Back on the roads this week, hammering out 13.1 miles on rolling country roads. This was race number 5 in the MDRA Grand Prix for 2012, and I was hoping to move up in the standings a little with a strong run. Quaint small-town setting, complete with a DJ spinning either classic 70s rock tunes or old Czech polka songs – with the latter seeming to get a better rise out of the crowd. Pretty funny.
I’d been coughing just a bit earlier in the week, so I knew I would have to hold back a bit in the early miles to save some precious energy for later in the race. The day was pretty ideal for running, no real wind and cloudy skies for the first hour, with temperatures in the mid-50s and slowly rising. The course itself was a bit boring, just a big old loop outside of town on very straight country roads. Lots of rolling hills, nothing steep, with a few that seemed to go on forever. One of those races where you can see everyone ahead of you for miles (which can be a bit discouraging, I must admit). When faced with uninteresting courses, I think you have three main choices:
- Hate it and stress over it.
- Tune out, ignore the course, focus on your running.
- Tune out completely, daydream, lose focus.
I prefer choice number two, and I do my best in that regard. It allows me to run negative splits and maintain form better throughout the race. The other two choices lead to poorer performances, at least for me. Your experience may be quite different, if so post a comment below.
I was sitting about 14th place during the first half mile of the race, but as we turned up the first long rise, I quickly glided up into 10th. I sat there for about 3 miles, running just over 6:30 pace and feeling slightly uncomfortable doing it. Not a great sign, but I also know that when I’m tired it can often take me a good 20 minutes of racing before I get into any kind of groove. I started feeling it around the 3.5 mile mark, and I ran pretty strong through 10 miles, passing a couple of runners along the way and holding sub 6:20 pace. The final 5k was a bit of a slog, although I was still running in the mid-6:20s, I was working a lot harder than I’d been only a couple miles earlier. Like I said, tired.
There was little reason to kick it in at the end, as I was completely isolated for the last 3 miles. So I just maintained as best I could and crossed the line in 1:23:49 (chip time), good enough for 8th overall and 2nd in my age group. I’m still just getting to know folks around here, so it’s tough for me to judge how I’m *really* doing, but I’ll take a good strong race any day.
I’ve moved up into 4th place overall in the MDRA Grand Prix, at least for now. I won’t be running 2 out of the next 3 races, so by total points I’ll slide way back down over the next month. You don't need to run all of the races, of course, only your top 10 out of 14 races count at the end of the year. If I can manage to run enough races, it will all even out a bit (although I might not make 10 races this year, 9 seems more likely, so I need to look carefully at the calendar again). It’s fun just to track how I’m doing against others, even if I haven’t met any of them just yet!
I’m a bit sore today, that’s what 13 miles of pavement will do to you. A couple of recovery days and we’ll see how I’m feeling then.