2016 Short Run on a Long Day Race Report

When:  6/15/2016, 7:00pm

Where:  Frankfort, Illinois

Distance:  5K

Results:  20:52 Official, 20:45 Garmin watch – 17th overall, 16th Male overall, 3rd place M50-54

I enjoy racing at the Frankfort Park District Short Run on a Long Day 5K for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s held on a midweek evening which means most of the day has passed and all you need to do is worry about running and not the million other things you have to do that day.  I also enjoy the fact that it brings out some good competition and allows me to race against a higher percentage of my faster peers.  At another local race that was run in my town in late April I would have finished second overall, so this race tells me more about myself than placing high in a race that had no competition.

The race day this year was hot – 89 degrees – when I checked the car thermometer.  I decided to not let that bother me, and I decided that I would push myself anyway.  During warm-up I was jogging shirtless past a couple of moms who were pushing their kids in strollers.  One of the kids said “Daddy!” which prompted me to chuckle and say “Daddy must be hairy too.”  That seemed to get me in a good mood.

The start was typical, too many slowpokes in the front that I would have to navigate around.  One guy asked another what time he was shooting for and the guy said around 21 minutes.  That guy I thought had a chance at that.  But when he asked the other guy, said he wasn’t sure, “maybe 22 or 23” minutes.  I immediately thought of the movie Mr. Mom when he responded 220 / 221 – whatever it takes.  This guy looked like he would be over 25 minutes to me.

As usual my son Ben also ran the race.  He did his typical college runner thing in warm-ups, and then found an old high school buddy to run the race with.  He made his way to the front of the line at the last minute.  Must be cool to have the speed to back that up!  He finished second overall for the 3rd year in a row I think.  He keeps losing to the same guy.  Not really fair for Ben, as he is coming off a mandatory 2 week recovery period from track season.  And he had a head cold.  I’m guessing he’ll beat this guy someday.

The guy that starts the race likes to stand right in the middle of the road and warn people not to run him over when the race starts.  I find that to be the dumbest thing, but typical of a race that is run by the park district versus a race that is run by a runner or running club.  He hit the siren on the bullhorn, snapped a picture and we all took off.  I was hitting Z4 heart rate within the first 1/4 mile.  The group spread out pretty quickly and I focused on getting my breathing rhythm under control.  The first mile hit and I missed the water stop.  I was getting quite a dry mouth, but I didn’t worry about it.  For some reason the water stop was positioned on the left hand side of the trail we were running on, and in my opinion it should have been on the right.  When running on a trail, all users should stay right, and there were definitely other bikes and trail users on the trail that would force us over.  Matter of fact, one kid that passed me around the 1/2 mile mark shouted “BIKER UP!” which startled me somewhat, but had he not yelled that I may have not seen the guy.

When we hit the one mile marker another guy got on my shoulder and asked how I was doing.  Apparently he was feeling me out.  I said I was doing good.  He mentioned that he thought the split on the clock was too fast, and I agreed.  My watch split said about 6:15 for the first mile.  He tried to talk some more but I zipped it and focused on catching the next guy.  I dropped him and never saw him again.

When we made the turn off the trail and onto the side streets I started to catch a lot of guys that had gone out too fast.  From that point, about 1.5 miles into the race, I kind of fell into no man’s land again.  This happens to me a lot, I end up being the slowest of the faster runners or the faster of the mid-packers.  I don’t remember passing or being passed from that point on.

Around the two mile marker I saw a lady by a table that had cups of water on it.  Apparently she was the sole worker for that water stop, but it was on the far side of the road on a turn, which meant that I would not be able to take the tangent if I wanted to get some water.  Since I was really hot, I decided to make a try at it and she met me halfway.  I took the cup and splashed it on me.  What happened next was a surprise – I almost felt hotter!  Not sure if the temp of the water was an issue, or that I was just too hot for it to do anything.  I can remember my tri buddy Alex mentioning this once, and I took note.

