What possessed me? I’d done stupid stuff like running three races in three days before, but never when I was in this bad shape. Not that I’m not on the upswing, as I like to say. But this weekend should make me or break me for the rest of the year. Ironically, my slowest race was my best, and I was thrilled with a PW (Personal Worst) that really wasn’t.
The Wadsworth Matchstick 4-mile was the Friday night race. Lots of friends from MCRR showed up, but not so many from the series. The hills were as tough as ever, and it was fairly warm at 79F. I ran a slow but reasonably steady 27:19. Since the turnout was lighter than usual, I managed to place 2nd in my age group. Got a $10 gift certificate to Second Sole!
What hurts, besides the slow time, is that 1st in my age group went to Doug Hradek, who I almost caught up to at the finish. I used to also be able to beat Doug in my faster days. Oh well.
On Saturday morning I drove out to the Green Township Y very tired, but not overly sore. The Green YMCA Caribbean 10K was not going to be a pretty one for me. I figured I’d start slow and try to keep the mile splits around seven minutes. Luckily it was cool and comfortable with temperatures rising through the sixties. With that conservative start I managed to run a fairly steady pace with nearly even splits. I came in at 44:39. This was obviously not one of my faster 10K’s, but under the circumstances, I’d have to take it.
Another funny thing happened: even with this slowest of 10K races in many decades I still came in 3rd in my age group. The leaders? Vince and Doug. Once again I had tried to catch Doug at the finish but wasn’t able to.
Now I added up my mileage and checked my average pace for the past week. One would think that after a tempo run, a speedwork session and two races that I could average better than 8 minutes per mile for my weekly seventy, wouldn’t one? It was 8:04. I guess this means I’d better do fewer miles. In fact, I’m thinking that next week will be an easy one for me, no matter how hard that is. Maybe this will enable me to run a decent pace at next week’s 4th of July run. Naaah, probably not.
On Sunday I awoke still more tired, but still not overly sore. This run would definitely be a slow one. Eight minutes per mile. If I could just do that for the entire NCN Columbia Station ½ Marathon, I’d have a PW, but I’d still be happy. For some reason, I’ve never run a really bad ½. As far as I can tell, my worst ever came in 1989 at the West Bloomfield half in 1:41. 8mpm would bring me in at about 1:44 and change.
But would I even be able to do eights? I did for the first six miles, but it seemed like faster than that. At about the ½ way point I caught Debbie and Ladd. I thought we’d run together for a while, but our reunion didn’t last too long. Ladd sped up, and so did I as I tried, unsuccessfully, to catch him once again. Debbie stayed back, but seemed to be doing fine anyway. Up until that point all my mile splits had been at or just over 8mpm. After this point, they were all faster than eights. Not that it wasn’t tough out there. There were some windy parts, and although there was no sun, the humidity was very high.
I took an energy gel at mile 9 and continued to gradually increase my speed. After 6 consecutive miles slower than 8 minute pace, my last seven were: 7:59, 7:54, 7:53, 7:58, 7:47, 7:21, and 7:13 for the final uphill 1.1. I liked that trend. In fact, I liked the whole race – I really enjoyed myself out there. There is nothing like the ability to finish strong. My overall time was 1:42:15, good for first in my age group.
But it was still a PW. Or was it? Ladd’s GPS told him that he’d run 13:67 miles. Other runners with GPS’ also said that they had it at ½ mile too long. ½ mile would be 3 ½ or more minutes. So it’s the PW that wasn’t. And the slow run that was my best.
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