Thursday, October 06, 2011

Tommy Sullivan's Run for the Ribbons

Yesterday I rode 100 miles and then ran 25 minutes.

This morning I was planning to get up and run up to two hours starting at 0700. I had it in the back of my mind that I might still go and run the race this morning instead of doing my long run, but I wasn't really planning on it.

I got up late, which means about 0645. That's still plenty of time to feed the cats and make the coffee, eat some banana and get dressed. Still I was psyched when Michael D'Addetta emailed and suggested starting at 0730 instead. Mostly because it was pouring rain out and in the mid-fifties.

It was a great call. As I stepped out the front door to run, the clouds parted, revealing blue skies and sun. That was it for the rain and the entire 75 minute run with Michael and Mary Dunn was beautiful. I could have gone another 15 or twenty minutes, but I knew the race was at 1000 and I had over an hour to get there. I'd decided to run it after all.

The point is that I'm training for Ironman Florida. Going and running a 3.4 mile road/trail race the day after a long ride makes no sense. I mean what should come after a 100 mile ride is a long run, maybe 2 hours. So there was no way I was going to rest up for the race. But I won the race last year so I wanted to at least go and run, which was the only reason I'd even been thinking about it.

So I changed from my running clothes to some race gear, hopped on my bike, rode over to the race and registered.

I was already warmed up, so I just did some strides and I saw a lot of the same people I saw last year. Then I saw one guy and everything changed. This guy was tall and thin, running shorts and a tank top. He had a massively long stride and as he warmed up, doing strides the same as I was, t was clear he was faster. He exploded off the line and covered tremendous ground each time.

Oh well, there was nothing I could do about it but run my race.

The race got off pretty quickly after that and I'd picked my line I wanted and surprise, I was very quickly out in front. I was not expecting to lead the race- there were cross-country kids and so on and I was pretty sure I'd be trailing someone. I wasn't.

The start is pretty much downhill, half a mile to the woods. I was chasing the pace car and for now this was my race and I was going to run it and take charge. I forgot about the fatigue of the 100 mile ride/run yesterday, the earlier 75 minute run, and I just kind of ran. When you are out in front, you had better run your ass off. Before I even got to the woods, it was clear that it was a two person race. I didn't look back, I never do, I could just tell from the sound of it. The guy I'd seen at the start, the one i was pretty sure was the fastest guy at the race, was on my back, within 2 seconds.

We headed into the woods, and I had the lead, and I ran with it. I think in the woods, the shorter guy has the advantage. That shorter stride makes it easier to make adjustments and find footing. I ran hard, but I felt like the guy was just marking me and I was expecting him to go by. And he didn't, and didn't. We hit a mile at around 6:30 and still I was in front. In the woods now, I was pushing every advantage and shaving every line, running straight at trees, sailing over clusters of roots. I was still thinking the guy was going to blow by me, until I finally starting thinking he was just marking me because he assumed I knew the course but he didn't.

And that was how I ran the whole woods. And then we broke out of the woods and were back on the road and quickly hit the 3 mile mark. I ad two seconds on him at three miles. No way I was going to gold onto two seconds.

And no way I was giving it up, either. The course dips downhill after three mies, then ticks up to the finish. I tightened the screws as much as I could and just kept running up the hill. I wanted to win, and I didn't want to be caught.

And I wasn't. Kudo to the guy that held me within two seconds for three miles and end up 5 behind me for running a tough race and keeping me guessing. He pushed me the whole way

the coolest thing ? Two days later I was out running at lunch in New Haven and John Courtmanche pulled up alongside me and said "you didn't just win your age group, you won the whole damn race !" I will always remember that....

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