A quick disclaimer about this post and its title, A weekend of firsts in running. I do not mean ‘firsts’ as in I won any races.
Yesterday morning I toed the line at the McCormick Mike on the University of Virginia (UVA) Grounds in downtown Charlottesville. This race being another Mark Lorenzoni production, at Ragged Mountain Running, and this race taking place in Charlottesville, I figured this race would offer both competition and a road course that is far from flat. In fact, as far as the competition went I pretty much knew I was not it. After a four mile warm up in the rain to the start line the race began at 7:30. Having darted out from the line a bit too fast I slowly but surely fell back from the lead back of five or six skinny fast dudes that looked like they could be on the UVA track team. By the second 1/3 mile while running a hill the passing began. First a dude, then a chick, then another dude, then two more chicks, then I think- finally- two or three more dudes. The passing ceased during the final 1/3 mile and I almost, I mean almost, caught one of my previous passers-by near the tape. Finally, I crossed the 1-mile finish line in a time of 5:15. I finished well outside of the top 10, I do believe, and in the process was thrice chicked. Ah, to be a runner in Charlottesville…. There are some fast roadies here, guys and gals. Never before have I run a mile race or really pushed it in a single mile running or training effort to this capacity. I thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely would like to do it again. It would be nice also to eventually notch the ol’ running belt with a sub 5 minute mile. It is interesting to reflect on the pacing strategy that must accompany a fast mile. I ran the first half in 2:32 and then finished the race in 5:15, which is a terrible split by any measure and hence my getting passed during the second 1/3. Oh well, I’ll just chalk this one up to inexperience and ignorance.
A cool down run delivered me to the Carter’s Mountain area where I met up with Drew and we set out on a 20+ mile run through the hills, dirt and trees. The rain and temperatures eventually leveled off and spring flowers pleased the eye. Bright purple colored flowering Red Buds trees in particular dotted the landscape. So much so that it seemed the forest was a spider web of flowering Red Bud tentacles; where one tree’s farthest reaching branch ended, another tree’s branch began, and so on. Anywhere and everywhere we looked, it was purple flowers. It was a grand sight. Drew and I explored news trails, jeep roads, etc. Unexpectedly, we explored a bit too much and were eventually approached by a guy in a pickup advising us that we were on ‘private property’. The guy was friendly and all too eager to escort us off the land in the back of his pickup, dumping us outside of the property grounds on to a nearby road. We later learned that the private property belonged to- are you ready for this- Donald Trump. Ah, to be an ultra trail runner in Charlottesville... This was first number two on the weekend.
This morning I toed the line at the Camp Holiday Trails 5k, again on UVA Grounds in downtown Charlottesville as well as in a periphery neighborhood and, again, in the rain. After a chillier-than-yesterday morning warm up in the wind and rain the race began at 9:00. The course was pretty much up or down the entire way with about half a mile or so in total as flat. I crossed the finish line in 18:00 with another runner about an arm’s length behind me. In fact, that is about where he was the entire race. I would gap him on the downs and flat and he would rise to meet me on the ups. Fortunately, and I planned to use this to my advantage as the race ensued, the race ended on a down. I almost kicked too soon as I lost sight of the finish line but fortunately had just enough gas left in the tank to bring it home for a second place finish in my first real 100% road 5k race. Weekend first number three. And this after 108 miles on the legs from Monday through yesterday, and 28 miles in total yesterday alone.
Running fast, short or middle distances races on road is definitely not my specialty. I’m not experienced and I’m not quite sure I have the engine for it even if I wanted and tried to be good at it. Plus, I can’t say that the marathon blow up last weekend didn’t mess with my head just a little. I’m pretty sure that is why I was back to running a tempo run on Tuesday, sore legs or not, and logged my biggest week of 2012 this week- 117 miles. I needed some confidence back. With this week and weekend experiences in the books the confidence meter is now back on the rise. For the next two weeks I’ll keep the volume high and then reduce miles a bit the week of Bull Run. Hopefully this will bring me to the line fit and confident. But before that- you guessed it- more Charlottesville road racing. Next weekend is the 10 miler. As a newbie to town, I’m pretty sure the Charlottesville 10 miler is the annual event for elite and open field competition. I guess its time for another spanking.