Frustrations continue. Throughout the Spring, I've gotten red hot for several days then proceeded to lose my form. I've only had a couple of really bad days but I've often been off enough to significantly inhibit my performances. Any chance of a sub-40 was lost early in the week when my legs were so sore that I cut out the pills entirely rather than taper down like I should have. I relapsed pretty bad on Thursday night, felt pretty lousy on Friday and merely hoped to feel decent on race day. With realistic expectations coming in, I probably ran the best possible race that I could on this day. In the end, I overshot that balance point by taking one too many pills. Even if I was balanced, a sub-40 would have been a very tall order today on this course in less than ideal conditions.
This is my 5th Atlanta race event and 3rd 10K so I have nothing major to report. It was a smooth trip that included a stop at Sonny's BBQ on Friday afternoon in Anniston. I arrived at my buddy Nick's place just after 9 PM eastern and just relaxed for an hour. It would be an early morning with a race start at 7:30 eastern but I was fine with that because we beat the heat. In the end, the weather was not much of a factor. Temps were in the upper 60s with 90% humidity and sunny skies. Not the best for racing but for mid June in the Deep South, I'll take it. The course was a bit more difficult than was described to me. It went gradually downhill (about 30 ft. per mile) for just under 3 miles. Then, we turned around and went back up in the 2nd half then went past the finish line just before 5 miles to climb another steeper hill before heading back down to the finish. I'd rate it as a 4/10 in terms of difficulty, which is fast enough that it does not preclude a PR. My training PR set in top form when I was red hot in January (40:14) was not even considered. I'd be satisfied with a 41:xx and pleased with an official race PR (40:55) set last Spring at Silver Comet. I felt decent warming up and believed that I had a good chance at a respectable showing.
The gun went off and I was out at a fast but smart and controlled pace. The first quarter mile was just under 6:00 pace, which sounds too fast but since we were going slightly downhill, it was pretty appropriate. I allowed myself to get passed in the next quarter and allowed the pace to slow. Lactic acid was already starting to build in my calf and I was only a tenth of the way through. I knew right then that I would not PR. Okay, just do your best and try to settle into a pace that is sustainable for the next 5 miles then kick it in. I managed to pass a few runners who had gone out too fast before the end of the first mile and managed to hit the marker in 6:20. On pace for a sub-40 but I knew it should have been 6:15 given the terrain. Next, we made a turn onto another road that was also shallow downhill but slightly less steep than the first mile (maybe about 0.5%). My pace was slipping a bit here. Do I bank time knowing that I'll have to go back up at the end? No, just keep a reasonable pace. I was passed 3 times before the turnaround and came the first 5K around 20:10-20:15. Not bad. Even with the hills ahead, I should at least be better than last time (42:07) when I was on pace for the first 1.5 miles then saw the wheels come off abruptly after that.
I showed surprising life after the turnaround and managed to re-pass 2 runners going up the slight incline while increasing my pace by a few ticks. As expected, Miles 5 and 6 were painful going uphill but I managed to stay in control and avoid a ghastly fade. According to the watch, my slowest Mile was #5 at 6:52. When I hit that Mile marker with a time just a hair over 33, I knew that I was looking at a low-mid 41. With no threat of a PR and a "decent time" assured, it was difficult to find the drive to push myself past that pain threshold. I simply got through the hill and did not have much left on the way down. I thought about a possible age group award and made sure that anyone who passed me was clearly over 35. I did kick hard in the closing strides but it was too little too late. There was some question about my official time. The gun time is listed as 41:21 and the chip time has just been updated as 41:19 (6:39 pace). I ended up 21st overall out of some 600 runners. Out of 42 finishers in the Men's 30-34 age group, I came in 3rd overall but took home a silver medal because one the overall winners was over 30. Congrats to Nick on his first sub-50 at this distance (49:25).
My best of the 3 10K races that I have done this year and I hope to build on it. This was good for a sub-41 on a pancake flat course in 55 degree weather with no sun and low humidity. Unfortunately, it's wait until Fall for another chance at sub-40. If I can get my body chemistry in line, I have no doubt that I can do it. I may take a shot in an indoor time trial. Note to self: Do not try to fix the dosage too quickly. Taper down gradually and endure the rough day or two until you reach the magic number. Next race is a low key local trail race (Peavine) on the 4th of July. I was HORRIBLE there last year and need redemption.
Grade: No subjectivity in a race unless it's a brutally tough course.
A time between 41-41:30 is a B+ and that's what I get today.
A 5K today would have been 19:40ish and a half mary would be in the 1:32s.