I could feel myself starting to fade, but between mile 2 and 3 there are a lot of turns, which meant I could look back and see how close runners were behind me.  There was no one around that I was worried about.  I came upon a guy who said good job and was spraying a hose for us to stay cool.  But again, he was on the side of the street that would require me to move over from the straightest line to get relief.  It was too late to take him up on the water anyway, as I was determined to kick to the end.

Once I got to the last tenth of a mile I knew I had no challengers, but I pushed myself anyway.  My son was there yelling at me to go all in, a payback in a way for all the times I yelled at him in junior high and high school to push harder.  Now that he is a D-III runner, I usually just yell “Good Job!” or “GO Ben!”

My watch said 20:45 at the end, which was a little disappointing seeing that it wasn’t as fast as I thought I could run, nor as fast as I thought I was running.  But seeing that it was so hot, I guess it is a pretty respectable time, all things considered.

Race results:  http://www.frankfortparks.org/special-events/Short%20Run/2016%20short%20run%20overall.pdf

 

2016 ET Batavia Triathlon Race Report

Lessons learned, lessons to relearn…

The Experience Triathlon club puts on a good event, and I enjoy racing at the Batavia Triathlon.  So I signed up back in March, and set my alarm for 3:40am in order to drive the 45 minutes to Batavia for the 6:30am start on June 12, 2016.

After a very hot Saturday, Sunday race day was blessed with a nice and cool upper 60’s degree morning.  Matter of fact, the water temperature of the quarry where the swim takes place was 74.5 degrees and warmer than the air temperature.  During the period for swim warm-up, I went to the water and waded in up to my knees.  Still felt cold for me, but as I stood there I could tell it wasn’t too bad.  I was on the fence about swimming without my wetsuit, but I saw many others putting their’s on, so I somewhat reluctantly pulled mine out of the bag and tried to wrestle it on.

I got in line around the quarry to prepare for the staggered time trial start and realized that I needed to set my new triathlon watch to the multi-sport setting.  Only I didn’t know how.  I knew I had seen it before, and how could one of the most triathlon dominate sports watches not have that function.  I must of pushed fifty different combination of buttons until I realized that I had to go Settings.  No kidding.  Unlearned Lesson #1:  Make sure to have a good understanding of your new device before using it in a race.

I was also thinking how to approach the swim.  Last time I did the race the swim did not go well.  I figured since I was a newly minted Ironman, I would just go all out for the 400 yards or so, and rock it.  I was hyperventilating by the first turn.  This time I forced myself to not run into the water and to really hold back.  It worked!  I swam really efficiently and got through the two lap swim actually swimming.  I say actually swimming because on the backside of the swim the water is very shallow and most will stand and walk that portion.  That’s what I HAD to do last time.  Not this time.  Lesson learned.

After exiting the swim area, I found a grassy area where I decided that I would shed my tri suit.  It came off very easily this time.  I really didn’t lose much time wrangling with the dumb thing.  Off to the bike and grab my bike gear.  Pretty smooth through that too.  When I got to the bike mount line is when the wheels came off – almost literally.  When I was driving in I could see that it was pretty breezy out, so I decided to remove the full disc wheel that I had put on the night before and replace it with my FLO 60 aero wheel.  Apparently I neglected to get the gears right and the bike was not liking me trying to peddle it that way.  People were looking at me.  It finally clicked into the correct gear and off I sped.  Unlearned Lesson #2:  Avoid a total newbie move and make sure that your bike is ready to ride right out of T1.

The wind was from the east and man did it make for a fast ride.  I was hitting 25mph easily and passing tons of riders.  I think I maxed out at one point at 32mph.  About a half mile out of T1 I realized that I didn’t know if I needed to push the Lap button on my watch, so I pushed it.  And then pushed it again.  After reviewing my watch activity it appears most of my ride was considered a transition.  Oops.  It was also then that I glanced down at my bike computer and realized it wasn’t on.  I got it on and it searched and found the satellites quickly, but I had forgotten to reset it from Saturday.  So I was essentially starting out with 85 miles on the odometer.  I reset it and reminded myself to get my head in the game.  Unlearned Lesson #3:  See Unlearned Lesson #2.

