Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Trinity River Levee Run - Bling!

Oh my, where to start?  The first 10k for Angelia?  The first 5k for myself?  Bling for 2?  Nope, the story of the Trinity River Levee Run put on by Dallas Running Club starts with the weather.  Old man winter had moved along and we had started to acclimate to nice 70 degree days, but apparently he felt an additional challenge was needed.  Temps plummeted and winds accelerated overnight leaving us with race-time conditions of 43 degrees with 20+ mph winds.  Ugh.  This provided an extra challenge for me as I only recently started running and had only run indoors or in nice weather .... and in just shorts and a tech shirt.  Suddenly I was pulling out the tights and a base layer I used during winter cycling and hoping I could run comfortably in them.  Being cold was not an option and if I ended up too warm I figured I could gut it out for the relatively short duration of a 5k.  Angelia had done plenty of cold runs so she had a grasp on how to handle it herself but like me she has a distinct hatred for the wind.  This was going to be interesting.

There was no wave start at this event - 10k'ers and 5k'ers lined up together.  Even though we both tried to convince Speedy (aka Julian) that he and I should start nearer the front, he was dead set on starting next to his mom.  Naturally, as he'll learn, this created a very awkward start for us as we had to do a lot of horizontal weaving around other runners.  Actually I had lost Julian for a bit and found out later that another runner had stepped on his shoe popping it right off his foot.  Apparently he ran alongside Angelia with shoe in hand before getting it back on and catching up to me.  The first third of a mile was basically a traffic jam running uphill before we spread out and found our groove.  As we ran down Levee Road the wind was at our backs which was nice, but this was an out and back course for the 5k so we all knew what was coming.  I kept telling Julian he could run his pace, that his Grandma and brother were at the finish line, but he seemed content to stick by my side.  I was fine with that for the moment but I saw some kids ahead and didn't want Julian to miss out on awards because he was pacing Daddy so I reminded him from time to time.

These babies will need some lace-locks before the duathlon.
As we approached the turnaround the race was going pretty well, my pace was decent but left some room for me to push harder on the back half.  Except the wind meant that pushing harder didn't exactly equate to going faster.  I essentially maintained my pace after the turnaround but my heartrate elevated a fair amount.  Around this time my shoe came untied.  I ignored it at first because I spotted Angelia running the opposite direction.  She seemed to be running well, waved, and announced to Julian that were 2 kids ahead of him.  Once again I told him he was free to go catch them but he hung back with me.  At least he kept going while I stopped to tie my shoe.  Oops! That was 15 seconds lost.  I had thought to rip one glove off while running before stopping to tend to my laces but I really should have taken off both.  The simplest tasks are slowed by the wearing of gloves.

A half-mile to go, pace is holding steady, heartrate in the 170s, and we can see one of the other kids ahead.  Julian still refuses to attack.  Suddenly, we see the other kid come into view and they are side by side.  This time I make it very clear - "Julian, see that turn there?  That's the last turn, then it's over the bridge and down to the finish line.  If you have anything left go get them now."  And with that he starts to pull away from me.  Not in a hurried sprint but in a very controlled fashion.  As he makes the final turn he is gaining but still clearly in 3rd.  Then up the hill he makes the pass.  For a brief moment all three boys are running abreast.  Julian crests the hill ahead of them and they can't match it.  In the span of a quarter-mile he goes from third place to a win by 33 seconds!  After running with me for about 2.7 miles he still ended up beating me by 47 seconds.  Show off!
Julian had just passed the kid behind him before the crest of the hill.  Look at that gap now!

At this point I had no idea about our times as I forgot to stop my watch and neglected to look at the finish line clock.  Oh well, we hydrated, I had a breakfast taco and a banana, and we went back to the car to warm up.  Smartly, we had packed some warm-up suits so we were able to add on a layer before checking on the awards ceremony and watching for Angelia's 10k finish.  There was a lot of excitement around the finish as the local police and fire departments were having a battle for bragging rights (the firefighters took home the prize).  Then a case of unfortunate timing --- the 5k awards were being presented and I expected Angelia at any moment.  I spot her coming over the hill as they are announcing the Girls 14&Under awards.  No doubt Boys 14&Under would be next but I wasn't going to let Angelia finish her first 10k with none of us there to greet her.  I jogged over to the finish just in time to see her cross the line.  She looks down at her watch and is a combination of exhausted and excited - a feeling many endurance athletes can relate to.  She took 6 minutes off her time - a full minute per mile!  I congratulate her and in the same breath tell her to hurry and follow me.

As we make our way back to the stage the announcement is made for Boys 14&Under with Julian taking the expected 1st place honors.  Official time was 27:34, good for 26th overall out of 169 5k'ers.

So there we were - Angelia smashed her 10k time, Julian took home some bling, and I had completed a 5k in respectable fashion.  No expectations of bling for me as Men's 35-39 is a tough group.  Still, we hung around for a second because I was curious about the times.  First place was announced with a time of 22 minutes flat.  Not quite as fast as I expected but it still crushes me.  2nd place was then announced with a time of 28:21.  Wait a minute ..... that's in my range ..... that is me!  Wow, how did I end up with bling?  Well with 528 finishers in the 10k and only 169 in the 5k I'm guessing the majority of the serious runners were doing the 10k.  Fine by me.  I'm not delusional, I know my opportunities for bling will be rare.  With that we walked back to the car, off to get a real meal, all happy with our races.

Post-race stat review: 28:21 wasn't quite what I was shooting for (was looking for sub-27), but considering the intense wind I was pleased with that result.  Now, I am fully aware that a 5k race never ends up being exactly 5k because of things like navigating the crowd at the beginning, being unable to take perfect lines through corners, etc. but that also means that 28:21 is a bit nebulous.  There's no real basis for comparison.  Thankfully my stat-hungry engineering mind has SportTracks to turn to, and more specifically - the Record Book plug-in.  Here's what I saw:

Columns are Speed, Pace, AvgHR, Start Time, Distance, Time
Yep, over an actual 5k distance I had crushed my previous best and even succeeded in meeting my sub-27 goal (and that still includes my 15-second shoe tying stop).  You'll notice 2nd and 3rd on this list are classified as jogs.  This was the first time I sustained a higher effort running for any longer than 5 minutes (heck, including this race I've run a grand total of 35 miles).  I really had no idea what my "race pace" would be.  In the end I think I got it just about right.  Heartrate was at 172 (95% max), cadence was steady at 86.4rpm, and pace was slightly higher in the last 1.5 miles - even with the headwind.

I'm curious to see what I could do with a stronger start and more cooperative weather, but that will have to remain a mystery.  My sights are now set on the Beauty and the Beast ride on March 26th and the Fast & Furious Duathlon on April 3rd.  Angelia and Julian will be running the Green Door 5k while I'm riding up the Beast and we're all doing the duathlon.  Should be a fun month!

No comments: