Monday, April 30, 2012

Race Report: Pike's Peek 10k

The Pike’s Peek 10k is hands-down the fastest 10k in the DC area. I would also argue, though I’ve done no research of the sorts, that it’s one of the fastest 10ks on the east coast. Now that I think of it, I’m fairly certain I’ve typed this exact same statement before. Not only is the winning time fast, but the depth (at least the top ten) is truly impressive. In fact, there were more foreign Africans at Pike’s Peek than at Cherry Blossom this year.

My plan was to hit the fast first mile between 5:00 and 5:05 and then hold 5:0X pace through 5k (15:40-15:45). Then, ideally, I'd want to negative split or at least run as close to even splits as possible. I deliberately went out very easy and it took me a quarter mile to pass some people who likely finished four minutes behind me. In year’s past, there was a half-mile marker, but I didn’t see anything this year and after about four minutes, I could see the mile marker lurking ahead in the distance. I hit 4:55, not too far off pace, besides, I had settled into a nice pack that included Jordan Zwick and Carlos Renjifo. I’d rather run a tad fast with some competition than alone in no-man’s-land a few seconds back. Our trio slowly began to walk down Chris Sloane, who had gotten a good start and opened up a solid gap on our pack, but then he stopped the bloodletting and began to slowly move away. We let him. Together we rolled through mile 2 in 9:55 and through 3 miles in 14:56 (5k – just under 15:30). I felt worked, but I also felt good. I started to think I could hold this pace, but if I couldn’t, I’d at least run 5:0x from here on out. Somewhere around here we were joined by masters phenom Chris Juarez and that addition broke up our pack. Carlos fell back and Zwick and I tried to follow. I hung on for about a mile (19:59) and that’s when my wheels came off. Zwick and Juarez floated away. I glanced at my GPS and it indicated I was running 5:10 pace. Without being too abrupt I opened the valves and tried to get back on pace, but at this point I was fighting a side stitch and my lack of fitness was again (like at Cherry Blossom) catching up with me. I told myself “only ten minutes left to race” or “only another mile, then you only have a mile” and other silly, albeit mentally encouraging things like that. I hit mile 5 in 25:11 (a 5:12) and at that point I was really starting to hurt. Each time I tried to spit it felt like as if I were going to throw up, something that happens when I'm redlining it. An Ethiopian I had passed about a mile before (as if he were standing still), now passed me back, as if I were standing still. Damn. I must really be slowing down now. I tried to go with him, but at this point I was just hanging on. I knew I could still kick, but any surge in speed wouldn’t last long, so I waited until I got to the White Flint Metro before digging deep. I hammered as best I could (my 6th mile was 5:19 – ugh) and, as usual, the clock was deceptively further away than I thought. I hit the line a couple ticks over 31:32. Although this time was at the upper end of my prediction, I walked away a little miffed, because I think I am faster than that. Once again, this is a “4” on a scale of 1 to 5, which in all honesty is still okay, just not great. Luff noted that he had a number of “4”s all spring, before essentially hitting a “6” with his Penn Relay’s performance last Thursday. So, if all these “4”s lead to a “5” in Duluth, well then I support that. After the race, Karl (who by the way ran a phenomenal 30:05!), suggested that these “rough patches” will eventually smooth over once I regain the fitness. 

If picturing a graph or chart, imagine a line that is continuing in a steady upwards/straight projection, but near the end it dips way down, before climbing back up again. My “dip” at Pike’s Peek was certainly less, or smaller, than it was at Cherry Blossom. Now I just need to work on “flattening” that dip and getting my line straight again. Did that make any sense? No? Good...

Some positives to take away:
-       My 5k split was faster than my Shamrock 5k time from a few weeks back...and Shamrock is a super fast course
-       I hung on to sub-5 pace until four miles. If I had only a mile left to race (vice 2.2), I’m confident I would have run close to 25 minutes, if not just a few ticks over. I’ve only broken 25:00 twice, so that would have been a great (mental) step forward.
-       I was happy to actually race. On Wednesday I aborted my workout due to leg pain. I took Thursday completely off and ran a measly 3 miles on Friday. Up until then, I was 50-50 on racing. I am glad I did.
Some negatives:
-       most of that was noted above. In summary, “smoothing out that rough patch” seems easier said than done
-       according to McMillian, my Cherry Blossom time is better than my Pike’s Peek time. That’s kind of sucky. That calculator is debatable of course, but I find it to be one of the better ones.

I plan to see the chiro twice this week while resuming regular training. I want to find a couple of race to do between now and Duluth, but the only one I'm seriously leaning to is the Germantown Five Miler on 5/19. I've never raced it, but have always wanted to. All I know is it's challenging, so the focus will be more on racing people than racing time.