Here’s a link to my Garmin Connect race activity:  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1209927507

Only one faster rider passed me on the ride, a tall strong looking guy.  I was doing 25 or so and he was faster.  I figured I would get him on the run.  But that was it.  Nobody else passed me on the ride.  I had a GU early on the ride and another at the back end to help fuel the run.  Heading back in was tough as it was a double whammy of some uphills and the wind in my face.  But back into town provided some wind buffer and soon I was whipping around the turns and pulling into T2.

The bike to run transition was smooth as silk.  I repeated to myself out loud that I needed my shoes, my visor, my bib belt and off I ran to Run Out.  Just before getting there I forgot one thing – I had arm warmers on for the ride that I forgot to take off, so I decided at the last minute to toss them in transition just before the exit and figured I would pick them up after the race.

I forgot to hit the lap button again, and truthfully I was pushing it not knowing if I was supposed to, but I remembered about a tenth of a mile into the run.  I really just wanted to know my pace, which at that time was a 6:33 mile.  Now I didn’t want to know!  Not sure how I planned to hold that pace, but I kept it up for about 3.5 miles of the run.  The run was different this year as we went south on the trail instead of heading north.  This made for some crazy crowded trail.  Not only was there runners running in both directions, but there was some sort of bike event going on locally, so that added some crazy to the whole thing.  But as I kept charging ahead I realized I was passing a ton of triathletes.  I did not get passed by anyone during the run.  I just kept picking off one runner and the next.  I paid attention to the age group markings on the calves of the runners and found I was passing a lot of my age group peers, which made me feel great.

At the 3.5 mile mark there was some switchback type turns and a little hill and bridge that kind of took the wind out of me and slowed me down.  But I knew that I basically had a half mile to go and the race was ahead of me and not behind me.  I finished strong into the finishing chute for an unofficial watch time of 1:18:21.  This is a 6 minute PR over my 2014 time!  I was shocked.  Learned Lesson #2:  Know the course well and trusting your running ability.  Always bet on the runner!

The hard part was post race, being slightly wet on a cool morning – I was uncomfortable.  There was quite a wait for the final finishers to wrap up their races, so I ate some banana, pizza, a cookie and downed another water bottle.  I approached the tent where the timing guys were hanging out and was told they would be posted soon.  About an hour later (!), they posted them.  I waited in line to get a look and found my name on the first page, and learned that I had finished 3rd in the M50-54 age group!  This race was a USAT Nationals Age Group Qualifier, so by finishing 3rd I should be qualified!  I may not be able to go to it, but it is always nice to know that I had qualified.  Now I had to wait until the end to get my award.

IMG_5613
As I type this, I realized she gave me the wrong award.  Oh well, I did actually get 3rd in the M50-54 according to the results.  And the guy did call my name.  The girl passing out the awards was in the F50-54 and had just won an award herself.  I think she was distracted.

I knew that transition was going to close at 11:30am, so I jogged the mile back to transition.  All of my stuff was there thankfully, even though the place was mostly cleared out.  I grabbed my bag and went into the lockers and took a shower because I was starting to get rank.  I packed up my stuff and walked back to the car.  I was 5 miles or so away when I realized that my favorite pair of arm warmers were still laying in transition by the Run Out.  Unlearned Lesson #3:  Don’t ever say to yourself that “I’ll remember” to go back and do something!  Now I am out my favorite pair of arm warmers.

So, to sum up the race itself I would say that packet pick-up was a waste of an afternoon driving to Geneva on Friday to get a bib and two stickers, a shirt and a swim cap.  Next time use the morning pick-up, I was there in plenty of time to get it.  Also, the new run course finishing at the Batavia VFW was way too crowded and busy for the racers, and the finish was way too far from transition.  Hopefully they will get some negative feedback on that and move it back to finishing downtown.  And if I do finish and get an A/G award, head back to transition, take a shower, pack up all of your junk and then go back to the awards.  There will be plenty of time.

Good race, nice day.  I’ll be back.  That’s a lesson that I have learned.

http://results.bataviatriathlon.org.s3.amazonaws.com/2016/triathlon.html

 

2016 Frankfort Half Marathon Race Report

4/30/2016

I’m not even the fastest Old Guy!

