Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ragnar Relay - Leg 13

The Pre-Run Mistake
While Van 2 was running their legs, we joined them at the occasional exchange point. We tried to rest, but it just wasn't bed time. Since breakfast, I had only had a bagel, peanut butter, apples, chips, etc. So, I was STARVING. So was everyone else. Gene and Steve were familiar with the area, so they recommended a diner along the way, the Park-n-Dine in Hancock, MD. If you're ever in the neighborhood, don't miss this dive.

I made a huge mistake at the diner. There was this great looking sandwich on the diner menu. Roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes, fried mushrooms, and cheese on sourdough. It was AMAZING! As I was about to take my last few bites, Steve reminded me that I had to run in 2 hours. WHAT?!?!?! OH NO!!!! I had completely lost track of time. Huge mistake! Um, yeah. Turkey on wheat with lettuce and tomato would have been a much better choice.

The 13th Leg - The First Half
Leg 13 was a 4.1 mile run that had a couple of noticeable hills. I've never run a 4 mile race before, so I was guessing at what pace I should run this leg. I decided I'd be aggressive and run it at 5k pace and see what happened. There I am taking the baton. (OK, it was a reflective wrist band, but whatever.)

At this point in the race, we had lost just a little bit of our planned time. We were maybe 15 minutes behind our plan, so I was going to try to make some of it up. Since it was a night leg, I was allowed a bicycle pacer. So, Steve rode alongside me. I warned him that I would be pushing too hard to talk on this leg. His encouragement and watching for traffic REALLY helped.

Immediately after starting this leg, I passed 3 people. I went out at 5k effort, but there is about an 85 feet hill in the first quarter mile of this leg. OUCH! It was NOT 5k pace! And when the hill let up, it didn't flatten or go downhill, it was just a gradual 40 feet rise until about 1.5 miles. UGH! The first mile was definitely harder than 5k effort, but ended up 6:37 for the mile.

About half a mile in, I got passed. Steve warned me that he was coming. His move was strong! I stayed on his shoulder, but he was determined. He dropped the pace to about 6:00, and I knew that I couldn't hang on to that, especially uphill. I had to let him go. This guy was at least 50. Man, I hope I'm that fast when I'm 50! I kept him in my sight. He backed off some when he realized that I wasn't going to stay with him.

At the top of the hill, at about the 1.5 mile mark, the 50-ish year old passed another runner. That runner was going at a sub-7:00 pace, and he didn't even try to keep up. So, I set my eye on him. At about mile 2, When I started to make my move, he stayed with me for just a few steps, but then he encouraged me and let go.

I kept the first passer in sight on the flat section at the top of the hill. I didn't know if I would be able to make a move or not. I knew that the downhill was coming and I feel pretty strong on downhills. I did close the gap some down the hill, but it was futile. He is faster than me! I asked Steve about the guy I passed, and my lead on him was slowly building. I had one guy to chase, and nothing really to worry about from behind.

The 13th Leg - The Second Half
Mile 2 was mostly flat with a couple of 10-15 foot bumps in it. I hit it in a disappointing 6:35. The next two miles were downhill or flat all the way! I hit them in 6:05 and 6:01. During them, I blew by 3 other runners, but the guy who passed me just built his lead. This leg was the only leg that gave me the "1 mile to go" sign. When I saw it at about 3.05 on the Garmin, I was determined to just get after it!

At about 3.6 or so miles, there was a turn to the finish. I could see this daunting 50 foot hill up ahead. UGH!. And, after the turn, there was this nasty smell of raw sewage! Remember the diner in Hancock, MD? Eww! At my current effort level, that was about the worst thing that could have happened. I managed to keep everything down, though. This leg turned out to be just a bit shorter than 4.1, and I was a little surprised by the finish, so I didn't start my ending kick soon enough.
I didn't feel as good as I looked, so I must've felt really BAD!! After the bad feeling went away, I got this extreme euphoria in the van. I guess that was endorphins combined with satisfaction?

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