Sunday, January 16, 2011

HOTS in action

Yesterday Wingman and I went up island for a 10 mile race.  In previous years this was just a 'fun run' where you show up and run up to 12 miles. This year they made it an actual race. It was supposed to be a one loop 10 mile route, but the race organizers were told by the police that they couldn't control traffic over a course that large in a residential area. So they compromised on a 2 loop 5 mile course. The temps were pretty cool out so I opted for my regular tights, long sleeve 'under armour' style shirt, cycling jacket with removable sleeves, gloves and a beenie. Teresa, Ian and Joan were also there to race. Wynn was the 'corner man' for mile 1.5 and 6.5.

The race starts and ends at a brewery. They upped the ante this year and had a large heated tent behind the building. This really is a nice option for a cold weather race. You could stand around and stay warm before and after the race. Almost 500 people turned out which is a nice showing for a race in January. The weather postponed this race from last weekend. My only problem was most of my runs lately have been on the hamster wheel treadmill. The roads have been covered in snow or ice and since I can only get my runs in when it's dark out, the treadmill is my only option.

Teresa and I lined up together at the start. When the horn went off we slowly made our way down the road. There were a lot of people all around and I was OK with going out easy. We chatted over the first mile and not long after that Teresa said she was going to drop back a little. We bid farewell and I went on. I picked up my pace and was feeling pretty good. I had the course broken down into (4) 2.5 mile segments. It makes it easier for me to divide a race course into smaller pieces. Helps me mentally while I maintain my pace.

I cruised past Wynn's position on the race course and he was cheering people on and pointing out the turn. I had found my rhythm and found my effort was minimal. This wasn't really about racing today, just getting in the mileage. But deep down inside I was curious to know where I would stack up against my 10 mile PR. I knew going in it was doubtful but hey, you never know.

After mile 2 I saw a water station. I didn't bring fluids to this race. I figured I would take what was on the course. The only problem was the woman handing out the cups turned to face the table to get more cups as I approached so there was no handoff. I would have had to stop to get water and I didn't want to disrupt my run that early. Let's call that HOTS move #1. I continued on and figured I would grab water at the mile 5 turnaround. I was starting to heat up so the gloves and sleeves came off and I tucked them into my back pocket.

At this point I was on segment 2 of the race. The 2nd 2.5 mile segment went pretty smoothly. About a half mile out from the turnaround you see the runners coming towards you are starting their second loop. I looked for Jen and saw her coming. Seriously, look at the picture above and you'll realize it was not hard to spot her on the course. I put my bare hand up for a high-5 and she raised her sweaty lobster glove. I continued down the road. I knew after the turnaround I would see the Wingman at some point. I grabbed two cups of water and started the 2nd loop. It was when I slowed down for the 2nd loop that I knew something was not right. My stomach started to bother me a little. I tried to focus on something else for a while and hoped the feeling would pass.

I was also worried about what would happen after mile 8. Anything past 8 miles is unknown territory for me. Over the last month or so, my runs haven't been any longer than that. Again, I knew this was a training run so I wasn't worried too much. But with my new stomach woes, I didn't want to suffer too badly. I passed Wynn's position on the course and he taunted me with hot tea. I kindly flipped him the bird and a smile and kept on running. I spotted a port-o-john in someone's front yard (house under construction) and gave some thought to stopping. But I thought "nah, I think I'll be OK. It's only another 3.5 miles. How bad can it be?" HOTS move #2.

The next 3.5 miles were excruciating. I slowed down over a minute a mile the last 2 miles. Some of it was fatigue but a lot of it was discomfort. I was never so happy to see a finish line. I looked down at my Garmin and saw the course was a little long. Also, I didn't break my PR. But my finishing time was pretty good for the trouble I had on course. I saw Wynn at the finish and then went straight to the bathroom. Then I went out to the finish line to wait for the Wingman. I saw him coming and looked at the clock. He was on a PR smashing pace. When he crossed the line it was like he loaded some C4 under his previous 10 mile time and blew it sky high. And remember, the course was long so technically his actual 10 mile time was even faster than the clock reported but you have to go by the official clock when it comes to PR's. I was so proud of him and what he did. After the race we hung around the heated tent for a while and then Ian and Joan joined us for a post-run breakfast.

When I looked at my data when I got home, if the course was 10 miles, I probably would have set a PR. I'm not worried. This race was really about getting my mileage in for the half marathon in April. I believe I can hold a good pace for 10 miles even though I didn't execute it on this day. I don't think fatigue was that big of an issue. It was really a GI problem. So it's back to the grind of my workouts. My new focus will be getting outside to run. The treadmill just won't cut it for me anymore.

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