Saturday, June 18, 2011

NC USATF 8k Championships Recap

8k Race in 28:40 or faster than last year

2.7 miles warmup in 22:00
8k Race in 28:09 with splits of 5:49, 5:23, 5:51, 5:49, 5:14 (50 seconds faster than last year)
3.8 miles cool down in 33:00 for 11.5 miles total

Comparison of 2011 to 2010
2011  2010  Diff
5:49   5:48   +1
5:23   5:37   -14
5:51   5:59   -8
5:49   6:01   -12
5:14   5:34   -20

As you can see in the breakdown above, I ran exactly 50 seconds faster this year, or 10 seconds per mile faster, than last year.  This quite possibly indicates that my fitness is at a higher level than it was at this time last year.  What it also indicates is that I thrive off of competition.  This year, five women ran faster than my 2010 winning time, with all of them running 28:45 or faster.  Talk about a great race.

After a delicious meal provided by John's gracious aunt, I headed off to bed to get in enough sleep before the 5am wake up call.  I had received several texts from Jay urging me to watch Mike Kahn's video made in tribute to Jay, so I stayed up a little later to watch the video and talk with Jay before his last night in Charlotte.  After a fitful night of sleep, John and I packed everything back into his car and made our way to Durham from Raleigh.  We arrived with plenty of time and scored a great parking spot close to the start line.  Soon Meagan and Jordan arrived with our numbers and it was time to warm up. I  lead our pack of Charlotte runners through the first two miles of the course and convinced John to run a couple more minutes with me.

During the warmup, Meagan updated me about the competition.  Word was that a 16:34 5k girl - Jackie Kirby - was going to be in the mix.  I decided not to worry about her too much because the track is a lot different than the roads...especially on hilly roads.  Also making an appearance were Heather Magill and Lucinda Hull.  On any given day, any one of us could win one of these NC USATF Championships races, but I didn't want today be that day.  

During my strides and drills, I generated my own version of a race plan, go out relaxed with the pack and let someone else take the lead.  After that, I wanted to maintain the same effort on the hills as on the flat portions and to make my move before the 4 mile mark since Jackie or Meagan could have a better kick than me.  

Five minutes before the start, John, Meagan and I formed a pack in the middle of the start line and wished each other luck.  John was going for sub-25 and at least second place and Meagan and I were going for sub-28:30 and at least some dollar bills. 

The race director said "on your mark, get set..."  (Cowbell rings)  

Was that really the start?  

People stepped forward over the line tentatively, as if their bodies were asking for permission to cross.  I decided to just go and hope that I wouldn't be disqualified and other people did the same.  Meagan apparently was a bit more skeptical of a cowbell for a start cue and took her time to get off the line.  I couldn't feel her behind me for at least the first 100 meters as her start was a bit more delayed. I kept glancing around and even worried that she might have been tripped and trampled over or something even more drastic.

After the start line debacle, Jackie zipped to the lead and another girl in an orange uniform joined her.  I said out loud to my pack of women - Meagan, Heather, and Lucinda -  that they will come back.  Sure enough, Orange girl came back after the mile mark, but Jackie maintained her 5 second lead.  We came through the mile in a somewhat slow pace and I panicked for a bit because it felt a lot faster (and more difficult) than 5:49.    

The second mile is downhill, and suddenly the Orange Girl came barreling past us again and joined Jackie again.  She was a really strong down hill runner that's for sure! I wished her the best, but decided I didn't want to keep playing cat and mouse.  At the first up hill, I pushed up to pass her and run alongside Jackie.  During this whole time, Meagan and Heather followed.  I had support from the crew!  We came through the second mile much faster but I forgot to look at my watch because I was too busy mentally preparing for the hill that was coming next.

As we entered mile 3, there is a big hill that I seemed to bound over quite effortlessly and I could feel that I had dropped the pack of 5 women, including Jackie and Meagan.  After I crested the hill, the pack returned, with me as the leader.  I can't remember if Jackie took the lead again for a little bit here, but then another uphill came along and, again, I gained distance on the other ladies.  

As we entered mile 4, I had created a small gap on Meagan and Jackie, but eventually I couldn't hear Jackie much anymore and could feel someone up alongside my left shoulder again.  I was 99% certain it was Meagan because I've run with her long enough to recognize her breathing but I wanted to make sure, so around 3.5 miles I turned slightly, discovered it was her, and said Let's go.  Or something like that.  Apparently my words of encouragement were caught by the wind and were blown past Meagan's ears so she missed it.  

As we rounded a turn just before the 4 mile mark, Jordan was there to cheer us on and he said "it only takes one move."  So Jordan is my good friend, but he is Meagan's boyfriend and has a social obligation to cheer for her victory.  So while I was racing, I deduced that he was implying that it only takes one move for Meagan to beat me.  In my mind, I registered this so I twisted his words to be directed at me, which would change the meaning to "it only take one move to break Meagan."  Meagan is one of my best friends in Charlotte and is also my training partner that I haven't ever actually beaten in a race, so I knew that it would be really tough for me to actually break her.  

Another hill presented itself to us, and I pushed hard up it and couldn't feel Meagan on my shoulder anymore.  You would think that I would have felt this huge rush of relief, but with the way the rest of the race had played out, I was half expecting her to come barreling past me with this phenomenal 800m kick.  

After that final uphill, I pushed even harder on the downhills and continued to expand my gap on Meagan and Jackie but wasn't sure as to how much.  With about 600 meters left, as I turned into the stadium, I glanced back behind me to gauge how much I was going to need to kick.  Someone helped me out and said, "you've got at least 7 seconds on them!" I circled the outfield and felt immense relief as I began to feel confident that I was not going to get passed right on the finish line.  

I crossed the line in 28:09, and Meagan followed just five seconds behind, and Jackie two seconds behind her.  Meagan fought hard in those final 400m to edge out the 16:34 Jackie.  Does that mean that Meagan and I could run a 16:34 on the track right now?  I guess we'll just keep on guessing!  Heather Magill followed closely behind in 28:42, and Lucinda Hull running 28:45 to round out the top five.  

Meagan and I congratulated the other ladies and made our way to the watermelon.  We were both pretty happy that we had achieved our goals and that we both had run really tough.  Both of us really stuck our noses out there to compete well against some great runners.  I was really proud of us for pushing each other to the limit and not letting the large number of women around us freak us out.  

John ran 25:15, good for second place, but was a little bummed about his time.  He was definitely hoping to run sub-25 but it just wasn't his day.  He was happy about the $300 and the lifetime PR!

As I was grabbing my watermelon, Garrett's parents popped out of NOWHERE and surprised me by coming to cheer during the race!  Ann even took pictures of the race, which you can see below.  It was really nice of them to come say hi before they headed on to Boone for Father's Day.  

Meagan and I, the social butterflies that we are, rounded up Jackie, Heather, and Molly to join us for a cool down together.  John joined as well and we enjoyed a 9:00 minute paced cool down.  Thinking that we had all the time in the world, we barely made the award presentation. 

Before long, it was time to head home.  Total swag for the Charlotte runners:  $1100.
A little over 3 miles, Meagan and I 
John somewhere


Doug said...

Congrats on your race. Those are great splits!

jwoods said...

Nice job! I had a great view of the action from behind. Keep up the good work!

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