Monday, September 30, 2013

Race Report: Perfect 10 Miler

Once the temperatures start dropping in the morning after a long, hot, humid summer, you start to realize the fitness gains throughout those hard fought sweaty miles.  Fall racing season is upon us and it was about time to kick things off by racing the Perfect 10 (which also offers a 10k), a relatively hilly race put on by =PR=

With 5 weeks to go until the NYC Marathon, now is the perfect time to check in on my fitness.  And the only way to truly test that fitness is by racing. The purpose of running a longer tune up race 4-6 weeks out from a marathon is primarily to make sure your goals are in check with the state of your fitness.  It also helps to try and simulate some of the same things you'll be doing on race day (nutrition, gear, etc).  By proving you can race at an equivalent performance (this can be validated against a running calculator) in a slightly shorter distance, you are proving your goal paces are right in line for an equivalent performance at the marathon distance.  And while a shorter race will never exactly correlate to a longer one, you should be in the ballpark.  If you race slower or faster than expected, it means you have a few weeks to reevaluate your goals and adjust accordingly. 

Running Buddies (me, Jeff, Jess, Natasha, Meghan) post-race
Race morning brought about perfect Fall conditions - 50 degrees, clear, and no wind.  With the hills on the course, we didn't need any added factors to slow us down.  About an hour or so before the race, I met up with a bunch of my running buddies for a warm up.  I quickly learned that Jess was planning to race at a similar pace and Jeff was going to cruise along at his marathon-ish pace too, so that meant I'd have some company.  The more the merrier!  We ended up doing about 2.5 mi of mostly easy warm up running.  I ran a couple of race paced pickups about 5-10 minutes before the start.  Other than that, it was just a chill start before the race.  I was nervous to prove to myself of the fitness I knew I had, mainly because I didn't know how my body was going to respond with a hard effort in the midst of peak marathon training.  I knew I should be able to PR, since my previous 2 PRs have been during 13.1 races.  However, my legs had felt pretty heavy all week, coming off 2 out of the last 3 weeks where I ran some rather speedy 22 milers.  I was hopeful for some race day magic in my legs and a chance to prove my fitness.

The Race
10k/10Milers are off!
After lining up and chatting for a few minutes, the gun suddenly went and we were off running.  A bit surprised by the sudden start, we inched toward the line and hit our watches right as we crossed.  Both races started at the same time, so it was difficult to determine the 10k runners vs the 10 mile runners.  However, it was nice to have company along the route.  It was only until Mile 5 or so when we learned who was running the 10k, as most of those runners sped up toward the finish, while we settled into our steady pace.

Miles 1-5 
Cruising downhill through Mile 5 with Jess
The entire course was rolling hills, but the 1st mile started on a bit of a downhill, so most runners went out a bit fast.  Reviewing my splits show the first .5 mi of the race run at about 6:15/mi, but at about that same point, we hit a steep uphill to bring us back to finish out Mile 1 in 6:28.  Once over that hill, my pace again shot down into the 5:45/mi range as we were thrust down a steep grade before entering the start of a longer uphill grind for the next 1.25 mi.  Once we settled into the even effort on the climb, we just kind of locked in.  It was nice having friends shooting for a similar pace range, as we all knew to stay in control and stick together.  Mile 2 came through in 6:31 and we slowly crested the last bit of the climb.  The next section of the course was the one I told myself would be the most challenging: a nice short, steep downhill, into a steep 1/4 mi uphill, followed by another short steep downhill, followed by a longer .5 mi steep climb.  I crested the first steep uphill and hit Mile 3 in 6:32.  I knew that if I could get through that tough stretch and recover on the next downhill, I'd have the legs to make it through the rest of the race.  Only 4 miles into the race, but a lot of tough hills already conquered.  Mile 4 was run in 6:36 and my legs felt like jello.  I used the next mile of rolling (more down than up) to shake out and try to re-gain my composure.  I crossed Mile 5 in 6:26 feeling really good still and ready for the 2nd half of the race.  Toward the end of Mile 5, we split off with the 10k runners, so a few people who had started surging made their exists while we all cursed them for being done.  Meanwhile, we started the longest climb of the course.

Miles 6-10
Mile 6 - Jeff leading the pack, me in the middle, Jess right behind
Moving steadily through the uphill section of the course, I spotted Rebecca and Z there cheering us on.  It was a great pick me up and got me through a tough mental spot in the race.  Mile 6 was hit in 6:32.  Our little pack was still together at this point and we were all working to encourage a steady effort up the 1.5 mi climb.  The climb started steep, but then became a consistently steady uphill with only a few short flatter sections.  We finally crested the major uphill section, but were starting to split apart.  The grind of the climb definitely was a tough one and with only a short downhill, followed by another steep climb, the course was unforgiving.  I knew we had a long downhill coming, but I struggled a bit with the last climb before it.  Mile 7 was 6:42 - I knew all the hard work was done, with less than 5k left and more downhills to push onward. 

