Sleigh Bell Trot 5k – Saluda Shoals – November 2009

I had a chance to run a unique 5k on Tuesday – race was at 7:30 pm at a local state park. This was the first night of their holiday Christmas lights presentation that runs until 12/31, Its run through a very convoluted paved course through the park, with lots of out and back loops. There were more than 500+ people there, many of them just walking the course to see the lights. I was concerned about getting bogged down in the crowds, given the narrow paths and twists and turns. I lined up in the second row behind most of the local high school cross country team. Race weather was about 48 degrees with a light mist – pretty good.

I purposely went out very fast in the first quarter mile to avoid the huge crowd behind me, and it actually felt pretty good. I always feel better in evening races. The course thankfully was well marked with a bunch of volunteers, because with all the twists and turns in the dark, I was afraid of going off course or worse – injured. I hit the first mile in 6:33, which is right where I try to be these days. I thought I did it faster, but I guess slowing down for all the turns and having to avoid others slowed me down a bit. I felt strong throughout the 2nd mile, and was able to keep a strong pace, about 6:38. I was pretty gassed by the last mile, but thankfully it was mostly flat.  I found my form suffering a bit towards the end, and it was hard to see my Garmin to figure out where I was on the course. Mile 3 was in 6:45. Since I only saw my 2nd mile split (too dark to see the others), I thought I might be in low 20 territory. I saw a glimpse of the clock near the finish and read it as 19:xx, so started running like a crazy person, but as I rounded the last turn I realized it was 20 not 19 in the first two numbers. Still finished hard and managed a 20:55. 2nd in age group and 14th overall. I was 5th not counting the high schoolers!

Shandon Turkey Trot 8k – November 2009

I had my first 8k today. My goal was 7 minute pace, which I felt was doable, though certainly tough. Temp was high 40’s at race time, very little wind. Course was a double loop in a flat neighborhood. I hate double loops but otherwise ideal conditions as far as I’m concerned. 142 runners doing the 8k (there was also a 4k walk/fun run)

I went out in 6:45, which felt really nice, since I had been hitting 6:30 in the first mile for my 5ks. Still running with a fairly large crowd. I tried to maintain this pace, and thought I was doing it until I looked at my split for mile 2 and saw 7:01. The crowd started to thin out some at this point, and I hit the first loop in just under 17:30, which was pretty close to my goal pace. I felt pretty strong coming around the first turn of the second loop. I thought I had stepped it up some, but saw a 6:59 split on the third mile. It was getting difficult to find a steady pace, as by this time I was pretty much on my own – there was a small group pretty far ahead but no one around me. I decided with less than 2 miles to go that I better commence with the suffering, so I picked up the pace. I finished mile 4 at 6:53 pace and was breathing pretty hard, but I had caught up to the small group and passed them. Knowing the end was near, I gave it all I had in the last mile. Passed a few more people, but also got passed myself by a guy pushing a DOUBLE stroller. The dude was a machine, and I just couldnt keep up with him, despite the humiliation. I was able to muster a small kick in the last 100 yards, and just missed going sub-34, finishing in 34:08. My Garmin had 5 miles even, last mile in 6:34. Finished 3rd in my age group but 16th overall. I was very happy with the results, and this was the first time for me to go sub-7 minute pace in a race longer than a 5k. The mile intervals seem to be paying off.

Colonial Cup 5k, Camden, SC November 2009

I finally PR’d today for the first time in 7 months in the 5k. Nice flat course, perfect weather. 73 people doing the 5k. Decided I was going to go all out and see what happens. First mile was in 6:30ish, felt pretty fast. Started to get tired in the second mile, and felta little sluggish until the turnaround point for the 5k. The rest of the runners continued on for the 10k course. I saw 8 people do the turnaround in front of me. As it turns out, the course was just slightly up hill the first half, and slightly downhill coming back. It looked pretty flat, but it was definitely noticeable once I was heading back. Second mile was a disappointing 6:52.  I started really picking up the pace after I saw that split. Passed a guy around the 2.25 mile mark.  I was really hurting as I neared the mile 3 marker and didnt have the energy to even see my split (later saw it was 6:29). Saw the finish clock in the last turn at about 20:15 and I gave it all I had to the tape. Finished in 20:42, 1st in age group, 8th overall. I’ve been smiling all day about it!  I really think doing more long runs, in addition to racing the HM last weekend,  have helped my endurance. Still hoping to get to 19:59 by 12/31.

Governor’s Cup Half Marathon – November 2009

Took a break from the 5ks this weekend to run my first HM. The race is the Governor’s Cup in Columbia, SC – its the state championship in this distance and had a field of over 600. Its also known for being a terrible first HM because of a brutal hill which covers most of the last half mile.

I hadn’t been specifically training for the HM but thought it would be fun to try the distance and count it as this week’s long run. I had never gone further than 9.3 miles, so this was uncharted territory for me. Race conditions were very nice, 40s and 50s and no wind or clouds in sight.

I aimed for 8 minute pace throughout, which seemed to work out well. The first 6 miles were great, and I was hardly breathing hard. Official split at the 6 mile was 48 minutes even. There was a long incline on mile 8 which started to wear me out and I started breathing pretty hard. To make things worse, a nasty blister decided to declare itself on the instep of my right foot. Luckily, I was able to compensate somewhat and avoid having to stop – though it was hurting the rest of the way. Mile 10 split was 1:20:11, and at this point things seemed to get a lot worse. My legs started feeling really heavy, and I was definitely sucking wind. I was running with a friend, and he had to leave me behind by mile 11. Still, mile 11 and part of 12 were downhill, which helped a lot. The last three quarters of a mile were pure torture, as the hill kicked in and it took every ounce of will power to keep going.

I managed to cross the finish line in 1:45:15, which I was very pleased with. I would have been happy with anything sub 1:50, so this was just icing on the cake. Of course, this was far from being competitive , but it was a great feeling to accomplish something which would have been impossible even in the early part of this year.

Back to 5ks next week. I hope this nasty blister can heal fast so I can continue to train. Needed those endorphins this afternoon, watching my gamecocks get destroyed by Arkansas.

Oh, and I have a whole new respect for anyone who can complete, much less seriously run,  a full marathon. I cant imagine doing twice the distance I ran today!!