Sunday, November 14, 2010

The PR Hunter

This morning I was in hot pursuit of the elusive 10k PR. Last month my attempt at the Entenmann's 10k came up 6 seconds short. I worked hard over the last month honing my speed skills while focusing on the 10k today. After a great run at the Army 10 Miler, I had a bit of a swagger going into this race.

Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don't you know you might find
A better place to play
                               - N. Gallagher (Oasis)

On all my runs leading into this race, I kept seeing myself running fast, (OK, maybe not fast, but fast for me) feeling strong, and crossing the finish line in PR time. The course is super flat and fast, my preference for running. Wingman and I got to the race early to check in and find some parking. It was not hard to find the place. There were American flags everywhere, fire trucks all over the road, and the Patriot Guard riders parked on the side of the road. Check in was fast and smooth. We went back to the car to rest up a little and then made our way back for the pre-race ceremony. The race is run by the "Hope for the Warriors" foundation and helps wounded soldiers and their families when they return home from war. Once the ceremony was over, they explained the start line procedures and where to line up. Each starting line (5k and 10k) were marked by fire trucks on the road. The start of the race would be signaled by the siren on the trucks. We made our way down the road and waited it out. My goal was to start near the front but I wasn't too worried since I saw the race would actually be chip timed. Phew, no start line disasters. Well, there was one disaster. Remember when I said the fire engine sirens would signal the start of the race? Well, the "Hero of the Stupid" (HOTS) here lined up next to the fire truck. When the siren went off, I almost dropped to my knees while grabbing my ears. Holy christmas it was loud. I took off like a bat out of hell to get away from it. I thought I was safe until I passed through the 5k starting area and those sirens were blaring too. My whole head was ringing. I thought for sure what little hearing was left in my 'good' ear was gone. All I know was I was flying to get away from the sirens.

Once I was clear of the noise, I settled down a little. I didn't want to blow the race early. The first part of the race takes you down Sunrise Highway towards Wellwood Ave. It was pretty cool that they closed down some major roads for this race. As I made my way to the cloverleaf to turn onto Wellwood, I checked my pace and saw it was a little too fast. At this point I had to make a decision. Do I want to slow down and pace it right or just keep on going and try to hang on. I was actually feeling good and the pace that was set for my 1st two miles felt a little too slow but it would help me on the back end. Hmm, what would HOTS do? You betcha, I kept on running.

Wellwood Ave was nice. There were a lot of spectators out cheering the racers on. The police did a great job controlling traffic and there were more fire trucks out there. Thank goodness the sirens were silent now. Or maybe I was completely deaf, not too sure. I kept assessing how I was feeling and so far, so good. I knew with the current pace a PR was in the bag. As long as I don't do something stupid.

We continued south until Hoffman Ave. I turned left under the railroad tracks and headed east. I had checked out the course map prior to the race and this section concerned me the most. It was well over a mile of straight line running with not much to see. Thank goodness there were some spectators out cheering us on. I saw an aid station coming up and I was thinking about a quick swig of water to rinse out my mouth, but they ran out of cups and were handing out 16oz bottles. I couldn't be bothered trying to handle it while running so I passed up on the aid station. Before I knew it I saw the 3 mile marker. I did my first time check to see how I was doing. When I saw my time I had mixed emotions. I was happy that I was running so fast, but I was a little nervous about what the second half had in store for me. No time to worry, I was in hot pursuit of a PR. Tunnel vision was starting to set it. Eye on the prize.

The chase led me down to Great East Neck Road which would merge into 109. This time the aid station had cups. I grabbed a cup and took a sip then poured the rest down my back and ditched the cup. Right by the merge with 109 is the 4 mile marker. I again did a time check and saw my pace was still quick. Only 2.2 miles to go. I was seriously thinking that this pace was too hard to hold on to, but there was no way I could back down now. When I looked at the time again, I started to do my running math. The original time goal I set was changing as I ran. I had a chance to go ~2 minutes faster than I previously set my goal for. As long as I don't do something stupid............

I could feel my legs getting heavier with each step. It's like all the blood that was pumping out of my legs was being replaced with lead. I was never happier to get to the 5 mile mark. The end was getting closer. Actually, the hardest part of the race was coming. There was the overpass on 109 to climb to get over Sunrise Highway. With the fatigue setting in and less than half a mile to go, this small bump in the road almost brought me to a screeching halt. It was so hard to get to the top and all I kept thinking was how great the downhill will be and all the time lost going up will be made up coming down. At least that's what I was hoping for. At the top of the overpass you get into the cloverleaf to get onto Sunrise again. 

When I got to the highway again, I could see the fire trucks with the flags. The finish line was in sight. I could see people turning on the speed as they made their way down the stretch. I picked it up a little but could not match their speed. My lead filled legs had paid the price for my aggressive race. I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. I was stunned at the time. I had the PR in my sight and took the shot. The PR hunter was successful. I was over 5 minutes faster than the Entenmann's 10k only a month earlier. I honestly didn't think I would be that fast. I knew after today's race that I laid it all out.

Today's race was a solid effort. Maybe I went out a little too fast, but I think I managed to hang on and maintain my pace throughout. The running is coming along at a much faster pace then I anticipated. I have a few more fun races this fall before the serious work begins for next season. My goals for next year are constantly shifting right now. Each time I think about times I want to achieve next year, I surpass them this season. Sometime late in December I will sit down and plot it out. Looks like some good things are coming.

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