Not much more to say than last week was full of PRs. The last couple races had gone very well, and my mileage has been in the 70's for several weeks now. The 79 miles I ran last week were my most in nearly two years. That wasn't the end, though. I was almost keeping pace with last week throughout this week...and on Tuesday (as I'd posted that day) I ran an all-time best 5k on the treadmill. 15:36! But that was not the end. After a warm-up, the treadmill pr, and a few minutes recovery jog, I was able to add 5 x 400 at (slighly) faster than race pace before calling it a day. Hoping to continue that monentum, I did a 10 mile tempo run in 58 minutes the following day, sandwiched in-between a 1.6 mile warm-up, and a 1.5 mile cool-down. Needless to say, that was one of my more encouraging 2 day stretches in a loooong while. Thursday was ho-hum, and Friday's 12 miles weren't any faster than usual, but it felt a helluva lot easier both during and after. Saturday's pre-race run was a half run (5 1/2 miles) and felt easy as well. That's not always the case, as it should be.
So come race day, hopes were sky high, but we've all had great races on days you feel like crap, and crap races on days you feel great, so I was cautiously optimistic. Dave and I had a good meal the night b4 at Noodles and Co., and got a good night's rest in Rancho Cordova. We were even disciplined enough to only watch a half hour of The Hangover before calling it a night. Dave was running the half at 7:00 a.m., and I was running the 5k 15 minutes later, so we were up and on the road to Woodbridge at 5:30.
Cool venue for a race. The races started and finished on a country road in front of the winery, which had lots of grass and benches and picnic tables to kick back on and relax with a glass of vino. I was warming-up when the half started, and got to the line for the 5k a couple minutes before the start. If I was going to get under 16, this was the course. Flat as a pancake, with two mile-and-a-half straightways. Heck, even the roads themselves were built for speed...blacktop (softer than concrete) and not a single pot-hole, divit, etc...
The gun went off and I settled into a pre-planned pace in 2nd place. I took the lead a quarter mile in, and never looked back. Mile 1...5:05. Half-way...7:53-54, 180 turn, still feeling good, but doing the math in my head. I could run a 8:06 2nd half and still break 16. That's 8 seconds per mile slower. Would I slow down that much? That's actually been my problem during my recent close-but-no-cigar attempts...5:05-06 first mile, then I'd fade several seconds over the next 2 miles. The Rock-N-River 10k served as a mental breakthrough for me, though. It was the first time this year my road time was close to my treadmill time, and it was followed up by the mud run, which was significantly faster than the previous year, so...no breakdown this time around. I had a comfortable lead at the turn, so as long as I didn't completely fall apart, the race was in the bag, but to hit my goal, I'd have to push. Mile 2...5:05 again. Feeling it now, but no cramping or stomach issues, and only a mile to go now. I'd break it up into landmarks...ok...get to that telephone pole and there's only 0.7 to go. I was just guessing, but it kept me distracted. When I saw the final turn (and the finish) approaching, I tried to muster a kick, but I was already pretty close to maxing out. However, mile 3 (take a guess)...5:05! I've never run 3 even miles before, even on the track. I came across the line in the high 15:40's, which turned out to be a new PR (and course record) of 15:46.5 - 4 seconds faster than I've ever gone in a race!! Now that's what I'm talking about.
I gotta say, after 2 races in the new heavier Nike Lunaracers, I'm beginning to think the extra arch support & cushioning just might cancel out the extra weight (but I found a new pair of the lighter original just to be sure). Anyhoo, I got in a 5 mile cooldown with Gerardo Alcala, a 19 year old soon to be freshman at Delta College who placed third in his first race in a while. The miles flew by while we were talking and at the 12 mile aid station, a ginormous black dog decided to run with us for a couple miles (he'd end up all the way back at the winery an hour or so later, getting love from several hundred people). All in all, a 5 mile cooldown. We'd seen the leaders of the half out there as well. Rich Hanna (who's company did the timing) set a new course record of 1:13:25 (5:36 pace), followed by Fred Z from Reno at 1:16:10. Both of these guys are masters runners, by the way. Rich is 45 and fresh off a freakin' 2:33 marathon at Big Sur, and Fred (who won the Bizz Johnson Marathon last fall at age 49) will be 50 before his next race. That's right, holy crap! I jogged back out on the course with Fred til we saw his wife, Deb, and ran them back in. Her goal was to crack a 1:40, and her official time was a 1:39:58. Way to go, Deb!
Somehow I got suckered into going on Fred & Barry's cooldown, but I only ran with them back to mile 12, then sat on the tailgate of the truck at the aid station with yet another dog, and waited for Dave. He came along not long after, and I ran with him over the last mile or so. He was able to cut nearly 8 minutes off his RNR time, and ran a 2:14:31. All that cooling down gave me yet another high...my first 80 mile week since 2008! I wasn't expecting that, but I'll take it. We hung out with everyone for a while, had a few samples of wine, and collected more wine for the overall & age group wins. We headed south to Stockton for more food at Valley Brewing Co, before the trek home. As usual with Capital Road Race, there were no issues of any kind. Of course, I wanted to be sure about the course, and USATF and Map My Run both have it right at 3.10. Sweet! I also like to see who my competition is, so I looked up 2nd place on zinsli and got a bit of perspective. His most recent 5k listed was a 16:11. My last one was a 16:08. Different courses, but still. Yesterday he was 33 seconds (10-11 per mile) behind. His most recent race was the 12k from Sausalito to SF, which he ran in 41:21. Hmm...I ran that course in 2001 before any surgeries...in 41:22. That just served to make me feel even better about the day, and hopeful for the future. Today (as has been the case lately) my muscles feel mostly recovered already, while a few joints (right knee, hip, achilles) are a little cranky. As long as they don't get worse, the bar for 2010 keeps going up, and I'm enjoying every minute of it.
Sorry...my lovely wife Abby was not present and therefore there are no pictures. I'll link to the official race photos when they're posted.
Next up (for me and Hannah) is the Veggie Chase trail 5k on the 23rd.
http://www.capitalroadrace.com/results/2010_AOTV_5K_OVL.HTM results, 5k
http://www.capitalroadrace.com/results/2010_AOTV_HALF_OVL.HTM results, half
it doesn't get easier than this off the track (5k course map)...