I ran the Frankfort, Illinois Half Marathon today and found myself really questioning my sanity. First of all, I am in the middle of training for Ironman Lake Placid, and I usually avoid racing any distance road race to avoid doing something stupid and end up injured. But my training plan tapered this week with the instruction to do an Olympic distance triathlon on Sunday. Seeing that it is April in Illinois, good luck finding one. So I substituted the half marathon on a Saturday to end the week.

Second, this race seems doomed weather-wise. It was 40 degrees and pouring last year (I didn’t run it last year), and this year was predicted to be more of the same. I have never not started a race that I signed up for (and paid good money), and I really didn’t like thinking that I was going to blow it off. Fortunately, the rain held off at the start and I took my spot in Corral A. I found it slightly humorous that I was seeded in the first corral of this little local race.

So the gun went off and I found myself running along the guy holding the 1:30 pace group sign, a sign basically made from a dowel rod, two paper plates, and plenty of clear tape. We chatted for a while, but I knew that I would probably be better off not trying to stay with him. We passed the first mile and he said our split was 6:51! Okay, definitely need to back off the gas a little. I mentioned to him that I was surprised the big guy in green was ahead of us, holding that sub-7 minute per mile pace, but that guy started to slowly pull away. Pacer Guy said he had to pick it up in order to stay on pace. I found this particularly funny, because he basically had no one with him to pace! Maybe he grew tired of me, I don’t know. I do know the 2 hour pacer guy came in a little late and the guy with the microphone was razzing him a little. Maybe 1:30 pacer guy didn’t want to suffer the same indignity! Pacer Guy didn’t have a bib, and wasn’t racing because I asked him. So I let both the Pacer Guy and Green Shirt Guy go and I fell into a more comfortable pace, because I knew what was coming.

After a few minutes I found myself running alone. The Pacer Guy and Green Shirt Guy were at least 100 yards ahead, and there was no one immediately behind me either. I find myself in this situation all the time and it puzzles me. I guess it is a matter of perspective, but I can either say I am the slowest of the faster group or the fastest of the slow group. Maybe mid-packer is what I truly am. But it is tough to be in the mid-pack WHEN YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE! Trivial, I guess. The loneliness of a long distance runner.

I also realized at this point of the race, I was slightly overdressed. I took off the ear wrap and gloves and could feel myself cooling down. I thought about tossing the long sleeve shirt but kept it, because I remembered during my warm up that the wind would be blowing in my face on this out and back run. Glad I kept it on.

Standing in the elite (!) Corral A, I took notice of the competition. There was the typical thin twenty year olds who look like they just finished their college running careers, the backward hat guy, a couple of girls who I could tell had “game”, the guy with some race team singlet, and another guy who clearly didn’t belong in Corral A because his number was 438 or something, and we were all wearing very low numbers. Plus, he kept asking questions about the course. We racers in Corral A never come to Corral A without knowing the course and how to attack it! SMH, dude.

But the most interesting aspect of my fellow competitors in Corral A was that many seemed to be in my age group by the look of their greying hair and fuddy-duddy race outfits. I had looked at last year’s results and figured if I had a good day, I might win an age-group award, but looking at these guys I wasn’t so sure. They had the look of confidence, and well the look of fast, old guys.

Back to the action – At about four miles into the race, we turned off the mostly flat bike trail and headed into the nature preserve. Since I live in this area, I consider this area my home turf. I know every little hill, bump, crack, twist and turn as I have run this trail nearly every run since it opened in 2001 or so. I knew what was coming, about six miles of very difficult hilly terrain. So I paced myself up the hills and flew down the other side, over and over again. At about Mile 5, a group of volunteers were passing out water so I took a cup to wash down the gel I just ate. As I was doing that, the volunteer said “You’re looking good!” I replied, “Lady, I’m not even the fastest old guy!”

