The 2 Weeks That Were

With this week’s long run behind me, I finally have a free minute and I feel the creative juices coursing through my veins, well either creative juices or caffeine from the post-run gallon of Diet Coke I just downed.  Either way, I’m posting again.  I hope someone enjoys.

Last Week

It was with much trepidation that I toed the line last Saturday morning at the Run For Your Life Run For Your Cause 4-Miler.  After all, I’d spent the last couple of weeks struggling.

Rewind.  Last Wednesday’s workout, 8 by 5 minutes, with 1-minute jog recoveries, turned out to be one of my worst workouts in recent memory.  I struggled to stay under 8-minute pace, even while the prescribed pace was 6:40 to 6:50.  Bad things.  The heat sapped what little energy I had.  When ominous clouds threatened to unleash a downpour, I begged for rain,  pleaded with the rain gods to drench me with the cold, life-saving H2O that would somehow revive me from this workout from hell, the one that was baking me alive.  But the precipitation held off until I finished the last tortuous repeat.

Like a cruel joke, the skies opened up as soon as I finished the workout.  I slogged my way back through the thunderstorm, my shoes sloshing with every step.  I crawled along at about 10-minute pace until lightning struck mere feet away.  It struck so close nearby that, for a split second, I saw nothing but bright white light and thought I had suffered hearing damage from the thunderous blast.  Miraculously, I sprinted the rest of the way in at a faster clip than I had run during any of the repeats.  Funny how the fear of death does that to a runner.

Last Thursday and Friday, I slogged through desperately slow runs in hopes of helping my body to recover.

Which brings us back to Saturday.  I parked in a shopping center on East Blvd., maybe a quarter of a mile from the starting line, and jogged down to get my chip.  There I ran into none other than the Big Red Shoe champ himself, Tom Ricks.  Tom had been markedly absent from recent races as he’d been dealing with a calf injury.  But he was back so we warmed up with a little jog and caught up some.

I chatted with a few of the usual cast of characters including, but not limited to, the Crockfords, Jamaar and Christi, Clayton, Anthony, Rebecca, Mike “Ghost” Moran, and more.  Nathan even darted by and I yelled, “Hey, are you going to be around later?” and he called back, “Yes!”  I spotted Derrick too and a race strategy was hatched.

According to my marathon training plan, I was not supposed to race this, but rather run it as a tempo at somewhere between my 10k and half marathon paces, which Nathan had calculated to be 6:26 to 6:42.  As every regular reader of this blog knows by now, I tend to go out too fast.  I’m really trying to make a concerted effort to change this.  The plan was to set a tempo pace and run negative splits.

Seeing Derrick, I decided to just tag along behind him – he regularly negative splits races, usually passing me in the latter stages.  I knew if I hung with him early, I’d accomplish my goals.  So as we lined up in the starting corral, I settled in a step or 2 behind Mr. Hewett.

A minute after the baby stroller crowd, we took off and I stuck to my plan, running a step or 2 behind Derrick as we began the ascent up McDonald Avenue.  The pace felt slow and I fought the urge to accelerate, even as I looked ahead and saw hordes of folks that I usually manage to beat.  “Just stay with Derrick” I told myself.  After all, he regularly beats those folks and me.  I felt comfortable, but then again I (almost) always feel comfortable early in the race.  Derrick looked even more comfortable than I felt.

Derrick began picking off runner after runner which meant I began picking off runner after runner.  I came through the first mile split in 6:25, nearly perfectly on pace.  I eased past Butch Holt who looked incredibly strong as I thought to myself, “Damn, I hope I’m that fast when I’m Butch’s age!”  The odds are very much against this as I am barely that fast at my current age.

Shortly after the first mile, after cresting the long incline, Derrick started picking up the pace so I tried to match him.  Somewhere around this point I passed Anthony who’s been right with me the last few races we’ve run together.  He and I took turns passing each other the rest of the race.  As I tried to maintain contact with Derrick, I finished the next mile in 6:10.

At this point, I looked down at my watch to check my split.  Then I looked up ahead to see who I could see.  I saw a string of people that have been finishing around me in recent races – Danielle, Chris and Chase Smith (father and son who finished with identical times and I don’t think they were holding hands but rather I’m guessing they were sprinting it out – cool!), Robert Boyer (aka, “Curly”), Clayton, etc.  Somehow I lost track of Derrick during this stretch and when I located him again I was surprised to find that he had seemingly instantaneously gapped me.  Suddenly he had a 100 meters on me and I couldn’t close the gap.  And I knew he had more energy than me because periodically he would pump his fist in the air and yell, “Woohoo!”  I don’t think I could have done that had I tried.  I finished mile 3 in 6:30.

