Thursday, June 25, 2009

Branford Road Race

I seem to be on a two year cycle with Branford where I run well one year, and then stink the course up the next. I was on the stink end of the cycle this year.

It's a tough race. Like most of my friends we're all coming off races or long training days. I was seven days on from Health Net, which was one hard Olympic-distance race. I'd run two hours Monday and put up a 60 mile ride Friday in about 2:50.

None of that should have stopped me from breaking 30:00...

I was in the dead middle at the start, one row back, and got off to a good start.

I wanted to moderate my effort, but I was absolutely engulfed at the start by men, women, and kids. I mean it was a free for all and there were a lot of people around me who I felt maybe shouldn't be taking it out quite so fast. The first mile includes a long downhill and I was settled in and felt like I was running fairly even, picking my way through the crowd and following the shortest line. I was amazed at how many people were not following the tightest line, or anything like it. I was watching whole teams of people headed down the middle or even towards the right-hand side of the road.

I had two women in front of me and then a third passed me before the mile mark.

I went through at about 5:35, maybe 5 seconds too fast.

There was more downhill and I tried my best to push. I could see one of the people I'd expected to come back to earth still running well ahead of me. He was a kid that looked to be about 12, with a buzz cut- red hair- wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Really, this kid ran a 5:20 mile.

The second mile is not an hard mile, but it gets hard because everyone continues the blistering pace. I'd backed off a little and went through that second mile in about 11:25. I was hanging in with a group, but running to one side of them, because they were making no effort to follow the shortest line. There was no wind along the seawall, so it made no sense to sit in someone's wheelhouse, which I don't like anyway.

We took the turn, and the third place woman was still just out of reach, the kid with the buzz-cut was on a mission, and I felt like I was behind the world. At the same time, there were several people behind me that I'd been beaten by last year, so I decided to just hang on and keep working. Past the turn it's downhill and then it flattens out, you get a quick peak at the ocean, then turn your back to it and blister your ass up the course's toughest hill.

I was moderate on the hill, but still passing people. Looking back I went too slow.

I passed a number of people. The third place woman- who passed me back once on the downhill before I passed her again. Several guys in their fifties. The kid with the red hair ? No, not yet. I swear, I was getting housed by a 12 year old, or so it seemed.

After turning the three mile mark, you're on a hill. I ran well in this section, and mile 4 (3-4) was my best. This included running by my house, where Ian and Great and the Blaskovichs were in my driveway cheering and taking photos- thanks again. Jen and John !

You climb part of the hill and hit the 4 mile mark. I had people in front of me and people pushing me from behind, and I just ran as hard as I could. I did not have a great last mile, right about 6 minutes flat.

I turned the corner at the armory running well through the downhill, however after I turned the corner I just didn't have a great kick. I had a gel in my singlet and I should have taken it but I didn't. Mistake. Always a mistake. The final turn was so far away.

I ran past Caron's Corner again and some people from the store were out there cheering, then it was hard to the turn. I was neither catching nor being caught.

Near the turn, the smell of carnival food and the pancake breakfast was overwhelming. I wanted to vomit. The smell, a mix of frying and, uh, frying, does not go well with maximal or near-maximal physical effort. Then I did hit the turn and the clock said 29:51.

I ran as hard as could to break 30:00 but instead I hit the line at 30:05 and that was just not what I wanted.

But you know, the A race on my schedule is Fairfield, not Branford. If I run well there, this race won't matter. I do know this. Guys like George Buchanan and Jim Zoldy, Bill Thramann and Hank Berkowitz, Steve Swift- they all ran good races on an incredibly humid day.

I just hope I remember to look back at this post next year so it reminds me I'm supposed to run well next year...

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