to fix that up.  Jen is also back to running well so she should be on the race scene soon and our house is always more fun when Super Mom is healthy and running.  When I think back to 4 years ago and the shape I was in I don't know if I could have run 1 mile in to do 13.1 of them that pace without just blows my mind away what you can achieve if you are willing to DREAM BIG and go work for it!  Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

Brian said...

That is awesome Jeff. Great job.