Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Branford Shores Fall Classic

I'd last raced two weeks ago, and with Ironman Florida three weeks away, a road race hardly seemed like the right thing to be doing.

The lead-in didn't exactly help, either. I'd swum 3K yards on Friday (a marathon swim for me) and time-trialed the Hammerfest course after, then spent part of my Saturday chasing a TDF pro on a sprint (more on that in a later post).

My Sunday workout called for 2:15-2:30 of running, and as I traded emails with @poycc I was trying to figure out how to make that work with a 4 mile road race on basically the same course as the Hammerfest. I mean, how do you pass up a race you can run to on roads you train year round on ? Well, by staying focused on your main goal, but one of my weaknesses has always been thinking I can train for one thing and still race whatever distances and disciplines I want.

So I came up with a plan. The race was starting at 10AM so if I started running at 8AM, I could meet Michael at his condo at 8:45, we could run over to the race and sign up and then continue running. By the time I got over there and signed up I had a little over an hour under my belt. I registered quickly, then I went out and ran entire course. It was windy- really windy, and running the course really helped to give me an idea how to attack it in a race.

I got back and because I wanted to have 1:40 in the bag before the race started I did another 10 minutes on the Branford Road Race course. The I went and talked to John Courtmanche, JB, and Michael. While doing that I realised that Bart Wasiolek was there. Any chance of a win was gone, because Bart had also brought one of his Quinnipiac runners with him. And the guy that I had beat by five seconds at the last race was there as well.

Well, I was not expecting to win anyway. After having run an hour and forty minutes, with my calves sore from the ride the day before and my achilles tender, I was going to be lucky to hold my own.

We started out, running downhill, and I quickly settled into a lead group of 5 people, Bart and his college runner, the guy from the other race, a teenager and myself. I was in the middle, running hard as we took the right into Indian Neck and as part tried to open it up, I followed him in the college guy, hoping to make it a three man race. I couldn't believe how fast I was running, totally out of the box at the start.

We went through a mile at an almost sick 5:41. I mean 5:41 is pretty slow, but not when it's a 5:41 mile within a two and a half hour run. I was running as hard as I could, but I still fell into fifth place as we ran along the water. I was unable to hold off the other two guys and Bart and the college kid ran away. As we turned onto Bayberry I was locked in fifth, bout I felt like if I picked it up I could move up into third as we took the first turn and then headed up the short hill.

And I did. The five man race became two two man races, two runs off the front and the teenager and I fighting it out on the back of the course. I was convinced a shirtless JB was going to blast by me at some point, but it never did happen. Instead, at each hill, I would open a small gap on the teenager, who was tall and lean, kind of the anti-me. Then his long stride would close me down.

At around 3 miles we got back to Pawson. I was running up the hill and pulling away, but with a mile left to go I didn't want to blow myself up. So I moderated my effort, which may have been a mistake. I got very little separation and as we broke back onto the main road, I ended up behind. I would spend the rest of the race there, locked in fourth place. I tried and failed to gain ground.

Finally I could see the finish line and my goal was simple. Break 24:00. For some reason though, a flag maybe, the clock was obscured. So I ran my ass off and what do you know ?

23:59. Sub-6.

That felt good.

No, it felt great. I ran home, got my bike and road back to Lenny's and as they called my name I walked in, took my trophy, and rode home.

I ran 2:35 total. So I accomplished everything I wanted, and more....

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