Saturday, April 08, 2006


Subtitle: Who to believe? (or is it 'whom')

On Friday, Eric left me a message saying it would be calm for our race on Saturday. Then Evan left a comment saying that April was the windiest month of the year. Saturday morning, the first song I heard as I got in my car was “Against the Wind.”

I drove to Eric’s house and we carpooled about 70 miles to Rochester for my first ever 20k race. PR, baby – just for crossing the finish line. I’ve mentioned Minnesota’s racing circuit before that includes age-group ranking for meeting certain time standards. Well, odd distances, such as 20k, 25k and 30k, have much softer standards because there aren’t many races of those distances. Anyway, that means that while this was a fairly small (230 runners) race, lots of age-group studs come out in order to gain some points.

I have yet to reach any of the standards. The 20k standard for my age group is 1:17. McMillan calculates my last 8k to a 1:17:44, so I wasn’t planning on going after the standard today either. I mainly wanted to run a solid race and see how McMillan’s calculation held up for a longer race. As Evan said, a 20k is a better indicator of marathon performance than an 8k.

On the starting line, Dave (Jenna’s friend that I met 3 weeks ago) asked me what I was hoping to run. I told him 6:15-6:20 pace. He said that’s where he hoped to be too since that’s what he ran for 25k last weekend. Well, he went on to beat me by nearly 4 minutes.

So did I run well or not? Read on.

I’m happy to report that Eric’s forecast was correct. It was nearly perfect for April 8th; 40 degrees, sunny and nearly calm.

The gun goes off and we head over an overpass and people settle in pretty quickly. I plan on just running how I feel and not even worry about my watch. I never saw the first mile marker, so this strategy is already paying off. After reading Chelle’s report, I may never look at my watch again during a race. Just after 2 miles I pass the only guy that I’d pass all race. About this time, I finally start getting into a rhythm. At mile 3 I decide to start taking splits every 3 miles. I figure I want to have some sort of feedback afterwards to see if I went out too hard or too slow or to see where I died, etc.

At mile 4, the lead woman is about 20-30 seconds ahead of me. I figure if she’s still that far away at mile 8, I can reel her in. There is a little breeze on the course and somewhere between 4 and 6 there’s a nice tailwind and I push the pace. Coming back towards mile 7 into the wind, I back off a little.

I feel in total control, totally aware of what’s going on with my breathing, my stride, the wind, the gal in front of me and now the guy that’s coming back to her. I actually feel like I’m racing, whereas a typical half marathon is more like “hang on, hang on, okay now race.” It’s probably more mental than anything, but now I know I can be more aggressive in my future half marathons. And marathons?

At mile 8 I’m still feeling good and I start working a little more. The lead woman is still 20-30 seconds in front of me. She has now reached the guy in front of her and they’re working together. A half mile later I start to hear footsteps behind me. I admit, in the past I’ve let people pass me, unchallenged. I always seem to be happy with my race and convince myself to keep doing my own thing. Well today I tell myself that when this guys comes by, I’ll go with him

At this point the course takes a cruel turn. We have been heading back on the road we ran out on. It has an up and down hill section (obviously in both directions). Well, just when I got to the top of the hill and thought I was going to be heading back down, we took a right and kept climbing. Evan mentioned this to me when he described the course, but it was still cruel.

At mile 9 I sneak a peak at my watch. I figured if I was there around 55-56 minutes I could possibly get the 20k time standard. I see 56:44. Normally this would have been a letdown and I’d have given up. But I kept pushing and didn’t let the time phase me. Soon after 9 the guy behind me catches up and I go with him. I hang with him for about a half mile, but this guy is hauling. He’s not just going 5-10 seconds faster per mile than me; he’s going 20-25 seconds faster per mile.

With 3 miles to go, I back-off and let him go. He goes on to beat me by 69 seconds. He put 23 freaking seconds a mile on me and it wasn’t because I was slowing down. In fact, my final 3 miles were my fastest. My guess is that he was using the first 8 miles as a training run and then he kicked it in.

Nothing exciting happened the rest of the way. The lead woman continued to work with another guy and I never got any closer than 30 seconds. Here are my splits;

19:07 (including the cruel uphill)
18:32 (un-cruel downhill)
1:17:57 (6:17 pace)

So I missed my time standard by 57 seconds, but I’m okay with that. I’m really happy with my race and glad that I only missed my McMillan time by 13 seconds. That bodes well for my marathon. Eric ended up running 1:20:29. Complete results can be found here.

Quote of the day:
“I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.” Mike Fanelli, club coach


Trisaratops said...

Great job!!! Sounds like a tough race that was raced well, to me. I like that quote--will have to remember that come Saturday! And, BTW, my Tribe swept your Twins this weekend. hee hee :)

Chad said...

Thanks Sara.

Who are the Twins? :-)

UMaine Cooperative Extension said...

Zeke, well done!

If it's any consolation, the Rochester (NY) Redwings, the Twins' Triple-A affiliate won yesterday.

Unknown said...

Nice race, Zeke. Are you going to look at your watch during Grandma's?

Chad said...

Ummm, that doesn't count Marc, but thanks for trying to cheer me up.

Brian, I haven't decided yet. When I ran my PR I looked at the first 3 splits and then didn't look again until halfway. Maybe I'll go with that approach.

The thing is, I'm pretty good about pacing. I don't need the added pressure of the watch telling me how I should or shouldn't feel.

E-Speed said...

Nice job on the race. Don't you just love sand baggers that pass you in the final miles?

Unknown said...

fantastic race and report, zeke. congratulations on running it smart. it's events like this, when everything just clicks, that we have to make a point of calling back up for motivation.

mg said...

Good job! I ran this race for the 3rd time, and it's neat to read a report from someone so much faster than me. I didn't realize the AG ranking was why so many good runners came out; I'd been wondering what made this race so popular with the cities runners - makes much more sense now. You picked a good year to come down, since the last 2 years it has been really windy.

Chad said...

Liz, I done that a ton, so I guess it was time for some pay-back. The thing is, that guy was 37 and he met the standard by 12 seconds.

Thanks Jeff. As I told Eric, it was great to follow up my 8k with another solid effort. Everyone runs well at the first 8k of the year.

Thanks Marisa and congrats on your PR. Nice write up.

Duncan Larkin said...

Well done man. 6:17s for 20k ain't a walk in the park by anyone's standards. And 11th overall to boot. You are on a roll...keep it going. Grandma's sub 3 cookies are starting to rise in the oven. I smell them now...yummy.

Chad said...

But how are the 2:53 cookies doing?

edinburghrunner said...

Nice effort!

Duncan Larkin said...

I guess it comes down to how 15 more seconds per mile x 14 or so miles would feel. I'm sure someone has some prediction calculator on that.