Friday, May 22, 2009

Lilac 5k

For the first time since last year, I found myself geared up for a double- the day after the formula one duathlon I was back, running the 5K at the Lilac, which is just a warm-up for the 10K.

I was not tired. Yes, we'd spent what seemed like the entire day after the race at the festival, at the pool in the hotel, and at the Play Museum (yes Virginia, there is a museum of play, and it's in Rochester). And yes, we got to the race late- it was 7:30 by the time I was registered and the race was at 8:00 am.

Still, I got in plenty of strides for my warm-up and was ready to go on what was a cold morning. It had been in the 70s and humid for the duathlon. It was now in the upper 40s. I lined up right in the front and waited for the gun.

That's right, we had a gun start- been a while if you don't count the cannon at the Ironman.

The race uses the first mile of the 10k course. This is pretty much a downhill mile, fast and straight, and spend the whole time running hard and and wondering when you are going to pay for the ease of the start.

One guy blew it up, kind of like the duathlon, then there was an A chase group and a B chase group. I was sort of in that. One of the other guys from the duathlon was there, Matt Kellman. He'd finished 4th, and outrun me on all three runs. We were back and forth in that first mile and went through at 5:34 and 5:36. Almost immediately after we turned a corner and started through a neighbourhood with nice wide streets. We were in a group of five people and I was being disciplined and sticking with the group.

It's always hard to run with a group. For me, it tends to feel easier when I'm with the group, and I worry that means that I'm not working hard enough, that I'm laying off, when in truth I'm appropriately moderating my effort so I can stay in the mix and have the chance to beat the guys I'm running with. We continued to all work with each other and three turns later we were back on that first mile, and paying for it because we were going uphill and into the wind.

I'd moved to the front of the group, away from the guy in my age group and the kid in the hard-soled track flats. With about 4/10th of a mile, I wanted to run away from everyone because I didn't want to get caught in a sprint with 4-5 unknowns. I was trying to establish dominance before the finish line.

This is almost always a mistake, like the guy that tries a breakaway sprint at 800 meters from the line in a stage race. I probably knew it was wrong when I did it.

I failed. The guy I really wanted to beat passed me with about 300 yards left and then it was all over. He told me after the race he just rode one of the kids in, or something like that, and he was right to do it too.

Still, he put just seven seconds into me, about what he outran me for a single mile the day before.

Then again, for the 5K they went one deep in 5 year age groups (the 10K is the big race), and I really wanted to bring home that medal. I was 14th out of about 850 people and was leaving empty handed. Oh wait, chocolate chip cookies...

Seven seconds. That's pretty disappointing.

I'll just have to go back next year and get it right.

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