Saturday, November 26, 2011
Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Run 2011
So every now and then I get an itch for competition. An itch to see if I can turn back the clock and pound out some 5 minute miles, okay 6 minute miles, and find out if I can still hold my own in this world of singlets, short shorts, and flashy racing flats.
The Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day 4 miler is probably the biggest and most competitive road race our town offers and it had been 16 years since I had truly "raced" this event. I've done the race many times since then behind the wheels of a jogging stroller with one or two cheerleaders along for the ride. Starting from the back of the pack of 1000 plus runners/joggers/walkers with a double-wide stroller is a whole other sport on its own. "Hold on girls, we're jumping this curb and going for the sidewalk!"
It wasn't until Tuesday night that I finally decided to commit to this 20 plus minutes of pain. Believe me, I am much less intimidated by a full day (or more) trail running event than a road race of any distance. Seeing so many of the trail running crew signed up for the race as well really pushed me over the edge.
So what was the goal? I have been regularly pushing the lactate threshold a couple times a week on the track, inclined treadmill, or on my time trial runs up to the "Rock" or "Towers". I clocked a 6:03 on the last interval of a 4x1600 meter track workout just last week. I figured that I should be able to run close to that pace for 4 miles on rested, race-ready legs. So even though I was coming into this with very little training on the roads, I didn't feel totally unprepared. Still unconvinced, I ran 4 road miles only somewhat uncomfortably at 6:40 pace Monday (the day after a 3 plus hour trail run). Then another 10-mile "tempo run" on the roads Tuesday, where I was running under 7's on each of the last 4 miles, and I decided to submit the registration. A sub-25 would be satisfying and a sub-24 might get me some pie to bring home for my "old farts" age group, but I knew better than to even entertain the idea of a PR.
I don't really know what it means to "taper" for a 4-mile race, but I was feeling fresher than I usually do on a typical Thursday. An easy 90 minute trail run Wednesday and nothing too crazy in the weight room this week. My prerace jog had my legs feeling pretty good, but my abs were quite sore from a workout on Tuesday. Figured I was good to go. I found some of the guys at the starting line (I was the only one wearing trail shoes) and we were off.
Mile 1 was painful, erratic, and not much fun. Between battling for space and trying to find some kind of rhythm, I expected to see 7 plus minutes at the split. A 6:15, however, had me just about where I wanted to be. I thought I was holding pace in Mile 2, but a 6:40 split told me otherwise. Okay, let's turn it loose down Mountain Avenue to make up for that last mile. The legs refused. A 6:39 and a 6:46 and I crossed the finish line in a depressing 26:20. No pie today, as I finished 9th in my age group and 105th overall out of a huge field of 1772.
I can't really figure it out. I think I just need to do more of these races to get faster again, but I don't plan on that. Oh well, at least the girls thought I looked fast coming into the finish line. That's really all that matters on this day. This race makes for a great start to a Fort Collins Thanksgiving with friends, family, and too many extremely fast runners that I will just have to continue to chase.