Monday, May 30, 2011

Another 10 miler, another PR

"In running, it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners
are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability with
brain and heart to master himself and his emotions."
                                               - Glenn Cunningham

Yesterday the Wingman and I made our way out to Long Beach for the 10 Mile Trophy Run. I was up at 4:30a getting ready to race. We had a long day ahead of us and I was already plotting when I could catch a nap. We left the house at 5:30a and got into Long Beach around 7a. The check in was smooth and we went back to the car to get ready. I was looking forward to this course knowing it was flat as a pancake. I felt rested and ready to go. 

We headed down to the starting line and I kept my focus on running my race. I wasn't concerning myself with the others in the race. I had a time goal in mind and was figuring out my pacing in my head. We had great weather for the start of the race. It was a little warm, but the skies were overcast keeping the sun at bay. It would be a race against the weather. The more running I can do under the overcast sky the better I would do at meeting my goal. 

Something caught my eye near the starting line. A guy was walking nearby eating Hostess cupcakes. He was wearing a race number. I thought it was an odd pre-race food choice, especially 10 minutes before the start. All I was focused on now was if he was to finish ahead of me, I was going to give up running. If I can't beat a guy eating cupcakes, what's the point of running. Or I would start eating cupcakes before each race.

The gun went off and I made my way down the road. I had studied the race map the day before and knew the early part of the race would be mentally tough. It was 3 miles of straightaway (miles 2-5). The pace I started out at felt easy and when I got to the 1st mile marker, I looked at my pace. I was 45 seconds too fast. Crap. OK, stay focused and slow it down. If I can control it early enough, it won't haunt me in the later miles.

When I ran along mile 2 I thought I smelled a familiar smell. I breathed in again and recognized it. Bacon!! Oh no. I immediately thought of the Wingman. If I could smell the bacon I knew he would smell it. I worried that he would seek out the source of the smell and not finish the race (or at least finish it with bacon grease on his shirt). When I got to mile 2, I saw my pace was still 45 seconds too fast. Now I knew I was in trouble. The fast miles would probably bite me in the ass later, especially when the sun was coming out.

After the mile 2 marker, we made our way up the ramp to the boardwalk. The next 3 miles are on the boardwalk along the ocean. After about 3/4 of a mile I was eager to get off the boardwalk. I don't care who you are, but 3 miles in direction is boring and requires a dose of Adderall to get through it. I would look over at the ocean a little, but then down the boardwalk. I couldn't even make out where it ended. This was the never ending boardwalk. I was starting to plot the early end of my race when I saw something ahead that caught my eye. It was the Cupcake Man!! He took off at the start and I lost sight of him early, but now there he was ahead of me. I didn't pick up my pace, I just focused on not losing time.

After a while we were finally off the boardwalk (or as I now call it boredwalk). At this point quitting was becoming an serious thought. The sun was coming out, I was slowing down and overheating. The community does a nice job supporting the race. People setup tables in front of their homes and handing out water. I grabbed cups and poured them over my head and down my back. It worked a little but the humidity made the air thick and hard to breathe. Around mile 6 I was thinking if I saw the block my car was parked on I would bail on the race and wait at the car. Until I had an emotional pick-me-up. Some little kid ~1.5-2 years old was running in the opposite direction and next thing I knew I heard him wailing. He face planted on the concrete. Oddly enough I started to smile and it lifted my spirits a little. Soon enough, I passed the Cupcake Man. Now I had to put some distance between us.

But it didn't last long. I was sinking again. The straightaways were killing me. I wanted some short blocks with turns to break it up. I also noticed that my left achilles tendon felt like it was on fire. Every step was agony. Being the neurotic fool I am I kept thinking "this is it, I am about to have a full blown tear of my achilles tendon." But no, I looked back and saw red all over the back of my running shoe. I wear a low profile sock and this one dropped even lower on my heel. Now the back of my shoe was rubbing me raw and I was bleeding into my shoe. I could stop and fix the sock and lose precious time to my PR quest or keep running. So I kept running.

When I rolled through mile 8, I knew there wasn't much time left in the race. I decided at mile 9 to pickup the pace. Good thing as the Cupcake Man was coming up on me. I dropped the pace to create some distance. Soon I could see the finish line ahead. I was running, but it felt like I wasn't moving. My legs were heavy and tired. There was no kick today. 

I finally crossed the finish line 4 minutes faster than my previous 10 mile PR. If the weather was cooler, I could have gone faster, but I did what I could with the hand I was dealt. I was completely soaked. This was a hard race physically and mentally. I thought about quitting a few times during the run, but I knew I would regret it if I didn't finish. 

My running times are coming down, but there is still a lot of work to be done. My times are still slow but hopefully when the weather cools again this fall, I will see more PR's coming my way.

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