Saturday, July 5, 2014

Raleigh Downhill Mile

I signed up for this race primarily because I had some festive red, white, and blue arm warmers that I picked up on sale at the end of the winter season and needed a 4th of July race to put them to use.  I was planning on running the Four on the Fourth again, but when I saw the announcement for this new race, I thought one mile downhill sounded far more funny than four with some hills, so the decision was made.

The women's race started at 8:30, so we left the house just after 7 and got there with almost an hour to spare.  It was a relatively small race, so packet pickup only took a minute, and then Monte and I just hung out while I waited for Kim to arrive to warm up.  After about 15 minutes of jogging, we a harder effort of about 200m and a few strides.  It was the first time I've really done anything beyond a 10-15 minute jog as a warm up, and I found it really helpful to have someone with experience to tag along with (thanks, Kim!).

I wasn't entirely sure what my goal should be.  On one hand, it was mostly downhill, so I thought I should at least try to beat my PR of 5:48.  On the other hand, I've been training for endurance events and have done very little speed work.  So I decided to not worry about pace too much and just run hard. 

The first quarter mile is a slight incline to flat, and I just focused on trying to run hard to the crest of the hill, knowing that once I got there I would have gravity on my side. My Garmin beeped at the quarter split and flashed 1:19.  I'm not even sure when I last ran a 79 in a workout on the track, yet I was feeling pretty good and was running in 6th place.

Once we hit the downhill section (loss of 114 feet over the last 3/4 mile), I tried to run strong and keep my effort steady.  I tucked in behind a couple of women who I recognized from other races.  I always see their names above mine in local race results, so I was happy to pace off of them and was a bit surprised that that I'd managed to keep up with them.  The second split popped up at 1:22 and I decided to make a move on the ladies ahead of me, knowing that I have no kick and a sprint to the finish was probably not going to work out in my favor. Just after I moved up to third, the watch beeped (1:20), the finish line was in sight, and I knew I had a new PR in the bag.

As we approached the finish line I saw Monte, but in contrast to my normal smile and wave, I was actually focused on racing.  I heard him cheering and knew that the 3 ladies I'd just passed were hot on my heels, and I was no longer concerned about pace or being comfortable... I just really wanted to keep them from passing me.  Thankfully I was able to hold my position, and after seeing Kim beat out the other woman in front of me to take the win, my Garmin flashed another 1:19 and I crossed the line in 3rd place for the second race in a row. 

Even though I'd seen each quarter mile split pop up on my watch, I was shocked to see a final time of 5:21!  Apparently I am not very good at in-race math, but I was smiling like a kid in a candy store, having thoroughly surprised myself!  Officially my time was 5:19, and I probably wouldn't believe it, thinking either the timing was off or the course was short, if not for both my watch and the results showing the same thing.

After the race I joined Kim for part of her cool down (better than nothing, which is a bad habit of mine), cheered on Robert and the other guys in the men's race, and waited around for awards.  It took a while to get the results printed, so we had plenty of time for photos...

I am still a bit shocked by my time, even with the nice loss of elevation, and will either have to retire from the mile or work really hard before the next one!

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