Thunderbird Races

I don’t think I will ever learn.  No matter how much I plan or what steps I take to control it, unless shackled I will go faster than I should in a race.  But that is for later.

Last night, Christine and I headed back to St. Francisville to run Forge Racing‘s Thunderbird Moonlight 6K.  We did this race last year and besides freezing our asses off, we had a blast.  This year provided the fun but left out the freezing temperatures.  A new twist on the run was some extreme allergy issue that sucked the oxygen out of Christine’s lungs.  It made for an interesting last couple of miles, but she managed to hang on for the age group win!

Yep, she is undefeated at the Moonlight 6K!

2011 Age Group Champ 2012 Age Group Champ

 

I am sure you have noticed that I am not in the 2012 picture.  Yes, you guessed it.  I lost.

Anyway, it was a blast running through the woods in the dark with headlamps only.  Very good training for the night portion of Rocky Raccoon.  Except, I will be the one dying and not Christine!

On Sunday morning, I headed back up to St. Francisville to run the half marathon.  This time I was joined by Susan, Pat-O, Juba and Burke.  My plan: go very easy on the first lap and then run solid for the second lap.  This is purely for training, so I just wanted to get some time on the trails.

Do you remember a few weeks ago when I tried to incorporate a race into my training routine? (Hint: see here.)  This race had similar results.  I started out towards the back of the pack with Juba & Pat-O right on my heels.  Burke was somewhere out front.  As soon as we hit the trails themselves, I realized I was running with some fast folks.  This trail is very tight and twisty, so once you are in the line you better go.  Either that or you must step aside and let 1000 people pass you.  Not.

The younger runner in front of me was setting a quick pace, so when he passed someone the whole group did.  I could hear Juba & Pat-O (young speed demons) still right behind me, so I pressed on.  We caught Burke and went by him and then I realized I was being stupid again.

Okay, I could either fully commit and power on or ease back and drift back through the pack.  Have you ever been on Interstate and had some asshole shove his way past you only to pull in front of you and slow down?  That’s why I drive a SUV.  I shove back.  But I had the same mentality during the run.  If I pulled over now and eased up, then I was THAT ASSHOLE!

Full commitment.  I started passing folks as they drifted back to me.  I didn’t ease off the throttle and figured I would just trash myself during the first loop.  I continued passing runners until about half a mile into the second loop.  And then I was all alone.  Literally.  There was no one in front of me and no one behind me.  It was eerie.  And it also had me wondering if I were on the wrong trail.  I would see other runners on other trails, but the entire course consisted of 1000 switchbacks.  So I just kept running.

I set my goal for the second loop to pass at least one person and to not be passed at all.  So that meant I had to catch someone.  While looking for some suitable prey, I looked around a little too much.  That means I didn’t look at the trail enough.  Next thing I know I was looking at the sky.  No injuries.  I jumped up, looked around to make sure no one saw me and headed down the trail a little muddier.

With less than 2 miles to go, I finally caught two other runners.  They offered to let me pass, but I was a little gassed.  And then they took off and almost left me!  For some odd reason, they stopped at the aid station for water with less than a quarter mile to go.  Sorry, but see ya!  I bolted and crossed the finish line with a time of 2:01.  Not bad for a “training run”.  I actually ended up 6th overall male which was a shock.

I was very pleased with my race especially since I ran it in 2:20 last year.  But that is where I have a dilemma.  I am definitely much faster this year running many of my long runs in the 8-9 minute range.  But for Rocky Raccoon, I will be running 12-15 minute miles.  My strength and power is definitely up, but I am unsure about my long slow endurance.  I guess like I have said many times before…….this is an experiment of one.

Maybe for my next long run I will go slower.

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