YES! An actual RACE… well… sorta…

My last race was the club national championships in Oklahoma City.  Since then I have been flopping around like a fish and not really doing anything productive.  Running 3 or 4 days a week, swimming 2 or 3 days a week…  Wishing I had a new bike but not riding the one I have… etc.  I’m having a tough time coming up with a plan for 2010 and other than a half marathon in June… I got nothin’.

I had the option this morning of running (probably alone) 10 miles as usual, or running a goofy little local race put on by our running club called “The Cheese and Sauerkraut 10 miler”.  This is a race where you predict your time and then take your watch off and try to hit that time without any splits or timing.  I have always wanted to do this race but something always came up so I decided to tackle it today since it would be WAY more fun than running alone.  It’s fun because the person who runs closest to their predicted time gets several hunks of cheese as a prize.  The one who misses it by the most gets a jar of sauerkraut.  Kinda funny…  But I LIKE sauerkraut…

Race conditions were a temperature of about 30 degrees at the start and a west (I think) wind of about 10mph.  It was overcast and a bit gloomy at the start.  The cool thing about this run is that the course is very close to the Missouri river.  You never get to see it and you are mainly running on a road through farmland and then on the Katy trail, but the proximity to the river this time of year means that we pretty much had a continuous flyover of HUGE “V” shaped flocks of water fowl.  Hard to run when you are looking up though… 😉  It also means that the course is DEAD FLAT.  Maybe 3 feet of elevation gain and loss in a 5 mile loop.

I decided I wanted to run easy today and just be comfortable.  I was a bit chilled at the start and was worried that I hadn’t chosen the right gear, but I was fine.  I set my time at 1:25:00  Since that was about a minute slower than I usually run our 10 mile out and back on the MKT (which is a bit longer than 10 miles, actually).  I was hoping that this would make me slow down.

There were about 45-50 people running this race, most of them of the “real good runner” variety.  I knew I wouldn’t see them much until the end.  After a quick “Ready, set, go” (the local running club isn’t much for ceremony, as it gets in the way of the fun… and I couldn’t agree more!) we were off. 

I had talked with several people and knew what they had predicted, which is kinda cheating I guess… unless of course they sandbag… hmm…  Anyway, I let the flyers take off and just stared at the trail/road for a while.  When I looked up, I saw some of the people who predicted slower than me ahead of me, and could hear some of the people who predicted the same time or faster chatting behind me as they ran.  So… Totally confused, I vowed to just run my race and not worry about it.

I gradually caught a friend who had set her time at 1:19:00.  This bothered me a bit but I felt really good and was pretty certain that I was not pushing the pace THAT much, so I assumed that perhaps she was just starting slow.  We talked for the entire first lap about everything from swimming to bike shops to sports injuries.  On the second lap, as expected, she slowly started to pull away to a point and then it seemed like she either stopped or I matched her pace.  I saw some of the other 1:25 runners and they seemed WAY behind me so I took a little internal inventory.  I “felt” fine.  I was very comfortable, not tired or winded, didn’t feel like I was slowing down at all and my turnover was still high.

I just finally decided to go with what I had and see what a comfortable, easy 10 mile pace would net me for a time.  I caught a couple of people, one who admitted to running out too fast and was fading and one who ran very close to my pace the entire race but was at the head of the pack when we took off and it just took me some time to catch him.

The final mile and a half of this loop is about 14 miles long.  You are on the Katy trail and running towards a bridge.  You can see it in the distance, but it’s total “Twilight Zone” running.  The damn thing just never gets any closer…!  When I hit the trail and sighted it I “thought” I was about 1/2 mile from it.  What seemed like 9 miles later, it was bigger, but still a distance away.  I thought I was slowing down so I sped up a bit.  That didn’t help.  I looked at the trail for an hour or so… That didn’t help either…

GAH!

FINALLY, after what seemed like an eternity (see, on the first lap, I was talking with someone, so I didn’t pay attention to the distance), I got to the bridge and then the race was over about 100 yards past it.

The bad news:  I missed my predicted time by about 3 minutes and 18 seconds (No… I didn’t get the sauerkraut for being the worst predictor of time ;p)

The good news: I ran easy and comfortable and ran a 1:21:30 so that 3:18 was FASTER than I thought I would be.  I think if I had pushed this race I could easily have gotten under 1:20.

Looking down the road at the only race on my schedule so far, which just happens to be a half marathon, I’m pretty sure with a season of training that will be half over by then, I should be able to run it in under 1:44 which will DESTROY my old half marathon PR by 10 minutes.  THAT would be cool…

ok… maybe there IS something to look forward to this year after all…

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