This first part of the blog is the boring, training mileage summary. Feel free to skip this and go directly to the scintillating Blossom Time Race report below. Really. It's OK.
Since I have not talked much about my training miles in the last few posts, I though I had better summarize quickly. The week of the Cleveland marathon, I started with 10 miles on Monday, followed by 9 miles on Tuesday at the track with 2 miles at 6:30 pace. Wednesday and Thursday, I ran recovery pace 6.1 and 5.04. Friday and Saturday, my runs were simply intended to keep my legs moving, so I kept the mileage down to 4.3 and 3.5 respectively. With the marathon on Sunday, the total for the week was 64.5 miles.
With the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon just 4 weeks away, it's unrealistic to think about taking a break after the Cleveland. I did give myself a light 4 mile Monday. On Tuesday, I was back at the track for some intervals. After a few miles of warm-up, I ran three 1 mile intervals at 5:59, 5:58, 5:54, with 400 yard recovery between and 2.5 miles of cool down. Wednesday was a recovery paced 6.2 miles, and Thursday just a little longer at 8.2 miles. On Friday, I rode my bike to and from work for a 21 mile round trip, and I did not run (first day off since I was sick in February.) Saturday was a great day in the woods. The weather was perfect and we had a reinvigorating 12.88 mile run. On Sunday, a warm sunny morning, I rode my bike to Chagrin Falls, ran the 5.25 mile Blossom Time Run, did a couple of miles of cool-down after, then rode my bike home. See below for the race report. On Memorial Day, I ran with a group from Vertical Runner. We did 11 pacey miles on the trails, starting and ending at Pine Lane.
Blossom Time Run
This is one of the most competitive short races in Ohio. It draws the best from the area and beyond, and is always challenging. The course, flatly stated, is not flat. It is 5.25 hilly miles that can make you wonder why you paid money to put yourself through it. Coming out of the Cleveland Marathon, where I had run all out, I was probably not in prime racing shape, but I did not feel too bad either. Just to add to the challenge, I rode my bike rather than driving to Chagrin Falls. Again, probably not setting myself up for my best race, but it was such a beautiful, warm sunny morning, I wanted to ride. Honestly, even though I had not properly prepared for this race, I had thoughts of defending my age group victory from the prior year. I knew that the smart thing would be to run it as a speed-work training run, and forget about going all out for a win.
I arrived in town about 45 minutes before the start, and picked-up my bib at the check-in. There I bumped into MB, and any thoughts of an age group win were eliminated. He has a track background, and an excels at this distance. I have run track workouts and see his speed in 1 mile intervals. I talked with him for a minute, he congratulated me for the win in our age group at the Cleveland marathon, and I headed out to warm-up.
I met-up with Joe V. and we did some stride outs to get ready for the start. Joe said he was going to go out at a 6:26 pace, which sounded safe and conservative. I told him that I was thinking I should take it easy, with Cleveland only a week ago, and Seattle coming up, so I would run with him. Basically, I had resigned myself that I should stick to the training run plan, because the age group thing was not going to happen this year.
A couple of runners, in their race gear with bibs pinned on their shirts, played the national anthem on trumpets, then handed their instruments off and jumped into the start area. The gun sounded and we were off.
That was the last time I saw Joe, you remember, the guy I was going to run with, conservatively. The first mile has a moderate up hill, and I crossed the marker at 6:15, not burning fast, but faster than last year's pace. I could see MB around 100 yards ahead. I decided to see if I could keep him in sight. At mile two, the timer called out 12:18, so that was a 6:03 mile, and I was within 50 yards of Mike. I had a thought that if I could keep that close through mile 4, I might have a chance,...a slim chance but a chance.
Mile three was rough. The hills were getting to me and I was struggling to hold the pace. I was hurting. My breathing was strained. My heart was racing. My quads were throbbing. But I held on. The timer called out 18:23, so that was a 6:05 mile. Amazing considering the hills and the way I was feeling. And Mike was now only about 40 yards ahead.
Mile four had the last of the hills, and I was pumping hard. My turn-over was very fast, and I was trying to keep my form, but I was starting to lose it. I heard the tell-tale foot slapping, warning me that I was striding out too much, striking heel first. I adjusted, fixed my forward lean, got my center of gravity more forward, and felt the mid-foot strike return. Never the less, my legs were not happy with all the work I was making them do. I saw the four mile marker and heard the time..."24:20", a 5:57 mile. And Mike was about 50 yards ahead.
I knew that it was crazy to think I could catch him, but I was close enough that I had to give it everything I had.
As hard as I had run the first four miles, I needed more speed. I concentrated on faster turn-over, and stretching out my stride Fortunately, the course was flat from there to the finish, because I think one more hill would have done me in. I keep my feet moving as fast as possible, and pushed as hard as I can ever remember in any race at any time. That 1.25 miles seemed to go on forever. Finally, I saw the finish, and I saw Mike, still 50 yards ahead. I had not gained anything on him in that last mile. I knew at that instant that I could not catch him, but with the finish so close, I did not slow down, Now it was about getting the best time I could get. I ran the last quarter mile full out and crossed the finish at 31:50. I took a couple of steps, then doubled-over with the dry-heaves. The volunteer at the finish told me I had to keep moving...he said this to me while I was throwing-up. Have you ever tried to walk and throw-up at the same time? Don't.
Fortunately, the nausea passed quickly, and I felt better, walked around a bit, grabbed a water and a banana. I found Mike and congratulated him for a great race, and for kicking my ass. He was very gracious and congratulated me as well. I ran a few cool-down miles with Steve G., hung around for the awards ceremony, picked up my plaque for the hardest won 2nd place finish of my life. I had beaten my previous AG first place time on that course by 2 minutes, but this year, that was not good enough to win. Still, I can live with 2nd, knowing that I had improved substantially in the past year, and that I had put in an effort I could be proud of.
2 hours ago