Thursday, May 24, 2012

Steeplechase 8k

I know it's late, but is it better than never?

On May 5, I rode over to Decatur with my good friend and Sunday morning regular Lance to race in the Steeplechase 8k. I really had no idea what the competition would be at this race. I knew that several fast folks were racing other places, like the Spring Zing 5k in Huntsville, the Coca Cola 10k in Corinth, MS, and the serious ultra runners would be running the Strolling Jim 40 miler in Bell Buckle, TN.

Overall, this is a very nice event with very good organization and good swag. I highly recommend this race. I ran 30:25 which was good enough for 2nd overall (bridesmaid) and 1st in the 35-39 age group.

When I got there and signed up, I saw Victor Brown, and knew that I would at least finish behind him. I figured I would try to keep up, but I know that he is in much better shape than I am right now. Then, I saw Brandon York warming up and knew that he would dominate the race. Who else might be close by? I didn't see anyone I knew, but that doesn't mean that there isn't someone there who can outrun me. Well, I figured I wasn't going to win and I was probably going to run away with my age group. Good enough. I figured I'd aim for sub-30.

I felt pretty good, but I just didn't know what to expect. It was hotter than it had been, so that was a factor. And this is not an easy course, no matter what the website says. Also, I had recently started twice daily Lovenox injections, so I didn't know what to expect from my body.

The Start
After a warm-up with Lance and a few strides and some quick dynamic stretching, we toed the line. The race director made a couple of comments about how well marked the course was this year and how that nobody should get miss a turn this year... Yeah, I did that at this race last year. I turned an 8k into a 5.25 mile run. I will say that the course was better marked this year, but I had studied the map. I didn't plan to make the same mistake twice.

After a prayer and a few announcements we were off at 7:03. Brandon, of course, was way out front along with a few kids who didn't know better. By a half a mile in, I was in second place, wondering when Victor would drop me. I was still feeling pretty good at the 1 mile split which I hit at 5:54. Not too bad. A little slower than I expected, but still ok.

About mile and a half, I noticed Victor right on my shoulder. I knew that he likes to start conservatively and then come on strong. I hung with him for a minute or so, but then let him go on ahead. I knew that he was out of my league. I probably gave up too soon. He put a few seconds on me and I hit mile two in 5:52 (11:46).

The End
I have no idea what happened in mile 3. Victor kept getting smaller and smaller, and I was slowing down and could do nothing about it. I really don't know why. I didn't feel bad, but more effort didn't produce more speed for some reason, so I had to find a groove and settle in. And this third mile was awful, even though it's a pretty easy, flat mile. 6:14. Why? I don't know.

Victor was totally out of reach now. Nothing I can do except to just hope for sub 30, but that 3rd mile was going to make this very difficult. I just kept chugging along, never really feeling a good rhythm. I just couldn't settle in to a pace that I felt I could maintain. I pushed hard only to realize I was going to blow up if I didn't back off. And so I would back off.

I struggled up the Gordon Street overpass, cursing the rise and losing sight of Victor after he crested the hill. By the time I got to the top, I couldn't see him any more. Had he hammered the hill and gained that much of a lead? I made the turn and didn't see him. I never saw him again. Where did he go? Oh well, I figured he had just dropped me badly. I knew I was fading, so I wasn't surprised. Mile 4: 6:12. Yuck.

I just hung on begging for the finish. I knew that 30 minutes was no longer a reasonable possibility. Ugh. I'm blaming the medicine because I like to have an excuse. Mile 5 (0.97): 6:11. Double yuck. My new race strategy seems to be start out on a reasonable pace and blow up anyway.

It turns out that Victor missed a turn and that's how I came in 2nd and lost sight of him. I hate that it turned out that way for him. I relate because I did the same thing at this race last year. So, I was the 3rd best runner and 2nd overall finisher.

Check out the video on the Steeplechase 8k website. At 1:35 or so, that's my buddy Lance after the finish. That's how a race is supposed to feel! Congrats to Brandon York for setting a course record. Victor still won the masters title. And, the post race grub was VERY good. Chick Fil A biscuits and bananas and cookies. Nice!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Quick Update

I have a couple of race recaps I'd like to write soon. I have back to back runner up finishes in completely different ways. I'd like to chronicle and share the experience.

First, a quick explanation of my absence...

  1. I have been reflecting on my sub-3 hour marathon. When you have a goal that takes two years and three attempts, it's difficult to move past achieving it. I'm by no means complacent. I'm working hard and trying to get faster. But I'm trying to determine what should be my next BHAGO (Big Hairy Goals and Objective).
  2. I have still had many of the same personal struggles. I'm trying to overcome, but I'm afraid that I will have to accept a new normal and learn to work with it. Ugh. Maybe more on that later.
  3. I have had some medical issues. A little over a month ago, I lost vision in my right eye. It was the oddest thing. I just saw a bunch of purple and black spots in my right eye. It was like I had just stood up really quickly and had a temporary loss of vision and lightheadedness that sometimes comes with that. Except that it lasted minutes instead of seconds and I wasn't light headed and I hadn't just stood up quickly. It happened a few times for just a few minutes. Then, one night it happened and lasted pretty much all night, so I went to the doctor (actually about 5 different doctors). Long story short, I had a retinal vein occlusion in my right eye. Apparently, I'm outside of the typical demographic for that condition, so more thorough tests were run to determine the root cause. It turns out that I have a couple of genetic conditions that make my blood likely to clot (don't ask me what they are, I'm an engineer, not a medical person.) So, now I'm on twice per day subcutaneous injections of Lovenox. It hurts. My stomach is all bruised up from the injections. And I feel like crap. I'm terribly sluggish. I just ran an 18:08 5k that felt like I was being beaten with a baseball bat for the entire last mile. The bright side is that my vision is crystal clear now!