|Scattered snowflakes hit me in the eye. My crimson shorts and shirt match my ruddy face and legs. It's the annual Road Runners Club of America race in Columbia MD, to which Cara Marie Manlandro kindly brings Ken Swab and me. In the community college gymnasium I chat with Pete Darmody, Doug Sullivan, Betty Smith, Christina Caravoulias, Wayne Carson, and others. We stay warm until time to hike to the starting line of the newly-remeasured course, now a full 10 miles, not short as in prior years. Hills, however, are unchanged. |
(photo courtesy Howard County Striders)
Friends are mostly taking it easy after training treks yesterday, but I'm well-rested and want to see how fast the old legs can crank. Prior best at this distance is ~9 min/mi, but that was before I learned that it's OK to run when tired. Log-linear interpolation between recent results for marathon (~9 min/mi) and 5k (~7 min/mi) suggest that my pace slows by ~0.65 min/mi whenever the distance doubles. That predicts a 10 miler pace of ~8.1 min/mi, a goal time of ~1:21. I admit when asked to hoping for 1:25 but secretly think sub-1:20 may be feasible.
CM and I set off together, but a few seconds into the race I look around and can't find her. The course begins downhill. The warmup is a blast and at mile marker 2 I see 15:00 on my watch. "OK", says I to myself, "not sustainable, but compared to 8:00 pace that's a minute in the bank. Hang on!" I keep pushing, walk a few steps at the mile 3 while I sip some water, then get back to work and skip the subsequent aid stations. Rolling hills begin to take a toll. I reach the halfway point at ~38:10 = ~7:40 net pace. The second half is rougher, but by chasing down cute lady runners ahead of me (and getting passed by some coming up behind me) I hang on to that minute and finish in an official 1:19:06, 272nd place overall. "You sandbagger!" says friend Kate Abbott when she hears the news.
The troubled right knee feels tight for a few miles, then becomes totally fine. Is this a tendon issue, or do the neurons just give up complaining? I focus on breath and gait, trying to relax, shorten stride, open and pivot hips. Maybe that helps relieve ITB tightness, if that's what the mystery problem is? The next day brings the current "normal"—minor pain after sitting with bent knee and when going down stairs. But running doesn't seem to cause things to get worse, and not-running doesn't seem to make things better. Guess I can keep on trucking? CM and I discuss summer training plans during the drive back home.
^z - 2010-03-04