Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back to Racing

Well, it's been since August last year since I've been involved in any competition.

While I've got a few tasty races scheduled later on this year, I've got my cousins to thank for cruelly tricking me into kicking off my racing season earlier than planned.

A slew of my cousins came to town a couple weekends ago to watch Connor absolutely rock the leading role in her high school play, "All Shook Up" (photos to come). The morning after the play marked Reno's Rock-n-River Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, and Kids' Race. It ended up being a bit of a family affair, with Frances in the Kids' Race; Amy in the 10K; and Frank, Richard, Elaine, and I all in the Half Marathon (none of us were dumb enough to run the full).

The only unfortunate thing is that I didn't find out about this race until 5 days beforehand, and I hadn't been putting in lots of running miles, much less 1/2-mary specific training. And I made one of my Achilles quite angry early in the week, which brought that week's running to a quick halt. Not like I was going to get more fit, anyway.

Actually, that wasn't the only unfortunate thing. What really complicated the matter is that I arrived at the start line just fit enough to get myself into heaps of trouble. What does that mean? Well, if I had been a bit more out of shape, I wouldn't have stuck my nose in with the fast guys and girls. But I did, and then stubbornness took over, and I paid the price.

One thing that did go well was my pacing. Let me qualify that by noting that I don't run with a watch, so I've got no way of actually knowing, but our time through Mile 1 was within a few seconds per mile of my average pace, so that data point backs up my perception that I didn't go out too hard and then fade.

Pacing it well may have been nothing short of a miracle, as I'm only used to running after a swim and a bike ride, meaning that I'm already tired but am at least warmed up. Let's take a moment to review my lifetime results from running-only races:

Arm Run, 26km, Queenstown NZ, 2008: 3 weeks after Ironman NZ, with NO running up 'til 2 days before the race and very little exercise otherwise. Decided to race while drinking beer on a hot afternoon 3 days beforehand. Result - 3rd, vowed never to do anything stupid like that again.

Black Rock City 5k, Burning Man, 2008: During peak training for Silverman '08. Got tangled up with a woman at the start and helped her back to her feet as the field departed. Result - 1st, won a 12-pack of PBR.

Black Rock City 5k, Burning Man, 2009: Generally fit, but no specific training for anything in particular. Result - 2nd, got beat by a dirty little hippie wearing a sarong...and a GPS watch...goddamn sandbagger.

And that's it. Not the fullest race resume, eh?

So experienced in these things I am not. Which means that figuring out proper pacing for a footrace of any given length is not my strong suit. Back to this race, my perceived exertion was "Uncomfortable" by Mile 2 and remained somewhere between "Uncomfortable" and "Angry Hornet Nest" for Miles 2-13. Which is apparently the way to do it.

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Near the turnaround at Patagonia. Photo courtesy d-squared.

At this point, I'm in fourth and in front of the eventual second-place guy, shortly before he ran away from me. We both caught a couple people between here and the finish, which was sweet.

Running into the finishing chute and then directly to the massage tent (uncrowded!), I was unable to stretch without cramping for about 2 hours. I established a good starting point for all half marathon forays from here on out, running about 10 minutes faster than my fastest half-ironman run. It took a full 2 weeks to recover, too, which I'm pretty sure wouldn't have been the case if I had actually prepared for the infernal thing.

Beyond all that, the rest of the fam' posted great results. Richard did a few minutes better than he expected given the altitude. Frank finished his first half marathon ever way faster than he was planning on. Elaine and Amy both held down the fort for the women's races. And little Frances has darn good form, bound to be some sort of stupendous athlete when she gets older.

So that's the whole story. Special thanks to my cousins for convincing me to get out there, and big ups to all of them for running so well. I'm done licking my wounds now, and it's time to look forward to whatever's next!

Past Detritus