Salem Lake 30K – What A Difference 7 Days Makes

The Salem Lake Course - a beautiful, scenic 30K race

The Salem Lake Course - a beautiful, scenic 30K race

What a difference 7 days makes.  One week ago, in the Davidson Run for the Green Half Marathon, I felt like it was the first time I had ever run a distance race.  I struggled mightily, even walking at one point.  Yesterday, in the Salem Lake 30K, I felt infinitely better.   I peeked around the corner and found optimism hiding there.  Again.

If you recall, on this blog about a week and a half ago, I wrote that the plan was to run 7:39 pace in both the Davidson half and the Salem Lake 30K.  After a crash and burn of the highest order in last week’s half, I quickly reevaluated.  I talked this over with my running pal and racing partner of late, Dean, and we both agreed: let’s use Salem Lake as a training run, start out slowly, see how we feel, and then take stock around the half way point on how fast to run during the last half of the race.

So that’s exactly what we did. We started out at a super-slow pace, a 9:38 first mile and an 8:54 second one.  We ran relaxed, chatted comfortably and when one of us would inadvertently pick up the pace, the other would kindly remind the pace violator, ‘Whoa, hey, we’re getting a little fast – let’s reign it back in some’. 

As we neared half way of the out and back course, the race leaders began coming back by.  When you see these folks with
their flawless form and their effortless glide, you tend to get motivated and Dean and I are no different.  We began gradually, almost
imperceptibly, to pick up the pace, from an 8:52 in mile 6 to an 8:02 in mile 9.  We were never passed in the last half of the race while we must have passed some 30 or 40 other runners.

Dean did a great job pacing – I basically just hitched my wagon to him and cruised.  A couple of times, I started to fade  and he would yell motivational things back at me, like, ‘Come on, you’ve got this!  Stay with me!’  By the last 5K or so, I finally realized that I actually could maintain ’til the end, and we picked things up even more, running two sub-7:50 miles out of the last 3.

I felt fine at the end, the last mile within 1 second of the fastest for the entire day, so completely unlike the agony that was last weekend’s final mile.  Last weekend, I felt like I wanted to quit running altogether.  This weekend, I started believing (again!) that Boston qualifying is actually achievable, if not by Richmond in November, then in the not-too-distant-future.  I’ve been mulling over signing up for another marathon shortly after Richmond – perhaps Myrtle Beach in February.

I’m sure much of yesterday’s strong showing had to do with weather.  Unlike last week’s muggy mid-70’s, the weather conditions yesterday were much more favorable – a comfortable 60ish, with a light, cooling,  rain.  I felt downright  chilly before we began running but then became quite comfortable about a quarter mile into the race.

But I think just as much, if not more, was due to this new strategy – start slow, finish fast.  I don’t know why this lesson has never sunk in before, but the immediate results seem to prove definitively that this is the better distance race strategy.  Allen’s new marathon coaching postulate: bank energy, not time.  In my experience, banking time is a sure fire recipe for agony by the end of a race.  Banking energy is the way to finish strong and feel great.  Now it’s just a matter of finetuning.  I’m confident we could have gone a little faster at the beginning and still finished strong at the end.  But how much faster?  I have 7 weeks to find the answer to this question.  I’ll try to experiment during a few of my long runs between now and then.  I’m extremely confident that I can finetune this strategy enough to PR at Richmond.  But can I finetune enough to qualify for Boston?  I’ll let you know in November.

Team 2517 News:

My girlfriend Laura PR’d in the Salem Lake 10K, in 1:03:06.  She’ll break 1:03 in her next 10K, guaranteed!

Charlotte Running Club News:

I saw Chris Jones and Adam Mayes cruising along near the leaders in the Salem Lake 30K, just past the turnaround.   Chris won his age group and finished 4th overall while Adam came in second in his, good for 12th overall.

Most of the CRC folks opted to stay close to home, running the Hit the Brixx 10K and/or 5K uptown, with Caitlin Chrisman winning the women’s 10K and Rebecca Thomason, in her first race back after an injury, winning the 5K.  See Theoden’s blog  for more details on the race.

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2 Responses to “Salem Lake 30K – What A Difference 7 Days Makes”

  1. aaron Says:

    cool that you felt much better at Salem. The freakin human body has me wondering sometimes! I felt like blah at Brixx. next day at Latta Park I felt great and went 21.5. Why did I have to miss by one day 🙂 Happy Running!

  2. caitlin Says:

    Nice shoutout to the Charlotte Running Club. Appreciate and Good luck with your training!

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