And that was true. I hadn’t caught any of the old dudes that had started with me in the race. I had a good idea of where I stood, about 14th overall, when I had the opportunity to count the lead out pack earlier in the race. At the halfway point, I had only been passed by two runners – the two girls with game – and that was it. I also saw Race Team Singlet Guy walking on the side of the trail after getting through Round 1 of the hills. As I hit the turn-around and started back into the fury of hills, I could see that he dropped out. Yes! I made up a position! But I could also see how far the Fast Old Guys were ahead of me. Way ahead of me.

Back into the hills and that’s when the rest of the racers got a view of the awesomeness of the Corral A starters! Out and backs are interesting, as you get to see the lead runners and how far ahead of you they are. I got a little depressed when I saw the leaders already heading back while I still had a half mile to the turn-around. I wonder if the back of the pack runners get that too. They and I shouldn’t, we’re awesome too!

The trail got pretty crowded and I was no longer able to take the straightest line and run the tangents. But I got plenty of “great job’s!” and I returned the complement. I have been running since the late 1980’s, and truthfully I think this is the biggest running boom that I have seen in a long time. Glad to see so many others taking up the sport, especially the longer distance stuff. The lone runner that I actually know personally, Holly, saw me and we exchanged hello’s!

At Mile 9 I caught Green Shirt Guy, and as we continued leaving the hills behind us, he didn’t seem to want to keep up. But I didn’t get to enjoy passing him for too long, because within a mile I got passed by White Shirt Guy. I had dismissed White Shirt Guy earlier because he didn’t look the part of my other Corral A competitors. We were wearing real running shorts and looking every bit the part of running legends, and this guy had a pair of baggy shorts pulled over some tights. And he was wearing earphones! I got to say, I see people wearing head and earphones in races all the time. I never take them seriously because I think its a crutch for them, like they can’t do such a boring activity without music! And if they can’t run without music, my thinking is that they probably aren’t doing intervals and hill repeats either. But maybe I misjudged White Shirt Guy and his earphones.

White Shirt Guy passed me quickly as I was trying to down my second and last gel, but he was panting pretty hard and I felt like I was floating along. My immediate thought was that he is kicking way too early. I grabbed a water from another volunteer and said something that I would quickly regret: “That guy sounds like he’s suffering.” He wasn’t.

We turned on to the path and briefly headed west until a quick turn around and then it’s a 5K or so straight back to the finish. It was then when I saw the pack starting to form behind me, and the lead that White Shirt Guy was building. I figured I better keep pace with White Shirt Guy, and focus on the race ahead instead of what was behind.

The wind was now blowing straight into our faces. It wasn’t that strong, but it was cold and it made me duck my head a little. It had also started to sprinkle just a little. As I crossed Wolf Road one of the ESDA volunteers shouted my name. It was a kid that I had coached and had on my baseball team when he was about 11 or 12. I tell you that really gave me a pick-up! I actually had a little adrenaline flow through me from that. Glad I made an impression on the kid. And I am thankful that he was impressed.

I kept the pace until Mile 11 and started to draw White Shirt Guy in slowly. I could see the big bridge that goes over Route 45 ahead at about 12.5 miles and knew I would pace up it and try to fly down it. I made up some space on him and it was then that I knew I probably had him. As we came upon the 13 Mile marker, he took a quick look over his left shoulder, but I don’t think he saw me as I was running far right. I made my move and passed him quickly. I don’t think he even heard me, because he didn’t make any sort of effort to match my effort. Another reason not to wear earphones in a race! I heard him struggling and finally give an exasperated sigh, and I kicked to the finish line with what I had left. He kicked too damn early. And he wore earphones. I don’t get beat by runners wearing earphones.

I walked to the car and grabbed my sweatshirt and sweatpants to keep warm and then I walked back to the finish and watched quite a few runners finish. The race directors Jim and Bev own the little running store near the finish line. My son worked for them last summer. I spoke with Jim and he reiterated how great of a kid he was. Even though he has told me that once before, I still beam with pride. (Note to my son – use Jim as a reference on your resume!)

Bev walked up and had the current list of finishers and she let me have a look. There it was: 12th place overall. 4th in the 50-54 age group. I finished in the top twelve and didn’t even medal.

I’m not even the fastest Old Guy.