“Too fast, George,”

27 Jan 2007

Reproved Rusty as I crossed the finish line. Not a comment I’ve ever gotten from a coach at the end of a race before. Of course that was the issue — I wasn’t supposed to race this one.

Rusty wanted me to run it as a tempo run, 5k at a 6:05 mile pace (Actually 6:05 sounds a little fast for a tempo run to me — though I’d like it to become my tempo pace). And I tried not to go too fast. I really did. But it is so hard to do that when others are racing around me. I’m always afraid I’m going too slowly — and a 6:05 pace isn’t slow (for me) so I can’t go slowly either. I didn’t try to catch the guy who passed me at the turnaround. I didn’t try to sprint at the finish. I didn’t try to keep up with Melissa…

I set out running with Melissa, but at the first quarter I saw we were going much faster (83 vs 91 seconds) than I wanted and I dropped back. Aside from that snafu the first mile was almost right (6:01). But the return wasn’t marked in miles and after the 2.5K turn-around point I lost track of my pace.

The course was well marked outbound with quarter mile and kilometer marks. But on a 5k out and back course (with a turn-around at 2.5k), the quarters on the inbound course don’t match those outbound. I had gone out two days before and measured all the quarter mile marks of the inbound half — and chalked them in. I worried a little bit that it might rain. But it hadn’t rained in weeks, and when it had rained it was just a sprinkle. Rain seemed unlikely.

It did rain, of course.

It started about 4:30, the first real rain of the season. When I got to the course a little before 7 (because I wanted to do an 8~9 mile warmup), my marks were still visible, but faded. When the race began at 8:30 they were gone.

I rely on the quarter miles to give me feed-back on how fast I run. I should be able to just feel it, but I can’t. Now I only had the kilometer marks. I hadn’t bothered to figure out my kilometer pace. Hard to do when running 10 miles an hour in the rain. Let’s see a 6 minute mile is about 3:43… I worked that out for the 10k (or was it 3:44?) and um 5 seconds times 5/8 is um 4, no 3 and we add that to get 3:46 (or 3:47?). So I punched my watch at the 2K mark (which is really 3K now because we turned around at 2.5K). At the 1K (=4K) it says 3:37. Oops. I slow… But there aren’t any more useful marks and I, like the horse close to the stable, must have sped up again. 3:38 for the final kilometer.

Why didn’t I give up on the idea of “distance from the start”? and just use the outbound quarter mile marks on the inbound journey? Ok, I’d miss a bit right around the turn-around, but so what? Because I didn’t think of it. It’s hard for me to think when running fast.

No, that’s not true. It’s hard to cogitate. I am in deep concentration on an unconscious level. The running demands a huge amount of attention on a level of which I’m not entirely aware, if I don’t concentrate I slow. I think it’s called “Being in the moment.”

Maggie was smug afterward. She had run another perfect “No Race”.

I hadn’t raced it. Really. I ran it at my 10k pace. But it was 7 seconds per mile faster than it should have been. Seven seconds doesn’t sound like much, but when running close to the limit it makes a huge difference in the amount of energy expended. And I had another 7 miles to run right then and another 7 weeks of marathon training. I should not be wasting my energy like that.

Oh well, I did.
Sorry Rusty.


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