Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mountain Mania 15k

The Mountain Mania 15k had its third running on June 8, 2013. I really had no idea that Decatur had such a hill. This thing was a beast! The t-shirt and Facebook page have "See the beast. Run the beast. Conquer the beast." And I like the logo.
Typically, the second Saturday in June is much hotter than this past Saturday was. We had really great weather for this race, in the low 60s at the start. The 7:00 AM start is really a great thing for this race, too.

I am not in race shape and I don't really want to race until the September/October time frame. So, it was a late decision for me to run this race. I needed a good marathon pace run, and I have done next to nothing on hills, so I thought I'd give a try at a hilly marathon pace run. I am really glad I signed up for this race!

It's a small race, about 100 runners or so. After the race, during the awards ceremony, the race director asked for feedback to improve the race. One person in the crowd jokingly said, "Make the course flatter!" To which the race director replied, "No, we're looking for a certain type of runner for this race, and y'all are it." I loved that reply!

The Race
I saw several people I knew before the race. Seeing people is the best part of racing. When I pin on a number, I really have to resist the urge to race. But Saturday, I told myself that I would resist that urge. I wasn't really sure who the competition was today. I knew that Colby Phillips could beat me if he were in shape and if he were racing. But he said that he would not be racing, but just doing an easy run. I know that David Rawlings is in killer Tri shape, maybe the best shape of his life. I know that he just ran a 10k PR at Cotton Row. Who else? I see some kids up front. You never know about them. Okay. Marathon pace (6:50 to 7:00) no matter what.

After a prayer (I really appreciate that.) and a few words thanking the sponsors, off we went. One kid shot out of the gate like a rocket! After about 30 seconds, I asked David, "Do you know that kid? Is he really that fast?" To which David replied, "We'll find out." Another runner said, "I wonder if  he knows this isn't a 5k?"

So, I just tucked in about 50-60 yards behind David. I was running alongside a guy named Jonathan and we chatted a bit about the competition for the day We took turns leading the tangents on the turns and stayed together for a couple of miles. Up about 50-60 yards ahead of David was another pair, a young kid and a guy who I would meet after the race, Jay McNeill. Then, way out front, was Ieden Leckenby. At the one mile mark, which Ieden had run well under six minutes, I knew that he was for real.

So, I realized that I was in 5th or 6th place with Jonathan in the other. Marathon pace. Marathon pace. Don't race. Marathon pace.

The second mile has one of the most brutal climbs I've ever encountered in a road race. Yes, it is worse than Cotton Row's Mountainwood. It's really not even close. I was trying to maintain marathon pace effort, and I ran that second mile in 8:08. Brutal. At the top, I was glad for some flat land and I recovered fairly quickly and settled back into the sub-7 minute mile pace fairly easily, and then even faster on the descent.
See, it is worse than Mountainwood.
Jonathan then fell back. Now, I'm in 5th place. The kid running with Jay McNeill dropped off his pace. David eventually overcame him, and then I did. So, now it's Ieden, Jay, David, and me. It stayed that way until about mile 6.

On the back side of the mountain there is a fairly long, straight, mostly flat but slightly downhill section that runs south alongside I-65. Here is where the thoughts of racing entered my mind. Both David and Jay were within reach. I felt like I had run 6 miles at marathon pace, not like I had run 6 miles at tempo pace. I had a lot left in the tank. So, I'm thinking... Can I catch the leader? Did he fall off? Well there was this section where I could see for about a mile. I barely saw the police car. I knew then that I wasn't making up a mile in with about 4 miles to go unless he dropped out.

So, without the possibility of winning the race, I settled back to just a shade faster than marathon pace. I was running about 6:40-6:45 because it was downhill. I passed David a little before 6 mile mark. I asked if Jay was older than 40, and he believed that he was. So, the three of us were battling for masters. Again, I reminded myself, marathon pace. So, I did that. Maybe a shade faster, but never faster than 6:40.

On the way back up the hill at mile 7, I passed Jay. Again, this is worse than Cotton Row. Also, you have to climb this beast twice. Twice. Brutal. I was trying not to go into oxygen debt up the hill. I maintained a steady effort and recovered very quickly at the top. After that, Jay hung close, but I was determined that I was going to maintain a steady effort to the finish and not run faster marathon pace effort. I knew the last mile would be very fast because of the extreme downhill. But I was not going to race. Jay ran very well and hung on pretty close through those last two miles.

I was able to maintain the even effort through the race and finished in 1:05:04 which was good enough for second place overall and first masters runner. Ieden ran 58:39 which shows that he really was nearly a full mile ahead of me. Official results are here. http://www.naolweb.com/rivercityrunner/2013-MtMania_13_OA.htm

I would really like to train for and tackle this course in race shape to see if I could break an hour. It would be a tall order to sub-1 this thing. Kudos to River City Runners for scoring and all the volunteers. This is an awesome, low key, challenging, and well organized race.