My first race in a while, gosh, not counting Stone Cat or the Harvest 1/2 (which I knew I wasn't ready for) I think it goes back to last July. At the end of last year I was not in good racing shape, and I wasn't running much.
I'm still not running (as) much, but I've bumped it a little, and I've had some pretty decent workouts over the past 6-8 weeks. I'm still about 3-5 pounds heavier than last year at this time though because I haven't taken that part seriously enough. And I've got some stuff with my abdomen that just won't go away. Anyway, there's the preamble.
Cremer, Jim, Rick and I drove down on a gorgeous morning in what has been a very nice winter. 35 degrees, bright sun, a little wind, but nothing big. All but Rick were trying for 1:30, so it was going to be an interesting day. LG was going to as well. Arrived early, sat around, around 9:30 did the warm up. I was worried right away, because my legs just did not feel good at all during warm up. Very tight and just couldn't stride during the strides. But I did that and my drills, and we got back in time to get to the start. We all lined up near the front (first 7 rows or so) because I knew this wasn't a very fast field. LG was injured, so she bagged the 1:30 goal and it was the three of us.
And we’re off. Course was different this year, we immediately turned and headed south (with the wind). First mile was easy, right on time, all together. Already knew I was working though, hoped that it was just trying to settle into doing something I wasn’t used to. Mile 2 was back south, into a little bit of wind, but it was more from the west. Mile 2 was fine, a little slow. I thought that may have been because Jim was leading us, no Garmin and such. I let them lead though, because as much as Greg accused me of sandbagging, I really thought I had no business thinking I could run this pace. My training just hasn’t been that good. Mile 3 we headed west into the wind and I got behind them.
Somewhere in here Greg took the lead. Then he gained a few steps on Jim, who had gained a few steps on me. There was no talking. Maybe a mile or two of this, and I think this was both into the wind and slightly uphill. Around mile 4 Jim was laboring a bit, and I knew if I stuck with him I’d be in trouble. So I passed. Cremer maybe had 30 yards on me at this point, and I was kind of struggling to keep pace. Somewhere after mile 4, a pack (maybe 8) of triathlete guys (they were chatting away) came up on me and passed me as if they were a pace group. I almost let them go, because tri guys kind of annoy me, but I latched on for dear life so they could shelter against the wind. We ran in a really tightly knit pack, I made no effort to move or pass or nothing, just stick with them. We were all so ridiculously close together I got to worrying about stepping in a hole or tripping.
The next thing I knew, I could see the gap on Cremer get smaller, and somewhere in here our amoeba did a little phagocytosis on Cremer. He was now one of us – the tri guys. I completely ignored him and hung with my new friends. I actually felt a bit better.
Then we came on a water stop a little before ½ and it all fell apart. Some tri guys ran through, some took water quickly, some slowly (me) and the group broke up. They all got themselves together, but I found myself behind and it was too big of a gap to make up.
Mile 7 or so we turned out of the wind, and the course had to have been net downhill. I actually happened on JW, who was running but not racing, and he ran with me a bit. He asked about what I was trying for, I told him, but told him I was sucking wind, I could feel the fade coming. And I was totally alone except for him, what the hell happened to Cremer? The course was downhill, and I should have been flying, but I wasn’t. I just couldn’t stride, and downhill running just plain hurts right now with my groin/ab. So my pace wasn’t gaining at all, may have been slowing even. I asked JW to look back for me and see if he could see Cremer and Jim. He said he saw no one, but I later learned that he’s blind. Heh.
He left me after maybe 1.5 miles, and this last mile and right here is where I lost the race. My lack of pace on that downhill surely let Cremer catch me (he later told me I had 100 yards on him). I approached a stop that I thought was water but it was Gu. I had already slowed to get my own Gu out of my glove and eat it so I could take water, and then when this wasn’t water I had to get myself going. I glanced back, and there was effing Cremer, maybe 10 steps back. When I got to the water stop, I actually walked through to get full water and he ran through, taking the lead. Damn. I gave chase.
I caught up, we ran together, me slightly behind, mostly. He complained about his hip, and this piece of information led me to alter what would have normally been my finish strategy. I just decided to stick with him like glue. Mile 10, mile 11, don’t remember much. We turned inland off the ocean after I threw my gloves, and my hands got cold again. And this part was definitely up hill, and favored me. I was able to keep pace more easily here, and I think I was ahead most of this. Then we turned and turned again to go back to the ocean, downhill, and that definitely favored him. He told me later that he passed me kinda hard on the downhill because he knows from our training that it hurts me to go downhill. Got flat again, and we turned the corner with maybe two to go back on Ocean Drive and I’m maybe two steps behind.
Just stay on him. That’s all I wanted to do. I knew he was going for <1:30, and I knew we were slow but not that far off. He kept looking at his watch and cursing. Every time he looked at his watch he would surge and I would have to match. Mile 12 we picked up the pace. We were passing people and were not being passed. Just stay with him. More watch looking, more surging, this kind of hurts. We came on Bob Randall at 12ish. He yelled we were looking good, asked how we were. Greg said something, I was a dick and said nothing because I couldn’t.
At mile 11, I thought I might try to pick up at mile 12 and pass him. But with these surges we were already picking up. So at mile 12 I knew I couldn’t pass him hard because I didn’t have anything. I elected to try to use his hip against him and take it to mile 12.7 and then pass.
We got to 12.7 though and it felt to me like we were flying. I tried to pass and did, but he matched it right away. I then changed my plan again, deciding to take him in the chute. This normally wouldn’t work, because he has more speed than I do, but I had to hope he would hurt his leg.
I was maybe 2 steps behind and we’re cruising. Past mile 13 and you can see the finish. He glanced back and I knew he saw me behind a few steps. I knew that was the last time he would look, and he didn’t seem to be gaining speed. I pulled out to the right, gave everything I had, leaned at the mat, and had him by ½ step. Yes!
Then I hear Go! Keep going! We had both eased a bit, and realized that the clock was like 30 yards further forward with another mat. He got going a split second before me, I went again, but then it was him by ½ step. 0.2 seconds to be exact.
He beat me fair and square (our chip times were a dead heat) but I wasn’t the only one pissed about the mat. Some people said it was normal though, and reminded me that I should always run to the clock. The word BadDawg chose was that I'm a "stupidhead". Honestly I didn’t even see the clock until I was on it, I was so focused on Greg and the mat.
So that’s the story. One part of the story is that I once again came up short when it counts. I’m like the Jim Kelly era Buffalo Bills except not as good. But another part of the story is that it was low 1:30, I was 1:29:22 a year ago when I felt I was in much better shape. So I’m actually not in as bad of shape as I thought. If I actually can lose a few pounds and continue on (even if it’s at this low mileage level) maybe I can get myself into racing shape. McMillan says 3:10. But the course would be Sugarloaf, and running downhill hurts.
MTA: I should have passed him earlier and run scared from the bfront. I should have been seeing red before I did.