Monday, October 24, 2011

2011 Greenway Memory 10 Miler Race Report with BONUS Into the Darkness Recap!

     That's right! I don't know what other blogs you may follow..., but today Cardioholics Anonymous is practically giving content away by offering TWO (Count 'em 1...2...) reviews of two different races all for the unbelievably low caloric expenditure of ONE mouse click! If you can find a better deal anywhere, just leave a comment below and I'll MATCH IT!!!

                                    Greenway Memory 10 Miler

     What a day! The Greenway Memory 10 Mile race was to be my 3rd and final warm up race heading into the Richmond Marathon on Nov 12th. I often plug numbers into THIS calculator to determine a ball park estimate of what my finish time in Richmond might look like. My hope was that race day adrenaline would push me to a max performance and give me some confidence boosting numbers to put in the calculator.

     To be fair, the Roanoke River Greenway is a very flat location to run on and with my experience evaluating elevation profiles, I had expected some good numbers. A few weeks ago I had come out here and ran the bulk of the course as a 10 mile tempo run with the goal of kicking each mile in the high 6's. I couldn't quite pull it off that day with my 9th and 10th miles dropping into the low 7's, and this race seemed like a good shot at a 2nd chance. Also, I wanted to test a theory about pacing and determine if their might be any benefit to holding back early in a race in order to finish stronger in the later miles.

     I'm not going to go into much detail about the race itself, it was very flat, I established 4th place during the 1st mile, I eventually got passed around mile 4, and I held 5th place from that point on. I took in water at a rate of 1 sip per mile using what I was carrying plus what little I could splash towards my mouth as I ran past the aid stations, and I used a gummy type snack product from Kellogs for during race "nutrition" which I hit rather hard during miles 5 and 7.

     Crossing the finish line, I once again had no idea what my overall time was since I tend to get so focused on sprinting to the line, that I can't actually get any bearing on the remainder of the surrounding environment, including the time clock. Come to find out that I finished with a 1:07:39 and when you plug that into the calculator above, you get 3:11 for a marathon finish time, which is exactly what I was looking for! Interesting note is that I used a mathematical ratio in a previous post on Oct 18th and came up with that exact same time for hour and minute...hopefully its a sign.

     As for my pacing theory, well, Garmin statistics for this race prove to me that there would have been no benefit at all to starting out slower that full speed. This does fly in the face of conventional wisdom and after a post race conversation with James I., I deemed it likely that the idea of running slower in the early miles in order to run harder in the later miles is probably a valid strategy for folks who racing distances on the high end of their range. If I were to break it down to a formula I'd say to start running at max effort, then determine the distance you can run before fatigue starts to limit your pace to about 80% of what your first mile was, multiply that number by .65 (rough estimate) and then I'd call that my "max effort" distance where pacing has limited to no benefit.

     That said, I do think that for training purposes pacing can be a fun way to introduce variety into a training run, and in a sport with as much repetitiveness and monotony as running has we need all the fun and variety we can introduce into it.

  Ok, to keep a long post short...I had a lot more running to do today, so after the awards ceremony (5th overall, 1st among 40-44 yr old) I went home, changed into trail shoes and scooted around the Chestnut Ridge Loop trail for 2 laps to get a total of 23 miles running. My daughter, Faith, and I were going to hike the Anthem Into the Darkness 4 mile night trail race that evening, so I knew I wouldn't be able to use those miles for training purposes, but they did serve a valuable purpose.

                               Anthem Into The Darkness 4 Miler

     I had been wanting to see my daughter, Faith, take a little more interest in the cardio disciplines for some time, so when she expressed an interest in hiking the Into the Darkness 4 mile night race with me I jumped at the opportunity to drop down out of competition mode and enjoy the Roanoke Valleys premier "fun run" as just opportunity to mix some more fun in with my past time/passion.

     As a guy who usually trains solo, even on trails, I have had to pick up on a few survival skills in the event of an emergency. One of those skills is that "mentally" I have to be ready to wrestle a bear in the event that one should present a threat. I have literally ran across a few bears over the years, but they all either ignored me or became intimidated by my speed, stamina and/or endurance, and they ran away. My daughter, being a bit of a cautious child, decided that since my bear wrestling skills had not been tested that she might benefit from wearing "bear bells" to scare away the bears. (Pictured above is Faith wearing her dalmatian costume with at least 4 "bear bells" sewn into it.)

    As a strategy Faith and I decided we would alternate between running, jogging, and walking every half mile. I felt this might be a bit ambitious given her lack of specific training, but I knew with her cheering practices that she was getting good conditioning for an hour or two of physical activity at a time, so we went with it.

     Faith and I had registered as walkers, so we watched the racers take off and waited for our run/walk wave to start 10 minutes later. Finally the horn sounds and were off! We quickly establish a comfortable little "scoot" and make our way along the long downhill section of the route, after about 1/2 a mile we switch over to walking speed and keep on movin' down hill for the remainder of the first mile.

     Just before the one mile mark the course switches over to single track trail and stays that way for the remaining 3 miles. At that point I ask Faith if she's ready to pick up the pace, but she says we need to take it easy a little longer so we walk a ways and chat about school, Halloween, forest animals, and a trail hike she did with her cousin a few months back.

     Then, just as we were getting past the 1 mile pumpkin marker, we ran into a mother/daughter team who were moving right at about the same pace that Faith and I had settled into. The two girls hit it off really well and just got to chattin', so without even saying a word we just moved along at a good hike pace as a group. It was very dark out or I might have recognized the child's mother as Pam R., whom I had very briefly met at another race I did a few months back in Damascus. After the formal introductions were made the girls just kept up their conversations and it turned out this was Sophie's first trail event too, and both girls like to read, and have similar tastes in TV, and animals, so the miles slipped right on by without even one word of being tired, or wanting to stop, or something hurting. Here are their pictures at the 2nd and 3rd mile markers:

     So, we finish our night hike, and the girls are thrilled with their accomplishment. We head over to the main building where the Mountain Junkies have laid out an excellent assortment of post race food that included two types of pasta, bagels, peanut butter crispy treats and hot chocolate. Here are some pics of the girls eating and lounging after their meal:

     In summary, a good time was had by all. Faith is still excited about her accomplishment and she is happy to have made a friend that she is likely to see at future events. As for Daddy, well...I got to finish an event in last place. This was an important accomplishment for me because at the last 2 events I went to I overheard random people say they just don't want to finish last, now that I've done it I just don't see what the big deal is...finishing last IS finishing...I just don't want to be the guy that never started!