After my performance on July 4th which I was happy with until I saw the race results I was looking to finish strong on the second loop of the "Double". After all, getting passed by a barely breathing guy pushing a jogging stroller around mile 3 of a 5 mile race is a sad statement. Being beaten by at least two 40+ women means only one thing; I need to work on my speed.
The double trouble fit my training schedule perfectly. You don't have a training schedule? Perhaps you should. Or you can continue to training for the sake of training and wonder why your legs aren't responding. I had taken the week easy except for the short (and slow) race on Wednesday. My volume was down and the legs were feeling fresh.
Robert Lyden in "Distance Running" suggests that the concept of training through races is much maligned and has a negative effect on the athlete. He says it "makes a muddle of the acquisition process". In short, hard training makes hard racing, impossible. He believes that racing should be saved for the tail end of an easy week. A reduction in training stress allows the body to both stabilize and consolidate the potential that was created with that 2-4 week training stress. A competition at the end of this "worthwhile break" allows the body to realize the improvement. Potential must be realized as performance before the athlete can be confident that the training is working as planning. And according to Lyden the only way to realize potential is to allow the body to acquire this potential through a 7-14 day break prior to competition or time trial.
It just so happened that I was at the end of a "worthwhile break". My body was poised to realize the potential created over the previous few weeks of training. Based on my previous results over similar distances, I should be looking at a top 10 finish.
The start was chaotic. The 30k went one direction and the 15k another. In about 1/4 mile both groups of runners merged onto a gravel path and immediately the slow clashed with those not wishing to hike up the hills. I got stuck behind a mass of slow runners who immediately put on the brakes with the first hill. I took to the weeds and poison ivy to make headway up the first gradual incline.
After that it thinned out and I ran a steady race. This was boring woods running which is still better than boring road running but there was nothing spectacular about the trail.
The course had a few run-able sections of uphill and a few sections of downhill where time could be make up. You can see my first lap took 1:20:05 and I averaged 166 bpm (heart rate is the red line). Aside from the start I conserved energy and was content to follow.
The second lap (highlighted in blue) was a much more concentrated effort at the edge of my limit. I ran it in 1:17:41 and averaged 175bpm. I passed 7 runners within the first half of the second lap and finished the last 4-5 miles running solo.
The post race party was disjointed, as many 15k runners had hit the exits and only a hodge-podge of food remained. I ate some tootsie rolls and a hot dog and snagged the last two bananas. I was soaked and dripping with perspiration and was glad for the cold, makeshift shower that was set up in the grass. Lane and crew were hanging out and we all chilled until Shawn rolled in. That was it. 5th place finish is my best to date. Turns out racing after a "worthwhile break" has its benefits.
Seems Peca thinks she won an age group award.