So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ECRT/Snickers Marathon Team Log: Dayton River Corridor Half

Just got through the last of Thursday's, Friday's and yesterday's e-mails and made my boss copacetic again...ha, ha, ha... Now I can pass along my weekend in Dayton.

I'm not a big fan of air travel; well, flying is fine, it's that dehumanizing stuff that goes part-and-parcel with homeland security that bothers the heck out of me. But enough of that. This year, we were smart enough to NOT go out for a seven-mile run in Clifton Gorge the day before the half. HOWEVER, we did do a couple of nice long walks on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning...perfect...just enough to keep the brain happy and not ruin our races.

This ended up being a dining extravaganza for the group; we did most of the places that we hit last year, save for Saturday night. Instead of Spaghetti Warehouse in Dayton, we got together with the RD and his wife and did Beef O'Brady's; Ray (RD) had a great time needling me, as I was cheering for LSU and the whole joint was rooting for Louisville. Well, the reason we didn't do SW this time (I think) was because we did Giovanni's on Friday evening and nearly all of us were trying to detox from the garlic; Giovanni's house dressing was loaded with the stuff, as well as their calamari.
We worked the pre-registration and race-day packet pick-up again. Fortunately, this year the race started an hour later and we had some very smart Univ. of Dayton kids working our table, so all we had to do was train them, then sit back and help clear up any problems. If it had been a repeat of last year we all would have had a crappy morning.

Temperature/condition at race start was about 58 degrees and high overcast; for those of us from Florida that's nearly perfect conditions. Most of the local participants are good at self-seeding, and maybe perhaps a little too good, because there was a big space between the front line and the crowd. Nice problem to have.

First mile was a 6:04. I knew as I made the first turn onto the bridge on Stewart St. that it was going to be a fast start pace. I worried a little bit: 'did I just sacrifice my race for a suicidal first mile?' Second mile split was called at 12:12; I still was not pleased and knew something screwy was bound to happen. I didn't feel good at all from the get-go, really; my right hamstring was tight at the junction of the lower glute (sounds like something strength-related, but I cannot tell).

Rather than deal with the hassle of taking cups of fluid on the fly (an issue I've had in the past), or not drinking altogether (another issue I've had) I carried a small 8.5 oz bottle of water with a (whole) Nuun tablet dissolved. Half a tablet is good for 8 oz of water, but I had no clue what to do with the other half and I didn't want to put it back into the tube with the other ones. So I had something to take a hit of every ten minutes or so. A warning for those of you who might think about using Nuun as part of your hydration plan: It's mildly carbonated and it will fizz up in a hand-carried bottle; so don't use a twist-off cap or it will spray you in the face. I had a sense of deja vu every time I opened the bottle, it was like what happened to me every time someone else stuffed a lime in their Corona on Friday or Saturday evening.

Last year, there were several guys who were running near my pace for the first three-to-four miles, so I had plenty of company as we went down toward the UD boathouse and toward the bike path. This year, however, either I was going faster than my contemporaries or the field got much stronger...a great majority of the race felt like a time trial from the first two miles or so. I got the pace issue worked out on the front half of the race, fortunately, and managed to go through the first 6 miles in the low 38 range.

The first signs of 'dude, it's time to pay for those first two miles' came once we got on the bottom side of the loop (turnaround) in West Carrolton. We got onto the street (very narrowly coned off, here - barely one person wide) and off the corridor bike path at that point; I could hear the breathing and footsteps of someone behind me. I must not have been hurting as badly as I thought, because he stayed right there until we got back onto the bike path and the bridge at about 7.5 miles. Even then, the guy was not putting any big distance on me. I saw Suzanne on the bike path, running relaxed and smiling. She cheered as I went by; I looked at her with that 'I'm hurting, can you tell?' look. At the bike path, Coach Rich Davis (my coach's friend) was coming from the opposite direction (a few miles back)...looking quite relaxed. He told me 'you're 19th.' About that point, all thoughts of backing off and "mailing the return trip in" went out the window.

I changed my hydration schedule from taking a swig every ten minutes to taking a swig every mile, not that it was mattering much. I quit trying to do the 'what's my pace?' math after mile 10; at that point it gets to be too much mental. Eever try to do that stuff when you don't have enough oxygen to go to your muscles, much less your head? Pace bands or GPS are probably required or highly regarded at that point, if you're not mathematically gifted.
I was getting worried about whether four or five runners were going to roll up on me like last year. Didn't happen. In fact, I was the one who managed to roll up on about three or four, including the guy that got me before mile 7. I swung wide to the right side of the path as I came around him; he tried to slide in behind me, at which point I put in a five second surge and a slide to the left side of the path. I was not going to let anyone ride me in to the finish area.

I had one last guy who was about ten yards ahead of me from mile 12 (where I finally ditched the bottle) on. I could see he was rigging too, but there was nothing left in the tank. At the turn down into the parking lot, about 800 meters from the finish, Dale was telling me to 'get that guy.' I almost told him, 'trip him, then I can...' There was zero left for anything that looked like a kick. When we got 200 meters out from the finish, the guy pulled whatever he had left out for the kick...I had little left but fumes. I finished in 1:23:44, taking third in my age group and finishing somewhere in the top 20. For a few seconds there I was disappointed at running a one minute personal best for the half and STILL getting stomped on by two guys in my age group, until I looked at the names: John Agnew and Mike Michno. John's a three-time winner of the DRCC. Mike also is a three-time winner and has a sub-four-minute mile (or more) to his credit.

So, the DRCC was a good mid-season tune-up and test of fitness for Jacksonville. I think I'm on track for a decent day in December, once I get the hydration down pat. The long runs that are scheduled for this next six weeks and the longer mid-week tempo efforts should help. Biggest issue of all is developing pace discipline; if I go out at a low six-minute pace for the first two miles of a marathon I will be so totally screwed.

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