Sunday, March 29, 2009

Race Report – University of Maryland Invite

I had been training to break 15:00 for the 5K all winter. It would serve two purposes; I love breaking barriers and it would be great speed work for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I scheduled my peak 5k (The Maryland Invitational) a week before Cherry Blossom. I would run a road 5k two weeks before and a time trial on the track two weeks before that. It all seemed so perfect.

At the time trial, I PR’d…but barely. I was a little miffed at the time (wanted to be 15:0X). I ran a 15:12 but did this at the end of a period of very high mileage (for me). Two weeks later, at the Shamrock 5k, I ran 14:58 and got the monkey off my back. This might have been the race of my life. I adjusted my goal for the Maryland Invitational and hoped to break 14:50.

I did some “intel” before the race and found out that Richie Booth (UMD) and Andrew Madison (UMBC) were hoping to run under 15:00. Diego, my loyal training partner, was also trying to sneak under the barrier. I was hoping there would be 4-5 guys between 14:30 and 15:00 and that I’d simply get dragged through to a PR.

The weather was pretty ideal, albeit a little bit of light rain/drizzle. Not too slick. Terrible for the crowds.

The gun went off and a storm of wet runners pushed towards the turn. I have not run a track 5k since the year 2001(!) and I had forgotten how crazy college starts were. I was thrown around a little but tried to stay close to the inside curb. Some meathead from a community college started shoving me around in the first 200m. I gave a half push back and then he slammed into me. “Alright, easy there” I said smartass-like. Then he called me a name that rhymes with “ducker”. Not wanting to throw down 200m into the race, I cautiously eased away. I moved around the pack but stayed close to the curb (something I am historically bad at doing). I looked at the clock and saw 73, 74 at the 400m. Damn, too slow. I was in no mood to play sit-and-kick games with collegians who were 8-10 years my junior. If I was going to run well, I needed to lead the race. I could care less about winning or losing – I just wanted to run fast. After the next turn I surged down the homestretch and tucked in behind Madison of UMBC, who had gapped the field a little. Why lead if I don’t have to? Soon a group of 5 runners tucked in behind me. Our next lap was a little faster, but we were still slower than 4:50 pace. I shook my head and took the lead. I dropped a 71 and then a 72 and hit 1600m in 4:50. From what I could tell, there were about 3-4 guys on my heals including Booth (Md) who had helped push the pace with me in the earlier laps. I fell asleep a little and Williams (also unattached) came up on my hip. Fine by me, let him do the work. We traded lap leads over the next mile or so without expending too much energy doing so. I hit 3200m in 9:39. I was negative splitting but barely. This was not ideal. I was hoping to get dragged through 2 miles close to 9:30 and simply tough my way through the last mile. Suddenly Booth and Williams sprinted past me. They were beginning their “long drive” a la Viren. I stayed in their wake as best I could but they were inching away from me with each lap. With 800m to go, they had put a few seconds on me. I dropped my head and began to kick. I needed to finish respectably. With just over a lap remaining both Williams and Booth suddenly appeared within sight. I was actually DECREASING the real estate between us. As I continued to hammer away, Diego came bounding by me like Jesus Christ wearing spikes. Diego is a 3:48 guy who “retired” from racing and is now just a casual runner. He’s been right there with me doing every workout with me over the past 2 months. Needless to say, this guy has wheels. I tried my best to go with him, but he is just too damn fast. With 250m to go, Diego caught Booth. Good God, was he going to win? I hadn’t even seen Diego since the start of the race and here he was walking down the leaders. I did my best to kick. I rounded the final turn and caught Booth with 90m to go. I drove like hell for the finish. In the last moment McNamara from Bucknell flew by me on the right. He went by so suddenly I never had a chance to respond. He beat me by less than half a second. In my last lap, I had gone from 3rd, to 4th, back to 3rd and then 4th again. My fastest lap of the race had to be my last lap, but Diego and McNamara had even faster final laps. Damn youth.

I ended up running 15:07. I was not very happy. I’ve been working out very well and this race doesn’t translate…oh well. I’ve been PRing left and right, so a bad day is probably in order. Next up – Cherry Blossom.

Event 20 Men 5000 Meter Run
Name Year School Seed Finals
1 Williams, Ryan Unattached 15:10.00 15:01.71
2 miralles, diego Georgetown RC 14:45.00 15:03.28
3 McNamara, Connor Bucknell 15:10.00 15:07.40
4 klim, jake Georgetown RC 14:45.00 15:07.64
5 Booth, Richie Maryland 14:40.00 15:09.02
6 blasiak, sam Georgetown RC 15:45.00 15:27.56
7 Karlin, Matt Unattached 15:10.00 15:28.55
8 Madison, Andrew UMBC 15:00.00 15:28.77
9 Rooney, Brian Johns Hopkins 15:30.00 15:31.44
10 Clark, Josh Bucknell 15:25.66 15:32.71
11 shore, ian Bucknell 15:32.00 15:42.05
12 centofonti, corey Hagerstown CC 15:28.46 15:45.34
13 Brown, Dave Bucknell 15:20.00 15:45.78
14 Fitzgerald, John Salisbury 15:49.45 15:47.31
15 Stokes, Jr., David Unattached 15:40.00 15:47.74
16 Bowie, Chris UMBC 15:45.00 15:47.95
17 straughn, matt Unattached 15:48.16
18 Sigmon, David Johns Hopkins 15:30.00 15:48.94
19 Nunns, Geoff Johns Hopkins 15:52.00 15:49.76
20 Berstler Jr., Stephen Salisbury 15:55.98 15:57.10
21 Shifler, Ryan Hagerstown CC 16:27.53 16:13.91
22 Allen, Brian Howard CC 16:00.00 16:14.04
23 aramayo, ed Unattached 15:50.00 16:23.84
24 Beller-Morales, Walter Unattached 16:00.00 16:24.05
25 Ladd, James Salisbury 15:58.44 16:39.68
26 Keane, Nick Howard CC 16:40.00 16:42.75

1 comment:

Diego said...


I know how you feel. I always had worse PRs than the guys I was beating in 'big' championships. With that I want to say that I never met the expectations in the fast races that were meant to set a PR. But I am sure that, like in my case, whenever you look at it in retrospective you will appreciate much more what you did yesterday. Sure I agree you can run faster than that, we all know that, but you did a great job this season and it will pay back; it already has. And, even though I do not consider it a failure, I believe you are right when you say that things like these are what enable success.

Cherry Blossom? You will crush it.