Pushing up one of the final hills
While I would have liked to run some of these downhills a little harder, my hamstrings were fatigued from the hills and I didn't want to risk any cramps, so I held back a bit.  But don't worry, I was still moving.  The downhill was so steep that I hit my fastest stretch of running on the day, topping out at 5:14/mi, while still holding back.  Yep - that was a steep downhill!  Of course what goes up must come down (and vice versa).  That steep downhill rolled right into another .25 mi climb, which would be the last real climb of the day (thank goodness!).  I hit Mile 8 in 6:34 and started picking up the pace a bit as the course started heading more downhill.  While heading downhill, we took a sharp left taking us closer toward the finish and I could hear the announcer and music.  I crossed Mile 9 in 6:20 and picked up the pace some more.  I knew where we were now - heading right back to the school where we run all of our track workouts for the training program.  Unfortunately, we had to run a bit of an out and back before heading down to the track for the finish.  The out and back included a 180 degree turn on a slight downhill (meaning uphill on the return) about .25 mi from the finish, which threw a bit of a wrench into my pace.  I quickly rounded the cone and tried to surge to get back up to speed and weaved through a number of 10k runners who were also headed toward the finish with a quick dump out on the track for the last .1 mi.  I heard my name over the speakers get announced and I just ran steady through the finish.  Mile 10 (and change, since I ran a little extra due to not hitting exact tangents) was 6:10.  As I got closer, Rebecca snapped a photo of me as I narrowly missed sub-65.


Bringing it home!
Final Time: 1:05:05
Avg Pace: 6:30/mi
Overall Place: 23/520; 19/224 Men
AG Place: 3/33

Post Race Thoughts
  • This race answered my inner voice and confirmed I am right on track for where I hoped I'd be.  I actually ran a bit faster than expected, not even factoring the peak training load my body is under.  All this points to keep doing what I am doing for the next 5 weeks.  Mission accomplished!
  • The entire group earned some Age Group awards.  It was pretty cool to be able to celebrate a hard earned effort with awards all around.
  • Nothing beats running buddies when it comes to racing.  Whether its the pressure to not let them down or to keep up with them, racing with others you know is a good thing.  I'm pretty sure I would have run a bit slower if I didn't have them to stick with me.  I probably would have gone out a bit slower/more conservative.
  • I'm happy with the way I ended up executing my race.  I turned in a 15s negative split (32:40/32:25), which is pretty close to an ideal race, especially given the hills.   
  • This race result shows that my fitness has improved since running the Brooklyn Half.  My race correlates to about a 1:26 half marathon.  I could have run a 21:00 5k (6:45/mi) for the last 3 miles and still come in at 1:26:xx.  This was on a more challenging course in my opinion, so I am pretty confident that my fitness is quite a bit better than it was in May.  All of this bodes very well for New York.
Age Group winners!


1 comment:

Darin Armstrong said...

To: Adam Lesser #Triathlete
From: Darin Armstrong #TeamLIVESTRONG

***Special #FollowFriday #Shoutout To: @ajlesser #Triathlete (#Swim #Bike #Run) & #RRCA Certified & @PRRunning #Coach, #USAT Official - http://lesserismore.blogspot.com

Hello Adam,
The above is what your #Twitter #FollowFriday #Shoutout will look like this Friday should you do a 'mutual' following with me on twitter. If you want changes made above, not a problem. ('Smart Individual Marketing/PR')

Just a quick message to ask if you would be interested in a ‘mutual’ following on twitter that will benefit you. (Ex: I am providing 'Anytime’ #RT's for all #Ironman #Triathletes #Cyclists #UltraRunners #Marathoners #FitnessProfessionals who follow me on Twitter and have something important they want mentioned for support…Over 41K folks at your access...) I know we can benefit from each other as I'm sure there will be some tweets of mine that you may consider #RTing as well. Those that #RT my tweets are always mentioned on #FollowFridays. I am currently following you now and am awaiting your follow-back...

All the very best to you & your family for the rest of 2013 & beyond Adam. Look forward to hearing from you…

(PS. Adam, should you follow back, I'll be giving you a 'Stand Alone' #FollowFriday #Shoutout including your 'website' this week Friday...)

Darin
twitter.com/DarinArmstrong
#TeamLIVESTRONG

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