Sunday, November 14, 2010

HMSA Classical 25k

First time running the event and with only 3 weeks to go to my goal marathon I didn't want to burn myself out in it. Coach (Sean Wade) said to think twice about doing it as the prior week I was struggling with a few minor injuries - but by race day the pain seemed to have left completely so I thought I'd give it a go. I planned to run a workout in much the same way I planned the marathon in 3 weeks - keep the effort right about the same and just finish the marathon effort run after 15.5 miles instead of 26.2. At the same time I had my eye on a particular prize - local elite status at the Houston Marathon. This prize goes to the fastest in 10 year age groups in each of the HARRA warm-up series to the races. Since many of the fast guys already had their entries (Sean, Gerardo, Wilmer, Jon) I figured the probables for getting it were Tommy or Andrew or me and in a head to head all out race I figured any one of us could get it. So in an workout effort I figure I've got no shot but I'll keep an eye on these guys and if they give it to me - I'll take it.

I'd tested my marathon effort pace about a week ago at 6:13 mpm (ran 10 miles maintaining 164 HR and that was the average pace). I figured if I did my hot sweats run (12 miles in sweats) a few days before the race I just might be able to knock that down maybe 5-10 sec/mile or more if it works but I'm not always confident it will work. Figured at least if it didn't work I could maintain the marathon pace effort and at 6:13 mpm that was just enough to get a qualifying time then if I got very very lucky (like Tommy and Andrew no-show) it was mine.

Before the race I run into Tommy and mention I was just running an MP run - gotta marathon in 3 weeks - probably around 6:13 pace - which is really what I was making myself expect, the 5-10 sec/mile improvement was more of a hope but not an expectation.

Course is an out-n-back x3 going pretty much East-West and as it turns out the wind ended up be a pretty steady ENE around 5 mph. As Houston streets go this one had some hills on it - rollers. Temps were perfect right around 50F. I set the watch up to record laps base on when I pushed the lap button and I planned to push it at each turnaround which was about 2.65 miles each - also had alarms set at 160 and 164 bpm to stay in marathon pace zone:

Lap 1 West - 6:01 pace/157 AHR tailwind. A bit faster than I expected but feeling good, HR staying in check, Tommy up ahead of me as expected.

Lap 1 East - 6:14 pace/162 AHR headwind. According to the timing mat Tommy's about 6 seconds ahead. Little did I know these two were stalking me from behind - Francisco on the left and Andrew (guy who beat me by 6 seconds at the 1/2 marathon 3 weeks ago) on the right. Francisco passes me just before the timing mat. I cross the mat in 17th place overall.

So - we've got a race - Tommy 6 seconds ahead of us, and the three of us here who all record within a couple seconds at the mat - and all four of us are after the local elite status....there can be only one....I'm a bit amazed I'm even in this race as I'm just running a workout.

Lap 2 West - tailwind again. 6:03 average 160 AHR - right on my target HR or even a little low. Tommy is moving off into the distance - I'm figuring he's gone. Andrew has passed by me near the start of this Lap and went on ahead of Francisco - not that I was keeping track of him - I didn't even know who he was I just putting it together from hindsight. I'm back about 20 yards from Francisco.

Lap 2 East - headwind. 6:06/161AHR After counting to myself 26 ~seconds between Tommy and I passing a mark in the road - I get this bright idea after about a 1/4 mile of headwind - why not close the gap to Francisco and let him do the work against the wind. I do that (with high alarm chirping at me until I silence it) - close the gap and sit right on him. He's a little short to be a great windshield but much better than going it alone. He's trying to drop me by different tactics, weaving, speeding up - but to no avail - I'm sticking right behind him drafting and the lap goes much better than the last I did on my own. As he's trying to shake me with speed - he closes the entire gap on Tommy who is himself leading a pack of three guys into the wind and working hard doing it - Francisco powers me right by the whole pack of them. That appears to break Tommy as he falls back a whole minute by the time we get to the next turnaround. Towards the end of the lap there's a downhill and I figure I'm ready to move on ahead so I pass by Francisco. Here's the shot just near the end of that lap - and look who's just ahead. I'm pretty sure Andrew got there without any drafting so he's gotta be hurt'n - I'm feeling good and fresh - still just a workout for me:

Cross the mat in 14th place and on to the last lap.

Lap 3 West - Tailwind. 5:57/160AHR. The blue shirt guy is going about my pace so I stick with him. I figure he'd be real convenient to draft behind on the East side of the loop so I kinda keep him just in front of me. As we pass an aid station someone yells out - "Go Andrew" and I finally know who the this guy is - he's the guy that was in front of me for 5k of the last half marathon I ran and takes the 1st AG award, he's a contender for the local elite status - with Tommy and Francisco out and now I know THIS is Andrew - and I'm still only at a workout level of effort - he's going down and I'm taking the golden ticket.

Lap 3 East Part 1 - Headwind. 5:52/161AHR - first 1.2 miles. Just as planned - I'm letting Andrew do the work. He tries to shake me a couple times - even slows way down at one point but I'm not ready to take the lead so I stay behind and keep drafting. Figuring I'm fresh and he's gotta be feeling like 80% of the way into a race - I'm just trying to pick my place to make a move. Finally a little after the 14 mile marker I sprint by Andrew so he's got no chance to link on and I start making some space.

Part 2 - 5:43/165AHR - final 1.5 miles. Redemption for that 1/2 marathon - something very sweet about being at my limits with a guy one race then 3 weeks later just running away from him. I race it in hard - no idea how far back Andrew is. With all the slower runners getting lapped looking back was useless to spot him so I just kept charging it in. Got over the last hill and charged down the last hill to the finishline where Susie's there taking pictures and clapping up a storm. Gerardo (1st Master) points me out to the guy taking names and numbers for the local elite and with a shacky hand - I fill in my info for him.

Everything and more than I could ask for in this "workout".

Final results:
11th Overall out of 1241 with a time of 1:33:55, 2nd Masters ($75 prize) (Andrew +40 sec, Fransisco 3:31, Tommy +5:50) and a cool looking award:

After the race as I explain my race tactics to my wife - she riddles me with questions aimed at determining if I was cheating. No - drafting is not cheating in road racing - it is in triathelons but not road racing - a normal race tactic. I do feel a little bad telling Tommy I'd be doing 6:13s and actually ending up 6:03s - 6:13s really was all I let myself expect so I wasn't lying but as I passed by him I kinda felt like he might think I was lying - I suppose pre race lying is a race tactic too but I didn't actually intend that. As for the drafting - that's just the kinda thing competitive jerks like me do. It's all good racing.


Neeraj Rohilla said...

Yes, but there is a thing called drafting way too close. There was this one guy (I don't know the name) drafting behind me and on one occasion he elbows me and on another occasion his feet bump into my stride. Fortunately no one fell/lost balance but that irritated me and I had to make a move to shake him off my back.

What do you think about these times? Do you think running BQ time in Houston is reasonable?
10 mile (65 minutes)
13.1: 1:28:50
25K: 1:45:50

I will race 30K as well to see how that comes along.

I love reading your race reports and good luck on that coming marathon.

JunieB said...

unbelieveable! nice one John!!

kayry said...

Neeraj - you asking if you can go sub3:11 with those times - I typed them into predictors and they indicated 3:01-3:05 - so of course I think you can get a BQ.

I probably caused a little irritation drafting - you can't help but a couple accidently brushes if you're going for any drafting benefits - there's just little there farther away. But I try to find that balance of close but not too close.

Neeraj Rohilla said...

In my previous two marathons I had major issues with leg cramps in last 8 miles or so. I am keeping my fingers crossed.