Monday, August 9, 2010

That Wasn't Such a Beach, After All

As befits the duality of time, last year's Beach to Beacon disappointment seems simultaneously recent yet long ago.  The feeling of knowing that the 2009 race failed to reflect my own perceived fitness and progress as a runner was probably the most significant low in an otherwise very positive running year.  Coming into B2B 2010, my personal running landscape looked very different.

2009 was a breakout year for me, with the coveted BQ in May preceding PRs at every distance.  The 1:30 half-marathon fell in October.  The 19:00 5K fell in December.  I did another fundraiser and paced a marathon group along the way.

2010 has turned out quite differently so far, starting with what seemed like a stellar training cycle (72+ mpw for 13 weeks pre-Boston) yielding an unexpectedly poor Boston performance and my first non-PR marathon since taking up the pursuit in 2007. Then came the fun which was Big Sur, along with pacing at Burlington and a couple of underwhelming 5Ks thrown in for good measure.  The undisputed highlight of the year was the Vermont 100 pacing experience, but my own racing has been lackluster at best.

Fast forward to goal-setting for this year's B2B.  Despite maintaining decent base mileage, I have run precious little "quality" (aka, speed work) since I started tapering for Boston in early April.  So, even after what seemed like an encouraging recent uptick in my ability to log some faster running (fueled by a decent track session - 6 x 800m at about an average pace of 6:20/mile - last Tuesday), I scaled back my realistic goals for what has turned out to be my only annual 10K.  So, the goals for the day became to break 41:00 or, at the very least, get a new PR for the 10K distance.

The pre-race preparations were the polar opposite of last year.  The family and I arrived in Portland early Friday evening, staying with wonderful friends who live just a few miles from Cape Elizabeth.  I picked up my bib and shirt, had a wonderful meal and got to bed at a reasonable hour.  I left the house at 6:20 am on Saturday, and still had to negotiate traffic, an elevated drawbridge, race-related logistics and a couple of wrong turns.  Yet, I found the parking area I wanted and met my friend Joe to do a couple of warm-up miles.  The bathroom lines moved quickly, and I found myself lining up between the 6:00 and 7:00 pace signs.

At 8:10 am, we were off and running.  My running coach Kevin calls B2B a "sinusoidal" course, and in terms of my splits year-after-year, it appears that he's right.  I started the initial downhill stretch fast, too fast really, and dialed it back.  By the half-mile mark, though, I knew that holding a sub-6:30 pace was simply not going to work on this day, so I switched from focusing on time/pace to focusing on effort.  It was an uncharacteristically smart and disciplined move on my part, and paid off.  The splits looked like this:
  1. 6:38
  2. 6:56
  3. 6:33
  4. 6:50
  5. 6:33
  6. 6:48 + 1:13 for final 0.2+
Final chip time = 41:33, for exactly a 30-second improvement from last year.  Given the state of my hips these days, it was probably about as good a race as I could have run, given the rolling course which requires regular "gear shifting".  My friend Joe deserves a hearty congratulations for 1+-minute PR, coming in at 39:54 and getting the 40-minute monkey off his back.  He's a bona fide threat to break 3 hours at his fall marathon.

The best part of this year's race was that our wonderful hostess - a Cape Elizabeth native - brought my family to the race, and I heard my son screaming as we turned into Fort Williams, with about 0.4 miles (and one final hill) to go.  I gave him a fist pump and my wife snapped this photo (my daughter took a better one, but we can't seem to get it off her camera):

I'm actually wearing the brand new Endurasoak singlet, as provided by my friends and business associates Amy & Bryan Lane.  Also, I wore the Mizuno Wave Mushas with my orthotics, but ended up with blisters on both arches, making the post-race cool-down not very fun.

After the race, Joe and I ran a couple of easy miles, looked for my family, and then ran most of the course in reverse back to the start area parking.  It was a gorgeous summer day, with a new PR, a total of about 15 miles, family time and the company of a good guy and runner.  Can't ask for much more than that.

I added 16 easy miles on Sunday, and feel like I may be back on track in terms of my marathon training for Chicago, though the time goal will be scaled back from 3 hours to 3:10.  The next few weeks will determine how realistic that goal turns out to be.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Cheers, ESG/Ron

1 comment:

Girl In Motion said...

Congratulations Ron, yahoo on the PR! Your maturity in dialing into effort is really to be commended, it's so easy to let the paces (and ego) dictate the race, when there's so much to be gained by asking the body to lead.

Ouch on the blisters but it sounds like a stellar weekend all 'round. You've got some major fabulous races coming up, you're owed from Boston. :-)