Wednesday, June 15, 2011

(R)anniversary -- 2011 Tirangle Race for the Cure Race Report: 6/11

Last year, I ran in the Race for the Cure as my first 5k.  I entered the race with a lot of reluctance, but Hiroko wanted to participate, which prompted me to enter as well.  I had no idea that running in that race would ignite my passion for running, but it undeniably has done just that.  Over the last year I've entered race after race and sought to engage in the running community, both here in Raleigh and in the Blogosphere, as much as possible.  I spend countless hours thinking about running, I annoy my friends with talk of PR's and training schedules, Runner's World get's more of my attention than all my other magazines combined, and my moods are now directly linked to my running schedule.  Sometimes we aren't able to pinpoint a moment when our lives changed, but in this case, I 'll always be able to tell people when the runner in me was born.  Therefore, the Race for the Cure, which is already a very special event for my because my Grandmother was a breast cancer survivor, holds just that much more significance for me.  It is my (R)anniversary!
After last years race I thought that I was going to die!
As oppose to last year's race, the Race for the Cure didn't bring me any feelings of dread, none at all.  I felt excited and wanted to run my first repeat race ever.  For the first time I could gauge my performance by how I ran last year as well as how I ran my last race.  I knew that the course was hilly and that the idea of a PR wasn't realistic.  My idea going into the race was to try to do better than the time for my last race, which had been a fairly flat course.  Goals were to finish close to 26 minutes and just enjoy the race as much as I could.

Saturday morning was about as perfect a day for running as you could ask for around these parts in June.  We had thunderstorms Friday night, which just cooled everything off on Saturday morning.  After Thursday's run , my legs were cranky and sore for most of Friday, but on Saturday they felt just as great as the mornings weather.  The start for the Komen Race is so close that Hiroko and I were able to from our place.  We arrived with about 20 mins. before the start of the race and quickly lined up.  This race is extremely popular with over 3,000 runners in the competitive race, so I didn't mind lining up in the front and getting passed rather than wade through a ton of people, who went out too fast and started walking after the first mile.  Also, the first mile of the race is on a very wide street, which can accommodate a large group of runners. 
Hiro and I after last year's race

Mile 1:  The first mile was mostly on a decline and felt great.  I wasn't having to weave around people like I had feared.  The one time I thought that I might get boxed in, the people in front of me just open  up right when I needed and gave me a clear path.  My legs felt really good and I wasn't having any breathing issues.  In many ways this was my best start to a race.  I did lose Hiroko almost from the start, but I knew that she would be back.  After finishing only 10 seconds behind me in our last race I knew that Hiroko would be gunning for me.  I finished the first mile in 8:07.11

Mile 2:  The second mile was a Beast!  No other way to put it.  It was a series of low rolling hills one after another.  I hit the first hill with no problem at all, but knew that there were more to come.  On the second hill, I saw one the instructors from my Y and picked up my pace a bit to run along with her for a bit.  The third hill was the largest one, but I could tell that the hills of Umstead had more than prepared me for this section of the course.  The last hill wasn't real a hill as much as it was a just a slow incline that sucked because of the previous three hills.  One runner fell just in front of me but didn't see what caused it, I think that she may have either been bumped into, this portion of the course was pretty narrow, or fell off of the curb.  Either way, I was shocked to see her on the ground but wasn't close enough to help, and she was back on her feet by the time I got close to her.  This was the first spill that I have seen in a race, and it reminded me that anything can happen in these events.  I didn't see Hiroko at all during this mile, but I was sure that she would come gunning for me soon enough.  I did the second mile in 8:25.74 and came throgh this portion of the course in better shape than I had the year before.

Mile 3: This mile starts with another incline that gradually levels out, but the incline lasts for about six blocks.  The third mile begins right as we turn onto Dixie Trail and head towards Forest Hills Baptist Chruch, where the last water station is set up and the choir from the church sing to the runners as the run.  As I made my way up Dixie Trail, Hiroko pop up right beside me.  Last Year I had to stop running at this point and walk, but this year, I was still running.  The the instructor from the Y was still near by but now my focus was on Hiroko.  I knew that she had been underestimating her ability to handle the hills, and was probably feeling really good about herself now that the majority of the hills were behind us.  Hiroko is eight years younger than I am and in much better shape in general, and she is a more natural athlete than I am.  I have no doubt that if she worked at running and trained in a half way descent fashion, she would smoke me in every race.  But as it stands now, I train more and have a better idea of what to expect from my body.  Right as we approached the Church and the turn onto Clark Ave. Hiroko made her move and passed me.

I didn't give chase at this point but just kept my pace as I passed the choir and water station.  I can't remember the song that the Choir was singing, but just seeing them gave everyone a lift.  Hiroko picked up speed  and started to pull away from me, but I know Clark Ave. well and had a plan.  The first two block of Clark are a slight down hill and the next two are a hill and the last one is another small quick decline before you cross Faircloth Street (step over the lane divider) and merge back on Hillsborough St. and run the last tenth of a mile on a small incline.  I figured that I would let her run the first to blocks of the decline and then catch her on the hill.  She put a thirty or forty feet between us as we went down Clark and I expected her to to slow down as she hit the last hill, but to my surprise she just took it on.  I was able to close some of the gap between us but she was still a good ten feet ahead of me as we passed the three mile mark and crossed Faircloth. She was starting to pull away again and it was decision time.  I did the third mile in 8:50.88
We felt much better after this year's race!

I know that I have a better kick than Hiroko, but I wasn't sure if I could sprint all the way to the finish line given the incline.  If Hiroko gave chase and I faded, she would surely re-pass me, win, and hold it over my head.  Normally, I am not a competitive person, but running is my thing and I don't want to lose to my wife, who hardly trains and then bee-bops into a race and at the same level I run at after having trained for weeks!  Urgh!  By now Hiro had a good 25 to 30 feet on me, so I committed myself and kicked it.  I caught up to Hirko shortly after we merged on to Hillsborough Street.  As I passed her she let out a loud "damn!"  But I tried not to look back and focused only on the finish.  I thought that I could keep up my sprint to the end, but I didn't know if she was trying to give chase.  As I closed in on the finish I fought of the urge to look back or let up and finished strong.  I came in at 26:10 with Hiroko on my heels at 26:14!  She said that she knew I was coming at some point but didn't think I would start my sprint so far out.  Next time, I am sure she will be ready for me. so I am just going to have to bury her from the start.

Hiroko & I at the finish
I enjoyed my (R)anniversary and can't wait to start year two of my running life!

1 comment:

  1. Happy (R)anniversary, Greg! Congrats on you and Hiro's race as well. Really well written report, I felt like I was right there with you duking it out at the finish there. You are driven!
    It's so exciting to see your progression and what passion you have. I think your training at Umstead has been stellar for your hill training.
    Bless your aching feet in last year's photo, not any more though!