So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

My photo
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.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Revenge of The Fat Lazy B@st@rd

I talked myself into this race about six weeks ago as a tip of the hat to the local running club. Since one/more of their board of directors asked me the 'why don't you race local races any longer?' question, it seemed like a reasonable idea. I figured I was in better shape than I was after my horrible marathon experience in December, and had recovered enough from the half-iron distance triathlon. However, logic and reason began to scream in the back of my mind, 'why would you choose to run a race in the latter part of June, on Pensacola Beach, during the middle of the day!?'
Even my training runs weren't all that encouraging leading into the event. I kept feeling like ten pounds of used kitty litter in an eight-pound sack during my easy afternoon runs; and track work wasn't looking all that great, either. Mind you, most of the efforts were what I outwardly considered maintenance workouts; ideally at an aerobic (somewhere in the 70 percent maximum heart rate) pace. But, when I looked at my heart rate data afterward the efforts were lots closer to 80 percent, which could tell me one of two things:
1. The heat and humidity were worse than I feared, or
2. I was still a fat, lazy b@st@rd.
So, I didn't have too many expectations on this race. All I wanted to do was run as hard as I could for 3.1 miles and not embarrass myself too much.
Saturday's conditions were fairly conducive to racing; a bit of a breeze along the shoreline, partly to mostly cloudy, a little bit of rain (sprinkles) here and there. Since I hadn't raced a short race in a long time I made certain to be a little more ready, taking 30 minutes to walk along the bicycle path, then jogging easy for another 15 to 20 minutes. By the time I finished the warm-up I felt pretty good. Not confident, but good.
The first moments before the race are always hell on square wheels. While I wanted to line up as close to the front as possible I didn't know whether I was going to have the sustained power to keep from getting stomped on by some of the local greyhounds. However, I took my chances and stood one stride off the line. When the start was called it seemed like everyone and their mother went roaring past me; it probably was not so bad (high school runners and the really fast local dudes) as I feared. I tucked in behind five or six of the high school guys and cruised through the first 600 to 800 yards without too much strain. At about 800 yards it seemed like they were dawdling just a skosh (and I was concerned about a couple of my age group staying a little too close this early), so I gently knifed through the middle of their five-abreast formation and started to pick up my pace a little bit.
The time clock was set at about 1450 meters rather than a mile, so I couldn't take the time split or the call as gospel. In fact, when I looked down at my watch I knew the split was off; I haven't run a mile that fast in about four years. As always, the second mile would be the proof of how well I was doing. Got into the rhythm until it was time to turn back into the wind and run back toward the aid station. At that point the breeze seemed to pick up a skosh and reality began to set in. I managed to get past the second mile split before strange things began to happen (loose shoelaces, excessive heart rate, panic, and so on). I tried to stop for a second or two to at least tuck my shoelace into my training flats, to no avail. At that point I lost mental focus and all the bad things started to come into my mind...and when the mind goes the body is not long to follow.
My last mile and tenth was not particularly pretty; well, it was good for a half-marathoner or the run leg of a triathlon but not so good for a 5K road race. I ran a 19:16, which would time out to a respectable 10K or half marathon, and was good enough for a top-20 and age group first place. I groused for all of three minutes, then put it all in perspective as I watched some of my friends and athletes come was warm, humid (not terrible) and not a goal race. And age group hardware is age group hardware no matter how you slice it.
What bothered me more was to see a guy in his early 50s, who uses me as a target for his training and racing, looking much like his life was over. He finished about 30 seconds behind me and looked absolutely despondent. I guess it's worth feeling that way if there's money or honor involved, but with a local race with little more than a beer glass (and perhaps local bragging rights) at stake...I'm not so certain.
I took the time to chat with him, ask a few questions about his training (he works strictly on speed training) and recommended he train with my friend George. I also told him what I felt it would take for him to beat me at a 5K. Dude, it doesn't mean that much to me...if it means that much to you, then here is what you'll have to do.
But, I did tell him the bottom line - you are only as good as your next race. Who knows when mine will be? Hard to tell.
Until then, it's back to training. Being a fat, lazy b@st@rd is no fun.

No comments: