On the heels of The Lady’s race report, I present for your consideration the sequence of events as told from my own perspective.
Ahemahemahemahem! I give you: the Burgh Pizza & Wings Pub Montour Trail 5k/10k Run / 2mi walk!
It’s a phenomenal local race. It’s hosted by a little restaurant down in the sprawling metropolis of Cecil, PA as an annual fundraiser for ongoing maintenance and expansion efforts on the Montour Trail system in Pittsburgh. These trails wind their way throughout the outskirts of the city, and are so awesome that The Lady and I ran both our 20-milers on the trails while we were training for the Philadelphia Marathon (saves on having to find a 20-mile route through the city!).
This year was my third year running, and each year the race is more enjoyable than the next. You can read about last year’s event and the trail itself here, but briefly: the first year, April 2011, I ran with Rob as he attempted his first sub-40 10k. I, meanwhile, was aiming for my first sub-50 10k in 6 years. I nailed it with a time of 48:10; Rob missed by 18 seconds, at 40:18. The second year, in April 2012, The Lady came along as our photographer (snapping this awesome finishing picture) as Rob crushed a 37-minute 10k and I hammered my own PR and finished a touch over 44 minutes.
The only downside to this race is the timing: it’s always 2-3 weeks out from the Pittsburgh marathon, so it interferes with the longest runs of the training cycle. It requires a bit of creative shoehorning to fit this race in without compromising mileage or making injury all but certain. However, The Lady and I had somewhat of a precedent: we ran last year’s Great Race 10k the day after a 16-mile long run in preparation for Philly. And we both had huge PRs that day. So clearly, it was doable…if somewhat necessarily suspect.
So the day after a 15-mile long run, The Lady and I got to the race well ahead of time to try and settle in. In particular, my IT bands had picked yesterday to suddenly start giving me problems for the first time since January, so I was keeping a close eye on them as we walked around to warm our muscles. We ran a decent warm-up, and left the rest to fate as we took our positions at the starting line. We wished each other good luck and settled in during the last few seconds–
AIR HORN! OFF WE GOOOOOOOO
My plan was simple: first two miles in 14 minutes, next two in 13:40, next two in 13:20, last 0.2 as hard as I can. My first two miles were pretty much spot on: the first in 6:53, the second in 7:01. My next two miles, despite the turnaround shenanigans, were also nearly spot on at 6:52 and 6:53, respectively. I was hurting, but mentally I was sharp. I reached the 2-mile downhill and tried to turn it up.
Here’s where I hit a bump: I couldn’t seem to put any more zip in my legs. It wasn’t even [entirely] an issue of fatigue; I just couldn’t. My next two miles were a tad slower than I’d wanted, at 6:48 and 6:49 respectively. Unlike The Lady, it was pretty lonely where I was running, only ever occasionally passing or being passed by someone. At this stage of the race, I was pretty much in no-man’s land: behind the sub-40 runners, but ahead of everyone else. Not that I terribly minded, though a little competition certainly doesn’t hurt!
The last 0.2 was excellent, and I blasted through it at nearly a 6-flat pace to finish 14-seconds below my PR.
Mentally, this was the most rock-steady I’d ever been. I was confident, poised, and unflappable (anyone who really knows me is aware how easily I get into my own head), but my legs weren’t cooperating. I even felt at the end how I had a lot more power under me, but I only managed to harness it intermittently. At the end of the day, I suppose that’s all you can really ask for when you’re running on 24-hour rest after doing 15 miles; 21.2 miles in two days is a tall order by any standard, to say nothing of when some of those miles are from a competitive race.
One mistake I made was actually in planning: I didn’t quite follow through on the math involved in determining how long the last 0.2 would take. Further, I didn’t account for how the tunnel (a solid 0.15-mile in length) messes with GPS distance and throws off the time and speed estimates for awhile after; hence, 0.29 miles at the end!
Nevertheless, this race was awesome. I had a blast. The Lady and I both nailed 5th in our respective age groups, which was a feat when we considered how competitive this race had suddenly become since last year: I was over a minute slower but got 3rd in my age group. It solidified my slowly-returning confidence in my speed game, and made the 8-mile tempo run scheduled for this week seem easy peasy (though I know enough to give it the respect it deserves).
We thoroughly enjoyed the free post-race food and drink, chowing down on hot wings, potato chips, and FREE BEER. God I love the Pittsburgh running community. Quoth my sister when I mentioned our post-run eating habits: “you guys are my idols.”
In the meantime, The Lady and I are on our peak week for the Pittsburgh half. Way back when we first created the schedule, we looked at this week in a sort of awestruck fashion, The Lady going as far as to leave the following note:
Yeah. A 38-mile week. For a half-marathon.
We’ll see what happens!
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