Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Race Review- Syracuse 70.3 Run

There's something I forgot to tell you in my last post... As I was finishing the 56 mile bike ride around the southeastern suburbia of Syracuse... As I was crossing my legs while attempting to run through transition... As I was finally starting to regain feeling in my temperature numb toes... The first place dude crossed the line. Granted, he started a good 35 minutes ahead of me, but it kinda sucked that I still had 13.1 miles left to run and he was now a 70.3 half-Ironman Champion. Congrats to Bart.

As I started to run, my thoughts drifted back on a couple of racing details. First, I have not made it past mile 8 without significant discomfort. Second, one of the main reasons that I bomb on the run is because of a pacing problem. Third, I had no idea what this course entails. Fourth, I am completely inexperienced at this distance. Translation: I was ready for this.

My HIM goal was to achieve my IM desired pace of 8:30. I wanted to practice this pace and be assured that I could do it. Since the short season, I have been trying to get faster and faster (with marginal success). However, racing long distance is a completely different beast than the nice 5k offered up at the sprint distance races.

The course was sort of lasso shaped. You ran from transition down the handle of the lasso. At the start of the hoop, you turned left and did 2 laps. After your second lap you ran back down the handle of the lasso to the finish line. At one point, you had to stop and wrestle a cow. Don't worry, it wasn't a full grown cow. It was more of an adolescent calf. Regardless, it wasted valuable running time and was much more challenging after the swim and bike. (Granted- I may have delusional around this time.)

I wanted to ensure a good run, which meant focusing on pace and holding back a bit early in the run. Given that I had a goal pace of 8:30 per mile, I had recently been reading up on how to pace these things. The idea is to start out at about 30 seconds faster than your goal pace. In these events, you are most likely to slow down regardless of how you feel. Naturally my first mile out the block was a 7:24. Not very smart. If you are an avid reader, you'd know that this is the story of my life. In my defense, the first mile or so was a bit of a decline.
It was right around the end of the lasso/ mile 1 where I caught Monica. I didn't know it at the time but she would define the rest of my run. I started off our triathlon run-leg relationship with a nice, "I have to believe that you are doing quite well in this race." My words spoken to Monica. I postulated that since I was having a pretty good race, any on the ladies that were in a similar position were front of the female pack. Again, I'm not that smart.

We (Monica and I) ran together for a short distance. Remember that I was not very familiar with the course. Monica took it upon herself to educate me. She told me of the 2 big hills on the course: one at mile 2 and one at mile 3. We had to do these hills twice in the lasso loops. I thanked her for the information and we ran together for quite some time. She asked me if I gunning to beat her. (I was.) I simply responded, "Maybe, but really I am motivated by you." (I was.)

After the first hill, Monica and I ran step to step. When we made it to the second big hill, Monica stopped to walk. I walked during IMLP and hated it. I wanted to run. I trudged up this hill without stopping. See ya later Mon.

Of course, Monica was a competitor. It didn't take her long to catch up. Not only did she catch up, she took the lead. I believe that I was better on the hills. I was going up faster than her. I have a downhill running strength. It seemed that Monica was better on the flats. She was clearly the better runner between miles 7-8 when my pace had slowed to 8:21 and 8:00 respectively. Good paces yes. But not Monica good.

But, my skills seem to be better at the inclines. Further, I seemed to be inspired by the push and pull of gravity. By the time we finished the first incline, I had caught her and were running together again. By the time we hit the 2nd hill, she was walking up the hill and I was still stubborn. Mile 9 dropped to a 7:51. Mile 10 was a 7:29. Mile 11 was 7:31. I was confident that, since the last 2 splits were my fastest since the first mile, Monica was long gone behind me. Wow am I an idiot.

Right around mile 11.5, she passed me. She shouted out words of encouragement as went by. It worked. I was encouraged. I didn't let her get too far ahead and soon we were running side by side like old chums. I was feeling great, which (I am assuming) is the fault of the male ego gene. I had determined that I had to win my personal battle against this amazingly fast and congenial female. At mile 12.5 I had a commanding 30 second lead, which (I am assuming) was because Monica was running out of steam. By mile 13, I was pretty sure that I would finish this 13.1 mile run without walking. I picked up the pace.

When all was said and done, I had a 1:42.41 half marathon. This equates to a 7:50 mile pace; much better than I had hoped/ predicted. My overall time in the race was a 5:08.29. This was good for 18th place in my age group. I was 106th place with the pros and 75th without. I had a race that I could be proud of.

On a neutral note, I had indeed beaten Monica. I only know this because I finished ahead of her and waited gallantly at the finish for her to finish. She deserved my gratitude and I gave it to her. I didn't pay attention to my time versus hers. I really don't pay attention to such things. People who do so are generally egotistically, male chauvinistic pigs. They have no respect for the fairer gender, especially when they base their self-worth off of beating girls. So, I have no idea that I had beaten all of the non-professional ladies in this race minus one. Not a single clue. Knowing such things would make me less of a person. Plus, Monica was a significantly larger winner than me. She was 3rd place female. Not age group. Overall (if you discount the pros, which I do). She qualified for the 2012 World Championship 70.3 in Vegas. She has already qualified for Kona (a feat that has been relegated to my dreams). As I hypothesized at the beginning of the run/ post, Monica was indeed doing well in this race. She is a great triathlete and I had the pleasure of running with her for much of the race.

I have been redeemed. My swim was slower than expected. My bike was spot on. My run was about 4 minutes slower than my open half marathon at the beginning of the season. When I got done with the race and analyzed my performance, exactly 3 words came to mind. "I kicked ass!"

Will I do this race again next year? Unsure. There is a rumor that Syracuse 70.3 will be moved up in the season. They are contemplating June or July. Since I have committed to Ironman Lake Placid 2012, this might be an ideal tune-up race or a too-close-to-the-big-day-to-race situation. If they decide to keep it in mid-September, the odds of me repeating will greatly increase.

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