I really have not felt consistently well since the end of March. First, my calcium and magnesium got out of balance, forcing me back on pills. Then, I caught the flu, which resulted in a DNS for the Kentucky Derby half. The last 2 weeks have been decent and though I felt my sub-40 chances were slim, I predicted a good race (likely under 41) and a good shot at my official PR of 40:55. I have run 40:14 in training when I was at my peak just before 3M.
I left work just after lunch so I could pick up my packet the day before race day and have a relaxing night after dinner (porterhouse steak). Traffic can be heavy near Birmingham on US-78 but once you get out of the metro area, it's smooth and easy for the remaining 2 hours. Tupelo is my favorite small southern city. I find people to be very sweet and friendly and this trip was no different in that regard. The swag was very good for a relatively small 10K (tech shirt and finisher's medal). The course was advertised as flat but I've been through here enough to know to expect gently rolling terrain. In the end, it was flat enough that it could be a PR course. Temps in the upper 60s with mostly cloudy conditions is about as good as you can ask for this time of year. I am now halfway to my goal of finishing a 10K in 10 states and this race is probably the best choice for the state of Miss' Sippy.
Unfortunately, I felt a bit out of sync the day before the race and woke up with nasty stomach cramps. I won't be too descriptive here but thankfully, I had no such issues during the race. In an ill-advised decision, I took a half an extra magnesium pill to try to get a little boost. Not surprisingly, it had the opposite effect.
I felt pretty strong warming up and decided that the long shot attempt at sub-40 was on. It certainly could not end up being worse than the disaster in New Orleans last month. I met 2 people from Birmingham here and chatted a bit. The gun went off and I was out at a fast but controlled effort, right around 6:10 pace. I allowed myself to relax a bit and crossed the Mile marker in 6:15. 10 seconds fast but that's not so bad that I'll be doomed in later stages. It also felt like there was more down than up in this mile. Miles 2 and 3 would be a different story. Just like in New Orleans, my pace slowed to 6:25 by the middle of Mile 2 and my attempt to hold it was too much of a struggle. Once again, I knew it was not going to be good and I still had almost 3/4 of the race left. That's pretty demoralizing. This time, I did not surrender my pride. Once I hit Mile 2 in 12:45, I simply set my sights on settling into a pace that I could realistically expect to hold for the remaining 4 miles. The 5K mark passed by in 20:24, 20 seconds down on New Orleans pace but I still felt a bit better. The first 4 miles were mostly residential and gently rolling. With about 3K to go, we made a turn on to a highway that was a shallow decline for almost a mile. That's a good place for an easy section. My paces continued to slow and several runners passed me but there was no ghastly fade this time. With just under a Mile to go, we finally reached the hill that I knew was coming after the long shallow decline. It really was not too bad. It was not terribly steep and leveled off after about a quarter mile. Next, it was a bride climb followed by a quarter-half mile straightaway to the finish. After 5 miles in 33:53, I knew I was going to be well under 43 which was a bit of a moral victory after the wheels fell off so suddenly in Mile 2. In spite of the hill, I managed a pretty solid 7:00 split in Mile 6. This looks like I'll be under 42:30. Close competition was nearby and I pulled up alongside a runner who had passed me a few hundred meters earlier. He managed to hold me off but I was still pleased with my finishing kick. I finished in 42:07, almost 2 minutes short of a PR but it was exactly 10 seconds/mile better than New Orleans. Age group: 6/44.
Ehh. That about sums it up. Not a debacle but certainly not pleased with this one. I'm now at .500 on the year race wise. 3 straight PRs to start the year then 2 big disappointments with a DNS in between. Changes must be made if my next race is another poor effort. I'm now open to the idea of slowing down my GA pace but since I'm only running 40 MPW, part of me still says to make those miles count. Since my focus is on 10Ks and below, that really should be enough. As for the pills, I'm going to try cutting my dosage while keeping the ratio at 1:1. My next shot is the Possum Trot race in Atlanta in mid-June, which will likely be too hot and humid for a sub-40 attempt. I'm afraid it's wait until at least the Fall on this goal. I need a good Mile time trial this coming week to boost my confidence.