Sunday, January 2, 2011

My VERY Exciting New Year! (and race report)

I hope that I got your attention with the title of this blog entry, but unfortunately it is hard to convey sarcasm in text.

This year I had two of my favorite past times competing against each other. I wanted to have a few beers to celebrate the New Year but I also wanted to run a 10k race that was practically in my back yard.

I spent this new year's eve hanging out on the couch with my lovely wife and daughter. My daughter is only two years old so she only made it to about 9:30PM. She is such a lightweight.

Since I was the only one drinking this year, I decided to treat myself to a Southern Tier Brewing Company Mix 12 pack and instead of champagne for the midnight toast I bought a 22oz bottle of one of my favorite beers, Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye Ale.

Southern Tier is a pretty decent brewery in Upstate New York near the Pennsylvania border. I like the mix 12 pack quite a bit because of the variety. The IPA is probably the best in the pack, but the Phin & Matt's ale is also pretty good. The pack is rounded out with a pale ale and a wheat beer both which were decent quality beers. Another reason I like Southern Tier is that even their beer that is just ok is much better than a lot of other beers of the same style that is out there.

Bear Republic is one of the best breweries in the US. I am a huge fan of their Racer 5 beer. I am such a sucker for beers made with rye malt. The rye blends so well with the bitterness of the hops and makes a full bodied well rounded beer.

I tried to take it easy since I was going to run a 10 k the following morning so I only had about 8 beers, one of which was 22 oz. Ok so that is not taking too easy. I don't usually drink that much the night before a race, but I had been doing work around the house and you need to drink beer when doing construction projects!

I had a slight hangover on new years morning but I dragged myself to the race anyway. It turns out that the race course was a route that I ran quite regularly. This was somewhat of a strange race because they started a 5k at the same time as the 10k. The races were both out and backs, they just had a turn round for the 5k closer than the turn around for the 10k.

Since the race was on new Years day in New England, most of the runners were serious runners. There were probably 100 people running. It was an unseasonably warm day around 40 degrees out.

I ran into an old high school cross country team mate of mine who now lives in North Carolina. He is in much better shape than I am and actually finished in about 42 minutes, good enough for 5th place overall!

The race is a long slow climb with only about 150 feet of elevation. I started out pretty strong but I had trouble pacing myself because of all the 5k runners I probably started a little too fast. I think my first mile was 7 minutes. It was quite a mental ride to see people coming back when I had barely past the 1 mile mark. but these were the 5k runners. I still felt pretty strong and was catching and passing people at this point. I felt like I had a good stride and was doing a great job controlling my breathing. I passed the 5k turn around and laughed at all the people turning around because i realized how I tricked myself into a faster start. My shins started to cramp a bit around 2 1/2 miles but I pushed through. I got another boost when I was within sight of the three mile mark when the leaders passed me on their way back and I saw my friend Jamie in about 7th place.

It was about this time that other runners were starting to pass me. i could feel myself slowing down and my shins were burning. I wanted to stop running but I new that if I did I would be done for. I somehow managed to keep going. Around 4.5 miles I was passed by an older guy who gave some words of encouragement. He kindly reminded me that after 5 miles it was mostly downhill. After he blew past me, he suddenly stopped and started to walk. I then quickly passed by him am the 5 mile mark. I got another burst of energy and increased my pace with the assistance of the downhill slope.

There was a big gap between me and the next person and by now the older guy I just passed had also started running again and I immediately thought about something I had read recently, that being in the lead was a very vulnerable position. I worried that with how much my legs hurt I wouldn't be able to hold of the older guy right who was now right behind me.

I needed a small victory so I told myself that there was about one mile left and I was not going to have a slow finish. So with the older man's footsteps in my ear I picked up my pace. My legs reminded me that they were still there. I leaned back a bit more to straighten my stride out and then came the biggest downhill of the course. I cruised down the hill and across the last intersection before the finish line. The finish line was about 3/4 of the way around an arch driveway in front of the school where the race started. As soon as I entered the driveway I broke into my sprint. I was waiting to be passed by the guy who was on my heels. I was running out of steam but kept me pace. I peaked over my shoulder and the guy who had been on my heels was not in my sight. When I looked back I saw the clock and I saw 53:15. I reminded myself how I wanted to finish strong and decided I needed to finish before 53;30, so I gave it all I had to achieve my new goal. I cruised across the finish line to a group of people who complemented my strong finish. It felt good that the organizers of the event thought I looked good in my finish. My official time was exactly 53:30.

Overall it was a pretty good race for me. close to a personal record for me and 2 1/2 minutes faster than my last 10K. I wonder if I could have done better if I was properly hydrated and nourished (i.e. no hangover) I guess we will never know.

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