Sunday, March 15, 2015

Race Report: Shamrock 5k

It was 64 degrees on Monday afternoon, so I left work *early* and took to the Georgetown Branch Trail at 5:30. However, the trail was still covered in slick and slushy snow and my shoes got soaked. I opted to run the roads on the cooldown getting in 10 miles.

The next morning, on Tuesday, I ran 9.5 miles, 5 of which was with SeanO. The snow is quickly beginning to disappear. Soon it will be no more...

On Wednesday morning, I ran an easy 4 miles in the morning before hitting track in the afternoon. It was my first double in a year and my first track workout since the fall of 2013. I only ran 6 x 800m (400m/2:30 rest): 2:27, 27, 22 (went with fast group by mistake) 26, 25, 23. It wasn't a lot of speed, but I dialed into the faster pace, which I definitely need right now. I got in 12.5 for the day. To me this was a perfect balance of hitting speed while being cautious.

I felt a cold coming on Wednesday afternoon and by Thursday morning I was in rough shape. I decided to take a sick day, sleep in, take a nap in the afternoon and kick the sickness. Later in the day, I ventured out for an easy shuffle taking in the sunshine and fresh air.

On Friday, I ran my Cabin John Loop. The trails were in pretty remarkable shape considering that on Monday they were un-runnable. I got in 9. I was a still a it under the weather, but running makes me no worse for the wear.

When I woke up on Saturday it was raining. I stayed in bed for awhile then sauntered over to my treadmill. Yeah, I did that. I didn't want to run in the rain and contribute to my oncoming cold (?) so I ran an easy 8 on the hamster wheel while watching "Father of the Bride". I never ran faster than 7:20 pace.

I slept in late on Sunday. When I finally got out of bed, I dined on syrupy pancakes and coffee. I still didn't feel 100%, but I wasn't feeling sick either, so left my pad shortly before 10:30am and picked up Dix at the Bethesda Metro Stop. We arrived in Baltimore for the Shamrock 5k about an hour later and met up with Fridge and his college friend Febish at Febish's pad near Little Italy. We distracted ourselves by watching "We're the Millers" while stretching inside his dark townhouse. Eventually we began our shuffle over to the line. The wind was brutal; trash bins were in the street, hats were flying and we were stopped in our tracks by gusts -- at least twice. Luckily, we told ourselves, the wind wouldn't be in our faces, so we thought. After a 3 mile warm-up, and a quick bathroom break, we pushed our way to the starting line. The throngs of people was almost suffocating at times. Once I got there, I did a bunch of high knees, butt kicks and strides and did my best to chillax, though, admittedly, I was a bit nervous. I looked around and saw plenty of fast competition, essentially emerging out of thin air, so I knew it would be a competitive race.

The horn blasted and we surged down Charles Street like 5,000 souls racing away from the bulls in Pamplona. I got a good start and tucked in behind a young man donning a t-shirt, hat and ear buds. We'll all catch him in a minute or so, I thought. I could tell I was humming, but I felt very controlled. The wind was hitting me from all sides, it seemed. My pre-race goal was to go out in 4:45, hit 2-miles in 9:45 and then drive it home...hopefully running a time of 15:15-15:25 and, hopefully, winning. Backwards hat eased up, or I surged, or both, shortly before the mile and I took off up the slight incline. I hit the mile in 4:38, but found no one near me. A bit scared, knowing I lacked any assemblance of a kick, I surged again. Shortly before the turn-around (roughly 1.5 miles), Andrew Madison (a fellow former UMBC Retriever) came up on my shoulder and eventually passed me. Though, our paced seemed to slow once he took the lead, so I made a rookie mistake and passed him back. Just after the turn-around, I found myself in 3rd, right on the heals of Madison and Carlos Renjifo. I can't remember if it was before or after the 2-mile (9:34 -- 4:56 2nd mile), but I took the lead again hoping to grind my way to the finish line. The wind was wicked after the turn-around and everyone, including me, was suffering. Still, I felt oddly strong and confident. Madison and the kid with the backwards hat (later identified as Sean Kelly) eventually pushed past me, but this time I was resigned to sit (and hopefully kick). However, they slowly -- ever so slowly -- pulled away. I thought I had a chance to retake the lead, and grab the W, in the last 100 meters, but they were already in full sprint mode. Our trio crossed the line in 15:17, 15:18 and 15:19.  Carlos finished in 4th. Dix was about a 13-seconds back in 5th. After the race, a pack of us went off for a 3 mile cooldown. Then we proceeded to shove our way to the front of the (free) beer line. Unfortunately, it was not to be, so we ran another 2-miles, or so, back to Febish's pad and cracked open some Guinnesseseses. By now, his townhouse had taken on a trench foot-like stench, which, mixed with beer suds and potato chips, smelled like victory. We chugged our stouts and watched "We're the Millers" (again) and talked about man things. Eventually, I realized it was time to go. We must go. We had to go. I pulled Dix into my car and we bombed back towards the Capital Beltway. 11 miles for the day and 68 miles for the week.

More on the race...

Although only a 5k, I think this was my best race in nearly two years. For the first time, in a long time, I felt very fast. Also, it was fun to mix it up out front and get after it. Don't get me wrong, I'm pissed I lost, and I will think about it all night, but it's good to be back in the fight again.

Van Metre 5 Miler this coming Saturday...

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