Sunday, April 15, 2007

The joys and frustrations of small races

I went up to San Francisco again today for a DSE race, a 10k in Golden Gate Park. I've always loved small races; the Rattlesnake Master 5/10 in Urbana was one of my favorites in college, because it was a small, fun, low-key race and because the course, looping around Meadowbrook Park, was the running equivalent of home-court advantage. Rattlesnake was where I set my 10k PR of 35:54 in 2004, running alone behind only a pace cyclist for the last eight of the race's ten kilometers.

At today's race there was no pace cyclist, but fortunately I had someone to chase. I ran the first few miles alongside Grant, the dude that beat me last week, and there was another guy that took his first mile in 5:20. By the halfway point we were packed together, but the other guy dropped off after that. Turns out he was tired from running a sub-16 minute 5k the previous day (!). Shortly after halfway Grant started to pull away, and I gained and lost ground on him in stretches, but the losing stretches were significantly longer than the gaining ones. The last mile or so was a real struggle; we'd gone out pretty fast (after the race Grant said we were at 16:58 at three miles) and I was just about dead.

The course had rolling hills, but nothing nearly as steep as last week (explaining the much faster pace for a race twice as long). And for maybe the first time ever in a race I thought I handled the downhills very well. I ran under control and with good form and almost always gained ground on the downhills. I also think that overall I did a good job of running efficiently early, even at the fast pace, and I'm really, really glad that I didn't jump out front and push the pace when I was feeling good on an uphill around the 2-mile mark.

So I didn't have a watch with me and didn't catch my time right at the finish, but I figured I'd hear it when they handed out awards. I heard them call out the time of the guy that rabbitted as 36:26, and I finished well ahead of him, so I figured I had easily set a PR. But during awards they gave his time as 35:18 and mine as 35:15. Which doesn't really add up, because I was way more than three seconds ahead. And I finished more than 3 seconds behind Grant (probably 15 seconds), so it wasn't that there was a bogus extra time at the beginning. And that's the frustration of small races. I am in the unusual situation that I know I ran a PR today but now I don't know what my PR is! I think I'll call it 35:18. I'm really pleasantly surprised by whatever I ran; I didn't think I was in better shape than I was back in '04. And it's possible that I'm not, and that 36 seconds is just the difference between running out front and chasing someone.


Danielle in Iowa said...

Today is PR central for Team BOMIAS! Congrats! Your 10k race was only 3 minutes slower than my 5k. Gees!

The Rattlesnake Master was my first race ever. I did the 5k and I managed to come in 3rd with a time of 29-something. And they give cool prizes! Yay for small races where even slowpokes like me can place!

On the downside, i ran the 10k my second year in Urbana and I must have been the third to last person to finish. Boo for small races where slowpokes like me don't have anyone slower than them! That race scarred me - I did that in 2003 and I haven't run a 10k since. That distance is my nemesis, which I fear to face! I'm an "everything but" girl!

Al Dimond said...

At least you finished! In '03 at Rattlesnake I had to drop out at about the 2-mile mark with really bad stomach pain. I had been unable to run for the previous week with stomach problems, but I'd been training really hard before that so I thought I had to see if I could run through it. Didn't happen.

Fortunately another dude from my running club showed up and won it, hung-over and on three hours of sleep, in just under 35 minutes. Keeping alive the club's victory streak at Rattlesnake whose length nobody really knows.

Joe said...

Well, Al, even if you can't tell for sure what it is, congrats on the PR.

The closest I've come to a PR is that my IT band is more flexible than it has been in years. :)

Al Dimond said...

I hereby dub this day "Unusual PR Day", and IT band flexibility PRs definitely count!

tarheeltri said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog... would love to hear some more about the WWR. Love the Adjusted Donut time!!!