Monday, December 13, 2010

Reindeer Romp 5k -- Last Race of the Year: 12/11

Trying to warm up before the race

The Reindeer Romp was my last race of 2010.  And it was my best race in a lot of ways.  I did not get a PR, but I ran strong and without any injuries or tightness.  I spoke with several people, who had run the course before as we were lining up, and they all said that it was a slow course.  So, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be getting any PR's, but I still enjoyed the run.  Not to make excuses or anything.  I know that I am not at my peak point of conditioning either, but I'm still running within striking distance of my PR.  Since this is my last race of the year, I plan to add more conditioning work into my program because I'm a little worried about repetition injuries from a running only regiment.  My PF has vastly improved over the last few months, so strength and conditioning work is a must. 
Chic fil a cow and a reindeer chatting before the race

About the race, I would give the overall in regards to organization a C+.  There were a lot of little things about this race, which add up to making the event kind of so-so.  The pre-race packet pickup was just one day and only staffed by two people.  Names were not printed on to the race bib and had to be looked up on a printout and then pulled from stacks of numbers.  The location was at Cary Soccer Park, which only has one entrance and exit and made getting to the race a little difficult.  They didn't seem to have enough people on staff considering the size of the crowd attending the event.  The start and finish were not in the same area, and it was difficult for people to find the starting line because registration and packet pick up were all at the finish.  The course did not have mile markers, but they did have people directing runners where to go, which was crucial because the race was trail run, and there were many intersecting trails.  Also the course, was one big loop with a panhandle, then a smaller loop, and a direction change, so it would have been really easy to get off course.  Also, there were no timing devices used at the starting line, so the timing chip was only giving a reading on you finish time.   Granted, there was a really large starting area so it was easy for people who cared about their times to find a place right at the line without fear of getting run down.  Personally, the mile markers and timing things weren't that big of an issue for me because I had Old Bob with me, but I did hear some people grumbling about it, and had I not had a Garmin, I'd have been . . . un-thrilled!
At the starting line

Since the starting line was so long, I did line up right on the line, which I doubt I'll ever do again.  I didn't have any problems with it, but I felt strange -- like I punching out of weight at all (both literally and figuratively).  It was fun to have such a large area for the start, and it eliminated almost all of the bunching problems that have been in nearly every race that I have attended.  The first mile was by far my best, but it wasn't because I was running too fast, it was just that a lot of the first mile was a downhill, so I was able to get a good start.  I did the first mile in just over 8 mins.  But the second mile was pretty much a series of up hills, so my pace came back to earth real quick.  I did enjoy running on the trails much better than any of the road races that I have raced on.  Even with the ground being hard from the cold there was a lot more give, and I felt much less pounding in my knees. Also, there were very few straight stretches, so I didn't get board or intimidated by what was in front of me.  In fact, I had no clue what was ahead of me because I had never set foot on any part of this trail in my life.  This was the first race where I had not at the least driven the course the night before. 

One . . . two . . . three . . . go!
I held up well over the first part of the uphill in mile two and did well through the panhandle that marked the halfway point.  Even though my pace had slowed, I was still going strong when I passed Hiroko, who was waiting at the at the original starting line to take some pictures.  After waving to Hiro I was able to pick up some more speed and get into a grove as we went on the downhill portion again.   At the end of mile two, I was around the 17 minute mark, but could feel that I was starting to struggle.  I had been running the tangents to try to shave off any distance that I could, and since this was a trail run, it was easier to see the benefit because of all the twists and turns in trail.  The course bottomed out at the end of the second mile, we were back to the hills for the last mile. 

Thumbs up for Hiro at 1.8 miles
Over the last mile, I just tried to focus on the trail in front of me.  Also I had passed a girl wearing really festive socks at the 2 mile mark.  I had seen at the Old Reliable Run and knew was a stronger runner than me, and it would only be a matter of time before she passed me back, but I wanted to make try to make it take awhile.  I was trying to find a way to push myself because I knew that the hills were  eating up time and that my slim chance at a PR was slipping away.  She passed me at 2.5 miles after a button hook on an uphill, and my new goal became to keep her socks in sight.  from 2.4 miles to 2.8 the course was almost entirely an incline that just killed my shot at a PR, over that part of the course I was doing around a 9.5 min. mile, which was alright, but needed to be just a bit faster.  I was able to keep up with the girl with cool socks and may have past her in my dash for the finish, but I am not sure.

Girl with cool socks is on the far left in red, one sock can be seen if the the picture is enlarged
 I was going to start my dash for the finish at the 3 mile mark, but I had I could tell that according to Old Bob either the course was off or I had shaved off some distance by running the tangents because the finish line was real close at 2.9, so I made my dash.  I saw Hiro just as I was approaching the finish and tossed her my hat and gloves then made a mad dash for the finish.  I felt kind of silly running all out when most of the runners near me we kids, but I just have to think that it's not about anyone other than me.  And, I want to finish every race as strong as I can. 

Discard what you do not need
Old Bob said that the course was 3.02, so either it was short or running the tangents really helped.  I am willing to trust that the course was right.  My time was 26:16
Looking and feeling tired

Overall, I enjoyed this race, but I am not sure if I'll do it again next year.  I think there will be other events that I can do that will be better more to my taste.  I want to thank Hiroko for coming out and supporting me at this race.  She really hate being cold and this was a pretty chilly day.

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