Sunday, June 9, 2013

Run to Exile 10k

I had another race this weekend.  It was a 10k in Des Moines that ended at the Exile Brewing Company.  I hesitate to refer to it now as a race.  Yes, I paid an entry fee, had a race bib and timing chip, even got a finisher's medal, but that's about where all the similarities ended.  It was a point to point race so we got bused out to the theoretical starting line.  There was one volunteer at the park and she told us the actual start was a few blocks west.  So we all started walking in that direction.  I was expecting the start to be marked in some fashion, but it wasn't.  Not even a chalk line on the ground.  A few people had their phones and pulled up the course map to verify that we we in the right general area.

So we stood around for awhile waiting.  I went out for a quick warm up and came back.  The official start time came and went.  The one volunteer that was there told us that someone was coming to officially start us so we held tight for a few minutes. People were starting to get antsy and a small group decided to just take off running.  A few minutes later they announced again that the starter was on his way out.  I think it got to be over 20 minutes past when we supposed to start that another group took off.  Then mob mentality took over and everyone just followed that group.  There was four of us just kind of standing there after that.  We looked at each other for a second, shrugged our shoulders, and took off after the pack.

I spent the first mile getting past the majority of the runners.  Ran a 6:00 first mile.  Then I started thinking to myself how the results were going to meaningless anyway, with everyone taking off at different times.  Decided to treat it as a tempo run and not turn myself inside out trying to set an unverifiable PR.  It started raining midway through, which was nice at the time.  Due to flooding they had to alter the course prior and the last five miles were virtually the same as the final miles of Dam to Dam.  In some way it was kind of nice to be on familiar terrain, because it wasn't terribly well marked.  Once we hit MLK I was pretty sure the course was going to be short.  That and we met up with the 5k course which was filled with walkers, some of them 4 abreast. So that was dicey.  Hit the finish line, which was approximately 5.7 miles from the "start line" in 39:00 even.
I picked up my complimentary beer and hot dog and fries and had a good laugh over the whole debacle with friends.  I don't think this race will be on the schedule next year.  Great concept.  Who doesn't want to run to a brewery?  Poor execution though.  It was an inaugural race so I expected some hiccups, not complete chaos. Maybe, if they prove they've worked out all the kinks next year, I'll consider it.  If not I can always go for a six mile tempo run on my own and save myself some money.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dam to Dam

3rd race of the season was upon me before I knew it.  Dam to Dam, America's largest (and possibly only) 20k was yesterday.  I hadn't had a particularly good couple of weeks of training leading up to it so I really didn't know what to expect.

The day always starts early for this race. Had to make the drive to Des Moines and then catch the shuttle up to the race start. Barely had time to use the restroom before the start. For the second year in a row I had to do a little warm up jog along the outside of the corral to make it to the front. Made it with a minute or two to spare and chatted with a couple of friends of mine about race strategy before the gun went off.

So all week leading up to the race I had debated on how I was going to approach pacing. I hadn't recovered real well from the relay race 3 weeks ago and my legs this week still weren't feeling particularly well. While out on a short run Thursday I had the idea that it would be beneficial to just go out at marathon pace (7:00 miles) and consider it more of a training run. All of that changed as I got to the Dam in the morning along with the other 7000 runners. The competitive spirit kind of takes over and decided to go out hard and see how the legs held up as the miles ticked by.

So when the gun went off I was hauling ass at a pace I felt would be sustainable if the legs decided to come around today. The first few miles are always nice as there are some decent downhill portions so I was able to keep the pace under 6:35 for the first four miles. By the end of the fifth mile I could already tell that I was slowing a bit. A PR was probably not in the cards so I dialed it back to a 7:00 pace and ran comfortably for the next few miles. Hit the halfway mark at 41:50something which was pretty close to my 10k time from last year.

When the climbs came on the second half I slowed the pace even more. A lot of people were passing me, which usually bugs the crap out of me, but I kept telling myself that the legs would appreciate it later next week. Despite the slower pace I was still feeling pretty tired by the end and ready to be done. With about a mile left I brought the pace back down to a sub-7 level to see if I could hold that till the end. I did and it was a nice mental victory to bring it in strong on tired legs. I wish I would have noticed the clock time when I crossed because apparently my timing chip didn't register. I'm not in the official results anywhere. Probably a good thing I didn't PR because not having an official record of it would drive me nuts.  Had to use the garmin as my "official" time and the placings below are based off that.

Time: 1:26:36
Pace: 6:58 min/mile
Overall place: 206/7087
Age Group Place: 44/673

So only a couple of minutes slower than last year's effort.  I really can't complain considering how I changed my strategy mid race.  It was a good workout on a beautiful morning and there was still free beer at the finish line so all was good.  Hopefully the legs bounce back this week.  I've got a 10k next Saturday and would like a legitimate shot at PRing that one.