I had carte blanche to go all out mile 4 so I did.  I still felt strong so I pushed the pace as I tried, to no avail, to reel Derrick in.  But he kept pulling away, fist pumping and yelling “Woohoo!”  all the while.

I gave up on catching Derrick.  It was Anthony’s turn to lead in the latest Monoghan/Strickland duel and I tried to decide if I had enough room to catch him by the finish line.  Then I heard a familiar voice yell out, “Go Allen!  Make your move!”  It was Thomas Eggar.  If you know Thomas, you know he’s a pretty intimidating looking dude – I felt obligated to follow his instructions.  I passed Anthony.

When Thomas, far right, barks instructions, one feels compelled to listen.

As I sped past Anthony, I noticed Carolyn Maye just ahead.  I had a pretty good acceleration going by this point and knew with just a little more effort, I could get her too, so I snuck by her (like I had in nearly every race we ran together during the Summer Track Series.  Afterward, she came up to me and said in mock – at least I hope it was mock – anger, “Every time!”)  Clayton was a few seconds ahead and I thought I might be able to catch him as well but I ran out of real estate.

I finished in 25:27 and was very pleased. It felt like tempo effort, I had stuck to the plan, and I was about 3 minutes faster than my time at the same race 2 years earlier.  Mission accomplished.

After the race, Derrick, Nathan, and I ran a little cool down.  Everyone was pleased with their race.  They took off but I hung around and chatted with friends through the awards ceremony.  Later, many of the gang, including Laura (who hadn’t run the race but stopped in after her morning run), Thomas, Michelle, Caleb (another non-racer making a post-run appearance), Rob Ducsay, Emily B., and more, all gathered at Big Daddy’s for post-race fare.  Good food.  Good times.

Beat the Heat

Saturday night, I shot up to Winston to hang with the fast Charlotte crowd (not as in rebellious, although some of that too, but mostly I mean fast literally) and watch the USATF road 5k championship, Beat the Heat.  I went to watch Caitlin, Meagan, and John C.  – I got bonus footage as Matt Jaskot, Dennis Livesay, and Justin Gutierrez also competed.

I had an absolute blast at the race and the awards ceremony, even though I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous as the second placed masters (there were multiple categories – this guy won for either USATF or age-graded, I can’t remember which) won a significant prize (I think he won money and an Omega gift certificate) with a time of 19:46 which is about the same time that I came through the 5k point of the 4-miler.

After nearly every Charlottean present (other than Jordan and myself.  I tried to talk him into running as the top 10 won cash prizes – he probably could have run backwards and finished in the top 10.  Caitlin finished 2nd overall, Meagan and John got 3rd overall in their respective gender races, and  Justin won something, again not sure if it was overall age group, age graded, or a USATF award) claimed their prizes, we all shot over to the Foothills Brewery for some post-race revelry.  Again, much fun was had by all.

Eggar and Jaskot get rowdy while Compton and I act appropriately during a picture taking situation.

This Week

I can sum up this entire week’s running in 4 words: slogging through the heat.  Every run was torture.  Every run, I felt like I was running in a sauna.  The week’s toughest was Wednesday’s speed workout: 2 sets of 10 by 30 second repeats, with 30 second recoveries.  I made the mistake of running this on the little dirt track behind the University YMCA.  Zero shade.  Brutal.

Today’s long run was pretty damn tough in it’s own rite.  I slogged through 14 and some change miles.  Ugly.

And that’s it.  Everybody’s all caught up.  Next race, Blue Points, where again the plan is to tempo it at somewhere between 10k and half marathon pace.  We’ll see how that goes – it can’t possibly be any worse than last year’s Blue Points, perhaps my worst race of the year.

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2 Responses to “The 2 Weeks That Were”

  1. Caitlin Chrisman Says:

    YAY!!!! I had fun hanging with you during the long awards ceremony. too bad i was so far away from you during the dinner though, and i still am impressed with your stealth escape! John and I do that all the time.

  2. Stephen Spada Says:

    Great post Allen! See ‘ya at Blue Points…

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