Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shamrock 4 Miler...Not So Much Good Luck

Ok, blaming luck would be unfair. Actually, when you look at it by the numbers, this was not a terrible race. I ran a 21:10. That's one minute faster than I ran the course last year, and 20 seconds faster than my second place finish at the RFYL 4 Miler back in July. I finished 6th overall, behind some of the most talented dedicated runners who run in this city. But, I am disappointed with myself for not ever competing. I don't know if I could have run a faster race, or mixed it up with the guys up front. Maybe not. The problem is, I didn't put the heart and effort into it to find out.
Lauren will tell you, I ruled myself out of this one long before the gun went off. I didn't want to run it. I was coming off a 22 mile run in the mountains last Sunday and a tough workout at McAlpine Tuesday. I felt like there wasn't much speed in my legs. Still, as part of my deal for RFYL, I had to be there. I knew what I had committed to.
I picked up my packet at the Dilworth store Friday night. I had been fearing they'd stick me with bib number "1", and they did. It's not that I am not honored to have won the Grand Prix Series last year. It's just that I don't want to have to meet the expectations that come with that number. As expected, it drew a lot of comments before, during and after the race on Saturday. My favorite came near the three mile mark as the crowd passed by on the other side, "hey number 1, you'd better finish number 1." Sigh.
Lauren and I got to Stonecrest at 7am on the dot. I picked up my chip and headed out for a warmup with Caitlin, Aaron, Danielle, Billy, Chad and Boriana. My legs actually felt ok. In the past 48 hours, I had gotten a massage and taken an ice bath, but at the end of Friday morning's run, I could barely do a stride out. Mentally, I just couldn't focus. I was overly anxious.

The starting line was packed. I did some strides, then got right behind the mat. We were packed in like sardines. Just before the gun went off, two women in sweatpants got directly in front of me. They were actually standing there joking about how they didn't belong there and were going to bunch up the start. "Tripping Up to Boston", one of my favorite running songs, played and then the gun went off. I realized then that I should have politely said something to the women because guess what. They were right in my way. It took me roughly three seconds to get around them, but felt like an eternity. By the time I did, I was off the lead pack and had mentally ruled myself out. This was just weakness on my part.

First mile: 5:08.

Compton, Hovis and Linz had gone through that mile about two seconds faster, and I was hoping it may have been too quick and I was -- for the first time ever -- being the conservative one. As we headed toward mile two, I wasn't gaining on them, but I wasn't losing ground to them either.

Second mile: 5:03.

Shortly after the second mile marker, Ben pulled off the course for a second. I asked to make sure he was OK, but I guess the answer was obvious. At this point, Compton was opening up a gap on Aaron and I was hoping Aaron was fading, despite looking very strong. The third mile is totally up hill, and I would have to surge to catch up. I didn't.

Third mile: 5:39 (yuck)

As we entered the last mile, Aaron looked back at me a few times. I knew he wanted to know where I was, and I knew he didn't want me to catch him. He later affirmed this in a post-race email exchange. I really wanted to be in the top five and gave it a push before we turned off Ballantyne Commons Parkway, but every time I gained one or two steps, he quickly erased them. By the time we climbed the final hill before Stonecrest Shopping Center, I knew there wasn't enough time. 6th place, 1st 25-29 age group.

Fourth mile: 5:20

The times aren't totally lopsided because the first two miles of the race are downhill and the second two are uphill. But, the first thing Aaron said to me was "You gotta compete." He's right. I never mixed it up in this race. But, on the bright side, I learned a thing or two and I am happy it's my head that didn't want to race and not my legs. Unless I can find a good 5 or 10k in the next couple of weeks, the next starting line will be in Boston.

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