It was Memorial Day – so I figured why not schedule a road race- they involve shoes, running and it should be over in under an hour (my goal). We’ll call it a training race because 1)I’m not a road racer 2)I could use the speed work 3)I still need to swim and bike.
On Friday I road 37 miles, followed by a hard run at the track on Saturday followed by a 60 mile ride on Sunday – then the road race on Monday AM. My legs were a bit shot but not too bad –it was only 6 miles – which is what I’ll run on a super ez recovery type day.
Since I’m racing this year with the awesome support of Under Armour- I wanted to make sure I got my gear on – complete with my UA tattoos. Piper has had her UA tattoo on her arm for nearly 3 weeks – it doesn’t come off and she likes to show me her muscles and flex her tattoo.
Road racing I found is very different from triathlon – everyone was rail thin and the number of guys over 6’2” was a few dozen. There were as many women as men and a lot of kids between 12-19 and a lot of grey haired folks – all mostly faster than me. There were packs of men and women with their track club coats and singlets on as well as the nervous t-shirt crowd. I looked super matched and actually felt that if they suddenly decided to add a swim leg to the 10k, I might actually take a few of these skeletons. For the record, they didn’t.
I used to road race a bit – even winning some 5ks and 5k race series –but that didn’t help my speed-but I did know how to execute a good warm up. I ran about 30 mins, ez and added a few efforts towards the end to ensure going from nervous wandering to 6 min miles wouldn’t freak me out. I timed it so I had about 10 mins to drop my warm ups, debate about wearing my winter hat for 6 minutes and then decide on whether or not I should go with a visor/glasses or just glasses or no glasses combo. I didn’t see any visors at all –so I wasn’t going to ‘that guy’ any more than I already was with my thermal top, gloves, running shirt/shorts and of course my UA tattoos and super awesome Yellow Under Armour Spectres –complete with Yankz!
I went with the glasses btw.
There were LOTS of nervous runners – like over 540 of them and all warming up at 2 min mile pace going back and forth like salmon trying to spawn but not sure what to do next once they got upstream, so they came back. I saw Kelly Dunleavy who looked about as casual as you could and knew that she’d probably run a 6:30 pace –so there might be a chance I’d see her along the course. Except she’d be redder and cursing. Then I saw Steve, Kelly’s BFF and I think he must win some award for the guy who goes to just about every single race she does or at least the ones that she and I do where I see him. Which seems to be most all of them.
The rule is to always have a race plan – even if it’s close to ‘start and then finish later’. Mine was 1 layer deeper:
- start slow.
- run 7 min pace for mile 1
- speed up to 6:40-50 pace and hold that.
- no pooping of pants and don’t throw up.
Some skinny guy asked me what time I was shooting for and I thought of saying 32 but did a an honest calculation and said 40 or so. Really I thought 42 but didn’t tell him because I think 42 is slow. It is.
So in order to stick with race plan goal 1, I knew I had to start at the very back of the 540 something runners. In the past I’ve started at the front and felt compelled to run whatever the lead pace was – which was insane because I think it was pedestrian 4:48, the guy who won runs a 14 min 5k. Pre would have rocked them all silly.
The race started with a bang. I started and found that the people in the back were NOT running 7 min miles according to my Garmin and my HR was about 11. So I quickly began going through folks – weaving all over the side of the road to get through. I finally say my ‘pace this lap’ notch from 8:35 towards 7:35, but there isn’t enough room to hit 7 mins and my HRM says I’m running a sweet 158 beats per min which is my zone 1. Whoops.
Virtual poop of pants. Speed up now.
Ok, now I’m running 6:25 min miles and going much faster than those around me- which can be described as the aged and cute outfit crowd. Lots of older folks moving really fast for over 60 and a lot of women who are running in their cute mom outfits. Then I see some serious people ahead with singlets on with some sort of club name. So I try and pick them off one or two at a time- but it gets harder.
Hold on, moving back to past tense.
I noticed how many people run in OLD worn out shoes. No wonder there are so many running injuries out there. They’re not tires folks – they’re shoes. Like 300 miles or so and then get new ones.
I also remembered that since I had on 2 Under Armour tattoos (one below each of my magnificent calves) that I’d look like a complete boob if I ran really slow and got-repassed by even a single person –so I had that going for me. I kept the heat on – getting through mile 2 in 14 mins. I did note that the front runners were about 1.1 miles ahead of me at that point.
I then just kept the Garmin at 6:30-40 miles and would surge, rest on someone’s feet and surge again.
The last 1.35 miles were run around the finishing area –so you could hear it and see it but it was still 1.35 miles away. I started to get tired and saw my time slide to 6:50 in the final mile. With about 300 yards to go I got passed and then threw in a final effort to hold off the next guy.
Turns out the majority of my age group ran sub 6 and I was in the back third – having shamefully run 6:51’s. This was fine because that is about what I wanted to run and it was fun and I hit every one of my 5 goals.
After the race a few folks stopped by and asked if my tattoos were real and then asked about my Under Armour shoes. I went into all the details about how I normally need a motion control shoe and that even though it’s a race, the Spectres are pretty light and still keep me landing with my feet facing forward.
I should have raced as a 35+ year old woman because I would have done ok – but instead I was 26th or 244th. Below is a chart of my HR from the race. You’ll see that I didn’t really get rolling into my pace until about 12 mins in. I’ll have to do this again.